Remus/Tonks 1shot: four down, eight letters.

This is short idea that popped into my head and wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it down, because Tonks and Remus should have been together from the beginning, but of course we all love Remus the noble prat, despite him being, well, a noble prat. :D Enjoy, I know I will.

A delightfully warm and pleasant smell filled the kitchen of Grimmauld Place as Molly Weasley finished baking yet another Christmas cake. "Would you like a piece, Tonks?"

Tonks didn't look up from the particularly interesting patch of table in front of her, and her fingers stayed clasped around her mug, completely unaware that she was being addressed.

"Tonks?" Molly said quietly, nudging her hand, but not entirely sure if she should proceed. Tonks glanced up from her the table, her mousy brown fringe falling limply in front of her eyes as she jerked back out from her daydream.

"Hmm?"

"Are you alright, dear? You've been looking down for weeks, but your hair—"

"I'm fine, Molly, thank you." Her tone was short and curt, intended to abruptly end the conversation, but Molly was determined to get her point across, and she was nothing if not persistent.

"Tonks." Her own tone changed, hardened, but still remained to show the concern that she felt. Again, Tonks glanced up, but her face stayed emotionless, no doubt intending to give nothing away, but her failed attempt at nonchalance told Molly everything she needed to know. She'd seen that face before. She'd had that face before, she knew it all too well, from her days of trying to convince Arthur that she didn't care if she had to live in conditions all too close to poverty for the rest of her live, because she loved him regardless. She knew that this was exactly what Tonks was going through right now; she'd learnt to recognise the exasperated sighs when they were coming from herself, so that she could teach herself to mask them.

More to the point, she'd seen the looks between Tonks and Remus: it had started off as simple smiles when the first became acquainted, and in no time at all they turned into shy grins, and eventually obvious flirting glances and the responding blushes on them both every time their eyes met. It was blatantly obvious to Molly at least, and certainly Sirius too, with whom Molly had brought up her suspicions that Tonks harboured great feelings for the kind werewolf, and that he returned the feelings with only great shyness and fear of rejection stopping either of them from confessing how they felt to the other.

"Tonks," she repeated with a sigh, "I know what you're going through."

This grasped Tonks' attention immediately. "What are you talking about? Going through? I'm not going through anything, I'm fine." Her words were spoken far too fast to be convincing, but she kept up her weak pretence of being 'fine'.

"I think we both know that you're anything but fine, dear. You've been pining after Remus for months, we all can see how much you—"

"All of you? Does Remus…?"

"Oh, Merlin, no, the poor soul doesn't have a clue. Sirius has been talking to him; he doesn't seem to understand that you like him too."

Tonks let out a sigh of relief, then rethought the last part of Molly's sentence. "What do you mean, I like him too? Molly, he doesn't—"

"Or so he would have you believe."

"Molly! Please don't do this; I don't think I could stand it, don't give me false hope, not if I'm just going to get shot down. Please."

Molly placed the cake tin she was holding down on the table, and came to sit down next to the woman who since entering her life, had fast become as close to her as if she had acquired another daughter.

"Listen, do you think I would bring this up if I didn't think that Remus at least felt remotely similar for you as you do for him?" Tonks didn't reply, she just started at her until she continued. "It's clear to me that he does, dear. I can see it in him just as clearly as I can see it in your hair." She placed a few stray strands of hair back behind Tonks' ears to back up her point. "Nothing affects a person more than love, Tonks, and nothing affects your hair other than you and the people you love, so as much as you deny it, I know that you are falling for him, and it's becoming clearer and clearer every time I see you together, that the man is falling for you too."

~o~O~o~

"Cheer up, mate," Sirius said jauntily, slapping Remus on the back as he moved to sit next to him at the kitchen table. "I still don't get why you're moping around all the time, not when you've got a girl to be chasing after."

Remus drained the last of his glass of firewhisky and without pause proceeded to pour himself another glass.

"I am not moping around. I'm merely taking my time thinking about the bad aspects of my life. And I certainly do not have a girl to be chasing after, so I don't have the foggiest idea where you got that one from. Pulled a few Christmas crackers early, have you? Found a few jokes?"

"Merlin, aren't you Mr Optimistic?"

Remus turned his head just far enough to give his best friend a 'why-are-you-still-here' glare, before snapping his gaze back to the bottom of his glass, staring through the deep amber liquid.

"Is this about Tonks?"

"Is what about Tonks?" Remus' words shot back faster than a golden snitch could have passed between them.

"Steady on, Moony, it was just a question. Which, by the way, you have just pretty much answered for me."

"I have?" His tone wasn't surprised or intrigued as Sirius expected, knowing him as well as he did. However he was quite the opposite: Remus sounded, for loss of a better word, dead. It was as if he'd lost all meaning. He'd been like that for a while, Sirius thought; it was getting worse. It had become a permanent feature on Sirius' list of things that would go on Remus' Chocolate Frog card: Werewolf, kind of shabby looking, excellent chess player, all round know-it-all, Marauder and a voice that at its most enthusiastic harbours as much enthusiasm as a flobberworm.

Except when Tonks is around.

"Look, Moony, you're starting to sound like a teenager who's just been dumped. Actually you sound like you as a teenager after you'd been dumped. Believe me; I've seen that a few times. Remember when Gwen Rodgers in fifth year?"

Remus managed to emit a strange, faint snort of laughter. "Gwen Rodgers did not dump me, we… drifted apart. Rather abruptly, I'll admit." Sirius laughed loudly, but said no more. As soon as the words had passed his mouth, the cape of darkness, of sadness swept over him and he returned to being cold and moody. "I don't plan on being dumped any time soon, either. Not at any point ever in the future because I will never be in another relationship."

"Ahh and so the hammer hits the nail on the head. So that's it."

"That's what?"

"That's why you're being such a selfish, stubborn git."

"Selfish? Stubborn git I could accept with a grudge but selfish? Really?"

"Yes, Moony, selfish. You're thinking too much about 'Oh, I've fallen in love, oh it's terrible, I must avoid her or I'll end up ripping her to shreds and I'll never be able to live with the guilt' when really what you should be thinking is 'Oh, I've fallen in love, isn't that excellent, I'm going to have to tell her in a really romantic way!' I mean, you get that, right?"

Remus started down at the table and gritted his teeth, as he stated defiantly; "I am not in love."

"C'mon, Remus, surely you're not that blind? I mean I know you're getting on a bit, but—"

"I'm younger than you."

Sirius shrugged. "Well, maybe chronologically, but in terms of mind…"

Again, Remus gave a snort of laughter. "That's a big word for such a small mind, Padfoot. And there was me thinking that your vocabulary extended only to words with less than three syllables."

A sharp smack met the back of Remus' head, causing to laugh more, which Sirius gladly joined in with, happy to hear his friend making some progress on the depression thing. It was a hearty sound, one which they had both missed, without even noticing its absence.

After the laughter had died down, Sirius sighed, bringing the mood of the room crashing back down to 'mildly depressing'.

"See, you're still in there. You've not been kissed by a dementor after all." It was meant as a joke, but Remus didn't take it as such. He didn't acknowledge the words at all, really, just kept on staring off into space.

"Moony, look at me."

Reluctantly he obliged, tearing his hollow eyes away from nothing in particular to stare into those of his longest surviving friend, eyes which for twelve years he had thought to be the eyes of a murderer, eyes which had seen the end of lives, and consequently seen twelve years of nothing but the same stone walls and soulless creatures floating about, torturing him for seeing a crime, but not committing it. If anyone should be moping around, it should be Sirius, he realised suddenly. He's the one who's been locked up in Azkaban, he's the one who's on the run from the rest of the world, he's the one — Remus stopped his thoughts in an instant as the biggest realisation hit him like a Whomping Willow attack. He's the one who survived it all, put on a brave face and shows the joy that he's feeling because he's lucky to have his soul. He's lost twelve years of his life, and he is far from a free man, but he has his soul. He's the one who is sat with me now trying to convince me that I need to cheer up.

He wanted to slam his head against the table in front of him, as guilt hit him heavily in the chest. Sirius was right; he was a selfish, stubborn git.

"Listen, you furry prat, when was the last time you felt completely at ease and happy, a moment you wished could have lasted for all of eternity?"

He didn't even need to think about it for the image to form in his head; it had only been less than a week ago, the day after the full moon, he'd come down from his room after 15 hours of ruptured sleep, still insanely tired and looking for a mug of hot cocoa, but instead he found Tonks alone in the kitchen, almost asleep over the Daily Prophet.

"What are you doing up?" He'd asked, unable to hide the surprised glee in his voice.

"M'doing the crossword," she'd mumbled, cracking her eyelids open just far enough to see who she was talking to.

"Yes, it looks like it. Is it printed on the inside of your eyelids? Because if it isn't, I can see why you might be having trouble."

"Naahh… M'stuck on four down, eight letters. I know what it is, but it doesn't want to be seen."

"What's the clue?"

"I dunno..." she mumbled. Her eyelids had drooped throughout their brief conversation, and were now fully closed, although she carried on mumbling to her crossword buddy. "What y'doin?"

"I'm making some cocoa, would you like some? It'll help you sleep, not that you seem to have that problem." He chuckled softly, as he glanced at her again, ans saw that she had fallen asleep by now, as her head rested uncomfortably against the paper, and her breathing slowed and deepened. She looked so peaceful. Beautiful.

Remus had shaken the thought from his head quickly, and proceeded to walk around to her side of the table. He took one of her hands in his and squeezed it to see how deeply asleep she was, and couldn't help but notice the way she subconsciously squeezed his hand in return and smiled. Other than this, he received no response, and stepped back, faced with a dilemma. He knew that he couldn't just leave her there; she'd wake up with cramps and the like, and it was highly likely that she wouldn't make it through the night without falling off her chair.

On a snap decision, thinking that it was the gentlemanly thing to do, he bent over her, placing one arm under her knees and one over her shoulders, and as gentle as he could, lifted her up into his arms. He could have quite easily have used magic, he probably wouldn't have tired himself out quite as much or ran the risk of putting his back out while his muscles were still weak from the last full moon, but besides it seeming more caring, he couldn't deny that he liked the feeling of her body pressed against hers, and the happiness he felt as she turned slightly in his arms to wrap her arms loosely around his neck and bury her face in his jumper was unmistakable. Eventually, despite all of the distractions that Tonks held for him, he managed to get her up the stairs and onto her bed. He almost regretted putting her down, but downstairs was the call of hot cocoa, so could return to the sweet bliss of sleep, and a secret dream world where he was brave enough to confess his love to Tonks.

Tonks, the beautiful woman who he was undoubtedly falling in love with, and he could never be with because he would never damn her to a life with a social reject when she could have so much better. She was guaranteed a far more appropriate lifestyle if he stayed away from her. While she was asleep, he did however permit himself to tuck her covers around her, and brush a strand of hair from her temple, and he left a kiss there so light his lips had barely brushed her skin, but that was enough. He'd kissed Tonks. She'd been unconscious, which bordered on breaching his morals, but he didn't plan on making a habit out of it, and if he couldn't love her with her knowing, loving her from a distance would have to suffice.

"I love you," he'd whispered, almost inaudibly. "I love you. I love you and I'm too dangerous and cowardly to admit it to you in your conscious self."

With that he left the room, turning off the lamp in the corner with a wave of his hand and a thought incantation. He closed her door as softly as he could, then stopped immediately, suddenly very aware of Kreacher around the corner, muttering quietly to himself.

"Filthy blood traitor," he was saying. "Mud-blood father, traitor mother, and waiting up for a half-breed. Messed up witch, mistress would not want her in the house, must get rid of her, must get rid of her…" he continued to ramble on about the wrong doings of the 'disgraces' in the house, but one phrase in particular stuck out in Remus' mind. Waiting up for the half-breed.

Had Tonks been waiting up for him? As stupid as it seemed, he couldn't help but hope, even if he forbid himself to question her the next day. He changed the subject instead, focusing instead on getting past Kreacher and Sirius' mother, focusing on taking each step slowly to be as quiet as possible on his retreat back to the kitchen.

As he reached into an overhead cupboard for a mug, the newspaper on the table caught his eye, and he reached over to pick it up, curious as to how much of the crossword Tonks had completed. Most of the clues had lines struck through them, and the majority of the tiny boxes had been filled in, but one clue stood out against the others.

Down
4. Lycanthrope, a feared and dangerous creature. (8)

What made it stand out was it was the only one circled, with a tiny heart against the number, charmed to increase and decrease in size, as if it was beating, singling it out from the rest.

Remus smiled. This was his happy moment. The moment he realised that maybe there was a chance, albeit an infinitely small chance, that he and Tonks could be together.

"What was your moment?" Sirius asked quietly.

"It doesn't matter," he replied softly, trying his best to hide the tiny sad smile playing on his lips.

"Yes it does."

"Look, it doesn't, alright? I see your point."

"Fine," he sighed, running a hand along the stubble on his chin. "Just answer me this: was that memory about Tonks?"

There was silence. Remus did not want to reply, it would mean that once again Sirius had won an argument, and that had been happening far too often lately. He could lie, of course, but somehow it didn't seem right, not when he knew that he had his best interests at heart, deep, deep down. "You know what the answer is, Sirius, there's no need to be so stubborn."

"Mate, if you love her, you should tell her—"

"No. She can't ever know."

"And why not, Remus? Because you're so damn stubborn? Because you don't believe that there's a chance that she loves you even though you know as well as I do that she does, but you refuse to see it because you're a stubborn git?" Their eyes met and neither of them blinked. "You're an idiot, Remus. You're one of the smartest, most kind hearted guys out there; you and Tonks are perfect for each other and you know it, but when it comes to your love life, you're nothing short of the village idiot. You're never going to know what love feels like if you don't give this a go. You only get one shot at life so you'd better make the best of the opportunities you get. I could list off proverbs until the cows come home, but I don't think it's necessary because you know I'm right, even if you won't allow yourself to see it. Tonks loves you for who you are. you need to open your eyes and stop being such a noble prat."

Sirius stood up, allowed his hand to rest on his friend's shoulder for a second, and calmly walked up to his room, leaving Remus alone with his thoughts.

~o~O~o~

The kitchen was empty when Remus entered it the next morning. Not that he'd expected any different; he could hear Sirius' snores as he passed his room, but he'd grown accustomed having Tonks around. She hadn't been to Grimmauld Place for a few days, having been overrun with missions both from the Ministry and from the Order. This had become a regular occurrence now; whenever the full moon had been around, Tonks would take Remus' shifts with the Order for a few days so he could rest. It meant that she got very little sleep, but each time he brought it up to protest, she insisted that she was fine and changed the subject.

Making himself a cup of tea, Remus became lost in the ritual, allowing his thoughts to drift elsewhere. He wondered what she might be doing now. Sleeping seemed the most likely, it was still fairly early on a Sunday morning, a day where most people had the day off, and lie-ins were few and far between nowadays—

"Wotcher, Remus."

He nearly dropped the sugar bowl. Tonks stood in the doorway, trying to hold in her laughter at his shocked and dishevelled appearance so early in the morning. He was quick to recover though, regaining his posture as fast as possible and smiling at her.

"Sorry, I didn't hear you come in. Tea?"

She smiled back, taking her usual seat at the table. "Please."

He poured another mug full of the steaming liquid, added a drop of milk and two spoons of sugar to both, and placed them both on the table, sliding one across to Tonks, much to her satisfaction.

"What are you doing up so early?" he asked, taking a seat opposite her. "It's your day off, isn't it?"

Tonks nodded. "Mad-Eye wants me to check something out up north, possible Death-Eater gathering, nothing too flashy. All I'll be doing is sitting on a hill, watching a building for a few hours, but he's insisting on giving me a preparation talk. Honestly, I've been doing this kind of thing for ages, it's my job, and I know what I'm doing. I'm not entirely happy about the sitting on a hill alone all day part, but it doesn't really matter."

He didn't really think about it before the words were out of his mouth. "I'll go with you," he offered. "Or for you, you could probably use a rest. I never asked you to take all of my shifts, you know, they could have waited."

Tonks shook her head. "It's no trouble; at least you're not overly busy now. Although I would appreciate some company today, if you don't mind?"

He grinned. "Happily. I'll even pack us a lunch."

Grinning back, they fell into a light conversation, about nothing that really mattered, until the sound of footsteps on the stairs echoed down the hall.

A loud yawn sounded just outside the closed kitchen door, to which Remus chuckled. "Morning, Sirius," he called out. Something banged against the door, followed by a faint cry of pain. The door swung open a few seconds later, allowing a sleepy Sirius to enter and slump into a seat at the table.

"The door is too solid," he mumbled. "Should put a cushioning charm on it, s'dangerous this early in the morning."

Tonks rolled her eyes, holding back her laughter, but Remus made no such effort, laughing openly at his friend's expense. "Or maybe you could learn to not walk and yawn."

"It wasn't the yawning that did it," he retaliated. "It was you, took me by surprise is all."

"Of course, Sirius, of course. And I suppose in fourth year, when you tripped over your robes coming down from the dormitory, the stairs took you by surprise, did they? It had nothing to do with the fact that you're impossibly uncoordinated in the morning."

"Oh, because you were perfectly agile whenever profes—"

Remus was quick to cast a silencing charm on Sirius before he could finish his sentence. Knowing him like he did, which was all too well, it was sure to result in the disclosing of one of Remus' secrets that he confined only to his very closest friends, and not even purposely. The fault lay solely with a night of playing truth or dare, and a bottle of firewhisky.

"Thank you very much, Sirius, I think you've said quite enough." He smiled falsely, blushing with embarrassment.

"Wait, I want to hear this." Tonks cast the counter spell, relieving Sirius of his forced silence. "Were you going to say 'professor'?"

Padfoot grinned evilly at Remus, then turned to Tonks. "Shortly after Christmas in his third year, Remus discovered something…"

"Sirius, please don't…"

"He discovered that he had, to put it lightly, affectionate feelings for a certain professor."

"Please don't."

"Who?"

"Professor M—"

With a flick of his wand, Remus had cast yet another silencing charm, and tight bonds appeared around Sirius' wrists and ankles. "Not today, Sirius, we have a mission to get to."

"No we don't, we've got plenty of time," Tonks insisted, still grinning at Sirius' sudden look of helplessness.

"Nope, we have to go."

"We do?"

"Yes." He wasn't exactly being defiant, more pleading than anything else. "I'll make us some sandwiches, and please don't break the charm." He winked. "We could just leave him like that, or perhaps have a little fun with him while he's immobilised."

Tonks hummed in agreement. She looks so cute when she's thinking…

While he prepared a lunch for them both, and a sandwich for Sirius, he could hear Tonks muttering incantations under her breath, a few spontaneous cracks, and one or two bright flashes which caught his attention from the corners of his eyes, but he didn't see what the effects were until he turned around and placed a sandwich just out of Sirius' reach. He let out an open laugh, because he just couldn't help it. In all the years that he had known him, Sirius had always been the trickster, never the subject, always with the upper hand. But he'd never seen him looking so… helpless, desperate, and with such a great loss of pride.

He had good reason to, with the special features Tonks had conjured for him. She looked rather proud of herself, stood by her masterpiece, smirk in place, very fitting with her spiky bubble-gum pink hair which just screamed mischief.

"Excellent," Remus grinned, taking that metal tag from the dog collar into his hand. It read 'My name is Snuffles, I am incredibly irritating so you probably don't want me' in Tonks' neat handwriting. The collar she had conjured was black leather, very good quality with metal studs, giving it a slightly gothic appearance. There was also a pair of felt ears on his head, like the sort you would get in a child's Halloween costume, but Remus almost didn't notice them; they looked so natural there, but he couldn't decide if that was a positive or negative factor. "I suppose it would be insensitive to ask you what you think, Sirius?" His remark earned a giggle from Tonks, and a death glare from Sirius. "Sorry, but you know it's only fair."

With that, he left the kitchen, tucking the two remaining sandwiches into the pockets of his overcoat, and summoned two bottles of butterbeer from a cupboard in the corner. Tonks followed him down the corridor, but stopped him before he could open the front door, grabbing his arm in such a way that made his skin tingle and his heart jump. "Are you just going to leave him there like that?"

"Of course not," he grinned, composing himself. With a wave of his wand, they heard Sirius muttering about idiots for friends, and then with another flick, the chair scrape back along the slate floor of the kitchen. "Run."

Reflexively, he grabbed her hand, wrenching the door open and pulling her through onto the top step. "Where are we going?" he asked, still not letting go of her hand.

"Anywhere!" she giggled.

Ok, so it wasn't supposed to end there. Definitely not. However, I was afraid that if I didn't end it here, I never would. Personally I think that four and a half thousand words are sufficient enough for a single chapter. I may extend on this, but y'know, it doesn't really matter. Tell me what you think please, constructive criticism welcome as always. ;) xxx