“No, Mum,” Tonks sighs wearily as she trudges back up the stairs with a basket of laundry, oblivious to the concerned stares of her parents. She nudges her bedroom door open with her foot and dumps the clothes unceremoniously onto her bed. Digging through the pile, she manages to find her grey Auror’s robes, stretchy black work pants, and white collared shirt. Her slim fingers fasten the buttons on her blouse mechanically, tucking the hem into the dark material of her pants. She slips into her robes, fiddling with the clasp and pinning her badge onto the left shoulder. Snatching up her comb, she attacks her short, spiky hair until most of the knots are gone. She slips her feet into her combat boots, grabs her wand, and hurries down the stairs for her coffee. She grabs her yellow mug off the counter with a slight frown; it is far too cheerful for her present mood.
“Dad, I’ve already told Mum; I’m not hungry,” she rolls her eyes, rapping the mug smartly with her wand. It instantly floats to the sink and begins filling itself with water.
“No, that’s not it,” Ted replies from his chair at the table, looking slightly uncomfortable and rather worried. “We were only wondering why your hair isn’t pink today.”
Tonks slowly turns around to stare at her father. “What?”
“Your hair,” Andromeda says, reentering the room with the family cat, Beelzebub, at her heels. “It’s its natural color.”
“What?” Tonks hurries to the loo, nearly tripping over a hissing Beelzebub in her haste. Staring into the mirror at her reflection, she is startled to find that her parents are right. Her normally hot pink locks have faded into their natural mousy brown.
That’s strange, she thinks, examining her hair. This has never happened before.
Shrugging, she screws up her face and concentrates on the image of her signature, spiky pink hairstyle. After a moment, she opens her eyes.
“Bloody hell!” She shrieks, a sense of panic beginning to rise in her throat. Her hair has remained resolutely brown.
She scrunches her face again, praying to the Wizard God that it was just a fluke, and that she's over tired, and it will work this time. She nearly screams with frustration when she opens her eyes to find that there has been no change. Angry tears prickle at the corner of her eyes as she repeats the process over and over until, finally, she has no choice but to give up.
Unfortunately, the spiky style no longer fits with the dull shade that she is now stuck with. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Tonks shuts her eyes and pictures a longer hairstyle she has seen in a Muggle magazine. After long effort and nearly fainting, her hair lengthens. She examines her new, chin length hair in the mirror. It doesn't look too bad, she thinks. If she was into those Muggle fashion trends, she might actually consider keeping it. Alas, she is not, and decides it will have to do.
Stalking out of the lavatory, she grabs her bag off the kitchen floor and Apparates into the Atrium of the Ministry without saying goodbye. She knows her mother will give her grief about it (and her new hair) upon her arrival at home, but Tonks doesn't care. She wants to make it through the day first.
She manages to squeeze into a lift before the doors close, and she is jostled into a corner by a tall, fit wizard whose face is concealed by this morning's Prophet. She glares up at him, rubbing the side of her head where it collided painfully with the metal grate.
“Inconsiderate berks,” she mutters angrily. He looks round at her, surprised.
“Oh, hello there, Tonks,” he says, pushing his hair out of his eyes.
“Hi, Paul,” she replies. Paul Savage is a fellow Auror, two years her senior. The female employees of the Ministry fawn over him because of his looks, but Tonks likes him because of his personality. Dedicated, hard-working, kind, and funny, Paul is a good friend to her, and her favorite person (besides Kingsley) to be paired with on missions.
“What happened to your hair? Get tired of the color?” Paul asks, grinning.
“No,” she says shortly, not wanting to get into it. Confused at her behavior, Paul frowns at her.
“What's got your wand in a knot?”
“Nothing,” she snaps.
“Level Two- Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including Auror Headquarters.”
Tonks sweeps out of the lift first and hurries down the corridor, attempting to put as much distance between her and Paul as possible. Unfortunately, his legs being so much longer than hers, he catches up to her easily.
“Tonks, wait,” he says, as they reach the double ebony doors leading into the Department. “I didn't mean to upset you. It's just unlike you to be so unhappy.”
“I appreciate your concern, Paul,” she says testily, shaking his hand off of her shoulder as she turned to face him. “However, I'm fine, and I need to get to work.”
“If you say so.” He sighs wearily and catches her arm as she turns to enter the Department. “If you need anything, you know where to find me, right?”
She nods once and walks swiftly towards her desk, where she is greeted by a large stack of paperwork. Rifling through it, she discovers that it all has to do with the breach and battle in the Department of Mysteries. Fighting back the tears that prickle in the corners of her eyes, she tangles her fingers in her hair and picks up her quill.