N.B. I don't think sorry encompasses it... but I really am sorry! I have become exactly the kind of person I hate (who starts something and doesn't finish it!) But I'm afraid real life things have got in the way of my imaginary Harry Potter world (boo.)
Things may quieten down and I may be able to finish 'Love's Scars' but I'm really not making any promises. For those who read it, the final chapter was going to be headed by the quote: Hate leaves ugly scars, love leaves beautiful ones. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966 Hense the title (linkage to Lupin's scar's, you sees?!) Sigh. It was going to be beautiful...
ANYWAY, this is a one-shot that I wrote aaggeesss ago and that was going to be a filler between 'Love's Scars' and a story I planned to write about Ted and Victoire! Instead, it is an apology story. I hope you like it and again... I'm sorry.
His feet were soft on the lawn as he walked down to the lake. It was too dark to see much, but the sickle moon was enough to light the ripples that blew over the water. The last few hours seemed to pass in a horrific blur before his eyes, but the only thing he could focus on was one question… why?
He passed the looming silhouette of the old beech tree and almost didn’t notice the small figure scrunched at its base. She sat with her arms hugging her knees, her head bowed.
She hadn’t seen him. He could leave and she would never know. He should leave. Now was not the time. He would only cause her more pain.
Her shoulders quivered and Lupin realised she was crying. He took an unconscious step forward and then made his decision.
She looked up abruptly. He couldn’t see much in the dark except the dirty tracks of spent tears that ran down her cheeks. For a long moment she did nothing but stare at him, her lips were quivering, her eyes almost pleading, and then she turned her head away.
‘Wotcher,’ she trembled in a voice so sad it seemed to hurt Lupin physically.
‘Are you alright?’ Lupin asked.
She looked back to him, her eyes bitingly derisive and Lupin winced apologetically. No she clearly was not alright. Probably not in the slightest. Not even a little bit.
And then, to Lupin’s surprise, she began to laugh.
She laughed and laughed and even Lupin broke a smile. Nymphadora Tonks was crazy. Lovely, yes, but definitely crazy!
Why else would she want me? a voice murmured.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said.
‘For being such an ass?’
‘Don’t worry, I’m used to that!’ She grinned half-heartedly and got to her feet. Her voice was choked and as she came closer Lupin saw her eyes were puffy with tears. She looked tired. She looked defeated. But she still had that smile. There would always be that smile.
‘So,’ she said, ‘did you come to tell me he’s alright, that he’s not really dead?’ She didn’t stop smiling but when Lupin shook his head he was sure he could see something was breaking inside of her.
‘And I didn’t come looking for you. I just… found you.’
And it was true, Lupin thought, it was so true.
‘Oh,’ Tonks said. ‘Charming.’
Tonks shrugged and Lupin didn’t realise until she spoke that she was crying again. ‘It’s just…’ she whispered. ‘I never expected him to be gone, you know? …How could he leave us?’
Lupin stepped forward and in a moment Tonks was wrapped in his arms. He heard her quietly sobbing into his chest and closed his eyes, feeling her pressed against him.
He could never bring Dumbledore back but if he held her tight enough, perhaps he could take away her pain. Perhaps he could absorb it all, so he could suffer for her… that in the end was all he had ever tried to do.
But it hasn’t worked amazingly so far, has it? one side of his brain said wryly.
He knew it was wrong but a part of him just loved having her in his arms again. Because that was the terrible truth: he loved her. He loved her more than he had known it could be possible to love someone.
But that was precisely the reason why you had to -
Yes, that was why I had to mess her around, break her heart, drain her of her powers…
Tonks slowly became silent, but did not make any move away from him. ‘Thank you,’ she murmured to his chest.
She looked up at him.
Lupin was thinking of all the reasons that she should hate him, all the reasons she didn’t have to thank him. Surely one hug couldn’t negate all he’d done to her! But she looked up into his eyes and he didn’t have time to look away. And he knew she’d seen it.
He knew she’d seen in his eyes that even now, even months since they parted, he needed her more than he could say.
She closed her eyes and reached up to him.
It would’ve been the easiest thing in the world for him to let their lips meet. It was such a simple thing, really. One kiss. What was one kiss? He loved her, didn’t he? Didn’t he deserve it after all he’d been through? His whole body seemed to ache for that one touch…
But ‘no,’ he hissed, holding her gently away by the shoulders. He thought about saying more, but she’d heard it all before.
Too old, too poor, too dangerous…
For a moment he thought she would argue. Her mouth opened in an ‘o’ of protest and he could almost hear the pleading. But then her face relaxed and she closed her mouth.
‘No, no I guess not.’ She stepped backwards away from him and slumped slowly against the tree and down to the ground. ‘Would you sit with me for a bit, then? I promise I won’t assault you!’
‘Well, I suppose,’ Lupin smiled. ‘If you promise.’ He sat cautiously down next to her.
Tonks folded her legs. ‘Guess how many times I got sent to Professor Dumbledore in my first year at school.’
‘In your first year? Urm… five?’
Lupin smiled despite himself. ‘Is that really all? We had been sent to him three times in the first week!’
‘Well, it doubled in the second year.’
‘What about the third?’
‘Then it halved.’
‘Yes,’ Tonks nodded and Lupin chanced a glanced across at her. She wasn’t crying again yet. That had to be a good sign. ‘A few months in Dumbledore told me that he wasn’t angry about my messing around and that he was only disappointed. He said that if I didn’t begin working hard I would waste my talent and he would hate for me to be his biggest disappointment.’
Lupin pulled a hand through his hair but wasn’t sure what to say. ‘So you stopped with your pranks then?’ he said finally.
‘Well,’ Tonks said slyly, ‘Not full stop.’
This was what Lupin really enjoyed, what had he really missed, just chatting. Talking to Tonks didn’t even feel like talking sometimes, it just felt like they were just smiling together.
He chuckled. ‘I suppose being a Metamorphmagus does lend itself well to misbelieving.’
‘Yes. And I know Dumbledore didn’t feel disappointed in me after that.’
Lupin wondered momentarily what Dumbledore had thought of him. He remembered what Minerva had said and knew she had been right – all Dumbledore really wanted was more love in the world.
‘You know,’ Tonks said suddenly, ‘I’m a Metamorphmagus…’
‘I was aware, yes.’
‘Yeah, well, I can change everything, right?’ She was staring at her feet as though they were the most interesting things in the world. ‘My arms, my legs, my hair… my love of pancakes! But, but, when you left -’ She paused as though this was too painful to think about and then continued. ‘Well, when you left I realised that there is one thing, one thing that I could never change… no matter how hard I try.’
She didn’t look up. She didn’t ask anything of him, but Lupin knew he had been won. Perhaps he had decided the moment he’d seen her beneath the tree. Perhaps he had decided hours ago in the Hospital Wing. Perhaps he’d always known he would…
He reached out and touched her chin, turning her head to look at him. Her eyes searched his face; searched for an answer to the question she had never stopped asking of him.
She opened her mouth to say something but he didn’t wait to find out what she would say. He kissed her. He gently brushed his lips against hers, tentative, apologising, promising that they would never again have to part. His hand let go of her chin but held her cheek, praying this was not just another dream.
The smell of her, the touch of her, the taste of her… the memories of these most important things came rushing back to him. It would never be easy but right now he didn’t care…
When they eventually broke apart Tonks was grinning. Her hair was a bubblegum pink colour.
Lupin twisted a strand of it between his fingers and smiled. ‘You planned this, didn’t you.’
‘I knew you’d eventually come around if I sulked for long enough! Hufflepuff’s are loyal, see?’