Table of Contents and Summary So Far
After enough time had passed for the room to get dark, Tonks let Remus sit down beside her and put his arms around her. He apologized for hurting her, and she accepted it, making a light joke of pretending that he meant the obvious physical sting; he didn't find it amusing, and apologized a second time, as he hadn't even thought of that and apparently considered it yet another crime. After a while, she stopped talking, and he stopped apologizing, and they waited together for night to fall. Once the shadows hid them, they dressed, then slipped out of the room into the corridor. To Tonks's relief, Remus was able to tell her that she'd grabbed her wand at some point and cast an Impervius charm at the door, and when they went downstairs, neither Mum nor Dumbledore seemed to have heard anything out of the ordinary. She sat down and had some kind of conversation with them. She had the impression that it had something to do with Blondin. Remus didn't participate much. Mum asked if she should have another look at him, to make sure he was all right, but he declined and excused himself.
Mum looked at him shrewdly, then looked at Tonks and shook her head. She waited for Dumbledore, then sat down across from Tonks and raised her eyebrow.
"Don't, Mum," Tonks said. "Please, don't."
For a wonder, she didn't. Instead, she just came over and put her arms around Tonks, and kissed her head. "I love you, Dora," she said. "If you need me, you know I'll be there."
Tonks smiled faintly. "Thank you, Mum."
That was all there was to it, and Tonks was grateful. She didn't think she could have taken it if Mum had insisted on a heart-to-heart.
Mum left ten minutes later for her shift at St. Mungo's, leaving Tonks alone. Tonks listened to the quiet house, then raised her wand curiously and pointed it at her body. "Exquiro corpus," she said. While it examined her, she imagined its sensitive magic discovering a pregnancy, imagined a little life going on from this. It was probably too soon--sensitive as it was, it needed something to work with--but she couldn't keep the images from coming. For the first time, the spell did pick up a change--the tiniest of changes--but it wasn't the one she was looking for. She put her wand away.
A few minutes later, Remus appeared at the top of the kitchen stairs, and stopped when he realized Mum and Dumbledore were both gone. "Dora," he started.
"Don't worry. I'm going soon."
"Back to Hogsmeade?"
She shook her head. "I took a few days that they owe me. I thought I might need them. I was going to go to France and check on the children."
"I was, as well."
"Oh. Well, I suppose--"
He shook his head. "Let's go to France, Dora. We need to..."
"If you say move on..."
She looked at him for a long time, then finally nodded. They walked stiffly outside to the alley and Apparated. His hand brushed her arm and her body flooded with aching memories, and then they were in the mountains.
A ball of fire shrieked out of nowhere and landed on the ground between them. Remus jumped back, and another flew from the shadows above them. Tonks caught a glimpse of a sharp beak, the shadows of wings...
"Valeska!" she called. "Stop!"
Another fireball came.
"Please! It's all right."
The trees shivered and a huge form glided down, landing in a crouch. She stood and the wings folded and disappeared. Her face pulled into itself, forming into its cool human beauty. "You are certain?" she asked. "He does not deserve your protection."
Tonks gritted her teeth, wondering how, exactly Valeska had reached whatever conclusions she had reached. Did Veela have some sort of way to sense these things? Or had Mum decided to circle through France on her way to St. Mungo's? "There's nothing he did that I didn't do," she said. "May we see the children?"
Valeska Delacour nodded curtly, called for Mirabelle (who was now drawing a cart instead of a sleigh), and took them up to the sanctuary.
The square was bustling, the children playing happily with several of the sanctuary's inhabitants. Electa and Jason Crowler were ignoring their brother in favor of playing with Evvie, who in turn was tagging along after Gabrielle Delacour. Vivian Waters ran to Remus and gave him a hug, then ran back to her friends. Tonks could see Alderman and Fiona sitting awkwardly together on a wooden bench, and Fiona's inviting wave seemed a bit desperate.
Tonks picked her way over, pasting a smile onto her face. "Hello, Fiona," she said. "I see you found Robert. God knows we wouldn't have been able to get out last night without him. He kept everyone together."
"I'm sorry I had to throw that on you, Alderman," Remus said behind her. "I just had to try..."
"Is it true that Montgomery's dead?" Alderman asked.
Remus nodded. "I'm sorry."
"Bloody goddamned Greyback should be sorry." Alderman blanched. "Er... sorry, M... Mum."
The corners of Fiona's mouth twitched. "I've applied some colorful words to Greyback over the years myself."
"Well," Tonks said, "we'll let you catch up." She led Remus away, and they were close to the little house where the Crowlers lived--Roald was watching everything distantly--when a few thundering steps came up behind them.
Alderman stood sheepishly in front of them. "I, er... well, I told her I wanted to say thank you. So thank you."
"You're welcome," Tonks said.
Alderman's eyes shifted back and forth, and he dug at the dirt with the toe of his shoe. "Lupin... is there something I'm supposed to do now?"
"Get to know your mother."
Alderman leaned in. "She had to tell me who she was. I'd forgotten what she looked like. It was embarrassing."
"It'll come back."
"Yes, but... what about after? Am I to help with fighting Greyback?"
"And I don't know a word of French!"
"Alderman, you'll figure it out." Remus smiled. "How are you adjusting to being Robert again?"
Alderman looked helpless. "I keep forgetting to answer! Couldn't I help with Greyback? I know him. I know lots about him."
Blondin, apparently fully healed, ran up at that point and started asking Alderman questions about which of the empty houses he and the other family-less boys should go live in. Alderman regained his confidence giving directions, and Tonks guessed that he would find plenty to do here. Remus turned to give her a smile when Alderman wasn't looking, then seemed to remember that he wasn't supposed to smile at her and turned away instead.
Tonks turned, relieved, and found Bill Weasley striding over toward her, Fleur right behind him. He greeted her warmly and shook Remus's hand perfectly normally.
"We're all going to have lunch at Fleur's grandmother's place, everyone who didn't need to go back right away. Come along--we'd all like to know what happened."
Remus looked a little dubious about it, but he wasn't excluded from the invitation (though Valeska gave him a very small portion of food and did not talk directly to him). Molly and Arthur had stayed, though the twins had left. McGonagall and Hagrid had apparently needed to go back for Monday classes. Maddie and the baby had come to join Daffy as soon as they'd got word that Tonks was all right. Sanjiv was sitting cross-legged on the ground, sketching, and when he saw her, he dumped his pencils away and ran to her.
"Tonks!" He hugged her. "Oh, God. We heard you were all right and needed rest. I didn't think you'd come. You are all right, aren't you? You look a bit peaky."
She nodded, and they all sat down together. Tonks told everyone about the departure from Greyback's forest, and Remus briefly went over what had happened at the Montgomerys', as far as he could remember it, at any rate.
"You did as much as you could," Arthur Weasley said.
"Did everything go well in the Forbidden Forest?" Remus asked.
"Well," Molly said, "we had to improvise a bit after that poor little girl with the scars came. Minerva McGonagall had to go off to fetch Dumbledore."
"I didn't know he was away again," Tonks said.
"Apparently, something came up quickly," Arthur told her. "He had Snape, Shacklebolt, and Moody keep track of the school. I imagine he knew you weren't available on a moment's notice this month."
"Anyway," Bill said, "the little girl--Vivian, is it?--went back to wherever she normally hides to transform, and we spread out. There were enough of us to guard all of them, though I think another person would have been handy with those spiders--"
"'orrid things!" Fleur interjected, shuddering. "They were circling us ze 'ole time."
"Acromantulas," Valeska said. "It is very foolish for them to be in the Forbidden Forest, so close to the school. They speak, but they do not become social."
"Did they attack you?" Maddie asked, blanching.
Daffy shook his head. "No. They smelled the werewolves as soon as they started to come through. They didn't want to get any closer. Which is sort of odd, as I've never heard of a werewolf attacking a spider." He glanced guiltily at Remus. "Er, sorry. Don't mean to act like I'm an authority."
"No, you're right," Remus said. "But I'm sure the acromantulas were just able to smell predators, and weren't making any particular guesses about what they were."
"Anyway," Bill said, "when the werewolves started to come through, we just met them, one at a time. Your Mum took the first one, Tonks--turned out to be that pretty curly-haired girl when the moon set. It was mostly just keeping our eyes open after that. One of them took a leap at Sanjiv--"
Sanjiv was nodding. "I hit him with a Stunning Spell, then Bound him. Felt kind of bad about it, actually. He started chewing on his foot. Never saw anything like it."
"He's fine," Tonks said, her mind turning over Blondin again. "Madam Pomfrey fixed him right up."
"She has a lot of practice at it," Remus added.
"Fiona was 'oping to guard 'er own son," Fleur said, "but 'e came through last, and she 'ad already taken one of the leetler ones. 'E was the beegest. Grand-mère took 'im, as she is not 'uman and could 'old on to 'im."
"That'll be handy," Arthur said. He smiled at Valeska (Molly narrowed her eyes). "I think they'll be glad you're here."
"I was sure I'd lose the girl I was guarding," Daffy said. "I don't think I blinked until morning. And then... it was horrible. I'd like to never see that again."
"That would be nice," Remus said wearily.
There was awkward silence as Valeska served a sweet pastry, and the conversation turned to vague thoughts about the future of the children who'd come. Valeska herself planned to take care of the girls. A house had been prepared for them, but Valeska's own quarters, with trees and caves, were apparently more attractive to them. Valeska seemed delighted with this, and had already cleared away spaces for them. The boys were trying to decide where to stay, but the house elves Migna and Migno would keep an eye on them.
It was really over.
They'd done it.
Tonks felt herself becoming more distant, felt her expressions like putty, as the evening wore on. She sometimes looked across and saw Remus, and sometimes he was looking back at her, but they didn't talk. She headed back to the Apparition point alone--Remus wanted to check on the children again--and went back to Hogsmeade.
Alone in her room, she did the Query Charm again.
There was no further change.