Against The Dark
PG, het, Remus/Tonks. Summer in Oxford.
The Dark Lord thrives in darkness. Remus thinks it isn’t a
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.