Tonks settled on the damask sofa while Sirius poured them each a glass of Firewhisky and settled in one of the wing-backed chairs in the drawing room of Grimmauld Place. Remus had left for his meeting with an old contact of Mad-Eye’s, leaving Tonks to keep Sirius company for the evening so he didn’t drunkenly brood over the house being empty now that Harry and the others had boarded the train back to Hogwarts the day before. She flipped through the stack of CDs she’d brought from her flat for entertainment, trying to decide where to start her cousin’s Muggle music instruction. She chose her favorite U2 album, Joshua Tree, and placed the disc in her player. With a few taps of her wand, the music started from the charmed player.
“So,” Sirius leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “Tell me about this mission with Snivellus.”
“Can’t,” Tonks replied as she reached for her drink. “Dumbledore wants it kept quiet.” She took a sip of her whisky, wincing a little at the burning sensation it left as she swallowed. “And please don’t call him that.”
Sirius barked a rough laugh. “He deserves to be called worse.”
Tonks sighed. Having watched interactions between Sirius and Severus, the two men clearly despised each other. She also knew from her mother that the feelings went as far back as their school days. Her mum had been at school only briefly with Sirius, but she’d reminisced a few times about how her cousin had been a trouble-maker who’d tangled with some students more than others. Severus was apparently the one he’d tangled with the most.
“You two really can’t stand each other, can you?” Tonks asked as she watched Sirius drain his drink.
“I think the word you’re looking for is ‘hate’,” he replied as he refilled his glass.
“Hate is awfully strong,” Tonks said cautiously.
Sirius snorted. “I reckon he feels the same way about me.” He peered at her over his glass. “Don’t you feel the same way?”
“Why should I hate him?” Tonks said with a shrug. “We work together better than I thought we would.”
“That so?” Sirius asked, giving her a scrutinizing look.
“I mean, he’s a bit of a grumpy git, but we get on all right.” Tonks had the feeling that she should definitely not mention to her cousin that she’d suggested to Severus that they were friends.
Sirius grunted noncommittally, still watching her closely.
“What do you think of the music?” Tonks asked in hopes of changing the subject. Her duties that night included keeping Sirius from brooding, not sending him into a tailspin of gloom. Thankfully, her tactic worked, and they drank and talked animatedly while the album played. They discussed the various concerts they’d attended, both Muggle and Wizarding bands. Sirius conceded that while he’d owned a few Muggle concert t-shirts as a teenager, they’d been purchased primarily to anger his mother rather than show off his taste in music. She found out his Muggle concert goings had been limited to one rock band show Lily Potter had taken them all to when they graduated from Hogwarts. He also happily told Tonks of a Hobgoblins concert he’d attended, and she told him of the Weird Sisters shows she’d attended.
Once the Joshua Tree ended, Tonks switched to a disc that had been a gift from her best female friend at school, who happened to be a Muggle-born. It was a compilation of 1980’s-era love songs.
“This,” Tonks said as she tapped her wand to the player once more. “Is to help with your personal growth project.”
Sirius arched a questioning eyebrow at her as the lyrics of a mournful angst-driven ballad filled the room. “This is awfully girly. You’re not going to offer to paint my toenails or any other such daft female custom next, are you?”
Tonks giggled at the mental image of propping Sirius’ feet on the coffee table and charming his toenails garish colors. “Of course not! These songs are just something to go along with your new books. Have you had time to start one?”
Sirius rolled his eyes as he took a sip of his drink. “All I have is time, dear cousin. The one I started isn’t half bad.”
“Great,” Tonks said cheerfully, throwing back the rest of her drink, which earned her an amused expression from Sirius. Remembering a comment he’d made to Emmeline before an Order meeting, she said, “You’ve pestered me enough about my love life. Let’s hear about who you fancy.”
“Unless you think I’ve actually joined an ex-convicts singles group, there isn’t much to tell,” Sirius said with a wry smile.
“I think there’s someone you want to chat up.”
Sirius huffed. Whether it was in annoyance or amusement, Tonks couldn’t quite tell. “Since I’m only allowed contact with Order members, who would you set me up with?”
“McGonagall,” Tonks said, unable to conceal her laugh.
Sirius snorted and poured them each more drink. “Mmm, yes. I do love all the Tartan she wears,” he said, sending Tonks into a fit of giggles. “And her hair up in that bun… .”
“You do talk rubbish sometimes, you know?” Tonks said, still laughing.
Tonks giggled uncontrollably as Sirius continued rhapsodizing about the allure of Professor McGonagall as they finished yet another drink. She threatened him with a Silencing Charm if he didn’t stop when he started in on the possibility of her wearing Tartan knickers.
Once her laughter subsided, Tonks gave Sirius a pointed look and asked, “What would you say about Emmeline?”
“Emmeline is a lady,” Sirius said after a long swallow of his drink.
Tonks’ giggles were renewed as she asked, “And McGonagall isn’t?”
“Luckily, I wouldn’t know,” he replied, slouching back in his chair and propping his feet on the coffee table.
“You should ask her to stay after an Order meeting or something.” Tonks prompted.
“McGonagall?” he deadpanned.
“No!” Tonks said as she tossed a musty throw pillow at him. “Emmeline, you git. You can find out what’s under that pretty green shawl she wears all the time.”
Sirius shook his head. Tonks was glad to see that he appeared amused rather than grumpy. “It’s been so long since a woman fell for my charm, I may have forgotten how to be charming.”
“It’s like riding a broom, isn’t it? Once you learn, you never forget and all that,” Tonks said as she tried to wave her cousin off when he went to pour another drink. He ignored her and poured anyway. “According to Mum, you had quite a knack for it.”
“Riding a broom?”
Tonks rolled her eyes and—against her better judgement considering how tipsy she was already feeling—took a drink from the glass Sirius had refreshed. “You know what I mean, you daft bugger.”
“We’ll see,” Sirius replied with a shrug. “Once upon a time, she resisted my charm.”
Tonks thought back to the meeting and remembered the exchange between Sirius and Emmeline. It had been playful and teasing. She suddenly felt the urge to play match-maker. “She borrowed my book, you know.”
Sirius furrowed his brows at her in confusion.
“Emmeline,” Tonks elaborated. “She borrowed that first romance novel I gave you. You should ask her if she’d like to read another.”
“Are we starting a book club now?” Sirius asked with a chuckle. “Membership limited to love-starved Order members?”
“I think it’s a brilliant idea,” Tonks said. “We could trade books. I bet Molly has some books she could contribute.”
Sirius groaned loudly after taking a drink. “There’s an image I could live without,” he said shaking his head. “Molly in that terrible purple quilted dressing gown, reading a romance novel.”
Tonks laughed loudly. “How do you know she doesn’t wear something different when she’s reading her romance books?” she asked, earning the throw pillow being tossed back at her from where Sirius sat in the chair. She let out a Sirius-like bark of laughter and realized the Firewhisky was going to her head. Regardless of her slightly inebriated state, she wasn’t about to ruin Sirius’ good mood by telling him she needed to get home.
“Come on,” Tonks said, reaching a hand out to Sirius to help him off the couch. “Let’s go make some sandwiches.”
Sirius allowed himself to be pulled to his feel. “Is food always your answer?”
“Yes,” she said as she drew her wand and levitated the CD player and picked up the stack of discs.
Despite their intoxication, Tonks and Sirius managed to make a few toasted cheese sandwiches while Tonks continued to educate Sirius on the virtues of Muggle music. Two sandwiches and another pour of whisky—courtesy of her cousin—later had Tonks standing on a chair loudly singing, “Don’t Stop Believing” along with Journey into a wooden spoon-turned microphone. She stopped abruptly and burst into laughter as the kitchen door swung open, Mad-Eye stumping through, followed closely by Remus.
“Boys!” Tonks shouted excitedly over the music, pausing mid-lyric as the song continued on without her. “Loves of my life! Thank goodness you’re back!”
Mad-Eye and Remus paused in the doorway and stared at the scene before them. Mad-Eye’s good eye surveyed the table and took in the bottle of Firewhisky resting half-empty next to their glasses. Remus raised his wand and flicked it at the CD player, lowering the volume before he quickly stepped forward and wrapped an arm around Tonks’ waist as she teetered on the kitchen chair.
“Are you drunk, lass?” Mad-Eye growled.
“Reckon I’m right pissed, Alastor, old boy,” Tonks said cheerfully. Remus chuckled as he lifted Tonks and set her on the floor.
Sirius let out a loud bark of laughter, which continued into uncontrollable mirth that had him nearly falling from his seat.
“Alastor?” Mad-Eye asked gruffly before turning to Sirius. “I’ll have you know it took me more than a minute to get your mother to shut up,” he said to Sirius.
Her cousin’s loud laughter finally subsided long enough to answer Mad-eye. “Oh, please tell me my dear old mum is enjoying our little show!”
Mad-Eye glared at Sirius. “Any particular reason you decided to get her drunk?” he growled.
“Uh-oh, Sirius, you’ve upset Mad-Eye,” Tonks taunted. She closed her eyes and morphed her hair to his grizzled gray locks. When she opened her eyes again, Mad-Eye had turned his glare to her. “Oh, look at his face! He’s so angry!” She schooled her features into a stern look and gave a low growl.
Sirius burst into renewed laughter and dropped his forehead to his arm resting on the table, shoulders shaking as he sniggered hysterically.
Remus stepped forward and placed the cork in the open bottle resting on the table. “I think you two should call it quits for the night.” Tonks though he looked as though he was trying hard to smother a smile.
“Come on, Tonks. I think it’s time I take you home,” Mad-Eye grumbled.
Tonks groaned. “I think Side-Along Appartition. Apptarition.” She shoved Sirius hard on the should for laughing at her inability to articulate. “If I Apparate, I’d likely boot.” She pointed a finger at Mad-Eye. “All over your boots.”
Mad-Eye glared again as Tonks and Sirius laughed as though she’d just said something completely clever.
“She can stay over,” Remus said, shaking his head with a small smile.
“Now you’re talking, love!” Tonks said brightly.
Remus quickly glanced at Mad-Eye before looking at Tonks with raised eyebrows. “In the girls’ room.”
“Oh, Professor, you’re no fun,” Tonks said with a sigh as she leaned her head against Remus’ chest.
Once Remus had convinced Mad-Eye that she would be all right sleeping off the Firewhisky in the girls’ old room—even pissed, Tonks could recognize how reluctant Mad-Eye was to leave her at Headquarters—Tonks and Sirius persuaded Remus to sit with them for one last drink while they let the remainder of the album play. Tonks barely touched the drink her cousin had poured. She was already sure to have a hangover in the morning, and she was expected at her parents’ house for breakfast. While Remus sipped his whisky, Tonks filled him in on her quest to set up Sirius with Emmeline. Remus smiled and mirrored what Sirius had said earlier about Emmeline once being immune to Sirius’ charm.
“Yes, but now he’s older and more mature,” Tonks said.
“I think he’s got his work cut out for him,” Remus said with a grin. He raised his glass to Sirius before downing the little that was left. “Good luck, mate.”
“If a grumpy old sod like you can get a girl, there’s certainly hope for me,” Sirius said.
“That’s the spirit,” Tonks said around a wide yawn, glancing at the wall clock.
“I think it’s your bedtime,” Remus said. “Especially since you had a late night last night followed by an early morning.”
Tonks yawned again and said, “Escort me to my room, Professor.” She got to her feet and patted Sirius on the head. “Thank you for giving me more laughs tonight than I’ve had in ages.”
“I should say the same to you,” Sirius said as he stood from the table. “I told I’d get you good and pissed.”
“Mission accomplished,” Tonks said as she looped her arm around Remus’ waist.
Tonks stopped to use the loo before she entered the room Hermione and Ginny shared all summer. Remus paused in turning down the bed as she entered. “Are you going to start tucking me in every night?” Tonks asked with a smile.
“As often as you’ll allow it,” Remus said, returning her smile. “Although I’m not available every night.”
Tonks walked to Remus and put a hand on his shoulder to steady herself as she attempted to remove her boots. Before she could pry even one boot from her foot, Tonks lost her balance and swayed, crashing into Remus as she laughed. His arm came around her waist to steady her, although, it wasn’t much help as she attempted again to remove her boot and ended up nearly toppling to the floor.
“Here.” Remus turned her body and guided her to take a seat on the bed. “Allow me,” he said as he kneeled at her feet and began unlacing her boots.
Tonks reached out and brushed the hair back from Remus’ forehead. “Mmmm, s’one of the things I love about you,” she said sleepily. The endless merriment that had been present while she’d been drinking with Sirius was slowly fading into exhaustion.
Remus raised his eyebrows at Tonks. “What’s that, may I ask?”
“You’re such a gentleman,” she said as she flopped back on the bed. “Although sometimes I wish you weren’t.”
“Believe me, I feel precisely the same,” he replied, earning him a sleepy chuckle from Tonks.
She felt her boots and socks being pulled one by one from her feet and reached down to undo the button and zip on her jeans. “Pull,” she said to Remus as she lifted one of her legs to him.
“This doesn’t seem very gentlemanly,” he replied. Tonks could hear the smile in his voice.
“Sure it is. Your mate got me drunk, now you’re making sure I’m comfortable enough to sleep.”
“I’m renewing my statement from last night that you’re overestimating my self-control,” Remus said as he tugged on one leg of her jeans.
“Oh, don’t worry,” Tonks said, yawning widely again. “I’m wearing knickers.”
Tonks giggled while Remus pulled the remaining leg of her jeans free. “There’s another.”
“Thing I love,” Tonks said, smiling as she slowly pushed herself up to a sitting position. “You make me laugh.”
“I’ve smiled more in the last month than I have in the past ten years.” Remus smiled his shy smile at her and placed a hand on her chin, drawing her closer for a quick kiss. “But for now, you should sleep off the hangover-inducing amount of whisky your cousin talked you in to consuming.”
Tonks flicked her wand to set an alarm and crawled in the bed, allowing Remus to pull the covers over her. “He was happy tonight, wasn’t he?”
“He was,” Remus said after kissing her lightly once more. “It’s good to see a smile on his face.”
Tonks woke the next morning to the chirping sound of her wand alerting her cruelly that it was time to get out of bed. She groaned as she rolled over and felt the aching in her head signaling that she had indeed drank enough Firewhisky to induce a hangover. Luckily, the heavy velvet curtains blocked out most of the light, allowing her to open her eyes without her headache being worsened by blinding sunlight. She smiled as she caught site of the small glass of water and potion vial sitting on the bedside table. Wincing slightly at the movement, Tonks cautiously pushed herself into a sitting position so she could down the potion and the water. Her stomach roiled a bit in protest before whatever was in the vial Remus had left her kicked in. After a few deep breaths, she felt well enough to at least put on her jeans and boots and walk to the loo to take care of her next most pressing need.
A few minutes later, equally thankful for the potion and the loo, Tonks entered the kitchen to find Remus sitting at the table leafing through the Sunday Prophet. He looked up with a small smile.
“Feeling all right this morning, Nymphadora?” he asked.
“Your friend is a buggering git,” Tonks said, her voice a bit hoarse from the laughter and singing escapades from the night before. She stopped to kiss a chuckling Remus on the cheek since she had dragon breath from not cleaning her teeth before falling asleep. “But thank you for the potion. Hopefully it will help me survive my mother’s evil eye she’s no doubt going to give me.”
“Blame it on your cousin,” Remus said as he pulled out the chair next to him.
“Oh, I fully intend to,” Tonks said, waving off the chair Remus had pulled out for her. “I need to get going so I’ve time to shower before going round to my mum and dad’s.”
“Are you having tea with your neighbor Edith tonight?” Remus asked.
“Since you have guard duty, I suppose I’ve no better prospects,” Tonks said with a pout. “Did Mad-Eye say if he was coming or not? She invited him too.”
Remus smiled widely. “He will not be sitting for tea tonight because he already visited Edith yesterday afternoon.”
“What?” Tonks said with a squeal, immediately regretting the exclamation when her head throbbed in protest.
Remus nodded. “He informed me last night.”
“That’ll make tea with Edith even more fun this evening, then.”
With one last chaste kiss to Remus’ cheek, Tonks left to shower. She opted out of a run in deference to her hangover and made it to her parents’ house just as her mother was setting breakfast on the table. In the annoying way that mothers know things, Andromeda knew immediately that Tonks wasn’t feeling her best that morning. Tonks was relieved at the amused expression her mother gave rather than the evil eye she’d been expecting; apparently her dad had been in a similar state when he’d once bought in to a poker game with Sirius.
After eating a meager breakfast that paled in comparison to her usual when her mother cooked, Tonks retired to the comfy sofa in her dad’s study. Most of the time, being the only child—and therefore the only recipient of her parents’ constant attention and worry—drove her batty. But as her mother doted on her during the day, bringing her tea and toast and draping a blanket over her as she dozed, Tonks was happy to be the over-indulged only child.
Later that evening, tea with Edith proved to be as entertaining as Tonks had hoped. Edith was delighted that Mad-Eye had accepted her invitation to drop by the previous afternoon. Apparently, she did indeed have a crush on the man and had since her days of working in the Ministry. Tonks listened sympathetically as Edith told her that she’d become a widow during the first war and smiled as she went on to tell her about how she’d noticed Mad-Eye after she’d crawled out of the hole of despair following her husband’s death. She tasked Tonks with the job of doing some recognizance work to find out if Mad-Eye enjoyed the tea and conversation. Delightedly thinking Edith sounded like a school girl, Tonks was keen to ask Mad-Eye about their time together, even if to push her mentor’s buttons a bit.
Edith shooed her out once Tonks started yawning, tired despite her nap earlier on her father’s sofa. She said goodnight and promised to return later that week before she crossed the hall to her flat. As she drew her wand and placed her hand on the door, she gasped and pointed her wand at the invisible assailant who grabbed her elbow.
Tonks cursed herself at her lack of vigilance as a voice she recognized said into her ear, “Open the door and let me in.”
A/N: Hello! NaNoWriMo came to a close midnight November 30th, and I'm happy to report that I "won"—which means that I successfully wrote 50,000 (50,019 to be exact) words toward an original fiction piece. Hooray!!!!! A wonderful (and exhausting) experience that I am glad won't be necessary to repeat until next November:).
I hope you enjoy the moment of cousinly bonding in this chapter, there is more action to come in the next chapter, so stay tuned!
As usual, it's Jo's, not mine. Also, music credit for the "Joshua Tree" album goes to U2 (the best band in all of creation IMO:).
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