Disclaimer: I own nothing.
I Don't Care
I'm currently sitting in - of all places - the Knight Bus. Alone. With her. And she's glaring at me. And I'm staring at the floor. Overall there is a fair amount of glaring that is probably killing the surrounding molecules with her look of death.
When I get out of here - that's if I don't starve and abandon my last resorts of eating the candles or wooden-panelled walls - I will give Harry a good talking to. He is so much like James that it's terrifying.
I had been enjoying my Christmas dinner at The Burrow in the company of The Weasleys, including Bill and his wife Fleur, Mad-Eye Moody, Harry and the present glowering Tonks.
I was feeling sluggish, as you do when Molly cooks too much than an average witch or wizard can consume, resulting in force-feeding where she discreetly fills your plate with more food when you turn to talk to someone. I was half way through lifting a slice of turkey into my mouth when all of a sudden Harry pulled me to my feet, talking quickly about 'going for a walk' which I found suspicious considering it was almost pitch black outside. I spotted the youngest Weasley, Ginny, also tugging Tonks to her feet and dragging her to the same front door that I was being pushed through.
"What's going on?" I asked as Harry pulled me by the elbow. Elbow pulling, in my opinion, is completely out of line, but he didn't seem to care.
Finally I focused on the purple Knight Bus that was parked squarely on the Weasley's front garden; I could only imagine the infuriated look on Molly's face once she found out…
"Ginny, why is the Knight Bus here?" Tonks asked straight to the point, the question I wanted answered rapidly before I started wondering if there was some sort of conspiracy going on - which there most certainly was.
"We're doing you a favour," Ginny smiled; an evil teenage smile. God, how I hate teenage smiles.
"Hey, it's empty," said Tonks, peeking through a window of the luminous vehicle. I took a gander inside and found the bus deserted, missing a driver and passengers.
Then – and you will not believe this – they pushed us! I am a respected adult for Merlin's sake, and I was pushed, rather enthusiastically by Harry who must have been lifting weights recently judging by the amount of explosive strength he used that seemed to come out of nowhere. I fell through the open door of the Knight Bus, Tonks falling ineptly on top of me.
"Ginny!" Tonks squealed, looking at the girl who she had acquired a close relationship with, but was probably wondering whether if it had disappeared before, during, or after this act of insanity.
As I lay tremendously uncomfortable underneath Tonks draped over me like a travelling cloak, I looked up to see Harry and Ginny with generous smirks on their faces.
"What exactly is happening?" I asked in bewilderment.
"I'm just sorting out one of your 'furry little problems'," smiled Harry. Not only was this puzzling, but yet again I was scared by Harry saying those exact words that James said relentlessly when I was younger.
"You're going to sort out my problem of being a werewolf?"
"Minus the word 'furry' then," Harry corrected himself. "Just one of your problems."
Just as I was about to question what sort of dilemma I was unaware of being in, Harry and Ginny had slammed the doors of the Knight Bus closed. It took me a couple of minutes for my mind to register what exactly happened.
"They didn't just do what I think they did, did they?" said Tonks uncertainly.
I couldn't answer as she was still laid on top of me, her limbs in places where they shouldn't be. My face was blushing like a school boy's and that shouldn't have been happening because I'm too old to be flushing like that.
"Oh, sorry Remus," Tonks apologized, finally realising why I was colouring. It was a shame that it had taken her an ordinate amount of time for her to understand as my beginning shade of pink had turned a Father Christmas suit red by the point she figured out, the colour matching perfectly with the holiday.
Once I got to my feet – no trace off Tonks on me except a sweet smell that had stuck to my skin - I pushed the Knight Bus' doors open.
Except they didn't move.
"You're kidding me," whispered Tonks, watching as I pushed the door that had somehow locked on its own accord.
"Don't worry, I'll just-"
I paused as I searched for my wand in my robe pocket and discovered it was gone.
"Harry stole my wand!" I shrieked. Tonks only laughed at me. Such a sweet, compassionate girl.
"Well, I'll just—" Tonks stopped in mid sentence. I watched as her face dropped in indignation as she explored her own robe pockets. As she looked at her empty hands, I could only guess that Ginny had pulled a vanishing act on Tonk's wand too.
"I think they're going through the rebellious phase," I remarked, rubbing my forehead.
"Ah, well, this must be a joke, eh?" Tonks eyed me nervously. "A Christmas joke! I bet they'll let us out after five minutes."
She smiled and took a seat on one of the bus chairs, stretching out her legs and making herself comfortable. "Just you wait, Remus," she told me confidently.
And we did wait. We waited for five minutes. Another five minutes. And another five minutes after that, until I lost track of time and felt like we'd been in the bus for days. It was downright ridiculous! How on Earth did those sneaky teenagers convince the obviously moronic driver to lend them the Knight Bus so they could lock up a couple of adults for a laugh? What about all those witches and wizards sticking out their wand hands, waiting for the purple bus that were never going to turn up? Did they have multiple Knight Buses, come to think of it? This would certainly cause a public wizarding outrage!
"This is not funny," Tonks told the window solemnly she was leaning her head against. To disguise my spying on her, I looked at her reflection instead. "Really. Not. Funny."
It certainly wasn't. And as the minutes passed, I knew a certain conversation would creep up. I knew Harry and Ginny's plan to keep us locked in here was to sort a particular subject out. Tonks didn't look like she was going to bring it up…
Until she did.
"Remus, you know I-"
"You deserve someone better," I cut her off, knowing what sentence was going to come out of her mouth.
And there it was... The glaring.
I cannot let my guard down that comes with being a werewolf, after all. But I just can't let my guard down... ever. Because when I do, I know I'll give in to her. I know when she whispers those three words in my ear, (and no they aren't "I love you" before you disgorge your last meal everywhere), that I will whisper them back.
"I don't care."
Yes, how harmless could those words be, you ask? They aren't the three words "I love you" that change a harmless 'fling' to a serious relationship. They aren't the words "I am gay" that make a hysteric housewife fling her best dinner plates at the sudden homosexual husband of twenty years. No, they are three harmless words that are used in conversation everyday, and three words I've heard many times in my life.
I remember years ago, my fifth year at Hogwarts, when I heard the brittle words of 'I don't care' by one of my closest friends.
"James," I remember Sirius whispering, glancing down the table in the Great Hall at breakfast. "Lily's talking with Diggory."
I looked up from my marmalade and toast, spotting James' future wife, which of course I didn't know at the time as it seemed as if Lily wanted to push James off a cliff at every opportune moment. She was sitting next to Amos, clutching his arm as she laughed at something that was apparently so funny she couldn't stable herself.
"I don't care," James gritted through his teeth, trying to conceal his furious eyes behind the reflection of his glasses when, of course, he wanted to grab a fork and impale it in Diggory's neck.
This was a perfect example of the basic dishonest 'I don't care'. There are many others, such as the foolish and juvenile adaptation. In the winter of my sixth year of Hogwarts, Sirius had decided to cast a warming spell in school, which nobody complained about until the temperature got so high that it was over boiling point and everyone got sunburnt within a five mile radius.
"That's two months detention, Black! What do you have to say for yourself?" Minerva asked furiously, our well known Head of Gryffindor resembling a piece of frizzled bacon.
Sirius kept his cool, and with an unreadable face replied with a smooth "I don't care."
He got an extra month detention because of that backchat.
But the "I don't care" I am referring to... I just can't place. And it's all because it's from her lips, Nymphadora Tonks, the woman that confuses me so much that it gives me a headache sometimes comprehending how she feels. She's the one thing I can't find an explanation to in endless researching of books, and that bloody annoys me.
"I've told you a million times, Remus," I hear Tonks murmur. "You know how much I care about you."
Now she's being totally unreasonable. She's making me feel guilty and she's making me look at her with that power of her sweet voice and she's making me wish I never accepted Molly's Christmas dinner.
"Tonks," I start, looking at the floor. "You know I care about you. It's just… You deserve better than me."
She scoffs and stands up, arms crossed as she walks back and forth the aisle of bus. My eyes watch her and it makes me feel slightly nauseous.
All of a sudden she turns to me with her bright red Christmas hair and yells, "You are the most stubborn and diffident person I have ever met!"
I don't argue.
"Why do you always put yourself down, Remus? Name one good thing about your self/"
I feel as if I'm in some sort of lack-of-self-esteem anonymous meeting. What do you answer to that? I can think of typical answers by other people. Beauty. Money. Status.
"I read books fast," I mumble.
For a second, I think she's going to shout at me some more. But she laughs, a slightly sad laugh, but a laugh nonetheless.
"You're unbelievable," she smiles, touching my arm. I thought I would flinch, but I don't. Instead, tingling happens. I'm too old for tingling. Then, she lets go of my sleeve and sits back down where she was moments before the interrogation.
"Thanks," I reply, slightly confused. I'm not sure what to respond to being told that I'm implausible. I'm also unsure whether that is considered a compliment or an insult.
Just as I'm about to question her on my thoughts, I steal a look at Tonks but she's fallen asleep. Her head rests against the bus window a second time.
I'm watching her sleeping, it's not right and I know I shouldn't be doing it. Normal people don't watch other people sleep, not unless you count those newlywed couples who lie awake listening to the sound of their partner's breathing.
But Tonks and I aren't married, and I'm still watching her sleeping, and it's not normal. It's unhinged of me.
Her breathing clouds up one of the bus windows, a perfect circle shaped steam cloud. I know when she wakes up she'll discover that steamed up window and draw a smiley face with the tip of her finger. It just seems like such a Tonks Thing she would do.
I don't know how long it is until she wakes, or how many times my eyes droop, threatening to drift off. I just can't sleep. I can't let my guard down.
"Wotcher, Remus," Tonks calls me. I turn from looking at The Burrow to look at her.
I discover the badly drawn smiley face on the window.
It's mocking me.
I know Tonks more than I know myself.
"Want to play I-Spy?" she asks.
That's what I love about her: she's bright, spontaneous, down right unpredictable. She'll forget all the tension, why we should be tense, and try to brighten the situation up.
I smile at her - a game of I-Spy sounded great. That's another good thing about her; she makes me laugh. She makes me feel young—oh god, what am I saying? She makes me feel young? She is young. I'm too old for her.
"Er, no thanks," I refuse quickly.
She looks disappointed, not masking the hurt across her face. I can't help but feel she's showing more hurt than necessary for a rejection of a child's pass-time game. Or maybe my rejection is deeper, more than a game of I-Spy.
"Well, one thing Ginny didn't steal was this." I watch her as she searches in her robe pocket until she takes a slightly worn cigarette and a lighter to complete my utter shock.
"Since when did you smoke?" I ask, trying to disguise the tone of concern in my voice - thus, my voice sounding like a Chipmunk.
She brings the cigarette to her rosy lips and blows out a perfect trail of smoke. It mingles in the air like gloomy, foreboding fog of danger. I've heard, most probably from Sirius, that women who smoke are perceived as sexy. Her smoking is... disturbing. Maybe it's because she's so young... Maybe because I want her smooth, perfect skin to stay, well, perfect, and I know smoking won't let that happen.
"Did you start... ever since Siri—"
"No," she interrupts me sternly. I wish I never brought Sirius up considering it's a touchy subject. "I started smoking a long time before that."
I know she hasn't said it, but she hints it in her eyes. She hints it in her voice. Even the lit cigarette placed delicately in her fingers knows she started smoking because of me.
I suddenly spring to my feet, and as I do, the bus seat makes an indescribable squeaky lurch which slightly ruins the gracious effect. I march over to where she is - twirling the cigarette in between her fingers - and snatch it away from her. For a second, our fingers graze, but there's no point dwelling on it. I drop the cigarette to the floor and look at her fixedly.
"They'll disintegrate your lungs. You should know smoking removes fifteen years off your expected life span. It's also associated with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx..." I'm aware that I'm rambling and quoting a lot of facts that can complicate the mind in the span of five seconds, but my mouth doesn't listen to the screaming in my head to stop, so I continue listing like an aggravated parent. "Oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, urethra and bladder. And there are more than four thousand chemicals in cigarette smoke, including forty-three known cancer-causing compounds and four hundred other toxins..."
She nods, trying to take in all the figures and numbers whilst she hides the amused snicker behind her hand. Yes, I am aware that I'm making a fool of myself, but so be it.
"No need to start a fire," Tonks says.
I'm not sure if she's commenting on how I suddenly burst into hysterics at how she's putting herself into an early grave, or the fact that my trouser leg has caught fire...
Wait. My trouser leg is on fire? That's definitely not normal. That's simply unorthodox.
"Shit!" I scream, shaking my leg wildly as if a dog has come along and urinated on it.
Tonks was a little distraught herself. I figured she didn't want a man with a melted leg. I didn't want to be the man with a melted leg. Being a werewolf is bad enough.
I also figured that she didn't want a man with a fake wooden leg, looking oddly like a pirate, because the previous fleshed leg had melted due to a lit cigarette lying helplessly on the floor, something I unfortunately forgot to stomp on with my foot, so classically like the handsome actors in Hollywood films. Nothing like me obviously, who is old, poor and dangerous.
After much leg flapping, the fire finally dies out, and I'm left with a singed trouser leg. Trying to get my heart beat back to its normal rate, four owl-like eyes peeking from one of the bus windows make me jump at least six foot out of my skin and headbutt the bus ceiling above me.
"What in Merlin's name...?" Tonks mutters, gazing at the eyes.
I finally recognise the floating orbs to belong to actual people, Harry and Ginny, who seemed to be having fun spying on us with not very much discreetness. They look pleased, and more than surprised by my outburst.
"No, I did not swear!" I deny, pointing at the hormone-filled teenagers. "And if either of you are caught doing it, you did not get it from me!"
The couple sniggered before disappearing in a sprint towards The Burrow.
I stare at Tonks. She stares back at me.
"You handled that very gracefully."
"Yes," I managed to respond, at a loss for words. Harry will never let me live that down.
Strangely, from then on there is silence. I go back to my seat and she goes back to hers. Her relaxed bearing of stretched out legs whilst strewn across at least four seats, was very different to mine where I sat straight, rigid, and as if stuck between two bad odoured old pensioners - and yes, they'd probably be friendly to me because I'm close to their age, aren't I.
"Sorry 'bout your trouser leg, Remus," she apologizes.
"Don't worry, it's not like I... needed it," I mumble confusedly, aware of my words not making much sense. The sentence I'd just spoken was actually a falsification because trouser legs can be exceptionally useful, especially in winter. And, just to my lucky happenstance, it's winter and my leg is getting Goosebumps, perhaps caused by the temperature or the fact that Tonks is looking at me so intently.
"You think too much."
My head turns around wildly. Was that just one of the spiteful and mocking voices patronising me again?
"No, Remus. They aren't the voices in you head. I'm the one speaking."
I cringe at Tonks, which is embarrassing, because I'm too old to be embarrassed.
"I've wasted half of my free time just watching you think," she says in what I recognize as annoyance.
I'm not sure whether to reply with a flattered thank you.
"I mean, when we're having a conversation, I can't help but feel you hold back. Your head's too busy over-analysing and processing information."
Over-analysing? I do not over-analyse. I don't know why she's saying that. Is there a hidden meaning behind it? Is she trying to make me admit to something? She's going to bring up the conversation again. I know she is. This is a trap. Find a way out of it, Remus Lupin, find—
"Sickle for your thoughts, Remus?" Tonks interrupts the conversation in my head. She jumps from her seat and sits next to me, looking expectant.
"Er, what do you mean?" I ask uncertainly.
"Go on; just say what's on your mind."
On my mind? What am I supposed to say? Nice weather we're having? What is she expecting me to say? This is a trap, I know it is. Don't let your guard down, Remus. Don't let—
"You're thinking too much again," Tonks sighs. I smile nervously again, hoping she will just drop the subject and abandon her attempts of making me flustered, go back to sleeping, ergo I can gaze at her and wonder why I watch her sleep.
"Um," I look for any object to spring up a different topic. My eyes land on the wooden panelled walls.
"I wonder who designed the decor for in here?" I use my most fascinated voice.
"That's what you're thinking about?" She's clearly not convinced - heck, If I were her, I'd wouldn't be convinced. "You're a really bad liar, Remus."
"I know," I admit. "Sirius would always do it for me..." Once I say his name I curse myself for saying it. The atmosphere is depressing enough without bringing up diseased loved ones. But, oddly, Tonks laughs, finding the information that Sirius was great at mendacity somehow humorous.
"That doesn't surprise me," she chortles. "Do you want to know what I'm thinking?"
This question puzzles me. I'm not sure if I want to know as I know it won't be something I want to hear, or I will want to hear it but I shouldn't.
"I'm thinking... why do you keep turning me down?"
Her voice is hollow. I close my eyes so I won't have to look at her.
"I-I don't want to turn you down," I say helplessly, and it's the truth. It breaks my heart to say no to her and watch her face shatter every time.
"Then don't do it, then!" She says madly. "Do you really think I'm that selfish to care about money, age and—"
"Being a werewolf?" I interrupt her. "I think that's a pretty big thing."
She shoots me a hurt look. "I'm not saying it's not a big thing. But it's just a factor of who you are. I love you for who you are."
She's said those three words I was dreading until now. You fell in the trap, Remus Lupin. You can't dig yourself out of this one. No book can save you.
I sigh, and before I can say a word, she's assumed that whatever I say next will be the same words of rejection. She bolts to her feet, and when I think she's going to do cause some physical violence to me, she grabs the seat.
"W-what are you doing?" I ask wildly.
She moans in frustration as she grips her nails into one of the bus seats, and, from what I can comprehend, is trying to pull it off the floor. It's clear that I've made her go insane and I now wish that I had a wand to protect myself.
"I think the seats are attached to the floor," I mention,as I watch Tonks still struggling to rip the seat off.
"Who gives a toss!" She yells at me, still pulling at the seat. I would offer to help her but I ask a question instead.
"Are you… planning to throw that seat at me once you manage to unhinge it off the floor?"
She looks at me with a slightly manic smile that is somehow attractive yet horrifying. "No," she shocks me. "I was planning to throw it at the window so we could get out of here."
"Right," I nod. Although she had been plotting to hurl the bus seat at the window and not my head, I can't help but wonder if I have still made her slightly hysterical.
"You're thinking too much again," she glares at me. "It's so aggravating!"
She marches towards the closed bus doors and hurls her body against it. It's definitely clear now I've made her insane.
"Tonks, it's no use."
She ignores me and continues to push against the closed doors.
"They won't open, Tonks. I've tried."
I especially know by my furious pounding, rude gestures and violent kicking at that exact door I was mad at earlier. She continues to ignore me and pounds her fists on the glass window.
"Tonks," I call her name softly. "Tonks, please." I touch her arm and she quickly stops as if struck by lightning. "I'm sorry."
Those words were clearly not the right words to say as they somehow made her look even more menacingly angry.
"You're sorry?" She echoes, poking me in the chest. "I can't stand to be in the same room with you! You're unbelievable!" She pushes me away from her, and I watch as she abandons all hope of escaping the bus and sits back down on the seat she tried tearing off seconds ago.
I decide to keep my distance and sit at the seat opposite, and we sit in silence. I really wish she would just fall asleep already so I can watch her breathe against the bus window. I notice that the drawn smiley face is now disfigured as drips of the steam have changed the happy face to something similar to a fanged vampire.
"Want to play Scrabble?"
Okay, that was definitely the spiteful, mocking voice patronising me. Not Tonks. Because why on earth would Tonks be asking me to play Scrabble, with her, in the Knight Bus?
"Remus, are you listening to me?"
With my mouth slightly agape, I turn from studying the dripping smiley face to Tonks sitting on the floor, cross legged, holding the game of Scrabble in her hands with a look of mild interest.
"But… Is that, I mean... Why-?"
"Is a game of Scrabble in here?" she finished my question to stop me looking more of a stumbling idiot. "Ginny," she says in a menacing tone, "said we looked bored."
I was a little puzzled – not only by Ginny's actions of giving us a game of Scrabble because we looked wearisome, probably dull for her and Harry's entertainment - but by the fact that they could have just let us out of the vehicle by now. Bloody teenagers. I was also perplexed by the fact that Tonks was talking to me, as if the conversation moments before had been completely erased from her mind.
"Remus?" Tonks shook the game of Scrabble in front of me. "Scrabble?"
"But… why do you--you want to play when--you, uh, just said a second ago... and... Aren't you really angry at me-"
Bloody hell; make a career out of it, Lupin. That was the worst incoherent sentence made by wizard,
Tonks sighs at me and forms an exasperated smile on her features. "Just sit down and play."
I have to stop myself from asking more wondering questions of why exactly she's doing what she's doing, but I find myself already answering the questions: it's just Tonks being Tonks. She won't hold a grudge; she'll always look on the bright side of things... she cares for me too much.
"Right," she rubs her hands together, "How'd you play this Scrabble game, then?"
I hadn't expected that.
"You don't know how to play?" I say with slight amusement, and then cower when she gives me a look, no doubt a mental note to curse me once she gets her wand back.
After at least twenty long minutes of explaining the rules, we start the game and fill up most of the squares of the board. It pains me to see letters of the alphabet used with such lack of regard, phrases that aren't even actual words conjured from Tonks' mind.
"You're still mad at me, aren't you?"
"No I'm not," she says shrilly, then stamps the letters 't-w-a-t' on the board, along with a fake smile. "Seven points," she says, and then writes down the score with a quill and a piece of parchment.
"Tonks," I call her name, rearranging my letters in front of me, and to my horror, getting the word 'delinquent' from them. I make a nervous smile and put them down on the board. She didn't find it a humorous coincidence that my letters had conjured up the person I was being, and slammed down her next word on the Scrabble board.
"Diffident." She smiles at me, a genuine one. "Seventeen points."
I'm starting to hate that word. It will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.
I make a fumble in the bag for a few new letters to add to my collection, moving the letters around I can only conjure up the word 'denial'. Yes, denial. There is definitely something fishy going on here. I'm starting to think Ginny charmed this particular game of Scrabble.
"You're definitely in that word," Tonks mutters, as I place the letters down on the board. I stare at her but she doesn't elaborate.
Humming as she thinks – which slightly puts me in a trance - I watch her scramble her letters until she makes a noise of delight at the word she has conjured up, putting the letters down on the board.
"Arsehole," I read, with the lips of my mouth curling. She smiles, challenging me to say something about it, but, of course, I don't. "Eleven points," I tell her instead.
I sigh at the next word that can be made from my mass of square letters, placing them down quickly on the board so we can finish this game soon. "Insecure," I tell her my word. She glances up from making the score on the parchment and tries to hide her chuckling behind her bright and noticeable hair. So instead, I watch her hair shake with snickering instead of her mouth.
Once she finally recovers herself, she starts humming again and places her next word down: 'w-a-n-k-e-r'.
Now that's a little out of line.
"Come on Tonks," I begin, looking a little insulted. "I'm not even sure if that is in the English dict-ion-ary," my last word slurs out as she glowers at me. I hate it when she glowers at me. "But we can make it in the Tonks Dictionary," I compromise.
She looks happy and writes the remaining score.
By this time, I'm getting worn-out, wound up and a little sick of this tedious game. I don't desire to play Scrabble ever again in my life. Then finally the particular letters I've been hoping for I come across in the small bag of new letters. Except I'm missing a vowel... but I'm too ridiculously full of adrenalin – which is about the size of a pea - but that's a large amount of chemicals for Remus Lupin to muster.
I position the letters on the Scrabble board, but, to my annoyance, Tonks' head is still down writing.
"Tonks," I say delicately. "Can you, er, count up the score for mine?" I tap the board.
She still doesn't look up and takes great interest in the letters she's holding in her hand, a thoughtful expression on her features. "I'm sure you're capable of counting, Remus," she replies, not taking her eyes of her own letters.
She sighs, "Alright," then turns to look at the word I've put down. Out of the blue, she drops the letters she was holding across the floor.
"You spelt it wrong," she whispers.
I didn't really comprehend that she would be arguing with my spelling errors.
"I know... I didn't have any E's," I mumble embarrassingly.
"And it's more than one word," she adds.
I didn't really comprehend this sort of reaction to my pathetic romantic gesture. For Christ's sake, I'd just planted the words 'I LOVE YOU' on a Scrabble board. In fact, I'd planted the words 'I LOV YOU', because of the lack of E's. So my romantic gesture was grammatically incorrect. Not to mention I'd just approached a romantic gesture through a game ofScrabble.
Wanting to fill up the silence, I ask quietly, "how many points?"
I'm not sure what else to say. Her mouth is still open for flies to nest in, and I speculate whether I made her go insane again.
"Did, I er, win?" I ask out of curiosity.
She counts up the scores. After much muttering of numbers, she says, "No."
I'm normally quite good at Scrabble so I'm a little disappointed. Instead of asking whether she beguiled in the game, I repeat the same question but in a different light.
"Did I win... you?"
Oddly, her head tilts down again and looks at the score parchment, as if she's counting the number of points that I'd supposedly won to get her, if any.
My face drops.
"No," she repeats again.
Right. Now I'm very confused.
"Wait, what are you saying? No, I didn't win you? Or no, I didn't not win you? Or...or," I smack my forehead in stupidity. "God, I'm sorry. I'm talking as if you're some kind of trophy. You're confusing me. I'm sorry," I apologize again.
"You're confusing me." Tonks points an accusing finger. "What is all this, Remus? I don't understand."
I'm still reddening at the fact that I'd made a romantic gesture through a game of Scrabble. I know Sirius and James are laughing at me right now.
"What happened to saying you're too old, too poor, and too dangerous?"
For a second, I think I'm going to answer with a stubborn yes to all those factors, then retreat to a corner of the bus and smack my head against a wall.
"I don't care," I blurt out.
The game of Scrabble has been knocked aside, the masses of letters skidding across the floor. My romantic gesture is destroyed by a swiping hand, but I'm not aware of this. All I'm aware is that Tonks and I are kissing and her lips tastes of gravy from the Christmas dinner. I can imagine mine taste of turkey.
She's running her hands through my hair that's flecked with grey. I tell myself I'm too old to be doing this but, heck, her lips taste of gravy and I like it.
She's holding my arm, her fingers clutching at my tattered robe. I tell myself too poor for her, but I'm still kissing her.
She runs a hand soothingly over a cut on my hand; a painful scar that I achieved from a last werewolf enduring for The Order. I tell myself I'm too dangerous for her, but she's clinging to me as if she yearns to be embraced, as if I am the safest thing in the world.
Then, the Knight Bus doors open, and I hear the sound of happy chatting and giggling.
"Get in there Lupin!"
"You're getting lucky tonight!"
"I knew you'd finally see sense, Remus!"
We finally break our kiss and turn our heads to see a crowd standing before us as if we're a couple of congressing animals at a zoo.
The Weasleys are smiling, Molly looking especially smug whilst Fred and George slide me cheeky grins and winks; Mad-Eye has an unusual grin on his face, and Harry looks as if he should deserve a better Christmas present for getting us together somehow.
"You do realise they'll never let us live this down?" I grit through my teeth to Tonks. She seems almost frozen to the spot, a hand still in my hair from when we kissed as her cheeks grow rosier by the second.
I watch her licks her lips as she smiles bashfully at me and our audience, before whispering in my ear, "I don't care..."
And ridiculously, I find myself speaking the same sentence back, but with the added word of "either".