Aki- Written because thier is not enough Remus&Tonks, Remus&Sirius, and Sirius&Tonks interaction in the actual series because thier is not enough room for it, so I wrote one. Hope you enjoy and just to warn you it is a bit random and covers several different themes.
The Company You Keep
They both looked much older than they actually were. Although only in their mid-thirties they both looked at least a decade older. Premature lines etched their faces, silver hairs had sneaked onto their heads, bags of weariness hung under their eyes, but mostly it was the knowing expression on their faces, the deepness of their dark eyes they clearly told of seeing too much… living too long and, at the same time, not living enough.
"Molly will kill us when she discovers we were smoking in here again," commented Remus, a cigarette idly resting between two of his fingers, his elbow propped up on the table.
"It's my kitchen," retorted Sirius gruffly, leaning his chair back onto two legs, feet propped up in the table, "I'll do whatever the hell I want." He took a long, defiant drag on his cigarette which resulted in him breaking out in a coughing fit.
Remus tried, unsuccessfully, to contain his smirk.
"Did you ever think that life would suck this much?" asked Sirius offhandedly.
"Smoking makes you bitter, Sirius," Remus replied, not answering the question.
"No, mate, I believe that is result of the firewhiskey," said Sirius with a bit of jest on his voice, taking a large gulp from an already half empty bottle before slamming it hard back onto the worn wooden table. "But seriously, did you ever expect life to turn out this way…when we were in school?"
Remus dragged on his cigarette slowly, expertly exhaling the smoke out of the corner of his mouth that spoke of years of practice. "No. But back in school I don't think any of us looked much farther than the next full moon or exam time…"
"I guess not… But didn't you always think, you know, we'd have a happy ending…"
Remus shrugged. "We had it too good back then. I guess we should have known it couldn't have lasted…"
"Who's the bitter one now, mate?" asked Sirius with the tiniest of grins.
"Well, Sirius, you weren't the only one who lost everything that day..." said Remus slowly, deliberately.
Sirius looked at his friend for a moment, soaking in the fact that he was not the only one who had faced a dreaded twelve years alone, mourning their losing, being haunted by the memories, the what if's…
"Do you ever blame yourself?," Sirius asked, "I mean, I know I do. But do you ever think that if you did something different…that maybe they— James and Lily, would still be alive?"
Remus peered over his mug he had lifted with his free hand halfway to his mouth. "Every day," he answered hoarsely. He took a sip immediately after he spoke as if to try and get the bitter taste of them out of his mouth.
"Me too," replied Sirius solemnly, but factually.
A mutual, understanding silence fell between them. They reveled in the hurt of their losses as the mixed scents of cigarette smoke and stale alcohol filled the dimly light room. Their age seemed even more evident now. They had been far too young when they had first faced these problems many years ago. Their youth had been stolen away from them, and much too literally at that. The charming handsomeness the Hogwarts' girls would agree they had in their school days was all but gone, stripped away from one by years of an unjust stay in Azkaban, the whole while at the mercy of the dementors, the other by years of depression as he faced the prejudiced world and his losses alone and friendless.
"At least we still have Harry," said Remus, breaking the silence.
"Missed a few years in between didn't we…?" said Sirius, a bitter joke.
Remus didn't respond.
"He has too much on his shoulders for a boy his age," said Sirius sadly. "He should be worrying about girls and grades and Quidditch, not a dark lord who's out to kill him."
"I wish we could do more for him," commented Remus, not realizing how true those words were, and how harsh a sting they caused as the reality of their lives was shown in sharp vividness all the sudden.
"But we can't," added Sirius. "You're a werewolf and I'm a bloody convict. No one wants us to help him. They'd rather send him off to the Muggles."
Remus, again, didn't respond. He knew how Sirius felt about being useless to the Order. Yes, he had given them a headquarters, but could not do much else since. He must have felt doubly useless that he couldn't help his own godson either. However Remus knew a little bit about uselessness. His condition had hardly made him a worthy helper for the Order when no one in the wizarding world would listen to him because of it.
"I guess all we can do is be here for him when he needs us,"
suggested Remus after a long moment's silence.
"If we're still around," said Sirius darkly.
"Don't talk like that," reprimanded Remus.
"I'm just being realistic…, but I – I don't want to lose anyone else…" he added sorrowfully.
Remus observed his old friend for a moment before answering, "Neither do I."
"Look," said Sirius, his tone suddenly urgent, leaning forward over the table slightly, smoke and drink now ignored. "Look," he repeated, "Remus, mate, if I go first—"
"No one's going anywhere!" retorted the werewolf in sudden anger.
"But if I do," said Sirius even more urgently in an almost desperate whisper, seemingly unperturbed by his friend's outburst. "Will you take care of him?" said Sirius in a way that made Remus sure he was speaking of the youngest Potter boy. "Make sure he doesn't get into too big trouble—"
"Sirius," said Remus in a slightly annoyed, yet sincere way. "You don't even have to ask…"
The two caught each others eyes and their was a deep understanding. Both cared more for Harry's life then their own and both were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice if need be.
"You're a better man than I am, Remus," said Sirius, almost casually, taking another drag of his cigarette as he broke eye contact.
"I don't believe that—," Remus started, but just that instant the kitchen door banged opened and a bright-haired Auror stumbled through none too gracefully with swear. Once she had regained her footing and balance he looked up too see the two men staring at her, both smirking slightly. Although the one she was not related to was trying to look concerned for her well-being but the such occurrence happened so often that their was really no need.
"Tripped," explained Tonks with a shrug before taking a seat next to Remus and across from her cousin. "What are we drinking?" she asked, leaning across the table to snatch Sirius's bottle. He growled at her action but said nothing.
"What are you doing here so late?" asked Remus politely.
"I just got off guard duty," she enlightened, taking a large sip of firewhiskey and grimacing slightly as she swallowed the burning liquid. "Seeing as I have to go back to the ministry in a few hours anyway I thought it would be easier to crash here."
"That's nice," said Sirius with serious disinterest. "Now give it," he said reaching his arm across the table and motioning for the bottle. Tonks ignored him and took another gulp of the alcohol.
"So what are you two doing up so late yourselves?" she asked, addressing the politer of the two.
"Oh, you know," said Remus vaguely, "Just old friends reminiscing."
"Yes, the grownups are talking. So go away Nymphie," said Sirius with a dismissive wave of the hand. Tonks glared at him, but mostly for the use of the terrible nickname. She didn't take his comment seriously, he just liked to antagonize her at times, and, well, she always dished it back.
"What's got his knickers in a bunch?" Tonks asked Remus.
"Oh, he's just being jaded," replied the werewolf lightly.
"Only because she took my drink!" Sirius said, but was ignored.
"We should really have a discussion about the company you keep, Remus," said Tonks in a teasing manner behind her hand as if she were whispering a secret. "I fear the cynicism might be contagious… and I don't think 'cynical' would look good on you."
"I'm not that cynical!" exclaimed Sirius defensively. "You're just too damn cheerful all the time!"
"And this drinking and smoking," continued Tonks loudly, drowning out her cousin's protests. "It's bad for your health."
"You know what else is bad for your health? Stealing my liquor!...And don't you dare blame me for the smoking. Remus had that habit long before me. He peer pressured me into it."
"I never pressured you into anything1' Remus protested.
Tonks gave Remus a look, raising an eyebrow. "I never pegged you as a smoker."
Remus tried to shrug it off. "I'm a stress smoker."
"Stress smoker?" derided Sirius, taking the moment to steal Remus unattended mug for his own, "I think the term 'chain smoker' is more appropriate."
Tonks eyebrows rose higher. "Is this true?" she asked, amused that the polite, mild mannered Remus Lupin would have what many considered a foul habit.
"Well, I've been under a lot of stress recently," he replied with a cheeky grin.
"Oh, get a room you two," said Sirius, flicking his cigarette ash half-heartedly in their direction, although he had the hint of a smile on his face.
"You know what? You are an interesting fellow, Remus Lupin," said Tonks, a light genuine grin on her face. "The world could do with a few more people like you in it."
"Here's a good guy, I was just telling him earlier," added Sirius lightly. Remus looked like he wasn't sure to blush and deny such praise or accept it and mockingly boast. He compromised by saying nothing.
"That he is," agreed Tonks.
Sirius looked between his last old friend's face, wearing a smile, appreciative smile that reached his eyes and his young cousin, beaming happily and unabashedly at the man next to her. Sirius silently wished that even though he had lost his happy ending that Remus, who already faced enough hardship to last him the rest of his life, could still find his happy ending, or realize it was sitting right in front of him.
Because Sirius knew that Remus was a better man then him, although the werewolf would always deny it. He of all people deserved it, despite the questionable company he kept.