Prompt (the full prompt): 18: "In a wood full of princes, freedom is a kiss"
Pairing(s): Tonks/Ginny, mentions of Tonks/Remus and Harry/Ginny
Word Count: 2,240
Warnings (if any): Not fully canon-compliant.
Disclaimer: All things Potterverse belong to J. K. Rowling.
Harry is deep in conversation with Sirius Black and Professor Lupin (she still thinks of him as Professor sometimes, when she’s distracted). Ginny reminds herself not to stare, trying hard to keep her attention on Nymphadora Tonks, who is telling Hermione a humorous story about a mishap that occurred during auror training. Tonks has long red hair that reminds Ginny of her own, and she wonders why anyone would willingly choose to look like a ripe tomato. It does seem to attract people, she begrudgingly thinks, though not always the right ones.
Hermione sees her glancing down the table and gives her a meaningful look. “Tonks, show us your noses again,” she suggests, her voice high and overly cheerful. She raises an eyebrow and nods to Ginny, a silent reminder.
Tonks grins broadly and turns her nose into a pig’s snout, and Ginny can’t help it; she laughs. There is something about Tonks that can take Ginny away from her troubles.
Remus is talking to Harry about James; he and Sirius are both grinning. Tonks loves it when Remus smiles, an expression so rarely seen on the man. It transforms his face in a way Tonks can’t seem to manage – not for herself or Remus.
She has launched herself into yet another tale of horror in auror training; Ginny seems to like hearing them, and it is not as though Tonks will ever run out of embarrassing moments. Her entire life is embarrassing moments.
Later, in the upstairs corridor, Tonks catches Remus sliding into his bedroom. Touching him gently, she whispers to avoid alerting the house of her troubles. “Are you ever going to say goodnight to me, Remus?”
This is his fake smile, the one he puts on for the world at large, the one that does not hide his tired eyes. “Tonks, I....”
She smiles sadly. “I know.”
As she heads for the stairwell she catches sight of Ginny, peering out at her from behind her door. “Tonks, can I ask you something?”
Tonks feels her stomach clench and isn’t entirely sure why. “Sure,” she says brightly, grinning in the dark.
Ginny has a devious smirk. “Are all men so difficult?”
Her grin fades. Ginny is so small; she can’t possibly be having trouble with boys already, can she? Tonks looks at Ginny’s hair and remembers Bill and Charlie Weasley; she looks at Ginny’s wide eyes and remembers them darting towards Harry Potter. She cocks her head and grins again. “You bet.”
Tonks takes a careful sip of her tea. She’s being careful a lot these days; she can’t remember the last time she’s broken something. Odd that she stops breaking things once someone breaks her.
“Don’t worry any more about it,” Molly Weasley says comfortingly. “Remus will come around. In these times, you’ve got to be close to people. He’ll come to understand.”
Ginny enters the room and stops short, her eyes wide. “Tonks.”
“Wotcher,” says Tonks, but it has lost its cheer. She tries to smile, but she knows she looks pitiful. If only she could manage to color her hair, at least, people might not realize how much is wrong.
“Ginny, go and check on the boys, won’t you, dear,” says Mrs. Weasley firmly, waving her wand and creating a wet washcloth which began to wash the table.
Ginny frowns, not taking her eyes off Tonks. There is a determination in her eyes, something in the set of her jaw, that almost startles Tonks, and she waves a hand in what she hopes to be a friendly manner. “I’m all right,” she says, lying, of course. “Just a little tired, that’s all.”
Ginny nods, her face disbelieving. “Good to see you,” she says, and leaves. Tonks almost wishes she hadn’t; the sight of young Ginny reminds her of better days, group dinners and funny stories. Days when Remus was still talking to her. The thought brings tears to her eyes.
Tonks has shown up to assist in creating protection spells for the Burrow; Ginny watches her father as he guides Tonks around the yard, the both of them casting silver and gold sparks into the air. Ginny wonders where the rest of the Order are, but secretly she is glad it’s Tonks, glad to see that the pink-haired auror is happy and talkative again. It was just too strange when Tonks was depressed; Ginny had come to think of her as the ray of sunshine in a world of dark. It seems that Remus Lupin thought so, too.
Ginny is seated at the table when Tonks bounces into the house, knocking over a lamp and laughing as she readjusts it. “Wotcher, Gin,” she says brightly as she catches sight of the redhead, scrunching up her face and sprouting a beak.
Ginny smiles but cannot laugh. “Hullo, Tonks.”
Tonks freezes where she stands; she knows that voice, that look of sullen resignation. Ginny smiles but the smile is fake, and Tonks is taken back to the events of the year previous. Her beak, and the smile accompanying it, fades. “Are you all right?”
She has a sudden flash of a much younger Ginny, standing in a doorway at 12 Grimmauld Place. “Are all men so difficult?”
“I’m fine,” Ginny says now, still smiling as her father enters the room, looking windswept. Ginny is no longer small at all, Tonks thinks; she’s a beautiful young woman, and why do foolish men keep pushing beautiful women away?
“Everything all right, Ginny?” asks Mr. Weasley, and Tonks forces herself to keep moving, to stand behind Ginny as Arthur sweeps through the room and places a hand on his daughter’s shoulder.
Ginny gently pushes away. “I’m fine, Dad, is the house all set?”
Tonks watches silently as Arthur explains some of the spells that have been cast over the Burrow; Ginny sits and nods and casually brushes her hair back and does not fool Tonks in the slightest.
Remus has been edgy lately; the first few months of their marriage were wonderful, but now Tonks thinks her husband is uncomfortable in their relationship. He won’t admit to it, of course, but the lines in his forehead are only getting deeper, and sometimes she catches him staring out the window in a melancholy manner.
“Remus, aren’t you ever going to let yourself be happy?” She asks, holding him tightly in their small bed. He never answers.
It is Bill and Fleur’s wedding, and Tonks is nervously excited; she adores weddings, but it is war, after all, and despite all the protection spells and preparations she feels jumpy. She is sitting next to Remus, of course, and somehow, as she awaits the proceedings, she finds herself thinking of Ginny, and wondering how the youngest Weasley is fairing. She never got the chance to talk to her on Harry’s birthday, what with the sudden arrival of the Minister. Ginny is in the wedding party, and so Tonks will not see her until the ceremony. “Remus, relax, you’re all tense,” she whispers, squeezing his hand.
He manages a smile. “As are you, Dora.” He would like to call her Nymphadora, but only her father is allowed that; he should be grateful he isn’t forced to say Tonks like everybody else. Tonks grins broadly at him.
After the ceremony, Tonks is dancing with Remus when she catches sight of Ginny, lingering somewhat awkwardly off to the side. “Excuse me,” she mutters, breaking free of her husband and heading over to the red-haired girl. “Wotcher, Gin,” she says, nudging Ginny gently with one shoulder. “Splendid day, isn’t it?”
Ginny smiles at her, and, though she looks a lot better than she did the last time Tonks was around, she can still see the sadness buried behind it. She accounts this to her familiarity with the feelings. “I suppose.”
“Who’s got you all dejected, then?” Tonks asks seriously, gazing around at the people dancing and talking and having fun. She lowers her voice. “It’s all right; I know all about this sort of thing.”
Ginny looks at Remus, who is sitting and trying not to look over at them. She turns her gaze to Tonks. “Well...it’s Harry.”
“Harry?” Tonks raises an eyebrow. “Are you worried about him?”
“He ditched me,” says Ginny, crossing her arms over her chest. “He says I’d be in danger if You-Know-Who were to find out I was his girlfriend.”
“Ah,” says Tonks. “I see.” She looks over at Harry, who is disguised as a red-haired boy and sitting at a table with Ron and Hermione. “Don’t you hate it when they’re all noble? As though we don’t get a say in the matter.”
“Yes,” says Ginny, sounding surprised. “That’s it exactly.”
“Well, don’t you worry,” and she’s grinning, “because he’s bound to get over it. Just be persistent. That’s what it took to win Remus.”
Ginny gets a sad look again. “Do you love him?”
Tonks stares at her, with her shining red hair and bright brown eyes. “Yes,” she says, and feels a strange uneasiness. She looks over at him, at his wrinkled clothes and graying hair. “I do.”
She doesn’t know where she is or what she is doing; all she knows is that she’s got to be somewhere, some place other than her home. She can barely see with the tears in her eyes, and so she isn’t certain where she’s ended up, not even when she’s tapping on the door. Hastily, she wipes a hand over her eyes, and when her vision clears she finds herself staring at Ginny.
“Tonks, you’re crying,” says the redhead, her bright eyes wide with fear. “Quick, come inside; what’s happened?”
Ginny takes her hand; Tonks is grateful for the warmth and softness of the touch. She allows herself to be led up the stairs and into Ginny’s bedroom, which is as soft and bright as the woman living in it. Tonks sits gingerly on the bed and takes a deep breath. “Mum’s not here; she went to buy school supplies,” Ginny explains as she hands Tonks a kerchief. “She says it’s not safe out there for us; she went with Dad and an auror.”
Tonks appreciates this; Ginny isn’t pressing her with questions and assumptions. She is glad to have a moment to compose herself before she is ready to speak. “Remus is gone.” At Ginny’s expression she bursts into a fresh round of tears. “He’s not dead; he can’t be dead! We weren’t attacked or anything, he just...left.”
Ginny sighs and comes to sit beside her, one hand placed gently on her arm. She doesn’t say anything, not for what seems like a very long time. Tonks cries quietly, her face buried into the small piece of cloth Ginny has given her. Finally, when she feels as though she has run out of tears, she sniffles and looks up. Ginny is staring at her with an expression she can’t quite read. “What happened?” She asks quietly.
Tonks speaks bitterly. “I told him I’m pregnant and he went mental. He says it’s bound to be cursed and abused by society. He says it was a mistake to marry me and he should never have let this happen. He stormed out of the house and he said I’d be better off without him.”
“But you’re not.” Her tone is almost questioning, though Tonks notices that she doesn’t even blink at the news of the baby.
“No, I’m not,” Tonks says angrily, clenching her hands into fists. “He never gives me any say in anything. I thought he was going to save me and now he’s gone!”
Ginny looks away briefly, and Tonks sees her swallow and frown. Slowly, she inches her hand up Tonks’s arm until she reaches the end of her hair, which is limp and brown. She touches it, winds a bit of it around her finger. “I’ve spent my entire life being saved,” she says softly, not quite meeting her gaze. “My parents, my brothers, Michael, Dean, Harry. They were all supposed to save me. I never wanted to be protected from the world; I can imagine you didn’t, either. But we wanted some comfort in it, right? We wanted a prince, a golden man to save us from our sins.” Tonks looks at her, slightly taken aback by her words, and Ginny still does not move, her eyes locked on the dull brown hair she is playing with. “Maybe we’re just not looking in the right direction. Maybe a prince isn’t exactly what we need.”
“What do you mean?” Tonks asks, as her stomach twists and a wave of heat crashes over her. She remembers Ginny in a dress of shining gold, Ginny laughing as Tonks changes her nose into a snout.
“We had a wood full of princes, and none of them could save us,” Ginny says, and she finally looks into her eyes, two beautifully deep brown eyes full of emotion, so much it takes Tonks’s breath away. She is suddenly aware of Ginny’s skin, emitting comforting warmth, so close. She wonders how she never realized what it meant to think a girl was beautiful, how she spent so much time thinking about Ginny and not seeing her.
“I think I see, now,” Tonks whispers, as Ginny’s fingers trail down her arm. “We thought we loved them, but our comfort comes from elsewhere.”
Ginny smiles and presses her face to hers; freedom is a kiss.