The smell of blood is the first thing he notices.
Nostrils twitching, he pauses in the act of shutting the front door and raises his head as though to test the wind.
Definitely blood, and fresh blood at that. It smells metallic; salty and rich, and there's an undertone that he can't quite place. Something which isn't being overwhelmed by the scent of blood, which is unusual in the extreme. To a werewolf, blood is all-consuming.
Cautiously, Remus Lupin follows his nose and begins to ascend the stairs to the bedrooms of Number Twelve, Grimmuald Place. Nobody should be in the headquarters of the Order, everyone should either be out working or happily residing in their own homes.
So where, exactly, was the smell of blood coming from?
It was far enough from the full moon for Remus to be quite analytical about the olfactory response he had to blood. Had it been a couple of weeks earlier, not even the wolfsbane potion would have been enough to stop him taking the stairs two at a time and burying his face in the source of the rich, tangy smell currently threatening to overwhelm his senses. As it stands now, however, he is able to calmly reason that he quite possibly wouldn't want to meet whatever is bleeding, or whatever had caused it to bleed.
Reaching the top of the stairs, he pauses again, testing the air with his mouth open slightly. Reaching the door to the first bedroom, he flings it open, wand in hand, ready to face whatever is inside.
Nymphadora Tonks. Or, to be more precise, Nymphadora Tonks lying in a huddle on the floor, robes ripped to her elbow showing a ragged wound the length of her forearm, from which the aforementioned blood is seeping sluggishly.
Hurriedly putting his wand back in his pocket, Remus crosses to her and kneels, raising her head with one hand as the other attempts to divest himself of his jacket. Finally managing that, he winds it tightly around her wound and applies as much pressure as he is able to muster. That causes her eyelids to flutter open, and he notices that her face is smeared with blood. Unable to stop himself, he touches a finger to it and sniffs; it's not her blood.
"Tonks?" he murmurs, gently smoothing tangerine-coloured hair from her forehead, "Can you hear me?"
"Wotcher, Remus," she says weakly, attempting a smile, "thought you'd be home earlier.."
"How long have you been here?"
"Since 'bout five, I think."
Remus starts in surprise; by his watch it's gone nine at night.
"What happened?" He questions gently, before shaking his head and making a noise of dissent, "Forget I asked. Can you move?"
Tonks nods, biting her lip in a futile attempt to stem the pain. Gently, Remus helps her to stand, gripping her elbow and throwing his arm around her waist when it seems that her knees are about to buckle. The wolf part of him (at least, he tells himself that it's the wolf) brings it to his attention that young Miss Tonks feels soft and fragile; and that he can feel her heartbeat fluttering close to his body.
"They hit me with the Crucio curse," Tonks mutters, breath stirring the hair close to his ear.
"And the wound?" Remus asks, doing his best to ignore the shiver that passes through his body.
"Muggle knife," Tonks replies with a catch of breath, "didn't see it coming. Old Mad-Eye'll have a fit."
Remus nods, not knowing what to say to make it better; no doubt Mad-Eye will tear strips off her for letting herself be caught in this way.
"I'm going to lie you down on the bed," he informs her, and she shoots him a remarkably impish kind of look.
"Keep your wand in your pocket, Remus," she smirks, as her hair slowly turns ash-blonde.
Inside Remus, the werewolf sits up and howls.