A/N: so as I had to type this up for my creative writing class anyways I figured I'd put it here too.. possible series, but one-shot for now… Read. Enjoy. Review… :) (First 125 words are from the book) starts just after Christmas in the 5th book…

A Rough Road

Harry glanced up at the three decks of The Knight Bus and saw all the passengers staring down at them, noses flat against the windows.

"You'll be safe once you're in the grounds," said Tonks, casting a careful eye around at the deserted road. "Have a good term, okay?"

"Look after yourselves," said Lupin, shaking hands all around and reaching Harry last. "And listen…" He lowered his voice while the rest of them exchanged last minute good-byes with Tonks, "Harry, I know you don't like Snape, but he is a superb Occlumens and we all – Sirius included – want you to learn to protect yourself, so work hard, all right?"

"Yeah, all right," said Harry heavily, looking up into Lupin's prematurely lined face. "See you then…"

"See you Harry," said Tonks, putting on a smile as they left, but they didn't hear her. "Well, do you have to get right off?"

"No," said Lupin, still watching the children as they headed up to the school.

"Dinner at The Three Broomsticks then, Remus?" Tonks asked and Lupin turned his head to look at her, smiling weakly.

"Sure," He said and she smiled happily as she skipped off towards the little pub.

Tonks, getting to the door first, opened it wide and held it open for Lupin behind her. He caught it as Tonks went over to the counter and sat down. He walked over and sat on the bar stool next to her. He sank down a little low, Madam Rosmerta tended to show her enthusiasm for him rather publicly. This was why he tried to avoid and empty Three Broomsticks at all costs. However, spending a little extra time with Tonks was not something he was not something he was going to pass up. Usually there was enough people in the pub that he could blend in, but that wasn't so today.

"Remus!" said the slightly eccentric barmaid.

"Rosmerta," said Lupin politely, as though he was just as happy to see her.

"What've you been up to?" She asked and Lupin shrugged, wishing someone else would walk in so she'd leave him be. "Oh, c'mon. You were part of James' gang after all, I can't imagine after all that trouble you were up to at school that you haven't found anything to busy yourself with."

"Yes.. well," said Lupin, still perfectly polite, "I'll have a fire-whiskey, Tonks? What'll you be having then?"

Lupin looked over to her, pleading for help as she looked from Rosmerta to him and back again.

"Right," she said, taking Lupin's hand over the counter top, "I'll have a butter-beer. And I think we'll share a Cauldron Salad."

"Oh, ok," said Rosmerta, slightly taken aback as she poured their drinks then disappeared into the back to prepare their salad.

"Thank-you," said Lupin, taking a deep breath and relaxing as Tonks withdrew her hand.

"No problem," said Tonks as Lupin took a sip of his drink. "You could have told mentioned it to me if you wanted to go elsewhere."

"No, it's fine," said Lupin as he watched Tonks take a sip of her butter-beer. "You seemed excited to come, my personal issues shouldn't come in the way of that."

Tonks simply watched him curiously as he faced forward. He slumped a little over the bar counter as he stared into the mirror back behind the liquor lined shelf. He was perfectly aware that she was still watching him, but he didn't see the need to say anything. Rosmerta returned a few minutes later with their salad, and then dismissed herself once more.

"Dig in," said Tonks, splitting the salad into two portions on either side of the elongated dinner plate. Lupin picked up a fork and did as he was told. "You're so quiet."

"Are you complaining?"

"No." Tonks replied very quickly. "I was just observing. All the other werewolves I've met are irritating people, you're not."

"Thanks," said Lupin, not exactly sure whether it was a compliment or not.

"No." said Tonks realizing how it sounded. "It's just, I meant you're different is all. In a good way."

"Okay…" said Lupin, trailing off to take a bite of the salad.

"Yeah," said Tonks vaguely, though she looked a bit embarrassed.

About mid meal an owl came soaring into the pub and landed on Lupin's shoulder and pecked at his ear. He looked around and took a gentle hold on the little owl so that he could get the scrap of parchment from its leg, then let it go. The owl hooted in slight adoration at Tonks as he landed next to the salad and started pecking at Lupin's side.

Lupin looked down at the note, which was written in Dumbledore's careful script.

Remus –

It is no longer safe where you are to be. I spoke with Padfoot, you may go there or to Molly's, whichever you wish. I'll be in contact.

Albus Dumbledore

Lupin read it twice. It was cryptic due to Umbridge's reign of terror up at the school. They all knew she was checking their post, and there wasn't anything that they could do about it. Lupin crumpled Dumbledore's note and levitated it over to the fire and dropped it unceremoniously into the flames.

"That from Dumbledore?" Tonks inquired in a hushed tone and Lupin nodded gravely as he down the rest of his drink. "Anything to do with me?"

"No. It's not safe for me to be at my post," said Lupin as Rosmerta came out of the back.

"Remus!" She said and his head popped up, "I will not have owls on my bar."

"Apologies," said Lupin, clearly disgruntled as the owl flew out the window.

"Bloody hell," said Tonks as soon as Rosmerta had disappeared again, and she realized the gravity behind Lupin's news.

The wolves had given into Fenrir Greyback and the Death Eaters. Such a – usually – violent and powerful herd of creatures was dangerous to have against them. The werewolves in the hands of the Death Eaters were a huge threat to the Order, not to mention the entire Wizarding Community at large. It didn't matter that they were all calling the Order crazy, misguided troublemakers. It was still crucial to protect them.

"Want to go?" Tonks asked after a few more minutes of silence.

"We'd better," said Lupin as he stood up and put enough money for Rosmerta on the counter for her.

"You're going back to – Padfoot's – then?" Tonks asked and Lupin nodded as he conjured up a Patronus and sent it off to warn Sirius he would be arriving shortly.

"Take care, Remus," Rosmerta called after them as they headed toward the door and out into the village.

"Are you all right?" Tonks asked as they headed down the street. She presumed that they were heading towards the hogshead to Dissaparate. However, Lupin turned last minute to lead her over towards the Shrieking Shack. "Remus? What're you doing?"

Lupin sat on a snow covered rock, his face in his hands, peaking out over his fingers at the old shack that meant so much to him, the one that held so many of his memories.

"I've failed." He said simply.

"Remus." Said Tonks bracingly as she sat down beside him, her hand resting on his shoulder, "The wolves were a longshot, and one of the hardest assignments. No one expected a miracle."

"Don't you get it, Tonks? I've failed everyone that's ever meant anything to me. Anyone I've ever cared for." Said Lupin, glaring up at the old shack, "Lily, James, Sirius, Dumbledore, my own family… What's to stop me from-"

"From what?" Tonks prompted him.

"Nothing," said Lupin, shaking his head. "I just can't fail Harry, not again."

"I didn't know Lily and James," said Tonks. "But from all I've heard about them they wouldn't blame you."

Lupin shot to his feet.

"I was always the responsible one," said Lupin. "Even when we were at school. I was the one to tell them they'd gone too far. I was the one that always saved their necks in the end. I couldn't… the one time they actually needed me I wasn't there for them…"

"Remus," said Tonks, but Lupin kept going.

"Then I gave up on Sirius, leaving him to the dementors without a second thought." Lupin continued. "One of my oldest friends who accepted me as I was, and I sided with the people who persecuted me."

"Sirius doesn't…" Tonks tried again, but Lupin cut her off once more.

"And Harry," said Lupin, breathless from working himself up so much. "I if I hadn't gotten sacked. If I had managed to somehow patch things us with Severus… If I had kept my nose clean the night in the shrieking shack… Harry's name would have never gotten into the Goblet of Fire. Voldemort wouldn't be back now. If I had stayed out of the shrieking shack Peter would be in Askaban and Sirius would be free."

"Remus," said Tonks, exasperatedly as she stood up, and walked over to him, pacing her hand on his shoulder. "You can't put all that stuff on yourself. Voldemort would have found another way to get his name in the cup. Sirius might've killed Pettigrew on sight if you weren't there to stop him, and then he and Harry would have never connected. And as for Lily and James, you couldn't have known. No one knew, Remus."

"Saying that I couldn't have known doesn't change the guilt I already feel," said Lupin solemnly, unable to get mad at her.

"Remus," said Tonks, putting her hand up to his face, "You're a good man, one of the very few left. You're damaged, but who isn't? Your scars just show on your sleeve. You're truly a beautiful person, Remus, and I don't know how anyone can miss it."

Lupin looked inot her eyes for mere seconds before crashing his lips onto hers. Her arms wrapped quickly around his neck as his hands went to her sides. All the emotions that had been building up between the pair in the secen months since they had first met each other poured out.

Suddenly he pulled away, shaking his head as he backed away from her. Her face dropped as she registered the panic crossing Lupin's face, and then he was gone. Dissaparated.

A split second later Lupin Apparated onto the doorstep of Number Twelve Grimauld Place, London. He burst through the door and into the hall where Sirius was starting to take down the Christmas decorations.

"I kissed her," said Lupin, hyperventilating as he nearly collapsed, standing up only because he was leaning on a wall.

"It's about bloody time, Mate."