Summary: Lupin Tonks, Moody, Black. Remus and Tonks are part of the Advanced Guard that rescues Harry. What did they really face in order to bring him to the Order of the Phoenix?

Author Notes: Occurs during Order of the Phoenix with events leading to the Advanced Guard. This relies on the physical features of Lupin as presented in the PoA movie. Written Sep 19, 2004. Disclaimer: The characters belong to JK Rowling. The story was written for the pleasure of playing with her characters.

Tonks' Wild Ride

MAELSTROM OF MALES

"I think I should go back tomorrow," said Remus Lupin as Nymphadora Tonks settled into the crook of his arm. They were seated on the sofa of her apartment, he reading a book while she reviewed reports that had been left on her desk at work. It had been her first day back after their Welsh Werewolf adventure. Lupin had been staying with Tonks while he recovered from the full moon. He felt her head perk up as he made his statement.

"It's my cooking, isn't it? Blimey, I bet I'm the only person who can scorch noodles."

He leaned his head against the top of her seagreen hair. He had rarely felt so comfortable with a person, let alone a woman, but he knew they needed some space to continue to sort things out in their relationship. "It's a unique talent, but it has nothing to do with my decision. I've imposed on you long enough."

"Fine, I'm willing to grant you a conditional release."

Lupin quirked an eyebrow. What was she up to? "You've got some nerve. I happen to be a free man."

"Oh, no, you're not. I gave up my rubber duck for you; hence, you are not a free man you are--"

"Are you implying I'm just a substitute for a toy?"

"Ah, the Professor can make the connections," said Tonks with a burst of clapping. She used her wand to draw in the air where she first wrote Tonks' Toy.

"Rubber duck was Tonks' toy," she said as she added the outline of a rather perky duck above the words.

Lupin merely nodded his head at her, although his gaze was skeptical.

"Professor becomes substitute for duck." Here Tonks drew an equal sign by the duck and roughly sketched Lupin's face. He felt compelled to grab his wand and make a few corrections.

Tonks ended by pointing to the words as the duck vanished. "Therefore, Professor is now Tonks' toy."

She gave a quick flick of her wand to make the Lupined sketch wink at his model.

The real Lupin leaned his head back on the sofa as the images disappeared. "Strange, but I do seem to be following your logic."

Tonks leaned over to peck him on the chin. "Not as clueless as you look, eh?"

"All right, Tonks, what are the terms of this 'conditional release' of yours?"

"You have to sleep here at least one night a week, excluding missions and recovery from full moons, of course." Lupin looked like he was considering the wisdom of this when she added, "Don't you feel guilty that I bought that monstrosity of a bed just so you'd feel comfortable?"

She had him there. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. I wish you'd let me do something--"

Tonks flashed her eyebrows quickly while her eyes expressed decidedly lascivious intentions.

He ignored the gesture, although his lips curled into a light smile, as he ended with, "--reasonable and proper in exchange."

Tonks fluttered her eyelashes at him in mock affront. "Fine, I'll barter. You'll own the bed, I'll merely hold it at my flat until you decide to claim it."

"And the price?" asked Lupin.

"Well, since you won't trade your innocence--"

"Are you crossing your fingers behind your back?" he asked as he tried to peer around her.

"Me? How could you think such a thing? No, I'll just take one of your old jackets. In fact, I want the old tweed coat with the brown patches on the elbows."

Lupin looked at her with a bit of surprise. He rarely wore that jacket given the permanent stain on the pocket. "Fine, but I better not see it burning on an effigy of Guy Fawkes come November."

"Deal," said Tonks, then spit into her palm and offered her hand for a shake.

"You're not contagious, are you?" asked Lupin with a straight face. He surrendered immediately when she tried to smother him with a cushion.

Once he could breathe, they settled back against the sofa as they were previously. He didn't take his eyes off his reading as he commented, "You're just afraid of getting lost in that giant bed."

Lupin had noticed that even when he tried to give her personal space, she'd literally chase him around the bed in her sleep until she was nestled against him. He had specifically tested this hypothesis last night and was quite pleased with the results.

"True, but I have other nefarious plans for you." She, too, kept her eyes on her reports as she spoke. "Private lessons should appeal to the scholar in you."

"Lessons? Do tell, Professor Tonks, what lessons?" He lowered his book.

"Just the basics, nothing you can't handle." Tonks continued to focus on her report, but she smirked when she didn't make it to a five count before he spoke again.

"I want to know the curriculum. Actually, the subject matter would be nice. No, from you, I demand a syllabus. Just what do you have planned here?"

Her light laughter filled the room as she looked up at him with wide eyes. "Seduction lessons, Professor Lupin. Attendance is compulsory for the male member, pun intended, of the Chocolate Lovers Without Lovers Club. I mean, how do you expect the club to evolve if things remain status quo? Just consider the one night a week as the price for progress."

Tonks gave a quick tug of her hands to snap the parchment she was reading and settled her head back into the crook of his shoulder.

Lupin brought his book back to reading level. All was silent for a moment before he asked, "And what happens if I don't show up?"

"Didn't Mad-Eye warn you about getting involved with an Auror?" She shifted parchments to read the next report. "I'd hunt you down and throw a net on you. Then I'd haul you in front of the esteemed members of the Order of the Phoenix and let the whole lot of them know just what these private lessons are about."

"You wouldn't."

"I bet not a single one would stop me and that at least half of them would help me. So if you intend on maintaining a discrete relationship in front of our colleagues and your former students, you will comply."

"You play dirty, Tonks; however, all of these threats are meaningless."

Tonks looked up at him with suspicion. "How do you figure that?"

"Because, my dear Aurora, I have every intention of being a star student." And with that he bent his head close to her. His voice was low and husky as he added, "I always wanted to be the teacher's," then he moved his lips within millimeters of hers as he ended with, "pet."

He lifted his head abruptly and promptly immersed himself in his book. Lupin was already laughing as he felt her quickly shifting position to straddle his lap. "I think you've recovered enough for Lesson One: Being a Tease."

"Oh, have I?" he said as he put his book away.

Tonks merely adjusted herself and traced his jaw lightly with her hand. He drew in a quick breath at the gesture, but she contained her smirk as she leaned in and pressed against him. But instead of stealing a kiss, she dodged to the right side of his head.

"Teasing isn't nice, Remus," she whispered in an incredibly sweet, soft purr near his ear. "It could come back to bite you."

He felt her lips lightly touching his earlobe and closed his eyes just waiting for the feel of her warm mouth, but she jumped off his lap and said, "End of Lesson One."

She was smiling brightly at him as she stood in front of him, but then noticed the gleam in his eyes as he collected himself.

Tonks backpedaled and found herself against the door to her flat as she shouted, "Stay away from me! I'm warning you, Remus, stop now! Eek!"

Lupin had just caught her around the waist when they heard a fist beating at Tonks' door.

Bam, bam, bam!

"Tonksie? Tonksie, love, get to the door! I'll save you, popkin!"

Lupin cast a bewildered look at Tonks. Her mouth was opened in surprise. She called through the door to say, "Pops? Is that you?"

"I--I--I think so. Yes? Last time I looked it was," said the disembodied voice.

Tonks opened the door and a man wearing a t-shirt stating Not Ozzy walked in. His hair was very straight, very long, very black and rather stringy. His eyes were covered by square, blue sunglasses and he seemed to look about him in a puzzled way.

"Wotcher, Pops. Everything's fine here." Tonks stood to the side of the two men as she made her introductions. "Um, Pops, this is Remus Lupin. Remus, my dad, Ted Tonks."

Lupin cleared his throat and said, "Pleased to meet you, Mister Tonks."

Ted seemed to startle at the sound of Lupin's voice. His eyes darted around the room then he craned his neck to gaze up at Lupin. One could tell the man was squinting even behind his glasses. "Just how bloody tall are you? Two meters?"

Lupin exchanged a glance with Tonks, but she looked at him with a clear plea for understanding.

"I'm just under, Mister--"

"Ted, the name's Ted, most days. Certainly not Ozzy." The man leaned in to whisper to Tonks. "Big feet, big nose. I assume he also has a big--"

"Dad!"

Lupin merely rocked slightly on his heels and shrugged at her father. There was no way he was going to enter this discussion.

"I--I--I'm just trying to explain the attraction to your Mum, Tonksie. She's been at my place for the past few nights, wailing 'bout ravishing and banishing and vanishing what not. Well, Andi's been so distracted she's even let me--"

"Ugh, Pops, TMI, remember? I really don't want to know what you and Mum are doing."

Obviously Tonks had learned long ago to interrupt her father at opportune moments. Lupin didn't know whether he should be relieved or dismayed by the man, but leaned into her ear to murmur, "TMI?"

"Too much information," whispered Tonks.

Not that Ted noticed their exchange. He was busy glancing around and mumbling to himself. "Oh, well, then, fine, just fine. Yes, TIMI."

Ted now turned his full attention to Lupin and opened his mouth to speak. Lupin waited patiently for something intelligible to emerge, but Ted suddenly turned to his daughter again and said, "You know, this is the first time in four years that your mum's let me--"

"Good for you, Pops. How about some tea?" asked Tonks brightly as she lost no time making her way to the kitchen area.

Ted suddenly clutched his throat as a pained expression grew on his face. Lupin moved forward in concern and asked, "What's wrong? Is it your heart?"

Ted stopped just as suddenly and called, "Me ticker's just fine, but a man should be offered something a wee bit stronger than tea by his daughter."

Lupin could only turn in disbelief to Tonks. She shrugged, took out a shot glass, filled it with firewhisky and quickly walked back to offer it to her father. Ted drank it down in one gulp.

Lupin was certainly not feeling threatened by the man, although his erratic behavior was somewhat off-putting. He became wary when Ted tossed the glass in the direction of the kitchen sink and pulled out his wand.

However, Ted used the wand to scratch at his back saying, "Hate this shirt. Bad fabric."

Tonks sighed in relief as she walked to pick up the glass, but gasped in alarm when Ted suddenly pointed his wand at Lupin's heart. It would have been frightening if not for the wobble. He demanded, "All right, out with it. Uh, are you, do you, will you turn my daughter into some beastie thingy?"

Tonks was calculating how quickly she could get to her wand by the sofa when she heard Lupin emit a shrill whistle. Ted startled at the sound and Lupin simply grabbed the wand out of his hand.

"Ted, I understand your apprehension--" Lupin began to speak, but realized his mistake when Ted turned white. He had been pointing with the wand. He lowered it and continued, "--about your daughter, but I would not endanger her with my lycanthropy. We've taken precautions. I hold her in the highest regard and I have nothing but honorable intentions toward Nymphadora."

"Who?" asked Ted as his eyes blinked quickly behind his shades.

Tonks was just rolling her eyes as Lupin said, "Your daughter, Nymphadora Tonks."

Ted squinted and scrunched up his face as if thought processes were an uncommon event. He turned to Tonks and said, "He's a bit of a boffin, ain't he? How d'ya put up with it, Tonksie?"

Tonks opened her mouth to defend Lupin, but her father had a point. The man was very intelligent and, considering his shabby wardrobe, didn't dress well. She settled for rubbing her forehead as she spoke.

"Pops, Remus was a professor at Hogwarts, okay? Now will you just tell Mum that I'm fine? I'll talk to her if she apologizes for attacking a guest in my home. She just needs to stop obsessing about my relationship with Remus."

Ted looked chagrined. "You--you--you 'spect me to remember all that?"

Lupin found himself mirroring Tonks' gesture as he raised his hand to rub his forehead, but at least his left eye wasn't twitching like hers. All parties present were relieved when Tonks said, "I'll write a note to Mother, all right?"

Ted just nodded his head and it seemed to keep nodding on its own as Tonks hurried to the bedroom. She managed to give a light squeeze to Lupin's arm as she passed. She did whisper, "Keep his wand."

Lupin nodded and turned his attention to Ted, but couldn't think of a thing to say. He read the shirt and asked, "Who's Ozzy?"

"Well, it's not me, now is it?" Ted looked around with paranoia.

Lupin said reassuringly, "Certainly not."

"Oh, good. You gave me a fright there."

Lupin found he couldn't blame Andromeda for leaving the man. It was obvious that Tonks had somehow achieved a greater level of maturity than either of her parents.

"Ted, can I get you anything? Another firewhiskey, perhaps?"

"N-no, no, one's my limit if I hope to get another go at Andi. She only ever comes 'round when she's fretting over the young one, but when that woman is ready, she's--"

"I assume you're very proud of Nymphadora, er, Tonksie," interrupted Lupin.

"Are you kidding? She gave up being a groupie hanging out with the Weird Sisters to be an Auror. Never could understand her decision 'bout that. Talk about dull! Figure it's just another childhood whim."

"Being an Auror is my career, Pops. I'm not changing my mind. And I wasn't a groupie, I was a singer in the backup band," called Tonks as she overheard the last bit of the conversation. She walked swiftly to him and said, "Remember to give this to Mother."

Ted took the parchment cautiously. He was looking at it grimly when Lupin offered his wand back to him. "My wand? Where did you find it?"

Rather than let Lupin answer, Tonks pushed her father to the door and added with just a touch of sadness, "It's sweet of you to care, Pops, but really, you have nothing to worry about with Remus and me."

"Don't let him talk down to you, Tonksie. You've got a good head that hasn't been muddled up with Muggle drugs like mine has." Ted leaned forward and gave his daughter a quick peck on the cheek.

"I can hold my own with Remus, don't fret. And don't disapparate; take the bus back."

"But I can't ride the Knight Bus! Stan expelled me and Andi four years ago when he caught us--"

"TMI, Pops, TMI," said Tonks. She put her hand on his shoulder and said, "I meant the Muggle bus, okay."

"Yeah, the big red one. Right then," said Ted as he walked away. He kept repeating, "Red, that's it..."

Tonks closed the door and leaned against it with her eyes tightly shut. She couldn't begin to imagine what Lupin thought of her dysfunctional family. "Would you believe he was the brightest student of his class at Hogwarts? And in Ravenclaw, to boot. But then he decided to immerse himself in the Muggle world again and..."

Her voice dropped off and Tonks shook her head. "They're a bunch of loons, Remus, but I love them."

She was surprised at hearing Lupin's voice so close to her. He leaned in to say, "Then maybe there's hope for me."

Tonks felt his lips touching hers as he initiated a kiss. Did he understand how this would ease her pain whenever she thought of the lost promise in her father? How she needed the reassurance that he could still want her? Her hand came up behind his head to welcome the contact.

Lupin responded by deepening the kiss as his arms brought her close in his embrace. He didn't want to go back to the lonely man he had been for all those years. He'd gladly put up with the raging mother and befuddled father just to be able to share moments like this with their daughter, a minor miracle called Nymphadora Tonks.

The magic of the moment was interrupted by a loud rap on the door. Bam, bam, bam!

"Tonks? Lupin? Quit snogging against the door and open the damn thing."

They jumped apart like two errant students caught in the act.

Tonks pulled her door opened to find Alastor Moody at the threshold. He pointed at Lupin and said, "You, get yourself back to Headquarters and stop that reckless mate of yours from doing something rash. I don't care if you have to stupefy him. Tonks, we need you, too."

"What's the emergency?" asked Lupin as they quickly donned their robes and grabbed their wands.

"Dementors attacked Harry Potter."

"What?" Tonks and Lupin spoke simultaneously.

"Arthur has the details, now quit gaping like twin fish and let's go."

- - - - - - - - -

All was chaos at number twelve Grimmauld Place when the trio arrived. It was difficult to tell who was yelling louder, Sirius Black or the portrait of his mother.

"I've had enough! I'm taking MY GODSON away from those people NOW!"

Sirius shrugged off Arthur Weasley only to run straight into Remus Lupin, who put his hands on his shoulders to stop him. "You aren't going anywhere tonight, Padfoot."

"And you think you can stop me?" snarled Sirius. His eyes were flashing in defiance.

"You're outnumbered, Black--" began Moody.

"Stay out of it, all of you," said Lupin tersely.

The adults moved away from them, but looked on in apprehension. Tonks was biting her lip and exchanged a quick glance with Moody.

Lupin dropped his hands from Sirius and took a step back, but in the next instant both men drew their wands. The clash of Expelliarmus flashed above their heads.

Sirius was infuriated! Stupefy! A brighter light flashed in the hall, but the damn werewolf still stood there with that irritatingly calm look on his face. Immoblilis! Again the sparks lit up the hallway. The adults ignored the gasp of the teenagers huddled around the stairwell.

The frustration was clear in his voice when Sirius said, "I don't want to hurt you, Moony. Stand down."

"Why? I'd rather kill you myself than leave you to the Dementor's kiss." Lupin's eyes held that cold truth.

It was enough to make Sirius lower his wand a little, but then his protective side rose again. "Harry needs me! This is some set up--"

"Precisely the point, Padfoot. Harry does need you, alive and with your soul intact. And of course this is a set-up. Why send Dementors? Think, Sirius."

Sirius blinked a few times, but sudden rage filled his face and he seemed to pour all of his fury out of the tip of his wand.

"REMUS!" His name was ripped out of Tonks' throat, but Lupin's reaction surprised them all.

He wasn't using his wand, but capturing the outflow from Sirius in the palm of his left hand. It was a level of wandless magic that few could hope to master. It was a legend that harkened back to the Roman Wizards who didn't need a wand to trap the energy of their magic. The crack signifying apparation was lost in the moment.

"Enough of this." Dumbledore's voice broke through to Sirius as the Headmaster raised a hand palm up. Later the others would think that Dumbledore had intervened to protect Lupin, but Tonks would know the truth and Moody would know that Lupin had contained the fury.

Sirius was breathing heavily as he lowered his wand. He looked at his friend who now appeared as weak as he had ever seen him after a full moon. Tonks had rushed to his side and was chanting a healing spell over Lupin's left hand.

"Remus?" asked Sirius. He couldn't believe what he had just tried to do. "What have I done?"

"It's all right, Sirius, don't worry about me. Just listen to the Headmaster now. We're all here to protect Harry. Go on." Lupin was now visibly leaning against Tonks.

Sirius looked like he was about to say something more when Moody clapped him on the shoulder and firmly led him to the kitchen after Dumbledore. Molly Weasley was even now shouting at the teenagers to get up to bed. A modified obliviate spell would make this all seem like a bad dream to them.

It wasn't until the hallway was deserted that Lupin said quietly, "Nymphadora, please don't take offense, but I'm getting quite tired of being attacked by your relatives."

His eyes rolled to the back of his head before he collapsed.

- - - - - - - -

Lupin could hear the soft male voice singing and felt comforted as he recognized the melody.

"Why, oh why, the woodpecker sighs, can't the bark of the tree be as soft as the sky. And the wolf waits below, all hungry and lonely, and cries to the moon, if only, if only..."

Then a woman's voice joined the man as the song repeated. It was a vibrant voice, one that brought colors into the images floating through his mind. He made the connection and whispered, "Tonks?"

The song abruptly stopped and Lupin's eyes fluttered opened. Nymphadora Tonks was indeed sitting next to him on his bed at Grimmauld Place. Standing at the foot of the bed was Sirius Black.

"I better go, Tonks." Sirius couldn't disguise the regret in his voice as he turned his back.

"Don't," said Lupin just a bit louder.

Sirius spoke without turning. "Remus, I'm not up to one of your lectures about duty, or the price of friendship or the foolishness of a broken man."

"Shut up, Sirius," croaked Remus, "and do the bloody song the right way. You know."

Tonks beckoned Sirius to sit when he turned in surprise. She wasn't sure what was going on, but obviously this ritual was seeded in the past of the Marauders.

"You're joking!" said Sirius, but still he settled himself at the foot of the bed.

"Do it and all is forgiven."

Tonks could see Lupin's trying to dampen his smile. What on earth was this about?

Sirius suddenly changed into Snuffles. He sat on his haunches on the bed at Lupin's feet, seemed to clear his throat, and began. Tonks could feel the light chuckles coming from Lupin as Snuffles howled out the melody of the song that had been sung earlier.

The three of them were laughing by the end when Snuffles transformed back into Sirius. He caught his breath as he sat up from the bed, shook his head and said, "I can't believe there's a witness to my humiliation."

"Serves you right, Padfoot," said Lupin.

"Go back to sleep before I'm tempted to knock you out again." Sirius approached Lupin's side and glared down at him, but the grin that broke out on his face belied his words.

"Harry?" Lupin asked.

"He's staying at Privet Drive until we finalize arrangements to collect him. It'll take a few days," said Tonks.

"Good night, Moony," said Sirius with a quick ruffle of his friend's hair.

Lupin reached for his hand and drew Sirius into a quick embrace. "It's all right, Sirius. I understand."

"So do I, Remus." Sirius took a deep breath, nodded to Tonks, and left them alone.

Tonks looked at the door for a long moment as the silence stretched on. Finally she said, "You love him very deeply."

"Even when I thought he had destroyed our friends," admitted Lupin as he settled back against the pillows. He kept her hand clasped in his. "That's what made it hurt so much."

Tonks brushed Lupin's forehead. The man had barely recovered from the full moon. Now this. She thought about the duel and asked the question. "You meant it, didn't you? You'd kill him rather than see him lose his soul?"

"I think I would, but I never want to test it again." She thought he'd say no more when he added, "I don't want to fail him again, Tonks. Sirius is the best tie that Harry has left to his parents."

Tonks watched as his eyes closed again and Lupin drifted off to sleep. She quietly said, "You're wrong, Remus. Harry also has you."

She kissed his forehead and decided to hell with convention. Tonks kicked off her shoes and settled against Lupin.

Neither occupant heard Molly Weasley opening the door to check up on Remus Lupin. She gasped sharply when she saw them, but then felt Arthur's hand on her shoulder.

"Oh, look, Molly. Tonks is staying up all night just to keep an eye on Remus. Nice of her, don't you think?"

The woman in question only responded to the sound of voices by nestling closer to her bedfellow and wrapping his arm around her waist when he turned in response.

"You're right, Arthur. It is nice of her." Molly closed the door and let her husband lead her away.

TBC

Author Notes:

This story should have two chapters, three if I get too long winded next. It sets up events leading and through the Advance Guard and Harry's arrival at number twelve. This chapter occurs on the evening of the Dementor attack. I didn't describe Sirius subsequently writing the note to Harry about staying put or Dumbledore's howler to Aunt Petunia because, well, who could write that better than JKR? The "true" moon phase is all wrong, I think, but just go with the story.

Apparation to Grimmauld Place. I figure the person who cast the fidelus charm on the place, aka, Dumbledore, would be the one person who could apparate into it. All others apparate nearby, then enter. The Twins, of course, prove you can apparate within number twelve once you're there.

Yes, for some reason I saw Ozzy Osbourne as a good model for Ted Tonks, don't quite know why. I feel compelled to torture Remus with future in-laws who aren't his cup of tea, but that doesn't mean some redeeming qualities won't evolve.

Regarding the duel between Sirius and Remus. The point was to demonstrate that unlike their time at Hogwarts, Remus now understands the price for not standing up to his friend when he's being reckless. And here I wanted to paint a Sirius who puts Harry above ANYONE else, even an old friend like Remus. He does come to his senses and Remus got his revenge in the "song."

Regarding the Roman ancestry. I hadn't fleshed out too much of it, but for some reason the image of Lupin waving his hand over the chest that contained the Boggart to release it in the movie planted a seed that he could be proficient at wandless magic. So, this is a detail I've decided might be part of his legacy. He taps it sporadically because it carries a price. I'll be working on the Wolfmoat story after I finish this one and get another fluffy piece out.

Thank you for reading, reviewing, and recommending fics, sites, that contain Lupin/Tonks. I'm always saying I appreciate the support your comments bring to me because it never ceases to be true. Again, I'm glad you can share a smile, feel a little sad at times, but then be comforted by the developing relationship of the major players.

(This story can be read as a stand alone, but if you're new to the series and are interested, just hit Queriusole and the list of stories will come up. But I hope it isn't necessary to enjoy the story.)