My first Harry Potter fanfiction... well... that I've posted. Any and all thoughts are welcome.
Thank you to my seeester who played pinch-beta for me on this one. She's a doll... and now has pink hair, like Tonks.
Late nights; they tended to tweak the vision and dull the mind. Late nights were when lucid thoughts, thoughts that had no business being thought during the light of day, tended to infiltrate the psych. When the moon hung low behind the clouds (half full tonight, another fourteen days until he would have to worry again) he tended to open the shutters and gaze up at it, the true-white of it never ceasing to amazing him.
So pure, but not.
Late nights, like the one that had slivered into the kitchen, tended to wrap around his soul and squeeze, begging him to examine the darker, deeper recesses of his mind.
People came and went from the house, now and again. No one tended to stay inside there too long anymore, as though they could feel Sirius still lurking about.
As though they wished to wait for him to return; perhaps they knew that if they stayed too long inside of Grimmauld Place that they would waste away there waiting, hoping.
Remus Lupin had taken to making pots of tea, large pots, as though he were expecting a visitor; once brewed, he'd lose the taste for it, pour it out and retire, always wanting to glance over his shoulder as he ascended the stairs towards bed as though Sirius was watching him... as though someone else was watching, placing blame.
Entirely too solitary, the march from downstairs to up, from kitchen to bed, from night to day. To the ministry and back; to Hogwarts and back, to and from and from and to, a march that was repetitious, that kept him hypnotized, that kept him form thinking. It was almost welcome, the banalities of everyday existence, the ordinariness that the war had taken on.
But late nights, those were an entirely different matter and he was prone to reflection.
Often times, while awake in his dusty bed, he would hear a 'woosh' of air and swear that someone had entered through the portkey; someone friendly, no doubt, as it was charmed against dangerous persons. But he would wait and listen-pause mid-thought and wait-waiting to hear more, wanting to hear more, generally falling asleep before another sound could be made.
This late night was no different; cool air filtered in through the cracks in the windows, keeping him almost at peace. The familiar 'woosh' perked up his ears and again he waited, waited, wanting. Lupin rolled his neck, forcing the cricks out of it as he sat up and leaned closer towards the door; the wolf in him kept him alert, though not as a predator, as an inquisitor. Suddenly, as if it had taken great care to weave itself up the stairs, under his door and to his ears, there was a barely-discernable creak.
Well, he'd never heard that sound before.
Wrapping himself within his tattered, dingy dressing gown, he slipped his feet into worn slippers and, now taking on the characteristics of a predator, silently opened his door and slid onto the stairs. He took great care, placing a foot carefully on each step before moving for the next. It was long minutes before he was able to reach the bottom landing and he had to pause for a moment, working out a cramp in his calf.
A glance towards the kitchen confirmed his suspicions: someone had arrived and, it appeared, they had started a fire beneath the cauldron. Straightening his spine, he made his way towards the door, expecting an insomnia-ridden Molly (she'd never been one for sleeping charms, made her too drowsy in the morning) to be hovering over the ample pot, cooking something larger than her kitchen would accommodate.
However, pushing open the creaky door (after he'd taken all that care to be quiet, quiet-like-a-mouse) he was greeted with the slumped form of Nymphadora Tonks. Her hair had taken to looking mousy and limp, so far removed from her usual pink; it made him wonder, that color, what was going on in her head. It made him wonder how she hadn't heard him, pushing through the door.
"Good evening," he broke the silence gently, as not to startle her; he thought he saw her hair attempt to flare as her shoulders rose, realizing that she had been caught.
Slowly, she turned her head and glanced at him over her shoulder. "Wotcher," she replied, without emotion, and he noticed her hair, the ruddy, dark color of it.
He didn't quite know what to do, so he simply stepped into the room and levitated a teapot towards the stove.
"Yes, so it's been you that's been disturbing my slumber these past few nights."
"Can't say disturbed," still she wouldn't look at him. "Never seemed to really disturb you, merely taking an interest in your tea." Tonks sighed and held up a dusty volume. Aldous Huxley, 'Brave New World,' "And your reading material."
Lupin smiled and slid into a chair at the end of the long table, looking across the long expanse of wood at her face. "Muggle authors, they tend to pen human emotion much better... I can't stand some of the things that are written in this realm; they're truly ridiculous."
Her bottom lip was sucked in between her teeth and she worried it for a minute, "Aye, agreed."
She wouldn't look at him, simply traced the veins of the wood in the table. "Agreed," she whispered again, followed by, "Sorry, I've been... intruding... I simply..." Tonks blinked and bit off a smile as it began to perk up her lips; she looked sad, so sad. "I wanted to be near, it makes me feel better... I... I sleep."
His brow lifted, "Sleep, you sleep... here?"
"I fancy this table," she jested, laying her palms down flat. "When I'm laying in my bed, almost comfortable, I fancy this hard wood and the partial warmth from the fire. And the way it makes my back feel," she smiled at him a little. He smiled back... a little. It was always delightfully awkward, between the two of them.
"Merlin's beard, you must be tired, you're not sleepy?" The kettle whistled and lazily, he pulled his wand from his robe and went about setting out two teacups, filling them with sugar. "With this in your system you're not likely to sleep this evening, but, in the interest of being gracious, would you like a cup Nymphadora?"
Her mouth twisted in something akin to disgust, but she said nothing about what he had called her, just shifted her head in her palm and looked at him; after a long moment, she nodded.
As he flicked his wand towards the large, brass pot, ignoring the fact that she was ignoring his blatant use of her full name. It troubled him, twisted his stomach in ways he was not accustomed, made him recall the lonely night on the moor, huddling down amongst outlaws, undesirable creatures like himself. It made him recall how he dreamt of nothing but tufts of bright pink hair and the warmth of her company.
She yawned and her hair wilted for a moment, sinking even further to brown. "I'm not sleepy, I'm... tired of being restless." He glanced at her over his shoulder as he set about making the tea. "This waiting, I hate it." Her voice was low and weak and for a moment he wondered if tears had cropped up. "I hated waiting."
The use of the past tense was not lost on him; hated waiting. He'd been away for months before, trekking up and down the countryside, unable to send her word of his well being. It had prayed upon his mind, how she must have been feeling, what she must have been thinking. It was true, they had grown intensely close in the months prior to his assignment. She, after all, had been one of the Aurors that was sent to question him regarding Sirius, and she had been the one that he had confided in, shared the story with, trusted not to inform the ministry.
And she hadn't.
Once she'd become part of the order, instead of gravitating towards members of her own age, she took to him, walking with him afterwards, always seeming to run into him before. It had almost felt second nature when they had left Grimmauld Place, sought a Firewhisky in Hogsmead or a cup of tea at a Muggle cafe.
Remus hadn't felt her sneaking up on him; she was too sly, infiltrating his mind, his heart with a sort of clumsy honesty that was endearing to him. When he had unconsciously taken her hand, just a few weeks before Sirius's death, he thought nothing of it.
When he fell into kissing her just after coming off an assignment in London, he could barely stop. They'd been situated in a public park, Muggle newspapers in their laps, attempting to blend in and keep watch on the residence across from them, a possible Death Eater liaison point. Tonks had been idly flipping through the flimsy pages when she came upon the crossword puzzle and had, in a fit of excitement, gone to extract a pen from her rucksack. The pen had cracked, spilling black ink all over her blouse and skirt and he'd kissed her, simply because he hadn't wanted to see the frown that had begun to bloom on her lips.
He'd wanted to remember her happy, light, young, surrounded by early spring flowers and the rare light from the setting sun; he'd wanted to remember her as the closest thing he could find to perfection.
She'd kissed him back, clutching his tattered robes and smearing them with the ruddy ink, whimpering, crying, pleading to him. "Finally," she'd gasped, and "forever," she had said and all he could do was sift his fingers through her hair, draw her close, and attempt not to tell her that he loved her. No, there were other times for that, to think that, to say that. Those times came late at night, when he could close his eyes and draw up the image of her face and pretend to tell her.
She sat in silence in the kitchen, not bothering to watch him as he went about finding something to accompany the tea. Remus felt rather tense, wanted to say something to her, though he knew he could not. The need to tell her everything was nearly bursting from his chest, but the other impulse, to spare her, to keep her safe, out weighed the other mightily.
Instead of using magic, he gripped the saucers that the cups sat on and moved them to the table, sliding one, steaming, in front of her. Almost immediately, her hands curved around the porcelain, and she held it there, cradling it. He then placed a plate of biscuits down; she ignored these. "Do you plan on leaving soon?" she asked, and he was glad that she was keeping the conversation neutral.
Lupin settled himself more securely on the bench and looked over at her, pushing his hair out of his eyes. "I'm not quite sure yet, as of now, I've not been informed of, nor have I experienced, any sort of danger." A sip of tea slid down his throat, and he was grateful for the familiar warmth as it settled in his stomach. "I've nowhere else to go, either."
Tonks stirred her tea and finally looked up at him. "Molly... Molly would gladly take you in..." She paused and he knew, before her mouth even opened, what she was going to say. "And I've more than enough room," her gaze faltered. "If it came to that."
A light smile twitched upon his lips; she didn't miss it. "I don't reckon it will," he said kindly. "But I shall keep that offer in mind."
A grunt was her response and they both fell back into the silence that had been lingering about the entire time. After a long draw from her teacup and a few movements to work the cricks out of her bones, she stared him down, expression quite changed from the impassive one that she had worn before. "You used to be my equal Remus, you used to tell me things." He thought there might be a slight bitterness lacing her voice, but he did not bother to examine it. "We used to be more than this, this acquaintance nonsense."
Lupin lifted his chin and swallowed, thinking about what he should say to her; something safe, something non-intrusive. "We were friends; we are friends," he reasoned, and took a small sip of his tea.
He barely heard her when she responded. "We were more than that."
His hands slid over her arms, up to her face, holding her there as he stole another kiss. Tonks's body was curved into his, seeking more contact as she responded fully to his kiss, moving her mouth eagerly over his. He was falling into her, being consumed by her and consuming her in kind; his heart had never beat so fast before, had never beat that particular cadence.
He felt entirely too alive.
One palm slid against the bedspread and over her stomach, inching cautiously under her shirt; she bucked, cried out, pressed her lips more fervently to his.
There was only one thing he was thinking, and he said it, without realizing, "I feel as though I've needed to do this forever."
The response he used was weak, and even he didn't pretend to believe it. "You were mistaken, I-"
The smash that resounded surprised him and made him slosh some of his tea over the edge of his cup. She's managed to crush the cup in her hand... in her hand which was now bleeding rather profusely. He rushed to her side, tipping over his tea which spilled into his lap, but she waved him away, shakily healing her hand with a swipe of her wand. "Not mistaken," she whispered. "I know what I felt, I know what you made me feel... and... Remus... I remember every word you ever said to me."
Hand on her bare stomach, he was stroking aimlessly, watching the sleeves of pre-dawn light pool over her skin. She was perfect, the moment was perfect; untouchable. "You're perfect," he whispered.
She roused in her sleep and rolled towards him, flinging an arm over his side. Snuffling, she fell back into a deep slumber. Remus dipped his head to lay a kiss on her hair, "I think you may very well be my forever, Nymphadora," he said to her supposedly sleeping form. If he hadn't chosen that moment to slip into the arms of dreams, he might have felt her stiffen, might have heard her swallow a sob.
Lupin stared at her hand until she noticed his attention and pulled it into her lap. "I'm not like you, Remus, I'm not afraid to tell the people I love that I love them; I'm not afraid to tell the people that I need that I need them." Biting his lip, his eyes fell, severing their gaze. "And I need you, and I do love you," she said urgently, using her wand to clean up the mess she had managed with the teacup.
He sat there, motionless, at a loss for what to do. And so he did nothing, simply sat there like a coward and would not meet her eye. A patient woman, Tonks sat there for long minutes, waiting for his resolve to break; but she knew him too well, knew that once he was set in his ways, it would take much more to break through his walls.
She stood, moving around the table to stand beside him. After taking in his unmoving appearance, she bent and kissed the top of his head. "You don't have to say anything now, Remus, you know I'll wait forever."
She saw his shoulders shake in silent laughter. "I'm very persistent that way," she claimed and moved off, towards the door to the hallway.
Remus glanced up at her, smiling sadly. "Feel free to use the table whenever you need…"
Tonks dipped her head, and shook it, slowly. "It's not the table, you know I sleep better when you're near."
She turned and retreated down the hall; the last thing he heard was the snick of the front door closing before the silence crept in once more, leaving him to ponder her again on another late night.