Tactics

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 if 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.

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Tonks was not letting him get away with it this time. If he was determined to push her away again, so be it, but she was done with being polite and loving in her responses to him. This was going to get ugly, and Tonks rather enjoyed that thought.

"Tonks," pleaded Remus, "we've been through this a hundred times. You seem to be in love with me, but it just isn't realistic. It's old ground, I know, but you have to understand. I'm just too..."

"STOP!" she shrieked before he could get any further. 'I swear to you that if you say that rubbish one more time, I will permanently disable your ability to speak. I have had people treat me like I am immature because of my hair and my clothes. I have had pureblood snobs treat me like I'm rubbish because my father is Muggle-born. But I have never had anyone be as patronizing to me as you have been this year. I've heard your '101 Reasons Why Tonks Deserves Someone Better Than Me' speech enough times to recite it along with you, Lupin." When he heard her use his surname, Remus blanched and started to speak, but Tonks raised her wand and pointed it right between his eyes. "Do. Not. Tempt. Me. Lupin." She exhaled slowly, and lowered her wand, but only a bit.

"You think I just don't understand your reasons, that you can somehow make me see. But the truth is that you don't trust me. You are afraid that I will someday see that I've made a horrible mistake. That I will change my mind and leave you. You are afraid of what people will think about us. You. Not me. You don't have to decide whether being with me is right or wrong for me. You just have to decide whether when I promise to love you in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, you will believe me or not. It's that simple. YOU are afraid of ME. I know exactly who and what you are. I know my mind and my heart, and I know that I can handle you. You need to decide right now whether you want me or not. Whether you trust me or not." Tonks lowered her wand and stood as still as stone.

The silence stretched on until she couldn't bear it any more. She turned to walk away, but slowly Remus lifted his hand and touched her cheek. As he did so, her hair turned just the slightest shade of pink. What they could have between them was truly magical, in every sense. Remus pulled her to the ground, and they held each other and wept and kissed. He didn't know what he had done to be so blessed with someone like her, but he knew then that he would never walk away from her again.

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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 split his soul in order to maintain his power. You must be whole 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.