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Epitaph of a Good Man by toomanycurls
Chapter 22 : Lost Hope
 
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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. Any parts marked with an asterisk is taken from HP and the HBP American Hardback version from pgs613-626

 

 

My preoccupation with Remus’ safety settled into my stomach in the form of a dull ache. I was grateful that I had enough work to keep myself busy. Dawlish doubled our duty shifts to try and catch Dumbledore leaving the castle. He had attempted to follow Dumbledore on one of his outings and, much to my delight, got hexed. Unfortunately, Dumbledore was always gracious and didn’t do any lasting damage. I had to work hard to hide my disappointment.

Savage confided in me that he really liked Charlie. He wanted to see him again sometime. I didn’t think they’d get too much of a chance; I suggested they write to one another. They corresponded on a weekly basis. Each letter caused a smile to linger on Brad’s face.

Dumbledore summoned me to his office one evening mid-May. I wasn’t sure what it was about, but I hoped he had news of Remus. He cleverly sent me a note that was disguised as a knitting book I ordered. I hadn’t ordered a book of any sort, but I kept an even face when Dawlish said I had an order arrive. I took it in my room and opened it.

The book appeared normal but for the copyright. It was copywrited by Phoenix-Feather Inc. That seemed like an odd name for a publishing company.  I tapped it with my wand muttering, “Specialus Revelio,” and saw a note from Dumbledore requesting my presence that evening in his office. He said to use floo to get to his office. I wondered if I’d be the only one meeting with him.

I told the others that I had a headache and needed to go to bed early that night. I locked the door and put Elvis in my place in the bed. My body pillow came in hand for sneaking out… though I hadn’t used it like that in a great while.

When I stumbled out of Dumbledore’s fire, I saw that we were alone in his office. He looked up from the parchment he was reading with a pleasant expression. “So good to see you, Nymphadora,” he said smiling. “I’m pleased that you worked out my message. Please, have a seat.” I caught a glimpse of Dumbledore’s hand. It was as charred as it had been the previous fall. Sitting down in front of Dumbledore in his office brought back memories of my school days. I ended up in his office more than once. I was one that snuck out only too often and got caught in compromising situations more than once. This time, however, I didn’t have to worry about expulsion or a letter to my parents. I was worried about his sudden desire to see me; I feared there was bad news.

“I was informed that you visited the castle a while back. I surmised that it had to do with Remus, as you had just visited him.” I wondered how he knew that. I hadn’t exactly advertised that I went anywhere. I gave Dawlish and Proudfoot the impression that I was going out for a night of drinking in London. Then again, Dumbledore had a knack for knowing things that most people wouldn’t know. “You needn’t worry about Remus. I received an update from him and he’s quite alright. He was worried about your safety and wellbeing.”

I frowned at the thought. Remus was the one living in a dangerous situation. My only danger was if I dropped my guard around Dawlish the dunderhead. “He’s been worried about me? I just live with a couple Aurors. He’s living in a group that would kill him in a heartbeat! He can’t even use his wand to protect himself!” My eyes were filling with tears. I was relieved that he was safe for the time being, but I felt a stab of indignation that he would run to Dumbledore with his worries about me.

Dumbledore was smiling a bit more broadly. “Caring is a two-way street, Nymphadora.” I didn’t respond. I was curious if Dumbledore knew I had said that to Sirius the previous year or if I had finally reached a level of wisdom close to Dumbledore’s. I went with my first idea as I had at least a hundred years to gain his perspective. “I will require your assistance in a few weeks. I have to leave the school and I will need you to keep watch from within the school walls. There will be other people keeping guard that night. During my previous outings I have relied on the professors to keep watch, but I am asking a few extra Order members to be on watch when I leave this time.”

“Do you know the exact date?” I asked a bit insipidly. It didn’t quite matter, it’s not like I had social engagements.

“No, not yet. I won’t know till the day before or the day of. Do you have other pressing matters?” Dumbledore asked with a slight smile playing on his face.

I smiled sheepishly. “Of course not… Do you know who else in the Order will be there?” I tried to keep my voice even, tried not to sound hopeful that Remus might show up.

“I think you’ll be pleased by your companions that night.” Dumbledore always relished enigmatic answers. “It is quite late and I’m sure you’ll need a good night sleep after such a long time of uncertainty.”

“Thanks, Professor Dumbledore,” I said standing up. “I’ll be here when you give the word.” I paused for a moment. “How will you give the word?” I asked stepping up to the fire.

“Fawkes will alert you,” Dumbledore said indicating his beautifully red phoenix “Goodnight, Nymphadora.” I said goodbye and returned to my room.

True to Dumbledore’s word, I did get a good night’s sleep that night. The dull ache in my stomach dissipated. I guessed that Hogwarts might be in danger when Dumbledore left, but I was excited to see other Order members. I desperately hoped that Remus would be there. Savage noticed my occasional listless sighs and frequent daydreams that were on the rise since hearing of Remus’ safey.

“What’s on your mind, Tonks?” he asked sitting next to me on the couch. I shot him a sideways glace. I had been remembering a particularly enjoyable evening with Remus. “You seem a bit preoccupied. Do you have a certain man on your mind?” he was smirking a bit.

“He’s always on my mind,” I said sighing. “Not that I mind.”

Savage gave me a critical look. I could tell he held Remus in low esteem. “Why do you still hold out for him? I’m sure he’s a great bloke and everything, but… he’s not exactly committed to you.”

I tried to not be offended. I knew Savage was just trying to be my friend, but it’s rather upsetting when people say negative things about a lover. “If we were apart because he couldn’t stand me or some other relational problem… then I’d try to move on. But, we’re not together because of outside circumstances.” I sighed then added, “And he has self-esteem problems… he doesn’t think that he’s good enough.”

Savage had a confused look on his face. “Why does he think he’s not good enough? I mean, it’s not like you’d chase after a troll or anything. Shouldn’t it be enough that you love him?”

I was about to explain things to Savage when Dawlish’s voice came from the door. “It’s because he has the sense that any werewolf should have; the sense to not bother with women. He knows that underneath the man is a beast that will ravage her pretty little face one day.” I stood up and walked towards Dawlish, my face twisted up in anger.

I stopped just in front of Dawlish. “You know what, Dawlish?” I said balling up my fist and hitting him square on the nose. He let out a yelp of pain and quite a few swear words “You need to learn to shut your mouth.” I turned and walked away.

Dawlish started to yell that I’d get hauled in for that and he’d have my career. As if on cue Savage said, “Dawlish, you need to stop blaming Tonks for your clumsiness. You tripped, I saw it.” Savage winked at me and made to follow me out the back door. “Tonks, did you think I’d think less of him?” he asked as he caught up with me. I raised an eyebrow. “For being a werewolf?”

I stopped walking and gave Savage a hard look. “I didn’t think it mattered,” I said in a quiet voice. “I mean, it’s had an effect on our relationship… but… I don’t know. I guess I did think it’d make a difference in how you thought of him,” I said in a small voice.

Looking at Savage I could tell I hurt his feelings. “My only concern is your safety,” he said quietly. I smiled at him and kissed him on the cheek. “Well, at least I know why he’s always torn about being with you. I thought he was just really thick.” I laughed airily and told him that being thick was half the problem.

I got a message from Dumbledore in the early part of June to come and guard the castle. I didn’t have duty for the Ministry so I didn’t have to think of a reason to skive off. Though, I did have my box of skiving snacks if I had to get out of working to guard the school. I went to the school at 7 in the evening. Per Dumbledore’s message, I went to McGonagall’s office. Flitwick was there already.

“Good evening,” I said smiling. Both of them eyed me with concern. Apparently they heard about my hair but merely knowing about it didn’t take away from the shock of it being so dull and lank. They both said greeted me and returned to their conversation. “Who else is coming?” I asked taking a seat.

Flitwick opened his mouth to say when the door opened. “Am I late?” came Remus’ voice. My heart skipped a beat, or well several beats. I twisted around in my chair to get a glimpse of him. It felt like it had been several years since I last saw him. “Hello, Nymphadora,” he said smiling. I thought I detected the same feeling of extreme relief in his eyes.

“It’s Tonks,” I said holding in a grin. “And you are late.” I turned around to face McGonagall; she was giving me a stern look. She knew my flirting style after lecturing me for seven years of being too coquettish in class.

“Glad you could make it, Remus,” she said briskly. “Dumbledore wants us to patrol the corridors. He didn’t give specific direction; he just wants us to be out and alert. I think it’s best if we pair up.” She paused for a moment, I thought I saw her almost smile. “The two of you,” she looked at Remus and me, “would be best suited as partners. Filius and I will walk around together.”

I tried to look indifferent to her decision; I think my eager glances at Remus ruined my attempts at being nonchalant. “Tonks and I can work up to the 7th floor,” Remus offered. Bill came in right as Remus spoke. I was happy to see Bill. He looked content and in love.

McGonagall looked pleased that we’d have another person for the patrol. “Evening Bill.” He smiled and said hi to everyone. “You should accompany Remus and Tonks, they might need a chaperone.” Bill broke into a smile and agreed.

“I haven’t been caught snogging at Hogwarts in quite some time,” I said with a false rueful tone.

“That’s probably not for lack of trying,” Bill said with a laugh. Remus laughed softly too. “Come on,” Bill said still smiling, “we should get going.”

The three of us left the office in the direction of the 7th floor. “Have you heard from Charlie lately?” I asked Bill. I wondered if he knew about the Charlie and Savage development. “Oh yeah, turns out he’s got himself a man.”

I laughed quietly. I didn’t want my voice to carry too far. “Let’s go up this way,” Remus said pulling back a tapestry with a staircase behind it. It was a passage way I hadn’t used before. Bill went first and I followed. Remus was a gentleman and held the tapestry out so we could file by. I managed to brush against Remus. I considered pacing by him just to feel his body a few more times, but maturity and duty won over.

When we got up to the top of the staircase Bill suggested that he go off and roam the other side of the floor for a bit. Remus and I walked slowly through the corridors. We were alone for a couple of minutes before either of us talked. “I’m relieved to see you’re well,” He said glancing at me.

I hugged Remus in a way that made it look like we were two large magnets. “I was sick from worrying about you. Dawlish said there’d been an attack.” I looked up at him feeling an urge to put a freezing charm on the moment so I could keep hugging him.

“How did Dawlish know about that?” Remus mused while patting me gingerly on the back. “I wonder if the Ministry has a spy with the werewolves. I know I haven’t recognized anyone…” Remus let go of me and smiled. “The thing is we’re alright. And now you know why we shouldn’t—”

“Don’t start with me about that,” I said tersely. We ran into Bill as we walked around a corner. “Up to the next floor?” I suggested. They followed me up the stairs. When we made it up to the seventh floor, we stopped by the Fat Lady. She was snoozing until we said hello.

We chatted with her for a few minutes. She flirted with Bill saying that she missed their late night interludes. We went on after a few minutes, Remus pointed out that we were there to patrol, which meant moving. We were approaching the place where I ran into Harry with his Invisibility Cloak when we heard some shouting.

Instinctively, we pulled out our wands and proceeded at a jog. Ron, Ginny, and a boy I recognized from the Department of Mysteries were all working their way out of a black area in the hall, it looked like someone turned the air to the blackest black.

“Ron, Ginny, Neville, What’s going on?” Remus asked calmly. I did detect some panic in his voice, but I could tell he thought it could be an incident of nighttime mischief. Ron burst into an explanation about following Malfoy down here to the Room of Requirement and there was a group of death eaters that just got into the caste. He said they were headed down towards the Astronomy Tower.

“Come on!” Bill said turning to go down stairs. I was held up for a moment, I had to send a message to McGonagall and Flitwick. My patronus shot out of my wand with some gusto as I watched Remus telling the kids to be safe. I found his way with the students endearing and quite attractive.

If I were to die that night, I had to let him know I still loved him. Usually I’d go into a long discourse on my feelings, but a subtle gesture was all we had time for. I came to my senses and followed the others at a jog. I caught up with Remus and gave his hand a squeeze. He returned my squeeze then let go, hurrying after the others.

We met the death eaters in the Entrance Hall, near the base of the Astronomy Tower. Remus’ face went white when he saw that Greyback was there. We had a slight advantage on the death eaters. We got the first few hexes off at least. We were more or less one on one. Bill was fighting one death eater and shooting jinxes at Greyback. Ron was dueling with a lumpy looking witch. Ginny dueled with a man that was hideous enough to the other witch’s brother - they were beat with the same ugly stick at least. Neville was fighting that Malfoy boy. It took me quite a while to remember that the blond boy was my cousin. Oddly enough, that didn’t chance my desire to jinx him. My heart almost stopped when the giant blond death eater Remus was dueling shot off the avada kedarva. It missed Remus and hit another bloke.

Then it happened. Bill had been smiling a rather rogue smile for the situation. He was causing the death eater he was with to panic when Fenrir shot at him with a yell of, “can’t resist such a pretty face.” Greyback went right for Bill’s face. All of us, including the death eaters, paused for a moment in horror. I finally had the sense to help. With an impediment jinx Greyback flew off him. He seemed to be temporarily out of sorts. Malfoy and another death eater ran up the stairs to the Astronomy Tower. Neville made to run after him but was thrown back. McGonagall and Flitwick showed up soon after that. They both shot off several jinxes towards the death eaters. McGonagall yelled for Flitwick to wake Snape.

Even with all the animosity I felt for him, I thought he’d be a great help. Although, the thought of him parading around as if he won the battle would be insufferable. Flitwick ran down a flight of stairs, repelling jinxes from a giant of a death eater.

Snape and Flitwick didn’t return. I wondered if there were more death eaters in the castle that they were fighting. The death eaters worked their way up the stairs. Suddenly Snape tore around a corner and flew up the stairs after the death eaters. Taking this as a sign he had disabled the barrier, we attempted to follow him. “It’s blocked!” Remus yelled trying to disable the invisible wall. We were unsuccessful. As suddenly as they disappeared up the stairs, they were back dueling with us.

I caught a glimpse of Snape running out on the grounds. He was chasing the Malfoy boy and a few other Death Eaters. He shouted something as he left. A few minutes later Harry came down the stairs. Fenrir, who had gotten up to follow the other death eaters upstairs, made a leap at Harry. He was momentarily stupefied. Ginny finished her duel with the blonde bloke. He helped Greyback to his feet and they left.

After the death eaters fled, we helped the injured up to the Hospital Wing. Remus levitated Bill’s limp body with a pained expression on his face. Although Remus didn’t attack Bill I could tell he felt a sense of responsibility for the harm done by another werewolf. I helped Neville up the staircase. He was out cold so I did my best to levitate him up the stairs. I tripped a few times causing Neville to run into the wall. Ron was walking with us with a grim look on his face. We ran into Hermione and another girl on our way to the Hospital Wing.

“Hermione, Luna- are you both alright?” Remus asked with a worried expression. Hermione explained that they had been with Flitwick, he passed out in Snape’s office. “Come on, both of you. Professor McGonagall said to go to the Hospital Wing.”

“What’s happened to Bill?” Hermione asked wide-eyed. Ron answered her in a hollow voice. Both girls looked astounded. “Will he be a… a werewolf?” Hermione asked quietly.

Remus shook his head in an unconvinced manner. “I don’t think we’ll know until the next full moon.” Remus pushed the door to the Hospital Wing open. Madame Pomfrey came out of her office upon hearing the door open. She let out a slight shriek.

“Oh my… What’s happened?” she asked looking from me to Remus then to the kids. Remus and I explained that there was an attack, and that Bill was attacked by Greyback. “But… it’s not the full moon,” she looked as if merely stating that would make his wounds disappear. Madame Pomfrey snapped out of her shocked reverie and grabbed a book. “Lay him down here,” she said indicating a bed close to her. “And let’s have Mr. Longbottom over there.” I moved Neville over to the bed a few away from Bill.

The rest of us sat down on the spare beds while Madame Pomfrey tried spell after spell to heal Bill. Remus and I were on the bed closest to Bill. It was a while before any of us spoke. “Where’s Harry?” Remus asked suddenly. Ron said he saw him chasing after some death eaters. “Should we go find him?” Remus looked around. “Did Ginny go with him?”

Ron shrugged, his eyes fixed on his brother. Remus stood up, but the door opened before he could go anywhere. It was Harry closely followed by Ginny. Hermione ran up to him and gave him a hug. “How’s Bill?” Harry asked after a moment. We didn’t know how to answer… none of us knew for sure. He looked at Madame Pomfrey. “Can’t you fix them with a charm or something?” Madame Pomfrey explained that she couldn’t fix them. She tried but there isn’t a cure for werewolf bites.

Ron was searching for a loophole to his brother’s injuries. The full moon was not in the sky when Bill was bitten. Remus finally stated the thing people were hoping he’d say – that Bill would not be a full werewolf but that there might be lasting effects of this attack.

Still looking for a way out for Bill, Ron demanded to know what Dumbledore would do to fix this. It was on his orders, after all, that Bill was here fighting against such dangerous people. Ginny delivered the news that caused all of us to forget Bill for a moment.

“Dumbledore is dead.”

Remus’ reaction was immediate and raw. He shouted as if an outburst might make her words false. Remus collapsed into a chair near the bed.

I had to work to tear my eyes off Remus. He was always so purposeful…not usually that exposed. I asked how Dumbledore died, feeling that it didn’t really matter as knowing wouldn’t bring him back.

Harry explained Dumbledore’s death to us. It didn’t look like he had taken in the idea of Dumbledore gone; none of us had. When he was near the death part of his retelling a chilling melody filled the room. It sounded like a lament. We all listened to it, as if it was communicating the loss we all felt.

We no one stirred until McGonagall entered the room. She asked Harry about Dumbledore’s death. When Harry told her that Snape did it; she expressed disbelief and shock. There was quite a change in how Remus talked about Snape during that conversation. He had always been gracious and lenient with Snape’s behavior. He was vicious and harsh when he talked about him that night.

Harry asked us what happened. We all worked to piece together that night’s events. There were a lot of gaps in my memory as to what happened when. It was a bit like making bread from the ingredients in ten different pantries. Everyone had something to add and it all helped us form a picture of what happened that night.

As we finished Molly and Arthur came in. Molly’s eyes grew with shock as her gaze fell on her eldest son. Remus and I got up and moved away so they’d have the closest seats to his bed. She was sobbing as Arthur conferred with Remus and McGonagall about the night’s events. Fleur walked in and froze at the sight of Bill. I could tell she was trying to figure things out…marriage, their relationship, it was all at risk now. Molly made a comment about how Bill was to be married.

Fleur took great offense at this. She had a row with Molly saying that Bill would still love her, even if he is part werewolf. Seeing Fleur fight for her right to be Bill’s endeared her to me more than anything else. Her insistence that she and Bill would remain together broke through the cold defense Molly had been putting up the past year.

Something in me snapped. Why couldn’t that be me? I turned to Remus feeling that this was the proof he needed to accept that we could be together. My words seemed to immobilize Remus. I was glaring at Remus. I had been suffering for well over a year and a half waiting for him to come around; I didn’t want to wait anymore. I wanted him to propose like Bill told me had would. I wanted a wedding and little Remus-babies.

Remus went to his argument with rationality that equaled my emotional state. He almost sounded clinical when he described how the two cases were quite different.

I was close to stomping my foot. Instead I grabbed his robes and shook him slightly, “I don’t care,” I almost cried. I wanted Remus to be less detached; I wanted the rawness back.

Remus wasn’t meeting my eyes, which never boded well. I heard the familiar words of “too old, too dangerous, and too poor.” I could hear the affection behind these words but they cut me like small, sharp knives.

Molly and Arthur added their commentary to our argument as Harry, Ginny, Hermione, and Ron looked on. I could see that Remus was building a wall around himself as he continued to counter their gentle persuasion.

Hagrid’s arrival put an end to the discussion. McGonagall asked Harry and Hagrid to go with her to her office for a quick meeting. I sat in a chair near the wall. I had lost the argument again…even with reinforcements.

After Harry left with McGonagall I remained seated for a few moments. My head was buried into my hands. I felt so embarrassed by the public rejection. I felt ashamed for calling Remus out, he was such a private man after all. Fleur was sitting next to Bill on his bed. I could see her eyes well up with tears every few moments. I imagined Remus and me in that situation. Him being injured beyond recognition and me sitting devotedly by his side… Arthur’s words about young men not staying whole rung in my ears. Life gave us no guarantees.

I didn’t look up until I felt a hand on my shoulder. “Let’s give them some privacy,” Remus said in a low voice. I looked around and saw that Remus and I were the only non-family members left with the Weasleys. I stood up and followed Remus out of the Hospital Wing.

“Where are you staying tonight?” I asked realizing that Remus didn’t have lodgings and he couldn’t return to Leeds. He looked grief stricken and lost, much like he did when Sirius died, but the look of hope he usually had in his eyes had dissipated.

Remus looked around, almost as if hoping for an alternative then he asked, “May I stay with you, Nymphadora?” I nodded and took his hand in mine. “No…” he said softly but didn’t make an effort to take his hand out of mine. “We can’t.” It didn’t seem like his heart was in the argument this time.

We walked mostly in silence. When we got to the flat, it was empty. I noticed that my bedroom door was opened and Elvis was lying haphazardly on the floor. “Guess they got summoned to the school,” I said shrugging. “Bit late for help,” I said coldly. I walked towards my room. “This one is mine.” I let Remus in before me.

He sat down on the side of my bed looking at the picture on my bedside table. “You still have this,” he said picking the picture up. “That seems like a long time ago.” He had a bittersweet tone in his voice.

I sat down next to him. “It’s something I’d like to have again,” I said earnestly. “I know that you’re older than me and a bit dangerous; I’d be thicker than a Beater’s bat if I didn’t… the thing is, I love you and that won’t go away. I love you with all your faults, all your mistakes, everything.”

Remus didn’t look at me; his eyes were boring into the photo. When he set the picture down he said, “Let’s talk about this tomorrow. We’re both too exhausted to really discuss anything. I agreed and started changing for bed.

“I have a pair of pajamas that you could wear.” Remus gave me a puzzled look. “I took them from Grimmauld Place last spring,” I said unblushingly. Remus put them on and crawled into bed with me. I cuddled against him. He looked like a sailor in unfamiliar waters. “Oh!” I said reaching under the pillow. “I saved Freckles for you.”

We slowly drifted off to sleep feeling unsure of a Dumbledore free world. I never imagined that we’d woken up at wand point in the morning or that I’d have to explain myself to Scrimgeour. All my mind was working on was the fact that I had Remus, even if it was only temporarily, in my arms.


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