Summary: How Remus and Tonks got through that last year.
Rating: strong PG-13
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Remus/Tonks (implied Remus/Sirius, Remus/Sirius/James, Harry/Ron/Hermione)
Warnings: Metamorph kink
Spoilers: Through book 7
Notes: Thanks to slightlytookish for beta reading and encouragement.
Original Story: Or it's Me by tyleet27
Dora held his hand through the ceremony and squeezed it while Bill and Fleur exchanged their vows. She might have been smiling, or she might have been crying – Remus wouldn't look.
Instead he found himself staring at the back of Harry Potter's curly orange head. It must be nice, he thought; he'd like to be ignored as one more Weasley cousin – human, unremarkable, if only for a few hours. Instead, Remus knew he was being ignored purposefully, aggressively.
They hadn't invited any friends to their own wedding, first off because all his friends were dead or missing or mad. And of the half-friends and acquaintances he had left, he couldn't face knowing which ones would reject him and how, with guilt or with pity or disgust.
Afterwards Dora asked him to dance and his answer must have been harsher than he thought, because she didn't ask again. Nothing they had to say to each other could right now be said in public anyway. They'd have time to argue some more later.
Remus wandered the crowd on his own, watching the young and old couples dancing. Missing the ones who were gone but seeing them all the same, as if the celebrations of decades past were still going on, called up like ghosts by the same old sentimental love songs. He watched Bill and Fleur and thought of Frank and Alice at their wedding. He watched Ron and Hermione and thought of James and Lily, who were engaged by then and believed their future was bright. He watched Harry standing alone in his disguise, watching Ron and Hermione, watching Ginny, and he remembered himself that same long-ago night, standing alone and watching the others, thinking he was alone until Sirius strode across the room to take his hand.
He didn't approach Harry for fear of compromising him somehow. Even if no one recognised him, it might not do for "Barny" to be seen talking to the werewolf. Still, it wouldn't hurt Hermione to exchange a few words with him. She startled when he spoke behind her shoulder and nearly spilled her champagne. But when she turned and recognised him her smile was genuine and almost happy enough to be contagious. Her face was flushed from the dancing and the drink, and Remus felt worn and faded under her bright eyes.
"Will you have some champagne, Professor Lupin?" she said, already pouring him a glass. The formal address sounded odd, since he no longer thought of himself as a teacher and her sure, graceful movements were nothing like those of the little schoolgirl he'd known.
"You look beautiful," he said. "All of you do." She smiled, blushing deeper, and he took the glass from her and drank.
"Poor Harry," she said quietly. "You'd think it would be all right for him to dance with Ginny at least a little, since no one can even tell who he is. You wouldn't have known, would you?"
He shook his head. "Not if Arthur hadn't said. Dora knew right away, but then she's never really fooled by that kind of thing. You all look different to me now though. It's horribly cliché, I know, but I can't get rid of the image of all of you at thirteen, cowering in front of a cupboard. It's quite a surprise to see these strong adults in front of me now – well, you were always strong."
"I don't feel very strong right now," she said, shaking her head. "Harry thinks he can go off on his own, and Ron will follow him, with or without a plan, and I just...I'll stick by them, of course..."
"You'll do more than stick by them," he said, "you'll help them. They'd be lost without you."
She nodded. "I'll do everything I can, but I can't feel as confident about it as they seem to."
They both looked at Harry again. "He really is extraordinarily like James," Remus said, sensing from Hermione's posture that he should have held his tongue. "Or maybe I just think that because he looks so much like him," he added, trying to soften it, "most of the time, that is."
She laughed, but he knew he'd hurt her. "Right now he looks extraordinarily like a curly-haired Ron. It's a bit disconcerting for someone who loves them both." She gulped champagne and looked away.
Ever since he'd met them on the train he'd wanted to be a friend to them as well as a good teacher. He'd wanted to be the sort of person they could confide in and rely upon. Hermione clearly needed that this evening. For all her cheerfulness she must be terrified, and being an analytical person she'd want to talk it all out.
But the moment was gone; she wouldn't open up to him now. And why should she, if he was going to compare Harry to a man who'd died at twenty-one? Might as well say, if you don't get killed yourself in this war, you'll end up a wreck of a survivor like me, standing alone at the next generation's parties.
Hermione understood Remus though, better than the other two at least. Besides being out of line, Harry was just plain wrong when he called Remus a coward for leaving his wife and unborn child. Remus wasn't the one repeating James's mistakes, for God's sake, that was Harry. Remus was just trying to keep Dora safe, but Harry wouldn't listen, would he? While Remus and Harry were throwing around insults and hexes Hermione was pleading for calm. If she'd been the one in charge perhaps they'd all have sat down with a pot of tea and talked through it.
She left me, Remus would have said, she was the one who packed up and took everything to her parents' house. And Hermione would have understood, but she wouldn't have stood for that kind of half-truth. Because Dora'd only left after Remus asked if there was any way she could get rid of the baby. So it was just as well they didn't sit down with that pot of tea, because Harry never would have forgiven him for that.
Dora stayed away for several weeks, showed up just before the full moon to help him through another transformation without Wolfsbane. He yelled at her, told her to leave, said it was bad enough she put herself in danger every month, but not the baby.
"What's that, the baby you don't want me to keep?" she snapped, and she wouldn't leave. She'd never been much of a nurse, and she was still too furious at him now to be a tender caregiver. But as an Auror, well, she knew how to keep him from doing much damage to either of them. When Remus came back to himself the flat was a shambles but there was very little blood. She'd left a note saying she was fine and he knew where to find her if he needed anything. He owled to thank her but didn't go to visit.
A week later she showed up again, let herself in with the key she'd kept.
"I'm all right," he said. "I don't need anything."
"Glad to hear it. Turns out I need you a little more than I thought." And she kissed him hard, pushing him up against the wall with her whole body while he stumbled back in surprise. "Pregnant witches and their cravings, you know," she said when she broke the kiss. "Best not to deny us."
Then she started taking off his clothes.
Over the next few days they went through a dozen fights and as many apologies. Sometimes one or another overlapped with the sex, and for Dora that was good, it all added to the intensity, but Remus couldn't feel it. He was just repeating words and movements from the past, emptied of their meaning.
But sometimes that was enough, sometimes it was all he wanted. One evening she showed up wearing wiry black hair, pureblood grey eyes and an old leather jacket, and when she pinned him to the wall that time he could feel the hard prick under her trousers.
"This is sick," Remus said when he could breathe again, then he kissed her some more. "This is perfect. Only...younger. Please, show me, before Azkaban."
Grinning wickedly, she smoothed the wrinkles and scars from Sirius' face, filled in the flesh. She kept the gleam of her family's madness in her eyes but took away the anger. "I knew I couldn't be the only one who missed this," she said.
Because of course it wasn't the first time. Last year, when all of it was mad, the very idea of them being together was wrong, so throwing some transmetamorphosis and paranecrophilia into the mix, well, who was it going to hurt that wasn't hurting already?
Since then Remus had sworn to honour and obey Nymphadora Tonks to the end of his days. And since then she'd acquired a jacket that smelled like leather and like the man Remus would always love more. And the need to tear off all those other clothes, to touch the body she'd put on just for him, made him forget all questions of morality and loyalty. He reached for her shirt and tore.
She shoved him away and toward the bed. "Hands and knees," she commanded in a near-perfect Padfoot growl, and Remus the faithful husband obeyed.
Afterwards they lay together in bed, naked man and woman. He hadn't watched her change back – she'd done it while he was still under her. She said a cock was fine for fucking but if they were going to lie around lazy for a while she preferred that he fondle her cunt and her breasts.
He liked that too. She was beautiful, with her hair still pitch black and long, spread out on the pillow, her flesh soft and full as Sirius' had never been. He touched her belly and wondered how much control she had over it, if she could keep the pregnancy from showing even as the baby grew. Maybe she could trick a mediwitch into declaring she was pregnant. Maybe that was all this was. Or maybe he could just pretend that for a little while longer.
Remus pulled the jacket from the floor and pressed it to his face. "Where did you find this?" he asked.
"You mean you've had it all this time?"
"What? No. If I had something this good would I keep it from you? I was there an hour ago. Figured I'd check in on the kids, and see if I could dig up a few of his things while I was there."
"You shouldn't go there," he said. "It's dangerous."
"Oh, shut it, I'm a master of disguise."
"Or mistress, as the case may be."
"Exactly. It is creepy though, isn't it? With Dumbledore and all? And I think Walburga hates me even more now than when she was alive."
"She's got a thing about impure bloodlines."
"Yeah, kind of figured that out." She sighed, kissed his shoulder. "I've got good memories there too." Meetings of the Order, being reunited with Sirius after Azkaban, trading kisses with him and Remus in the corridors. "And it's good to see the kids, but I sure don't envy them, living there. Too many ghosts in that house."
"There are too many ghosts everywhere. I think they follow me around. How are they, anyway? Harry and Ron and Hermione. I haven't seen them since..."
"Yeah," she said, because they'd fought about that already. No need to go into it again now. "Hard to say. I get the feeling they're planning something big soon, though of course they wouldn't tell me what it was. And that's fine, it's good that they're being careful. But they're doing all right, day to day. They were making pasta tonight. Cute, really, they're like an old married couple except, you know, there's three of them." She laughed a little. "And they probably get on better than most married of the couples we know. Er, they may have noticed I was carrying that," she added, glancing at the jacket. "I told them it was yours."
Remus set it down quickly and he sat up. "You weren't wearing his other things, were you?"
"No, no, just carrying them, though I did drop a few things when I ran into them. You know me, bloody useless rubber arms."
"I know you," he said.
But that was the Tonks most people knew, the one who was so nervous, so eager to prove she knew what she was doing that she could barely balance on a broomstick. Like when Mad-Eye was watching. She'd got so comfortable with Remus though that he barely thought of her that way anymore. He saw it again now, saw her grace disappear with the post-coital calm. She sat up and put on Remus' jacket, not to enjoy the feel of it but to cover up her chest. She hunched her shoulders forward.
"They may or may not also have noticed that I was already wearing his hair and his eyes."
"What? I couldn't help it. I was just...anticipating. Getting in the mood." Her hands twisted in her lap. "They all love him, you know. It's not like they don't understand."
"Of course they understand, that's the point." Remus shook his head. He turned away from her, reached for his clothes. "We've got to stop this."
"Why, because you're afraid of what Harry Potter and his friends will think of you?"
"Back to what? You want me emo dirty brown like I was when I was chasing after you? Fine."
He kept his back turned as he got dressed. He didn't watch her change. When he turned back she'd pulled on jeans and a jumper that covered everything, mud brown to match her hair and eyes.
"We're adults, Remus, we can do what we want. Hell, Harry and Ron and Hermione are practically adults now. They don't need to be protected from our secrets. I'll be surprised if they don't start shagging each other soon enough. They can't be too shocked…"
"It's not! So what if someone told you it was wrong? They say the same thing about two wizards together, not to mention three. You never had a problem with that, did you? Did Sirius and James? Most people out there think your very existence is wrong. They don't want a werewolf around their children…"
"This isn't about that. It's different."
"Exactly. It's different and that's why you're condemning it. God, I thought we'd got away from that kind of nonsense when we left Blacks behind at Grimmauld Place."
"That's not what I mean and you know it. You're not even listening to me. I said it's different. Homophobia is plain old prejudice. What you and I have been doing is wrong –"
"It's not –"
"I said shut up and listen to me for a minute!"
She stared at him as if he'd struck her. He felt exactly as if he had.
"I married you," he said. "When we're making love I should only be thinking of you. I love you, Dora, I do. And bringing Sirius back in that way, in any way, it's not right. It's not fair to you."
"Oh, that's rich."
"You can't think this is what will make this marriage work."
She shook her head. "I don't have to listen to this." She stood up strode toward the door.
"You think the way to keep me is to pretend to be someone else? To grow yourself a prick so you can be a ghost fucking another ghost – "
"At least I'm fucking trying!" she yelled, and her voice cracked on it.
"You're not," Remus said. "You're just a pregnant witch with a craving."
He was the one who walked out that time, leaving her there, shaking, with her fists clenched.
When he came back late that night she was gone, and she hadn't left a note. She didn't come back at the next full moon or the one after that.
There wasn't a single dramatic reconciliation. He didn't go to see her because he couldn't stand to be without her, or because he wanted to forgive her or be forgiven, or because he wanted sex with her or with Sirius. He went because Kingsley told him at the Potterwatch broadcast that Ted Tonks had gone into hiding, and Remus knew Dora would be a wreck without him.
Except that when he got there Andromeda was the one who'd come undone without her husband. Dora looked healthy, her face and her belly rounder than when they'd parted. She was concerned but confident, occupied with taking care of her mum. It seemed to suit her much better than being taken care of. "Daddy's tough," she said to both of them, "and I've taught him everything I know about evading capture. He'll be fine."
Remus nodded in agreement rather than say what they were all thinking, that there was no way Ted could disguise himself as well as she could.
It didn't seem right to argue under the circumstances, or to slam doors or to leave each other alone, so Remus stayed. The three of them took care of each other as well as they could through the full moons and the empty weeks, the deep hunger and sudden cravings, the death and, finally, the birth.
"What's the news from Shell Cottage then?" Dora asked as, for the second time that day, he half-fell across the threshold.
"Weather's worse than it seems from in here, is it? Teddy's sleeping in his crib, Mum's with him. Here, let me..."
Dora took off his coat and, rather than help him up, sat with him on the floor. She was still tired but obviously enjoying getting some of her flexibility back.
"Shell Cottage is fantastic," Remus said, realising only then that he'd found out almost nothing from the people there. "Everyone's thrilled for us," he added.
"Right, yes, of course. How could they not be?"
"Harry agreed to be his godfather."
She nodded. "Of course he did. Everyone forgives you eventually." She kissed his forehead. "But please, tell me what they're up to. I never know what's going on these days."
She'd wanted to be part of it. Wanted to go undercover at Hogwarts, or anywhere, but as the pregnancy developed her metamorph abilities had got weaker. Even if she hadn't had Remus and her mum begging her to stay home, she wouldn't have been able to do much.
"Bill and Fleur are well, he looked healthy. Some of the kids are a little banged up. The Malfoys had them, but they got away, and their spirits are good. They've got some sort of plan they won't tell me about, as usual."
"I'm telling the truth though, they really are happy for us." He might have been trying to convince himself more than her. It really was hard for him to believe how good it had felt, talking to them again, sharing a little drink. Strange to think that Harry and his friends were still thinking about facing death. Remus could remember the last time he'd been so happy.
"And I really am happy for us," he added, because there was no sense keeping it to himself. "I'm not pretending. I know I've made some mistakes…"
She just shook her head, grinning. "Like I said, we all forgive you eventually." Her happiness shone through in bubblegum pink for the first time in months. He never thought he'd be so happy to see her change.
"I've missed you so much," he said, and she grinned even more.
"I've missed me too," she said. "You get it now, don't you? You get that it's still me."
"I think I finally do."
"Changing…that's what I do, that's who I am. It's not a disguise. When we're together, you don't ever forget that it's me. If you think about him, or about James, any of them, that's just extra. It doesn't take away from what we have. At least, not for me."
Remus nodded. "Any more than my loving Teddy takes away from my loving you."
"That's it, that's it exactly," she said, and he wondered how he'd been so daft as to refuse to see it before.
"Please," he said, "please don't tell me that, now that you've got it back, you're ready to charge out there and – "
"No, not just yet. I can't leave him, I can't leave you." She laughed softly.
"What is it?"
"I thought you'd be the one to go, to leave me. Since you tried to, that once. But you won't, will you? If we have to fight, we fight, but we'll go together."
"Yes," he said. "I promise you that. Together."