Tonks landed with a skid on the gravel road that ran along the shore. With a big sigh of satisfaction, she dismounted her broom and took in the scene before her.
Remus Lupin had taken up residence in a small cottage along the coast of Scotland. She smiled, breathing in the salty air that brushed off the sea, she was happy. Finally, Remus had a place where he could find peace and freedom from pain. The Second War was over, they all could rest now.
The location of the cottage was disclosed to only a few members of the Order for the sake of Remus’s own privacy. Tonks was not included in that few. It hurt, she could not deny that, but she found satisfaction in knowing that she was able to squeeze out the location from Kingsley Shacklebolt, who agreed in thinking that a visit from Tonks would do the werewolf some good.
He’s going to be right pissed when he finds me on his doorstep, she thought, a devilish grin spread across her face.
Picking up her broom, she set off for the cottage that appeared as a mere speck along the shore. A storm was coming, the wind had become too violent for Tonks to fly through, she would have to walk the rest of the way.
The wind howled, whipping her mousy brown hair up about her head, kicking sand up in swirls around her feet as she walked. The black clouds inked the horizon as she looked out at the ocean beside her. She hoped that Remus would not take the storm as a bad omen of her arrival.
As the cottage came into view, she smiled at how quaint it was. It was small, with a thatched roof and a porch in the front with a lone bench. The stone chimney that crawled up the side emitted a stream of dark smoke and through the closed shutters on the windows, a warm glow shone through.
Finally, she reached the porch, just as the first spray of rain began to fall. She rapped on the door, there was a low growl of thunder from off in the distance. It was not long before Remus answered the door.
He looked at her with wide, surprised eyes. Tonks could feel her breath hitch at the sight of him. She was looking at the face of Remus Lupin, a man who had been absent from her life for almost three years.
But he was different from how she remembered him. His skin had acquired a fairly dark tan and his jaw was generously stubbled with a salt and pepper beard. The tan made the scars that marred his face stand out twofold, same went for the scars on his exposed forearms and she could only imagine where else. His hair was lighter from its expensive exposure to the sun and Tonks could see generous amounts of grey threaded through his light brown mane.
It was also the most casually dressed she had ever seen him. With a wrinkled Oxford shirt that was haphazardly buttoned only halfway, exposing his scarred chest, and sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He was also wearing a pair of black trousers that were rolled halfway up his calves, exposing his tanned ankles and bare feet.
“D—Tonks?” he sputtered. His eyebrows shot up into his light brown fringe.
“It’s raining! You going to let me in or what?” she asked, smiling.
“Oh, yes, sorry,” he said, stepping aside to allow Tonks entry into his home.
She stepped across the threshold, hearing the door click shut behind her. She grinned at how “Remus” the house was.
It was warm, the only light coming from the fireplace along the wall, and it was small, there being only two doors which Tonks expected lead to the loo and bedroom. The kitchen and sitting room were conjoined. Books littered the kitchen counters, the dining table, the sofa, the floor. The table in the kitchen was spread with pieces of parchment and several quills and ink wells.
“Well this is cozy!” she said cheerfully, propping up her broom against the nearby wall.
There were no photos on the walls or anywhere else. No photos to remind him of the family he lost and the past he bore. She heard him offer tea and nodded as she made her way over to the lumpy old sofa she recognized from his old apartment in London.
“Blimey Remus! You’d think with all the money the Ministry gave you after the War you’d buy yourself a more comfortable sofa!”
“I like that sofa,” he replied lamely. Tonks could hear the clank of mugs and sloshing of water, it wasn’t long before he returned with two chipped mugs of tea, he handed one to Tonks who took it gratefully.
He chose not to sit beside her, but instead sat in the leather armchair across from her that sat beside the fire, he awkwardly scooted it in Tonks’s direction as he sat. Tonks tried to ignore the feeling of another tear forming in her heart.
“Is everything alright?” he asked in an odd voice, jolting Tonks from her own thoughts.
“Yeah everything’s fine,” she said, “I just wanted to see you. It’s been…”
“A while,” he offered, giving her a lopsided smile. He took in a deep breath and looked down into the mug clasped in his hands, “it wasn’t anything personal Tonks, I assure you. The Ministry and the Prophet wouldn’t stop badgering me since the War ended, I knew they’d look to you if they wanted to discern my location, and the Ministry has their own ways of extracting information from their workers. Also I knew it wouldn’t take you long to discern my location anyway.” He gave her a wink at that.
Tonks nodded; a little irritated that Remus still wouldn’t admit that he had been deliberately avoiding her. “Yeah, the Ministry’s right pissed that a werewolf managed to slay more Death Eaters than most of their own Aurors did. We’ve all been trying to get them to back off you.”
He gave a dry chuckle. “A man’s entitled to his privacy and his peace. But I suppose according to them, I hardly qualify as a man.”
It was then something struck her, something she didn’t fully understand up until now. For the last three years Tonks had become so blinded by the idea that with Voldemort dead, it meant better lives for everyone. But this was not so. Remus was still a pariah in the wizarding world. She had loved Remus so blindly that she had forgotten what it was like to fear werewolves as something dangerous and inhuman.
The mug shattered in her hand.
“Here,” with a casual wave of his hand, the mug repaired itself and the tea disappeared from its new spot in Tonks’s lap. Remus stood and gestured for Tonks to hand him the mug. “I forgot to keep conversation light with you for the sake of my dishware,” he teased.
As she handed to mug to him, Remus gave her a strange look. It didn’t take long for Tonks to figure out why. Had they had this same conversation three years ago, Tonks would be standing up, pacing the room infuriated, assuring Remus that soon his kind would be accepted, that the laws would change and the Ministry would “get their heads out of their arses.” She wondered weather she had matured, or had grown as bitter and cynical as everyone else. Her hair seemed to think so. Ever since Remus ended their relationship, it simply refused to change color anymore, it knew the battle with him was over before she did.
“How’ve you been otherwise?” asked Tonks.
Remus just gave her a weak smile in reply, instead turning his head to look at the storm outside. The wind was rattling the windows now, the rain spraying against the panes. “It’s a shame you had to come here with the weather like this. The beaches are quite nice to walk along.”
“Oh I bet,” said Tonks, her voice cracking slightly.
She could feel it, her heart sliding out of its place in her chest, down somewhere near her stomach, which was threatening to expel her lunch at any moment. Small talk. When was the last time her and Remus made small talk? When they first met each other all those years ago in Grimmauld Place.
Suddenly she could feel Remus’s eyes on her. Looking up she saw the light of the fire light up his eyes in a way that made them appear quite feral, shining gold in the failing light. She wondered what he was thinking, looking at her now, how shriveled and worn she had become. It was the very thing Remus thought his absence would prevent. Was he now realizing how backwards he was?
Three years Tonks. The man’s lasted three years without you. Can’t you see you weren’t as important to him as he was to you?
Something snapped within her. Without realizing it, Tonks found herself darting from her seat, out the door, and hurtling into the storm outside, ignoring the sounds of Remus calling after her.
She didn’t get far before the wet sand began to slow her down to a complete halt on the road not far from Remus’s cottage. It wasn’t long before she felt two hands gently grip her shoulders and turn her around.
Tonks looked up into Remus’s eyes, half-masked by his sopping-wet fringe. He was panting slightly from the strain of chasing after her. “Tonks…”
“Don’t call me that!” she hissed, pounding her fists into Remus’s chest. Her head dipped foreword into him, he curled his arms around her into a tight embrace in what felt like a vain attempt to shield her for the storm that surrounded them now. “Dora. I want you to call me Dora like you used to…” she mumbled, knowing Remus wouldn’t be able to hear her.
She felt his hand begin to stroke her hair, she could hear his heart beating in his chest, the storm was gone now. She could no longer feel the rain pummel her back, but she knew it was still there. It was always there.
“I’m so sorry…” she heard him whisper. Then, she felt Remus take his hands and pull her face up to look at him, she couldn’t be sure, the rosy color of his nose and eyes could have meant that he had been crying as well. “You asked me how I feel?” she nodded, recalling he had given no answer. “Broken. I feel broken.”
Then, without warning, his face plunged into hers, eliminating the gap between their lips. It took a moment for Tonks to fully register that Remus Lupin was, in fact, kissing her. Something he had not done in quite some time.
“I’m broken Tonks,” he said as he pulled his face away from her slightly, only to dive in for a kiss more desperate and vicious than the last. When he pulled away again, “I thought time could fix me,” another kiss, “I thought solitude could fix me,” another, “this place, I thought this place could fix me,” their lips met again.
“But you, Nymphadora Tonks, only you can fix me. I know that now. Forgive me. I was so very wrong.” Another sob racked Tonks’s body. “I love you, Dora.”
She found Remus sitting on the sofa, staring intently into the fire as she exited the bathroom, running a towel through her hair. “Thanks for the change of clothes,” she said, causing Remus to jump slightly as he was jogged from his thoughts. “You know I should be a little upset that we’re almost the exact same size,” she tugged at the waistline of Remus’s pants that were hanging off her thin waist. “Well, except in height,” she gestured to the rolled-up cuff of her trousers and sleeves of her shirt.
Remus puffed out a laugh at that. He gestured for her to come sit by him and she gladly obliged, immediately feeling the oh-so familiar and comforting warmth of him beside her. He wrapped an arm around her and placed a chaste kiss atop her mouse-colored head.
“Is this my fault?” he asked timidly, running his fingers through her hair.
“You’re bloody well right it is,” said Tonks in mock anger. She turned her head to look up into his face and saw the hurt in his eyes, “as long as you don’t bugger-off again I’m sure it’ll come back.”
“The last thing I wanted to do was hurt you.”
Tonks bit back a scathing reply. She understood well enough why Remus did what he did, although she did not agree it was the best decision, it was his, and she had to respect that. Maybe it really did take three years of absence for Remus to realize just how much they needed each other.
“I know,” was all she could say. “Just please don’t leave me again…I don’t think I could bare it.”
“I won’t.” His resolve was clear in his voice and it made Tonks smile.
There was a loud crack of thunder but neither of them moved. The storm could rage all it liked but it didn’t matter now. They sat in silence, listening to the low crackle of the fire and the storm outside. Tonks soon began to feel drowsy and made to ask if the two could retire to bed.
“Remus.” Tonks turned to look up at him and found he had fallen asleep, eyes closed, his mouth slightly agape, his chest rising and falling in slow, even breaths.
She could feel the prickle of tears welling up in her eyes. She wasn’t upset. Not in the slightest. The man of her dreams, the man she loved wholly and completely, she was in his arms now, the place she knew she belonged.
Tonks wormed her arm behind Remus’s back and placed the other over his stomach, enveloping him in a snug embrace. She buried her face into his chest, letting the sound of his beating heart lull her to sleep.
The next morning Tonks would find her hair had become a beautiful shade of blue. It wasn’t as fun and vibrant as her typical pink, but it suited her now. It suited a Tonks that was wiser, calmer. It suited Dora. It suited Nymphaora Tonks Lupin.