Title: Mischief Managed (Romanced) (1/3)
Pairing/Featured Characters: Remus Lupin/Nymphadora Tonks; Sirius Black, Molly Weasley
Summary: How far will a prank war go?
Author's Note: Originally written for the June/July RT Ficathon at LiveJournal, this story is set during the summer of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the night the Advance Guard rescued Harry from the Dursleys'. Dedicated to Lady Bracknell, whose Marauder Remus has been a source of entertainment and inspiration.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Part One: Calling His Bluff (Buff)
"…so I asked Mad-Eye who he knows that's lost a buttock."
Sides aching from her laughter over the anecdote from today's mission, Tonks flopped onto the musty settee in the parlour across from the two wing-backed chairs in which her cousin and his mate sat.
"Merlin, if this job ever makes me that paranoid, please—"
Her mirth died as she realised Remus and Sirius weren't laughing as enthusiastically as they ought to have been. In fact, Sirius was only chuckling politely, and an uncomfortable glance passed between him and Remus, whose lips curved in a slight, tight smile.
"What?" Tonks sat upright. "Did I say something wrong?"
Remus' gaze dropped to his hands folded in his lap, and Sirius continued watching him with something that might have been sympathy. She swallowed that too-familiar lump of embarrassment that always rose from her stomach and lodged bitterly, painfully in her throat whenever she misspoke.
"D'you…" Tonks croaked. She cleared her throat, then continued, "Was Mad-Eye serious?"
"Yes, Nymphadora," said Remus. His voice held no accusation or resentfulness, but Tonks didn't think her mortification could be deeper if it had. "I am afraid this example of Alastor's paranoia has a solid base."
"Or rather," said Sirius, stretching his long legs out on an ottoman, "a lack of a solid base."
Remus gave another tight smile.
Tonks' hands shot up to cover her burning face. "Merlin! Was Mad-Eye talking about himself?"
She should have realised his gruffness – not that he wasn't always gruff – was a cover for embarrassment… She was such an insensitive prat!
"As far as I know," said Remus, "and I haven't any proof, mind you, both Alastor's buttocks are intact."
As Tonks' hands slid from her face and she relaxed, the hot, prickly sensation dissipated from her face.
Only for an instant.
It returned in full force – along with a hint of queasiness – at the realisation that they were discussing buttocks.
Mad-Eye Moody's buttocks.
Well, apparently not Mad-Eye's. But someone else's, which was almost as bad.
"The one-cheeked wizard," said Sirius, rather incongruously cheerful in comparison to Remus, "is in the Order.
Against Tonks' wishes, her mind flashed with images of all the male Order members' backsides. Not that she'd paid a great deal of attention – at least, her gaze had lingered on no one's bum but Remus' …and Kingsley's was good, too…But mostly Remus'.
She'd never noticed anyone being…lopsided…
"The first Order," said Sirius, "had a little saying about this fellow."
"Please don't, Padfoot." Remus screwed his eyes shut as his head lolled against the back of his chair.
Tonks sat up a little straighter. Who'd been in the old Order and was close enough to Remus that he'd be embarrassed for his sake by one of Sirius' jokes?
"Never full moon for Moony."
"Thanks," said Remus quietly. His head bent, and though it could have been the flicker of the firelight behind him, Tonks could have sworn his ears were red.
It was at that moment it really sunk in.
Remus had lost a buttock in a wand accident?
"It…it can't be you." An involuntary, shaky laugh heaved itself from Tonks' lungs. "When Mad-Eye…You didn't react."
"Remus is a fantastic actor," said Sirius. "And he's had over fifteen years to get used to it."
"Alas," Remus said, looking up with remarkable composure, though his blue eyes didn't quite meet Tonks' gaze. "Sirius speaks truly." He added, pointedly, "If rather crassly and insensitively."
"Will it prove my sensitivity if I get you a shot of Firewhiskey?" Sirius swung his legs down from the ottoman and stood. His barking laugh rang out as he glanced at Tonks. "You look like you've seen my mum's arse! What's got into you?"
Tonks closed her mouth, which she hadn't realised till then hung agape. "It's just that Remus' bum…"
Sirius arched his dark eyebrows, and Remus tilted his head in an expression of utmost curiosity.
Bloody hell. She'd almost said his bum was too cute to only have one-buttock.
"It's not like you," she recovered tremulously, "to do something careless with your wand."
"That's not what I meant!" Tonks cried.
God, why couldn't this settee be hexed to eat half-bred blood traitors who were humiliating themselves in front of their colleagues?
"Let her alone, Sirius," said Remus kindly.
He stood and turned to face the fire, giving Tonks quite a good view of his apparently one-buttocked bum.
He'd such a lovely bum. This couldn't be true.
Clasping his hands behind his back, Remus said in wistful tones, "We are all a bit careless in our youths. And I am afraid I had to learn the hard way not to keep my wand in my back trouser pocket."
"But he really didn't mind being reckless and keeping it other places," said Sirius.
"You're pulling my leg," Tonks said.
"No, Remus found plenty of—"
"I mean about this lost buttock bollocks!" Tonks leapt up from the settee and scrutinised Remus' posterior.
"I take it by your gawking, Cos," said Sirius, sauntering up behind her, "that you're just as impressed by his trouser charm as all the other witches who ogle his arse. He's quite brilliant at making up spells."
"It was a tricky bit of spellwork," Remus said without his usual modesty, "getting them to hang right and stay that way after I've sat."
The hint of amusement in his voice did it. Tonks was convinced.
This was just one big Marauder prank.
And they were so taken with their cleverness that they weren't even trying very hard to hide it.
Did the gits really think she was that green, that gullible? She was an Auror, damn it!
Tonks whipped out her wand. "You gents want to see a really impressive bit of spellwork?"
Remus bristled. One hand moved to grip the mantel, as though he were bracing himself. As well he should. Sirius made a sound of starting to speak, but the word died with a strangled sound.
Tonks waved her wand.
There he stood, in all his pale, two-buttocked glory.
And glory was the word for it.
But Tonks' brain ordered her hormones not to be affected.
Her hormones rather willingly obeyed. Ogle-able as Remus' bum was, she was not at all keen on the idea of familiarising herself with it in front of anyone else.
Especially not Sirius, who was howling. "She called your bluff, Moony!"
"No," said Tonks, pocketing her wand, then crossing her arms, "I called his buff."
For an instant she was delighted to see Remus' neck and ears had gone as red as she'd felt earlier, and his shoulders were shaking.
Then she realised he was laughing.
"Well, Nymphadora," he said, "now you know it's a myth that werewolves have copious amounts of body hair when not transformed."
No. They didn't.
At least, this one didn't.
Tonks' face flushed so hot that she was sure she would burst into flame.
"May I please have my trousers back?"
She reddened with an entirely different emotion. The prat! He'd made her think she'd offended Mad-Eye…then himself…and didn't even have the decency to be embarrassed that he was suddenly half-naked in front of a woman he barely knew!
Without obliging, Tonks turned swiftly on her heel – wobbling a bit – and strode toward the door. "You're an arse, Remus Lupin. A bald, gigantic arse."
Grudgingly, she muttered, "Even if you have got a great one."
A/N: Thanks to all who reviewed my last piece. Commenting on this one is the charm for a private baring of Remus' bum.