Remus lay face down on the bed, groaning quietly to himself.
He'd made the effort and got up and dressed, but as he was making his bed he'd decided that he really didn't feel up to being upright after all, and had collapsed on top of the rumpled duvet.
And he hadn't moved since.
As he lay, his head throbbing and his stomach lurching, he was at least glad that he hadn't gotten as far as opening the curtains. He let out a low, plaintive moan, and then stopped, realising that that was doing nothing to placate the hippogriffs tap-dancing on his cranium. He lay, enjoying the quiet for a moment, and allowed his mind to form the thought that had been bubbling under the surface since his eyes had first flickered open and jolted him into, as it turned out rather ill-advised, action.
What on earth had he been doing drinking tequila with Tonks?
Part of him wanted to leap in with the answer that he had, in fact, been having the most fun he'd had in years, while the rest berated him for thinking any such thing, trying to convince that part of him that thoughts along those lines were deeply unhelpful and would lead to nothing but trouble.
And when his mind wandered to the things he'd done under the table with Tonks….
He wasn't entirely sure it had really happened.
It seemed too fantastical to be real, and he couldn't help thinking that the most likely scenario was that the whole thing was some drunken fantasy his brain had cooked up during his all too brief slumber to torment him. He couldn't imagine for a second what someone like Tonks would be doing under a table with someone like him.
He slowly tried to piece together the evidence, collect the scattered thoughts and memories he had from the night before, but his brain wasn't really up to the task – squashed, he thought, by the hippogriffs delicately balancing on his brow – and all he could really think about was her.
Remus was vaguely aware of a knock on the door, and grumbled a reply that sounded entirely non-committal into the duvet.
The door creaked as it swung open, and he heard footsteps, and then the bed moved, and someone settled next to him with a moan. He could only think of one likely candidate. "Tonks?" he said.
"Just checking," he said. "I didn't want to have to lift my head and see."
"That bad?" she said, her voice slightly muffled.
"Worse," he muttered. He felt Tonks shift a little closer, her arm nudging his as she settled. "Make yourself at home, by the way," he said, and she laughed softly.
"I came up to tell you I've got the rota for next week," she said. "But your bed looked so comfy…." She let out a loud groan, and he sniggered.
"How's your head?" he said.
"What was it you said?" she said. "Hippogriffs tap-dancing on your cranium? That about sums it up." Remus let out a soft, amused snort. "You?" she asked.
"About the same," he said. "I haven't had a hangover like this since – " He stopped himself. "In fact," he said, "I don't think I've ever had a hangover quite as painful as this before."
"I'm a bad influence, then?" she said.
"Something like that," he said. "Although I always was ridiculously easy to lead astray."
He felt Tonks shift next to him and shifted in response, turning his face a little to look at her. She was curled up next to him, her head on her forearms, peering at him over the fuzzy black sleeve of her jumper. She looked adorable as ever, he thought. Maybe that was the drunken fantasy talking. "Say it with me," he said, and she raised her eyebrows at him.
"Say what?" she said.
"The mantra of the pitifully hungover. I am never, ever – "
" – drinking again," she said, eyes lighting up as she realised what he was saying, and they both chuckled quietly, before wincing a little reluctantly at the noise their mingled voices made. For a moment they just looked at each other, exchanging sympathy and something else entirely, some tentative admission, although he wasn't completely sure what it was or if he should trust it, if he wasn't just seeing in her eyes what he wanted to.
Remus smiled at her a little. "If I summon that bottle of hangover cure from the bathroom," he said, "will you sit up and catch it?"
"Go on, then," she said.
Remus fumbled in his pocket for his wand and cast the spell over his shoulder, and as Tonks sat up a little and caught the bottle he'd summoned, he experimentally chanced turning over and resting on one elbow. He conjured a couple of glasses, filled them with water and held them out to her with only slightly shaking hands. He took a moment to marvel at his own willpower.
"How many drops?" she asked.
"Two normally does it," he said, and watched as she added them. She raised an eyebrow at him, he supposed, in question about whether two would really be enough for how bad they were feeling, and he tilted his head thinking probably not, and then nodded briefly. Tonks smirked and added another drop to each of their glasses. She re-corked the bottle and dropped it onto his bed-side table, and he handed her a glass. "Cheers."
She clinked her glass against his, and they both knocked the potion back. Tonks covered her mouth with her hand and retched, and he barely resisted doing the same as he vanished the glasses. "That stuff is vile," she said, letting her mouth hang open as she grimaced at the taste.
"Does the trick, though," he said, shaking his head a little at the bitter aftertaste. "And I think we probably deserve it." Tonks raised an eyebrow of mild disagreement, and Remus closed his eyes briefly, waiting for the nausea to pass and the room to stop swaying.
After a few minutes, everything felt more real again, leaving him with just the vaguely unsettled feeling that Tonks – and having her next to him on his bed – was causing. It wasn't dissimilar to a hangover, actually – a slight lurch in his stomach, a slight nervousness that things could go spectacularly awry at any second. He pushed the thought aside and opened his eyes, to find Tonks' sparkling ones watching him. "Better?" she said, raising her eyebrows at him.
"Yep," she said quietly. "That stuff's vile, but genius."
Remus let his eyes wander over her face, taking in all the details of her expression. She seemed a little coy, a little uncertain, which sealed in his mind the thought that he had, in fact, kissed her, confessed that he did fancy her and kind of half-asked her out, because if he hadn't, there was no need for her to be either.
Unfortunately, knowing that the whole thing hadn't been some drunken fantasy made him feel coy and uncertain too, and silence seemed to stretch between them.
He almost wished he hadn't offered her the hangover cure, because at least when they were suffering they'd had something else to talk about.
"So," she said.
"So…" he echoed.
"Not that again," she said, rolling her eyes.
Remus couldn't resist it, even though he knew it was desperately childish. "You started it," he said. Tonks eyed him as if she was seriously considering sticking her tongue out at him.
"Did not," she said, with masterful mock-petulance.
"Did," he said, battling quite hard to try and stay on top of his urge to laugh.
"Did," he said, finally giving in to a snigger.
"Conjure me something to throw at you," she said, and he laughed.
She raised an eyebrow at him, took out her wand and conjured a catapult, and then rooted in the pocket of her jeans for a missile. She found a couple of fluff-covered Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans and loaded one, aiming it squarely at him. He raised his hands in surrender, laughing, and she squinted at him in consideration, and then grinned and vanished the lot.
He smiled to himself. Two months ago, he'd have been rubbing his temple against a bean-shaped bruise about now, and the fact that he wasn't seemed significant, somehow. He knew it was progress, but that didn't mean he had any idea what to do about it, and so he lay back on the bed, staring at the ceiling for inspiration and folding his hands neatly together on his chest in the hope that it might make him feel more in control. He thought he heard Tonks take a deep breath, and then felt her lie down too.
He couldn't help feeling he'd gotten himself into a rather strange situation. "What were you going to say?" he said quietly. "I mean, earlier, after your 'so'."
He let his eyes flicker to hers, trying to read whatever it was that she was going to say before she had to say it, so he'd be prepared in case what followed her 'so' was something he didn't particularly want to hear. Her eyes were dancing with amusement, though, and he didn't think he could see any of the things he'd feared seeing in them, even though half of him still thought that was wishful thinking. "Nothing," she said, shrugging slightly. "I mean I didn't have anything planned. I was going to see what you said and take it from there."
"Oh," he said. "So it's down to me, is it?"
"Well you are the bloke," she said, her eyes making a quick pass over him. "Apparently," she added, twitching her eyebrows at him.
He couldn't resist a smile. "I suppose I am."
"Balls are in your court, then," she said, and he laughed heartily for a moment, before realising that it really was down to him, and if he wanted this, it was him who needed to make it happen.
Remus gazed up at the patch of mould on the ceiling – which he swore was eying him with contempt – and then took a deep breath. "Well," he said, meeting her eye. "I seem to have a vague memory about saying that when we were both more sober, I'd ask you out."
"Right," she said slowly. "I seem to have a vague memory about that too."
"Good," he said. "Glad I didn't imagine it." Tonks raised an eyebrow at him, her lip twitching in the effort of suppressing a smile.
"Do you do that often?" she said.
"What?" he said, turning his face to hers.
"Imagine things you might have done with me."
Her eyes were alive with inquisitiveness, and Remus pressed his lips together to keep from grinning. His immediate thought was that he should offer some kind of denial, but the truth was that he'd spent many a night lying in this exact spot imagining all kinds of things to do with her under the watchful gaze of the contemptuous mould.
At first, it had been things he wished he'd said, barbs he wished he'd sent her way, and he'd lay, silently ranting about how infuriating she was. At first. But slowly that had given way to something else entirely, something more to do with how he liked to infuriate her because she was adorable when she was infuriated, and being the person who got under her skin at least meant, for a moment, that he was the centre of her world.
"No," he said slowly, hoping the lilt in his voice would give him away. "You are always the very furthest thing from my mind."
"Good," she said, a knowing smile in her voice that he found rather pleasing, and he couldn't resist the twitch of his lips, even though he knew it gave him away more than the lilt in his voice had.
Tonks' eyes made a vague survey of his face, and her lips curled upwards in the briefest hint of a flirtatious, suggestive smile. "We both seem pretty sober now," she said, biting her lip a little.
When he didn't say anything else immediately, she raised her eyebrows at him in expectation, he fancied, rather hopefully. "So are you going to?"
He knew that what he should say was yes, that he would be delighted to ask her out, but teasing her was always so much fun that, of course, that wasn't what he said at all. "I don't know," he said, raising an eyebrow at her, lowering his voice to a rather flirtier tone.
"Well last night you said you'd probably say yes," he said. "But I was wondering. Was that just a drunken probably yes, or does it stand now the tequila's worn off?
"You want to know what my answer will be before you've even asked the question?" she said, her voice rising with amusement or irritation, he couldn't tell which.
"Emotionally-crippled wanker, remember?" he said. "You're lucky I'm not cowering under the desk and insisting on having this entire conversation by owl."
Remus watched Tonks' lips as they pressed together, desperately battling the urge to smile. "That's what you normally do, is it?"
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Oh I forgot," she said, rolling her eyes. "You hate talking about your sex life." He smiled sheepishly. "You know," she said, "you weren't nearly this shy last night when you got me drunk and snogged me senseless."
Remus looked away, trying not to grin at the words 'snogged me senseless' and the fact that someone – especially Tonks – would use them in connection with him. "I didn't get you drunk," he said, "you did that all on your own."
"So you're not disputing the other part, then?" He looked even further away, trying not to blush. "You really do hate talking about things like this, don't you?" she said.
"Yes," he said.
"But you don't mind doing them?"
He sniggered silently and the bed shook beneath them. "No," he said, chancing a glance back in her direction to find that she'd rolled onto her side to face him, and was a bit closer than she had been. "You really do enjoy watching me squirm, don't you?" he said, to take his mind off the impulse to reach up and trace the outline of her lips with his fingers, which, for some reason, had just become a desperately enticing idea.
"Hmm," she said, grinning. "So where are you going to take me?"
Remus' eyebrows leapt up, as startled as he was by her abrupt change in topic. "What?"
"If I say yes to you, where are you going to take me?"
Remus rolled onto his side to face her, propping his head up on his hand and noting, with interest, how close they were now. They weren't touching, but easily could, should the need arise. He tilted his chin down and then looked up at her, his mouth hitching into a half-smile. "Am I to take it that your answer will depend entirely on my choice of venue?" he said, and her eyes widened a little in mock-surprise that he'd say such a thing, and not a little amusement.
"I just think I should be able to make a – what was it you called it? Informed decision," she said, echoing his low, flirty tone.
"You know, that's really not very good for my ego," he said with huffiness he found it all too easy to feign.
Tonks laughed and then eyed him appraisingly. "I didn't realise you were so fragile," she said.
"Oh I am," he said, "very fragile indeed."
"Right," she said, rather disbelievingly. His eyebrows twitched entirely of their own accord, and he looked down at a crease in the duvet beneath her elbow. "How come?" she said quietly, ditching her flirtatious tone in favour of something rather more quiet and sincere.
Remus took a breath, drawing it in slowly, fully aware that he was playing for time and that she knew it. "Maybe I just can't imagine why you'd say yes," he said, and as he looked up and met her eye, his breath felt oddly heavy in his chest, "given that you think I'm boring and sensible and annoying."
"You are boring and sensible and annoying," she said.
"But," she said, quietly, biting her lip and eyeing him impishly, "you're also kind of sexy."
Remus shifted his head a little so he could hide his mouth behind his fingers. He pressed them into his lips for a moment to keep from laughing out loud. "You think I'm sexy?" he said, when he'd mostly mastered himself, a little bit surprised how pleased he sounded. Tonks rolled her eyes and then looked away.
"I said kind of sexy," she said.
He let her fester in her mild embarrassment for a moment, and then reached up and gently touched her cheek. She returned her eyes to his, peering at him with an expression that was both cheeky and shy and melted his insides. "Chinese," he said, barely able to let the word out through his grin. "I thought I'd take you out for Chinese." His fingertips lingered on her cheek for a moment, and then drifted to her jaw, easing her just a little closer.
"Perfect," she said quietly, leaning in the rest of the way.
As their lips met and a jolt of something a bit unexpected but not at all unpleasant shot through him, Remus thought it was a wonder his knees didn't give way. He was suddenly very glad he was lying down. He idly wondered if he'd ever be able to kiss her standing up, but for now, he really didn't care whether he would or not, he was just glad he was doing it now. He slid his fingers into her hair and pulled her closer, kissing her more insistently, and as he felt her respond with equal fervour he thought he might burst.
She murmured her approval against his lips and her fingers settled on his waist, giving him slightly tickly squeezes as he did something she liked. Remus tried to concentrate, to savour every second, every teasing, whispered sensation, every tingle through his body that her enticing lips produced, but she made it rather difficult to focus.
He was utterly lost. At first he thought he was just revelling in her kisses, or the way she ran her hands through his hair and down his neck, the exquisite sensation of her touch against his skin, but as the minutes past he realised that it wasn't one thing that he was revelling in – it wasn't her touch, or the way she tasted or smelled, or even her so much more than delicious kisses – it was just her.
He pulled away a little, feeling that he was probably sporting quite a dopey grin. "Is that a yes, then?" he said, but before he'd even finished uttering the words, she was pulling him back to her, pressing her lips against his.
"Uh-huh," she murmured, and returned his kiss enthusiastically. He slid his hand down her side to her hip, shifting closer, and he felt her smile against his lips as he gently pressed her back against the bed. "I knew getting you drunk would be a good idea," she said, and he moved away a little, kissing her neck slowly and drinking in the sensation of her skin beneath his lips. He was glad how intoxicating he'd found that hadn't been a figment of his drunken imagination.
"Did you?" he said, mumbling the words against her skin.
"So you had all this planned out, then?"
"Oh yes," she said, winding her fingers into his hair and pulling his face back up to hers. "I'm very sneaky."
She captured his lips again, kissing him deeply and ardently, and he couldn't honestly say that he minded that, or her sneakiness.
As their legs tangled and their bodies moved, he eased them both onto their sides, his hand finding the place under her jumper it had abandoned hastily the night before, and he felt her fumble with the buttons on his shirt. Eventually she managed to get them undone, shifting so she could kiss his skin as she revealed it, and as she returned her lips to his he was powerless to do anything but whimper into her mouth. She slid her hands up and over his chest, and his insides quaked. "Your heart's pounding," she said, breathily. He pulled away a little, just far away enough to meet her eye and managed to wrap his befuddled mind around the idea of forming a sentence.
"Any particular reason it shouldn't be?" he said.
"No – just – you're normally so unflusterable."
He smiled at the thought that formed, and she made to return her lips to his, stopping when he said: "That's not a word."
"Yes it is."
"It's not," he said, quite impressed how insistent he sounded when correct vocabulary was the very last thing he cared about, and he was only arguing because he really did love it when she got infuriated with him.
Tonks let out a sigh that turned into a chuckle, and was just about the sexiest sound he'd ever heard, and raised an eyebrow at him. "Do you want to do the kind of thing people who fancy each other normally do in bed, or argue semantics?"
She glowered at him playfully, and as he grinned, she gave him a shove back towards the bed, and leant in to kiss him, her eyes sparkling devilishly and never leaving his as she shifted on top of him. "Tough," she said, and as she fitted her lips against his, he could feel the curve of her smile. He kissed her back, and as he wrapped his arms around her, bringing her closer, he let out a groan that had absolutely nothing to do with his hangover.
Remus lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to bring his ragged breathing back under control.
At one point, he thought he had actually seen stars.
Tonks lay on her back next to him, breathing heavily too, and the duvet moved as she stretched. He felt he should say something, although he hadn't the faintest idea what.
He said the first thing that came to mind:
"Bloody hell, Nymphadora. Where on earth did you learn to do that?"
Tonks chuckled breathily, and then rolled onto her side to face him, biting her lip and fixing him with a mischievous grin. "Hogwarts," she said. Remus made to get up, even though he was almost certain his legs, which had turned to a jelly-like consistency some minutes previously, wouldn't support him. "Where are you going?" she said.
"I must write to the headmaster immediately," he said, "to compliment him on the changes he's made to the syllabus since my school days."
She laughed and pulled him back onto the bed. He couldn't help but grin at her, and she returned his grin and then shifted to kiss him. His lips met hers, savouring the moment until she pulled away and nestled in the crook of his neck. He wrapped his arm around her, casually playing with the ends of her pink hair, and ever so slightly amazed at how easy it felt to be affectionate with her. "So would you still like to go out with me?" he murmured.
"Of course," she said, and he grinned.
"Is that just because now you know how ridiculously easy it is to get me into bed?"
"Yes," she said, sniggering quietly against his chest. Her hand dropped down to his waist and she snuggled closer.
Remus waited until he saw her eyes drift closed, biting his lip against his laughter. "Will you still respect me in the morning?" he said, and as her eyes sprang open she laughed and poked him admonishingly on the shoulder.
"It is morning," she said, settling back against him.
He waited just long enough….
"In the afternoon, then?"
Between adorable giggles, she somehow managed to choke out the word 'no', and he laughed. "Fair enough," he said.
"Now be quiet and let me go to sleep," she said.
"Yes," she said. "Somebody kept me up all night drinking tequila and insisting I lick bits of his anatomy."
Remus shifted down, turning to her and taking her face in his hand. "Well he sounds like a dreadful fellow," he said, stroking her cheek gently with his thumb, and she smiled.
"Oh he is," she said, easing herself closer and leaning in for a kiss. "He's a total, total git."
"But you like him anyway?"
"Apparently," she said, and as her lips met his, Remus thought that 'apparently' was probably his new favourite word.
A/N: Well that, it appears, is that. The end.
Almost. Because, well, there's going to be a sequel. It's called Over The Moon, and if you want to know what happens next, keep an eye out or click the author alert button thingy.
Anyway, many thanks to everyone who reviewed the last chapter, and anyone who reviews this one gets a jelly-legged Remus of their very own to play with ;).