Summary: On Christmas Eve of 1994, Tonks and Remus harbor Sirius for holiday, and look forward to pretending nothing is amiss. But it doesn't take long for the lingering distrust and suspicions to surface.
A/N: I first wrote this fic before JKR's biography on Remus, so how Remus and Tonks came to be together does deviate from that. But the mention of Remus's father is indeed Lyall Lupin.
He was literally staring at her from all angles.
On the right border of the cubicle, he was on his motorbike. Tonks had to wonder if that wasn't given to Kingsley out of shock –"look, a Death Eater and even he acts like a Muggle." Maybe the person who handed it over even believed it was a sign that anyone who liked Muggle things that much had something to hide. After all, why would anyone want to associate themselves with them? The hypocrisy might have escaped this person entirely. Of course, if it were her parents who had handed it over, or Remus, they wouldn't have thought such a thing.
Or would they have? For all Mum loved Dad and his family, Tonks sometimes felt a touch of her family's teachings lurked inside. It couldn't be helped - for years, Andromeda had hardly questioned the things she was taught along with walking and talking. It was only thanks to her dear friends Alice, Frank and Ted that she really became open-minded. Then she fell in love with Ted, and that was the end of it. Except for those reservations. Ted was a Muggleborn; his family comprised of Muggles. Even to Death Eaters who were half-bloods, there was a clear difference. Why wouldn't a nasty part of Andromeda have the same logic? It wouldn't make her any different from most witches and wizards. Obliviators who Tonks otherwise enjoyed associating herself with would gloat about the silly Muggle whose memory they'd "had" to wipe, not even taking into account how confused the man or woman must have been.
Tonks was no stranger to the hypocrisy of her world. The same people who envied her powers feared her for it; it was the reason, along with Sirius's escape, that she had been forced to remain in training one more year. Just in case, they'd said. Not that she hadn't had supporters. Kingsley and Moody had both been outraged. But it was Umbridge's word over theirs, and as someone right under Fudge, she had the final say.
Tonks's hands found their way to the filing cabinet, then to her wand. If she took the files, would Kingsley know? It was Christmas Eve - surely she'd have time to take them back by Boxing Day, and the day after that, who would know the difference?
Tonks jumped and nearly fell on her face, just managing to catch herself.
"Kingsley," she said with a nervous laugh.
Kingsley looked puzzled. "What are you doing?"
"I just wanted to make sure I hadn't left anything behind."
"Are you sure you're alright? You've been jumpy all week."
"I just can't wait for Christmas," Tonks said. "Look, I can make my hair look like Father Christmas's hat!"
Tonks squinted and felt her hair going upwards.
"That's very impressive," Kingsley told her. "But I have a feeling there's something else."
"Nope," Tonks said with a grin. "Just wrapping up work and wrapping up presents for the hols."
"Why don't you take off? It's Christmas Eve."
"I know, I know... you should go too."
"I would love to, but I'm scheduled to work tonight."
"Still trying to find Sirius?" Tonks asked as innocently as possible.
"Among other things... is that what's bothering you?"
Tonks shrugged. "He's dead to me."
She hoped her face didn't show how much saying that hurt.
When Tonks arrived at the end of their street, she was greeted by a black dog.
"Wotcher," she said. "I mean... hey, boy!" She added quickly as a family passed, scratching his ears.
They headed towards the flat she shared with Remus. It was strange, how that had happened; one minute he was telling her something she'd never dared let herself believe, the next they were flatmates. But it worked out well, what with them trying to find anything, anything they could to help Sirius. And pulling pranks on one another. And making fun of muggle vampire films.
"One of these days," Remus would always say, "they're going to make it sappy. A sappy, romantic, crying vampire."
"Or a werewolf," Tonks suggested.
"Sadly, they've got the same idea of werewolves that wizards do."
Which made hiding Sirius in their flat for two days and two nights a dangerous idea.
Sirius had arrived the night before, anxiously but willingly. He didn't like being far from Harry, it seemed, but at the same time he wanted to see them. And eat real food and sleep in a real bed. Well, the couch, but it counted at this rate. Tomorrow he would Portkey to Tonks's parents' – Andromeda had wanted Tonks there, but Tonks had declined. The fewer people involved, the better.
Tonks knew this was risky, but she also had a backup plan if they were caught, one Remus and Sirius didn't know about. They would never let her do it.
"I couldn't get the treat I was looking for," Tonks told him as they walked down the street. "I tried."
Sirius wagged his tail in understanding.
"But we're not going to worry about those things this afternoon anyway. It's Christmas Eve, yeah?"
They entered the building and made their way up the stairs until they got to the flat.
The flat was probably at one time meant to be some sort of office; the living area and the kitchen area were within talking distance of one another, and a small bookcase just barely fit between the telly (they had wanted to blend in with their Muggle neighbors) and a lamp. The furniture comprised of a small dining table, an old couch that had been Remus's parents, a wooden chair, and a bean bag chair Ted's sister had owned in the 70s. A fireplace was at the center, one they had to conceal when the muggle landlord dropped in. Its use was intended for floo only.
"Are the walls still soundproof?" Tonks asked Remus, who was reading in the beanbag chair.
"Yes," he assured her, standing up.
Sirius transformed back. "I think I like strolls better as a dog."
"Don't get too used to it, once Remus and I figure out a way to link you to Peter, that's it."
"Let's not talk about him tonight," Remus said.
Sirius watched Remus and Tonks preparing snacks from the chair. He'd offered to help, but they insisted he rest. Sirius couldn't help but be relieved.
Tonks had changed a little, he thought. She wasn't so different from himself at that age; fun, amusing, but with a few darker layers underneath. Remus was similar... really, they had all been like that. Everyone said that Peter was their "innocent," but even before they'd left Hogwarts and life went to hell, Sirius knew James was really the innocent. Maybe Lily, once she'd entered the group. Sirius had been the one with the sharpest edge. Even Peter had one - it was just that they hadn't realized just how far he would be willing to go. But he'd certainly taken Remus's side when Sirius had sent him Snape for dinner, and did not speak to him despite James's forgiving him quickly. It took much longer for Remus and Peter to come around.
Sirius looked at Remus. Was that why he had believed that he'd betrayed them? Or had he simply done what he did before, automatically take James's side even though James...
Well, of course James can't forgive you, he's dead, Sirius reminded himself.
Still, it bothered him. Why hadn't Remus known from the beginning? Why hadn't he at least considered that there might have been a mistake? Perhaps he had, perhaps they'd just ignored him, but Remus hadn't said as much. Tonks, meanwhile, made it very clear that she and her parents had always felt there was more to it.
Then again, it wasn't as though Andromeda had done anything it.
Don't be bitter, James's voice reminded Sirius. They're sacrificing their Christmas and risking imprisonment for you right now.
Sirius thought about James. He could easily picture Christmas as it should have been: James and Lily were silly dances in the kitchen as they cooked. Sirius was giving Harry man-to-man advice. Remus was sitting opposite of them with an attractive woman. He'd married late, but happily. Tonks, Andromeda and Ted bustled in late, covered in snow and armed with gifts. James emerged from the kitchen to hand Sirius a firewhisky, and the two men went outside to collect logs for the fire. Except the logs were fingers... that turned into rats...
"YOU!" Sirius roared, standing up straight, ready for a fight
Tonks looked quickly over her shoulder. "What's wrong?"
"I dozed off," Sirius lied.
He looked around, somehow wishing Lily and James would appear on the couch. Lily had spent Christmas at Hogwarts with him, once. It was when she also became one of his best friends, a sister he'd never had.
Move on, Lily's voice reprimanded him.
Remus and Tonks returned with drinks and nuts respectively.
"We're having a ham for dinner," Tonks told Sirius. "Mum's making a large proper meal for you tomorrow."
"Excellent," Sirius said.
Remus sat in the bean bag chair. "I love these. They never get old."
"Funny, you made fun of me for it," Tonks said.
"I told you I saw the error of my ways."
"So, Moony," Sirius said, "where is she?"
"Any girlfriends? Ex-girlfriends? Ex-wives?"
"A few ex-girlfriends," Remus replied.
Sirius shook his head. "What I'd give to have a love life again, and you don't have one after thirteen years."
"It's complicated. Bad experiences."
"Yeah, people get weird when they realize you don't look the same all the time," Tonks said. "Or when half your family's evil. Hey, Remus, how about this - if you don't have anyone in ten years, let's hitch."
"Works for me," Remus said
They clinked their glasses together, grinning; Sirius went to grab his own glass, but quickly
remembered he wasn't part of this joke.
"I was with Emmaline Vance for a while," Remus continued. "But it wasn't... we were just both sad."
"That reminds me," Tonks said suddenly. "Remus, Kingsley's having a New Years' Eve bash. He wants you to come, says it's about time he saw you again."
"Kingsley Shacklebot?" Sirius interrupted.
"Isn't he the one who's in charge of capturing me?"
Remus and Tonks exchanged a look.
"Kingsley's a good man," Tonks said. "He's just doing his job."
"Of course," Sirius grumbled. He knew that she was right, but he coudn't get the irony out of his head, the thought of sitting in a cave while they toasted to the new year with the man who wanted to send him back there. Or worse.
"As soon as I find enough evidence, he's the first one I'm talking to," Tonks added.
"That's a good idea," Sirius said sarcastically. "Look, if you love him so much, why don't you just marry him and feed me to the Dementors?"
"Sirius!" Remus exclaimed. "That's enough!"
"I'm stating the truth, and you know it!"
"No, you're not," Tonks said icily, her voice reminding Sirius uncomfortably of someone else.
"You don't know Kingsley at all. And if you think I would do such a thing after spending my entire life trying to convince people that maybe, just maybe, there was more to the story, you're wrong."
"If you and your Mummy were so convinced I was a good person, why didn't you ever do anything about it?!"
"For the exact reason we can't do anything about it now! And it's killing us!" Tonks cried. "I've spent the past five months lying to every single person I know! My friends, my colleagues, Kingsley, even my Muggle relatives who think you're a serial killer on the loose! I haven't even seen them that much, because I've spent most of my free time trying to find Peter with Remus! In fact, sometimes I think Remus is the only friend I have left, because everyone else probably thinks I've moved to Greenland! So don't you DARE imply I'd gladly betray you."
"She's right," Remus said firmly.
Sirius drew in a breath. He'd never had a substantial amount of self-control; he couldn't have survived in his house with it. He had to know when to punch or duck, when to snap or be snapped, when to yell or be yelled at. Azkaban had taken most of the self-control he had away. Truth be told, the Dementors had wiped out most normal emotional capability out of him. He had horrific memories even without them around.
"Dora," Sirius began, but Tonks had already begun to head out with her keys.
"I can do this right now," she snapped, and the door slammed shut.
Tonks knew it was juvenile, storming off like that, but she needed to.
Truthfully, she was exhausted. Sirius couldn't seem to understand that all her life, she had wanted this. She'd told Hestia Jones and Bill and Charlie Weasley when they were kids that she thought he might be innocent, and while they probably hadn't believed her, they'd listened. Tonks thought she probably could tell the Weasley brothers, at least, Ron would back the story up and they trusted their own brother, but then she'd have to tell Hestia, and Hestia was from a family of ardent Fudge supporters. If Fudge said Sirius Black deserved the Kiss, he did, and while Hestia had never had the same love for Fudge her parents did, who knew how far she really was from them?
Of course, her parents knew, but Andromeda remained stoic about the matter. She didn't allow herself to get emotional, had never even spoken much about Sirius's escape. That left Remus - whom Tonks was more grateful for than words could explain.
Tonks also felt a great sense of disappointment. She had foolishly believed that she'd find Peter in a matter of weeks, and they could all be a family again. That she could get back on Sirius's motorbike and he'd let her wrap her arms around his waist as they flew. That he'd have his Godson back. But apparently it was not to be, and moreover, he seemed to be angry with her.
Was it the Dementors talking? Mostly, of course, Tonks was smart enough to know that. But there was the lingering "mostly."
Tonks collapsed at the only other place she'd felt comfortable lately - her work desk.
"Are you okay?"
Tonks looked over at Kingsley. "You're still here?"
"I am. The only one left. There's a lot to do."
Kingsley pulled up a chair and sat in it. "I think it's necessary that we have a talk. I want it to be clear, Tonks, that you can tell me anything."
"I also want you to realize I consider you not only a trainee, not only a colleague, but a friend."
"That being said, I also have to do my duty. I know you know something about Sirius Black."
"What makes you think that?" She asked, desperately trying to keep her voice level, trying not to listen to Sirius's voice telling her, "I told you so!"
"You've been avoiding my glances when we've spoken about Sirius lately. You also said he's dead to you."
"So you haven't said that once the entire time I've known you. Didn't Moody tell you, when he was training you, that the first sign of a liar is someone who changes tone quickly?"
"People change their minds," Tonks said.
Kingsley shook his head. "That's not all. I know for a fact that you've used a soundproof charm on your flat. I noticed the other day when I stopped by - when I opened the door, I heard nothing, but when I walked in and shut it, the wireless was on."
Tonks shrugged. "I've been seeing someone, and reckoned I'd spare the neighbours." That's an appropriate excuse, Tonks. Wizard Resources will have a field day.
"Let me say this," Kingsley continued. "I know some other things, things I've learned while investigating Black's actions. It seems that he entered the dormitory of five thirteen-year-old boys with a knife. When one of them woke up, he ran. Am I wrong?"
Tonks shook her head. "No, I remember that."
"I know that this makes no sense. Typical behavior would be to silence the boy, if you catch my meaning. Black did not do this. Instead, he fled. Moreover, why the bed of the boy he wasn't apparently after? It doesn't make sense. It also doesn't make sense that he was in the company of three thirteen-year-olds, and not one of them was injured with more than a broken leg. Dumbledore has insisted I do not question them, that I have all the information I need."
Tonks didn't dare let herself feel hopeful, though she wanted to. Was this going where she thought it was?
"And then there's Sirius Black's personal history. As you know, he was quite vocal about Muggles not only being kept safe, but being respected more than our Ministry has... deemed necessary. Why, then, would he join You-Know-Who?"
"Indeed," Tonks said softly.
"I'm not saying I think he's a good man. There is no reason to believe the events that transpired that day didn't. But I think there's something we don't know, and I think you may have learned this information, but are not sharing it out of fear of his capture."
Tonks shrugged casually, although she wasn't sure how. "This is all very interesting, but it's what I've always thought."
"And yet he's still dead to you."
"Think that's a contradiction? You should meet Grandmother Black, she's right out of her mind. Thinks Bellatrix Lestrange is a saint but doesn't care that Dad's a Muggleborn. Well, anymore, when Mum first-"
"-yes, but as you said, she's right out of her mind. You are not."
Tonks smiled despite herself. "Well, thank you. Is that all?"
"Tonks. I know you know where he is. And if my suspicions are correct, then I want to help him. If I find cause, I can't lie, I will apprehend him - but I will fight for the Kiss to not be administered, at the very least. If you don't work with me on this, I will have no choice but to bring this to Scrimegour, who I can assure you will not be so accommodating. You and anyone else who knows about this will be arrested."
"Damned if I do, damned if I don't," Tonks said with a shaky laugh. Her heart was pounding, and her palms were sweating. Why had she come back here? Then again, would it really have made any difference? He'd known long ago, he would've confronted her about it sometime.
"I'll let you collect him. How soon do you think this can be done?"
"Give me fifteen minutes," Tonks said.
"Very well. Remember, if he flees, I will be forced to question you, as well as anyone I suspect may be involved."
Tonks closed her eyes as she thought of everyone who was, including people she barely knew. Charlie's little brother Ron. Hermione Granger - a Muggleborn concealing a Death Eater, that would splash all over the Daily Prophet in no time. Harry.
"Feeling better?" Remus asked as he sat back down next to Sirius.
He'd given Sirius space, because it was what they'd done before. Sirius's outburst had been quicker, it was true, but they'd happened many times prior to his arrest. The way Remus saw it, it really couldn't be helped any more than his transformations - once the big bad wolf was inside you, it was there to stay.
"D'you think Dora will talk to me again?"
"Of course. She asks questions about you all the time - you should have seen her face when I gave her the news. She just needs space."
Remus could remember telling Tonks clearly. They'd met at The Leaky Cauldron, because it was too busy for anyone to overhear there. She had cried a little, although she'd tried to pretend it was allergies, and then they'd hugged, and when Remus told Tonks he was living there, she'd demanded he live with her instead.
Although Remus didn't like to dwell, he couldn't deny that the past several years had not exactly been filled with friends and laughter. Sure, he'd had friends in his many travels and years - but they drifted in and out of his life like ghosts, particularly former Order members, who either pushed him away or were pushed away by Remus. Particularly Kingsley, who, being a young man at the time, had seemed to want companionship; Remus simply wasn't eager to provide it.
Tonks was the only person that Remus felt the same connection he'd felt with his friends who had passed on. And even she was different, though he couldn't quite tell how. She was just... special.
"I'm glad she has you, you know," Sirius said.
"I have her, too."
The door burst open, and Tonks almost flew in. Her hair was all over the place, and she slammed the door so hard Remus knew something was wrong at once.
"What's wrong?" He asked.
"Okay, don't panic," Tonks began.
"Kind of late for that now," Sirius said dryly.
Tonks gave him a look. "And don't run, either. It should be okay. I think it's going to be okay."
"What? Do they know I'm here?"
"No, but... Kingsley figured out I know something."
Remus gripped the chair. "How?"
"That's not the point. The good news is, he knows things add up and that there's something no one knows, which could be very good for us."
"I have to get out-" Sirius said, but Tonks grabbed his arm.
"If you leave, he'll be forced to get others involved. Including Harry." Sirius's arm relaxed, and his jaw twitched. "The fact that Kingsley isn't doing so now could get him into a lot of trouble. He's willing to listen to you."
"And what if he doesn't believe us?" Remus asked.
"Then I have a plan."
"Do you have a time turner too?"
Tonks shook her head. "No, but I have a story figured out."
"And that is?"
"That this was the plan. Sirius and I have been working together this whole time. At this point, Sirius, you do run. I'll tell him that Remus was here because I made him, threatening to hurt his father if he told. And Harry, Harry was his pupil after all, so there's that. It should be worth something. If I can, I'll get away and easily disguise myself. If I don't, well..."
"Well what?" Sirius demanded.
"You survived Azkaban, didn't you?"
"Dora! You're not doing that!" Remus exclaimed.
"So what, we'll all go to Azkaban? Or worse? Kingsley's going to try and overturn the Kiss sentence, but God only knows if that'll work, and Umbridge hates werewolves... then there's my parents. Harry. Dumbledore. Fudge would love a reason to be better than him. This is the only choice we've got."
"But how will we ever solve Sirius's case if they think you've been lying this whole time?"
Tonks laughed coldly. "We can't worry about that now, can we?"
"This is madness," Sirius said, and Remus could see he was shaking. "I'll just say I made you two hide me. If I don't get Kissed, well, I'll do what I did before, it won't make any difference, will it?"
There was a knock at the door.
"Don't be stupid, let me take responsibility," Remus snapped. "I'll say it was all my idea."
There was another knock.
"I'll get it," Tonks said, and Remus's heart sunk as it opened.
Much to his relief, it was indeed just Kingsley, and not the thousands of wizards he'd imagined at that very moment
"Hello," Kingsley said. "Sirius Black, I am here to question you."
Feeling slightly ill, Remus watched as Kingsley led Sirius to the small table and sat across from him. But he couldn't help notice the lack of hostility - Kingsley seemed collected and calm as ever, as though he were investigating the disappearance of a piece of toast.
"As Tonks may have told you, I want to understand what happened thirteen years ago and in the past year," Kingsley said in his usual calm voice. "I have reason to believe that we have been... significantly misinformed."
Sirius looked from Remus, to Tonks, to Kingsley.
"Would you like to explain?"
As Sirius began to tell the entire story from the very beginning, it occurred to Remus that for the first time in thirteen years, he was telling an Auror his side of the story.
What a peculiar Christmas present.
But possibly the best one Sirius had ever received.