-Note- This takes place after OotP. And yes, I'm a fan of Lupin/Tonks, though you can hardly tell by reading this. At this point, I'm not sure if I will continue this.

-Disclaimer- All characters and settings belong to Ms. Rowling, Scholastic, and Bloomsbury.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick… she sighs and looks away from the clock on purpose because she knows only a few minutes have passed since she last looked, at 3: 32. She can't sleep like this, not when they're out. She hasn't even changed into her nightclothes yet- just in case. And just in case, her wand is still in her pocket.

The children are, mercifully, asleep; she wonders how Molly (who is also in bed) has survived with so many children when she herself can hardly handle four. Ginny, Harry, Ron, Hermione…all upstairs. Not only would one of Moody's little trinkets throw a fit if one of them rose, the floor at Grimmauld Place creaks something awful.

She's alone in the kitchen, except for-

"Tonks, go to sleep. They won't be home yet," says Lupin.

She snorts, eyebrows raised. "Only if you will, too." She knows that won't happen anytime soon, so she leans back in the wooden chair and folds her arms across her chest like the only child she is. She'll stay up as long as they're still gone…it's the worst job, but it's her turn to do the waiting. In the past, when she sat in this chair all night, her cousin would help her knock back a few glasses of firewhiskey. Once, she drank tea with Molly, twice, it was with Kingsley or Professor McGonagall, and other times it had been Charlie Weasley and (horror of horrors!) Professor Snape. Now it's Remus, but only because the full moon was last night and he's still quite peaky.

Tock, tick, tock, tick…

She sighs. "Have a go at chess?"

"No," says Remus. "Not in the mood to lose again."

"Oh, it's not that bad…I've only creamed you seven out of the last nine."

"Mmm-hmm."

"Right. Be a spoil-sport." She makes an effort to be cheery, but it seems a little sacrilegious in the tense, early hours of the morning. She puts her head in her hands and closes her eyes.

(flashback)

"No, no, Dora- you mustn't let it sit in the milk too long. It will fall apart!"

"But Dad, I like them soggy!"

"That's why you've got to get it just right, dear. Practice makes perfect."

Dora sighs and leans farther over the table, reaching for a new cookie after the latest attempt ends in a mush at the bottom of her cup. The chair she is on pushes away from the table and she shrieks, but Ted Tonks hushes her and pushes it back.

"Quiet!" says Andromeda from her chair by the front window. Dad puts a finger to his lips and sits still. He is smiling, but his eyes are concerned.

The door opens and cousin Sirius' voice , along with Mummy's, fills the parlor. In the kitchen, Dora squirms and wants to see him. She hears "Regulus" and "deserted" and "dead", but doesn't quite understand. Mummy asks, "are we safe?", but Dora doesn't know what her mother is talking about. Bored, she pops a soggy cookie into her mouth, wipes her sticky fingers on her father's pants, and climbs into his lap. She closes her eyes.

(end flashback)

Tock, tick, tock…

She jerks awake to see Remus grinning at her from across the table. A quick glance at the clock tells her it's 4: 02.

"Alright," she says, her throat dry. "Your turn for a nap."

"What, and leave you all alone?"

She sighs with mostly-feigned exasperation. "Have it your way, then. Die of exhaustion or something." She's not half wrong, either; he looks even more terrible than she does.

"I don't think your fifteen minutes of sleep put you anywhere ahead of me, Tonks."

She nods, giving in. "Well, it should bloody well put me somewhere. It's not as if this is an environment condusive to taking a happy little kip, anyway. I hate it."

She stretches her arms across the table, cracking her knuckles one by one. He takes one hand lightly.

"Me too."

The kitchen is quiet for a moment, except for the clock (which Tonks is seriously considering dismantling).

"Hey…" says Tonks, remembering something suddenly. "How about some cookies and milk?"

"Do we have any?"

She conjures two cups of milk and a heap of cookies. She hands a glass to him, but as he reaches to take it the door bursts open.

"Bloody hell, Shacklebolt, I-" Moody curses in the parlor, "Tonks!"

With a gasp, she lets the glass topple to the table and milk fly everywhere. She doesn't bother to clean up and bolts into the parlor with an armful of towels and a first-aid kit. Mrs. Black has already begun to shriek and Moody's baubles are whirring and buzzing as the children upstairs get out of their beds.

"Some other time," she calls over her shoulder. Remus nods and cleans up the mess with a flick of his wand before following her out. He looks quickly at the clock: it's only 4: 09. Outside, he knows, dawn is coming even if he can't see it yet.

-f-

Thanks for reading!