A/N: Hello there, after a quick Christmas oneshot I decided to get back into the R/T fandom, not least because of going to see DH pt.1 which I loved, even though the R/T scene could have been a little better. And it was that scene that basically got me wondering how must the R/T relationship look to other people who weren't as accepting or encouraging as I imagine Sirius and Molly to be or who aren't such a crazy fan as I am. Anyway, this was what came to mind. So, as I'm back in the fandom again and am writing a new multi-chapter, I'd really appreciate some feedback, thanks in advance =D.

Also this unbeta'd so all mistakes and discrepancies are mine alone.

Disclaimer: I wish I was J.K. Rowling. I'm not though, not even close, so please don't sue me.

Sanctuary

Tears fell and barriers crumbled and all was chaos. The Boy Who Lived stood amongst the carnage he had created. Following the disappearance of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange, Ministry members and reporters alike had taken all but a short few minutes to flood into the Atrium and Dumbledore had not wanted to expose Harry to all of that pandemonium. All of the probing and all of the questions didn't seem fair to Dumbledore, after Harry had battled for all he was worth, but had still lost Sirius. Apparating back to Hogwarts was out of the question as anti-Apparition charms were quickly placed around the Ministry, creating a veil designed to keep the Death Eaters still inside from getting out and escaping, and vice versa. Quickly Dumbledore ushered Harry away, ducking from questions, always giving the same, quiet reply,

"I will talk with you later, for now please let me escort Harry out."

Without knowing how it happened, Harry found himself back in the Department of Mysteries, faced with the arch that had consumed his Godfather's lifeless form. He felt the tears well up behind his eyes and forced himself to close them for a moment.

"I'm sorry to bring you back here, Harry," Dumbledore whispered gently, "but I think you can understand, I am responsible for each and every Order member being here and I cannot leave without making sure that, the majority of them at least, are alright. As soon as I've spoken to some people, we're going to Floo out, this is one of the only fireplaces they won't have shut down," he explained, nodding towards a nearby fireplace and Harry looked briefly into Dumbledore's eyes and felt a jab of anger in his stomach in a similar way he had all year, whilst Dumbledore was avoiding him. It was much the same as when Mr. Weasley had been attacked by Nagini; Harry wanted – no, needed – someone to blame and to vent his anger upon because surely it had to be someone's fault. But secretly, he knew. He knew the truth.

Harry felt Dumbledore lift his hand from his shoulder and heard him walk away. He did not open his eyes.

If Harry had tried harder to block Voldemort out of his head then none of this would have happened. He would never have sent Nagini to search the Department and then attack Mr. Weasley and he would never have been able to convince Harry that Sirius was here. How could Voldemort have found his godfather? Now he looked at it with hindsight, it was impossible. Dumbledore would never have betrayed them. Never.

"Harry!" he turned and forced his eyes to open as he heard the shout. Neville's round face appeared out of the mêlée and, although it was no longer bleeding, he was still clutching his obviously broken nose. Harry winced for him. "Are you alright?" Neville asked, still sounding rather as though he had a severe head cold. Harry inclined his head slightly. "The ubbers have been taken straight to Madam Pombrey, someone Flooed wib them," he tried to explain and Harry nodded his understanding. "Herbione and Ron will have to stay in the hospital wing but we think Ginny only has a broken ankle and Luna is okay," he said. Harry realised that he himself was uninjured – he had come close to death and been attacked by the Death Eaters but had no external signs to show for it. No physical pain whatsoever. But everyone else had, even Neville. And all of them would have been safely tucked up in bed right now if it weren't for him.

He saw how responsible Dumbledore obviously felt and watched him flitting from person to person and realised that he, Harry, was more responsible for the carnage around them. But he could not bring himself to salve the anger within him at his Headmaster, he just wanted something to take the guilt away.

Neville seemed to read his thoughts,

"Don't blame yourself Harry, s'not your fault," he murmured but Harry shook his head, feeling his eyes burn again.

From their vigil in one corner of the square Death Chamber Harry and Neville could clearly see the last of the Death Eaters being bodily dragged out – the Battle could only have truly finished moments before. Harry hadn't thought that the Battle would have continued after he and Bellatrix had left, hadn't thought that the world would continue turning once Sirius was dead. But, he mused, the Death Eaters must have been trying to fight their way out as much as the Order had been fighting for to stay alive and rescue Harry and his friends. He saw Lupin stun Dolohov and there was a cheer as the final Death Eater fell. Lupin doubled over, catching his breath. He was not smiling.

He immediately walked over towards them and placed a hand on either of Harry's shoulders, looking him in the face.

"Harry, are you injured?"

Harry shook his head, "Neville's nose is broken, though."

Concerned, Lupin turned his head to Neville.

"Don't worry Professor Lupin; I'm going to go to Madam Pombrey in a minute. I just wanted to make sure Harry was ok," Neville said earnestly and Harry felt indescribably grateful – Neville had done so much more than he ought.

Lupin smiled bracingly.

"I'm afraid I'm not your Professor anymore Neville, but I'm still a dab hand at fixing broken noses, just as good I daresay as Madam Pomfrey," he said, raising his voice in question to get Neville's permission to fix his nose. Neville nodded.

Wordlessly and wandlessly, Harry saw Lupin repair the damage done and both he and Neville gasped.

"Thanks Professor!"

Again, Lupin's smile did not reach his eyes and the corners of his mouth were tight, as if he were impersonating McGonagall's sternest look.

"And Harry, are you...ok?" he asked as best he could and Harry knew he was not referring to his physical state.

For a moment, Harry felt that he was able to keep himself from falling apart, but then he remembered that Lupin had lost Sirius too – he had only just got his friend back, after thinking him a murderer and suddenly, Lupin's only connection to the past was gone.

Ashamedly he tried to hide the tears that threatened and, he was not sure what possessed him to do it, clung to Lupin for the briefest of seconds – the closest thing he had to his father and Sirius. When he pulled away, his cheeks red, he saw that Dumbledore had appeared again and was speaking to Neville.

"I won't be long, and then we can go back to Hogwarts," Dumbledore assured Harry and Neville, before turning to Lupin. "I'm sorry to ask you to do this Remus, but could you take charge here? I've spoken to the Prophet and Fudge and I've looked around to see who's hurt," he went on and the four of them automatically turned to survey the damage. All over the place people were dashing to and fro, seeking others out to check they were not injured...or worse. Harry recognised a tall, lean figure to be John Dawlish – Fudge's bodyguard – he was bending over what appeared to be the unconscious form of Kingsley Shacklebolt. Not too far to their left and someone else was attending to Moody.

"It's fine, I should probably keep myself busy," Lupin answered, "have you accounted for everyone?"

Dumbledore hesitated.

"There were a few who I couldn't..." he began and Lupin's face tensed.

"Who should I look out for?"

"Well, there's Hestia and Emmeline and also – and I don't want to worry you – I feel I should check who, aside from, ah, Sirius you arrived here with? There is one other I have not found, but I do not know if they were even here in the first place. I pray not of course, but I should check..."

"Well, only..." Lupin began but a look of realisation spread over his face quickly and took his words from him. Dumbledore nodded slightly, his question answered.

"Don't blame yourself, Remus, it was a battle not Order surveillance, you couldn't have been there all the time," Dumbledore tried, but Lupin looked stricken.

"Has anyone seen her?" Dumbledore shook his head gravely. "I should have been looking out for her – she's my partner for Merlin's sake," he hissed, "wait, I think I remember where she -" then, without a second thought, he turned and sped away.

"Professor, who is it?" Harry asked, wracking his brains to think who else could have been injured because of him but kept drawing a blank.

He looked at Neville who shrugged and no answer was offered.

They watched as Lupin raced in the shadow of the long dais, running parallel to the wall that extended to their right until he finally reached the stone benches as the room began to rise up – there could have been anything up to one hundred levels of benches, Harry mused but was in no mood to try and count them.

Lupin mounted the first two steps to bring himself level with the first bench. His face fell, if possible, even further as whatever sight he had feared would meet him became reality. He glanced back at the three of them and nodded at Dumbledore who began walking briskly over, Harry and Neville hot on his heels. Lupin crouched down and disappeared for a moment. When he straightened up, he was carrying a small, limp figure in his arms, his face overwrought with emotion.

Dumbledore bent over the figure in Lupin's arms and Harry saw his face fall.

Then he knew it was serious.

"Who is it?" Neville whispered. "Do you know them?"

Harry craned his neck and a sudden flash of pink confirmed all he needed to know.

"Tonks," he breathed, his heart and stomach interacting in some kind of warped jolt of guilt. He remembered now that he was so forcibly reminded that she had been duelling Bellatrix Lestrange – the young witch putting up an unbelievable stand against her older, more experienced and altogether more unpredictable aunt. Then one spell had duped her and she had fallen.

Merlin only knew how many of the countless stone benches had struck her body when she had tumbled down.

"You know her?" Neville asked, looking at Tonks' pale, heart-shaped face.

Harry nodded and cast around for the right words.

"She's a friend," he answered and the words were true – she had helped him get away from Privet Drive last year and had always had a spare smile for him and his friends while they were at Grimmauld Place. She had been one of the only relatives Sirius could stand the mention of; the two had been close.

Sirius...

The two boys watched as Lupin and Dumbledore tried to rouse her, diagnosing exactly what was wrong with her, but she would not wake. Harry wondered how long she had been there and if she had been unconscious the whole time. He hoped so; in reality she wasn't so much older than himself and Neville and he didn't want to think of her shouting for help in unbearable pain and realising that no one was going to come.

To everyone's alarm more and more blood stains blossomed on her purple 'Weird Sisters' t-shirt and they would not be stemmed despite Lupin and Dumbledore's best efforts.

It had been one thing to see Kingsley and Moody lying unconscious; injured in the line of fire. Harry supposed that it was something about their ages that softened the blow but Tonks could only be what, twenty-two? Or perhaps twenty-three at most. If she died, it would be all Harry's fault and something in the look Lupin was wearing told him that he would never be forgiven. Tonks was lively and obviously well-loved: from what Harry had gathered she was practically an honorary member of the Weasley family and everyone in the Order treasured her company. Harry was the reason everyone was here and might just have killed not only his Godfather but also one of the only family members that Sirius had ever valued. He might have just robbed Tonks of her future – her life had barely had time to gain momentum. How must Lupin feel? Harry thought. He had lost his only remaining friend, his last tie to Hogwarts and his adolescence but he could lose Tonks too and Harry assumed they must be friends if they had spent most of their Order time together and for Lupin, as a werewolf, genuine friends like Tonks must probably be hard to come by. Would he be alone if Tonks died? Would he have no friends left?

And that was the only reason, Harry Potter – the Boy Who Lived – could possibly think of for why Remus Lupin looked so shattered by finding Nymphadora Tonks lying on the floor like that. Because, what else could there possibly be?

And, although Harry was angry at just about everyone and everything else for Sirius' death, he could not bring himself to be angry at Tonks although she might possibly be the most logical person to hate – she had been the one that had been fighting Bellatrix prior to Sirius' death. But Harry knew it was not her fault.

Then, Dumbledore was ushering Remus to a nearby fireplace and Harry knew they would be wanting to get Tonks to St. Mungo's as quickly as possible now. On the floor, previously hidden behind Lupin's form, both Harry and Neville seemed to notice Tonks' discarded wand at the same time.

"Should we...?" Neville started,

"Yeah, I'll give it to Lupin," Harry answered, snatching it up just as Lupin was about to get into the fireplace. "Wait!" he called and they looked up. Harry dashed over. "Here, you'd better take this," he said and held out the wand which Lupin look awkwardly but with a grateful smile. "Tell her I gave it to you," Harry insisted and Lupin nodded, albeit bemusedly. Harry went on, "and that I said I don't blame her, y'know for when she wakes up and hears...for when she hears about..." he tailed off, but Lupin understood.

He fixed Harry with a comforting smile. "Thank-you, I'm sure that will mean everything to her..."

As he disappeared, Harry felt a hand on his shoulder and heard a quiet voice.

"Come on Harry, Neville. It is our turn now, back to Hogwarts – you've had an awful night. I know you'll want to know about your friends and Miss Tonks, but as soon as I know something you will."

Thank Merlin for Albus Dumbledore.

-/-/-

'Please God, not both of them, not like this.' Remus Lupin was not a religious man, but sat alone in St. Mungo's at two a.m., he was certainly casting silent prayers

'Please God, not both of them, not like this.'

'Please God, not both of them, not like this.'

'Please God, not both of them, not like this.'

Always four times. A mantra repeated four times like a quaking quatrain, the words shaking as if in a wind even though they were nothing more substantial than thoughts. Even his mind was trembling in fear.

He still had no news of Tonks' condition, not really. Only that she was unconscious. Unconscious, but alive at least. From the cold, hard chair on the whitewashed ward he kept his vigil on her, his gaze fixed on the rise and fall of her chest, lest it stop doing so.

All the Healers had been able to tell him was that she had taken a lot of hits from some pretty nasty spells, not to mention the damage done to her body when she had fallen. As with all things in the Department of Mysteries, nothing was as it seemed. The benches were made of a magical stone whose strength and power rendered the damage done when it struck someone unhealable with potions or charms – Tonks was in it for the long haul while the cuts and bruises mended. After all, she had taken quite a tumble. The Healers reckoned they were looking at six or seven bench levels-worth of injuries to heal up in their own sweet time. And though Remus was scared of the power she had over him, greater than any Imperius charm could ever be and although he knew that he was oh so wrong for her, he would be with her every step of the way. She would be receiving a regular dose of the Salixus Potion – an extremely strong pain-relief draught; the strongest they had, in actual fact. But, other than that, until she awoke they could not know what other mental damage had been done.

Remus was trying to adjust to the knowledge that Tonks might wake up and know nothing of her life, she might wake up and know Remus or indeed her parents no better than she knew any of the Healers or patients on the ward. She might have to be told about the death of Sirius without even remembering him.

A little selfish part of Remus hoped that Tonks knew what happened when she awoke because he was not quite sure how to tell her what had happened. Only his observations of her and silent prayers that she would wake up at all were keeping him from the cold, hard realisation that his last remaining school friend was gone. He had lost Sirius once before but had got a second chance to enjoy his company and a sense of camaraderie with Sirius, with Padfoot, but he knew that he would never had a third. Sirius was gone and it hurt like nothing before. Because when Remus had lost him as a murderer he could feel an appropriate level of anger and hate at his supposed actions but now Remus had lost him as a friend it was the worst feeling in the world.

Well, not quite the worst.

The worst would be losing her too.

It had taken quite a substantial amount of time for Remus to accept that what Tonks felt for him was not puppy love or admiration or just a very strong sense of friendship. It was not that he had doubted her emotions, thought her too young to know love or anything like that, just that he genuinely hadn't know – still didn't know – what it was she saw in him to make her love him. A werewolf old before his thirty-six years, more than a little jaded by all the world had thrown at him, thirteen years her senior, too hated by the world to be seen as anyone's equal or to hold down a job and consequently poor, unemployed and friendless. He would make her an outcast. But she didn't seem to care so long as she was an outcast with him.

By comparison he had never had to doubt or question his feelings for her. He knew he loved her, maybe not exactly from the moment he saw her, but that was probably because she had literally toppled on him as she had bounded down the stairs of Grimmauld Place, excited for her first order meeting.

Remus' mood was less than savoury as he meandered down the darkened hall framed with House Elf heads and all sorts of other morbid paraphernalia from the troll foot umbrella stand and goblin finger coat hooks as practical adornments to Basilisk fangs and Cerberus skulls as what Remus could only assume were decorations to 'brighten' up the hall.

He was in no especial rush to get to the Order meeting, he never was. He found it somewhat uncomfortable sitting around a table with a group of people he barely knew, all of them knowing what he was, none of them really disliking him but then neither they did truly trust him either. There was not a lot of work he could do for the Order at the moment so many, like Snape, simply viewed himself and Sirius as tag-ons or nuisances who weren't really pulling their weight.

True, Dumbledore and Moody – two men who Remus honestly did like – had mentioned recruiting some new members among whom Remus presumed he would find some friends eventually.

He often had to remind himself not to fall too deep into the confined, often depressed, spaces of his mind at times like this. It was just he had nothing to brighten him up.

He was a 'lunatic' in the true sense of the word. The moon had an overwhelming effect on him, alongside the obvious monthly transformation. Right after the Full Moon he was generally quite quiet and unassuming, unremarkable really. It was his time to get over the stress and pain of his transformation and was a welcome few weeks. Then, right between the New Moon (when he felt a blossom energy and sometimes optimism) and the First Quarter of the Cycle (generally his favourite time of the month – when he felt most content and the closest to his old playful, teenage Marauder self) was when he found himself becoming pensive in a good sense; thoughtful and romantic, almost a bit dreamy. That was the part called the Waxing Crescent.

Sadly for Remus, he found himself just a week away from the Full Moon – the moon was in its Waxing Gibbous state. And that meant, with no distractions or amusements in his life and nothing to get overly excited about and looked forward to he became moody, withdrawn and depressed. It was his worst point and a time he bitterly hated. Things like friends or times like Christmas took his mind off of it, but they were few and far between at the moment.

That, in a nutshell, was why he found himself dawdling to the kitchen, hands in pockets like a petulant child, too-long hair in his eyes, wishing he could avoid the situation.

He also understood that Moody had supposedly recruited a young Auror who was going to need an Auror partner with some experience in the field, someone they could look up to. Dumbledore seemed to think that person. This snippet of information was making Remus even more glum and gloomy as making first impressions made him nervous and was not something he was generally good at – what with being a werewolf and all. That usually put people off.

It was then, as he passed the foot of the stairs that he heard a shout, a stumble and felt something fall on him, crashing into his left shoulder and pushing him to the ground. As he hit the carpet and sent a flurry of dust and dirt into the air he heard a panicked croaking somewhere below his right ear.

For a moment, he and whatever small force had tumbled into him lay groaning and, apparently, croaking.

"I'm so sorry," a voice above him moaned, drawing out the 'o' in 'so' for greater emphasis. A moment later and the voice lifted itself off him slightly, granting him the privilege of inhalation again. "Are you hurt?" the obviously female voice enquired.

"Don't think so," Remus laughed, easily seeing the funny side in the situation.

"I really am terribly sorry, I fall over all the time but I generally manage to miss taking out innocent bystanders," the voice gabbled,

"Is that a general rule or just an exception?" Remus chuckled,

"Exception, I'm afraid, but I do try, honest," the voice said, pleading him to believe her. "Are you absolutely sure you're alright?" she asked sounding extremely concerned and lifting herself completely off him.

"Completely," he assured her.

"Really?" she sounded sceptical. "It's just, you appear to be croaking..."

Remus suddenly became aware that the sound at his right ear was continuing as loud as ever and, upon sitting up discovered he had fallen on Kreacher, who jumped to his feet straight away, straightening his dirty garment indignantly. He sloped off immediately without a glance back, grumbling angrily.

"What on earth was that?" his accidental assailant asked then began musing, "looked like a cross between a bat, a toad with about six skins and a pillow case. Wait, no, that sounds a bit too much like Umbridge for my liking..." Remus laughed heartily at her and turned to face the person who had fallen into him when Walburga Black awoke with a start. Her curtains flew apart and she glared down at the two dishevelled figures.

"SCUM OF THE EARTH! WHY ARE THE SHAPESHIFTING FILTH BORNE OF A BLOOD TRAITOR AND A MUGGLEBORN AND THE MISERABLE, MOPING WEREWOLF, DIRTY DISGUSTING BEAST, SULLYING MY FINERY! THIS IS THE GREATEST INSUL..." Together, Remus and a small, startlingly-pink haired witch shut her up with a Herculean effort.

"She didn't hear two and a half people hit the floor but she heard me laughing," Remus panted angrily, leaning against the wall and the person next to him nodded, quaking with laughter.

"Sorry," she whispered, "but it's all rather ridiculous. I'm the proverbial 'shapeshifting filth borne of a blood traitor and a muggleborn', as it were," she extended a small, smooth hand and Remus looked into a happy, heart-shaped face with vibrant, shining eyes and full red lips curved into an inviting smile. Her face was framed by a short haircut, with ringlets a bright shade of pink. He thought it might just be the loveliest thing he had ever seen.

"That is, I'm a Metamorphmagus whose mum, Andromeda Black, married a muggleborn, which probably makes me a brilliant contender for Great Auntie Walburga's number one least favourite relative," she laughed quietly, shaking Remus' hand warmly.

"And do you have a name, shapeshifting filth?" Remus smiled, instantly at ease with her.

"Yes, but that works rather nicely doesn't it?" she answered and they both chuckled. "Everyone calls me Tonks," she said dangerously. "My first name's Nymphadora but if you ever call me that I'll hex your balls off," she warned, eyes narrowing.

"Duly noted."

"So, I guess that makes you the miserable, moping werewolf," she grinned and Remus hated that she knew what he was already. But now it was out there, he tried to be flippant.

"Yep, I'm the live-in werewolf," he concurred but then added, "Remus Lupin."

"Nice to meet you Remus Lupin, looks like I'm your new partner, I don't fall over all the time and I promise I'll try not to injure you every time I see you. Please don't judge me by terrible balance and coordination skills," she smiled apologetically, looking at her heavy black boots and scuffing the toes together.

"I'll try to get out of the firing line next time," he joked. "I'm not going to mess with a newly qualified Auror, or so Moody tells me."

"Yep he recommended me to the Order himself and Dumbledore vouched for me," the pink-haired Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks smiled.

'Thank Merlin for Albus Dumbledore', he thought with a smile, all links with the Waxing Gibbous already forgotten.

And that had pretty much been it. Tonks had made him happy, he felt safe with her – there was no judgement, no prejudice, only easy smiles and ready friendship. She quickly became his best friend, although he'd never have let Sirius know that.

Then, he had let himself cross that barrier he had set up for himself. Kissing her had been like spring-time and was glorious. He never wanted to stop. And, no matter how much he tried to fight the relationship, she hadn't wanted to stop either. And they had become Remus and Tonks – simple as that. No longer separate people in their own rights but a pair, something that came together. You didn't get one without the other.

Not that it was exactly broadcasted on the radio every night, which probably explained the look Harry had given when he saw the look on Remus' face. He probably thought it was just friendly concern or that Remus felt responsible for Tonks and that was partly it. But that assessment was probably only about one per cent true.

There were no words to describe how seeing Tonks that way had felt.

No words to describe the hole in his heart as he heard her moan as she began to come round. His eyes filled with stupid schoolboy tears for just a second when he looked into her bleary eyes – almost Sirius, overwhelmingly Tonks.

"Remus?" she muttered, voice gravelly and strained. At least she remembered him. "Oh Merlin, what did I do this time?" she asked as her eyes adjusted and she worked out where she was. "And, more importantly, did I take anyone else out with me because it wouldn't be the first time I've hospitalised someone else as well as myself so I can take it,"

For a moment, Remus allowed himself a somewhat startled half-smile – he truly did love everything about Tonks, she could make him smile without even trying, no matter what the situation was.

"Listen, Nymphadora, do you remember anything about tonight?"

She screwed up her face for a moment as if she was trying to morph. Then she shook her head and Remus guessed that that was when the pain hit her because suddenly her delicate features contracted and she stifled a cry of pain into a quiet hiss. He scraped his chair closer, taking her hand. With the onslaught of pain seemed to come the flood of memory, or at least a trickle. "Shit, wait, I remember...I remember the Department of Mysteries. Harry was there, he thought they had Sirius or something, I must have fought but I can't remember," she saw the look on his face which he was trying to conceal. "Was it that bad?"

He nodded mutely.

"What the hell happened?"

Explaining was hard. He couldn't just blurt out the words, 'Sirius is dead' but he got the explanation out eventually.

She went from hysterical and terrified to quiet anger and acceptance unexpectedly quickly, not having energy to do more than sob uncontrollably into Remus' shoulder, while he buried his face in her hair – a natural, comforting chocolate brown – and traced comforting circles into an uninjured section of her back.

"Why Sirius? It's so unfair," she whispered between racking sobs, "he had to go to Azkaban for something he didn't do, his name was completely tarnished and now...he's...he's," she tried but she could not get the words out. Remus hushed her sympathetically.

"I know, I know," he murmured, his own voice thick. He did not know what else to say, he was still filled with dread – Tonks now knew both through a combination of her own foggy memories and through his storytelling, that there had been a Battle, that the Prophecy had broken and that many people had been hurt but that she was, undoubtedly the most severely injured except for Sirius, who had not made it out of the Department of Mysteries.

"W..who killed him? How did it happen?" she asked and upon seeing his face went on, "I have to find out Remus, I can't not know,"

There it was. He knew he had to be honest but he also knew that she would probably blame herself.

"It...it was Bellatrix," he said, trying not to hesitate so that maybe Tonks would not make any connections between Sirius' murderer and who had duped her in her final duel before she fell.

"Shit," she whispered, running a hand through her hair and then wincing immediately after she had done so. "The bitch."

"Mmm, she caught him unawares," he told her gently, "he'd just won a duel and...well... he was happy; triumphant. It's ironic, but I don't think he'd felt so alive in a long time," Remus admitted and watched Tonks' eyes shine with tears. "At least he had a chance to feel happy again." She nodded, but the tears still spilled over as her eyes suddenly widened in realisation and horror.

"Remus," she whispered urgently, "I can remember duelling Bellatrix, I was fighting her but I got distracted, she must have got me," she said her words hurried and strained.

"That's when you fell, how you got most of your injuries," he offered.

"But the Battle was breaking up a bit wasn't it?" Remus nodded, "so she must have killed Sirius quite soon after we fought," she began, adding things up in her head. "Remus...just tell me," she demanded. "Am I right?"

"You...you...were the last person to fight her, yes," he admitted, "before she got to Sirius,"

"So it's my fault," she whispered the words Remus had been dreading.

"No, Nymphadora, absolutely not," he replied firmly, gripping her hand tighter and pulling her as close to him as he dared as she began to cry again. "You must never, ever believe that. There was nothing any of us could have done, Sirius included. Nothing is your fault, even Harry said so," Remus said as soothingly as he could manage.

But Tonks let out a harrowed wail, "oh Merlin! Harry! He's got no-one now and it's all my fault, I should have fought harder, I'm an Auror for goodness sake!"

"No, no, no 'Dora. That's so far from the truth. Many fought Bellatrix that night, not to mention less talented Death Eaters and no one put up such a good fight as you, many have said it and both Harry and Sirius would say that were they here. Listen to me: this...is...not...your...fault. Believe me, I would never lie to you, not about something so serious, do you trust me on that?" he asked, knowing that if Tonks didn't believe him when he said that then she would never believe him and would never believe anybody else.

Slowly, she pulled away, wincing at every millimetre she moved and looked him the in eye, challenging him to look away. But he stared resolutely into her beautiful dark eyes, the ones he had found he could not live without. Wordlessly, she nodded, but continued to cry.

"Were you...were you hurt?" she asked him and he shook his head,

"No. Just scared; bloody terrified actually," he admitted and she frowned.

"Why?"

"Because of you! I thought...I thought I was going to lose you – I couldn't handle the two most wonderful people in my life disappearing in one foul swoop." This admission, far from calming her, extricated another wail.

"And you!" she sobbed cryptically, "you've lost him too! Your last Hogwarts friend, and I let him die! You must hate the sight of me,"

"Never...Nymphadora if I'd lost you, I couldn't have gone on. Listen, I know how Muggle soap-drama that sounds but it's the truth. You've given my life a central point again, I never thought there was anyone out there for me, but I was wrong – there is. I've lost Sirius, we both have, but we're going to get through this together, I've lost my old school friend so don't let me lose you too. It's going to take a while for us to smile again and for life to seem happy again

She smiled weakly and as she did so, the Healer walked in, looking tired and burned-out.

"I thought I heard voices, it's nice to see you're smiling Miss Tonks, you're being incredibly brave – you must be in a lot of pain

Remus slotted himself back onto the chair and watched Tonks, who had fallen asleep. He allowed himself a small, indulgent tear to wish Sirius off but thanked Merlin that he still had her and that, weaved into the brown ringlets fanned out on the pillow was the slightest tinge of rose. It was not quite pink and it was undetectable to anyone who did not look for it, but it was there nonetheless. Things would be alright, eventually.

-/-/-

From across the room, one of the patients stirred – it was hard to sleep straight through on a hospital ward and he hadn't yet had a full night's sleep the whole week he'd been there. He remembered that they'd brought a new patient in and supposed that their treatment was what had woken him. He took a discreet glance in the direction of the previously-empty bed. A plainly-dressed man was sitting beside a young woman, although he didn't know what she was in for. She was brought in before he had put his book down and gone to sleep and he had heard that her condition was serious and that she would have to be treated in isolation for a good few hours and have some magical operations. He had heard her being returned to her bay and that she was stable and would be alright in due time.

He must have fallen asleep before the man – her partner presumably – had arrived. He was staring at her concernedly but was obviously fighting his drooping eyes. Not long later, his head was drooping, falling close to the young girl's shoulder. He looked slightly older than the girl but from the way he obviously would have sat up all night with her if his body had let him, and from the way his fingers weaved around hers, tightening protectively in his sleep, there had never been a man more in love. The girl looked as if she would be alright and from his vigil, the observer hoped that she wasn't going to be permanently unwell. He hoped that her partner had worried for her when the news she was in hospital had arrived and then had sighed in relief when they got the good news. There was nothing unusual about this couple, not too an onlooker anyway. Remus Lupin was not an outcast or a werewolf. He was a man sitting beside the bedside of the girl he loved, while she slept soundly. After all, what could be more normal than that?

A/N: So there we have it. Hope you enjoyed it. Comments and feedback alongside favourites and alerts all really make my day – because I'm sad. Please let me know what you thought – I love being able to improve! Thanks very much for reading and in advance for taking the time to click that little review button =D x x x