Remus knew yearning . . . It was an emotion that always seemed to haunt him, but he'd learned to live ignoring it. He never once felt sorry he didn't have something he wanted; he was against self-pity. He'd yearned for women before (even had a serious girlfriend when he was younger), but he had never yearned for a woman as he did this one.
"You don't think we'll raise any unwanted suspicion by having lunch together? We're all supposed to act like we don't know each other," Tonks babbled as they stepped inside The Three Broomsticks.
"Not at all," Remus assured. "I came for business at Hogwarts and happened to run into you, Nymphadora Tonks, cousin of my old pal Sirius Black. It's only logical that we'd want to have lunch and catch up."
"Will anyone think that hard about this?" She arched an eyebrow.
"If they do, I pity them."
Tonks laughed. They sat down at a booth with a window, sitting across from each other. "I adore Hogsmeade," she sighed. "It brings back memories of childhood. I always used to save any money I could scrounge up - then I'd go and blow it on pranks. 'Course . . . I was so clumsy that the pranks usually ended up turning back on me."
Remus smiled. "Yes. Hogsmeade . . . Definitely has some memories." Remus thought of the Shrieking Shack, a building that brought the bad with the good memories.
"Oh no! None of that!" Tonks said. "You and I - we're going to have a right lovely lunch together. I won't let any sad eyes at this table."
A small smile spread across Remus' face. "Agreed."
Rosemerta appeared, friendly smile in place. "Well, these are two faces I certainly haven't thought of seeing in a long time - especially together," she said, sounding pleased. "Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks."
They both greeted her.
Rosemerta's eyes sparkled. "I don't know if I should trust you two. No pranks?"
"No pranks," they agreed simultaneously.
"I'm happy to hear." She flipped out her notebook. "What will you two be having this afternoon?"
They ordered their food, exchanged a few friendly words with Rosemerta, and she left to fetch their orders.
"I had a lovely date last night," Tonks announced brightly once they were alone.
Remus swallowed uncomfortably. "Er . . . Really?"
"Yes. It was an old mate of mine, Arnold Hemmelflenger. We ran into one and other at the Ministry and decided to have dinner. We might look into inviting him in the Order."
Remus immediately felt dislike for the man, but he kept to himself. "I thought you were single and loving it," he said casually.
Tonks looked thoughtful. "Oh, I don't know. I doubt anything will happen with Arnold - though he is such a dear. I just have trouble finding someone I'm attracted to who can stand me."
"Forgive me for sounding cliché, but you're quite easy to stand, Tonks."
"Why thank you, Remus. I know this must be tiring. You must think I'm immature and whiny, but I appreciate you spending time with me." She sniffed. "Some people in the Order make it clear that I'm unwanted."
"I find your company extremely enjoyable. You make me feel young again." It was true, and not just because of his attraction to her. She was fresh, vibrant, funny, able to laugh at herself, and so much that it sometimes overwhelmed Remus. "I don't think it's that Molly doesn't want you. You just . . . Exasperate her."
Rosemerta showed up with a tray of hot food and two mugs of Butterbeer. "Here's your food." She set the two plates in front of them. "So . . . What have you two been up to?"
"I'm working at the Ministry of Magic," Tonks said proudly. "Remus here is doing some traveling."
"Ah." Rosemerta looked between them with an odd expression. "You know, you're an unlikely couple . . . But you look good together."
"Oh!" Tonks blushed, and Remus smirked. "We're not dating. I've known him for years; Sirius used to bring him around. We ran into each other at Hogwarts, and he invited me to lunch for a bit of catching up."
"Completely platonic," Remus added with a lecherous wink.
"I see." Rosemerta looked mildly amused. She turned around at the sound of the door opening. "Well, I have some more customers, but thank you for stopping by. I miss all of the old Hogwarts students." She grinned. "The new ones don't know how to pull a proper prank on me."
Tonks glared at Remus after Rosemerta left. "You were acting like Sirius there."
Remus shrugged. "I live with the man - some of his traits are bound to rub off."
"She thinks we're having some kind of affair now."
"Let her think what she wants."
Tonks thought a bit. Then she shrugged. "You're right." She smiled wickedly. "We should tease her, you think?"
Remus' eyes sparkled. "Maybe I should throw you down on the table and have you in front of all these people." He felt his stomach twist. The thought of doing just that was a little bit too appealing.
Tonks was dumbfounded for a moment. "R-Remus . . . You're getting even worse. I'm afraid your humor is taking a dangerous turn into Siriusville." She regained her manner. "Not only that, but fornicating in public is frowned upon."
Remus laughed. "You're charming, Nymphadora."
Tonks raised her eyebrows. "We've been over this, Remus."
"Oh, but Nymphadora is such a lovely name," Remus said sadly.
"Yes, for a stuffy librarian maybe. Do I look like a stuffy librarian to you?" She pointed to her choice attire of the day: a dainty nose, orange eyes, and long black hair.
"Of course not. But then, I don't really know what you look like. The real you."
There was a long pause. Tonks' eyes were searching as she asked softly, "Would you like to?"
Remus locked gazes with her. "Yes," he said simply, but the answer seemed complex with its unspoken answers to her equally unspoken questions.
The atmosphere seemed to cackle. Remus felt it in his bones. This moment was to be a defining one.
Tonks scrunched up her nose. Her hair turned wavy and caramel brown, still long. Her eyes changed to a murky green. Her nose grew a little longer and narrower. Her looks were ordinary, but Remus felt his heart start beating faster than usual.
Tonks' eyes were riveted to his. She had a look of yearning that Remus could indeed recognize. He reached across the table and took her hand impulsively. "You should stay like that more often."
Tonks smiled and looked pleased. "I always thought I was plain."
Remus shook his head. "You're . . . Captivating," he breathed, afraid of his admission.
Tonks stood very still, looking both confused and hopeful.
"I'm captivated," Remus amended in a whisper. He looked down suddenly, breaking their link. He knew he shouldn't be doing this. Not with Tonks, he shouldn't.
"Are you?" Tonks ventured. She looked eager for an answer.
He ran a thumb across her wrist. She sucked in her breath and shut her eyes tight. Remus watched her reaction, fascinated that he could do this to her. "Captivated," he repeated, his voice gruffer than usual.
"A casual encounter, eh? I'd say we don't need a furnace with you two heating things up."
Both looked up to see Rosemerta. Remus jerked his hand away from Tonks', blushing profusely. "The check, I presume."
"Brilliant deduction, Remus." Her eyes sparkled. "We also have a few rooms available . . ."
Tonks narrowed her eyes. "We're fine, thanks," she muttered.
"Suit yourself." Rosemerta shrugged. "I'll take your plates. And . . . More Butterbeer?"
"We'll be leaving shortly." Remus pulled out a few coins. "Keep the change. Thank you for a lovely lunch."
"Come back again. I enjoyed having you two."
Remus and Tonks both got up from their booth and left The Three Broomsticks. They were out on the path walks when Tonks stopped him from going any further. Their eyes locked again, and Remus used his to express everything he couldn't say out loud.
"I probably shouldn't be doing this," he murmured, his hand coming up to touch her cheek, "but I can't help myself."
"How long have you felt this way?" She nuzzled against his hand.
"Recently. Longer than I should have." Remus closed the space between them. "May I?"
"Please," she whispered.
Remus leaned down as she leaned up, and their lips connected together. She let out a small noise and clutched at his shoulders as if for support. Remus felt her surrender beneath him, and it fueled his desire. He started out slowly exploring, but as time wore on, he couldn't help but ravage her mouth, eager and wanting for more.
He could have stayed their all day. He wanted to fall into Tonks and never come back up. But dimly he recalled that they were on a public street. He pulled away breathlessly, and she looked at him in confused hurt. "I very much want to continue this, Tonks." He looked around. "Just not here."
Tonks seemed suddenly aware of the stares they were getting. She straightened herself. "Right. Right. Back to headquarters, then?"
"Wisest idea." Remus grinned. "Unless you want to take Rosemerta up on her offer of that room . . ."
Tonks shook her head. "No, I think I'm fine, thank you. Rain check?"
"I thought you'd never ask."