"Run No More"
Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin, and the Harry Potter universe in general belong to J.K. Rowling.
Moonlight waltzed across the glassy surface of the Black Lake. Not even the slightest breeze dared to ripple the mirror-like surface, as if the winds were holding their breath in respect for the fallen Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Only a few short hours had passed since the phoenix song had echoed across the school grounds. The ethereal music had long since faded, leaving a somber silence in its wake.
Nymaphadora Tonks gratefully greeted the fresh night air as she quietly stepped outside of the massive front entranceway. The atmosphere in the hospital wing had been stifling even with Mrs. Weasley and Fleur's newfound bond. The loss of Albus Dumbledore weighed heavily on everyone's heart. As an Auror, Nymphadora was accustomed to facing each day with the knowledge that life was a sweet but short blessing, and this day may well be her last. Everyone in the Order of the Phoenix knew this truth and none better than Dumbledore himself. In the end, to be betrayed by someone they thought was one of the own, someone Albus himself had trusted, was a devastating blow.
Anger, outrage, misery, and sorrow each seemed to vie for a place in her heart as she strode purposefully towards the lakeshore. Her emotions bubbled up and then subsided, only to come again in a wave that almost overwhelmed her. Tonks sulkily sank onto the pebbled ground rimming the large lake.
Her mind strayed from the loss of the Order's leader to her foolish outburst in the hospital wing. Her cheeks turned pink as she remembered the incident. When she should have been mourning the death of one of the greatest wizards of the age, she had thrown a temper tantrum in front of the people she admired most. No wonder Professor R.J. Lupin consistently parried all of her advances. Who would want such a childish girl as herself with her pink hair, outlandish sense of style, and youthfulness that bordered on immaturity? What could she possibly offer to Remus when she felt like such a child?
'There you go being selfish again…' she chided herself. She fiercely wiped her eyes, scrubbing away tears with the hem of her robe. The others had been encouraging after her outburst, arguing against Remus' impenetrable logic. Still he hadn't even been able to look Tonks directly in the eyes, and had focused on Bill's injuries instead.
Nymphadora drew her knees up to her chest and rested her forehead against her legs. She allowed tears to leak down her cheeks, running paths down to her chin. She hadn't been there long when she heard the sound of footsteps crunching across the pebbles in her direction. She froze for one moment, her heart thundering in her chest. Even as sorrowful as she had been for the past year, Remus' presence still sent her heart racing.
He settled down next to her, close enough that their shoulders brushed as he adjusted his robes around him. Remus let a heavy silence fall between them, burdened by the words that he wanted to say. The quiet night carried the sound of soft hoots from the Owlery, and in the distance across the shimmering lake, the giant squid surfaced for a brief moment before plunging back into the depths of the lake.
"How are you doing?" he asked, leaning down and trying to catch of a glimpse of her face hidden in her arms.
"It's just a little hard is all," replied Tonks stuffily, looking up and rubbing her nose unceremoniously on her sleeve. "Listen, I'm sorry about earlier…."
She trailed off, feeling rather stupid. Remus laughed somewhat humorlessly.
"I can't say I didn't deserve to be called out like that…" he replied with a small smile. Then his expression became very somber. "I've hurt you, Nymphadora…"
"Please, Remus! It's Tonks! Why do you insist on calling me by that wretched name!" she exclaimed, laughing despite the fresh tears that were spilling down her cheeks.
"Because that's your name, and it's a rather lovely name," he explained simply, overlooking the crimson stain that had spread across her cheeks. "Please forgive me, Nymphadora…forgive this stubborn old man."
Tonks gave him a punch on the shoulder. "How many times do I have to tell you you're not that old, Remus."
He grinned, rubbing the spot she had hit. This was like it had been before things had become so awkward between them. The time when they had joked and laughed while at the headquarters or out on an assignment for the Order. Lupin desperately missed those days during her absence.
He may have denied Tonks flat out, insisting that things wouldn't work out for them, but that's not what he truly had wanted. He had given the classic arguments that he was too old, too poor, too cursed, but those were just sad excuses to protect his own heart. He had given up a long time ago on the possibility of being loved, so when Tonks had professed such deep feelings, he had resisted. He told himself that he was protecting her from being hurt, but he was really selfishly protecting his own heart.
Even though he assured himself repeatedly that he had made the best decision for both of them, he couldn't rid himself of longing for her, for her laughter, for her grin that made his own heart cheerful. He missed their long talks and the quiet moments when they had just simply sat side by side.
Now he sat once again by her side, watching tears leaking pitifully down her cheeks. He didn't know how he could tell her everything that was burdening his heart. How could he have left her to suffer so much over the past year, truly thinking it was for her best?
He impulsively reached out and pulled her into his arms, cradling her close to his chest. He leaned his cheek against her bubble gum pink hair as tears seeped down his face.
"Please forgive me, Nymphadora…"
He took her chin firmly in his hand and tenderly tilted her head back. She smiled the same smile that she had done almost a year ago, when he had ignored all of his reason and logic and kissed her once before. It was a smile that almost asked "please kiss me." He gladly obliged.
He gently broke the kiss and looked down at her, still fearing rejection. Instead, he received a coy smile.
"No, Professor, we mustn't!" teased Tonks, pretending to pull away in mock surprise and shame.
Remus laughed heartily, something he hadn't done for what felt like ages. "Now I feel like an old pervert."
Tonks' smile melted into a somber expression, her lips pinched into a frown. "Please don't push me away anymore, Remus," she pleaded, her voice cracking with emotion. "I…I want to be with you…I don't care about what you are! You know I don't!"
He lightly placed a finger against her lips to silence her arguments. She reluctantly fell silent, her eyes still begging him silently not to reject her anymore. He leaned forward and soothingly kissed her forehead.
"I promise I won't run from you anymore, Nymphadora Tonks…"