Shades of Sepia

AN: I love Teddy dearly but he's a silly goose and uploaded the wrong version of this story. Here's the version you were meant to have. I'm actually rather glad I still had this.

As he said: Basically, it's what we thought would have happened that Christmas, during Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I wrote Remus, she wrote Tonks, but I gather you know that.

Please enjoy, and remember to review!

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Tonks was moping. It was Christmas, which was usually her favourite time of the year but here she was stuck in her flat, hair the colour of crap to go along with the rest of her life, all alone. She'd volunteered for extra duty but it had been denied, probably Kingsley's doing... she glared at the absent man, or would have if she could muster up enough energy. Work distracted her, gave her a sense of purpose and above all stopped her from thinking. But the ruddy man had probably mentioned that she'd been looking "exhausted" and "ill" lately so her higher-ups, in an unusual display of thoughtfulness had denied her request for the extra work.

She cursed and threw her mug half-heartedly at the wall. It dropped to the carpet and rolled, not breaking with the satisfying smash she'd been hoping for. Bloody stupid thing. She needed to do something, anything to not think about him. Oh shite. She bit her lip hard, but that did nothing to stop the flood of memories and, burying her face into her arms which were folded on the table top, she sobbed harshly.

x

Having had enough of Molly Weasley's stern glances for one night - and even worse, the look of disappointment - Remus Lupin left the Burrow, being sure to say goodbye to Harry. Merlin's beard, the boy reminded him so much of James, more so every time he saw the teenager. But he was also reminded of Lily, and the grief he felt had begun to surge in his chest again. He'd thought he'd gotten through the grief stage, only to the stage where he could look upon them with fond memories. But when he thought of Sirius...

A tear came to his eye, and he wiped it away angrily as he found his way to the Apparition point. And Harry had asked him about Tonks' Patronus...that was another thing. Of course he knew why it had changed. He hadn't exactly lied, but now Harry was probably sitting in there, alone, thinking about some possible way that he had caused it, that he was the reason for everything...

When, in reality, it was Remus's fault that Tonks' Patronus had changed. It was indeed a big, four-legged animal, but it wasn't Sirius's grim-like figure, and it was no longer a chameleon as before. No, it was him. It was Remus himself, his werewolf form.

I need to see her, he realised, though he knew he should stay away. It's Christmas, I've got to at least try to explain that I still love her...even if I can't be with her...

And so he Disapparated with a sharp crack, materialising at Nymphadora Tonks' front door. He knocked lightly. Maybe she wouldn't answer; maybe he should leave before she got the chance to see him...

x

Tonks' head snapped up and she stared at the door as if it had suddenly become alive. No-one visited her these days. Not Jerry, not her mother or father, neither Tom nor Julia knocked on the door. Jan occasionally came over with chocolate and sympathy but she generally Flooed... so that meant... no... He wouldn't do that to her... would he?

Getting up, her face still swollen and tear-stained, she was too tired to bother with a Complexion Charm and morphing was definitely out. She shuffled to the door, feeling a whole lot older then her 23 years. "Whoever you are better have a bloody good reason for showing up at..." She couldn't be bothered to check the time. "Whatever o'clock."

Maybe it was a Death Eater come to kill her. She didn't have a clue how they would have found her flat but... "If you're here to kill me, please do it quickly." Her voice is flat and devoid of any emotion.

x

The door had opened, only slightly, and Remus felt his heart speeding up. Merlin's beard, he shouldn't have come. He shouldn't have thought to come, he should Apparate away, have a few drinks, pass out, and not remember this night. Not remember anything, not even the pain he'd caused her.

But no, he needed...he needed this. And somewhere inside him, they both did. It would be hard, yes, for the both of them...it would hurt at first, and it would probably mean enduring a few punches in the face, in the chest, and even (though hopefully not) a kick to the groin. He wouldn't put it past Tonks.

As he saw her face peer into the crack in the door, Remus caught a glimpse of her. Brown hair, red eyes...she'd been crying, and she couldn't morph. This was all his fault. Everything was all his fault...

He offered her an embarrassed, gentle smile. "I'm sorry if I've disappointed you," he admitted, "Since I'm surely not here to kill you."

Her eyes widened at the portion of profile she could see through the crack in her door. She contemplated slamming it in his face. "I'd much rather you kill me than do this..." Her voice broke. If he was a Death Eater in disguise then it was a fucking cruel trick to play. She closes her eyes, hoping that when she opened them again he'd be gone. No such luck.

"Please don't do this. Whoever you are, I don't care but... please... don't look like him..." To her chagrin, tears started to pour down her face once more. "Please... anyone but him." Her voice was shaking and she had to cling to the door handle so as to not fall over.

Halfway composing herself, but still a little pale and leaning heavily on the door, she unhooked the chain and opened the door. "Come in whoever you are, and really, if you are here to kill me, try not to make a mess."

"Nymphadora..." Remus reached out, but withdrew his hand before he could touch her. No. This was a civil visit, not a romantic one. He stepped inside her flat. It was...neat. That surprised him. Every time he'd been inside when they were together, it had looked like a tornado had run through it. But now? It was spotless. It burned, really, it did. How many times had he begged, albeit teasingly, that she clean up the mess? And now she had.

The funny thing? Now, Remus would've given anything that she mess it up again, so things were the same.

"I know you think...that I'm someone else," he murmured, still standing in the hallway as if he had no invitation to go further. "But Dora - " He stopped. No, he couldn't call her that...that was him, getting attached, again. "Tonks. It really is me. Molly said..." He cleared his throat. "Molly said that you'd be alone this holiday...I thought...well, I thought I'd pay you a visit..."

Her heart twisted in her chest once more. Only he called her that, in that tone... no-one impersonating him would be able to mimic it so exactly. She bit her lip, hard to stop from crying and glanced away from him, around her sparkling flat. That right there was a sure sign of just how messed up she was.

When she felt in complete control of her life, she let the clutter build. It was... comforting in a sense. But when she felt overwhelmed and stressed all the mess was ruthlessly curtailed so she felt like she had control over something in her life (Once in a Blue Moon).

She stepped backwards, heading out of the hallway but kept her eyes fixed on him as if he were an apparition or some sort of wild animal that might savage her if she took her eyes off him. In a way, he had. She's stopped looking, thought everything was fine... and then the bloody noble prat tore her heart out.

Hang on... he was saying something. The hollow cavity in her chest where her heart at been ached fiercely at the name. Dora... no-one else called her that. And now there was something about Molly saying she'd be alone for... oh. Of course. He hadn't come because he was concerned about her. No, he'd come because Molly had told him to. That thought caused the tears she'd managed to hold back start in her eyes again and she had to turn away. Just looking at him... she couldn't do it.

He took a few tentative steps forward...he still wasn't sure what her reaction was. Remus could tell -of course he could- that she was seconds away from bursting into tears. And he knew instantly that even mentioning Molly had been a wrong move. But though the Weasley woman had pointed it out that Tonks was all alone, and for sure, he should visit, but she hadn't flat-out forced him to. No, Remus had come of his own accord. After all...he could die. And he was prepared for it. If dying for Dumbledore, for Harry, was how he would go, he was all for it. Maybe, even then, it would be better than the life he had.

But there was one problem. He remembered her face. That heart-shaped face, so alight with life, with happiness, with cheer...she somehow seemed to resemble everything he'd lost since James and Lily had died. Maybe that was why he'd been so attracted to her...and why it'd been so hard for him to leave the first time. Because it would be like leaving his friends...again, as they'd left him.

He saw her turn, and guilt struck him, plainly in the centre of his chest. "Nymphadora, I came on my own," he said, his voice not betraying his anxiety. He was calm, as he'd been trained to be. He wished he could show more emotion, but after hiding his true feelings from everyone...what could he do, really? After this was all over, if he survived, he would hopefully regain his sense of self... "No one told me to. I missed you...I needed to see you." Remus swallowed.

"It might be the last chance I ever get."

Her back stiffened when he spoke but she made no move to turn around and face him. The tears were trickling down her cheeks and they started to fall faster at his words. Why... why could the bloody noble prat still read her mind? Did she have no secrets from him? And how could he be so bloody calm? And... suddenly, she wasn't miserable anymore. She was livid!

She spun around to face him, cheek wet with tears but her eyes were blazing with anger. "You think," she hissed, "that you can just come back here, after you tore. my. heart. out!" She was in his face and screaming now. "And try to just win me back with a "I missed you", "she mimicked his hoarse tone with perfection. "And "I needed to see you"!" Again, the cruel mimicry.

Her teeth were clenched and she was furious with him. If she'd been able to morph her hair would have been a blazing, fire-truck red with anger. "And... and..." She started to hit him, weakly but the intent was clear. "You can't do this to me Remus. Bloody. Lupin!" And then... she was crying again, heart-wrenching sobs that shook her body and tore at her very soul. "You can't." It was a helpless little plea this time. "Please."

The hands that had been hitting his chest were now clutching his sweater as she sobbed into his chest.

Her initial reaction hadn't surprised Remus at all - if anything, he was a bit put off by the fact that she was hugging him at all. But all of her words...everything she'd said, even the perfect imitation of him...none of them mattered, once he'd heard her first sob, once he got even the hint that there was a tear, she was in his arms.

It didn't matter that he'd left her, he'd abandoned her, on the steps of Grimmauld Place, telling her it was over, telling her that he would never see her again, because it wasn't good for either of them...he was too old, too poor, too dangerous...which, for all intents and purposes, he was. He was too dangerous for her, he could never forgive himself if he hurt her. He loved her far too much for that. And he could never provide for her, being the true monster that he was. And the fact that he could nearly be her father? Well...the grey in his hair said it all.

Yet, strangely...none of that seemed to deter him from visiting her. None of it made him stay away, but for the warning...he knew it was wrong to toy with her heart when he knew he couldn't stay. But it gave him something to live for, to know that she was okay, to know that she wasn't dead...to know that another friend, another loved one hadn't been stolen from him...

"I..." His arms, his calloused hands, gathered her in his arms tightly, holding her, knowing now that he would never let her go. "Nymphadora, I'm so sorry..." What else was there to be said? Maybe she wouldn't accept his apology. Brilliant. But his conscience would be clear, at the very least... Remus simply held Nymphadora in his arms, wondering, in the back of his mind, how much of this war either of them could take...

She was trembling, reaction finally setting in as she clung to him. And... oh Merlin he was apologising... and she was the psychotic one. "I... I..." She struggles to speak through her tears but then gives it up and simply clutches him closer.

How could he love her? She was a klutz, too colourful -well, usually- too loud... too... too everything. So.. she'd sort of expected the hoarse pronouncement on the steps of Grimmauld Place last Summer hadn't... in some part of her mind she'd been expecting it but... Merlin it hurt. She sobbed harder.

And he was... here... now... it was too much. She couldn't handle it. The war, the stresses of her job. Bellatrix's threat... no promise to find her and make her suffer for being her "blood-traitor sister's half-blooded freak of a daughter"...

"I c-can't t-take it any m-more Remus." She stuttered, her sobs sort of drying up. All of it hurt. So much.

"I'm so, so sorry..." he whispered, almost feeling tears come to his eyes. He hadn't realised how much he'd missed her until he actually saw her...how could he have ever left her? What had he been thinking, now that she couldn't morph, now that she had nothing better to do than clean, and weep herself into a coma on Christmas Night... "I never meant to do this to you...I never meant to hurt you..."

But that's what he'd done. "I don't ever want to leave you, Nymphadora, I never did mean to leave, I only did it for you to be safe..."

"Yes. I'm completely s-safe with you gone." She sniffled and gestured around the spotless flat, a helpless little movement. "I'm an Auror Remus. I'm constantly in danger and I'm the," here her voice turned bitter. "Half-blood freak spawn of a blood traitor. I'm about as un-safe as you can be."

Her gaze rested on the floor as she stepped back, a little ashamed at her outburst now. "I'm sorry," she muttered, not looking up.

He took another step forward, lifting her chin so their eyes met, his amber to her blue. "Don't be sorry," he said, his voice almost so quiet that she couldn't be sure he'd spoken. And if his mouth hadn't moved at all, Remus himself would've been sure that he just thought the dreaded words. "I'm the one who left you, you're the one that's hurting. And don't bother to deny it."

Remus knew he was being rather harsh. But he knew she was hurting, Molly had said so. And she couldn't morph, and she was alone on Christmas. "Nymphadora, I'm simply asking if I can spend the remainder of the night in your company. No one deserves to be alone, tonight of all nights."

Tonks' head snapped up and she stared at him. Had he just asked... please. She desperately wanted him to stay but she didn't think her heart could take it. He'd have to leave again in the morning and what if it happened all over again? The excuses... the lies... She opened her mouth to say no.

"Yes." What? No. She's meant to say no! "Please." What was going on? "Stay." No, no, no... she was meant to shove him out and tell him to never see her again! "Please Remus. Stay."

He smiled a little, only briefly, of course, he couldn't allow himself to be totally happy, because he would have to leave sooner than he liked...well, the fact that he had to leave at all, really, was what bothered him. "Thank you," he whispered, "Thank you..."

He offered her a hand, saying, "I'm sorry, I wish I had the funds to buy you a gift." His face turned a bright red from the fact that he was dirt poor. "I can only offer you myself, however insignificant I may seem."

"I-it's okay," she mumbled. "I'll... I'll sleep on the couch." She offered awkwardly, he looked like he could use the bed.

At his confession she shuffled her feet. "I... I didn't get you anything either," she turned her face away so he wouldn't see the blood rush to her cheeks. "I wanted to though." She mumbled under her breath.

"Nymphadora, wait..." Remus grasped her by the arm and gazed at her reproachfully. "I'm the guest who nearly barged in on you, I'll take the couch, love." He almost winced at the endearment himself...wasn't he supposed to be distancing himself from her? But...but somehow, that just didn't seem to be working out for him, did it?

She may have wanted to look away, but Remus grinned, however slightly, at her embarrassment. "It's alright," he said quietly, closing the space between them as he lifted her chin up, showing her the smile that he hoped would make everything better. "I would've felt obliged to get you something otherwise..."

She almost flinched at the endearment. That wasn't fair. He couldn't do that to her, not now. "Um... no... no... it's fine... really." The words tumbled out of her mouth. "I... I don't sleep much anyway." She admitted softly. She tried to avoid sleep, because when she slept she dreamt and the dreams were painful. They weren't bad, just the opposite. She dreamt of all the happy times they'd had together and more often than not woke in tears.

She couldn't help it and lent into his touch and returned his smile with one of her own. Her smile said without words "I-still-love-you-you-noble-prat-and-as-soon-as-you-see-and-accept-that-the-happier-we'll-all-be". "No, no, it's fine." What were they talking about again? The feel of his touch after so long had her muddled.

Remus looked conflicted as he drew away again. Had he...had he almost been able to kiss her? No, that was madness...he couldn't...he knew he couldn't, it was wrong...it was all wrong... But that face, her shining eyes, the red circles under those blue orbs...she'd been crying, she'd barely been sleeping...he needed her, and it was just as clear that she needed him... He was chewing on his lip as he nodded slowly.

"If you're at all the Nymphadora I remember, you won't back down," he said quietly. He pulled out a weathered galleon from his pocket. "Heads...you get the bed, tails it's mine..." But that was pathetic, and he knew it. He also knew it would be far too bold...but...oh, well, fuck it. Remus leaned in closer to her, almost close enough to touch his forehead to hers. His eyes, his amber orbs connected with her sapphire, and it was...well, for now...to prove that he still loved her, that he'd still be there...when the war was over...maybe there was still a chance...

She swallowed. Hard. "I have a better idea." Her voice was husky and butterflies, that she'd thought had been extinguished forever, started fluttering madly in her stomach. "How about we," she took a deep breath, "share the bed?" And, not allowing herself time to second guess her actions, she stretched up on her tip-toes and pressed her lips to his.

It was... heavenly and her eyes drifted shut and she pressed herself closer to him. How had she ever let him leave? Tonks felt her head start to spin and dizzily remembered that she needed to breathe. But... how could she pull away to breathe when this was the last chance she might ever get to kiss him?

Funny, he thought as she spoke, I'd been just about to suggest... But the rest of his thoughts went blank as her lips pressed against his. The only person was Dora. The only person that mattered...screw Voldemort. He was nothing, nothing...compared to his Dora...

He pulled her closer to him, his eyes sliding closed when it became too much, his heart beating rapidly, his lips slowly, tantalisingly, moving across hers. He knew, there was a chance, that this would be the last time he would ever see her...and hell, he was going to make it count...

When he finally broke away for air, his eyes opened as he caught his breath, grinning at her. "I think that's an excellent idea..."

Her head was still whirling and she gasped for breath. It wasn't helping and she felt dizzier than ever. When was the last time she'd eaten? She couldn't remember. "R-remus." Her voice sounded hollow and distant to her own ears as if it was coming from the end of a long tunnel. Spots were dancing in front of her eyes and her knees were buckling. "Help... please," she managed to force out before blackness overwhelmed her and she crumpled.

Remus had only a split-second warning before Nymphadora collapsed right before him. He caught her at the last moment and held her tightly to him. "Merlin love, what have I done...?" he asked, though obviously he was asking himself more than anything.

He carried her over to the couch carefully, laying her down. "Nymphadora..." he whispered. He stroked her cheek lovingly, his eyes not leaving her pale, heart-shaped face for a moment. "Come back to me, Dora, I love you..."

Her eyes flickered beneath her lids and she could vaguely hear someone talking. What... what were they saying? She couldn't quite make it out... But that voice and the touch... it was achingly familiar... was it? But no... surely not. Her brows drew together slightly in a frown of confusion and she licked her lips. "R-remus?" Her eyes were still shut and her throat was dry so it came out a hoarse croak.

"R-remus? What're... you.. here?" Her voice trailed away and her eyelids finally flickered open. She stared up into molten amber eyes that she'd thought she'd never see again. She blinked and it came rushing back. Tears pooled in her eyes and it might have been the light but the lightened a shade.

"Y-you...don't remember?" he asked uncertainly, wholly confused, only sincerely hoping that he wouldn't have to explain himself all over again, not after the emotionally draining entrance, and the final welcome in. And also...was this his fault? Had leaving her done something so terrible? Well, at least she remembered who he was...

"Nymphadora, shh," he whispered softly, gripping her hand as to never let her go, his eyes not blinking, not wanting to miss another moment of staring into her eyes. "Yes, I'm here...I'm here..."

She turned her face into his leg and sobbed once more. How did this man still have the power to cause her such sweet pain? She gripped the fabric of his pants tightly in her fists as she cried.

Eventually her sobs slowed and she simply gazed up at him, emotionally and physically exhausted. A huge yawn almost split her face in half and she nestled even closer to him if that was at all possible. "Please don't go," she murmured even though she knew he couldn't stay. "Please." She whispered. "I don't want you... you out there..." She sniffled and pressed her face into his leg again, hiding the pain in her gaze. It wasn't pain for her, but for him. She could only imagine what he had to endure. But... maybe she could help, at least for one night. She looked back up at him, determination written clear in her eyes.

"Remus. Take me to bed." It was half a plea but she quickly amended that statement, she knew how he'd take it. "Not to... do anything... just... to sleep? I... I... sleep better, wrapped in your arms." She appeared embarrassed by the admission and lowered her gaze, the blood rushing to her too pale cheeks.

His eyebrows had shot up at her blatant statement of "Take me to bed." Remus chuckled lightly, though he understood fully, nodding. "I know, love, I know..." How did he know? Because he slept better in her arms. He always had - there was something about her that seemed to tame the wolf inside him. And that was the only thing he'd ever wished for.

"I..." He looked away, his grip on her hand loosening. How he wished he could ignore the war...how he wished everything would be different, and they could be together... "I can't stay," he admitted hoarsely. "I wish I could, Nymphadora, with all my heart, but...Albus needs a job done. And I'm the only one he's got. You..." Remus swallowed, gripping her hand tight once again. "You know that as well as I."

She nodded, swallowing back more tears, though how she had any left was a mystery to her. "I... just... give me... us... tonight, at least?" Her voice was quiet and her tone pleading. "Just one more night..."

Tonks levered herself to her feet even though she was loathe to leave his embrace, he was just as comfortable as she remembered. A wider yawn split her face. "Come on love... bed..." She started to walk towards her bedroom, stumbling over her own feet with exhaustion.

Reaching her little used, lately anyway, bedroom she practically collapsed onto the bed, not even bothering the kick her shoes off. "Ungh," she moaned and hoped he'd followed; she really didn't have enough energy to get back up again.

Remus made sure the door was locked, and then followed her down the hall, pulling off his traveling cloak and laying it across a chair as he passed into her room. A pang of sadness hit his chest, his heart, as he saw what she had been reduced to.

He'd done this. This was all his fault. He wasn't even worthy to sleep beside her. He was a monster, and now even he thought so of his human form. No man could treat such a wonderful woman the way he had. She'd loved him, accepted him when no one else had, and...he'd pushed her away.

Remus kicked off his shoes and tentatively took his spot beside her, sighing heavily as he wrapped his arm around her waist. "Just one more night," he whispered into her ear, holding her tightly.

When the world outside was destroying itself...maybe...at least...they could be granted this one last moment of peace.

The End

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As Teddy said I did borrow from Kerichi's Blue Moon Series. Tom, Julia and Jan are hers, I just took them for a walk and then returned them unharmed. There are also a couple of lines in the middle there that are almost word for word from hers... in the roleplay I actually used referencing... I blame Uni.

He borrowed some stuff from previous fanfics he'd written, and most likely indirect references to some that he'd read (which is a whole bloody lot). As he said.

Drop us a line to tell us how we did, and even possibly, what you'd like to see next time around.

All our love,

Nymphadora Andromeda Lupin and Teddy R. Lupin