The blue skies and bright sunshine that had greeted her on her first evening of freedom had been thoroughly chased into hiding by think, black thunderheads alive with crackling lightning and rolling thunder. The wet weather of the previous day had not been a simple rainy day but rather the first of a monsoon season unlike any she had experienced in England. The weather matched her mood and she was grateful for the change. The air felt every bit as confused and displaced as she did. In deference to her throbbing head, she had left the room unlit, enjoying the flashes of lightning that caused shadows to dance in stark contrast across the floor and walls.
It was the passage of time that most baffled her. She knew, without doubt, that she had been at Belatrix' mercy for far longer than a mere three days and yet by the accounts of every one of the Order members it had only been three days. Seventy-two hours. It was impossible. Surely, even under the vicious torment of her aunt, she could have endured three days' captivity with better aplomb. It ate at her self-confidence and made her question how she could have possibly passed all of her auror exams if she were so weak under pressure.
She settled her gaze on a spot just beyond the window. The pelting rain and occasional hail beat out an imprecise rhythm against the glass as the sky continued to grow increasingly darker. Although midday, the Muggle streetlamps had lit, providing little illumination through the endless downpour, and still it grew darker, edging ever closer to the pitch of midnight.
She sunk deeper into the bed, relishing the soft fabric of Remus' pajamas against her still tender skin. Molly had brought her a whole stack of laundry that she had freshly washed and carefully folded but her own nightclothes were far less comfortable and so she had decided to deprive Remus of his pajamas for a while longer.
She shook her head slowly. Despite the whirling thoughts that twisted and turned in her head, she could not escape that single nagging worry. She was pleased to have shuffled Remus off to bathe and eat before the Order meeting was to take place, allowing her at least a bit of time for quiet rumination.
"It can't have been only three days," she whispered. She hoped that by saying it aloud, she might be able to reason it through better.
"It wasn't, at least not for you or for Bellatrix or for me."
Her eyes snapped away from the window so quickly she felt the pounding reawaken in her temples. She had not heard anyone broach her room. "What do you mean by that?" He does look a bit like a bat, she mused, moves like one too.
"I know you are not a common dunderhead, or has your careless nature and unlikely occupation given you brain damage. Doubtless, the Ministry wouldn't notice. I'm certain your position is quite safe."
The jibe failed to raise Tonks' hackles. She was too deep in self-loathing and shame to feel the burn of Snape's words. She simply watched him, waiting.
"Think, Miss Tonks. How would time have possibly been longer for us than for the rest of the world - wizarding and Muggle?"
She didn't wish to think, she decided silently. Her head still ached despite her liberal use of Madame Pomfrey's numerous remedies. Besides, Snape seemed in a mood to talk, she just needed to wait him out.
"Have you mastered the art of sleeping with your eyes open?"
Tonks snorted and rolled her eyes.
"Spit it out already. I know you want to. Go ahead and amaze me with my own stupidity."
"Bellatrix is in possession of a time turner."
Tonks drew her forehead into furrows. "But those are restricted."
"Deatheaters are not particularly known for their obeyance of the laws."
"True. But…" Tonks probed her memory, trying to make sense of it all. "How far back did she turn time?"
Lightning raced across the sky, throwing deep shadows across the room. "Twenty-five days."
Tonks' eyes widened at the implication. "So long?"
"She had every intention of extending your incarceration even more. So long as she was able to keep your captivity a secret from the Dark Lord's knowledge, she thought she could have all the time she might need to extract the information she knew you possessed.. When I was certain we had returned to the proper time, I extracted you from her care."
Tonks nodded slowly. "Why are you telling me this? Why did you come up here? I would have thought you would give the Order your report and leave it to them to tell me." She crossed her arms over her chest as much due to the chill the thunderstorm had brought into the house as to attitude.
"It was my intent to do precisely that. However, it has become clear to me that the other Order members are far more likely to coddle you into a stupor than relay that knowledge which would do your mind the most benefit."
"Then tell me. Everything."
"You experienced it all. Is your memory so poor that you have forgotten the details of your ordeal already?"
"I seem to have been unconscious during a great deal of the duration. You, however, were awake and attentive." Tonks would have continued had the door not opened to admit Remus, cleaner than he had been and a bit damp around the edges.
Remus' gaze settled momentarily on the man who occupied his chair before he slowly lowered himself to the edge of the bed - being careful not to jostle Tonks in the process.
"We could always have the Order meeting in here," she offered. "That way I could be at the assembly with the rest of you."
Remus' eyes met Snape's. "Or you could remain resting in your bed while we have the meeting downstairs."
"But I want to hear Snape's report. I'm a fellow member of the Order, I've every right to hear it."
Snape chose that moment to speak up. "Should you insist in being at the meeting, I will insist on postponing my report."
"That's not fair," she exclaimed in aggravation.
"After your most recent experiences, I would imagine you have already learned that fairness does not always exist in great proportions."
"Why are you doing this?"
Snape's face lost its aloofness for a moment. "If your mind has blocked the memories of part of your ordeal, it is for good reason. Why don't you tell us what you remember and I will decide if I will tell you the rest."
"I won't perform before an audience." She felt Remus shift beside her and leaned slightly into his warm frame, drawing what strength she could from his presence.
"You had no problem performing your metamorphing skills for the Weasley offspring."
She settled her glower on Snape. "That was entirely different."
"As is this."
(to be continued)