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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-15 11:00 am

Sweet Tea and Cocoa

Rating: R (Remus/Tonks)
Summary: Tonks didn't notice the tea, at first.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.

***

She didn't notice the tea, that night, or for many, many nights thereafter. Buried in her own thoughts, she didn't see what went on around her, not like she normally had. She did her job, of course, and did it well, and when she was working she was always alert and keen-eyed.

The effort of it was probably what allowed her to sleep so soundly at night. She usually found herself, at the end of the day, exhaustedly trooping into her flat and being too tired to do more than toss her keys on the bedside table and crawl into bed.

Tonks hadn't known Sirius as well as some, but he was her cousin and she had memories of him as a child -- the older brother she desperately wanted, the cool kid who came home from school wearing a leather collar or sporting an earring, an earring Sirius, what on earth were you thinking? her mother had asked.

When she met him again, they were grown, and it was an awkward dance at first, but he was still her cousin, her surrogate-big-brother, and in her way she'd loved him and knew he loved her. Family. They were family.

It wasn't until nearly September, really, that the grief began to fade and she began to realise things were...

...strange.

She found herself drifting through the library at 12 Grimmauld Place with no purpose, hanging about as if waiting for something. She had no idea why; she could easily go home, and indeed her headache said she ought to, but something else kept her there. An expectation, though for the life of her, she couldn't figure out what.

"Brought your tea," said a voice behind her, and she started away from where she stood, gazing out the window. Remus Lupin, face careworn but smiling, held out a cup of tea, by the saucer. "It might help your headache."

She wondered idly how he'd known, but didn't ask, leaning against the sill and taking a sip. He sat comfortably on the window-seat, drawing his long legs up so that he could rest a mug on his knee. An odd familiarity, she thought, but looking back over the past few months, she realised that nearly every evening she could remember his face, over the rim of the chipped green mug.

She sipped and was surprised to taste sugar in it. But then that was familiar too; as if she was rising out of some kind of murky dream, she realised that without her noticing, this had become a ritual.

In the high observatory tower; most often in the kitchen; sometimes in the sitting room he'd claimed as his own, sometimes like now in the library. Every evening. She came to Grimmauld Place without thinking about it, and at some point he always found her -- he lived there, after all, and knew its secrets -- and brought her tea.

He was watching her. Silently. Drinking what looked to her like it was probably cocoa, which meant that he had made the tea specifically for her. And this too was familiar; the mingled taste of her tea and smell of his cocoa.

"Felt like reading tonight, did you?" he asked. She was bewildered, for a moment, until she recalled they were in the library.

"No, I just thought I'd...the view is nice, from here," she said, suddenly anxious. It was like when you had been doing something out of habit for so long that when someone asked you about it, it put you off your rhythm; she fumbled awkwardly, knowing that they'd been sitting and drinking and talking for months without her being conscious of why or how.

He turned his head to look out the window, and the red sunset-light -- it was light out so late here, in the summer -- caught his face, throwing the premature lines there into harsh contrast, turning his grey-brown hair to copper. She closed her eyes and held the colour in her mind, wanting to save that shade, turning her own hair the same. When she opened them, he was looking at her again.

"What colour are your eyes?" he asked. She tilted her head at him. "I mean, you just changed them when you changed your hair, which is good as brown wouldn't really suit that shade of red, but...what colour are they when you haven't changed them to anything?"

She raised her fingers to her cheekbone, thoughtfully.

"They aren't," she said. "I don't have a 'real' face."

He sipped, eyes never leaving hers.

"Then...when no-one's around, what colour are they?" he continued. "I'm sorry if it's rude -- "

"No, I don't mind," she replied. She took another sip herself, tasting the sugar and milk in the tea. Had she ever actually told him how she liked it? She must have, otherwise how could he know to prepare it that way?

He was so quiet and still. She wondered if he practiced it.

"Most of the time it's just whatever I chose to look like that day," she said finally, with a shrug. "I like blue. It's what colour mum's eyes were."

He nodded musingly into his cup. "I like blue too," he said. "Shame you don't show it around others more."

"What?"

"Well, they're almost always blue when I bring the tea," he continued, blithely unaware of her bewilderment. "But the rest of the time when I see you, they're green or -- "

He stopped, suddenly, and she looked at him closely; Remus Lupin didn't blush, but there was a hint of embarrassment in his face.

"What I mean to say is..." he trailed off, and glanced at the sunset again. "I like blue too, that's all."

They drank the rest of the tea and cocoa in silence, he finishing first, waiting for her so that he could take their cups back to the kitchen.

"You should go home," he said. The final part of the familiar ritual -- him sending her on her way. That was why she never made tea when she got home, she realised; she'd just had a cup with him.

He saw her out, and she was sure she only imagined the lingering touch of his hand on the small of her back as he guided her down the hall.

***

Molly came by, the next evening, and they spent an enjoyable few hours together; Tonks was not the only one slowly learning to smile and laugh again after the horrible night in the Ministry. She'd brought Arthur, who challenged Remus to a game of Wizard's Chess and thrashed him at it, though Tonks suspected Remus was playing with a self-imposed handicap. He liked to do that, she recalled; take little tasks and add a challenge to them, to keep from becoming bored. He would do a crossword filling in only consonants, so that the words weren't complete and he had to hold them in his head. He rarely solved one, but then if you let him use all the letters in the alphabet he rarely solved it anyway, because he lost interest.

She saw he wasn't using his bishops at all, and only using his knights when Arthur had just used his.

"It's a good thing I don't play for money," he joked, as Arthur packed up the chess set. "I see now where Ron got it from."

"Poor Arthur never could get Bill or Charlie interested in the game, but at least one of the lads likes it," Molly answered. Remus stood, brushing his hair out of his eyes, and grinned at her.

"Who'd like tea?" he asked. Tonks noticed Arthur and Molly exchange a quick glance before shaking their heads.

"Best be getting home," Arthur said, and Molly rose to join him. "We're taking Bill and the twins to a game this weekend, you're both welcome to come."

"I might take you up on that," Remus answered, walking with them as far as the entrance hall, Tonks trailing behind. "Safe trip home," he said, and vanished into the dark recesses of the kitchen.

"Enjoy your tea," Molly said with a knowing smile, to Tonks. "We thought we might make a discreet exit."

"Why? You know you're welcome to stay," Tonks answered, confused.

"Not by Lupin," Arthur observed, leaning over Molly's shoulder, his voice low so that the clattering in the kitchen covered it. "I fully approve, by the by."

"Of what?"

"You and him," Molly said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"But we're not..." she trailed off. "We have tea, sometimes, but that's all."

Arthur and Molly grinned at each other.

"Very civilised, tea," Arthur coughed.

"A comfortable ritual," Molly added.

"He's years older than I am, why would I be of the slightest interest to him?" Tonks pointed out.

"Don't look at me, I don't pretend to understand his head, but you are," Molly insisted. "He's courting you, Tonks."

"With tea?"

"Well, he's always been a bit roundabout, hasn't he?" Arthur asked. "Everyone knows it. We thought you did, too. Fred and George say -- "

"Please, don't tell me what Fred and George say," she said, holding up a hand. "It's just tea. We both...we both miss Sirius, that's all, and he's lonely here in this big old house, and -- "

" -- you're lonely too?" Molly asked. Her voice was flippant, but her face spoke of a deep understanding.

"He's never said anything," Tonks said wretchedly, because it wasn't strictly true. She had a feeling that he had been saying it over and over, in his way, and she simply hadn't noticed.

"Chin up, Tonks, there's no harm in tea, as you say," Arthur finished. "Come on, Molly, we're wanted at home. Come to the game this weekend!" he added, over his shoulder, as they left. She barely had time to take a rather shaky breath before Remus appeared at her elbow, silently offering a teacup. She took it just as silently, and followed him back into the sitting room. He dropped onto the couch, tilting his head back to regard the ceiling, cocoa mug balanced on the arm, feet propped lazily on the large, antique coffee table in front of him.

"I saw what you were doing with Arthur," she said, standing on the other side of the table. He didn't move.

"What was I doing with Arthur?" he asked.

"Playing handicapped."

"Oh, that. He'd probably beat me anyway, I'm not really that brilliant at chess, but this makes it more interesting. And faster," he added. She set her tea on the table, and circled it. He pulled his legs back so that she could pass, and held his cocoa steady as she sat next to him. She leaned forward to retrieve her drink. Milk and sugar, exactly how she liked it.

"You do that a lot, don't you?" she asked.

"It makes life interesting."

She leaned back too, giving him a sidelong glance. "As interesting as the ceiling?"

"Feels good to stretch out a little."

"There are some times you shouldn't play games like that, you know," she said, shifting to rest her head on his shoulder. She could feel him tense. This was not part of the ritual.

"I suppose," he said, shrugging her off and leaning forward, taking a deep drink of the cocoa, badly stifling a wince as he burned his tongue. "Arthur didn't notice."

"That wasn't really what I was referring to," she said. Elbows on knees, shoulders hunched slightly, he turned to look at her. There was a sort of terror in his eyes. She leaned forward too, resting her cheek on his shoulderblade. He took another sip of cocoa, but at least he didn't move this time.

"Molly says you're courting me," she said quietly, into the shabby shirt he wore. He smelled clean, like soap and shaving lotion. "Arthur thinks you're playing handicapped."

His body moved, a little, as he drew a deep breath. "I wouldn't play games with you."

"How did you know I liked sugar in my tea?"

A long silence. He separated himself from her again, and stood, shoving his hands in his pockets.

"All right, that was a game, maybe, but not with you," he said. "Listen, it was just -- you looked so lost that first night, and I didn't want to bother you, everyone was asking everyone else what they could do or how they could help and I just wanted to do something for someone without having to be told what it was."

She had vague recollections of a cup of bitter tea, sipped without thought.

"So you made tea," she said, with a smile. "How very Remus of you."

"Someone had said you liked milk in it, but I didn't know if you wanted anything else, and you just seemed to drink it, so I let you..." he shrugged. "Next time I tried sugar, and you seemed to like that better -- it only took me four tries to get it right," he added, with a small note of pride.

"I never said thank you," she murmured.

"That wasn't the point."

"What was?"

"To do what I could, when I could. The point was to give you something to depend on. Tea. And me. And if you happened to notice..." another careless shrug, a little too careless, "...well, then you'd know someone cared about you, I suppose."

She stood, slowly, and saw that he was watching her with a wariness approaching fear.

"You didn't answer my question," she said, moving forward. He didn't move back, but he looked like he wanted to. "Molly says you're courting me. Are you? You notice what colour my eyes are even when we're not alone, you picked me to be the someone you did something for..."

"Well, you're a beautiful woman and I'm -- I'd have to be dead not to notice your eyes..." he stammered.

"You don't even drink tea."

"I like cocoa in the evenings."

"And you come looking for me."

"If you don't get your tea you won't sleep...I heard you telling Kingsley..."

They were standing barely apart now, her face lifted slightly, so close she could feel his body heat. She thought she heard a noise, a little like a whine, in the back of his throat.

"It was just drinks and talking. I only meant it to be comfort," he said, softly. "I didn't mean to fall in love with you."

There was barely room between them for breath, but she slid her right hand down his arm -- he closed his eyes against the sensation -- and took the elderly chipped mug from his hand, which shook a little. She raised it to her own lips as he opened his eyes, and sipped the last of it.

"Sweet," she said, lowering it again. "Do you taste like that?"

"This isn't perhaps -- " he stopped speaking when she kissed him, and the mug tumbled to the floor; neither bent to pick it up, Tonks busy tasting his mouth, Remus busy with his arms around her body, closing the last gap between them. He opened his mouth eagerly, for the shy man of a minute before, and when she opened her brilliant blue eyes his own were watching hers.

"I thought maybe you did it for me," he breathed against her mouth. "I thought maybe you knew I liked blue eyes...but I didn't want to frighten you..."

"Frighten me?" she laughed, as one of his hands tangled in her hair, stroking her neck.

"You didn't need me that way," he said, nuzzling her cheek. "You needed a friend."

"I have friends," she answered. "None of them ever -- "

He cut her off with another kiss, more confident this time.

"Me neither," he said softly. She moaned and pressed closer, wanting contact, suddenly wanting the same from his body as he'd been giving her all these months with his presence and his mind.

And some quiet part of her was whispering that she'd seen how he looked at her when her eyes were blue and she used to be carelessly blue-eyed but after a while she saved it for the evenings and maybe even for him...

He had broad hands, nimble-fingered, and he knew how to use them; hers pressed to his chest, feeling the arch of his collarbones under his shirt, while his were at her neck and sliding across her hip, exploring, stroking, just touching in a way she suspected he rarely did.

And then suddenly the world and his hands were moving and she was falling, but only for a second, until she realised he was picking her up.

He was picking her up.

She laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck because it was, like the tea and the courtship and the shyness, so very much something he would do.

It wasn't far to his rooms, and he carried her effortlessly; she'd forgotten werewolf strength. He followed her onto the bed gracefully, hips pressing on hers, kissing her with a hunger born of months of frustrated patience, and she kissed back. Their bodies slowly shifted until they fit, and they lay like that for a while, until he leaned back slightly, a sheepish grin on his face.

"Perhaps a little fast," he said softly. "From tea to bed in -- "

"Not too fast," she answered, and he moaned when he felt her fingers at his throat, undoing the buttons of his shirt. "I think it might be impossible to -- " she gasped as he bent, ignoring her hands, to nip her neck, gently, careful not to break the skin.

She managed to push his shirt off as he nuzzled the collar of her robe open, and the arch and press of his hips when she slid his trousers over them made her moan.

"You're still dressed," he said, following his hands with his mouth as he undressed her, finally muttering a few words that simply made the clothing vanish entirely.

"Remind me...oh..." she arched into his hands, "to learn that spell from you..."

He hushed her with his mouth, moving rhythmically against her, hands sliding down to grip her thighs when she opened to him, and he didn't stop to ask if she was sure; they were far past any stopping point. She arched suddenly, and he was there, face pressed to her neck, hands moving up again to touch and caress, to do the things they hadn't had time to do before.

She could feel him quicken and try to control himself, but she didn't want him controlled; she whispered things into his ear that she knew he'd never imagined she could say, ran her hands over his shoulders and down his back, sliding fingers under his shoulderblades, along his spine.

He reacted with a guttural moan, and his body tensed; another second and he was gasping against her as he came, saying her name in low, even tones, and the suddenness of it, her name on his lips, took her over the edge as well, so surprising that she forgot for a moment how to breathe.

He was heavy on top of her, breath against her neck, her cheek, and then again on her mouth, relentless. He rested his forehead against hers, hair tickling her scalp.

"Too fast," he whispered again. She felt her hands stroke his cheeks, thumbs sliding down to his jaw.

"Not too fast," she corrected. His eyes opened, barely an inch from hers.

"Good..." he answered, kissing her again. He propped himself up on his elbows, over her, hands straying to her face. "I...I'm sorry..."

She laughed, rolling to her side, and he slid down behind her, pulling her hips against his, her shoulders against his chest.

"If you're sorry for that, I can't wait until you decide you've done it right," she gasped, laughing, and felt him smile against her shoulder.

"I didn't mean that," he chided, and his hand slid up her stomach, cupping her breast so that she gasped in the middle of a laugh, and relaxed against him. "I meant..."

He fell silent, thumb stroking her skin, smoothing over it, to the sound of her even breathing.

"I don't know whether I'm sorry I took advantage of our friendship..." he sighed against her, "Or that I played a game with you. I did. I didn't mean to, but...either way, I'm sorry."

"Hmmm, now let me think," she murmured. "He brought me tea every evening, no matter where I was, and I didn't have to tell him how I liked it because he found that out on his own. He sat with me every night, and sent me home safe so that I could sleep. He did all this without being asked, or thanked. So much to be sorry for."

"She saved her blue eyes for me..." he whispered back, and she felt a pleased thrill go through her. "She gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning, some days, because the only thing worth it was seeing her smile when I made the tea right."

Tonks made a small, happy sigh, and closed her eyes. "He stayed with me."

"She asked me to stay."

When Arthur stopped by Headquarters the next morning, he found an empty cocoa mug lying on the floor, and Tonks' tea, cold and still full, sitting on the coffee table.

END

If I pour your cup, that is friendship.
And if I add your milk, that's manners.
But if I stop there, claiming ignorance of taste,
That is tea.
But if I measure the sugar
to satisfy your expectant tongue
then that is love,
sitting untouched, and growing cold.
-- Cowboy Junkies, "Cold Tea Blues"

[identity profile] calliope-jones.livejournal.com 2005-07-06 07:05 pm (UTC)(link)
oh sam. sam sam sam. utterly brilliant. every time. did i mention i hate you? no? did i mention that i adore you and you have to write more remus?

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2005-07-06 07:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you *grins* I wish I had time to write more Remus...

[identity profile] flutteringazure.livejournal.com 2005-07-16 10:16 pm (UTC)(link)
*smiles* I'm reading this again, for some post-HBP comfort. It's working :)

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2005-07-17 12:42 am (UTC)(link)
It looks to be still canonical, doesn't it? Nice of my past self to be so forward-thinking...:D
ext_10182: Anzo-Berrega Desert (Haru beer)

[identity profile] rashaka.livejournal.com 2005-08-10 12:52 am (UTC)(link)
What a lovely fic.

I also like the lyrics at the end. Reads like a poem. Do you have the song? If it's not too much trouble, could you post it for me? I'd really love to hear it.

This was my favorite part:

"Molly says you're courting me," she said quietly, into the shabby shirt he wore. He smelled clean, like soap and shaving lotion. "Arthur thinks you're playing handicapped."

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2005-08-10 05:49 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

I'm afraid I don't have the song -- I don't actually like the song, but the lyrics are great :)

(Anonymous) 2005-09-05 02:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Found "Sweet Tea and Cocoa" almost by accident (I am referring to your story and not me discovering the joy of beverages...) I thought I'd read all your R/T stories but obviously not.

It's lovely; touching and sexy, the same kind of feel as one of my all time favourites "Rhapsody in Blue." You really write this pair VERY well.

I'm probably wrong but I have a dim memory of reading another R/T story of yours - called something like "Parchment." Only I've never found any trace of it since, which makes me think I've completely made that up? Apologies if I have, I probably need a strong cup of tea.

K.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2005-09-05 02:44 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, I think I know the fic you mean. I didn't want to archive it at Sam_Storyteller because I didn't like it, in the end. I've lost it now *pokes through files* but you know, it was really quite terrible, you're not missing anything.

[identity profile] quean-of-swords.livejournal.com 2005-09-16 06:49 am (UTC)(link)
God that was great. I love your Remus/Tonks. But I've said that before. But it's true. *happy sigh*

[identity profile] baseballchica03.livejournal.com 2005-11-21 12:33 am (UTC)(link)
I have no idea how I stumbled over here, but God, this is beautiful.

[identity profile] le-mru.livejournal.com 2006-01-21 01:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, this is great. Soft, warm, and detailed (especially the parts about moving - "shoulders hunched", "legs pulled back" - it makes the reader aware that the characters move naturally!). I read it while sipping hot chocolate cappuccino... It's wonderful, though I'm more of a fan (and writer) of rather angsty R/T, especially post-HBP. Thanks for a great read.

(Anonymous) 2006-01-21 03:15 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, it's beautiful. Remus is so... Remus.
Thank you
Marta

[identity profile] arisingstarlet.livejournal.com 2006-02-06 06:08 am (UTC)(link)
i loved everything about this. it was wonderful. thank you so much.

[identity profile] at-splicken.livejournal.com 2006-07-07 09:49 pm (UTC)(link)
"I didn't mean to fall in love with you."
Sam, you keep playing with my heart like that and it will explode, and then how will I continue reading your fics? I alos loved the last line, and I can just see Arthur grinning as he looks at the mug on the floor and the cold tea. :D

[identity profile] an-fhanai.livejournal.com 2006-11-16 03:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh. Dear. God.

You know, I was blown away while I was reading the story - it's beautiful, so wonderfully Remus that it's almost painful. You know, though - when I got to the bottom and saw Cold Tea Blues, I got shivers. I've loved that song for so many years now, I remember thinking ten years ago, no, well over ten years ago (Huh, when did that album come out? My memory is going...), that it was such a great summation of love...and now you've made this amazing R/T story out of it. Gorgeous - absolutely gorgeous. A friend just pointed me in the direction of your fics (what I heard was Remus/Tonks, Lord Peter Wimsey, House - there was no resisting at that point), so now I'm going to putter about for a bit, reading (inhaling, actually) and enjoying. I'm generally terrible about reviewing, so I apologize now if I'm inconsistent about that - I couldn't resist the Cold Tea Blues on this one, though.

Man - R/T, Wimsey, House and Cowboy Junkies...I definitely need to hunt around and see what other little goodies you have stashed around here. ;)

[identity profile] roguesphantom.livejournal.com 2007-01-01 11:14 pm (UTC)(link)
I loved, loved this fic. It's going into my memories along with Rhapsody in Blue. You have a strong take on Remus and Tonks. =)

(Anonymous) 2007-01-30 10:44 pm (UTC)(link)
wonderful, wonderful.

You write so beautifully.

[identity profile] blacksquirrel.livejournal.com 2007-05-18 05:25 am (UTC)(link)
Lovely

Tea *is* love :)

[identity profile] angel-love-song.livejournal.com 2007-11-14 03:55 am (UTC)(link)
*hugs* Oh that was lovely. I wish I had someone like that. Really, I do. Remus seems so much like the dream man that I cannot ever have. Lucky Tonks. XD This is really one of your best. :D

[identity profile] werewolfsfan.livejournal.com 2007-12-18 06:38 pm (UTC)(link)
I particularly love that Remus and Tonks gradually come together in your fics. I can't see him rushing into bed with anyone on short acquaintance and your gradual build ups makes it seem reasonable to pair my favorite werewolf with a pink haired fan of the Weird Sisters.

[identity profile] golden-d.livejournal.com 2008-10-11 08:13 pm (UTC)(link)
"It was just drinks and talking. I only meant it to be comfort," he said, softly. "I didn't mean to fall in love with you."

This really is just so perfect of a line. :) Thanks for being romantic for those of us who can't.

[identity profile] uniquegrl7.livejournal.com 2012-01-13 04:11 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, why is this so perfectly written? I loved the quiet details you wrote, and the dialogue was spot-on and beautiful.