Chapter Thirty-Three – The Forgiveness Within

"Two months of beautiful, glorious peace, Dora," Severus said quietly. Tonks and Severus were spending the day at Hogwarts. Tonks had the day off, and was determined to spend as much time as possible outdoors. She was still guarding Azkaban, and it took the day to shake the effects off.

"You have to get through tonight and the end of term banquet though," Tonks said, smiling.

Severus' face clouded over. "Yes. Gryffindor has won again. I don't see Dumbledore adding last minute points to Slytherin every year."

"Ah…but has anyone in Slytherin done anything to earn extra last minute points?" Tonks asked.

Severus said nothing. Tonks giggled, "You've answered my question."

Severus' wand made a popping noise. "Let's stop here for a bit, Dora. Time to take another potion."

She released Severus' arm and helped him sit on the ground. Tonks carefully set down the bag she had been carrying and then flopped on her stomach. She opened the bag and looked inside. Biting her lip, she asked, "Green, purple or fuchsia?"

"It's time for green, Dora," Severus answered. "Fuchsia is in an hour, and I brought purple along in case we stay out till dinner."

Carefully, Tonks brought out the vial filled with green potion. She handed it to Severus, who looked at it and sighed. "This is the worst tasting one," he complained.

"Oh, just take your medicine, you big baby," Tonks teased.

Holding his nose, Severus swallowed the potion in one gulp. He handed the phial back to her, and she noticed the smell of the potion still lingered. She put the vial back in the bag and Severus made a move to kiss her.

"Stay away, Mister!" Tonks giggled. "You already kissed me once after that potion. I'm not making that mistake again."

Severus ran his fingers through her light pink hair. Her hair was chin length and parted down the middle this morning. Tonks took out her wand and pointed it to his mouth, saying, "Eluoris."

Severus looked around quickly, to make sure no one was watching and kissed Tonks. Tonks let her tongue explore his mouth a bit before breaking away. "Mmm…minty fresh," she giggled.

She went to take his hand when she stopped. "Damnit," she muttered under her breath.

"What's wrong?" Severus asked.

"My new arm doesn't always listen to my instructions," she complained. "I wanted to take your hand, but it wouldn't do it."

"Darling, there had to be some other way than cutting off your own arm," Severus said quietly.

Tonks eyes flashed. "It's what I decided to do," she said angrily. "I'm old enough to make my own decisions, Severus. If making sure the Death Eaters won't find me means I have trouble with my arm once in a while, it's worth it."

"Okay."

"What do you mean, okay?" Tonks asked.

Severus sighed. "Are you looking for a fight, Dora?"

"No," Tonks said softly.

"Good. I'm sure sooner or later we'll have our first fight, but I don't want it to be today," Severus smiled.

Tonks giggled. Severus took her hand and lowered himself on the grass so that he was on his back. They sat in silence for several minutes.

"Did you mean what you said in the Headmaster's office?" Severus asked suddenly.

"I said a lot of things there, Severus," Tonks replied.

"About hating your reflection?"

Tonks sighed. "Not anymore, no."

"What changed?" Severus asked.

"A lot of things. Mainly, I hated that I couldn't be me for the longest time. I hated that in order not to be used as a weapon, I couldn't look like me anymore. Now I don't have to worry about that anymore. I refuse to be ashamed of myself or what I have done."

Severus pondered this. "Good," he said after a moment's thought. "I've been there, Dora. I hated myself for the longest time. I thought I had become a coward and that I didn't deserve to live."

This intrigued Tonks. "Really?"

"You have to forgive yourself, Dora. That's the only way to survive, to live with what's happened."

Tonks brushed away a tear that formed, "I can't forgive myself about David Watson," she said sadly.

"You have to. Or you'll start to feel dead inside."

Tonks looked at Severus. Perhaps once he felt dead inside and took the chance of trying to redeem himself. If he could, then so could she, Tonks decided.

"I'll try, Severus. I really will," Tonks knew then, she would try.

They fell into another silence.

"Dora," Severus started.

"Yes, Severus?" Tonks asked lazily.

"Bill and Fleur's wedding is on Saturday, you know."

Tonks closed her eyes. "I almost forgot about that. I need to find a gift!" she said.

"I know we decided that we need to keep our relationship secret for the time being, but…" he trailed off.

"But what, Professor Snape?" she smiled at him.

He raised his head and looked at her. "Will you share a dance with me once? At the wedding?" he asked shyly.

Tonks thought her smile couldn't get any bigger. "Of course," she told him.

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"Having sex on a regular basis is doing nothing for my balance," Tonks muttered under her breath. She was on the train that would take all of Horwarts' students home for the summer. And currently, she was right on her bottom.

Tonks looked behind her to find the object that had caused her to fall. There was a broom handle lying across the corridor. She picked up the broom and threw it back into the luggage compartment.

"On your ass again, Tonks?" Calvin Wong asked, laughing. He extended a hand to help her up.

As she was lifted to her feet, she said, "I was merely checking every place that an evil wizard could hide."

"So there's no evil wizard in the broom closet?"

Tonks laughed and punched Calvin in the arm. "Might I remind you that I'm doing you a favor and filling in?"

Calvin brought out his hands, "Peace, peace. Yes, thank you for filling in at the last minute. I was surprised when Dumbledore said you would be in the castle somewhere."

Tonks coughed. "I was just visiting the alma mater."

Calvin smiled, "Back to work, missy."

Tonks turned. "Did you just call me missy?"

"No," Calvin said turning towards the conductor.

"Good thing," Tonks smiled. She walked towards the back of the train, looking through the compartments as she went. Once she had to tap the glass to break up a pair of snogging students. As she mouthed "no," to them, she thought, "I have become so uncool."

She passed by a compartment that held Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny. They waved at her and gestured for her to come inside.

"Wotcher!" she said, sitting down next to Ginny, and crossing her legs. Ginny looked at her interestedly.

"How do you decide what to do with your hair?" Ginny asked.

Tonks looked down, she couldn't even remember what she had done with her hair today. There was no hair on her shoulders, so she patted the top of her head. It was spikes. "What color is it?" she asked. "I can't see it!"

Hermione answered, "It's red."

Tonks shook her head, "But what kind of red? There are thousands of reds out there. Brick red? Fire Engine red? Weasley red?" Ginny started giggling. "Red just doesn't cut it."

"It's Voldemort eye red," Harry answered bitterly.

Tonks didn't waste a second, "Well, that won't work, now will it?" She quickly scrunched her nose and changed her hair to lilac curls that cascaded down her back. "Better?" she asked Harry, who nodded.

The group invited Tonks to play a game of exploding snaps with them. Tonks eagerly accepted. She was awful at this game, but she loved playing it. After five minutes of playing, Harry asked, "Am I going to be followed all summer long again, Tonks?"

Tonks looked up, "What does your gut tell you?" she asked.

"Yes."

"I heard you might want to be an Auror. Here's a lesson for you. Always trust your gut. If you can't trust yourself, you can't trust anyone," she told him seriously.

He nodded. "Then I will be followed this summer."

"Yep. I'm going to try to sign up for some shifts, Harry," she told him.

"Please do. I get to stay at Headquarters until Bill and Fleur's wedding, but then I have to go back."

"Don't worry, Harry. Once you turn seventeen, you can come to the Burrow. It's almost ready. Mum's thrilled. The outside will be presentable by the wedding," Ron said.

"Harry should stay were ever he's safest, Ron," Hermione said sternly.

"I know, love, but I would like him to enjoy his last summer before school's over," Ron replied hotly.

"And we'll call it a draw before the bickering gets any worse," Ginny said, rolling her eyes.

"That's enough for me, folks. Time to get back to the business of protecting the Hogwarts express," Tonks said, standing up. "I'll see you all on Saturday."

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Saturday came far too quickly in Tonks' opinion. She had to run to Diagon Alley first thing Saturday morning to find a gift. They were registered at Holiday's Home Store. As she approached the counter, she laughed when she saw Professor McGonagall already standing there.

"Looking for a gift as well, Professor?"

Professor McGonagall waved her hand. "I've been very busy, with papers and all, that I simply haven't found the time…"

"Do you have the list?" Tonks asked. Together they looked at the list of registered items. Tonks saw that no one had bought the set of temper-sheets. Sheets that could change the temperature of the bed. She said good-bye to the professor and ran off to find the sheets.

She left the store feeling very proud of herself. She looked down at the pocket watch she actually remembered to bring with her today. She still had an hour before she had to get ready. Plenty of time to browse a bit. Tonks walked by the second hand shop. She loved the clothes in here. As a looked through the racks, she gasped, knowing she had found the perfect outfit for the wedding.

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Tonks arrived a bit late to the Burrow, but was there before the start of the wedding. She took a quick look at the house behind her. From the outside, it looked like new. The inside, she had heard, still needed some work. Luckily, the day was beautiful and there was a tent set up for the reception.

She noticed that there was a seat open next to Severus. She smiled, wondering how many people he had to say couldn't sit there, so that he could save it for her. Severus was dressed in his traditional black outfit. She slipped next to him and quickly squeezed his hand. She almost started laughing she saw his reaction to her outfit.

Tonks had found a robe and dress that was in the style of the twenties flapper girl. The robe was light blue with darker blue stitching all over it. Like the time period dictated, the robe was very short, only just covering her bum. The dress underneath was longer, falling to just above her knees, in the same dark blue color as the stitching. She left her hair color natural, but let in fall in a wave around her face. Tonks had never felt prettier in her entire life.

"You look amazing," Severus whispered.

"Thank you," she said just as the music started playing.

Tonks turned to face the aisle. Arthur and Molly Weasley walked down the aisle, arm in arm. Tonks smiled as she saw tears were already falling on Molly's cheeks. Two more followed, and Tonks assumed that they were Fleur's parents. Ginny Weasley walked down the aisle next. Ginny looked gorgeous. Her hair was up off of her face and the light green robe was the perfect color for her. A younger girl with the same silver hair as fleur followed Ginny.

Then Fleur appeared. Tonks, along with every other guest held their breath, seeing how beautiful Fleur looked. She was not wearing a robe, but a simple white dress, that seemed to float around her ankles. Her silver hair flowed down her back and Tonks noticed that she only had eyes for Bill.

Bill reached out his hand when Fleur walked up to him. The guests sat down and Tonks smiled in delight, realizing that it would be Professor Dumbledore who would marry the pair.

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"To Bill and Fleur!" the crowd toasted the newly married pair. Bill and Fleur shared a kiss and the music started playing. Smiling, Bill and Fleur went out to the dance floor and had their first dance as a married couple. Tonks sighed. She quickly glanced over at Severus, who was sitting at another table. Damn assigned seating, she thought to herself.

He didn't see her looking at him, as he was deep in conversation with Professor McGonagall. Tonks looked at the other members of her table. She laughed, knowing that Molly had done the seating assignment. Tonks had been placed, at what shall be known as the kid's table. Harry, Hermione, and a couple of Weasley cousins were all sitting here.

The DJ called for dancing. Harry and Hermione stood up eagerly and went to the dance floor. Tonks wasn't quite ready to dance yet. However, she did go out to the floor when Percy Weasley asked her to dance.

Tonks wasn't the best dancer in the world, but she certainly knew how to enjoy herself. The music was upbeat when that song was over, another Weasley asked her to dance, this time Charlie. After an hour, Tonks was getting tired and went to the sidelines. She saw that Severus was standing up, looking at the dance floor.

She walked over to him. "Hi," she said, smiling.

"Hi, yourself," he told her, "I can see you're having fun out there."

Tonks nodded. "I am," she told him. At that time, a slow number had just started playing. Severus reached out his hand. Tonks placed her hand in his and they walked onto the dance floor. Not the middle, but near the edge, where they could have some privacy.

Tonks allowed her body to relax next to his. Severus placed one hand at the small of her back and held her other hand. She looked up at him, "I love you," she said very softly.

"I love you, too," he whispered back. Tonks rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. Images from the past year crossed her mind. She had been through hell and back, but in the end, she knew her journey was worth it. Worth it as long as she had Severus by her side. She knew that someday, they would be able to dance like this at their own wedding. But for now, now they had this moment. And somehow, that was enough.

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A/N – I can't believe it's done! Thank you to everyone who has stuck by me and finished this with me. Especially you faithful ones who review every chapter! Your words of encouragement have made this worthwhile. This was my first attempt at fanfiction, and now I'm freaking hooked! Now for all of you out there who don't usually review. Please consider reviewing just this chapter. Please? I'd love to know what people think. And in case anyone is wondering, in the future, watch out for Which Witch is Tonks? The sequel to the Forgiveness Within, set during Harry's final year at Hogwarts. Thanks again!

Eluoris – Eluo – to wash out Oris - mouth