Fic: Temporary (Tonks/Snape, R) Title: Temporary Author/Artist:jncar Rating: R Prompt: "You were torturing a lovely face into an expression of permanent disappointment, and soon it would have been too late" Pairing(s): Tonks/Snape, mentions of Tonks/Lupin and past Snape/Lily Word Count: 3,093 Warnings (if any): canon compliant, some use of present tense Author/Artist's notes: Snape/Tonks has been my favorite rarepair for quite a while, so I was happy to have another opportunity to indulge. Disclaimer: I don’t own Harry Potter or any of its characters. I just like to play.
Severus lies in the uncharacteristically warm bed with a small head resting on his shoulder and pink hair tumbling across his chest wondering how exactly he came—after all this time—to find himself in such a remarkable position.
She is asleep, and he scarcely dares to breathe lest he wake her and bring it all to an end. He softly, oh so softly, reaches up to run his fingers lightly over her hair. It thrills him to no end that he of all men was the one to restore this vivid color.
When Severus entered the first meeting of the re-convened Order, he felt all eyes on him. Albus welcomed him warmly, but from everyone else he could sense varying degrees of suspicion, hostility, and even hatred.
All except her, that is.
She greeted him with a warm smile and a cheerful, “Wotcher,” which, no matter how ridiculous a salutation, was still a welcome change from the coldness of his other Order compatriots.
After the meeting she went out of her way to speak to him—to actually converse with him about matters not relating to the business at hand. She mentioned her fond memories of his class at school (the first of his former students to ever do so) and queried him about his latest batch of students and the current House Quidditch rivalries. He was so astonished to be singled out in such a fashion that he continued to speak with her, rather than excusing himself quickly as he ought to have done.
That was his first mistake.
His second mistake was doing the same at the next Order meeting—and the next.
Without his ever consciously realizing it, his conversations with Nymphadora became a habit. He even began to look forward to them, carefully planning and preparing topics of conversation and memorable anecdotes to share with her.
Her absurd fashion sense and use of trite slang no longer bothered him as it had when she was still his student. Instead, they somehow added to her unique charm.
Slowly and stealthily over those early months of the re-convened Order it happened. He didn’t want it, nor had he sought it. In fact, he hadn’t even felt it coming over him until it was too late.
One evening, after a frustrating Occlumency session with Potter, he arrived at the Order meeting eager for the relief her company would give him. When he entered the dark kitchen that had become the official meeting place, she was already there, across the room, sitting next to Lupin.
She stayed at Lupin’s side throughout the meeting and her body language was unmistakable. She moved her chair so close to Lupin’s that their shoulders were constantly touching. From time to time she would crane her neck to whisper in Lupin’s ear, or raise her hand to touch him lightly on the arm.
It filled Severus’s stomach with a churning, lurching sourness unlike anything he’d experienced for many years.
After the meeting she still came to him for their usual conversation, but he couldn’t allow himself to enjoy it. All he could think about was her lips brushing against Lupin’s ear as she whispered.
He excused himself earlier than usual, and she seemed not at all disappointed as she made her way back to Lupin’s side.
That same pattern continued for the next several Order meetings, with the sour brew in Severus’s belly growing increasingly painful every time he saw her doting over Lupin. How could she care for a cowardly, part-human toady like Lupin? It was inexplicable. It was revolting. She deserved so much better.
After several weeks of growing bitterness it finally hit him like a stinging hex to the groin: he was jealous. He wanted her for himself.
He was rarely surprised by anything or anyone, but the discovery of his feelings for Nymphadora surprised him very much. It seemed like an utter impossibility. It should have been impossible. With both Albus and the Dark Lord demanding results that he couldn’t possibly produce he had no room in his life, or in his heart, for a romantic entanglement—especially when it would involve overcoming a rival.
He should just let Lupin have her. Like he’d let Potter have Lily so many years before.
As that unexpected thought filled his mind he cringed in disgust. Nymphadora was no Lily. No one ever could or ever would be like Lily. Never. So why had the comparison come so readily to mind?
He did his best to banish the uncomfortable thoughts and get on with his life.
Nymphadora seemed temporarily hurt as his communications with her grew colder and more perfunctory. But in just a few short weeks she seemed to grow accustomed to the change in their relationship and turned more of her attention to Lupin. He even saw them holding hands under the table when they thought no one was looking.
His stomach continued to churn every time he saw them together, but he was confident that with time it would get easier. Soon, he would forget her just as readily as she was forgetting him.
But he didn’t.
The closer she and the werewolf seemed to get, the worse he felt.
After a time, she even began to invade his dreams—a realm that had belonged solely to Lily for more than two decades.
Why was this happening? He had pledged his life—his work—all of his efforts—to Lily’s memory. So how could this eccentric young woman be usurping her place? Was his commitment faltering? Had his devotion weakened? It couldn’t be happening.
And yet, it was.
When the disastrous battle in the Ministry happened, she was the last thing on his mind. He had Death Eaters and Order members alike demanding answers and explanations for what had happened. Yet, when he learned that Nymphadora had been injured and was confined to St. Mungo’s, it took all his powers of concentration to banish her from his mind and focus on the tasks at hand.
Two weeks passed before he saw her again. She was like a shadow of her former self. Her drab and colorless appearance was more disconcerting than anything else that he had encountered since the Dark Lord returned.
He found himself doing the unthinkable: trying to console her over Black’s death. But she brushed his words aside with hardly a thank you, and returned to her personal bubble of depression.
Nymphadora showed no signs of improvement over the next few months, and Severus seethed with frustration. Black wasn’t worth this intensity of mourning. She’d never even seemed that close to him. Yet her lovely features had vanished in favor of a seemingly permanent expression of disappointment and hopelessness.
He wanted to do something about it.
It was foolish and absurd to think that he of all people could do something to help her. But he couldn’t stop himself from wanting to try. And now that Lupin was out of the way, perhaps she would be ready to see him as something more than just a friend….
Two weeks before the start of the fall term Lupin appeared at an Order meeting for his first report on his new assignment. Severus saw the exchange of painful, loaded looks between Lupin and Nymphadora. After the meeting Lupin escaped as quickly as possible, evading her attempts to talk to him. A few overheard conversations confirmed his suspicion. Black wasn’t the source of her depression after all—she was broken-hearted over Lupin.
Severus felt like shouting in anger and frustration. He felt like hexing someone. Most of all, he wanted to Obliviate every last trace of affection for that foolish girl from his mind.
He left the meeting without speaking to her.
He’d been such a fool this whole year, letting her draw him in with her easy charm and pretty face. It was absurd that he’d ever, even subconsciously, compared her Lily. Lily never would have wilted like this after a rejection. Lily would have stayed strong.
The anger still festered in his mind the first night of the term, and when her Patronus soared through the corridor toward him the anger swelled toward a new eruption. He couldn’t wrap his mind around it—her Patronus had changed. It now looked like that unworthy half-breed Lupin!
It was an outrage. How could it be possible that her love for that werewolf was as potent and powerful as his love for Lily? She’d barely known the man for year. The depth of her love and the depth of her pain couldn’t possibly compare with what he felt, and yet they had produced the same change in her Patronus that Lily’s death had caused in his. It wasn’t right.
His anger and confusion were tempered only by his annoyance with Potter for once again going out of his way to prove just what an important, indispensable person he was. The arrogant little twat.
He tried to restrain himself from commenting on her Patronus as he collected Potter, but it was too much for him. He shot a nasty barb at her, calling her new Patronus “weak” before stalking back to the castle.
It was wrong of him, and he knew it. The change in her Patronus lingered on his mind for the next few days.
He still couldn’t understand how she could have formed such deep feelings for Lupin in such a short time, and he couldn’t help but wonder if things might have been different if he had ever dared act on his attraction. Could he have spared her that disappointment? Could she have lifted the burden of his pain? Was it too late to try?
Finally, a week later, he sought her out in the village.
When he found her patrolling the street and tried to speak, she turned on him with eyes full of hurt and anger.
“Why?” she asked. “Why did you do that to me? I thought you were my friend!”
“It was a mistake,” he replied softly. “I shouldn’t have said that to you. I came here to apologize.”
She stared at him suspiciously. “I didn’t know you were capable of apologizing.”
“Don’t let Black and Lupin’s opinions of me influence you, Nymphadora. I am just as human as they are, and I am far more committed to making amends for my mistakes than they ever were.”
She frowned. “I think we’ll have to agree to disagree about Remus and Sirius.”
“I suppose we shall.”
They were silent for a moment.
Severus spoke first. “Let me make it clear: I am deeply sorry for adding to your pain. Whether I understand why or not, I know that Lupin is very important to you, and I offered no sympathy. I am sorry. I know—very well—how deep a hurt must go to cause that kind of change in a Patronus. I should not have mocked you for it. I most humbly apologize.”
Welling tears sparkled in the corners of her eyes, and her limp brown hair fell across her face as she looked down at her feet. “Thank you,” she whispered.
He gave her a moment to regain her composure, and was shocked by what she said next.
“Is that why you never use your Patronus?”
“You said you know the kind of pain that causes a change in a Patronus. Is that because your Patronus changed? Is that why you don’t like to use it? Because it reminds you of someone you lost?”
He was dumbfounded by her acuity, and nodded in assent.
“Who was she?”
His mouth felt dry, and his heart was pounding. This was the first time anyone other than Albus had ever tried to talk to him about this subject. And, for some unknown reason, he wanted to tell her the truth.
“She was…a dear friend from school. I loved her very much, but…she chose another man. She was killed at the end of the war.”
Nymphadora’s eyes were shining with moisture again. “Do you still love her, even after all these years?”
He nodded, feeling all the emotions that he worked so hard to suppress welling up inside of him. “Yes. I do.”
“I’m so sorry,” she said.
Before he realized what was happening, her arms were wrapping around his neck. After a moment’s hesitation, he returned the embrace, circling his arms around her tiny waist.
She clung to him for several minutes, sending a wave of warmth surging through his body. It felt so good and so right to finally have someone who wanted nothing more from him.than to comfort him, and to be comforted in return.
“Sometimes I just wish I could forget him,” she whispered into Severus’s shoulder. “Even if it’s just for a little while, I wish I could forget him. I don’t want to feel this pain anymore.”
“To forget…” He sighed. “God, it would be wonderful to forget once in a while.” It was the first time he had ever admitted that desire, even to himself.
She loosened her embrace and looked up into his eyes. “Maybe we could help each other.”
He raised his eyebrows. “How?”
“I was just finishing my patrol and getting ready to go home. Come with me. Stay the night with me.”
He wasn’t sure if he was more surprised by her suggestion or by the sincerity in her voice as she offered it.
“Nymphadora, are you certain you—?”
“Stop calling me Nymphadora. And yes. I’m certain. Besides, I’ve seen the way you look at me when you don’t think I’m paying attention. You can’t tell me you haven’t thought about this before.”
The warmth in his body intensified, and he gripped her upper arms greedily. “I have.”
“Then come home with me. We can help each other forget—at least, for tonight.”
His mind was in a haze as they made their way to her flat. His heart pounded so loudly he was certain she could hear it.
It had been more than a decade since he’d slept with a woman without money changing hands. And now this beautiful, spirited, intoxicating young woman was taking him back to her flat to seduce him. He could hardly believe it until they were inside her flat, and she was shedding her Auror’s robes to reveal the tight jeans and skimpy tee shirt underneath.
She initiated the first kiss, pulling his face the short distance down to meet her lips.
That was all the encouragement he needed.
He smothered her lips and her face and her neck with his hungry, lingering kisses.
He paused just long enough to cast off his own outer robes before seizing her and steering her forcefully to the bedroom.
He was rougher than he’d intended as he removed her clothes with an almost violent eagerness, but she didn’t seem to mind.
She was thinner and smaller than he’d expected, but every bit as beautiful as he’d imagined.
After removing his own clothes he lowered her to the bed, and began working his way up and down her body with his mouth.
He seized her wrists in his hands, pinning them at her side as he lowered his face between her legs. She gasped in pleasure, tilting her pelvis toward him to encourage his ministrations.
His whole body quivered with desire, but he held back until she cried out in climax. Only then did he slip inside her, pinning her arms above her head and kissing her still moaning mouth.
He had never experienced anything like the way her body conformed to his, moving around him like a warm, wet massage. It was extraordinary—a revelation.
Lupin was a bloody idiot for ever giving this up.
As they moved together, her hair began to change, swirling in a vivid rainbow of color. And he, Severus Snape, had done it to her.
They finally climaxed together in a glorious fire-work display of sensation and color.
He collapsed into her arms, exhausted and happy.
Nymphadora was the only thing on his mind.
Now he lies peacefully, gently stroking the vivid pink-haired head on his shoulder, smiling to himself.
He feels something that he hasn’t felt in years: hope.
Perhaps he really will come out of this great bloody mess of a war alive. Perhaps he really will have a chance to pay his debt to Lily, once and for all. Perhaps he’ll finally have a chance to start fresh, and move on. Perhaps…just perhaps…he’ll finally have someone to move on with.
Eventually, he falls asleep.
She wakens him with her whispers, telling him that he might want to get back to the castle before the students wake up and start roaming the halls. He nods in agreement, and reluctantly slips out of bed to find his clothes.
When he is dressed he asks if she wants to see him again. She says yes, and they agree to meet in another five days—he doesn’t want to wait that long, but he won’t argue. Her pain is fresher than his, and he won’t push her faster than she is ready to move. He gives her a lingering kiss goodbye, and returns to the castle with an uncharacteristic spring in his step.
As the days progress the weight of the awful burdens that Albus has placed on his shoulders once again start to press him down. He doesn’t know if he can do as Albus demands. He doesn’t know if he can keep up appearances for the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters.
He hardly thinks of Lily.
He can’t stop thinking about Nymphadora. The feeling of hope stays with him, buoying him up.
Finally the night of their rendezvous arrives. He knocks at her door with a smile on his face, but at the sight of her it begins to fade.
She looks every bit as drab, brown, and worn as she did before their last night together.
That night may have changed him—but it didn’t change her. Her pain speaks clearly even through her smile.
He steps inside, and kisses her, all the while knowing that he was wrong. There is no true hope to be found here.
There is nothing but two broken souls finding temporary solace in one another’s arms.
He tries to convince himself that it is enough—that he never should have expected more. And, at least for tonight, he succeeds.