Odd story, this. I suppose I ended up doing it because I adore Remus/Tonks, and the two individually; but the actual inspiration came from one of Banui Rochon's in-progress fics about a werewolf. I remember staring at the almost-full moon that night, wondering how it would feel to know that in just a few days it would turn you into a monster. Instead of diving inside Lupin's head, though, I came out with this. I wrote about half of it on the airplane flight home from Florida.

Nymphadora Tonks wonders, sometimes, if she's doing the right thing.

She doesn't doubt her love, or anything like that, even though maybe she's too young for him and she doesn't have the first idea how to keep house properly. She doesn't believe anything he's said about his being too old, either, or too poor, or any of the other excuses he's given—because that's what they are, just excuses, and Tonks knows they don't matter, not really.

Sometimes, though, Tonks is afraid.

It's always a little thing: the flicker of an eye, gone before she's sure she's seen it; a momentary odd gait in his walk; the twitch in one hand; the way he stares at the moon.

And she thinks: This is a werewolf.

She hides it better than others do, because she knows what it's like to be different, and she knows what it's like to lose people. She knows he has to live with himself day after day, that he knows what he is, that he knows very few really trust him, and the last thing she wants to do is hurt him. She hides it, because if everyone else deserts him in the end, she'd like to be the last one standing at his side.

So she doesn't tell him she's afraid, and she doesn't think he knows, but she wonders anyway, in the directionless moments just before sleep when her thoughts are already half-controlled dreams. She sees him then—probably because she can hardly stop thinking about him anyway—but she doesn't see Remus the human. Instead she sees Lupin the werewolf.

It's different every time—sometimes they're in Hogwarts, sometimes the Shrieking Shack; sometimes they're in the Order's headquarters, or in her house, or one she doesn't recognize. Sometimes they're married already; sometimes they're both students, just children together, which makes no sense—but then dreams rarely do make much sense.

Except these do, in a frighteningly logical way.

Every time the dreams begin, Tonks is happy—happy to be dreaming, happy to be with Lupin, it doesn't really matter why. The nightmare part always begins then, just when she thinks maybe she's gotten into a good dream at last.

And then it happens.

It isn't always the same, of course; that's how dreams go. But it always leads into the same dark.

Sometimes, the full moon comes, and Lupin's forgotten to take the Wolfsbane Potion. Sometimes it comes and he's run out. Sometimes it's all wrong and he takes it—grimacing as it slides down his throat—and it doesn't work and he turns anyway. Sometimes there's no potion at all, anywhere, and nobody knows how to make it, and she can't do anything and neither can he. Sometimes he's holding the cup, beginning to drink, and it shatters, shards of glass ripping skin from his scarred face, and blood runs over his lips as he tries frantically to lick the potion off the floor, but it's never enough and he transforms.

So she stands there and watches while the monster-moon's silver light drips across his face, watches while his limbs contort and his eyes roll back and his mouth opens in a last half-human scream that's swallowed up by an inhuman snarl. She stands there and watches—because she always seems to see herself in these dreams, as if she's living outside her own body—as his wolf-nose scents prey, and his yellow wolf-eyes fix on her, gleaming.

And when he lunges, she's never ready, no matter how many times she sees it coming.

Sometimes she feels the first bite, dagger-like teeth ripping through skin and muscle, and crushing bone, and she'll jerk half-upright in bed, only she can't wake up because she isn't quite sleeping. Sometimes he stops there, with that first bite, and he circles and licks her blood from his muzzle as she writhes on the floor. Sometimes the first bite isn't enough and he attacks in earnest, snarling with some feral bloodlust, breaking and tearing. Sometimes he leaves her there, his lips curling back from his teeth in a wolfish grin, as if he'll enjoy watching the madness take her too.

Usually, though, he kills her.

It's after jolting fully, finally awake from the nightmares—heart pounding, sheets soaked in sweat, Tonks blessedly alone in her own flat—that she thinks maybe it's best if she lets him push her away.

It used to be shame that would flood her then, because how could she entertain this fear of him—even subconsciously—when it was so much the worse for him, when he had to bear it day after day after day? It didn't even make sense, really: she's know what could happen, ever since she first contemplated a forever with Remus Lupin, because that's the risk you take when you fall in love with a werewolf. It can't be the death part, either: she's known she might die young, ever since she became an Auror and joined the Order; because that's the risk you take, when you decide to fight Voldemort.

So she was afraid—those half-conscious dreams told her that, even though she wouldn't have thought so during the daytime—and every time the fear took her, that hot, painful shame took her too, and she couldn't think past it to figure out why the fear came in the first place.

It probably shouldn't have surprised her that a dream finally explained it, too.

The dreams always ended, before, with blood and a prowling werewolf. One night—Tonks doesn't even remember quite when—they changed, like dreams do, and she saw what happened after the moon died and the dark lifted and the werewolf became Remus Lupin, human being, once more. She saw the silver veil fall from his vision, saw him stare at her uncomprehending—because she always was there, sprawled on the floor, whether dead or changed or mauled, and always covered in dark-shining crimson—saw him look at the blood on his hands and follow its path to her body, saw the horrified understanding dawn in his eyes.

And she woke, then—still seeing him crouched beside her, too paralyzed by what he'd done to move—and Tonks lay awake for an hour, staring at the ceiling, her mind blank of all thought except I won't let it happen, I won't, I can't—

The next morning, while she dressed and burned her toast and spilled her tea all over the countertop, she could think of nothing else, and she understood the nightmares. She understood that she was afraid for him, not for herself. She understood that if she spent too much time with him—despite all his precautions, and all of hers—that this could happen, and she could never do this to him, because the guilt and remorse would utterly destroy him.

Which is exactly what Tonks thinks now, every time the dreams come. And it's why—in the grey half-light of dawn, when everything looks silver like a werewolf's coat—she wonders if she shouldn't just leave England and take herself out of Lupin's life entirely, because any pain that might cause inside her would be far better than her selfishness shattering them both.

But it's in the same greyness that her thoughts drift toward him again, because somehow even when Lupin's image is a torment, it's also the greatest comfort she can find. Awake, she sees him, human with just a tiny touch of wolfishness. She sees his weary smile, and the exhaustion that speaks of his unflagging devotion to the Order. She sees the way he'll drop things, sometimes, like she always does, and then he'll look at her and laugh.

And she thinks: This is not a monster.

And Tonks isn't afraid anymore.

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