Disclaimer: Not JK Rowling, ergo anything you recognise from the wonderful world of Harry Potter is hers and not mine.

A/N: This is a prequel to The Werewolf Who Stole Christmas, which was originally written for the MetamorficMoon Fic Advent on Live Journal, where I was given the prompts tinsel and cobbles. Enjoy!

Christmas presents had always been a tricky thing for Remus.

At Hogwarts, Sirius had always had money for stunning gifts. Despite his strained relationship with his family, his parents had always made sure he had galleons to spare for expensive gifts for his friends – wanting him to keep up appearances – and James had had likewise amounts, although for very different reasons. Even Peter had normally forked out more than he could afford at Christmas time, and Remus had wondered, often, if Peter feared the others wouldn't like him if he didn't keep up, when really it wasn't like that at all.

He'd never had their money, but Remus had never felt lesser because of it. He'd always come up with things that he thought people would like – things that only he would think to get for them. Around July he'd start making mental notes on trips to Hogsmeade of who had said they liked what in Zonko's, of whose eyes had lit up at the thought of Droobles bubblegum in exotic flavours or a new kind of bon bon, and he'd often come up with spells for people as gifts, or tricks he knew his friends would like that involved the investment of time and effort over money.

He'd never felt that that wasn't enough, until now.

He stood, staring into the window of the jeweller's, squinting at the selection of trinkets nestled on impeccable blue velvet and wondering why the coins in his pocket felt so heavy, and yet so light and insubstantial as he gazed at the price tags.

He'd always loved Hogsmeade in winter – the leafless trees were bare and black against the twilight sky, but sparkled with frost, looking far too magical to be real, though he knew they were, and the cobbled streets, peppered with fresh snowfall, and white-topped houses and shops looked idyllic, straight off the front of a Muggle Christmas card. All the scene around him did now, though, was whisper a cold reminder of how few days there were until Christmas, how little time he had to find the perfect thing, the perfect gift that would let Tonks know – subtly, but undoubtedly – what he felt.

He'd been standing there on the cobbles for so long that his feet were numb and he couldn't feel his toes any more. And still, he hadn't decided.

There was a broach he could afford….

But it was too old fashioned, too plain, too… something.

Fleetingly he thought that maybe he should go with Molly's idea of writing her some poetry instead, but quickly discarded the idea, because it really was beyond him to come up with anything that rhymed with 'Tonks' that set the necessary romantic tone. He shifted on his frozen feet, moved a little further down the display, hoping that his eyes would fix on something that hadn't been there a minute ago – the perfect pair of earrings, the perfect bracelet, the perfect something….


Remus jumped.

He clutched at his chest, skidded a little on the frosty cobbles as he landed, and two dark, sparkling eyes met his.

Tonks was grinning at him, peering out from beneath a green bobble hat and above a thick knit scarf in the same colour, her nose as pink as the hair that peeked from beneath the brim of her hat. "Christmas shopping?" she said.

"Hmm," he murmured, his heart pounding with surprise, and something else entirely.

"Seen anything you like?" she asked brightly. "You've been standing there for ages. I could see you from right up the hill."

Embarrassed, Remus shifted on the cobbles again and cleared his throat. Of all the people who could have caught him staring into the jeweller's window…. "No," he said, sounding far calmer than he felt, "not yet."

"I'm rubbish with shopping," Tonks said, frowning at the thought. "Never know what to get people."

"No?" he said, even though he was sure anyone would love anything she bought them, simply because it was from her.

"I think I have a couple of girl genes missing," she said, rubbing her hands together, "the one for shopping and the one for tidying things up without causing a hurricane."

Remus chuckled, and his breath formed a tiny blue cloud and floated towards her. Tonks made a similar cloud in return, and for a moment, they shared a smile, breath mingling, eyes locked, unwavering, speaking something which he couldn't quite make out –

Or could, but wasn't certain of.

Sometimes, when they'd chatted late at night, or been stuck on a mission somewhere, he'd thought that maybe she was flirting with him – sitting a little closer than a friend would, allowing her hand to brush his when she passed him a mug of tea or offered him a biscuit. Sometimes he thought it was just wishful thinking on his part, that there was no way someone like Tonks would be interested in a pathetic moping tosser like him, but those doubts only lasted until he saw her again, and she'd stumble over her own feet when she saw him, or her eyes would be brighter when they fixed on him, or she'd sit a little closer than was purely friendly, and he'd think then that it wasn't wishful thinking at all, but something he could actually make happen.

If he had the nerve.

If he could find the perfect present.

If he didn't freeze to death before he picked something.

He wanted to get her something that spoke of intent, something that spoke of more than late night cocoa and friendly chats, something that might actually mean something to her, but whenever he'd tried to get a hint out of her on the subject of what she hoped Santa might bring her, she'd been deftly evasive on the subject, claiming that she'd be happy with a satsuma and a sugar mouse in her stocking, neither of which he felt struck a significantly romantic note.

Tonks nodded in the vague direction of the window. "Looking for anything in particular?" she said. "I'm rubbish, but if you wanted a second opinion..?"

"Oh," Remus said, trying not to seem too startled at the suggestion. "Erm – yes. I was thinking possibly about the charm bracelet?"

"Is it for some kind of bald nudist?" she said, and he laughed and shook his head, a little bewildered about what kind of friends she thought he must keep. "I'd steer clear then."


"Could just be me," she said, "but I always get the charms stuck in my hair or on my sleeves and stuff."

"Oh. Thanks," he said, crossing that possibility off his mental list. "Or I thought earrings, but…." He trailed off into a shrug, and gestured at the window display. "Honestly I haven't a clue," he said.

Tonks smiled at him briefly and then stepped forward, pressing her forehead to the glass and peering in, her breath turning the glass opaque. She considered the selection for a moment, pressing her lips together in thought as her eyes roamed the display of gems in every colour, necklaces in every style, rings of every size and shape imaginable. "Antique pink sapphire ring's nice," she said. "Have you got nine hundred galleons?"

She met his eye, grinning cheekily, and he shook his head. "Maybe I should go back to Grimmauld and have a look down the back of the sofa," he said.

"I wouldn't do that," she said, with great mock seriousness. "There's all sorts nesting in there. You'd probably lose a finger."

"Hmm," he murmured, delighting in the way her mock serious face slowly gave way to a smile he would have thought shy, were shy not a word he couldn't quite think to apply to Tonks.

"Who you shopping for, anyway?" she said, raising her eyebrows at him.

"My mother," he said, a little surprised how quickly and easily the lie had come.

"Oh," she said, her eyebrows darting up in surprise. "I didn't know you had a mother."

He'd barely registered her conversational stumble when Tonks winced, her cheeks turning even pinker than they were already from the cold and drawing even more attention to what she'd just said. "I mean – obviously you've got one, because, you know, everyone has," she said quickly, rolling her eyes in annoyance at herself that he couldn't help but find desperately endearing. "I just – you hadn't mentioned her."

"For a moment there," he said, leaning towards her ever so slightly and tilting his chin so he could peer up at her through the bottom of his fringe, "I thought I was going to have to take you to one side and shatter your illusion about babies coming from cabbage patches," he said, and she laughed.

"You mean they don't?" she said, widening her eyes in mock-shock that was really very convincing.

"No," he said. "You see, Tonks, when two people love each other very much – "

She chuckled and gave him an admonishing shove, but in doing so lost her footing on the icy cobbles and slipped, her hips shooting backwards and her head forwards, coming perilously close to banging against his chest. His hands darted forward of their own accord, gripping her arms and arresting her progress, holding her still, steady, safe. Her startled expression gave way to something that looked like relief but he wasn't sure was, and she met his eye with a cautious hopefulness that twisted his insides.

And for a moment that felt like eternity, they just looked at each other.

She bit her lip.

His heart raced.

He thanked his lucky stars for icy cobbles.

"Thanks," she said, and her voice was wonderfully, delightfully, breathy.

"All right?" he asked, righting her and then slowly, reluctantly, releasing her arms.

She swallowed, and then nodded, and Remus wondered if this was the time, the moment, to tell her that he liked her; liked her as more than a friend, a colleague, someone to have a laugh with, to tell her that if she wanted him to, he'd always be there to catch her when icy cobbles got the better of her.

She smiled, and he couldn't remember quite what he'd been thinking. "The broach is nice," she said, turning back to the window. "It'd go nicely with scarves and things. It'd suit her if she's got your colouring."

"I thought you said you had girl genes missing?" he said softly.

She let out a soft breath of laughter and it seemed to banish the last vestiges of cold from his body. "Maybe I've got that one," she said and the twinkle in her eyes as she met his made his breathing seem far too loud and obvious.

The clock in the Post Office tower struck, and Tonks started. "Merlin, I'm late," she said, pulling her hat further down over her ears. "I'm meeting a friend in the Three Broomsticks," she added, smiling apologetically as she gestured down the road to the pub, "otherwise I'd stay and help you choose."

"Maybe another time?" he said. "Still a couple of shopping days before Christmas."

"Hmm," Tonks said, smiling at him in a way that made his insides tingle with hope and expectation. "I'm sure we'll – you know – see each other around."

He nodded, he hoped with understated enthusiasm for the idea – which was difficult when on the inside he was leaping in the air and clicking his heels together. "Well, I'd better go," she said.

"Of course."

She bid him a cheerful goodbye, and then walked away across the cobbles and down towards the Three Broomsticks, leaving Remus unable to feel his feet, but keenly aware of the blood in his veins, his pounding heart, and the twist in his stomach.

A/N: Happy New Year! Hope you all had a suitable festive festive season.

Reviewers get a festive bribe in the form of a perfectly chosen Christmas pressie from your favourite fanfic Remus: Thoughtful Remus makes you a personalised WWN broadcast with all your favourite tunes; Romantic Remus takes you on a frosty stroll at night, star-gazing; Flirty Remus makes you mulled cider and peers at you suggestively through his fringe; and Sexy Remus provides chocolates and mistletoe ;)

Incidentally, this is a 3-parter, and I aim to have the other two up this week. Cheers!