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Chapter 33
Shake, Shake, Shake, Rattle and Roll


Heroes are admired for their brave and noble deeds. Martyrs suffer death rather than give up their faith or principal. Sometimes, they’re the same.




Shake




“I really don’t much care anymore,” said Sirius irritably.

“I think you do care,” answered Remus raising his voice an octave in frustration.

“So do I, Sirius,” added Felicity.

“And I,” chimed in Tonks. “You’re a stubborn cuss, with a bad temper and you’re starting to act the old fart, I think.” She tapped the table with her wand, which suddenly made suspicious noises resembling gas escaping a posterior.

Felicity along with Remus roared with laughter until Sirius couldn’t help but join in. “Oh, all bloody all right!” he shouted in disgust. He threw a handful of chips onto the pile on the table. “I call! Now show me your friggin’ cards.”

Remus took his time, a look of triumph spreading across his face crinkling his features. “I knew you couldn’t resist, Padfoot,” he said. He laid down three swords with relish. “Beat that, mongrel.”

The group had been playing wizard poker for most of the evening. At two in the morning, they were starting to yawn between hands. A mischievous grin appeared on Sirius face.

“I think he’s got the better of you, Remus,” said Tonks watching him. She nudged Felicity with her elbow.

Sirius sat up straight and put down one card at a time. “I’ve got Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff.” he paused to stick his tongue out at Remus, “and the phoenix.” He sat back in the chair and crossed his arms. The figures of the founders on the cards were all clapping excitedly as if they knew that he’d won the pot. “You thought that I was bluffing. Ha!”

Remus shook his head. “I was convinced that you had nothing.”

Felicity rose to make another pot of tea. Though they were up late playing cards, this was no party. The Order had been brought on high alert; something had happened though they didn’t know what it was as yet. There’d been a cryptic message from Shacklebolt that said there was bad news and that they should stay awake at headquarters. Tonks had arrived just after eleven having been watching the Malfoys. She’d been told to leave her post though no one was coming to relieve her. That in its self was strange because someone had watched the house for months at all hours.

Both Remus and Felicity had arrived shortly after that. They’d all been trying to enjoy themselves but there was a worried edge to their pleasure. “It’s the waiting that I find difficult,” said Remus to no one in particular.

Sirius shot him a knowing look. “Try years of it,” he frowned.

“Sorry, Padfoot,” sighed Remus.

Tonks patted Sirius on the knee and rose to stand with Felicity to help her make the tea. Felicity was lost in thought watching the water come to a boil muggle fashion. She linked arms with Tonks. “Sometimes it’s easier to wait when you’ve a task to do that stretches time. My Master Tong says that watching water boil can calm the soul.”

“I wonder what it’s like, Felicity,” said Tonks with a little wistfulness in her voice. “To be you. You’ve been so many places and done so many things.”

Felicity kissed Tonks on the cheek fondly. “You and I are both the special ones, my dear, with our unique gifts.”

“I’m hardly unique.” Tonks absently touched her hand to her pink spiked hair.

“But you are! You’re more unique and special than I am, Tonks. You were born the way you are. You can become anyone, disguise yourself or disappear within a crowd, all with your own magic. What you are is amazing.”

“I suppose.” Tonks looked unconvinced.

She was so young, her heart shaped face and lively eyes were so charming. Felicity thought that Tonks’ usual assured demeanor was a disguise. “You’re lovely, you know that?” she said hugging her and kissing her cheek.

Tonks smiled shyly.

The front door slammed shut waking up the portrait of Sirius’ mother who yelled “Traitor! Traitor!” but was instantly quieted by the person pounding down the hall toward them. Everyone froze watching the door.

Mad-Eye Moody swung through it and stopped. He starred around the room in silence. Tonks put her hand on her hip and shook her head.

“Well?” demanded Tonks. She was never one to be intimidated by the old codger’s gloom.

“That crazy cow at Hogwarts has attacked Minerva. She’s up at St. Mungo’s. It’s pretty bad. She took four stunners. Bloody cowards, the lot of them!”

Everyone’s mouth dropped.

Remus was the first to recover. “Will she be all right?”

“I don’t know.” Mad-Eye’s one good eye settled on Sirius. “And Hagrid’s gone off to hide in that cave of yours.” He growled softly. “This whole thing’s going to hell in a hand basket. Only Snape’s left up at Hogwarts and you all know how I feel about his nefarious nibs.”

“Cor,” said Tonks finding her voice. She whistled. “You’re quite the doomsayer, aren’t you?”

“I’ll take some of that tea if you’re making a pot.” He hadn’t moved from the entrance but watched, as they all did in silence as Felicity tipped the kettle and poured the scalding liquid into a large teapot.

Tonks walked over and grabbed Mad-Eye’s sleeve pulling him toward the table. “Come on, then and tell us what’s happened.”

As they all settled down around the table gripping their cups, Mad-Eye related the story of what had been happening at Hogwarts. He was disgusted with how Dolores Umbridge had cowardly tried to hustle Hagrid out of school in the dark. “They attacked the poor man’s dog, for pity’s sake! It’s a crime.”

Finally, after the telling, Mad-Eye focused his good eye on Felicity. She met his gaze unflinchingly. If he was suspicious of her, he held it privately. “Dumbledore’s arriving in London tomorrow night or the next morning. He and your father are off looking for something important. Things are grave at the school and he’s rightfully worried. He’s said that you’re to get your dragon arse back to Hogwarts by morning to make sure all hell doesn’t break loose.”

Tonks rolled her eyes and pushed his shoulder in disgust. “And I imagine that Dumbledore worded it just as colorfully,” she said sarcastically.

“Words to that effect!” he insisted fiercely. “I’ll not tolerate your sass, miss. It’s begun. Voldemort is about to make his move and I’m guessing it’ll be here in London this time. He’ll be going after the prophecy, I’d bet my life on it. You’re to go to St. Mungo’s and watch over Minerva. I’m fetching Kingsley who’s been busy elsewhere. We’ve got someone at the Ministry watching that room at all hours. It’s become more dangerous to watch the Department of Mysteries, if that’s possible.” Both his good and his magical eye rolled in separate direction causing him to look mad as a hatter. “We’re meeting here at headquarters at eight o’clock in the evening to wait for Dumbledore and to decide what to do about that loon up at Hogwarts.” He then sat back looking glum, done with his telling.

No one said anything for several minutes while they sipped tea in silence. All were wondering if it really had begun, after all.




The next morning, early, a fog had settled in the streets. It was still dark as Remus walked Felicity toward the spot that had become their place to say good-bye. “I’ll miss you terribly, my love,” he said. His arm held her waist that he squeezed to emphasize his thoughts. “We’ve been together more in these last weeks then in the whole time that I’ve known you. I’ve gotten used to having you with me.”

“It seems years already since that meeting where I first saw you.” She squeezed him back, stopped and hugged him. “I’ll never be sorry.”

“Sorry?”

Felicity smiled up at him though what she felt was not happiness. She was mourning him already inside. “We may be apart for a long time, Remus.”

“The term’s almost ended. Harry should be finishing his exams up today, in fact.” He laughed. “If the doom doesn’t descend on us as Moody seems to think then you and I might spend most of the summer in Wolvin.”

“That would be nice.” Her voice was faint and unsure. The fog swirled was heavier than usual and moved in the slight wind sluggishly.

“What’s wrong?” Remus was worried again. She’d been hiding a deeper sadness since their conversation days before in Wolvin. He knew that she held no hope for their relationship but he just couldn’t accept it. “Tell me, Felicity, before you leave. What’s so wrong? Why are you acting as if all is lost when you’ll only be away for a short while?”

“Most likely, I won’t be returning,” she answered calmly.

“What?” She might as well have slapped him he was so stricken.

“I’ll have to return to Tibet whether Voldemort appears or not. The Ministry may discover my true nature if I return to Hogwarts. Dolores Umbridge might not let me return. She hates me and knows that I’m close to Albus. Remus, I doubt that I’ll be allowed to stay in England once more people know what I am.”

Remus shook his head. “Don’t go then.”

“I have to go.”

“No, you don’t. Stay here, Albus will understand.” He felt a panic rising in him. He couldn’t live without her. They were in love and should be together always. That’s what people in love should do.

Felicity felt his panic and knew she had no choice, not if she loved him. It was cruel, otherwise. She resolved then to release him. It was inevitable. She was only prolonging what must happen. She took out her wand. “I’ve got to go. I want to go. The students might need me. I must do my duty, Remus. You of all people know about duty.”

He sadly nodded his head. “I know.” He felt a pain of longing. “I love you.”

She brought her hands around his neck and smiled. “You’ll not even notice that I’m gone, luv,” she whispered kissing him tenderly. He closed his eyes and for a moment the world stood still. There wasn’t a sound, though they stood on a street in London. His heart calmed down and a warm feeling of peace surrounded him.

When they released, Felicity stood back from him quickly and apparated to the gates of Hogwarts before Remus could focus on her face. She was gone.

Remus stood looking at the spot she’d left for several minutes. He felt stunned, changed somehow but he couldn’t quite say how. The pain of longing was gone. He shrugged and rushed back to Grimmauld Place. He couldn’t shake a feeling of foreboding that something awful was happening that would present itself abruptly before he was ready. It was the story of his life.



Shake




Felicity arrived at the gates of Hogwarts blubbering like a madwoman who’d lost everything. In a way, she had. The stone gate stood before her and she had only to walk through it but she found that she couldn’t. There was a stone bench next to the gate dedicated some past wizard that she’d never heard of. She read the inscription through her tears. Life’s journey is long and arduous but eased by a friend’s companionship. Plopping herself on the bench, she convulsed in more tears, holding her face in her knees. It was over and the tears that flowed came almost with a joy of release. She’d released her greatest love.

“I am always amazed at your capacity for self-indulgence, Miss Wood,” said a familiar voice.

Severus stood beside her, tall, dark and with a look of the utmost distaste on his face. She wiped her tears quickly and grinned at him. “I always feel that it’s best to let the emotions out, Severus. Otherwise, I might become an angry old crone wearing black and glowering at everyone around me.”

He smirked down at her, of course. “Rubbish, as usual, Felicity.”

Severus moved over and sat beside her with a sigh. “Black told me that you’d be coming.” He looked sideways at her and shook his head in disgust. “You look frightful. What’s the bloody cawler-walling about?” He handed her a handkerchief.

Blowing her nose, she laughed and ignored his question. “So, what have I missed? I’ve been gone ages. Did you even notice?” She reached out and touched his hand knowing that he’d missed her and would never in a million years admit it out loud.

“It’s a free-for-all in that school. She’ll not let you return, Felicity.”

“You could put in a good word for me.”

“I suppose,” he said slowly. “Though I doubt it would do you much good. My house has become her roving band of enforcers. Our blonde hero is leading them, of course.”

“Of course, he is.” She grimaced. “I take it that there are spies everywhere and nothing can be said in the open then.”

“Quite right.” He reached over, held her hand in his and fixed his black eyes on her.

I’ve missed you.

Have you?

Don’t be coy, dragon.

Dumbledore wants me here.

I’ve heard.

You must get her to accept me back.

Perhaps.

Severus?

Yes?

I’ve missed you, too.


He broke off from her eyes but she could still hear him agree with a sadness that spoke volumes. They both rose and Snape tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. “Let’s go see if the bloody woman is awake, then if you’re done being pitiful,” he sneered.

Walking across the lawn in the early morning, with the dew still glistening on the grass and the sun rising lifted her spirits. The world was beautiful, that at least, was a constant. They said nothing to each other because nothing need be said. They strolled along enjoying the morning and ignoring what would surely be a dismal future.

Dolores Umbridge, headmistress, Madame Inquisitor, and loathsome pink troglodyte met them in the grand hall as if she expected them. She did not look at all friendly.

“So, miss,” she began immediately. “You think that you can just waltz in at the end of term, do you?” There was a slight hysteria to her that Felicity hadn’t seen before. The woman had been under pressure, was obviously frustrated and therefore treacherous. Felicity removed her arm from Severus’ who stood impenetrable next to her.

She straightened her back but kept her posture humble. “I’m sorry, headmistress. I’ve been ill. I never meant to be gone so long.”

Umbridge narrowed her gaze on Felicity’s humble look. “There’s nothing to forgive for you won’t be returning.” She looked at Severus searching his face that remained impassive. “Unless, someone helps me enter a certain door.”

“I’ve told you,” said Severus keeping his voice even and in tight control. “I have no idea how to enter the tower, m’am.”

Umbridge gritted her teeth and Felicity was alarmed to see a wild twitch in her eye. The woman was becoming unhinged, driven mad by frustrated ambitions. “You won’t be returning, miss Wood. You’re sacked and that’s final.”

“At least let me pack my things, headmistress.” Felicity fixed her voice to appear submissive and repentant.

Umbridge’s eye twitched again as if a vein might burst there. “Your things! Yes, you, too! Your door was closed to me.” The crazy woman had tried to enter Felicity’s rooms while she was away and couldn’t. “I want your things out of here this very day. I want no trace of you. No door in this institution will be closed to me, do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, m’am,” said Felicity. “I’ll gather my things as quickly as I can manage.”

Dolores turned on her heel abruptly and strode off.

They both watched her go. Finally, looked sideways at her with a sardonic look. “I know a cave nearby that you could go to, my dear. There’s a large oaf there now that would take you in. He likes dragons.”

Felicity laughed despite his intended meanness. “Just what I need, dear Severus.” She winked at him mischievously. “I’d love to be somebody’s pet. You’re an evil man.”

“So some have told me. Come on then, miss Wood.” He took her arm again and they strolled together slowly down the corridor toward the dungeon. The students passed by them with curious glances. It wasn’t every day that they saw two professors walk arm in arm at Hogwarts.

“You didn’t try very hard to speak for me, Severus,” said Felicity.

“No, my dear, I didn’t, did I?” He smiled satisfied. “You might be missed but you’re still dangerous.”

“Then why was I sent back here?”

They stood at the door as she performed the spell to unlock her rooms. He waited until they were inside and the door was closed to answer her. Silently, without expression, he grabbed her, pulled her to him and tipped head back to bring his face close. Her heart jumped in surprise. He could be so thrilling. “You were sent back here because I asked for you to be,” he said harshly. “You’re very presence is a threat to our cause. You’re too attractive to the Dark Lord, too distracting to certain members of the order and I made it clear that you would be in my way. I’m very important to the cause, my dear.”

She half closed her eyes waiting, watching him. She knew what he would do.

He kissed her hungrily with a heedless ferocity that she embraced with an equal vengeance. She trilled in response. He was just what she needed to ease her pain.




Shake




Remus walked swiftly back to the house. For a while he puttered in the kitchen fixing tea, being anxious, feeling adrift. Sirius sat by the fire staring into it. They said nothing. Remus couldn’t shake a cold, unpleasant emptiness, and a weird void of feeling that had come upon him. Without a word, he lumbered upstairs and crawled into bed, falling asleep instantly.

By two o’clock, he rose and came downstairs to find Sirius still sitting in the same spot. He went to put the kettle on, waiting for Sirius to stir from his marathon contemplation of the fire.

“I’ll fix you lunch, Padfoot,” said Remus finally. “You don’t look as if you’ve slept very well. Have you eaten anything?”

“I feel fine, I always look like this, now. Nothing ever changes and I’m forever cooped up in this prison of a mausoleum.” He frowned miserably.

“We’re just trying to keep you alive, my friend.”

“Sometimes, being alive isn’t good enough.”

“Well, sometimes you’re a miserable bastard that should stop feeling so sorry for himself!” shouted Remus. His frustration and anxiousness had boiled over. He was just sick and tired of Sirius grumbling all the time. “You have to stay alive, you horse’s arse! You’re all I have left. We’ll capture that traitor Peter and you’ll be cleared. If you can just be patient for once in your bloody life, you’ll be free again.”

Sirius looked up surprised. “What set you off, mate? Fight with the wife?”

“What’re you gaffing about?” Lupin sat down next to Sirius by the fire. He’d completely forgotten about making lunch and was now thoroughly out of sorts. “I just want you to understand, Padfoot that we’re in this together and we’re both suffering loss and loneliness here.”

Sirius suddenly realized that something was wrong with the world as he’d painted it. “What are you on about? You’re not alone. You have Felicity, you have me and you have that whole friggin village filled with lovely werewolves, damn you.”

For once, a real clarity of what was going on came to Lupin in a flash of insight. “I think Felicity’s gone, Sirius, she as much as said good-bye to me this morning.” He let out a heavyhearted sigh. He should feel worse than he did. “And as for Wolvin, yes, it’s a lovely village filled with wonderful people but I don’t belong there. I belong with you, here, finishing what was started long ago.” He smiled fondly at his oldest and dearest friend. “You and I are as much as married, mate. Bizarre as that is, James brought us together and he holds us together still through his son.”

“Harry,” whispered Sirius.

“Yes, Harry, who we’ve sworn to keep safe and we will.”

“He’s probably taking his exams now. Remember?”

“All too well.”

“I didn’t do too badly at History of Magic, I recall.”

“Yes, remember how you…” There was an ear splitting scream from upstairs that sent them both bolting for the stairs.

Remus was close behind Sirius as they ran up two flights to where they could now hear Buckbeak screeching and throwing about his room in a rage. Sirius opened the door and there was blood and feathers everywhere. Buckbeak lunged for him but recognized him at the last minute and turned away. In his hysteria, Buckbeak flailed about the room trying to fly. There was a large gash at his wing and chest and he was bleeding profusely.

“Calm him, Sirius!” Remus called out. “He’ll bleed to death if we don’t stop up the wound.

“There, there, Buckbeak,” cried Sirius trying to calm the poor beast.

It took them most of two hours to get Buckbeak settled, the wound sealed and the wreaked room cleaned up. By four o’clock, with no food in either of them, Remus and Sirius were exhausted and starving. As they came down the stair and straggled into the kitchen, they were greeted with the intoxicating smell of Chinese food.

Tonks was standing at the table unpacking white boxes from a bag. “You lads never have any food in this place so I thought you’d be hungry before the meeting.” She stood by the feast smiling at them.

“Huzzah!!!” they both cried raising their hands in the air.

“You’re a good girl, Tonks,” cried Sirius immediately tucking into one of the boxes.

Remus reached out in his ravenous joy at the smell of food and spun her like a top. He wrapped his arms around her and danced around the kitchen lifting her into the air. She squealed with delight. He set her down and spontaneously kissed the crook of her neck saying, “You don’t know how happy you’ve made us, luv. We’re absolutely famished!” He sat down to the table and looked through the boxes.

Tonks stood stunned watching them, her body tingling. It took her a minute to gain her composure. Remus had literally taken her breath away. “If I’d known that you were that hungry,” she said finally. “I’d have brought more food.”

Remus reached out for her hand. “Come sit and join us, Tonks.”

She obeyed, still breathless.



Rattle




By nine o’clock the meeting was in full swing and everyone was talking at once. Kingsley Shacklebolt, Tonks, Mad-Eye Moody, Sirius and Remus were actually the only ones present. Two members, Tomasina Tall and Boris Leechmark were guarding the Department of Mysteries and yet another member had been posted at the Malfoys again. Though there was much conversation, little was being accomplished or decided on. Albus Dumbledore was due to arrive at any moment.

Mad-Eye was again pontificating on the ineptitude of the Ministry with Shacklebolt pursing his lips trying not to yell when Tonks did yell. “Shhhhhhh! I hear a voice,” she shouted above the fray.

They all quieted. A muffled sound of someone cussing in several languages was issuing from a drawer.

Sirius jumped up suddenly and slammed over to the other side of the kitchen. “Shite!” He yelled. “I’d forgotten that I’d put Snape’s mirror in a drawer.” He looked sheepishly over at the group. “He and I don’t get on, as you all are aware.” He pulled out the mirror and held it at arm’s length while Snape’s face spewed every swear word under the sun.

“You’re an imbecile, Black!” he finally finished. “I’ve been trying to reach you for half an hour!”

Black refused to get sucked into yet another argument with Snape. “What’s happened, Snape? Shut it and tell us. I’ve the Order here.”

There was a moment while all watched Snape’s livid face reconfigure to its usual stoicism in the thirty-centimeter mirror. “I’ve been trying to reach you because I believe that Potter has somehow become delusional and is headed for the Ministry of Magic.”

Most in the room yelled, “What!!??” and stood up. They all moved to stand nearer the mirror that Sirius still held.

“I said that I believe Potter has been persuaded by the Dark Lord to go to the Department of Mysteries. When he bothered to try at Occlumency, I saw visions of the room there.”

“You bastard! You should never have stopped teaching him,” yelled Sirius livid with anger. “You put him in danger on purpose.”

“For Merlin’s sake, man, let the man tell us what’s happened!” said Remus harshly.

Snape’s face had become both calm and inscrutable. “Your precious charge has broken rule after rule at this school, not unlike his father. Now, he’s gone and got himself sucked up in the delusion of going to the Department of Mysteries, most likely urged by some false reason to save someone there.I believe that he thinks it's Black. He's an idiot! Potter is forever seeking glory in saving someone whether they want to be saved or not. The Dark Lord is no one to scoff at, people. Your prized protégé has been led to his doom and has taken us along with him. He’s a stupid crowd pleasing egotist.”

There was a commotion on both sides of the mirror. Someone grabbed the mirror from Snape as Remus wrestled the mirror from Sirius. “Really, Padfoot,” reasoned Lupin. “Harry’s in great danger if what he says is true.”

“Remus,” said the fluted voice of Felicity. Her face looked tired and concerned. “Remus, listen.”

“Felicity,” gulped Remus.

“Hermione and Harry went into the forest with Umbridge, then some other students went in after them. Severus said that Harry tried to warn about something. He said that he had Padfoot in the room that he’d been seeing.” Remus tried not to think about how he should be seeing her with his heart broken and yet it wasn’t, in fact, broken. “I went into the forest after them, but they’re gone, Remus, they’re not in there.” She bit her lip. “Severus thinks that they’ve gone to London. He thinks that Harry thinks that Voldemort has Sirius. It’s a trap. Those children are walking into a trap.”

“But how is that possible?” asked Tonks from behind Remus. “They’re too young to apparate! They’ve only just started lessons.”

Felicity’s face wrinkled in pain. “They’ve taken the thestrals.”

“How do you know that, Felicity?” demanded Remus.

“I heard them call. They were in flight. Remus, Severus is right. They’ve gone to London.”

Snape grabbed the mirror from Felicity. A caricature of an angry potions master came into view. Snape was beside himself. “Lupin, listen to me. Potter has endangered us all! If he dies at the hands of the Dark Lord because of your lack of faith in my deduction, I will personally use an Unforgivable on your sorry hairy hide. Dumbledore says the boy must live and the idiot has consistently put himself in harm’s way. Do you not wonder why the prophecy has the name of Potter and the Dark Lord on it? Have you never wondered why Dumbledore wants us to guard the bloody bottle, or why the Dark Lord wants it? It’s that good for nothing, egotistic little grandstanding twit that’s important. The Dark Lord must not hear that prophecy!!!!!”

That galvanized them. The Order of the Phoenix officially adjourned and Snape’s mirror was thrown down on the kitchen counter. Shacklebolt immediately took charge as the senior member and they gathered robes and wands racing to the door. Mad-Eye turned to speak into a tiny light that he held in his hands. “There’s no answer. Tomasina!” he shook his head. “No answer.” Real worry creased his face.

At the door, all were ready in mere minutes, including Sirius. Mad-Eye turned on him. “Sirius Black you aren’t coming! Damn you, man!”

“Don’t be an idiot,” said Black with a steel edge in his voice. “I’m coming.”

Remus put his arm on his friend’s shoulder. “No, Padfoot, you can’t endanger yourself in this way.”

Sirius Black pushed his hand away. He was a force of nature in his vehemence. “I WILL NOT BE CODDLED!” he raged. “HARRY IS IN DANGER! I’M GOING WHETHER YOU BLOODY WELL LIKE IT OR NOT!”

At that, the portrait of Sirius’ mother started a screaming tirade. Mad-Eye and Shacklebolt growled and bolted out the door.

Tonks reached over and grabbed Sirius’ hand. “Come on, then, cousin,” she said with a crooked smile. “Let’s escape your mother together then.”

Remus brought up the rear. He was worried but there was nothing that he could do about Sirius. Secretly, he was glad.



And Roll!




They arrived at the Ministry and knew instantly that something was wrong. Aurors have a secret way of entering the offices without being seen. The Auror’s office, however always had someone present, day and night and there was no one there.

Tonks ran over to the reception desk and found Leech crumpled in a corner. He’d been hit in the chest. His wand still in his hand, his eyes wide open with a look of horror that Tonks knew she would never forget. “He’s dead,” she said, her voice hollow. “He’s dead.”

“Come on,” growled Mad-Eye who ran out the door with Shacklebolt and Sirius.

Remus bent over Tonks. “Come, Tonks,” he said gently reaching for her hand. “We’ve a job to do.”

She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. “We were in school together,” she whispered. “He asked me to the Christmas Ball.”

“Tonks, think of the living, luv,” said Remus knowing full well her pain.

She jumped up then, finding strength in his words and they ran for the door.

Rather than run for the elevator, everyone ran down the stairs. It was many flights but the lifts couldn’t be trusted. It was eerily quiet on every floor. Usually there would be a few lone souls throughout the building working in the evening hours but no one was about.

“They’re bound to be in the Department of Mysteries!” yelled Mad-Eye cursing as he hurled himself down the flights of stairs.

They all stood at the landing catching their breath. The doors of the hall before them, they listened. Distantly, they heard yelling. There was a battle of some sort nearby.

“They’re in the room of the Veil!” shouted Shacklebolt terrified and running for the doors. With his wand out, he motioned for Tonks to take the next door. “On my mark,” he ordered.

She nodded.

“Now!” he shouted and they bolted through the door.

Tonks immediately focused on Lucius Malfoy, his blonde mane of hair was difficult to miss. She hurled a charge at him without pause. She jumped down from their high entrance and was immediately attacked by her aunt Bellatrix whose face was contorted in a mad anger. She ducked a curse and rolled out of the way while blasting the witch with a stunner as she went.

Remus focused on Malfoy, who had recovered all too quickly from Tonk’s stun and was moving toward Harry. The boy looked all right but Neville Longbottom, nearby, did not. He could see Harry struggle toward Neville. Remus threw a spell with vehemence toward Lucius who was still moving in that direction but missed. The floor exploded very close to Harry and he realized with terror that he could have killed him in his efforts to get Malfoy. He scrambled down after them. One of the Death Eaters shot a stun out nowhere and he dropped his wand. Shacklebolt hit his attacker who went flying through the air as Remus groped for his wand. It was mayhem. Spells and curses were flying everywhere but Remus was focused on reaching Harry. Malfoy had both Neville and Harry in a stranglehold and all Remus could think about was that his legs couldn’t fly fast enough to reach them. It was only seconds but just as he’d gotten close enough, Harry had shouted an Impedimenta curse and blasted Malfoy backwards. Remus stood between them then and shouted for Harry to run.

It was then that Dumbledore appeared out of nowhere. Remus had wrapped the now unconscious Malfoy up with a roping spell and looked up as he heard Neville yell that Dumbledore had come. He’d never seen him so angry. The power of the great wizard filled the room and many in the entire giant area stood watching as he calmly waved his wand and wordlessly wrapped the now terrified Death Eaters up with long tendrils of magic ropes. Only Bellatrix battling with Padfoot seemed to be oblivious to the wizard’s presence.

In quick and mounting horror, Remus stood transfixed as he watched his best friend shot in the chest by Bella. He would never forget the look on Sirius’ face, he would forever relive the guilt that he could have been closer, could have prevented it, could have…Sirius was gone through the Veil in an instant.

It was only as Harry went flying past him down the steps toward the Veil that Remus became painfully awake. He raced after Harry and caught him just as he’d jumped onto the dais. Harry roared at him in protest, but he held onto the boy, wrapping his arms around his chest and dragging him from the dais. He didn’t remember what he said. His pain was too great. His heart was breaking in two and he held onto Harry as if his life depended on it.

“It’s too late, Harry,” he kept repeating over and over, not realizing if he’d said it out loud or not. Harry was screaming out his rage, struggling to get away from him. Remus kept his voice calm, even as Harry bellowed that Sirius could not be dead. Inside he was thinking the same thing. He could not be dead. Sirius was not dead.

Remus held onto Harry, dragging him to the stairs and away from what had become a battle between Bella and Shacklebolt. Sirius, where are you, mate?

Gone. He was gone.

Remus tried to reason with Harry and kept a hold onto his shoulder as they gathered Neville Longbottom from the stair and he undid the spell on the poor boy. His body and mind had become numb. His heart was shattered, beyond repair. His life was ending even as he tried to stop Harry from surging after Bellatrix.

“She killed Sirius!” Harry shouted as he wriggled from his grip and raced to attack Bella. She was up the stairs and out the door away from Dumbledore’s binding ropes in a flash. Harry was in hot pursuit. Remus ran after them but Dumbledore stopped him.

“Take care of the others, Remus,” said Dumbledore, his voice tight with a menace that was beyond any power that Remus had ever seen before. As Harry raced from the room behind Bella, Dumbledore purposely went after them.

Remus turned stunned to gaze at the room. He stood at the top of the stairs and took it all in. Shacklebolt was picking himself off the floor and dusting himself off. Mad-Eye was walking back into the room with Ginny, Luna, Hermione and what looked like it might be Ron, covered in a strange flesh-colored mass. The Death Eaters groaned and cursed struggling against their unbreakable ropes.

It was then that Remus saw Tonks crumpled in a pile of ruins. She wasn’t moving. Her pink hair was dusted to a gray and he could see her lovely young face gray and stone like. He jumped the stairs three at a time racing for her.

“Tonks,” he cried, picking her up in his arms. She lay like a rag doll. “Tonks, please, Tonks, not you, too.” He kissed her cheeks, his tears mixing with the dust on her face. “Please, luv, don’t leave me alone.” He cried out to her, kissing her again and again in his terror and realization that he was alone and that Sirius was gone. He was beyond redemption, beyond caring, and the misery swallowed him with no end. “Tonks,” he whispered. He drew out his wand, touching it to her chest. “Envenerate!” he sobbed with his very soul.

Tonk’s body shivered and she gulped for air as it rushed into her lungs. She woke up to find Remus Lupin crying over her. She was enveloped in his muscular arms. He was kissing her face. She’d died, surely, and gone to heaven.

“Remus?” she said hoarsely.

In his relief at her voice he hugged her tighter, kissing her forehead tenderly. “Ahhh, darling Tonks, I thought I’d lost you.”

She smiled into his chest and managed to utter, “Ouch, too tight…”

Remus laughed. “Sorry, are you all right?”

Tonks couldn’t help herself. The man was a dream, so endearing, so tender and so strong. She knew that the stone had crushed her foot and she couldn’t feel one of her hands. “I’m fine, Remus,” she said. “Just hold me for a minute longer.”





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Just take a breath for the next little ride, my friends. We’re nearly there. I definitely would like to hear what you thought of this chapter. And,*smods* forgive me but canon rules.:--) Pru

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