Chapter 1 : Irony
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------ by: ButterflyRogue ------
It was ironic, really.
Regarding the fact that he had already lost them all once before would make one think he had gotten used to it, for anything already felt once is believed to be easier somehow. The first time’s the worst, right?
No one actually cares how terribly wrong that belief is.
Of course. As long as it served the purpose, as long as it provided at least a trace of comfort, no one really gave it a second thought.
Remus Lupin, however, knew very well that no matter how many times the losing process came to repeat itself, he would always feel the same dull emptiness slowly turning to unbearable pain that somehow never seemed to go away completely, perhaps only subside time after time.
Remus Lupin knows, because, Remus Lupin had already lost it all once.
In a matter of those few autumn days, he had lost all of the people that he cared about and that, more importantly, actually also cared about him. Or at least he thought that way. He had also lost all of his hopes than, for all of those hopes and dreams included them somehow. His friends, his only real family.
Not even when after all those years he had finally been reunited with one of his thought-to-be long lost friends, did the pain really go away. It only hid somewhere deeper within him, waiting for his moment of weakness to outnumber the small joys filling that past year he had spent in a house on number twelve Grimmauld square, and take region in his mind and soul yet again.
For, every misfortune, every single loss of a loved one felt as a small death of him. A death of one part of his soul no fond memories or possible future glimpses of joy could ever revive.
Yes, Remus Lupin had indeed been through this before, but the realization never made it one bit easier.
And that was the irony of it.
Someone once said that love and pain go hand in hand through life.
What is love without pain indeed? When a loved one leaves, whether willingly or by the grim hand of death, the feeling of over-consuming numbness can only be described as horrible pain pressing at the lungs, heavy in the pit of the stomach, constricting the throat and itching behind the lids to shed as many tears as possible until actual headache and dizziness from too much crying ensues. There might not be a true definition of how a broken heart hurts in medical books - a rare of his beloved books, actually, would even place this illness under matters of heart condition, or any other existing condition by that matter - but no one who had not experienced it, is in title to say heartbreak can not be described as pain. Such pain, actually, that even the Cruciatus curse might sometimes seem as a blessing in comparison – masking the emotional breakage with physical struggle for, what is a man with a broken heart, of shattered soul? Only an empty shell of flesh and bones.
What is left of such man indeed?
Remus Lupin had loved once. Back when the times still carried the illusion of invincibility and carefree school life.
Once she looked at him and the whole world felt different somehow.
It was wonderful and joyous and for real and she seemed to outshine everything else.
However, the rules were simple. In life, only sorrows count. Love shone upon him no longer than a final ray of setting Sun, already bleeding intense reds in the Black Lake, but somehow still struggling to outshine the rising moonlight up until a Giant Squid’s tentacle would disturb the glass-like surface and ruin the pattern of its dying artist.
Once she passed him by. With a man he knew just enough to nod in greeting and Remus Lupin had suddenly gotten a chance to feel how the loss of love hurts the same way, however, the intensity of pain is quite different indeed, the very way of hurting an art for itself.
By some simple rules of life, every loss should feel at least similar, shouldn’t it?
Of course, those so-called simple rules were never correct, nor simple by that matter.
Still, they somehow managed to pass from one generation to the other, almost as national heritage, folk poetry and other beauties of one’s culture, no matter how terribly wrong everyone knew and claimed them to be.
That was the beautiful irony of it.
However, the Sun is bound to rise the next morning, glorious once again in its sparkling pink brilliance.
Still, by the time She appeared, he had long thought it would be impossible to love ever again, to love that much.
Because, he would never allow himself to lose a loved one again. Never again.
He would never again get attached, much less fall in love. And the promise seemed as firm as an Unbreakable Vow in his mind for years.
He chooses to neglect the nervous beating of his heart while he stands in one of the hallways of St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries for it is surely a mere concern for a fellow fighter, possibly only slightly induced by the already consuming pain of loss of a friend. It doesn’t mean a thing that She looks so pale, her hair an unusually common colour, her face contracting as if each breath She takes burns her lungs.
But why than is it so hard to simply enter that room? Why is he so reluctant, why wasting so much time on simply watching her through the looking glass?
But he does not wish to reconsider those questions. He does not wish to know the answer to them simply because those moments of silent watching have already become a habit by now.
Nymphadora tripping over the umbrella stand.
Nymphadora singing along the music playing on a Wireless.
Nymphadora looking at him with Her eyes big, Her lashes incredibly long and thick, with Her head only slightly cocked at the side, the left corner of Her lips curved a bit upwards and with Her fingers crossed under that small, sharp chin resting on them.
Pink Nymphadora, or orange or blue or purple or green or yellow or red, the colour a completely irrelevant part of this sentence.
No, the answers to the aforementioned questions carried too much of ‘Nymphadora’ with them. Too much of lovely, youthful, lively, laughing Nymphadora for whom the depths of his mind, the plains of his thoughts should have forever remained a restricted area.
However, he also should have known that boundaries and rules and restrictions gave Nymphadora Tonks only one choice – to break every single one of them.
Still, he fixes a small smile to mask the obvious loss written in his eyes before he enters the room because, no matter what anyone should say, one of his personal missions is to please Her.
And the smile immediately becomes truer the second She smiles back. Despite the pain and the obvious discomfort of Her position, She smiles back.
Her voice is as light as summer breeze, Her eyes genuinely pleased to see him, Her eyes lit with a special sparkle he so naively dares to believe exists in there only for him.
“How are you doing, Nymphadora?”
She cringes at the name, but only for a bit, more out of a habit than actually because She is angry at him.
“I remember being better. The worst bloody trip down the stairs I’ve ever had, and believe me, I’ve had quite a few.”
The injuries have not harmed Her spirit and, almost involuntary, he smiles wider. The guilt nags him a bit, though. One of his best friends is dead, this time not only spirit-broken and convicted to life long prison, but actually dead without even given a chance to clear his name and he is here, supposedly the unfortunate bearer of the bad news, but instead grinning like some hormone-struck teenager and almost neglecting another one of his personal missions – to keep the aforementioned friend’s little cousin out of his thoughts.
The mission was doomed from the start, a part of him knows it, but Remus Lupin will keep fighting even though, at this precise moment, the only thing he can place his mind on is what piece of heaven for his little cursed soul would be to taste those smiling lips.
That was the ridiculous irony of his own chaotic thoughts, too illogic and unnatural to even be thought of as a characteristic of the ever-reasonable Remus Lupin.
“And for a man of your intelligence, you sure find it hard to remember not to call me Nymphadora.”
She drawls Her name with disgust, but he can’t help it though. Tonks just feels a bit… off. Tonks is so short, so unnoticeable, so ordinary and She is anything but ordinary. Tonks is not an elaborate enough name for someone as special as Her.
Of course, She will never know that, because he still has enough sense not to voice that little theory of his. The last thing She needs to know is that some old man bides his time pondering over what name fits Her better.
“Do understand, old men tend to forget.”
She rolls Her eyes, as if to say “You are being ridiculous, Remus” with that exasperated tone of Hers, though it makes Her smile go wider and She rubs Her tender ribs a bit for it hurts Her to laugh too hard. But he had made Her happy, if only for a moment, and it is almost enough for him to feel happy as well.
“The ward for magic induced mind injuries is at fourth floor, by the way. You might want to get yourself checked while you’re around, make sure you haven’t been Confunded to think you’re Nicolas Flamel.”
She smirks mischievously as he comes to sit by Her bed.
The light-heartedness lasts a heartbeat longer before he remembers the official reason of his visit. She notices the change of his behaviour to discomfort and he notices She noticed for Her smile falters. He fully expects Her to ask what is wrong, too familiar with the undying curiosity of Her eyes.
He had analysed Her eyes as well, not only Her name.
Her hand finds his and he breaths in deeply, preparing for the delivering of the grim notification, already envisioning that joyous twinkle of Her eye being replaced by the shimmer of tears, suddenly his pain seeming of so little importance comparing to Hers.
Just like ‘Tonks’, tears are completely unfitting to Her.
“Thank you for coming to see me here. It really means a lot.”
Her voice is silent and sincere and Her hold on his hand is warm and gentle and for a moment he is bedazzled, not understanding the meaning behind her words. Not understanding Her wish to get away from the terrible truth She can foresee is coming.
“I… It’s the least I could do. You gave us all quite a fright.”
And it is important to stress out the ‘all’ part because admitting that Her fall during the fight in the Department of Mysteries had distracted him so much, he had to seriously resist the urge to simply Avada Kedavra Lucius Malfoy just so he could go and see whether She’s all right as soon as possible, was not something She is in title to hear.
She is silent, the smile a mere grimace, more to keep the impression of her colourful self even with her hair all dark and brown and ordinary.
“Nymphadora… I actually came to tell you about Sirius…”
And Her eyes. Those big, dark eyes that seem to glimmer somewhere between ashen brown and mysterious dark green, seeming to reach deep within him and pull those dark curtains of pain out from the submission they have taken in Her joyous presence, cloak his eyes with shadows, but replacing the dull emptiness with painful constricting of his chest at the sight of Her own curtains of darkness appearing.
Darkness. Another thing completely unable to identify with Nymphadora Tonks.
The lump in his throat is heavy with years of loss, it never before seemed to feel as big.
“Sirius is dead. A curse from Bellatrix Lestrange grazed him and--- and in an attempt to evade it, he fell through the Veil.”
He tried to keep his tone steady, he tried to deliver the news calmly, yet still letting Her see the compassion he felt with Her pain, letting Her know he would be Her stronghold, Her shoulder to cry on.
He can not judge whether he was successful or failed miserably.
“Bellatrix got to him after I fell? After I became unable to resume my fight with her?”
He whispers truthfully, his eyes studying their intertwined fingers on the mattress beside Her.
“It was not your fault.”
The guilt in Her voice is obvious, he can recognize it quite well for he had felt a lot of guilt in his life and he rushes to at least relive Her of that terrible, nagging feeling.
“Nymphadora, it’s not!”
She refuses to look at him anymore, doesn’t even react to the name. She refuses to cry as well, he can see Her eyes squinting and blinking rapidly to drive the tears away. She could have died as well and he feels anxious and guilty for being happy because She didn’t, while another life dear to him was still lost.
“No one even knew he was innocent all along.”
“You knew. And everyone else in the Order. Besides, the fate of those who pass the Veil is not entirely familiar not to even the most praised of scholars. There might still be a chance…”
It is obvious She would like the most to avoid the subject and Remus feels terrible for giving her false hope where there was scarcely any.
“I heard Dementors are actually the discarded bodies of the souls that fall through the Veil and remain trapped there.”
“Well, it would be a little ironic for him to become a Dementor, wouldn’t it?”
There is no humour in his voice, only bitterness, yet he feels stupid for even thinking of a joke, albeit more of a sarcastic remark, during a time like this. How terribly stupid of you, Remus Lupin, not even Sirius would do something like that…
Sirius…dead…Almost unimaginable, he was a fighter, bound to be famous some day with his charm and talent, he survived Azkaban, he escaped Azkaban! It was so hard to believe he had died so – unnoticed.
There is a ghost of a smile on Her pale face, but he is sure She must pity him, if She already didn’t by now.
“You’re right. It would be terribly ironic.”
Her fingers tighten around his and She resumes eye-contact. Tears cling heavily to Her lashes and he knows they are thinking the same thing, no word is appropriate enough to provide comfort to those thoughts.
So many losses… How many more loved ones will perish?
The pain is simply too immense, there is only as much a person could handle, isn’t it? Not even hiding those scars from fifteen years ago behind life-induced ever-sorrowful eyes helped anymore.
Her eyes bore into his with innocent intensity, Her own pain displayed in dark orbs so sincerely, so openly. With his lips he provided the kind of a comfort he had longed for a long time, instinctively, this time without thinking. The common sense and reason of Remus Lupin had lost once and for all, any further fighting would simply be over-stretching it.
She responds to the kiss with equal longing suppressed for a long time, every hidden meaning behind Her spoken words, every one of Her thoughts and desires She never dared to voice suddenly coming out completely clear.
And the Vow was broken.
It was the death of him.
It was a whole new beginning brimming, as an eternally repeating birth of Sun in the east.
And that was the irony of it.
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