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The Augurey Cries at Midnight
The bastard went through with it. He actually went through with it. Somehow, even with all the talking, all the planning, she somehow believed he wouldn't be able to bring himself to do it.
Tonks takes a quick drag of her cigarette and inhales deeply. As she exhales, she looks around the room of the dingy Muggle roadside inn. Until the war is over, this room is their sanctuary, a place where they can escape from their duties, both Order and Death Eater, and recharge, refuel, possibly even revive before they go out into the horrors of war again. A place where information can be exchanged in secret.
It has been set up carefully. The Headmaster did most of the work himself. There are plenty of first aid kits, extra clothes and food. He arranged a mini-potions lab by magically expanding the closet, stocked with all the ingredients they could ever need.
Dumbledore even left a peace offering for them: a packet of cigarettes that never emptied, so that they won't have to waste money on fags. His way of thanking them for doing exactly as he asked, even when neither one of them wanted to follow the instructions.
She stands up and walks to the window, pushing the curtain back slightly, just enough so she can peer out. No sign of him. Frustration pours through her as she goes to sit on the edge of the bed, picking up the television remote. She flips through the channels on the telly nervously as she waits, not actually watching or even seeing what's in front of her. The motion of repeatedly pressing buttons on the remote help her focus.
Tonks has never been more scared than she is right now. Her entire body is tense and the toe of her foot is frantically tapping the ground. A shaking hand stubs out her cigarette and using wandless magic, she summons the never-ending pack.
There are only seven cigarettes left. When she entered the room, after telling Remus she had to go to the Ministry, the pack was full. Somehow, she has smoked thirteen cigarettes waiting for him in this grimy room. She is where they agreed she would be, ready to meet him, to confirm that everything went according to plan, before going on their separate ways again. And now, there is nothing to do but wait.
Where the fuck is Snape? Where the fuck is he?
Three hours ago he sent his Patronus, a grim looking Augurey, telling her that he was on his way. Three fucking hours ago.
Maybe the Dark Lord ended up killing him, Tonks thinks as she lights the fag. They knew that was a possibility. She can just picture the Dark Lord's displeasure, learning that Snape killed Dumbledore instead of Draco. The bastard would be able to kill Snape without a thought.
Inhaling, she thinks of a hundred different scenarios explaining why he wasn't here, where he was supposed to be. All of them end in the same way - with Snape dead. It doesn't matter how he died if Snape's dead. If Snape was killed, if he wasn't there on the inside, getting her the information they needed, the wizarding world was fucked.
End of story.
If he doesn't show up in the next ten minutes, she is leaving. Fuck the plan. For a night that had every single detail planned and accounted for, nothing seems to be going right. She doesn't even want to think about what she has let herself into with her 'outburst' in the Hospital Wing. Now Remus wants to 'talk.' Fuck. That certainly wasn't part of any plan.
The outburst was supposed to be the final nail in the coffin. A way to make Remus so uncomfortable that he would stay away from her at all costs. That way, over this upcoming summer, when Tonks would become more and more friendly with the golden trio, Remus wouldn't interfere.
Up until then, everything with Remus had worked perfectly. In public, she wore her hair in a plain, mousy brown style and told anyone who could listen that she was having issues with morphing. They all thought it was her natural colour. They were wrong.
The Patronus helped cement the idea that she was pining away for Remus Lupin. Even the so-called expert in Patronuses had no idea that a Metamorph's Patronus could change, just like the Metamorph. If Tonks wanted her Patronus to be a chameleon, it was a chameleon. If she wanted her Patronus to be a werewolf, like she had for the last ten months, it was a werewolf.
Everyone in the Order thought she was love sick, weak, unhinged even. They all underestimated her. No one had the slightest idea that she has been working secretly with Dumbledore and Snape for the past ten months. Which is exactly what Dumbledore wanted.
There are footsteps outside the room as she puts out her cigarette in the almost-full ashtray. Instinctively, she stands, holding out her wand, ready for anything, even though she desperately hopes that Snape is finally here.
The door opens and Tonks relaxes ever so slightly, knowing it is him. The door is charmed so that only she and Snape can enter. Not even housekeeping is able to, a move the cleaners protested until Tonks started bribing the manager.
With an authoritative thud, the door closes behind him. She stares at him only for a moment before lowering her arm and stating, "You're not dead." She hopes the relief in her voice isn't obvious.
"And you're observant as ever," Snape says dryly, taking off his cloak and placing it over the back of the arm chair.
He takes a step towards her, and there's an expression on his face that she can't read. Tonks is suddenly overwhelmed by an anger that surprises, shocks, and scares her. Without thinking, she punches Snape in the face.
The suddenness of the move causes him to stagger for just a moment. He reaches for his wand and his eyes narrow, staring her down.
Tonks glares right back, refusing to be intimidated by the Potions Master. The question remains unasked, so she answers it for him. Pointing at him accusingly, she says angrily, "That's for killing Dumbledore."
"A warning would have been appreciated, Nymphadora," says Snape archly, rubbing his jaw. "I wasn't aware that your right hook was more accurate than your stunning spells."
"Fuck you," spats Tonks. She wants to shake the hurt off her knuckles. But she refuses to show weakness in front of him. Turning, she rubs her hand, hoping he won't see. "Fuck you."
"Is Draco where he's supposed to be?" she asks, turning back to him.
"Yes," Snape says shortly. "He's with Narcissa. They're in hiding with some other Death Eaters."
Tonks is silent for a moment, thinking about the complete patsy that her cousin is. Why couldn't he have just accepted Dumbledore's offer to go into hiding? Maybe, just maybe the Headmaster might be alive then.
She turns to reach for a cigarette, but Snape grabs her by the wrist and brings her in close. In her ear, he whispers, "I'm going to take a shower. I expect you to be naked by the time I get out, understand?"
Tonks jerks her wrist away from his grip and doesn't look at him as he walks into the bathroom. Once the door closes, she flops back onto the bed and reaches for the packet. Fuck him. Tonks groans inwardly, as she lights another cigarette, knowing full well that that is exactly what she will be doing in a few minutes.
They don't have sex often. This will be the seventh time in the past ten months. Snape only initiates sex when his frustration and anger has reached a point where he needs some type of release.
So he takes it out on her.
She doesn't understand the power Snape has over her. Tonks can pinpoint the exact moment it started, her sixth year, when he found her, half dead, half alive in the girl's toilet on the first floor. Tired of always being the butt of another Gryffindor prank, the leers of boys who thought that a Metamorph was sexual playground, and parents she was convinced hated her, she tried to take her life using a Slicing Hex on her wrist, but bloody Moaning Myrtle told on her.
The look of disappointed and anger on Snape's face after he blasted down the stall door will be etched in her mind for the rest of her life. His disdain for her as he stopped the bleeding and carried her up to the Hospital Wing, like she wasn't even a life worth saving. She was just another Slytherin who tried to commit suicide. She wasn't the first and she certainly wouldn't be the last.
That summer, after sixth year, Tonks ended up in a Muggle institution. It was the first thing her parents agreed on in almost ten years since their divorce. Tonks was sure her mother agreed so quickly because she didn't want the shame of having her daughter committed to St. Mungos. Had to keep up appearances, after all. Old Black family habits die hard.
Her fascination, devotion, obsession with Snape started that summer. He came to the crazy house, as she called it, five times. Her mother only visited once.
More importantly, he seemed to take an interest in her. He started asking questions about her future. In Tonks' adolescent mind, he cared. That first visit, she offhandedly mentioned how cool it would to be an Auror and he told her it was a worthwhile career. That was the moment her path was set.
They made a plan for her studies. She was already in all the necessary classes, but some of her grades weren't up to snuff. He helped her decide which areas needed the most attention.
The more interested she seemed in the plan, in her future, the less disappointed he looked. Tonks suddenly wanted to do anything to please him. She would do anything for some scrap of praise, something that told her that he noticed her, that he was satisfied with her effort. She remembered the look of disappointment on his face when he carried her to the Hospital Wing and decided to do anything she could to never see that look again. And soon after classes resumed, she realized how much she wanted not just his praise, but him.
After graduation, she let him know that she was his for the taking.
Much to her disappointment, Snape declined, but they did become uneasy acquaintances. During her first year of Auror training, she was always surprised when he accepted her invitations for a drink at the Three Broomsticks.
But it wasn't long before they did start shagging. The first time was the night Harry Potter foiled the Dark Lord from obtaining the Philosopher's Stone. What she didn't know then, but did now, was that Snape had no desire to see the Dark Lord return. He wanted him to just stay dead and out of everyone's life. The Dark Lord, even a vapor thin version of the Dark Lord, made Snape upset. And that night, in the gent's toilet of the Three Broomsticks, she helped relieve him of his frustrations.
The shower turns off and Tonks puts out her cigarette and starts undressing. As she gets underneath the covers, her nose crinkles in distaste, noticing the red and gold motif of the coverlet for the first time. No wonder the Headmaster specifically chose this inn. A reminder that she and Snape were to follow his orders, even after death.
Snape walks out of the bathroom naked, droplets of water still clinging to his skin. Tonks has to force herself not to stare as he places his clothes with his cloak on the armchair. Once under the covers, he reaches for her instantly.
His mouth is on hers and already he is demanding that she acquiesce. Her mouth opens and his tongue glides over hers. Arms wrap around each other so that there is no space between them. He is hard almost instantly and she throws back her head, feeling his teeth scrape across her neck.
Snape rests his body weight on her, one hand adjusting himself, the other tangled in her hair, pulling slightly. Once set inside her, he starts thrusting his hips at a furious pace. She knows this will be quick. Her eyes close tightly as she wraps her legs around his waist, pulling him deeper into her.
The act is over almost before it really even had the chance to begin. With a loud groan, Snape buries his head into her shoulder, muttering words that she doesn't understand but would pays galleons to hear.
Once he rolls off of her, Tonks reaches for the packet of cigarettes, matches and the ashtray on the nightstand. She places it between them. He takes one quickly and lights it using wandless magic. She uses a more traditional method of lighting a match. Tonks doesn't trust herself with spells involving fire. She is too clumsy that way.
Snape is on his back, his head propped up by two pillows. Tonks is leaning on her side, holding herself up by her elbow. They lay in silence for close to five minutes, not speaking, only smoking.
She studies him out of the corner of her eye. He looks absolutely exhausted, which she can understand, seeing that the digital clock is telling her that it is five in the morning.
Tonks wonders if she should say anything. The silence is suffocating, but what is there to talk about? They all knew how it would end when Snape told Dumbledore about the Unbreakable Vow. The Headmaster was adamant that Draco not be forced to kill. He was almost as adamant about keeping Snape alive. Which left one option. And one option only.
Deciding to interrupt the silence, she says, "I didn't think you'd go through with it."
"We all knew I had no choice," Snape replies quietly, without a trace of his usual arrogance. "I've had ten months to prepare myself."
"I know that, I just thought-"
Snape looks at her sharply and Tonks stops talking. "Albus and I made our peace, Nymphadora."
Silence again. It is maddening.
"I reckon Potter hates you more than the Dark Lord now," Tonks says, inhaling deeply. "If he finds you, I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to kill you."
"I could have killed Potter a dozen times last night if I wanted to," Snape says roughly, putting out his cigarette angrily in the ashtray.
"He doesn't see it that way," Tonks says, shrugging her shoulder. "He thinks you left him for the Dark Lord."
To his credit, Snape lets out a bark of a laugh at this, while he lights another cigarette. "So why not Stun him and take him directly to the Dark Lord?"
"Don't try to put Potter and logic together in the same thought, Snape," Tonks counters sarcastically. "It will hurt your brain too much."
"Clearly," Snape says dryly.
Another silence settles over them. It is not a comfortable silence. There is too much that needs to be said. She takes a breath. "Lupin had a Gryffindor moment."
Snape lets out a ring of smoke as he arches one eyebrow. "Don't tell me. He whisked you off on a white horse into the sunset."
"He wants to talk," Tonks says, letting each word roll off her tongue sluggishly. "He said he wants to talk while he held my hand."
"That didn't go as planned." Snape lets out a slow breath. He doesn't like it when things don't go as planned.
"No, it didn't," she says cynically. "And it's not like I can say no. I've no credibility if I tell him no."
"You'll just have to fuck him then, won't you?" he asks harshly.
Tonks looks at Snape in surprise. She has never heard him use that word before. It takes a moment to realize that she wants to hear him say it again.
"I could always pretend that I don't believe in sex until marriage," she suggests.
"Somehow, I doubt that the werewolf will believe that."
Tonks' eyebrows knit together. "Are you implying I'm a slag?" she demands.
"Why do you care what I think?" he asks.
"I don't," she fumes, turning so that she's lying on her back. "I don't give a fuck what you think about me."
She lights another cigarettes, cursing silently at herself. Tonks obsesses over what Snape thinks about her. They both know it.
"Maybe that's not what he wants to talk about." His voice is quiet as he ashes his cigarette.
Tonks inhales deeply and replays those words in his head. She wonders if he's jealous. They have been sleeping together, on and off, for almost five years. She runs her hand through her hair, which is in its natural state. Not the mousy brown that everyone in the Order thinks is her natural state, but a raven black. She wears her hair long, falling half-way down her back, letting the waves do what they want. Her natural hair is beautiful and Snape is the only one who has seen it since she graduated Hogwarts.
Propping herself on her elbow again, she decides to test her new theory. "We'll see," she shrugs, trying to sound casual. "Shagging him won't be the end of the world."
Snape looks away and Tonks' heart seems to leap into her throat. She triumphantly decides that her theory is right. But then she realizes that it could be that he simply doesn't want her with Lupin. He certainly never has cared before if she was with other blokes. Lupin is another story. They have a history that she has never fully understood.
"I'm going to his funeral," Snape announces suddenly.
Tonks' jaw drops in surprise. "Are you out of your fucking mind?"
"Do you know any other word of the English language besides 'fuck?'" he asks harshly.
"Fuck you," she retorts predictably, reveling at hearing him say that word again.
Snape sighs and takes the ashtray and rests it on his chest. One arm goes behind his head. "I need to see him laid to rest, Nymphadora," Snape says quietly. "I can watch from the Forbidden Forest. No one will even see me."
"Except for the Centaurs, who could tell someone that you are there," Tonks says pointedly.
Snape shakes his head. "The Centaurs are smarter than you give them credit for. I wouldn't be surprised if they realized that the Headmaster's death was a set-up."
Tonks reaches over and ashes her cigarette. A speck of ash lands on Snape's chest and Tonks carefully picks it up and puts it in the ashtray.
"Is the werewolf the only problem so far?" Snape asks. Tonks realizes that he is ready to talk shop and sits up, not bothering to cover herself. He reaches over and starts stroking her breast. Tonks would like nothing more than to just sit her and have him touch her, but she knows that's just a foolish dream.
"Greyback messed Bill Weasley up pretty good," she answers, not bothering to keep the accusatory tone out of her voice. "Why didn't you tell us he would be there?"
"Because I didn't know," Snape says, squeezing her nipple. "Will Weasley live?"
"Believe so," replies Tonks. "His face is fucked up, though."
"Flitwick?" Snape asks.
"Just a concussion," Tonks tells him. Snape's face relaxes a little. Perhaps he thought he had killed the Charms Professor.
Snape puts out his cigarette while he lets out a yawn. "After the funeral, find out what you can about Potter's plans…"
He trails off. She hates it when he does that because it usually means there is something being kept from her. "What?" Tonks demands.
Snape takes his hand away from her breast and runs it over his jaw. "This might work," he says slowly. "You and the werewolf might just work. Potter trusts him. He could be more willing to talk to you if the werewolf is there, holding your hand."
"But we didn't want Remus to know what I was asking Potter," protests Tonks.
"Nymphadora, think," he scolds. "Potter can go off and talk to the werewolf and then you can feed Miss Know-it-All the information. She'll trust you even more if you're with the werewolf."
"Course she will," says Tonks sourly, taking a puff of her fag. "Because we can giggle about girly things while the wizards do the real work."
Snape grabs her wrist. "Have I ever made you feel inferior because you're a witch?" he demands.
Tonks looks at him incredulously, thinking of the all the different ways they've shagged over the years and how many of them were demeaning for her. She thinks of the power he holds over her. And then she realizes that perhaps it doesn't matter to him that she's a witch. Maybe if she was a wizard it would be the same way. Maybe it was simply because of her, because she lets him have that power over her.
"No," she says finally, wondering if he can tell that she's lying. He doesn't seem to notice.
He massages his temple wearily. "In two weeks, drop the hint about Fletcher and the locket. Hopefully by then I'll have more information on the whereabouts of Ollivander."
"But Dumbledore doesn't think that Oll-"
"Dumbledore is dead," Snape says quickly. "I believe that Ollivander has needed information."
Back to the old argument. Dumbledore and Snape had different ideas on what the remaining four Horcruxes were. Snape believes the ones that remain are artifacts of the founders of Hogwarts. Dumbledore didn't think that the Dark Lord could get his hands on an artifact of his precious Gryffindor.
Tonks takes a deep breath, thinking of all the work that still has to be done. Snape needs to learn what the Horcruxes are and then the location of each one. He then needs to pass the information to her. She has the most difficult job of all. Passing the information to Potter without making it look like she's directing the search. It wouldn't be wise to appear to have too much information.
She glances at the clock again. Half past five. It will be time to leave soon. The Order might become suspicious otherwise.
"I'm going to sleep now," Snape announces. "We'll meet the day after the funeral. Early. Seven in the morning."
Her body seems to sigh. She's not a morning person. Especially after a night of drinking, which is what she assumes will happen after the funeral. But that is part of the rules. Snape sets the date and time. She obeys.
"That's fine," she says, standing up. Tonks picks up her clothes and starts dressing slowly. She knows he likes to watch her dress and undress.
Once fully clothed, she scrunches her face and concentrates on the mousy brown colour that she has grown used to. Perhaps, if she has to start sleeping with Remus, she could go back to pink again. The Order would believe it. It would make perfect sense to them. She 'got' her man and now she can morph again.
Snape looks her over one last time and carefully places the ashtray on the bedside table. He then turns over on his side, his back facing her. A moment later, the bedside table lamp is turned off, cloaking the room in darkness.
As her hand is on the door knob, she takes one last glance at him. She inhales and can smell smoke and sex and that particular scent that is only Snape. Her mind memorizes what he looks like, vulnerable, in bed. It is a memory she wants to last forever.
"You've done well, Nymphadora," he says lazily, still on his side, not looking at her.
Her eyes close, replaying the words he just spoke over in her head. With those words, he has once again bound her to his soul.
Even with the weight of the Headmaster's death on her shoulders, Tonks has never felt more exhilarated or more at peace. He is proud of her. She won't see that look, the look that has haunted her. Her eyes open and she takes a breath. She will do everything in her power never to see that look again.
Finally, she has to force herself to open the door of the room. "Thank you," she whispers as she steps into the hallway of the inn and closes the door firmly behind her.
Everything she has to sacrifice, friends, family, her very soul, is worth it, just for those four words. She files the words away in her memory, knowing she will replay them again and again. But now is not the time for indulgence, she thinks to herself as walks down the hall.
There is work to be done.