So we're terrible, terrible people and haven't updated in forever. What can I say? You know the drill. Life can get quite crazy some times, and we'd greatly appreciate it if you could forgive us.
Disclaimer: You know the drill.Ch. 30 – Evening, (insert bad word here)
After a long time of comforting Tonks, Remus led her down to the kitchen where they joined the rest of their group who were still sitting around the table, discussing the newest adventure thrown in their paths. Remus made Tonks a late lunch and joined the conversation. Harry returned shortly after, having had no luck of finding Ginny. She still did not wish to be found.
With Harry's reappearance, the group started to work out the final details of horcrux hunting, helping Harry and his fellow searchers to work out the best plan of action. They discussed the finer points of when they would leave, the particular searching strategy they would adhere to, when they would return to the Fallacy, and how they would keep in touch while away. The entire ordeal seemed rather complicated and intimidating, but then again, it would be the next-to-last step in eliminating the most dangerous dark wizard of their time. They would do whatever they had to.
Throughout the entire discussion, Tonks fought to keep hold of her emotions. She did not want Remus leaving her so soon after she had finally gotten him back. At the same time, she knew that he needed to go. His help could be the turning point in tipping the battle towards their side.
Once Tonks had finished eating, the group moved to the living room for a more comforting environment. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Remus, and Arthur discussed where the best places would be to start looking for horcruxes. The trustworthy Aurors, under Kingsley's instruction, had been searching for some weeks to find any available details as to the whereabouts of possible horcruxes. The departing group poured over these notes, with Arthur to add his input. Tonks tried to make helpful assertions, but her head was not in the game. She felt like she was in a daze, quite possibly shock, over the sudden events swirling around her.
Feeling useless, Tonks looked around the room, discovering what everyone else was up to while the important adults discussed serious matters. Molly had disappeared, probably to find her missing daughter. Dylan, Fred, and George, were sitting on the floor, pressing playing cards to their foreheads. Tonks stared at them strangely before she realized that it was some weird American card game called 'Indian Poker' that Dylan had taught them. The player betted on whether or not they thought they had the highest card stuck to their own face. Of course, Dylan was winning. Apparently, the twins had yet to realize that she was reaching into their thoughts to figure out what card she had.
Bored with watching them, Tonks curled up next to Remus on their couch and rested her head on his shoulder. She stared off into space as she tried to figure out how she would manage without him. He had done so much for her lately and she was so glad to have gotten him back. Just as Tonks came to the slightly depressing conclusion that she was way too dependent on Remus these days, she was startled out of her reverie by Dylan suddenly jumping up from her card game and moving to the window.
The group stopped their conversation.
"What is it?" Remus asked Dylan with a hint of concern in his voice.
Dylan whispered to herself, "Minerva…"
"Minerva?" Hermione asked. "Did you say Minerva? As in Minerva McGonagall?"
"Yes," Dylan answered distractedly, still staring out the window in curiosity.
"You know Professor McGonagall?" Harry asked.
"You call her Minerva?" Ron added.
"Yes," Dylan turned to face them. "Why would I call her 'Professor'? She was never my professor, now was she?"
"What about Minerva, dear?" Molly asked Dylan.
Ron spun around in his chair, looking around frantically.
Hermione rolled her eyes and told him, "I don't think she meant in the room, Ronald."
"You never know!" Ron defended.
"How could she be here in the room without us realizing it?"
"Magic, Hermione, magic."
Hermione opened her mouth to retaliate, but Harry cut her off before she could make a sound.
"I'm going to save us an hour of our lives," he said. "This is a stupid fight and you both think you're right, so please save it for later and you can argue about it once we figure out why McGonagall's here. Fair enough?"
Ron and Hermione glared at Harry.
Fighting a grin, Remus said, "Dylan, you were saying?"
"She's at the gate, see?" Dylan pointed out of the window.
Everyone jumped up from his or her seat to stare out of the living room window.
"I don't see her!" Ron complained loudly. "Where is she? She's not—"
Dylan's hand clapped over Ron's mouth and he continued mumbling into the palm of her hand for a minute before he realized what had happened.
"Do you mind?" Dylan asked him with an annoyed glare. "You were shouting in my ear. And she's right there," Dylan pointed again towards the gate. "She's in her cat form, Dumbo."
"Oh," Ron replied quietly as Dylan removed her hand.
"But how—" Tonks began.
Dylan answered, "Minerva's smart. That big guy who said he'd inform the others that we had to run probably told her something happened. She probably realized that I would have suggested this place as a hideout. And of course, she knew where my father lived. She knows how to get in, too, but she's waiting for me to open the gate, because if we're not here, there's no reason to be opening the gate unnecessarily and risk someone seeing her."
"But how does she know that you'll—" Tonks began again.
"Because she knows me," Dylan interrupted again, getting a reproachful glare from Tonks. "Minerva knows that I would sense her when she arrived."
Harry looked at Dylan cautiously, asking, "Are you sure that—"
"Of course I'm sure that's her!" Dylan answered, her irritation rising.
"Then don't you think—"
"Yes, let's go before she thinks that no one's here."
Dylan started to walk towards the front door. Confused and surprised, Remus, Harry, Ron, and Hermione followed Dylan while Fred and George went back to their card game and Molly went to get dinner started.
"Tonks?" Remus called from the foyer. "Are you coming?"
"Sure." Tonks jumped up from the couch and half-ran to catch up with Remus, grabbing his hand in hers once she had reached him.
"Thank you," Remus smiled down at Tonks.
"Well, I really didn't want to leave you any sooner than I had to."
"Oh. Well then you're very welcome," Tonks gave him a cheerful smile.
The two of them left out of the front door, traveling down the path a little ways behind the teenagers as they made their way towards the gate where a small, tabby cat could be seen just on the other side.
Once Dylan, who was at the head of the group, had reached the gate, she immediately pulled her necklace off and unlocked the gate, opening it just far enough for the tabby cat to come in. Dylan closed it and locked it again, turning around to cheerfully greet her family friend.
At that moment, the cat transformed into Professor McGonagall.
"Well," McGonagall said, brushing her robes off, "it certainly took you long enough. I was beginning to wonder if you were here at all. But I am most certainly glad to see that you're all safe." She gave the group a small smile. "Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger, how are you doing?"
"Fine, Professor," Hermione smiled at her teacher.
Ron nodded in response.
Harry merely shrugged his shoulders moodily.
McGonagall gave Harry a repromanding look, before starting up the path to the house with Dylan right beside her. When she reached Remus and Tonks, she said, "Remus, how are you?"
"Pretty good," he answered, "considering how much worse we would have been off had we not left headquarters. How are you, Minerva?"
"Very busy. You see, when Kingsley got the message that you were leaving and that Dylan here had predicted an attack, he only told Severus and myself. Severus and I had a few disagreements over which course of action would be best given the situation. We still have to contact the rest of the Order, let them know that tonight's meeting is being postponed until we can find a suitable location to hold it at. Oh! And I have to contact Severus, let him know that he and the others can come."
"Others?" Remus asked as McGongall pulled her wand out, issuing a silvery creature that quickly darted off.
Dylan answered for her, "She means Bill, Fleur, and Charlie."
"Yes, precisely," McGonagall agreed, looking at Dylan proudly like she was a student who had just answered a question right and deserved awarding of house points.
"We should get inside," Tonks suggested. "Mrs. Weasley is starting on dinner."
"Oh, Miss Tonks, I barely noticed you were there without your pink hair," McGonagall said, looking at Tonks. "How are you dear? I heard that you're expecting. Is it true?"
"Yes, I am," Tonks answered with a smile.
"Congratulations! I wonder…is the other rumor I heard true? Did Remus propose to you?"
"Yes, I did," Remus answered, unable to keep a grin from spreading across his face. "We're going to get married, hopefully, once this war is over."
"Don't talk like that, Remus!" McGonagall admonished him. "We are going to win this war, you two are going to get married, and I better get an invitation."
"Of course, Minerva," Remus replied with a sheepish smile.
"Good. Now let's get inside and see what wonderful food Molly has made for us tonight."
As they made their way up the path back to the house, McGonagall continued to ask Tonks questions about the baby, her ring, how Remus proposed, and what she was planning for the wedding. Tonks enjoyed the attention, even at the same time that she found it incredibly weird to be given this much attention by her old professor. Even so, Tonks always loved being the center of attention.
Once the group entered the house once more, Dylan led the way straight to the kitchen, where Molly was hard at work preparing a huge dinner.
As they entered, Remus said, "You best make it for four more, Molly, it seems we have more guests on the way."
"Really?" Molly asked excitedly as she bustled from the counter to the stove.
Minerva answered, "Yes, Severus is coming, and he's bringing your two oldest sons and your daughter-in-law.
"Oh, well that's wonderful! I think we can make do with a few more."
"I'm sure we can, Molly," Arthur said from his spot at the kitchen table, where he sat magically peeling potatoes.
"When should we expect them?" Molly asked joyously.
"Probably in a half-hour or so," Minerva answered.
"Oh, well then," Molly said, adopting the determined look of one about to go into battle, "I should get a move on. The dinner won't make itself."
Molly made pulled her wand out of the pocket of the apron she was wearing, and pointed it to the stove, where multiple pots appeared filled with various foods. A couple of them had self-stirring spoons sticking out of the brim of the pot. The Weasley matriarch was just pointing her wand towards the oven when Dylan piped up:
"You know, you could just—" Dylan squeezed her eyes shut, and all of a sudden the kitchen table was filled with heaping plates of food, ready to be served.
"Oh," Molly lowered her wand, looking longingly at the oven with disappointment before switching her gaze to the already-prepared food now on the table. "I suppose that would work, too."
"I thought so," Dylan plopped down in the nearest chair at the large table, grabbing a roll as she did so and casually taking a large bite out of it.
"Well," Molly began as she regained her composure, "Seeing as the rest of our party won't be arriving for a little while longer, I'll just put a warming charm over all of this and we can all head to the living room to wait."
Ron scowled at his mother, despite the half a roll he was currently chewing. He shoved the other half in his mouth, grabbed two more for the trip to the living room, and stalked out of the room while Harry tried to hide his laughter at his friend. The rest of the group slowly followed Ron to the living room.
As they waited, Harry nervously explained to McGonagall the plan of action that he had come up with for horcrux hunting. The rest of his hunting party joined in with discussing the finer details. While they did that, Dylan and the twins went back to playing cards, this time talking Tonks into joining them.
The group had been waiting for somewhere close to forty minutes when Dylan suddenly proclaimed off-handedly, "They're here."
"Oh good," McGonagall said with relief, "I was beginning to get worried. Dylan, can you get the gate?"
"Yes," she answered before raising the bet and continuing her card game.
"Well, are you going to get the gate?" McGonagall asked impatiently.
Dylan scooped the pot of poker chips into her lap and began sorting the chips according to color.
"Dylan," McGonagall warned sternly.
Dylan rolled her eyes and sighed. "Oh all right, but do I have to let the asshole in, too?"
Harry hid a snort of laughter as he asked, "Is that what you call Snape?"
"Typically," Dylan answered offhandedly. "That, or whatever profanity first pops into my head. I particularly enjoy calling him whatever he happens to be calling me in his head at the time. That always annoys him."
Harry could no longer hide his laughter, and Ron and the twins joined him, as well.
Dylan leaned over to whisper something inaudible to Fred and George, earning the reply of them fervently nodding their heads with identical wicked grins spread across their faces. That was never a good sign.
Dylan then got up and made her way out of the door to open the gate and let in their dinner guests.
McGonagall suggested, "Why don't we get dinner on the table then, Molly, so we can serve it once they get here."
"Of course," Molly answered. "Just…where is the dining room?"
"I can show you," McGonagall answered.
She and Molly left the room, with Arthur in tow.
"I'm going to go see if they need help," Remus said to Tonks as he stood up.
"I'll come with you," Tonks said, reaching her arm up for Remus to pull her upright from her position on the floor.
"That's alright, love," Remus replied. "Why don't you stay here? I was just going to make sure there would be food that you'd eat, and if there isn't, then you'd be surrounded by smells that make you nauseous."
"Oh yeah…not such a great idea. I'll stay here, then."
Remus smiled and kissed her cheek before leaving the room.
Once he had left, Tonks turned her gaze to the rest of the group, conveniently the younger ones, too. She caught Fred and George exchanging an odd glance, as if they were trying to make up their minds on something.
Finally, Fred said conspiratorally, "Tonks, how would you like to be in on one of our master pranks?"
Tonks looked suspiciously at the twins. "What is it?"
"You have to tell us if you're in first," George answered.
Tonks chewed on her lip for a minute, debating whether the consequences would outweigh the benefits or not. Well, she thought, they couldn't be planning something dangerous with their mother in the next room. What's the harm?
"Sure, I'm in," Tonks answered reluctantly, hoping she wouldn't regret it.
"Good," Fred replied with a grin. "It involves Snape."
"I'm in," Harry said immediately.
"Me, too," Ron followed.
"Yes, well, we assumed that," George said in answer. "So you're still in, Tonks?
"Awesome," Fred replied. "And you, Granger?"
"What do I have to do?" Hermione answered promptly with a steely glint in her eyes.
Dylan and the new arrivals were now visible through the dining room window, making their way up the long path to the Fallacy. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred and George, Tonks, and Remus were all seated at the table, waiting to be allowed to dig in to the wonderful food sitting in front of them.
Harry was caught off guard when Ginny walked into the room, deliberately avoiding Harry's gaze. He had been looking for her all day to no avail, but before he could say something to her, Ron spoke up.
"Oh, Ginny," Ron said loudly, "We're all going to—"
"Shhhh!" Hermione and the twins glared at Ron.
"What?" He asked, oblivious as ever.
They looked at Remus.
"Oh," Ron said in realization. "Forgot he was here, sorry."
Instead of demanding to know what was going on, as something fishy clearly was, Remus just said, "I hear no evil, see no evil."
The kids all beamed at Remus. Whichever twin happened to be sitting next to Ginny whispered the plan into her ear.
"Are you in on this?" Remus asked Tonks quietly.
"And you're not going to tell me?"
"You'll see soon enough."
"Can you at least tell me one thing?"
"Maybe. What is it?"
"Is anything going to explode?"
"It's hard to say," Tonks shrugged.
"Oh, well that's comforting."
In the distance, they heard the large front door opening, and a few minutes later, closing shut with a bang. With their group in relative silence, they could hear voices as Molly, Minerva, and Arthur greeted the new arrivals. A few minutes later, the door to the dining room opened, and Charlie came in.
"Evening, Charlie," the twins said in unison.
"Wotcher, Charlie," Tonks greeted him with a friendly smile.
"Hey, Tonks," Charlie responded.
"I saved a seat for you!" Ginny said eagerly, patting the empty seat next to her. Charlie took the seat with a smile, ruffling Ginny's hair fondly as he sat down.
Suddenly, Dylan ran into the room, throwing herself into the nearest empty chair and nodding to the pranksters. Everything was going to plan.
Next to come into the room was Severus Snape. The rest of the group could still be heard in the front room, quite preoccupied with small talk. The only adults in the dining room were Tonks, who was in on the deal; Remus, the retired Marauder who may or may not tell (they were betting on not); Charlie, who was easy going and subject to enjoying pranks; and now Snape, who was, in fact, the subject of the particular prank at hand.
Snape was now fully inside the room, prowling for an empty seat as far away from them as possible. The door closed behind him. At that exact moment, the entire room (minus Remus and Charlie), said in unison:
It took a second for the words to fully register in Snape's mind before he turned and stared at them all, his mouth hanging slightly open as his pasty skin flushed and as rage flared to life in his normally icy eyes.
Snape opened his mouth to retort with some nasty reply, but Molly walked in just then.
"Oh, Severus," Molly said quickly, "You can sit anywhere."
"Molly," Severus said in his typical loathing drawl, "It seems that—"
"No, no," Molly interrupted in her motherly way, "Come now. Sit down, Severus. The sooner you sit, the sooner we can eat. Ahh, here's everyone else."
The rest of the group filed in through the door, still talking amongst themselves.
"Come now," Molly shooed them towards the table. "Sit down, everyone, tuck in."
Snape's angry retort was lost in the commotion of a very large household digging in to a meal fit to feed a king. Harry, in particular, had a huge, satisfied grin plastered across his face as he and Ginny shared an amused glance.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Remus whispered in Tonks' ear as Snape finally sat down.
"Why?" Tonks replied just as quietly. "It's not like you would have joined in."
"Of course I would have."
"Really?" Tonks looked at him incredulously.
"Yes. After everything he's done, and particularly after that gift he sent to our baby, hell yes. Especially if you'd told me that you made sure Molly and Minerva were out of earshot."
"Well, aren't we the troublemaker, Mr. Professor."
"The term is Marauder, love."