Stepping in silently, Remus Lupin was fighting to not make even the slightest of detectable sounds as he slipped in the front door of number 12 Grimmauld Place. He was already late enough to the meeting, he didn't have to make matters worse by causing a scene when he finally made it in.
Alastor Moody made sure everyone knew though.
"Nice of you to join, Remus." He called hoarsely just before the man pushed open the door to enter the kitchen. Shaking his head in irritation, and hating that magical eye once more, Remus pushed open the door, an apologetic smile plastered on his lips.
Dumbledore, ever the peaceable one waved his hand in the air. "Remus was out for me running errands, I should have anticipated he would be late. Anyway, we were just making introductions, so no big details missed. Feel free to introduce yourself to anyone you don't know on your own time."
Remus nodded with a grateful smile toward his old headmaster and fell into his seat next to Sirius, the one always left open for him. He looked up, fully intending to listen to whatever long and most likely uninteresting speech Severus had planned, but his eyes were immediately drawn to the pink haired pixie sitting across from him, whom he somehow managed to miss when he walked in.
She was looking at Snape, appearing somewhat interested until he watched her roll her eyes and glance toward Sirius. She made a face at him, clearly frustrated by something Snape had said. Sirius simply shook his head with an eye roll similar to her own, before she turned her head back listening once more.
Escaped convict finds attractive young witch with pink hair? Only Sirius… He didn't actually believe there was any way they were together, but she seemed comfortable enough around him that Remus had to assume they had met before tonight.
He heard the scratching of quill on paper and looked up just as Sirius slid a small note over to him.
Quit eyeing up my baby cousin
Remus felt his eyes widen in confusion as he looked back up at the woman. He didn't mean to stare, but he realized how long he had been looking when her eyes finally trailed their way over to his, and her purple eyebrow pinched in curiously. He shook his head trying to pretend like it was all a mistake and looked away just as Dumbledore was finishing up the meeting. As usual he invited everyone to stay after; as usual Molly cooked more food than anyone would ever need.
Remus slipped over to speak to the headmaster as quickly as he could, feeling a strange desire to go introduce himself to the pink haired cousin.
"Hello Remus." Dumbledore spoke slowly and casually, as he usually did. Remus nodded his reply and pulled out a sheet of notes from his pocket handing it to the white haired man. "Yes, good. Thank you Remus, this is much appreciated." He said taking a quick glance at the pages before stowing them away in his pocket. "Now as I believe you are looking for our newest addition I feel indebted to tell you she is in the study, taking some time to go over the assignment she was given. I think she would appreciate having a familiar face soon." Remus could have sworn he saw the old man wink before he wandered off, looking for some other important person - or situation to meddle in.
Without much thought Remus found himself wandering into the foyer, then into the study, where he gently pushed the mostly closed door open.
The witch was laying on the couch, pink hair splayed over the back of it behind her, reading a book of sorts. The booked dropped and she glanced up at him as he pushed the door closed just slightly behind him.
Her eyes widened just slightly, "I take it this is your book then?" She asked, slowly closing it so he could see the cover. Dark Creatures and where to Find them. He tried not to cringe, but simply nodded. "I didn't mean to pry…" She sat up quickly and set the book down where he had laid it before he left early this morning. He walked over and sat next to her.
"That's no problem. Quite an interesting read." He commented, trying not to sound as dull as he felt whenever he saw that book.
He couldn't help his surprise when the girl next to him scoffed indignantly. "Interesting? It bollocks. Bat-shit. Ridiculous." She huffed again as if to emphasize her point. "I'm Tonks." She held out her hand, chipping black nail polish and scribbled ink notes covering her palm were the first things he noticed before he shook.
"Ah, yes, you're the-"
"Newbie. Auro, klutz. Metamorphmagus." She supplied without hesitation. He couldn't stop the surprise from showing on his face.
"I was going to say cousin. But really? Metamorphmagus are incredibly rare. I don't believe I've ever met one. At least one your age..." He'd never met a morpher before, but it did account for the hair. She nodded, suddenly seeming bitter and disinterested, her eyes turning calculating on him.
"Oh yes, that's me. Rare and unusual. Need any party tricks to prove it?" She asked, her tone sardonic; whether out of anger, or a coping mechanism to feeling used, Remus wasn't sure, but he shook his head nonetheless.
"Of course not. I trust you." He wasn't sure if that was the right response, but feeling suddenly nervous he decided to try and work past it. "Anyway, I'm Remus. I must ask though, do I get your first name? Or will you simply refer to me as Lupin as I refer to you as Tonks?" He realized he was still holding onto her hand in the awkward way people did when they shook.
He dropped it quickly, nerves jumping even more. Pull yourself together. You're 36 years old, not some school boy! "Remus Lupin." She said as if his name made everything in the world come together. "You're the-"
Idiot. His hand flew to his face on their own accord. There goes that friendship; or whatever he could have had with the beautiful woman that was far too young for him.
Her eyes grew just slightly, and she snorted a small laugh. He couldn't hide the embarrassment either. He was drawn to this woman in a way he had never experienced before, which apparently meant he was drawn to say stupid things and sound like a flat right moron all the time.
"I was going to say best friend and fellow marauder. But... really?" He nodded, looking away, glancing at the copy of his dark creatures book and feeling a bitter laugh come from him as it did Tonks just moments before.
"Makes the read that much more interesting doesn't it?" He heard himself ask, wishing he wasn't so bitter about his own condition. "I'll go, don't worry." He prepared to stand up before she grabbed his hand and held on.
"Wait- what?" She was truly confused. "Why would you go. Stay."
She wants me to… stay?
He sat back down and looked at her, taking in her stormy grey eyes, huge like owls, staring straight into his. He couldn't speak even if he wanted to. "Why would you go? You just got here?" She said her eyebrows pulling together in confusion as they did just hours before in the meeting.
"I'm a… you know- I'm- Well… a wolf. Like- er… dangerous." No one had ever asked him why he would leave before, and sitting in front of this woman, he had no idea what to say.
He was even more at a loss when she burst out laughing.
"You, Remus Lupin, are ridiculous." She was still holding his hand, still laughing. "Look at us…" she gasped between breath. "Two mighty freaks of nature…" There were tears from the laughter, he felt the smile on his lips despite it all. "The only difference is you're problem is monthly, mine is all the time. So really you're the one that should be appalled by me. You're more like everyone else than I am." At some point her laughter died and the conversation seemed more serious than he had expected.
But her words weren't words of self pity, they were simply observational. She was just making a point that seemed very clear to her. She was also letting him in the a subtle way he imagined she didn't want him to notice. She felt out of place in the world too; that's what she was telling him.
Remus shook his head, deciding to accept that he wouldn't easily understand this creature in front of him.
"So about that first name?" He asked deciding it was as good a time as any to change the subject. She shook her head, pink hair flying around her face.
"No one gets to use the first-"
"Nymphadora!" Mad-eye threw the door open, causing Tonks to jump to her feet, wand ready, pointed at his face. Remus watched with wide eyes.
No one pointed their wand at Mad-eye and lived.
To Remus's terror and utter shock the old man appeared to laugh. "Good vigilance! Bring that with you on your first mission." He added gruffly, patting the girl on the arm, before turning out the door with a chuckle.
'Goodnight Remus." He called over his shoulder as he stepped out of the front door and apparating away with a resounding crack.
The girl plopped back in her seat beside him with an angry huff, her hands over her face in pure embarrassment.
"Nymphadora…?" A smile crept over his lips as he said it, nearly drowned out by the sound of her groan. "That's the most beautiful-"
"Shut up Remus." She whined good-naturedly, but also very serious. "It's detestable, and if you dare to use it I'll have to hex you into next year." The look in her eyes said she was dead honest, but his gryffindor spirit allowed him to test her.
"Of course Nympha-"
"UGHH" she groaned over him again, swatting him in the arm with enough force to make it hurt, but enough of a hidden smile to make him know she was joking.
Sirius stuck his head through the door, glancing around the room before deciding it was safe enough, and entering without words. He sat on the floor beside Remus pointing to his cousin on the other side.
"What's got her so worked up?" He asked casually, sober enough to form coherent thought and sensible sentences.
Remus glanced over, checking to make sure she wasn't truly horrified and offended before whispering, very loudly to Sirius. "I called her... Nymphadora."
Her hair finally turned a nasty shade of red, but Remus was sure he could see a smile creeping out from under her poorly placed hands. Sirius clapped him on the shoulder, a true smile plastered on his face.
"You are a brave man dear Moony, and it has been a pleasure knowing you." Tonks peeked out through her fingers, looking Remus straight in the eyes.
"Moony…?" She asked, as if unsure she heard Sirius right. The expression on Remus's face obviously gave the answer away, and her hands dropped from her eyes, a true smile now on her face. "That's genius." She said leaning over to look at Sirius.
"Me n' James thought up that one." Sirius said proudly, his eyes clouding over just slightly at the mention of their long passed best friend. Tonks fiddled with the lone silver ring on her middle finger, all traces of humor gone from her face. She looked at Remus before speaking slowly, uncertainly.
"Tell me about the memories?" She asked softly, allowing Sirius and Remus a chance to reminisce, but also a way out if they didn't feel the need to.
She waited a pause shifting uncomfortably in the silence, before standing slowly. "Anyway, I should be off." She seemed more reserved than she had just a moment before, and Remus couldn't help but want to change that.
"Remember when Lily found out about my big secret?" Remus asked Sirius, feeling himself shift just slightly closer to Nymphadora when she sat back down to listen. Sirius couldn't stop the laugh that erupted out of him at the memory. Tonks leaned forward in interest, ushering Remus with her hands to finish the story, seeming very eager and willing to stay.
"She had known for so long." Remus explained, starting to speak with his hands as he did any time he passionately told a story.
"So she tried to get it out of me and James if we knew anything, but the way Lily always spoke in riddles we had no idea what she was trying to get at." Sirius interjected, also getting involved in the story, adjusting his seating so he was sitting in front of Tonks and Remus while they spoke.
"Finally," Sirius continued, throwing his hands out, "James shouts: 'He's a bloody wolf Lily!' To which she responds 'I know you fool! I wanted to know if you knew!' James got a kick out of that one. Living with the boy for five years and she thinks we didn't figure out he went missing every full moon. We had already mastered and animagi by then. But she didn't find out about that for another two years." Sirius laughed again at that memory, one that Remus felt would be better left untouched, as that was the night James proposed to Lily, and there were only so many painful memories Remus could handle before feeling consumed.
Tonks smiled looking down at her cousin, who was genuinely happy with the company and the time around him; it was such a rarity to see him smiling, and she didn't want to let the moment pass by. Sirius cracked another smile and worked his way into another story involving a poorly aimed hex over the summer going into their seventh year, and a night of shouting from Mrs. Potter. Remus clutched his stomach as he remembered that time as well, Tonks watching the pair with bright, eager eyes. She wanted to hear their stories, but more importantly she wanted to see them smile. Remus couldn't help but ponder how he felt like he knew this woman his whole life. She drew him in with her love for life, her vivacious spirit, her smile.
Story after story the night went on, before Remus glanced over and saw the young woman stifling a yawn and rubbing at her eyes tiredly. He didn't even realize the time.
"Oh- it must be late. I didn't mean to keep you up!" Remus said, glancing at Sirius who appeared just as tired. He stood and held his hand out to his cousin
"We have an extra room upstairs Tonksie, why don't you sleep here tonight?" She grabbed his hand and stood, yawning again and nodding once.
"Is it really an extra? I don't want to…" she yawned again, stretching her free arm up, "I don't want to impose." She said looking at Remus for some reason. Sirius began to lead her up the stairs, the second man not far behind, flicking out the lights with a wave of his wand.
"No imposition, Nymphadora," Remus began, intrigued and awed by the gentle way Sirius cared for her. He was not used to seeing his old friend like that.
He led her into the room, then she quickly turned to Remus as she sat on the bed.
"I'm off work tomorrow, so I can stay around and help repair the favor…" another yawn, Sirius began making his way to the door as she kicked off her shoes, "so long as you don't expect me to cook, it'll kill us all." She added laying back on the bed, sighing as her head hit the pillow that was there. "Night boys." She called as Remus shut the door behind him.
"You'll learn to love her." Sirius said as the two men stood in the hallway outside her bedroom, door. Remus could hear the soft sound of her breathing, he couldn't suppress the strange and overwhelming desire to go in and sit near her, just to be close to her.
"I've learned." He heard himself say quietly, and much to his surprise Sirius simply nodded. No snide remarks, no mocking eyes. Just understanding.
"Goodnight, Moony." He said, before slowly venturing into his own room, and shutting the door softly.
" 'Night Padfoot. Goodnight Nymphadora." He said, knowing neither of the two could hear him but feeling the need to make the sentiment anyway.
He slid into his room, collapsing into his bed. The last thing he remembered thinking before falling asleep is about how long he had to wait before he could sit down with the woman across the hall alone.