Non-graphic sexual situations, mild language, graphic violence/gore, and AU.
Set the summer after OotP. Remus accepts a mission from the Order to recruit feral werewolves and becomes entangled with a Russian pack leader. Meanwhile, his past relationship with Tonks manifests itself in an unusual way, which a clever Slytherin uses to lure him back to England.
In my perfect world, Deathly Hallows didn't happen. A main character in this work is also paired with an original character. She is going to be fully developed and plays a small role in the overall premise of the fic, but any flames of this subject will be mocked and deleted. My reasoning is simple: we know of two werewolves who existed before HBP and since this fic deals heavily with werewolves, that won't flesh it out enough.
The sun was setting at the skyline when Tonks was released from St. Mungo’s and she was thankful that they had not sent an escort to take her back to the Headquarters. It was a good night for a walk, with the ground still warm from the early summer sun and the air was invigorating and refreshingly cool. No one would ever know that she had taken a detour, and she’d really like to clear things up before that night’s meeting. If she was perfectly honest, there was also the fact that she had not seen him in a few weeks and was already beginning to feel the realities of the Wizarding World too strongly. It took about twenty minutes to walk to the small, one-level brownstone.
Remus took pride in his small home which is obvious from the neatly swept walkway and the garden that she helped plant only a month ago when the threat of frost had passed. In the center of the garden grew a wide variety of flowers, some of which had reached up to the living room window and were trying to twine themselves around the metal screen. The rest of the garden was bare, unable to fight for sun and nutrients with the overgrown flowers in the center. A wise gardener would trim the plant, but Tonks knew that Remus wouldn't. He liked to allow things to run their course and would never dream of hindering the plant's progress. Tonks should point out that the plant wasn't supposed to be that big, but that would involve recalling that it was she who knocked over a bottle of Madame Grehumb's Grow Solution in that particular spot.
With the handy, and not completely untrue, excuse that the exertion of walking here had tired her out, Tonks paused on the public easement before the house, leaning against a stunted tree and enjoying the moment's rest. She rehearsed what she was going to say to him, running through the reasons in her head that she was right and he was wrong. In all honesty, she was not nervous about confronting him about their relationship, and the most persistent emotion she felt was annoyance at his refusal to come around to her way of thinking. Tonks had attempted all other avenues (mostly the ones that involved cold silences or sullen moods, barely resisting the urge to shake the man out of his infuriating calm) to little success and had decided to try a more direct approach. She'd asked Charlie Weasley to assist her in preparing her arguments, and he had done so willingly for the small price of listening to him complain about his brother's new girlfriend, though he hadn't sounded as unbelieving, when presenting what might be Remus' side, as she would have liked.
Tonks stopped on the top step and put her hands against the door -- something she particularly loved to do in the winter, because the door would always be slightly warmer than was probable -- tracing her fingers where the paint had bubbled due to poor application and the weather. Remus always kept his house so warm, often to the point where it was uncomfortable. She didn't know why, though she suspected that it was either because of sleeping outside one night every month or because he equated warmth with humanity. At some point, she'd probably meant to ask, but for some reason when she was in the house, the only time such a thought would occur to her, time seemed to lose its linear flow. Half asleep, she would watch the light of the moon slowly shift and eventually turn into the softer light of dawn. Time would not flow right again until Remus shook her awake and told her that it was morning and that she should get going if she didn't want to be late for work or drills or whichever torture Moody had cooked up for her.
Though the door was roughly the same temperature as the cooling heat outside, the scent was still the same. That smell of chocolate and old tea bags and human -- or maybe animal, not that it really mattered in this case -- musk. There was no noise from inside the house, which was unusual, considering the fact that Remus nearly always had a radio humming in the background, comforted by the sound, but she figured he was probably asleep. It had not been many days since the last time the moon had reached the peak of its cycle. A wry smile came to her lips at the realization that she knew the lunar cycle so well. Seditiously, it was one of her favorite times of the month, for Remus would fall into a deep sleep for days and couldn't very well tell her to leave. She would put cool wash rag on his forehead when it grew hot and cover him with blankets when he shivered and make tea, just because he couldn't offer to 'get that for her.'
Deciding it was best not to wake him for the simple task of letting her in, Tonks went around to the side of the house. It was a grassy little passage that could not by any stretch of the imagination be called a yard but did serve in some way to separate the small properties. She knelt, without thinking, and almost immediately straightened her knee, letting out a rather colorful curse. It was, however, without warrant as the heat had dried the pathway and she was in no apparent danger of getting covered in mud as she did the last time she did this. While she saw nothing wrong with entering Remus' house and caring for him during this time of the month, she understood to an extent how it might be strange for him to wake up with not only an intruder, but one who was wearing his clothes. She looked for the slightly protruding brick and urged it out a little more, bits of the cheap, dusty material sticking to her fingers, and found nothing underneath it except for the jagged brick the one in her hand had fallen from with only a little urging on Remus' part. The key wasn't there.
For a moment, her mind did not comprehend and she counted the bricks to make sure she had taken out the correct one. She had, of course, because as poor as Remus was, his house wasn't falling apart in any literal sense. It pained her. More than any words of separation ever could have. This was a sign of distrust, a sign that he wanted her out of his life, and, since he had not told her about it, a sign that it was really and truly what he wanted. Tears welled up in her eyes, stinging painfully as they did if they happened to come along when her eyes were changing. She knew they were probably darkening to a deep onyx color. Though years ago she had learned to control her Metamorphmagus powers to a certain degree -- without much choice as she'd never been allowed in the Muggle world with them out of control and her mother had forbid her to going much of anywhere when the First War started -- they still shifted slightly when she was very happy of very upset. It made Muggles get the sense that there was something 'odd' about her, but the change was never noticeable enough for them to put a finger on.
That key had been hard to get, and she didn't think Remus had ever fully grasped why she wanted it, if, indeed, she grasped that fact herself. It was a long time ago and perhaps it was just her security blanket, born when Remus first began to show doubts about the morality of their relationship. They'd just finished painting his living room and were sitting on the floor, looking at their handiwork and eating turkey sandwiches and potato chowder. She was eighteen at the time, barely out of Hogwarts. She'd met Remus a little less than a year ago -- that she could remember, for her mum insisted he used to visit with Sirius when she was a little girl -- and her mother had hoped that the man could give her some direction with her life. Andromeda regretted it for two reasons; one, Remus had talked extensively about Sirius' short career as an auror and sparked her interest in the field, and, two, Tonks was spending more time with the man than was prudent for a young, unmarried woman.
The conversation went something like this:
"I think you should give me a key to your new place, Remus," Tonks said, tactless and without boundaries as always.
Lupin didn't seem to notice the fact that she'd taken a flying leap over a line, however, and continued to focus on getting the remnants of his soup on the piece of crust in his hands. His brow did wrinkle slightly, the only signal that he had heard her, "Why? It's not like I get out much. Just firecall and tell me you're coming over."
"There might be an emergency. And I might need to get in. Someone else should have a key, it's not good for people to live all by themselves."
A wry smile appeared on his face and he commented, "Being the brilliant auror that you're going to be, I'd hope you'd have the presence of mind to use 'Alohomora'."
"I might not have my wand!"
Remus looked up at the fervor in her voice and frowned thoughtfully. Hence the plan of the hidden key had been hatched and the key had remained beneath the brick, no matter how much Remus insisted they couldn't see one another, since that day. Upset, she walked briskly to the front of the house and knocked on the door, a little louder than was absolutely necessary. There was no answer. She hoped he was sleeping and would have to drag himself out of bed to stop the incessant knocking on his front door. It would serve him right. After knocking three times, she leaned over, very carefully bracing herself on the pole of the awning, and tried to look inside. It was dark, but she saw the outlines of his furniture and the nineteen inch television and even the vague outline of some newspapers stacked on the coffee table. No Lupin, though, and she was a little upset that he must have made it to the bedroom without her assistance.
Looking around the Muggle street, especially to where the kids had been playing since she'd learned early that children were more apt to notice magic than their adult counterparts, she found that it had emptied considerably as the light faded more completely. The moon that hung overhead could nearly be mistaken for full, and, even among wizards, it took a trained eye to know that it was waning. Even Remus had occasionally woke up in the middle of the night, look out the window, and going into fearful spasms. Tonks always left shortly after that, for helplessness did not suit her. Pulling out her wand -- ashwood, eight inches, phoenix feather core -- she muttered 'excito sursum' and a lazy beige light wafted out of her wand and through the door.
The problem with most Hogwarts students -- admittedly a bigger one with Muggleborns than purebloods -- was that they thought they would learn everything they needed to know about magic at Hogwarts. It wasn't like that. Magical schools taught you the most fundamental magic and just the glistening of more advanced work. They didn't teach you anything that was classified 'experimental' at all. People left school with the sense that they knew everything and were shocked, and sometimes killed if it was a Death Eater, when they first saw what magic could do when not tightly regulated. Tonks had quickly learned that magic was something she'd spend her life learning. This particular spell was one that she had read in Witch Weekly -- her mother's issue, of course, because Tonks didn't make a habit of reading such rot -- that was invented for busy mothers to wake up their difficult children. It was essentially an alarm that grew in sound until the person woke up. There had been experimentation on using such a spell to wake people up from comas, but by the time the noise made enough of a disturbance in the subconscious there would be considerable damage to the eardrums.
Already, she could hear the sound of it from outside, and she grew worried as the sound got alarmingly loud with no response from inside. She couldn't imagine him wandering around this soon after the full moon. He hated the looks that he received from wizards and Muggles alike. Pity wasn't something he cared for because he equated it with guilt and believed, on principle, that people should do good deeds for the welfare of others, not to make themselves feel better. Suddenly, she wondered what might have happened to him. Werewolves were notoriously difficult to kill, but humans were not, and more often than not, those who died from their wounds did so at home or in a hospital bed, bleeding out. Panic suddenly overcame her and she gave a rather curt 'finite incantatem' and walked away from the door and around to the garden. Standing on her toes, she allowed her arms to extend, her bones creating a popping sensation that were not unpleasant. She pushed the window, attempting to open it. It did not open, quite clearly locked. This did not bode well, she knew, because Remus didn't like to lock his doors or windows, disliking the fact that it made him feel confined, even though that was illogical.
"Liquidus vas," she said, and the window began to slide downwards, and it wasn't apparent to most casters that it was melting until they saw the puddle it would form on the ground. Waiting until it was halfway melted, she cast a summoning spell and carefully lowered the convoluted material to the ground. Carefully, she pulled herself up, thankful for her developed muscles, and leaned forward so that her stomach was against the pane. Not completely controlling the tilt, she fell forward into the house, holding her hands out to break her fall. She landed awkwardly with her feet still in the window and had to walk them down the wall to avoid hurting her knees.
Sitting back on her heels, she looked around the room and vaguely noted that the air was very stagnant, making her notice for the first time that there was the very slightest smell of blood in his home. The house was in good order; a place for everything and everything in its place. Slowly getting to her feet, Tonks walked around, noting that the stack on the table were books on werewolves. A trilogy, if she remembered, written by a Japanese witch and considered extremely progressive and generally banned by the Ministry that ruled Britain, Scotland, and many other English speaking countries. Remus had enjoyed the books immensely, even though he usually dismissed her findings as a "werewolf's fairytale." Treading carefully, she observed the kitchen with its shining surfaces and cheerful colors and the bookshelves that were filled with titles she could name without looking at the binding -- 1001 Charms by Florence Sheerman on the very bottom shelf, a school book from when he was at Hogwarts; Experimental Healing by Ixora Conn, an unfortunately well-read book that was placed in the front, on a middle shelf, for easy access; Far Is Much Too Close, and other paradoxical magic by Professor T. Coleman, a ridiculously difficult book that she had made Remus read and explain a page from to prove it wasn't there to make him look smart, placed on the far left, near the wall; and Living With Lycanthropy by Shelia Foreman, on the very bottom shelf, partially hidden from view because of how much Tonks had teased him about owning the book.
"Who knows more than you, Lupin?" She'd asked, hurting him unintentionally and backpedaling. It made her sad. He looked so desperately for a cure to what he thought was wrong with him, and Tonks had actually begun praying -- to whomever, whatever -- that he would find his answer. First she had done so with hopefulness, and now with anger, unbelieving that anyone was more deserving of happiness than Remus.
The door -- oh, bloody Hell, the door. She could have cast an unlocking charm without destroying part of the house. Her mum was right, she did always take the path of most resistance -- was locked at the handle, but not the chain which suggested the last person who locked it had been leaving. There was Muggle post on the floor near the door, a fair sized pile of it, and flipping through she saw that most of them were bills and one was a check from his employers at a small, arty magazine in Lesser London. He wrote for them, sometimes, she knew, because it was so difficult for him to get a job in the Wizarding World.
It was a small house, and the entire front of it -- kitchen and living room -- were visible to her from where she stood. There was a narrow hallway that lead to the back of the house. As she traveled down it, she passed the small bathroom and opened the door, flipping on the light, and finding it empty and immaculate as always. A stack of freshly laundered towels sat on a wicker clothes hamper, and she wondered if he'd used all of those on the night of the full moon to stem the bleeding. It was good, though. Someone had cleaned the towels. Meaning Remus probably wasn't that badly injured.
Coming to the bedroom, she opened the door and flipped on that light, as well, and looked around. The wooden fan on the ceiling began to circle lazily and the sheer blue curtains were drawn against the moon. The bed was made -- brown comforter with charcoal grey sheets -- which concerned her because though he usually made the bed every morning, he wouldn't have done so in his weakened condition. Her first instinct was to panic and call in her team with the claim that someone had abducted him, but she managed to stay calm, calling the side of her that managed as an auror. Remus didn't have a closet, except for one in the hall that was used for sheets, towels, and toiletries, and kept all of his clothes folded in a squat, long dresser made of oak. Opening a drawer, her suspicions were confirmed. Remus did not have many clothes to begin with, and in order to take a prolonged trip, he would have to take nearly all of them. Five of the six drawers contained nothing and the last only contained some odds and ends such as a swimsuit and an old and terribly out-of-date dress robe.
Tonks fled from the house without another minute's thought, anger overtaking her and she even felt her hair lengthen and knew it was turning red from the way her emotions twisted in her stomach. Distantly, she heard the screen door slam behind her and she ran down the stone steps and started off at a steady run towards the Order headquarters.
Although she was in excellent shape from her job's daily demands and weekly training sessions, Tonks was panting slightly and felt a burn in her legs by time she reached the Order's headquarters. The physical exertion had calmed her a bit, making her more tired and less angry, but returning here caused the anger to rise again. There had been times when she had suggested quitting, had suggested that they leave together and live in the Muggle world until the War ended as it was bound to do. He'd shaken his head sadly and told her that she was only saying this because she was afraid. And he'd love her pain away, as trite as that sounded, sometimes in this very house, in the dusty blankets that covered the four-poster beds. With his weight upon her and his arms on either side of her, he shrank her world to just him. Her friends wanted men who would show them new things, but Tonks job and position in the Order did that for her, and she'd found that the unfamiliar was frightening and painful. Sometimes, when her thoughts got particularly blurred with passion, she would distantly think that if anyone attacked them just then, they'd have to go through Remus first. It was ridiculous, but it was a reflection of the strength and comfort she took in him.
For him to leave was a betrayal she'd hardly ever imagined. Where, now, would she draw her strength? Who would keep her grounded? Tonks tried to focus on what she had, which was one of the first things she had learned in her strategy classes, because she'd been taught that you should start there in order to figure out what you needed. Whether by cynicism or unfortunate circumstance, however, Tonks could find very little that she had that was of use. There was Hermione and Ginny, whom she had formed some sort of friendship with, but they were incredibly young and attended Hogwarts for a good eight months of the year. There was Harry, who, while a bit more worldly than his two female friends, was even more aggrieved about Sirius' death than she was, and it would be cruel to put any more pressure on him. Moody, who had coached her through the many troubles of being an auror, including her first kill and the time a victim of Death Eaters had died in her arms, could not assist in matters that were so personal. People whispered that he'd been married a long time ago, but Tonks couldn't imagine any woman who would put up with him. Her parents . . . oh, her dad would be sympathetic enough, but he liked to keep things light, and her mum didn't much approve of her life and would only take it as an opportunity to prove her point.
Since that line of thought was depressing her more than helping, she decided that it would be better to talk to the Order first and see who was on her side. Forgetting herself, she opened the door and slammed it behind her, stalking off to the kitchen where the members tended to congregate. Mrs. Black began to squawk in her frame and Tonks turned and told her, in no uncertain terms, to 'shut up.' Her ancestor's eyes bulged in surprise and she began to mutter about how she'd 'never seen such disrespect from one so young.' Tonks didn't care. If the portrait wanted to personify misery, that was fine, as long as it wasn't forcing its misery on everyone else. Really, all these Blacks that everyone thought were so horrible just needed to be put in their place.
The dining room was emptier than she would have liked; Molly Weasley was pouring a cup of tea for herself and her husband, Mad-Eye was pacing awkwardly, his wooden leg tapping on the stone floor, Emmeline Vance and Kingsley Shacklebolt were alongside one another and trying not to be noticed. Quite a feat considering Kingsley was a six-foot-tall black man and Emmeline had been voted 'Most Striking Auror' four years in a row by the entertainment section of the Daily Prophet.
To the room in whole she announced, "I think Lupin ran away."
Though she had expected outrage, admittedly she hadn't expected it to be directed at her. Moody, however, turned to her with his face more contorted than usual and bellowed, "So, it was you who broke into Lupin's house!"
"I --." she hadn't been expecting criticism. Drawing back her shoulders, lifting her chin defiantly, she said, "I went to speak with him and when he didn't answer the door, I grew worried and decided that I should check on him."
"First of all, you were under direct orders to return to the Headquarters immediately after you were released from the hospital . . ."
"Last time I checked, the manual stated that direct orders can be breached if the auror is presented with a situation that requires their immediate attention! I consider the possible endangerment of an Order member's life something that requires my attention!"
"You use parts of our rules against us!" Moody looked enraged and was very close to her. He wanted her to back down, to stand at attention, and her muscles twitched accordingly. But he wasn't right, damn him, and she wasn't going to fall into line just to avoid confrontation! She was Hufflepuff, and certainly the biggest reason she'd been placed there was because she was 'unafraid to toil.' Moody continued, both of his eyes, the normal beady one and the spastic magical one, were fixed on her, "That clause only applies if the situation requiring immediate attention occurs while one of carrying out said direct order! Lupin's house is not on the way to the Headquarters, no matter which route you chose to take from St. Mungo's."
There was truth to what he was saying, but Tonks was not ready to concede, "Okay, I broke a rule! But aren't you glad that I did? You're not listening to what I said, Lupin is missing! I'll take the pay cut or retribution exercises, or whatever! That's not the point right now!"
"Did you ever stop to consider that there might be an alarm on the building? That I might have to send a team of aurors there to investigate the breach?" Before she could say why that wasn't probable, he cut her off, "Think, Tonks! With the war mounting, we've hardly had time to do a sweep of the premises and make certain nothing conspicuous to the Order was there. Though I knew it was probably you, I couldn't very well take the chance, especially when part of me wants to believe that you wouldn't be stupid enough to go running off and breaking rules when the whim hit you. If you'd come here like I'd asked, I could have told you that I had sent Lupin on a mission."
It was a backhanded compliment, the only kind that Moody ever gave, though she suspected this one was not intentional. Irritated, she snapped, "Well, where did you send him? When will he be back?"
"Across borders. Later. Asking any more questions will hurt your case."
Just then, the fire place blazed with green fire at that moment. A young man stepped out of the fireplace with more ease than Tonks could ever navigate the floo system. She recognized him as Aaron Bones, the spoiled nephew of one of the Interrogators in the Wizenmagot, and remembered training with him. They'd been fiercely competitive, though his lack of morals for sabotaging his competition had given him a slight edge. Moody had usually called him out on it, though, and they'd come to a sort of understanding when both of them had made the cut. In a moment of cynicism, though, she was sure that he was here to make his final blow.
To her surprise, he looked nervous to see her there, and was reluctant to answer when Moody barked out a question about what he had found. Their teachings are contradictory, Tonks realized, because they teach us to stick together no matter what and know that you can trust your fellow auror with your life and limb, but they expected you to betray them if they fell out of favor with one of the instructors. It lead to a very uneasy friendship among the workers. Stiffly, he snapped his body into attention -- back straight, eyes focused on point ahead that was not the instructor, arms in front with one hand clamped around the other wrist -- and began to give his report, "There was a breach to the premises. The window had been removed by a liquefying spell and nothing was apparently stolen or damaged."
"Was the premises secured when the intruder left?" Mood barked, pacing in front of the boy who visibly shrank from his superior.
Bones fidgeted, an unbecoming movement in his auror uniform -- black, skintight under armor that deflected all basic curses, allowing them to focus on more advanced work. A loose, two-part grey robe hung over his clothing that was adorned with awards, which were handed out after every big mission, he had won during his short time on the force. Around his waste hung a heavy belt that contained three pouches for potions, a slot for the wand, and a bag for papers, warrants, and identification -- and looked directly into Tonks's eyes as he answered, making the assertion that he did not feel guilty about it, "No. The premises was completely open. The window was not prepared and the door was left open and all of the lights in the house were turned on."
"Know you not the meaning of propriety?!" Roared Moody, his eye spinning around wildly in its socket as though her stupidity was literally making his head spin.
"Now, now, Moody," came Kingsley's deep, accented voice. Calm, as it always was, and slightly musical, "Your harsh words serve little purpose here. Say what you need to say and be done with it."
"Tonks, that kind of stupidity . . ."
"In as few and as neutral words as possible, Alastor."
Their eyes met for a minute, Moody angry and Kingsley with an arched eyebrow. Grudgingly, he accepted his colleague's advice, "We believe that you should take a break from your position."
"What? Why? I didn't do anything that terrible! I mean, sure, I broke some rules, but everyone does every once in a while!"
"Nymphadora . . ." Moody looked tired and his words were not unkind, "Can you promise me that you will not pursue this?"
Molly had been nervously standing next to her husband during this confrontation and now apparently thought that Tonks needed some comfort, "Would you like to sit down and have some tea while you discuss this, dear?"
"I don't want any sodding tea!" Molly's eyes widened and she placed the tea pot down on the table, pressing her lips together, and rushing off to the kitchen. Arthur followed her quickly, giving a not-so-kind look at Tonks. She did feel bad, but it would have to be dealt with later, "Moody, I'm not going to be kept in the dark and blindly follow orders. Aurors die that way. We have to be able to guide ourselves at least a little bit."
"Then there's my answer." Moody said calmly, "You will take a break from your duties as an auror until Lupin returns and I can trust you to focus again. Even then, perhaps you should consider a career change if you take such issue with following orders."
Tonks looked to Kingsley and Emmeline. The man inclined his head in agreement, though his eyes were sympathetic, and Emmeline opened her mouth as though she wanted to say something, but then quickly closed it and looked away. These were the highest aurors in the Magical Law Enforcement Division, and she knew that no one would go against them, even if they did agree with her on principle. Taking a shuddering breath, Tonks turned away from them and walked blindly through the house, out the door, and down the walk. No one called her back, which hurt her feelings more than she wanted to admit. She wasn't a child anymore, and it wasn't anyone's job to comfort her. And apparently, if not required to comfort her, no one would choose to do so out of goodwill.
For a moment she stood there on the street, 12 Griendelwald Place disappearing behind her as the houses slid back into their apparent positions. It wasn't clear where she should go next. All of her things were at the Dorms where aurors spent their first five years in service. Going back there was out of the questions,.though, because Tonks just couldn’t deal with the false sympathy and calculated advice of the other young aurors. Besides, she didn't know if she was even welcome back there, and she didn't think she could handle seeing her things packed up in the lobby, if that was the case. Seeing no other options, Tonks hailed a cab and gave directions for it to head to the fertile farmlands miles outside of London that gave life to her countrymen and had given life to her.