Title: Memento Mori
Author: Girl Who Writes
Word Count: 1272
Prompt: Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
Summary: Whatever love was to Nymphadora Tonks, it was being safe and happy, together – and redemptive.
Author's Note This story was written as part of rtchallenge at livejournal's February Ficathon.
Someone, possibly her Grandmother Tonks, used to read her fairy tales. The sort of fairy tales that started with the Princess being in trouble, and ended with a Prince fixing all her problems and they'd be happy together.
She'd never be a damsel in distress; that wasn't the sort of daughter Andromeda or Ted would end up with. Andromeda herself was not a girl to wait around until someone offered her a hand; if that was the case, she would've sat around waiting for Avery to marry her, or maybe the other Lestrange brother. No, Andromeda had packed her seventeen year old self up, and gone home to marry Ted the summer after Hogwarts.
Whatever love was to Nymphadora Tonks, it was being safe and happy, together – and redemptive. That's what she was sure of. That's what Remus Lupin was to her.
She never anticipated the nights she'd lie awake in bed, waiting for him to come home from whatever mission he was assigned. She'd listen to his old clock tick past the hour, tensed for whatever may come. She'd hear footsteps on the landing, and be hopeful the door would swing open and Remus would walk into the room and try not to wake her.
When she's alone, she counts the seconds, the minutes and the hours. The bed is cold, even when he finally does come home and climbs into bed next to her, wrapping his arms around her, kissing her cheek. And those few hours between his return and dawn are like a sanctuary in the dark because they're together, safe in the House of Black and happy.
He still leaves on missions, and sometimes counting the ticks of his old clock aren't enough, and she crawls from her bed and goes downstairs for tea with a splash of something to help her sleep a little.
And the first night Tonks descends into the kitchen, to find the light on and Fleur stirring a cup of tea, her long hair pinned up on her hair, and her face almost grey with fear.
"Tonks…" Fleur sees her, in Remus's shirt and her own bright blue pajama bottoms, her pink hair sticking up every which way. Tonks knows she has the same circles under her eyes, from nights of broken sleep and worry.
"They aren't back yet?" She pulls a bottle of Butterbeer from under the sink, because tea is his drink, and she doesn't think she could stand it if she was in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place drinking tea the night he doesn't come home.
"Non," Fleur twists some of her own hair around her finger, the diamond on her finger glinting in the kitchen light, and she wants to hug her because Fleur is barely out of school and so young; she shouldn't be awake past midnight, waiting to see if her husband of several months is alive or dead.
They sit in silence, lost in their own thoughts, and Tonks has counted the kitchen clock past three in the morning when the front door opens, and voices echo through the house. Moody, Bill, Remus – thank god…
Fleur's flinging herself at Bill the second he sets foot in the kitchen, and she finds herself moving to Remus's side, longing for comfort and that window before dawn that lets her live her fairy tale. But the sun is rising, and tonight is another raid. They crawl into bed together, and Remus tells her they're getting closer, they've almost got it.
The next night, she sits with Fleur in the kitchen, and they talk. Fleur is scared but determined, and Tonks admires that about her, really. She would've buggered all this up at Fleur's age, but the French girl is all grace and wit about everything she does, and Tonks wonders if it's because Fleur is French or part Veela or just who she is.
A week passes by and between work and the Order, she always finds herself sitting in the kitchen with Fleur when midnight passes. She stops counting minutes under her breath, but faces the doorway and they both tend to freeze in the middle of conversation to hear if they've come home.
Fleur makes them both cups of tea as she recalls her memories of meeting Bill, laughing and smiling, and looking happier than she has since this mysterious nighttime mission became active.
They bring home Charlie's body that night, victim of a cutting spell. Remus's face is grim and sympathetic as she stares at her best friend, lying on the kitchen table, his mouth twisted in pain and his skin the whitest she's ever seen. Last she heard he was still in Romania, and she kneels in the bathroom, and cries into the bathmat while Molly screams for her son in the kitchen. Sometime before the sun peaks in the window, Remus joins her in the bathroom, and they lean against the wall, her head on his chest, his hand tangled in her hair and his shirt soaked in her best friend's blood.
Tonks pours pumpkin juice, and tells Fleur everything she can about Charlie at school. Her stories are infinite because seven years is the best part of a century and the longest time she's spent doing any one thing. They both end up crying into their drinks, and no one comes home dead this time.
The third drink is firewhiskey, and Fleur makes a fine drinking companion, her accent light when she's drinking but thicker when she's crying. People she knows from Gringotts have been murdered, and, Lolita Blotts, daughter of the bookshop owner and one of Tonks school friends was found dead in the shop today. No one has found the rest of the family yet.
Half way through the bottle, and twenty minutes into a complicated card game (gambling for a block of Honeydukes Molly had hidden, one of Fleur's enamel hairclips and nine sickles), a note flies from the fireplace, Moody's scrawl marking the page.
Harry, Hermione and Ron, who've been hunting Horcruxes, are in trouble, and they've gone after them. They finish the bottle, eat the chocolate and Tonks lengthens her hair for Fleur to braid because it does something with her hands. Tonks charms a pair of boots by the door to tap dance, and they fall against each other laughing, until they realize that Charlie taught Tonks that spell and they're Charlie's boots. Then they cry and laugh some more, and Tonks goes back to counting minutes while Fleur bites her nails.
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
Being a widow becomes Fleur. Her hair is pulled into a bun, and she looks lovely in black. There are pearls and a little veil, and Tonks thinks she saw a doll like Fleur once. She dabs her eyes with the lace hanky, and Tonks apparates away from the funeral because she's sick of them being for the Weasleys. And because Fleur won't have any reason to spend midnights in the kitchen anymore.
She goes home to Remus, who is in bed, sleeping. She drops a kiss on his cheek and peels off her dress robes. His left eye has virtually been torn away, and he'll walk with a cane for the rest of his life. And he assures her that he understands if she walks away from the old, poor, dangerous werewolf now, and she slaps him for suggesting she's that shallow, and cries because she hates seeing him hurting this much.
He's her hero.
And when she takes his place, his shifts, he's safe, healing at Grimmauld Place. He sits in the library with a cup of tea and a book, and compulsively checks his watch.