-1Summary: Her death hits him harder than it should. They have only ever been friends, after all. Charlie, Tonks, and the aftermath of war. Oneshot.

Disclaimer: I definitely do not own them.

A/N: For once, I'm not going to bore you with the entire history of a story. Just let me know what you think, yeah? Oh, and download "Over My Shoulder" by Mika. I was listening to it on repeat while I was writing.

--

Her hair is red and the sting of tears is more abrupt than it was with his little brother.

Charlie stops suddenly in the middle of the Great Hall, astounded by the fact that he didn't notice her absence five minutes ago. Now, it is screaming at him, and he hastily averts his eyes to the spot right next to her, hoping that it will be empty.

Instead, Remus fills the space beside Tonks, looking more peaceful than he ever has in the few short years that Charlie has known him. The haunted, almost gaunt expression of misplaced guilt that usually masks his handsome features is no longer present.

A brick hits him in the gut, and he wants to run back to his family and deal with his grief as a unit.

But his feet betray him, and his eyes stray back to her, and he finds it difficult to breathe in the suffocating stench of death that surrounds him. Wiping roughly at his eyes, he takes a deep breath and grabs for his wand.

His hands are shaking so badly he can hardly hold it steady. Were she really here, she would be mocking him for his erratic behavior; the two of them are known for being steady and collected in combat. Charliehas scars, certainly, and he knows that she has just as many marks, even though he has never been given the privilege of seeing them.

Tears slide down his cheeks and he ignores them, focusing all of his energy into steadying his hand enough to fight in the next battle. If Fred wasn't enough motivation to defeat every Death Eater that ever walked the Earth, Tonks certainly is.

He doesn't want to think about the realization too much. All he knows for sure is that he cannot let her down.

--

Her hair is blonde and she is alone for the first time all evening. With a determination he typically possesses only when it comes to his job, Charlie walks around the dance floor toward her and smiles when she remains oblivious to his presence.

"Would you care to dance?" he asks, managing to keep a straight face despite the overly-formal tone of his voice. Tonks glances up from the couples she has been watching on the dance floor and smirks.

"Clearly, you don't have much respect for your toes," she comments. He holds out his hand and the spark in her eyes shifts just slightly. Tilting her head to the side, she stands in a surprisingly graceful manner and places her hand in his. "I won't apologize for the bruises later."

"I like it a little rough," he replies, dodging the smack she aims at his shoulder and guiding her into the throng of swaying couples. When he finds a clear spot, he pulls her to him and rests his left hand on her waist, carefully securing her left hand in his right.

The cold press of her wedding ring is an unwanted reminder that he can't pull her as close as he wants to, and he sighs. Tonks looks up at him curiously. "You are allowed to smile at your brother's wedding, you know. It's a happy occasion."

He laughs dryly. "Sort of depressing, if you ask me. Seems like everyone is paired up with someone, even if they didn't actually come with a mate."

"Need I remind you that you are, in fact, dancing with someone?" she teases. Charlie glares at her playfully, his ears turning a bright shade of red, and Tonks lets out a laugh. She opens her mouth, tilts her head back, and really laughs. He hasn't heard the sound in such a long time that it nearly stops his heart.

Once he is sure that his pulse is still steady, he squeezes her hand gently. Tonks rests her head on his shoulder as the speed of the song slows, and their waltz becomes a sway. It only takes a moment for her to squeeze his hand back, but as her ring digs into his palm he almost wishes she hadn't bothered.

--

Her hair is gray and he hasn't seen her in months. At first, he doesn't quite recognize her, because her eyes are underlined with dark circles and her usual spark is all but gone. Charlie rests a hand on her shoulder and grabs her wrists when she spins around to keep her from hexing him.

The very fact that he is able to catch her off guard has him worried. Even before she became an Auror and despite her clumsiness, she was always aware of what was going on around her. He has never seen her this distracted.

"Bloody hell!" she shouts, trying to wriggle out of his grasp. "Charlie, let go of me."

"Tell me what's on your mind first," he replies. Tonks narrows her eyes at him, and a familiar flame dances in her eyes.

"Sod off. I have a job to do."

Charlie takes a step closer to her, pressing her against the wall of the Burrow. He stares down at her seriously and he feels her shudder at the contact.

A lengthy silence fills the small space between them until Tonks chokes out a sound that is halfway between a laugh and a sob. She relaxes slightly in his grasp and he steps back from her again, but he keeps his hold on her arms. Charlie has learned better than to set an angry animal free from its restraints.

"It's good to see you, Nymph," he murmurs, scanning her face. Her gaze flickers to his and he holds it, more than aware of the tension between them. She seems to deflate even more at the words, if that is even possible, and he wonders what could possibly be so awful as to dim her light so significantly.

"Wotcher, Charlie," she returns, reaching to hug him. He lets go of her arms, content with how calm she seems, and wraps his arms tightly around her waist.

"What's on your mind?" He squeezes her once more and then pulls back so that he can see her again. She stares at a point just past his shoulder, keeping her hands on his upper arms, and he waits patiently for her response.

"I assume you heard about Sirius," she begins. Charlie nods, though he can tell that she isn't waiting for a response. "I reckon that's where it started, though he has all sorts of ridiculous reasons as to why the whole thing is an awful idea, and I don't know how I managed to pick someone so bloody stubborn."

The sudden shift in topic confuses him, and his expression must show as much, because when she looks up at him, she smiles weakly. "I think you were smart not to fall in love, Charlie."

He offers her a grin in response, but the irony of her words is hardly lost on him.

--

Her hair is pink and she lights up at the sight of him. She runs at him as soon as his sister is done hugging him, and he laughs as she trips on the umbrella stand before he catches her and spins her around in the confined space of the entryway.

Kissing her cheek, he sets her down and runs his hand over her hair curiously. "Pink today? What ever happened to your love of turquoise?"

Tonks furrows her brow a moment, and Charlie smiles when her hair lengthens to a bob and changes to a bright, bubbly turquoise color. "Better?"

"Easier to play with, at any rate," he offers, reaching up to tug at one of the strands. Rolling her eyes, she swats his hand away from her and laughs softly, grabbing his arm to drag him further into the house. It takes him approximately five seconds to realize that she is the brightest thing in the dark hallway, and he shudders at the realization of how awful Sirius' childhood really must have been.

"We have to be quiet," she tells him in a whisper, nodding toward two black curtains hanging on the wall. "If we make too much noise, Sirius' mum starts screaming about how we're letting filth into 'The Noble House of Black.' It's bollocks, but it seems like I'm always setting her off."

"I'm sure Mum loves that," he replies, chuckling. Tonks offers him a glare over her shoulder and he shrugs, smirking slightly. "I'll take that as a yes, then…"

She turns abruptly and smacks him in the stomach, prompting a muted shout from him. He glances at the covered portrait and then glares at his long-time friend, torn between making noise just to see if she's pulling his leg and dragging her upstairs so that he can greet her properly.

Tonks makes the decision for him, once again grabbing his arm and dragging him up the stairs to the study on the second floor. For a moment, he thinks she might have the same idea as him, but then she turns and her eyes are serious as she stares at him.

"It's bad, Charlie," she murmurs. He doesn't have to ask what she is referring to, so he simply nods once in understanding and shoves his hands into his pockets. "I don't think I've ever seen Moody so stressed, and Dumbledore doesn't seem nearly as confident as he was over the summer."

"How's Harry doing?"

"I've no idea," she replies honestly. "Hermione used to write once a week to keep us updated, but now that he has Occlumency lessons with Snape…"

Charlie leans against the wall and folds his arms across his chest. "What has Snape said?"

"Nothing. He just keeps repeating that Harry refuses to practice, and I've got to admit, I'm scared of what might happen if he doesn't start taking is lessons seriously," she frets. As she talks, she gets more and more frantic until she is pacing up and down the length of the study, surprisingly steady even as she picks up speed.

"Nymph," he calls. Tonks doesn't appear to hear him, as she continues ranting and pacing, and he brusquely walks forward and grabs her arms, stopping her in front of him. Her eyes widen slightly. "Nymph," he repeats, softly. "You're going to make yourself sick with worry."

"That's exactly what Molly said," she whispers.

"She would know," he replies, smiling. "Mum is the master of working herself up."

Tonks returns his smile. For a moment, they just stand there quietly, gaining strength from each other. Charlie sighs after a bit and pulls her into another hug, tucking her head under his chin and rubbing circles on her back with his hand. "You don't have to be the voice of optimism all the time, you know."

"I missed you," she replies. He chokes on the words and kisses the top of her head in response. Thankfully, from her position, his ears are not visible.

--

Her hair is brown and it is soft between his fingers. Charlie kisses her again, tilting her head back to find a better angle, and he carefully drags her mouth open with his. Tonks shudders and gasps against him. When his tongue brushes hers, he presses her against the wall and steadies himself by putting one hand against the stone.

"Charlie," she breathes, breaking away from the kiss. He moves his mouth to her neck, pushing her hair behind her shoulder to gain better access, and she tilts her head back to accommodate him as well. "What are we doing?"

At this, he pulls away from her completely and raises an eyebrow. "I thought we were snogging," he says sarcastically, earning a rough smack in the shoulder. She narrows her eyes at him and he grins, twirling a piece of her hair between his fingers. "Do we have to define it right now?"

She bites her bottom lip and furrows her brow slightly. The expression is so adorable that he can't help but press his mouth to hers for the third time that evening, tugging at her tie to pull her closer to him. Tonks wraps her arms around his neck, threading her fingers into the hair at the base of his neck. Charlie slides his hand down to the curve of her hip and squeezes her body gently in response. The action pulls her even closer to him, and she breaks away laughing as she trips over her own shoes.

It doesn't take much for him to dissolve into hysterics along with her as she tries to right herself and ends up falling against him completely. He wraps his arms around her tightly and it isn't until she looks up at him again that the seriousness of the moment hits him. He is kissing - no, snogging - his best friend.

"Bloody hell, you're beautiful," he murmurs. She smiles brightly at the declaration, causing his ears to turn an awful shade of Weasley red. Her hands skate across his ears as she cups his face in her hands, and the burn only intensifies.

"What are we doing, Charlie?" she repeats.

For the first time in over three years, he has no idea what the girl in his arms wants to hear from him. This problem is the most likely explanation for his sudden embarrassment, but when the silence between them stretches for too long, he sighs and drops his forehead against hers.

"I don't know, Nymph," he says honestly. Tonks nods and tilts her mouth toward his. Charlie doesn't hesitate to meet her halfway, and the next time they come up for air, he feels like crying for how awful his timing is. "I leave for Romania next week."

"Auror training starts a few days after graduation," she whispers, once again stroking the hair at the base of his neck. He sighs and kisses her once more before pulling away from her completely.

She holds his hand as he walks her back to her common room, though he is so focused on the fact that his prefect badge will no longer give him these privileges in two days that he can't even appreciate the contact.

--

Her hair is green and she barrels into him as he leaves his compartment to find his brother. She falls flat on her bottom and he does a double-take when he notices how bright her hair is. Subconsciously, he reaches up to touch his own hair, and he wonders if his mum just never told him that some children have oddly-colored hair.

Charlie offers the girl his free hand, keeping the other firmly on his head. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah," she says, accepting his help and standing up rather awkwardly. "I'm sorry I ran you over like that."

"That's okay," he tells her. "What's your name?"

"Tonks," she replies with a smile.

"Just Tonks?" he asks, amazed at how a girl with green hair could get any weirder. She rolls her eyes and sighs heavily, as though she has had to answer this question many times.

"My parents named me Nymphadora, but I think that's an awful name and my last name is Tonks, which suits me better anyway. So I normally just tell people to call me Tonks."

"Oh." He nods. "I'm Charlie Weasley."

"Oh! I know you!" She smiles in excitement. "Well, sort of! My parents know your parents! I didn't know you were my age!"

His ears flame at the realization that his mum and dad talk about him, though he really shouldn't be surprised. Bill said that a lot of the kids he met at Hogwarts knew him because of mum and dad. Charlie nods again and tries to change the subject to something that isn't so focused on him. "Is your hair always that color?"

She doesn't miss a beat. "No," she says, shaking her head. "It changes a lot, but I'm not very good at controlling it yet. My mum says I'll be able to change other things soon, like my nose and my eyes, but I have to learn how to control my magic before I can try that," she explains.

"I wish I could change my hair color," he grumbles, tugging at the awful red strands. Tonks tilts her head to the side and smiles again, shrugging slightly.

"Your hair is nice," she tells him. "Red is one of my favorite colors."

His stomach churns at the words, but it isn't an altogether unpleasant feeling, and he suddenly wishes he had listened when Bill started giving him advice about girls while they were packing their trunks. He really isn't prepared for somebody like Nymphadora Tonks.