Tonks stared up at Remus as she took in his words. Warily, she asked, “What sort of problem?”

 

Remus leaned in close, his eyes still fixed on hers. “You appear to be a bed hog,” he said before giving a slight smile and kissing her lightly on the tip of her nose.

 

With a sleepy grin and a sigh of relief, Tonks sat up so she could scoot over to give Remus room to climb into the bed next to her.

 

“You needn’t move,” Remus said as he straightened from his position leaning over Tonks.

 

She stopped rearranging the pillows, ready to give Remus a piece of her mind until she took a better look at him. He was still fully dressed, wearing a cloak, and was leaning down to pick up his rucksack from the floor. Disappointment flooded through her. She pushed herself up on her knees and shuffled across the bed, stopping in front of him.

 

“Where are you going in the middle of the night?” Tonks asked, putting her hands on her hips.

 

“It’s just gone ten,” Remus replied. “I doubt you’ve been asleep long.” He stared at Tonks for a moment, his gaze flitting down to the stolen Gryffindor shirt before letting the rucksack resting on his shoulder drop to the floor. When he reached out and grabbed a handful of the shirt and tugged, Tonks allowed herself to be pulled forward until their bodies were nearly touching. “Nice shirt,” he murmured.

 

“I thought so,” she replied. Tonks placed her hands on Remus’ shoulders and slowly ran them up until she could thread her fingers through the shaggy hair that brushed the collar of his cloak. “You didn’t tell me where you’re going, Professor.”

 

Remus closed his eyes and placed his hands tentatively on Tonks’ hips as she raked her hands through his hair. “Dung was tipped off to a meeting at a pub up near Appleby. He and I, along with Bill, are going to check it out at Dumbledore’s request.”

 

“Too bad, really,” Tonks said, her pulse speeding as Remus’ hands tightened their grip while she enjoyed the feel of his hair running through her fingers. “Your shirt and I were prepared to show you that you’ve nothing to be jealous of.”

 

Opening his eyes and fixing Tonks with heated stare, Remus slid his hands around to her lower back. “Sirius mentioned you called me a jealous arse.”

 

Tonks felt her cheeks heat and her breathing become shallow under the intensity of Remus’ gaze. She whispered, “I called you an arse because you acted like one.”

 

“Forgive me if I don’t want another man sending his affections your way,” Remus said roughly as he slid his hands to rest on her bottom, grasping her possessively.

 

The husky growl to Remus’ voice caused Tonks to lean forward to capture his lips with hers. He responded just as she’d hoped, pulling her body close as he moved his lips against hers desirously, running his tongue along her lower lip. Tonks opened to him, touching her tongue teasingly to his, coaxing it into her mouth. Tightening her grip in the soft strands of Remus’ hair, keeping him just where she wanted him as he kissed her so thoroughly, Tonks relished the return of the needy ache that had coursed through her body as she’d tried to fall asleep earlier.

 

Releasing her grip on his hair, she trailed her hands down to free the the clasp of Remus’ cloak, pushing it over his shoulders. She couldn’t help the soft moan that escaped when Remus tore his mouth from hers and placed open mouth kisses down the column of her neck as his hands slid under the thin fabric of the worn t-shirt.

 

“When do you have to leave?” Tonks gasped out, gripping Remus’ shoulders tightly as his hands skimmed up her body. She shivered as his hands brushed the sensitive skin of her sides.

 

“Bill’s downstairs,” Remus murmured against her skin, kissing his way back up before nipping her ear lightly with his teeth. “We’re waiting on Dung to arrive.”

 

Remus caressed her, running his thumbs over stimulated skin in a way that made Tonks lose all ability of speech. His mouth returned to hers and their kisses became frenzied, Tonks attempting to tell him what she couldn’t currently do with words: she wanted nobody’s affections but his.

 

Tonks made a whimper of protest as Remus’ hands stopped their ministrations, quickly forgiving him when his strong arms wrapped around her body and lowered her back onto the bed. He kissed her deeply as he grasped her wrists and drew her arms over her head, allowing his weight to press her into the mattress. Rationally, Tonks knew that she escape his grasp, but the feel of Remus’ hands clasped around her wrists and his body on hers aroused her even more. Wanting as much contact as possible with his body, she arched under him, earning her a low groan from Remus.

 

The exhilarating feeling of the sensations Remus was sending through her body was cruelly interrupted by a knock on the door.

 

“Remus! Dung’s here.”

 

Tonks recognized Bill’s voice on the other side of the door.

 

Remus looked down at her, a look of chagrin written across his face. “Just a moment,” he called breathlessly before rocking his body against hers and seizing her lips once more, picking up where they’d been interrupted.

 

“Sorry?” Bill called.

 

Tonks made a low grumble of frustration as Remus broke their kiss again. Bugger off!

 

Uncontrolled laughter—the likes of which she’d heard ringing through the Weasley household many times as the result of some mad brotherly antics—sounded through the door, telling Tonks that she had unwittingly voiced her opinion out loud. She grinned sheepishly up at Remus and watched his shy smile grace his face as he loosened his grip on her wrists.

 

“I’m giving you five minutes, Lupin,” Bill called. Tonks could hear the smile in his voice.

 

Remus closed his eyes for a moment and took deep, shuddering breath. “Unfortunately, duty calls.” He bent and gave Tonks a final lingering kiss before he released her hands and pushed himself up from the bed.

 

With the unrelenting—but sweetest—ache still distracting her, Tonks sighed heavily, bereft at the loss of Remus’ lean form lying atop hers. “You’d better be prepared to make this up to me, Lupin,” she said as she crawled back up the bed and fluffed a pillow with a punch before flopping on her back.

 

Remus stopped adjusting his clothing to peer at Tonks with a grin. “Lupin?”

 

“Yes,” she replied tartly.

 

Tonks’ pulse sped as Remus slowly stalked toward her and placed his hands on the bed, lowering his face close to hers.

 

“I shall endeavor to make it up to you as soon as possible,” Remus said before touching his lips to Tonks’ lightly, taking his time to slowly deepen the kiss until they were once again breathless and Tonks was desperately wishing that Remus wasn’t on his way out for a mission.

 

“Make sure you do,” Tonks said dazedly once they broke apart, forgiving Remus his adorably smug expression. “Are you still feeling jealous?”

 

“The only thing I’m jealous of at the moment is my old shirt,” Remus said as he straightened. He took a deep breath and went back to adjusting his clothing. At Tonks’ raised eyebrows, he continued, “It gets to spend the night with you.”

 

Tonks giggled as Remus pulled the covers over her body. “How long will you be gone?” she asked around a yawn.

 

“Hopefully no more than one night,” he replied as he sat on the bed. Remus looked

down at her, his brow furrowed in concern. “I should have let you sleep rather than wake you.”

 

“That wouldn’t have been as much fun, Professor,” Tonks replied with a cheeky grin. “Besides, you would have found me in a nark tomorrow.” She reached out and tugged on the front the cloak he’d donned and pulled him down for a swift kiss. “Now go before Bill comes back to tell you your five minutes are up.”

 

Taking delight in the reluctance on Remus’ face as he stood and crossed to the door, Tonks turned her head into his pillow once more, deeply inhaling his scent as she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep once more.

 

.

 

Tonks was disappointed when Remus didn’t make it back the following day or evening, and was downright petulant when Friday afternoon came and she still hadn’t heard from him. With only the distracting memories of the kisses they’d shared two nights prior, her mood darkened as the day progressed. Her narky mood continued when she checked her post box late afternoon and found a note from Paul Quigley. Grumpily, she returned to the Ministry and told Lucy that they would have to go out for drinks another night, although she happily agreed when Lucy demanded that they at least share Chinese food before Tonks had to set out for what she’d called her ‘work commitment’. Wanting to make it up to her friend that she hadn’t been as vigilant as she should in her correspondence, Tonks offered to pick up their takeaway—after a long week of work, it would be nice to sit around and catch up, even for a short while.

 

She rushed home after her last case of the day ended—a frustratingly banal case of noise disturbance reported by an elderly couple who complained that a neighbor was harboring a Dark Creature. Turns out, the neighbor bread Kneazles, and one had been in the process of giving birth for the past day and a half. Tonks suspected that the mad old woman must have had her ear plastered to the shared wall between their sitting rooms to be able to hear the goings-on next door. Determined not to keep her friend waiting, she skipped filing the paperwork—vowing to return to the Ministry over the weekend to file her report. Food in tow, Tonks hurried up the steps of her building to her door, finding Lucy already there.

 

“Did you change your wards, or something?” Lucy asked, her brows furrowed. “I tried to get in to take over your sofa and help myself to your tea, but I couldn’t.”

 

“Sorry,” Tonks said, thinking she had a lot of catching up to do with her friend—even though there was frustratingly little she could tell her. “Mad-Eye wanted me to tighten my security.”

 

Lucy shook her head and smiled as Tonks drew her wand and placed her hand on the door to release her wards. “Who does he think’s after you this time? Still that bloke from the patent office who he said was watching you that day in the cafeteria?”

 

Tonks laughed as she opened her door and let them in. “I reckon that poor sod won’t look at a woman ever again!”

 

Lucy flopped down on the sofa and kicked off her heels as Tonks set their dinner on the coffee table. Working in the Magical Legal Department of the Ministry defending wizards and witches who faced charges by the Wizengamot, Lucy always wore a tailored shirt and either a chic pencil skirt or trousers under her robes; the image of her sprawled across the cushions in her professional attire—today a pair of neatly pressed charcoal gray trousers—brought a smile to Tonks’ face.

 

“Why’d you change the pink?” Tonks asked as she walked to her cupboard and pulled down two plates.

 

Lucy sighed as she pulled a lock of her black-streaked hair forward to examine it critically before flipping it back to join the rest of her chin-length blonde hair. “Some old biddy from the Wizengamot complained to my boss that the pink was ‘unprofessional and unbecoming of the court’, so I changed it.” She sat up and grabbed the sack of food and began unloading. “I read in the Prophet that the woman took Mad-Eye’s place as Defense teacher this year,” she said as she set out the containers.

 

Tonks looked up sharply as she placed the plates on the table. “Umbridge?”

 

Lucy rolled her eyes. “The one and only. An obnoxious hag of a woman.”

 

Thinking of the anti-werewolf legislation Umbridge favored, Tonks nodded her head in agreement as she rummaged through the sack for chopsticks.

 

“Let’s not take precious time talking about the toad when we’ve more important things to discuss,” Lucy said with a smile as she opened a carton of fried rice and accepted a pair of chopsticks from Tonks.

 

“Such as?” Tonks asked innocently.

 

Lucy huffed in exasperation and heaped rice on her plate. “Now that I know you’re not shagging Mad-Eye, I want to hear about this mystery man. And there’s no use denying it,” she said, pointing a chopstick at Tonks. “I can see it written all over your face. Rice?” she asked, holding up the carton.

 

Tonks nodded and pulled egg rolls from their wrappings as she thought of what to say. “He’s…” Wonderful? Smart? Caring? Sexy? “ A bit older than us,” Tonks finished lamely.

 

Her friend eyed her critically as she accepted an egg roll. “Like five or six years older, or Mad-Eye older?”

 

Tonks giggled as she opened her chopsticks. “Not quite Mad-Eye older.”

 

“Hmmm,” Lucy said thoughtfully. “You’re very reluctant to provide details, Auror Tonks.”

 

Tonks stuffed a large bite of fried rice in her mouth and nodded, glad that her full mouth prevented her from answering. After she’d swallowed her large bite, Tonks smiled sweetly at Lucy and said, “What about you? Whatever happened to that bloke from the Foreign Affairs Department?”

 

“Gods, he turned out to be dull as a post,” Lucy replied before taking a bite of egg roll.

 

Tonks listened as they ate, laughing along the way, as Lucy described her series of desperately dull dates she’d had with the wizard someone in her office had set her up with.

 

“His snogging was as dull as his conversation,” Lucy lamented. “I was hoping that he was at least a good kisser under that boredom.” She sighed dramatically. “I chucked him over a few weeks ago.”

 

Tonks smiled. “Nothing worse than a terrible snog,” she said as she began gathering the the cartons and paper from their dinner.

 

“Have you met anyone new lately you’d want to set me up with?” Lucy asked as she stood from the couch to deposit their trash in the rubbish bin.

 

Fighting the urge to laugh loudly at the list of single men she’d interacted with recently—Mundungus, Sirius, and Dedalus’ names flitting through her head—Tonks merely shook her head with a smile as she offered to make them tea before she had to set out on her mission. “Wait,” she began thoughtfully as she dropped tea bags into mugs, “do you know Henry Williamson?”

 

Lucy gave her an impatient look as she poured water from the kettle into the mugs. “Don’t be daft. Williamson’s a married man.”

 

“Yes, I know he’s married, but he keeps asking about setting me up with a friend of his.”

 

“Really?”

 

Tonks nodded. “A bloke named Hamish from Magical Sports.”

 

“Do you know anything about him?” Lucy asked as she picked up her tea.

 

Taking a sip and resting against her counter, Tonks thought over what Henry had told her about his friend and smiled at the thought that they could actually be a good match. “He’s Scottish, Muggle-born, and plays rugby with his brothers.”

 

“Really?” Lucy asked again, obviously intrigued. “The mates my brother played rugby with were all shaggably fit.” She took another sip and said, “I may have to find an excuse to take a trip through the Magical Sports office next week. I can pretend to be checking on the stupid arse they just transferred to Legal from their department.” Lucy stopped to place a hand on her hip. “Now, I know you have to leave for this mission of yours, but I’m not letting you leave until you tell me something about the man who finally got you to start dating again.”

 

Tonks laughed lightly and motioned for Lucy to follow her to the bedroom so she could get dressed for her role as Piper. Lucy lounged on her bed sipping her tea as Tonks rummaged through her clean clothes for her long black jumper and leggings. Without sharing any details about Remus or anything about how they'd met, Tonks happily told Lucy about their first date; the music, the picnic, their dance. Realizing that she was smiling like mad and rhapsodizing enthusiastically as she dressed, Tonks stopped mid-sentence when she saw Lucy grinning at her.

 

“I think this is more than just one brilliant date,” she said, eyeing Tonks shrewdly. When Tonks simply bent down to gather her boots, attempting to hide the fact that she was still smiling like a fool, Lucy said, “Fine, keep your secrets for now. But you do have to tell me if he’s a better kisser than my last date.”

 

Tonks sat down on the bed and flopped back, sighing contentedly as images from their encounter in Remus’ bed earlier that week flooded her mind. “He’s bloody brilliant.”

 

A knock at the door prevented Tonks from commenting further, at least for a few seconds. If Remus was standing on the other side of her door, she’d likely have to endure Lucy’s questions sooner rather than later.

 

“Could that be the mystery man himself?” Lucy asked excitedly as she sat up and set her mug on the bedside table.

 

“I’m actually not sure,” Tonks said, sitting up. With her mission to the Quill that night, she supposed it could be Mad-Eye. Or it could be Edith if the older woman had noticed Lucy waiting in the hall before she’d arrived. She stood from the bed and walked to her door, hoping Remus was indeed returning from his mission, even if it meant having to subject him to her curious friend. She opened the door and froze, gaping open-mouthed at the man standing in the hall. That it might have been Severus knocking hadn’t occurred since he’d asked her to meet at the Hog’s Head the last time he’d had information to pass on.

 

“Stop staring and let me in lest someone sees me,” Severus said.

 

Tonks knew Severus well enough to know he wouldn’t be happy to see another former student sitting in her flat. “I have company.”

 

Curling his lip in distaste, he replied, “I’m well aware that you’re carrying on with the werewolf.”

 

Irritated that he’d again referred to Remus as ‘the werewolf’, Tonks said, “Fine,” and stepped aside to allow him entry into her flat.

 

As soon as Severus stepped through the door and caught sight of Lucy waiting expectantly as she leaned against the bookshelf, he stiffened visibly and paused for several seconds before he said, “Miss Hale.”

 

Tonks eyed her friend and had a hard time not bursting into laughter at the incredulous look on her face. Lucy’s gaze darted to Tonks and she raised her eyebrows in question, clearly wondering if Severus was the mystery man she wasn’t keen on talking about yet.

 

“Professor Snape,” Lucy said, obviously still getting over her shock since she was at a loss for anything clever to say, only a small smile playing at her lips.

 

Before Lucy could say anything, Tonks said, “Professor Snape is consulting with the Auror Department on...a case involving potions.” She turned to Severus. “If you’ve something to report, Lucy was getting ready to go so I can leave for work.”

 

“And miss whatever you two are going to talk about?” Lucy said, not moving from her spot. “Not bloody likely.”

 

Severus stared at Lucy with his usual impassive expression, but Tonks knew better. Noticing the tension in his jaw, she took pity on him—even though he had insisted that he come in.

 

“I can’t let you overhear something about an ongoing investigation,” Tonks said as she stepped forward and grabbed Lucy’s hand, tugging her toward the door.

 

“Oh, all right,” Lucy said as she stopped to slide her feet into her heels and grab her robes from the sofa. “But if you go more than a week again without answering me, I’m going to come down the your department and cause a scene.”

 

Tonks giggled and pulled the door open wider to see her friend out. “I’ve no doubt you will.”

 

“Interesting to see you again, Professor,” Lucy called over her shoulder.

 

Once they’d walked into the hall and Tonks had pulled the door closed behind them, Lucy turned and hissed, “Surely you’re not snogging Snape.”

 

Tonks rolled her eyes. “Do you honestly think Severus Snape would invite me to a park full of Muggles and ask me to dance?”

 

Lucy laughed loudly, causing Tonks to grin at the absurdity of what she’d said. “Fair point.”

 

Tonks hugged Lucy tightly and thanked her for dinner, promising to find out more about Hamish the following week. She entered her flat to find Severus standing in the exact spot as when she’d escorted Lucy out.

 

He glared at Tonks. “A warning would have been welcome.”

 

She placed her hands on her hips. “I warned you I had company.”

 

“I assumed it was the werewolf, who wouldn’t have found my turning up at your flat an odd occurrence.”

 

Tonks huffed irritably. “Enough with calling him the werewolf,” she said, her voice rising. “It’s not like it puts me off.”

 

“It should,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

Tonks mirrored his position. “It doesn’t.” They glared wordlessly at one another for a beat before Tonks asked, “What is it you need to tell me?”

 

“Your presence at the Quill with your colleague this week was noted.”

 

“Bugger,” Tonks mumbled under her breath. “Noted by whom?”  

 

“An informant saw you enter the building.”

 

Tonks took a deep breath and exhaled deeply. “Surely they know the Auror Department would investigate the disappearance of Magical Law Enforcement employee—even a parchment pusher like Murphy.”

 

Severus gave a stiff nod of agreement and uncrossed his arms before striding to her arm chair and sitting down. Relaxing her posture, Tonks picked up her wand from the coffee table and said, “Accio,” thinking of her boots sitting next to her bed. After they’d sailed through the air, landing at her feet with a thud, Tonks decided to follow Severus’ example and sit on the sofa while she tied her laces, although she was actively fighting the urge to argue with him further.

 

“What does this mean for tonight?” Tonks asked as she shoved her feet into her boots.

 

“Quigley was questioned about your visit. He said he mentioned his new help in the interview.” Severus sat forward, placing his elbows on his knees and staring at Tonks. “He may bring it up with you.”

 

Tonks shrugged as she looked down to tie her laces. “Let him bring it up,” she said. “I Confunded him to think Murphy and Piper had never met.”

 

“And there are five witnesses, myself included, who saw Piper dump Murphy in a chair after you’d disposed of him in the alley.”

 

Tonks stopped her task and sat up. “Shit.”

 

“Precisely,” Severus said as he sat back in his chair. “Lucky for you, Quigley is known as a drunk who rarely gets the details correct. Hence Lucius’ choice of using the Quill.”

 

Tonks closed her eyes and scrubbed her hands over her face, thinking quickly. “If he asks, I’ll just tell him I don’t know—and don’t care to know—these men’s names. Maybe I’ve interacted with Murphy, maybe not.”

 

“The sooner you learn something useful and we can end this mission, the better.”

 

Tonks looked up, ready with an angry retort about where he could shove his thoughts, but stopped when she caught sight of Severus watching her. It was with the same expression he’d worn earlier in the week when he had shown up at the Hog’s Head after the attack. It was just as disconcerting at that moment as it had been five days earlier.

 

Deciding to once again ignore the hint of concern in Severus’ face, Tonks went back to tying her laces. “If you’ve any insights into Runes that might open that bloody door, I’d be happy to take suggestions.”

 

“What have you tried so far?”

 

With a sigh, Tonks told him what combinations she’d tried and what other ideas she had. “I thought about getting permission to ask Hermione. This seems like the sort of thing she’d be good at figuring out.”

 

Severus ignored her comment about Hermione and said, “You’re forgetting something.”

 

“Thanks for stating the obvious,” Tonks said irritably, thinking her evening was quickly going to shit. Finished with her boots, she sat up and waved her hand impatiently for him to elaborate.

 

“They are all quite proud to be members of the limited number of Pure-blood families.”

 

Tonks thought for a moment before slapping a hand to her forehead and slumping back against the cushion of her sofa with a groan. “I can’t believe I forgot about the whole ‘Sacred Twenty Eight’ rubbish.” She dropped her hand and looked at Severus. “Even though you’re being a grumpy git again, I appreciate the tip.”

 

Tonks was relieved to see Severus simply staring at her with his impassive expression again, all traces of concern gone from his face. He nodded his head and stood from the chair. “I’ll likely be otherwise occupied this evening, and since your—” He paused, looking distinctly like he was fighting sneering bitterly before he continued, “—other contact is apparently still away, Moody will be at Headquarters when you’re finished.”

 

Tonks smiled. “Good. I’ve something to chat with Mad-Eye about,” she said, suddenly thinking there was a bright spot on the horizon since she’d get to grill him a little over his intentions with Edith. “Are we done, then?”

 

Severus nodded again and strode to the door, pausing once he’d reached for the handle to say over his shoulder, “You’ll be happy to know that Avery is currently out of the country.”

 

Another bright spot! “Thank Merlin,” Tonks said with an exaggerated sigh as she stood from the sofa.

 

“Watch yourself this evening,” Severus said as he pulled the door open.

 

“I’ll be careful.”

 

Severus turned abruptly. “You’re never careful.”

 

With a grin, Tonks replied, “I’ll be vigilant, then. Constantly.”

 

Severus’ lips turned up in his almost-grin before he exited, pulling the door closed behind him.

 

The previous evenings she’d spent at the Quill, Tonks hadn’t dreaded; she’d been eager to see what useful information she could retrieve for the Order. Tonight she walked with heavy steps to her bedroom to fetch her plain black robes. Her decision to Confund her colleague and Quigley, she now realized, had possibly been rash. A decision she’d made simply in reaction rather than taking the time to think it through or see how the situation played out. She hated feeling unsure about her actions and wanted very much to take Aberforth’s advice against second guesses so she didn’t drive herself mad. But it wasn’t that simple. Tonks had planned this mission and was determined to see it a success.

 

Stop being daft.

 

Tonks slipped her arms through her robes and squared her shoulders. As she slipped her wand into the waistband of her leggings, she decided she would do whatever it took that evening to find something useful and make sure her cover wasn’t blown.





A/N: Well...ahem...I hope their activities made up for the little cliffie from last chapter. Curious to see what happens next?? Tell me so in a review!

As usual, not mine, but Jo's.

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