FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,
FernWithy
fernwithy

Shades, Chapter Two: Shapeshifting, pt. 4

Mmm. Tired. Good thing Tonks is tired, too. But I've got a family thing this weekend (I get to meet two new babies, yay!), so I definitely wanted to get this up tonight, before I start rushing around, since I don't know if I'll be able to get online much over the next couple of days.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




It didn't take long to arrange for Emmeline's funeral. Most of the Order of the Phoenix that wasn't undercover came, but summoning them had been a simple matter. Dumbledore had arrived late, with one arm heavily bandaged, and had looked for a long time at Emmeline's body before taking his seat beside Tonks's parents, who had sought him out. Tonks herself sat beside Moody, who insisted for some mad reason of his own that she take the outermost seat in a row, off near the cloak room. Hestia Jones had given the eulogy. It was all very short. Too short.

Emmeline had never married and had no family in the wizarding world, her friends outside the Order could be counted on one hand, and she'd been estranged from her Muggle family for years. There had never been any argument; it had apparently just been a kind of drifting, a thought that frightened Tonks in a deep and painful way.

"It happens," Dad said heavily, looking down at the body after the service. "It was just Mum and me when I was growing up, so I'd no one to lose. But the others? Cousins and great-aunts and even grandparents, sometimes who couldn't be told anything? Old family friends offended because they were never invited to things? It happened a lot. Hurt feelings and drifting apart. We enter a new world, Dora. And it means leaving the old one behind, even if we don't mean to. That's why we always stuck together at school. Or at least we used to." He touched Emmeline's cold hand, and squeezed her fingers. "Stand down, Emmy," he said quietly to her. "We've got it now."

"Are you all right, Ted?" Mum asked, coming up on his other side.

"I'm going to talk to Dumbledore, Andromeda. I have to do something."

Mum closed her eyes and leaned against his arm. She muttered, "Don't," but then nodded. "I do as well. We both know that."

"Not what you were talking about before."

"I don't much like what you were suggesting, either."

Dad didn't answer.

Tonks looked between them, trying to understand what they were talking about; they'd always had a secret language, but she thought she'd learned to understand it long ago. This time, though, it was incomprehensible. Mum looked drained, and Dad...

When Tonks thought of her father, it was always with laughter and music, but now, he was grim and determined. He looked like pictures of his own father, in uniform for the second World War. Mum looked like someone was practicing Entrail Expelling curses on her.

Tonks hugged them both, then made her way over to Mad-Eye, who was talking to Kingsley beside the table where the tea set was sitting. Each of them had a cup.

"Wotcher," she said.

Kingsley nodded to her. "I was telling Mad-Eye how it happened," he said, expanding the Distraction Charm he was using to include her in their private conversation. "You did well for her, you know."

"Not well enough. Did you know that no one had seen her for a day before we found her?"

"No."

"Well, no one had. She never got to work, she never got home. They had her, Kingsley. They caught her before they killed her. Where is Snape? I want to know who did this."

"He wouldn't know. I'm sure he'd have found some way to get her out of it if he know. He's sharp enough," Moody growled, a grimace on his face. "Anyway, he's not here. Can't very well be seen with us in public, can he?" He glanced over at the cloak room with his magical eye, then significantly back at Tonks. "He's not the only one who can't be seen, of course."

Tonks's heart rushed for a moment as she realized what he meant, but then she saw poor Emmeline on the bier at the front of the room. She nodded. "Right," she said. "I, er... think I left something with my cloak."

Kingsley and Mad-Eye patted her shoulders a few times, then sent her off. She went into the shadowy little alcove slowly, feeling for the Invisibility Cloak, but she didn't brush against it. Still, she thought she could hear breathing, and she could definitely feel the warmth of another body in the room with her. She busied herself shifting the cloaks around, pretending to search for something, and cast a Distracting Charm of her own to keep people from listening in. "Mad-Eye saw you," she said quietly.

"It's Mad-Eye's Cloak. He lent it to me. I wanted to say goodbye to Emmeline." He paused. "And to see you. I feel ashamed to use a funeral for it, but I..." A shaky sigh came out of the nothing behind her.

"Let me in, Remus," she said. "Let me under the cloak."

"It won't cover both of us."

"It will if we're close."

She wasn't sure what he would do, but after a moment, she felt him pass by her, slip into the deeper shadows on the other side of the alcove. The the air shimmered, and an opening appeared. She slipped into it quickly, and his arms closed around her. It was stiflingly hot, and she could see only his chest, and that only dimly in the dark. She wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled herself as close as she could get.

He took a deep breath. She could feel his heart slowing, his muscles relaxing. "I feel like it's been a year," he said.

"It's been a lifetime."

"You were on the scene?"

"Yes."

"I'm so sorry. I should have been there for you."

"You have work to do."

"I should have been there. God, you deserve better than me."

"Don't say that. I'm so tired. I don't want to argue, so please don't make me."

"You should get some rest."

"I know. Later." She just let him hold her for a moment. "How are you doing, Remus? Really? How are things with the, er... pack?"

"It's not really a pack. They help each other out, but they're mostly alone. I studied wolf packs before I went and--"

Tonks was surprised to hear herself laugh.

"What?"

"You studied how to be a better wolf?"

"Well, I thought I should know--"

She kissed his chest. "That's the most Remus-like thing I've ever heard you say. I love you very much."

He laughed softly. "You have very strange taste in men."

"Lucky for you."

"Very lucky for me. Not particularly lucky for you, though." He stroked the back of her neck with his strong fingers. "My Dora. How can I walk away from you?"

She went as cold as if a Dementor had entered the cloakroom. "What do you mean?"

He didn't answer. After a long time, he just said, "I have to go back. I'm expected."

An unexpectedly cold blast of air hit Tonks's back as he opened the Cloak, and she stepped back into the alcove quickly. For a moment, he let the cloak remain open, and she saw him--gaunt, scratched from head to toe, a great gash visible just above the neckline of his robes.

Then he let the Cloak close, and he was gone. He might have said goodbye, and she might have said goodbye, but he was gone, and when she reached for the spot he had been in, it was empty.

She went home with her parents, who were having a distracted argument about whatever they'd discussed with Dumbledore, and dinner before work was a tense affair. Neither of them seemed the least bit willing to tell her what the substance of the disagreement was.

When she got to work, the offices were mostly empty, the night shift teams already deployed, with the exception of her own. She checked the schedule.

Dawlish. Wonderful.

He'd left a note beside the assignment, saying he'd gotten in early and had decided to get a bit to eat while he waited for her. She swiped it off the wall and crumpled it. A flash of movement above her caught her eye.

Glancing up, she saw another of the true image mirrors that had been installed. A mousy, brown-haired woman with sunken eyes and prominent cheek bones looked back down at her, blinking sleepily.

Who are you? she thought wearily. Who are you, and where is Nymphadora Tonks?

The woman in the mirror offered no particular answers. She just stayed there, unchanging and unsmiling.

After awhile, Tonks looked away.
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