Chapter 23 : Questioning
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“We have to take you in for questioning,” Proudfoot said flatly. He had the look of a man acting on orders and not of his own will. Dawlish on the other hand looked more pleased than a toddler in a candy store.
“What is she being questioned for?” Remus asked putting a hand on my arm. His grip was protective, as was the growl in his voice.
“That’s none of your business, wolf,” Dawlish said nastily. His wand was on Remus. He looked all too eager to have his wand pointed at Remus’ throat. “We’re to bring you in too.”
“What is he being questioned for?” I asked fiercely. Remus had been away for the better part of a year and wasn’t tied to anyone the Ministry was watching. If Proudfoot and Savage hadn’t been there, I would have thought it was a ruse, some plot of Dawlish.
“Tonks, it’s better if you just come along easily,” Savage said gently. Remus’ eyes flickered from Savage to me. He was trying to determine the relationship between us.
I got out of bed, thankful I had pajamas on. Remus got up too, careful to move slowly. Dawlish looked a bit trigger happy. Dawlish and Proudfoot grabbed our wands and led us out of the room. We didn’t have to go far for questioning. The Ministry had a makeshift outpost in Hogsmeade. They didn’t give Remus and me a chance to get dressed, but they did let us put shoes on. People stared as we were brought to the new Ministry building. I wanted to ask Savage what the bloody-hell was going on, but doing so in front of Dawlish and Proudfoot didn’t seem like a wise move.
We came to a halt in a large entryway. I looked around wondering where we were going. Proudfoot led me down one hallway. I turned and saw that Remus was going down another. I heard his voice carry through the halls. “Where are you taking her? Where—” It sounded like they either hit him hard or took him somewhere his voice would not echo. They sat me down in a room with a chair in it. Scrimgeour was standing in a corner.
“I’m disappointed, Nymphadora,” Scrimgeour said as Proudfoot shut the door. “You really did have great potential as an Auror…” He sighed. “But leaving your post at a crucial time like you did…”
“I didn’t leave my post!” I said vehemently. “I had the night off and fancied a visit to the school.” I knew better than to say I was there on Order business.
“What a coincidence…that so many people should feel fit to visit on such an eventful night,” His voice did not sound at all surprised; he was rather cold. “Tell me, where you there for the Order of the Phoenix?”
I looked at him like he was speaking a foreign language. “I’m not into bird watching,” I said with a sardonic tone. “Look, I was there visiting some of the professors. When the death eaters showed up I started to fight them- that is part of my job description. I didn’t know Lupin and Weasley were there until I had been there a while.”
Scrimgeour looked incensed. “You mean to tell me that Dumbledore didn’t summon you there to guard the school while he was away?”
I shook my head slowly. “No. I haven’t seen Dumbledore in ages. Caught a glimpse of him taking a walk the other month,” I said lightly. Scrimgeour looked as if he wanted to hit me.
Then, as if she had sensed something foul going on from the school, McGonagall burst into the room. I realized that if Dumbledore had burst like that he’d have a ten-fold effect on the scene, but her entrance had enough to help me out of a bind.
“Minister, what is going on here?” she asked with a sharp tone. “This is illegal.” She was looking at me as if trying to see if I had been harmed. “You cannot snatch people out of their bedrooms and drag them in without so much as saying what they have done to warrant questioning!”
Scrimgeour’s face and tone changed completely as he spoke to McGonagall. “My dear Minerva, this is a disciplinary meeting. Tonks is being reprimanded—”
“Reprimanded my foot! She should receive an Order of Merlin for her work last night! If she hadn’t been there visiting the professors, many students would have been hurt, even killed! Even more atrocious, Rufus, is how you’d haul in a civilian! If this were disciplinary, Remus Lupin would not be in your custody.” McGonagal’s nostrils were flaring as she yelled at him. She was definitely more hotheaded than Dumbledore, but she could pack a verbal punch.
Scrimgeour looked angry at her depth of knowledge. He told me to get out of his sight. “What about Remus?” I asked boldly. McGonagall pulled me out of the room before could Scrimgeour answered. “How did you know?” I asked after a few moments. She explained that one of the spectators in the crowd informed her.
Remus was leaning against a wall near the door. He looked as if his interrogation had been thoroughly nonverbal. I ran towards him seeing that his lip was bleeding. “Remus… what did they do?” I helped him to his feet shouldering a great portion of his weight. McGonagall offered to put us up at the castle. I shook my head. “No, we’ll be fine at my place… or at Remus’ place.” She nodded curtly and left towards Hogwarts.
“Are you sure it’s a good idea to stay there?” Remus asked attempting to manage his own weight. “I mean… Dawlish might do something rash.” Remus was walking on his own holding his hand to his side.
“If he tries something, I’ll put him in his place,” I said with a scowl. “Maybe I’ll do that just because I can. I’d like to know why they hauled us in this morning. Brad didn’t seem to have his heart in it. Neither did Proudfoot for that matter.”
Remus threw me a sideways glance. “Brad? Do you mean Savage?” I nodded. I wondered if he clarified because he didn’t know or he wanted to point out that using a coworker’s first name was a bit intimate. “Seems like the two of you hit it off quite well since March.”
I ignored his comment and opened the door to the flat. Savage was there with Proudfoot. Savage stood up quickly as we entered. “You’re back.” He sounded as if he had been worried. “I couldn’t believe it when they ordered… it wasn’t just.” Savage was a sucker for truth, justice and other such ideals.
I wanted to be harsh with them, but I didn’t have the emotional energy to be a jerk. “Look, I’m sure you’re both sorry. It was orders…I get it. We’re going to be in my room. If Dawlish shows up, let us know?” They both nodded. “Come on, Remus,” I said taking him by the hand and leading him into my room, locking the door behind us.
Remus collapsed on the bed. I sat next to him, brushing some stray hairs out of his face. “I was terrified when they tried to take you away,” he said hoarsely. “I thought I lost you… I can’t bear to lose you anymore.” He reached out and took my hand in his. “I love you, Tonks. I… I want us to be together. No more of this back and forth; no more of me being a prat.” He smiled sheepishly and looked up into my face. His eyes were bright with a mixture of hope and fear that I might wrench my hand out of his and tell him off.
I kissed him on the forehead, my eyes stung with tears. “Arthur was right.” I smiled vaguely. “I just had to wear down your defenses.” I let out a small laugh. I leaned in for another kiss, this time kissing Remus’ cheek.
He raised an eyebrow at my remark about Arthur. “Well, I’m glad you listened to him. He’s a smart man.” He sounded quite distracted as he said this. With each kiss I planted on his face and body he paused for a moment letting out a shudder of delight. Remus’ eyes were softly shut, his breath ragged from the kiss I was planting on his neck. When I came up with a slight slurp he opened his eyes. “Tonks…” I smiled and let out a ‘hmm?’ Remus grinned. “Your hair. It’s pink.” I got up and looked into the mirror. It was a bright and vibrant pink.
I sat down next to Remus again. I was smiling at him, most likely looking like a dope with pink hair. “I do want to talk a few things out though…” I knew I could ruin our fluffy romantic mood, but I needed to ask him some things about the previous year.
Remus sat up so we were eye to eye. “Ask me anything,” he said showing the braveness that made him a Gryffindor. “I do have a lot of explaining to do.” His head hung slightly; there was a lot of shame and guilt in his eyes.
I felt my heart racing. Confronting these problems was a lot scarier than I thought it would be. The first question came out of my mouth with a bitter taste. “Why did you end things last year?” I had heard his explanation a hundred times, but I felt there was more than what he told me previously.
He let out a sigh. “I thought you’d start there…” His voice wasn’t harsh, it was rather melancholy, much like a person going in for their first confession in many years. “I felt selfish…being in love while my best friend was miserable. When Sirius died,” Remus took in a sharp breath. “I couldn’t justify going on being so blissful while people were sacrificing everything for the Order. I thought that I could do more for Dumbledore if I wasn’t always worried about you… My idea was truly flawed. My mind was always with you. I hated myself for pushing you away again. I didn’t think you’d bother trying again.”
I listen intently as Remus further explained his rationale for leaving and refusing to get back together. When he finished I finally asked the question that had been burning a hole in my heart for the better part of a year, “What was going on with you and Farah…that night?”
Remus gave me a searching look as if he was calculating the amount of pain it caused me to ask him about it. “That was a mistake,” he said quickly. “I thought that I could erase you if I had another woman.” His voice quavered slightly. “It was coincidence that I ran into Farah that night. She approached me and bought me a few drinks. I couldn’t believe she was into me after so many years.” He let out a hollow laugh. “She was on the rebound. The Giant Squid would have looked good to her. We went back to my place… she was all over me. We had just started,” Remus coughed quietly, “when I heard the vase break.”
There were tears in his eyes. “After I caught up with you…and you left, I went back inside. Farah was confused and quite angry. I got dressed and told her that I had to go and see if I could fix my mistake. I went to your flat; I thought you would be there. I waited for a short while but left deciding to go back to my place.” He sighed languidly. “I got a Howler from Molly the next day. She said I broke your heart and that if I had any decency I’d go to you right away and put things right.”
His face was wet with gently falling tears. “Every time I saw you that summer I couldn’t think of the right apology… I couldn’t get you to stop yelling at me either.” There was a slight smile behind his eyes at he said that. “When you came to visit me I was taken aback by the change in your demeanor. My tongue failed me again. I didn’t think I could ever earn your forgiveness. I—”
“You don’t have to go any further, Remus,” I said quietly. “I forgave you a long time ago. All I want now is your love.”
Remus smiled bleakly. “You’ve always had that, Nymphadora.” Remus leaned in to kiss me gently. I wondered if this was one of those moments for which entire romance novels are written. We sank into the bed together in a warm embrace and stayed there most of the night.
Dumbledore’s funeral was the next day. We breakfasted early. Savage was up before we finished. “Morning Tonks,” He said sleepily. “No sign of Dawlish last night. I imagine he didn’t fancy coming back here after he reported you ‘n’ all.”
I looked up from my plate of egg-pebbles. “He reported me?” Remus didn’t look up, but he tilted his head listening carefully.
Savage nodded. “I don’t think Scrimgeour would have noticed if Merlin was at Hogwarts last night. He didn’t need us there… you guys took care of the death eaters.” He paused with a glass in his hand. “Is it true? About Charlie’s brother?” I nodded my head. “Ripped apart by a werewolf…” He eyes darted to Remus then back to me.
“Fenrir is an abomination of a werewolf,” I said sharply. “Brad, I do appreciate your concern… but trust me, not many werewolves digress like that.” I took a few bites of egg without talking.
Remus seemed to have connected a few dots while Savage and I talked. “Have you seen Charlie lately?” He asked lightly. Bill and I never specified who Charlie was seeing; this was Remus’ way to see if he guessed the right guy. Savage smiled shyly and said he hadn’t seen Charlie in quite a while, but he had been invited to Bill and Fleur’s wedding.
We excused ourselves and made for the castle. The funeral was held near the lake. It was a beautiful day for a funeral. We found seats together. Remus held my hand in his like a person holds an injured butterfly. During the ceremony, the sun felt like a blanket of hope… a bit like Dumbledore’s hand on all of us. I don’t remember starting to cry, but the tears came steadily. I looked at Remus, he was holding himself together. I knew that it was a far too public arena for him to be openly emotional. The tears that did make their way out of his eyes caused his face to shimmer in the light. It made his face look almost angelic.
After the funeral, we looked around for Harry. Ron said that Scrimgeour walked off with him. Hermione was sobbing into his shoulder. They walked towards the castle, both looking bleak. We ran into Robards on our way back to Hogsmeade. He was looking stern.
“I need to have a word with you, Tonks,” he said ignoring that I was with someone coming from a funeral. “I’ve been quite disappointed with your cooperation this past year. I heard so many good things about you when I took over the Auror department…” He handed me an official looking letter. “You’re suspended until further notice. You’ll vacate your room at the flat here by tonight.”
I blinked at him slowly. I couldn’t quite believe I was being ousted from the department… from the only job I had ever wanted. I quietly acknowledged his words and walked away with Remus. We were hand in hand and together which was one of the only blessing I had that day.
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