Star Light Star Bright
by Sibilance Spooner

Tonks likes him. She's young enough to think it's kind of cool that he's a werewolf; old enough to know not to speak when he clings to her and cries. As for him: he can't shake the feeling sometimes that he woke up one morning and she was there, clumsy and comforting and curled up next to him in bed. No. That's not fair. He remembers distinctly kissing her for the first time after having been crying, and the taste of salt thick in his mouth, and her lips gone still in shock before she relaxed and her hands came up around his neck, cautiously. He was never quite sure how they got from there to bed, except that there was a lot of apologizing on his part and a great deal of kindness on hers.


She did ask once. The Unaskable (not quite a curse, although it could have been). Perched on the edge of their rumpled bed, looking oddly shy in the dusty light from the window, she said, "If you ever wanted me to change -- to look like someone else I mean --"

He was still half-tangled in the bedcovers, facing the wall. "No."

"I thought that you should know I wouldn't mind."

He closed his eyes. She smelled like lemon zest and cinnamon and not at all like Sirius. "No."

She reached out a hand and let it rest on the high exposed bone of his ankle. She was a clever girl. "I'm not a fool," she said. "You know I love you, Remus. And you know just as well I'm not in love."


Tonks looks in the mirror. Snub nose, weak chin, still there.

She tugs at one recalcitrant spike of purple hair, frowns at her reflection, plays idle games with her name. Nymphadora. Nymph, adora. Nymph adorned; Nymph, adored; Nymph, t'adore. The last one, she has decided, sounds better with an extra syllable: Nymph, je t'adore. The sort of thing an extremely gallant (or perhaps simply Gallic) suitor would proclaim to the immature larval stage of an insect.

Perhaps her mother had known what she'd been doing, the day she'd picked that name; Tonks has long ago given up pretending to be anything other than the incurable punk she is. At well-past-twenty-and-don't-go-asking-my-lad, she is still: spike-haired, slang-ridden, clumsy, childish, and sleeping with a middle-aged werewolf who dreams of his murdered lover.

Halfway through her metamorphosis, like a butterfly stuck in a cocoon.

It is time, she thinks, to let that caterpillar child go. To see what comes.


Remus closes the curtains against the night. Of late the murk of central London has been welcome. It provides no way to see the stars; leaves the sky anonymous, and blank. But lonely. He has come to realize: lonely.

He has closed himself against the night, each night, and retreated. Because it was blank. Because it was anonymous. But in truth he has always known the names: known the way to number the stars, one by one, with the given names his grief has refused to let him speak.

This is the way to know the night and become strong in it. Step by step. Star by star. Small grief by small grief, until finally the grief is assuaged.



She has begun reading, devouring books like bites of vital food -- as though she had been on the brink of some hell and been starving, then set down to a feast. When asked, she smiles mysteriously, and says, "I'm trying to grow." She sits perched on the windowsill in the library, absorbed in Shakespeare, Voltaire, spellbooks. Sometimes he sits and watches her silently, seeing the subtle shifts in her body as she turns a page. Her limbs are lines of unlikely grace. Sunlight traces the ragged edges of her oft-bitten lips, and behind her -- out in the waiting world, beyond -- the blue sky covers thousands of stars. Like a veil, like a cloak. Like a comforter.

He has taken up astronomy, these days.


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