Author's Note: Thanks to katmillia and joelyjo for the beta work and being awesome. All this belongs to JKR for if I owned them, Deathly Hallows would have ended differently.
These Subtle Charms
"Stop," she whispers, annoyed. "Stop touching me, or I'll get distracted."
She can feel Remus' smile against her shoulder, but he doesn't remove his hands from her side and she can feel his warm fingers against her skin. She struggles to regain some sort of composure, reminding herself that she's an Auror and he's a git and he's only doing this, only pressing this close up against her for safety; if they're seen, if they're caught, God only knows what Bellatrix will do.
She tries not to think about it, and silently casts another shield charm instead.
After Dumbledore dies, things are horrible. Bill's still recuperating at Hogwarts and Molly still succumbs to periods of weeping for her oldest boy. McGonagall sees the students off with the other teachers, and Mad-Eye goes to Grimmauld Place to lay a set of traps for Snape, should he go there. With Dumbledore dead, the secret is lost.
She is instructed to remain in Hogsmeade until the children leave, and then a while longer, as Hogwarts is a crime scene and she is a law enforcement officer. She patrols regularly, coming home every night to Remus who, it seems, has taken up residence in her tiny room.
She can't complain, for the most part, because she's forgotten how nice it is to be around the one you love. And, it seems, Remus is of the same mindset. For the first week or so, he keeps touching her – brushing her arm, or holding her while they sleep, kissing her when she comes home and (on several very nice occasions) kissing her until they fall onto the bed and the sheets are tangled around their limbs and all she can think about is him.
She likes this – having him back with her, having him with her. He's thinner, and scarred now like he never was before, the result of untold terrors with Greyback's pack. At first, he is ashamed of them – it's what makes him an outcast, and her tainted by association – but he grow to understand that she doesn't care about scars, just the feel of his body against hers. He's finally tangible again, and he's actually here and he's with her and it's too nice for words.
"Your housemates are a bit suspicious," he says, one day, fixing the collar of his shirt. They're going to the Hog's Head to grab some food and meet up with Fred and George, who just finished visiting with Bill. It's almost like a proper date, and she's happy since they haven't been out together in a while.
She shrugs. "Don't you mean envious?"
"I thought I saw Dawlish eyeing me, that one day," he says with a smile, straightening his cuffs.
"Of course he would," she says, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "I've got a rather handsome boyfriend."
He wraps his arms around her, holding her still, and she feels so incredibly happy. He's not normally this affectionate, and she knows that the spell will be broken once they leave Hogsmeade next week and rendezvous with the Order. She doesn't want to think about all that she'll have to do leading up to it, and so she says, "'m hungry" into his shirt. He laughs and pushes her towards the door, and the feel of his hands on her waist is the greatest feeling in the world.
The Order is worried – there has been an increase in Death Eater activity across the country, and there are rumours that they're infiltrating the Ministry.
"S'not safe for you anymore, Nymphadora," Mad-Eye says one night. "They'll start targeting Muggle-borns, then go after those they consider blood traitors, and all the while be taking any magical half-blood with gifts they don't understand out the back way."
It's decided amongst others in the Order that she will quietly disappear. Everyone will suspect her dead, or underground, and though it's not what she wants, it may be the safest course of action. On the bright side, she's managed to morph again recently (the Weasley twins like to imply that it was Remus' 'love' that helped her regain her powers, much to Remus' bemusement) and so hiding shouldn't be a problem.
Remus holds her hand as they leave the meeting, held at Kingsley's Fidelis-Charmed flat in Muggle London. She's grateful for the contact, because she feels unsteady and uncertain. She's always wanted to be an Auror and now she'll have to give it up because the world she lives in does not want someone like her.
As they make it out onto the street, they look around for Death Eaters or anyone acting suspicious. The only thing they see, however, is a very large Muggle wedding, and she pauses briefly to watch. The bride is glorious in her wide gown and everyone looks so happy, so unaware of the war and pain that others are suffering, and she is envious of that.
She lingers too long, however, and Remus says softly, "We can't have a wedding like that," misunderstanding her longing gaze as a desire to be a big poofy bride with flowers and annoying guests. She looks at him for a moment, caught between his misunderstanding and the admission of how they can't have a wedding like that, not that they won't.
"That's all right," she says with a smile, "I couldn't stand having to wait until after the reception to ravish you."
"Do you see her?" Tonks whispers, and Remus shakes his head. They're so close together than any stray spell will hit both of them at once.
"Maybe we should split up?" he whispers back. She is thankful that Hermione taught her the Muffliato charm or else they'd be in trouble.
"If we split up," she whispers, "she could catch one of us unawares. At least here, she can trigger our protective spells first."
"But if she takes us both out – "
She shakes her head. "That won't happen. We'll make it out of here." She's quiet for a moment. "This is my fault, not yours."
The next few days are spent moving her stuff to Bill's flat, the one he had when he worked at Gringott's. Moody double and triple-checks the protective spells, and they make arrangements for Remus' next transformation, which is a few days from now. She finds it extraordinary that Remus comes with her when she moves, whether for protection or for love, and she doesn't really question which. All that matters is that they are here, together, and things are fine.
Okay, well, things are not always fine – he still has that habit of going into a sulk about one thing or the other, especially when the moon draws near. Sometimes she swear she can hear the wheels in his head turning, he's thinking so hard, and she hates the days that he feels he doesn't deserve any of this – her love, shelter, friends and a pseudo-family. It's frustrating, having the person you love think they're not good enough for you, but it's a cycle, and it ebbs and flows with the moon.
She gathers that his first transformation away from the pack in almost a year makes him feel edgy, and puts into sharp relief the differences between the lives they live. In fact, she's been waiting for it, and one night, while making tea, he comes into the kitchen and leans on the counter. She mentally braces herself for the onslaught as she pours water into the two mugs.
"What about a Muggle ceremony?" he asks, and she puts the kettle back on the stove.
This is all very sudden, though she can't deny it's been on her mind for a while. In recent years, marriage and babies haven't been her top priority, but she hadn't met anyone who she'd actually want to be with for, well, ever. She spent her time watching school friends get married and admiring, from afar, the domesticity of it all, thinking how nice it would be to have the one you love with you, as your partner, all the time. She's not much for the wife staying at home and minding the kids, and so whoever she does like enough to want to marry would have to understand that – and she almost thought that impossible until she met Remus.
"We haven't really discussed this," she says, handing him his tea. "But now's as good a time as any."
"I, just…" he trails off. "I've been thinking about it, before we saw that wedding the other day. I know that war makes people want to go off and get married, and I never felt that way the first time but this time's different." He takes the cup of tea she offers him.
"But…" she starts for him, and he takes a sip of tea.
"But, I'm a werewolf. And if things go as bad as we expect them to, what with Death Eaters and You-Know-Who gaining the upper hand...any affiliation with me might bring you and your loved ones great pain."
"I think I understand the threat fairly well," she says, changing her hair from pink to blue to illustrate her point. Remus smiles, but it doesn't reach his eyes. "I understand your concern, but I don't think it really matters what we are at this point, if it all goes pear-shaped. My dad's Muggle-born. I'm the niece of Bellatrix Lestrange. I've pretty much been shat on in the luck department anyway, but I'd…I think I'd like being your wife."
Saying those words bring tears to her eyes, and she places the cup down on the countertop and brushes tears away with her fingertips. His hand wraps around hers, and they're so close together and is this really happening?
Remus says, "I think I'd really like to be your husband as well." The smile on his face is genuine, and bright as the sun, and when she kisses him she tastes happiness.
They plan it out carefully: they'll do their research, figure out the Muggle statutes because they can't get married in wizarding society; that would be impossible, especially for Remus. They'll forge Muggle birth certificates, because Confunding the judge would be silly for a civil ceremony.
But first, they must tell her parents and the Order.
They wait until a few days after the moon, when Remus regains some color after a hard transformation, even with the Wolfsbane that Fleur made for him and Bill. It was touching, to see how Fleur worked so hard to make the potion, and how she made it for Remus as well. She's never seen him this nervous before, not even when they first started seeing each other.
"I haven't seen your parents for years," he says. "And they've heard loads about me, in the Prophet and so on…"
"And from me, and I didn't really have anything good to say for a bit there," she admits, "but I don't think it'll be a problem."
And it isn't. If anyone understands prejudice, it's Andromeda Tonks, who welcomes Remus with open arms while Ted tries to be as physically intimidating as possible (easy to do when you're over six-foot tall and weigh over fifteen stone) before shaking Remus' hand.
The Order is far more intimidating so they only tell Mad-Eye, who is their secret-keeper. His reaction is satisfactory – though he insists they tell Kingsley so there is an Order member at the wedding (Mad-Eye would draw too much attention).
They plan to get married at the beginning of July, before things get crazy. She admits, she's excited by this development, the way that things have come together so easily. She goes dress shopping with her mother, settling on a short, white dress that's still modest enough for her mother's tastes. She feels silly being so girly, but realizes she's not the only one excited about the wedding.
One day, Remus comes home from an errand with Moody clutching a box.
"Look," he says, opening it to reveal a diamond ring, small but pretty. Her mouth opens.
"I've got a matching band for it, and my own ring. Muggle pawn-shop, and Moody checked them for spells, but…" he smiles shyly, "they're ours."
Her heart thuds in her chest and she wants to cry again, because all of this is more than she imagined.
"Will you wear it?" he asks softly, and she holds out her left hand.
"Always," she says. The tiny diamond glitters in the light, and when Remus smiles, she can't help but smile too.
"Did you send your patronus to the Order?" he asks, and she nods.
"Over twenty minutes ago. They should be here by now – unless no one got it."
He squeezes her side with his hand. "They'll be here."
"Do you think anyone else has come to help her?" she asks. He shrugs.
It's just a civil ceremony, and she wears her dress and he wears a suit that he bought on clearance. He looks so handsome and she can't help smiling at him while the justice performs the ceremony. For his part, he looks the happiest she's ever seen him, and she wishes it'll always be this nice.
It's just her parents and Kingsley as witnesses, and they plan on going to the Burrow afterwards to tell everyone. But for now, it's just for them, all of this. And it's enough.
They open champagne at her parent's house, and when she takes a sip she realizes she's Mrs. Remus John Lupin now, and it makes her happy.
They change before going to the Burrow, and don't get there until late because stepping inside their apartment as a married couple is like an aphrodisiac, and before she realizes it, they're in the bedroom and all she's aware of is Remus touching her and how different everything feels, like she's feeling everything again for the first time: the touch of his fingers against her face, his mouth against hers, skin against skin is suddenly very different because, today, they are no longer their own separate souls but one in the same.
He kisses his way down her throat and she thinks she hears him sigh, "My Dora," and knows that, for him, this is immutable and perfect – knowing that she loves him enough to bind herself to him for eternity, to be his wife and partner. It's something he's confessed he never thought he'd have, and in the days before the wedding expressed being so grateful for.
She rolls her hips and rolls him over onto his back, keeping their rhythm. "Yours," she whispers with a smile, and the happiness on his face overwhelms her.
Kingsley, knowing how Molly would react, tells her after the ceremony, so when they show up several hours later, they're greeted with a large banner that proudly shouts "CONGRATULATIONS REMUS AND TONKS!" loudly from its perch across the kitchen. There are streamers and smiling faces and Remus can't help but blush when the twins tease him about their late arrival. Molly has made a full dinner, and Fleur mentions how envious she is of their quick nuptials.
Later, when Remus helps Molly clear the table, Arthur leans over and whispers, "You make him so happy, you know? Even if he's been a bit of a git lately."
"Yeah," she says, watching her husband's back, "I know."
But nothing is as easy as it seems, or so it turns out: Kingsley was trailed to the wedding by a Death Eater, and now Lord Voldemort knows of their marriage. And if Voldemort knows –
She is not surprised to find Bellatrix targeting them during a small skirmish with some other Death Eaters by the Ministry. In fact, she's not surprised to find Bellatrix chasing them, flinging curse after curse towards them.
"We need to go," she says, sending off a Patronus towards the Burrow and hoping that someone gets it, and soon. They rush through the streets of London, with only Bellatrix on their tail, until they find a small alleyway. They find shelter in the backroom of a closed up Muggle bar, pressed between empty beer kegs and dusty papers advertising Muggle beers.
"This is my fault," he whispers, "I should never have married you."
"Ta, love," she replies, casting protective charms.
"I ruined you. I've made your family turn against you…"
She smacks him. "You have done nothing of the sort. I chose this, I chose you. I love you. And I was already fucked to begin with, being what I am and who my parents are, so there's nothing you can say to make me change my mind about whose fault it is so get down and wait for the Order."
"Hello?" someone yells from the front of the bar.
"State your name!" Remus calls out.
"It's me, Bill Weasley, eldest son of Arthur and Molly Weasley, husband-to-be of Triwizard Champion Fleur Delacoeur, and the man who set your lovely new wife Nymphadora's eyebrows on fire with a stray jinx aimed at Falstaff Murphy."
"Git, I remember that," she says. "I've never forgiven you," she calls back to him.
"Are you alone?" Remus calls out.
"No, I've got Hestia with me. Looks like your crazy aunt has gone."
They slip out of the back to meet the two Order members, and leave together through the front.
"I'm sorry," Remus says, squeezing her hand as they move quickly down the street.
"It's okay, I understand," she says. "But stop being so self-pitying all the time. You're stuck with me now, so you better appreciate it." She smiles, and is happy to see him return it.
"I know," he says softly. "I know."