Two days later, I sat in an Order meeting, praying for news on where the three members were. I wasn't anywhere near religious, but I still prayed. At this point, I would do whatever it took to get Tonks back safely.
"As you know, the previous mission was extremely dangerous," Albus started. "One of the most daunting tasks we have attempted so far."
There was a collective intake of breath from everyone seated around the long table as he paused. Many Order members were gathered, waiting for news of the three scouts who had been sent, but few members, if any, had as much personal interest as I did. I was bitter and resentful, unfairly feeling that they were only here to satisfy their curiosity, not to find out if their life was ruined or not.
"Sirius Black, Nymphadora Tonks, and Alastor Moody all knew full well what they were getting into," he continued. "They were trained successfully and we had full confidence in their ability. Together, they had more advanced knowledge of disguise and deception that I could have ever hoped for. However, the amount of security the Death Eaters had was heavily underestimated. That was my fault and my fault alone." He paused again, guilt and pain showing in his expression, the twinkle now completely gone from his eyes. "Immediately, their presence was recognized…The means we had used to disguise them failed instantly. Their bodies were found earlier this morning, badly burned, but still recognizable."
Albus stopped, letting the news sink in. Molly instantly started crying into Arthur's shoulder, while everyone else in the room shifted uncomfortably.
It didn't quite hit me until Remus asked bitterly, "They didn't have the decency to kill them quickly? The Death Eaters had to burn them?"
"Unfortunately," Albus replied. "The spell is a cruel one, but not quite classified as an Unforgivable Curse. They will still be given a proper burial of course, but their caskets will be closed."
I shoved my chair back and darted quickly out of the room, not wanting to hear the details of their funerals. A funeral was the last thing on my mind. A funeral meant this really happened and that it was permanent. It meant that I had to face the death of the one person I had always wanted to spend my life with.
I hurried up to the room that Tonks and I share—had shared—and collapsed onto the bed.
"This can't be real," I muttered to myself. "It just can't be."
I couldn't see. Too many tears were blocking my vision, sticking to my eyelashes and flooding my cheeks simultaneously. I buried my face into a pillow—her pillow, with her smell—as I tried to muffle the sound of my sobbing.
I had never been a pretty crier, and this was by far the worst pain I had ever felt. Within seconds her pillow was covered with my tears, make-up, and snot.
Soon there was a soft knocking on the door accompanied by Remus' voice saying, "Please? I need to talk to you."
I barely heard him. Everything around me made it feel like I was in the drunken haze of a nightmare, spinning faster and faster, quickly becoming out of control. I was so disoriented I felt for sure that if I moved from the bed I would get sucked into the floor.
I flicked my wand in the general direction of the door, not moving my face from the pillow. Unfortunately, my emotions got in the way. I hit a vase on our dresser—my dresser, now, I guess—and it exploded loudly as glass flew in every direction.
Unfortunately, I was too far away to get hit.
My mind clouding with self-destructive thoughts, knowing that I could not bear to live without Tonks, I quickly forgot about Remus.
"I'm coming in," a concerned Remus said through his own tears as he magically unlocked the door.
He shut the door silently behind him and just stood there. It seemed like a half of an hour went by as he listened to me cry on the bed before he moved a step towards me. With a flick of his wand he fixed the vase, too. Somehow he managed to be level-headed even in such a situation.
I finally turned my head to the side, ignoring the fact that my entire face was puffy and splotched red, and looked at Remus.
The seemingly always in control Remus had tears running freely down his face.
I noted bitterly that, of course, he was a pretty crier. His face wasn't red and he didn't have snot everywhere. He didn't need to be a messy crier for me to believe him though; the pain he felt was evident in his eyes.
"He promised," Remus whispered, finally moving another step forward.
He walked over to me and gingerly sat himself at the foot of the bed, burying his face in his hands as if trying to save himself the pain of looking out into the real world.
"Who?" I asked, curiosity momentarily overriding my pain. "And he promised what?"
"Umm…" Remus was suddenly uncomfortable through his tears. He brought his hands down to his lap, fiddling with his fingers anxiously as he stuttered out, "Sirius...he, uh, promised me that nothing would happen, that he…that he would never—"
Sobs interrupted his sentence and he was unable to continue. His hands returned back to his face and his shoulders violently shook.
"Leave you," I interjected, momentarily under control of my wave of tears. "Sirius promised he would never leave you, didn't he? Just like Tonks promised the same to me."
"Yes," answered Remus softly. "I should never have believed the reckless git."
"But you trusted him to come back safely," I reassured both him and myself at the same time. "We all assumed that all three of them would come back safely. Logically, they should have been fine."
Remus smiled wryly. "Well, you know what happens when you assume—"
"Remus Lupin, even at a shitty time like this, that joke is still not remotely funny!" I chastised, as I smiled in spite of my mood.
We sat in silence for a few minutes. It wasn't necessarily uncomfortable, but it most certainly wasn't comfortable. How do you soothe somebody that just lost the person that means the world to them? Especially when you're so angry at your partner for going off and dying herself!
"So, you and Tonks?" he asked with a small smile, breaking the silence.
"Yeah," I responded. "You know, she guessed that you and Sirius were together."
"Really?" he looked surprised, almost fearful.
"Yeah, but then again she is—ugh, was—really good at reading people. And I mean, you two were always hanging around each other. I guess I would have noticed too if I wasn't so wrapped up in her… Gods, I'm going to miss her," I said as I started sobbing again. "She was everything to me."
"And he was to me" Remus responded.
He was never very good at expressing emotion, leaving it bottled up until it exploded, but then again, this wasn't the highest moment in Remus' life. He did one thing Remus Lupin almost never did—he burst into an angry ramble. "What am I without him? How are we supposed to be okay? Why the fuck did Albus send them into this mission? Sirius wasn't even supposed to be allowed out of the house. But no, the night he finally gets to leave, he gets himself killed. "
Unable to answer any of his questions, I conjured up two glasses of fire-whiskey. With a second thought, I vanished those glasses and summoned two full bottles.
I handed one to Remus, which he took without a second thought. Now was no time to be rational, especially when liquid pain killer was involved.
"Cheers," I nodded to Remus as I took a large swig straight from my bottle. Remus did the same.
We sat there, side by side, drinking and crying, Remus surprising me with how much alcohol he could handle and I surprising him with how much it took me to get even remotely drunk.
Eventually, Remus nodded against the bedpost in a whiskey-induced slumber.
Right before I was about to doze off, I remembered something Tonks had told me once and I sneered to myself, "Maybe this time I really can drown myself."
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