Disclaimer on Chapter 1 – Don't own them, just enjoy playing with them!

Time Does Not Heal All Wounds

WendyNat

Chapter 18

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"What are you doing, precisely, Nymphadora?" Hestia asked her friend, her eyes narrowly watching the other woman. They were sitting in Hestia's flat later that same night, playing wizard's chess. Tonks had no illusions about what Hestia was referring to, however.

Tonks frowned. "First of all, don't call me by that name!"

"Why not?" Hestia grinned inwardly. They'd had this conversation too many times to count over the years.

"It's a ridiculous name! Mum was sadistic, to name me that," Tonks stated, crossing her arms over her chest and partially obscuring the Bulgarian Quidditch team emblem on her shirt.

Hestia smiled and moved a pawn on the board. "I think it's elegant, mysterious."

Tonks leaned forward, looking at the game intently. Absently, she answered, "It's not elegant. Every time I hear it I think of Nymphomaniac." Hestia burst out laughing. "It's true!"

Wiping tears of mirth from her eyes, Hestia shook her head. "That certainly doesn't fit the bill, does it?" Tonks frowned again and shrugged. "When's the last time you've been with someone, Tonks? Really?" Her friend mumbled something. "What?" She repeated it, louder this time, and Hestia sat back in amazement. "Since then? But Harry and Hannah broke up almost two years ago!" Tonks continued to ignore her friend, apparently finding the chess pieces to be rather interesting. "Tonks!"

"What?" Tonks asked, finally looking up. Seeing her friend's face, she sighed. "I'm not attracted to many people, really, Hestia. And I… I'm not good at approaching the ones I am attracted to. Men don't take me seriously; I'm just the clumsy Auror with pink hair. Sometimes purple. Or green," she said, forcing a laugh. Hestia didn't echo her laugh, just kept watching her seriously.

"How many men have you been with, Tonks? Tell me straight out, this time."

The Metamorphmagus sat back in her chair and let out a breath. Shrugging slightly, she said, "Three." At Hestia's incredulous stare, she shrugged again. "I'm not like you, Hestia. Yes, only three – and it was really one too many."

Hestia nodded, holding up her hand and raised three fingers. "Severus – he was obviously the one too many. You did a good deed with that one, Tonks. Really." Now she held up only two fingers. "Okay, and Harry – again, it was you doing a good deed. Or so you thought."

Tonks blushed. "I was attracted to him, and he was so upset… I just wanted to help out… and maybe have some fun while helping… you know we tried to make a go of it, but it didn't work out."

Hestia pursed her lips together. "Mmmm-hmmm." She still had one finger up, and she raised an eyebrow at her friend questioningly.

"And someone you don't know – my first. I was a teenager, what did I know? I had just begun Auror training when it happened, and it was only the one time." Tonks closed her eyes, praying that would be enough. But, judging by the impatient tapping of Hestia's fingers on the table, it appeared that it wasn't enough. Taking a deep breath, she blurted out, "Kirley Duke, okay? My first was Kirley Duke, lead guitar of The Weird Sisters."

Hestia looked impressed. "Really? Well, that explains all the shirts you have, I suppose. How many shirts do you get when you shag a band member, anyway?"

Tonks smacked her with the seat cushion. "None!" Hestia kept grinning at her, and she blew out an irritated breath. "Okay, two!"

Hestia laughed. "Oh, this is too rich! You were a groupie!"

Tonks tried to maintain an annoyed look, but it was too difficult and she grinned widely. "No, actually, I didn't even know who he was at first. There were all these women fawning over him at Rosmerta's in Hogsmeade, and I couldn't tell who he was so I was just sitting there, ignoring him. I guess he thought that was intriguing… at any rate, he came over and started talking." She shrugged. "And, well, one thing led to another…"

"And soon enough he was plucking your strings, hmmm?"

"Hestia!" Tonks shook her head, chuckling.

Hestia's eyes narrowed and she decided to go in for the kill. "So, with your experiences so far, why are you setting yourself up for a heartbreak?"

Tonks looked down at her hands. "I don't know what you mean."

Hestia snarled, "I'm not a fool!" Tonks looked up, surprised. "Listen to the voice of experience here, Tonks. Be very careful with what you're doing. I know you've had a monstrous crush on Krum for at least ten years. But… listen, the woman of his dreams divorced him not even a week ago. He was completely and utterly in love with her, probably still is." Hestia grabbed her friend's hand and caught her eye. "I don't want to see you get hurt. Viktor's a good man, but he's hurting right now, and it'll be a while before he can trust someone else. Be prepared for that, if you're really determined to be his sounding board. This isn't some romance novel, it's real life."

Tonks nodded and looked away. "I know. And… thanks, Hestia. I'll… I'll keep what you said in mind." Hestia just shook her head. Both women knew that, if the time came, Tonks would gladly be whatever Viktor wanted - or needed - her to be.

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"Merlin, I didn't think anyone could bend that way!" Neville said, still in awe. The other men laughed, agreeing. They had just left the "gentleman's club" in Diagon Alley a few minutes prior, and were now relaxing at Harry's house.

"Great idea to bring the sober-up potion, Neville," Harry said, still impressed. Neville shrugged, not wanting to mention that it had actually been his wife who had pressed the flasks into his hands on his way out the door that afternoon. She had been concerned about the men splinching themselves if they tried to Apparate inebriated.

Viktor nodded, smiling. "Yeah, Neville. I vas not in any condition to Apparate – I vould haff splinched for certain." Stoyan nodded, agreeing completely. "And my mate Stoyan here – I still thought he vould splinch!" Stoyan punched him in the arm, and he laughed again.

Harry was quite pleased at how the ritual had worked out. Viktor had loosened up gradually over the course of the evening, and now he was laughing and joking with the other men almost like normal. If Harry hadn't been paying close attention, he would have missed the introspective moments that Viktor indulged in on occasion. Definitely an improvement, but there's still work to be done, Harry thought.

Ron went to Harry's well-stocked bar and pulled out a few bottles of butterbeer, tossing some to the other men and keeping one for himself. Walking back to the extra sofa that Harry had transfigured from a footstool, he sat back and sighed. "I'm just glad Lavender's out of town this week. She would've had a fit if I came in this late."

Oliver laughed. "You're still with her? I thought you said you were going to drop her - too bossy, right?" Ron just shrugged and Oliver laughed again, shaking his head.

Stoyan looked at the man sitting beside him. "Yes, Neville – you vill not get into trouble, vill you?" Stoyan was sincerely concerned - the two men had bonded over the course of the evening.

Neville shook his head, grinning. "Nope. I'm allowed to be out as long as I want tonight – I think she expects me to spend the night here, actually. She and Hermione were having a girls' ni-" He stopped suddenly and swallowed. The room went still for a moment, until Viktor smiled sadly at Neville.

"It's okay, Neville. Most of you are friends to us both, I know that. It… it does hurt, yes – the divorce… it vas not vat I expected to happen, ven ve married. But – it vas a very unusual situation. I do not hate her," Viktor said sincerely, staring at his bottle of butterbeer. "She vas right to leave, if she did not feel the same about me. And… it vas not a complete lie, the reason on the parchment." He looked up at his friends, who were listening gravely. It was not often that a man would open up like this, and they respected the depths he must be in in order to prompt him to do so. He smiled slightly. "I do vant children, and Her- Hermione vas not sure. I do not think she did vant them, ever." He shrugged. "Ven I vas young, it did not matter to me. I thought it vould be enough, haffing her… but it vas not. Lately, I haff been thinking more and more about it…" He shrugged again, and smiled wryly. "Vell, children are obviously a long vays off now – I need a vife first."

Stoyan reached over and clapped him on the shoulder. "You vill find somevun else. Somevun that appreciates you, Viktor."

Harry winked at Ron. "He may have already found someone, mates." Viktor shook his head, but the others urged Harry to continue. "There's a cute bird by the name of Tonks that was eyeing him most of the time we were in the Leaky Cauldron."

"The vun vith the Bulgarian shirt on?" Stoyan didn't miss much.

Harry nodded, grinning. "She's a friend of mine – she's the Metamorphmagus Auror, you may have read about her during the war. Anyway, when I was talking to her before you guys all showed up she offered a… what was it? Oh, yeah, a woman's perspective if you ever wanted to talk, Viktor." His grin widened. "And from personal experience, I highly suggest you take her up on that," he said, lifting his bottle in a salute.

The other men agreed excitedly, and tried to persuade Viktor to owl her the next day. "C'mon, mate, you can't sit around and wait! What if some other bloke snatches her up?" Ron said. Oliver nodded enthusiastically.

Viktor just shook his head. "I am not ready, Harry – maybe soon, not right now. Anyvay, it has only been a few days, vat vould she think of somevun so newly divorced approaching her?" In truth, he was also nervous. He had never truly pursued anyone other than Hermione – his other girlfriends had just sort of happened, and none had been serious.

Harry and Ron shared a grin. "She would think nothing of it, mate, it's what she expects – hell, it's what she offered! She said she'd be happy to be a listening ear. Look, I'm just saying talk to her. If nothing else, she's a good friend and a good sounding board. She helped me a lot when Hannah dumped me. " Viktor eyed him thoughtfully, and Harry gave him a meaningful look. He hoped Viktor would catch on without him having to spell it out more clearly. A few moments later, the truth seemed to hit the Bulgarian, judging by the way his eyes widened. Harry nodded and took a sip of butterbeer.

"Hmm. Maybe I vill, then," Viktor said, giving Harry a genuine smile. One thing was certain – if he did start seeing other women, he would not do or say anything to make them think he was more serious than he actually was at any point in time. He knew all too well just how much that could hurt.

Sitting back, he smiled slightly, listening to his friends debate every subject from Quidditch to wand cores. He was lucky to have them. They had been quietly supportive, seeming to instinctually know what he had needed that night. Merlin has truly shone his favor upon me, to grant me such friends as these, he thought. It was a quote from somewhere, but at the moment he couldn't put his finger on it. It didn't matter. He had never truly appreciated the meaning of the quote until now. With their good-natured attempts to pressure him to approach Tonks, they had shown him that there was hope, that there was a possible happy ending to his life. For the last few weeks, ever since he saw the dark robed man hurry from the Leaky Cauldron at the sight of him, he had been in turmoil – his heart sensing what his mind did not want to admit. But now… he sighed contentedly. While he wasn't precisely happy at that moment, he was finally at peace.

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"I missed you." Hermione murmured, snuggling closer to the man she loved. She had returned from her night out with Susan earlier than she had expected, and went immediately to his rooms. Her cheek lay on his chest now, his heartbeat sounding loudly in her ear. Seven years… seven years my heart has waited for this time…

Severus chuckled. "You were only gone a few hours." He wrapped his arms around her, and whispered, "But I missed you, too." They were lounging on the thick rug in the study, the fire's glow flickering on the rows and rows of books along the walls around them. Hermione couldn't think of a better place to be. At times, it all still felt so unreal – a chance encounter prompting her to find out the truth of what had happened six years ago, the impossible coincidence that she would be working on just the potion he needed for his lycanthropy cure, the decision to leave her husband… it felt unreal, except when she was with Severus. He grounded her, and when she was with him – everything felt more real. She knew without doubt – this was where she belonged. With him. His voice interrupted her musings. "Actually, I hadn't expected you back tonight. I was pleasantly surprised when you knocked on my door."

She snuggled closer to him, smiling. "I hope I didn't ruin any plans you had."

He leaned his head down and kissed her forehead. "Other than thinking about you, I didn't really have any plans."

"Hmmm." She closed her eyes and ran a finger along his stomach and chest, causing him to shiver slightly. "Thinking good things, I hope?"

He shifted a little and then suddenly flipped her over and rolled on top of her, causing her to squeal in surprise. He looked down at her intently, his black eyes glittering. In a low, silky voice, he said, "Very good things." Her stomach fluttered, and she felt her breathing quicken. Winding one hand behind his neck, she pulled his mouth down to hers.

As the kiss deepened, they both worked to remove the layers of cloth separating them. Finally, he was poised over her, both of them breathing deeply. Looking at her, he brushed a stray curl from her cheek. "I love you, I have loved you for seven years. I never thought you would come back to me, but here you are… " With that whispered statement, he caught her lips once more as their bodies joined.

She tried to keep her eyes open but failed. She felt as though she were falling, flying… There was no other feeling like this, none. She was connected to this man, body, mind, and soul, for all of time, and she reveled in it. She would never feel whole again, except when she was in his arms.

His body moved over hers, warm and safe and exciting, and she thought blissfully, This is completeness.

This is love.

~ The End ~

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Author's Notes: Well, this is it! Hope you enjoyed the chapter and the story! Thanks for all of the reviews, they really did spur me to write more quickly… and I have a sequel in the planning stages. I have some more research to do in "Muggle DNA science" but it should start in week or two. It will be a mystery/romance combination, and I hope you'll enjoy it!  

I hope no one is disappointed that Viktor is still up in the air – but he did love Hermione and it wouldn't be very realistic for him to just jump up and be happy with someone else immediately. I foresee his romantic issues being part of the backdrop to the sequel. But – he does have hope, and is at least on the path to considering being with someone else, looking forward.

This was my first fanfic attempt, and I hope it was successful – I had a lot of fun writing it, and a lot of fun reading the reviews. Thanks to everyone!

Individual responses:

JS Sumner – Thank you so much for the detailed review! I'm blushing a bit at the praise – it is very appreciated (as was your original review, which gave me some good tips!!). This story is over for now – the other plotlines and bunnies that are nipping at me don't really fit in well here, so I am planning a sequel. It will be a mystery set in the same "world" and same timeline (picking up where this left off), exploring the Manere potion and lyncanthropy cure and the ages-old 'what happens when it falls into the wrong hands' idea. Thank you again for reviewing!

Louise – Thank you! I'm glad you liked Hermione's mum – she was modeled after my own mother. And your comment about Neville inspired the comment about him getting into trouble – thanks! ;)

KdarkMaiden – Well, he's not precisely happy, but he's more at peace than a couple of chapters ago. Thanks!

Shem – Check out aff.net, chapter 9… my first true lemons! Thanks for the reviews!!

Raclswt – Thanks!

Trish – lol! Tonks doesn't really get around, she just likes a certain "type"! Thank you!

ShagstheDustMop, Rachel, Onesnowyowl, AnnabelleElizabeth , Anarane – Thank you!

Michelline – Thanks for the love! See the sequel for Tonks/Viktor (possible) action ;)

LJ Yolo – Thank you! I'm glad you like my dialogue – that was actually one of the parts I was most nervous about before beginning to write this. And yes, it will be a mystery.

K80 – Thanks! The info about the new scar will be in the sequel… I have my reasons!

Maddy-Riddle – I hope you enjoyed the ending… I am reposting with more lemons on aff.net – just continuations of certain scenes, not new scenes altogether. And the sequel is being mapped out right now – look for it in a week or two.

Deb – Thanks for reviewing! More of the punishment coming in the sequel, actually – she DID say it was just the first part ;). You and Shem's begging paid off – the aff.net version is now up to Chapter 9, and I did edit Chapter 9 quite a bit to add more citrus. I hope you like! You know how nervous I am about writing lemons…

Drusilla – Thank you so much for the review. I'm not a Sirius fan, either, but I am flattered by your statement! I am definitely planning on including information about the final battle and Severus' role in it in the sequel – it will actually have some bearing on the mystery. I am so glad that you enjoyed my story after being away from HP fanfic for a while!

Mrs. Norris and Prof. Snape – Love your name, by the way! Thanks for the review ;)

Spaz141 – Here it is again! That's precisely the sentiment I was trying to convey – it's not easy for either party, even when it's necessary. I'm glad that came across! Thanks for the review ;)

Electryone – Thank you! I was tempted to throw Viktor into the sack with someone – anyone, but tried to be realistic. Tonks' actions with Harry will be explained in the sequel a bit more… she has some issues – she's actually modeled after one of my roommates from college.

Indie Fairy – Thanks! Glad you liked the portraits ;)

Chantal – Thanks for reading faithfully, and for reviewing! And to answer your question – their relationship was a secret seven years ago, only a select few knew, and therefore she never went to his quarters at Hogwarts. She was "stationed" at Grimmauld Place, working in the basement lab there.