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Epitaph of a Good Man by toomanycurls
Chapter 6 : Bizarre Love Triangle
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 23

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 Word seemed to spread through the Order like wildfire that Remus and I were pseudo-dating. Even Moody gave me a hard time about it when we traded shifts in the morning.

“Heard about you and Lupin,” Moody muttered in a low voice, causing me to jump. He was under a disillusionment charm and I was under the invisibility cloak.

“Bloody hell,” I managed after resisting the urge to shout. Calming down a bit, I added, “It’s not like you to pay attention to the personal lives of those around you.”

“Missions aren’t personal,” he rumbled.

Even with neither of us being visible, I could tell he was giving me that look – half appraising and half disappointed with some mistake I’ve made. “Either way, better keep that eye of yours pointed away from my room,” I whispered, holding in the laugh that nearly followed. He didn’t bring Remus or my choice in pretend boyfriends up again as we swapped places for guard duty.  

No one at work, aside from those in the Order, were privy to the name of my supposed love-interest so my days were free from discussions of Remus and I. It was a small mercy that Dawlish decided to lay-off his creepier behaviors - I think Scrimgeour finally said something to him about his actions. I noticed that he would stare avidly whenever he passed by, but the lewd remarks stopped.

Molly invited me (via Arthur) to dinner that Wednesday. It made for a nice change to see everyone when I wasn’t upset, making up a spectacular lie, or otherwise distressed. Dinner was an enjoyable event. Harry told a bit more about his broomstick and I considered saving up for a newer model. Fred and George were talking in covert whispers while sitting apart from the rest of us - I had a suspicion that it was something that would cause another yelling match between them and Molly. It appeared that the kids didn’t know about Remus and me and I wasn’t in a mood to tell them either. Hermione asked me what I do at work, and I explained that I pretend to hunt for Sirius. Then looking around I realized he wasn’t there.

“Where is Sirius?” I asked looking around. Harry’s face seemed to fall slightly then said that he was up with Buckbeak. Sirius came down 20 minutes late with a look of manic cheer that did not suit him. The rest of us chatted throughout dinner but he remained quiet and moody when no one directly engaged him in convesation. I entertained Ginny and Hermione by changing my hair to different people’s hair, even getting Ron to laugh when I sprouted a long white beard.

Later on when the kids went to bed, Remus sat down next to me and handed me a cup of tea. I thanked him and took a sip – it was perfect. Molly excused herself and went off to bed, Arthur followed close behind her.

“I think we should go over our story,” Remus said without any preamble. I had been contemplating this since Dad invited us over. We made up a list of things we should know, including where we met, things we like to do together. Sirius suggested we say shagging but Remus and I didn’t want to go with that one. I noticed Remus’ ears glowing red after that comment and wondered if he had considered shagging me.

Remus and I were almost done with our list of information about ‘us’ when Sirius asked, “What about physical stuff?” I must have looked puzzled because he clarified, “Birthmarks, for one. Then snogging and what not. They’ll at least expect you to hold hands.”

“We’re not going to snog in their living room,” Remus said quickly and Sirius laughed loudly. He evidently found Remus’ reaction to this idea quite amusing. Sirius went up to bed leaving Remus and I there to hash out the ‘physical’ aspect of our deception.

“I agree with you about the snogging,” I said quietly. We were both huddled over the same parchment like two students reviewing for an exam. I glanced at Remus, seeing the worry lines on his face. “Thank you for doing this,” I said softly. He looked at me and I felt like I could have fallen into his amber eyes.

Our faces were mere inches apart when Molly came down the stairs in her bathrobe on and let out a gasp of surprise. “Sorry, I thought everyone was in bed,” she said, blushing slightly. “I left my book down here,” she added before grabbing her book and departing. Our gaze, broken after Molly came in, returned to the parchment rather than each other.

“Some kissing, though nothing drastic, would be expected,” Remus said matter-of-factly then he added, “And you don’t have to thank me, I’m happy that I can help.” I smiled up at him while he took my hand and held it in his. Holding it tenderly he rubbed my hand with his thumb, and gave it a squeeze.

“Do you want to come back to my place tonight?” I said softly in his ear, desperately hoping he’d agree. Our eyes met and I saw the same desire in his eyes that was devouring my heart. I leaned in to kiss him and he didn’t try to stop me. His hand was soon resting against my face so that his fingers were on the back of my neck while his thumb caressed my cheek. I couldn’t quite tell you how long we were kissing but with the abruptness of a strike of lightning, he pulled away.

“I-- we can’t do this,” he said in a pained voice. “It’s fine that we’re ‘dating’,” with finger-quotes for emphsis, “But it’s not a good idea to really date. I’m—”

“You’re what?” I asked heatedly. “Too old? A werewolf? That doesn’t matter to me, Remus.” I felt crushed, unable understand why he was using age and his wolfishness as reasons for us not to be together. I decided that it must be me he didn’t like - I was quite sure of it. “I should go,” I said in voice that couldn’t hide the sting of rejection or shame for raising my voice. I tapped the parchment and muttered, “gemlio,” before I walked out with the extra piece of parchment I made, my head bowed slightly.

I was severely distracted at work the next day. It seemed that Remus would only spend time with me on a ‘friend’ basis. Though his eyes kept telling me otherwise. I wanted to see him again before we went off to see my parents the next day. I sent him a memo:

“Hall of Knowledge, after work, Friday.”

There would be a few hour gap between getting off work and seeing my parents. I knew he’d meet me there because we still hadn’t looked up books on securing locations. I thought making it unplotable was a tad extreme, but there had to be some practical solution to my Dawlish problem.

He sent back a note saying he’d be there. The prospect of seeing Remus in a setting where we could talk carried me through my long night on Duty after which Moody came in to relieve me in the early morning. I went to change my clothes, turning to tell him not to watch with a cheeky grin. Work went remarkably better that day - Scrimgeour even said he appreciated the upswing in my work. I managed a strained smile until he turned away when I considered blowing a raspberry behind his back.

I left 20 minutes early to get to the Hall of Knowledge first, stopping by a bathroom to check my hair - it looked fine. Then I questioned myself as to why I was trying so hard to impress a man who wanted to be ‘just friends’. Marching into the Hall of Knowledge, I ignored the clerk. He wanted a word but I wasn’t in the mood for more werewolf shagging jibes. I had returned all of the books but the one called Physiology and Procreation of Werewolves which had useful diagrams.

Remus wandered in some 10 minutes later and walked up to the clerk and asked if he had seen a young woman with bright pink hair.

“Oh, the one with the book on shagging werewolves?” the clerk said loudly. “She’s over there.” Sinking into my seat, I could have hexed the man’s ears off. Remus came over, a smirk playing on his face, and sat down. Judging by his lack of questions about my werewolf book, he didn’t know I overheard the idiot-clerk.

We went through quite a few books together. We didn’t find anything that struck me as feasible, though a few were quite amusing. We settled on some good jinxes and if all else failed, I’d stay with Remus. That made me secretly hope someone broke in at least twice a week.

“Oh, and I’m coming over ever full-moon,” I said. It wasn’t a question, or a request. I had been thinking it over, and I abhorred the idea of Remus being alone during that time. “I’ll even bring food,” I said smiling. I gathered, mainly from my books, that raw steak is all he’d need while he was a wolf. Remus looked as if he had some objections but agreed nonetheless.

We apparated near my parent’s house and walked close together up to the house. Out of nerves, I straightened Remus’ collar and ran my hands down his sleeves, taking out the creases a bit.

“How many guys have you brought home?” he asked an anxious look on his face.

“To meet my parents? You’re the first,” I said taking his hand in mine. He smiled somewhat nervously at me as we walked up to the house. I took in a deep breath and I knocked on the door. Mum answered with a doll-like smile on her face; it was somewhat forced but still passable as nice. We sat down for tea. Dad and Remus talked about the Ministry - I chimed in when they mention something to do with the Auror office. I was quite content sitting next to Remus, our hands interlocked. Mum got up a bit into our visit and said she had to check on dinner.

“Would you like to help me, Nymphadora, dear?” I let go of Remus’ hand and gave his knee a quick squeeze before following Mum into the kitchen.

I stood behind the kitchen door listening to Dad tell Remus, “I haven’t seen Nymphadora look this happy in quite a long time.”

Remus responded, “She’s the one that’s brightening up my life.”

I turned around, my flushed at Remus’ words, to see Mom fussing over a salad. “What do you think?” I asked tentatively. 

“I should add another tomato,” she said contemplatively but when I didn’t respond she continued, “Oh, you mean about Remus?” I nodded and managed to hold in a sarcastic response. “He is nice, everything you said,” she said nicely. I had the feeling she was reserving her full judgment for later.

We sat down to dinner after a bit. Remus looked rather impressed by the spread. “The food looks wonderful,” he said appreciatively.

“You probably don’t get much in terms of cooking from ‘Dora,” Dad chuckled. I grinned while Mum looked ashamed of having a daughter that couldn’t cook.

“Actually,” Remus said with a slight smile, “Nymphadora makes a great bowl of oatmeal.” We all laughed, well, minus Mum. If there were a dementor that sucked out a person’s sense of humor, I would have suspected it to got to Mum. It was a bit strange for me to be in a group where everyone called me Nymphadora. I had to bite my tongue about that particular pet-peeve.

Dad took to Remus like a duck to water while Mum seemed to be resisting his quiet charm with difficulty. I wished that everything about that night were true, Remus and I dating him being introduced as my lover, but I pushed that thought to the back of my head. We left after dessert and walked a ways together before going to our respective flats.

“I think they like you,” I said happily. That seemed like a stupid thing to say, considering we weren’t really dating. I made a mental note to think, then talk.

Remus had his arm around me as we walked away from the house, and continued to do so when we were out of site from the house. “Your parents are really nice. I see where you get your household skills from,” Remus said, the corners of his mouth twitched. I laughed and said that I hoped he meant my Dad. We walked for a while around the neighborhood where I grew up. After a short walk and the burgeoning need to kiss Remus, I said I should go home. Wanting to avoid another awkward ‘just friends’ moment, I disapparated home to Elvis – at least he loved me.

I saw Remus a few days later at Grimmauld Place. Molly set a big to-do for Ron and Hermione, who were both named prefects. As a reward for his prefect status, Ron received a new broomstick which was excitedly telling everyone and anyone about it. Molly gushed over Ron and Hermione - It really seemed to make her happier than I had seen in quite a while. Harry had a sulky look that night, even though tried to be cheerful, but it wasn’t working. Sirius had the same look of false cheer at the party.

I was seated in between Moody and Kingsley. The three of us got into a conversation about Harry not being named prefect – I was sure that Dumbledore had his reasons but Kingsley made a good point that it would show confidence in the often ridiculed boy. Moody got up after a while and showed Harry something – it looked like a picture. Kingsley, who was keen on information from the first Order, called over and to him asking see it.

Moody thrust the photo at us while his magical eye followed Harry up the stairs. It rested at a spot upstairs and I wondered if it got stuck again. He muttered something about trouble and boggarts then rushed upstairs. Since Moody isn’t a quick rusher, Remus made it up the stairs first and Sirius was close behind him. I stayed down in the kitchen with the rest of the gang, our conversations pausing for a few moments then picked up in full speed. Ron was still going on about his broom.

Sirius, Moody and Remus came back downstairs after 10 or so minutes. Remus and Sirius looked pale - Moody seemed preoccupied too. I shot them a quizzical look, but Remus gave a small shake of his head, which told me ‘ask later’. I didn’t get a chance to ask him about it, but Moody filled me about the boggart after Duty a few nights later. Remus left to go to bed before I could talk to him about anything, or us.

Going to King’s Cross the next day was quite an event. Moody was in charge of the luggage while Molly, Arthur, Remus and to my surprise Sirius walked the kids to the station. I joined them a short ways into their trip. I was on my guard, knowing we were vulnerable out on the streets. Sirius was being a prat by running around and barking. Remus looked extremely aggravated at his bold behavior, as did Molly. When we arrived at the station, I sighed with relief until I saw the Malfoys and became tense again. I looked from Lucius’ face to Sirius-the-dog and saw a gleam in his eye. He leaned over and whispered something to his son. I held back a dirty look with great effort. That man spoiled my aunt Narcissa against muggle-borns and muggles. According to Mum, she had been on the fence about the whole muggle-born thing before she paired up with him.

Ron, Harry, Hermione, Ginny, and the twins were about to board the train. I was a bit down to see them go as they had been great to get to know over the summer. I hugged Ginny and Hermione and said my goodbye and settled on a wave to the guys. Sirius hugged Harry on his haunches - I was tempted to tell him to knock it off, but quite a few people were watching the rambunctious dog. Molly whispered a harsh admonition at him which he seemed to disregard it altogether. Remus looked as if he was barely holding in a lecture for Sirius.

After the train departed and parents started to leave, Remus grabbed Sirius by the scruff of his neck and started in on a whispered lecture while they left. I made a note to steer clear of Grimmauld Place that night as they’d be at each other for hours. Molly and Arthur left together, looking a little punch-drunk at the prospect of having alone time again. I imagine that their first night without the kids would be an exciting one. I turned and saw that Mad-Eye and I were the only ones from the Order still at the station.

“Do you want to do lunch?” I asked Moody.

After a busy summer with the Order, I was used to always being around people. I thought it’d be too much of a social shock to go from one extreme to another. Moody looked at me as if trying to decide if this was a cleverly disguised attack, or a genuine attempt to socialize. He concluded the latter and agreed.

As we were dressed as muggles, I thought it’d be nice to have a muggle favorite: take-out Chinese food. I ordered as Moody was a complete novice when it came to Chinese food. I suggested we take it back to my place, only being a few blocks away. It was surprising how curious Moody was about the muggle world. He wasn’t outwardly inquisitive, but he always looked around, observing his surroundings. I noticed he would look me over every few minutes as if he were determined to memorize all of my features.

When I opened the door to my flat, I regretted bringing Moody there. It was a mess. I’m one of those people that takes their clothes off and they land where they land and remain there for a period. I took my wand out and waved it at my heap of clothes, causing them to vanish into my closet. Then I realized that Moody could still see them if he wanted to.

We sat down on my couch, using the coffee table instead of our laps. I turned on the WWN for noise in case Moody wasn’t in a talkative mood. We ate in silence for a few minutes and I took in the various scars and old injuries still visible on Moody’s face and hands.

“How did you lose your eye?” I blurted out. He told me once that his eye was lost during a duel not long after Voldemort was captured but it seemed like there would be more to the story.

Moody stared at me appraisingly as he took a bite of his General Tso Chicken. With a gulp, he started to explain. “Hunting down one of the last known Death Eaters after Voldemort fell – Rosier,” he said with a scowl. “Six days in and I located his hideout but he was keen to my presence – three of them and me.”

I let out an involuntary gasp, unable to imagine walking into that kind of fight, much less walking out.

“In the end I took out three of them but they did get some of me in return.”

It turned out that Moody had a lot of battle stories and he talked about them during lunch. I asked him questions about each battle and some of his prominent scars. He was very intriguing, much more so than I had considered before. Moody seemed like an old war hero, having earned all of his scars as testaments to his bravery.

I put my hand on his leg and said, “You are really courageous.”

I leaned in closer to Moody kissed him softly and I was surprised how responsive he was. He pulled me in to a deep, passionate kiss. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting things to go like that but welcomed the returned affection – even if it was from an unexpected source.

A/N: The chapter summary and title are from Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order. I’d love any feedback or thoughts on the story so far!

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