A/N: This is a one-shot based on a spectacularly embarrassing fall I entered in the Nymphadora of the Week competition on Live Journal. I came an 'impressive' joint-second. Huzzah. And I'd like to dedicate this to my fellow contestants, for making me feel like less of a clumsy loser ;).
As Tonks slumped down onto the stairs, wondering which bit of her was hurting the most, the only thing she could think was that this was not how first dates were supposed to end.
Especially not first dates with Remus, who she'd fancied and flirted with for months, and who had finally taken the hint and asked her out with such hopeful anxiety in his eyes that she'd fallen just a little bit in love with him.
No, first dates with Remus were not supposed to end like this. There was supposed to be kissing, and gooey feelings, and promises to do this again in the very near future. Or something altogether more horizontal. First dates were not supposed to end with an awkward, silence-filled trudge back to Grimmauld in the drizzle, and her sitting on the gloomy stairs with all the wrong bits aching.
First date my arse, she thought bitterly, as she rested her throbbing temple on the banister. It should probably be only date, because why on earth would Remus want to go out again with someone who couldn't even stay on their own two feet?
Tonks sighed. Remus was always so graceful and poised and grown up, and she was a liability and a menace, and had skinned knees like a six year old, which was just unseemly. He'd often hinted at how different they were, and tonight she'd just gone and proved it. He'd been a dream, she'd been a nightmare.
She wasn't even really sure how she'd done it. One minute she'd been walking through the pub towards Remus with a couple of drinks, and the next she'd slipped –
She winced. She didn't even really want to think about it.
How must she have looked with her legs sliding in opposite directions as she collapsed and head-butted the floor?
She rolled her eyes at herself, inadvertently meeting the glassy gaze of one of the stuffed elf heads. She swore it was smirking at her.
God. She wanted the stairs to just open up and swallow her.
Remus finished drying and hanging up their coats and turned to her, but Tonks avoided his eyes, bracing herself for the inevitable brush-off, the 'well, this has been nice, but it's getting late' before he scampered up to his room to hide from her until they were both sufficiently embarrassed about the whole thing to pretend it never happened.
She studied the step beneath her treacherous feet, following the grooves in the wood she could see through the threadbare carpet, cursing spilt beer and wooden floors and footwear with insufficient grip.
"Are you all right?" Remus said softly.
"Fine," she muttered. "You know me…."
She trailed off and Remus peered at her searchingly for a moment, and then offered her his hand. Tonks looked at it, then him, then it again, and then him again, just for good measure, because neither he, nor his hand, seemed especially real. And she couldn't think of any good reason why he might be offering it to her.
"I won't bite," he said, and shot her a smile that was both reassuring and cheeky and just a little bit loveable. She smiled back tentatively. "I thought I'd make you a cocoa," he said, and Tonks took his hand, because if he was going to give her the 'hey, you're great, but let's just be friends, eh?' speech, she might as well have something to wash down the tears and the lump in her throat.
She let Remus lead her to the kitchen and sank into a chair, staring intently at the woodworm holes in the table, half wanting to laugh at the fact that she was suddenly finding wood so fascinating. She heard Remus summon everything he needed, heat the milk, and, moments later, he set a chipped Chudley Cannons mug filled with steaming cocoa down on the table in front of her. Reluctantly, she looked up. "Thanks," she muttered, wrapping her fingers around the mug and taking a sip.
Tonks coughed as a warmth that had nothing to do with the heat of the drink seeped down into her stomach. "Is there whiskey in this?" she said, looking at him quizzically as she took another sip.
"Just a nip," Remus replied as he sank down into a chair next to her. "I thought it might help."
Tonks raised her eyebrows briefly at him to indicate that she'd heard, but couldn't really think of anything to say. What were you supposed to say to man who had taken you out for a perfectly lovely evening when you'd ruined it by falling flat on your face? What was there to say when you'd called an early halt to the proceedings by scrambling to your feet with as much dignity as you could muster and trying to disguise your limp as you made a hasty exit? What was there to say when the good patrons of The Grinning Kneazle had accompanied your exit with a chorus of laughter? Tonks bit her lip. Suddenly whiskey seemed like a very good idea, and she took a much larger sip of her cocoa.
"You took quite a tumble."
Remus' words rumbled into her thoughts and she looked up to find him eyeing her kindly over the rim of his mug. "Thanks for not laughing," she said, setting her mug down on the table and toying with one of the chips on the handle.
"Why would I laugh?" he said, setting his mug down next to hers.
"I must have looked pretty funny," she said. "You know, when I did that flip onto my side and cracked my head on the floor. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to let go of the glasses and break my fall."
Remus smiled, although she got the distinct impression that it wasn't a smile of amusement, or even sympathy. It was understanding. He leant forward a little, meeting her gaze steadily, his eyes twinkling. "I'm just sorry I didn't manage to produce a quick enough cushioning charm," he said. He peered up at her through his eyelashes, catching his lip between his teeth and pausing for just a moment as he looked at her questioningly. Having apparently found the answer to whatever question he was asking, he continued. "I tried, but, well, you'd picked up quite a bit of speed during descent."
One side of his mouth hitched upwards in the beginning of a smile and Tonks laughed, although it was a little on the choked side in spite of how desperately she wanted to give in to the comfort of his teasing. "Are you sure you're all right?" he said, and there was such kindness in his eyes that she couldn't be anything other than honest.
"Kind of hurt my knee a bit," she said with a vague shrug, and Remus nodded, his gaze falling to her knee, and then coming back again as he gestured for her to roll up her trouser leg. She looked away, far too mortified to even think about meeting his eye. "It's fine. Really."
"Come on," Remus said softly. "Let me see."
Tonks rolled her eyes, and then reluctantly peeled one leg of her jeans up her shin, revealing a patch of raw, pink skin over a lump that was distinctly egg-shaped on her knee. "Ouch," Remus said, meeting her eye and then wincing as if he could actually feel the injury himself.
"I'm fine," she said, and tried to laugh, even though she felt like crying. "You know what I'm like. I bruise pretty easily. It's nothing. Really I – "
Tonks was distracted from her train of thought by a warm tingling sensation on her knee, and she looked down to find Remus' hand hovering above it and her skin glowing golden for a moment as it prickled with the unmistakable sensation of a healing spell. A very good and well-performed healing spell. She opened her mouth to thank him, but before she could get a word out, he slid off his chair and crouched at her feet. "What are you..?" Her voice dwindled away to nothing as he leant forward and placed an exquisite, tiny kiss on her newly-healed knee, his lips heating and tickling her skin far more than his spell had.
"Kissing it better," he murmured.
He moved away a little, dropping down onto his knees, and carefully rolled her jeans back down, before sitting back on his heels and smiling up at her tentatively. She smiled back, even though she thought she was probably far too tingly to form a truly convincing expression. She was just a bit stunned. Had Remus really just – ? "How's the other knee?" he said. "I thought you landed on them both?"
She was tempted to say that she didn't know how her other knee was because her brain had thrown out any thought about her even having knees as it desperately tried to cling onto every detail, every millisecond, every tiny sensation his lips on her skin had produced. "Same," she said, rather more huskily than she intended, and he reached for the hem of her jean leg, and then looked up at her, raising an eyebrow slightly as if asking for permission.
She nodded just as slightly, and he pushed the material up slowly, carefully, revealing an angry red patch on her knee that would probably be a spectacular bruise, given the opportunity. This time she watched as Remus' hand hovered over her knee, and he tapped the back of it with his wand. His palm glowed briefly golden before her knee started to tingle as the healing spell shifted from his skin to hers and took effect, and when he was finished, she watched, utterly transfixed, as he placed a tiny fluttering kiss to that knee too. Without looking up, he carefully slid her jeans back into place, and Tonks held her breath, not wanting to do anything that might transport them from the tiny magical bubble he'd created around the two of them back to a grimy kitchen with woodworm in the table and stuffed elf heads down the corridor.
"Where else?" Remus said, his voice so quiet she barely heard it.
"Bruised my hip a bit," she said, her voice lower than she'd ever have thought possible, as she dug her fingers into the underside of the seat, desperately trying to find something to cling to so she didn't fall off the world. "Y'know, when I landed on my side."
"What?" she said, and her voice quavered. Remus looked up at her, grinning.
"If you don't show me where it hurts, I can't make it better," he said.
Tonks wasn't entirely sure what he was suggesting, but she rather liked the flirtatious sparkle in his eyes as he suggested it.
She rolled her eyes and nervously pushed a strand of hair behind her ear, and then shuffled to the edge of the seat, shifting her knees to one side and easing the waist of her jeans down over her hip. "You know, normally I make a bloke take me out more than once before I let him see my knickers," she said, trying to keep things light in spite of her pounding heart and the rising nervous excitement that set her stomach a-tingle. Remus' eyebrows twitched in amusement as he grinned – in fact, smirked.
"Shame," he said, appreciatively eying the black lace she'd exposed across her hip. "They're very nice."
She rolled her eyes again and giggled as he placed his hand over her hip bone and the trickling warmth of the bruise-reduction spell he was using spread from his fingers over her skin. She felt a little shivery having him touch her there, but in a very good way. The best way. She could only imagine what it might feel like to have his lips there. He glanced up briefly, giving her the chance to stop him, before pressing a warm kiss over the black lace he apparently found so appealing, and the touch of his lips and the warmth of his breath made hers catch in her chest.
He couldn't, she thought, and then stopped herself. It seemed too fantastical an idea to even let it fully form. He couldn't – he couldn't possibly still be interested after he'd seen her sprawled on the floor of The Grinning Kneazle amongst cigarette butts and chewing gum and abandoned beer bottles. He couldn't – and yet when she looked down into his eyes, she didn't see derision, or any indication that he was playing at this, that at any second he'd give her the well-rehearsed speech about how not-suited they were that she'd been dreading since they got back. All she saw in his eyes was….
She wasn't sure what that look was. There was concern, certainly, for the state of her bruises, but something else too – the same look he'd given her when she'd answered the door earlier that evening and he'd just looked at her for a moment, and then taken a deep breath before telling her how lovely he thought she looked.
She took an audible breath and bit her lip, gingerly reaching up to rest her hand on his shoulder. Partly she wanted to reassure him that she really didn't mind the way his breath lingered on her hip, but mostly she didn't think she could resist touching him for a second longer. "And I know you bruised your ribs," Remus murmured, easing her T shirt away from her skin and just a little way up her side. He trailed kisses from her hip up to the area in question, and she shivered as his lips passed over her ribs, tightening her grip on his shoulder and closing her eyes briefly as his hand rested against her skin. "Anywhere else?" he said, his voice low and rumbling as he straightened up.
"Here," she murmured, lightly touching the eyebrow she'd smacked on the floor. Remus shifted between her knees, took her face in his hands and drew her down to him, replacing her fingers with his lips. She swallowed, rather obviously.
"Is that everywhere?" Remus said, breathing the words against her temple.
"Hmm," she murmured. Her fingers made their way along to his neck entirely of their own accord, and she eased him just a little bit closer, tracing the contours of his neck with her fingertips, moving slowly up to stroke his jaw with her thumb, fully aware of how closely they were holding each other. "What about you?" she said, amazed she could hear the words she knew she was uttering over the pounding of her heart and the deafening fluttering in her stomach. "You're not – hurt, anywhere, are you?"
Remus smiled slowly. "Well now you come to mention it," he said, "I'm a bit sore here – " He touched his fingers lightly to his lips. "Kissing it better is very hard work."
"Oh," she said quietly, and they offered each other a slight half-smile in recognition of how much they both wanted to do what they both knew they were about to.
She leant forward at the same moment he did, and kissed him, unable to stop herself from pouring everything she'd felt over the past few months, everything she felt now about how caring and sexy and wonderful she thought he was, into it. His lips on hers were gentle and teasing, and his kiss was delicious, and made her want to whimper. The dull ache of bruises and embarrassment that had permeated her body disappeared, to be replaced by an altogether nicer kind of ache, and she wasn't entirely sure her accelerated healing was to do with magic. At least not the kind you did with a wand.
He held her face gently, even as the intensity of his kiss grew, and she thought that as first kisses went, it was pretty amazing. Actually, now she came to think about it, did this count as a first kiss if he'd already had his lips on various parts of her anatomy? Either way, she thought drowsily, it was certainly up there with the greatest kisses she'd had, first or otherwise.
If it hadn't usurped them all.
Which she thought it might have.
His fingers curled into her hair as he pressed a little harder and kissed her more urgently, and –
Oh holy hen's teeth. In amongst other thoughts of an entirely less sentient and all the more wibbly variety, Tonks thought that if she'd known Remus was this good at kissing things better, she would have fallen over and made a fool of herself in front of him ages ago. Between the way he was stroking faint circles on her cheek with his thumb and the sensation of his tongue on her bottom lip, he practically had her making the kind of proclamations she normally saved for far further down the intimacy line.
Just when she thought things couldn't possibly get any better, Remus' hands slid up her thighs to her hips, and he gently eased her off the chair and onto his lap, wrapping one arm around her waist to hold her against him, while the other hand slid up over her shoulders, busying itself with her hair. Tonks murmured some word even she couldn't make out against his lips, wondering if this was some fluke fantastic kiss, a cosmic coincidence that happened once in a lifetime, a meeting of mouths that just happened to be perfect, or if every time he kissed her – which she hoped he'd do again, repeatedly, and for the foreseeable – it would feel like this. She felt him smile before he pulled away a little.
"Better?" he asked quietly, and she nodded, feeling a little bit as if actual words were beyond her. "Oh," he said. "And you've got a little – "
Holding her close with one hand, he pulled down the sleeve of his jumper and wiped gently at her forehead, brow furrowed in concentration. "There."
Tonks winced as she saw the grey sleeve of his jumper come back black. "Did I have pub grime on my forehead?" she said, although she couldn't resist a smile, because straddling his lap like this in the wake of a kiss she could happily have drowned in had given her more than one reason to grin like an idiot.
"Yes," Remus said, and his voice danced with amusement. "But you're pretty enough to carry it off."
"You think?" she said, and he took her face in his hand.
"I do," he said, returning his lips to hers rather earnestly.
As his hands roamed her body and hers his, she gasped a little. That possibly first, definitely amazing, inside-melting kiss hadn't been a fluke, a one off, at all. Everything she'd felt before she felt now, only more so. She really wasn't sure how much longer she could stand it, and she pressed closer, wrapping her arms around him and clinging to his shoulders, and he curled into her, trailing kisses down the side of her neck and making her insides clench. "You know," Remus said, peppering her throat with kisses and then returning his gaze to hers, his face lighting up with a rather suggestive smile, "you did take quite a knock to the head."
She wondered if he was going to go where she hoped with this. "I did," she said, returning his suggestive smile with one of her own before ducking her head to offer his neck some much deserved attention. Remus let out a low and rather gratifying whimper, his fingers tightening in her hair.
"Do you think we should get you lying down?" he said breathily, easing her head back so he could look at her, and raising an eyebrow at her.
Tonks grinned, and as Remus took her hand, helped her to her feet, wrapped his arms around her and Apparated them both to his room, the only thing she could think was that this was exactly how first dates with Remus were supposed to end.
A/N: Anyone who reviews gets a fanfic Remus of their choosing to ease their aches and pains: Mischievous Remus insists you see the funny side, doing comedy impressions of your fall until you feel better; Gentlemanly Remus makes you a warm, soothing drink, and offers to go out for painkillers; Sexy Remus takes your mind off it by showing you some interesting things you can do with ice-packs; and, well, Flirty Remus would kiss it better, but I have a feeling he's a bit busy with Tonks at the moment…. ;)