Yes, but...: Six
Would everyone please take a moment to make sure she is seated securely and not likely to fall off of the furniture? Those of you with especially Tonks-like coordination might consider wearing helmets and fastening safety belts. I will not lose my reviewers to accidents!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person going to bed completely sloshed out of her mind must invariably wake up to an obscenely bright morning - even in London. After blinking groggily and muttering an incoherent stream of curses, Tonks rolled over and pulled the duvet cover over her head. Bugger, my head hurts.
Half a heartbeat later, she tumbled completely out of bed and narrowly avoided a collision with her wardrobe.
She threw on her oversized dressing gown and then suddenly halted at the door, rocking back on her heels as disjointed fragments of the past day’s events started to piece themselves together into a very ugly picture of her likely future. “Bloody hell.”
A sinking feeling pooling in her stomach, Tonks cracked open the door and peered out. She couldn’t see anyone; however, the sound of great, tearing snores told her that not only was the Potions master still in residence, but also that he probably had some untreated sinus problems. Tonks hastily shut the door. She really wasn’t ready to wake him yet - not with her head feeling like it was housing a flock of angry hippogriffs.
And so the Auror did something completely uncharacteristic: she sat down on the edge of her bed and bit her lip. After a few moments spent staring at the door in abject dread, she decided that she’d really better try putting her head between her knees. Breathing, she considered, might also be a good plan.
I need tea. Tonks snorted at the intruding thought, and her immediate reaction to it. Even the mention of her addiction had a half-smile of longing tugging at the corner of her mouth, and despite the bleak situation, a warm, fuzzy feeling was starting to do battle with her angst.
D’you want to go whinging to Dumbledore that Snape’s too much for you to handle? she asked herself. D’you want to admit that to the bugger on the sofa himself? Really, it’s not that bad. Could be worse. Tonks scratched the side of her nose thoughtfully. Might even be fun, in a twisted sort of way. Like a sleepover with the git of the month. Think of it as advanced training. And - if it comes down to it - there probably is enough tea in China.
Easing the door open once again, the Auror sighed in relief when Snape didn’t so much as twitch. She couldn’t resist smiling to herself at the sight of him; he looked so adorably helpless lying there that it was all she could do not to grab a bowl of warm water and some shaving cream.
The sound of chimes brought her out of her musings, and her wand was out before she registered that it was the doorbell. The sound reverberated painfully in her skull as she walked to the door. She did not put her wand away. A quick glance at the clock told her it was not quite seven in the morning - too early for normal callers, not that she or Moody generally got any callers, normal or otherwise. The chances of one of Moody’s former nemeses paying a visit at this hour was also rather low, so Tonks was betting it was either Dumbledore wondering where he’d mislaid his Potions master, or….
“Percy. It’s quarter to seven in the…,” Tonks struggled to spit out one of the host of curses that were offering their services and settled with snarling out: “morning!” It took her a moment to realize that the prat was rather lower than usual. “What are you doing down there?” Further inspection revealed that Percy also seemed unusually flushed and uncomfortable-looking. “Did you bang up your knee?”
Percy cleared his throat. “Er… no. I realize that this is an unconventional…. What I mean is that… Dearest Nymphadora.”
Tonks prodded him with the toe of one foot. “Spit it out, man.”
“Please-do-me-the-honor-of-making-me-the-happiest-wizard-ever-and-marry-me, Nymphadora,” Percy somehow managed to blurt out in one breath.
Tonks found herself having to gulp down her rising bile, although whether it was due to the proposal or her hangover catching up with her, she couldn’t quite tell. As she stood there, squinting into the early morning sunlight, her recently abused mind refused to come up with a response.
Percy cleared his throat again, this time expectantly.
Tonks bit the inside of her cheek to hide the smile quirking at corners of her mouth and blinked innocently. “Bugger. Wish you’d told me about this sooner… y’see only yesterday I agreed to marry Professor Snape.”
Percy looked like he had been hit with a slug-vomiting curse. “Snape?”
“Oh yes!” It was much too early in the morning for Tonks to resist rubbing it in a little. “D’you know I fancied him when I was at Hogwarts? I used to sit there in Potions classes just perving over him instead of following the lesson. Guess I’ve always been attracted to the tall, dark and broody type. And just between you and me, he’s hung like a mountain troll…”
She noted with pleasure that Percy still seemed to be reeling in shock. Merlin, no wonder Snape likes this so much - it’s almost better than hexing. “But… but you’re not wearing a ring….”
Trust Percy to latch onto that inane detail. Tonks was about to pull some excuse out of her arse when she saw Percy’s eyes bulge out further.
“I have yet to pry it from my mother’s cold, dead hand, Weasley.” Tonks looked over her shoulder to witness one of the most hideously disturbing sights in her life: Snape with bedroom hair, smiling at her. It was not a nice smile - she doubted there was such a thing in his repertoire - but it oozed a sort of self-satisfied possessiveness that could pass for lust amongst slimy git circles. Tonks’ stomach redoubled its tumbling exercises.
Snape fitted himself behind her and wrapped an arm around her waist. Tonks suddenly had the sensation of every inch of her flesh crawling. “Now if you don’t mind, I would like to shag my fiancée senseless before work. Good day, Weasley.”
Percy’s face had blanched from red to white, and it was starting to take on a sickly greenish hue. “C-congratulations,” he managed to stutter out before he turned and fled.
The instant the door closed, Tonks and Snape sprang apart like repelled magnets. Snape’s face had slid back into a sneer by the time Tonks turned to confront him.
Tonks closed her eyes. “Don’t know about you, but I’m too hung over to do the insulting thing now. How about we assume you’ve made a nasty comment or two about my acting abilities and move on to the part where I get tea?”
Snape nodded shortly. “Where’s your - ”
“Through there.” Tonks pointed to the doorway on her left.
Just as the bathroom door clicked shut, the door to Moody’s bedroom creaked open and the old Auror poked his head out. “Do you need me to throw Snape out on his ear?”
Tonks smiled wryly. “Nah. Want me to throw him out?”
Moody shook his head. “No need. I’m off to Bath. Young Malfoy went to that Death Eater stronghold we’ve been trying to find. Didn’t know where he Apparated to, though. Said it was somewhere around this part of the country and below the ground. Some old Muggle place.”
“Bath?” Tonks asked.
“Arthur said the Muggles built the whole city a floor above ground level, and something about the kind of mystical mumbo-jumbo that would attract You-Know-Who.”
“That’s a little vague.”
Moody shrugged. “I stopped listening.”
Tonks grinned at him, then winced at the not-quite-muffled sound of Snape being sick. “Have fun.”
Moody spared a glance at the bathroom door. “I suppose there’s no use wishing you the same.”
“Not really,” Tonks said, although the smile didn’t leave her face until after Moody left.
Rubbing a sore spot on the side of her neck, Tonks turned back to the kitchen and put the kettle on the hob. She figured toast might be an option if the tea managed to settle their stomachs enough, so she popped two slices in the toaster as well. She was just breaking off a chunk of her best pu-erh special blend into its teapot when she heard the bathroom door open.
“Better?” she called.
“Hardly,” Snape grumbled. “What is that?”
“Are you certain?”
Tonks turned and scowled at him. “Yes. Sit over there and shut up.”
“If you manage to poison me, you will still have to find yourself another husband.”
Tonks poured off the first infusion and refilled the dark purple clay pot with boiling water. “I’d already thought of that.”
Snape’s eyes narrowed and his nose scrunched up slightly as he regarded the cup of dark tea she’d poured him. “It smells like musty books.”
Tonks took a deep sip of hers. “I always thought it smelled like the woods after a rain. Kinda nice. Drink it before I hex you.”
They drank in silence for a while, and Tonks felt her irritation slowly abating as her stomach settled. She looked over and noticed that Snape had slightly more color in his face as well, although for Snape, “slightly more color” meant that his skin was now the color of freshly powdered parchment.
He raised an eyebrow at her. “Won’t you be late for work?”
“I start at nine. Tea worked, didn’t it?”
“You should give notice today.”
“You’re telling me things I already know again.”
Snape set his teacup down and pushed it forward with his fingertips before opening his mouth to say something.
He was interrupted by a tapping at the door.
“It’s Paddington bloody Station in here today,” Tonks muttered as she went to open the door. Two startled owls stared at her after she wrenched the door open. After taking one look at her, they dropped her mail at her feet and flew away.
She was not surprised to see that the Daily Prophet’s headline was: “Ministry Announces Marriage Programme,” but the letterhead on the letter in her left hand was enough to make her stomach queasy again. Ignoring Snape’s presence, she dropped the paper and ripped open the letter.
To the future Mr. and Mrs. Snape:
We at the Ministry are delighted to hear of your impending nuptials. You have no doubt read in your copy of the Daily Prophet the Ministry’s announcement of our own exciting news. You should be aware that the Marriage Act is effective as of six-thirty AM this morning and therefore your union would fall under it. Indeed, you are the first couple listed in our registry - congratulations! We should like to discuss the effect of the new regulations with you later this week. Please make an appointment through my secretary Ernestine Hibbins in the new Matrimonial Planning Office (level three of Ministry of Magic Headquarters) at your earliest convenience.
Thank you and congratulations again!
Head of Matrimonial Planning
Tonks barely restrained herself from tearing the parchment to shreds, and instead strode angrily into the kitchen. “I want an enormous wedding, Snape… I want to have a dozen photographers and reporters covering it, and I want to invite half the Ministry.”
Snape looked like he was about to be sick again. “And every Weasley, too, I suppose.”
“I was thinking of having the twins cater,” Tonks confirmed.
Snape choked on his tea. Then, very slowly, he turned his head to regard the metamorphmagus. She was grinning at him.
“When you said before you intended to invite half the Ministry, you meant of course…”
“Every single wanker that had anything to do with this law,” Tonks confirmed with false cheerfulness. She shoved the letter and the paper at him and then gulped down another cup of tea while she waited for him to finish reading.
A vicious smile was playing at the corner of his lips when he looked up at her. “In celebration of the first marriage under this law of theirs… a gala event. Would that prove too many people for the twins to prepare for?”
“You could always offer them a hand,” Tonks suggested. “Maybe you could cover the beverages?”
“Indeed.” It was a strange thing, but the cold, calculating glimmer that she had come to associate with Snape in spy mode showed for the first time since he was revealed. Oddly enough, he seemed to be looking forward to his impending marriage - or at least the ceremony. “Set up an appointment with this Higgins woman today.”
Tonks narrowed her eyes. “I really think that’s more of a job for my overbearing pureblooded fiancée, don’t you? You know, the one who has a great deal of free time on his hands now that it’s summer break?”
“Fine,” Snape snapped. “I’ll speak with Higgins-”
“Hibbins,” Tonks corrected.
“You set up a meeting with the Weasley twins.”
“Fine,” Tonks agreed.
“When are you free to meet?”
“Lunch time or after five,” Tonks said before she remembered she was talking about meeting with Ministry people. “Just set up the Ministry appointment for whenever and I’ll hop upstairs for however long it takes. What about you – when do you want to meet the Weasleys?”
“Tomorrow evening would be best,” Snape said.
Tonks nodded and drained her tea. She watched as the tiny flecks of leaves swirled and settled on the bottom of the cup. “Wonder what Trelawney would say about these?”
“Our doom approaches…”
“Wouldn’t be so far off,” Tonks said morosely.
“…in the form of a bugbear with a psoriasis problem.”
Tonks snorted in spite of herself.
“Miss… Tonks, if it comes down to that, I have plenty of potions to - ”
Her eyes flashed up to meet his. “No. That’s not what I… no potions.” She spared him an apologetic half-smile. “I’ve got to get ready for work now.”
Snape nodded. “I’ll see myself out. But don’t dismiss the idea of potions so quickly. In certain situations you are going to have to appear to be besotted with me.” He extended a hand towards her and Tonks unconsciously shrank away. “Can you mask your revulsion at my touch? I could brew a mild draught…”
Tonks’ eyes widened. “I’ll think about it,” she promised, deliberately leaving her answer vague. She had already ruled out the use of potions, but she would have to consider his point about the revulsion. Really, it wasn’t nice of her to shrink away so obviously. How could it not hurt his feelings? It wasn’t as if she could help it; he was Snape after all. He was about as cuddly as a basilisk.
Tonks looked up again to see him at the door. “Wait,” she called. Snape turned and raised an eyebrow.
“Why do you have such a hard time calling me Tonks? You call everyone else by their last name.”
There was almost a Dumbledorish twinkle in his dark eyes. “Because you took to it with such enthusiasm.”
“You won’t call me it because I like it!?” Tonks said incredulously. She laughed outright at the lengths the man went through to be contrary. “Get out now.”
“As you wish.” Snape smirked at her one last time before shutting the door. She heard him Apparate away a moment later.
Tonks took a moment to shake her head and roll her eyes before turning and getting ready for what would surely be an interesting day at the office.
“I got engaged to Snape. How was your weekend?”
Authnote: Hey! Sorry for the delay; computer problems put me very far behind.
Last chapter's quotes were the "it's terribly comfortable" line - that's borrowed from The Princess Bride - and the bit about "feels like being attacked by a damp tissue" is from Terry Pratchett.
No translations in this chapter. A "bugbear," however is a scary imaginary creature. See the Harry Potter Lexicon for more info.
Also, many thanks to Andromeda for her Britpicking!
This story archived at: Occlumency