Fic: Different Strings (Snape/Tonks, PG-13) Title: Different Strings Author:summerborn Pairing: Snape/Tonks Rating: PG-13 Disclaimer: Characters were originally created by JKR. Prompt: #45 - "You're only seventeen, but you think you've grown in the month you've been away from your parents' home" Summary: Tonks learns the hard way that not all relationships are the kind you hear about in fairy tales.
Author's notes: Thanks to C & M for beta help, and to Rush for the title inspiration. Also I have a ton of warm fuzzies for the bonking_tonks mods - thanks for letting me play! 1360 words.
Her own flat. Not much company since she'd moved her things in, the week before Auror training began. A few friends, once or twice. Never anything like this.
They sit on the tiny sofa, holding themselves stiffly, each careful not to touch the other. Somewhere in her chest there is a frantic sort of movement, of wonderment, of surprise, really, that someone she had known for so long would be showing the same uncomfortable excitement that she was feeling.
He holds on to the cup of tea with both hands, not drinking it. She notices the shape of his thumbs, the small indent.
Conversation trickles, then dies, and her excitement is suddenly subsumed by the worry that he will leave, be done with her, and that this moment will never recreate itself.
For how could it?
The breeze was cold on her flaming cheeks as Tonks stumbled out of the pub. Not one month into Auror training, and she'd let herself believe that Jason could really be interested in her - the laughter of the whole group echoed in her ears, and she cursed the one-too-many drinks that had kept her from seeing earlier that the teasing was pointed directly at her.
Her foot slipped on the car. Arms went wide as she tried to keep from hitting the pavement, and somehow in her windmilling, her bag flew off her arm and landed with a thud several feet away.
"Great," Tonks groaned. "Just perfect." She stepped closer to it, favoring her now-twisted ankle, and knelt to gather her things. Between dealing with the knee-high boots and the hem of her mini that insisted on riding up, she had her hands full trying to collect all of her stupid, useless junk.
It wasn't until she saw a lipstick case float towards her bag that she thought of magic. She pulled her wand, but by the time she had it turned the right way round, everything was picked up and a figure dressed all in black was holding her bag.
"Some Auror you'd make," she mumbled, aware only of being caught totally unaware. "Er, thanks..."
The figure stepped forward, catching a bit more light from the flashing neon sign of the pub, revealing lank hair, sallow skin, and an unforgettable nose.
"...Professor." Even three sheets to the wind, Tonks tried to straighten up, brushing her hair out of her eyes and tugging the low neckline of the blouse upwards. And she thought she'd been embarrassed back in the bar!
"Nymphadora," said the low voice, almost too softly to be heard. "You should be more careful."
"Yes, sir," she said, reaching out to take the proffered bag. "Thank you, sir, really." She swatted at her hair again, wondering if it was still the same celebratory red it had been earlier, or if events had dulled the color without her realizing it.
They looked at one another frankly for a moment, and it occurred to Tonks, somewhere in the depths of her gin-fogged brain, that she would have expected Snape to leave immediately, to 'begone' in rather a hurry from this part of town.
Come to think on it, what was he doing in this part of town in the first place?
"Tonks!" A step, a splash in a street puddle, and suddenly there was Jason, slightly out of breath and anxious.
"Oh-" Tonks blinked, trying to sort out what she was supposed to feel upon seeing him.
"We didn't mean, I mean, bloody hell, Tonks! It was all in fun, you know, a bit of-" He reached a hand out. "Come on back to the pub, aye?"
She looked back around to Snape, only to find an empty spot in the street where he'd been.
They leave the radio playing in the sitting room and move to her bed. Her hands cover his as they slide along her smooth, pale thighs. She can't help but shift, wanting more contact. He pulls away for a moment before lowering himself down, his hard, angular body pressing against hers. She draws his head down for a kiss, still amazed to be with him, here, doing these things, now.
Three weeks before completing her training as an Auror, Tonks met with Albus Dumbledore, and her life was never the same.
Snape was in the hall when she came out of the Headmaster's office. He glanced quickly at the door she'd just come out of, then turned to face her.
She was still, watching him as one might an injured graphorn: wary, fascinated.
"Nymphadora," he greeted her at last.
"Hello, Professor," she said. Had he been waiting for her? The idea was rather appealing.
Another silence - not uncomfortable, but assessing. Tonks waited.
"I trust your young man is well," Snape said finally.
"My-?" Tonks recovered her surprise quickly. "I'm not seeing anyone, if that's what you mean." Now he was checking her availability? This was becoming surreal.
Snape said nothing in response, and she felt herself taken by an odd impulse. "I'm not doing anything for dinner," she said. "If you're willing, we could..." Panic threatened to rise, suddenly, but she fought it. If she was shy, surely he was shyer! "We could go for something to eat together?"
There was a pause, and again his eyes were impossible to read. Finally, he asked, "Can you do your hair red again?"
Is she a "grown-up" because she is sleeping with a man twelve years her senior? Is it wrong that they used to be teacher and student? He looks at her when he thinks she doesn't notice, and she can't read his eyes. Does he value only her youth?
"If Scrimgeour is such a problem for you, why don't you discuss it with the Minister?"
She sighed. "It's like I said. I think if I just talk to Scrimgeour one more time, explain what's going on..."
Snape shrugged, his eyes focused on his reading. "Any sensible person would just take it up with Scrimgeour's superior."
Frustration boiled over. "Just because that's what you would do doesn't make it the only 'sensible' thing to do!"
He stiffened, glared at her. "I happen to have quite a lot of experience dealing with these sorts of things, Nymphadora. If you choose to act like a child-"
"A child you're sleeping with!"
He threw down the newspaper and rose, snarling, "That can be remedied." Two seconds later he was out the door. She flinched, but instead of the slam she'd anticipated, there was only the whisper-soft shh-click of the latch sliding into place.
She threw herself onto the sofa and cried.
He was the most infuriating mix of self-control and outrageous insult. He offended her and continued to do so after she explained the offense to him. And - worst of all - he didn't care at all about her, not one bit, and she'd fallen in love with him.
All she wants to do is curl against the warmth of his body, but he is already out of bed, collecting scattered clothing. She pulls the counterpane over her chest, closes her eyes. He would stay if he could, she was sure.
He stops moving. "I..."
What is it he wants to say, but never does? She picks from her favorite fantasies: 'I saw a new Thai place in Islington for us to try.' 'I think we should move in together.' 'I...'
"I'll see you in a week."
This time, she doesn't even pretend it means 'I love you.'
She hadn't seen him in half a year when he showed up at Number 12, Grimmauld Place for an Order meeting. She liked to think of herself as completely over him, but that moment when their eyes met, something passed over his face, and just for an instant she felt it all come rushing back: giddy infatuation, bone-deep yearning for connection, pain and mutual unhappiness.
And then it was gone.
He swept past her without even a nod. Tonks found, to her surprise, that she didn't mind as much as she might have thought she would.
What happened to our innocence, Did it go out of style? Along with our naivete No longer a child. Different eyes see different things, Different hearts beat on different strings. -Rush, "Different Strings"