Three days later found Remus sitting across from Tonks at the scrubbed wooden table of the shabby kitchen once more. This time, the only other person at the table was Sirius, which, without the cover of a large group of Order members, made it impossible for Remus to gaze as overtly at Tonks as he had during the meeting earlier in the week. Which wasn't to say he wasn't taking advantage of openly watching her when possible as the three of them companionably ate the takeaway she'd brought—he certainly was. The lavender curls she was sporting certainly drew his eye, and he couldn't help but ponder whether he preferred the color over the vivid pink she'd worn before. After some careful deliberation, he decided that the pink was his favorite of the two.
Tonks' laughter had the ability to summon a smile to Remus' face more readily than anything had in years—more than anything ever, quite possibly. He found himself inexplicably drawn to the young woman, letting her smile and playful banter ease the tension that was almost constantly present in the dark and depressing House of Black. As much as Remus cared for his friend, it wasn't easy to keep Sirius afloat from the despair that threatened to drown him daily. Perhaps Tonks' presence would help; he couldn't help but liken her to a ray of sunshine shimmering through the fog of a long winter.
His musings were cut short when Tonks' question of their nicknames chased away his good mood. The moment had come—so quickly, he lamented—when she would imminently become aware of his condition. The condition that kept him, and would forever keep him, from forming any lasting attachment to a woman. He waited, annoyed at Sirius for laughing when she wondered aloud if the nickname 'Moony' was an indication of his pranks being of the pants-dropping nature while at school. Before he could attempt to come up with something that he hoped was a matter-of-fact and business-like statement about his Lycanthropy, she shocked him into silence.
"Ah, I see," she said casually, as if discussing the fish and chips they'd just eaten. "It's a werewolf thing."
The utter disbelief that not only did she already know he was a werewolf, along with the fact that she didn't seem too terribly upset by the notion, made him stare silently at Tonks as she took a sip of the whisky Sirius had poured her and raised her eyebrows at the two men in her presence. As if they were the mad ones. He was only distantly aware of Sirius' mild indignation and his own protestations—how could he be aware of anything other than the possibility that the beautiful young woman across from him might truly not be bothered that he turned into a dangerous creature once a month. He mentally shook his head at the ridiculous hope that had formed in his head, voicing aloud his opinion that she was mad.
"I'm sure some people are offended by your condition, but I'm certainly not," Tonks said, holding his gaze. "I suppose you'll have to find some other way to offend me if you don't want me around."
There was nothing he could do to keep the smile off his face at her words. So sure, so certain she sounded; just like her smile, it warmed him from the chill that had settled in just minutes before when she'd revealed her knowledge. Remus knew there was nothing more he wanted at that moment than to keep her around.
A/N: I know, I know...you were all hoping for chapter 40 of "Jinxed Hearts", but here is a tiny consolation prize for your wait! It's coming soon, I promise! Hopefully you enjoyed a little glimpse into Tonks melting Remus' heart:).