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Chapter 4: Uncomfortable Tightness
I mucked around at work the next day unable to set my mind to anything. Macnair was in a nasty mood that day and rode me for it every moment he could. I didn’t pay him much attention; I was too busy analyzing those perilous thoughts that had entered my mind the previous night.
How could I be so foolish to let myself think I loved her? Even worse was the dejected look in Tonks’ eyes when she left. I had hurt her but I did so to save her from me. It was flawed but would be best in the long-run.
My mantra of ‘just friends, nothing more’ was interrupted when I received an urgent memo from the Auror Department. I didn’t have to read it to know it was from Tonks - her scent called out to me right away. I opened it feeling unsure about its contents. I felt my stomach flutter as I opened it. The message was brief: Hall of Knowledge, after work, Friday.
I looked at it for a few minutes tying to extract any hidden meaning in her words soon realizing that there was none. I wrote her a quick note saying that I’d be there. I figured that she wanted to meet up for one of three reasons. Either to go over our story one more time, yell at me for the other night, or look up ways to secure her flat.
When I looked around the Hall of Knowledge the next day, I didn’t see Tonks right away. I went up to the bored looking clerk to ask if he’d seen her. He’d remember if he had, she’s hard to miss. “Excuse me?” He looked up from the book he was browsing. “Have you seen a young witch with…” I had to think about her hair color, for I knew, it could be baby blue that day. “Pink hair?” I figured that pink was a safe bet.
The young man, who appeared to be Tonks’ age said, “You mean the one with the book on shagging werewolves?” I didn’t know how to answer. Were there many pink-haired witches with books on shagging werewolves? I doubted there were many pink-haired witches, let alone a gaggle of them with that kind of book. Why would she have a book on shagging werewolves? Perhaps it was a passing fancy. That’s what I was - a temporary object of lust. “She’s over there,” the clerk said pointing to a table that was mostly out of view. I couldn’t make my smirk go away as I approached the table. I found myself uncomfortably excited thinking of Tonks up late reading a book on werewolf shagging.
I sat down carefully, ruing my decision to wear my nice-butt trousers as they were a bit snugger than what I usually wore. “Wotcher, Remus,” Tonks said with a forced grin. I wondered if she overheard the clerk but decided not to ask. Her strained smile could be from still being upset with me. “I thought we could look over some ways to safeguard my place.” Tonks had a stack of books at her disposal. She seemed quite adept at navigating her way around a library.
I reached for one of the books she had for us and paused. “What kind of defense did you have in mind?” I asked looking at her books. “We could make it unplotable, but that wouldn’t keep him from finding it again, that’d just keep new visitors from getting there.” Tonks grinned at me saying she did have people she’d want over. “So you need hexes and jinxes?” I couldn’t help but wonder why she needed my help for this.
Tonks nodded while thumbing through a book. “I figured you’d be able to rattle of a whole book of useful hexes and jinxes seeing as you were a D.A.D.A. prof.” Tonks didn’t look up from her book but had a slight flush working down her neck.
I squirmed in my chair telling myself to get a grip. “You’re an Auror and should be able to fill up several books on jinxes and hexes,” I said returning her grin. “Let’s make a list.” I pulled out a piece of parchment titling it ‘Useful Jinxes and Hexes for the Protection of Nymphadora.’ Tonks leaned across the desk to read it.
She crossed out Nymphadora and wrote ‘TONKS.’ “Do you think we need to expand on the title?” she asked benignly.
I rubbed my chin for a moment. “No, I like long things.” She sniggered. “Long titles that is.” I lowered my voice conspiratorially, “It seems that good looks aren’t the only trait that run vapid in the Black family. The whole lot of you are lewd as trolls.” I could have kicked myself for jumping into flirtation mode.
Tonks flipped through her book a bit more saying “It’s all part of our natural charm and grace.” Now it was my turn to let out a low laugh. “Grace can skip a generation at times.” She made a face at me and jotted down a few hexes. We enjoyed making a list of hexes she could use in case of an intruder. Some of them were ones I used in school. I felt dated telling her about some of them, but she did enjoy the stories.
Meeting her parents that night made me feel as if we were truly dating. It was a nice feeling to hold her hand, casually kissing Tonks on the cheek, and calling her Nymphadora. We both played our parts expertly. Tonks was incredibly comfortable when it came to sitting with my arm around her waist and giving my knee squeezes that sent chills through my body. I had to remind myself that it was all for the Order; it held no real meaning for her. Ted and Andromeda were as gracious as two parents could be when their only daughter brings a werewolf home. I expected uncomfortable questions about my age, association with Sirius, and my intentions. I was not disappointed.
Ted questioned me while Nymphadora and Andromeda were in the kitchen together. I highly doubted that she was actually helping but giving her father and me a chance to talk. “You know, you’re the first bloke she’s ever brought home,” Ted said in a low voice. I opened my mouth unsure how to respond to that. “Nymphadora is happier than I’ve seen her in a long while,” Ted added with a smile.
I was able to smile at this remark. “She’s the one who brightens my life,” I said this in all honesty. Tonks was a ray of hope that somehow reached the darkest cell in the most decrepit prison. “I can understand where you and Andromeda would have misgivings,” I said dredging up what I thought would be an uncomfortable talking point.
Ted shook his head for a moment then said, “Was she being that obvious?” He jerked a head towards the kitchen. “You were always good mates with Sirius… and well, Andromeda hasn’t gotten over that. He actually visited her. Can you imagine the nerve? She never reported him… but she refused to help him.” Ted shot me a sideways glance. “He hasn’t tried to… contact you, has he?”
I arranged my face into a stern look and shook my head. “He should know what kind of reception he’d get,” I said with a growl. I managed a slight smile before saying, “I’m sure Nymphadora would make some headway in her Department if she brought him in though.” I remembered one of her first conversations with Sirius. “I’m sure she could use the money for a new broom.”
Ted’s laughter rang through the house. “I can see why she likes you.” He was still chuckling when Tonks and Andromeda announced dinner a few minutes later. Dinner was enjoyable. Andromeda’s skill as a cook did not disappoint.
The night at her parent’s reawakened my romantic ideals. I had been working hard at squashing them out after I told her we could only be friends. As we were leaving I slipped my arm around Tonks’ waist. It seemed to fit quite well there. I expected Tonks to wiggle out of our mobile embrace but she didn’t. “I think we pulled of being a couple quite well,” Tonks said smiling. “My parents did seem to like you.” I glanced back at her childhood home feeling like I could get use to nights like that.
“They’re really nice. I expected them to be a bit more… resistant to me.” My heart was beating fast, I wanted to kiss Tonks. She looked determined but for what I couldn’t quite tell.
“I did threaten never to speak to them again…” I raised an eyebrow. “Well, when I first said we were dating, Mum flipped out and I said if they couldn’t accept it I didn’t see a reason for me to return.” I felt my cheeks flush. She left that part out of her initial story.
Not knowing how to respond, I changed the subject. “I can see where you get your household skill from.” I smiled slightly as Tonks jabbed at my side. Even a sharp poke was pleasurable from her.
“I hope you mean my Dad.” She snorted laughing. We came to a stop and our eyes met. Tonks had a burning look in her eyes; she looked conflicted. “Thanks for your help. I’ll see you soon,” she said quietly. I had been poised to kiss her, but I pulled away from her. We both disapparated after that awkward goodbye.
Sirius was waiting up for me when I got to Grimmauld Place. “It’s always nice to come home to a waiting wife,” I said good-naturedly. Sirius made a rather rude hand-gesture and told me to… well, go pleasure myself. “It was a joke Padfoot. Remember those? Laughter? Having fun?”
I smiled hoping he’d break out of his sullen mood. “I wish I could have gone,” he muttered while manhandling a particularly ugly pillow. It didn’t help that I laughed. “It’d be nice to get out. You can come and go as you please.”
“Sorry mate, I just imagined you sitting there pretending to date your cousin’s daughter. I thought they were slow warming up to me.” Sirius raised an eyebrow managing to smirk a bit himself.
“But you managed to charm them?” I nodded. “See, I told you! You are a good couple. Just don’t make any wedding arrangements till I’m cleared. Can’t have a—” I threw a pillow at Sirius.
“Oh stop it. She doesn’t see it like that. She only asked me to help the Order.” This was another phrase I repeated in my head on a frequent basis. It made the situation seem simpler than my feelings made it.
“She could have gone for a lot of guys. ‘Dung.” I scoffed. “Kingsley.” I raised an eyebrow. “Then there’s Bill. He would have worked perfectly, even if he is seeing that French gal.” I buried my head into a pillow. I did not need encouragement in this field. Thinking about Tonks… being with Tonks was a bad idea. It wasn’t an issue of compatibility or being attracted to her - it was a logistical problem.
I didn’t see Tonks for a few days. She was invited over to celebrate Hermione and Ron being named prefects. I was very proud of them, especially Hermione. Harry was a bit put off during the dinner. I didn’t want to say anything to him; it seemed to be one of those issues that would only be exacerbated by mentioning it. Harry traipsed up the stairs early into the festivities. I thought about following but decided against it. That is, until Moody nudged me and muttered, “trouble,” with his eye focused on a room above us.
Sirius and I made it up the stairs in a matter of moments. The sight that met my eyes made me age several years. It was Harry’s lifeless form on the floor…but Harry was also telling Molly to leave. It was a Boggart. I stepped in and captured the Boggart’s attention. With a crack it changed into the orb-like moon that always plagued me.
As I comforted Molly, I realized how incredibly self-centered my boggart was. It solely focused on my pain without giving a moment’s regard for the well-being of others. I had lost quite a few friends and risked losing my remaining friends with the second war… but yet, the only fear my feeble mind could wrap itself around was me and my condition. Before that point I never questioned my ‘no love’ rule. It was practical, kind of like muggle life insurance.
I started to think of my no love rule as selfish at best. Maybe I was incapable… perhaps all of the time I had been hiding behind my condition as an excuse not to extend myself to others in an intimate way. I was certainly capable of caring for others. I spent a good deal of my life caring. Loving was different. The faces of three loved ones floated through my mind that night. Two of them were tucked into their beds at Grimmauld Place. The third was one I kept trying to brush away. Perhaps a change in opinion regarding love was well overdue.