For Xan, who made me love this pairing even more than I did already. Happy Christmas!

The Perfect Card

It had taken her a while to find the perfect card for Charlie. What can you send to the ex-boyfriend whom you're still madly in love with, whom you still cry for at nights now and again, whom you miss so much sometimes that it hurts? Especially when you have a pretty shrewd suspicion that he feels the same way about you.

Now, Tonks sat on her bed, dipped her quill in the ink and began to write.

Dear Charlie,

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! And a belated happy birthday too, because I seem to have forgotten that yet again. Sorry…

I miss you. I keep looking round corners expecting to see you there, and I think I hear your voice at least once a day in the street or at work. I met your Mum and the twins and Ron and Ginny in Diagon Alley the day before yesterday, and went home and cried because Fred and George look enough like you (or enough like you used to look when we were younger anyway) to make me miss you even more. I saw your Dad at work last week, and he said you were staying in Romania for Christmas. I wish you were coming home. I wish I could see you. Perhaps it's just as well that I can't.

Because what we had was good and special and wonderful, but it just wasn't enough, was it? You loved me, but you loved the idea of dragons more, and I can't complain because I wanted to be an Auror more than I wanted you. And I totally love what I am doing – even the stealth training which I am truly terrible at (don't laugh) – and it is the right thing for me. As dragons are the right thing for you…

I just wish the right things could somehow both have happened in England, or Romania, or – hell – Outer Mongolia for all I care as long as we could be together.

I miss you Charlie. I love you. I wish we could be together.

Your Dorie.

As Tonks re-read the card, her mother's voice called up the stairs.

"Nymphadora! Tea in five minutes!"

"Okay Mum!"

Tonks sighed and looked at the couple on the front of the card, walking hand in hand in the snow. The boy had reddish hair, and (because of her Metamorphmagus abilities) the blonde girl could have been Tonks herself. Abruptly, Tonks shook herself, pulled out her wand and set the card alight, dropping it into the waste paper basket just in time to stop it igniting her bedcover.

She pulled a second card out from her bag, and smiled. It really was the perfect card for Charlie, with a dragon on the front wreathed in tinsel and wearing a Santa hat. She picked up her quill again and began to write.

Dear Charlie,

I missed your birthday again, so I owe you a drink or two next time we meet. Hope it was a good one.

I saw your Dad at work last week, and he said you love working with the dragons and your new life in Romania so much you aren't coming home for Christmas. I bet your Mum loves that!

I am really enjoying Auror training, though I failed the stealth and tracking test last week spectacularly. (You would have laughed at the mess I made of it.)

I hope the dragons continue to treat you well!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Love, Tonks

"Nymphadora!" Andromeda's voice called up the stairs again, and Tonks hastily stuffed the perfect card into an envelope.

"Coming Mum!" she called back.