Author’s Notes: I
owe a great deal of thanks to MrsTater for her beta-help on this story. Her suggestions have been
invaluable. And thank you to everyone who has been encouraging me to continue
writing this fic-universe. The story and chapter
titles are derived from the song “Stuck in a Moment” by U2, lyrics by Bono. And
be aware: this chapter is LOOONG. Make sure you're comfortable and in no hurry
to do anything else before you begin.
Chapter 1: These Tears are Going Nowhere
The sun set hours ago, and the pace and tone of Remus’s
breath fell into the soft and deep pattern of sleep not long after they lay
down, but Tonks is still awake beside him. Her hand rests on his bare chest,
rising and falling slowly with his regular breaths. She tries to close her eyes
and shut out the troubled thoughts that dance in her head, but she finds that
she can’t silence them.
Remus is leaving again in the morning. Dumbledore is sending
him out for another few days collecting information among the other
werewolves—the poor unfortunates who have no one to love them as she loves
Remus. Neither of them has said it aloud, but both of them know that the
prospect of this assignment becoming permanent looms over them with dreadful
immediacy. It is now less a matter of “if”, then of “when.”
The fear rolls in her gut like some foul disease, leaving
her nauseous and weak. In the daylight hours she puts on a brave face, and does
her job. But in the darkness of night and exhaustion, she can’t stop the fears
from overwhelming her.
If he does go underground he could be gone for weeks, or
even months, at a time. He may not even be able to send her word. And who knows
how long the assignment could last? It could be done in three months, but it
could also take more than a year.
She knows that she can wait for him. She knows that she can
be strong; but his mother’s words keep echoing through her mind: “The other werewolves. That’s where Albus sent him last time, and it was almost the end of him.
He came back feeling less than human. He came back feeling like a pariah—an
animal…He’s never been completely the same. Never. Albus can’t do that to him again.”
Tonks promised that it wouldn’t happen again. Just like she
promised that she loved him enough to carry him through the hard times—to lend him
her strength when his own isn’t enough. But now, after what happened to Sirius
and what she sees happening to Remus, she doesn’t know if he will let her keep
either promise, no matter how much she wants to. He seems further and further
away from her every day.
With a surge of bitterness, she returns to the thought that
Dumbledore would never send Arthur on a mission like this. He would never break
up a family. Why doesn’t he see that sending Remus away is no different?
As she watches Remus stir lightly in his sleep it occurs to
her that perhaps she needs to take drastic steps. Dumbledore may not see them
as a family now, but what if she convinces Remus to elope? Surely Dumbledore
won’t take him away from his new bride? Or better yet, what if she stops taking
her contraceptive potion? Dumbledore won’t send Remus away if he is going to be
She halts that train of thought before it goes any further as
a wave of shame and disgust washes over her. She wonders what kind of horrible
person she must be to even think such
things. What kind of coward must she be to dwell on them for even a second?
She’s an Auror, and at war, and she has a duty—a responsibility. No matter how
terrified she is of the future—no matter how afraid she is of losing her chance
to have a family with Remus—she knows that her duties must come first. She
knows that she will do nothing to jeopardize her ability to fight for the world
she believes in—it was just a passing thought. That’s all.
She rubs her eyes, and takes a few deep breaths, trying to
banish the final traces of her craven thoughts from her mind. She tells herself
that it is just the exhaustion. She would never think such things if she had
enough rest. She just needs to sleep. And, eventually, she does.
All too soon, morning comes. She rises from bed with Remus,
and forces a smile onto her face. She wishes him luck, and kisses him goodbye.
She keeps the dark thoughts from the dead of night to herself.
She chokes down some toast, knowing that she will need her
strength today, and shrugs into her Aurors robes. It
is time to step back out face-first into the rising storm.
She survives the first two days apart from Remus, but the
third is almost too much.
She is trembling and nauseous when she Apparates
home to her flat after her shift ends. She has to get her clothes off. She has
to get them off now. She tugs and
fumbles at her robes and the jeans and shirt underneath, tossing them in a damp
pile by her door. Her shaking fingers slip on her shirt buttons, and she gives
up being careful—she rips her shirt open, sending buttons flying and scattering
around the room.
Once all of her clothes are lying in a forlorn heap, she
stumbles away from them, trying to escape the rusty scent of blood. She makes
her way to the shower, and turns on the water as hot as she can bear.
As she fiercely scrubs her skin she tries not to think about
the fact that it is Emmeline’s blood that is being
washed down the drain, and she hopes that somehow scrubbing her body might also
scrub her mind of the images of Emmeline’s staring
eyes—her hand stretched out, as if clawing for freedom—the pool of blood
congealing around her body.
They made sure she suffered. There was no quick release for Emmeline. And now, every single happy memory that Tonks has
of her friend will be tainted by that one, horrible, memory of finding her
Tonks knows that the war really started that night in the
Department of Mysteries, and she still mourns Sirius along with the rest of the
Order. But the true magnitude of what lies ahead didn’t become clear to her
until she cradled her friend’s head in her lap, getting blood on her robes and
on her hands, staring into those blank, terrified, eyes until her back up
finally arrived. But, like Tonks, they came too late.
She doesn’t turn off the shower until the water runs cold.
She wraps herself in a warm, fuzzy dressing gown, and takes a deep breath
before stepping back out into her living room to look at the pile of clothes by
the front door. She knows she ought to wash them, but she doesn’t know if she
can bear it. She can see the dark patches of blood drying into a brown crust on
her clothes, and she knows that no matter how clean she gets them, she will
never forget that these were the
clothes that bore the last traces of Emmeline’s life.
After staring at them for a long moment, she strides to the
table where she flung her wand, and picks it up. With a few flicks of her wrist
she vanishes her clothes one piece at a time. Soon, all that is left are her
boots, standing in the center of a brownish smudge on her floor.
She is about to vanish the boots, as well, when she stops
herself. Those are her best work boots. Though she is ashamed of herself for
it, she doesn’t want to get rid of them.
She levitates them into the kitchen sink. She’ll clean them
Pointedly ignoring the boots, she walks into the kitchen and
takes some lettuce and celery out of her fridge. Then she returns to the living
room and sits down next to her rabbit, Mr. Fluffy’s,
cage. She pulls him out onto her lap, and begins feeding him bits of vegetable.
His fur is soft and warm under her hands. He’s so simple, and innocent. Holding
him helps her forget her troubles, at least for a little while.
If only Remus will come home early—she doesn’t know how
she’ll sleep through the night without him.
Her thought of Remus jolts her out of her stupor of grief.
Remus will be back tomorrow, and he will need his first dose of Wolfsbane Potion. She is supposed to meet Severus at
Hogwarts tonight to brew it. She looks up at the clock, and is relieved to see
that she isn’t late yet. But she will be if she doesn’t get dressed in a hurry.
She puts Mr. Fluffy back in his cage, and runs to her room for some clothes.
She Apparates to
the front gates of Hogwarts. Hagrid is waiting
for her there, playing fetch with his massive dog.
“Hello, Tonks!” he says in his booming voice. “Good ter see yeh.”
“Hello, Hagrid,” she says, forcing
a smile on to her face.
“Professor Snape tol’
me ter watch fer yeh. He says he’s goin’ ter be late, an yeh should start prepping the ingredients, but wait for him
ter get here ter start brewin’.”
“Thank you Hagrid.”
“Yer welcome. It was’n any trouble. Good luck with yer
She follows the familiar path down to Severus’s
office in the dungeon, and lets herself in. She rubs the sleep from her eyes,
and sets about laying out the ingredients and tools that she will need. She
chops and prepares all of the non-toxic ingredients, and then sits on a stool
to wait for Severus’s return before preparing the
The dungeons are eerily silent, and the images of Emmeline keep popping un-bidden into her increasingly
exhausted mind. She stands up and starts pacing, trying to drive the thoughts
from her head. She keeps checking the clock. She’s been there for half-an-hour.
Then three-quarters of an hour. When a whole hour has
passed she stamps her foot in frustration. She can’t wait any longer, or she’ll
fall asleep on her feet.
She strides over to the counter, and lights the flame under her
cauldron. She doesn’t care if Severus insists that she still needs his
supervision—she brewed the Wolfsbane all by herself
last month, with him doing nothing more than looking over her shoulder from
time to time. She’s knows that she can do it again.
She pulls on her safety gloves, and starts to work.
She makes good progress, and soon the bubbling concoction in
her cauldron is well on its way to being another perfect batch of Wolfsbane potion. It’s time to prepare the aconite.
Severus has warned her that the poison of the aconite is
known to have stronger effects on all shape-shifters—not just werewolves—and
that it will likely damage a Metamorphmagus far more than an ordinary witch or
wizard. But, under Severus’s tutelage, she has learned
how to handle it safely.
She begins the slow process of chopping the aconite roots into
fine bits with her silver knife. Suddenly a voice cries out, “Tonksy wonksy!”
She jumps, her knife slipping against her finger, and spins
to see Peeves hovering in the air behind her. The poltergeist snorts with
laughter, and says, “Did I scare you, Tonksy wonksy?”
She scowls and turns back to her work. “Go away, Peeves. I’m
She hears Peeves giggling maniacally, and does her best to
ignore it. She needs to start mashing the bits of aconite roots into a paste.
A bottle crashes to the floor. She jumps around again,
pointing her knife at the offending poltergeist, which hovers over the broken
bottle with a grin on his face.
“Do I need to call in the Bloody Baron to run you off?” she
yells. “Get out!”
With another snicker, Peeves soars away.
She once again returns to her work, shaking her hand, which
is beginning to feel cold and numb.
As she continues to mash the aconite, the numbness in her
hand intensifies, and begins to spread up her arm.
She shakes her hand again, and finds that it is hard to
move, and is starting to ache. The numbness is spreading into her shoulder, and
her chest. She leans against the counter, and stares down at her numb hand. She
gasps in horror as she sees the spot where her knife sliced through her glove.
A thin red slit is clearly visible on her finger.
Some of the aconite must have got into the wound.
Her chest is starting to hurt, and her breath is coming in
short, sharp gasps. She pushes back from the counter, dropping her knife with a
clatter. She has to get help.
She stumbles toward the door, her feet dragging and her head
spinning. Just as she opens the door, the world begins to go black, and she
feels herself falling to the hard stone floor.
The first thing she notices is the ache. It’s not just in a
few parts of her body, like she would expect. It’s all over—as if every single
cell of her body has a bruise on it.
The second thing she notices is that someone is gripping her
hand so tightly it’s like they’re trying to save her from falling off of a
She slowly forces her eyes open, and licks her dry lips. Her
mouth feels sticky, and is full of an unpleasant taste. She turns her head to
see who it is that’s squeezing her hand. It is Remus. He looks worn and
haggard, but has a smile on his face.
“Good morning,” he says.
“Hi.” Her voice comes out as a raspy croak. “Where are we?”
“St. Mungo’s? Why?”
He frowns slightly, his forehead furrowing. “You don’t
remember? Last night…?”
She takes a deep breath to clear her mind, and the memory
comes rushing back. The numbness in her hand…the pain in her chest…and then a
hazier memory. Someone was shouting her name—cursing at her for her inability to
follow the simplest of instructions. Severus. He must have found her—he must
have brought her here. She licks her dry
lips, and takes another deep breath. “It was the aconite.”
Remus nods. “Yes. The aconite.”
“That damn Peeves! Dumbledore should have him thrown out!”
“What does Peeves have to do with anything?”
“He startled me while
I was chopping the aconite roots. My knife slipped and I cut my finger…” She
glances over at her wounded hand, noticing for the first time that the entire
hand is swathed in thick white bandages.
“Don’t worry,” says Remus. “They managed to save your
hand—even the finger you cut. Though it was very touch and go for a while
there.” His voice sounds strained, and tired. She silently curses her
clumsiness. He shouldn’t have had to deal with this right after his mission. He
should have been able to rest.
“I’m so sorry,” she says quietly. “I should have been more
careful. I should have been patient and waited for Severus’s
help. Peeves never would have snuck up on me with Severus there.”
Remus shakes his head. “I should be the one apologizing. I
should have learned more about the potion myself. If I’d had any inkling of how
dangerous aconite is to a Metamorphmagus, I never would have permitted you to
make it for me.”
His words feel like a slap in the face. “Not permitted?
Since when have I needed your permission?” She is not going to let him blame
himself for this. He has too much guilt on his conscience already.
“I’m sorry. Permitted was the wrong word. But you understand
what I’m saying—I don’t want you taking these kinds of risks for me. It’s not
She can’t stand it when he starts to talk like this.
“Remus—you are worth every risk to me. You know that.”
He nods, but his eyes are downcast and weary. “There’s something
you should know—about what the aconite did to you, and to your abilities.”
Her frustration with Remus is instantly replaced with fear.
Severus warned her that the aconite might affect her more than it would a
normal person. “What about my abilities?”
“Don’t worry too much,” he says, stroking the back of her
undamaged hand. “The Healer said that there will probably be some temporary
impairment of your morphing abilities, but that you will most likely be back to
normal in two or three weeks.”
“What do you mean by impairment?” She needs her powers to do her job.
Remus takes a deep breath. “I’m sure that the Healer will
explain this better than I can when she gets here, but it seems that somehow the
aconite has seized up your cells. As a Metamorphmagus, your body’s cells are
normally amorphous and flexible, allowing your natural powers to shape them
however you desire. But in some sort of natural defense mechanism to protect themselves from the poison, your cells have become more
rigid, and regular, like they would be in any other woman.”
“So…I won’t be able to morph at all?” It’s as if all of her
worst imaginings are coming true, all at once.
“For now, no. But I told you, the
Healer said that your cells will most likely return to their normal level of
flexibility in a few week’s time, at which point you should be able to morph as
well as you ever have.”
She closes her eyes tight, trying to quell the anxiety
welling up inside of her. Her morphing has been a part of her for as long as
she can remember, and she doesn’t know what she’ll do without it.
“What the hell are you
doing here?” Tonks looks up to see her father standing in the gap of the
curtains surrounding her bed, with her mother just behind him.
Remus rises, dropping her hand, leaving her bereft.
“Mr. Tonks…I’m sorry. I was just…”
Her father steps forward, looking angry. “Just acting like
you still have the right to come see her, when it’s your fault she’s here for
the second time in less than a month?”
“Daddy,” says Tonks, straining to sit up. “It is not Remus’s fault—it’s mine. I made a
stupid bloody mistake, and now I’m paying for it. Remus had nothing to do with
“Don’t overexert yourself, dear,” says her mother, bustling
Her father turns his hard eyes on her. “I’ve been talking to
the Healer. I know perfectly well what kind of potion you were trying to brew.
You never would have ended up in this place if it weren’t for your damned
obsession with this sodding werewolf!”
“Daddy!” Tonks exclaims, but her
father ignores her, and turns to glare at Remus. “An
obsession which he seems very much inclined to encourage—and who could blame
him? Not many of his kind ever get the chance to have a beautiful young
witch at their beck and call.” He takes another menacing step toward Remus, who
just stands there, silently staring. “You must be enjoying this, aren’t you?”
her father continues. “You must be on top of the world, having a Metamorphmagus
to do your bidding.” She’s never heard this tone in her father’s voice before. He
never has liked Remus, but she thought he was growing used to him—or at least to
the idea of him—over the past several months. But now she can see his doubts
and worries boiling out of him with astonishing force. She never imagined him
capable of saying such vile things.
She sits bolt upright, her chest heaving with anger, pain,
and anguish. “Stop it! Just stop it!”
Her mother’s arm slides around her shoulders, squeezing her
tightly. “You’ve said enough, Ted. This is neither the time nor the place for
this discussion.” This is too much. She thought her mother liked Remus.
“There is no time or place for this discussion, Mum!” Tonks
chokes out, fighting back sobs. “I am in love with him! I love Remus, and I
haven’t done anything for him that the two of you wouldn’t have done for each
other. I made my choice, just like you did, and I don’t care what you think of
Her chest heaves, and pain suffuses her whole body, and she
bites down on her bottom lip trying to hold back her tears.
All the while Remus just stands there, looking lost and
almost afraid. Seeing him like this hurts her more than the physical pain. Remus
never looks like this, and a part of
her hates her father for doing this to him.
A Healer bursts into the curtained area. “This is quite
enough!” she says. “This young woman has just been through a severe trauma, and
I will not permit you to agitate her like this. You will all have to leave. Now!”
The tone in her voice leaves no room for argument. Without a
word, Tonks’s father turns on his heels and stalks out through the gap in the
curtains. Her mother gives her another hug, and whispers. “I’m so sorry, dear.
I’ll talk to him for you. Take care.” She follows her husband.
“Remus?” asks Tonks imploringly, reaching out her hand
“He’ll have to leave, too, love,” says the Healer, sounding
much pleasanter than she did a few moments ago.
Remus, still visibly
shaken, takes her hand and gives it a squeeze. He leans forward to plant a
quick kiss on her forehead, and says, “I’ll see you soon.” Then he turns, and
follows her parents away from her.
She lies back down, and the Healer begins fussing around
her, tucking in her blankets and getting her some medicinal tea. She changes
Tonks’s bandages, and Tonks is more than a little alarmed by the blue-ish color of her finger, but the Healer assures her that it
will be fine in a few days. She begins babbling on about the treatments they’ve
used, explaining what they’ve done and will continue to do to heal her from her
accidental poisoning. “You’re very lucky that Professor McGonagall got you to
us when she did. A half an hour longer, and you’d have
lost the whole hand.”
“Minerva brought me in?” Tonks asks, confused.
“Oh, yes. She told us all about how she was letting you use
the Potions classroom for your brewing, and how she found you passed out on the
floor when she came to check on you. It’s amazing that she managed to get you
through the Floo all by herself.”
The Healer moves on to babbling about the course of
treatment she’ll need to follow over the next few weeks, but Tonks can’t
concentrate. She is sure that she remembers Severus finding her—if it wasn’t
just a dream. So why wasn’t he the
one to bring her in? But the new puzzle doesn’t distract her from her troubles
for long, as the Healer soon launches into a more detailed explanation about
the aconite’s affect on her powers.
“…but once it’s worked its way completely out of your
system, your body should begin to relax and return to its normal state. You
should be able to morph again in two or three weeks—certainly no more than a
don’t sound very sure.”
“It’s hard to be sure in a case as rare as yours,” replies
the Healer with a warm smile. “But I feel very positive about your outlook.”
This does not reassure Tonks one bit. She feels dizzy, and
anxious. She closes her eyes. “This can’t be happening,” she mutters. It’s too
The tears leak uncontrollably from her eyes, and heaving
sobs begin to shake her body. She feels like she’s losing her friends, she’s
losing her family, she’s losing Remus, and now she’s even losing herself. She
raises her hands to her face to try to blot away the tears, but the feeling of
those bandages against her skin only makes her cry harder. The Healer’s thick
arms circle around her, and she feels her head being cradled against the
woman’s soft chest.
For several minutes the woman rocks her in silence, stroking
her hair and hissing soft shushes like she would to a child. Finally, Tonks’s
sobs begin to subside, and the woman says, “It’s all right, love. I know that
right now it feels like the whole world is ending, but what you really need is
a good day to sleep it off, and everything will seem better tomorrow. I
Amazingly, she is right.
When she wakes in the morning, Tonks finds that most of her
aches are gone, and her heart feels a great deal lighter. A new Healer comes to
check on her, and under his brusque care she finds herself missing the plump
motherly woman who comforted her so expertly yesterday. He removes her
bandages, and she is delighted to see that her hand looks almost normal. There
is only a slight redness and swelling around the spot where she cut her finger.
The Healer applies a salve to it, and wraps a new bandage around the finger,
leaving the rest of her hand free. He gives her a list of potions and salves to
pick up at the Apothecary on her way home, and detailed instructions on her
medical regimen for the coming week.
After he finishes, a polite young woman in stiff white robes
brings her a hearty breakfast, and she is astonished to find that she is
ravenous. She finishes the entire breakfast, and finds herself looking for
A few minutes later she looks up to see Molly Weasley
walking toward her. “Good morning, dear!” she says cheerily. Tonks’s
disappointment must be visible, because Molly immediately adds, “I know you
were expecting Remus, but Dumbledore called him away at the last minute. I
swear Remus works harder than the rest of us combined, poor man.”
Tonks tries to be cheerful as Molly leads her out of her
ward, down to the Apothecary for her potions, and then home to her flat, but
when Molly chides her gently for putting herself at such risk, Tonks can’t hold
back. “Wouldn’t you have done the same for Arthur? If he was sick, wouldn’t you
do everything you could to help him? I can’t understand why people seem to
think I did something wrong in trying to help him! The only thing I did wrong
was to work alone and exhausted. I should have taken a nap. I should have
waited for Severus. But learning to make that potion for Remus was the right
thing to do, and no one is going to convince me otherwise!”
Molly looks abashed. “You’re right. Of course, you’re right.
If it was Arthur, I would have done
the same, no matter the risk. I’m sorry. I was talking like a mother, not like
Now it is Tonks who feels ashamed. “I didn’t mean to snap at
you. I’m sorry. It’s been a horrible week. And yesterday morning I got in an
awful fight with my Dad, and he said the most horrible things about Remus right
to his face. I think I’m just feeling a little sensitive about these things.”
Molly shakes her head. “Well, for Merlin’s sake, a hospital
ward is no place to start bullying your daughter’s beau! No wonder you feel so
low.” She pulls her into a hug, just like the Healer did yesterday. “You poor dear. After all you’ve been through in the past
few days, it’s amazing that you’re doing as well as you are—I certainly don’t
think that I’d be doing half so well if I were in your place.”
Molly has Tonks sit down on her sofa, and goes to the
kitchen to make some tea. “My father never has cared for Arthur, you know,” she
calls. “But at least he’s always had the courtesy to be civil. Would you like
me to wash these boots for you?”
It takes Tonks a few seconds to remember the boots in her
sink—the boots with Emmeline’s blood on them. “No!”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. Please, just leave them for me.” She knows that
she has to wash them herself, but she doesn’t really know why.
After drinking her tea, and promising Molly that she will
take a nap, Molly leaves Tonks to herself.
She tries to take the promised nap, but finds that after
nearly twenty-four hours of sleep she simply doesn’t have it in her. Instead,
she potters around the flat doing long-neglected chores in an attempt to
distract herself from memories of Emmeline, and
worries about Remus.
She wonders what he must be thinking. What her father said
hurt him deeply—she could see it. With the frame of mind that he’s been in
since Sirius’s death, she’s afraid that this new hurt could drive him to do
something rash. She wishes that she could talk to him, and reassure him that nothing
between them has changed—that they still have friends who love and support
She paces back and forth through her flat. She can’t sit
still. Every time she stops moving she notices the stiffness and inflexibility
of her body. She’s had trouble maintaining morphs for longer than an hour or
two during times of high stress or illness in the past, but she’s never been completely unable to morph. It’s
almost like being stuck in clothes that don’t quite fit.
The only thing that distracts her is movement. She wants to
go back to work. She wants to track down Greyback right now, and toss him into
Azkaban herself. And she wants to find Bellatrix and…and what? Kill her?
She continues to pace around her flat, doing little chores
along the way and averting her eyes every time she catches a glimpse of those
boots. Why didn’t she just let Molly wash them?
After a little over an hour of pacing and cleaning, she
hears a knock on her door. She picks up her wand and peers out of her
peep-hole. It is Severus.
She calls out their security question. “What did I give you
“Powdered bicorn horn.” It is him.
She sets her wand down and lets him in. “How did you know
where my flat is?”
“I have my ways. But that isn’t important. What is important
is that after your gross display of negligence and carelessness two nights ago,
I can never permit you to brew the Wolfsbane Potion
again.” He glares at her fiercely.
She’s been longing for a good fight to get rid of all her nervous
energy, and she’s glad that Severus brought one right to her.
“You can’t stop me. I know the recipe by heart. I’ll brew it
right here in my kitchen if I have to.”
His scowl deepens, and she is glad. She doesn’t want soft
words and comfort right now. She wants action.
“Then I’ll break into your flat and destroy all of your
ingredients,” he says.
“I’ll buy more.”
“I’ll Obliviate the recipe right
out of your head!”
“I’ll look it up and teach it to myself all over again!”
“Then I’ll lock you in a bloody dungeon and throw away the
key! You will not brew that potion again until you prove to me that you care
about preserving your own life as much as you care about preserving his!” His face is red, and while he shouts little flecks of spittle fly
from his mouth.
She’s never seen him like this before, and she hates that
she’s done this to him. The will to fight drains right out of her. “I’m sorry,
Severus,” she says quietly. “I shouldn’t be taunting you like this.”
He continues to glare at her, his chest heaving with fury,
but when he speaks again his voice is low, and tightly controlled. “You have no
idea what it was like for me, finding you lying on the floor like that. When I
first saw you I thought you were dead.”
This jars her—images of Emmeline’s
body rising in her mind. Did Severus feel the same way finding her that she had
felt finding Emmeline? And she was the one who put
him through that. No wonder he’s angry.
“I’m sorry. I was stupid. No one should have to find a
friend like that. You have my deepest apologies.”
After a moment, he nods. “Apology accepted.”
They stare at each other in uncomfortable silence. Finally,
Tonks says, “Why did Minerva bring me to St. Mungo’s?
Why not you?”
His anger seems to be dissipating, but she can tell by the
tightness of the muscles in his face that he is still upset. “I should think
the reason would be obvious,” he says.
“You were afraid of breaking your cover?”
He nods. “Yes.”
Now she is the one who is upset. Will this be what it’s like
once Remus has gone underground? Will they have to pretend not to know each
other? Will they have to stand back and watch each other suffer, all for the
sake of the mission? How can Dumbledore constantly preach about the importance
of love, and then force people apart like this? She can feel her anger rising
“It shouldn’t have to
be like this!” she snaps at Severus. “You shouldn’t have had to waste precious
time calling someone else to help, when you could have got me to the hospital
himself twice as fast! It’s not fair! None of this is fair!” She knows that she
sounds like a petulant child, but she can’t help herself.
His face flushes red again. As usual, she’s managed to say
the wrong thing. With Severus, she never seems to know what the right thing is.
“Life is not fair. It’s time you learned that. Waiting for
Minerva to get to us while I sat helplessly, watching the life seeping out of
you, was one of the hardest things I have ever done,” she says through clenched
teeth. “But it was the correct decision. If I had been seen taking you to the
hospital, all of my credibility with the Death Eaters could have been ruined.
My task is too important to sacrifice for a colleague.”
“But is it too important for a friend?”
He clenches his jaw again, and steps closer to her. “This is
war, Nymphadora. Hard decisions must be made. Nothing can stand in the way of
victory—not even friendship.”
She doesn’t agree with him. Victory would be empty if you
have to give up everything and everyone you love in the process. But she knows
that she cannot change his mind. He is too devoted to Dumbledore, and to their
cause. She lowers her eyes and says, “I’m sorry I forced you to make that decision.”
“So am I.”
They are silent again. Severus shuffles his feet, glancing
around her flat for the first time. She clears her throat. “I’ve been cleaning
all morning. It’s not usually this tidy.”
He nods. “It certainly isn’t as slovenly as I was expecting.”
His eyes flick over to Mr. Fluffy’s cage. “I never
would have taken you for a rabbit person.”
“Remus has had pet rabbits since he was a boy. We got him
“I see.” He shuffles his feet again. “So, will I have to
lock you in a dungeon, or have you come to your senses?”
She looks down at her hand, and wills her fingers to grow
longer and her nails to turn pink. She feels a slight twinge of pain, and
nothing happens. She bites her lower lip to hold back a cry of frustration. She
takes a deep breath, and replies, “I won’t brew the potion. At least…not until
I’ve got a better handle on all the new stresses I’m facing.”
He stares down at her. “That’s the best I’m going to get out
of you, isn’t it?”
She glares back up at him. “Yes, it is.”
He seems to ponder her reply for a moment before answering. “Very well. When you are ready to resume brewing, I expect
you to present me with a list of redoubled safety measures that we can
implement to prevent any further mishaps. You will not brew again until I have
approved those safety measures, and you are NEVER to brew alone again. Agreed?”
His terms are fair and prudent. She nods. “Agreed.”
Another silence falls between them. “Did you get Remus his
potion?” she asks.
“I was only doing my duty.” He pauses, glancing around her
flat again. “I should be going now. It was foolish of me to come here in the
first place. I shouldn’t be seen socializing with Aurors.”
He turns and steps back to the door.
“Severus,” she says, stepping toward him.
“Yes?” He looks over his shoulder at her.
“Thank you for coming to check on me.”
“That’s not why I came.”
She smiles. “Yes, it is.”
He frowns. “You consistently apply the most absurd
idealizations to my motives. It’s ridiculous.”
“Good bye, Severus.”
“Good bye.” He walks out, closing the door behind him.
An argument with Severus seems to be exactly what she needed
to relieve her anxiety and tension. She lies down on her sofa and closes her
eyes, and within minutes she falls into a deep, dreamless sleep.
That night, after dinner, she receives an owl from Remus,
with a note telling her that he won’t be home in the morning, and that she
should plan on meeting him at Emmeline’s funeral
tomorrow afternoon. She is disappointed, and something in the note’s tone
disturbs her. After re-reading several times she finally realizes what it is:
instead of signing the note, “Love, Remus,” as is usual, he merely signed his
name with no preamble.
She knows she shouldn’t let it bother her. But it does. She doesn’t
sleep well tonight.
She arrives at Emmeline’s funeral
as late as she can, and sits in the back. She doesn’t want to have to look at
the body again. But Remus arrives even later, slipping in just as the first
speaker steps to the podium. He sits next to her, and gives her hand a warm
squeeze. Immediately, she begins to feel better.
After the service, she tells him that she doesn’t want to
stay to socialize—she just wants to go home. He reluctantly agrees.
He seems tense and nervous when they get home. She is
worried—he’s had several days to himself to wrestle with his feelings about her
poisoning and her parents, and he’s had no one to talk to. What if he’s allowed
his anxieties and fears get the best of him? Their world is too fragile right
now. She feels like nothing is certain, and nothing is safe, and she is sure he
feels the same way. She asks him what’s wrong.
He shakes his head, looking away from her. “Things aren’t
going well. They aren’t going well at all.” He pauses to take a deep breath.
“Dumbledore agrees with me that it’s time for me to go underground,
permanently. There needs to be a man in the field who can work to counter Greyback’s rhetoric, and I’m the only one who can do it.”
A cold knot forms in the pit of her stomach. This is what
she’s been dreading for weeks, and now, at the worst possible time, it is
finally happening. Her legs feel weak, and she sinks into a chair. “When will
“Soon. My transformation is
tomorrow night, and I’ll need a few days afterward to prepare myself.”
She closes her eyes and clenches her teeth. She’s not ready
for this. How could she ever be ready for this? She flounders for the words to
express what she’s feeling as her anger and frustration and fear wells up
inside of her. “Your mother…she told me what happened to you last time you went
underground. She told me what it did to you. How can Dumbledore ask you to do
He hesitates. “Greyback needs to be stopped. Someone has to
be out there, reaching the other werewolves…”
“But why does it have to be you?”
“Because there’s no one else.”
Her anger overtakes her fear, and she leaps back to her feet
and starts pacing the room. “And if you find him—if you find Greyback—what will
He looks at her, puzzled. “I’ll try to gather information on
his plans…perhaps see if there’s anything I can do to undermine his support…”
“Why not call in the Aurors to
“Because Dumbledore wants to be sure that none of the other
werewolves are in a position to step up and replace him. It will take time to
ascertain that information. And besides, the risk of innocent werewolves being
harmed or captured is too great. I don’t want to put them in any more danger
than they already face.”
She clenches her fists. “Then don’t call the other Aurors. Call me!”
Remus looks alarmed. “What do you think you can do all by
“I can kill him.”
“No. No!” He looks aghast.
“Yes. I’m authorized to use deadly force. I’ll provoke him,
he’ll attack me, and I’ll finish it. It’ll be easy.” She never imagined that
she would be able to talk so coldly and calmly about killing another human
being. It’s amazing the things she is learning about herself now that the
people she loves are threatened.
Remus’s face grows hard. “It’s not going to happen. I’m not
going to let you become a murderer for my sake.”
“It’s not just for you, Remus. It’s for everyone…”
“You know that’s a lie. You’d do it just to save me—to spare
me from living underground. I see it in your eyes. But I’m not going to let it
“So you’re just going to sacrifice yourself instead? I can’t
stand thinking about what this is going to do to you. Dumbledore saw what
happened to you when you went underground during the last war. How can he do
this to you again?”
“He isn’t doing it to me.”
“Yes, he is!”
“I volunteered.” His words are calm and quiet, but they seem
to hover in the air with an unseen power. “He told me I didn’t have to go, but
Tonks stares at him in disbelief, and takes a sharp breath
as a horrible thought enters her mind. “This isn’t just an assignment, is it? You’re
leaving me.” She whispers the words, hoping with all her heart that she is
wrong—that all the stress of the past few weeks has addled her brain. Remus
would never leave her, would he?
He shakes his head. “It’s not like that.” Something in his
voice and his face unnerves her.
“Then what is it like?”
He gives her a disconsolate look, and sits down heavily on
She raises a hand to her mouth. Her mind is reeling. “Oh, God. You are
“Please, come sit down with me.”
She shakes her head violently. “No! Not until you tell me
the truth. Are you leaving me?”
“Tonks, please?” he says with an anguished expression.
With that one look, she knows that it is true. “Oh, God,” she
says again, and sinks back into her chair. How could he be leaving her?
Especially now, of all times, when she needs him the most? It’s like the world
somehow turned upside down while she lay asleep in the hospital—or like some
dark spirit has inhabited Remus’s body. He’s always been so afraid that she would leave him. He seemed so happy…He would never really leave her, would he?
Still looking anguished, he looks at the floor and shakes
his head. “I didn’t mean for it to happen like this…not right after the
funeral. This isn’t what I had planned.”
“You’ve known about this long enough to plan?!”
He looks back up at her. “I’m sorry,” he says in a pained
This is just one of his temporary panics—it has to be. If
she tries hard enough, she can talk him out of it. “Don’t be sorry. Just don’t do it.”
“I have to.”
“No, you don’t.”
“Yes! I do.” His eyes are flashing. “I’m no good for you. I
should have seen it ages ago, when you risked your job and your reputation for
me. But I let myself get caught up in the romance, and the excitement. I never
once stopped to just think about what this relationship might do to you. I
never took the time to think about how horribly,
completely wrong I am for you.”
This can’t be happening. She feels like her mind is in a
haze as he continues what is obviously a well-practiced speech. Did he really
just say that they’ve been living in a fantasy—that this isn’t a fairy tale?
“This is the real world,” he says. “There is no happily ever
after for us—we were only fooling ourselves.”
She feels sick and dizzy. This can’t be real—but in her gut
she knows it is, and has to persuade him somehow… “It was real,” she says
feebly. “It was real for me, and I know it was real for you, too. You’re just
“I’m not confused. I’ve been thinking of nothing else, and I
know this is the right decision.”
His words so closely echo Severus’s
justification for not helping her himself that she can feel her anger rising
again. “No, it’s not! I know that things won’t ever be easy for us, and I know
that we won’t always be happy, but I don’t care!”
He shakes his head. “I want to believe you. I really do. But
I can’t. Not after seeing the way you’re destroying yourself for me.”
“Yes! Destroying yourself.” He
gives her an intense look. “You were willing to face a deadly, crippling poison
every single month just to save me a few galleons. And you were so intent on it
that you threw caution to the wind just to try to get the potion done a few
hours earlier. And now you’re willing to alienate your parents, and even commit
murder, all for me? It’s insane! I’m driving you insane—and one of these days
you’re going to get yourself killed for me. I’m not worth it! I won’t let you
ruin your whole future for a man who will likely be dead in less than a
Hot tears burn in her eyes at his accusations. He has thrown
every act of loyalty and self-sacrifice back in her face as if they were
unforgivable sins. “We don’t know that,” she says. “You might live for two decades,
“No. It doesn’t matter. I won’t let you throw away your life
for me. You are young, and vibrant, and full of life. You shouldn’t waste that
on a poor, dying old man who drives you into committing reckless and dangerous
acts. You know that logic is on my side.”
His reference to their old promise that logic would win over
emotion when they argue infuriates her. “I don’t care! I don’t give a damn
about your sodding logic! This is wrong! You are
wrong. I don’t do these things because I’m insane—I do these things because I
love you, and I need you. That’s what love is all about. Needing
each other. Unless…” her voice catches in her throat as she remembers
his short, cold note signed only with his name. “Unless you
don’t love me anymore?”
His eyes glisten with moisture, and she can see that her
words have finally hit home. “It doesn’t matter how we feel,” he says. “Feeling
something doesn’t make it right. Loving someone doesn’t make it right to be in
“Loving someone is all that matters,” she says, moving
quickly across the room to sit next to him. “It’s the only thing that makes
things right.” Her mind is a whirlwind of panic and desperation, and she finds
herself stumbling over her words as she apologizes for her stupidity, and promises
to change—to be better. “We can be
better,” she says. “We can do it together. We can help each other through this
war—I know we can!” She reaches out and lays her hand on his leg.
He looks away from her, once again shaking his head. He
looks just as lost and afraid as he did back in the hospital. She knows in her
heart that her words are touching him—that he wants to believe her.
She reaches out to take his face in her palm and pulls him
toward her for a kiss.
At first he seems hesitant—reluctant. But after just a few
seconds he begins to respond to her, sliding his arms around her, deepening
their kiss with ardor. As she feels him run his fingers through her hair, she
knows that it is over—whatever darkness had invaded him is fleeing, and only
her true Remus is left behind.
She slides her hand up his shirt to feel the warmth of his
skin, and presses ever closer to him. Suddenly, his whole body stiffens, and he
pulls away, rising from the sofa and striding across the room to look out the
dirty window at the street below. She feels empty—abandoned. Please, don’t do
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I can’t do this. I can’t be here. I
know what needs to be done, and I can’t do it when I let you touch me like
that. It’s not right, and it’s not fair, to either of us.” He turns to look at
her with indescribable regret etched in his eyes. “I’m so, so sorry. Good bye,
Tonks.” With that he walks to the door, opens it, and leaves, closing it softly
In her stunned shock she makes no move to stop him. And just
like that, he is gone.
She sits as if frozen, staring at the door. Perhaps, if she
sits long enough, the door will open again, and he will be back, telling her
how wrong he was—admitting that he’d made a horrible mistake.
So she sits, and gradually, the room grows darker.
She has no idea how long she has been sitting there when she
hears her alarm going off in her bedroom. It was set to remind her that she has
to go into work—she’s on the night-shift tonight.
Somehow she manages to pull on her uniform and makes it to
the Ministry where she meets her partner for the night—an older man named Hooda, with whom she’s rarely worked. Much to her relief
they have an easy duty: the routine night patrol of Diagon
She can see by the way Hooda looks
at her that he knows she’s off her game. But she doesn’t care. She doesn’t care
about anything. A gang of twenty Death Eaters could suddenly Apparate in front
of them and she probably still wouldn’t care.
She feels like she is sleep-walking through most of her
shift, but as morning draws closer she begins to get twitchy, and jumpy. She
pulls her wand out at the slightest sound—like a rat scurrying in an alley, or
a cat meowing from a rooftop.
When they finally return to the Ministry to file their
reports before heading home, Hooda tells her, “Get
some sleep, today, Tonks. We can’t afford to lose you to sick leave again.”
The truth of his words hurts her. He’s right. There are too
few Aurors as it is. “I will,” she says with a nod.
Just as she is about to leave for home, Kingsley calls her
name. She stops to wait for him to catch up to her. “Sorry to ask this right
after a night shift, Tonks,” he says, “But I’m almost late for my post, and I
need to get this message to Bill today—I’ve got some information for him that
he was looking for. Do you think you could swing by the Burrow before heading
She stares at the roll of parchment that he is holding out
toward her, her drowsy mind processing his words. Going home.
Home—empty and alone without Remus. No, she doesn’t
want to go home. She nods. “Sure. I’ll take it for you.”
“Thanks. I owe you.”
When she Apparates in front of the
Burrow the morning sun is still low on the horizon, and she is surprised that
she made it without splinching herself. She knocks
lightly on the kitchen door, and surprised when it is quickly flung wide by
Molly, already dressed for the day.
“Oh, you poor dear,” says Molly, wrapping her arms around
the younger woman. “You must be miserable. I know every time I fought with
Arthur during our first year of marriage I felt like the world would end. But
where there’s real love, the bad feelings will never last.”
Tonks stands, staring at Molly in sleepy confusion. Molly
lowers her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, “Remus came here last night,
asking for a place to sleep. He wouldn’t talk about it, but it was clear that
the two of you had a falling out.”
Tonks’s eyes widened. “I…I didn’t know he was here. I was
just bringing a message for Bill…I…Is he inside right now?” She involuntarily
steps back from the door.
“Don’t worry, dear. He’s upstairs lying in. But you should
come in and have some breakfast. You can talk to him after you’ve had something
Before she even has a chance to say that she’s not so sure
she really wants to talk to Remus today, Tonks finds herself bustled to the
table, where she sits while Molly fetches her a cup of
tea and a plate of toast and eggs. She wordlessly eats her food while Molly
chatters about the latest goings on of the Weasley clan.
“Good morning, Mum!” says a cheery masculine voice. Tonks
looks up to see Bill walking into the kitchen with his arm around his young
fiancée. She feels a pang of envy to see them look so happy together.
“Hello, Tonks!” says Bill. “I didn’t expect to see you this
“Kingsley caught me as I was coming off of the night shift.
He gave me a message to pass on to you.” She pulls the roll of parchment out of
her robe and hands it to him. He pulls it open, and smiles again.
“Brilliant. I’ve been waiting for this. Thank you, Tonks.”
“You’re welcome.” She bites her lip, glancing at Molly and
wondering if she can get away with excusing herself. But just then Ginny and
Hermione walk into the kitchen, and start enthusiastically questioning her
about what sorts of progress the Aurors are making
after this week full of disasters. Tonks stumbles and fumbles through her
answers, and Molly keeps loading her plate with new food. Before she knows it
all of the home’s inhabitants except for Remus are seated around her, carrying
on an animated conversation.
“…but surely Harry won’t actually want to live there, will he?” Ginny is saying.
Tonks perks up. “Live where?”
“Sirius’s old house,” she replies.
The astonishment must have been clear on Tonks’s face,
because Bill breaks in to explain. “You wouldn’t have heard yet, Tonks. A few
days ago I found Sirius’s will in his vault at Gringotts.
He’s left everything to Harry.”
“Oh. Of course.”
Ron begins a long monologue about all the things Harry can
do with his growing fortune, but all that Tonks can think about is that Harry
must be feeling just as badly as she is right now. He’s lost one of the people
that he loves the most, and no amount of money will make up for that.
Her mind continues to wander down that path, as she realizes
that Sirius’s death was the beginning of the end for her relationship with
Remus. Things haven’t been right since then. It was almost as if losing his
best friend all over again had frightened Remus away from holding on to anyone
else—including her. Once again, the ominous words of Remus’s mother echo in her
mind: “He never let himself settle down
long enough to get close to anyone new after the war… If you aren’t steady, and
patient, one of these days the tides of life will tug a little too hard, and
he’ll let go of you and drift off in some new direction. It would break his
heart—but he wouldn’t stop it. He doesn’t know how.” Tonks had promised
herself that she would be strong enough to hold onto him—strong enough to lift
him up when times were hard. But now she sees clearly as can be that she has
“It’s my fault,” she says, and the conversation around her
“What was that, Tonks?” asks Molly.
“It’s my fault he’s gone. I should have been stronger. I should
have found a way to stop him…but I couldn’t. I was too weak, and now I’ve lost
him. It’s all my fault.”
Suddenly everyone else in the room is talking at once,
trying to reassure her that she’s not to blame—that no one holds her
responsible. It takes her a few moments to realize that they thought she was
talking about Sirius.
And then, without warning, Remus is there, standing in the
kitchen doorway, staring at her in undisguised astonishment.
She shoots to her feet. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I shouldn’t
have stayed so long. You all have busy days ahead of you—I should get out of
“You’re never in the way, Tonks,” says Molly. “You should
stay and have a nice talk with Remus—I’m sure he’ll have you feeling better in
Once again, hardly realizing what’s happening to her, Tonks
finds herself being ushered out to the garden alongside Remus, to sit side by
side on a faded wooden bench. Molly pats her reassuringly on the shoulder, and
then abandons her to sit in stunned silence with Remus.
She stares resolutely down at her hands, folded in her lap.
Remus seems equally uncomfortable. He makes no move to speak. At last, Tonks
says, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were here. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have
“It’s fine. You have as much right to be here as I do.” His
voice sounds pained, and she doesn’t dare look at his face. It would be too
much. She’s barely hanging on to her composure as it is.
She takes a deep breath, and asks, “Do you have a safe place
to transform tonight?”
He nods. “Yes. I was just on the upstairs Floo with Alastor. He has
graciously offered me the use of his spare bedroom.”
“Good.” She bites her bottom lip, and continues to stare
down at her hands, silently willing him to speak. She wants him say
something—anything—to ease the dull ache in her heart.
He remains silent.
She watches as a robin lands nearby, and begins to run it’s
beak through the grass in search of tasty insects. Her heart is broken, but
life still keeps going. And she’ll have to keep going, also.
“I’ll be working quite a bit for the next few weeks,” she
says, “so I don’t know when I’ll be home. Just let yourself in when you come to
get your things. And leave the spare key with Molly when you’re done.”
“Don’t.” She stands, still not looking at him. “There’s
nothing you can say that will make this better right now, so please don’t try.
I’m going home now. Please tell them all goodbye for me.”
“I will.” She thinks she hears his voice cracking as he
answers, and she finally allows herself to raise her eyes to his face. He looks
every bit as broken and lost as she feels, and she wants to grab him and shake
some sense into him.
But she doesn’t.
“Goodbye, Remus.” She turns and walks away. When she reaches the lane, she Disapparates.
As soon as she
reaches her flat, the exhaustion takes hold of her, and she can barely stand.
She stumbles to the kitchen, gripping her counter for support. She looks down,
and right there by her hand sit her boots—the boots with Emmeline’s
blood still on them.
She leans against the wall, and slowly slides down to the
ground, putting her face in her hands. For the first time since Remus walked
out of her door yesterday, she weeps.
Author’s Note: Thanks
so much for reading and reviewing. Another chapter is coming soon, and though
there is plenty more angst in store for Tonks and Remus, it will never be quite
so intense again.