A/N: Yes. I am alive. Just buried under piles of homework. I'm sorry for the delay...see bottom for more.
Disclaimer: Don't I wish.
Deicated to Keladyrie, happy belated dear.
A huge thanks to my Betas: Keladyrie, Tayz, Cyropi, Fuego, and Dave, love you guys.
Tonks latched onto Remus' hands and pulled him up, careful to keep one of her hands linked with his. She pulled him along up the rickety kitchen stairs, whispering instructions in his ear, and tried toignore the curious stares and whispers of the Order members standing in the entrance hall. Apparently Kingsley had done more than go to find Madame Pomfrey, and Tonks made a mental note to give the Auror a piece of her mind the next time she saw him. Remus had enough to deal with now without Order members questioning every time he left his room.
They made their way past the portrait of Mrs. Black, tiptoeing as not to wake her. Tonks didn't really think Remus could handle her accusations on top of everything else. She was still having trouble remembering to keep guiding him, unaccustomed to having responsibility for someone else' safety, and with all the stairs involved, Tonks was sure one of them would end up falling down. Miraculously, they managed to make it up to Remus' hallway with only a single accident where Tonks had tripped and wobbled dangerously over the edge of the stairs, but Remus had continued walking unaware and had pulled her back just in time.
Molly and Fleur were waiting outside Bill's room nervously, both of their eyes red and puffy from sobbing. Fleur stood slouched, her usual straight posture ruined by exhaustion and her silvery hair piled on her head in a sloppy bun. Tonks quickly hurried them along the last yard to Bill's door, released Remus, and hugged the French girl in a rare show of understanding and sympathy. No matter what their differences were - and there were quite a few- Tonks could understand the panic radiating from Fleur's eyes.
A bang interrupted the moment, and all three women turned to strae at Lupin, who, in his panic about loosing his guide so suddenly, had run face first into the wall. Moving away from the crying women, she grabbed his hand again and squeezed it in apology, his only response was a relieved sigh. As they reached Remus' door Molly appeared next to Tonks and touched her elbow. Tonks turne to Remus and mumbled a quickly, "Molly needs to talk to me. Just stay put, I'll be right in, just give us a moment. He nodded, and she led him to a chair in his room. Once she had returned to the hallway, she left the door ajar, just in case, and looked at Molly.
The older woman attempted to speak, but just ended upblowing her nose in an already sopping handkerchief, the corners of her bloodshot eyes peeking over the fabric. It took her a minute, but she eventually regained her composure and craoked out,"I'll send Poppy up in a few minutes, dear."
It was odd, Tonks thought, that not an hour ago they had been drinking tea in the kitchen, laughing about one of Fred and George's back-fired pranks, no idea what was about to happen.
Tonks nearly broke down right then- but instead, she merely nodded and slipped through the door after Remus. Thisleft Mrs. Weasley to make her way back to Fleur, who was slumped against the wall in silent tears again, still not convinced her new husband was going to live through the night.
When Tonks had shut the door behind her, she turned to face Remus. He was still in the chair, and his death grip on the armrests visbily relaxed when she assured she was beck. His eyes roved wildly in their sockets, completely unused to the darkness they were trapped in.. It cut her to see him like this, but hopefully Pomfrey would be in soon and could tell them if there was anything to be done.
A little seed of hope began to grow in her chest.
Grabbing Remus' hands, and momentrily forgetting he would have no idea what she was about to do, she pushed him to the bed and sat him down. The sudden movement caught him by surprise, and he tugged her down with him. They landed with a soft thump on the worn bedspread, arms tangled together and legs hanging off the small bed. Remus immediately began to apologize.
"Oh Merlin, Nymph, I'm sorry. I'm so clumsy. I'm not used to…everything"
She poked his chest lightly and sat up, patting her mid length -today- hair back into some semblance of control. "Talking about wood to a wand-maker, Remus; and don't call me Nymph."
A smirk fell across his lips, making him look oddly younger, "Whatever you say, Dora."
"And don't call me D-"
A knock interrupted her and she jumped, sending herself crashing to the floor. Remus, apparently guessing what had happened, chuckled and reached a hand over the side of the bed to pull her back up. Gratefully, she latched on and heaved herself to a standing position, noticing for the first time the rips and blood staining the werewolf's clothes. The torn fabric hung from his slim form and his trousers ended in tatters near the foot of the wooden bed-stand, making him look even more gaunt than he actually was.
The knocking sounded again, this time followed by a gentle, but insistent, voice. "Remus Lupin! If you and Ms. Tonks are doing something in there, in your condition, well, I'm appalled. You should know better." Here, the voice lowered to a sigh, and you could tell the speaker was rolling her eyes. her voice trailed away into a murmur, and they could only hear snatches of sentences, like 'protection' and 'to young'.
Remus blushed and Tonks snickered quietly, patting his knee and mo moving towards the door. Treading lightly across the floor, she straightened her clothes and tried to look a little dignified. Swinging the door open, she slumped as she recognized Madame Pomfrey, in her all white, matron-uniformed glory. The nurse looked her up and down, and apparently satisfied, marched into the room. "Now, what seems to be the problem? If it's anything like Bill Weasley, you'll be going to St. Mungo's in the morning, Remus."
Setting her bag down at the end of the bed, she didn't wait for an answer before starting to wave her wand over her new patient. Tonks stuffed her fist in her mouth to keep from laughing at Remus' uncomfortable expression as the medi-witch tugged at his shirt. "Come on, off with it. I'm a professional, Lupin, not your girlfriend."
Tonks, deciding this was enough torture for one night, gently broke in. "Nothings' wrong down there Madame, just a few scrapes and bruises I'd guess. It's...well…it's his eyes."
Promfrey looked surprised for a moment beforegentlyeasingRemus down n thecusionsand running her wand overhis face instead. "Yes, well then, I'll just run some tests and be back in the morning."
"Remus? I'm going to go find Arthur. I'll send him up to help you change." He nodded gratefully, until he realized this would leave him alone with Pomfrey, and she could see him frown sullenly from under the nurse's elbow. Tonks snorted and slipped from the room quietly, shutting the door behind her.
Searching for Arthur turned out to be more of a job than planned, and by the time she had found him out in the garden bumming a cigarette off Mundungus as "an experiment, and you're not to tell Molly",the nursehad already left; leaving strict instructions with Molly and Fluer in Bill's roomthat both patients wereto stay in bed untill she arrived back in the morning to bring them to St. Mungo's. Leaving the Weasley patriarch to deal with a disheveled and exhausted Remus, she had hurried back downstairs and was searching for a decent book to read to the werewolf.
This too, was a daunting task in itself. The Black library was an enormous compound of literature; from Dark Curses and pureblood history to Greek Mythology, the room contained centuries of Black collections. Nearing the end of her frayed patience, Tonks chucked another heavy leather-bound book over her shoulder, where it landed with a dull thud on top of the steadily growing mountain behind her. Thinking the whole thing a waste of time, she pulled out the next book and flipped the cover open hopefully.
It was a cookbook. Or at least, to her tired and strained eyes, it appeared to be. Confused and fairly rattled, she re-examined the faded green script emblazoned on the first page. 'Black Family Cures and Recipes; by Samara Cutter-Black' still stared back up at her. Curiously, Tonks cracked it open to a random page in the middle and winced as the binding cracked under the pressure. A few pages fluttered to the floor, their ink and crème paleness contrasting strangely with the greyness of the tiles underfoot.
Kneeling down, she shuffled through the worn parchment carefully. Gruesome moving black and white diagrams and pictures littered the pages, ingredients and tables squeezed along the edges, cross outs running over other instructions in disarray.
The first picture that was still legible showed two babies attached near the hip being ripped apart by a spell. It shifted along the process slowly, depicting the separation with amazing and horrifying detail. One gradually started to shrivel up, the separation from its twin and necessary vital organs killing it. The other grew into that of a small boy, who danced around the remains of his brother cheerfully.
The next was a crude representation of a shriveled and wrinkled hand thinning out and stretching until it reached the suppleness of youth. The words 'Beauty-Renewal' were scrawled across the top in spiky blue ink.
A six fingered hand. A baby being drowned in a basin. Crazed expressions. A headless man.
Snapping the book shut, Tonks drew in a few rapid breaths before grabbing another random book and fleeing the silent library, up what seemed like innumerable stairs. By the time she had reached Remus' room again, the Auror was panting and clutching a stitch in her side. The haggard woman slid herself down the wall and closed her eyes.
Even if her Auror training had covered these types of artifacts, Tonks couldn't help the images of blood gushing from the children's wounds and bones snapping through their flesh that flashed through her mind at a rapid pace, moving so fast all that remained was dull red blur and a throbbing migraine…
She was sitting under the old willow tree she used to play in as a child. Remus sat next to her, holding her hand with one of his and propping a book of Greek Mythology up against his knee with the other. He was reading aloud, and she recognized the plot of the myth Narcissus and Echo.
Sunshine floated gracefully in patches of gold through the airy branches of the weeping tree, warmingher face with its gentle caresses. A breeze occasionally stirred the leaves and a few fell around them. Tonks reached up and plucked one from Remus' hair and he smiled, squeezing her hand before continuing the story.
Suddenly, his smooth voice was interrupted by those of Fred and George, who had bounded up and stood in front of them, shielding the sun from her eyes. Shadow swept across Tonks and Remus, who was looking up at the twins curiously.
"Tonks! Look what we can do!" And suddenly, Ginny was standing behind them holding a knife, and they were attached at the hips. Ginny began to chop away at the attachment, crying when it refused to give away.
Blood spurted from the wound and before she could even open her mouth to scream, Remus had covered it with his hand and was dragging her backwards, into a shadow of the tree, where eyes glowed in the darkness. She struggled against him pitifully. He had suddenly become stronger than her. She looked up at him fearfully and instead saw Kingsley, swaying on the spot and crying as he dragged her backwards.
And then, he was Remus again, his eyes fogged and unfocused once more, his mouth quirked in triumph as he reached forward and pushed her towards the mysterious creatures staring hungrily from their shadowy depths, and she wobbled in the last stream of sunlight for one precious moment, before falling backwards and being consumed into the inky blackness...
"Tonks! Come on now, Tonks, wake up, love!" Hands were on her shoulders, gently shaking her from the strange dream. The hands became more insistent now, shaking her roughly and lightly slapping at her pale face. Her eyes shot open and started processing her surroundings immediately. Arthur Weasley knelt in front of her, brown eyes reflecting his worry.
"You screamed. Are you-" A loud cry from the door next to her interrupted him and he swore quickly before offering her hand up.
Somewhere in the space of time between the shout and his offering, Tonks' brain had finally finished its analysis of the situation. She was still slumped outside Remus' room, with two books curled under her arms. And if she was outside of Remus' room,that meant that the scream had come from inside…
Tonks shot up from the wooden floor, completely ignoring Arthur, and flung open the oak door next to her.
Remus lay in heap by the bed, tangled in the white cotton sheets and clutching his knee. At the loud bang of the door bounced resoundingly off the wall, his head snapped up and his eyes roved blindly about before coming to a halt about three feet to her left.
"Arthur! What happened? I heardTonks scream and you were shouting, and I tried to get up. Is she okay? Where is she?" His voice sounded a bit hysterical and it scared Tonks even more than the dream. Remus was always the calm one. Even earlier, when he spoke of being blind, he'd had his usual detachment from the situation.
Approaching him quietly, she knelt by his side and he whipped his head around as the floorboard creaked under her. Gently prying the blankets from his strangling grasp, she began to unravel him, one sheet at a time, careful to avoid his knee. With one hand, she reached up and grabbed his arm. "I'm right here Remus. I'm fine. I just had a nightmare."
"But you screamed-"
"It was just a silly little dream! Nothing to worry about. Now get back to bed, you great lump, or Pomfrey will be out for my blood. And not just for donations this time!"
"Remus, bed. Now!" Molly stood in the doorway, hands on her hips and glare trained on Tonks, as if it were her fault the werewolf was on the floor- which it technically was. Her glowing brown eyes watched as the Metamorphagus helped the blind man climb back under the covers in the old four poster bed, her eyes knowingly as Tonks tucked Remus in with a whispered, "We don't want you falling out of bed again."
Bustling over to the bedside table, she poured out a vial of amber liquid from a flask inside her robes and shoved the tiny glass potion container under the pink-haired woman's nose.
Tonks delicately sniffed the liquid, a habit she had acquired during her Auror training. She couldn't recognize the warm, inviting fragrance, and looked at Molly curiously. "Why do I have to take a potion?"
Molly chuckled in response and finished topping off another glass. Raising hers quickly, she clinked it against Tonks' and downed it in a single gulp. "Not a potion, love. Brandy. Thought we could both use some. G'night."
Tonks watched the woman slip from the room, swaying slightly, her own glass still untouched in her hand. Since when did the red head keep brandy in her pockets? A tug at her sleevemade herjump slightly, sloshing a bit off the drink over the edge of the vial before realizing it was just Remus. Turning towards him, she grasped his hand lightly, her voice confused and slightly concerned as she gestured their joined hands after Molly. "What was that all about?"
He grinned at her cheekily. "No are you going to drink that? She ddin't seem to think i needed one too.'
Tonks laughed lightly in reply, feeling a bit punch drunk herself, and lifted her glass to his lips for him. "Here's to us."
Remus' lips curled around the glass and his eyes became a bit clearer as he swallowed, the burning liquid doing its job. "To us."
A/N: Yes, this chapter was basically setting up plot points. Hmm, there are two in here, did you spot them? Guess in a review, and if you get them right, I'll decicate the chapter to you next time! I'll have the next chapter...well, I can't actually guarentee anything. I'm co-authoring another fic and that takes up most of my free time, but i'l try guys. I will.
Thanks for allthe reviews last chapter! I didn't really expect any...Thanks to: kiss-of-cuteness (thanks for taking the time, Sierra), sexyface (nice pename! lol), Loziret, notoriousreviewer, astraeos (love ya, Lego.), animeluvr8 (Anwser my Pm, Jess!), Cherryripe, Radiant, TrinityDD, Flavagurll (MUAH!), Mix'n'Match3, TrubySCS3, xanya-forever (Gulp. Hmm..sorry, dear.), caity-b, and to Tayz, my wonderful co-author.(call me, damnit.),
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