Originally written for the metamorfic_moon Autumn Moonlight Jumble on Livejournal using the prompts Day of Change, Dumbledore's office and Angst.
Every time Remus and Tonks had this conversation in his head, it went exponentially better then what was happening at the moment. In his time away, he had dreamed of their reconciliation endlessly. In his head, he was able to form sentences, complete with nouns and verbs and perhaps even some adjectives thrown in for good measure. He would wrap his arms around her, hold her tightly and tell her everything he had thought about while he was skulking around the werewolf pack. How he was sorry. How he never was going to let go. How he loved her. She'd return his embrace and he would sweep her into a passionate kiss, healing all wounds he had inflicted on her.
Never in his fantasies was he standing in Dumbledore's majestic office surrounded by shards of glass, completely unsure of what to do next.
For hours they had been sifting through Dumbledore's possessions, searching for helpful information, any information, really, for the Order, but nothing was coming to a head. He could feel Tonks' eyes on him as he sorted through the piles of paper on the desk for what must have been the third time, trying to find some sort of hint amongst the unimportant school files, and he looked up to meet her gaze, surprised when he found that he didn't recognize the person staring back at him. When he had left her, Tonks was full of life and sparkling; this woman looked defeated and upset. Colourless.
Do you even love me anymore, Remus?
Words slipped out before he could stop them.
The crashing sound was immediate.
Tonks had thrown a foe glass at him and it shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces at his feet. "You don't know? How can you possibly not know? It's a yes or no answer, Remus." Her voice was lower then he would have expected, not matching the fury of her actions. The quiet disappointment of her words filled the room.
She had caught him completely off his guard. He knew that it was only a matter of time before they would have had this talk, especially after what had transpired earlier in the hospital wing. The discussion would be about their future, and if they even had the chance at one wouldn't be surprised if he had ruined any chance they had at one.
I don't know.
His answer hadn't matched her question. He did love her and both of them knew it. Or at least Tonks used to know. The damage between them had been caused by the months with the werewolf pack, and the way that he had acted was showing its teeth. She didn't know what he felt now, unable to read him as she once was able to. Had they become strangers?
The world around them had just imploded. Dumbledore was dead. Snape was evil. Bill had been ravaged. The secret war was now out in the open. So much had changed so quickly, yet one simple thing remained the same. It always did.
"I do love you, Nymphadora." he said gently, edging closer, his feet narrowing the gap between them slowly. For the past ten months apart, he had thought of very little else. Surely, he had focused on the tasks at hand, spying and relaying information for the Order back to Mad Eye, keeping tabs on Greyback, but she was his default mind setting, filling his heart and body in the cold that surrounded him, keeping him company in the dark. Just thinking about her made him feel less alone and more alone all in the same moment, and that everythinghe was doing was truly worth it. He had reached her spot and took her hand in his, rubbing the back of it with his thumb lightly. "I just don't know if love is enough anymore."
She averted her eyes and walked away from him, breaking the connection of their hands. Tonks stood before a cupboard that had somehow been ignored thus far in their scavenging of the office, unlocking it with a flick of her wand. Opening the aged cabinet behind the desk, she pulled out a large stone basin and placed it in front of her onto the cluttered old mahogany table. Dumbledore's pensieve. Remus watched as one by one she began to pull the glistening strands of memories from her head and guide them into the device effortlessly with her wand. After the fourth transfer, she murmured andshe moved back away from the table. "I need you to see something." Remus nodded his head minutely and stepped up to the bowl, seeing the memories floating around the interior. As he leaned in to dive into the thoughts, his eyes locked on Tonks' but he couldn't place her expression. She looked hopeful and infuriated at the same time, contradicting herself at every turn. "Maybe you can make your mind up about love while you are in there."
He sighed and pushed himself into the pooling memories.
Remus always found it odd to be watching a memory that he was already a participant in. The whole idea of two Remus' being in the room always made him feel slightly put out, that he was on the wrong end of a mirror, simply able to observe and mimic, but never partake. What was the point of re-watching something he could already see in his own mind?
The long table that filled the room was surrounded by Order members, all debating amongst themselves. Dumbledore was planning on having Harry extracted from the Dursleys after weeks of solitary confinement and had opened up the floorto discussion, citing that 12 brains were better then one, and was now sitting back with a small grin on his face, eye twinkling. Remus found himself smiling sadly at the scene before him.
The whispered words caught his attention just as they had the first time around. "Are they always like this?" Tonks' was sitting to Remus' left, and was trying to keep her voice as quiet as possible and still be heard through the din.
Remus watched himself turn to face Tonks. It was her first meeting and had kept quiet thus far, obviously feeling that as a newcomer she was more of an observer then participant in the debate. She was soaking it all in, and Remus was pleased to see that she didn't appear to be overwhelmed, as he had been at his first meeting years before. Perhaps her work as an Auror had prepared her better then he had expected
He smiled and whispered back, "Usually Sirius would have tried to hex Severus by now, but yes, this is generally how the Order operates." As the words came out of his mouth, Sirius drew his wand and sent a jinx across the table only to be deflected by Snape, shattering a picture on the wall as it rebounded. "Ahh, there we go." He smirked at Tonks, "Business as usual."
"Why is this such a huge issue?"
"Harry's aunt and uncle are exceptionally anti-wizard so simply going over to collect him won't work out that well, and we can't really arrange for him to be dropped off somewhere now that Voldemort is active again, as it isn't safe. We just need to work out the kinks how to do it." Remus grinned to himself and raised his eyebrows at Tonks, "Although I do think that we are going overboard if we listen to Hagrid's suggestion of riding Thestrals while disillusioned to kidnap him at half two on a Thursday night. I rather think Harry might fight us in that case. I don't think he'll fancy being surprised by strange wizards during the night."
"Why don't they try something easier? Just get the muggles out of the house and go in and get him? We could even ring the doorbell so he won't attack us on sight."
Remus had always laughed when people actually made the claim that the most obvious answer was usually be the one, but he could help but think that this was quite possibly the best suggestion he had ever heard of. Who would expect wizards to walk in the front door? Especially if they were wizards Harry knew…
"I think you might have the right idea, Nymphadora. We'll let them fight over this awhile longer, and then we can work out the logistics with Mad Eye. Not too bad for your first day on the job." He reached out and picked up his glass, tipping it in her direction.
At his words, Tonks positively glowed. At the time, Remus had thought that it was because she was embarrassed by his praise, but thistime he followed the direction of her eyes. He had brushed her hand with his own while reaching for his tumbler, and she was grinning to herself. "Thanks. Oh, and Remus?" Her eyes left her hand to meet his, "Don't call me Nymphadora."
Something as small as an accidental touch had made her smile. He had forgotten how much he missed seeing it.
The scene quickly changed into the next and Remus was able to see that he was in Tonks' flat, surrounded by the brightly coloured walls and overstuffed furniture, and it could have been on any number of occasions'but the pressure that filled the room, even in the memory, made it instantly obviously which occasionthis was.
All the words had already been said. He was leaving to go underground with the wolves, and nothing she had said would convince him otherwise. It was where he needed to be, where he would be able to help the Order the most. The first time that Remus being a werewolf could be useful.
He could see himself standing at the door, threadbare coat hanging off his shoulders, hand already on the knob, but remembering the feeling he had had, finding it difficult to actually twist it and walk away. He could still remember what Tonks' face had looked like, as she sat still on the couch, it had been ingrained into his memory. Seeing it for a second time didn't lessen the ache. She had been tear-free, but obviously broken. This time he was able to see himself, and wasn't surprised that his entire appearance reflected what he had been feeling in this moment. Completely defeated.
For a solid ten minutes they stared at each other, no words passing between them when he finally heard himself quietly clear his throat, whispering, "Goodbye, Tonks." and somehow mustered the strength to turn the handle and walk out, door clicking as it shut behind him.
The memory didn't shift when he left as he expected it to. He remained in the vision, watching Tonks as she stared at the closed door, unmoving. Minutes he waited, unsure as to why the scene wasn't moving on until he caught sight of Tonks' hair. It was fading. When he had been at the door, it had been a light pink colour, but as the seconds ticked by, the longer he was gone, it faded into the mousy brown that it was in present time. Tonks didn't even seem to be aware of the change.
He had drained everything that she had left.
Remus found himself standing knee deep in the snow when the next memory came into focus. He was in the middle of the street outside of Grimmauld Place on Boxing Day, watching himself and Tonks in the midst of a heated argument, voices slowly rising with each word. He flinched in anticipation as he knew what was coming, but couldn't stop his past self. He hated this memory, at his lowest, months ago.
Tonks had finally reached her breaking point and slapped him across the face. "How dare you decide what is best for me? Am I not smart enough to make my own decisions?"
Remus was looking past her, trying to avoid her stare. "I'm trying to let you live your life. To go off, have a career, get married and have children. What a normal person does. What you can't have if you are with me." He shook his head vehemently, "I'm old, with no money, which is not a promising scenario for any woman. Not to mention that I'm a monster. A Dark Creature to the core." Remus could see himself getting angry, bubbling with rage that had been looking for an outlet for weeks, and was silently urging himself as his own onlookerto find a different reaction than what was coming, knowing that it was about to be catastrophic.
She grabbed him by the collar of his worn jacket and shook him violently, as if trying to rid him of the thought. "You aren't like them, Remus." A single tear rolled out of her eye, and he could see himself deliberately looking away from her face, past her into the darkness. "You're better."
"But I am just like them. I've been hiding it for years; denying my true self." He spat back, practically growling. He couldn't believe that she was still shrugging it off as if it were nothing. He wasn't normal, and he couldn't give her a normal life. He was just like the rest of the pack. He simply couldn't outrun it any longer.
"Remus Lupin wasn't born a werewolf! It's an infection at worst! Having a condition doesn't define who you are!"
He snapped, losing hold on any rationality that he had been clinging to. "Doesn't it?" His demeanour changed completely and he pushed her roughly up against the wall behind them, trapping her. His hand grabbed her chin, holding it into place, forcing her to look at his furious face. Remus winced watching the scene as he heard Tonks' head thud against the brick. "Would a good man treat you this way? Able to watch your tears fall, and continuously hurt you, time and time again?" He grabbed her suddenly, lips crashing into hers, his hands grabbing her hair, pulling himself closer to her. As fast as it had started he ripped his lips away, breathing heavily. "Would someone who was good for you act like this? Treat you like a child's toy? A possession that can be used for his own pleasures, no matter how it is for you? We take what we want, and when we are done with them, we toss them aside." He let go of her suddenly and walked away, immediately ashamed. "That's all a werewolf will ever do, transformed or not." The pressure of everything that had happened over the past months had been building, the conflicted thoughts of self, everything shot out. He wasn't angry with her, but she was the only one there for him to take it out on.
"Leave, Tonks." He kept his back to her. How could he even look at her after the way he had acted? This time, Remus watched as Tonks walked away from him, slowly down the snow covered street, feet slipping slightly beneath her. She stopped and turned to face him, staring at his back, tears pouring from her face. He barely heard her words, only recognizing them as he watched her lips move.
She spun around to disapparate and the memory turned black.
The last image swirled into view and Remus found himself to be surrounded by a frenzy of action. This memory was earlier in the presentnight, in the heat of the battle itself. He saw himself alongside Bill and Tonks, with Ron, Neville, and Ginny close behind surrounded by Death Eaters at the bottom of the stairs to the Astromony Tower. Remus watched helplessly as he saw Gibbon race up the stairs to set off the Dark Mark, wanting to tell his past self to intervene and stop him in some way.
This time through the battle he was safe, able to watch what was going on to the others around him. Curses were flying left and right. Working as a team, Ron and Neville had formed some sort of barrier around Ginny, acting defensively while Ginny was shooting offensive curses around them at the Death Eaters. Bill was fighting on the left, trying to hold back Greyback as he circled nearer to him, jaws snapping, fighting more like an animal then a man. Then there was Tonks, duelling evenly matched with Dolohov, until he got lucky and disarmed her, wand flying through the air and clattering on the floor behind them. Remus watched horrified as Dolohov laughed at her panic.
"Don't worry, child. I'm not going to kill you. I'm leaving you for your dear Aunt Bellatrix. She really wishes to see to you herself." Dolohov's smile widened, "However, I do plan on causing significant damage to the Order tonight." Dolohov spun around, and his wand lined up with Remus, who was battling with both the Carrows, fiercely concentrating on the duel. "Will you miss the werewolf, half-blooded Black?" Remus could see Tonks' eyes widen with fear, her jaw clenching tight, as she saw Dolohov raise his arm towards the preoccupied Remus.
Tonks threw herself at Dolohov, tackling him at the waist, knocking him off balance as the spell left his wand. The glowing green curse hurtled towards Remus, missing him by mere inches and hitting Gibbons as he rushed back down the stairs, making him crumble to the floor instantly. Dead.
Tonks had saved his life. He had treated her atrociously the last time he had seen her, at Christmas, and she had saved him. After the way he had acted in the previous memory, he wouldn't have saved himself if he were her.
Remus watched her now, as she retrieved her wand and was once again duelling with Dolohov. Her eyes flickered between her opponent and the battle he was having with the Carrows', when suddenly Snape rushed past them all and up the stairs to the tower, and everything faded to black.
His vision spun quickly, and he closed his eyes as he felt it come to a complete stop. He was out of the penseive, but kept his eyes closed tight. He heard her step up beside him, and rejoin their hands, entwining their fingers together. Squeezing his, she spoke softly, "I couldn't let him take you from me. Not when I had just got you back."
He turned towards her and wrapped her tightly into his arms, making a silent promise to himself that he was never going to let her go. Pressing his face into her hair he murmured, "I'm sorry, Dora. I'm so, so sorry."
"I love you. More than anything. Don't you see? I love you so much that I was willing to let you go. Let you be happy, move on with your life." He tucked his fingers gently under her chin and slowly lifted upwards so that they could face each other. "I'll make myself miserable so that you can have everything you deserve and I can't offer."
"Can't you see? Without you, I'm miserable." Her eyes were glistening with unshed tears and he couldn't resist running his hands through her short brown locks, not able to hold onto her enough.
"Then we'll be not miserable together."
He felt her warmth as she rested her head against his chest, but the feeling of dread didn't leave him. She hadn't responded. After all that he had put her through; the pain, the strife… would she even still want him? Then he saw it out of the corner of his eye. Pink. Casting his eyes down, her could see her hair and it was like watching what he had seen the pensieve in reverse. The brown was slowly retreating and her true self was beginning to shine through once more. Bending his head slightly, he brought his lips down to the top of her head, placing them lightly in her hair, feeling her wrapping her arms around him tighter in response, hearing her whisper the three most wonderful words.
How could he have ever thought that love wouldn't be enough?
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