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sea_thoughts


The Sea of Stars

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Difference III - Rich and Poor
Christmas - ibroughtuflours
sea_thoughts
*fanfare sounds*

And now, the story you've all been waiting: Difference III!


Title: Difference III – Rich and Poor

Author: sea_thoughts aka Starsea

Prompt: Difference

Rating: PG-13

Word Count: 2457

Money talks,
But it can’t sing and dance,
And it can’t walk.
As long as I can have you here with me,
I’d much rather be forever in blue jeans.

Neil Diamond


Sirius is triumphant, of course. He grins at Remus from behind his fringe and hums the Wedding March whenever they’re alone together. Remus endures this teasing because every idea of retaliation is either too childish or too cruel. Nymphadora has no such inhibitions. She waits until her cousin is asleep, then turns his hair every colour of the rainbow. When Sirius wakes up and sees the result, he comes storming into the disused ballroom, where Remus has been teaching her to waltz, and turns the air royal blue. Nymphadora throws back her head and laughs at him while Remus tries (and fails) to hide his own laughter at the sight. Eventually, even Sirius cannot resist and he starts laughing as well.

“Well played, coz,” he says, shaking his head. “Worthy of me or James.”

“Not Remus?” she demands, her hand curling around his arm, jealous for him. Remus cherishes this more than she’ll ever know.

“Nah, way too immature for Moony the Prefect,” Sirius says mockingly. “He’d think out something elaborate.”

“I once made you fart every two minutes, hardly elaborate,” Remus reminds him.

Nymphadora snorts with surprised laughter. “Did you really do that?”

“Oh yes,” Sirius says with a smirk. “McGonagall was so disappointed. She called it a ‘waste of talent’.”

Green eyes meet brown, sweet with love. “And what were you talented in?”

“Transfiguration and Defence Against the Dark Arts. Not that they got me anywhere,” Remus adds with a sad smile.

“They got you the job at Hogwarts,” Sirius points out, frowning.

“Most people don’t care that I got Os in my Transfiguration and Defence Against the Dark Arts NEWTs, Sirius. They do care about the fact I turn into a dangerous monster once a month and the longest I’ve ever held a job is one year.” He knows that talking to Sirius about work is insensitive but he can’t help himself.

“But the Order pays you, doesn’t it?” Nymphadora asks, looking puzzled.

Sirius snorts. “Are you kidding? He’s too proud, thinks of it as charity.”

“You and Dumbledore are not made of money,” Remus says through gritted teeth. He doesn’t want to talk about this in front of Nymphadora. He doesn’t want to talk about money, or think about how she is developing a high-flying career while he can’t hold down even a part-time job, never mind the fact that he had to quit the only job that has ever made him happy.

Sirius is getting angry again. “Maybe not, but it’s not like my inheritance is doing much, is it?! It’s not like I can just stroll down Diagon Alley and buy whatever I want! At least you can use the money, which is more than I can do!”

Remus pulls away and walks to the door. He can feel Sirius glaring at his back but he doesn’t turn around. Nymphadora calls out his name but the door cuts her off and he leans against it, breathing heavily. Despite the inevitability, he still feels humiliated that they had to discuss his financial situation in front of her. Why couldn’t Sirius think for once?

Nymphadora is not stupid. She doesn’t bring up the subject in private, but Remus knows that she hasn’t forgotten the argument. It’s too important for her to forget. As an Auror, she’s been trained in interrogation and she knows when he’s at his most vulnerable. So when she marches into the kitchen near the full moon and asks him, “How much money have you got, Remus?” he knows that he shouldn’t be surprised. But he is surprised, and he hates being caught off guard, which makes him sharper than normal.

“Is that any of your business?”

“I’d like it to be,” she replies quietly and he drops his goblet of Wolfsbane onto the floor, where the potion spills uselessly over the flagstones. He stares at the spreading puddle, his mind whirling. Oh God. Oh God, he did not just hear that. She did not say that, she does not mean that. She has no idea what that means.

“No,” he says immediately, shutting the idea out in panic.

“Why not?” she presses.

Remus grabs a cloth and begins to mop up his potion, his nose wrinkling at the smell of burnt herbs and dishwater. “You have no idea…” he begins.

“No idea about what it means to be a werewolf?” she interrupts, her eyes burning blue with determination. “Maybe not, but I know you. And I’ve done some research. I took a shift at the Werewolf Unit for the last full moon.”

He stops mopping for a moment, stares at the floor in shock. He realises that for some ridiculous reason, he had been hoping to protect her. Not from the idea that he’s a werewolf, but the reality of it: the trembling limbs, the nausea, the fatigue that belongs to people whose bodies are racked by an illness that can be contained, but never cured; the look in people’s eyes when they realise what you are; the constant rejection, which hurts worse when it’s polite; the knowledge that it will never, ever, get better, that you will never, ever, get better. This is your life. Be grateful for what you’ve got.

He does not want her to be grateful for what she’s got. She should wake up every morning full of joy and energy, full of purpose. She should be happy. And he knows that his life cannot make her happy.

Long white fingers appears in his vision and take the cloth from him, mopping the rest of the potion up. “For God’s sake, let me help,” she says quietly, her eyes now looking into his. The blue is no longer so fierce; it is quieter now, turning towards violet. He opens his mouth, but the look silences him. She stands up and wrings the cloth out over the sink in one practised movement. Remus pushes himself to his feet and watches her. He is trying to think of an argument: you shouldn’t have to help me; you should find someone who can pull his own weight; I’ll just be a Jarvey around your neck.

“Nymphadora,” he begins, when he senses a movement in the doorway and turns to see Severus, hovering in the shadows like a great bat. Remus frowns slightly. How long has he been there?

“Not interrupting, I hope,” Severus says, as he sweeps into the kitchen. His eyes note the overturned goblet, which Remus forgot to pick up, and his mouth curls with familiar scorn. “Did you manage to drink any of that before you spilt it, Lupin?”

“Like you’d care if you were interrupting,” Nymphadora flashes, turning around after pegging up the cloth to drip dry. She leans against the sink and watches Severus with cool eyes that have gone back to their usual dark grey. Remus smells the gunpowder scent of danger in the air.

“No, I didn’t manage to drink much, Severus,” he says.

Severus lifts one bony shoulder, as if this incompetency is only to be expected. “I can’t be expected to bring you Wolfsbane any hour of the day or night,” he says, his tone contemptuous. “You’ll just have to go without it for tonight, thought what effect that will have on your… other self, I can only speculate.” His eyes dart to Remus’s face, sharp with malice. “Of course, if you could provide the ingredients for me yourself instead of relying on my poor stock…”

Remus sees the hidden edge that Severus’s words always carry, feels the sly point digging into him: Ingredients for potions? You can barely afford to clothe yourself. He opens his mouth but a hoot of laughter interrupts him. Severus’s face tightens as they both turn to Nymphadora, who raises her eyebrows and gives him an innocent smile.

“Poor stock? You have a huge cupboard, Professor,” she says, emphasising his title just a little too much. “Not to mention a… comfortable salary.” Her pause is worthy of Severus himself. “I don’t see why you need to be so ungracious about helping a colleague.”

Remus sees Severus’s jaw tighten at the words ‘ungracious’ and ‘colleague’. Severus never wanted him as a colleague so Nymphadora refering to him as such is like cuttiing Severus with his own knife, and having a girl that he taught call him ‘ungracious’ would be galling enough, but the fact that it’s Nymphadora who says these words makes things much worse. She can’t know that having the daughter of Andromeda Black call him ‘mean’ is like reminding him of who he used to be: the poor half-blood, the kid in robes that were either too big or too small, the kid who never washed his hair or his underwear, the oddball, the outcast… She can’t know that reminding Severus of his past is just about the most dangerous thing she could possibly do.

“Ungracious?” Severus repeats, his voice silky with the promise of pain. “Possibly, Miss Tonks. Perhaps you might want to wait and see how gracious you feel after having to pay for his robes and food for a year, after having to nurse him each and every month, after seeing how people look at you for being married to a monster.” His voice lingers almost lovingly over the last word and Remus sucks in a breath. So Severus did hear their discussion.

“The habit of eavesdropping is so hard to break, isn’t it?” he says, and Severus shoots him a look of pure hatred, but his eyes look wild, almost caged.

“Perhaps you might want to remember, Lupin, that eavesdropping is my job,” he hisses.

“Eavesdropping on the enemy,” Nymphadora says, bringing him up short again. “Do you have to be reminded that Remus is not your enemy?”

Remus sighs. He knows that this is a fight she won’t win. It’s too old and the wounds go too deep. “Nymphadora…”

“No, Remus,” she says fiercely, and Remus closes his eyes, because for one unbelievable moment she sounds so much like Lily, saying that he must never call himself a monster again in her presence or she’ll hex him. When he opens his eyes, he sees that Severus has gone even whiter than usual and he is staring at Nymphadora like he has never seen her before. But this doesn’t stop her, she’s too angry to stop now.

“Nobody calls you a monster in front of me, Remus, especially not the man who spends his days sucking up to the biggest monster alive! That’s what a monster is, Remus! Someone who throws away their humanity voluntarily, someone who kills and hurts without a thought for other people!” She steps forward and Severus takes a step back automatically. Nymphadora’s eyes are blazing, flashing from grey to blue and back again, and she suddenly reminds Remus of Sirius, alive with reckless, righteous anger. “Remus may not have as much money as you,” she says, her voice ringing in the large room, “but he’s richer than you’ll ever be, Professor. He has people who love him and care for him, because they know the difference between a monster and a man!” She lowers her voice slightly and lifts her chin and the Black family resemblance becomes even stronger. “And if you’re so worried about your precious stock, you needn’t bother making his potion anymore! I brewed Wolfsbane for my NEWT exam, I’ve still got the recipe. I can whip up a batch tonight. So run along and do your eavesdropping.” The word drips with Black contempt, Sirius would be proud of her.

Severus takes another step back. He glances at Remus, his eyes glittering, his lips white with anger. “Still lettting other people defend you, Lupin?” he says.

“I think Lily would approve,” Remus says quietly, and he feels the petty satisfaction of having the last word as Severus turns and stalks from the room.

Nymphadora whoops and hugs him. “Go on, admit it, that felt good!” she cries, beaming up at him. Remus lets out a shaky laugh and hugs her back, feeling her warm and lithe against him, burying his face in the pink spikes of her hair.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” he admonishes. “You shouldn’t have said…”

“I don’t care,” she says, immediately fierce once more. “Nobody says those things about you in front of me and gets away with it, Remus. I don’t care how important he is to the Order, that doesn’t give him the right to treat you like shit. You’re a better man than he’ll ever be.”

“Nymphadora!” He feels a guilty swoop of pleasure in his chest. “That’s not true… Severus is very brave, there aren’t many men who could do his job.”

“Oh!” she scoffs. “Bravery!” Her gaze softens for a moment. “Remus, you’re such a Gryffindor! As if bravery is the only thing that matters. Oh yes, he’s very brave… but when it comes to acting like a decent human being, he hasn’t got a clue. Didn’t you hear what he said about you? You’re one of the most human men I’ve ever met, Remus, and I mean that. You care so much about other people – a little too much, frankly, but I’d rather have that than you not caring at all. Everybody here likes you, do you know that? That’s a pretty impressive achievement.”

“Severus hasn’t had my advantages,” Remus protests. “I had Sirius and James and Peter when I was at school, I had parents who cared about me…”

“And he’s had a cushy job at Hogwarts for the past fifteen years!” Nymphadora retorts, grinning up at him. “See? You’re still trying to be fair to him, even though he acted like a complete bastard! Sorry, Remus, but there’s no way you’ll change my mind about Snape. As far as I’m concerned, you will always be the better human being.” She buries her face in his chest with a smile, satisfied that she’s made her point, while Remus stands there, hugging her and blinking back tears. He wishes that he could Floo Lily or write a letter to her, tell her that she’d been right, that he had found a girl who would love him no matter what. He closes his eyes and sees her standing there, smiling, green eyes alight.

Of course I was right, Remus. I’m always right.

“Remus?” Nymphadora is looking up at him, curious. “You look sad.”

“I was just wishing that you could have met Lily,” he says, touching her cheek. “She would have liked you.”

She smiles shyly. “You think so?”

“I know so,” he says and kisses her full on the mouth, wrapping his arms around her and enjoying her squeak of surprise. At that moment, he knows he’s the richest man in the world.


DISCLAIMER: Remus and Tonks live inside my head for the moment but they belong to JKR.

Author's Notes: So, here we are: rough and a bit clumsy but I hope you don't mind. Obviously this takes place before Snape's remark about Tonks's 'weak' Patronus in HBP but it's retroactive revenge for me, if that makes any sense. (It's Friday afternoon, my brain is rapidly grinding to a halt.) Perhaps I made her a little too mean, but I think when it comes to Remus, the gloves are off for Tonks. It took me a while to get Snape's voice right because the Harry filter is so hard to shake off, but I think I managed him in the end. As for the song, it just seems to reflect Tonks's POV. And yes, I am going to write Part IV. :)

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Aw...I was waiting for this and it did not disappoint. I just love your feisty Tonks here. I feel like she can be so difficult to write, but you've created such an interesting, endearing one. I like that she almost goes a bit too far, which shows her age, and yet there's that facet of Remus that can't help but be deeply touched and flattered by the fact that she's doing this for him.

You write Snape so nastily, too, and I really like Tonks stance that what does bravery matter when he's a nasty person. I think she'd not be a fan of Harry naming a child after him, lol. ;)

Lovely work. Can't wait for more R/T from you!

Aw...I was waiting for this and it did not disappoint.

Phew!

I just love your feisty Tonks here. I feel like she can be so difficult to write, but you've created such an interesting, endearing one.

I'm glad the feistiness didn't seem too overdone. I don't find her too difficult to write, but then I'm around her age (which makes her love for Lupin all the more remarkable to me).

I like that she almost goes a bit too far, which shows her age, and yet there's that facet of Remus that can't help but be deeply touched and flattered by the fact that she's doing this for him.

In some ways, I feel like this is the first time Remus realises (in my fic universe, anyway) just how much she loves him. She's willing to challenge Snape! Wow, she must be serious! ;)

You write Snape so nastily, too, and I really like Tonks stance that what does bravery matter when he's a nasty person.

Yay, Snape was Snape-ish! He's my bugbear, I am always worried that I don't write him nasty enough. And yeah, Tonks is a Hufflepuff, she wouldn't be impressed by his bravery.

Thanks for reading! :)

I think she'd not be a fan of Harry naming a child after him, lol. ;)

Absolutely not! "You got him a portrait in the Headmaster's study, that's enough respect." ;)

Now I feel better about discovering this story so late in the game, because I got to read Part III right away! Once again I love the interaction between Sirius, Remus and Tonks. I think in those situations we get the best glimpse of who Remus is without the Harry filter. Sirius teases him about being a prefect, but it's so clear that Remus is more than just "prefect" or "professor," he has a mischievious streak too!

“Nobody says those things about you in front of me and gets away with it, Remus. I don’t care how important he is to the Order, that doesn’t give him the right to treat you like shit. You’re a better man than he’ll ever be.”
Don't you want to just cheer for Tonks here? Because I do! And I totally understand your need for retroactive punishment for Snape! I think DH revealed a lot of interesting stuff about him, but I definitely don't think it excuses all the nasty stuff he's said about or done to characters that I really love--like Remus and Tonks. I'm glad she stood up for Remus.

Oh, and I'm most definitely friending your journal. Not only do we share a love of HP (and R/T), we enjoy some of the same anime series!

I think we're psychic twins. What do you think? Oh wait, I know what you think: you agree! :D

Once again I love the interaction between Sirius, Remus and Tonks. I think in those situations we get the best glimpse of who Remus is without the Harry filter.

I think so, too. He's with his childhood friend and the woman who loves him, he can be himself. :)

“Nobody says those things about you in front of me and gets away with it, Remus. I don’t care how important he is to the Order, that doesn’t give him the right to treat you like shit. You’re a better man than he’ll ever be.”
Don't you want to just cheer for Tonks here? Because I do! And I totally understand your need for retroactive punishment for Snape!


Good! That's the reaction I was hoping for, and I'm happy you understand the reasoning behind it.

I think DH revealed a lot of interesting stuff about him, but I definitely don't think it excuses all the nasty stuff he's said about or done to characters that I really love--like Remus and Tonks. I'm glad she stood up for Remus.

No, it doesn't excuse the nasty things he said or did, it just explains them. You can finally understand him but that doesn't mean you have to like what he did. I'm glad you liked her standing up for Remus, because I was a bit worried I'd made her go too far. On the other hand, can Tonks ever go too far where Remus is concerned?

Oh this was very nice indeed to come home to! As always, I greatly enjoyed how the dialogue swaps effortlessly back and forth between past and present, giving me as the reader a real sense of the history and friendship between Remus and Sirius, and then the history and enmity of Remus and Snape. And bringing them, and it, all together is your very colourful and fiercely loyal Tonks, which is just what this Remus needs. It's lovely that he recognises that fact himself at the end as well as this is certainly a Tonks who'd stand up in front of a room full of people in HBP for him.

If I had to pick a favourite line, I think I'd go for "McGonagall was so disappointed. She called it a ‘waste of talent’.” I bet she was impressed by his talent at Transfiguration though, lol.

Lovely read and I'm very pleased to see we're going to get more. :)

On which note, would you mind at all if I put the link to this up at metamorphed_fic? I was just thinking the first two parts are there and anyone following it from the last Meta Showdown, and who might miss it here, will spot it then?

Please do go ahead and link it! It saves me the bother! ;)

Oh this was very nice indeed to come home to!

Hee, good. ;)

As always, I greatly enjoyed how the dialogue swaps effortlessly back and forth between past and present, giving me as the reader a real sense of the history and friendship between Remus and Sirius, and then the history and enmity of Remus and Snape.

You can't really escape the past when it comes to Sirius and Snape, because they're still living in it, in a very real sense. Both of them have such history with Remus that you can't ignore it.

And bringing them, and it, all together is your very colourful and fiercely loyal Tonks, which is just what this Remus needs. It's lovely that he recognises that fact himself at the end as well as this is certainly a Tonks who'd stand up in front of a room full of people in HBP for him.

Thanks. I was thinking of that scene when I wrote her. She has to be bold for Remus because he won't stand up for himself. :)

If I had to pick a favourite line, I think I'd go for "McGonagall was so disappointed. She called it a ‘waste of talent’.” I bet she was impressed by his talent at Transfiguration though, lol.

Quite. "Mr Lupin, Mr Black produces enough hot air without your help." Not that I'm a Minerva fangirl or anything... 0:)

Hey, the link from metamorphed_fic doesn't work, I think there's a hash where it shouldn't be or something. :(

Thanks for letting me know, I've amended it.

“Not Remus?” she demands, her hand curling around his arm, jealous for him. Remus cherishes this more than she’ll ever know.


Aw, I feel jealous for Remus too. Although...Sirius should know that it's usually the quite ones...the prefects, and the "good boys" that you should watch out for. I love that prank.

I agree with Tonks' argument 100%. I definitely think that even if the big picture was of Snape kissing Voldy's butt, in order to help defeat him, it doesn't take away from the fact that he is first and foremost a big, fat jerk. Lily might be glad that he ended up saving Harry's life, but I don't think she'll be too forgiving about how Snape treated him in his everyday life.

I agree with mrstater - I literally made a disgusted face at the end of DH when I learned the name of Harry's son.

Although...Sirius should know that it's usually the quite ones...the prefects, and the "good boys" that you should watch out for. I love that prank.

I wondered what would be juvenile and yet clever enough for Remus, and then it came to me. XD

I agree with Tonks' argument 100%. I definitely think that even if the big picture was of Snape kissing Voldy's butt, in order to help defeat him, it doesn't take away from the fact that he is first and foremost a big, fat jerk. Lily might be glad that he ended up saving Harry's life, but I don't think she'll be too forgiving about how Snape treated him in his everyday life.

The point is that he was only doing it because Voldemort killed Lily. If Harry hadn't been Lily's son, he could have been thrown off his broom in the first year and Snape wouldn't have blinked (ha ha). And for Tonks, that argument isn't good enough. You have to mean it.

I also went "OMG WTF?" when I heard that Albus's second name was "Severus". I comfort myself by telling myself that James's second name is Sirius.

Oh that was so great, love the fierceness of how Tonks defends Remus in front of Snape.
It was fun and great reading how Tonks scares the shit out of Snape, when she was angry and every single thing she said was true.
And the interpretation of richness transfering from the financial aspect to the human aspects was managed perfectly, you captured both characters very good!
Enjoyed reading it and look forward to part 4!


It was fun and great reading how Tonks scares the shit out of Snape, when she was angry and every single thing she said was true.

Actually, that wasn't supposed to be her scaring him. That was Snape being reminded of Lily just like Remus was. ^^;

And the interpretation of richness transfering from the financial aspect to the human aspects was managed perfectly, you captured both characters very good!

Thank you! :D I like it when my themes shine through (but not too obviously).

Awww...again so sweet. I love Tonks' being fiesty with Snape. Stand up for your man girl!!

Hee, it was fun to write her telling him off.

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