Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to JK Rowling. I'm just playing ;).
A/N: A pressie for MrsTater, who wanted a sequel to Crushed.
"Do you promise you won't laugh?"
Tonks considered him for a
moment, raising her eyebrows at him ever so slightly, a smile pulling
on her lips. "No," she said.
Remus' eyebrows leapt up in surprise, and he felt a little taken aback – and more than a little worried – at her response. This was going to be bad enough, without her laughing at him.
"Well I can't, really, can I?" she said, shrugging. "Whenever people say 'do you promise not to laugh?' that means there's something to laugh at, and I can't promise until I know what it is that I won't." She frowned a little in thought, a crease he always found adorable appearing between her eyebrows. "Plus there's the added pressure of me knowing that you don't want me to laugh now," she said, frowning more deeply, "and that always makes things seem funnier. Lure of the forbidden, or something."
Remus let out a small
huff of acquiescence, because he couldn't find a flaw in her logic,
much as he'd have liked to. "Hmm," he murmured, and Tonks leant
forward conspiratorially, meeting his eye with wry amusement.
"Just spit it out," she said. "It can't be that bad, can it?"
Remus ran a hand over his jaw. It wasn't that what he had to confess was bad so much as stomach-churningly mortifying.
Noting his reluctance, Tonks inched forward, and smiled up at him in utterly beguiling fashion. "I can't promise not to laugh, but I can promise," she said, her voice low and teasing, her fingers roaming over his stomach under the guise of straightening his jumper, "that if I do laugh and upset you, I'll make it up to you later." She bit her lip and peered up at him through her eyelashes, flirtation written into every twinkle in her eyes. "Will that do?"
Remus swallowed, and crossed his arms as if he was giving the matter some serious consideration, when really, with her looking at him like that and her fingers on his stomach, none whatsoever was required. "Well, I suppose it'll have to, won't it?" he said, barely stifling the impulse to snigger, even though he knew that what was coming would be utterly mortifying.
He should have known it'd come up sooner or later, that Sirius wouldn't be able to resist a dig at him, and that if the opportunity arose for him to do it in front of Tonks, he would.
Not that he could blame him entirely, because when Min – Professor McGonagall – had placed a hand gently on his arm as she squeezed past him after the meeting, he had gone bright red and stammered an apology. And then got flustered because he knew he was drawing attention, and stammered an apology for apologising. And then Min – Professor McGonagall – had eyed him questioningly and asked if he was quite all right, and that was when his voice had gone all squeaky….
He cringed at the thought.
To his credit, Sirius had waited until the room was clear, until only the two of them and Tonks were left, to bring the subject up, although Remus wasn't sure quite how much good will that bought him, when the first thing he'd said was, "So, Tonks, did Moony ever tell you about the time I caught him whispering a woman's name and snogging his pillow in his sleep?"
Tonks' eyes had – naturally – lit up inquisitively, and Sirius had met his eye, smirked, and then mused, "Now what was the name..? I remember – it was Min – "
Remus had silenced him with a look, although the damage was largely done. He'd blushed such a furious shade that any chance he'd had of denying it and telling Tonks Sirius was joking had flown right out the window.
Then, of course, Sirius had clapped him on the back, snagged a bottle of Firewhiskey and left him to it, tossing a, "Good luck getting out of this one, mate," over his shoulder.
Which was how he'd ended up here, with Tonks still eyeing him with an inquisitiveness that was now starting to border on suspicion, and him afraid to utter a sound in case his voice was back to its pre-pubescent squeak.
Remus cleared his throat, stalling for time. How on earth was he supposed to explain to the woman he loved that at one point, his ideal partner had been a woman several decades his senior, who always wore tartan and could at will turn into a cat? A woman who spoke sternly, and had, on more than one occasion, put him in detention and ordered him to write lines?
Wouldn't she think that was a bit, well, weird?
Why couldn't he have had a teenage crush on someone… normal? Not that Min – Professor McGonagall – wasn't normal, but the occasional glance he'd caught at Sirius' Play Wizard magazines had taught him nothing if not that the average teenage boy didn't have room in his head for erotic thoughts about undoing buns and plaid.
He cleared his throat again, wondering how red his face was, and Tonks' expression softened from the gently teasing suspicious one she had been wearing to one of genuine concern. "You can tell me anything," she said. "It won't change what I think of you – or how I feel."
He smiled, briefly – or tried to, but the muscles in his face didn't seem to be working properly – over-heated, he thought, most likely. His attempt at a smile faltered halfway, and he frowned instead.
He took a deep breath, and then let it out as
a sigh. There was no escaping it. He just had to tell her. "When I
was at school," he said. "I had – well – certain feelings –
romantic feelings, I suppose you'd call them, for –
"For – for Professor McGonagall."
Tonks pressed her lips together, and her chin
quivered. Then, her eyes danced, just as they normally did as she
guffawed at one of his stupid jokes, only no sound was forthcoming to
accompany it. But he could tell she was only just barely keeping it
in. "I knew you'd laugh," he said.
"Uhm nat loffin," Tonks said, shaking her head, apparently not able to open her lips enough to let the words out fully.
"No," he said, "but you want to."
"Noh ah dohn."
Remus crossed his arms tersely, and that seemed too much for Tonks. She let out a peal of laughter that echoed round the kitchen before settling between them, and then covered her mouth with her hands, grinning apologetically. He met her eye, trying to look disapproving, but as a snigger escaped between her fingers, it pulled on his frown, telling him to cheer up a bit, that really, Tonks had made her peace with bigger and more terrifying things than him having dubious taste in crushes as a teenager.
He chuckled quietly, experimentally, and to his surprise found that now he'd said the words, they didn't feel nearly as mortifying as he'd expected. "I know it probably sounds bizarre," he said, meeting her eye. She held his gaze for a moment, smiling sweetly – encouragingly, he thought, as if she knew how hard this was for him. "I just – it wasn't a conscious thing. One day I was just sitting in Transfiguration, and there it was. I fancied her."
Tonks considered him for a moment, the slightest trace of a smile playing on her lips. "I'm assuming you never did anything about it?" she said. "There's no desk top detention-based tryst coda to this story?"
Remus laughed and
shook his head. "No," he said.
"And do you still..?"
Remus shook his head more emphatically. "She's a wonderful woman," he said. "I'm just embarrassed that I ever thought of her like that, really."
Tonks considered him for another moment, the
corners of her eyes just creasing as she thought, and Remus
swallowed. Even though she was smiling, he couldn't help feeling
like a man on trial, waiting to hear the verdict, waiting to know
which fate he'd have to rise up and meet. "Well I think it's
sweet," she said.
"Yeah," she said. "It's nice that when you were that age you weren't just after massive knockers or unrealistic blonde hair or something – that you wanted someone intelligent and forthright."
Remus grinned, but Tonks' face fell, and she leaned towards him, her eyes roving his face questioningly. "I mean that's why you liked her, isn't it? You and Sirius haven't set this up as some kind of way for you to break it to me gently that when we go to bed tonight, what you'd really like is for me to morph some grey hair and give you lines?"
Remus threw his head back and laughed. "Oh well that's a relief," she said, grinning impishly, and he pulled her into a hug, burying his face in her hair and tittering quietly to himself.
Tonks hugged him tighter, and he took a moment to
breathe her in, to think how fortunate he was to have a woman like
her in his heart, as well as his life. "You really don't mind?"
"Of course not," she replied. She grinned up at him briefly, and then nestled back on his chest, which was always his favourite place for her to be. "Everyone has a crush on a teacher at some point, don't they?" she said. "Right of passage."
"Hmm," she murmured. "I mean I used to fancy Snape…."
A/N: Reviewers get a Hogwarts teacher of their choice for a detention-based desktop tryst. Or just some help with their homework ;).