Format and Word Count: Fic, 7083 words
Ratings & Warnings: PG-13 for "drug" use
Prompts: Euphoria Elixir; Mad-Eye; Sing; Romantic Comedy
Summary: "Everything made sense now, and Remus wondered why he had waited so long to fall into this perfect logic." Accidental Euphoria Elixir ingestion and intentional singing bring Remus and Tonks together at last. R/T one shot.
Author's Notes: This was written for the LJ community MetamorFic Moon for their Lovers' Moon fic jumble. It began as a piece I began long ago as a short little one-shot, but without the prompts, of course. And I couldn't seem to get it off the ground. The prompts I received worked perfectly, and actually made the fic work at last!
" … and, of course, I'd recommend a disguise," instructed Moody, continuing a rant that had been going on for about five minutes, a rant during which Remus and Tonks had done nothing but nod and agree. "I'd go myself, but I don't blend in too well anymore with the young folk."
Or with any folk, thought Remus as an unconscious grin slid up his face. He liked Mad-Eye, but the man didn't exactly look like the next door neighbor. Moody's magical eye rolled toward him then, giving Remus the distinct impression that he'd just read his mind. He leaned against the library desk and spoke quickly to cover his smile. "Why doesn't Kingsley go? He's younger. He might blend in better than – "
"Nope, you're not getting out of this one, Remus," interjected Tonks. "It's Valentine's Day, I've got to work, and so do you. And, like it or not, you're my date."
The cheeky look she threw him was nearly enough to knock Remus off his proverbial plate. But Remus knew he shouldn't compromise the mission just because he'd do anything to spend an evening with Tonks. Alone. The two of them. At a party. What would they talk about? He was bound to make a spectacular fool of himself. Suddenly all his knowledge and wit seemed to flutter away like birds chased from a puddle of water. Merlin, he had to get out of this, and fast. Sirius had long ago dubbed Remus the Duke of Dodging, and now he called on all the old expertise that had earned him that title.
"All I'm saying is that a person in his thirties might draw a little more attention than someone like – "
"You think Kingsley wouldn't draw even more attention? Are we talking about the same man?" Tonks crossed her arms and smirked as Remus shut his open mouth. "Statuesque is the word Emmaline uses when she describes him. He looks like a pirate, that one does."
"The girl's got a point, Lupin," offered Moody. "You're under the radar."
Tonks smiled at him, and suddenly Remus thought that under the radar was an excellent place to be. He immediately discarded the idea of dodging her. How was it that merely being in her presence made him feel good, no matter what sort of day he'd had? How did she make him feel as though he was … well, with her, he almost felt as though – "Very well," he said, cutting short his own meditations. It would do no good to dwell there. "But – "
"Good," interrupted Moody, and the matter was decided. He went on to explain what they would be looking for at this party. The Order had gotten word that there were illicit potions there, possibly being sold to underage witches and wizards by a member of the Death Eaters as a way to subtly gain control over them via addiction. Or to get rid of them by "accidental" overdosing if they didn't cooperate. Specifically, Moody had heard that the psychotropic and very dangerous Witch's Brew might be there. There had been seven deaths in the area from overdoses in the past six months, so circulation was clearly on the rise; and, according to Moody, the circumstances of the deaths were suspicious, at best.
Remus sighed and looked at Tonks, and he felt a jolt as he realized she had been watching him during Moody's words of warning. Her eyes quickly darted back to Moody, and Remus felt his face warm. It was Valentine's Day, and he hadn't had the courage to ask her out … even though he'd seen an undeniable something in her expression for weeks now telling him that she might be receptive to such a suggestion. Their easy banter now contained an element of danger that he rather liked and was now afraid to lose. And besides, inertia was a powerful force, and he couldn't seem to push past it.
After their final briefings and a reminder of a certain revealing spell from Moody, together they Apparated from the alley behind Grimmauld Place to the street corner where the house in question sat.
"You can't go in like that," Tonks insisted as they walked toward the side of the house to peer into the basement window.
"Why not?" asked Remus.
Tonks tilted her head down and peered up at him from underneath an arched eyebrow. How had he not noticed how delicately her eyebrows arched before? Snap out of it, man, he told himself. He cleared his throat and squatted down to look through the grimy basement window at the young people inside. "All right, so no one is wearing a jacket and tie."
"A tie?" Tonks laughed, a deep, throaty chuckle that he could almost feel in his own breastbone, they were crouching so closely together. "I'd be surprised if half the people in there were wearing undergarments."
Remus, thinking of Tonks sans knickers, felt himself blush. He spoke to distract himself. "It's only ten o'clock. Isn't it a bit early to be, erm, clubbing? That is what they call it nowadays, isn't it?" Why did he always feel the need to point up their differences in age? He wasn't that much older, after all. And yet, his foot seemed to want to live in his mouth lately. Ah, well. All the better to avoid kissing her.
"Yeah, it's early to be clubbing if you're going out tonight. I think this is a rave left over from last night."
Remus blinked as her generous grin somehow forced a smile out of him.
"Come on," Tonks chuckled. "Let me pick out something for you to wear. Much as I like that jumper, it'll go nowhere fast in there."
"Is it really necessary?" he said, fingering the brown wool protectively, playing the role of the quiet, stodgy old fellow while he fairly itched for her to take the jumper off him by force.
"I'll do it with or without your permission. I'd recommend with." There went that eyebrow again.
"Will it hurt?" he asked, putting a little petulance in his voice for her benefit.
"Only your pride," she smiled.
They stood up and Tonks flicked her wand, dressing Remus in tattered blue jeans, a snug olive green tee shirt, a wide black leather belt, a chocolate brown velvet jacket, and black trainers. He felt with satisfaction that she'd managed to keep the contents of his pockets intact.
"Wow," said Remus, extending his arms for a better look.
Tonks' eyes widened, her gaze centered somewhere on Remus' torso. "Wow," she echoed, cheeks flushing.
"Do I pass?" he asked. Why is she blushing?
She tapped her wand against one cheek in consideration. "Let's try … " She flicked her wand again and suddenly Remus' hair felt different. He touched it and it was stiff. "Hair product," she explained. "You look like Myron Wagtail. Only better."
"Somehow I doubt – " Wait. Better?
"Hold on." Another wave of her wand and he was wearing several bracelets made out of string, a silver colored ring on his left pinky, and a woven necklace that had some sort of stone hanging from it.
"Okay, okay, that's enough," he laughed. "Merlin's beard, I wish I could see myself."
"You look – " Tonks stopped abruptly and smiled. "Well, you always look – " She halted again.
"What?" His heart began to palpitate.
She spoke rapidly as she began walking toward the small door at the side of the house. "You'll pass. Let's get in there."
They stood side by side in front of the door and suddenly Tonks laced her fingers through his. He looked at her abruptly. She smiled apologetically and blushed, possibly thinking she had shocked him. Little did she know that his hand was indeed tingling at her touch, his fingers practically vibrating. How was he supposed to keep a clear head with those sensations humming through his body?
The loud music that greeted them when the door opened would have made Remus' hair stand on end if it hadn't already been spiked with Tonks' hair goo.
"Yeah, what?" A short, dark-haired, scruffy-faced bloke wearing nothing but white pajama bottoms with red hearts on them and an open ski jacket answered their knock. His eyes were red and he held a bottle of firewhiskey in one dangling hand. He appeared to have some sort of oblong backpack slung across his shoulder.
Tonks barged past the kid, dragging Remus by the hand and trumpeting out, "Fenwick!?"
"Hang on, now," Ski Jacket sputtered ineffectually as Remus bumped into his scrawny shoulder on the way in. He noted with interest that the "backpack" was, strangely, a quiver, missing all the arrows. Remus smirked as he considered whether this surly-looking fellow might have decided, in a fit of drunken brilliance, to play Cupid tonight, on Valentine's Day. He'd probably given up the role hours ago and simply forgotten to take off the costume.
"Not here, the bastard," Tonks sighed.
"Then we wait until he shows up," Remus responded, immediately taking on her tone of indifferent bluster.
They weren't here for "Fenwick," or for anyone else in particular; but it was a smart trick for getting in the door. Judging by the number of young people passed out in the basement, Mad-Eye could be right: there could be Witch's Brew in circulation here. Or the kids might just be drunk. They'd have to investigate the beverages in order to be certain.
The two plopped down onto a sagging green sofa. Ski Jacket eyed them warily for a moment, then turned and shuffled off to his seat at a makeshift poker table with four other rather large and wired-looking fellows; and, yes, cast aside on the floor there was the bow that went with the quiver. Remus glanced about the rest of the room. Young witches and wizards danced to electronic music under an old disco ball that hung from the low ceiling. Several couples were kissing and groping as they danced; others had found chairs and sofas and darkened corners in which they teasingly explored each other's mouths and bodies to the extent that they dared in public. A number of people were engaged in deep conversation. There were more than a few sleeping or unconscious people scattered here and there on rugs and old pieces of furniture, propped up in casual disarray as if placed there by some experimental performance artist. Most, except for the blokes at the poker table, ignored Remus and Tonks.
Remus continued to take in the large basement while Tonks Summoned a bottle of firewhiskey from the clutches of a girl who had passed out next to an old radiator. He drew his wand and cast a surreptitious charm on the firewhiskey and found that there was no Witch's Brew in that particular bottle. He then cast a spell to remove the alcohol so they could drink without getting drunk, thereby enabling themselves to blend in with the crowd a little better.
Now several of the punks at the poker table were watching the newcomers suspiciously, although there was a small grin playing at the corners of Ski Jacket's mouth. Without missing a beat, Tonks settled into Remus, snuggling with both boots on the couch, pressing her body against his torso. "Improvisation," she whispered, blushing, as she reached across his hips for the bottle held in his far hand, which had been hidden from Ski Jacket's beady little eyes by the arm of the sofa.
Remus felt his face flush. He had unconsciously inched away from her, closer to the sofa's arm, and his tee shirt had ridden up, exposing the pale skin of his stomach just above the big leather belt. He noticed Tonks' eyes were on him there, and he moved to tug the shirt down … but her hand settled quickly over his. "Tonight, we're boyfriend and girlfriend," she murmured in his ear, the warm air of her breath causing delicious vibrations to travel down his neck. "I've seen it all before, love." Then she tilted back the bottle of firewhiskey and downed a fair portion, pretending to cough and sputter afterwards even though Remus had removed the burning alcohol. "Hmm, tasty," she grinned. She handed him the dark bottle with something like a challenge in her eyes. He took a swig, feeling none of the familiar scorching as it went down. For effect, he cleared his throat and wiped an eye after he swallowed. Oddly, he sensed an aftertaste of peppermint. He wasn't surprised; once the burning alcohol was removed, there was no telling what the actual liquid might taste like. It could be ham-flavored, for all Remus knew. He took another swig and handed the bottle back to Tonks, who followed suit.
He relaxed against her, allowing himself to feel the curve of her body against his, and found that it was very, very difficult to pay any attention whatsoever to the room around them. To her credit, Tonks appeared to be scanning the place thoroughly over his shoulder, though her face was close to his. Now her eyes darted back to Remus' and she whispered, "What do you see?"
His heart leapt. "Erm …" He swallowed. I see the loveliest pair of eyes in the world. I see a woman I want to kiss immediately, if not sooner. Wait. That's not what she meant. She meant look over her shoulder, you dolt.
As Remus searched the room over Tonks' shoulder, he could feel her gaze on his face, her eyes pillaging his features while he wasn't looking at her. His flush grew deeper, and a sense of deep happiness began to settle on him like a dense fog. Tonks' fingers had moved from his hand onto his torso, gingerly, respectfully resting on top of the tee shirt, right next to the exposed skin. Focus. Focus. Focus. He inhaled deeply to steady his nerves, but only succeeded in inhaling Tonks' fresh scent, endless summertime in the dead of winter. How did she do it? For Merlin's sake, man, focus. Focus!
He finished his visual inspection of the room behind her and dared a glance into her eyes. She withdrew a millimeter and blinked, as if his look had startled her. He spoke softly. "Nothing untoward over there."
"Nor there," Tonks agreed huskily. She took a swig from the bottle and then cleared her throat. "Erm, now we have to search the other bottles. There's no way to perform a revealing spell on the entire room without potentially scaring off the person who might connect us with the, erm, the seller."
"There's a lot of firewhiskey left in this one," he observed, taking another gulp from the bottle and handing it back to Tonks.
"Yeah," she agreed, swallowing another mouthful and grimacing for effect. "How do we get rid of it? Mister Pantsless Guard Dog is watching." Remus knew she meant Ski Jacket; he liked the nickname she had chosen better.
A thought burst into Remus' head that made his heart pound even harder, but it seemed a brilliant idea. They were anonymous here, among people they would never see again, many of them drunk out of their minds and groping each other with abandon. And for anyone who might be watching, including Ski Jacket, he and Tonks were a couple. There was a way to get rid of the bottle very efficiently. "Erm," he said cautiously, "drop it."
Tonks frowned, a neat duo of lines creasing the space between her eyebrows. "Look, I know I'm clumsy; but really, why do I have to drop it? Why can't you – "
But Tonks never finished her complaint, because Remus leaned into her and started nibbling on her neck, pushing her back into the sofa as he did so. He heard her utter a tiny "oh!" before she melted into his embrace. Soon he felt one of her hands find his lower back underneath his jacket while the other accidentally sloshed firewhiskey onto his jeans. He snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her closer. She gasped. His lips slowly traced their way up to her jaw. What was he doing? But it was too late now to stop. This was the plan, this was their façade; he'd committed to it and now he'd have to follow through. His other hand certainly agreed as it squeezed her hip and –
The bottle was sideways on the floor, contents seeping underneath the sofa. There was a slight yellowish tint to the liquid, perhaps the effect of the black light overhead. Tonks and Remus sat bolt upright, both blushing furiously. Her hands were now on his hips underneath his tee shirt, and his arm remained possessively around her small waist. Both were breathing heavily, staring with some alarm into each other's eyes. His lips fairly ached to capture hers in a violent kiss. And he had a weird urge to tweak her nose. He managed to stifle that one, because it was most certainly at odds with the stronger urge to kiss her. What had gotten into him?
A smattering of applause and catcalls erupted from the poker table where Ski Jacket sat. "Smooth move, Romeo," he laughed, suddenly surly no more.
"Sod off," Tonks tossed in their direction as she smoothed down her tank top and tugged her jacket closer. "Give us your firewhiskey. Ours has gone missing." She was remembering the mission, smart girl.
"Get yer own," one of the other boys at the table sneered.
"No, let 'em have a couple of glasses," said Ski Jacket, Summoning two dubious-looking shot glasses from a dusty shelf and beginning to pour from his own bottle. Apparently their quasi-snogging session had impressed him.
"Thanks," said Remus, tugging his tee shirt back down. Without thinking, he reached into a pocket for his chocolate. With so many recent encounters with dementors, he always had a stash handy.
"Ooo," said Tonks, her eyes widening almost comically.
"You like?" Remus said, dangling it in front of her.
She snatched the bar and began ripping off the paper. "All of a sudden I am so hungry," she said. She took a huge bite and chewed it, moaning about how good it was.
Remus retrieved the chocolate from her clutches and took a bite. As he munched, he quickly realized that this was the best chocolate he'd ever had in his life. He stared at the wrapper. Same old brand: Messrs. Kite and Henderson's. Cheaper than Honeyduke's and twice as tasty. But this bar was different. It was unbelievably good. He swallowed, took another bite, and handed the bar back to Tonks' waiting fingers. Together they chewed in silence, basking in the glory of this heavenly chocolate. Where had Remus bought it? He couldn't remember. But he'd have to remember. Tomorrow.
Ski Jacket Levitated the shot glasses of firewhiskey toward Remus and Tonks and raised his own bottle in toast. When had he started pouring those glasses? It seemed hours ago, but it had to be only a few seconds. But before Remus had a moment to consider that oddity, he became aware of how dry his mouth was; it seemed to be taking him forever to chew his second bite of chocolate. He reached for the glasses and handed Tonks hers.
"To mind-blowing, bottle-dropping sex," Ski Jacket offered crassly from his seat at the poker table. Merlin in a tutu, Remus thought, the Witch's Brew. He'd already forgotten about their dropping the bottle of firewhiskey. He snickered once, although he thought it was probably a bad sign that he couldn't remember dropping the bottle. But he did remember nibbling on Tonks' neck.
"Ta," said Tonks as she raised her glass to Ski Jacket, her cheeks pink. She seemed unable to meet Remus' eyes.
But oh, he'd done it now. Now he'd well and truly done it. He'd crossed the line. For this assignment, Tonks had offered the personae of boyfriend-girlfriend, and he'd taken advantage of her creativity by giving into his own desire. It was part of the mission, after all, and it made sense in context; but it wasn't what she wanted. Well, at least he knew now. His heart thudded dully inside his chest as he considered the thought. He finished chewing the chocolate and swallowed it down, wondering for a moment why these glum thoughts were intruding into what seemed an unusually happy mood. They seemed out of place, to be certain.
Tonks performed another covert charm, which revealed that there was no Witch's Brew in her shot glass, and, therefore, none in Ski Jacket's bottle. "Nothing," she murmured, downing the shot after removing the alcohol from both glasses. Remus did the same, again wishing for the familiar burn in his esophagus.
"We'll need to see if there are any other bottles," he muttered.
"Right," she nodded. "Let's look back there."
There was another group of small sofas arranged like Stonehenge in the back of the basement – it must have been magically expanded to accommodate all the furniture – and they passed by and stepped over inebriated and unconscious witches and wizards to reach them. Somehow it seemed to take several minutes to get there. They spotted one more bottle, clutched in the hand of a tall, snoring young man in his early twenties. He was propped against the wall next to a couple that was snogging as if the world were about to end. Tonks pulled Remus toward the far wall, glancing at Ski Jacket and anyone else who might have their eye on them as she did so.
"Here," she whispered as she grabbed the bottle from the snorer's grip and pushed Remus against the stone wall, keeping the firewhiskey hidden between their bodies. "Third time's the charm. See what's in that bottle."
As Remus reached for his wand, Tonks' lips found his neck and she started mapping a path from one side of his throat to the other. At once he forgot about his wand, and the firewhiskey, and why they were even there in the first place. Her thumbs threaded themselves through his belt loops, and she held his hips firmly against the wall as she leaned against him, kissing his collarbone. It took every ounce of self-control he possessed not to close his eyes and moan. Was this payback for his little tour of her neck? Or was it –
"The firewhiskey," Tonks reminded him between kisses.
"Oh. Yes. Erm," Remus said eloquently. He withdrew his wand with a ridiculously slow hand and somehow performed the charm that told him there was no Witch's Brew in this bottle, either. But Tonks was still devouring his neck, and now her body was pressing into his in a most delightful way. Lowering the bottle to one side, he pocketed the wand and wrapped his free arm around her, completely forgetting to report his findings to his partner. Tonks' hands were inside his tee shirt again, roving upwards along his ribcage; and before he knew it, the fingers of his free hand had found the bare skin of her lower back and gently drew her closer to him. Standing on tiptoe, her lips grazed his jaw and he saw that her eyes were closed. She slid her face along his until their lips were nearly touching. Her eyes fluttered open, and he was conscious that they both were breathing at a quickened pace, staring at each other again with a look of half-alarm, half-desire. Or was he imagining it? He felt her soft breathing against his lips, could very nearly feel her mouth, curved into a little smile next to his own, and he couldn't seem to stop grinning. Her body had completely relaxed against him, every curve of it fitting neatly into his; and he wanted to walk her over to that sofa in the darkened corner and see how truly well their bodies might match horizontally. Her eyes searched his … and yet, he couldn't move. Their mission was over, with no more bottles to search. There was no need for the role-playing of boyfriend-girlfriend anymore. He daren't go further. So why couldn't they tear their bodies away from each other?
And what was this overwhelming feeling of happiness, of contentment, of possibility? And that little whisper of terror that it might be snatched from him in a moment?
The hulking figure of the fellow they'd stolen the last firewhiskey bottle from lurched into them as he made his way toward the loo, jostling them out of their stupor. They stepped away from each other, watching the floor between them. Remus placed the firewhiskey bottle on a low table and shoved his hands into his pockets. "Are we done here?" he ventured, heart still thundering.
Tonks' brow furrowed again. "Evidently."
"Perhaps we should – " Remus began, and halted when he saw Tonks looking expectantly at him. Her face was so open, so raw in that moment that he completely forgot what he was about to say. He had no idea how to proceed.
"Erm," said Remus.
Tonks now stuck her hands in her pockets as well, scuffing the ground with her heavy black boots. Doc Martens, she'd recently told him. What have I done? Remus thought. We, he corrected himself.
"Might as well do that revealing spell on the whole place now. I think we're out of bottles, but just in case …" Tonks cast a covert spell on the room and, as they suspected, there was no Witch's Brew anywhere in that basement, hidden or otherwise. If there had been, a telltale green glow would have revealed it. "Looks like Mad-Eye is about as reliable as Dung today, don't you think?"
"Quite," agreed Remus, wishing fervently that he could somehow find some excuse to kiss her again, or to let her kiss him, but knowing that he had none. The moment, if there was one, had passed.
"Well," said Tonks.
"Right," said Remus.
"We should – "
But suddenly Remus had the perfect excuse, and he wondered why he hadn't thought of it earlier. Their shift was to last six hours, if they needed it for the mission. Who would care if they wasted a little more time here? It was brilliant. He cleared his throat and spoke into her ear over the noise of the music. "It'd look suspicious if we left only ten minutes after getting here. Come on." Picking up the firewhiskey with one hand, he grasped her fingers with the other and led her to that dark sofa in the corner. Together they fell into it, and the old sofa cushions sagged nearly into the floor as the springs protested loudly, poking them in their backsides. Because of the lack of support, Remus was pleased to notice, their bodies slid toward the center and they were forced to sit rather close together. "Drink up," he said, removing the alcohol from the new firewhiskey and proffering the bottle.
Tonks took a swig and eyed him with a cheeky look. Was she impressed? Why hadn't he ever been this spontaneous with her before? What had he been afraid of?
"Happy Valentine's Day," Remus said as he took the bottle from her and took a swig. She smiled, and he felt himself grinning from ear to ear. Suddenly everything seemed right. Tonks wasn't angry with him for nibbling on her neck, no, not at all. In fact, she'd done the same to him against the wall. And she was smiling at him as if there were nowhere else she'd rather be. In truth, he felt he could stay here in this depressing little basement forever, as long as Tonks was with him.
He leaned into her ear, intending to tell her so, consequences and friendship and dangerous flirting be damned. But what came out of his mouth was something utterly unexpected, although somehow it felt like the most natural thing in the world in that moment.
Remus began to sing.
"My funny Valentine
Sweet comic Valentine
You make me smile with my heart"
He felt Tonks giggling under the hand that had now settled on her hip again. He took courage from that and went on, his voice husky but more or less in key. A strange elation put down roots in his belly as he sang into her ear, and he nuzzled closer to tease her with his breath.
"Your looks are laughable
Unphotographable – Well, that's not exactly true," said Remus, interrupting himself.
"Keep singing!" commanded Tonks, smiling; and who was he to argue?
"– Yet you're my favorite work of art"
"Hmm," sighed Tonks, and he felt her smile against his lips.
"Is your figure less than Greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart"
"Wicked smart, I'd say," Remus whispered into her ear. "Although your taste in singers is a little suspect at the mo – "
"Sing, sing, sing!" she demanded, wrapping her fingers around his waist.
"But don't change a hair for me
Not if you care for me"
Suddenly the quality of Tonks' listening seemed to change. Her body stilled; there was no more giggling. Her face shifted so that her mouth was nearly on his. He watched her closed eyes as he sang the last few words, barely a whisper into the corner of her lips.
"Stay, little Valentine, stay …
Each day is Valentine's day"
The last word of the song hovered in the millimeter between their lips, swirled into their breath, and seemed to nestle onto his tongue again, even though the song was over. He wanted to keep singing to her, but something else seemed more important now. Tonks' eyes opened and met his. And, as he'd longed to do for months, he let his mouth settle onto hers, and he felt her satisfied exhalation on his lips as she kissed him back. Her gentle hands seemed to be everywhere at once – on his cheeks, in his hair, trailing across his chest, running down his back – and somehow, suddenly, they were horizontal, sort of, on the sagging sofa, with his body pressing into hers and her kisses now fervent and fevered under his mouth. He gingerly set the firewhiskey down on the floor next to the sofa with a smoothness that would have rivaled Sirius', then let his free fingertips find a place where Tonks' shirt had ridden up and trace a design on the exposed hip. With more than a little pleasure, he felt her body shudder as he lingered there.
As he kissed her, the music around them seemed to recede into the background until all that was left was the rhythm of their breathing, and the soft hums of pleasure he felt in his chest; whether the vibrations were caused by his own vocalizations of pleasure or Tonks', he was no longer sure, their bodies were so close. It didn't matter. Everything made sense now, and Remus wondered why he had waited so long to fall into this perfect logic.
Underneath his lips, he felt Tonks smile. Then she started to giggle. He felt a snicker beginning in his own belly, and soon they were laughing in earnest, still kissing each other between breaths. He had no idea why they were laughing, but he had the strange sense that they were laughing at the same thing, whatever that might be. The laughter built until he saw two little tears cascading from the outer corners of Tonks' eyes and running down the sides of her face into her ears. She clutched her sides and seemed to be having difficulty breathing as her breath hitched between each guffaw. Remus helped her sit up, pulling her onto his lap and letting her lean into his shoulder as she continued to shake with laughter. He contented himself with kissing her delicate neck, feeling delicious sensations as she moved against him, even as she devoured his neck between her own giggles.
Finally she caught her breath and murmured into his ear, "Remus." Another titter into his cheek set him off sniggering again.
"Yes, Nympha – Tonks!" He felt her fingers poised to tickle him, and he suspected he corrected himself in the nick of time.
"Remus, we are at work." She kept chuckling.
"Apparently so," he replied seriously, nibbling on her ear. Another huff of laughter escaped his nose and he was off again, giggling helplessly.
"What would Mad-Eye say?" she asked between cackles.
At the thought, they both erupted into long howls of laughter, Tonks collapsing over Remus' shoulder. "I suppose he'd chastise us for not being vigilant," commented Remus after he caught his breath. And even though he knew it was true, that they were being about as un-vigilant as two highly-trained, magically talented persons could be, he couldn't stop laughing about it.
But then Tonks' mouth captured his again, and the way she moved into him while she kissed him drove all laughter from his body. His hands roved over her, taking liberties that, historically, would not – should not – have been taken until the third or fourth date, if this even counted as a date, and doubtless never would have been taken in public. But Tonks didn't seem to mind – seemed to enjoy it, in fact – and oh gods her hand was now moving in the direction of taking a certain liberty, as well, and –
"Oooff!" Someone large plopped down next to them on the sofa and leaned against Remus' shoulder. It was the young man from whom they'd nicked the firewhiskey, the one who had gone to the loo and who was now, evidently, ready for another nice nap. The fellow's head lolled against the back of the sofa onto Remus' shoulder. It really was impossible to keep to the edges on this sagging excuse of a piece of furniture. Remus sighed. Then he and Tonks started laughing again.
"Shall we, erm …?" managed Remus, pointing to the door.
"We probably should," agreed Tonks with a reluctant smile. "Mad-Eye will want a report. I say we write it up tomorrow." Then she fixed him with a daring glance, and he wondered if she was insinuating what he thought – hoped – she was insinuating. He smiled, thinking this should feel rather reckless, but for some reason felt just fine. Very fine, indeed.
"Sounds reasonable," he whispered into her mouth as he kissed her again. They were lost in a fit of giggles again as they attempted to rise and found that getting out of a saggy sofa with a rather heavy bloke leaning further and further towards the center took more coordination than either of them seemed to possess at the moment.
Outside the house, they discussed briefly how they should behave once they got back to Grimmauld Place. Remus found that he felt rather jealous of his newfound "secret" and wasn't anxious to share it with the household. He thought for a wild moment that they should escape, just get far, far away from the old house. But they'd be missed. And they'd be worried about, by Sirius, most of all. So they Apparated back to the alley behind Number 12, slipped past the protections to the back door, and snuck into the kitchen, giggling all the way and holding hands like children.
Once inside, Remus began automatically making hot cocoa for the two of them, a habit he'd gotten into whenever he had to work late, or when he caught Tonks coming in late herself. He thought he'd never felt so relaxed, so full of possibility, as he did tonight. And the way Tonks was looking at him, eyes shining, lips curled into an indecipherable smile, made him feel like the master of this dark, dank little castle. King of the kitchen. Grand duke of the shrieking halls.
They sipped their cocoa together, leaning against the counter, hips touching, and whispered about how they might possibly get away with such behavior under the noses of all the comers and goers at headquarters. To his surprise and delight, Tonks replied by way of song. Her voice was quiet as a whisper but clear as a bell.
"Can you hear them
They talk about us
Well, that's no surprise
Can you see them
See right through them
They have no shield
No secrets to reveal"
By now they were both bouncing to the imagined beat of the song, sloshing cocoa a little as they did so. Remus remembered this Muggle song from the early 1980s – how did Tonks know it? – and joined her on the chorus. Tonks' voice, emboldened by his, rose in strength and volume.
"It doesn't matter what they say
In the jealous games people play – hey-ey-ey!
Our lips are sealed"
Another round of giggling ensued, and Remus grasped Tonks' hand and began performing a two-step and twirl combination as Tonks kept singing. Miraculously, very little cocoa was spilled on the kitchen floor as they laughed.
"There's a weapon
That we must use
In our defense
When you look at them
Look right through them
That's when they'll disappear
That's when we'll be feared"
Remus' husky voice rose again to sing with her, and their knees bounced as they bellowed out the tune.
"It doesn't matter what they say
In the jealous games people play – hey-ey-ey!
Our lips are sealed
Pay no mind to what they say
It doesn't matter anyway – hey-ey-ey!
Our lips are sealed"
For the bridge of the song, Tonks' voice became quiet again, and she leaned into Remus, singing right into his mouth in a breathy, lilting alto. His arm snaked around her waist and he held her there.
"Hush, my darling
Don't you cry
Forget their lies –"
"What in the name of Merlin's third leg is going on?"
The harsh voice of Mad-Eye Moody made them jump, and this time Tonks did slosh some of her cocoa onto the floor. "Crikey, Mad-Eye, you scared the pants off me!" she laughed.
"We were just singing," said Remus, sounding defensive in spite of himself. He considered briefly asking Moody to join them, but somehow he doubted the Auror would know the Muggle song.
"Singing." Moody pronounced the word almost phonetically, as if he'd never heard it before.
"Yeah, Remus is a great singer," she said, tweaking his nose, "unbeknownst to the rest of the household."
"But Tonks is better," Remus replied, tweaking hers back and grinning broadly.
"Stop right there, you two." Moody had his wand trained on them.
The two froze for a split second, then Tonks burst into a fit of giggles. Remus snickered next to her. "What, is singing in this house a crime?"
The corners of Moody's mouth twitched, but he didn't quite smile. "No, no crime. And neither is Euphoria Elixir." Remus and Tonks stood still again and stared at Moody, the smiles falling from their faces. He went on. "But I suspect you don't realize you've drunk it. A person never does, no matter how … silly that person may act."
Realization began to dawn on Remus. "Euphoria … but we examined all the bottles – "
"For Witch's Brew, yes," interrupted Moody. "But if you drank something there, it must have been spiked with Euphoria Elixir instead. Didn't think to check for that, now, did you?"
Tonks looked up at Remus with red cheeks. "Apparently not."
Suddenly they were hit with a spell that knocked their breath out, and the euphoria was gone. Moody pocketed his wand, a cockeyed grimace twisting his face. "I suspect you'll be more careful before you go drinking strangers' drinks next time, won't you?"
"Of course," said Remus soberly, immediately missing the happy calm he'd felt a second ago. Tonks merely stared at the floor like a chastised schoolgirl.
"You can turn in a report tomorrow," said Moody, more quietly this time. He turned and stumped out of the kitchen, calling over his shoulder. "Sleep it off, kids."
Remus and Tonks barely had time to glance at each other when Moody's face appeared in the doorway again. "And get that goop out of your hair, Lupin." He disappeared once more and they heard his clump-clump-clumping as he went upstairs, muttering about singing and nose-tweaking all the way.
Slowly Remus and Tonks turned to face each other. After the briefest moment of uncertainty and embarrassment, someone – Remus wasn't sure whether it was he or Tonks – started to snicker. And an instant later they were laughing harder than they had at the party. They laughed so hard they had to put their mugs on the kitchen counter to keep from spilling them entirely. They hooted and howled and cackled and shrieked and guffawed and snorted until they were a helpless mess sitting right on the cold floor together, hip against hip, knee against knee, leaning against the cabinets.
A full three minutes, interspersed with fits of giggling, were spent catching their breaths. Their recovery took so long that it wasn't until the kitchen was quiet again that Remus realized he held Tonks' hand in his own. Her fingers looked so small weaved through his, and yet they fit there perfectly. He raised her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it, then hummed a portion of "My Funny Valentine." Looking into her shining eyes as she wiped tears of mirth from them with her free hand he felt, still, like the king of the kitchen, baron of badly sung songs, viscount of snickering kisses.
"Well," Remus said finally, casting a sidelong glance at Tonks, "after nose tweaking, a date would seem anti-climactic. Even so – "
"Yes!" she blurted out. But then she blushed, her voice softening as she pulled his fingers to her lips and breathed into them, "Yes." She kissed them and smiled, her voice coming back to itself. "I mean, just yes." She grinned. "As long as you bring some of that yummy chocolate."
They laughed and regarded each other contentedly for a few moments. There was another title Remus thought he held now as he tilted her face toward his, pressing his lips to hers and studying with interest the feelings that fluttered in his breast like so many birds freed from tiny metal cages.
Scholar of euphoria.
A/N: Remus' song, of course, is the classic "My Funny Valentine" by Rodgers and Hart, which has been performed by many singers over the past seventy years. Tonks' song is "Our Lips Are Sealed" by the Go-Gos.
Any reviewer gets their ear sung into by their favorite euphoric Werewolf. ;)