A/N: Hello. Due to my laptop breakage, I'm having withdrawal symptoms, hence I have kindly been lent this pc by my friend. This is a one-shot about Tonks and Remus, not really in a romantic way. Set Pre-HBP. This is a bit plain and simple, but I needed to get it out my system, you understand? Review, let me know what you think. Thanks for being patient with my other story updates, I may have a new laptop by next week :)
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and co belong to J.K.Rowling.
Remus Lupin sat alone in the dark kitchen of Grimmauld Place. It had only been less than a fortnight since his best friend, Sirius, had been taken from him for a second time. Every day hurt more than the one before. But the werewolf was used to loss and pain, and he had kept up the charade of only being mildly bothered by the death of his closest friend. No, to let others in could cause further grief. He did not like to bother anyone, and so kept to himself, hiding away in the dingy Black manor, hoping that, in time, the ache in his chest would subside, and he would smile again.
Remus had barely spoken to anybody since the Order waved goodbye to Harry Potter at King's Cross Station. Since then he was subjected to sympathetic smiles, gentle words of condolence, and the odd pat on the back, none of which he really cared for. But he was Remus Lupin, kind hearted, frail in looks but strong inside...or so his friends thought. He wanted to be alone, and he got his wish, until a knock came at the door one morning.
Albus Dumbledore stood expectantly on the doorstep of Number 12. He gave a genuine smile as Lupin opened the door, blinking in the bright sunlight
"Good morning, Remus," Dumbledore said brightly. Remus strained a smile.
"Good morning Sir. Do come in, won't you." He stepped back, opening the door a little wider, as the Headmaster crossed the threshold.
"How are you faring?" the elder asked as the pair of wizards headed for the kitchen.
"I'm fine, thank you Sir," Remus lied, hating himself for not being honest with a man who genuinely cared for his wellbeing.
"I'd love to chat about pleasantries," Dumbledore continued as Lupin offered a seat, then sat opposite the man. "I'm quite sure you are not in a chatting mood." His grey eyes gave a knowing twinkle, and Remus smiled internally.
"I'm here on business my boy. I have an errand for you."
At this, Remus sat up in his seat. An errand for the Order? It might be just what he needed to take his mind off Sirius.
"Nymphadora," Dumbledore stated, and Remus looked up from his reverie.
"Excuse me, Sir?"
"When was the last time you saw her?"
Lupin mused on the question briefly.
"It must have been at King's Cross...Yes, that's right. Why do you ask?"
"It seems that no one has seen her since," Dumbledore informed the man. Remus' immediate reaction, he was surprised to find, was a gush of panic spreading up from his stomach and consuming his chest. However, Dumbledore must have read Lupin's expression for he gave a reassuring smile.
"I'm sure no harm has come to her. She has sent the occasional owl into the office at the Ministry. No, I'm afraid that young Nymphadora may have taken her cousin's passing harder than once thought." The wizard paused. Lupin leaned into him slightly, encouraging him to press on. "I was rather hoping, Remus, that you might stop by her flat to see how she is doing."
There was a stunned silence. Lupin swallowed and gave a little frown.
"Oh," he said hoarsely. So this was his errand? Checking up on young Nymphadora? Remus was sure that he would only result in lowering the witch further into depression. He eventually shook his head slowly to the Headmaster.
"I…I really don't think that I'm the best person for the job. After all, I'm hardly in high spirits myself," he admitted.
"All the more reason for it to be you," Dumbledore countered, rising from his seat. Lupin scrambled from his own chair quickly. If he didn't think fast, he would be stuck with the task.
"Well, what would I have to do?" Lupin stammered. Women scared him; he was not ashamed to admit. Nymphadora Tonks scared him. Talking openly to anybody also made him nervous. What with the woman in question being Nymphadora, Remus felt himself struggling not to hyperventilate at the very thought of it.
"Talk to her," Dumbledore said simply, and Lupin winced. "Listen to her. Women don't take kindly when their words fall on deaf ears. There's a piece of advice for you." The man winked mischievously.
Lupin swallowed hard and felt his face flush.
"I'm quite sure that I will have nothing to say to Nymphadora of any consolation."
"Nonsense," Dumbledore retaliated with a swish of his hand. "You were both so close to Sirius. I know that you will find comfort in each other. She's very fond of you, Remus," he pointed out. These words didn't reassure Lupin, and he pressed on.
"Uh, may I suggest Molly for the job instead?" There was almost a hint of desperation in his voice, which made Dumbledore chuckle softly and carry on walking towards the front door. He turned to the younger man as he reached for the handle.
"No you may not. I trust you know where Miss Tonks lives?" he enquired mildly, raising his silver eyebrows. Remus could only nod in numb resignation.
"Very well, I shall see you later this evening. Take care, Remus." The Professor had gone before Remus could open his mouth to mumble a farewell. He sighed as he closed the front door. Leaning against the cool wood, he banged his head harder than was necessary. He wanted solitude, to brood without interference. Now he was the one to be doing the interfering. What if Tonks wanted to be left alone? What if she wanted company? The second thought sent a shiver of apprehension down Lupin's spine. For the first time in his life, he wished he didn't respect Albus Dumbledore so much!
Remus took a deep breath as he studied the worn, black paint on the apartment door in front of him. The brass number 9A hung slightly to one side, and had a greenish tinge to it. The man exhaled loudly and then rapped three times with a semi-confident knock. Rocking back and forth on his toes and heels as he waited, Remus listened closely for any sign of life on the other side of the door. After he had waited for what felt like five minutes but was realistically more like two, he fought the urge to turn on his heels and run, and knocked once more.
"Nymphadora, are you there? It's Remus." Again, there was no reply. The wizard chewed on his lip, grazed his knuckles against the wood, and then pulled out his wand from his robe pocket. Remus tapped the worn door handle, muttering a spell that would counteract any security wards that surrounded the home of an Order member.
Tentatively, he opened the door. It creaked open, and Remus hid a smirk at the irony of the situation.
"Nymphadora?" he ventured. Glancing around the room, at the simple furnishings and piles of clutter strewn haphazardly across the floor, Remus spotted Tonks sprawled on the sofa, a thick quilt over her legs. The room was stuffy, and smelled of uneaten take-away. Remus wrinkled his nose and quickly glanced at his friend to insure that she hadn't seen. The young witch refrained from making eye contact. An old copy of the Quibbler lay open in front of her, though she wasn't reading it. A muted Muggle programme played in the corner on her dusty television.
Remus cleared his throat.
"Nymphadora…Sorry to intrude, but when you didn't answer I had to check…You understand?"
Tonks gave a sniff, and her eyes remained unfocussed. Clearing his throat once more, Remus took a small step nearer the sofa.
"How are you, Nymphadora?" No reply. "I, uh, you look well," he lied. "Very normal…I mean natural!" He observed her dark, tousled hair, her sallow, tearstained skin and her grey, bloodshot eyes.
"I'm sorry Nym- Tonks. I don't mean to sound insensitive, it's just…Dumbledore sent me to check up on you. Not that I wasn't deeply concerned that no one had seen you in days!" he quickly added. Remus decided to press ahead, knitting his fingers together and staring at them intently. Consoling wasn't his strong point, especially not to young women. There had been so many drunken nights with Sirius, comforting the incarcerated man, but young women were different, sensitive. Remus was fully aware that anything he said could send the grieving witch into further turmoil. He chose his words carefully.
"I know what you're going through that's all, and I also know what it's like to want to be left alone at times like this, so I understand if you're mad at me. I'll go if you want."
Tonks lowered her eyes but remained silent. Lupin chewed his lip again, and noted how dark her long her eyelashes were against her colourless skin. He spoke up again.
"I…uh…I also know what it feels like to want to talk to someone, when it hurts so much, but you don't think that anyone will understand. Believe me, I understand Nymphadora. I'm hurting so much, and it feels as if I'm the only one left. I guess I am." His voice caught I his throat as he thought on all he had lost; the Marauders, his friends, his brothers. All of them gone, or worse. Lupin gave a nervous chuckle.
"Sorry, I came here to comfort you and start burdening you with my problems. I daresay that's why you've been avoiding us all in the first place." He laughed nervously again and looked back down to his hands. A loud sniff caused him to look back up, startled. Large, slow tears were rolling down the Auror's cheeks. Remus froze, horrified.
"Oh, I've upset you. I'm so sorry Nymphadora, that was never my intent, believe me! Oh I told Dumbledore I wasn't the man for this job," he exclaimed to himself. As Tonks' shoulders bobbed up and down gently, Remus shuffled to the door in discomfort.
"I'll leave you in peace. When you're ready to talk, you know where I'll be."
He backed towards the door slowly, and gave a timid wave goodbye, which caught her attention. Her swollen eyes regarded him for the first time since he'd entered her flat, and a brief flicker of confusion passed across them.
"Remus!" she said rather loudly. The wizard frowned and straightened slightly as Tonks pushed herself up into a sitting position with her elbows. She wiped frantically at her face, unaware that he had witnessed the tears falling, and reached across to her low, wooden coffee table that was littered with Chinese rice boxes and cold cups of tea. She retrieved a small rectangular black box, and clicked at a button, pulling two headphones from her ears and placed the Walkman back onto the table.
"How long have you been stood there?" she asked with a faint smile, as Lupin regarded her with bewilderment.
"I…oh…I just came in," he told her, hoping that his cheeks didn't look as hot as they felt. "I was just passing and thought I'd see how you were doing," Remus said as she struggled out of her quilt, and waddled over to him in her grubby purple pyjamas to throw herself at his chest. Lupin closed his arms around her back slowly and patted her like a timid child afraid of his grandmother's senile spaniel.
"How are you Nymphadora?" he asked to the top of her dark head.
"Tonks, Remus, and I feel like crap," she mumbled into his robes.
Lupin smiled in spite of himself and tightened his grip on her small form.
"You look highly presentable."
"Liar," she smirked, pulling away from him to scrutinise him. He looked the same, as if nothing had changed, though Tonks guessed trauma such as this hit Lupin hardest on the inside.
"I smell too," she added, wrinkling her nose. "I'd have showered and cleaned up a bit if I knew you were coming."
"No you wouldn't," he countered and the witch, to his surprise, laughed.
"You know me too well, Remus Lupin."
She indicated for him to sit, folding the quilt messily over the back of the sofa, kicking the various magazines and newspapers out of the way, and turning the silent TV to standby.
"Can I get you a drink? You like iced tea? There's a few cups been sat there a couple of days."
Remus glanced at the table then back up to the girl, who had adopted a chirpy charade now that she knew she had company.
"I'm fine, thank you."
"You sure? I'm making myself one, so it's really no trouble."
Remus caved, and Tonks skipped off towards her minute kitchen unit.
"No sugar, right?"
"That's right," he called after her. She threw a grin over her shoulder.
Remus took the opportunity to scan the room. He had assumed that Tonks would live comfortably but not over-lavishly. She may even be reasonably tidy, in any other mood. However, Remus was finding it rather hard not to compare the flat to the word squalor. Rather unbecoming for a lady, he decided as he spotted a dried patch of some sort of brown (he assumed) beverage, covering a rather large area of the light green carpet. Remus wondered if it would be seen as bad manners if he were to open the window a tad. He decided against it, however, and began to breathe through his mouth.
"Here you go," Tonks announced, breaking her friend's gaze from the ring-stained arm of the sofa. She handed him a mug with a dopey looking cartoon dog on the side, and the slogan 'Snoopy Ruffs You!' circling it in the shape of a heart.
"Snoopy ruffs you Remus, he really does," Tonks told him seriously. Remus nodded and raised his eyebrows in thanks.
"Always good to know," he replied.
The couple sipped their tea in silence, Tonks kept her eyes on her cup. Every so often Remus would glance up at the girl's grey eyes and see the trouble etched across her weary face. He lowered his mug with a thud on a small bare space on the table, causing her to break from her reverie.
"Nymphadora, do you want to talk?" he asked boldly. Tonks frowned at him.
"You know what, Tonks," Remus said pointedly. Tonks looked away in discomfort.
"I…uh…I'm fine." She offered a brave smile, which Remus saw straight through. She lowered her cup to the floor and gave a sigh. Holding her face in her hands, she began to cry. Remus froze. The moment he had been dreading had finally arrived.
He shuffled down the sofa towards her, and then patted her three times on the top of her head. Tonks gave a laugh through a sob and turned her body in towards his.
Lupin sat there, stroking her back with one hand and holding one of her pale hands in his other, while giving her a light kiss on the forehead every now and then for good measure. The wizard smiled to himself. I'm a natural, he thought. What was I panicking about?
He suddenly realised how close they were, but didn't dare move in case Tonks were to start crying again. In fact, Remus found it quite comforting for himself, to have her warm form in his arms, stroking his hand in return. He cleared his throat and tried not to dwell on it too much.
"I'm not happy Remus, but I'll be ok," Tonks spoke up eventually, once the sobs had subsided. "I loved Sirius, we both did. But he's gone, and I will have to accept that. I replay that night over and over in my head, and the more I realise that there was nothing any of us could have done…I will get over this, Remus. Just give me time."
They looked at each other for a brief moment.
"You're so resilient, Nymphadora. I wish I were as strong as you…Merlin knows I've had the practice," he muttered, struggling to keep the aching bitterness from his tone.
"Maybe…maybe that's why it's so hard," she suggested softly. Remus broke her gaze and stared into his lap, running a hand over his forehead.
"You're right Nymphadora, you're right," he resigned despairingly. There was a brief pause before he heard her whisper.
He laughed. "I apologise."
Leaning into his shoulder, she looked up at him with secret adoration.
"You can always talk to me Remus. If you ever need to talk to someone, I'll be here. I'm a good listener, you know?"
Remus chuckled at this, and Tonks scowled, pushing away from him to glare at him in mock-hurt.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothing, Nymphadora." He smiled at her, and kissed her forehead gently. "You're the easiest person to talk to that I know…when you're listening," he added quietly, as the young witch beamed and reached for her tea. The man smiled at her, knowing that she'd be ok, and realising that, in time, he would be too.
That evening as he sat in the cold, dark kitchen of Grimmauld Place, Lupin smiled as his mind fell once again to the young Auror. Arthur Weasley laughed and nudged the younger man.
"You're rather distracted tonight Remus. My words are falling on deaf ears it seems." The man smiled warmly, his words spoken in jest. It was good to see Lupin smiling again.
"I'm sorry Arthur–" Remus began but was interrupted as a gentle voice called him from the top of the stairs. Lupin looked up to see Albus Dumbledore stood there expectantly.
"How is the young lady, Remus?" he inquired politely.
"She'll be fine, Albus."
"As will you, I'm sure," the older man implied. Remus nodded.
"Yes Sir, I will be."
Dumbledore's light blue eyes twinkled mischievously and Lupin frowned slightly.
"Goodnight Remus, Arthur." He winked at the other man, and left with a knowing smile.
"That man," Arthur spoke up suspiciously, "he's up to something."
But his words once again fell on deaf ears, as Remus chewed on his bottom lip and thought of Tonks…and smiled.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed. Please leave a review :)