Chapter 4: The Beginning
Remus allowed himself to sleep late the next morning, as he was absolutely certain that the Weasleys would not be arriving as early as they claimed. In fact, he would be surprised if they were completely moved in by dinnertime. Despite the lateness of his rising, he still made it down to the kitchen before Sirius. He had finished his breakfast and read the entire Daily Prophet before Sirius wandered in to the kitchen, and meekly pleaded, "Coffee?"
Remus folded his paper, and pointed. "I have a pot ready for you."
"Bless you," said Sirius, heading for the pot.
After a few cups of coffee, Sirius settled back in his chair with a sigh. "So," he said. "It's our last morning of freedom."
"Yes, and that last morning is already almost over," said Remus, glancing at his watch.
Sirius sighed, again. "It seems our careers as professional babysitters are about to begin."
Remus chuckled. "I doubt any of the young Weasleys would appreciate being told that they need a babysitter. Don't worry too much, Sirius. They're a good lot. I suspect you'll enjoy them much more than you think you will. The twins in particular have a sense of humor that will appeal to you very much."
"Humph," said Sirius, staring at the table. It seemed he was going to be in one of his dark moods today.
"It won't be just the kids, you know. I'm sure that Bill will be spending more time here now that his family is moving in. And I suspect that Tonks would like to take the time to get to know you better."
That did elicit a small smile from Sirius. "Tonks," he said. "Now there's a hell of a woman. Funny, beautiful, smart. If she wasn't my cousin …." Sirius trailed of thoughtfully.
"Then she should be glad she is. I pity the poor woman who suffers the fate of being your getting over Azkaban relationship."
Sirius scowled. "What do you mean by that?"
"What I mean," replied Remus, "is that she could expect lots of shagging, lots of brooding, and a minimal amount of real emotional attachment—on your part that is."
"You're being unfair."
"Am I?" said Remus, raising an eyebrow.
Sirius just looked down and shrugged. Remus took that as grudging confirmation that he was right.
After a minutes silence, Sirius said, rather wistfully, "It would just be nice to have someone. You know? I'm tired of being alone. I don't know how you can stand it—living like a sodding monk."
"It's easier than having my heart ripped out of my chest every few months," said Remus.
"You're just too damn dead-set on having actual relationships. Can't you skip the relationship crap and just get yourself laid once in awhile?"
Remus leaned back in his chair, and pushed his fringe out of his face. "I tried that tactic too. I couldn't pull it off. It seems that I am somehow incapable of preventing myself from becoming emotionally involved. I just can't separate the sex from the emotions. And there's only so many times a bloke can get his heart broken before he decides it's not worth it any more."
"Maybe for some," said Sirius. "I guess I don't have the right emotional make-up for celibacy. I still can't fathom why you would willingly choose it." He looked befuddled, as he did every time this topic came up.
"And I don't think that I can make you understand. You're simply going to have to accept that you and I are irreconcilably different on this particular issue, and leave it at that. However, I do think you'd be surprised how easily a person can adapt to celibacy, after a while, once they've accepted the futility of attempted romance."
Sirius shook his head. "You gave up too easily."
"It wasn't giving up. It was learning to accept my fate."
"You're so blooming melodramatic sometimes."
"I'm not melodramatic."
"Yes you are."
"No I'm not."
"Am no—I'm not having this conversation." Remus clamped his mouth shut, and folded his arms.
Sirius just smiled wryly. After another minute, he spoke again. "Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to rule out Tonks as a legitimate possibility. After all, my family tree is replete with cousin-marriages."
"Marriage isn't what you're looking for."
Sirius shrugged. "So? It's a good enough excuse for what I am looking for, isn't it?"
"No," said Remus firmly. "It's not. Not with Tonks."
"Why not? Do you fancy her for yourself?"
"No!" said Remus. "I respect her. And it would be a good idea if you would start respecting her too. She's going to be our colleague, and she's eager to be our friend. It would be fool-hardy of you to ruin that because you can't think with anything above your belt."
Sirus rolled his eyes. "You're right—of course. I hate it when you go and ruin all my best fantasies."
"You can feel free to fantasize anything you want—just keep your fantasies, and your hands, to yourself."
"Fine," said Sirius, standing up to get himself another cup of coffee. Once he had refilled his mug, he sat back down, and stared into the dark liquid. "I can't help wondering what it would be like to be with a Metamorphmagus. It's been a fantasy of mine for years now, ever since I read this book…"
"Don't tell me," interrupted Remus. "Was it The Erotic Adventures of Melinda the Metamorph?"
"You've read it then?" asked Sirius.
"No!" exclaimed Remus, in disgust. "I caught Peter with it in our fifth year, when he was supposed to be doing his History of Magic essay. He told me you gave it to him."
"Did you confiscate it?" asked Sirius, with narrow eyes.
"No. I just made him put it away while we were in the library."
"He told me a teacher confiscated it."
"Was I a teacher at the time?"
"No, but he might have been covering for you."
This time Remus rolled his eyes. "I didn't confiscate it."
"I really wanted that book back."
"I didn't confiscate it!"
"It was a really good book."
"I'm leaving now," said Remus, standing and heading for the door.
"I bet you did take it! And you read it! And that's why you want Tonks for yourself!" yelled Sirius after him.
"Goodbye!" said Remus. Sirius was completely unmanageable when he was in one of these moods.
Despite the ridiculousness of the conversation, however, it had helped Remus to realize something unexpected: he was attracted to Tonks. He would have defended any woman that Sirius had talked about, but talking about Tonks that way had particularly offended him. That was when he knew that he was undeniably attracted to her. It was a problem, but not a big one. He'd been attracted to female colleagues and friends before, and been able to prevent his attraction from interfering with a more platonic relationship. And he could do it again. It would certainly help that there was almost no chance of Tonks being attracted to him in return—how could she be? Remus made his way up to the library, determined to spend the rest of the morning relaxing with a book. Yes, a book would be the perfect way to take his mind off of things that he didn't want to think about.
Tonks's morning with the Weasleys was more fun than she had expected, but it was also more tiring.
Tonks's short relationship with Charlie had ended amicably when he left for Romania, and she had remained on good terms with his family. She always made a point of stopping to chat with Arthur anytime they ran into each other at the Ministry, but it had been a long time since she last encountered anyone else in the family. When she arrived at the Burrow (only a few minutes late) she was delighted at the warmth of their greeting. She was particularly surprised to see Molly's delight at seeing her again. On the numerous occasions when she had visited the Burrow with Charlie, Molly had seemed more to tolerate than like her. It took Tonks most of the morning to realize that her new status as Auror and Order member had elevated her in Molly's eyes to "worthy daughter-in-law material," and that she appeared to be hoping that Bill's invitation to help with the move would soon lead to invitations of a more social nature.
Once she realized what was going on, Tonks wasn't sure whether she ought to be amused or annoyed—and she finally settled on amused. After all, watching Molly's attempts to balance her desire to enthusiastically welcome Tonks with her desire to protect her breakables from Tonks was undeniably amusing. In her quest to keep Tonks away from anything she might damage, Molly finally sent her to help Ginny and her friend Hermione finish the laundry, and pack it away for transport to Grimmauld Place.
Tonks was excited to find that Hermione was one of Harry Potter's best friends. She had been wanting to know more about Harry as a real person, not just a headline in the news, and Sirius's descriptions of him came across as a trifle idealized. She finished her morning with a delightful hour discussing Harry, the prospects for this year's House Quidditch Tournament, and Ginny's current long distance romance with a boy from Ravenclaw. Ginny had grown into a lovely and witty young woman who reminded Tonks very much of Cory at that age—which was very much a good thing.
Once they had finished packing the last of the clean laundry, they joined the family in the kitchen for a hurried lunch. After lunch there was an even more hurried clean-up. Finally, the entire family was ready for the arduous move to Grimmauld Place. Bill went through the Floo first, to coordinate things on the Grimmauld end. Then, they began sending package after package, and trunk after trunk, through the Floo. Just when Tonks was beginning to wonder if Molly was sending the whole contents of the Burrow through, Molly announced that they were finished, and said the family could make the trip. Molly herself was going to take another hour at home to finish "getting the place in order," for their long absence.
After helping Arthur to shepherd the kids through the Floo one by one, Tonks turned to Arthur and Molly. "I'll go help Bill get the kids settled. Go ahead and take an hour or two for yourselves before joining us—I'm sure you won't have much privacy anymore once you finish the move. You'd best enjoy it while you can."
Arthur's tense face relaxed into a grateful smile. "Thank you, Tonks. It already feels like ages since we had any time to ourselves."
Molly, however, looked apprehensive. "Are you sure you can handle them, Tonks? They can be very trying."
"Don't worry, Molly. It'll be fine. Besides, it's not like it's just Bill and I. Sirius and Remus are there to help, as well," said Tonks.
"Do you…" started Molly, then paused, and seemed to be rephrasing her thoughts. "Are you completely comfortable putting him in charge of the children?"
Tonks smiled. Molly's over protectiveness was clouding her thinking. "He's really a sweetheart, Molly. A bit mischievous, but he'd never do any harm. The kids are in fine hands. Trust me."
Molly nodded, with a thin smile. "You must be right—after all, Dumbledore trusts him. And the children have had nothing but good to say about him."
"Well, I'll leave you to it, then," said Molly. "It really is very sweet of you to give us some time to ourselves. It's hard enough to manage with a house full of children here at home, but at that place, with Sirius underfoot as well, it'll be nearly impossible."
"Then take the time to enjoy it," said Tonks emphatically. "Take all afternoon if you like."
"Thank you, dear," said Molly, giving Tonks a warm hug.
Tonks turned to the Floo, stating the address. Before stepping inside, she gave one last look to Molly. "I'll see you at dinner time," she said.
The look on Molly's face was enough to confirm that dinner might even be too soon.
When Tonks stepped out of the Floo in the Grimmauld Place kitchen she emerged into the midst of a swirl of activity. Remus and Hermione were at the table unloading boxes of kitchen supplies. Bill and Sirius were sorting the trunks and packages into various piles, and Ron and Ginny seemed to be arguing over which of the latest model brooms was to be preferred for Quidditch. Ginny turned to her suddenly.
"Tonks," she said, "I think that the Comet series are the best of the less expensive brooms, but Ron insists that the Cleansweeps are better. What do you think?"
"I have a Comet 260, myself," replied Tonks. "And I've heard very good things about the 290."
Ginny turned to Ron with a knowing smirk on her face. Tonks, not wanting to be the source of a family argument, hastily added, "But I have a chum who swears by the Cleansweep series. And Charlie flew a Cleansweep, didn't he? Perhaps they're better suited to the Weasley-family flying style. But in the end it's really a matter of personal preference, isn't it?"
"See," said Ron. "Cleansweeps are better for our flying style."
"She said it was personal preference, you dolt!" retorted Ginny.
Tonks was about to speak up again, when two loud cracks of Apparation reverberated through the kitchen, and the twins appeared on either side of her, sandwiching her tightly between them. Tonks let out a little yelp of surprise. The twins, clearly not expecting to find someone standing between them, both began to lose their balance. They both reached out to clutch at her to steady their stance—but their grabbing had the opposite effect. All three of them were so thoroughly knocked off balance that they all collapsed into a squirming, laughing heap on the floor.
"This is why you're not supposed to Apparate around the house, you daft pillocks!" yelled Bill, striding over to help Tonks to her feet.
Sirius trailed along behind Bill, chuckling as Bill extricated her from his brothers. "Tonks—this is a momentous occasion," he said. "It must be the first time you've been entangled with a Weasley man since Charlie left! And this time you managed it with two at once."
Tonks scowled at him as the twins burst into gales of laughter. "You are an incorrigible tease, Sirius Black." His only reply was a leering smile and a mocking bow.
"Now get your arses over here, and start helping me move these trunks up to the bedrooms," said Bill to the twins. "And don't let me catch you Apparating around the house again."
Tonks joined them, and Ron and Ginny stepped up to help as well. They spent the next half hour making sure that all the trunks and bags were sorted into piles according to which room they were going to. Then, Bill levitated the first pile, and headed up the stairs. As the twins made to join him, Remus sidled over and caught their attention. "Might I make a suggestion?" he said quietly, his eyes twinkling.
"Sure, Professor," said George.
Remus leaned toward the young men conspiratorially, and said, "Next time you feel like popping down to the kitchen, I suggest you use that back corner," he pointed, "by the larder as your Apparation point. It's out of the way, and it's highly unlikely that anyone will be standing there."
"Thanks, Professor!" said Fred. "We'll remember that." The twins dashed up the stairs talking quickly in low voices to one another.
Remus glanced over at her, and gave her a little smile and a wink. Then he turned to his own pile of trunks and parcels for levitation. Tonks was impressed with how easily he had ensured that no further Apparation accidents would occur, and made himself into the twins's ally at the same time. But she was a little puzzled by their calling him "Professor." She wondered what was behind it.
She took her turn in line levitating a pile of luggage up several flights of stairs, to where Bill was directing traffic into and out of the various bedrooms. Remus was already upstairs helping the children get themselves settled, and she heard both Hermione and Ron address him by the moniker, "Professor," as well. By the time she had a moment to ask him about it, he had already disappeared downstairs to do some more work in the kitchen.
Instead, she asked the twins. "So what's with all of you calling Remus, Professor?"
They looked at her in surprise. "Didn't you know?" asked George.
"Know what?" she replied.
"He was teacher, in Defense Against the Dark Arts, the year before faux-Moody took over," said Fred.
"Really?" said Tonks in astonishment. So that was why he had such a good rapport with the children. Besides, who would be better to teach defense against the Dark, than someone who spent the whole first war fighting on the front lines?
"Why did he leave?" she asked, burning with curiosity.
"Surely you read about the whole to-do in the Prophet?" said Fred.
"No. I never read that rubbish."
"Well," said George, "it was because of the thing with Sirius."
"And the Shrieking Shack," added Fred.
"And Snape," said George.
"And Harry," continued Fred.
"And the fur, and the claws," said George.
"And don't forget Peter Pettigrew," said Fred.
"You mean Scabbers," said George.
"Was that your pet ret that turned out to be Pettigrew in disguise?" asked Tonks, who had heard some of the story from Kingsley.
"Yeah," said George. "It still gives me the willies!"
"We used to take baths with it! Him…it," said Fred.
"That's enough to give anyone the willies," replied Tonks.
"Fred! George! Get over here!" called Bill.
"Coming!" they called in unison, rolling their eyes and heading over to their brother.
They hadn't really answered her question, but it seemed that Remus must have had something to do with Sirius's escape from Hogwarts. If that was the case, then he was lucky that he had only lost his job—he easily could have been arrested. Dumbledore must have intervened on his behalf. But if something about it had been in the Daily Prophet, that explained why he was having trouble getting a job. Poor fellow. She hated seeing people suffer injustice, and it seemed that Remus was feeling the brunt of some of the same injustice that had been inflicted on Sirius. She didn't think that she could handle the same sort of treatment as cheerfully as he seemed to be. He really was a fascinating man.
After several hours of helping the children unpack, Bill asked Tonks if she would go down and see if Remus had started anything for supper, yet. She gladly complied.
Much to her delight, as she approached the kitchen the scent of food cooking wafted up to her nose. She went in, and found Remus at the counter, his sleeves rolled up, expertly peeling carrots with precise flicks of his wand.
"I should have known you'd be handy in the kitchen," she said. "You clean, you cook, you're good with children. You'll be a very lovely wife someday."
"Very funny," said Remus, glaring at her.
"Sorry, couldn't help myself," she said with a smile.
"Something you have in common with your cousin."
"Apparently." She could tell that he wasn't really upset. "So how did you get so good at these householdy spells?"
"I discovered, years ago, that if I wanted a clean house I either had to learn to do things the Muggle way, or to master housework spells. And the Muggle way takes so dreadfully long, I decided the spells would be easier. It was well worth my time—I highly recommend it. Either that or ask your mum to get a house elf for your next birthday." He was still looking intently at the vegetables, but she could hear the smile in his voice.
"I'll take it under advisement," she said. "And how about the cooking? That's not as simple as learning a few charms."
"Every old bachelor has to learn to cook eventually, unless he wants to eat in a pub for every meal. I'm only passable at it, really. Can't do anything fancy. Hence, tonight we are having baked pork, mashed potatoes, and carrots."
"It might not be fancy, but it smells wonderful," said Tonks.
"Thank you. Would you like to give me a hand?"
"Only if you have a Muggle-style peeler. If I try to do it with my wand I'd likely end up peeling your fingers."
"I don't think we have one."
"Then I'll just have to watch," she said, taking a seat on the table top, and swinging her legs back a forth.
"So I take it you're not much of a cook yourself?" he asked.
"Much to my mother's chagrin, no. But baking is something else altogether; I can make all kinds of biscuits, and breads, and cakes. As long as I do it all the Muggle way, it comes out beautifully. My Granny Tonks taught me how."
"So what makes baking any different from cooking?"
"I've thought a lot about that one," said Tonks. "I think it's that cooking is more creative, and intuitive. But baking is more like potion-making, you know? If you control the proportions, and temperatures, and mix it properly, it will turn out fine."
"Oh—so you're neither creative nor intuitive, but you can follow directions."
"Something like that."
Remus dumped all the carrots into a pot, and covered them with a little water from the tap. After putting the pot on the stove, he walked over to Tonks and sat next to her on the table. His feet dangled almost a foot closer to the floor than hers.
"It was very thoughtful of you to encourage Molly and Arthur to spend the afternoon at home by themselves," he said.
"It was the least I could do," she said. "This summer's hardly going to be a picnic for them."
"No, it most certainly is not," he agreed.
She swung her foot to kick him lightly in the shin. "I found out about your dirty little secret," she said.
"Which one?" he asked, with a boyish smile.
"The one that involves you being another victim of the Hogwarts DADA curse."
"Ahhh. That one."
"It's a pity, really. The kids all seem to think very highly of you. I'm sure you were an excellent teacher."
"I did my best," he said, looking a little sheepish.
"Do you ever miss it?"
He nodded slowly. "Sometimes. Yes. It was one of my favorite jobs that I've ever had."
"I'm sorry it didn't last."
"So am I."
They were quiet for a minute, watching the pots bubbling on the stove. There was so much she wanted to know about this man, but she had no idea where to start. "What were your other favorite jobs?" she finally blurted.
"Hmmm. I think the other main contender for the title of favorite would have to be the two and one half years I spent working for a research institute in Switzerland."
"Really?" that one caught her off guard. Research institute certainly wouldn't top her list of fun and exciting jobs. "What were you researching?"
"The institute as a whole focused on studying the magical flora and fauna of southeastern Europe. My particular specialty was—"
"Let me guess," she interrupted. "Dark Creatures?"
"You got it one," he said, looking at her with a boyish grin.
"So is that where you met the bloke who wrote the cave book you were reading yesterday?"
His eyes twinkled. "Ah. I see you're putting the renowned deductive reasoning skills of an Auror to use."
She rolled her eyes. "Or maybe I'm just trying to get to know you better. Ever considered that option?"
"Sorry," he said. "I'm not usually this flippant. I think Sirius's bad habits are rubbing off on me."
"S'okay once in a while. Just make sure it doesn't become a permanent state of mind," she replied, kicking his shin with her dangling foot again.
"I'll work on that," he said, swinging his leg in an attempt to kick her back that only resulted in getting his shin banged again.
"You have a distinct advantage at this kicking thing, with those stubby little legs of yours."
"Stubby!? You'll get it for that," she said, repeatedly jabbing her feet at his shins with slightly more force than absolutely necessary.
"You won't get me that easily!" he said, and started swinging his legs wildly to dodge her jabs. The pair continued to best each other in the impromptu kicking match, laughing loudly, for several minutes. Remus even managed to get in a few good jabs of his own. After his third good jab connected with her shin, she exclaimed, "Ohhh—you're asking for it now!" and started poking him in the shoulder with her finger.
"Hey! You're changing the rules," he said, grabbing at her wrist.
She evaded him, and said, "Who said there were any rules?"
They were on the verge of starting a full-fledged wrestling match when Arthur stepped out of the fire, brushing the soot from his trousers. "Hello there!" he said. "Something smells good in here."
Tonks froze, both her hands raised. Remus had his hand clamped around one of her wrists, and her other hand was aimed with finger pointed, at his forehead, where she'd been hoping to get in a good jab.
Arthur blinked a few times. "Am I interrupting something?" he asked.
Tonks quickly dropped her hands. "Oh, no. Nothing. Nothing at all."
"Tonks was just demonstrating some Muggle un-armed combat techniques for me," said Remus with a perfectly straight face.
Tonks nearly choked, holding in the laugh that sought to burst out.
Arthur's eyes lit up. "Muggle combat techniques? That sounds fascinating. Would you mind showing me some?"
Tonks cleared her throat uneasily. Remus spoke again before she even had time to think of a reply. "Dinner's almost ready, so we'd best get to that first," he said. Tonks was about to sigh in relief when he added, "but I'm sure she'd be glad to put on a demonstration for you later this evening."
"Splendid!" said Arthur, clapping his hands together enthusiastically.
Tonks glared Remus. He smiled, and winked. Just then, Molly stepped out of the fire. She looked considerably happier than she had last time Tonks saw her.
"Is that dinner?" said Molly with a hopeful smile.
"It most certainly is," said Tonks. "Apparently Remus here is some sort of domestic god. He cleans, he cooks, he tidies. There's nothing he can't do."
"Splendid! It's so nice to know I won't have to do all the work myself. Dinner smells fantastic, Remus. Thank you very much."
"It's my pleasure, Molly," said Remus. Tonks admired his tact and restraint as she sent a series of tiny kicks into the side of his leg.
"Well, let's get everyone rounded up for dinner," said Molly. "Tonks, would you help Arthur gather them all in, while Remus and I set the table?"
"No problem," said Tonks. She followed Arthur up the stairs, but before leaving the kitchen she cast one last glance over shoulder to look at Remus. She found him staring right at her, his eyes shining, a little smile on his face. She shot a little smile of her own back at him, then turned and jogged up the stairs. Yes, she thought, undeniably fanciable. I can't believe I first thought he was a five! Surely he's a seven and half. Maybe even an eight.
After a rather raucous dinner and an even more raucous cleaning-up, Tonks spent a few hours helping Sirius to entertain the Weasleys in one of the less-ghastly sitting rooms. When she was finally too exhausted to continue, she bid them all goodnight, and said that she would see herself out. Once out in the hall, however, she decided that there was one last thing that she wanted to do before heading back to her flat.
She had noticed Remus unobtrusively sneaking out of the sitting room more than a half hour ago, and she wanted to see him one last time before leaving.
The first place she decided to look was the large library she had noticed on the ground floor. And sure enough, there he was, lounging in a plush armchair, an oversized volume in his lap, and a cup of tea on the table beside him.
Tonks paused just outside the room, taking in the scene. He was intent on his massive book, and a smile danced at the corners of his mouth. Eight. Absolutely an eight. With a little smile on her own face, she continued to watch him as she lazily ambled into the library where she promptly ran into a side table and upset a vase, which shattered noisily on the floor.
"Bugger!" she exclaimed loudly.
Remus looked up in astonishment, and said, "Tonks! Are you all right?"
"Fine," she grumbled, pulling out her wand. "Reparo." she flicked her wand at the pile of shards, and watched them leap back into wholeness. Then she carefully placed the repaired vase back on the side-table, and sighed. "I'm just too worn out to pay proper attention to where I'm going. And it's all your fault, I'll have you know."
He closed his book, and raised his eyebrows. "And how is that?"
She sank into the nearest sofa, and glared at him. "Thanks to you, I just spent twenty minutes demonstrating un-armed Muggle combat techniques for Arthur."
Remus laughed. "He fell for it? I wasn't sure if he would."
"Well he did, and now my muscles are paying the price. I recruited Bill to help me, because he's seen enough Muggle movies to help me approximate Kung Fu."
"I'm sorry I missed it," he said, sounding genuine.
"I'm sure you are. You would have had a jolly time watching me make a fool of myself like that," she said.
"I'm sure Sirius can tell me all about it."
"He'll likely give you a play-by-play. He didn't stop sniggling at me the whole time." She glanced at his book. "What was so interesting that you had to sneak off and read like a hermit?"
"It's nothing. I'm just used to having more time to myself. I was starting to feel a little claustrophobic in that crowded room."
"I know what you mean." She looked at the book again. "It's far too big to be nothing. Really—what is it?"
"Shakespeare," he said, patting the large tome. "The complete works."
"Oh—getting caught up in one of the histories is it? Or do you prefer the tragedies?"
He shook his head. "I'm reading one of the comedies, actually. Much Ado about Nothing."
"I love that one!" she said, delighted. "It's so much fun to see Beatrice and Benedick acting like they can't stand each other, when deep down inside they both know they're really perfect for each other, and all they need is a little push in the right direction to realize it."
"So are you a fellow Shakespeare aficionado?" he asked, his dimples displaying themselves to great advantage.
"Oh yes. My father loves Shakespeare, and starting when I was eight, every year for my birthday he would take me to a Shakespeare production. A Muggle one, where it's just the actors speaking the words, and the rest is up to your imagination. And once school got in the way of our birthday outing, he started taking me to productions over the holidays. We almost always went to one over the Christmas break, and another two or three over the summer. And since I finished school, we still try to make it to at least two shows a year together."
"That's wonderful! I've only been to a handful of shows, myself. But I love reading the plays. I've been through them all four times now. But to see them all on stage like that—it must have been wonderful."
"It was. And it was great spending the time with my dad, as well," she said.
"I never really knew your father, in school, but I'm starting to get the feeling that I'd like him very much."
"I think you would. And I think he'd like you too."
"So, with all that theater-going, have you seen all of them?"
"No. There are five that I haven't seen yet."
She ticked them off on her fingers as she spoke. "Edward the Third, Timon of Athens, Two Noble Kinsmen, Troilus and Cressida, and King Lear."
"How can you have missed King Lear? There are productions all the time."
"I know," she shrugged. "It just somehow fell through the cracks."
"Have you read it, at least?" he seemed genuinely appalled at her lack of experience with King Lear.
"I'm afraid not," she said, shaking her head. "I've only read two of them, actually. I have trouble reading plays to myself—it's so much nicer to hear the words spoken out loud."
"Well then," he said, flipping through his large tome, "we shall have to remedy this situation at once."
He found the page that he was looking for, stood, and carried the book over to her, taking a seat beside her on the sofa. She looked down at the pages. It was open to King Lear.
"You want me to read it right now?" she asked incredulously.
"Yes. For a purported Shakespeare fan, your failure to be familiar with King Lear is an absolute travesty. And I intend to set things right. Now, let's divide up the parts."
She smiled in delight as they divided the roles between them. Remus had a pleasantly gravelly voice that sounded damn sexy reading Shakespeare. She tripped over the words for the first few pages, but soon found the rhythm of the archaic poetry. She never thought reading aloud could be this enjoyable.
Although he had wanted some time to himself, Remus was enjoying reading with Tonks quite a bit. She had a vivacious spirit that was very appealing, and she put some of that spirit into every line she read. She even started doing different voices for her various characters, so Remus started doing the same, though with considerably less success.
She seemed to be enjoying herself, but her sleepiness became increasingly evident throughout the second act. Yawns began to punctuate most of her lines. When the act was finished, Remus turned to her, and said, "I think that's enough for one night. You look exhausted."
As if to confirm his observation, she yawned again. "I am. But I really want to see what happens."
"Then we'll have to finish it some other time. You're far too tired to keep on going tonight."
She nodded. "You're right. But let's finish it soon—sometime this week, before I start to forget what happened."
"Do you have any evenings free?" he asked.
"I should be free on Wednesday."
"Well then, I'll plan on finishing the last three acts with you on Wednesday—on one condition."
"What condition?" she looked perplexed.
He knew he was taking a bit of a chance with this, but he couldn't help himself. Tonks was just such a hard, unattractive name for someone who was anything but hard and unattractive. "I'll finish this play with you on Wednesday," he said, "if you'll let me call you Nymphadora."
Her smile thinned, but she didn't look angry, thank goodness. "So we're back to this, are we?"
"It seems that we are."
"You're a damn stubborn man, Remus. Did you know that?"
"I've been told, from time to time."
She rolled her eyes, and sighed. "Fine. You can call me Nymphadora. But only when no one else is around. I don't want anyone thinking I've gone soft."
"Thank you, Nymphadora." He rolled the lovely name off his tongue. "It seems appropriate to use that name while reading Shakespeare, don't you think? It sounds like a very Shakespearian name. I can just see a little fairy Nymphadora frolicking alongside Titania and Oberon."
She smiled at him, and shook her head. "You are a very strange man, Remus Lupin."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
She yawned again. "Are you too tired to Apparate?" he asked. "You could always use the Floo."
She shook her head. "No. I'm used to Apparating when I'm tired. It's part of my job."
"It would be, wouldn't it? I'll walk you to the door, then."
When they reached the door, he undid all of the complicated locks, and let her out. She turned back to look at him.
"Goodnight, Nymphadora. I'll see you Wednesday, if not sooner."
"If not sooner."
She turned, and walked away.
As he closed and locked the door behind her, he couldn't help but reflect over the past few days. In just two short days, she's already brought so much light and cheer to this gloomy house. He hoped she would come back often, just as she had said.
He had the feeling that this was the beginning of a lovely friendship. He turned and walked happily up to his room, already looking forward to seeing her again.
A/N: This is the end of "First Impressions," but for anyone who wasn't aware, this is part of a larger fic-verse that I have been rampantly writing out of chronological order. FYI the correct chronological order of this fic-verse so far is: 1) "First Impressions" 2) "A Serious Misunderstanding" 3) "Marauders Redux" 4) "Second Thoughts". As I add to the fic-verse I will include notes with the updated chronology. Thanks again for reading!
If you review, you
too can have the treat of Remus reading Shakespeare to you in his
sexy gravelly voice. :D