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The Vindication of Unrequited Love


Title: The Vindication of Unrequited Love

Characters and/or pairings: Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Sirius Black/Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks/Bill Weasley
Word count: 2515
Rating: PG-13
Highlight for Warnings: *general angst, a little Tonks bashing, though I really tried not to.*
Summary and/or prompt: A study of Tonks/Remus’ relationship and an attempt to keep Sirius/Remus canon while including the canon of book seven.
Author's notes: Remus/Tonks is the only part of book seven that I could not stand. So, I’m hoping this helps to explain my distaste of it. Furthermore, the movie scene of them reaching out their hands for one another is not included, because I feel that it diverged from book canon too much, and I always choose the book over the movie.



It takes her too long, in her opinion, to get over Bill. Yes, they were once a thing, back in Hogwarts, and maybe a little bit afterwards, as well. But then he went off to Egypt and conveniently forgot to write, and she had a life to get on with. So she jumps from one man to the next, easily tricking herself into thinking she’s gotten over him. And then the Order reconvenes, and suddenly he’s standing there, with his ridiculously long hair and a bloody dragon fang dangling from his ear. And worst of all, he’s got a new accessory. She’s blonde, she speaks French, and she’s part-Veela.

Tonks throws in the towel before she even tries to compete, and for most of the first year of the war, she has to force herself to be happy.

Then Sirius dies, and she doesn’t even try to keep up the façade. She and Remus comfort each other with long nights spent reminiscing about Sirius and all his crazy laughter and stupid games. They usually laugh until they cry and sometimes cry until they laugh, and as she falls deeper and deeper into their easy companionship, she finds that her feelings for Bill have gotten lost somewhere along the way. The dreams of ginger ponytails, dragon fangs, and words hummed against her skin like ancient curses are replaced with images of books stacked by the fire, long nights spent on missions, and the taste of chocolate so easily equated with Remus Lupin. Never one to ignore her dreams, Tonks decides to do something about them.

The first time she suggests a date, he tells her upfront that he really just can’t. It’s only been two months since Sirius’ death, and although she doesn’t know about them yet, she knows enough to understand that losing the last of his friends is a blow Remus is finding particularly impossible to take like a man.

“I’m too old,” he argues, four months after Sirius was killed by draperies with the help of Tonks’ deranged aunt. It’s Molly’s birthday, and Tonks has just tried to kiss him in the kitchen. He pulls away quite quickly, and she has to catch herself on the counter to stop from falling. He doesn’t bother to make sure she’s alright, he just runs out of the kitchen and back into the safety of the makeshift party that’s taken over the Order meeting that night.

“I’m too poor,” he rebuffs, when she makes another attempt right after Boxing Day. She’s been miserable for weeks, and Molly keeps telling her that if she doesn’t do something about the relationship, they’ll all be dead before she even gets a chance. This time, she tries for a date instead of a kiss, but he refuses quite adamantly and leaves the room before she can think of anything else to say.

“I’m too dangerous,” he whispers, after he’s shagged her into the mattress, three nights before the full moon of March. It’s their first time, and he’s as careful as the moon will allow him to be, but it still hurts to breathe when he’s done. Still, she musters up the energy to shake her head and deny that claim. He rolls off of her and collapses on the other side of the bed. They’re still close enough to be touching, but it isn’t the post-coital cuddling she’d been expecting.

“I still love him,” it’s his last defense, and it’s taken until the day before they’re to be married for him to say it. They’re sitting on their bed, drinking tea and waiting for the sun to set, because it’s a new moon that night and Remus wanted to celebrate. She isn’t sure why they’ve decided to get married after they just started dating four months ago, except that there’s a war on, and Dumbledore is dead, and life, at the moment, just seems to fleeting that their forced to do everything much too fast.

“I know that,” she counters, as though they’ve had this discussion before, when in reality it takes her a full minute to figure how who the hell Remus is talking about. When she figures out it’s her cousin, she wonders if he’s been using her all along. “But you love me too, don’t you?”

If it takes a moment too long for him to answer with a smile and a “Yes,” she shakes it off. He holds out his arm and she cuddles up against him. In the morning, she’ll be Mrs. Remus Lupin, and nothing and no one is going to take that away from her.

:::

“You must know that I don’t love you,” Remus whispers to her one night, right after Teddy is born. “I don’t hold you when you sleep, I don’t check in to make sure you’re safe and you have enough to eat, I volunteer for suicide missions because living is beginning to take too much out of me.” He has an infuriating way of rhyming when he’s hurt, or sad, or angry. Tonks has grown to love that, too, but she knows saying so would only make him more insufferable right now. “You must know that when he died, too much of my heart died with him to ever fall in love again.”

“But if you could,” she answers, all sad smiles and bright purple eyes, “If you could fall in love again, Remus, would you want to fall in love with me?” She knows the answer is no before he even shakes his head. Sirius was his everything, and now that her cousin is long buried and irrevocably dead, she knows that Remus doesn’t want to ever understand true happiness again. Even the smile he wore when Teddy was born, even the elation he must have been drowning in when he asked Harry to be the godfather, even the joy in his eyes when he heard Teddy’s middle name-even all those things hadn’t been enough to make the light in his eye burn again. Tonks is tired of fanning the embers, knowing that there is no promise of flames.

“I’m not going to live through this,” he sounds so certain of that, as though he’s looked into a crystal ball and seen the story of his life laid out in front of him. She wants to shake him for it. Shake him for telling her these things that break her heart and make her want to cry. She’s never been accused of being weak, but it would take a stronger woman than she to stand untouched against the wallowing ways of Remus Lupin. “You need to stay safe, Dora,” she hates when he calls her that, absolutely hates it. That was Sirius’ nickname for her, and she’s tired of how every move either of them makes has to include a sidestep around her departed second cousin. It isn’t that she doesn’t miss Sirius, she does. But Remus takes grief to a whole different level, and she can’t bloody stand it.

Her mother says that she needs to try and understand. What Sirius and Remus used to have, it was magical. Tonks doesn’t point out how redundant that adjective is, because maybe her mum is right, and she’ll never be able to compete with what used to be. She never thought she’d be this pathetic, and it kills her a little bit whenever he wakes up next to her with Sirius’ name on his lips. She can’t fight against a ghost who doesn’t even exist, especially not when the prize in question has been living with ghosts for almost half his life. Her mother says she needs to be patient, and that one day Remus will figure out how to be in love again. But there’s a war on, and that coupled with Remus’ cryptic predictions, she can’t help but feel like she’s running out of time.

“You have to survive so that someone can raise him.” And there he goes, playing the martyr again. She almost hits him, but it’s a week until the full moon and she knows his broken body wouldn’t be able to rebound quickly from an auror-inflicted blow. Not that she can claim that title any more. The moment the Ministry fell she had to disappear all together. Her mother’s been her secret keeper during dangerous missions before, so it’s only natural to ask her to keep her safe again. At the time, Remus had muttered something about never trusting a Black with secrets, and for that, he was slapped.

She doesn’t say anything. She isn’t about to make a promise she has no intentions to keep. She loves Teddy, probably more than Remus does, though she would never be presumptuous enough to say that out loud. But she’s an auror at heart and a Hufflepuff in her soul, and she knows that the moment the battle hymn sounds she’ll fight for her republic. There are others in the world who have not yet forgotten how to love-like her mother, and Molly Weasley, and her Aunt Mary-Beth. She knows that Teddy will have someone to look after him-should it come to that.

Instead, she turns her head away from Remus’ imploring gaze, whispers “Nox” with her hand against the edge of her wand, and lets the darkness overtake both of them. She’s been living in the shadow of the brightest star for so long that she’s grown accustomed to living in Remus’ world without light.

:::

They aren’t together when the battle begins, but then, they very rarely are. He’s hiding somewhere in London, trying to track down a stray werewolf rebel leader, and she’s at her mother’s, hiding out without the dignity of a mission. It’s a goat patronus that finds Tonks first, and a lynx that reaches Remus. Both silvery animals call for a rally at Hogwarts, and Remus leaves without listening to another word. Remus apparates to Andromeda’s without thinking. They all know he’s there for his son, but he actually looks regretful when he says goodbye to the women. There’s a quick kiss on Teddy’s head, and an even quicker one against her lips, and then, with a sizzling pop, her husband is gone.

Tonks holds out for a whole three minutes, which should have been a record in anyone’s book, before she leaves Teddy with her mother and bids a tearful goodbye to them both. “Be careful,” Andromeda says, and Tonks isn’t sure if her mother is talking to her, or her dad, or Sirius, or Regulus, or some other Black from too long ago. Her mum has a habit of mixing up years, and maybe she’s looking at her daughter but really seeing her sister, who, Tonks is hoping, will be ending the night in a body bag.

She lingers at her mother’s for just a few more minutes, because Andromeda is just as terrified as her daughter should be. But it’s Remus out there, in the middle of the fray, and somehow Tonks just can’t bear it. So she apparates to the Hogs’ Head and follows the passageway like Aberforth had taught her back when she was still in school and he was her favorite barkeeper. When she reaches the school, she throws herself, heart and soul, into the battle, and tries not to let the screams of the innocent distract her from finding Remus.

Aberforth tells her to find Dolohov, because Remus has been dueling him for quite some time. She remembers Remus telling her about Dolohov once; back when they were dating and she still thought he could learn to love her. She wonders if schoolboy grudges were going to continue to play a major role in protecting the entire Wizarding world. Then she takes off in a jog towards the cluster-fuck of bodies and hexes that has taken over the Great Hall, intent on seeing Remus one last time. She catches his eye in the far corner, and it’s just enough to throw them both off balance. “Duck!” she cries out, just in time, and Remus drops low before sending another hex towards his opponent. There isn’t time to watch, however, because a hex has just hit her back, and when she turns around, she’s almost unsurprised to find that it’s her crazy Aunt Bellatrix.

“Are you planning on murdering your entire family?” she asks, easily deflecting one of Bellatrix’s spells, “Regulus and Sirius are gone, Auntie. You already have the inheritance.” She remembers that Sirius taunted Bellatrix as well, and there’s a cold shiver down her spine as the epiphany hits. The only reason Remus ever wanted her was because of her similarities with the older Black. She wants to cry, but there’s a war going on, and somehow it all seems much too trivial right now.

“I’m not the one in need of the money,” Bellatrix cackles, throwing a more dangerous curse her way, “I’m not the one whoring myself out to a werewolf.” The second insult hurts more than the first, but Tonks doesn’t say anything back. She just stuns Bellatrix with a demobilizing hex before her attention is drawn away and she finds herself rushing off towards Dolohov and Remus.

She reaches them just in time to watch Remus fall to his knees in agony. It’s an archaic spell she doesn’t recognize that does him in, and in her grief, Tonks rounds on the man who killed him. “You bastard!” she yells, before employing every dark curse Moody’s training prepared her to fight against. “He didn’t deserve that.” Because underneath everything, underneath his manipulation and his appeasement and his sheer Gryffindor foolhardiness, Remus really had been the best man she’s ever met. And seeing him dead at her feet is tearing her to pieces. So she finishes Dolohov off with an advanced slicing hex, and tries not to smirk when he, too, falls dead.

But she’s a Black, even if only by half, and so she almost laughs when she realizes she’s killed him. Sirius may have been the one to hold Remus’ heart in his hands, but she’s the one who has avenged his death. The wave of vindication that follows makes her think of how hard it must have been for Remus not to kill Bellatrix the moment Sirius slipped through the veil to the land of the dead. Without hesitating, Tonks makes the decision to finish the job for him. She takes off in pursuit of her aunt, knowing that the insanity inherent in their shared bloodline is probably the fuel fanning the fire in her eyes.

It takes two more rounds of dueling before Tonks meets her untimely death. But it’s worth it; because Bellatrix deals the death blow from her knees, and Tonks has a feeling her aunt won’t survive the night, either. When the green light hits, it feels almost like love, too strong and too intense for its own good. Nymphadora Tonks goes down in a blaze of green glory, and when Molly finds her later, she isn’t surprised to see that there are two wands in the younger woman’s hand.

Comments

Oooh, very interesting! The previous relationship with Bill makes total sense with canon, especially considering Fleur's cutting comments about Tonks. And thank you so much for making Remus bi and not gay. It rings true to me.
I'm really glad you enjoyed this. Remus being bi has always been pretty much a given for me.
*nodding* This is a take on Tonks (and the Remus/Tonks and Remus/Sirius relationships) that works for me. Thanks for writing!
I'm glad it works. I tried to make it as realistic as possible :)
Oh, gods, this was so searing and perfect!

Just everything: Tonks' desperation, Remus' perseverating and his final resignation; her madness during the battle.

Beautifully done.

Putting it on my recs list.
Thank you so much for the rec!

I always thought the Black madness had to be hereditary, so Tonks had to be a little mad. :)
Molly keeps telling her that if she doesn’t do something about the relationship, they’ll all be dead before she even gets a chance.
Ha! Typical Molly.

I agree with drinkingcocoa -- a bi Remus makes so much sense.

I like the Bill backstory and your explanation of how Tonks comes to care for Remus -- very well-described, especially this line: as she falls deeper and deeper into their easy companionship, she finds that her feelings for Bill have gotten lost somewhere along the way. The dreams of ginger ponytails, dragon fangs, and words hummed against her skin like ancient curses are replaced with images of books stacked by the fire, long nights spent on missions, and the taste of chocolate so easily equated with Remus Lupin.

I also like the believable "Black" touches that you give to Tonks.

I'm a little surprised that she is willing to stay with him at all after that painful "you know I don't love you" speech. She and Andromeda are a lot kinder/more understanding than I would be! /g/

Thanks for this explanation -- I always enjoy stories that make sense of canon confusions.
I am all for making sense of canon confusions.

I think Tonks was genuinely a very strong character, I just think her self esteem was totally and completely shot most of the time. In my mind, she stayed with Remus because she didn't think she could do better than what he gave to her.
Yep. This is perfect. It's always been my perception that Sirius and Remus were lovers, but since she'd decided that Dumbledore was the gay character, well, couldn't have more than one, now could we? Hence Nymphadora. But there was just something so off about Remus's character in the whole of Deathly Hallows - as if his own creator couldn't convince him that he was in love with Tonks.

I really like that while you are showing us Remus as he truly was, so too, do you give us a realistic Tonks. Anyone who's been in an unequal or unrequited relationship knows intimately that they are lying to themselves and yet they just can't help it. Her little epiphany near the end is chilling, and yet she loves him anyway, in spite of his flaws and his endless self-castigation that ends up feeling an awful lot like passive-aggressive cruelty. She was just so ridiculously clingy in DH that I always felt like 'you deserved what you got'. Yours maybe the first Tonks where I've felt like she really deserved so much better. Head canon now. :-)
"there was just something so off about Remus's character in the whole of Deathly Hallows - as if his own creator couldn't convince him that he was in love with Tonks."

I completely agree with you about that. And I'm always happy to add to people's head canon :)
I think that I am a little bit in love with this piece (and with you) for this story. Part of it has to do with the fact that it's exceedingly well-written, part of it has to do with the fact that you actually made me like Tonks (a rare thing), and part of it (not to sound stuck-up) is that you seem to share my view of how it all went down with Remus/Sirius and Remus/Tonks. But a huge part of my love for this is how you so brilliantly added Bill into the picture.

Like you, I very much see Tonks as knowing full well that Remus and Sirius had been lovers. In fact, I think that she was okay with it. I also share your point that they probably bonded over Sirius' death, etc.

The "I don't love you," scene in the bedroom was lovely and poignant and actually made me feel a but sorry for Tonks. But I love how you made her strong at the same time: She never thought she’d be this pathetic, and it kills her a little bit whenever he wakes up next to her with Sirius’ name on his lips. She can’t fight against a ghost who doesn’t even exist, especially not when the prize in question has been living with ghosts for almost half his life. Her mother says she needs to be patient, and that one day Remus will figure out how to be in love again.

In fact, her strength really shone here. I loved the fact that she still considered herself a Black and that she was proud of herself for avenging the death of a man who was unable to love her in return. That is the Tonks I loved when I first encountered her in PoA, and I love you for bringing her back. Thank you!

And this bit was just gorgeous. The dreams of ginger ponytails, dragon fangs, and words hummed against her skin like ancient curses are replaced with images of books stacked by the fire, long nights spent on missions, and the taste of chocolate so easily equated with Remus Lupin. Never one to ignore her dreams, Tonks decides to do something about them.

Again, this was really outstanding!
This may be the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my work. Thank you so much for your kind words and your analysis. I really wanted to flesh Tonks out and bring back the woman I adored in POA and even OotP. I've always been a firm believer in Tonks/Bill, so I needed some way to bridge that gap.

Thanks for reading :)

August 2011

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