Been Alone Long Enough

by Matthew W. Quinn and Kyli Ann Rasco

Author's Note: This is the beginning of a Lupin/Tonks AU that will follow canon until Bill and Fleur's wedding. Much of this chapter is adapted from "The Phoenix Lament" in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The concept of werewolves dying from their transformations came from Clell65619's story "Harry Potter and the Marriage Contracts." Also, since the site's notification system went through a screwy period awhile ago, it might be prudent to check for updates once a week to be safe.

June 28th, 1997 AD

7 PM

"Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think that there was a little more love in the world," Professor Minerva McGonagall said curtly.

I suppose he would, Remus Lupin thought, if that were the entire issue. But it's much more than that.

He opened his mouth to reply, but the hospital doors banged open.

"I've…I've done it, Professor," Rubeus Hagrid choked. "M-moved him. Professor Sprout's got the kids back in bed. Professor Flitwick's lyin' down, but he says he'll be all righ' in a jiffy, an' Professor Slughorn says the Minstry's bin informed."

"Thank you, Hagrid," McGonagall said.

She turned to the group gathered around Bill Weasley's bed.

"I shall have to see the Ministry when they get here. Hagrid, please tell the Heads of Houses — Slughorn can represent Slytherin — that I want to see them in my office forewith. I would like you to join us too."

Hagrid nodded and shuffled out of the room. McGonagall turned to Harry Potter.

"Before I meet them I would like a quick word with you, Harry. If you'll come with me…"

Harry left with her. A moment passed.

"Remus…" Tonks began.

Lupin turned on his heel and walked out of the room.

I can't even continue this conversation. If I do, I might give in.

He already had come perilously close to doing so, Tonks' poor timing notwithstanding. How convincing could any denial be when he was staring at the floor?

He made his way down the corridor and was about to turn when he heard someone behind him.

"Remus," Tonks said. "Remus, I'm sorry, bringing that up now was foolish. But…"

Bloody hell, she's chasing me.

Lupin quickly turned, so quickly Tonks jumped back, eyes wide.

Damn and blast. You frightened her.

"Tonks," he began. "You say you love me, you want to date me. Do you have any idea what you'd be getting yourself into?"

Not giving her a chance to respond, he went on.

"I'm already a pariah. Other than the members of the Order, most wizards can barely stand to look at me! Those who see my clothes" — he gestured at his patched robes—"and this scar" — he gestured to the claw marks on his cheek Fenrir Greyback had left long ago — "make the connection immediately! They cross the streets to avoid me!"

His voice lowered.

"If they see you with me, they'll do the same. It's already close to impossible for me to find work. If we date and if we marry — we're not students anymore, this is something to consider — you'll bear the burden of supporting us largely alone."

"And I'm dangerous, Tonks. Snape was right to expose me after I got careless with my Wolfsbane and put him, Ron, Harry, and Hermione in danger. If I make another mistake, I might kill you, kill you or worse, infect you."

He swallowed.

"And the transformations that make me so dangerous to others are also dangerous to me," he said. "I think the longest a werewolf ever lived is eighty and that's young for a wizard. One day, Tonks, my body won't be able to handle another change, and I'll die. You'll outlive me, not by just a few years like many witches do, but possibly by many decades."

He finished and looked at Tonks.

I wonder how she'll handle this?

Tonks' reaction surprised him.

"Remus, do you think I haven't looked into this?"

She set down her bag and fished out a book with the logo of Werewolf Support Services on it.

Your Werewolf Spouse? This is the first time I've brought up anything hinting of marriage.

She opened the book and flipped through it.

"I've read the whole thing, after we had our first talk. I know the risks, Remus, and I don't care."

She stopped on a page, eyes hardening as she thrust the book at him.

"I'd say this book did a better job of showing me the prejudices I'd face than of outlining the risks."

Lupin took the book in his hands. Tonks had opened it to one of the early pages.

The only way to keep yourself and your children safe from the debilitating disease of lycanthropy is to neither marry nor procreate with an infected individual in the first place. If, however, you choose to ignore all good medical and social advice and tie yourself and your future offspring with a werewolf, here is what you should do.

"Debilitating," Lupin said. "That's an understatement."

"And apparently the only way to keep myself and any future children safe from it is not to marry nor procreate with you at all," Tonks said.

She snorted.

"I still don't care. Hell, Remus, if I wanted to be safe, I wouldn't have become an Auror."

True. Aurors will be priority targets these days, now that Dumbledore is gone.

"We had our first talk on this matter last August. You were thinking about marriage then?"

She shook her head.

"It's the advice that's the big interest, right now. Of course, when we could both die tomorrow…"

Lupin repressed the urge to roll his eyes.

"First we have to date before we can marry and I'm sure you've noticed I'm not interested."

Tonks put a hand on her hip.

"Only because you think poorly of yourself. If you didn't like me too, why is it always about how you're too old for me, too poor for me, and too dangerous to me? I'm an Auror, Remus. I can take care of myself."

Lupin scowled.

She's got you there.

"That may be," Lupin said. "But you're still young and for some reason infa…"

His voice trailed off.

She's young, yes, and clearly infatuated. That being said, she's going in with open eyes. She knows all the problems she'll face and she doesn't care.

Lupin repressed the urge to sigh in exasperation. He decided on one last gamble.

"Have you ever considered Charlie Weasley? He's around your age, after all."

Tonks rolled her eyes.

"Do you think I hadn't laid some heavy hints when we were both students? He's a fine young man, bless him, but he prefers dragons to women."

Yes. In all the years I've spent with the Weasleys, I've noticed that. The boy hasn't had a girlfriend in five years.

"All right," Lupin said. "Fine."

Tonks reached out and took his hand.

"Come on," she said. "The Weasleys might need our help with Bill."

June 30th, 1997 AD

2 PM

The aftermath of Dumbledore's death kept them busy, but he and Tonks were able to sit together at Dumbledore's funeral two days later. Tonks' hair was bright pink again.

As the seats filled in around them, Lupin looked down.

Dumbledore is dead. Not even in the darkest days of the First War did it get this bad.

Beside him, Tonks shifted. A moment later, she slipped her hand around his and squeezed.

He looked down at their entwined hands — his rougher and scarred, hers smaller and smooth.

Lupin allowed himself to smile.