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Old 02-26-2007, 12:05 AM   #400 (permalink)

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Join Date: Sep 2003
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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 had a brief scare at the announcement that the next book is coming out... will I get this done in time? If it isn't... will I be able to finish? *freak out* Anyway, I"m back and normal again, so here we are. Thank you for your comments... I read them to know exactly what you like and dislike and it's nice to know I"m not writing for just myself. This one is a lot of exposition, so bear with me. And ugh... I can't get my image to work. Not today.

It’s lucky when a witch who has suffered a great heartbreak doesn’t have the luxury of self pity. If left to her own devices, Tonks would have taken to her bed and resumed staring at the wall. As it was, she couldn’t abandon her post, and she couldn’t let danger strike Harry and the other children. She made her mission her world.

Savage complained that she was deadly dull, an interesting complaint considering Tonks has been sure he didn’t even like her at all. Why should Savage care if she focused solely on her work and refused her nights off? Her focus was the only barrier preventing the ache in her chest from becoming a black hole that would suck Tonks right over the edge. She was already empty inside except for the mission; it was a miracle she was still functioning.

Sheer force of will carried her over the next few weeks. It was a solitary life, consisting of her meals and daytime work with the other Aurors, nighttime rounds that she often opted to do alone, and the occasional owl from Moody or Molly. Perhaps she had cut herself off too much from contact with others, but she felt as if her hurt were drawn in deep lines across her face. She’d always been so good at hiding every emotion behind wit and humor and disguise, but she felt like an empty room now, once full of joy and laughter and now echoing hollowly with what it had once been. And she felt like it showed.

The hardest people to meet with were those that knew of her affliction. Snape didn’t trouble her, simply because he was as hateful as ever. She appreciated that reaction much more than those who looked on her with pity. They couldn’t know she’d laid her heart bare for Remus and been rejected, unless Rosmerta had spoken out on it. And Rosmerta seemed very introspective these days.

Molly was the worst, sending owl after owl begging Tonks to come for tea. They were full of empty platitudes about love and life, and Tonks had actually started tossing the letters into a pile on her desk without even opening them. The other person who was hard to bear was Dumbledore, and he was impossible to avoid. She spoke with him at least once a week, usually during the course of her rounds. While their words were always professional, she saw the concern etched across his ancient forehead. He knew about her heart, and he wanted to speak to her on it. One of these days, she feared he would, and her resolve would be lost.

On her last visit, they’d gotten to talking about the village, and Tonks finally remembered to mention having seen Mundungus with the artifacts from the Black house. She knew that nothing really dangerous was left in the house, but what if he’d started stealing items before they’d cleaned it out? Albus’s eyebrows puckered together as he considered her news, and Tonks cursed herself for having forgotten to follow through on this before. What other areas of her job was she letting fall to the wayside? Dumbledore didn’t let her dwell on it long before laying his plan out before her.

That was what brought Tonks to lurking outside the Three Broomsticks on a miserable October day. There was really no need for her to witness the transaction, but they’d all thought it worthwhile for someone to be around as Aberforth paid Mundungus for all the knickknacks he had in his possession. Just in case. Tonks had known for the schedules posted all over the Auror headquarters that it was a Hogsmeade weekend for the students, but it still took her by surprise to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione appear down the street. Blasted… Tonks signaled Aberforth from her corner, and he abruptly turned tail and disappeared. They’d have to haggle for the rest of it later.

It would amount to trouble, Tonks promised herself as she watched the Trio greet Dung. “Go, go, go,” she muttered, wiping the sleet that ran from her hair into her eyes. It really was a miserable day. Now if only Dung would get out of there before he… and then the idiot man dropped the suitcase. She slapped herself across the forehead and took one step into the street.

She’d heard terrible stories of Harry’s short temper from Snape, and even a few words of caution from Remus and Albus, but it looked as if they were all overwrought. Harry was looking right at a pile of objects that had been stolen from his godfather’s house, and he looked remarkably cool about the whole situation. In fact, judging from the exchange, it was possible Tonks wouldn’t have to show herself at…

Like a candle suddenly bursting to flame, Harry had his wand at Dung’s throat, pressing the man against the side of a building. Tonks leapt forward, her wand in hand. Served the little bugger right, but they couldn’t let him get scared off without getting all the items he’d stolen. The other side of the galleon was that they couldn’t let Harry get in trouble for hurting another wizard, even one as vile and useless to society as Mundungus Fletcher.

She flicked her wand even as she crossed the street in long steps. Harry’s hands flew into the air, and in a moment Dung had disapparated with a clap. It was to Harry’s discredit that he still hadn’t noticed her, considering that she’d just hexed him and was standing in the middle of the street. But he was too busy swearing at the thin air and waving his wand around like a madman.

“There’s no point, Harry,” Tonks used her calm voice, and she put her wand back up into the sleeve of her cloak. Calm voice? Did she have anything but the calm voice these days? “Mundungus will probably be in London by now. There’s no point yelling.” She was gratified to see him drop his wand hand, the temper immediately put away behind an equally fearsome simmering rage.

“He’s nicked Sirius’s stuff! Nicked it!” The angry glint in his eyes might have quailed a lesser man, but she’d faced down villains and Death Eaters and had her heart handed to her by a werewolf. No 16-year-old boy with an attitude problem was going to frighten her today.

“Yes, but still,” Tonks kept up the calm voice, now using it to grate on his anger. No sense pretending it hadn’t happened. She wiped the drip of cold water from her nose and nodded at the doors to the Three Broomsticks. “You should get out of the cold.”

Miraculously, they listened. The three disappeared into the pub, and Tonks stood at the window for a long moment. They were safe and warming up, and there wasn’t anyone even slightly suspicious looking in there. It felt a bit too familiar, though, to be standing in the cold and staring in someplace warm and lovely. Too familiar… so she stayed there on the pretense of watching out for Harry but really because she was starting to enjoy punishing herself for the mess she’d made of her life.

Rosmerta wasn’t behind the counter, and Tonks wondered if she could step in for a moment for a drink. She was on duty, but Harry was in there, after all. It was in-line with the parameters of her job to get into proximity with him if she could. Tonks was at the door to go inside, but she was forced to step aside, first for two older Gryffindor girls in the middle of an argument and in a great hurry, and then by the Trio on their way out. No one even noticed her. So much for rationalizing a drink…

She went inside anyway, pulling up a stool at the bar. Rosmerta appeared from the long hallway to the bathrooms, rubbing her hands together distractedly. “Oy, Rosmerta, I need a hot toddy and make it really hot.” She rubbed her own hands together just as Rosmerta had and watched the woman pour her a butterbeer. Obviously the pub keeper knew she was on-duty, but a hot toddy really would have been lovely.

Last edited by Cassirin; 03-16-2007 at 04:35 AM.
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