Author's Note: This story is co-written with MrsTater and back in May 2008 (cue embarrassed coughing from us both), we wrote the first half of it. As we definitely had to refresh our memories as to whereabouts and what our busy letter writing duo were up to in order to complete this second half of the story, we'd recommend a quick run-through of it, if you can spare the time. Otherwise, Remus, away on a secret Order mission, sent Tonks a postcard, which led to friendship, flirting, awful jokes and, eventually, tentative romance by owl post. Misunderstandings and ink blots were plentiful, but Part I ended with Remus plucking up courage to invite her to come and spend an evening with him at the house where he's lodging for the local 'Up the Duff' night, which is a celebration of food for anyone already thinking the rating on this should be higher. The story resumes with Tonks having just returned home after that evening, and as before, it's a fic mostly by letter. Anyone wanting to see the postcards etc. referred to in the text, can click on the homepage on my profile, which will take you to my Fic Journal at LJ and...all should be revealed!

Dedicated to Lisa, best writing partner ever. :)


Between the Lines

Part II

22/08/95

1.25 AM

Dear R,

I know it's late - or early! - and I've got a shift at 7.00, but despite being stuffed full to the gills, I'm not the slightest bit sleepy. You'll probably accuse me again of cheating, but I'll persist with what I've said a million times: I did not morph my stomach so I could eat more! Your tender male chocoholic ego is just bruised that you didn't make it past the cheesecake and didn't get to try any of the chocolate fudge cake. Not to say, "I told you so" or anything, but I told you you shouldn't have gone for second helpings of the spicy plum crumble...

Lest you think I'm only writing to rub your nose in it and you decide to let me find another date to the Weird Sisters next Thursday, I'll say what I really got out the stationery to say:

Tonight was the loveliest night out I've had in...well, ever. Up the Duff night is an experience I'll never forget, even if my waistline does go back to its usual size. Who'd have thought a dinner menu consisting entirely of six scrumptious desserts could be so great? As well as the late August sunset over the lake being even more breathtaking in person than in the postcard. (I'm working on re-enacting it with my hair, so you'll have something to remember it by.)

Of course the very best part was the company – and I'm not talking about Mrs. C, even though she ranks high on my list of favourite people for going on about my personality and saying I was just the sort of pretty young lady she'd imagined for you (I realise this might not have been quite as much of a compliment to you as it was for me!) – and most of all for her giving me an extra large slice of the chocolate cake (sorry!) because she knew I felt awful for breaking her sugar bowl (which really deserved a better fate than Auntie Tuney's plate). There's nothing about the night (except for the bowl smashing incident, for which I blame you anyway) I'd change at all.

Although I am so sorry about you-know-what...

Off to sleep now. It'll make the time go faster - not that I'm looking forward to my shift. Only to seeing you again.

Your young lady,

T

Xxx


August 22nd, 1995

9.30am

Dear N~,

Thank you for letting me know of your safe return. Not having Uncle Alastor on hand, I was unable to check if the previous maximum weight limits for secure Apparating still applied. And after the amount you'd recently consumed, I was somewhat concerned that you weren't so much risking splinching yourself as doubling up somewhere…

Yes, I am imagining that face you're pulling; it's probably similar to mine when you polished off that last piece of fudge cake and asked if there was any more clotted cream or custard going spare? In my defence at only reaching dessert number four and a half out of six – and I do think Up the Duff Night is aptly named, as I came as close to feeling like I'd eaten for two by the end of it as I hope I ever do – it was quite obvious that you a) had an unfair advantage to begin with, and b) I did not have two helpings of the spicy plum crumble. At least, not willingly. For some reason, Mrs. C~ is under the misguided impression that I need to keep my strength up at all times. Of course, she has now met 'My young lady,' so possibly there is method in her muffin madness.

Before you're the one wanting a new date on Thursday (no offence, but my vote is still for Blues Night with the goats as the ultimate cultural experience), let me say I am so glad you came and that the time seemed to fly by. I'm just back from a walk down by the lake again. I sat on the bench where we ate those crisps - something savoury really was the most wonderful thing ever at that point; I've had to take the coward's way out and skip breakfast altogether, as I can't contemplate looking a sausage in the face. Or the skin.

I know we started many conversations last night, but we did seem to keep interrupting ourselves and going onto something else. (Don't worry about the sugar bowl, by the way. Mrs. C~ says it was a wedding present from her mother-in-law, and she's been looking for an excuse to throw it and the singing sugar tongs away for the last twenty-seven years.) I never did find out what made you want to go into your line of work. Did you ever think of doing anything else? And, as I was saying when the sugar bowl hit the floor, it's such a pity you couldn't have stayed longer so that I could have shown you The Dundee Shuffle, as I'm sure you'd have enjoyed it. Presumably you misheard what I said…

It's obvious that Mrs. C~ is as taken with you as you were with her. She's told me at least a dozen times that it's a grand sign when a young lady can eat like that and laugh at the same time, and a few other ear-burning things you'll have to find some way to bribe out of me. I'm not sure you'll appreciate the one about the T-shirt, though. Meanwhile, I must be getting on with my final report to Uncle Alastor, who has been relegated to second place in order of priority this morning.

I'm going to be here for the rest of the day finalising arrangements and also delivering something to an acquaintance whom Great-uncle Bumblebee wants reminded of a favour he owes the family. I hope to be back some time tomorrow, but you must have plans for the weekend so I won't owl you then.

It seems very quiet here without you.

R~

x

You realise you never once asked to see my tattoo all the time you were here? I was a little saddened, I must admit, but I suppose it can't compare with Kirley's Egyptian eyes as you described them. Do the Ministry not censor what you have on your wall?

If anyone should apologise about you-know-what, it's me. Please don't think I didn't take it as it was meant – as a friendly gesture. We won't give it another thought.


22/08/95

10.45 PM

Dear R,

First off, what have I told you about calling me N? Maybe you misunderstood? Coz I'm pretty sure I said not to do it.

Second, you only wish you'd been able to eat enough to push the maximum weight limit for secure Apparating, and third, you're a bloody lucky git that 'your young lady' has a sense of humour about jokes like that. (It helps that I can pull faces of disgust you couldn't possibly imagine.)

Sorry you're hearing back from me so late. Had one of those days that makes me ask myself that same question of why I chose this line of work. I think it had something to do with to do with being ace at Potions and DADA, along with having spent the first seven years of my life afraid of my mad Auntie Trixie and then idolising Uncle Alastor for locking her up and throwing away the key. Having only got home fifteen minutes ago with a Chinese takeaway (first chance I've had to eat all day - and how's your stomach, by the way? Did you muster up enough Gryffindor courage to face Mrs. C for a hearty dinner?), I'm seriously regretting giving up my dream of becoming a Weird Sisters roadie. Maybe next Thursday after the concert I'll run away with them. Hell, even working for Cousin Abe as Blues Night concert manager would be preferable to what I had to put up with today. Just think - I could probably get us in free every Thursday. Only then you'd have to get tattoos for sure.

Talking of which, I meant to ask to see your tattoo (well, actually it was more along the lines of folding my arms across my chest and arching my eyebrow sceptically and saying, 'Prove it'), but it was one of those moments we interrupted ourselves. In fact, I think it was when I interrupted myself by doing you-know-what, which you really don't have to apologise for (though I will again), as it was all me, and as you apparently didn't make as much of it as I did.

At least I know I've got Mrs. C - and you'd better owl me at the weekend, if only to tell me what the pair of you said about me behind my back, as I need something to entertain me during my long date with paperwork! Though I knew that T-shirt was a mistake. I hadn't intended to wear it, but I noticed a tear under the arm of the one I wanted to wear, and as I'm rubbish at sewing charms, I had to go with the only other clean thing in my wardrobe. What didn't she like about it? Was it the slogan, or that it was too tight?

Hope you got everything wrapped up today that you needed to. I don't know if I can face another Ordered family reunion without you there to surreptitiously roll your eyes at Cousin Hester's giggling or to be passive-aggressive to our pet snake.

T

X

PS - I interrupted myself again. What I meant to say about tattoos above, and last night, is: If you were to get one, what design would it be, and more importantly, where would you have it done? I can't imagine you with Egyptian eyes over your nipples. Although, maybe that's because I haven't seen you in a mosh pit.

PPS - What's The Dundee Shuffle? Is it a dance? Only you'd have to be a Gryffindor to want to teach it to me.


23rd August, 1995

10.10am.

Dear T~

As I can feel the heat of your ferocious glare coming through the parchment (even Marmalade was looking a little singed when he arrived), I solemnly swear to try and call you T~ in future. Though everyone gets to do that. I'll have to see if I can find something that doesn't make you want to hex me into oblivion.

I'm sorry you had a bad day yesterday; you sound a little down? I've realised that for those few hours you were here, we spoke very little of work and concentrated on matters such as whether I could get any more embarrassed while you and Mrs. C~ discussed whether I was a sandalwood man or if amber suited me better. But I know Uncle Alastor is proud of what and how much you've achieved. However hard he tries to hide it.

You might have to help me get back in his good books again as I woke this morning to a three foot long lecture on cutting out the humorous remarks in my reporting, as it does absolutely no good to take a light-hearted view of a dire situation. I'll be working on a more serious disposition at our next family get-together on Tuesday, which means no rolling movements of any kind (and, by the way, I had something in my eye at the time - both of them) and you're forbidden from passing notes under the table with the odds on how many times our neighbour Sev will say the word "potter" and sneer at the same time. It is strange how he seems to be so anti-wizards in that line of work.

There's a bit more buried in the Prophet today that I found interesting – particularly the introduction of penalties if anybody is caught offering employment to those now described as 'undesirables' under the terms of 'positive discrimination'. My friend in high places has really given this some thought and is determined, it seems, to leave no possible loopholes through which people can actually earn a living or keep some sense of worth. Despite this and Uncle Alastor's warning about taking unpromising situations too lightly, I'm equally determined to remain cheerful and that's in no small measure down to you.

I'd better get on with my packing and the few things I've still got to do here, although Mrs. C~ has persuaded me to stay on for what she describes as "a little snack to see you on your way." I'm bracing myself. I also think it was the slogan on your T-shirt – 'Pretty in pink, wicked in uniform' – that may have caused her to get the wrong end of the stick for a short while. I like to imagine she was worried for my sake, but all's well now I've explained that you do wear an actual uniform for work.

The Dundee Shuffle's a pub. Lots of people do seem to dance on the tables in it, which makes me think you'd like it. I certainly can't believe a Hufflepuff – especially you, T~ - would give up on anything, let alone a dance! Apart, possibly, from a Gryffindor, who last danced at a wedding many years ago, and it took several glasses of champagne to get him to do it then.

On that note, I'll bid you farewell and say I hope you're having an enjoyable Sunday. I've got one final postcard that might make you laugh, but don't feel you have to owl if you're busy. I'll see you Tuesday night, after all, and I don't want to keep inundating you with letters.

R~

X

As for the tattoo; I don't need to imagine what I'd get as I've got one. It's slightly more…subtle than Kirley's, shall we say? It's also not in the position his is (are two eyes not enough so that he needs four?), which means that I wouldn't have been able to prove it to you in public anyway.

I haven't given you-know-what (and I feel about fourteen referring to it like that, which is another good reason to forget all about it!) another moment's thought. If it was anyone's fault, it was mine for responding like that. So don't worry; it's completely forgotten!


23/08/95

4.44 PM

Dear Remus,

You'll be home now, so let's dispense with the extra vigilant vigilance, shall we? Normal security procedures still apply, obviously, so don't forget my 'stealthy' password. Only don't tell Mad-Eye. Or would he be more annoyed to know we've been referring to him as Uncle Alastor, I wonder? I think I might keep Great-Uncle Bumblebee, though let's hope he never turns up wearing yellow and black stripes, or I'll never be able to take another meeting seriously again.

Having an okay Sunday, thanks. Bit quiet, which I reckon's nice, only I keep thinking I'm more in the mood to be someplace livelier - maybe with dancing on the tables. You wouldn't happen to know a place like that, would you? A pub? Though you'll probably want to spend the evening with Sirius and a bottle of Firewhisky between you, and I wouldn't want to do table dancing for just anyone.

Do I sound down? Maybe I should risk a three-foot lecture of my own from Mad-Eye by taking a leaf out of your book on keeping your chin up. I'm glad to have been a help to you, though I really can't see what I've done except abuse you for writing an initial. I do admire the optimism, and most of all the dignity, you bear everything with, even though I can't imagine how you do it.

If you don't want to talk about this, then tell me to remove my huge, Snape-like nose from your business, but as a friend I feel I should ask. What will you do? What have you done?

The 'positive discrimination' stuff in today's Prophet was a lot of what made yesterday such a totally shite day (my colleague Dawlish was another large part), as new laws mean briefings about what'll be expected of MLE in regards to them, and I won't go into it all because it won't help you with your quest for good cheer. But suffice it to say, I did not work my arse off for three years in Stealth and Tracking to conduct criminal investigations against decent people who don't care whether another person might be labelled 'undesirable,' people who see that the real monsters in this world are the ones who don't need a full moon's power to hurt others, but who are brazenly evil enough to act in broad daylight. You say it would never occur to me to turn tail and run, but more and more I wish I could.

And if I do sound down today, it's because I can't work out how someone can you-know-what/KISS! someone else for at least a minute, if not a minute and a half, without coming up for air once, and then not give it another thought!

I'll see you Tuesday. If it's such a bother to write, don't feel you must just to humour me.

Tonks

X

PS - I'm afraid this sounds more like I'm in a strop than down. Well...I am.

PPS - What is your tattoo of? As I can only assume you never intended to show me. Is it on your bum?


August 23rd, 1995

8.05pm.

Dear Tonks,

I got back a few hours ago to find both Sirius and Marmalade waiting for me with almost matching quizzical expressions. One was a lot easier to keep quiet than the other, as a handful of owl treats simply don't work that well on Padfoot. If the week's flown by for me, then it certainly hasn't for him, and this is the first chance I've had to slip away and read your letter.

And reread it.

I'm confused, Tonks. Puzzled. Tired, and not a little baffled because, for the life of me, I don't see how you can possibly think it's a bother to write to you or why you'd imagine I wasn't looking forward to doing so all the time I was listening to Sirius. I'm not sure what footing we're on any more; we've both said some things - or, more accurately, we've both written them - but when you came to see me it was all very light and easy and fun. Until the end of the night, anyway. When it seemed very clear to me that we're wonderful friends and that we'd both realised we should remain that way. Which, now I've thought it all through, seems very much for the best from your point of view.

But you're not happy. Perhaps anything else should wait until we're face-to-face so we can have one of those incredibly awkward conversations that I never thought I'd have again? Which should also tell you something about why I've obviously made a mess of this and why having regrets now is, perhaps, much better than having them later on.

In the meantime, I'm not feeling quite so positive about the new werewolf legislation since I got back to Grimmauld. The place does bring you back to a murky and mouldy reality. As long as I'm useful to the Order, then I can convince myself I'm doing something worthwhile, but I am concerned that others will react like my recent contacts, and then what use am I going to be? There's got to be a way around this, a way to fight it. I'd like to discuss it with Great-uncle Bumblebee (the name's stuck, I'm afraid; I just hope I can avoid calling him that!), but he's done more than enough for me and has far more serious things to worry about.

What does help, more than anything else, is reading your support. It's hard sometimes to talk to Sirius, who tends to fly into a rage because he's powerless to help. It doesn't do him any good at present. I know you're raging as well – and thank you for that – but I also know that you'll just listen and that means a great deal.

I think I'll leave it there. We'll be seeing each other Tuesday night, and I'd like to try and sort this out then.

Remus

X

I don't think I could ever compare your nose to Severus'. Thankfully.

The tattoo information can wait. But you're in the wrong area completely. Head north-west from there.


August 23rd, 1995

8.20pm.

Nymphadora,

Yes, I know I'm not supposed to call you that. I know this is only fifteen minutes after I said we should discuss this face-to-face. I also know I'm sending this on a goat postcard, which is totally inappropriate, but there's no parchment up here, and if I have to go down and get some, Sirius will want to know why I've been writing apparently urgent letters half the night. It's bad enough having to use his owl, Lord Lucan, who has been in the service of the Black family for many years and definitely considers himself a feather or two above the ordinary mail-carrier.

And if you want to know why I'm calling you Nymphadora, it's because it's very difficult to continue to call someone by their surname when you both seem to have moved a stage or two beyond that. You know - after that same someone has kissed you, unexpectedly and rather lingeringly, in Mrs. Cuthbert's kitchen.

At the risk of sounding fourteen again, it seems a good idea to clear both this, and the air, before we see each other on Tuesday. Because I was under the distinct impression you regretted the whole thing and wanted it forgotten. As we seem to have slightly differing memories of events, mine is that you kissed me, and then I kissed you back. Admittedly, rather lingeringly. Which you didn't seem to be objecting to when Mrs. Cuthbert's chest appeared suddenly round the corner with the rest of her following close behind. At which point you said you said you had to go, Mrs. Cuthbert started to tell us the story of how her son and his future wife eloped after only knowing each other for two days, and you disappeared mid-sentence and left us both standing there. I can fill you in on the names of their children and the pet budgie sometime, if you like.

Somehow, the impression from that at the time was … confusing, to say the least. Then I thought things afterwards were fairly clear, but now I'm lost again. Perhaps you could enlighten me?

Confusedly and stroppily,

Remus

And it wasn't a minute, it was about twenty seconds. And I wouldn't say I've never thought about it.


23/8/95

11.35 PM

Dear Remus,

If we were face-to-face right now, I don't know whether I'd shake you or kiss you. Again. (The former for calling me Nymphadora.) Since the latter seems to be the source of all our confusion, it's probably best that we're not face-to-face. Even though it is pretty silly that you're in London and I'm in London and we're writing each other bloody letters. Lord Lucan agrees with me that it's a waste of ink and parchment. Or goat and sheep cards, in this case, although I do think it's probably much funnier to learn that a goat at sea's called Billy Ocean when it comes on a card with an amusing picture. Hopefully you'll feel the same about this sheep card, which I've also been holding onto for the most inappropriate moment. And here it is.

Right then. As it's been more than three hours since I heard from you, I'll assume you haven't changed your mind again and do want to sort this in writing before we see each other Tuesday. Since we seem to be confused on a number of points, I'll get right down to it, starting with the simplest:

You don't see how I can think you find writing to me a bother. Don't you? You keep apologizing for writing, as if it's an inconvenience, as if I'm bothered to write you! You don't seem to realize your letters mean just as much to me as you say mine do to you.

Which brings me to the bit that'll make us feel and sound fourteen again. I know you think about my age sometimes, how I'm younger than you and less familiar with the way the world works and the way people behave. So I'm a bit surprised that it hasn't seemed to occur to you that I, tender young thing that I am, might not have any more experience than you do at incredibly awkward conversations of this sort.

Yes, I kissed you, unexpectedly, in Mrs. Cuthbert's kitchen. And you kissed me, rather lingeringly, back. And I wasn't objecting. At all. It's just that when Mrs. Cuthbert interrupted, I was surprised. Surprised that I was kissing someone I haven't known that long, but who somehow already knows me better than most people I've known for years. Surprised to hear someone else talking about whirlwind romances. Surprised by how it all made me feel – which was overwhelmed. And that's not like me.

I wasn't running away from you, Remus. I just needed to step back and be quiet and think. And then all I could think about was how great Up the Duff night was, so I wrote to tell you that. What part did you not understand? What the hell made you think I wanted to be just friends with you? I was more worried you'd think I was pushing things too far, too soon, and that you were going to be the one running for the hills.

As we've not had the best of luck communicating with the written word, I'm going to leave off here and hope I've said enough to make it crystal clear this time. But in case you've missed it again:

I want to be more than friends. I hope you do too. Got it?

See you at the meeting.

Love,

Not sure how I should sign this, since you don't like Tonks and I don't like Nymphadora. Have you thought of a suitable alternative yet?

xx

You did say you'd never thought about the kiss! And you were actually TIMING it?

North-west of your buttock? That's probably not something I ought to be imagining till we've got this sorted. Maybe some of your clothes will come off in the mosh pit.


August 24th, 1996

1.15pm.

Dear Tonks, (Which I do like very much. I just think there are other variations I could like, too.)

I'm working on the name problem, but currently taking the safe option as you can see. At least I hope it is. Though I'm not sure the sheep or the accompanying joke on the front of this card is going to get me back into your favour again, even though I'm hoping you'll find it hard to resist the pleading look in its eye, which is remarkably similar to mine at the moment…

I'm certainly looking pretty sheepish anyway. Whilst trying hard not to smile and feeling something of a fool at one and the same time. Which is becoming something of a habit with these letters of ours – I make an idiot of myself, and you take my breath away with your honesty. Don't ever change, will you? I'm sorry for my grouchiness; put it down to the fact that I can't quite believe someone like you wants to exchange goat/sheep jokes (are we working our way through the entire animal kingdom?) on a regular basis with me, that it's all happened so quickly and so easily, and that I'm not going to hurt you because of who I am. You're not so far out when you talk about me being the one more likely to run for the hills.

It goes without saying that I would like to be more than friends, too, though going without saying things has caused so much difficulty that I've taken care to say it this time. But all this has just confirmed in my mind that we do need to talk this over face-to-face, instead of quill-to-quill, and take it all slowly. Don't start rearranging my limbs or defacing this card, but you are young, I'm not, and I want us both to be sure what we're doing and not rushing into anything we might regret later on. The future's uncertain for all of us right now and you were the one who was sensible enough to take a step back and think, while others of us had reverted to being fourteen and hopelessly insecure again. (On the plus side, at least I wasn't worrying about breaking out in spots.) But I really think we should follow your lead and take our time.

Talking of which, the meeting's scheduled for 7.00pm and I'll see you there. Is greeting you as Nymphie out of the question? (Joking apart, obviously we're going to keep this very much to ourselves for the time being, I assume.)

Remus

X

I've noticed you drop the words 'mosh pit' into the conversation at every opportunity. You think I don't know what one is, don't you? They're remarkably akin to a bear pit, I've always thought, but I expect I've been in more than you have...

And I was NOT timing it. I am well aware I said I'd never thought about it, but that was because I thought you wouldn't want to know that I've thought of it far too much!

Got it?


25/08/95

11.11 PM

Dear Remus,

Well, the meeting went pretty well, I thought. Except for that part where you met me at the door and called me Nymphie, and I nearly hexed you to Oblivion. The only thing that stopped me was not wanting to eliminate the sanest member of the Order. And I didn't want all that parchment and ink we went through to go to waste. Not to mention all the chocolate digestives I've fed our feathered messengers. Also, you more than made up for it with another, very nice nickname. And, um, in other ways I'm far too ladylike to mention in the first paragraph.

Seriously, after the past few depressing days at work, the meeting, I thought, was really encouraging. I mean, it's still a bit grim that we've got to do this, and hearing everybody's reports, knowing that we're not only up against the Death Eaters, but fear and scepticism and prejudice and fear from regular people as well, which in some ways are all the harder to overcome... I know you have more than your share of worries about your role in the Order, thanks to Umbridge and her damned 'positive discrimination', but you've no idea what your presence does for me - and for everyone, I hope you noticed. Maybe it's because Mad-Eye's so bloody pessimistic and paranoid, and Snape can't say anything without a sneer and a general attitude of all our efforts being powerless against the Dark Arts and You-Know-Who, and everyone else is in varying degrees of being off their nut. But your calm and your humour keep me from throwing up my hands in despair. Not just because you're able to save us the hours and hours Mad-Eye would require to plot how the Order will see Harry safely back to school, but because the world doesn't seem so far gone when you're sat beside me to whisper the casual wry observation about Snape's nose or the amount of starch Emmeline's used in her shawl this week. Or to flirt with me. Or...other things I can't mention in paragraph two. With you, life still seems...normal.

You won't have noticed this since you weren't here last week to see him, but Sirius is a different person when you're in the room. He trusts you more than anyone, even Great-Uncle Bumblebee, I think, and even when you can't tell him what he wants to hear, you know just the right thing to keep him from flying off the handle. He was a bit stroppy that he won't be allowed to take Harry to King's Cross, but it would have been a million times worse if you hadn't been there to reassure him that Harry understands, that we'll keep him safe. Whatever comes of these terrible laws, Remus, don't ever doubt your worth as a good man.

Even if you don't have a bloody clue what a mosh pit is. Don't worry, you will on Thursday!

Are you sure you're okay with skipping Blues Night at the Hog's Head? I know you said we shouldn't let the passes from Nick go to waste (and I did not flirt with him to get them!), but I can't help feeling you really did want to go hear the goat band playing their horns. I'm happy with anything we do, so long as I get to see your tattoo!

Early shift tomorrow (Why do I keep getting those? I am not a morning person!) so I'd better get to bed. I should have been ages ago, but I couldn't sleep for thinking how lovely it was to see you tonight. Especially after the meeting when we found ourselves somehow alone. We're not going to apologise for you-know-what again, are we? Thank Merlin everyone was too busy fighting over the apple pie to pay any attention to our disappearance and don't suspect a thing.

Love,

Dora

X


Wednesday, some time bloody o'clock in the morning

Moony,

As all you've done is hole up in your room since you've been back, doing Merlin knows what, I'm sticking this on your door with a Caterwauling Charm on to attract your absent attention. Making a noise like a cat in heat seems appropriate here, because I've got hot news for you, mate—

TONKS WANTS YOU.

I don't mean to discuss the sponsored goblin walk for orphans abroad that Bill was on about for hours, either. We're talking WANTS, as in fancies, lusts after, is smitten with, and is already thinking of what colour curtains you'd go for. From the dopey expression on her face (and the way she said, "stubble and forearms" when Mad-Eye asked her about the first thing you look for with suspicious characters), she's also working on a way to rip your clothes off while you're debating on stripes or flowers.

Funnily enough, there was the odd minute – like the fifteen the pair of you took getting a dozen Butterbeers out the pantry – when I thought she wasn't the only one. It's a long time since I've seen you do the smile-and-dither-but-perhaps-come-hither routine, but you don't fool me, you know.

Looking forward to hearing you avoid this over dinner.

Sirius

The Blacks don't avoid anything, in case you haven't noticed that, either. Might as well pick out a shag pile carpet while you're at it.


Padfoot,

I spent ten minutes in the pantry with Tonks discussing in great detail that same sponsored goblin walk you've so readily dismissed. No wonder they're moaning about the lack of support from the Wizarding world. As it is, I'm particularly interested in three of the participants called: "You Couldn't Be More Wrong," "What Would She See In Me, Anyway?" and "I Won't Be Discussing Any Of This With You Later On Tonight So Forget It Now."

Make dinner around eight. I may have to drop some sponsorship forms off first to a lady.

See you later, old friend.

Moony.


August 26th, 1995

3.00pm.

Dear Dora,

You're sure I can't call you Nymphie? I thought you were rather taken with it for the first thirty seconds when you seemed unable to speak a coherent word. Though admittedly that wand gesture suggested otherwise. 'Dora' it is then, as you didn't seem to object to that. Especially as the meaning of the name seems to fit you perfectly.

I'm afraid your theory that no one spotted our absence wasn't totally accurate, but it was only Sirius, and while he'll delight in making my life an absolute misery, take no notice off him or my apparent misery, because it means we're both enjoying ourselves. Especially take no notice if he starts reminiscing about Hogwarts, mentions the dating graph he once kept in our dorm, or says anything at all regarding curtains. It's a very unfunny joke.

It's strange you should use the word 'normal' with regard to the meeting. Sometimes I think that so few of the original Order are with us now, and it's easy to let doubts creep in when things don't appear to be going well or, as seems to be the case lately, when we gain a little and lose a little more. Everyone copes in their own way – and it is true that Mad-Eye's way, unfortunately, seems to involve remembering about twenty-seven passwords at the last count – but you just make me think that somehow the world isn't quite as crazy as it frequently appears. (Even though I still can't believe you once asked Severus how it felt to be able to smell the tea in China from Hogwarts – and lived to tell the tale.) I have to say that Umbridge and her legislation are about as far from my favourite topic of conversation nowadays as you can get, but we might have to discuss her more often so that I can choke again while you wonder if her little pearl earrings ever bang together because her mind is so narrow.

Which brings me to the part I've had about three goes at writing. If not four. I may have pulled several pieces of hair out as well, and destroyed a perfectly good quill from too much table tapping. Everything I say sounds so stilted and doesn't come near to what I want it to, but I'm going to try and be as honest as I can with you here. Part of me thinks I should apologise, part of me thinks that you need to think very hard about all this before we see each other again on Thursday, and part of me…

Part of me thinks to hell with all that.

Unfortunately, that's the part I am fairly sure I shouldn't be listening to. This all seems to be happening very fast, and I have always thought of you as my friend and part of me also thinks we're risking that friendship. While wondering how I could have been so blind to this from the start. I may need some time to think about it all myself as well as repair any bald spots that have recently appeared.

I can imagine you making that wand gesture again in exasperation (and it's not ladylike, Dora!), but you know I'm right. This isn't a world for unlikely relationships, and I don't feel either of us should be rushing into things, or making impulsive decisions, simply because life seems that way at present.

But, in case of doubt, and because I don't want any further misunderstandings - I didn't intend to kiss you, I certainly didn't intend us to end up against the pantry door, and if I'd known that door knob was right behind you I could have spared you a bruise. I'm also still puzzled over why someone like you would give me the time of day, let alone kiss you like that.

But I can't regret it for a single minute.

Remus

X

You were actually very close to the tattoo at one point. Obviously it slipped your mind again.

The dishevelled look suits you. Puts me in mind of the mosh pit…


26 August, 1995

Dear Tonks,

I hope you don't think it's strange I'm writing to you, but I baked too many Cauldron Cakes to pack in the children's lunches when they go back to school, so I thought I'd send the extras to you, as you were looking a little flush last night at the meeting. Are you sure you're not coming down with a cold? Only I know they're working you too hard at the Ministry, and you spent so many late nights with Sirius last week while Remus was away. You need to look after yourself, dear.

Talking of Remus, wasn't it good to have him back with us? Sometimes I think he's the only rational one of us - except for Dumbledore, of course.

And...I think he cares for you. Remus, I mean, not Dumbledore. You'll probably think I'm just a silly old woman, but I have seen enough romances begin in my lifetime to recognise these things. I noticed he'd been distracted and quieter than usual since he returned from Ambleside (Had you known that's where Dumbledore had sent him? You didn't look surprised when he gave his report), and a little low, which is so odd for him, as he's always got a smile and a cheering word for everyone, though I suppose with those horrible things that have been in the paper, he would be. But then you walked in, and he held his shoulders a little straighter, and some of those worried lines eased from his face, and he looked quite young and handsome. I don't think he took his eyes off you all night, not even during his speech, when I thought he was looking at you as if you were his anchor.

I'm not sure if you've noticed any of this, or if you've even thought of him. I know he's older, and a young woman like you probably notices young men more like, well, Bill. But if you ask me, a girl couldn't ask for a kinder, more attentive suitor than Remus. He's such a steadying sort of person, just the sort of man a woman wants in uncertain times like these.

And you're such great friends already, which is an important foundation for marriage, and you seemed happier last night than you did when he was away, and scarcely spoke two words to anyone else. In fact, I noticed you two got so wrapped up in conversation that you completely lost track of time when the pair of you went to the pantry for Butterbeer last night. It was a full fifteen minutes, did you know that? I know I was the only one to notice, so you don't have to worry.

If you are interested in him, you ought to bake him something scrumptious. The way to a man's heart, and all that. What about a sticky toffee pudding? Or a spicy plum crumble? My recipe made Arthur propose to me, you know, and I'm more than happy to help you make something if you're not that confident in the kitchen.

I do hope you don't think I'm putting my nose where it doesn't belong. I just want to see Remus happy, and I think you're the one to do it. Just another reason to look after yourself.

Enjoy the Cauldron Cakes.

Love,

Molly Weasley

x


26/08/95

5.45 PM

Wotcher, Remus!

You can call me Nymphie if I get to call you Remmy. Deal?

Oh, God, Sirius knows? I was thinking about dropping in on you gents tonight, but I don't think I could play it cool after the letter I got from Molly. Who also noticed our fifteen minute absence, as well as the fact that you, apparently, didn't take your eyes off me all night (well done, Sir Stealthalot). I can guess what Sirius might have said about curtains, as Molly tells me I should bake you the spicy plum crumble that prompted Arthur to pop the question to her. When I reply I'll say you had a run-in with a spicy plum crumble in Ambleside that's put you off that dessert forever, and that if I baked one, the only thing likely to crumble would be the relationship.

All that to say that if you think this is all happening too quickly between us, then you really ought to look at it from other people's perspective, because if it was up to Molly and Sirius and Mrs. Cuthbert, we'd be taking our brood to the Magical Menagerie for a pet budgie now.

I don't have a single doubt about us (and neither does Molly!) but if you want to take it slow, I'll go along with you - as long as that doesn't mean we can't have those occasional moments where you press me against doors (the most well-earned bruise I've ever had) and dishevel me. Even though my gut tells me I ought to be doing all I can to secure you immediately, as I've the not-so-sneaking suspicion that if Molly were a single witch, she wouldn't be encouraging me to win your heart through your stomach. And you said Mrs. Cuthbert's husband was away last week? Suddenly I'm feeling less solicitous about her showing you favouritism at mealtimes! Do you reckon Up the Duff night was just a ruse to put you off "your young lady" by fattening her up, while she showed off her culinary skills?

If I've any hope of getting you into a mosh pit tomorrow night and finding your tattoo (When was I close to it? When your shirt came un-tucked and my hand somehow found its way underneath it?) I'd better close and get started on this paperwork which must be completed by midnight Thursday, or else...I'm not sure what, only that I'd really like to tell Scrimgeour where he can shove his sodding paperwork (like Umbridge's arse) because we sure as hell aren't going to stop Voldemort by pushing quills around on parchment, are we?

Can't wait till tomorrow! I've been saving some leather trousers especially for a Weird Sisters concert or especially hot date. And lucky me, I get to do both!

Love,

Dora

You think the meaning suits me...but I wonder, who takes their time with a gift?


26/08/95

6.12 PM

Dear Molly,

Wow, thanks for the Cauldron Cakes! You couldn't have better timing, as I've just come off a twelve-hour shift and my cupboards are bare. Now before you go in the kitchen and whip up a roast or a lasagne to send me (it's exactly what my mum would do after reading that first line), rest assured that I'm not eating Cauldron Cakes for dinner. I popped into Patil's for a curry on my way home. The Cauldron Cakes are dessert and, no doubt, fuel to get me through what looks to be an all-night date with...

...

...

...

...paper work.

I know, you were hoping I was going to say an all-night date with Remus, weren't you? That's tomorrow, actually. The date part, not the all night part. We just had our first date Friday, and he wants to move a bit slower than that, understandably. Only if you could, find some way to subtly say to him some of those things you said to me, about him being a steady suitor. Maybe the young and handsome bit, too. Merlin knows his ego could do with a bit of boosting with this bloody "positive discrimination" that's making it really hard for me to go to work without hexing Umbridge to oblivion.

Anyway, I'm dragging Remus to see the Weird Sisters tomorrow night (it was that or Blues Night at the Hog's Head), so I'd love your spiced plum crumble recipe, just in case the mosh pit (ask Bill) is an abysmal failure. Only swear you won't say a word about it to Remus!

Thanks again, Molly. You're a star.

Love,

Tonks

X


August 28th, 1995

4.40am.

Dear Dora,

I've abandoned all idea of sleep. Partly because I have to be up again in an hour and twenty minutes, and partly because I don't think I'll ever get the sound of the Weird Sisters performing 'Why Does Your Dog Only Bite Me?' out of my head ever again. Or was it your request for the Aberforth Spring Quartet's rendition of 'I'm A Moanin' In The Moonlight' that my ears and I are never likely to forget…?

By the way, it's now 4.50am. There's been five minutes of bemused head shaking by the writer, which has reminded me that the Order ought to check out exactly what Aberforth is serving with his Firewhisky nowadays, and five more minutes where I'm not sure if it was the room that was out of focus or me. It was quite a night, wasn't it? One of the best nights I've ever had, Dora – I've never laughed more or been embarrassed more OR laughed more at my own embarrassment - and all thanks to you. I'm putting it in writing in case you didn't quite get what I was saying when you were performing that last chorus of Billy Idol's 'Rebel Yell' with the whole – and I mean, the whole - of the bar. You know, the goats were possibly the most in tune. Who knew?

Which reminds me, I'm not quite clear on how we came to attend two such differing social occasions in the same evening. I thought wild Hippogriffs wouldn't drag you away from the Weird Sisters in full flight. Full throat? Well, whatever it was they were doing at various times, I can honestly say I've never seen a group of wizards perform before without getting cautioned for disturbing the peace. Unless it was when James and Sirius decided to re-enact the Muggle play 'Macbeth' and give a whole new meaning to stirring a cauldron, which I think Celestina Warbeck may have based her hit song on. You were quite right that I'd find it a very educational evening in the mosh pit and I have learnt that:

1. It is possible to clench your ears as well as your teeth.

2. I never knew it was possible to keep punching the air like the guest female singer (Gretchen Rogan, was it? Or Retchen Grogan?) did during that one routine. Frankly, if I'd have been the air, I'd have punched her back.

3. That man behind us who kept saying "I love you, Elvis" in my ear had, apparently, mistaken me for someone else. Security explained it all to him, along with the fact that you weren't someone called Cher, when he was removed during the interval. I think he missed some of the finer points when he was lying on the floor at our feet with those bottles clutched to his chest.

4. You're quite right that I have no taste, impartiality, or wisdom when it comes to judging the Sisters' music. But anything that kept Gretchen/Retchen on stage in that short, sparkly costume is fine by me. Somehow I got the feeling you were less than impressed with her, mostly from the way you kept yelling "Get off and leave it to the boys!" at frequent intervals.

5. Most of all, I've learnt that if I smile at you while being crushed together in the front row, we somehow end up at the Hog's Head as very late newcomers to a Blues Night like no other…

You'll probably tell me that you didn't learn anything at the Hog's Head, or you'll want to sue me for the damage I did to your feet while we were attempting that dance. I did warn you that dragging a man to his feet, particularly one who can't dance, was asking for trouble. Even so, I was a bit disappointed when we jointly fell over that goat – this is why I find dancing such a problem; you do all that turning to the left and then to the right, throw in a quite brilliant chasse and pivot on the right heel… and then a goat pops up. And - did you really accuse me of 'faking sway,' or had my ears still gone at that point?

Suffice it to say, nothing was faked throughout the evening, as I thought you must know. Which is rather the part where the euphoria has to stop, and I have to say some things you're probably not going to want to read and I don't want to write.

If I say we shouldn't have gone back to Grimmauld afterwards, I know I'm going to hurt you dreadfully, and that's the last thing in the world I want. Especially when you make everything we're fighting for make sense to me; in fact, crazy though it sounds, when I'm with you, I almost forget we are at war at all. But we are. Only a couple of days ago we agreed to take things slowly, and we both know that if Sirius hadn't woken up when he did that we probably wouldn't have stopped tonight. I'm unable to get past the fact that I'm being unbelievably selfish because there simply isn't any getting past it. Nor can I ignore the fact that this is all my fault, and it's easier to put this down on parchment because if I see you face-to-face I know that all my good intentions will fly away again the minute I do.

Dora. I heard what those boys said at the concert: "What's he got?" They might have been drunk and harsh, but you should be with someone your own age. I also heard what the man at the Hog's Head said to you, and, while it was fun to see what you did to his nose for sticking it into someone else's business, he had a valid point about werewolves. We are the stinking scum of the earth in most eyes, and, until times change, I have no right to involve you in what is my problem - and mine alone - to deal with. I can't argue about it, either, because there's no way round it.

I'm sorry. Truly. It's not enough, and I know it isn't, but I don't know what else to say. I'm praying I haven't effectively ruined our friendship, but I'm going to have to think things over for a couple of days and decide what's best to do.

I could make a feeble joke here, something about you at least getting to see my tattoo at long last, but I think all jokes are out right now. Dora. I meant everything I said. Everything I did. I'm just not sure they or I are right for you.

Thank you for the most wonderful evening. I hope you have some idea how much you mean to me.

Your friend,

Remus

X


28/08/95

6.15 AM

Dear Remus,

Really, you didn't sleep? Only I went straight to bed and dreamt about finishing what we started before Sirius came down for his midnight snack. He'd have been none the wiser that we weren't in the kitchen doing just the same if he hadn't caught you buckling your belt. Did you manage to convince him you were only showing me your tattoo?

I had a wonderful time with you, Remus. To repeat what I said to you on the steps of Grimmauld Place, when you kissed me goodnight: a really, very, truly wonderful time. The best date I've ever been on - and that's including the one last week with Nick to The Grindylow Tank, which wasn't a date at all. Forget about the Weird Sisters - although I hope never to forget the look on your face as Kirley crowd-surfed and those Egyptian eyes of his were suddenly looking down on you from on high - I'd happily go to Blues Night at the Hog's Head every Thursday night for the rest of my life. Even you've got to admit it would be educational. Here's the top five things I learnt:

1. When the goats start soft-shoeing on tables, before you decide to join them, keep in mind that Aberforth's furniture isn't meant for anyone less sure-footed than a goat to dance on.

2. Following on that line, if you do lose your footing whilst atop a table, your best hope of not doing a face-plant is the thin, quiet man who can command a surprisingly booming voice to part the sea of gawping tavern regulars and is equally unexpectedly steady and strong when witches go careening into their arms. Accidentally. I swear to Merlin I wasn't throwing myself at you. That time.

3. Steel-toed boots are an Auror's best friend. On duty, and especially off, if you're planning on dancing at the Hog's Head. But I think the goats were the ones who did most of the damage to my feet. At least, I'm blaming them, and I think you ought to, as well.

4. Never tell a goat joke to a goat. They don't appreciate being the butt of jokes, as you found when you told old Sparkler the one about unemployed goats. Although I couldn't tell if it was the goat bit that offended him, or that he thought you were implying he wasn't pulling his weight as a bouncer. (I meant to have a look at your butt back at Grimmauld to check whether it was as bruised as your ego.)

5. A discreet and scarlet M for Marauder tattooed in the hollow of a man's hipbone is a million times hotter than Egyptian eyes around the nipples.

Okay, so that last one wasn't something I learned at the Hog's Head, but as we were thrown out early for insulting the help...Also, I thought our own private after-party deserved a mention. I'm sure when we try it again next Blues Night, I'll be able to list many more than five things learnt in Remus Lupin's room at Grimmauld Place.

That is...if you'll give us the chance of another Blues Night and another After Blues Night. I understand why you feel the way you do. I don't agree with you, but I do understand, even though you seem to think I don't. And it means a lot to me that you care enough about me to put me ahead of what you want.

Because you do want me, don't you? I'm sure of it. I saw it in your eyes, before you looked away in shame when those idiot kids at the concert and what that colossal arsehole at the Hog's Head said those hateful things about you...about us...and again when they lit up when I jinxed his nose. I felt it when you pulled me to you and put your mouth on mine and kissed me like a man drops to his knees and kisses the ground when he's been away too long from his homeland. I heard it when you whispered goodnight, as if it was the very last thing you wanted to say to me.

I know all these things about you, Remus. Which is why I'm so bloody frustrated that you haven't read between the lines to see that I love you.

...

I've stared at that for about ten minutes now, not from lack of sleep, or from having "Baaa-d to the Bone" stuck in my head, or from wanting to take it back but for trying to think of how to follow it. I don't think I can, except to say that I'm not for a second letting you give up on—


###

28/08/95

6.45am

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Tonks threw the quill down in exasperation at both it and herself for their joint failure to come up with the right words in the right order for the most infuriating man ever, who was probably sat there right now telling himself he'd done the right thing. In her head persisted the image of pale hands tangled in her hair and intense longing on his face like the last time she'd seen him, while she was reduced to swearing under her breath at the tiny blobs of ink which had appeared on the parchment when she'd chucked the quill aside. She looked around for something blotter-like, ignoring the persistent background tapping that must be the bathroom pipes playing up again; she tried to do the same with the hollow, sickly feeling inside that had started the moment she'd read Remus' final lines.

Blooming great idiotic git.

Him and her both. Her for not guessing he'd do this and him for thinking she'd let him. If only she was face to face with him again. Writing letters had seemed like an old-fashioned courtship in words, for their eyes only, which had tapped into a part of her she'd only been slightly aware of before, but now, suddenly, there was no way to say what she wanted to with just a quill.

He might be able to kid himself that they could take a step back in time to the flirty friendship of their early letters, but she wasn't going to pretend. Not after last night. Or this morning. Any of it.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

She resorted to another piece of parchment as a blotter, ending up with ink stains on both that were larger than the original blobs, and debated binning the whole lot. She'd written straight from the heart, which was how she'd always spoken to him, and yet on reading it through, it sounded as if she'd either swallowed whole the corniest Fifi LaFolle reject, or was aiming to be a modern Witch of the World, obsessed with jokes about a singer's tattooed nipples and getting a wizard's trousers off as quickly as she could to see a much more meaningful one in the shape of an M.

Bollocks. Surely he knew neither was really her?

Tap, tap, TAP, TAP, TAP.

"Oh, for—" Tonks swung round in the direction of the bathroom and realised the noise wasn't coming from there. It was coming from the window in her hallway.

Coming, in fact, from the extremely harassed-looking bird perched on the window sill, literally banging his beak and head against the glass.

It was Lord Lucan, Sirius' brown owl that Remus had been using. Somehow, managing to give her an eye-rolling look down his beak that reminded her of his owner in a strop.

"I'm sorry!" Tonks hurriedly pushed the window up. "Why are you back, then? You've only just— Oy!" The owl had fluttered down and made straight for the kitchen without giving her a second glance. "You're supposed to give me a letter before you get any treats, you feathered nutcase!"

But she was distracted from the bird when a thin and familiar shadow detached itself from the wall outside and a throat was cleared in what sounded like amusement. She froze; even her fingers, which had gone straight for her wand, halted mid-move as realisation struck. It seemed the owl hadn't come alone this time.

"Hello, Dora." The quick glance Remus gave her revealed nothing, least of all what he was doing there. "Can I come in?"

She nodded, as it was easier than speaking with her breath caught somewhere in her throat; only when he began to clamber through the frame could she make herself say, "I'd probably have opened the front door if you'd knocked."

"It's a matter of personal pride that I crawl through a lady's window at least once a day." Remus straightened up with some difficulty and grinned at her looking – unbelievably – almost pleased with himself before their eyes met and the smile faded away. In the narrow confines of the hall, he seemed very near.

Tonks licked her dry lips and said the first thing that came into her head. "Delivering the morning papers, are we?"

"Ah, more like the mail, actually."

"I thought we were using owls for that?"

"We are. We were. We used to."

"Only your last one—"

"It's because of the last one that I'm here."

"Why, did you forget to mention the weather or something?"

"I have heard it's raining a lot in Scotland, but I was saving that for a more intimate moment."

"I thought all intimacy was well off the—"

"Which is why I thought personal delivery of the next one would correct this impression."

"Yeah, well, it didn't sound much to me as though you were planning on a next—"

"Dora. Will you please stop talking when I'm interrupting you?"

She stopped. Glared at him to avoid showing anything she was feeling, least of all that she was remembering how they'd kissed only a couple of hours ago. Then she turned and walked back into her front room, leaving him to follow her or not. She decided she was even more furious than hurt, though it was close between the two. Everything he'd said and done had been understandable, right up until the I hope you have some idea how much you mean to me line, which had followed the I'm going to have to think things over for a couple of days and decide what's best to do.

Apparently what she meant to him was someone who couldn't be trusted to know her own mind or make intelligent decisions without him doing it for her.

"What do you want, Remus?" He had followed her and was standing rather uncertainly in the corner of her room, hemmed in by a leaning pile of Auror manuals on one side and the circular portrait of Artemisia Lufkin, first ever witch to become Minister of Magic in 1798 (and keen smoker of very long cigars, from the look of her), which had been a gift from Mad-Eye and for which she'd never found quite the right place on the wall.

By way of reply, he reached into a pocket and passed her a folded square of parchment.

She fingered the parchment but didn't open it. "I thought I'd already had the Dear Dora? Not sure I need a Dear John as well.'"

"It's not." Remus hesitated. "This is more to save us both some time, I hope. To save me, really, if I'm honest."

"How do you mean?"

"I mean..." He took a breath. "...that everything I said in my last letter is what I felt I should say. But the minute it had gone I regretted it and hoped you were angrily writing a reply back, giving me hell and telling me that you didn't care about any of that and calling me names like you did at the Weird Sisters' concert. 'Emotionally-crippled wanker' is the one that comes to mind most," he added, with the faintest twitch of the lips. "That you'd say something breathtakingly honest again, convince me this could work because I want it to so much, and I'd write back and—" He paused, hesitated again. "It seems to me now that written words aren't enough. I'm hiding behind them, and you deserve more."

He'd echoed her own thoughts, almost word for word. Tonks unfolded the parchment and read what he'd written.

She looked up. Remus was watching her.

"You know I only called you an 'emotionally-crippled wanker' because you didn't appreciate the lyrics to Purple Thursday."

"I know." He nodded gravely. "You'll discover many men find it hard to let poetry into their souls."

Tonks didn't smile. "Do you really want this – us – to work?"

"Yes." Remus' eyes held hers. There was no amusement in them now.

She bent her head and read the parchment again.

I don't want to try to read between the lines any more, Dora. I want to know it all.

She considered both the words and the man who'd written for a moment before moving towards her little table. If she didn't trust him and what she felt, then what had she been writing about all this time? She picked the quill up and added a few words to the parchment, then passed it to him and watched the slow smile spread across his thin face as he read.

"Remus," she said, as his arms came round her and she slid hers around his neck.

"Mmn?"

"When you sent that very first postcard – were you hoping for this?"

He raised his head and appeared to think about it. Stroking her face lightly with his fingertips, he said, "At the time, I thought I was just sending you a card." The smile grew wider. "But you might say I was hoping."

She laughed. "I was hoping too."

"That's a lot of hoping going on." His arms tightened round her.

"Do you think we— Oh."

"Mmn." Remus freed his mouth long enough to start to say something, and Tonks kissed him fiercely, crushing her lips against his and forcing back the words. She tugged at him at the same time as he tugged at her, which resulted in them falling sideways in a heap onto her sofa, where gravity and his arms combined to ensure she mostly fell on him.

"Weren't you saying something?" Remus smiled, lifting up his head and kissing her again, so deeply that she all but lost her senses. His eyes were dark and intense, and it took an enormous effort to remember what she'd been going to say and not give in to everything she felt for him.

"Just -for old time's sake..." Tonks paused as his hands slid under her top and wriggled sideways to pull at his shirt to return the favour. "Don't you think – mmn – we should send the occasional letter? To keep our hand in?"

His eyebrow quirked upwards in amusement, and she felt herself redden as she realized just what she'd said and where his hand was resting under her top. Then he slid his free hand into her hair and kissed her very gently on the tip of her nose.

"I think you're both wonderful and beautiful, Nymphadora Tonks," he said, "and as you asked so nicely, I solemnly swear to keep my hand in."

She compressed her lips together, spluttered, gave up, and laughed.

"Come here," Remus said, in a low, caressing murmur Tonks determined no one but her would ever hear again, and pulled her down to his chest once more.

Before all rational thought left her, she caught sight of the piece of parchment he'd given her, now lying crumpled on the carpet. Before she buried her face in his soft hair, she read her own scribbled words.

They say actions speak louder than words.


28/08/95

9.00am

Dear Remus,

Can we do that again yet?

Love,

Dora

XXX

August 28th, 1995

9.05am

Dear Dora,

It will be my absolute pleasure.

Love

Remus

Xxx

P.S Could you get that owl out of here first? He doesn't seem to have grasped our new, more direct arrangement…


The End

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