"You see!" said a strained voice. Tonks was glaring at Lupin. "She still wants to marry him, even though he's been bitten! She doesn't care!"It's different," said Lupin, barely moving his lips and looking suddenly tense. "Bill will not be a full werewolf. The cases are completely -""But I don't care either, I don't care!" said Tonks, seizing the front of Lupin's robes and shaking them. "I've told you a million times. . . ."And the meaning of Tonks's Patronus and her mouse-colored hair, and the reason she had come running to find Dumbledore when she had heard a rumor someone had been attacked by Greyback, all suddenly became clear to Harry; it had not been Sinus that Tonks had fallen in love with after all."And I've told you a million times," said Lupin, refusing to meet her eyes, staring at the floor, "that I am too old for you, too poor . . . too dangerous. . . .""I've said all along you're taking a ridiculous line on this, Remus," said Mrs. Weasley over Fleur's shoulder as she patted her on the back."I am not being ridiculous," said Lupin steadily. "Tonks deserves somebody young and whole.""But she wants you," said Mr. Weasley, with a small smile. "And after all, Remus, young and whole men do not necessarily remain so."He gestured sadly at his son, lying between them."This is... not the moment to discuss it," said Lupin, avoiding everybody's eyes as he looked around distractedly. "Dumbledore is dead. ...""Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think that there was a little more love in the world," said Professor McGonagall curtly…
Tonks stormed towards the door as Hagrid burst in, his face mottled and stricken. A momentary pang of sympathy came over her as she saw the giant's tears, but her anger quickly rushed over that, and she continued on her way out of the Ward.
She strode down the halls that she used to frequent in her youth, nostalgia pressing against the sides of her mind not consumed with her fury. Though her eyes were blurry with tears, Tonks could almost see the image of her former self, laughing flirtatiously with whichever boy she had found useful or attractive that particular week. Angrily, she shook her head. She had been so stupid, ignorant of love, though she had played its game with all the skill of a seasoned lover. She would trade all those silly romps for just one real moment with the one she loved.
As Tonks reached the main entrance, her tears began to flow in earnest. She leaned against the door and let the sobs overwhelm her. She wrapped her arms around herself, trying to keep her pain in. Pain… Pain was part of an Auror's job. But not this kind of pain. This was strange and unwelcome, a mixture of sadness, fear, anger and longing. The last one was what hurt Tonks the most. The only man she had ever wanted, and the only man who was able to resist her…
"Remus…" she whispered, just because his name in her mouth seemed right.
Tonks started at her name, reaching for her wand. As she looked towards the voice, she recognized the speaker. Remus John Lupin. The man who had put her in this much pain, come to inflict more? She lowered her hand, and leaned back against the door. Her mouth settled into what had become her customary frown. She breathed in, and caught a small trace of his cologne, which made her heart pound.
Tonks closed her eyes. "What do you want?" She heard his feet shuffle a little closer. She crossed her arms tightly, resisting the urge to touch him. She couldn't… She shouldn't.
Lupin heaved a sigh. The sadness in that noise hurt Tonks, but somehow gave her hope. Maybe, just maybe, he was fighting feelings more complicated than she knew. "I wanted to talk to you about this." He sighed another time. "Again" he added.
"I think you've made yourself very clear, Remus."
"Apparently not," Lupin mumbled, but Tonks heard something strange in his voice. She opened her eyes; to her surprise, a small smile had made its way on to his scarred face. She raised an eyebrow at him, and he spread his palms before him in answer. "Your stubbornness is more endearing than you think, Dora."
"Not endearing enough," Tonks breathed as she turned away.
A finger under her chin made her turn her face back to Lupin. Their eyes locked, his yellow irises holding her gaze. He was so close to her… Her body ached with sheer desire. She averted her gaze, and he dropped his hand. "Don't say that, Dora."
Anger flared up in Tonks's chest. "Don't. Call. Me. Dora." Her scalp tingled, a sure sign that her hair had changed with her mood. Sure enough, Lupin looked at her hair and smiled.
"I rather like that color, Dora." Tonks narrowed her eyes. Lupin sighed another time, and passed a hand over his face. His fingers lingered slightly over his scar, and Tonks felt the urge to be the one stroking those glorious marks. She returned a sigh, and looked down to the ground.
"Go ahead and make your case, Remus." she muttered.
Lupin cleared his throat as though he was about to begin an important lesson on Defense. "I'm too old…" Tonks shook her head. Ignoring her as usual, Lupin continued, "…too poor—"
"And too dangerous?" Tonks added sarcastically. She stepped out directly in front of Lupin. "Danger's part of my job, Remus." It was Lupin's turn to shake his head, but Tonks held up her hand to silence his argument. "I know, I know. 'Not this kind of danger, Dora.'" Her impersonation was wildly unrealistic, but it got the job done. Lupin stopped and looked at her hopefully, as though maybe she had listened to him...
"But what's romance without a little danger?" she said with a half smile.
"Dora, it's not a joke."
"Do you think I don't know that? Do you think I enjoy the possibility of being mauled to death if one thing goes wrong?" Her fury was overflowing, making her scalp tingle. For once, Lupin didn't look at the changing hair… he kept his eyes locked on hers. The intensity of his gaze seemed to drain her energy, to remove her anger. She closed her eyes, tears forming against her will. "Believe me, Remus, I didn't choose to feel this way." She whispered as she sank to the ground.
Lupin watched her as she sat, her robes pooling around her, as black as her hair was turning. "Love is not something you can choose, Dora," he muttered, crouching down next to her. She kept her hands up in front of her face like a pouting child. "I would know," he added under his breath.
Tonks's hair was now almost to her shoulders, the length adding to her shelter inside her palms. She felt the tips brush against her fingers, and she twisted a strand around them, a desperate laugh rising to her lips. Lupin looked at her questioningly, and she raised her head slightly.
"I'm like a bloody chameleon." She looked at her black locks sadly. "Change incarnate."
She looked up at Lupin, startling him with her fierce eyes, now as ice blue as a pool of her tears. "But when I see you… I want to stay the same. I want forever when I see you."
Lupin sighed sorrowfully and hung his head. "I can't promise you forever, Dora."
Tonks leaned forward until her face was under his. "I know." She leaned up, hoping that this once he would let her… But no, he pulled away, his expression wary.
Tonks settled back, keeping her eyes locked with his. "I can't promise either." She squinted slightly, making her stare more intense. "All I can promise is that I love you now, I want you now." Her eyes closed again as Lupin blinked at her. "Remus, I've never felt this way before."
Lupin shivered slightly and moved to her side. "I know, Dora… You have to understand… I'm not enough for you." He closed his eyes, seeming desperately close to tears. "Not good enough by far. I wish I could give you what you need."
She turned her face towards him, biting her lip thoughtfully. Tonks stared at him for a moment, clearly weighing options. She oriented herself so she was sitting in front of him, her head leaning on his knees. She heard his breath catch, maybe as excited by the nearness as she was.
"Then Remus… Give me what I want."
These words surprised him, and his eyes snapped open. "Dora, it's not…"
She put a finger on his lips. "It's what I want. What I need now."
Tonks leaned in, and for the first time in what seemed like years, Lupin relented. Their kiss seemed as fleeting yet eternal as time. Their lips met, first as dry and worn as autumn leaves. As fears melted away, Lupin pulled her closer, and she warmed in his arms like the summer sun. Her tongue met his, as sudden and excitingly beautiful as spring flowers. Finally the winter air came as both breathed in, thrilled and frightened by the turn of events. They pulled away and locked eyes.
"Remus…" Tonks breathed pleadingly.
"Dora… I…" Lupin stuttered, trying to compose himself.
"I love you, Remus."
Lupin closed out the world for a moment, his expression looked almost pained. Tonks reached out a hand as if to touch him and soothe away the hurt, but then pulled back. Lupin's eyes slowly opened, and he looked at her. She held her breath, unsure.
"I love you, too," he whispered.
A tingle started in Tonks's scalp as an overwhelming sense of relief flooded through her. Lupin stretched out his arms, and she threw herself into them, feeling as though she were embracing her destiny. They sat there entwined for what seemed like hours.
Lupin kissed her hair; finally back to its lovely shade of bubblegum pink. "We should go, Dora," he muttered into her head. He helped her up, and held her in his arms for a few more moments. Tonks turned her face towards him again, wanting another kiss. He smiled as they kissed, one almost as momentous as their first.
She sighed contentedly as they took hands and began heading down the hall. She knew that Lupin by her side was what she wanted, and what she needed, from now until eternity.