A/N: Anyone ever move over Christmas holiday? It's ever so much fun. Maybe not as much "fun" as drowning sorrows with Sirius, but almost. Sigh. Travelling from the West to the East, I'll admit that I'm not looking forward to exchanging blue skies for grey clouds and snow, but I am looking forward to posting the sequel to 'Once in a Blue Moon' next Friday!
Everything and the Moon
Perhaps there was such a thing as being too much of a gentleman. Rubbing the back of his neck, sore from sleeping in a chair, Remus Lupin heard a soft snore and turned his head. Sprawled in the chair opposite, his drinking companion of the last several nights clutched an empty bottle of firewhiskey like a teddy bear. After days of keeping his problems to himself, Remus had finally confessed the ultimatum he'd given Tonks. He'd explained how she'd rushed headlong into danger and lied about her activities to keep him safe. Remembering Sirius' reaction to the end of the story, he huffed in reluctant amusement.
"Are you mental? The girl you're over the bloody moon about tells you to take her, she's yours, and you say 'No'?"
Defensively, Remus muttered after downing another shot, "I wanted the emotional commitment more than the physical."
The drink Sirius had just taken was promptly sprayed out. "Ruddy hell, you can't be that thick!" Propping an elbow on the table between them, he leaned forward to say, "Birds like Tonks don't go laying down for a bloke unless they care."
"Caring's not enough."
Pouring more whiskey, Sirius laughed shortly. "Merlin, that's ironic, coming from you. I remember Dorcas snivelling to Lily about the same exact thing."
Thinking about last night's drunken conversation, Remus admitted that only now did he see his long ago girlfriend's point. She'd wanted him to commit to being her partner, but he'd been unable to. As much as he'd cared about Dorcas, love and marriage were more than he'd been capable of giving. A thought struck that made him feel even more wretched. What if Tonks couldn't give him what he needed?
A whimpering sound brought his attention back to Sirius. Still asleep, the wizard muttered 'Cami' and gave another forlorn whine.
Rising slowly from his seat, Remus grimaced from the pain in his head and the realization that he wasn't the only one currently unlucky in love. The only affection Padfoot got was as Snuffles. The woman his mate wanted thought he was a dog- no pun intended.
Shuffling like an old man kept his head from pounding unbearably. By the time he'd weaved his way to the lavatory, the wizard couldn't decide which need was more pressing. His body was insisting Nauseous no More and Morning After potions be ingested while simultaneously demanding the toilet. After all needs were met, Remus felt human enough to brave looking in the mirror. He promptly wished he hadn't. Blood shot eyes stared back from a face that was heavily lined and deathly pale from late nights and liquor. Since he'd walked out of Tonks' flat, his hair had become shaggier and unkempt. Even his mother would've found him unlovable in this state.
"Drag your arse into the shower, mate, or shove over. I've got to piss."
The corners of Remus' mouth turned up as viewed the man who embodied the adage that there was always somebody who had it worse. Blearily, his mate warned, "If you use up all the hot water, though, I will finally commit the murder I was imprisoned for."
"Not to worry, I need cold to clear my head."
"Good, fix some food once you're out, its gone elevenses." Sirius shut himself in the water closet, while Remus stepped into the shower, fully clothed.
After frigid water brought his lethargic brain to life, he hastily changed the temperature to warm. While stripping off sodden clothes, Remus mumbled, "You could've stripped down Tonks' defences along with her clothing." Reaching for the soap, a memory came to mind.
Tonks sat beside him on her bed. She was recovering from their disastrous Halloween mission. Taking his hand, she pressed it against her cheek. She tried to smile, and his heart swelled at the gallant effort. He was more than happy to oblige when Tonks said, "Memories don't wash away. I want you to replace them."
Washing his hair, he wondered if a more intimate embrace would've helped Nymphadora let go of the past and realise the depths of her feelings. Would making love on Bonfire Night have made them stronger, or just made her run scared again? If he'd taken what she'd offered, would they be waking up in tangled sheets right now, skin against skin? Allowing second guesses to wash away with the soap, he disengaged the water charm and shook his head to remove both water and tormenting doubts.
Towelling off, Remus went into the bedroom, chuckling to hear a thud against the lavatory door. Sirius had found the clothes he forgot to remove from the shower. Pulling on an old, comfortable shirt and trousers, he returned to the lounge and opened a window to allow in much needed fresh air. The November day was cold but dry.
"Mr. Lupin! Good Morning!"
Leaning out, he looked down and saw his landlord standing below on the pavement. It was his customary place to read the Quibbler away from his wife's disapproving gaze. Gesturing at the corner shop located beneath Remus' flat, the man grinned. "Ambika has brought Masala Dosas for Tiffin. My children demand you come share them with us."
Before he could regretfully decline, two five year olds rushed out and called, "Bring Snuffles too! Bring Snuffles too!"
Patil laughed heartily. "Yes, yes, Mr. Snuffles, the magic dog, must join us, or my life will not be worth living."
Unable to hold out, Remus smilingly agreed to come down in a few minutes. Retracing his steps, he knocked on the lavatory door and said, "Hurry up, the Patils have offered to feed us."
Sirius bounded down the steps in Animagus form shortly afterwards. Tiffin, or a light meal, was never passed up. His coat was damp, but Aashi and Samy didn't care, hugging and petting the dog joyfully when the visitors joined the family at the table in the back room of the shop.
"He smells clean, like people shampoo," the little boy said, rubbing the top of the dog's head.
His sister, Aashi, pleaded, "May I bring Snuffles to show my play group?"
"They saw three dogs last week. The children don't need to see another," Mrs. Patil remonstrated gently.
"But Snuffles is a magic dog!" Samy and Aashi said together.
The boy appealed to his father, "Snuffles has the soul of a man. He is ever so smart, and can answer our questions with a shake of his head, or…"
Patil interrupted, "When I named you Samyak, I did not know the fate I was bestowing upon myself." Remus saw the smile the man tried to hide when he completed the rebuke. "I am always having to say…"
"Enough!" his children shrieked, falling into giggles, amused by the running joke about the boy's name.
Made from rice and lentil flour, the crepe like cuisine was crispy and stuffed with mashed potatoes lightly cooked and fried with onions and spices. The Masala Dosas were served with coconut chutney and very delicious. Snuffles made happy growl-y sounds as he inhaled a dozen dosas.
"I have never seen or heard an animal appreciate food as much as this one," Ambika declared with a pleased expression.
Remus smiled to himself. He'd thanked his hostess and praised her cooking, but Mrs. Patil, like most women, was won over by Sirius'…or Snuffles'…unabashed appreciation. While the children took turns feeding the magic dog a glass of tea with milk and sugar, their father said in an undertone, "This Tournament at Hogwarts, it will not be dangerous for the other students to watch, will it?"
The man's wife stood and began noisily clearing the table. Patil smiled sheepishly. "Ambika is not overly fond of our niece Parvati."
"That's 'cause she said Mum was a lesser incarnation of her namesake!" Aashi informed while leaning against the black dog's side.
"Mum said Parvati should have been named Minakshi, after the fish-eyed goddess!" Samy added, grinning.
Snuffles gave several woofs. The children begged to be allowed to play fetch in the garden. Shooing them off, their mother said apologetically, "I hope they have not given you a mistaken notion of our family." Her smile was strained as she continued, "We are very large and very close…spending every holiday together…and birthdays…amongst many other parties…yes, very, very close."
Remus didn't quite know how to respond, so he just nodded. When Ambika left the room, he said, "Mr. Patil…"
"Neil?" he repeated, before saying, "Pardon my surprise, and please, call me Remus."
"I enjoy the incredulity, actually." Against his dark skin, Neil's smile flashed white. "Neil means blue, which was my father's favourite colour." He chuckled. "You may have noticed the importance we place on the meaning of names." Changing the subject, Patil brought the topic back to Hogwarts. "So, Remus, the Tournament will be safe for Padma and Parvati?"
"Yes, of course, Dumbledore has things well in hand." The former professor wished he could believe that about Harry as well, but as Sirius had said repeatedly during the last few nights, too many odd happenings and disappearances were being ignored by the Ministry.
The men talked of recent events. Remus gently joked, "No articles from the Quibbler you'd like to share?" He thought the man would laugh, remembering the 'Triwizard Tournament or Twister Championship' headline they'd chatted about. Instead, the jovial face became sombre.
"They printed a most distressing article on werewolves. It was written by someone with no knowledge whatsoever and has shaken my trust in the paper." Brightening, Neil confided, "The Intruder is even more entertaining."
The children came back with Snuffles. Thanking the hospitable family who had never treated him as something dark and frightening, Remus returned upstairs with his 'pet'.
"You've got to get back with Tonks, old man. We haven't gone on a run in days and I'm getting out of shape. Those kids about did me in." Sirius dropped into a chair and moaned, "Beer…must…have…beer."
Opening the coolant spelled cabinet, Remus tossed a bottle and withdrew a pitcher of water to pour himself a glass.
"Not wanting a bit of the hair of the dog that bit you, mate?"
His friend's bark of laughter made Remus admit wryly, "My drinking nights are over, Sirius. I've felt sorry for myself long enough. I'm going to have faith that Tonks will come to me soon."
"Moony, you're a good man. So good, in fact, that while you're picking up my order of ferrets from that bloke in Knockturn Alley and delivering them to Buckbeak, I'll be closing my eyes in order to better focus on all the ways you're such a fine example of wizardhood."
"Wizardhood? Is that a word?"
Unable to argue what the Marauders had called 'Black logic'; Remus left the flat to complete a few errands. After seeing to Buckbeak, he stopped by Charing Cross Road. He had no work to require his presence, but his father's old friend had owled and asked him to come in.
The rare bookshop was doing a brisk business. The proprietor, Andrew Hopkins, looked up from the sale he was making at the counter and smiled. "Good afternoon, Mr. Lupin. I will be with you in my office in a few moments."
Puzzled by the formal tone, Remus inclined his head in acquiescence and strolled to the back of the shop. A few regular customers met his gaze and turned away. With a sinking feeling, he continued on until reaching the office.
"I'm afraid I'm a bearer of bad news, Remus." The older man's smile was pained as he entered and took his seat behind the desk. Blue eyes lacked their customary twinkle as the silver haired wizard explained, "Someone is using that scurrilous Quibbler article to spread the word you are not to be trusted, as werewolves are known to be deeply involved in Dark arts. Yesterday afternoon, the client you'd hoped would request another translation stopped by to ask that I pass on his decision to use the services of another."
It was a blow. Remus had anticipated spending the funds for translating Ovid's Tristia, sad poems, on a lavish Christmas present for Tonks. A bitter thought arose. I won't need a present if I don't have a partner. Refusing to give into negativity, he said to the man waiting, "I'm sorry to hear that."
"As was I, my friend."
"I suppose this means I'll be looking for a new line of work, once again."
Andrew's nod conveyed his sympathy that prejudice would ensure he received no more commissions. Trying not to sound harsh, Remus spoke the name of the man who would take satisfaction in bringing Tonks' new partner low, "Rosier."
"I can't think of anyone else who gains by discrediting you."
Anger welled and was immediately tamped down. From the time Remus was bitten, his mother had stressed again and again that he couldn't get angry like other boys. If he lost his temper with another child, their parents could report him to the authorities. He had learnt never to show extreme anger or aggression, much less act on any of those feelings. Another man could demonstrate what he thought of the other wizard's underhanded tactics, but Remus would be labelled a danger to society and locked away in Azkaban. Still grappling to control dangerous emotions, he looked up when a man in his mid twenties appeared in the doorway.
"I'm sorry to intrude, but the assistant directed me back." Something about the wizard struck a familiar chord. Holding out a card, the younger man said, "I'm David Dunne. I used to run a bookshop…"
"Off Diagon Alley," Remus finished, looking from his card in Andrew's hand to the man's tense face. "Where did you get my card?"
Shifting uncomfortably, the wizard admitted, "I met an Auror, Tonks. She told me this shop might need another assistant. Said a guy named Lupin would put in a word for me with the owner, that you understood…my condition..."
Andrew leaned forward. "If your condition remains private knowledge, I am indeed looking to fill a position, Mr. Dunne. Would you care to discuss terms?"
Remus smiled at Andrew. "I'll leave you to it. I believe I'll return home and take my dog for a walk in the park, since my schedule has been cleared. Pleasure meeting you, Mr. Dunne."
"You too," David replied. "When you see her, tell Tonks I hope she's doing better."
"What do you mean?"
He'd meant to sound calm, but Dunne raised his hands and said, "If I was mistaken, then I apologize for causing alarm. It's just that, when Auror Tonks dropped by my flat to give me the card, she looked pale, and her hair seemed so dull that I thought…" He shrugged awkwardly.
Thanking the other werewolf for his concern, Remus left the shop and walked aimlessly down the pavement. He hoped Tonks wasn't physically ill, but he also hoped his stubborn love was miserable without him- to the point where she couldn't let another day go by without telling him how she really felt.
Returning to his flat with a feeling that happiness was almost in his grasp, Remus shook Sirius awake. "Let's go for a walk in the park."
"No, mate, my paws…feet…whatever…are tired."
"Cami will be there."
The rejuvenating effect of those words was almost magical. Immediately bright eyed and bushy tailed, Snuffles was eager to leave and pulling against the leash, straining to walk faster as they headed to the park.
"Snuffles! Come to me, you big, beautiful, boy!" Tonks' friend Camillia greeted the dog with a deep affection that the canine enjoyed receiving as much as she enjoyed giving.
Sitting on a bench, the wizard watched the pair play and wondered how Cami would react if she knew the 'Newfoundland mix of her dreams' was an Animagus. Would Sirius be the man of her dreams? Guiltily relieved that his friend had decided not to reveal his feelings until Harry was in the clear, Remus tried to read the book he'd brought along. It was an exercise in futility. Glancing up sometime later, he saw a young woman walking toward him and tossed the book down.
Tonks looked every bit as washed out as Dunne had said, and yet she'd never been more beautiful. The corner of his mouth turned up in tenderness. She wiped her tears with the backs of her fingers like a child, but standing before him to admit her feelings, Nymphadora proved that she was an exceptional woman.
"The reason why I lied, and kept things from you, why I couldn't bear the thought of you being hurt, and why I was willing to sleep with you to prove that I care…"
"Yes?" It was hard not to jump in, to assure her that he understood how the past could shadow the present and make love a risk almost too high to take. His gentle prompt seemed to be what Tonks needed to encourage her to say,
"I love you, with all my heart, and without you my world, like my hair, is colourless crap."
He smiled at the declaration that was as unique as the woman who made it, cupping her face with hands that trembled. "I love you, with a heart that's yearned to hear you say those words for so long, a part of me wants to howl for joy." Remus kissed her instead, trying to convey a heart overflowing with love that was indescribably precious and beautiful.
Snuffles began barking excitedly upon hearing Cami's laughing observation. Remus opened his eyes and grinned. "Your hair…it's pink." The colour seemed to epitomize happiness. His fingertips brushed her face. "Like your cheeks." His gaze and head lowered. "And your lips." Although he didn't usually display unreserved passion in public, Remus returned her ardour with a kiss that made up for the time he'd lost with the love of his life.
I hope you've enjoyed the companion piece to the final chapter of 'Once in a Blue Moon'. I certainly enjoyed writing the 'Tonks confesses her love' scene from Remus' point of view, using the dialogue from 'Moon' with his reactions and emotions colouring the scene, so to speak. If you did too, please tell me in a Review, and don't forget that even if I have to knock on the neighbours of relatives' doors, asking to borrow a cup of internet, lol, chapter one of A Wolf in the Moonlight will post next Friday!