Saturday morning found Grimmauld Place in a state of stagnation. Tonks was reading the Daily Prophet, leaning back with her chair on two legs and one foot propped upon the kitchen table, when Snape made his obnoxious presence known, slinking through the doorway and addressing her in his usual arrogant tone. She slumped the chair forward onto all four legs immediately, but he managed a sneer at her posture anyway. "I see why you're Black's favourite cousin," he smirked. "You both have the same haphazard charm."
Collecting herself, Tonks tossed the paper aside. "And you're one to be talking about charm," she muttered. "Please try not to take off too many points for my carelessness."
He made a face. "Your old house doesn't need your help to lose them." He extended one hand and shoved an envelope into her face. "From Dumbledore. You'll be needing to wake Lupin."
Tonks blinked at the envelope for a moment, registering the name and seal. Then Snape's comment clicked in. "Wait. Wake Remus? Why?"
"Because those were my orders!" Snape replied angrily. "And the orders don't come from me, so wipe that look off your face."
"But it was the full moon last night!" Tonks practically shouted back. "Isn't he normally allowed at least a day?"
"I told you it wasn't my decision!" He was definitely snapping now, but there was a certain satisfied gleam in his eye. "I know full well he should be... recuperating... right now. He'll manage, I'm sure." Another sneer. "He's as much a part of the Order as you are. He knows his duties." That said, he spun on one heel and made his exit, black robes flapping behind him as they always did.
Tonks snorted, glaring at the envelope as if it should take all the blame for her current position.
Remus and Sirius were both currently sleeping upstairs. Sirius had passed out sometime late the night before in Buckbeak's room, and probably wouldn't be getting up any time before noon. Remus was in his own borrowed bedroom, and should have been allowed to sleep most of the day. She hated having to ruin that for him. The fact that none of this had been her idea didn't make things any better.
The door was unlocked, and she nudged it open gently, hoping not to find him in any sort of embarrassing position. That would only make her job more difficult. Luckily for her, he was simply lying on his back, one arm flopped over his midsection. It was far too sweet a picture that she had to destroy.
Bending over him, she laid a hand on his arm and gave him a slight shake while calling his name, knowing that her voice alone wouldn't do the trick. He started, inhaling sharply, as his eyes blinked open to focus dully on her. Then they narrowed, confused.
"Nymphadora...?" he croaked out. "What is it?"
"Tonks," she corrected him, cursing herself afterwards for being so tactless. "I was told to wake you. Dumbledore needs us." She held up the envelope and watched as he squinted his eyes in an effort to read the name on it. "I'm really very sorry for this."
Remus glanced at the clock on the nightstand beside his bed and failed to hold in a groan. Sitting up proved a difficult task, and he still had his head propped up in one hand after he managed it. "Did he say what for?"
Tonks glanced at the envelope again, then ripped it open. "You know, I hadn't checked," she said apologetically. A single slip of paper fell onto the bed sheet, and her eyes narrowed as she read it. It gave merely the time and place of the meeting, with no reason whatsoever. "It doesn't say," she muttered, handing it to him. "But we have an hour. Will that be enough for you?"
"Yes, of course..." He sounded distracted, however, and she wagered a guess that most of what reserves he had were being used to keep him from nodding off again. "A little breakfast and I'll be fine." She gave him what she hoped was an encouraging smile, and backed away a bit to give him room to move. Though as she stood there, she realised that he wasn't going to wait until she left to stand up from the bed.
She also realised that he was quite naked, though it seemed to have momentarily slipped his mind.
"So!" she exclaimed loud enough that he winced. "Do you normally sleep in the buff?"
"What?" He was half out of bed, and he stared at her a moment, eyes wide and confused, before his cheeks went bright red and he slumped back down into the covers, drawing the sheet up to his chest. "Beg pardon..." he muttered sheepishly.
Tonks laughed. "I'll go grab that breakfast for you, then. Feel free to get up while I'm gone." She gave him a wink and he nodded, face still flushed with embarrassment, as she left.
Returning not five minutes later, she found him in the same position.
"Aren't you going to get up?" she asked, mildly worried. He nodded at her again, and it made her feel terrible to see how weary he looked.
"Just give me a few moments more, if you would." His voice was too scratchy. She should have brought him some tea and honey instead of just the glass of milk she'd managed. He still had the blanket held up to his chest, and she would have found this more humourous was she not feeling so badly about the whole ordeal. "Would you... turn on that lamp?" he added, motioning to an old oil lamp on his nightstand. She obliged, lighting it with a simple flick of her wand.
The light from the lamp made terribly apparent something that the darkness had kept all but hidden, and she tried not to stare at the scars criss-crossing most of Remus's skin. Of course, she told herself, she should have expected this, what with him being a werewolf and all. It didn't make the sight any easier to bear, and the misplaced guilt she felt for waking him nearly doubled.
She'd brought him porridge; the food selection in the house was particularly meager at the moment. He didn't make any comment on this as she approached. "Sorry it's not anything better. Not many fresh eggs to be found at Grimmauld."
A weary smile lit his face up momentarily. "It's fine." He reached out an arm to take it from her, but she paused on her way to handing it over. His arm was shaking far too much for her own comfort. Instead of giving it to him, she sat down beside him on the bed.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm going to feed you," she said simply, dipping the spoon into the porridge.
Remus looked slightly insulted by this. "I don't need to be fed. I'm perfectly capable of feeding myself, Nymphadora."
"I'm going to feed you," she repeated, ignoring his use of her first name again. "And you're going to sit there and be fed. I won't have you spilling your breakfast all over the sheets."
He frowned at this, looking down at his hand as if it had betrayed him, and sighed. Without another word, he eased forward so that she could spoon the porridge into his mouth. It startled her how easily he agreed, but she continued with her task, trying to appear unfazed.
He hadn't quite finished the bowl when he declared himself done; dismissing her from the room as he finally went about dragging himself from the bed. It was a good twenty minutes before he emerged, looking more than a little rumpled. His hair was askew, and his face still unshaven. He stood, one hand on the wall next to him for support, as she fussed over him. The improvement to his appearance was slight, but both of them agreed that it would do for the time being.
The meeting place was an old abandoned church on the very outskirts of the London suburbs. Snape was already there, looking incredibly smug as Tonks helped Remus into an empty chair, much to Remus's chagrin. Dumbledore was there also, and he gave the both of them a sympathetic glance before the meeting began. Tonks couldn't help but feel a bit angry with him, even though Remus didn't seem all that bothered.
Three times during the meeting she found herself distracted as the man nodded off against her shoulder. She'd give him a shake and wake him again, but after a while she was tempted to simply let him be. He had a comforting smell, like that of dust and warm cider. She wouldn't have moved him the last time, if Snape hadn't kept glaring at the two of them with evident disgust.
Afterwards, Remus apologised, but Tonks would have none of it. She returned him to Grimmauld before leaving for her own flat, her emotions buzzing confusedly for the rest of the evening.
A few months later, she finally found the tables turned.
Hexed and bruised, Nymphadora Tonks lay in a hospital bed at St. Mungo's. She stared up at the ceiling, willing the aches to go away so that she could stand again and leave her room at last. She hated hospitals. She'd seen enough of them as a child growing up with metamorphic capabilities to justify this hatred.
With a sigh, she rolled over onto her side. The door opened, however, causing her to face back around. She winced with the sudden movement.
"Easy," said a familiar voice as Remus Lupin entered, setting a tray down on her nightstand. "It's only me."
"With lunch?" she asked skeptically, eyeing the bowl of soup with some suspicion. So far the meals at St. Mungo's hadn't been all that appetising. Her disgust must have shown on her face, because he began chuckling.
"Don't worry. It's from Molly."
Tonks was sitting up in an instant, though this caused her to groan and clutch at her side. "Why didn't you say so in the first place you great tease?" she whined, causing him to laugh again. As she made to reach for the bowl, though, he held it back and instead sat beside her on the bed with a knowing smile. Realising what he was about to do, she slapped a hand to her forehead. "Remus... I'm perfectly-"
"Capable of feeding yourself?" he finished for her, still smiling. "No, no, Nymphadora. I'm going to feed you, and you're going to sit there and be fed."
Rolling her eyes towards the ceiling, Tonks gave in to him.