Actions

Work Header

Love Me Like We Choose It

Work Text:

Tonight I'll sit at the bar on St. Mark where we met.
If I stayed away from all the places we have been together,
I couldn't go anywhere
Anymore.

You said I should find somebody new to love me like we choose it;
You want to believe that there may be a sweetness to a temporary distance.

Good grief, baby, there's no such thing
As good grief, baby...

— “Good Grief” by Torres, from Silver Tongue

White wine is so.. .sterile.  

Fleur sucks her tongue against her front teeth as though the taste might do something different there, pressed against the flat bones between the meat of her tongue and the wet of the drink. She stares at the bartop and tries to place the threads of the song weaving out of the old Muggle radio propped on the far end of it to her right, all racket and grain and the wheeze of time long past. Fleur takes another sip from her glass and gives up on the tune after several phrases. She’s given up on a lot lately, hasn’t she?

Tonight marks six months since she left Bill, a sick sort of anniversary she feels in her guts like cooling coals. She tries not to remember the day in a constant stream of sunbleached memory, standing out, an embossment burnt in against her brain, but always it’s there—his sad smile, the resignation, the pity of it all. Aren’t you going to fight me? she had shouted, her face stained with tears gone dry on her cheeks, those words she sometimes mouths along with in long moments of distant reverie; Don’t let me leave, Bill, don’t let me do this to you!

Against all of Fleur’s railing, Bill had only taken up her suitcase at her feet and pressed it back into her trembling hand. You need time, he whispered as he gave her a quick, sweet embrace before stepping back too quickly for Fleur to return the hold. Take time to repair. Go find yourself, go...figure out what it is you need.

I need you to need me, Fleur remembers insisting, her voice tight and shrill as he swallowed another press of tears. She shakes her head and downs the rest of her wine, calling for another glass with a nod to the barman. Her head will hurt for this in the morning, but she can’t find it in her to care about that now.

Back in Fleur’s memory, the dessicated wash of it, Bill had smoothed a long and wild lock of her hair back behind her ear in one last gesture of tenderness before stepping back again—perhaps, it felt then and feels now, for good. I do need you, Fleur, he had said, his voice breaking around only the third trace of tears she had ever seen on her husband’s lashes in all their time together, but I need you whole again. I need you alright. So I need you to do what you think is best, and go if you need to go. I’ll be here wh—if, you come back.

Fleur had left with a sharp turn on her heel and apparated so quickly it made her head spin, immediately getting sick into a bin on the corner of the street in the middle of the bustle of London that came up to meet her feet. The thought of trying to piece herself together again felt, and still feels, wholly insurmountable in the postwar haze of carrying on. 

But what else is there to do? Fleur thanks the barman for the third pour and sets to drinking again.

She’s rented a little broom closet of a flat from a waifish old witch just outside of Whitechapel, and this dingy pub a few boroughs over has felt more and more like home the longer Fleur has been seeking the ends of her nights here. She’s been staggeringly alone for most of the half-year, listening to Muggle wireless and spinning records that don’t belong to her and trying to remember if there was ever a time that using her magic didn’t feel like spines of glass clawing down the straits of her veins, but a few times she’s found nighttime strangers in whom to lose herself—mind, body, and purpose all at once. Sometimes they’ve been men, sometimes they’ve been women, sometimes they’ve been people who just shrugged when Fleur asked after their origins and were more than content to simply kiss her and touch her and see her off quickly in the side alley she’s begun seeing as a sort of liminal space between the ugly stretch of reality and the bliss of unbelonging that the half-lives of tiny orgasms shoot through her.

I need you to do what you think is best, Bill had told her, and yet Fleur has begun feeling that perhaps she never even knew herself well enough to make that call at the outset of everything—the war, her courtship, the wedding, all of it swirling together in a hecticism that makes her wince as though she’s slipping her fingers into an open wound when she recalls the quick succession of it all. She takes another slug of wine. Perhaps she’s just irreparably broken from it all, wrenched into such a shape from the trauma and the panic that doesn’t leave her body no matter all the different ways she tries to forget, that she won’t ever fit into the mold she once filled— thought she filled.

Fleur is badly in need of some new ways to cope. She combs a restless hand through the hair at the crown of her head, glances blithely at the pub door as it creaks open, and nearly slips from the barstool with a dry slap of shock when she sees the figure sauntering through the doorway.

Nymphadora Tonks has always been a name that makes Fleur’s chest catch just so, the whip-crack of a woman who wears the Auror office like it’s hers to own—and here she stands now in that uniform, royal blue robes stark against her butter-gold skin and the short shock of night-black hair that fades steadily into an even red-blonde as she raises a hand and calls for “Whiskey if you please, neat.” Tonks’ voice is lowish, a light gravel tone just as Fleur remembers with a rush of old daydreams, and she smiles just on the end of it in courtesy while Fleur finds herself wishing that smile were directed at her; Turn a little more to your left, she thinks in flailing mutiny, knifing her internal voice out into the hum-quiet of the pub as she finally places the Lettermen song on the radio.

In a restless world like this is, love is ended before it's begun—

“Holy fucking shit. Fleur?”

Wincing, Fleur both thrills at and regrets the small turn of Tonks’ shoulders that ushers in recognition. She takes one deep breath and clenches her teeth together for a moment before turning as well, faking surprise; “Tonks! Hallo!”

Tonks tips her head very slightly to one side, the sharp line of her jaw tilting in a graceful curve to rest on one fist—a gloved fist, Fleur sees as she takes quick and quiet stock of the rest of Tonks’ uniform head-on. Tonks’ hair suffuses a soft pink, the last color Fleur can remember seeing it during one of those fly-by-night Order meetings so many years back, and Fleur takes a hurried sip from her glass to quell the feeling of unbidden dread rising like instinct through her esophagus.

“How long has it been, a year? Merlin, probably longer.” Tonks thanks the barman without looking at him as a stout glass floats over to settle in front of her. She nods at Fleur’s wine glass and tips the lip of her own out in offering. Tonks grins sideways, her large eyes smiling along. “Cheers, never expected to find you on St. Mark.”

Clinking their glasses together, Fleur pushes the white-noise hiss in her brain to focus on wondering faintly what the fine dark leather of Ministry gloves might feel like in her own hand. She doesn’t let her fingers slip to test it and settles instead for smiling her easiest disarming smile—she finds it slips just a tad with a tinge of bitterness. “Cheers. I never expected to be here.”

Tonks raises her eyebrows, the thick arches of them left dark in counterpoint to her bright, soft-looking hair. “What brings you?”

Chewing her lips together a little, Fleur sniffs a humorless laugh. “You first.”

“Easy, work. Investigating some moldering remnants of Death Eater bullshit.” Tonks swills a shallow mouthful of whiskey, sucking it past her tongue with a soft hollow of her cheeks. Vexingly, Fleur feels herself blush very faintly. “Now you.”

Fleur lets a thin, long sigh out of her nose, tucking and re-tucking a fall of hair behind her right ear as she stares unseeing at the weathered lip of the bar. She blinks quickly, allows several seconds to pass as they itch with an incongruent sense of hedonism, and turns back to face Tonks with the barest hint of reluctance. “I left my husband.” She takes another breath when Tonks only blinks; “I left Bill.”

A pause; “For good?”

“I—don’t know.” Fleur takes another sip of wine and tries to ignore the fact it feels good to be honest no matter how terrible the truth tastes. She shrugs as compulsion seizes her, drags her forward by the lips and teeth and tongue and she keeps talking. “I did not divorce him. We...I think we are okay, in the long-run, but he told me to go and take some time. For myself. I have not been feeling alright for a very long time, and so. Well.” She pauses, slightly out-of-breath for some reason. She takes another sip, tosses out another lopsided shrug. “Here I am.”

“Well. I’m sorry things aren’t...working, for you, but it’s nice. To see you, I mean, God, not that you’ve been having a shit time of it.” Tonks waves one hand in the air before her, fingers spread, expression pulling into something pained and apologetic. Fleur coughs out a chuckle.

“No, I understand. How have you been, I—I mean since…?” 

She picks awkwardly at her thumbnail and looks down again, away from the sharp beauty of Tonks’ face, and inwardly scolds herself for not being able to say it. Everyone else around her seems like they’re able to say it—since the war, the war, The WAR , there, two fucking syllables, why can she not bring herself to put them between her teeth and just say it? Fleur knows it’s because of the dead, the lost, the good-as-dead left behind; Fred, Remus, Sirius, Albus, on and on with a list that seems longer than time itself. Fleur clenches her jaw and fights against the tightness in her throat as she wills emotion to stay its clutch. Beside her, Tonks hums benignly.

“Not the best, in all honesty. It’s a bit difficult to raise a kid alone.”

Fleur turns to face Tonks so quickly her hair flicks sharply, her mouth open in a gasp. “Ça alors, I am such a fucking idiot, of course, how is Teddy?” 

To her surprise, Tonks throws her head back and laughs. “You’re not an idiot, Fleur. He’s fine, he’s almost three. He’s the absolute spit of his father.”

Equally touched by the ease with which Tonks says her name and the way Tonks’ gaze clouds just a bit with distant longing at the mention of Remus, Fleur chews lightly on her bottom lip. “Is he...the months, you know.”

Tonks’ gaze flashes, and her eyes change quickly to a bright blue that looks like an unintentional shift. “It’s as well as it can be, he’s still quite small. Mungo’s helps with that now, did you know?”

A stilted nod twitches Fleur’s head. “Ah, yes. Bill has been there, for the last few before I...left.”

The dry snort that comes from Tonks isn’t bad-natured as she shuts her eyes and pinches the bridge of her nose. “And I’m a terrible friend and completely forgot that you understand that all too well. Yes, of course.” She shakes her head to herself and sips another mouthful from her glass, tongue-first. Fleur averts her eyes again, why does she feel the compulsion to do that? It’s as though Tonks, unexpected gale that she is, is too bright of a thing to be looked at directly for too long. Fleur stares at the deep blue of her Auror robes, plush and fine and spotless as can be, and tries not to drum up memories of the two of them hiding in the mud outside of one Death Eater raid or another.

We used to be so close, the cloying pet of memories tolls with a small, crystalline song, singing the images of herself and Tonks curled up in one another in roadside inn beds when they couldn’t apparate back home after long recons or stealing quick, heated fucks in small places when both of them had been away from the rest of the Order for too long and could feel one another getting antsy.

You’ve told Bill, haven’t you? Tonks had whispered to her once, tucked into a utilities closet in the empty end of Leeds with a hasty silencing charm tossed up around them and one of Tonks’ nimble hands working its magic dipped into the front of Fleur’s open jeans; I can tell, you aren’t being dodgy about it anymore.

Tonks was right. Fleur had pressed for it that time instead of Tonks’ usual start to the flirting and just-barely-touching and come-hithering with all the right looks until the two inevitably fell together in a hapless tangle somewhere private, or just barely un-public enough to matter. Fleur nodded, narrowly avoiding bunting her forehead on a low shelf filled with linens. He—he likes it. He encouraged me.

Good man, that murmur from Tonks hot against her neck coloring each of Fleur lonely fantasies from then on for months beyond then.

Good man. Fleur doesn’t let her mind’s eye dance over the image of Bill saying goodbye— Good man— with the past colliding into the present now, or at least she hopes she doesn’t. She swallows tightly.

“How is work?” Chancing at mundanity, Fleur vaguely hates herself for the way Tonks smirks blithely.

“It’s work,” the reply simple as white cardstock. “Albeit, I’ll give you, a lot less stressful than raids and the like. All the hidey-holes we find nowadays have been empty for ages, we’re mostly just curse-breaking at this point.”

“You always were good at that.” Fleur tries flattery if simple blandness won’t work for comfort, watches Tonks’ expression carefully as she goes; “Nymphadora Tonks, master Auror.”

Tonks makes a sound around the lip of her glass, mid-sip, and her eyes change back to their usual soft brown. “Just Tonks nowadays. I—well, I guess it really has been some time since we last saw each other. I’m not a woman.”

Eyebrows up, Fleur can’t help but let her mouth open a little of its own volition in surprise. “Oh, should...you are a man then?”

For the first time since they’ve known one another, Tonks looks more than a bit sheepish. “Not really. I’m not either. In-between, if you will. Or rather, 'completely off the map' fits a bit better.”

Fleur nods slowly, her eyes narrowing slightly, needing the pleasant haze of very slight tipsiness to ebb off just a bit for complete clarity’s sake. “How should I call you, besides your name? Not ‘she,’ no?”

The smile Tonks gives her is surprisingly sweet, a cloudbreak of a thing. “Not she, no. I’ve been using ‘they,’ it feels more comfortable.”

“Do you still call yourself a mother, or do you prefer ‘parent’?”

“Morgana's minge, Fleur, you’re asking more in one breath than most people do in an entire conversation.”

“I am sorry—”

“No sorry, dove.”

That old nickname is unexpected, the spine of the deepest reaches of their past rising up as a surprise to both of them if the way Tonks’ hair flutters bright red and a deep forest green before returning to its feathery pink is any tell. Fleur looks at her— them, looks at them by accident with an open expression, her shock clear, and it takes a moment before either of them even seem to breathe for a moment.

“No sorry,” Tonks repeats with a short little clearing of their throat. They shift, robes whispering gently against the movement, and take another quick sip to down the rest of their whiskey. “I’m still ‘mum’ to Teddy, and I like being called a mother. Thank you for asking, truly.”

Silence threads through them in several long beats, the quiet pub feeling insufferably more quiet as it stretches on. Fleur musters up her gumption from the very bottom of her bravery—the reserves gone shallow and feeling near empty these days, spent and somewhat wasted it even seems sometimes in the tumult of catastrophe that never should have belonged to her—and finally turns to Tonks, studying the lines of their face and the soft way their hair falls in that ever-lively crop atop their head. “For how long are you here? For work, I mean, in Whitechapel.”

“A week,” Tonks says, looking steadfastly at the way their empty glass is turning around between their fussing fingers. Their mouth is a hard line that still manages to look soft, pliant— Stop looking at it. “I’ve already been here two days and I already got something nice for Teddy this morning from a little shop ‘round the corner, so all that’s left to do is just finish the job and get back to Ipswich.”

“How do you like it there?”

“Well enough. Where were you and Bill, Worthing?”

Fleur can’t help but smile, and it’s an honest smile—more of that honesty being dragged out of her by Tonks’ very presence, Fait chier! Stop fucking thinking so much. “Margate,” she corrects Tonks simply, setting her own empty glass on the bar and subtly refusing another pour when the barman nods over at the two of them. Tonks takes a second whiskey.

“I was close,” they insist with a mock toast and a small smile, a secretive smile, a sort of smile that dives right into the nestle between Fleur’s lungs and grips until she feels its pressure like a dull knife. Tonks downs the pour in one shot, pulling their lips back over their teeth with its bite before leaning on the bar beside them and fixing Fleur with the vexing softness of a look. “You always preferred the sea.”

Unbidden, Fleur dreams up the dregs of the last time she and Tonks were assigned recon together. Remus had just thrown himself into a risky rendezvous with a pack of werewolves outside of Oslo, Fleur and Bill had been married for just a few months, and she and Tonks were to post watch on a glamored fishing shack in Eyemouth that had been flagged as a potential escapee port for Azkaban prisoners. The two of them traded watch shifts, Fleur in the morning and Tonks at night, but they’d taken to stealing the known quiet patches of midmorning and afternoon after just a couple days to spend their time abed and lost in one another as though nothing could touch them out there.

I wish we could stay here, Tonks had told her once, naked and careless and smoking the last of Charlie’s weed—a wedding gift from him, along with a horntail tooth—both of them surrounded like a pair of deities by the kicked-up twist of thin flannel bedcovers.

Sometimes I wish we were the only two people in the world, Fleur had replied, soft and hazy and flayed down to her barest truth by her own calm high. Tonks had chuckled lightly to themself then, pressing one wiry, spell-strong hand flat against their lower belly. Fleur had watched the way their skin dipped ever so gently around their fingertips, risen dough spurred on by the heartbeat of closeness and longing and lazy sex.

I’m pregnant, their whisper threaded out delicate as spun sugar, just about a month-and-a-half.  

Fleur simply continued pulling her hand through Tonks’ hair, then a long mass of curls in its ever-changing texture and color to keep the nose of the enemy blind to their identity, and kissed their freckled shoulder. Congratulations, a sigh as soft as the sea air outside brushing along Tonks’ skin, nothing echoing alongside it in Fleur’s heart but earnest adoration. There had simply been no room for anything else.

“Do you want to come home with me?”

Tonks looks up at her sharply, their eyes bare with surprise and their cheeks pinking along with the blush of telling purple suffusing the roots of their hair. Fleur almost laughs but for the nerves making her veins hum like plucked strings, watching and daring not to say anything else lest the moment shatter. Forget hexing Death Eaters, forget staring down a dragon, forget turning her back on her husband in the face of her own destruction; this is one of the bravest things Fleur has ever done for herself.

After a moment, Tonks’ jaw flexes and their hair shifts into a soft ash-blonde. “It’s been a long time,” they murmur, their voice only for Fleur. Fleur’s heart clenches and she resists the urge to reach across and press her hand into one of Tonks’ gloved palms, lace their fingers together again after so long of steadily forgetting what that felt like once.

“Exactly.”

Tonks eyes her intently for another breath, a hawkish stare, before standing abruptly. Fleur’s chest squeezes with a sharp jolt, but Tonks gestures to the door with an open hand before Fleur can scramble to cover the moment with another fumbling apology. “Lead on then.”

Fleur pays both their tabs with jumbled handful of coins, almost trips when she stands, nearly melts when Tonks steadies her by the shoulder, and breaks into true laughter for the first time in months when she and Tonks meet eyes and can’t help but crack with the odd circumstance of it all.

This, perhaps, is what Fleur was meant to find— rediscover —on her own.

During the short walk to Fleur’s flat, it feels as though a levee has been kicked down between the two of them and neither could have quit the flow of conversation if they tried. They chatter as the air plumes its cold through their steaming breath, ripens the red on their cheeks—or is that the simple exertion of ecstasy at stumbling upon one another again? Tonks’ robes swirl in stately shapes around their boots as they walk, but their gait is easy enough to match Fleur’s longer-legged stride along the flat cobblestones. Fleur smokes a cigarette as they go, its bright cherry lighting the air between them as Fleur can hardly turn her face away from Tonks—those angles and shapes Fleur used to know almost by memory at the height of things, her fingertips nearly aching to reach out and touch the faint orange glow against their shadows now—and she reaches the filter with ash just as they mount the shallow steps to her walkup entrance. She stubs it out with the toe of her shoe, the scrape of it hyper-present in the dark.

Digging into her coat pocket, Fleur pauses when Tonks touches lightly at her elbow. She looks up as her heart hammers quickly with the contact. “What?”

Tonks wets their lips with a slow press of their tongue, the tip dragging steadily along the seam from left to right. “I’ve...missed you.”

Blinking once, wand forgotten for a moment, Fleur swallows. A neighbor’s dog barks in a quick rapport somewhere further down the street. “I have missed you as well.”

“I—” Tonks takes their hand away and pushes it into their hair, the short wisps of it dancing hectic between their fingers as though grabbing onto the rich, black fabric of the glove. “Shit. I don’t want to misinterpret anything, and I want to be clear here, do y—”

“I want to fuck, Tonks.”

Fleur feels the rest of her air leave her in a pitiful, noiseless puff. Tonks stares, pupils large as sickle coins, and works their lips around an ah shape twice before words come out; “You do.”

It isn’t a question, but Fleur hitches her slouching sable coat further up one shoulder and nods. “I do.”

Tonks heaves a deep breath and lets the hand in their hair comb back further, resting on the nape of their neck with their elbow in the air. “You should know, some...ah, things , are different.” They gesture vaguely at their chest, beneath the polished black horn buttons and double-breasted lapels of Auror officership. Fleur tracks the movement with a flick of her eyes, intent only on cataloging how fucking good Tonks looks in uniform. She pulls a face, a very French face, a committal face that still manages to acquiesce, and tips her head to catch Tonks’ averted gaze directly.

“As long as you are still Tonks, I do not give one shit what your body is like. There have…” She flutters her fingers through the air distractedly, grimacing lightly at the stairs at her feet. “There have been quite a few of many different people since Bill.”

The unmistakable stain of a very light blush tints Tonks’ cheeks and, as if it weren’t enough on its own, their hair follows suit with a deep burgundy that slips over the pink in a slow crawl from root to tip. Something about that strikes Fleur deep in her belly, and she charms open the door with a quick whisper before pushing it open. Tonks waffles slightly, glancing into the dark foyer and up at the second floor. Finally, they sigh with a sideway smile. “I’m game if you are, Delacour.”

Fleur steps over the threshold and makes a half-flourish to usher Tonks in as well. “Entirely.”

The short trek up to Fleur’s doorway is one great hold of breath, the prickling brightness in Fleur’s lungs seeming to spangle along her bones like some fresh type of magic dug up from the peat far beneath the city. Arrival, something deep in Fleur’s marrow whispers when she heels the door shut behind her. Tonks shrugs off their outer robes and hangs the whole blue mass of it on one of the few open hanger hooks fixed to the wall, which feels like its own kind of comfort. Fleur turns to hang the heft of her coat, facing the wall. 

“Do you want to talk about it first, dove?”

Fleur pauses—shuts her eyes briefly and takes a quick, stilling breath, willing the tremor of tenderness away from every one of her joints. “What, how we each want to come?”

She starts when a warm pair of hands settles on her shoulders, Tonks’ thumbs pressing gently into the places where she always used to get knots in her muscles during Order days. “That, eventually,” Tonks’ murmur so near it almost flutters the fine hairs at Fleur’s ear, “but more immediately what you’ve been dealing with the last several years.”

“The war ended, I made my home, I realized I felt stuck. There really is not very much more.” Fleur tries to keep the impatience from invading too closely into her tone, but she can tell Tonks feels it tightening in her shoulders when they push another soft roll of their thumbs into Fleur’s muscles.

“I think I know you better than that, and I think there’s actually very much more.”

“There is not, Tonks.”

“Fleur, my husband died. He’s dead.” Fleur stares into the dusk-black outlines of the flat cozied out before her, stuck standing in front of the door, struck still by the strength it takes for Tonks to exhume those words without their voice so much as wavering. Tonks’ hands shift and their thumbs tip up to knead lightly against Fleur’s nape and the atlas of her skull, an encouraging touch in the strangest, kindest way; “If you’re wrestling with even a fraction of the shit I had to parse, and I know for a fact it’s at least that much, you’ll want to talk about it eventually.”

Swallowing, Fleur breathes steadily through her nose and wills the emotion to stay far away  from the fore of her eyes. “I am afraid,” she finally whispers, “that if I begin talking about it, I will not be able to stop.”

“That’s alright.”

“There is so much of me that needs putting back together, Tonks, I—” Fleur bites down hard on her bottom lip, shuts her eyes against the threat of raw sorrow and the warm push of Tonks’ hands on her again after so, so long. “I do not want to deal with that tonight. I want to forget right now, I do not want to think backwards. Only forwards, only with you.”

Fleur turns, her hair catching long and smooth against Tonks’ gloves, and reaches up to take their hands and press them back down against the soft jut of her collarbone. “Can we do that? Please? Just for now, I promise I will talk later.”

The evidence of glassy near-tears must be showing in earnest, for Fleur watches Tonks quickly lose the battle with themself to stay intent on prying Fleur’s heart open just a titch further. They always were soft for Fleur’s tears, and Fleur used to turn arguments on a knife’s edge with them when they used to find themselves in rare spats of impasse. Everything has changed, and yet so much of us is still the same.

“We can do that,” Tonks finally murmurs. They slip one hand up to cradle the back of Fleur’s neck, the long curve of it fitting perfectly against the calfskin softness of Auror gloves. “Come here, then, won’t you?”

It feels so familiar, Fleur finds with a heady rush as she closes the distance and kisses Tonks, to fit together like this again. She shuts her eyes and opens her mouth slowly to invite Tonks inside, gasping lightly into the quiet of it, gripping hard around Tonks’ fingers beneath her jaw and then to the crisp fold of their shirt collar, their shoulders, the strong line of bracers running down their torso. Tonks pulls Fleur close as though there hasn’t been even a moment between now and the last time they did this far too long ago, remembering like an old favorite song how to hold her body just so to make Fleur feel adored in a way she could never seem to find elsewhere.

The two of them stand in the entryway for a long time pressed together, clinging to each other’s clothing as though their reunion is its own sort of gale, the clock in the kitchen ticking lightly and the city carrying on gently beyond the barely-open window in the sitting room. Tonks licks into Fleur’s mouth with singular intent, their tongue gentle and insistent all at once, and Fleur melts against the memories of the things that tongue used to do to her and nearly has her knees buckled to jelly after Merlin knows how many minutes crawl past of them kissing, kissing, kissing.

“Couch,” Tonks eventually asks against the bottom curve of Fleur’s ear with a soft huff, kissing up and down Fleur’s neck with slow and purposeful pulls of their tongue as though tracing a marble plinth shot through with gilded veins, “or bed?”

“Bed,” Fleur chants, pants, “bed, I want you in my bed again.”

They stumble backward, sideways, forward as the two of them refuse to separate, slipping through the only other door in the flat besides the rickety sliding door that shuts over the bath—Fleur gasps as Tonks presses her back against it to shut it behind them, sealing them into the purple-plush silence of the bedroom as Fleur tips up her head to let Tonks lavish their mouth along the bared expanse of her neck and chest. Tonks’ hands, gloves still on, slip up the flat of Fleur’s stomach beneath her sweater and rest to cup her breasts through her brassiere and hum sweetly against Fleur’s skin through a particularly indolent kiss.

“Merlin, I’ve missed you,” Tonks repeats, their breath thick with anticipation and every iron-hot intent lain into the etched surface of the feeling. They help Fleur peel her way out of the sweater, tangling her hair as it pulls over her head before tossing it carelessly to the floor, Tonks' hands slipping Fleur’s straps down her arms before expertly unhooking the band at her back and letting the worn, lacey piece flutter to the floor. Fleur’s throat catches on bliss as Tonks’ touch continues to be everywhere, waking her nipples with gentle passes of their thumbs and kneading her breasts with slow care. It’s almost too much, the onslaught of color and sensation that bursts behind Fleur’s eyelids when she shuts them and tries to hold in the pleading sounds that suddenly want to spill from her mouth into the air like wet splatters of paint— Touch me, she wants to whisper-say-cry-scream; Touchez moi, serre moi, lèche moi.

“Leave them on.” Fleur claps one hand down around Tonks’ wrist when she feels them move to take off their gloves, her voice a wild shear of a thing, her fingers trembling around the soft gap of authority touching ever so slightly at the bottoms of Tonks’ palms where the promise of warmth exists like a prayer. Tonks stares her down, shadowed by the half-moonlight seeping through the window, their expression hungry and intrigued.

“You’ve grown some new habits.”

Fleur swallows, naked but for her trousers and the press of Tonks’ hands, her body freed for the first time in too long in the place that isn’t the rush of an alley but the arrested gasp of the space she calls home. “I have taken time lately, to figure out what it is that I like.”

“Shall I fuck you with them on then?” Tonks breathes against Fleur’s collar, their tongue painting a long stripe across the milky jut of it as they speak, while their hands with the gloves left on get back to exploring Fleur’s breasts. Fleur struggles to begin undoing the buttons of Tonks’ shirt as her heart races sweetly and makes her fingers shake.

“Yes, please,” she murmurs. Her thumb slips, and she decides instead to just gather the fabric of Tonks’ shirt in her fists and untuck the crisp mess of fabric in one pull. Tonks’ bracers slide down and catch on their elbows, fixed by Tonks shrugging out of them one arm at a time until they’re left in a sleeveless undershirt that rims the impressive cords of their arm muscles like a picture frame. Fleur bites her lip, traces the backs of Tonks’ arms as though touching corded steel while she admires the powerful, muscled flat of their chest. “I like this.”

Tonks catches her in another kiss, a hand to the back of her head and a hot slide of their tongue in a welcome crush between Fleur’s lips. It sends her reeling in the warmest way, Tonks’ presence like a charm that scrambles every space between Fleur’s nerves into ecstasy—they pull back more quickly than Fleur is prepared for such that she chases the pressure of it when Tonks leaves that gap, only for Tonks to lift Fleur by the waist and sweep her easily onto the bed to lie flat on her back. Leaning overtop of her, shucking their shirt off with an easy tug up and away at the back of their collar, setting one hand to flick open the button fastens on Fleurs’ trousers in one motion, Tonks grins down at Fleur’s awestruck breathlessness; “Good.”

Bliss, distilled and velveteen, rushes up through Fleur’s body when Tonks’ hand slips down and finds the wet readiness of her pussy. The fawnish softness of the gloves pets her, parts her, begs her open with the tender push of Tonks’ middle and ring fingers, and their thumb circles and slides over Fleur’s clitoris in slow prods that strike with spell-strong accuracy; Fleur rakes her fingers into Tonks’ hair with one tense, spurring hand as the other scrabbles at Tonks’ back, shoulders, rear, thighs, pulling them impossibly closer as though there stood any space left between them untouched—”Oui,” she gasps as Tonks sucks one nipple into their mouth, the blush-pink of her areola fanned beneath Tonks’ plying lips as if in broad invitation, “fuck me, please, Tonks, yes.”

Tonks takes their time laving their tongue over and around Fleur’s breasts, nuzzling and sucking and licking while her fingers continue their tease along and into Fleur’s sex, before pulling back and looking down at where their hand enters Fleur with a hungry look. “I’m gonna go slow and long, dove,” their voice hoarse and strained with need, their eyes hungry and gold-sharp in the half-dark, and Ciel en feu, they’ve never looked more perfect in all their days across from Fleur—“I have too much time to make up for to rush it, yeah?”

All Fleur can manage to do is make a soft sound, half a plea and half a plain expression of every bit of holding-in she’s done over the years—emotionally, physically, magically all at once—as she stares up at Tonks and drinks them in. They’re together again, here in the same spot, leagues apart and yet sewn back together, as though their seams were snapped apart and then rewoven with a different thread; stronger thread, a thread twisted from the fibers of discovery and belonging and pain all at once. Fleur can hardly hold it all in, but then she doesn't have to. Tonks kisses her again, shifts their fingers just so to slip into her pussy, and Fleur gives over to the spangling surrender of sex.

Slow and long it certainly is—Tonks strings Fleur out like an unbroken strand of honey, drawing two orgasms out of her with nothing but their mouth on her nipples and their fingers inside her. Fleur is a trembling, mind-addled mess of perfection when Tonks finally folds down to their knees at the edge of the bed and takes Fleur’s trousers with them, sliding the flats of their hands up the ample barness of Fleur’s thighs as though praying to them once they’ve situated Fleur’s knees over their shoulders.

“You’re such a fucking wonder,” Tonks breathes into her skin, kissing Fleur on the hollow of her hip. Fleur tips her head up to look down the sated, salt-sweat skim of her body to watch Tonks in that hallowed vee of her legs, their face but a hand’s length away from her silk-wet pussy and their gaze burning up at her.

“Only with you.”

The smirk that seats itself on Tonks’ face is dry, distracted, as they slide one finger back into Fleur and watch it with almost idle interest. Fleur angles her hip up into it, wanting it deeper, and makes a small sound of protest when she doesn’t get it. “I doubt that,” Tonks murmurs distantly. They press a slow kiss to the skin just above Fleur’s clitoris, burying their nose in the thatch of straw-blonde hair curling there, and shut their eyes for a moment—Fleur can’t help but mirror them as another ceaseless wave of pleasure washes through her with the feeling of it. Tonks pulls off with a slow lick, a soft flick at the tip of their tongue; “You’re enough on your own, just standing there, going through the day, but like this? Here, with your pussy wrapped around my fingers and so fucking wet... fuck, Fleur, I want to fucking drown in you. Always have.”

“Lick me,” Fleur begs, back arched, body drawn to the heat of Tonks’ mouth again as though life itself flows from their breath, “I need you to fuck me with your tongue, please, Tonks, I—”

Cut off by the glory of Tonks’ tongue finally delving down onto the swollen apogee of Fleur’s clitoris, Fleur cries out with relieved need. She curls her fingers into the short hair at the base of Tonks’ head, digs her heels into their upper back as her toes squirm, and gives over to the long-forgotten eden of Tonks going down on her.

It’s as though their habitual falling together and coming apart never broke for even a moment as Fleur opens to Tonks’ mouth, remembering with a crash of sensation every blessed turn of that tongue along her sex that used to keep her up at night when she and Tonks didn’t find each other alone for longer than a couple weeks—touching herself secretly beneath the covers either just after or in leiu of sex with Bill, biting her tongue to keep from crying out softly as she would come hard into her hand and try not to tremble with it too sharply. The freedom of inhibition now, to grip at Tonks’ hair and arms and squeeze her thighs around them, to babble all the sweet nothings that have always been so hard for her to hold in, to arch and writhe and buck up into Tonks’ touch, is fucking intoxicating. Tonks’ tongue is unflagging, her gloved fingers beckoning and twisting as though they had never forgotten all the best angles inside of Fleur’s body, and Fleur finds herself pitching hard toward a third orgasm before she realizes it.

“Lièvre,” she gasps, her own old name for Tonks springing forth without intending it, “it—I—!”

Tonks makes an affirmative sound, an airy groan against the wet heat of Fleur’s pussy, and keeps their touch just where it is with unflagging intensity, their free hand digging with soft strength into the twitching swell of Fleur’s left thigh. Helpless to it, Fleur throws her head back—she wants to watch, she wants to look at Tonks as she comes again, but it’s too much; the here of it, the now of it, the overwhelming good of it, surges up through her and yanks Fleur backward into the white oblivion of climax.

She comes for what feels like forever, an endless round of pulsing perfection that passes through her entire body in burning-sweet waves. Tonks stays there against her sex, licking and touching and petting with softening pressure, until Fleur is a boneless puddle of panting satiation and Tonks is simply grinning up at her and idly petting one thumb over her clitoris every now and again.

“Arrête,” Fleur finally begs with a sharp twitch of her hips. Tonks chuckles and steadily rises to slide into a lean beside her, their touch soft and tracing reverently along the liquidy shape of Fleur’s thigh, hip, waist, breast, neck as it goes—Tonks meets her in a soft kiss with both of them settled against the hectic toss of the pillows at the head of the bed, Fleur’s own taste copper-sweet and musk-nosed on Tonks’ lips. Fleur takes her time enjoying it, licking softly along Tonks’ mouth, and gives them a dazed smile when she breaks back. “Did you drown?”

Tonks huffs a soft chuckle against Fleur’s cheek, hunting for her earlobe to pull it into a tiny nip between their teeth. “Only for a moment,” they whisper, “you dragged me back up.”

Again, they kiss—Fleur takes Tonks by both sides of their face and pours adoration between their lips while Tonks rolls their hips, trousers still on, against the curve of Fleur’s hip to grind steadily against it with a very gentle sound breaching their lips in a particularly indolent curve. Need shoots through Fleur, remembering all the ways she used to touch Tonks, but she stops herself before instinctively reaching down.

“How—are you changed there as well?” 

“Should be the same as you remember,” Tonks says with an impish quirk to their mouth, “a bit less in the hips though.”

Fleur kisses them with her own little half-smile, breathless, fucked to bliss and back and ready to give the same to Tonks, and slips her hand down to work at Tonks’ belt buckle with quick fingers. They get the clothes out of the way with a few kicks and fumbles, Tonks’ undershorts off in an insistent push that makes Tonks belly-laugh and Fleur giggle helplessly into the crook of their shoulder—”Shut up,” she insists, “I am excited.”

“You’re drunk on sex, is wh— fuck. Oh.”

Tonks cuts themself off with a gasp that sends their face into a gorgeous freise of surprised rapture, mouth falling open and eyes slamming shut, when Fleur reaches down without ceremony and slips their fingers along the slick crease of Tonks’ sex. They roll the rest of the way onto their back and let their thighs tip open, inviting Fleur to touch and stare and adore the sight of it—the glimmering wet of Tonks opening up to Fleur’s fingers, playing along every shape and fold and warm curve more than ready for Fleur’s attention.

“Can I…” Fleur wets her lips with a quick dart of her tongue and tries again, words failing her at the grip of need closing its fist around her throat; “Can I call it your pussy, or what should I…?”

“Call it my cunt,” Tonks murmurs, looking so intently into Fleur’s eyes that it nearly feels like they could reach down into her throat and pull her heart up with it in one go. Nodding once, Fleur sits up steadily and moves between Tonks’ splayed-open knees. She cups her palm against the mound of Tonks’ pelvis and presses her middle finger into their opening, smoothing her free hand along Tonks’ thigh and the soft layer of dark, curling hair peppered all along it.

“I want to lick your cunt until you are begging for me,” Fleur marvels faintly. Tonks grits their teeth and presses their face back into the bedcovers, a thrill-pained sound scraping out on a groan. Their sex grips in a warm ripple around Fleur’s fingertip.

“Fucking hell, Fleur, give me some warning,” they gasp. “‘M not used to hearing you say shit like that.”

“Is it bad?” Fleur pauses the crooking of her finger and the press of her thumb, and Tonks’ eyes snap open in a flash of ice-blue.

Fuck no, do it again.”

Fleur sucks her bottom lip between her teeth and smiles, slipping her wandering hand down under Tonks’ back to coax them up into a soft arch. “You are going to push your cunt against my tongue until you come as hard as I did,” she says gently. She guides Tonks’ legs up over her own shoulders, her hair tangling and catching under Tonks’ knees but not caring in the slightest as she rises up into a kneel and spreads her fingers wide over Tonks’ muscled chest, brushing one nipple with the side of her thumb; “I will make you so wet you forget your own name,” Fleur murmurs, the nearness and the scent and the feeling of being so close to Tonks’ sex again nearly making her knees give out against the mattress, “and I want to fuck myself with your cunt in my mouth.”

“Do it,” Tonks gasps. They slide one hand up Fleur’s stretched arm when Fleur tweaks their nipple again, the soft leather of the gloves still on their hands doing riotous things to the heat pooling again quickly in Fleur’s own arousal, and Fleur sets her mouth to Tonks’ cunt to revel in the high of being there again after such an achingly long time away.

She had forgotten in the interim what sweet sounds Tonks makes when they fuck. Tongue buried in Tonks’ sex, one hand nimble on her own pussy, caressing and petting and stroking the planes of Tonks’ body, Fleur thrills in the angular and airy melody Tonks weaves with their cries as the pitch of their limit mounts, mounts, mounts by Fleur’s bidding. They sound like heaven, and they taste of divinity itself. 

Fucking— oh, Fleur, right there, ha—h!” Tonks claps a hand down on Fleur’s elbow, unable to reach Fleur’s hair to pull it gently at the root like they used to love to do when the two of them first started fucking—splayed out, supporting their weight on their upper back with their hips in the air and the lower half of their body aloft on Fleur’s shoulders, Tonks quivers with the threat of imminent release after an eternal swirl of pleasure passes through the stillness that surrounds the bedroom. Fleur goans against their cunt—slippery with wetness and saliva and pulsing blood-hot, pleading, needing, seeking—and speeds the pace of her fingers on her own pussy, focusing her middle finger on the wet bud of her clitoris, raw and slick and spangling with arousal. She doesn’t stop, doesn’t pull back to speak her encouragement, but instead breathes hard through her nose and moans again onto the velvety feast of Tonks’ sex. Tonks, panting, nods wildly against the bed as their hair cycles in a psychedelic chaos of colors that never stays for long enough on one shade to stick.

“Yeah,” they gasp, their body shaking like a bowstring, muscles flexed tight as they tip their hips up to get ever closer to Fleur’s mouth, “yeah, yeah, yes, Fleur, oh, fuck, I’m—I’m gonna fucking come, Fleur, I’m gonna—fucking come…”

Another breath, two, three; Tonks takes a sharp gasp and holds it with a high keening whine for just a shred of a moment before they break—their cunt pulses around Fleur’s tongue, wetness surging forth in a soft seep along Fleur’s lips, and Tonks shudders with a cry, orgasmic and rich, as Fleur sees them through. Her fingers twitch hectic over her own dripping wet readiness, the rhythm of her touch stuttering, breathing hard against Tonks as she follows through and blindly seeks the fourth and final oblivion left inside of her tonight. 

“Come on, dove,” Tonks encourages her, still swirling in the tidepools of their own arcing climax just moments later, their thumb making soft circles on the inside of Fleur’s elbow, and that’s what truly does it; the softness, the tenderness Fleur has been missing for far too long to track now, punching straight to her core and ripping vulnerability out with it in one fell swoop. Fleur pulls back from Tonks’ cunt and shouts, her head thrown back and legs locking to keep her upright, as she comes once more, spilling in shaking relief while she grips the heel of her hand hard against her clitoris and curves the two fingers deep inside her vagina to press hard against the sweet spot just beneath their tips. She shuts her eyes and presses the slightest bit harder against the pulsating intensity inside her, moaning up to the ceiling, mouth open, begging herself forward toward something she can’t even see in the chaotic tumble of her mind’s eye, but there, she finds it—Fleur shouts, a broken cry, more of a yelp as it takes her by rhapsodic shock, and the sharpest sense of relief floods her like a rogue wave as she ejaculates against her hand and her thighs and the sheets beneath her.

“Holy fuck.” The fogged recognition of Tonks marveling at her just barely breaks through Fleur’s consciousness but she manages to open her eyes and lock gazes with Tonks as she bottoms out, shaking and dripping and heaving with most perfect exhaustion, still on her knees with Tonks held up on her shoulders. “Did you just... come- come?”

“I—think so,” Fleur finally pants. She buckles and awkwardly manages to shrug Tonks down into a comfortable position on the bed. Tonks shifts as soon as they’re down, guiding Fleur onto her back and helping fold her shuddering limbs into an even sprawl, and they gingerly hold Fleur’s wet hand by the wrist once Fleur is relaxed and catching her breath.

“Can I?” Tonks murmurs. Fleur blinks, catches their intent, and nods—her blood still thrumming fast in the high points of her body is the only thing that keeps her from blushing. Tonks sucks each of Fleur’s fingers into their mouth, one by one, laving every knuckle and nail with encompassing drags of their tongue in the tight o of their lips. Fleur watches in helpless enchantment, whining softly to herself with each digit. Tonks’ gloves, still on and fairly sodden with the evidence of their sex—nothing a good cleansing charm can’t fix right up, but presently all Fleur wants to do is take pride in the mess—are a perfect counterpoint to Fleur’s naked and glimmering skin.

“You are a dream,” Fleur finally mumbles as Tonks lays her hand back down and begins peeling their gloves off steadily. Fleur watches their skin and the strong cords of their bare hands come into view, the dark leather stripped away in a sort of accidental second foreplay, and begs her refraction to hurry its pace of this is the type of little thing in all of Tonks’ habits that begins stoking her reserves again. Tonks smiles that sideways smile.

“Takes one to know one.”

Fleur wants to refute it, insist that Tonks is the one who got Fleur to the point at which she could truly let go like that to begin with, but she finds exhaustion pushing too heavily at her edges to drum up the courage. Tonks stands and stretches at the foot of the bed, pulling a long bend through their side, and Fleur simply adores the way their muscles bunch and shift through the triangular column of their torso instead.

“Do you have towels?” Their eyes are bright in the dark, curious and fresh with clarity in a limpid green-blue, and Fleur’s heart swells.

“In the bath, the cabinet beneath the sink.”

Tonks leans over and takes Fleur by surprise to press a tender kiss to Fleur’s left temple. “I’ll get you cleaned up, wait here.”

The wood floor creaks faintly as Tonks steps back into their undershorts and pads out to the bath, gait sure and even, and Fleur is powerless to quit the burn that suddenly presses at the backs of her eyes. This, their ritual, Tonks putting her back together after sex tears her apart limb from limb in its glorious burst of unbecoming, is something Fleur hadn’t even realized she was missing.

Go find yourself, Bill had told her. Fleur feels the first hot trip of a tear break from her lashes, speed down the edge of her face and into the hectic white-blonde mass of her hair caught up beneath her head, as the faucet hisses down the tiny hallway. She had never expected, not even in the deepest wells of self-reflection in all the different ways she had tried to dive into her depths, that Fleur’s fiercest sense of self might have been tangled up in another’s viscera this whole time—heart, lungs, blood, bone, the whole of it.

She wants, Fleur realizes with a shock that makes her breath jump with a quiet sob, to tell someone she loves them. She wants it to be Tonks.

The squeak of the sink shuts, Tonks’ footsteps grow near again, and Tonks arrives through the doorway. They set the damp-warm towel between Fleur’s legs and kiss her gently on her shoulder, and Fleur hides her tears in the sharp angle of a shadow through the window.

Go find yourself.

She holds it in. There will be time to dig later, but for now she’s at least found the part of herself where she might someday sow a garden.