"I found God on the corner of first and Amistad,
Where the west was all but won,
All alone, smoking his last cigarette,
I said, 'Where you been?' and He said, 'Ask anything.'"
-You Found Me, The Fray
Nymphadora had always thought that Remus was a mystery.
She had always been obsessed by mysteries. As a child, she had begged, borrowed and stolen her father's Famous Five books, and read them with avid enthrallment, unable to put them down, always wanting to know why, how. George had been her favourite character by far, bold and headstrong, and overnight, Nymphadora lost her long, elegant curls and her coy looks, and gained short, cropped hair along with a stubborn attitude that bordered on pig-headedness.
"Tonks!" she'd insisted, "Not Nymphadora. It's Tonks!"
"Don't be ridiculous," Mum had told her, frowning, "Eat your broccoli."
Nymphadora had sighed and moaned, and from that moment on, she had told everyone she'd met, "My name is Tonks," despite Mum's frowns and Dad's awkward laughs.
"I wish you wouldn't tell people that, Dora," Dad had whispered one night as he'd tucked her into bed, "You have such a pretty name."
She'd almost, almost, felt guilty.
"Tonks," she'd introduced herself simply, and shook hands with these people, this Order of the Phoenix, "Auror."
"Hello, I'm Remus," he'd said, not smiling with his mouth, but somehow, she could see it in his eyes, "Werewolf."
Nymphadora felt as if she were frozen.
Werewolf? she'd wanted to scream, werewolf!
Her first instinct had been to grab for her wand, a hex on the tip of her tongue – werewolf – but his relaxed posture and his eye-smiles stayed her hand somehow. Why? she wondered, how? How can he be here, surely it shouldn't be -
He must have seen the confusion and doubt in her eyes, because suddenly, he broke into a grin that lit up his whole face. It made him look ten years younger. A mystery, Tonks thought, this man is a mystery.
She was enthralled.
She wanted to take him apart, examine him piece by piece, to find out what made him work and what made him tick. She wanted to know where the scars came from – although her imagination wasted no time on picturing how and where he had acquired them. She wanted to know about his past, about what had made him who we was today, how he had managed to grow up in the wizarding world rather than becoming a social outcast. She wanted to know how he could smile with his eyes whilst his mouth remained neutral, and why sometimes, when he did smile with his mouth, his eyes were so, so sad.
Frequently, he almost broke her heart.
During the meetings, she couldn't keep her eyes off of him. She mentally berated herself, telling herself it was lame and clichéd, and that she expected better of herself. It didn't stop her eyes from sliding over him, taking in his cheekbones, his jaw, the liquid amber of his eyes, the curve of his mouth.
Once, he glanced over at her as she was idly staring at him, and their eyes collided. His mouth didn't twitch, but his eyes shined.
When they met in the drawing room of Grimmauld Place that evening, she didn't protest when he pressed her against the wall, and his mouth found hers. She felt giddy and ecstatic and triumphant. It was like solving the first clue, the first step to unravelling the mystery. She could feel his heart beating against her chest.
I love you, she thought. I love you, I don't know you, but damn it, I love you.
Remus had always thought that Nymphadora was an adventure.
Remus had always wanted an adventure. As a child he read whatever he could get his hands on, and was never in short supply of books – for his Muggle grandparents, books were the only part of him they could understand, the only part of a child so emerged in another world that they could relate to. Remus grew up on The Coral Island with Ralph and Jack and Peterkin, and dreamt of blue ocean and sunshine and sand between his toes. It wasn't uncommon for him to sit in the corner and read all day; he shied away from other children. He was always terrified of hurting them.
Remus thought going to Hogwarts was the best adventure ever – not only was it new and exciting, and bordering on forbidden and dangerous (for him at least) – but it meant friends. Real friends who liked him and wanted to be with him and they had adventures, and it was wonderful and perfect and like a dream. Even when Dumbledore made him prefect, Remus didn't have the heart to say no to them.
Remus often had trouble saying 'no'.
"Tonks. Auror," the girl had introduced herself. She had a heart-shaped face and cropped pink hair. Wow, Remus felt himself think, wow. It was like an adventure, and it almost took his breath away. Remus had dreamt of being an Auror for as long as he'd known what an Auror was, although Ministry positions were off-limits to werewolves. His eyes had shone, and she had looked at him with a mixture of calculation and fascination.
How interesting, Remus thought, and he couldn't help but grin.
Sirius pulled him aside later, and told him bluntly, "She's my cousin," in a voice that meant, Look But Don't Touch, Lupin. It didn't stop him from kissing her in the drawing room when no-one was around. She tasted like light and freedom and open doors that were normally closed to Remus. When he pulled away, she touched him lightly on the cheek with one hand, and her eyes glittered in the half-light.
Before he knew it, she had begun to run through his mind at night, Nymphadora Nymphadora Nymphadora, and when he slept his dreams were filled with eyes that could change their colour and shape but were still hers. They flashed green and grey and blue and hazel and her hair was always blonde or red or purple or pink. Nymphadora, he thought, and it sounded like the echo of adventures.
Remus knew that adventures were dangerous, and especially for people who weren't the hero – somehow, the protagonist always made it through just about unscathed, but it was the people who surrounded them who needed to be careful. Not that Remus ever thought of himself at the hero – James had always been better suited for heroism, or Sirius, or even Harry, despite the fact that he was so young.
Remus sees Nymphadora sheltering from the rain in a doorway in Diagon Alley, and offers to escort her under his umbrella. She laughs and bats her eyelids and links her arm though his.
"Remus, my hero!" she declares, and tiptoes to brush her lips against his cheek.
They walk briskly through Diagon Alley in the pouring rain, huddled together under an umbrella that is not really big enough for two people, and Remus' heart begins to beat in that irrational way that he's come to associate with the words, 'I love you'. It seems like the biggest adventure yet.