Title: I Hate Myself For Losing You
One-shot/Songfic/Chaptered: One-shot, songfic
Genre: Angst, romance
Other ships: None
Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns everything but the song lyrics, which are Kelly Clarkson's.
Summary: Sometimes moving on can take all of what a person has.
A songfic to "I Hate Myself For Losing You" by Kelly Clarkson
I woke up today
Woke up wide awake
In an empty bed
Staring at an empty room
I have myself to blame
For the state I'm in today
And now dying
Doesn't seem so cruel
June 19, 1999.
Not today, is the first thought that shimmers into existance as my conscious mind stirs and yawns, having been rudely woken up by the blinding rays of sunlight streaming through the cracked window above me. I glare at the tiny dust particles floating lazily in the beams of light through slitted eyes; they have no business intruding on my privacy.
The telephone rings.
“Go away,” I mumble into the scratched wooden boards pressed against my face. If I had had the incentive to do it, I might’ve actually reached an arm out and silenced the ringing myself, but today just isn’t a good day for that kind of energy expense.
The caller seems to care little about my wishes, because the ringing persists. At this point, any normal person would just pick up the phone and slam it back on the cradle, but I’m a nice guy and nice guys don’t do that. With a mighty groan, I pull my arm out from where it’s bent awkwardly under my stomach, reach up, and pick up the phone.
“Hello?” I mumble, aware that my voice has the slurred, confused quality of a drunken man’s. This annoys me, but there’s nothing I can do about it as my wand is locked up safely in the cabinet upstairs, and walking up the staircase is a bit beyond my capabilities at the moment.
“Wotcher, Remus!” comes the perky response. “How’re you feeling?”
My heart sinks a little; I’d forgotten about her morning check-ups. “How do you think I feel?” I mutter, for once not caring about being rude.
“I surmise the answer to that would be ‘Not too good,’ then?”
In reply, I say quickly, “Sorry, I’ve got to go. I’ll see you later. Bye, Tonks.” And I hang up the phone without waiting for her to answer.
Letting out a sigh of relief, I roll around, wincing at the jolts of pain that shoot up my spine, arms, and legs as I do so. My heart thumps painfully against my ribcage as I struggle to take in a few steady, deep breaths to relax my tensed-up muscles. As I’m doing this, I gradually become aware of a burning pain on the side of my neck.
Of all the places, I think to myself sullenly.
For a while, I lie there on the hard floor, my fingers blindly tracing the deep grooves and scratches in the wooden boards. I feel a sense of sick pride mixed in with disgust knowing that I made those grooves and scratches. Hell, they were probably from last night.
“Why me?” I demand out loud. My voice echoes off the empty walls of the Shrieking Shack. They refuse to answer me. I guess they don’t know either.
Ignoring the screams of protest from my aching joints, I pull myself up into a shaky standing position. As it happens, I fell asleep at the foot of the stairs. Great, less of a distance for me to walk.
Slowly, I begin to make my way up the rotting steps. About half-way up the stairs, my palm slides past an engraving on the wooden railing, which I am clutching for support. I pause and look down.
Time has worn away most of the wood, but I doubt those words will ever fade away. “Tonks + Remus Lupin,” with a crudely carved heart encircling the two names.
I grip the railing a little more tightly. My heart races a little faster. Suddenly, the top of the stairwell looks a lot further than it did initially. Swallowing hard, I lean against the railing with my face in my hands.
She told me once that she carved those words there when she was a sixth year visiting Hogsmeade. Back then, the “spooks” of the Shrieking Shack had been more of a visitor attraction than a reason to stay away from the crumbling building. She had scratched the words into the railing quickly while touring with a group of other Hogwarts students, thinking it was the last place I would ever look.
I guess she was wrong.
And oh, I don't know what to say
And I don't know anyway
After a few minutes, I realise my hands and face are wet. I wipe away some of the tears and berate myself for allowing a crack to momentarily appear in the dam holding back my emotions.
I make my way up the rest of the stairs.
Straight across from the top of the steps sits a little wooden cabinet. It has exactly one drawer, from which protrudes a little round knob of wood. I grab this makeshift handle and pull the drawer open. Aside from a few bundles of dust pushed up against the corners, there’s nothing inside but my wand.
I pick it up and run my thumb along the length of it, as if to check for abraisions. There are a few here and there, but it’s all normal wear and tear, so I make to tuck the wand into my robes pocket. Then I remember that I’m not wearing anything, as it’s usually better to take my clothes off before I settle down for these nights.
I move into a room to the left of the cabinet. The only thing in it is a sagging bed with torn up sheets. On top of these sheets sits a bundle of clothes—my clothes, all folded up neatly. I walk over and shake out my tattered old robes. They feel cold for some reason, even though it must be over 30 degrees right now. I shrug and put them on.
Now I finally secure my wand in my pocket, but not before performing a sobering charm on myself. I’m not drunk, obviously, but the spell works to clear my head and ease some of the aches, and that’s all I really need.
As I begin to descend the stairs, a little more steadily this time, I pass by the engraving in the railing. Against my better judgment, I stop to stare at the words again. Tonks + Remus Lupin, sneers a little voice in my mind scornfully. Yeah, right.
“Yeah, right,” I echo out loud, the words cold and sour on my tongue. “Yeah, right,” I say again, a little louder and more forcefully, “Where’s the other end of the equation, Tonks? There was never an us!”
And then out of pure spite, pure anger and disgust and despair and frustration and self-hatred, I scratch at the words furiously, my blood-caked fingernails digging deeply into the wood in an attempt to scratch those words away. But they’re stubborn; they refuse to give in to my fury. They persist, just like the ringing of the telephone.
My emotions are boiling over in a confused mess, but somehow I manage to realise that my efforts are not working. I scream, an angry, almost inhuman—which I am—sound that relieves a little of the turmoil brewing inside of me.
Still those words glare at me accusingly, and there’s nothing I can do to relieve the pain of that.
You got what you deserved
Hope you're happy now
'Cause everytime I think of him with you
It's killing me
Now I dread each day
Knowing that I can't be saved
From the loneliness
Of living without you
By the time I’m downstairs and gazing forlornly out the small grimy window in the torn up kitchen of the Shrieking Shack, the sky has mysteriously turned grey. This gives me a grim sort of pleasure, as it means that now Nature can join me in my self-pity.
I sit down heavily on a three-legged stool with a large chunk missing from its seat. There’s nothing left for me to do but wait; I’m not in the right state to go out and there’s nothing in the shack but myself, some rotting curtains, and a load of wood.
Luckily, I don’t have to wait long.
Barely three minutes after I seated myself, I hear the clang of the old doorbell, then the creaking sound of the door being pushed open. I sit, motionless, waiting for her to find me.
“Remus?” she calls out loud. Her voice echoes, like mine did this morning. I remember what it used to be like when those echoes were entwined.
“Remus, where are you?” she calls again. She sounds aggravated at my lack of response. “Stop moping around, I know you’re in here somewhere!”
I don’t answer. She’ll find me.
Sure enough, she eventually enters the kitchen carrying two large bags of groceries and looking extremely annoyed. Her short messy hair—which is bright green today—is tied up into two spiky pigtails that protrude out from the back of her head like clusters of grass. She looks well, I note bitterly.
Despite her irritated expression, the tone of her voice is light when she says to me, “You could’ve answered me, y’know.”
“I know,” I mutter. “You didn’t have to bring all of that,” I add, tilting my chin slightly in the direction of the bags of groceries she’s set down on the counter, “I’m not hungry.”
“Of course you’re hungry,” she replies briskly. She arches an eyebrow as she leans forward to look at me. “And you look absolutely terrible.”
“Thanks,” I respond sarcastically. I feel a flash of painful longing as I take in the friendly concern in her eyes; those eyes used to look at me with more than just that. But I guess she saves her love for the one who deserves it now.
She seems to realise that I’m scrutinising her, and abruptly straightens up. “I brought you blackberry tea,” she says cheerfully, her back turned to me now. “I know it’s your favourite.”
I resist the urge to remind her that it was her favourite, and that I only ordered it when we used to go out for lunch so we could share a cup. I don’t think it’s a good time to bring up those days.
“Remus, honestly, you look ghastly. Did you even take the Wolfsbane last night? I left it on this table for you.”
“I took it,” I lie. I didn’t, really. I figured I could deal with the pain. I can say now that was the stupidest decision I’ve ever made.
“I don’t believe you,” she replies matter-of-factly. She spares a quick look at me over her shoulder. “That scratch on your neck looks painful. Here, let me fix it for—”
“I don’t need you to,” I interrupt hoarsely. “I don’t want you anywhere near—I mean, I don’t want you to, it doesn’t hurt that much.”
She furrows her eyebrows together in confusion. After a few seconds of silence, she finally shrugs and returns to setting out two teacups and saucers. “Fine, whatever you say.”
Silence settles between us. I stare fixedly at a spot on the fridge across from me. A picture of her laughing used to be taped haphazardly over that very spot. When she went off and married someone else, I blasted it off. Now all that remains is a burn mark.
“How’s Bill doing?” I ask dully.
“Oh, he’s doing wonderful!” I note that her voice brightens up even more at the mention of her husband, and my stomach turns over. “He really misses Fleur, you know, but he’s got his job back and he says he’s trying to put it all in the past.”
“That’s good,” I mumble, careful to keep any bitterness out of my voice. “I’m glad…I’m glad you two are fine. Both of you deserve it.”
She doesn’t say anything in reply. Instead, she turns around and stares at me. Hurt and confusion are in her eyes, and for one long moment, she doesn’t look like a little girl to me anymore. She looks old and tired. Then she bites her lip and turns around again, and she’s back to being Tonks.
“Sorry,” I say finally. She just nods her head without looking at me. We both know what I’m apologising about, even if I don’t say it out loud.
And oh, I don't know what to do
Not sure that I'll pull through
I wish you knew
“You don’t have to do this,” I say quietly once she’s sitting across from the table with a cup of tea in her hands. I stare down into mine. The dregs are still swirling around, looking like mutated snowflakes in a dark night sky. I feel sick to the stomach.
“Don’t be stupid, Remus, of course I do,” she says, forcing a smile at me. “Besides, I want to.”
I watch her take a sip of her tea. Her hair has turned brown now. It’s a colour I know only too well.
“Are you okay?” I ask cautiously.
“Yeah. Don’t worry about the hair, it’s been doing this every once in a while now.” Another forced smile. I hate this.
I avert my eyes and nod. My hands feel awkward doing nothing, so I pick up my cup of tea and take a sip. It tastes bitter, like Wolfsbane, and it burns as it slips down my throat. I clench my teeth and look away.
“Do you want milk or sugar in it?” she asks. “It tastes pretty bad just plain.”
“No,” I say sharply, “it’s fine the way it is, and it’s probably better for me without milk or sugar. It’s better to just leave things alone no matter how bad they taste.”
She stares at me, her eyes filled with the same confusion I saw before. She knows what I’m talk about, though. She has to. Everytime I see her I remind her.
“Remus—” she starts to say.
“Forget it,” I say. Pushing my stool away from the table, I stand up. “Just forget it. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go lie down.”
But I’m already gone.
I hate myself for losing you
I'm seeing it all so clear
I hate myself for losing you
What do you do when you look in the mirror
And staring at you is why she's not here?
What do you say when everything's said?
Is the reason why she left you in the end?
How do you cry when every tear you shed
Won't ever bring her back again?
I hate myself for loving you
As I stumble down the empty hallway leading to the sitting room, I push over tables and chairs in the way. It’s all I can do to not throw a punch or two at the walls out of frustration. Goddamnit, I can’t stand this. I can’t stand seeing her, having her talk to me as if things are normal, and even worse, acting as if they are, because they’re not. They’re not fine. They’re not okay. They’re not even close to okay.
I’m just about to kick over another table when I feel a hand close around my arm.
“Go away, Nymphadora,” I growl, trying to throw her off. “Get away from me. You shouldn’t have come.”
“Don’t call me that, Remus Lupin! Don’t you dare, you know how I feel about—”
“And you know how I feel about this,” I say furiously, spinning around and waving my free arm around wildly. I tear my arm out of her grasp. “All of this. This rubbish act you put on like there was never anything wrong between us, like I’m just some normal old man who has a problem and needs to be taken care of. Why do you still come here, Tonks? Why the bloody hell do you still come?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” she says incredulously, shaking her head. Her hair is black now, and out of the pigtails. It streams down her back in waves, reaching her waist in length. “Look at you! You’re sick. You won’t eat, you won’t sleep, you won’t even respect yourself enough to take the Wolfsbane Potion. You expect me to leave you like this?”
“I’m not talking about that any longer, Tonks, I’m talking about us. The us that never existed. You’re with Bill Weasley now, not me. Why can’t you just accept that? Why can’t you take it and leave me alone?” I shout the last word with all the hate and rage bottled in me. I taste the tears that I know are streaming down my cheeks now. It doesn’t embarrass me that I’m crying in front of her, though, because she’s crying too. Because of me. Because it was always me that made her cry.
“You are so conceited, Remus Lupin!” she screams, her fists clenched at her sides. “You think this is about something beyond friendship? It’s not. I got over you, Remus, and you never got over me. You’re wrong. I moved on with my life, and you didn’t. For God’s sake, Remus, you live in this hellhole because you can’t bring yourself to live where people can see you. I’m the only one who still cares enough to make sure you stay alive. You’ve already pushed away the rest of the goddamn world, so why are you pushing me away?” She takes a deep breath and angrily wipes away the tears in her eyes with her palms. “You’ve pushed me away before, and I came back. Do you think I’m going to listen to you and leave now when you need me the most?”
I grab her wrist and hold it tightly in my hand. Closing my eyes tightly, I say hoarsely, “Tonks, it couldn’t work out. I couldn’t do it.”
“You’re mad,” she says tearfully, shaking her head. She trembles as she stares down at my hand around her wrist. “You think you can deal with the pain of the transformation so you don’t take the Wolfsbane. You think you can survive on your own so you lock yourself up in this rotting shack. And you think you can live without someone to love you so you ran away from us. You’re crazy, Remus. You’re crazy. Did you think I would wait for you? I waited for you for 20 years, Remus, and I had to move on. So I did. I moved on and I left you behind and for the first time, it was me pushing you away.”
I release her wrist and turn away. The pain gripping my heart is unbelievable. I feel as if I’m being compressed into nothing, squeezed so small until all that’s left to feel and hear is the pounding of my heart…and then the shattering. “I’m not crazy,” I whisper, pressing my forehead against the wall. “I’m not crazy.”
Deep inside, though, I can’t help but fear that maybe she’s right. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe it’s not lycanthropy but pure madness that turned me into who I am.
“I’ve already turned away from that part of us, Remus,” she says softly from behind me. “I can’t look back. I won’t let myself do that.” She pauses and puts a hand gently on my shoulder. I jerk away. “Maybe you can do the same one day too.”
I hear her turn to leave. As the sound of her footsteps walking away pounds against my ears, I say quietly, “There never was an us, Tonks.”
The footsteps stop. “What did you say?”
I don’t reply. After a while, she seems to decide that what she heard was a figment of her imagination. The footsteps pick up again, and soon they’re gone.
Long after the door slams behind her, I finally look up. Wiping the tears out of my eyes with the tattered sleeve of my robe, I glance across the hallway into a cracked mirror. She’s right; I do look sick. Bile rises up in my throat and I nearly vomit, but I hold it back.
It may be my fault she’s gone from that part of my life, but I won’t let myself remember it. Not today.