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Epitaph of a Good Man by toomanycurls
Chapter 15 : Breaking of a Heart
 
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A/N There are a lot of direct quotes from Order of the Phoenix in this chapter and subsequent Chapters. No copyright infringement is intended. I'll go through and indicate which lines are derived from the books.

 

It was that Thursday that we fought the Death Eaters at the Ministry of Magic. Remus, Kingsley, Moody and I were at Grimmauld Place with Sirius. It was a meeting to cheer up Sirius. The sight of Snape coming in broke up our get together. He didn’t look upset, injured or out of sorts so we were taken aback by his sudden presence in the room. “Ah, game night,” he said in a nasty voice. “I’m sorry I’ll have to break this up, but it appears that Potter and some of his friends have gone into the Department of Mysteries to look for Black.” Sirius’ face fell in disbelief. “The Dark Lord must have made Potter think he had you there. I’m sure it is a trap. Foolish boy. He has utterly failed in his Occlumency lessons.”

“You stopped teaching them!” Sirius yelled standing up. Remus looked angry but refrained from speaking. Snape sneered and told Sirius that it was Harry’s choice to discontinue his lessons.

“Shouldn’t we be off to the Ministry… a group of kids and a possible Death Eater ambush?” I broke apart the pissing match. The others grabbed their wands and headed upstairs. When I got to the stairway, I looked back. Snape was leaning close to Sirius, whispering something with a malevolent look in his eyes.

“I don’t think you have the gall to go and fight,” I heard him say with malevolence. I glared at Snape as he straightened up and said in a louder voice. “You need to stay behind to inform Dumbledore when he arrives. That’s all your good for anyways.” Snape left without another word.

Kreacher!” Sirius yelled. The old house elf appeared with a crack. Sirius told the elf to tell Dumbledore that we were in the Department of Mysteries fighting death eaters. The house elf looked oddly pleased. Remus didn’t voice the concern that was etched on his face. Kingsley met us on the stairs, he was headed back down to see if we were coming or not. The others looked slightly surprised to see Sirius headed out with us. They didn’t say anything either. I guessed they were relieved to have another accomplished dueler with us.

The Ministry was oddly empty when we got there. We rode the elevator down to the 9th level. It felt like a scene from a movie. We were all anxious, too much so to talk. The elevator moved as if it had been greased down with molasses. The voice from the elevator announced each level as we passed. Moody and Kingsley looked calm and mostly collected. Remus looked like a person who was wishing he had studied for five more minutes. I figured he always got that look before something important. Sirius looked thrilled; I was slightly worried by that, but I knew it was his first outing in months.

When the door opened we moved quietly towards the Department of Mysteries. Moody’s clunking leg was a bit of a giveaway. Then I put a silencing charm on it. Kingsley and Moody led the way. We weren’t sure where they’d be. We made our way towards what seemed to be the central room.

When we opened the door there were Death Eaters around Harry and another boy. We entered with at a sprint. I shot a hex off at Malfoy. I was pleased to see him jump out of the way. Remus and Moody fought their ways down the stairs. Sirius was halfway down when he met a Death Eater in a Duel. My aunt, Bellatrix, approached me with a vindictive gleam in her eyes.

“You filthy mudblood-traitor,” she said sneering. “Perhaps having you sent back in a box will teach your mother why she shouldn’t breed with mudbloods.” I shot off a few hexes which Bellatrix deflected.

I couldn’t think of a witty retort. I felt hatred surge through me. I couldn’t stand her self-righteous tirade about being pureblood. I aimed more hexes at her, hoping to cause as much pain as I could. She sent one last hex at me. It missed me but hit the stairs. Enough of the stone crumbled away that I fell. The first few blows were painful, after that I blacked out. I remember finally coming to a stop and trying to watch the fight go on.

Parts of the battle went in and out of focus. I saw Sirius dueling with Bellatrix in my place. Well, I didn’t see it, I heard them shouting. The next thing I remember hearing was Harry yelling for Sirius. Remus’ voice carried to me next; then Harry shouted that Sirius was not dead. My brain was telling my limbs to move but they weren’t complying. The fighting died a few minutes later. Dumbledore came in and got most of the Death Eaters. I was out again. The next thing I remember was Moody trying to revive me. I didn’t realize it was him.

I was moaning Remus’ name. I wanted to know he was ok. I felt a rough hand checking my pulse. The hand was familiar. “Mad-Eye,” I said in a raspy voice. He was holding a torn bit of cloth to my bleeding side. I hadn’t realized I was bleeding until he took the cloth away to adjust it.

I made to talk again when he said, “It’s best to keep quiet right now, Tonks.” He had a determined glare in his eye. I noticed his magical eye was missing. Moody was keeping busy with checking my wound. I reached up and brushed some of the hair out of his face. My arm shook as I raised it. “Don’t. I’m fine. You need to get to St. Mungo’s.” He looked around at the other. Remus was crying silently and conjuring bandages for Kingsley. Remus caught my eye and gave me a worried look. “I… I see you two gave things a shot since Christmas,” Moody said with a slight growl. “I’m happy for you.” In most circumstances, I would have said something about Moody finding someone and how things would work out for him in that department. But I didn’t. My mind was with Remus. My attention snapped back to Moody when he said, “I know I wasn’t really romantic when we were together… and I should have said it, but I do love you…even if I’m not the man you want to be with.” Moody’s hand was resting on my leg and he was brushing the hair out of my face.

Moody stopped talking as Remus walked up. His eyes told me how distraught he was. I hadn’t quite put things together yet. I was expecting that Sirius was lying somewhere I couldn’t quite see. “Remus,” I said reaching out to him. Moody had gotten up and limped off, probably to find his eye. Remus leaned close to me. “I was so worr— What’s wrong? Is it Harry?” I attempted to sit up.

Remus put a hand on my shoulder and shook his head. “It’s not Harry. Sirius… he’s.” Tears trickled down his cheeks as he swallowed. “He’s dead. He fell through the veil.” I looked up feeling horror wash over me. I reached up and gave Remus the best hug I could considering that I couldn’t sit up. Remus sniffed loudly. “I should get you to some help.” He conjured a stretcher and lifted me on it. I was going in and out of consciousness while he guided me up the stairs. He and Moody were talking in low voices. There was a Mediwizard in the Atrium. I tried to sit up again after they took me; I wanted to stay with Remus. I kept telling them I was well enough to stay.

They must have completely ignored my pleas to stay. I woke up sometime later feeling groggy and out of sorts. I heard Mum’s voice first. “Nymphadora?” She was stroking my hand as if she could coax me awake by doing so. “Honey, it’s okay. You’re at St. Mungo’s.” My eyes opened enough for me to see her face. Dad was standing behind her. “Remus was here, he told—”

I craned my neck to look around. “Remus? Is he here? Is he alright?” I was thrashing around. My parents made shushing noises and I settled down after a few minutes. “It’s Sirius, is he here? Remus said he died.” I bit my lip anxiously. I didn’t know if my parents knew about Sirius at all; I could have created a big problem.

“Sirius is,” Mum’s voice faltered. “Dead. He fell through the Veil. Remus explained everything to us… and,” she began to sob. “I only wish I knew while he was alive.” Mum was reduced to bitter sobs. Dad comforted her and led her out of the room.

I was alone for only a few minutes when Bill Weasley came in. I was a bit surprised to see him. I guessed that Molly probably sent him there to check up on me. “Wotcher, Tonks,” he said while eyeing me critically. He seemed to look at my hands a bit more than could be considered normal. I smiled back; well, I tried to smile back. “Has Remus been in to see you?” He asked checking my hands again. 

 “No, I’ve just woken up.” Bill looked smug about something. “Why do you ask?” Bill ignored my question. He started asking about my injuries and then threw in some more questions about Remus. “No, really,” I finally said, “What’s with the Remus questions? You guys start dating?” I tried smiling again.

Bill sat next to me, a conspiratorial look on his face. “Promise not to tell him that I told you?” he said his face filled with look of utmost eagerness. I nodded. “I ran into Remus the other week. Out shopping. We were at a ring store.”

“Why were you at a ring store?” I asked thickly. Then the obvious question hit me, “Why was Remus at a ring store?”

Bill broke into a smile. “I just got engaged.” he said with a broad smile. “And, well, Remus hinted he was there for the same reason.”

It was at that point that I would have needed to sit if I hadn’t been lying down. I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t think he was planning on popping the question. Maybe it was his way of showing me he could always be with me. My heart beat excitedly. “Did he say when he was going to do it?” I asked trying not to fall out of bed.

“No, he didn’t. That’s why I was looking for a ring. I didn’t want to congratulate before he asked.” Bill was grinning and so was I. Then I thought about that night and figured that Remus would wait a bit before asking. It didn’t seem like him to think about something as self-centered as marriage right then.

Remus came in to see me that evening. I wanted to get up so I could hold him. He looked just like I thought he would. His face had an even expression, but his eyes betrayed his grief, shock, disbelief. He sat on my bed, his face showed a lot of pain. I reached out and squeezed his hand. I didn’t know what to say. I knew that words wouldn’t make him feel better about Sirius’ death. Remus finally drew in a deep breath to talk. “I was worried about you. I thought you might… well, I’m just glad you’re going to be alright.”

I noticed that Remus wasn’t meeting my eyes when he spoke to me. “Remus, I have a dangerous job. This could have happened for any reason. It’s… it’s just part of my life,” I breathed deeply and went into what I hoped were some consoling words. “I realize you’re grieving Sirius… I can’t imagine how this is for you. You’re not the only one that lost him… you have people with whom you can grieve.” I was rubbing Remus’ hand gently. “It’s late… do you want to stay here?” I asked scooting over.

Remus had a hallow look as he kicked his shoes off and laid next to me. The look on his face was similar to the one he had when rethinking our relationship. I mistook it for grief. “This is the second time I’ve lost him,” Remus said after a lengthy silence. I stroked his hair in the same way I petted him as a wolf. “The only ray of consolation in his death is that they know he was innocent.” Remus was idly rubbing my arm. Tears were falling from his eyes.

“I’m grateful that you were able to rekindle your friendship with him, learn of his innocence and spend a great deal of time together.” Remus nodded blankly. I didn’t think my words were sinking in at all, but I liked to think they were comforting on some level. “I love you, Remus Lupin.” Remus sighed deeply and said we should get some sleep.

We woke up the next morning with a shriek from the healer. She was one of those fussy maternal types. Apparently, it was quite a shock to see a witch and wizard in bed together. Remus looked slightly embarrassed. I ignored her lecture on prudent behavior. “How long till I’m discharged?” I asked feeling a bit cross. She let me leave early that morning. My parents wanted me to stay with them for a while; I declined. I wanted to stay with Remus.

Dumbledore warned us about returning to Grimmauld Place. It wasn’t safe now that Sirius had died. Dumbledore had returned long enough to extract Sirius’ will and some small box he handed to Remus. I was tempted to ask Remus about it, but I didn’t. We stayed at my place for a while. Remus wasn’t talking to me very much. I figured he was still processing his own feelings. I talked to him quite a bit, but I didn’t require him to talk back. I kept the ring in mind during Remus’ prolonged silence; Bill was hardly wrong about relational observations. I expected Remus would propose once the air cleared.

I went back to work a few days later. I was accommodated for following Sirius into the Department of Mysteries. Kingsley told them we were hunting him down. He explained that we merely ran into Moody and Remus on the way and the offered to help us on the hunt. Then he explained that it was obvious he wasn’t with the death eaters at once. Kingsley described his death in detail. I felt guilt seep through my veins as he explained that Sirius took up my duel with Bellatrix after I fell. The Ministry sent out a full pardon; it was an empty gesture as he was dead.

The end of the school year came up quickly. We decided to see Harry off to his Aunt and Uncle’s house. Moody and Kingsley thought it’d be a good idea to intimidate them a bit before allowing Harry to return. Remus and I agreed. We were all dressed in muggle clothing. Well, for the most part. I had a Weird Sisters shirt on. I had the matching bra and panties on; they made a nice set.

Harry seemed surprised to see us. “Wotcher, Harry.” I said winking. Moody growled a hello. His bowler hat was getting a lot of attention. We spotted Harry’s relatives quickly. We followed Harry over to them. They looked shocked and appalled to see a group like us with Harry. His Aunt looked especially offended by my pink hair. Moody threatened him quite skillfully. We left soon after Harry did.

I tried to coax Remus into a few conversations. He didn’t seem up for talking. When he did start talking to me again, I wished for the silence to return. If we weren’t in the aftermath of his best friend’s death, I might have caught the signs. He was planning on breaking things off with me.

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you,” he said quietly over dinner one night. He was looking at his drink instead of looking me in the eyes. “I’ve been given a new assignment.”

“That’s great, what is it?” I asked, relieved he was speaking again.

“Dumbledore asked me to go live with a group of werewolves led by Fenrir Greyback.” He finally met my eyes. The look in his eyes didn’t match his proclamation. While living with other werewolves would be dangerous and would mean a lot less time together, his eyes told me there was something worse coming. “I don’t think we should continue to be together,” he said in a tone that carried finality and resolve. He stopped eating mid-bite. Setting his fork down he said, “I do love you, Tonks. I wish things were different, but I we can’t go on—at all. No more sleeping in the same bed, no more full moons together; I’ll be too dangerous anyways. I’ll be half the country away; I can’t ask you to sit around and wait for me.”

I felt tears leaking down my cheeks. I had been expecting him to propose, not break up with me. I thought we were past this painful cycle. “I don’t want to end this… us,” I said simply. “I don’t care if you’re going away; you could go to Canada for a three year expedition and I’d wait.” Remus had a fixed expression on his face. I wanted to get through to him; I had to make him understand. “I can’t just— we’ve been—” Words were failing me. I couldn’t put together the thoughts that were streaming into my head.

“I shouldn’t have put this off for as long as I did,” Remus said, his voice cracking slightly. I wondered exactly how long that was, but I didn’t ask. “I am too old, too dangerous and much too poor for you. On top of that, I won’t be here for you. It’s not going to work.” Remus was on his feet. “I should go,” he said quietly. He reached into his bag and pulled out his small rabbit. “Keep him safe for me.”

I stood up quickly. I hurried to catch him at the door and hugged him tightly. “This isn’t over,” I said into his chest.

He kissed my forehead and said in a quiet voice, “Yes, it is.” With that, he left. I fell against the door. I was sobbing. I hugged Freckles tightly. It smelled like concentrated Remus. I wasn’t sure what time I finally stopped crying and fell asleep, but I woke up in my bed the next morning with a throbbing headache. It was the kind that comes from one of two things, drinking too much or crying too much. It took me a moment to remember why I felt so horrible. Then the previous night came back to me like a brick boomerang.

I barely had time to brush my teeth before leaving for work. I didn’t even bother changing my robes. I only regretted not doing so after seeing the looks of bewilderment from my coworkers. I passed a mirror and stopped. My hair was a familiar shade of brown. I didn’t bother to change it. I sat down at my desk, feeling that I might go home sick today. Dawlish poked his face in; not something to see that early in the morning.

“Hear the big news?” he asked taking in my appearance. I shook my head. Normally I would have said something about him being voted most vile auror or a similar insult. “Scrimgeour is up for Minister. They’re ousting Fudge.” I wasn’t surprised that Fudge was getting the boot, but I hadn’t seen Scrimgeour as Minister material. “Do you know what that means?” Dawlish had a selfish, eager look in his eyes.

I knew what he was getting at, but I couldn’t pass up my next remark. “You’ll have someone else’s buttocks to kiss?” I cringed at the thought of Dawlish as head of our department. I knew there were people ahead of him in terms of seniority, but I wouldn’t put it past Scrimgeour to do that.

I slipped out of my cubicle, ignoring Dawlish completely. He was making suggestive remarks about what he’d do as Department Head. I leaned against the wall to Kingsley’s cubicle. “Going somewhere?” I asked watching him peel down all of the Sirius memorabilia.

“I’m going undercover,” he said quietly. “And, well, with Sirius gone I thought I should get this stuff into storage.” Kingsley couldn’t openly express his grief about losing Sirius; he had been in charge of tracking him down after all. “I think you’ll have a new assignment before too long.” Kingsley had a picture of Sirius and Remus in his hand. “Would you give this to—are you alright?” He took a look at me as he handed me the picture.

I took the picture and bit my lip. “I think things are over between Remus and me,” I said not looking at Kingsley. “He said he’s going to live with the werewolves and… he doesn’t want to keep me in a relationship. I guess.” I was still trying to understand his words from the previous night.

“Maybe you should bring that over to his place sometime and talk him ‘round,” Kingsley said. I smiled bleakly. “I hate to tell you… but Dawlish will be your new supervisor.” I flared my nostrils. “They’re not making him Head of the Department.” He looked around and continued in a quiet voice, “Word has it he’s selected you and a few other Aurors to live in Hogsmeade and guard the school.”

I was going to complain and ask if he could do anything to change the situation when Scrimgeour came out of his office with Robards. They were both looking smug. Scrimgeour announced that Gawain Robards would be his successor because he was going to take Fudge’s job as Minister. We all applauded politely. I held back a grimace; I didn’t know Robards, but word had it that he was puppet material.

The next few days saw a lot of change in our department and in the entire Ministry. There were two murders. Emmeline Vance was murdered as was Amelia Bones. Bones’ death shook a lot of the Ministry. There were reports that the dementors were breeding, which caused a lot of creepy fog. Then, there was the attack on a muggle bridge; they had a hard time hiding the wizard involvement. It was in the middle of all of this that I was officially told about my assignment in Hogsmeade. Dawlish had a lusty look in his eyes as Robards sat us down to explain everything.

Arthur was promoted to lead a small group of Law Enforcement personnel. I thought it was high time they gave him a better position. I went over to the Weasley’s to celebrate.

Remus couldn’t make it; Molly said he had other plans. I had been over to their place on a few occasions after the breakup. Molly didn’t say anything about it in front of Ron, Hermione, or Ginny. I wasn’t quite as upbeat as usual. I tried to make nose-impressions but it was difficult, much more difficult than usual. I met Fleur, Bill’s fiancé. She was haughty and seemed to regard me as a threat; probably because Molly favored me. I didn’t bother explaining that I wasn’t interested in Bill; I thought it might send her into a tizzy. I left shortly after dinner, Molly told me to come by whenever. She reiterated the whenever part.

I decided to give Remus the picture Kingsley entrusted me with a couple of days later. I went over in the evening. I knew the full moon was a few days off and I wanted to catch him while he was going through his wolfish urges. I was dressed a little more carefully than usual. I couldn’t get my hair pink; that bothered me. When I opened the door and walked in I almost broke a vase he had on the table. It wasn’t out of clumsiness but out of shock. Remus was in bed, with another person.


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