All Remus Lupin wanted was a night of rest to help him recover. He found himself faced with much more. NTRL.
Disclaimer; I don't own Harry Potter, or any of the series' respected characters. I wish I did, but sadly the ideas belong to the brilliant Jo Rowling. I do own this plot, though.
Author's Note; The story is set during the beginning of OotP, during the time of Harry's summer stay. Many thanks to my lovely beta, Jackie.
There was a considerable amount of noise resounding in the kitchen of number twelve, Grimmauld Place, despite the fact that all nine of its current occupants were asleep. Thunder crashed, shaking the windows and walls, both already whipped by debris that the strong winds blew around. Rain hit the house like enemy fire - and who's to say that it wasn't? Voldemort and his Death Eaters weren't above tampering with the forces of nature, and a storm like this was bound to cause a few casualties.
A small limb of a tree hit the glass panes above the sink, making a particularly loud cracking noise. Remus Lupin mumbled something incomprehensible in his slumber as he turned his head to rest his other cheek on the thick book - "Gilderoy Lockhart's Guide to Household Pests"-that served as his pillow. His hand still tightly gripped the handle of a now half-full mug of hot cocoa. On the stovetop burner sat the rest of the batch. (He had a tendency to make excess, seeing as he didn't cook things the Muggle way very often.)
An urgent knocking on the door came, and Remus woke up. He'd gained the sense to differentiate that noise from all others, due to the unpleasant shrieks that would come from Sirius's mother's portrait if no one answered before the visitor got the chance to ring the bell. As he stood up groggily, rubbing his eyes, and made his way down the hallway, he dimly wondered why certain members of the Order seemed incapable of remembering what to do-and what not to do-as to keep the Black household relatively undisturbed. They held their meetings in the most unlikely place for their type of group-supposedly, this was the point. Whenever Remus was caught off guard by some new horror that his current residence held, he had half a mind to check his arm to make sure that he hadn't acquired a Dark Mark.
Another few knocks came, each sounding a bit louder than the one before. "Hold your hippogriffs," Remus muttered as he made to unlock the door, which wasn't as simple a task as it sounded. In addition to being secured in the usual Muggle ways, a few charms had been placed upon it, so that you had to cast non-verbal spells as well as turning the little knobs.
When he had finally managed to open the door a crack, he found himself face to face with the most unexpected sight. Moody, checking to make sure that they hadn't been attacked in their sleep; Mungdungus Fletcher, with more of his 'business' affairs to hide; Minerva, coming to retrieve her shawl that she'd left earlier that day, would have come as no shock. This woman standing on the steps, absolutely soaked from head to foot, left his mouth slightly agape. At first, he didn't recognize the witch with the ebony curls hanging limply down her back, her fringe plastered to her forehead. The first sign should have been the lime-colored 'Weird Sisters' t-shirt that she wore with a pair of jeans, which were ripped in many places.
The previous night had been the full moon. Remus was thinner and more sickly than usual, and his hair contained more and more grey with each transformation. On top of the consequences that his lycanthropy had on his appearance, his muscles were sore and he was immensely tired. Maybe being only fractionally awake caused him to be so slow on the uptake. He didn't recognize her until she looked up from her feet. Her eyes were red, as if she'd been crying quite hard.
He knew those eyes anywhere. They were the ones that sparkled in the very worst of times, and were rarely changed by their owner, Nymphadora Tonks (who preferred to be known by her surname only), the Order's resident Metamorphmagus and Auror. "Nymphadora?" he asked, suppressing a yawn.
Whatever the situation was, it must have been bad, because she did nothing to suggest that she'd even noticed the use of her hated given name. She simply stood there, dripping and shivering, as tears fell down her face and mixed with the rain drops. She mumbled a reply, but it was so obstructed by sniffs and sobs that Remus couldn't even begin to understand. He did the only thing he could think of; he stepped out into the weather and put his arm around her, guiding her through the doorway. He made sure to avoid the umbrella stand by a good few feet, feeling that no matter what sort of trauma had affected her, she wouldn't have lost all of her clumsy tendencies.
He brought her over to the study, where the magical fire was still burning brightly, and sat her on the chair nearest the hearth. There was a blue fleece blanket lying on the sofa, so he grabbed it and handed it to her. She sat for a few awkward seconds, twisting it in her hands. When she lifted it to blow her nose upon, he snatched it back and draped it gently around her shoulders. He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket to be used for the other purpose.
"What happened, Nymphadora?" Remus inquired, sitting across from her in a wooden rocking chair.
She breathed in deeply, sounding slightly pained, as if she was drowning in her own tears. Through the fabric pressed to her nose, she spoke for the first time since she'd arrived. "Idbaght."
"What?" Remus pressed, knowing that he should be glad that he was actually receiving an answer. But he had wanted to actually know what the problem was and her mumbling wasn't helping that cause...
She cleared her nose with one very loud blow; Tonks had never been the sort of girl to worry about being ladylike. "I didn't have a very good night," she said stiffly, managing a weak smile.
"That's obvious," he replied with a lighter tone than he had meant to use. After a few minutes of silence, he realized that she had no intentions of elaborating upon this. "I'll get you something dry to wear," he offered, as she gave another shiver.
"Thanks," she replied, clutching the blanket more tightly around herself.
Remus crept quietly up the stairs and into his own room. What did a middle-aged man have to loan to a bright young woman for clothing? His wardrobe was very worn and tattered, due to the state of his Gringotts account (empty). There was one white t-shirt that didn't have any holes or stains, so he placed it on the bed. It would probably be slightly too big for her, but anything would be better than sitting in wet clothing. He considered sneaking into Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger's room to grab something for her to wear on the bottom, but thought better of it. If Arthur (or worse-Sirius) had caught him... They'd blow it out of proportion. No telling what they'd come up with...
He decided upon bringing her a pair of bluish, tartan boxer shorts, hoping that she wouldn't read into the gesture in some odd way. They were clean after all. He grabbed the two items off of the bed and returned to the fire. She now sat up a bit straighter in the chair; her face still held tear tracks, but they seemed to be drier. Her nose was buried in a Jane Austen novel that she must have found on one of the numerous bookshelves that lined the walls. "Here you go, Nymphadora," Remus said as he handed her the clothing.
She looked up and nodded. "Thank you," she said, going back to her reading. "It's Tonks," she added quickly, acting a bit more like her normal self.
Remus smiled wearily. "Right." He left the room to pour her some cocoa while she changed.
He came back, holding his own mug in one hand and a bright pink one in the other. He'd decided upon that certain cup because Molly Weasley found the color galling, and he didn't want Tonks-in another fit of emotion, or pure clumsiness-to break any more of the good china than she already had in her previous visits to Order headquarters.
She was sprawled out on the couch, stretched from one end to the other, still reading. There was no doubt that she was an intelligent woman, but Remus found the sight odd. This girl, calmly devouring a novel with a few fresh droplets on her cheeks didn't match up at all with the pictures that usually came to mind when he thought of her. In fact, it looked more like his idea of a good time. Normally, she was bright, bubbly, and a bit too inquisitive. He silently handed her the cup; he was too preoccupied with other things for words. He felt his face grow a bit hot as he noticed how his shirt clung to her body where it was still a bit damp.
Quickly averting his eyes, he reprimanded himself inside his head. She was much too young for him, and would probably think him an old pervert if she knew the feelings that he had when she gave him that large grin as she'd bound into the kitchen, asking Molly how she could help. He smiled to himself as he thought of how she'd sulk a bit when someone would kindly tell her that they had everything handled well-even if they did not. Letting Tonks near the task of food preparation wasn't a smart idea.
"What are you thinking about?" she asked, bringing his thoughts back to his immediate surroundings.
"Nothing," he replied quickly, wondering how long she'd been staring. She curled her feet up under her body and patted the space on the couch where they had been, beckoning him to sit. He obeyed and took a large sip of the hot drink, scalding his tongue.
Tonks wiped a few tears from her eyes as she laughed at the pained and surprised expression he wore on his face. "Take it easy," she said kindly.
"Are you all right now?" he asked, noticing how easy she was to talk to when she wasn't a human hosepipe.
"A bit better," Tonks replied as her smile faded. Remus immediately felt bad for bringing up whatever terrible events the night had held. "Thank you." The long locks began to hang in her face, and after a few attempts of blowing them away she scrunched up her nose, changing them to a short, silky, lavender-coloured bob. She read for a few moments and Remus tried to do the same, but he found himself unwillingly looking up at her frequently. 'You're just worried about her,' he lied to himself. 'She's like a little sister to you.'
Tonks gave a loud yawn and set the book down on the table beside her. "I'm tired. I think I'll spend the night here, if that's all right with you?" she asked.
Remus nodded. After all, even if he hadn't wanted her to stay, she was a member of the Order and he had no jurisdiction over banning any of them from spending their entire lives at Grimmauld Place-not that anyone in their right mind would do that of their own free will.
She walked out of the room, covering her mouth with her hand as she gave a few subsequent, smaller yawns. Once he no longer heard her loud footsteps on the landing-he now knew why she almost failed in Stealth and Tracking on her Auror tests-he headed up to his room to catch the rest of his night's sleep there.
It felt like mere minutes before light hit Remus's closed eyelids. He thought he heard a voice-probably Molly making breakfast-but he stayed in bed, not opening his eyes. He didn't feel much like eating, anyway.
The voice came again, this time much clearer, and it wasn't Molly. "Remus?" Tonks repeated, this time shaking him slightly. He opened his eyes and looked up to the window. It was, presumably, still the middle of the night. The light was coming from the floor lamp beside his bed, which had been turned on by his visitor.
He sat up, sleepily. "What's wrong?" he asked, wondering what could have happened now. Her face was drenched with salty drops once again.
"I couldn't sleep," she said. Remus became a little annoyed in spite of himself. She was a witch for Merlin's sake! Couldn't she just make herself a Sleeping Draught? Out loud, he tried not to let his annoyance show.
"What happened tonight?" he tried once again.
Tonks, customarily, avoided the topic. "May I sleep with you?" she asked bluntly.
Remus was taken a bit aback, and he knew his face must have turned the color of a ripened tomato. He nodded, and gestured to the other side of the bed as he studied her face and found nothing to suggest that her feelings towards him were anything but platonic.
She crawled into the bed, and Remus almost jumped out as one freezing cold foot touched his leg. It seemed that no sooner had her head hit the pillow than she had fallen into a deep slumber. It was also clear that he wouldn't be doing the same that night. Tonks wasn't exactly the best choice of a bedmate. She had tugged most of the covers over to her and she snored loudly. As she rolled over, facing him, he smiled at how peaceful she looked.
Soon the snores seemed to take on a rhythm, and they eased Remus into sleep. Before he knew it, real sunlight was streaming through the windows. He shivered a bit as he noticed that Tonks was now curled up on the far side with all the bedclothes. Leaving her, he got up and pulled some of his least shabby robes out of his closet, along with faded jeans and a grey sweater that Molly had knitted him the past Christmas. At the time he had smiled kindly, but felt that he'd never wear it. Now the prospect was inviting to his freezing body.
As he headed out his door, he glanced back. Tonks had one thumb in her mouth like a toddler, and her other fist grasped the blanket tightly. He laughed quietly and headed into the kitchen. He grabbed some toast, and buttered it as Sirius gave him death glares from the other side of the table. Remus glanced at everyone else to work out why his arrival was getting such a response. Most seemed absorbed in their own business, and as he caught Harry's eye, who was staring blankly at the wall, the boy shrugged and looked almost as confused as he felt.
Sirius pushed his chair back from the table abruptly and stomped off to where Remus sat. He made a motion to be followed into the hallway. Fred and George looked up from a paper that they were bent over as the two men walked away, appearing to be having a row.
"Why..." Remus began, but Sirius cut him off.
"What do you think you're doing?" he growled.
The more imminent question would be 'what in the world Sirius was talking about?', so that was how Remus responded.
"You know very well what I mean, Moony," Sirius returned coldly.
"I'm afraid I don't, mate."
"Just leave her alone, alright? She's my little cousin!"
Suddenly it all made sense. "It's not what you think, Sirius," Remus returned calmly.
"Moony! I saw you two all curled up together this morning when I went to wake you up for breakfast!" Remus now realized that those extremely loud steps that he heard before the sunlight had forced him to awaken hadn't just been in his head.
"I'm not having sexual relations with Nymphado-" Remus cut off quickly as she came down the stairs, still wearing his clothing. 'Speak of the devil,' he thought with a bit of anger. Her appearance wasn't going to help his case at all.
"Wotcher, Remus. Sirius," she greeted as she walked down the hallway, rubbing her eyes. Her hair was now its customary shade of brilliant, bubble-gum pink, and she showed no signs of the mysterious trauma of the previous night.
Once she had left, Remus spoke again, trying to ignore the new glares that he was getting from his friend. "Something happened to her last night-don't know what; she wouldn't tell me-and she couldn't sleep. She asked if she could sleep in my bed, Sirius!" he defended. "I promise you, there's nothing between us."
Sirius stayed silent for a few moments, stony faced, as if he was deciding whether or not to believe the story. He nodded slowly and grinned in the sly way that had made many girls in their years at Hogwarts fall for him. "You want there to be," he said plainly, with a smirk.
It was useless to deny anything around his friend. Sirius knew him better than anyone else. "How did you know?" he asked grumpily, wishing he had gotten in more actual rest.
"It's obvious, mate," he said, beginning to walk into the kitchen. "You're like someone who's just seen a Basilisk when she's around!" Sirius yelled back, loud enough that the whole house could hear - including his dear old mum.
Remus retreated into the study at her screams about the filthy Muggle-loving half-breeds that had defiled her home. Picking up the blue blanket and folding it, he vowed to forget about these events. She was way out of his league.