A/N: Hello everyone! I haven't written a Remus/Tonks in a while as my muse left me for another woman but we're back together now and but thought we'd announce it for Christmas. I have some other stuff planned, which I hope to post soon. Hope this one's okay, I've asked Santa for some reviews for Christmas, so please let me know what you think.
Rated for a couple of teeny swear words in the middle.
Disclaimer: Miss Rowling wouldn't give me her characters, plots and settings for Christmas but she said I could borrow them instead. Seriously though, I don't own them but I wish I did. I also do not own the songs 'Warm This Winter' or 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)'.
Not Exactly Mistletoe and Mulled Wine
'We met in the winter, and we fell in love'
Tonks half-hummed, half-sang the next Christmas song in her repertoire.
"The snow's coming dooo-own, I'm watchin' it fall, lots of people around, baby please come hooo-ome."
She'd been saving this particular one for when she really began to feel gloomy, at least if she sang about snow falling and having lots of great company she could pretend that the rain weren't pelting down on their less than satisfactory shelter and that she wasn't spending Christmas Eve on an Order assignment with only Kingsley Shacklebolt for company. It wasn't that Kingsley wasn't a top bloke or anything, just that she hadn't really envisaged spending the 24th December pressed uncomfortably close to his right side, her back against a very cold, wooden wall – if you could call it that. She wriggled her toes in her black boots, stripy stocks just poking out above them where she'd tucked her jeans in. Her digits were all numb and stiff. She would have to defrost herself the moment she got home. That was, if she hadn't found herself cryogenically frozen by Boxing Day.
Kingsley scowled at her choice in music and Tonks smiled slightly.
"What would you rather we sat here in silence?" even Tonks knew her singing wasn't that bad.
Kingsley shook his head with a snort but nevertheless kept fidgeting and rolling up his many sleeves to check his watch. Tonks could easily sympathise with him when it came to feeling horrendously fat and constricted because of the number of layers she was wearing. She checked them off on her fingers (stout as they were in her two pairs of gloves): underwear, followed by vest-top and black tights, followed by t-shirt and jeans, followed by long sleeved top, followed by jumper, followed by coat and on her feet were two pairs of fluffy bed-type socks and, of course, her bulky, heavy lace up boots. Naturally, that was not forgetting her two pairs of gloves, thick scarf tripled over and huge hat that would make a Siberian jealous. She'd almost opted for the novelty Santa hat lying on her living room floor prior to resignedly quitting her cosy little flat, but had discarded it on the grounds that the bobble was something of a hindrance; always hitting her on the face and that, if Death Eaters did suddenly attack from all angles, she rather felt it would not give off the correct image of independence, poise and strength were they to find their opposition to be a chubby-looking, immobile girl in a Santa hat. That and, if she died in battle against said Death Eaters, she wouldn't want her picture in the Daily Prophet to be in the offending red and white garment. That would look horrendous out of context and would only be a source of ridicule.
Suddenly, the whole wooden structure shook tremendously as a gust of wind nearly pushed them a few feet forwards – really, couldn't the Order of the Phoenix have done better than a few square feet of thin wood to house its poor, weather beaten members on a night such as this? She raised herself up on her arms to peer out of one of the small holes in the wood that were designed to be 'constantly looked through' to check they hadn't been surrounded or something just as ridiculous. In reality, it was too cold to stand up with your eye pressed to the wood all night and all the gaps served to do was let even more cold air in.
Kingsley checked his watch yet again. He had been there many hours longer than Tonks had and was due to finish his shift earlier than her – he'd be swapping over with someone who would see the remainder of the night out with Tonks.
"No more Christmas songs?" Kingsley enquired in his deep voice as the two of them fell silent.
"I can't think of any more," she replied, grinning. She had sung every single one she could think of, many of them twice or more, but Kingsley had pretended not to notice in much the same way he'd done when she'd forgotten some of the words and had resorted to senseless, tune-conforming noises instead. They both huddled further into their coats and Kingsley muttered that if the cold didn't get him soon then the boredom would certainly kill him. In reply, Tonks gave a sarcastic thanks that the company wasn't up to scratch. He grinned apologetically,
"You know what I mean," he insisted and she nodded.
"I'm going to think about what everyone else I know is doing," she began grandly, speaking over Kingsley's protests that that would only make him even more depressed. "That way I can pretend I'm there, instead of here,"
"So, my mum and dad will be inside by the fire. Mum will have prepared Christmas dinner for everyone and dad will have insisted that the TV goes on – mum hates all the Muggles' different entertainment but dad wouldn't be without it. So they'll argue over what to watch and in the end, dad will turn it off and they'll talk to each other about Christmas' gone by, like when I was little," she smiled, and noticed that Kingsley was too. "It's amazing really, isn't it, how Christmas Eve and Day are both like any other two days because you do the same things as normal but you just feel so much happier with life and you're that little bit more grateful for the things you have and glad that you have somebody to love."
Kingsley nodded again. Tonks knew by now that Kingsley didn't often use words if they weren't necessary but she was sure that he would be thinking about his family. She'd only met his wife once but knew that he was as devoted as anyone could be to her and their two daughters. It warmed her heart a little (but not her feet) to think how much he must want to get back to them.
"And most of my friends," she went on absently, "will probably be getting absolutely rat-arsed right about now," she laughed and went to continue but was cut off by a shrill beeping noise. "What in the name of Merlin is that?" she grumbled and Kingsley grinned apologetically,
"Got one of those Muggle watches," he said sheepishly, turning it off, "they're surprisingly accurate – my alarm spells never did keep time," he smiled and made to get up – a feat which took a long time in itself as he'd been sitting in that position for hours.
Tonks smiled at him from where she was huddled.
"Merry Christmas Kingsley, have a great day with your family,"
"You too Tonks," he said with an altogether not too innocent smile, "although I won't wish it on you too soon," he laughed and she eyed him suspiciously. "You do know that my replacement is Mundungus, don't you?" he asked, "I'm sure you'll have fun," he added, swinging himself out the door with a deep, bubbling laugh, leaving Tonks to seriously contemplate suicide; maybe, if she made it look like a tragic accident in the face of a Death Eater onslaught she'd even get a posthumous Order of Merlin or something.
She wrapped her arms around herself, praying that 'Dung wasn't drunk or that, if he was, he'd brought some Firewhisky with him.
But then, the reality hit her.
She was going to see Christmas Day in with Mundungus bloody Fletcher.
Oh bollocks – shit – cock – hell – and – all – that – is – holy.
It was official: she wasn't even past her mid-twenties yet and her life was over.
Why must she always end up with such rotten luck? It wasn't fair, she thought as she pouted and rested her chin on her knees, preparing to enjoy festering in the quagmire of self pity for the duration of the shift. Then, she heard voices. Not the scary Death Eater type though.
Kingsley was still outside and was laughing.
"Late? That's not like you at all, what happened?" Tonks heard a voice reply but the words were carried away on the wind. Either way though, she assumed the sarcasm had been lost on 'Dung.
There was more laughter, followed by well-wishes of 'Merry Christmas' before she detected a barely audible pop as Kingsley Disapparated.
The door creaked open, letting in a gust of wind and leaves with it, along with a silhouette that slid in otherwise silently, plonking itself next to her, taking no great care to give her personal space its deserved reverence.
"Hey 'Dung," she said gloomily,
"'Right?" came the sullen-sounding reply.
Well, this was going to be fun.
After a very long, awkward silence, Tonks began a babbling soliloquy to fill the gap in conversation, muttering about anything that had happened to her that day.
"...so then I said to Moody..." she began before a thought occurred to her, "wait, shouldn't you have checked who I was – to make sure I wasn't a Death Eater in disguise?" she asked.
Beside her 'Dung seemed to shake and at first she thought he was shivering but then she realised he was quaking in silent laughter.
"Shouldn't you have checked who I was, to make sure I wasn't a Death Eater in disguise?" an altogether unexpected voice asked, still chortling.
Her head shot up from her knees and she found herself face to face with one Remus Lupin, his eyes shining jovially in the dark, hair falling into his face. She blushed furiously, remembering her earlier ramblings, but tried nonetheless to hide how pleased she was to see him (and not just because he was not Mundungus Fletcher).
"Remus Lupin, you absolute bastard," she cried and hit him hard on the harm and they laughed together for a moment. Now his pretence at being Mundungus was over he stopped leaning on her arm, but did not shuffle further away, so that their sides were still touching.
Suddenly, her Christmas Eve was shaping up.
"Aren't you going to ask why I'm not Mundungus?" he asked,
"No," she answered firmly, "never look a gift horse in the mouth, Remus," she said solemnly and he laughed again. She loved to hear that sound, it wasn't something they heard often enough during the group Order Meetings at Grimmauld Place, although he seemed to have laughs aplenty for when they were on missions together (and that was all the time, because they were Order partners). So, did that mean he thought something of her...that he enjoyed her company...? Perhaps it did but, being as closed as he was, she could only speculate – and hope, of course. And hope she did, all the time actually. Even when she slept she was hoping; that was a fact that was reflected in the dreams she had – he was always there.
"Well he's feeling a little worse for wear, shall we say," Remus offered anyway, with a small smile on his face.
"Bit too much Christmas cheer?" she asked and he nodded. "And you said you'd fill in," she said happily,
"Well, duty calls," he sighed, earning him another punch in the arm. "But it was no trouble really, I didn't want you to sit it out here on your own," he said and she felt a silly grin threaten to spread over her face, but knew it was probably the least attractive thing in the entirety of the world so suppressed it.
"So you came here," she replied,
"So I came here," he answered,
"Even though it's freezing cold and raining?"
"Even though it's freezing cold and raining."
"Even though it's Christmas Eve and you could be spending it with the others?"
"Because it's Christmas Eve and I can spend it with you."
She looked sideways at him and saw him dip his head in a bashful smile.
She hated to admit it, but he always looked pretty adorable when he went all shy. He couldn't seem to help that little dip of the head every time that he said something nice to her and that was something that happened quite a lot. He was just that sort of person. Tonks had to confess that when she had first been paired with Remus for Order duty she had been a little disappointed. She hadn't thought that they would get on at all and hadn't wanted either of them to be miserable in the other's company; they were none of them in the Order for fun and games but you couldn't fight on the right side of the war if you didn't feel the necessary camaraderie and friendship. But, she had been pleasantly surprised. She had gotten to know him pretty quickly as he was always with Sirius, whom she visited frequently, so the three of them would sit in front of the fire at Grimmauld place and share a pot of tea or, as their friendship progressed, a bottle of Firewhisky. And, on missions, they soon learned each other's modus operandi. They were much like a well-oiled machine for the best part and, on the rare occasions they had had to duel they worked together seamlessly, whilst on the less dangerous tasks such as the surveillance of Harry in the summer holidays or stakeouts their awkward silences and tendency to sit themselves as far apart as possible had weaved into laughter-filled conversations and comfortable I-know-you-so-well-I-don't-need-to-say-anything silences. They didn't find it uncomfortable anymore to be enclosed spaces and Tonks personally revelled in the feeling of their knees or arms touching. It hadn't taken long for her start developing a crush on Remus, and when it hadn't faded she hadn't been all that surprised. Even when she had found out he was a werewolf nothing had changed – only that her respect for him had increased twofold. He, who had seen the worst of the world, never failed to make hers a little brighter. He was charming, funny and genuine, not to mention handsome. Wasn't that what every woman wanted?
"So what were you saying to Moody then?" he asked playfully, picking up where she left off when she had thought she was speaking to Mundungus. She flushed again when she thought of her gabbling. Really, what must he think of her? It was one thing for her to reminisce over how she had fallen in love with him, if you could really call it love. More just that she had fallen for him because honestly, that's all it was, nothing more. But whatever it was, she saw him as wonderful and kind and honest and patient. She saw him as someone who would always be there for her even in the pouring rain on Christmas Eve, because that was just the type of man he was. But to him, she must have looked like a girl who wore outlandish clothes and had stupid coloured hair and acted much too young for her age. She must also have looked like someone who tripped over her words as often as she tripped over her feet. No matter what she told herself, she loved him for all he was worth but what in the name of Merlin was there of her to make him fall in love? Tonks had never been one for stories of love in any form, especially the unrequited type but she knew that she was living one. Remus Lupin was never going to choose a klutzy Metamorphmagus such as herself. But, she reminded herself, not only did rumour have it that wishes came true thanks to the magic of Christmas but even if they didn't Remus was here, his lean, warm frame resting gently against hers, a smile on his lips – he was happy to be with her and that was enough.
"Y'know, you can pretend to be in a far off world as much as you want, I still very much want to hear the end of your big speech," he smiled and she literally shook herself out of her thoughts with a small start. "Are you back with me?" he asked gently.
"Yeah," she murmured, "sorry, I'm a bit tired," the lie came easily to her.
"It sounds like you had a busy day," he hummed understandingly – yet another endearing feature of his.
"So, what would you be doing if you weren't here with me right now?"
"Oh, nothing special," he replied. "I was at Grimmauld this evening with Sirius, the Weasley's, some of the Order members and Harry and Hermione," she must have looked disappointed with her lot as he quickly went on, "but we weren't doing much. We were all in the living room by the fire – the boys were playing Chess and Sirius was drinking and singing," Remus smiled and the memory and Tonks knew that, if Sirius' normal form was anything to go by, it would truly be a sight to behold.
When her face fell again, he chuckled slightly; a low sound at the base of his throat.
"Jealous?" he asked teasingly
"Aren't you?" she asked
"Not at all," came the firm reply. "So we aren't warm and comfy, but, Nymphadora you're special to me and spending Christmas Eve with someone special is what's important isn't it? It doesn't matter where you are,"
Did he just...? Surely not. Did she just imagine that he had said she was special?
She didn't know what to say to him. She didn't want to assume anything, so didn't dwell too much on what she said.
"Thanks Remus," she smiled, "but all the same, it's not exactly mistletoe and mulled wine in here, is it? We're stuck in this godforsaken hut, occasionally peering out of a little hole in the wall," she grumbled and he laughed, the sound still huddled deep in the back of this throat. "I'm sorry you're missing out, Remus." She felt inexplicably guilty – he had said he had come here to keep her company and she knew the full moon had not long passed. He, more than anyone, deserved a night in front of the fire.
"Why should you be sorry, Nymphadora? I chose to be in the Order and I chose to come out here. The cold settling around my feet is entirely my own doing," he joked and she smiled. "Besides, what's Christmas but being with your friends? That's what I think of when I think of Christmas."
She peered around the gloomy little hut which was a spare few square metres small. "We could have at least decked this place," she mused aloud but, to her surprise he shook his head. "We could have had a little Christmas tree."
"Christmas trees make an awful mess," he offered, evidently trying to cheer her up.
"Yes, but they look and smell wonderful,"
"But, they're not a great symbol of Christmas because they die and that's something Christmas never does,"
"Artificial ones?" she said as though it were obvious,
"...take a lot of effort to assemble, even with magic," he finished her sentence for here.
"Hmph. Well don't tell me you're going to moan about snow or something then,"
"It melts – it disappears just like Christmas trees do, and it's slippy and dangerous," he said, obviously trying to suppress a grin.
"And what is that supposed to mean?" she asked in a tone of mock irritation, folding her arms over themselves across her chest and tried to banish the embarrassing memory of her going arse over teakettle at least six times in the first snowfall of the winter and him having to pick her up time after time.
"Nothing at all, Nymphadora," he said as innocently as possible.
"Well there's nothing bad about mulled wine or mead or eggnog," she went on firmly.
"Except the hang over,"
"Let me guess, you're doing this to wind me up now, aren't you?"
"Presents!" she cried, jabbing a threatening finger into his chest, "what about those, then?"
"Presents are lovely but they can cost a lot, are stressful to buy and you have to annually pretend to be excited about socks and ties,"
"Can't say I've ever had that issue,"
"I daresay you haven't and I shouldn't like to wish it upon you,"
"Well, everyone likes Christmas dinner, so there," she said, certain she'd beat him this time.
"Urm, Brussels Sprouts?" he pointed out and she knew he had her there.
"So you hate Christmas then, you miserable old Scrooge,"
"Bah Humbug," he said in agreement, before shaking his head. "No, actually. I love Christmas really," he amended and Tonks snorted slightly.
"You've got an odd way of showing it Mr. Lupin,"
"On the contrary, I love all the things like Christmas Trees, fairy lights and snow, I'm simply saying that, while they make Christmas all the more pleasurable, they're not essential to a person's enjoyment of spending the day with the people he or she loves the most," he smiled and she was forced to admit that he had a point, really.
Not one to be easily beaten though, she continued to think.
"Aha! I've got one, what about Mistletoe – the magical kind, the kind that doesn't die?"
"Ah," he began, obviously thinking, whilst pretending he was doing just the opposite. "Well you've got me there I suppose; what's not to like about mistletoe? I'm afraid it is a little dull here without any of that, quite the contrast to Grimmauld Place, where Sirius has gone, frankly, mistletoe crazy – he's trying his luck. Here..." he pointed his wand above their heads and some sprigs of mistletoe curled into life directly over them.
She sighed pointedly and narrowed her eyes at him.
"What?" he asked, confused.
"Don't think I don't know your trick, I have to kiss you now!" she said, rather thanking her lucky stars despite her tone of implied distaste.
He struck his thigh with his palm. "Damnit, you've seen right through me," he joked along and they smiled.
"Well, I'm not about to break with tradition now," she assured him and craned her neck up to kiss him on the cheek. She heard him draw in a breath suddenly and felt him freeze. She allowed her lips to linger on his cheek for much longer than was appropriate for a friendly peck, her heart thudding loudly in her chest. He did not move so, resignedly, she began to move her face away but, as she turned her head her lips accidentally brushed his. A little shock passed through her, which mixed pleasurably with the chill on the back of her neck from a wayward breeze. Before she knew what was happening he captured her lips in his and kissed her, his soft lips firm but insistent. She didn't really believe that this was happening, it was clearly another of her dreams, but she didn't exactly feel in any hurry to wake up.
His right hand found her raised knee and his thumb stroked the skin above it through her two layers of clothing and Tonks had never believed such a soft, simple gesture could carry so much love and passion. It caused little shivers to run up her leg and made her smile against his lips. It was the thing that convinced her that this was real and that, in the words of Muggle popstar Mariah Carey, when she had decided that 'all she wanted for Christmas was you' (or more accurately Remus Lupin) her Christmas wish had come true.
His lips pressed a little more insistently against hers, a small moan creeping from him. She sighed against him and leant closer, finally (for the first time that night) feeling herself warm up as the heat of their bodies mingled together.
However, it was at this moment that they were interrupted by a sudden light permeating their closed eyelids. As the jerked apart, slightly ruffled and breathless they both glanced towards its source and startled. Floating ethereally through the door was a pearly white phoenix. When it spoke, the light-hearted tone of Albus Dumbledore.
"Nymphadora," – she winced – "and, so I'm told, Remus, I hear you're still braving the elements to try and catch out our friends the Death Eaters, but I think it's high time we relieved you. Even the Death Eaters have homes to go to." Tonks could imagine his bright blue eyes twinkling as he dictated to his Patronus from wherever he was. "I don't want you spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning stranded out there, I want you both head back home and have a very Merry Christmas," the phoenix finished and seemed to evaporate. Tonks thanked her lucky starts twice – firstly because she could go home and secondly because the Patronus could not pass on sights to its sender, so Dumbledore wouldn't have seen her and Remus...well the way they had been.
She glanced over and saw Remus smiling beside her, he met her gaze but seemed as unsure about what to say as she was. He coughed awkwardly before rising.
"Shall we go then?" he asked and she nodded. She took his proffered hand and he helped her get to her feet. He kissed her on the forehead before wrapping his arms around her. Next, a familiar sensation came over and she knew he was about to Apparate the both of them. He spun her on the spot slightly and next thing, they were outside the door of Grimmauld Place.
They walked in just as the grandfather clock in the living room began to chime midnight. It was dark in the corridor and they could just hear the sounds of voices from the living room below. They laughed quietly as they bumped into each other, she felt him lean closer to her, his arms still around her. His lips found hers and her eyes flicked shut.
For the second time they jumped apart. The door behind them swung open and in marched none other than Mundungus Fletcher. He smiled at the two of them and shuffled past.
"'ow was duty?" he asked the two of them.
"Uneventful," she replied coyly, biting back a smile.
"So nowt 'appened then Remus?"
Remus shook his head mutely.
"Bet you wished you 'adn't swapped wiv me the other day don'tcha?" he grinned smugly. Remus just spread his palms accommodatingly.
"Well, I'm gonna go get meself a drink," Mundungus smiled and shuffled away.
Tonks watched him down the hall before turning back to Remus who was looking decidedly past her, as if one of the house elf heads had caught his interest.
"'Dung didn't seem very drunk," she said casually.
"No," he replied pensively, still not looking at her. "Funny how quickly people can sober up, isn't it?"
"You swapped with him," she said bluntly. "Why?"
"I wanted to be with you," he said shyly. "You're the only person that matters to me this Christmas, I only met you this year, but it's been the best year I've had in a very long time. I meant what I said, you're so special to me Nymphadora,"
"You mean you...? You mean I'm not the only one who's felt like this all year?"
"Apparently not," he grinned.
"Thank-you then for giving me a pretty awesome Christmas present," she said offhandedly, "and for braving the elements too," she added as an afterthought.
"I'd brave much more than the rain," he admitted, "Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without you."
She looked up, saw the magical mistletoe and smiled, squeezing his hand.
"Come on, let's go get some mulled wine!"
'It's gonna snow outside, the weather will be cold. But I'm gonna be warm this winter...'
A/N: Well, all that's left for me to say is thanks for reading and Merry Christmas one and all – hope everyone here gets what they deserve. Please let me know what you think if you get the time amongst all the festivities, I'd really appreciate it.