A/N: My guessing of who R.A.B is...I'm probably wrong but, in the slight chance I'm right and you don't want to know, then please don't read. I guess we'll find out in a couple of years.
MAJOR SPOILERS! If you haven't finished HBP then what the hell are you reading this for? It's the most amazing thing ever. My stories are tripe in comparison!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling.
Summary: R.A.B. The initials triggered a memory in her mind. And now with the mention of Horcruxes, can Nymphadora Tonks put together the pieces. An unknown character of the future, or a prescence from her past?
It was a week after Bill and Fleur Weasley's wedding, and members of the Order of the Phoenix gathered around the old wooden table in Number 12 Grimmauld Place. To his utmost surprise Harry Potter, the Chosen One, the Boy Who Lived, had taken a place in the assembly, at Professor McGonagall's request.
Harry shuffled with his hands as various people reported to McGonagall, who had been unanimously voted as Head of Order. The boy was grateful for a chance to sit with the Order (he had earned it after all), but felt as if he were almost intruding on the meeting.
"I think that will do for this evening," McGonagall concluded. "We will discuss the fate of Hogwarts at the next meeting, once the Governors have come to a conclusion. The witch paused. "Do you have anything to say, Mr Potter?"
Harry, who had been silent throughout, looked up startled.
"What?" he blurted out bluntly, causing a chuckled from some of the members, and a slight smile from his Transfiguration teacher.
"Do you which to put anything forward in this meeting?" McGonagall asked again. Harry swallowed. He had been very temped to mention the Horcruxes, though it would be betraying Dumbledore to speak of it. But this was Dumbledore's Order, would he not want them to know? Harry frowned slightly, feeling the many eyes fall on him expectantly; Molly and Arthur Weasley, Charlie, Remus Lupin with Tonks by his side, Moody, Kingsley and especially the Head Mistress herself.
No, he told himself, do not mention the Horcruxes, however much you may need their help.
"Uh…no, actually," Harry mumbled. Suddenly, an idea came to him. "Wait…um, can I ask you all a question?"
"Go ahead, Lad," Moody encouraged. Harry's face felt warm. He wished they would stop staring at him.
"Well, I was wondering…do any of you know what R.A.B stands for?" he directed his question to the table and then looked up for a response.
Murmurs filled the room as the Order members turned to each other questioningly.
"Why do you want to know?" Moody asked suspiciously, narrowing his human eye. Harry flinched.
"I can't tell you."
"Then we can't tell you if we know," Kingsley Shacklebolt retorted. Harry looked crestfallen and the man gave a deep rumble of a chuckle.
"I've never heard of R.A.B, Potter. Sorry."
"Nor I," admitted McGonagall. Various forms of unhelpful answers filled the room. Lupin bit his lip thoughtfully.
"In what context is R.A.B?" he asked and Harry frowned. "I mean is it an item, a person, a title?"
Harry bit his lip too. He was tempted to admit that he guessed R.A.B to be a person, having seen it scribed on the bottom of a letter. But this would raise too many unsafe questions.
"I don't know," Harry lied. Lupin sat back in his chair.
"I'm sorry Harry, I can't help you." He sounded sincere and Harry offered a feeble smile. The boy then turned to the witch sat next to his former professor.
"How 'bout you Tonks?"
The pink-haired witch looked to the boy's emerald eyes. Tonks' brow creased slightly, and then she shook her head slightly in dismissal. Harry's eyes narrowed questioningly, and the Auror winced slightly.
"Uh…Rabbits and Bunnies?" she suggested, causing a ripple of laughter. Harry grinned too, and decided to let it drop. The Order couldn't help him out there, so it was doubtful they could help him with his Horcrux problem. Harry was relieved he hadn't brought that topic up.
"Well, I believe that's it then," McGonagall announced, rising from her seat and causing others to do the same. "Good evening, everyone."
Harry raced up the stairs in Grimmauld Place to find Hermione and Ron in his room waiting for him. Ron was still fuming that he was not allowed to attend the meeting with his friend.
"It's unfair," he had grumbled to Hermione as Harry had made his way down the stairs. "Just 'cause he's the Chosen One! I'm the Chosen One's best friend, does that not count for anything!"
"Who am I, his sock-washer?" Hermione had asked sardonically, causing Ron to mumble to himself until Harry's return.
Harry opened the door and joined his friends on his bed.
"Well?" Ron almost snapped. Harry raised his eyebrows.
"Ron…you know he can't tell us what happened, otherwise we would have been asked to join them too," Hermione insisted before Harry could blurt out any of the meeting's secrets.
"I asked the Order about R.A.B," Harry told his friends after he had caught his breath. Hermione's eyes widened.
"I hope you didn't mention–"
"No, of course not!"
"What did they say?" Ron asked eagerly. Harry shrugged in defeat.
"None of them knew what it stood for." The boy smirked slightly, remembering Tonks' comment.
At that moment, the trio heard Mrs Weasley climbing the stairs, calling the three teenagers.
"No doubt she wants to question you about R.A.B," Ron thought. Harry nodded.
"Yeah, let's get out of here."
The three friends left the room in a hurry, in order to find a more secluded place to hide. Ron suggested Buckbeak's old room, but Hermione pointed out that it still smelt of the Hippogriff, even a year after he had returned to Hogwarts.
Harry noticed a door open at the end of the corridor and headed to it, as Mrs Weasley's calls echoed up the stairs.
"In here," he suggested and the three of them hurried through the door and closed it quickly behind them.
They were confronted with a dusty wooden staircase.
"I've not been up here before," Hermione said quietly, in apprehension.
"It leads to the attic," Harry guessed. He lit his wand and headed up the steps. Ron and Hermione followed him, cringing as the floorboards creaked under their weight.
The attic was dark and fusty. It was packed with decrepit furniture and boxes, which were sealed with Spellotape and rope. The evening sun shone through two grimy windows, and unsettled dust seemed to fall in two rays across the floor.
The trio sat down, Hermione dusting a spot for herself first, causing Ron to roll his eyes.
"So…you mentioned R.A.B to the Order," Ron prompted and Harry nodded.
"Yes. I didn't tell them I thought it was a person…that would cause to many questions. I thought I'd give it a shot though." Harry shrugged once more.
"But you didn't mention the Horcruxes?" Hermione asked timidly. A creak came from the far end of the attic, and all three heads turned to look into the darkness. Silence fell again and Harry shook his head.
"No…Dumbledore asked me not to tell anyone but you guys. I figured if he wanted the Order to know, he would have told them himself. No one mentioned them tonight, so I guess they're oblivious."
The three teenagers mused on this for sometime. Hermione hesitated before speaking again.
"Perhaps…perhaps you should tell them, Harry."
Ron and Harry turned to her.
"I mean…they are the Order. Surely you need as much help as you can get in destroying his soul. They're very experienced wizards Harry. You could use their help."
Harry did consider it, and then shook his head firmly. A thought had been niggling at him since Dumbledore died, even before. It wasn't just that Dumbledore did not want them knowing…Harry simply didn't want to risk losing any more of the Order, especially with the war approaching. It was bad enough that Ron and Hermione were willing to risk their lives. The very thought sickened him.
"No," he said finally. "No, I can't Hermione…at least, not right now."
Suddenly, a squeak echoed around the wooden rafters.
"Achoo," came the feminine squeal.
"Bless you," Ron said to Hermione, though her and Harry were staring into the darkness of the far corners.
"Ron, it wasn't me," the girl hissed. Harry rose from the floor, and indicated with an open palm that Ron and Hermione should stay put. He raised his wand and approached the darkness slowly.
"Who's there?" he asked hoarsely, his throat lined with dust. "Hello?"
"Would you say 'Hello' to a Death Eater, you daft plonker?" came a familiar voice. A light glowed from the corner, and Nymphadora Tonks stepped out from behind and old, fraying screen which was leaning against a wooden dresser.
"What are you doing up here?" Harry tried to demand but choked, as the dust really was thick. Tonks had stirred it as she straightened herself up a brushed off her robes.
"I could asked the same about you three," the Auror commented. Harry noticed a pile of yellowing books, and dog-eared parchment in her hands. Tonks placed them behind her back quickly.
"What's that in your hand?" Harry asked her.
"What are you talking about Horcruxes for?" Tonks responded with her own question, hoping to distract the boy. It worked.
"I…what do you know about Horcruxes?" Harry said snidely, thought he was incredibly curious. Perhaps he could obtain some useful information. Tonks simply shrugged.
"Enough," she said dryly and crossed to the stairs. She smiled to Ron and Hermione, but did not speak to them as they blinked back in confusion.
"Where are you going with those? They're mine!" Harry insisted. Everything in the old manor house was now his property, though Harry hoped that they weren't Tonks' belongings to begin with. Was she hiding them? Obviously she couldn't leave them now Harry had rumbled her. He wondered what they were.
"They are not yours, Harry," Tonks muttered quietly. "Oh, and can I make a suggestion. Don't go mentioning Horcruxes to the Order. It's best not to let anyone know that you know what they are…I won't tell anyone, but don't speak of them in this house, ok?"
The trio nodded, feeling rather confused. Tonks must have read something in Harry's green eyes for she whispered.
"Now is not the time, Harry."
The boy frowned at her.
"Then when?" he asked.
Tonks regarded the boy for a long moment, taking a deep breath.
"I am going on a mission tonight. You are not to leave this house (for Horcruxes or otherwise) until I return, Harry. Do you understand?"
Harry didn't care for Tonks' commanding tone, in fact she was creeping him out a little.
"Well actually, I'm going to Godric's Hollow in two days. Ron and Hermione are going too," Harry told her defiantly. He'd like to see her try and stop him.
"Lupin's going with you?"
"Then that will be fine. Goodbye Harry…Ron, Hermione." She gave them each a curt nod and descended the creaking stairs.
Silence fell in the attic once more.
"Mental," Ron commented as Harry joined his friends on the floor. "I knew she was losing it, didn't I say it? I thought she's be back to normal now Lupin's at least acknowledged her existence…guess I was wrong."
Harry had to agree. Tonks had been on her way to becoming Tonks once more, despite the tragic death of Dumbledore. She was livelier and brighter…just how Tonks used to be. But now, all of a sudden, she had become secluded and sullen again. Harry decided to ask Lupin about Tonks' behaviour, on their trip to Godric's Hollow. Then he would just have to wait for her to return…and, he decided, question her on her secret knowledge of Horcruxes.