Disclaimer: I am a poor, American college student who works at Burger King. The only thing Jo and I have in common is our love of a certain book series about a teenage wizard and our love of Remus Lupin . . . oh, wait, that's just me. -wink-

Oh, and I also don't own the song "Love You Out Loud." That is by the brilliant band, Rascal Flatts.

Note: OK, quick note so some of you guys don't get confused. The normal verses (not the chorus) tell the story that leads up to the chorus. The chorus itself (and the last two lines - Baby, I love to love you out loud; Yeah, I love to love you out loud) tell that last part of the story. Want to know what it is? Too bad, I won't tell you; you'll have to read the story! Mwahaha!! Um. . . yeah . . . blame my final exams!

Love You Out Loud

"Half-breeds, mutants, freaks, begone from this place! How dare you befoul the house of my fathers. . . ."

Far more effective than any alarm clock, Walburga Black's piercing shrieks jolted Remus Lupin awake almost instantly. Groaning, he rolled over so as to see the clock on his bedside table. Five thirty.Too early, much too early, even by his standards. So, Remus did what any normal, thirty-five-year old wizard would do in a situation like this.

He went back to sleep.

Or, rather, attempted to go back to sleep. By now, Mrs. Black's screaming had reached such a pitch so that, even buried under a mountain of blankets and pillows as he was, it was in no way dimmed. Sighing as he realized that all attempts at sleep must be forgone, Remus swung himself out of bed and, flat-footed, dragged himself out to the landing where the noise was, if anything, worse.

"Blood traitor, abomination, shame of my flesh!" Descending the stairs to the main hall, Remus watched as said abomination shouted himself hoarse while attempting to pull the moth-eaten black curtains closed. Despite their radically different values, there was no doubt that Sirius had inherited his mother's temper.

"I said - shut - up!" Sirius roared and, with a stupendous effort, managed to force the curtains closed again. Only then did he turn - sweeping his sleep-rumpled black hair out of his face as he did so - to face the two figures silhouetted in the doorway that Remus, focused as he had been on Sirius's "dear old mum."

Mad-Eye Moody was, of course, unmistakable by his heavily scarred face and revolving magical eye; the other was currently glaring at the witch next to him who, as Remus descended into the main hall, seemed even more conspicuous than the aged ex-Auror. Bright pink hair could usually do that to a person.

"Nice job, Tonks," he said, and, though he offered a slight, grim smile to the young witch, Remus could tell that he was only half-joking. One thing you did not do if you wanted to be in Sirius Black's good graces was cut away from his sleeping time.

"I'm really sorry," the woman - Tonks - said apologetically, turning from Sirius to Moody and back again. "I'm really sorry, Sirius. It won't happen again." Compulsively straightening the troll's leg umbrella stand which Remus guessed to be the catalyst of the noise, she made as if to sidle past it, setting it aquiver again as she did so.

Remus reacted before anyone. "Wingardium Leviosa," he murmured hoarsely, moving his wand in the familiar swish-and-flick movement, levitating the umbrella stand safely out of harm's way.

"Moony!" Sirius exclaimed, spinning around to face the werewolf. "When did you get up?"

For answer, Remus merely glanced at the black curtains that housed the now-sleeping Walburga Black.

Sirius grinned, albeit a bit grimly. "Ah yes, dear old mum. Don't you just love waking up to her, Moony?"

"Makes my day, though I would prefer to start it a bit later next time if you don't mind." He raised an eyebrow at the witch who had, by now ventured forth into the house whilst glancing around for any other breakable objects. She grinned rather guiltily at him; a grin very like Sirius's now that he came to think of it. . . .

Sirius, ever-observant when it came to his werewolf friend, noticed the exchange and turned to the (now violet-haired woman) at his shoulder. "Remus," he said, a touch of sarcasm in his voice, "I'd like you to meet my cousin, Nymphadora Tonks."

The witch cringed, glaring daggers at Sirius as she extended her hand for Remus to shake. He noticed that her nails - bitten-down and ragged as they were - were painted with a neon-green nail polish, clashing radically with her hair (returned to its original bubblegum hue).

"Tonks," she corrected, grinning at him. "Call me Tonks."

I have always been a little shy
I've always been the quiet
Type till now

Sirius Black let out a tremendous belch as he downed his last forkful of treacle tart, quickly reaching for a third helping from the silver platter in front of him.

"Impressive," Remus said coolly, glancing over the top of his Potions textbook. "I can imagine just how attractive that must be to the ladies."

"Oh come on, Moony, you know you love it," Sirius replied in-between mouthfuls of tart.

"Yes, just as much as I relish the thought of holding your hair back when you vomit it all up tonight."

". . .And running your hand through its soft, velvety smoothness," Sirius finished as he demonstrated the action himself.

"I think not."

"Come on, Moony, feel it. You know you want to."

"Padfoot, I am not about to feel your hair."

"Aw, please Moony?"

"No!" Remus put up his hands as if to shield himself from his friend, therefore, a soft touch on his arm made him startle, spinning around to face the person, a hand to his heart.

"Saffy," he gasped as his brain finally registered the blonde-haired witch standing in front of him as Saffron Parker - or Saffy, as she preferred to be called - his girlfriend of around a year and a half now, something Sirius found sickeningly "mushy." Remus preferred the word "committed," but hey, that was just him.

"Erm . . . is everything alright?" she asked, eyes darting from him to Sirius and back again.

"Well, you see . . . yes, everything's fine. Just fine." Remus cut himself off, something told him that telling Saffy what had just conspired wouldn't be the best idea; she and Sirius had never gotten along too well. Standing, he bent slightly in order to kiss her, ignoring Sirius's skeptical snort that clearly said, "Moony, mate, you won't get anywhere with that."

Unfortunately, the Ravenclaw girl wasn't as adept at ignoring his friend's immature antics. "Remus, can we talk? In private?" She sent a glare in the black-haired Marauder's direction at the last phrase.

Remus nodded, allowing her to pull him down the aisle between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables. Following her lead, the two strode across the grounds finally sitting down under the beech tree near the lake. Patiently, Remus waited for her to speak; Saffy, however, seemed to be avoiding his gaze as much as she possibly could. Tucking her long, blonde hair behind her ears, she watched the giant squid propel itself lazily across the lake, devouring the toast of a few first years as it passed. Finally, as if the squid had delivered some sort of divine message, she turned to face him, an uncharacteristically sober expression on her face.

"Erm, well . . . I'm not exactly sure how to say this," she said, fidgeting nervously, making Remus suspect the worst.

"What is it? Has someone hurt you? Are you in any danger?" Remus almost felt the wolf rear inside him; ever since the ascension of the Dark wizard who had coined himself Lord Voldemort, more and more Muggleborns - such as Saffy - had become targets. If anyone hurt her. . . .

"Oh, no, Remus, no," she said, smiling tenderly - and, slightly sadly? - at him as she placed her small hand on top of his larger one. "No one's hurt me, it's just . . . us."

"Us?"

"Yes, Remus, 'us.' It's just . . . I don't think we can work."

"Can't work?" Remus asked, fully aware that his face had by now twisted into what James had deemed his 'lost werewolf' expression.

"Oh, Remus," she squeezed his hand, having caught sight of his agonized face. "You did nothing wrong . . . I mean, think about it, we have totally different interests. . . ."

"Different interests?" Remus didn't understand; hadn't they, just a few days prior, been deeply engrossed in a conversation about Metamorphmagi? She had even offered to lend him her book on the subject. . . .

". . .and this will give us a chance to . . . try new things, find someone that works for us. You understand, don't you?"

Did he understand? No, was his immediate answer. I love Saffy and I know we'll work out if we just give this a try. He wanted to tell her this so badly that his heart ached.

But he didn't. Come on, Remus, said that other voice in his head. There are much better-looking guys than you around here. But Saffy had never cared before. Not to mention that you're a werewolf and you haven't exactly told her that. She'd be rejected from society or worse, put in danger. You don't want that, do you?

But I love her.

Do you?

"Yes," Remus said, hating himself even as he said those few dreadful words. "I understand."

And I never let my feelings show
I never let anybody know
Just how much I was so
Deep in love

Remus Lupin was in heaven. Here he was - he, Remus Lupin, the werewolf - leant back in a comfortable chintz armchair, the woman he loved entwined in his arms, listening to music - the Weird Sisters - in front of a roaring fire. . . .

The only thing that could make this better is chocolate, Remus thought fleetingly, sighing contentedly. And the eradication of Voldemort, but then again, life isn't perfect.

However, at the moment, Remus Lupin's life was closer to perfect than it had been in more than twenty years. . . .
But now that you're in my arms
I'm gonna stand on a rooftop
Climb up a mountaintop
Baby, scream and shout
I wanna sing it on the radio
Show it on a video
Baby, leave no doubt
I want the whole world to know
Just what I'm all about
I love to love you out loud

"Shit!" His best friend's vehement exclamation had Remus sprinting up the stairs, drawing his wand as he went. What was it - a curse, a dangerous Dark artifact, Death Eaters?

No, no, and no.

It was a clock.

Sirius Black, the man who had escaped Azkaban and evaded dementors, the man who had looked death in the face, was cowering at a clock - grandfather, to be precise. True, not a very nice-looking clock - black and grimy and emblazoned with serpentine shapes as it was - but a clock nonetheless.

That was when Remus started to laugh as Sirius turned to glare at him.

And that was when the first bolt hit. Remus let out an oof of surprise as the wind was knocked out of him. Sputtering and coughing, he barely noticed the cry of, "Confringo!" aimed at the second bolt that sped toward him, hastily followed by an Incendio spell . . . that came just a second too late, singing the top of his hair rather than hitting its intended target of the bolt. . . .

A moment later his hair was dripping wet. Taking a moment to brush his soaked fringe out of his eyes, he glanced up to see Sirius and Nymphadora Tonks's concerned faces. Well, Tonks's concerned face, Sirius looked as if he were forcibly restraining a laugh. But, in all fairness to his fellow Marauder, he must have looked funny, clutching his stomach where a bruise was now forming, his hair dripping wet and - from what it felt like - a slight bald patch on the back of his head. . . .

"Remus, are you okay? I'm sorry, I just tripped and. . . ."

Veryfunny.

"Remus?"

Very, very funny.
"Hello, Earth to Moony."

Remus laughed. Part of him didn't even know why he was laughing, but he couldn't help it. He saw both Sirius and Tonks looking at him as if he'd gone off the deep end, but it only made him laugh harder. He laughed until he got a stitch in his side but he just couldn't stop. It was just so funny. And, slowly, Sirius and Tonks joined in.

And that was how they were to be found when Molly Weasley called them for dinner, laughing over nothing at all.

You keep bringing out the
Free in me
What you do to my heart
Just makes me melt

"Are you alright?"

Remus glanced up at her from the cup of tea that he had been nursing for several hours now. Her hair, so usually a bright, vibrant hue - bright pink, violet, even neon green - was now pitch-black, hanging halfway down her back. So like Sirius's. . . . Breath catching in his throat, he looked away again.

"Yes, Tonks, I'm fine," he said, speaking to his half-empty mug rather than the witch standing in front of him.

"You'll excuse me if I don't believe you." Tonks took a seat across from him, leaning forward, trying to catch his eye. The middle-aged werewolf didn't answer, instead getting up to drain his chipped mug in the sink, watching with a kind of morbid fascination as the remaining tea spiraled down, down, down. . . .

"From what I heard from Molly, it seems that you've been doing nothing but moping around here for the past few weeks," she continued, undeterred and Remus fought the urge to groan. I can't talk about this now. It's too soon. . . .

"She told me it's hard to get even a few words out of you these days."

Placing his mug on the counter with perhaps a bit more force than usual, Remus headed for the kitchen door and the sanctuary of his bedroom.

". . .I'm making ten my goal for today so we'll see, old wolf. . . ."

Remus stiffened. "I'm fine, leave me alone," he repeated, speaking this time to his shabby, brown loafers.

"No, you're not and no, I won't," she retorted, placing a hand on his shoulder. Reluctantly, Remus turned to face her. "You need to talk about this, Remus."

"There's nothing to talk about."

"Obviously there is or you wouldn't be acting like this."

Remus maintained a stony silence. Then, "Do you blame me?"

"Blame you? No, of course not, why would I?" he asked, a hint of bewilderment creeping into his previously monotone voice.

Tonks shrugged, looking rather nonchalant. "Well, think about it. I was the one dueling dear Auntie Bella before Sirius," - Remus let out a sharp intake of breath at the name - "if I had finished her off then she wouldn't have been able to ki-"

"It had nothing to do with you!" Remus exclaimed, waving a hand, more to stop her from finishing that dreaded word than anything. I can't think about this. Not now. . . .

"Well then, do you blame Harry?"

"This has nothing to do with blame!"

"Then what does it have to do with? I can't see any other reason why you're avoiding everyone."

"Because I don't have anyone!" Remus cried. "Sirius, James, even Peter, they were more than just my friends, they were my brothers! They didn't see me as a vicious creature, they saw me for who I was. They cared for me, it didn't matter what I turned into once a month. They were my family. And now, they're gone, all gone. . . ." Remus's voice had slowly faded to a soft whisper as he spoke, shoulders slumping.

Then, "Gone, do you hear me?! Do you?!" Seizing Tonks by the shoulders he shook her, feeling the wolf rise inside of him in all of its rage and agony at losing its last pack mate. Unable to help himself, Remus let out a long, mournful howl.

Glancing down, he saw in some surprise that Tonks appeared fairly unperturbed. Gently, she placed a hand on his shoulder, rubbing in a circular pattern, easing the tense muscles.

"You have me," she said simply.

Then, she kissed him.
And I don't think I can resist
But I've never been one to
Kiss and tell

"Remus dear, are you quite sure you're alright?"

Looking up over the mountain of food - piled on his plate by a rather . . . overenthusiastic Molly - Remus offered her what he hoped was a reassuring smile. "I'm fine, Molly," he answered.

And he was. He was just . . . thinking.

Molly gave a tsk of half-annoyance, half-concern. Glad though she was to have Remus back in the fold, it was obvious that she didn't believe that Remus was truly 'over' the loss of one of his best friends. His last best friend to be precise. And, being Molly, she had used it as an excuse to stuff him full of every food known to mankind.

Like now. . . .

Remus inwardly groaned as several dollops of mashed potatoes fell onto his already overflowing plate, quickly followed by a large piece of roast chicken. Well, at least I won't be going hungry for a few days . . . OK, make that a few months.

With the Weasley matriarch's expectant gaze on him, Remus dutifully picked up his fork just as a loud crack split the relative peace of the kitchen. As one, Remus and Arthur Weasley stood, drawing their wands and spinning to face one Nymphadora Tonks.

But was it Tonks? Remus had hardly recognized her at first, her hair - so often a lustrous shade meant to draw some sort of attention - was now a lank, mousy brown. And was it his imagination or did her face look gaunter, her eyes more hooded, black-ringed from tiredness.

"Sorry Molly, Arthur. I guess I must have misjudged a bi-" Her voice was monotone, greatly resembling his from a few weeks past. Where was the Tonks that would have joined in with Fred and George's uproarious laughter or apologized to an affronted-looking Fleur, lips twitching all the while? Where was the Tonks that would have laughed in his shell-shocked face, rather than lower her eyes - drab and dull as her hair - and mumble something about delivering a message from Albus? Merlin, where was Tonks?

Hands icy, the man mumbled a hasty apology to Molly and something vague about housework before reaching the front door in a few quick strides. Barely registering the blast of icy air that hit him - so common during the past few weeks, summer or not - Remus Apparated, sighing in relief at the sight of his modest flat. Sinking into a sagging armchair, Remus buried his face in his hands.

She was hurting, he could tell. But couldn't she tell that he was hurting just as badly? That he wanted her more than she could possibly imagine? That finding someone as vibrant and beautiful as Nymphadora Tonks, he had thought to only be the dream of a crazy man?

But no, it would be wrong - so wrong - in so many ways.

We can't do this, he had told her that night - the night that he half-wished he could forget while the other half dreamed of it in those few precious moments between sleep and wakefulness.

I am too old for you, too poor, too dangerous. I don't wish to see you hurt. For she would be, he knew, if he gave in. She would become an outcast, scorned by society, just as his parents had been when they refused to "lock that dangerous beast up," just as Saffy would have been. She may even - in this day and age - be hunted down even more voraciously by Death Eaters because of her connection to such a Dark creature. This is what he told himself as he had - gently as he could - rejected her.

It's for the best, he had told her and, since then, those words had become a sort of mantra. It's for the best . . . for the best . . . really, Remus, it's for the best. . . .

Remus growled in frustration, kneading his forehead with his calloused palm as another thought entered his roiling mind, one that he had steadfastly sought to repress ever since That Night.

If it's for the best, then why does it hurt so much?
A love this true can't be
Subdued
So I'm gonna let out a yell

Having finished singing the final verses of "Dance Like A Hippogriff" and a new, mellower song started up, Tonks allowed herself to sink further into the comfort of Remus's embrace. Glancing down at her bright pink head of hair, Remus chuckled softly, the accompanying reverberation emanating from his chest.

"Mmm," Tonks murmured, entwining her fingers in the rough fabric of his shirt. "You sound really sexy when you do that, you know."

"Do I?" A soft growl mingled with his words this time as he placed his large, paw-like hand over hers.

"Mmm-hmm, very . . . wild. Rather wolf-like actually."

Chuckling again - he had been doing that so often lately it was almost uncanny - Remus leaned down, kissing her gently. Then, "Dora?"

She turned to him, a teasing frown on her face at the endearment. "Yes, dear Moony?"

"Will you marry me?"
I'm gonna stand on a rooftop
Climb up a mountaintop
Baby, scream and shout
I wanna sing it on the radio
Show it on a video
Baby, leave no doubt
I want the whole world to know
Just what I'm all about
I love to love you out loud
"If we take the proper precautions, I see no reason why you cannot attend, my boy. . . ."

"Remus, you must come out of hiding, you're not doing anyone any good like this."

"I'm a monster, Albus."

"Monster? Far from it. Fenrir Greyback is a monster, Lord Voldemort is a monster. You, my boy, are anything but. Always remember, Remus: it is our choices, not our abilities, that make us who we truly are. . . ."

"Dumbledore would have been happier than anyone to think that there was a little more love in the world. . . ."

"Remus? Remus, are you OK?" A hand clasped his own, squeezing gently. Finally tearing his eyes away from the behemoth white tomb, he turned to the woman the appendage belonged to.

"You ask me that far too often, you know," he said, the light words barely squeezing past the considerable lump in his throat.

Almost immediately noticing the true feelings that his words belied, Tonks squeezed his hand more tightly while pulling him upward. It took Remus a moment to realize that the service had ended.

"Well, what else am I supposed to do, old wolf? I worry about you," she jauntily retorted and, though her manner was nonchalant, even teasing, it didn't completely mask the concern in her eyes.

She was worried about having a repeat of the last summer, he knew; here he was, having lost two of his closest friends (and more than a friend in Albus, a teacher, a mentor) within a year of each other. The old Remus would have been a train wreck, just as he had been after Sirius's death. But the new Remus. . . .

Well, he hadn't gotten there quite yet, but it was better than the old Remus, anyway.

Remus instead contented himself with wrapping an arm around Tonks's shoulders, guiding her back towards the castle. Following the funeral, Minerva - Professor McGonagall as he still thought of her - and Mad-Eye had arranged an impromptu meeting of the remaining Order members. No one knew exactly what was going to happen - what with Dumbledore, the Secret Keeper of the Order's headquarters dead and one of those who knew that secret - and many others - a traitor. . . .

"Remus, what's going to happen?" All traces of laughter gone, muscles tense, Tonks glanced up, searching for reassurance in the man's weathered face. She was frightened, that much was obvious to the keen werewolf.

Letting out a deep, internal sigh, Remus searched for what to say. He agreed, of course. It was a downright frightening thought to realize that those you considered your allies, hell, your friends, were really traitors, that anyone could be next - Harry, the Weasleys, Tonks, even himself. He knew that Bill Weasley and his fiancée were getting married in a few weeks time: would they all make it until then or were those hopes too high? But. . . .

Live for the moment, James and Sirius had always told him. As a dedicated NEWT student, he had found the saying incredibly reckless. But now . . . he could imagine the same words coming out of Albus's mouth - in a riddle-like format, of course, accompanied by the usual offer of a lemon drop.

"We'll make it through," he promised.

"But -"

"I can't believe it, Nymphadora. Here I am, convincing you to do something reckless. Don't tell me you're scared."

"I'm not scared, Remus and do not call me Nymphadora!"

"Oh, come now. Nymphadora's a perfectly acceptable name. . . ."

"No, it bloody well isn't!"

And, ignoring the shocked and scandalized looks of several of the upper Ministry members - Dolores Umbridge and Cornelius Fudge among them - the middle-aged werewolf and the young, clumsy Metamorphmagus trotted back to the castle, bickering like a couple of school children, holding hands all the way.

Baby, I want the whole world to see
Just how good your love looks on me
Remus regretted his words almost the instant they left his mouth (he seemed to do that quite a lot with women he loved).

What had he been thinking? He had hardly any money to speak of to pay for the ceremony, no ring, no nothing. Not to mention that they'd only been "together" for a little over a month. Why, even Sirius. . . .

Remus didn't allow himself to finish that thought as another, even more awful one, took its place. Suppose this wasn't what she was looking for? Suppose she had thought that he - Remus Lupin, the old, poverty-stricken werewolf - had held everything she had ever dreamed of but had found herself bitterly disappointed?

Of course it wasn't like he blamed her. A woman as vibrant, as beautiful as Tonks deserved the best not him. He just wasn't good enough; Remus didn't understand how he'd fooled himself into thinking that in the first place. . . .

"Yes."

"W-what?" His heart beat wildly into his chest, barely daring to believe it.

"Yes, Remus Lupin. I will marry you."

I'm gonna stand on a rooftop
Climb up a mountaintop
Baby, scream and shout
I wanna sing it on the radio
Show it on a video
Baby, leave no doubt
I want the whole world to know
Just what I'm all about
I love to love you out loud
Remus could only stare for a few moments, still in half-disbelief, before it hit him. Somewhat belatedly, he let out a cry of pure delight, enveloping Tonks - his fiancée - in his arms, feeling her own wrapping around his wide chest, trailing down his shoulders and back, her beautiful body pressed up against him.

Tipping Tonks's head up to place a kiss to her lips and letting out a soft, wolfish growl of sheer pleasure, Remus knew this was perfection. Forget the war, forget the deaths, forget Voldemort . . . hell, forget chocolate. He was here - alive, he was getting married to the woman he loved who, however surprisingly, loved him back.

"I love you," Remus whispered into Tonks's ear. She didn't answer, she didn't have to.

Allowing his soon-to-be wife (how amazing that sounded in his thoughts) to relax deeper into his arms and leaning his own head against the back-lean of the armchair, the couple fell asleep, the Weird Sisters still blaring in the background.

Baby, I love to love you out loud
Yeah, I love to love you out loud

Note: OK, this didn't exactly go the way I wanted it to. I had a set plan in mind when I started this story (to go with the lyrics) but I don't think it worked out too well. . . . This story had a lot more angst in it than I intended. Hmm. . . . Well, please tell me what you thought, anyway. See, I'm not begging this time.

OK, I am begging. Please, my school semester just ended, so please, please review for an, erm . . . end-of-semester present?