Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Harry Potter. If I did I would be a far richer man. And I'd be a woman. I also don't own Star Trek.

Reviews are appreciated but certainly not required.

AN: This is an idea I've been kicking around for a while now. I'm taking the basic cliché of Harry (or Ginny or Hermione or Ron) being tossed back in time and flipping it to someone who I've never seen before. What would happen if it was Tonks? What would a Metamorphmagus stuck in the past with partial knowledge of a rotten-future-to-come do? This no longer Harry's story. This is Tonks' story. Most of it is going to be told through her perspective. Assume a mostly canon setting prior to the start of this chapter.

Some warnings before we start: It will be solely Harry/Tonks (for followers of my other stories, this one is going to be a monogamous pairing). It will not be Hermione/Ron. The goal is to make him mature a bit and become a decent guy though not main character status like the others. Dumbledore is just well meaning, but flawed. I don't intend to take him in the direction of the 'Rune Stone Path' version. Molly Weasley however will likely end up slightly bashed at some point.

AN2: This fic has received a French translation by Itack23! It can be read at: 'Comme des Grains de Sable dans le Sablier' ( /13484917 ).

Chapter 1: Meet Theodora Nymean Kirk

The battle was already raging by the time Tonks and the others made it into the Department of Mysteries. She didn't have much information going into that maelstrom. The only thing she knew for certain was that her friend/third-or-fourth cousin Harry thought her first cousin Sirius was being held and tortured by Death Eaters. Of course the rescue group had been told why Harry had run to the Ministry, but not where he had run to. How they were supposed to rescue him without being told where they were supposed to go apparently didn't concern Snape overly much when he had informed them of Harry's concerns a few minutes prior. She assumed that Harry had been lured into the Hall of Prophecies. That she could even guess that much was thanks in large part to a conversation she'd overheard between Snape and Dumbledore near Christmas. How the Order had been expected to guard something when they didn't even know what they were guarding…

Rule Number 1: Always make certain that personnel involved in an active investigation and/or protection detail have all relevant details. Lack of detail leads to injury and death.

Damn Dumbledore! That man and his love of secrets, it was going to get at least one teenager killed someday! He'd refused to let even the members of the Order of the Phoenix in on what was actually going on – let alone the young man at the center of the entire fiasco. All Harry had asked was to be let into the loop; it wasn't that big of a thing. If the Aurors were placed on protection detail they always made sure that their subject knew who and what they were being protected from.

Rule Number 2: A victim is always more likely to comply with Auror recommendations if they are aware of the scale of danger inherent in their situation.

She'd seen Harry a few times in the past few months and the kid looked straight up awful. Between the stress of Umbridge, the O.W.L.s and whatever Voldemort was doing, Tonks was amazed he'd managed to keep it together for so long. Now with him apparently having a vision of Sirius being tortured…she couldn't blame Harry for running off half-cocked. Minerva was still down thanks to Tonks' less than stellar compatriots, Snape was just as useful as always – ranging from utterly useless to deliberately obstructive – Dumbledore was still hiding out at Grimmauld…Harry had had no one to turn to for help exactly when he had needed it most.

She should have been there for him. She wasn't that much older than him and she was an Auror. She was supposed to be there to help anyone who needed it. They hadn't had many interactions, but from the few they'd had he'd seemed perfectly sweet, if admittedly somewhat depressed. What made it all worse was that she still dimly remembered holding a baby Harry in her arms when she seven years old. He had burbled happily whenever she morphed her hair color. Harry was actually the reason she loved pink so much…he had always seemed to like it the most.

Now she was running to rescue the teenage version of her no-longer-tiny friend with Sirius, Remus, Mad-Eye and Kingsley…but she knew in her heart that it was already too late. She knew she was going to race through one of these rooms and find a dead body with a lightning shaped scar on his forehead. It had already been hours since he'd run from Hogwarts; Merlin only knew how long he'd been here fighting by himself.

He'd obviously been making the bastards work for it though judging by the destruction Tonks was running through. Three rooms and three scenes of devastation greeted her. The Hall of Prophecies had more broken spheres than intact ones. The Space room had three planet replicas shattered on the floor. The Arithmancy room had glowing numbers embedded into the middle of walls. The Thought room had Ron Weasley tangled up in brain tentacles gibbering nonsensically.

Wait. What?

"Shack!" Tonks yelled skidding to a stop and leveling her wand at the brain wrapped around the red-head. "I got the cognivore you get the Weasley!" She didn't even pause to make sure he followed her lead. Technically Kingsley was the Senior Auror, but they'd been partners long enough that she knew he'd do what she said. She shot off a cutting spell and smiled in satisfaction as the thought tentacles fell away from the boy and the brain dropped limply to the floor. Shack summoned Ron while Tonks banished the brain back into its aquarium.

Moody dropped to his good knee and grabbed Ron's shoulder. "Weasley, where's Potter? How many others are here?"

Ron gasped for air as the thought tentacles were unwound from his throat. "Harry ran through there," he said gesturing towards a door to the next room. "Neville and Hermione were with him. Luna and Ginny were in the planet room when we got separated." Tonks felt her stomach drop through the floor. It wasn't just Harry and Ron here. There were six teenagers fighting off Merlin knew how many Death Eaters!

And there hadn't been anyone in the Space room they'd just passed. Tonks desperately prayed that Luna and Ginny were still alive and not captured. If they had been captured…if they had been captured it might actually be better if they were dead as awful as that thought was.

"Ron, stay with us. It's safer and we need to find the others," Sirius said quickly as he rushed towards the door.

Tonks stopped her traitorous mind from conjuring up more disturbing images and she ran after her cousin. They burst through the door ahead and she found herself loping through the destroyed Time room. Broken pieces of Time Turners and the…sands of whatever made them work were scattered everywhere. The corpse of a former Death Eater slumped against the wall as a wonderful warning of why playing with Time was a bad idea. His baby head on an adult body was sure as hellfire proof of that principle. She barely had time to reaffirm her plea for divine help when they ran through another door and into sheer madness.

In front of them were nearly a dozen Death Eaters fighting against Harry, Neville and a blonde girl she assumed was Luna Lovegood. Luna danced through spell after spell without issue. Neville had blood running down his face and a broken wand yet was still knocking back Death Eaters almost every time he cast a spell. Harry was a blur of motion swatting spells out of the air and tossing back his own attacks. Tonks' attention was wrenched back to her own world as the floor fell away from her.

Stairs. The room has stairs. Of course it does.

She tripped down three steps before regaining some measure of balance. It was a good thing that she did trip actually since she felt two different spells fly just above her back and slightly burn her skin with their passage. As she tried to straighten up and leap down the remaining steps her gaze fell on a body crumpled between Neville and Harry. The blood trail behind made it obvious the body had been carried into the room from an earlier battle. A female body with bushy brown hair and a large wet, red streak down the majority of her torso. Tonks nearly fell down the remainder of the stairs.

Hermione's dead. We're too late. Dumbledore kept too many secrets. Snape stalled too long. I was too slow. This is all our fault. She's dead and it's all our fault.

The next few minutes of battle were a blur. She took out Dolohov before starting to duel with Bellatrix, her insane aunt. That duel didn't go particularly well for Tonks. She managed to barely evade the eviscerating curse sent her way though she hadn't quite managed to fully dodge the bludgeoning hex following behind it. She took it on the side of her head and wound up blinking up at Bellatrix from the bench. Tonks was still trying to figure out how she had gone from vertical to horizontal and focus on the center of three Evil Aunts when Sirius jumped in front of her and took over fighting the woman.

It took far too long for the chamber around her to recenter enough that she could lever herself up. That was all too clear as she had only made it to her knees when an anguished cry from Harry rent through the room. "Sirius!" Tonks turned her head and was just in time to see her cousin laughing at Bellatrix while a red spell shot into his chest. He looked stunned for a brief moment before tumbling unceremoniously back through the Veil.

Tonks felt her heart stop briefly. No. I only just got him back a year ago. What am I supposed to tell Mum? Harry's scream of rage brought her back to the present. The teen threw off Remus and tossed several spells at Bellatrix. Tonks' aunt responded with an amused taunt and took off running. She was out of the chamber a moment later cackling like the damned.

Harry followed right behind.

Tonks swore and finally succeeded in getting her feet under her. She started running again barely managing to keep the two in her sight as they passed through the next door. Tonks couldn't spare a thought to where the others in the rescue party were. They were likely finishing up with the other downed Death Eaters and saving…whoever was left alive.

Tonks knocked aside the next door and nearly crashed into Harry's back. He had caught up with Bellatrix.

Tonks had a firsthand view of just how much Harry's experiences this past year had affected him when he cast something she had never in a million years expected to pass his lips. "Crucio!" Harry screamed, his wand pointed at Bellatrix.

Tonks was too shocked to do anything other than freeze. Her aunt convulsed for only a moment before cackling again. "Aww, poor baby Potter," Bellatrix said grinning. "You need to really mean it for that spell to work right. I'd love to give you a lesson, but my Master approaches so I really don't have the time. See you in Hell, Potter!" she yelled raising her wand, a black band of light jumping from the end and streaking towards Harry.

Tonks had no idea what Bellatrix had cast, but she knew it was bad. "Harry! Move!" She reacted on instinct. Jumping forward, Tonks shoved Harry hard to the side. Her movement was enough to knock him out of the way of the spell, but she caught her foot on one of the stones tripping at the last moment. That final blunder was enough to bring her directly into the path of Bellatrix's curse.

She had just enough time to see the horror on Harry's face and the triumph in her aunt's as the spell connected. Tonks flew backward and slammed into a giant grandfather clock in the corner her eyes dimly focusing on a corpse with a baby's head on the wall across from her.

Time room. Damn. Live Harry, live. Sorry I couldn't do more.

Sand cascaded down around her and a loud roaring filled her ears. The room seemed to jump around her, broken items flying back into place on their shelves fully repaired and holes in the walls refilling themselves. The roaring increased and the movement in the room accelerated. Tonks almost felt like she was apparating with the way her body was being squeezed tighter and tighter. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't see. She could barely even think the pain had gotten so intense.

As suddenly as it started, everything stopped. The room ceased its mad dance, the sands that filled her vision vanished and the pressure on her body let up. The roar in her ears vanished with a final loud primal sound that resonated through every bone in her body.

Apparently it resonated outside her body as well as whatever she had fallen into exploded outward. Tonks was left blinking in confusion at a Time room that was mostly undamaged beyond the destroyed grandfather clock and loose grains of glittering sand covering half the room.

She breathed deep and was surprised to find that beyond feeling a bit sore, nothing struck her as horribly wrong with her body. Bella's curse should have killed her. It should have…

Wait. Bella and Harry are gone. Everything's repaired. Time room. SHITE!

Tonks clutched her wand and hurriedly cast a disillusionment charm on herself. She jumped up and moved to the opposite corner of the room just as the door to the chamber burst open, three hooded figures rushing in. "…massive temporal event. Nothing was scheduled today was it? Lurker isn't enough of an idiot to try and send something back during unsupervised working hours is he?"

The second hooded figure pulled up short and stared at the destroyed clock in front of them. The other two quickly froze staring as well. "Hell. We're going to get blamed for this…Start scans people. If there's been an incursion we need to lock it down and study it ASAP. We can't afford to let it escape. It'll probably be something small and…"

Tonks didn't wait around to hear anything else. She may not have been an Unspeakable, but she'd worked with a few on several ops beforehand. She knew enough to get some of their basic operating protocols down. It didn't matter to them if she'd only been knocked a few hours out of sync or a few decades. They'd cut her up either way to see if they could reproduce whatever had just happened.

Making sure her movements were silenced in addition to camouflaged, Tonks slipped out of the open door behind the Unspeakables. She carefully threaded her way back out to the exit and moved to the lifts waiting to slip inside with someone heading up. Thankfully she only had to wait a minute before one of the legal admins took a ride to the Atrium.

Rising panic threatened to overwhelm her as the lift merrily ticked away the levels. Tonks pushed it down with ruthless efficiency honed through her Auror training. She didn't know what had happened but she was going to find out and she was going to fix it. She'd find a Daily Prophet copy in the lobby and see what day it was. Then she'd drop her cover spells and thread back into her life like nothing had happened. With any luck she'd have only been tossed a day or so back. That was easy enough to deal with. A slight tip off about the coming battle and everything awful could be avoided. No mess, no fuss.

And if I'm forward in time and it's too late to do anything? What the hell am I supposed to do then?

Well if that was the case at least she wouldn't have to worry about running into a double of herself.

The lift finally opened onto the Atrium and Tonks moved forward slipping around the few personnel milling about in the central area. She shuffled closer to the stands with the paper near the fireplaces and nicked one while no one was looking. Leaning down to read off the date, Tonks felt her blood freeze.

September 1st, 1995.

"Bugger me…"

Tonks had slipped out of the Ministry and was currently busy breathing into a paper bag she had conjured on the street corner a few blocks away.

Rule Number 10: Always stay calm. Even with Killing Curses flying, staying calm will probably save your life.

"Okay, Tonks, you can do this. You can do this. Just stop and think. Think." Tonks scowled at herself and pushed to her feet starting to pace in front of the alley nearby. "They're still riled up and running around confused so there's still time to sneak back into the DoM. You could...try to repair the clock? Try to put the sand back into it and then...and then...bloody hell even if that would work what then? What would be the point?! Why would you even want to try and go back? Sirius was dead, Hermione was dead, Ron was hurt, Neville was hurt, Ginny was missing, Harry was probably about to be killed by Bellatrix…no, I'm not going to try to go back."

"Okay, so...what do I do now?"

Tonks stopped pacing and turned to stare at her reflection in a shop window. She had switched to brown hair before walking into Muggle London and she cocked her head frowning as she subtly morphed her features into a slightly younger visage. An insane idea started to take root in her mind.

"September 1st…Hogwarts Express leaves in an hour…Things started going all sorts of wrong at some point this year…I could…" she paused and shuddered. "No. No, I should tell Dumbledore what happened and he'll know what to…" Tonks trailed off again and scowled before slamming her fist into the wall. "Tell Dumbledore? Tell that arse just so he can tell me he has everything under control and to not worry about it? So he can tell me to go to some other country and pretend I don't exist while the exact same sob story plays out? Tell Dumbledore. Like hell!"

She strode into the alley with her mouth set and her eyes narrowed. "Harry's the key. If I can keep him from losing it this year than I can fix all this. They don't have to die. They don't have to run to the Ministry. Besides, no one – especially not a damn teenager – should have to shoulder the weight of the whole damn world. Helping Harry to have a better year is the right thing to do."

She hit the middle of the Alley and started to twist for her Apparation before freezing in place.

"Shite. I need a disguise. Can't go as myself," she murmured. "There's already a Tonks in this time period even if I make myself younger I'd be recognized…Okay, so what do I call myself?" She sighed and leaned against the wall with arms crossed. "Has to be something somewhat close to my name. I need to respond naturally when people talk to me. But…Tonks…bloody hell, there's no way I can be a metamorph with a name that even theoretically shortens to Tonks. Dora. Gotta go with Dora. Doreen? No. Dorothy? No. Theodora?" She perked up smiling. "Actually, that works. It sorta honors Dad and I can still shorten it without looking obviously like myself. Okay, do I keep Nymphadora anywhere?" Tonks scowled. She hated that name so much, but if she was going to change things then Nymphadora Tonks was going to continue to live her life blissfully unaware that she had a time lost doppleganger around.

Tonks would never be able to walk back into her old life again. She'd never be able to complain about her name or hug her mother or father or – "Stop. Stop thinking, Tonks. Stop thinking. You can break down later when you're not on a deadline." And now I'm talking to myself. Perfect. She sighed and shook her head. "Okay, keep Nym at least for something to honor Mum. No way can I use Nimue; way too obvious. Too bad, that would have been a fun moniker. What about…Nym, Nym, Nym…Nymean? Sorta like the Nemean Lion, but spelled differently? Keeps the weird naming thing Mum had going while still giving it my own flare. Okay, that works. Theodora Nymean. Weird last name. Need something else as a last name so I don't stand out too much. Uh…" Tonks trailed off as a smile split her face. "To boldly go where no witch has gone before. Theodora Nymean Kirk."

Nodding happily, Dora pulled out a mirror from her pocket and quickly enlarged it then pushed it against the alley wall with a sticking charm. "Now, the looks. Think, 'teenager'. Hmm, let's go black hair for now. Can change that later. Height, five foot…six? Sure, that works; not too tall, not too short. Breasts…um, 32C. That was my natural back then anyway I think…maybe…whatever, it works. Muscles, keep them the same. I could've worked out in the past. I'll be making Harry work out anyway. Face…little bit more cheek…little bit less chin…there, perfect. Eyes, blue. Okay, I think…yeah that looks convincing enough." Dora took one final critical look at the mirror before nodding in satisfaction. She looked like a fifteen year old again and not like a fifteen year old Nymphadora Tonks.

"Now, I just need to pick up my school supplies and run to…shite!" Dora scowled again. She didn't have a book list and there wasn't exactly time to nick one. Plus she wasn't going to be on the registrar for this year. Maybe…maybe that would be a good thing. "Mad-Eye's Rule 25: If you can't get it right, fake it til you make it. A simple trunk with standard potions and astronomy gear plus a new wand. I can bluff my way past McG with that and she'll get me into the classes and ordering the right books before the meal is over!"

Dora smiled into the mirror and apparated away.

Gulping audibly, Dora lugged her trunk onto the train. She'd gotten lucky and just barely made it on before the Express left the station. It had been too close – in more ways than one. She'd spotted her younger self milling around the platform with Molly and 'Snuffles' keeping a lookout for any shifty individuals. If Dora had needed any more confirmation on just how utterly screwed she was that was it right there. Tonks hadn't ceased to exist as soon as Dora popped in like a small part of her had hoped. Nope, there were now two of...No, there weren't two Nymphadora Tonks. There was one Nymphadora Tonks and one Theodora Nymean Kirk.

I can do this, Dora thought shuddering slightly. Merlin, this was going to be hard.

Shaking her head to clear the frightened thoughts, Dora shuffled down the train passage looking for Harry. She had to ingratiate herself quickly. He was a suspicious kid. He had every right to be, but it was going to work against her if she wasn't careful. From what she remembered him saying during Christmas he'd made friends with Luna on the train so she had a chance of getting into his group at the same time as the young blonde as long as she didn't push too hard.

Finally coming up to a compartment near the back, Dora looked in and saw Harry sitting with Ginny, Neville and Luna. Taking a final steadying breath, Dora set her features into the frustrated/eager expression she'd previously settled on and pushed the door open. "Wo-Hi, do you mind if I sit here?" Dora asked, silently cursing herself for almost using her normal 'wotcher' greeting. Rookie mistake. "I got here pretty late and there's like no spots left. I mean there are a few, but I tried to sit with this blond guy in green robes who looked about my age – but used way too much hair gel – and he started looking at me like a piece of meat. It got creepy so I figured I'd find somewhere else." Dora noticed Harry's lips curl into a frown and just barely avoided pumping her arms into the air. Mentioning Malfoy was definitely the right way to go, she congratulated herself.

"Sure," Harry said moving over enough for Dora to sidle in. "That sounds like Draco Malfoy. He's a git, don't mind him. I'm Harry; feel free to stay with us. I don't remember seeing you around."

"You wouldn't," Dora said nodding as she hefted her trunk into the overhead compartment and plopped down next to Harry. Reaching over she held out her hand. "I'm Theodora Nymean Kirk. Transferred in from the Wiltshire Coven. I think I pissed off the Matron too many times so she decided to send me to an actual school."

Harry frowned, but took her hand. "They're allowed to do that?"

"What the sending me away part or the homeschooling part?" Dora asked innocently.

"Er, both?" Harry asked.

Dora shrugged, but Neville beat her to answering the question. "They can, Harry. Covens are covered under different laws than most of us. The Ministry basically treats them like sovereign countries allowing them to do whatever they want for the most part as long as they stick with the major rules like the Statute of Secrecy and stuff."

"What he said," Dora agreed. "Hi, I'm Dora." She leaned across the way and shook Neville's hand.

He smiled and hesitantly replied, "I'm Neville Longbottom. Nice to meet you."

"And I'm Ginny Weasley. I hope you like Hogwarts," Ginny said smiling over and shaking her hand as well.

"Hello," the small blonde in the corner said lowering her magazine. "I'm Luna Lovegood. And you really shouldn't be here. I think. Are there two of you? Most people only have one. I would love to interview you for my daddy's magazine."

Dora could only blink at the younger girl in terror. Thankfully she managed to avoid opening her mouth and gaping though it took a supreme application of her metamorph abilities to keep her voice from shaking as she replied. "I agree I probably shouldn't be here. Rumor has it that a Dark Tosser is on the rise again. Personally I'd prefer to be shipping across the Pond if you know what I mean. Sadly, I think that would be more running away than anything else so, here I am." Maybe if she just ignored the most troublesome part…

Luna frowned for a moment before her face lit up with a smile. She nodded vigorously. "Oh I get it! Well hopefully you'll be able to help us with that issue." Dora suppressed a shudder. She'd definitely have to find time to sit down with Luna soon. That girl knew something and if she said anything…

"So, Dora, right?" Harry's voice asked cutting through her awareness. Quickly turning to Harry she nodded. "So, Dora, you believe Voldemort is back?"

"Wow, you don't shy away from the heavy stuff do you, Harry?" Dora asked groaning. At least this should be a safe topic. She remembered that almost everyone thought he was insane or lying thanks to the stupid Prophet. "Yeah, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's generally a duck. That Harry Potter bloke has been through crazy shite before that everyone said was impossible so why are people doubting him now? It's right stupid if you ask me. Burying their heads in the sand and hoping that the lion passes on their juicy behinds sticking up in the air, that's what the Ministry and the public are doing."

Harry's mouth dropped open slightly and his eyes widened. Dora worried she may have laid it on a bit too thick, but thankfully she was saved by the compartment door opening again. She looked up and had to clench the seat cushion to keep from jumping up and hugging Hermione as she stepped into the small compartment with Ron. Instead, Dora hurriedly shifted closer to Harry enough for Hermione to sit down on the bench though Ron took the opening and pushed into the open spot. Seriously, Dora thought glaring at him. What kind of arse leaves the girl to stand?

Hermione for her part narrowed her eyes at Ron before awkwardly closing the door and leaning against it. Harry made a move to get up, but Neville beat him to it and waved Hermione to take his spot. "Here, Hermione. This is Dora Kirk, she's transferring from an independent Coven. How was the Prefects' meeting?"

Dora waved companionably as Hermione eyed her critically. After a few seconds the brunette smiled and nodded a greeting. "It went about as well as could be expected."

"Yeah, what with that ponce, Malfoy as a Prefect. Pansy made it too. Don't know what Dumbledore was thinking there," Ron said opening his bag and taking out a chocolate frog. "Hi, nice to meet you, Dora. I'm Ran Weslay," Ron's last sentence was slightly garbled as he stuffed the treat into his mouth and held out his hand.

Dora could only groan. She had really hoped that he'd been better at school than he'd been at Grimmauld but apparently he had the same bad manners everywhere. Maybe she'd make him a pet project too this year. "Um, nice to meet you, but you're going to have to wash that hand before I shake it."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "I keep telling him not to do that and he keeps ignoring me. Perhaps you'll have better luck. I'm Hermione Granger by the way. You're from a Coven you say? I'd love to hear about that when you have the chance. I've heard about how the Covens work, but there isn't much material on them."

"Maybe later. I didn't pay much attention honestly," Dora said shrugging. A quick skim through a book while on the Knight Bus certainly didn't make her capable of dealing with a Hermione Granger fact finding mission.

They were interrupted again as the door to the compartment opened and Draco Malfoy and his cronies leered down at them all. "Potter, I see you survived the summer despite how you were dogging around during it." Dora scowled as she felt Harry tense up beside her. The significance of that statement wasn't lost on her at all though Draco tipping his hand so early was the sign of an extreme amateur. How the boy expected to survive under Voldemort was a mystery. "And the Weasel beat you out for Prefect! You must be so ashamed!"

"Malfoy – " Harry started to snarl before Dora cut him off standing to face the trio of Slytherins in the hallway.

She laughed in Draco's face and lightly poked his chest. "You really think you can rile people up like that? That's pretty sad Gel Boy. I'm amazed you can think enough to talk actually. That much product in your hair should probably be giving you brain damage. Or maybe it's a wig? That would make more sense I suppose."

Malfoy's face turned red and his hand clenched his wand. "Watch yourself girl. I'm a Prefect and I can – "

"Do absolutely nothing to me," Dora crooned. This might actually end up being a fun experience! "Beyond not having a House yet, I'm also sitting with two other Prefects who clearly saw you start the taunting match. I don't know if they skipped basic math in your education, but generally two is higher than one. Now run along like a good like metrosexual." She discretely flicked her wand shutting the compartment door. It nearly caught Draco's hand as he jumped out of the way of the flying piece of wood and glass. As it snicked shut, Dora cast a low level locking charm then silenced the door until the Slytherins gave up beating on the door and walked away.

She turned to see all eyes in the compartment staring at her. "What? Did you actually want to talk to them?"

Harry slowly started to clap and then began laughing at her. "That was impressive."

They lapsed into speaking of their summers while Dora leaned back into her seat and plastered a smile onto her face. Inside her stomach knotted over and over. First impressions on Harry and company were done. Now she had to deal with a far more frightening prospect: Minerva McGonagall. Dora breathed deep and made sure she had set her story straight.

Now if only she could remember Wiltshire Gwenog's first name...

The rest of the train ride went relatively well. By the time they had disembarked at Hogsmeade Dora was fairly certain she'd managed to gain Harry's friendship and Hermione's approval. Neville seemed to like her well enough and Ginny was at least accepting of her even if the red-head seemed to be a bit annoyed. Ron had been too busy staring at her to bother talking much and Luna…well Luna was…Luna was staying quiet about her uncanny knowledge of impossible events at least so Dora was counting it as a win.

She walked up to the carriages with the others only to see Harry stop suddenly and stare at the carriages. Why was he frozen? Why was he looking at the thestrals like they were – Shite. Thestrals. Cedric. Bloody hell.

"When did we get horses for the carriages?" Harry murmured breathing hard.

"Harry? There are no horses. They're pulled by magic just like they always have been," Hermione said softly stepping back to carefully take Harry's arm.

Dora grimaced and shook her head. "You saw someone die recently didn't you, Harry?" All the teens nearby stopped and stared at her. Dora just walked over to the skeletal horse and patted its back eliciting a pleased grunt from the beast. "There are thestrals hitched to these carriages. Only someone who's seen and understood death can see them. Poor things get a bad rap for that. They're actually really nice beyond looking half starved by nature."

"I can see them too," Luna commented with a sad smile. She came up beside Dora to pet the creature as well. Dora just looked down at the blonde in shock. She hadn't known that the girl had had trauma like that in her past. "They've been here since I arrived. They are quite beautiful. I can't say I'm sorry that you can't witness them yourself, Hermione."

Harry carefully walked forward and reached out to touch the thestral. "Witnessed death…you saw someone die, Luna, Dora?"

"My mother," Luna replied. She turned her smile on Harry and shrugged. "It was a long time ago. Thank you for your concern." And with that, she walked to the carriage and hopped up beside Neville and Ron.

Dora sighed and nodding to Harry turned to walk with him back to Hermione and the waiting carriage. "I'd prefer not to talk about it right now. Maybe some other time." Her mind flashed through several figures ending with Dolohov's head falling away from his body from her severing curse. Shaking her head to push away the memories Dora hopped up into the carriage and remained quiet during the ride up to the gates.

When they reached the doors to the castle, she came face to face with Minerva McGonagall in all her stern, scary glory. Suddenly Dora's cover story didn't seem quite so foolproof. "And just who might you be, my dear?"

Dora gulped and shrugged with a forced nonchalance. "Theodora Nymean Kirk, ma'am. The transfer from the Wiltshire Coven? Please tell me they sent the paperwork because I know I was supposed to bring a copy, but I tripped and kinda…dropped it…and it blew away…along with my book list…I got the potion supplies and I brought my telescope though! Can I look on with someone else until I can reorder my books?" Dora started praying to Merlin and Morgana and God and every other god and goddess she'd ever heard of that this worked. If she could get past McG with a decent sob story and appeal to her love of children…

Minerva sighed and shook her head with a deep frown splitting her face. "I don't recall receiving any of that paperwork, Miss Kirk. Who should I contact in the Wiltshire Coven to obtain a new copy?"

Dora grimaced and affected a bit of a wilt. "Um…well, I would say Mrs. Gwenog, but I got word shortly after I left that she was killed in some sort of terrorist attack the other day." Which was entirely true and why she had chosen Wiltshire to begin with. "I don't think anyone else kept my records and most of the others barely even knew I existed. Marley would be able to help you, but she moved across the Pond a few months ago. Ben was heading to Australia last I heard and um…I don't know of anyone else…"

Rule Number 13: When lying always include enough truth with fact that should they investigate you appear legitimate. Dora muttered a silent thanks to Mad-Eye and his devotion to paranoia and making certain she memorized all his rules to survival. If this worked she would never again make fun of the crotchety old bastard. Plus that random information he'd made her memorize about which Covens Voldemort had been targeting might just pay off after all.

Minerva cast a critical gaze over Dora for another few seconds before wincing and nodding slightly. "I understand, Miss Kirk. It seems we are all losing friends these days. I'll ensure you receive a book list before the evening is out as well as an owl order catalog. The paperwork is mostly to establish a record of your prior performance and is not strictly necessary if you have not yet taken your O.W.L.s. What year were you to be placed into?"

"Fifth, ma'am," Dora said breathing a silent sigh of relief.

"Very well, come with me and we'll get you sorted with the First Years."

Dora nodded and followed in step with Minerva. Well she tried to at least. She made it about ten paces into the castle before tripping and falling into a suit of armor. Her face burning in embarrassment Dora quickly picked herself up and ran after Minerva ignoring the looks from her soon-to-be-classmates as she went. I remember hitting that same stupid brick and that same stupid armor the first time I walked through those doors Second Year. How bloody ironic is that?

Her mind wandered as the Sorting took place and she found her gaze drifting around the hall. Draco sent several murderous looks her way which nicely balanced out the affectionate smile of encouragement Harry directed towards her. Dora felt her cheeks burn as she noticed that. Harry really shouldn't be looking at her like that. Wasn't he supposed to be crushing on Cho Chang this year? He sure as hell wouldn't be looking at her like that if he knew her real age. She was probably overreacting anyway. Dora wasn't exactly the poster-girl for a normal relationship and most of the guys she remembered liking her had just looked at her with barely disguised lust anyway. Harry was probably just watching out for a friend and wasn't remotely interested in Dora Kirk.

But you're only a few years older than him. You were starting to look at Remus like that before this shite and there was twice the age gap in that potential mess. And if Harry isn't interested in you yet...well it might be a bit fun to flirt with him every once in awhile...after all, it's not like classes are going to be hard so you're going to have to have something to keep yourself busy with, a small voice whispered in Dora's mind. She had to flex her abilities in order to keep her blush under control after that. Harry was cute sure, but she couldn't afford to think like that. She had far bigger things to worry about.

Such as what the hell she was going to do with this Hat she was walking up to. This Hat that could see into your mind past any Occlumency barriers. This Hat that she had completely forgotten about until this moment.

"Ah, well now, this is interesting," the Sorting Hat whispered into her ear.

Dora started sweating. She clutched the stool so tight her knuckles would've turned white if she hadn't flexed her metamorph power again. "Er, hi. Before you blab, please take a look at the rest. Please."

"Oh don't worry, Miss Tonks, I'm not going to say anything to anyone. I can't. It's part of the enchantments that created me. I also see it would be rather foolish of me to do so even if I could," the Hat started to chuckle. Dora let out a sigh of relief and let her fingers loosen somewhat. "This sort of thing doesn't happen all that often, but every once in awhile you get the occasional dimension hopper or time leaper. Nine times out of ten they're relatively harmless or succeed in their goal of making things better. That tenth time tends to be undone by another party shortly after."

Before Dora could even try to wrap her head around that, the Hat continued on. "Anyway, the important thing right now is where to place you. Normally I'd say Hufflepuff again, but such a clear split with your prior loyalty to Dumbledore makes that a rather difficult choice to justify. Forgive me, but you never were much of a Ravenclaw spirit. Slytherin would suite you quite well though. This plan of yours is delightfully cunning and would fit right in with that House."

"No," Tonks said, her eyes narrowing as she glared at the inside of the Hat. "How the hell am I supposed to protect Harry from Slytherin? Even if he doesn't stop talking to me right away I'll probably end up murdering Draco and getting kicked out before the week was up."

The Hat chuckled again. "Oh we both know you'd never get caught if you did. If would solve a lot of my problems to be honest. You'd be amazed at how many students I had to sort away from Slytherin because they'd had the misfortune of finding out he was in it prior to sitting me on their head. Ah, but if you're dead set against it…"

"Yes. Sorry, but I am not willing to take that risk. I can't let things go the way they did before. I need to fix them and to do that…"

"Yes, yes," the Hat gave a heavy, theatrical sigh. "Very well, better be…GRYFFINDOR!"

AN: Much thanks to RhysThornbery for his beta assistance on this.

AN: I'm treating the Covens similar to the Native American Reservations in the USA/Canada. Also, the Rules that Tonks keeps thinking about are meant to be entertaining references to 'Zombieland' with a bit of Mad-Eye Moody flair thrown in.