Title: Patience and Scotch
Author: Emmy Award
Rating: PG-13 (for swearing)
Word Count: 1,420
Disclaimer: None of the characters, places or wine bottles herein belong to me, but rather J.K. Rowling. Yah. My grandmother owns the cards.
Summary: Tonks plays Patience in the evening. Set during OotP.
Author's Note: Written for thert challenge on LiveJournal, with the prompt for this particular ficlet being "cards".
The cards were old, the gilt borders faded to green, with the edges worn and soft. Pictured on the back of them was a girl dressed in pink - some Victorian portrait, Tonks thought (these were Muggle cards) - and they were spotted with age. They felt smooth in her hands; she loved them.
It had been a lively evening. There had been an Order meeting, with which came the usual wine bottles and battle plans, and Sirius, Bill, Fleur, Kingsley and Emmeline were even now still debating reconnaissance in the kitchen. Or at least they had been when Tonks had left them a half hour or so previously - she thought they had probably reverted to wittily abusing the Ministry or recounting old war stories, as they invariably did. Tonks had felt tired, and not like drinking, so she left them to it, but she hadn't wanted to go home either.
She dealt the pack deftly; it was her second game. The first had been won easily.
King of spades, three of spades, nine of spades, two of diamonds, four of spades, ten of diamonds, two of hearts. She frowned. There was not much she could do except move a two to a three ... well, that would do.
To break the silence, she said to Remus: 'How's the book?'
Remus was sitting in an armchair, just by the fire. He had left the meeting before she had, professing to be tired. Every one of them knew he meant to retire to the drawing room; it was his habit. Tonks wondered if she had been thinking of this when she had chosen the drawing room for her card games. It was a slightly uneasy thought, yet not an entirely unpleasant one.
'The book?' Remus said, resting the book on his lap. He turned to look at her. 'Oh, it's quite enjoyable. An old favourite, actually.' He smiled.
No, Tonks thought, it wasn't an unpleasant thought at all.
She put down her three cards. The queen of diamonds would go on the king of spades.
They sat in silence for some time after that. Tonks had always imagined such silences to be awkward. She liked talk, music, any sort of noise. She avoided awkwardness; she was awkward enough, she thought. Silence with Remus was somewhat different. It was calm, comfortable, even relaxing. She like Remus enormously, she had realised in the few months she had known him. He was that sort of person, she decided as she watched him turn a page. One of those likeable people who get on with anyone. He seemed to be entirely unaware of her gaze, which only encouraged her to sneak even more glances at him, sideways, sneaking glances that were so quick a person hardly knew she'd sent them.
The game of Patience, meanwhile, was suffering, despite her loved cards.
'Fuck,' she said.
Remus turned to her again. She noticed his eyes in the firelight.
'Bad hand?' he said.
There was a thumping on the stairs and the sound of footsteps in the hallway.
'Absolute rubbish,' she agreed. She would deal again.
The door creaked, and Sirius ambled through the doorway. 'Rubbish, you say? No such thing. Where's the scotch?'
Sirius moved unsteadily. Likely he was half-pissed already. It had become an increasingly common occurrence with him. Tonks hardly blamed him. She'd even been drinking more often since July.
'Hello Sirius,' she said, dealing her seven piles again. 'Everyone gone home?'
He was fumbling with the key for the liquor cabinet. 'Bill and Fleur are cleaning the kitchen ... well, I say cleaning, snogging, more like. Everyone else is gone,' he said thickly, pulling the door open. Then he paused, and seemed to register her presence properly. He turned and frowned at her. 'Except you, cuz, for some reason. What are you still doing here, for Christ's sake? I thought you went home ages ago. You've got one after all.'
'The flat's a mess, it's driving me mental,' she said smoothly. 'I'd rather stay here.'
What she really meant was that her flat was empty, and Grimmauld Place wasn't; she had not conveyed that, however, and was not surprised when Sirius gave her a look of frustrated exasperation, and continued rummaging through the liquor cabinet.
'Moony,' he said presently, 'we appear to have run out of scotch.'
They had been glancing at each other behind Sirius's back. He's at it again, Remus's glance seemed to say. I know, said hers, but what can we do? Thoughts of Sirius fled her mind as she examined thoughts of Remus. Their glances recognised each other, she realised. Surely that meant something?
The start of her next round of Patience included three queens. Tonks couldn't have cared less.
'I wonder what happened?' Remus said mildly. 'There was some left yesterday.'
'Oh never mind,' said Sirius. 'I've found some Firewhisky. I'm off to bed.' He shut the glass door, rather more roughly than necessary, and weaved his way precariously through the furniture. Tonks, deck of cards in hand, wished she could do something for him. It was not the first time she had wished it - nor was it the last - but there was nothing, nothing at all to be done.
'Goodnight Sirius,' Remus said.
'Do try not to chuck on the duvet,' Tonks added cheerfully. (It was a joke, of course. Remus had told her of their first time drinking at school, and she had found no end of fun in the fact that Sirius had ended it by vomiting all over his bed. His tolerance had improved since then.)
Sirius grinned. 'Cheers,' he said, and shut the door behind him.
Tonks looked at the door for a few moments after he left. 'He's not doing too well, is he? Mentally, I mean.'
Remus laid his book down and gazed into the fire. He looked tired, which she supposed he was, and worn, which was how she was beginning to feel. Her hand was useless; she had gone through the whole deck and hadn't used a single card. 'No, he's not,' Remus replied. He rubbed his temple.
It was a simple gesture. Tonks, distracted from her cards, wanted to smooth out the lines of his forehead carefully with her thumbs. 'We should play cards,' she said impulsively, suddenly feeling that everything in the world depended on them playing cards at that moment.
'I was going to suggest a scotch,' Remus replied. 'Come over by the fire and we'll do both.'
He had a mischievous glint in his eyes.
'You arse, Remus,' she laughed. 'Hiding the scotch from Sirius.' She gathered her cards, feeling their soft edges under her fingertips.
'I do like a good glass,' was Remus's excuse.
There was a small table between Remus's armchair and the lounge, and it was there she laid down the cards.
'There's glasses in the cabinet,' he said. He had turned to the mantlepiece, where he had not very stealthily concealed the scotch.
Having fetched a glass from the cabinet, she paused in front of it. 'You're really not very good at hiding things, are you, Remus?' she said.
'Oh, I can hide things,' he assured her. 'Sirius just isn't very good at finding them.' He grinned as he retrieved the bottle.
It was then, looking at him in the firelight with the scotch, that she realised she loved him. She thought she had gone insane. The room seemed to grow very still.
'No, I suppose he's not,' she said, faintly, but she really wasn't sure of what she was saying at all. Then, to shake herself out of her momentary stupor, she walked purposefully to the fireplace. She stood in front of him.
'I'll deal,' she said, gesturing to the cards with her right hand. Her left hand she held out to Remus, the glass glinting in the firelight.
Remus, whom the stillness of the room had not escaped, ignored the glass. He did not even see it. Their eyes met for the split second these things require, and all Tonks could think of was, I love you, I love you! She felt, for that second, that she would die if he did not kiss her. She was thoroughly ashamed of thinking it later, melodrama being the realm of teenage girls and occasionally her mother, but as it was, it didn't matter what she thought, because he kissed her anyway.
Her left hand dropped to her side, the glass help limply in her fingertips. The cards lay forgotten on the table.