Happy very, very late holidays! Sorry for the super long wait. Thank you all for your great reviews, and thank you very much, Tonks14, since I couldn't respond to your review, I'm very glad that you like it, thank you for reviewing! Okay, here's the chapter!
Tonks entered her apartment with a sigh. She had just gotten back from visiting Arthur, and although she was glad that he was okay, and was happy at a chance to see him, she was exhausted. She entered her kitchen, wondering if Remus would still be there. He had told her that he would probably head home for a while, but she wasn't sure. She found a note on the table in his now-familiar scrawl:
I decided to go back to headquarters for a bit. I just needed some rest, and you do, too. I'll probably see you tomorrow, whenever you stop by. I hope that your visit with Arthur went well. See you soon.
P.S. I made you a sandwich for when you get back. I know you'll be tired, and I had nothing else to do. I also found a couple packets of crisps in your pantry, so I set some out by the sandwich for you. And don't worry, I can handle making sandwiches, as it doesn't involve the stove--it won't poison you.
Her heart nearly skipped a beat when she realized that he had signed his note with 'love'. Calm down, she told herself. It's just an expression. But she still couldn't help but smile as she pocketed the note. And sure enough, she found a large sandwich and some crisps waiting for her on the counter. She shook her head, amazed. She still couldn't get over how thoughtful he could be. She carried the plate and a can of soda into her living room, where she settled down on the couch to watch some tv. She flipped around the channels until she found an old muggle movie on one. Settling back and eating her meal, she realized how lonely she felt. She had gotten so used to spending most of her days in headquarters, surrounded by other people. The quiet was kind of nice, but she still looked forward to getting back to Grimmauld Place the next day.
Finishing her sandwich, she set the plate aside. She lay down on the couch, still trying to concentrate on the movie, and eventually fell asleep.
When Tonks awoke early the next morning, she showered and dressed quickly, then immediately headed over to Grimmauld Place, where she found only Remus and Sirius up and in the kitchen. Remus was drinking tea and seemed like he was in his own world, while Sirius was drinking coffee and doing the puzzles in the paper.
"Wotcher," she said cheerfully, causing them both to jump.
"Morning," Sirius said, smiling warmly at her. "Had a feeling you'd pop by this morning."
"Yeah, well, got pretty bored all on my own," she said, plopping down in the seat next to Remus. "Wotcher, Remus!"
"Hello, Nymphadora," Remus said, smiling pleasantly at her. "Would you like any tea? The water's still hot."
"That's okay. Thanks anyway," she said. She smiled shyly at him, and he grinned back. She turned to see Sirius watching them with a knowing look on his face.
"Erm, anyway..." Remus said, blushing slightly. "I'll be back, I have to go to the bathroom..." Setting his teacup down, he walked out of the room, leaving Sirius and her alone, a situation that she had come to be wary of.
"So..." Sirius said, leaning casually back in his chair. "What'd you get him for Christmas?"
"Christmas?" Tonks replied blankly. Sirius raised his eyebrows.
"Yeah. You know, the holiday. That takes place tomorrow."
"Wait..." she said, her eyes widening slowly. "You mean...wait, today is Christmas Eve?" Sirius nodded, cringing slightly.
"Lose track of the days much, Tonks?" Tonks squeezed her eyes shut in frustration.
"Yes! I lost track of the days, I didn't think Christmas was for another week or so--oh, I didn't get anybody presents--and what am I going to get Remus? I can't ask him what he wants, he'll know I forgot! And he's probably impossible to buy for--what am I going to do--"
"Get some of that Santa lingerie that's always around at this time of year," Sirius suggested unhelpfully.
"Lingerie?" she asked incredulously.
"Yeah. Not for him, you wear it--he'd enjoy that--" he stopped as she scowled at him.
"Seriously, Sirius--" she glared at him again as he snorted--"I have no idea what to get him. What did he get me?"
"I'm not going to tell you that!" Sirius exclaimed. Tonks sighed.
"What does he like?"
"Books, tea, you--"
"Yes, well, anything more meaningful?" she said, frustrated.
"I said you. Seriously, I think you should just put on some lingerie, present yourself to him and he'd be happy."
"Is sex all you think about?" she nearly shrieked. Sirius chuckled.
"Calm down, cuz, I'm mostly kidding. It's fun to get you all riled up. But as to what Remus would like, I can't help you there," he said sympathetically. "I mean, I always got him guy stuff. I have no idea what his girlfriend would get him...you're on your own. You'll find something, though." She sighed at his lack of helpfulness, and was just picking up her cloak to head out for some shopping when Remus came back into the kitchen. He looked at her, confused.
"Where are you going?"
"I just have to run some errands," she said, smiling. I'll be back soon, okay?" She pressed a quick kiss to his lips, and was grateful to see Sirius turn his head slightly, averting his eyes. Still, Remus blushed slightly as he gave her hands a quick squeeze.
"Alright then, see you later. Are you coming back here?"
"Yes," she said, pocketing her wand. "Bye, Remus. Bye, Sirius." Both men waved as she made her way out of Grimmauld Place in search of the one person who could always help her out of situations like this. A few minutes later, she was knocking on the door of Allegria's flat. Her friend answered the door in her pajamas, her hair in a sloppy bun.
"Tonks! Well, aren't you up at an ungodly hour! What are you doing here?"
"Sorry, did I wake you up?" Tonks asked apologetically.
"No, it's just that I didn't expect you to be up already...come in, come in...is everything okay?"
"Everything's fine," Tonks assured her. "It's just that I...need some help with some last minute shopping."
"It's not last minute until tomorrow," Allegria said cheerfully, "but of course I'll help you! Who are you shopping for?"
"Well, sort of a couple people," Tonks said, wincing inwardly at her forgetfulness, "but I mostly need to find a good gift for Remus."
"Ooh," said Allegria sympathetically, "men are hard to shop for, aren't they? Well, just give me a few minutes, I'll meet you back out here and we can hit Diagon Alley, okay?" Allegria rushed off into her room and Tonks sat down on the couch to wait. In no more than five minutes, Allegria came out, showered and dressed.
"I still don't know how you do all of that that fast," Tonks said, amazed. "Anyways, let's go."
A little while later, they stood at the entrance of Diagon Alley. Tonks stared at all of the shops, slightly apprehensive.
"Where to?" Allegria asked cheerfully.
"I'll save Remus for last," Tonks said thoughtfully. She and Allegria headed down the narrow alley, popping into a store whenever Tonks saw something that she thought was appropriate. About two hours later, they had purchased a dish set for Molly (to replace some of the ones that Tonks had ruined), a small Muggle radio for Arthur and a book on Muggle habits, a necklace for Andromeda, some movies for Ted (as he loved to watch TV, even though Andromeda often scoffed), a small, working model of the Firebolt for Harry, and lots of candy for all of the children. Tonks had also purchased some things to keep Sirius busy, such as novels and some puzzle books, although she just told Allegria that they were for another friend. Finally, she had to find something for Remus, and she would be done.
"The thing is, I have no idea what he would want!" Tonks vented as she and Allegria strolled down the narrow, crowded alley, peering into each store. "I was thinking of buying him some new clothes...but I don't want to remind him of his money problem. That's one of the issues he has with himself, that and the fact that he's a were..." she fell silent as she was suddenly struck by a thought.
"Allegria...we need to go to the apothecary!"
"You're getting him potion stuff?" she replied, crinkling her nose. "Doesn't that kind of...suck as a gift?"
"Just shut up and come along," Tonks said hurriedly, rushing along to find the store. She finally found the small shop, tucked into a dark space, overshadowed by the two larger shops on either side of it. She entered cautiously, Allegria following her, still slightly confused.
"What are we doing here?" Allegria asked quietly. Tonks took a deep breath and turned to her.
"Look, Allegria, I didn't mention this before, but Remus has sort of a...condition." She paused, unsure of how her friend would take this. "He's a werewolf."
Allegria looked shocked for a minute, and then her face softened. "Were you afraid to tell me this before, sweetie?" she asked. "Did you think I would be disgusted, or prejudiced? Because I'm not. I happen to have no problems with werewolves. As long as you like him and he likes you, that's great."
Tonks looked down. "I know. Sorry. You're not mad at me for not trusting you, are you? Because...I just really want you to approve of him."
"Of course I'm not mad, Tonks!" Allegria replied, pulling her into a hug. "And I do approve of Remus...he's great for you!" She gave Tonks a reassuring squeeze, then pulled away. "Now that we've gotten that out of the way, what are we here for?"
Tonks started to scan a small table full of books on various potions. "Well...I'm hoping to also get him something else, but...I'm going to try and learn how to make wolfsbane for him. Currently, Severus Snape prepares it for him--do you remember Snape?"
Allegria shuddered. "Of course I remember him. No wonder you want to start preparing it for him yourself. But sweetie...it's really very complicated, and it's not that I don't have faith in you...but...are you sure? I mean, you're always so busy, and once a month...I mean..."
"Of course I'm sure," Tonks said confidently. "I know I'm really not great at potions, but I'm determined to figure this one out. And he also really can't afford the ingredients, so..."
"Well, I'm sure he'll definitely appreciate it," Allegria said confidently. Tonks finally found the page detailing the wolfsbane potion. Handing it to her friend, she started to scan the shelves. "Could you help me find some of these ingredients?"
They both searched for a few minutes, and eventually, they finally found all of the ingredients. They brought them up the the counter, where a bored looking man was working as clerk.
"Is this all?" he said slowly, looking rather curiously at the ingredients.
"Yes, this is all," Tonks said firmly, paying quickly and exiting the rather gloomy shop.
"Okay, is there anything else you want to get?" Allegria asked, taking some of Tonks bags to carry.
"Well, I want to get him something else...I mean, I'm hoping he'll appreciate this, but still...I have no idea what he would want, though."
"Well..." Allegria said, thinking hard. "How about...I know you said his clothes are kind of shabby, and you don't want to remind him of his money problem, but you don't have to get him a whole new set of robes. How about a scarf or gloves or something?"
Tonks remembered his worn out gloves that she had worn when they went on their stakeout. "Good idea," she said, relieved to have her shopping trip coming to an end. They popped into a clothing shop, where Tonks quickly found a matching scarf and glove set that she was sure he would like. They finally exited Diagon Alley, rather tired. "Thanks for helping me, Allegria," she said, giving her friend a large smile. "I wouldn't have been able to do it without you."
"No problem," her friend replied, handing her all of the bags that she had been helping her carry. "I would help you bring these back, but I should get home now...stop by tomorrow, so I can give you your Christmas gift!"
"Alright," Tonks said. "Happy Christmas, Allegria! Thanks again!"
"Happy Christmas," her friend replied, waving. "And good luck with Remus...in more ways than one!"
Tonks gave a slight groan as her friend gave her a suggestive wink before turning on the spot and Apparating away. She realized that her friend and Sirius would probably be perfect for each other, and they would make great partners in crime. Tonks made a mental note to introduce them to each other if she ever could.
She managed to make her way back to Grimmauld Place after stopping at her flat to dump some of the presents onto her bed. She brought the Weasleys', Harry's and Sirius' gifts to Grimmauld, where she wrapped them and left them in a small pile near the door.
Heading downstairs, she was greeted in the kitchen by the Weasleys, Remus, and Sirius.
"Wotcher," she greeted them. She was met with a chorus of replies. The children, and Molly, looked noticeably cheerier than they had at the hospital. She sat down across from Sirius.
"You get everything alright?" he asked, giving her a small grin.
"Yes," she replied, smiling. "My gifts are by the door, if you wouldn't mind delivering them to their individual recipients for tomorrow?" He nodded and gave her a mock salute. "Thank you." She turned to Remus, who was sitting next to her. "So what are the plans for tomorrow?"
"Moody and I are accompanying the Weasleys to visit Arthur," Remus said from beside her. "Then I was thinking we could leave them alone for a little bit with Sirius here--" he ignored Sirius' grin.
"We could go to my flat for a little bit," Tonks suggested. "I sort of need to show you my gift, and it would be nice if it was in private--oh, stop it, it's nothing like that!" she snapped at Sirius, who's eyebrows were raising higher and higher as his smile became wider. "It's just that I thought it would be nice to be alone for a little while." She gave up on reprimanding Sirius.
"That sounds nice," Remus replied, giving Sirius a look. "I'll come by tomorrow after going to St. Mungo's, then."
"Alright," Tonks said, giving him a smile.
The rest of the evening was spent in happy celebration as everyone helped to put decorations up. Tonks was happy to see Sirius in such a good mood. Having so many people around the house had made him downright gleeful. He was prancing around, singing as he put his decorations up. After a while, Remus decided to make his exit. He pulled Tonks into his room while everybody was busy trying to reverse the charm that the Weasley twins had put upon the garland, which tried to strangle anybody that laid a hand on them.
"I'll see you tomorrow," he said. "I'm a bit tired, and I just decided to let the Weasleys have a rest for a little bit without too many visitors around."
"I'll probably head home, too," Tonks said. "Happy Christmas, Remus." She stepped forward and threw her arms around his neck in a backbreaking hug. He chuckled and gave her a large squeeze back. She drew back enough so that her face was even with his, and gave him a kiss.
"We'd better get going," Remus said, reluctantly letting go of her waist and letting his arms drop to his side.
"Okay," she said, smoothing his hair down, which was slightly tousled. "See you tomorrow!"
They gave each other one more quick kiss, and then quickly and quietly exited the room, where they managed to make it downstairs without anyone noticing that they had gone. They quickly said bye to everyone, and they managed to leave without much fuss, as everyone was now engaged in war with the Christmas baubles, which were charmed to stick in some unfortunate places on anyone that tried to hang them anywhere. They quickly closed the door, cutting off Fred and George's sniggers and Mrs. Weasley's yelling. They said goodbye to each other once more, then Apparated to their separate homes. After setting the ingredients for Remus' potion in her room and wrapping his scarf and gloves, she crawled into bed, exhausted.
Tonks awoke the next morning to the tapping on her window. Groggily, she stumbled out of bed and opened the window to find that it was snowing, and that there was an owl tapping impatiently. Pulling the owl into her room, she untied the scroll of parchment and unraveled it. It was from Allegria.
Happy Christmas, sweetie!
I don't know what your plans are for today, but if you would like, you and Remus could come over tonight. I met this new guy--Michael--sorry, I forgot to tell you the other day. He's great, and he seems really excited to meet you--I told him all about you. Don't worry, I didn't tell him about Remus' 'condition'--I know that you would want that kept private. Anyway, send me a reply, and if you're up to it, stop by with Remus at around six at my place--I'll have a load of food and stuff. Love you, sweetie, and Happy Christmas!!
Tonks smiled. It was so like Allegria to already have another boyfriend, but she knew her friend had good sense and wouldn't see a guy that wasn't decent. She scrawled a quick reply on the back:
Hey, Happy Christmas to you, too!
That sounds great, thanks for the invite! I'll ask Remus if he wants to come; I'm sure he will. So we'll probably be there!
She sent the parchment back with the owl, and flopped down on her bed. Glancing at the clock, she realized that it was already almost eleven thirty. Unsure of what time Remus would be by, she decided to get ready fairly soon. Almost as if her thoughts had been read, she heard another owl tapping on the window, this time with a note from Remus.
Hi, Nymphadora, Happy Christmas.
I just wanted to let you know that I'll be by around one o'clock; if that sounds good, send me a reply.
She quickly wrote back that one sounded great, and added in Allegria's invitation. She sent it off, and headed to her closet to face the daunting task of what to wear.
Normally, she didn't care too much about how she looked--she liked looking good, but it had never really mattered this much before. Glancing at her rather large array of clothing, she decided that she would abandon her usual jeans and wear a skirt. Deciding upon a rather strange colored plum skirt, she set about the task of finding a shirt. She pulled out a green shirt, but then decided that it made her look too much like Barney, and she threw it aside. Instead, she pulled out a small black top, and trying it on, decided it was perfect. It clung to all of the right places, and it actually went with purple skirt. She pulled out some black leather boots, surveyed the outfit that was laid out on her bed, and nodded, satisfied. She heard a tap on the window and realized that Remus must have sent his reply. She opened the window and took the message from the bird. Remus' message said that Allegria's invite sounded nice. She placed it on her bed, took a quick shower, and got dressed. Deciding on shoulder length, dark brown curls, she applied a bit of makeup and then waited. Glancing at the clock, she saw that it was only noon. To pass the time, she scribbled a quick letter to her parents, saying that she would visit the next day. After she sent that, she checked to make sure that Remus' gift was ready, then watched TV until she heard a knock on the door. Jumping up from the couch, she walked quickly into the entrance hallway and opened the door to see Remus standing there, smiling.
"Happy Christmas," he said, giving her a quick hug.
"You too," she replied, grinning. "Come in, come in...so are you up for Allegria's at six?"
"Yes, that sounds nice," he said. She took his traveling cloak for him, and led him into the living room. "I'm touched that she included me."
Tonks laughed. "She's been dying to meet you again. I figured we'd be stuffing ourselves at her place, so I didn't really make much food...but if you get hungry, I can try to whip something together." They sat on the couch, and he settled down, smiling at her.
"Would you like to exchange gifts now?" he asked. Tonks considered saving it for later for about a split second, but then she nodded.
"Yeah," she said, trying and failing not to sound too eager. Remus chuckled rather nervously.
"Here you go , then," he said, handing her a small box wrapped in metallic green wrapping paper.
"It's not much, but I just thought it would suit you." Tonks gently ripped open the green wrapping paper to reveal a small red velvet box. Opening it, she gasped at the necklace inside. It was simple, yet beautiful. On a delicate, intricate chain, there was a small, shining pendant shaped like a raindrop, and set into the center of the raindrop was a glittering opal. Turning it different ways, the opal flashed different colors. "It's beautiful..."
"Like I said, it's not much, but--"
"Remus, this is more than enough. It's gorgeous. I love it." She carefully lifted it out of the box and handed it to him. She lifted her hair, and he fastened it around her neck. She glanced down, admiring the glitter of the necklace against her skin. "Thank you," she whispered, and then leaned forward and kissed him softly. He deepened the kiss, pulling her closer, and she complied happily. After a few happy minutes of snogging like hormonal teenagers, Tonks suddenly remembered that she hadn't given him his gift yet.
She sat up quickly, her hair tousled and her lips slightly puffy. "I almost forgot!" she said breathlessly. "You need your gift!"
Remus smiled. "This is a good enough gift right here," he joked.
"No, that was just me thanking you for the necklace," she said. "But if you like your gift, I wouldn't mind you thanking me in a similar way..."
He laughed as she hopped off the couch, pulling him up. "I'll bring you the first one, but you'll have to come see the second one." She ran into her room and grabbed the box that she had wrapped for him, entered back into the living room, and set it in his lap. "Here's the first one."
He unwrapped it to reveal the scarf and gloves. He beamed at her. "Thank you," he said. "I definitely needed some new ones...my old ones were rather worn."
Tonks waved a dismissive hand. "Well, that's kind of impersonal, so I got you something else...come into my room." She led him into her bedroom, and her heart pounding, pointed to the corner where she had arranged the ingredients for the Wolfsbane. His brow wrinkled, he stepped closer, stooping to pick up the potion book to read the page that she had left it open at. Still looking confused, he inspected the ingredients. Suddenly, it dawned on him, and he stood up to face her.
"Oh, Nymphadora..." he said, half-smiling. "You don't have to do that for me."
"Of course I do," she said, blushing slightly. "You honestly don't want Snape making it, do you?"
He laughed. "Well, no...but really. This is so much work, and--"
"You think that you're not worth it?" she said defiantly. "Because you are. You definitely are. I'm willing to do it for you. I want to do it for you."
He stared at her for moment, an odd look on his face, and then he suddenly stepped forward and pulled her into a hug. "Thank you so much," he mumbled into her shoulder. "Really. You don't know how much this means to me."
"So do you like your gift?" she asked. "You aren't afraid that I'll mess up and kill you or something?"
"Of course not!" he replied, relinquishing his grasp on her. "I have total faith in you."
"Okay, good," she said relieved. "Don't worry, I'll read over everything carefully, I'll get it just right, I promise--"
"Nymphadora, I trust you," he said. She was so happy that she forgot to tell him not to call her by her given name.
Suddenly, she stepped forward, an impish smile on her face. "Well, since you like it...I think a certain thanks is in order?"
He grinned at her. "Certainly," he said, meeting her lips once again. She sighed happily, unable to think of anyone else who she would rather be spending her Christmas with. This was definitely a very happy Christmas.
A/N Okay, so I kind of updated this chapter a bit, took a few parts out, edited some stuff...so it's nothing big, just perfecting the chapter a bit!