A/N: I haven't been paying much attention to the HP fandom recently, haven't read the books in a long while either, but I came across a fic in my bookmarks today and now feel compelled to write Remus!comfort... so here goes:
It was late when he came in, too late for anyone to be up, he would have thought. The night was starkly lit in white, unfeeling light, that loathsome moon just a night past full, still large and daunting. Still taunting him. It made the shadows in the snowy street stretch out, long and ominous, like they were snatching at Remus' heels where he'd apparated at the doorway of Number 12. He nearly fell through the doorway with the fright they gave him, or maybe it was just that his legs were too tired to step properly anymore. His head and his feet seemed far apart. He couldn't tell.
As quietly as he could, he closed the heavy door behind him, trying not to call attention to his entrance. He didn't want to wake anyone – not any of the Order who might be sleeping upstairs, and especially not that horrid portrait of Mistress Black. Safe inside now, shivering in the air that was suddenly, distantly warm, he didn't much want to move, either. Both of his hands were still pressed against the door, holding it shut as if he could just brace it against the evil outside and everyone would be safe.
Remus shook his head despairingly as he realized the silliness of the notions passing through his muddled mind, bracing himself, instead, to fasten the silver latch. Slowly, because he was tired and perhaps, he thought, detachedly, really not quite well, he pulled the much-frayed hem of his sleeve down over his thin, trembling fingers.
"Let me get that," a clear, gentle voice said behind him and he spun, backing against the door. The bite of the silver handle against his unprotected skin registered with him in the same moment as Tonks' wide-eyed expression. Remus snatched his hand away from the door, biting back a hiss of pain that threatened to break into a cough.
"Tonks," he acknowledged, when he'd caught his breath, his voice a bit ragged. "You startled me."
"I can see that," she said, dryly, concern coming into her eyes as she looked him up and down. Tentatively, she held a hand out to meet his, cradled close to his chest. "Is it burnt?" she asked.
"It's fine." He pulled away. His limbs felt like they were filled with lead instead of blood. His burnt hand stung.
Tonks bit her lip but didn't say anything further, instead reaching around his thin frame to latch the door properly. "There's tea in the kitchen, still. And Molly'll fix you something, I'm sure. She's still up."
Remus nodded, stiffly, by way of thanks. His head was pounding, and he wondered, as he made his way slowly down the narrow corridor, if it had been hurting like this all night. Everything seemed disconnected. Ten steps away, he had to look back to affirm that he'd even run into Tonks coming in. She was peering suspiciously through the spy-hole in the door, looking for figures in the shadows, he supposed – all these nasty, grasping shadows haunting them day-in, day-out. How could anyone bear this? This, all over again?
He reached the kitchen on shuffling feet, Tonks coming in just behind him on faster ones. Muscles protesting, he sank onto the nearest chair. Molly was out of sight, squinting downwards as he was against the bright kitchen light. "Oh, goodness, Remus. Don't you look a fright?" he heard her say, somewhere in the increasingly thick haze above him. He stiffened under the hand that gripped his shoulder, and soon it was hesitantly withdrawn.
"I'm alright," he managed then, without lifting his eyes. "Long week, is all." He turned his head to stifle a cough with his fist. No, he wasn't quite well really, he thought, with an almost amused detachment.
The sound of Molly's motherly tongue-clucking blended with the sound of her bustling quickly around the kitchen. The sound of china touching the table signalled a tea cup in front of him. A quiet wooden squeak was Tonks settled into the chair beside his. "Remus," she said, and he could here the concern now undisguised in her voice. "Oh, look at me, would you?"
That got Remus' attention, like he was waking up out of a trance. He looked up, blinking. "Sorry," he said. "Didn't mean to be rude." Still, the light made his head hurt, and he looked back down to the marble table, seeing it really for the first time since he'd sat there.
"You look like a something a troll stepped on," Tonks said.
"Oh," said Remus, unable to think of anything better. Then, "Thanks for the tea, Molly."
"You're welcome to it, dear," she replied, as Remus picked up the cup in fingers that no longer trembled, but felt to him, still, as though they belonged to someone else. He took a tentative sip, and immediately put the cup down. The warmth made him shudder, and the liquid made his stomach roll. Not quite well at all. Damned moon.
"What happened?" Tonks asked, insistently, as if she'd asked the question several times, though Remus was fairly sure she hadn't. His head was well and truly pounding, and it was distracting him. He very much wanted to lay his head down on his arms and rest then and there, but was still distantly aware he had an audience.
"Hmm?" he mumbled, confused.
"We were worried, you were late."
"Oh," he said, realizing something despite his muddlement, "Is that why you're up?"
"We were worried," Tonks said again, like the two obviously went hand in hand. Maybe they did. He couldn't remember. "What happened?"
"Nothing," Remus answered, finally. It was the short version, but really, that was what his week-long excursion across the damp Scottish moors had accomplished. "The man I went to see is dead."
Funny, he could say man and think monster. That was probably how they thought of him. He was tired enough that these thoughts struck him profoundly.
Remus shuddered, from his thoughts as much as from cold. He didn't elaborate. "There's a meeting tomorrow?" he asked.
"Yes," said Tonks, though her by the tone of her voice he could tell her questions had not been allayed.
"Good. The Order needs to know we won't have Ingold's help." His breath caught in his throat and he curled into himself, coughing harshly.
He could feel Tonks' hand on his back, but he didn't want it there, didn't want her touching him. Especially – not like this. "Don't," he managed harshly, shrinking away. She pulled her hand back and he could feel, without having to see, the hurt radiating off her.
"Now, that's a nasty cough, hmm? Drink up your tea then, and off to bed with you," Molly intervened.
Bed. Bed would be good. Merlin, he really wasn't thinking straight. The world was swimming in front of his eyes. The marble tabletop seemed to have an aura.
Remus closed his eyes tightly, rubbing at them half-heartedly with his unhurt hand, trying to collect himself. "I'm sorry," he said, "I'm just tired. Excuse me." And he pushed his aching body to its feet, without touching his tea.
He left the room abruptly, propelled in part by a vaguely realized sense of guilt – over his failed mission, over his rudeness, over this all over again – and in part by his own unsteadiness. It was one foot in front of the other or topple over, now that he was standing again.
He took the stairs slowly, clinging to the banister for support. He could hear Tonks and Molly talking in hushed but urgent tones in the kitchen, but couldn't make out the words. They didn't come after him, and for that he was thankful. He just needed to make it to bed.
After what seemed like a long time, Remus made it to the last room on the left – his room – and he collapsed, fully clothed and shivering on top of the blankets. With a burnt hand that he couldn't even feel anymore, he pulled the coverings from one side over his body, as far as they would cover, and fell, without quite realizing it, into an exhausted sleep.
A/N: And I now have to study (sigh) so it looks like that's all she wrote for the moment... and the comfort part will have to come later. Oops. Oh well, chaptered fic, yay! No guarantees on when I'll update, but I'll be finished exams in just over a week so I'll have plenty of time, I expect. Let me know what you think! Ideas/requests welcome.