Summary: Lupin, Tonks, Black. The Auror, Nymphadora Tonks keeps running into the DADA Professor, Remus Lupin. Literally.
Author Notes: A fresh look at Remus and Nymphadora to fit Book 6 canon. Both characters are a bit more tentative and less secure about themselves than in my previous stories, this is a completely different story. Occurs during Order of the Phoenix at the beginning of the summer when the Order is being re-established. This relies on the physical features of Lupin as presented in the PoA movie. Minor edits completed March 2007.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to JK Rowling. The story was written for the pleasure of playing with her characters.
The Randy Boar
The young woman managed to dodge the groping hands as she served her customers at the Randy Boar. The men who frequented the establishment often forgot the difference between the dancers and servers--or at least, the services the servers were willing to provide.
"There you go," she said as she managed to place the two mugs on the table with only a bit of sloshing. She failed to twist out of the way before her bum got slapped, but managed to accidentally step on the perpetrator's foot. It would cost her a tip, but it was a sacrifice she was willing to make.
The young blonde waitress with the heart-shaped face smiled at the men at this table while surreptitiously watching the red head sitting at the corner table. Emory Dimsdale was a regular and the sole reason the Auror was spending her evenings playing serving wench at a Muggle bar.
The wizard was being monitored because he was to receive a special parcel. The Aurors knew the exchange would take place at the Randy Boar, but not the day, hence, Nymphadora Tonks had taken the job.
"How about two pints over here, darlin'? My business associate just walked in the door." The rather pompous announcement came from the adjacent table.
The woman rolled her eyes before turning to acknowledge the customer. Mundungus Fletcher was pestilence embodied in human form as far as she was concerned. Tonks couldn't wait to finish her present assignment just to be able to arrest that thief. She knew he wasn't a Muggle, but a dirty dealing Wizard with a knack for passing questionable goods to unsuspecting Muggles. But in truth, it was his constant attempts to grope her that spurred her motivation to drag him in. The men who kept his company were no better.
Tonight Fletcher was being joined by a tall, shabbily dressed man, but with a neatly trimmed mustache and goatee. When she returned with the pints, Tonks noted the old scars on his face and the long, elegant hand that reached for the mug. She smiled tightly at the pair as she tilted away from Fletcher's hands and slammed down the other mug on his fingers on the table.
"Oh, how clumsy of me," she murmured charmingly before she moved away to monitor her target again.
Fletcher shook his hand at the pain. "These young girls ain't used to a grown man's ardour."
"Did you say ardour or odor?" asked Remus Lupin before taking a sip from his mug.
Fletcher sputtered into his drink and mumbled something about having had a bath just two days ago. The barmaid cast a sideward glance to indicate she'd heard Lupin before she gave her attention to her other customers.
Lupin was quite surprised to see a familiar sparkle in her eyes that for some reason evoked the phrase water nymph, but he let the thought drift as he turned to the business at hand. "I'm not here to discuss barmaids with you, Dung. I've been given the duty to persuade you..."
The men were deep in conversation when Tonks next checked them. Since Fletcher's companion wasn't the usual boisterous git who turned up, she felt safer standing next to him as she asked, "One more round?"
"Now that's a fine idea," agreed Fletcher. "But why don't you join us for a bit? Hard working girl like you needs a break."
Fletcher gave her his best smile, but all Tonks could think of was Dung. "The boss wouldn't like that, but I'll bring you another round."
"Don't bother for me, I need to be going," said the tall man as he rose. "I'll see you tomorrow, Dung."
As he stood up, Tonks turned to go to the bar when she felt a pinch on her bum as the tall man walked behind her. She froze with a gasp, then turned to confront the man, but his long stride had already taken him to the door.
A muffled guffaw shifted her attention back to Fletcher, but the man just winked at her and nodded sagely, "It's always the quiet ones, ain't it?"
The young woman tossed her head in reproof and took her time about bringing his pint. Fletcher shrugged. It had been worth it to cast the arm extension spell and get Lupin blamed for the pinch. It wasn't like the Professor and the barmaid were likely to cross paths again.
For his part, Lupin was oblivious about the events that had occurred at his departure. As he walked back to Grimmauld Place, he had a sense of success at having persuaded Fletcher to join the Order the following night.
But his thoughts wandered back to the blonde barmaid. He had been impressed by the feminine brutality wreaked on the digits of the men who were foolish enough to invade her personal space. Not a nymph at all, but a valkyrie, and he was glad not to have been on the receiving end of her wrath. Still, he had to admire her spirit.
- - - - - - - - - -
Number Twelve Grimmauld Place
Lupin was walking down the steps to the kitchen at number twelve Grimmauld Place with his nose in a book. There was a detail about the ritual used in Voldemort's return he wanted to investigate prior to the Order meeting this evening. He was thus fully absorbed in the task as he walked down the stairs when he suddenly felt the blunt force striking his mid-section.
The small book flew out of his hands as Lupin registered that he had been rammed by a very pink, fairy-floss torpedo. But before he could carry his thoughts further, he was tripped from behind by Kreacher who made his escape cackling in glee.
The only thing louder were the curses Sirius Black directed at the house elf. "...dirty little rat! Stay away from Lupin, you vermin..."
As Lupin fell backwards onto the stairs, he saw his book arching into the air. In the meantime, his body was cushioning the fall of the fairy-floss torpedo. But the perky, padded bits made Lupin realize that the projectile was actually a head attached to a very curvy, feminine body.
"Oof." Yes, it was the most intelligent thing he could say at the moment.
He supposed any gratitude for taking the brunt of the impact evaporated as soon as his book slapped the woman's posterior sharply as it fell.
"Eek!" Obviously the woman had no better control of her verbal skills than he did, but she had excellent control of her hand. She responded automatically to being spanked by the strange man.
"Keep your filthy hands off my bum!" she insisted as she loomed over him, but as their gaze met, Lupin recognized the barmaid even as she confirmed she was in the clutches of a pervert.
"You!" The word escaped them simultaneously.
At that point, Sirius, who was watching the entertaining events unfold, began laughing at the misunderstanding, but managed to say, "He didn't spank you, the book did."
The woman, who was now straddling Lupin, looked around in surprise and saw the small book lying on the stairs. She then stared at Lupin in wide-eyed chagrin while her face became as pink as her hair. Lupin brought himself up, firmly grabbed her arms above her elbows and lifted her off of him as he stood. She was dangling like a rag doll in his hands.
"Remember, constant vigilance is always required, especially when you're rushing to the loo," chastised Alastor Moody from the kitchen.
The woman craned her neck to grunt her acknowledgment at Moody while Lupin turned to place her carefully on an upper step.
"Are you all right, Miss?" asked Lupin as he absently rubbed at his left cheek. The barmaid was petite, but packed quite a wallop. Definitely a valkyrie and not a nymph. Given her presence here, she had to be a new recruit for the Order, and, given the change in appearance, he'd bet she was the metamorphmagus.
"Oh, Merlin! I'm, yeah, not fine, but you're, you're, uh--I was just, look, I'm dead clumsy but rarely lethal," said the blushing woman. Then she winced and added, "Except for the slap."
"Don't fret about it; he's had worse days," assured the dark haired man standing behind her on the stairs. She turned her head to him, so he continued with introductions. "I'm Sirius Black--
"Black? But you're, you're--"
"Your host as well as a faux fugitive. Your victim is Remus Lupin, resident werewolf, but don't let that fool you." Sirius leaned in to whisper loudly in her ear. "He's an affirmed bookworm."
The woman moved back from the notorious fugitive and kept telling herself that Sirius Black was an innocent man. As she made her exit up the stairs, she could only think to mutter, "Tonks."
"You're welcome," called Sirius as she disappeared from view.
"She meant her name is Tonks; she prefers to go by her surname,"explained Moody as he stomped toward the stairs.
"Tonks? Is she Andi's daughter? Andromeda Tonks, I mean?" asked Sirius as he glanced back up the stairway. At Moody's nod he added, "Then she's another cousin, and much preferable to Draco Malfoy. We never got a chance to meet before. Hm, I really should have read the Order registry."
"Yes, you should have," admonished Lupin. He then recited the facts he remembered from the roster as he picked up his book. "Nymphadora Tonks, daughter of Andromeda and Ted Tonks, Auror, metamorphamagus, and--"
"Defender of her derriere. She's usually not a violent lass, but she just finished an assignment playing barmaid at a Muggle bar. Caught the villains red-handed last night," added Moody as he raised his flask for a quick drink. "And now she's left a mark on you, Lupin."
"That explains it. I met Mundungus Fletcher at the Randy Boar last night," sighed Lupin. "She probably thinks I'm some old lecher."
"We Blacks are just are a bit impulsive, I'm sure she'll have you pegged as harmless in no time," defended Sirius. He then turned to Moody and asked, "I thought you weren't coming until later?"
"It was on account of the lass. I told her the true story of Sirius Black since she's an Auror. Couldn't have her arresting the person who owns Order headquarters, eh? After that, Tonks was anxious to see the rest of the registry of the Order members. She was surprised to find Mundungus Fletcher on the roster," explained Moody. "I thought she'd outgrown her clumsiness. Didn't expect to see her fall for Lupin."
"So when's the wedding, Remus?" teased Sirius as he deliberately misinterpreted Moody. "Fate seems to have thrown you together."
"It wasn't fate; it was a malevolent house elf," replied Lupin as he finally grimaced. He was now feeling the sting of the slap as well as the pain from the edge of a step that had jabbed his back. "Now if you'll excuse me, this old wolf is going back up to his room to avoid another assault from the valkyrie before dinner."
- - - - - - - -
At the moment the valkyrie was splashing water on her face and mumbling to herself. "Sirius Black is innocent, Sirius Black is innocent, Sirius Black--should have been the one I slapped! I should have arrested him for making Mum cry all those years ago."
She looked in the mirror and pointed an accusing finger at her reflection.
"But, no, here you are, a fully trained Auror, and what do you do? Attack a completely innocent--bookworm!"
Her reflection shook her head. "Lupin was at the bar with Dung! He pinched you then."
Tonks tapped her forehead against the glass of the mirror. "No, I bet Dung used magic to pinch me the other night, not Lupin. Thieves always master extension spells."
"Still, he is a werewolf," suggested her reflection.
Tonks frowned as she looked in the mirror. "So he's a predator like those vermin at the Randy Boar?"
The reflection wrinkled her nose and said, "He wasn't in a hurry to untangle himself just now."
"And then he dangles me like some little girl! Merlin! I should have extended my legs. Why wasn't I thinking!" she muttered as she looked at herself one last time.
The young Auror then raked her hands through her already spiky hair. "This is just perfect! Clumsy git meets lecherous, lanky lycanthrope. Lupin probably thinks--well, who cares what he thinks. He'll probably avoid me as if I were a Dementor."
As soon as she was on her way down the stairs from the loo on the second floor, she saw Lupin coming up the stairs. They both stopped for a moment, then cautiously moved forward. But their meeting was inevitable given the width of the stairs, so Lupin moved closer to the wall while Tonks leaned toward the railing. But when her gaze was at the level of his face, she felt the guilt flooding her.
"Er, wait," she said as she reached out a hand. She wasn't sure exactly what to call him, but she knew she should set things to right. He was innocent of having perpetrated tonight's injury to her bottom.
Lupin paused and waited patiently for her to continue. He did not like making a poor impression at a first meeting; he had enough things going against him as it was. He also had to admit his male ego was a bit dented at having a young woman think of him as a doddering, old lecher who couldn't keep his hands to himself.
To his credit, Lupin didn't flinch when Tonks slowly brought her hand up to his cheek. "I should at least get rid of that."
Her right hand covered the exact imprint her hand had left on his face. To Lupin everything then seemed to move in slow motion. He no longer felt the sting; just the warmth of her palm and the soft texture of her fingers. He could even capture the soft floral scent from her wrist.
Her attention was completely fixed on her task as she brought her wand up to tap the hand that covered his cheek, but Lupin could see that intense expression that indicated she was casting a healing spell. Her dark eyes were bright with energy, just like the intense look Sirius would get when he was focused on a goal. When she completed her task, Lupin was finally graced with her smile.
Lupin was dumbfounded by her show of compassion toward him. Between his lycanthropy and association with Mundungus Fletcher, she had every reason to avoid him. His already hoarse voice came out sounding harsh when he said, "That wasn't necessary."
The smile immediately fell from the young woman's face and she abruptly moved her hand. "You're right; you deserved the slap for last night."
Then she slid and stumbled the rest of the way down the stairs before disappearing from view.
Lupin stood there for a moment as he realized he had sounded ungrateful, but then he rubbed his forehead and wondered aloud, "What does she think I did to her last night?"
He walked to his room as he made up his mind to avoid putting Tonks in any more awkward situations with him. The imp in him was considering appropriate retaliation for the slap in the face, but Lupin dampened the marauding spirit that would lead him astray. Tonks didn't need to be hassled; she had many new people to meet tonight and a metamorphmagus could be very valuable to the Order.
"Nymphadora Tonks," he said softly as he brought his hand up to his cheek. He did not doubt that the imprint of her hand was physically gone, but it had been replaced by a very evocative memory.
- - - - - - - - - -
"I'll help, Molly. What do you need?" asked Tonks eagerly as she joined the Weasley matriarch in the kitchen at a quarter to seven o'clock. She wanted to make a good impression on the Order members, especially anyone who could cook such mouth-watering dishes.
"Just send those bowls and platters to the table for our buffet, dear," called Molly.
Tonks waved her wand, but the bowls merely sat spinning in place. She darted a quick glance to Molly and was relieved she hadn't noticed. In the meantime, Tonks completely missed the quiet entry of the man into the kitchen, once again bravely foraging for a cup of tea. She waved her wand again, but decided to put a bit more oomph into the spell.
"Oomph." The grunt was delivered by a masculine voice.
The man beneath the bowl now dripping soggy, green goo down his hair was quite familiar by now. Tonks would have recognized her victim just from his height.
"Goodness me! How did you..?" Molly let her voice fall off as she noticed Tonks turning pink from the edge of her neck to the roots of her already pink hair. Molly waved her wand efficiently to clean the mess off of Lupin. The bowl and mushy peas disappeared with a slurping sound.
"Thank you, Molly, and I must say the peas are quite delicious," offered Lupin calmly, "although I just came down for some tea."
"I'll get you a cup, Professor, uh, Remus," assured Molly as she turned around again biting back a laugh. The incident reminded her of the first time she had cooked for Arthur.
"Oh, I'm sorry, it's my fault. I'll just carry the bowls over, Molly," began Tonks.
"Let me help you," said Lupin with a note of command in his voice as he moved forward.
"No, I can--" Tonks stopped as Lupin pulled out a crisp handkerchief and wiped the very tip of her nose. He merely showed her the dot of green goo now soiling the cloth.
"Splattered a bit," said Lupin as he just flicked the edge of his finger against the cloth to make the spot disappear. "Nor does the color go well with pink."
Tonks felt like a clumsy schoolgirl again, but managed to mutter thanks as she turned to carefully carry the bowls and platters to the table.
Lupin accepted his cup of tea, but before heading back up the stairs, he glanced quickly at Tonks. She looked up at him at the same time, then had to juggle a bowl filled with baked potatoes. He left quickly as she muttered, "Ooo, hot, hot, hot..."
Although he had not cast a spell to upset the potatoes, he couldn't prevent the smirk on his lips as he considered there was some justice in the world. Then he grimaced. He hated peas with a passion!
- - - - - - - - -
The members of the Order of the Phoenix arrived to a scrumptious buffet in the kitchen as they awaited the arrival of Albus Dumbledore. Lupin accosted Mundungus Fletcher as soon as the thief arrived and asked, "Recognize anyone here?"
Fletcher looked around and said, "Well, yeah, some."
"What about the young lady over there?" asked Lupin as he jerked his head in Tonks' direction. She was currently facing Fletcher's field of view as she greeted Kingsley Shacklebolt.
"Hm, nah, can't place her," began Fletcher. Then Tonks turned around and bent over to snag a morsel off the buffet. "Er, wait, it's coming to me now."
Lupin murmured, "Think about the Randy Boar."
"That's it. She's the barmaid! But what has she done to her hair?"
"That's not important. I want to know what you did to her last night."
"Me? Why, Professor, I was a perfect gentleman, I was."
"You're lying," said Lupin simply.
"Well, I might have been practicing a spell or two," sniffed Fletcher as he saw the glimmer of a blaze in Lupin's eyes. He was reminded that the mild mannered Professor was in fact a werewolf. "You know, keeping up my skills with an arm extension. Might've tweaked the girl by accident."
"Dung, don't ever use me as a decoy again or I'll set that valkyrie on you when I'm done with you," promised Lupin.
Fletcher laughed a bit anxiously, then said, "Oh, would you look there. Daedelus Diggle!"
Lupin shook his head, but Bill Weasley had entered. The Professor made his way over to see if his advice about a cursed seal had been fruitful. At the same time, Tonks also noticed that Bill had made his appearance. She smiled and moved toward him in relief. At least there was one more person more her age in the Order.
"Wotcher, Bill," said Tonks as she reached him just a moment before Lupin also converged on him.
Bill smiled at her, but clearly failed to place her face. "Uh, hello?"
"Tonks," she reminded. One would not have thought they had spent seven years together at the same school.
"Right, I remember," said Bill with another easy smile. "You're, uh, Ninny, uh, Nindorcas--"
"Nymphadora," offered Lupin, with the proper emphasis on the second syllable.
"But I never use my first name. It was always just Tonks," asserted the young Auror with a stern look toward Lupin indicating her displeasure at having her first name spoken.
Bill nodded, a bit embarrassed that he could not remember the young woman. His interests were always drawn to the pretty, feminine girls, not the tomboys. He definitely remembered that Tonks was one of the latter. Then he snapped his fingers, "You were in Hufflepuff."
"Actually, I was Ravenclaw," said Tonks with a quick nod, but her shoulders were beginning to slump a little.
"Tonks is an Auror now," said Lupin as he watched her begin to squirm. It was clear that Bill barely recognized her and the Professor was feeling a bit of empathy as a result.
"How nice," said Bill a bit awkwardly. He cleared his throat and said, "Oh, Remus, I meant to tell you that your idea worked on that stubborn ward..."
Tonks found that it was time to drift away as the men became engaged in their conversation. She swallowed her disappointment at losing an opportunity to make a good impression on an old classmate. If only Lupin hadn't been around! But she wasn't surprised that Bill failed to remember her. They didn't run in the same crowd at all back at Hogwarts. Bill had been Gryffindor's golden boy and she had been, well, the Ravenclaw oddball.
She shrugged off the incident and put on a bright smile as she spoke to McGonagall and avoided Snape's sneer. Then she made the mistake of asking Sturgis Podmore if he'd come across any interesting specimens in his line of work lately. Tonks was trying to prevent a yawn as Podmore used his hands to describe the capillary system of some rare plant.
When Lupin noticed that Tonks was being held hostage by the herbologist, he walked behind Sirius, who was busy flirting with Emmeline Vance, and said, "Rescue Tonks from the horrors of herbology, would you?"
"Tonks, come over here," called Sirius when he turned to find his relative. His voice was boisterous as he bragged, "And here's my enchanting little cousin who has already added life to this grim, old place. Not only is she an Auror, she's a metamorphmagus. Now this is a rare gem, indeed, and a great asset to the Order."
"She's a metamorphmagus?" asked Bill as he turned to Lupin again. "I just thought she had odd tastes in hairstyles. Now, Fleur Delacour, there's a lovely girl..."
Lupin was regaled with the wonders of Fleur for the next few minutes, but kept an eye on Tonks' progress. Having Sirius as her champion was an effective way to introduce her to the Order. No one could ignore the man for good or ill.
With Sirius herding her through the old and new members of the Order, Tonks began to regain her confidence and an appreciation for the Black charm. Her clumsiness was kept to a minimum until she conveniently elbowed Mundungus Fletcher as he took a sip of butterbeer. She knew from personal experience that snorting the concoction up one's nose was a vile experience, but he deserved it for his incessant attempts to goose her.
Lupin, of course, had noticed her maneuver. She frowned when she met his gaze yet again, but managed to keep herself from sticking out her tongue at him. That would truly be childish. She made up her mind, yet again, to avoid the Professor entirely, but then Dumbledore arrived and ruined her plans.
The meeting took a serious tone as the new members were inducted. The Order discussed the general plans for collecting information on Death Eaters, recruiting people to the cause, and guarding an important relic at the Ministry of Magic. Duties were assigned and while Tonks was surprised that Lupin was put in charge of cleaning up Grimmauld Place, the enthusiastic whistling and catcalls from Sirius Black indicated the owner's pleasure. After all, Lupin was the DADA Professor.
Tonks could absorb all of these events; it was the headmaster's final statement that made her wince. Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling as he proclaimed, "And now I'll have some of our veterans pair up with our novices so they can teach the use of the Patronus to send messages. Ah, Remus, would you be so kind so instruct Nymphadora, please?"
- - - - - - - -
Lupin accepted the assignment with his usual aplomb until he stole a glance at Tonks. She had her face covered by her hands and he could see her shoulders were shaking. Dear Merlin, what had he ever done to her to cause such fear! It had to be because was a werewolf, he thought dismally. But surely she didn't think he was going to maul her at Order headquarters? Luckily the others in the group were busy with their own tasks, so he was able to quietly approach Tonks.
"Miss Tonks, if you'd rather someone else--"
Tonks looked up suddenly and he could see that she was not horrified, but hysterical. She shook her head and chuckled. "I hope your shield charms are good, Professor. I really don't want to hurt you again."
Lupin found her smile to be infectious and was caught by that glimmer of challenge in her eyes. He felt like he was dealing with James or Sirius back in his school days, so he said, "I'm a big boy, Miss Tonks."
"It's just Tonks, Professor," she reminded him as she stood up. "There's no Miss to it."
"Then please call me Remus." Lupin turned to see they had little space to work. "Let's go outside to the garden for this. It shouldn't take long for you to master the skill."
Tonks narrowed her eyes a bit suspiciously. "You want to get me outside alone?"
"I'd like to keep any further humiliation private," responded Lupin as he led the way. "Or at least out of view from Sirius."
Tonks and Lupin were soon in the garden facing each other. The Professor instructed, "First let me see your Patronus."
"I'll show you mine if you show me yours," said Tonks, then she stepped back primly and added, "Patronus, I mean."
"Ladies first," said Lupin.
Tonks nodded and brought her memory cue to mind. It was her first introduction to Muggle swings with her father pushing from behind while she sat on her mum's lap. There was something perfectly wonderful about being suspended high in the air while safe in the embrace of her mother's arms.
Lupin watched as the silvery form appeared at the end of her wand. A butterfly. How appropriate, he thought. Tonks had sufficient control of the Patronus to send it fluttering to light on the very tip of his nose. The wings fluttered one last time before the Patronus disappeared in a shimmer of silver.
"Good definition and control. The messenger spell should be easy for you to learn."
The approval of his tone was not lost on Tonks. She tried not to feel so flattered, but she knew that as a Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, Lupin was no lightweight in assessing her work. It almost made up for his questionable lechery.
"Your turn now," she said as she stood back. What Patronus would a werewolf have?
"All right, but I'll send a message with mine," said Lupin.
Rather than using his wand, he merely focused his attention on the palm of his hand. Tonks saw a silvery orb rising and cocked her head as she tried to make out the form. The light circled her head.
"That's unusual," she murmured. "Wait, I see it now; it's a firefly."
Lupin nodded in affirmation. "Most people don't recognize it. I don't often inject enough power in it to give it definition. Now, listen."
The firefly Patronus floated near her ear and she could hear the message clearly. "I didn't touch you at the Randy Boar."
The Patronus evaporated as Tonks looked up abruptly at Lupin. "It wasn't you? It was Dung, wasn't it? Why, I'm gonna--"
"Stay here and let me teach you the message charm," interrupted Lupin calmly, but Tonks ran around him in a flash. "Tonks! Wait, you can't go charging after Dung."
Lupin had grabbed her arm, but she slinked it loose, forcing him to grab her around the waist. She dug in with her trainers, so he was literally dragging her away from the door into the house.
"Come on, Remus, the old goat's been trying to grope me all week!" pleaded Tonks ineffectively. Lupin was a lot stronger than one would expect from his peaky appearance. She suddenly went limp in his arms.
"Tonks? Nymphadora, are you--"
As soon as Lupin loosened his grip on her, she ducked under his arms and tried to make another run for the door, but blast! With his long legs, he caught up with her forthwith.
"Let me go!" Tonks exclaimed as Lupin gabbed her around the waist and shoulders, pinning her arms to her body, and dangled her off the ground. Then he spun her around away from the door.
At that moment the door to the house opened and Sirius poked his head out. "Any problems out here, Moony? Oh, never mind. Carry on."
The interruption had made both Lupin and Tonks go still while she was clearly in his embrace. Only the sharp click of the door brought them back to reality. Tonks was blushing again while Lupin was wondering whether to strangle Sirius or his young cousin.
Lupin set his pupil's feet onto the ground, but quickly whipped out his wand and threatened her. "Don't you dare."
Tonks had also drawn her wand and had it pointed at him. She stood there with heaving chest, fully realizing she was acting a bit childishly. Well, a lot childishly. She tilted her chin upward, not willing to surrender, but merely offered, "I'm ready to learn the message charm for the Patronus, Professor."
"Good," said Lupin, although he eyed her cautiously. "This shouldn't take long. Now, expecto patronum calls the Patronus. You merely add an incantation of transmitto vox , but your message needs to be concise and precise. Understand?"
Tonks stiffened. "Yes, Professor, it sounds fairly elementary."
Lupin nodded for her to proceed, but remained between Tonks and the door while she refined the spell. He made her execute the spell perfectly ten times just for good measure and to give Dung a chance to make his escape. Finally, Lupin said, "I think you're certified for transmitting messages. Good work."
Tonks nodded sedately, then dashed around him to see if she could catch Fletcher. Lupin finally sighed. The woman was completely exasperating.
- - - - - - - - -
"Where are you off to in such a rush?" growled Alastor Moody as he was almost run over by Tonks once she entered Grimmauld Place. "Here, walk with me so I know you won't be running me down."
"Sorry about jostling you, Mad-eye," murmured Tonks as she craned her neck. It appeared that everyone else had departed. "I seem to be a real terror tonight."
Moody stumped along knowing Tonks would not ignore his directive as they exited the house. "What did you think of the Order?"
"It's going to take a bit to get used to thinking of Sirius Black as a long lost cousin rather than our most wanted fugitive, but he is a rather charming devil."
"You never met Black before now?"
"No, but I remember Mum being upset when he was sent to Azkaban, crying her eyes out," replied Tonks. "It was my second year at Hogwarts and I kept getting these soggy letters from her."
"What about the other members?"
"I know the folks who work for the Ministry or at Hogwarts, of course, but Sirius introduced me to the others. It's an odd lot that Dumbledore's put together to fight against You-Know-Who, but that also means we have a diversity of talents," said Tonks reasonably. "I even got the feeling that people would trust a metamorphmagus. What am I saying? If they trust Mundungus Fletcher, I'm an angel. And I suppose that's not much different than accepting a lycanthrope among the ranks. Lupin's like one of Dumbledore's lieutenants."
"You and Lupin had a less than auspicious introduction," observed Moody.
"Oh, that obnoxious creature!" said Tonks was she stomped her foot. She saw Moody's look of surprise and added, "I meant the house elf, not Lupin. But the Professor is so bloody tall! Did he have to dangle like some rag doll?"
"Actually, I'm not quite sure he knows how to pick up a woman," murmured Moody under his breath. "Well, there was no harm done."
"He made me feel a bit titchy, though, and just a bit flustered."
"Because he's a werewolf?"
"I have no problem with him being a werewolf, Mad-eye," insisted Tonks. "He's just so, I don't know, tall!"
"You were quick to assume he'd taken liberties when you slapped him," reminded Moody.
"That's because I saw him with Dung at the Randy Boar. Ugh, you can't imagine the groping hands I had to dodge on that one, " she grumbled.
But then the picture of Lupin wearing the bowl of peas flooded her mind. And her behavior during their lesson certainly wouldn't endear her to the Professor. With sincere concern she asked, "Lupin's not one to hold a grudge, is he?"
"Lupin's a very forgiving fellow, but don't underestimate his sense of mischief. He always had his own way of getting payback," cautioned Moody. "And this is where we part. Good night, Tonks."
- - - - - - - - -
Lupin stood in the warm shower letting the water do its magic and relax him. He could swear he still smelled peas most of the night, except when he was with Tonks. No, then he had only smelled--No! He wasn't going to think of the valkyrie.
It had been good to see so many old faces in the Order of the Phoenix. He smiled as he remembered how pleased Emmeline Vance had been to learn that Sirius Black was back in town. How did Padfoot do it? Gone for fourteen years, yet an old lover was still interested in him.
Lupin felt the familiar pang in his heartstrings at the thought of having a woman's interest. The empty feeling was something he had accepted long ago: Remus Lupin, confirmed bachelor.
He scrubbed his face vigorously, but halted his movements as the memory of a gentle hand on his cheek swept through him. Lupin closed his eyes. He was pathetic to latch onto such a fleeting touch, but his rich imagination would not be reined in,and the woman transformed into the nymph rather than the valkyrie. He sighed as he let nature run its course.
- - - - - - - - -
Tonks settled into her bed and closed her eyes as images of the day flittered through her mind. Then she tossed and turned a bit as she wondered whether Lupin was planning some sort of payback for that slap on the stairs or the bowl of peas on the head or the disruption of his lesson in the garden.
Tonks took her pillow and slammed it atop her face. Perfect. Lupin was one of Dumbledore's lieutenants and she had probably managed to alienate him. So what? He was a lecherous, well, no, he seemed to be innocent of trying to molest her. But he had protected that weasel, Mundungus Fletcher!
She shoved the pillow back under her head and blew at the bangs that had fallen over her forehead. She would not think about Remus Lupin, she told herself. He was too, too tall! Unless you were standing on the stairs. Now what would he have done if she had kissed his cheek instead of just healed it?
Tonks sat up abruptly. "Where the hell did that thought come from?"
"Ugh, Remus Lupin, just go away!" said Tonks stubbornly, but as she drifted to sleep, her dreams refused to obey.
Minor edits, mostly in response to Tonks meeting Sirius.
Author Notes: Yes, my beta liked my first characterization of Lupin and Tonks (they wound up in 24 stories) just fine, but I felt compelled to revisit the development of their relationship in Book 5. I'll post all of this into this one story, though the chapters might be long at times.
You won't disappoint me if this is not your cup of tea or don't leave a review. I'm enjoying playing with this and will update as I find the time. But for those of you who do take the time to read, THANKS!