Tonks took a step back, feeling muddy-headed and slow. The back of her knee hit the corner of the stone bench, and she lost her balance, lurching on the uneven ground and barely managing to stay on her feet. "Remus... what...?"
"Who are you?" he repeated, his voice cold, his wand steady. He came closer, the tip of his wand only an inch from her face. "Tell me right now."
"It's me!" Tonks said. "What's got into you?"
"I've been having trouble..." But his eyes narrowed even further at this. She braced herself for the pain she'd felt this morning, concentrated harder than she'd ever had to concentrate. Fire seemed to rip through her skull. At the periphery of her vision, she saw the tip of her hair go pink.
Remus frowned, lowering his wand slightly but still looking murderous. "We never knew about Polyjuice... it could allow..."
"Remus, dammit, it's me. You've been talking to me. You kissed me. You know it's me."
"When you were eight," he said, "you drew me a picture. It's always been on my wall. What kind of animals are in it, and why?"
"Whales," Tonks said, with some relief. "Because you were going to teach in Wales and I thought they were the same thing."
He stared at her for a moment longer, his eyes burning, his knuckles turning white against the wood of his wand. Her heart seemed to be beating deep in her abdomen, and her eyes ached with frustrated tears. She could feel her nails cutting into her palm.
He lowered his wand. "All right, Dora," he said, but he still looked suspicious. Or angry.
"What in the hell is going on?" she demanded.
Remus pointed behind her. "Your Patronus is coming back," he said, his eyes lowered.
A white glow, lower to the ground than her Patronus usually flew, seeped around her knees. She looked down.
And let out a scream.
Since the end of her sixth year, her Patronus, a swarm of butterflies that had caused no end of hilarity in the Hufflepuff Common Room the first time she'd Conjured it, had been a constant, welcome companion. Her friend Sanjiv had drawn her surrounded with them, smiling and happy, and the picture was still taped to the inside of her school trunk. She had sometimes cast the Patronus Charm just to keep herself company and fill her flat with light.
The butterflies were nowhere to be seen.
Instead, a long-nosed wolf crept through the mist beside her, its teeth bared at Remus, its tail stirring the mist behind it. It looked up at her, then dissipated.
She looked at Remus. "I don't understand."
"Neither do I."
"I cast it with your wand..."
"Dora, you know as well as I do that the Patronus comes from the witch or wizard, not from the wand."
"But that's... I mean, it's..."
He nodded, his face oddly tight and closed off. "I think so, yes. I've never actually seen it, except possibly in a mirror at Ministry. But, yes. It is. I'm sure of it. And I assure you, that would not be my Patronus."
"I know it's not your Patronus. Apparently, it's mine." She drew her own wand, cast the charm non-verbally, and the wolf loped out into the mist, sniffed the air, then looked at her in a confused way and disappeared. "I'd read about things like that happening," she said. "It doesn't happen often. Leave it to me to come up with a rare shapeshift, right?" She turned around, feeling low and tired.
Remus's eyes were still lowered. "It's unusual," he said. "We need to tell Dumbledore."
"It's rare, but I don't think--" She sighed. "Right. Order identity."
Remus raised his wand and sent his Patronus into the night. It flashed brightly for a moment then disappeared, seeking out Dumbledore. Remus sat down on the bench again.
Tonks sat beside him and reached for his hand.
He flinched away, then looked at her apologetically and took her hand in both of his. "I'm sorry," he said. "It's a little strange to me. For that to be anyone's protector. It's the worst part of me."
"I didn't mean to... well, obviously I didn't mean to."
"Of course not. And I shouldn't have questioned you so harshly."
"If I'd been a Death Eater who was pretending to be me, I'd probably be dead, so I'll consider that your romantic mode of avenging me."
"If I'd really believed you'd killed you, there wouldn't have been questions." He looked at her carefully. "What did you mean, you've been having trouble morphing?"
"It hurt to pink my hair this morning. And I couldn't get it to stay that way."
He nodded. "It's already going back."
"I'm not feeling particularly pink."
"Has this happened before?"
"Not this badly. I didn't even know my hair was this horrid color."
"It's your mum's color, and it's perfectly lovely on you."
Tonks wrinkled her nose, then shrugged. "There are graver problems in the world."
He rolled his eyes. "You do know you're beautiful, don't you?"
"There's no way to answer that question without sounding either needy or arrogant."
"I suppose not." He looked out across the orchard, in the direction his Patronus had gone. "How long has it been since you cast your Patronus?"
"I'm not sure. You've been doing most of our corresponding, and there haven't been any Dementors at work lately."
"Have you cast it since Sirius died?"
"You think it changed when..." She shook her head. "Wouldn't it have changed to Padfoot? Wouldn't that make more sense?"
"Anything would make more sense than what it is," Remus said, and his upper lip curled in distaste. Tonks didn't think he was aware of this. "But it is what it is, so it has to make sense on some level, at least to you. And there had to have been some shock to your system to cause the change. It may have been when you got hurt."
"The last thing I remember when I was falling was something trying to catch me. And I saw you running toward me. There seemed to be a very long time before I hit the floor."
"There wasn't. And I couldn't catch you."
Something flashed orange in front of them, and Tonks looked up to see Fawkes, shimmering in a ball of fire for a brief moment before disappearing again. A scroll fell out of the air.
Remus caught it and read it. "Dumbledore said to send your Patronus along with mine, and he'll know I witnessed it and knew it was you. Then he'll find some way to get word to the Order."
"Well, it's a different sort of togetherness, I suppose," she said, and drew her wand. Remus nodded, and they sent the two Patronuses off together, Tonks's new companion looking a bit dodgy even to her. She sighed. "I feel like it should have great symbolism or something," she said. "Our Patronuses going off together. But it just looks like two Patronuses wandering about."
Remus grinned. "I don't think our Patronuses are required to be in love with one another, Dora."
They sat together on the bench for a bit longer, talking in a disjointed way about the Order and Voldemort and everything but the new Patronus Tonks had discovered. She wasn't sure he noticed that he didn't kiss her goodnight when he left, though he did manage to press his wand into her hand and refuse to take it back.
She ducked back into the Burrow's kitchen just after midnight to retrieve her handbag, and Molly sent her off with a sandwich for lunch tomorrow ("I was making them for Arthur and Bill, and I thought you might like one as well") and a curious glance in the direction she'd walked off in. Tonks decided not to mention anything just yet. She'd hear it from Dumbledore soon enough.
She got back to her parents' a few minutes later and had a pleasant midnight snack with Dad, then went to her room, intending to sleep before work tomorrow, instead lying in her narrow childhood bed, listening to Granny's shallow, broken purring and thinking about her butterflies, and how they had danced around her.
She cast her new Patronus not long before dawn, and it sniffed around her room in a mildly curious way before trotting over to her and sitting on its haunches. It regarded her in a benign way, but it wasn't a comforting image, even as a Patronus. Its teeth were sharp, its claws powerful lines of light. Its eyes, formed from swirling cloud-stuff, were hypnotically beautiful, but predatory.
"Moony," she said, reaching out to it, touching its insubstantial snout.
It leaned forward, a spectral tongue brushing across her fingers, then dissipated on its own.
Tonks continued to lie awake, not really thinking about anything, thinking she might take her first sick day in months tomorrow if she didn't get some sleep soon. Instead, she dragged herself out of bed at seven-thirty and made her way to Auror headquarters, where she got a forceful reminder that the whole world shifted its shape from time to time.
As soon as the lift door opened on level two, Tonks knew something had happened.
There was none of the usual chatter, no high-strung laughter from people coming off of a stressful Saturday night shift. A few people were standing in the aisles between the cubicles, looking dazed. In his cubicle, Dawlish was staring at a blank report scroll, blinking rapidly. He moved a quill toward the scroll, moved it away, moved it back again.
"Dawlish?" she said, taking a tentative step toward the entrance.
He looked up, wrinkled his nose in unhidden dislike, and determinedly set to filling out his report.
A dark hand fell on her shoulder. "Good morning, Tonks," Kingsley Shacklebolt said.
He started walking her to her cubicle. "Amelia Bones is dead," he said quietly. "She was found in her flat early this morning. A Muggle neighbor with whom she habitually breakfasts became concerned when she didn't appear, and called their policemen. They're quite confused, of course. There was no way in or out. Signs of quite a struggle, but no sign of escape or entrance."
Tonks tried to absorb this, her mind still fuzzy from lack of sleep. "Her anti-Apparition wards?" she asked.
"Shattered," Kingsley said, rubbing his head. They reached Tonks's cubicle and she sat down. Kingsley leaned against the wall. "Dawlish was the first of ours on the scene. He didn't have much freedom to investigate, but judging by trace magic, he thinks there were at least three attackers."
Tonks couldn't think of what to say. The lift doors rattled open, there was some whispered conversation, then a gasp and a sob. Savage hurried by a moment later, looking green. Amelia Bones had been a fair-minded department head, and had been respected and liked by both sides of last year's office war. Losing her was losing an island of sanity in a world gone mad.
Kingsley remained quiet, leaning against the wall, his brow furrowed. He stood up after a moment, sighing. "It's likely that You-Know... Voldemort killed her himself," he said. "Even Bellatrix wouldn't be a match for Amelia on fair terms."
"And Bellatrix is known for her fair terms..."
"We don't know who was there with You... with him. But from the evidence, it looks like she put up quite a fight. And Voldemort would consider it worthy of his time to kill the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement."
Tonks nodded, her mind slipping carefully onto the paths of her work. "Dawlish suspects that Bellatrix was there?"
"We all do, but why do you ask?"
She told him about Dawlish's greeting. "He's never much liked me," she said.
"Nor me." Kingsley waved a dismissive hand. "Dawlish is an idiot. And he's not going to forget that we hid Sirius. He thinks you're too soft for your family, and he thinks I've developed an unhealthy interest in them as well."
"Not at all. He told me as much when I offered to help him with the case."
"I suppose I should stay away?"
"Probably. Though as of this morning, I have no authority whatsoever over you. Scrimgeour has reassigned me."
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Kingsley said. "You're reporting to Savage now."
Tonks nodded, resigned. "Where is Scrimgeour in the midst of this?"
"Off telling the Daily Prophet how hard he's personally working to capture Madam Bones's murderer. I expect he'll be at that for at least two more hours. They say he's first in line when Fudge goes down."
"Oh, good. Any rumors on who gets his job?"
"I doubt I'm in the running after deliberately cocking up an investigation I was heading," Kingsley said. "And you're too new. Beyond that, I honestly don't care much."
"Well, I suppose you know what you need to know," he said, starting to leave. He turned around and spoke more quietly. "I got an odd message from Dumbledore, about your Patronus?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"All right." He sighed. "Well, I'd best finish clearing out my cubicle for my next assignment."
He started to walk away, and Tonks almost missed the meaning of it. He was nearly to his cubicle when she felt something sick turn over inside her. She stood too quickly, knocking her chair over and not caring, and rushed around the block of cubicles to Kingsley's.
The walls were bare.
A bit of torn parchment was still tacked to the wall with Spellotape, and a single map was stuck at a forlorn angle just above his desk. The wastepaper basket was full to overflowing, and as she stared at it, a photograph seesawed down to the floor--Sirius at Hogwarts, mugging for the camera beside James Potter and Peter Pettigrew. The photo had a huge crease down the center, and all three boys were waving their hands at it in an irritated way. She let her gaze wander up to the fanned photos sticking up from the top--Sirius screaming mad laughter as he was cornered to be taken to Azkaban, Sirius at James and Lily Potter's wedding, a shadowy figure an informant had claimed was Sirius. Maps of known locations. The corner of a picture of Sirius with James and baby Harry. She pulled this sheaf out, and another fell to the floor--Sirius and Remus, looking impossibly young, standing on the docks in a city Tonks didn't recognize, the ocean filled with white sailboats behind them. A fat elbow told her that Peter Pettigrew was standing just out of frame. Sirius and Mum as children, dressed in holiday robes, standing in the drawing room at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place... heaven knew where Kingsley had found that, as Auntie would undoubtedly have destroyed pictures of either of them, let alone both of them. Sirius with his arm protectively around his younger brother, Regulus, standing on Platform Nine and Three Quarters.
Kingsley was squatting across from her, and she realized that she was groping on the floor for another picture.
She blinked at the handful she already had. "I'm sorry," she said. "I don't know what just got into me."
"It's all right. I should have asked if you wanted any of them. I didn't think about it." He looked at her curiously. "Are you all right, Tonks?"
"Fine." She gathered several of the better pictures and stacked them neatly. She thought Remus might want the school pictures. "I'm fine."
"No, you're not."
"If you're going to give me the answer, then why ask the question?"
"Two days in a row with brown hair, grabbing up wrinkled photographs, and a new Patronus... it's not like you."
"Are you going to put a wand in my face and accuse me of kidnapping myself and then coming in to impersonate me at work?"
"Just to steal pictures of Sirius, apparently." He smiled faintly. "No, you're you," he said, pointing at a mirror above his desk. "We've put in four, on loan from the Department of Mysteries, Identity Division. The rest are in the Wizengamot offices and the Minister's offices. Dumbledore declined them at Hogwarts."
She gazed in, and saw nothing unusual. "True image mirrors?"
He nodded. "If you're Narcissa, you've aged very well, and the blonde color Potion is normally quite realistic." He smiled. "It's you, Tonks. And me, for that matter." He stood so she could see his reflection. "It avoids a lot of tedious cross-questioning."
"Maybe everyone should have one."
"It's absurdly complicated magic. The Identity Division didn't especially want to part with these. They were made over a hundred years ago, and no one knows how to make new ones."
"I sometimes think we're not very bright."
He smiled faintly. "I sometimes agree with you."
Tonks looked at the stack of pictures in her hand. "Do you mind if--?"
"Take any of them you'd like."
She nodded and started to leave.
"I think you should find someone to talk to who isn't an ill-tempered werewolf. You look like you could stand a bit of talking."
She shook her head. "You know, Kingsley, oddly enough, I've never in my life felt less like talking. Right now, I feel like working."
She left him there, getting ready for whatever his new assignment was, and ignored his advice to stay out of the Bones murder. She spent the next seven hours in a cubicle with a hostile Dawlish, analyzing the murder scene and the witness accounts, learning the last terrible moments of a good woman's life.
On Sunday night, Tonks helped Remus pack up his few belongings, sending them to the Shrieking Shack. They argued about his refusal to carry his wand, and parted without reconciling.
On Monday, Tonks had the day off, and slept until two in the afternoon, when she was awakened by the doorbell and a contrite Remus, who still refused to take his wand back.
On Tuesday morning, Cornelius Fudge was officially sacked as Minister of Magic, and Rufus Scrimgeour was selected as his replacement.
Shortly after lunch, Scrimgeour named Gawain Robards as his successor as head of the Auror Division.
At tea time, Tonks meant to meet Remus to discuss safety precautions on his mission, but discovered that he'd already gone.
At seven-thirty, Dad arrived home from work and told her that Remus had left a note. The note simply told her that he'd had to leave abruptly, and was sorry, and would be at the Burrow for Harry Potter's birthday on the thirty-first of July.
At nine, Mum arrived home to find Tonks crying at the kitchen sink and flew into a rage at Remus, which wasn't particularly helpful. Dad calmed her down.
At nine-forty-five, Emmeline Vance was found dead in an alley, the Dark Mark hovering low over her body and the withered phoenix feather that had resided in her broken wand lying sodden on the pavement beside her hand.
The night shift had already been occupied--Tonks would find out later that there had been a massive attack in the West Country--and she'd been hastily called in and sent to the scene by a harried assistant.
To her surprise, Kingsley was already there when she arrived, wearing a Muggle suit and carrying a very new briefcase. He had Vanished the Dark Mark and pocketed the phoenix feather, Obliviating the three Muggles who had seen these things, but there were too many people out and about near the Westminster tube station to hide the murder entirely.
The Muggle police had arrived almost immediately, and the flashing lights on their cars painted the world in a harsh, fluctuating storm of color, lighting first Emmeline's high cheekbones, then her sprawled legs, then her dark hair. The white blouse she'd been wearing was scarlet with her blood. Her eyes were open wide, unresponsive, and her mouth was drawn back in a scream. The Muggles were putting up blue checkered tape around her and snapping photographs. Some of the photographers appeared to be with the police, but others, busily elbowing one another out of the way, seemed to be in trade.
"Reporters," Kingsley hissed. "They're going to splash her over every tabloid in Britain by morning. Vultures. They'd kill for a picture and then fight for a clear shot of the corpse."
Tonks pointed her wand at them, disguising it under the wide butterfly sleeves of the blouse she'd pulled on, and a moment later, several of the cameras clattered to the ground. A great deal of noise arose as they accused one another of deliberate sabotage. Kingsley arched his eyebrow at her, and she shrugged.
She drew a battered billfold from her purse and tapped her Auror identification once, Transfiguring it into a Muggle document that identified her as an investigator in an obscure branch of the London police department. To her surprise, Kingsley didn't follow suit, and when she lifted the tape to reach the body, she did so alone.
"You can't be here, Miss," a young policeman said. "Crime scene."
She showed him her identity quickly. "Detective Inspector Dora Tonks," she said. "I was nearby, so they sent me over."
"Oh, right. Sorry then, Miss. Er, Inspector. I'm Constable Frank Neely." He stepped aside and squatted beside her as she bent to look at the body. "I can't tell what they killed her with. Could be cutting or bludgeoning. She's a mess. No purse, though. Must have been a robbery."
"Or a woman who doesn't habitually carry a handbag."
Neely flushed. "Right, of course. She was carrying that, though," he said, pointing at the corner of something that was protruding from under Emmeline Vance's hip. "Should I retrieve it?"
"Of course you should."
Neely made a great show of putting on gloves and picking up a clear plastic bag. He plucked the object out quickly and dropped it into the bag, then handed the bag to Tonks.
It was nothing but Emmeline's Muggle license for driving. Tonks didn't think she'd ever had much of a use for it, but it had her name on it. She took a deep breath. "Emmeline Vance," she said. She was a member of the original Order, and a school friend of my parents. She was Muggle-born. She had an emerald green shawl, and she thought it made her look very dignified. She was right. "We should get these people away from her."
The next twenty minutes were a blur of action as the Muggle police cleared the crowd and brought in experts to move the body. Gawain Robards himself arrived at the morgue with a story from the Muggle-Worthy Excuse department, giving a reason for the body to be inspected in the fictitious department they both allegedly worked for, and Tonks helped him get Emmeline to the St. Mungo's morgue. Mehadi Patil declared her dead. There was no reason to investigate--the Death Eater who'd attacked her had used a brutal cutting spell, and even the Muggles would have been able to tell that she'd bled to death.
Tonks went back to the scene with Robards when they'd finished. The Muggle police had left, with only the tape to mark it. A few curious Muggles passed by, but Robards quickly cast a Distraction Charm to keep them out.
Robards crouched beside a splash of blood beside a rubbish bin and ran his wand over it, muttering a detection spell. "Nothing," he said.
Tonks was hunched over the main blood spill, which was seeping into the cracked pavement. Her detection spells didn't pick anything up, either. The spells had once been useful, but most Dark Wizards were aware of them now, and only left traceable clues if they meant them as a warning. "Nor here," she said, and put her wand away. She turned over some loose papers and examined the wall Emmeline had fallen against. Spots of blood were fanned across it, and a handprint was vaguely visible against the bricks. "Whatever the spell was must have hit her hard. She was thrown into the wall before she fell."
"We saw some Cutting Curses last time," Robards said quietly. "I'd thought they were Dolohov's specialty, but we have him pretty securely in Azkaban, and there's been no sign of a break. Last year, when you were... not entirely working for us..."
"I was entirely an Auror..."
Robards cut her off with his hand. "I don't mean to impugn your dedication. I only mean to ask if you learned anything that would be useful to us in this. You and Shacklebolt have a year on the rest of us."
"I... I'm sorry, I thought..."
"I know what you thought. And you are on quite thin ice with me, Tonks. For all your dedication, you did lie, you did hide things, and you did hide a fugitive, however innocent he may have actually been. But there's no time for that now. Let Dawlish fume. I'm more interested in knowing what you know. We're at war."
Robards looked tired, and Tonks guessed that this mood wouldn't last long--he'd been hand-picked by Scrimgeour, and didn't have any special reputation for being open-minded--but she answered as well as she could, because he was right: they were at war, and the Auror division was as much on the front lines as the Order of the Phoenix. Unfortunately, what she knew didn't amount to much. Bellatrix specialized in the Cruciatus Curse, but there were so many sorts of Cutting Curses, and with most of the known Death Eaters--the ones she'd been able to research thoroughly--in Azkaban, she was flailing in the dark in too many cases. She mentioned that she was suspicious of Narcissa Malfoy, but that Narcissa tended toward more subtle attacks. Bellatrix was a good candidate, but there was nothing that really suggested her. Before Dolohov's first attack, he'd been quite chummy with a wizard in the West Midlands, of whom the Order continued to be suspicious; he was also a potential caster of cutting spells. The one thing she didn't share was the fact that they had a Death Eater on the inside. Compromising Snape's cover was out of the question. She'd have to get a message to him, to see if he knew anything, but in the meantime, she'd work with what she did know.
Robards listened to her carefully, then nodded. "It's a start." He sighed. "I have heard rumors of werewolf recruitment," he said.
Tonks's heart jumped into her throat. "In case you haven't noticed, the moon's not much more than a sliver at the moment."
"I know your... friend... is a werewolf, but he isn't the only one out there, and they are quite capable of attacking in human form. This sort of thing, the blood..." He shook his head. "I suppose there's nothing leading there. But I must ask you to keep your mind open on the subject. In fact, I must require you to do so. Will you be able to?"
He gave her a mistrustful look, then returned to his investigation, turning over a loose bit of paper tucked behind a dustbin to reveal a large sliver of Emmeline's wand, close to where her hand had been as she'd collapsed, crawling away from the wall with the Dark Mark lighting the sky above her.
"What's this?" Robards said.
Tonks crossed the small alley and looked over Robards' shoulder. He was holding the shard of Emmeline's wand, which was soaked with blood, and had uncrumpled the piece of paper.
In a shaky hand, Emmeline had managed to scratch the letters T and R. A diagonal line had begun next, but faded away as her blood had flowed from her. "A?" Tonks suggested. "T-R-A?"
"Initials? The beginning of a name?"
"It doesn't sound familiar. Could be a Travis, or a Traynor, or..." She stopped.
"Traitor," she said.
"Wonderful," Robards said. "May I say I truly hope there is a Death Eater called Travis?"
"Be my guest." Tonks considered it. "There's Travers. He was involved in the McKinnon murder."
Robards considered this dubiously--Travers hadn't been heard from since--then shook his head. "I think we'd best not make that big an assumption. Work on both leads. Don't spread this around. There's enough stress at the Ministry without people accusing everyone they see of treason. I'll investigate it myself."
"And if you're--"
"And you may investigate it independently."
They finished their examination of the scene in silence, then went home in different directions.
It didn't take long to arrange for Emmeline's funeral. Most of the Order of the Phoenix that wasn't undercover came, but summoning them had been a simple matter. Dumbledore had arrived late, with one arm heavily bandaged, and had looked for a long time at Emmeline's body before taking his seat beside Tonks's parents, who had sought him out. Tonks herself sat beside Moody, who insisted for some mad reason of his own that she take the outermost seat in a row, off near the cloak room. Hestia Jones had given the eulogy. It was all very short. Too short.
Emmeline had never married and had no family in the wizarding world, her friends outside the Order could be counted on one hand, and she'd been estranged from her Muggle family for years. There had never been any argument; it had apparently just been a kind of drifting, a thought that frightened Tonks in a deep and painful way.
"It happens," Dad said heavily, looking down at the body after the service. "It was just Mum and me when I was growing up, so I'd no one to lose. But the others? Cousins and great-aunts and even grandparents sometimes who couldn't be told anything? Old family friends offended because they were never invited to things? It happened a lot. Hurt feelings and drifting apart. We enter a new world, Dora. And it means leaving the old one behind, even if we don't mean to. That's why we always stuck together at school. Or at least we used to." He touched Emmeline's cold hand, and squeezed her fingers. "Stand down, Emmy," he said quietly to her. "We've got it now."
"Are you all right, Ted?" Mum asked, coming up on his other side.
"I'm going to talk to Dumbledore, Andromeda. I have to do something."
Mum closed her eyes and leaned against his arm. She muttered, "Don't," but then nodded. "I do as well. We both know that."
"Not what you were talking about before."
"I don't much like what you were suggesting, either."
Dad didn't answer.
Tonks looked between them, trying to understand what they were talking about; they'd always had a secret language, but she thought she'd learned to understand it long ago. This time, though, it was incomprehensible. Mum looked drained, and Dad...
When Tonks thought of her father, it was always with laughter and music, but now, he was grim and determined. He looked like pictures of his own father, in uniform for the second World War. Mum looked like someone was practicing Entrail Expelling curses on her.
Tonks hugged them both, then made her way over to Mad-Eye, who was talking to Kingsley beside the table where the tea set was sitting. Each of them had a cup.
"Wotcher," she said.
Kingsley nodded to her. "I was telling Mad-Eye how it happened," he said, expanding the Distraction Charm he was using to include her in their private conversation. "You did well for her, you know."
"Not well enough. Did you know that no one had seen her for a day before we found her?"
"Well, no one had. She never got to work, she never got home. They had her, Kingsley. They caught her before they killed her. Where is Snape? I want to know who did this."
"He wouldn't know. I'm sure he'd have found some way to get her out of it if he knew. He's sharp enough," Moody growled, a grimace on his face. "Anyway, he's not here. Can't very well be seen with us in public, at least not for something like this, can he? It's one thing to pretend to be an spy in the Order, but coming to a funeral isn't Snape's style, and he'd know it." He glanced over at the cloak room with his magical eye, then significantly back at Tonks. "He's not the only one who can't be seen, of course."
Tonks's heart rushed for a moment as she realized what he meant, but then she saw poor Emmeline on the bier at the front of the room. She nodded. "Right," she said. "I, er... think I left something with my cloak."
Kingsley and Mad-Eye patted her shoulders a few times, then sent her off. She went into the shadowy little alcove slowly, feeling for the Invisibility Cloak, but she didn't brush against it. Still, she thought she could hear breathing, and she could definitely feel the warmth of another body in the room with her. She busied herself shifting the cloaks around, pretending to search for something, and cast a Distracting Charm of her own to keep people from listening in. "Mad-Eye saw you," she said quietly.
"It's Mad-Eye's Cloak. He lent it to me. I wanted to say goodbye to Emmeline." He paused. "And to see you. I feel ashamed to use a funeral for it, but I..." A shaky sigh came out of the nothing behind her.
"Let me in, Remus," she said. "Let me under the cloak."
"It won't cover both of us."
"It will if we're close."
She wasn't sure what he would do, but after a moment, she felt him pass by her, slip into the deeper shadows on the other side of the alcove. The air shimmered, and an opening appeared. She slipped into it quickly, and his arms closed around her. It was stiflingly hot, and she could see only his chest, and that only dimly in the dark. She wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled herself as close as she could get.
He took a deep breath. She could feel his heart slowing, his muscles relaxing. "I feel like it's been a year," he said.
"It's been a lifetime."
"You were on the scene?"
"I'm so sorry. I should have been there for you."
"You have work to do."
"I should have been there. God, you deserve better than me."
"Don't say that. I'm so tired. I don't want to argue, so please don't make me."
"You should get some rest."
"I know. Later." She just let him hold her for a moment. "How are you doing, Remus? Really? How are things with the, er... pack?"
"It's not really a pack. They help each other out, but they're mostly alone. I studied wolf packs before I went and--"
Tonks was surprised to hear herself laugh.
"You studied how to be a better wolf?"
"Well, I thought I should know--"
She kissed his chest. "That's the most Remus-like thing I've ever heard you say. I love you very much."
He laughed softly. "You have very strange taste in men."
"Lucky for you."
"Very lucky for me. Not particularly lucky for you, though." He stroked the back of her neck with his strong fingers. "My Dora. How can I walk away from you?"
She went as cold as if a Dementor had entered the cloakroom. "What do you mean?"
He didn't answer. After a long time, he just said, "I have to go back. I'm expected."
An unexpectedly cold blast of air hit Tonks's back as he opened the Cloak, and she stepped back into the alcove quickly. For a moment, he let the cloak remain open, and she saw him--gaunt, scratched from head to toe, a great gash visible just above the neckline of his robes.
Then he let the Cloak close, and he was gone. He might have said goodbye, and she might have said goodbye, but he was gone, and when she reached for the spot he had been in, it was empty.
She went home with her parents, who were having a distracted argument about whatever they'd discussed with Dumbledore, and dinner before work was a tense affair. Neither of them seemed the least bit willing to tell her what the substance of the disagreement was.
When she got to work, the offices were mostly empty, the night shift teams already deployed, with the exception of her own. She checked the schedule.
He'd left a note beside the assignment, saying he'd gotten in early and had decided to get a bit to eat while he waited for her. She swiped it off the wall and crumpled it. A flash of movement above her caught her eye.
Glancing up, she saw another of the true image mirrors that had been installed. A mousy, brown-haired woman with sunken eyes and prominent cheek bones looked back down at her, blinking sleepily.
Who are you? she thought wearily. Who are you, and where is Nymphadora Tonks?
The woman in the mirror offered no particular answers. She just stayed there, unchanging and unsmiling.
After awhile, Tonks looked away.