Okay, here is what you are supposed to do, and try not to be lame and spoil
Author’s Note: This story was written for a RL/NT ficathon on livejournal.com. The prompt was this:
The early stages of their relationship. Are they an item during OotP, or is Remus involved with Sirius then? How does Sirius's death (whether you subscribe to the R/S ship or not) affect the dynamic between Remus and Tonks?
Thanks to Gufa for beta-ing!
A beginning is a very delicate time. It's important to always know where exactly you want to start and where you're going, so you don't end up falling flat on your face. Believe me. I have a lot of personal experience on the subject. So, at the beginning of my career in the Order on a cloudy morning in early July I was weary of such occurrences, mostly because I had no idea what would or could happen.
I had arrived at the house to find an old woman screaming at me. This made me a bit nervous, because even though in Auror training they specify how you should handle various Dark curses and creatures, they leave you surprisingly unequipped on how to deal with crotchety old ladies. I think I can probably take on a good-size adult wizard, but the very elderly set me on edge. They really do.
My cousin came to the door. He was an escaped convict, but he had been, in his own words, unjustly imprisoned. He grinned at me and then threw a dirty look in the direction of the screeching. "Mum," he said simply, and I understood.
I had only met Sirius's mother twice, once when I was young enough to be scared out of my wits by her and again when she wouldn't be scaring anyone ever again (unless she took up being a ghost, which, come to think of it, is pretty close to what actually happened.) I suppose you can't actually call it meeting someone when it's at their funeral, but that was obviously the last time I saw her. Until the portrait, of course. **this is a really interesting image, but I can’t help feeling that Andromeda (who’d been burned by Sirius’s mum off the tapestry upon her marriage) and her half-blood daughter would have been unwelcome at her funeral…
I hadn't seen Sirius for even longer, though. He looked…well, I don't want to mince words -- he looked awful. Like a scarecrow, scrawny and thin with dead-looking eyes. I know that's what Azkaban does to people, but it's difficult to imagine it onto someone you've known beforehand. It made me uncomfortable, but Sirius didn't appear to notice. After we shut his mother up he showed me to a flight of stairs where a hippogriff and a werewolf were waiting for me.
The hippogriff looked grumpy and nervous. Hippogriffs are not used to being indoors, I guess. (I couldn't blame him, really. I didn't like the indoors of Number 12 Grimmauld Place anymore than he did.) The werewolf smiled at me wearily. It was obvious he'd been exerting himself quite a bit. He and Sirius quickly explained the problem to me.
I read once (and I can't for the life of me remember where) that cows will have no trouble at all going up a flight of stairs but will simply refuse to come down them. Hippogriffs, it appears, are the opposite. Or perhaps Buckbeak was just being particularly stubborn. Like I said, I couldn't help but sympathize with him; he'd been flying all over Europe with Sirius for the past year, and now he was stuck in a musty old house with an old woman screeching at him.
After Buckbeak and I had been properly introduced (I've always thought that hippogriffs are the most aristocratic of the magical animal kingdom) it was decided that Remus and I should stand behind Buckbeak and push while Sirius stood in front and tried to coax the animal up.
It is awfully difficult to make small talk when you are staring at a hippogriff's arse, but Remus Lupin gave it a good try and I admired him for it.
"So," he said, while Sirius whistled and waggled a dead ferret in front of Buckbeak's beak, "Auror training, yes? Are you still in the program or--"
"Fully qualified," I said, pushing a sweaty strand of hair off my forehead. "Just made it in last year."
"Congratulations." He and I gave a huge shove on Buckbeak's hindquarters, to no avail. "My god, you wouldn't think he was this heavy, just looking at--ha!" Buckbeak had reluctantly started up the steps. "Good one, Sirius."
"Come on, Beaky," said Sirius. "Up you get. Come on, who wants a nice ferret--"
Remus Lupin hadn't changed much since I had last seen him. He'd always been the quietest one of my cousin's friends, which isn't saying much. Peter, and James especially, could make anyone look standoffish. Still, I never got to know him as well as the others. Now he looked much older than he should have, I thought. He was only 34 or 35, wasn't he?
"Nice Buckbeak," Sirius said. "Come on up. I feel bad he's got to be cooped up, but since Hagrid can't take care of him until he gets back, he's best off here. We could Disillusion him, but I've found he doesn't like it much."
"He doesn't?" I asked, surprised. "I thought that's what you had to do with hippogriffs when they live around Muggles."
"It is," said Sirius, "but Hagrid's never preformed it on his hippogriffs, mostly because he can't do it--"
"Er, well, technically he's not supposed to," said Sirius, his lips twitching a little. I suddenly remembered the pink umbrella back at Hogwarts and grinned along with them. "But aside from that, I don't think Hagrid likes doing it. He thinks it's bad for the hippogriffs." Sirius shrugged. "At Hogwarts I suppose it doesn't really matter anyway. Buckbeak can stay here until Hagrid gets back."
Hagrid came returned to the country around Christmas and he didn't seem to really want the hippogriff back, however.
"It's just," I said to Hagrid at the Three Broomsticks when I was up in Hogsmeade that winter on some Auror business, "it's just I think the poor thing deserves to get out a bit. I'm sure he'd enjoy it a lot more up here. It wouldn't be too hard to smuggle him up either, I don't think."
The pub was noisy and Hagrid, I noticed right away, was distracted. "Hmm? What? Oh, yeah, Dumbledore tol' me abou' that. Sirius 'snot allowed ter leave Headquarters, righ'? But still, I doubt it's very safe fer him--"
"No, not Sirius," I said. "Buckbeak. Didn't Dumbledore tell you what happened to him?" I had been under the impression that Hagrid would be very relieved to know of Buckbeak's fate and maybe even excited to see him again.
"Oh, yes, yes, Beaky, righ', righ'. 'Course Dumbledore tol' me what happened ter him. Couldn' be happier abou' it, either." But he didn't look very happy. In fact, it was then that I noticed the barely healed cuts and bruises on his face.
"Are you all right, Hagrid?"
"Oh, yeah, I'm fine, Tonks. I'm great. It's jus'...I've got a lot o' things on my plate righ' now. D'you think Sirius would min' keepin' Beaky on? Fer now? Besides, with Lucius Malfoy's little snot running aroun', Hogwarts 's probably not safe fer him anyway."
Later, after the incident at the Ministry, Hermione and Ginny told me about the real source of Hagrid's bruises (with much more colorful language on Hermione's part than you'd expect), but that time in the pub I just assumed that the trip to the giants had been a bit hard on him (and probably accounted for that display of ill humor toward the Malfoys, come to think of it), I assured him that Sirius wouldn't mind a bit and that he was probably right, at least at Grimmauld Place Buckbeak would probably be safe from any nosy Malfoys.
"Probably better that way," Remus confided in me when I told him after I had returned to London. "I've got to leave the week before Christmas, Sirius could use the company..."
It occurred to both of us, perhaps, that hippogriffs maybe weren't the best company for anyone around Christmas, especially for Sirius. But it couldn't be helped. At the Ministry everyone in my department was swamped and Remus and I were both up to our necks in Order work. We knew it couldn't be helped.
That was the most frustrating part, I guess. I know there's something I could've done for him, but why I didn't figure out what the hell it was and do it sure beats me. It's the least I could've done for him, looking back on it.
So, about a year after we had forced him up there, Remus and I coaxed Buckbeak down the stairs, this time without Sirius, whose absence was very noticeable; Buckbeak didn't respond very well without him.
This time Remus was waggling the dead rat and whistling while I pushed on Buckbeak's hindquarters.
"Come on," I said huffily. "Move, why don't you?"
"Patience," said Remus between his coaxes, "is a virtue, young one."
Something about the whole thing was making me very upset and angry. It seemed unfair to me that Buckbeak was so unwilling to get out of this house. You're sure getting an easier way out than he did.
We struggled like that until Hagrid arrived and got Buckbeak down the stairs in about five seconds, which left Remus and me feeling grateful but just a little indignant. With a sigh, he sat on the bottom step. I leaned against the banister. Hagrid stood there staring at us, rubbing his huge hand on the back of his neck, the other one nervously clenched around Buckbeak's lead.
"Well," he said. "Thanks fer takin' him in. I mean—"
"It wasn't us," said Remus before I could. "I mean, we've barely done anything. It was mostly Sirius's job, feeding him and what-not."
"Good man, Sirius. Nice of him, ter do it."
We both nodded mutely.
"But now I better be getting Buck—"
"Witherwings," I said pointedly.
"Righ'. We better be gettin' home. I'd like to be back ter Hogwarts before dark. We're flying, see. I reckon I got the, er, Disillusion thingy worked out."
Remus must've been familiar with Hagrid's history of spellwork as well, because we both offered to Disillusion Buckbeak ourselves. Hagrid shook us off.
"He's my hippogriff, innhe?" he asked us grumpily, taking his umbrella out of a pocket inside his overcoat. Then his face softened and his face broke into a genuine grin. "Lessee what an ol' duffer like me can do, eh?"
We watched as Hagrid tapped Buckbeak once on the hindquarters and once on the head.
"Not bad," said Remus, though I didn't quite agree. In training Disillusionments are considered pretty important, and Hagrid's wouldn't pass muster with even the most lenient examiner. Auror training can make a bit of a snob out of you about those sorts of things.
"Well, it's cloudy out," said Hagrid. "I'll go out the back, hmm?"
We followed as Hagrid led the newly-transparent hippogriff out into Grimmauld Place's brambly backyard, which was surrounded with high walls that sent a clear negative message to any Muggles or other trespassers who might be lurking around outside of them. Remus and I stood in the doorway, waving one last time at Hagrid before he climbed onto Buckbeak's back.
After Buckbeak was at Hogwarts the house would be empty. Completely cleaned out of important Order papers, hippogriffs, or escaped prisoners. You wouldn't think that Number 12 could get more gloomier than it had been on the day we moved the hippogriff in a year ago, but here it was, sinking to new depths.
Meanwhile Hagrid was having trouble. He couldn't get Buckbeak to take off, no matter what he did. Remus and I stared from our vantage point at the door.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Buckbeak hasn't flown in awhile, has he?" said Remus. "I suppose he's just...skittish."
I leaned my head against the doorframe. My head was pounding; my headaches had been getting worse since Sirius had died and on this occasion I had stupidly forgotten my mum's potion for migraines. Bringing up my own health woes around Remus, however, seemed a bit thick. I mean just look at him, I thought.
"Are you all right?" he asked, sounding a little concerned.
"Oh, you know. Just the typical Auror-type fatigue. You learn to operate on little sleep, you know?"
"Graphically. Do you think we should go and help him?" Hagrid had gotten off Buckbeak's back and appeared to be patting the hippogriff on the beak and talking to him.
"Sure, you're a real charmer with the hippogriffs, aren't you, Remus?"
He smiled but didn't speak. I considered apologizing to him for sounding so harsh, but that seemed a bit dumb, so I remained silent as well. Really, I normally wasn't a too harsh person. And being snippy at Remus, after all, was being a bit rude, wasn't it?
"D'you think he'll be happy up there?" Remus asked while Hagrid mounted himself to try again.
I stared at Remus. I hadn't really supposed that it was the sort of thing he'd want to speak of at all. "Just who're you talking about?"
"I meant the hippogriff, Tonks."
"Oh. Right. Just checking. You didn't seem the type, but—"
"Right. Well, I'm sure he'll enjoy it. Wouldn't you, after this place?"
"Yes." Then silence. I considered using that moment to invite him to tea at my mother's house, which she'd been bugging me about for awhile, but then got a better idea.
"Say," I was about to say in a winning voice, "would you like to come to my place tonight? We can get Chinese takeaway. Because nothing says 'I feel your pain' more than egg rolls and soy sauce, am I right?"
Remus was still watching Buckbeak and Hagrid intently. "Go on, fly!" he said softly. "Please fly away."
And just then, he did. The transparent wings, which could only just be detected against the green of the garden, spread, Hagrid waved at us one last time, and while we were waving back, I asked Remus his opinion on spring rolls.
He was still staring at the spot where Buckbeak had taken off, and I had a sudden awful feeling that he would turn me down in that way that he had, because sometimes people can sound so humble that they almost seem like they're speaking down to you.
Instead, he said, "What about Indian food? Would that be all right?"
"That would be fine," I said, relieved. "Just fine."