Disclaimer – I don't own these lovely characters. J.K. Rowling does. Please don't sue.
A/N – This story takes place on Christmas Day during Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It is in no way associated with my story Obsession (currently in progress).
He heard her before her actually saw her face.
There was a musical laugh, followed by a loud crash and then someone muttering 'Bugger,' under their breath.
Remus Lupin turned around to see what the commotion was. A young witch, with curls of Christmas green, was kneeling over a bowl of punch that had fallen to the floor. With a practiced ease, she took out her wand and cleaned up the dark red liquid.
She must have realized that Remus was staring, because she looked right up at him and gave him a bright smile. Remus looked away, feeling his cheeks go red and focused his attention on the Christmas dinner of ham and potatoes in front of him.
It had been more than a year and a half since he had needed to use this shelter. Well, it was more like a safe house actually. A sanctuary for half breeds who were unable to fit in with regular society. There was a family of part hags sitting near him. He had also saw a half troll, another werewolf that he recognized by sight, and a young woman who looked like she might have some house-elf blood, judging from her ears.
Remus already missed the small room that he had rented from a pleasant muggle family after he left his teaching position at Hogwarts. The money he had earned from the position had been saved carefully, but still was only enough for nine months of room and board while he looked for work, never finding any. He left before they had to ask him to go, which would have embarrassed everyone involved.
His eyes lingered on the witch with the green hair. She was young, but how young he wasn't sure. A bright blue button on her robe read 'Volunteer.' He was glad. Somehow it wouldn't seem right if she had to stay here. She was wearing a long black robe over a black dress that fell just below her knees. On her feet were pink ballerina slippers.
The witch looked back in her direction and smiled again, showing off some perfect white teeth. Lovely smile, Remus caught himself thinking. Even lovelier eyes…With a start he realized that those were also Sirius' eyes. He briefly wondered if she could be a relation. A number of Blacks had those same dark grey eyes.
Funny. It still felt strange to think of Sirius as a friend again. For twelve long years, Remus had wondered where he had failed his friend only to find out that it was Peter that he actually failed. What had they done wrong? What could they have possibly done to keep Peter from joining Voldemort?
A loud gale of laughter woke Remus from his reverie. The young witch was sitting down with the family of part hags, the parents and a child. Her hair was now bright blue and almost reached the floor. Remus watched interestedly, wanting to know what kind of spell could work on her hair like that.
'What's your favorite color?' she asked the youngest child. If Remus had to guess, the girl was about four.
'Pink!' the child squealed, clapping her hands together.
'Pink, it is then,' said the witch with a giggle. Remus couldn't help but smile; her laughter was absolutely contagious. 'Do you like princesses?'
The little girl nodded enthusiastically.
'Of course you do,' smiled the witch. 'Every little girl is a fairy princess. That's what my dad always told me when I was a girl.'
She scrunched her nose and the straight blue hair shortened and changed colors until she had light pink curls cascading down her back. The little girl went and started stroking the witch's hair. Remus was pleased to see that the witch didn't move at all; she just smiled at the girl. Most wizards and witches would be repulsed at the little girl's touch.
Remus was also amazed. The woman hadn't even used a wand to change her hair. Then it hit him. She must be a metamorph. That's the only way she'd be able to change her hair like that.
An elderly witch wearing a bright red robe walked up to the young woman. 'Nymphadora, dear-'
The witch closed her eyes, put her hands over her ears and started singing, 'La la la! I can't hear you!'
'Tonks, then,' sighed the other witch. 'We need you in the back.'
'Much better,' grinned the witch called Tonks. Remus wondered why she preferred Tonks. From afar, Nymphadora seemed to suit her perfectly. He decided to keep calling her Nymphadora in his mind.
The two witches went into the back, leaving Remus to get lost in his thoughts again. Remus had abandoned the idea of being with a woman, really being with a woman, body and soul, long ago. There had been the occasional dalliance when he was young, but it had been years since he had shared anything more than a handshake with a woman.
So instead he liked to use his imagination. If a woman caught his fancy, he tried to dream up a life for her. Like this Nymphadora. He decided that she was a worker at a day care center, seeing as she was so good with children. Someone as pretty as her would have a boyfriend…maybe an Enforcer. Remus liked that. He liked the idea of someone there to protect her.
Taking a sip of his water, he saw that Nymphadora and the other witch were now passing out Christmas pudding.
The werewolf he recognized called out to her. 'Oi! Tonks!'
'Yes, Lance?' asked Nymphadora kindly.
'You passed then?'
Nymphadora nodded proudly. 'Qualified four months ago. First new Auror in three years.'
The amount of respect he had for this Nymphadora just went through the roof. Slightly embarrassed, Remus realized he had to change his whole fantasy for her. Drumming his fingers on the table, he invented Nymphadora's new life. She was an Auror, obviously but she lived with her parents because the training schedule was so demanding. There was no point to getting her own place yet. And she had just started dating some type of artist. A painter, he decided finally.
'Care for some pudding?'
Remus looked up and saw that Nymphadora was standing right in front of him, holding two bowls of pudding. He nodded his head. She placed the bowl in front of him and took a step away when suddenly Remus felt his inner Marauder roar.
'Care to join me?'
Nymphadora turned around and smiled. Remus found himself grinning back; her smile was infectious.
She sat down across from him happily. 'I'm Tonks,' she said, placing a spoon in the chocolate mixture in front of her.
Nymphadora put out her hand. 'Very nice to meet you, Mister Lupin.'
Slowly Remus took her hand. It was impossibly small. It was different than he expected. In his daydream, she had soft hands. But in reality hers were rough and calloused. The word that directly came to mind was capable. These were hands that could take on any task.
They ate for a moment in silence. She must have known better than to try to make any of the obvious small talk. Where do you work? What's your family like? People like Remus didn't like having to answer those questions.
'Lovely pudding,' said Nymphadora. 'It's very chocolately.'
'So how long have you volunteered here?' asked Remus suddenly. He had stayed here at least once a year since his parents had died six years ago. And he had never seen her before. Remus would have remembered this Nymphadora.
'Almost four years,' Nymphadora told him.
'I've never seen you here before,' blurted out Remus.
'I don't get here often as I like, Mister Lupin,' said Nymphadora. 'Only once every couple of months.'
Mister Lupin. He wondered if she had any idea what that meant to him. That she saw him worth the use of a title.
'How'd you get started?' asked Remus eagerly. Now that he was talking to her, he didn't want to stop. He wanted her to keep talking; he wanted to keep watching how her lips formed around the words. He wanted to hear her say his name again.
Nymphadora blushed. It was one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen. 'I came here the first time because I thought it would look good on my CV,' she said apologetically. 'But once I started, I kept coming back.'
'Why?' asked Remus simply. Not many volunteers stayed here for as long as she had.
'I like to keep people safe,' said Nymphadora. 'I'm an Auror, so I keep people safe from dark wizards. And here, I can keep-'
Remus' fantasy about Nymphadora had come crumbling down with one little sentence. 'Wizards safe from people like me,' interrupted Remus bitterly.
Nymphadora shook her head. 'No, not at all, Mister Lupin. I can keep people like you safe from people who might be ignorant and want to hurt you,' she said so honestly that Remus couldn't help but believe her. His fantasy was quickly reconstructed.
Remus decided he needed to change the subject and quickly. Noticing that she had a different shade of blue painted onto every nail, he asked, 'So are you a metamorph?'
Wrinkling her nose, Nymphadora changed her hair from those beautiful pink curls to bright red spikes, which framed her heart shaped face quite nicely. 'It's a secret, don't tell anyone,' she whispered teasingly.
'Tonks!' called someone from the kitchen. 'You're free to go!'
'Time for me to leave,' said Tonks, standing up. She took his empty pudding bowl from the table. Remus was sure he was imaging the look of disappointment that crossed her face. 'Got to meet Mum and Dad for dinner.'
'It was good to meet you,' said Remus, meaning every word.
'I'm very glad to have met you, Mister Lupin,' said Nymphadora, her smile lighting her whole face. And then she was gone like a colorful bird of paradise.
The hours went quickly after that. Remus spent the time adding to his fantasy of this Nymphadora. He gave her a tawny owl and after much deliberation placed her in Hufflepuff. Being able to make the grades to be an Auror could have landed her in Ravenclaw. But that didn't seem to fit. And while he was sure she had the bravery required to be in Gryffindor, he felt that it wasn't the proper House for her either. Hufflepuff seemed just right.
As he lay down to sleep on his small cot in the shelter that night, he wondered if he'd ever see her again. In an odd way, he hoped not. If he saw her again, that would mean that he was still staying at the shelter; he simply couldn't imagine any other way that they would meet.
But one meeting was enough. Remus closed his eyes contentedly, knowing his dreams would be occupied by the young witch with the ever changing hair.
A/N – So what'd you think? A plot bunny attacked me this morning and wouldn't let go until this was finished.
Soo…I'm thinking that once Obsession is finished, I might just have to turn this into a chaptered story. Let me know if you'd be interested!