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04 May 2006 @ 04:09 pm
No Time for Ducking, Chapter Three  
Title: No Time for Ducking, Chapter Three
Author: godricgal
Summary: It's early days in Remus' and Tonks' budding relationship. Just how serious is it? With their respective responsibilities to the Order, will they find the time for their relationship to move forward?
Rating and warnings: PG-13 (the last chapter will be rated R)
Author's Notes: Many thanks, as always, to my bestest beta, mrstater.

Chapter One|Chapter Two

No Time for Ducking, Chapter Three

As the last owl of the night soared out the window and into the dark, midnight blue sky, littered with stars and presided over by a perfect half-moon, Remus pushed his chair away from the desk and leant back with a sigh, stretching his arms over his head. He glanced over at Tonks, who was sat slumped over the small, circular kitchen table, her head rested on folded arms.

It had been a disappointing end to the evening for both of them. As he registered her slack and tired posture, a knot of resentment formed in his stomach; it stung that he' not been able to give Tonks the perfect ending to a very special day.

He had no doubt that their earlier declarations had meant as much to Tonks as it had -- did -- to him and, in both their minds, moved their relationship into entirely new and exciting -- heady -- territories.

But, he reminded himself, as guilt began to recede, this was how it would likely be for the foreseeable: their time together would be snatched moments between their responsibilities as Auror and Order members.


He still couldn’t believe it.

Dementors, in Little Whinging.

Dementors, in Little Whinging, during the one and only time Harry had been left unprotected since the summer holidays had begun.

And why on earth had they attacked Harry? Logic supposed that Voldemort must have something to do with it, that he’d begun to court the loyalty of the Dementors away from the Ministry. But something niggled, a slight ambiguity of wording in one of Dumbledore’s communications that suggested the Ministry might have orchestrated this scenario -- yet another attempt to discredit Harry, and through him, Dumbledore.

It seemed preposterous to Remus -- surely the Ministry wasn't ready to sink to such depths, certainly not with The Boy Who Lived -- but his innate trust in Dumbledore meant he had to give the theory at least a passing thought.

Giving one final stretch, this time accompanied by a yawn, he resolved to think no more of it tonight, and instead, to make a concerted effort to focus the rest of the evening -- short as it would be -- on his quite new, but altogether thrilling, relationship with the young woman he’d so recently pledged his love to.

He stood and crossed the short space between the desk and table. Her eyes blinked open sleepily as he approached, and she offered a small smile. He liked to think that small was intimate and that smile only for him.

"All finished?" she asked softly, her voice laced with fatigue.

"For tonight." He reached out and ran his hand through her soft, pink hair, because to be close to her and not touch her seemed like a sinful waste of opportunity.

She was already dressed for bed, having finished her part in tonight's assignment a little before him, but she'd contributed to no small extent. Her quick thinking and perceptiveness were two qualities that stood out amongst many others; she'd done her share of guard duties this summer and, through her observation of the Dursleys, had been able to formulate a scheme for removing the family from Privet Drive that would be irresistible to them.

"You did excellent work tonight, thank you. I think you've hatched the perfect plot."

He chuckled slightly at the memory of her youthful enthusiasm as she'd fine-tuned the plan, and her glee that it would not only do the trick but carried the added bonus of 'wiping that sodding smirk off the ignorant Muggles' faces'.

"Doesn't it worry you, though?" There was a glimmer of mischief twinkling behind heavy-lidded eyes as she lifted her head and moved to sit up.

Remus raised his eyebrow in question.

"That your girlfriend can scheme like that so easily," she clarified.

"In light of your profession, it only serves to make me all the more confident that you can find your way out of a sticky situation."

He had to admit that he found her abilities as an Auror deeply attractive, not only because it implicitly meant he had a partner for interesting conversation, but on a much deeper, yet more basic level, he found it…Well, he found it downright sexy.

"And don't forget, my dear," Remus continued, "that I'm not above a little scheming myself. It's just another one of the reasons I believe we might just be the perfect match."

The beaming smile she'd fixed him with shrank to the small one he'd come to love so well on her as she leant into his hand when it curled round the base of her neck, his thumb scuffing her cheek; Remus wondered if he'd ever cease to be amazed by the softness of her skin, or indeed, her reaction to his touch.

"Are you ready for bed?" she asked.

Her words, spoken almost shyly, invoked a quiet thrill at the realisation that all the dreams he'd had of falling asleep with her in his arms, and of waking up beside her the following morning would become a reality. Since the very first time he'd kissed her, Remus had not been able to resist wondering what it would be like to share a bed with her; it was with anticipation for the right moment that he'd waited for it, becoming more certain as each day passed that the opportunity would present itself in time.

Her question, though, also bought the realisation that he wasn't entirely sure how the arrangement was going to work; through all his solitary musings, he'd never considered the now very pressing question of what she might expect. In spite of this new and sudden concern he nodded affirmatively at her.

"Me too." She sat up with a yawn, and then stood -- so close that he was unable to resist the temptation to lean in and kiss her. "I've left a t-shirt and a pair of trackie bottoms for you on the bed."

"These clothes," Remus said in the most suspicious tone he could muster, as he slipped his arms around her waist and pulled her body flush against his. "I trust that I'm not going to find myself in a situation where the first time my girlfriend sees me in nightwear it's in hot pink trousers and a Weird Sisters t-shirt."

"Trust is very important in a relationship." She looked up at him impishly, waggling her eyebrows at him.

"I agree, only I'm not sure, in this case, if I ought to be trusting that you'll take the opportunity for mischief on every possible occasion, or trust that you'd not force me to wear something that will do no justice what-so-ever to the colour of my eyes."

Laughing, Tonks said, "Put yourself out of your misery and go and change. I'll just get us some water, then I'll be right in." She leant forward for another kiss and then turned, heading for the kitchen.

Remus watched her for a few seconds -- admiring the way the shaped turquoise camisole hugged her waist, leaving tantalising glimpses of the smooth skin of her hips that disappeared into loose fitting pink and white stripped bottoms -- before he walked into the bedroom.

He'd been in her bedroom only once before, the very first time he'd come over -- for their second date, and she'd insisted on giving him the full tour -- which really only consisted of a few waves of her hand around the open plan living and kitchen area, a quick peek in the bathroom, poking their heads round the bedroom door, and instructions on where to find the tea.

It wasn't a large room, he thought, as he pulled the door close behind him, and the bed -- covered by a light duvet in rich jewel tones -- seemed to dominate it -- an observation that ever-so-slightly increased the nerves Remus felt for what might happen. His eyes fell to the small pile of clothes at the foot of the bed, he felt a broad smile leak across his face. Both the t-shirt and bottoms were neatly folded, not an inch of fabric was out of place, it was obvious to Remus that she'd taken care in their presentation.

For him.

Even though he'd have been more amused than anxious, had the clothing turned out to be less than in keeping with his usual attire, he could deny he felt a measure of relief to see plain, black trousers in a thin fabric that wouldn't be too warm for the evening and an oversized red t-shirt.

As he unbuttoned his shirt, his thoughts returned to pondering the question of Tonks' expectations about tonight -- or if she had any at all. He was almost certain that, had they not been interrupted earlier, they'd have taken another great leap in their relationship. It was a step he very much wanted to take, but now it was getting late; they were both tired and probably a little overwhelmed. He couldn't help but think that perhaps tonight wasn't the night for their first time.

Now standing in nothing but his underpants -- and feeling more than a little self-conscious of the fact he was as good as naked in Tonks' bedroom -- Remus reached for the t-shirt and pulled it over his head. As he stepped into the bottoms, he debated the wisdom of bringing the subject up. It did occur to him that laying clothes out for him might be telling. Then again, clothes put on could always be taken off.

If they didn't speak about it, he was quite sure the issue would hang thick in the air between them; at least, certainly he would be wondering.

But what if Tonks hadn't considered it? Would it be too forward to assume that sex was on her mind? He might insert awkwardness between them, rather than dissolve it.

A shuffling and a muttered oh bugger outside the door stirred Remus from his thoughts. He strode to the door and pulled it open to find Tonks, obviously post-stumble, struggling to regain her balance and prevent the water in the glasses she held in both hands sloshing over the sides. He took a single step forward to lend a supporting hand underneath her elbow, and relieved her of one of the glasses.

"Thanks," she said, giving him a rueful smile.

Once certain she'd fully regained her equilibrium and placed a kiss on her forehead in the hope of reassuring her that he didn't mind her clumsiness, Remus went to place the glass on the bedside table, and then set about carefully folding his clothes.

"Thank you for sparing my blushes and lending me respectable-looking night wear," he tossed over his shoulder."

"Least I could do," came the reply, but something didn't sound quite right; there was a certain dullness to her voice that didn't sound like Tonks he knew, as though something else was on her mind.

He turned back to her: she was standing near the end of the bed, nervously toying with a frayed tassel on the throw that was draped across foot of the bed. She did indeed look worried, pensive.

"Is something the matter?" Remus asked with a frown as he moved to stand closer to her. He wondered for a moment if she was as unsure as he was. And his mind waged a new war, now wondering if he should step in and soothe her unease by bringing it up himself, or if again, it would be presumptuous to assume that was the cause of the problem.

When he took another step closer she looked up at him suddenly, as though his proximity was a surprise to her. With a wide smile he could tell she didn't quite feel, she replied, a little too quickly, "No, nothing." Her eyes darted down to her fingers, which were still twisting in the fabric, her hand fell to her side immediately.

Somewhat troubled, Remus lifted his own hand to her chin and tilted her face up to his. "No," he said. "I can tell, something is bothering you. You can tell me, love."

He hoped he hadn't visibly reacted, but Remus reeled as the term of endearment rolled comfortably off his tongue. It almost seemed natural progression, after earlier in the day but to move so seamlessly to this familiar term of address seemed too easy to be real.

"I know," she said, after releasing a shaky breath that was just ever-so-slightly tinged with what Remus though might have been self-recriminating laughter. "I'm being silly." She took a deep breath. "I just…I mean, I'm not sure…" She rolled her eyes at herself in what appeared to be frustration. "I just don't want us to be wondering about what the other expects here tonight."

So that was it.

Relieved that she did indeed have the same concerns that he did -- and by her manner, he could easily guess that her thoughts on the matter largely mirrored his -- Remus took a deep breath and silently berated himself for worrying that they might not be on the same page on this topic, and for leaving it up to her to actually raise the subject.

"I have no expectations," he said softly. "Just to stay here with you tonight is enough." He held his arms out for her and she stepped closer to him so he could fold her against his chest. "It's not that I don't want to," Remus continued. "I do, very much. But I want it to be at the right time and not something we do because we feel we ought to -- after earlier. Whether that's tonight, tomorrow or next week or next month, it doesn't matter, there's no rush."

He felt her relax against him. "Sorry for getting all silly about it," she mumbled into his t-shirt..

"Don't apologise," he replied with a huff of laughter as he tightened his arms around her. "I was worrying about it, too."

"Really?" Tonks asked, sounding amused and turning her head up to meet his gaze.

"I was wondering whether to bring it up when you walked -- or I should say stumbled…" He chucked as she nudged him with her shoulder in half-hearted reproof. "…into the room.

"I should have kept quiet then. Left it up to you."

They both laughed, but Tonks brought them back to sobriety, her eyes darkened, and facial muscles tightened as she tamed the grin that had moments before danced across her face. She said, "We shouldn't ever be afraid to tell each other things, should we?"

"Never," Remus replied. There was something about her expression; something telling in her tone that made him realise she wanted him to take the lead in this. He'd worried that to set the pace tonight would be too forward, since he was essentially a guest in her house, but it was merely technicality, and Tonks, for all the modern images she projected, still desired to be led by him.

With that in mind, and buoyed by her words, he summoned the courage to suggest, "So it's perfectly fine for me to tell you that I'd really like to suggest that we climb into bed and curl up together?"

Tonks reached up to press a kiss to the underside of his chin. "I think that's an excellent suggestion."

She turned out of his embrace, grabbing a hand as she went, with a jolly come on, then and dragged him to the head of the bed. Remus chucked at her eagerness, thinking how typically Tonks it was to wait for a lead only to barrel full steam ahead. In any case, he was grateful to Tonks for making the first physical move towards climbing into bed; he really was keen not to overstep the boundaries, even if Tonks had indicated there were none. On this first night, he just felt he needed a little time to settle in to this new development in their relationship.

She pulled back the covers and slipped underneath, scooting across to the other side of the bed to make room for him to slide in beside her, which he did with enthusiasm.

He turned to her -- both of them still sitting up, the duvet pooled in their laps -- and stretched an arm across the pillow inviting her to settle against him. She did so immediately, and Remus eased their bodies further down the bed.

The comforting weight of the duvet above him, the solid feel of her body against his side, her arm draped across his chest, and the undeniably glorious sensation of her leg sliding between his thighs elicited a sigh of deep contentment from Remus as he revelled in his first experience of lying in bed with Tonks; taking in every sensation that the new experience had to offer.

As he lay, he looked down at the mass of soft pink spikes that tickled his chin and the delicate curl of her fingers as she rested her hand on his chest, Remus, for the thousandth time since he'd met Tonks, thanked his lucky stars for all that she was and for all that her coming into his life had given him…And, he felt sure, would continue to give him.

He reached up to cradle her cheek with his palm and eased her face closer to his. Their lips moulded together in a lingering kiss, moving slowly, before pressing more insistently. As much as Remus loved the feel of her tongue moving against his, the taste of her and the passion that rose and swelled from deep kisses, this unhurried and lazy movement of their mouths left him utterly lost to everything but the touch of her lips.

By the time they pulled apart, both of them were breathless. He remained very close to her face, he could feel the staccato pulse of her quickened breaths on his; her lips were puffy and red, her eyes dilated and shining. Intimate moments did not afford him the luxury of thought, but in the quietude of their wake, Remus was always able to ponder the wonder at the change she'd brought about in his life.

Few events had affected him quite like the life altering moment when he'd met Tonks for the first time; receiving his Hogwarts letter, the events of Halloween 1981, and his return to Hogwarts in 1993. Only one of those had ever offered permanence: a life without his friends. How he hoped that this most recent event would offer an enduring change: a lifetime with her.

In just six short weeks, his life had changed beyond all compare. Existence had become not now a question of waiting for the next moon, but rather, a case of waiting for the next time he saw her; and now, for the next time he would lay beneath blankets, with her in his arms. How much he had to look forward to --

She'd said she loved him.

The thought of a life together, as one: a unit, meant everything to him. He wanted to believe it to be possible. It was beyond anything he'd thought attainable, especially with a witch so beautiful, so clever, so vibrant as she.

It would be easy to explain such thoughts away on the fact of his lycanthropy, but it truth he couldn't quite believe that such a girl would give him a second look.

He felt, as well as heard Tonks take a deep sigh. of contentment, that he couldn't help but agree with.

"What was that sigh for?" Remus teased. "Are you already regretting your decision to share your bed space tonight?"

"I'm the one that's draped all over you." Tonks replied. "It was a happy sigh. You're very comfortable."

Wrapping his arm around her waist, Remus pulled her closer, murmuring "That is good to know." into her hair.

Giving him a little squeeze, Tonks replied, "I'm a little tired, though, but we're in the right place for that."

"We certainly are."

Lying like this with her was an entirely different experience to sitting with their arms round one another by a lake, or even to lying close on the sofa. It was more relaxed, somehow, with the cool pillow beneath his head and bodies separated by nothing more than the thin material of their night clothes; every part of her body felt more accessible to him, closer, more comfortable and perfectly fitting together.

Remus shifted slightly, running his hand from her back to her waist where it found warm, exposed skin. He couldn't resist tracing small circles there, delighting at the small tremors that ran through her body as she shivered at his touch. Without really even registering what he was doing, he found his hand moving underneath her top trailing over to the small of her back and up, following the path of her spine.

Already, he was wondering how he'd ever sleep alone again. How could he sleep, while longing for her soft breathing beside him; the light, flowery scent of her shampoo, the comforting weight of her body against his... Really, he would miss everything about her.

He surprised himself with the sudden thought that one night in every four weeks they would have no choice but to sleep apart. It had never occurred to him before now that the werewolf aspect of his life might affect their relationship -- except now, in light of their earlier confession, the prospect of permanence begged the question of how they might cope financially, in the long run. Remus pushed the negative thought aside, quite apart from being a thoroughly unproductive thing to linger on, negativity had no place to interfere with his enjoyment of this moment.

Remus rolled her onto her back, moving himself to lean over her. "It's been quite a day, hasn't it?" he said, sweeping her fringe back from her forehead as he looked down at her. A small thrill passed through him at the sight of both their bodies pressed together and disappearing beneath the duvet.

"It has, a bit," Tonks replied, a grin spreading across her face. "We got busted by Sirius, qualified for Wizarding patience awards for not hexing him at dinner. Then…" she paused as her expression softened. "Then there was that really special bit, and really, right now, we ought not to think about anything that happened after that."

Thinking that he really couldn't agree more, Remus bent to touch his lips to hers. Their kiss was soft and gentle, but no less expressive than the heated ones they'd shared on the couch earlier. The slow movement of their mouths spoke of tenderness and feeling, designed to stir emotion, rather than passion.

Remus had known for several weeks that he loved her; he thought perhaps he'd loved her from the moment they'd met. He'd felt a connection between them from their very first encounter; he found her inquisitive manner charming, her enthusiasm contagious and her easy style of conversation enthralling, but beneath all that he'd discovered a character that was perceptive and caring; passionate and determined. She possessed an intelligence that rivalled Sirius' and James', an energetic spirit to match Lily's; she was everything that he'd ever dreamt it was possible to find in a partner, and he really still couldn't quite believe she'd chosen him.

He ran his tongue along her upper lip one more time, pressed his lips to hers once again and reluctantly lifted his head to look at her -- not that looking at her was any great hardship. The smile she gave him seemed to be one of what he thought to be relaxed satisfaction, and that was exactly how he felt himself.

Remus rolled onto his side and coaxed her on to hers -- facing away from him, before closing the small distance between them and moulding his body around her. He pressed a small kiss to the slender curve of her neck before resting his forehead against the back of her head. He threaded his arm under hers, allowing his palm to splay across her tummy. In a gesture that touched him deeply -- although he had no idea why it should do so -- Tonks brought her hand to rest simply over his.

They lay in silence for a long time -- so long, in fact, that had her hand not remained in the same position he would have been sure that she was asleep.

"If we hadn't got interrupted...I wouldn't have stopped things, you know," Tonks said softly, her voice laced with sleep. "I'm ready, when we get a chance to find the right moment."

Even though Remus had been fairly sure that they had both been in the same frame of mind, her words were a very welcome confirmation and swept away the last vestiges of concern he had on that topic.

He squeezed her gently and whispered back to her, "We'll find the right time."

She hummed softly before pulling the duvet up to her face and settling back against him a little more firmly.

"Love you," she murmured, clearly on the very precipice of sleep, it stuck Remus profoundly how absolutely adorable he found her, and, at the same time he wondered if he would ever fail to be moved by those words tumbling from her lips.

He whispered them back to her and lowered both their hands to the mattress, entwining their fingers. It wasn’t long before bright, sunlit memories of laughter and dark eyes, sparkling with honesty and intensity, as lips formed words that were more wonderful than any he could imagine; thoughts of all that had happened and all that could be gave way to closed eyes and the deep, steady breaths of slumber.

Continued in Chapter Four...

Author's Notes: I do apologise for the truly shameful length of time it's taken me to update this fic. If you're reading this, I'm assuming you've stuck with me, and I thank you most sincerely for that. I do very much appreciate readers taking the time to let me know what they thought of the fic, so this time, I'm offering to dispatch Remus for reviewers to dress in pyjamas of their choice -- and feel free to take them off again... ;)