The Unexpected Visitor

Chapter 12

The next several weeks went by in a flurry of activity that Rose didn’t realize when February had already arrived, along with her next surprise for Sirius. It had taken some time for everything to be arranged, but when the day finally came, she was happy on realizing that coincidentally it was Valentine’s Day… or as she liked to call it, Love Day.

“How exactly did you manage to pull this off love?” Sirius asked Rose as he stood with her in the basement, admiring his gift in a wonderstruck awe.

“I asked Dora, she asked Moony and he asked Hagrid.” Rose explained, watching him and smiling brightly; this gift definitely was truly special and she was glad that after weeks of planning, somehow Hagrid had managed to get it here.

“Well that explains a lot.” He said, never once breaking eye contact, “I cannot believe you thought of this.” Clearly, Rose was still very good at giving him surprises every now and then, surprises which were meaningful, close to his heart, things which were once lost had been returned.

She didn’t have to say anything in reply to that because just seeing his happiness was all she needed. After the Christmas party, things at Grimmauld Place had remained cheerful, Arthur had returned a little while after the New Year and even once Harry had left for Hogwarts again, Rose made sure she did her best to keep Sirius’s spirits up… something that he seemed to have thought of for her as well… having realized that this was her first proper holiday without her family, Sirius took it upon himself to do more fun things with Rose; they started building blanket forts, drawing lessons side by side, having pillow fights at night, and now this was something else they could work on together.

“Thank you, Rose.” Sirius turned around to face her at last, and held out a hand to show her just what this gift meant to him.

“You’re welcome!” Rose took his hand and walked down the steps into the basement where the gift stood.

It was his old motorbike, black in color with the sidecar still intact and possibly with the ability to fly even after all these years. Sirius could clearly remember the last time he had seen this bike, the night he gave it to Hagrid to transport Harry away from Godric’s Hollow, but to have it here now, he couldn’t believe that Rose had brought it back to him.

“Well… let’s see if this thing still works shall we?” All examinations aside, Sirius decided to get started.

The bike’s condition was fairly decent considering that Hagrid had kept it in storage for the last fourteen years, a little cleaning and repainting, some polishing and re-shining, that was all they needed to do really. And to check if it could fly as well. Rose was ready for whatever Sirius asked of her; this was definitely more fun than spending all afternoon in the kitchen…

“Oh no!” She gasped out loud in surprise when she remembered something very important that they had forgotten.

“What is it love?” Sirius asked her, having just removed his jacket and rolled up his sleeves.

“The cookies!” Rose exclaimed; she and Sirius had woken up early that morning with the plan to bake cookies in honor of it being Valentine’s Day. And chocolates too. Those were finished first and had been left to cool, but their cookies were still in the oven?

“Ah…” His eyes widened in surprise as he realized that there was a chance the cookies were in danger of being burned; the two of them had left the kitchen a half hour ago when Hagrid himself came to deliver the motorbike, leaving the cookies behind.

As quickly as possible, they left everything on the floor and began to head for the kitchen when both Sirius and Rose bumped into Tonks who stood at the top of the staircase.

“If you’re off to the kitchen to save the cookies then don’t worry, I took care of it.” Tonks said to them happily, “I just got here and heard the timer; they’re safe, not burned.” She explained hurriedly.

“Oh, thank you Dora!” Beaming brightly, Rose hugged the older woman and felt very relieved now.

“No problem Rose… am I interrupting something?” Glancing between the two, Tonks noticed that the two of them were already covered in dust.

“You should know since you’re the one who arranged for my bike to be brought back.” Sirius pointed out with a grin, “Thanks for that by the way.” He said to her.

“Well that was all Rose really, I just helped her.” Tonks smiled her cousin feeling glad to see that he was happy.

“We were just cleaning it and checking to see if it still can fly.” Sirius explained as he rested a hand on Rose’s head and brushed away some… wood shavings she seemed to have picked up on her shoulders.

“That sounds like a good idea.” She knew that it wasn’t possible for the bike to be used outdoors but now that Sirius had it with him, at least being able to work on it was still something.

“Will you help us?” Rose suddenly piped up as she turned to Tonks.

“I’ve never really been good with bikes.” Laughing a little at that thought, Tonks explained her reason for showing up there all of a sudden, “I just came over to see what you two were up to today.”

“Not much, it is Valentine’s Day though.” Sirius stated the obvious and met her fierce glare.

“So?” Tonks stood where she was and wondered where Sirius was going to take this conversation next; there was a feeling in her heart, but it wasn’t dread… was it… hopeful?

“So… don’t you have any plans cousin?” He prodded her a little, wondering if there was something she would tell him.

“No, I don’t.” She crossed her arms over her chest and did nothing to hide the change in her tone.

“What about any secret admirers? Or co-workers?” There was a hint of that cheeky smirk on his face as he spoke.

All the while, Rose simply stood there quietly glancing between the two adults, watching as they talked to each other in a very confusing way; she didn’t yet understand what the idea of subtle and indirect conversations as this meant, but she knew when to stay silent and let this play out between Sirius and Tonks.

“Honestly Sirius, if you’re going to start talking about my love life then I should probably go back to the kitchen and make sure you haven’t left anything else to burn.” Tonks tried not to sound rude, but she really wasn’t in the mood for being teased.

“Well… the homemade chocolates do need to be checked on.” Sirius decided to mention that in the moment, hoping to alleviate the tension he could feel in the air.

“Okay then.” Turning around on her heel, Tonks was about to leave when Sirius caught her by the wrist.

“Wait wait wait…” He said, tugging her hand gently to make her face him again, “Dora, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have teased you like that.” It wasn’t very nice of him to have done that and Sirius realized he needed to apologize to Tonks.

“It’s fine.” She shrugged, but gave him a half-smile. Tonks didn’t know exactly how much Sirius knew about her dislike for this particular holiday, but she wasn’t about to cry over it either.

“No, it isn’t. I have something for you.” Sirius spoke softly, in a more kinder tone now to show that he meant what he was telling her.

“What is it?” Tonks was curious, it wasn’t her birthday today, but if Sirius had something for her, she couldn’t really refuse him.

“Rose, would you mind…?” Meeting the little girl’s gaze, Sirius gestured to her and watched as Rose realized what he was asking of her.

“Oh, yes!” Rose nodded her head when she understood; Sirius had left a small gift for Tonks down in the basement and she hurried back down the stairs to retrieve it for him.

It didn’t take long for her to return and when she did, Tonks barely had a second to notice what Rose brought up with her before Sirius presented his gift. A small bouquet of roses, one of each color - white, yellow, pink and red!

“Here you are Dora. Happy Valentine’s Day.” Sirius even bowed dramatically as he stood on level with Tonks at the top of the staircase, a real smile on his face.

“These are beautiful Sirius, thank you.” Tonks didn't know what to say, she appreciated the gesture and breathed the sweet scent.

“So… am I forgiven?” He asked her, exchanging a quick glance with Rose who smiled at him in reassurance.

“Yes you are dear cousin." Giving him a tiny kiss on his cheek, Tonks spoke to them both, "Why don’t you two finish up working on the bike, I’ll be here getting lunch ready for us.”

“Will do. C’mon my trusted helper, let’s get back to it.” Sirius accepted her offer for Tonks was always welcome to join him and Rose at any given time of the day.

“Okay!” Rose's excitement had returned immediately, she couldn't wait to work on the bike a little more.

True to his word, Sirius did ask Rose to help him while the two of them quickly descended to the basement and resumed their task of fixing up the motorbike; he had sat her atop the main seat and for the next quarter of an hour, she passed him the rags, the water, the wand that was needed to make it look as good as new. The sidecar which was separated to be cleaned on its own was re-attached now and there was nothing else left. Sirius seemed to be satisfied that they had done everything possible as he stood up and wiped his hands which were greasy and black and sweaty too.

“You missed a spot.” Rose pointed out, and got to her feet.

Whoa! What do you think you’re doing love?” Sirius’s immediate reaction was to hold her waist since she was trying to balance on top of the bike.

“Helping you.” She said and using a clean cloth, rubbed off a grease mark on his forehead.

“Thank you.” He grinned and kissed her cheek. “So what do you think? Shall we see if she can fly?” This was the moment that he had been waiting for all along.

“Yes please.” Rose had been extremely curious about witnessing her first ever flying vehicle upfront; she hadn’t seen anything that could fly up until now.

“Alright, here we go then.” Sirius walked over to the bike, but before he could do anything, Rose had climbed down from the seat. “Where are you off to now?” He asked her.

“I have to stand down.” She said, looking at him a little confused.

“Says who?” He stood there but didn’t wait for her to reply before he asked another question, “Don’t you want to sit with me when I start it up?”

“Yes I do, but…” This was the last thing Rose had expected to hear from Sirius; he was offering her a chance to sit on the bike when he flew it?

“But what love?” Kneeling down and taking both hands in his, Sirius met Rose’s gaze and gave her a smile.

“Is it safe?” She asked, knowing the basic rules of staying away from adult’s possessions.

“Yes of course it’s safe. You’ll be perfectly fine. I promise.” Sirius said, “I won’t let anything happen to you; and besides, we’re just going to lift off a few feet and that’s it really… nothing to worry about.” He explained, hoping to reassure her.

Taking a moment to gather herself, Rose turned around to look at the bike now that she was up close; it was big and open and had only two wheels unlike a car which was more of a box with windows and doors to keep everyone inside. But when she faced Sirius again and saw him patiently watching her, Rose realized something important - she trusted him completely. If he said it was safe then that was all she needed to hear. There was also the fact that they weren’t going to be leaving the basement either so the thought of being worried seemed a bit silly.

“I’m ready.” Her voice was soft but without any fear and Rose took Sirius’s hand in hers as he lifted her back onto the bike.

“Let’s do this then.” He sat down behind her, knowing that it would be easier for him if she was in front on the seat.

After doing a quick check of all the gears and flexing the handles, Sirius put Rose’s hands on his arms for her to hold before turning the bike on. There was a loud sputtering noise followed by an instantaneous roaring of the engine which was almost deafening for Rose clamped her ears shut and winced without screaming; it lasted but a second once Sirius flicked his wand and silenced the noise.

“Sorry about that. I forgot how beastly this thing got when it woke up.” Sirius touched Rose’s shoulder and saw her tilt her head upwards to look at him.

“It’s okay. I’m fine.” She rubbed her ears before giving him the all clear to go ahead and try it again; thankfully Tonks hadn’t come rushing down to see what had happened.

“Attempt number 2.” This time, Sirius made sure everything was quietened when he started the engine once more.

The bike purred to life now and felt familiar to him as he checked all the buttons, but not pushing any, this was not the time or place for experimenting; everything seemed normal and working smoothly and in a manner of seconds, Sirius had maneuvered it to start hovering not more than five feet from the floor, keeping it steady. This lasted for about thirty seconds, during which, he sensed Rose relax within no time and she even raised her hands to her sides and laughed at finally being able to experience something special. Before she knew it, Sirius landed the bike, a little trickier than he’d expected; flying a motorbike while not moving forward or even backward was one of those things he hadn’t done in a long time but he managed it successfully without any bumps.

“Wow.” Rose didn’t even wait for the bike to properly touch the basement floor as she spun around to jump into Sirius’s arms. “Can we do that again? I loved it!” She couldn’t remember the last time she had felt so… exhilarated; it was more than happiness, it was exciting and thrilling and wonderful.

“Ha, well we can do it whenever you want love… I’m glad you enjoyed that… but we do have to go upstairs for lunch now.” Sirius kissed her on the head, “Maybe later.” He promised her.

“Okay! Good.” The flying had lasted for a little time but Rose couldn’t stop feeling like she wanted to bounce and bounce.

“You certainly seem very relaxed now, if I didn’t know better I’d say that you have a good chance at learning how to ride a broomstick one day.” Sirius mused out loud, as the two of them stepped off the bike and made their way upstairs.

“Really?” Rose was excited by that prospect too. After all the stories she had heard about Sirius’s days of playing Quidditch and even from Harry, Ron and the Twins, she hadn’t really thought about doing so herself… until now.

“Maybe for your birthday… we’ll see.” That was all Sirius could say to Rose on the matter; talking about birthday gifts at this point could prove to be difficult if he accidentally let slip something about a surprise or two that he may have already set in motion for her.

“That is not far away.” She pointed out, but also knew in that moment she probably couldn’t count the exact number of days until her birthday without a calendar or something.

“No, no it isn’t. Less than two months now.” Sirius said with a grin.

“What’s two months from now?” Tonks’ voice floated out through the kitchen doors as they entered.

“My birthday!” Rose announced happily, she had started counting a few days on her finger just to see how far she got, but the smell of freshly baked cookies which Tonks had left out on the table distracted her. “The cookies are safe.” She ran over to sit down in her usual chair but didn’t touch the dish yet; lunch came first and then dessert would be served.

“Yes they are.” Smiling at Rose’s happiness, Tonks sat down beside her, “I may have… burned a little of our lunch though.” She added and hoped she wasn’t already blushing.

“Leave that to me Dora.” Sirius let out a soft chuckle as he walked over to where the food lay and began to see what could be salvaged.

While he was busy with their lunch, Rose took it upon herself to talk in as much detail as she could about Sirius’s flying motorbike to Tonks; the first thing she started with was the last part with them testing its flight skills. And at the mention of getting a broomstick for her birthday, Tonks merely exchanged a quick look with Sirius who was bringing the plates to the table, but Rose was too busy to notice anything and went on with her tale. However, just when the three of them sat down to eat, there came another guest as the doorbell began to ring all of a sudden.

“Oh no.” Tonks barely had the chance to whisper a soft groan before the screams of Mrs. Black began.

“I’ll deal with her, you get the door.” This didn’t happen very often, but Sirius figured it was his turn.

The two of them parted ways in the hall, Sirius going over to silence his mother’s portrait while Tonks answered the door. Rose who stayed behind, wondered if this was her chance to sneak a peek at the cookies to see how they had turned out, decided her curiosity about their unexpected arrival was more and so she tiptoed outside the kitchen towards the entrance. Tonks had opened the main door and saw something unexpected… Lupin was standing there at the threshold with a… bouquet of pink roses in his hands and a smile on his face which turned to surprise when he saw Tonks.

“Remus, hey.” She said to him as she stared at the dozen flowers and wondered if…

“Tonks! I didn’t expect to see you here.” Lupin gave her a smile as he stepped into the house, not knowing that his words disproved her sudden thoughts.

“Oh… yes, well… I had the day off and wanted to spend some time here.” Tonks replied as she moved aside to let him enter; the realization that these flowers were for someone else already struck her and though she felt an odd twinge inside, she ignored the feeling, trying to push it away.

“That’s nice…” He started to say and then noticed Tonks’ gaze on the flowers and in that moment understood what she must have thought when he said… “Oh, umm… these are for Rose. I thought she’d like them.” Inwardly, he felt ridiculous for not mentioning that from the beginning, considering there was a slight awkwardness in the corridor around them now.

“Hello?” Rose suddenly poked her head from behind the wall where she had waited, only for a few seconds before she heard her name.

“Hello Rose.” Lupin smiled when he saw her and held out the bouquet, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

“For me?” She walked to where Lupin and Tonks stood, and took the flowers in her hands, “Thank you Moony! Happy Love Day!” Reaching up to hug him, Rose kissed his cheek.

“Love Day, that’s a nice name.” He hadn’t heard this until now but did like the sound of it.

“Ah Moony, it is good to see you. This is a lovely surprise.” Sirius said as he reached the hallway having finished silencing his mother’s screams.

The two friends shook hands and when Sirius noticed that Tonks was unusually quiet, he took one glance at Rose, the flowers, and Lupin, getting the gist of what had just occurred. It was time for him to give them a moment together; which meant he had to steer Rose back into the kitchen for lunch after extending the offer to Lupin to join them.

“I’ll be right in.” First, he had to remove his jacket and while he did so, he sensed that Tonks was about to leave; his impulsive nature which was practically non-existent suddenly took over as he caught hold of her hand. “Tonks… I was hoping I could speak with you for a second.” He said softly.

“Oh! Yes, of course.” She didn’t know what to say to him, but now she could clearly feel her heart hammering against her chest as they stood only a few feet apart.

“I… I had something for you.” Lupin reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out something small, handing it over to Tonks without another word; it was a bunch of lilac flowers.

“Lilacs. They’re my favorite, thank you Remus.” Tonks hoped her eyes weren’t wide in surprise as she took the flowers… there were many questions on her mind… but she didn’t or couldn’t put words to them just yet.

“You’re welcome. I heard that they were your favorite, so…” Rubbing the back of his neck with one hand, Lupin didn’t know what else to say to her; it was Valentine’s Day but he had just given her flowers that weren’t roses and he didn’t know if she had thought the roses were for her or not.

“Well, we should probably join Sirius and Rose for lunch.” She broke the silence between them, “They’ve made cookies and chocolates too.” At least they could talk about something simple.

“Sirius sure has changed hasn’t he?” Lupin commented on hearing that his best friend was busy baking whenever the occasion arose.

“Yes and it’s all thanks to Rose. She’s changed him for the better.” Tonks felt comfortable once more.

“She’s changed all of us in some ways.” His voice was a soft whisper when he spoke, but Tonks did hear him clear enough to wonder what Lupin meant by that.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any time for either one to continue this conversation as they had entered the kitchen; over the next hour, the four of them were caught up in tales of Valentine’s Day celebrations at Hogwarts, more of Sirius’s own experiences than anything… but he also chose to tell Rose and Tonks all about James and Lily, how it took every possible attempt for James to win Lily’s heart. A little while later, the topic of discussion soon turned to Harry. Sirius mentioned that his godson had plans for the day at Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop in Hogsmeade with a Ravenclaw girl, Cho Chang; something he knew about because Harry had asked him for advice in the last letter they’d exchanged. And as they exchanged stories, they soon found themselves finally enjoying the heart shaped cookies with pink sugar frosting and milk chocolates for dessert which turned out to be quite delicious. Some time in the late afternoon, the talk eventually reached… love.

“What is love?” Rose asked Sirius as she settled down on his lap; they had moved to the study for drinks.

“Ah. That is a good question Rose.” Sirius pondered about it for a few moments, wondering what he could tell her, “Love can be many things, love between friends and family, love that is pure and true, love is kindness, happiness, unconditional… it’s… well it’s a feeling that can’t always be explained with words.” He said with a chuckle.

“I think that… love is layered, it’s a mystery to be uncovered.” Tonks answered next, smiling at the thought behind those words.

“Love is unexpected.” Lupin suddenly said as he spoke up, draining the last of his drink without looking at anyone in particular.

“I think love is magic.” It was a simple answer; something that Rose had been thinking about for quite some time now.

“Love is magic, that sounds perfect to me.” The idea seemed to ring true as Sirius leaned back against the sofa and closed his eyes for a moment, thinking about what Rose had said; for the first time in a long time, he had actually celebrated Valentine’s Day with his close friends and it had been… pleasant. Perhaps this is what love really was.

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