Author's Note: I'm definitely not JKR but these are her characters. This was originally written for the Last Chance Full Moon Showdown at MetamorficMoon's LJ Community, where it won the Members' Choice Fic Award. I know a lot of names I see around here voted for the fics and the artwork there and thank you all for supporting everyone. And especially the ones who voted for this, obviously:) "Raw" is dedicated to Kileaiya.

I took a few deep breaths with this story as I normally don't write as much intimate and, hopefully, sexy stuff as there is here. So please note the rating and feedback is very appreciated. :)

Raw

She's not really a morning person but that could all be about to change. When you've been face to face with a man in the darkness, breathing him in, your fingers and lips travelling the curves and textures of him, well, then it's perhaps not so surprising that you tend to see him – and mornings - in a whole new light.

And it seems in the warm, summery glow of this early morning, filtering through the crack in her heavy scarlet curtains, that there's quite a lot to see. He doesn't snore for a start, just breathes deeply and evenly through his nose, even though he's fast asleep and taking up most of the room in her narrow truckle bed. Of course, now might be the time to really regret not going for the Silent Night double divan option, with its quilted mattress and money-back guarantee, but she doubts she'd be any warmer and cosier than she feels right now.

That's even if he has got nearly all the sheets tangled round his hips and feet, and somehow two lop-sided pillows on his side to her one. She'd rather have the pale arm lying across her middle and the long-fingered hand underneath her breast. It strikes her as possessive looking, which she's surprised how much she likes, but this works both ways, and she's determined to start as she means to go on, so she carefully slides her leg down next to his.

And her feeling of possession towards him – or is it protection? - is even nicer.

It's all going to take a great deal of getting used to, and what's really scary is how much she hopes he'll want to get used to it too. She thinks she'd like to wake up to that breathing sound, and to him, and to this every day, and then reminds herself that it's just sex and should be no big deal to the young modern witch. It's pure imagination that makes her skin still hum from all those kisses and her body ache inside with remembering how she'd loved him, at times hard and frantic, at others gentle and, oh, so very, very slow, only a few hours before.

But it's still just sex. It only feels like so much more because she thinks there's a sense of fit between them, as in together, as in the physical sense, and maybe even more, in another. Which is the sort of romantic twaddle she'd normally scoff at, but this isn't a normal day, and certainly isn't a normal event for her, so she reckons she's allowed to leave off all scoffing just for now.

She can't quite remember all that happened between them in the dark, lost in the moment and she knows, hopes, is fairly sure – isn't she? – that he was too. Both of them taken by surprise, because it hadn't really been a date, you couldn't really blame one round of drinks on him removing her checked shirt in the manner in which he had, and there was none of the usual lines that she believes are spoken at these times.

He's always been surprising her, though. Remus Lupin has made his way so steadily into her life, then into her heart – or was it the other way round? – that now she can't imagine a time when he wasn't always there. The only thing she's not sure of is how it all began.

"Sorry," she says to the fierce little flame-haired woman, who has just uttered a wailing cry, which seems to suggest either immense pain or an unexpected liking for banshee music. It certainly stops Tonks' fingers dead in their guilty tracks on the journey to her mouth. "Was it your, um…?"

Her voice trails away. Any other night, she'd have either laughed at this chapter of disaster, or reached for a stiff drink, or both, but this isn't any other night. It's her first Order Meeting at Grimmauld Place and so far she's fallen over the umbrella stand on entry, made a not entirely well thought out remark to Albus Dumbledore about the attractions of goatee beards, and struggled desperately for something to say to Sirius Black – because there was so much she wanted to – right up until she saw him and thought she'd never seen such a shell of a man standing in front of her. And now this. Talking to Dedalus Diggle and Hestia Jones about the questionable loyalties of the goblins to the cause and putting out her hand to rest it momentarily on the table for support.

Right into the Lemon Meringue Pie. She feels like saying it was asking for trouble to stick it so close to the edge, but the lemon curd slowly dripping from her fingers doesn't make her feel that dignity is on her side in that line of argument.

"I'll just pop and wash my hands." She smiles apologetically, adds "I'll have the slice with the finger marks in it," wishes she hadn't as the little woman seems to visibly swell with some kind of imminent internal explosion, and makes for the gloom and welcome sanctuary of the kitchen.

Except it seems she isn't alone. Is nowhere sacred around here?

"Sorry," she says, again, to the man holding half a loaf of bread in his hand as he turns and regards her with interest. A thin man, not tall, with a tired looking face. She is tired herself, tired of feeling as if she is being judged by strangers, and so she adds, flippantly, "I'm just having a break from the party."

He looks over her shoulder, towards the hallway, where she knows Mad-Eye has Kingsley and that haughty, elegant witch – Evangeline? Emmeline? - trapped in ever-lasting conversation in a tight, damp corner.

"Mmn." The voice is quiet and dry, ideal for the perfect put-down to the presumptuous new girl. "More like a hostage situation, I'd say. Do you like toast?"

She blinks. Both at him and the faint suggestion of a friendly, non-judgemental smile that seems to be tugging at his lips. He holds the loaf up, apparently in helpful explanation. "Toast? I'm planning on escaping outside for a bit. Want to come?"

"But … it's raining." She finds her voice, along with a note of disbelief. She'd arrived in a total downpour and this man must have been present throughout the evening, but she's been too busy trying not to stare at Sirius and Dumbledore and can't remember him. Which is odd because his jumper looks baggy and lived in, like a favourite one he hasn't wanted to throw away, and she has clothes she loves like that too.

Nobody else present looks like they'd live in clothes till they fell off them.

"Oh, you haven't got that old prejudice, have you?" An eyebrow quirks at her, in apparent amusement or surprise.

"Prejudice?" She frowns. He looks meek and mild but she knows better than anyone how deceptive appearances can be.

"Against the rain." He smiles quickly at her then, which changes his face from ordinary to interesting, and says, "The butter's over there, if you're coming."

She opens her mouth to say that, well, actually, she has very sticky and annoying lemon curd all over her right hand, if he thinks she's eating toast in the pouring rain he's well off his rocker, and who exactly is he anyway as she seems to have missed out on this small, but probably vital point?

Instead he smiles again, almost encouragingly, and she says none of these things because he's the first person she feels hasn't expected something from her all night. They end up sat on the back step sharing a plate of stacked toast and drinking mugs of strong, sweet tea in the light, drizzly rain and faint mist.

After an hour or so of talking, they decide to call it mizzle.

Normally, at this point, she'd be sliding cautiously out of bed to head for the bathroom at some speed, and it does cross her mind, old escape routes dying hard, it seems, but it's only the most fleeting of thoughts and instantly dismissed. Because this is Remus lying next to her and she wants to, needs to, simply has to watch him. To follow down the line of his throat, explore the width of his shoulders, take in the hollows and slopes and angles that shape him, until she reaches the thin line of dark hair leading downwards from his belly and which starts to spread tantalisingly outwards as it disappears into those tangled sheets.

It's like taking in everything that he is.

The thin, puckered scar on his upper arm. Much smaller than she'd imagined. Harmless looking, in fact, except that it's the shape of a jagged, open-mouthed bite – to a child! - and she knows it is anything but.

She probably has worse scars herself. The one on her leg, where she fell out of that tree aged six, is a zig-zagging mess; there's the one like a burn on her back from when she was practising duelling with Reginald Symmons all those years ago, and for which he still apologises when she bumps into him at the Ministry, and finally the one on the inside of her thumb, which tingles in cold weather, and which she has no idea, to this day, how it ever got there in the first place.

She wonders if he'll take in everything that she is when he wakes.

Being brown and bland, naked and unconcerned in front of him – well, that's about as terrifying as it gets for her. Talk about the harsh reality of day, it's not just being naked, it's being … raw. It's letting him in to see her as she is, without the colour, without the confidence that it always brings and it's, oh, so very tempting to morph her hair to pink or orange, to know there's something special, something different to behold.

He told her she was beautiful last night. She wasn't morphed at the time, she'd let the pink hair go, because although it's part of her it's sometimes very easy to hide behind. She knows, and she's read, and she's heard that men say lots of things when they're with you, when they're inside you, and most of it is to ensure they get the chance to do it again, but she believed him.

It was impossible not to, at the time.

They've got into the habit of ending up on the back step of Grimmauld after a meeting for half an hour or so. Chatting first with the others, making sure Sirius won't be left alone, and then joining whichever of them has managed to sneak off and get there first.

It's funny how it always feels like sneaking off. Like being back at Hogwarts and disappearing after dinner to meet that sixth former she'd always fancied (except he turned out to be more interested in discussing Nicholas Perry, from her class, which really put the cat among the pixies) in the shed where the school broomsticks were kept.

Which is a quite ridiculous feeling, because she hardly knows him, and their relationship – why is she calling it that when he's a colleague? – is based on a series of teasing, light-hearted conversations and nothing more.

"What's the silliest thing you've ever been asked about being a Metamorphmagus?" He offers her the packet of salt and vinegar crisps again. They've recently been arguing over their favourite flavour and agreed the only way to find an outright winner, without coming to blows, is to try every single one.

She thinks for a minute, mouth full of crisps. "Um… Can I morph away spots?"

"Right." He nods, his long fingers crinkling the packet.

"You?"

"Erm…" He pauses and she thinks how neatly he eats, how quietly. "Do I ever miss having a tail when I'm human?"

She bites her lip and stuffs several crisps into her mouth all at once to keep from laughing.

"Right." She manages, eventually.

They both sit in silence for a while, apart from the munching sounds.

"So can you?" he asks.

The arm that's lying across her is beginning to feel very heavy indeed. Resolutely deciding not to think about it, she gazes up at the ceiling and the crooked scorch mark that's long been there from a misfired curse as she'd practised for her Auror finals.

Why hasn't she got that fixed and what's he going to think? Sleep with Nymphadora Tonks and get yourself hexed into oblivion if you don't come up to scratch? Perhaps she ought to make some joke about the scorch mark being the only thing remaining of her last lover – almost true – and miss out the fact that the last one had up till now been the only one.

Also, that 'lover' was something of an optimistic euphemism from where she'd been lying at the time.

Merlin, she hopes Remus hasn't been disappointed. He hasn't been, has he? He can't have, not the way he'd touched her and the things he said. Though there was that awful moment at the beginning when he'd pinned her hair with his elbow and she'd yelped…

God, why does she always have to mess things up?

Molly's watching her again, which makes her think this weekly cookery lesson, designed to take Molly's mind off having a cretin for a son like Percy, and just possibly to install some very belated and unlikely expertise at householdy things into Tonks, was not such a good idea as it had seemed. Considering that she has very firm ideas on who's the sharp and brainy one of the two here, and who, after all, is the Auror here, used to interviewing the cunning, the reticent and the criminal, it's amazing how Molly manages so skilfully to steer any conversation in the direction in which she wants it to go.

Lately, they've all had a common theme. And it's not whether the gingerbread pudding is best served hot or cold, or with clotted cream or custard.

"The most important thing," Molly pronounces, while flicking her wand at the treacle to make it pour in the dish – how on earth does she get it just right? – "even in a large family, is to feel and know you are special."

"Yep." She does her best to sound distracted, which she is because the eggs are stubbornly sitting on top of the butter, instead of mixing with it as described, and the stupid things are going to be squashed by hand any minute now. Which will show them how bloody special they are.

"And you always know when you're special to someone." Molly breaks off from stirring to throw a frankly horrific smile in her direction. Horrific because she knows she should find this funny, should be laughing it off like she's done many times before, and suddenly she … can't.

"There's nothing going on between Remus and me," she blurts out, trying for anger, trying to suggest to Molly that she should mind her own bloody business, and hearing the slightly false note at the end which unfortunately speaks volumes about self-denial.

Molly smiles, scenting victory. "Why not?" she asks, calmly.

There's a million reasons to that, the most obvious being that what she and Remus have is so uncertain she hasn't even dared name it herself. And every time Molly treads so clumsily on it, she's frightened it will disappear like smoke. She can sense his hesitation every step of the way, despite his outward confidence, and feels as though it's the same for her. Part of her is furious with Molly for not understanding the tangle of emotion, the ramifications involved here.

It's hardly your average situation, is it?

And then part of her thinks that Molly has a damn good point and it's incredibly simple. Man wants girl – she hopes, thinks, is fairly sure he does – and girl definitely wants man. End of story.

Later, Molly lulls her into a false sense of security by making cheese scones while discussing the pros and cons of knitting versus crochet, then says, leadingly, "The problem is, there's nothing going on for you, dear, at the moment."

Tonks tells herself that Molly knows nothing. Nothing. "He's my friend," she says crossly.

"And that's a very good place to start." Molly sticks her cake slice precisely into the middle of the pudding with pinpoint accuracy. Those little white teeth – why has she never noticed what a determined mouth she has before? – smile rather fondly at Tonks.

"It's where you both end up that's important, dear."

The hairs on his leg are tickling her. She remembers the feel of him lying naked on her, inside her, and how he'd cried out in a sound that echoed her own and was more flattering to her than any words he could have spoken. How she'd held onto him for so long afterwards and he'd held her; refusing to let each other go, even while he protested unconvincingly about his weight resting on her. Till he'd eventually rolled them over and they'd wrapped themselves round each other, sharing limbs and breath and memories, until sleep claimed them both.

They'd held each other against the people and the world who would deny them this.

She takes a deep breath and tells herself firmly to get over all this romantic claptrap; it's just sex, after all. It's only a big deal because they've taken so long to get round to it. The average teenager would have laughed their head off at all the shilly-shallying that has gone on between two so-called adults.

And talking of mucking around, just when does he intend on waking up? All this suspense is killing her.

Sometimes the conversation moves on, or up, a degree or two from friendship and laughter, and on the verge of something more. It takes on an air of flirtatiousness, though she's loathe to call it that because it makes her think of the phrase 'flirting with intent' which Sirius keeps using with a smirk, and then she thinks that one of them will soon have to acknowledge that intent has been lurking for quite some time now.

She also thinks it will have to be her. She's the pushy type, after all, or, even if she isn't in this one instance, she looks like she could be. The fact that she doesn't want to, will hate to, because her dream is that this will be a mutual choice by both of them at the same time, is something that she tells herself is becoming increasingly less important. As well as increasingly more unlikely. She saw his face at dinner when they were discussing a famous band she'd never heard of and Arthur had said young people under twenty-five missed out on so much. Like taste and culture.

It ought to have been funny, especially as Molly glared at him when he added that not all old things were the best, and Celestina Warbeck somehow got a mention. Except Remus' frown, while Arthur was all shades of crimson and frantically backtracking, was anything but.

She wanted to shout across the table that he could tell her about this bleeding wonderful foursome, whoever they were, and lend her their records. And she'd introduce him to The Weird Sisters and he could be appalled, and wince every time they came on the wireless and she turned the volume up full blast, because that's just what couples do.

Even pushy girls, however, would find it hard to make a breakthrough when feeding a Hippogriff, a routine which Remus has increasingly taken over in the evenings to "give Sirius a well-earned break." It appears to be the evenings when she comes round that Sirius most needs this break.

Safety in numbers, perhaps? It's times like these she wants to chuck a stinking rat at him instead.

"I bought some crisps," she says encouragingly, meaning, on the back step, for a natter? Like we always used to do, until this last couple of weeks, when you went off me and it for some reason. "There's a new flavour out – nogtail. Which should be a bit like bacon, I suspect."

"Sounds interesting." He smiles briefly, sounds unperturbed, but the look in his eyes sends hers away in a hurry, in search of a change of subject.

She gazes at Buckbeak, happily crunching his bones, and unaware that he lies between them like some great divide.

"I'm pretty transparent, aren't I?" she asks quietly.

She waits for him to say it, prays she'll hear the longed for, well, not at the moment, but if you move a bit more to the left, just underneath that lamp…

"Don't babble, Remus," she says finally, into the silence which is threatening to go on and on. "I can hardly hear myself think."

She gets up to go, as there seems little point in staying. Remus is fully occupied in straightening the strap on the bag which holds the rats and which has somehow twisted in a knot. "I'll see you sometime then," she says.

"Tonks," he says suddenly, from the floor as her hand reaches out for the door handle. "It's not that I don't want…"

"It's all right." She finds the words from somewhere that produces them for nightmare social etiquette situations.

"The world's designed for wizard-meets-witch, not—" he's turning over the end of the strap in his hands, like he's turning over the words in his head "—not werewolf-meets-amazing-girl."

"Yeah, well." Dimly she recognises that he's actually said out loud what he thinks of her at last, but as it sounds as if he's pronouncing the death knell on anything happening, it's a bit hard to celebrate. "Well, I happen to think that argument's crap, and I think you do, too, if you're honest. Still you can stay and chat to Buckbeak about it all and I'll let myself out. And don't worry," she forces herself to look at him again, though she has to swallow hard to do so, not least at the stricken look on his face, "I'll keep out your way in future so there will be no dodging required."

He shakes his head and the eyes that hold hers now are full of a kind of grief. "It's you who should be dodging me."

He looks so young when asleep. The lines on his face much fainter, the hair falling across his brow which she'd love to push back out the way. Out of all the intimate things they've done and shared, being able to watch him like this, is truly amazing. This is calm, controlled Remus Lupin, and now she's seen him without either and revelled and relished that she could do that to him.

She wonders how many other women have seen him like that, but decides that that way lies the path to madness and, besides, comfort is currently waging a very uncomfortable and losing war against romanticism.

Moving fractionally doesn't help matters because his arm and his hand seem to be stuck to her skin. She eases the arm off her by the tiniest of delicate movements, repositions it slowly in an equally pleasing place lower down, and then studies Remus closely for any reaction.

It seems he's either just a totally insensitive lump when asleep or she's really good at this type of stealth after all, and should discuss with Mad-Eye whether extra incentive brings expertise. She relaxes back against her pillow and wonders, though she really shouldn't, if she can get away with putting that hand any lower.

"Morning," Remus says, without opening his eyes.

"Why you great g—" She bites off what she's about to say which certainly isn't on the list of sophisticated, memorable opening lines she's been working on. "How long have you been awake?"

"A little while." The single eye she can see is regarding her with what looks like sleepy amusement through his hair. "Hello, Tonks."

She props herself up on her elbow and regards him indignantly. "So you thought you'd just pin me to the bed and snore on?"

"I didn't want you escaping my evil clutches." He pushes himself up the bed and stretches. "Besides, I've been planning the morning after conversation with you."

"You have?" She starts to grin, not least because after the pulse-raising stretching, he's held out his arm to her and she's quite naturally rolled over next to him and laid her head on his shoulder. His arm pulls her in a little closer and she slides her leg over his. "I've been planning too."

"How's yours go then? Should I be worried?" His tone is easy, a chuckle not far away, and it would be very easy to make light of this. But his skin is warm and comforting under her cheek, her hand presses against the beat of his heart, and … it seems to quicken slightly as he speaks.

She's not hiding anything from him, is she? Isn't that what this is all about? "I never have these conversations, so I wouldn't know."

His fingers tighten on her side for a second. "But … you've done this before?"

"Mmm. Once." She ducks her head down, thinking if he says the wrong thing now, she may just die of embarrassment and a few other things. "One summer, in Auror training – you sort of had to, to be one of the girls – but the boy and I, " she doesn't want to name him, because that will make him real to Remus and she wants to emphasise that he doesn't matter a jot, just what she learnt from it, "well, I didn't really like him that much, or it, and so I did everything I could to get out of it. So," she forces out a laugh, "I didn't hang around in the mornings to have any conversations. Early to work, that was me."

Silence. Then his lips touch her brow and linger there, his hand strokes so gently through her hair, and she thinks she could easily weep if she were the weeping kind so it's very fortunate she's not.

"You never said anything," he says quietly.

"Yeah, well," she sniffs against his skin and thinks he smells like the glass of brandy her Dad always sneaks after dinner when her Mother's not around. "Everyone's supposed to love sex, aren't they? No one goes around saying they don't think they like it much and they haven't done it for over three years. That would be really embarrassing and the last thing you'd tell the next bloke you went to bed with, wouldn't it?"

"But last night," he hesitates. "You didn't seem to have any doubts."

She tilts her head to look him in the eye. "I knew you'd make everything all right, didn't I?"

"Tonks, I—" He's bending his head to kiss her, but she turns her head into his chest again, and his hands go very still on her.

This has got to work both ways.

"What about your morning after conversations?" She tries to say it as though it doesn't matter, that it's really of no importance whatsoever, and thinks she sounds so casual that it's a dead give away how much she cares.

"Mine?" It's a ghost of a laugh that makes her heart jump and race. "Apart from the fact that there hasn't been one for a lot longer than three years, at this stage I'd be well and truly occupied with wondering what she'd say if she knew she'd just spent the night with a werewolf, and what kind of man I am for not telling her." He pauses and she can hear and feel him swallow against the fear and the loneliness. He adds lightly, "It's a bit of a passion killer, you know."

She touches her lips very softly to his chest, thinking that his needs are very similar to her own. They've just been coming at it from different directions.

"But here you are." She looks up at him again. "With me."

"Mmn." He smiles and nods. "I knew you'd make everything all right, didn't I?"

After a hard day at the Ministry – and there seems to be more and more of those, recently – she and Kingsley pop into the Golden Oak for a quick drink before heading their separate ways. Another attraction is that she always used to bump into Remus there, and somehow they'd stay on after Kingsley had left, and one drink would become two or three and a meal, and then more drinks, but it was weeks since any bumping, accidental or otherwise, had gone on.

Last night, at the Order meeting, she'd even watched him walk round the side of the room to avoid having to brush past her to reach his chair. As opposed to all the times in previous months when she'd been almost sure he was going out of his way to touch her (and she was most certainly taking every chance she got to touch him like some infatuated teenage girl). Their one brief conversation is just that, extremely brief, and he's so maddeningly polite she knows he must be every bit as miserable as she is.

So it's with great surprise she finds him in the Oak, apparently waiting for them, and the three of them laugh and joke like old times. Kingsley bids them both good night and she sees the easy-going smile fade from Remus' face and braces herself for him deciding to go too.

"Can I walk you home?" he asks quietly.

She picks up her bag and tries not to think that he's never asked that before, he's never been to her flat before, and why in Merlin's name is he asking it now?

"I've had a bad day," he says, as though she's voiced the question aloud. "Not like that," he adds quickly as he sees her face, "just frustrating, annoying… I thought I'd like to see you and see how yours was."

They're walking down the cobbled streets and it's a humid, overcast night, with a hazy shimmer to the air. She's not sure if it's the shimmer or her eyes that are blurring everything around her.

She finds her voice. "Mine was … frustrating. Annoying. You know the kind of thing."

Somehow they've stopped in the middle of the street and are staring at each other. A round, elderly wizard mumbles crossly about people inconsiderately blocking the way and steps round them.

Remus smiles at her. The one that crinkles his eyes at the corners and lights his face up.

"There's thunder in the air," he says, "I'd better get you home."

And so they resume their steady walking, the conversation is light and easy, and she finds herself asking if this, if Remus being her friend, is really going to be enough? It was once, she insisted it was all that she wanted once, and perhaps this is the way forward for both of them now?

It all sounds very sensible, she thinks, and it's mature of them to make the best of things, and find a way forward from their problems. It's such a shame it's a load of old crap.

They've reached her doorway and the daffodil-covered curtain twitches in the flat below which means her landlady, Mrs Perkins, has noted that not only does Tonks have a caller but, horror of horrors, it's a gentleman caller at that.

Well, it's her first one ever, and from the way he's shuffling his feet and not quite meeting her gaze, he won't be staying long.

He settles against one side of the wall as she leans against the other. A nice, safe distance between them.

"I bought you these," he says pulling something out of his side pocket and offering it to her. "As an apology. Although I know it doesn't quite cover it-"

She bites her lip. It's a packet of chicken flavour crisps.

"—but I thought if I admit, once and for all, that they are actually better than cheese and onion," a wry smile seems to be tugging at his lips, "it might be a start to us being friends again."

She opens her mouth to say something, she doesn't know what, and it's not important because the rain starts to fall lightly beside them and they both turn their heads to look at it. It looks like it will only be short-lived as the heat haze is still blurring the world at its edges.

"Mizzle," she says aloud, without thinking.

He turns his head slowly to look at her. She turns hers.

In that second, they both know he's not going anywhere.

It's a physical ache, wanting Remus' unflinching, loving gaze on her, as palpable as his touch. She's naked and raw on a warm summer's day, the sheets have long since been pushed on the floor, and he's stroking her breasts and kissing her face and she shifts her position on top of him, which makes him give a soft little gasp and sends a shiver straight up her spine.

"This is your idea of the morning after conversation?" she manages to force out on her second attempt, because those caressing hands are busy moving lower.

"I thought we were communicating quite well." He's almost amused, but she's not fooled because she can feel him stirring beneath her, and the voice is just the tiniest bit unsteady. "And you started this whole … conversation." He pulls her head down and kisses her, first tenderly, then hard, threading his fingers through her hair.

She'd discovered the springiness of the little hairs on his thighs while lying next to him. The flatness and angles of his hipbones which she traced with her fingertips. "I can't impress you with my muscles," he'd said, a little ruefully, but she wasn't buying that because she'd been held so hard against him and those muscles were like ropes, secure and strong. And then there was the velvety skin right underneath him.

She tries to say something but he's rolling them over now and the heat of his lips on her throat, then her mouth, is rendering all further thought impossible.

There's sweat and heat and skin, and she's no longer sure which is his or hers as their bodies slide together. His hand moves down and his mouth follows it, and she cries out with the sheer pleasure of it and tugs at his shoulders as he draws himself back to her face. He says her name softly, in that husky, unsteady voice that she's determined no one but herself will ever hear again, and she arches her back and wraps herself round him.

As he presses slowly into her, she feels the ripple inside her body start and marvels at it, at him, at them. That they can do this amazing thing together.

They both move together, in a kind of lunge, but he's fractionally ahead of her and she just has time to think she must remember that, that he was first, and then his mouth comes down on hers.

It's nothing like she imagined it would be because he isn't polite, he isn't cautious and he certainly isn't hesitating. He's kissing her as she suddenly realises he's dreamed of kissing her for so long, and she's kissing him back in exactly the same way. They don't have to worry about impressing each other or offending each other because they're long past all that, and they want each other and know each other.

She drags him through the doorway because Mrs Perkins is probably keeling over right now and slips her fingers under his shirt. There's a strange and worrying crunching sound which she realises later on is the crisps, and a moment when he mumbles "I don't know—" into the softest part of her neck, and she bites off the moan she nearly let out to stare at him in disbelief and horror.

He's breathing as heavily as she is but he still manages to quirk his lips in a semblance of the usual smile. "Where the bedroom is," he finishes softly, and then kisses her again as she looks at him dumbfounded, because stupid as it is, bonkers as it is, ludicrous as it is, the fact that they're actually heading there at last has taken her completely by surprise.

He all but carries her through the doorway and it seems as though they shed their clothes and a few other things along the way. They fall on the bed and start to lose themselves in each other as she threads her fingers into his thick hair and remembers hers is still pink. She thinks she hasn't got much conscious thought left, but this choice was made long ago on the day she once stood in a dark, grim kitchen, and a tired looking man smiled at her with a loaf of bread in his hand.

He raises his head from her breast as though he's sensed what she's just done and she lays there, meeting his quizzical gaze without flinching, saying silently that this is her exposed, this is her raw, this is her as she is and it's, well, really, really scary so if he just wouldn't mind saying or doing the right thing? Though at this moment in time she can't imagine what that or they can be.

"You're so beautiful," he says quietly by her ear. Then holding her gaze, his body covering all of hers, "I love you, Tonks, you do know that, don't you?"

She whispers the words back and feels him shudder in her arms, feels him bury his head in her neck, his hands clutch her and hold her as though they'll never let her go.

She closes her eyes, sees the colours she understands so well of joy and magic float in front of her lids, and thinks they've got the whole night ahead of them.

And then she'll be able to love him in the morning.

Reviewers get to eat toast with Remus and discuss whatever they wish. ;)