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When she was jerked into consciousness, it took a few moments for Tonks to work out where she was and it wasn’t just the hangover. This big old bed was like her own but it felt different… more comfortable. She buried her face in the pillow. It smelt comfortable. Then she realised where she was, and whom it smelt of.
While it was the first time Tonks had fallen asleep with Lupin and woken up alone, it certainly wouldn’t be the last time.
When she finally made her way down to the kitchen for a cup of tea, she found Molly Weasley slicing potatoes at the kitchen table.
“Good afternoon, Tonks, dear!” she said, too brightly for Tonks’ sore head.
Tonks was used to Molly’s presence every now and again at Grimmauld Place, even outside of the Order meetings. Molly was usually accompanied by ironed laundry and some form of fresh fruit or veg. It was almost as though she didn’t trust three adults to take care of themselves.
“Yes, afternoon. Did you have a late night? I saw Remus is asleep in the lounge. I didn’t want to wake him, poor soul.”
“Lupin’s in the living room?”
“Yes, asleep on the sofa. Now, I’m making you some stew for tonight and I’ve left you some bread in the cupboard and some milk in the fridge. Do you think there’s be anything else you’ll need?”
“Hu?” She hadn’t been listening. She had been thinking. She’d thought how sweet it was that Remus had gone to sleep on the sofa. He was such a gentleman! Then she thought how she had fallen asleep in his bed. Was he annoyed? Had she overstepped? Why had she enjoyed being with him quite so much? He must be getting annoyed by her silly flirting. Why did she –
“Would you like me to prepare anything else for you?”
“Oh!” Tonks grinned. “Why do you bring us so much food, Molly?”
Lupin stepped in the room, an action that filled Tonks with something absurdly close to excitement. “Because she doesn’t trust my cooking.”
Molly giggled. “Remus, dear, of course I do.” She slung the potatoes into the pot next to her. “But you’re all far too busy to worry about cooking.”
Remus looked over at her and Tonks realised she had been staring. She smiled heartily. “I don’t think anyone could complain about your cooking when they’ve tasted Kreacher’s!”
“Oh, Tonks, before I forget your Mother sent me a letter to give to you. She said it was very important. I put it over by the kettle.”
Tonks moved around the work surface and found a lavishly decorated envelope bearing her name.
Miss Dora Tonks
“What is it darling?” Molly asked. “I’m not sure why she didn’t just owl it to you.”
“Oh dear, oh dear.”
“A Howler?” Lupin suggested.
“Don’t be silly, I wouldn’t deliver a Howler.”
“It’s not a Howler.” Tonks felt a hollow dread in the pit of her stomach. “It’s an invitation, a Tonks family party invitation.”
“You’d think it was a deathday invite,” Lupin laughed.
“It’s worse, trust me. She wanted witnesses I think.”
“So I couldn’t just ignore it.”
“What could be wrong with a family party?” Molly almost sounded aggressive.
“I’ll show you,” Tonks ripped open the envelope and strode back to the table. “There.” She pointed at the square invite inside. “Nymphadora Tonks plus one.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“There is no plus one!” Tonks felt she was bordering on hysteria and so sat down.
“Tonks, surely you can go to the party without someone else, or just miss it!”
“Oh, attendance isn’t optional to a Tonks family party, but if I go alone they’ll all be there muttering behind their hands about that oddball who still can’t tie down a man… still no plus one… what a freak… bloody Muggles.”
“Aren’t these people your family?”
“You think that means they can’t be evil? Look at mum’s side!”
“Well, take a friend then!” Molly laughed. “Really, I don’t think it is such a big problem.”
“I don’t have any friends! Well, definitely no male friends I could pass of as a ‘plus one’.”
“What about Remus?”
The question seemed to echo through Tonks’ mind. “Yeah…” she said with a grin spreading across her face. “Yeah! Remus!”
She stood up and span to face him. He looked oddly like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
“Remus! You’ll come with me to the party, right?”
“I…” he cleared his throat, “well, I don’t know if that would be… possible…”
“Aw, come on!” She jumped next to him and stroked his arm as if he were a cat. “We don’t have to go there for long – just show our faces! It’s next weekend.”
“I’m afraid I – ”
“I know you’re free.”
Lupin looked stumped for a second then said, “well, they wouldn’t want a werewolf as a – ”
“They’re Dad’s side, they’re all Muggles, Remus! They won’t know you’re what you are.”
Lupin opened his mouth to protest then sighed. “You don’t want me to go with you…”
“Yes, I do!”
“I think,” Molly interjected with her wand hand controlling the chopping of carrots and her left stirring the stew, “Remus is upset you didn’t think of him immediately.”
Tonks looked up at Lupin who’s jaw had tightened. “I’m not, Molly, because that would be silly.” He folded his arms.
“Aw!” She wrapped her arms around his folded arms. “I’m sorry, sweetie! I really, really want you there!”
When you hug a person, they usually relax after a moment. Lupin did not. So she let him go.
“Go on, Remus,” Molly prompted. “It sounds like fun!”
Tonks shook her head at Lupin but grinned.
Lupin pulled a hand through his hair - a thing he did when stressed. “Fine.”
“Yey!” Tonks clapped her hands. “You’re not going to regret this.”
He didn’t look so sure. “I’m not dancing.”
“Don’t be a spoilsport,” Molly said.
“I am not a dancer.”
Tonks poked him and laughed. “We’ll see.”
“This is too small,” Lupin tugged at the lapels of his jacket. “I should have worn my own suit, not Arthur’s.”
“What? You’ve got to admit even Arthur’s is smarter than yours.” Tonks stood and straightened his tie. “You look cute. Don’t worry!”
“Cute? I was aiming for manly.”
Tonks giggled. He’s in a good mood. Good, he’ll need it.
They were stood at the foot of a long driveway that led up to a house that seemed simply too large to inhabit this side of London. On the front lawn stood a huge marquee and though it was still early in the afternoon, it was thronging with guests. Talking of whom…
Tonks span around and saw her parents approaching. They must have been waiting.
“Darling!” her father gave a bone crushing hug.
“Hello Dad, Mum.”
“Hello, dear,” her Mum said. “Glad you could come!”
“That makes one of us,” she muttered, disengaging herself from Ted Tonks’ grasp. “This is Remus, Remus Lupin.”
“Ah!” Ted grasped the poor man’s hand. “So this is the ‘Remus’ we’ve been hearing so much about!”
“It’s good to meet you, Sir,” Lupin said with excruciating politeness.
“Dad,” Tonks whined, putting a hand to her forehead. “Don’t. I have not been – ”
“Oh, she has!” Ted winked at Lupin who looked rather taken aback. “It’s ‘Remus, this’ and ‘Remus, that’…’
“It is not,” Tonks said.
“It is rather,” Andromeda smiled.
Tonks hissed air through her teeth. Maybe inviting Lupin wasn’t such a good idea after all. She needed to separate her father from him, right now.
“Oh, look Dad! It’s Lisa and Danny! I haven’t seen them since their wedding!” She grasped his arm. “Let’s go.”
“What’s wrong sweetheart?” Ted asked as Tonks marched him across the lawn. “Was I embarrassing you?” He smirked.
“No! You were scaring Remus, is all.”
“He wasn’t scared. He’s a grown man; he can take it. Actually he is a bit old for you, Dora. Oh, there’s Bob!’”
“He’s not my boyfriend, Daddy.”
“I didn’t think he was.” Ted gave her a meaningful glance, then turned away. “Bob!”
As her father walked away, Tonks shook her head slowly. She turned around and found that Lupin had already been swept away by her mother to meet the family. Oh well, she mused, at least she’s the least likely to share any potentially damaging childhood stories… And so she went to greet her cousin, Danny, and his wife.
Tonks always found the strangest thing about these events were how removed they were from her every day life. These were Muggles. They had Muggle jobs, like Bob the investment banker or Danny the lawyer. When Lisa talked to her about the workplace politics of her beauty saloon, she couldn’t exactly say, “oh yeah, I get that all the time in my job as a dark-wizard catcher.”
And there’s only so much she can pretend to know about the latest episode of whatever ‘television programme’ is gripping the Muggle world at the moment. Sometimes she just wanted to grab someone by the shoulders and yell at them, “for Merlin’s sake! You-Know-Who could kill you all!”
But she refrained for the sake of polite small talk. Luckily, Danny and Lisa spent most the afternoon gossiping about the rest of the family, which Tonks found easy to nod in the right places and give suitably condescending looks to those around them. That was until the topic moved to her.
Danny began with the ominous sounding, “So,” then “who’s this man you brought with you? Because I’ve looked carefully and decided he’s not Mark.”
“No, definitely not Mark,” Lisa chipped in. “Mark is shorter.”
“Mark is gone,” Tonks nodded. “Never to return, or so I was led to believe.”
“Aw,” Lisa patted her on the shoulder. “What happened?”
Tonks shrugged. Mark felt like a lifetime ago now. “I don’t know really. I wasn’t home long enough to find out.”
“I see. Well, I never liked him anyway.”
“Yes, Mark was a toss-pot.”
Tonks laughed dryly.
“So who is he?” Lisa pressed, indicating her head towards where Lupin was sitting uncomfortably between two elderly female relatives. “And where the hell did you pick him up?”
Tonks smiled fondly as Lupin shrinked away from Aunt Edna who seemed to want to darn his fraying jacket. “He’s a friend from work. He’s just doing me a favour, not a boyfriend.”
“He hasn’t slept with you yet, then.”
“Daniel!” Lisa snapped. “Don’t be so rude.”
“I was making a shrewd observation!” Danny said as Tonks snorted on her drink.
“Wow,” Danny smirked. “I can’t believe you have the hots for a thirty-something year old.”
“The hots?” Tonks could feel herself blushing. Stupid Muggles, what do they know? “I don’t have the hots for him! No one said that.”
“Oh ohh,” Lisa whistled.
“You’re in love with him, aren’t you?” Danny shook his head.
“What? Oh, shut up you two!” Tonks folded her arms. “Just because you’ve been married for one year does not mean you are holders of all relationship wisdom.”
“Someone’s feeling tetchy,” Lisa commented.
“Sensitive subject?” Danny suggested.
Tonks stared at them for a moment, then burst out, “I’m not bloody in love with him!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes! I like him as a friend! I think he’s sweet and funny and interesting and…”
“You’ve thought about him naked…”
“I have not!” Tonks lied.
“Sorry, but that sounds like a declarations of love to me!”
“But,” Tonks tried desperately to regain control of the conversation, “that is all. I do not think of him in that way.”
“Alright, it’s not us you need to convince. It’s yourself.”
Really, Tonks thought, slumping into a chair that was mostly obscured from anyone else, mingling is arguably more exhausting than searching for the Dark Lord. For someone who could change her appearance completely, she just really hated pretending to be someone else.
Today she was Dora, the slightly odd but otherwise not suspicious daughter of Ted.
The evening had sunk around them and lights had begun to burn all around the marquee. The band were playing, not really loud enough in Tonks’ opinion, and the more drunk of the crowd had begun to dance – much to the general distaste of teenage relatives.
Tonks sat behind a decorational cupid statue. She just really couldn’t cope with “oh, Dora! It’s been too long!” any more. Perhaps she could grab Remus and they could run away. Right then, however, her ears were caught by the conversation of the two behind her.
“Did you see the man Dora brought with her?” one woman said incredulously. It was Stacey, a distant cousin.
“Dora?” her sister, Amy, replied.
“Oh yeah, the one with the hair?”
“Yes, well, her man, oh my gosh.”
“Yeah, I saw! He looks about forty!”
“Yeah, apparently they’re together – weird, right?”
“His hair is greying. That’s pretty gross. I wonder what he does. By the looks of his clothes, she’s not in it for the money!’ They both cackled.
Tonks felt her blood boiling and in her pocket her hand closed around her wand. She could kill them. One spell was all it would take.
“I suppose Dora’s never been a high reacher,” Amy said. “I remember we used to think she was a lesbian.”
“It’s weird that she keeps coming to these things. I just think cos we never see her anyway. It’s awkward, isn’t it? What do you have to say to her? Apart from pretend you like her new hairstyle.”
Tonks suddenly couldn’t remember why they’d stayed so long at the party. She’s only intended to show her face anyway. She was going. She got loudly to her feet.
“Hi guys!” she said to her shocked cousins. “Great to see you too!” Then she walked away before they could reply, adding, “bitches,” under her breath. She spied Remus chatting with her dad and a group of uncles and make a beeline towards him.
“Poppet!” Ted cried as she approached. “Remus here was just telling us about his job at the council!” He gave her a sorely obvious wink. “Now, how is it you don’t have a drink?”
“I’m afraid we have to go,” Tonks said forcefully and took Lupin’s arm. He looked down at her with concern and she felt a rush of affection for him. “I just got a call from Remus’ boss at the council to say he has to work tomorrow. We’d better head off.”
“It’s been great meeting you,” Lupin held his hand out and it was immediately shaken by every man in the vicinity. Several pats on the back were administered also and by the time they finally made it out of the party Tonks felt fairly certain Remus had made a pretty good overall impression upon her relatives… and yet –
They walked in silence for a while. They didn’t Apparate as they weren’t so far from Grimmauld Place. They’d just have to cut through the park.
“Are you alright?” Lupin asked at last.
“Huh?” Tonks had been miles away. “Oh! Yeah. Did you have fun then?”
“Everyone was very friendly.”
“Hm…” Tonks bit the corner of her nail.
“Your mother looks incredibly similar – ”
“To her sister. Yeah, I know.”
“That seems to be about as far as the resemblance goes.”
“Thank god. A Black family reunion – now that would be interesting,” she said darkly. “I saw you danced with Lisa.”
Lupin grinned. “Is that what’s bothering you, Dora?”
“Is it envy?”
Tonks shoved him in the ribs. “I’m not a teenager!” Lupin smiled at her and she shrugged. “Alright, just a little bit. But only because absolutely no one would ask me to dance!”
Lupin tapped the lock on the park gate with his wand and it swung open. It was very dark, just one path running through the eerie willow trees. They set off, the sound of their feet the only thing breaking the nights silence. “They would probably be intimidated,” he said.
“Oh yeah? Cos I’m so big and scary looking?”
“By your beauty.”
Tonks raised an eyebrow. “Have you been drinking?”
“You looked like you needed cheering up,” Lupin explained. “And yes, a little bit.”
Tonks laughed. “Thank you, but I’m fine.”
They were silent for second then Tonks said, “Do you like my hair like this?”
“Of course,” Lupin replied.
“You didn’t even look.”
Lupin looked at her with a frown. “What’s wrong? You always look lovely. Your hair is nice. Interesting.”
Tonks winced. “Interesting?”
“The more interesting the better in my book,” Lupin said with a smile. “Is that what’s bothering you?”
“Nothing is bothering me!”
Lupin didn’t look as if he believed her. “You suit green. I think your hair makes – ”
“It’s not my hair, alright?”
“What is it then?”
Tonks didn’t reply.
“Would it help then if I asked you to dance?”
“It’s a little late for that.”
Lupin stopped walking and held out his hand towards her through the darkness. “Nymphadora Tonks, may I have this dance?”
Tonks groaned. “You’re so lame.”
“’Lame’? I thought you said you weren’t a teenager.”
“And I thought you weren’t a dancer.”
Tonks looked around as though expecting someone to see them in this empty, pitch-black park. Then she took his hand and said, “Don’t call me that.”
“You could just say ‘yes’.” Lupin smiled, drawing her towards him.
“Yes.” She giggled as Lupin span her around in some sort of strange waltz to the music that wasn’t playing. He dipped her low and Tonks’ chest fluttered - how nice to have him hold her. “We should have stayed!” Tonks laughed. “We could have ripped it up on the dance floor.”
“Oh, yes.” Lupin span her again. “I am regularly accustomed to doing that.”
Tonks snorted. “You’re so funny!”
“Thank you.” He dipped her low again. “I think.”
When he drew her back up, Tonks lost her balance. Obviously the temporary gracefulness was too good to last. Fortunately Lupin caught her. They were suddenly very close, her body pressed against his. Tonks wondered if he would kiss her, but he didn’t. Lupin carefully took her hand again and placed his other on her hip. It felt comfy there. Tonks leaned against his chest and sighed.
He moved her slowly, his arms holding her up ever so slightly as though he was afraid she would fall again. “Are you sure you’re alright?” he asked. “I know you didn’t want to come to this party.”
Tonks wasn’t even thinking about the party anymore. She nodded against his chest and answered, “I’m just glad you came with me.”
Extract of next update:
“What is it?” He was dying to get out of the house. It’d been a fortnight since his last Order-related mission.
“It’s Molly’s birthday.”
“Next weekend. Now, she doesn’t like a fuss made over her, but I thought it would be nice if we got her something – “
“Hold on,” Lupin interjected, “this isn’t anything Order related then?”
“Well, yes, she is part of the Order! But no, not anything related to the destruction of You-Know-Who. Unless he has a mortal phobia of birthday presents that we were unaware of.”
Lupin shook his head in bemusement. Trust Tonks to take someone’s birthday more seriously than she ever did anything else. “Alright, so how do you need my help?”