Disclaimer: I don't own any of these fine characters; JK Rowling does, the lucky girl.
Remus opened the door to his London home and welcomed himself if. With a snap of his fingers, he turned on the lights. All the lights they needed, anyway. Then he noticed that Tonks was still standing on the front steps. Like a dejected puppy, she had followed him home and now that Dumbledore's funeral was over, her hair was as black as the inky night that now enveloped her. He rushed back to her and pulled her inside; he was too poor to afford more than a shack, and it wasn't on the respectable side of town either. Money and employment issues had always been a problem, but, of late, their had forced him into the haven of whores, thieves, and junk fiends, where the trains and crashes were louder, but all other senses were dulled like the color scheme. The last thing they needed right now was for anything more to happen. There had been quite enough already with Sirius' death last year, Dumbledore's death last night, Molly's incessant pushing, and Severus' betrayal. With a brotherly arm around her shoulder, he led her into the kitchen; he kicked the door shut as they passed it.
The kitchen was so small that there was little that could be done with it. He could have had ease of movement with no place to sit, or a place to sit and nowhere to move. As he lived alone, he'd opted for the latter, and had paid Mundungus for a nice, second-hand table to match his eclectically mixed hand-me-down chairs, previously inhabited bed frame, and patched up robes. Unlike all of Mundungus' other miscellany, the table had never caused any problems, so Remus never asked questions about where he'd come upon it. Sighing wistfully, he pulled a chair out for Tonks and went to the cupboard for a bottle of cheap wine and two old glasses.
"Can I tempt you," he whispered solemnly as he joined her at the table.
She nodded "yes" and he handed her a full glass of wine. Judging by how quickly she downed it, she was no stranger to alcohol's comforts, and he refilled hers before he'd even drank his own. Not so secretly, he hoped that she wasn't expecting anything of him. Now that he'd gotten her out of the dangerous streets, the last thing he wanted was to do anything with his dead lover's cousin. No matter how much Molly – and now Arthur – pushed him to, he wouldn't break under pressure. He would not so much as touch her, no matter how inebriated she became.
But then again…she looked so depressed now. Would he be able to resist her if she asked him? Given his history of silent compliance, the shadow of doubt latched onto his mind, refusing to leave for all excuses for rationalism. The best thing to do would be to set an ultimatum. Explain himself and tell her simply, "You're a very nice girl, you're like my sister, but I loved Sirius. I still do. Molly might have gotten your hopes up, but nothing's going to happen between us."
"Remus?" Tonks sighed sadly, destroying the silence. "Could I stay with you for a few days?"
Oh no – this was his test. It's easy to get out of, Moony, just tell her –
"Stay as long as you like," he heard himself reply.
Remus sighed and sat up in bed slowly. For months now – no! It had been a year! For a year there hadn't been a body laying next to him in bed, not even in a completely chaste way. In the pale rays of moonlight, he let his hair flop as he looked at who he was next to him now. Even in the silvery light, her recently-returned trademark bubblegum pink hair was unmistakable.
Tonks. He had just slept with Nymphadora Tonks. After what had perspired at Hogwarts the previous week, it was so difficult to deny her when she asked him to stay with her. He'd done the right thing, hadn't he? There was always the old excuse – too old, too poor, too dangerous, and not to mention that he'd loved her cousin when he was alive. He'd always assumed that she knew. They used to baby-sit her together, and Sirius was never one to hide his affections for Remus. Even a seven year old should have been able to see it!
Merlin's beard, the kids even knew! Granted, it had taken Harry and Ron some time to pick up on it, but they'd gotten it eventually. Hermione, as could be expected, had figured it out from that night in the Shrieking Shack from her third year. Molly and Arthur also knew, of course; having seven children had taught them how to pick up on such things. They'd known back before Sirius went to Azkaban, when Bill and Charlie were still just kids. And still they insisted that he needed a woman to make him happy, and that Tonks could be that woman.
She was a nice enough girl, in that little sister sort of way. And she was a Black through and through, even if Dearest Mother Black disagreed entirely. But she just wasn't Sirius. Without thinking of it, Remus ran his fingers through his hair.
Sirius always used to do that when he let stress get to him.
"Accept loss forever." That was what Dumbledore had said to him, in private after Sirius' murder. Naturally, he'd spoken with Harry first, since he was easily the most shaken by this – the loss a faithful lover of twenty-one years was terrible, of course, but Harry had known so little family in his short life. He had needed Dumbledore more that night.
And still, Dumbledore had made time for Remus and had spouted his usual, optimistic sayings. "Accept loss forever." Remember the fallen, but also know that they can never come back. Move on, live your life, you're still young and a useful asset in the war against Voldemort – people will still value you without Sirius.
Maybe that was why he'd taken the assignment to work amongst the werewolves. And now there wasn't even a source of madcap confidence to keep the Order's collective spirit afloat. First, the Diggory boy. Then, Sirius. Now, Dumbledore. What was there left, really? Anything?
No, he couldn't do this anymore. Not to Tonks, anyway, the last person who deserved it. All she'd done was love him, and it was depressing to know that he couldn't reciprocate it, but life almost never worked out in everyone's favor.
Hastily, he pulled on some street clothes. It was late, but he had to get out of his own house. As he left, he scribbled a note for her on some stray parchment:
I probably should have done this beforehand, but…well, you seemed so
shaken and upset that I couldn't say no. But the truth of the matter is
that…I'm gay, and I'm still in love with Sirius. I always thought you
knew, and this is the worst, most cowardly way to get this out, but…I'm
going out to clear my head. If I'm back when you wake up and you feel
like it, we can talk. If I'm not, feel free to stay or leave. I'd
understand both actions. - Remus.
I probably should have done this beforehand, but…well, you seemed so shaken and upset that I couldn't say no. But the truth of the matter is that…I'm gay, and I'm still in love with Sirius. I always thought you knew, and this is the worst, most cowardly way to get this out, but…I'm going out to clear my head. If I'm back when you wake up and you feel like it, we can talk. If I'm not, feel free to stay or leave. I'd understand both actions.
He sighed, moving out from the humid, dead feeling of the house and into the cool, crisp air of night. Inhaling it almost made him feel like a new man…almost. It fell terribly short in the end. Without any thought as to where he walked, he meandered around London for hours, finally making it back home at ten in the morning.
Tonks had gone, and she'd left no note, just the feeling of an empty bed again.
Molly Weasley was having a fairly nice day, all things considered. Bill had recovered from his werewolf bite and was mostly the same; regrettably, he still wanted to marry Fleur, but some things just couldn't be helped. Harry and Hermione had come in for the wedding, and even Percy looked likely to come home from London. Aside from certain nuances – such as Ron and Hermione's refusal to do much else than stare into each others' eyes – everything was going swimmingly for the Weasley clan.
Presently, she and Arthur had the house to themselves while Fred and George mulled around the village and Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Hermione played couples Quidditch. And with all those children out of their hair, the Weasley parents could finally take a relaxing break for tea. Just as Molly pulled the tea off of the fire, the familiar pop sound of someone Apparating in came from the living room, and Remus walked agitatedly into the kitchen. He joined Arthur at the table and threw his head into his hands.
There were a few moments of confused silence.
"Well, I've done it," he huffed finally, sounding utterly defeated.
"Done what exactly?" Arthur asked.
"I've done what you two have been working towards for a year."
"And what's this now, Remus dear?" Molly inquired probingly, sliding two cups of tea towards the two men.
"Well, it's less of a what and more of a whom, I guess."
"What is it already?"
"I've cheated on Sirius!" Remus shouted, scandalized by their ignorance.
"Dear, Sirius is dead-"
"I know, Molly! But I cheated on him!"
"You can't cuckold a dead man, Remus," Arthur sighed wearily.
"But I have!"
"I slept with Tonks!"
Molly and Arthur should not have been surprised by this, yet both of them nearly spit out their tea when they heard this. She took it far better than he did, though, quickly regaining her composure. While he stared at Remus, utterly confused as to why a gay man would sleep with a woman even if he was as compliant as Remus, she merely returned to her tea, taking a sip as though nothing had happened.
"I told you it would work if we were patient," she huffed.
"What?" Remus exploded.
"Honestly, Remus," she sighed. "You're so eager to please. I knew you'd never say 'no' to poor Nymphadora."
"Did you tell her to beg me for sex?"
"What? WHY! You know how I feel about Sirius!"
"She wanted it, you needed it, and he's dead. I see no problem here."
"You cuckolded him, and made an adulteress out of me! How can you NOT see a PROBLEM here?"
"Adulterer," Arthur muttered over his tea.
"Well, last I knew, you were male, Remus, so you can't be an adulteress."
"Oh. Right. Well, the sentiment's the same."
"You're right, Remus," Molly replied. "There is a problem here, but it's not me: it's you and your attitude towards this situation."
"But at your pushing, I've cuckolded Sirius, made an adulterer of myself, and possibly broken Tonks' heart when she didn't even do anything to me!"
"Put that aside for a moment. Do you think you've sinned?"
"And you think that you've sinned by cheating on Sirius, even though he's dead?"
"I think I've made that clear, yes."
"But does Nymphadora make you happy?"
"Not in a romantic or sexual way, but I enjoy her company."
"Don't you think that Sirius would want you to be happy?"
"I guess so…"
"Then why can't you accept her crush and stay friends?"
Remus started to answer, but stopped himself at the illogical sound of what he wanted to say.
"I'll admit it," she explained calmly. "I've been pushy. I've been overbearing; ask my kids, they'll give you an earful. But wouldn't you like to be happy?"
Remus nodded; he couldn't find a simple "yes" anywhere in himself. It was all too odd – and yet made sense – that his sin was justified, even when it should not have been.
Molly and Arthur refused to let Remus leave the Burrow in the state he was in. On one hand, he was depressed and distracted, which made him liable to get hit by some mad Muggle in one of their cars. On the other, he had let it slip that he hadn't eaten since six o'clock the previous evening, and Molly had promptly attempted to suffocate him with food. The kids had come in from Quidditch (and judging by the state of Ron and Ginny's hair, some young passions as well; it was too hard to tell with Harry and Hermione) just in time for dinner, which they insisted that he stay for. Bill and Fleur joined the family shortly thereafter, and Molly's cooking was, of course, delicious. If it hadn't been for Ron's relentless nagging about how things were going with Tonks, everything would have been as close to perfect as could be expected under the circumstances.
So, at the end of the day, Remus came back home, feeling quite sated and somewhat content. He Apparated to two blocks away from his shack just so he could breathe in more of the city air; it was so much more liberating than the air inside. Walking into the shack, he felt almost normal; walking into the kitchen made his heart sink immediately.
Tonks was sitting at the table, nursing a large glass of milk. She had a large plate of cookies sitting in front of her and was in mid-bite when she noticed that she was no longer alone.
"Wotcher, wolfie," she chuckled grimly through the cookie.
"Evening, Tonks," he sighed, sinking into the seat opposite her. "I see you came back."
"Went up to my parents'," she explained. "Then I remembered why I wanted to stay here in the first place. Mum sent cookies, by the way. Have one, you look like hell."
"Yes, well, being force-fed and having to admit to Molly Weasley that you're overreacting will do that."
"I bet. Guessing that's why you're home late."
They bantered like nothing had happened. But it had happened. Now, Molly's completely reasonable argument was flying out of his head like a professional Quidditch player. They couldn't just go on like nothing happened; it wasn't healthy, as Harry and his strops had taught the entire Order two years ago. If they didn't lay it out for each other, nothing good would come of it.
"Look, Tonks," he sighed right as she said, "Look, Remus."
"You first," she said quickly.
"Well, uhm…the note-"
"Is that why you're so tense?" She sniggered into her milk. "Remus, everyone knows you loved Sirius. I mean…it's not like he hid it."
Wait…what? She knew? But then why…?
"Actually," she explained calmly, "I just asked you for sex because I thought you wanted it and knew you wouldn't make a move."
"But that's why I said yes," Remus whimpered, biting into his lip.
"Where did you get the idea that I wanted to sleep with you?" They both asked.
"Molly," they both replied.
It took a moment of staring at each other for this to sink in, but slowly it did, and both collapsed onto the table, laughing hysterically.
"I thought it was suspicious!" He exploded gleefully.
"Would it hurt if I said I thought you were a dirty old man for a few minutes?" She chortled.
"No…I thought it myself for a little bit."
"But, Remus?" She asked, immediately coming down.
"We can agree that the sex was just completely misguided, right?"
"But…I still like talking to you, I mean, you're like my brother."
"So, can we stay friends?"
"Of course we can!" He murmured sympathetically. "Do you think you can't be friends with a bloke without dating him?"
She nodded, bleak and innocently wide-eyed.
"Who gave you that idea?"
"Molly," they both sighed wearily.
Once again, they couldn't help but laugh.
"So the moral of this whole, sordid tale," Remus chuckled, "is that Molly needs to keep her nose out of other people's business."
"Indeed," Tonks scoffed. "So, you don't mind me staying with you?"
"Of course not! I said you can stay as long as you like, didn't I?"
"And…you don't mind sharing a bed?"
"Did I for the first six days? I mean, it's not as if there's anywhere else for you to sleep."
She chuckled again and shoved the plate of her mother's cookies towards him. Presumably, she'd had the same heart-to-heart with Andromeda that he'd had with Molly, which explained the cookies. Or maybe her mother was just taking pity on him for being poor. Either way, he and Tonks had cookies and understanding, and that was what really mattered.