By: Amy Elizabeth
Disclaimer: All things relating to Harry Potter are the sole property of J.K. Rowling. No infringement or financial gain is intended.
She had told herself she could wait until little closer to Christmas time; just to see how much she could take before she cracked. Surely she had the self-control to wait out seven weeks. Yet, now, there were five weeks to go and Nymphadora Tonks had decided she had had enough.
More than enough.
Way too much.
Which is why she found herself here.
Magical Law Enforcement.
As she stepped into the office she waved at Kingsley where he was talking to an older man across the room. She then immediately began searching over the lines of cubicles spread throughout the large room until her eyes settled on the one she had come to find.
Third aisle from the left, five down.
She had seen him several times over the past year, at lunch, in the lift, around the Auror office when he had come to talk to someone or other. He was an…attractive man, young, broad shouldered, self-assured. According to Kingsley, he was quite capable at his job and, according to the office gossip, quite capable in…other ways.
Yet, Tonks had never really given Higden much thought. So, when she had started seeing more and more of him; from his well-timed run-ins with her in the Atrium, to his sudden appearances when she took a break, and his new need to "say hello" as he passed her cubicle when he came by her office more and more often, she had barely noticed.
That is she hadn't noticed until that fateful day two weeks ago when she caught wind of a little conversation about his…interest in her. Then she had taken notice. And decided to act. She started shooting coy glances when she ran into him, casually touched his hand when he stopped by her cubicle, extended their "hellos" whenever she could.
She had him right where she wanted him and today; today it would all come out in the open.
The back of his blonde head was bent over a stack of paper work. With uncharacteristic quietness she snuck up behind him.
And Mad-Eye told me I lacked stealth.
She stopped suddenly just behind his chair.
"Ahem." She smiled as he jerked his head up from his paperwork at the sound of her voice, "I was wondering if you had a moment."
"Of course." His eyes widened as he spun his chair around to face her at the entrance of his cubicle, "What can I help you with, Ny—Tonks?" He winked; proud that he remembered her preferred name so quickly.
She winked back. He knows me so well.
"You can call me Nymphadora, if you like," she hoped the seductive tone of her voice distracted him from her instinctive wince at the sound of her given name, "I don't mind it so much when you say it."
His grin became slowly more self-confident, "Alright, Nymphadora, what can I help you with? Though," he smiled, "if you just came to talk, I wouldn't mind."
She perched herself against the edge of his desk, legs stretched out dangerously close to his and she bent herself over slightly to bring her face just barely higher than level with him, "Well, I do have a question. But this is a purely social visit."
The strained "Hmm?" that she got in response made it worth her efforts.
"In fact, I was wondering if you," she playfully rubbed his hand and drew her finger up to his arm, "would like to go to dinner?"
His face, now sporting a truly self-satisfied smirk, suddenly came much closer to hers, "I would love to, Nymphadora."
Though she had never hated hearing her name more, she slipped into an easy grin, "Before we do, just so I can be sure to," she paused meaningfully, "please, what's your type?"
A slightly puzzled frown formed on his brow, "What do you mean?"
She laughed lightly, "Type, Augustine. Blonde? Brunette? I mean, I don't think I've ever met a man who preferred pink. Its just what I like," She fingered a lock of her hair,
"I'd be willing to change it, for you." She leaned even closer and let her leg rest against his, "You know, I can be whatever you want me to be."
His face was positively red, his breathing had increased in both volume and speed but, with an admirable effort, he controlled his voice enough to get out, "Well, the pink is a little…off-setting, and I do tend towards blondes. You know the type, I'm sure; blue eyes, and with rather large…." He paused, obviously hopeful she'd get the picture without the graphic details.
Chuckling at his somewhat abashed expression, she bit her lip, "Its ok, Augustine, I know what you mean and yes, I can do that." She leaned in a few centimeters closer, letting her grin get a little cheekier, "Would you like a preview?" She smiled suggestively and at his nod she rubbed her leg against his calf, "Close your eyes and when you open them I'll be exactly what you want."
The expression on his face was all she needed to see. She bent closer bringing her lips firmly against his. He started for a second before reaching to pull her closer.
She murmured against his lips.
"What?" He stopped and pulled back and promptly froze.
She smiled at his open mouthed shock at the sight of her, "I said, Constant Vigilance."
"Mad-Eye! She changed her face into Mad-Eye!" Kingsley let out a chuckle, "You all should have been there to see his reaction! If I had been thinking I would have brought a camera."
"That blue eye of his is pretty mesmerizing. I was just trying to please." She grinned cheekily at the members of the Order of the Phoenix that had remained following the evening meeting. Empty butterbeer bottles littered the table alongside left over plates from dinner.
"I knew I was proud to call you family!" Sirius thumped her soundly on the back, "I am impressed, Tonks, truly impressed."
She grimaced, "I would have preferred to not have kissed him at all but," she smiled guiltily, "the effect wouldn't have been so dramatic. And I will say, I'm pretty proud of myself, I didn't think I could manage being coy for that long. I thought I would fall off his desk."
Kingsley downed the last of his butterbeer, "At least you don't have to worry about anymore bets in that office."
"Bets?" Remus' voice cut off her response. He had been curiously quiet throughout Kingsley's recounting of her afternoon exploits and she hadn't failed to notice he didn't laugh with nearly the gusto of Sirius or Kingsley.
"I heard about a little bet Higden made with some of the men on the floor." She could feel her cheeks redden, "About how easy it would be to get me to morph into…" she shrugged, "what he wanted. He bet that he could do it before Christmas. I was planning on seeing how long, and what, he would try. But, after a few days, I decided I wanted to end his advances sooner and," she grinned, "have a little fun embarrassing the prat myself."
Kingsley gave another deep laugh and stood, "Well, I'm going to head home and get some sleep. It's been an eventful day. I'll be sure to slip this story to a few more of our colleagues tomorrow." He fastened his traveling cloak, "Thanks again, Tonks, for giving me a heads up. I would have hated to miss that scene. Goodnight Sirius, Remus." He gave one more grin before disappearing into the corridor.
As soon as the tall wizard left the room Sirius was on his feet, "I need another drink, anyone else?" Sirius glanced between Tonks and Remus before ambling to the cupboards. Once alone, Tonks decided to risk a quick glance at Remus.
Immediately, she wished she hadn't.
She had been hoping for some amusement; after all it was a pretty good prank. She'd even been prepared for a little disappointment for her admittedly childish behavior; even though she had heard stories about him that didn't begin to allow him any high moral horses to sit on.
She hadn't been prepared for the blazing anger that suffused every feature on his normally calm and composed face.
"I need to keep reminding myself not to mess with you. The pink hair and sweet face are misleading." Sirius, suddenly cutting the tension in the room without even having acknowledged it, deposited himself back besides Tonks at the head of the table. Having decided to forgo a tumbler, he took a sip directly from the wine bottle.
She smiled at him, though with much less enthusiasm than a few minutes ago, "I should sincerely hope you do remember that, cousin, because, family or not, I'll hex you with the best of them."
Sirius let out hearty laugh and saluted her with his bottle before tossing back another gulp, "Though, in a family like ours, it might be a better idea to hex me because I'm family instead of in spite of it."
"You have a point there." She rolled her eyes at his cheeky look and returned to sipping her butterbeer, stalwartly avoiding eye contact with the other side of the table.
"Did he really ask for big…you knows, or was Kingsley exaggerating?" She jerked her head towards her cousin at the unexpected shift in conversation.
"Kingsley got the details shockingly correct, actually." She blushed, "He has an amazing memory."
"I just with he had a camera with him, I would have loved to see it." Sirius grinned and turned towards his friend, "Imagine, Remus, kissing Tonks and then opening your eyes to Mad-Eye! I'd have a heart attack right there."
"Well," she suddenly, and inexplicably, felt even more extremely uncomfortable, "I will be glad when we start forgetting about it. I mean," she gave a frustrated huff, "it was a good prank and really funny in the end but," she made a sour face, "I would prefer not having solid evidence that I kissed that prat. It was a really was just a disgusting necessity."
"All for the greater good, huh?" Sirius then abruptly stood, unsteadily but still grinning, and made his way towards the door Kingsley had exited minutes before, "And for the greater good of all of us, I'm going to go to bed before I'm unable to make it there on my own." He gave another mock salute before ducking out the door.
"For once!" Tonks shouted at his retreating figure as the door swung shut.
In that instant she realized, for the first time since she had walked into Headquarters all those months ago, she was alone with Remus Lupin and distinctly uncomfortable about it.
That wasn't entirely true, she corrected, she'd been uncomfortable alone with him before. However, that had been in a more pleasant, stomach twisting, palms sweating, kind of anticipation than in this horrible, tense silence that filled the room.
She glanced at the sink, at the cupboards, the door, the table. She looked everywhere she could think before finally giving up and acknowledging that there was another living occupant of the room.
He didn't seem to notice. Instead, he looked a million miles away and very, very tense.
"I didn't like flirting with him." She immediately took a sharp breath as the words left her mouth. She hadn't meant to blurt that out but she was suddenly glad the ball was in his court.
"And I hate how he says Nymphadora." That should at least get a chuckle.
Come on, Remus. Please, say something.
"I figured." His voice was tight, "If he knew you at all he would have known you were lying right then."
"Good thing he's barely ever spoken to me." She was ridiculously pleased to get even this small reaction from him, "Otherwise my cover would have been blown." She gave a sly grin; he loved making a joke about how much she hated her name.
Instead, a nod was all she received in response. She watched his fingers tighten and relax against the neck of his bottle. A muscle jumped under his jaw and his eyes were hard.
Her mouth opened of its own accord, "I don't want you to be angry with me."
She jumped out of her chair a little at her own words. How was I able to be so together this afternoon and so utterly incapable of keeping anything to myself tonight?
"Angry? With you? " He looked up, genuinely surprised, "why would I be…"
"Its just that I…" she swallowed, "I flirted with…kissed, someone…"
Shut-up Nymphadora Tonks! Why would he care that she…that she had? She felt like an idiot, assuming that he was jealous, that her kissing another man would offend him. It wasn't like he had tried to lay any claim. But he seemed so furious, so…
"I want to strangle him myself." The admission was so soft she wasn't entirely sure he had said anything at all. Her heartbeat was suddenly incredibly loud.
"Why? I mean, it was just a stupid bet," she almost reached over to grab his hand off his bottle but stopped herself half way across, "It's taken care of. Its not like it hasn't…"
He gripped his bottle to the point she was afraid it might snap.
She gave a nervous laugh, "It's happened before once or twice, you know…boys." She suddenly giggled at herself, "I mean the requests have happened before, not kissing people as Mad-Eye." She cocked her head a little in thought, "They always seem to prefer the blondes; at least the ones who are willing to make requests seem to. I keep up these bright colors for my own enjoyment. I mean pink, what self-respecting man prefers a girlfriend with pink hair?" Surely that would get a little laugh.
What was going on? It had been funny, she'd changed into Mad-Eye mid-kiss to get back at a prat of a co-worker. It wasn't anything to get angry at…
Her sudden realization hit her hard enough that she was glad she was sitting.
He was angry for her.
The thought sent fireworks straight through her body.
"Remus," she gently touched his hand, prying it off his bottle, and holding it with hers, "Thank you. I really am fine though. He didn't hurt my feelings or anything. Really." She smiled gently at him and released his hand.
He searched her eyes and she could see some of the tension drain from his body, "Good." He smiled back at her, a little looser than before, "Well, I think I might retire myself. It's getting pretty late."
"I'll follow you to the front door." She grinned at him as he vanished their bottles and helped her to her feet.
They made the quick trip to the front door in much more comfortable silence. While her heartbeat had become slightly less riotous she couldn't keep the warm smile off her face as she dared to let herself think a little about the implications of his reaction. As she finished fastening her cloak, she grabbed his hand and gave it a quick squeeze, "Thank you again." Her stomach did a little twist at his light laugh.
"It was a great prank, Tonks." His eyes twinkled down on her.
She grinned, "I thought so. But," she leaned in conspiratorially, "we'll see how Mad-Eye feels when he finds out."
He chuckled a little harder at that and held the door open so she could descend the stairs out of the house.
Pleased that she had navigated the evening fairly well, she prepared to step into the street to Apparate back to her flat, but just before the turned she faintly heard his voice from the doorway,
"I prefer pink."
A/N: I'm sure this story is incredibly similar to some others out there, but this particular take on the early Remus/Tonks days has been bugging me for a while. I apologize if I've stepped on anyone's toes.