The Sugar Quill
Author: jncarlin  Story: Transformations  Chapter: Chapter 1: Girl Talk
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

December, 1995

Author’s Notes: I owe a great deal of thanks to my wonderful beta reader Shimotsuki for all her help and advice. This story picks up right where my story "Marauders Redux" left off, but I worked hard to make sure that no prior reading in this fic-universe is necessary to enjoy and understand "Transformations." But anyone interested in going back to the earlier stories can find them on my author page.

 

 

Chapter 1: Girl Talk

 

 

Tonks was flying. Soaring over the brilliant green of an unknown Quidditch pitch, her bat held at the ready in her right hand. Which made no sense, of course, because she hadn’t played Quidditch in more than a year. And her Quidditch robes were purple, but she had never played for a team that wore purple.

 

Sirius soared by on his broom—only it wasn’t the Sirius that she was used to. This Sirius was blond and blue-eyed. Since when was he blond? Since Bill and I brewed him that Polyjuice Potion for his birthday. But we weren’t taking him to play Quidditch—we were taking him to a Weird Sisters’ concert.

 

A yellow-robed Chaser surged past her and passed the Quaffle to one of his team mates. With a start she realized that her opponents were both members of the Weird Sisters. Oh—I must be dreaming. That explains things.

 

She looked around for her teammates. There was Bill, and just beyond him was Fleur defending the goals. And Sirius was still zipping around, trying to intercept the Quaffle. But someone was missing. Where was Remus?

 

For her at least, Remus had been just as much the point of their illicit trip to the concert as Sirius had been. She had been determined to find out once and for all whether or not all of his flirting really meant he was as interested in her as she was in him.

 

And she still wasn’t sure. Yes, he had continued to flirt with her. But he also temporarily abandoned her with a group of her old school chums, and allowed her to be pursued by a vulgar Quidditch player without coming to her rescue.

 

But then he danced with her. And held her close. And ran his fingers through her hair. And said the most beautiful things. And for a while, she thought he might even kiss her. But Sirius had interrupted right at the crucial moment and ruined everything. Damn him!

 

And now she was dreaming about Quidditch and Remus was nowhere to be seen.

 

She urged her broom forward to chase a stray Bludger, and swung hard at it with her bat. The hit was good, and the Bludger barreled toward another yellow-clad Weird Sister. Suddenly two other players shot past her head. She looked up at them. It was Remus! He and Myron Wagtail were chasing the Golden Snitch!

 

A glance to her side showed her that the two Weird Sisters’ Beaters were batting the Bludger back and forth, and seemed to be setting up a shot to send the thing flying right at Remus.

 

“Watch out for the damn Bludger!” she cried after him.

 

He looked over his shoulder and swerved just in the nick of time as the Bludger went soaring past him in a narrow miss.

 

Tonks breathed deeply in relief. That would have been a very hard hit—it could have knocked him from his broom!

 

Remus made a u-turn and pulled his broom up alongside hers. “Thank you!” he said with a brilliant smile. “I appreciate your help.”

 

“You can have my help anytime you want it,” she replied.

 

“Oh good. I’ve been meaning to ask you for some help with a little problem I’ve been having.”

 

“What sort of problem?”

 

“This,” he said, pushing up the sleeve of his robes and holding out his arm. The small freckles dotting his arm were all a brilliant shade of green.

 

She blinked in surprise as they suddenly changed to pink, and then to orange, and then back to green.

 

“I can’t seem to make them stop,” he said. “Do you think it’s some kind of spontaneous morphing? Is there such a thing as adult-onset metamorphmagus talents?”

 

Tonks shook her head. “I don’t know. But is this really the best time to be talking about this? We’re in the middle of a match.”

 

Remus shrugged. “You said you would help me.”

 

“I didn’t mean right now.” A tiny golden glint caught her eye. “The Snitch!” She pointed.

 

Remus held out his arm in front of her again and waved it. “My freckles!”

 

“Get the Snitch, you idiot!”

 

“Not until you help me with my freckles!”

 

“Ugh!” she grunted in disgust. She turned and urged her broom after the Snitch. She would just have to catch it herself.

 

“Nymphadora!” Remus called after her. She ignored him, and continued to zoom after the Snitch.

 

Then his voice sounded again, this time right in her ear. “Nymphadora…Nymphadora…”

 

She jerked, opened her eyes, and took a sharp breath. As the room came into focus, she realized that she was lying on a sofa, with her head in someone’s lap.

 

“What? What?” she said, shaking the sleep from her head. She stared upward, and saw Remus looking right down at her with a smile on his face. Oh, Merlin! Why the hell was I sleeping with my head in Remus’s lap?

 

 “Remus? What are you…? Where are we?” she asked.

           

“We fell asleep in the parlor, remember?” he prompted, still smiling at her.

           

“Oh… yeah. Sirius and his damned bottle of wine.” He had insisted on pulling a bottle of the good wine out of his cellar after they got back from the concert, and for some reason she let him talk her into a glass even though she was already more than a little drunk. Lord, my mouth tastes horrible.

 

She struggled to sit up. A sharp pain shot through her forehead, right between her eyes. “Oh God, my head!” she said, covering her eyes with one hand, and bracing herself up with the other. “I am never going drinking with Sirius again!” And I still have no idea how I ended up asleep in Remus’s lap. Just how drunk did I get?

 

“How about I go down to the kitchen and make us a pot of strong black coffee?” suggested Remus.

           

“Yes, please.” She rubbed her head again. The pain was receding slightly. Coffee? Is it morning already?

           

As he stood, she asked, “What time is it, anyway?”

           

“It’s about half-past eleven.”

           

She gasped in alarm. He couldn’t be right. “No! You’re kidding me!”

           

“The clock’s right there.” He pointed.

 

She looked over at the clock. It confirmed her worst fears. “Oh no, no, no, no, noooo!” she moaned, putting her face in her hands.

           

“What is it? Have you missed something important?”

           

“Not yet,” she said. “But I almost wish I had. I’ve got a twelve-thirty lunch appointment with my mum. She wants to take me shopping in Diagon Alley. If I’d slept through it I’d just have to apologize, but since I’m already awake, I feel obliged to rush and actually get there on time. Uhhg!” The last thing she wanted right now was to see her mum. What she did want was a few more hours of sleep, a hangover remedy, and a toothbrush. Not to mention a chance to figure out just how she ended up passing out on Remus’s lap.

           

 “Can’t you just skip it, and tell her later that you slept through it?”

           

She shook her head violently. “Oh no. I can’t lie to my mum—ever. She can always tell. It’s this awful sixth sense she has.” She couldn’t even count the number of times her mum had seen right through whatever elaborate and well-constructed lie she had thought of. It was uncanny.

           

“But you must lie to her all the time about the Order.”

           

“No,” she said honestly. “I’ve told her enough of the truth to keep her satisfied. But I think she’s beginning to have her suspicions about Sirius being involved—she just hasn’t confronted me about it yet. Sometimes she’ll let me get away with holding back part of the truth—but I can never get away with an outright lie. Never. Ooof!” She hauled herself to her feet. “I really have to get going.”

           

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay long enough for me to make some coffee?” Remus asked as she stumbled to the table where she had left her jacket and pulled it on.   

 

“Can’t spare the time.” She picked up her bag. “My mum’s always been very strict about punctuality, and the last thing I need today is one of her lectures. Which means I have about…” She glanced at the clock again. “…fifty minutes to shower and primp and get to Diagon Alley for our lunch together.” She nearly tripped on Sirius, who was curled up on a rug, snoring. At least I wasn’t as drunk as him!

           

“It’ll only take five minutes—I promise. You really look like you need some caffeine.” Why was Remus being so insistent this morning? What was going on?

           

“Do I really look that hungover?” she asked, glancing in the nearby mirror. She gasped in surprise and raised a hand to touch the limp tendrils of mousey-brown hair flopping shapelessly against her neck.

           

“My God!” she uttered. “I really must have been drunk to let it go back to this!” She’d taken great pains to make sure Remus never saw her like this, and now it was all ruined. No wonder he was so worried. She looked like the living dead.

           

“Nymphadora?” asked Remus. “Is this … how should I put this? Is this your… original hair? The hair you were born with?”

           

She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. “Unfortunately, yes.” She turned away from the mirror. “Is it any wonder that I avoid going brunette, when this,” she pointed at the brown hair, “is what I have to look at every time I’m exhausted, or sick, or drunk? It’s hideous.”

           

“It’s not hideous.” He was very good at looking sincere, even when she knew he couldn’t possibly mean it.       

 

“Yes, it is!” She strode out of the room and down the hall toward the front entrance. “If Mum sees me like this she’ll know for sure that I was up to no good last night. I really, really need that shower.”

.

She bit her bottom lip, and fumbled with the buttons of jacket. She must have been horribly pissed last night, and did who knew what in front of Remus before passing out on him. And now she woke up looking and smelling like an inferius. What must he think of her after this? All she wanted was to escape. She reached the front door, and noticed that she’d missed a button and fastened her jacket all wrong. Damn! But it would be too obvious to fix it now. She took a deep breath, and started the lengthy process of unlatching the door. As she opened it to step outside, she said over her shoulder, “See ya later, Remus.”

           

“Wait,” he said urgently, grabbing one of her wrists.

           

“Hey!” She was shocked by his sudden movement. “What is wrong with you this morning?”

           

Remus’s expression was unfathomable. “It’s just … I just…” He paused.

           

Then, with another swift movement, he reached forward, took her face in his free hand, and kissed her.

           

Her eyes widened, and an involuntary squeak emerged from her lips before she could stop it. He seemed surprised, and she was afraid he was about to pull away. No! He can’t stop now! We’ve only just started!  She reached up to grab his neck with her free hand, and leaned into him, throwing herself enthusiastically into the kiss.

 

She’d wondered so many times over the past few months what it would be like to kiss Remus, and now it was actually happening. She felt dizzy and weak, like she was about to fall over.

 

Remus wrapped his arm around her waist, steadying her and pulling her tight against his body. She felt a heady rush of excitement surge through her as his lips moved eagerly against hers.

 

Far too soon, he broke off the kiss and pulled back to look down at her. He looked flushed, and a boyish smile danced on his lips. Tonks took a few deep breaths to clear her head. She still felt weak, and unstable. She was glad to have his arms around her.

           

“Are you all right?” he asked.

 

She smiled, and giggled nervously. “Yeah.”

           

“Are you sure you’re well enough to Apparate?”

           

“Apparate?” Where would she want to go, when she could stay here in his arms? “Why would I want to App Oh shit! Lunch with Mum! I can’t believe I still have to go to lunch with Mum. And now I’m going to be late for certain!” The last thing she wanted right now was to have to face her mother.

           

“It’s all right, Nymphadora. Just take your time. A little lecture on punctuality never killed anyone. Just go and try to relax, and have a good afternoon with your mother.”

           

She nodded slowly, releasing her grip on his shoulder. So he wanted her to go. Or did he? “When can I … when should I… can I come back tonight?” she asked.

 

The eager brightness in his eyes encouraged her, but his response wasn’t quite what she had hoped. “Tonight,” he said, “we should probably both get to sleep early. I think we both need it.”

           

She began to slump with disappointment until he added, “But, I am very much looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.”

 

“Tomorrow!” She smiled again, standing up straighter. “Yes. Tomorrow. Tomorrow night! I can’t make it over until tomorrow night. If that’s okay with you?”

           

“Tomorrow night sounds excellent. I’ll be waiting for you.”

           

“Waiting.” She giggled again. “Waiting for me. Lovely.” Merlin, I sound like a silly little girl. I really need some sleep. Ohhh…and I a can just imagine the wonderful dreams I’ll have.

           

“I’ll see you then,” he said, slowly stepping back and carefully releasing her as if he was afraid that she would fall and hurt herself.

           

“See you—whoa!” As she stepped back from him she missed the step down from the door. He leapt forward and caught her shoulders before she hit the pavement.

           

“Clumsy oaf!” she exclaimed. “Me… not you!” Why do I always have to do this in front of him? But at least I got to touch him again.

           

 “Do you need me to walk you to the Apparition point?”

           

She shook her head in embarrassment. “No! No—really. I’m fine. Just wasn’t watching, that’s all. I’m fine. I’ll see you tomorrow night. Bye!” She flicked him a short wave, and turned, taking a deep breath and straightening her back, to stride purposefully toward the nearby alley used by the Order for discreet Apparition.  She was determined to quit the scene before she made even more of a fool of herself.

 

But fate and a stretch of uneven pavement was against her. She caught her foot on a rough patch, stumbled, and landed against the wall of the nearest house.

 

She closed her eyes and shook her head in amazement at the seeming boundlessness of her wretched clumsiness. She took a deep breath, and turned back with another wave. “I’m fine! Really. I’m fine. I’m just… going. Now.”  She scooted into the Alley, concentrated on the sitting room of her flat, and Apparated.

 

Her head was spinning when she reappeared in her flat, and she quickly looked over herself to make sure she hadn’t splinched. Everything appeared to be intact, and she breathed a sigh of relief. She closed her eyes and gave herself a moment to think back over the events of the past quarter hour.

 

Apparently the answer to her burning question “Is Remus really interested in me?” was a resounding “Yes!”

 

She still didn’t know quite what she did last night, but whatever it was, it must have worked. With a little smile on her face she began to hum a happy tune, and started shedding her clothes. It was time for that shower.

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

Andromeda Tonks sat at a table for two inside a small café on Diagon Alley, tapping her finger impatiently on the table and staring intently at the entry-door. As it opened, she caught her breath in anticipation, only to let it out in a frustrated huff as two older gentlemen entered. Where was that confounded daughter of hers? She had, as usual arrived five minutes early for her lunch appointment with Nymphadora. And, as usual, her daughter was running late—more than ten minutes late this time. That was five minutes later than usual.

 

Andromeda knew that Nymphadora considered her strict ideas of promptness to be silly, but this was pushing things a little too far. She took a sip of her tea, and perused the menu for what felt like the fiftieth time. Finally, only fourteen minutes after their agreed meeting time, Nymphadora walked into the café.  She hastily made her way to Andromeda's table, and sat down with a graceless plop.

 

"Wotcher, Mum," she said. "Sorry I'm so late. I was tidying up the flat, and I completely lost track of time." 

 

Andromeda winced at the ugly word that her daughter seemed to think passed for “hello,” and took a hard look at the tousled carrot-orange hair, rumpled Holyhead Harpies t-shirt, and oversized green cardigan. She could hear Ted’s voice in her head, telling her to let it go—just this once. But she couldn’t quite do it. "We both know that's not true, Nymphadora."

 

Nymphadora rolled her eyes. "Fine. So I slept late. So what?"

 

Andromeda clenched her jaw, and listened to her inner-Ted tell her that after the row the two of them had two weeks ago when Nymphadora showed up at the charity auction with neon green hair, she wouldn’t take kindly to another lecture right now. Andromeda took a few deep breaths through her nose, and slowly unclenched her jaw. The past few months had been a difficult but rewarding time because, for the first time in nearly eight years, she and her daughter were talking and visiting on a regular basis. She was determined not to ruin this new rapport over something insignificant. "It's all right, dear," she forced herself to say. "You work very hard, and I know that you need extra rest when you have time off."

 

"Yeah. Thanks," said Nymphadora, looking slightly surprised. Andromeda smiled.  She always enjoyed catching her daughter off her guard.

 

Their waiter approached, and took their orders. After he collected their menus and left, Andromeda looked expectantly at her daughter. "So, how has your week gone?"

 

"It's gone well. It's gone well," said Nymphadora, toying with her spoon. Could the girl never sit still? "Nothing much exciting at work. Just the usual batch of dark wizard accusations to look into. I did catch one craggy old bloke trying to breed Acromantulas, but I had to turn the case over to the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures." She shrugged. "Other than that, it's just been the usual."

 

Andromeda couldn't help but smile at her daughter's casual description of her workday.  Nymphadora was always casual about these things. "Your usual is everyone else’s terrifying and intense."

 

Nymphadora smiled back at her mother. "You really have the wrong idea about my job, Mum. You seem to think I get in desperate battles every single day, when really it's only once or twice a month."

 

Andromeda chuckled. Her daughter’s sense of humor was so much like Ted’s that sometimes Andromeda felt like she could have the same conversation with either of them, and they would each give exactly the same responses. "So was it a desperate battle that kept you out late last night?" she asked.

 

Nymphadora lowered her eyes to the table, and bit her lip lightly, the way she always did when she was about to say something she knew Andromeda wouldn't like. "Last night wasn't business," she said. "Last night was fun."

 

"Did you have a date?" asked Andromeda eagerly. Although she knew that there were still plenty of witches and wizards her daughter's age who hadn't yet settled down, she couldn't help but remind herself daily that Nymphadora was already five years older than she had been when she was married, and was still very definitely single. She wanted her daughter to find someone she could be happy with, and she also very much wanted at least one grandchild.

 

Nymphadora shrugged. "I just went out with a few friends."

 

"Were some of those friends male?" asked Andromeda.

 

Nymphadora swirled her water around in her class. "They all were."

 

Andromeda's hopes sunk a little. Nymphadora had always been something of a tomboy, and her circle of friends still reflected that tendency. "Oh."

 

Nymphadora fidgeted a little more. In fact she was fidgeting quite a bit more than usual, which was saying a lot.  Andromeda had always been very good at reading her daughter's body language. "Is one of those male friends someone that you might like to be more than just a friend?"

 

Nymphadora shrugged again. "Yeah. I'm pretty interested in him."

 

"And is he interested in you?" Unfortunately, at just that moment their waiter returned with their meals. Nymphadora was easily able to use the food as an excuse to deflect conversation in another direction. As they ate, they casually chatted about work and old family friends, and Granny Tonks’s health.

 

"I don't know how you can stand to eat that," said Andromeda, pointing with her fork at Nymphadora’s plate. They had both ordered curries; however Andromeda had ordered hers mild, and Nymphadora had ordered hers extra hot. "It’s like pouring fire right down your throat. It’ll burn up the lining of your stomach, you know."

 

Nymphadora shrugged again. That was a very annoying habit of hers. Andromeda would have to point it out to her sometime—but not today. Today she still wanted to find out more about this new man in her daughter's life. "I'll just have the blokes at St. Mungo's re-grow it for me," said Nymphadora.

 

Andromeda shook her head. "You and your father. I never cook anything spicy enough for him."

 

"Great minds think alike," said Nymphadora. "Or should it be, great tongues taste alike?" She popped another forkful of the curry into her mouth.

 

Andromeda smiled. "So where did you and your friends go last night?"

 

"A concert."

 

As much as Andromeda wished that her daughter meant a symphony, or perhaps a string quartet, she was certain that guitars, drums, and alcohol were far more likely. A sudden thought crossed her mind. "Was it that Weird Sisters concert?" she asked.

 

"Yes, actually, it was. I didn't know you kept up to date on their concert appearances."

 

"I don't," said Andromeda. "The Prophet ran a piece about it this morning. It seems the concert was interrupted by a false alarm that nearly started a riot. Someone claims to have seen Sirius Black in the crowd. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"

 

"He'd be a fool to show his face at a crowded concert." Nymphadora looked down at her plate, and took another bite. She was being evasive again.

 

"Sirius always was a bit of a fool when it came to good parties," said Andromeda. They sat in silence for a moment. "When are you going to tell me the whole truth about Sirius, Nymphadora? I know you've seen him. You've probably even talked to him. I just want to know if he's all right. Please?"

 

They sat in silence for a long moment as Nymphadora finished chewing her bite, swallowed, and took a sip of water. Andromeda didn’t really expect an answer, so she was shocked when Nymphadora looked back up and quietly said, "He's fine, Mum. You don't need to worry about him." Andromeda took a deep breath. This was the best confirmation she'd ever been able to get out of her daughter. She'd suspected for months that Nymphadora knew something about Sirius's whereabouts, and that, miraculously, she had come around to sharing Andromeda's long-standing conviction that Sirius was innocent. But prior to today all she'd gotten out of her were evasive non-answers.

 

"Thank you," she whispered. They sat in silence for a few moments longer. "Do you think...that I can see him?"

 

Nymphadora looked at her plate again. "Maybe. I'm not sure. I'll have to look into it."

 

"You mean you'll have to ask Dumbledore's permission."

 

Her daughter didn't answer, but she knew it was the truth. Eighteen years ago, Albus Dumbledore had asked Ted and herself to join a secret vigilante society that he had formed to fight He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named without the bureaucratic hindrances of the Ministry getting in the way. They had declined. The safety of their daughter, and of Ted's Muggle relatives, had been far too important to risk themselves like that. But she was certain that now, after Harry Potter's unexpected declaration that the Dark Lord had returned, Dumbledore had re-formed his society. And she was equally certain that her daughter and her fugitive cousin were a part of it.

 

"Very well then," she said. "You look into it. The sooner the better."

 

Nymphadora nodded.

 

They finished their food, in near-silence, and left the restaurant. "So," said Andromeda, trying to break the ice, "I thought we could stop by Gladrags and pick out something nice for your Aunt Cissy's Christmas party. You are coming, this year, aren't you?" Nymphadora had long ago refused to attend any event, or visit, or meal, or errand that brought her inside Malfoy Manor. But after getting her promotion to Junior Auror more than a year ago, her father had finally convinced her to start coming to the annual Malfoy Christmas party. She conceded that it would be good for her reputation. Last year she hadn’t stayed for long—she just made a token appearance, had a drink or two, and then slipped out a side door. But at least she came. Andromeda was hoping for more this year.

 

"Yeah, I'm coming." Nymphadora sounded unenthusiastic but willing, which was as much as Andromeda could hope for. She was looking into the various shop windows as they passed. She had seemed distracted all during lunch, and her mind still didn't seem on the task at hand. Andromeda wondered just how late she was out last night.

 

"Good!" Andromeda said. "Cissy is always glad when the whole family can make it."

 

Nymphadora nodded disinterestedly. A few minutes later they had arrived at Gladrags.  They went inside the shop, and started browsing through the racks of fancy dress robes.  "This one’s lovely," said Andromeda, holding up a deep purple robe embellished with lighter purple embroidery.

 

"It's nice," replied Nymphadora, barely glancing at the robe. Andromeda noticed that her daughter was fingering a glittery silver robe. She certainly hoped that was not what she wanted to buy for the Malfoys’s party.  Something like that would never do.

 

After a few more minutes of browsing, Andromeda pulled another robe off the rack. It was a tightly fitted deep green, with flowing skirts, a low neck line, and long loose sleeves of a translucent material. "What about this one? It’s a beautiful color," she said.

 

Nymphadora looked at the robe, her eyes lighting up with excitement. It seemed that they had found something to agree on. Nymphadora walked over, and took the robe in her hands, fingering the soft material. "This fabric is wonderful. I really like this one."

 

"Why don't you try it on?" Andromeda led her to the changing room. A few minutes later, Nymphadora was decked out in the new robe.

 

She turned and swirled before the large mirror. "This is perfect," she said, smiling at herself.  "And I have the perfect hair to go with it." With a small scrunch of her face, she morphed her short pink hair into a sleek auburn that hung around her jaw. "What you think?" she asked.

 

"You look stunning," said Andromeda. "It's just right for the occasion." And it was. She had rarely seen her daughter looking so lovely. "So shall I get it, then?"

 

Nymphadora quickly shook her head. "You don't have to pay for it, Mum," she said.  "Junior Aurors make pretty good money. I can buy it myself."

 

"I still like to treat you once in a while," said Andromeda. "Please, indulge your old Mum for once?"

 

Nymphadora cracked her first genuine smile of the day. "Okay. Thank you." Andromeda felt a warm rush in her chest. This must be what it wass like for all her girlfriends who were always talking about fun outings with their daughters. It was nice to finally experience it.

 

As the sales assistance was boxing up the robe for them, Andromeda asked, "Do you think you would like to bring that friend of yours to the party this year?"

 

"Lord no," was her instant reply. "No offense, but I just don't think he would fit in there."

 

Andromeda knew better than to ask, but she had her own ways of figuring things out.  "Well, maybe you could bring him to our New Year's party instead."

 

Nymphadora nodded thoughtfully. "Maybe. You tend to have a more open-minded crowd there."

 

Andromeda was beginning to suspect who this mysterious male friend might be.  Last month Nymphadora had mentioned a Muggle-born healer with whom she had become friends—a charming and talented young man whom Andromeda had met on several occasions during her charity work at the hospital. Muggle-borns had never been popular at Malfoy Manor, but they were more than welcome in the Tonks household. It was very likely that he was the one she had been talking about.  He seemed like a wonderful young man. The patients and other Healers were always saying good things about him. He was just the kind of man she had always wanted for her daughter. If Nymphadora didn't take the initiative, she might have to invite him to the New Year's party herself.

 

After they left the shop, Nymphadora turned to her mother. "Thank you for the new robe, and for lunch, Mum."

 

"It was my pleasure," replied Andromeda. "You know I've been so glad to do things like this with you again."

 

"Me too," said Nymphadora.

 

Andromeda felt that warm rush again. The lunch may not have started well, but all in all this was one of the nicest times she had had with her daughter in years. "Well then. I'll be seeing you in a week or two. And please…Don’t forget to speak to Dumbledore for me, about… you know."

 

"I won’t forget. I'll see you soon." And with that Nymphadora headed off toward the nearest Apparition point.

 

Andromeda smiled. Things still weren't wonderful between the two of them, but they were improving. Hopefully it would last.

 

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Tonks collapsed onto her sofa when she returned to her flat. She tossed the robe box onto the sofa beside her and stared at it, wondering what Remus would think when he saw her in this robe.

 

Her mind had been spinning with thoughts of Remus during the whole outing with her mum.  She was amazed that she had managed to make it through the whole thing without giving any of the details away.  She wondered if she should go over to Grimmauld Place right now. No, that would seem too eager. It had taken her nearly six months to make this much progress. She wasn't going to mess it up by getting obsessive and pushy now, right when things were finally getting started.

 

Logically, she knew she ought to go to sleep.  She had work in the morning, and a very important appointment tomorrow night.  But she knew her overactive imagination would never let her fall asleep. There was only one thing to do. It was time to go see Cory.

 

A few minutes later, she was standing on the doorstep of Cory's home. Cory answered her knock with a bright smile. "Tonks! What a wonderful surprise. Come in!"  As always, Cory’s home was a safe haven of normality to Tonks. She could smell a cake baking in the oven, and heard the racket of little Geoffrey banging on pots and pans in the kitchen. The two old friends sat down for a cup of tea. "I can tell by that look in your eyes that you've got some news for me," said Cory. "Can I assume that last night went well?"

 

"It was better than I ever could have expected," replied Tonks.

 

"Well, give me the details." Cory looked eagerly at her friend. Tonks took several minutes to recount all of the wild adventure of last night. Of course, she had to leave out the bits about Sirius, but that wasn’t hard when she had plenty to tell Cory about Remus. She told her all about Remus's deliciously flirty attentions to her all evening long, and how every time it seemed like he might not be interested in her after all, he would suddenly do or say something wonderful that would send her heart pounding. She described the wonderful slow dances they shared, and the feeling of being in his arms. And finally, she repeated in detail all the heart melting things that he had said to her after the concert had ended.

 

"So did he kiss you?" asked Cory eagerly, plucking a sharp fork out of Geoffrey’s hand before he could start scratching the furniture.

 

"No," said Tonks, pouting. "We just drank too much wine, and passed out on the sofa."

 

"No!" said Cory. "After all that, you just fell asleep?"

 

Tonks shrugged. "I'm afraid so."  She tried to stay nonchalant, but she couldn't quite manage it. A silly smile cracked her face.

 

"Ohhh! I know that look! There's more to this story than you've told me, isn't there?" Cory quickly leaned over to take a fragile porcelain sugar-bowl away from Geoffrey.

 

"Yes," said Tonks, still grinning like a fool. "I'm getting to the best part—the part that still has my head spinning!"

 

"Let's hear it then!"

 

"This morning, when I woke up I was lying in his lap, all wrapped up in his arms. I looked like hell, and I was in a hurry to leave, but he didn’t want me to leave. And on my way out, he grabbed my arm, and pulled me into his arms, and kissed me. Oh, Merlin, it was wonderful."

 

Cory squeed in delight. "Oh Tonks! That's wonderful! He does like you! He more than likes you. He’d have to be positively smitten to kiss you first thing in the morning after a night of drinking. I've seen you like that, and you are not a very kissable sight."

 

"Cory!" Tonks exclaimed in indignation.

 

"I only speak the truth, love."

 

Tonks rolled her eyes, and pulled Cory's wand out of the clutches of the passing Geoffrey. "Maybe you're right," she said, with a dreamy smile. "Maybe he is smitten. I can hardly believe it’s actually happening. I mean, I knew from the start it was a long-shot to try to win him over. After all, he's been living like a monk for the past decade—by his own choice. It really was ridiculous of me to even think that he would consider being more than friends. But I was just so completely infatuated with him. And now somehow, I've actually done it." Tonks could feel her heart speeding up again with the memory of his lips moving against hers, and his strong arms holding her close.

 

Cory sighed, and had a dreamy look in her eyes. "That's the most romantic thing I've ever heard."

 

"I think it's pretty damn great, but the most romantic thing you've ever heard?"

 

"Of course! Just think about it—more than a decade ago, in heartbreak and dejection, he gave up on romance to live a life of solitude. But now, re-energized with hope, he is emerging from that prison of self-denial just to be with you.” She sighed. “And if he's really as dreamy as you say he is, I'm sure he's had other opportunities. He just passed them up. He waited for you. It's so beautiful, I almost want to cry. It makes marrying my school sweetheart sound downright hum drum."

 

Tonks laughed. "You read far too many romance novels."

 

"Probably, but that doesn't make me wrong."

 

Tonks stared out the window, her thoughts dancing. "You know—you might be right. The way you said it, it really is one of the most romantic stories I've ever heard. And I'm the star! Who would've thought it?"

 

"I would," said Cory. "I always knew you were destined for a life of drama and adventure."

Tonks rolled her eyes again. "You’re not just reading too many novels, you’re spending too much time looking into that crystal ball of yours."

 

"I haven't looked at that old thing in months. It's just so obvious, Tonks. It's practically written on your face."

 

Tonks smiled indulgently. Cory came from a family riddled with seers, and nearly all of them fancied they could tell something of other people's destinies. Her otherwise common sense friend was no exception. "Right now," said Tonks, "I don't care one thing about drama and adventure. I just want another good snog with the bloke I've fancied for the last half-year."

 

"Now that," said Cory, "is something we agree on. You’ve needed a good snog for ages.  It's about time you got one."

 

Both of the friends laughed, but Tonks wasn’t entirely confident about getting another one.  Remus was so damned self-conscious and insecure that a day and a half in between seeing each other might be enough to make him re-think the whole thing. But she had to believe that this couldn't just be a passing fancy for him—not with his history. It had to be something more serious—didn't it?

 

Tonks tried to banish these thoughts from her head as Cory pulled the cake out of the oven. She spent the rest of the evening with her friend, playing with Geoffrey and catching up. When Cory's husband Danny got home for his dinner break from the family restaurant, she excused herself to let them have their private time.

 

She tried to get to sleep early, but thoughts of Remus kept her awake for hours after she went to bed. If only tomorrow night could come sooner.

 

 

 

Author’s Note: Thanks for reading! And if you take the time to review, Remus might catch you off guard with a kiss.

//
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