Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to the goddess, JKR. Dedicated to Tiziana, who gave me the idea for this particular pairing in the first place. Takes place after Order of the Phoenix. SPOILER ALERT: There are references to Book 5…you have been warned.
The Chameleon and the Bat
It had been several months since the events that had resulted in the Minister of Magic's dramatic about-face regarding the existence of the Dark Lord. Several months since the death of Sirius Black. Several months since Potter discovered the prophecy surrounding his birth.
But, it had only been a fortnight since Severus Snape's true loyalties had been revealed by a vindictive Wormtail. Severus had barely been able to escape with his skin intact. Only a well-placed Stunning Spell and the fortuitous (if entirely unintentional) blocking of the Cruciatus by Lucius Malfoy had allowed him enough time to charm a portkey and leave the Death Eater meeting, Voldemort's maniacal curses ringing in his ears.
Sitting in the dingy kitchen at number 12, Grimmauld Place, Severus pondered what use he was to Dumbledore now that he could no longer gain access to Voldemort's plans. He stared into his coffee cup and was sorely tempted to throw it against the opposite wall. He felt a strange sort of connection to Sirius Black and understood, to some small degree, what he must have been feeling cooped up in a house that held no happy memories.
"His mother was a tyrant. My father was little better. At least my mother was able to show me some affection when no one else was present," he thought to himself as he drained his coffee cup and grimacing at the fact that it was very cold. "But he was still an arrogant bastard, dead or not."
Getting up, he walked towards the grimy window and looked outside. It was a dreary morning, the sort of morning that made a person want to stick his head under the covers and not come out until afternoon tea.
"What we need is rain…a good cleansing rain," he thought, resting a hand against the windowsill.
A sudden crashing sound made him turn around quickly. Tonks was standing there with an embarrassed expression on her face as she kneeled down to pick up the broken pieces of…well, something breakable.
"Sorry about that, Severus," she smiled at him as she placed all the pieces on the table and, with a quick Reparo spell, restored the teapot she had been carrying. "I hope I didn't startle you."
"Only Voldemort could possibly do that," he sighed before turning back to the window.
"Yes, well, Voldemort will startle anybody now wouldn't he?" she replied.
He didn't answer hoping that she would take the hint and leave him to his idle misery.
"How are you doing?"
Evidently not. He did not answer.
He turned to her in exasperation. "Can you not see that I am not desiring any company at the moment?"
"I was hoping that you could help me," she replied, blushing slightly…which clashed horribly with the magenta hair she was currently wearing.
"I can't help anyone. Not anymore," he resumed his pointless staring out the kitchen windows.
"I am completely useless at brewing a simple Pepper-Up potion and Moody is really sick with a bad cold. I thought you could show me how to put together a few healing draughts and quick remedies and I could keep a supply of things on hand here. "
"I do not have the necessary equipment," Severus sighed.
"Dung can get me any equipment or supplies I need and besides, I can go to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley," she pointed out.
"I'm glad someone can get out of this godforsaken place. Dumbledore seems to think I have to stay here for the time being."
"You should be flattered, Black's mother actually likes you for some reason," Tonks smiled at him. "Do you think I should go blonde?"
"Black's mother is a malignancy that should be excised from this house," Severus replied angrily. He was surprised to see that Tonks did not recoil in fear but almost seemed amused.
"You didn't answer my question. Blonde?"
Severus looked at her face carefully. "Why do you keep changing yourself? You're almost a second-cousin to a chameleon."
"I suppose I should take that as a compliment," she teased, charming the teapot to fill. "Would you like a cup?"
"Why not? It is the sort of day for tea," he quickly rinsed out his cup in the sink and held it out as she poured the steaming amber liquid into it. He sniffed it cautiously.
"It's plain old English tea," she explained as she picked out a cup from the dish rack and poured. "Just in case you thought it was a weird sort of herbal something-or-other."
"I've known you a long time, Tonks and, while your appearance may change, other things do not. I know that you like your tea strong and with plenty of sugar," he pushed the container of sugar in her direction.
"For someone who barely says a word to anyone, you seem to know a great deal about me," she smiled as she proceeded to add four heaping teaspoons of sugar to her tea.
"You're going to rot your teeth like that," Severus grumbled half-heartedly as he methodically placed a level teaspoon of sugar in his cup.
Tonks grinned widely, showing a distinctly vampiric set of fangs.
"Really, Tonks," he smirked, "don't you know that many of my former students believed me to be a vampire?"
"Well, you can be a bit of an overgrown bat," she grinned as she took a sip of her tea. "But I think a vampire is a bit of a stretch."
"I suppose I should take that as a compliment?" He asked, looking out the window again.
She chuckled as she went to sit at the table.
"So, Moody is unwell?" Severus asked, not turning around.
"Sick as a dog, actually. Of course, he says he is fine but he looks far worse than usual."
"How frightening," Severus remarked caustically, noticing that a group of Muggles were trying to chop down a dead oak tree in the adjacent lot. "They're going to kill themselves over there."
"Oh, you mean the wannabe lumberjacks? They've been at it for a few hours. Haven't a clue as to what they're doing."
"Perhaps I could go out there and assist them," he mused aloud.
"Are you insane, Severus? They'll take one look at you and run screaming about men in black," she giggled.
"Am I that hideous?" He turned to look at her in surprise.
She blushed again. "No, of course not. Quite the opposite actually. But your clothes…I mean, it would be a bit out of place."
"I could change into trousers and a sweater. A bit of physical work might do me some good…give me a chance to stretch my muscles a bit." A sudden thought hit him and he stared at the now-blonde Tonks who was looking at her teacup as if it held the secrets to life, the universe and everything. "What do you mean by 'quite the opposite'?"
Tonks mumbled something unintelligible and refused to look at him.
He walked over to her and set his cup on the table. "My apologies, Tonks. I couldn't quite hear you."
She was still blushing when she looked up at him.
"Blonde doesn't suit you, you know," he said softly.
"How about this?" She proceeded to change her hair colour to midnight black, her eyes became the same colour and her nose…
He looked at her with an amused expression. "Is my nose really that large?"
She quickly resumed her normal features, with the notable addition of turquoise hair. "I don't know how you walk around with that thing on your face without falling over."
He chuckled as he sat down next to her. "I answered your question, Tonks, but you have not answered mine."
"Don't be such an ass, you heard me perfectly well," she grumbled as she moved to get up.
Severus put a hand over hers and she immediately sat down again. "You always seem to be running away from me. Why is that?"
"I am not the only one. Any first year would run after that initial speech of yours. I've never forgotten…"
She looked at him in amazement. "No one has ever called me Dora," she said softly.
"It suits you. Now, explain yourself," he persisted with a smirk.
"All right. I think you are a handsome bastard, Severus. Now, you can go dance a jig or something," she snapped, blushing furiously.
He released her hand and reached up to touch her hair. "This doesn't suit you either. I prefer the real you…I always have, you know."
Her hair immediately resumed its natural colour. "You never said anything before."
"Well, I am not exactly the sort of man who expounds ad nauseum on the aesthetic qualities of the opposite sex. Black…well, he often said that the only woman who might interest me would, in all likelihood, talk in her sleep about asphodel and wormwood."
Tonks giggled. "Sounds like something he would say. Poor Black…I suppose we must not speak ill of the dead. But, going back to that intriguing subject, what sort of woman would interest you, Severus?"
He was silent for a moment. "Well, I suppose there are many things that I find appealing in a woman. Intelligence. Bravery. Integrity. Loyalty. Ingenuity. A snarky sense of humour is always appreciated and the ability to change hair colour at the drop of a wand certainly has its…advantages."
"Are you hitting on me, Professor Snape?" She asked quietly.
"Not at all, Ms Tonks. My intentions are far more honourable than merely hitting on you. I was thinking that, perhaps, I could cook dinner for the two of us one night when we are not inundated with bothersome guests. Besides, since I have been rendered rather useless as a spy, I think the idea of helping you put together an emergency supply of healing and restorative potions for the Order has its merits."
"That…well, it sounds lovely," Tonks replied, glancing at him shyly. "But what will happen when Dumbledore decides you have to return to Hogwarts."
Severus ran his hand through her hair again. "I suppose I ask him if I can bring my assistant with me…even if she will probably destroy more cauldrons than Longbottom."
"Typical Slytherin arrogance. If you think I could possibly tolerate working with the likes of you for more than five seconds after that horrendous and completely erroneous assessment of my Potions-making abilities, you are seriously mis…"
She suddenly found herself unable to continue as he leaned forward and gently pressed his lips against hers. And, moments later, when he would have released her, she unexpectedly put her arms around him and held him close to her.
And there was no thought given to the Muggles and their half-hearted attempts to bring down the dead tree. There was no thought given to the dreary day. There was no thought given to the future of the battle.
In fact, there was no thought at all.
When, spent and somewhat overwhelmed by what had just happened, they still held onto one another as if afraid to let go.
"You do realize that any member of the Order could walk in here and find us in this rather compromising position," Severus whispered into her hair.
"I'll tell them you put the Imperius Curse on me," she murmured.
He chuckled as he released her. "Sounds like something the Weasley twins would say. They are always up to something nefarious."
"If I didn't know you better, I would almost say that you missed them."
"Well, they did add a certain excitement to the school year…made it slightly tolerable although I would be a sorted a Hufflepuff before actually admitting to that," he raised his eyebrows as she started giggling again. "What do you find so amusing?"
It took her a while before she could answer. "The thought of you as a Hufflepuff. It's rather frightening you know."
He snorted impressively, sending her into peals of laughter, which immediately aroused the ire of Madame Black's portrait.
"Blast that infernal portrait!! What, in Merlin's name, is going on in here?" Molly Weasley ran into the room with a feather duster in one hand and a can of flesh-eating slug repellant in the other…ready to use both if necessary.
"We were just discussing whether or not I should go blonde, Molly," Tonks giggled as Severus stood up and walked over to the sink with his empty teacup.
"You asked his opinion on something as trivial as that?" Molly rolled her eyes in exasperation. "Honestly, Tonks, you have the tact of a Hippogriff. Can't you see the man is upset and doesn't wish to be bothered?"
"It's quite all right, Molly," Severus replied, as he turned on the water. "I merely told her what I have always thought."
"And what would that be, Severus?" Molly asked, clearly confused at the fact that Tonks had not been hexed into unconsciousness for her impertinence. After all, she herself had not been able to say two words to the man without earning a glare worthy of…well, one of her own.
Severus methodically washed and rinsed his cup before placing it in the small rack to dry. He then turned to Molly with an amused expression.
"I rather like her just as she is. Now, if you will excuse me, there is the small matter of assisting our magically-challenged neighbours with the disposal of a dead tree. Dora, please speak to Dung about procuring the necessary supplies and we can begin brewing immediately. Excuse me, ladies." With a polite nod, Severus pulled out his wand and, muttering a quick spell, changed into Muggle clothing and walked out the back door.
Molly stared at the door for several moments before turning to Tonks. "Care to explain what just happened? And why did he call you Dora?"
But Tonks just smiled and sipped at her tea.