Author’s Note: This, like my previous story, was also written for the rl_nt_ficathon on LJ, with a different prompt:
Author’s Note: This, like my previous story, was written for the rl_nt_ficathon on LJ, with a different prompt:
I'd like to see a funny piece set during the gloomy HBP era! Haven't been many of those yet, and I think the contrast could be rather interesting. Don't mind about the rating, or the setting, or the nature of the humour, and the characters don't necessarily have to find it funny - just run with it!
Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing
Remus Lupin thought about sheep.
Sheep, he knew, weren't intelligent animals, but surely that first time in the spring when their fleece came off they experienced that feeling of a weight being lifted, didn’t they? They must notice it when the heavy, smelly wool that they'd been carrying around like a dead weight for months was finally removed.
Of course, they probably did, but it probably didn't worry them much. Sheep, Remus knew, were immensely stupid animals. They certainly didn't know, for example, that the wool that kept them so warm in the wintertime would find its way to the ends of Molly Weasley's experienced knitting needles and eventually be converted into a number of fetching and colorful Weasley jumpers, one of which would be reserved especially for him, Remus Lupin. And it certainly didn't occur to them that yet another sweater was bound for the arms of one Nymphadora Tonks, who might or might not be happy to see him when he brought it to her.
Sheep, really, did miss out on a lot.
"Hello," Remus said in what would've passed as a nonchalant tone of voice to someone who suffered from frequent anxiety attacks. "Merry Christmas. Late, I know, but--"
"Get in here," Tonks snapped.
"Well, it's nice to see you too."
She shook her head and stood back to let him into the dim flat. "What is it you want, Remus?"
He stared at her. There was something wrong with her, something...almost Snape-like. Her hair was unkempt and had a general unwashed look to it, and she had mastered the curtness and certainly the peevish way Severus always asked Remus what he wanted. Pretty soon, he thought, she'd be calling him "Lupin" and sneering.
As he walked in he looked around the flat, which was messy but at the same time looked curiously uninhabited. There were no small animals pickled in mysterious liquids on the walls, however. He breathed a sigh of relief.
"I didn't know you still rented this place out," he said. "I thought you would've got a flat in Hogsmeade."
"No. I didn't."
"Obviously not." He was sitting on the couch, she on a worn armchair across from him. When she stared at him, he noticed the rather impressive bags under her eyes.
Several seconds of silence passed.
"Would you like something to drink?" she asked, not breaking her steady and serious gaze.
"Well, sure, if you have anything."
"Well, too bad. There's nothing besides water."
"I don't live here full-time anymore, do I?"
He nodded. "So why did you offer me a drink?"
"I extract joy from denying you, Remus. Didn't you know?" She laughed.
He grinned nervously. She was kidding. Wasn't she? Remus again thought nervously about Severus.
"Where did you get that jumper?" she asked finally.
He looked down. "Why do you ask?"
"It looks new."
"It's my Weasley jumper."
She stared, this time at the woolen mass he was sporting, rather than uncomfortably at his face. "It's a, er, bit bulkier than she normally knits them, isn't it?"
This was true; Mrs. Weasley had evidently decided that when it came to Remus' outerwear, quantity mattered over quality. Not that all of Molly's sweaters weren't finely made, of course, but this one was much thicker, knit of a brown, rough wool that made Remus itch horribly if he didn't wear a long-sleeved shirt under it. It was also quite huge. Remus was not a large man, and with the sweater on it seemed to envelop him, making him no longer Man, nor Wolf; but, simply, Jumper.
Still, it got very cold and damp underground, and the jumper was one of the warmest things Remus owned, so he'd taken to wearing it frequently.
"Did Molly make you a Weasley jumper last year?" she asked.
"No. She did start mending rips in my coats, and I guess she thought I needed something a little more hard-wearing," he said, not adding that the jumper was probably the hardest-wearing thing you could find outside of steel wool.
He thought that her face perhaps softened a bit, though it was hard to tell in the dim light.
"It's a bit dark in here, isn't it?"
"I'm saving money."
"Remus, you never said why it was you're here."
"Right. Well, I haven't seen you in a while--"
"You said that you didn't want to see me."
"No, I didn't. In fact, I like seeing you, and--"
"Look, it's not--I just came to give you your gift from the Weasleys." He held out the parcel.
She accepted it gingerly. "Molly couldn't've owled it?"
Remus grimaced. He had asked that question to himself, but Molly had been so insistent, especially when she'd heard how he had been avoiding Tonks.
But Remus hadn't been avoiding her, not really. He'd just been making a highly unconcentrated effort not to be around her for an extended amount of time. There was, he told himself, a difference.
"But I'm worried about the two of you," Molly had said. "You don't look well." Apparently she thought they ought to both not look well together.
"She asked me if I could bring it," Remus told Tonks.
"Hmm. You know, if I could get people to do things half as well as Molly, I'd have more influence at the Ministry than Umbridge and Scrimgeour combined."
"How about that?" He handed her the package.
"It's probably just a jumper," she said, sourly. Again, Remus thought of Snape. She'd been spending a lot of time around the school, what if Snape had invited her down to his dungeon to...write nocturnes, or whatever it was Severus did in the noisome recesses of his dungeon. What would Sirius say, Remus wondered, if he knew that while Remus had been making his unconcentrated efforts not to be around her, Tonks had become Snape's double?
Tonks had opened the gift now and had been staring at it for several seconds. It was, indeed, a sweater, but--
"It's pink!" Tonks said wretchedly. "Pink!" And, to Remus' surprise, she was almost crying.
"You—you don’t like the pink?"
"Of course I do! I like pink. It’s a very nice color."
"It’s just…you know, I always took it for granted that that I could make myself pink--"
"Your hair, you mean?"
"Yes, of course I mean my hair. And now I can’t change it and I’ll be damned if I know how I can make it better."
He nodded again. He felt a bit better, even though she was so upset, because there was no way a Snape-double in-training could still be that attached to the color pink. "Still, they’re nice jumpers," he pointed out
She slipped it on over her head. "I suppose…"
"Very warm, and much softer than you’d expect. Yours looks…very nice."
She smiled for the first time. It did fit her nicely, but the color was incredibly bright. Remus had never seen a sweater that blindingly pink before. When she wore it, one’s eyes were immediately drawn away from her unkempt appearance.
"I actually do have something to drink in here, if you want it. And something to eat as well."
"It might have something growing on it, but we can make do, I expect."
We are both, he thought, simply Jumper. Perhaps that was close to what Molly had intended for them.