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A/n: This is taking place sometime during Harry’s Fifth year. In OotP during the final fight scene, Sirius calls Harry ‘James’. This story explores the deeper mental issues Sirius deals with after being locked up in Azkaban for so long.

 

~*~

 

The doorknob felt smooth and cool in Tonks hand as she grasped it tightly. She had half expected it to burn her skin upon touching it. Her bright chaotic bubblegum pink hair reflected back at her from the simple plaque that graced the door.

 

Sirius.

 

The script was simple, leaving no doubt who lived within. It shined as if smiling at Tonks, inviting her in.

 

How long had she been standing here? Tonks was curious. Tonks was compassionate. Tonks was protective. Especially of order members. And Sirius was family.

 

Tonks constantly wondered if the other Order members saw what she did. The way Sirius would tell fantastic jokes and then look away with a certain wetness around his eyes. Or how he rocked, ever so slightly, back and forth in his chair with a clenched jaw whenever Voldemort was mentioned.

 

No, Tonks decided. They couldn’t see it.

 

Which means they couldn’t help him. But she could, and Tonks felt a pull towards Sirius’ room, sensing that there must be something within it that would help Tonks help Sirius recover from his days in Azkaban, from what life cruelly ripped away from him. 

 

 With that Tonks turned the knob, pushed the door open and slid into the room.

 

The shining nameplate outside had made false promises as the room itself was dark, dust laden, and dank with a musty smell that tickled Tonks’ nose.

 

Tonks felt a wave of renewed determination spark the fuel within her body. She didn’t know how long she had until dinner downstairs ended and Sirius returned to his refuge. She needed to hurry.

 

The walls were covered in hundreds, maybe thousands of pictures both moving and non-moving. Tonks couldn’t help the wry smile that crept onto her features when she saw a section devoted to scantily clad muggle women. Despite the blue-ish cast the room held, red reflected in most of the furniture. Gryffindor blankets, pillows and banners infiltrated any space free of photographs.

 

Another dominant trait the room held was the massive amounts of parchment scattered on the ground and grand bed that showed little signs of being slept in.

 

Tonks side-stepped the clutter filled floor and made her way towards Sirius’ bed. A pile of parchment lay by the pillow, with an inkpot and a quill with chunks of missing feathers next to it.

 

Tonks picked up the stack of parchment, feeling the wrinkled paper take the moisture out of her hands, leaving them dry and old feeling.

 

The handwriting was almost illegible, the letters formed tightly next to each other as if hugging. Or hanging on.

 

Dear James,

 

I made a joke during the order meeting tonight. Remus laughed. Arthur laughed. Dedalus laughed.

 

But you didn’t laugh. I didn’t laugh.

 

Why didn’t we laugh?

 

 

Tonks shifted through the stack, all seemed to be letters to dead order members, each proving  impossible for Tonks to make sense of.

 

Dear Lily,

 

Harry has your eyes. Green. Like yours. But not like mine. Grey .Would you love Harry if he had eyes like mine?

 

 

They were all short, ending in riddled questions.

 

Dear Dorcas,

 

Today I saw you. You were wearing that purple cloak you would always wear when we went to Diagon Alley. I called out your name, because I needed to tell you about a joke Peter had told me. Didn’t you hear me?

 

Tonks quickly flipped through them. Some she recognized whom Sirius was writing to. Others, she had never heard of.

 

Dear Caradoc,

 

Where have you gone?

The last made Tonks’ breath catch and thick tears began to gather rapidly threatening to escape.

 

Dear Marlene,

 

I wanted to see your body when you died. They wouldn’t let me. I still love you, even while you’re sleeping. I still think of you as the bird who managed to beat Dumbledore in that sparring session. James says Dumbledore let you win. I don’t think he let you win. I would have let you win. Would you have let me win? Did I win? Were you wearing my ring when you fell asleep?

 

Tonks put the letters back where they had been. She didn’t know what she expected to find, but it wasn’t anything like this. She suddenly felt a horrible sense of guilt wash over her for coming. Tonks turned away from the bed, setting to leave when she stopped at the wall which had wizard pictures gracing every inch of it.

 

She moved down the wall, taking in every picture.

 

This one was Marlene blowing out a birthday cake.

 

That one was Remus and James wrestling.

 

The one towards the end displayed Sirius, Remus, Peter and James all making obscene gestures towards the camera.

 

As Tonks moved closer to the door, all of the pictures subject became James Potter. Playing Quidditch. Holding a baby Harry. Dancing with Lily. Making a funny face. Casting a spell. Blowing a kiss.

 

Whatever was wrong with Sirius, Tonks felt an increasing sense of hopelessness. Could Sirius ever recover from the events of his life? Was he losing his sanity?

 

Tonks caught sight of a mirror across the room, and though a veil of dust covered it, Tonks saw James Potter staring back at her.

 

Tonks had not noticed the transformation.  But it was common for her to take on the appearance of someone she was thinking of.

 

Prongs!”

 

A choked voice sounded from the doorway and Tonks found Sirius himself standing there.

 

Sirius swayed slightly in the doorway before rushing at Tonks. He collapsed into Tonks’ arms and started speaking so rapidly Tonks couldn’t keep up.

 

Tonks felt her eyes grow wide with a sudden, sickening shock. Sirius thought she was James Potter. One of her first thoughts was how light Sirius was in her arms…the muscle of his youth had wasted away during his time in Azkaban and he was left thin.

 

She wrapped her arms around Sirius and shuffled them towards the bed where they sat side by side. Tonks brought her eyes up to meet Sirius’. Tears ran paths of devastation down his sunken cheeks. His tears were not thick, but rather thin like himself.

 

“I haven’t seen you since Azkaban,” Sirius’ voice sounded strong, excited even despite his tears.

 

Tonks forgot for a moment that she appeared as James Potter and said slowly, “Since Azkaban?”

 

“Don’t you remember James?” Sirius eyes took on a very distant look, and yet he was still staring directly at Tonks, “You would stay with me, whenever the dementors came, to protect me. You would tell me stories about our schooldays to help me fall asleep.”

 

Tonks remained frozen. She could not claim that she had ever felt such heartbreak in her entire life. And it wasn’t even hers.

 

“I’m always with you, Sirius.” Despite hearing James Potter’s deep voice intone the words, they sounded so horrifically cliché to Tonks’ ears.

 

 

Sirius’ slight smile quickly turned into a deadly seriousness, “I know, mate. Whenever I’m with everyone else, trying to be how I used to be, I know you’re there helping me through it. But it hurts Prongs, pretending hurts. I only have you.”

 

Tonks began to feel like an intruder of the worst kind. This was something private, far more private than she should ever see. But she couldn’t reveal herself and she also could not bring herself to leave Sirius.

 

“You have Remus,” Tonks reasoned, “Everyone in the order loves you, Sirius.”

 

Sirius lapsed into a silence, his hand gripping tightly on Tonks’. Tonks swore she could hear him humming a soft tune, ever so slightly.

 

A sliver of light that snuck through the closed curtains illuminated part of Sirius’ face when he turned towards Tonks’ again, “Prongs, the first words you ever said to me are the ones I’ve lived my entire life by. You probably don’t remember. I said to you, ‘I’m Sirius Black. There isn’t a member of the Black family who hasn’t been in Slytherin, and you know what they say about Slytherins.’ And you said, ‘Well, it’s a good thing you and I are going to be Gryffindors’.”

 

Tonks watched with a mixture of fascination and sickness as Sirius began to rock back and forth on the bed repeating  ‘It’s a good thing you and I are going to be Gryffindor’s’ over and over.

 

Faintly, Tonks’ heard her name being called from somewhere down below in the house. Probably Remus wondering where she was. This was enough to yank Tonks away. What was she doing? She needed to leave. Sirius didn’t need this, and no doubt this night would cripple any chance of recovery for quite awhile.

 

“Sirius,” Tonks said quietly, “It’s time for me to leave.”

 

He immediately stopped his chanting and looked desperate, “Prongs! You can’t! The dementors haven’t left. The dementors haven’t left, the dementors haven’t left….”

 

Tonks stood up from the bed, slowly making her way towards the door.

 

“Can I come with you?”

 

His voice sounded cracked and broken.

 

“I don’t want to live. Not without you. Not without Marlene. It’s too difficult. I’m tired Prongs.”

 

Tonks willed her voice to sound strong and reassuring, “You have to. For me and for Marlene you have to live. And for Harry.”

 

Sirius repeated faintly, “For Harry…”

 

Tonks put her hand on the doorknob. The cool metal brought her back to the moments before she had entered the room. She wished she never had.

 

“Wait,” Sirius said weakly, “Prongs. You have to tell me a story, remember? So I can sleep.”

 

She turned around, the parchment shushing her as her feet moved upon it. Sirius had moved so he was lying in the bed. He looked so small and fragile surrounded by the massive blankets and pillows.

 

Tonks tried to think of any story she had ever been told about the Marauders. Her brain finally touched on one.

 

“That time,” Tonks’ voice began to match the feebleness of Sirius’, “That time when we tried to dye McGonagall’s hair pink.”

 

The irony was not lost to Tonks as she pictured her  own hair.

 

Sirius apparently didn’t need her to go on and instead began filling in the holes, “That was priceless! I can’t believe she caught us. You were so sure that she wouldn’t be able to sense anything was wrong. But I told you! I said, ‘James, she’ll know’ but you didn’t listen. Still though it was hilarious…”

 

Tonks watched as he went on for another couple of minutes before his words became faint and muddled. Finally, a snore came from his lips.

 

Tonks left the room as quickly as she could, feeling her own features begin to return. She closed the door quietly behind her and gazed once more upon the name plate that hung on the door.

 

Sirius.

 

~*~
A/n: I'd really appreciate any reviews/responses to this story letting me know what your thoughts were :) Thank you for reading

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