The Sugar Quill
Author: jncarlin  Story: First Impressions: Remus and Tonks  Chapter: Chapter 2: Introductions
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Chapter Two: Introductions

Chapter Two: Introductions

 

As she and her companions popped into existence in the alley that served as an Apparation point for Order headquarters, Tonks could feel the butterflies in her stomach doing somersaults. She hadn’t been this nervous since the first time she had taken the Auror examination.

 

Tonks didn’t have very many memories of Sirius Black, but the ones that she did have stood out vividly in her mind. She remembered that he was the only one of her relatives—other than her father—that would play tag with her. She remembered that he always made her laugh. And she remembered thinking that he was amazingly handsome. The Christmas that she was eight years old, she had asked her mum why cousin Sirius hadn’t come to Christmas dinner that year. Her mother had told her that he was away on business, and that she was sure he missed her very much. Gradually, as the months passed, she had stopped asking for Sirius. It wasn’t until the week before she started Hogwarts that her parents had told her the truth.

 

She had felt angry, confused, sad, hurt, and betrayed all at once. How could her fun and charming cousin have done something so horrible? Her confusion was only worsened when, the summer before her fifth year of school, she caught her mother writing a letter to Sirius.

 

“I’m sorry I hid this from you, Nymphadora,” Andromeda had said. “I just didn’t think you would understand.”

 

“You’re right!” Tonks had exclaimed. “I don’t understand. Do you write Aunt Bellatrix, too?”

 

“No, I’ve never written to my sister,” Andromeda had said, shaking her head.

 

“Then why Sirius? Why?”

 

“I’ve never been fully convinced that Sirius is guilty.”

 

“Of course he’s guilty!” Tonks had yelled. “They caught him red-handed!”

 

“The evidence against him isn’t as solid as the Ministry would like people to believe. And to this day, they have never granted him a trial.”

 

“A trial won’t change the fact that he’s guilty.”

 

Andromeda had given her daughter a long, hard look. “Someday, Nymphadora, you’ll learn that the truth isn’t always as simple as you would like it to be.”

 

The discussion had ended with Tonks storming away to her room to fume. Her Mother had continued to write Sirius twice a year, right up until his escape.

 

Mum will be so happy to know that she was right, thought Tonks as they left the alley. I don’t know how she knew it, but she was right. If only I could tell her. Tonks had long suspected that her mum’s intuition was so keen that she was just one step away from being a seer. It was a trait that Tonks had always wished she could have inherited. It would have been very helpful tonight, if she could magically know how Sirius was going to react to her.

 

Her butterflies seemed to be riding some sort of rollercoaster inside her belly as she emerged into a small, untidy square surrounded by dirty, run-down houses. Merlin, I need to calm down or I’m going to make a bleeding fool of myself. Tonks searched her mind for a thought that would soothe her nerves. As she glanced at Moody walking beside her, it came to her. He’s a one if I’ve ever seen one. She sniggered quietly, and Moody glared at her.

 

“What’s so funny, Tonks?” asked Kingsley from her other side. She looked at him with a smile. A solid seven, at least, she thought.

 

“Nothing,” she said, looking away. “Just a passing thought.”

 

“Well, keep your passing thoughts to yourself,” snarled Moody.

 

“No problem,” said Tonks, still smiling. Her silly game was apparently good for more than just some fun with Cory—her butterflies were already calming down. “So,” she asked, “will anyone else be there, or will it just be Sirius?”

 

“Not so loud,” said Moody.

 

Tonks rolled her eyes, and looked at Kingsley for an answer.

 

“Remus might be there,” said Kingsley.

 

“Remus?” she repeated.

 

“Remus Lupin,” said Kingsley. “He’s been staying with Sirius—keeping him company.”

 

“That name sounds so familiar,” she said. “I wonder if I’ve met him.”

 

“You might have met him when you were a girl,” replied Kingsley. “He and Sirius have been mates since their first year at Hogwarts. They were both in the Order together during the first war.”

 

Tonks nodded. “That must be it,” she said, but she still felt like she had heard or seen his name more recently. Maybe it would come back to her once she met him.

 

“We’re here,” said Moody, stopping in front of two houses, numbered eleven and thirteen. “Do you remember the address that Dumbledore told you?”

 

“Yes,” she said, thinking intently of number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London. The tall, squalid house materialized before her eyes, seeming to push the other two houses aside. Moody stepped up the front stairs, and tapped the weather-beaten black door with his wand. After the sound of several clicks and clatters, the door creaked slowly open.

 

Tonks followed Moody through the door, with Kingsley following close behind her. “Be quiet here in the entry hall,” he whispered to her.

 

“What for?” she whispered back, looking over her shoulder. Before Kingsley had a chance to answer, she felt her shin collide with something hard. She stumbled awkwardly forward as the thing, apparently an oversized umbrella-stand, toppled sideways, its contents clattering noisily to the ground.

 

With a deafening shriek, two tatty black curtains on the wall suddenly billowed forward, then swept themselves aside to reveal a massive portrait of a sallow-faced old woman in a black cap.

 

“For that!” called Kingsley over the shriek.

 

The woman in the portrait was foaming at the mouth, with wide wild eyes, as she continued to shriek. Filth! Foulness! Half-breeds! Mutants! How dare you cross my threshold! How dare you contaminate my hallowed home with your vileness! Scum! Freaks! Blood traitors! Begone from the halls that my fathers walked! Begone!” Other portraits on the wall of the long entry began to join in the clamor, until the noise was so immense that Tonks thought her ears might burst. She stood stunned, and open-mouthed, staring at the shrieking old woman before her, while Kingsley and Moody scurried about, sending silencing charms at the other portraits.

 

Suddenly, two tall strangers dashed past her, and each gripped one of the billowing velvet curtains on either side of the portrait. “Shut up, you bitch!” cried one of the men, as he and his companion struggled to pull the curtains closed.

 

You! You! Youuuuuu!” shrieked the portrait one last time as the curtains closed over her. At last, she fell silent.

 

The man who had yelled at the portrait turned to his companion, and spoke. “We really should do something more permanent about her, you know. I wonder if fire would do the trick?

 

“You’d likely just burn the house down around her. I think we’d better not try it,” said his companion.

 

“You ruin all my fun,” said the first man.

 

“Always glad to oblige,” said the second.

 

The first man turned to Tonks, who continued to stand in stunned silence. He looked her up and down with piercing grey eyes. “So,” he said, “you must be my cousin. Were you the one who caused all the racket?”

 

She nodded mutely. The butterflies had just started a dance-party in her stomach. “Sorry. I tripped.”

 

Sirius eyed the scattered umbrellas. “I see.”

 

The tension in the air was thick. Merlin, I need to calm down. She looked back up at the ragged velvet curtains. “So,” she said, with a dry mouth, “who’s the harpy?”

 

“You don’t even recognize your own family, cousin? That’s my dearest old mother.”

 

Tonks eyes opened a little wider. “Bugger.”

 

Sirius smiled. “My thoughts exactly. We just opened a bottle of wine. Would you like some?”

 

She nodded, trying to smile back. “Yes. That would be great.”

 

“Come on then,” he said, gesturing with a jerk of his head that she should follow him, and then headed down the hall.

 

Tonks hesitated for just a moment, and then hurried to follow. She heard the other men falling in behind her. The butterfly party in her gut was still going strong. Lord—I can’t believe I agreed to a glass of wine. I don’t know how I’ll keep it down.

 

Sirius led them down a dark staircase to a massive stone-walled basement kitchen, dominated by a long wooden table. At one end of the table sat an open bottle of wine and two half-empty glasses.

 

Tonks paused next to the table, and watched as Sirius went to one of the many cabinets lining the walls, and retrieved three more glasses.

 

“None for me,” quipped Moody.

 

“Naturally not. I just thought you might enjoy drinking that stale water of yours out of fine stemware, for a change. You must give my mother credit for something—she did have excellent taste in stemware,” replied Sirius.

 

Moody grunted.

 

The strange man—presumably Remus Lupin—had already taken a seat next to his glass of wine. He was a rather unremarkable fellow. His grey-flecked brown hair looked as if he’d gone slightly too long without a haircut, and he had a thin build, but without being athletic.  He was wearing a thread-bare brown jumper over a rumpled-looking white shirt. He reminded her very much of the proprietor of the used-book shop that she had frequented with her father when she was a girl. He hardly seemed the type to have been a boy-hood friend of the charming and boisterous cousin that she remembered.  He’s a five. Maybe five and one half, if he would get his hair trimmed, she thought suddenly. And once again, the silly old game began to quiet the butterflies in her stomach.

 

She studied Sirius more closely as he poured the wine. The Sirius of her memories was a solid eight and one half—possibly even a nine. In contrast, the Sirius of the wanted posters was no more than a three. This new Sirius, standing before her in the dim, warm kitchen was another matter altogether. His rich dark hair now hung long and loose around his shoulders. His face was thin and angular and pale. He was still a very arresting figure—but the extreme handsomeness of his youth had been leeched out of him during his long stay in Azkaban. Six and one half. Seven, when he smiles, she thought. Distancing herself from her present situation to perform this analysis calmed her butterflies considerably. They were now barely fluttering.

 

She took a seat across from Sirius and Lupin, with Moody and Kingsley sitting on either side of her. Sirius handed them all their glasses of wine. “Thank-you,” she said.

 

“Just doing my proper hostly duty,” Sirius, sitting down. “Is hostly a word?”

 

“Not likely,” grunted Moody.

 

“If the rest of us understand what you mean by it, then it counts. Communication is what really matters, don’t you thing?” said Kingsley.

 

“Thank you! I can communicate. It’s nice to have talents.”

 

Tonks smiled. Her cousin hadn’t lost his sense of humor. It was nice to know that someone could go through the worst life could throw at them, and still have the spirit to make jokes.

 

Sirius was studying her face intently. She sat quietly, watching him watching her. Finally, he spoke up. “You didn’t grow up quite the way I expected. I thought you’d look like your mum—tall and fair and statuesque. But you don’t really look like your mum at all. You look more like Ted.”

 

She felt her smile begin to falter, but then forced it back onto her face. “I’ve long since resigned myself to having inherited my father’s snub nose and freckles. Those don’t bother me so much, but I could have done without the chubby cheeks.” Years ago she had learned that self-mockery was the easiest way to cope with her insecurities about her appearance.

 

“I actually think you do look quite a bit like you mother,” said Lupin, unexpectedly. “Your eyes—they’re not quite the same color, but the shape, and the way they’re set in your face. Almost exactly like your mother’s.”

 

Tonks looked at him in bemusement. “You know my mother?” she asked.

 

“Knew her. A little—when we were in school. I’m Remus, by the way. Remus Lupin.” He stood, extending his hand across the table. She reached out to take his hand, and looked him in the eye.

 

“Good to meet you,” she said. His hand was warm, and strong. On closer inspection, his face was better-looking than she had originally given him credit for. Smile lines around his eyes lent an inviting friendliness to his appearance, and his eyes themselves held a vibrant twinkle—like a promise of things to come. Perhaps he’s a six after all—any man who compliments a strange woman’s eyes the first time they meet without coming across as a hackneyed flirt has to be more than a five.

 

“Damn,” said Sirius. “Introductions. I forgot the introductions. My hostly credibility is rapidly deteriorating.”

 

“It started deteriorating the moment you used the word hostly,” said Lupin, with a smile, returning to his seat.

 

Ignoring his friend, Sirius said, “Wait a minute—aren’t you…?” He was waving his index finger at her animatedly.

 

She raised her eyebrows. “Aren’t I …?”

 

“What I mean is,” said Sirius, “if you don’t like the freckles and the cheeks, couldn’t you just … whoosh?” He passed his hand quickly in front of his face, in an apparent attempt to mime morphing.

 

Tonks smile was real and genuine this time. “It’s more of a slurp, than a whoosh. And yes I could. And when I was younger, I used to. But for some time now I’ve had a personal policy that when I’m not on duty, I only wear my natural face. It’s a matter of self-respect.”

 

“That, and it helps clear up certain trust issues,” added Kingsley.

 

“Trust issues?” asked Sirius.

 

“For some reason, there are people who seem to have a hard time trusting a law enforcement official who never wears the same face twice,” said Tonks.

 

“Hell’s bells, girl, there are people everywhere who wouldn’t trust a metamorphmagus as far as they could throw her—no matter what her job is. That’s why you have to hold yourself to a higher standard,” said Moody, reiterating a lecture he’d already given her at least a half a dozen times.

 

“Thank you so much for that happy reminder, Mad-Eye. I really appreciate it,” said Tonks. She lifted her wine glass and took a far too large gulp. Moody really needed to learn to keep his opinions to himself.

 

“If she’s made it on to the Auror squad, then she’s already proven herself to be an exceptionally trustworthy witch, and anyone who feels otherwise is foolish—or ignorant—or both,” said Lupin, catching her off-guard again.

 

“Thank you,” she said. “Although, if some of my other colleagues knew I was here, they might disagree with you.”

 

“But they would be deeply mistaken,” replied Lupin. “You won’t do anything here that would violate your oath to the Ministry.”

 

“Except for the bit where I’m fraternizing with the Ministry’s most wanted fugitive.”

 

Sirius burst out in loud, barking laughter. “She’s got you there, Moony!”

 

Moony? Is that some sort of insult I’ve never heard before? Or is it a nickname?

 

“Indeed,” replied Lupin.

 

Nymphadora,” said Sirius enthusiastically, “I think that you and I are going to get along famously.”

 

“We very well might,” she said, staring him down as sternly as she could muster. “But first, you should know that I’m quite handy with an instant-scalping hex, and I won’t hesitate to use it if you ever call me that name again.” Her steely tone of voice was having the desired effect, as Sirius was staring at her in open-mouthed bewilderment.

 

“It’s Tonks,” she said. “Just Tonks.”

 

****

 

Remus struggled to hold back his grin at the girl’s deadly serious pronouncement. It seemed well practiced, and he had no doubt that she had used it to great effect in the past. He had found, however, that people who threatened to use instant scalping hexes and the like as payback for minor social slights were very rarely serious about it.

 

She was turning out to be much more of an enigma than he had expected. When he had first dashed upstairs to help silence the cantankerous Mrs. Black, he thought that Kingsley and Moody must have pulled a Muggle teenager off the streets as some sort of practical joke. The petite young woman staring with wide-eyed bewilderment at the portrait was clothed in well-worn jeans and a red and white tie-died tee-shirt, accented by some chunky bracelets and large hoop earrings. Her strawberry blonde hair was short and trendily tousled. She may wear her natural face, but Remus seriously doubted that she wore her natural hair—the color was nothing like that of any of her relatives.

 

Despite her unusual clothing, his greatest shock came when he got a good look at her face, and so clearly saw both of her parents looking back at him. He was afraid he had given away too much when he made the comment about her eyes, but she had actually seemed to appreciate it, and the others had let it slide. So the unusually large amount of time that he had spent studying Andromeda Black’s eyes when he was only twelve would still remain a secret.

 

For nearly a decade, starting his first year at Hogwarts, Andromeda had been held as the ideal of female beauty in his mind. Of course, he had never confessed it to Sirius, or any of his other friends. He felt glad that Sirius hadn’t told him of Tonks’ visit until the last minute, or he surely would have spent so much time wondering about what Andromeda’s daughter must be like, that he would have made himself half-sick with nervous curiosity.

 

And she was nothing like he would have expected.

 

Sirius recovered himself from his brief shock at her sudden pronouncement, and barked a few laughs. “Tonks, it is, then. I see you didn’t inherit the Black family fondness for ridiculous names.”

 

She smiled—a very pretty smile, that made her look even more like her mother. “Not at all,” she said, shaking her head. “But much to my chagrin, my mother did. And I’ve paid the price my whole life.”

 

“I don’t think it’s such a bad name,” said Remus, impulsively.

 

She looked at him with raised eyebrows. “Oh really?”

 

“Really,” said Remus, teasing her.

 

“Best watch it, Moony, or you might find yourself suddenly bald,” interjected Sirius.

 

“Learn from my example, Remus,” said Kingsley with a broad grin, running his man over his smooth scalp. During their years at Hogwarts together, Kingsley had proudly sported a large afro. “I called her by her Christian name a few too many times, and now look at me.”

 

Remus chuckled along with the others as Tonks gave Kingsley a playful swat on his shoulder.

 

“Keep in mind, you’re talking to a Sirius and a Remus, here Tonks,” said Sirius. “You don’t exactly have the monopoly on strange names in this room.”

 

“But I do seem to have the monopoly on hated names,” she replied.

 

“True,” he said. Sirius appeared to be delighted with his young cousin. Remus was glad—Sirius needed all the friends he could get right now.

 

“So, just Tonks,” continued Sirius, “what in the world made you decide to defy family tradition, and become an Auror?”

 

“Hmmm,” she said, with a playfully thoughtful expression on her face. “I think that defying family tradition was a large part of the appeal.” Remus smiled. She may be following in Sirius’ infamous footsteps after all, he thought. “I also liked the idea of adventure, and justice,” she continued. “I thought I might help balance the Black-family cosmic scales a bit—they were tipping too far to the dark side, so I jumped on board the light side.”

 

“Here, here!” injected Sirius. “I felt the same way myself.”

 

“Funny you should mention that,” said Tonks. “You see, those were all my reasons for becoming an Auror up until the time you escaped from Azkaban. And from then on, I only had one goal in my mind: to be the one that captures Sirius Black.” Her face had grown somber, her voice icy. “And now,” she said, “I finally have you.” She stared intently at Sirius, who tensed up, and grew even paler.

 

Moody and Kingsley were both talking at once. “You’ve betrayed us! You’ve betrayed us all!” came Moody’s growl as Kingsley said, “You wouldn’t dare, Tonks. We outnumber you four to one.”

 

Remus felt a cold knot in his stomach as he stared at the girl’s serious face, until he noticed a slight upward twitch at the corners of her mouth. He had seen that exact same expression hundreds of times before—on the face of her cousin, Sirius, whenever he had just pulled a successful prank. Remus watched as the twitch started growing into a genuine smile—and then he knew for certain. His mouth cracked into a grin, and he started laughing.

 

Tonks looked at him with a twinkle in her eyes, and finally allowed her smile to fully blossom as she joined in his laughter. “At least someone around here has a sense of humor!” she said. “I was beginning to think that fugitive humor must be against some sort of rule!”

 

Sirius stared at her with his mouth hanging open, and then burst into laughter. “Sweet Merlin—you had me going there!” He continued to laugh around his words, almost choking on them. “And Mad-eye,” he wheezed around his guffaws, “I thought you’d throw a fit right here on the table!”

 

Remus and Tonks continued to laugh along with him, as Moody let loose a string of semi-intelligible curses. “Kingsley,” said Tonks, “you should have seen the look on your face! I thought you were about to obliviate me back to my childhood!” She pounded her hands on the table in apparent glee.

 

Kingsley scowled. “That wasn’t very funny, Tonks.”

 

“Oh yes it was!” said Sirius. “It was the funniest bloody thing I’ve heard in months!” He chuckled a few more times.

 

Moody’s face was red, and his magical eye was spinning out of control in its socket. “You’ve got no sense of propriety, girl. None at all.”

 

Tonks huffed at Moody, and Remus felt like it was time to step in. “I hate to say it, Tonks, but Alastor does have a valid point.”

 

She looked stunned. “But—you were the first one to start laughing!”

 

Remus nodded. “It was the easiest way to stop Alastor from hexing you senseless. I appreciate the humor, but your timing was a little inappropriate.”

 

Tonks looked annoyed. Sirius quickly jumped to her defense. “Her timing was perfect, Moony. If she’d waited any longer, none of us would have taken her seriously.”

 

“My point exactly,” said Remus. From the look on Tonks’ face, any rapport he had built with her earlier was quickly eroding.

 

“No harm was done,” said Kingsley, “but it could have been. I know you’re prone to using humor when you’re nervous—which is fine. But like Remus said, your timing needs a little work.”

 

“Oh stop being a bunch of stuffed shirts,” said Sirius. He turned to Tonks. “Let’s you and I go find a cozy corner somewhere to drink our wine and share some more laughs together, and leave these old curmudgeons down here to scowl at each other.”

 

Tonks smile began to come back, but Moody snorted. “This old curmudgeon has had enough of you lot for one night,” he said, standing. “I’m going home.”

 

Kingsley rose also. “I’ll go as well—I’ve got work in the morning.” He looked sharply at Tonks. “Do you promise not to arrest our host when I’m gone?”

 

“I promise,” she said, rolling her eyes.

 

“Good. Then I’ll leave you in your cousin’s capable hands. You two have a lot of catching up to do.”

 

Kingsley bid his farewells, Moody grunted and shook his head at them, and the two men exited up the stairs.

 

Tonks grew quiet again, her eyes on her cousin across the table from her. Both of them looked like they had a million thoughts flying through their heads, and no idea where to start talking about them. Their gaze at each other was intensely personal, and Remus began to feel as if he was intruding.

 

“Well,” he began, “it seems as if there is only one old curmudgeon left to intrude upon your privacy.” He rose from his seat. “I ought to leave you two alone.”

 

Sirius didn’t object, but Tonks looked up at him with an almost pleading expression in her eyes. “You don’t have to go, if you don’t want to,” she said.

 

Remus felt sorry for the girl. He could tell that she was intensely nervous. The news of Sirius’ innocence must have come as a greater shock than she was letting on. He knew from his own experience that it took a while to feel comfortable around Sirius again, while one was still trying to get rid of the last traces of habitual bitterness and anger toward him. But the best way to do it was just to spend time with him. And now was her best chance.

 

“It’s no trouble,” he said. “I’ve some reading I’ve been meaning to do, and like Kingsley said, the two of you have a great deal of catching up to do. I think it would be best if I left you to it.”

 

“Goodnight, Sirius,” Remus said with a nod as he rounded the table.

 

“ ‘Night, Moony,” replied Sirius, still looking at Tonks.

 

As he passed her, Remus lightly touched Tonks’ shoulder. “It’s been good to meet you. I’m looking forward to seeing more of you around here, from now on.”

 

She looked up at him, with a nervous smile. “Thanks. It’s good to meet you, too, Remus.”

 

He gave her an encouraging smile, and a nod, and headed up the stairs. Sirius had once been very close to the Tonks family, and it was time for that bond to be renewed. He could tell that Nymphadora still felt uneasy about the situation, but given what he had seen of her personality, Remus had no doubt that she and Sirius would soon be fast friends. I wouldn’t mind having her for a friend, myself. He thought. This house could do with more friendship and laughter, and so could I.

 

Remus slowly made his way up to the library, to find his book. But his mind was elsewhere, remembering the Sirius of all those years ago, and wondering if Tonks would be the one to help bring that old Sirius back to life.

 

****

 

When Remus first left her alone with Sirius, Tonks felt as if the butterflies were about to restart the dance-party in her gut. But a little more wine and his relaxed attitude soon set her at ease. At first they kept the conversation light, swapping stories of their varied misadventures back in their school days. Sirius and his “Marauders” sounded like quite an interesting gang. After a few anecdotes about them, she began to better understand Lupin’s friendship with Sirius—clearly he was not as straight-laced as he appeared. One of Sirius’s stories involved Lupin accepting a dare to expose his back-side to a group of older Slytherin girls. Tonks had little doubt that this was the origin of his rather bizarre nickname.

 

Not long after opening the second bottle of wine they started getting more personal. Sirius told her about a few old girlfriends, and she told him about her old boyfriends, and about Simon. And then they began to talk about their parents. Sirius told her all about growing up as the black sheep in the family, and about what it was like to leave home so young. And Tonks told him about growing up with an overprotective, controlling, secretive mother.

 

By the time they had started on the third bottle, things were getting even more serious. He told her a little about losing his friends, and his freedom, all in one week. And he talked a little about his godson, Harry. Then she told him about her mother. She told him about all the letters to the Ministry, and asked him if he’d received the other letters—the letters to him. When he said yes, he sounded like he was about to cry.

 

That was when she decided that they had had more than enough wine, and changed the subject by telling a silly story about going robe-shopping with her mum. He seemed relieved.

 

When she suggested that it was time for her to go home, he insisted that she stay over in one of the guest rooms, and she reluctantly agreed. He showed her to her room, and bid her goodnight.

 

She flopped down onto the large bed, and lay for several minutes starting up at the heavy canopy overhead. Her head was spinning with wine and wild thoughts. Finally, she decided that there was no way she was going to fully process the events of the evening before sobering up, and there was no way she was going to sober up without sleeping, and there was no way she was going to sleep without getting the taste of wine out of her mouth.

 

She stumbled out of bed, opened her door, and ambled down the dark hall toward the loo that Sirius had pointed out to her. Once there, she conjured herself a toothbrush and scrubbed her mouth. She washed her face, and then opened the door and headed back into the hall, where she promptly ran headlong into a tall dark shape.

 

She let out a silly, startled shriek, and fell backwards, landing soundly on her bottom. “Ouch!” she said, peering up through the dim light to see Remus Lupin standing above her.

 

“Are you all right?” he asked, a concerned look on his face.

 

“I’ve survived worse,” she replied, trying to push herself back to her feet.

 

“Here, let me help you,” he said, reaching down and taking her arm.

 

“Thanks,” she said, as he gently eased her to her feet. Merlin, he’s tall, she thought, looking up at his face.

 

“I thought you’d have left by now,” he said.

 

“When I said I’d come back tomorrow to help you two finish getting this place ready for the Weasley invasion, Sirius said I might as well just stay the night. So here I am.”

 

“Lovely. So do you know the Weasleys, then?”

 

“Yes. I used to be friends with Charlie. He’s the second oldest.”

 

Lupin nodded at her. He raised one eyebrow. “Just friends?”

 

“No. Yes. What bloody business is it of yours, anyway?”

 

“Sorry,” he said with a smile. “Just my insatiable curiosity speaking. Forget I said anything.”

 

Lord, his dimples are adorable when he smiles. Those dimples are almost enough to make him a seven.

 

She hadn’t even realized she was staring until he said, “Tonks?”

 

“What?” She blinked a few times, coming out of her dimple-induced reverie. “Sorry,” she said quickly. “I’m a little tipsy. And tired. Tired and tipsey.” She giggled. “I think I need to sleep now.”

 

“I think you’re right.”

 

They edged around each other in the narrow hall, and Tonks gave him a little wave. “Goodnight, Remus.”

 

“Goodnight—Nymphadora,” he said. The last thing she saw was a mischievous grin on his face as he stepped into the loo and shut the door behind him.

 

She stood in stunned silence. He hardly knows me! What makes him think he has the right to tease me like that?

 

Still pondering the cheekiness of one Remus Lupin, she stumbled back to her room, and climbed into bed. It wasn’t until she was about to drift off to sleep that she realized he had been wearing pajamas decorated with a pattern of Quidditch-playing dinosaurs. Her last conscious thoughts were:  What a bizarre man. But he does have nice dimples.

 

//
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