Remus heard the familiar banging from upstairs and sighed. It was impossible to concentrate on his Daily Prophet anymore. He needed peace and quiet in the morning—a peace and quiet he had had for over fifteen years of living in this apartment. There had never been so much as a whisper of activity that trickled through the rather thin walls and floors.
But, sometime over the past year, while he had been teaching at Hogwarts, she had moved in upstairs, and she seemed to be quite fond of having rather raucous sex in the morning. Never at night, he had noticed, only in the morning.
He had never spoken to her. He did not even know her name. But he could recognize her voice crying things he would rather not recognize through the ceiling of his apartment and it did not please him. She was young, and always had some young "hot stuff" bloke with her and this morning was no different. Today, his name was Edwin—or so he gathered from her cries.
He missed Hogwarts. He never had had to put up with sex-screams there, during the collective eight years he had been at the castle. In seventh year, James had always left a signal on the door when he needed privacy with Lily and last year, he had had his own room, far away from any horny students—or teachers.
It wasn't that he was entirely displeased to be home. On the contrary, he liked his apartment. He had many fond memories of this apartment. He had a room devoted to his monthly needs that was as secure as any wizard could make it—a room that was actually quite nice now that he could get Wolfsbane potion from St. Mungos, even if it did cost him an arm and a leg.
He had lived here since had left school. At first, James had lived with him (when they had rented the place), then he had bought it from batty old Mrs. Dovegrove, who had passed on several years later, leaving most of the building to her bad-tempered nephew. The same bad-tempered nephew who had thought it would be a good idea to let her move in upstairs.
He sighed and folded the paper. There wasn't too much in it, anyway—mostly some nonsense about the preamble to the World Cup tonight. They hadn't even run their employment advertisements today. He chucked the paper in the bin by the fireplace.
He heard a particularly loud moan, groaned and grabbed his keys. He was getting out of here.
Pathetic, Moony, he heard Sirius' voice in the back of his head, being driven out of your own bloody apartment by her. Get a grip, man. Sirius' voice had been absent from his head for the past thirteen-odd years. It had quite forcefully replaced Peter's in June, though.
Oh, lighten up, Padfoot, came James' voice, He has every right to go for a walk without you harping on about how he never has any sex anymore. That's just not nice.
How long has it been, Moony, said Sirius again, Three years? That's one hell of a dry spell.
Oh, be nice, this time, it was Lily's voice, It's hard for Remus, what with all of his friends gone and all of the witches in the world so prejudiced and idiotic. And it's not like he can explain to a muggle that he is a werewolf.
Three little words, darling, said James to Lily, One. Night. Stand. No questions asked. That's it.
Will you all shut up? Remus told them, trying to take charge of his own head. (He really had gone round the twist.) I am not being driven out of my home. It is a nice day and I fancied a walk.
It was a nice day. The sun shone down on him. He breathed deeply and wondered where Sirius was. He had gotten a letter a few days ago. A tremendous tropical bird had flown in through his window as he was setting up breakfast (to the usual morning accompaniment from upstairs).
Well, I have arrived—although I won't be telling you where, as this bird may be intercepted. I trust his loyalty, but he is a bit thick.
Anyway, I am having a lovely time here. Buckbeak and I have seen loads of stuff you wouldn't find in England or in Azkaban. The food is incredible, although I suppose anything is better than what I have been living off for the past however many years.
I hope all is well with you. Hope you find a new job.
Do keep in touch,
He had replied, of course, saying that he was doing well, still unemployed, and that he had a new neighbor who bugged him more than he could put in writing.
Of course, he couldn't tell Sirius exactly how he was feeling. That was not something he had ever done with Sirius. Peter when they had been younger, and James when they had lived together briefly, but never Sirius really. So he had no means of communicating precisely how pathetic he was feeling. For Merlin's sake, he had just been driven out of his bloody apartment because he couldn't deal with the sounds of his neighbor having morning sex. He sighed and glanced at his watch. Just past two in the afternoon.
He walked and walked and walked until the sun was noticeably lower in the west. Somehow his feet had taken him to the Leaky Cauldron. He went inside. It was filled with people, all wearing green.
He sat down at the bar and ordered himself a shot of firewhisky. "You here for the game, Remus?" asked Tom.
"I suppose," said Remus.
"You aren't wearing any colors. Not sure who to support?"
"I didn't know I would be coming, and I didn't know there would be a party here," he replied shrugging.
"I'd pick Ireland if I were you," said a young woman. Remus was not at all surprised to see that she was dressed entirely in green and had even dyed her hair green for the match.
"Oh yeah?" he asked her.
"Yep. Strongest set of chasers in the world. Sure, Bulgaria's got Krum, but you need a good supportive set of chasers, which Bulgaria hasn't got."
"You're big on quidditch?" asked Remus.
"Played for Hufflepuff for five years. Beater. My dad was surprised to learn that I am, in fact, more coordinated in thin air than I am on land, but there you go."
"Do you still play at all?"
"Sometimes with my mates. But I don't really have time for it anymore. Job training."
"Wow," said Remus, quite impressed.
"You said it. Tons of work. They should warn more students about that when they think of applying. But I'm doing all right, so…I'm Tonks, by the way. You?"
"Lupin. Remus Lupin."
"And you take it shaken, not stirred?" asked Tonks, grinning.
"Nothing. My dad's muggleborn, so I was raised on James Bond movies. He always introduces himself as 'Bond. James Bond,' so I cracked a dumb joke."
"Have you got a first name, Tonks?"
"Yeah. But it is a crime that should be punishable by law, so I won't be sharing it. Sorry. Tonks is fine."
"You here on your own?" asked Remus, half wanting her to have a group of friends to go off to, half wanting her to stay and chat with him about quidditch and James Bond.
"Nah. Most of them got tickets. I didn't know if I'd be able to get time off work, so I couldn't get one. So here I am. I figure at least here there's an ambiance, even if we are only listening to the game. What about you."
Remus thought for a moment. He could be morbid, and reply—rather truthfully—that his friends were dead or banished, or he could lie… "Couldn't get tickets."
"Couldn't, or didn't try?" teased Tonks.
"The latter, really. I'm not extremely interested in quidditch." Tonks looked appalled.
"I'm not sure I can talk to you anymore. Good day to you, sir." She pretended to turn away.
"I used to be. One of my best mates played all the time and probably could have played professionally, but then he died and it kind of turned me off the game for a while."
"I'm sorry. When did he die?"
"Nearly thirteen years ago."
"I'm sorry. But you should be over it by now. Quidditch is holy."
"Of course, that means that he made sure that I knew all that I could about the bloody game, so I am kind of stuck, aren't I?"
"That's not a bad thing, Lupin. Remus Lupin."
"Depends on your perspective, Tonks."
"What do you do?"
"Nothing, currently. I taught Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts last year."
"Ahh. Succumbed to the jinx, did you?"
"Has any man ever survived it?"
"Not to my knowledge," she said, sipping her green drink, "What got you?"
Again, he paused. He could lie and say that the kids annoyed him, or that he couldn't handle teaching, but that didn't seem right. "I'm a werewolf."
She looked at him, and he waited for the look that everyone always got. The look of shock, then horror, then disdain, then the inevitable 'oh, there's someone over there that I wasn't expecting to see, excuse me, lovely to meet you,' and then the end of the conversation.
"That would make teaching hard, I suppose. It must have disrupted your schedule a bit. But with the Wolfsbane potion, you weren't a danger to the kids…"
"Their parents wouldn't have wanted a werewolf teaching them," he sighed, "and after Snape let slip…"
"He would, wouldn't he?"
"I mean, he's a smarmy git, isn't he? He would let slip. He wants the job and Dumbledore never gave it to him."
"And he never liked me much…"
"He never liked anyone much," she laughed.
"I mean, he didn't like me because we were in the same year at school and my friends rather antagonized him."
"Did they, now? Any good stories?"
"A few, but I don't know how trustworthy you are. These stories can't get out."
"Oh, come on." Her green eyes were bright, and he could tell that she would share the stories with anyone she could. But her eyes looked like Lily's and her smile was so warm and she hadn't abandoned him just yet.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," Ludo Bagman's voice rang out from the wireless, "welcome! Welcome to the final of the four hundred and twenty-second Quidditch World Cup!"
"I'll let you off the hook for now, but I do expect to hear some," said Tonks while the pub around them cheered as though they were actually at the immense stadium.
"And now, without further ado, allow me to introduce…the Bulgarian National Team Mascots!" Bagman cried.
"Oh. Well, since we can't see them, tell me about tormenting Snape. You have my word of honor that nothing you tell me shall ever reach the ears of my highly interested friends."
"All I am going to give you right now is that he is scared of chipmunks."
"Severus Snape is scared of chipmunks."
Tonks burst into a rather maniacal cackle. "Chipmunks?" she sputtered.
"Indeed. And we learned that one quite by accident," he smiled.
"I wish I'd known that! God, that would have been fun. Could have snuck one into my bag and let it run loose in class."
"My friend James did just that—regularly, as a matter of fact."
"He's a good man, this James. A good man."
"Indeed," said Remus, "It is also thanks to him that we learned that Snape's middle name is Herman."
"Severus Herman Snape! I think you may just be the love of my life!" Tonks' eyes were alight with glee.
"Good thing you ran into me then, isn't it? Or else you would be wasting your time on less enlightened men."
"You mean the t-shirt wearing, sex-addicted, moronic and superficial idiots who happen to always ask me out? I am currently taking a break from them, so it is your lucky night."
Keep going, Moony, Sirius' voice rose, unbidden, She's hitting on you.
Leave him be, Sirius, snapped Lily.
Remus laughed, not entirely sure how to respond.
"So," continued Tonks, slightly more serious now, "is there a Mrs. Lupin, Remus Lupin running around with your several adorable cubs?"
Remus laughed again—bitterly this time.
You are laughing a lot, Moony. Play it cool, commanded James.
"The ones that think they are brave enough to be in a relationship with a werewolf rarely last longer than the first full moon."
"Why's that?" She looked genuinely curious.
"Because when I can't see them for several days because I am recovering, they realize the weight of my condition and say 'Remus…we need to talk.'"
"Well…that's not very sporting of them," sniffed Tonks.
"And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, kindly welcome—the Bulgarian National Quidditch Team! I give you—Dimitrov! Ivanova! Zograf! Levski! Vulchanov! Vulkov! Aaaaaand—Krum!" roared Bagman.
And the game began.
Tonks was very into quidditch. She cheered loudly with every Irish goal—and even did a jig at one point (although that might have been caused by her mild inebriation). She and Remus talked and laughed and talked and laughed and talked and—according to the Sirius, the Lily, and the James in the back of Remus' head—flirted.
When Ireland won, she kissed him. Granted, she kissed several other people as well in celebration, but Remus couldn't help but feel…happy that she had kissed him first. She had ordered another round of firewhisky and they drank and continued talking and laughing and talking and flirting until she stood and said "Right. I have work in….four hours. Care to walk me home so that I might sleep a little?"
So he stood and they left the very cheery pub.
"Hang on," she said, right as they stepped outside. She flinched for a moment and her hair changed from neon green to a rather aggressive shade of bubblegum pink, her eyes from green to brown. "I'm a metamorphagus," she said, shrugging at his impressed expression.
"Very nice. That must be handy."
"It means that I don't have to study how to disguise myself at all—which is good because I nearly fail every stealth and tracking exercise that they give me."
"Why an auror?" he asked.
"Because my dad is muggleborn and my mum isn't and her family is full of nutters who wouldn't mind seeing both of them dead."
"Sounds like a friend of mine's family."
"Did he marry out?"
"Didn't marry at all. But was the first Gryffindor in nearly five hundred years. And was blasted off the family tree. He's quite proud of it, actually."
"I'd be too. I don't even know if I'm on mine. My mum was disowned when she got engaged to my dad. Even if they had broken up, I doubt they would have let her back in. The concept that she would even dream of marrying a muggleborn."
"Wizards are crazy, aren't they?"
"Indeed. I am proof of that, I believe."
"Yes. I was raised by a muggleborn, and yet know nothing about muggles except that they use toasters to make toast, my mother is a housewife and yet I can't fold my own laundry. My best friend is a muggleborn who is more talented than me and yet chose to run off and become a 'performance artist' in New York City, and I don't even have the bloody time to go and visit her, and don't even know what a 'performance artist' is. I spend all of my time working even though I never see my friends anymore and there aren't as many dark wizards running around since You-Know-Who fell and, as the wanker I broke up with this morning so kindly put it, I am a metamorphmagus and yet do not choose to make myself hotter."
"That wasn't nice of him."
"No, it wasn't. And of course, you are a perfectly kind man, and yet the wizarding world collectively discriminates against you for no reason—since they discovered the Wolfsbane potion. It is all just sheer madness."
"Do you partake in the madness, or have you gotten your fair share, being a werewolf?"
"Oh, one would think I had gotten my fair share, but alas…I am a bookworm who can never find a good book, a hard worker who can't find a job, a good friend whose friends keep dying and betraying one another and a man who is forced to listen to the sounds of his neighbors constantly having sex while he himself never gets to. It is most unfortunate."
"Madness indeed," grinned Tonks.
They stopped in front of the door to Remus' building. Remus looked at her curiously.
"Well…this is me…" she said smiling slightly.
"Wait…you live here?"
"I live here."
"Seriously? I'm 4A."
"What?" she asked.
She stared at him. Then blushed furiously.
"Well…goodnight then," she said, and turned quickly, clearly very embarrassed.
"I had a good time tonight," he said to her back.
"Me too," she said quietly, turning back to him, "I'm sorry about…you know."
"Don't worry about it."
"I'll cast a sound barrier charm in the future."
"You know…that never even occurred to me."
She laughed, awkwardly, and then stood, awkwardly, thinking.
"Hey…I don't know if you would be up for it…but are you in the mood for some 'Yay my team won the World Cup sex'? It could totally be a one-night thing."
Six different things happened at once. Or rather, six different reactions erupted in Remus' head.
Good job man! boomed Sirius
It has been so long, moaned desperate-Remus.
Don't do anything you aren't comfortable with, advised Lily.
You hardly know her—and you don't do casual sex, remember? You only have sex with people you are committed to. We have been here before, preached uptight-Remus.
She's nice though. And not too bad looking. And it's not as though you don't really know what to expect from her, said James.
Why not? said a Remus he couldn't recognize.
"All right," said Remus.
She reached out her hand. He took it, and they walked up to apartment 4A together.