A Harpy Homecoming
No. 12 Grimmauld Place
"All right, Sirius, what's this about?" asked Tonks with a wide yawn.
She had received the message from her cousin to see him on her lunch break. The Auror had to keep up appearances, so despite the bruised back from last night's demon hunt, she had returned to her office at the Ministry this morning.
She continued as she walked slowly to him in the kitchen, wielding her most powerful weapon: puppy dog eyes. "Look, I'm sorry your Firebolt has to be reconditioned after my ride last night."
Sirius was waving his hand and shaking his head. "Tonks, it's not the first time you've broken one of my toys. You know I don't give a damn about the broom as long as you're all right."
He had put a hand on her lower back to lead her to a chair, but immediately saw her flinch. "I'm sorry, Tonks. It's that bad?"
"I've changed my hair to match the color of the bruise on my back. You like?" asked Tonks with forced cheerfulness. Her hair was definitely a violent shade of violet. That alone could make Sirius wince.
"No, I don't like," said Sirius with resignation. "I heard you weren't going on the Advance Guard and thought--I shouldn't have asked you to come. Never mind."
He turned his head away, but this time it was Tonks who reached out to him. She took his hand in hers and said, "I had Poppy look at it this morning. She did what she could, but it will be another two days before it's gone. Look, Sirius, don't think this isn't hard for me, too. I know how much you love Harry, how much Remus cares about him, too. I want to be there, but Moody put his foot down."
"And him with only one leg to stand on," said Sirius.
Tonks laughed and slapped lightly at his shoulder. "I could fight Mad-Eye and I could fight Remus, but when both are ganging up on me--"
"I understand," said Sirius. "It's just that Moony will have his hands full with the others in a Muggle house. I know Harry will trust him, but he'd feel more comfortable with you there, too. You're young and--and you always bring light into a room, Tonks, and I'm not referring to a lumos spell."
Tonks looked down abruptly and blinked her eyes. "That's the sweetest compliment you've ever given me, Sirius."
The man ruined the sentimentality by reaching out and ruffling the spiky hair, but his words were sincere. "You've grown into a fine woman, Tonks."
Tonks was now snapping at his hand, trying to get a bite at it as he continued to try to get another rub in. "I'm not a puppy, Sirius."
"Could've fooled me," he responded with a barking laugh. Their sobriety returned when a quick twist of her torso made Tonks wince.
"I'd gladly carry your injuries, Tonks. I'm certainly not going to be out and about," said Sirius. Then he abruptly snapped his fingers. "Wait. I've got it."
"You're not going to use a polyjuice potion to go instead of me."
"No, no--but I wish I'd thought of that. Still, I can carry your injuries, Tonks."
The Auror backed away from her cousin abruptly. "No, Sirius, it's too dangerous for you. It could backfire and--"
The wand tapped her back lightly and she literally felt the injury peeling away from her. She reached for Sirius who was now stooping a bit where he stood. "Damn, Tonks, how did you get this bruise exactly?"
Tonks bit her lip as she led Sirius to the chair. She was pulling off his robe and pulling up his shirt to inspect the bruise now on his back as she explained.
"I hit the water, remember?"
"I thought hitting water would be better than hitting ground when you fell off your broom," said Sirius with a grimace.
"Not when you're doing a Wronski feint," admitted Tonks. She shook her head and lowered his shirt. The transfer had been effective.
"A Wronski feint? Tonks, there are only two people in this world--"
"Who can do a Wronski feint," she ended with him.
"So, how are you feeling?" asked Sirius.
"Guilty about you carrying my wounds--"
"I'll go soak with some healing salts," muttered Sirius with a wave of his hand.
"--and ready to take on Lupin and Moody," she confirmed.
"That's my girl," said Sirius with sincere affection. "You'll take care of Harry for me?"
"I promise." Tonks leaned over and gave her cousin a peck on the cheek. Time to do battle. She just had to determine the best strategy. Ah, yes. Distract then strike!
"Where can I find Remus?"
- - - - - - - - - -
Molly had assigned the teenagers of the house to work on the attic, so all was quiet downstairs in the drawing room. Lupin was down on one knee in front of the fireplace, leaning one long arm on the mantle as he listened to Moody.
The Auror's disembodied head appeared in the floo. "...so Dumbledore thinks we got all the imberphasms, but we should still be vigilant. Too bad we lost Tonks--"
"Tonks is right here, gentlemen, and Tonks is going with the Advance Guard." Her voice was clear and resolute as she entered the room and secured the door again. She banged her knee against the end table, but managed to walk unfettered otherwise.
"No, you're not," responded Lupin without even turning to look her way. "You're injured."
"But I got all better." Tonks now stooped with her hands on her knees to look at Moody.
Moody gazed at Tonks and his magic eye began spinning. "You better settle this, Lupin. She's got that 'I've won already' look in her eye."
Moody's head disappeared, so Lupin stood to confront the younger Auror. She did indeed look like the cat who just got the cream as she rose to her full height. She barely came to his shoulder even then.
"Tonks, I know you're disappointed, but your injury would make the broom ride very uncomfortable."
"But I can show you that I'm all better, Remus."
Before he knew it, she had shrugged out of her Auror robe and had tugged her shirt off over her head. The polka-dot bra certainly got his attention.
"Please take a look," pleaded Tonks.
"What?" asked Lupin a bit distractedly. He could hear her speaking, but the blood had just rushed from his brain.
"My back, Remus. Inspect my back," she said as she turned around.
That broke the spell, but now Lupin faced the smooth silky shoulders of the woman. His eyes scanned her back. How could her skin be so perfect? "There's no sign of a bruise or injury left."
"You can touch me, Remus. I won't break." The words were spoken softly. Tonks expected Lupin to draw away from her and insist she cover herself, but in the next moment she felt his fingers tracing her back where he had expected to see the bruise.
Her breath caught as he repeated his touch and he immediately withdrew his hand. "You've hidden the bruise."
"No, no, Remus." She looked at him over her shoulder and admitted, "It's just that when you touch me, you leave me breathless sometimes."
"That's a good thing?" he whispered as his hands settled on her shoulders.
"Yes, a very good thing," agreed Tonks as she closed her eyes and let herself lean into him for a moment. He brought his arms around her waist, but clasped his hands together. Tonks was glad he couldn't see her satisfied grin at that telling sign.
"I better get covered up since we don't have time for your first seduction lesson." Tonks slipped out of his embrace and quickly donned her shirt. "Now, will you tell Moody that I can go?"
Lupin was standing with his hands in his pocket. "Sirius transferred the wound, didn't he? Never should have taught him that spell."
"He's quite good at it," assured Tonks. "Did he help you that way?"
"No, Sirius learned it to help James. In fifth year James had injured his wrist during a prank and they wouldn't listen to me about going to Pomfrey. So I taught the spell to Sirius, he carried the injured wrist and Gryffindor won the Quidditch cup."
"Sirius thinks Harry will feel more comfortable with me there tonight," admitted Tonks.
Lupin lifted her chin and said, "I think Harry will love meeting you, Nymphadora Tonks."
"I've warned you about telling him my name is Nymphadora, Remus."
"It might be worth it just to experience the punishment," said Lupin as he leaned forward to kiss her.
It was a soft, gentle kiss that was cut all too short by a disembodied voice of Moody growling as he re-appeared in the floo.
"Oh, not again!"
Lupin was openly chuckling at the interruption as he pulled away, but it turned into a real laugh when Tonks leaned down and planted a smoochy kiss on Moody's forehead. "Don't want you feeling left out, Mad-Eye."
"Ach! Lupin, you've unleashed a kissing bandit!" Mad-Eye was wiping his face.
Lupin fell to one knee so he could face Moody more directly in the floo. "She'll relent if you let her on the Advance Guard. The bruise is gone and we really need Tonks with us."
"Hmf. All right," Moody growled, "but I'm designating this mission a snog-free zone."
Tonks almost leaned in and kissed Moody again, but Lupin caught her shoulders.
"Right then," said Tonks. "Now, what have I missed?"
She settled on the carpet beside Lupin to discuss the plan with Moody.
"Well, first, since you're back on the guard, you'll take point. I'll use a Double-disillusionment charm on Potter that limits his vision. I don't want him to break formation if we encounter imberphasms."
"Harry wouldn't be frightened," said Lupin.
"No, but he'd likely try to help and that would be a mistake..."
Tonks listened to the details. She was determined to live up to her oath to protect Harry Potter.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
No. 4 Privet Drive
"Moody, what are we waiting for exactly?" whispered Tonks. Moody had kept the Advance Guard standing perfectly still as soon as they entered the Dursley's kitchen.
"I need to make sure there's nothing lurking about." Moody kept rubbing at his eye.
"Hestia, please don't touch that." Lupin's voice could be heard murmuring to the others who had now abandoned Moody's directive to stay still. "Daedelus, put that back, please. Moody, we don't have much time."
Tonks could hear the note of frustration entering Lupin's voice. They needed to get going. She saw the white plate gleaming in the moonlight.
"Oops, sorry, Mad-Eye, you know how clumsy I am." Tonks merely shrugged.
"Now you've gone and done it, Tonks! I thought you were familiar with Muggles?"
"Harry's bound to have heard that," said Lupin as he tugged Emmeline Vance away before she stuck her wand in an electrical outlet.
"We'll have to storm his room and subdue him lest he takes us for burglars," announced Moody.
"I think he'd prefer to walk out on his own volition, Mad-Eye. Teenagers are horrible about things like that, you know."
"Aloha mora." Lupin pointed his wand in the direction of Harry's room. He then said, "Come on, Harry should be coming out of his room soon."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"That went well," said Lupin to Moody as they watched Tonks and Harry walk outside to the garden after the Advance Guard.
Moody had a grin on his face. "You're in trouble, Lupin. The last time I introduced Tonks by her first name, she made me dinner."
"That's not so bad," said Lupin. He'd suffered her scorched noodles recently.
Moody emitted a rather disconcerting chuckle that was low and growling.
Lupin walked away from the man to check the harness on Tonks' broom with Harry's trunk and Hedwig's cage.
"It's old, but it'll hold. Flitwick charmed it for me," reassured Tonks.
"I'll still help stabilize the harness from below," murmured Lupin. "Remember, Harry will only be have a limited view of things. If we're attacked again, keep him on course and let us take care of the imbers."
"I can do that."
Lupin moved away quickly as Moody gave his instructions to Harry. It was time to start their journey.
- - - - -
The Advance Guard made good progress for some time. Moody's convoluted flight plan was difficult to follow and Lupin was relieved that it was a clear night. But his optimism changed when he saw the clouds in the distance as he glanced over his shoulder.
Lupin turned abruptly and knew Tonks would notice the loss of balance as he drew his attention away from stabilizing her harness.
Flying in reverse was a trick all Aurors had to master, but Lupin was grateful he didn't have to do it often. He saw the signal from Moody indicating his anxiety was justified: they were being chased by imberphasms. From his vantage, Kingsley had turned around as well. He signaled to Lupin to get closer to Moody while they conferred
Soon they were in a cold, freezing wind as three Harpies were looming behind them with their translucent wings flapping madly. The whistle of their voices would make the others think it was just something odd in the wind.
Tonks knew better. She had grabbed her broom handle rigidly when it lost some balance and assumed that imbers had been detected. She threw a quick glance over her shoulder and smiled at Harry. She quietly called an impervious spell to keep most of the cold wind from doing its worst to him, but she knew the effect would be limited.
Her own hands were already feeling numb from the attack. She closed her eyes and thought of warm things. "Earl Gray. Hot cocoa. Warm bed. Remus Lupin."
She scanned the skies one more time, but with a last glance over her shoulder, her suspicions were revealed. Tonks was dismayed to see the three Harpies looming at their back as the three men converged. She turned, wishing she could hear their conversation.
- - - - -
"They're staying out of wand range," said Lupin.
"They're trying to draw us out of formation." Kingsley clearly didn't like being lured from his assigned position.
"We wait them out for a time. They'll get weaker and get impatient, move closer."
"We'll be freezing by then," said Lupin. "I'm worried about Harry."
"Better to bring home an icicle than a corpse," muttered Moody. "Stay the course for now, then we make a fast strike. I'll take the one in the middle, you two take the laterals."
"The signal?" asked Kingsley.
"After I call to turn Southwest, get back here."
Lupin and Kingsley nodded and got back in formation.
- - - - -
Tonks felt the harness being buffeted again and knew that Lupin was back. She wiggled her numb digits and muttered to herself. "Earl Gray, hot cocoa, warm bed, Remus Lupin."
After another hour, Tonks had given up on pauses and merely chanted to herself, "EarlGrayhot cocoawarmbedRemusLupin..."
The Harpies intensified their attack and drew closer with their cold fury. They extended their icy talons with the intent to tear through the wizards.
"Turning southwest," yelled Moody. For Harry's benefit, he added, "We want to avoid the motorway!"
Tonks frowned at that, but as soon as the harness lost some stability, she understood what was happening. She threw a glance over her shoulder and saw the men initiate their counterattack.
Kingsley took out the first one with several rapid flares from his wand. The one attacking Moody seemed intent on trying to claw his good eye out, but the Auror hit her right between the eyes with his spell. The vapor made a satisfying hiss.
Lupin was the one who wound up with the dodgy Harpy. The Harpy was smaller and faster than her sisters and rather fond of swooping with abrupt direction changes. She suddenly veered below their flight path to try to get under Harry.
Lupin made a quick decision and called a spell for a warm South wind, "Notos."
The warm air from his spell was sufficient to create a micro cyclone that spun the Harpy in place as the air currents met. Lupin cast his fervo spell and struck through her wailing mouth. The imber seemed to collapse with a whistling scream.
Lupin took note of Kingsley who was already flying back to see about Harry. Moody stopped for a moment beside him and said, "Those Harpies looked like my ex-wives."
"Is that good or bad?" asked Lupin.
He needed no response to the question when he saw Moody reaching for his hip flask to take a quick swig. Lupin knew it was time to get back in formation.
Tonks sighed in relief when she felt the added stability to the harness. "Earl Gray, hot cocoa, warm bath, Remus Lupin..."
- - - - - - - - - -
No. 12 Grimmauld Place
Remus Lupin was standing in the kitchen looking over the schematics of the building once everyone had retired. Tonks was upstairs checking on the condition of the bruise on Sirius, so he was alone for the moment.
His heart swelled with satisfaction at the successful delivery of Harry Potter to Order headquarters. The teamwork in the Advance Guard was encouraging for the war effort. He was confident they could count on each other. Unlike the problems that had plagued the first Order, they would be able to take a stand together.
Even with the tension about what to tell Harry, the advantages of having the Weasleys on their side was obvious. The atmosphere of the family dinner had distracted Harry and it was good to see him with Ron and Hermione. Lupin smiled as he recalled how Tonks had been on a roll tonight with her transformations. It was obvious she had taken the boy to heart.
Lupin shook off his musings and gave his attention to the scroll rolled out before him. He leaned with one arm on the table and traced the corridors of the map. His eyes lingered at a segment marked The Veil, and was so absorbed in the details that he didn't hear her approach.
But he felt it!
He jerked up and turned to protect his backside from further pinching. Tonks' expression was without remorse.
"What was that?" Lupin's voice actually came out a bit squeaky.
Tonks quirked an eyebrow. Had the man never been goosed in his life? She adopted an officious tone to respond. "Random bum check."
"Wand safety patrol of course," said Tonks. "You know how Auror duty is. Catching Dark Wizards and keeping the world safe from tortured tushes."
"A noble duty indeed, but why target me?"
"Well, could it be because I think you're sexy?" began Tonks. The man looked highly skeptical. "And because you let Harry know my name was Nymphadora--"
"Blame it on the courtesy my mother taught me," said Lupin in defense.
"--and I could tell you were enjoying it," she accused.
"What happens if I enter a guilty plea?"
"You'll just have to serve your time as chief bed warmer."
"I thought you had a bear for that service?"
"Oh, but you have something he doesn't, Professor."
"Body heat. Come on, you're leaving on assignment in the morning anyway. Stay with me tonight?"
It was a request only a fool would refuse.
- - - - - - - -
The Tweedy Bear sat on her dresser as a quiet sentinel guarding the box with the Wolfshadow amulets. Nymphadora Tonks was in the comfort of the monster bed at her flat. The witch was snuggling her back into the man as he wrapped his arms around her. They were both in t-shirts and pajama pants, but the soft flannel felt nice as she rubbed the soles of her feet against his long legs.
"Remus, did you notice something about Harry?"
"You saw it, too?"
"His shadow had a snake wrapped around it." Tonks shivered and Remus drew her closer. "Puberty is bad enough without having to carry that burden."
"We have to remember he's not an adult, but we can't treat Harry like a child," said Lupin with a sigh. He changed the subject and asked, "What did you think of him?"
Tonks giggled a bit. "I thought he'd remind me of Sirius more, but in a lot of ways, he reminds me of you."
"Really?" Lupin had never considered similarities between them.
Tonks turned to face him. "Really. He knows what it's like to be an outcast, poor, hungry at times, and he has that famous scar."
Tonks traced the ones on Lupin's face for a moment. "But with all the fame he carries, Harry seems rather humble and accepting of people, even if he is angry right now. So far, he hasn't let the situation corrupt his heart. And I think that's the best similarity of all."
Lupin kissed her gently on the forehead. "Good night, Nymphadora. Ouch!"
Remus captured her hand before she could repeat the maneuver, but Tonks soon relented and settled comfortably against his chest. "The next time you're here, we start our lessons."
The dreams that came were very pleasant that night.
This wraps up this story. I didn't want to revisit the Advance Guard chapter in detail, so I hope I slipped in the right parts to expand on what could have happened. I tried to provide background for Tonks violet shade and why Sirius didn't grab Harry in a bear hug. After the night he arrives, Harry doesn't see Lupin for several days, so it's only reasonable to have him run off with Tonks at this point.
Transfero vulnus and notos are made up. When I read the chapter, I was struck by the discomfort of the cold wind. That's what lead to the idea of the imberphasms in the first place.
The reason I write fanfic is as a stress buster; the reason I post it is because reading fanfic is another stress buster. I abide by one rule: I have to please myself. If I can share the pleasure of an image or idea with someone else, then that's a bonus.
So thank you for taking the time to read and review. The next story will be a fluffy piece on the Talk the boys get about growing up. And there's probably going to be some girlie moments, too.