Chapter 4 : The Break-In
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“Apparently,” Hemsley said, his expression tight. “Did you find anything?” Sirius stepped into their circle of wandlight, hauling his captive with him. Hemsley took a step backward, revolted, and Brown’s mouth fell open.
“Krognug,” Sirius said, as Krognug, or what remained of him, snarled, and tried to squirm free. Sirius tightened his grip on the leather collar he’d conjured and forced around the goblin’s neck. “Our missing goblin.”
“But he’s supposed to be dead!” Brown said. “Everyone saw the Killing Curse, but he looks alive to me.”
“Sort of,” Hemsley said, stepping forward to examine Krognug with a morbid sort of curiosity; bits of the goblin had rotten away, and his skin was a ghastly grey colour. “I’ve never heard a goblin make those noises-”
“He’s an Inferius,” Sirius said, rattling the collar. Krognug wheezed and tried to charge at Hemsley, but Sirius restrained him. Hemsley stepped back. “They – whoever it was - used him to get past the guards, and through all the goblin exclusive warding.”
“Ew,” Brown said, and for once, Sirius agreed with him. “So he’s just been like- well, like that for over a month?”
“You should come over here and smell him,” Sirius said darkly. “Good news is, the vault had been emptied. Not ten minutes before the break-in, apparently, which is bloody lucky.”
“They won’t say what was in the vault, or who owned it,” Sirius said. “But maybe once Dirk gets here, you’ll have more luck.” Hemsley nodded as he took this in.
“Not how you pictured your day off?” Hemsley asked, with a wry smile.
“No, not exactly,” Sirius said. They’d received two letters over breakfast; one from Hermione, in America, which had been delivered by a weary Hedwig, wishing Harry a happy birthday, and one from a Hogwarts owl; Harry’s letter had arrived – and been received with much excitement (some of it Sirius’, most of it Harry’s) and some sulking from Kreacher – that morning. Sirius had expected a quiet, fun afternoon with Harry and Remus, shopping for Harry’s school things. He hadn’t expected his Sidekick to go off while they were looking for cauldrons, though his location was convenient; he’d beaten the Hit Wizards to the scene.
“You’re bleeding,” Brown said. Sirius rubbed his cheek and felt three shallow cuts that would – if he felt inclined to try to match it up – be an exact fit for Krognug’s long fingernails.
“Little git,” he muttered, and then sighed. “I’ll deal with it later.”
“Did you want to go?” Hemsley asked. “We’ll need a report from you, but you can write that at home... we can handle the rest here.”
“Are you sure? I don’t min-”
“Go on,” Hemsley said. “Come September, you’ll be on full time, and you’ll be wishing you’d taken time off when you had it.” Sirius couldn’t fault his reasoning, so he carefully handed Krognug over to Brown, washed his hands with his wand, and made his way back out into the main part of the bank. It was completely empty except for staff – mostly goblins, but a cluster of humans were over at the far end. Sirius caught Andy’s eye and nodded at her, and then nodded again as he passed Scrimgeour on the way out.
“The vultures have arrived,” the other man murmured. Sirius glanced at him, puzzled, and then stepped through the heavy bronze doors.
“Black! Mr Black! Auror Black! Sirius!” Reporters had already set up outside the bank, which Sirius couldn’t help but be impressed by, given the break-in had only happened ten minutes ago.
“No comment,” Sirius said, trying to get past the mob, but they just closed in around him. “Get out of my way, please.”
“Was anyone hurt? Was anything taken?” Sirius said nothing, just kept his head down and kept walking.
“How are the goblins handling this? Will they close the bank?”
“I’m not at liberty to discuss an ongoing case,” Sirius said tersely. “Excuse me.”
“Where were you doing today before you were called in?” a witch in magenta robes asked. “Are you here alone, or are you with someone else? Harry Potter? A romantic partner?”
“Has your relationship with your godson suffered since you took this new job?”
“Is Harry looking forward to Hogwarts? How will you cope when he’s gone?”
“Are you still in contact with the werewolf Lupin?” More than half of the reporters followed Sirius away from the bank; the other half had pounced on a goblin spokesperson.
“Excuse me,” Sirius said again.
“How does it feel, Mr Black, to go from criminal, to law enforcer?”
“Oh, for- Caligo,” he murmured, and smirked as everyone shrieked and stumbled over each other to get away from the fog. Sirius tucked his wand away, transformed and bolted. He sought shelter behind a rubbish bin and waited for everyone to disperse – and by disperse, he meant return to hassling the people and goblins leaving the bank – before transforming back and altering a few of his features; Patrick Evans was his most common disguise these days. He also turned his robes navy, so that he wouldn’t stand out.
Then, he shoved his hands into his pockets, and went for a wander to find Harry and Remus. They were easy to find, in the end; the pair of them, and a rather conspicuous third member, were sitting under one of the umbrellas at Fortescue’s, enjoying icecream.
“Hello, Hagrid,” he said. Hagrid looked confused, and then lowered his voice. “Sirius?”
“The one and only,” he said, grinning. Hagrid beamed and patted him on the shoulder. Sirius staggered and fell rather ungracefully onto the fourth seat at the table. “I had a bit of trouble with reporters.”
“We saw,” Remus said, nodding down the busy street. From where they were sitting they’d have had a clear, albeit distant view of Sirius’ little spectacle. “And we ordered you that, figuring you’d be along soon enough.” Harry pushed a slightly melted, peanut butter fudge – Sirius still didn’t eat chocolate after the Dementor’s Draught incident – sundae toward him, and Sirius scooped up a mouthful, delighted.
“Thanks,” he said. Remus just smiled at him.
“Wha’ happened to yer face?” Hagrid asked.
“It’s nothing,” Sirius said, waving a hand; he was more occupied with his icecream. “So what’re you doing down here, Hagrid?”
“On official Hogwarts business,” he said proudly, patting his coat pocket. “Dumbledore sent me ter sort out a few things fer him.” He pulled a large pocket watch out of his coat and nodded importantly. “Best be movin’ on, in fact. It was nice ter see yeh Sirius, Remus. An’ happy birthday, Harry.”
“Thanks, Hagrid,” Harry said. “Thanks for the sweets!”
“It’s nothin’,” Hagrid said, beaming at him nonetheless. He waved his enormous hand at the three of them and disappeared into the crowd surprisingly quickly for a man of his height and bulk.
“How were things at the bank?” Remus asked.
“Later,” Sirius replied in a low voice. Remus nodded, and Harry just licked his icecream, oblivious.
* * *
Madam Malkin’s was their final stop of the day, and the one that Harry was least interested to visit. Moony’d left after icecream, to meet up with Tonks, and wasn’t back yet, and Padfoot had had to answer his Sidekick, so Harry went in alone.
“Hogwarts robes, dear?” a kind-faced witch asked, bustling over from the other side of the shop.
“Er, yes,” Harry said. “Please.”
“Well, I see you’re just as articulate as ever,” a familiar voice drawled. Madam Malkin seemed ready to tell him off, but Harry just smiled wryly.
“Draco,” he said.
“Potter.” Draco was standing on a podium, while an enchanted sewing needle adjusted his robes. Hydrus was next to him, still being measured.
“Hydrus,” Harry sighed.
“Just up here, if you wouldn’t mind, dear,” Madam Malkin said, conjuring a block for Harry beside Draco’s. “That’s it. Arms out, if you wouldn’t mind.” She started taking measurements by hand.
“Is it one of your birthdays?” Harry asked, looking at the Malfoys.
“No,” Draco said, as if he was daft. “Mother just didn’t see the point of buying robes that we’d grow out of before school even started, so we put it off.”
“Oh,” Harry said. He looked down, and was a little surprised to see that Madam Malkin was gone; she was talking to an elderly witch that had entered the shop. The tape measure nudged Harry’s ankle, and then stretched up to his hip, and a floating piece of chalk scribbled the measurements down on a nearby blackboard. “Right. Are your parents around?”
“Father’s next door because Hydrus forgot a book,” Draco said.
“Did not!” Hydrus snapped.
“Then why do I have it when you don’t?” Draco asked. “And Mother’s at Ollivanders-”
“Don’t you have wands yet?” Harry asked, surprised.
“Of course we do,” Hydrus said, rolling his eyes. “Do we look like muggles-”
“Other than the robes, we’re indistinguishable,” Draco told him. Hydrus looked horrified. “Do you really think you can tell someone’s bloodline just by looking at them?” Harry smirked. “I mean, look at the Weasleys; you’d never know they were purebloods, would you?” Harry’s face fell; Draco might not have meant it to be offensive (or he might have, with Draco it was hard to tell), but it still came across that way. He turned to Harry. “She wanted to talk to him about cores and woods.”
“She- your mother?”
“Well, yes, Potter, that’s what we were just talking about,” Draco said, looking exasperated.
“Keep up,” Hydrus sneered.
“You’re done, dear,” Madam Malkin said, coming back over. She helped Draco extract his arms from his new school robes and he jumped off the block and went to examine a rack of robes. “Now, do-”
“Just leave them on the counter,” Hydrus said dismissively; the sewing needles had moved onto his hems now.
“Thank you,” Draco added, giving Madam Malkin a polite smile. She looked a bit confused, but walked off. Draco gave Hydrus a reprimanding look. “Mother would be furious if she’d seen you treat her like that.”
“Mother’s not here,” Hydrus said loftily.
“That isn’t the point,” Draco said, irritated, and then glanced at Harry, who was watching them silently. “So how’ve you been, Potter?”
“Did you even read your dictionary?” Draco asked, frowning at him.
“Yes,” Harry said.
“You’ve had it almost a year now,” Draco told him, “and it certainly doesn’t show.”
“Sorry?” Harry said, not sure what else to say. “And... er... yeah, good, I suppose. You?”
“How can you possibly have been bored?” Hydrus asked, apparently shocked. “We’ve had four birthdays since yours, and two other social functions for no reason!” Draco’s face went curiously blank, the way Harry had seen Snape’s do on occasion. “Stop doing that!” Draco smirked, breaking his mask. Hydrus looked disconcerted. “Well?”
“They’re a dull lot,” Draco said. Now Hydrus smirked.
“You just don’t like them because they don’t like you.”
“Well, yes,” Draco said, blinking. “That’s not unusual.” Harry bit down on his tongue to keep from laughing, and Draco almost smiled at him.
“Is for a Hufflepuff,” Hydrus muttered. Then he looked up, smiling rather nastily. He looked a lot like his father in that moment. And Draco, with his folded arms, and supremely unimpressed expression, looked a lot like his mother.
Harry wasn’t sure if his robes had just been a better fit to start with, or if Madam Malkin had taken pity on him and instructed Harry’s needles to work faster, but he was done before Hydrus. He hopped down and followed Madam Malkin over to the counter, where she wrapped his robes and used the measurements she’d taken earlier to find him two pairs of school trousers, three shirts, a jumper, and five pairs of socks, which also went in his bag. She also gave him an owl order form, which he could use to order a House scarf, once he was sorted.
He thanked her, gathered everything up and headed for the door.
“Bye, Potter,” Draco called after him. “It was good to see you!” Harry had no doubt that he meant it.
“Bye, Draco,” Harry called back, with a genuine smile and a wave, and then left the shop, smiling slightly to himself as he braced for the headache that always seemed to follow in the wake of dealing with Draco’s polar personalities.
* * *
Dora curled into Remus’ side and let out a happy sigh. Her hair flashed yellow, and then reverted back to the pale blue it always did when she was sleeping. Remus adjusted himself - trying not to wake her - and was just putting his head down when he heard a quiet pop.
He sat up, carefully extracting himself from his girlfriend’s grip and reached for his wand. He heard a quiet thump, and then everything went silent again.
Remus frowned, thinking that perhaps it was Strix, his owl, or that he was imagining things, when he saw a shadow move at the end of the hall and heard the guest room door creak.
Sirius? he wondered, and then dismissed that; Sirius would have turned on a light and made himself a cup of tea... he wasn’t the type to go about unannounced. And Remus doubted it was Mad-Eye, either; he did, on occasion, sneak in to try to startle Dora, but he’d been in three nights ago, and he never bothered to check the guest room first because he knew where he was going...
Remus put a hand over Dora’s mouth and shook her awake. Her eyes fluttered open and he pressed a finger to his lips. She nodded and glanced toward the hall, where the bathroom door had just creaked. She grabbed her wand and rolled out of the bed, her expression resigned. Obviously she thought it was Mad-Eye. There was a thump and she muttered something about the bedside table. Remus slipped out of the other side of the bed.
A shadow - or more precisely, a tall figure in a black cloak - moved in the doorway of their room just as Remus cast a non-verbal Stunner and Tonks sent a Full Body Bind.
“Avada Kedavra,” it snarled in what was obviously a man's voice.
Remus threw himself out of the way as the green curse hit and burst a pillow. Dora gasped with the realisation that it wasn’t Mad-Eye, but didn’t hesitate and sent another hex - Remus didn't recognise it - but the attacker batted it away with a flick of his wand and Dora rolled out of the way of another Killing Curse. Remus’ heart was in his throat as he watched her.
Two more of the deadly green spells were sent Remus' way in such quick succession that he didn't have a chance to retaliate and was forced to simply dodge.
“Avada-” the attacker began. Remus spun on the spot and Apparated to the other side of the room. The curse exploded on the wall.
Dora fired off a quick spell that hit their attacker. He stumbled back a step with a sound like a snarl and shot a gleaming rope at Remus. It tangled around his arms and bare chest and he hissed as it burned; the ropes were silver. Dora looked at him helplessly for a split second and then cast a Shield Charm to block another attack.
“Finite Incantatum,” she said as soon as the attacker was distracted. Her hair was a brilliant red and her eyes were dark and angry as she flicked her wand at Remus, who was biting down on his lip so hard he was sure he was about to lose a chunk of it. He'd never been in so much pain and that was saying something. The ropes fell off him and he let out a little relieved sound and pressed a hand to a burn on his shoulder.
“Avada Kedavra,” their attacker snapped, sounding irritated. Dora pulled Remus to the ground.
“Sorry!” she said as he hissed in pain.
He shook his head at her - noticing absently that she was bleeding from a cut on her forehead - flicked his wand at the cloaked figure who was unable to block the Wind Charm and staggered back. Remus ignored the pain and grabbed her arm and then the familiar squeeze of Apparition seized them both and Remus' ruined bedroom faded. They landed roughly on a hard surface and Dora immediately jumped to her feet, wand out.
“Where are we?” she asked, after she'd determined they hadn't been followed. She shrunk as she spoke, to ensure Remus’ shirt covered more of her than it had previously.
“Padfoot’s,” he said. He pushed himself upright with considerable effort, but his legs were fine and standing wasn't a problem.
“Thank Merlin,” she said. “You need a Healer.” Remus watched her face, pale and worried in the dim light of the street lamp. Her hair was an odd purple – a mix of sad, scared navy, and furious red - and her eyes were a bright blue.
“Expecto Patronum,” he muttered, trying to move his arm as little as possible. His wolf burst into existence. “We need help. Come downstairs,” Remus muttered.
The door opened and Sirius stepped out looking half-asleep, dressed – like Remus – in only his pyjama bottoms. Dora sniggered, despite the situation.
“Are those paw prints?” she asked.
“I’ll leave you out here if you’re going to be mean,” he grumbled, rubbing his eyes. “Moony?” He blinked and took in Remus' burns. “What the hell happened to you?” Then he grinned wickedly and glanced at Dora again. “And is that your shirt she's wearing?”
Remus flushed and made a rude hand gesture. It made his burns sting like hell, but it was worth it. Dora pretended to ignore her second cousin, but Remus didn’t miss her hair turning pink, and he doubted Sirius had either. Sirius barked a laugh and stepped back to let them inside.
“Padfoot?” Harry’s head, complete with bed hair and very tired eyes, was sticking out over the landing.
“Go back to bed, kiddo,” Sirius called, yawning. Harry didn’t, though. He, like Sirius was in pyjamas, but his were shorts with little deer on them – a birthday present from Kreacher – and a big white t-shirt.
Remus didn’t know if he was too tired to ask, or if he was simply too used to seeing Remus dealing with painful injuries, but Harry just set about making tea – he borrowed Sirius’ wand to speed the process up - while Sirius retrieved his healing kit from the pantry.
“Thanks,” Dora said, accepting a cup from Harry.
“You're welcome,” he said, flopping down in the seat next to her. “What happened to your head?”
“I hit it on the bedside table,” she muttered.
“Oh, really?” Sirius asked, grinning widely at Remus. He summoned a cloth and dipped it in Dittany.
“Not like that,” Remus snapped. Sirius sniggered. Dora flushed. Harry, thankfully, was too tired to have registered his godfather’s comment. “Oww.”
“Sorry,” Sirius said, not looking sorry at all as he continued to dab at the burns.
“Sadistic prat,” Remus muttered, glowering at Sirius. Harry grabbed another cloth and started to heal Dora’s cut, and Remus felt a surge of affection for him.
“So,” Sirius said cheerfully, “what brings you here at one in the morning?”
“Someone broke into my house and started flinging Killing Curses,” Remus said. Harry paled. Sirius' dabbing stopped.
“A man. No idea who.”
“Why?” Harry asked, wide-eyed.
“They wanted Remus,” Dora said, her hair turning red again.
“Positive. They knew enough about him to use silver rope, aside from anything else.”
“It was planned, then,” Sirius murmured, dabbing Remus' other shoulder.
“They didn't know their way around the house,” Remus said. “That's probably what saved us. I thought it was Mad-Eye, but then I realised it couldn’t be-”
“Poorly planned, then,” Sirius said. “You can't rely on that next time, though.”
“This was planned,” Sirius said rolling his eyes. “Obviously someone wants you dead and since you're still alive, it's reasonable to conclude they'll come looking for you again.”
“He's right,” Dora said, not seeming to like the revelation at all. Remus didn’t like it much either.
“Of course I am,” Sirius said. Harry smiled, seeming too tired to laugh, but sobered quickly. “Kiddo, do you mind?”
“No,” Harry said, accepting the Dittany-soaked cloth from Sirius. He’d helped with this sort of thing a few times before, but his dabs were still softer, and more timid than Sirius’. Remus appreciated that.
“Library,” Sirius said, vanishing into the kitchen fireplace. He was back less than a minute later, seeming marginally more awake than before. He was dressed, at least, and also had a pair of jeans that he tossed at Dora. She put them on and then grew so that she filled them out.
“Stay here,” Sirius told Remus, but glanced at Harry as if to make sure that Harry knew it applied to him too. Then he looked to Dora. “Are you coming?”
“Obviously,” Dora said.
“Stay safe,” she said, giving him a small smile. She kissed him, and then followed Sirius into the fireplace, wand drawn.
* * *
“Clear,” Sirius whispered, catching Tonks as she stepped out of the fireplace. Sirius had already lit the lamps and once Tonks was steady, he released her and headed for the hallway, murmuring, “Ostendere Me Omnia,” as he went.
She followed; her Sidekick was in there, in her rucksack, and so was a half-finished report than she didn’t particularly want in just anyone’s hands. They were safe, though. Her bag didn’t even appear to have been touched, other than by a spell; the top pocket was a bit blackened. Sirius looked around the room, his eyes wide and unfocused, and then left.
“Green, black, navy and silver,” he muttered, as she joined him in the main part of the cottage. “Why does that sound familiar...?”
He crouched down, staring intently at a patch of floorboard that seemed remarkably normal to Tonks. Sirius, though, rarely did anything without good reason, so she left him to it, and tried to find the intruder’s entry point. She found it easily enough; a bowl had shattered on the kitchen floor, and Tonks knew that meant he’d come in through the window above the sink; she’d broken something in the exact same way nearly two years ago, when she’d broken in to borrow Remus’ clothes so that she could impersonate him.
“Here,” she said, growing her legs so that she could look outside. “Those plants look flat, and this bowl’s broken.”
“Geraniums,” Sirius said, coming over for a look. “He told me off for standing on them, once.” Somehow, Tonks wasn’t surprised that Sirius had once trampled (because with Sirius, it was rarely as simple as standing) Remus’ garden, and she certainly wasn’t surprised that he’d been told off for doing so.
“A few,” Sirius said, in a cautiously optimistic tone. He stepped away and back to the same patch of floor. “Nothing helpful yet, but if I just...” He trailed off, drawing strange shapes in the air with his wand.
“What are you doing?” Tonks asked in a hushed voice.
“I’ve been spending Tuesdays with trace readers,” Sirius said after a pause; she’d begun to wonder if he’d even heard her. “Picked up a few tricks.” Tonks didn’t interrupt him again after that, just perched on the arm of Remus’ couch and waited patiently. Finally, Sirius pushed himself to his feet and sighed. “Got it,” he said, extending his hand to her. She took it, and he pulled her into the tight darkness of Apparition.
Tonks fell over upon arrival, and for once, Sirius didn’t catch her; he’d already gone to examine something on a desk, on the other side of the room. She stood up, brushing dust off her borrowed jeans, and looked around.
They appeared to be in some sort of cottage. It looked a bit like she imagined the Shrieking Shack would, on the inside; the walls were made of crumbling plaster, covered in smears of dirt, mould and peeling wallpaper, and the beams that held the patchy roof up had almost been destroyed by rot. The floor was dusty – broken in places by footprints - and creaky, and what little carpet remained was stained and thin.
There was a desk and chair – over by Sirius – a kitchen, which seemed to have been cleaned recently, and there was, when Tonks checked, food in the cupboards. There was also a curtained off area which revealed a toilet – also clean – a showerhead above a patch of tiled floor, and a sink with a leaking tap. It couldn’t be the Shrieking Shack, though; Tonks could see the Thames through the spotty window.
“Homenum Revelio,” she said, but Sirius was the only one to glow orange. Tonks left Sirius examining the desk and went to check the next room. In it, was a small, lumpy bed that had been slept in at some point, and recently, because it was unmade, but dust was yet to gather on the exposed sheets. There was a door off to one side that led to another, smaller room, and in there, Dora found a cauldron, an open book with instructions for some sort of potion-spell combination ritual, and a whole lot of stacked jars and phials of strange ingredients.
She picked up the book and scanned the pages. It was, by far, the most complicated thing she’d ever seen, and she was a good enough potioneer to brew Wolfsbane (that had been her birthday present to Remus, in fact). It was also dark magic, involving the blood of the victim, and blood of the Master.
“Sirius,” she said, and he appeared in the doorway almost instantly, wand up and ready.
“Are- what’s this?”
“I don’t know.” Tonks offered him the book, and he accepted it gingerly. “I’ve never seen anything like it, but it’s Dark.”
Sirius seemed to have more idea about what the ritual did than Tonks had; gruesome as it was, she doubted he was paling because of the ingredient list.
“Green, black, navy and silver,” he whispered. “Of course! Knockturn Alley- It’s the same- They’re the same!”
“What?” Tonks whispered.
“This place...” Sirius said. “I never came, the trace readers did, but their reports described an old, abandoned cottage on the outskirts of London. And this-” He held up the book. “-is instructions.”
“I’d worked that out,” Tonks said, rolling her eyes, but her heart wasn’t really in it. She bit her lip. “Instructions for what?”
“For how to create an Inferius,” Sirius said grimly. “It’s similar to the Animagus stuff really; I could turn that cauldron into a dog, if I wanted to, using a variation of my old Animagus incantation, and I would be able to control it, the same way I control Padfoot, when I become him... But I could use that incantation on any old dog on the street, and it wouldn’t work... I couldn’t just force it do things with a thought-”
“That’d be the Imperius curse,” Tonks said. Sirius nodded.
“But if it’s dead, you’ve already got the body – so it’s not creating it, like with the Animagus stuff – but there’s no mind, like with a normal dog, or linked mind, like an Animagus. So you’ve got to... well, essentially make that link-” He held the book up again, grimacing. “-and implant it.” He shivered. “This is very dark magic.” He folded the corner of the page the instructions were on, and then shrank the book and tucked it into a pocket in his robes. “This is how they got Krognug,” he said, more to himself than her. “But how the hell is Remus the next step after Gringotts...?”
“This- they’re the same person? The same person that broke into Gringotts today-” Or yesterday, she supposed. “-is the same one that attacked us tonight?” Sirius nodded. “But- why-”
“No idea,” Sirius said darkly. “And here I was thinking I couldn’t possibly be any more motivated to catch this git... You should see this.” His mouth set into a hard line. “And fair warning: you won’t like it,” he said, leading her back through to the room they’d arrived in. She followed him over to the desk, and then stopped. She felt her hair shrink into angry spikes, and her eyebrows morph into a very pointy, angular shape. There, on the desk, were pictures of Remus. Two were from articles regarding his upcoming position as the Defence teacher at Hogwarts; one was from The Quibbler, and about how it was good that the wizarding community was finally starting to be more open-minded toward employees.
The other was from the Prophet, implying that Dumbledore was insane and Remus was a murderous beast. Tonks had sent the Prophet a very angry letter after that, and Sirius had also sent one, less angry, and far more impressively condescending and sarcastic than Tonks thought she’d ever be able to manage.
The desk also held a grainy photograph of Remus - who seemed to be telling Matt a joke - and a rough sketch of his cottage. Tonks stiffened and felt her skin tingle. She didn’t need to look to know it was red, like her hair. Sirius took a step backward, and then shook his head, took two forward, and put his hand on her shoulder.
“Go home,” he said.
“No, I-” She paused; he’d said ‘go’, not ‘let’s go’. “What about you? Aren’t you com-” Sirius looked like he desperately did want to go home, but he shook his head.
“I’m not done here,” he said grimly. “Someone’s got to collect this-” He gestured at the papers on the desk. “-before anyone tries to hide it, and someone’s got to try to trace our attacker past here.”
“Are there traces?”
“Not magical ones,” Sirius said.
“There’s no point, then,” Tonks said. “Come home, Sirius. This can wait until mor-”
“Not magical ones,” Sirius repeated. “But I have other ways of tracking people.” He tapped his nose, and it started to extend into a long, black snout before he changed it back again. “And they – whoever they are – went that way.” He pointed to a door that led out into an overgrown garden. Tonks felt tired just thinking about it.
“I’ll stay,” she said. “You could use the help-”
“Help me by warning your parents,” he said. “If they can’t get to Remus, they’ll try to get to you, and that’s the first place they’ll look. They’ve been forced to rethink after tonight’s little attack failed, but who knows how long that’ll set them back.”
Not long, Tonks thought; this person, had broken into Gringotts, after all. A little failure like tonight’s wouldn’t deter them for long.
“Then,” Sirius said tiredly, “tell Remus to go back to his cottage to pack; he can live at home-” By home, she knew he meant Number Twelve. “-until term starts. He practically lives there anyway, so we might as well make it official.” He smiled, but seemed too troubled to keep the expression there for long. Tonks nodded slowly.
“You’ll be all right on your own?” she asked. He was silent, toying with his Sidekick for a moment, and then looked up.
“Hemsley’s awake,” he said, “and probably already on his way to get Brown. I’ll be fine.”
Tonks stayed with him anyway, until Hemsley and Brown arrived – and answered their respective security questions – just to be sure. Then, she gave him one last look; a warning, that if he got hurt, she’d kill him herself. He nodded tiredly, and managed a small smile, and then she turned on the spot and the cottage melted away.
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