Written for Metamorphic Moon's Winter Wonderland Advent on LiveJournal with the prompts bells and Judy Garland's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". It's a little late for Christmas over here, but we can be festive in January, right?
Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling - I'm just borrowing it. Poorly :)
Sitting on the old worn out chair in the Weasley's family room on Christmas Eve listening to Celestina Warbeck butcher wizarding and muggle cover songs alike, Remus couldn't help but think back to Christmas Eve the previous year and about how much his life had been turned upside down since then. He hadn't been in hiding or miserable, was eating three square meals a day at Grimmauld Place, Sirius had been alive, and Tonks… he and Tonks went on their first date Christmas Eve last year; drinks at the Three Broomsticks.
Remus wasn't sure if he was supposed to have taken Tonks literally or metaphorically.
Earlier in the week he had taken the plunge and asked her to go out for drinks with him. It wasn't a date to her, just drinks between friends – but to Remus it was an earth shattering, room spinning, sweaty hands event. He liked her quite a bit; quite a bit more than he was willing to admit to himself or his escaped convict best mate. She seemed to occupy his thoughts throughout the day whether it was thinking what her hair colour would be when they next met, or the quirkiness that she wouldn't drink her tea unless she had stirred it four and a half times. He was drawn to her multi leveled sense of humour as she could trade good natured jibes with Sirius, giggle with Ginny, and exchange witty remarks with Mad Eye – the girl could get along with anyone. Remus had even seen Severus come ever-so-close to a grin when he heard Tonks telling an anecdote about a transfiguration mishap she witnessed at work where a wizard had turned his wife into a horse and he said that at least she now had reason to be a nag. Tonks did have quite the way with words which was how Remus got in the dilemma he was facing currently.
Remus was sitting in the Three Broomsticks, wondering if he was in for more than he could handle. She had agreed to go out with him. In fact, her exact words were "I'll be there with bells on!"
She wouldn't really, would she?
He had once seen a blue haired Tonks enter a tickle fight with Sirius and come out a pink haired Tonks to which she explained, much to the groans of Remus and Sirius, that she was tickled pink. One morning, he asked her how she was and she responded that she was bright eyed and bushy tailed and to prove it her eyes began to sparkle and her hair morphed to resemble a squirrel's tail.
Actual bells? In public? No one in their right mind would walk around wearing that in public.
Remus' lips began to curl up into a smile and he shook his head. No one in their right mind would, but Nymphadora Tonks certainly might. One of the things that he (loved) liked most about her was her self confidence and assurance. She liked who she was, faults and all, and if you didn't like it she wasn't going to change just to please you. Remus took a sip of his pint. He'd simply have to wait to see.
Chimes jingled as the doorway to the Three Broomsticks was pushed open and with a Tonks tripped in, aided by a convenient gust of wind and snow. She spotted Remus in his booth, kicked some of the snow off her boots and wandered over to him. As she took off her jacket and sat down, Remus gave a sigh of relief.
Although, she was wearing a Christmas jumper that could only be described as loud, there were no bell attachments. It was scarlet with a large green Christmas tree on it complete with flashing multi-coloured baubles for ornaments, but nothing that made audible noise.
"What?" Tonks was watching Remus look at her jumper, with a peculiar look in her eye – something that Remus had never seen in Tonks before. Was it hesitation? Why would the girl who could walk around in public sprouting animal parts from her face be concerned with a friend looking at her clothing?
"It's just – your jumper. It wasn't quite what I was expecting." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he wished that he could take it back. That's not at all what he wanted to start their night with; an implication that he thought her shirt was ugly. He opened his mouth to attempt to start talking himself out of his goof, when…
"It's Christmas Eve. I'm wearing a Christmas jumper. What were you expecting - bunny ears?"
A chuckle escaped from Remus' open mouth. "No, not at all, Nymphadora. I had been having a discussion with myself about what you would be wearing this evening. Knowing you, I knew that would be in the festive spirit, I had simply been wondering how far you would go." Tonks' head tilted to the side with a quizzical look on her face. "When I had asked you to join me for drinks, you said that you would be here…"
"…with bells on." Tonks finished smiling and began to laugh. Remus loved Tonks' laugh. It would start as a small chuckle and spread throughout her body and into the bodies of everyone around her like wildfire. Within seconds, the two of them were laughing uncontrollably in their booth with the other patrons looking at them as if they had far too much of Rosemerta's egg nog. As they calmed down, Tonks said "Well, I am currently sans bells, but I do think that one of us is inappropriately dressed for such a holiday."
Before Remus could argue his lack to Christmas apparel, Tonks pulled out her wand and Remus felt something appear on his head. Shifting his eyes up, he could see something coming out of the top of his head. "Tonks, have you given me antlers?" He suddenly had a flashback to his student days of Hogwarts in the dormitory of when James had first been learning to be an animagus and he had accidently given himself antlers that he couldn't remove. He also couldn't fit his head through the door and McGonagall had to come to Gryffindor tower and repair the damage herself, after Sirius had convinced her that it was a dueling mishap. Partial human – animal transfigurations never went well.
"Of course not. They are similar to the kind muggles wear as fancy dress. I could give you a red nose as well if you really wanted the full Rudolph ensemble, though."
"No, I'm happy with these. Thanks for the offer though."
Remus and Tonks slipped into comfortable conversation for the rest of the evening, whether it be laughing at Hestia's attempt to brighten up the elf heads at Grimmauld Place, and trying to put Christmas garland on Kreacher as he protested the "defacing of his ancestors and the ancient house of Black", or comparing to see who had gotten Dumbledore the best gift: Tonks' lemon snow cone kit verus Remus' book on knitting socks. As it got late, Remus and Tonks left the pub and walked out into the street where the wind had died down and snow was falling gently around them.
"It really seems calm and peaceful, doesn't it?" whispered Tonks. Remus looked around and couldn't help but agree with her. The houses looked quiet; families were safe, together and happy. With the Ministry denying the return of Voldemort, most were unaware of the building storm in their world. Remus wondered where they all would be a year from now: still oblivious or living in fear. The two choices didn't offer him much hope. How could he have been so nervous with asking Tonks out on a date when there was so many other more important things going on in the world around. Perhaps, he should push the Tonks thoughts out of his mind and devote himself to the cause. This would be a horrible time to pursue a relationship. Remus turned towards Tonks to wish her a good night when he heard a jingling come from behind him.
He spun around to find nothing. The jingling had stayed behind him and he turned once again, straight into a giggling Tonks. She pointed a gloved hand above his head. Looking up, he caught a glimpse of his antlers and saw something shiny.
Tonks said "You were looking a little too maudlin for Christmas Eve, so I added a little something to the antlers." There were bells fixed to his muggle reindeer antlers. "Now at least one of us is here with bells on." she finished. She looked at Remus and smiled shyly, "I've had a very lovely date. I've been hoping that you'd ask me out for ages".
The room spinning sensation was back, which Remus found odd considering their outdoors location. Never in his right mind had he thought that Tonks would actually like him in return, though it had popped up in a quite a few dream sequences now and then. Maybe he could manage to fight and explore this thing with Tonks. Multi tasking dating and saving the world couldn't be too difficult, could it?
Holding out his hand, Remus asked, "Fancy a nightcap at Grimmauld Place?" and with that, Tonks placed her hand in his, smiled up at him and apparated them both away.
One year later and, as Remus had predicted, the wizarding world was living in fear of both the known and the unknown. Remus had broken things off with Tonks to focus on the job – a dreadful now for a safer tomorrow, though sitting at the Weasley's makes him question his motives. He can see them together, a happy family, making the best of things while they are also being targeted in the war, making sacrifices but sticking together. Should he have tried to do this with Tonks? No. His heart ached with missing her, but he knows that by doing it this way, he is keeping her at least a little bit safer for a little while longer. The war cannot last forever. Perhaps someday soon they will be together, but until then, they'll just have to muddle through it somehow. Remus looked out the window and whispered a quiet "Happy Christmas, Tonks" and then turns to join the mounting discussion behind him about the loyalty of one Severus Snape. This is where he is needed most right now. Alone in a war.