Part One: Suspension of Disbelief
"I dreamed he took me for a date."
Tonks' voice filters out the drawing room door, which Lupin left ajar when he interrupted the game of Exploding Snap to make tea. He hesitates outside, not knowing whether to announce his return or to allow her a few minutes' conversation with Sirius. Before he can make up his mind, he catches Sirius' reply.
"Dreaming about him now." The lilt in Sirius' voice makes Lupin imagine his mate's twinkling grey eyes and smirk. "This is getting serious."
"I fancy him a lot." Tonks admits. "Quite a lot."
Lupin's heart constricts at her tone of mingled girlish hope and wistfulness. He knows he should not eavesdrop on this intensely private revelation – which Tonks chose not to mention in front of him – but curiosity roots him to the floor. It will be torture to hear another wizard's name on her lips, but if Lupin is to wish her joy, he will only be able to do so if he has time to prepare, to resign himself.
"And how was it to go on a date with him?" Sirius asks.
"Exactly like I know it would be," says Tonks dreamily. "Delightful and fun. He was a complete gentleman, and he made me laugh."
The way she has not yet named her romantic interest drives Lupin mad; his imagination inserts himself into Tonks' dream. He would be that to Tonks – or he would try. He can be a gentleman, and he has made her laugh many times. Delightful and fun, however, are other stories…
"How can he not see how much I fancy him?" Tonks asks. "I'm hardly subtle."
Sirius chuckles. "If you really want him, you may just have to ask him for a date."
A brief pause, then Tonks asks tentatively, "Would he go for that?"
In the process of asking himself how he would respond if Nymphadora Tonks asked him for a date (as if she would do such a thing), he misses Sirius' reply. No matter; no wizard in his right mind would turn down a date with a brilliant, gorgeous Auror.
"I'm going to the loo," Tonks says, voice suddenly clearer, and…
…the drawing room door swings inward and Lupin finds himself face-to-face with her. Tonks' face goes red as Weasley hair, she mumbles "wotcher," then brushes past him.
Merlin – she knows he overheard.
And so does Sirius; it is clear from his smirk as Lupin enters the room. "Got all that, did you, Moony?"
Lupin avoids eye contact as he sets the tea tray on the coffee table. "All but the lucky bloke's name."
"It was ridiculous of me to eavesdrop." Lupin sinks onto the settee.
"You don't understand. I mean – you've really no idea who Tonks fancies?"
He can't stop himself from imagining a date with Tonks. A candlelight dinner. Her dark eyes dancing with laughter. Her arm linked with his. Her lips...
Lupin says, "I think I prefer to remain ignorant."
"Even if you're the lucky bloke?"
"She fancies you quite a lot – her exact words."
"I heard her exact words." Lupin deliberately pours a cup of tea. "They do not apply to me."
"You don't believe me," says Sirius incredulously.
"Why would I?"
Sirius jumps to his feet. "Because my little cousin could be the best thing that's ever happened to you."
She would be. "Nymphadora Tonks won't happen to me."
"She wants to."
"Please." Lupin's voice is hoarse. He sips his tea, but it doesn't help. His voice remains raspy when he says, "Don't give me false hope."
"What's false about the fact that she she's all smiles whenever you're around? She always picks you out of a crowd."
"She's a nice girl. She smiles at everyone."
Shaking his head, muttering about what a git Lupin is, Sirius stretches out on the rug, arms akimbo under his head. "What would you do if she asked you for a date? I mean, after you picked your bleeding jaw up off the floor."
Tonks returns, sparing Lupin the agony of answering. She is quiet and awkward as they resume their game – either angry at Lupin for eavesdropping, or mortified from overhearing his conversation – and she leaves before they finish.
"See?" says Lupin. "She doesn't fancy me."
Sirius scowls on his way out of the drawing room. "Why in bloody hell would she?"