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Old 05-15-2006, 03:35 AM   #234 (permalink)

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Hogwarts RPG Name:
Phoebe James
First Year

x7 x8

Ministry RPG Name:
Genevieve James
Law Enforcement

Ministry RPG Name:
Carrigan Howard
Accidents & Catastrophes
Made of Awesome | Ern-la the Best-wa | TZ's Apogee

I really apologize for taking so long... I think I"m starting to despise this fic. I'll love it again soon. This was a hard section to write in some ways. I knew what I wanted to say, but didn't seem to have teh skill to say it. Hope it is easier for you all! Special treat... the first five readers to respond will be mentioned in the next installment.

Dumbledore continued on, neither desiring nor expecting a response from Proudfoot. He seemed quite merry, but there was an iron thread running through his words that Tonks wasn’t quite prepared for. He knew what he wanted of them, and in spite of themselves, the four Aurors were going to give that and only that.

“I expect all four of you will want to be on hand for the arrival of the Hogwarts Express tomorrow. It usually pulls into the station around 7:30, give or take 30 seconds. Depends on the weather through Lancashire. I also expect you’ll want to watch as the students get off to ensure their safety, but we have numerous measures in place once they are through the castle gates. There is no need for you to travel up with them this time ‘round.” He glanced at each of them again before continuing.

“You’re here, I know, to offer the school your protection, so I suspect you’ll have some sort of schedule worked out as to who comes to the school and when. We’ll have to set up a method of communication between your headquarters and the school, but that should be easy enough.” He paused expectantly as he looked to Proudfoot.

“Erm… righto,” Proudfoot scratched his bald spot and stared at the pile of papers in his hands. Tonks knew that look. What had appeared to be organized lists and charts at headquarters now paled under the immediate scrutiny of Dumbledore. Poor old Proudfoot was feeling like a fool. It was cruel of Dumbledore, in a way, to put him at a disadvantage like that, but Tonks was sure he did it for a good reason. Nothing like demonstrating once and for all who would be in charge while the Aurors came to call.

“I do have a schedule in here. Somewhere,” he shuffled the file and pulled out a bit of parchment. Shoving it across the table at Dumbledore, Proudfoot gave Tonks a helpless look. He was a big man, not fat but solidly built. Tonks had always appreciated that about him, and she thought it unfortunate that he looked like a lumbering oaf sitting across from the slender and genteel Dumbledore.

Despite his courtly appearance, there was something not quite right about Dumbledore. She watched him shift uncomfortably in his seat, one hand clenched tightly over the other. The hidden hand was dark, the skin that was visible looking to be brittle, almost burnt.

Perhaps she made a noise, or perhaps Dumbledore was really as canny as she always suspected, but Tonks looked up from studying his hand to catch Dumbledore’s watchful gaze. He revealed his charred hand to her curious eyes, his expression unreadable.

“Wh-“ Tonks opened her mouth to ask about his injury, but an elbow to the ribs stopped her. Snape had dug into her side beneath the cover of the table, his expression flat and unwavering. “Ow,” she curled her lip in a snarl and jerked around to face the rest of the Aurors again.

“Now is not the time for such questions, you foolish child,” Snape’s voice was low enough that the three other Aurors didn’t look up from where they were bent over the parchment pages Proudfoot held.

“I’m not a child, Snape, and I’m most definitely not your student anymore,” Tonks spoke out of the corner of her mouth, taking in the discussion between the Headmaster and her colleagues with the part of her brain that wasn’t working itself up into a right dither over Snape’s treatment.

“Then act like it,” she could hear the sneer in his voice, and Tonks turned her head to see if his expression matched. The movement caught Savage’s attention.

“Normally, Professor, you’d be quite correct. Nymphadora-love has always been the best candidate for undercover work, but her disguises have been… half-hearted lately. Real mystery about the department, that is,” he grinned proudly. His smugness at having revealed her failings faded with a loud “Oomph” as one of the other men kicked him under the table.

Tonks felt, rather than saw, Snape turn and study the mousy curls that surrounded her face. It was such an odd, awful color on her pale, heart-shaped face, and it surprised her that no one had thought it wrong sooner. Thinking of the hair brought Remus to mind. It was such a nice color on him, falling baby-fine across his forehead as they worked. A bit gray at the temples, but it did make him look ever so distinguished.

“Pity,” Snape’s voice was a sarcastic purr just at her ear. Tonks shivered, and it took all her training not to shy away from that breath of air against her hair. “Seems our little Nymphadora has a taste for monsters.”

“Only when I’m really hungry,” Tonks said, louder than she intended. She pushed back from the table and stumbled out of her chair towards the door. A glance over her shoulder gave her more reason to hurry from the room. The other three Aurors watched her in confusion, and Snape actually managed to look mildly surprised. But it was Dumbledore’s expression that drove her completely from the room. His eyes were sad and wise, and Tonks was sure he knew what her problem was as completely as Snape, although Dumbledore didn’t have to use mind reading tricks to figure it out.

“I’ll be testing the firewhiskey for poison,” Tonks shut the door hard behind her, leaving Dumbledore’s pity behind her. She already felt sorry for herself. She certainly didn’t need help.

Last edited by Cassirin; 05-15-2006 at 03:38 AM.
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