Author's note: This was originally written for the Metamorfic Moon anonymous fic challenge on Valentine's Day. The fics had to be less than a thousand words long. For some unknown reason I was not in the most romantic frame of mind at the time, so this is short and angsty, as opposed to short and sweet! It's set during HBP and inspired by Remus' quote in chapter 16, "I cannot pretend my particular brand of reasoned argument is making much headway..."
Them and Us.
The card is floating face up in the muddy puddle by his feet. He's forgotten what day it is, because when you are a spy the only days which matter are those where you make progress, those where there is none, and those where you report to your Order contact and try and pretend that anything you say or do out here can really make a difference.
It's hard to remember those early days when he'd actually thought he could.
"Is that...?" The boy who has just arrived next to him has seen it as well, and is staring at it with his eyes open wide.
"Yes." Remus stretches his foot out to obscure the sight for both of them, and feels the bite of the icy cold water as it starts to seep through the sole of his boot.
He smiles encouragingly at Lovel, who was once christened Jonathon, and who Remus quickly identified as someone who could still remember the love and care he'd received till he'd been bitten at twelve. The pull of that time, and someone treating him once more like a valued human being, is sometimes stronger than the five years of bewilderment and terror since. A perfect target for conversion, except that he lacks any influence within the main group.
Remus has lately begun to think he'd settle for the life of one rather simple youngster, if only to justify that this has all been worth while.
"Pull up a boulder." He gestures to the one next to him. "I could do with the company."
Lovel hesitates fractionally and then nods, folding up his tall, lanky frame into as small a crouch as possible, as is his wont.
"For you." He holds out a cooked chicken leg. "The others are back. They saw Greyback. They're talking about how we don't want anything to do with them, and they should fear us."
Remus nods, rather absently, and with no sense of surprise, as he listens. No matter what he says or does, it always comes down to this.
Them and us.
The card has moved and is now floating directly in front of him again. Underneath the picture of a witch holding a large red heart, is a message.
…and we will never be apart, because you know you hold my heart.
Remus doesn't allow himself to think of Tonks during the day time; he can't. It's in his dreams that she's always with him. Last night he found himself explaining to her that there's no place left for him now in either world. Tonks smiled at him with her dark eyes, and her face became Dumbledore's. "I'm trying my best," Remus said angrily to him, and then added, "but people keep dying anyway. At least I've saved Tonks." He turned around to show him and Tonks was dead on the floor at his feet. "At least," Remus said, "you'll be able to give her a nice funeral. That makes everything worthwhile, doesn't it?"
"I've never had one of those. Nor likely to, I reckon." Too late, he realises Lovel has stopped talking about Greyback, and is now looking in the same direction as him. "Have you?"
"Yes." Remus says it shortly, because he's always emphasising that there is no reason why they can't live in the wizarding world, and have relationships, so he has to. He'll skip the part about ripping people's hearts out while doing it. "What else did—"
"You've had a girlfriend then?" Lovel's pale, thin face is screwed up wistfully. "Really?"
"Really. Did everyone believe what—?"
"Did she know you were a … you know? She can't have done!" Lovel stares at him, and Remus suddenly knows it's a pivotal moment, and one that's likely to sink him at the same time.
But when it comes right down to it, he's never going to deny what Tonks means to him to anyone, just that they can ever be together in this world. And it might give Lovel hope, in the same way that seeing her in his dreams each night gives it to him.
"She knew exactly who and what I was," he says, quietly and clearly, so that Lovel can hear the truth. "She knew from the first and she was my friend, long before we fell in love. There are many, many people out there who don't judge on a single word."
"That's…" Lovel's mouth is open as he tries to find the words. "What's she like?"
Like a brightly coloured butterfly from which I've taken all the life and left a dull brown moth in its place.
Remus smiles. "She's beautiful. She'd make you laugh."
"Like you do." Lovel nods, his face split in a wide grin. "Not like the others."
The others haven't had nearly as much to laugh about as Remus has in his life, but he keeps quiet because he's waiting for Lovel to work it out.
The broad forehead is wrinkling in puzzlement. "So why aren't you with her?"
Remus takes his time chewing a bite of chicken and swallowing before saying slowly, "Sometimes things aren't ... meant to be."
"She did leave you then! Because you're a werewolf!"
"No." Remus holds his hand up to stop him; really he should hold them both up as an admission of guilt. "I left her."
"But." Lovel is staring at him. "I don't understand—"
"It wasn't fair to her."
"But, you said … I don't understand. You left her, because you're a werewolf!" The last words are almost shouted.
"Yes." Remus nods.
Lovel gets to his feet. "I'm going back to the others."
"Don't." He's backing away, his face alive and angry. "Don't call me Jonathon. It's Lovel."
Remus watches as the boy breaks into a shambling, distressed run and leaves him. He looks again at the card, still gently moving in the puddle.
The red ink is bleeding rapidly into the water now, leaving the heart a vivid pink.
Anyone who is kind enough to leave a review after this little angst-fest will be assured that Remus and I will both do much better next Valentine's Day. ;)