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Playing at War by Keira7794
Chapter 3 : Time to Change
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6

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‘It’s time.’

The memo seemed to blur and I looked at it. Now? But I thought I’d have weeks. I haven’t even told my parents yet. They’ll panic if I don’t contact them daily. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be doing! Sure, go live with the werewolves. And do what exactly? Attempt to persuade them? How in Godric’s name am I supposed to do that? Brilliant Tonks. Round of applause. You’ve really outdone yourself this time.

Vincent had stepped forward; his breath heavy on my face. “I-I’ve got to go.” I stuttered, my mind still on the note.

Vincent’s eyes moved from my face to the parchment in my hand. He went to grab it but I scrunched the memo into a ball before he could reach it. With some effort I pulled myself away from the thoughts in my head and to the situation at hand. One of his hands was still on my arm; my hair burned red and my eyes shimmered with anger. I had no idea what colour my eyes were now, but they seemed to make Vincent take a step back, frowning. “No, don’t go. We haven’t talked in a long time,” he said in what I assumed to be his attempt at a husky voice.

“Will you just back off Vincent?” I snapped; glaring as his hand ran through his pale hair. “When will you realise that the feeling is not mutual?”

He opened his mouth to retort but instead I rolled my eyes and pushed him out of the way. He staggered into Joshua’s desk and knocked over a pile of reports. I didn’t spare him a second glance as I headed towards the door and another voice called out to me.

“Tonks? Tonks wait!” A voice called out to me, I paused by the door and turned to face the speaker. It was Jack, again. “Are you alright? What did Vincent do?” His hand was gripped around his wand and his features were twisted into a scowl.

I held back a snort with some difficulty. “Vincent? Oh, nothing really. Just his usual self.” I smiled as Jack lowered his wand slightly, his eyes furrowed in confusion.

“Then why are you running out of here like a Dementor is on your tail?” He tilted his head to one side as he waited for me to respond. I looked over my shoulder to see that we were alone.

“Here.” I whispered as quietly as possible, whilst pushing the scrunched up note into Jack’s hand. “You’ll have to find a replacement for me on patrol tomorrow.” Jack’s frown deepened as he unfolded the note before his eyebrows raised in understanding.

“Already?” He gasped, scrunching the note back into a ball. “I thought w-you’d have more time.” I nodded my head in agreement whilst he bit his lip; his eyes distant. “Right, you better go then.”

I turned back towards the corridor before he grabbed my arm. “Tonks – stay safe, okay? Just, stay safe.” He whispered, his dark eyes focused on my face before he let go and returned to the office. I stood still for a moment watching as Jack walked back to his desk, before turning and walking as calmly as I possibly could towards the lifts.

My fingers drummed against my leg as I waited for the lift to arrive at the atrium. It was taking an unnecessarily long time due to the stop at the 'Department of Magical Games and Sports' level with a thin man carrying five broomsticks which had been charmed to hit him over the head. Then there was the stop at the 'Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures' with the woman carrying a cage of what looked to be a chicken breathing fire and setting itself alight every other minute.

Gradually the crowded lift began to empty; every floor another couple people got out until eventually we arrived at my floor and the female speaker calmly said ‘the atrium’. With a sigh I stepped out the lift and accidently banged into another witch carrying a similar cage. This time it was a porcupine with knitting needles sticking out of its sides.

It took me a while to get to the front of the floo queue. The atrium was packed of wizards and witches going home for the day. Some called out greetings to each other; others teased their colleagues on the latest Quidditch score whilst others pulled their robes tighter and looked suspiciously around the crowd. The first two types of wizards or witches were few and far between the overwhelming majority of suspicious workers.

Looking around, everyone gripped their wands tightly. Some hid their wands under their cloaks, others raised theirs as if preparing for attack. The queue was slow; the wizard in front of me wore a brown bowler hat and read the ‘Daily Prophet’ to pass the time. I leant forward and peeked over the wizard’s shoulder. To the left of the paper was the now customary list of the dead; a small image hovering over each name in turn, showing a recent photo of the deceased. The centre of the page was taken up by a large image of the Minister of Magic with an article announcing that the auror department had recently received some evidence of Voldemort’s whereabouts. News to me. Are they ever going to actually tell people the truth?

The wizard coughed and lowered the paper so I only caught a glimpse of the Quidditch announcement in the corner.

’Holyhead Harpies 680 to 40 Chudley Cannons’

I felt my hair change to purple as I grinned at the result; the wizard in front of me stepped into the fireplace in alarm. Dad had bought tickets for both of us; him an avid Cannon fan and me, a massive Harpies supporter. It would have been fun. Given us some fun for once.
But mum had stepped in last minute and confiscated the tickets. Dad was a muggle-born. I was an auror. It wasn’t worth the risk. But he’d promised we’d go after the war was over. Once we’d won.

My immediate thought was to floo to my parent’s house instead. To tease dad about the result. It’d been so long since I went over for dinner, but I knew that it wouldn’t help if I was a regular visitor. I don’t want to bring unnecessary attention to them.

Someone coughed and I was brought back to the queue. With a start I realised that the man had gone, whispering his destination behind his hand. Another precaution to reduce the risk of being followed. I smiled at the person behind; she didn’t smile back. Instead I was met by a hostile glare.

Without another glance I stepped into the fireplace; scanning the queue in front of me for those with curious eyes. There were none so I muttered my destination into my hand.

“The Burrow.”

With a roar, green flames shot from the floor and engulfed me in its burn. I tucked my arms in and stared straight ahead. Before my training I would squeeze my eyes closed to prevent me feeling sick; dizziness wasn’t ideal for the uncoordinated. Now though, I kept my eyes wide open. Straining through the flames to catch glimpses of all the houses I passed.

A little girl was laughing whilst her baby brother cried beside her. An elderly wizard gave his wife a cup of tea in a different fireplace. A young couple were arguing in another. A dog licked its paw. No faces; the flames were too fast to gain a bearing. Eventually I felt myself slowing and braced to land.

The dark room came into view. The floorboards were nearly black with unwashed grime. Cobwebs decorated the wooden beams. The smashed windows were boarded up with cardboard. A dark mark gleamed against the back wall.

My stomach tensed and a lump formed in my throat as I looked at the now familiar sight. Just as I stopped spinning, the odd sensation of someone poking through my thoughts and my tongue twisting in my mouth happened suddenly. There was silence. And then there was light.

The smashed windows reformed, the dirt disappeared and the cobwebs faded. Instead I was now standing in the fireplace at the Burrow. Moody, Remus and Molly sat at the table; their heads bent in seriousness as they lowly muttered.

They looked up in sync as I stepped out of the fireplace. Just in time to watch me trip over the edge of the rug and go flying into the room. I heard a chair being pushed back and instead of hitting the floor like expected a pair of hands held onto my arms securely and pulled me back into a standing position.

“Thanks.” I blushed, looking up to see Remus’ kind eyes and a small smile on his face.

“No problem,” he said simply, turning back to the table. It was only then I realised that Moody was pointing his wand at me.

His eye span round the room whilst his other eye looked me up and down. I wiped the dirt off my knees self-consciously. His eye rolled. “You should have let her fall Lupin. You’d be dead by now.” Moody growled, Remus sighed as he sat back down. Moody turned to face me, his wand still raised. “When we first met you were late for the first day of auror training. Why?”

I smiled as I remembered the paranoid wizard I’d met a couple years previously. His eye had been spinning around the room whilst he sat in a chair. He had gripped his wooden leg in his hands; several new aurors looked pale. Apparently I had just missed the talk about everyone being your enemy.

I had got lost and ended up on the Quidditch level, but nobody had told me that Mad-Eye Moody would be opening the session. He glared at me as I entered.

“You. What’s your name?”

“Tonks, sir. Sorry I’m late, I got lost. But I’m-” With a squeak I fell, tripping over an abandoned bag and falling to the floor with a grunt. I looked up; my face blushing red, to see the other aurors barely hiding smirks.

Both of Mad-Eye’s eyes focused on me for a moment before one of them whizzed off to the other side of the room.

“Late. And Clumsy. If we were under attack girl – you’d be dead. Constant Vigilance!” He growled, his normal eye looking at each of us in turn; daring us to object. “Is this not serious enough for you? Do you think becoming an auror is a joke? Are you just here for the thrill? No?” He turned to look at me again. “Then why are you late?”

I looked at the auror who I had heard many stories about. The auror who inspired me to work hard so I could one day meet him. I looked at his battle scars, his magic eye and his missing leg. I said the first thing that came to my mind.

“Sorry Mad-Eye, but I was looking for a skate to put on your leg. Quick escape if we’re attacked.” I smiled at him. Inside I cursed myself.

The others aurors’ jaws dropped in shock. Some of them looked between Moody and me, expecting him to attack. He didn’t. Instead his eye widened and his lip twitched. He grunted.

“Well then perhaps you’d like to show the class how you would conceal yourself against the enemy whilst under attack.” His lip twitched again as I watched me. Expecting me to fail. I smiled once more and scrunched my eyes as I felt myself transform.

The silence was deafening. All eyes were on me; most in shock and some narrowed in jealousy. I looked at Moody; somehow I had the impression that he was impressed. His lip twitched once more.

“Sit down Tonks. Don’t be late again.”

“I told you I was looking for some skates so you could have a quick escape if we were attacked.” Moody grunted and lowered his wand whilst Remus choked on the water he had just swallowed. He looked up at me; his eyes creased in amusement.

I smiled back and sat down on one of the spare seats. Molly pushed a plate of Shepard’s pie in front of me. “Eat Tonks. We’ve got time.” She smiled in such a motherly way that I was immediately filled with guilt from the deliberate distancing I had created from my own mum. Once this war is over she’ll understand. I’ll make it up to her then.

“The dark mark’s new.” I stated after swallowing a delicious mouthful. The other three looked at me in confusion. I swallowed another mouthful. “The cover for the Burrow. When I arrived the place looked dirty and broken as usual – but this time there was a dark mark.”

Moody grunted and Molly winced slightly as she pictured the grimy image which everyone saw as they flooed past. Molly was very house-proud and even though she was eager for the Burrow to be the new headquarters, I got the impression she wasn’t too happy at her house appearing filthy.

Remus nodded, “it was Pad-Sirius’ idea originally.” His eyes darkened as he looked into his lap, when he looked up again, his eyes were full of moisture. Remus coughed and shook his head. “It was another off-puter to stop unwelcome visitors. Obviously the charms will keep the majority out, but the Dark Mark will scare any persistent others off. Just an extra precaution.”

I nodded and watched as Remus took another sip of water. Once again I found myself asking, why does he fight?

Molly patted his shoulder as she picked up the dirty plates, including mine after I wolfed down her meal in record time. Moody’s leg was tapping against the floor and I realised that it was about to start.

Molly sat down beside me carefully. “Right, Tonks. Albus has taught me the spell needed, but firstly I need you to change into a less noticeable appearance.” Molly stated, her eyes hesitating on my purple hair and pink eyes.

I nodded and looked at the motherly woman carefully. My eyes scanned her pale face, her red hair, the laugh lines around her eyes and the small smile on her lips. My skin itched, my eyes burned and my hair twisted into shape.

Stopping, I looked at Molly expectantly. Her mouth opened to retort but instead she giggled, Remus chuckled quietly and Moody grunted. He pushed a mirror in my direction.

“Too Weasley.” Moody growled. I smiled as I saw my red-haired reflection. Amusingly, I looked familiar to Ginny – even having the same chocolate brown eyes. Molly shook her head, still smiling. “Try again,” he growled. I turned to look at him and he immediately shook his head, “try Lupin. You’re supposed to look like him anyway.”

I nodded and turned to face Remus, his face had turned solemn once again. Full moon was in two weeks and Remus tended to look paler and sicklier as the date came closer; I needed to look like I was in the exact same situation.

He had a few fresh scratches over his hands and face with two deep gashes running along one of his cheeks. His face was relatively pale and the bags under his eyes were quite dark. Creases reached out of his eyes like a claw reached towards his prey. His nose was straight but the tip was bent slightly out of place like it had been healed badly. His hair hung loosely over his pointed ears; streaks of grey decorated his mousy brown colour whilst his temples were nearly completely grey.

I felt my appearance begin to alter as I studied him. My skin shimmered as it became paler. My head itched as my hair grew longer and changed colour. It felt like someone was drawing on my face when the scratches started to appear.

Mad-Eye grunted and Molly nodded. Remus tilted his head to one side as he studied my appearance before nodding slowly. The mirror’s reflection showed a young woman with shoulder length, mousy brown hair. Her face was pale and there were faint dark smudges beneath each eye. My features were pretty much the same – it looked as much as I would imagine myself to look if I hadn’t been born a metamorphous. However, since I had always stretched my abilities – I wouldn’t be immediately recognisable.

Annoyingly, my eyes remained pink. I looked up at Remus and focused on his hazel eyes, yet when I looked in the mirror my eyes remained pink. I tried again, no difference. I sighed in annoyance – normally I could copy a person’s features easily. Eyes were always the hardest bit; you had to understand the person to have their eyes. I understood Molly’s motherly fashion, her care and her worry. I knew of the sacrifice she faced each time she looked at her children. I could copy her eyes. It was true what they all said, your eyes are the window to your soul.

But for some reason, I couldn’t copy Remus’. I don’t understand him. I shook my head and instead focused on my mother’s dark eyes. My eyes burned as they changed.

“Right – that looks fine. Are you ready dear?” Molly asked, I nodded. She took a deep breath then simply said, “Freyjah Sicome.” It felt like I was standing in front of a cold wind as it blew over my face and ruffled my hair. The cold creeping over my skin and setting it in place.

“There,” she smiled, “done. You’ll need to have it redone every two weeks so the spell won’t wear off.”

Was that it? I stared at the mirror and attempted to change my hair to its normal bubble-gum pink but it remained mousy-brown. Strange. It was really disconcerting, I had always been able to transform. Moody grunted in approval.

“What do you think?” Remus asked softly as I continued to study my reflection.

I scrunched up my nose, “it’s weird. I’ve always been able to change and now it feels like there’s a stopper in the way. Hard to explain I guess.”

“Could be worse.” Moody grunted.

I smiled and struggled to keep my retort back. “Yeah. I could look like you.”

Molly turned away to face the counter, but her shoulders shook slightly. Remus coughed but it sounded suspiciously like someone holding back laughter. Moody glared at me whilst he took a swig a drink from his hip flask.

I smiled pleasantly and raised my eyebrow at his lack of response. He was building up to something – I was sure of it. Slowly he put the flask back on the table and opened his mouth to retort when the Weasley grandfather clock chimed.

It was nine o’clock.

The kitchen was silent as the clock chimed nine times. Molly bit her lip nervously and Remus slowly stood up. Moody’s mouth was pressed into a thin line of disapproval.

Remus spoke first, “it’s time. Are you ready to go?”

I nodded and slowly pulled my wand from my pocket. I carefully laid it on the table in front of Mad-Eye and took a step back. Suddenly I realised just how vulnerable I felt without my wand. I’d had it on me constantly for the past 12 years; now I was going on the most dangerous mission without it.

I took a deep breath and ignored the thoughts that told me to back out. The thoughts which told me it was too dangerous. The thoughts which told me I was scared.

I started as a hand touched my arm, it was as if I had been electrocuted. Remus. He smiled slightly though his eyes were masked with worry. “I’m going to be there the entire time,” he whispered quietly.

He gestured for me to follow him and I did so willingly. Briefly I saw Mad-Eye reach out to stop me leaving, but he pulled his arm back immediately. We both knew that I needed to go.

Without realising how far I’d followed Remus, we were standing outside the shields at the Burrow. Looking back, I only saw a caved-in shed and nothing more. Remus held out his arm, I took it and we apparated into the night.

Hello :)
So there's another chapter up! What do you think? Do you like Jack? Is Vincent creeping you out? How's the Moody/Tonks relationship?
I really want to hear what you think, so please review!

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