Literatti: Fiction By Deslea
Two of a Kind
Deslea R. Judd
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters/Keywords: Lucius/Tonks (primary), Lucius/Narcissa, Remus/Tonks
Spoilers/Timeframe: War and postwar, goes alt-universe mid-battle.
Summary: The four stages of grief are shock, anger, denial and acceptance. Or: After the war, two unlikely widows find a way to keep standing. Novella length (35,000).
Disclaimer: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
More fic: http://fiction.deslea.com
Feedback: Please. deslea at deslea dot com.
|SHOCK| |ANGER| |DENIAL: LUCIUS| |DENIAL: TONKS| |ACCEPTANCE| |YULETIDE INTERLUDE|
[ACCEPTANCE – BOTH]
Remus and Tonks had been poor.
She'd never thought much about it when he was alive. It was wartime, after all. They'd counted themselves lucky to have a home, and that it wasn't crashing down around their ears. When they were there, it was to snatch a few hours' sleep or a quick shag, almost fully clothed, in case they were summoned to fight or raided themselves. And for several months of their marriage, she remembered with a pang, she hadn't lived there at all.
Besides - plenty of people had found themselves suddenly homeless in the wake of the Death Eaters' raids. Even Malfoy Manor had been forcibly acquired, after all. Lucius was lucky to get it back more or less in the condition it had been before the war, a few bloodstains notwithstanding.
So she'd never given their poverty much thought while he was alive. But she thought a lot about it now.
It wasn't because she was surrounded by Lucius' wealth. She liked the Manor because it had come to be her home, but she didn't covet it for its own sake.
It was partly because she'd thought a lot about the lycanthropy, and their poverty was a byproduct of that. But mostly she thought it was because of the mourning rituals of the wealthy, the portraits and statues, rituals that were completely out of her reach. Some days she thought that was just as well.
Now, standing among the portraits in the hall, she wondered whether his exclusion from Remembrance Plaza was a blessing in disguise. After all, if his image had transfigured before her there, what would she have said? She was on better terms with Remus' memory these days, that was true, but that didn't mean all debts were paid. It seemed to her like once a person was dead, they stopped being flawed, and everyone was just sad. If there were other widows with tangled love-hurt marriages, others who carried anger and grudges at things said and done in life, they weren't saying so.
"It's very rude to stare."
"Shit," she yelped. Startled. "I mean - I'm - sorry, Narcissa." Narcissa's portrait had never addressed her directly before.
Behind her, Abraxas Malfoy snorted his disapproval, muttering something about language around one's elders, but held his peace. Apparently his fear of Narcissa's wrath outweighed his periodic need to make snotty remarks about his son's half-blooded 'mistress.'
Narcissa relented. "I'm sorry if I startled you," she said with good grace.
"Not at all," Tonks said hastily. "I mean - I didn't mean to stare. I was just woolgathering."
"Quite," Narcissa replied. "And congratulations," she added, glancing down at the diamond on Tonks' hand.
Tonks held it out for inspection. "Thank you. It seems indecently big, really." It occurred to her that this might not be a seemly discussion to have with Lucius' late wife.
Narcissa said dryly, "It will grow on you, I assure you. But what were you in such deep thought about?"
"My late husband, actually," Tonks said warily. Lucius had told her that Narcissa had stage-managed some sort of helpful epiphany for him. He'd refused to divulge the details, but she was sure he'd muttered the words "manipulative" and "well-meaning harridan" under his breath. That was all very well for Lucius, but she and Narcissa had never known one another in life. She fervently hoped the portrait would not become some kind of agony-aunt-in-residence.
"Ah, yes," Narcissa said thoughtfully. "The werewolf."
"His name was Remus," Tonks snapped.
"It was a neutral statement. I meant no offence."
"It's never a neutral statement."
"Nonsense," Narcissa said briskly. "I realise there was prejudice, but surely you had friends as well."
Tonks felt some of her irritation fall away. "We did," she conceded, "but even then...either they were friends despite the lycanthropy, or because of it. Because he was wounded, and they liked it. It was something to pity or to identify with."
Narcissa said curiously, "And which were you?"
She felt a sudden flash of fury. Her face was hot, anger rising up in her like a fever. "Fuck you, Narcissa," she spat, and whirled on her heel and walked away. Wished fervently that she was graceful enough to make it a grand meaningful gesture instead of the ungainly display it undoubtedly was.
Abraxas broke the purposeful sound of her footsteps with a sniff. "I say, Narcissa, she is very rude, don't you think?"
Tonks gritted her teeth. Pondered the virtues of the dead staying dead.
And fuck you very much, Abraxas, as well.
"He was a good man."
It seemed to be a constant refrain on her lips these days, as though daring someone to disagree. Or maybe just looking for someone to put it in its proper perspective.
Lucius agreed but thought it irrelevant. Harry and Ginny agreed but with caveats. She had a feeling that her mother didn't agree at all. And some had no opinion about his goodness, but doubted he was a man.
Molly set down a cup of tea before her. "Yes," she said. "He was."
At this, Tonks felt her smile form, falter, and form again. She felt warmth and pressure and salt gather around her nose, felt the tears before she could stop them. They weren't ladylike tears trailing delicately from the corners of her eyes. They were messy and red-faced and came in harsh sounds and snuffles into her handkerchief.
Molly just watched her with that motherly look on her face. It was the same look as all those times Tonks had come weeping because Remus pushed her away. Perhaps now with just the faintest shadow - the shadow of a mother who has lost one of her fold.
"Lucius isn't good," she whispered, shameful secret aired at last. "Not the way Remus was. And yet -" she stumbled on her other secret "- I love him more than I ever loved Remus."
Molly shrugged easily, as though Dora's confusion and shame were quite immaterial. "Of course you do. It's all a matter of timing, isn't it, dear?"
Tonks stared at her in bewilderment. Tears stopping all at once. "I don't - I don't follow."
"Well, wartime marriage isn't the same as peacetime marriage, now, is it? In a war, it's terribly important to be married to someone who shares your allegiances. You want someone who'll fight beside you. Isn't that how you fell in love with Remus in the first place?"
She nodded. "It was the Department of Mysteries. I admired him sooner, but I wasn't attracted until then."
Molly agreed, "That was much more important to you than whether he would stay or what kind of a husband he would be, and rightly so. For all his flaws, Remus was right for you during the war. Can you imagine being with Lucius back then? Living in that house as Voldemort's slave, pretending to embrace his cause to stay alive?"
Tonks thought for only a moment before shaking her head. "I'd have left him, if I could, or killed myself, if I couldn't," she said, damning admission that it was. And left him to face it alone, she added silently, suddenly understanding that she had her own brand of wartime weakness. She'd have left just as surely as she had cast Remus aside before his body was cold. "I couldn't have stayed."
Molly said, "Of course you couldn't. You and Lucius would have been quite wrong for one another back then. He needed Narcissa just as much as you needed Remus."
Glimmers of realisation began to penetrate her mind. "Yes," she said, piecing it together. "Back then, yes. But now -"
But now, Remus and I wouldn't have made it, she thought. She didn't say so. That was one truth she would never speak aloud. To anyone.
Perhaps Molly heard what Tonks had not said, because she didn't press her. Instead, she said, "Peacetime is different. If marriage was just for those who were very very good, dear, there would be precious few marriages to speak of. Most of us are just normal, don't you think?"
She dragged in her breath. Composed herself, breathing in the steam as it rolled off her cup of tea. "Yeah."
"I went to school with Lucius, you know," Molly said mildly. "He was a couple of years below me. You mustn't tell him this, but I rather think he might have had a little crush on me." She tapped the side of her nose with her finger, suddenly dimples and mischief.
Tonks let out a watery laugh. "I think so too. He thinks it's terrible that Arthur didn't give you the world on a platter."
"How very like Lucius to focus on all the wrong things," Molly said indulgently.
"He's strong," she said presently. "Strong enough that I don't have to be the only one to hold us together. And he stays. No matter what's been said, no matter if he's angry or ashamed or hurt - he always stays."
"Does that make him the right man for you now?" Molly wondered. She said it gently.
She felt lightness then - a lightness she hadn't felt since before the war. "I think it does," she said. "Oh, blast it all, I'm crying again, Molly."
Molly rose. Took up her cup. She said:
"Well, then, dear. I suppose that calls for more tea."
They were in Segovia.
It was a little province in Spain, not far north of Madrid. A place where ancient, medieval, and modern coexisted in harmony. Muggles and magic, too. Division had no place in Segovia.
They were in a cemetery, standing at the top of rough stone steps, looking out over a gothic castle rising out of a rocky crag. The Alcázar, Nymphadora had said. The sun was descending but they were still drenched in light. It was a different light than England, he thought. It burned brighter but it was gentle as well.
"Why did you bring us here?" Lucius wondered, taking Nymphadora's hand in his own. She was standing beside him, leaning on a rock with a plaque written in languages he didn't recognise. Her eyes were closed. Soaking up the warmth.
"Does there have to be a reason?" she said, a smile playing around the corners of her mouth.
"No," he said, "but you were very insistent. And you were insistent that it should be all three of us."
Draco, standing alongside her on her other side, shot her a sidelong look. Lucius knew that look. Whatever she'd cooked up, they'd cooked it up together.
"All in good time," she said maddeningly. She tapped her fingers on the plaque, next to the legend, Cementerio Judio. "Lucius, do you know who the Jews are?"
He looked at her. Frowned and shook his head.
"I thought you'd be interested, because of the war. Some of it will be close to home, though. Do you want to hear it?"
Warily, he nodded.
"They were a persecuted race. It isn't quite as simple as that - they also trace their ancestry back to a tribe of religious significance, for one thing. But that's not really the point for the moment. Anyway. The Muggles had a great war, about sixty years ago now. England was badly affected, as was most of Europe."
Lucius nodded in recognition. He wasn't clear on the details, but the magical world had not been immune from the destruction wrought by the great Muggle war. He had been born only six years after it ended, had grown up with tales of witches and wizards caught unawares, forced to take refuge in the Muggle Tube, and of the time the Hogwarts Express had escaped destruction only through the Protego Maxima of a quick-thinking prefect.
Nymphadora went on, "Muggle Germany was ruled by a dictator at the time, and he took the view that the Jews were genetically inferior. They weren't the only ones persecuted, but the Jews got the worst of it. There was a state-sponsored policy of ethnic cleansing. They say that six million were killed."
Lucius felt chills as the blood drained from his face. "Six million? Surely – that can't be –"
"There are a small minority who dispute the figure, but the logistics appear to support the numbers. There were machines and rooms designed for mass executions. Industrial furnaces to deal with the bodies. The camps were like factories for the purpose." Her voice seemed suddenly ghastly, droning on in a litany of the mechanics of mass murder.
"Merlin," he whispered. "It sounds like Voldemort's dream come true."
She nodded, her lips settled into a grim line. "It does, doesn't it? Anyway. The point is, most Germans weren't evil. There was evil at the top and in the inner circle, but most people were just scared and weak. And maybe they kind of agreed in a general way that the Jews were less than them. Maybe they didn't care what happened, as long as it didn't happen to them."
He wondered if that was what she thought of him.
Nymphadora looked away, out over the castle before them. Went on, "That's the big dirty secret in our world right now, you know. Death Eaters weren't the only ones who hated Muggles. It's like you said. There was plenty of hate to go round, through the First and Second Wars, and before that, as well. Purebloods looked down on half-bloods, half-bloods looked down on Muggle-borns, Muggle-borns looked down on Muggles, and the hate went on through the magical creatures. It still does."
Lucius nodded. "Voldemort counted on it. There weren't enough Death Eaters to start one war, let alone two. But he knew that a lot of people would look the other way – so long as the victims weren't just like them. It's the same thinking that sees witches and wizards with disabilities persecuted even now. Like the squibs and the werewolves."
She nodded. Said thoughtfully, "Their recruitment strategies weren't much different to Voldemort's, you know. All young people were automatically enrolled in a state-sponsored youth organisation. The dictator introduced his ideas by stealth to a new generation. They were trapped before they knew it."
Lucius realised that his hand had wandered to his sleeve, towards his Dark Mark. He stilled it. "But they didn't all stay."
"No. Some deserted, some kept their heads down, and others subverted from within."
He turned away from her, to look out straight ahead. "I kept my head down. Which makes me one of the people who let it happen."
"If so, you're in good company. In our world and theirs."
"And that makes it all right? I never picked you for one to rationalise, Nymphadora."
"I'm not rationalising and I'm not excusing. But if all those everyday Germans had curled up in a ball of guilt when the war was over, it wouldn't be the nation it is today. They got to work and rebuilt. Just like you." She took his hand. "I'm proud of the work you're doing, Lucius. I'm sorry I didn't say so sooner."
He shook his head. "It really is so little compared to what you and Remus did." He squeezed her hand in return anyway.
"Better late than never. After all, the hate is still there. Maybe this time we can help stop the spread."
"Maybe," he murmured.
They fell silent, looking out over the castle.
He wondered after a moment, "Are these war dead?"
"No. The Jews were exiled from Spain much earlier, centuries ago now. That was over religious conflicts, not racial ones. They were told to accept Christianity, or leave. Most left."
"Then why did we come here? Why not Germany?"
Nymphadora turned a fond smile on him, the sun backlighting her hair like a halo. Draco was smiling too. "We didn't come all this way for Muggle history, Lucius. This is just a detour."
A smile played around the corners of his mouth. "What have you two been scheming together?"
Draco looked at Nymphadora, his expression amused and questioning. She nodded eagerly.
He drew his wand and held it up for inspection. Lucius peered at it. Blinked.
"It's new," he said after a moment's silence. "Is that elmwood?"
Draco nodded. "Like Mum's. And it's got a unicorn hair core, like my first one."
Nymphadora chimed in, "There's a wandmaker here. Retired. He sheltered Karkaroff for a time when he was on the run, so we knew he would be sympathetic to Draco."
Lucius nodded in understanding, but did not touch it. "It's excellent workmanship, Draco," he said, suppressing a grimace and smiling at them both. "I'm really pleased for you."
Nymphadora reached into her sleeve and drew something out. She said gently, "That means Draco has no further need for this."
She was holding out Narcissa's wand between them, like an offering. It rested gently on her palms.
Lucius felt warmth rising in his face. "Oh," he whispered. "Oh - Dora - I don't -"
"It will work for you," she said implacably. "Mendez - the wandmaker - he said the wand will recognise love and loyalty to its mistress."
He shook his head. Swallowed hard. "I don't deserve this," he said in a low voice. "I brought it down on all of us. What I did - it killed her in the end. I don't -" and then he was breathing hard, unable to finish.
Nymphadora closed her hand over his. Gently placed the wand in his palm. "She loved you. She would want you to have it. She would want you to forgive yourself." She whispered, "Please."
Reluctantly, he closed his hand around the wand, and he felt it, felt it respond to him, like he was back in Ollivander's as a boy, choosing the wand that would eventually be snapped like so much driftwood and used by another as an instrument of death. And this wand - he'd held this wand a hundred times, passed it thoughtlessly to Narcissa over and over again as they went about their daily business. It had never recognised him like this.
He breathed out, a low and trembling sound.
"Thank you," he said softly. Groped for her hand and found it. Drew her close, grasping, swallowing hard.
He felt, rather than heard Draco's tactful withdrawal, and they stayed there, holding on tight as the sun set over the Alcázar.
"Sundown," Nymphadora said gently against his shoulder. "The Jewish day begins at sundown, Lucius. It's a new day."
He wasn't convinced he deserved one, but he was damn glad to have one anyway.
"I miss her."
He said it pensively, sitting in the armchair in their bedroom that evening, looking at Narcissa's wand in his hands. He had not made peace with it enough to think of it as his, and suspected it would be some time before he could.
"I know," Nymphadora said gently, not turning around.
She was sitting, brushing her hair at Narcissa's dressing table. Her dressing table, he corrected. He noted with fond amusement that she had a smudge of soot on her hand from the Floo. Somehow she never seemed to escape unmarked.
"I love you," he said. He didn't say I wouldn't change it; didn't even dare try to figure out if it were true. Among widows, some questions were best left unasked. Instead, he said simply, "But I still miss her."
In the mirror, he could see the look of compassion flit across her face. "I know that, Lucius."
They fell silent for a while, him toying with the wand, her preparing for bed. Taking her time. Giving him his space. He recognised her kindness and loved her for it.
"It's chilly," he said after a while. He said it to break the silence, but it was also true. Unseasonably so, in fact. It was only September.
"Go ahead and light the fire," she said, not turning around. "You've got a wand, remember. You can do it yourself now."
He manufactured a wide smile. "You're closer."
She turned on the stool. "I really think you should do it." Met his gaze with eyes that were clouded with concern.
He drew in his breath, roughly, in a gasp. Horrid tears stinging his eyes. "How long have you known?"
"I've always known," she said gently. "Mum went to claim the bodies. Bellatrix was there, but Narcissa wasn't. She visited Draco while he was under house arrest. I think she hoped Narcissa had made it out. He had to tell her." The lines of her face were softer than he'd ever seen them. There was love and indescribable compassion in that look.
He could feel his face working, trembling.
"Lucius," she said, softly. "You did the right thing. Don't you know that?"
"She was my wife," he whispered. "And I left her to burn."
"And Remus is in a shallow war-grave in Hogsmeade, far from his kin. Death isn't pretty, and death in battle less still. You gave her what you could. Her wand wouldn't work for you if you'd let her down." She nodded to the fireplace. "Light the fire, Lucius. It won't hurt you. She won't hurt you. She loved you."
He hesitated. Gave a quick, abrupt little nod. Lifted Narcissa's wand - his wand - and pointed it at the hearth. It shook in his hand. He remembered the last time he had cast this spell with this wand; then, as now, his eyes had been wet and his chin had trembled so much that he could hardly get the word out.
"Incendio," he muttered.
The fire flickered to life in the fireplace, warmth erupting and washing over him as he let out a shaking sigh. Healing him, not all the way, but a little. Little by little, he thought, it would happen.
He had never really believed it until now.
Nymphadora was on her knees before him. Gently extricating the wand from his hand. Placing it on the bedside table.
"I love you," she said softly. "It's going to be okay."
"I know," he said. It felt (and sounded) not so much like an affirmation as concession. "I know."
She got to her feet. Stood there before him, her hands held out. "Come to bed, Lucius."
He took them and let her lead him. They stopped by the bed. She began to unfasten her robe, not a sensual gesture, but unselfconsciously, like she was alone in the room.
Quite suddenly, unthinkingly, he took her by the arms and kissed her. Let his hands soften to cradle her shoulders.
She made a tiny sound of surprise, and then her hands rose, and slid into his hair. "Lucius," she whispered against his lips.
There's life after, he thought. It came to him unbidden, but he knew at once that it was true. They were changed, but they were whole.
The things that washed over him then were devastating, shattering him and building him up all over again. Equal part joy and tears, and he was sick of tears. Sick of tasting them and swallowing them down. But the good was exhilarating. Good was her kissing him back and drawing herself up closer and gasping out his name.
There's life after, he thought again.
Nymphadora - his love, his life - she was drawing him down with her. Drawing him in. Making him warm.
Leading him into life after.
And Lucius followed.
She said it softly. So softly that the words were almost lost, carried away on flakes of snow.
"What for?" Lucius wondered. His arm was heavy and comforting against hers.
She looked up at him, pushing back her veil to do it. It was heavy silk, almost opaque, trimmed with white diricawl feathers, and her overdress was heavy and embroidered and white. It was the complete opposite of what she'd worn for her Handfasting to Remus; complete opposite, too, of Lucius' summer wedding to Narcissa. It was theirs, and that was for the best.
Now, she said, "For coming here with me today. For understanding." She looked down at Remus' grave. "He wasn't perfect, but he was mine, and I loved him."
His hold on her hand tightened, but he said nothing.
"I'm sorry you don't have anywhere to go for Narcissa," she offered.
"I do," he said mildly. "She's in the breeze."
She nodded thoughtfully. "I like that. I think she would, too."
They fell silent, each with their own thoughts. Two survivors in a field of war-dead.
"She'd be glad about this, I think," he said abruptly, glancing at her midsection, the secret passing between them. This was theirs, kept even from Draco and Andromeda for now. "We wanted to try for a girl. But I think we thought, after Voldemort fell and I stayed out of Azkaban, that we'd already dodged a couple of hexes. It seemed like pushing our luck, somehow."
She nodded. "I know." And she did; during the worst of the war, just loving at all had seemed like more luck than any of them dared hope for. Little wonder that Remus, of all people – Remus, for whom luck was always in such short supply – couldn't bring himself to trust it.
Lucius said hesitantly, "Nymphadora, about the baby." Tonks raised an eyebrow in query, and he went on, "I know it is quite usual to name post-war babies after ones who have passed. You yourself did so," he added.
She nodded. "Yes, I did. My father died a week before Teddy was born." Wondered where he was going with this.
He said, "I feel – rather strongly – that life is for the living. Could we not do that?"
She realised that he was worried about her reaction.
"Yes," she said warmly. "Let's not."
A smirk flitted over his features. "I was thinking of Cassiopeia."
"Ugh," she said. "You've been talking to my mother."
"It's an interesting story," he said mildly. "Cassiopeia and Andromeda-"
"Competed with the Nymphs about who was the most beautiful," she supplied. "I know the story, and I've no idea what my mother was thinking when she did it. She could have just called me Electra Complex and been done with it."
He said seriously, "She told me what she was thinking. She thought you were the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen."
She stared up at him. "Mum said that?" she said softly. Then, incredulously, "To you?"
Lucius sniffed, "I keep telling you, your mother loves me, deep down."
Tonks grinned. "Tell you what. I'll stay away from memorial names if you stay away from ancient myths and constellations. Agreed?"
His mouth twitched. "Agreed."
She looked down at Remus' grave again. "I suppose Draco and Astoria will be waiting."
"I believe the definition of a bridesmaid and groomsman is to wait on the bride and groom," he said dryly. "So let them wait."
She gave a little laugh, and then they fell silent.
"Lucius?" she said at last.
He looked at her, his expression a query.
"Do you remember what you asked me that time? About why I loved him?"
He gave a wry sound. "I seem to recall you reacted rather strongly to that question."
She flashed a faint smile up at him, but it faded quickly. She became pensive. "It was a lot of things, of course, but I think – it was the way he was broken. I don't mean it was pity – there were things in him that were fragile and beautiful, and I loved them. But they were a double-edged sword, too. They hurt me." She held his gaze, piercing and blue where Remus' had been soft and brown. Felt something inside her shatter; moreover, she knew it was safe to shatter, just for a little while. "With you, I love stronger things. And I like that."
He pressed his lips to her forehead. "I love you, Nymphadora. And I think he did, too. His burden was great, and I think he loved you as much as he could."
She nodded against him. Felt tears slip down her cheeks, the first she'd shed for Remus in a long time.
He pulled away. "Take some time with him. I'll be close by."
"Thank you," she whispered, taking his hand in hers. She tried to imbue those words with everything that had passed between them these eighteen months, and she didn't know if he heard it, but he lingered, holding her for a long moment before turning away.
She thought, turning back to Remus' grave, that she would have too much to say, that she would overflow in a babbling brook of thoughts, but she didn't. Her mind was still and at peace.
I think I've finally gotten used to living in a world without you in it, Remus, she thought. I'm moving on and you're standing still and that's how death works, in the end. It separates people across time. She felt her mouth form a quavering smile through her tears. I'm so glad I had you in the time we had. Despite everything. Or maybe because of it.
"You always wanted me to be happy," she whispered. "So that's what I'm going to do."
She crouched down in the snow. Reached out and touched the headstone. And then she let go.
She got to her feet, and turned away, and went to find her future.
1. This story was inspired simply by an Order of the Phoenix publicity shot of Tonks with blonde hair. I had an image of her being mistaken for a Death Eater in the Battle of Hogwarts. I also always found it unbelievable that Voldemort would not punish Narcissa for her deception about Harry's death. The rest is history.
2. The Muggle poetry reference in the first chapter is to the poem The Second Coming. The full poem is:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
-- William Butler Yeats, January 1919
3. Contrary to Lucius' vague idea on the subject, Tonks was not a dowager. A dowager is a widow who inherited a title and/or property from her husband. As Remus did not leave Tonks those things, she was simply Madam Lupin, or Miss or Madam or Auror Tonks. (Or Ms, I suppose, but I have seen no evidence that Ms is used in the magical world). While Lucius is educated about protocol for society, his social circles did not normally include the poor, hence his confusion. In any event, in this universe, Tonks is inconsistent about her own use of titles and surnames, because she isn't really interested in any name but "just Tonks."
4. In canon, Narcissa's wand appears to have been lost in the Room of Requirement and destroyed by Fiendfyre. However, having killed Narcissa and resurrected Tonks for this little AU jaunt, I thought one more variation was acceptable.
5. I'm aware that Remus gets some pretty scathing treatment in this story. I hope it's clear as the story unfolds that I actually like Remus a lot. However, it is a difficult thing to be left with unfinished business after a sudden death, and Tonks had unfinished business by the truckload.
6. Did Andromeda and Xenophilius marry? In my head-canon, yes, though I don't know how well she'd have coped with sharing the marital home with the Quibbler. Perhaps they were a post-modern couple with separate houses joined by Floo.
7. Was Dudley and his girlfriend's baby magical? Part of me hopes not, but part of me thinks it could be too, too funny. Especially when Petunia and Vernon find out. It would be even better if their baby was a Metamorphagus. What? It could happen!
8. In my head-canon, Lucius and Tonks avoided myths and constellations and people (dead or alive), and went for names with meaning, calling their daughter Evita Althea. Evita is derived from the Latin for life, and Althea is Greek for healing.
9. The Jewish cemetery in Segovia, Spain exists, and it is almost exactly as described. However, there is an English inscription on the plaque, as well as a number of languages Lucius would not know, including Spanish and Hebrew. I'm going to pretend Draco was leaning on the plaque at that moment. *whistles*
10. I do hope I have not caused offence with the references to World War II. Naturally, many Harry Potter fen have made the connections between Voldemort's wars and Hitler. But I really couldn't think of a better way of leading Lucius to a point where he could at least accept himself enough to keep doing his good work in the here and now. A big part of this universe is that the brave new postwar world isn't perfect, even now, and people have to guard it, and Lucius in particular needs to do it, because he owes that much.
11. I owe readers an apology - I originally committed to have this finished by late September. Instead, I'm posting in early December. It seemed like a realistic commitment to make, because the story was virtually finished, with the exception of Tonks - Denial. However, that chapter turned out to be far more difficult than anticipated. It was always supposed to be about Tonks breaking through her denial about the way Remus had hurt her. (The scene with Harry and Ginny was one of the first to be written). I found myself irretrievably stuck in the writing, though. I'm not a believer in writers' block. That is, I believe it exists, but I think it is nothing more than the fact that I've missed something as an author. Some part of the character's truth isn't being told, and that's why it feels all wrong. And it took a good couple of months for me to work around to realising that the missing piece was about loving someone who got things so dreadfully wrong during the war, and how we can separate ourselves from things our friends have done far more easily than our partner.