Author's Note: The characters, of course, all belong to JK Rowling. If something from these particular scenes is familiar, you may have seen it on the LJ rtchallenge Spring Ficathon. The quote in 'Renewed' is from Anne Bradstreet.
Just To Be
They left the grounds of Hogwarts together, mourning the loss of Dumbledore, yet feeling content for the first time in months. They walked hand in hand to Tonks's room at the Hog's Head and sat at the table together, sharing a bottle of wine. They breathed, blinked, and drank in unison. They had come so close to losing one another, to losing what was best in themselves. Exhausted, they just needed to be together. They both felt the inevitable awkwardness brought on by months of separation and frustration, but they felt no need to rush into a venting of their pent up passion. First, they just needed to be. Together.
Slowly, Remus stood up and gathered Tonks in his arms. He needed to know and feel that this was real. That she was really there with him, and wasn't going to leave him. They stretched out on the bed together and fell asleep, worn out by the battle, grief, and their relief that separation was finally over.
Through his dreams, he smells her sweetness and feels her pulse. Slowly, she begins to replace his horrible memories, desperation and fears from the past few months with hope, security, and future plans.
As she rests in the comforting weight of his arms, she begins to feel rooted to the ground again, rather than constantly feeling like she is falling off of a cliff. His strength restores her color and revives her dwindling hope.
As the sun comes up, they are both afraid to open their eyes; afraid that it is just another dream, like the hundreds they have had during the lost months. But he still feels her pulse and she still feels the weight of his arms. They wake up smiling for the first time in ages.
It was one of those rare days when everything went right. Remus stretched in the sun that was shining gently on the garden at the Burrow. Bill and Fleur's wedding had been simple, but lovely. There were so many things that could have gone wrong, but none of them did. Even Molly seemed to be able to relax and enjoy herself. The Ministry had provided discreet but formidable protection, so the wedding would not be an enticing target for a Death Eater attack. There were, perhaps, a few dozen less guests than expected. Some of Bill and Fleur's friends had made their excuses, and Remus knew exactly why. Bill shared Remus's taint; this was just the beginning of a social stigma that would continue throughout his life. Even though Bill was never a fully transformed werewolf, there would always be those who were leery of him, who would never quite trust him. Remus rejoiced, though, that Fleur had proved steadfast. Just as Tonks had for him.
Tonks was currently sitting with Ginny, offering some "big sister" comfort and advice. Ginny and Harry's estrangement was one of the few black clouds on this beautiful day. Before they'd arrived at the Burrow, Tonks had informed Remus that she expected him to have a chat with Harry. With James, Sirius, and Dumbledore gone, Harry needed someone to put him straight. Who better than you, she'd asked. Harry seemed to learn his lessons the hard way, just like Remus.
Tonks caught Remus's attention, raised an eyebrow and looked pointedly in Harry's direction. She claimed not to be an Occlumens, but she always managed to guess what he was thinking, and when he was trying to avoid something. Remus grabbed some Butterbeer and two glasses, and went to sit by Harry. He decided to jump right in rather than waffle about with small talk. "She's not going to let you protect her like this, Harry."
Harry's shoulders slumped. He said nothing, but accepted the glass Remus offered him. "Our women are strong, Harry. You'll find you've either got to let them fight at your side or spend all of your time fighting them, rather than fighting your true enemies."
Lupin paused for a minute, then continued. "Do you really think that she will be less of a target if she is not your girlfriend?"
Harry's tone of voice was flat and deadened. "I have to do this. I couldn't bear it if I was the reason something happened to her."
"Harry, let me give you a few reasons why that is, as Tonks would say, total bollocks. First, Ginny comes from a long line of blood traitors. She is a target no matter what. Second, you are a lousy Occlumens, and would never be able to hide your feelings about her from anyone. Third, you are making a decision for her, and she is no more likely to accept that from you than Tonks was from me." Both men looked at Tonks who was still talking, and Ginny who was weeping quietly. "They are both formidable witches. Your father was quite a powerful wizard, but all it took was one angry look from Lily, and he knew when he was beaten. Back then, none of us understood why he backed down so quickly when she got upset. Now, I understand very clearly. Molly, Tonks, Ginny and I dare say Hermione too, are cut from the same cloth."
"They are all a bit scary, yeah," grumbled Harry. Remus filled their glasses again, and they sat companionably. "How did Tonks change your mind? You were so set against letting her be with you," Harry blurted as if he was both eager and afraid to ask something so personal of Lupin. Remus smiled slowly as he remembered the lecture he'd gotten from Tonks on the night of Dumbledore's death.
Remus blinked as he realized that Harry had started to apologize for asking something so personal. "No Harry," he said quietly, "I was just thinking. You see, Tonks made me see that it wasn't her that I was protecting. I was protecting myself. I left her before she could leave me. That's what you are doing as well. You are making it easier for you to go to battle, but you are leaving Ginny to fight alone. Your heart was meant to be whole, Harry, and you need Ginny for that. That is the difference between you and Voldemort: he knows no love, shares with no one. You must be whole and human to win this fight."
They sat silently again, both watching their women talking together. "Do you know what Tonks is doing, Harry? She's helping Ginny with battle tactics. It's best not to try to fight a battle that you have no chance of winning mate." Remus grinned at Harry and downed the rest of his drink. It was time for a dance with his nymph.
They spent a lot of time these days just sitting together, close enough to touch. The war was at its height, and they were reminded of the need to value the time they had together—however much that might be. Last year was lost to them. There was nothing they could do to get it back. But they would not lose more time by mourning it. Knowing that what they had together had almost been lost, they were determined to do whatever was needed in order to stay together. It was going to take time before they were back on their old footing, but they both hoped that it would be better than before. They had weathered adversity, and come out of it together. Now, even the most simple moments were treasures.
Tonks used to be eager to go out, and worried about Remus's desire to hide himself, and their relationship, from the world. The last year lost had changed all of that. Being together was enough; each hour of it as precious as pearls. Tonks was reminded of something Molly had told her, when she had despaired that winter. Molly had consoled her with tea and wisdom, noting that, "if we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." It was spring for Remus and Tonks: their love restored, their life together like new everyday. It was a very welcome gift indeed.
Last spring, while at her most desperate, Tonks had toyed with Lupin by slowly and seductively eating a piece of chocolate birthday cake after an Order meeting. She knew that he did not intend to eat any, since he was in full self-deprivation mode, so she had chosen a chair in a well lit corner, and started in on that cake. She knew that he was trying to not look at either her or the cake, but he was failing dismally. Molly, bless her, had delivered Remus a plate of cake, which he set aside firmly. Within seconds of taking a glance at Tonks, still in ecstacy over her cake, Remus had hoovered up his cake and gone back for more. Tonks had decided that night, that if Remus didn't change his mind about her, she was going to borrow a Muggle seduction tip (shared by Sirius, of course), and jump out of a giant chocolate cake, so he wouldn't be able to resist her any more.
Remus had changed his mind. They were getting married very soon, and Tonks couldn't be happier. Remus had refused a bachelor party, though, saying that with the Marauders gone, it wouldn't feel right. So, Tonks had gotten help from a few giggling friends and had herself put (scantily clad) into a huge chocolate cake. Her friends rang Remus's doorbell and disapparated. The cake had been charmed to roll itself into Remus's flat when he opened the door, and sultry music was charmed to start. Through the cake, Tonks could barely hear Remus's confused, "what the..." before the music started and the top of the cake popped off. Tonks jumped out, in nearly naked glory and started to dance for the man she loved so much.
Before she'd gotten far, though, she registered two things: Remus looked pleased, but completely embarrassed, and that he was not alone. The Weasley men, Harry, Ron, Dung, and Kingsley were all sitting in Remus's lounge, mouths agape at the evening's entertainment. "Wicked," murmured the twins. Tonks yelped and ducked back inside of the cake.
"Gentlemen, thanks for coming tonight. As you can imagine, though, I'd rather continue this party without an audience," Remus chuckled. Amidst much laughter and well wishes, the men all went out, leaving behind an amused Remus and an absolutely mortified Tonks. Remus's strong arms gently lifted Tonks out of the cake and into his lap. At first he couldn't tell whether she was laughing or crying or both. "I've never had anyone do something so amazing for me before, Tonks. My two favorite things: chocolate and a beautiful woman."
Tonks was finally able to laugh. "I thought you weren't having a bachelor party!" she giggled.
"As did I. They surprised me. It wasn't much of a party though, and not nearly as much fun as what we can do now." His grin was the sexiest thing she had ever seen. "What's that?" she asked.
The Simple Moments
Waiting for Tonks to come to bed, he gazed out the window of their bedroom thinking of the moments that still took his breath away—the simple moments. Putting his toothbrush away next to hers, pulling back the blankets to see two pillows, placing his shoes next to hers in the hall, preparing two cups of tea every morning. He could hardly believe that he was now a married man.
They were much poorer than richer, he was more often sick than in health, the world was worse rather than better. They couldn't control any of that, but what they could control, they gave themselves up to: love, honor and cherish.
What do you remember?
On their first anniversary, Tonks served the leftover part of their wedding cake. "Eating the top of the cake on the first anniversary is a Muggle tradition," she'd explained, and went on to rhapsodize about how delicious it had been at their wedding. He'd confessed that he didn't remember the cake at all. Flowers? No. Music? No. Wine? No.
"What do you remember?" she'd asked impatiently.
"I remember the lace of your dress under my fingertips as we danced, the smell of your perfume, and most of all my pride every time I was able to say 'my wife' to anyone and everyone I could."
"Cake?" she'd offerred, blushing.
"Not just yet, love. Come dance with me."
The Sweetest Fruit
When Harry and Ginny had set off for their honyemoon, Harry had kept the time honored tradition of making the destination a secret. All he would say was, "somewhere warm." Remus had smiled, remembering the few happy months Sirius had spent somewhere down south trying to escape the Ministry and its Dementors.
They'd returned with bolts of brightly colored silk for Tonks and a crate of coffee, tea and tropical fruit for Remus. Some of the fruits he could easily recognize, but a few remained a mystery. One in particular, a spiky oval shaped one, smelled like it was completely rotten. Seeing his wrinkled nose, Ginny had laughed. "That one's durian. The vendor said it smells like Hell, but it tastes like Heaven!" Remus gave the fruit a wide berth, afraid that even being near it would cover him with that horrible stench.
Tonks, meanwhile, had charmed the peel off a pineapple and the four of them sat down down to enjoy it and catch up on news. When Harry and Ginny left, Tonks still wanted one more snack. She peeled some more mystery fruit and offered it to Remus. "What is it?"
"It's a mango. You've never seen a mango?"
He had seen them in supermarkets but he'd never seen one so yellow and fat. It smelled amazing. That must be what Sirius had been talking about. When he'd been cooped up in Grimmauld Place, Sirius had started to crave odd things: doughnuts from one particular shop, curry from one special restaurant, and mangoes. He'd badgered Remus into going out and looking for these things, and was invariably disappointed at what Remus brought back. He recalled Sirius's lengthy rant about what a perfect tropical mango was like. "Almost as good as sex, mate!"
Tonks laughed when he told her. "Judge for yourself. Sirius had been celibate for twelve years in Azkaban. It must have skewed his judgement. No fruit could be better than sex." And with that, Tonks popped a piece of mango into his mouth.
Oh. Now he understood.
"So," she asked, "better than making love to your beautiful wife?"
He paused before replying, mostly because he wasn't ready to swallow yet. The taste got better the longer he left it in his mouth. That pause was a mistake. Tonks started to pout. He swallowed regretfully. "No love, of course not."
"Good. Then you won't mind chucking out the rest of that mango and making love to me instead."
"But Tonks, it's a perfectly good mango," he said as he put another piece in his mouth. "Harry and Ginny went to a lot of effort to bring it back for us. I'd hate to waste it." Her eyes narrowed. "I mean, the mangoes in the supermarkets here are nothing like these. You know, they really are almost as good as..." and he stopped himself just in time. "I did say almost," he said with a grin as he reached for the last bit of mango.
She blocked him. Unbuttoning his shirt, she slid behind him and started kissing his neck. She had very active, naughty hands. "Please Dora, there's only a little bit left. Just give me one minute to finish." The fruit was almost in his mouth when she whispered, "but what if I do this?"
"Can you keep doing that while I eat the mango?"
"What about this?"
"Guh," he gasped. The rest of the fruit slipped to the floor, untasted.