Tonks hadn't meant to spy. In fact, she'd been on a mission to rid Molly of a particularly nasty Boggart thought to be hiding under the staircase when she heard the music coming from the library and decided to investigate. She grabbed the doorknob and started inside, but stopped short when she saw Remus there—sitting alone in an overstuffed chair near the fireplace. On a table before him sat a box-like Muggle contraption Arthur once told her was called a song spinner. The golden light from the fire cast a warm glow over his worn face as he leaned forward.
He lifted a big black disc off the spinner and the music stopped—but only for a moment. He flipped the disc over then carefully placed it back down. She watched as he closed his eyes and leaned in closer to listen. He looked respectful—almost reverent—as if the song spinner had the power to heal all wounds. She heard a soft, crackling sound and then the slow, deep drawl of a guitar. Soon a woman's voice filled the room.
As I walk down the street
Seems everyone I meet
Gives me a friendly hello
I guess I'm just a lucky
So and so . . .
It was unlike anything she had ever heard before. Not raucous and wild like the Weird Sisters or sickeningly sentimental like Celestina Warbeck. This woman sang with a rich, soulful voice that reminded her of the way honey flowed onto hot crumpets—drizzling languidly into each nook and cranny until every inch glistened with sweetness. But there was something else, too—a kind of sadness in her tone that flickered like a shadow on a wall—a kind of sadness that sounded like regret.
He reached for a glass sitting near the song spinner, took a sip of the amber liquid, and leaned back into the chair with a sigh. He tapped his fingers to the song's slow rhythm then suddenly gripped the armrest as if he was trying to put the brakes on a bad memory. She felt her heart drop unceremoniously into her stomach. She knew all too well what had put Remus in this mood.
It had all started three days ago. They'd had patrol together that night and the weather was dreadful. A cold, heavy rain fell during most of their shift and by the end of it even the Impervious charm they'd cast on themselves failed to keep the chill out of their bones. She had suggested they warm up a bit with a nightcap before heading back to headquarters.
It had seemed like such an innocent, uncomplicated gesture at the time. Now, as she watched Remus take another sip from his glass and stare at the revolving black disk listening to the woman continue her sweet, sad song, Tonks wished she could go back in time and change everything. She should have realized that when it came to Remus, nothing was ever simple.
They walked into the Troll with Two Necks and the barkeep greeted them with a smile. They sidled up to the bar and were about to place their order when the bartender's smile disappeared. He grabbed an edge of the dirty apron wrapped around his waist and slowly wiped his hands. For a moment, he just stared at them—his stone grey eyes moving from her over to Remus, where they lingered. He seemed to study Remus; quickly cataloguing his shabby and heavily mended robes, the worry lines and faint scars that crossed his thin, pallid face . . . his unruly mop of sandy-grey hair.
Tonks understood from the bartender's scowl that he didn't like what he saw. She clenched her teeth in an attempt to bring down her blood pressure. "Not again," she thought in exasperation.
"What'll you have?" he asked Tonks tightly, turning to her.
"One firewhisky and—" she glanced at Remus, who nodded wordlessly. "Make that two firewhiskies," she answered.
The bartender took a last glance at Remus and then turned away to fetch the drinks.
"Such a friendly chap, isn't he? He might just have a chance at Witch Weekly's Warlock of the Month," she said, turning to Remus with a sardonic smile. But her smile disappeared when she saw the look in his eyes.
She'd seen that particular expression several times before, usually when she happened to be with him among the Wizarding public. Sometimes, all it took for the "look" to make a showing was a stranger's sidelong glance or a mumbled epithet as Remus walked by. And every time Tonks saw it creep up over his face and settle in his eyes, she felt simultaneously sorry and annoyed. She understood well enough the kind of prejudice most werewolves faced. She had to admit that some of them—like that bastard Greyback—deserved it.
But Remus wasn't like that. He was a good man with a keen mind and wide heart. She could only imagine the pain he must feel, being rejected and overlooked by a world he had so much to offer. Despite his shabby looks and unassuming nature, he was also one of the most talented wizards she had ever known. His gifts far outstripped her own and those of most of the Order; he could probably give even Dumbledore a run for his money. And yet with one ignorant sneer, this bloater of a bartender had called out the "look" and all of Remus's power and strength began to ebb away as if his soul had been hit with a bleeding curse.
Still, while her heart ached for him, she couldn't help the irritation that built up in her bloodstream. He didn't have to give in to every narrow-minded bigot who happened to cross his path. She hated the "look" because it belied his very nature. Remus was strong and courageous, talented and intelligent. She hated the "look" because it acknowledged defeat and sought for a retreat.
"Tonks, I don't really want a firewhisky," Remus said.
"Don't tell me. You're the type of bloke who fancies those frilly umbrella drinks, eh?" she teased.
"Actually, I'm quite tired . . . perhaps we could do this some other time?"
"You weren't tired just a minute ago," she replied pointedly.
The bartender reappeared, set down a drink in front of Tonks and then turned to talk with another patron.
"Hold up," she said, waving him over, but he ignored her. "Hey!" she called again. He grimaced, but still did not turn to her. "Oi! Barkeep! Where's my friend's drink?"
Finally, he turned to her. "We don't serve his kind in here."
"Tonks, let's just leave . . . " Remus began, but she ignored him.
She felt a surge of anger flush into her face. Remus might have let prejudiced old gits walk all over him in the past, but he wasn't going to allow it this time—not if she had anything to say about it.
"And what kind would you be referring to? The tall handsome kind who could hex your arse into next week?"
The bartender didn't flinch, but out of the corner of her eye, she saw Remus run a nervous hand over his face and look away. Her ears burnt at the thought of embarrassing him—but her desire for justice burnt even hotter.
"He knows what kind I mean," the bartender said, looking at Remus as if he were a particularly nasty kind of insect.
She felt Remus grip her arm. "Let's go," he whispered firmly.
"No," she said, shaking herself free of him. "We're paying customers—just like everyone else in here. And we're bloody well going to get our drinks!"
"Fine," he said evenly, wrapping his fraying muffler around his neck. "You have your drink, if you want it that badly." He made to stand up, but Tonks pressed her hand on top of his.
"And you'll just run away?" she said, staring hard into his eyes.
She saw a spark of emotion flick across his face and then his pale blue eyes turned cold. He looked down at his hand still lying beneath hers and quickly pulled it away.
"Enjoy your drink," he said as he stood and walked out the door.
Those were the last words he'd spoken to her in three days. Not that she'd tried so very hard to strike up a conversation with him during that time. At first, she'd simply been too pissed off to approach him. All she had wanted him to do was be true to himself—to the worthwhile person who existed somewhere underneath those tattered robes and lycanthropy scars. But then, after she'd slept on it (or, rather, tried and failed to sleep on it), she began regret her impetuosity. Remus was her best friend—more than her best friend, to own the truth—and her actions had undoubtedly added to his already excruciating embarrassment. In her zeal for justice, she had trampled all over his feelings. And what good was justice if you failed to respect the person you're fighting for in the first place?
She knew she should apologize to him, but the remembrance of his cold blue eyes and even colder good-bye stopped her. Had she hurt him beyond his ability to forgive her? She rested her head against the door, listened to the woman's silky sad voice and sighed.
The birds in every tree
Are all so neighborly
They sing wherever I go
I guess I'm just a lucky
So and so . . .
"How long do you plan on standing in the hallway?" Remus's hoarse voice jolted her out of her reverie and thrust her heart up into her throat. She peeked her head through the door and saw him still sitting in the overstuffed chair—his long legs stretched out before him and his ankles crossed. He did not turn to look at her. She stepped awkwardly into the room and walked toward the table. She glanced at the song spinner and then into Remus's face. The ice in his eyes seemed to have melted, replaced by a flickering golden flame. But still, he did not look at her.
"Nice song spinner," she said quietly.
He looked up at her suddenly with a confused expression. "What?"
She pointed to the Muggle machine. "The song spinner."
She noticed a corner of his mouth begin to twitch, and then he turned to the fire and snorted.
"What's the matter?" Tonks asked.
He turned to her with a small grin. "It's called a record player."
"It's OK," he said. Another, more hesitant, smile played on his lips and up into his eyes. And she knew without his saying another word that all was forgiven.
"Care for a drink?" he asked, reaching for the bottle of fire whiskey sitting near the record player. Tonks noticed the second glass just then and wondered if he had been expecting her all along.
"You were right, you know," he said, pouring her a drink as she knelt down beside his chair. "I . . . I sometimes allow petty annoyances to get the better of me." He took a drink and glanced at her.
"And I sometimes trample like a bloody elephant all over people's feelings in public," she said raising her glass to his and clinking it softly. "But only because I care about them," she added with a grin, resting her hand on his.
"So," he said casually, looking into the fireplace. "You really think I could hex a bartender into next week?"
"Yes," she answered. She reached up and softly turned his face to hers. "And I also think you're handsome." And then she saw it in his eyes—the "look". It was the look of strength and courage, of hope and trust—of faith.
And as her lips touched his, she heard the woman on the record player sing . . .
And when the day is through
Each night I hurry to
A home where love waits
I guess I'm just a lucky
So and so
Author's Note: Thank You Mahsa for all your encouragement and insights! You are the best :)
Author's Note 2: The song Remus was listening to on his song spinner is "I'm Just a Lucky So and So" as sung by the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald. (In my little universe, Ella Fitzgerald is one of Remus Lupin's favorite Muggle singers--he has good taste! ;) ) If you'd like to hear the song, you can find it on line at: .fm/music/Ella+Fitzgerald/_/I%27m+Just+a+Lucky+So+and+So