"Hey, Sirius? You home?" Tonks called, as she and Remus passed Mrs. Black's portrait and entered the living room of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.
"Where else would I be?" Sirius said darkly, coming down the stairs. He looked confused as he glanced from Tonks to Lupin. "You two are back early. What's going on?"
"Congratulations, Padfoot," Remus said wearily. "Twelve years in Azkaban and you still remember what the full moon does to me." And he gave a hoarse cough.
Sirius' eyes widened. "Bloody hell, Moony. I knew you were sick!"
"If you knew," Tonks said in admonishment. "Then why did you let him out of the house?"
"Hey, don't blame me," Sirius said, raising his hands in a gesture of surrender. "This git is the one always denying that there's anything wrong with him. Do you know how much James and I would have to persuade him to visit Madam Pomfrey when he looked like death?"
Tonks shook her head in disbelief. "All right, let's get this 'noble git' to bed. Would you mind making some tea with honey?"
"No problem, Tonks. Have fun in bed," he added with a wink.
Remus held back a laugh as Tonks took out her wand and pointed it at his friend. "One more crack like that, and I'm doing Ginny's Bat-Bogey Hex on you. All right, come on, Remus."
Remus savored the feel of Tonks' arm around his back, as they walked upstairs to his room. He couldn't believe she was willing to take care of him after he ruined what was supposed to be their first date.
"Tonks, you really don't have to do this for me. I'm sorry I—Hekshoo! Hekshuh!" He sneezed loudly, turning away from Tonks. "Excuse me. I'm sorry for ruining the night."
"Bless you," Tonks said. "And I thought I told you to quit the noble act. There's nothing to be sorry for, everyone gets sick, you know." She walked over to Remus' bed and handed him his pajamas. "Now change."
Remus laughed. "Yes, Nymphadora."
"You're lucky you're sick, or I'd smack you for using that hideous name," she said, stepping out of the room and shutting the door.
"OK, Tonks. I'm decent now," Remus called after a few moments. Tonks walked in, carrying a steaming cup of tea and a box of tissues. Sitting down on Remus' bed, she held the cup gently as Remus sipped from it, wincing slightly from the piping hot liquid.
"Maybe I should cool this," Tonks mused, tapping the cup with her wand. She put it on the nightstand and gently brushed Remus' hair off his forehead. "So, now that you don't have to pretend anymore…you want to tell me how you're really feeling?"
Remus lay back and sighed. "Bloody miserable," he said, rubbing at his nose with a handkerchief. "My head hurts, my throat is sore, and I constantly feel like I have to sneeze. And I'm tired as hell."
"Aww, Remus," Tonks murmured sympathetically, continuing to stroke his hair. "I feel awful for giving you my cold."
"No, it wasn't your fault. I told you, the full moon kills my immune system."
"Still, let me take care of you. I know I'm clumsy, but I promise not to spill chicken soup on you."
Remus grinned, truly amazed at what a lovely girl Tonks was. He couldn't remember the last time someone took such good care of him. "Thank you, Tonks. You're just…you're incredible."
Tonks blushed, her face turning almost as red as her hair. "Nah, I'm all right," she said with a small laugh. Giving Remus a tentative look, she leaned forward, and for a moment Remus thought they were going to kiss, but his bad luck made itself known once more, as his nose gave another sharp twinge.
"Heh…hih…heh!" Remus held his handkerchief at the ready, waiting for the sneeze to come out. The tickle backed off, but just as he was about to put away the handkerchief, it came back and he sneezed wetly: "Etshoo! Hakishoo! Hetshuhh! Oh God…excuse me…Hareshoo!"
"Bless you!" Tonks exclaimed. "Wow, that cold needs some Pepper-Up right away. I'll get some in Diagon Alley first thing tomorrow."
Remus blew his nose and took a few breaths, recovering from the forceful sneezes. "Pepper-Up would be amazing," he said. "But you had to get through your cold without it, so I feel like it wouldn't be fair to let me off the hook."
Tonks rolled her eyes and laughed. "Listen, I think the fact that you turn into a wolf every month more than makes up for this!"
"Fair enough," Remus said with a grin. He drank some more tea and yawned.
"OK, Remus. I reckon I should let you get some rest now," Tonks said, getting up from the bed. "Try to sleep, all right? I know it's kind of hard with a cold, but try."
Remus smiled and nodded. "Thank you, Healer Tonks."
"My pleasure," Tonks replied, blushing again. She seemed to hesitate, but then leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek. "Don't worry," she added. "We will manage to have a proper date. Eventually."
She left the room, turning off the lights, which was lucky for Remus because the darkness hid his enormous grin. Turning on his side, he fell asleep, thinking that maybe this time, the timing was on his side after all.