Tonks caught a glance of her appearance in the reflective surface of the lifts metal doors as they closed and began their decent to the aurors offices. She looked terrible. A week with hardly any sleep had certainly taken its toll. Her eyes were bloodshot and her cheeks were puffy, she concentrated hard and rectified it.
It was becoming difficult for the metamorphmagus to control her appearance so it took a great deal of concentration. Tonks supposed that it was because she had so much on her mind at the moment.
Voldermorts high profile return into the wizarding world last week had brought an insurmountable amount of work to the aurors. Everyday there were more and more deaths and disappearances and more pressure to keep the public calm and safe and hidden from the muggles. As if this were not bad enough she, and her boss Kingsley Shacklebolt were faced with the prospect of loosing their jobs. The minister of magic, Cornelius Fudge had not been best pleased with their betrayal. He was furious that they had gone behind his back to work for Dumbledore in the Order and that they had been concealing the known criminal Sirius Black, Tonks' cousin ,for so long.
This was another reason for Tonks lack of sleep over the past week, Sirius' death. She missed him terribly and a large part of her couldn't help but blame herself for what had happened. Every night she lay awake in bed torturing herself, thinking that she should have stopped him coming or that she should have taken Bellatrix out and not allowed herself to be hit by her evil aunt. 'If I hadn't have fallen he wouldn't have had to fight her' Tonks had thought bitterly, crying into her pillow 'I should have got her first!'
Now not only did she have to come to terms with his passing but as the only living relative that he actually liked it was down to her to sort out his estate. Narcissia was making things as difficult as possible for her, insisting that as a closer blood relative she had more of a claim to everything. To be honest Tonks didn't really care to much about the inheritance, the only reason that she was fighting so intensely for everything was Harry. Sirius had loved Harry as a son and Tonks was certain that he would want Harry to be provided for.
Poor Harry, the final cause of Tonks' sleepless nights. She and the others had picked him up from the station yesterday to be returned to his un-sympathetic relatives. It had broken her heart to see him looking so despondent but there was little that she could do about it.
As soon as Lupin had told her of Sirius' death as she was recovering in the hospital, she had written to Dumbledore to ask if Harry could stay in her care at Grimauld place. She hated the idea that he be stuck at the Dursleys and knew that he would want to be kept up to date with Voldermorts movements. Grimauld place would be the perfect place for that. It would also mean that he would be able to have his friends to stay.
But to Tonk's disappointment Dumbledore had said 'no'. Tonks knew that he must have had a very good reason for this but she couldn't help but feel bad for the boy.
After a long journey down beneath the London streets the lift reached Tonks' floor and the doors shifted open to reveal pandemonium. The aurors offices were filled with people shouting hurriedly across to each other over the desks and cubicles. Above their heads internal memos in the shapes of paper planes darted around.
Tonks pushed her way through the crowds of panicked aurors to her desk. It had been
like this all week in the offices, there didn't seem to be any sort of order, no one knew what they were doing and were quickly succumbing to the panic and terror that was gripping the wizarding community. It frightened Tonks slightly that the people in charge, the ones who were supposed to be sorting everyone out and calming the public down were so incompetent. Whenever she felt like this she shook herself mentally, she had to stay in control. 'At least we still have Dumbledore,' she reassured herself, 'He knows what he's doing'
Before Tonks could reach her work station a voice called her name over the loud buzz of the busy office. She craned her neck to see a tall black man beckoning her to a room at the back.
" Wotcher Kingsley," She yawned as she reached him. "what's up?"
Kingsley sighed deeply and sank back into his chair. Whatever this was it wasn't good news. " We have a meeting with Fudge at lunch time Tonks" He grunted indicating a memo in Fudges handwriting on his desk "It's crunch time. He's finally decided whether to keep us on or not"
Tonks mouth went dry and she found that she couldn't speak so she merely nodded to show that she'd heard him. Tonks loved being an Auror, it was all she'd ever wanted to do. She was so proud to be able to protect innocent people and now she faced loosing her job for doing just that. The order were fighting because the ministry wasn't and they were protecting Sirius because he was innocent to. It just wasn't fair.
Tonks found that she couldn't meet Kingsleys gaze for some reason and found herself scanning the room for a distraction. If anything this made things worse. All around her photos of her cousin glared, and smiled and laughed at her. Angry tears welled up and stung her eyes as Kingsley rose and laid a sympathetic hand on her shoulder.
"Whatever happens Tonks," He smiled softly, "You have to remember that you did the right thing"
"I know," she whispered, turning to face him. "It's just that…."
Her sentence was cut short by a deafening bang which rocked the building and threw them both to the floor . Above their heads the ceiling shook dust and debris from new cracks which split across the room. Coughing through the dust the two of them dashed out into the main office amid the scrams of it's terrified inhabitants.
Taking control Kingsley shouted authoritively across the room. "QUIET!" making the entire room pause. As the highest ranking officer in the room at that moment the crowd of aurors knew that they had better do as he says. "Everyone stay calm," Kingsley ordered standing up on the nearest desk so that he could address the entire crowd. Kinglesley scanned the crowed in search of the office ghost, Morgen. The pale translucent figure was hovering near the window. He was a small weasely man who had at one time been the head of department but after his demise had been forced to be the offices errand boy. He found this demotion totally degrading so most aurors were more likely to be met with a biting remark from the bitter little specter than any offer of help.
"Morgen," Kingsley called across "Go and find out what that was"
"It was an explosion" The ghost sneered with a withering expression. "couldn't you tell by the loud bang and building shaking shudder?"
Kingsely gritted his teeth and bit back his anger. He needed Morgens cooperation and so couldn't afford to anger him "Well then find out what caused it" He replied coolly.
"Fine" Morgen sighed and rose up through the cracked ceiling of the aurors offices. He left an uncomfortable silence in his wake. All around her Tonks saw the pale faces of her colleagues each imagining the horrors that were going on in the floors above.
The tense silence was broken by two men rushing out of the room at the end. Arthur Weasley and his colleague in the misuse of muggle artifacts office, Mr Perkins rushed towards Tonks looking puzzled.
"What's going on?" Arthur whispered urgently as he reached her.
"No idea yet," She replied "we've just sent Morgen up to find out."
"You don't think it could be you-know-who?" the timid looking Perkins whispered fearfully.
Tonks and Arthur exchanged a knowing glance. Tonks could tell that like her Arthur was certain that Voldermort was the cause of the disturbance.
The entire office waited for Morgens return with baited breath. After what seemed like an age the ghost descended back down into the expectant crowd.
"Well?" Kingsley barked.
Morgen seemed to be enjoying the attention and paused dramatically before revealing what was going on. " The death eaters have taken the ground floor and rumor has it that they're moving on to Fudges office." He informed them and seemed very pleased with the reaction that his damning news received.
The entire room gasped as one and began to mutter urgently to each other. Behind her Tonks heard an anguished cry and turned to see a horror struck Mr. Weasley sinking to the floor in despair.
"Percy!" He moaned. "My boy, he's up there! I never said that I was sorry… Oh my boy! He died hating me.. how will I tell Molly? It'll break her heart"
Tonks crouched next to him and took his hand soothingly "We don't know that he's been hurt Arthur" She said reassuringly "There might still be time to save him."
Arthur came to his senses a little "You're right" he nodded and rose shakily to his feet. "There might be time." Arthur made to move past her but Tonks barred his path.
Arthur looked her in the eyes. "Tonks move," He pleaded desperately "I have to go up there. I have to!"
But Tonks shook her head. Arthur's desperation reminded her forcefully of Sirius back in Grimauld place. He'd pleaded with her to as she'd barred his path to prevent him from saving Harry. She had relented then and allowed Sirius to go to his death. Tonks wasn't going to let it happen again.
Aside from anything else Tonks doubted that Percy could still be alive. There was no way that she'd allow Arthur to face such danger only to be met with his dead son at the end of it.. Arthur had too much to live for.
"I'll go!" She insisted. Predictably Mr Weasley shook his head and opened his mouth to protest. Tonks didn't let him get a word in. "No Arthur. You have six other children and a wife that need you. I promise you I'll get Percy but I can't let you do this."
Arthur shook his head solemnly, he knew that she was right and that it would be futile to argue.
With this resolved Kinsley turned to address the crowd. "Right he called. It's our job to get everyone out of here safe. We're going to send up two teams first. One to clear the lobby, the other on a rescue mission to Fudges offices. Everyone else will be split into groups to get clear the building. Understood?"
The crowd nodded so he continued "Smith, Holland, Valentine and Troy will go with Tonks to Fudges offices. Frost, Wilkes, Briggs and Norton with me in the lobby. Davis you divide everyone else up when we give off the all clear."
Kingsley hopped down from the desk and gave Tonks a reassuring nod as he led the way to the lifts. Tonks took a calming breath and prepared to follow when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned to find a tearful Arthur Weasley struggling to say something. She patted his hand warmly as he broke down and pulled her into a hug " Please be careful" He urged her as they broke apart.
Tonks merely nodded and left to join her party. 'You'd better be okay Percy Weasley' She thought sadly 'I'm can't let him down to.'