Oh my my, little white lies/Swear I'm gonna make it right this time/It's like a radio turned way down low/Telling me things I do not know I know... - Low
Cedric Diggory died three days after her twenty-third birthday.
She stands outside Hogwarts Castle, her cloak wrapped tightly around her as it is not yet morning; she's forgotten the chill that lingers over these hills. She's been sent here to scan for clues which may or may not exist and which may or may not confirm Harry Potter's story about You-Know-Who returning to power. Up by the castle, Shacklebolt's teams of Aurors are looking for traces of Sirius Black, because whenever someone mentions him, they mention Sirius.
Everything is as it was hours before, when Harry Potter reappeared clutching the Triwizard Trophy and the dead body of his classmate. The instruments of the school band are scattered in the grandstand, and the students themselves in their beds, not sleeping. There's litter everywhere, and as soon as she finishes here she'll be sent up to the Castle, though she doesn't want to go there. Dementors have administered a kiss on Barty Crouch's son but someone needs to escort Mad-Eye Moody to St. Mungo's when he wakes up and someone chose her because of…well, a whole bunch of reasons.
It had been a couple hundred years, or something, since the last Tri-Wizard Tournament, so she took Charlie Weasley up on his offer to come and watch. Apparently he'd brought dragons over from Romania, and it had been five years since she last saw him, right after graduation, so she headed to Hogwarts. She didn't want to admit it, but she was also interested in seeing what the Boy-Who-Lived looked like, since she remembered him as a squirmy baby with a red face the one time she met him, when Sirius was minding him so Lily could do her Christmas shopping.
But mostly, she wanted to escape the confines of her office and her small cubicle. It had been four months since Sirius Black escaped the Dementors, and it still felt like the entire department was breathing down her neck, looking for any slip-up that might indicate she knew where he was hiding. But she couldn't know, because it's been thirteen years since she last saw the bastard and in all fairness she'd like him back in Azkaban as much as the rest.
Charlie told her to wear leather and her regular features and so she stood next to him and watched the Champions as they battled the dragons. She never liked dragons – or magical creatures all that much, save for the fluffy cute non-dangerous ones – and something about the dragons with their rough hides and scales frightened her. The Champions were not protected while the dragons were, and she didn't understand how that was supposed to prove anything; magic should be used in defense only when necessary and somehow, she wasn't not sure that inter-school, international cooperation could be formed by sending students only a few years younger than her into the jaws of beasts.
She whispered this to Charlie, who laughed and told her that she's become soft in her old age, and turned his attention to Harry Potter, the last and certainly the most creative potential-dragon-fodder they've seen. She couldn't believe how big he was, and how he'd stopped You-Know-Who but when he grabs the egg it all made sense in ways she couldn't explain even if she tried.
As they left and headed to the village, she saw a large black dog on the path who reminded her of the dog that someone – a neighbor? A friend of her parents? – had when she was a child.
The lager they drank in the Three Broomsticks that night didn't make it any less clear, and as Charlie Weasley tried to slide his hand up her thigh and she repelled him (she'd always been good at fending him off) she thought about the Champions and that young French girl being thrown into the fire and wondered what one would think about before going out to face what might be your death.
She turns to see Kingsley Shacklebolt walking down the hill, towards her. She shakes her head.
"I don't think we'll find anything," she admits. "The Port-Key was a one-time-only deal, and we've got a couple Aurors and Flitwick in the maze but…" she trails off. She remembers watching Cedric Diggory, tall and handsome like the Hufflepuffs in her year, and she sighs.
"There's no trace of Black," Kingsley says. They've become friends this past year, what with her being Sirius' cousin and him being on the hunt.
She nods and sees a black dog dart from the castle – that same one she saw hanging around Hogsmeade.
"Gorgeous dog – Newfoundland, you think?" Kingsley asks and she shrugs.
"Seen it around Hogsmeade. I think a family friend had one once – it was nice," she says.
They called her in for questioning three times over the course of a year and a half.
The first time was right after Sirius escaped. They threatened her with Veritaserum; she threatened them with charges of harassment and using an illegal substance on a willing subject. She told them what she knew, which was nothing since her memories of Sirius were hazy at best. She doesn't even remember his face until the Wanted Posters come out, since she was nine at the time and her mother's burned all the old photographs. She remembered her mother crying, saying she thought he was better than the rest (the rest being the family she knew of but didn't know, the family that crossed their path in Diagon Alley and turned their perfect noses upwards).
She told them as much, told them about his friends, James and Lily and Peter, names she knew because the story has been told so often that the names were inscribed on the tip of her tongue. There was another, his name might have been Ronald or Reggie but she couldn't remember, because she only met him a couple times and he stopped by the house once or twice after the funeral. It's not until June, when the Daily Prophet featured an article on a dismissed Defense Against the Dark Arts professor who happened to be a werewolf and she saw his face, older and more scarred, that she knew his name was not Reggie but Remus John Lupin.
The second time was after the article in the paper, after Sirius escapes Dementors and the wards at Hogwarts and they're looking for a scapegoat. They were blaming the werewolf, as a former friend of the man in question and for causing the distraction, but that didn't explain enough so they looked to her, to her family, for a legitimate excuse. Somehow, Fudge received permission to use Veritaserum and it's not until later, when she was shakily recovering in an examination room that Kingsley stopped by to apologize.
The third time was in March, when memos with alleged sighting of Sirius were crowding the Ministry's elevators. Kingsley was alone this time, and asked her a few questions, apologizing once again for the Veritaserum and she wasn't helping them anymore, really. Her answers were the same as before and after work they went out for a drink later and told her that he didn't think Sirius Black betrayed the Potters, not anymore.
They head up the hill to the Castle, tired and drained. The sun is just coming over the horizon and she stops and yawns.
"You're taking Moody over to St. Mungo's, right?" Kingsley asks and she nods. He's in the infirmary, and when she walks in she's surprised to see Harry Potter sleeping in a bed not far away. He must have taking a sleeping draught, she thinks, and sits down besides Moody's bedside to wait. She's here because Fudge is using this to prove her loyalty, because Sirius was mentioned and etc, etc, etc, ad infinitum.
She waits a few minutes, and then walks across the floor to look at Harry Potter. He wouldn't remember her, but she wonders if Sirius hadn't betrayed the Potters and Peter Pettigrew, if they would have known each other. Then maybe she'd be like a big sister, and things would be different and Sirius would be alive and suddenly, she remembers where she's seen the dog before.
She takes a deep breath, remembering what Kingsley had told her (escaping from Hogwarts and the Dementors means Dumbledore knows something we don't and that means he's probably not guilty maybe he was framed) and remembers the allegations that Harry Potter's been spouting out, that Voldemort is back. Last time, so many lives were destroyed –
"Girlie," Mad-Eye Moody says, far too awake for someone who was sleeping a moment ago, "if you're waiting to take me to Mungo's, 'm ready now. Let's go."
So she goes with him to St. Mungo's, stealing a backward glance at Harry as she goes, and when Moody gets into a disagreement with an orderly it's in slow motion because her brain is going far too fast, so she misses the stunning spell. Recovering later, she still feels numb as she walks home because everything is so confusing and she wants to sort it out.
And when the dog she saw in Hogsmeade shows up on her doorstep, she's ready to listen.
Author's Note: Inspired by watching Goblet of Fire and wondering "So, wait, what about the Aurors?" for no good reason. Just a single Tonks piece, since I've never really written one before. I hope you enjoyed and please review and YES there will be holiday smut soon!