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Senses working overtime
Trying to taste the difference,
'tween a lemon and a lime,
Pain and the pleasure,
And the church bells softly chime.
Monday, July 30 :: Early evening

Benefit of being the new boss: Playing hooky was completely without risk.

Penalty of being the boss: Taking off early came after a couple of days working overtime with the new recruits and trying to get the Station back to a semi-useful state after a couple years of neglect.

A few stores in Hogsmeade and London should have been delighted with the orders Tonks had made to restock the storerooms. The Station's budget overage had been approved right off, which was just as well; as it was Tonks was supremely proud of her determination that no matter what, she would not be asking the Minister what pet project the funds that should have been spent on Hogsmeade Station all along had gone to when she encountered him at Wilson's funeral service Thursday morning.

Scrimegour was Shacklebolt's project, not hers, although she'd help if she could. More importantly, the town was in her hands now.

Merlin help it.

She'd even get used to the statue outside Percy's office and stop tripping over it one day, she was sure.

Luckily the townspeople hadn't risen up in revolt against their young and funny-haired Head Auror yet, and since the rookies were already pretty familiar with the town — just a couple updates since they went to school here — that spelled taking the afternoon off.

And probably the next day, too, although that wasn't final yet. She'd have brought it up this past weekend, but upon reaching the cabin any discussion more serious than whether it was ever ok to drink beer instead of milk with brownies was right out. Just to be sure, though, she had a dress (miniaturized and charmed to stay wrinkle-free) in the bag at her side.

Also taking up space in the purple tote bag was a parcel containing a couple of steaks, carefully wrapped by the butcher not to leak out of their ever-chill paper. Tonks had something of a dinner date tonight, which is why there was a spring in her step as she walked through Hogsmeade and down the road toward the cabin.

A few insects buzzed lazily, the only sound detectable at all until Tonks reached the porch and her too-loud footsteps disturbed the peace.

She stowed her bag in the shadows under a chair and sat so she could see the road, curling her feet and their clunky boots underneath herself. Within minutes the warm July air had her drowsy and then napping, a smile curving her lips as she dreamed.
It would have been nice to sleep in, but Bill knew that Tonks would be coming over later.

He'd gotten up early, done some last minute picking up - which mostly consisted of grabbing discarded clothes from off the floor and shoving them into the closet of Charlie's old room - and then realized there was nothing to eat in the house.

Getting food meant stopping by the Burrow, of course. That meant spending a few hours helping Molly around the house, which meant it was afternoon before he made his way back up the walk to his cabin, loaded down with a basket of ready to heat food.

He carefully set the basket down on his porch and leaned over to wake Tonks with a kiss, just like Sleeping Beauty.
Tonks awoke with a slight jerk, which instantly dissolved into a smile.

"Heey. Fancy seeing you here."

One leg unfolded from underneath so she could sit up and place a return peck on Bill's nose.

"How's your day been? Apparating with the new wand going ok?"

She casually raised a hand to sort-of surreptitiously check the side of her mouth for stray drool.
"It's better than using the floo, at least." There wasn't anything wrong with the new wand other than the fact that it wasn't his old one. You carry a wand for decades, get used to the feel of it in your hand, learn to compensate for its irregularities without a second thought... Anything else is bound to feel a bit odd for awhile.

They hadn't even been willing to give the old pieces back to him so he could mourn dispose of it in his own way, said they were evidence.

"Haven't managed to splinch myself yet, which is always a bonus, right?" He stooped to pick up his basket, then offered his hand to Tonks to help her up. "Stopped by the Burrow, realized I was out of waffle fixings and the like. Mum loaded me up. She said to tell you 'Hello,' by the way. I'm rather surprised she managed to limit her commentary to that, especially since she made sure I had enough food for two."

Bill lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "I think she may suspect you're staying the night."
Tonks' eyebrows went up at the same time she did, and the smart-aleck remark about checking for splinching went out of her head.

"She does?"

Her voice had a bit of a surprised squeak to it, which was odd. It wasn't like figuring out what they were doing took any great amount of insight, especially for someone as generally in-tune with what was going on like Bill's mom. And it wasn't like Tonks didn't know and get on with her, either. Molly'd been great when she'd needed advice, extremely supportive — much more than her own mum, if it came to that.

Still, it was a little like getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar.

So to speak.

"Well, hi to her too ... her just saying hi is good, right?"
He grinned. "When you consider all of the things she could have said, yeah, just hi is alright."

Bill opened the door and gestured for Tonks to go on in before leading the way to the kitchen. "As a matter of fact, she made a point to mention I seemed rather chipper for the date - and time of the morning, and I'd bet my last galleon she's convinced herself it has something to do with my having found the love of a good - non-French - witch. The fact that she didn't over to come out here and make me dinner goes a long way toward telling me she's hoping that I'm making myself cozy out here."

Once he'd put away the perishable items, he turned to face Tonks and wagged his eyebrows in a lecherous manner. "Wanna make with the cozy?"
The steak had been safely stowed, which was good because right now Tonks would give even odds on whether they'd get around to it any time soon.

"Yeeeah," she drew out, tilting her head and looking Bill up and down. "I think I'd be up for that.

"Can't go proving Molly wrong, after all, or waste a perfectly chipper mood."

Tonks laughed and took Stretch's hand in order to tug him toward the couch in the other room.

"OK, so nothing says 'make with the cozy' like 'let's mention our parents a lot,' but — would you want to come along the next time I have dinner with my folks?"
He trailed along willingly.

Somehow, it seemed a lot more amusing when they were talking about his parents.

It wasn't as if her parents were a pair of ogres, or that she had a disapproving veela grandmother hidden away. In comparison to the family of his last girlfriend, both of them if one counted Gabby, Ted and Andromeda were a joy.

Still, there was that small fissure of unease when she mentioned dinner with the parents.

"Have you ever known me to turn down a meal?" he joked to cover. "Do - do they know we're - dating." Dating seemed like the safest term to throw out.
"Yeah, they know I'm seeing someone and they know it's you."

She'd learned that lesson — keeping the parents filled in sort of about what was going on — pretty quickly after waking up in St. Mungos after the battle in the Department of Mysteries to a room that was even more tense than it needed to be.

"Once I mention I'm bringing a guest to dinner," Tonks continued as she plopped down on the sofa, "they'll figure out the 'you spend your nights enthusiastically shagging our daughter' part for sure. I wouldn't worry, though. Dad's pretty easygoing and Mum's been dropping hints about how I should get serious for the past couple of years so she should be happy."
Easy going or not, Bill didn't think there was a father alive who wouldn't have some issue with his little girl 'spending her nights enthusiastically shagging' some bloke, to use Nymph's own words.

He joined her on the sofa and put his arm along the back. "How happy? Molly happy, or normal happy?"
"Uh ... let's just say Andromeda happy." Not exactly what anyone would call effusive — Mrs. Tonks was capable of restraint that her daughter found incomprehensible — but she wasn't completely made up of Ancient Black Family reserve.

Tonks leaned in against Bill, snuggling under his arm.

"It'll start out awkward, and then mum will question my hair or give me guff about my housekeeping, and then dad'll make a really bad joke and everything will be normal from then on. After all, you've got the whole rebel look with the long hair and occasional earring, but face it, Stretch — you're respectable," she teased. Solid family background, stable job, good personality — and their daughter was crazy for him. What wasn't to like? "Totally parent-friendly."

The only possible thing Tonks could think of that they could mislike would be the brush with lycanthropy — but Bill wasn't a werewolf. If Andromeda did adopt the frostily polite she'd used with Remus at the beginning, Tonks would just have to take her mum into the kitchen for a private chat.

"You might get asked your intentions, but I'll distract 'em for you if you'll do the same for me tomorrow. If Arthur does that winking-nudging thing I think I might die laughing."
"Arthur wouldn't be Arthur without the winking and nudging." And Bill loved him all the more for it.

"I'll do my best to head him off if he gets too - Arthurish. As to intentions, perhaps you and I should discuss that now, just so there won't be any surprises later." The earlier teasing note had disappeared from his voice. They'd only been together for a few months and Bill cared about Tonks deeply, but he knew he wasn't prepared to drop to one knee at the urging of one set of parents or the other. He also didn't want to hurt Tonks by saying something unexpected if they were put on the spot.
The room was quiet for a moment as Tonks considered what she was going to say for once instead of blurting it all out.

"I moved less than a year ago and I've had three jobs since then, and now there's this. I'm comfortable with change, but anything else big would just be too much.

"Later on, down the road ... yes. I could see something happening."

She shrugged, but didn't look up to see what Bill thought about that admission. It probably wouldn't satisfy a wedding-hungry mother for long, but for her it was a relatively serious declaration. Too much?

"But for right now, I'm happy with the way things are."
Down the road. Bill could almost picture them, together, far in the future. Possibly even a family, which was something he hadn't let him self even think about since he and Fleur parted ways.

But that was far, far in the future.

He nuzzled against her neck, dropping several soft kisses. "Happy is an understatement."
The resulting shiver went straight down to her toes.

Tonks pulled away and turned slightly to throw a leg over to straddle Bill's lap. Her arms encircled his neck, and she leaned forward so her lips just brushed his ear.

"You know I'm really just after your waffles," she whispered huskily.

And immediately was unable to stop a wicked grin. "I'm okay with however dirty that might have sounded."