Chapter 3 : How Soon is Now?
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I passed Ginny who was sitting on the staircase looking rather sullen. “Wotcher, Ginny,” I said cheerily.
"Hi Tonks,” she said in a gloomy voice.
“You okay?” I asked sitting next to her on the stairs.
“I can’t get the extendable ears into the kitchen,” Ginny said with a touch of frustration.
“Ah, yeah, Molly makes it Imperturbable,” I said remembering her trips to the entry way to secure our meetings. I glanced at Ginny, she was evidently tired of being out of the loop. “You know… if you toss something at the doorway and it bounces off, you’ll know it’s Imperturbable.”
Ginny smiled at me, “Thanks, Tonks. I’ll give it a try tonight.”
I grinned back. “Well, don’t tell your mum I told you how to check. It’s supposed to be an important meeting so she’ll be on guard for any snooping.”
“Good luck getting Harry tonight,” Ginny said before heading up the stairs. I laughed, thinking of my own good luck charm, and said thanks before heading down to the kitchen excited for the night’s business. I kept running through all the scenarios of how Remus could act around me today, hoping he’d be the same, sweet guy he usually was. I held my breath a bit as I walked in the door.
As walked into the kitchen where a small coterie there already. I managed to elicit quite a few quizzical looks upon my arrival. At first, I felt slightly mortified, thinking they all knew about the previous night. Then I remembered that my broomstick was in its guitar case, which was slung over my shoulder.
“Going to a peace rally?” Sirius asked sardonically eyeing my hair and guitar case.
I rolled my eyes, set down my guitar case, and opened it so they couldn’t see its contents. Then I pulled out my broom with a grin and said, “I got this guitar case at a Weird Sisters concert. They wouldn’t give me the guitar though.”
After adding my broom to the others to be used that evening, I brought the case to a closet upstairs where I checked my hair. It looked alright for violet though it wasn’t exactly my color. Molly was going to send them to Privet Drive after we arrived.
I looked around at the group there and felt knot building in my stomach. From what I could tell, Sirius wasn’t acting any more immature than usual, so it seemed that Remus wasn’t a tell-all or a tell-anything for that matter. Moody was there checking the clock every few minutes. I smiled at him and he grunted back, not willing to spare time for the niceties. I knew that was his way of saying hello. Sturgis was seated next to Moody talking in low whispers about duty.
I squeezed between Sirius and Moody despite there being more space close to Remus. I didn’t want an awkward moment between Remus and me after last night. Sturgis got up to go right as the rest of the Guard walked in – he was to go to Privet Drive and signal when we could make our appearance.
Everyone sat in excited anticipation when Moody announced that we needed to go and head to our apparation point. As we headed upstairs, Ron and Hermione waved us off. Ginny was a few steps above them with Fred and George even further up. As I was walking by the umbrella stand, I almost walked into it until Moody grabbed my arm and yanked me ahead. I waved merrily to the kids and flung my hand into Emmeline Vance’s shoulder.
I saw Remus smirking at me from behind. “Something amusing you, Remus?” I asked as we waited by the door for Moody to use the put-outer.
He shook his head. “No, nothing’s amusing me Nympha-”
“It’s Tonks,” I cut across him. Remus rolled his eyes slightly but was still smiling. I eased up a bit. “Well, with a smirk like that I thought perhaps you just got shagged or won the lottery. Seeing as Sirius didn’t look nearly as content as you do, I’m guessing it’s the lottery,” I said in a whisper.
Remus didn’t respond but there was a twinkle in his eyes that denoted suppressed laughter. The rest of the Guard was chatting in an excited whisper masking Remus’ and my exchange. Moody busy was watching the sky for a signal that the coast was clear.
When we got the go-ahead, we apparated 30 seconds apart. Moody went first and Remus went last. When I arrived with a slight crack, Moody was finishing up with the put-outer. I went up to the door and unlocked it with a quiet alohomora, entering the kitchen. Dedalus Diggle walked into me and I stumbled forward and knocked a decorative plate off the wall.
“Watch it!” Emmeline Vance hissed.
“I am watching it,” I whispered back before waving my wand and repaired the plate. I looked at it and cringed. “It was better broken,” I laughed. The rest of the Guard walked in and looked around as if hoping for further instruction. We hadn’t agreed on who should go get Harry.
“Remus, go up and get him,” Sturgis said brusquely.
Remus looked flustered by our oversight in the plan. “I’ll go,” he said decisively.
Moody put a hand up to stop Remus from ascending the stairs. “No need, Potter’s coming.”
We all gathered near the bottom of the stairs staring towards the top expectantly. There was a slight buzz of conversation when Harry appeared looking disheveled but lively. He had his wand out and was pointing it in our general direction.
Harry was greeted by an impatient admonition from Moody, which made Harry seem uncomfortable. I could understand his apprehension as he had only known an imposter. Remus cut into their awkward dialogue and was able to gain Harry’s trust by his merely presence.
Listening to Remus address Harry with love and concern and fact that Harry called him Professor caused my mind to wander momentarily. It was certainly a fitting title and I could easily imagine Remus sitting behind a desk reading over an essay or giving a lecture on proper tea brewing - It sounded sexy.
Coming to my senses, I asked why we were all lurking in the dark and lit my wand, illuminating the area. Remus was beaming up at Harry.
“Ooooh, he looks just like I thought he would*,” I said, sounding more excited than I meant.
This caused our previously focused guard to break into commentary about Harry’s appearance. Kingsley, who either knew James or had seen enough photos to know how much Harry resembled his father except for his eyes.
Then Moody brought us back to our task by questioning whether he were really talking to Harry. It seemed like a fitting question given his recent experience with stand-ins. Moody asked if anyone happened to bring veritaserum and I rolled my eyes - of course no one had veritaserum. Who has that handy in their pocket?
Luckily, Remus was able to confirm Harry’s identity by asking what shape his patronus took. It fit that he would know that as he taught Harry how to cast that tricky charm. The tension diffused between Harry and the Guard until Harry used his back pocket for wand storage. Moody, a stickler for wand safety, reprimanded the teen for using his back pocket as it was a risk for the loss of a buttocks.
I couldn’t resist asking who Moody he knew that lost a buttocks and eyed Mad-Eye’s backside out of sheer curiosity. Moody rebuffed my question with his terse gruffness which made me smirk and roll my eyes. My reaction did not go unnoticed as a terse response came from the kitchen, causing me to grin for a moment longer.
Remus and Harry were talking quietly when I heard Harry express our luck that the Dursleys were out. I let out a sharp laugh and explained the lawn context ruse. Harry seemed amused by the idea of them being tricked. I couldn’t help but notice Harry giving Moody an uncomfortable look which Remus took note of as well.
Remus, who seemed to have a great deal of paternal care for Harry, assured him that we were with the real Moody. Then, he seemed to recall that Harry didn’t know most of the Guard. To my aggravation, Remus introduced me as Nymphadora. I corrected with a short, “It’s Tonks.”
Giving me a look, Remus continued undeterred, “—Nymphadora Tonks, who prefers to be known by her surname only,” he finished, suppressing a shy grin. * Remus moved on to the rest of the group. Harry nodded to each as their name was called. I continued looking around noting the differences in this house and my muggle-grandparent’s house.
Harry made an inquiry about what Voldemort was planning which caused an uncomfortable shudder to circle the room. Moody cut Harry off and insisted that we’d fill him in later. While Moody was talking, his magical eye became stuck which seemed to be a frequent occurrence since his eye was worn by another for so long. Seeing Moody pop his magical eye out made my stomach squirm. The eye itself didn’t bother me but seeing his empty socket was quite disgusting. Feeling that honesty is important, I let Moody know but he was unconcerned by my opinion but asked for water to put his eye in.
Remus asked Harry to go pack his belongings and I offered to help as a way to be more useful. Harry’s messy room was a nice contrast to the rest of the house. Walking past the wardrobe I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Purple was not doing me any favors that night.
Harry looked up from the things he had in his hands as I asked his opinion. I only got a noncommittal response. Deciding it did make me look somewhat ill, I twisted my face in concentration and changed my hair back to pink. What had been awkward indifference from Harry turned into interest and curiosity. Neither of us made progress on packing while I chatted with Harry about being a metamorphmagus. After a few minutes of no progress I realized I had been holding the same three items and most of the contents of Harry’s room were still scattered.
We both looked around guiltily. Harry grabbed some more books and tossed them into his trunk. I tried my hand at a packing charm, causing his things flew pell-mell into the trunk. I had a go at cleaning his owl’s cage, but only managed to get some of it gone. We made our way down stairs. I couldn’t help but admire Harry’s broomstick as I wanted a Firebolt but I couldn’t afford one on an Auror’s salary.
As we descended the stairs, Remus looked up at us let out a quick, “excellent”. My heart fluttered until my brain registered that the excellent was for Harry, not me. I carried the trunk Harry and Remus, who were conversing about our plan to leave and waited by the door for us to leave.
Once we were all out on the grass Moody started explaining the flight formation to Harry. Molly had sent our brooms and Sturgis was handing them out. Moody made it sound like we were going to be attacked mid-flight and idea that made him sound somewhat excited.
“Stop being so cheerful, Mad-Eye he’ll think we’re not taking this seriously,” *I said fixing Harry’s trunk to my broom. After a few moments squabbling, we took off. I had a fairly easy job, flying in the lead and following the directions Moody shouted over the turbulent wind. After a while, and several strange turns, Moody was starting to get ridiculous with his bearings. Thank goodness Remus was there to mediate. Right when Moody was to have us go an extra 20 miles out of the way, Remus called for us to descend.
After landing, Moody fiddled with the put-outer and I struggled with Harry’s trunk until Remus came by to help me carry it in. We seemed to come right before the meeting. Molly was near the door waiting, quite ecstatic to see Harry. She conducted Harry and his trunk upstairs to where Hermione and Ron were. Before they got too far up the stairs I tripped over that blasted umbrella stand. I was talking to Remus and was looking at him, not the path. After some chaos Sirius came up and helped us subdue the paintings, allowing us to continue downstairs once the shrieking painting was subdued.
The room seemed extremely full but I managed to find a seat by Bill. When Sirius passed by me he commented on how I change my hair more often than some people in the room, he looked pointedly at Snape, change their underwear. I laughed loudly then stopped, not wanting to seem even more juvenile compared to everyone else. Snape sneered at me though I doubted he knew he had been at the receiving end of the joke.
It was during this meeting that Snape divulged that Voldemort was seeking a prophecy from the Department of Mysteries. He thought it contained information that would be useful to his cause. There wasn’t more information on who or what the information was about, but that didn’t matter. We needed to stop the Death Eaters from getting it. They had layouts of the Department which were top-secret as far as I knew. A bit into the meeting, there was a low rumble from upstairs, causing Remus to look up and frown. It sounded like Harry was having a go at Ron and Hermione. Undeterred, Snape continued through his report after which Moody went through his explanation of the guard duty we’d be doing at the Ministry. It seemed that he had been doing an alternating vigil there with Podmore up until that night.
After the meeting Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred and George came into the kitchen followed closely by Molly. Dinner that night was fun and lively. The environment calmed down into a lull until Sirius prodded Harry into asking about Voldemort, causing a bit of chaos broke out. Molly and Sirius went toe-to-toe about letting Harry ask or not ask questions about Voldemort. Arthur and Remus were a bit more reasonable when it came to allowing him information – I stayed out of the argument as it wasn’t an argument I fancied stepping into. When Remus and Arthur sided with Sirius, Molly escorted Ginny to bed, and Harry started asking questions.
Sirius unveiled more of the plans than was wise to share but Remus seemed to cover it up. Molly announced that the kids had to go to bed soon after that. Sirius and Remus started in a whispered argument about Sirius’ slip-up. I didn’t get why they were whispering with so many people in the room but they were certainly quite heated with each other.
After Bill and Arthur excused themselves, I decided to follow and let them finish their argument. Remus, noticing that I was leaving, got up abruptly and said he’d walk me out. I smiled appreciatively and welcomed the company.
When we were descending the steps to the street and saw the house disappear I asked, “How do you think it went tonight?”
Remus looked around slowly before answering, “Overall it was a success.”
“I guess that luck helped then,” I said smiling at Remus, who did not return my smile but looked rather grim.
“About that,” he started carefully. “I think it’s best if we’re just friends - nothing more. I’m - I’m a werewolf,” he said, lowering his head as if he couldn’t bear to look me in the eyes and tell me this.
I put my hand on his face and raised it up so I could see into his eyes.
“I know that, and if it bothered me I wouldn’t be here.” I paused for a moment then hugged Remus tightly. Looking up at him, I continued, “If I were trying to be more than your friend, you’d know it by now.”
Remus laughed, “You’re more like Sirius than you know.”
Hoping that was a compliment, I made an attempt at a dashing grin before disapparating back home. My dreams that night were filled with Remus wearing a “just friends” shirt saying “excellent” about everything in the world but me and Moody who was giving a seminar on his left buttocks while watching me from afar. The strangest part of my dream was when Moody force-fed me veritaserum and asked if I liked Remus or him more - not one of my more restful nights.
A/N: This chapter has quotes from pgs 45-57 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Hardback American Version. Said lines are indicated with an asterisk. The chapter title and summary are from How Soon is Now? by The Smiths.
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