A/N: I'm thankful to everyone who read and reviewed Once in a Blue Moon and asked for another story about Tonks and Remus. This fic is also set during GoF (the month of December ) and features an Animagus named Sirius along with a cast of characters both canon and original, written in the hopes of entertaining readers.
Chapter 1- Moonlight and Roses
This would happen on the day Remus was meeting my parents.
Chasing after the middle-aged wizard who had grabbed his Dark object off the mantelpiece and run, I was too cheesed off to appreciate the irony. Most cases I was sent to investigate turned out to be false reports from lonely old jossers or nutters when I longed for real action. Today, since I'd arranged to leave early, it was just my luck that the accusation was substantiated.
Earlier, I'd been happy that my supervisor had assigned me to assist Arthur Weasley in Muggle Artefacts. I'd thought the witch was doing me a favour. I should've known better. Obviously, the Auror and toady the rest of us called 'Harriet the spy' had tattled that Nymphadora Tonks had dared to morph into Gulch and vamp Santa Baby down at the pub last night.
"Halt!" I yelled, inwardly cursing my superior's lack of humour while sending an impediment jinx at the fleeing wizard. He dodged it, the jammy git, bolting through the kitchen and out the back door.
"I'll go round the alley!" I heard Arthur shout, while I continued my pursuit.
The December wind felt good against my heated face. Almost tripping on an exposed tree root, I regained my balance and told the man trying to climb the back fence, "Drop to the ground and put your hands on your head!"
The dishevelled, red-faced wizard did as instructed, pleading, "You don't understand, this is merely a good luck charm, a keepsake given to me by my late wife."
I shook my head in disbelief. "Mr. Wallace, that's not just a shrivelled up monkey's paw. It's been enchanted with a Black Fate Spell. Anyone who attempts to use it to make a wish will be destroyed by it, for tempting fate. It has to be incinerated. I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry too." The man closed his eyes and clenched his fist. My stomach dropped. Before I could put a body-binding hex on the bloke, he yelped and dropped the desiccated paw onto the ground. It jumped around.
I acted without hesitation. "Incendio!" The paw made a weird, shuddering movement and then burst into flames. The wizard gasped and fell to his knees, making a desperate grab for the grisly object. I raised my wand and repelled him away from the blue flames.
Reeling back against the garden fence, Wallace's gaze travelled past my shoulder. The man's face contorted in horror and grief. "Igraine, no, not like this!"
Whirling around, I stared in revulsion at the rotting corpse shuffling our way. Her pink suit and hat were still presentable, but the decomposing flesh and brittle hair ruined the garden party image. I hollered, "Arthur!"
From the other side of the garden fence, I heard, "Are you in urgent need of assistance?"
"Erm…yeah, Mrs. Wallace has just come through the back gate, and I don't have any experience with the walking dead!"
"A monkey's paw reanimation, is it? I've always wanted to see one. Slow her down and I'll levitate right over."
"Impedimentia!" I cried, wryly wishing I hadn't viewed all those late night horror films on telly whilst staying with my Muggle Gran. The zombie paused briefly before dragging forward once more. I refused to whimper, but if she croaked 'brains', I was going to scream bloody murder. I tried again. "Incarcerous!" The ropes that bound the reanimated woman halted her approach for a minute- until she broke the bonds.
Landing beside me after the zombie had shrugged off a Petrificus Totalus, Mr. Weasley observed brightly, "How interesting! While still human, the body of the living dead appears to have strength beyond mortal limits." His pleasant, freckled face glowed in a way that reminded me of Charlie's when he used to talk about dragons. It was endearing…and irritating.
"Uh huh, interesting is one way to put it. What are you going to do?" I didn't hesitate to shift the monkey from my back to his, so to speak. Before Arthur could do more than smile at me like I was one of his kids, Mr. Wallace rushed forward.
Usually, when couples embrace, it's a touching moment. This was downright creepy. Bits of decomposing flesh dropped onto the wizard's robes when rotting arms encircled him, causing my stomach to lurch. Mr. Weasley lifted his wand. I mouthed the charm, Non Sentire, determined to never forget it. In the instant before zombie wife returned to being a corpse bride, we heard an ominous cracking sound. Mr. Wallace cried out before they fell together to the ground. I rushed over and dropped to my knees.
"Rennervate!" I tried again and again to restart the wizard's heart, but it was no use.
Arthur patted my shoulder consolingly as silent tears streaked down my face. It was bloody sad, the loss of life and love. "It was his wish, my dear, to be reunited with his wife. Mr. Wallace chose his fate." After a few minutes, I nodded and blew my nose with the handkerchief he offered and insisted I keep. Shaking his head, Arthur sighed, "I'll go into the house and inform the Ministry." Waving his wand in an intricate pattern, he handed me the thick file that materialised out of thin air. "You can start on the paperwork."
Hours later, I sent the completed forms off to Gulch's inbox, hoping the weight would topple it to the floor. Rushing down the stairs, I darted around two little old crones with canes and strode out of the Ministry. While finger combing short, spiky hair, I bit my lips to compensate for the lack of makeup. Apparating to my parents' home, I saw the wizard standing on the front step and called, "Wotcher, Remus!"
He smiled and caught me when I stumbled over my feet in eagerness and fell forward. "Hello, love."
Looking into the handsome face that the imminent full moon had drained of colour and creased with care lines, I decided not to add to his stress with complaints about work. My ex, spiteful git that he was, had started werewolf/Dark arts rumours that led to my love's current state of unemployment. Instead, I said, "I need a snog." Twining my arms around his neck and sinking my fingers into grey-streaked brown hair, I made a contented 'Mmm' when Remus brushed my lips softly with his.
Three months ago, I'd picked up the wrong wizard in a pub and fallen head-over-heels for a man who should've been all wrong for me but instead turned out to be just right. My Uncle Morty, who'd accepted a dodgy client's 'no names' stipulation for double the galleons, still acted as though I owed him one for sending me on the enquiry that literally changed my life. I did, but knew better than to admit it. I already owed an old friend a favour. I didn't trust Orion Mortimer Black not to use my gratitude to manoeuvre me into an even dicier situation.
Happily immersed in Remus' kiss, I didn't hear the front door open. "Come inside, Nymphadora, and introduce us properly." My mother's cool tone implied 'and stop giving our neighbours something to gossip about'. Glancing across the street, I saw a lace curtain fall back into place. As I had so many times over the years, I smiled apologetically. Unbending enough to curve her lips slightly, Mum led the way to the lounge.
Remus' gaze flickered between Mum and me, noting the similarities and differences. There's a definite family resemblance of heart shaped faces and porcelain skin. Andromeda's nose is a bit longer and more aristocratic and her eyes are very 'Black', pun intended. She's also ace at domestic spells, and my childhood home had a shiny, spring-clean air to it that my flat sorely lacked. The man who had passed to me his dark blue eyes and active curiosity looked up from his paper and smiled as he stood and extended his hand. "Ted Tonks. I'd begun to think you a figment of Nym's imagination, Mr. Lupin."
"Please, call me Remus, Mr. Tonks." My guy shook the proffered hand firmly.
Dad gave me an approving look before saying, "We're Ted and Andie, Remus."
Nodding with a smile, Remus sat beside me on the sofa while Mum served tea. He thanked her for the hospitality while looking appreciatively at the extensive array of food on the low table in front of us. I grinned. Mother was quietly competitive. Knowing we'd previously had tea at Gran's, she couldn't help wanting to out-do her mother-in-law. Hungrily, I piled a plate and praised, "Mum, you're the best."
She looked modestly pleased, which made Dad snicker. "I think she's been preparing for this day for weeks."
A delicate eyebrow rose. "I've looked forward to our daughter overcoming past disappointments and moving on with her life for a lot longer than that."
Okay, maybe I had taken over a year to recover from the hurt and betrayal that ended my engagement to Evan Rosier II, Slytherin alumni and secret collaborator of Death Eaters. Giving her a 'shut it' look, I said levelly, "I met Remus, and I'm happy. Can't you just be content with that, Mum?"
She handed me a cup of tea and then patted my cheek before returning to her chair. "Of course I'm happy for you dear." Looking at the wizard holding my hand, she asked, "Were you aware that before his arrest, my cousin Sirius considered this house his second home, Mr. Lupin?"
The fingers entwined with mine jerked in reaction. "Yes," he replied calmly.
She continued in a manner that was crisper than the salad on the tea sandwiches, "Before he was falsely accused, Sirius confided in me that he was uneasy with a decision he'd made." Receiving no response, Mum continued, "He said that one of his friends was suspected of being a spy for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, so he was forced to trust another with an important secret." Leaning forward, she stated levelly, "Sirius stopped mentioning his friends after seventh year, so I didn't realise at first why your name sounded so familiar." Her tone turned steely. "Were you a spy for the most evil wizard who has ever existed, Mr. Lupin?"
He didn't flinch at her use of Sirius' oft used epithet. "No," he assured with quiet dignity, "Peter Pettigrew poisoned Sirius against me, using my condition, the belief that werewolves are naturally drawn to the Dark, to persuade my friends that I was not to be trusted."
Dad rose and went to stand behind his wife, resting his hands on her shoulders. "Andie, you always believed that Sirius was innocent of Pettigrew's death."
"Peter didn't die. He killed those bystanders to frame Sirius and has been in hiding ever since."
Closing her eyes briefly upon hearing Remus' assertion, my mother said in a whisper, "You've seen Sirius, talked to him, since his escape?"
Eyes shining with tears and determination, she said, "If he ever needs help, money, anything, I want you to tell him I'll…" Glancing up, she amended, "We'll help in any way we can."
"He won't ask. It's too dangerous, but I'm sure the offer will raise his spirits."
Mum nodded, and then looked searchingly at me. Smiling faintly, she didn't ask whether I'd seen or talked with Sirius since his escape.
It felt surreal to resume our tea. Dad cleared his throat and changed the subject. "Are you ever going to return my enchanted record player, Nym?"
Lifting my head, I promised, "After I listen to the records tonight, I'll drop everything off tomorrow."
I hadn't shared with my parents that this would be the third full moon I would spend with Remus in the secret chamber behind the bedroom in his flat. Somehow, I didn't think they'd understand how unique and special it was to be with him in that way. So far, they hadn't been overprotective on the entire werewolf issue, but I didn't want to push the matter. Gazing over at the corner that had been cleared in preparation for a tree, I asked, "Are you still having the tree-trimming party Christmas Eve?"
"Yes. I hope you will join us, Remus, and meet the family." Mum gave her Mona Lisa smile. "Cousin Lora, especially, is looking forward to making your acquaintance."
I groaned. "Merlin, save me from having to look at Bridal Mags and bridesmaid dresses. Oh, the horror..."
"Don't you want to get married someday?" Remus smilingly inquired.
Unaccountably, I felt shy. "Yes, but I'd want a small ceremony, a private exchange of vows."
His eyes always looked more amber the day of the full moon. They gleamed. "I feel the same way." As if realising that he'd been smiling into my eyes for a long time in plain view of my parents, Remus said dryly, "Are you sure that you don't want to force your friends into the sort of bridesmaids' gowns your cousin favours?"
Metamorphosing my skin colour to the shade of 'about to vomit' green, I shifted back to normal when my mother chided me, and scoffed, "Frilly pink affronts to fashion?" I pretended to think about it, tapping my lips with a finger before smirking. "Depends on what presents they plan to give me."
Dad and Remus laughed while my mother pretended to disapprove, even while the corners of her mouth turned up. I looked at the mantel clock, thanked my parents for tea with hugs and kisses on the cheeks before bidding them a cheerful farewell. Remus shook hands and conveyed his gratitude with a conviction that had my folks inviting him back for dinner the following Sunday.
"Remus?" We both startled when my mother called him by first name. I almost dropped the Floo powder in my hand when she said, "Tell Sirius…if you see him…that I still wish we'd been able to convince our parents to trade children. His mother would've been much happier with Bellatrix and Narcissa, and my brother and I would've loved to claim him in return."
I dropped the Floo powder when she kissed his cheek. "Mum!"
"Give him that for me as well." Smiling wickedly at Remus' discomfort, she raised a brow at me and murmured, "Feel free to find a pretty girl to do it." Serenely, she cleared the mess off the rug with a wave of her wand while I grabbed another handful of powder and stepped into the fireplace.
Flooing first to my flat to pick up the rucksack with Dad's enchanted record player and 45's and then to Remus', we entered the room concealed by an invisibility spell before the sun set. The door had no interior handle and was charmed to remain closed from sunset to sunrise. When Remus had spent the hours alone, the room had been bare, with only the faint moonlight seeping in through the cracks in a boarded up window for illumination. I'd transfigured a futon, not being fond of sleeping on the floor. Last month, Remus had added another decoration- a single red rose. I smiled to see a new rose gracing the vase placed beside the mattress.
Entering the sound-proof chamber, I engaged an illumination orb to glow softly, to enable me to see when the light faded. I set up the record player and put on our song, Blue Moon. His eyes seemed to shine, hearing the music. As naturally as breathing, I moved into his arms. Remus' scent was warm and male and sexy. Our slow dance soon became an embrace. I loved the way his mouth tasted and his body felt against mine. Sweet moments intensified. Kisses became deeper. I could feel his heart pounding along with mine. "I love you," I whispered, after a final caress.
"I love you," he returned tenderly.
We'd agreed to not to rush intimacy, but it was still hard to leave his arms. Moving to the mattress and wrapping my arms around my knees, I watched Remus stand beneath the boarded over window, far below the small patch of moonlight. His smile became faint, and far away. Months ago, Remus had explained that ingesting Wolfsbane Potion enabled him to transform much like an Animagus would. He shifted into a wolf while retaining his human mind. I'd been entranced, watching the process that was very like my metamorphosing. It was magic, not the gruesome special effects of Muggle films. I was still captivated, watching every bit as raptly as that first time I saw him become a grey wolf.
After his customary routine of social and territorial howls, the wolf padded over to rub his cheek and muzzle against my face. I began petting his sides, on top of his head, behind his ears, and all the places that made his tail wag. Eventually rolling onto his back to allow me to slide my palms up his chest in the way I'd seen my friend Cami demonstrate on a dog named Snuffles, my Canis lupus made happy, scratchy throat noises.
Petting any animal is soothing, and petting a wolf who was really my partner was even more so. My eyes grew heavy. I yawned widely. "Time for sleep, Wolfie."
He growled half-heartedly. I giggled. "How furry you are." Dropping my voice, I answered for him, "The better to be your pillow, my dear." We lay down together on the mattress, my head resting on the soft fur of his side. Listening to his rapid, soothing heartbeat, I murmured, "Night, Remus."
The next morning, I awoke to gentle fingers stroking my hair, currently the colour of silver tinsel. Secure in the knowledge that we'd both used Morning After strength Brushing/Flossing mints last night, I kissed Remus good morning. I made sure it was a very good morning. When the door to the secret room unlocked, I took my rose with me as we left the space. Placing the vase on the table in the area that served a dual purpose as a reading/dining nook, I looked up in alarm when someone began pounding on the front door. Sirius would've let himself in. Remus picked up his wand and went to open the door.
Uncle Morty, running an agitated hand through his salt and pepper spiky hair, looked past my partner to tell me, "There's a brawny Muggle by the name of Jimmy Durbin down at the Blue Moon. Seems your Gran gave him the direction." Exhaling heavily, he finished, "He won't leave until he talks to you."
"What does he want?" Remus asked, slipping an arm around my waist.
I knew. Swallowing hard, I answered, "Rory's calling in his favour."