A fan fiction story by Melpomene based on the characters and backstory of "Harry Potter" and composed without permission. No copyright infringement is intended and no monies have been earned.
They were like apples and curry, she mused. Sweet and spicy and exotic and comforting. That was how it had been. But then everything changed.
She loved the feel of his embrace, the soft fabric of his patched and shabby robes cushioning her skin. His warmth could chase away all the chilling fears that hid beneath her crown of vibrant spikes. At least it used to be able to. She didn’t know anymore. He never touched her anymore. Now his absence was the cause of her chills.
It had begun with the tiniest of things – quite the same way it had started really – so inconsequential that she hardly noticed. A quick sidestep that moved him just outside her casual reach. Hasty departures from dinners she attended. Missions that kept him far away whenever she happened to drop in for the night at number 12 Grimmauld Place. Each of those little incidents could be easily excused – too weary, too preoccupied, too important to the Order.
But by autumn the mountains of excuses were leached of their innocent believability and she had fallen to despair so deep it left her bereft of her natural talents. Spells, even the simplest, were a trial. She looked every bit as pitiful and pathetic as she felt. It was fitting, she decided, except that it created a world of worry around her. It was that worry that had her sitting at the Weasley’s kitchen table in the Burrow with Molly fussing over their afternoon tea.
“Have you been to Diagon Alley recently? Fred and George are doing quite well. And Ginny sent an owl just yesterday – all’s well at Hogwarts.”
Tonks gave Molly only half an ear as she chattered on. Her eyes were focused listlessly on the family “clock” that balanced precariously atop Molly’s knitting basket beneath a half-finished jumper. She wondered how many more swipes of the clacking knitting needles the clock would endure before it crashed to the floor. She also wondered if Molly would ever again see her family not relegated to “mortal danger”.
“He wouldn’t deny me if I were a werewolf,” she said softly.
Molly froze in mid-sentence and quickly turned toward the table with wide and worry-filled eyes. “Tonks!” she cried.
Tonks cringed. She hadn’t meant to say it aloud, hadn’t meant to give her friends anything more to worry about her for. But it was true just the same. He wouldn’t.
“You only need to give him time, dear. He’ll come round to your way of thinking, you’ll see.” Molly levitated the tea tray to the table, her face a solemn mask. “Don’t speak of such horrible things, even in jest.”
“I wasn’t jesting,” Tonks answered flatly. “I was being honest.”
Molly pursed her lips. “He would never forgive himself if he knew where he’d driven your thoughts,” she insisted. “Never. You don’t want his conscious burdened with such things, do you?”
Tonks shrugged. “It doesn’t change that it’s the truth, Molly. Too old, too poor, too dangerous: those are his excuses. If I weren’t fully human, weren’t whole, were dangerous – the other two wouldn’t matter anymore.” She twisted her napkin so savagely that she rent it in two. “Oi!” As she reached for her wand she bumped the sugar bowl with her elbow and sent it crashing to the floor. With a long-suffering sigh she tapped the napkin. “Reparo.”
Molly’s brow furrowed. The spell had only half worked and a large tear remained in the center of the linen.
“I’m sorry, Molly.”
“Not at all, my dear. Reparo!” She tapped her own wand to the scrap of material and watched as the severed threads wove themselves back together. She also repaired the sugar bowl before Tonks had a chance to remember it was smashed. Goodness only knew what mess would be made out of it with the current state of they young Auror’s mind.
“How have you been sleeping, Tonks dear?”
“Sleeping?” Tonks let the word float through her brain a few times. “It’s hard sometimes.”
“Only sometimes?” Molly gently prodded.
“All of the time,” Tonks admitted. “Ever since he went underground.”
Molly watched her young friend a while longer before she decided the other woman was so wrapped up in her own misery at the moment that she wasn’t aware of what was going on around her. It would be easy enough to slip a sleeping potion into her tea.
She worried for her. While on assignment for the Order, Tonks was just as effective as ever. She was downright morose but at least she could function. Molly could only hope that the same could be said for the time Tonks was working at her Ministry position. It was the private times that worried Molly so thoroughly. When left on her own, she came up with solutions and understandings for her predicament that would do her only harm.
Molly rose from the table and moved as if to stir sugar into Tonks’ tea. Arthur had been having trouble enough resting lately that she had taken to keeping a vial of sleeping potion in her apron pocket.
“Drink up, Tonks. You’ll feel better if you do.”
Half an hour later Molly had moved Tonks to Ginny’s bed and cleared away the tea tray. It was time for her to begin preparing for dinner. Arthur would be home soon from the Ministry and Remus had accepted her offer of a home-cooked meal and would be along soon after. With luck, she would be able to talk a little sense into him before Tonks woke up and discovered her deception.
“Molly, how have you been?”
She smiled at the haggard man who stood on her stoop. “Remus!” Sweeping the door wide, she ushered him into the warmth of the inside. “I’ve been better than you, surely. Have a seat. Arthur should be home any moment now.” She nodded toward the clock that assured her Arthur was traveling.
“Tell me, how are things?” Remus sank slowly down into a chair and stacked his hands on the tabletop. He smiled a thank you at the cup of tea and dish of biscuits Molly scooted in front of him.
She eyed him a moment and almost decided to keep everything cheery for this one evening considering his obvious exhaustion and strain. She considered it but tossed the notion aside when Tonks appeared in her mind’s eye sitting in the very same place and talking about the notion of becoming a werewolf not two hours earlier. “Things are gray, very gray indeed,” she admitted.
She knew she had his attention and insisted he continue eating – he had grown much too thin in his absence from civilization. Molly decided Tonks needed no more fodder to worry herself ill over him – there was little she could do to right the mental anguish but at least she could tend to his physical health. Trying to decide where to begin, she opened her mouth to speak when the door swung open again and Arthur breezed through.
“Molly,” he greeted as he crossed to her side and placed a kiss on her cheek. He nodded to their guest. “Remus.”
“Good evening, Arthur. How does the Ministry fair?” Remus queried.
“About the same,” Arthur smiled grimly. He placed a stack of parchment on the sideboard and settled himself at the table across from his friend before turning his gaze to his wife. “How was your day, my dear?”
“Tonks came to tea.”
Remus’ eyes widened slightly and he busied himself with brushing invisible crumbs from his fingers.
“Did she? Is there any change in our girl?” Arthur asked solemnly. He cast a worried glance at Molly when her eyes darted quickly to the stairs.
“Only for the worse.”
“What’s wrong with Tonks?”
She had intended for the comment to gain Remus’ active attention and was pleased with the result. He sounded concerned, very much so in fact. “I fear for the child,” she admitted softly. “She’s not a child of course, but she’s so close to Bill and Charlie’s age…” she shook the foolish thoughts from her head. “A fully-fledged auror and she can’t sleep or eat, won’t admit to anyone what’s wrong. Talks about… I’ve grown very concerned for our dear Tonks.”
“I’m certain she’ll recover, Molly,” Remus assured her. “She’s merely young and impetuous just now. Once she realizes the futility—”
Molly knew that dinner needed to be set out and eaten before she could say what she truly needed to tell Remus. She refused to ruin his appetite with Tonks’ disturbing comments. With a wave of her wand, dinner set itself out upon the tabletop and stopped the conversation that had begun before Molly said more than she intended, at least until Remus had eaten at least two helpings of her Witch Weekly’s Marvelous Meatloaf recipe.
They ate companionably as dusk fell over the garden beyond the window. Molly was careful to steer the conversation away from anything that might be upsetting to Remus. He would likely need all of his fortitude to deal with what he would learn later that evening. After plying him with seconds and then thirds, she was content that he had eaten his fill.
“You’re much too thin,” she fussed.
“I’m certain to be as bloated as a corpse if you don’t stop forcing food on me, Molly.” He smiled to soften the rebuke. “Now, tell me what has you so terribly worried. It isn’t one of the children, is it? Is everything all right at Hogwarts? Are Bill and Fleur causing you too much concern?”
“No, no…” she murmured and even let the image of Fleur flit from her mind as quickly as it had appeared. “It’s just that Tonks –”
“Tonks is a grown woman quite capable to taking care of herself and those around her,” Remus admonished softly. “You’re prone to worry over everyone, Molly. Tonks simply strikes a chord with you because of her closeness in age to Bill and Charlie.”
Molly cut her eyes at him. “Sometimes even grown aurors need to be worried over,” she muttered in a huff. “They’re like werewolves – they tend to get in so deep with a situation they can’t see clearly enough to find their way out. Apt to chose the wrong solution because of their own clouded understanding.”
Remus’ eyes narrowed and clouded with confusion. “Molly, I don’t understand what you’re talking about. Has Tonks done something to upset you?”
Arthur cleared his throat and looked questioningly at his wife.
Now was her chance – the best she would be given under the circumstances. “Well, she’s—”
Molly’s shoulders sagged at the sound of Tonks’ voice. She turned to face the stairs and took in the sight of the woman balanced teeteringly on the edge of a step halfway up to the second floor. She appeared to be no more rested than she had when Molly had plied her with sleeping potion.
“Tonks,” Molly called with forced cheer. “Do you feel better dear? More rested?”
“Nymphadora. I didn’t know you were here,” Remus admitted with a wry glance at Molly who busied herself with cutting into a nut cake and passing out slices to him and Arthur.
“I hadn’t thought I would be – still,” she emphasized. She managed to descend the stairs and cross the kitchen without incident but removing her traveling cloak from the coat rack proved too much for her temporary grasp on coordination. With a groan of disgust, she retrieved the robes she had inadvertently knocked to the ground and snagged each of them on a hook. She wrestled into her own cloak with a minimum of fuss but it was punctuated by a long stream of half-muttered curses. The sound of ripping fabric seemed to deflate her irritation and she miserably studied the gaping hole in her sleeve. Before she could raise her wand to attempt to right the damage, Molly had already seen to it.
Remus watched in silence, noting the odd looks that were shared by both Molly and Nymphadora. He wondered why it was Molly had rushed to mend the tear when Nymphadora had obviously been prepared to do it herself but wisely kept his own council. Some things he could wait until later to discover.
“You shouldn’t drug people without their knowledge, Molly,” Tonks said somewhat tartly. “Especially not an auror.”
“I was only trying to help, besides you were so distraught that you never saw me do it. How’s that for an auror – missing someone slipping potions into their tea?”
Tonks glowered, spun on her heel, narrowly avoided colliding with the door, and slunk into the kitchen yard. She turned around once more and Remus met her eyes just before she aparated and was struck by the deep melancholy he found there. She was so young, she was meant for joy and vivaciousness. She would soon see the error of her ways and recover.
to be continued