A/N: This is an alternative take on the second half of Chapter 5 of Under The Table. If you haven't read that (and you want to ignore my puppy dog eyes and pleas that you do so immediately), all you need to know is that Tonks had a bit to drink last night, and Remus put her to bed.
This fic is dedicated to MrsTater for suggesting that I write it. I couldn't resist the temptation (in fact, I didn't try very hard at all…).
After six hours of tossing and turning on a bed that was presumably designed for a man roughly half his size with no feeling in his back, Remus gave up on the idea of sleep and staggered to his feet, rubbing his eyes against the daylight that was streaming through the threadbare curtains. He checked his watch, wondering what time Tonks had to be at work and, rather more warily, if she'd been sick in his bed.
It was nine o'clock. He thought that he should probably wake her up, and went downstairs and made her some strong coffee before climbing the stairs and knocking softly on the door.
No response. He knocked a little louder, and was answered with a groan. "Tonks?" he said. She groaned again.
He opened the door slowly and peered into the room. She was face down on the bed, moaning, his pillow clamped over her head. He couldn't quite think what, but something was very wrong with the picture. His eyes roamed over her naked shoulders…yes, he thought, that's it.
He took in the trail of clothes down one side of the bed, and smiled to himself.
It had been a while since he'd had women's clothes strewn about his bedroom, and he'd forgotten how much he liked it – the sight of unfamiliar garments, tossed aside haphazardly. The bright orange underwear was definitely a first, though, he thought.
"Tonks?" he said, setting the coffee down on his bed-side table. He crouched down next to the bed and touched her lightly on the shoulder, wondering how, when she couldn't even attempt stairs, she'd managed to wriggle out of all of her clothes and climb between his sheets. She moaned again, but crawled out from underneath the pillow and squinted at him anyway.
"What are you doing here?" she said. Her hair was no longer arranged in spikes, but more a kind of pink fluffy mess that he had to fight the urge to reach out and ruffle. Adorable, he thought. She had the remains of some dark make-up around her eyes, which he thought probably should have lessened the effect, but, worryingly, did not.
"You're in my room, Tonks," he said. She rubbed her eyes, making the displaced make-up even more smudged.
"Oh," she said, sitting up and gathering the sheet around her. Then her eyes widened. She peeled the sheet away a little and glanced beneath it, her eyes widening further. "I don't think I've got any clothes on."
"Apparently not," he said, casting his eyes over the trail of discarded clothes on the carpet.
"Did you take them off?" she said, her eyes narrowing in accusation.
"Don't you remember?"
She swallowed. "Not really," she said.
It was too good an opportunity to miss – an adorable young woman, naked in his bed, with no idea how she got there. His inner Marauder smiled, nay grinned, at the thought.
Remus let his face fall into a mask of dejection. He'd felt it enough times for real to pull off a passing mimic, he thought. "What?" she said, her make-up rimmed eyes searching his face. He shook his head, and gave her an obviously forced, tight-lipped smile, avoiding her eyes.
"No – just – well, I thought you might."
"Why? Did something happen?"
He looked even further away and then got to his feet, turning his back on her and staring at the window before answering. Partly he was trying to avoid her seeing the tell-tale grin that was desperately threatening to break out all over his face as she took in absolutely everything he said, but also he felt that someone in the situation he was trying to pull off making her believe he was in would probably be a bit embarrassed. He took a couple of steps towards the window, toying with the peeling paint on the frame and pretending to look between the gap in the threadbare curtains out into the overgrown garden, while he wondered which of the many ways he could take this he was going to.
He weighed them up slowly. Convincing her that she was the wildest girl he'd ever been with might be fun…. Or there was always the old 'didn't you know werewolves mate for life?' speech…. All of a sudden, though, he hit upon an altogether more enticing idea, something that was utterly perfect for her, something she would buy without question because she'd probably already made half the assumptions herself.
"I didn't throw up everywhere, did I?" she said, and he noted, a little gleefully, that the tone of her voice was rather more one of hope than expectation. "Is that why you took my clothes off?"
"No," he said. "Nothing like that."
"I didn't do anything really embarrassing, did I?" she said, cautiously. "I do tend to get a bit – you know – friendly when I've had a few."
Remus bit his lip against the snigger that desperately wanted to break free. When he was sure he could keep his voice steady, he said "Oh, well that might explain it."
"I don't blame you for not remembering," he said mournfully. "I probably wasn't – you know – very good at it."
He'd always thought that a good lie was like a trail of breadcrumbs. You needed to leave just enough for people to follow, not enough that they knew it was a trap. He was a little rusty, a little out of practice, and yet it all seemed to be coming back.
"What?" she said, her voice high with surprise. "What the hell happened?"
"We – well, we – Merlin, Tonks, this is hard. I wish you remembered."
He studied the windowsill for a moment, wondering when she'd figure out what he was getting at. He heard her shift in his bed. "Did we – " she said. "Am I in your bed because – "
"Yes," he said quickly, "but if you don't mind, I think I'd really rather not talk about it."
"Well," he said, with utterly feigned reluctance. It was exactly the thing he hoped she would ask. He swallowed again for dramatic effect. "To be honest, I'm embarrassed," he said quietly. "It's not like I've had a lot – well any – practice at this kind of thing."
There was a pause, and then Tonks gasped and muttered something that sounded not unlike the words 'Oh holy hen's teeth'. He desperately clenched his teeth together to keep from laughing.
"You mean we – " He nodded. " – and you were – " He nodded again, clenching his teeth together so viciously he was surprised they didn't give way.
Behind him, Tonks took a quick steadying breath, and he heard the soft pat of her feet landing on the floor and the rustle of her bringing the sheet with her as she came over to join him. By the time she put her hand gently on his arm, he'd mostly composed himself. "Remus?" she said.
He met her eye briefly, just long enough to know that she'd well and truly taken the bait, and all he had to do was be a bit dejected and reluctant. "It's alright," he said. "Forget it happened." He furrowed his brow. "Oh – well – I mean, you have already, so…."
He turned to leave, steadfastly refusing to meet her eye, but he'd made it barely a couple of paces towards the door when he felt her hand on his arm again, urging him to stop. He'd intended to lie and run, since he'd found that it was always best to keep these things short and sweet, to let the other person fill in the blanks on their own, since their worst fears always served to better torment them than anything he could come up with. But Tonks didn't seem to want to let him go just yet.
He looked down, studying the floorboards beneath his feet, and out of the corner of his eye he could make out her taking in the scene – the evidence – her clothes scattered all across one side of his room, the rumpled sheets she was wearing, his hangdog expression. All of a sudden he was glad that he no doubt looked like a man who'd been up all night.
He wondered if she'd notice that he was wearing yesterday's clothes, and that none of his were intermingled with hers on the floor and that that might give the game away. There was a chance, though, that she'd just assume he'd slipped out of bed early to make her coffee and pulled on whatever was closest.
"Remus?" she said. "Just so we're clear, you're telling me that not only did we – " She paused, and swallowed, he supposed, trying to find the right word or phrase. " – do the deed," she said, "I was the first girl you'd ever – " She winced. " – been with?"
Remus wondered if her delicate phrasing was for his benefit, as if she thought he might faint if she said the word 'shag'. He supposed he couldn't really blame her. He had rather given her that impression, he supposed. "I really would rather not talk about it," he said, thinking that he'd best play the cards she'd dealt him.
"Remus – "
"Look," he said, "this is pretty embarrassing for me and I know you probably want to have a good old laugh about it – "
"I'm not – "
"I really just want to forget that this happened."
"Yeah well, losing your virginity is the kind of memory you tend to get stuck with," she said, "so you'd probably better stop being such a bloody wimp about it."
He gave a sniff of laughter that he hoped she'd interpret as something else. "Sorry," he said. "Just – "
He faltered, but she didn't seem to think anything of it, and he let her lead him back over to the bed and perch him on the edge. He was surprised how nice she was being, how caring. He almost felt bad about deceiving her….
She sat down beside him, looking at him with such concern that he almost caved and told her the truth, until he remembered that the only reason she was buying this at all was that she probably did think he was some stuffed shirt thirty-something virgin. Then he felt a bit annoyed more than anything, and a little less bad about playing a trick on her. "So what happened?" she said. "I don't even remember deciding to come here, let alone anything…else."
He thought fast, knowing that he'd have to keep things pretty close to the truth. "Well – it was quite late when you got here – you'd been drinking, and I had too, earlier with Sirius," he said. He met her eye and smiled just a little. "And we talked for a while, and then you said – you said I was your homing beetle – and then you – well, you kissed me, Tonks."
"Yes," he said. "And I probably should have stopped you – "
"No, I'm sure – "
" – but I didn't want to."
Her eyes widened. "No?"
"No," he said softly. "It was nice, and after a while you asked me if I wanted to take you upstairs." He met her eye again, pressed his lips together uncertainly before continuing. "I said I did, but I didn't really know what to do, and you said that it was Ok because you'd show me. So we came up here, and, well, things happened."
He shifted a little on the bed, trying to appear nervous, hoping he wasn't overplaying it.
"Things, Remus?" she said, squinting at him a little.
"Well, everything," he said, glancing nervously at the ceiling.
"Merlin," Tonks said, letting the word out as a breath. "So what you're basically saying is that you were a bit drunk and I took advantage and seduced you?"
"No," he said. "It wasn't like – " He paused in entirely false consideration. " – well, yes, I suppose. But I mean – well, it wasn't as if I put up much of a protest."
Tonks' cheeks turned nearly as pink as her hair, and he made a mental note to try and make her blush more often, since the effect was really rather appealing. She cleared her throat, drew herself up a little, having obviously decided that since he was the pathetic one, recently robbed of his virginal state, and she was the femme fatale of the piece, she should pull herself together. "How come you hadn't done it before?" she said. Remus rolled his eyes at himself.
"I know it's pathetic – "
"It's not pathetic."
"It is," he said. "If it hadn't been you, you'd be roaring with laughter and saying that you never imagined I was quite that boring."
She smiled at him faintly. "Maybe," she said. Remus let out a soft snort of amusement that he managed to turn, somehow, into something a bit more rueful and bashful. "So how come – last night – why did you decide..?"
"You said you liked my face," he said. "People – well, girls – don't say things like that to me very often. I'm not Sirius – it's not as if girls are queuing up to throw themselves at me, even before they find out what I am, and when they do…."
"You mean when they find out you don't have a lot of experience?"
Bless her tact, he thought.
"No, I meant that I'm a werewolf," he said.
"Oh," she said, eyes wide in surprise. He realised suddenly, with a jolt, that it hadn't occurred to her for a second that that was what he meant.
Deciding that he'd done more than enough to have her racked with guilt until she remembered what really happened, he said, "I'd really appreciate it if you didn't tell anyone."
He met her eyes with a slight questioning panic in his that he hoped was convincing.
"Of course I won't," she said.
"It's just – Sirius would be unbearable if he knew, and – "
"I won't tell anyone," she said.
He gave her another tight-lipped smile and got to his feet. "You should drink your coffee before it goes cold," he said. "I'll – er – see you later, I suppose."
He left Tonks looking rather dazed and confused in his room, and bit his lip to keep from sniggering all the way down the corridor until he was out of earshot.
As he leant against the wall, shaking with silent laughter, he wondered how long he should let her stew. He came to the conclusion that if she hadn't sent him a Howler to tell him what a git he was by the time the meeting rolled around that evening, he'd tell her the truth.
A/N: So what do you reckon? How long is it going to take Tonks to figure out Remus is joking? Couple of chapters? Sounds about right to me…
Anyone who fancies leaving a review gets Marauder Remus to play with for a couple of hours.