Chapter 6 : The Unexpected
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No one at work, aside from those in the Order, were privy to the name of my supposed love-interest. I was thankful when Dawlish decided to lay-off. I think Scrimgeour finally said something to him about his behavior. I noticed that he would stare avidly whenever he passed by, but the lewd remarks stopped.
Molly invited me (via Arthur) to dinner that Wednesday. It was nice to see everyone when I wasn’t upset, making up a spectacular lie, or otherwise distressed. Dinner was a merry event. I asked Harry a bit more about his broomstick. Fred and George were talking in covert whispers while sitting apart from the rest of us; I had a suspicion that it was something that would cause another yelling match between them and Molly. It appeared that the kids didn’t know about Remus and me. I wasn’t in a mood to tell them either. Hermione asked me what I do at work, and I explained that I pretend to hunt for Sirius. Then looking around I realized he wasn’t there.
“Where is Sirius?” I asked looking around. Harry’s face seemed to fall slightly then said that he was up with Buckbeak. Sirius came down 20 minutes late. He was trying to look cheery, but he looked touch manic. The rest of us chatted throughout dinner. I entertained Ginny and Hermione by changing my hair to different people’s hair. Even Ron laughed when I sprouted a long white beard.
Later on when the kids went to bed, Remus sat down next to me and handed me a cup of tea. I thanked him and took a sip. It was perfect. Molly excused herself and went off to bed, Arthur followed close behind her. “I think we should go over our story,” Remus said without any preamble. I had been contemplating this since Dad invited us over. We made up a list of things we should know, including where we met, things we like to do together. Sirius suggested we say shagging; Remus and I didn’t want to go with that one. I noticed Remus’ ears glowing red after that comment.
Remus and I were almost done with our list of information about ‘us’ when Sirius asked, “What about physical stuff?” I must have looked puzzled because he clarified, “Birthmarks, for one. Then snogging and what not. They’ll at least expect you to hold hands.”
“We’re not going to snog in their living room,” Remus said quickly. Sirius laughed loudly. He evidently found Remus’ reaction to this idea quite amusing. Sirius went up to bed leaving Remus and I there to hash out the ‘physical’ aspect of our deception.
“I agree with you about the snogging,” I said quietly. We were both huddled over the same parchment like two students reviewing for an exam. I glanced at Remus, seeing the worry lines on his face. “Thank you for doing this,” I said softly.
He looked at me and I felt like I could have fallen into his eyes. Our faces were mere inches apart when Molly came down the stairs in her bathrobe on. She let out a gasp of surprise. “Sorry, I thought everyone was in bed,” she said blushing slightly. “I left my book down here.” She grabbed it and left. Our gaze, broken after Molly came in, returned to the parchment.
“Some kissing, though nothing drastic, would be expected,” Remus said matter-of-factly. Then he added, “And you don’t have to thank me, I’m happy that I can help.” I smiled up at him while he took my hand and held it in his. Holding it tenderly he rubbed my hand with his thumb, and gave it a squeeze.
“Do you want to come back to my place tonight?” I said softly in his ear, desperately hoping he’d agree. Our eyes met and I saw the same desire in his eyes that was devouring my heart. I leaned in to kiss him and he didn’t try to stop me. His hand was soon resting against my face so that his fingers were on the back of my neck and his thumb caressed my cheek.
I couldn’t quite tell you how long we were kissing. Then with the abruptness of a strike of lightning, he pulled away. “I-- we can’t do this,” he said in a pained voice. “It’s fine that we’re ‘dating’,” he even did air-quotes, “But it’s not a good idea to really date. I’m—”
“You’re what?” I asked heatedly. “Too old? A werewolf? That doesn’t matter to me, Remus.” I felt crushed. I couldn’t understand why he was using age and his wolfishness as reasons for us not to be together. I decided that it must be me he didn’t like. I was quite sure of it. “I should go,” I said in a timid voice. I felt ashamed for raising my voice. I tapped the parchment and muttered, “Duplicus.” I walked out with the extra piece of parchment I made, my head bowed slightly.
I was severely distracted at work the next day. It seemed that Remus would only spend time with me on a ‘friend’ basis. Though his eyes kept telling me otherwise. I wanted to see him again before we went off to see my parents the next day. I sent him a memo. “Hall of Knowledge, after work, Friday.” There was a few hour gap between getting off work and seeing my parents. I knew he’d meet me there. He and I still hadn’t looked up books on securing locations. I thought making it unplotable was a tad extreme, but there had to be some practical solution to my Dawlish problem.
He sent back a note saying he’d be there. The prospect of seeing Remus in a setting where we could talk carried me through my long night on Duty. Moody came in to relieve me in the early morning. I went to change my clothes; I turned and told him not to watch, grinning slightly. Work went remarkably better that day. Scrimgeour even said he appreciated the upswing in my work. I smiled until he turned away when I considered blowing a raspberry behind his back.
I left 20 minutes early to get there first. I stopped by a bathroom to check my hair - it looked fine. Then I questioned myself as to why I was trying so hard to impress a man who wanted to be ‘just friends’. I hated that phrase. I marched into the Hall of Knowledge and ignored the clerk. He wanted a word but I wasn’t in the mood for more werewolf shagging jibes. I had returned all of the books but the one called Physiology and Procreation of Werewolves. It had useful diagrams.
Remus wandered in some 10 minutes later. He walked up to the clerk and asked if he had seen a young woman with bright pink hair. “Oh, the one with the book on shagging werewolves?” the clerk said loudly. “She’s over there.” I could have hexed the man’s ears off. Remus came over, a smirk playing on his face, and sat down. Judging by his lack of questions about my werewolf book, he didn’t know I overheard the idiot-clerk.
We went through quite a few books together. We didn’t find anything that struck me as feasible, though a few were quite amusing. We settled on some good jinxes and if all else failed, I’d stay with Remus. That made me secretly hope someone broke in at least twice a week. “Oh, and I’m coming over ever full-moon,” I said. It wasn’t a question, or a request. I had been thinking it over, and I abhorred the idea of Remus being alone during that time. “I’ll even bring food,” I said smiling. I gathered, mainly from my books, that raw steak is all he’d need while he was a wolf. Remus looked as if he had some objections but didn’t voice them. He agreed.
We apparated near my parent’s house and walked close together up to the house. Out of nerves, I straightened Remus’ collar and ran my hands down his sleeves, taking out the creases a bit. “How many guys have you brought home?” he asked an anxious look on his face.
“You’re the first,” I said taking his hand in mine. He smiled somewhat nervously. We walked up to the house. I took in a deep breath as I knocked on the door. Mum answered with a doll-like smile on her face; it was somewhat forced but still passable as nice. We sat down for tea. Dad and Remus talked about the Ministry. I chimed in when they mention something to do with the Auror’s office. I was quite content sitting next to Remus, our hands interlocked.
Mum got up a bit into our visit and said she had to check on dinner. “Would you like to help me, Nymphadora, dear?” I let go of Remus’ hand and gave his knee a quick squeeze before following Mum into the kitchen.
I stood behind the kitchen door listening to Dad tell Remus, “I haven’t seen Nymphadora look this happy in quite a long time.” To which Remus responded, “She’s the one that’s brightening up my life.”
I turned around to see Mom fussing over a salad. “What do you think?” I asked tentatively.
“I should add another tomato,” she said contemplatively. I rolled my eyes. “Oh, you mean about Remus?” I nodded. “He is nice, everything you said,” she said nicely. I had the feeling she was reserving her full judgment for later.
We sat down to dinner a bit later. Remus looked rather impressed by the spread. “The food looks wonderful,” he said appreciatively.
“You probably don’t get much in terms of cooking from ‘Dora,” Dad chuckled. I grinned while Mum looked ashamed of having a daughter that couldn’t cook.
“Actually,” Remus said with a slight smile, “Nymphadora makes a great bowl of oatmeal.” We all laughed, well, minus Mum. If there were a dementor that sucked out a person’s sense of humor, I would have suspected it to got to Mum. It was a bit strange for me to be in a group where everyone called me Nymphadora. I had to bite my tongue about that particular pet-peeve.
Dad took to Remus like a duck to water. Mum seemed to be resisting his quiet charm with difficulty. I wished that everything about that night were true. Remus and I dating him being introduced as my lover, but I pushed that thought to the back of my head. We left after dessert and walked a ways together before going to our respective flats.
“I think they like you,” I said happily. That seemed like a stupid thing to say, considering we weren’t really dating. I made a mental note to think, then talk.
Remus had his arm around me as we walked away from the house, and continued to do so when we were out of site from the house. “Your parents are really nice. I see where you get your household skills from,” Remus said, the corners of his mouth twitched. I laughed and said that I hoped he meant my Dad. We walked for a while around the neighborhood where I grew up. After a while, I said I should go home. Wanting to avoid another awkward ‘just friends’ moment, I disapparated home to Elton John. At least he loved me.
I saw Remus a few days later at Grimmauld Place. Molly set a big to-do for Ron and Hermione. They were both named prefects. As a reward for his prefect status, Ron received a new broomstick. He was raptly telling everyone and anyone about it. Molly gushed over Ron and Hermione. It really seemed to make her happier than I had seen in quite a while. Harry had a sulky look that night. He tried to be cheerful, but it wasn’t working. Sirius had the same look of false cheer at the party.
I was seated in between Moody and Kingsley. The three of us got into a conversation about Harry not being named prefect. Moody soon got up and was showing Harry something. It looked like a picture. Kingsley called over and to him asking see it. Moody thrust it at us while his magical eye followed Harry up the stairs. It rested at a spot upstairs. I wondered if it got stuck again. He muttered something about trouble and boggarts then rushed upstairs. Since Moody isn’t a quick rusher, Remus made it up the stairs first. Sirius was close behind him. I stayed down in the kitchen with the rest of the gang. Our conversations paused for a few moments then picked up in full speed. Ron was still going on about his broom.
Sirius, Moody and Remus came back downstairs after 10 or so minutes. Remus and Sirius looked pale; Moody seemed preoccupied too. I shot them a quizzical look, but Remus gave a small shake of his head, which told me ‘ask later’. I didn’t get a chance to ask him about it, but Moody filled me in later. Remus left to go to bed before I could talk to him about anything.
Going to King’s Cross the next day was quite an event. Moody was in charge of the luggage; Molly, Arthur, Remus and to my surprise Sirius walked the kids to the station. I joined them a short ways into their trip. I was on my guard; I knew we were vulnerable. Sirius was being a prat by running around and barking. Remus looked extremely aggravated, as did Molly. When we arrived at the station, I sighed with relief; then I saw the Malfoys and became tense. I looked from Lucius’ face to Sirius-the-dog and saw a gleam in his eye. He leaned over and whispered something to his son. I held back a dirty look. That man spoiled my aunt Narcissa against muggle-borns and muggles. According to Mum, she had been on the fence about the whole deal before she paired up with him.
Ron, Harry, Hermione, Ginny, and the twins were about to board the train. I was a bit down to see them go; they had been great to get to know over the summer. I hugged Ginny and Hermione and said my goodbye; then I waved to the guys. Sirius hugged Harry on his haunches. I was tempted to tell him to knock it off, but quite a few people were watching the rambunctious dog. Molly whispered a harsh admonition at him. He seemed to disregard it altogether. Remus was beside himself. After the train departed and parents started to leave, Remus grabbed Sirius by the scruff of his neck and started in on a whispered lecture while they left. I made a note to steer clear of Grimmauld Place that night. Molly and Arthur left together; they seemed a little punch-drunk. I imagine that their first night without the kids would be an exciting one. I turned and saw that Mad-Eye and I were the only ones from the Order still at the station.
“Do you want to do lunch?” I asked Moody. I was use to always being around people; I thought it’d be too much of a social shock to go from one extreme to another. Moody looked at me as if trying to decide if this was a cleverly disguised attack, or a genuine attempt to socialize. He concluded the latter and agreed.
As we were dressed as muggles, I thought it’d be nice to have a muggle favorite- take-out Chinese food. I ordered; Moody was a complete novice when it came to Chinese food. I suggested we take it back to my place; it was only a few blocks away. It was surprising how curious Moody was about the muggle world. He wasn’t outwardly inquisitive, but he always looked around, observing his surroundings. I noticed he would look me over every few minutes as if he were determined to memorize all of my features.
When I opened the door to my flat, I regretted bringing Moody there. It was a mess. I’m one of those people that takes their clothes off and they land where they land and remain there for a period. I took my wand out and waved it at my heap of clothes. They vanished into my closet. Then I realized that Moody could still see them if he wanted to. We sat down on my couch, using the coffee table instead of our laps. I turned on the WWN. There was a Public Service Announcement about eye-injuries.
“How did you lose your eye?” I blurted out. Moody stared at me appraisingly. Then he took a bite of his General Tso Chicken and grumbled that he lost it fighting a death eater some 14 years ago. He told me the story in great detail. He was out rounding up some death eaters and was caught in a duel with two of them. It turned out that Moody had a lot of battle stories; he talked all during lunch. I asked him questions about each battle and some of his prominent scars. He was very intriguing.
Moody seemed like an old war hero. He had earned all of his scars as testaments to his bravery. I put my hand on his leg and said, “You are really courageous.” I leaned in closer to Moody kissed him softly and I was surprised how responsive he was. He pulled me in to a deep, passionate kiss. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting things to go like that. Somehow, during my hours of passion with Moody, Remus kept creeping into my mind.
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