Disclaimer: Not JK Rowling, not even a little bit – so full credit to her for anything you recognise.
Note: Originally written for rt challenge on Live Journal, for the prompt "I
modelled my looks on the town tramp," by Dolly Parton
Anyone who gets all the Dolly references gets a big kiss ;).
Remus stood in front of the wardrobe, taking in holey jumpers in grey, grey and more grey – the occasional brown-y grey – trousers to match, and shirts with frayed cuffs in a range of used-to-be-whites.
He sighed. He couldn't for a moment imagine why Tonks would want to go out for a drink with someone so –
He searched for the word. There were a lot of words he could think of that concerned why she wouldn't want to go out with him, but at the moment, the most prevalent and important seemed drab.
She was a peacock – except, he thought, that female peacocks were the drab ones – he pushed naturalist accuracy aside for the sake of his metaphor – she was proud, and bold, and bright, and next to her he felt as if he'd already been dead for a couple of decades.
He ran a hand through his hair, glancing in the mirror.
Why on earth did she..?
But she had asked him.
It wasn't that he hadn't wanted to ask her. He just hadn't had the opportunity.
Well, he thought, if he was honest, he hadn't lacked opportunity – they'd seen each other nearly every day for the past two months, and on a number of occasions they'd been alone all night and had dragged out saying goodbye to each other for so long that it had been nearly morning when they'd parted.
So he'd not wanted for opportunity. What he'd lacked was nerve.
He'd kidded himself that he was out of practice, that the thing giving him pause was that all of this felt so unfamiliar, but that wasn't it at all. It wasn't as if he hadn't spoken to people – girls, even – in the last few years – it hadn't been so long that he'd forgotten how to do it.
The thing that had stopped him was – how could he ask her? How could he presume – however close she sat and however much she smiled at him and however much he wanted to believe that it was what she was hinting at – to even suggest that this was something she might be thinking about? That he – being with him – was something that she wanted?
He couldn't help feeling that it would almost have been an insult to presume that.
And so when she'd said 'do you have any plans for Friday? Fancy going out for a drink, or something?' he'd just stared at her blankly for a moment.
And then, of course, she'd got all flustered and apologised half a dozen times, and he'd had to leap in and tell her that he'd love to, he was just surprised – and she'd given him that smile, that smile he'd never seen her give to anyone else, that was just a bit coy, and utterly enticing.
All of which had lead to his sartorial dilemma.
His eyes raked over the selection of clothes in front of him again, but on reflection, he supposed that those nights when they had sat close, and talked about their lives, and flirted, just a little bit, that he'd looked exactly as he looked now – and she hadn't seemed to mind.
He decided to stay as he was.
He thought about grabbing his long, shabby overcoat, but he thought it made him look a touch too much like a vagrant, and if it came to it, he'd rather be cold.
He checked the time, wondering if ten minutes was long enough to lie convincingly to Sirius about where he was going, hide all the booze, and Apparate to her place.
It turned out not to be, and so he settled for a semi-convincing lie about needing some fresh air, hiding some of the booze, and Apparating to her place.
He stood, shivering, on her doorstep, waiting for her to answer his knock.
She did, with a grin, and he glanced down at her outfit, hoping that they wouldn't look too out of place together. He took in a short denim skirt, frayed around the hem, footless tights, a tight T shirt that had four blokes he was pretty certain were so famous he should know their names pictured against a wall on the front, and a black cardigan with pulled gold threads running through it. It was obvious she'd made an effort – no-one chased after Dark Wizards in a denim mini-skirt, and yet there was something reassuringly scruffy about her, too, as if she was just like him – a little frayed around the edges.
"Wotcher," she said, her gaze trailing down from his face. "You look nice."
"Thanks," he replied, raising an eyebrow at her when she met his eye. "I modelled my looks on the town tramp. You know the fellow – sleeps in the park, smells inexplicably of cabbage."
She laughed, and then fixed him with an expression that told him not to be daft. He suppressed a smile. "You look – lovely," he said, and it took him no effort to be sincere, because she did. She always did, at least to him.
"Thanks," she said, biting back a smile with some apparent difficulty. "It takes a lot of money to look this cheap."
She met his eye cheekily, and he smiled. "Big Dolly Parton fan?" he asked.
"The biggest," she said, her grin widening, eyes twinkling. "If you ask me, she's the most underrated female Muggle songwriter of all time."
"Really?" he said, raising his eyebrows at her.
"You don't agree?"
"I'd have said Carole King, but – "
"Oh yes," she said, cutting him off. "Sirius warned me earlier that you've got shamefully crap taste in music."
Remus sniggered, thinking that he should have known when Sirius accepted his semi-convincing lie with little more than a smirk that there was something afoot. "Did he now?" he said quietly, to himself.
"He said I shouldn't let you corner me and talk my ear off about Joni bleeding Mitchell."
"Well I'll try my hardest," he said. He leaned towards her a bit and peered at her through the ends of his fringe. "I make no promises, though. Once I've had a couple of drinks, I do tend to like to burst into song and my love of Joni bleeding Mitchell really knows no bounds." She laughed, and he nodded towards the street, raising an eyebrow in question. "Shall we?"
In answer, she stepped closer, reaching for his hand as she closed the door behind her. "As long as you steer clear of Big Yellow Taxi," she said, sliding her fingers between his, "we'll be fine."
Later, when their clothes lay in a tangled pile on the floor in his bedroom, and Tonks was asleep with her head on his shoulder and the faintest hint of a very flattering smile on her lips, Remus couldn't help thinking that they didn't look that odd together at all, his shabby used-to-be-whites, and her artfully faded denim.
He thanked his lucky stars for Dolly Parton, and for the fact that Tonks didn't think he looked a tramp any more than he thought she looked – or was – cheap.
He thanked his lucky stars, too, for the pub she'd chosen, which was shabby enough that he could afford it and full of enough young girls with outrageous hair and older, scruffy-looking men that they didn't stand out at all, and he especially thanked which ever celestial bodies were concerned for convenient walls outside pubs, which should have been grotty, but under the stars and with a chill wind nipping at their skin felt romantic enough a place for him to take her face in his hands and kiss her.
Of course he knew that if he'd had a time turner and the pick of the whole of history he could scarcely have picked a worse time to fall in love. The world was going to hell around them, its salvation in the hands of a bunch of badly-dressed witches and wizards and a schoolboy, and they were both on the front line, with greater, grander, things to think about than each other. He knew that if they weren't careful, they'd both get swallowed by the flood – but he wondered if that's why they needed this so much.
Islands in the stream, he thought, with a smile. That's what we are.