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Epitaph of a Good Man by toomanycurls
Chapter 14 : The Sky is Falling
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 11


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It was a little over a week after Valentine’s Day that Harry’s interview came out in The Quibbler. No one in the Order knew he gave an interview, much less to a magazine like that. I was proud of his courage to tell everyone so many intimate details of what must have been one of the most painful nights of his life. At work, there was quite a buzz surrounding the article. I couldn’t give my all-out support for Harry; I thought it’d be a little suspicious. I tried to be as on the fence as I could. Scrimgeour soon announced that tabloid-esque magazines, such as The Quibbler, are not to be read at work, and if we wanted to spend our days gossiping about so-called news, we could do so seeking another job.

I saw that Macnair’s name in the list of death eaters. I wondered if he would be investigated for this. I highly doubted it, but it did increase my bitterness as I was investigated for merely dating someone who once associated with someone who was a criminal, in the Ministry’s eyes at least. I passed Macnair in the Atrium later that day; he was bashing Harry. I caught words like delusional and asking for trouble. I hurried to Grimmauld Place for our meeting that night. Quite a few members of the Order were already there. I saw Remus come in as I was putting my cloak in the closet. He said a quick hi and breezed by me without any of our familiar signs of affection. I felt a slight pang of disappointment, but he was probably in a hurry.

Then I realized that most of Order didn’t know we were really dating. I wondered if he was ashamed of dating me. I shrugged that feeling off and went downstairs. Remus was wedged between Kingsley and Hestia Jones. I sat next to Sirius, nudged him and glanced at Remus. He shrugged but whispered, “I have no idea.” I held back a nasty glare; I didn’t like dredging up arguments in front of people. 

Kingsley and Moody led the meeting. Moody told us all to have a mild, but shocked response about the article when in large groups. However, when in a one-on-one conversation we could confess that we believe his story and try to convince people that Voldemort is back. Moody pointed out that Harry would be in danger at school, not from outside, but from the children of the named death eaters. I asked if we should put a person from the Order there; Moody said that Snape and McGonagall would suffice… not to mention Dumbledore. I smiled and muttered something about using Floo Powder before lighting a fire. “It seems you know all about that,” Moody said, the corners of his mouth twitching.

Kingsley gave a talk on the Ministry’s plan to remove Dumbledore from office. He said that they’d have to catch him doing something quite horrendous to justify that line of action, but Fudge is trying. Kingsley said that Fudge has him on-call in case they have any trips to Hogwarts for any incidents that might come up. When the meeting adjourned, Moody lingered for a few minutes. I wondered if he took my comment as flirtation. I know I didn’t mean it like that, at least not consciously. Remus went upstairs to see everyone out. Sirius gave me a hard look. “Was Moody your Person B?” 

I didn’t know what to say… that seemed like a different life, a different me. My silence confirmed his suspicions. “Please, don’t tell Remus… It was just a, a passing fancy.” I gulped. Sirius didn’t look like he wanted to tell his best friend who the last man had been. “Anyways, it doesn’t seem Remus wants to have a public relationship.” My voice sounded unusually harsh.

Sirius sighed and said that’s something Remus and I would have to hash out. Sirius went upstairs, leaving me alone in the kitchen. I made myself a cup of tea, a habit I picked up from Remus. I didn’t realize I was crying until I saw the ink bleed from the article I was reading from The Quibbler. Remus came in the room a bit later; he looked tired. “Are you alright?” came his gravelly voice. I wiped my eyes on my sleeve. Remus sat down next to me. “I’m sorry about tonight… I… I didn’t know if we wanted to be open about our relationship.”

I thought that was a lame explanation. “So, you’re fine being with me when we’re shagging or out in the muggle world, but around our friends and people we know it’s all of a sudden secret? I feel like I’ve gone from your girlfriend to hallway whore in the matter of a meeting.” Remus looked taken about by my sharp words.

“No, that’s not it at all.” He had a hurt look on his face. “I didn’t think it was prudent to… well, the Order is trying to stop Voldemort, it doesn’t seem right that we use it as our dating field.” I didn’t quite follow his logic. “We’re supposed to be fighting Voldemort and I thought it’d look bad if they knew we—if they knew that are a couple.”

I raised my eyebrows. Remus hadn’t used the peer pressure excuse before. “Remus, we’re either together or not. I don’t care if the whole Order knows I love you; they’ll get over it. Half of them know already!” I said thinking of Molly, Arthur and Kingsley. Well, not quite half. “I don’t think the rest of them would be that surprised if they found out,” I said gesticulating wildly.

Remus opened his mouth, closed it, and then said in a shallow voice, “You’re right. I’m a bit of a fool when it comes to these things. We’re a couple and it shouldn’t matter what other people think.” Remus sighed; I could tell he was angry with himself. He rubbed my cheek gently. “I love you, Tonks.” A few more tears leaked out of my eyes.

“I love you too, Remus.” I sighed deeply feeling that Remus would always be at odds with himself over our relationship. Remus tried to reconcile things in the bedroom, but I wasn’t up for it that night. Instead he held me tenderly and told me he loved me.

Remus, in an attempt to prove he could be mine in public, took me out to lunch at a café that people from the Ministry frequented. Remus and I sat near the window, we could see the muggles passing; they were unaware of the restaurant. We split a sandwich and a bowl of soup. We chatted away lunch and he even walked me back to Auror Headquarters. We passed Scrimgeour and Dawlish, both of whom regarded us with nasty glares. Remus kissed me on the cheek when we were at my cubicle. “I’ll see you later tonight,” he said softly. Maybe I’m a bit flippant, but his public display of our relationship made me feel a lot better about us. Dawlish gave Remus another sneer and it sounded like he said something to him, but nothing came of it.

It was Remus’ birthday soon after that. I wanted to do something special for Remus. He was always thinking of little ways to show his love, I wanted to do the same for him… but bigger as it was his birthday. I made another desperate trip to the Weasley’s house to scrounge for ideas. Molly and I sat for a cup of tea in their living room. I told her that Remus’ birthday was a little over a week away and I didn’t know what to do for him. She and I both agreed that it wasn’t enough time to knit him something and another drawing would didn’t feel right either. Arthur walked by and said all men love home cooked meals.

Molly and I exchanged overwhelmed looks of apprehension. Molly taught me an easy dinner, lemon chicken, fancy rice, carrots with white wine and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Molly was kind enough to do the strawberry shortcake for me. I made the lemon chicken for Arthur and Molly one night. They both said it was really good. I felt somewhat optimistic about pulling this off.

I woke Remus up early on his birthday. We had to work that day, so I had to get some Birthday fun in before work. I woke him up with a lascivious kiss. He was smiling with his eyes closed. “Happy Birthday, mon amour,” I said biting his neck gently. Remus let out a low moan and kissed be back gently. He and I were late to work which the first time in a while I should add. We rode the elevator together holding hands. Before I got out at my floor, I leaned into him and said, “Meet me at my place around seven.” I squeezed his hand before leaving.

We had a great night together. I took half the day off and prepared the meal and the ambiance. I did get Remus a book for his birthday. I had caught him admiring a book on Magical Sights in Spain a while back. The book was neatly wrapped (another area Molly helped me out). I had it resting on the counter next to a vase of flowers. Remus got to my flat right at seven. Dinner was almost ready. I had spent a good deal of time cleaning up. Remus looked around the apartment and noted how nice it looked. I grinned. “The food smells good too.” He was about to ask where it was from when he saw the pots and pans. “You cooked?” He asked with a smile that didn’t quite cover his look of uncertainty.

I kissed him and gave him his present. He blushed and said thanks. Remus always blushed when people bought him gifts. He opened it and let out an excited, “Oooh, I’ve had my eye on this book.” We sat down to dinner a short while later. The food wasn’t that bad; Remus really seemed to like it. Afterwards I excused myself to the bathroom and came out in a cute baby doll. He hadn’t seen me in any sort of lingerie before. The moment would have been extremely seductive if I hadn’t tripped over my shoes. Remus was enthralled nonetheless. “You have no idea what you do to me,” he said kissing me eagerly. He later told me that I was his best birthday present to date. I pushed his shoulder playfully saying the whole night had been the present.

Remus and I slipped back into our comfortable groove while Sirius was slipping back into a brooding mood. We spend a lot of time with him to cheer him up. Sirius really wanted to go and show his support for Harry. Some nights all we could do to keep him from running off to Hogwarts was to remind him that the dementors still had a kiss stored up for him. Sirius’ mood would change with the ease I change my hair. He kept Remus and me on our toes.

It was a little over a month before Remus and I had another spat equal to the one we had over the Order meeting. Remus and I were… well in the throes of passion when there was a loud noise downstairs. Sirius was in a state of utter intoxication and safely tucked in bed. We put our robes on and went down, wands drawn out. We didn’t bother to look presentable, Remus and I were drenched with sweat; we had the obvious look of two people who were interrupted having sex.

Dumbledore was in the entranceway riffling through his pockets for something. He looked up as we made the steps creak. “Ah! Nymphadora, Remus. How great to see you.” We had rather dumbstruck looks on our faces; we hadn’t seen much of Dumbledore at all much less at this time of night. “I have been, well, removed from my position at Hogwarts- for the time being that is. Would you like to follow me into the sitting room so I can inform you?” We followed Dumbledore forgetting the awkwardness. “First, let me apologize for the lack of warning to my arrival.”

Remus, who was blushing a deep color red, said, “No need… we shouldn’t—” Dumbledore waved a hand as if to say it wasn’t a big deal. I wondered what Remus was going to say we shouldn’t have been doing.

”If I recall correctly,” Dumbledore said with a smile, “your time at Hogwarts never included the Headmaster finding you in this sort of compromising situation. I am quite relieved to finally have seen you have some fun. Even more relieving is to see that you’re still finding ways to enjoy yourself, Nymphadora.” I felt my neck burn red. Thankfully, Dumbledore went on without any more references to youthful indiscretions.

Dumbledore filled us in on how Harry was caught teaching a group of kids Defense against the Dark Arts and Dumbledore took the heat. They had named themselves Dumbledore’s Army and Fudge took that to mean that they were truly his army. Fudge, Dawlish, Percy, and Kingsley were there to arrest Dumbledore. I almost cheered when Dumbledore said he had to take them down. Well, I liked the idea of someone taking Dawlish out. Dumbledore planned on going on with his work for the Order, but he’d be discreet about it.

Remus looked grave when Dumbledore left that night. We were to inform the Order on the events of that night. The way information was passed was quite simple. We’d send a patronus with our message to one person who would send it to their person. We decided to tell Sirius about it in the morning, when he was a little less intoxicated.

Later, when the discussion about Dumbledore’s expulsion died down, Remus asked me about the Headmaster’s ambiguous statement about me still enjoying myself. I thought he’d ask about that sooner or later. I laughed, it was quite a memory… or well, series of memories. “Well, the first I got caught snogging was with,” I felt my cheeks get hot, “Stan Shunpike.” Remus coughed. “Yes, the conductor on the Knight Bus. He and I were in the hallway near the kitchens. He was a horrible kisser.” I went on to describe the situation. It wasn’t as dreadful to explain as I thought it’d be.

Remus had a benign smile on his face. “That was the first time? So there were other incidents?” I could tell this was quite amusing to him so I went on to tell him the time Charlie and I were caught in the Quidditch Pitch. He and I had quite a passionate and physical relationship. I went on about a few other guys. Remus looked slightly taken aback by the amount of guys I was fooled around with at school. “It seems you are a lot like Sirius.” He paused for a moment then said, “Did you love any of them?” Remus sounded a bit harsh. I bit my lip; I thought Remus would be a little more understanding.

“It wasn’t about love with them. I’ve told you this before, but you’re the first man I’ve pursued for something more than a causal relationship… the first I’ve really loved” I felt that Remus was reevaluating me and it was quite unfair. He had said he wouldn’t think any different about me no matter what my past was. “What are you thinking?” I asked tentatively.

Remus sighed; his face was unreadable. “I struggle with being the first man you’ve felt this way about. It makes me feel so… decrepit from being your first.” I let out a cold laugh; Remus really did get caught up on the strangest things.

“I think most people would be… honored, proud, touched… something other than ashamed to be someone’s first. Besides, you’ve been perfect.” I smiled sleepily. We went to bed shortly after that getting up after a few hours sleep. Remus had the pleasure of informing Sirius that he slept through Dumbledore’s visit. Sirius was deeply troubled by the news of Dumbledore’s expulsion from Hogwarts. He didn’t act out or hint at rash behavior- not overtly at least.

Remus didn’t broach the past boyfriend topic. He seemed to come to terms with the idea of me having a history and, for the most part, kept his work about not seeing my any differently. Remus, Sirius, and I were busy being the liaison between Dumbledore and the rest of the Order. Sirius did become slightly more agitated as time went on; he felt like a note taker and a passive participant in the action. He talked about leaving at every meal.

I thought Sirius’ rash behavior reached an all-time high until Harry talked to Sirius and Remus in the fire. I was a bit taken aback when I got to Grimmauld Place that night. Remus and Sirius were both puffy-eyed and talking in low whispers. I asked if everything was alright; the first thought that came to mind was that someone had died. Sirius had a hard look on his face and didn’t say anything to me.

“Harry came and talked to us using floo powder,” Remus started looking slightly pale. “It seems that things are a lot worse at Hogwarts than we thought. Snape stopped Occlumency and” I interrupted with a sharp why.  Remus grimaced, as if he was mad at himself for something. “Harry saw a memory of Snapes and it made James look really…”

“Made him look like a git. We were picking on Snape; granted, he deserved it,” Sirius said in a hallow voice. “That was the first Harry’s seen of his dad and…” His voice cracked slightly, “He came out of it seeing James as a bully and felt sorry for Snape. It’s all my fault.” Remus shook his head and grabbed Sirius’ shoulder in the kind of way guys to when they want to hug, but their either sitting or too cool for hugs.

“How is it your fault?” I asked, furrowing my brow. I could see how Harry would feel bad for Snape is his dad and his dad’s best friends were picking on a professor, but I didn’t think it’d forever tarnish his image of his father. I hoped not at least.

“We were all there,” Remus said stating the obvious. “Sirius had said something about being bored, then James saw Severus and started our confrontation.” Remus sighed heavily, “If anyone has fault in this, it’s me. I was a prefect. I could have stopped it.”

I couldn’t believe they were both being so unbalanced about this. It was only a memory. They were only kids at the time it happened. “I think you’re both taking your actions at the age of what? 15? A little too harshly. You’re both different people now; James matured so much after that. I’d assume at least. He did get married after all. And what are we going to do about Snape not teaching Harry Occulmency? I could go and—”

“No, I’ll go and reason with him,” Remus said throwing a sideways glance at Sirius. “I think he’ll resist…but I have to try.” Remus did go to Hogwarts that night. He went in the same fashion I had. He used the floo from my house and popped into Snape’s bedroom during sleep hours. Remus didn’t use the same tactics I did. Apart from pouring ice cold water out of his wand onto Snape’s bed, the visit sounded absolutely civil. Remus highly doubted that his trip had any effect on Snape’s behavior.

I was quite tempted to go and visit Snape while Remus was transformed that month. I wanted to see if I could persuade him more effectively than Remus. I decided against it. Remus seemed to know I was up to something. He stayed up most of the night and slept half on me. When we woke up in the morning I asked him if he was trying to keep me in bed the previous night. He answered me by asking if I was trying to get out of bed for any particular reason. It seemed that Remus and I spent less time together that morning than we usually did after a full moon. He did a song and dance about needing to finish some work. That would have been normal if it weren’t a Saturday.

I went straight to Grimmauld Place that morning. Sirius was in a surly mood. I noticed that he had the lingering smell of alcohol seeping through his skin. “Have you eaten?” I asked taking in his face which had been getting thinner over the past months. Sirius shook his head. “I’ll whip up some eggs,” I said cheerily. Sirius usually would have said something about the dangers of me cooking; instead he looked around as if Remus would pop out of the wall and offer to cook instead. “I don’t know where Remus went this morning. He said he had some work to finish up. He’s never had to go in on a Saturday.” I was looking for the pots and pans I needed. “D’you know where he went off to?” I asked while stirring the eggs together. I could only manage scrambled eggs. Sirius shook his head and looked genuinely baffled about Remus’ absence.

Remus popped in later that afternoon. I was tempted to grill him about his outing, but I didn’t want to seem like the obsessive type. I was curious about the sly smile that played on his face the rest of the day. We stayed at Grimmauld Place the rest of the night. Neither of us felt comfortable leaving Sirius alone for extended periods of time. Kreacher was acting out of sorts too. I thought that the house had a maddening effect on its inhabitants. I wondered if Buckbeak would start to rampage next.

The week passed by rather quickly. Nothing came out of Remus’ mysterious disappearance. I thought he might have divulged his whereabouts to Sirius who kept hinting at something big and life changing coming up. Sirius didn’t do this when Remus was in the room. I thought maybe Sirius was planning on going out and trying to prove his innocence. Remus was acting a bit strange, but I thought it was from prolonged exposure to Grimmauld Place. I pushed it to the back of my mind; everyone can act off beat once and a while.


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