Remus and Tonks’s was the worst. Not that the others hadn’t been dreadful—Colin’s, which was just unreal, Dennis pale and unblinking by the grave with their Muggle parents; Mrs. Weasley wailing at Fred’s, gathering her remaining children to her expansive bosom so that all that Harry could see was a forest of red hair and blotchy faces. And one bright, brown eye, locked on his.
He hadn’t been able to find an opportunity to talk to Ginny; it hadn’t seemed right, when there was so much else to deal with, when there were things that needed to be acknowledged first. And there was so much that the two of them needed to talk about. At the reception after Fred’s, he had so wanted to sneak her away, but anywhere that Harry went there was a press of people—friends, well-wishers, reporters. Romilda Vane had shown up in a set of black robes that looked much better suited to a nightclub than a memorial and had sniffled and rubbed as close to Harry as she could until he had hissed, “You’re sixteen, for God’s sake! Did your mother let you leave the house in that outfit?”
Romilda had burst into tears in earnest, and had fled; Ginny shot him a blotchy smirk and then went back to consoling her mother.
Tonks and Remus, though…
There were very few mourners—even after all that had happened, few mourned the death of a werewolf; and Tonks was tarred as a half-breed blood-traitor by one group, a Black by another, a renegade by many in the MLES, and the degenerate who married and coupled with a murderous creature by most of the rest.
Most of the surviving members of the Order were there, but only Charlie represented the Weasleys. Bill was at Shell Cottage with Fleur, who was feeling ill, Percy was back in hospital—though the Healers were very pleased with his progress—and George was in no condition to attend a second funeral the morning after his twin’s, nor were their parents—the Healers had apparently given them enough Dreamless Sleep Potion to keep them out through the afternoon. Ron had left with Hermione immediately after Fred’s service to collect her parents from Australia. Charlie mumbled glumly to Harry that he and Ginny had drawn straws to see who would represent the family at the Tonks’s service, and who would keep picking up the pieces at home. “I won,” Charlie said.
“Lucky you,” grunted Harry, wishing more than anything that that long straw could have ended up in a smaller, softer, less burn-marked hand.
“Funny,” Charlie said, though his smile was somber. “She said exactly the same thing.”
As the small group congregated by the dual gravesite, Harry saw Andromeda Tonks standing beside the wizard with the tufty hair who had presided over Dumbledore’s funeral and Bill and Fleur’s wedding. Her face was as pale as Harry remembered her sister Bellatrix’s being, but the deep sorrow that etched it was an expression that Harry couldn’t imagine Mrs. Lestrange ever wearing. In her arms a tiny baby blew bubbles and tried to eat the hair that seemed to have much more grey in it than Harry remembered seeing on his one meeting with Tonks’s mother the year before.
Behind them Harry spied a head of wild, dirty blonde hair. Standing slightly apart from the other mourners, Luna swayed, tree-like, in a white dress that looked quite lovely on her, but which would have been far more appropriate if she had been getting married than attending a burial. As she leaned gently from side to side, her lips moved, and Harry was seized with the sudden certainty that she was reciting her own eccentric farewell to the dead. As the lovely sing-song voice of the presiding wizard droned on, Harry wished that he could hear whatever it was that she was saying or singing; he was sure that he would find far more comfort in her odd words than in any platitudes the nice old gent might spout.
There came the now-familiar burst of flame, and the two corpses were encased in a block of granite.
It was finished.
A line quickly formed to offer Mrs. Tonks condolences; Harry made sure that he was last. He noticed that Luna had wandered off among the other gravestones and seemed to be talking to them.
“I’m really sorry for your loss, Mrs. Tonks,” Harry murmured when he finally reached the front of the line.
She favored him with a sad smile that immediately brought to mind her daughter’s, and Harry found himself truly crying for the first time. “You know you must be in bad shape,” she said, handing him one of the conjured handkerchiefs that she was holding in her free hand, “when Harry Potter can find your lot tragic.”
He took the handkerchief and returned her smile. “Tonks… Nymphadora was… the best. She was just… And Remus. I…”
“I know, Harry,” she answered, and the tears were flowing down her aristocratic cheeks again. She rocked little Teddy, who was fast asleep. “They were very proud to be counted your friends.”
Harry started to say he regretted it, that he wished that they hadn’t been his friends—that they might have survived—but he couldn’t. He knew that it wasn’t true. “Sorry about your husband, too,” he sniffled, and she nodded.
They stood there, weeping, for a good long time. When he finally felt as if he could talk, Harry said, “I know there wasn’t a ceremony or anything, but Remus asked me to be Teddy’s godfather. If you need—”
“Teddy will stay with me,” Andromeda said, and for the first time since they had actually been introduced, Harry saw some of the Black fierceness in her eyes.
“Of course!” Harry agreed, relieved. He had considered the possibility that Mrs. Tonks might wish to be rid of a constant reminder of her loss, but the idea of raising a baby, when he was only seventeen himself… “But please—if there’s anything that I can do. Any time that I can help... Money—I’ve got more than I can use, including some that you and he are more entitled to than I am…!”
At this Andromeda laughed moistly. “Merlin!” she said. “Can you imagine what old Aunt Walpurga would say if Teddy or I were to step into that house? The blood-traitor and her half-breed grandson?” Again, her smile had a Tonks-like air of mischief to it. “Well, I turned my back on the Black family long ago, Harry, and I want none of what was theirs. But thank you. I think we will be fine—but I can’t say that a helping hand would be unappreciated. Raising babies is hard work.” Leaning forward and kissing him on the cheek, she added, “And a child needs a man around sometimes, Harry. I couldn’t be prouder than if my Teddy had you for a role model.”
Blushing and continuing to cry, Harry thanked her and they parted with a commitment from Harry to spend at least two afternoons every week with his godson. Harry had wanted to promise more—to come every day—but Andromeda had insisted. “You’ve a life to live, Harry. There are other worthy demands on your time and heart than this one, I think.”
Harry approached the tombstone: though it was grey, the stone was shot through with veins of purple that Harry felt sure that both Remus and Tonks would have approved of. He began tracing the two names with his fingers.
“Can’t believe it,” sighed a gruff voice—Charlie. “She was my best mate at Hogwarts, Tonks. Potions partners for seven years. First Hogsmeade date. First kiss. I mean, not like we were aflame with passion, or whatever it is that silly Days of Destiny program that Mum listens to is always on about. It’s just hard to think…” He shook his head; the hair seemed finally to have grown out from the wedding the previous summer.
“Yeah,” Harry muttered. “And Remus…”
“If ever a bloke deserved happiness… Well, I guess they had it, even if it wasn’t for very long.” Charlie’s bluff gaze found Teddy and his grandmother, who were thanking the wizard who had presided over the funeral. “Oi,” said Charlie with a start. “Speaking of blokes who deserve some happiness. My little squirt of a sister wanted me to tell you that she has the rest of your birthday present, and maybe you can come by this Saturday to collect it. That this Saturday happens to be a day when Mum and Dad are going over to Shell Cottage to spend some time with the eldest and his lovely lady, and that Ginny’s arranged for me to take George back to his shop for the first time…. Well, that’s probably just a coincidence.”
“Probably,” Harry said, very aware that not only could he not stop crying, but he couldn’t keep his cheeks from reddening either.
“Listen, Harry,” said Charlie, an atypical seriousness in his tone, “our Ginny is as tough as nails. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat her right. She’s more than capable of making your life miserable if you don’t—and six… And five brothers will back that up.”
“I won’t,” Harry answered fervently. “I could never hurt her. I promise.”
“I think that’s a promise you’ve already broken, Harry.” Harry was suddenly very aware that Charlie’s shoulders were nearly twice the width of his own. “It’s only because Ginny herself made it… painfully clear that she knew you never meant to hurt her that you haven’t had a visit from the lot of us who are still standing. So I’m just saying—”
“There’s only one person in the world whose needs I care about anywhere near as much as I do Ginny’s,” Harry said, looking into Charlie’s deep blue eyes, “and that’s my godson’s.”
Charlie frowned at him for a moment and then nodded. “Okay.” Charlie started to walk away, but turned back. “Oi, Harry?”
“Dunno what gift it is that Ginny’s got in mind for you, and I really don’t want to. But whatever it is, take it from me—birds love to be thanked properly. So do it right.”
Thinking that this was probably yet another tidbit from the book he’d never had a chance to read—Twelve Failsafe Ways to Charm Witches—he smiled. “Right,” he said as Charlie grinned, waved and departed. “Absolutely.”
Harry turned back to the tomb, his mind filled with images of bright eyes and soft, flower-scented hair and… So many things to say. To talk about. Hell, Remus, he thought, wish I could have asked you for some advice. And then he considered the two who lay beneath the stone, and realized that Remus was even more useless with the whole romance thing than Harry was himself. And Tonks probably would have been much more helpful, but her advice would almost certainly have been humiliatingly practical.
He found himself laughing as he cried; he removed his glasses, which were useless at this point, and laid both hands on the stone, which was warming in the late spring sun.
“Laughing at funerals is a good sign,” said an airy voice not far from him. “It keeps the Nargles from running wild.”
Barely startled—as if he had been expecting just such a statement—Harry laughed. “We wouldn’t want that,” he said.
“Oh, no,” said Luna, and then did something that she had never done: she circled her arms around his chest and lay her head on his shoulder. Harry found the gesture comforting, but at the same time it was so out of the usual sort of thing that passed between them that he stood stiffly in her hug for a moment before patting her back awkwardly. “Oh, Ginny was right,” Luna murmured into his neck. “Your shoulders are very nice.”
“Nicer than Dean’s?” he asked, his laugh thinner than normal.
“His are lovely, but yours truly are nice, Harry.” She snuggled in and sighed. “She talked all last autumn about how she missed them, and now I see why.”
“She missed… my shoulders?”
“Well, she missed other parts as well,” Luna answered. “Your eyes and your neck. Your lips. Your chest—”
“Right,” Harry said briskly. “That’s good to know.” Harry’s mind, which he had spent a year disciplining not to think of her at all (except perhaps as a moving dot on a map) suddenly began cataloguing all of the very various parts of Ginny, seen and unseen, visible and ethereal, that it had missed. There were many. “So! You and Dean!”
“Do you think so?” Luna asked, slowly releasing him.
“Sure,” he said. He hadn’t really thought about it much—just noticed the time they spent together at Shell Cottage, and a couple of times holding hands. Now that he thought about it, Harry thought it was lovely—Luna deserved to have someone great, and aside from Neville, who seemed to feel about Luna the way that Harry did about Hermione, Dean was one of the few boys that he could think of who really deserved her. It was easy to admit it, now that Dean was no longer a rival for Ginny’s affections: he was a good bloke. “Yeah. I think so.”
“How nice,” Luna said. “His shoulders may not be as pleasant as yours, but I’m rather fond of his sternum, and he kisses rather well. Also, he is very kind to my father without being at all condescending, and not many people are.”
“Luna,” Harry said, and after months of not even thinking of it, the image of Xenophilius Lovegood’s fear-twisted face suddenly filled Harry’s mind, “is your dad okay?”
“I think he’s rather wonderful,” answered Luna, who was now trailing a finger along the edge of the tombstone.
“Yeah,” mumbled Harry. “But… When… after… We were here—”
“When he tried to turn you over to the Ministry Death Eaters, you mean,” Luna said, and her voice had an unusually hard edge to it. “I was very angry with Daddy about that. You could have been hurt, and then you wouldn’t have been able to help rescue me and Mr. Ollivander and the rest. Daddy is wonderful, but he is sometimes a bit lacking in vision.”
“But they didn’t hurt him?”
“Oh, no,” answered Luna, her tone tranquil once again. “Hermione’s stratagem worked. They were very pleased with my father for being so cooperative. They didn’t beat him or curse him at all.”
“Good,” Harry said. As Luna smiled back at him, another memory came back. “Oh! Luna! I’m so sorry! Your room! We ruined it.”
“Oh, Harry,” said Luna, her fingers touching his left shoulder lightly, “it was only the floor and my bed. The part of my room that I truly cared about is perfectly fine.” She gave him a sunny smile, and instantly an image of five beaming faces came to him, bound together by chains of friendship.
“Do you think you’ll be adding Dean up on your ceiling?” he asked.
She stared at him placidly for a moment. “I don’t know. That would be nice. But Harry, even if I never find another friend to add to my ceiling, the five of you will always be there, and that will always be enough.”
“Oh,” he said, and, “thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Harry.” Luna smiled again and then leaned down and whispered to the tombstone. “Do not worry about young Theodore. Your mother will take very good care of him, Nymphadora, I am sure, and Harry will help her. And we will help him.” And then, lifting the train of her white, lacy robes with one hand, she waved goodbye to Harry with the other and disappeared with a pop so quiet that he could have almost convinced himself that it wasn’t there.