Summary: A series of scene-fillers set during DH.
A/N: This piece covers a more broad span of time, beginning a few days prior to Harry's birthday and ending the night after Bill and Fleur's wedding.
Chapter Two: Flight
Tonks climbed the three flights of stairs to her flat slowly, carefully. She focused on each step, willing herself not to trip as she was so prone to do. When she finally got to her destination though, she hesitated, hand poised to turn the doorknob. But then, the hand dropped to its side and, in a defeated sort of way, she slid down to floor.
Her mind was a whirlwind of thoughts. She had to gather them up before going inside and facing her husband again.
Tonks had begun to notice a pattern in their relationship: Whenever Remus began to underestimate her abilities, things went awray. Her stomach clenched; he had most certainly been underestimating her again lately.
Not even a week after their hasty wedding, he’d begun throwing himself into his memories. In fact, she was fairly certain he spent more time in his penseive than out, reliving every single conversation he’d had with Dumbledore in the year prior to his death, hoping to pick up even a single clue as to what secret mission the former Headmaster had left Harry. She had a feeling though that he was also hoping for some indication that Dumbledore had wanted him to join in on the journey. Last time he’d needed an escape from their relationship, Dumbledore had sent him to live Underground. She could tell that he was searching desperately for another chance like that to escape their reality.
He didn’t realize that she noticed this and more, of course. But she knew. From the way he was unable to meet her gaze, his uncharacteristic silences, how he only touched her when they made love, and even then it was different: hesitant, restrained...
Remus was a fearless warrior, she knew this. He would jump into battle beside her, wand held at the ready without hesitation. But when it came to matters of the heart, Remus' instinct was always to flee.
Remus was right. There was danger being involved with someone like himself all right. Danger that had nothing to do with lycanthropy, but of having her heart broken and pieced back together over and over again.
The sound of a door opening across the hall jarred Tonks out of her thoughts, and she instinctively reached for her wand, though kept it hidden inside the pocket of her jeans. She relaxed when she realized it was just Mrs. Jenkins, although some of the uneasiness returned at the hard glare with which the old Muggle woman fixed her. She had apparently been quite fond of Remus until she’d caught the two of them snogging like mad against his door almost two years ago.
Merlin, had it really been that long ago?
Things had been so wonderful and uncomplicated then. Stolen kisses in dark corners of Grimmauld Place, amber-colored eyes seeking hers from across the room during Order meetings, the blissful and far too sporadic nights when they could fall asleep in each other’s arms...
Back then, things had been so easy and yet, she was surprised to find she didn’t want to go back. Not really. How could she go back now, after all that had happened between them? She knew Remus in a way she hadn’t know him back then. Their connection was deeper, more intimate, even now, despite his distance. Through pain, their love had only grown stronger...
She didn’t even hear the door open, before Remus was peering down at her worriedly.
“What’s wrong? Has something happened?”
She got to her feet clumsily, clawing at the wall for support. “Nothing’s wrong, everyone’s fine that I know of.”
Remus relaxed, but only slightly. “What are you doing home? It’s only half past one, I wasn’t expecting you until at least six.”
She didn’t answer right away, choosing to brush past him and into their flat instead. He followed quickly on her heels, and she could feel his intense gaze on the back of her head.
“I decided to take off early,” she lied.
“There wasn’t much to do at work.”
Remus raised his eyebrows. “Wasn’t much to do? We’re in the middle of a war and you work for the Ministry, Tonks. I find that hard to believe.”
She sighed. “I know, that was a bad cover, wasn’t it?”
She sighed again and sank into the hot pink settee, the one piece of furniture she’d insisted on bringing over from her old flat. She looked down at her lap, twirling her wand in her fingers absently. She suddenly felt like a child, with Remus standing over her, an anxious and stern look prominent on his features. “I’m on probation,” she muttered.
“Some rubbish about not filing the right paperwork, you know. Just a few days out of work, nothing big.”
“Nothing big?” he demanded, aghast. “Tonks, that’s not a reason for them to put you on probation and you know it! It’s because of me, because of your marriage to me!”
She stood up quickly, almost losing her wand in the process. “No, Remus! That isn’t -”
“Yes, it is,” he said fiercely, his eyes narrowing. “Don’t be stupid, Tonks, it’s not becoming on you.”
Her own eyes narrowed dangerously now. “Excuse me?”
“You know why they’ve put you on probation, and it’s only going to get worse. You could lose your job because of me!”
“And so what if I do?” she retorted hotly. “This job means nothing to me anymore, not while working under those bastards at the Ministry. What do they know about anything? You’ve said it yourself, it’s only a matter of time before they crumble at Voldemort’s feet! Do you really think I would still be in the job then? Married to a werewolf or not, I'm a known member of the Order of the Phoenix, a half-blood, a shape-shifter, a blood traitor... I’ve become a Death Eater target without your help, thank you very much.”
“I know,” he said miserably, dropping heavily onto the settee. “I just wish things were different for us.”
Tonks sat down beside him and placed a hand on his knee, her anger fading as quickly as it had come. “I know,” she said softly. “Me too.”
She reached over and embraced him, absently playing with the hairs at the nape of his neck. His concerns, she knew, had not left him. That uneasiness was still inside him – she could feel it radiating off of his body. She knew that, in a few hours time, he would go back to pacing the length of their bedroom when he thought she was sound asleep.
However, for now, holding him in her arms was enough to put him at ease.
“I can’t – get this damn dress on,” she gasped, trying to hold in her stomach as much as possible. It didn’t help. “Remus?”
“Yes?” he asked absently, already donned in dress robes he’d borrowed for the occasion.
“Can you help me?”
He nodded and walked over to her, trying to force up the zipper. “Sorry, love, it won’t go anymore. Maybe the house elf shrunk it,” he joked with a small smile.
She swatted him playfully, trying in vain to keep her laughter at bay. “Good answer. No, they only had it in a size smaller than what I usually wear, so I got it, thought I’d morph smaller for the day, right? But, you know, I can’t since -”
She trailed off, eyes widening as she realized what she’d just been about to admit.
“Why can’t you?” he asked, concerned.
“Oh, I can, I just, well I don’t want to. It isn’t natural, you know?”
His brow furrowed in confusion. “You’ve never minded that before.”
“I know, but now that we’re married, I just want to be more myself. No need to try to get a bloke’s attention anymore, now that I’ve got you,” she said with a forced chuckle.
He looked thoroughly unconvinced. “Tonks, are you having trouble with your metamorphosing again?”
“What?” she gasped. “No! Of course not!”
Tonks, who had gone back to struggling with the zipper of her dress, let out a huff of frustration and then turned to face him. Remus looked so very concerned then, and he took her hand in his, rubbing it softly, reassuringly, with his thumb. He was finally touching her like that again – like he loved her - and her stomach fluttered at his sudden openness.
She took a deep, steadying breath and looked down at their entwined fingers. “I was waiting to tell you until after the wedding and things... calmed down a bit...”
“Waiting to tell me what?”
“It’s not that I can’t morph, Remus. It’s that I shouldn’t.”
She paused, forcing herself to look into his amber eyes. “Because of the baby.”
Tonks looked away quickly, afraid to see his reaction, and watched his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed instead. “What?” he finally croaked.
“I’m pregnant, Remus.”
She looked at him then, but his expression did not change. His lack of reaction only served to make her even more anxious. Remus looked very, very pale though, and the lines on his face seemed to have increased tenfold in just a minute’s time.
“Our wedding night,” he said so quietly she almost didn’t hear him.
“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. It’s a bit romantic, isn’t it? I mean, it was our wedding night...”
She trailed off, noticing that Remus still hadn’t managed much of a reaction. When fearing the worst, she’d envisioned reckless pacing or maybe even a bit of anger, but not this... Remus was not a violent man, but in times of great emotional upheaval, she’d seen him resort to more animalistic reactions. Yet, this eerie calmness was more terrifying than ranting could have ever been.
“I’m not very far along,” she said, needing to cover the silence that was so heavy now she felt herself becoming trapped beneath it. “A little over a month. I’m just very attuned to my body, being a metamorphmagus, so I took the test and… well, nothing’s going to change yet, no one will be able to... notice. Yet.”
Remus nodded. “We’re going to be late,” he said in a strange, distant voice.
She blinked. “What?”
“We’re going to be late for the wedding.”
“Oh... oh yeah. I don’t have a dress,” she finished lamely.
Remus pointed his wand at the zipper and, before she could argue, felt the burden of the restricting dress lifting. Without a word, Remus zipped it up, before quickly turning to examine himself in the mirror. She watched his reflection, and could tell from the distant look in his eyes that he was lost in thought.
She wanted to go over and ask him what he was thinking, wanted to assure him that she was scared, too... that she hadn’t been expecting this baby any more than he had. But before she got the chance, he turned on his heel and Disapparated.
Tonks felt tears prickling at the corner of her eyes, but resisted them. Instead, she looked in the mirror one last time, plastered a smile onto her heart-shaped face, and then Disapparated as well.
When she finally returned home that night, Tonks didn’t just feel tired - she was utterly exhausted. She could feel it in her very bones. She had stayed with her parents well into the night, despite their protests that they were fine, really, and she should just get home and go to sleep. As she groped her way into the dark toward her bedroom with drooping eyelids, she half-wished she had listened to them.
However, she was surprised to find light from a single candle illuminating her husband’s pale face as he sat at the desk, pouring over his notes again. She sighed inwardly. Now that Harry and his friends had disappeared, she was sure that Remus would triple his efforts at figuring out what they were up to. She wished he would stop – it was clear that he was not meant to accompany them on this journey – but she couldn’t say that to him. He had to figure it out on his own.
Instead, with a surprising amount of deftness, she snuck up beside her husband and said in a low voice, “Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
Remus jumped, spilling his bottle of ink as he did so. She watched his fists clench as he slowly, very slowly, turned to face her.
“Don’t sneak up on me like that,” he said through gritted teeth.
“Sorry,” she said, in a tone that did not indicate much regret.
He sighed and muttered a cleaning spell under his breath.
“How’re your parents?”
“They’re fine. You know them, they’re strong... they’ll get over this.”
“I can’t believe they used the Cruciatus Curse...”
“Can’t you?” asked Tonks darkly. “It was my dear Auntie Bellatrix.”
Remus shook his head. “This is all my fault.”
“Your fault?” Tonks asked sharply. “What are you, mental? How could this possibly be your fault?”
“It’s because of what I am! I’ve brought even more hardship upon your family.”
She snorted. “You are mental.”
“Tonks, don’t make light of this!”
“Remus, they didn’t even mention you.”
“How do you know?”
“My parents told me what happened, everything that happened,” she added hastily. “My Mum’s a blood-traitor, she contaminated the family name, remember?”
But Remus was not listening. Rather, he began to pack his parchment into a knapsack. She frowned as she watched him. Was he finally putting an end to his obsessive Harry-tracking? Or could he be...? No.
“Remus, what are you doing?” He didn’t answer. Rather he strode over to his dresser and began pulling out clothes fairly recklessly. “Remus, stop it!”
She ran over to him, trying to force the knapsack out of his hands, but his grip did not slacken. In a desperate attempt to get him to stop and look at her, she grabbed the back of his robes and pointed her wand at him. He stopped moving, though she could see his jaw twitching as he turned toward her.
“Answer me,” she demanded.
“I’m leaving,” he said simply. Calmly. And yet, her heart stopped beating.
“It’s for the best: for you, your parents, and... for... your child.”
“My child?” she asked, her voice reaching a high pitch. “Remus, this child is as much mine as yours! Stop and think for a second, do you realize just what you’re about to do?”
“All I’ve been doing is thinking,” he said in a calm voice that only served to enrage her further.
“I knew you were going to do something fucking stupid like this!” she yelled. “I just never thought it would be leaving your own child!”
“That child is better off without me,” he said harshly, his earlier calm quickly leaving him. “You know what I am, we do not care about others, even our own flesh and blood...”
“Don’t. Say. That,” she breathed, her wand was still pointing at him as her eyes flashed dangerously. “I wouldn’t be beyond hexing you stupid, you know!”
“Then try it,” he growled, pulling out his own wand.
“You wouldn’t hex me.”
“Wouldn’t I? After all, I’m leaving my wife and child behind, not to mention the fact that I’ve undoubtedly passed my curse on to the baby!”
He laughed hollowly at her stunned look, and she shuddered; it was a terrible sound coming from him. “You do not know? Yes, my condition can be passed on through not just a bite. It can come through my very DNA.” He placed his hand on her stomach, and for a moment, his touch felt almost gentle – tender - but then it turned distant again. “It is very likely that there is a werewolf growing inside of you, Tonks. Your child will be a blood-thirsty monster, just like his good-for-nothing father.”
“Don’t speak of yourself like that! And don’t speak of me like that either, come to think of it! I will love our child no matter what.”
“Until he rips your heart out with his very teeth?”
“But it's the truth, Tonks! And I can’t stay here and watch our child grow into the same monster as I am!”
“That’s because you’re a coward, Remus!”
“Don’t say that,” he growled, raising his wand once again.
“It’s true, Remus, how you were ever a Gryffindor is a mystery to me!” she shrieked. “Right then, go on, leave if that’s what you need to do, you bastard! You can leave and leave and keep leaving again and again, if that’s what you need to do. It’s too late for me, I’ll always love you no matter what. But when you come back – and I know you, Remus Lupin, you will come back – I can't say the same for our child. He won’t have gotten to know his father, so who knows if he will be as forgiving as me. But I hope you remember this day, Remus, as the first of a lifetime of days that your fear let our child down!”
“Don’t say that,” he growled, shutting his eyes tightly. “Don’t say that. I’m not a bloody coward!”
Remus grabbed up his knapsack and hastily stuffed his remaining clothes inside. Then, he turned on his heel and Disapparated, Tonks’ screams of, “But you are a coward!” echoing in his ears.
Once he was gone, Tonks shuttered and then threw herself into his pillow, a single, wretched sob wracking her body. It seemed to bounce off the walls and back into her, as she breathed in his scent.
Part One: Happiness
Part Two: Flight
Part Three: Return
Part Four: Promise