Chapter 11 : Chapter 11
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Tonks sat in a chair in the Dursleys’s ridiculously clean kitchen with her arms crossed over her chest. As grumpy as it had made her when Remus had called her ‘Tonks’ two days previous, she was feeling much grumpier now that he had just introduced her as ‘Nymphadora’ to Harry. She felt like he’d given an open invitation for others to try calling her by her given name. Hadn’t he said he would prefer to be the only one? Bugger men. Tonks stood and followed Harry to help him pack. After breaking the plate and chastising Remus, she decided she wanted to escape the kitchen for a while. She chattered away to Harry—who was obviously in just as grumpy a mood as Tonks—while looking at her reflection in the mirror. She frowned at the sight of her purple hair and thought about changing it to pink just to see if Remus would take notice. Tonks gave a decisive nod of her head and closed her eyes in concentration to morph her hair pink, smiling at the finished results. Her mood lightened enough to explain her morphing abilities to Harry and make a joke as they finished packing.
Tonks felt a small thrill run through her body as she caught Remus’ gaze as she and Harry reentered the kitchen and his eyes locked with hers. “Excellent,” he said with his shy smile as his eyes flicked up to her now-pink hair. No matter how hard she fought, she couldn’t keep the slight blush from creeping across her cheeks.
After what felt like the longest broom flight of her life, Tonks was happy to land in the square across from Headquarters. She crouched down the detach Harry’s trunk from the harness and looked over as Remus crouched next to her to help. “Lovely shade you’ve chosen for your hair,” he said casually. “May I help you with this?”
“Thank you, Professor,” Tonks replied with a grin.
“May I inquire as to my revoked privileges?”
Tonks stood and reached down for one handle of the trunk, Remus reaching for the other. Although thrilled with his compliment, she wasn’t quite ready to let him completely off the hook by allowing him continue on with ‘Nymphadora’ just yet. “I’m afraid I must deny your privileges a bit longer.” They lifted the trunk to carry it across the road.
“Really?” he asked mildly. “Is there a reason?”
“Of course there is,” Tonks replied. “But, you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.” Tonks gave him a wink as they stopped at the bottom of the steps leading to the front door of Headquarters.
Remus set down his side of the trunk. “I believe you’re overestimating my abilities,” he whispered as he stepped forward and tapped his wand to the front door. Remus stepped back to pick up his end of the trunk and let Harry and the rest of the Order members file into the entry hall.
Tonks waited until everyone had entered Headquarters before reaching her free hand up to brush the hair off Remus’ forehead. “You’re a brilliant wizard,” she said quietly. “It shouldn’t take you too long to figure out why, after you requested to be the only one to call me ‘Nymphadora’, I’m still holding your privileges revoked.”
After the briefest Order meeting to date—after which Tonks was tripped up once more by the damned troll’s leg—and one of the most uncomfortable meals she had ever endured, Tonks found herself sitting across from Sirius as he scowled into his wine goblet. The kids had finally been shooed upstairs, leaving just Tonks, Sirius, and Remus in the kitchen. She smiled as Remus sat next to her and reached down to pull her feet into his lap. “Trying to earn back your privileges, Professor?”
Remus began untying the laces of her boots. “Perhaps.”
“Are you planning on rubbing my feet?” It was not lost on her that he was essentially undressing a part of her body. She couldn’t help but stare as his long fingers worked the laces of her boots. Tonks laughed shakily as Remus continued to loosen her laces. “I’ll warn you that my feet have been stuck inside my boots since this morning.”
“I shared a dormitory for seven years with fellow teenaged boys,” Remus said as he pulled a boot off Tonks’ foot. “Your feet are unlikely to offend me.” He pulled off the second boot and dropped them both to the floor and smiled at Tonks’ feet resting on his lap. “Especially since you’re wearing rainbow colored socks.”
“Would you expect anything different?”
His hands moved almost reverently over the tops of her feet. “Not at all.” He looked up, locking eyes with Tonks. “You definitely bring color to the world.”
She kept her eyes on Remus’ as she smiled and fought the blush threatening across her cheeks for the second time that evening. Remembering that Sirius was still sitting across the table from them—for once, seemingly oblivious to their exchange— she successfully fought the urge to lean forward to snog him senseless. “Well, go on then,” Tonks said, nudging one of Remus’ hands with her foot. “Now that you’ve undressed them, you’ve a job to do.”
Tonks glanced at Sirius across the table as she felt Remus’ fingers go to work on her tired feet. Normally, Sirius would have been delighted to see the two of them interacting in this manner; obviously, the tedium of being stuck at Headquarters was getting to him. The row he’d had with Molly seemed to have pushed him further into his gloomy mood. She looked to Remus and saw that he was watching Sirius intently, his mouth set in a frown.
“All right, Padfoot?” Remus asked.
Sirius picked up his goblet and took a drink of his wine. “Bloody fantastic. Just need to find out where to turn in my resignation as Harry’s godfather.”
“Nobody wants you to do that,” Remus replied as he continued to massage Tonks’ feet.
Sirius gave a huff of disbelief. “Molly does.”
“She’s just trying to protect Harry,” Remus said, his voice maintaining its usual calm manner. “We all are.”
Tonks sat quietly for a moment, reveling in the way that Remus’ hands were caressing her, his thumbs massaging in circles around her weary feet. She refocused her thoughts and remembered back to how distraught Molly was the night of the Dementor attack and what she’d said then and tonight about Harry being as good as a son to her. “It’s obvious you care for Harry, but you should also understand Molly’s perspective.”
“What’s Molly’s perspective, then?” Sirius sat back in his chair and crossed his arms across his chest. “Other than finding me to be a bad influence and not fit to care for Harry.”
“She’s helped care for him and worried over him for years,” Tonks said, choosing her words cautiously. She knew Sirius cared very much for Harry, but she’d known Molly for a long time and had seen how protective she was over her children. “Now the cool uncle-type comes along, and I reckon she feels threatened.”
“What?” Sirius asked. He had a look of absolute confusion on his face.
Tonks glanced to Remus, who gave her a nod of encouragement. “She all but tried to adopt me when Charlie and I were friends in school. And I come from a lovely home and have two wonderful parents. Imagine Molly, as you know her, meeting Harry and not taking him in as one of her own. She’d take in a stray cat that was fed scraps and forced to sleep in a cupboard, much less a child.”
“Her extreme mothering aside, she still finds me to be a bad influence,” Sirius said sulkily.
Tonks rolled her eyes and sighed. “Even if she does think you’re a bad influence, I think it’s more that she finds you competition.”
“She’s right, Padfoot,” Remus interjected.
“Competition for what? What’ve I got to offer Harry?” Sirius asked. A bewildered expression still present on his face. “I’m just a fugitive with a run-down old wreck of a house.”
“Harry trusts you,” Remus said. “He listens to you. Especially after tonight when you were willing to tell him some of what’s going on.”
“He deserves to know,” Sirius grumbled. “He doesn’t deserve to be treated like a child. Not by Molly or anyone else.”
Tonks yawned and stretched. “Just try and understand that you both care for him, even if you don’t totally agree on things.” Sirius merely grunted in reply, returning to staring moodily into his goblet.
“Time for bed.” Remus stopped massaging Tonks’ feet and reached down for her boots. “You’re tired.”
“I blame Mad-Eye,” Tonks said with a smile. “I think he would have flown half the bloody night if we’d let him.” She reluctantly removed her feet from Remus’ lap and took her boots from his hands. As she pulled on them on and tied the laces, Tonks looked over at Sirius. His arms were still crossed at his chest and he wore a scowl on his face. “No more pouting, cousin. Your face will freeze like that.”
Sirius’ face relaxed into a small smile. “You sound like your mother.”
“Good,” Tonks said as she stood. “Maybe you’ll listen to me if I sound more like Mum.”
“I’ll walk you out,” Remus said as he held the kitchen door opened. He followed Tonks as she made her way through the house and out to the sidewalk. “I’ve given what you said some thought, and I think I know why you are continuing to hold my privileges hostage.”
“Do tell, Professor,” Tonks replied sweetly. They rounded the corner into the alley and turned to face one another.
“I introduced you as ‘Nymphadora’ to Harry. In front of most of the Order.”
Tonks smiled up at Remus and placed her hands on her hips. “And?”
“I’d said before that I preferred it to just be me calling you by your name.” Remus took a step towards Tonks. “Which is, of course, what I still prefer.”
“Then why’d you invite everyone in the room to do call me by the dreaded thing?” Tonks took a step back, bumping into the brick wall of the building behind her.
“First of all, your name is lovely,” Remus said as he took another step closer to Tonks. He placed a hand on the wall above her shoulder, leaning in towards her body. “Second, my manners dictate that I introduce people by their names. It certainly wasn’t an invitation.”
“See?” Tonks felt butterflies in her stomach and her heart quickened at the thought that Remus might actually kiss her. “I didn’t overestimate your abilities.”
Remus placed his other hand at Tonks’ jaw, his long fingers trailing lightly until they rested under her chin, tipping it up towards him. “May I now have my privileges back?”
“That all depends, Professor,” Tonks said breathlessly, feeling almost light-headed in anticipation. She felt caught between the conflicting emotions of not wanting the moment to end, versus wanting to grab the front of Remus’ robes to pull his lips to hers.
Remus’ eyes were locked on hers as he lowered his head so that their mouths were only inches apart. “On what?” he asked, his hoarse voice sending a shiver down her spine.
“If others now decide to take the liberty,” she said, thankful that the wall was behind her to hold her steady.
“I’ll see to it they don’t.” Remus brushed his lips against hers tentatively and pulled back slightly as if asking for permission to kiss her fully, keeping his eyes open with his gaze focused on Tonks. She closed her eyes in answer to his silent question and felt the hand under her chin guide her closer to him. Her heart pounded as she waited for his lips to capture hers. Just as she felt Remus’ mouth press against hers, Tonks was startled by the sound of Apparition in the alley.
Tonks couldn’t help the growl of frustration as she turned toward the sound and drew her wand, not knowing yet who had arrived. She lowered her wand as she realized it was Dumbledore standing in front of her, an amused expression on his face.
“Sorry, Albus,” Remus said, having drawn his wand as well.
“Quite all right, my dear boy,” he replied with a chuckle, his blue eyes twinkling behind his spectacles. “I daresay it is I who should apologize for the interruption.”
Yes, you bloody well should.
Standing in front of Dumbledore, Tonks felt like a sixth-year student caught snogging in the Astronomy Tower. She looked over to Remus and smiled, relieved that he gave her his shy grin in return. “I think I can manage making it to my doorstep from here,” she said, slightly embarrassed at how unsteady her voice sounded.
“Don’t rush on my account,” Dumbledore said with a smile. “By all means, please continue saying goodnight.”
“A lovely thought, sir. But, thanks to you the moment has passed.” Tonks clapped her hand over her mouth, horrified that she’d spoken so abruptly. She lowered her hand and shook her head. “I mean—” Not able to come up with anything appropriate to say, she sighed in exasperation. “Oh, bugger it all, I’m going home.”
Tonks turned on the spot, landing a moment later at her door. She quickly entered her flat, leaning back against the door after she’d slammed it shut. She was beyond frustrated at Dumbledore’s timing. If he hadn’t arrived, she’d probably be happily snogging a delightfully charming man rather than standing against her door pouting. She sighed as she began walking through her flat to the bedroom. Tonks quickly readied herself for bed, hoping she’d dream blissful dreams about what Remus’ kisses would have been like if they’d not been interrupted.
Two days later, Tonks dropped to her chair wearily, tired after her night of guard duty. She hadn’t seen Remus since their almost-kiss was interrupted. Apparently, Dumbledore had arrived when he did in order to immediately send Remus away for a mission to follow up on a piece of intelligence the Headmaster had received. Tonks had learned this after stopping by Headquarters after work the previous afternoon—under the guise of having tea with Molly—to see Remus. Despite her disappointment that Remus had been gone, she’d had an enjoyable afternoon taking tea with Molly and helping the kids dispense of a ghoul lurking in an upstairs toilet.
Tonks gave a wide yawn and rubbed her hands over her face. While ticking down the hours of guard duty, she’d played the events in the alley through her mind again and again; the warmth of Remus’ body as he’d leaned close to her, his hoarse voice sending shivers down her spine, the brief brush of his lips over hers. Tonks gave a contented sigh as she thought that sooner or later—hopefully sooner—she wouldn’t have to wonder any longer what it would be like to snog the daylights out of the man. She took a sip of the coffee she bought from the cafeteria while she debated whether or not to kip for a while in an empty conference room. The decision was made for her when Kingsley appeared at her desk a few minutes later.
“I’ve been looking for you,” he said quietly.
“You must not have been looking too hard,” she said with a yawn. “I was in the cafeteria, and now I’m here.”
“I wanted to give you a head’s up that Scrimgeour has decided to interview you today,” he said, keeping his voice low.
“Today?” She looked down at her appearance. She was wearing the same clothes as yesterday, hadn’t showered, and her robes were a wrinkled mess from sitting all night on the floor of the Department of Mysteries. “I look like I’ve been trampled by a herd of Hippogriffs.” She glanced at her watch and saw that it wasn’t yet eight o’clock. “Do you think I’ve time to run home and change?” And hopefully get more coffee…and a muffin.
“If you hurry,” he replied. “Just don’t let him see you on the way out.”
“Right, boss.” Tonks grabbed her coffee and stood. She turned to leave, catching her foot on a leg of her chair, Kingsley catching her around the waist before she sprawled to the floor. Her coffee landed at her feet, spilling across the floor in a puddle. Bugger.
“Just get going,” Kingsley said, waving her on. “I’ll see to the mess.”
Tonks managed to make it out of the Ministry without being seen by Scrimgeour. She made it to her flat for a shower and change of clothes—along with a quick cup of coffee and a piece of toast—and back to her desk before her watch read nine o’clock. Within a few minutes of settling into her in-box, Kingsley appeared to summon her to her boss’s office. She entered and took a seat across from Scrimgeour, Kingsley sitting in a seat in the corner.
“Good morning, Auror Tonks,” Scrimgeour began.
“Good morning, sir.”
“As your immediate supervisor, I’ve asked Auror Shacklebolt to join us.” Scrimgeour began the meeting with the normal pleasantries of how she was doing and how she felt her job was going. After the brief exchange of small talk, Tonks could tell the real questions were coming as Scrimgeour looked briefly to Kingsley sitting in the corner, cleared his throat and looked back to her.
“Well, let’s cut to it, shall we?” Scrimgeour looked down to a piece of parchment, his quill poised and ready to take notes. “The Minister has asked all departments to interview its employees in order to determine where their loyalties lie.” He paused to look up at Tonks. “Are you, Auror Tonks, loyal to the Ministry?”
“Of course, sir,” Tonks replied. As long as the current Minister pulls his head from his arse.
Scrimgeour narrowed his eyes and stared intently at her. “As a member of the Auror department, you are perfectly aware that the fugitive, Sirius Black, is still at large. Being a member the Black family, are you able to give us his whereabouts?”
Tonks was slightly taken aback by his question. Although she supposed it shouldn’t have come as a shock; she had been given this line of questioning when Sirius had escaped Azkaban two years before. “With all due respect, sir, this line of questioning was asked and answered during my final year of training when Black escaped Azkaban,” she answered swiftly. “As I said then, and will say now, I am unable to give you the location of Sirius Black.” Tonks had never been for thankful for the Fidelius Charm than she was at that moment.
“Very well.” Scrimgeour gave a swift nod and returned his attention to the parchment in front of him. “Are you acquainted with the werewolf, Remus Lupin.”
Tonks had to fight to keep her face impassive as anger flooded through her body. For Remus to be so easily referred to as ‘the werewolf’ rather than simply Remus Lupin outraged her. Her fingers begin to tremor; whether from too much coffee and too little sleep or anger, she couldn’t tell. She clenched her hands into fists and surreptitiously took a calming breath before answering. “I have met Mr. Lupin. We share a few common acquaintances.”
“You’re referring, I’m sure, to Alastor Moody.” Scrimgeour looked up and gave Tonks a measured stare. “What is the nature of your relationship with Moody?”
This question honestly surprised Tonks. Everybody knew that she was Mad-Eye’s protégée. “I beg your pardon, sir?”
“How would you characterize the nature of your relationship with Alastor Moody?”
Tonks thought for a moment before answering. “Mad-Eye is my mentor,” she replied. Obviously Scrimgeour wanted to know how close she was to Mad-Eye now that her training was complete and she was fully qualified. But the question was why. Was he going to question her association with other previous Order members? Dumbledore? Explaining to her boss that she was frequently in contact with her old Headmaster would be tricky.
Tonks thought quickly back to how she’d gotten rid of Scrimgeour in the hallway a few weeks back when he’d caught her leaving the MLE office disguised as an old lady. She’d quickly turned the conversation uncomfortable for him and he’d let her go on her way. “Are you asking me if I’m involved in a romantic relationship with Mad-Eye?” Tonks asked, attempting to keep from bursting into laughter at the look of absolute shock on Scrimgeour’s face.
“That’s not—” Scrimgeour stopped to shake his head slightly as if trying to make sense of what Tonks had just said.
She took advantage of his inability to respond fully to her question and forged ahead. “Because really, sir, unless my work is being affected somehow, my romantic relationships are hardly the business of the Ministry.”
Scrimgeour stared intently at Tonks. “I must say that your work has not been suffering.” He appeared relieved to be moving along to a new topic. “In fact, you seem to be keeping even longer hours than usual lately.”
Tonks was glad that he’d changed topic before having a chance to ask about Dumbledore. “I want to make sure my job is done well.”
“Which is admirable.” He took a deep breath before continuing. “Though it seems there are times when your longer hours have caused you a fair amount of fatigue.”
Tonks almost smiled as she answered, using his statement as a perfect opportunity to make him even more uncomfortable. “Sometimes during my time away from work it’s hard to get any rest.”
“Understood,” Scrimgeour said curtly. “I believe I’ve asked all I need to for the time being. You may return to your work.”
Tonks stood and turned to leave, a wide grin spreading across her face as she made her way back to her desk. Hopefully her boss was put-off enough by her supposed relationship with Mad-Eye that he wouldn’t feel the need to question her further. She was perplexed as to why he’d asked her about knowing Remus. Was it just because he was a known associate of Mad-Eye? Because they were both Order members during the First War? Tonks realized she’d have to start living up to Mad-Eye’s standard of constant vigilance to keep herself covered. The last thing she needed was to be suspended, or even fired from her job, since having spies within the Ministry was essential to the Order. Tonks finished up her work for the day, attempting not to look too knackered while sitting at her desk. She left for the Apparition point eagerly hoping Molly was fixing dinner before the Order meeting that evening.
Tonks let herself in the front door of Headquarters, taking care to avoid the troll’s leg that was unfortunately still in its spot. She frowned in thought as she realized that the wretched thing had tipped over last week when she’d tripped over it, which meant that it couldn’t have a Permanent Sticking Charm as Sirius had suggested. She crouched down to examine the terrible object, placed two hands close to the bottom and gave it a shove. It didn’t budge. Tonks placed her hands close to the top and attempted to tip it over. It still didn’t budge. She stood and drew her wand, attempting to levitate it with no success.
“The shape-shifting freak won’t be able to move my mistress’s possessions.” Tonks jumped as she heard Kreacher’s deep croaky voice from where he was lurking at the bottom of the stairs.
She placed her wand back in its pocket and placed her hands on her hips as she stared at Kreacher. “I don’t suppose I can order you to move this thing, can I?” Mindful of not waking Mrs. Black’s vile portrait, Tonks kept her voice low.
“Kreacher doesn’t follow orders from the offspring of the Mudblood,” he replied with a look of disdain on his face.
Tonks heard footsteps coming down the steps. “Kreacher!” Sirius hissed. “Go find something useful to do.”
Tonks watched as the elf bowed low and headed up the stairs, muttering to himself as he climbed. She said, “I reckon he’s done something to that stupid umbrella stand. I knocked it over the other day, so it can’t be the Sticking Charm.”
Sirius gave a shrug. “Who knows what he did to it. He’s completely off his trolley.” He gave Tonks a grin. “Wanna tell me why Moony came back in a techy mood after he walked you out Sunday?”
“What makes you think there’s anything to tell?” Tonks asked with a smile and a roll of her eyes. She wasn’t about to kiss and tell…well, almost kiss and tell, she thought ruefully.
“I thought you two were back to speaking to one another.”
Tonks crossed her arms over her chest. “We are. Did Molly cook dinner?”
“Don’t try to change the subject,” Sirius said with a chiding wag of his finger.
“We may as well change the subject since I’m not telling you anything, you stubborn git,” she said as she shoved playfully at his shoulder.
“Ha! So, there is something to tell,” he said triumphantly.
“Not that you’ll hear about,” Tonks said. She turned to head toward the stairs leading to the kitchen. “Come on, my nose tells me that Molly has indeed cooked something for dinner.”
“Wait,” Sirius said, his tone turning suddenly somber. “There’s something I wanted to say before Remus gets back at the end of the week.”
“Will his mission take that long?”
“No,” Sirius said with a shake of his head. “But the full moon’s tomorrow.”
“Haven’t you a place here where he can transform?”
“We could properly ward the attic, but he refuses to transform here while the kids are in the house.”
Tonks felt a pang of sympathy for Remus at the guilt he must feel after his transformation on the Hogwarts grounds. She didn’t know the details of what happened, just what she’d read from the article in the Prophet. She did know that he’d felt responsible enough that he’d resigned his teaching post. “What’d you want to say, then?”
“I’ve known Remus for a long time, and—” Sirius paused as if trying to find the right words to say. “Just don’t let him push you away when he gets back.”
“What do you mean?” Tonks eyed Sirius with a confused expression. “He seemed all right the other night.”
“Nothing like transforming into a werewolf to give him new perspective,” Sirius said wryly. “It’s just—he’ll get—” Sirius peered up the staircase and sighed in frustration as footsteps could be heard descending the steps. “He’s going to come back thinking all sorts of rubbish about how he’s not good enough, and he’ll try to push you away.” He rushed through his words quickly before the group of teenagers rounded the landing above and began down the last set of steps towards where Sirius and Tonks stood.
Tonks didn’t know how to respond. She knew from their earlier conversations that Remus was self-conscious of his lycanthropy, but it hadn’t stopped him from almost kissing her. She was fairly certain that he knew she wasn’t bothered by his condition. “I’ll keep that in mind,” she said before greeting the kids parading down the steps for dinner.
The conversation over the meal was as energetic as ever. The young occupants of the house complained loudly over the work they were doing to the neglected old house and how they only had a couple of weeks left in the summer holiday. Tonks was happy for the lively meal since it helped distract her from the absence of Remus and the exhaustion creeping through her body after her two work days sandwiched around guard duty.
After the kitchen had been returned to its pre-dinner state and the kids whisked away, Order members began filling up the kitchen in preparation for the meeting. Molly was bustling about like usual, making sure everyone had tea or anything else she decided was necessary. Just before the meeting was set to start, Snape walked through the kitchen door, making his way across the kitchen with a significant limp. Tonks thought he looked even more pale than usual and was in definite need of a shave. Molly started towards him, opening her mouth to speak. She was halted in her tracks wordlessly by Snape, who shot her a glare and held up a hand. Molly let out a huff of frustration, but let him pass to take his usual seat in the corner. Molly muttered under her breath while she busied herself preparing a cup of tea. Once the tea prepared, she walked over to Snape and thrust it in his hands. He peered up at her through the curtains of his black hair and gave her a stiff nod before taking a drink and settling further in his seat.
Once Dumbledore arrived and called them to order, Kingsley started the meeting with a report from the Auror department. “Scrimgeour is conducting interviews of our department this week. Fudge wants to ensure that the Ministry staff is on his side. He interviewed Tonks and a few others today.”
“How did your interview go, Nymphadora?” Dumbledore asked.
“All right, I suppose,” she said cautiously. “He asked a few questions about my associations and wondered why I’ve appeared so tired at times lately.”
“It seems our youngest member may need some lessons in discretion,” Snape said from his seat in the corner. “Rousing suspicion from your superiors rather defeats the purpose of being a spy.”
Tonks turned towards Snape. “Are you saying your boss never questions you?” she asked, looking pointedly at the leg he’d favored when walking into the kitchen.
Snape’s lip curled into a sneer. “I’m saying you would do well to learn some secrecy.”
Tonks glared back at him. “I suppose that means I shouldn’t wear my official Order of the Phoenix t-shirt to work anymore, then?” Tonks heard quiet sniggers from around the room.
“It means you should do your best to not draw attention to yourself,” he replied brusquely, not letting his voice raise above his usual silky drawl.
“I know bloody well how to do my job, thank you.” Tonks could feel her cheeks redden slightly as her temper flared. “And it’s no longer your place to take twenty points from Hufflepuff when you think I’m doing sloppy work.”
“Hufflepuff?” Sirius interjected incredulously.
“Yes, Hufflepuff,” Tonks countered angrily. “Griffyndor isn’t the only House at Hogwarts.”
“Scrimgeour’s interviewing the entire Auror department, not just Tonks.” Kingsley’s deep voice interrupted the argument. Tonks whipped her head towards Kingsley and gave him a glare as well. He knew very well that she didn’t need—or want—her battles fought for her.
“That’s quite enough,” Dumbledore interrupted. “What came of your interview, my dear?”
Tonks felt her temper calm at Dumbledore’s words. She took a deep breath and looked up at the Headmaster. “He seemed…uncomfortable with the answers to his questions and decided to end the interview rather abruptly.” She heard Kingsley’s deep chuckle from across the table.
“What’d you say?” Sirius asked with a grin. Despite her outburst over his insult to her House, Tonks returned his grin slightly as she thought back to her interview earlier in the day.
Tonks stole a glance at Mad-Eye, who was giving her a stern look. “He was asking about my relationship with Mad-Eye, and I sort of let him believe that we’re…romantically involved.”
Sirius let out a loud bark of laughter. “That’s bloody brilliant! A bit pervy though.”
“You’re daft, lass,” Mad-Eye said gruffly as other members began to chuckle lightly.
“It got him to shut-up, didn’t it?” Tonks asked Mad-Eye. “Besides, you should have seen his face. I reckon he won’t ask about you again anytime soon.”
“Indeed, Nymphadora,” Dumbledore said, his lips twitching in amusement beneath his mustache. “Now,” he clapped his hands together. “On to the next business at hand.”
The rest of the meeting passed with little excitement; the other topics were much less explosive, and Snape decided to scowl silently rather than berate Tonks any further. She was feeling annoyed by his earlier words. He had been…well, pleasant certainly wasn’t the right word. He had been not quite as unpleasant as usual when he’d stopped by her flat the week before. Tonks wondered about his appearance and obvious injury when he’d arrived for the meeting. She thought it likely that he had been on the receiving end of You-Know-Who’s—or some fellow Death Eater’s—wand recently. She supposed if she’d had to face a complete madman before the Order meeting, she would have been in a bad mood as well. Although, that still didn’t mean he needed to take it out on her.
Late Friday afternoon, the day of the long-awaited mission to Malfoy Manor, Tonks was feverishly finishing up work to leave for Headquarters to get ready. She’d been delayed by assisting in breaking up a skirmish during an arrest and was now in a rush to make sure she was ready on time. She signed her report, grabbed a small black handbag from her desk and rushed from her office. The nervous energy she felt over the mission was kept slightly in check by the early morning run she’d taken before work. This mission would be interesting to say the least; a large party full of Ministry officials, Death Eaters, and estranged family members. Tonks let herself in the front door, carefully walked through the entry hall, and up the stairs to the first-floor landing. She knocked on the door to the room that was shared by Ginny and Hermione.
The door flew open, revealing the girls standing with mutinous looks on their faces. “Tonks!” Ginny exclaimed, her face softening into a grin.
“I take it by the looks on your faces you were expecting rotten boys rather than me?”
“The boys are growing restless and taking it upon themselves to drive us mad,” Hermione said.
Tonks stepped into the room. She placed her black handbag on the bed and sat next to it, reaching down to untie the laces of her boots. “Well, let’s forget about those boys, shall we?” She let her boots drop to the floor with a thud and stood to shrug out of her work robes. “You ladies can help zip up my dress for this mission with Professor Snape.” Tonks opened her black bag and reached inside, her arm engulfed up to her shoulder by the depths of the magically enlarged interior. She pulled out a garment bag that held her dress. Reaching in again, she pulled out a pair of black ballet flats.
Hermione’s eyes widened with surprise. “What Charm did you use on your bag?” she asked interestedly.
“Like that, do you? Undetectable Extension Charm,” Tonks said with a grin. “It’s dead useful.” She unzipped the garment bag and pulled out her dress.
“Will we learn that in N.E.W.T level Charms?” Hermione asked.
“Nope. The Ministry tries to keep a watch on over-use of this charm. I had to get permission to enlarge this bag for missions.” Tonks stripped to her bra and knickers. She grabbed her dress and stepped in, pulling it up in place.
“Uh, Tonks,” Ginny said. “Surely you’re not going to wear your bra. I mean…your dress is strapless.”
Tonks laughed. “Of course not!” She reached around to release the clasp of her bra, pulling her arms through the straps one at a time while still holding her dress in place. “My mum’s brilliant with clothes mending spells. She altered the inside of the dress to fit like a bra, that way I don’t have to fuss with a strapless. I’m going to arrange my bits and hold them in place while you zip me up and tie the sash.” The girls giggled at her instructions as they fitted her into her dress.
Tonks slipped her feet into her black ballet flats, gathered her discarded clothes and shoved them into her black bag. She turned around and placed her handbag under her arm. With her other hand propped on her hip, she asked, “All right, then. How do I look, girls?”
Tonks was thrilled that she’d had her mum take her shopping. It wasn’t often that she had the chance to dress up, and she felt positively gorgeous in the dress they’d picked. It was cream colored and strapless, showing off her slim shoulders and toned arms. The bodice was fitted, drawing attention to her trim waist with a wide black sash. The skirt fell to just below her knees in tiers of cream colored lace and tulle. When her mother had pulled it from the rack, her first thought was that it was far too girly for her. But, once her mother had convinced her to at least try it on, she found that she loved it, despite the petticoat that puffed out the skirt.
“You look lovely,” Hermione said while Ginny nodded her head in agreement. “Too bad it’s for a mission with Professor Snape rather than a proper date.”
“Fred and George told us who you’d rather go on a proper date with,” Ginny said with a sly grin.
Tonks cocked an eyebrow at Ginny. “Your brothers are the two worst trouble-makers on the planet.”
“I don’t blame you, really,” Ginny said with a smile. “Loads of girls had crushes on him when he taught.”
“Is that so?” Tonks asked, both girls nodding their heads in response. “Well, I suppose I’ll just have to join his fan club since I have a bit of a crush on him as well.” Tonks crossed the room to open the door. “Time for me to go find your grumpy Potions professor.”
Tonks had almost reached the entry hall when Remus appeared at the bottom of the steps. He seemed rooted to the spot, staring up at her as she descended the stairs. She walked down until she was two steps from the bottom, leaving her at an even height with his tall frame. “You’re back,” she said with a smile. He was still staring at Tonks, wearing a look she couldn’t quite discern. He didn’t return her smile, but appeared to be deep in thought, like he hadn’t even heard her speak. “Are you all right?” she asked as she reached out to brush the hair off his forehead.
Remus shook his head slightly as if trying to clear his thoughts. “I’m fine,” he said as his gaze moved down her body appreciatively and swept back up to her face. “You look….”
“I take it you like the dress?” Tonks asked, resting a hand on her waist once again and twisting her hips back and forth slightly so her skirt floated around her calves playfully.
“It’s quite lovely. I must confess I’m jealous of Severus at the moment,” he replied, his hoarse voice even more so than usual. He finally gave her a small wistful smile. Tonks realized how tired and drawn his features looked; his skin was pale and he had dark circles under his eyes. She hadn’t let herself think until that moment how draining his transformations must be. “Speaking of Severus, you should get going to break apart the argument he and Sirius are having.”
Tonks realized she could hear raised voices coming from the kitchen. “What are they arguing about?”
“They can’t be in the same room and not argue,” he said, reaching out a hand to guide her down the last few steps. “Ghosts of schooldays past, I’m afraid.”
Remus released her hand and placed it on the curve of her lower back as they descended into the kitchen. As they pushed through the door, the two arguing men stopped their disagreement long enough to whirl their heads in Tonks’ direction, both gaping at her. Sirius’ angry expression immediately softened into a smile. “You clean up nice, cousin.”
Snape’s expression changed little before addressing Tonks. Some of the anger had faded, but his legendary scowl was fixed firmly in place. “I should hope you realize you will not be permitted entrance to the party wearing the face of Nymphadora Tonks.”
Tonks rolled her eyes at him as she placed her handbag on the table. “I’m sure it didn’t occur to you that holding a morph for an entire evening might be tiring and I wanted to wait until the last minute to change my face.” She scrunched up her face in concentration and morphed her hair first, lengthening it to chin-length curls and changing the color from pink to blond. “There had better be food at this fancy party because I’m going to be bloody starving too.” Tonks continued to morph her features into those of Claire Daniels, her alias for the evening.
“I’m sure the Malfoys will be happy to show off their status with an abundance of food and drink,” Sirius said dryly. “Be sure to feed her, Snivellus, or she’s likely to hex you.”
“Why don’t you stick to your house cleaning, Black.”
Tonks opened her eyes to see the two angry men facing each other. “Will you two prats give it a rest?”
“Unlikely,” Remus said as he sat at the table with a mug of tea.
Sirius turned towards Tonks and gave her a wary look. “Has anyone told you how odd it is to hear your voice coming from a face that’s not yours?”
“As a matter of fact, they have. Now,” she began speaking in her strong American accent. “For the rest of the evening I will be Claire Daniels, Potions researcher.”
“Let’s hope nobody finds the need to test your knowledge of Potions this evening,” Snape said with a smirk.
Tonks rolled her eyes. “I did great in your class, and you know it.”
“So long as you kept your backside firmly attached to your stool to keep from tripping over your own feet.”
“A fact you never hesitated to remind me of,” Tonks said as she picked up her handbag. “Now, why don’t you stop being nasty so we can go.” She looked to Remus and gave him a small smile. “I’ll see you later, Professor.”
Remus didn’t respond, but kept his gaze intently on Tonks. His expression mimicked the one he had worn just minutes before on the stairs. She realized now that he looked pensive, his eyes tired with a hint of sadness in them. Tonks recalled what Sirius had said just days ago, about how he would return from the full moon with a new perspective, possibly ready to push her away. She was ready to get this mission over with so she could have a chance to sit and talk with Remus.
A/N: Heehee:) Poor interrupted kiss. Don't worry, they'll kiss eventually! I hope everyone liked Tonks' interview with her boss!
As always, the universe of Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling, not me. The scene from Privet Drive is from Chapter three of Order of the Phoenix entitled "The Advance Guard". Remus Lupin's line "excellent" is a direct quote from that chapter. The arrival of the Advance Guard to Grimmauld Place is from chapter four, "Number twelve Grimmauld Place".
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