Disclaimer: I do not own any characters, places of anything magical... No matter how hard I may wish it. Several parts of this story are taken directly from The Half Blood Prince, as I feel that they are needed for this plotline, and I take no credit whatsoever for these sections.
Remus Lupin didn't believe in good luck – well, other than in the case of the Felix Felicis potion, of course. Maybe it was better to say that he didn't believe in natural good luck. However, Lupin mused, as he stood near the wrought iron gates of Malfoy Manor, he was more than willing to agree that bad luck of his more misfortunate self really did exist.
It was just like him to be roped into something which he really didn't want to be part of – namely the search of Lucius Malfoy's abandoned house, led by Arthur Weasley and the rest of the Ministry's Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects. 'Really,' Lupin thought, as he uncomfortably shifted his weight from one leg to the other, 'could they have come up with a more long-winded name?' Deep down though, Lupin knew he was just sour over the whole situation and felt marginally better about it if he could take a jibe at anything that he thought was over-extravagant and merely pointless. That had always been his way.
He did not see the need for his presence to be necessary for such a task – he had nothing to do with the Ministry and its actions, especially after last summer, but yet, here he was. He could never turn down Arthur when he was asking for help. Even so, he still didn't find that he was doing anything remotely useful. Standing guard was something that was seemingly becoming more frequent in his life – an extremely boring task, but still an entire world away from his parallel mission which Dumbledore had requested from him. He would much rather have been in the deserted grounds of the mansion for a few hours, than running wild with Greyback and his followers. Remus knew that it was not Arthur's need for him that had made him bitter. In fact, it was actually a relief to him, but rather, the thing that was posing problems was situated approximately two metres to his right, on the opposite side of the gravel path. Or rather, the person that was causing his problems.
Since he had apparated into the grounds and spotted her frail figure, Lupin had been trying his utmost best to ignore Nymphadora Tonks. Arthur, as always being oblivious to the tense friction between the pair, had situated them by the main entrance gates, with instructions to patrol the grounds together and to send up warning sparks if there was any disturbances. Lupin knew that it was a pointless activity – He Who Must Not Be Named no longer had any interest in the Malfoys; not since Lupin himself had duelled and defeated Lucius in the Department of Mysteries only a few months prior. For this reason, Lupin did not see why Harry was insisting that the Malfoy boy, Draco, had involvement with the Death Eaters. It was simply Harry's old rivalry streak which the accusation had arisen from – the boy was far too much like his father for his own good. Lupin loved Harry like his own son; he owed James that much, but still couldn't understand why Arthur even bothered to assess the apparent problem. Children had overactive imaginations.
Shuffling slightly, as a bitter winter wind whipped across the thick grass, Lupin allowed himself one quick glance at the huddled frame beside him. He was, however, slightly perturbed to find that she was already looking at him. It was not just this action which had surprised him; her appearance differed so much from the last time he had seen her, which, come to think of it, was when they'd had that extremely uncomfortable conversation, after the night at the Ministry, ending in him lividly shouting at her and running out, like the true coward he was. Her face was thinner and pale – much like his had recently become, and her hair was no longer that bright shade of bubble-gum pink which he had become so fond of. He wanted to kick himself at that last thought. He couldn't, wouldn't, think of her in that way.
Despite the uneasy prickling which rose up the back of his neck, Lupin did not look away. He found it rude to do so. Tonks' dark eyes found his yellow ones and held them, until, unable to bear any more, he tore the gaze apart, staring down at the dark ground. Awkwardly clearing his throat, he made an effort to break the stiff silence, but was still not able to look back at her. "So, did you hear about Stanley Shunpike's arrest?"
Tonks' answer was short and Lupin found himself hating that her bluntness was entirely his own fault; he could not blame her for it at all. "It's all over The Prophet, of course. I dare say that most of it is whimsical nonsense."
"The Ministry is grasping at straws; everyone knows that Stan would never have any relations with the Dark Arts, but they'll never listen."
Lupin slowly nodded in agreement, secretly glad that at least Tonks was speaking more, even if her voice was still icy. When he eventually summoned the courage to look at her once more, he found himself staring at the back of her head. He did deserve it, after all. "And the Abbot murder? Her daughter is in Harry's year, I do believe."
Tonks merely shrugged in response and his heart sank, despite the logical side of his brain which was telling him that it was for the best that she disliked him. It was far better that that other word she'd used once. He almost shuddered at the memory, but not from repulsion at her, mind, more at himself. Eventually, she turned back to face him, scanning his tired and lined face. "I've been told that Dumbledore's been sending you on a private mission of your own?"
"Yes… He wanted a spy amongst my type; to live as one of them. Of course, it's been difficult to gain their trust; I'm very much associated with the normal wizarding types, and most of them are in league with the Dark Lord –"
"But, Remus, how can you say that?" Tonks angrily cut him off and he sighed, knowing very well what was about to come next; precisely what she'd been trying to tell him for a long time, and something that he would never truly believe. "You are normal! You've just got a small problem which only happens once a month, and even that can be prevented!"
Lupin darkly chuckled, his face showing no signs of humour. "That's what James always used to tell me; that I simply had a 'furry, little problem'. A normal person does not hold an immediate threat to those around him."
"And with a little Wolfsbane –"
This time, it was his angry voice which cut over hers. "It cannot withhold the change forever! I was made to maim and kill! People like that are in, no way whatsoever, normal!" Suddenly stopping his rant, he heavily exhaled closed his eyes, pinching the bridge his nose. After what seemed to be a long time, he looked up towards the night sky, where a dark cloud partially covered a moon which was only a few days away from its full phase. Its image reflected in his yellow irises, the pupils momentarily seeming to elongate before he snapped out of it, wildly shaking his head. "You see what it does to me, I'm… I'm a monster. The things I've had to do these past few weeks, with Fenrir, they haunt me, so badly." Lupin broke off, shaking.
Tonks' fiery expression softened as she took a somewhat nervous step towards the man for whom she'd harboured feelings, for so long. "Remus, please, stop seeing yourself like that. You're not like the rest of them, especially Greyback. You care; you don't want to kill, so you don't."
"I… You don't know anything, Nymphadora. You don't know what it's like to live in constant fear that you may murder someone when you've lost all reasoning in your mind, or even worse, to make them like me!"
Once again, a dark scowl crossed her face. "My name is Tonks, not that other preposterous word. I've told you that many times."
"It's not the only thing which you've told me many times and that I've never listened to." Lupin snapped in return.
Angrily, she turned, drawing her wand from her robes at lightning speed, pointing it straight at his throat. Spirit had rekindled in her eyes, even if it were from pure rage. "You're an ass, Remus Lupin! Do you know that?" Lupin wasn't entirely sure whether she would really hurt him or not. It wouldn't surprise him in the slightest if she did so wish to hex him in numerous ways. The only thing he could do was to try and regulate his uneven breathing as the dullness gradually reappeared in her face, the fury disappearing as fast as it had appeared. Her eyes darted down to his parted mouth as she raised the tip of her wand to it, whispering "Episkey."
He felt his mouth turn hot, then very cold before he ran his tongue around the backs of his teeth. Instead of the once-bloody gap, Lupin found a new canine, long and pointed at is usually became around that time. Greyback had knocked the old one out only a few days prior during a fight, when Lupin had challenged his alpha dominating status. He was not one to instigate violence, but he had become tiresome of the juvenile and animalistic pack pride. Later, he had realised that he was lucky to only come away with what he did. When Lupin eventually spoke again, his voice was quiet in the night. "Smoother, sharper than the old one… Not as used."
Tonks' face contorted with obvious outrage; he had seemed to taken it upon himself to infuriate her that night. "What the hell is wrong with you? Do find it sadistically funny to do this is me, or..." She trailed off, her brow furrowing as she stepped back from him, looking across the lawn. "Or has it suddenly become rather cold out?"
Remus turned to follow her line of vision, drawing his wand out from his threadbare overcoat, muttering "Lumos." He, too, had felt the sudden chills spread up his spine. His clothes, more tattered and patched than ever before, gave him little physical warmth against the fog-like mist that was creeping in wisps across to the pair. An icy fist clenched around Lupin's throat as he saw it lurking at the gates. The tall creature, covered with the tattered black robes of a dementor, raised a skeletal hand as it began to glide towards them, drawn by the prospects of euphoria and contentment. Instantly reacting, Lupin grabbed hold of Tonks' upper arm, forcing her behind him as he raised his wand. He focused on that one moment, many months ago, that the woman he was still gripping onto had murmured those words which had caused such great immediate feelings, but later ones of despair, the latter being ignored for now.
It was not meant to be, however, for Tonks did not take kindly to the sudden bout of physical contact and forcefully pushed him to the side, casting the spell herself. "Expecto Patronum!" As soon as she had shouted the words, a large ball of silver burst from the end of her wand, taking form into a four-legged creature of great power, which raced towards the dementor so quickly, that Lupin only saw a glimpse of it as it chased the enemy into the forest lurking behind the gates. He could have sworn that it was not the same as the one he had last seen Tonks' cast; it was surely larger, more like –
He cut himself off from that train of thought – such an idea was quite absurd. Coming back to his senses, he pointedly looked away from her, towards the house, and raised his wand into the air. "Periculum." The red sparks shot into the air like fireworks, making an alerting cracking noise to the Ministry workers.
It wasn't long before Arthur was beside them, his eyes scanning the quiet grounds in a wild, nervous manner. "What happened?"
"Dementor, just one. Probably a rogue; came here simply by chance, but it's best not to take the risk." Lupin shot a look over to where Tonks was still staring towards the gates, following the path which her changed patronus had taken.
"Of course, of course." Arthur mumbled, running a hand through his thinning red hair, looking fairly harassed. "The search has proved to be pointless, as we presumed. I thought it would be best to still have checked it out, though."
"One can never be too cautious in these times." He replied. "It would be a good idea to all be on our way, don't you think?"
"I do agree. The sooner we're back off to the Ministry, the better… Goodbye, Remus, Tonks. Thank you for your services tonight."
Lupin murmured his parting in response and the Weasley turned tightly on the spot, apparating with a quite 'pop'. Again alone with Tonks, he turned back to her, meeting her ignorant expression and opened mouth. "Why did you do that?"
"Feel the need to protect me, Remus!"
He haughtily crossed his arms over his chest. "I've simply become accustomed to it; you should think no more of it."
"I don't believe you."
At first, Lupin was sure than his ears were deceiving him – maybe Tonks had non-verbally hexed his hearing earlier, but after a few initial seconds, he understood what she truly meant. Raising an eyebrow, he loathed himself as he spoke in a low, cool voice. "Do not think such pitiful things as true; you'll only end up being hurt, like a jilted child."
"I'm not a child!" She furiously stamped her foot upon the frozen ground.
"You might as well be. Let me say this to you, Nymphadora, loud and clear." Lupin paused for a moment, forcing himself to look her straight in her dark eyes, and say the words which were the complete opposite of what he really wanted to reveal. "I do not love you."
He felt sick as he saw the pain and hatred towards him enter her normally soft features. "Do not call me that!" Her heavy breathing matched his own, as she stepped smartly forwards to look up at him, jabbing him in his chest. "Let me say this to you, Lupin, loud and clear. I hate you. You're an obnoxious, selfish bastard who refuses to admit his own feelings!" With one final look of contempt, Tonks took a step back and began to turn for her own apparition. "Goodbye Remus. I hope to never see you again."
And with that, she disappeared, leaving Lupin completely alone. A strangled howl twisted its way up his throat and he turbulently tugged at the greying hair at his temples, wishing that everything would just be simple for once, in his Merlin-forsaken life. Trying to control his inner beast, which so powerfully wanted to burst out, Lupin stood still, staring at the spot that the only women he'd ever truly wanted had occupied only a few moments earlier. He heavily closed his eyes, just managing to whisper. "Goodbye… Tonks."