A/N: I wrote this a while ago, and have only just come across it in my files. Set pre-OotP... AU-ish. This fic is rather disturbing and distressing. If you are easily upset then please do not read this. It is a 2-part stort and I am posting the two halves together. Please let me know what you think at the end. Thank you.
Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling.
It was a muggy summer evening and the air promised heavy rain. Remus Lupin stood outside Number 12 Grimmauld Place with Albus Dumbledore, watching as the old manor house appeared in front of them. A rumble of thunder could be heard, far off into the distance as the two wizards climbed the dry stone steps to the front door. Dumbledore opened the door without the use of a key or his wand, and indicated with an arm for his younger friend to enter. He did so and was followed by the Headmaster. Once inside, Dumbledore turned to speak, his voice was low.
"You have been here before Remus." It wasn't a question. Lupin simply nodded and followed the man across the entrance hall.
"Will the Order be assembled tonight, Sir?" he enquired, keeping his own voice down to match the elder's. The grey man shook his head.
"No, we are to meet tomorrow evening. Though I dare say there will be somebody about."
The house smelt old and inhabited. It was poorly lit, and the grimy windows let in little light, due to the black clouds that had suddenly rolled in; The beginnings of a storm. Dumbledore pushed opened another door, whichrevealed some wooden steps. They led to a basement kitchen, made mainly of stone. The room was cold, even for July, and a fire roared to one side. Remus noticed as he descended the stairs, that two people sat opposite each other at the large wooden table in the centre of the room. Both heads rose to acknowledge the new arrivals. The wizard, a black man with a golden earring that shimmered in the firelight, spoke first. His voice was deep and rumbling. It echoed against the walls of stone.
"Good evening Professor Dumbledore," he addressed the man. Dumbledore nodded.
"Good evening Kingsley. Remus this is Kingsley Shacklebolt. Kingsley, Remus Lupin."
The other person in attendance, a young girl with bright pink spiky hair, looked up upon hearing the name. The two men shook hands briefly.
"And this is Dora Tonks," Dumbledore nodded to the witch. Remus guessed that she was very young, around Harry's age. And yet in front of her sat parchment marked with the Ministry of Magic emblem. On second glance she seemed to be older than he had first thought. Her skin was ghostly pale, and her dark eyes were lined with shadows of fatigue.
"Remus is–" Dumbledore began but the witch cut him off.
"I know who he is," she said curtly and Dumbledore nodded his apology.
"Of course you do."
Remus frowned, trying hard to think why the girl would know him. He shrugged it off as Dumbledore began to speak once more.
"Perhaps then you could take Remus upstairs to see him," the wizard was saying. By him, he must mean Sirius, Remus mused. The young witch faltered and glanced towards her partner.
"With respect Sir," Kingsley spoke up. "He's only just settled."
"He will want to see Remus, I'm sure," Dumbledore pressed. Silence fell. The two Auror locked stares, unspoken words passing between them. The girl's shoulders fell, and she placed both small hands onto the table as she pushed herself up.
"I will go," she said simply and, without regarding Dumbledore or Lupin, she made her way to the stairs. Lupin began to follow.
"Be careful," Kingsley called after her, sending a chill up the man's spine.
The pair walked silently up several flights of stairs. The corridors were dark, as they had few windows, and Remus was already beginning to feel claustrophobic. It's almost like a prison, he thought, A different one. The walls were peeling and dappled with mould. Cobwebs hung high above them and the floorboards creaked uneasily as they moved on.
"He is my cousin," she explained from nowhere, and Lupin nodded, finally realising where he had previously heard the name. "He's not well. He's not well at all," she added in a mumble. Remus didn't reply.
When they had reached what Lupin guessed to be the top floor, the witch stopped and stared at the door at the end of the long hallway.
"Stay by the door, in the shadows where he can't see you," she told him, though she did not look his way. "I'm not sure how he will react to you." Her tone was cautious and Remus could only nod. He swallowed, realising that his mouth and throat were dry. From the mildew or from nervous apprehension?
The girl, Dora, opened the door slowly and held out a hand behind her to indicate that the man should stop. He obeyed.
The room was bare, save for a single wooden bed,with greying sheets, and awooden chest.Tattered curtains hung limply from the filthy windows. The room was dark and still. A sudden voice came from the far corner.
"Is that you Annabelle?" It was a male voice, Sirius' voice, and yet not so. Tonks took a deep breath and entered the room.
"Yes," she replied softly. Sirius stepped out from the shadows in the corner. Lupin watched the pair intently.
"You're late," he snapped with a scowl.
"Am I?" she whispered. The man huffed and sat on the edge of the bed.
"Don't play games with me, girl. You know you are! Where's my drink? Did you fetch my drink?" he asked her sharply. Tonks shook her head. "I didn't think you would." He gave a bitter laugh.
"What did you order, Sir?" she asked quietly.
"It doesn't matter now!" he spat at her. His head twitched slightly a couple of times. His grimace fell and his face became expressionless. He looked to the floor and gave a quiet sob. Looking back up, he grinned at his cousin.
"Hey," he whispered.
"Hey," she replied, her voice cracking slightly. Sirius rose from the bed and crossed to her, taking her head in his hands and pulling her in to a passionate kiss. Dora did not respond. Remus frowned, unsure of what was happening. The man pulled away from his cousin, licking his lips.
"Don't do that," she murmured. He ignored her, moving back to the bed and lying down in a foetal position.
"Dumbledore spoke to me today," he said, bringing his knees to his chest with his arms. He began to rock slightly.
"Yeah? He's here now," Tonks admitted quietly. The rocking stopped.
"Then why hasn't he come to see me yet? He promised he would," Sirius shouted angrily. Tonks crossed to him, and perched on the edge of the bed. She began to stroke his long dark curls affectionately.
"They're talking about me, Dora," he whispered, using her name for the first time.
"Everyone." He began to shake again. "They're doing it now, do you here?" He put a hand on her wrist, squeezing it tightly. The witch winced slightly in pain.
"Sirius, let go," she said calmly but his grip remained. Remus moved from the door slightly in alarm. Tonks turned to him.
"What?" Sirius asked immediately. "You hear them too? Don't you? They're saying I'm crazy Dora, I'm not crazy, I'm not crazy!" he rambled, squeezing her wrist once more and causing her to give a yelp of pain.
"I know, I know," she squealed. Remus stepped into the room now.
"Remus don't," she insisted and the man stopped. Sirius' eyes snapped up to hers. They were hollow, and grey. Had they once been blue? Tonks did not know.
"Don't say that name," he said coldly and Tonks frowned. "Don't say his name. Not here, and not in front of me, do you hear? He's dead Dora, he's dead." Tonks' frown deepened.
"Sirius, Remus isn't dead. He's right here, see?" She indicated to his old friend with her head. Sirius looked confused.
"Oh, and I suppose he brought James with him, did he?" he asked mildly, his eyes shimmering with tears.
"…No," Tonks mumbled.
"No of course he didn't!" Sirius snapped, kicking out at the witch so that she fell off the bed. She remained on the floor. "Remus is dead, Dora. James killed him." He began tocry and threw his face into his pillow. Remus moved forward and placed a hand on Dora's shoulder. He was alarmed to see his friend this way. He had known of Sirius' demise, however he hadn't imagined that he would be this different. Perhaps he could not do anything to save him after all; perhaps he was too far gone.
"Sirius," he ventured softly. Dora looked up, alarmed. Sirius' sobs increased and he covered his ears with his pillow.
"If I don't hear you, you aren't here," he cried, screwing his face up in torment. Remus took a step back. Tonks reached for one of Sirius' hands and stroked it soothingly.
"You can't be here. James killed you, I saw him, and then Peter, and then himself. Why not me? Was I not good enough to die with?" he wailed, his bed trembling with the force of his grief.
"Sirius, James didn't kill Remus," Tonks told him. The sobs ended abruptly but the tears continued to fall. His face portrayed a heartache that Tonks could not comprehend. He looked deeply into her eyes, so much brighter than his own.
"That's right, I did," he whispered. Tonks shook her head desperately but Sirius nodded. "Yes, I killed him. I remember now. And then Peter, and then James, and then myself. Yes, that's how it went. I remember now," he rambled.
"Sirius, you didn't kill anybody," Tonks stressed. How true her words were, Lupin thought. Locked away, an innocent man, for twelve years in hell, in a place worse than death itself. At least death would be an escape. Helookedat her and then screamed incoherently in her face. The girl blinked. For the first time since they had entered the room, Remus noticed that she was frightened.
"I didn't kill anybody," he shouted, echoing her words. And then he hit her hard with the back of his hand, making her stumble to the floor.
"You killed him! You killed them all you traitorous little slut!" he spat. Tonks fought hard not to cry. Her lip had been split and her right eye was extremely tender. Remus moved forwards once more, helping the young woman from the floor.
"Filthy little freak, what are you doing in my house anyway? Get out, and don't come back."
Tonks shuddered a breath. Sirius closed his eyes and went very still. When he opened them again, he looked shocked and sat up quickly.
"Dora, you're bleeding," he exclaimed, pulling her close to him.
"I'm ok," she whimpered. She moved her cousin slightly and he began to settle back down onto the bed. "Sleep now," she whispered.
"I am asleep. You're not here. He's not here," he pointed at Lupin, acknowledging him for the first time. Tonks looked down at him sadly. Sirius reached up and stroked her bruised face.
"Andromeda?" he frowned. Tonks shook her head. "Yes," he laughed. Tonks' lip began to tremble. She crinkled her face slightly, and her hair fell to dark waves to the shoulders. Lupin hoped she couldn't see his surprised reaction; he hadn't realised she was a Metamorphmagus.
"Ok," Dora whispered and Sirius smiled before closing his eyes. Tonks lay a light kiss on his forehead before rising and crossing the room. She took Remus' forearm as she passed him, and led him out also. Once the door was shut, Dora began to breathe quickly, almost as if she were having a panic attack. Remus stroked her back. She wiped her face with her palms as tears began to fall.
"I'm sorry," she sobbed. "It's just…that's the worst I've seen him in a long time. He's never hit me before." Her face was still throbbing from the contact of his hand. She looked up into the man's pale eyes, her own full of sorrow and regret.
"I'm sorry Remus, you're friend is gone." She left his side quickly, running down the corridor and leaving him alone in the darkness.
End of Part 1