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Defence Against The Dark
the dreaming spires
by Raven

PG, het, Remus/Tonks. Summer in Oxford.

The Dark Lord thrives in darkness. Remus thinks it isn’t a truism.

He remembers nights like this one, quiet, shadowed twilights dodging stray wineglasses fallen on the grass. Those were northern summers, bright and sharp like the sparkle off the lake; it wasn’t until many years later that Remus learned this gentler pleasure, the falling softness of dusk over the dreaming spires. Even in the dimness he knows the stones, worn granite, sun-warmed sandstone, rough and familiar beneath his trailing fingers.

The books, too, are old friends. Remus suspects no one, not even Dumbledore, has ever known where they are all hidden. The finding of each one is the uncovering of a treasure, each dusty page priceless now that the Hogwarts copies are gone, and each new clue a new hope. For Remus there are the card indexes and the vaults, the whispered cooperation of aged college librarians; for Tonks, the arcane arts of keyword searches and Boolean operators, wide-eyed flirtations with churlish undergraduates. She turns down the offers and keeps the phone numbers – Remus finds them in his coat pockets and uses them as rolling papers. He smokes after dark, by the Isis, cigarette tip glowing bright and reflected in black water. She sits beside him, in silence, listening to the dim-lit punts and the gentle slop, slop, of the water on her feet.

More than anything else, he wishes they could stay. There is summer here, even on the wettest days; youth and love and intellectual passion have seeped into the stones, into the water so the flowers bloom brighter, splashes of colour in the endless salad days. They have walked here, they have fought here, they have made love and made up here, they have lived here away from war. When she trips on the cobbles he picks her up, and he only wishes they could stay.

In the wreckage of the Lower Reading Room, Remus thinks: the Dark Lord thrives in darkness, and it isn’t a truism. The books burn and light up the night; the dons are shaking, shivering below the tables, their minds twisting in pain as memory charms tear like paper. Remus holds a book above his head, to block out the smoke, to light his way in the shadows, and without the words they will lose this war. Without the words he will lose himself.

Voldemort is there, warming his cold, cold hands on the wisdom of ages. Remus runs for the night, shouting one name, finds her sooty and safe but with eyelashes singed away by fire and flame. She has saved three books; he has saved two. They must leave here tonight.

Away from Carfax, away from the city to the curving green of open country, Remus knows he has lost his books and his passion, lost nights by the water, lost his last weapon and his last refuge; he has lost Oxford forever. And the pain of it – he glances to his right, sees her beside him with each step, each heartbeat – is not the loss, but the knowledge that he has one thing left to lose.


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