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24 July 2013 @ 04:40 pm
There's an Answer — For Sophie  
Title: There’s an Answer
For: Sophie
Characters/Pairings: Remus/Tonks, and Kingsley makes a couple of appearances
Rating: 3rd-5th years
Warnings (if any): Mild Profanity
Author’s Note: Sophie, I think you’re lovely and fabulous and that you definitely deserve better than this. I'm just hoping this is your kind of thing, because it’s not particularly summery, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t write a story with no angst in it, so there is plenty of that. I do know that you like this pairing and Remus in particular, so I hope that ship-wise, at least, it’s to your taste. This story is inspired (loosely) by the amazing song I Know There’s an Answer by The Beach Boys — I hope I picked a song that you liked!

Thank you to my amazing beta for getting this back to me quickly and leaving some great suggestions (and who will be named after reveals).



Tonks felt strangely nervous as she entered the Auror office, even though the occupants of every cubicle were far too busy dictating reports or closely examining books or articles to notice her. It wasn’t as if it was her first time there (she was in her second year of Auror training, and only yesterday had she completed her Concealment and Disguise exam), but she’d always been accompanied by someone, and she’d always had a good reason for being there.

Earlier that afternoon, though, she had received a letter from Kingsley Shacklebolt, with whom she had worked on a few occasions, asking her to come in. He hadn’t specified exactly why. Of course, Tonks had jumped at the chance, but it now occurred to her that perhaps something had gone wrong during her exam the day before, despite the fact that out of all her exams so far, that one had gone the best. And so it was with anticipation, tinged with trepidation, that she approached Kingsley’s cubicle.

Even from a distance, she could tell that he looked tired. Kingsley’s eyes clearly were not quite focused on the print before him, and he raised his hand to cover his yawn before looking up at Tonks and nearly jumping out of his seat.

“Hi, Kingsley,” she said, frowning in concern. “Er, if you don’t mind me saying, you don’t look great.”

“Well, that’s probably because…” He paused and checked his watch while another yawn escaped his mouth. “It’s six p.m. now. I’ve been here since seven last night.”

“Oh.” She wasn’t sure what else to say on the matter, so she made to sit down. At that moment, though, he shook his head and got to his feet surprisingly steadily. “You, um, asked to see me?” she said nervously. “Was it about the exam yesterday?”

“Not here,” Kingsley muttered. “Your exam went fine, Miss Tonks. Can I buy you a coffee?”

“’Course.”

A few minutes later, they were sitting in a Muggle café situated beside Holborn station in London, having ordered their drinks and chosen the table furthest from the door. It was relatively quiet inside, with only a few Muggles sitting at a table right at the front of the café; outside, Muggle commuters were rushing to catch buses, and one of them had nearly spilled his tea on Tonks on his way out of the café. Tonks was feeling more confused by the second, both by his request to meet her and their distance from the Ministry. “What was so important that you couldn’t trust the other Aurors with, Kingsley?” she asked.

In answer, he reached into his robes and pulled out some crumpled newspaper articles. “I thought you might be interested in the case I'm working at the moment.”

Taking one and smoothing it out, Tonks looked up, raising her eyebrows. “Since when do you read Muggle newspapers?”

He looked impressed. “How could you tell? There aren’t even any pictures.”

She laughed. “Well, my dad reads The Guardian sometimes, and he’s always complaining about all the typos he finds.” Picking up the cutting, she read aloud from the tiny column alongside the main article, “For example, look at this: the pervious leader of the opposition — it’s got to be the Guardian.”

“I once dated a Muggle girl who read The Sun,” Kingsley said wryly. “It had some… interesting pictures in it.”

Tonks just rolled her eyes. “Seriously, though, why are you reading Muggle newspapers?”

“Have a look. Tell me what you think,” he said annoyingly cryptically, just as her tea and his coffee arrived.

THIRD PERSON FOUND POISONED IN OWN HOME

A man who is yet to be formally identified, aged 20, is the youngest victim so far of the poisonings that have been taking place over the last three months. In a similar fashion to the other two victims (whose names have not been disclosed to the press and who are known only as “Vicki” and “Josh”), there was no sign of struggle or forced entry into his home. However, neighbours have reported seeing a man in his late forties, of medium build, with brown eyes and greying hair, entering at least two of the victims’ houses mere hours before their estimated times of death.

The London Metropolitan Police have refused to comment thus far, except to urge anyone with any information about the man described above to come forward.

She slid the article back to him across the table. “Since when are poisonings even Auror business?”

“Since two of the victims were wizards and one was a witch,” Kingsley said, “but they also — wait for it — were all werewolves.”

“I thought the Ministry had a record of all werewolves,” Tonks said, confused. “Wouldn’t we have known if they’d been killed?”

“Not everyone registers,” he explained, “especially not those who have just been bitten, and you can understand why. It’s not exactly something you want to own up to, not when it basically means you’re barred from most jobs.”

“Wow, that’s unfair.”

“Tell me about it. Anyway, I have a feeling I know who this man will go after next.”

She sat up a little straighter. “You know a werewolf?”

“We haven’t spoken in a long time,” he said quickly, taking a sip of his drink. “Ten years at least. His name is Remus Lupin. I knew him vaguely when I was at Hogwarts. He was a couple of years older than me. What I need you to do, Miss Tonks, is read up on the case — I have all the notes you need here — and then go to his house. Keep an eye on him until moonrise, at about ten tonight, which is when I’ll come and get you.”

“Because the full moon’s tonight?” Tonks guessed. He nodded. “And you think this man, Lupin, is going to let me, of all people, into his house to… watch over him in case a murderer turns up on his doorstep?”

Kingsley shook his head. “I’ve been looking for our suspect. From what I can tell, he’s a Muggle.”

“How would a Muggle know anything about werewolves?”

“I’m not sure. That’s what I’ve been trying to find out. He’s been seen around where Remus lives a couple of times, but he’s good. I'm sure he knows someone’s on his tail because he is definitely covering his tracks and is still on the move even as we speak. I'm going to try and catch him before he gets to Remus, but I need you to stay with Remus just in case I can’t.”

“But…” Tonks faltered, not really sure what to say. “I’m a baby Auror, remember. I’m not even qualified.”

“Then this will be an excellent learning experience and a great help to me,” Kingsley said swiftly. He finished his coffee and crumpled up the paper cup. “And no, I can’t ask anyone else. Most of the department is pretty anti-werewolf, thanks to Scrimgeour. They’d sooner accidentally allow the murderer to finish the job on poor Remus rather than try to help him, knowing some of them. But you — I have a feeling you don’t have their prejudices.”

“No, I don’t.” For a few moments, she considered. If she took the case, it would be her first time seeing real action and maybe even saving someone’s life, which was what she had signed up for in the first place. “Okay,” she said slowly. “What do I need to read?”

“Muggle police reports, autopsy reports, these articles and my profiling of our suspect.” A small pile appeared on her lap, and she could see Kingsley surreptitiously stowing his wand back into the side pocket of his robes. “Oh, and Remus Lupin’s address. Get there as soon as you can.”

“Got it,” Tonks said excitedly, already engrossed in the first article. “Good luck with finding the Muggle.”

“Thank you, Miss Tonks,” Kingsley said, getting up to leave.

***

Forty-five minutes later, Tonks was knocking on Lupin’s door, wishing she had an ID. After all, she wasn’t really an Auror, not yet. She looked too young, as well, which didn’t help. What if Lupin didn’t believe her when she said she had to protect him? It sounded so ridiculous in her head as it was.

But before she could yield to her misgivings and walk away, the door opened an inch. “Who’s there?”

Lupin’s voice was softer than she thought. She wasn’t sure what she had expected, but despite only seeing a sliver of the man’s face, she detected a certain mildness about him that she hadn’t anticipated. Trying to keep her cool, she said quickly, “I work with Kingsley Shacklebolt in the Auror department, and he asked me… well, I don’t think it’s something I want to talk to you about on your doorstep, Mr Lupin, so if you could let me in, that would be great.”

As quietly as possible, she exhaled slowly, hoping she didn’t sound as nervous as she felt. The door closed, and she swore under her breath, cursing her own lack of professionalism. Well, that had gone well.

But then she heard the rattling of a chain, and a moment later, the door opened fully. Before her stood a man who looked like he was in his mid-thirties, even if his hair, liberally streaked with grey, seemed to belie the youth still evident in his clearly unlined eyes. His gaunt jaw was scattered with messy stubble that was also peppered with the occasional grey. If it were even possible, he looked far more tired than Kingsley had, as if he hadn’t slept in a week. Still, Tonks detected some warmth in his eyes as he said quietly, “I suppose you’d better come in.”

He stepped back to let her pass, gesturing towards the living room at the end of the hall before following her in. She smiled at the haphazard arrangement of newspapers and half-full glasses on the table, settling on the nearest comfy-looking armchair without invitation. “Sorry about the mess,” Lupin said, waving his wand and Vanishing the clutter on the table. “I don’t usually get many visitors. Can I get you anything? A drink?” he offered.

“Tea would be lovely,” she said, noticing the steaming pot hovering in the air a few feet away. He nodded, waving his wand, and Tonks watched as cups floated gracefully towards both of them. Neither of them spoke, the only sounds being the gentle clink of china and the slow trickling of tea.

“Sorry, I already added milk and sugar,” he said, breaking through her reverie.

She shook her head. “It’s fine — that’s how I take it.”

“So what is this about, Miss…”

“Tonks,” she supplied. “Dora Tonks. I'm… in the Auror department, and as I said, Kingsley sent me to, er, ask you a few questions, if that’s all right.”

There was silence again, one Tonks broke rather inelegantly by loudly sipping her drink. “I haven’t spoken to Kingsley since James and Lily Potter’s wedding,” he said finally. “We didn’t exactly part on the best of terms.”

“He found out about your condition, you mean,” Tonks blurted out without thinking.

It was just a guess, but her suspicion was confirmed when the warmth in Lupin’s eyes that she had seen minutes before seemed to solidify. Then he closed his eyes, an unreadable expression on his tired face.

“Kingsley told you?” he asked. Strangely, Lupin didn’t sound angry, just resigned and, unless she was imagining it, ashamed.

“Yes,” she replied defiantly. “That’s what this whole case is about, Mr Lupin—”

“Mr Lupin was my father,” he interrupted. “Please, call me Remus.”

Tonks took a deep breath. “Okay, Remus,” she began. “I don’t know exactly how to tell you this, but someone’s after you. A Muggle, according to Kingsley, seems to have a vendetta against werewolves, probably because someone close to him died of a werewolf attack themselves. He’s already poisoned three werewolves, but that’s just what’s been reported in Muggle papers — he may have killed more, for all we know. This man has been seen in Tottenham a few times now, so it’s likely he’ll come for you next. That’s why Kingsley sent me, to keep an eye on you in case this man comes by and tries to, well, kill you.”

She waited, looking carefully at a spot above Remus’s shoulder, for him to tell her she was crazy, at the very least, that the idea of someone trying to kill him was preposterous, or even to say that he didn’t need a woman barely into her twenties to protect him. But he didn’t say a word. In fact, he didn’t even look surprised.

“I should have known,” he said softly.

“Known what?”

“I was relying far too much on the Ministry not paying attention to Muggle newspapers, but Robert was beginning to draw attention to himself, so I suppose it’s not a surprise—”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Tonks demanded. “Robert? Is that his name? Do you know him?”

“Robert Johnson,” Remus said slowly, as if each word he uttered cost a great deal of effort, “is a Muggle who knows a little about magic and potion-making and is trying to help me.”

“And as far as I know, he killed three people,” she shot back. “That doesn’t sound a whole lot like ‘helping’ to me.”

“He’s working on a lycanthropy cure,” he explained. “And he obviously needed to test his potion, so he asked a few werewolves if they could do so—”

“—and all three of them just happened to die as a result!” Tonks said hotly.

“Only because he hadn’t got it right,” Remus insisted. “And his test subjects were all fully aware of the risks if the potion didn’t work. I am aware, too. I know. It could kill me. But you have to see this from my perspective, Miss Tonks. Either Robert’s cure works and I am no longer a werewolf, in which case I will finally be able to get a good job and live a normal life, or else his cure doesn’t work, and yes, I die. But regardless of the outcome, one thing I know for certain: I won’t have to ever face a transformation again.”

Tonks closed her eyes. “Am I hearing this right? Do you have a death wish or something?” Part of her wanted to rile him up, make him angry, do anything to shift the permanently defeated expression on his face. But the dullness in his eyes did not dissipate.

“Miss Tonks—” he began.

“Just Tonks is fine,” she cut in.

“Tonks. You’re an Auror, aren’t you?”

“Baby Auror,” Tonks couldn’t help but say, and when Remus raised his eyebrows questioningly, she explained, “I’m still in training. Technically, I can’t call myself an actual Auror until I qualify, but Mad-Eye once called me a baby Auror as an insult and it kind of stuck.”

“You know Mad-Eye?” Remus said, surprised.

“Mad-Eye Moody, yeah. He interviewed me. Taught me a hell of a lot. And he was my examiner yesterday. Did you know him?”

“Yes, you could say that.”

It was clear he didn’t want to say any more on the matter, so, noticing they had veered off-subject, she said, “Anyway, back to you and your insane willingness to trust a man who could well be a mass murderer, for all you know. Why?”

He shook his head. “I never said I trusted him. But he could have a cure—”

“More likely his so-called ‘cure’ will kill you!”

“You’re an Auror,” he said again. “Or you’re going to be, at least. You’re able to have a good, stable, respectable job. No one will doubt your employability on the basis of what you are, Tonks. I, on the other hand, don’t have that luxury at all, especially with the latest anti-werewolf legislation that’s being brought in. What I am… it means I can’t hold down a job for more than a few weeks, not in any wizarding establishment, anyway.”

“You’re not a ‘what’,” Tonks told him.

“What?”

“You talk about yourself, not like you’re a person, but like you’re a—”

“—monster?” Remus finished bitterly. “But I am.”

“No, you’re not! You’re a human being, damn it!” she said loudly.

“I become a fully fledged monster once a month, capable of killing innocent people and not even realising how wrong it is to do so. Of course I'm not a human being. I stopped being that when I was first bitten, and that was a very long time ago.” She made to argue with him further, but he went on firmly, “I am going to Robert’s  house where he will administer the potion. And I am asking you nicely, Tonks, not to follow me or try to stop me, because this is what I want.”

And before she could say anything, Remus swiftly got to his feet and Apparated.

***

“I’m so sorry,” Tonks said to Kingsley for what felt like the tenth time that hour, slamming Remus Lupin’s underwear drawer shut in frustration. Nothing. She’d sent Kingsley an owl, telling him Remus had given her the slip and to come to his place. In the meantime, she had scoured Remus’s house, trying to find anything that could lead her to Robert Johnson. When Kingsley arrived, Tonks had filled him in on what Remus had told her about the man, and then they had continued to search the place.

“It’s not your fault,” Kingsley repeated patiently. “You didn’t know that Remus was looking for a cure. He was bound to get away — he caused all kinds of trouble when he was at school and was hardly ever caught, according to Professor McGonagall, so it’s not a surprise.”

“He looked a bit too buttoned up to be the troublemaking type, to me,” Tonks commented doubtfully.

Kingsley laughed. “Believe me, if you knew who he was friends with, I doubt you would have said that.”

As he spoke, he was non-verbally attempting to open Remus’s desk drawer. It didn’t seem to be working, though, and Kingsley began saying incantations aloud, as if that would make a difference.

“Blast it open?” Tonks suggested.

“No, because that might destroy whatever’s in there. The drawer’s too small,” Kingsley said, examining the desk closely.

After several moments of thought, Tonks raised her wand, muttering, “Accio key.” Nothing happened, but she hadn’t really expected anything. She didn’t lower her wand, though, instead saying, “Accio lockpick.

She wasn’t sure what would happen, or if anything would happen at all, but seconds later, a strange-looking metal contraption zoomed towards her. Instantly, she caught it and held it up to light. “What in Merlin’s name is that?” Kingsley said, staring at the lockpick.

“It’s a Muggle thing,” she informed him. “Burglars use them to break into houses.”

“And you think Remus—”

“If he was a bad boy at school,” Tonks said, now attempting to manoeuvre the pick into the lock, “I'm guessing he’s smart enough to safeguard his stuff against wizards the Muggle way. Makes sense for him to rely on lockpicks and not Alohomora.”

It took her a good ten minutes to work the lock, but finally, it clicked open. “Nice work,” Kingsley told her, though with some reluctance in his voice. “I never would have thought of that.”

She shrugged. “Perks of watching the occasional Muggle film with my dad, I suppose.” They opened the drawer. In it was a photo album, a few objects that twitched when Tonks put her hand near them and a slim journal. Tonks picked up the journal and out fell some business cards; immediately, she identified the one with the most frayed edges and read aloud, “Robert Johnson, Scotland Yard Police.” There was a long string of numbers after his name, as well as an address.

“That must be one of his aliases,” Kingsley said. “A Muggle masquerading as a policeman who knows about magic… well, he’s good. I’ll give him that.”

“What do you mean?”

“If he has that kind of clearance to get into crime scenes, then you can bet he’s probably tinkered with the evidence of the three werewolves already dead. And if he’s telling them he’s got a cure, when really, he just wants to poison them—”

“—then Remus could be next,” Tonks finished, grimacing.

As they prepared to Apparate to the address on the card, she couldn’t help but wonder about how scared she was for Remus. This was literally a matter of life and death, held in the hands of an elusive Muggle who seemed nearly impossible to catch. And Remus — she had never, ever met someone so self-deprecating, almost to the point that he was willing to die, all because of his condition. Part of her wanted to shake him by the shoulders and tell him to stop feeling so sorry for himself. But she sensed it was more than that, because she’d only met Remus today, and yet she already wanted to know more about him, to try and help him, too, if she could. He couldn’t die. Tonks wouldn’t let him.

When they arrived at an alley near Johnson’s address, they immediately ran towards number thirty-four. Tonks pulled out her wand as she swiftly made her way up the path, barely caring that there could be neighbours watching, and blasted open the door with a bang and a burst of sparks. Kingsley was at her heels as she ran down the hall, finding Remus alone in the living room. Wand raised, Tonks stayed where she was while Kingsley murmured, “Homenum revelio”, looking for their culprit.

Remus didn’t look entirely surprised at the incursion. “Hi, Remus,” she said, lowering her wand ever so slightly.

“How did you open the drawer?” he asked lightly, as if it were of no real importance. Tonks noticed a glass with a thick, grey liquid inside it sitting before them, and she raised her wand again.

“Don’t even think about it,” she told him. “And I worked out how to use your lockpick once we realised we couldn’t unlock it magically. Took about ten minutes, but I did it in the end. Kingsley thought the whole thing was bizarre.”

“I would, too. But Sirius used a lockpick to get us into—”

“Sirius?” Tonks said sharply, suddenly caught off guard. “Not… you don’t mean Sirius Black, do you?”

“The very same,” Remus said. “We were best friends — me, James Potter, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew.”

So that was what Kingsley had meant, Tonks realised.

“Why, did you know him?” he asked.

She wished he would stop talking, because she wanted to reply, but she also knew that he was trying to distract her. “Not exactly,” she said at last. “He’s my cousin once removed, I think. My mum used to get along really well with him when they were younger, apparently, but she doesn’t really talk about him anymore, not since—”

At that moment, she heard a commotion from upstairs, shouting and several loud bangs. That was all it took for Remus, who seized the opportunity and downed the potion before Tonks registered her mistake or could try to stop him.

“NO!” she yelled, as Remus’s mouth started foaming and his eyes began to get out of focus. “Kingsley, come down here now!”

With a crack, Kingsley Apparated rather unsteadily, holding a bound and gagged Robert Johnson.

“Bollocks,” he said under his breath, dropping the Muggle and going over to Remus. “Okay, we need an antidote, fast. I found his potion store upstairs, with a stock of the stuff he gave Remus, so go and get that. I’ll get a cauldron going.”

Tonks froze, trying very hard to process what Kingsley had just said, but the fact that there was a dying man before her did not seem to register.

“Tonks!” Kingsley shouted. “I need your help. He needs your help or else he will die, do you hear me?”

Blood rushed through to her head and it was as if she unfroze. “Yeah,” she said weakly, straightening up. “Okay.”

She Apparated upstairs, finding a huge collection of what appeared to be Muggle weapons — long black or brown sticks, little capsules of what looked like silver, an assortment of knives and, for some strange reason, rosary beads. But she didn’t stop to dwell on these; she had no time. Instead, she Conjured a bottle and filled it with the same glutinous grey substance she had seen Remus drink just moments ago, and then she turned on the spot and Disapparated back to the living room where Remus was now shaking uncontrollably.

“Sweet Merlin,” she whispered to herself as she handed over the bottle to Kingsley, who was kneeling in font of the cauldron he had set up on the fireplace. The contents of a potion kit spilled onto the floor. Their captive was still there, attempting fruitlessly to struggle, but Tonks could only watch Remus writhe in pain. She winced, looking away, and tried to focus on the antidote being brewed instead.

“There’s vampire’s blood in this stuff,” Kingsley said in disbelief. “And the left eye of a toad and a Bowtruckle’s leg… it makes you wonder how the hell he got hold of all this.”

“You’re going to need someone’s hair,” Tonks said, aware of how hoarse her voice sounded. “Allow me.” She used her wand, and the pink hair that fell gently into her palm returned to its natural brown before she added it to the cauldron.

“Thanks.” He kept stirring, and Tonks marvelled at how calm Kingsley remained throughout. She felt rather useless just standing there, so she went over to Remus, feeling his forehead and instantly flinching.

“He’s burning up, Kingsley,” she said worriedly. “I think it’s eating him up from the inside.”

“I’m going as fast as I can,” he said, not taking his eyes off the potion, and after adding what looked like salamander blood, he used his wand to fill a vial with the antidote. Tonks grabbed it from him, opened Remus’s mouth and poured it down his throat. He finally stopped shuddering and lay still, and she panicked for a moment, thinking that maybe Kingsley did something wrong, or perhaps the ingredients were too rare, or that she had flung the stuff down his throat too quickly. But then, to her immense relief, his eyelids flickered open. Without even thinking, a glass full of water appeared in her hand, and she quickly helped him sit up and drink it.

“Oh, thank Merlin,” she murmured. “And Godric and Helga and Bowie—”

“Who on earth,” Remus croaked, taking another sip of water, “is Bowie?”

“Never mind,” Tonks said softly, rummaging in her robes for a handkerchief and wiping his forehead.

***

Tonks was waiting for Remus the next day, having stayed up the night during his transformation in Robert Johnson’s basement. Kingsley had taken Johnson to the Ministry, though Tonks was unsure of his fate considering he was a Muggle. She had a feeling his knowledge of their world would be something the Ministry would hold against him, far more  than the fact that he had murdered three innocent people. After all, to the Ministry, they were just werewolves, not people, and perhaps, Tonks thought bitterly, for some, they would have wanted Johnson to finish the job more than anything.

She hadn’t been able to sleep. Remus had asked her to leave just before his transformation, but he had been weak at the time and didn’t seem to have the energy to keep telling her. Still, Tonks hadn’t anticipated the terrible howls that had emanated throughout the night and had only stopped at moonrise a few hours previously. After that, Tonks had been determined to stay up, if only to make sure Remus was okay after he had transformed.

The door to the basement opened, and out came Remus. The robes he was wearing was bloody and torn, but there was no blood on his face, and the cuts on his cheeks and scratches on his neck looked newly mended. An audible noise of frustration left his lips at the sight of Tonks. “You shouldn’t be here,” he said feebly. “You should have left when I asked you to.”

“I had to keep an eye on you,” Tonks said firmly, pulling up a chair for him beside her own. “Do you need any help with—”

“I’ve already patched myself up. I am fine, Tonks,” Remus insisted.

Though she thought about arguing with him, she knew better. He didn’t want her to even be there as it was. “Kingsley took Robert Johnson — whose real name, by the way, is actually Benjamin Davies — to the Ministry to be questioned. All of his potion stock has been confiscated and will be examined. Same with all those Muggle stick things he had upstairs.”

Remus nodded, closing his eyes, and the silence stretched on. Tonks didn’t feel discomfort this time; she just waited for Remus to speak, as she knew he would. “So are you going to say ‘I told you so’?”

She shook her head. “Not a chance. You… saw a way out. It was the wrong way out, definitely, and I still think he wanted you dead, but honestly, I never really thought about how difficult it must be for you to transform.” For a moment, Tonks hesitated, not really knowing if she should go on, but the words tripped up over each other before she could stop them anyway. “I heard you. Screaming. All night. And it was the most painful thing ever for me to just sit here, unable to do a single damn thing.”

“I didn’t have time to soundproof the walls,” he said apologetically. “Though you could have done it, I'm sure.”

“Don’t apologise. And no. I wasn’t going to shut you out and pretend I couldn’t hear you, because you were still there. That’s just so low.”

Remus looked up and met her eyes, and he wasn’t smiling, but a moment of understanding passed through them both that she could truly feel.

“So who was he, really?” he asked, breaking the spell and causing Tonks to look away quickly. “I mean, I know he knew more about magic than the average Muggle, by far, but from what Kingsley was telling me, he had an arsenal over here, both Muggle and magical.”

“He says he’s a hunter,” Tonks explained.

“A… a what?”

“A hunter,” she repeated. “He kills people. And creatures. Werewolves, vampires, poltergeists, Acromantula, to name just a few — he hunts them. Anything with a hint of magic in it, he’s after them.”

“Monsters, then.”

“You’re not a monster,” she told him immediately.

“We’ve already had this conversation, Tonks,” Remus said wearily. “I really would much rather we didn’t talk about it.”

“Fine, then.” Tonks paused, before blurting out, “We should go for a drink sometime.”

His eyes widened a little, and she could see incredulity and disbelief written all over his face. She was sure that was mirrored in her own mind, at least in part, because she had no idea where on earth that had come from, so she quickly added with a smile, “I nearly saved your life. You owe me a drink for that.”

Then Remus’s face cleared and he visibly relaxed. Tonks couldn’t help feeling a little let down at his evident relief that she meant nothing more than a platonic, friendly drink, but she tried not to show her disappointment as he replied, “I suppose so. One drink.”

***

Two weeks had passed since Tonks had worked the werewolf case with Kingsley Shacklebolt. Since then, Tonks had waited for Remus to send her an owl and tell her when he was free, but he hadn’t done so. Finally, on the pretext of giving him some information she had picked up from the Ministry, she had convinced him to choose the time and place.

“This is nice,” Tonks remarked, looking around the pub he had chosen. It was called The Princess Alice, a Muggle pub at the end of a busy street in East London. They were sitting at one of the tables outside, where they had both ordered cold beer. The sun was beginning its descent, and the few clouds in the sky became faintly orange, while, on earth, the warm air started to cool and feel tingly on Tonks’s cheeks.

“It is,” Remus agreed, and Tonks couldn’t help but notice the way he was addressing her shoulder rather than meeting her eyes. “So, you said you had something to tell me?”

“Yeah,” she said, deciding not to comment. “It’s about Benjamin Davies. Also known as Robert Johnson, David Jones and about ten other different aliases.”

“What about him?”

“He was trying to find a cure,” Tonks said. “It took a while for any of the Ministry to believe him, because he’s a Muggle and all, but it turns out his wife was a Squib, and when she was bitten, she became a werewolf. But her body couldn’t take the transformation, so she died just a few weeks after they both lost their son.”

“That’s very sad to hear,” Remus said.

“Really sad, yeah. Initially, because of his wife, he set out to kill all the werewolves he could, but then he started looking for a cure a few months back. He just didn’t care about who he tested it on, being a hunter and all. Actually, he had pretty much the same mentality as you: regardless of if you were cured or dead, you wouldn’t be a werewolf anymore.”

She hoped above all that she did not sound accusatory when she said this. Thankfully, he didn’t look offended, instead maintaining the same calm expression on his face, so she continued. “Vampire’s blood.”

“What about it?” he asked, taken aback.

“It was in the potion he gave you. Have you ever heard of that old myth, that if a vampire drinks werewolf blood, the vampire dies?”

Remus shook his head. “That sounds like a Muggle thing to me.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Tonks said, nodding. “But, see, in reverse, it’s got an interesting effect. Vampire blood is toxic, fatally so, to werewolves, just in large quantities. In small doses, provided it’s mixed with wolfsbane — which, by the way, is also poisonous — it can apparently relieve the more painful symptoms of lycanthropy.”

“How do you know all of this?”

“Mad-Eye introduced me to a potioneer called Damocles, who’s also been trying to develop a lycanthropy cure,” she explained. “He kept hitting dead ends because wolfsbane is so poisonous, but now he’s got something to counteract that, it looks pretty promising, so, well, I thought I’d tell you.”

“So it wasn’t a completely wasted mission for you, then,” Remus said.

At this, Tonks narrowed her eyes. “You’re still alive,” she pointed out, “and looking much better than you did a fortnight ago. I’d hardly call that wasted.”

“Yes, well, this is one of my two ‘good’ weeks in the month. Can I ask you something, Dora?”

Trying her utmost not to look flustered at the sudden change of address, she didn’t even have it in her to explain that she liked to be known as Tonks. She simply nodded, noticing he was finally looking her in the eye.

“Why do you care so much? I mean, I barely know you.”

“I’d like to change that,” she said, perhaps too quickly, but she was beyond caring now.

“So would I,” Remus said, to her surprise. “I just want to understand why on earth you’re even bothering with… someone like me.”

“I don’t know,” Tonks said honestly. “It’s just… when Kingsley told me I had to go and protect a werewolf from a Muggle, you completely defied any expectation I had of who you might be. I suppose, when it comes down to it, I may not be prejudiced against werewolves, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have stereotypes.”

A smile twitched at the corners of his lips. “What kind of stereotype?”

“You know, straggly beard, gravelly voice, no manners. Sorry,” she added. “God knows why I thought like that, because you are the complete opposite.”

“In a good way?” The faint childish hopefulness in his voice made something in her belly curl into flames and spread right through her middle, and she bit her lip, trying to steady herself. He was angled ever so slightly towards her, both elbows brushing the table’s edge, and unless she was imagining it, her knee chose that moment to bump against his.

“Of course. In the best way.” And before she knew what she was doing, she leant across the table, knocking over her beer in the process, just as he did the same. As he kissed her, she vaguely registered, in the back of her mind, the faint drip-drip of her beverage trickling into her lap. But all Tonks cared about was Remus’s hand tangling with hers and the searing sun raining its last rays onto their entwined silhouettes. Everything else, she thought, could wait.

End Notes: And there you have it! It ended up being far plottier than I anticipated, and perhaps I stretched canon somewhat with the discovery of the Wolfsbane Potion, but unless I'm mistaken, there’s no actual date for its discovery in canon, just that it was very recent, according to Remus. Plus, I like the whole idea of a Muggle being partially responsible for the creation of such an important potion. :)

This has been tons of fun and I hope you enjoyed it!
 
 
 
Sophiesophie_the_owl on July 26th, 2013 09:14 am (UTC)
It was tons and tons and tons of fun! I love it -- thank youuuuuuuuuu, mystery writer :D

I promise I didn't mind the angst, or the lack of obvious summery-ness. The fabulous happy ending was exactly what I had hoped for. And having it so plotty was great -- so many extra layers in the romance. I'm kind of struggling to find the words to express my love for this right now, but I couldn't have asked for more. Thank you again <3