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Chapter 2: The Enigma
If one didn't know Tonks as well as Charlie did, they'd probably say she was staring into space, thinking about nothing in particular. Because who thinks so hard at seven in the morning?
But Tonks was thinking. She'd spent the night coming up with possible leads as to where Parker's watch could be, based on what she knew about him and where he liked to hang out, on the chance that he may have just misplaced it. If the watch couldn't be found in any of those places, Tonks would follow the same example for everyone else's missing items, and then go to Parker at dinner this evening and ask for the names of anyone he could think of who would take it. Tonks had smiled thinking of Parker's reaction to her sitting by him at the Slytherin table and having it known that he had asked for her help. Charlie would like that.
Not that Tonks approved, not even secretly, but his imagined reaction had been rather funny... Then she thought maybe she'd just wait for him to finish and meet him outside. What Charlie wanted would have to wait until after they'd found the watch; he could give it to Parker himself in the Great Hall and ask for a thank you instead. It was one of Charlie's ideas.
This morning, however, Tonks' thoughts strayed from Parker's watch and the other missing items. What was perhaps her oldest mystery, and still unsolved right now, was currently residing at the end of Ravenclaw's table, alone like he was every morning and picking at his breakfast.
He wasn't the brooding sort and he didn't seem difficult to be around. When he was alone and quiet, it looked like a choice, just for those few moments to himself, but quiet wasn't how she generally saw him. In Hogsmeade, he was always in a group, always talking. She'd seen him smile and laugh and yell, she'd seen happy and angry. But never sad.
And it never felt like she was seeing him. Tonks imagined she was watching a play every time he did something. His life was staged, he put on a show for them all to see. She knew that. The people he talked to and laughed with weren't his friends.
It was their fourth year at Hogwarts and Tonks didn't know anything about Chase Cunningham. No one did.
She hated it.
"You know, you can stare at him all day, but I don't think he likes you," Charlie mock-whispered into Tonks' ear, causing heads to turn around and stare at them. A few snickered before turning back to their friends and Charlie went back to his breakfast, less than impressed that his friend had been so lost in her own thoughts that she hadn't even moved, let alone jumped like she had last time. Tonks blinked, then turned to face him. "The Hufflepuff table is over there," he said pointing behind him. "Why are you sat here this time?"
"I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. On my way back to bed, Olivia woke up crying from a nightmare; I'd heard her on my way out. I didn't help matters by sneezing and growing a beak as she looked at me." Tonks glanced at her House table, shrugged her shoulders when she turned back. "Now they won't talk to me. I thought it best to give it a few days."
"Smart move," Charlie agreed, taking a bite of sausage.
"And I don't like Chase Cunningham," she continued matter-of-factly. "I don't know him, that's the problem."
"Wouldn't be a problem if you talked to him," Charlie pointed out, itching the back of his neck where the label of his hand-me-downs caught his skin. Tonks chose not to comment on his uniform, last time he'd gone red and ignored her for an hour. Granted, they were in class and he couldn't talk anyway, but she had felt ignored, which was really the same thing, and she hadn't liked it.
"I'm not going to talk to him," she said instead.
"No, just stare at him because that's what normal people do, you know."
He slid further away from her, rubbing the spot where she'd given him a dead arm. "Watch yourself. Sarcasm will get you nowhere, Charlie Septimus," she narrowed her eyes.
"Sorry, Nymphadora. Forgive me, Nymphadora. I won't do it again, Nymphadora. Ah, don't pinch!"
Tonks laughed along with the Gryffindors around them while Charlie scowled, though he himself tried to fight a smile, her head turning away from him to finish her breakfast. From the corner of her eye, she thought she saw Chase Cunningham smile, too, watching them. She tapped Charlie to get his attention, but when they looked back the boy was gone.
The first bell rang, marking the end of Transfiguration, and Tonks was only too happy to leave the room, in hope that the strange feeling that she was being watched wouldn't be accompanying her. And it didn't... For the first couple of minutes. But the feeling came back and this time a voice followed.
"Do you know where to start?"
Tonks spun quickly, catching herself before she tripped over her foot in her haste, and locked eyes with her own personal enigma. Chase didn't move from his position; his body at an angle as he leaned against the wall and his arms folded over casually. His smile was small, but pleasant. Happy even. He raised an eye-brow in amusement, probably because he knew she was staring at him like an idiot, while he waited for her to answer him. But it was his eyes Tonks was most drawn to; there was a gleam in them that told her he was up to something, playing with her. Playing what? She had no clue.
Tonks hated that, too.
"I don't know what you are referring to," she finally managed to say, thankful she sounded more confident than she felt. She didn't like games when she didn't know the rules; they caused all sorts of problems. "And even if I did I wouldn't tell you. It's none of your business."
Turning on her heel, Tonks walked off. It was Care of Magical Creatures next and Charlie would have her head if she was late again. It was his favorite subject and, as his best friend, she was honor bound to be there from beginning to end. Only because she'd made him promise a long time ago to help with her mysteries and he'd made her promise something in return. But that was in First Year, Care of Magical Creatures wasn't taught until Third Year, so she hadn't thought about it at all. Tonks scowled; she should have known he'd pick something she'd hate.
Next time, make sure deals are made right there. Never give anyone time to think.
"Why are you scowling?" Tonks looked up quickly, finally noticing that her enigma was still beside her. Walking to class with her all of a sudden? What is going on? "You lose yourself in your own thoughts a lot, Dora. Do you notice?"
"What?" she asked quickly, unsure she'd heard him right.
"Do you notice you do that?" Chase asked again, still smiling, still looking like he was up to something. Did he want her to know that?
Ah. One strange thought at a time.
"I know I do. What did you call me?"
"Dora," he answered her slowly. His slightly smug expression was gone now, genuine confusion taking its place. He frowned, his hair falling into his eyes when he cocked his head to his right, and his eyes widened a little. He looked lost for a moment, like he'd not seen this coming and was unsure of his next step. Tonks had actually confused Chase Cunningham. A first. "Don't you like that name?"
"I do," she told him honestly, after a moments hesitation. Tonks pointed to her right, in the direction of the grounds, and gestured for them to continue walking to class. So, maybe she'd be a little late; she wasn't about to pass up an opportunity to understand Chase. Hadn't Charlie himself told her to talk to the boy? "It's just strange to hear someone in school call me that, that's all. Only my parents do. Everyone else calls me by my last name."
"Tonks." It wasn't a question, but she nodded anyway. She wanted to laugh seeing his expression. His mouth was twisted, his tongue stuck out at the corner; he looked like saying her last name had left a bad taste in his mouth, and while another may have thought of that as an insult, Tonks couldn't help but be amused by him. "I prefer 'Dora'," he said at last. "It's prettier."
Tonks would have taken that as a compliment, had the boy at her side not sounded so matter-of-fact. It felt a lot less complimentary when it sounded as though he was just casually stating a fact. He might as well have said "the sky is blue" for all it meant. But then she considered taking it as a compliment anyway; this was the first time Chase had ever said more than a couple of words to her, if it continued her mystery might finally be solved. And she'd never seen him give any other girl anything like a compliment.
So many firsts today.
"You can call me Dora. You sound as though you've made up your mind anyway." Chase answered her with a cheeky grin, but said nothing to either agree or disagree with her words. "I'd ask what you'd like to be called, but I don't think Chase has a shortened name. Nickname perhaps?" she asked, aiming for nonchalance.
Will he answer?
"Chase is fine."
Damn. Tonks tried not to look disappointed that what she thought was a clever little trick hadn't worked in her favor at all. Obviously he hadn't opened up during their walk.
"You didn't answer my question." After walking the rest of the way in surprisingly comfortable silence, Chase spoke as they got to the part of the grounds their lesson was being held. Tonks could see the other students; Charlie, the only one still with his back to the teacher, looked up and his eyes widened upon seeing them. Chase either didn't notice or didn't care. Tonks was willing to bet it was the latter. "Do you know where to start? With finding Parker's watch and the other things?"
"How do you know that?" she asked suspiciously.
Chase rolled his eyes. "People complaining about losing their things, people asking you questions every chance they get, and then Parker is suddenly not wearing his watch. It doesn't take a genius. I knew it be you who'd go looking."
Tonks couldn't argue with that; besides Parker, they hadn't exactly been discreet in speaking to her. But it didn't explain his want to know. Why was he suddenly interested in other people's business? She couldn't say. "I know where I'm starting," she answered finally, then she went to stand by Charlie. "Hey."
"Hello," he said, distracted.
His eyes kept drifting off to stare behind her back. Only when Tonks turn around did she realize that Chase had not gone to stand with the guys he was normally seen with. Instead he was beside her, just a few yards away at most. She turned quickly when their eyes met, deep blue locking with dark violet, her color of choice for the day. During the whole lesson, she felt his eyes on her and she knew that feeling in Transfiguration had been him, too. It wasn't until class was almost over that Tonks finally turned back around. Chase watched her for a moment, then rolled his eyes upwards and blew softly. His fringe curled from his breath. Then he winked.
Not understanding why, she frowned and he pointed at her. Tonks removed her hair from the bobble and brought a bit to her line of sight. Then she knew; her once matching violet hair was now a very deep red. A similar color to what she knew her face would undoubtedly be.
A/N: Bit of a wait, but finally a new chapter. And we meet mystery number three: Chase. I hope you like him and wonder about him. :P
Let me know what you think. :)