DISCLAIMER: I'm not JK Rowling, I just love her.
Tonks is my favourite character in Harry Potter, and Remus and Tonks are my favourite ship. I hope I've done them justice, even though there are only hints of that. This is, essentially, a story about grief. I hope you enjoy it.
It had taken her two days to wake up, and two minutes for her to realise she wished she were dead. For a while she lay in her bed and wondered what on Earth she was doing there, in this white, clean room quite the opposite of her bedroom. There were only a few minutes of confusion. Soon flashes of light and shouting and high, mad laughter were filling her mind. When she remembered vaguely what had happened at the ministry, she became filled with an urgent need to know what had occurred after she drew a blank. Moving her head she saw there was a healer in her room, sitting on the chair in front of her bed, reading The Daily Prophet. Idly, she scanned the headline, and the bottom fell out of her world.
It was shocking how two words could change her life so completely. The healers were surprised by how a woman with such serious dark-magic injuries who had been unconscious for nearly two days could cause as much noise as she did so soon after waking up.
First, she screamed. This made the healer in her room jump and drop the offending paper, rushing to her side. He was only a young man himself, probably in training, and he didn't quite know what to do with the pretty girl who was screaming and sobbing and shaking and pointing at where his paper had been. He ran down the corridor to find someone more qualified, and by the time he had got back she was hyperventilating, trying to struggle out of her bed still shaking and crying uncontrollably. The healer tried to calm her, but she was inconsolable, and by the time he had called for a sleeping draught, she had fainted clean away.
When she regained consciousness for the second time, it was the middle of the night and everything was dark. Her pain was raw and ragged and it was tearing holes in her chest as she sobbed for the man who was her cousin, the man who had become her friend. She cried loudly and messily; all gasping breaths and running nose and big, red splotches on her face. This continued for the rest of the night, until a ray of sunshine burst through the window, at counterpoint to the dark heap of girl inside. Tonks stared at it, uncomprehendingly. It didn't belong here, in the midst of all her grief and sorrow. She felt offended by its mere presence in her life. She twisted round to reach for her wand on the bedside table, her movements awkward due to the terrific pain in her ribs. They'd evidently been hit by something during the battle. With a flick, she closed the gap in the curtain, and then muttered something else under her breath to make sure no-one would come in and open them until she said so.
She didn't want to see the light just yet.
There was a point in crying when tears stopped being noisy and angry and demanding of your attention, and they just seeped out of the corners of your eyes onto the pillowcase, quiet and tired. Just like her. She knew that she was beginning to worry the healers – they had even sent a special man in to her yesterday who spoke in a gentle voice and told her that what she was feeling was 'normal.'
She wondered what they knew about her situation. She suspected very little, otherwise they wouldn't be telling her it was fucking 'normal'. Nothing about it was normal.
Her parents had come to visit her yesterday, as they had every other day, but she had pretended to be asleep, facing the wall. Her mother had sat stroking her hand and crying quietly, while she had listened to her Father reassure and comfort her, just like he always had done.
"The healers say she'll be fine. She's just... in shock, more than anything."
"I just can't believe it Ted. I don't understand why she didn't tell us. I could've, I would've..."
"We can't do anything now. We just have to let her know that we're here for her when she needs us."
Tonks thought that her Dad, at least, knew she was feigning sleep.
"You've got a visitor, Miss Tonks." The nervous looking healer who she had first seen poked his head around her door.
"Who is it?" She tried to act like she cared.
The young man now looked positively terrified. "Albus Dumbledore."
She couldn't keep the look of shock off her face. "Who?"
"Albus Dumbledore, Miss. The headmaster of – "
"Yes, yes! I know who he is." Tonks thought for a moment. "Don't let him in. Tell him I'm asleep."
A look of fear passed over The Healers face. "He told me to tell you... to tell you that he knows you're not asleep and you need to... to see someone sometime."
Tonks stared at him.
"And...Um... he'll be here in ab-about a minute." The young man ducked out from behind the door and vanished, leaving Tonks lying against her pillows, wondering what she was going to do.
In the end, she just closed her eyes and waited, hoping against hope that the greatest wizard of all time would find her too much trouble to bother with.
The crack of his apparition made her jump, slightly ruining the effect of her feigned sleep.
"Ah, good morning Miss. Tonks." He said pleasantly. She heard a chair scrape over the floor, and then a soft creak, as if Dumbledore had sat down on it. She ignored his words.
"It's a wonderful day, is it not? Your Healer tells me that you've charmed your windows shut. Terrible shame on a June morning. They come so rarely, don't you think?"
She continued to face the wall.
"Nymphadora Tonks." This time Dumbledore's voice was not light and conversational. He said her name in that way which made her stomach rise to her throat and then plummet to the bottom of her shoes. It would usually have made her panic, but today she was just angry. Angry and grieving and pissed off with her old headmaster using her first name.
"Don't call me that." She spat, still facing the wall.
"Why not?" He said this strangely, half way between angry and pitying.
"Because it's a Black name! Because someone called 'Nymphadora' sounds like they have an Aunt Bellatrix and an Uncle Lucius and a Cousin called Regulus!" She was shouting now, every little hurt of the past few days flying out of her mouth. "Because in the Black family people kill muggles and muggleborns and werewolves! Because the in the Black family people burn snakes on their arms to show that their certified nutters. Because," She turned to face Dumbledore. "Because in the Black family Aunts try and kill their sister's children and cousins... cousins kill cousins."
He looked at her then, very sadly and very kindly. "It's not your fault."
"Yeah, but it's hers! She's my Mother's sister. Her blood is my blood. Her family is my family. How different can I really be?"
Dumbledore sighed. "I really do seem to spend a disproportionate amount of my time explaining to people why they are not what other people make them. Hagrid is not a wizard-killing giant because his Mother was. Remus is not a cold-hearted murderer because the man that bit him was. You are not a Death Eater because your Aunt is." Dumbledore looked at her deeply. "We are not what we become because of other people."
Tonks pushed herself into a sitting position and smoothed back her hair, her lip quivering. "Then why do I feel like I killed him?"
"Because you were his friend. Because you cared about him."
"I wanted too... before – he was, so... I tried to save him, before. We both did – Remus did too. But he... he was just so lonely. It was like he didn't want saving." She burst into tears.
Wordlessly, soundlessly, Dumbledore came to stand beside her, and Tonks ended up sobbing into his beard. It didn't matter that he was her old headmaster, or the greatest man that ever lived; at that moment he was just someone who wanted to help her. "Nymphadora, don't blame yourself for what Sirius was. He spent too much time in Azkaban, too much time locked up inside his mind. You made him happy."
"That you were who you were. It proved something to him, I think. In that House – that house that he hated, you..." Dumbledore laughed sadly. "His exact words were that you 'stuck two fingers up at that family tree.'"
"He said that? Really? I never thought he liked me very much."
"He liked you. He liked you a lot. You were better for him than you think." Dumbledore patted her shoulder and moved to sit back down in the plastic-wood chair that was provided for visitors. Tonks rolled onto her side so that she faced him, still sniffing. Then, as if from nowhere, Dumbledore reached into a pocket of his robes and produced a bouquet of violets and those big, sunny Michaelmas daisies. When he handed them to Tonks she felt fresh tears prick her eyes. "Thank-thankyou, Sir."
"Oh no, these aren't from me. I am an old man and have become forgetful about the niceties of visiting people who are ill. These are from Remus." Dumbledore's eyes may have twinkled then.
Tonks felt an ache somewhere in her chest. That explained why it was those particular flowers. As she held them up to her nose she could smell summer and long, parched grass and sitting under the invisibility cloak outside Harry's house. "How is he?"
"I think that if he could lie in a darkened room and refuse the world then he would." Of all the things that anyone had said to her during her time with the curtains shut, that was what made her feel guiltiest. He had lost his last best friend, the last man who had accepted him when he was 11 years old and lonely. If she was hurting then how must he be feeling? What right had she to be lying in bed, refusing conversation in case it made her cry?
"Professor, do you think you could open my curtains for me please?"
Dumbledore smiled at her, much like he had when she was 17 and had got her acceptance letter for the auror-training programme. Proud. Pleased. As if she was doing a good thing.
She had his address on a crumpled piece of paper in her hand. Dumbledore had written it down for her, and she was eerily reminded of being informed of Grimmauld Place. A house filled with ghosts for her now, just as it was for her mother. It was in a shabby area of London, and by the time she got there it was raining. Whereas the last summer had been hot and sultry, this one was turning out to be a warm, wet washout. It was if the whole world was in mourning for a man that had slipped off the face of the earth a long time ago. The door was blue, or had been blue once, and the step was dirty. There were weeds growing between the paving slabs.
Tentatively she lifted up her right hand and layed it on the paintwork. It was almost as if she hoped he would hear her fingers, raw and sore from days of picking at the cuticles. When she began to knock, though, it was as if she would never stop, and she hammered on the door until her fists hurt and her skin was red and the rain had soaked straight through the cotton t-shirt dress she was wearing. When she realised he wasn't in or wasn't going to answer the door, she collapsed in upon herself and sank onto the doorstep, the stone cold and wet. She couldn't have said how long she sat there, her head on the door and her knees drawn up to her chest in the rain. She looked like a little girl who had got lost and gravitated to somewhere that felt like home. She couldn't have said whether or not she had cried, either, but she had done so much of that over the last few days it really didn't matter. Her feet squelched in her canvas shoes and a stream of water fell from the broken guttering onto her ankles.
That was how he found her nearly half an hour later, curled onto his doorstep like a tiny bird or a mouse. Her hair was brown and she looked drawn and thin and there was water or tears on her cheeks. She hadn't seen him yet – her eyes were shut – and he just stood and drank in the sight of her. When she did see him and his Tesco bags full of groceries she just hiccoughed and said; "I hope you've got teabags in there."
Thanks for making it to the end! I would love you to Review and tell me how to improve this, especially characterisation. Thankyou so much!