i.

They were the things she couldn't (wouldn't) remember afterward – the panic, the pain, the momentary triumphs that had turned to overall victory and were somehow supposed to colour everything now, the slow awakening to emptiness and blankness and denial.

And they were the things she wanted to remember and wanted to forget – Sirius's laughter and his… laughter, she thinks (he never cried), and his teasing, and the way he used to wink at her from across the table in her mum's kitchen, letting her in on jokes she didn't understand, and the way she used to sit in his lap as he and James talked in circles around her little girl's mind – she, wide-eyed and smiling as Sirius held her, grinning down at her occasionally and rumpling her hair, as he and James switched rapidly from bantering with each other, to badgering Remus (don't be such a swot, Moony; anyone'd think this from James you fancied that book!; though I daresay says Sirius he's got more of a chance with it than you've got with Evans), to teasing Peter until he was pink and stammering, and back to who-knows-what-else, but she remembered.

And she realised one day, wearily letting herself into her flat after a mostly tedious day at work: Remus remembers too. He had been there, occasionally, usually with his nose in a book, sometimes crying "Listen!" excitedly, good-naturedly ignoring Sirius's and James's rolling eyes and mimicking.

(She can never look at the old brown chaise in her parents' parlour without seeing Sirius dramatically collapsing upon it as he finishes a mocking recitation of several stanzas of Wilde's The Sphinx, Remus on the sofa opposite with his lips pursed as he tries to be offended through his laughter.)

She remembered once or thrice, when he'd sat across from her and her mum, sipping tea, looking serious and worn, and laughing a bit as he shook his head to himself and Sirius chattered glibly about things that were more serious than anyone wanted to admit then.

He remembered more than she – days and classes and holidays and meals, pranks and Quidditch and exams: he wanted to forget more than she – disasters and arguments and shacks-under-full-moons, pranks-gone-too-far and perceived betrayal.

And she was somehow set free and weighed-down by this realisation that someone else shared her memories and her love and her despair: she wondered later, as she stared at the same page of a book she'd opened what might have been hours ago and sipped tea that had long been cold, if Remus knew that she also remembered.

She saw him a few days later, looking frayed and tired as the Order sat talking strategy and she was nearly choking on the awkwardness permeating the air around her, going mad as everyone quickly broke into inane chatter when they realised someone had set out what had now become an extra chair, hating the way everyone avoided looking at where he would have sat. And at the end, as she gathered her things and stood, blankly staring at Sirius's old chair, he came over and led her out of the room, and Apparated with her back to her flat, pushed her down onto her sofa, and brought her some tea, saying, "Drink up."

She took it blindly, scalding her tongue on the first sip and she started to cry then, silently: he took the tea quickly and sat down next to her, saying softly, "I remember, love." She let out an audible sob, then, and he gathered her into his arms and in a way, she was seven again and in Sirius's arms, and she buried her face in the shoulder of Remus's coat and cried for what they had both lost and what they were both still clinging to.

ii.

It was odd, after that night. "You're smiling," Kingsley noted a few days later as they were headed to lunch, and Tonks thought wryly that she had always smiled Before, but no one thought to say anything when she stopped, only after she started again.

It was odd, because she'd been so stoic and numb and it wasn't her, and then suddenly she could laugh again and cry and she couldn't decide which one meant she was being knit back together and which one meant she was falling apart (Sirius had never cried and she wasn't certain if it was because he was too strong to cry or too weak).

It was odd, she thought one afternoon, because they were falling apart with one another, and they were being formed back into the wholeness of one another.