Disclaimer: If I were Ms. Rowling, this only-four-months-between-updates would make front page headlines. Also, I'd be living in a much better neighborhood. Since neither of those two things is true, I must not be Ms. Rowling. Therefore, anything you recognize does not belong to me and is used only for love of the characters. (I promise to put them back when I'm done!)

A/N: I am the most miserable excuse for a WIP writer ever. Many apologies for the ridiculous amount of time between updates; I'd promise to do better in future, but we know how well that's worked in the past. A thousand thank yous to everyone who has reviewed and emailed and pestered me for a new chapter!

Virtual chocolate frogs to Jadeddiva for the beta (and the best line in this entire chapter!) -- may the plot bunnies continue to multiply!

The Case Book of Auror (Third Class) Nymphadora Tonks

04 July 1994
Woke up this morning feeling like absolute shite. Have taken day off work (thank the gods can do that during the probationary period) and spent the morning hacking up disgusting things and vainly trying to nap. My head is all plugged up and it feels like I've got a hangover but sadly, no drinking last night. Why is it that everyone complains about falling ill in winter, when it's these summer illnesses that are the worst?

And, no, I'm not in some sort of alcoholic denial. Really, no drinking. Spent a lovely quiet evening with a box of photographs from school, trying to find one where I didn't look like a puffskein had nested on my head. Much harder to do than it would seem. Why didn't anyone tell me I looked so awful?

Actually, don't think anyone would have noticed. Everyone looked thoroughly ridiculous – Bertram and Hex in particular. Underage wizards who have just sprouted their first whiskers should definitely be dissuaded from attempting cool beatnik-like goatees. In most of the pictures from sixth year, it looks like they've forgotten how to wash properly and have the most horrendous chocolate milk moustaches. Well, okay, Hex looked like a caterpillar starved to death on his upper lip.

I do wonder at Gwyn's sanity at times. How she found Bertram to be so irresistible at that point is a mystery for the ages.

Did manage to collect a few photos to take into work. Also found one of the Gryffindor section during a Quidditch match in which Bill Weasley features most prominently. Did I have a crush on him? He was one of the most popular guys in our year and in a different house so it stands to reason that I would (mysterious Big Man on Campus type and all that), but I don't recall.

Maybe it was Jaya had the crush on him?

Either way, it's a very good picture of him. He's jumping up and down and waving a 'Charlie rockets!' banner, with his hair whipping round his head and the most adorable gold-coloured jumper with a large 'B' on the front... Perhaps Mr Weasley would like to have it?

It really is a very good likeness. I wonder what he's up to these days...

12:28 Yes, it probably was me who had the crush on Bill. I've just spent twenty minutes daydreaming about that jumper and what lies beneath. Will blame the Cough-No-More potion I've been guzzling all morning. Clearly not in my right mind.

13:07 Charlie Weasley wasn't too bad-looking either, if you like that red-haired sensitive animal-lover (not like that!) type.

13:09 Aaaand I just went to the bad place. Let's just say, I'm fairly sure the Brothers Weasley would never engage in such scandalous behaviour.

13:10 More's the pity.

14:55 I wish I had a telly in here. When I was little and too ill to go to school, Mum or Dad would Apparate me over to Grammy Tonks's house and she and I would spend the day watching soppy old movies together. At least it would bring a little colour and noise into this place. I don't much like the quiet.

There's absolutely nothing on the wireless either. Maybe I'll just take another dose of Cough-No-More and lay down.

16:30 Well, that was certainly strange. Mad-Eye Moody just popped round with a phial of Pepper Up. Said he'd turned up at Headquarters and they told him I was home sick, so he stopped in at the St Mungo's chemist.

And when I bolted down the entire phial in one gulp, his creepy eye (the non-magical one, ha ha) nearly bugged out of his head. He went on for a good five minutes about never accepting any sort of food or potion without testing it first. I swear to Godric, that man has a grisly story of death and destruction for any occasion.

He's also been doing some digging about the witch from Magical Games, Bertha Jorkins. Seems her family isn't worried at all, on account of she does this kind of thing so often. Her auntie told Moody they'd ask for help if she didn't turn up by the end of August. There's some sort of family celebration that she wouldn't dare miss. Moody wants me to keep my eyes and ears open, though. He smells a conspiracy.

Of course, he'd smell a conspiracy in a tasteful arrangement of shrubbery.

Before he left, he berated me for not having adequate security on the flat. Wrote out a list of Necessary Dark Detectors I should rush out to buy as soon as I'm feeling up to it and strengthened some of the wards on my front door and windows. Good luck getting any unexpected owls now! Had to practically wrestle the wand out of his hand when he tried to make the whole building Undetectable. Muggles may be oblivious to most of what we do, but I think they'd notice if the building next door suddenly vanished.

Plus, my landlady would murder him. She has enough trouble remembering where she lives as it is.

17:22 Well, bugger. Had Moody here and completely forgot to ask him about Slim. Some Auror I am -- can't even uncover the identity of one random wizard.

05 July 1994
Still feel like rubbish, but don't want to take another day off while I'm still in the probationary period. Bad enough I took one yesterday, but at least no one suspects me of skiving off. Even after that Pepper Up last night, I've still got a nasty cough. Even Scrimgeour told me to take it easy today.

...now I know Mum owled him about my suspension.

14:17 Oh, how sweet! I dropped into the Misuse office to give Mr Weasley the picture I found of Bill. He was so excited to see it. Seems Bill is highly embarrassed by the way he looked at school and Banished most of his photos. And now with him working down in Cairo, they don't get to see him much. Mr Weasley tacked it up over his desk and looked a little teary-eyed. Said they went to visit him last summer and there just wasn't enough time.

I stayed talking to Mr Weasley long enough that we ended up going to lunch together. He was telling me all about Bill and Charlie's jobs (Charlie ended up in Romania, working on a dragon preserve - colour me not surprised at all.). Sounds like it's been pretty rough on them – they have four kids still at Hogwarts and the third-oldest is starting his first job this summer, so his wife will be all alone at home. Mr Weasley's been trying to get her to join a club or take up a new hobby (anything to get out of the house) but she's in a bit of a funk. She's spent the last twenty-odd years taking care of the house and the babies and she's at loose ends now.

I was reading about a new book club for Lockhart fans in the Daily Prophet last week, so I mentioned that to him. Hope she finds something to do.

15:42 Am just waiting for Babbling Bagman to join us so we can start our progress meeting. Most of the primary protections are in place at the QWC site and we're now just hammering out some of the security details for the locker rooms. This is the third time we've had to have this particular meeting. The last two times Bagman talked straight through our scheduled hour. Wish we could mysteriously manage to not inform him of the correct time.

Maybe I'll owl Hex and Sophie tonight to see if they have any pictures of the Weasleys from school.

08 July 1994
I'm actually being allowed on-site tomorrow! The Gringott's team is just doing a few last checks on the wards before the semi-finals matches and a bunch of us Aurors get to be the guinea pigs. All the anti-Muggle and -cheating charms are up, along with the anti-apparition zones and Portkey barriers. There isn't much more that can be done until we know which teams will be playing. The next phase is to do up the locker rooms and the sidelines but all of those particular charms have to be tailored to the individual players and mascots. Wouldn't do to put an anti-vampire ward on the edge of the field if Romania isn't in the game, right?

Had lunch with Rupert again today. I just don't know what's happening there. We have a great time whenever we go out, but it never really feels like a date.

09 July 1994
The stadium is amazing! Even with magic, it doesn't seem possible that this was all thrown together in the last few weeks. There must have been hundreds of contractors working around the clock.

The Gringott's team really put us through our paces this morning. The curse-breaker I was paired up with must have made me trip the interference barrier on the goals at least thirty times. That thing's got a nasty kick.

We're going to tour one of the campsites in a bit. They're expecting far too many people to be able to put up any kind of effective barriers, so they've had to make do with a general anti-Apparition field all over the area. It's spotty at best, apparently. The whole thing has to cover three separate campsites (two on the south side of the stadium and one to the east) and there just aren't enough magical tethers available. (It's a relatively remote area without a lot of Muggle or magical activity close by, and what magical energy there is has been diverted to the stadium itself.)

I wouldn't worry too much about it, though. The biggest problem is going to be crowd control, by far. After the riots the last few years overseas, everyone is a big jumpy about avoiding the same here. Quidditch hooligans and alcohol don't mix well.

Present company excluded, of course.

16:22 Oi. Glad I'm not going to be on duty during the Cup (probably the only time I'll be happy not to have an assignment). I honestly don't see how these campsites are going to work. First of all, they're huge. They're going to have to have people patrolling singly to cover all of it; there just aren't enough trained Ministry employees to work in pairs. And the general anti-Apparition barrier is spread so thin that it keeps failing.

Secondly, the three campsites cut a wide swath across the moor and most of it is out in the open. There's a largish wood that runs through the middle of one and around two sides of the neighbouring site. It would provide good cover in case of a large-scale attack, but it's going to be a nightmare to patrol. It's also the only logical place for arrivals, which adds an extra level of annoyance to keeping up the anti-Apparition field.

Finally, the anti-Muggle charms alone are going to drain most of the natural magical energy out of the area. The campsite we toured is not far from a fairly busy motorway and butts up against the back side of a small shopping centre. There's an overgrown hedgerow on that end, but once the moor is full of wizards pretending to be Muggles, it's only a matter of time before our cover is blown.

I do feel a little guilty about not volunteering for at least one night, but I can't leave Indra to his own devices. Kid would probably stow away with one of the teams.

12 July 1994
Mr Weasley caught me on my way in this morning to thank me for all the pictures. (Hex and Sophie contacted a bunch of people we knew at school and made copies of about two hundred (!) photos to give to the Weasleys. Those boys were really popular. Someone – who shall remain nameless – apparently had part of the Quidditch uniform Charlie wore in his last year. Er, we didn't give that one to the family.) As thanks, Mrs Weasley sent along a plate of the most delicious biscuits I've ever tasted. What a sweet woman! Completely at odds with my last glimpse of her, bellowing for Mr Weasley the night Sirius escaped again.

11:17 I've had to transfigure the biscuits into a manky-looking jumper in order to thwart all my vicious biscuit-stealing co-workers. I hope it doesn't alter the taste any.

13:21 Note to self: remember to transfigure jumper back into biscuits before eating. Wool fibres are nowhere near as tasty. Also, absentmindedly shoving a biscuit into mouth in front of boss is not nearly as embarrassing as doing the same with a sleeve.

15 July 1994
Going into Muggle London with Rupert tonight. There's some new restaurant he wants to try and he said we'll be meeting some of his friends there.

I wish I knew what the deal was with him. This is going to be our fifth semi-date and he's yet to make a move. We have such a great time when we're out together and I keep thinking, "Oh, this is it!" but nothing... Normally, I'd have made a move of my own, but whenever I get the guts up to do it, he starts giving off all these Not Interested signs. Well, that and I feel about seven different kinds of wrong while doing it.

Last night, for example – he called by Floo around eight and we did the usual "how's things" chitchat for a while, he mentioned going out tonight, I flirted until it felt like my cheeks were going to fall off, he seemed to be flirting back but when I asked if he wanted to meet for a drink before dinner (just the two of us), he got all fidgety and had to go.

Jaya thinks maybe he's shy or nervous about starting something with a co-worker. Hex declares that he's "queer as a one-headed Hydra" and volunteers to put him to the test.

I dunno.

16 July 1994
Oh sweet fanciful Merlin, I think Hex may be right. Let's just say, Rupert's the only wizard I've ever met (besides Hexy, of course) who patted another wizard on the arse outside of a sport-related situation.

Who am I kidding? Patted, ha! That was a definite caress if ever I saw one.

On the plus side, at least I have someone to go out with who won't end up with his tongue down my throat and his hand up my shirt at the end of the night.

01:38 Would actually be rather nice to go out with a wizard who does end up with his tongue down my throat and his hand up my shirt at the end of the night.

01:41 Oh, hell. All that at any time of day would be lovely.

01:47 I mean, it's not as though I want to get married next week or that I spent the last few weeks doodling 'Rupert loves Tonks' in the margins of this journal (okay, so I did do that last thing), but is it so much to ask that I find a bloke who's not married/in a relationship/gay/in Azkaban/on his way to Azkaban and is willing to treat me as an object of lust for at least an evening? I mean, really?

02:09 Okay, so I'd prefer a bloke who would be willing to treat me as an object of lust for longer than an evening, but I'm willing to start small and work my way up.

02:17 Maybe he isn't really gay. It could have just been a supremely-confident-in-their-heterosexuality display of manly affection between two totally not gay friends!

02:22 Sigh. Why don't I have any alcohol or chocolate in this stupid flat?

17 July 1994
Whoever said that things always look better in the light of day should be brought back to life just so I can beat him or her with a boot. The light of day makes things look even more depressing. Especially when said light is streaming through one's curtains and falls on a birthday card from gorgeous and apparently GAY former potential boyfriend that has somehow mysteriously been set up on one's bedside table in a not-at-all shrine-like atmosphere.

18 July 1994
Really? Gay? Bugger.


19 July 1994
Have eaten every bit of food in entire flat, so must pop into Demeter's to pick up groceries after work tonight.

Am finally going to try out Mrs Choudhuri's sabzi kurma recipe. Must remember to buy double the necessary ingredients as I'm sure I'll bollocks it up at least once.

Also, should grab one or two of those ready-made sandwiches in case things don't turn out like they should.

Rupert's been attached to a murder case in York the past few days and I haven't heard from him at all. I should send him an owl tonight – let him know that the other night didn't freak me out (would rather pretend that hopes for potential hot boyfriend were not shattered if at all possible). Not that I'm certain that's why I haven't heard from him, but Hexy did a similar disappearing act after I caught him snogging the Hufflepuff Quidditch captain in our fifth year and this situation has the same feel to it.

16:44 Rupert has to be gay. Wizards that nice and good-looking are too good to be true.

18:14 Gods! The most random thing just happened...

So there I was, in the middle of the produce aisle at Demeter's, when I heard someone clear his throat behind me. Jumped about a foot in the air (so much for advanced training in being aware of one's surroundings) and toppled a gigantic pyramid of cabbages before turning to see who it was.

Of course, who else could it possibly be but Slim?

He did a bit of wandless magic and rearranged the cabbages for me, which was very sweet of him to do since I doubt I could have found my own face with both hands at that point.

He looked really good – loads better than he did the first two times I saw him. Still slightly too thin, which was surprising considering how much food he had piled up in his basket, but with a slight tan and a set of robes with no patches.

I managed a bit of small talk (yay for me!) and noticed that he was carrying the latest issue of The Quibbler. He caught me looking at it and blushed a bit. Said he was sending it to a friend who would get a laugh out of one of the articles.

Wanted so badly to ask for his name, but couldn't. Am sure he told it to me that day at the Ministry when my brain fell out of my head but didn't want to look a total prat who can't hold a single thought in her head.

It was really an awkward conversation. I know absolutely nothing about him, so couldn't go beyond the usual "lovely weather, eh?" nonsense. He, on the other hand, asked how I liked my job, if Kingsley was a bear to work with, how were my parents, and so on. Made me laugh out loud when he asked if I had demonstrated any more advanced Defence techniques to total strangers.

May have even snorted at that. Sigh.

After about fifteen minutes of talking (and moving out of the way of surly shoppers – he kept his hand on my shoulder for nearly a minute after steering me away from a wobbly pile of early pumpkins!), he suddenly said he was running late for an appointment and left.

I wandered around the shop for another ten minutes or so, berating myself for not asking his name.

Oh well, if he's turned up unexpectedly twice already, surely it will happen again, right?


20:50 Good thing I picked up those sandwiches. First and second attempts at Indian cuisine were unequivocal failures.

22:41 Wait a minute! How did Slim know it was me at Demeter's? That day I saw him at Rosmerta's and the office, I was wearing my face and bright blond braids. Today's look was a completely different face and spiky magenta hair! And he could have only seen me from the back since I didn't see him at all (and believe me, there's no way I would have missed seeing him).

23:04 Oh gods, is my arse so big that someone would recognize me from behind?

23:22 I think he called me Dora, too! I didn't realise it until just now.

Er, not that I was just sitting here re-running the whole conversation in my head.

And if I was sighing aloud, it was over my inability to act calm and collected when startled. Not because of the memory of any lingering touches or crooked grins. Not at all.

Anyway, Dora? No one's really called me that since I started Hogwarts. Well, my dad still does sometimes and most of our Muggle relatives do. And Mum doesn't use my name unless she's yelling at me and then it's the full "Nymphadora Tonks". Everyone else just calls me Tonks. I've trained them well.

So, who is this guy?