Without plans and feeling the holiday blues, Remus accepts a dinner invitation. Overhearing another couple, the woman's personality is so vivid; he covets more than her steak. Set CoS and written to show some things are simply meant to be.
Moonlight Becomes Her
Everything about the place reeked of exclusivity. Waiting to be shown to his table, Remus Lupin listened to his date gush about the 'classic French cuisine crafted of the finest, freshest ingredients' and inwardly wondered what he was doing there.
You were flattered an attractive, successful woman invited you to dinner.
It was the simple truth. After several casual conversations in the rare bookshop they both frequented, Tiffany, a barrister, asked him to share the 'dinner a deux' her firm had included with a Christmas bonus. Without plans, and feeling the holiday blues, he'd agreed with pleasure. Earlier, viewing the brunette's long black dress and delighted smile over the small bouquet he'd presented, the wizard had felt a cautious optimism rise.
Perhaps this would be the woman he could trust with his secret. Maybe someone so self-assured would have the internal fortitude required to be a werewolf's partner.
"Look at her. This is an exclusive restaurant with a strict dress code. I don't know how she gets away with that!"
Remus turned his head, curious to see the garment that engendered such a heated response from his date. He hadn't noticed the young woman and her blond escort come in, but the view from the back made him wish he had.
Long black hair hid most of a slender, bare back. In contrast to the black dress robes and formalwear preferred by other diners, the woman wore a short red dress in a fabric that clung to fit curves. Matching high heels accentuated legs that in less elite surroundings would elicit wolf-whistles.
"…don't you agree?" Tiffany was smiling in expectation. Knowing better than to ask 'to what', he simply nodded. Looking smug, she placed her hand on his arm. "I think our table is ready."
They were seated in the main dining room, on one side of an ornately carved partition. Remus' acute hearing enabled him to hear when the couple on the other side was asked, "Quelque chose à boire?"
"Something to drink?" repeated a woman's voice that seemed on the verge of laughter. "Yes, thanks, I'll have a bière."
"A beer?" The server forgot his French accent in astonishment.
"La carte des vins," a man intervened, his cool, aristocratic tone calming the server, who regained his fake accent and rattled off the requested wine list. After choosing the wine, the man waited until the server withdrew to query, "First the daring red dress, now this. Are you trying to tell me something?"
"I've got Christmas spirit and like beer?" Remus would've known the mystery woman was young and vibrant, even if he hadn't watched her swan into the restaurant. She had the most expressive voice. It made him smile.
Across the table, Tiffany beamed at him. "I'm so glad you're not one of those men who won't let a woman order the wine."
Her approval was discomfiting. He wasn't a chauvinist, but he'd made no comment when his companion ordered for them because he'd been too busy eavesdropping. Remus determined to do better, and listened attentively while she spoke of her great-uncle who was on the Wizengamot. Hearing a peal of infectious laughter caused his lips to tilt upwards in reaction.
Tiffany frowned at the partition. "Really! Is it too much to expect a little decorum?" She huffed in irritation and then continued her recital of important cases. Remus tried to pay attention, but new voices greeting the unseen couple proved too distracting. The icy tone of one of the women would've clued the listener to her identity, even before she said,
"Hello son. I told Priscilla only your fiancée would be so uninhibited in public."
"Blimey, you make it sound like I was dancing on the table," said the young woman Remus now thought of as 'the lady in red'.
"I'm sure it's not the first time," another young woman stated, in a tone that rang with spite and envy.
"Does a bar count as a table?"
"No, but my billiards table might, if mother insists on being technical."
Remus disliked the wizard's arrogant drawl. He sounded so condescendingly amused and superior to the rest of the world. While the other couple's visitors retreated, he agreed with Tiffany that creamy artichoke and smoked duck soup would be an excellent starter. Enjoying the delicate, buttery flavour once served, Remus coughed to hide a chuckle when he heard, "No, thanks, I like my brioche and fig chutney Foi Gras free."
"Try it…the Foi Gras is exquisite," coaxed the man.
"Sorry, I'd feel too guilty, knowing a poor duck was force-fed so I could eat his liver."
Feeling rather guilty himself, for permitting his attention to wander yet again, Remus asked his date if she had gone antiquing last weekend as planned. Pleased that he'd remembered a previous conversation, she began to tell him about her friend's quest for a certain item. Each and every shop was described in detail. He kept his eyes on hers, nodding when appropriate, but when a server carried mouth-watering steaks to the table on the other side of the partition, he unconsciously leaned sideways.
"You said you were in the mood for steak," murmured the jammy git.
"The highest quality, pure-bred Charolais beef, à point," assured the server.
"Ah pwa… That means medium, right?"
"Oui, saignant for monsieur, not mademoiselle. Enjoy."
The literal translation of 'saignant' was bloody, and Remus' mouth watered as he imagined taking a bite of rare, succulent, steak. He couldn't remember if he'd been such a carnivore prior to being bitten, but as long as he'd been a werewolf, he'd craved meat. Not that his hunger was often satisfied, he thought ironically, when the main course his date had chosen was delivered to their table.
"Pea stuffed ravioli with new season vegetables and herb broth…a heavenly combination of flavours, don't you agree?" asked Tiffany, taking a bite without waiting for an answer.
Resolving to enjoy the rare companionship and ignore the tantalising smell drifting from the next table, he enquired, "Are you a vegetarian?"
"No, I just like to save my calories for dessert," said Tiffany with a coy smile.
"I'm sure you have no real need to watch calories," he replied, taking a resigned bite of meatless ravioli and listening to her depiction of a never-ending battle to remain thin.
The woman eating the steak he coveted wasn't making it easy to concentrate on tales of portion control. "Mmmm…this is so good…I wish I could have it every night," she said in a husky voice that made Remus think of other things. He wasn't the only one.
"Like something else?"
The lady in red laughed, but Remus detected an undercurrent of hurt in her voice. "You make me sound like a nymphomaniac, wanting it all night, every night." When her insensitive fiancée gave a restrained shout of laughter, she paused and then said, "I'd just like to be with you all night, one night. Is that too much to ask?"
"Of course it isn't, my little nymph, but I want to wait until after we're married to wake up with you. It will make our honeymoon that much more special."
"I suppose you're right."
She sounded uncertain and vulnerable. Her pig fiancée was smugly confident.
"I always am."
"And what does Monsieur wish for dessert?"
With a start, Remus became aware that he'd been tuned into the drama on the other side of the panel and tuning out his date. He smiled warmly at Tiffany to make up for his rudeness. "What did you choose?"
"Poached peaches in goats cheese ice cream."
"That sounds delicious."
"Lovely." Turning to the server, she smiled. "We'll share."
Remus clung to his smile, although he was put off by the woman's managing ways. She seemed to think because he was a gentleman; he was also gormless, and content to have her make all decisions. Thinking back over their encounters, he realised that she acted a lot like the wizard he'd been listening to- snobbish and self-centred. Would she even fancy him if he didn't allow her to monopolise the conversation? Probably not. As Tiffany devoured the ice cream while he took a bite of peach, Remus listened to the other couple without a twinge of guilt.
"You never order anything except mousse au chocolat," said the man, with patronising affection.
"That's because chocolate mousse is divine and a good substitute for something else…" was the pert reply.
"I thought you said you didn't want it all night every night."
That sounded defensive. Remus cocked his head and listened with interest as the lady in red teased, "The emphasis was on all, but since I can't have every night, I'll make do with fabulous chocolate."
"I have to put business first for now. I thought you understood."
In response to her fiancée's stiff tone, the young woman said, "Evan, I do understand. I'm a lowly second year trainee, remember? I only wish you'd understand I don't care about dressing up and going out for lavish dinners on the couple of nights a week we do get to spend together. I just want your time…and your love."
Looking across at Tiffany, Remus decided this would be the first and last date they would ever have. He was gazing at her face, and yet somehow knew he'd recall the mysterious lady in red long after this woman had faded to a pale memory. All of a sudden, he coveted more than steak. He wanted a partner with a personality so vivid; her voice alone could arouse a gamut of emotion. He didn't want to make do with superficial relationships anymore. He desired what another man took for granted.
Hearing the wizard on the other side of the partition request l'addition, the bill, impelled Remus to lean forward. "Is there anything to settle with the server?"
"A gratuity, but…"
The other couple was leaving. He stood and placed every galleon in his pocket on the pristine cloth. "I need to visit the lavatory. I'll wait for you in the entry."
Remus didn't look back. He headed for the exit. The lady in red had retrieved her cloak and pulled up her hood as her fiancée held the door. Impulsively, he went to the window and stared out. A glimpse of her profile left him with the impression of a pretty girl with a beautiful smile. After the couple had passed from view, he looked up at the night sky.
Turning away from the waxing moon, Remus smiled as he sat down to wait, thinking wistfully,
"Moonlight becomes her."
A/N: I can only write angst if it's lightened with humour and romance, and even then, only because I know they've got a happy ending in my other stories. If anyone wondered, the title came from a Mary Higgins Clark mystery and for 'The Princess Bride' fans; I did indeed have Remus go Westley by using 'pig fiancée', lol. Also, if reading this made Chris De Burgh's song Lady in Red start playing in someone's mind- at least I'm not alone anymore, heh. Those who have read Once in a Blue Moon and the sequel A Wolf in the Moonlight, I hope you've enjoyed this pre-Remus/Tonks story written to show they were always meant to be. If someone reads this but hasn't read anything else I've written…I hope you'll want to now!