Originally written for The Ersatz Diplomat on the occasion of her birthday.:D I think I've attempted to make up to Remus and Tonks for all the angst I've given them to deal with over the years here...
Into the Blue
A scorching, blue-sky day. Perfect for walking on the beach, except these weren't days of leisure any more, it was unlikely they would be again for a long time now Dumbledore was dead and the world was in disarray, and she couldn't remember the last time she had seen, let alone touched and smelt, the sand or the sea.
Afterwards, she could only marvel at how they'd all conspired. Probably best to abandon all thoughts of ever being Stealth Girl if they could get away with this sort of stuff around her: Kingsley swapping her shifts with an illogical argument he managed to make sound reasonable, Molly handing her 'a sandwich for lunch as I made far too many, dear,' and Mad-Eye sending her on errand surely anyone could have done to meet a likely informant at the coast.
As it turned out, she was the only one who could do it, and this was about as unlikely an informant as you could get.
Her heart missed a beat when she saw the thin figure waiting for her with breeze blown hair, unfamiliar Muggle clothing, and a small, rather cautious-looking smile tugging at his lips.
"Walk with me?" he asked, and the smile widened as he saw she remembered that those were almost the first words he'd ever said to her. They'd walked into the back garden of Grimmauld to escape Mundungus' pipe smoke in the kitchen and the after-meeting Order chat in all the other rooms, and sat on the rusty old bench to watch the sun dipping down in front of them. An hour later they were still there, talking about the places they'd come from, those they'd like to see, and she finally ended up saying she'd have no secrets left at this rate and he'd have to let her in on some in return.
He'd smiled. Said: "Oh, I don't envisage keeping any secrets from you, Nymphadora Tonks."
He had, though. Even if he hadn't meant to back then.
They walked along the pebbly shingle, not hand in hand but close enough. The black-headed gulls circled them overhead, crying eerily, and she could smell the seaweed and taste the salt in the air. There was a Muggle walking a large black dog in the distance (she automatically thought, with a pang, of another), but the early hour meant it was very quiet. It was just them, the gulls, and a white Muggle vehicle parked at the very end of the beach.
"You're not asking any questions?" he said, at last.
"Oh, so we're walking and talking? You didn't say anything about that." She stumbled slightly over a large pebble as she was trying not to laugh at the look he gave her. "You know me, Remus. Docile. Obedient. Behaving myself and following you to wherever it is we're going."
"All of which confirms my suspicion that I'm out for a morning stroll with a Polyjuiced Death Eater." He pushed his hair back out of his eyes, and she thought how the pale blue of the open-necked shirt suited him and that he looked better now than he had for days. "So no questions then?"
They walked on in amiable silence. They'd talked a lot in the days following Dumbledore's death, or at least Remus had, and it seemed to her that this was what he hadn't been able to do all year. To her, to the other Order members, even to the other werewolves themselves, he'd been saying the things he felt he had to. When he'd said to her, in utter exhaustion, "I don't want to be parted from you again," she knew he'd meant it and so she had no fears on that score.
Whatever he'd brought her here for, it felt like something she'd want to know.
"I used to come here as a child with my parents." He veered off to the right, making for what she thought was a large brown boulder, and she followed him. "It was always very quiet and we used to sit and watch the sea, and then they'd buy me an ice cream."
The boulder, she realised, was an upturned wreck of a boat. Half buried in the sand and weathered by a thousand storms. A gull which had been pecking at something close by scuttled off as Remus gently prodded the wood and then sat carefully down.
He'd left room for her. She felt the wood give a little under her, and grit or salt or sand dig into her thighs, but it all held more or less firm. She wondered how many people had sat there exactly like they were doing.
"When my father was trying to get me into Hogwarts, he brought me here." Remus hadn't looked at her, was gazing out to sea. "He told me that it didn't matter what happened, that I still had a place in this world and that I was never to think I hadn't. I almost stopped believing what he'd said at different times over the years, but I wanted you to see it."
She knew he meant there was another existence, another world going on here that was a million miles away in one sense, and yet not that far away in another, from their own. Wondered if he felt like she did, that no matter where they were, there was always a moment when it was just the two of them together in their own, isolated world that was theirs alone, and suddenly realised from the way he was looking at her that that was exactly what he was telling her. It was why he'd brought her here.
She reached for his hand to show him that she understood.
"Marry me," he said, his eyes naked and anxious, and though she'd half known, half guessed what he was going to say even before the words came out; had sort of known from the moment she'd got there, in fact, it still took her breath away with surprise.
She stared at him, trying to get her brain to accept that he really had said what he'd just said, and while she was doing all that he said in an uncharacteristic rush, "I know I don't say the things I should say to you nearly enough. That you deserve. But I want you to share my life. Such as it—"
She kissed him, grabbing him roughly and forcing back the words. "Don't you dare say such as it is!"
He blinked. She could see the smile he was holding back, the happiness lighting up his face and making him look so much younger. Boyish, almost. Somehow his arms were tightly round her. "Um, I was going to say such as it could be – and is - with you in it, Dora?"
That was all right, then.
She closed her eyes and felt the sun on her face. She'd never imagined anyone ever asking her, never imagined wanting to say yes to anyone before. Until him. Now she was having to imagine herself as a wife with a new surname (Nymphadora Lupin was the worst mouthful ever, and Lupin-Tonks was the second worst), and she'd always hated girls who flashed their rings non-stop in your face (there was no way he could afford one, anyway, and it didn't matter), and her parents hadn't even met him (her dad would go spare and her mother would be silent and hurt, which would be awful, on both counts), and it would probably cause all sorts of unbelievable crap at work and…
"Okay." She opened her eyes and grinned at him.
"Okay?" He looked half amused, and half worried still.
"Yeah, okay. Of course I will." She kept on grinning, a huge smile which felt as though it was splitting her face, and thought there was a distinct possibility she was never going to stop and that she was permanently deranged. A wife. His wife. She loved that the doubt in his eyes was not for the reasons it had been there all year, but simply because he couldn't quite believe she'd said yes. Like she couldn't quite believe he'd asked like that. Out of the blue. Under the blue sky. Something blue, anyway. She grinned again. "If you really think you can see me doing any wifely things."
"Well…" He gave her a look of pure mischief, the doubt disappearing fast. "I can certainly see you doing some very wifely things."
She flung herself at him in mock outrage at the same time as he pulled her towards him, and somehow they half tumbled, half sprawled down by the side of the wrecked boat where he kissed her, and she savoured every single second of what she knew they were both feeling.
A wife, she kept thinking. His wife. My husband.
Eventually, he pulled her to her feet, rather unsteadily saying something about not providing free entertainment for any passing Muggles (she asked him if he wanted to charge them), and they set off up the beach again with their arms round each other. There was the occasional stagger and lurch as they went, which he insisted was because of the unevenness of the pebbles, and which she thought was due to the fact that neither of them seemed that keen on standing up straight and walking under their own steam.
"Where are we going now?" she remembered to ask, after a little while.
"To get an ice cream." He nodded towards the white Muggle vehicle. "It's a tradition."
"When you ask a girl to marry you?"
"When you come to the beach. And when you ask someone to marry you. I've eaten hundreds that way."
"Right." She pressed her lips together to stop another grin. "You've had a really great time planning all this, haven't you?"
He gave her a look of mock indignation. "This kind of spontaneity doesn't happen without a great deal of forethought and planning, you know."
"Yeah, like Molly and her extra cheese sandwiches?"
"I hope they're ham, that's what she promised me. Along with sausage rolls, crisps, and some tea. And I had to listen to her reminisce about how Arthur proposed to her."
"Was it better than yours?"
"I'm never telling. Bear left." He turned them slightly, and as she tilted her head up to look at him as he chose that moment to look down at her, he kissed her.
"We won't be able to get married for ages, things being what they are," she said regretfully, when she could speak again.
"Ah. Well, I have made some enquiries about a licence, and Mad-Eye says—"
"You asked Mad-Eye?"
"If you want to know about the procedures for a very quiet and unnoticeable wedding, it stands to reason that you ask the person who's most likely to know exactly what you need and how to obtain—"
"But he's never been married!"
"A fact which didn't appear to stop him knowing."
They wrangled happily until Remus told her she was in danger of frightening the nice Muggle ice cream man. He was, indeed, leaning out of what looked like a small hatch and smiling encouragingly at them; a little round man with black, currant-like eyes, which were shining brightly as he probably thought his luck was in having customers so early. Tonks glanced at Remus.
"So what do I—"
He dug in his pocket and handed her some unfamiliar looking money.
"Right. So what do I—"
"You ask for two vanilla cornets. With chocolate flakes in them."
"Right." She gave him a look. "Amazing how bossy you've become since we got engaged five minutes ago."
"Just trying to put the little witch in her place before she starts washing my shirts." He chuckled, but then stopped quickly. "Tonks. Dora. I know this year has been all about me, and I want things from now on to be about you. This day is for you."
She nearly kissed him again as he looked so very serious standing there, but neither of them were exhibitionists when it came to private stuff so she gave him a look which she hoped promised several very private things later on and went up to the ice cream man.
"Hello, darlin'. Love the hair," he said. "Hoping to start a new fashion amongst eccentrics, are we?"
Tonks thought she'd locked people up for less than that, but she laughed, managed the order as Remus nodded at her approvingly, and watched with interest as the man went to work. She paid him the money, hesitated in case there was change to wait for, and saw Remus shake his head slightly out of the corner of her eye. Mr Planner had obviously worked things out to a nicety.
"See you around, darlin'," said the ice cream man, and she said, "See you," in what she hoped was her best, casual Muggle manner, and held out the cornet in her right hand to Remus, who instead took the one in the left with a smile.
They started off down the beach again, looping their free arms together. It was the earliest she'd ever eaten ice cream but she took a bite of the chocolate, which was delicious and every bit as good as anything she'd had at Florean Fortescue's, and cast a quick glance at Remus wanting to take in every detail of him so she wouldn't forget any of this. If only she'd known beforehand, then she could have worn her favourite t-shirt and best jeans…
She laughed, thinking none of that mattered in the slightest.
"What?" asked Remus.
"Just wondered what you've got lined up for the rest of the day."
The small smile seemed to be playing around his lips again. "It all depends if we've got to go to St. Mungo's or not."
She looked up sharply from her bite of ice cream, and he nodded at it. "You're not supposed to be eating that as well. Please don't swallow it."
For a moment she couldn't think what he meant as she stared at the cornet, blinking in the bright sunlight and then at something that caught the same light and glinted at her. Something sitting at the bottom of the chocolate flake and half-buried in the ice cream.
"It's not very big," Remus said apologetically.
She stared at it. Fished it out and passed him the cornet. Stared at it some more and found a hankie to wipe it.
"I wish I could have—"
"Shut up," she said roughly. "It's perfect."
He shut up, biting his lip in what looked like embarrassment, while she stared down at the small diamond and thought it wasn't at all hard to imagine being his wife, to imagine forever with this man. It felt exactly like what she'd always wanted without even knowing it.
She looked at him, finally. Holding both ice creams and watching her intently. For some reason, she had to swallow hard before she could say anything.
"You could eat those," she nodded at them, "or put this on my finger."
He considered carefully, took a mischievous lick of the nearest ice cream and then the other one. "That's a test of real love," he said.
"It is." She smiled.
"So I could drop both these delicious ice creams onto the sand in a wonderfully romantic gesture and place the ring on your finger, or," he paused and considered again, "we could juggle these between us and try and get the ring on as well."
"The choice is yours, Mr Lupin."
"No, it's yours now, Miss Tonks."
They smiled at each other. The ring was slipped carefully into her pocket while they ate the ice creams, and she discovered how nice it was to kiss him when he tasted of vanilla and salt. Finally, he slipped the slightly sticky ring onto her finger.
"Into the blue," he said. "Into the unknown."
Reviewers get a day on the beach with a very happy Remus.