As winter quickly approached, the Order was finding themselves unable to keep up with the demands placed on them.
With the Aurors being able to do little to help the families being individually threatened by Voldemort without putting them at even more risk due to leaks in the Ministry, it fell to the Order to protect those in danger.
Dorcas usually did her very best to avoid these missions. She would happily stake out any location or search for Death Eater hideouts, but she found working with the families to be a real struggle. Too often, children were involved, and that was something that Dorcas just hadn’t been able to handle.
Today, however, was different. Dorcas was sitting at the table in Order headquarters, glaring at Mad Eye. He had specifically requested her presence, and though she had known it was for a mission debriefing, this was not what she was expecting.
The only two other people in the room were also sitting at the table, watching Dorcas frantically.
She couldn’t believe that Mad Eye had done this to her. She had specifically told him that she didn’t want to be working with families, and he had blatantly disregarded that. Now, here she was, sitting with two frantic parents, their small child sleeping peacefully in the next room. How was she supposed to say no?
Mad Eye looked at her expectantly, and the only thing that Dorcas could do was nod tersely.
“Well then, if that’s settled.” Mad Eye said simply, pushing his chair back from the table and rising. “Meadowes, this is Ted and Andromeda Tonks. Their daughter, Nymphadora, is six years old. It’s your job to help them set up and get safely to their new safe house.”
“We’ll have Meadowes do the protection charms, she’s the best.” Mad Eye informed the couple. The look on Andromeda’s face grew even more anxious and she glanced hesitantly at Dorcas.
Dorcas felt awkward, unsure of what exactly she should say. Obviously, she knew everything that there was to know about the Tonks family. She found Andromeda, as one of the few people to escape the pureblooded traditions alive in the last few years, fascinating. On the other hand, aside from seeing Dorcas in passing occasionally, it was likely that Andromeda had absolutely no idea who she was.
In order to relieve the tension, Dorcas decided to start gathering facts, making it easier to assess what exactly she was dealing with here.
“Why exactly do you need protection?” Dorcas questioned. “Who specifically is trying to find you? It will help me know how to best protect you.”
Ted swallowed hard and Andromeda made a quiet sniffling sound, as if the thought physically pained her. Mad Eye cleared his throat.
“Well you see Meadowes, that’s the thing.” Moody said carefully, both his eyes trained on Dorcas. “We didn’t only pick you because you’re the best at protection charms. You’re the person with the experience necessary to handle this delicate situation.”
“What’s going on Mad Eye?” Dorcas asked abruptly, already certain that she didn’t like where this was going. “Just spit it out already.”
“It’s Bellatrix.” He responded gruffly, and Dorcas felt the air fly out of her lungs. She was supposed to protect another child from Bellatrix? “You know how to deal with her best Meadowes. You’re the best man for the job.”
Dorcas continued to look at him, horrified.
“Moody told us that you have the best chance of beating my sister.” Andromeda whispered, and Dorcas glared at him. He shrugged unapologetically. “It would be fine if it was me she wanted, but it’s not. She hates me for being a blood traitor, and she’s going to make me pay for it by killing my daughter.”
Dorcas took a step back as if she had been slapped. This whole situation just continued to get worse and worse, and she wasn’t entirely certain how she was going to handle it, but she knew that she really had no choice but to figure it out.
She felt her body walk towards Andromeda, not entirely of her own volition. The older witch’s eyes widened when she felt Dorcas’ hands reach her shoulders.
“Your daughter is going to be fine.” Dorcas said, her eyes boring into Andromeda’s. “I’m not going to let Bellatrix hurt another child.”
Andromeda’s face changed from worried to horrified as she put the pieces together.
“It was you?” She whispered, the tears welling in her eyes. “Was it your sister?”
Dorcas felt the lump in her throat grow immeasurably. She nodded stiffly before quickly looking away from the crying witch. It was too difficult to talk about Amber, especially with someone who looked so much like the person that Dorcas considered to be responsible for her death.
“I’m so sorry.” Andromeda murmured. Dorcas hated those words. “I feel as if I am partially to blame. If I had known the monster she would become, I would have stopped her when we were children. I was blinded though, because she was my sister and I loved her.”
“I loved my sister too.” Dorcas snapped, not spending the time to remind herself that what happened to Amber wasn’t Andromeda’s fault. No matter how illogical the reasoning might have been, hearing someone say they could have prevented Amber’s death and didn’t
was just too much.
Andromeda nodded, looking taken aback. “From all accounts I’ve heard, you loved your sister very much.” She whispered, and Dorcas pinched the bridge of her nose, trying to calm herself back down. “Please, I’m begging you; don’t take revenge for my mistakes out on my daughter. You have
to save Nymphadora.”
“Mummy?” A small voice whispered from behind Dorcas, and Dorcas watched as Andromeda’s eyes widened considerably. Dorcas turned around quickly.
The sight in front of her made her heart stop.
The blonde curls, tumbling down just past her shoulders. The big blue eyes, filled with fear. Amber stood in front of her once again.
“Mummy, what is she saving me from?” The little girl asked fearfully, and the disappointment hit Dorcas hard. The voice was wrong. And once that broke the spell, everything else hit her all at once.
This child was taller and not as slim as Amber, even though she was younger than her. The freckles going across the bridge of her nose weren’t just right, and she didn’t have the thin scar under her eye from when she fell as a toddler.
“Why the tickle monster of course.” Andromeda informed her daughter, scooping her up into her arms, forcing a cheery smile onto her face. “Nymphadora, honey, I have somebody who would like to meet you. Why don’t you go back to looking like my favorite little girl?”
“Okay Mummy.” Nymphadora agreed readily, and Andromeda put her back down. “I just wanted to look like the little girl in the photo for a few minutes. She’s so pretty.” Immediately, her hair became a vibrant pink and her facial features reverted back to normal. She handed a worn photo to her mother.
Dorcas resisted the urge to snatch the photo from between Andromeda’s slim fingers. She had taken to carrying it everywhere with her lately, never knowing if she would be rendered incapable of returning to wherever she was hiding out at the moment. It was the one possession she couldn’t handle losing.
Andromeda looked down at the photo only momentarily before flipping it over and reading the back, as if trying to figure out who it belonged to. Dorcas could see her own careful script even from a distance. Amber, September 2, 1978.
“May I have my photograph please?” Dorcas said through gritted teeth, trying to keep herself calm. Andromeda looked at Dorcas, horrified, as she came to the realization that her daughter just came into the room looking as an exact replica of the sister Dorcas lost. Numbly, she handed her the photo.
Glancing quickly behind her, Andromeda confirmed that her daughter was chatting happily with her father before stepping closer to Dorcas.
“I’m so sorry.” She murmured, and Dorcas nodded tersely, unable to tear her eyes away from the photograph. “She didn’t know. And I wasn’t expecting her, she usually isn’t able to sneak up on us, she’s quite clumsy.”
The word clumsy triggered Dorcas’ memory of how she discovered that her sister was a witch. The incident moments before had shaken her so badly she found it difficult to concentrate on anything but thoughts of Amber.
Andromeda touched Dorcas’ shoulder gently and pretended not to notice when the younger witch tensed up. She quickly rejoined her family across the room.
Mad Eye limped over and stood next to Dorcas. For a few moments, they stood in silence, Dorcas refusing to meet his eyes.
“This will be good for you Meadowes.” Mad Eye informed her gruffly, and Dorcas scoffed. “Really, it will. What better way to exact your revenge on Bellatrix then to take her sister out of her clutches? You’re accomplishing your goal and doing something good at the same time.”
“I’m also exponentially increasing the danger that child is in for the rest of her life.” Dorcas informed him. “Bellatrix wants her now, and I’m not even involved in the situation. Once I start trying to protect her, she becomes just another pawn in the game, no matter what happens to me. In Bellatrix’s mind, that child will always be connected to me. Not to mention that I swore my revenge wouldn’t leave an opening for injury to any innocents.”
“While that may all be true, think of what is going to happen to this child if you don’t
keep her safe.” Mad Eye replies, and Dorcas flinches. “Her parents love her, but they aren’t duelers. They aren’t trained to keep her safe. You’re the only one who rivals my ability to give them protection, and I can’t. I’m too high profile. You’re their best hope.”
“You ask for too much, Mad Eye.” Dorcas told him, not bothering to disguise the hostility in her voice. “You know that, but you don’t even care. You know
what this will do to me.”
“I have no choice Meadowes. This isn’t only about you. You’ve suffered enough, but do you think you can live with the blood of that little girl on your hands?” Mad Eye said, and Dorcas felt like he was looking straight through her.
“Of course not.” Dorcas murmured. “But no matter what, whether I protect her or I don’t, you’ve ensured that if anything happens to her, it’s on me. That’s not fair.”
“This is war Meadowes, and you’re damn right it’s not fair.” Mad Eye barked at her. “People are dying, and they’re not going to stop dying anytime soon. So you can stand there and feel sorry for yourself, or you can do your best to save some lives.”
With that final statement, Mad Eye hobbled away.
Dorcas’ eyes were immediately drawn to the small family unit standing in the corner of the dining room, huddled together closely. Nymphadora was asleep again, cradled in Ted Tonks’ arms, and a pang went straight through Dorcas’ heart. She knew what she had to do.
Then again, she wasn’t sure she’d ever had a choice.
The safe house was small, but it was cozy, and it would be more than enough room for the equally small Tonks family. Dorcas had searched and searched until she found someplace that would work properly, but now that she had it, she was certain it was perfect.
Dorcas was currently helping the Tonks family get settled in, and would be staying the night with them for the extra protection, just on the off chance that someone had miraculously managed to follow them to the location.
Mad Eye had also placed the Fidelius charm on the Tonks’ old residence, trying his best to keep the Death Eaters from discovering it. Bellatrix had recently found it, which was what prompted the Tonks’ to seek help from the Order in the first place. Ideally, someday they would be able to return to their home, and it would be nice if it was in one piece.
A loud crash echoed through the small space, and Dorcas ran her hands through her hair for the umpteenth time that day. Andromeda Tonks hadn’t been kidding when she said that her daughter was clumsy.
It seemed like the only way to keep the child truly safe was to put a bubble charm around her.
“Mummy!” Dorcas could hear Nymphadora howling from across the house, and was suddenly exceptionally grateful that she put extra strength silencing charms around the whole exterior of the house.
Andromeda rushed past Dorcas towards the direction of her screaming daughter. Dorcas, knowing a few healing spells, followed quickly behind.
It took only a few moments to reach the small girl, but by the time they did she was already calming herself down, rubbing her tears away furiously with her fists. Dorcas smiled at her as she looked up at her mother from the ground, pieces of the vase she broke scattered on the floor around her.
“Where’s Snuggles?” Nymphadora asked Andromeda, her eyes going wide. Andromeda looked at her own hands frantically, as if she expected her daughter’s toy to be there.
“Mummy?” Nymphadora repeated, her eyes brimming with tears. Andromeda looked at Dorcas helplessly, but she shrugged. She couldn’t have identified the toy even if she wanted to. “You
had Snuggles in your hands before we left! You promised
you wouldn’t forget him!”
“Nymphadora, I think I might have forgotten Snuggles on the table at our old house.” Andromeda said softly, and the tears that had previously been brimming spilled over furiously. Dorcas wanted to join the child on the floor and cry with her.
“Don’t call me that! My name is Dora!” The little girl snapped, and her mother looked at her sadly. “Mummy, you have to go back and get him! He can’t stay there by himself, he’ll be so lonely!”
“Dora your Mummy can’t go back to the house.” Dorcas was surprised to hear her own voice echo through the room, her tone comforting. She fully intended to tell the child that her teddy bear would just have to wait for her, but she couldn’t resist the frantic hopelessness in the little girl’s eyes. Eyes that were the same color as her own, as Amber’s.
“I’ll go and get him for you though.” Dorcas couldn’t help but smile when relief flooded Dora’s little features. No child should ever have such fearful, panicked expressions.
Dora smiled and ran over to Dorcas, hugging her legs tightly and thanking her repeatedly for going to save her teddy bear. Her fears alleviated, she dashed out to go and play in her room.
Andromeda stepped closer to Dorcas and looked at her carefully, worry in her face.
“Mad Eye said that no one should go back to the house after we left.” She said carefully. She didn’t want to seem as if she was contradicting Dorcas, but the younger witch wasn’t know for taking her own safety into account. “Are you sure that this is a good idea?”
“Don’t worry about me, I’m a big girl.” Dorcas told her, and Andromeda resisted the urge to roll her eyes.
“Dorcas, I know that you’re more than capable of taking care of yourself, I just don’t want you to put yourself in danger recklessly. Mad Eye said that he just barely managed to avoid being seen when he went and put up the Fidelius charm.” Andromeda reminded her, but Dorcas looked entirely unconcerned. “He doesn’t think the Death Eaters know you’ve moved us yet, and they’re likely to continue patrols of the area because none of them knew where the house was exactly to begin with.”
“Exactly why I’ll be fine.” Dorcas replied, unconcerned. “The only way I would be in real danger would be if Bellatrix was there, and she won’t be. She doesn’t know you’re gone yet, and she certainly isn’t going to be patrolling your house personally. The only time she will come is when she is ready to exact her revenge.”
“And how do you know that won’t be tonight?” Andromeda demanded. It seemed to her like Dorcas really wasn’t taking the necessary precautions. As much as she loved her daughter, she didn’t think that a teddy bear was worth a human life.
“Intel from our spies tells us that Bellatrix isn’t planning to make her move until at least next Friday.” Dorcas replied, her tone a bit snappish. She didn’t appreciate being questioned like this. “Besides, even if she is there, you are perfectly safe here. The utmost precautions have been taken to ensure that you’re all safe. Moody himself is the secret keeper of this house. He seems to have taken quite the shine to your daughter.”
“Regardless-“ Andromeda began, but Dorcas cut her off with a wave of her hand.
“I’m going.” She said firmly, and Andromeda sighed. “I told Dora that I would, and I don’t back out on my promises. Don’t worry about me, I am more than capable of handling this. I know I may not be active at the moment, but not only am I a fully trained Auror, but I was one of the best. Mad Eye wouldn’t ensure your safety to just anyone.”
“I suppose.” Andromeda said hesitantly, and Dorcas forced a smile in a vain attempt to make the older witch feel at ease.
“I’ll be back before you even have a chance to miss me.” Dorcas told her confidently, and Andromeda couldn’t help but think that she quite doubted that. She didn’t enjoy the idea of being left here alone with her sister hunting for her family, no matter how safe this particular location may be.
Quickly, before giving Andromeda the chance to change her mind and begin the inquisition again, Dorcas left the back room and headed straight out the front door through the kitchen. She needed to get out of the perimeter of the house before she could apparate herself away.
As she walked, Dorcas efficiently placed some human transfiguration spells on herself. Though she highly doubted that there would be anyone in this remote muggle village that would recognize her, she very much prescribed to the idea that it was better to be safe than sorry.
Focusing hard on the street that ran perpendicular to the Tonks’ old house, Dorcas felt the familiar sensation of being squeezed through a tight tube. When she finally landed she was exactly where she wanted to be, about a five minute walk from the house, just outside of the perimeter that the Death Eaters were sure to be keeping.
Casting a Disillusionment charm, Dorcas hurried quickly down the street, searching carefully for Death Eaters. Everything about this felt wrong, but she couldn’t turn back now, not after fighting with Andromeda and promising Dora she would get her the teddy bear.
She’d promised Amber she would keep her safe and had broken that promise. In her mind, that was enough broken promises for a lifetime.
Now jogging down the street, Dorcas couldn’t help but notice the complete lack of any signs of life in the area. Though they didn’t know what it was, it seemed as if the muggles could sense there was some sort of danger lurking in the area.
After what seemed like forever and no Death Eater sightings, Dorcas approached the Tonks’ house. Aside from Mad Eye, she was the only person who knew its location. However, since he hadn’t made her secret keeper, she couldn’t have told it to someone else, even if she wanted to.
After checking carefully to make sure there was no one around to see her, Dorcas darted quickly inside the house. As soon as she crossed the threshold she knew she was safe, and she exhaled a long breath that she hadn’t realized she had been holding.
Looking around the room, she immediately noticed a tattered teddy bear, a faded royal blue ribbon tied around his neck, lying sideways on the small table by the door. Dorcas snatched him up quickly.
Scanning the room quickly to ensure that nothing else looked forgotten or out of place, Dorcas decided to not to linger around the house. She grabbed the door handle and hurried onto the front porch.
She all but ran off the porch and into the street, not bothering to check around her before exiting the space that was hidden from sight. Within half a second a spell flew by her head, and she cursed her luck.
Of course she left at that particular moment. There was a span of time probably less than fifteen seconds in which this Death Eater would have been able to see her.
She spun quickly, pulling out her wand and shooting a rapid succession of stunning hexes in the direction where she thought the other one came from. Whoever had targeted her had used a relatively harmless hex, doing no damage aside from incapacitating its victim, so she did the same.
Finally focusing her eyes in the darkness, Dorcas heard a thump coming from just around the corner. Placing a shield around herself and lighting her wand, she headed in that direction.
Cautiously, she tried to round the corner and immediately lost her balance. Looking at the ground, she saw the unconscious form of the Death Eater who must have attacked her.
Dorcas crouched down and placed her wand tip a bit back from the face of the man lying on the ground. Immediately, the bile rose in her throat.
She rapidly steeped back, stumbling in her haste to get away. Lying on the ground in front of her, looking haggard and a bit worse for the wear, sporting new, visible scars on his face, was the Death Eater who first attacked that fateful Tuesday afternoon.
Dorcas had been hunting him for months, ever since the incident, but having no information on him, had been unsuccessful. She’d had St. Mungo’s on the lookout for people with splinching injuries, but none had come that matched her description. She’d also been unable to find him in the Ministry’s wanted files.
But there he was, lying unconscious only 5 feet away from her. Completely incapacitated, helpless, just like Amber had been that day. The day he started the battle that would ultimately take her life. The day that he escaped
with his own.
To Dorcas, there was only one thing to do.
Taking a deep breath, she fixed her wand on him, watching carefully as his chest rose and fell gently. She knew that whatever she did, it would have to be quick, because surely whoever else was patrolling with him would be around soon. She had to finish her mission and leave.
She checked her wand’s positioning once again before murmuring the words that had been running through her mind ever since she saw him.
A/N: Sorry it took so long for an update! I started school back up again and I’m taking an extra class, so time has been short lately. I really hope you liked this chapter, please leave a review and let me know what you think!