Welcome to my Lupin/Tonks one-shot series. Most of the chapters I've drafted are on the angsty side, although there will be some fluff in there too. Hope you enjoy. First up, here's a one-shot set in the Spring towards the end of Half-Blood Prince.
The Mason's Arms
These days it was unusual for a member of the Order of the Phoenix not to be round at the Burrow for tea. Molly enjoyed having extra visitors to fuss over, and it was good for everybody to have seen each other to discuss developments and ensure they were all safe. If anybody hadn't been for a couple of weeks Molly would send an owl to check how they were and invite them over. Kingsley would reply to say he was pre-occupied with other matters but thanks for the invite and Mad-Eye would express the same sentiment is much fewer and less delicate words. Others, however, would accept the invitation and tell Molly not to go to too much trouble, which she would anyway. On this particular occasion, Remus Lupin was the guest at the dining room table. Fred and George had popped in to pick up Charlie's old cauldron and their mother had inevitably persuaded them to stay for pudding. They flung questions and jokes at each other, their parents and Lupin as they wolfed down their lemon curd tart, but Remus could only muster vague answers and weak smiles in response. This did not escape Mrs Weasley's notice.
"Are you alright, dear?" she asked eventually.
"Yes, fine, excellent. Thanks Molly," Remus replied, hating how forced his voice sounded. Then he blurted unexpectedly, "Arthur, would you like to go to the village pub later?"
Arthur looked up from his bowl, surprised. "The Mason's Arms? Err, yes. Alright then. I should have some Muggle money somewhere,"
"I do," said Remus.
Everybody glanced at him with confused expressions. "It's, ah, an old habit. When I struggled to find work in our world I would live among Muggles. I did odd jobs- gardening, cleaning, helping on buildings sites. Just a few weeks at a time in one place, I'd leave before the full moon. I still like to keep Muggle money on me, in case- well. It's an old habit," he repeated.
An awkward silence followed and everybody stared down at their lemon tart.
"Well, we'll head down after pudding, shall we?" Arthur said bracingly.
"Yes. I'd be grateful for that, Arthur". Remus cringed again at the stiffness in his voice.
The twins must have Lupin's discomfort, because one of them changed the subject by saying loudly, "So Mum, you should have seen this bloke who came into the shop the other day…"
It was raining outside by the time Arthur and Lupin arrived at the Mason. Arthur swung his cloak off and hung it on the back of his chair.
"Two beers, please," he chirped at the barman, proudly omitting the 'butter', "Now, Remus you'll have to give me a hand with the money,"
"I'll get it," Remus insisted, reaching into his jacket pocket.
"No, you're our guest. And you know I like a chance to test my Muggle maths". Arthur took out his own wallet and began searching through it, "Now, the paper is more than the coins. That's always interested me; you'd think it'd be the other way around. Ah, so if I give you a tenner," he said impressively, "That should be enough?"
The barman was perplexed at Arthur's running commentary but he took the note and handed Mr Weasley his change. Arthur managed not to stare at the strange coins too long before stuffing them in his wallet. Remus drummed his fingers on the bar while the barman pulled the tap down to pour them both a beer and then put both on the table in front of them.
"Thanks," said Arthur. He raised his glass to Remus, "Cheers,"
Remus tipped his head and they clinked glasses. Arthur took a sip, swallowed hard and tried to wince too hard- Muggle beer was much tarter than wizard butterbeer. Remus noticed and laughed.
"It takes some getting used to," he smiled.
"Always takes me by surprise how bitter and bubbly it is," Arthur replied, "Ours is smoother isn't it?"
"I prefer the Muggle type, I had it a lot when I lived amongst them," Lupin shrugged, "Or perhaps I'm used to the bitterness,"
Arthur wanted to ask him more about living with Muggles, but resisted the temptation. After a few seconds of empty silence, Remus asked in a tone which suggested he had been carefully planning what to say, "Arthur, I was wondering if, as a friend, you might offer me some wisdom,"
Arthur wasn't surprised. He'd suspected that there was a reason for this outing and he told Lupin so. "Go on," he added.
Lupin got straight to the point. "You're aware that Tonks and I were briefly in a relationship last year,"
Ah. So that's what it was about. Molly had been very keen on the two of them despite Arthur's best efforts to keep her out of the way. He wasn't sure what happened between them and had thought it best to avoid the topic, although everybody had been concerned by Tonks' lank hair and dejected manner.
My Weasley nodded and Lupin continued, "I ended it in shortly after Sirius died. Not because I was unhappy with her, quite the opposite, but for her sake. I'm more than a decade older, I can rarely find work, I have an affliction which is hardly a secret and would have made her an outcast sooner or later, not to mention being terribly dangerous to her. It was for the best,"
"But," prompted Arthur.
"Well, Tonks was hardly pleased about it. I tried to keep my distance- that's one of the reasons I agreed to spy on Greyback. But with that avenue exhausted and things being how they are now, avoiding her has become rather more difficult,"
"She's not one to go quietly, is she?"
Lupin laughed, but it faded quickly and when he spoke his voice was solemn. "She wants to marry me,"
Mr Weasley put his glass down. "Ah".
"It's mad, isn't it? Surely it's mad, Arthur, but I don't know what to tell her, I've been through all my reasons again and again and she says she doesn't care," Lupin blurted. Arthur had never heard him say so many words so quickly, "And then, well, what if she's right? What if it shouldn't matter and we should," he could barely get the final words out, "be together,"
A pause greeted these words while Arthur digested them. "Do you love her?" he asked.
"Yes. But that's not enough, is it?" Remus asked, wincing as if in pain, "Is it, Arthur, I don't know, I don't know what I'm doing here, it's all new to me. I only want to do the right thing,"
He's out of his depth, Arthur mused to himself, poor boy can't have much experience of this. He vaguely remembers Sirius sprawled on the table at Grimmauld Place last year, teasing Lupin about a girl they'd been at school with. And of course there were the rumours about Sirius himself and Remus. Arthur didn't wish to know any more about that but if anything had happened between them it must have started when they were teenagers. He supposed that Lupin might have had a girlfriend (or boyfriend) or two since, but Arthur doubted he'd been in love before. Arthur well remembered the all-consuming exhaustiveness of first love. But with Molly it had been easy and fun, even in the middle of a war. They were seventeen and excited. The man sitting next to Arthur in the throes of first love was twice as old and had lived and lost and been lonelier than Arthur Weasley could have imagined at seventeen.
Arthur considered what to say next, and eventually settled on telling Remus: "My oldest son is engaged to a woman he's been with less than a year, and who his mother struggles to hide her dislike for". They both laughed sheepishly, "He's seven years older than her, too. I don't need to tell you that we're far from a wealthy family, and it could hardly but a worse time for a wedding. But he loves her, and she seems to love him. She's a nice enough girl and she makes him happy. I can't say it's worked out exactly how I'd want it for him, but that's life and that's certainly the way of the world as it stands for the next few months". Molly was being dramatic about it as always, but Arthur reckoned that Bill and Fleur had made their minds up so it was his job to support them.
"You're very collected about it," Lupin noted.
"I understand them. Molly and I had a short engagement and a wartime wedding," Arthur pointed out with a shrug.
"She says that's different to Bill and Fleur because you were made for each other,"
Arthur rolled his eyes affectionately. "Remus, most young couples believe themselves to be the exception to the rule because they're made for each other,"
"I can't imagine anybody less made for Tonks than me," Lupin sighed. That's rubbish, thought Arthur, glancing at him gazing miserably into his beer glass. Admittedly they weren't the most obvious match in the world, but they were both loyal, clever and brave. They both knew what it was like to be different. They were like Arthur and Molly in some respects- she was hot-headed and outgoing where he was more ponderous and reserved.
"You're too hard on yourself," Arthur told Remus.
"No, I'm a realist. What can I give her? I've no money, no house- I've only got a job because of Voldemort. Our marriage would be an embarrassment to her. One day she's going to realise that so it's better I spare us both from that humiliation and pain. She's just too young to understand at the moment,"
"She's not that young; she was at school with my oldest boys. Charlie remembers her from Herbology. They grew up during the last years of the war, when things were at their worst. They remember what it was like,"
"They were children," scoffed Lupin.
"Harry's still a child and he's been battling You-Know-Who for years,"
Remus put his pint down on the bar and looked Mr Weasley straight in the eye. "You think I should marry her, don't you?"
"Yes". Arthur didn't hesitate to give this answer and he could tell that Lupin hadn't expected him to be so direct. "You'll regret it if you don't," Arthur continued. Maybe marriage is a bit soon but they could at least give their relationship another go.
"I'll regret it if I do. I know I will. Perhaps if it was just my age and my money it could be plausible. It is what I am that makes it impossible,"
Arthur considered pointing out that what Remus was, was a gentle, courageous, kind man, but he knew that this was beside the point. "Tonks knows what you are and she accepts it as we all do,"
"There's a difference between accepting it and being married to it. My transformations were difficult enough for my parents to manage when I was a child. Imagine what it will be like for her now? I can't afford Wolfsbane regularly, so every full moon I'd run the risk of-" he cut himself off abruptly, "It would incredibly dangerous and selfish were I to agree to this madness. If I love her I then should spare her this embarrassing affair. She'll look back on it as a brief childish infatuation born out of panic and fear. If I go through with it it'll be a grave mistake which damned her to life with a man who could kill her once a month". Lupin spoke firmly as if he had thought about this many times before which, Arthur supposed, he probably had.
"I'm not going to change your mind, am I?" he responded. Lupin seemed determined and Arthur wasn't going to do a Molly and try to force them to sort it out.
Remus looked dejectedly into his pint glass. Then, slowly, he closed his eyes. When he spoke his voice was pained. "She's so alive, Arthur. She makes me feel so alive,"
There it was, the agony. Poor boy's torturing himself telling himself he shouldn't have her, Arthur thought. He put a hand on Lupin's back.
"I know. I know," he said. How strange. Remus reckons Tonks and Bill are the rest are so young, but here I am comforting him like he's my son. Perhaps they were all too young for this. "Everything's going to be alright, Remus,"
Lupin lifted his head and sighed, "No, it probably won't be. Not for a long time at least,"
Arthur has used to Lupin's pessimism, but he had to admit that Remus had a point. He changed the subject, "Heard from Harry recently?"
"No. He's got a lot of his plate at the moment without worrying about me," Remus shrugged, "He's interested in my excursion to the werewolf pack but I don't think it's in his best interests to hear too much about it,"
Arthur didn't point out that Lupin had hardly told anybody what had happened during his stay with the werewolves. From the little information he had gathered he knew that it had been very draining and difficult, and Lupin's progress had been negligible. Lupin had returned home a few weeks ago looking looked even more grey and exhausted than ever.
"Ron alright?" Lupin asked.
"Seems to be, he's recovered from the nasty poisoning incident". Odd that talking about my son being poisoned is a relief.
"Well, I think he's cross that he's back in lessons. Reckons NEWT work is twice as hard as OWL,"
"He's not wrong,"
"He spends most of his letters telling me about his homework, his Quidditch practice, what Hermione's done to annoy him this week". Arthur rolled his eyes and smiled, "I suspect he doesn't tell us half of what the three of them are actually up to,"
Lupin nodded thoughtfully. Arthur risked returning to the subject at hand. "Remus, you asked for my advice, and my advice is you should let yourself be happy with the woman you're in love with. Tonks is an adult, and an intelligent one at that. She knows her own mind. Listen to her,"
He patted Lupin on the back again. Remus nodded thoughtfully and took a long sip of his beer. "Thank you, Arthur," he said at last, "I'll keep that in mind,"
"Any time, Remus. I mean that. Now," he said, pulling out his wallet again, "I'll get the next round. I want to see if I can pay with coins this time…".
Thank you for reading, please review. Look out for more chapters soon.