sam_storyteller: (Blue Moon Coffee)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-15 10:59 am

The Lens of Years; R-rated. R/S, RT.

Title: The Lens of Years
Rating: R.
Summary: Beginning in 1981, the chronicle of Remus' uneasy relationship with the Tonks family, and "that kid Nymphadora" in particular. RL/SB implied, RL/NT.
Warnings: None.
Notes: The verses at the start of every "segment" are from Camera Shy by The Lucksmiths. [ profile] setissma is to blame.

I am also aware that Southend-on-Sea is nowhere near the Pacific, but then again neither is ANYWHERE IN BRITAIN and it made more sense than having them take a random holiday in California.

Also available at AO3.

The Lens of Years

Here's me in nineteen-eighty-one
Squinting into a sinking sun
Ankle-deep in the Pacific
In the foreground are my friends
Grinning madly at the lens
They look heliolithic...

Behind them, Nymphadora was seated on Sirius' motorbike, trying vainly to shift the handlebars. She made vrooming noises occasionally, accompanied by the squeal of brakes. Her hair was the same glossy red as the fuel tank. Cute kid. Bit clumsy, but cute.

"We all need the holiday," Sirius said, hands hitched into his trouser pockets, jacket tucked up behind his wrists. He looked grave and grown-up, much more so than Remus had ever thought Sirius could look.

"I dunno," James said, eyes flicking to where Lily sat having tea with Peter and Andromeda in the Tonks' backyard. Peter was calmly holding Harry on one knee while Harry's chubby hands reached in vain for the shiny silverware on the table. "It's the baby, see."

"Harry will not dissolve if he gets wet," Remus said gently. "It's the summer, we ought to take at least a weekend. Even I can afford that."

"What are you boys plotting over there, Sirius?" Andromeda called. "Come have your tea before it gets cold."

"Trip to the seaside," Sirius answered. "Thought Lily might like a bit of holiday."

"That's lovely, really," Lily said. Remus tried not to laugh as both Sirius and Lily glanced at James; they were getting on better than they ever had, but he knew it was still being done to please James more than because they actually liked each other. If they pretended long enough, they probably would forget they were pretending. "I'd like that. A weekend trip?"

"Southend. It's got a fun fair," Sirius said. "Peter loves the arcane games, don't you?"

"Arcade," Peter supplied, around a mouthful of tea.

"Right, right. Fresh fish, sandy beach..." Sirius waggled his eyebrows temptingly at Lily.

Before she could speak again, however, Nymphadora had bolted off the motorbike and thrown herself at Sirius, wrapping spindly, preadolescent arms around his waist.

"Take me!" she demanded. Sirius looked down at her, dismayed. "Can I come to the fun fair? Please, Sirius?"

"Nymphadora!" Andromeda scolded. She looked around at her mother, entirely unrepentant.

"Er, well, it's sort of a...grownup trip," Sirius said. Nymphadora's face fell.

"But -- but you're taking Harry!" she argued. "And grownups don't play arcade games!"

"She has a point," Remus said. "It's terribly immature of you, Peter."

"Still got that plush rabbit I won from the claw game at that pub in London?" Peter asked smugly.

"Now, Nymphadora, let go of cousin Sirius," Andromeda said as Sirius goose-stepped over to the picnic table with the ten-year-old still clinging to his waist and leg. "Your father and I will take you some other time. These big boys and girls would only do boring stuff anyway, isn't that right, James?"

Nymphadora's eyes welled with tears, and Remus glanced at Sirius. The kid wasn't stupid, after all; she knew that it was just that the big kids didn't want to be bothered with her.

"Why not let her come?" he asked impulsively. Sirius stared at him. "She's right, she'd have fun, and Andi and Ted might like a weekend holiday."

"Oh, Remus, you're sweet, but I couldn't ask you to give up your own holiday to take Nymphadora around to the arcades," she said.

"Peter'll be in the arcades anyway, she can go there with him. Lily can't go on the fun fair rides -- "

" -- too true," Lily said. "I get horrible motion sickness."

"In which case James'll need someone as his excuse to go three times straight on the carousel."

"Hey!" James exclaimed. Remus blinked innocently at him.

"She can stay with Lily and James in their hotel room, that's respectable, and she knows how to help with minding Harry. I'll take responsibility for her," Remus said.

Andromeda looked hesitantly from Sirius, who seemed dismayed, to Lily, who was smiling reassuringly at the child. James had his poker face on and Peter just seemed confused.

"If you're very well-behaved and promise to do everything Remus tells you and help with minding Harry, you may go," Andromeda said.

Nymphadora let go of Sirius' waist and reattached herself to Remus' instead.

"I love you," she said. He grinned and patted her head.


Peter was brilliant at arcade games; he almost always won, without even using magic. Still, after a few hours Nymphadora's head had started to hurt from all the buzzing and bright lights, so she'd gone to find Sirius, who was having lunch at a nearby chip shop.

"Peter says to tell you he'll see you for dinner," she said, sitting down next to Remus. Sirius shoved the remaining fish and chips across to her. "Thank you. Look what he won me!"

The older boys inspected the ropes of bead necklaces around her neck, three large plastic rings on her hand, and the wee plush dog she placed on the table. "Impressive," Sirius said. "Is he on to pinbowl machines now?"

"Pinball," Remus murmured over his lunch.

"Are you eating mushy peas?" Nymphadora asked Remus.

"Yes," he said warily.


"I like mushy peas," he answered.

"As I was saying," Sirius said, looking slightly annoyed at her, "There's this brilliant club, right, wizarding, right, no Muggles at all, and I was going to go."

"I can't -- James and Lily are going out tonight and someone's got to mind Nnnharry," Remus said, catching himself quickly.

"Can't Peter?"

"Sirius, you know I don't like loud music. You go and have fun. I'm getting a bit tired anyway, I think I'll just wander round the beach this afternoon. You can be my excuse," he said to Nymphadora, who was licking salt off her fingers. "Now, I know your mother taught you better manners than that."

"Yes, but she's not here."

Sirius laughed. "Spoken like a true Black. Right, then, I'm going to go take a nap before tonight, I'll see you for dinner. Down on the beach?"

"James is buying a picnic dinner for all of us," Remus said to Nymphadora, after Sirius left. "We're going to have dinner on the beach and watch the stars come out and play cards. That'll be fun, eh?"

"Yes," she agreed. "Did you really want to go to the club Sirius talked about?"

"Not in the slightest," he replied. "I hate clubs. Noisy, smoky places."

"Why does Sirius like them, then?"

Remus looked perturbed. "I'm not sure, actually. Sirius sometimes needs to...shout and run around and make a fool of himself. It's just how he is."

"I love him," Nymphadora said. "I'm going to be just like him when I grow up."

"Sounds good to me. So do you want to go on the rides this afternoon?"

She shook her head. "I'm all dizzy from the arcade."

"All right. We could go back to the hotel, or walk around on the beach and make fun of all the sunburnt people."

She giggled. "Will you buy me an ice cream?"

"Shameless! What would Andromeda say?" he laughed. "All right, you gold-digger, come on."


James and Lily found Remus, Sirius, and Nymphadora all on the beach when they arrived with dinner. Remus was crouched, trouser-legs rolled up to his calves, hands cupped around something. Sirius was leaning over one shoulder, Nymphadora the other; Peter, off to one side and unnoticed, was taking a photograph.

"Look what Remus found!" Nymphadora called, once she'd seen them coming. "It's magic glass!"

"Is it now?" Lily asked. Remus looked up, squinting. The sun backlit James and Lily, picking out bright gleams in Sirius' hair as well. Sirius had his hand securely on Remus' waist.

"My mum used to collect sea-glass," he explained. "You know, old bits of broken bottle that've been polished down by the water and the sand."

He held out his hands. Cradled between his fingers was a small blue bottle, completely intact and softened all over, rough to the touch.

"Ever seen anything like that?" Sirius asked.

"It looks like something an alchemist would use. Well done, treasure-hunter," James said, joining Lily at the water's edge, Harry in his arms.

"Smile, everyone," Peter called. Remus, just before he took the picture, subtly slid the bottle into her hands.


Remus had spent the evening alternately reading and teaching her how to do card tricks, and Nymphadora was asleep by the time Sirius came back from the club. The noise of his arrival next door woke her; she got up and crept out onto the balcony of the room she shared with James and Lily and Harry, who had mercifully slept through the door banging open. Remus and Sirius had the other room, and Peter had a smaller room beyond that. She didn't know why Peter didn't just sleep on the nice couch in Remus and Sirius' room, anyway. Maybe because Sirius was coming in late and Peter wanted his sleep or something.

From the balcony, she could hear Sirius and Remus speaking softly; their own balcony's door was open. She curled up in the chair, cheerfully unafraid of the dark and not at all cold.

"I guess you had a good time."

"Yes. Yes. Yes I did. It was grand. You should have come."

"I wouldn't have been much fun."

"You're always fun, Moony. Not stuck here all night, though, with the kid."

"I like Nymphadora, she's smart."

Nymphadora smiled and hugged herself.

"I'm smart too!"

She heard Remus laugh. "Yes, Padfoot. You are smart. And handsome. And charming. And drunk."

Sirius laughed too, then, and then there was some other noise she didn't quite recognise. It went on for a while before Remus suddenly appeared in the doorway, skin pale in the light from the bare fingernail of a moon in the sky. She almost gasped; he looked like a ghost without his shirt on, and his whole body -- what she could see, since he still had his trousers on -- was covered in jagged brown scars.

Sirius followed him out and, to her surprise, pushed him back against the balcony railing. Remus reached out and took his shirt in one hand, pulling him close; she did gasp when they kissed, but neither of them seemed to hear her.

Boys didn't kiss like that -- at least not any boys she knew. That was mum and dad sort of kissing.

"Someone'll see us," Remus said, and then he was the one pushing Sirius back inside, though Sirius had his arm pretty firmly around Remus' hips. Nymphadora sat blinking in the darkness until she heard their balcony door close, then bolted back inside and into the bed they'd transfigured from the room's sofa.

It took her a good five years to figure out what she'd seen that night; by then, of course, Sirius was no longer anyone's hero, least of all hers, and Remus had more or less disappeared. She wondered if her parents knew about Remus and Sirius, or if anyone did, but she never asked. She did keep the photograph Peter sent to her mum, though, along with the blue sea-glass bottle that Remus gave her as a gift for being so well-behaved all weekend.


Again in nineteen-ninety-three
The polaroid you took of me
In a long-forgotten lounge room
My hand outstretched before my face
A nervous smile, a downcast gaze
I didn't know myself around you

"Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please."

The instructor at the head of the class rapped his wand on the lectern for emphasis, and the dull roar of fifty-odd Aurors and trainees settled to a whisper as people found their seats and prepared for the lecture to begin. Behind the man was a steel box about the height of a coffin, though double that in width, with a Dementor inside it.

"Thank you," he continued. Nymphadora, who had already found her seat, twiddled her quill between her fingers and pressed her palm flat on the chocolate bar in her breast pocket. The instructor purposefully hadn't warned anyone to bring chocolate, which was a bit bastardly of him, but then the Aurors were big on learning through experience, and getting past a Dementor without a bar of chocolate was definitely an experience.

"Thank you. You may notice the hall is a little more crowded than usual today; we have a few guests, whom I hope you will make welcome with the usual student frivolity."

A ripple of curious, nervous laughter ran through the class.

"Headmaster Dumbledore, would you be so kind as to stand?"

Nymphadora craned her neck. Sure enough, there was Dumbles, giving the crowd a quick wave. And -- next to him, Professor McGonagall, and next to her, Professor Snape. He looked sour, as usual. There were a couple of kids she recognised from school, probably seventh-years now, and...well, in fact, it looked as though most of the Hogwarts faculty was sitting in the back. Including a new professor -- oh, probably the Defence Against the Dark Arts --

She grabbed her desk in surprise, knocking her inkpot onto the head of the man in front of her, who swore and caught it before it shattered.

"Watch it, Fumbledora!" he hissed, almost hurling it back at her. She turned just long enough to retrieve it, then whipped her head around again.

Remus bloody Lupin, sitting quietly next to Professor Sinistra.

"All right, yes, you can go say hi to your old professors later," the instructor grumbled, drawing the attention of the class back to the front. She turned resolutely and secured her inkpot again -- it didn't do to get caught off-guard in a Dementor practical, even if she already had been by Remus Lupin.

"There are two known ways of destroying a Dementor," the instructor began. "One is, of course, the Patronus, and the other less practical method..."


Remus had expected that the envoy from Hogwarts would draw attention at the Aurors' training class; most of the Auror students were recent students of Dumbledore's. None of them knew him, of course; they eyed him rather warily as they approached to greet their favourite professor, or their head of house, or their Headmaster. He stood well back, watching them, hands shoved in his pockets. It was just as well; crowds still made him a bit nervous. Severus, he saw, was surrounded by earnest, keen-eyed young men and women. It was a shame Severus hated him so much. He had the idea they could have taught each other a thing or two about education.

"Cor, I don't have to call you Professor, do I?"

He didn't think the words had been meant for him and so he didn't pay much attention to them until someone put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. Then he turned, trying not to flinch, and found himself looking into a snub-nosed, heart-shaped face under a shock of bright blue hair.

"I mean, I assume you're not just here because Dementors are such thrilling and exciting creatures," she said, and then she was hugging him, both arms around his neck.

"Nymphadora?" he asked, hugging her back. She stepped back and tossed her head to get the hair out of her eyes. "My god, look at you."

"Bit different from a gawky twelve-year-old, eh?" she asked, looking pleased.

"Just a bit! You're in Auror training? Yes of course you are, Andromeda told me you were. You look grand," he said.

"Thanks! You look like hell, yourself. Here, have some chocolate."

He laughed. "Yes, I know. It's not the Dementor, I've been ill. I think the grey rather suits me, don't you?"

"Oh, undoubtedly. Makes you look aged and distinguished," she said.

"Nymphadora?" Professor McGonagall called. "Is that you, my dear?"

"Be right there, Professor!" she called. Remus lifted an eyebrow.

"She just called you my dear," he said.

"Yeah, I did some tutoring under her, she sort of mentored me -- listen, can I buy you lunch in about half an hour?"

"Well, I certainly can't buy you lunch," he joked, hoping she couldn't hear the edge in his voice. "I don't get my first paycheque until I start marking papers."

To his relief, she laughed at him. "No, it's my pleasure. Meet me at the Leaky Cauldron, yeah? It'll be crowded but Tom always saves me a table."

"Ta -- I'll see you then," he said.


"So can you really do a full-fledged Patronus?" Nymphadora asked, excited. "I can't quite manage it yet and I don't know what I'm doing wrong."

"Takes practice," Remus answered, tucking into his shepherd's pie with gusto. "I mean, it took me two full years to really get it solidly. Then again, you don't happen across too many Dementors in civilised country, generally speaking."

"What's yours? If, if I can ask," she added. He smiled warmly.

"It's a thestral, actually. They're very beautiful creatures."

"Neat!" she said, for about the millionth time. Remus was proving to be a gold mine of information, and she could see other students at the nearby tables eavesdropping. "Are you going to do a workshop on it at Hogwarts, when you start teaching?"

"Merlin, no. Can you imagine? We'd get sued."


"Exposing children to Dementors -- brr," he said. "It's bad enough they'll be all over the grounds. No, not unless some of the Seventh years need it for their NEWTs."

"Remus," she said, lowering her voice. "About the reason the Dementors are there..."

"Please, Nymphadora..."

"No, it's that why you're going? Because you know him better than anyone?"

He put his fork down and took a long drink of water.

"Did you know James' son is in his third year now?" he asked cryptically.

"Is he? Gosh. I remember when he was born."

"So do I. Dumbledore knows how to play on a man's emotions rather well," he continued. "He convinced me the boy needs my protection. I've never met him -- not since..."

"Me either. What do you reckon he's like?"

"Hard to imagine any child of James not being pretty similar to him," Remus said tightly.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked you. I'm always putting my foot in my mouth -- it can't be easy for you to think about all this."

"It's not, but everyone's going to ask, so I might as well get used to it," he sighed. "I've put up with the whole mess for twelve years, another few months won't kill me."

"Surely nobody links you to all those....all that death," she said.

"Of course they do. I'm the infamous friend of Sirius Black," he said. She couldn't hear any bitterness, but it had to be there. She shifted out of her chair and around to his side of the table, sliding onto the booth-bench next to him. He glanced sidelong at her, warily, then burst into laughter as she turned her nose into a beak.

"You haven't changed," he said. She squawked. "All right, you definitely have changed. And if you're in earnest about those Patronus lessons," he added as she circled back to her own side, "I don't leave for Hogwarts for another week. I'm staying at the Gryphon Arms Inn -- stop by and I'll give you a few pointers."

"Ta! I'd appreciate that," she said.

"I'm not buying you an ice cream, though," he added, smiling.


"That was pretty cohesive," he said, three days later, as she stood sweating and anxious in the tiny room he was living in. He'd clearly only rented it temporarily; there was a trunk and a suitcase in one corner, and the only human touches in the room were two piles of books on the nightstand.

"It was shite, I think," she replied.

"Well, yes, but it was shite with a definite shape," he temporised. "I mean, I can see that it definitely will be something. Looks rather like a peacock."

"Least terrifying bird ever," she muttered.

"Clearly you've never been on a peacock's bad side."

"I've stood to the left of Gilderoy Lockhart, does that count?"

He sat on the bed, grinning. "It takes time. At least you get the official chance to practice with a real Dementor. The chocolatiers must love this time of year, all you students buying chocolate."

"It's a good excuse," she agreed, unwrapping a bar. "Speaking of which, do you want some?"

"Mm, no, too much sugar at once and I get a splitting headache. My delicate constitution," he sighed.

"You seem pretty durable to me."

"Sinewy, they call it."

She nudged him with her shoulder, affectionately. "I've missed you."

"Yes -- I'm sorry I wasn't around more," he said, bowing his head and studying his hands. "I didn't think Andromeda coped very well. With me, I mean. She never seemed to know what to say. Sort of torn between hating me because it wasn't me, and not knowing how to help me out, either. We get on better by correspondence."

"It was hard on her. So I've heard, anyway -- she never talked about it to me. Dad says, though."

"I don't doubt. It's just as well I went off. I was a right mess after it all happened, Nymphadora."

She nodded. "Remus, I won't bring it up again, but I wanted you to know....I knew about you and him."

He looked at her, suddenly sharp-eyed. "What?"

"You and him. I saw you kissing once. That time we went to Southend. So, I knew. I didn't tell anyone," she added. His face was deathly pale. "Remus, really. I don't care if you're gay."

He coughed, running one hand through his hair. "Well, as it happens I'm not, but I'm sorry we....erm. Exposed you to that."

"I was ten, I didn't care."

"Did you tell Andi?"

"No. I didn't know if she knew or not."

"We never told her. Didn't exactly seem the right time to, either, not after...he went away."

"I'm so sorry, Remus."

He shrugged. "You were ten. Not anything you could have done. I couldn't do anything and I was twice your age."

"I'm still sorry."

"Thanks." He was still looking down at his hands, at the branching blue vein visible between two knuckles. "I thought everyone who knew was dead -- it was just James and Lily and Peter. Well, and -- him, of course."

"I won't tell."

"You said. I appreciate that. Listen, we're both tired, perhaps we should..."

"Yes! Of course," she said hurriedly.

"Come have breakfast with me tomorrow, before I leave for Hogsmeade?"

She beamed. "Sure, sure. And you'll write to me, now that you know I don't bite?"

His smile was very genuine, and it wasn't the smile she had once been used to, the condescension of an older brother. Now it was real -- if not equal to equal, then at least adult to adult.

"See you then," he said.


So if it's not too much to ask
Let's just let the moment pass
I have no wish to be reminded
Of just how awkward I can be
Please don't point that thing at me
Your eyes are widening behind it

"Well, the Ministry's cleared him, so I suppose we can all dry our tears and go about our business," Remus said bitterly. Nymphadora looked up at him across the breakfast table.

"I suppose it's something, anyway," she said.

"He's dead. It's not like it matters to him."

"No, but..." she hesitated. "Well, not everyone's a nihilist, Remus. Harry will appreciate it."

"I very much doubt that," he replied with a sigh. "Sorry, Tonks. I shouldn't read newspapers, they only annoy me. I didn't mean to snap."

"You're allowed to be a bit upset."

"You sound rather like Andromeda."

She smiled, taking it as the compliment he intended. He stood and carried his plate to the sink, running water over it before turning around to lean on the counter, stretching his back. She watched his shoulders tighten, the muscles on his forearms tense; it wasn't long until the full moon, and he must ache.

She'd told Emmeline Vance that she thought Remus was rather handsome, and Emmeline had sniggered and said yes, if you fancied shagging an old man. Emmeline hadn't looked past grey hair and worry lines, apparently, which was just fine because Nymphadora wasn't graceful like she was, or particularly witty. She thought Remus was wonderful, and she supposed that probably just overrode the fact that he was underfed and grey-haired.

One of his joints cracked, loudly.

"Hwoof," he said. "I seem to be getting old."

"You are not," she answered, laughing as she carried her cereal bowl to the sink and reached around him to put it in. "You're just exhausted. Anyone would be."

"Mmh. Yes, I suppose," he said, looking down. Avoiding her eyes.

"Are you really all right, Remus?" she asked. She was close enough to feel his body heat. He sucked in a sharp breath.

"Hating myself for surviving is nothing new," he said, sounding almost reasonable. "It's rather awful that I'm so glad he's dead, though."

"Glad?" she asked curiously.

"He was in so much pain, Tonks. And so lonely, he would hardly let me near him. Harry was his whole life but he wasn't even thinking of Harry, he was thinking of some kind of...James substitute. He was mad. He was completely mad and my Sirius died fourteen years ago so I'm glad that whoever that Sirius was is gone, which is horrible, and poor Harry, but -- "

She shushed him and put one hand on the back of his head, pulling him forward. He pressed his face against her hair, silently, not weeping or speaking.


He could remember when she was a child, when he was twenty-one and she was ten, when he was in love with Sirius and actually thought one day that would be okay, when the world might actually work itself out to his advantage for once.

Remus sat in the Order meeting, slouching slightly because it felt good to stretch his back, and tried to pay attention to what Dumbledore was saying, but it was difficult. He kept trying to remind himself that he used to buy her ice cream, for god's sake, and had to vouch that he'd babysit her before she could go on holidays with him. Him and Sirius.

She was sitting next to him, not slouching at all, looking very composed and proper in her Auror's uniform. It was driving him slightly mad, actually, because correct posture meant that he could see every inch of her figure and he hadn't felt this way about anyone since he was twenty, and when he was twenty she was ten years old, you pervert.

He was actually at the point where he was justifying it to himself -- which was a good thing, since it meant he probably wouldn't act on his feelings -- by telling himself that he hadn't had sex in two years, not since before he'd taken the Hogwarts job, and he'd been coping with Sirius which was exhausting and then with Sirius' death which was more exhausting, and that this was the kind of price you paid for having twice the dating pool as people who only fancied one gender. Not that it was doing him any bloody good, but it did make for variety in one's fantasy life.

He glanced around him, bewildered, as people began to stand and smooth out their clothes and file slowly towards the door.

"It's over," Tonks whispered in his ear.

"Did I miss anything important?" he asked tiredly.

"No. You were miles away."

"Tropical beaches," he lied. "Warm sun. Some kind of drink with fruit in it."

She laughed and offered him a hand out of the chair, which he took because objecting to being thought old and decrepit was too much work.

"Can you condense and distill for me a bit?" he asked, as they followed the rest of the crowd out.

"No, I mean it. You didn't miss anything, it was a rehash of last week," she said. "You're tired. Why don't you let me put you to bed?"

He blinked at her. She's just being kind, she didn't mean anything. He tried to chuckle, but it came out strangled.

"Come on," she said, leading him down the hall of the horrible old house. They ended up in his room, which wasn't quite so horrible; he had a nice rolltop desk and a four-poster bed with a bug-free mattress. She sat him down in the chair at the desk.

"Relax," she said. "Close your eyes."

He obeyed, still wary, and felt her left hand on the back of his neck. A hesitant thought flitted through his mind that if she knocked over umbrella stands she could do serious damage to major nerves, but then she squeezed and he tilted his head forward, tacitly asking for more.

Well, it was all he was likely to get, he might as well enjoy it.

She rubbed his shoulder with her right hand, almost reassuringly, as she kneaded her fingers into his neck, running them up over the base of his scalp and making his skin prickle pleasantly. He breathed deeply, trying not to cough as she pressed down on his shoulders and then began to work them, too, removing his coat with a muttered charm and banishing it to the closet. He knew she could practically see his scars through the thin, threadbare oxford shirt underneath, but he really didn't care at the moment. Not when she was pressing him to lean further forward so that she could work her fingers down his spine. It felt like every other vertebrae popped under her hands.

She touched his shoulders again, soothingly, and he straightened; then her right hand curled around, across his throat, and popped the first button on his shirt. He tensed.

"Don't," she said softly in his ear. Her left hand squeezed the back of his neck again. Her right popped the second button and slid under the fabric, resting over his heart.

"Nymphadora," he said waveringly, "When you said put me to bed..."

She kissed him, not on the mouth but just below his temple, thumb stroking the hollow where his collarbones met. He shot out of the chair and turned around, and they stood facing each other for three of the longest seconds in the world before he closed the distance and kissed her on the mouth, and the memory of her as a ten year old be damned, she wasn't ten years old anymore.

There were probably a thousand levels of wrong for this; he'd fucked her cousin and idly fancied her mum, but she was here and alive and not completely mad. She was familiar.

She wanted it too.

"Buy you an ice cream," he said, half-mad himself as her body pressed up against his and her hands clutched at his hips. She laughed and kissed him, and her mouth was open and inviting.

"I'll hold you to that," she replied against his lips, her hands busy now at his belt buckle. Undressings was a blur, though he had time enough to appreciate that she had probably worn those particular lacey underthings with him in mind, since he was positive they weren't standard Auror issue -- for one thing, there would be a lot more fabric if they were.

She slid past him towards the bed but he caught her around the waist with one arm and pulled her against him, her shoulders against his chest. She moaned when his other hand slid up her thigh and almost writhed as it cupped her breast. She was impatient, that was natural, she was young -- oh god, what condescention -- but he didn't know how long this was going to last and he wanted to enjoy it. He wanted to bloody remember it, anyway.

"Easy," he said. "Slow down or you'll break something."

She laughed, and then she said "Yes, Remus," and he felt a shiver of anticipatory pleasure.

"Going to enjoy yourself?" he asked, biting her earlobe.

"Yes, Remus," she answered, breathlessly.

"Look at you, Nymphadora," he said softly. "All grown up."

She laughed again. He released her, not that she couldn't have got away if she'd wanted, and let her take his hand and pull him towards the bed, falling down on it in a rather glorious tangle of limbs with a woman ten years younger than himself.

It was -- it was fun, he realised, making a show of wrestling for dominance a little before giving in and letting her straddle his thighs, mischief gleaming in her eyes. He was having fun. Wasn't sex supposed to be fun? It used to be, once, he could just barely remember that --

Memory and pain and loss and worry all went out of his mind quite suddenly, because Nymphadora had raked her fingernails lightly down his belly and very lightly up his cock.

"Nnh -- Nymmmh -- Tonks," he managed, "if you don't stop slowing down now -- "

"Easy," she said with a grin. "You'll break something."

He moaned. "Smartarse."

"You talk a lot," she said, leaning forward. Her hips inched forward too.

"Hard habit to -- " he gasped as her hips bucked lightly. "-- break."

"I like it."

"Clearly," he said, and then gave up talking entirely, because he preferred kissing her while they fucked.


"So, there's a small problem."

Remus opened his eyes and turned his head, glancing at Nymphadora.

He still wasn't used to the idea of her in his bed, though she'd managed it at least once a week for the past six months -- sometimes more, since apparently he wasn't a complete failure in bed or bastard in conversation. In fact, as time passed she was hanging around more, rather than less.

"Not from where I'm lying," he replied, grasping her hand where it rested on his chest. She smiled and kissed his cheek.

"Well, I did say it was small," she said, hunkering down in the blankets and curling up against him. It was deep winter, horrible January winter, but it was a good excuse to keep her close, and she liked his body heat. "Remus, the thing is..."

"Mmh?" he asked, closing his eyes.

"I think I'm in love with you."

His eyes opened so fast it hurt.

"What?" he asked.

"Listen, don't be angry, this is a small problem. Small!" she insisted.

"Love?" he demanded, propping himself up on one elbow. "Love with me?"

"No, with Kingsley Shacklebolt. Yes, with you."

He stared at her, gaping. "Well, don't be!"

"I can't help it, you know!" she said, annoyed. "Besides, don't tell me who to be in love with, I'll be in love with whoever I like."

"Yes, fine, but not me! Jesus Christ, Nymphadora!"

"I'm sleeping with you, aren't I? It'd be very illogical to be in love with someone else," she pointed out. "Anyway, what're you so upset about? Beautiful, adoring, intelligent woman seeks -- "

"Unemployed werewolf ten years your senior."

" -- clever, handsome man," she corrected.

"Don't mess about," he said, sitting up and reaching for his pyjama trousers, which were somewhere in a heap on the floor.

"I'm not messing about. I'm in love! It's awesome, you should try it," she added, quite seriously.

"No thanks, I quit years ago," he answered. "Nymphadora, really. Listen, if I'd known -- "

"Oh please. Who seduced whom, here?"

He finally managed to get the pyjamas on, since a naked man really can never be taken seriously about anything.

"Nymphadora, be serious for a moment," he said. "It's just ridiculous. I'm a fling, I thought we'd both agreed on that. I certainly didn't mind it."

"Well, you were, sort of," she said.

"Sort of?"

"You were! It's just...why?"

"Why what?" he asked, confused.

"Why be a fling? You're kind, you're good with children -- "

"Oh god."

"You're handsome, you're intellectually a good match for me, and every time I'm with you I make up excuses to stay longer."

He tried to look like he was thinking of what to say next, because his brain was a complete blank.

"So," she said, looking appropriately embarrassed, "I'm in love with you. I'd like to make a stab at seeing if we could tolerate each other well enough to tell, you know, other human beings about this...thing."

"Oh balls," he said.


"Well, here's the thing," he stammered. "I rather thought I might be in love with you, too."

She burst out laughing and threw herself back on the pillows.

"It isn't funny, Nymphadora! I love you! I don't want to break your heart!"

"Then don't, arsehole!" she said.

"We can't, though. Really. We can't. I'm too old for you, I'm too poor, I'm a werewolf. And! And," he said, attempting to lend the slightest shred of credence to his excuses, "I'm bisexual. You never know when I might just see some man and go running off after him."

He gestured, probably a bit wildly, to accentuate his point. She grinned at him from the pillows.

"Bisexual is not synonymous with lack of impulse control," she replied. "Besides, how do you know I'm not?"

He considered this, quite seriously, even as the rest of his brain was screaming at him to bolt.

"Remus, listen to me, it's not that big a deal. Really. I mean, we should at least give it a shot, considering everything. What, are you going to tell me you're too werewolfy for me?"

Remus looked at her, saw her slowly realise that this wasn't a joke. He couldn't quite meet her eyes.


They sat together in the small cafe near the entry to Diagon Alley, quietly. She tapped her fingers against her mug. He watched her. Finally, he spoke.

"Well, in some ways lass, I think it'll do ye good. 'Course, I can have 'im killed if you like."

Tonks bit her lip and smiled a little. "Thanks, Moody. I don't think it needs to come to that. If we went round killing everyone who'd dumped me it'd be like some kind of horrible independent film."

"A what? Nah, nevermind. And he hasn't dumped ye," he added, pointing his finger at her.

"Right, right. We're examining our situation," she sighed. "So why do you think this will do me good, again?"

"Well, it might slow ye down a bit."

She frowned.

"Tonks, I know everyone thinks I'm a nutter, and I don't mind because then no-one suspects, ken?"

"Sure. You've been doing that act for years."

"Aye. But I know what makes a good agent and ye have most of it. Ye wouldn't be knockin' things over and clattering about like a graphorn all the time if ye didn't hurry so much."

She studied her hands. "Moody, listen, a lecture..."

"No, now, hear me out. Ye're unhappy. Use it. Good agents do. Ye shouldn't've taken the job, Tonks, if ye didn't want to be a bit messed in the head. We all are; there's no going round it."

"So you're saying I should be...depressed on the job?"

"Might help. Can't hurt that much." He leaned forward. "Try being a bit know. All the time."


"That's the one."

Tonks smiled a little. "Moody, you're a nutter."

"Oh aye. I know."


You seem surprised
And I see why
You've just realised
I'm camera-shy.

If Remus noticed, and she wasn't sure how he could miss the change in her, he didn't say anything. He watched her unhappily, sometimes, but he didn't try to apologise or excuse himself, which she was at least grateful for. It wasn't like they never backslid; every time he came back from the werewolves, it seemed, they had incredible reunion sex and then a very quiet row about the whole love issue. Once she was hurt and he came back to see her -- that was a particularly bad row, which meant it was also particularly quiet. Each time, too, it was easier to count his ribs.

Molly -- well, nearly everyone, but Molly was most vocal -- thought it was all Remus' doing and she was angry at him, as many times as Tonks told her it was Moody's advice that had effected the change. Funny, Remus had always fretted that Molly would think he was some kind of pervert, considering he'd known Tonks since before puberty. Now she took every chance she had to throw them together.

"We're going to have to stop this, sooner or later," Remus had said to her that morning, lying in her bed, but he didn't exactly seem eager to let go of her body or pull away. "It isn't fair to you."

"No, it isn't, but that's very easily fixed," she replied.

"You know I can't do that. I don't think you understand what a life together means."

"Don't condescend, Remus, you've never spent a life with someone either so I don't buy your crap."

She felt him kiss the crown of her head. "That's not what I meant. This life, our life...I've considered these things with every woman or man I've been with since I was fifteen. I considered it with Sirius and decided just to hold onto him as long as I could, then let him go when he found a girl. He would have, you know. Sirius could never have lived with another man, publicly, in this world."

"You don't know that."

"Nymphadora, and this isn't condescention, I knew Sirius better than anyone else who lived, including James. I know."

"That doesn't mean I'd leave you."

"Your life would consist of a twenty-eight day cycle, as my parents' did, during which time your loved one -- your husband, if you want to go that far -- would shred his own skin and break his own bones at the high point of each cycle. The next three days would involve his complete inability to do anything to help you out. The rest of the time he would be unemployed -- you would be forced to support him."

"Aurors make good money."

"I know. And all that time you supported him he would be trying, trying so hard not to resent the fact that he couldn't find a job. After a few years, you'd be trying too -- trying very hard not to resent that he should be pulling his weight."

"Remus, don't insult me."

"It's a natural reaction; anyone would think that of me."

"I wouldn't."

He sighed and continued. "Your friends would all wonder why you'd married a man so much older than yourself, a man who shares almost none of your experiences -- "

"Oh no. Except a war. And Sirius Black."

He chuckled. "Sirius definitely was an experience. And then, Nymphadora...there's the fact that you would be cohabitating with a werewolf, voluntarily. You'd be passed over for promotions because your husband can't be trusted; you'd be monitored for signs of insurrective activity. You might lose your job, too. What a world of opportunities I can offer a girl like you," he added bitterly.

"I'd also be living with the man I love. I'd get to see your face every morning. I'd spend my life with a man who was courteous, intelligent, and polite. My friends would all wonder where I'd managed to find someone who knows so much already about what I do. Aurors are no prize, Remus. We're mental, most of us. They'd wonder why you stuck around to put up with my nightmares and my really dreadful cooking."

"So the fact ten years time, can you really see yourself with me?" He hesitated. "There'd be no children."

"There's more to life than children."

"One way or another,'s always the same."

"Too old, too poor, and a werewolf. I know."

That was the morning of the day Albus Dumbledore died.


"If you ever, so help me god, make a scene like that again," Remus said, looming over her in the hallway of Hogwarts. She tried adding a few inches to give herself some advantage, but she'd never seen him so furious. "If you ever make our private dealings into a public scene -- in front of Harry, for Christ's sake! Bill's half-dead and you stood there and -- "

"Well, if you'd listened to me, Harry would have known ages ago!"

"That's utterly beside the point! I don't intend to listen to you, Tonks! I'm not going to ruin your life for you. I will not do that, I love you too much for that, do you understand me?"

She glared at him. "I understand that you're scared because finally someone you love loves you back and isn't coward about telling people. He was, Remus! Sirius was a coward if he wasn't willing to put up with a bit of gossip for you! And if the other people you've loved weren't brave enough to keep you, they're cowards too."

"Merlin save me from Gryffindors. They weren't cowards, Tonks, they were sensible. There's no bravery in wasting your life on -- "

"Will you stop saying that! It's my life! I'll waste it if I want and I wouldn't be!" she retorted. "Remus, I'm okay if you break my heart! It happens! People don't always live happily ever after but at least some of them are willing to make a go of it. Maybe Fleur won't make it with Bill. Maybe for reasons completely unrelated to the fact that Fenrir Greyback mauled him tonight. They'll go on with their lives if that happens. But she's willing to try, because she loves him."

"Fleur's an idiot, Tonks."

"Does it matter?" she demanded. He ducked his head and glanced away. "No, Remus, look at me. Does any of it matter? You've told me what we're up against. I don't care. If we don't work out, I'll count the hurt against what happiness we managed to grab, which I think could be considerable, and it'll all balance out to the positive. I believe that. I just wonder why you don't. I'll survive, Remus."

"You -- you are so infuriating sometimes!" he said. "Does it occur to you that maybe if you ended this I wouldn't?"

She stared at him. He bowed his head.

"I mean everything I say about hurting you, and keeping you from wasting your life," he said, more quietly now. "But I wouldn't fight this so strongly, Tonks, if I thought I could lose you and still believe my own life was worth very much."

"Remus, that's a horrible thing to say."

"I know. I know, I have Harry and the Weasleys and I guess Fleur comes with that package deal," he added dryly, and she smiled. "And I know it's not good to place so much faith in one person, and I know that you're human and fallible and flawed like everyone."


"Sorry. But...the thing is, I think you really would be able to handle everything we talked about this morning. I don't think you'd care that I couldn't work. I think you'd be happy that you could help me when I wasn't well. I think we might actually work. And that frightens me, Tonks, because if I had someone like that and fucked it up somehow -- "

She kissed him, hands holding the back of his head so that he couldn't pull away.

"I promise you," she said, "as an Auror and the woman you love, that there is nothing you could do to mess this up so badly I would walk away without first smacking you in the head and having a go at fixing whatever's wrong."

"Tonks, don't -- "

"I promise."

He pressed his forehead against hers and she felt his arms wrap around her, pulling her against him.

"I'd have gone mad giving you up, anyway," he said. She laughed and kissed him.

"Settled, then?"

"All right. Let me tell Molly, though, so she can stop glaring at me. And can I..." he bit his lip, leaning back.


"Listen, I promise never to ask you to change anything for me again," he said. "But brown hair looks terrible on you."

She smiled. "You hated pink hair on me."

"Yeah, but...well, that was before I got used to it," he said. "You needn't if you don't want to, of course. And I'll have to be gone soon anyway -- I need to get news from the ferals, and I'm sure Kingsley and Arthur will want me to run a few errands. I mightn't be back for a week or two."

She kissed him. That was Remus -- an offhanded compliment and then running away. He was sometimes such a fifteen-year-old that it hurt.

"Next time you see me I'll wear pink hair just for you," she said. Something dull in his eyes sparked to life.

"I love you," he said. She laughed and ruffled his hair.


[identity profile] 2006-03-10 05:06 pm (UTC)(link)
I loved this story...

I did notice however that in the second section Lupin says he has never met Harry, but didn't Harry come on vacation with them in the first part? If so they met, just when he was really young.

[identity profile] 2006-03-11 05:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Ah! Well caught. I will fix that, thank you. :)

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 05:16 pm (UTC)(link)
That was absolutely lovely. :)

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 05:27 pm (UTC)(link)

You're one of the few authors who don't make me want to die when I read Remus/Tonks (trust me, that's a high compliment). I love the way you'ved paired them, making him overcome that "OMG I knew her when she was still doing cartwheels in the front garden" issue, and in a believable way.

Thanks again for yet another wonderful story, Sam. Truly a joy.

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 05:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Sam, oh Sam! This is absolutely lovely. And do you know what might have been my very favorite moment amidst the many favorite moments? Remus's angry tirade about her airing their private business. I love anything that blends seamlessly with canon, and that moment - simple though it was - worked perfectly for me. This is definitely getting added to my recs page at the next update.
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[identity profile] 2006-03-10 05:31 pm (UTC)(link)
I really love your viewpoints. I can't pick a quote that I like the best, so I'll just squeee.

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 05:51 pm (UTC)(link)
You have a wicked knack for making me fall in crush with your characters—Sirius in CC, for one—and now I'm swooning over this Remus. Sigh.

If [Sirius and Lily] pretended long enough, they probably would forget they were pretending.

The only thing I ever got out of AA—fake it 'til you make it—and one of the most useful strategies in my life-skills toolkit.

"Hating myself for surviving is nothing new," he said.

Oh, ouch, Sam. Fucking ouch. I refuse to cry at work, you bastard.

...this was the kind of price you paid for having twice the dating pool as people who only fancied one gender.

I also refuse to burst into peals of knowing laughter. I am turning purple with the effort, I hope you know.

I actually stopped shipping Remus and Tonks after HPB, either out of sheer bloody-minded contrarianism or protest at how clumsily JKR handled it, but you and [ profile] fernwithy can still make me believe it. Four stars.

[identity profile] 2006-03-11 05:38 pm (UTC)(link)
Does the guy across the hall from you think you're, uh, adjusting your Mac Mini again? :D

Glad you enjoyed it. I think it was easier for people who've written R/T to adjust to it being canonical, because we've already built their relationship in our heads. If that makes sense. Because I'm not particularly an R/T shipper except that...well, [ profile] setissma's law says that it is best to ship two characters who are still canonically alive, and R/T beats R/Snape through sheer hygiene.

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[identity profile] - 2006-03-11 19:48 (UTC) - Expand

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[identity profile] 2006-03-10 05:56 pm (UTC)(link)
That. Is perfect.

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 06:16 pm (UTC)(link)
This is why I don't understand how Remus/Sirius shippers could be so upset at Remus/Tonks, you make a perfect case for their compatibility in cannon!:) I love both of them, and I love how you handled them in a way that was both "cannon behind the scenes" and still very much your style.

"I don't think it needs to come to that. If we went round killing everyone who'd dumped me it'd be like some kind of horrible independent film"

That line just owned!

Really, it's fics like this that make me wish so desperately that once book seven is out and about, JKR's next step will be recruiting you as a writer for some sort of "Here's the character development you didn't see!" book.

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 06:21 pm (UTC)(link)
One minor edit needed: " "heard-shaped" should be "heart-shaped," instead.

That minor quibble aside, I just have to say this: God, if only Rowling wrote Remus and Tonks this well... A beautiful, lovely story. Thank you so much.

[identity profile] 2006-03-11 05:36 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks for the fix! Glad you enjoyed it :) there had better be some decent R/T in book seven or I WILL KNOW THE REASON WHY. :D

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 06:26 pm (UTC)(link)
*snuggles* Oh, Sam. Never one to disappoint.

Except that I'm almost positive in five that Tonks says she was never a Prefect because she couldn't behave..

[identity profile] 2006-03-11 03:11 am (UTC)(link)
Your icon killed me. :)

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 06:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Very good, sweet and an interesting way at looking how their relationship developed. I like it.

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 06:34 pm (UTC)(link)
That is the FIRST truly believable and sympathetic Tonks I've seen in this situation. Excellent, excellent job.

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 06:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Eee! You're so good at R/T it's frustrating. I still love the cookie line about falling in love, and his eventual response is just as cute.

It's spelled condescension, and her name is Emmeline, I think.

What a lovely thing to come home to on lj for the start of spring break!

[identity profile] 2006-03-11 05:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Augh! Thanks for the fixes. Glad you enjoyed it :)

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 06:49 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, I LOVED this story. Love. Utter. Just. [adores] It was wonderful and sweet and flowed really well. You always make relationships in the book make total sense, even when in the story itself, they might be less highlighted.

However, one thing: "Yeah, I was a Prefect and all [...] Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Tonks say that she wasn't a Prefect in book 5, because she kept getting into trouble?

Oh, and I LOVED this bit: "Bisexual is not synonymous with lack of impulse control," she replied. "Besides, how do you know I'm not?"

He considered this, quite seriously, even as the rest of his brain was screaming at him to bolt.

[snk] YES. It's so great to see that fond sexual fantasies are still intact, even during intense moments. Hee, it was hilarious. This was such a great story to read, I'm so glad you wrote it!

[identity profile] 2006-03-11 05:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Ah! Well caught, I've gone back and taken the prefect thing out. Thanks :) Glad you enjoyed it!

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 06:59 pm (UTC)(link)
You won my adoration three years ago with your post-OotP R/T.

You've only reaffirmed it with this.

And made me unable to work until I finished it.

Thanks! ;)

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 08:07 pm (UTC)(link)
"Fleur's an idiot, Tonks."


Really like this. I love your angsty-Remus, how he's got a bit of anger and some splendid unpleasant coping mechanisms. Well done.

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 08:17 pm (UTC)(link)
"I promise you," she said, "as an Auror and the woman you love, that there is nothing you could do to mess this up so badly I would walk away without first smacking you in the head and having a go at fixing whatever's wrong."

I love you so much for this line. Tonks knows it's going to be difficult, but she promises to try to work through whatever they may face. It adds the final note of reality to the story. The issues they face won't go away just because they are together. I can see why Remus would need to hear this assurance before he finally accepted that they might be able to have a real relationship.

[identity profile] 2006-03-11 05:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Yep. I think Remus is terribly afraid of ever being "left behind" -- which you can't really blame him for, given that in one day three of his best friends were killed by the fourth....

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 09:09 pm (UTC)(link)
HBP was my favorite book in the series, and although R/T took me by complete suprise, I really enjoyed the idea of it, and just wished we could have seen a bit more of it - I get that it's major purpose was to be a red-herring, which is fine. It was a good one; certainly no one expected it!

Anyway, this fills in the missing bits beautifully. I loved it. :)

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 09:17 pm (UTC)(link)
"I'm not messing about. I'm in love! It's awesome, you should try it," she added, quite seriously.

that is SO tonks.

and i've often considered the fact that lupin could have known her as a child. you made it un-creepy, well done! XD
ext_13504: Kara Thrace, Starbuck, BSG (Kermit the Frog)

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 09:46 pm (UTC)(link)
*Squee* claps and jumps and hugs. I love the way you portray R/T, you just do it so perfectly! wonderful fic.

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 09:58 pm (UTC)(link)
*waves icon around*

:D I loved how this wove around all the books. Perfect. Especially the pink hair.

"He was in so much pain, Tonks. And so lonely, he would hardly let me near him. Harry was his whole life but he wasn't even thinking of Harry, he was thinking of some kind of...James substitute. He was mad. He was completely mad and my Sirius died fourteen years ago so I'm glad that whoever that Sirius was is gone, which is horrible, and poor Harry, but -- "

That was heartbreaking. ;_; You'd better write some R/S to make up for it, Sam~! Or I could just, you know, go re-read practically any of the HP fics you've written ... XD

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 10:15 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh my dear Cooper, you made me happy in the heart. I could really fall in love with your Remus and have a boatload of little whatever comes out.
The sentiment was incredible, I felt Tonks love for him. I have to say loved the girl for sticking up for what she wanted, Remus did not stand a chance.
Thanks for sharing this, like always let me tell you I really love your writings.

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 11:20 pm (UTC)(link)
oh beautiful. you can make me like any pairing at all. this was lovely. the characterization and adhesion to canon blew my mind!! ^_^

[identity profile] 2006-03-10 11:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Mmmm, I like it!

Particularly good bits: Remus finding thestrals beautiful, buy you an ice cream (adult version), and Moody's lecture. :D

[identity profile] 2006-03-11 12:02 am (UTC)(link)
*there then sounded the loudest SQUEE*

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