Chapter Twenty-Four

Tonks seemed to be trying to get to know Remus again after months of avoiding him. She'd sent him a Christmas present (a beautiful new set of robes, which no one could deny he needed) and was trying to talk to him at Order meetings. He was perfectly friendly to her, and he wore the robes she got him and smiled at her, but he didn't want to lead her on. He let her touch him on the arm and noted that his heart sped up when she did, but he didn't touch her back.

Soon she got her confidence back and started attempting to corner him after meetings. "I can't," he'd say. "We can't. I'm a werewolf. You don't want me."

"But I do."

"I'm a werewolf, Tonks."

More months went by, and Tonks's position did not change, though Remus sometimes wondered whether his was beginning to. He was starting to get over Sirius and part of him wanted to open his heart again, open to the possibility of love. Because Tonks loved him. He could see it in her eyes, whichever color they were, and the way she looked at him. He knew that look all too well. It was the look Sirius used to have on his face every time he looked at James.

Remus would have given anything, anything, for Sirius to look at him the way he used to look at James. And now Tonks was, for nothing. He didn't know what to do. He ignored it and threw himself into work for the Order.

Shorty after the anniversary of Sirius's death, there was a disturbance at Hogwarts terribly similar to the disturbance at the Ministry last year. Death Eaters were causing trouble and had somehow managed to sneak into the school.

Remus went there immediately, met some other Order members, and started dueling with Death Eaters. There were students here, kids! Why did this keep happening?

A Death Eater died, others were injured, and at one point they all left. Some of the Order were injured as well, particularly Bill Weasley…they all went up to the hospital wing, but Bill had been bitten by a werewolf. An untransformed werewolf. Remus had never heard of that before.

Harry brought dreadful news. Dumbledore had been murdered…by Snape. Remus couldn't believe it. Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of all time, who had done so much for him, so much more than anyone else would do…

And Snape…Remus was angry. Snape. His contributions had helped lead to Sirius's death as well…and Sirius and James had both always hated him, always thought he was on Voldemort's side no matter what Dumbledore said. Dumbledore…

Harry told them how Snape had killed Dumbledore, and they told him how the Death Eaters had snuck in and everything, and then Arthur and Molly Weasley and Fleur entered the room, running over to Bill's bed.

Molly started crying over him, about how he used to be so handsome and how he had been planning to get married. At this, Fleur got all upset and claimed that it didn't matter that he was bitten and that he would still love her and she would still love him and how it didn't matter and they would still get married. Molly, who'd been resisting the engagement since it began, finally gave in, hugging Fleur and crying.

"You see!" Tonks said, glaring at Remus. "She still wants to marry him, even though he's been bitten! She doesn't care!"

"It's different," Remus said, refusing to meet Tonks's eye. "Bill will not be a full werewolf. The cases are completely—"

"But I don't care either, I don't care!" Tonks actually ran forward, grabbed Remus's robes, and shook them. "I've told you a million times—"

"And I've told you a million times." Remus still wouldn't look at her. He felt so guilty. "I'm too old for you, too poor, too dangerous—" too in love with someone else, someone dead.

"I've said all along you're taking a ridiculous line on this, Remus," Molly said.

"I am not being ridiculous." I know how hard it is to be in love with someone who's not completely in love with you. "Tonks deserves somebody young and whole."

"But she wants you," Arthur pointed out. "And after all, Remus, young and whole men do not necessarily remain so." Everyone looked at Bill.

She wants me but I don't want her, Remus thought. I mean…I…I'm like Sirius. I sometimes want her but I don't want her, not like… "This is not the moment to discuss it," Remus said. "Dumbledore is dead."

"Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think that there was a little more love in the world," Minerva McGonagall said.

Hagrid created a distraction by walking in at that point. Remus thought it might be safe to finally look up but was mistaken; Tonks succeeded in catching his eye.

"I…" Remus said, looking at her. "We'll talk."

Tonks nodded and turned away, tugging at her brown hair.

Minerva McGonagall called an Order meeting the next day, discussing the events and Dumbledore's death and his funeral.

As always, Tonks cornered Remus after the meeting. "Okay," she said. "You said you wanted to talk. I'm here. Did you think about what you wanted to say to me?"

"I did," Remus said. He'd thought of nothing else all day, except maybe Dumbledore. "I thought about your cousin a lot, about Sirius."

"What about him?"

Remus sighed. "Our relationship was always doomed to fail because he was always in love with James Potter and he could never see past that no matter how hard he tried. And I never saw past the fact that he loved James more than me. We both wanted a perfect relationship but didn't know how to obtain it, and we would yell and shout at each other and blame each other for it not working out.

"What I'm saying, Tonks, is that we're going to have to work at it. I'm going to have to accept the fact that Sirius and I were never meant to be, and he's gone now, but I have a clever, funny, beautiful woman by my side. And you're going to have to accept the fact that I'm not perfect, and getting over Sirius may be difficult for me. I'll try not to do what Sirius did if you try not to do what I did. Know that I'm here, even if I seem far away. What I want you to understand that is if you're willing to, I'm willing to commit despite Sirius, because I care for you."

"I will," Tonks said, tears sparkling in her soft green eyes. "I'll do whatever it takes if I can be with you, Remus. All I want is to be with you. It's enough for me."

I thought it was enough for me, too, but it wasn't, Remus thought. But she's not me and I'm not Sirius. I will always love him as long as I live, but I will never forget that I have this woman by my side.

Remus thought about last year, just before Sirius died. They had understood that time and love were precious, and they had been ready to apologize and accept each other despite their differences. Remus hadn't had time to do that then, but he could now. This woman loved him, and he could love her. They could have each other now, they had time. How much, Remus did not know. But he was wiser now. He would take advantage of the time and love that he could have.

With that thought, Remus took Tonks's hand, and she threw her arms around him, her hair turning pink. Remus held her in his arms. I will love this woman, he thought. And when I do, I will marry her. Time and love are precious. This is our time, now, before we lose it. And this is my new love.

Remus held Tonks in his arms and kissed her full on the lips. She tasted like a Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean.


Remus waved his wand at the sink, muttered "Scourgify," and the dishes cleaned themselves. He looked out the window above the sink and smiled. Past the reflection of a young man with dark hair, the night was cloudy but probably warm. "Looks like a nice night," Remus called into the next room.

Sirius, who had been reading the Evening Prophet, put the paper down on the table next to him, got up and grinned. He walked over to Remus, who was smiling at him from the sink. "Is someone hinting they want to go for a ride on my bike?" He asked, continuing to walk up to Remus until he was just inches from him. He put his hands on the counter behind Remus on either side of him and grinned down at him.

Remus grinned back. "Maybe," he said. They were so close, almost touching. Remus kissed him and laughed. They were young, just twenty, and carefree.

"All right, then," Sirius grinned, putting his arms around Remus's waist and pulling him gently away from the counter. "Let's go, then."

They held each other's waists and tried to muffle laughing as they went downstairs and outside, where Sirius's flying motorcycle was parked next to the apartment building.

Remus had been right. The night was warm.

Sirius tapped the bike with his wand and it started vibrating slowly. He climbed on, grinned at Remus, and Remus climbed slowly on behind him, fastening his arms around his waist.

"Ready?"

"Of course."

"Hold on tight."

Remus obeyed, and they sped off down the street. Once safely out of the view of any Muggles, Sirius reared the bike. Remus squeezed Sirius's waist as the bike left the ground, Sirius whooped, and a minute later they were zooming through the air.

The cool wind felt refreshing on Remus's face.

"Moony, you're about to cut off my circulation," Sirius joked.

Remus smiled. "What, don't you like it when I hold you that tight?"

"Never said that," Sirius said, speeding up and gaining altitude. He turned over his shoulder to grin at Remus.

"Padfoot, look out!" Remus said.

"Where? What?" Sirius said, turning back quickly.

Remus laughed.

"You—" Sirius said, but he laughed too. "You'll pay for that," he said.

"How?"

Sirius sped the bike up and then did a loop in midair, so for a fraction of a second they were upside-down. Remus screamed and clutched at Sirius while Sirius shouted his excitement and laughed.

"You—!" Remus said, giving in to a smile. "Do you have any idea how fast my heart's going? That—"

"Oh, that was nothing," Sirius said. "Are you sure that's even the reason why your hearts beating fast? I thought it was because I was here."

Remus laughed. "Maybe a little."

Sirius laughed back, and flew smoothly through the air for awhile. "Hey, Moony, let go a second," he said suddenly.

"Why…?"

"I'm gonna do something," Sirius said excitedly.

Remus cautiously let go of Sirius's waist and held on to the bike on his sides. He let go cautiously because he wasn't sure what Sirius was going to do, not because he was afraid of flying without holding on to him.

Sirius scooted forward a little bit. Remus noticed his hands were clenching the handlebars even tighter than usual. The Sirius picked his right foot up from the foot rest on the side of the bike and placed it on the seat.

"Sirius!" Remus said. "You're not—"

"Shh, Moony, you'll break my concentration," Sirius said in the same excited voice. He lifted his other foot from the other footrest and brought it beneath him so he was crouching on the seat, still holding the handlebars. Then he slowly straightened his legs so he was bending over, and then he let go of the handlebars and slowly stood up.

"Sirius," Remus moaned, but Sirius was laughing.

"Rem, you've got to get up here! It's brilliant!"

"You're standing on a bike going eighty miles per hour two miles up off the ground," Remus said, looking up on him. He himself was sitting, and was clenching the sides of the bike for dear life.

"Oh, relax, Moony, I put a Balancing Charm on."

"Balancing Charms can be broken by a strong enough force."

"What, you're going to push me off?" Sirius laughed again. "Seriously, Rem, get up here. It's brilliant! You'll love it. Here—Pondera!"

It was a curious sensation, and it felt a bit safer, but still.

"Remus, come on!" Sirius shouted over the wind. "Trust me!"

Remus grinned. "All right," he shouted back. "I'm coming."

Still holding the sides of the seat, Remus imitated Sirius, moving one foot after the other. It was perfectly terrifying, but thrilling at the same time. Soon he was crouched the way Sirius had been, only holding the sides of the bike instead of the handlebars.

"Okay!" Sirius said. "Now take my hand!" He held out a hand to Remus, and Remus quickly grabbed it. He thought this time he actually might be cutting off circulation, he was squeezing so tight. "Good!" Sirius said. "Now the other one!" Sirius held out his other hand, and Remus grabbed and was instantly pulled to a standing position by Sirius.

Remus screamed and clutched him, letting go of his hands and reaching for his waist, which was more steady, but Sirius laughed. "It's amazing, isn't it?" he shouted in Remus's ear.

Remus managed to grin. He could see what Sirius meant. He even felt better, safer, now that he was standing up rather than when he was crouched. They were moving very fast, and the wind chilled him, but it felt good. And once he got used to the sensation of flying standing up so fast and so high with no support except Sirius (who he was clinging to for dear life but it was all right), he could see much better this way. Millions of lights dotted the world below him. The wind was deafening up here, but down there looked so peaceful and pleasant.

"Wasn't I right?" Sirius bellowed. "Isn't it brilliant?

Remus nodded. He was scared out of his wits despite the Balancing Charm, but that was what made it exciting. And he was freezing cold but didn't care…this was fun. This was excellent. They soared through the air standing up and holding each other for about ten minutes. Remus went back down first, and Sirius followed.

"Whew!" Sirius said once he was seated. "That was bloody brilliant, eh?"

"My heart's still…" Remus said, shaking his head. "That was so scary but so cool…"

"I told you to trust me," Sirius said, sounding satisfied.

"You were right," Remus said, smiling. He'd slipped his arms around Sirius's waist again and rested his head on his shoulder.

"You tired? Cold?"

"A little cold," Remus said. "I just wanted to lean against you."

"Well, that's okay then."

Remus opened his eyes and could see Sirius smiling. He pressed his head against Sirius's shoulder again. He was wearing his leather jacket this time, the Muggle one. Sometimes he wore his dragon-skin jacket when they went out flying, but Remus personally liked this one better. Sirius's body heat got through the leather the way it couldn't through dragon skin.

"I love you," Remus said, squeezing him.

"I love you," Sirius said, turning around to grin at him again.

Remus kissed him a minute, not caring that he wasn't paying attention to what was in front of him. The bike was enchanted. It wouldn't run them into a building or anything.

They slowed down a bit more and descended, touching the ground very lightly. They slipped through the quiet dark streets back to their apartment, parked the bike and headed upstairs, hand-in-hand. They were silent but smiled at each other.

Sirius closed and locked the door behind him, and Remus's smile became a grin. He came very close to Sirius, the way Sirius had to him at the counter earlier. His face was beside Sirius's, he could hear him breathing.

"I love you," Remus whispered.

"I love you," Sirius whispered back.

Remus kissed him, wrapping his arms around him. He was so handsome, so warm, so perfect. Sirius pulled back to grin at Remus. His shiny hair fell into his eyes the way it always did, and his eyes and his smile sped Remus's heart up even faster. His arms held Remus and were strong, but his hand was soft as it caressed Remus's cheek. Remus closed his eyes and savored Sirius's touch.

"I love you," Sirius said again.

"I love you," Remus said back.

They kissed and said no more.


The End. Well…? Yay? Nay? It's over now. If you liked it (the ending, the whole story, whatever), tell me and tell me why. If you didn't like it or didn't like a certain part or whatever, please tell me and tell me why. I really hope you enjoyed the story. Thank you very much for reading it.