Nymphadora Lupin lay wrapped in her sleeping husband’s arms. Her normally vibrant pink hair had dulled to a mousy brown by her dark thoughts. There’d been no word from Harry in quite some time. If he failed – if they all failed – what kind of world would her baby grow up in?
At least Remus is home tonight, she thought, in an attempt to cheer herself up. As the war escalated Remus was sent on more and more missions while Tonks was left at home to alternately worry about him and get angry with him for knocking her up in the middle of a war. As if sensing that he was the subject of her thoughts, Remus opened his eyes and blinked sleepily, letting a lazy smile pull up the corners of his lips.
“Sorry I woke you,” she whispered. He touched her face lightly, the sleepy grin still on his face
“I’ll never get tired of waking up beside you, Dora,” he said. As he reached up to run his fingers through her hair, he noticed its color and stopped. “What’s bothering you? Is it the baby?”
She thought about telling him for a moment. She thought about sharing what she was worried about, what it was that scared her, what made her angry; she wanted to tell him absolutely everything. But then she took one look at his lined faced, graying hair, and tired blue eyes and knew she couldn’t do it now, not while he was home and for such a short time at that. Maybe not ever. Tonks would do anything to keep from adding to his problems. Occasionally, she marveled at the fact that she was lucky enough to find a love like that.
Instead of giving him the answer she knew he wanted, she countered with another question. A distraction, yes, but something she’d always wanted to know. “Remus, who was the first girl you ever loved?”
“You,” was his immediate reply.
“Remus,” she whined, “I know there had to be other girls! At least flings at Hogwarts. Tell me about it. Please.” Tonks flashed her dark eyes at him and he sighed. He knew he would give in. He couldn’t ever say no, not to her.
“There were,” he acknowledged, “but only one that mattered.”
“Fine then! If you won’t-”
“Other than you.” Remus finished. The auror blinked at her husband in surprise. She’d asked, of course, and Tonks supposed she should’ve expected an answer, but she honestly didn’t expect to hear about anything more serious than a fling. “You’ll think me mad if I tell you who it was.” He said with a bland smile.
“Don’t worry, love, I already know you’re mad,” Tonks said mock-seriously. “Honestly, you can’t not tell me now! Is it someone I know?” She was truly curious now.
“Not personally, but you know plenty about her. She was one of my best friends in the entire world.” Remus’s eyes had taken on a faraway look, but his hand – the one he didn’t have tangled in his wife’s hair – moved down to absently rest on her rounded stomach. “For years, I was just one more bloke that had fallen in love with Lily Evans.” He watched the metamorphmagus, waiting for her response. The moment it clicked, it her eyes widened in shock.
“Harry’s mother? Our Harry’s mother? Your best friend’s wife?”
“Well, that was an emphatic statement,” Remus replied drily. “But yes, that Lily Evans. James never knew of course, and Lily had no idea how I felt until right after Harry was born. I never thought to act on it, not after hearing James whinge about how much he needed her for years.” Tonks took a moment to mull over her husband’s words before launching into her next set of questions.
“How long? Did she feel the same way about you?” Her words were tumbled out in quick succession, and Remus was pleased to note that her hair was returning to its pink hue. What a strange woman he had married, that would get excited over discussing his feelings for another woman.
“I fell in love with her in fourth year, I suppose, not long after she found out about my… condition. We were sitting in the library doing homework together – because Merlin forbid James and Sirius put effort into school – when she looked up at me and said, ‘Remus, why on earth didn’t you tell me you’re a werewolf?’ Being the brilliant witch she was, she had figured it out on her own. Without even waiting for me to answer, she went on to ask me what I got for number 4. After that, I realized I couldn’t take my eyes off of her anymore than James could.
“She told me later that until sixth year, she returned my feelings completely. But then…” He trailed off, unsure about how much he was willing to share. If he knew his wife at all, he would never live down what he was about to tell her next.
“Remus Lupin, if you leave me like that I will smother you in your sleep.”
“Then she kissed me.”
“Remus, remind me again why on earth we agreed to take a Friday night shift?” Lily groaned, leaning against the wall in an empty corridor and rubbing her eyes in exhaustion. It had to be well after midnight, and the two sixth year Gryffindor prefects were rather at their wit’s end. Professors had been hurrying through all of the last-minute curriculum before Christmas holiday, which meant they had been swamped in homework. On top of that, Lily had just come from the Slug Club’s Christmas celebration and was wearing a thin, formfitting muggle dress - which Remus couldn’t deny he appreciated – and uncomfortable black heels. In fact, when he went by the party to pick her up, the sight of the redhead in the black number had made him blush and look at his scuffed shoes.
“Because for some reason, Lils, you were feeling particularly benevolent when that Ravenclaw girl asked you to switch with her. If I remember correctly, you had ‘confiscated’ Sirius’ firewhiskey earlier that day,” Remus said as he stroked his chin and squinted his eyes thoughtfully.
“And what, exactly, are you implying, Lupin?” Lily pushed him playfully.
“Certainly not that you – top of the class, prefect, ultimate role model Lily Evans - did anything as untoward as drinking it yourself,” Remus replied cheekily. As Lily laughed, Remus took a moment to just observe the girl he loved. He loved the way her nose crinkled. He loved the way, with her cheeks stretched wide, her freckles looked as if they were dancing. He loved the way her brilliant green eyes squinched up. He even loved the way she snorted when something was particularly funny. Most importantly, though, he loved the way that he, quiet, shy, boring Remus, could make intelligent, focused, poised Lily Evans lose her composure and laugh as if she didn’t have a care a care in the world. In summation, he simply loved the Remus he was when he was with her.
“Oh shut up! I’ll have you know, it had been a stressful day,” she told him pompously. “And it isn’t as if you haven’t been caught completely smashed on school grounds with James, Sirius, and Peter! You’ve probably had more detentions than any other prefect to pass through Hogwarts! Which is quite ironic seeing as you are probably the absolute nicest person I know.” Remus flushed at her praise.
They continued patrolling in companionable silence for several minutes. “Are you cold?” Remus couldn’t help but notice that his fellow prefect had started to shiver.
“It’s this bloody dress. Utterly impractical!” Lily replied. Before she could say anything Remus was shrugging off his outer cloak and wrapping it gently around her shoulders. Their eyes met. Though he could see what was coming, he was frozen. Lily leaned forward – her heels ensured they were almost the same height – and pressed her lips firmly to his. She always had known exactly what she wanted and gone for it, so there was nothing tentative and unsure about this kiss. It was completely and totally unlike any other first kiss Remus had ever experienced. After a moment of shocked rigidness on Remus’s part, Lily moved her lips more insistently against his. And, like the teenage boy he invariably was, his body responded and he kissed back with equal zeal. His hands moved from her shoulders to her waist and she lifted her own hands to his neck. What are you bloody doing? A true Marauder would never break the code like this, an accusing voice that sounded eerily like James screamed in his head. At the thought of his best mate, he jumped back from Lily as if he’d been stung. Confusion clouded her face, but she didn’t realize she’d been rejected, not yet. Remus felt sick.
“You can’t do that!” He blurted out the first words he thought. Her eyebrows shot up towards her hairline.
“I said,” he took a steadying breath, “that you can’t do that. I didn’t want you to do that.” The lie tasted bitter in his mouth. He had no hard feelings towards James whatsoever, though. It just had to be done. “You belong to James.” He immediately realized it was the wrong thing to say. Her face immediately spoke of intense rage.
“I don’t belong to anyone, Remus Lupin! Especially not to James bloody Potter! I will snog anyone I want to, and quite frankly, I want to snog you!” He blinked at her bluntness. She was still seething, but he could see the beginnings of doubt on her face.
“Lily… I’m so sorry. I thought we were just friends. I…” He stopped, wondering how to reject the girl he’d loved for years. He opened his mouth to try something else, but stopped when he saw her face. Intelligent, focused, poised Lily Evans was looking at him - shy, quiet, boring Remus - as if he had slapped her. The hurt on her face was almost physically painful to look at.
But she was Lily Evans. After a moment she straightened her shoulders, flipped her hair, and forced a polite smile onto her face. “All right, then. Glad we cleared that up. I’m a bit tired and I know you are because the full moon is in three days, so why don’t we call it a night?” And they headed back to Gryffindor Tower, Lily with that strained smile and Remus looking for all the world as if he could die of shame. He was horrified with himself at the moment, but he knew that he would ultimately feel worse if he had begun a relationship with the girl James had been in love with since second year. It just wasn’t right.
They entered the common room. Remus walked Lily to the foot of the girls’ staircase. “Goodnight, Remus. And thank you for the cloak.” She handed the tattered cloak back to its owner, and Remus couldn’t help but notice it smelled the faintest bit like her strawberry shampoo.
“Goodnight. And you’re welcome, mate.” Her smile tightened even further, and she bounded up the staircase, eager to go to sleep and pretend this was all a nightmare. He watched until she disappeared, then groaned and dropped his head in his hands. Sometimes, being a good friend sucked.
However, when he reached his own room that he shared with his three best friends, he couldn’t help but feel lighter. He was a bit surprised to find the lights off. Usually James and Sirius were up much, much later than this, especially on a weekend. It made sense, though, as he looked and saw Sirius spread out over some parchment on James’s bed and James unconscious on Sirius’s. This wasn’t unusual. When Sirius fell asleep – sometimes Remus swore the boy had narcolepsy, the way he could fall asleep in the middle of a sentence – in the middle of a planning session, the boys generally just left him where he was. Clearly, tonight they had gathered on James’s bed.
As Remus thought about James and what kind of friend he was, the sick feeling in his stomach vanished. He knew he had done the right thing. Remus shrugged off the unassuming cloak and tossed it into his trunk before throwing himself onto his bed. That night he vowed to let the incident in the corridor become nothing but a pleasant memory, all he would ever have romantically from Lily. With a start, he realized he was okay with letting it be, and hoped that Lily would understand.
“You called her mate?” Tonks asked her husband, stifling her laugh. He sighed.
“I feared that was what you’d take from that story. I’d rather hoped you would see what a wonderful friend I was, refusing the girl I loved in the name of friendship.”
“What kind of wife would I be if I commended your loyalty instead of taking a perfectly good opportunity to tease you?”
“A good one,” Remus said mock bitterly. He then took on a wistful tone. “Lily Evans was never going to be happy with me. She deserved far better.” His wife quickly sobered.
“If you think you’re so terrible, what is that made you think I didn’t deserve better?” She asked indignantly. He hadn’t meant to say it because he knew how she felt when he spoke as of he was worth less than other wizards.
“Lily was the kind of person that deserved the likes of James Potter. Someone brave and kind, someone that could give her a nice home and more love than you could ever imagine. Basically, one of the best people I know. You, Dora, are someone that deserves a man at least as good as James Potter, but were too stubborn to accept that. Instead, you chose the old, boring, broken werewolf and I love you for it more and more every single day.” He enunciated every word clearly, and punctuated his sentence with a soft kiss. Her eyes welled up and her lip began to wobble as she pulled herself as close to him as could get, which wasn’t nearly close enough because of her very pregnant stomach.
“You were the best choice I ever made.” She said into his shoulder. As Remus looked down at the woman he loved – his entire world – he smiled to himself. The mousy brown hair that had been limply sticking to her face was once again a vibrant pink. He pressed a kiss to her bright hair and lay back down. He was lulled back to sleep by the even breathing of his peacefully slumbering wife.