Author’s Note: I got this idea into my head awhile ago and I could not let it go. I had to start writing it. It’s going to get fairly dark, I think, but I hope you stick with it. This is an attempt to improve my writing, as well as an experiment in present tense and longer chapters, and I hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: While I desperately wish I was J.K.R., the fact that I am writing fan fiction proves that I am, sadly, not her.
There are times where Nymphadora Tonks has to force herself to get out of bed, and this is one of them.
It’s hard, she decides, to find the passion for life that she had once harbored even in the midst of this goddamn awful war.
She supposes it had been different when her mentor, Mad-Eye, had owled her about a year ago, inquiring as to whether she believed Dumbledore and Harry’s story about the return of Voldemort. After replying yes, he had brought her into the Order of the Phoenix, and while it was a daunting role, she had been quite enthusiastic.
Now, though, she wonders what the hell she has gotten herself into.
Sirius’ death has been hard on her. She hadn’t been particularly close to him, she muses, but he had been unwaveringly kind and supportive throughout her constant pursuit of and heartbreak over his best friend. When Remus had rejected her, Sirius had been the one to pick up the pieces- and insist that she keep trying.
When she had woken up in Saint Mungo’s three days after the fiasco at the Department of Mysteries, she had discovered Remus sitting by her bed, head in hands. He had smiled at her tiredly and tried to deflect her questions, but she was unwavering in her thirst for the knowledge of what had taken place after she fell. He had grudgingly obliged, detailing Dumbledore’s arrival, Harry’s pursuit of Bellatrix, and the appearance of Voldemort. He hesitated when she pressed him about casualties, and she knew with absolute certainty that she would not like the answer.
“Sirius is dead.”
She had cried for a week.
She knows it is her fault that he died. She had been dueling Bellatrix, and if Tonks had just finished her aunt off, or at least put her out of the fight, Bellatrix could not have killed Sirius.
She still feels the dull ache in her stomach at the thought of him, and the only thing that gets her up that morning is the thought of seeing Remus. She, Remus, Mad-Eye, and the Weasleys were meant to greet Harry and the others at King’s Cross Station that afternoon, and she and Remus are going out for lunch at the Leaky Cauldron afterward.
Mechanically, she goes through the motions of getting dressed. She chooses her Weird Sisters tee, because it is comfortable and she doesn’t feel up to trying to look good today. She digs through her closet until she finds her softest pair of jeans, as she knows that she can’t go to King’s Cross in pajama pants. The jeans are so worn out that they are covered in patches, but Tonks doesn’t care. They are her most comfortable pair, and that’s what she needs right now- comfort.
She lives with her parents since the Order has vacated Grimmauld Place, but she doesn’t mind. In fact, she thinks that this worked out perfectly. She doubts that she would be able to return to Grimmauld Place without Sirius- Remus or no Remus. She smiles forcedly at her mum as she passes through the kitchen on her way to the door, declining the food that is offered by her father. She knows they are concerned by her lack of appetite. She just cannot bring herself to eat anything.
Her hair is still pink today, because she is cheered slightly due to getting out of the house. She also knows pink hair will drive Harry’s aunt bonkers, and who wouldn’t want to annoy the hell out of that woman? Tonks certainly does.
She Apparates to the drive of the Burrow, where they are all meeting before going to King’s Cross. She raps gently on the front door, which is opened by one of the twins.
“Hey, Tonks,” Fred greets, grinning.
“Wotcher,” she says, walking past him into the kitchen.
Everyone else is already there: Mad-Eye stands in a corner, drinking his from his hip-flask and his magical eye revolving slowly; Molly bustles about the kitchen with lunch dishes; Fred and George demonstrate a Muggle magic trick from their shop for Arthur; Remus sits in a chair at the table, a glass of pumpkin juice in his hand. Tonks leans against the wall, allowing her tired eyelids to close as she tunes out the chatter of the others. A hand touches her shoulder and she jumps, her eyes flying open, her hand automatically going to her wand. Remus withdraws his hand from her shoulder and she smiles apologetically at him.
“Are you alright?” he questions, his dark eyes concerned. She shrugs. “Nymphadora, you know it’s not-”
“We should get going, Molly,” she calls, cutting across him. She has no wish to discuss Sirius with Remus.
Remus frowns at her as they board the Knight Bus, but Tonks ignores him and curls up in a chair against the wall. He takes the seat next to her, turning to look at her as the bus moves forward with a BANG.
“Don’t call me that, Remus.”
He sighs. “I really think you’re being too hard on yourself. Sirius wouldn’t want you to blame yourself.”
She glares at him, fighting back tears. “Well, seeing as he isn’t here, I can do whatever I damn well please.” She turns away from him, resting her head against the wall.
“Can we please not talk about this, Remus?” she asks, her voice breaking slightly. She feels him put a comforting arm around her shoulders, and, in spite of herself, leans into it.
He stays by her side as they walk into King’s Cross, trailing slightly behind the others. When they reach the barrier between platforms nine and ten, Remus leans in and opens his mouth to speak. She holds up her hand to silence him.
“Remus, please, just let it go, alright? I want to be able to act happy when Harry gets here. He’s got to be hurting more than any of the rest of us.”
Remus nods and smiles sadly at her, brushing his hand against her cheek once before turning his attention a small group of distinctly unhappy people standing a slight distance away.
“That’s them, right, Arthur?” Remus comments quietly, nodding subtly in their direction. Arthur cocks his head to the side, scrutinizing them.
“I think so,” he says, staring at them with evident curiosity. Molly follows his gaze and purses her lips, her expression cold. “Oh, hello!” Arthur exclaims with delight, spotting the Grangers. “How are you?”
Suddenly, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny appear in front of the barrier, lugging their trunks and their pets’ cages. Tonks hastily arranges her features into a more pleasant expression as Harry’s face registers his shock.
Molly throws her arms around her youngest children as Hermione makes her way over to her parents. Harry hangs back, looking out of place, until Molly bestows a hug upon him too. After prying himself away from her motherly affection, Harry makes his way over to Remus, Tonks, and Moody looking confused as to the size of the group.
“Well,” explains Remus with a hint of a smirk, “we thought we might have a little chat with your aunt and uncle before letting them take you home.”*
Moody overrides Harry's hesitancy and insists on the little chat before his eyes (both magical and not) swivel to the Dursleys appraisingly. Tonks stifles as laugh as she, Remus, and Harry look back at the Dursleys; they look horrified at Harry’s present company.
“Ah, Harry!” Arthur calls, turning away from the Grangers. “Well- shall we do it, then?”*
“Yeah, I reckon so, Arthur.” Mad-Eye and Arthur lead the way across the station to the Dursleys. Hermione, having disentangled herself from her mother, follows.*
The son, whose name Tonks cannot remember, seems to be under the impression that he is small enough to hide behind his large father; he is sorely mistake, just as his father is in thinking he can threaten a seasoned Auror like Mad-Eye. The group of wizards is easily able to intimidate the Muggles, especially with Moody's magical eye having been revealed to Mr. Dursley. As the group turns away from them, Mrs. Dursley whimpers; they ignore her.
The group says their farewells and departs in their separate directions.
Remus turns to Tonks. “Shall we?” She nods and follows him out of the station and onto the street that will take them to the Leaky Cauldron. They walk in silence, neither of them wanting to broach either of the inevitable topics of conversation. Remus holds the pub door open for her and she leads the way inside, choosing a small table in a secluded corner. It is nearly empty, and Tom, the barman, looks extremely pleased to have customers. He hurries over to them as Remus takes the seat next to Tonks.
“What’ll it be?” He asks eagerly.
“A firewhiskey, please,” Tonks says, not looking at the menu.
Remus frowns at her over his menu. “Aren’t you going to eat?” She shakes her head and he sighs. “A Butterbeer and Shepard’s Pie, please,” he says, handing their menus to Tom, who scurries away. “Nymphadora, you should eat something.”
“For the last time, Remus, don’t call me that!” She snaps, crossing her arms angrily. There is a heavy silence.
“Sorry,” Remus mutters.
Tonks shakes her head. “I shouldn’t have snapped.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Another tense silence falls, in which Tom brings their drinks. Tonks takes a large gulp of firewhiskey, feeling the familiar warmth spread through her body. She feels suddenly less guarded and finds that she needs to talk about Sirius. Sirius… She downs the rest of her firewhiskey while Remus looks on, concerned.
“Er… Nymph- Tonks?”
And then she is crying, tears streaming down her face as she releases the pent up sadness and guilt that she has let build up. Remus stares at her, alarmed.
“It’s my fault, R-Remus… all m-my fault… if I wasn’t s-s-so incompetent I c-could have finished h-her off and then S-S-Sirius would still be here…”
Remus wraps his arms around her, tucking her head into his shoulder and rubbing her back. “Nymphadora, it is not your fault. Bellatrix is an extremely skilled witch and anyone would have a tough time with her. She’s second only to Voldemort based on skill-level and I’m glad that she didn’t kill you too. I don’t know what I’d do if she had.” His voice grows very quiet and he trails off, still rubbing her back in small circles. She continues to cry, though her sobs are quieter now, and eventually they taper off. She gulps, sniffles, and leans her head back to look at him.
“Thanks,” she says, her eyes still wet.
“Did you really mean it?”
“That you don’t know what you’d do if I had died,” she whispers, so softly he can barely hear her.
“Yes,” he says, even more quietly.
They gaze at each other for a moment, and Remus gently brushes away a stray tear with the pad of his thumb. His fingers linger on the side of her face, and she hesitantly presses her lips to his. He kisses her back, his large hands cupping her heart-shaped face, and she sighs happily. Remus gives her hope for the world, and for one moment, she feels safe with him in that little corner of the Leaky Cauldron…
Until he pulls away abruptly, his brown eyes widened with horror.
“What?” She asks urgently. “What is it?”
“I- We-” Remus shakes his head, looking upset. “I’m sorry, Nymphadora, but… we can’t do this.”
“Why not?” She demands, feeling panicky.
This cannot be happening, she thinks desperately. Please, Merlin, let this be a nightmare.
He stands up, gazing down at her sadly. “I’m too old, too poor, and too dangerous.”
“Bullshit!” She snaps, standing up too. “You give me the same excuse every time, Remus, but it is complete and utter bullshit!”
He looks away and shakes his head again. He gathers his cloak in his arms, digs in his pocket, and tosses a few Galleons on the table.
“Remus…” she steps closer to him, pleading. “Remus, please, don’t do this.”
“I’m sorry, Nymphadora.” He strides out the door, and she stares after him, her heart breaking into a million pieces.
She sinks slowly back into her chair, signaling for Tom to bring her another firewhiskey. She buries her face in her hands and allows a few tears escape.
It is a mark of her sorrow that she does not notice her hair slowly fading to a dark, mousy brown.
Author’s Note: And there you are. I’m pretty pleased with it, and I hope you are too. All of the dialogue at King’s Cross marked with a * is taken from the American hard-cover edition of Order of the Phoenix, chapter 38: The Second War Begins. Please, review, and tell me what you think!