Remus Lupin’s eyes widened with fear. His mouth went dry and his body stiff. This couldn’t be happening. Not now, not to him. His first thought was to scream, then run. He briefly considered doing both at the same time, but decided he was too sensible for that. In the end the only thing he could do was turn his back wordlessly and walk away. A storm seemed to move with him as he stalked up the stairs, down the hallway, and into his bedroom, slamming the door shut behind him.
From downstairs he could still hear her voice calling desperately after him, Please Remus. I knew you’d be like this. Just listen to me for one second! But he ignored her. He didn’t want to listen to any of her half-crazed, hair-brained rants. He wanted to think.
The man paced wildly around the small room. He felt the sudden urge to hit something, but he didn’t know what he was willing to cause damage to. Again, being a sensible sort of person, the way he was, he ended up by doing nothing more than sitting angrily on the edge of the bed and running his hands abruptly through his thin, graying hair. Why him, why now? Footsteps were loudly approaching the door now. He could’ve moved to bar her entry, imperviously locking the problem out for even just a few hours until he’d gathered his bearings, but he didn’t. And when she entered the room, he paid the price.
“Honestly! I don’t know why you’re so upset. Why can’t you just see the positive side of things for once in you poor, miserable life!” Tonks’s eyes were aflame, her short hair turning a deep crimson. She stood in the doorway expectantly; arms folded across her chest, waiting for something, anything from the slumped figure on the bed.
Remus said nothing.
“Remus!” She took a step forward.
He stood up. “Why did you have to do this to me?”
She took a step back.
“Remus! I didn’t do anything to you. This is just something that happened. Okay?”
He shook his head and ambled to the window where the curtains were drawn. He was shaking with all manner of anger and fear, and yet he was completely paralyzed by it, unable to verbalize the deluge of thoughts flooding his mind. It created a deep sort of calm that threatened to drown them both.
“This is a miracle, alright? It’ll make us complete, it’ll bring us happiness. What part of that is such a big problem?”
Remus struggled to control himself as he turned around and approached her – arms outstretched as if uncertain if he was about to embrace her or strangle her.
“It’s the part about us being in the middle of a war Dora,” he pleaded desperately. “It’s the part about you potentially being put in a dangerous situation and not being able to defend yourself.” His voice was soft, though no short of tension as he employed, near begged her to understand him. He put his hands gently on her waist and held her at an arm’s length.
Suddenly Tonks felt small. His grown up talk and seriousness in his voice made her feel silly and girlish for even thinking about being excited over the affair. He regarded her with pleading eyes, and she looked down at her feet, ashamed. He let his hands fall to his sides then slowly turned back to the window. A new rage was ignited within Tonks.
“I can defend myself you know,” she called out to his back.
Remus didn’t react.
She marched forward and grabbed onto the back of his shirt for his attention. “If you don’t feel like sticking around and taking care of me, I can most certainly take care of myself.” She turned him around to face her.
He didn’t make any moves to pull back or fight her off. “You don’t understand.”
“Oh, I understand.” She stood on the tips of her toes so that she was level with his chin, and held him tightly by the arms. “I understand that when any kind of problem arises you just want to hide away in your little hole for a week and analyze every single little detail before you even consider a decision.”
She pounded a fist to his chest.
He let her.
“I know,” he said.
“We should get a house together, a month of contemplation” a fist pound. “I want to get married, a yelling match at dinner,” a weaker attempt.
“I know,” he said.
“I’m pregnant, do we really have to go through all of this again?” She threw a few more feeble punches, tears welling in her eyes.
As she was finally slowing down Remus took her gently by the wrists and waited for her to gather herself.
Why did it always end up like this? With Tonks as the hopeless juvenile plumbing system, and him as the ever rational professor, no matter how irrational he was being in reality. Simply the way he presented himself in the situation made him seem like he always had the upper hand, even as he was crumbling to bits on the inside.
“You just about done now?” he asked her very softly, so as not to wake the sleeping beast next door.
Tonks nodded, her hair simmering down to a neutral brown colour.
“Good.” He released her wrists and replaced his own hands to the pockets of his trousers. “Dora, love, I want you to listen to me when I say this now. I’m not going to leave you, and I’m not going to hide away, but I do want time to think.”
“Think about what? You can’t change it. I’m not going to get rid of our baby.”
“I’m not asking you to, Darling. I know you’re not. There are just things…some thoughts I need to tend to.” Remus turned away and started toward the large armoire that loomed in the tiny space.
“See, there you go again. Walking off into your own little world of thoughts, turning your back on the issues at hand.”
“This is getting redundant, Tonks,” Remus sighed. “You should get some rest.”
Tonks opened her mouth to say something, but nothing would come out.
“Go on now. Wash up and come to bed. There are clearly some things we both need to sleep on.”
Tonks wanted to argue, but instead she obeyed. He was right. The conversation needed to be put to rest for now. And although it probably wouldn’t do much more than simply postpone the greater argument that was sure to come, at least they would both be able to get their heads together before the realization of that eventuality.
Tonks exited the room silently for the bathroom down the hall, leaving Remus alone with the armoire. When he heard the bathroom door shut and the water from the shower turn on, he released a slow, steady breath and knelt down to open the bottom drawer. Inside this drawer was a mess of assorted papers and documents. There were a couple of small notebooks and an old copy of the Prophet, but Remus tossed these things aside. It was what was underneath this drawer, which opened up at the tap of his wand, that he was looking for. The artifact that he’d hidden away, almost to the point of forgetting, that he now so longed to touch with his hands. Having removed the decoy bottom of the drawer, Remus peered inside and beheld in his sight for the first time in what seemed like forever, a box marked MISERY.
He removed the box from its hiding spot and placed it on the bed. He held his breath to open the lid and as he did so the memories came spilling out on an overwhelming wave of emotion. Photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, pieces of fabric, pieces of jewelry, pieces of broken china, all became strewn across the bed cover. It was almost too much to bear and Remus could feel the lump beginning in his throat, but quickly swallowed it as Tonks re-entered the room.
She walked in, in her dressing gown, drying her hair which was gradually returning to its usual vibrant pink, and looked around the room, utterly confused by the mess. What the bloody hell had happened? She leaves to take a five minute shower, and this is what the man gets up to?
Remus didn’t say anything or try in any way to explain himself. He didn’t look up from the memories scattered before him or attempt to respond to Tonks’s bemused stare.
Cautiously Tonks approached. “Remus?” she asked tentatively. “Darling, what is all this?” She walked over and cleared a space on the bed to sit down on.
At first Remus remained unresponsive. He was looking at a photograph of a young woman. For the most part her face was concealed. Her bare back was to the camera, and you could just see one of her eyes as it blinked open and shut. The only other movement was in her shoulders which moved up and down with the everlasting repetition of her breath. Long, messy curls spidered down her ghostly pale skin, through which her bones could be seen sticking out at sharp angles. The image was dark and completely colourless, but obviously contained some sort of light to Remus, which he now gazed longingly into.
Finally, though not fully emerging from his thoughts, he said, “Tonks, I think it’s time I told you about Misery.”