I'm planning on this being a two, possibly three parter. It's set after Remus returns from his underground post with the werewolves, and will continue through Dumbledore's death. Enjoy!
The Back of the Sun
Tonks wasn't surprised when he quietly let himself into her flat in at three in the morning.
It wasn't, she noted, the dramatic reunion she had concocted in her mind. She had thought of snow on the path and turning a corner in Hogsmeade to find him there, his eyes twinkling in a way that would tell her with one glance; I missed you, I love you, I'm sorry I had to leave, I'm back now for good. Either that, she had decided, or he would appear behind her while she did something mundane. She had pictured it so vividly at night; there would be silence as she washed the dishes or struggled with the oven, and she would hear his voice, gentle and rasping behind her; Dora, I'm home...
None of that happened, in the end.
She heard Remus gently close the front door, obviously mindful of the loud screeching of the rusty hinges. Her old flat in muggle London had been bigger and more homely, but since she had been stationed in Hogsmeade, she had to make do with the small flat above the Hogsmeade apocathery. It was one room and a rusty old bathroom, with a small counter masquerading as a kitchen squashed into the corner, and a small bed occupying most of the room. Tonks didn't hate the room, but she had not grown fond of it either. The window at the head of her bed let light stream over Remus, who was currently bustling about at the bottom of her bed, struggling out of his shoes, in battle with the protesting floorboards, completely unaware that she was awake and watching him.
Tonks had been made aware that he had returned from his station underground by Dumbledore, who had written a carefully worded letter to her earlier that day. Since then, she had been sitting, rigid and nauseous on the end of her bed, staring at the door, waiting for him to open it so she could tackle him onto her bed and hit him for worrying her so much, and kiss him for being alive and safe.
In all of these fantasies, one thing had remained consistent; he would always be happy, well and completely undamaged. The reality send sparks of hurt through her.
As Remus turned and his face caught the light, his eyes finally coming to rest on her, he looked old and tired. How could she not have expected this? His face was bruised and cut, and his cheeks were hollow and lined with worry rather than laughter. She felt anger rush through her and suddenly wished to drag him under her sheets, wrap herself around him and never let anyone near him again. He was some form of non-Remus. Even his eyes, which she could always rely on for comfort and warmth, held nothing but shame, confusion and weariness. Tonks didn't move, stuck in a gentle trance, lying on top of her sheets with her legs curled up to her chest. She had not slept, merely watching the door in darkness and waiting for him to appear.
His voice sounded unused and he cleared his throat a little. "Can I stay here tonight?" he asked, resigned.
"Of course you can," she whispered, disturbed by his use of 'tonight'; it sounded worryingly temporary.
He shrugged out of his overcoat and politely draped it over the foot of the bedstead. His clothes had never looked so unloved. He gave her a weak smile that didn't even approach his eyes, let alone reach them. It made his face look wrong; he always smiled with his eyes. 'Scoot over, hmm?' he requested gently and she complied, not smiling, just watching him in the moonlight that bathed the room.
Suddenly cold in her short pyjamas, she curled up tighter and silently urged him to hurry up and lie down with her. He merely sat on the edge of the bed and leant his elbows on his knees, running hands through his ragged hair. The outline of his broad back made her ache inside. For so long she had wished to have him back with her so that she could fit herself against his back and feel the slow rise and fall of his breathing, and now he was right there, on the edge of her bed, and he had never felt so far away.
Eventually, when she could stand the distance no longer, she tugged on the back of Remus' jumper, and he took the hint, stretching his long limbs out on the bed beside her and shifting to face her. Tonks reached out a tentative hand and stroked the line of his nose, his jaw and over his eyelids, which had closed at her touch. Tonks was glad; she had no desire to look at his haunted eyes. His psychical presence had been something she had longed for most, and she finally had that. She could feel the warmth of him and was surprised, half expecting him to be as cold as ice.
"You're back," she announced quietly, unnecessarily, simply because she needed to break the silence.
"Yes," he agreed. "Dumbledore informed me early this morning that I was longer obliged to stay underground. He has all the information he requires."
"Oh," was all she could say as she passed over a small cut above his eyebrow, frowning.
She thought the reunion would be more passionate; all of the fire that she had stored up would come rushing out in declarations of love and violent accusations and questions about why and how he left her.
He wasn't even looking at her. Did he still love her?
"Remus?" she asked gently, cupping his unshaven cheek and trying to angle his face so that he had no choice but to look her in the eye. "You look far away."
His eyes finally darted up to hers and she flinched at the hardness in them. "No. I'm here. That's what you want, isn't it?" he sounded harsh and unlike Remus, and tears of anger settled at the back of her eyes. This wasn't what she had wanted. She had wanted Remus.
"Of course it's what I want. I've wanted nothing else for months, so don't go all tortured hero on me, Remus. You're home now."
He snorted in laughter, and it worried her further. But almost as soon as the mock-laugh was over, a giant, rasping breath ripped its way from his throat and Tonks knew that was it. The hurt and misery that he had had to endure was breaking the flood lines and flowing through him thick and fast. It was all she could do; she shifted closer and wrapped a strong leg around his waist, wound her arms around his neck and gripped him with her entire body. Whether he liked it or not, he was going to let her hold him, because she needed this as much as she did. He smelt of campfire smoke and sweat and she shamelessly pushed her nose into his soft hair, inhaling the warm scent that she had longed for. He wasn't crying, and she didn't expect that he would, but he was entirely still and tense in her arms.
It was a moment before she felt it; his warm hand splayed out in the small of her back, between where her camisole met the waistband of her shorts. And suddenly, she was on fire; every inch of her. In a second, the same fire seemed to catch onto Remus and his hand was at the back of her knee, pulling her leg tighter around him and he rolled her roughly onto her back, his lips inches away from hers. He simply hovered, covering her body with his, lips not touching, his hand moving from her leg to rest on the pillow beside her head. Tonks tried to calm her deep breathing and tried to tell herself that this was Remus. Remus was safe, and so was she.
"Oh, Merlin, I've missed you,' she growled, and pulled his mouth down to hers.
Maddeningly, he didn't kiss her firmly like she craved, but instead pressed small, chaste little kisses against her parted lips and then trailed his lips up, over her nose, between her eyebrows and finally he rested on her forehead, placing a warm, tender kiss against her hairline. Tonks' eyes closed against the hot tears of happiness at the simple gesture.
Perhaps he wanted to be together properly again, like before...
The Christmas before last they had been together in a giddy, lustrous way and were inseparable, bound together with a heat intense enough to melt the snow outside. They had retreated away from their lives in the Order by renting a small cottage in Cornwall for the holiday season, and they had tucked themselves in blankets when even Remus' best heating charm failed to dispel the cottage's chill. Tonks had mainly paid for the rental, but had known better than to bring up the fact in front of Remus, wary of his sensitivity surrounding monetary issues. Still, his company had more than made up for it.
They had found what they had dubbed their favourite room, Tonks remembered. She blushed as she recalled that in the first few days, while the snow had fallen around the cottage, they had seldom left the room, keeping each other warm under the endless pile of blankets smothering the small bed.
She closed her eyes tightly and remembered how he would groan jokingly when she would wake him in the middle of the night and gently coax him to make love to her. One morning, they had unintentionally scandalised Miss Penny, the old landlady of the cottage, by answering the door in nothing but sheets and sporting sex-mussed hair and swollen lips. The poor woman had never called round after that.
Tonks pursed her lips as his voice brought her back to the present; back to Hogsmeade and the new, flattened Remus.
The Christmas that had just passed, they had spent completely apart. She had sat in her room and wrapped the covers around herself for the entire day. He had gone to the Weasley's in the short time he had before he had to return to his position underground.
"Are...we together again?" Tonks asked, blinking wildly, seeking his eyes for some kind of life; for some kind of Remus.
Remus frowned, and she felt the urge to smooth out the line between his eyebrows with her thumb. He didn't answer, and brushed her hair – which was that hideous brown that she hated – back from her forehead. Tonks felt the anger rise within her. He had been through hell and so had she, and yet he was holding back by not being honest with her. He was prolonging the agony for them both. Why couldn't he allow them to both take comfort in this one simple thing?
"I love you, you know," she informed him casually, and his eyes found hers and bore into them, searching for some hint of pity or deception.
Evidently, he found none, and went slack against her, keeping his weight on his elbows. His head hung low and his fringe tickled her face as a part of him gave in. "I know you do. I'm glad you do. I need you to. And I'm baffled as to why you do."
"That wasn't quite the response I was after," she dug her fingers into his ribcage teasingly. He didn't laugh and squirm like he used to, but he gave a sharp little fidget and gently threw her fingers away from him, not unkindly, but not lovingly either. "Do you-"
And then his mouth was covering hers, swallowing her words. She tried to resist but couldn't find the strength. All she could do was whimper as the lips which she had missed so dearly drove her into a heated frenzy, until she finally found the will to break free.
She loved him too much. Too much for words. She loved his broad shoulders and gentle eyes, his bashful talent as a wizard and his careful attentiveness as a lover, and she thanked god that he was alive. She mentally scanned every inch of him, checking that she still loved every single piece; his golden-grey hair, his hollow cheeks. She whimpered into his mouth, love rushing through her in her blood, weakening her muscles, twisting in her stomach, making her want to cry with the intensity of it all. It was almost unbearable, after so long of sitting in a blank stupor waiting for him, the startling reactions her body was sent into by his presence made her gasp into his mouth and squirm restlessly underneath him, toes and fingers curling and uncurling. He sighed once, slowly and firmly, against her mouth and pulled away, staring deeply into her eyes. Her breath came in small little gasps and she wondered just how far he was going to take this.
He smiled, and once again it refused to reach his eyes. He shifted off her and sat up, running a hand over the unkempt growth of prickly beard that had settled on his face. Tonks followed him, sitting up on her knees and moulding herself against his back.
"I don't deserve this," Remus stated, so quietly she almost missed it. "I don't deserve you at all. I...I'm old and dangerous. What gives me the right to think that I can come into your life whenever I need you and make things complicated for you?"
"Please don't be like that," she whispered. "I need you here. I don't care about anything else."
Remus let out a low, rumbling laugh. "We don't have the luxury of not caring about anything else. We're in a war, Tonks."
Tonks swallowed the lump in her throat. "Do you even love me?" she asked incredulously.
He paused for a moment, looking back over his shoulder at her. "I can't love you."
His words stabbed through her heart cruelly, and anger bubbled up, hot and thick, and suddenly she could no longer contain it. The tears blurred her vision and she felt her hands move of their own accord, hitting and slapping every part of him she could reach. She knew that she wasn't using enough force to hurt him, but he flinched away from her. "You complete bastard!" she gasped. "It's been months and I had to go through every day not knowing if you were alive or dead! It's not just you that's been through hell, Remus. I love you and I...I just didn't know what to do...you could have been hurt...or...or killed and I...I couldn't breathe..."
Blinded with the hot salt in her eyes, she felt him gently still her wrists, halting her attack on him and savoured the feel of his warm palms against her skin. She leaned into him and mindlessly crawled into his lap, not caring if he was trying to resist. She knew she was being selfish, but she needed him so badly that her body had taken over her mind. Tonks felt him tense against her, and tightened her hold on him, straddling his lap, determined that she would win this battle. Her mind felt foggy and uncaring; all she wanted right now was him, and she was going – after months of agony – to get what she wanted.
"Don't you dare leave me on my own," she said through clenched teeth, her voice muffled against his shoulder. She felt complete; her arms full, her body warm in a way that it hadn't been for what seemed like an eternity.
Remus pulled back and looked desperately into her eyes. "Tonks please don't make this more difficult than it is. You know that I..." he cleared his throat, "you know how I feel about you. But this cannot end well, and you know it. In war there are so many risks. When you lose someone it's unbearable..."
"But you're trying to separate us anyway?" she challenged.
"If we're together, and something happens to either of us, you know how devastating it will be," he told her softly, his breath skimming her hair. "If I lost you..."
His eyes closed firmly and his face adopted a pained expression. Tonks smoothed away the worry lines with her fingers, reassured that he still wanted her. "If you lost me, then what?" she prompted, wanting to hear.
Remus looked at her hesitantly, and then relaxed in defeat. "If I lose you, the world turns grey. If I lose you, the stars go out, and the sun doesn't rise. If you die, I die."
Her entire body clenched with feeling, and she dragged his lips to hers fiercely, winding her arms around his neck and pressing herself as tightly against him as she could manage. She was raw; kissing him frantically, nails scratching at his back and she thought for a moment that if she could climb inside his soul and never come out, she would.
He moaned gently into her mouth and stroked the sensitive skin at the back of her knee. Tonks smiled against his lips and remembered his fondness for the ticklish little spot there...
Two months into their relationship, Tonks had emerged from her shower one evening, her legs damp and smooth, sporting a small, stinging cut on the back of her knee. She had collapsed dramatically onto the bed, and he had dropped his book to look at her curiously, still fully dressed in his robes. He had been propped up against the pillows, his hair slightly ruffled.
"I'm wounded," she had pouted, lifting her leg to demonstrate, so that he could see the small, straight cut hidden in the crook of her knee and the blood trickling gently from it.
"How on earth did you do that?" he had frowned, staring curiously at the back of her knee.
"Shaving charm," she had explained simply.
"Can you not simply morph your legs the way you want them?" he had raised an eyebrow, looking down.
"It would take a lot of effort to morph away every individual hair and keep it like that indefinitely. Anyway, my mum always taught me to not get complacent about morphing. She thought I'd get big headed, I think..."
He had repaired the tiny cut with a gentle brush of his wand, leaving only a tender little patch of pink skin where the cut had vanished. She had squirmed and laughed deeply when he had brushed his lips against the back of her knee, kissing it better, his warm, strong hand holding her leg up steadily. That night, they had battled against each other in a hunt to find ticklish spots, and had eventually collapsed against one another, laughing until their stomachs hurt.
Tonks brought herself back to the room, and broke the kiss. She longed for those old days, when they could be happy together, without complications. When Remus was a little younger and a little less weary. She leaned her forehead against his, hoping that she could convey how much she loved and needed him. She could feel his breath hot against her face and closed her eyes, savouring how surrendered he was tonight. Perhaps his resolve had been weakened by his ordeal; she knew he could be entirely unresponsible if he chose as such.
"What did they do to you, Remus?" she asked, framing his face in her hands. "Tell me. Let me in; let me help you."
"I would prefer to forget," he told her firmly, trying to recapture her mouth.
"But you can't forget. You never will, will you? Just tell me, and I can help," Tonks pleaded. A part of her wanted to know his ordeal so that she could be just that little closer to him; to enter his mind and be a part of the healing process.
"No, I won't."
And that was that; his mouth was firmly closed and he matched her stare, his eyes wild and lost. Tonks felt shame well inside her; she was trying to force a story out of him for her own peace of mind. She was selfish and Remus deserved to be looked after. She bit her lip.
"I'm sorry I hit you," she choked out, her face reddening.
He looked at her incredulously for a moment, and then let out a burst of what sounded like genuine laughter, his eyes creasing gently, and pressed his lips firmly against her temple, hands stroking up and down her back. Small chuckles shook his body and she savoured them, relieved as she felt his body shake with something that wasn't anguish.
"You are ridiculous," he smiled, rubbing his nose against hers.
This time when he kissed her, it was soft, and Tonks suspected that it was simply because he wanted to. It wasn't to shut her up or placate her, and this sent a rush through her body. His mouth was on hers for the simple reason that he wanted it to be. He didn't need to gain solace through it; it was just an act of affection and an expression of – dare she suggest – love?
She had had a dream two weeks ago; a dream where he was dead. His body lay cold and unmoving on a bed of brown dirt and broken twigs. She had knelt by his body, cold and numb and unfeeling, unresponsive, and had asked herself why the grief hadn't taken over. The duration of the dream had been spent trying to punish herself for not crying at his death, and when she had finally awoken, she had decided that she would stop trying to move on from him, and had let the love reclaim her that morning as she had eaten her breakfast. The love for him had rushed back through her as though she had opened floodgates; water was pulsing through her and around her, drowning her from both inside and out. She had sipped her tea and had tried in vain to settle her stomach, which heaved every time her mind flashed back to the image of Remus lying cold on the frozen earth.
What had surprised her for the past few months – what had been her greatest worry – was her preoccupation with the idea of Remus being cold. She would lie in bed at night and think of nothing but how he must be freezing, lying in a cave somewhere with nothing but his clothes for warmth. When the snow had fallen heavily during December and January, she had cried for him, imagining the flakes landing heavily on his sandy-grey hair and soaking him through, sitting on his eyelashes as he wrapped his arms around himself and hid his face. Whenever this though came to her, she would kick her warm bedcovers off, even on the coldest of nights, reasoning that they would be cold together. As the wracking shivers gave way to sleep, she had dreamt mostly of the Christmas they had spent hidden away from the cold together in Cornwall. It didn't seem right to be warm when he couldn't share it.
Now, she clung to the warmth of his lips against hers.
He was home, wherever that was. Remus had come back to her, and though she knew it may well be only for one night, Tonks let herself be swept away. The warmth had returned, strong if temporary. The ugly room which she had found herself in for the past few months suddenly seemed as much of a haven as the cottage had been, an age ago.
She tugged the bedclothes from under them awkwardly and, ignoring his raised eyebrow, wrapped them firmly around him shoulders.
They had tonight.