a piece of pie


Tonks is surprised by the invitation, even more surprised when Remus Lupin thoughtfully opens the door for her.

"A muggle coffee shop?" she says, letting him even pull out her chair.

Remus is dressed in common Muggle clothing; slacks, a shirt. He has open toed sandals on, the only indication it's the middle of August rather than the middle of winter. Outside, London is drizzling as ever.

"Cappuchino?" he asks her, voice pleasant. "Iced mocha? Or black?"

Tonks grins; her three favorite coffee drinks. "How did you know?"

He pulls out a fist ful of pound coins, and she peers at them. Remus knows instinctively what money equals what beverage, and she lets him go up to the counter, order two iced mochas with vanilla and a piece of gooseberry pie.

"Thank you," she says, as he sits back down. Remus is looking well. Well but pale. Remus, she decides after studying him for a few moments, looks like he belongs in the Muggle world. Tonks sees no evidence of his wand anywhere about his person.

It's there.

"How's the Minstry?" he asks her, and hands her a fork for the pie.

"The same." The pie is sweet, sweet and tangy, full of juice. She's eaten half of it before she realizes, and belatedly offers him the plate. Remus declines with a little smile. She adds, "our office is overworked, as you might imagine."

"But you're handling the stress," he tells her. Remus doesn't ask whether she's all right, he doesn't ask whether she's feeling swamped or upset or alone. Remus knows.

"Last week was a close shave," she tells him. Needlessly; he heard about it when she reported that morning to Number twelve Grimmald Place - but Tonks still has no idea why she's here. Best keep up the light conversation until Remus reveals his intentions.

"You look good with red hair," he says suddenly, evenly. Easily. Tonks runs a hand through her short red hair self-consciously. Even being able to change her appearance so effortlessly, sometimes she forgets that other people see her appearance too, that her face isn't just some mutable thing. That Remus has been watching her, maybe wondering what her mouth would taste like.

"I'm sorry," Tonks suddenly says, flushing. "Can I ask - is this a coffee date?"

Remus' grin widens, but only a little. He looks tired, Tonks decides. Tired and much, much older than her. "We are in a coffee shop," he says, "and I do believe I bought you coffee."

"Oh." The pie is gone, not even a crumb left. Tangy, juicy, and very red. "I." She pauses, not sure what's appropriate conversation material. Remus Lupin is a very private man. But then, he just admitted this was a date; a certain amount of personal information is fair game. "That's rather surprising."

"Why?" Remus is still even-toned. Tonks hasn't seen him ruffled, angry, or upset in over a month. She thinks very hard, and isn't sure whether she's ever seen him truely express any intense emotions. They're present, like his hidden wand, but so well concealed, especially of late, that it's easy to forget they could possibly be a part of Remus at all.

"Because you recently experienced tragedy," she blurted, tactless and thoughtlessly. Stupid, Tonks thinks, and runs another hand through her hair. Clumsy with body and words.

Remus puts his iced drink down. "Do I seem," he says, "like the type to mourn?" The bitterness is present, in his eyes and the way he puts his palm flat on the table, the way his jaw tightens. The way Tonks can suddenly see how much Remus is in pain.

She tells him, "yes."