Chapter 13 : Fact Rather Than Fiction
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It was only the last few lines that interested me. The first one being that he was leaving the werewolf colony for two months because he needed a break. He would be back in time for Christmas, and I may or may not have begun a countdown for that day. Then there was the way he signed it off, ‘love, Remus’. No one ever signed off like that apart from Mum, so it was a new experience for me.
That, and the fact that he loved me. Yes, I knew it was only a way of signing off so it didn’t exactly mean much but in his earlier letters he just put his name at the bottom, nothing else. Ever since I had had that conversation with Molly it seemed as if I was fixated with him. I almost didn’t want him to come back in case I accidently blurted out how much I had been thinking about him. I suppose only time would tell.
I strolled slowly up the main street in Hogsmeade, surveying everything under a hawk like glare. I justified the amount of time I had spent thinking about Remus due to the boredom of my job. Nothing unexpected was happening right now. An old woman shuffled down the street before going into Honeydukes. A man hurried into the Hog’s Head but he didn’t look dodgy enough to follow up. Besides, Aberforth knew who to report to if anyone showed suspect behaviour.
I fumbled in my pocket and pulled out a slightly crumbled and tea stained letter. I should have learnt by now not to open letters and have breakfast at the same time, but with my love of sleep I never had nearly enough time in the morning. I opened it up, smoothing out any large creases before re-reading it just to make sure.
Due to the precarious situation regarding the Order’s headquarters, I am forced to hold a meeting with you in my office instead. The matter won’t take long to discuss, so do not fear about me wasting your day. I will be delighted to see you on 28th November at 12.30. If that is an inconvenience to you, please do say.
He was another one of the annoying few who insisted on calling me by my full name. I glanced at my watch and saw it was nearing twelve. I might as well make my way up to the school. It was my lunch break now so I didn’t have much else to do, unless I wanted to talk to Dawlish who was on duty with me today.
I folded the letter up and placed it back into my pocket before beginning the long walk back up the school. I wished Charlie and my other Hogwarts friends were here. With them, this journey never felt boring due to us always plotting and planning on how to get at the people who annoyed us. I barely spoke to those people now.
Charlie’s letters were growing sparser in detail too. I blamed it on the work for the Order, because whenever he did pop over here he was always enthusiastic to see me. As for the others they got boring old jobs in the Ministry and became the next set of minions. I didn’t exactly want to be friends with people who answered to Rufus Scrimgeour’s beck and call, so I suppose our friendship was never going to last.
I hurried up the path which led to the gates of Hogwarts, trying to brush away the thoughts about them. Being an Auror had other perks besides being in walking distance of Honeydukes, and one of these included the fact that I knew the spell which unlocked the main gate.
Whispering the incantation at it, a silvery colour coated all of it before if clicked open. I walked through the gap before whispering the counter-incantation. I wouldn’t want to be the one who let a pack of Death Eaters in Hogwarts, after all.
Having another quick glance at my watch, I noted that I only had about ten minutes or so to navigate my way through Hogwarts and up to Dumbledore’s office. I suppose the reminiscing of what prank I did where would have to wait for another day. I pushed open the main door and found myself in the Entrance Hall which was bustling with students all heading to lunch.
I got a few odd looks, but, hey, at least I made an entrance. I ignored their glances and went up the marble staircase. I almost wished I had paid attention to them when I saw McGongall glaring down at me from the top of them. Merlin, she could still instil fear into me despite having left the school years ago.
“What are you doing here, Tonks?”
“I’ve got an appointment with Dumbledore. He told me to meet him in his office.”
She pursed her lips as if she thought it was an excuse to get out of my homework or something. “I see. I might as well accompany you to the appointment as I am heading that way.”
We walked off in silence, both of us looking down at the ground. This was far too awkward for my liking. I would have to attempt small talk.
“How’s life here then?”
“It’s bearable. The students are naturally worried about the outside world. We recently had an attack on a girl, Katie Bell, in Hogsmeade. She was cursed by a necklace. I’m sure you’ve heard it about through your Auror work.”
“Oh yes, Dawlish and Finley are on that case. Have you been doing much for…” I gave her a look and hoped she got that I meant the Order. My facial expressions were never that great as I had the tendency to pull one which resembled a chipmunk, so hopefully this would be more successful.
Again, she pursed her lips before replying. “No, not much. My main priority at the moment is keeping the students safe.” She stopped at a stone gargoyle before continuing. “Well, here we are. The Headmaster is known to enjoy sugar cubes.”
She gave me a curt nod before hurrying off down the corridor. I suppose that encounter with her wasn’t too dreadful. Perhaps we could even become friends in the coming years. I sincerely hoped though that her telling me about Dumbledore’s sweet tooth was a hint to get in as opposed to a random fact, because being caught saying that to a gargoyle would be pretty odd.
I muttered sugar cubes to it, and to my great delight it began to turn revealing a stone staircase which I guessed led to his office. I felt like I was being let in on a big secret. Though I did misbehave while I was here it only warranted me going to Sprout’s office, so this was the equivalent of me seeing one of the Wonders of the World.
Trundling slowly up the stairs, I eyed each thing which came into my sight. There were lots of peculiar looking instruments which looked like the sort of thing which should be in the further possible proximity from me. Books with varying coloured spines were stacked high on the shelves and portraits lined the walls.
“Ah, Nymphadora, how wonderful it is to see you,” Dumbledore greeted me while I approached his desk. “Do take a seat.”
“Thanks, Professor,” I mumbled. Like, McGonagall, I still hadn’t gotten over my school day fear of him.
“I have been meaning to see you for quite some time,” Dumbledore said in a measured tone. Crap. What did I do? “Though Harry has agreed we may continue to use number twelve Grimmauld Place as our headquarters, I have decided temporary measures, such as this, might be more fitting for the time being.”
I nodded, hoping that this meeting had another point besides the location change. There was a new range of Sugar Quills in Honeydukes, and I’d been dying to try them for several days now.
“Now that Voldemort and his followers are now out in the open, we need to take more care for our security, you in particular. It is believed that Bellatrix Lestrange has a vendetta against you and your family, and that was shown with the events last summer. We are not sure what she means by this, but it is best to take greater precaution, so please take care in situations where she may be present. She may do anything to attempt to kill you.”
Bellatrix thought I was important enough to be killed? I almost let out a laugh but given the gravity of the situation it probably wouldn’t be all that appropriate. Not that I did many things which appropriate for the situation.
“I see, Professor. I’ll make sure to keep that in mind. Or to paraphrase Mad-Eye, constant vigilance is always a must.” I let out a nervous giggle and saw Dumbledore’s mouth crease up slightly. He must think I was a right nutter or something.
“Yes, even though Alastor does tend to overuse the saying, it is entirely appropriate in this situation.” He gave a nod before glancing down at his desk.
“Is that all, Professor?” I asked. “It’s just I have to be back on watch in twenty minutes.”
“Yes, it is. I would not wish to detain you longer for than necessary. One small thing though, Nymphadora. I have heard news from Remus that things are going well, and he will soon be re-joining us for a while.”
Though it was nice for him to mention Remus, I was a little perplexed as to why he brought him up. “Thanks, Professor. I got a letter from him this morning saying so.” I got up and pushed back my chair, hoping it would be the cue to change the topic.
“Naturally. I should have assumed he would have sent you one. Goodbye for now, Nymphadora.” Dumbledore gave me one final smile before I turned my back and began walking towards the stairs.
“Oh the joys of young love,” he muttered quietly when I reached the stairs. I think those Prophet reports of him about him losing his marbles might be slightly true, because I really didn’t know what he was going on about.
Remus came back even earlier than he said he would in his letter. Two weeks earlier, if you wanted to know, just before Christmas. I was meant to meet him in precisely sixteen minutes, and I didn’t think I had ever felt more nervous. Everything everyone had been saying about me and Remus had been swirling around my head, and I couldn’t help but not notice the common theme among them. The theme being that they all assumed that we were in love and were on the brink of dating.
With all of that in my mind, I had an epiphany. Yes, you may laugh at me but I genuinely had an epiphany. Though it didn’t feature any transcendent sounding voices or bright lights, I did feel as if had come to a conclusion over the past few days. One that I probably should have come to a while ago, but one that was still here.
I may be slightly in love with Remus Lupin. Cue the laughter and mocking of me, but I was pretty certain it was fact rather than fiction. I knew that epiphanies were meant to have this sense of finality about them, so me being still slightly undecided by this didn’t exactly go well, but it was the closest to certain I would ever be.
We were meeting at Southend again. Personally, going to a beach during a British winter was never a wise idea with the way wind lashed against your body, and I could feel a spattering of rain fall against the parts of my skin which weren’t protected by multiple layers of clothing. The weather was generally like this though, and Remus did want to meet here so I didn’t want to go against his wishes.
I ambled up and down the beach, trying to keep warm and kill time. I kicked pieces of shingle now and then so that my toes stayed wamish, but that often caused more pain than pleasure. I was the only one out on the beach which proved how cold it was. A couple of boats moored near to me rocked in the wind, and if I looked over to the road cars zoomed past, but other than that it was dead here.
Only six minutes to go now, and I still hadn’t made up my mind whether to tell him or not. Even if I did decide to, how did I go about this? Merlin, I really did hate planing, going with the flow was a lot easier due to the lack of planning and thought.
“Tonks.” I turned around and saw Remus standing not too far from me, not looking too happy either. “I didn’t expect you to be early.”
“I’m beginning to change my ways,” I said nervously. “What’s with the frown?”
“It’s just cold, that’s all.” Remus shivered for good measure. “There’s a café not far from here, shall we go there? It will be warmer.”
I nodded in agreement before shoving my shaking hands into my cloak pocket. I decided not to debate whether the shaking was induced through the cold or nervousness. It could be either really. Plus, the wet sand flicking onto the back of my legs while I walked was the biggest issue at the moment.
We soon reached a café which had a questionable colour scheme of blue and orange, and I couldn’t be gladder to be there. Remus hurried ahead and pulled the door open for me, while I trundled along still trying to decide whether my foot was alive or not. A blast of hot air greeted me, which calmed my fears so I hurried over to a window seat so I could see the fog immerse the estuary.
“Did you want anything at all?” Remus asked, slipping into the opposite seat.
“A cup of tea would be lovely.” He gave me a small grin before beckoning over a waitress and ordering one for himself too. He seemed changed, more serious and quiet. I hadn’t anticipated it at all.
“Are you really alright, Remus?” I asked hesitantly.
“I’m fine, but it’s you I’m worried about,” he said grimly. “I heard you haven’t been going through a great time lately, and Molly seems to think I’m part of the problem according to the letter she sent me.”
What had Molly gone and said? She said we needed to talk it out between the two of us, not that we needed her interference. Though Remus had caused me a certain level of anxiety over the past few days, I would never call him a problem. He made all of my problems seem a lot easier.
“There’s nothing for you to be worried about Remus. I am perfectly fine.” If perfectly fine meant me no longer being able to use my metamorphmagus skills, and my patronus suddenly changing form then I certainly fitted the bill.
Remus grabbed hold of my hand lying on the table, and I couldn’t help but feel a tingling sensation go up it. “Tonks, I’m worried about you. You know you can tell me anything.” This was the first time I allowed myself to look at his eyes, and I couldn’t help but tear up at the beauty of the honey colour. Look what my bloody hormones were making me feel and do. I was like an eager fourth year girl being around her crush.
I really was insane if this made me cry. The waitress seemed to think the same because she took one quick look at me before dumping the teacups on the table and scarpering. The thing was, I didn’t know whether I could tell him anything. Could I just come out and say I love you? Did people really do that? Was there a certain way you did it? I suppose the only way to find out would be by actually saying it.
Shit. I couldn’t do that.
“What is it, Tonks? Please, just tell me and we can work it out together.” I took one last look of him and saw that he had begun running his hands through his hair. I needed to man up and sort out how I felt towards Remus. Here goes nothing.
“I think I’m in love with you,” I whispered and glanced down at the tea stained table. I almost thought he hadn’t heard me at first because all that followed was silence. But a minute or two later he began murmuring something quietly and tapping his finger against the table. Well, that was unexpected.
“No, no, no, no. This shouldn’t have happened, all my fault. Too old, too wrong. Never would work. Can’t do it.” As his murmurings got louder and louder, I managed to pick out those phrases and my hand tightened on his the more they spewed out.
“What do you mean, Remus? Please, just say something. Anything. Please Remus…” This was a mistake. A big mistake. Someone like Remus could never like someone like me. He dated intellectuals, not clumsy Aurors. This was possibly the worst mistake I had made, thinking he could love me. I could feel the tears which had slowly built up fall down my face. I didn’t give a crap.
Remus looked at me, and I almost thought he was going to join me in the crying. He grabbed hold of my other hand, and in that moment I thought my hopes and dreams might possibly come true. “Tonks, I want you to know that I love you. You’re the only person I have ever really loved, the only person I could love. You being in my life is more than ever I could ever wish for which is why…” He paused and gazed off towards the estuary.
“Which is why what?” I snapped. He couldn’t leave me hanging like that. It was too cruel.
“Which is why…” Again, pausing, but at least this time he managed to finish the sentence. “Which is why I have to stop loving you. You’re too good, too pure, too young for me. I’m old. I’m poor. I’m a werewolf. I have nothing to give you. I won’t ever have anything to give you. Allowing you to date me would be the worst thing I could ever do, and for once I will be the better person and stop it. I’m sorry I let it get this far.”
Remus pulled some coins out of his pocket before throwing them on the table. He pushed back his chair, and that was when I realised what he really had said and what he was going to do.
“Remus, Remus, where are you going?” I pushed back my chair and began to run after his fleeing figure. “I love you for who you are, whether it be poor, old or a werewolf. Don’t you understand? Remus! Don’t go! I don’t want you to leave me! I love you.”
That last confession only made him turn around, give me a weak smile before turning on the spot and disappear. I couldn’t do it, carry on. I collapsed outside of the café, no care in the world. Maybe this was just an awful dream, and I would wake up and it would be fine again.
I did have vivid dreams as well. Though they were never as vivid as the honey colour in his eyes. They were never as vivid as that touch I felt against my skin. They were never as vivid as this pain he was causing me to feel.
Author's Note: I'm so, so, so sorry about the ending, but I had to do it. ♡ If you want to throw things at me I understand. I would love to know what you thought about it, as I have been missing hearing all of your thoughts so if you left a review, even an anger-filled one, it would be very much appreciated.
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