Wild and Pink

Dumbledore was dead. The reality of those words haunted Remus Lupin in a way that he could never have imagined. He couldn't help but blame himself for what had happened on that fateful night at Hogwarts, even though his memory of the events that had taken place was vague and confusing to him. However, despite his blurry recollection, two things that night stood out like a beacon of light on a mist filled moor. Dumbledore was dead, and his killer had been Severus Snape.

The news of Dumbledore's demise had spread quickly and with this grief travelled a sickening fear and reality at the realisation that Dumbledore had been the only man that Voldemort had even feared. Twelve weeks had passed since the wizarding world mourned the old professor's passing, and speculation and panic had been rife. The news of the fight between Order of the Phoenix members and loyal Death Eaters on Hogwarts School grounds had added to the panic and fear that many magical citizens had felt. For years the school was thought of as being the last place that any evil would come to, it was held as a sacred stronghold in many witches' and wizards' minds, but the attack, and Dumbledore's ensuing death, had ravaged these last hopes of safety, leaving the wizarding population reeling in fear.

September brought changes to Hogwarts as the new term began yielding only the return of a handful of students, and the absence of Harry Potter from the school only added to the lack of confidence that parents now had about the school's security.

Professor McGonagall, with the aid of professors Flitwick, Sprout and Hagrid, remained as the soul teaching staff of the handful of children that had returned. The government had refused to accept any new first years, and so only the bravest of the final years, who were determined to sit their NEWTS and OWLS, no matter what, had returned. The following weeks had seen the Order the busiest it had ever been. A continued protection had been setup by the Order members and by government Aurors to provide round the clock protection for staff and students. And so it was that Remus had once again found himself traversing the halls of the only true home that he had ever known.

Remus found it hard not to think about events that had lead to Dumbledore's death as he walked the hallways at night. The occasional sighting of Peeves as his only company, it was even harder to think how the man who had been Dumbledore's murderer had walked these very same passageways year after year and had deceived everyone, including the man who had both defended and protected by him. Snape was a murderer. Twelve weeks ago that thought was inconceivable, the Order had been strong and Dumbledore had always trusted him. But now? Now life as they knew it would never be the same again.

Sighing Remus rested on the middle step of the Grand Staircase of the Entrance Hall. His head bowed low and his wand, clenched in this left hand, hung limp at his side. He was tired, not through fatigue or through exhaustion but through the same thing that brought him his very strength. Remus was a werewolf and as he looked at the dappled moonlight that shone through the large windows which flanked the aged oaken doors, Remus was reminded of this, his curse and the fact that soon…very soon he would change.

It was a side of himself that Remus hated, he feared because he could not control it. It was his rage and his anger, but this hidden beast, this brutal animal force, was also his strength.

It had helped him to carry on when all else looked lost, to follow through where others would have fallen away, but now, in these darkening days, even Remus' strength was slowly ebbing. He could feel himself growing tired everyday…little by little…piece by tiny piece.

Dumbledore had been the one that had kept them alive, Dumbledore had been the only one that knew how to defeat Voldemort, but now that secret had died with the only person that could save them all. All hope looked gone and so Remus had patrolled these corridors night after night, trying to ensure that somehow the remaining members of the Order could find a way to help bring an end to this terror by working a magic of their own.

Many people still clung to the hopes that Harry Potter, the boy who lived, would save them. But Remus didn't believe this, he never had. Yes, the boy was a good wizard, and would one day be very powerful, but Harry was young. Too young and Remus could only hope that if the young wizard had any sense that he would flee and that he wouldn't go looking for Voldemort.

Sighing once more Remus dragged his hands through his greying hair, his eyes felt heavy and he longed for a wake-less sleep.

"It wasn't your fault," a soft voice breathed from behind him as he finally realised he wasn't alone. Remus didn't have to turn to know who the owner of that soft and gentle treat was. It belonged to Nymphadora Tonks, Auror and Order member, and as she lowered herself down beside him Remus smiled.

Their relationship had started quite by accident, a consoling hug and kiss between two friends thrust together over the loss of a much loved friend and cousin, Sirius Black. Sirius' death had been over a year ago, but they had been so close to each other back then that once more in this trying time they had again found solace in each others' arms.

Remus had struggled against his feelings for the young witch, what he thought to be right and what his heart screamed out for had been two different things. Both passionate and demanding, logic and emotion and the latter had scared him, the latter was ruled by the beast within and Remus was afraid that once this beast had been set free he would be lost.

His head had governed his life for so long that, despite his yearnings, he had listened; she was beautiful it cried. Young and full of life while he, it scorned, had been tainted by time, he was diseased and dangerous. And at this thought a new terror had arisen. What if he hurt her? What if, during one night when the beast's senses were heightened beyond all control, he injured, or worse, killed her?

But Tonks seemed to have read his mind, her gentle touch was all that he needed, her warm breath and soft lips spoke volumes and during their times together, Remus finally found that in her arms he could be more than just a beast, she completed him. And so as they sat silently on the stair their arms entwined with each others, her head gently resting on his shoulder and a small smile playing on both their lips, nothing else seemed to matter. Outside a war was being raged but together Remus knew that he could face anything and would stand till his last breath to protect that which he loved.

Remus smiled at the thought of these words, he loved! Never had he thought he'd hear himself say them, but with his love he found a new strength and with Tonks he found he no longer felt tired. She was his and he was hers and together they would ride out the storm.