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Chapter 1 : Despite It All
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“Shut up...” grumbled Remus. “And it’s not a date. It’s a...” he thought about it for a moment. “A maybe-more-than-friends,” he decided eventually.
The mirror chuckled.
“Oh please,” it sighed. “That girl thinks the world of you. It’s only thanks to your usual social ineptitude that it’s taken this long for you two to get together at all!”
“Thanks for the encouragement...” muttered Remus, fiddling with the frayed cuff of his dress robes.
“Oh you’ll be alright.” The mirror was unsympathetic. “And stop messing about with your cuffs. You look fine. Apart from the fact that from the look on your face, the firing squad should be arriving in about ten minutes, but you can work on that.”
Remus dropped his cuff. “And when did I ask your opinion?” he muttered crossly.
“I’m a mirror, dear,” the battered object replied, “It’s what I do; I tell you how you look. And far more effectively than those ridiculous Muggle ones, if I may say so.”
Remus sat down on his bed, and fished underneath it for his nicer shoes. They were about twenty years out of fashion, and had been re-heeled more times than Harry Potter had said Expelliarmus, but Remus liked them, and they matched his robes. He hoped she wouldn’t care.
“Where are you taking her anyway?”
This mirror was getting cheeky, Remus thought. The last year or two it had taken a rather irritating interest in his love life, as if Remus didn’t have enough to worry about these days.
“The Leaky Cauldron.” He said grudgingly.
“Ooh, classy.” Sniggered the mirror.
“Oh be quiet, you,” snapped Remus. “It’s cosy, it’s familiar, it’s local, we’ll fit in nice and easily, and I’ve been there before with her so I know she likes it.” He said firmly. Of that he was sure.
“Well I hope it goes well then,” said the mirror more sincerely. “Goodness knows you need to get out more often.”
“Thanks,” muttered the werewolf sarcastically. “I’ll see you later.”
Determinedly, Remus tugged his shoes over his threadbare socks and set off out the door, swinging his long, patched travelling cloak over his shoulder. The door slammed firmly shut behind him.
Maybe I do need to get out more, thought Remus as he headed down the stairs of his dingy building. When the most intelligent conversation I’ve had all evening is with my mirror.
Briefly, he plunged his hand into his pocket to find his watch, in order to check that he was on time. It was five to eight. Perfect.
Stuffing the watch back into his pocket, Remus experienced a sudden, unpleasant jolt to the stomach. Anxiously, he checked again, pulling out the contents of the pocket- watch, wallet, apparition license... where was his wand?
In desperation, he ran over his other pocket, hoping he might have missed something, but it was hopeless. In fact, now he thought about it, he could see exactly where he’d left it- on his bedside table where he’d used it to summon his dress robes...
Damn. Remus checked his watch again, finding to his dismay that a whole minute had passed whilst he’d been madly searching for the wand. Wasting no time, he raced back upstairs to his door, before realising with alarm, that without the wand there was no way he would be able to unlock it.
Remus hit his head against the door in frustration. Without his wand he couldn’t apparate, he couldn’t get in Diagon Alley, couldn’t even call the Knight Bus to get him where he needed to go. And now he was going to be late, and it was going to look like he’d stood her up, and she was going to be angry and... He couldn’t get any further. And it was all down to his own foolishness.
Knowing it was pointless, he banged on his own door a couple of times but of course nothing happened, except now his knuckles were hurting too- Oh how could he have been so thick?
Miserably, he checked his watch again. The little golden hands pointed firmly, tauntingly to eight o’ clock. She ought to be there by now. And she would be waiting.
Desperately, Remus tried to think rationally. There must be some way he could get there. Some kind of transport that didn’t need a wand. Muggle transport? Wildly, he checked his wallet, only to be disappointed again by the glinting sickles and knuts within. No Muggle money. The Floo Network then? But that too was hopeless. His jar of Floo powder was safely installed above his fireplace- inside the flat. And as far as he knew, he was the only wizard living in the building.
Remus groaned frustrated. There had to be something...
And then it came.
When he had moved in, his new neighbours had appeared rather taken aback to find him carrying in a large, tatty broomstick. When pressed to explain, Remus had wildly claimed that he’d found it in the cleaning cupboard on the ground floor, and borrowed it to sweep out his new flat which was rather dusty. This, unfortunately, had meant that he had had to put it back in the cleaning cupboard, or risk the disapproval of his neighbours before he’d even properly starting living there. He had meant to come and remove it later, but, being Remus, he had not quite got round to it, as his head had been filled with more pressing concerns.
With a sudden jolt of relief, he realised that- fingers crossed- the broom would still be in the cleaning cupboard, unless some unknowing neighbour had taken it upon themselves to sweep out their home with his Cleansweep Three.
They hadn’t. The broom was where he had left it, leaning against a shelf of detergents. Remus grabbed it and exited the building hastily. He had somewhere to be.
Twenty minutes later, the werewolf arrived, red-faced and breathless, in the backyard of the Leaky Cauldron. The ride hadn’t been as exhilarating as he’d hoped- the broom had grown temperamental from lack of use, and his technique had become a little rusty since his Hogwarts days. Plus, he’d had to be careful- getting caught by Muggle cameras would not look good on his record, and considering the current climate, staying away from the Ministry was a priority for those in the Order.
Still, the important thing was that he’d made it- twenty-five minutes late, but he was there. Stowing his broom in the yard, he hurried into the grimy pub.
Tonks was sitting alone in a dark corner, toying with an olive in her gillywater. He hurried over to her, and was gratified to see her face light up as he came into view.
“Tonks!” He smiled, her easy presence already taking a weight off his shoulders. “I’m sorry I’m so late- my wand... I left it in my flat and then...”
Shaking her head, she took his hand gently. “It’s okay.” She said brightly. “You’re here now!”
They sat down and Remus had the chance to take her in properly.
“You look beautiful,” he said, sounding shy.
Tonks laughed a little nervously. “Thanks...” she said.
It was true. Remus felt embarrassed by his threadbare robes and patched travelling cloak- both many years out of fashion when sat next to Tonks, with her brightly coloured dress, and her hair made dark and tied up out of her face.
He shrugged off his cloak, and- remembering his mirror’s advice from the earlier that evening- tried not to look awkward.
“Do you want a drink?” He asked awkwardly.
Tonks drained the last of her gillywater.
“I’d love one.” She said. “A firewhisky, maybe?”
Remus grinned. “I’ll get two.” He said.
Sipping their drinks, Remus found the conversation easier than he’d expected. After a few initial non-starters, the pair found common ground discussing the Order. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the most romantic subject they could have chosen, but at least they were talking. And she seemed happy. At least he thought so; it could be difficult to tell with girls. She looked happy at any rate.
Remus glanced about the pub. This was much easier than he’d expected. And he’d been so right to choose the Leaky Cauldron with its comfortable, familiar interior and its crowd of gently chatting regulars. Tom, the barman, stood reflectively at the bar, wiping an old beer glass down and exchanging a joke with a woman in blue cloak... Ohhhh God.
“What’s up?” asked Tonks softly, having noticed the direction of Remus’ gaze. Remus tried to contain his excitement.
“That’s Mariella MacDougal!” replied Remus agitatedly, fighting to keep his voice low.
“And who’s Mariella MacDougal?” asked Tonks blankly, following Remus’ gaze to the modest blue cloaked figure at the bar.
“She’s only one of the greatest werewolf rights activists of our age!” whispered Remus. “The campaigning of that woman has improved the lives of hundreds- maybe thousands of werewolves in our society today!”
“Really?” Tonks did sound interested. “What’s she done?”
Remus put down his drink, gesticulating excitedly and trying not to stare too obviously over at the figure.
“Well for starters she’s the founder of the WRF- that’s the Werewolf Rights Foundation. It’s thanks to her that the Werewolf Education act got passed at all, back in the sixties. Without it I’d not have been able to go to Hogwarts.” Remus paused, looking reflective before continuing. “Plus she’s done all sorts of good work at the Ministry. Tirelessly championed Rachel Harrogate as the first part werewolf member of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement...”
“Busy lady,” grinned Tonks, with only a hint of sarcasm.
“Yeah...” agreed Remus, completely missing it and continuing to glance with agitation over his shoulder. “I say, would you mind terribly if I went over...? I just never thought I’d have this chance... And she’s done so much for my kind.”
Remus was pleased to see Tonks not looking too annoyed.
“That’s fine.” She said easily, so he scooted out of his chair and ambled across to the bar, trying to look casual.
Left alone at the table, Tonks sipped her Firewhisky and watched Remus approach Mariella MacDougal. She was grimly pleased to note the witch’s grey hair and lined face, but not so happy to see how easily the two fell to talking.
Stop being ridiculous, said the rational part of her mind. He’s on a date with you. Not some random werewolf woman.
Not quite a date, said the irrational part. Kind of a... maybe-more-than-friends.
It was during this uneasy five minutes that Tonks first noticed it. Her bag was... smoking.
Tentatively, and hoping that nobody had noticed the strange purple substance currently emanating from her handbag, she prodded it gently, hoping the smoke would cease. It didn’t. Beginning to worry, she flipped open the catch, and was about to peer inside when Remus suddenly appeared back at their table, looking rather flustered.
“You don’t happen to have a pen do you?” he asked hurriedly. “I don’t seem to have one on me...”
“You’re getting her autograph?” Tonks replied blankly. Remus looked embarrassed.
“I’m sorry,” he said, looking worried. “It’s just that I’ve always wanted to meet her and now-“ He paused looking confused. “Tonks, is your bag smoking?”
“No.” She replied too quickly, shoving the offending item under the table. “Don’t think I do have a pen- sorry!”
“I think it is...” persisted Remus. “Look at it. That is definitely smoke.”
“Oh, it’ll be fine!” she replied carelessly, giving the bag a hefty kick with her boot. Unfortunately, this only seemed to intensify the smoke, which was now beginning to drift out from underneath the table.
“What have you got in there, Tonks?” asked Remus incredulously, looking up at her.
“If I knew, don’t you think I’d be stopping it?” she found herself snapping, looking nervous.
Remus frowned. The smoke drifted along the pub’s wooden floorboards. The couple at the next table looked round curiously and Remus gave what he hoped was a reassuring smile, but which his mirror could have told him was more of a frightened grimace.
“Let’s have a look,” he suggested, and knelt down, groping underneath the table to where Tonks’ bag was now entirely enveloped in fog. He pulled it out from underneath the table- it was definitely the source of the smoke. The mist seemed thicker there, and as Remus fumbled with the clasp, a worryingly large cloud was released from inside it.
People had started to notice them- a few were staring. The couple at the next table along were surreptitiously edging their chairs away, and eying Tonks and Remus with some suspicion. Mariella MacDougal was coughing and fanning her face and behind her, Tom the barman was looking alarmed.
Trying not to panic, Tonks emptied the contents of her bag onto her vacated chair and Remus watched a colourful variety of objects cascade onto the wooden chair, but alas nothing that seemed likely to be causing the fumes.
A sudden tap on his shoulder made him jump as turned round to see Tom frowning at him.
“I’m assuming the smoke is accidental?” he asked somewhat sceptically, in his steady, London tones. Remus felt embarrassed, unsure what to say. All he’d wanted was a nice, quiet evening out with Tonks- was that too much to ask?
“I’m sorry,” Tonks was saying, waving her hands about demonstratively amid the knee-high smoke, “I don’t know what’s happening. It just started coming out of my handbag... No idea what could be causing it!”
A sudden thought flashed through Remus’ brain.
“Tonks...” he said slowly, “You haven’t visited the Burrow recently, have you?”
“What?” She stared at him in confusion. “Yeah, I went to see Molly just before I came to meet you here- why?”
“I think perhaps you ought to leave,” interrupted Tom, firmly pressing the fallen objects from Tonks’ bag back into her hands.
“Oh no- I’m sure we can get it to stop!” She protested, distracted from Remus.
“To be honest, Miss Tonks, I think it would just be easier if you went.” Tom replied flatly, beginning to press the flustered pair towards the door, Tonks still frantically stuffing pens back into her bag.
Behind them, the scene was growing gradually more chaotic as levels of the smoke increased. Almost everybody was standing up and wildly attempting to waft it away from them. Some of the more astute customers had their wands out, but their Vanishing Spells appeared to be having little effect, in fact Remus was sure they were merely thickening the fog. A number of chairs had been pushed over in people’s efforts to escape from it, and an old table set in one corner was creaking alarmingly under the weight of a number of middle-aged witches sitting and standing haphazardly upon it.
As Tom guided them firmly towards the exit, Remus made one last-ditch attempt to save their date. Tom was unimpressed.
“You have turned my pub purple,” he said gravely. “I think until you’ve stopped it, you had better stay away.”
The door of the Leaky Cauldron slammed shut behind them. Outside, the autumn air was chilly, and Remus shivered despite his thick travelling cloak. He turned anxiously to Tonks, whose hair was falling down and whose handbag was still producing copious amounts of the purple smoke. He thought she looked funny, and bemused, and indignant, and somewhere in between all that, hopelessly beautiful.
He opened his mouth to tell her, but instead what came out was: “Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.” He said again, feeling tired. “In your bag. I reckon Fred or George must’ve slipped something in there, or- or put on a charm on it while you were enjoying Molly’s tea.”
“Ahh...” A look of comprehension dawned on Tonks’ face. “It all makes sense!” she declared dramatically. Remus nodded.
“Purple smoke would be just their style too,” he mused. “A little like the famous swamp of their seventh year.”
Tonks grinned. “Yeah,” she agreed.
Suddenly, surprisingly, her laughter rang out, bright and undaunted across the cobbles. “You’ve got to hand it to those two,” she admitted, “They’ve got talent.”
Remus found himself smiling, “Oh yes,” he agreed, “I think they’d have been very proud to witness that scene in there.” He could just imagine the twins, the identical expressions of humour and delight on their faces.
And suddenly, he could see the funny side too, he could see the plain ridiculousness of it all, of him and her, standing in the middle of the road in Muggle London, with only one wand between them, no way back into Diagon Alley and a handbag still trailing purple smoke.
“Oh God, look at us!”
And this time, when Tonks laughed, he laughed with her, and let the sharp, unexpected sound blossom over the cold cobbles as they stood, clutching each other and their cloaks and revelling in the ridiculousness of it all.
Remus grimaced, coming back to Earth for a moment.
“This has been one god awful date,” he sighed.
“Nonsense.” Tonks said. And she kissed him sweetly, firmly on the lips. It was their first kiss and a good one, tasting of promises and beginnings and skies full of stars. Remus reacted awkwardly at first, draping his arms untidily around her frame, but under the soft caress of her lips, he found himself changing, relaxing, allowing himself almost to enjoy it...
It had been a long time since he had last kissed someone, but as Tonks leaned into him, it felt as easy and natural as breathing.
“See?” she whispered, smiling up at him with eyes the colour of autumn. “It was perfect.”
And it wouldn’t be until the early hours of the morning that Remus would tumble through his front door (using Tonks’ loaned wand) to kick off his boots and shed his thick cloak.
“You took your sweet time getting home!” the mirror would complain, “How did it go?”
And Remus would pause. He would think about his broom ride, and about Mariella MacDougal. He would think about the purple smoke and the barman’s angry words.
But then he would think about chatting in the Leaky Cauldron, and the expression on Tonks’ face as she had kissed him- about the smell of her hair, the colour of her dress, or the shape of her back.
And so he would echo her words of some hours before.
“It was perfect,” Remus said.
A/N: Hello- this was written for coppertop1's First Date challenge. I hope you enjoyed Remus and Tonks' little adventure! Thanks are owed to Pottergirl7 for coming up with the title :)
If you have any thoughts on the story, I would love- as always- to hear them!
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