Pink Green Blue

Lost and Found by Hourglass nomineePaid AccountHourglass winnerScrivenshaft Winnerthirty2flavors

Rating: PG. Created: October 4th, 2005. Updated: October 4th, 2005. Read Reviews (20)
Disclaimer: Characters, the magical world, etc, is property of J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros, not the owner of this fic.

Funeral receptions, he thought, were weird things.

They were full of people dressed in black, milling around, forcing a few smiles and laughs where they could. He’d always found them odd. He understood the human need to shove sorrow aside, he understood their desire to laugh and smile and comfort each other, but as it was, he could not imagine doing any of those things.

In a selfish sense, it seemed miraculous to him that people could still be happy.

And yet, they were – very happy, it seemed. He knew a good portion of the people present didn’t need to force the laughs and smiles as much as others. He knew that, even under their black clothes and their proper attitudes and the dimmer personalities, they were all ecstatic. The war was over; they were not going to lose any more of their own. The family members they had now were staying – they wouldn’t lose any more friends, they would be able to raise their children in a happy environment.

He tried to be happy for them, but more than anything, he was envious, because he knew that at the end of a war, there were the grateful, the lucky, and those who had lost so much that whether the war was still raging or not meant nothing.

He felt guilty thinking it, but he placed himself in the third category.

For that reason he was seated outside, on the back porch, alone. It was not a particularly noticeable place – most everyone else was gathered inside, around the food, sipping punch and sharing stories. Nearly everyone had already found him to offer clipped condolences, and with that task done, they could go to sleep at night feeling as though they had helped somehow, and they could go back to avoiding him. They avoided Peter’s mother, too.

They’re scared of us, he thought. They were scared of grief. Perhaps they thought it contagious.

Shaking his head, he swirled the punch in his glass and watched the ice cubes bob around in the murky red liquid. This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. He wasn’t supposed to be at Peter’s funeral, because Peter wasn’t supposed to be dead. Certainly, he wasn’t supposed to be alone at Peter’s funeral – Lily and James weren’t supposed to be dead. Sirius was not supposed to be in Azkaban. Sirius was not supposed to be the traitor.

Closing his eyes and exercising another bout of self-control, he gulped another sip of the punch. As the carbonated yet otherwise bland drink made its way down, he felt another sudden pang of regret. He did not suppose that dying changed one’s sense of humour.

I should have spiked it, he thought. They would have. We would have.

“Why are you sitting out here?”

He practically jumped out of his skin at that. His eyes flew open, his posture straightened and the processing part of his mind struggled to put the voice to a face. It was young, it was high-pitched, and it was a girl. It was unfamiliar.

He glanced to his right. It was a child.

“I – pardon?” he asked dumbly, blinking and looking her up and down. She had long, straight black hair, a bold smile, and she couldn’t have been more than seven or eight.

He hadn’t the faintest whose child she might have been.

“I said, why are you sitting all the way out here?” the girl repeated, completely confident in a way most children were not. “Everyone else is in there, talking and things, but you’re just out here, all alone.”

“Oh,” he said simply, setting his cup on the stairs beside him and looking forward at the great oak several feet from them. “I don’t know. I don’t feel like talking to them, I suppose.”

“Oh,” she said simply, nodding. “Neither do I. They’re really boring.

He snorted softly, watching her shut the patio door behind her and take a seat on the stairs beside him. Were she an adult, he supposed, she would have taken his words as a hint to get lost and leave him alone; as a child, he was sure she had no intention of leaving until she was quite through.

He was not sure whether he wanted her to leave or not.

“Ah, well, adults tend to be boring,” he agreed, frowning. “And it is a funeral, after all, you’ll have to forgive them.”

The girl giggled and nodded. “I know, I know. Mummy says funerals are very proper. That’s why I have to have this ugly black hair.” She scrunched up her nose and jerked her head, indicating the tresses currently adorning her head.

He looked at her again, tilting his head. “It’s not your real hair colour?”

“Oh, no,” said the girl emphatically, shaking her head. “My real hair colour is – well, I don’t know what it is. But not black. I don’t like black. Black’s icky. I don’t think Mummy likes it much either – she looked at me funny when I changed it.”

Still he stared at her, uncomprehending. “Changed it?”

She nodded. “Mmhm! I’m a metamofo—meta—morphing—well, anyway, I can change it.”

She scrunched up her face again, eyes screwed shut, and in a second the black had turned a brilliant blue. He blinked, sincerely startled.

Somewhere, in the back of his mind, something clicked.

“Oh!” he said a second later. “A metamorphmagus!” She nodded enthusiastically. “Oh, right, well, that would do it, wouldn’t it? That’s very neat, you’re going to have a lot of fun with that when you’re older.”

She laughed. “I already do.”

He glanced again over his shoulder and peered through the glass, down the hall at what he could see of the gaggle of people dressed in black, and then looked at the girl with blue hair, sitting outside with him. Somehow, he thought, she was much better company than any of them.

“Who’re you?” she asked without warning.

“My name is Remus Lupin,” he supplied with as much of a smile as he could manage. “What’s yours?”

“Nymphadora Tonks,” she said, reciting the information as only a little kid could and thrusting out one of her small hands.

It was as though he had suddenly been given an ice-cold bath and someone had dropped a toaster in the tub; she was Nymphadora Tonks. She was the daughter of Andromeda Tonks, née Andromeda Black.

She was Sirius’ little cousin.

“Are you okay, Mr. Remus Lupin?” she asked suddenly, tilting her head, and he realized that he must have fallen very silent and adopted a very peculiar expression.

Shaking himself, he forced another lukewarm smile and nodded. “Y—Well…” He hesitated, finding himself unable to say ‘yes’. “It’s just that I know your mother, I think.”

“Mummy knows you too, I think,” she said, looking to the crowd once more, looking to spot her mother. “She’s talked about you today, when we were coming here. Says it’s awful, what’s happened to you. That poor Remus Lupin, I wonder how he’s holding up. Really, Ted, Sirius, of all people? I can’t believe this.

Remus supposed that Nymphadora, being the ripe age of seven, had no idea what ‘awful thing’ had happened to him, and he supposed that Nymphadora, being seven, did not understand the sharp stab of grief and a thousand other emotions that her words might inflict.

So he nodded wanly, warily, glancing out at the group of people too. “Yes, your mother would know me,” he agreed quietly. “I didn’t know she was coming.”

“Said she felt she should,” said Nymphadora, shrugging again. “That guy – um, man – I mean, er, Peter, was he your friend?”

“He was,” said Remus, doing his best to ignore the contracting feeling in his throat. “One of my best.”

“Oh,” she said quietly, simply. “That sucks.”

For the first time in days – weeks, perhaps – he laughed. To sum it up – to sum all of this, all of this loss and betrayal and hurt – to sum it up like that was absolutely ridiculous – and absolutely accurate.

“Yes,” he said, smiling in a remarkably sincere, albeit masochistic manner, “yes it does.”

“That’s too bad,” she continued, frowning. “That he died, I mean, and that he was your friend. Do you have a lot of friends?”

Again, he was struck by the remarkable childhood talent to cut with astounding accuracy right to the heart.

“I used to,” he said, his voice heavy with a burden the girl couldn’t understand. “I used to have amazing friends. Four of them.”

“Used to?” she repeated.

He nodded, his gaze lowering and focusing on a little ladybug that was struggling to climb up the large wooden stairs upon which he and Nymphadora were seated.

“Yes. Used to. I lost them.”

She tilted her head, uncomprehending. “Then find them again.”

He looked over at her, smiling sadly, and shook his head. “Ah, Nymphadora, I wish it were that easy.”

“Whenever I lose something, Mummy tells me to go look for it. She says I always miss it, and usually, it’s right in the most obvious place, right under my nose.”

It was useless, Remus thought, and so he nodded. You could not explain death to a seven year old – and you shouldn’t, because no seven year old should have to know death.

“Well, thanks, Nymphadora,” he said lamely, unable to restrain a sigh of futility, “I’ll look for them.”

She simply beamed.

“Good! Maybe they’re in the most obvious place.”

He watched her curiously. Here was a girl who had known nothing but war her entire life. Ever since she had been born, there had been violent prejudices, sacrificial martyrs, propaganda, betrayal, loss, grief, death – and yet she was unscathed. Was she the exception, or were there many other children like this? Were children of war still simply children?

He thought of Harry. He wondered if, at the age of one, Harry had already lost his chance at childhood.

Nymphadora!” came a sharp voice. “I’ve been looking for you! I told you not to run off, I had no idea where you’d gone – and your hair’s blue, really, Nymphadora, that isn’t befitting of a funeral in the least, show some respect, please, and you’ve no doubt been bothering this poor man—“

Andromeda Tonks froze mid-rant and mid-child-scooping-up, staring at the poor man. For a second, she seemed completely paralyzed, completely stunned.

“Oh. Remus. It’s you.”

He smiled faintly, nodding, watching Nymphadora struggle to disentangle herself from Andromeda’s motherly restraint. “Yes, it is.”

“I’m sorry if she’s been bothering you,” said Andromeda hastily. “She--“

He cut her off by flicking a hand. “Not at all,” he said. “I was enjoying her company.”

Andromeda smiled; Nymphadora beamed.

“See, Mum? I’m not annoying! We were—“

“I wasn’t calling you annoying,” said Andromeda hastily, sending Remus a knowing glance. “I was merely saying that a funeral is not typically a great place to start making friends.”

Nymphadora folded her arms over her chest. “I don’t see why not. He needs some, anyway, Mummy, he told me he’d lost all his.”

The silence that followed between Andromeda and Remus was nothing short of excruciating. Andromeda, unable to meet his eyes, fiddled with the buttons on the back of her daughter’s dress; Remus, unwilling to meet her eyes, stared at his hands.

“We should go, I think,” said Andromeda finally. She lifted her head and gazed across at the man in front of her, frowning. “Remus, if there’s anything—“

“There isn’t,” he said simply, glancing up at her and offering a smile. “But thank you, Andromeda.”

“Not at all,” she said, flattening her daughter’s hair and opening the patio door. “Thank you for watching her.”

“Not at all.” He raised a hand to wave. “I’ll see you around Andromeda, Nymphadora.”

Andromeda smiled and nodded, tugging her daughter inside. “Good-bye, Remus.”

For a second, Nymphadora broke free of her mother’s hold and shoved her torso out the door again. “Bye!” she cried cheerfully, beaming again, before her mother had her around the waist, she was pulled inside, and mother and daughter were gone again.

He stayed out there for a while longer, not wanting to return to the conversation and chatter of the household, instead choosing to lean against the railing of the porch and stare at the Pettigrews’ backyard. How often had the four of them, as young and naïve children not so different from Nymphadora, terrorized this lawn and the neighbors in the summer? How often had James and Peter – who had been friends since they were even younger than Nymphadora – attempted to climb the tree and fallen? How often had they succeeded?

When was it that the four of them had stopped being like the little girl with the bright blue hair? When had they made the transition from child to adult? Had it happened overnight? He knew it had happened, but he couldn’t remember realizing it had happened. It was one of those truths, the kind you know so well you cannot remember not knowing it.

Eventually, as would be expected, he lifted himself from the stairs, went back inside, and drifted through the social group on his way to the door. They had changed little, from what he could see; they still talked, they still laughed, they still exchanged meaningless stories. They still avoided those in real grieving.

Most of them, he noticed, stepped out of his way as he passed them.

As he passed the table laden with food, he noticed the punch bowl, charmed to refill itself, and paused. Without being entirely sure of his own reasoning, he slid forward, pulled out his wand, and with a subtlety and mastery of stealth that could only be managed by a Marauder, he added alcohol to the concoction.

As he walked away from the punch, from the room, and from the house, he smiled faintly. It was what they would have done, when they had been bouncy and boisterous and happy, as Nymphadora had been.

It’s what we would have done. That, in and of itself, was a greater comfort than he could have imagined.

Maybe Nymphadora had been right. He hadn’t lost them – all he had to do was look.

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