It was July and a storm was brewing. Dumbledore's funeral had been the week before. By sheer luck, or perhaps by Molly Weasley's incessant matchmaking, Tonks and Lupin were on an Order mission together. They had to patrol Hogsmeade for eight hours, looking for suspicious activities. Hopefully they would be able to use the shift for some much-needed talking. Two weeks had passed since Tonks had finally confessed her feelings for Lupin. Both had been too busy to talk at all until today.
The patrol had started out with each feigning nonchalance. They discussed almost everything: the weather, Quidditch, spell techniques, Harry Potter. Unsaid words built a wall between them, becoming so thick that after an hour no conversation could pass through.
Tonks was not the silent type. She could never keep her tongue or actions in check. In school, it had won her nearly unanimous popularity. Now, the purple haired Auror was bursting to talk. After a minute of thought, she knew she had to break the silence.
"Remus," she said timidly, "how old are you?"
The older wizard looked at her confusedly. "36," he said.
"How old would you like to live to?"
"I don't know. 70? 80?"
"You only become a werewolf once a month. Think how many days we would have together."
A look of pain crossed Lupin's face. "Tonks, you deserve so much better than me. You're so young, beautiful and kind. If I married you, you would soon see what a mistake it was."
"I'm 26, quite old enough to know what I want. We've known each other for two years and I know I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
Lupin's weary, lined face took on an expression of pity. "Please, Nymphadora," he said, "don't make this harder than it already is."
"For the last time, never call me Nymphadora. And now you're admitting that you love me."
"With all my heart."
"So what's the problem?" Tonks was beginning to grow exasperated but was determined not to show it.
"The problem is that you deserve better."
"No, that's not the problem. You know what the problem is?"
"I'd be delighted to hear. Do tell."
Ignoring his sarcastic tone, Tonks said, "The problem is that you don't respect yourself. You can't even fathom the idea that someone might like you. Even at Hogwarts, Sirius used to say that you did everything they asked just so they would let you hang out with them. You honestly never realized that Sirius and James loved you like a brother. We all love you, Remus, I wish you could realize that!"
Lupin looked angry now. He turned to face Tonks. "No, you don't understand! You don't know what it's like to be an outcast. People are scared of you, ridicule you. The few real friends you have, you would do anything for because you're so grateful. But it also means that you must distance yourself from certain people. Every full moon, I become something new. I transform. Could you deal with that?"
Tonks screwed up her face. Instantly, she became a strict-looking older woman. "I transform, too," she said softly, "Or had you forgotten?"
She became the purple-haired witch again and strode away from Lupin. He thought he saw a tear falling out of her eye as she marched by. Lupin thought she was beautiful. He knew he was doing the right thing but damn, it was hard. She liked to stand out—always had, always would. Tonks nearly always had purple hair. Having been born to a witch mother and Muggle father, she had a strong love of Muggle culture. Polychromatic eyes were lined with heavy makeup. Black jeans and combat boots hugged pale, slender legs. A tight grommet-studded coat, ending at the knees, almost always completed her work outfit. Compared with the plain, loose-fitting robes common to witches, Tonks caught many an eye.
She was small, only about 5'4. From experience, Lupin knew not to underestimate her. He was daydreaming. It was dangerous territory, yet he felt no desire to leave. He loved how her clothing contrasted with such a pale, innocent face. Gifted with generous curves, yet without an extra pound on her body, she was the ideal subject of a fantasy. For another moment, Lupin allowed himself to daydream before remembering that he was on patrol.
Tonks knew that she and Lupin should stay close to each other in case danger came. Right now, her hurt and angry emotions couldn't handle him. She remained about 20 feet in front. It was close enough to react quickly if anything happened.
Lupin's footsteps drew nearer. He came up alongside her as they continued to wind through Hogsmeade. "I'm sorry," he said in that calming voice. "Can we just forget it?"
Tonks thought for a moment. "No," she said, "You're making the biggest mistake of your life. I can't forget it. But as we are on duty, I am forced to bury my feelings again." She laughed bitterly. "I've been doing it for so long, a few more hours won't hurt."
Suddenly, the woman walked directly into a display shelf outside of Zonkos' Joke Shop. Different practical joke items scattered in all directions. Tonks felt herself blush bright cherry.
"Oh, gosh, I'm so sorry! Here, let me…" She walked forward to pick up a fake wand. She hadn't realized that the shelf had fallen over. With a dull thud, her foot caught on the wood and Tonks found herself face down on the brick.
Lupin hurried to help her. "Are you all right, Nymphadora?" he asked.
Tonks stood up quickly. "I'm fine, Remus!" she replied, swaying slightly, "And it's Tonks."
Lupin grabbed her shoulder to steady her. With his other hand, he waved his wand. The shelf flew upright and its contents were restored to their original place. She felt Lupin's steady hand on her shoulder. She enjoyed the sensation. It traveled through her coat and sent a chill down her spine.
"Here, sit down," Lupin gestured to a bench outside of the Three Broomsticks. They both took a seat. "Now, are you really okay?"
Tonks gave him a small smile. "Remus," she said, "If you were as clumsy as I am you would quickly grow a high pain tolerance."
He laughed. "Fair point. Your nose is bleeding, though. Episkey!" Her nose healed.
They sat on that bench for some time, thinking. After a while, somewhere in the distance, a clock chimed six o'clock.
"Shift's over," said Lupin. "We should be going back."
"I hate Grimmauld Place. Too many bad memories. Would you like to get a drink before heading over there?"
"That sounds great. Let me just send word that we're not in danger."
He pulled out his wand and saw himself, no longer a werewolf, standing next to Tonks on their wedding day. "Expecto Patronum," he muttered. The Patronus hurried back to give #12, Grimmauld Place, their message.
Lupin turned back to Tonks and smiled. "Where shall we go?"
She grinned sheepishly. "I was banned from Hog's Head in sixth year when Charlie Weasley and I tried to steal firewhiskey from the cellar. So how about the Three Broomsticks?"