Forgot to add an intro to this one! Hello dear readers! Remember that I own nothing and PLEASE read and review!
Also, it was recently brought to my attention that I should update the summary to this tale, if anyone has a suggestion for a good summary that would capture attention, please send it over! I suck at writing summaries.
The pair were on their second pot of tea, the table strewn with biscuit crumbs and used tissues, when Dumbledore unexpectedly arrived with Harry in tow; Tonks took a hasty leave, retreating to shiver in her socks on the porch. She felt...eerily cleansed; Molly had somehow woven through her broken and discordant thoughts, shining a light on the worst of the tangles. As she watched the stars wheel she felt gaspingly clear, like a diver finally arriving at the surface after a deep plunge. She had briefly pondered the possibility that something had been dropped into her drink, but Molly had drunk the same tea as her and the protection charms in her necklace hadn't let on to anything. No, most likely it had come down to simple kitchen-witchery, a skill that was more instinctual than learned. A witch or wizard who was adept at it could soothe, heal, and guide with nothing more than simple foodstuffs, seemingly unmagical tonics, and an unconscious opening of a space reminiscent of a sacred circle. The practice was ancient, often flowing through female conduits - most often through mothers - but did occasionally bless males. Until now, Tonks had never been the recipient of such a space; she felt like she had touched a live wire, but instead of a blast of pain she had experienced a gentle cleansing of her emotional passages.
She hadn't had any idea that Molly was so adept at it, and a kitchen witch was the most powerful on their home turf. She had cried, something that she rarely did in front of others.
She dug in her pocket for her tobacco pouch, automatically suppressing a prickle of tears, though she knew it was a little futile. There were so many things to be afraid of at the moment, but she had to keep herself together; "That shite is catching dear, catching" Molly had intoned with Tonks' hands clasped in her own. Remus, damn him, had made his decision to run off into the woods and hide, and now it was time to make hers. She loved him like a brother, and the search for his salvation had been so heady it had gotten caught up in the fight for her own. The parts of herself that felt just as lost, scared, out-cast, and insecure as Remus cried out for him, but he wasn't the right person so be sharing that with. Molly had reluctantly acknowledged that her and Hermione were a good match, going so far as to indicate that she hoped all of her children would find such for themselves. Though Hermione was young, so was Tonks, the both of them trying to function far above their age. Molly pointed out that for all of Tonks' bluster and foolery, she was also focused, intelligent, and powerful; growing up a metamorph with a Muggle-born father had made her resilient, passionate, and self-reliant; the same could be said for Hermione.
Tonks smiled, they were a good match, weren't they?
Tapping her pouch on her closed fist, Tonks took a couple steps onto the lawn and turned to look up at the upper stories of The Burrow; the light was still on in Charlie and Percy's room, where Bill and Fleur were staying, though it was well past midnight. A light in the twin's room suggested that Harry may be bedding down in there. At the very top, a wavering warm glow peeking behind the curtain hinted that Arthur may be waiting up for Molly. Tonks tracked further around to the other side of the house, nearly tripping head-first into a rose bush to spy the diamond-paned dormer window of Ginny's alcove; the panes were dark, not even a candle flicker to indicate an errant girl reading well into the night. Her chest ached to not somehow see Hermione's face beckoning her up; she longed for the young witches scent, that delicate balm redolent of the Hogwarts library on a hot summer afternoon, when all the windows were thrown open and the dust and ink swirled with rising pine sap and blooming flowers and deep notes of warm stone. Tonks closed her eyes and tilted back her head, inhaling the sharp night air until her head spun, a bitter-sweet sensation of being full to the brim with contradiction, with fear, and wonder, and gratitude, and pride, awe, fortitude, disquiet, apprehension, hope, and love.
Love. There wasn't any way that she was sleeping alone tonight, not when the summer was rapidly coming to an end and she could literally be sent to the four corners of hell at the blink of a (magical) eye. She thought for a minute about somehow sneaking past Molly and up the stairs, or maybe getting her broom and climbing through the window...but she had just promised the matriarch that she wouldn't spend the night in Ginny's room, and it would be very poor form to defy her after she did the work to untangle her. After all, she had to believe that Ginny Weasley had some innocence left to protect, but considering the number of owls that had been arriving bearing letters from a Dean Thomas, there was a good chance Molly was, in fact, drastically mistaken in her efforts to shield her daughter.
With a huff, Tonks scratched at the back of her head and pulled her cloak tighter around her thin frame; she really had lost some weight, and upon inspection her hair was seriously gross. She sniffed self-consciously at herself, sneering at the mildly repugnant smell; she could take a quick rinse in the river, or go back to her tent and sit in the hip-bath she always carried in her extended knapsack, but a spark of inspiration tickled her tongue and she grinned, tucking her tobacco pouch back into her cloak pocket and picking her way out of the garden and back into the house.
Molly had just blown out the lamps and was one step up the stairs; "Oh, hello dear" She said, her warm tone mismatched with the suspicious quirk of an eyebrow.
"Sorry to bother you again Molly, but could I use your bath? The one I have with me is quite a bit smaller and I kind of smell."
The older witch hiccuped a laugh, "I wasn't going to say anything, love, but I'm glad you came to it yourself. Of course you can." Molly turned and started climbing the dark stairs, "Straight to bed afterwards, Tonks" She yawned over her shoulder, a tired finger waving in the air. Slowley, she watched as Molly disappeared around the bend and listened with her eyes closed to her creaking footsteps spiraling up into the abyss. Finally, she heard the click of a bedroom door from the heights.
A wicked grin slipped across Tonks face, her hair flushing a deep magenta. Oh yes, there wasn't any doubt that she had to hold it together, the heavy items on her "to do" list were already jostling for position on her heart, but all of that could wait until the morning. She sent a silent wish for Remus, to find himself, to find peace, and above all else to make it the fuck back home, and let it fall away with every step up the stairs.
Right now, she had things to attend to.
More importantly, she had one very special witch to attend to.
Hermione gently awoke from a deep sleep to find Tonks hovering over her, a finger to her wickedly grinning lips. She shot a glance at Ginny sprawled in abandoned slumber on her bed a few feet away but Tonks insistently led her out of her bookcase-bed and into the hall with a gentle hand on her forearm.
She grumbled, but Tonks shushed her until she groggily allowed the metamorph to lead her blindly up the stairs to the third floor, practically tip-toeing the entire way until they reached the bathroom.
"Wha-?" She stuttered, but still Tonks shushed her with a gentle caress to the young witches lips. Something in her gaze made Hermione's legs want to turn to water, her heart thumping far too loud in the ringing silence of the house; she watched mesmerized as Tonks stepped back and reached for the door handle, pulling Hermione forward by their entwined hands to see what lay inside.
Hermione stood, absolutely stunned at the candlelit vision of swirling steam and lush greenery focused around a fragrant stone bath filled to the brim with crystal clear water. The ceiling had been enchanted to mirror the summer stars, the old floorboards transfigured to deep loamy moss. It felt like a dream, to be suddenly standing looking at such beauty on the third floor of The Burrow in the middle of the night, but there was Tonks, leaning on the doorframe in her tank top and cargo pants, arms crossed across her chest and grinning like that first night she had unexpectedly kissed her all those months ago in 12 Grimmauld Place.
No, it wasn't a dream, but as she forcefully captured Tonks' lips in a searing kiss, already reaching to the hem of the metamorphs top, she realized that something, or someone, could still be a dream even while awake.