My eyes dart up from the cup of tea I’m sipping as I watch him step into the kitchen. Our eyes meet briefly before he looks down at the floor again, crossing the room to deposit his empty cup in the sink. “It’s nearly time,” he says, and it’s almost a whisper, as though he’s telling himself, not me.
“Was your tea weak enough?” I ask, watching as he nods and swallows.
“Yes, thank you. Has Ella left yet?”
I shake my head and crane my neck to see the clock on the wall above the dining table. “No, Mum is due any minute. I’ll get her.”
I step into the living room where Ella is playing with the pieces of Remus’ new chess set.
“Ellie, leave Daddy’s chess set alone; Grandmum is coming to pick you up, get your rucksack please.”
She sighs and rises from the floor. “OK” she relents, grabbing her little bag full of clothes and toys. I extend my arms for her and lift her up, resting her on my hip. We smile at one another and I walk back into the kitchen, taking in Remus’ nervous expression as I set the bag by the kitchen fireplace. He’s standing in the exact position he was several moments ago, clearly apprehensive about his transformation tonight.
“Oy, let’s say goodnight to Daddy, all right?” I ask, approaching him, watching his head snap up and a fake smile appear on his face. He opens his arms, pulling us into a tight embrace, resting his forehead against mine and Ella’s.
“My two best girls,” he whispers, nuzzling our noses.
I was so lost in the comfort and safety of the moment that I didn’t hear Mum Apparate into the kitchen. “I wish I had a camera,” she says, smiling as I turn around.
“Oh, Mum, hi. Sorry, didn’t hear you.”
She smiles in return. “That’s obvious. I’m glad I was here to witness, but sorry I had to disturb, such a beautiful moment.”
I feel my face heat up, and watch as Remus’ does the same. I hope Mum goes home and tells Dad how clearly in love my family is with one another. “Ellie, say goodnight to Daddy.”
I pass her off to Remus, feeling tears threaten as I retrieve her bag, unable to watch as he embraces her tight and bids her goodnight. I hand Mum El’s rucksack and listen as I hear Ella’s feet touch the floor again.
“Night night, Mummy,” she says, tugging on my shirt.
“Goodnight, Twinkle, we love you. I’ll pick you up before lunchtime, OK?”
“Good girl,” I lean in close and press a kiss to her cheek before whispering in her ear. I watch as her face erupts into a huge grin and she runs over to Remus, motioning for him to bend down. He laughs when, instead of a kiss, he receives a loud raspberry on his cheek.
“Yuck,” he says, smiling, both wide his eyes and his lips, as he wipes his cheek, causing Ella to exhibit her deep belly laugh.
“You’re silly, Daddy!” she giggles, giving him a real kiss goodbye.
“Be good for Grandmum and Granddad, all right?” he asks, sweeping her messy hair away from her face.
“Yep! Goodnight Mummy, goodnight Daddy.”
Mum extends her hand for Ella and throws the rucksack over her shoulder. “Be safe,” she replies, looking over at Remus. “See you tomorrow, Nymphadora.”
I watch as Mum and Ella Disapparate, and Remus instantly looks at the clock. “I’d better say goodbye to you as well,” he says, rubbing his hands over his face.
I shake my head. “No, not goodbye, just goodnight,” I answer, crossing the kitchen to meet him, stepping back into his arms again. “I’m worried about you,” I say, resting my head on his chest. “I’ll be thinking of you all night.”
He threads his fingers through my hair and I feel his chest rise and fall as he sighs. “I wish I could say the same. I’m sure I’ll be thinking of you as well- how much I want to rip-”
“Stop,” I say, pulling away from his chest. “That isn’t you. Just know that I will be here in the morning, awaiting your safe return to me, and Ella and I will have all day to take care of you tomorrow.”
The old grandfather clock chimes, startling both of us, causing Remus’ expression to toughen. “That’s my cue,” he replies, taking my face between his palms. “Let me look at you once more before I go.”
His thumbs sweep over my cheekbones causing me to close my eyes softly. “You are so beautiful. How did I get so lucky?”
My eyes open and catch the faintest blush across his cheeks. “Hmm,” I begin, tapping my bottom lip with my index finger, “Well, it just so happens that, even though you’re quite daft about it, I find you positively dashing.”
“Is that so?” he asks with a laugh.
“Mm hmm,” I reply, standing up on tip toe to grab his collar, pulling him nearer as I kiss his lips. I can feel the hesitancy in him, urging his restraint.
“I have to go,” he breathes against my lips, kissing me briefly once again before stepping around me toward the basement door. “Same as before, if anything happens-”
“If you know what’s good for you, you won’t finish that sentence,” I say, forcing a smile on my face. “Everything will be fine. I love you, and I’ll see you first thing in the morning.”
“I love you, too,” he answers, slowly descending the stairs, not turning around as I close and magically seal the door behind him.
I feel it’s going to be a long night, and begin to brew another pot of tea.
I don’t know what time it was that I dozed off, but Kingsley’s voice startles me awake sometime after midnight.
I scramble off the couch and kneel down in front of the fireplace, sensing the panic in his voice.
“Look, Tonks, I know it’s a bad night for you, but there’s been a series of attacks staged all over Britain. We need you.” If it weren’t for the completely serious look on his face, I probably would have declined his ‘offer.’
“Who is it?” I ask, Accio’ing my cloak from the hook by the door.
“Who isn’t it?” Kingsley replies. “We’ve had Werewolf attacks, Death Eater attacks, and reports of Inferi swarming households.”
I nod, feeling the familiar threads of fear weaving their way through me as they did years ago when Voldemort was still around. “OK, where to, Boss?”
“Apparate over to Harry and Ginny’s old flat in London- there’s been a fire. See if you can recover anything,” Kingsley answers me, his telltale booming voice is not quite so confident tonight.
“Right, I’ll report in by dawn.”
“Thanks, Tonks. Apologise to Remus when you see him tomorrow.”
He disappeared from the fireplace as I debated writing a note to Remus. Surely I’d be back by morning. I set a timing charm on the basement door, not allowing it to open before sunrise, and Apparated into London.
As I arrive at what once was Harry and Ginny’s flat, I’m surprised by the level of devastation. Certainly I hadn’t expected this! The old brownstone is completely destroyed, and with every rapid heartbeat, I’m glad that Harry and Ginny were nowhere near this building.
The charred smell is overwhelming, and thin wisps of smoke still rise up from the destruction, curling and meandering through the night sky like a kite. Muggle Authorities have already been here, as there is yellow caution tape denoting a crime scene. The Death Eaters are long gone.
I carefully approach the building, staying hidden by the shadows, and cast the appropriate spells, checking to see if there are any hexes awaiting me if I step into the ruins of the old flat- no curses linger, so I carefully tread through the remains, cooling the ground in front of me as I walk.
After monitoring the area, doing some preliminary searches, and exhibiting some crowd and damage control, I decide to return to Headquarters and see if I can be of any further assistance, and get an update about what else has gone on tonight.
I quickly learn from Kingsley that all of the rogue Death Eaters- those sprung from Azkaban, and those who are running around ‘free’ like my dear Uncle Lucius led an army of Inferi on civilians throughout Britain. Dozens of people were killed during the attacks, and many more injured. On top of that, Fenrir Greyback and his pack of Ferals were up to their old tricks and attacked two families, killing them in the process. I’ve been waiting for weeks for that son of a bitch to surface so I could have a fresh lead to follow, but there was nothing to go on. Somehow I know this is going to come back to Harry and I ‘failing’ to apprehend him. I’m sure to get a severe reprimand.
I dread the thought of telling Remus that Greyback has resurfaced, and I’m sure we’ll both be putting in extra hours at the Ministry. Remus will, no doubt, be after me to be more careful, and he’ll probably reconsider trying to have another baby. I don’t fancy going home to dump all sorts of bad news on him in the morning-
Oh bugger! Blimey, it’s after dawn, he’ll be retransformed already. I got so caught up in my paperwork, and listening to updates as teams came back in that I totally forgot the time. My heart thunders as I race through the building to the Apparition point. I’m a horrible wife. What if something happened? Sod it all!
When I reach the atrium I Apparate home, hoping Remus will understand.