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Shades, Chapter 41: Unlocked, pt. 4 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 41: Unlocked, pt. 4
Hospital scene. Harry has just told them that Snape killed Dumbledore. Much dialogue skipped here, since it's expository stuff about what was just in scenes; what's left is Rowling's.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Harry let the story pour out of him--the Astronomy Tower, Malfoy, the Cloak, an immobilizing spell... Tonks had never heard anyone sound as frustrated as he did. "...and Snape did it," he finished. "The Avada Kedavra."

Tonks stood beside Remus, feeling the faint heat that came from his body, the only warmth she seemed able to find in the room. Snape.

Abruptly, Ginny lifted her head and said, "Shh! Listen!"

Tonks didn't know the sound she heard--the soft, mournful music that filled the dark night. It filled her with a deep and peaceful ache, and called her to look, to see. She saw Poppy Pomfrey, bent in tears over her patient. She saw Bill, his ruined face quiet and at rest, and Ron and Hermione, bound by some unseen energy that enfolded and healed them. Luna, her large eyes seeming to glow with some deep inner secret, and Neville, sleeping dreamlesslessly, at peace. Harry, wounded and bleeding, but with strength that seemed to be circling around him, filling him. And she saw Remus wracked with pain, bent into his strange and lonely world, wanting to be a part of things, sure he wasn't. For a moment, she felt the connections that brought them all together, the tenuous threads of the oldest magic that made them all a part of one another.

The door opened, and Minerva McGonagall came in, all business, her face scracthed and bruised from the fight. "Molly and Arthur are on their way," she said. "Harry, what happened? According to Hagrid, you were with Professor Dumbledore when he--" She swallowed hard, unable to actually say it. "--when it happened. He says Professor Snape was involved in some--"

"Snape killed Dumbledore," Harry said again, and McGonagall swayed on her feet as though struck. Tonks was certain she was going to faint.

The conversation seemed faint and glassy. McGonagall expressed disbelief; Remus bitterly recalled that Snape was an accomplished Occlumens. Tonks heard herself make some weak protest, and McGonagall swore that Dumbledore had claimed to know something.

"I'd love to know what Snape told him to convince him," Tonks muttered.

Harry's voice came out like a whip. "I know. Snape passed Voldemort the information that made Voldemort hunt down my mum and dad. Then Snape told Dumbledore he hadn't realized what he was doing, he was really sory he'd done it, sorry that they were dead."

Silence fell, and Remus broke it first, with what they were all thinking: "And Dumbledore believed that?"

The argument went on, though it was less an argument than a round of self-recriminations. Tonks tried to tell herself that there was some way it wasn't true, that Dumbledore had known something Harry hadn't heard. Perhaps some tortured love story or dark secret in Snape's past. Something, anything. But the rock it crashed on was not Snape's murder of Dumbledore--she could come up with a hundred reasons how it could all have been an elaborate ruse--but on the battle at the Ministry last year. Snape had known that Harry was gone for hours before telling the Order that he was headed for the Department of Mysteries. Hours in which they could have intercepted him before the Death Eaters did, hours that might have saved Sirius's life. Tonks had always been puzzled by it, but she assumed there must have been a reason, something unforeseen, but she'd never been able to imagine an answer that made sense. It would have taken only a moment.

But this... this would make sense of it. If he had never been truly on their side at all.

If it had been deliberate.

If he had set Sirius up to die, just as he'd set up James Potter to die, just as he'd destroyed Remus's career and would undoubtedly have seen him in Azkaban if there had been a chance.

She blinked and looked up, trying to adjust herself to this new knowledge, and she realized that the conversation had gone on without her. Ron and Ginny had told Harry about their own experience--Tonks had missed most of this--and Hermione was blaming herself for letting Snape get by and staying on guard instead of following him into the battle.

"It's not your fault," Remus said. "Hermione, had you not obeyed Snape and got out of the way, he probably would have killed you and Luna."

"So then he came upstairs," Harry said, his lip curling bitterly, "and he found the place where you were all fighting..."

"We were in trouble," Tonks admitted. "We were losing..." She told him what had happened at the base of the tower. Her mind was a million miles away, and she barely heard herself. She let Ron, and then the others, take over the thread of the story, picturing it all again, seeing Snape coming up to them, brushing by the Death Eater on the stair--that, over and over again--then coming down, his cloak protectively around Draco Malfoy.

"We just let them pass," she said. "We thought they were being chased by the Death Eaters--and next thing, the other Death Eaters and Greyback were back and we were fighting again--I thought I heard Snape shout something, but I don't know what--"

Harry's face twisted. "He shouted, 'It's over.' He'd done what he'd meant to do."

There seemed to be nothing else to say. The air seemed very heavy. The weight of a lifetime of light jokes about Snape's cruelty seemed to sit on Tonks's shoulders--Sanjiv dropping into a dramatic crouch and saying, "Oh, no! Don't go to detention in the dungeon... no one comes out of there alive!"--amusing memories turned bitter and cold.

The door opened again, and Molly and Arthur ran in, followed by Fleur Delacour, her blue eyes wide with utter terror for Bill. No one seemed to be paying her any mind.

Remus got up and backed into Tonks, and they both moved out of Molly's way as she leaned over Bill's bed.

"Bill! Oh, Bill!" She kissed his forehead.

Arthur, looking lost and small, did his best to define what had happened to his son, turning to Remus as though Remus would have answers that no one else would have. He asked about Dumbledore. McGonagall confirmed what he'd heard.

Molly was able to spare some sadness and disbelief, but all of her attention was still on Bill. She took the ointment from Madam Pomfrey and began to dab it on the wounds. She started crying as she looked at the remains of his face. "Of course it doesn't matter how he looks," she said, Tonks guessed more to herself than to anyone else. "But he was always a very handsome little b-boy... always very handsome... and he was g-going to be married--"

"And what do you mean by zat?"

Tonks looked up. Fleur was standing behind Molly, her hands balled into fists on her hips, her lips drawn into a snarl that Tonks was relatively certain she'd seen on Valeska once or twice this year. "What do you mean 'e was going to be married?"

Molly looked up, and Tonks understood her problem with Fleur for the first time, the simple misunderstanding, the simplest... a very young girl, attaching herself to her handsome firstborn son, hero-worshipping with no other criteria than his dashing looks... an easy way to read it, and probably true of a lot of girls Bill had gone with before. But Fleur Delacour was not like other girls.

"You theenk Bill will not wish to marry me anymore? You theenk, because of these bites, he will not love me?"

Molly backpedaled. "No, that's not what I--"

"Because 'e will! It would take more zan a werewolf to stop Bill loving me!"

Tonks was still standing beside Remus, and she felt him shudder.

"Well, yes, I'm sure," Molly said. "But I thought perhaps, given how..."

"You thought I would not weesh to marry him?" Fleur spat. "Or per'aps, you hoped? What do I care how he looks? I am good-looking enough for both of us, I theenk!"

Tonks felt a smile trying to come to her lips, an odd feeling in this room at this time. But as she watched Fleur push her way past Molly, going on about how little she cared about Bill's scars--except to show how brave he was--and take the ointment from her, starting to tend Bill's wounds herself, a part of her wanted to cheer, to run over and hug Fleur and tell her that she believed, that it was right and good for her to do this.

She looked up at Remus, and the feeling passed. He was watching all of it with an expression of deep envy, biting his lip, tears quivering in the corners of his eyes. Tonks tried to come closer to him, but he shivered when she touched him, and shook his head.

Molly was watching all of it with dawning understanding, seeing her future daughter-in-law for the first time. She made an offer of a family heirloom for the wedding (from the corner of her eye, Tonks saw Ginny's jaw drop), then abruptly, she embraced Fleur tightly, and Fleur hugged her back, and they began to weep together.

Remus was blinking rapidly, and Tonks felt him move away, trying to get to the door, trying to go somewhere to curl up with his despairing beliefs about his life, to tell himself that it was different for Bill, that his own concerns were much more real. And they were real enough; Tonks knew that. She understood what he felt. But he didn't understand anything.

She cut in front of him and pointed at Fleur. "You see!" she said. "She still wants to marry him, even though he's been bitten! She doesn't care."

Remus stopped, stock still, and Tonks realized dimly that everyone was looking at them, that she'd just dragged their sordid life in front of everyone Remus had left to care about. Less dimly, she realized that she didn't really care about that, either.

"It's different," he said. She could see the muscles standing out in his jaw. "Bill will not be a full werewolf. The cases are completely--"

She grabbed the front of his robes, wanting to physically shake sense into him. "But I don't care, either, I don't care! I've told you a million times..."

"And I've told you a million times," he said, his eyes anywhere but on her, "that I'm too old for you, too poor... too dangerous..."

Her heart was racing, she could think of nothing more to say, nothing that hadn't been said over and over this year, nothing that would make him see that he wasn't alone. She was sure he would just walk out now, leaving her alone and looking mad and desperate. And if he did, that would be the end of it--she would know. She would have to accept it.

He stood perfectly still.

"I've said all along you're taking a ridiculous line on this, Remus," Molly said calmly, as though nothing could be more natural than standing here discussing someone else's love life in front of the entire family.

"I am not being ridiculous. Tonks deserves someone young and whole."

The use of her last name stung again, and she realized that she literally couldn't say anything else. Something huge and poisonous was blocking her throat.

Arthur gave a sad smile. "But she wants you. And after all, Remus, young and whole men do not necessarily remain so."

Remus looked uncomfortably at Bill. He seemed as out of words as Tonks felt, and she wished she'd let him go out, let him nurse his wounds. They could have talked about it privately later. They could have...

"This is not the moment to discuss it," he said. "Dumbledore is dead..."

"Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think that there was a little more love in the world," McGonagall said, in her classroom voice, which invited no argument.

Tonks looked down. For a moment, she'd forgotten that Dumbledore was dead. All the business with Fleur and Bill and Remus... how could she have...

A warm hand touched her shoulder, but she couldn't look up. The hand was tense and shaking. It only stayed for a moment, then fell back to Remus's side.

Hagrid came and told McGonagall that he'd taken care of Dumbledore's body, and she called the Heads of House to a meeting. There was a lot of activity around Remus and Tonks then, but they remained still themselves. Tonks's fingers were aching from holding on to Remus's robes, but her knees were so watery that she was afraid she would collapse onto the stone floor if she let go. She saw the teachers leave, Harry along with them, and the Weasleys (and Luna and Hermione) tighten the circle around Bill's bed.

She closed her eyes. "I'm sorry," she said. "Oh, God, Remus, I'm sorry, that was... I didn't mean to embarass you. I had no business--"

She felt his long fingers on her face, turning it upwards, and then his lips pressed to hers before she could open her eyes.

"I love you," he said, loudly enough that Luna and Ginny looked up, but he didn't seem to care. "I'm not a wonderful man," he said. "I don't know why you love me, and I don't deserve it--"


"But I need it. I need you. And I need to be there for you. If you'll let me."

The tears spilled out of Tonks's eyes, and her nose was running freely. She leaned against his chest, and he didn't seem to mind the mess. "You'll stop being difficult?" she asked, trying to make her voice light.

To her surprise, he laughed. "Probably not."

"Then I suppose I'd best not stop being stubborn."

She leaned back, her face aching to smile, and found him smiling down at her. There was a world of work ahead of them, but it seemed, for the first time, that the gates guarding it had been unlocked.
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lucathia_rykatu From: lucathia_rykatu Date: October 19th, 2006 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)

I remember how sudden the Tonks/Remus scene felt to me in HBP, but your story filled in the background so nicely and now the scene fits so well.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
From Harry's perspective, everything's sudden, because no one tells the poor child anything!
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 19th, 2006 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)
*sigh* That was lovely. There will be an epilogue, won't there? Please? After all this gloom and doom, I'm desperate to see them together, supporting one another. I won't say "happy", considering the circumstances at the school...but surely they deserve a bit of an epilogue?

--La Contessa, still at work.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's still at least another whole chapter!
aimeesworld From: aimeesworld Date: October 19th, 2006 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been following Shades for a few weeks now, after avidly reading Shifts, and have been meaning to tell you how much I love them. This seemed an appropriate time. Your writing is so rich and real and you do action really well. I'm loving how everything is coming together and I hope this isn't the end.

Thank you,
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I'm always leery of action scenes. :)
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: October 19th, 2006 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Finally! Yeah, I don't really have anything else to say, I guess, other than sigh happily.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: October 19th, 2006 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. Exactly. [sigh]
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: October 19th, 2006 06:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, well done!!!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
beceh From: beceh Date: October 19th, 2006 08:45 am (UTC) (Link)
That was really goood! Thankyou very much for writing this! (I can't read anyone elses Remus/Tonks... you've spoiled me lol)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome--I enjoy it.
buckbeakbabie From: buckbeakbabie Date: October 19th, 2006 11:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow.

The real test of a Remus/Tonks HBP story is how it handles this scene. And you make it work so well. All the story has been building to this moment and it fits perfectly. I love this so much, I've read the conversation about ten times already.

Sigh. At last! Well done.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, the story was definitely structured around this scene more than any other.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: October 19th, 2006 11:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Very, very touching ending!

I really like how you did it, and made it all make sense - especially Tonks's outburst. (Not that I ever blamed her, as you probably know, but it's still nice to read it.) And I liked how Remus sort of had an awakening. It was a little sudden, but I think it's realistic, because it all had to build up. Plus, you made it clear that as he was watching them, he was realizing how much he missed it. And how much he missed his Dora.

Very good writing, Barbara. I'm sad this fic is over, but it was a wonderful read.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I definitely wanted Tonks's outburst to make complete sense in context, so I'm glad that worked!
excitedrainbow From: excitedrainbow Date: October 19th, 2006 12:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
My god. I really don't know how you come up this writing, I really don't. That was amazing, and I was totally involved; tears in my eyes, cheering, thumping the table when I reread it (Remus, you've been a complete prat all year), the works. This paragraph was especially moving, immensely comforting and true:

Tonks didn't know the sound she heard--the soft, mournful music that filled the dark night. It filled her with a deep and peaceful ache, and called her to look, to see. She saw Poppy Pomfrey, bent in tears over her patient. She saw Bill, his ruined face quiet and at rest, and Ron and Hermione, bound by some unseen energy that enfolded and healed them. Luna, her large eyes seeming to glow with some deep inner secret, and Neville, sleeping dreamlesslessly, at peace. Harry, wounded and bleeding, but with strength that seemed to be circling around him, filling him. And she saw Remus wracked with pain, bent into his strange and lonely world, wanting to be a part of things, sure he wasn't. For a moment, she felt the connections that brought them all together, the tenuous threads of the oldest magic that made them all a part of one another.

I really hope there's an epilogue for this, the whole fic is mindblowingly good.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was kind of interested in the different ways the phoenix lament might affect different characters. Tonks is all about other people, so I thought it would make her look at everyone else.
From: wychwood Date: October 19th, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
And *finally*! I like the rationale you've shown us over the series for Remus' stubborn refusal to let Tonks in, but I think he was getting me down almost as much as he was Tonks *g*. I feel sorry for the pair of them; they so nearly had it right, but the werewolf business this year has been really hard.

I love Fleur in this scene. I hadn't been overly impressed with her in canon up to that point, but she really was great. With little touches like the "I am pretty enough for both of us" just so we knew it was still her, of course *g*. You've done a good job of filling her out as a secondary character, I think.

I've really enjoyed this story, the ins and outs of it all. It's obvious that there's a lot going on in canon that Harry simply doesn't know about, and I really like the way you've extrapolated.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fleur won me over at the Second Task in GoF, but this scene was definitely her strongest.
alphielj From: alphielj Date: October 19th, 2006 01:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been reading along, but I don't comment very much. I think everyone who writes or reads R/T fics has there own version of this scene in their head and I have to say that I think you are the first to really get it right. It felt so natural, almost as if the dialogue was coming from you rather than another source. The line that really jolted me was when Remus called her Tonks rather than Dora and she feel stung. Very well done.

I'd also like to address the idea that this fic is over. Where did you say that this was the last post? Personally, I was surprised to read so many comments about it being over. There is still DD's funeral and the fact that Tonks gets her pink back. I don't see you as being the type to let such an important moment go without being included into your great fic. So if this is the ending you had planned, I urge you to continue and get through the funeral. If this isn't the end, then huzzah! Bring on the pink!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'd also like to address the idea that this fic is over. Where did you say that this was the last post?

I've also been curious about that, honestly. Yes, this pulls together the hospital scene, but there's a bit more canon left! At least one chapter, maybe two, depending on how it works out.
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aeterna13 From: aeterna13 Date: October 19th, 2006 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a few minutes to spare before heading off to class, and I knew that today would be the famous "I don't care!" scene, so really, I had no choice but to check.

You've been planning this scene out for a long time, haven't you? I can tell. It's utter BRILLIANCE! But I must get to class. I look forward to the epilogue (because there WILL be one).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
You've been planning this scene out for a long time, haven't you?

More planning around it than planning it out, but yeah--it's been the frame that everything else is in.
redlily From: redlily Date: October 19th, 2006 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, teary-eyed me. These crazy kids deserve a couple chapters of fuzzy bunnies and butterflies now.

. . . amusing memories turned bitter and cold.

Heh, that's exactly what I posted in my LJ after reading the 6th book, that this was no longer funny, and it made me sad.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
that this was no longer funny, and it made me sad.

Eeep! I see what you mean!
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marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: October 19th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh. Oh. Oh. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: October 19th, 2006 03:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful. It makes you hope they'll live happily ever after, without a singla care in the world. They won't, but still.
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