Disclaimer: Let me check ... nope, still not JK Rowling. Darn.
Author's Note: Just a short little one-shot of one of several ways I think the Tonks-depressed-over-Lupin storyline could have gone. Set during Christmas of HBP. If you're a fan of the Lupin/Tonks relationship, you probably won't like this. Rated T for implications just to be careful.
What Remus Expected
"You know you love me, Remus."
"You deserve better than me."
"But I want you."
"I have a job."
"Well once a month, I am, too. Besides, I'm an Auror. I get my kicks from danger."
"Do you take anything seriously?"
"This isn't going to happen. You need to move on."
"I'm not going anywhere, Remus Lupin. You'll come around one day, and I'll be here when you do."
Remus sighed. Deep down inside, where he kept things he admitted only to himself and no one else, he knew he loved her. How could he not? She was young and beautiful and smart and absolutely irrepressible. And for some reason, she had stubbornly decided to love him. Her persistence tugged at his heart, for in his core all Remus wanted was to be accepted. For all those reasons he loved her, she deserved so much more than he could give her, and he pushed her away. Between her work and the Order and her clumsiness (which he found endearing), her life was hard enough. He would not condemn her to years of judgment and hardship, something he knew all too well.
Despite her vow during their last conversation, Remus hoped she would finally give up. He had thought that spending the last three months at Hogwarts, away from him, would have helped her get over him. Busy enough himself, he hadn't written her once. But then she had shown up, unannounced and unexpected, to Christmas dinner at the Burrow. The Weasleys and Harry were all pleasantly surprised, exclaiming over her presence and showering her with hugs. Simultaneously happy and regretful, Remus assumed that by showing up when she knew he'd be there, she had moved on. But all it took was one look at her mousy brown hair and the fact that she completely ignored him, sitting between Ron and Harry and talking to them the entire time, and he knew she was still depressed. He hated it.
"Have you seen Tonks, Remus?" Molly interrupted his musings. He looked up from the chair he occupied next to the fire. They had all drifted after dinner, most of them ending up in the sitting room.
He shook his head. "No, I haven't. I thought she was talking to Bill and Fleur."
Molly grimaced at the mention of her future daughter-in-law and glanced towards the couple. "She was, but she disappeared upstairs about ten minutes ago, and I haven't seen her since."
Remus frowned. "Perhaps she's just ..." He trailed off; what could she be doing? He hoped she wasn't crying in a bathroom.
"Would you go look for her, please? I hope she's alright." Molly fixed him with a look, and he glanced away guiltily. He knew Tonks had confided in Molly over the summer, and the woman was squarely on her side. She never missed an opportunity to remind Remus of this.
He rose reluctantly. "Sure, Molly." Actually, he had no desire to find Tonks. She was probably waiting to get him alone before she launched another appeal. But Remus was stuck between a rock and a hard place; it was either a lecture from Molly or a half-plea, half-demand from Tonks.
He started up the stairs. He slowly made his way up to the attic, checking each bedroom and bathroom. They were all open except for the room Harry slept in, but there was no reason for her to be in there, so he ignored it. When he reached the top, he frowned. He hadn't seen or heard any sign of Tonks. Perhaps she had slipped out unnoticed, but it was unlike her not to say goodbye to Molly at least.
Remus headed downstairs again, wondering where she could be. As he stepped past Harry's room on the second floor, he heard a girlish giggle. He stopped, turning to look at the door. What would she be doing in there? He was fairly certain Harry was with Ron and Ginny. He heard another giggle. Surely she wasn't drinking. She had joined Remus and Sirius for drinks a few times last year, but she never seemed the type to overindulge. And definitely not the type to sneak a bottle into a random bedroom at someone else's house. Then he heard a low moan, and Remus was both embarrassed and curious. He ought to go back downstairs and claim he couldn't find her, but he knew Molly would start searching the house. Better to interrupt Tonks in whatever she was doing now before Molly started opening doors, or Harry returned to his room.
"Tonks?" he said, lightly knocking on the door. Whispers, more giggles, and the rustle of bedclothes filtered out.
"Hold on!" she called, muffled. The door opened a crack and Remus stared.
"Oh, it's you," Tonks said in a tone of surprise. She was hiding behind the door, only her head peeking out. Unlike earlier, her hair was the brightest shade of bubblegum pink and quite messy.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but you should know Molly is looking for you," he said, avoiding her eyes.
"Is she?" Tonks said, obviously barely suppressing another giggle. What in the world had gotten into her? Then she stumbled, the leaning around the door apparently too much for her lack of balance, and Remus froze as her whole body came into view.
She wore an Oxford shirt that looked familiar but was most definitely not what she had worn earlier. It was too big and seemed to have been buttoned up in a hurry. The gap left by the uneven buttons showed the barest swell of a breast, and Remus swallowed. His eyes flicked downwards and he wished they hadn't, for where the shirt ended he could make out bright green knickers and nothing else.
"If it's Ron, he already knows about ... us ..." The other voice trailed off as a dark, very messy head appeared behind Tonks, and Remus was stunned to find himself looking into the green eyes of Harry. Harry that wore nothing but boxers. Harry who slid his arms around Tonks's waist in a very familiar, intimate manner. And then Remus remembered whose Oxford shirt Tonks wore.
"Oh, I'm sorry ... I just ..." Remus stammered.
"Well, Remus, you didn't think I'd wait around for you forever?" Tonks asked with a smile.
Remus stood on the landing, shocked and feeling like a fool. For the first time, he realized that that was, actually, sort of what he'd expected. And he definitely hadn't expected her to move on like this. He searched for something to say but could only think of one thing.
"You might want to try a Silencing Spell."
Author's Note: I've marked this as complete, but if I get more ideas or suggestions, I might turn it into a series of how Tonks moves on & Remus finds out in a funny way. Or how others find out.