Yes, but... by Aestel [Reviews - 15]
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Tonks turned slowly to face Dumbledore. “You want me to marry him?”
“Have you gone out of your mind, Albus?” Moody growled in nearly the same breath.
Dumbledore smiled softly and took Snape’s chair. “Severus is rather averse to the idea of marriage.”
“D’you see me running to pick out my wedding gown?” Tonks exclaimed. How dare the old meddler suggest that Snape likes the idea any less than I do!
Dumbledore spread his hands. “It’s only a temporary measure until we can repeal the law, and pureblooded Order members are in rather short supply.”
Moody guffawed. “With the notable exception of the entire Weasley clan!”
Dumbledore shook his head. “As I explained to Severus, Bill is engaged to Miss Delacour, and Charlie is in Romania.”
“Lupin,” Moody suggested.
“Half-blood, although his status as a werewolf exempts him from being petitioned for.”
“Might find the compulsory consummation somewhat difficult.” Tonks snorted to herself, then her mind suddenly backtracked. Consummation? Fuck! As her mind finally agreed to cooperate and started to realize the full ramifications of this idiotic law, Tonks’ attention drifted away from the two old wizards.
“Aren’t there any other purebloods we can trust?” Moody asked sourly.
“Alas, there are three; however, you, Mundungus and I are all unsuitable for obvious reasons. Unless Miss Tonks has some alternatives, I fear we are left with Severus.”
Tonks stood up abruptly. “I’ve got to go drink some more. Somewhere else.” Seconds later, she was out of the room, and the next several moments after that were spent trying to figure out why she was suddenly airborne. It came as a bit of a surprise when she landed facedown on the floor with enough force to knock the wind out of herself. When she finally managed to roll over, she caught a glimpse of a rapidly retreating pair of extendible ears.
“Fred and George Weasley!” she choked out. If the presence of the extendible ears wasn’t enough of a giveaway, she caught a glimpse of matching ginger heads peeking over the rail of the staircase. She glared at the pair from her position on the floor, but there was really nothing else she could do—and the little buggers knew it.
“We understand that you are desperate to become a member of the Weasley clan,” George said in deft mimicry of Percy’s sanctimoniousness.
“But you shouldn’t have to marry Percy to do it,” Fred concluded.
“I am not marrying Percy!” Tonks tried to shout, but her voice still sounded strangled, and she ended up sending herself into a coughing fit.
“Which you should have picked up in your eavesdropping,” she heard Snape drawl from behind her. “But you are absolutely correct in one thing, Weasley: Miss Tonks would not have to marry Percy in order to join your clan. We all seem to have overlooked that you two are also of age… possibly because you don’t act it.”
George pressed his lips together and looked like he was rapidly calculating exit strategies. “Right then,” Fred finally said, “we’ll see you two lovebirds later.”
Tonks made a vague strangling gesture and then sank back onto the filthy old carpet with a faint “ugh.”
“Are you incapable of standing or is this some pathetic attempt at the melodramatic?”
Like he should talk about the melodramatic, Tonks sniffed to herself. “Oh no, it’s just terribly comfortable.” She blinked owlishly, just to annoy him further. “Probably safer, too. Bugger off, Snape.”
“I am not in the habit of taking orders from witches who are lying on the floor.”
She raised to her elbows and arched an eyebrow at him. “Fine, then you can just stand there and chat with me. Have you seen the latest copy of Witch Weekly?”
Tonks craned her neck to look up at Snape, then abruptly looked elsewhere when she realized her current position offered her a great view up his nose.
“Certainly,” he answered. “I thought the article on using the Desideratum Potion in perfume in order to ‘snare your wizard’ was particularly appalling.”
She was glad she’d turned away when she did, because she was certain about sixteen wildly conflicting emotions had just passed across her face.
“Of course, if your intended beau finds large chartreuse welts exceptionally stimulating…,” Snape continued. Tonks rolled her eyes and got to her feet.
“So I’m guessing I shouldn’t try that trick on our wedding night.”
That shut him up. Tonks couldn’t help grinning at his sudden silence. She knew that baiting the bloke right now was a potentially fatal move, but something about this situation left her with a bitter taste in her mouth and a longing for a nasty fight in a dark alley. It occurred to her that the ex-Death Eater might be happy to oblige.
Snape narrowed his eyes. “By all means, do.”
Tonks licked her lips and stared back up at him. She could see his wand hand twitching, and she felt the thrill of adrenaline in her veins.
There were few people in the wizarding world who would knowingly intervene when an Auror and a Death Eater (however ‘reformed’ the latter might be) were so obviously sizing each other up for a fight. Unfortunately for the pair, Albus Dumbledore was not only one of the few, but he was also the type that could pull it off with an appearance of blithe obliviousness. “Ah! Severus, Tonks! You’re both still here!”
“Unfortunately, Headmaster.” Snape did not tear his eyes away from Tonks. She suspected that he was wary she would hex him. The feeling was entirely mutual, she reflected, matching his stare. “Did you require something?”
“Alastor reminded me we should discuss moving Miss Tonks to Hogwarts.”
Snape was the first to break the staring match, but not by long. Tonks’ head snapped to look at the headmaster so quickly that she thought for a moment she might have given herself whiplash. “You expect me to move in with him!?”
“Given the details Severus has provided us of the… marital obligations, I believe cohabitation is rather necessary.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Albus,” Snape countered. “If Miss Tonks moves in to my chambers, my potions stores will be completely demolished within the week.”
Moody took that moment to cough, which sounded suspiciously like “three days.”
“And what about her career in the Ministry?” Snape continued smoothly. “Surely Hogsmeade to London is too far for her to Apparate daily.”
Dumbledore favored Snape with a slightly remonstrative glance, and Tonks had the sudden urge to dive behind the nearest sturdy furniture. “I had considered that also, my boy, and realized that Miss Tonks’ arrival coincides quite fortuitously with my need to fill the Defense Against the Dark Arts position yet again this year.”
Instead of going ahead with her plan to hide behind the furniture, Tonks found herself rooted to the spot, her mouth gaping open. She hastily shut it, then opened it so words could come out. None did, so she shut it again.
For his part, Snape looked as though he was struggling to find words that were not hexes. “What… in Merlin’s name… do you think qualifies her for that honor?”
Dumbledore smiled at his Potions master, and Tonks considered the furniture plan again. “She is an Auror, after all...”
Something flashed in the man’s dark eyes, and his demeanor abruptly changed. He had seemed about one provocation short of apoplexy, but then his shoulders sank in defeat. He righted them almost instantly (in what appeared to be a gesture of resignation) and then looked the headmaster straight in the eye.
“Fine,” he snarled. “We shall have to discuss this another time, however. At present I intend to locate the nearest pub and drink myself into oblivion.”
Tonks looked between Snape and the two old meddlers. Given the evening’s events, she suspected she’d be better off with the former Death Eater. Not that Mad-Eye was known to meddle, per se, but she suspected the old codger had nudged Dumbledore in order to get his flat back. And as for Dumbledore, she didn’t doubt that if she stayed any longer, he’d have her conceding to all sorts of undesirable things—like children, for instance. “Hold your arse a moment, Snape—I’m coming with you.”
“Haven’t you had enough?” The glance assessing her was not cold, and that frightened the witch more than the possibility of him hexing her.
“Not nearly,” she answered fervently.
Snape snorted and flung the door wide for her. “Come then.”
Tonks trotted down the sidewalk in an ungainly attempt to keep up with the Potions master’s long stride. This is ridiculous, she realized. She was an Auror—she bloody well did not trot like some adolescent. In a flash a confident grin she didn’t quite feel was plastered across her face and she modified her stride to a loping gait.
“So, why’d you stick around?”
“Potter insisted on having a word with me,” he practically sneered.
“What about?” she pried, rather cheerfully attempting to piss the hell out of him.
“Are you trying to irritate me?”
“Why yes,” she answered unrepentantly. “I think I am.”
“The boy wanted me to give a wand oath not to harm a spiky purple hair on your head,” Snape answered shortly. “I am already regretting it.”
Tonks chuckled slightly to herself. “If I turned it green would you consider nipping into that alley for a quick hex?”
Snape stopped short and she barely avoided colliding with him. As he looked down his nose at her, Tonks could have sworn he was seriously considering it, but then he looked away.
“I am tempted,” he admitted. “Sorely tempted. Have you considered, however, that our engagement might look somewhat suspect if we were caught hexing each other in a dark alley not a week before its announcement?”
“That’s foreplay for Aurors,” she shot back, knowing that while her retort was purely to put Snape off, it was nevertheless true in some respects. The danger and adrenaline tended to have certain stimulant effects. She doubted it was much different for Death Eaters.
Snape looked decidedly uncomfortable with that thought. That brief showing of weakness was like a jolt of pure power for Tonks, and she pounced on it. “Pecker up, Professor, you’re going to have to do a lot more than picture me starkers.”
Snape seemed to have gotten the jist of what she said, and sneered, raking his eyes down her body in what was obviously an attempt to disgust her. Interesting game of chicken we’ve got here, Tonks observed while trying not to squirm. “You are mistaken if you believe I have not pictured you… ‘starkers’ as you say. I was the unwilling recipient of Mr. Weasley’s lewd fantasies about you--though I must say he seems to have been somewhat… overgenerous.”
“Percy?” Tonks repeated weakly, scowling at the sudden bad taste in her mouth. “Yech.”
“Indeed. On that note, shall we resume our search for a pub?”
“Definitely,” Tonks answered.
Moments later, she caught sight of the sign of a wizarding pub—the Erumpent’s Horn. She quirked an eyebrow at Snape and he nodded shortly, so she led the way into the pub.
It certainly wasn’t the Three Broomsticks, and although the barkeep seemed to be channeling Aberforth Dumbledore, it wasn’t precisely the same crowd as the Hog’s Head either. While some people—namely Tonks—could be described as being all elbows, this pub appeared to be all dark corners. The crowd was generally younger than the Hog’s Head, and rougher than the Three Broomsticks. Broadly speaking, it was a place where both Tonks and Snape could blend in, although the Potions master was stretching it a bit.
She hadn’t even considered whether it was safe for Snape to be here in public after nearly being killed by Voldemort. Surely he was wandering around with the wizarding equivalent of a giant target on his back.
“You shouldn’t be out in public,” she accused.
“Are you intent on nagging me before the wedding?” Snape asked with an amused stare. His lack of a vitriolic response persuaded Tonks that he probably wasn’t following in Sirius’ footsteps. No doubt he was already aware of the potential danger and had been monitoring their surroundings. “Never fear: I have a big strong Auror to protect me.”
“What’ll it be?” the barkeep asked.
Snape looked appraisingly at Tonks. “A bottle of firewhisky and two glasses.”
While Snape waited for the man to return, Tonks looked around for a free table. What she found instead was a table full of Hogwarts alumnae from about the same time she attended. She remembered most of the blokes being several years ahead of her, and was fairly certain they had been in Slytherin. She attempted to pass by them without them spotting her, but inevitably she tripped over the leg of a chair and very nearly landed in one bloke’s lap. She recognized him immediately—Martins had failed out of her Auror class and taken a position in the Department of Magical Equipment Control. She’d been glad to see him go.
After he recovered from the shock of recognition, a predatory smile oozed onto Martins’ face. “I didn’t know you liked this kind of place, Tonks.” The slimy git wore snakeskin pants, she noted as he stood up.
She couldn’t see any polite way of excusing herself—and really didn’t feel the need to be polite anyway, so she settled with a cheery: “Bugger off, Martins, I’m here with someone.”
Martins looked around disbelievingly. “I don’t see anyone—” Tonks assumed from the sudden bugging of his eyes that Snape had located her. “Professor—what are you doing here with…?”
“Discussing our wedding plans,” Snape said coldly. Tonks very nearly sniggered. The man might be a right bastard, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t appreciate his scathing wit when it was turned against sots who deserved it. “I believe my fiancée suggested you bugger off?”
Martins’ eyes still hadn’t returned to their normal size, and he was beginning to look ill. “Gladly, Sir.” A few moments later, Tonks watched his group gather their things and leave the pub entirely.
“Ah, a table!” she said in her best Dumbledore impression. Apparently it was decent enough for Snape to recognize, because he glowered at her briefly. Tonks snagged one of the chairs and collapsed into it with her usual lack of grace. Snape also seated himself and deftly swiped the bottle and both glasses before she could reach them. Tonks glared at him accusingly.
Snape merely smirked as he slid a well-filled glass across to her. “I have seven years experience watching your disturbing interaction with all things breakable, Miss Tonks. I actually want to ingest some of this before you manage to shatter the bottle and cover me with the contents.”
They drank in silence for a while before Snape set his glass down with a clunk. “Are you quite certain there is no one else you could possibly beg, wheedle or blackmail to marry you, Miss Tonks?”
“You just sent away a whole table of cold-blooded young candidates,” she shot back. Her recent lack of romantic relationships wasn’t something she liked admitting to Snape, of all people.
“Please do not distract yourself with weak attempts at humor and attempt to answer the question.”
For a moment, it was almost as if the glass in front of her was a cauldron, and Snape was quizzing her about some potion’s properties. Now that’s a healthy relationship to have with your future husband…. “No, sir, there is no one I can think of,” she said belligerently.
“Are you attracted to women, Miss Tonks?”
“Are you, sir?” she countered.
“Why is it then that you have not formed any relationships?”
Tonks set down her glass. “I’m an Auror, Snape.”
Snape looked as if he was actually trying to understand her. “Aside from the very good chance you’ll end up dead or looking like Moody, I don’t see what deterrent effect that has on your love life.”
“Would you have gotten involved with me in your younger days?” she asked.
“I am trying not to get involved with you now.” He rolled his eyes at her insistent look. “I was a Death Eater, Miss Tonks.”
“Everyone’s got something to hide,” she explained, “and that’s all they can think about when they’re around me. You wouldn’t believe the things people tell me about themselves when they’ve had a bit to drink.”
Snape looked as though he finally understood her predicament. “I shan’t be confessing my sins over my cups tonight.“
“I bloody well hope not,” Tonks returned. She had no desire to hear what things burdened Snape’s conscience.
Snape looked down at his long-fingered hands. “So I’m stuck with you….”
“Looks like it,” Tonks returned. They both took a good long drink.
“You’re being remarkably civil about it, sir,” Tonks said. “Taking me out for a drink and all.”
Snape ran a hand through his greasy hair. Tonks briefly noted that that was something she’d have to address eventually. “When it comes down to it, Miss Tonks, I would rather dicker out the terms with you than have Albus determine them. And I would much rather it be done in the presence of a great deal of alcohol.”
“The ‘terms’?” Tonks repeated.
“What we can offer each other to make this ridiculous situation more bearable.”
Tonks snorted derisively. “There’s nothing you can say that will make this situation any better.”
Snape raised an eyebrow in challenge. “Contraceptives.”
“I can get those at the nearest Boots,” she said, shrugging.
“Not if you’re bound,” Snape corrected.
She half-rose from her chair in alarm. “You’re not going to--”
Snape held up a hand. “I will be requesting you remain unbound.”
Tonks plunked herself back down onto her seat. “Why?”
“Do you want to be bound?”
Tonks felt herself getting angry with the Potions master despite the alcohol’s typical soporific effects on her. “Of course I don’t. I want to know why you don’t.”
“Is it your habit to look gift horses in the mouth?” Snape asked. She wondered briefly if the alcohol brought out his inner Socratic.
“I think my flat mate would consider it ‘constant vigilance’,” she returned.
Snape snorted into his drink. “Utter paranoia, you mean.”
“Not where you’re concerned, sir.”
“Considering the situation we find ourselves in, I think we can safely drop the titles, Miss, err…Nympha-”
“Don’t call me Nymphadora.”
“Well, clearly I cannot refer to you as ‘Tonks’ if we are married, as you will be Mrs. Snape.”
“Technically, it’d be Professor Snape,” she reminded him.
He glowered briefly. “Don’t you think that might get a tad bit confusing?”
Tonks fought to keep the smirk off of her face. “I could always keep my own name—to avoid confusion.”
“It might be best,” Snape conceded. “Although it would have almost been worth it to see Potter’s face when he found out that his Defense Against the Dark Arts professor was none other than Professor Snape.”
She laughed in spite of herself. “You have a queer sense of humor sometimes, Snape.”
“That has been mentioned to me before.”
“I’m sure. By the way, you almost managed to throw me off back there, but I want to know—why no binding?”
“Obviously Albus would never let me.”
Tonks raised her eyebrows at him.
“Is that actually an inquisition tactic of yours?”
She folded her arms and continued to stare at him. “I know you’re lying.”
“Ah, yes, now that’s an effective approach,” he scoffed. “It feels very much like being attacked by a damp tissue.”
Tonks refused to be fazed by the insult. “Betcha it might get annoying after a few years...”
“I highly doubt our fiasco of a marriage will continue that long.”
“You still haven’t answered my question.”
Snape set his empty glass down on the table and leaned forward to look into her eyes. “Miss Tonks, I find you irritating enough when you are acting in your right mind. If you were bound to me, I would shortly feel the need to either lock you away or silence you permanently.”
Tonks nodded and stared down at his glass. The idea of Snape not binding her in the interests of self-preservation made much more sense than any of the suggestions of altruism he had been feeding her. “Cheers,” she said by way of thanks.
“Finish your glass so I can refill it,” Snape ordered.
Surprisingly enough, Tonks obeyed.
Several hours later, they settled up tab and stumbled out of the closing bar. Well, to be fair, Tonks stumbled and Snape practically glided. If anything, he had gotten more graceful. She glared at him accusingly.
“What now?” he demanded, though it lacked some of his trademark barb.
“How d’you still walk like that?”
Snape shrugged. “I just do.”
“Shut yer gob,” she muttered.
“I have no idea what you’re saying when you devolve into Muggle,” Snape scolded.
“Cor,” she drawled sarcastically, “blow me!”
Tonks grinned at him. “Which way, then?”
Snape squinted. “Well, there’s certainly no way I’m allowing you to Apparate back to your flat on your own.”
“You’re not Apparating either,” she said, poking him in the chest with one finger.
“I’m perfectly fine,” he insisted.
Tonks shook her head, and then decided she probably shouldn’t do that anymore if she wanted to keep the contents of her stomach on the inside. “Nuh-uh. You’re completely knackered, and piss-drunk to boot. And I’m an Auror and I say you can’t Apparate.”
“I have no intention of returning to Grimmauld Place tonight.”
“You can crash at my flat,” Tonks suggested, swaying slightly on her feet.
If it was testament to Tonks’ level of intoxication that she made the suggestion, it was proof positive of Snape’s that he actually considered it. “Isn’t your flat across the bloody city?”
“Take the tube,” she said succinctly.
“Tube. Bloody train thing. Underground.”
“That thing Albus has a map of on his knee?”
“Dumbledore’s got a tattoo?” Tonks experienced a renewal of esteem for the bloke. “Wicked.”
“No,” Snape corrected. “Scar.”
“Oh. Still... must be right handy.”
“Do you really want the headmaster lifting up his robe to give you directions?”
Tonks thought about that for a second too long, and decided it was time for a change of topic. “Speaking of robes, we need to transfigure yours into Muggle clothing.”
Snape jumped back when she drew her wand. “A simple Dissimulus charm will work quite effectively, and I am capable of performing it for myself, thank you.”
“Don’t trust me?” Tonks taunted.
“On the contrary, I have a great deal of faith in your ability to make even the simplest spells go horribly awry.”
Tonks stuck out her tongue at him.
“An excellent comeback if I ever heard one. Shall we find this tube of yours?”
“It’s right there,” Tonks said, pointing to the prominent Underground sign.
Snape was not the kind of man to let the world know when he was out of his league, Tonks noticed. He hadn’t committed a single gaff yet, and given the exploits of the purebloods she knew, that was a major feat. She had it on good evidence from a senior Auror that Moody once hexed an escalator, and the first time she had taken Arthur Weasley on one the silly man had thanked it. By the prickling sensation on the back of her neck, she figured the Snape was carefully mimicking what he saw her do. Better than I would’ve figured. He still looked like an overgrown bat, but at least she didn’t have to worry about calling in the Department of Magical Attacks and Catastrophes.
“Holding up?” she craned her head back to ask.
She heard a muffled groan.
“Know how you feel. One more to go. Then there’s the train, of course.”
Tonks blamed her lowered inhibitions for her inability to restrain herself from calling a chipper “mind the gap” to Snape as they boarded the Piccadilly line car. She chose to ignore his glower as he sat beside her.
“Our stop’s South Kensington. Might as well sit back and try not to puke till then.”
Snape was either not feeling well or was trying to keep a low profile as a Muggle, because he didn’t speak to her the rest of the way back. Tonks sighed and let her head rest against the window. If this was a preview of what the rest of her life with Snape was going to be like, she was destined to either become an alcoholic or throw her lot in with Voldemort in hopes that he’d make her a widow.
Definitely drank too much, Tonks reflected as each jolt of the car triggered another wave of nausea. She closed her eyes in the hope that it would cut back on the motion sickness.
When her eyes fluttered open again, she thought she caught a glimpse of a white face through the window. She blinked, and the face was gone. Git must’ve slipped me a hallucinogen.
“We’re approaching the stop,” Snape said, nudging her.
“Shouldn’t’ve let me sleep,” she muttered as they stumbled up the escalator.
“How else was I to get a moment’s peace?” Snape asked. Tonks thought she caught a trace of a slur in his carefully enunciated words.
The short walk home was mostly silent, punctuated by brief, incoherent volleys of insults. Tonks had quite a time tapping in the proper code on her door and disarming the wards, but she managed to get it right before Snape throttled her.
The lights were out in the flat, and Tonks stepped inside cautiously.
“What precisely are you searching for behind the sofa?”
She put a finger to her lips. “Shh…. Moody. Don’t want him to jump out and hex me.”
“From behind the sofa?”
Tonks nodded. “Ok. S’all clear. Lumos.”
Snape was blinking furiously in the sudden light. “Merlin… where do you keep your Soberup potions?”
“Don’t have any.”
“How can you not have a single Soberup potion?” he asked incredulously.
“Shh!” Tonks gestured for him to keep his voice down. The last thing they needed was to wake Moody. “Mad-Eye doesn’t need ‘em and I don’t drink that much.”
“I don’t suppose you have any dried shrivelfig? Armadillo bile?”
Tonks just looked at him blankly. She walked into the kitchen and returned moments later with a glass.
Snape peered into it suspiciously. “What is it?”
“Water.” She rolled her eyes at his expression. “Still, not sparkling. Lukewarm, not cold. Drink it or I’ll hex you.” She pulled a few blankets out of a chest and tossed them on the couch. “You can sleep there. Bathroom’s on the right. We don’t have any house elves and I do not make an adequate replacement.” She looked at Snape briefly to make sure he took in all the information, then pivoted and wobbled off into her bedroom. “I’m going to pass out now. Goodnight.”
Yes, this is a few days late--but double the length I expected it to be. I figure it evens out in the end.
Also: I’ll admit to “borrowing” from a movie and a book in this chapter (not including HP). House points go out to anyone who catches the references.
British -> American Translations
(I don’t generally provide translations, but here are some of the more obscure or easily misinterpreted words and phrases)
Pecker up – short for “keep your pecker up” (keep your chin up)
Boots – the name of a particularly ubiquitous drugstore.
Shut your gob – shut your mouth (shut up)
Cor – (expression of surprise)
Blow me! – shortened from “you could blow me over (with a feather)” Again, surprise.
Knackered – exhausted
Piss/bugger off – go away
Yes, but... by Aestel [Reviews - 15]