A/N: This was a scene that I (and Gilpin, who commented on it in her review) wished I could have included in chapter one of another fic, A Star Danced; but the pace of the chapter demanded that I leave it out. I've reworked it a bit so that hopefully it stands on its own. Hope you enjoy!
Tonks pulled Remus by the hand, the two of them clattering down the stairs like children on Christmas morning.
"I should tell you I don't believe in Divination. Most of those so-called Seers – "
"Oh, come on. It'll be fun," Tonks grinned over her shoulder. "I guarantee you there's no Seer here. For Entertainment Purposes Only, like the sign says."
They dropped hands as they entered the main area of the dance club's first floor and were greeted by ambient electronic music, mellow and moody. The bar along the back wall was uplit with lights that had been installed inside the countertop, and it threw stripes of color onto the patrons lounging there. As they crossed the room, Remus saw a film of ocean waves being projected onto a white painted brick wall. Several people lolled on low velvet couches with beers in hand, watching the waves crashing one after another on the wall; it was a scene that was rather unchanging, and Remus realized that the film was on a loop, repeating the same three or four waves over and over. The ceiling was lower here; but fortunately this floor was a nonsmoking one, so he didn't feel too claustrophobic.
"Let's see what they've got to offer," said Tonks, her newly-blue eyes glittering darkly in the bluish light of the film.
He followed her pink hair as they passed a row of heavy columns and approached a part of the room that had been partitioned off by several white sheets into separate areas. Signs on the various "booths" indicated that they had their pick of back massage, hand massage, phrenology, acupressure, crystal therapy, tarot, crystal ball, and psychic reading.
"What's phrenology?" Tonks asked.
"The study of bumps on your head. Muggles used to think it could tell you things about your character traits."
She snorted. "The only thing it would tell me is that I'm clumsy. They'll never have seen so many. I'd have to pay extra for all my bumps."
Remus thought of the way she had tripped on the carpet when she met him for the first time upstairs and smiled. "Let's skip phrenology, then. We do want our money's worth."
Tonks smiled back, and Remus felt his heart fluttering again. He suddenly hoped Sirius would stay upstairs at the third floor bar all night.
"How about just a general psychic reading, then?"
"Lead on, my lady."
Tonks grabbed his hand again without a word, which was a habit he was beginning to like. He had never met a woman who was so unguarded and open without being too sexually forward. Tonks was, it seemed, simply comfortable with him. He felt warmth spreading through his chest as she led him toward a middle-aged woman situated at the end of the row of sheets.
She was sitting at a table that had a large blue beach umbrella protruding from the center; Remus had to duck to get underneath it. Tonks sat down and scooted her chair up close, so Remus followed suit.
"Ten Euros," the woman said, smiling gently.
With an internal shudder at the fact that he was paying good Muggle money – Sirius' money – for what was essentially a sham, Remus reached into his pocket and produced the money.
"Each," she added.
Tonks quickly produced another ten and slid it across the table while Remus stared at her. Tonks smiled and shrugged. The fortune teller pocketed the money and leaned forward. She wore a large blue mumu and a pair of gauzy, glittery blue wings looped around her armpits with elastic. A huge blue hat with flowers and birds on it sat atop her curly blond head. Her blue eyes crinkled warmly. She really did look like the Muggle idea of a fairy – a very tall and plump fairy – with her wings and her mumu. Her ample bosom was propped on the table behind her crossed forearms, and Remus wondered if that was how she managed to draw her customers – the male ones, at least. But when she spoke again, he began to realize that it wasn't her bosom at all. It was her voice.
"I'm going to study your auras for a moment," she said quietly. Her voice, with its soft Irish accent, was sweet and clear; it was a bit high-pitched for a woman her age, but pleasant nonetheless. It was soothing and made one want to listen to it for a long time.
Tonks darted a glance at Remus and gave the merest smile. The woman's eyes skirted Remus and Tonks, looking all around them but not directly at them. "There is an air of mystery about you," she said to Remus. "Something I cannot place."
With four whiskeys in him, Remus fought the urge to giggle. He forced a solemn look to stay on his face.
"And there's something dangerous inside you, too, just as it is inside any man. The wolf, if you will."
He swallowed, not liking where this was going at all.
But then the woman shifted her gaze to Tonks. "You, on the other hand, have very little mystery about you at all."
Tonks looked disappointed.
"What I mean," the lady went on, "is that you wear everything on your sleeve. But the real depths, your true vulnerabilities, are not for anyone to see. You've guarded them very well for many years. But you must allow someone to see them, to share them."
Remus suddenly felt better. The momentary jolt the psychic had given him with her wolf comment was probably nothing but a stock phrase she offered to every male customer who approached her with a female on his arm. This woman, like any decent charlatan, was simply very skilled at reading people's reactions.
"As must you, as well," she said pointedly to Remus. "Still waters run deep, but the water will become brackish if you don't allow some turbulence."
Remus willed himself not to roll his eyes at the metaphor.
"You're clinging to the past," she said bluntly. "And you cannot truly live now if you're living then. The pain is part of who you are, but it doesn't define you."
The woman's eyes bored into him, and he refused to lower his gaze.
"That other woman … She wasn't your soul mate." The woman's gaze became tender as she spoke softly. "And you know it."
Remus couldn't help thinking of Lily, and James. He had to remind himself that this lady was probably basing many of her insights simply on his appearance: a man Remus' age must have a past, must be damaged in some way. If she only knew the number of women he had tried to let in over the years. But in the end …
"Sorry to be so frank, dear," she said to Tonks. "But you needed to hear that, too, didn't you?"
"Of course," Tonks replied, her lips twitching.
The woman went on, speaking at length about how love is letting go of fear; how fear is nothing but a narcissistic tendency and an unwillingness to look beyond oneself; how fear is the greatest insult to the friends and lovers you don't trust; how fear would try to get in the way of their professions, their relationships with others, and their love for each other. Remus glanced at Tonks and found her staring at him. They smiled awkwardly at one another and looked back at the woman.
She asked them to link hands with each other and with her. This time when Remus touched Tonks' hand, he felt a current, almost like a low level of electricity, but full of the emotion of all things potential, the promise of future and home and hearth, of comfort and togetherness, of ecstasy and heartbreak, of knowing and not knowing and wishing and having. It felt so soothing and thrilling all at once that it took him a moment to realize his eyes were closed. When he looked at Tonks, he saw that her eyes were shut, as well. Then he noticed that there was a milder current passing between his hand and the psychic's. He turned his gaze to her and saw her regarding them both with a furrowed brow. It wasn't fear, exactly, that he read there, but uncertainty and concern; and this disturbed him perhaps more than the fear would have. A charlatan would never behave in an uncertain manner. He wanted to pull his hand away, but the woman began speaking, in an even softer voice this time. The worry on her face increased with every utterance.
"You are afraid that he won't love you for who you are," she said to Tonks, "but only for what you can do. You couldn't be more wrong, dear. On the contrary, he will underestimate you."
She looked at Remus.
"And you," she said in a shaky voice, "you're afraid you'll hurt her. And you will."
Remus' heart dropped into his stomach.
"But not in the way that you imagine you will."
He felt Tonks squeezing his hand. At once they both let go of the psychic's hands, and the woman started. She looked confused, and her eyes darted between the two as if she had been jolted awake in the middle of the night. They were only a few minutes into the twenty-minute reading, and suddenly the woman had nothing to say.
Remus stood up, nearly bumping his head on the umbrella above him. Tonks rose with him. "Thanks for your time. It was very … "
"Informative," finished Tonks.
They stepped away from the psychic, who now looked utterly bewildered. Remus was filled with a strange combination of elation and dread, and he wasn't sure what to make of it.
"Seer?" he asked quietly as they headed toward the stairs to go find Sirius.
"Squib, I think, with some divination ability," Tonks replied. "Why didn't I sense it?"
"Well, there's that, yes … "
"We should go."
As they ascended the stairs, Remus realized that they were still holding hands. He decided he would not be the one to pull away first. Not this time.
A/N: All reviewers get a pocketful of Sirius' money and whatever New Age activity you fancy. Curmudgeonly Remus will smirk at you, Romantic Remus will shoot you meaningful glances, and Saucy Remus will take advantage of your sentimental state to sneak in a kiss.