This story has been a long time in coming. I started it before OotP and got stuck and then OotP helped me to finish up. Another great asset has been my sometimes beta LilyAyl who has pushed me through this and is dying to read every word. I wouldn't have managed this story without her. This is the first installment, seven more to follow. I hope you enjoy. Either way leave me a reply to let me know how I'm doing.
There were some things no one ever wanted to do, and this was one of them. Bloody hell, she wasn't even supposed to be on duty tonight. This was her night off. She was heading off to see her boyfriend's newest place, and now instead of being on time for dinner and whatever else was entailed in that package, she was hours late with news she didn't want to deliver.
Nymphadora Tonks stepped out of the fireplace, having been too exhausted to trust herself apparating over there by herself. The place looked cozy and comfortable, but still very much bachelorish, very much Charlie. It was nearly comforting.
"You're even later than usual," Charlie's voice came to her as he walked out of another room, most likely the kitchen of this new flat. He was smiling at her, as if he didn't mind.
She attempted to give him a smile, but it came out somewhere between a smile and a grimace. "Big case came up," she said with a half shrug. "You know Kingsley when it comes to stuff like this."
"Well, you're here now. Dinner's cold, but I'm sure we could find other ways to occupy ourselves," Charlie learned before he lowered his mouth to her neck.
"Charlie. Charlie, wait," Tonks insisted, pushing him away and creating space between them. She straightened out the shirt he'd managed to rumple and then looked at him with serious eyes. "We need to talk."
As whenever a man is faced with that phrase, Charlie put his hands up as if in self-defense and backed up a few paces. "Tonks."
She bit on her lip in nervousness. He was looking at her like he'd never laid eyes on her before, that couldn't be a good sign. "I think it would be best if you sat down," she said eventually.
He tilted his head a bit and advanced towards her like he had a plan to stop her from doing what it was he thought she was doing. "Nymphadora, I thought we were having a wonderful—"
She closed her eyes and a part of her truly wished he were on the right track. It would have been easier and he would have been able to convince her. Instead she nodded at him. "We are. I don't know how to do this."
"I love you," she said eventually, putting her hands on either side of his face to emphasize the point. "And I'm not here to break it off with you, farthest thing from it. The case I was working on..."
Charlie shifted nervously after a few minutes of silence. "Yeah? Spit it out. You're worrying me."
She pursed her lips and then took in a deep breath before continuing. "There was another attack on a wizarding family, a particularly nasty one."
Tears flooded her eyes and the words she'd been preparing to say since she'd arrived on the scene of the Burrow flowed out. "I'm so sorry Charlie."
He moved a few steps closer, fear shadowing his own eyes. "Who was it?" he asked desperately now. He knew it was a member of his family now, but he needed to know which one. Tonks could nearly see the list running through his head.
"It was your mother, Charlie," she managed to get out around a sob. "It was Molly. I'm so sorry, I didn't want to be the one to do this, I didn't," she finished, shaking her head to emphasize the point.
She watched him walk away from her. He was staring off into space with a blank look on his face as if nothing was recognizable to him anymore. He stopped a few feet away, just staring, and all Tonks could do was watch. She wanted to go to him and put her arms around him, but she wasn't sure he'd accept that from her. Not Charlie. Especially when she had been the one who was forced to deliver the news about Molly. Damn them for thinking she was the one who should do this.
"No, no, it's not true," he said finally, denial taking over. He stormed across the room and took her by the arms and gave her a quick shake. "You've got the facts wrong."
"Kingsley and I were called to the scene Charlie, I… I saw…" her voice hitched; she couldn't relive the moment then. Instead Tonks relocated her gaze to the floor before squeezing her eyelids shut. "Just trust me alright."
"She's… she's really gone." His voice was quiet and broken. Her gaze was forced up and she could see tears lingering in Charlie's eyes.
He turned away and began to look around the place he'd moved into so recently. "She was… she was just here. Telling me how this flat wasn't suitable if I had honorable intentions towards you." Charlie shook his head in disbelief before turning back to her. "I just can't think that she won't be here to say it again. There were things that I should have told her that I didn't. Things that I needed to tell her."
Tonks ran a hand through Charlie's hair in an attempt to comfort him. "She knows." And with Molly it was likely she did know. There wasn't much that had ever gotten passed her.
"She wasn't supposed to go yet," Charlie said, still trying to push it all away.
Tonks could find no reply and instead just continued to hold him as best she could. Knowing that he would soon breakdown completely, she gently guided Charlie over to the couch and sat with him there, pulling him close, and simply allowing him his chance to cry.