Author's Note: This is actually a really old fic I wrote shortly after finishing Half-Blood Prince, but I never got around to putting it here in addition to on my livejournal until now. I want to get it out of the way since I will soon be starting my kind of "Remus/Tonks manifesto," a long story lovingly devoted all to this grand OTP that's been developing and evolving in my head ever since I read the chapter in the hospital wing, which will cover the entire time Tonks and Lupin have known each other. I was considering taking this one-shot and using it for one of the last chapters, but I've decided that their eventual getting-together will happen another way in "Fortress," as this fic will be called. So for now, this alternate version.


The funeral was going to be tomorrow. Remus and Tonks were both staying in extra staff bedrooms at Hogwarts tonight so they could be there. Staying here reminded Remus of the brief days he had taught here. And the wonderful days when he had gone to school here. Both of which were times he owed to Dumbledore's remarkable generosity. As he stood looking out of the window in his room, thinking about this didn't make him feel any better.

He heard the door open behind him, and for a brief moment light spilled into the completely dark room from the hall. When it closed he knew without looking that Tonks was standing there. She was holding a tray with a teapot and two cups.

"Hi," she said in a very quiet, tired voice. "I thought we could both use some tea." A moment passed in which he didn't seem to even be acknowledging that she was there. She said in a very concerned tone, "Remus?"

He turned to look at her, snapped out of his thoughts. "I'm sorry. Thank you, that's very kind of you, but. . ."

"Yeah," Tonks said in kind of a sighing way, putting the tray down on the desk by the door and sinking into the chair in front of it. "I don't really want any either. But I know I won't be able to sleep and it just seemed like the thing to do…make tea…" Her words got quieter and quieter as she talked, eventually trailing off into silence.

And so the room became silent. It was completely silent and completely dark but for the small amount of moonlight coming in from the window. Remus almost thought he could still hear the lamenting song of Dumbledore's phoenix, as if the notes and the emotions it conveyed were imprinted on his memory. Ringing in his head, it filled the silence in his room with thick, unbearable despair.

Tonks had her hands clasped together in her lap and was looking down at the floor. He knew the real reason she was here was so that he wouldn't have to be alone right now. She wasn't going to leave even though he didn't want any tea.

He had been alone last time. When Sirius died. When it was over and he had gone back to his bedroom at the Order's headquarters, he had known then that he was truly alone. His last real friend was dead and there was nobody there to comfort him. There was nobody to talk to about it. Nobody there to put an arm around his shoulder or hold him close. He had been unsure about what he was supposed to do with all the emotions he was feeling then. There was no one to release his feelings to and he was out of the habit of crying; that was just something that had resulted from the kind of life he had, his constant awareness of the need to hold himself together. So after Sirius's death, he had never come out and expressed what he was feeling. There had never been a breakdown, a release. Even now he felt the weight from that needing to be lifted.

He looked over at Tonks for a second and thought about everything they had said in the hospital wing just an hour ago. How he had said this was not the time to talk about whether or not they should be together. The truth was that the time to talk about that had come and passed multiple times already. She had brought it up so many times and he had avoided the subject relentlessly. The last time they had talked about it, it had not really been talking; it had been a terrible argument. She had shouted at him about how he must not really care about her if he would put her through all this pain, and after that everything had become awkward between them and she seemed to have given up on convincing him.

There was really nothing more to say anyway. All of the words had been said and there was nothing more to talk about. Despite what she had said in their last argument, he knew he did not need to tell her he loved her. But he understood now more than ever that just knowing some things was not enough. Some deep feelings had to be shown and expressed outwardly or they would become too much to carry. This was why he had wished more than anything that he could just cry when Sirius died. This was why Tonks had lost control of her morphing capabilities and become worn-looking and thin ever since her feelings for him had grown into something deep and uncontrollable.

With this thought, Remus turned around and faced Tonks. She kept staring off in another direction even as he walked over to her. When he suddenly dropped down and kneeled on the floor in front of where she sat, her head jerked away from where she had been looking and she stared down at him in alarm.

He couldn't do it again. He couldn't go through this alone like last time. He needed her right now. He was losing the battle.

His hands reached forward on each side of the chair and he lightly clutched her hips. She had not expected him to touch her, and she was so shocked that this made her twitch in surprise and jerk away from him just a little, scooting back against the back of the chair. But then she relaxed and reached out, putting a hand on his shoulder.

He needed to break down. He needed to show her how much he loved her instead of trying to tell her that he cared, which had not worked when they were arguing. He needed to stop holding himself together, lose control. He needed to let everything go.

As she looked down at him questioningly, he turned his face to the side and slowly lowered his head down into her lap. In the dark she could not see or hear him crying, but almost immediately his back starting trembling with every sob. He circled his arms around her hips and they stayed this way for a long time, his tears running down his face quietly and ending as drops on her jeans. She leaned over him, running her hands through his hair and rubbing his upper back. She did not say anything; she knew he just needed to get the tears out.

They weren't just tears for Dumbledore. They were for Sirius, too. And for her. And for himself. And for Lily and James. They accounted for many, many years of loneliness, and they were for everything he was going to say goodbye to now that he was finally opening himself up to someone else and letting her love him. And there were going to be a lot of these tears. But she would stay here with him as long as he needed her to. Never had she imagined that after all of her hurting because of him, all of this frustration between them would end with her healing him and not the other way around.

But he was finally letting her, and that was all that she needed.

There were still hours to go before the sun would rise, and the sky outside was as black as ever. All over the school right now, students and teachers were surely shedding tears of their own. The phoenix's song was still ringing in their ears and the thick atmosphere of pain and sadness was still present, the wounds left behind by death still fresh. But even so, the little bedroom they were in didn't seem so suffocatingly dark now. It was suddenly as if they had their own Hand of Glory giving off its own small light only they could see. As if they were now protected with some kind of special cloak that would make it easier for them to face tomorrow.

A little more love in the world.