Author’s Notes: Thanks again to my
beta-reader, Shimotsuki for all her help. Portions of
this chapter were previously posted as a one-shot called “Second Thoughts.”
That story can now be considered an extended out-take of this one.
Previously, in “Transformations”: The
morning after a wild night on the town with Bill and Sirius, Remus and Tonks
share their first kiss. Before the implications of that act have time to sink
in, Tonks must rush away to a lunch date with her mum. While there, Andromeda
gets Tonks to confess to knowing where Sirius is, and to agree to arrange a
meeting between the two old cousins. Tonks ends the day at her best
girlfriend's house, where they dissect her evolving relationship with Remus.
Chapter 2: Sorting Things Out
Sirius awoke on the rug in front of the parlor fireplace,
curled up around an empty bottle of wine. His head was killing him.
He struggled to his feet, and slogged downstairs to the
kitchen. He intended to scrounge in the pantry for something to ease his
headache, but an object on the table caught his eye. It was a steaming mug of
what appeared to be his favorite hangover remedy, ready and waiting for him.
Next to it was a note.
I think this is what
“Moony and his damned werewolf metabolism.
He probably felt just fine this morning,” muttered Sirius. He raised the mug to
his lips and downed the pungent concoction in a few large gulps. He couldn’t
help but feel some gratitude for his friend’s thoughtfulness when his head
began to feel better almost immediately.
Once his headache had subsided, he began to notice the
hunger pains in his belly. He opened the larder, looking for a quick bite to
eat. As his eyes scanned the shelves, he began to get the feeling that
something wasn’t quite right. In just another moment, he realized what was
bothering him. The larder was tidy. Organized.
Everything was clearly visible, in neat, orderly rows. It hadn’t looked this
He backed out of the larder, and took a closer look around
the kitchen. It was definitely cleaner than it had been yesterday. The sink was
“Huh,” grunted Sirius in puzzlement. He grabbed an apple out
of a basket on the counter, and headed up the stairs taking large crunching
bites out of the fruit.
The juice from the apple began to dribble down his chin as
he strode down the main hall. It had none of the usual accumulation of dust on
the floor; it certainly looked like it had been recently swept. And he was
certain that Kreacher was not the responsible party.
A strange sound up ahead caught his attention—it appeared to
be coming from the library. He found the wide double doors of the library were
open, and he stepped inside, pausing to take in the bizarre scene before him.
All the shelves in the library were bare. Remus stood in the
center of the room, his back to the door, in front of a massive pile of books.
One by one he was picking up the books, examining their covers, and then, with
a flick of his wand, levitating them to one of six smaller piles of tomes
dotting the room.
“Good morning,” said Sirius.
“Good afternoon,” responded Remus without turning around.
“Didn’t you notice the time?” He sent another book floating across the library.
Sirius glanced up at the clock on the library wall. “Huh,”
he said. “Good afternoon, indeed.”
He stood in the doorway, watching his friend send book after
book soaring around the room. He took another bite of his apple, and slowly
chewed it. Finally, he swallowed. “So,” he said, “what exactly are you doing?”
“Something I’ve been meaning to do for months now,” said
Remus. “I’m organizing the library. It was pure chaos in here. I’m sorting the
books into subject categories, and then I’m going to shelve them
alphabetically. But I haven’t decided whether I should alphabetize by title, or
by author. Do you have a preference? It is your house, after all.”
“And this is after you’ve already organized the larder,
cleaned the kitchen, and swept the halls?”
“I washed your linens too. It seemed the perfect
opportunity, with you not sleeping in your bed.”
Sirius sighed. “Remus, stop sorting the
books. Turn around, and talk to me.”
Remus lowered his current book back to the pile, and half
turned toward Sirius with a concerned expression. “Is something wrong?” he
“That’s what I was about to ask you,” said Sirius, folding
his arms and leaning against the doorframe.
“Why would you think something’s wrong with me?”
“Because I haven’t seen you acting like this since you
thought you failed your Potions OWL and decided to clean and reorganize the
whole dormitory. So, in the twelve hours since we all passed out in the parlor,
what could possibly have happened to freak you out like this?”
“I am not freaked out,” retorted Remus.
“Yes,” replied Sirius, “you are. So what happened?”
Remus looked down at the ground and fidgeted his feet. Then
he looked back up, and said, “I think I may have made a terrible mistake.”
“Which is…?” said Sirius.
“I kissed her.”
Sirius didn’t need to ask who. He nodded his head in
bemusement, strolled casually into the library, and flopped into one of the
armchairs. “Okay,” he said. “So you finally kissed her. Why is this a problem? I thought you’d be happy.”
“I was—at first,” said Remus, shuffling his feet some more.
“I was thrilled, and excited, and full of enthusiasm about the future. But
then, once she’d been gone for about a half an hour, I calmed down, and started
to think about it realistically.”
“Oh no,” said Sirius, shaking his head. “No, no, no. That
was a horrible mistake. This is exactly the sort of thing that thinking can
“You’re still reasoning like a teenager. I’m afraid I don’t
have that luxury,” said Remus.
“You like her, don’t you?”
“Of course I like her! Her friendship is very important to
me. That’s why I’m afraid the kiss was such a mistake.”
“Plenty of friendships have managed to survive a drunken snog. I wouldn’t worry too much, if I was you,” said
“It wasn’t a drunken snog,” said
Remus, sinking heavily into another armchair.
Sirius hesitated. “You didn’t… shag her, did you?”
“No!” said Remus. “I meant I didn’t kiss her when we were
drunk. Somehow, when I was drunk, I managed to resist the temptation. No, I
kissed her this morning when she was leaving for her flat.”
You kissed hung-over Tonks. That’s different. I’ve seen hung-over Tonks before,
and she’s not a pretty sight. Kissing hung-over Tonks is a sign of very serious
Remus sat up straighter, and frowned. “She didn’t look that
Sirius barked a laugh. “You really are falling for her,
“I might be,” said Remus, leaning forward and putting his
head in his hands. After a moment he looked back up. “So do you really think
kissing her this morning sent the message that I was serious…about things?”
“Hmmm,” said Sirius, absently tossing his apple core up and
down in air. “What kind of kiss was it?”
“Yes, what kind. Different kisses
send different messages.” Remus clearly didn’t understand, so Sirius
elaborated. “Was it just a quick little peck of a kiss, or was it a tongue
twisting, body mashing, hands groping kind of a kiss?”
Remus blinked a few times in discomfort. “It was… somewhere
in between. But… a little closer to the second than to the first.”
“Ah! So was it more of a tender, lingering, emotional sort
Remus coughed, and looked down at his fidgeting hands. “Yes.
Something like that, yes.”
Sirius nodded. “Yes, that kind of kiss under those
circumstances does send a pretty serious message. How did she react to it?”
Remus fidgeted some more. “She… kissed me back. And she fell
off the front steps. And she wanted to skip her lunch appointment with her Mum
to stay here with me.”
Sirius was not entirely successful at stifling a laugh when
Remus mentioned the bit about Tonks falling off the front steps. He grinned.
“That’s a pretty serious reaction.”
“Yes. I thought it might be.”
“So what did you do next?” he asked, still tossing his apple
core up and down.
“I told her she should go meet her Mum.”
Sirius dropped his apple core on the floor, and it rolled
under a side table. He stared in wide-eyed astonishment at his friend. “You
kicked her out?”
“I didn’t kick her out! I just felt like she ought to keep
her appointment with her Mum.”
“And what did she say to that?”
Remus sighed. “She asked if she could come back tonight.”
“And I told her we both needed a good night’s sleep tonight,
and we arranged to meet here tomorrow night instead.”
Sirius laughed again. “And she was all right with that
Remus frowned at him again. “She seemed happy with it, yes.”
Sirius shook his head in disbelief. What kind of man was
Remus, to pass up an afternoon of snogging with a
beautiful—and eager—young woman so that she could have lunch with her mum and have a good night’s sleep? “I
don’t think I’ll ever understand you, Moony,” he said.
“I’m terribly sorry for being such a mystery to you,” Remus
replied. “I don’t know what I was thinking, this morning. Last night was just
so… and she looked so… and I just… There really wasn’t a single rational
thought in my head. It was pure instinct. Nothing more than a purely selfish
act derived from the natural genetic drive to couple.”
Sirius burst out laughing. “The natural genetic drive to
couple?” said Sirius again, choking on his laughs. “Are you sure that was all
there was to it?”
“No,” said Remus with a sigh. “But the point is—I acted on
pure impulse. And I know from sad experience that every time I act on impulse,
things go wrong. They often go very, very wrong.”
“Would you like the list?”
“How could I resist?” said Sirius. Remus had always been
prone to over-dramatize his mishaps, and Sirius was certain that today would be
Remus got to his feet, and paced to the other end of the
room. Then, he turned sharply, staring Sirius in the eye. “Do you remember Driselda Tippens?”
“Oooh,” said Sirius. “That did go
rather badly, didn’t it? So that’s
what you mean by acting on impulse.”
“What did you think I meant? Deciding at the last minute to
eat kidney pie instead of curry?”
Sirius shrugged. “Go on,” he prompted.
With a sigh, Remus continued, pacing and turning with each
new item on his list. “How about my sudden decision to
try-out for the House Quidditch team?” Sirius
winced. “Or that illicit trip to the Hog’s Head the night before taking our
NEWTS? And don’t forget the time I asked Doreen Hopkins to spend the day in Hogsmeade with me. And the incident at James’ bachelor party.
Or the time I thought the Death Eaters had captured Lily, and I went in to rescue
her single-handed without telling a soul? I could have died, for God’s sake!”
“Very true,” said Sirius, nodding. His guts and clenched
with the memory of each horrific incident on Remus’ list. He was starting to
agree that Moony was making a very solid case for his inability to make good
decisions on impulse, but he still felt that kissing Tonks would prove to be an
exception to the rule.
“And there were a large number of similar mishaps while you
were away—none of which I plan on sharing with you, by the way. But you full
well know the crowning example of my disastrous impulsive behavior. How could
you forget the night I impulsively followed you to the Shrieking Shack without
thinking to take my potion first? If I hadn’t transformed into a ravening beast,
we very well may have retained our possession of Peter, and you would now be
exonerated and Voldemort may never have been returned
“Good lord!” said Sirius with an incredulous laugh. “Now
you’re blaming yourself for Voldemort’s resurrection?”
“How can I not?” exclaimed Remus, with a despairing look on
Sirius closed his eyes, and rubbed his forehead. He could
feel his headache coming back. “Did I ever tell you how much I hate it when you
“I’m not being melodramatic,” retorted Remus.
“Yes,” said Sirius firmly, “you are. Now stop it. We’re not
here to second guess each and every decision you’ve ever made so that we can
ultimately blame all of society’s woes on you. We are here to determine whether
or not you should spend some more time snogging
Remus struggled to look outraged, but finally gave in to
Sirius’ light-heartedness, and cracked a reluctant smile. “You have quite a way
with words sometimes.”
“One of my many talents. Now sit
down. All your pacing is making my head hurt.”
“Sorry,” said Remus, and he returned to his seat.
Sirius rubbed his forehead again, and said, “I’m not even
sure if your litany of negative precedents has anything to with the matter at
hand. Tonks wasn’t a sudden impulse. You’ve fancied her for ages, haven’t you?”
Remus looked at his fidgeting hands for a moment, before
saying, “Yes, in a way.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “How can you fancy someone in a way?”
“Well,” said Remus, as if searching his mind for an
explanation. “I admit that I was attracted to her almost from the start. But I
never in my wildest imaginings thought that she would ever be interested in me
as something more than a friend. So I just…tried to be her friend. I suppose I
felt that having a tiny bit of a crush on my friend wouldn’t do anyone any
harm, so long as I kept it to myself.”
“And now?” pressed Sirius.
“And now… Well, it was only in the last few days that I
admitted to myself that my feelings for her have grown stronger than I ever
intended them to. And then suddenly, last night, it became clear that she
actually felt the same way about me. It boggled my mind. I didn’t know what to
do. And this morning I just … kissed her.”
“Hmmm,” said Sirius. “So, your feelings weren’t impulsive,
but your actions were.”
Remus nodded silently.
Sirius rested his chin in his hand, contemplating his
friend’s situation. “So the situation at hand is: you suddenly found out Tonks
fancies you, and impulsively sent her every signal that you were interested in
starting a relationship with her, and now you’re thinking of backing out of
Remus nodded sheepishly.
Sirius frowned, and shook his head in disbelief. “You really
can be a cold-hearted bastard, sometimes. Did you know that?”
“There’s nothing cold-hearted about it,” said Remus. “I only
have her best interests in mind.”
“Her best interests? Great Merlin,
Remus! How in hell is this kind of mind game in her best interests?”
“She deserves better than what I can give her!”
“Yes!” Remus was turning red in the face. “She deserves a
man who can hold down a job. A man who’s young, and healthy.
A man who can afford to pamper her. She deserves a man
who will be there to lift her spirits whenever she’s feeling down, and who can
pick her up whenever she falls, and who can just… always be there for her, no matter what. And I am not that man. There are
several days each month when I will never
be there for her, or anyone else. I will never be the kind of man that she
Sirius couldn’t believe that this was what Remus really
thought of himself. “Damn. I guess I never looked at it that way. But still—if
I had a girl like Tonks, I wouldn’t let my status as England’s-most-wanted stop me.
What’s the difference?”
“The difference is, someday, once Peter is apprehended, you
won’t be a fugitive anymore. But I will always be a werewolf.” Remus’ face was
hard and cold. Sirius wondered how many times over the years Remus had repeated
that sad mantra to himself, in order to deny himself the normal pleasures of life.
“She’s an Auror, Remus. She knows all about werewolves. And
if she’s willing to give things a try in spite of it, then you should be too.
Besides,” he added nonchalantly, “you don’t even know how serious she is.”
“You think she might not be serious about me?” asked Remus.
He looked disappointed.
Sirius stifled a grin. He was fairly certain that his
cousin’s feelings for Remus were very serious,
but now didn’t seem like the right time to mention that fact. “She’s young.
She’s still playing the field. She probably would just like to go on a few
dates, see how things go. And if it doesn’t work out, no problem, you can just
go back to being friends. That’s how girls her age do things.”
Remus suddenly looked very thoughtful. Somehow, Sirius
didn’t think that was a good thing. “Do you think she’s too young for me?”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “No—she’s not too young for you.
Yes, she’s young, but not too young.”
Remus was looking at his hands again. “Did I ever tell you
that Andromeda was the first girl I ever fancied?”
“No. You never did.”
“Well, she was. It started when we were first years and she
was a sixth year, and she would let us tag along with her even though we must
have been horribly annoying. I thought she was the most beautiful thing I’d
ever seen. Even after she eloped with Ted, I still thought of her as some sort
of perfect dream girl. I didn’t really let go of the fantasy until I heard she
was having a baby.”
“That’s awfully… bizarre, for a twelve year old.”
“I was a rather bizarre child at times,” said Remus.
“So now,” said Remus, “I am the bloke who just snogged the baby of the first girl
he ever fancied.”
“Good Lord, you’re melodramatic today!” said Sirius.
“I must be in a melodramatic mood.”
“She’s not too young for you!”
“I know.” Remus nodded. “Logically, I know that. Logically,
I know that she is indeed an Auror, and knows very well the complications that
would come from a relationship with a werewolf. And logically, I know you’re
right—this doesn’t have to be serious right from the start. We really could
just go out a few times, and try things out. I just—haven’t done this sort of
thing in a very long time. I’m,” he paused, “a little bit scared.”
“Oh really? I never would have
guessed,” said Sirius.
Remus cracked a smile. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be unloading
all my paranoia on you like this.”
Sirius leaned back, and put his hands behind his head. “No
problem, mate. It’s not like I have anything more interesting to do.”
“Well, I’m so glad to provide you with an afternoon’s
“You’ve got to pay for your lodging somehow. This way’s as
good as any.”
They were silent for a moment. Then Sirius spoke again. “So
have you made up your mind? Will you be breaking my poor cousin’s heart tomorrow?”
Remus looked at him sharply. “I thought you said she wasn’t
that serious about me.”
“It was just a figure of speech. So have you made up your
“Well, don’t take too long. The week’s almost over.”
“Why does that matter?”
“Because,” said Sirius, “if you start going out this week, Mundungus will be a very happy man.”
What…?” started Remus.
Sirius cut him off. “But if you wait until next week, Emmeline’s the one who will benefit, and we all know she
doesn’t need the money.”
“Well, several of us started getting the feeling quite a
while ago that your relationship with Tonks was headed in a romantic direction,
so we started a small betting pool, to try to predict the actual week the two
of you would become involved.”
Remus’ mouth hung open, and his face was turning red again.
“You started a betting pool about my personal life!?”
“It’s as much about Tonks’ personal life as it is about
yours, you know,” stated Sirius matter-of-factly.
“I can’t believe your audacity!”
“It was actually Bill’s idea.”
“Don’t look so shocked—I’m not the only troublemaker around
here, you know,” said Sirius.
“How many people are involved in this betting pool of
yours?” asked Remus.
“Most of the Order.”
“Even Molly and Arthur?”
“Oh, they were the most optimistic of the bunch,” said
Sirius. “Their weeks of choice have come and gone ages ago.”
“Are you trying to tell me,” said Remus with a pained
expression, “that the members of the Order of the Phoenix have nothing better to talk about
than whether or not Tonks and I will become a couple?”
“These are dark times. It cheers us up to talk about the
potential happiness two of our friends could give each other,” Sirius said with
a straight face.
“You are an outrageous liar.”
“Very often, yes. But the betting
pool is real.”
Remus shook his head. “It’s just so unbelievable.”
“You know,” said Sirius, “it would greatly disappoint me if
you rejected my dear cousin. I’d have to take her side—she is family after all.
And I’d have to snub you for at least two weeks. It would make my life even
more dreadfully boring; I have so few people to talk to. Not to mention, I’d
hate to see Severus win all that money.”
“Yes,” said Sirius, nodding sadly. “He bet that you’d never
get together at all.”
“You let Severus place a bet about my love-life?” Remus
“He overheard Bill talking about it, and that git of a Weasley let him place the bet. I never would have
Remus shook his head. “So everyone but Severus has believed
for months that Tonks and I would get together.”
“You two have been practically inseparable, you know. You’re
always going off to dark corners to laugh at your little private jokes, and
you’re always arranging to go on assignments together. It just seemed so
“And it’s impossible for a single man and a single woman to
just be good friends?”
“Your actions this morning clearly demonstrated that it is.”
“I was asking for that, wasn’t I,” said Remus with a smile.
“Yes, you were.”
“So,” said Remus, looking down at his hands again, “you
don’t really think we could just go back to being friends, do you.”
Sirius shook his head. “Not completely. It won’t ever be
quite the same again.”
“I’ve really mangled things, haven’t I? I don’t want to lose
her friendship, Sirius.”
“You don’t have to. And you have the chance to have even
more. You just have to be willing to pull your head out of your arse, and admit that she’s worth the risk.”
Remus looked up into his friend’s eyes. His face had gone
pale. “What if I fall in love with her, and she decides she doesn’t want me
Sirius had suspected from the start that this was the heart
of the issue, and he would place a bet that his friend was already more than
halfway in love with her. Luckily for Remus, Tonks showed every sign of being
“Then I,” said Sirius, “will be your shoulder to cry on.”
“Thank you. That makes me feel so much better,” said Remus
sarcastically. Sirius let out a few laughs.
“So, my friend, have you made up your mind?”
Remus shook his head. “Not yet. But you’ve given me a lot to
think about—not the least of which is how to get back at Bill for this betting
“But don’t think too much—your instincts aren’t all that
Remus nodded, but said nothing.
“How about we go downstairs, and I make us
Remus raised one eyebrow. “It’s not even four o’clock.”
“I know, but that bloody apple is all I’ve had to eat all
day. I’m famished. And knowing you, you’ve been too obsessed with your cleaning
frenzy to stop for a meal. Am I right?”
Remus laughed. “Actually, you are. Now that you mention it,
I think I am hungry.”
“Brilliant. Let’s go make some food.”
Remus agreed with a nod. As the two of them stood and headed
down to the kitchen, Remus said, “It really would be a shame to let Severus win
all that money, wouldn’t it?”
“It would be a travesty. A complete and utter travesty,”
Sirius agreed. He felt fairly certain that his cousin was safe from heartache,
at least for now. But just to be sure, he wasn’t going to give Remus very much
time to think, as he was certain that
no good would come of it.
stood in the dining room of Number 12 Grimmauld
Place, pacing back and forth. In less than an hour, most of the Order of the Phoenix would be
gathering—this time not for a meeting to discuss new assignments in their
unacknowledged war, but for a celebration. Today was Sirius Black's
thirty-seventh birthday. But Remus's mind was not on Sirius—it was on someone
vastly nicer to look at. And tonight would be the first time he would see her
since they had kissed.
had barely slept last night, kept awake by thoughts of her. And he couldn't
keep still. He felt compelled to action, but to what action he wasn't sure. Kreacher wandered into the room, muttering epithets about the
hideous half-breed creature wearing holes into his mistress's nice rugs with
all its pacing. A minute later he left the room clutching a stack of
embroidered napkins. Remus let him go without comment.
talk with Sirius yesterday had done little to ease his misgivings. Remus had no
desire to drag Tonks into a relationship fraught with the never-ending
complications of lycanthropy. But neither did he want to give her up. Sirius’s
assurances that she wasn’t too serious about things hadn’t helped. The more he
thought about her, the more he realized that he wasn't sure which scared him
more—the thought that she was serious about him, or the thought that she
minutes later, Sirius came into the room. "There you are."
Here I am," said Remus, pausing in his back and forth circuit of the room.
nodded at him. "Molly and Arthur will be here any minute to get things set
Remus clapped his hands together. "Will I be needed in the kitchen,
nodded. "I think so. I sure as hell won't be helping. It's my party, after
things never change, do they?"
you really want them to?"
smiled, and shook his head. "I suppose not."
looked intently at him. “So have you finally made up your mind?”
nodded, and smiled nervously. “Yes, as a matter of fact, I have.”
what’s it going to be?” asked Sirius.
going to tell her that I am interested in going out with her—but that I would
like to keep things casual, and friendly. No strings attached.”
nodded. “Casual and friendly, no strings attached. Sounds good to me.”
knew Sirius was lying. Of course it didn't sound good. It didn't even sound
good to him. Half of him wanted to go back in time and stop himself from ever kissing her—then they could just keep
going as they had before, as friends. The other half of him wanted to pull her
back into his arms the instant he saw her, and snog
her senseless. It was amazing how much she'd gotten under his skin in the six
short months that they'd known each other. He wanted her more than he'd wanted
any other woman in years—and it terrified him.
said Remus, in response to Sirius's feigned approval, forcing a smile onto his
face. “Do you think she’ll be all right with that?” he asked lamely.
she will! Sure she will,” said Sirius, patting Remus on the back. Sirius turned
and left the room, and Remus slowly followed. He was beginning to feel sick.
Arthur and Molly arrived, he went with Molly down to the kitchen to help
prepare the refreshments. For some inexplicable reason, he didn't want to be
upstairs when Tonks arrived. Finally, he and Molly had two trays each loaded
with plates of cake and glasses of punch. They levitated them up the stairs and
reached the sitting room where the Order had congregated without mishap. He
began to pass the refreshments around, when suddenly she was at his side.
caught his breath. She was stunning. Her delicate pink hair flowed in loose
waves around her face, and her sapphire colored top clung tantalizingly to her
curves, allowing a smooth expanse of pale pink skin to peek out above the waist
of her form-fitting trousers. "Here, let me help you with that," she
said, reaching for the glass of punch in his hand. As her fingers brushed
against his, he lost his grip and the glass tumbled to the ground, dumping its
contents on the hardwood floor.
he said, instantly regretting that the only word that would come out of his mouth
made him sound like a dumbstruck ten year old.
worry," she said under her breath, leaning into him conspiratorially.
"Your reputation is safe. Everyone will blame it on me." She winked
at him, and cast a quick scourgify on the
puddle of punch before bending to retrieve the glass.
prediction proved right, especially after she herself dropped another glass,
and a piece of cake. As they circulated amongst their friends and comrades,
they fell easily into their usual lighthearted banter. This isn't so bad,
he thought. I kissed her—but we can still talk like nothing has changed.
to his delight, their easy companionship kept up for the whole evening. They
moved throughout the room, talking and laughing with nearly all the Order
members in turn. In fact, the only thing that had changed since before their
kiss was that instead of wandering off from time to time, she stayed by his
side the entire evening. It felt wonderful to have her constantly there, hearing
the sound of her voice, and smelling the familiar waft of her vanilla spice
did notice that Sirius kept giving him strange looks with a raised eyebrow, as
if to ask “So when are you two going to sneak off together?” Remus chose to ignore him. Otherwise, he evening fairly flew by. In
fact, Remus was surprised when he noticed that nearly everyone had left. Sirius
was in one corner chatting with Dung and Bill, and Arthur and Molly were
beginning to gather the scattered cups and plates back onto the trays. "We
should give them a hand," said Remus to Nymphadora.
yes," she replied. "Let’s."
helped finish the tidying up and collected the dirty dishes, following the Weasleys down to the kitchen. Just as Molly was turning on
the water to wash the dishes, Nymphadora spoke up. "Molly, Arthur. You've
both done so much tonight already, let Remus and me finish up. You two should
said Remus. "We can certainly handle this mess between the two of us. You go ahead and go home." It wasn't
until after he spoke that he realized that this may have been a ploy on
Nymphadora's part to finally get him alone. His eyes darted over to her
nervously, and he started to shuffle his feet. This was really it. Time to sort things out, once and for all.
and Arthur thanked them heartily and then headed back up the stairs. Remus
ignored Nymphadora’s meaningful gaze, and darted to the sink where he began
feverishly washing the dishes. Without a word, Nymphadora stepped up beside
him, and began to dry them and put them away. She only dropped one plate, and
it didn't even break.
seemed like no time at all, and they were finished. Remus’s eyes darted around
the room, looking for another chore to occupy them, but the rest of the kitchen
was perfectly tidy.
took a seat on the tabletop in front of him, and looked up at him expectantly.
shuffled slowly over to the table, and gingerly lowered himself to the pitted
wooden surface beside her. "Well," he said. "This was fun. But
not nearly as fun as our other party."
agree with you there," she replied. "That was quite the party, wasn't
Yes it was." Remus was feeling exceedingly awkward, and his nerves were sending
chills up and down his legs. He twitched them to try to quell the sensation.
then," she said slowly, looking down at her feet dangling above the floor,
"there was what happened yesterday morning."
Yes indeed. Yesterday morning. That was...That was…" He had absolutely no
idea what to say.
was highly unexpected. But also very nice." She looked up to catch his
eye, and smiled at him with a delightful twinkle in her expression.
it?" he said. Nice. Nice is good. I
can live with nice. "Because, I wasn't sure if...if you really...you
know, wanted to?"
raised her eyebrows. "If you weren't sure, then why did you do it?"
just…it seemed like the thing to do." Merlin,
I sound like an idiot. Why in the world does she even give me the time of day?
She shouldn’t, but she does!
fact, she was giving him far more than the time of day right now. She was
staring raptly at his face, a small smile dancing on her lips, looking both
pensive, and excited. He could feel his heart pounding faster.
seemed like the thing to do?" she replied.
then," she said.
were staring into each other's eyes. Somehow, Remus noticed, their faces had drawn
very close to each other. She slowly reached up, and pulled his face towards
hers for a kiss. It was slow, and sweet and soft. Her lips kept opening,
tantalizing him, daring him to come inside. Then,
suddenly, it was over. She pulled back, and looked up at him with an adorable
expression, biting her bottom lip. "It seemed like the thing to do,"
started to laugh. She joined him. My God,
she’s beautiful when she laughs.
really glad this is happening," she said.
"I have to admit—I've been wanting
something like this for a long time now." Her speech was hesitant, and
nervous. Remus felt dumbstruck. This magnificent, extraordinary, beautiful
woman had been pining after him—of
all people? And she was still nervous about whether or not he wanted her in
return? What god had he pleased lately to earn this kind of reward?
swallowed, and took a breath. "How long is a long time?"
grimaced and bit her lip again. "I never know when to keep my big mouth
shut, do I? If I tell you, I'm going to be horribly embarrassed."
I have to know," he said, smiling in spite of his nerves. "Was it
more than a month?"
looked away, still biting her lip. She
looks as nervous as I feel. Remarkable. She
nodded. "Yes.” He thought he could see a trace of a blush rising in her
was shocked. "More than two months?"
nodded again. “Yes.”
heart almost skipped a beat. She couldn't be serious. Could she? "How long
has it been?" he asked with
sighed, and looked at him imploringly. "You’re not going to let me get out
of this, are you?"
couldn't help but laugh. "Not when you're so determined to evade
answering. It makes this far too interesting. Now come on. Fess up." He
was actually starting to enjoy this.
looked down at her hands. "I've been attracted to you ever since
that’s almost as long as we've known each other!" he said in disbelief.
know," she said. "Now I've gone and made you feel uncomfortable,
No. Not at all." He found, as he said it, that he
actually meant it. "In fact," he said impulsively, "I felt
attracted to you for a very long time also. I just never imagined that you would
feel the same way about me." There were quite a few other reasons why he
had never spoken up, but he didn't feel that now was the time to go into them.
could she doubt it?
way she was looking at him made all thoughts of “friendly and casual” depart rapidly
from his mind. The last thing he wanted right now was “friendly.”
up to take her face in his hands, and leaned in to kiss her. This kiss rapidly
became more intense than their earlier attempts. His mouth moved against hers
with a hunger that he hadn't known he possessed—extraordinarily, she responded
with equal enthusiasm. It was like something out of a wonderful euphoric dream,
and he never wanted it to end. He slid off the table, and moved to stand in
front of her, leaning over her with his fingers winding through her hair.
as he was deepening their kiss even further, he heard an unmistakable snort of
laughter and the sound off feet hastily retreating up the stairs. They pulled
apart, and stared at the kitchen door. "I believe my cousin was just
spying on us," she said.
certainly looks that way," said Remus, unable to restrain his broad smile.
Tonight was going far better than he expected.
what was so funny? Do we look like a couple of sucker fish, or something?"
laughed. "No. I don't think he was laughing at how we looked. I think he
was laughing at what we were doing."
raised her eyebrows. "Is laughter his usual reaction to snogging, then?"
said Remus, shaking his head. "It's just that yesterday he and I had a
long talk about...about what might be happening between you and me. And,
I think I came across as rather—nervous. I led him to expect something quite
the opposite of what he just witnessed."
smiled impishly. "So you were nervous about me?"
confess that I was, yes."
"What were you nervous about? Did you think I wouldn't be interested, or
looked at his feet, suddenly feeling very sheepish. He shrugged. "Maybe."
laughed again. "And here I was, terrified that I was going to scare you
off because I was so obviously throwing myself at you."
herself at me? And I never even noticed. I must be the
biggest idiot in the world. She was obvious enough for everyone else to see
this coming before I did, and yet this whole time I was convinced we were just
good friends! "Well, you didn't scare me off."
I assure you that I am interested. So..."
he echoed, “I think the thing to do now, would be for me to ask you out to
nodded her head, and kicked her dangling feet playfully. "That does sound
like a good idea."
couldn't stop smiling. "What night would be good for you?"
could do our usual night—Tuesday," she said. They had been going out as
friends nearly every Tuesday night for the past several months.
pursed his lips. "That wouldn't be...odd...for you?"
Why would it?"
don't know," he said, shaking his head. "I've just never done this
what—exactly?" She quirked her head and raised an eyebrow.
know—gone from friends, to...something more. It's always been just one or the
other." Saying the words something more made him feel exceedingly
nervous again. What exactly more meant had not yet been determined, and
he hated uncertainty.
smile was reassuring. "I must confess that I've never made that leap
before either, but I don't think it will be that hard. It seems to me that we
can probably just do the same sorts of things that we've always done, only more
often we'll do them as just the two of us, instead of with Sirius or Bill. And
we can do a few other, newer things as well."
as this," she said, pulling him in for another sweet, lingering kiss.
their lips parted, he leaned his forehead against hers, and with his eyes
closed, breathed deeply, savoring their closeness. "You do make it sound
very easy. I think I like that."
too," she said, almost in a whisper.
captured two more brief kisses from her mouth, before leaning back to look down
at her beautiful face. As he stared into her eyes, he uttered the only words
that came into his mind. "Why me? You could have
any man in the world that you want. So why me? Why did
you choose the old, impoverished, nobody?"
somebody to me. Besides, I'd hardly call thirty-six old, and your financial
status only bothers me when you get too stubborn about it to accept gifts from
the people who care about you. You're smart, and funny, and caring, and
compassionate. You're a wonderful man, Remus. I wish you could see yourself the
way the rest of us do." Her words were so fervent and impassioned that he
almost believed them.
you're not the only one who sees me this way?" he asked.
smile spread across her face. "I would say not. The whole Order sees you
this way. Especially the ladies."
raised one eyebrow. "The ladies?"
yes," she replied, taking his hands in hers and swinging their arms with
youthful abandon. "Did you know that you're the commonly agreed upon
second most attractive man in the Order? You're first on my list, of course,
but on the official list I'm afraid you only made second. Still, that's still
nothing to be ashamed of."
in the world are you talking about?" he asked in genuine bafflement.
let loose a light, carefree laugh. "Back in August, once things had
settled down a bit, Molly decided it would be nice for all the ladies in the
Order to do a little female-bonding. So we all got together at Emmeline's flat to eat biscuits, and drink wine, and
gossip. And after a little too much elderberry wine, Hestia
decided to start ranking all the blokes in the Order according to their looks.
And the rest of us jumped in, and eventually we started factoring in personality
as well as looks into our overall attractiveness scale. And at the end of the
day, you came in a close second to Bill Weasley."
got to be joking!" said Remus. "All of you were in on this? Even Emmeline? And
yes," she said. "Emmeline joined me in
lobbying quite ardently to rank you first, but Minerva and Molly were able to
overpower us once Hestia joined in with them to
insist on Bill."
this is what women really talk about when they're alone together?"
other things," she replied, running her fingers lightly up his right arm
to his shoulder, and sending a corresponding shockwave down his spine.
"You'd be amazed what the stateliest old woman will say once you fill her
with chocolate biscuits and elderberry wine."
shook his head in amazement. "So out of all the fellows in the Order, I
came in second?"
"Over Sirius? I thought he was every woman's bad-boy
Hestia wanted to rank him first—she's quite taken
with his tragic image. He could really have a go with her if he wanted, you
don't think he's ever thought twice about Hestia,"
said Remus, hardly believing he was actually having this conversation.
sighed. "No one ever does, poor girl. But in spite of her ardent argument
in his favor, the rest of us dislike his moodiness and temper. So he was
actually ranked fourth—first goes to Bill, followed by you, Kingsley, and
Sirius, with Arthur rounding out the top five. But we only really ranked him
there to flatter Molly, and because none of the others have seen Charlie
lately. He's grown into quite a dish, you know."
laughed. "Enough of a dish to challenge me for
Not quite," she said.
shook his head again. "If you had told me yesterday that I would be having
this particular conversation today, I would have told you that you were crazy.
This is really the most absurd thing I've talked about in ages."
I'm always so absurd, then why am I so damned attractive?"
part of the appeal. Men who are serious all the time can never be truly
attractive. They seem to be lacking something essential. You, on the other
hand, have ample good humor to give you a delightfully winning personality, in
spite of your being a stodgy bookworm." She finished with a playful smirk
on her face, and clasped her hands behind his neck.
smiled down at her. "Well, I think this teaches me to never again ask a
woman why she finds me attractive."
she said. "Because I'm the only one you're supposed to be asking these
things—not some random woman."
laughed again. The idea of having a relationship with Nymphadora was rapidly
becoming less and less terrifying. And the idea that she was only interested in
a few casual dates seemed to have been blown out of the water. But with her
arms around his neck, and his arms around her waist, the prospect of a more
serious relationship was something that seemed very appealing indeed. Maybe,
just maybe, he was finally ready to give this sort of thing another try.
he said. "Before our little tangent, I believe we were discussing
I think we were."
you still want to meet outside of the Ministry?" he asked. Their usual
Tuesday routine had been to meet outside the front entrance, after she got off
shook her head. "I think I want to go back to my flat first, and change
out of my work robes."
"Of course. Of course. So I'll
pick you up at your flat, then. Say, at seven o'clock?"
grinned. "Seven sounds perfect."
right, then. Seven, at your flat. Excellent,
will we go?" she asked.
pondered for a moment, before responding. "Let me surprise you."
"Oooh. That sounds like
certainly hope so." He leaned in to kiss her again. He could really get
used to this.
minutes later, she pulled back to look up at him. “Are you sure you haven’t
done this in ten years? You don’t seem at all out of practice.”
grinned. “I’m sure. I think this is the sort of thing I would have remembered.”
she said. “It must be like flying a broom—once you’ve learned how, you never
be,” he muttered, going in for more.
as things were heating up, they heard a scratchy voice mumbling, "Filthy
the sanctity of my Mistress's home." They both turned their heads,
to see Kreacher lurking in the corner. He continued
to mutter a string of complaints about their behavior as they stared at him.
turned back to Remus. "Maybe that’s my cue to leave," she said.
"I do have work in the morning, after all."
nodded reluctantly. "I'll see you out." Remus had walked her to the
door of Grimmauld
Place dozens of times before, but this was the
first time he held her hand all the way. It felt good.
opened the door, and they looked into each other's eyes again. "I'll see you on Tuesday," he said.
not sooner," she said.
not sooner," he repeated. He leaned
in for another kiss.
minute later, they parted, and she said, "Goodnight."
closing the door behind her, he made his way back upstairs.
heard footsteps following him up the stairs. It was inevitable, really. Sirius
caught up to him on the first floor landing.
“Hiya, mate,” he said.
replied Remus with a nod.
did your talk with Tonks go well?”
well, thank you,” replied Remus mildly.
Jolly good, then.”
Well, I’m off to bed. Good night.” Remus turned to start up the next flight of
night.” Sirius paused. “So how did she take the whole, casual and friendly
looked over his shoulder striving to keep his expression blank. “It didn’t come
didn’t come up?”
said Remus shaking his head.
what happened to all your rational thinking and careful decision making?” asked
Sirius in genuine curiosity.
put his hands in his pockets and looked at the ground. That was a very good
question. Just yesterday he'd gone on at considerable length to Sirius about
why starting a relationship with Nymphadora wouldn't make rational sense, and
would be pure selfishness on his part. But all of his carefully reasoned
arguments had fled his mind the instant he saw her tonight. “I suppose I let
instinct win this time,” he finally said.
the genetic drive to couple beat out rational thought?”
did this time,” said Remus, smiling. “Rational thought can be overrated, after
let out a few barking laughs. “So tell me, Moony-what exactly did Tonks do to
get that instinct of yours to take over?”
“Now Padfoot,” said Remus, looking Sirius in the eye, “that
wouldn’t be very gentlemanly of me, would it?”
come on, mate! You know I have to live vicariously through you. Spill the
sorry, Sirius, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave this one to your
imagination. Good night.” With that, Remus turned on his heel and headed up the
on!” called Sirius after him. “Please?”
ignored him. The last thing he needed right now was a conversation with Sirius
to muddle his thoughts even more. What
he needed was some piece and quiet to calm his rapidly beating heart. And, he
needed to think of a place to take Nymphadora on Tuesday.
Author’s Notes: I
hope y'all liked it! Please leave a review. And what did you think of the
"Previously in..." blurb? Most of my favorite TV shows do one, so I
thought I might try it out in fic, since it’s been more
than a month since I updated. If you like it, I'll keep doing it. If not, it
goes bye-bye. Thanks for reading!