sassy_cat (sassy_cat) wrote in dysfuncentine,
sassy_cat
sassy_cat
dysfuncentine

Fic: Marriage

Title: Marriage
Author: cleodoxa
Pairing: Remus/Tonks
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 6,145
Prompt: 10. AU. The two of them survive the war—only for one to realize that the marriage didn't survive, and that the stress of trying to raise an infant Metamorphmagus is only making things worse.
Content Information/Warnings: Infidelity
Summary: Remus and Tonks live, but not necessarily happily ever after.


Tonks felt rather "I told you so" when the war ended. All was well. She and Remus were alive and together and even employed. The Ministry soon got back on its feet as a legitimate organisation and she and Remus were offered jobs in the Auror Department in the first wave of appointments. Tonks was confident, too, that the political climate regarding werewolves was on the turn.

"So we both survived and it's over," said Remus suddenly, that first morning after the Battle of Hogwarts. They were having breakfast with Andromeda. None of the three of them had slept at all and Tonks and Andromeda had been talking about Ted and getting teary.

"Try not to be too disappointed," said Andromeda, and blew her nose. After her initial apprehension, upon mature consideration, Andromeda had confided in her daughter that she had decided Remus was absolutely not good enough for her. She tried to keep her thoughts to herself, though, she explained, so that opposition should not make Tonks more determined.

Remus did seem a little nonplussed, thought Tonks, regarding him fondly at that and other moments around this time period. Inevitably, happiness tended to confuse him a little. In a way, it proved that he did understand that she was right, that everything had ended happily.

*

Tonks and Remus returned abruptly to their own home the day after the tired-but-still-somehow-going-strong breakfast. Tonks was hurt when her mother told her "You were wrong to Teddy," as indeed how could she not be? "You should never have fought in the same battle as Remus. You have to think of these things as a parent. He could have been an orphan, and all he'd have had is me. No other family at all. I'm sure you weren't thinking, but it was very wrong of you."

"You can't think of these things as a parent in a war," said Tonks. "And besides, that's who I am, I fight." She didn't know what else to do but collect Remus and Teddy and go home. What her mother said did not make much of an impression in itself, because she had not made her decision at Hogwarts without asking herself whether she agreed with it. She felt pained and puzzled, however, by her mother's ability to make things more unpleasant, now of all times.

"I would have preferred it if you hadn't fought," said Remus, eyeing her warily. "For your sake."

"If you start, I'm leaving you," said Tonks. She almost meant it, despite her happy ever after feeling which Andromeda had barely dented. Remus tilted his head in a gesture of acknowledgment. He was unfazed by the threat; Tonks had begun to use it as a playful deflation of what he seemed to fear. It seemed to work. "I'd have preferred it if you hadn't fought, for your sake. But it seemed a bit silly to bring it up in the circumstances." She remembered the fierce protectiveness she had felt. She couldn't bear the idea of him fighting and perhaps perishing alone, when finally, after so much of his life, he wasn't alone.

"I can't wait to get back to work," said Tonks. This was the day that they had received the job offers from Kingsley.

"It's not as if I've ever worked as an Auror," said Remus. "I hope I'll be able to keep up with the pace."

"Don't talk rubbish, you'll be brilliant." Tonks rather thought he didn't seriously doubt this, but thought it appropriate to demur a little when entering her domain – to keep a limit on his patronising overtones, what with the way he banged on about her tender youth and everything.

*

Tonks was a little apprehensive as well as delighted when she was assigned Remus as partner. "I hope I don't get tired of you, spending all day with you," she said, meaning really that she hoped Remus didn't get tired of her.

Remus smiled. "I'll try not to get under your feet."

He didn't, of course. Tonks loved having him as her partner. She felt he was beginning to understand that she could be relied upon to be okay. He didn't spoil things by being overprotective, nor yet by not understanding what he had to offer. She liked looking at his profile when she was losing patience herself and borrowing his, almost serenely grave, which seemed to draw things out towards him in the end. She liked feeling him snap into action behind her, wand at the ready, when she made a sudden, right decision. Their success rate at rooting out Death Eaters and their sympathisers was one of the highest in the department.

"It feels like a bit of waste, doing all this stuff so early in our marriage," said Tonks, referring to the disguises. Some of their arrests were made following outright hostilities and duels, but more were achieved going undercover as Death Eater sympathisers or Muggles. It pissed Tonks off how many Death Eaters weren't above using the mass of Muggles to hide in. Tonks, of course, was always sent on as many missions involving disguise as possible. Sometimes she almost got tired of it, but being with Remus added piquancy to not being her true self. "We should be doing it to spice things up when things have got a bit tired in the bedroom. Do you come here often?" she inquired, fluttering her eyelashes. Remus smiled, and leaned forwards to meet her kiss.

*

They lost each other once, trying to take down a Death Eater on a bridge over a stream in a Muggle village.

"Are you coming in alive or dead?" Tonks asked, wand aimed steadily at Aurelia Blixon, one of the few female Death Eaters. Tonks often wondered whether it was Voldemort that wasn't into women, or women that weren't into Voldemort. The wand Blixon held was aimed steadily at her, only occasionally veering towards Remus, and Tonks thought good, good, keep it there, mechanically, almost unconscious, until she suddenly thought of her mother and Teddy with a funny little ripple of guilt. Remus, next to her, had his foot in front of hers to give him leverage if he wanted to push her out of the way of a Killing Curse. It wouldn't be necessary; that was neither of them had cast any hexes. Blixon was going to come quietly unless she was startled.

A horrible loud blare. Tonks nearly jumped out of her skin. She looked into Blixon's suddenly vulnerable face, grubbing for coherence and safety in a world without a shield. A fucking car drove between them; the three of them just about flinched and stumbled free of them.

Tonks came to a little time later, lying in the shallow stream under the bridge, her head lying on rocks. They made an unkind cushion, which she realised only gradually as she came to. The memory of the interrupted confrontation with Blixon came back to her only as she stared at the smear of blood left on her hand after she rubbed the sore part of her head. "I'm not haring off," she thought. "I use my Auror training, because small things make all the difference." She staggered to her feet in the stream, narrowly avoiding hitting her head again on the bridge, and charmed her robes dry. She took a draught of pain-killing cordial. Then, her feet of course still wet, she splashed to the edge of the stream and looked back at the empty bridge. Part of her felt she'd always known this moment would come, when she lost him. Part of her knew this was just part of the job and would probably shrink into context by the end of the day. It was just right now that she didn't know which part was right.

Tonks went to ask in the pub. If Blixon had grabbed Remus and Disapparated or something, she might just have been in enough of a hurry not to Obliviate, or even see, any passing Muggles. The pub was not alive with any tale of dramatic incident, Tonks could tell that as soon as she walked in, but she made discreet inquiries anyway.

She met Remus coming out of the newsagent's.

"Dora!" he cried, and clutched her to him.

"It's alright, darling," Tonks said, almost able to laugh at the slightly startled expression of a passer-by. "What happened to you?"

"I think I was Confunded. I've been pottering around trying to remember where I was as if it wasn't important at all. And then I suddenly wanted to punch myself for not looking for you or Blixon. Can't have been much of a Confundus."

He spoke vehemently about the desire to punch himself, and Tonks looked at him with some concern. She spent a lot of time trying to tempt out his more uncontrolled self, but he so often seemed a little hurt and wrong when it poked through of its own accord. It made her feel almost as if she was trying to hide him again when she comforted him.

"We'll find Blixon," she promised him, and of course they did. They went back to the pub as the best place to draw up a list of Blixon's known associates and connections and debate where she would be most likely to instinctively seek shelter. They took her in at an ex's place.

They didn't get to interrogate Blixon themselves, but were sent off to St Mungo's instead. "I always feel weirdly attached after tracking them down. I don't like having to drop her like this," said Tonks.

"I wouldn't have liked having to sit across from her and look at her face," said Remus. "Though I suppose I could have used the feeling, like you're supposed to."

After St Mungo's they went back to the office to do the paperwork. They could perhaps have gone home, but more than ever in the Auror Department there was a culture of frantic, never-ceasing activity, and of wondering how, in all honesty, you could ever prefer to be anywhere else.

"The Department's very quiet," Remus remarked. Tonks looked up from signing and dating the penultimate form, and saw, through the open door of the office they were in, that this was so. Everyone else was off out in the world pursuing a mission or interrogating suspects behind closed doors. Tonks got on with the last form, glancing once or twice at Remus. He looked patient and tired, and enjoyment of his existence filled her as she absently scribbled.

"Fuck me at work," she said, pushing the paperwork almost off the desk. He looked up, amused. "What else is the point of working with your husband?"

Remus closed the door and Tonks grinned at him. He crossed over to her and cupped her face with his hands, thumbs stroking her cheekbones with that very intense tenderness he had. It made her feel almost faint, still, that awareness that the most important person in her world was looking right at her and cherishing her. There had always been a dash of some unpleasant sort of taste in there too, though. She used to think it was just the intensity. She'd always thought of herself as a distinctly unromantic sort of person, and the melodramatics she and Remus had produced between them were somewhat humbling. Recently Tonks had realised that this wasn't quite it. It was something to do with the suspicion that the person whose heart-shaped face he caressed most tenderly was that fresh, plucky young thing who was too precious for him. The sour note of the unshared maudlin, instead of true communication and knowledge and seeing.

It didn't matter, Tonks thought, looking Remus in the eye to echo her thought. She saw Remus whole, that was enough.

Tonks settled herself on the edge of the desk; Remus came to stand between her legs as she pulled her robes off her shoulders for him. He cupped her small breasts, squeezing them, rubbing the nipples fully erect. She leaned into his hands and wrapped her legs around his hips. Remus pulled her knickers down; she had to draw her legs together so that he could pull them down her legs. She kicked them off her ankles so that they fell near the door. Remus rubbed her clit with his knuckle, already slick. Tonks shut her eyes for a moment then opened them and checked her wand was within reach. She'd need it to obscure the office window if anyone came into view. Tonks did not want to watch the window as Remus thrust into her, again and again, but she felt obliged to give it the occasional glance. She couldn't moan aloud, but neither could she suppress a groan in her throat. Remus thrust harder as if in response. She still liked the feeling of taking him out of himself, and having him with his guard down. She felt unusually carefree herself, enjoying the silly frisson of recklessness because of where they were. Tonks supposed she was an old married person these days. She looked up to catch Remus's eye, beaming, and he bent his head a little to kiss her.

*

Unfortunately working together wasn't quite as good after that. Tonks asked Remus if it was because of their encounter with Aurelia Blixon, but he didn't really respond. The feeling that she and Remus rolled around in their partnership like a strong protective bubble was not abruptly broken into, but gradually she realised it wasn't really there anymore. It wasn't the tangible kind of thing Tonks felt she could do something about. She fell back on their homelife more, making sure they spent more time with Teddy. The relish she took in Remus's pleasure in him and the bond they had as a little family had something anxious in it.

In the end, Remus said one night, as they were getting ready to go to bed, "Tomorrow will be my last day." He sounded as if he had planned to say more, but still didn't know what it ought to be.

"Last day of what?"

"I've resigned from the Auror Department. I'm going back to Hogwarts to teach DADA." Remus met her look of silent, outraged astonishment. "I know I should have told you much earlier. I don't know why I didn't. But that's why I'm doing it, really. I'm afraid it still comes more naturally to me to fly solo."

"Fuck you. You're married."

"I know, Dora, and I'm not going back on that decision—"

"Ooh, big of you."

"I don't want to. But I thought it would be best if I felt I was doing what I could do, what I do do. I didn't want to associate marriage with discomfort." Remus looked at her. She could tell he wanted her to understand.

"But there was no discomfort. Why do you always have to create this stuff, when things were good?" Tonks was determined not to cry.

"It worked at the beginning. Then it wore off and I couldn't get it back. Dora, I'm being honest and it's hurting you. Sometimes I feel that's all it does. This is why I find it hard."

"It's childish to drop things just like that," Tonks insisted. Now she felt she must not cry, not only to satisfy her own pride, but to avoid upsetting him.

"I never really saw myself as an Auror for good," said Remus. "I felt more myself as soon as I got the offer, and I knew I wasn't going to turn it down."

Tonks had to admit to feeling a certain rightness in this. There was something in Remus that was essentially that of a teacher. She'd wondered before what it was, because while he had authority there was nothing overtly authoritarian about him. It had something to do with how he was with people. He could come forward to meet people, giving of himself, without truly establishing personal contact.

"It won't be the same at all," said Tonks, in a small voice but not overly emotional. "If we both have such demanding jobs and it's not the same job."

"It won't be the same, but I'm sure we can make it work," said Remus, and stretched out his hands to her. Sometimes she felt he always made these gestures at bridge moments, using them to help him too directly through awkward transitions.

*

Tonks hated telling everyone at work that Remus had resigned. She wished she didn't hate everything about Remus leaving. It made her feel clingy and unreasonable, because he was hardly obliged to spend his whole working life with his wife. The thing was, it reminded her too strongly of the early and even the middle stages of their relationship, when he kept rejecting her. She specially hated telling her mother, who she knew full well would also be reminded of all the times Remus had taken it upon himself to reject her daughter. Tonks watched, unable not to be amused, as her mother tried to find something nice to say. "I expect the bit of distance will help keep things fresh," Andromeda produced in the end.

Tonks didn't really feel things needed keeping fresh. Still, she hoped a bit of distance would do so, if Remus felt it was necessary. Then she decided she was sick to death of thinking about Remus and whatever complicated thing he might be feeling. She cheerfully mostly ignored him for a while in favour of work and Teddy.

She tried not to ignore Remus's return to Hogwarts too pointedly, but they didn't talk about it much. One of her most direct acknowledgements of it was saying, "I used to wish I could have been in your class. When you were carrying on about how depraved you and me would be it seemed like we should at least have been in the right situation for it. I'd have enjoyed having a crush on you, I have to say." Remus smiled, partly uncomfortable, partly acknowledging.

*

Something Remus missed, having left the Ministry, was the change in atmosphere there. This had a lot to do with Hermione Grange leaving school and coming to work there, but by no means everything. Now that the Death Eaters were pretty much all rounded up, if not all come to trial, the wizarding world was freed up in some way for change. There was a growing emphasis on extending rights and social focus. By now plenty had been said about Muggleborns, and in some circles the conversation was moving on to other magical species.

"I think it's really good. People are being so much more open," Tonks told Remus. "Laura Pennell told me her mother was a hag. I hope this is the start of a real change." She would have liked to talk about it properly, but Remus didn't really respond.

As time went on, it became clear that Remus wasn't enjoying the change in cultural climate much. "People keep asking me how I feel about my identity as a werewolf. Even students. It doesn't really feel that different to jeering, to be honest. And all these articles, they keep mentioning me. I'm the best-known werewolf after Fenrir Greyback. I'm surprised at myself for minding. I think I got too used to not thinking of myself as the werewolf."

"Oh, Remus, I'm sorry." Tonks felt rather helpless. She knew that of course he must feel that way, that he must hate to feel that this aspect of his self was out of his own control, to be appropriated by others. Her own instinct to make the best out of everything seemed to place her a little at odds with Remus. "Isn't it something, though, that people do know of another werewolf besides Greyback? You're such a good example."

"I can't see myself as a good example," said Remus. "I don't even know what a good example werewolf might be, really."

"Oh, Remus. Someone who's brave and kind and responsible, who wants to do their bit for wizarding society. It's not difficult to work out what would be meant. And it means someone like you."

Remus continued to look displeased.

*

There was a campaign to make it illegal for employers to discriminate against werewolves who were handling their condition responsibly. Greyback had gone on something of a spree, and too many respectable families had found their children suddenly facing drastically diminished prospects. These were werewolves with a sense of entitlement, something Remus had never had. Tonks wished he did have that strength of self-righteousness. There was pressure on Remus to be a part of this campaign. It was pretty clear to Tonks that the law was going to be passed, but that the Ministry wanted as much good publicity for it as possible first. Petitions came to the house to be signed, and pleas for interviews. The Prophet published a profile of Remus. Tonks would have laughed at it with him, reading out the most Prophet-ish bits in a pompous voice, but Remus made a dry comment and pushed it away forever.

In the end Kingsley came round to ask outright if Remus would do an interview. "I know it's all very tasteless and political and not your kind of thing. But I honestly think one good interview with someone like you would have a surprisingly deep impact. We could arrange the right kind of writer, you know."

Tonks looked at Remus. She could not help looking as expectantly and hopefully as Kingsley, but she was more doubtful all the same. He looked awkward.

"It's not that I won't," he said at last. "It's not that I don't understand that I probably should. It's just that I don't really think I would give a very good interview. Being realistic, I would have to talk about myself rather a lot. I don't think that's something I've ever done."

"Interviewers have to be good at filling in the gaps," Kingsley said. "It's just a question of how they do it." He left Remus to think about it.

"I think you should do it," said Tonks when he'd gone, committing herself. "I think you'd feel better about it. You wouldn't feel like all this werewolf business was chasing after you all the time. You'd feel in control."

"Oh, I don't know," said Remus. "That's the problem with spilling your guts, you can't really collect them and put them back in."

"We're not talking gut-spilling, we're talking restrained and dignified," said Tonks. "Really, though, do you not feel even a little bit glad that times are changing? That at least you have a different sort of thing to worry about?" This was what she had wondered all along, but not felt it was her place to ask.

"Well, as it happens, I suppose I'm really worrying about the same old thing," said Remus. He then seemed to regret having said it, and tried to distract her with talk of Teddy. This, of course, made Tonks wonder what he meant even more, and she pestered him into continuing. "I don't want publicity because it's also publicity for you and Teddy. Yes, at least I have a salary to offer, but I feel I'm still bringing you down."

"Oh, for fuck's sake, Remus. Do your issues really run that deep?" Tonks felt tired and disbelieving. "And everybody already knows who Teddy's father is. His surname is Lupin, you moron. If you want to think like that, the damage is done. And I don't give a fuck who knows I'm married to you. Not a single fuck." It was no good. Her voice was disintegrating into tears. She gave up on Remus's pained face and Disapparated.

Not anywhere in particular, only to walk the streets. There was no one she wanted to talk about this with. Most of her friends had been dubious about her and Remus, even if some of them tried to hide it. Some of them had been supportive, but this meant that Tonks felt she couldn't talk to them about things like this in case it made them think they'd been wrong. She felt a huge amount of resentment towards Remus. It was ridiculous that she, a grown married woman, should be reduced to walking the streets in the dark because she could not bear to be at home. Ridiculous of Tonks, she supposed most people would say, but she could not have borne to face Remus with that heavy, heavy sense of stalemate and futility any longer. Remus made her feel like she had no strength. Nothing she said to him seemed to make any difference. The love she gave him seemed not to make a difference. She would think it had, and then she would find out that she was wrong, and the same old disease was flourishing as strong as ever. Maybe that was just how people were, she thought. Frozen into position, never to be gently unclamped. Perhaps Remus as he had been at the beginning, with all those reflexes of rejection, was the Remus she had taken to herself forever and she must just make the best of him.

Tonks didn't want to go home to that Remus. She had to admit it to herself, seeing as she was still out here. She was tired of that Remus, literally exhausted by him. She was angry that he kept reappearing. It was a completely trivial incident, she told herself. It did not matter if that Remus still appeared at moments. What mattered was that she had a supportive, engaged husband most of the time. You probably couldn't really expect to like the person you were married to all the time. And it was hardly a question of liking or not liking anyway.

She wasn't exactly ready to go home, but she didn't know what else to do. Unfortunately the frozen Remus, the one who'd been set on course years ago and never deviated from it, was still there.

She found him looking at Teddy. "You made all these decisions too fast," he said. "Having Teddy."

"I beg your pardon?" Tonks said. She did not want to wake Teddy up, but could not stop herself from picking him up and holding him protectively. "What is wrong with you that you can look right at our beautiful son and imply he was anything but the best decision, simply because you're feeling pathetically sorry for yourself tonight? And how dare you delude yourself that he was my decision?"

"It was part of the way you wanted to bite off more than you could chew," said Remus with obnoxious, stubborn calmness, as if he was saying anything remotely true. "You didn't even know me that well when you got pregnant. Not really."

"And how well did you know me, Remus? To be quite honest, Teddy probably had less to do with you than you think. I didn't know you thought I was trapping you."

"That's not what I said."

"I thought you understood, seeing as you were there. I thought it was a mutual "live while we're alive because there's a war on" thing. What if we'd both died at the Battle of Hogwarts? We'd have left Teddy behind. How much better to do that than not!"

There didn't really seem to be anything else to say, so Tonks didn't say it. She Disapparated and went home to mother, because there didn't really seem to be anything else to do.

*

There was something almost relaxing about failure. Andromeda, thankfully, not being stupid, made herself reassuring rather than obnoxious to come home to. Not that Tonks stayed there for good; Remus removed himself to the rooms he was entitled to at Hogwarts. There was silence after the row, but not forever. Tonks went back to tell Remus she didn't think she was coming back, that it wasn't a decision as such, that she just didn't have the energy for marriage anymore. She almost enjoyed the simplicity of this, and it didn't get less simple for seeing Remus, thank Merlin.

Remus nodded slowly in response to it all. "Sometimes I think the problem is that I want to be alone and I just think I ought to want this." He made a gesture which took in Tonks and the house. This did not seem particularly kind, but Tonks could believe that it was true. It was the way in which Remus had internalised the werewolf thing; he was an almost tame animal which really belonged outside.

Tonks was not even sure which of them had left the other, if one of them had, but it did not seem to matter. It was over and Tonks did not mind. How strange that she had put all that energy into something that was already over, when she was still so young. It would seem like such a fleeting, temporary part of her life when she looked back. Teddy, of course, would remain, a permanent anachronistic survival of something she had once thought was important. It was true that she had not been as ready as she thought she had been to have Teddy; that much but no more she would admit. But the stage where that had told and mattered was passed, and she felt motherhood would be easier now she didn't have Remus to worry about.

Tonks had no intention of letting Remus drift away from Teddy to wallow in self-indulgent lonely freedom. She was determined that he was going to be a nice normal father, and convinced that he was capable of it if she saw to it just a little. Apart from anything else, she didn't want him to be proven completely right in his doom-mongering about himself. So Remus came to see Teddy at weekends, usually taking him out.

*

Remus had given that interview. Tonks wondered if his conscience had suggested that he should, since he was already relieved of such a big thing which he found difficult, namely marriage to Tonks. She didn't read it for a while. It was a good interview. She was sure the interviewer had filled in a lot of it themselves, but they'd done it skilfully. Tonks recognised Remus, grave, restrained but still a little mischievous, wistful. She hadn't realised until she read it that of course it wasn't the same interview it would have been if she and Remus were still together. There was only a brief delicate mention of the failure of the marriage, but it was clearly meant to say "This is what being a werewolf does to good men." Strain on personal relationships, blah blah. It still didn't seem to Tonks as though it should be a strong enough strain, not really. But there they were to prove it all the same, she supposed, she at home and Remus at Hogwarts.

Perhaps it was the interview's fault. It might have been that which reminded her that she liked him, damn it. Liking disarmed Tonks more than anything else. She began initiating conversation when she saw Remus, telling him about her job and asking him about his. He responded pleasantly, perfectly ready of course to be civilised.

"Don't get dragged back in," said Andromeda, but of course she did.

To herself, Tonks put it more in terms of dragging him back in. Looking at Remus lying next to her she felt almost unpityingly ferocious; she wanted him and she got him and she suspected she was after all going to keep him. It was the charm of holding on, of refusing to be thrown off. You'd never know he was so slippery to look at him, she thought, as he lay there quietly playing with her hand. There were other charms too, though, that were more her, really – the charms of nice straightforward young men like the partner who'd replaced Remus at work, Andrew Greeneboome.

Remus was jealous of Andrew. He'd advertised nice young men in general to her many times before, but not one in particular. Remus wasn't stupid, and he knew it was only now that there was a specific Remus-antidote in the picture.

"Now is the time you should really ask yourself what kind of marriage you want," Remus said. "Wouldn't it be more of a real partnership with someone like Andrew?"

Tonks did think about it, right there with Remus looking at her. "I suppose the thing is that I love you," she said. "And that's the kind of marriage I want." It was true enough that here they were together again in proof of it. Neither of them was quite convinced, though. Not enough.

Andrew obviously liked her; that was the thing. He represented options, not that Tonks had ever been with Remus because she thought she didn't have options. Right now, Tonks felt that she wanted Remus more than she wanted any other option. She hadn't completely recovered from that break in the marriage, though, and she could imagine that she would ultimately be happier if she took another option. Sometimes she suspected that she knew she would be. Sometimes she suspected that marriage to Remus would be just not bad enough to that she, a Hufflepuff, would always need to make it do.

Still, though, she seemed to have decided, and Tonks felt it was decidedly unfair of Remus to keep on as if she hadn't. He wasn't crude about it, but she could tell what he was thinking. The references to Andrew were too constant and careful. This was what took its toll on her. Tonks remembered now, and pinpointed it. It was the ever-present pressure to prove Remus wrong.

One day at work, after Remus had been particularly annoying in the morning, the thought occurred to her – why prove him wrong? It seemed, in that moment, such a liberating thought. Andrew was talking enthusiastically, with that hint of flirtation he was not importunate enough to make more than a hint. Tonks didn't need to prove Remus wrong.

So she fucked Andrew in the office on the desk, much like she and Remus had fucked that time. Tonks enjoyed it tremendously and went home still full of how good it had been. She was also weak with astonishment at herself.

"I slept with Andrew," she said," because really, what was the point in doing it if not to find out what Remus would say? Part of her flashed back to her younger married self and thought how violently she would flinch. The rest of her felt secure, shored up by post-orgasmic smugness and her new knowledge. This knowledge was not only the sense of freedom incurred by the realisation that it was a waste of time trying to convince Remus that everything was just as it should be all for him. It was the understanding Tonks had gained just as she told him about Andrew. The marriage didn't depend on her convincing Remus to feel secure. How could it, when it was so impossible? The marriage didn't need her to even try. She didn't know when things had changed, but they had. Maybe they had changed only when she realised that Remus would stay anyway. Remus had always insisted on her being the elusive one, and had put in an awful lot of effort to maintaining the illusion, without any help from her. He wouldn't leave if she was to finally take it into her head to actually be elusive.

"No, you didn't," said Remus firmly.

"How do you know?" Tonks asked.

"Because you wouldn't."

Or perhaps she really had convinced him of everything she had always wanted to convince him of, and perhaps he had only realised how much he believed in her when he heard her say she'd slept with another man. Now she felt real guilt beginning to churn her up.

"Remus, I'm looking right at you and telling you something. I slept with Andrew. You don't have any choices. You have to believe me."

"I can tell you're lying, Dora. It's too staged. I know why you're doing it. It's because I've seemed to distrust you lately and you resent it. You think you're calling my bluff. I don't distrust you, you know. It's me that's the problem, not you. As usual." Remus sighed and looked at her. "I'm trying not to let it be a thing. On this occasion I honestly don't think drawing attention to it is going to help"

He did believe her, Tonks realised. He definitely believed her on some level. He was always careful, but right now, he was too careful. She was more right the first time, when she thought Remus could survive indefinitely in a marriage without trust or security, would even prefer it.

Tonks wondered how long it would take her to get bored of a marriage like that.
Tags: 2014, character: nymphadora tonks, character: remus lupin, fic, het, pairing: remus/tonks
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