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Days of Magic, Nights of War

Chapter Text

It was Wednesday, and Nymphadora Tonks was not amused.

It had been three weeks since she was sworn in as an Auror. These should have been three weeks of excitement – keeping the peace, protecting citizens, chasing down drunken gits in sleazy pubs for disturbing the peace and whatnot – but instead, she’d been stuck here, in this cramped little cubicle in the crassly illuminated Auror Department, filing the paperwork assigned her by Rufus Scrimgeour, the head of the division and a man who appeared to be carrying on a love affair with the rules and regulations of the driest pieces of legislature Tonks had ever read. She did not enjoy it.

Tonks gnawed on the end of her quill and stared at the blank wall opposite her desk, then decided she should probably look busy in case her supervisor happened to pass by. She sat for a moment, then carefully scrawled on a piece of scrap paper: Eagle feathers are not good snacks.

“Very self-evident, Tonks,” she murmured, then glanced at the clock. The time was leaking by, slowly but persistently, like ink out of a cracked inkwell. The second hand ticked along busily in a very misleading fashion. Tonks watched it out of the corner of her eye. First time around. Okay, one minute’s passed. Now a minute and twelve seconds. Thirty seconds. Forty. Wait for it…the second time around! Now two minutes and ten seconds! And fifteen! And seventeen!

“Nymphadora.”

At the sound of Kingsley’s deep, slow voice Tonks jumped, banging the desk with her leg and tipping her inkwell onto the floor.

“Bloody buggering hell,” she said with feeling, and scrabbled for her wand. Kingsley flicked his once, and the stain faded. Tonks smiled at him weakly.

“Scrimgeour wants you to deliver your report personally,” he said, in a voice that could have been called a drawl, if it had had a little more derision and a little less sympathy. “He does it to check up on the newest arrivals. He’ll probably be calling you within minutes. Thought you might want a warning.”

“Thanks, Kingsley,” Tonks called after him as he departed down the hallway.


Within minutes. Damn, double damn and triple damn. She’d barely been paying attention to – well, to anything regarding the paperwork, really. And now she had to pull herself together and go give a report on it, to her boss, and she had to make a good impression because by Merlin it was only her fourth week and she’d be damned if she was fired! 

A slip of paper came flickering through her cracked door. Her summons, already? It appeared so. And it was marked urgent. Tonks spared a moment to thank whatever god sent Kingsley to warn her before she hastily gathered her papers into a somewhat orderly pile and fled the room, scattering unnecessary documents around her office and quite accidentally crashing into that redheaded assistant to Crouch as she went. He narrowed his eyes at her and stalked away like an offended cat, mumbling about clumsiness. In any other situation Tonks would have set him straight on the matter, but time was not on her side (as always) and she was probably already late by Scrimgeour’s scrupulous standards.

The flustered witch paused a moment outside his closed office door with the intention of prodding her thoughts into some semblance of order, trying her best to recall exactly what her task had been and how best to explain what she didn’t actually know without looking like an idiot.

“Come in, Auror Tonks,” said a clipped, brisk voice from behind the door. Tonks chewed her lip for a moment and turned the knob.

Her first impression of Scrimgeour was that he was considerably scarier in person than she had been led to believe; it might have been the feeling that beneath the pleasant exterior was a positively feral thing, or maybe the way he stared at her, as if she was a gazelle his leonine self would pounce on. Her second was the realization that his sharply angled face was actually rather attractive, in a raw, intimidating way, and that fact did not help her unfreeze her joints or unstick her tongue from the roof of her mouth.

He sized her up with yellow eyes and beckoned her closer. Tonks stepped forward, clutching her papers to her chest, trying her best to look courageous.

“You needn’t look as if you’ve stepped into the arena with a lion, Auror Tonks,” he said mildly. “I don’t bite. Unless you deserve it.”

Tonks considered darkening her skin to hide her blush, but felt that would be rather too obvious.

“Well, sir,” she began, and was proud of her strong, unshaking voice. “I have to say, the papers you gave me to file were, er, dense.”

“To say the least,” he responded, and steepled his fingers, giving the effect of a mad potions master observing a special brew. “How far did you get with them?”

Tonks was good at all manner of deceptions, but lying had never been one of them. “Not very, sir. They’re just too – I suppose – ” She revised her sentence. “I had just expected more field work when I went through training. That’s all. Sir,” she added hastily.

“You’ll get it eventually,” said Scrimgeour. There was an undertone of amusement in his voice. “But first, I require paperwork.”

Tonks attempted to apologize, but he shook his head. “No need to splutter. All recruits skive off their filing at first. I merely expect you to do it from now on.”

She forced herself to meet his disconcerting eyes. “Of course, sir.”

He examined her for a moment, eyes flickering from her feet to her face, then said with a hint of disapproval, “Precisely what good would purple hair do you in the field, Auror?”


Tonks thinned her lips. Reprimanding her on her procrastination was one thing; critiquing her appearance was another. Honestly, she got enough of that from her sadist of a mother.

“Well, sir,” she all but snapped, “I’d tell you first that I’m a Metamorphagus, so my hair color doesn’t matter, and I’d say second that my enemies would remember the hair and not the face under it.”

A corner of his mouth quirked. Tonks was rather distracted by it.

“Excellent, Auror,” he said. “Come in at lunch and we’ll discuss your paperwork.”

She was dismissed; it was clear from the way he adjusted his glasses and bent his head to his work. Tonks left in a similar state she’d entered in: flustered, disorganized, and completely taken aback. She was unsure about Scrimgeour; he was the kind of man she disliked, dictatorial and unyielding, but at the same time, there was definite hints of sarcasm in their conversation and oh Merlin, that smirk.

It didn’t matter. She was still employed. There was time to make a decision about him. Plus, they still had lunch.

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Tonks had always been a fickle girl, prone to short bouts of histrionics, loud outbursts, and irrational spurts of spontaneity, but overall she considered herself sensible. It was a matter of pride to her; her ability to put away childish emotions and apply herself to the task at hand was a mark of her Hufflepuff diligence, and she was nothing if not proud to be from one of the most underestimated Houses.

Too bad that ability seemed to be failing her. She felt like a fifth year with her first boyfriend, giddy, girly, and stupid.

“It’s business, Tonks,” she told herself firmly. And it was. Never mind the fact that Scrimgeour had only discussed paperwork over lunch once - and then kept coming, kept inviting her out to eat and finding her in the corridors and smirking at her, which completely slayed her and had the side effect of awkward in-office fantasies which weren’t appropriate for an Auror on-duty. Never mind that he was a good thirty years older than her and probably had a wife at home (or a boyfriend, who knew, those Ministry blokes seemed to all be trapped in the same closet).

Tonks ruffled her hair, which was a beguiling shade of lilac today, and eyed her deskwork distrustingly. Scrimgeour may have been her favourite obsession but the man gave piles of documents for her to analyze and sometimes she hated him.

“This is a familiar motif,” came his annoying familiar voice from her doorway. Tonks glanced up and raised an eyebrow at him; he looked far too comfortable there for her comfort. “You, my most kinetic young Auror, glaring at your paperwork, and I, your long-suffering supervisor, waiting for you to finish it.”

“I really hate you sometimes, you know?” said Tonks with a sigh, avoiding his eye as he strode to her desk. Scrimgeour never walked anywhere, really. He either limped or strode, depending on his mood; other adjectives never seemed to fit.

“Yes,” he replied, infuriatingly unruffled, “but so does most of the department.” He picked up a snow globe from her desk and examined the little unicorn inside it. It huffed at him and banged its hooves against the dome. “And even they love me in the end.”

Tonks swallowed. This was veering into territory she didn’t feel like discussing.

“You know, if you shake that, glitter goes everywhere and it’s much prettier,” she pointed out as Scrimgeour set the snow globe gently on her desk.

“I am not much of a glitter person,” he said, and she snorted.

“That’s obvious,” she retorted, attempting to get back to work and watch him at the same time. It resulted in eyestrain and was supremely ineffective.

“Are you coming to lunch?” he asked her, point-blank. Tonks blinked at him in faux surprise; his face was utterly placid, except for those alarming yellow eyes that always seemed to notice more than Tonks especially wanted them to.

“I have work,” she said, and gestured at her desk.

“So I observed,” he said dryly. “Take it with you.”

“All right,” she conceded, although it really hadn’t taken much of an argument to make her say yes. “I’ll meet you in your office, yeah?”

“No,” he said, “we’re going out.”

“Oh.” There seemed to be a flurry of hummingbirds waltzing in her stomach. “Where?”

“Your choice,” he said. Tonks rather thought she heard a smirk in his voice. “I thought the office was becoming a bit boring.”

“Never thought I’d hear you say that,” teased Tonks, who was slightly overcome with a weird form of exhilaration that put her in mind of her teenage years.

“There’s a lot about me you don’t know, Auror,” he countered.

“I look forward to finding out,” she said in a tone rife with implications. She thought she might have seen a flush on her employer’s angular face. Tonks smirked at the idea, and although Scrimgeour gathered himself admirably fast and proceeded her into the corridor, the thought that she might have set the man she fancied off balance was one she liked indeed.

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Tonks had an oral fixation. She was always chewing at her quill while writing, or gnawing on her lower lip, or peeling the skin from her cuticles with her teeth. Occasionally Rufus found these traits endearing, but mostly it annoyed him; he didn’t like disorder in his world, and her inability to sit still combined with the raw skin on her fingers and the contorted feathers of her quills drove him absolutely bloody insane. In his mind, it was just one step from minor disarray to total anarchy. And he couldn’t have that.

(Rufus himself had a slight issue with control, or rather the concept that anyone but he could ever have any. Although naturally, trying to force him to admit it was an impossibility, rather like trying to force a lion into eating a garden salad instead of a zebra. It was unnatural for either to appear dainty or weak.)

Right now she was rocking slightly in her chair while poking her lip resolutely with the tip of her quill. It left a black dot of ink, which marred the symmetry of her small, pouting mouth, with the added effect of giving Rufus an excuse to stare at her lips without getting labeled a letch (or, of course, forcing him to acknowledge the fact that there actually were more reasons to look at her other than her asymmetry in his perfectly catalogued office).

“Auror Tonks,” he said, with a slight sigh. “If you don’t wipe the ink off your lip I’ll throw you out of my office. It’s unprofessional.”

“But sir, you haven’t given me paperwork in almost four months,” she said, taking her eyes off her documents and shooting him a grin. “I’ll go crazy without things to file.”

Rufus merely raised an eyebrow at her, an expression he had practiced on young recruits and junior Aurors for years. Sometimes the combination of his disturbingly yellow eyes and his uncanny ability to keep perfectly still for extended periods of time made them cower. It didn’t quite have the same effect on Tonks (but then again, Rufus thought resignedly, nothing I do does); she wiped the smear off with the back of her hand and continued watching him with an odd little grin on her face.

It evolved into a game of break-the-silence, since Rufus certainly wasn’t going to ask her just what she thought she was doing, and Tonks seemed to have no inclination to do anything but make him uncomfortable. Which she was skilled at; now that she was a true Auror, tested in the field and therefore not someone he could boss around (as much), she’d been sent out on missions and they hadn’t had lunch together in several months. Once, while eating curry in his office and going over paperwork late at night, he felt an odd stab of melancholy at the thought of her and wondered if he was lonely. He dismissed the thought immediately and stuffed it under the rug of his subconscious, along with the other things that made him uneasy.

“You know what you need?” she said, breaking the silence at last. Rufus considered, decided it was a rhetorical question and chose not to answer.

Tonks fidgeted, and Rufus appeased her by saying, “No. But I assume you’re going to enlighten me.”

“You need some disorder in your life!” Tonks delivered this death threat with a level of cheeriness Rufus found highly inappropriate for the situation.

“No,” he said, quite firmly. “I really don’t.”

Tonks took her quill, snapped most of the feather off, and laid it gently on his desk. Rufus stared at it, quite nonplussed.

“See?” she said happily. “Not so bad, is it?”

Rufus gave her a look that attempted to be scathing but ended up more amused, picked up the feather between two fingers, and dropped it in the trash bin.

“Ooh, that’s playing dirty,” she teased.

“This is just one of the many ways I can,” Rufus insinuated back. This was one of several comebacks he would have liked to have made, none of them exactly appropriate, but he couldn’t resist the opportunity to make Tonks discomfited, as she so often did to him.

She flushed, which was rather satisfying, but then she dared to reach across his desk, pluck a sheaf of paper from his files, and drop them. They scattered (in an area with an approximate diameter of three feet, but that was three feet too many for Rufus) and Tonks snickered at the expression on his face. He raised his eyes and held hers, distinctly unamused, but then she laughed and caught her lower lip between her teeth (one of those endearing habits he’d been thinking about).

Rufus felt an odd flicker of emotion, one he was very uncomfortable with, and shooed it away with a wave of his hand.

“It’s almost one,” he said, to cover up the inane gesture. “You should get back to your desk, shouldn’t you?”

“Hmm,” she replied, eyes following his hand as he lowered it to his desk. “I suppose so. But I’ll help you to clear up the papers, shall I?”

“I fear your organizational skills,” Rufus said dryly. “I think I’ll manage.”

Something danced across her expression; for a moment she looked taken aback, but she beamed at him and said, “If that’s what you want, okay. Oh, and thanks for lunch!”

Tonks exited with little fanfare, her pink hair winking at him before she turned the corner. He could hear her traipsing down the hallway with her usual grace, calling out to another Auror: “Wotcher, Rita!”

Rufus stood for a moment in contemplation, something he rarely did; he was much more a believer in action as opposed to introspection. With a gesture of his wand, his papers fluttered together and filed themselves neatly, dropping back on his desk with a thunk. The head of the Auror department seated himself and got back to work. It was what he was good at, really, now that he was (a cripple, the bitter, self-loathing part of his psyche hissed) unable to chase down criminals in the field, like his younger Aurors.

Later, Rufus marked his place in the thick document he was perusing and dug the feather out of the trash bin. He placed it across the front of his desk, a wild departure from the neat, orderly rows of ink vials and fountain pens. It stayed there for months.

Chapter Text

She’s got him pinned against the wall, gripping his hips, and although he’s not quite putting out the effort she’s used to it’s fine to her scotch-addled mind, which is more concerned with undoing the buttons on his trousers than critiquing the poor lad on his technique. Tonks has the feeling he’s alarmed at her aggressiveness, but she doesn’t care; if he didn’t want her he’d push her off, right? She’s a small girl, relatively speaking, and clumsy even without alcohol, so really, just one tip! and she’d be down for the count, but he’s not doing anything, therefore she’s going to do it, she wants something she can’t have so she’s going to settle for the fucking surrogate –

“Auror Tonks.” The voice could have frozen mercury, melted nitrogen, made dementors cry, and it sends her stumbling down and away and to the floor, which seems like a longer fall and a closer hit than she’d imagined. The boy – and he’s really just a boy, stupid Tonks, dirty old woman already – flees, sweet redheaded boy, she wants to apologize for gratuitously groping him at a Ministry party but he’s gone through the door and that leaves her to deal with Rufus Scrimgeour, glowering down at her, canary eyes like miniature supernovas positively radiating fury.

“Unprofessional.” It cuts her, and she flinches as if it were physical. It’s quite possibly the biggest insult in his mental dictionary, right alongside 'Death Eater' and 'downright idiot', the latter of which could be applied to her, since he’s the one she was pretending to be snogging against the wall.

“Yes,” he snaps, and drags her to her feet roughly, her wrist’ll bruise later but that’s okay because he touched her, and she’s so pathetically attuned to their proximity it barely registers when he keeps speaking until she suddenly snaps to and hears what he’s saying.

“Unprofessional, immature, idiotic, far below what I would have expected of you as an Auror and as a woman, disgraceful, humiliating! How you can even think of shagging bloody teenagers across the hall from your superiors is beyond me – ” and Tonks is hurt to the point of tears but she’ll be damned if he sees her cry, and she’s sick of his hissed insults and his denial of his lust for her and she just wants him to shut up and kiss her already, so –

“Shut the fuck up,” she says, and jerks her wrist from his grasp. For a moment he looks completely floored, and she revels in that, then his face closes, hardens, and he opens his mouth to say something else, but no, she’s not going to let him.

“You heard me,” she repeats, “I said shut the fuck up and listen to me.” She’s not slurring, which is impressive, but she thinks she may be speaking louder than she should, so she tones it down and grabs him by the collar and drags him to her, her lips at his ear.

“How dare you condescend to me like that,” she hisses, “how dare you treat me like a chit of a girl, a stupid slag you get to boss around and fuck with because you like the power trip so much.”

He jerks his head at that, smacking into hers, and although that sends her reeling she fists his jacket and catches herself at the last minute, refusing to stop her stream of thought, the words she’s been wanting to say for so long but has been too much of a coward to say.

“You have no idea – that’s right, no fucking idea! – what you’ve done to me, you and your bloody smirks and your bloody eyes and the way you talk to me. It’s not – ” despite her best attempts at control, tears are leaking out the corners of her eyes and weakening her, weakening her resolve and making her want to curl up and ignore the world “ – it’s not fair, that’s what it’s not! Because after all this, after all I put myself through, you have the bloody nerve to go and lecture me about sleeping around when it’s all your fault, all your fucking – ”

He kisses her, crushing their lips together like he’s recovering from oxygen addiction, it’s harsh and messy and painful but oh holy mother of fuck it’s so good. She stumbles back and inadvertently yanks him forward but since he’s pinning her against the wall now and gripping her wrists, holding them against the cold stone and absolutely ravishing her with his mouth and teeth and tongue, she doesn’t mind her clumsiness so much. There’s a sharp pain on her lip that sends a throb of sensation to the pit of her stomach, where it collects and pulses between her legs, and now she tastes blood in her mouth (or it could be the whiskey) but no, she doesn’t care at all, she’s far too focused on the scent and taste and feel of the moment to worry about things like blood.

He lets go of her wrists to grab her hips and reposition them closer to his, cupping her arse with one hand and propping himself against the wall with the other. She takes advantage of her freedom by winding her fingers in his hair, which is more wild than usual, and flinging one leg around his hip. The sudden friction between them makes her gasp and push against him, craving more, but he shakes his head in frustration and moves his hands to her shirt, and oh Merlin he’s unbuttoning it, from the dressy collar downward, until their combined impatience makes him curse under his breath and rip it open, scattering the pearl buttons everywhere.

At the first brush of his lips against her skin she inhales sharply, and whimpers on the exhale when his mouth starts lapping, teasing, provoking. This is a side of Scrimgeour she hasn’t seen, one she’d only imagined in her dirtiest fantasies, controlling and violent and positively feral, and it’s making her squirm, making her beg incoherently for his touch, his fingers elsewhere than skating down her side, raising goosebumps on her skin.

He rises and looks at her, looks her in the eye for the first time this whole night, and the possessiveness in his gaze makes her almost giggle with happiness and a little bit of anxiety.

Tonks unzips her fitted slacks, fumbling with the clasp, and shimmies her hips to shake them down, flicking them away with her foot. His hands are on his own belt, hurriedly unhooking it, but they stall for a moment when she pushes her lilac panties to her ankles and steps out of them. She fancies she hears a groan from the back of his throat before he unhooks, unbuttons, and smacks her against the wall and presses against her, deliciously tense, tantalizingly aroused.

For a moment they pause. It’s one of the weirdest sexual moments Tonks has ever experienced, but absolutely beautifully erotic in its clarity. He is breathing heavily, but still, so still a spark of worry digs inside her and she ducks her head to hide her self-consciousness. She presses her lips against his throat and feels his pulse, thudding like a jackhammer, she sighs Rufus against his skin and their fingers slide, grip, dance across flesh and slip in, dart back and forth. They’re both trembling, lips barely touching, he’s whispering her name like a precious secret into her mouth and she doesn’t mind the awkward syllables because for once they flow, in his voice they sound like the name of a goddess.

When the wave hits she’s unprepared, too caught up in the perfection of the moment, and she cries out and arches against his fingers. It rolls, over and over, swamping her in intensity, until she’s shuddered back into reality and sees from his dilated pupils he went with her.

It’s clear he’s astonished, because for once the cynicism and hardness is washed away from his stare. As if she’s a hallucination, as if he can’t believe she’s here, he stares at her, and she peers back.

Chapter Text

Sometimes Tonks wonders who else knows. After all, it was just one time – just once, against the wall, a dalliance of lips and teeth and alcohol – and ever since then she and Scrimgeour have avoided the topic the best they can, carrying on with their lunch dates like usual. But it’s just so tense. Everything is fake. Their smiles and conversations and her complaints about all that damned paperwork are haunted by the ghost of the Ministry ball: one night, two lusts, no words spoken. She watches him, though, and sometimes she thinks he steals glances at her. It all feels so obvious.

Sometimes she wishes someone else knew. She’s lonely and heartsick, and the oncoming shadow of the Dark is tainting her formerly happy world. And all she really wants is someone to talk to.

Chapter Text

Rufus is well aware of public sentiment towards him, especially with the Prophet trumpeting every failure of the Ministry's with a relish that's unsuitable for any type of responsible print journalism; more than anything he wants to seek out Rita Skeeter and her ilk and take them to his office, force them to crawl out before the slavering dogs of the media at every press conference and stand tall by the podium, stare the people in the eye and tell them those dreaded words: no progress has been made, there have been more attacks, there has been a leak of information in the Department of Mysteries. Or worse, sit at his desk, uncorking the top of his bottle of firewhiskey as he signs the letters that begin, "Dear Sir or Madam ___________, we regret to inform you that your son or daughter ____________ has fallen in the line of duty protecting his country and wizardkind" – and afterward, when most lower-level workers have gone home, he sits in that same oaken chair (bottle three-quarters drained by now) and listens to the Howlers his public sends him, glassy-eyed, letting every last word and painfully muffled sob rip him apart like the alcohol destroys his liver. Could they do that, these pathetic sniveling journalists who believe they could straighten this country up and turn it around?

No, they can't, and that is why Rufus is here in his office at half past two in the morning, the pain in his leg so deep it's almost faded from his mind (until he tries to move; then he staggers, nearly collapses, grips the corner of his desk and wonders just how he'll survive when the final battle comes). He tips the remainder of the firewhiskey into his hip flask; good to have it on the run. Good is the wrong word for it, of course, but he can't be bothered to think about the correct one. He is so gut-achingly, marrow-throbbingly weary, with every connotation the word has. He misses her profoundly.

This exhaustion is almost worse than the loneliness.

Chapter Text

She steps into his office for the first time in months, her hair limp and plain, looking grim and tired; she hasn't bothered to hide the bags beneath her eyes.

"Auror Tonks," Rufus says, making to stand, but reconsidering as the old wound shrieks angrily in protest. He satisfies himself with inclining his head regally, never once taking his eyes off her.

"We've lost Antiope," she says bluntly, and upon reevaluation he can see the redness encircling her eyes, the defeated slump of her shoulders. "In the Bulstrode Mansion raid – a reverberating Stunning Spell hit a piece of armor and it…well. You can guess."

"That's regrettable," he says, stroking the feathered barbs of his quill into a neat row with fingers that don't tremble, despite the flurry in his brain. "She was one of our most skilled Aurors. A good witch. She'll be missed."

"The funeral's on Wednesday, if you want to come." She's observing him closely, her lower lip caught between her teeth; her lips are dry and chapped, cracked where she's bitten them raw from frustration or fear.

He doesn't break eye contract as he tells her, "I'm afraid I can't make it. Please give my sympathies to the family."

She stares for a moment, unbelievingly, then says quietly, furiously, "You've changed, Minister. And I don't mean that in a good way."

Before she says this, he'd almost managed to say something worthwhile, something meaningful, something he'd never say, something like "I need you to stay here, I need some human contact", maybe even "please", but the phrases die on his lips as she stomps out of his door.

When she's gone, Rufus takes a swig from his hip flask, brushes aside their encounter the best he can, and resumes work. Somewhere else, somewhere caught in the thicket of war and pain, Tonks does too.

They are Aurors. They always will.

Chapter Text

Everyone knew. Some approved of it, saying it was time the Minister had some pleasure in his life and as long as the two were discreet and restricted themselves to empty rooms and deserted corridors, who was to deny them a bit of affection in these troubled times? It was wartime, and people wanted to cling to each other, seeking solace and stability, even if just for a moment. Others sneered to each other, traded gossip in undertones and rolled their eyes at their Minister’s back. Cradle robber, they whispered, slut, the trophy girlfriend and the old man. Disregarding her maturity, focusing on his limp, demeaning their rapport, the murmurs never ceased. Tonks didn’t care. Why should she? She was more concerned with the solace she found in his bed, the flicker of his tongue across her clit, the affection in his eyes when they fell upon her, the way he yielded to her kisses and responded to her questions, his refusal to heal the love bites on his collarbone that marked him as hers. He embraced her, purple hair and all, and in return she loved him, adored him, kissed his scars and defended him to her family and her friends with a fierceness she hadn’t known she possessed.

It was wartime, and they were in love. Yes, they were flawed; to outsiders they were awkward and selfish, driven by lust and loneliness. To each other they were precious, a perfect pair of imperfect people, and their hands fit together beautifully.