Tonks found it exceedingly irritating that her room became so bright in the morning. It was near impossible to sleep once the obnoxious yellow beams had crept into the room and some well-meaning (but obviously insane) Hufflepuff had charmed the room so that the light was impossible to ignore. No one had yet figured out what charm the girl had cast or even how to counter it, but since it promoted the Hufflepuff motto of “Seizing the Day!” by not allowing anyone to sleep in, not much effort was put into breaking the enchantment.
However, on this morning she was especially unhappy to be without a chance for more sleep because she had been awake for most of the night, counting the white tiles of the bathroom. The knowledge that there were fifteen hundred tiles in the girls’ bathroom and that the majority of them were chipped or stained in some manner or another was something that she could have gladly lived without.
While she had been fantasizing about the softness of her bed, her hands had been keeping the strands of her friend’s hair from falling in the toilet as she vomited.
Nausea, she had realized, was very catching.
Though Tonks had been all for wandering through the corridors of Hogwarts to wake Madam Pomfrey, Marcia had refused on the grounds that it would be rude for to wake her after midnight.
Tonks had retorted that it wasn’t exactly kind either to keep a friend awake all night because of a preventable sickness. Marcia had just vomited in the toilet as an answer.
Marcia had fallen asleep slumped against the side of the sink just three hours before Tonks’ alarm would ring to announce the start of a new school day and Tonks had had to carry her back to their room. Marcia wasn’t exactly light and at that moment her smell wasn’t pleasant either. They hadn’t yet learned the purifying spell Tonks had seen her mother use after she burnt something in the kitchen and she vowed to send a letter to her mother as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, her mother was well aware of her tendencies to sleep through her alarm (however justified it was in this case) and had charmed her alarm clock to produce a shrill buzz and evade her searching hands with the skill of a snitch. The alarm clock itself had been her dad’s idea—he said that his mother had purchased one very similar to hers when he was a boy for he too had had the tendency to sleep through every sound intended to wake him.
Some traits were genetic.
The buzzing, combined with the light, created a heady combination that was impossible to ignore. As Tonks pushed her curtains aside (not that they were a suitable defense against the sun), mumbling incoherent curses, she heard Marcia groan.
“Oh bother,” she said, forcing herself off the bed and across the distance to Marcia’s crumpled form. She hadn’t bothered to properly close her curtains last night and Marcia’s eyes were scrunched tight as she weakly covered them with a hand.
“I don’t feel so good…”
“No, really?” Tonks’ tone was sharp and she immediately regretted speaking. “I’m sorry, Marcia.” She moved so that her body was between Marcia and the window and smiled as Marcia gave a sigh of relief. “Better?”
“Uh-huh.” But Marcia still didn’t look great and Tonks hesitantly placed the back of hand on Marcia’s forehead, and then on her own. She didn’t feel any difference in temperature and didn’t want to actually kiss Marcia, like her mother did when she was sick. They weren’t that close and she didn’t want to become sick herself. Not even the possibility of missing her Transfiguration test the next day was tempting enough to willingly vomit her breakfast up.
Speaking of breakfast… Her stomach growled.
“How could you think of food at a time like this?” Marcia’s voice was pained.
Tonks looked at her, and then around the room. The dormitory, crowded and messy though it was with barely-started homework and rumpled clothing, was devoid of other people. “Marcia, even our roommates have gone down to breakfast. That means that it must be getting close to the start of class. Now I know that it’s unlikely that you’re going to go to class today, but I still have to. Is there anything I can do? Drag you to the hospital wing? Bring you some water? Carry you to the loo? I do hope that it’s not the last one, because you are heavy and I don’t think I could carry your weight.”
“Bugger off. I don’t want to move. I wish that Madam Pomfrey could just come here.” Contrary to her words, Marcia rolled over in her bed, dragging her cover with her.
“All the better for me. I’ll let Professor Sprout know that you have your head permanently down the toilet, all right?”
Marcia’s “Don’t you dare” was muffled by her pillow. Tonks just laughed and rushed around the room, gathering her books and scrolls that had somehow become scattered everywhere. She had no idea how they managed to become so mixed up each night—she had always been very neat at home. Or, at least, her mother had.
Just after Tonks had tossed a goodbye over her shoulder she heard Marcia concede grumpily that “perhaps some eggs (fried, mind you) would calm her stomach”. She grinned.
The pathway to the Great Hall was very easy to navigate once you had been at Hogwarts for four years. She was even able to do it blindfolded, a trick that she had proudly shown Marcia last year after she had bet three sickles she wouldn’t be able to.
She had enjoyed spending the money at Honeydukes and slowly licking the Long-lasting Chocolate in front of Marcia.
She was momentarily stalled when she slipped on a wet patch the cranky old caretaker hadn’t mopped up—Filch wasn’t as great a caretaker as he believed himself to be—but she quickly regained her balance and was soon striding towards the Hufflepuff table and her friends.
She only realized that she hadn’t changed out of yesterday’s clothes or brushed her hair before leaving the dormitory when Pernecia called out to her, “Have you been hiding a boyfriend from us? Was that where you were last night? I noticed that you weren’t in your bed last night.”
Tonks almost stuck her hand in bowl of blueberries before she replied.
“No- for your information, while you were sleeping I was standing beside our friend Marcia as she decorated the girl’s loo with last night’s dinner.” Tonks watched with pleasure as a sour look crossed Pernecia’s face. “Don’t look so concerned- I’m almost positive that what she has isn’t catching.” She gave an exaggerated cough, neglecting to cover her mouth properly.
Pernecia smiled and huffed dramatically. “Oh do be careful! I have a delicate constitution, you know I do, and simply hate being sick.”
“Just like your father, you are.” Tonks grinned. She reached past Pernecia to grab an unused plate and asked her to pass her the plate of eggs.
“I don’t see why you couldn’t just use the plate that’s right in front of you.”
“I can’t because Marcia asked me to bring her back some eggs, which means that I need two plates, not just one,” Tonks explained as she ate a piece of bread. “Now I don’t have much time before Charms—have you seen Professor Sprout anywhere?” She glanced around the hall, but the trademark patched hat and flyaway hair of their Head of House was nowhere to be seen.
Pernecia slid two eggs as well as a piece of toast onto Marcia’s plate before she answered calmly, “Not at all, dear, but then again she’s rarely at breakfast. She’s probably out tending to her greenhouses.”
“Right. That’s going to be a bit of a problem—there isn’t enough time to go to the greenhouses and our dormitory… Pernecia, would you…?” She looked towards her friend, whose fingers looked like they were itching to fix her hair. She sighed and focused on her hair, which became a well-combed chestnut brown. “Better?”
“I wish I could do that…” Pernecia looked wistfully at her hair, “But yes, I am able to visit the greenhouses, if I leave now. I trust that your message to her is something along the lines of ‘Marcia’s sick and thus is unable to attend class today’?”
“Perfect.” With the piece of toast now well on its way to her stomach and an apple in her hand Tonks was slinging her book bag over her shoulder and reaching for Marcia’s plate. “I’ll see you in class.”
Tonks carefully rose from the bench and began to walk down the aisle that separated the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables. She was on high alert for possible dangers, eyes darting between the talking students and the dips in the floor. She didn’t want Marcia’s breakfast to land on the floor because someone knocked into her.
But her eyes couldn’t be everywhere and while she was watching her feet avoid the cracks in the stones a rather large girl stepped hurriedly away from the Ravenclaw table and directly into the path of Marcia’s plate.
The eggs were tipped onto the open pages of the book, not the floor, but that wasn’t a comfort to Tonks as the girl swelled like a bullfrog. Trying to avoid a confrontation, she quickly said sorry.
It didn’t work.
“Do you have any idea of what you’ve done?”
Tonks could only shake her head mutely and watch as Marcia’s eggs fell (splat, splat) on the floor of the Great Hall.
“This is a library book. It isn’t mine! Madam Pince is going to kill me. No- she’s going to kill you, because it’s your fault that this happened.”
The volume of her words was steadily rising and they were attracting the attention of others in the Hall. Tonks blushed as eyes began to trace the path between the book in the Ravenclaw’s hands, Marcia’s eggs on the floor and the stories of her clumsiness.
This time it wasn’t her fault though, not that she would say that to the Ravenclaw.
“You’re a blundering idiot of a toad and it’s because of you that I’m going to fail my test!” the Ravenclaw paused, red cheeks puffing in and out as she breathed, and then nodded. “I hope the rest of your day joins Moaning Myrtle in the toilet!”
Then, clutching the egg-stained book, she left the Great Hall. Tonks was left stranded in the aisle between the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables and marooned in the silent, expectant atmosphere that had settled in the air. The tips of her hair looked as though they had been charmed fuchsia as she placed the now empty plate carefully on the table.
Nobody spoke as she slowly straightened and let one hand drop to loosely swipe at her wrinkled robes. Her head lowered as her hands began to fiddle with her sleeve; a blush crept across her face.
The silence in the Hall was making her embarrassment worse—she was the center of attention so there was no way for her to forget what she had just done. There was no one who knew what to say because everyone was shocked by the unprecedented outburst. Everyone knew that Ravenclaws tended to be touchy about their studies, but to actually scream at a younger student in full view of the professors?
But before whispers could break the silence, before Tonks’ hopes that this could just be swept under the rug and forgotten about were realized, a Slytherin started to laugh.
His low, guttural laugh rose from the far corner of the Slytherin table, filling each crack and crook in the room. It swooped towards the ceiling, brushing the morning sun and passing through the silvery forms of the ghosts. Those close to him could see the way his eyes were glinting as he picked away at his bacon, his head tilted towards Tonks.
It was very loud in the quiet Hall and it obliterated the silence.
The red in Tonks’ face deepened as others began to laugh and her hair was now completely pink, a colour that she detested. Deciding that the only safe thing to do now was leave the Hall and hide in her room until the start of classes, she ran past the amused faces of her classmates.
No one tried to stop her.
Hurrying down the stairs towards her common room she thought, I could just visit the kitchens to get her food, and stumbled over the dip between two stones.