Author's Note: This one came to me just as I was going to sleep last night and I decided to actually work with this one (honestly, I cannot ever begin to count the number of stories that I choose not to even try; it's a shame, really). I got this first chapter typed up and it was relatively short. I can't promise longer chapters in the future because I'm pulling a lot of this out of the air and just making it up as I go (I assume most people do the same...perhaps, 'hope' would be better than 'assume' there, you know what they say about assuming), but I'll do my best.
Wasn't really thinking on a timeline when I came up with this (mostly due to the fact that it was almost 3 in the morning and I'd like to see you thinking complex thoughts in the waning moments wake), but if I were having to say (based on Sirius being alive, the implication of the functioning Order, and the state of Remus and Tonks's relationship) I would say that this takes place sometime during Order of the Phoenix.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of this and any statement otherwise is a horribly misguided attempt at a joke. It's really best that you just laugh a bit and go back to ignoring me. That's really the only way to get rid of me.
When you think you've had too much of this life to hang on/ Well, everybody hurts sometimes/ Everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes.
-Everybody Hurts R.E.M.
All alone at the kitchen table of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, Sirius Black sat staring at the flickering flame of a candle about a meter in front of him. He reached across and pulled the candle by it's holder until it sat directly in front of him. His gray eyes reflected the quivering light and he ran his hand inches above the flame so that he could feel the heat radiating from it and the air moving made the flame dance a little more erratically. He had always been entranced with fire.
He slowly moved a finger closer to the flame, closer and closer until the heat became too much to stand and he jerked his hand back.
A knock on the doorframe broke him from his trance and he looked up to see his younger cousin standing in the kitchen doorway.
"Is it just you here tonight, Sirius?" she asked.
He raised up and offered her a wide smile, "'Fraid so, Nymphadora."
Her eyes flashed dangerously, but before she could get off her signature threat, he spoke, "I know, I know. Don't call you 'Nymphadora'."
She smirked at him as she sat down at the table, "So, where is everyone?"
"Well, there wasn't a meeting tonight, so no one had any reason to stop by," he shrugged, summoning a bottle of firewhiskey and two glasses.
"And Remus? I thought he lived here," she questioned.
Sirius nodded as he poured himself a glass, then offered her the second. She nodded and he filled it and slid it across the table to her. He took a long pull of the alcohol before answering, "He lives here, but I haven't seen Moony all day."
She glanced toward the window and, before she could ask, Sirius stated, "First quarter. I already thought of that."
Tonks nodded and returned her gaze to the table and took a tentative sip of firewhiskey, "Don't think something's happened to him, do you?"
Sirius let a barking laugh, "Tonks, he's a full grown man and a hell of a wizard. I'm sure he can take care of himself probably better than most of us. I'm sure he's fine."
"Does he go off on his own often? Other than for the full moon, I mean."
"Why the sudden interest in Moony, my dear Nymphadora?" Sirius teased, raising his eyebrows conspiratorially.
Morphing away a blush as soon as she felt it rise and taking a deep drink of liquid courage, Tonks stated, "I'm looking out for myself, Sirius. Lupin's my partner and I'm buggered if something happens to him."
However, Sirius had spotted her blush and called her bluff, "You fancy him, don't you? Oh, Nymphadora!" he laughed, "Who'd have believed? Nymphadora's fallen for old Moony!"
With the speed of an Old West gunslinger, Tonks drew her wand and fired sparks just to the left of Sirius's face. He stopped laughing and paled.
"Next time it'll be your face if you keep it up, Black," she growled.
He twirled his own wand between his fingers and grinned a Marauders' grin, "That so, Nymphadora?"
She raised her eyebrows threateningly, "It is."
He gave another bark of laughter and returned his wand to his pocket, "I may not look it, but I'm smart enough to know not to mess with an auror. Especially not one with Black blood."
Tonks put her wand down, as well, "Wise decision, Sirius."
He smiled and held the bottle out to her, "Another glass, cousin?"
She looked down at her own empty glass and slid it over to Sirius, "If you would."
"But of course!" he said jovially as he refilled her glass and returned it to her.
Hours passed until the clock chimed at ten.
"Was that?" Sirius slurred.
"Clock," Tonks returned just as sloppily.
"Oh," he said, pausing for a moment as if trying to remember the function of a clock, "And what time is it?"
"A.M. or p.m.?"
She took a deep breath, "P.M.. Definitely, p.m.."
"I should be leaving," she said, rising to her feet and wobbling for a moment before falling back into her chair.
"Like hell you are!" Sirius exclaimed, "Kind of person would I be if I sent my favorite cousin out completely arseholed?"
"'m not completely drunk, Sirius," she argued.
"Drunk enough to splinch," he countered.
She was silent. He knew he had won and continued, "You're staying here tonight."
She raised her eyebrows, "Where do you presume I'm going to stay. 've seen these rooms. Like hell am I sleeping with boggarts and doxies and whatever the hell else you keep around here."
"How's a hippogriff sound?" he teased.
She shot him a look and he faltered, "Take Moony's room. Merlin knows he keeps it more than clean enough and it doesn't look like he'll be coming back any time soon," he laughed.
"What?" she questioned.
"Sending you to Moony's bed. Probably be the first time a girl's been in Moony's bed...Any of Moony's beds."
She rolled her eyes and he helped her up the stairs to Remus's room where she flopped down on his bed. He extinguished the candle and shut the door before proceeding on to his own room.
Hours later the door to Remus's room swung open and the man in question stumbled through and fell onto his own bed. He felt a body next to him.
On any other occasion, he would have jumped from the bed and demanded to know who was in his room and why they were there, but this was not one of those occasions.
Instead, Remus reached out for this body and clung to it. He pressed the side of his face into the body's warm belly and curled up against its side. He held on with all of his strength and then he began to cry.
The noise awoke the body with a start. Tonks raised her head as best she could without alarming the person holding her.
What she saw caused a flurry of emotions within her. Remus was clinging to her body, crying, looking very broken.
Nervously, she reached down and put a hand on his back. She expected him to be surprised at her movement, but he was not. He continued to sob into her shirt. She moved the hand up to run through his short, disheveled, blond hair and spoke, "Remus?"
He raised his head a bit and twisted so that he could see her face. She looked into his cloudy blue eyes and noted the dark bags beneath them and the red ring around them. He looked completely broken and completely sloshed.
"Remus, what's wrong?"
He did not speak. Rather, he uncurled himself and took her body in his long arms and pressed her tightly to his chest and continued crying.
For a moment, she was completely taken aback by his action, but then she realized that he was most certainly out of his own mind and just needed someone to be there for him tonight. It just so happened that she was the first person he had found. She brought her hands around him and rubbed his back with one and continued running the fingers of the other through his fine hair.
He pressed his cheek against the side of her hair and she felt the scratch of his coarse facial hair as he soundlessly worked his jaw as if he needed to say something, but could not force the words out. Finally, he spoke, almost soundlessly, almost more like a breath than a voice, "I miss them so much."
She was not sure who he meant. He struck her as the type who had lost a great many people. She knew he was in no state to further explain what he meant, so she just tried her hardest to continue comforting him.
His words came again, "I miss them so much, Nymphadora. God, I miss them so much," he whispered into her ear, mustache hairs tickling the shell as he spoke.
She shivered when he said her name. Up until now, she had not thought that he knew who was holding him, but knowing that he knew it was her made this whole situation much more intimate to her for some reason. She pressed his head into her shoulder and clung to him and spoke, "I know you do, Remus, I know you do."
Eventually, he sobbed himself to sleep clinging to her body with all his strength.
A.N.: So, I don't drink (sensitive nose, the smell of alcohol makes me physically ill, quite the handicap/brilliant excuse for a college student) and all that drunk bit was pretty much just based on observation and what the media tells me that drunk people act like. If I was terribly off-base, write me a scathing comment belittling me by telling me that I'm ignorant. That will definitely do the trick. I'll learn my lesson. (Don't really, I'm terribly sensitive. It's best that you either ignore it or do something very passive aggressive. I prefer the first option. Or you could always lie to me and tell me that I've done a bang up job. That works, too.)
Also, if this is your first time reading any of my work (I would like to thank you as well as guide you to my AU RLNT fic that takes place in the U.S. and my rather impressive (size-wise, at least) collection of NCIS fics), you should be warned that I tend to take on the writing style of the book I am currently reading. Unfortunately for any lovers of fluffy, light writing, I'm reading The Late Hector Kipling by [the absolutely amazing actor and downright beautiful man] David Thewlis. It's uses pretty dark, twisted humor and a very...pessimistic, twisted, dark rhetoric. I love it and really hope that I can successfully emulate this style, but I understand that it's not for everyone.
All that aside, I encourage you to favorite, alert, review, or any combination of the three (with special emphasis on reviewing).