Tonks sat down in the mess hall, trying not to stare at the man who was assigned to be her mentor. Moody. Alastor Mad-Eye Moody. The man was a legend... so why was it Amelia Bones seemed to be silently snickering when she briefed the new auror on her mentor assignment?
Moody only looked up at his new apprentice for a few seconds, grunted softly, and said, "Fresh meat."
"Happy to meet you, too" Tonks said, rolling her eyes, beginning to eat her lunch.
Three hours later, Nymphadora was still hunched over the toilet, vomiting a seemingly endless series of beef stroganof.
"Learn your lesson?" Moody asked, stumping into the bathroom.
'That you're a horrible mentor?' she wanted to answer. Instead, all that came out was liquefied beef.
"Check for poisons. Mine wasn't lethal; Death Eaters won't be so kind."
"This is my section of the training wing," Moody said in a growl. "I've got it arranged like a house interior. I'll be inside, and it's your job to arrest me."
Moody disapparated with a crack.
"I guess that means you're not going to answer questions beforehand," Tonks said peevishly.
She opened the first door leading into the training wing. Inside, she saw what looked like a rather opulent foyer.
"Nice," she said to herself. And as soon as she stepped through the door, she felt a tugging around her navel...
... and her surroundings changed to the inside of a torture chamber. A second later, her wand sailed out of her hand across the room. Two seconds later, she was gagged and restrained on a rather barbaric looking device.
"You stepped on a Portkey Rug. Careless," Moody said, frowning. "I'll let you out when shift is over. Anyone asks, I'll be at the Leaky Cauldron."
Nymphadora sweated, inching through the training arena. Her shields extended around her sides.
Tonks looked up and saw a levitated Moody hiding behind an overhanging archway. Then she saw a red light. And then she saw nothing.
When she woke up a few minutes later, she was duct-taped to the ceiling in the Auror Lobby. Moody was glaring up at her. "Never forget to look above you."
"Are you going to let me down?"
"End of shift."
Tonks toppled onto the ground, petrified; Moody's head poked out from the floor.
"Or forget to look below you. Chunnel spell lets 'em come up from underneath the ground."
Nymphadora looked around, half paranoid. Where was Moody this time?
She carefully stepped around the rug, casting detection charms on what seemed like every inch of the room... only to be surprised when a unicorn burst through the opposite wall.
"Nymphadora," it whinnied, "I have a quest for you! You must defeat the Grand Necromancer of Poobahla"
Three hours later, Tonks woke up and found that, no, she hadn't completed an epic adventure with an array of woodland critters. She was, instead, drooling in the ministry infirmary.
"LSD, a muggle hallucinagen," Moody barked. "You went to the bathroom during lunch and didn't re-do your poison detection charms when you came back."
Sweat pored off Nymphadora as she pressed her attack. Spell after spell shot out of her wand - which after 5 minutes of non-stop frantic duelling, was actually smoking a slight bit. But given that this was the first time she'd actually managed to spot Moody before he dropped her, she swore she was going to finally win.
Another 5 minutes of non-stop effort, her knees started to weaken, her reflexes started to slow.
And 5 minutes after that, her wand no longer seemed to obey her - Tonks' magical core had been depleted.
She looked over at Moody, only to see him shimmer to nothingness.
... and another Moody appeared beside her, eating popcorn. "Good show. Next time, check to make sure it's not an illusion you're fighting."
Tonks collapsed onto the ground.
"Don't I ever get a day off from this nightmare?"
"Yesterday wasn't enough, cadet?"
"What are you talking about? Yesterday you had me battle an illusion of yourself."
"That was two days ago. Your assignment for the day is to read this," Moody barked, throwing her a tome with the title 'Obliviation: Practice and Defense'
Tonks paused outside the final door - she was sure Moody would be behind it. Finally, she might get the jump on him.
As soon as she put her hand on the metal knob, however, jags of electricity jumped along her arm, jolting her into unconsciousness.
Tonks threw open the door, seeing Moody behind it. Without a second's delay, she cast a stunning spell, watching the man drop to the ground. And then she checked to make sure it wasn't an illusion or some other nonsense.
Nope. It was Moody.
"I did it!" she shouted with glee.
Then another copy of Moody hit her with a petrifaction spell from behind.
Okay, that wasn't fair. There are now two of this grisled jerk?!
The question must have been visible on her frozen face, because Moody laughed. "What, cadet? You've never seen a Time-Turner before?"
Moody Ennervated himself. Frozen in place, Tonks could only watch for the next hour while Moody played chess with himself (the older copy won, of course, since he knew what his younger self was trying to do.) When the hour was nearly up, the younger version walked out the door and pulled out a Time-Turner before disappearing.
"Nearly lost my left nostril apprehending a thief using one of 'em." Moody threw another book at her. 'Running Out of Time: Tagging a Time-Turner Transgressor' "Have it read before tomorrow."
Tonks shouted in pain, falling to the ground.
"Ice traps. Nasty things," Moody shouted. "Lost my right knee-cap to one in '72."
Tonks couldn't believe it. She'd disarmed him. She had disarmed freaking Moody.
"Standard procedure," she said, mostly to herself, trying not to get lost in her euphoria. "Examine the perpetrator's wand for prior spells so it can be used as wizengamot evidence."
Drawing herself up, she pointed her wand at the elder auror's wand. "Priori Incantatem," she said.
She woke up 5 hours later to find spell burns along the front half of her body, as though she'd been exposed to raw magic.
Moody growled beside her, "It's almost as if I used a spell that would disable an auror going by the book without thinking. Not like it's difficult to charm a wand to explode if you cast Priori on it without a Finite first."
Tonks stepped into the foyer...
... and descended 30 feet after she found out the entire floor was illusionary.
"Did you enjoy your vacation, cadet?"
"I did," Nymphadora said happily. "I needed a break - the first two weeks were pretty hectic. I was surprised you let me take a whole week off to recover - but very grateful, sir."
"Good, because I need you to read the Sequel to the Obliviation Book." He tossed her another tome. 'False Memory Charms - How to Know When You've Been Hoodwinked.'
"Wait a minute... I came in yesterday, thinking I had a week off, but... I didn't even actually get a single day off, did I?!" Tonks whined to herself.
"Crucio!" came a voice from behind her. "With those reflexes, you don't deserve one."
Tonks walked into the atrium of the Minisry building.
And began to belt out a song at the top of her lungs,
"Moody is the best,
Trainer of us cadets
I sing my effing heart out
For the man we'd be lost without
Because he's so serious
About us resisting the imperi..."
Tonks waved her wand, somehow getting the jump on the elder auror.
But when she cast her spell, nothing came out.
"Fake wand," Moody grunted. "Swapping spell on you an hour ago. Pay better attention, cadet."
"Huh," Nymphadora said. "... so can I have my wand back?"
"Tomorrow. Stupefy Maxima."
Tonks opened the door to see what looked like a sitting room. It appeared empty except a bloodhound snoozing in front of the fireplace.
"Cute dog, Moody," she said to herself, smiling. "But you're not going to distract me with a conjured pet. Now... where are you hiding?"
The dog morphed into the ancient auror and quickly cast a bludgeoning hex that took out Tonk's entire right arm. "Never call my bloodhound animagus form cute again, cadet."
Tonks didn't see it coming.
Tonks didn't see it coming.
Tonks didn't see it coming.
"Blast it, cadet. When are you going to learn to deal with Disillusioning charms?!"
Tonks screamed in frustration between two streams of vomit. "How?! I did the poison detection charms!"
"On the food, yes. Next time, do it on the dishes as well."
She threw open the final door of the house. Tonks had managed to avoid all the traps - the illusioned Vanishing Cabinet, the cleverly disguised dark artifact, the swirling portal to hell beneath bedroom floorboards.
... only to find the last room empty.
And her magic wasn't helping. Her detection spells insisted there were no invisible people here, that here were no false walls here, that there were no transformed or transfigured people here.
Moody simply *wasn't here*.
Tonks scoured the entire auror complex, only to finally see her mentor again when he was clocking out at end of shift.
"Next time, don't forget the anti-apparition wards before you begin the exercise," he remarked.
Once again, Tonks couldn't find him.
Once again, she only found him at end-of-shift.
"... and the anti-floo wards, too."
This time, Tonks could swear she had him cornered. She'd laid down the wards correctly, she'd navigated the house's labyrinthian set of traps, and there was only one room left for Moody to be in.
She was right.
Unfortunately, this meant - for the first time since boot camp began - that it was time for an actual fight between the pair.
Three seconds later, Cadet Tonks lay on the floor, her robes smoking slightly.
If Tonks thought the first 4 weeks weren't pretty, she wasn't prepared for weeks five, six, and seven. Moody put her through the ringer, pounding her day after day. She'd almost longed for the days when she couldn't find Moody, or was simply put through an invisible floor 10 seconds into an exercise.
The worst part was... the longest she ever lasted against him in a fight was 13 seconds. That's it. Not even a quarter of a minute.
Tomorrow was supposed to be the final Auror Certificaiton exam, but Nymphadora was finally starting to doubt she'd actually pass the blasted thing.
Still, she wasn't going to show that sort of weakness in front of Alastor.
"What are we doing today, sir?" she asked him.
"Nothing, Cadet. Albus Dumbledore needs to meet with me today, so I figured I'd give you the day to prepare for tomorrow's test."
"Thank you sir," Tonks said gratefully.
"Though now that I think about it, Amelia Bones is having a luncheon today for Yallens' 10-year anniversary with the corps. You should go, meet some coworkers."
Tonks nodded and bid her mentor goodbye.
When Nymphadora arrved at the mess hall, she saw that the place had been decorated with pictures of a man - obviously, this Yallens auror that they were celebrating.
As she looked at the pictures, she heard a voice calling over to her.
"Ah, Nympha... I mean, Tonks," Bones said in a warm voice, motioning to a seat by her side. "Glad you could come - I always like meeting the new recruits."
Tonks nodded. But before she sat down, she frowned. "Shoot, I should've known better. Damn him."
"What?" Amelia asked, confused.
"Oh, nothing. Memoriam Fecit."
Amelia watched with a raised eyebrow as the young auror cast a memory spell into the air for no apparent reason.
Amelia raised her other eyebrow. "And now you're casting a... locking spell on my food?"
That spell was pointed at Yallens; Everyone fell silent as the man's head fell into his soup with a comical plop.
"Er," Amelia said, shocked. "Is there any reason you stunned the guest of honor?" Privately, she was wondering if the training program was beginning to crack the young metamorphmagus.
"Yeah, there's a reason. He's a polyjuiced imposter who travelled back in time."
Amelia blinked. "... say that again?"
"What? Oh, that's pretty simple. His name is Mar Edmullius. A few minutes ago, he was disillusioned and levitating above the table here - you could see faint wavering mirage lines from where the light wasn't perfectly transferring through the edges of the disillusioning."
"If there was an invisible intruder, why didn't you stun them instead?!"
"It'd create a temporal paradox."
Amelia blinked again. "... what?!"
"Well, Yallens - or I should say, the man masquerading as Yallens - isn't wearing a wedding band, but the tan line around his finger says he usually does. His robes are also too tall but not wide enough. Tell-tale signs of someone borrowing a body. So I glanced inside his mouth and could still see signs of discoloration on his tongue from a potion. Only thing that made sense was Polyjuice - someone was pretending to be Yallens." Tonks shrugged. "The whole setup seemed strange, so I hit Ollensdale with a silent Legillimens."
"What?! You used mind magic on a fellow auror?"
"Only fair, since he was hit with Imperius 40 minutes ago."
Everyone's head whipped around to the auror in question.
"Look at his eyes," Tonks said casually. "You can still see the faint glass-over effect - well, as long as you look past the glamor they tried to use to cover it with. Sloppy job of it, too - the illusion doesn't match his head movements correctly."
Amelia pinched the bridge of her nose. "Cadet, none of your story is making a whole lot of sense, and these are some rather serious transpirings you're alluding to..."
Tonks interrupted her. "Here's what happened. Mr. Edmullius was floating above the table - disillusioned - before he travelled back in time a single hour. He then used Imperius on Ollensdale to make him attack Yallens before the celebration started. Mr. Edmullius then assumed Yallens' form while Ollensdale hid the real Yallens' body in a coat-rack within the storage wing."
Tonks took a half-breath, half-sigh before continuing. "A few minutes ago, Edmullius took a vial of Hydrofloric Acid and transfigured it into food and gave it to you to eat. Meanwhile, and this is key, the 1-hour-younger version of himself was floating, invisibily watching to see if you ate the food. Because if you didn't, if his plan didn't work, then Edmullius simply wouldn't travel back in time and attempt it. He would either know for certainty that his plot worked or he'd never try it - and you'd have a hard time convicting someone for a murder they never actually attempted."
Tonks shrugged. "That's why I didn't stun the floating intruder - it would've created a paradox where he wouldn't travel back in time to assume Yallen's body - but that's something that I knew had already occurred. The only temporal-stable outcome was to plant a fake memory in the floating/younger Edmullius, a memory of his plan working perfectly, which caused him to immediately use his time-turner. The locking-spell on your food was just to make sure that if you did happen to eat some of it, that it'd stay mundane until it passed through your system. And then I stunned the older version of Edmullius sitting at the table, the one that we could arrest without causing a temporal paradox."
Tonks sighed grumpily. "Moody thought he'd trip me up with something this basic? Actually, scratch that - I'm less pissed about his lack of faith in me than his pretending to give me the day off... and then throw me into another one of his stupid tests anyway. You know what, I don't even want to know which aurors knew about his little game and were just playing along with the whole thing."
Peeved, Tonks stormed out of the room.
Amelia blinked. And turned to Rufus Scrimgour. "Did any of that make sense to you?"
"Not a lick," he answered back. "But what do you expect, from someone apprenticing under Moody?"
They both fell to silence.
"Well," Amelia slowly said, "we should probably at least lock up the attempted assassin before he wakes up."