Title: Borrowed Time

Author: Girl Who Writes

Word Count: 531

Rating: PG

Prompt: #10

Summary: The early morning sunlight bleeds into the sky and she stabs her cigarette out on the ground and walks into the old house.

Author's Note: The drabble took on a life of it's own. Written for the February RT Ficathon


She sits in The Hogs Head with a cigarette and a beat up book of her mother's, tapping her fingers against the bar. Her nail polish chips, little flaking pieces of lime green enamel on the greasy, worn bar of The Hogs Head.

She reads page seven a dozen times over, but doesn't remember a thing. She snatches glances at the grimy clock on the wall and goes back to reading page seven.

Aberforth waves his wand and the bar stools are stacked on the rickety tables. A filthy cloth wipes at the bar itself. And as she takes a drag of the cigarette, Aberforth puts a bottle of Firewhiskey, wrapped in brown paper, on the counter.

"Horrible habit, that is, for a pretty girl like you, Tonksie," Aberforth motions to the cigarette. "Kill you long before your time, ya know."

"I'm an Auror. I'm living on borrowed time." The book is stuffed in her satchel and she puffs on her cigarette a bit longer.

"Your Remus doesn't mind it stinking up the place, does he?" Aberforth picks up glasses to wipe by hand, with the rag that was cleaning the bar.

Tonks gives him a look. "This place smells plenty bad without my smoking, you know."

"I'm not talkin' about here, am I?"

"I only smoke when I come in here," Tonks picks up the wrapped bottle and pulls out her money bag. "How much to I owe you?"

"11 galleons, 7 sickles and 27 knuts," Aberforth charms the rag to continue cleaning the filmy glasses.

The walk back to the Shrieking Shack isn't a long one, but the wind bites into her face and she wraps her robes tighter around her, lighting another cigarette with her wand as she walks. Her hair curls around her face, the same orange-red as the end of the smouldering cigarette.

Remus thinks she goes home to her London flat on nights of the full moon, apparatus back when the sun comes up. She spends those nights at the Hog's Head, waiting. She sits outside the house, huddled in her coat and blows smoke rings into the air. He's too exposed, transforming alone, in such a well known location.

The early morning sunlight bleeds into the sky and she stabs her cigarette out on the ground and walks into the old house, as she chews on peppermints from the same shop she buys the cigarettes from. Stepping over the holes in the floorboards, she finds him at the top of the stairs.

He's sore and exhausted but manages a weak smile as she kneels beside him. There's a long gash down his torso, and blood near his eye. The whiskey is usually used for the serious injuries, because her healing spells are passable for smaller injuries but she's known to do more damage that good on serious wounds.

His head is in her lap as she points her wand at the cut near his eye, stroking his hair.

"You smell like old smoke," he murmurs, making a face.

The excuse is old hat. "Took the Underground; I should smell worse," she jokes, and smoothes his hair back.

Her life, his life, their safety, their health, their happiness – they're living on borrowed time.