When Tonks awoke it was to find herself in a dark ward at St Mungos. At least she assumed it was St Mungos. She certainly recognized the itchy blue blankets from her recent stay.
As she struggled up her a sharp pain shot across her arm and a dull pain surged through her head blinding her for a moment. She winced as her eyes adjusted and she could just make out three figures huddled in the opposite corner of the ward, whispering in worried voices.
Sirius and Lupin stood with their backs to her, their shoulders were tensed so she could tell they were worried about something. They were harassing the poor healer in charge of the ward who was staring open mouthed at Sirius. He was obviously shocked that THE Sirius Black, recently deceased, supposed ex-murderer and the only man to have escaped Azkaban, was now growling in his face.
"what's wrong?" Tonks called groggily from her bed.
Her friends whipped around and rushed over. They both breathed huge sighs of relief as they perched themselves on the end of her bed.
"We weren't sure that you'd wake up at all!" The healer squeaked, relieved that Sirius and Lupin were no longer breathing down his neck. "We had no way to tell what that ritual did to your system!"
"Wasn't it in the file?" Tonks asked as the young man took her pulse.
Lupin shook his head "The file was destroyed, Most of it anyway. It went through the veil. And, as that ritual is designed to be the last thing you ever do, we thought it might be fatal in the long run."
Tonks looked up accusingly at Sirius. She couldn't believe that he'd told everyone what she'd tried to do. Now they'd all think that she was suicidal.
"I had to tell them" He protested. "No one thinks any the worse of you for it."
"What about Arthur?" Tonks demanded bitterly "If I hadn't done it, if I'd have just done what I'd promised and JUST fetched Percy then he might still be alive."
"Now really! Cant this wait?" The healer swelled indignantly " Miss Tonks needs rest. I wont have you upsetting my patients and I must insist that…"
The healers confident tirade buckled under Sirius' furiously glare. With a dark look back at the group and his nose in the air the young man bustled off to his office, muttering as he went.
Tonks held her face in her palms to hide her tears from the others. As soon as she'd done it she realized just how futile it was. Her shoulders shook and she gasped for air as she felt her hands being pulled away from her face. Sirius held them tight in his own as Lupin shifted up closer to her and whispered kindly.
"no one blames you for what happened to Percy. You kept your promise and brought him back to Arthur safe. Percy died saving his father, it had nothing to do with you."
Tonks shook her head bitterly and pulled away "I should have made sure Troy was gone?"
Sirius let out a bark of laughter in stunned disbelief. " Killed him you mean?" He snorted. "You don't want that on your conscience, believe me! For twelve years I thought that I'd killed Peter and even though I knew what he'd done, having his death and all of those poor muggles on my conscience was the most depressing thing about Azkaban."
"But you saw him blow himself up?" Tonks sighed.
"He wouldn't have done it if I hadn't been there." Sirius muttered through gritted teeth and looked away towards the ground.
Tonks shot a quizzical glance at Lupin but he seemed as surprised at Sirius's outburst as she was and merely shrugged.
"But he was still the one that did it." She whispered kindly, reaching over and patting his arm.
Sirius smiled slightly as he looked up. "I guess I know how you feel then. " He said softly. "You couldn't stop what happened in the ministry anymore than I could have when I confronted Peter. If I HAD have killed him then I'd have had to live the rest of my life knowing that I was no better than the people that I'm trying to stop. I'm sure that deep down you feel the same about Troy.. or you will, once all of this has settled down"
"It'll never settle for the Weasleys though will it?"
Lupin and Sirius shook their heads sadly.
"Dumbledore's gone to the Burrow with mad-eye to see them." Said Lupin "they're taking it very hard. Molly's been afraid of something like this, she's already lost her brothers to voldermort. Arthur only left the bo…. left Percy an hour ago, and the children.." He trailed off for a moment leaving an uncomfortable silence.
He didn't need to say what the children were going through. The Weasley children were always so full of fun and so close, They didn't deserve this, it wasn't fair!
After a moment Sirius spoke "Dumbledore wants to hold a meeting when you're ready , to discuss what was in that file." He said, breaking the silence.
"None of it survived then?"
"Just a few pieces." Lupin informed her," Everything on the ritual was destroyed. Some information on it's uses were found though." He finished, glancing nervously at Sirius who had once again avoided his friends gazes. Tonks looked questioningly between them.
" What was it used for?" She asked slowly.
Lupin to seemed to have a problem with looking at anyone in the eyes. He chose to close them rather than look at anyone as Sirius rose and turn away.
"What?" Tonks whispered fearfully, dreading the answer.
After a pause Lupin Took a deep breath and spoke. " It was used by the minestry as a punishment back when Grindlewald's was at the height of his power." He said softly " The old aurors used to send any of his followers that they caught to a different dimension. Where they were to be tortured until the end of time."
"Tortured?" Tonks gasped, staring open mouthed at Sirius who had moved away to the window.
"Those trapped inside are forced to live out every one of their fears, their darkest moments again and again. They see their loved ones die everyday and can do nothing to stop it. They're beaten constantly with no hope of rescue. It is the cruelest fate that anyone can suffer."
By the time that he'd finished Tonks was fighting back the tears again. No wonder Sirius hadn't wanted to tell anyone about it. She pulled off of the blanket and, swaying slightly, rose to her feet.
Sirius whipped around as Lupin gave a soft cry of protest.
"You need to rest!" He said as Sirius rushed over to steady her.
She shook her head defiantly "No," She said "No Dumbledore wants to know what that file said."
Sirius nodded. "Are you sure that you're ready?" He asked softly.
Tonks nodded again and began to gather her stuff as the apoplectic healer burst through his office door.
"What in the name of Merlin do you think you are doing!" He demanded as he paused hand on his hips at the end of Tonks' bed.
" I'm discharging myself." Tonks shrugged slipping her boots on.
The healer looked completely scandalized and puffed out his chest in a way which forceful reminded Tonks of Percy Weasley. "You cant!" The young man hissed "It's against hospital policy to discharge patients without a healer's approval!"
"You're a healer aren't you?" Sirius demanded.
Sirius smiled mirthlessly and leaned in so close to the young healer that their noses were almost touching. "So approve it!" He growled.
The healer's lips pursed tightly with anger but his eyes showed just how terrified of Sirius he actually was.
He very quickly came to the conclusion that he wasn't paid enough for this. Swallowing his pride and with all of the dignity that he could muster he snatched up Tonks' chart from the end of the bed.
"You'll need a check up and then there are some forms to fill in." He told her through gritted teeth. "The process takes about an hour, I suggest that your visitors come back for you then."
Tonks looked up at Lupin and Sirius for their approval. They both nodded.
"We'll come back an collect you." Lupin smiled, "There's something that we have to do first." He shot a meaningful glance at Sirius who nodded solemnly.
"You're going to see Harry aren't you?" Tonks smiled "It'll be fine; you know he's going to be ecstatic."
"Until we tell him about Percy, the ministry being overthrown and the outbreak form Azkaban." Sirius muttered. " Then he'll just start worrying"
Tonks rose and patted his arm reassuringly " At least he'll know what's happening this time, he'll be pleased about that, " She smiled, " Also you're alive and Bellatrix is dead. That'll cheer him up"
Sirius forced a smile and hugged her goodbye "Back in an hour okay?"
"Nooo!" The man wailed, cupping his head in his huge hands.
A figure dressed in black attempted to yank him up impatiently but the crying man pushed him forcefully away. The second figure brushed his long blond hair off of his face and turned angrily away from his fallen companion.
He moved over to the tall window where a third person stood illuminated by the moon. His face was so pale that it seemed to reflect the small amount of light coming in through
the window and shone like the moon.
"You must forgive him my Lord," The man with the long hair pleaded. "He is too
focused on his own loss and cannot see what a magnificent victory this is for you."
"Victory?" The pale figure repeated, his back to the others.
"Your armies escape form Azkaban and victory over the ministry."
"Indeed," The figure sneered, " However it wasn't a total victory was it?"
"No my Lord," The man stammered desperately, "but.."
"But nothing!" The pale figure snarled angrily turning to face him. " We did not achieve our main objective."
"Fudge was killed."
"And he will easily be replaced." The figure snapped causing his servant to flinch
"Fudge was more use to us alive, with him gone and knowing that I am back they will replace him with someone competent, will they not?"
"Y-Yes my lord."
"And without the information that we sought our plans are now useless!" The figures voice sank into a low and terrifying hiss that made the other mans skin crawl. "We have lost our most powerful tool!"
"There's no way that we can obtain it?" The second man ventured boldly.
The figure gave a short sniff of laughter. " It has been destroyed."
From the floor the first mans wailing had been reduced to a sniff. He straightened himself and called across to them. "The girl"
"What?" The man with the long hair snapped.
"She has used it she must know how it works.? He sniffed.
A high shriek of laughter erupted from the pale man. " Of course! It's a simple as you Rudolphus, well done! As a reward you may fetch her!"
As Rudolphus Lestrange's face twisted into a malicious smile two hundred miles away Harry Potter jerked awake clutching his scar.