Disclaimer: Don't own it! So stay away from me with you're crazy suing plans!
A.N. Righty-oh! The fact that my school starts back in two weeks is depressing me so I'm just doing the innocent thing and taking it out on the poor characters in my fanfiction. Please read and review!
12 Grimwald Place was unnaturally quiet. Several members of the Order of the Phoenix were scattered around the dining table at which they held many a meeting. Almost all were subdued. They included Mundungus Fletcher, was snoring loudly beside Molly Weasley and his head lolled towards her shoulder. Molly inched her chair slightly further away from him with each snort.
Horace Slughorn, who was a recent recruit, since Hogwarts had been closed down and Snapes backstabbing he had reconsidered the offer of joining was sitting opposite Minerva McGonagall, whose full time services to the Order had become invaluable.
Fleur Delacour-Weasley was sitting in her usual seat, beside the one usually occupied by her new husband, Bill Weasley. Her job in the Order was to spread the word to trustworthy people from foreign countries.
Lastly, a rather desolate and frustrated looking Remus Lupin was sitting wishing beyond his wildest dreams that the members of the Order would come back informing them that it was all a false alarm and there was no need to panic. He was also wishing that he was out there actually doing something. Last night was the Full Moon and this particular morning he had been in no fit state to be on duty.
His dreams were partly answered. The door of the house burst open and in trouped Mad-Eye Moody and Arthur Weasley accompanied by his son Bill. Several other various members trudged in, each looking as depressed and weary as the next. Finally, bringing up the rear was Kingsley Shacklebolt with the person that everyone had been waiting for, Nymphadora Tonks.
One look at her ashen face, hair which had returned to the original mousey brown and smouldering grey eyes confirmed everything. They didn't need Mad-Eye's gruff yet oddly broken statement of, "Dark Mark and all," to tell them.
They were dead. Andromeda and Ted Tonks were dead.
At Moody's words the last remaining Tonks let out a moan that sounded so torn, so broken and just so… there were no words- that Remus Lupin jumped up from his seat, which he had remained in only in the event that he would collapse in anguish, and took the young woman in his arms.
Letting go of Kingsley, who she had been leaning on for support- or maybe he had been leaning on her as he almost fell into his seat at the table, burring his face in his hands- Tonks clung to Remus, afraid that should she let him go, he too would fall to the same demise as her beloved parents.
Looking at the Order she said in a strained voice that hurt Remus more than any curse or hex, she half whispered, "D'you mind if I sit this meeting out?" Taking a breath, she added for good measure, "Please?"
How could anyone refuse? "You go on ahead, dear," Molly said, voice at breaking point too, just watching the usually so happy and bubbly girl's distress at the loss. And it wasn't just her. The Tonks family was dear to them all.
However, behind the curtain, the portrait of Mrs Black cackled softly.
Helping Tonks up the stairs and into one of the bedrooms that was habitable, as those on Night Duty would sometimes sleep here instead of Apparating home, Moony didn't know what to expect from his girlfriend. She was an Auror, surrounded by death every day. But this- this was something different.
He made to leave the room, thinking she might want to be left alone, but a voice called him back.
"Wait! Please, stay with me." His back to her, he closed his eyes in torture. This was Nymphadora talking. Not Tonks. Not his Tonks at any rate.
Turning back to her and taking a seat on the bed next to her, an awkward silence enveloped them. What should he say? Sorry didn't seem to cover it and his mind was blank of any other words of condolence.
"It was them." Tonks blurted out suddenly. "Them! How? I mean- they- Mum- she- no!"
"Shhhh…" Lupin had no idea what to do, what to say. It turned out that Tonks wasn't finished. Staring straight ahead of her she continued, as if on auto-pilot.
"When I was little, Mum told me that I had two aunts, Bella and Cissy." Remus now realised who they were. "She always said that they were bad people and I was to stay away from them." She took a shaky breath and looked at Remus, her face distorted with pain.
"But they wouldn't stay away from her!" Tonks bit her lip, willing herself not to cry. Remus rubbed her back, the small gesture comforted her.
"You can cry, you know," he said softly. "Or out-yell Mrs Black down there, if you feel like it. And if you want to hit something, I'm always here." He thought it would be inappropriate to add that he would prefer that she'd hit something other than him.
For a few minutes, the couple sat there, and Nymphadora Tonks shed all the shields and masks. She cried for her parents and for other innocents killed throughout the war.
But she wasn't finished talking. Wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her robes she continued. "When Kingsley gave me the co-ordinates of where the latest Death Eater attack had been, I thought nothing of it. It was just Muggle Hunting. That's what they've been doing a lot lately."
Moony nodded that he knew and she went on.
"He also told me to not get into a fight until he brought back up, should there be anyone left." She gripped his arm tightly. "Then I arrived and- and-" Grounding her teeth together, she forced herself to continue, "I recognised the house straight off. I ran in to try and find them. I know that I wasn't supposed to go in unaccompanied, but I didn't care." Tonks choked on her next words. "They- Mum and Dad- were lying there. The house was a mess- they put up a good fight."
She closed her eyes, as though she was reliving the whole thing. "I heard her. Auntie Bella, my own flesh and blood, was speaking to me like I was a child."
"Awww, is wittle Nymphadora fwightened? Is wittle Nymphadora sad? Is wittle Nymphadora angwy?" Tonks repeated the words in such a fashion that it sounded as though Remus was part of a flashback. "Then she started talking normal, 'Oh, I forgot, you don't liked to be called Nymphadora anymore, do you? It's Tonks. Tonks, the oh-so-brave Auror. Tonks the blood-traitor! Nymphadora my dear, you didn't have to follow in your misguided mother and Mudblood father's footsteps. We accept half-bloods. We embrace them as our allies!" Tonks shuddered and Moony put his arms around her. Relaxing slightly, she sank into the embrace before continuing. Lupin didn't say a word.
"But Tonks, you've made your bed. Now, I suppose you're going to have to lie in it.' I couldn't tell where her voice was coming from. She used some sort of spell to make it sound like it was coming from all directions. I turned 'round and Aunt Cissy was standing there. She was so calm, so composed, she took me off guard. She disarmed me and took me by the chin and forced me up against a wall." She paused and after a moment added thoughtfully, "She never really struck me as being that strong. Anyway, Bellatrix came out of another room and came over, pointing her wand at my throat. I thought she was just going to kill me there and then, but she likes to gloat."
Tonks let out a bitter laugh. "Dad told me about all the bad guys in Muggle films. They always like to tell their victim their 'master-plan' before they kill him. Then something happens and the good guy saves the day. She's like the bad guy.
'Andromeda put up quite a fight when we arrived. So did that dirty Mudblood she married. It was almost impressive.'
'I might add that we expected more from you! We were very disappointed, what with you being an Auror. What sort of people are the Ministry employing these days? It's disgraceful!' That last bit was Narcissa, by the way."
Remus had listened contently up until now, but the way Tonks spoke about her aunts, if they were worthy of being called that, the contempt in her voice, he was starting to wonder if she just wanted them locked up in Azkaban. He got the feeling that she wanted them dead, or at least torture emotionally the way she had been.
"Tonks," he hesitated for a moment, wondering how to phrase his question, "How far are you prepared to go- to make them pay?"
She laughed sourly as she saw straight through his cushioned accusation. "You mean, am I going to do the professional thing? To tell you the truth Remus, I don't know." She sighed hopelessly. "I want them dead, or, at least, I keep telling myself I do." Tonks hiccupped softly as her tears abated for the meantime. "But I don't want to kill my own flesh and blood- I don't want to sink as low as them. Do you understand?" She gazed at him, as searching as Dumbledore could have, had he been alive.
All he could do was nod in reply. She carried on her reminiscing.
"I couldn't even tell you what she said," Tonks carried on after thinking about where she had left off. "All I remember was that I couldn't breathe and I just wished- I just wished that she'd finish me off, like… like Mum and Dad." Her voice gradually got smaller until it had diminished to an ashamed whisper.
After a few moments of silence, Nymphadora's tears spilled from her own eyes and cheeks onto the skin that was Remus's. Finally, accepting defeat, she curled up in his arms and fell into an unsettled, yet exhausted sleep.
Meanwhile, down stairs, the members of the Order where sitting in silence, apart from the odd sob or sniff. Kingsley Shacklebolt bashed his head off the table in a furious fashion, making everybody start and look at him.
"Shouldn't have sent her on her own!" He growled fiercely, seeming not only alarmed at the death of those who had been so close to them, but at his own ignorance. "Shouldn't have!"
Minerva blew her nose in a tartan handkerchief before asking in a quivering voice, "What happened Kingsley?"
Running a pink tongue over his dark lips, he was obliged to tell his part of the tale. "I sent young Tonks on ahead. We all know how Ted and Andie lived in a Muggle area- Ted being Muggleborn and all. Thought it was Death Eaters Muggle Hunting." He gave his head another undeserving wallop with the table.
"Scene was horrendous when we arrived," Mad-Eye continued, for the retired Auror had been pulled into the action once again to 'relive his youth'. "Messy. Not the bodies, mind you. Avada Kedavra by the looks." Molly winced, giving the distinct impression that the way the corpses had appeared was a little too much information.
"Malfoy, the woman, Narcissa, had Tonks by the neck." Kingsley kneaded his head while saying, "And that Lestrange woman had her at wand point. Two of You-Know-Who's greatest duellers against one Auror, however skilled she may be. No competition. If it had been me in those circumstances," he referred to Tonks' dead parents, "I'd not have put up a fight at all. Don't expect she did either."
He let out a hiss of air. "Mad-Eye stunned Malfoy. She fell back into Bellatrix and then…" He didn't finish the sentence. It was too depressing. Arthur finished the story in a flat voice.
"Bellatrix Disapparated with Narcissa Side-Long before Kingsley had a chance to finish the Disapparation wards."
The room lapse into an eerie silence until Mundungus, who had been oddly subdued during the entire episode muttered the words that echoed in all their hearts.
"Bless their souls an' may they rest in peace."
A.N. Okay, that was rather morbid. Believe it or not, I actually don't hate Andromeda, Ted or Tonks, even if I am killing them or putting them through considerable amounts of emotional pain.
Ah well, review and tell me what you think.