“Face it, Tonks.” Sirius said, finishing his dinner on the couch. “You’re not his type.”
“Oh yeah, and what exactly is his type?”
“Well,” he was pensive, “when we were in school, Remus totally went for the quiet, classy girls. Okay, he never actually went for them, he just kinda liked them from afar. But in comparison to what he’s into these days, you’re way off. You’re much too…”
“Yes?” Tonks asked, clearly irritated.
“Loud. And clumsy. Oh, and obnoxious.” He finished fearlessly.
“Look who’s talking! Mr. Obnoxious himself.” She snapped. “Besides, I think you’re wrong. By the way he acts, I think he DOES like me and I’m sure he’s interested in me.”
Sirius placed his fork and empty plate and on the coffee table and chuckled. “Maybe he’s interested in you as a friend, but he’s not interested in you in a physical way.” He winked. “I guarantee you.”
Tonks’ eyes narrowed. “And what is that supposed to mean?”
“It means,” Sirius took his time, examining his nails and picking away imaginary dirt, “the poor bastard’s got it bad for someone else.”
Tonks’ heart sank. “Who?” She whispered, bracing for news that her Remus was in love with another woman.
Sirius grinned. It was a toothy, arrogant, ‘I’m so proud of myself’ kind of grin. “Why yours truly of course.”
Much to Sirius’ irritation, Tonks suddenly exploded with laughter. She doubled over and pounded the floor, gasping for air. “Holy…shit! Y-you? Oh, that’s…that’s fucking rich! Ha ha…”
"Bloody hell!” Sirius hissed. “Would you keep it down? He’s in the next room!”
“Holy horny hippogriffs,” she gasped, still laughing, “what on earth makes you think he’s attracted to YOU?”
He glared at her, clearly annoyed that his allure was not obvious. “Look, maybe you don’t see it because we’re cousins, I’ll give you that. But, Remus and I go way back. He didn’t really have a lot of dates at school.”
“Because he secretly wanted YOU?”
“No!” He gasped. Then he reconsidered. “Well, maybe… probably actually... and we have been stuck under the same roof now for almost a year, and we live in such close quarters, poor bugger has seen enough of me to think about what he’s missing.”
Tonks cackled with glee, “Yeah, p-poor bugger!”
The look Sirius gave her was murderous. "Would you shut up? Do you want him to hear?" He hissed. "Look, Remus and I are good friends, and he probably doesn’t want to jeopardize that friendship, which is why he's kept his feelings for me quiet. Now I don’t swing that way, but I don’t blame him for falling for me. It happens sometimes.” He shrugged.
“So, let me get this straight.” Tonks replied, speaking very slowly and trying desperately not to laugh. “You think that you are SO fucking attractive that Remus would go gay for you?”
“Yeah.” Sirius said solemnly. “And there’s no need to make him feel bad about it either. Just because he’s not interested in you.”
“Sirius Black,” Tonks exclaimed, “you are the most arrogant, conceited, vain, idiotic jackass I have ever met! Remus likes GIRLS Sirius, and as irresistible as you might think you are, he is not attracted to you!”
“Oh yeah? Then why does he always shave when I’m in the shower? I’ll tell you why! Because he’s hoping to get a peek in, that’s why.”
Tonks giggled. “Sirius, really, would you listen to yourself?”
“When’s the last time he popped in while YOU were in the shower, hmm?” Challenged Sirius. “When’s the last time he patted YOUR ass?”
“HE PATTED YOUR ASS?” She gasped, her hand going over her mouth.
Sirius bit his lip and stared at Tonks smugly for a few seconds while she reeled in horror. But eventually, the truth won out and Sirius shrugged. “Well, no, he didn’t pat my ass. But he totally WANTS to!”
And at this Tonks was laughing her butt off again, this time clutching her stomach from the pain of it. “Oh, you’ve just given me the best laugh I’ve had all year! When Remus and I finally do get together, I am SO going to tell him about all of this!”
“I already told you he’s not interested in you.” He snapped.
“Oh yes he is!” She sang.
“Care to put your money where your mouth is, cuz?” He growled aggressively.
"Umm..." Tonks’ smile disappeared and she suddenly felt trapped. As kids, he had dared her to do some pretty awful and embarrassing things - one particularly humiliating Christmas came to mind. I'd better take this slow or I could end up with my naked ass in the snow again. "Well...what did you have in mind?"
Sirius’ eyes narrowed. “A way to prove that he is interested in me, and therefore has NO interest in you. A little, friendly wager." Tonks couldn't help but notice that there was nothing friendly about his tone. "Before midnight tonight, you have to get Remus to kiss you. I mean really, really kiss you. And if you can’t,” he smiled wickedly, “then I get to really, really kiss you.”
Tonks gasped. “But you’re my cousin! Sirius, we’re…RELATED!”
“Chicken?” He taunted. “Too scared to play with the big boys?”
“No...but…” She muttered uncertainly. When Sirius grinned triumphantly, Tonks was incensed. Fuck that, there's no way I'm caving when I can SO teach Sirius a lesson...oh, he's gonna regret this, she fumed as all common sense suddenly went out the floo. “Fine, I’ll take your stupid bet. And if I win, and I get Remus to really, really kiss me, then…then….you have to really, REALLY kiss Remus! So ha!”
Tonks laughed as Sirius visibly blanched and broke out in a sweat. She could tell he was suddenly having second thoughts - Sirius prided himself on being an irresistable ladies-man, and making him kiss Remus was the most wicked justice she could imagine. Ha! Was Sirius’ bottom lip trembling in fear?
And though she was proud that Sirius now looked adequately horrified, a tiny bit of guilt over what they planned to do to Remus began to creep in. He was an unwilling participant in their juvenile game. What if he found out? How would he feel? But now that the gun was loaded, neither one of the stubborn Black cousins could balk without losing face. Tonks steeled her courage and shook Sirius’ clammy hand. He grasped her hand tightly and jerked her dangerously close. Like a bear in a thorn bush, he was trapped and pretty pissed off.
“One more thing, cuz.” He hissed hotly. “I’m not taking your word for it. I have to see him kiss you,” he snorted, “or not kiss you, with my own eyes.”
Three hours later…
“What the hell is that?” Sirius snapped, gesturing to Tonks’ clothes. She was wearing an impossibly tight, low-cut black silk blouse and a trim lacy skirt that hugged her figure perfectly. The ensemble left little to the imagination, and was topped off by scandalously high heels that just screamed 'for sale: going cheap!'. Sirius' eyes narrowed.
“Just something I picked up in Diagon Alley. Did you get the invisibility cloak?”
“Yeah. Umm… listen, this isn't entirely fair…” He scowled, reeling at the sheer nerve of her outfit. She smiled and twirled, kicking up a leg behind her jovially.
“Concerned?” She fluttered her eyelashes innocently. “Thinking Remus can’t resist this?”
A damned CORPSE couldn’t resist this, he thought grimly. Sirius tore his eyes away from Tonks and forced himself to shrug as nonchalantly as possible. Still, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was totally and utterly screwed. Tonks had disappeared all evening, and judging by her clothes, she had obviously been out shopping for 'Remus bait’.
“He’s waiting for me in the kitchen. I told him I have something important to discuss.” Tonks said, leading Sirius towards the stairs. He followed obediently, both enjoying and hating the view of her saucy behind.
“Now I put a chair next to the door.” She said. “When we get downstairs I’ll hold open the door for you, and you slip in and sit right down and don’t move. And don’t you DARE let him know you’re there, because I know Remus, and there’s no way he’ll kiss me with you in the room, got it?”
Sirius nodded numbly as they started down the next flight of stairs. “It’s ten o’clock now. That gives me two hours to get it done. Now when you say “really” kiss you meant tongue, right?” She asked.
“Yeah.” He muttered. Whose stupid idea was this bet, anyways? He thought. Oh yeah, mine.
“Ok.” She took a deep breath like an athlete sizing up the course. “And how long does this kiss have to last?”
“A minute. Two minutes. Whatever.” Sirius grunted, knowing it probably wouldn’t take long to reel the poor, struggling bastard in.
“Shouldn’t be a problem.” She said coolly. Get in and get out, nice and easy Tonks, she reassured herself. You can do this baby. And if you don’t, she warned herself grimly, you have to snog Sirius. She took one look at his drooling expression and was suddenly feeling very motivated not to lose.
“Put the cloak on.” She instructed, and in a second Sirius had disappeared from view. “Let’s get this over with.” She pushed open the heavy door to the basement kitchen and felt Sirius walk through ahead of her. The chair creaked as he sat in it, and she coughed loudly to cover up the sound.
“Nymphadora.” Remus stood and smiled in surprise. “That outfit is very..." his voice squeaked, and he cleared his throat, "nice.”
“Thanks.” She said, suddenly flushing red. It had all felt so innocent but now that she was standing in the same room as Remus she felt like a total jerk. He was a good man, a wonderful man, and she had undeniably real feelings for him. How could she manipulate him like this, for a stupid bet? Her nerve instantly disappeared. How the hell am I going to get out of this one? She took a few steps back towards the door, intending to bolt, when she heard a tiny snicker from the corner. Suddenly she pictured Sirius, cocky and victorious and moving in to kiss her, and her stomach lurched.
No turning back now.
“What’s wrong?” Remus asked, his gaze penetrating. He stepped towards her. “You look tense.”
“I’m fine.” She whispered, looking anywhere but at him. He seemed puzzled but did not press the issue.
“I made us tea. Why don’t you have a seat and I’ll pour us some?” He gestured to the table, and she walked over stiffly and sat down. Remus chatted as he prepared her cup. “By any chance do you find the house warm today?”
“No.” She replied. “Why?”
“Well,” Remus chuckled behind her, “Sirius was walking around shirtless practically all evening. It struck me as quite odd, as the house feels rather cool actually.” Tonks was outraged. Why that arrogant, conceited jerk! Walking around the house all cocky and bare-chested, thinking he could skew the odds! Tonks glared at the chair that she knew Sirius was sitting in and rudely saluted. Suddenly, two hands popped out of the cloak, and Sirius saluted her back, double. Then he was totally invisible again.
"All done." Remus turned and Tonks quickly shook the indignant look off of her face. Remus placed two steaming cups on the table and slipped into the chair beside her. She muttered her thanks and took a sip.
“Whoa Remus. This isn’t your usual tea! What did you put in here?”
“A tiny drop of buttered rum. Do you like it?” He asked softly.
“I do.” She said, noticing the warm feeling that she was getting inside and understanding that a ‘tiny drop’ was all relative really. She began to drink faster, suddenly grateful for the liquid courage. Remus took a couple of sips of his own tea before he turned to face her.
“So, what did you want to talk about tonight?” He asked.
Oh god, he is so handsome. His warm grey eyes twinkled in the firelight, the way his messy hair fell across his forehead and that hint of a little-boy smile that touched his lips made her want to… why am I here again? Her heart fluttered. She took another chug of her tea.
After a few moments of peaceful silence, Remus spoke.
"Is everything okay?"
Tonks was surprised when Remus' large, male hand slid over her small delicate one. His skin, so calloused and rough and warm gave her instant goose bumps. “Nymphadora?” He whispered. “You really do look lovely tonight.” He was so close. She could feel the heat of his skin and she could barely breathe. Her body began to feel warm and tingly, and her breathing and pulse raced.
She was suddenly very self-conscious of Sirius sitting nearby.
"Is there anything I can do for you?" Remus murmured. "Anything at all?" His hand was stroking hers, ever so teasingly. Suddenly his face was a breath away from hers, and she saw something she recognized flash in his eyes. Desire. And she felt it too. But...
"No...I'm fine..." She lied, pulling away. ARGH! I just can't do this with damn Sirius watching! Whose stupid idea was this bet anyways?
"I'm sorry." Said Remus awkwardly. "I just thought... well maybe... you seemed like..."
"Seemed like what?" She asked.
"Well to be honest," he chuckled self-depreciatingly, "I thought you may have had more in mind than talking tonight."
"Really?" She squeaked guiltily.
"Yes." He finished off his tea and stared at her for what felt like forever. His eyes seemed to be drinking in every inch of her skin, every countour of her face, and it made her feel... special. "It's very difficult for me," he said, "seeing you all the time, your beautiful face, your incredible smile, your perfect heart. I spend a lot of time with you on my mind, imagining what it would be like to..." he trailed off and cleared his throat. "Well, I admit, I am often mistaken, but when there's a woman I cannot resist, not heaven nor earth can make me stop thinking about her, dreaming about her... dreaming about you..." and he was drawing nearer again, and his words left her heartswept and breathless.
Dreaming about me? Stupid, clumsy, obnoxious, loud and irritating ME? Oh Remus... she thought.
"I think about you that way too." She whispered. A small smile grazed his lips, and the tension between them was like electricity, like a magnet... like the deepest and most irresistable of addictions.
And suddenly she didn’t care that Sirius was watching…
the whole frigging Order could watch…
even Dumbledore and his pet chicken could watch….
just as long as he... as he...
“You are so, so beautiful… Nymphadora…” he whispered against her lips. And then his lips brushed hers, and she gasped at the warm sensation, the masculine feel of the stubble around his soft mouth, the scent of his warm, sweet, buttered-rum breath upon her face. And still he did not venture forwards.
Oh the sweet temptation...
Oh Merlin's beard...
No, Merlin's STAFF...
"Please Remus..." She breathed, needing his kiss more than she needed air. His strong arms came around her and he easily lifted her from her chair and sideways onto his lap. His fingers came up through the hair at the back of her head as the back of his other hand stroked her cheek, turning her face towards him. He looked deeply into her eyes and shook his head in wonder. She couldn't breathe. The inches between them felt like painful miles.
"Remus... I... want.." she breathed.
A gentle finger came over her mouth, stroking her bottom lip. "I know." He whispered. Then his eyes slid closed and he breathed deeply and she knew that it was finally coming. The kiss she was dying to have.
He brought her head down to his, her lips against his lips, and then he was indeed kissing her. His mouth was tender and needy on hers. Tonks lost track of all time as the kiss drew out their passion, their need, their hidden feelings. Seconds stretched into minutes, and Tonks forgot all about the bet, forgot all about Sirius, forgot all about the entire world outside of Remus and his magical kiss and his wonderfully knowing touch.
And then, without breaking their kiss, he lifted her up to the table and stood before her, now kissing her from above. She swooned, her toes curled and she heard her shoes fall to the floor, but she didn't care. The entire world moving to the beat of his heart and hers, and all her cares had gone flying out the floo. It was more than a kiss... it was... it was...
Remus has been to kissing school, her naughty mind sang as she let her hands do some walking. He moaned against her lips but... but.. NO!
She mewled in protest when his lips pulled away.
"Reeeeemusss... we were just getting to the good part..." She whined.
"Be good." He laughed and wagged an admonishing finger at her. It was adorable. Then he drew his arms around her and held her against him as if she were his very life. They breathed against each other until the madness had passed and the pleasure in their bodies was no more than a gentle hum.
“Nymphadora… are you alright?” He murmured in her ear.
“More than alright.” She smiled affectionately. "Happy."
“Good.” He smiled. He sank to the floor and gently placed her fallen heels back on her feet, and she giggled when he rose from the floor leaving sweet little kisses all the way up her calves. His eyes were alight with laugher as he left a playful kiss on the nape of her neck. After he was done straightening his collar, he effortlessly lifted her off the table and back to her feet. Once they were both returned (somewhat) to earth, Remus spoke.
“Now, I think…” he said, looking her in the eyes with an eyebrow raised, “this is where you say thank you.”
“Thank you.” She murmured obligingly. “But for what exactly?”
“For letting you win the bet.” He strolled across the room and pulled the cloak off of Sirius, who looked shocked and horrified, distinctly like a deer caught in the headlights.
Tonks gasped. Her eyes instantly filled up with tears. Surely Remus was angry... surely he realized that they had set him up, that this had been a game. But while it had started out as a game, now it was real. And now Remus probably hated her, not understanding that what she had felt, what they had just shared was special. “Oh God, Remus, I am so sorry…” She mumbled, painfully ashamed of herself. How could I have been so cruel?
But to her surprise, Remus was smiling. “Don’t be sorry.” He said. “I’ve been looking for a reason to do that for some time.”
Then he turned back to his horrified best friend and spoke as if to a small child. “Now Sirius, before I take this incredible woman upstairs and continue what we've started in private, I need to ask you to do three things for me.”
Sirius nodded slowly. The shock of what he had just witnessed was etched all over his face. Tonks also imagined that Sirius was quite relieved that Remus wasn’t going to murder him outright.
“Firstly,” Remus said genially, “thank Harry for leaving behind his very useful extendable ears. Secondly, never, ever forget that I know you well enough to be able to resist your ‘masculine allure’.” Tonks laughed at this. Sirius cringed. “Lastly,” Remus smiled, “keep tomorrow night free. I believe I owe you a kiss.”