Remus' ears pricked up at the sound of footsteps in the hallway. It was around the time that Sirius usually brought him dinner, but something was off. The footfalls were slower, lighter, more deliberate; they didn't fit Sirius' causal stride. It must be Molly, he decided. She stopped by occasionally to see that they were eating well, but never while he was transformed. That suited him just fine- it wasn't a side of him he liked people to see.
The footsteps stopped outside the door. The voice that followed nearly sent him into a panic: “Oy, Remus! I brought food! Hope you're decent, 'cause I'm coming in!”
No! Not her! he thought wildly, wavering between hiding under the bed and trying to block the door with his body. How could Sirius be so cruel? He knows how I- he stopped himself there. He had decided to abandon any hopes he had for Tonks, aware as he was of the impossibility of there ever being anything between them. Still, he didn't like her bearing witness to his greatest shame. The door slowly creaked open, and Remus was left with no choice but to attempt to look calm and collected. He lowered his haunches to the floorboards with as much dignity as he could muster and braced himself for her reaction.
“Wotcher, Remus!” said Tonks cheerily as she carefully edged into the room. “Know how bloody difficult it was for me to carry this here?” She indicated the tray as she set it on the floor before him. “Had to watch my feet the whole time, but I didn't trip! Not once!” She beamed proudly.
He eyed her warily, feeling increasingly uncomfortable. What must she think of me? he wondered. Is she repulsed? Or worse... does she pity me? At that moment he desired nothing more than her absence.
“What's that look for?” she asked playfully, reaching out and scratching behind his ears. “Expected me to be scared, didja? Well it'll take more than a sweet little wolf to frighten me.”
Remus couldn't help staring at her. Could she really not be bothered by it? Was that even possible? He was a werewolf, for heaven's sake. The very thought was disturbing; actually seeing it was considerably worse. He was someone she knew as a man, as a friend, as a human, and here he was, as far from any of those things as possible. Yet she had touched him. She had laid her hands on his filthy, corrupted form without even flinching. No one else had ever been able to do that.
“Aren't you hungry? Go on, eat. 'S why I brought it up, you know.”
He nodded his head in thanks and began his meal, eating slowly and carefully so as not to make a mess. Tonks watched him in amusement.
“Figures you'd have perfect table manners as a wolf,” she chortled. “Bet Sirius eats like an animal in dog form.” Remus looked up at her, eyes twinkling in agreement. “Ha! Thought so. Then again, he always eats like an animal, doesn't he?” This time, she could have sworn he smiled.
Her heart fluttered when she thought that she was bringing a little joy to him when he needed it most. She knew how much he hated the full moon, how much he hated transforming, and truly admired his strength in enduring it like he did. Never complained, never sounded bitter; a wry little smile was all it ever evoked from him. It was amazing, really.
“I'll tell you about my day then, shall I?” she said, sitting cross-legged on the floor. He nodded slightly. Her tale began with waking up late for work, quickly progressed into a series of falls, memos, and misinformation, and culminated with falsifying a document that said Sirius had been spotted mooning Muggles in Argentina. Remus couldn't help laughing, a very raspy, growling laugh, something he had rarely done since leaving school. He would remember this in times to come as one of his more enjoyable transformations.
“Merlin! Look at the time!” Tonks exclaimed eventually, glancing at the clock on the bedside table. “I'd better be going. Take care, Remus.” She snatched the empty tray and Disapparated to the kitchen.
Several minutes later, a loud crack sounded outside his door. Is it her? he wondered. Has she come back? Torn between wanting and not wanting her there, he waited with bated breath as the doorknob slowly turned.
A great black dog sauntered in. Remus was a bit disappointed, although he scolded himself for feeling that way.
What's with the goofy smile? Sirius asked. He was an old hand at communicating non-verbally with werewolf-Remus. Hoping I was Tonks, were you?
Not at all. And I'm certain I was not smiling, goofily or otherwise. Even as he said it, Remus wasn't sure it was true: he may very well have been smiling.
Of course not. Sirius cocked a shaggy eyebrow. Why not ask her to dinner? I'm sure she'd say yes.
Absolutely not, that's out of the question. I'd rather not discuss this anymore. Remus leaped lightly onto the bed and curled up, effectively ending all conversation. If he was going to overcome his feelings for Tonks, he couldn't have a nosy school buddy exposing them at every turn.
Sirius felt slightly guilty. He hadn't meant to upset him. Setting his head on his paws, he silently watched his weary old friend pretend he had outgrown falling in love.
Current Mood: uncomfortable
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