Disclaimer: I'm not JKR so none of this belongs to me, it's all hers. *sigh*
A/N Mostly follows DH, just changed a thing or two, mostly a couple of resurrections and the dynamics of some relationships are different. Oh, and ignores the epilogue.
He stood and swirled the glass of fire whiskey in his hand round, idly reflecting that the liquid moved in a way not dissimilar to the skirts of the women being twirled around the dance floor by their partners. He watched for a while as the couples swayed and circled, dipped and span, the hypnotic sight easing the pain in his heart for a time. All too soon the song ended, and the movement with it. As the dancers politely clapped the band he turned his gaze to the people lining the edge of the ballroom. And immediately wished he hadn't. His heart lurched painfully as his eyes lighted upon her. She looked stunning, the blue ball-gown clinging to her curves, and matching the bright blue shade she had chosen for her eyes to be that evening. Her hair was honey-blonde and short tonight. It would've broken his heart to see her there, looking so beautiful and flirting with the eldest Weasley boy, except she'd trampled his heart so thoroughly there was nothing left to break. He tore his eyes from the woman he loved and focused them instead on his glass. He downed the contents in one, and began to make his way to the bar for a refill.
His glass once again full he returned to watching the dancers. Everywhere he looked there was joy and a sense of hope. It was the third anniversary of the fall of Voldemort, and it had been decided that enough time had passed to celebrate, rather than mourn. As he watched people laugh and dance, drinks in hand and a lightness in their eyes he felt like a solitary rain cloud in a bright blue sky. He didn't belong here, amongst the young and carefree people rebuilding the wizarding world. Nor could he place himself with the older and wiser generation, the ones whose eyes held shadows brought from two wars, but also a benevolent shimmer as they looked upon the world they had suffered to create. Once again Remus Lupin didn't fit. He had thought for a time that he could find a place by the side of laughing blonde in the blue dress, but she had left him alone in the grey.
If he was honest about it there had only been one time in his life when he had felt like he belonged. Ten happy, all too short years, when they were young and thought themselves invincible. But life had proved them wrong, they were only mortal, and now they were gone. James, Sirius, Lily. The ones who had accepted him from the start, who had been his family, his life. They had laughed, and fought, had teased and hexed, had been so alive. When he was with them he had known that no matter how shabby his robes, no matter how brightly the full moon shone, they loved him. And for a while he had let himself believe that she felt the same, that his Dora loved him, and would love him through it all.
It had taken him months to let her in, he didn't feel deserving of her love. He was a poor werewolf, years older than her, and he wasn't worthy of that strength of emotion. He told himself that he had let the last people who really cared down, and he wouldn't allow himself to be in a situation where he could do such damage again, certainly not to such a vibrant woman as her. But eventually she wore away his defences, and he let her into his heart. He fell hard and fast once he let her in, proposing barely six weeks after they got together. She had been overjoyed, but whenever he brought up the topic of wedding dates she put it off. First the war, then afterwards it was too soon, they had lost too many good people, it wouldn't be right. She had a thousand excuses, so in the end he stopped asking. She grew more distant, working late, never wanting to go anywhere with him. Then just a month ago he had come home to find her packing the last of her belongings into boxes in their house.
"Dora?" he asked "what's going on?"
"I'm leaving Rem, I can't do this anymore. I'm sorry, I really am." She didn't look at him while she spoke, she just kept putting things into the box.
"Can't do what Dora? You were the one who pushed me, you were the one who said you would always love me, what's changed? Is there someone else?" He was struggling to keep his temper under control. He supposed he should've seen this coming, but that knowledge didn't make the situation any easier.
"Yeah, but, he's not the reason for this, well not the only one. I did say I'd love you forever, and a part of me will, but I'm not that girl anymore. We were in the middle of a war, and now everything's different. I'm different. And you're all the things you said you were, the things I said didn't matter, except they do. I want the fairy tale, Remus, white picket fences and happily ever after, but you, you're the big bad wolf, not Prince Charming. I never meant to hurt you. I'm sorry." While she spoke she had finished packing and shrunk the boxes, which she preceded to slip into her pockets. As she ended her speech she walked towards Remus, reaching towards him, but he recoiled as though the slightest touch would burn him.
"Don't" he rasped. "Don't touch me, just leave. If you don't want to be here then go." His voice rose even as the tears poured down his cheeks, as the woman he loved, the woman he had taken a chance on, tore his heart to shreds as she walked away. He stayed still as stone as she closed the door behind her, waiting until he heard the tell-tale pop of apparition before falling to his knees with a howl of anguish which sounded closer to the wolf than the man. He stayed there, prone on the floor until he had cried his tears dry, the pain so deep he physically felt it in his chest.
He shook his head as he raised the whiskey to his lips, using the burn of the alcohol to chase away the memories. It was done, and would stay that way. He needed to move on, he knew that. He could practically hear Sirius in his head, telling him so. He smiled as he thought about what his friends would say if they were there.
"Mate, she's just a bird, and there's plenty more. Ones much the same as the next, as long as they've got the right parts, as it were." Smack. "Oww, Lils, what was that for?"
"I'd say it was for being a vulgar git Pads." James' voice this time. "Got to say though Mooney, he has a point, in his man-whore way. You need to move past her, not like she's pining for you is it?"
"James! That's not helpful. Really though Remus, if she can't see how great you are then she isn't worth worrying over. Someone out there will see you for all you are, and count herself blessed to have you. Oh, and Remus? Stop imagining what dead people would say, people will think you're crazy."
He could hear her tinkling laugh and chuckled to himself, pulling his focus back to the room. He needed to let go of Tonks, and his long dead friends and live in the now. Of course that was easier said than done, but it was worth a shot. He raised his glass for a moment.
"I solemnly swear I'll always be up to no good" he murmured, the toast the Marauders had used for all the time they had drank together, and knocked back the contents of the glass. This time, however, he didn't get a refill, but put the glass on the bar and wandered through the room to socialise a bit. He had skulked in the shadows long enough for one evening.