Chapter 1 : Deeply and Irrevocably in Love
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“You see!” My tightening throat strangled my voice. “She still wants to marry him, even though he’s been bitten! She doesn’t care!”
“It’s different.” Remus said, his entire body going rigid as his eyes suddenly avoided mine. “The cases are completely—”
“But I don’t care either, I don’t care!” I cried wildly, grabbing the front of his robes in attempt to shake sense into the stubborn man. “I’ve told you a million times…”
“This is…not the moment to discuss it,” he said distractedly looking around the room. “Dumbledore is dead…”
- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The world felt emptier already. Albus Dumbledore had only been dead a few hours, but a heavy gloom had fallen upon the castle. After Minerva McGonagall left with Harry, the rest of us had fallen into hushed whispers, fearful of talking in louder tones. I was unsure how to react. I had seen death before—it was one of the nastier aspects of my occupation—but losing Professor Dumbledore had been an enormous blow to the Order. We were lost and leaderless, not to mention, in disarray after Snape’s betrayal.
Involuntarily, my eyes flickered up to the somber figure in the corner. Although my body ached with weariness and fatigue, my skin still tingled, hyper-aware of him. We were the only two left in the Hospital Wing; one by one, all the others had eventually filtered out – with the exception of Fleur who had fallen asleep beside poor Bill. My lone companion had his face in his hands, making him look more utterly hopeless than I could bear to witness. I let out a large sigh, expelling the silence and chill that had crept into my very bones.
Remus looked up at the sudden noise and our gazes locked. In an instant, I felt warmth spread through me. It swelled throughout my entire body, down to my numb fingers and toes. I felt the courage to, perhaps, chance a smile. The world didn’t seem so dark anymore.
And then he looked away with a nervous cough.
I sighed again, this time in frustration.
“Remus you can’t keep avoiding me!” I was surprised at how hoarse my voice was. I blinked rapidly, expecting tears, but oddly, none came. I supposed I was in shock at tonight’s events, but I was usually quicker at processing things.
“Tonks, I don’t want to—”
“Stop it!” I hissed.
“What?” He was genuinely confused, but his expression was guarded, just as it had been every other time he had looked at me since the night I told him I loved him. We had been growing closer when, all of a sudden, he had shut down. As two of the few single, and living, members of the Order, I’d thought we had bonded, he even admitted it himself. I would have accepted it if he did not feel the same for me, but he had.
He didn’t want to be with me because he thought he was too dangerous.
He certainly thought a lot of himself, this one.
It was preposterous to imagine that this man, whose slight problem that caused him to become indisposed once a month, could be more perilous for my health than the Death Eaters I fought on a daily basis. Even I became dangerous once a month and I seriously doubted that he was more of a threat during his “time of the month” than I was. At least he had an excuse to be: he turned into a non-human creature. I became a monster once a month while still being human. We could prepare for his vulnerable time; mine would always sneak up on us unawares.
“Stop calling me ‘Tonks’!” I answered, glaring at him.
“But it’s what you ask everyone to—”
“Yes everyone,” I said, “Everyone except you. Remus, you have never called me ‘Tonks,’ so don’t you dare start now!”
I walked up to him so that we were barely a hand span apart.
“Don’t you dare start now,” I whispered.
He tried to push me away. “Tonks, stop, I—we—can’t—”
I pulled the front of his robes towards me, unwilling to let him run away again. We were going to settle this once and for all. He was going to get over his crazy ideas and we were going to be happy. Or so I hoped…
Our foreheads gently touched as I pressed closer, and his eyes closed in reverie. “Dora,” he implored in a whisper.
“Shh, don’t think, don’t speak.”
I reached up on the tops of my toes and pressed my lips against his. The kiss swept through me, leaving me trembling in its wake. Our mouths moved against one another’s in perfect rhythm. I never wanted the moment to end; I never wanted to live in a world where I could not feel this wondrous sensation again.
He was the first to pull away. To my horror, he had regret written all over his face.
“You’re upset,” I choked on the words as they rose in my throat. “You’re upset about kissing me!”
I stepped backwards, tripping over the hem of my jeans as I went. In a mortifying crash, I fell. I lay sprawled on the ground with my eyes shut, praying to wake up and find out it was just a dream. I heard a quiet chuckle and I closed my eyes tighter, trying to block out the humiliation.
Eventually, though, I had to face him. He offered his hand to help me up, but I pushed it aside. I didn’t need someone who would regret kissing me, who could regret the feel of my lips on his. If he didn’t want this thing between us, then neither did I. I would get over him in time.
I turned to leave the room, but he gently caught my arm and spun me around to face him. When I refused to look at him, he placed a finger under my chin and lifted my head up.
“Dora,” he said softly, “Please don’t tempt me any further. You have pushed my self-restraint as far as it will go tonight.”
“You underestimate yourself,” I said, words tumbling out of my mouth at an alarming pace. “I love you and—wait!”
He had begun to turn away, but I would not lose my last chance to make him see.
“I love you. I know you don’t think that you’re worthy of it, or some other noble gesture, but you are. You are kind and funny—plus, you have that whole rugged look going for you.”
He smiled, amused.
“And you laugh at my terrible jokes. You put up with my clumsiness. You understand people in a way that no one else takes the time to—not to mention the fact that you have a little mischievous side. People underestimate you because you underestimate yourself. You refuse to see what I can see, the thing that Sirius, James, and Lily could see. You are an amazing man, Remus Lupin, and I will not let you wither away in the dark. I know—know—”
Here I stumbled for the first time in my speech. I looked at him, fumbling for words and gesticulating with my hands.
“I know that I’m just this little, naïve girl, but maybe—just maybe—you could bring yourself to see more. I have fallen deeply, and irrevocably, in love with you Remus and I don’t know if I would be able to recover if I ever lost you. Not that I have you or anything! I’m just saying…” I trailed off, smiling sheepishly.
The anguish and pain on his face was enough to twist my guts into impenetrable knots.
“Dora,” he began, taking my hands into his, “Do not ever doubt for a moment that I love you. Never. But you do not understand how dark and broken I am.”
I opened my mouth to speak, but he raised a hand to silence me.
“If it is not my being a werewolf, then it is my very person. I am old, aged beyond my years by my lycanthropy. I could never ask you to spend your life with man growing more and more aged by the day. I already look old enough to be your father—I know you say it doesn’t bother you—but would you really feel comfortable introducing me to your friends? You are young; you should be having fun and enjoying life while you can. You should find someone young and whole enough to be with you, someone with whom you can travel and see the world. You deserve the best, Dora, and I, unfortunately for me, am not the best.”
“Remus, you’re not the only one who has been unnaturally aged.” His brow furrowed at my words. “I entered this war when I was twenty-two years old. I trained to be an Auror even before that. I have seen horrors that would destroy most people my age. My generation is not like yours. We never had to band together in school to fight a rising terror. We grew up thinking we were invincible; most of us still think that. Those of us who now don’t—me, Bill, Charlie—we had to grow up really quickly because we were brought into this war. You may think our age difference is huge and scary, but you’re one of the few people who I can relate to. We’ve both seen losses and we’ve both had to fight against prejudices—remember what my mother’s family is?
“In times like these, we have to hold close the ones we love because they are the ones who give us strength. Do not push me away because you are afraid of what other people will think.”
Remus closed his eyes.
“I’m too poor for you…”
It sounded like a desperate excuse. We both knew that he was running out of reasons to throw at me. Ultimately, it would come down to whether or not he wanted me.
When he opened his eyes, they were so full of misery that I had an insane urge to grab him and kiss the laughter back into him.
“You don’t know what it was like last time,” he said, his voice drenched in agony. “You were too young to remember the gripping fear at the height of Voldemort’s power. You never had to watch the people you loved most die—”
His voice cracked and single tear formed in his right eye. I could see the glistening drop. I could also see how hard Remus worked to keep it from rolling down his face. It made me sad to realize how hard he fought for everything; it made me miserable to think of what I was doing to a man who had already suffered so much in his still-young enough life.
“Remus,” I said softly, taking his face in my hands. I brought my mouth to his once more. This kiss was different from the first; it was more desperate. He was needier, asking me for something, and I tried to give him everything I had. I wrapped my arms around his neck, exploring the hair at its base. I was dimly aware of how sweaty my palms were and I wondered if it disgusted him, but the feel of his lips drove my mind into oblivion.
This time when we broke apart, we were both panting. His eyes had darkened and he was looking at me in a way that made me feel…like a woman. I blushed slightly, looking down at the ground and scuffing my right shoe against the floor. I took my time in bringing my gaze back up to him; when I did, it was hard to suppress a smile.
“Dora,” he murmured, pressing his cheek to my temple and drawing me closer to him, his hands on my waist. “Oh, my Dora.”
“I’ve always been yours,” I whispered as I buried myself in him.
He sighed, “I don’t know if I can do this…after James, Lily…and Sirius…I don’t know if I could stand…if I ever lost you.”
“You won’t,” I promised. “I swear on The Weird Sisters, that I will stay with you until the end.”
“Well, in that case…” he teased, a lovely smirk gracing his face. He pressed his lips to the top of my head, and for the first time in a long time, I felt truly at peace.
“Oh, shut up,” I chided, placing another kiss on his lips. “But in all seriousness, I want this far too much; I would never be able to leave you…in any sense of the word.”
“Good,” he murmured softly. “You’ve signed a pact with a werewolf: you’re mine now.”
I pulled back in mock horror, “Wait, you’re a werewolf? I can’t be with you; what was I thinking?”
His eyebrows skyrocketed into his hairline.
I winced, “Too soon to joke?”
I began to swing my arms awkwardly in the heavy silence. My mind cast around for something to joke about in order to lighten the mood.
I nestled myself back into Remus’ arms.
“So,” I said slowly, “I take it you’re not a fan of The Weird Sisters?”
“No,” he said firmly. “I cannot accept the fact that hairy men shrieking at the top of their lungs are considered musicians.”
“Huh,” I feigned nonchalance. “Of course, you are the expert in music…especially considering what I found in your flat the other day…that’s really first-class music…”
“They were in style when I was at school!” he insisted, his hands still on my waist.
“The Kneazles were never in style, no matter when you went to school,” I giggled. “I don’t know how James and Sirius let you hang around with them.”
“I think it must have been my—what was it?—‘rugged’ looks.”
“Oh, you’re funny! It must have been your irresistible sense of humor…”
“Must be…” He leaned in to kiss me again and I eagerly returned it. We kept going, becoming deeper and deeper entwined in each other, unaware of our surroundings…and, apparently, of our audience.
“Oy, get a room you two! This is a hospital wing…only available for mauled victims and the sort.”
We gracelessly knocked heads; I pulled away clutching my left eye, Remus his nose.
“Sorry,” I muttered. Only I would be able to turn such a sweet moment into a painful experience.
“It’s alright,” he said calmly, pinching his nose to stem the flow of blood. Looking over at me, he must have saw how devastated I was because he attempted to smile. “Don’t worry; I’ll set aside a small fund to pay for the hospital visits that are bound to come up by being in a relationship with you.”
I should have been more horrified at his already tight purse being pulled tighter, but I was too euphoric over his use of the r-word.
“‘Relationship’?” I asked him coyly.
“Of course, that’s what we’re in, aren’t we?” He grinned broadly at me, and I had to prevent myself from jumping up and down in glee.
“Well, if you say so, Professor Lupin,” I said, sidling back up to him. He scrunched his nose in distaste.
“‘Ow eez he supposed to get any sleep eef you won’t stop talking?” Fleur had now woken up and was glaring furiously at us while adjusting the sheets on Bill’s bed. He waggled his eyebrows suggestively at us over her shoulder.
We both muttered our apologies and headed for the door. When we reached the threshold, Remus offered me his arm. I took it gladly and stepped into the hallway.
A/N: Thanks to Broken_Innocence at the HPFF forums and Elysium at TDM for beta-ing this...your help was vastly appreciated.
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