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"I'm an old woman," Tonks said morosely. Harry nodded and handed her another beer. "I'm old and alone."

"And drunk," Harry chimed in. She waved him off, her pink hair flickering first to black, then to gray, and she wondered if Harry was still too sober to appreciate the dramatic effect. Most likely. "Maybe you're just too picky."

"Oh, come on!" She scoffed. "How the hell am I picky? I'm not."

"Look around and pick a girl," Harry said, looking entirely too smug. Tonks' eyes followed his arm in a wide sweep of the bar, jumping from woman to woman. The tall blond in the corner booth was too skinny. The young Spanish woman at the bar with the wide smile was too flirty if the pleased look on old Tom's face was anything to go by.

"This is a really shitty place to pick up women, Potter," she grumbled, swiping at him half-heartedly as he crowed in smug delight.

"Just face it Tonks. You're single because you're too damn picky." Harry sloshed his beer around, soaking the man seated at the table behind them. "You should, well, you should just not have standards, I guess."

"Not have standards," Tonks repeated dully. "What—No, you know what? You're off necking with the princess of darkness every other night, so I won't be taking relationship advice from you!"

"You sound like Hermione," Harry said, pouting in what she supposed was meant to be a very masculine manner. "Hermione," he said again. "Oh, oh, I have it. There's something happening!"

"Should—should I be alarmed?" Tonks scooted her stool away, clutching her beer to her chest. "Don't throw up on me, you sad, pathetic light weight."

"That's the, the same thing, both of. Wait," Harry frowned. "Oh, okay, right. I have it. I have it."

"I don't know you anymore," Tonks snorted, going for another gulp and pouring half the bottle down her shirt. "Shit, fuck, that's cold."

"It's charmed," Harry said, startlingly coherent. "But no, I really have this."

"Have what?"

"Wait for it," he said excitedly, banging his empty bottle on the table. "Right, okay, listen to this." He leaned in, and she followed warily, their heads nearly touching. "A blind date."

"…You are out of your fucking mind, Potter, if you think I'm going to let you set me up with a woman."

"I have excellent taste," Harry said defensively.

"Pansy Parkinson was all for killing you a few years back, if I remember. Or are her tits so great that you don't?"

"Yes," he said, and Tonks ordered herself another beer.

*


Several days later, Tonks was about ninety-eight percent certain that Harry didn't remember his 'brilliant idea'. With any luck, she told herself, he'd never have that particular idea ever again.

"Good morning, Tonks!"

"Wotcher, Hermione," she waved back as the other woman pushed her way onto the crammed Ministry elevator. Shoving the disgruntled little wizard behind her against the wall, she pulled Hermione over. "Running a bit late, I see."

"I won't be hearing that from you," Hermione laughed. "Harry told me the other day you almost got a write up! For… What was it? Being two hours late to an investigation?" Her mock-stern look, a perfect replica of the stuffy head Auror, sent Tonks into fits.

"Ugh, you have no idea! It was a damn Floo error, right? But I got the sort of telling-off that I expected from Snape when I messed up a potion. The trainees were even laughing," she complained, and Hermione patted her arm sympathetically.

"Perhaps," she said as the doors opened to her floor and she pushed her way out, "you should try to schedule your Floo emergencies better?"

"Hey! It was real, damn it!" But Hermione just laughed and waved her off, disappearing into the crowd of witches and wizards hurrying to their departments. Tonks chuckled to herself as the small crowd squeezed back inward and the elevator jolted to life.

"She's not bad looking, right?"

"Right," Tonks grinned. "Hey. Hey wait a second—"

"'Lo Tonks," Harry said cheekily, pushing against another wizard to stand next to her.

"How in the hell do you do that?" She demanded. "You always do that!"

"I'm everywhere," he said, waggling his fingers. "Everywhere."

"I knew they should have excluded you from stealth training," she grumbled. "What's taking everything so long? Normally we're to the department by now!"

"Some mix up," Harry shrugged. "I've been on almost every floor but ours this morning. Something about, what was it, malfunctioning… things." He shrugged again, and she elbowed him hard in the ribs. "Hey!"

"You're a bastard," she informed him, and the little shit just kept right on grinning.

*


Harry shadowed her the entire day, popping up at every odd moment to drop lewd comments and waggle his brows at her.

"For the last time, Potter," Tonks growled, "I will never let you set me up on a blind date. Ever."

"Oh, please," he said, grabbing her hands. "It'll be worth it! Trust me!"

"No."

"I'll do anything," Harry said earnestly.

"Why in the hell do you want this so badly?" Tonks eyed him suspiciously. "You'd think it was your love life!"

"Or lack of," Harry muttered. "But really! I know the perfect girl for you. Completely perfect."

"Just how perfect are we talking here?"

"Beyond mortal understanding," Harry said very seriously.

"Oh, hell, this is terrifying, you know." Tonks sighed, sagging in her office chair. "I'm really very frightened right now. I don't think I've ever seen you this excited, expect for that time in Paris when—"

"You promised never to discuss that again," Harry hissed, looking around wildly. Tonks rolled her eyes. "And besides, maybe I just don't want to see two very good friends of mine alone for the rest of their lives, you know? Mrs. Figg is the only old cat lady I ever need to know."

"I'm not sure if you've just insulted me or said something very endearing," Tonks began, "but I'm beginning to wonder if it's even worth the trouble to resist anymore."

"It's not," Harry said. "It's definitely not." He'd dropped to his knees, hands still holding tightly to hers. "I will absolutely do anything if you agree to this," he said, and Tonks was so transfixed at the bizarre sight that she never heard the door open. "I would massage your feet!"

"This is odd." They both jolted, Tonks spilling out of her chair until they were both flailing on the ground, trying to right themselves. Kingsley stood imposingly in the doorway, one thin brow arched up into near-nonexistence. "I hope I didn't interrupt," he said flatly.

"No, I think we're good," Tonks squeaked, shoving Harry's knee out of her face. "Really, we're excellent here."

"Apparently." Kingsley did not look amused. "But you'd be more excellent if you'd report down to the conference room for that meeting," he said, "the one on that tiny matter of international security, if you can find it in yourselves to remember." Tonks and Harry looked at each other sheepishly, pulling themselves off the floor.

"Sorry, Sir," Harry said. "Won't happen again."

"I'm sure," Kingsley said. "Ten minutes," he tapped his watch. "Be there or face the wrath of Kingsley."

As he swept out of the room, striking an impressive figure down the corridor, Harry grinned, elbowing her in the side. "Eh? The wrath of Kingsley?"

"Oh piss off," she grinned. "Where does he get that stuff?"

"Who knows?" Harry said. "Probably someone related to the Weasleys. Now," he continued, "about that matter of the blind date—"

"Potter—"

"Just the one!" He said. "I promise. If it goes to hell, I'll never ask again. And you can hit me," he added, and Tonks found herself agreeing, if only for that last bit.

*


Despite Harry's reassurances of her date being perfect for her, and no, Tonks, you don't need to dress up or mind your manners, honestly, she's used to it, Tonks felt more than a little apprehensive about the whole thing, going so far as to promise herself she would resist the urge to make animal faces, no matter how good of a laugh she usually got out of it.

The restaurant had been selected, Harry had told her, by Pansy. Normally the idea of Pansy choosing anything would worry her, but even she had to admit that the girl had style. It was elegant, but not so upscale that she'd need to dress like she was going to a Ministry evening event. Muggle clothes had become popular following the war, so Tonks figured she couldn't go wrong on that front.

She'd arrived half an hour early, just enough time to work herself into a state of agitation, ordering a basket of rolls and a beer on tap, only to remember after the waiter had brought it all out that she'd also told herself not to order a beer.

"Be classy, Tonks," she muttered to herself, folding and refolding her napkin. "Beer doesn't impress women, Tonks." She snorted self-deprecatingly, taking another swig only to spit it all down her front when she noticed just who had walked in the door.

Hermione Granger caught Tonks' surprised look, her eyes wide for a moment before she strode determinedly toward the table, her navy skirt fluttering around her knees.

"Hermione!" Tonks covertly wiped the beer from her chin, clearing her throat loudly and standing. "I—well. I guess I wasn't expecting you," she said nervously, pulling out a chair. Hermione looked uncomfortable for a moment before shrugging, her cheeks tinted pink.

"This is a surprise," she admitted. "Harry—"

"—had an epiphany in a bar, yes, I'm aware."

"He told me it was Pansy's idea!" Hermione rolled her eyes, flagging down a waiter. "How like him to—yes, white wine, please—foist the blame off on her! Poor Pansy." Her lips thinned in irritation, and Tonks suddenly remembered a different girl, younger, who would never have wasted sympathy on Pansy Parkinson.

"He probably didn't think you'd go along with it otherwise," she laughed. "I don't know why I did, mind you, but we're here, right?"

"I guess you're not so bad," Hermione said, teasing. Her smile was endearing, but Tonks had been part of the game long enough to see through awkward attempts at flirting. Hermione couldn't have been out long; it was practically Tonks' civic duty to hold her hand through the hardest parts.

Also, she reasoned, it didn't hurt that Hermione was sort of exactly her type.

"I should hope I'm not!" She snorted, tearing off a piece of a roll. "Just a bit old, if anything."

"You're not old, Tonks! You're barely 35. If that's old, then Molly Weasley will hang herself."

It was oddly comfortable, sitting there with Hermione. They had a work relationship, of course, but they'd never been out anywhere together, as friends or otherwise. The closest she could think of was the last gathering at the Burrow.

"How's Ron?" She asked before she could help herself, and the stunned look on Hermione's face made her wince. Tact, as her mother had always said, was not her strong point. "Oh, hell, I'm sor—"

"No, it's all right," Hermione drained her glass and waved over for another. "It's just odd, hearing that now. Everyone expected us to get married."

"Was it—" Tonks paused, scrambling for the best way to ask. "How bad was it?"

"The split?" Hermione smiled thinly. "It wasn't… terrible, not exactly. I think Ron knew there was a problem before I did," she admitted. "He sometimes asked things, like if I was happy. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but looking back, it seems rather obvious."

"Hindsight is 20/20," Tonks muttered, taking a swig. "So it was pretty easy, then?"

"Not easy," Hermione said. "Anything but that. It's just that he was ready for it. We didn't speak for about a week, but then he showed up at my flat with a—a porno—" She stumbled over the words, and Tonks grinned, "and said that he bet we had the same taste in women. It was—" She trailed off with a groan.

"Oh, Merlin, I wish I could have seen that!" Tonks wheezed, "Ron—bringing, oh but I do love that man!"

"He's a bit thick, but he's always there for his friends," Hermione said fondly. "I'll even probably forgive him for asking Lavender out again."

"Lavender?" Tonks asked. "Isn't she—"

"The girl he snogged in every room at Hogwarts? Oh yes," she said. "The day after we made up, he asked her right out."

"Bizarre," Tonks shook her head. "Are they still together?"

"No, I'm pretty sure it was more of a fling. He told me just yesterday that he remembered why he'd broken up with her in the first place."

"Did he help Harry with this, you think?" Tonks asked, motioning between them. "It just doesn't seem quite like his game, matchmaking."

"Ron would never," Hermione said firmly. "He's awful with things like this. If anything, I think Harry probably had to ask his permission first!"

It was, without a doubt, the best date Tonks had been on in years. They clicked, and she was very nearly willing to thank Harry for setting the whole thing up. Almost willing.

As Tonks went to pay the tab, she'd found that Harry had gone as far as paying their bill for them. "I can't believe him," Tonks grumbled, shoving her galleons back into her pocket.

"He's never been stingy with anything," Hermione laughed, nearly falling sideways as she went to stand. "Oops!" She giggled, clutching Tonks' arm to steady herself.

"I think you might've had a bit much to drink."

"I'm fine," Hermione insisted as they walked out into the chill night air. She stumbled again, and Tonks wrapped an arm around her waist.

"Sure you are," Tonks grinned, and the other woman swatted her, trying her damndest to look stern. "Definitely completely sober!"

"Hmph!"

Hermione's flat wasn't far from the restaurant, so Tonks decided walking probably was the best option, having had more than enough experience with drunks and Apparation to know it wasn't a good idea. The stairs, however, were a bit difficult. Hermione slid off to the side, nearly dragging them both backwards down the steps more than a few times.

"Why do you have to live on the fifth floor?" Tonks whined, pulling Hermione close as the woman stumbled again. "It's just so far."

"It's not," she insisted stubbornly. "It's exercise, is what it is. You're an Auror," she added.

"I am," Tonks replied, letting Hermione lean against the wall as they reached her door. "Keys?"

"Right here." Hermione steadied herself, unlocking the door and dropping the keys onto a table just inside. "Do you…" she trailed off, chuckling nervously."Would you like to come in?"

All sorts of alarms went off in her mind, but Tonks found herself answering, "Sure," rather quickly. "You can show me around," she tacked on lamely, and Hermione laughed again, sounding surer.

"I can," she smiled, closing the door behind them. Everything felt heavier, the air hotter, and Tonks grinned at the deep flush crawling across the other woman's face.

"And what's this room, then?"

"The, ah, the kitchen," Hermione said vaguely, waving an arm to her right as she backed into a completely separate room.

"It's very nice," Tonks said agreeably, the space between them rapidly disappearing. "And this room?"

"The sitting room," Hermione said, inhaling sharply as her legs hit the edge of the couch.

"It's very—"

"Very nice," Hermione finished for her, and somehow, against Tonks' better reasoning, she allowed Hermione to drag her down until they were both sprawled, half-sitting and half-lying, across the couch.

"Definitely," Tonks said, voice cracking. Hermione's arms twisted around her neck, pulling her down until they were breathing each other's breath, mouths just barely separated. Tonks' eyes drifted from Hermione's down to her lips, and when a small sliver of tongue darted out and then back, she followed, her lips pressing down. Hermione sighed happily, her mouth opening just so, and Tonks' rational mind, still screaming ‘bad idea! Bad idea!, went straight to hell, shoved aside by her strained libido.

Her hands dropped down, just skimming the bottom of the other woman's top, hands slipping under to the soft, smooth skin beneath. "Merlin," she said against Hermione's lips. Everything felt so right, every sigh, every small noise, every slight movement—nothing could feel better, of that Tonks was certain.

But then reality came crashing back down as Hermione pulled away, her eyes glazed with lust and alcohol, and said, "Do you want to stay the night?" Hermione's voice came out clear, despite the five glasses of wine. Tonks couldn't answer, and they both sat there, neither willing to make a move. The static was painful, and Tonks caught herself just wanting to say yes, to say fuck-all, and follow Hermione to her bed and show her just what she'd been missing all that time she'd spent in denial.

But Tonks couldn't—wouldn't—do that to Hermione because, as clear as she sounded, the girl was wasted and insecure as hell, and Tonks didn't want to add that she'd taken advantage of someone so vulnerable to the list of things she regretted.

"I don't think that's a good idea," she said softly, pulling Hermione's arms gently off her shoulders. The younger woman tried to follow, but she wobbled unsteadily, her movements sluggish.

"Why not?" Hermione's voice trembled. "I thought—"

"It's not a good time right now," Tonks cut her off. Fuck, the girl was drunk! Why did it have to be so hard to say no?

"Not a good—not a good time," Hermione repeated, something flaring and fading in her eyes. "Right, well."

"I guess I'll be going," Tonks said reluctantly, wondering if it would be considered below par to at least kiss her again. But Hermione seemed to have other plans, not saying a single word as she stood up and walked from the room.

Something, Tonks thought, just went very wrong.

*


As bad as the night had ended, it wasn't until a few days later, on one of her rare days off, that Tonks found out just how badly it had gone.

"What the hell did you do?" Harry asked as he closed the door to her flat. "I mean, I thought you two would be perfect, but she's been a mess since you went out with her!"

"I don't know," Tonks said flatly, pouring him a cup of tea and kicking out a chair. "Everything was fine, then all of a sudden she was just—I have absolutely no idea what I did," she finished miserably.

"Oh," Harry said, patting her shoulder as he took the seat. "It's weird, because she hasn't told me what you did either, just cried, and, well, you know. It was odd, is all."

"Maybe I offended her," Tonks said. "Maybe I—oh, hell, I don't know."

"Tell me exactly what happened," he said. "I know Hermione better than anyone."

"Well," Tonks began, "everything was perfect. It was—now don't let this go to your head—it was the best date I've ever been on." She eyed the smug grin on Harry's face before continuing. "We clicked, you know? She's a bit young, sure, but you wouldn't know it. She seems like she's so much older."

"She always has," he nodded.

"She's not very secure though, I think. How did Ron handle things, exactly? She told me a little, but I'm sure something was left out."

"Badly," Harry said bluntly. "How would you feel if you were a guy, and the girl you planned on marrying suddenly tells you she thinks she's gay after, what, five years? He didn't understand."

"Ouch." Tonks winced. "How did it even happen?"

"I think it was the war, mostly," Harry shrugged. "It's always been the three of us, ever since the beginning, and Hermione knew she didn't want me, and everyone always thought they'd end up together. Deep down, no matter what she says, Hermione just wants to be liked."

"So, what? She was with him for that long just because people expected her to be?"

"Nah, nothing like that. She loved Ron, still does, it just took her a while to realize how she loved him. In the Muggle world, I don't think being gay is something that's ever really talked about. Hermione's parents certainly didn't."

"Ah," Tonks said. "And how did they take it?"

"They didn't," Harry shrugged. "She hasn't told them."

"Why not?"

"She told me they were better off not knowing. They're, what did she call it, extreme right-winged…Oh, I don't even know. They don't take well to that sort of thing, is all. Their world is so separate from Hermione's anyway that there's no real risk in her not telling them."

It was sad, not even having her own parents on her side. Tonks felt a pang of pity for the young woman, knowing that, while her pureblooded mother hadn't been thrilled with her daughter being a lesbian, she certainly hadn't excommunicated her or anything.

"I see," she said slowly.

"So what then?" Harry asked. "Everything was excellent, then what?"

"She drank a lot," Tonks admitted. "She doesn't drink often, does she?"

"God, no. Hermione gets giggly after a single glass, normally. How much?"

"Five glasses of wine," Tonks said, and Harry whistled.

"Damn. I didn't think she'd be that nervous."

"I wish I'd known. She shouldn't have been, anyway. Maybe she thought I didn't want her to be the one."

"No, she trusts my judgment," Harry said. "Usually. Go on, what then?"

"Then I walked her home and she invited me in," Tonks said reluctantly. "I shouldn't have even gone inside with how drunk she was, but—I couldn't say no," she admitted. "It's been so long since I've been with anyone, and my hand cramps something awful nowadays. We were, ah, having a good time," she coughed, "but then she asked me to stay the night." Harry remained silent, and Tonks got the feeling that she had a very limited amount of time to explain herself fully before Harry took action. "Nothing happen!" She said defensively. "My mind came back to me, and I realized just how drunk she was, if she was trying to put out on the first date. I know she's not like that—"

"She's definitely not," Harry interjected.

"—but she got upset when I told her it wasn't a good idea. Got up and just walked out of the room," she finished, feeling worse. "I wish—"

"Oh, hell, you have to be kidding me," Harry groaned. "And you have no idea what you did?"

"Well, no," she said. "That's why I'm telling you."

"You didn't exactly offend her, I don't think. It's more that," he paused, looking frustrated. "I think it's that you didn't want her."

"But I did!" Tonks cried. "I had to force myself to not just throw her down—"

"Like a sister, Tonks, try to remember that."

"Er, right," she said. "But really, it wasn't that."

"Then you have a problem," Harry said. "Why haven't you tried talking to her?"

"I didn't think she'd want me to," Tonks said. "I couldn't figure out what I'd done, and fuck, it makes perfect sense now! How am I so thick?" How had she not seen it? That look on Hermione's face after she'd said it's not a good time… She probably thought Tonks meant she wasn't desirable at all.

"You're the first girl she's ever gone out with," Harry said, and Tonks' heart dropped into her stomach. "No wonder she's taking it so badly."

"Hm."

"What are you going to do?"

"What do you mean?" She asked. "What the hell can I do?"

"Do you want her?" Harry clarified. "Because she won't be single forever."

"Unless I've doomed her to thinking she's worthless," Tonks mumbled.

"No, Hermione's stronger that. She's just… Well, she's vulnerable. All this is new to her, and how the hell should she know what you meant?"

"I don't even know if I should do anything," she said. "Maybe Hermione would be better off with someone else. It was only one date. One awful date."

"I thought you said it went well?" Harry said innocently. "I mean, didn't you two just click?"

Despite her annoyance at him throwing her words right back in her face, Tonks knew Harry was right. She wasn't getting any younger, and for an Auror, thirty-five was old. She could die at any time, during any assignment, and what then?

"But what do I do? I haven't—this is why I don't date," she said grumpily. "This is why I spend my weekends in bars with you."

"True," he laughed, "but maybe now you can think of something better to do?"

And maybe, Tonks thought, maybe she really could.

*


"What do you mean she's going out with some Unspeakable?" Tonks gaped. Harry shut her office door behind him and nodded, lips thinned.

"She just told me," he said. "This morning, actually. They're going out to some club."

"A dance club," Tonks said flatly. "Oh, wonderful. Flashing lights and an overabundance of perfume and sweat. Excellent idea, really."

"Well, she said yes, so apparently it is," Harry mused. "Maybe we should go."

"What."

"You heard me," Harry said. "We should go. It's not until Friday, so we have four days to think this over. We'll get Pansy to come."

"We are not barging in on her date, Potter," Tonks warned. "Maybe she'd be happier with this Unspeakable of hers."

"She wouldn't be," Harry said. "Padma's an all right sort, but why would Hermione want to be with someone exactly like she is? I can't see her spending much time with someone if all they have in common is a mutual enjoyment in knowing everything."

"I can only imagine the arguments they'd have."

"Exactly," Harry said. "So you see, we must crash their date. For love," he added quickly at Tonks' disbelieving look.

"For love," Tonks said. "Right, sure, do you think they'll make me take the tab?"

*


Tuesday


"No Potter, we are not wearing coordinated leather jump suits."

*


Wednesday

"Beer is essential to any plan," Harry assured her. "Just because no one else has realized this does not mean it's a lie. I know it's not."

"I feel like I'm wasting time," Tonks said. "Shouldn't I be wooing her?"

"You sad, sad woman. No, you shouldn't. She's still mad, anyway. She'd probably hit you."

"I should write her then," Tonks insisted. "I feel awful about the whole thing, and I just don't see how busting up her date is going to help."

"She's a Gryffindor," Harry said simply. "Gryffindors understand this sort of thing."

"Potter, in case you weren't aware, I was a Hufflepuff."

"I am aware," he said, "which is exactly why I'm doing this. This is Gryffindor wooing."

"Oh, fuck, I'm doomed."

*


Thursday

"So I figured we'd swing in an hour after, and you can sweep her off her feet," Harry said, dropping take-out on her desk. "It'll be magnificent."

"Sometimes you're a bit too much like Sirius."

*


Friday Evening

The Floo flared brightly in the sitting room, signaling her guests' arrival. Tonks pursed her lips at her reflection, her hair rapidly going from aqua to pink to red, each as unsatisfying as the previous.

"Might I suggest black?"

"Bugger off, Parkinson," Tonks said, her hair settling to a neutral brown. "I look odd with Black hair."

"You look odd in general," Pansy said snidely, her eyes narrowing in concentration. "What is that outfit meant to be? Have you already given up?"

"What's wrong with my outfit?" Tonks demanded. "It's perfectly—"

"Perfectly atrocious, I believe you mean. Good God, woman, we're going to a club, not a pub! You absolutely cannot be seen in jeans and a button-up in a dance club. Honestly," Pansy shook her head incredulously. "You'd think you were sixty with the way you carry on sometimes!"

"Oh, fuck off," Tonks muttered, her face burning a rather unattractive red. Sure, it'd been a good while since she'd gone out before Hermione, but had it really been that long? Yes, a snide voice that sounded entirely too Snapely spoke from the back of her mind, eight years without is rather a long time, you pathetic old sod. "I'm doomed. Absolutely doomed."

"Kind of, yeah," Harry said, walking in with a bag in hand. "Where'd you want this, Pansy?"

"Hand it to her," Pansy waved it off at Tonks. "I was right, you know, she's rather pathetic. Now be a dear and put that on, won't you? We'll be right outside." Tonks stared blankly as they left the room, Harry giving her a last cheeky grin before disappearing completely.

"Fuck," she said, then looked in the bag. "Fuck." That was definitely not the sort of muggle clothing she was used to wearing.

After a brief moment of panic, Tonks kicked off the tired clothing she'd first dressed in and pulled on the pants, an odd sort of black denims that she swore would cut off the circulation in her ankles fully before the night was over. They didn't go very high up, either, settling low on her waist and letting the Weird Sisters tattoo she'd gotten just out of Hogwarts poke out from her hip. Completely bemused, she pulled on the shirt, a black knit with random blots of bright colors all over, and shoved her feet into her usual boots.

"I look like a hooker," she said faintly, shaking her head and letting her hair flicker to purple.

"Well," Harry said when she walked out, "you do look quite like you did when we first met."

"Oh," Pansy said gleefully. "How wonderful. Shall we, then?" The Parkinson girl looked entirely too happy about the situation, Tonks couldn't help but think as they all stepped into the Floo, heading off for the night.

Truth be told, Pansy looked even happier when they arrived at the club and spotted Hermione looking uncomfortable at a bar-side table with her date. Padma, Harry had called her. She was very good-looking, what with all that flowing dark hair and caramel skin. Tonks flipped her hair to a toxic looking green, just in case. It never hurt to stand out.

"Granger!" Pansy slid past Tonks, shoving a glass of something into her hands as she went. "Oh, what an absolute coincidence this is, all of us being here at the exact same time!" She was laying it on thick, and Tonks found herself hoping that this wasn't part of Harry's grand plan.

But then, looking over at the shit eating grin on the man's face, it clearly was. Well, shit.

"Well, since we're all here, let's just sit together, shall we?" Harry grabbed a few chairs from a nearby table and levitated them over, pushing Tonks into one next to Hermione, who didn't look angry, exactly, but definitely wasn't pleased.

"Yes," she said, "what an excellent coincidence this is." Tonks laughed nervously and tossed back the drink, the burn running down her throat. Hermione offered her a small smile.

"It's good to see you," Hermione said, then added quickly, "all of you. This is, well, this is Padma Patil, I'm sure you remember, Harry? She was in—"

"Ravenclaw, yes," Pansy cut in, obviously bored with the introductions. "Wonderful. Tonks, you were a Hufflepuff, weren't you?" Tonks nodded quickly, gritting her teeth. "Yes, and she's also an Auror, Padma. And," she sniffed, "what might you do with yourself all day long?"

"I'm an Unspeakable," Padma said, looking nonplussed. "We work together, Pansy. Every day."

"Oh, so we do," Pansy smiled saccharinely, and Harry nodded along with her every word, drinking his drink and looking generally pleased with the world.

"Must be fun," Tonks said after a few moments of silence. "I've always wondered what you lot do down there."

"They can't tell us," Harry added in, already downing his third, "because it's unspeakable!" He let out a cackle, and Tonks quickly motioned the waiter over for another drink.

"Oh, you're already making stupid puns, are you?" Pansy snorted. "Light weight, you are. Just as pathetic as Draco."

"I could beat him at anything! I'm Harry Potter."

"Yes, Harry, we know," Hermione said patiently, looking torn between being apologetic and laughing uproariously. "Perhaps you should just have another drink."

"I think I will!"

"Me too," Tonks said quickly, but Pansy shoved her glass away and gestured discretely at Hermione.

"You know, Patil, it's too bad my man is too soused to dance—"

"I am never too drunk to dance!"

"—because I'd really like to," she finished, glaring threateningly at Harry. "You wouldn't want to leave me all on my lonesome, would you, Padma?"

"No?" Padma said unsurely.

"That's good, because, as you said, we do work together." And before Padma could protest, she'd dragged her off, leaving Hermione and Tonks sitting in awkward silence with Harry's drunken giggling.

"Is he going to stop anytime soon?" Hermione asked. Tonks grinned at the weak attempt at conversation and shook her head.

"He can go on like this for hours, really. We're in for a long wait. Hey, Potter?"

"Hey, Tonks," Harry replied.

"Piss off."

"Will do," he said gravely, stumbling away.

"Look," Tonks said once he was gone, "I just thought, you know, that I should say—"

"I'm sorry!" Hermione blurted.

"—yes, that's exact—wait, what?" Tonks gaped at her. "That's what I was saying!"

"I know," Hermione said, "but you didn't need to. I thought about what happened, and, well, I was being very stupid."

"But—"

"Tonks," Hermione said patiently, "I understand what happened. It's really all right."

"Then—then what was all this for?" Tonks whined. "I mean, if you knew, then why didn't you write me, or, hell, I don't know!"

"I meant to, really I did," she said apologetically, "but I felt like such an idiot about it. I was just working up the nerve to write you when Harry came to me and told me he'd help me fix it."

"Harry," Tonks said faintly. "He told you not to write me?"

"Yes, along with something about Hufflepuff wooing, or some such nonsense. I was mostly ignoring him."

"So, let me get this straight here," Tonks pinched the bridge of her nose, breathing deeply. "Harry came to you and told you I was upset?"

"Yes—"

"—but told you not to write me, because that wouldn't help?"

"Um, well, yes—"

"And then what?"

"He said he and Pansy would invite you here," Hermione admitted.

"What about Padma?"

"She's—Padma's lovely, really she is, but she's a bit boring. Why would I want to date someone with the exact same interests as me?"

"I cannot believe this," Tonks shook her head. "There is just no way."

"No way for what?" Hermione frowned. "I said—"

"Harry told me the exact same story," Tonks said finally, her eyes drifting over to the drunken man at the bar. "I was coming here tonight to woo you, or something. I cannot believe him."

"Oh, hell," Hermione groaned. "We let him trick us? This cannot be happening."

"I'm having a sudden sense of déjà vu," Tonks said, laughing. "And since I think Pansy's abducted your date, what do you say we start this again?"

"Well," Hermione said mischievously, her hand sliding under the table and resting on Tonks' thigh, "I guess you're not so bad."

Tonks grinned, relaxing into the touch. "I should definitely hope not!"