Short one today as I don't have much time. Basically a filler but at least one important matter gets cleared up ;)
The Name Game
"I saw you talking to Vektor on the map. Are you trying to make Tonks jealous by using her?"
Remus rolled his eyes, slipping out of his cloak. "Yes," he said dryly on his way over to the table, "Obviously."
Sirius made a face. "No need to get snarky. I was about to congratulate you on it, actually. It's time you got off your arse and did something about this Tonks-business; it's getting pathetic."
Remus didn't answer, leafing instead through the pile of letters that had arrived during the morning. He couldn't help but feel a pang of disappointment when he failed to spot anything in Tonks' sprawling hand, but on second thought it was probably better this way. Sirius would only have read it anyway.
Against Remus' expectations, his friend still hadn't caught on, despite the Ball being almost a week ago. Of course this was mostly due to the fact that Remus hadn't actually seen Tonks since that night at the movies, as she had been recalled to the ministry to help with the annual post-Christmas arrest backlog.
While it was sort of a relief to avoid Sirius' mockery – and the far more frightening question on what his colleagues would say – for now, Remus couldn't help but wish for her to come back sooner. It was ridiculous really, after only four days of absence, but he was already missing her so much it was an almost physical ache.
Sirius had obviously already sorted through his mail, as the obligatory angry parent letters were missing, but he had left an ad about hair dying charms, clearly his idea of a joke. Remus rolled his eyes and tossed it into the fire, picking up the others and walking over to his armchair, when he felt Sirius looking at him. He paused, suspicion rising in him. "What?"
But Sirius wasn't looking at him, but at the letter in his hands. Remus looked down. It was from his mother.
He had a feeling that Tonks would probably lose their bet.
Ignoring the heat that he could feel rising to his face, he continued to his seat, hoping against reason that the animagus had, for once, respected his privacy. Which, Sirius being Sirius, he of course hadn't.
"She says thanks for the gloves," Sirius said, strolling over with his hands in his pockets and coming to a stand right before Remus, grinning down at him in a slightly manic way. "And asks when you'll visit again. Because it's been such a long time since she last saw you..."
Remus said nothing, deciding to give Sirius his moment. Maybe that would lessen his ruthless teasing in the long run.
"So, Moony," Sirius continued, rocking back and forth on his feet with the facial expression of a four-year-old on Christmas morning. A very sadistic four-year-old. "Where exactly did you go that night?"
When Tonks knocked on Remus' office door the next day, he met her on the corridor, partly closing the door before turning to her and pressing a soft kiss onto her lips.
"Hello, Nymphadora," he said, pulling her into a surprisingly firm hug. "I missed you."
Tonks grinned, pressing her face into his robes and inhaling his intoxicating smell. "I missed you too."
So much that I ruined a whole case file by doodling your name all over it. Not that he needed to know that...
"You owe me five sickles." Remus' voice pulled her out of her attempt to melt into his robes. Seeing her confused look, he nodded towards the partly closed door behind him, looking grim except for his eyes that still sparkled with joy. "He reads all my mail and found out I didn't visit my mother."
Tonks groaned inwardly, although she was still grinning. "So now comes the time of I told you so dances? He threatened me with those a lot." As if called a big black head poked out of the doorway, staring up at them with a distinctly un-dog-like grin. Tonks had never seen a smirking dog, but somehow Snuffles managed it.
"We could go to your rooms," Remus said, looking unconvinced.
Tonks sighed. "Will that keep him from being an arse?"
The dog barked, and Remus shook his head. "No. And he'd probably follow us. I'm afraid we'll just have to face it and hope he gets bored at some point." Snuffles barked again, wagging his tail, and bounced back into the room.
Warily, Remus and Tonks followed him. Remus' offer of "Tea" was lost in Sirius' cackling, as he had transformed before the wards were even up, collapsing onto the sofa. "I missed you," he imitated one of their voices – it was done so badly that Tonks' wasn't sure which it was supposed to be – "Merlin's pants, it's been less than a week and you already make me sick. Butterbeer for me, Moony."
Remus held up two fingers in a very un-Remus gesture, and disappeared into the kitchen. Leaving Tonks alone with Sirius and his very unnerving smirk.
"Sooo-" the animagus started, fixating her with a predatory stare. "Finally got his act together, did he?"
Tonks closed her eyes for a moment, trying to gather together some patience. She had spent the last four days dealing with petty crimes, sloppy hexes and half-arsed burglaries; stuff usually left to MLE, and was in dire need of both sleep and relaxation. She had come here with the intention of spending a nice evening with Remus in front of the fire, foolishly forgetting the obnoxious convict that was his room-mate.
"Yes," she answered slowly, sitting down on the sofa.
Sirius' grin broadened. "So how did it happen? Did he do his 'I'm worthless'-monologue? Go all red-eared? Did he jump on you in a fit of jealousy?"
"Jump- what?" Tonks repeated, taken aback.
Sirius smirked. "He has been known to do that. Did I ever tell you-"
He was interrupted when a cup of tea floated past him, making him shoot back with a hiss when the scolding hot pottery narrowly missed his nose.
"Please disregard anything he tells you about my love life. He's a pathological liar," Remus said, coming in from the kitchen and sending the tea on the low table with his wand. His voice was level, but there was a distinct pink tinge to his ears. Tonks had to supress a grin as he sat down next to her, avoiding her eyes and looking very abashed with his fringe falling into his face. It would have been funny if it hadn't also been terribly adorable.
"Still sounds like an interesting story," she said teasingly.
Remus turned his head to her with a pained look. "It really isn't. How was the post-Christmas clean-up?" It was a very obvious ploy to change the topic, but Tonks relented. She could only imagine the horror he had lived through since Sirius had found out about them.
"Hell," she said falling back against the sofa and cradling her mug. "Most of it was MLE stuff, really, but they were totally understaffed so they got us in to deal with it. Thing is, we're qualified to handle Dark Wizards, not angry stepmothers. You get called over a stinging hex and end up mediating a family feud – makes you glad to be an only child who half the family doesn't speak to... I mean seriously, who hides a biting shrinking head in a packet of mince pies?"
Sirius laughed loudly. "Sounds like it could have come from my Dad. Shame he's dead, his presents were always fun."
Remus made a disapproving noise into his tea. "Peter almost lost a foot to that shrinking boot. Fun indeed." Sirius merely rolled his eyes and muttered something like "deserved it" and "traitorous git".
Remus used the time to throw Tonks an apologetic glance. "Sorry," he said quietly, taking her hand and stroking the back of it with his thumb. "If I had known you'd be back early I'd have sent him out with Harry." Tonks' heart leapt at the touch before plummeting down somewhere close to her stomach, and it was with some difficulty that she managed a smile in return, almost losing herself in his warm gaze.
"It's alright. Guess he can use the distraction."
As if on command, Sirius made a loud retching noise. "Urrgh, stop making dove eyes. No-one wants to see that."
Remus looked at her a heartbeat longer, and the corner of his mouth twitched upwards, before he turned to Sirius and raised an eyebrow. "Then look away. This is my place, if I might remind you."
"I'm your guest! Show some hospitality!" Sirius complained. "Where's my girl?"
Remus face contorted in a grimace of disgust. "You don't get one. You treat them appallingly."
"Says the man who throws his girlfriend into a swamp," countered Sirius, grinning again before jumping to his feet. "I'm gonna go and see Harry. Don't take advantage of my cousin, Moony!" With that he was back in dog form, opening the door with his front paws and bounding into the corridor.
Remus, ears again very pink, drew his wand and closed the door, not looking at her. Tonks suddenly felt nervous as well. She had dreamt about being alone with Remus again for the past days – so much that Mad-Eye, who had tried to sneak back into his old job under the cover of Christmas-induced chaos, had actually suspected her glassy eyes to be the effect of an Imperius curse and insisted on having her tested. It resulted in a wasted trip to the De-cursers for her and Mad-Eye being thrown out of the ministry once more.
Now that she was actually in Remus' presence, Tonks suddenly felt very awkward. His hand was still cradling hers, warm and soothing, and when she finally did manage to look at him, she found his eyes fixed on her with a glow in them that made her stomach summersault. "I missed you," she blurted, blushing when she realized they had already said that.
But Remus merely smiled, his free hand reaching forward to touch her arm. "I missed you too," he said softly, closing the distance between them and brought his lips to hers. Almost immediately Tonks felt herself melt into as puddle at the soft touches, relishing in the way that he was moving against her mouth, opening it a little so deepen the kiss in a sensation that was quickly becoming wonderfully familiar.
Without thinking she sneaked her arms around his upper body, pulling him closer while her fingers wound their way into his hair. She fought and lost to suppress a low sigh of content and nearly smirked against his lips when she heard him growl quietly as she was slowly sinking backwards on the couch, pulling him with her until he was practically lying on top of her, bodies pressed together deliciously close.
By the time they separated to get some air, both of them were panting heavily, and Remus' eyes had darkened visibly as he was peering down at her. "Nymphadora-" he breathed in a husky voice, bringing up a hand to cradle her face.
Tonks' head felt very fuzzy, almost fuzzy enough to let slip the use of her hated first name. Almost.
"Just 'cos we're dating doesn't mean you get to call me that," she said, sitting up a little to bring some distance between them so she could stare at him reproachfully.
Remus withdrew slightly, frowning. "I'm not calling you Tonks," he protested, looking so scandalized at the idea that it would have made her laugh if it wasn't such a serious topic.
"Well, you're not calling me Nymphadora either," she stated firmly. For a moment they simply stared at each other, neither prepared to give way.
It was Remus who broke the silence, frowning thoughtfully. "Well...do you have any nicknames? I'm guessing we can rule out Nymphie as well-" he grinned when he saw her distort her face in disgust, and added quickly: "Yes, I don't think I could do that one either. What did your friends at school call you, then? Or your..." he hesitated slightly, and Tonks heart made a leap at the jealousy that was flickering over his face at his next words. "Your previous boyfriends?"
She snorted. "Tonks," she said with a shrug. "Nobody except you ever had a problem with it. Even my family calls me Tonks – " Her face darkened. "well, except my Mum, of course. And Dad-" she hesitated, as an idea came into her head. She looked at Remus and bit her lip, feeling a little uncertain. "You could call me Dora, I guess," she said slowly, gaging his reaction. "If you want to." Remus lips twitched into a smile, but almost immediately his expression grew concerned. "Are you sure?" he asked. "If you hate that as well-"
Tonks took a moment to answer. So far only her Dad and grandparents had called her that, and two of these people were now dead. Tonks had never offered the name to anybody else, firstly because she was happy with Tonks – and few people made such a fuss as Remus did – and secondly because she had never liked it much either, it being a close reminder of that other, more dreadful name. Dora sounded just... not like her.
But this was Remus. And if the alternative was another name-war like the one with her mother, with him calling her Nymphadora and her shouting at him every time, she would rather take the lesser of two evils. It was sort of sweet, she mused thoughtfully, him refusing to call her such an impersonal thing as her surname.
She nodded slowly. "No, it's alright. If...only if you like it, of course," she said, suddenly unsure.
But Remus' smile broadened. "Dora," he said, testing it out on his tongue. "I think it is a wonderful name." He bent down to kiss her once more. "My Dora." Tonks couldn't help but giggle happily at the boyish twinkle in his blue eyes.
"Don't wear it out, or I might change my mind," she said mock-threateningly, and grinned stupidly.
She knew they looked silly, half-lying on the couch on top of each other, grinning like imbeciles, but it seemed blissfully unimportant when she was feeling so happy.