Chapter 1 : Curiosity happens for a reason
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Blushing furiously, she turned her head and gave the curious onlookers a fleeting sheepish smile, before dashing back across the reception area and past the “Welcome Witch” who was now demanding in high voices the name of a witch who seemed to have turned her head upside down, and could not properly enunciate her name.
‘This is silly,’ muttered Tonks, absentmindedly biting her fingernails while her feet carried her along the deserted corridor that ended with the stairs leading to the First Floor. ‘Why would I need to come back for a check up if they already cleared me up? I could think of a great deal of better things I could be doing with my time right now,’ she said woefully. ‘I could prepare for my next orders, irk Moody, visit Molly and have some of her delicious home made pumpkin pie, call on Remus by surprise – ‘ Her stomach tightened slightly when she thought about him. Oblivious to the movements her body was making, she placed a hand on her stomach, trying to ease down the restless wiggling that was now making her slightly sick.
She hadn’t seen Remus face to face since the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. In a closing of her eyes, her mental images of Remus’s smiling face that made her heart flutter, melted into the horror that had been haunting her dreams ever since she first woke up after being knocked out cold by her aunt Bellatrix. She stopped dead in her tracks and covered her face swiftly with both hands in a fruitless effort to stop the flood of images that were now racing before her shut eyes. Bellatrix dueling with Sirius, Bellatrix’s killing curse erupting from her wand pointed at her cousin; Sirius falling backwards through the Veil; Harry’s terrible scream and her face -
Tonks shook her head violently as if this was the best way to banish this particular part of her retrospection that had eaten away at her soul for the past month, making her curiosity burn with desire to know more every time she remembered it. She felt her heart beat madly against her ribcage, but she ignored it. She was no longer fighting the memory. She wanted to see it one more time, and as many times needed so that she wouldn’t forget her expression. Going against her better judgment, she felt she needed to remember every detail she had seen etched in her aunt’s face right after she had killed Sirius. Was it sadness? Grief? Guilt? Could it possibly have been regret? Or had she imagined everything and this whole disturbing memory was just the fruit of her barely conscious mind at the time?
Tonks opened her eyes. They were prickling with a mild burning sensation and it was a moment before her vision could come into focus again. She let out a breath she never realized she was holding. Her mind was oddly blank of any thought, her heart steadying back to normal.
Stealing a fleeting look behind her so she could be sure no one was coming her way, she pressed her back against the cold stone wall, allowing her body to slid limply to the floor. This couldn’t go on any more. These memories had affected her for too long. She always tried to ignore them, shut her mind against them, but could never really succeed. It was like they were driven by a force outside of her will, even if they were inside her own head.
Rubbing her temples gently, she brought her knees to her chin, resting her elbows on them. Her eyes stared at the tip of her shoes, while her mind was working furiously. She had to think of something. She couldn’t care less about what she had to do, but she had to do something about them, or else she would go mad. The burning question was what? Should she try and ask for specialized help? But as soon as this thought was half formed, she dismissed it promptly. That was out of the question. If anyone found out she was having these dreams, they might consider her mentally unstable and would withdraw her Auror graduate status and she would be banished from the Ministry of Magic. This was definitely not the way to go about the problem.
She had to tell someone though, thought Tonks as she absentmindedly started biting her fingernails. But who? And then it dawned on her, with the clarity of a cloudless morning. Her mother! How could she have been so stupid and not remember that Bellatrix was her mother’s sister. She was the one to ask. She was bound to know more about her sister than anyone else alive.
However, her flood of excitement quickly started ebbing away because she also remembered that Andromeda had always refused to talk about her sisters. Tonks never really found out the exact reason of the three sisters’ estrangement, except for bits and pieces of fragmented conversations between her mother and Ted he had overheard by accident. Nothing she could make head or tails of. It involved a man. If anything, this irked her curiosity even more. One of these days, her curiosity would get her into deep trouble, she thought sourly.
Shadows of her vexing memory were still troubling her and by the time she got up and continued to head towards the exit, she knew she had decided to finally confront her mother and get the answers she needed.
* * *
‘Mother, I’m home,’ called Tonks as she closed the front door behind her with a bang. ‘Whoops,’ whispered the girl while she strained her ears for the rebuke that was sure to come soon – her mother hated when she let slip the doors so that they closed with a loud hit, rattling the small square windows.
Sure enough, her mother’s shriek drifted across their cozy living room almost immediately, oddly enhanced, as if she were standing right in front of Tonks. ‘Nymphadora, what have I told you about slamming the doors? How many times I ask you? How many times must I repeat the same thing?’
Tonks clasped her hands over her ears, desperately trying to soften her booming mother’s voice.
‘And don’t you turn a deaf ear to what I’m saying, Nymphadora, or else you’ll be in big trouble!’
Sighing deeply at her luck, Tonks got out of her shoes and started walking slowly towards the kitchen door. A sweet, mouth watering smell was coming from behind it and she felt her heart skip a beat excitedly. Her mother was making her favorite desert: sponge cake. Eating a slice of it was almost worth being shouted at.
Tonks knocked timidly on the door, pushed it open slightly and then poked her head through the small gap. ‘Can I come in, mother?’ She knew perfectly well that cooking was Andromeda’s time to relax and was only too well aware that there were times when she wouldn’t allow anyone inside her kitchen.
The woman didn’t even turn. She waved her daughter in without looking at her. Instead, she kept bustling around the oven, opening it a little and peered inside to check on the cake.
Tonks opened the door fully, slid inside the room and closed it with the utmost care this time. It would be a real tragedy is she banged the door of the kitchen, and she remained trapped with her mother inside.
She went around the counter that was littered with used bowls and kissed her mother gingerly on one sweaty cheek. Her mother still didn’t look at her, but she smiled gently while squinting her eyes against the hot steams of air that were drifting from the oven.
Tonks walked onn the other side of the sideboard, sat down and pulled the nearest bowl towards her. She drew back the sleeves of her robes and was just preparing to plunge her hand inside the pot, prepared to allow herself the sweetest treat there was, licking the raw cake leftovers, when her mother asked curtly ‘Have you washed your hands?’ Tonks’s hand stopped mid air and with a sigh of defeat muttered a bitter ‘No, mother’ before jumping down from her seat and heading towards the sink to wash up.
Her mother really knew her well. She never could explain how Andromeda always seemed to know what she was thinking. She stole a glance at her mother over her shoulder and doubt started burning in her stomach. How was she going to do this? Maybe this wasn’t the right moment to ask about aunt Bellatrix. But, if not now, then when? When would the right moment be? Or the better question was, was there ever going to be a right moment?
She could not stand to see her mother upset. She was too precious for her. Despite their constant back and forth, she knew they were not real fights. She dreaded her mother’s reaction when she would to ask the question that was simply chocking her, but she couldn’t put it off any longer.
‘What’s wrong Nymphadora?’ asked a voice behind her, making Tonks start violently, knocking over several plates and cutlery that were hanging in mid air to dry, which fell to the floor with a deafening crush.
Andomeda clicked her tongue exasperatedly and pulled out her wand, giving it a little wave. ‘Reparo,’ she said, and the dishes repaired themselves and were once again suspended above the sink.
‘What has gotten into you?’ said Andromeda putting a hand on her daughter’s shoulder.
Tonks gazed sideways at it and tried to swallow but found that her throat was quite dry. This was it.
‘Mother, I – I meant to ask you. I’ve been having this dream…I mean, it’s not exactly a dream in a dream sense. It’s more of a memory of a sort, but there are times when I’m not sure it’s even a memory,’ said Tonks pausing nervously while lifting her hand to bite her fingernails. Her mother slapped her hand away before it could reach her mouth. Taking a deep breath, as if preparing herself to be out with it at once, to not prolong this painful moment any more, she looked up into her mother’s face and said quickly ‘I want to know more about aunt Bellatrix.”
The effect this simple sentence had on her mother was almost terrifying to behold. The hand Andromeda was holding on her daughter’s shoulder shook violently and her fingers dug painfully deep into her flesh. Tonks winced but otherwise made no other movement. Andromeda’s eyes were closed to slits now, her mouth a thin line, her nostrils were flaring dangerously and she had turned a pale white in the distance of a second.
Tonks found she could not look away. The resemblance between Bellatrix and Andromeda had never been more striking than when she was furious. And yet, the small squeaking voice in the back of Tonks’s mind warned her that her mother had never been like this before.
‘Why are you asking?’ whispered Andromeda, barely opening her mouth. Her eyes were boring into her daughter’s.
Tonks groped around for words. Her mind was in a complete disarray and any plan she might have had, any careful words she might have chosen beforehand, where long forgotten before the cold fury that was making Andromeda look so startlingly like Bellatrix.
‘It’s my dream,’ she tried, as she eased her mother’s hand from her shoulder and taking a few steps sideways. She felt silly at the impulse of putting distance between her and her mother, but truth be told, Tonks was thoroughly scared at this moment. Not only did she feel instantly sorry for opening her big mouth and causing her mother this suffering, but the striking likeness Andromeda had with the person who tried to kill her just a month back, sent waves of hot panic in Tonks’s blood. She was surprised to discover that her knees were trembling.
She gripped the back of a chair from nearby to steady herself and looked up defiantly in her mother’s face. She had come this far…
‘It’s my dream,’ she resumed quietly ‘or my memory. When – when I fought in the Department of Mysteries and I saw S – Siri ,’ stammered Tonks while blinking furiously ‘Sirius die, I saw a look on aunt Bellatrix’s face. Something that seemed genuine. Something that confused me and went against everything you told us about her. I think,’ said Tonks stopping for a second, throwing around carefully for the best word ‘she was sorry.’
The silence that followed was almost unbearable. Tonks was fighting really hard against her urge to look away from her mother’s searching gaze, but knew that if she did she wasn’t going to hear any answer. After what seemed like hours, Andromeda’s face relaxed and sge turned her back on Tonks, resting her hands on the edge of the sink.
Tonks blinked confusedly. This was not what she had expected. After her mother’s initial reaction she expected she’d end up breaking into a run out of the room, covering her head against the pots her mother would send flying her way. She shifted her weight from one foot to another, not knowing what to do. Instinctively, her hand darted upwards and she began biting her fingernails awaiting an answer.
‘Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Black are dead to me. I will never talk about them because I have nothing to say. Whatever it is you saw, it wasn’t real. That’s all I’m ever going to say about the matter. Now please, leave me. I have to make dinner,’ said Andromeda in a queer, quite unusual voice. She did not turn to look at Tonks again, but bent down and started rummaging in the drawer under her sink for something.
Tonks stood rooted to the spot for a few moments, temptation nagging her to press on the matter, to get a straight answer but she knew better than to insist. She knew perfectly well when her mother was definite about something.
Turning on the spot, she headed towards the door. With her hand resting on the handle, she looked back at her mother and a sudden madness seized her. Before she could stop herself, she opened her mouth and said, ‘I’m going to find out by myself then. Don’t be surprised when I do.’ Without waiting for a reply, she pushed the door open, stepped over the threshold and closed the door behind her with an silent click.
I am very excited about this story. It's a definite challenge for me because I will be tackling difficult characters. Tell me what you think in the small, cozy box below! I appreciate any thoughts you might have.
Enormous thanks to my lovely beta MissMdsty