Disclaimer: Anything in the world of Harry Potter does not belong to me.
Author's Note: This is for Kris, who wanted some postwar fluff for his favorite couple. Canon through DH except Lupin & Tonks are alive & no Teddy. Postwar as I said. Rating for plenty of blatant sexual innuendo.
Thanks to NuitTombee for the wonderful cover art.
Nymphadora Tonks and the Secret Admirer
At twenty-nine years of age, Nymphadora Tonks had more than enough worldly experience to go around.
War veteran? Check. And hopefully for the last time.
Near-death experience? Check. See above.
Successful career? Check. Her participation in the Second Wizarding War had earned her first one, then another promotion, and she now rated her very own office, with doors and walls and all those nice, private things cubicles didn't have.
Marriage? Check. Nothing like war to bring two people together.
Divorce? Check. And nothing like peacetime to make two people realize they had nothing in common.
Entirely inappropriate, lustful crush on her younger by seven years partner who seemed to think of her as nothing more than a dear friend and sort of boss? Er ... check.
And really, Tonks thought to herself as she gave up on the report in front of her, she simply had to get over it. Hadn't she learned her lesson on these long-sought after romances? She'd chased Remus for over a year, and their marriage had barely lasted longer than that. Of course, that was also a lesson learned in actually dating before rushing down the aisle (and in listening to her mother, as Andromeda reminded her), but constant danger, losing friends, and the threat of death bred romance, it seemed.
And yet here she was, back in nearly the same position. Only this time, she hadn't been pursuing for over a year. No, instead she nurtured a deep, all-consuming crush on the inside while carefully maintaining an exterior facade that consisted of a half-professional, half-friendly relationship. No pursuing to be found here.
The old Tonks would have asked him out without a second thought, or even simply shoved him onto her office chair and jumped aboard. But though the split had been amicable, the fact remained that she had gotten divorced at twenty-five. Tonks had been burned, and she didn't intend to play with fire again until she had clear signals. Looking across the Ministry canteen to catch his eyes on her might have been a signal, but the perfectly friendly and not at all flirtatious smile that followed was not.
Not that she didn't want a signal. Given the slightest encouragement, she would have been on him like goblins on a Galleon. In fact, she vividly recalled the first time Harry Potter made her heart beat a staccato rhythm, and it hadn't stopped since.
She and Harry had grown closer during his three years of Auror training. Between Weasley family gatherings and time together at the office, she came to see Harry as a colleague and friend, and for his part Harry was comfortable with her as well. Right before Harry qualified as an Auror, she was told it was time for her to take someone under her wing, and both were pleasantly surprised when Harry was assigned as her partner.
Then they went on their first solo mission. It was routine, tracking down the hiding place of a ragtag group of barely out of Hogwarts teens who fancied themselves the next Death Eaters. They were creeping through a wooded area in the middle of nowhere, trying to avoid any guards or traps outside the house that was their target, and Tonks was stealthily stepping past some brush when Harry suddenly wrapped an arm around her and dragged her backward, one hand clamped over her mouth to keep her from shouting. She had been about to step directly onto a snake, but she didn't know that until he told her later. What she did know was Harry's arm was strong around her body, his breath was warm against her neck, and had he not been holding her up, she would have melted into a puddle onto the ground. And for the rest of their mission (much of which was spent in a tent, to Harry's discomfort), she had to use her own unique abilities to keep a flush off her face as she came to a conclusion she had been aware of for some time but never fully realized.
Harry Potter wasn't fifteen anymore.
He had filled out after the war, his shoulders broadening into those of a man, and though he wasn't muscular in a bulky way, he was lean and toned. He had grown enough to be considered tall without the lankiness of Ron or Bill. And Harry had no problems changing his shirt in front of her, so of course she noticed that his abs were lightly defined and he had a nice sprinkle of dark hair on his chest, forming into a thick line that trailed downward in between the lovely V-shaped muscles that led to –
Tonks shook her head, willing her mind out of the gutter. Lately she couldn't even think of Harry without getting turned on. She hadn't been this easily distracted since she was seventeen, shagging Charlie Weasley like it was an art form in danger of extinction. She wasn't seventeen anymore, though; she was nearly thirty (oh, God), and furthermore, despite a friendship and banter that had only increased over their year of partnership, not once had Harry ever given the slightest hint of romantic feelings. Not even when he accompanied her to the various formal Ministry functions, which he nearly always did, claiming it was more fun to go with her than an awkward date. And Merlin, were those torture of the highest degree. He brought her flowers and politely complimented her dress and held her close when they danced, and all she thought about was how nice his messy hair was, how she'd love to clench her fingers in it while he buried his head –
"Delivery for one N. Tonks."
She jumped. The devil himself stood in the doorway of her office, grinning like a kid in Zonko's and holding a large bouquet of various flowers. "Wotcher, Harry. Er, what's that?"
He shrugged, handing the flowers to her. "Alice at the front desk asked me to give these to you, said someone from Abbot's Magical Flowers delivered them a few minutes ago."
Tonks accepted the flowers with a mixture of confusion and curiosity, raising her eyebrows. "To the prettiest Metamorphmagus I know: flowers that are nearly as colorful as you. Signed, your secret admirer," she read off the card. "Secret admirer? Is this a joke?"
Harry settled himself in her chair, leaning back with his hands behind his head. "Aren't girls into this sort of thing?"
Tonks conjured a vase and placed the flowers inside. "Aguamenti. I guess. I'm not sure if it's sweet or stalker-ish." She tried to hide her smile; inside, she really was flattered. "But I have no idea who it could be."
"I reckon that's the point," Harry remarked. "Woo you with gifts and letters until you've fallen madly in love with this bloke, and so you won't care as much that he's actually a sixty-year-old whale of a man with stained teeth and liver spots."
"Shut it, Harry," she said with a mock glare, then shuddered. "Eww, what if he is?"
"Suppose you'll have to wait and see," he said airily. "Speaking of seeing, come to the movies with me tonight. There's a new horror film I want to watch."
Tonks stifled a sigh. She and Harry often spent their free time together, and while she loved his company, she was fully aware that not only was she firmly in the friend zone, she was in danger of moving into the status of "like a sister." Ugh. "And what if I said I had a date?"
"Do you?" Harry asked indifferently, not a hint of jealousy in sight.
"No," she admitted. She could, she wanted to add defiantly. She'd had the requisite post-divorce mad fling but had only dated sparingly since then. She had her fair share of offers, but Tonks didn't want to date for the sake of dating. She had enough friends to keep her busy, and if she got lonely, well, she could take matters into her own hand, helped along by a lovely fantasy involving round spectacles, green eyes and a deserted beach. "And why don't you? There are plenty of girls lined up for you."
Harry gave her a skeptical look. "Not for me, not for Harry. Plenty of girls lined up for –"
"Harry-freaking-Potter, I know," she finished.
Thankfully, Harry had not become the playboy everyone expected after the war. Ron was the one who took that prize, bringing home girl after girl once he and Hermione broke up. But after Ginny (surprisingly, the only wartime romance still intact was Bill and Fleur), Harry had quickly learned that most girls only wanted to date, as he called it, Harry-freaking-Potter. The Boy Who Lived. The Chosen One. The Man Who Won. The Savior of the Wizarding World. The Defeater of the Dark Lord. Witch Weekly's Most Eligible Bachelor. Every Woman's Wanking Wish. And whatever bloody title they'd given him lately (okay, perhaps she made up the last one). Few girls simply wanted Harry. A few girls that included Tonks.
"Yeah, sure," she consented, as she knew she would all along. "Come over before? I'll pick up some curry."
Harry agreed and as he left her office, Tonks couldn't help but notice his trousers. She wondered if they were new, for they clung a bit more than normal, accentuating the curve of his tight bum. Her hands, however, would accentuate the curve much more nicely, sliding around to –
For crying out loud, Tonks, get a hold of yourself.
Tonks honestly believed the flowers and accompanying note were a joke. She tossed the note, kept the flowers in her office for a few days until they wilted, and when Alice asked, she said it was a late birthday present from her uncle. And then she completely put the incident out of her mind.
Out of her mind, that is, until she returned to her office late one Friday afternoon, sweaty and tired after a lengthy training session with Harry, filled with lewd thoughts of other ways she'd like for Harry to make sweat roll between her –
"No, I don't!" Harry argued, holding the door open for her.
"You do it every time, Harry," she countered. "You broadcast. You get this little gleam in your eye, and I know exactly what you're going to do next."
"Actually, I'm just going easy on you."
Tonks laughed, leaning against the front of her desk. "You just can't admit I beat you, can you? Can't acknowledge that the great Harry Potter was laid flat on his back by me, a mere girl?" If only he'd lay flat on his back while I –
"You, my dear Tonks, are much more than a mere girl." Despite his playful tone, Tonks caught her breath, but before she could speak, Harry glanced over her shoulder and furrowed his brow. "What's this?"
Tonks turned around and raised her eyebrows. Sitting innocently on her desk was a bouquet of pink carnations with an envelope tucked inside. At Harry's urging, she read the note aloud. "Roses are red, violets are blue, carnations may be common, but pink is the color for you. Sincerely, your secret admirer."
"And he strikes again," Harry remarked, amusement clear in his voice. "Apparently you've made quite an impression on a budding poet."
Tonks couldn't hide the color that tinted her cheeks. "It's not funny, Harry. I've picked up a stalker."
Harry rolled his eyes. "You don't have a stalker. A stalker would spy on you in your knickers at your house. This bloke gives you gifts at your work, a very public place."
"But why doesn't he just come right out and ask me on a date? I fancy my men with a pair of stones."
"Maybe he's afraid of being turned down. Or being mauled by your ex-husband the werewolf."
"If that's the case, I don't want him," she retorted. "Remus wouldn't hurt a fly except for telling it he's 'not good enough' for it. And besides, we're on perfectly friendly terms."
Harry looked thoughtful. "Now, who could it be?" He snapped his fingers. "Bell! It's got to be him. He was Head Boy at Hogwarts, so he's smart enough, he's rather shy, and I did see him checking out your bum a few days ago."
Tonks made a face, as much at the thought of dating Bell as the fact that Harry couldn't care less if Bell eyed her up and down. "I hope you hexed his bollocks off, the prat."
Harry grinned. "Both left and right before he could blink, of course. Broadcasting or not, you know how good I am with a wand."
Oh Harry, I bet you have excellent wandwork. "I'm sure you did."
"So what are you going to do about this bloke?"
She shrugged. "Take the presents, I reckon, so long as they seem harmless." Her mouth twisted into a devious smile. "And use all the tools I have to figure out who he is."
The gifts from her self-described "secret admirer" continued to appear with increasing frequency, always at her work, to her relief. Perplexingly, they began to be quite personal, from a bottle of her oft-worn perfume to her favorite Honeydukes chocolate to a bottle of her preferred Muggle wine, interspersed with the traditional flowers and always accompanied by a short, sweet poem or note.
Tonks flexed her not-unimpressive detective skills, honed in eight years as an Auror. She questioned Alice the receptionist, anyone who was at the office during the deliveries, and the entire complement of employees at Abbot's Magical Flowers or the delivery service used for the other gifts. In each instance, she ran into a brick wall – Gringotts. The deliveries were always owl-order, and the Gringotts goblins refused to give her any information about the vault in question.
Seething with frustration, Tonks turned her attention to the gifts themselves. She cast every revealing spell she knew and even took them to a friend who was an Unspeakable. Trained by Mad-Eye Moody himself, that prince of paranoia, she made sure to test and double-test everything before she sampled it. While the revealing spells were annoyingly negative, the gifts were clean, and so at least she got something out of the situation beyond the attention and teasing she was beginning to garner at the office. Harry was always over her shoulder, watching with increasing amusement.
After weeks of presents, she entered her office early one morning to find a note alone on the floor. Curious, for she'd never gotten just a note, she quickly scanned it. And then scanned it again. After the third reading, she fell into her chair, her forehead wrinkled in deep thought. This was an unexpected development.
That night, Tonks headed to the Burrow for Percy's birthday party. Unofficial family by extension, she, Harry, Hermione, and Remus were always invited to any Weasley family gatherings, often along with other former Order members. If she was distracted, no one noticed, and she enjoyed herself, joining George, Ron, and Harry after dinner as they all sat outside, the ever-expanding family having long since outgrown the house.
"So where'd you find this one?" George asked, indicating Ron's latest paramour, an exotic girl named Natalia, who was with Fleur exclaiming over the newest Weasley.
"Sat next to her at the last Cannons game, the one you didn't want to go to," Ron said smugly. He turned to Harry. "She's got this friend, mate, you should meet her. She has this massive pair of – uh ..." He stopped, dropping the hands that were held out in front of his chest and glancing at Tonks with an embarrassed smile.
"Boobs, Ron? Tits? Jugs? Jubblies? Melons?" Tonks said sarcastically, trying to hide her irritation. If Harry liked large breasts, she could take care of that. She was a Metamorphmagus; of course she had a nice rack. "Anyway, I don't think Harry needs your help finding a woman."
"I don't know about that, Tonks." George chuckled. "Harry doesn't have the greatest track record."
Harry groaned, and Tonks rolled her eyes, knowing where this was headed. Ever since Ginny had announced that she was flying for another team, as Tonks put it, the boys had consistently taken the piss out of Harry, claiming he was such a horrible boyfriend that he ruined all men for Ginny.
"Maybe," Tonks interrupted Ron, who was tolling the various ways Harry could have scared Ginny. "Harry was such a great boyfriend that Ginny realized she couldn't possibly find another man that would measure up. Or maybe she simply likes girls, and you're all just gits."
"Why Tonks, I didn't know you cared so much," Harry said with a grin.
"You don't know much, do you?" she mumbled, then walked away, unaccountably annoyed by his words. After the obligatory coo at little Dominique and drawing laughter from Victoire by changing her nose, she made her way to the fence that surrounded the garden, sitting on top and watching the sunset.
"Guess who." A pair of large hands covered her eyes, and a deep, teasing voice spoke in her ear, making her draw a sharp breath.
"Wotcher, Harry." She'd know those long fingers anywhere, not only good for catching a Snitch, but brilliant, she reckoned, for running over her body, squeezing her –
"So what put your knickers in a twist?" he asked, straddling the fence next to her.
I'd let you do anything you want with my knickers. "How do you know I'm wearing any?" she said, forcing a lighthearted tone.
Harry laughed. "Yeah, I fancy a light breeze down there every now and then, too."
Tonks almost fell off the fence, though that may have just been her mortal enemy, gravity. Did he know how much these little flirtations sent her head spinning with mental images that were best reserved for Playwitch magazine?
"But as much as I enjoy our discussions about our underwear, or lack thereof," Harry continued. "Seriously, what's wrong? Normally you take as good as you give." If you go with me to the broom shed, Harry, I'll show you just how much I can take.
She sighed, mentally wrestled with herself for a moment, then pulled a crumpled scrap of parchment out of the pocket of her trousers. "This."
Harry was silent for a moment, reading, but when he looked up, he smiled. Strange how an expression that would normally give her heart an extra beat could now make her ache. "This is great! I don't see the problem."
"Are you kidding? He wants to meet! As in, in person. Face to face. Tête-à-tête." She ran a hand through her hair, leaving the short pink locks straight up. "You'll find me dismembered in a rubbish bin in the East End, and then I'll make the first page of the crime section of the Daily Prophet."
"I think you should have chosen a different career path." He cupped his hand around his ear. "I can hear the theater calling you. Drama, thy name is Tonks."
"Sod off, Potter," she growled. "It's creepy!"
"It doesn't have to be," he countered. "He suggested a perfectly nice, public restaurant. There will be people all around. No one says you have to go home with the bloke. Keep your wand on you, trust your instincts, and everything will be fine. You are an Auror, after all."
"A good Auror wouldn't go it alone," she grumbled. Then Tonks snapped her fingers, looking up with a smile. "That's it! Back-up! Come with me, Harry!"
"A threesome on the first date? That's a bit presumptuous." Harry laughed, ducking away from her swat.
"You wish, you loser." Harry winked at her words, and Tonks nearly fainted at the picture of herself with two men, both of whom were somehow Harry in her mind. "What I mean is, arrive ahead of time, sit near us, and if anything looks to be off, rescue me."
"Your knight in shining armor?"
As long as you spear me with your lance. "Something like that."
Harry considered her. "Fine, if it will get you to go," he said.
She frowned. "Why are you so determined that I go?"
"Why are you so determined not to?"
"I asked first."
"You owe me for agreeing to spy on you."
"I defeated Voldemort."
"I'm your bloody supervisor."
They stared at each other in a contest of stubborn wills, both chins set obstinately, before Harry finally gave in. "I just want you to be happy," he said simply. "Is that too much to ask?"
Tonks wanted to scream at him. YOU make me happy, you blind berk! But he was so sincere and clearly wanted her to go on the date, so she resisted. "What makes you think a date would make me happy?"
"Everyone deserves special attention and love, or at least the possibility of love," he explained. "And all you ever do in your time off is bum around with me. Now, your turn. Answer my question."
Tonks was silent for a minute, struggling for the right words. "I don't want to waste anyone's time, mine or some stranger's, in something that probably won't work out," she said softly. "Of course I want love. But what if I think it's a bit closer to home? What if I like the time we spend together?"
Biting her lip, Tonks looked directly at Harry, and for a long moment they held each other's gaze silently. His green eyes seemed to penetrate her very soul (and for once, she wasn't thinking dirty), and she knew he understood her.
Harry stood, and as he put a hand on her arm, she wondered if she imagined the glimmer of a smile that tugged at the corners of his lips. "Tonks – go on the date."
The black or the red?
Tonks held each dress up to herself in turn, examining her reflection in the full-length mirror. In truth she preferred the red, with its diagonal hemline and color, to the boring black. But the black was less revealing, and she didn't want to give the wrong impression. Plus, if she wore the black, she could sport the pink hair the notes had mentioned several times.
Shooting a glance at the clock, Tonks groaned in frustration. She needed to leave soon, for a date she didn't truly want to have. But Harry couldn't have been clearer at the Burrow, and she was determined not to mope around. Tonks was not about to get stuck with mousy brown hair for a year again. It wasn't a good look for her.
"Tonks?" She spun around, startled. Wrapping her bathrobe around her, she jogged into her sitting room. Why was Harry Potter's head in her fireplace?
"Harry?" she said as she dropped to her knees. This wasn't quite the way she'd ever pictured sinking to her knees for him.
"Tonks, I'm really sorry, but I can't go to the restaurant tonight."
"Why not?" she demanded.
"I don't feel good."
She peered at him. "You do look a bit peaky. I'll come over, bring you some food, and we'll watch old B-movie horror films all night."
Harry shook his head hastily, an interesting sight in the green flames. "No, absolutely not. Some Pepperup potion and a good night's sleep, and I'll be fine. You have a date, and you're going. You'll be fine, too."
Tonks clamped down on the argument on her lips. Not only did Harry obviously want her to have this date, he also clearly did not want her company. Things had been a bit weird between them since she more or less made her feelings known. "Okay. Feel better, Harry."
He smiled, and she melted. "Thanks. Have fun."
"Yeah, sure. Um, Harry?"
"Red or black?"
He grinned. "Red. Definitely the red."
After their goodbyes, Tonks had a sudden thought, and she checked the clock again. If she hurried, she would only be five minutes or so late. That was supposed to be fashionable, right? She was in luck, and three quick Floos later (and three subsequent trips, nearly tearing her dress), she picked herself off the floor in Grimmauld Place.
"Harry?" she called, grateful he trusted her enough to connect their fireplaces. In order to go to Harry's, she'd had to return to her own house after swinging by her mum's, but she didn't mind. "Harry?"
She frowned. Harry was an Auror, and he was trained to always keep an ear open for the Floo, asleep or not. Tonks secretly relished making him run to her side with one shout. This silence was very unlike him, and she felt the first tendrils of worry. Harry still had enemies out there. "Kreacher?"
The house-elf shuffled out of his cupboard, eyeing her balefully.
"Kreacher, where's Harry?"
"Master is not here," he croaked in his bullfrog voice.
"Not here?" Tonks repeated, dumbfounded. She had spoken to Harry not fifteen minutes ago. "Where is he?"
Kreacher had never warmed up to her, but his outright hostility had subsided, and he'd been under orders to listen to her since she and Harry were partnered. "Kreacher does not know where he went, but Master said he had a date."
Tonks had never known words could hit so hard. Harry was on a date. Harry had said he was sick. Harry was on a date with another woman, and he had lied to her face while she badgered her mum for some leftover soup and delivered it like a bloody fool. Tonks wasn't sure if she was more hurt or angry, but anger was easier to deal with at the moment.
"Fine," she snapped, dropping the tureen on the table. "Tell him ... no, you know what? Don't tell him anything, Kreacher."
With a rather dramatic flourish of her dress, she whirled around and stomped up the stairs, deciding to Apparate directly from Harry's house. For the first time, she was determined to have a good time on this date, gouty old man or not.
However, as she stood outside the restaurant, her determination vanished, replaced by nerves. What if his face was covered in warts and she couldn't stop staring? What if he decided she wasn't as nice as he thought and left halfway through the evening? What if he Imperiused her and Harry wasn't here to help? The thought of Harry did the trick, and with an angry flip of her hair, she strode inside.
"Wotcher, I'm meeting someone," she told the host. "Name's Tonks."
He pointed, and Tonks wound her way across the room. The note said he would wear a blue shirt and place a single rose on the table. Butterflies danced in her stomach.
As she neared the back of the room, she came to an abrupt halt when she spotted a familiar head of messy black hair, and all nervousness vanished. "Harry?"
Her partner stood up, his smile disappearing as quickly as her butterflies when he took in her dark expression. "Hello, Tonks."
"Don't 'hello' me, Potter. You have a lot of nerve showing up here of all places."
"What are you talking about?" Why did he have to be so adorable when he was confused?
"I went to your house to bring you some soup before I came here," she ground out. "Kreacher told me you had a date. You're not sick at all."
He rubbed the back of his neck. "I wish you hadn't done that."
"Oh, because you got caught in a lie?" She looked around wildly. "Where is the bint, anyway?"
Harry smirked. "I wouldn't call her that, but she's standing right in front of me. Glad you went with the red, by the way."
"Look again, Tonks."
So she looked, and she noticed the single red rose in a tube vase on the table. She turned to Harry, and she saw, for the first time, that he wore a blue Oxford shirt, tucked neatly into dark pressed slacks that hung off his hips nicely. Her mouth fell open into a perfect "oh" of surprise as she took in the pleased grin on his face, the same one he had worn the day she received the first note. Like a kid in Zonko's.
"I'm just a boy standing in front of a girl, asking her to date him," he said, quoting from one of her secret admirer notes she was sure he had never read. "It was the first film we ever saw together, remember?"
She was speechless. It was Harry, had been Harry all along. All those months of hidden feelings, those weeks of notes and gifts, even the last ten minutes of misunderstood hurt - it all led to this point.
Harry put a hand on her waist gently and leaned in for a kiss. With this action, Tonks found her voice. "No kissing on the first date," she said, turning her face to the side so his lips brushed her cheek, giving her a thrill.
"So will there be a second date?" Harry asked cheekily.
She nodded, never taking her eyes off his. "Oh, yes. There will be a second date."
As they sat down, laughing and exclaiming over Harry's carefully executed plan, Tonks couldn't stop smiling. She knew she had been caught, lock, stock, and barrel, and it wasn't bad at all.
First date with a long desired, entirely reciprocated crush? Check and mate.
A/N: Bonus points to whoever can pick out the two references to HP movie actors!