Disclaimer: These aren't my puppets, I just snuck in to play.
As Remus and Tonks reentered Grimmauld Place, they noticed the panicked rush of things, and were flung unceremoniously into the front room by Mad Eye Moody.
"Good, you're back. We'll fill you in on what Dumbledore will have us doing tonight."
They looked at each other for a minute before sitting down on the couch amongst a few other Order members.
Moody began speaking. "Now that we're all here…"
Tonks was sure she should be paying attention, but at the moment, she was finding it very difficult to concentrate on said mission. It wasn't until she heard Moody mention the ball that she looked up.
"As you know the Auror Ball is taking place tonight, and I'm sorry for those of you who can't attend. We will still have a few people going to keep an eye on Ministry dealings. Bill, Arthur and Molly will all be in attendance if we need to reach them for any reason. Kingsley, have you already taken care of things with your date?"
Kingsley nodded. "Yeah. She was a bit peeved, but I got someone to escort her."
Moody turned to Tonks. "And Tonks, you should find someone to take your date. Or at least inform him you won't be going."
Tonks opened her mouth to say something when Remus spoke up. "That uh, won't be necessary. I'm going to get Harry as well." He smiled at Tonks who looked sheepishly at Moody.
Moody's good eye narrowed at Remus and his magical eye stopped rolling around so much in his head and fixed steadily at him. Remus shifted a bit uncomfortably under Moody's scrutinizing gaze. After what felt like an eternity to Remus, Moody nodded.
"Well…good choice Tonks. No need for secrets or sneaking around and such. But mark my words, there is to be no funny business on this mission or so help me…" he didn't finish the sentence, but everyone in the room had caught his meaning. Many were hiding smiles and casting amused looks at the two embarrassed lovers.
"Lupin, you're to be leading us once we get to the Dursleys. Dumbledore says that Harry trusts you. That's good. He's probably watching himself now that Voldemort is back." Some winced at the name, others looked ready to fight.
When the meeting was adjourned, Tonks and Remus remained on the couch. Tonks had a mixture of confusion and anger on her face.
"What's wrong?" Remus asked, looking over a letter Kingsley had handed him.
Tonks looked at him. "How come Bill and Arthur still get to go, and we're stuck here, doing work? Not that I want Harry to stay there any longer," she added hastily, "But why us?"
"You heard Dumbledore, Harry trusts me, and Moody highly regards you as someone who can do a god job. Its not out of spite."
Tonks huffed and tucked her legs under her, picking at the fraying edges of the sofa. "I suppose. Its not exactly fair though is it?" she asked, hoping she could get Remus to agree with her.
"No one ever said life was fair, darling." Remus said as he leaned over to try and give her a comforting kiss.
Tonks stood up quickly. "Remus! Don't you think its unfair? Aren't you angry, or at least, I don't know, disappointed that we don't get to go? That we don't get to forget about this whole bloody business for one night and just have a good time?"
Remus sighed heavily as he ran a hand through his hair. "What do you want me to say, Dora? Of course I wanted to go with you. Of course I'm disappointed. Why wouldn't I be? But we can't turn our backs on our duty. We have a responsibility to keep other people safe, and sometimes it comes with sacrificing what we don't need." He stood up and walked towards her.
As he got closer to her, he noticed her eyes were glistening. But this time, the expression was not one of sadness, but of anger. He reached out to grab her arms. "Please, Dora-"
She pulled away again. "I uh, I need to go and cool off somewhere." She flung open the door and a blast appeared from the end of her wand.
"Stop eavesdropping, Sirius. Or one day you'll wake up with no more ears, and you won't be able to hear a thing." She ran off upstairs and Remus heard a door slam.
He flopped back onto the couch as a sooty faced Sirius came into the room.
Sirius sat down next to Remus. "I think she needs to get laid," he said, sounding a bit bored.
Remus shot him a look. "Excuse me?"
"Well, perhaps she wouldn't be feeling so uptight and angry if she was getting some. I suppose I'll leave that business up to you then."
Remus put a hand to his forehead. "Sirius, I know this might sound hard to believe. But you're really not helping right now."
"Look, you just need to give her a bit of time to cool off. She'll come 'round. She's got it bad for you. If she didn't, why would she be making such a big deal about tonight. Once she realizes she'll get to spend time with you no matter where you guys are, she'll be happy again. And that's the Tonks we all know and love." Sirius stood up. "Want me to leave you alone?" he asked.
Remus shrugged. "You can stay, if you'd like. I was just planning to sit here until its time to go. But if you'd care to join me, be my guest."
Sirius sat back down and the two of them sat in comfortable silence, waiting for the heated Auror upstairs to cool down a bit.
The mission to collect Harry ran very smoothly. Tonks remained a bit cool and quiet towards everyone on the way, however upon seeing Harry, she smiled and even offered to help him pack. It was mostly because she couldn't sit down there in the kitchen under Remus' apologetic eye, for fear she might melt into the ground. He was giving her the 'I'm ever so sorry, won't you please take me back' look and it was working on her rather too well.
The only thing really still keeping her anger afloat was that every once in awhile, when she noticed the time, she would stop and think about what she and Remus would have been doing at the ball, and this would fuel her anger again, not quite ready to forgive anyone yet.
When they all arrived back at Grimmauld Place, an Order meeting was about to get underway. Tonks felt another upsurge of anger. This brought on mainly by the sight of Bill, Arthur and Molly who had just changed out of their ball attire and were beaming happily over the lovely evening they had had.
Remus came up next to her. "Are you better now?" he asked, putting his hand at the small of her back, guiding her towards the room where the meeting was being held.
Any other time and Tonks would have been floating with happiness at their close proximity. But this time, a perfect idea had just hit her. She moved away from Remus towards the stairs.
"Where are you going?" he asked as she started going up the stairs.
"I'll be right back. Just uh, just tell them I went to the loo."
Remus look confused as he stepped into the large room where everyone had gathered for the meeting.
Moody looked over the little crowd of people as he and Dumbledore stood at the back of the room. All eyes fell on them as Dumbledore cleared his throat politely.
"Is everyone in?" Moody asked, his magical eye glancing around the room. Everyone looked around, nodding in agreement.
Remus coughed quietly. "Um, Tonks went to the restroom," he said softly, his cheeks turning a tinge of pink as a few people from earlier smiled knowingly and he was pretty sure he saw Kingsley wink at him.
Upstairs, Tonks felt a bit breathless as she went to the closet and pulled out the dress that she had been scheduled to wear that evening. That is, before everything had gone horribly to pieces.
She reasoned, that if Sirius had spent all that money on her to buy the bloody dress, and she had spent all that time looking for the perfect dress, why shouldn't she get to wear it?
She slipped it over her head and twirled around in the mirror. The thought crossed her mind of how ridiculous she would look at the Order meeting dressed like that, but she pushed the thought away, replacing it with the thought of how unfairly things had worked out.
She studied her hair in the mirror. Surely the bubblegum pink hair would have to go. She shook her head and the hair now falling around her face was a honey brown and slightly waved as it came a little past her shoulders.
Tonks pouted her lips at her reflection and seemed pleased with the effect. She eyed the black heels that were sitting in the corner with a mistrusting eye. She picked them up and told herself she'd put them on before she went into the room.
As Tonks peeked her head around the door (she didn't want to run into any of the teens, thinking it would just result in awkward questions and silences etc), she heard voices from a few people entering the meeting downstairs. She slipped out and ran down the stairs.
Remus sat at the backmost table from the front where Moody and Dumbledore stood. He drummed his fingers on the table nervously as he glanced at the door, wondering where Tonks had run off to. He took a sip from his glass of water and turned around as he heard the door open behind him.
He nearly spit out the water as Tonks came gliding into the room. Well, as close to gliding as someone as clumsy as Tonks could manage.
She had almost managed to reach the chair next to Remus without incident, when one of her blasted heels sent her flying. Unceremoniously, she slammed into the nearest chair in front of her which happened to be seating none other than Severus Snape.
Remus physically winced at her horribly bad luck, a combination of falling and happening to fall right into Snape. Remus rushed to help her up, both their faces showing visible signs of total embarrassment.
Snape turned around looking livid and it only took Remus a minute to figure out why. The entire contents of a goblet filled with red wine had spilled all down the Potion master's robes. To be honest, he had to bite his lip to keep himself from laughing at the positively ridiculous look on Snape's face.
Tonks, on the other hand, looked a bit terrified. "Oh! Oh Severus, I'm really sorry. Here, let me help-" Tonks reached for a napkin lying on the table to help him, when Snape shoved her hand away.
"Please, Miss Tonks. I think you've done enough damage as it is and given your track record, help from you usually constitutes in someone ending up at the hospital." Tonks looked down, a bit ashamed.
Anger flared up in Remus and he put an arm around her waist. In speaking, his voice remained collected, no matter how much he wanted to lash out at the vile man. "Really Severus, it was just an accident. You needn't be rude about it."
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Sirius reaching for his wand at the inside pocket of his jacket. Remus pleaded for all their sakes that Sirius didn't plan to do anything stupid. But it was Sirius, so there was no guarantee.
Remus pulled a chair out for Tonks and they both sat down, his eyes fixed on Sirius, ready to counter an attack Sirius might send Snape's way. As much as he may have loathed Snape, he wasn't ready to pull the two off each other during a meeting. Again.
With a wave of his wand, Snape had cleared away any traces of the spilled wine and he sat back down in a huff. In a caustic tone he said, "At least I take the Order seriously, instead of showing up dressed for a fancy dress party."
That was the last straw for Remus. He stood up again, ready to defend Tonks' honor as the perfect gentleman his mother had raised him as. A real gentleman was never to insult a lady. As soon as he stood up, flashes of ridiculous looking challenges and old fashioned duels flew through his mind. Surely there must have been a more updated way to uphold a lady's honor.
But before he could think of anything to do, Snape was already lying on the floor across the room and Remus heard the echo of an "Expelliarmus!".
Sirius was standing up, looking furious, his arm outstretched and his wand pointing to where Snape had been standing a few seconds before he was knocked off his feet.
Dumbledore cleared his throat again, this time it was louder and his implied control over the group pulled rank. Sirius and Remus sat down and Snape scrambled back to his seat, looking even angrier than before, but he said nothing more.
"Thank you for joining us, Miss Tonks. I trust the in house entertainment is finished and we can continue with our meeting?" Dumbledore's eyes twinkled knowingly (something they hadn't done in quite some time). Tonks was bright red as she nodded and slumped further into her seat.
The meeting was shorter than most of the others and as it ended, Tonks found that she had once again, been tuned out for the duration of it. As people started moving and heading towards the door, she stood up quickly and rushed to the safety of the kitchen, a place where only people who were staying for dinner would turn up.
Tonks entered the kitchen and sat down in one of the chairs. It was empty, seeing as Molly was the one who did the cooking, and she was still out in the hall talking.
Tonks felt completely embarrassed. Not only had she made a complete idiot out of herself in front of the entire Order (half of who would never take her seriously again), but she was now sitting in the kitchen alone feeling sorry for herself.
She didn't bother to look up as she heard the door open. Someone pulled out the chair next to her and sat down in it.
"I don't understand what Snivellus was talking about, these costumes are pretty comfortable. Now I almost wish we were headed to a fancy dress party."
Tonks looked up at the sound of his comfortingly familiar voice. He was sitting with one leg over the other in his tuxedo and smiling at her.
Tonks laughed and buried her head in his shoulder. He laughed as well, pulling her closer to him. "Have I told you how beautiful you look in that dress?" he asked, kissing her head.
Dinner that night was certainly an interesting sight. Remus and Tonks were seated at the head of the table at everyone's insistence. They were still wearing their dress clothes and as each kid walked in, they were forced to explain their situation. But they did it through broad smiles and giggles.
Everyone had laughed when Sirius recounted exactly how Snape had gone flying across the room after being spilled upon. Molly, Arthur and Bill, after being goaded into it by everyone else, had spilled details of the ball. Tonks was especially glad that she had missed the waltz.
After dinner they had wandered into the front room, adults drinking wine and telling stories of far off days, and the teenagers sullenly wishing they could stay up longer than allotted. They made an odd little group, a sort of twisted extended family, and for a while, everyone seemed to have forgotten the real sordid reasons they were all living there together. For a while, they were just enjoying it.
"Oh Remus, I don't want to try this again. Remember what happened before? I'll just be stepping on your feet the whole time." Tonks was looking miserable as Remus was putting a record on the phonograph.
Remus turned around and smiled. "You weren't that bad. And besides, you need all the practice you can get for next year," he said, teasing her.
The front room was now deserted except for the two of them, and Remus had suggested they try dancing again, since, you know, they were wearing their nice clothes. "It would be a pity to waste them," he had said, trying to persuade her.
Tonks shook her head stubbornly and was determined to stay rooted to her seat. Remus walked over to her and stood looking down at her, an amused smile playing across his face.
"All right, fine Miss Pouty Pants. How does this sound? Each time you step on my feet means one less kiss you get tonight. And each time you don't step on my feet, you get another."
Tonks moaned. "That's just mean, Remus Lupin."
"Come on, I have faith in your sex drive." She shot him a dirty look as he swept her up onto her feet.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" she asked, narrowing her eyes at him as he led her to the middle of the room.
"Well, if you really want to kiss me, you won't step on my toes, now will you?" he said mischievously, raising an eyebrow.
Tonks gave in. They danced. She didn't step on his toes once.
Their shoes lay abandoned next to the couch, and Remus' collar was partly unbuttoned as they sat down on the couch.
"That wasn't so bad, now was it?" Remus asked, pulling her close to him so that she leant against his chest. He kissed her cheek. "And I believe I owe you a few of these."
A/N: Well, that's it. Cheers for everyone who read it and reviewed it and such. I'm glad you liked it. I hope Tonks wasn't too whiny in this chapter, she may have come across that way, I don't know. I also hope the ending wasn't too silly, I mean, it was meant to be cute and all, but yeesh, it ended up being a bit fluffy didn't it? Ah well, I had fun writing this for sure. And again, Cheers for reading my little story!