Title: Operation: Touchy-Feely
Rating/Warnings: PG, none
Summary: Written for the Half Moon Rising Fic Jumble at Metamorfic Moon. My prompts were: Genre—romance; Thing—magical plant; Place—King's Cross Station; Day of Taking. This takes place in between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix. Remus thinks he is ready for a rather strange assignment, but he finds out that nothing could have prepared him for this.
Disclaimer: I own nothing!
Remus felt incredibly silly. Standing at the entrance of King's Cross Station and dressed in one of Sirius' finer suits, he fingered the soft petals of a small yellow flower. To anyone passing, he looked like a love struck idiot—which was, of course, the idea. Still, he couldn't help but think Kingsley Shacklebolt, or even Bill Weasley, would have been better for this operation than he was.
Naturally, the two had "real" jobs that they had to attend to, leaving the Order's unemployed, highly available resident werewolf ready—and grudgingly willing—to take the job.
Glancing at his watch as he made to dreamily sniff his flower, he saw that it was twenty till ten. They had a good half hour until their mission officially began, but he'd asked his partner to arrive early so that they could purchase their tickets—and to step into their characters.
He wasn't sure if she'd be late or not; he'd never really had a mission with her before. He knew that she was at least ten years his junior and definitely acted it—if not younger. The getups she wore! He shook his head, thinking of the wild, childish outfit she had worn at the last meeting. Who would wear such garish clothes to an Order meeting?
And her laugh! Remus tried not to laugh himself when he thought of her loud, obnoxious laughter that quickly turned into snorting just as quickly as her cheeks turned bright pink. He didn't normally think badly of a comrade— i and I don't think badly of her /i , he reminded himself. He certainly hadn't taken her for an incompetent witch; he was certain she was fully capable for the mission.
But she really could be annoying; even Molly Weasley thought so, and it was rather difficult to get on the matriarch's bad side, no matter what anyone said. She had a house full of rowdy red-haired boys; if she couldn't tolerate someone, then who could?
Where on earth was the witch, anyhow? They had just discussed their plan the night before in detail. Knowing they had to pose as a couple, Remus wasn't about to make a big scene out of it—and he knew he'd have to tell her beforehand. He knew she liked loud music and going out dancing; he had no idea how much attention she liked to draw to herself, but he guessed that it was much more than he'd like.
She had agreed to all of his plans amicably enough, but now he began to doubt if she'd adhere to them, as she was late already.
As if on cue, a feminine voice rang out from the station entrance. Horrified at her calling attention to them, Remus quickly walked toward her to remind her of their plans at keeping it very low-key.
Her heels clicked across the floor as she made her way to him, and as a familiar heart-shaped face peeked at him from beneath a mass of windswept, soft blond hair, his heart skipped a beat.
It wasn't Hestia Jones.
It was Nymphadora Tonks.
Feeling his heart thudding against his ribcage, he barely managed to catch her as she tripped over her own feet. "Oh, how I've missed you!" she cried, wrapping her arms soundly around him.
Remus tried to speak but between his surprise, his pounding chest, and her squeezing the very air from his lungs, it was a wonder he was even still alive, let alone make a sound. He coughed and she pulled back, sliding her hands down his arms seductively. Finally, as she took his hands, she swung his arms lightly and gazed into his face adoringly. If he hadn't known better, he would have kissed her, or taken her back to his flat, or asked her for a date—or whatever one did with the person one was enamored with these days.
"Ah, my dear," he managed, trying to gaze back at her without giving himself away. "Where is, ah, where's Hestia?"
Tonks grinned at him. "Oh, my sister couldn't make it, love. Looks like it'll be just the two of us."
He felt dizzy.
"Ah, that's—that's too bad," Remus stammered. Now what?
As it was, all he could do was simply gawk at her. Clandestine affair, indeed; she had taken the instructions Hestia had apparently given her for their "romantic" encounter to an extreme. Long, satiny white gloves adorned her hands and forearms, and she was dressed in a short but smart dress that came to her mid-thigh in a deep shade of purple. Black stilettos — i suicide, he thought ruefully /i — completed her ensemble.
She looked like she'd stepped right out of the pages of a romance novel. She looked… very nice.
i Sexy /i . She looked sexy.
Remus gave himself a little shake when he noticed her eyes taking him in rather widely. A slow smile formed over her face, and either she'd just morphed herself some rouge or she was blushing.
"Thanks," she said throatily. "You, um, you clean up pretty well yourself."
Humiliated, Remus realized he'd said the words aloud. Realizing that it was okay to say such a thing when they were supposed to acting as if they were lovers, he suddenly brightened. Wondering how far he could go with this charade, he felt a ripple of giddiness slide up his stomach as he bent to kiss her hand.
"I've been counting the days until I could see you again, my dear," he said, his eyes twinkling.
Tonks stumbled a bit, but righted herself quickly and asked, "For me?"
He lifted the yellow flower—an i acquiramarantus /i —from his breast pocket and gallantly offered it to her. "But of course."
Draping his arm around her shoulders, he said, "Shall we?"
Leaning into him—possibly for support in those ridiculously high heels, he mused—Tonks slid her arm around his back.
Gooseflesh erupted over his skin and he couldn't stop the soft gasp from escaping his lips. Even with the heels on, Tonks was still a good five inches shorter than he was, and her soft hair grazed his cheek as they walked.
"His train leaves at ten fifteen," he murmured, referring to their target. He bent his head as if to whisper sweet nothings in her ear. "He takes the same train every day."
She giggled as if he'd said something incredibly charming and swatted his arm. As he purchased their tickets, she wrapped both arms around his waist and twirled a bit, as if she couldn't help but touch him. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up straight as if he'd been shocked. How on earth were they going to get through this mission?
"Remus," she crooned, and hearing his name on her lips like that made his throat so dry that he could only nod at her. She crooked her finger at him, beckoning him closer, and his stomach lurched. He pocketed their tickets and leaned forward.
"Yes, love?" he managed, bending his ear to hear her whisper.
"Hestia got caught up at work and sent her Patronus to see if I could cover. I had just finished a refresher course at work so it was no problem."
She paused. "Now laugh like I just said I couldn't wait to get you in my bed or something," she breathed into his ear.
Lifting his head quickly, he forced himself to chuckle when all he wanted to do was grab her and snog her senseless.
i What on earth is wrong with me? /i He'd been worried about Hestia acting juvenile and ruining their mission when he was the one acting like a bashful, oversexed adolescent!
She was staring at him expectantly, so he said the first thing that came to mind. "Oh, the feeling's mutual, you naughty girl."
They both were gaping now—she at his uncharacteristic statement, and he at his own audacity.
She was the first to recover. "Mmm, Remus, let's get on board!" she said, wrapping an arm around him. "If we stay here and start snogging in public, we'll never leave."
While her eyes twinkled lightly, he couldn't help but wonder at how easily she flirted with him. Did she normally do this on covert missions? Did she do this with Kingsley?
Frowning, he pulled her tightly against his side as they got on board.
"Something wrong, my love?" she asked, quirking an eyebrow at him.
"Trains are very crowded, my dear. I wouldn't want to lose you." She gave him a look that said she knew he was lying through is teeth, but took his arm anyhow.
He nodded toward the end of the car, where their target was sitting. A business man with a no-nonsense face, it wasn't easy to see that the man was a squib. He sat first, taking the seat directly behind the man—to where they were back-to-back—and she squeezed in, cozying up to him, though there was plenty of room in the seat. She nearly purred against him, crossing her legs provocatively, and he nearly forgot what they were supposed to be doing.
Remus glanced behind them and saw that the target had opened a Muggle newspaper and was reading it, occasionally clearing his throat.
The Order had had their eyes on this man for weeks; it looked as if Lucius Malfoy was paying the man for something, but there was no way to tell what for. Their mission was simple: to set him up for tracking. That was where the i acquiramarantus /i came in.
They couldn't just shake the pollen onto the man; they had to surreptitiously get it onto him so that he wouldn't notice. The pollen was crucial; it would make the man traceable wherever he went for at least two days—at most, four. This would allow Mad-Eye—who could obviously not approach the man to plant the pollen himself—to track him easily, and hopefully manage to not only gain vital knowledge of Death Eater plans but also potentially catch them in action.
The plan was for Tonks—well, Hestia, really—to simply lean over and wave the flower romantically in the air as its pollen fell onto their target; however, a sinking feeling hit Remus when he realized that Tonks, while competent and capable, was not nearly as graceful as Hestia.
How in the name of Merlin were they going to pull this off?
Tonks would end up in the man's lap for sure! Thinking quickly, Remus decided that the best course would be for him to hold the flower himself and casually dust it across the man's hair. The problem was, he'd given it to Tonks already; why would a lover ask for their flower back.
"Dear," he started, "ah, would you--"
But Tonks had other plans. "Oh, darling, would you mind keeping our seat warm while I went to the loo?" She batted her lashes at him so convincingly that he thought he'd agree if she asked if he could transform in front of the entire Order during the next full moon, naked, and perform dog tricks.
Before he could respond, she had already gotten up to use the loo, passing their target. Remus could see the man watch her hips sway and he felt his face grow hot.
Surprisingly, the man turned around to face Remus.
Remus sat still, beginning to feel panic coming on. Their cover had been blown.
"Quite a dish there, mate," the man leered.
Remus' jaw dropped.
Their cover hadn't been blown after all.
He mustered a foolish grin, unsure of what to say.
"Too bad she's taken. Bloke like you with a girl like that—how'd you pull it off, mate? You must make a good living, he?" He nudged Remus and winked, as if they'd just become best friends.
Remus swallowed hard. The man had voiced the very things that had kept him from asking the young Auror—whom he'd become smitten within five minutes of being in her presence—for a date himself.
Shrugging, Remus tried to offer a hearty laugh that ended up sounding more like a coughing fit.
Before he could say anything, Tonks had reappeared, looking at him with a dreamy expression on her face. As she made her way down the aisle, she kept her eyes on his face, and suddenly he knew what she was going to do.
Remus started to protest, but he was too late; the Auror tripped on those ridiculous heels and landed herself in the man's lap, flapping her arms and hands—one of which still held the i acquiramarantus /i tightly—in the air as if they would somehow keep her upright.
"Oh, I i do /i beg your pardon," Tonks said as the flower dusted the entire top of the man's head with pollen. Her voice was nothing like the apologies she'd mustered when she tripped around Remus; it was seductive, silky, and his insides roared at it.
For the first time, Remus noticed how handsome the man was—much younger and much better-looking than Remus was. His chiseled jaw and jet-black hair would have likely led to his taking the cover of i Witch Weekly /i , had he been a complete Wizard.
"Not at all, love," the man said, his tone completely predatory. He slid his hand up to grab Tonks' arm and pulled the i acquiramarantus /i down to his face, inhaling its scent deeply.
As angry as Remus felt, he almost laughed. If Tonks hadn't gotten enough pollen in the man's scalp, there was now plenty in his face—and in his nose itself. Their mission was virtually complete.
But Tonks was still in the man's lap and Remus began to feel very predatory himself—and it was nowhere near his time of the month.
Remus watched, appalled, as the man whispered to her, loudly, "Here's my number if you want a taste of a man with money and looks." He passed Tonks a slip of paper—likely a Muggle business card—and she actually i giggled /i at him as she slid off his lap.
When she slipped in next to Remus again, he couldn't bring himself to look at her. The man was now humming, apparently very happy with himself—just as Remus should have been. After all, their mission was accomplished, right?
He sulked for another ten minutes before turning his head to look at Tonks, and what he saw instantly took his jealousy away. She was positively fuming. She was muttering silently to herself, her arms crossed, and he was horrified to see that her hair had started to turn red.
He nudged her. "Sweetie, are you okay? I know you get, ah, motion sickness sometimes."
She looked at him and he mouthed, "Your hair," glancing up at the top of her head.
Her mouth formed a perfect "O" and she immediately took a deep breath, but the red streaks hadn't disappeared.
"Oh, look, it's our stop," she said brightly. They were supposed to ride for at least another hour to maintain their cover, but if they stuck around much longer they'd surely give themselves away—or at least, Tonks' hair would.
As they got off the train, Remus breathed a sigh of relief. Their target had apparently lost interest in his "girlfriend"—the idea made Remus hot again, but not with anger—and they were safely within the station when he asked her, "What happened?"
Tonks wildly shook her head. "The bastard had the nerve to pinch my bum! And all that rubbish about a man with money and looks—what an utter i shit /i !" When she turned her wide eyes to him, he could see that they, too, had turned red.
"Well done, Tonks. Moody will likely have more than two days to follow him." Remus hoped to assuage her anger.
"The nerve of that man!" she fumed. "I can date who I damn well want to date, and to judge me like that—to judge i you /i like that, Remus, it just--" She abruptly broke off, staring off into space.
"Well, we had better get back to Grimmauld," Remus said pragmatically, feeling rather pleased that it had all been an act on her part. "Thanks for filling in for Hestia, Tonks. I think you were better for this assignment in the end, anyhow."
Tonks cocked her head to the side. "Thanks, Remus."
"I'm sure you get loads of practice acting at work, what with your skills and all. You really fooled that squib." Remus was suddenly uncomfortable, realizing that she had acted very well with him, too.
As they made their way out of the station to an Apparition point, Tonks smiled at him. "That's really nice of you to say."
"And with me, of course," he went on, wondering why in Merlin's name he wouldn't just stop talking. "Anyone who was around us would have had no doubt that we were a couple, no matter how unlikely a couple we were."
Something crossed Tonks' face, a ripple of understanding, and she slowly smiled. "Who says I was acting with you?"
Remus stood still, eyes wide. Her eyes were warm as she leaned over and took him completely by surprise, giving him a soft kiss on his cheek. "See you at Grimmauld." With that, she Apparated, and, after a full minute of dizzy, grinning befuddlement, Remus took the hint and followed.