Chapter 17 : Chapter 17
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The hospital wing was still completely dark when Tonks woke. Her head was tender from the blow she’d received earlier in the night, but not in the same pounding way it had been before. The sore and aching muscles in her arms and back had woken her. After falling prey to a Trip Jinx and meeting the hard forest floor with force, she had fought Macnair aggressively and now her body protested loudly. With a deep sigh, she tried to move her body into a more comfortable position, rolling from her back to her side. She let out a loud groan and rolled to her back once more as she remembered too late that she shouldn’t lie on her right side where she was likely bruised from her broken ribs. Tonks heard the rustle of bedcovers and the creak of a bedframe, followed by a sleepy voice whispering close by.
“Are you all right?” Remus asked as he swept Tonks’ still-brown hair away from her face.
“It hurts,” Tonks whispered, annoyed with how pathetic she sounded.
“No,” she rasped. Her throat hurt too. “I mean, yeah, my head still hurts a bit, but my body hurts more.”
“What can I do to help?”
“Take me to my own bed,” she grumbled. The bed she was in wasn’t uncomfortable, as such. It was just that she was used to her own bed with her delightfully fluffy duvet. She readjusted her position again and felt her bra rub against one of her many bruises she would likely have. After slowly pushing herself to a sitting position, she pulled her arms through her sleeves, unhooked the offending garment, pulled the straps down her arms and flung it to the end of her bed.
Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she looked to Remus beside her. He’d pushed a second bed next to hers, the edges of the beds flush with one another. The image of propriety in their sleeping arrangements made Tonks smile; technically, they were sleeping in separate beds, yet close enough that they were within arm’s reach of each other.
“Better?” Remus asked with a smile.
Tonks pushed her arms back through her t-shirt. “Much.”
His hair was slightly mussed from sleep, and he was wearing just his white undershirt on top. The sight of his bare arms made Tonks’ heart skip a beat despite being in pain; she didn’t think she’d even seen his sleeves so much as rolled up before.
“I’m surprised you’re awake,” he said, propped up on one elbow.
“I can’t get comfortable,” Tonks complained as she attempted to lie back.
“Can you roll to your stomach?”
Tonks pushed up on her left elbow and tried to turn over, her t-shirt tangling around her torso as she turned. She tugged it free with a huff of frustration. “It might take me a minute.”
“I could remove the rest of your clothing if that would help,” Remus said, helping to straighten her shirt.
“How kind of you, Professor,” Tonks said with a sleepy smile. “All in the interest of helping me sleep, hmm?”
“Purely for your benefit.”
Tonks managed to maneuver to her stomach and settled with her arms hugging her pillow, her face turned away from him. She felt Remus scoot closer to her and adjust her covers so they were pulled down to her waist. His pillow brushed her arm as he positioned it nearer to hers and rested his head on his arm that had curled around hers.
Remus’ free hand roamed up her back, applying light pressure as he moved. “Your muscles are tense,” he said softly.
“Macnair’s a big bloke,” Tonks said with a shiver at his touch. “It wasn’t an easy fight.”
Remus’ large hand moved to her shoulders, moving between each one, massaging her tired muscles in rhythmic circles. Tonks relaxed at his touch, letting his firm but gentle hand sooth her. Still moving in slow circles, he made his way to her middle back, his touch becoming lighter when he neared her bruised ribs. He stopped to pay special attention to spots that were especially tense, concentrating his touch with such deliberate care that it was easy to imagine his hands attending to a different aching need that was quickly becoming apparent the more he touched her. Tonks couldn’t help the little moan of pleasure that escaped her lips when his hand began its soothing movements on her lower back.
She released her right hand from the grip on her pillow and reached for Remus’ hand where it rested above her head, threading her fingers through his. His attention remained on her lower back for some time before his movement seemed to hesitate for a moment before continuing a path that went just past the small of her back. He stopped for a moment and gathered a handful of her shirt, pulling it up to expose the skin just above where the covers rested.
“May I?” he asked, his fingers brushing her skin lightly.
Tonks felt her pulse quicken at his touch, hardly believing that his hands were seconds away from touching her bare skin in a way she’d wanted him to for weeks now. It thrilled her that he asked permission, taking nothing for granted as they lied next to each other in the quiet stillness of the empty hospital wing.
She squeezed his hand in encouragement and said, “Yes,” in a breathy whisper.
Making a slow path up her back, Remus’ touch exhilarated her. The intimacy of it was, of course, lovely, but the sheer amount of care he was putting into his touch told her that everything she thought she knew about Remus’ compassionate nature was true. She knew it by the way he was touching her now and the way he had cared for her earlier.
His hand was following the same route it had before, starting at her shoulders, but the touch was softer, caressing her skin rather than kneading sore muscles. She was utterly relaxed now, her no-longer tense muscles able to enjoy the soft strokes of Remus’ hand over her back. Focusing as much as possible on his touch, Tonks fought to stay awake, not wanting the contact between them to end; wanting very badly for it to continue into something else. Even through the fatigue coursing through her body, she wished they weren’t in the hospital wing, tired and battered after a mission. She took a deep breath, trying to push away the thoughts of his hand touching her even more intimately than it was now, knowing these thoughts would do nothing to quiet the desire for his touch elsewhere on her body.
Remus’ hand returned to her lower back, settling into slow strokes back and forth across the expanse of skin just above the line of Tonks’ knickers. He released her hand and she felt him move as he propped himself up once again on his elbow. His breath tickled the back of her neck as he moved her hair aside and whispered into her ear, “You should sleep.”
Tonks used her free hand to help roll her back on her side, her back flush with Remus’ chest. Leaning against him, she reached her hand back to touch his face, running her hand along the stubble of his cheek. He brought her fingers to his lips, kissing the tip of each in turn. He released her hand as she ran it once again along his cheek, continuing its path until she could plunge into the soft strands of his hair, grasping it rather more tightly than she had in the past. Hand still fisted in his hair, Tonks shifted her hips against Remus and was delighted at the sharp intake of breath she heard as she felt the evidence that he was in the same state of longing.
The hand that had dropped to rest on her hip, tightened its hold, keeping Tonks’ hips from exploring any further. “You should sleep,” Remus repeated, his voice rough.
Tonks could hear the regret in his voice at ending their exploration, but she couldn’t deny that she was exhausted. She relaxed her grip on his hair, bringing her hand down to twine with his where it was still gripping her hip. She sighed as he pressed feather-light kisses to her neck, carefully avoiding the spot where Macnair’s thumb had been. As Remus placed a final kiss, Tonks’ eyes drooped; thanks to his ministrations, she was ready for sleep once more.
“One of these days I’m going to snog you senseless,” Tonks said sleepily.
“And I’m going to enjoy it,” he whispered before nipping her earlobe lightly with his lips. “But now, it’s time to sleep.”
Remus released her hand and reached for her covers, bringing them over her shoulders. Tonks smiled as he dropped his head to his pillow and nestled his body close to hers. She fell asleep with images of slow deep kisses and long limbs tangled with hers playing through her head.
Tonks woke suddenly the next morning. It wasn’t the light from the windows or the sounds of someone moving through the hall outside of the hospital wing that woke her, but rather the uncomfortable feeling of being watched. After falling asleep under Remus’ care, she had slept well, not waking until this moment when she felt eyes upon her. She opened her eyes and was startled. She was staring into the smiling face of a house elf she recognized from her first meeting with Dumbledore a month prior. He had pulled a chair close to the bed and was watching her intently with his chin propped in his elbow.
“Miss is awake!” his high squeaky voice said happily.
“Wotcher,” Tonks said groggily. “It’s Dobby, right?”
“Yes!” Dobby squealed as he clapped his hands together, clearly thrilled that Tonks remembered him.
Tonks looked behind her at the bed where Remus had slept, empty and rumpled from sleep. “Where is everybody?” she asked.
“You mean Miss Poppy and the young man who slept here?”
Tonks smiled at Dobby’s referring to Remus as a young man, as if he were one of the students currently attending the school. She gingerly nodded her head, mindful of the headache that was still threatening from the concussion.
“Sir went to fetch you clean clothes, and Miss Poppy needed to speak with the—” Dobby looked around quickly before continuing in a whisper, “—ill-tempered Potions professor.” Tonks smiled as Dobby continued. “Miss Poppy sends for Dobby to stay with you, but not before sir sends me to the kitchens for your breakfast. He says you will be very hungry, so Dobby prepares your breakfast himself,” he finished proudly, gesturing to the tray resting on the bedside table.
Tonks sat up carefully, mindful of her sore ribs, and looked at the tray. The tall carafe of coffee was the first item to catch her eye. She scanned the rest of the tray and decided that Dobby must have raided the entire Hogwarts kitchen to make her breakfast; there was bacon and sausage, fried eggs, tomatoes, and a bowl of fruit. In addition, there was a croissant sitting on a little plate next to the fruit that made her nearly squeal with delight.
Searching the end of her bed for her jeans and not finding them, Tonks turned to Dobby. “Do you happen to know where my jeans have gone?”
“Dobby sends them to the laundry. They were in terrible shape, miss,” he replied.
“I suppose I’ll just wrap my blanket around myself, then,” Tonks said, untucking her blanket from the bed.
Dobby hopped off his chair and bent to tuck her blanket back in place. “Oh, no. Miss Poppy tells Dobby to make sure you don’t leave the bed until she returns,” he said seriously.
“Not even for the loo?”
Dobby pointed his finger commandingly at Tonks. “Not even for the loo.”
Tonks huffed in annoyance, but obeyed the elf’s instructions, rationalizing that it was far easier to go along with Poppy’s overprotective nature than to fight it. Ravenously hungry, Tonks looked longingly at the breakfast tray and swung her legs over the side of the bed, forgetting for a moment that she was wearing only knickers and socks. She pulled the blankets around her while Dobby happily situated a table in front of her to hold her tray.
It was one of the most bizarre breakfasts’ Tonks could recall. While she thankfully drank her coffee and ate her large breakfast, Dobby talked animatedly about his job at the school, his affection for Dumbledore and Harry, and his sock collection. In the middle of a rapturous retelling of helping Harry the previous year, the door to the hospital wing opened and Severus came stalking in, surprisingly devoid of his usual billowing robes. His appearance was slightly disheveled, as if he had dressed hastily. She thought he looked as if he needed a shave and few more hours of sleep. Stopping in front of Tonks’ bed, he stared at her, his gaze lingering on her neck for a few moments.
“Dobby will go find Miss Poppy,” the elf said quickly, Disapparating with a loud crack before Tonks could argue.
“You chased my company away,” Tonks complained. “And I thought Poppy was with you.”
“She is speaking with the Headmaster,” he replied curtly, continuing to stare at Tonks.
Uneasy under his gaze that she, again, could not even attempt to read, she raised her eyebrows at him in question.
“It appears you did not heed my warning,” he said in a low voice.
“I heeded it all right,” Tonks replied irritably. She raised a hand to cover her aching neck that she was sure had some interesting bruises left from her fight the night before. “Macnair happens to be a dirty fighter.”
Severus inclined his head in agreement. “I found your tactics to be…amusing,” he said as his lips curled into a smirk. “He was unable to walk without assistance upon his return late last night.”
“Good,” Tonks said with a smile. “I only wish I could have given the same treatment to his friend.” As good as it had felt to Stun Avery, it would have felt even better the enact the knee-to-bollocks plan that had run through her head at the Malfoys’ party.
Tonks swore Severus’ mouth nearly formed a grin before he reached into his pocket, retrieving two glass vials. “Poppy asked me to deliver these to you. One is for pain, one is for swelling.”
Tonks took the vials from him just as the fireplace roared to life with green flames, Poppy stepping neatly into the wing. She crossed to Tonks’ bed and placed neatly laundered jeans next to her.
“Thank you, Severus,” she said briskly. “Even though I distinctly told you I did not require your help delivering those potions to Tonks.”
Severus fixed Poppy with a blank expression, although his clenched jaw gave away his annoyance.
“Now get back to bed,” Poppy said, shooing him with her hands. “And you can glare at me all you like. I know for a fact that you only just returned to the castle a few hours ago, and a bit more sleep will do you some good.”
Tonks watched with amusement as Severus turned without a word and stalked back the way he came, slamming the door shut in his wake.
“I think most of your student population would love to have seen what just happened,” Tonks said as she uncorked one of the vials.
Poppy waved her hand airily before drawing her wand to push the table and breakfast tray aside. “It’s hard to be intimidated by a man I’ve known since he was a skinny eleven-year-old boy. Now, drink those both while I check you over.”
Tonks obediently drank both potions. “Now may I get up?” she asked as she grimaced at the taste of the potion she’d swallowed. “I need the loo.”
Tonks let out a loud sigh. “Well, if you don’t let me out of this bed in the next few minutes, you’re likely to have a mess to clean up.”
“I’ll let you up soon.” Poppy tapped her wand lightly to the bruises on Tonks’ neck. “There’s no lasting damage here,” she said softly. “Although it looks ghastly. It’ll need some of the bruise salve.”
Tonks wrinkled her nose at the thought of applying Poppy’s bruise remedy she remembered from her Hogwarts days on her neck. “I don’t fancy smelling like a potion storeroom all day. I’ll just use a charm to cover them.”
“You’ll use it if you want those marks to heal properly.”
“If I promise to take some with me to put on tonight before bed, may I please get up?”
“I’ll let you up as soon as I’m certain you won’t fall as soon as your feet hit the floor,” Poppy declared, her hands resting on her hips.
Tonks giggled at the ridiculousness of her statement. “I suppose I’ll be sitting her forever, then. Nobody can be certain I won’t fall at any given moment.”
Poppy’s face relaxed into a smile. “You’re quite right about that,” she said as she began moving her wand over Tonks’ body, pausing for a moment over her healed ribs. They were quiet for a few moments, before Poppy spoke again. “You and Mr. Lupin were engaged in an interesting sleeping arrangement last night.” She looked pointedly at the bed behind Tonks.
“He was watching over me,” Tonks said with a shrug, willing herself not to blush fiercely. “And we were technically in separate beds.”
Poppy gave a quiet sound of agreement as she focused her wand at the back of Tonks’ head. “Another one I’ve known since he was a boy,” she said quietly. “A good man, that one. Aside from his tendencies toward being a noble prat.”
Tonks’ brow crinkled in confusion as she wondered if Poppy was referring only to Remus resigning his position at Hogwarts.
Apparently finished with her exam, Poppy stowed her wand in her robes and looked down into Tonks’ face with a solemn expression. “You’d do well to remember what he goes through each month.”
“What does he go through?” Tonks asked, meeting Poppy’s gaze. She thought she had a rough idea of what his transformations entailed, and knew he was grumpy and felt ill leading up to the full moon, but she wanted to hear the reality of it. If she hoped to be properly involved with Remus, Tonks knew she needed to have more information.
“Imagine your entire body—muscles, bones, connective tissues, skin, teeth—being transformed into a completely different form without a magical gift such as your own. And it’s all done in a matter of minutes, only to do the exact reverse just hours later.” Poppy sighed deeply and continued. “It leaves him sore and weak, though he will not admit it. He has an easier time now that the Wolfsbane Potion is available. But it will never be easy.”
Tonks steeled herself and ignored her rapidly beating heart. “What if I want to help?”
Poppy smiled at her in response. “I was hoping you’d say something along those lines. Although I’ll warn you that he is unlikely to accept your help.”
“What if I want to help, anyway?” Tonks challenged.
With a raised eyebrow, Poppy said, “Given the spot in which I found the two of you this morning, I expect reading up on muscle massage would serve you well.”
Tonks was happily contemplating Poppy’s words when the door to the hospital wing opened once more, Remus entering the room with his rucksack slung over his shoulder. Heat crept into her cheeks as she watched his long legs stride toward her, thinking of utilizing the same massage techniques on him as he’d used on her the previous night.
Poppy glanced over her shoulder at the visitor before turning back to Tonks, a wide grin spreading across her face. “You, my dear, are completely smitten,” she whispered. “And you now have my permission to get out of bed.” Poppy ducked into her office after a brief greeting to Remus.
“I took the liberty of breaking into your flat to retrieve some clothes for you,” Remus said as he sat in the chair next to her bed and lowered his bag to the floor. He handed her a t-shirt and knickers from his bag. “You’ve quite a t-shirt collection. I had a hard time making a decision.
Tonks immediately recognized the shirt as one of her favorites. It was an old Beatles concert t-shirt she’d nicked from her dad; soft and faded, it simply had “The Beatles” printed across the front.
She eyed the bright pink undergarment he’d passed her. “Did you rummage through my knickers as well?” she asked with a grin.
“Of course,” Remus replied with a grin of his own. “Kept a pair for myself, too.”
Tonks grabbed her clean jeans and discarded bra amidst a fit of giggles at Remus’ statement. After stacking her items neatly, she picked up her wand from the bedside table and charmed the pile of clothes to levitate to the bathroom. Untucking the blanket from the mattress, she stood and wrapped it around her waist. Knowing there was a high likelihood of her tripping over the blanket, probably incurring Poppy’s wrath for reinjuring herself, Tonks walked slowly behind her clothes. Her trip was thankfully without incident, and she emerged from the bathroom a bit later having taken care of her most urgent needs, along with showering, charming the marks on her neck and morphing her hair back to her—and Remus’—favorite shade of pink.
Remus looked up from his book and gave her his shy smile at the sight of her pink hair. With Poppy standing at her store cupboard just a few meters away, Tonks resisted the urge to lean over and kiss him as a proper thank you for taking care of her the previous night. Instead, she sat on her bed and refreshed her coffee from the carafe still sitting on the bedside table.
“I also brought you these,” Remus said as he placed his book down and produced a set of robes from his bag.
“I can’t wear these to work,” she said, holding up the plum colored robes.
Remus raised his eyebrows at her. “Who says you’re going to work?”
“It’ll look suspicious if I don’t show,” Tonks argued.
“You’ll do nothing of the sort!” Poppy exclaimed, peeking her head around the door of the cupboard. She put down the supplies she was sorting and marched over to Tonks. “Albus told me that Kingsley Shacklebolt has arranged for your absence today. And you’ll need to be on light duty for at least a week.”
“Well, that’ll be easy to explain,” Tonks grumbled.
“I expect Kingsley will be able to help with an explanation as to your limitations for the week,” Poppy said. “And no running while you’re on light duty.” At Tonks’ groan of protest, Poppy looked at her with a serious expression. “I mean it, young lady. You could easily reinjure yourself.”
“Kingsley said you left work ill yesterday, so nobody is expecting you back today,” Remus interjected. “He’s left some documents in your flat for you to review to keep you busy.”
Tonks knew this meant there were likely a stack of Sirius sightings sitting on her coffee table to be read and sorted. She heaved a dramatic sigh and took a large drink of her coffee, deciding that lounging about her flat for the day wasn’t the end of the world. Not running for a week might be, though.
“I’m going to come take my temper out on you next week when I haven’t run out my frustrations,” Tonks said to Poppy.
“I’ll need to see you back to release you for work anyhow,” she said tartly, turning back to her task.
“What’ll you be doing today?” Tonks asked Remus, who appeared amused at the exchange she’d just had with Poppy.
“I have some documents of my own to review, as well as a report to prepare for Dumbledore on our mission. I thought I would come take advantage of your music player,” Remus said, as he cocked his head. “If it’s all right with you.”
Tonks now decided that lounging about her flat all day didn’t sound bad at all. “We can listen to Let It Be and eat takeaway for lunch,” she said, a smile returning to her face.
Remus gave her a sheepish grin as he placed his book back in his bag. “I should, at the very least, buy you a meal after the liberties I took last night.”
“I enjoyed the liberties you took,” Tonks replied with a smile. “But, you know I won’t say no to a meal.” She leaned forward and pushed her hand through his hair, still slightly damp from the shower. Her hand trailed down his cheek to his chin, enjoying to feel of the stubble he’d neglected to shave that morning, apparently in a hurry. “I also enjoy that you didn’t shave,” Tonks admitted. “I love it when you’re all scruffy.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
With Poppy’s permission—after Tonks pointed out that there was really no other way to get home since she didn’t have a fireplace—they were allowed to Apparate to her flat. Of course, not before Poppy had forced a small jar of bruise paste into her bag.
Tonks let them in and found that there was indeed a stack of Sirius sightings to read. Flipping through her CD collection, she found the correct disc and set it up to play. Tonks smiled at the coziness of their situation as they both settled down on her couch to work. They chatted as they worked, Remus asking her opinions on the small bits of information Hagrid had passed on about the Giants, Tonks reading him the more ridiculous Sirius sightings; it ended up being one of the more enjoyable days Tonks had had in a while.
Frustratingly, after a couple of hours of work, her headache had returned and she became drowsy. Remus took the reports from her hands and swung her legs up to rest on the couch, insisting that she nap while he fetched lunch. It had been sunny at Hogwarts when they’d left, but it was gloomy and raining in London, so Tonks decided that they needed soup and tea to chase away the chill.
She woke a while later, her feet resting in the familiar spot on Remus’ lap. Closing her eyes and stretching, she inhaled the welcoming scent of tomato soup, wondering how long she’d been asleep.
“How’s your headache?” Remus asked.
Tonks opened one sleepy lid and eyed him critically. “Please tell me you’re not going to turn into Poppy.”
“There’s only room for one Poppy Pomfrey in this world.”
“Thank Merlin for that.” Tonks sat up and started to pull her feet from Remus’ lap.
He grasped one of her feet in his free hand. “How’s your headache?” he repeated.
“I think it’s better,” she said, playfully kicking his hand off her feet. “Although, I just woke up, didn’t I?” With a wide yawn and another stretch, she sleepily asked, “How long did I sleep?”
“Just long enough for you to start snoring,” he said without looking up from the parchment he was reading.
“I don’t snore!” Tonks said, pulling a pillow from behind her and throwing it at Remus. He easily batted it away, narrowly missing their soup sitting on the coffee table. “Put your work down for a few minutes before I ruin the soup you brought.”
As they ate their soup, Tonks reveled in the ease of their companionship. Would it be like this if they were a couple? Quiet meals in after long days of work and Order duties. Taking meals to Grimmauld Place sometimes so Sirius wasn’t alone. Grabbing an occasional pint when they had a free evening. It was an easy daydream to have. But, was it reality? Would it actually be that easy? She quickly thought of the things that Sirius and Poppy—two people who seemed to know him well—had said about Remus. His noble tendencies along with the thinking of himself as inadequate. He’d already tried to push her away once. Would he do so again? Will it be harder the next time if they’d grown closer?
Of course it will.
She stole a quick glance at the man next to her: his adorably shaggy hair, his threadbare and patched robes neat and tidy no matter their state of wear. What had it meant to his Gringotts vault to buy her lunch today? The thought of what Dolores Umbridge’s laws did to his financial status made Tonks’ stomach turn into knots, to the point where she nearly stopped eating her soup, but continued on because she would not waste food that he had purchased for her. The laws would continue to make it difficult for him to retain any meaningful employment. What would that mean for them if they were a couple? She never wanted to see his pride hurt by his lack of funds.
Tonks’ thoughts were broken by Remus saying, “You’re thinking awfully hard over there for somebody who’s supposed to be taking it easy today.” He glanced in her direction.
“I was thinking about how much I love this soup,” Tonks said with a cheeky grin. At Remus’ skeptical look, she said, “I was actually thinking what a lovely day it’s been. Too bad we have to break it up in a bit for the Order meeting tonight.”
“Hmm,” Remus hummed around a spoonful of soup. “If I don’t deliver you to the meeting tonight, I fear that either Mad-Eye or Molly would likely break down your door to ensure that you are, indeed, in one piece.”
“I suppose Mad-Eye wants to make sure I was properly vigilant on our mission,” Tonks said with a sigh.
“I think it’s more that he wants to make sure you’re all right.”
“Same thing, really,” Tonks said as she wiped her mouth and tossed her empty soup cup into the sack. “He gets all protective, but he hides it behind growling at me.”
“He does get rather protective of you,” Remus agreed as he collected the rest of their empty lunch containers.
Tonks looked warily at Remus, wondering what in the world Mad-Eye had said to him to show his protective side. “What’s he said to you?”
“Not much,” Remus said with a small shrug. “Tea before we go?”
Tonks decided to let him off the hook for the abrupt change of subject; she wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to know what Mad-Eye had said to him. “I could use some coffee if I’m to stay awake through Bill and Sturgis arguing about Gringotts affairs,” Tonks said as she pulled on her boots. “Let’s get coffee and some biscuits from the bake shop nearby. Molly’s always preparing food for everyone, and she deserves a break.”
Remus had not argued with her plan, and an hour later they arrived at Headquarters, properly caffeinated, and toting a large bakery box of biscuits, which Molly had deemed unnecessary, but looked grateful for. After allowing the teenagers the chance to swarm the box of goodies, Sirius kicked them all out of the kitchen so he could get a full account of what had happened on their mission. Apparently, Remus’ quick account he’d given when he popped in for a shower that morning wasn’t sufficient.
They told him of locating Hagrid, leaving out the bit about the Giant, and Tonks gave him an edited version of her fight with Macnair and Avery. Sirius laughed loudly. “Dung was right, you really shouldn’t mess with that one,” he said, echoing Mundungus’ words from her first Order meeting.
Sirius looked to Remus. “You’re really not going to tell me what pet Hagrid is leading back to Hogwarts?” he asked indignantly. “I’m made to sit here while the rest of you are off doing these missions, and you can’t throw me a bone?”
“We could get you a real bone for Snuffles if that would make you feel better,” Tonks teased.
“Maybe I’ll just chew on one of Moony’s shoes, instead,” Sirius said, crossing his arms over his chest.
Tonks raised her head from where it was propped on her hand as Mad-Eye entered the kitchen. Her greeting died on her lips as he stopped abruptly and looked appraisingly at Tonks, his good eye narrowed as his magical eye focused on her neck. “Lupin said you were all right,” he said, waving a hand vaguely at Remus.
“I am all right,” Tonks said indignantly.
“Hit your head, he said.”
“I did, and now I’m all right,” Tonks said, sitting back and folding her arms across her chest.
“I’m not fooled by the charm you’re using to cover those marks,” Mad-Eye said, gesturing to Tonks’ neck.
Bugger. Tonks had forgotten that he would be able to see through the charm she was using to cover the obvious finger-shaped bruises. Instinctively, her hand flew to her neck.
Mad-Eye scowled and stumped forward, batting her hand away. “And your head?” he growled.
At his growl, she shot an ‘I told you so’ look at Remus before returning her gaze to Mad-Eye. “Well, I did have a bit of a headache, but now that you’re yelling at me, it’s all better.”
Mad-Eye was unfazed by Tonks’ sarcasm and continued to stare her down. “Cancel the charm,” he demanded.
Tonks met his stare with one of her own. They glared wordlessly at one another for a few moments before Tonks rolled her eyes and sighed. She knew Mad-Eye well and could tell when he was blustering for effect versus when she needed to accept defeat. She knew this was one of the times she should accept defeat and show him her injuries before she had to reveal them to the kitchen full of Order members who would be assembling shortly. Raising her hand back to her throat, she drew her fingers across and said, “Finite.”
Mad-Eye’s scowl deepened, telling Tonks that the bruises looked no better than they had that morning. He lifted a hand to her chin and tilted it up for a better look. “How’d you get out of that spot?” he asked, releasing her.
Tonks gave him a small smile and cocked her head to the side, knowing he would enjoy the maneuver she’d used. “What’d you tell me to do if I found myself in a tight spot against a man?”
Mad-Eye considered what she’d said for a moment before letting out a harsh burst of laughter. The unexpected—and uncharacteristic—mirth startled Remus and Sirius. “That’s a good lass,” he grumbled, giving her one of his rare crooked smiles and patting her roughly on the shoulder before stumping to a seat at the table.
The door to the kitchen opened again, Order members trickling in for the meeting. Tonks saw Remus and Sirius staring at her neck and renewed the charm to cover the bruises. Remus’ jaw was clenched tightly as he pushed back from the table muttering about starting tea. After a commanding look from Sirius, Tonks rose from her seat and joined Remus where he stood at the cooker, brooding at the kettle. She reached into the cupboard and pulled down mugs, dropping one which shattered spectacularly on the stone floor.
With a slight quirk of his lips Remus drew his wand and quickly repaired the mug, setting it on the counter with the others.
“See what happens when I am forced to stop you from brooding?” Tonks said as she nudged Remus with her shoulder. “I came over just to help with tea and innocent crockery was destroyed.”
“Lucky for the innocent crockery, I happen to be a wizard,” Remus replied with a slight smile as he set the kettle to boil.
Tonks turned so she could see his face, leaning against the counter with her arms crossed at her chest. “Why’d you get so grumpy after I showed Mad-Eye my neck.”
“Because that man hurt you,” he replied quietly. “And it could have been worse.”
“What’d I tell you, yesterday?”
“You told me many things yesterday,” Remus said as he measured out tea from a tin.
Tonks reached up and touched his chin lightly, forcing him to look her in the face. “I’m not some damsel in distress.”
Letting out a sight, Remus looked away to pour water into the mugs. “I truly don’t believe you are.”
“My job is dangerous.” Tonks turned back to the counter and began carefully levitating mugs to the table. “And so are my hobbies,” she said with a smile. “If I get hurt, you’ll just have to help make it better.”
Tonks ginned at the touch of color that rose up Remus’ neck. “A silver lining, indeed,” he said.
“Now, come sit,” she demanded, looping an arm around his. “Both of us have reports to give.”
They took their places at the table and Tonks noted with amusement that even though the room was nearly filled with Order members, their usual seats were empty. Sitting in their now-habitual fashion of Tonks’ feet propped in Remus’ lap, they waited patiently for Dumbledore to arrive and the meeting to begin.
A/N: Awwwww, aren't they adorable!? I'm so thankful for the literary genius of JK Rowling that gave us characters like Poppy Pomfrey and Dobby to explore. If you notice their characterizations from the books, rest assured, they are Jo's, not mine. All of it's hers.
Also, I am not George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, or Ringo Starr. Those four men are the Beatles, and I credit them fully with musical genius of "Let It Be".
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