Chapter 1: The Order of the Phoenix
Nymphadora Tonks' appearance usually did nothing to endear her to most people she met. Currently she was of average height and weight, with somber black hair that fell past her shoulders. Her face was pale and in it's usual heart shape, though she had altered the skin on her right cheek slightly to hide a growing bruise. (Sometimes being a Metamorphmagus really came in handy, even if she was only using her abilities to hide the after effects of a fall down her front steps). Although, she was able to do more than just that- she could change anything about her appearance at all, though she rarely altered anything more than her hair color these days. After a while, it became apparent that people wouldn't always recognize you if you changed your face every day.
Normally, she preferred something a little more original for her hair than straight and black, but today it had seemed fitting. Today she was to attend her first meeting of the Order of the Phoenix. More importantly, she would be meeting her cousin—or something like her second cousin really—for the first time. Finding out he wasn't the escaped criminal mass-murderer she had thought he was, had proved to be a bit shocking. Now she was over her surprise, she was left only with a tingling anticipation at meeting the only other member of her family (besides her parents of course) who weren't petitioning for the death of all Muggles, Half-Bloods, Blood-Traitors and anyone who didn't wear a white mask and have a nifty snake tattoo.
"Aha, black today?" said Andrew, leaning over the petition that separated his cubicle from hers. "That's a little more subdued than your usual, Nymphadora."
"It's Tonks, Andrew, Tonks, how many times do I have to tell you?" She said through gritted teeth.
Andrew rolled his eyes, apparently unconcerned with his tenth reminder of the day to call her by her preferred name. "So what's the occasion?"
The occasion was her first meeting with an illegal secret society where she would be introduced to her escaped convict cousin at her Dark family's ancestral home. "Dinner," she said instead, trying to sound nonchalant. Andrew, though he was an Auror like her, wasn't in the Order. Well, technically she wouldn't be in the Order until tonight, but it was close enough.
Her answer made Andrew smirk. "A date, huh? And here's you refusing me at every twist and turn."
Tonks had the good grace to laugh. She was one of the youngest Auror's in the department, and Andrew was the only closest in their office to her age. He wasn't so bad to talk to, and if he did forget her preference for her surname sometimes, it could be put down to the fact that she was still very new to the Auror division. Though from day one he had been hitting on her and hinting none-to-secretly that he wanted to go out with her. She had ignored his flirtatious nature, even though he was quite handsome. Still, no matter how bright his smile was, or how much he made her blush, they were still colleagues and like damn she was going to mess work up with an interoffice romance during her first year here.
"Who you going out with?" He asked, resting his chin on the partition, and blinking his long lashes at her.
"No one nearly so interesting as you think," she said, trying to avoid his eyes by rummaging through the files on her desk. "Just one of my mum's old friends."
Andrew sighed happily. "Ah, good, and here you had me worried that I might have competition."
"Cooper!" Shaklebolt shouted, striding down the aisle from his own cubicle. "Don't tell me you have time to flirt, boy, or did you need some more work to occupy yourself with?"
Andrew paled at the sight of the large black man advancing upon him menacingly and quickly ducked back down to his desk with a quick, "yes, sir!"
As soon as the other was out of sight, the large man winked at Tonks, who flashed back a quick smile. Kingsley Shaklebolt was her partner, and one of the heads of the Auror division. Since she was still a first year Auror, she was technically on prohibition, which meant she had to be teamed up with a senior Auror until they felt that she was ready to handle things on her own. Luckily, she had been assigned to Kingsley. It was Kingsley who had introduced her to the idea of the Order, and it was because of him that she was attending her first meeting tonight.
"Wotcher, King," she said wrinkling her nose at him.
"Don't cheer me, Tonks," Kingsley bellowed, his face contorting as if angry. "I told you I wanted that Lestrange file by lunch today, I want an explanation for why it hasn't been on my desk since breakfast!"
"Right-o, sir," she said, and rummaged through her stack of files again. In actuality she had turned in the file yesterday, as Kingsley well knew. However, certain pretences were required for when they were in the office. No one could know that their relationship was anything other than new Auror and boss. She rather thought it was all great fun really, like acting in a play.
"Don't bother, girl," he roared, and pulled a file from a stack under his arm and tossed it on her desk. "It's old news now, I want you looking into the Spade case. Make sure you're familiar with it by morning, I want a debriefing at ten o'clock tomorrow." That said, Kingsley turned on his heels and marched back to his cubicle.
Tonks reached for the file, knowing that Kingsley would have hid a note in the cover for her about the meeting tonight, but snapped it shut the moment Andrew's head popped back up above her.
"Tough luck, babe," he said, wincing slightly. "Old Shakle's a real bear."
She shrugged. "Oh, he's all right enough, and he's a damn good Auror."
"Has to be, otherwise Scrigemour would never have given him the Black case—er…" he trailed off and bit his lip. It was common knowledge around the office that Tonks was related to Sirius Black, as well as handful of other Azkaban residents. Several Auror's avoided her because of this fact. Others, like Andrew, simply went out of the way not to bring it up. "Anyways, best leave you to your work then," he finished quickly and then ducked back to his own cubicle.
Tonks snorted bitterly. A week ago the mention of her Death Eater cousin would have put her in a glower mood for the rest of the afternoon, but now that she knew the whole thing was really a fraud she found the situation rather funny. Kingsley Shaklebolt spent all day terrorizing the countryside looking for an escaped convict and when he left the office at night he apparated smartly over to Sirius Black's house and sat down for dinner.
She opened the file marked 'Emily and Caroline Spade' and pulled out the note:
Glance over the file, I do expect a debriefing tomorrow. At least come with the basics. Meet me behind the Leaky in fifteen. I'll take you to Headquarters from there. Expect to be occupied for the remainder of the night.
Immediately she grabbed her wand and cast a quick 'incendio' to destroy the note, she threw the ashes in the bin. Then she flipped open the file again. Pictures of two mangled bodies and a bloodied crime scene followed. She thumbed through the pictures quickly—she'd get back to them after she read the report, they weren't important until she could understand what she was seeing.
The report was only about a week old, and whoever had reported first to the scene hadn't done a very good job at detailing the incident. Not much evidence had been taken in aside from the body themselves, and the interview with the Mrs. Spade was lazy at best. As best as she could surmise on July 6th at 2:00 AM, Mrs. Spade had awoken to find her oldest daughter, 11 year old Emily Spade brutally murdered and her youngest daughter Caroline missing. Mrs. Spade claimed that she had been unable to hear anything, and did not account for what she had been doing awake in the early morning hours of the 6th, and had no enemies to report. Mr. Spade was no longer in the picture.
Tonks flipped back to the pictures and forced herself to look them over carefully. Dealing with children was the hardest part of her job, but luckily enough it wasn't a frequent occurrence. Poor Emily would have been heading off to Hogwarts in a month if she had lived. She had probably just received her letter, and had been chatting her mum's ear's off at the excitement of when it was delivered. There would have been trips to Diagon Alley to get her first wand, maybe pick out an owl, and listen to her little sister whine about having to stay home alone. Then there would have been the trip to Platform 9 and ¾ and learning the trick of the brick wall, and on the Hogwarts Express she would have made her first friends, and maybe even her first school rivals. Then after catching sight of Hogwarts for the first time she would have been sorted…
She caught herself halfway through thinking about whether Emily would have been a Gryffindor or a Ravenclaw, and bit her tongue. The sharp pain that flooded through her mouth served as a quick reminder of exactly what her job was. She was an Auror. Emily was dead, and what she would have done if she had lived was no relevance to her investigation.
The half formed tears remained in her eyes up until the point she left the office and apparated to the alley behind the Leaky Cauldron. Kingsley was already there.
"Read over the Spade case then?" He said.
Tonks blinked her eyes quickly, trying to make sure they remained dry. "Yeah, I did," she hoped her voice wasn't coming out as strained as it sounded to her. What would Kingsley think if she couldn't handle herself around a case with two kids? She'd be seeing much worse if she stayed in this field.
"No worries, it's been giving me nightmares for days now," said Kinsley, and then he gave her a sad smile. "The trick is to not let them see you cry, girl."
She blinked her eyes furiously again, a picture rising back in her mind. It had been of little Emily's room; she had a pink and white afghan at the bottom of her bed where all of stuffed toys had been lined up. They had been spattered with her blood.
"It's nothing, King," she said hurriedly, before he continue on with this. There was no reason he should coddle her just because she was a girl, there was no reason for her to be squeamish, she was an Auror now.
"Rubbish," Kingsley growled. "The minute you start thinking it's nothing is the minute I sack you, got it? The ability to care about the people we're helping and wanting to put the bastards away that do those things is what makes a good Auror. You show me an Auror who isn't plagued by night terrors and I'll show you a fool. Wouldn't have one like it working under me, girl. I can assure you that much."
"Thanks, King," Tonks said. She rather suspected that Kingsley was trying to make his words inspirational and heart felt, but she found them rather lacking. He really wasn't good at this sort of thing. Oddly enough though, it did make her feel a bit better.
"All set then?" He asked. "I thought we might arrive a few minutes early so you could meet the crowd."
"Set and ready," she echoed, pulling her wand out again so she would be ready for apparation.
Rather than tell her the coordinates, Kingsley handed her a rolled up piece of parchment, winked and disapparated.
She scowled at the empty space he had just occupied and clenched her fingers around the note. He knew how difficult apparating with only an address was, and she was willing to bet that was all she was holding in her hands. Still, she supposed he was her boss for a reason, and the problem of getting to Headquarters would be good practice. She only wished that he would stop testing her like this. It was the third time this week and unknown apparating was draining!
'The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.'
Without another thought, Tonks burned the piece of parchment and whipped out her wand again, this time with a smirk. This time she had one up on Kingsley, she was a Black after all—or her mother had been, but she had the right blood all the same. If Kingsley thought her old mum hadn't taken her through Grimmauld Square once or twice as a child he was sorely mistaken. Although Andromeda hardly harbored much sympathy for her family, she did have year's worth of childhood memories, and Grimmauld Square was part of that. She had only taken Tonks when she was younger to show her the Black family home, and they had been seen from the upper attic window and ended up running from a hale of curses thrown through the front door. Still, she had still caught a glimpse of Number 12 several years back.
With a sharp crack she apparated…
… And reappeared in a dingy neighborhood looking at a formidable old house that used to give her nightmares when she was young. Mum had felt very sorry about taking her round Grimmauld Square after that, but now Tonks was rather glad Mum had felt nostalgic on that one day.
Kingsley was already on the front step waiting for her.
"Thought you'd be puzzling over that for a little longer, you're getting better girl," he said as she approached.
"Ha! Joke is on you, King. I already knew where I was going, you just could have told me we were coming by the old Black place."
He frowned. "Didn't know you knew its location." He paused long enough to let Tonk's cringe at the implication. "I'll assume it's thanks to your mother you know where you are so we don't waste any more time. Still, you would have needed the parchment anyways. The place is under the Fidelius Charm."
Tonks raised an eyebrow at that bit of knowledge, but didn't comment. Having a secret keeper must be a new turn of events for the old house, because she had been able to see it quite clearly all those years ago and hadn't had a problem seeing the house when she arrived moments ago.
"Now, be extra quite," Kingsley was whispering as he opened the door and led the way in. "We don't want to wake anyone, and make sure you don't—"
It was too late; Tonks had only taken two steps into the darkened hall before her clumsy feet had come in contact with something short and solid.
"—Trip over the umbrella stand."
"Filthy intruders, how dare you befoul the ancient and most noble house of Black, disgusting muggle lovers—" The portrait began wailing almost as soon as Kingsley finished his warning, followed quickly by the yells of almost every portrait lining the dusty hall.
From her position lying sprawled out on the floor, Tonks let out a little whine. Partly because she couldn't believe she had just caused all that commotion and partly because she felt like she had just twisted her ankle.
"How many times do I have to tell you?"
Tonks pushed herself up on her forearms, so she could better see the man who rushed in from down the hall, eyes blazing, pointing his finger at the main portrait. She glanced at it to see that it was of a rather old and wrinkled woman who had her face pressed against the canvas so her screams could be better heard.
"Sorry, Sirius," Kingsley said by means of greetings to the man. The pair of them grabbed a side of the curtains on either end of the portrait and attempted to wrench it shut.
"Who woke the old bat up?" Someone called from up the stairs.
Tonks was on her knees now, trying to rotate her ankle before trying to stand on it. She caught a glance of a number of red heads making their way down the stairs. There seemed to be a whole army of them.
"Hey, Kingsley!" One of them called, waving his hand over his head.
"Here for the meeting?" Another said, and Tonks thought she was seeing double.
"Who woke her up?" The first repeated, rubbing his nose angrily.
"What did someone wake ickle Ronnikins up from his nap," the second boy said.
The third boy who, Tonks had decided had to be the second's twin, landed on the main floor with a flourish. "Were you having a nice old dream about your pretty little—"
What Ronnikins pretty little dream was, she never found out. Instead a fourth red head, this time a girl, pushed through the whole lot and strode forward.
"Here, I'll help you up," she said, and reached for Tonk's hand.
"Gah, sorry about that," Sirius said then, moving away from the portrait and grabbing her other hand. "I didn't realize you were there for a moment."
Tonks grabbed both of their arms gratefully, and pulled herself up. Thankfully, her angle only protested slightly to her added weight, which she was grateful for. The last thing she needed was the extra embarrassment of medical attention.
"Thanks," she told them, and then she smiled shyly at Sirius. "Sorry I woke her up, I'm dead clumsy."
Sirius smirked. "Then you must be Tonks, Shaklebolt's told me about you," he thrust his hand forward. "Sirius Black, but I suspect you knew that already."
"I recognize you from the picture Mum's got hanging in the parlor from your graduation," she said, though she neglected to add that the picture was only a recent re-addition to the parlor. Mum had taken it down after Sirius had been sent to Azkaban. It had only been put back up after Tonks had gained permission to tell her Mum the truth, which Dumbledore had granted her specially.
An odd look flickered across Sirius' face. "Glad it's not from wanted posters for once," he said.
"Ginny Weasley," the girl who had helped her up said. "And the lot with me were my brothers, Ron, Fred and George, but I suppose they're too rude to say hello," she shot a glare down the hall where the three boys had just disappeared behind Kingsley.
"Probably smelled your Mum's cooking," Sirius told her.
"Weasley…" Tonks was saying, ignoring the side conversation entirely. "Not in relation to Lee Weasley?"
"Er—no," Ginny said. "No Lee's in the family, I'm afraid."
"Sorry, I meant Charlie," Tonks said in a hurry. "I guess Lee was his nickname."
Ginny burst out laughing. "Lee? He was nicknamed Lee? Where did you come up with that? Did he ask you to call him that? Do you still talk to him? Were you in Hogwarts together? Did you used to date?"
The questions came so quickly, Tonks barely had a chance to blink, but the Sirius was laughing along with her.
"C'mon then, Tonks, I'll introduce you to the rest of the broad, you two can gossip later," he said, and then he gestured down the hall where Kingsley and the other Weasley boys had disappeared.
The kitchen was full to the brim. Red heads were bouncing off of everything and Sirius joined them with enthusiasm. In addition to the Weasley children, there was also a bush haired young girl standing at the stove between what could have only been Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. There were also several others, most of whom she didn't recognize. Mad-Eye Moody was in the corner speaking to Kingsley, and her old teacher Professor McGonagall was sitting at the table sipping a cup of tea primly. Even Dung Fletcher, one of her regular arrestees was present, slouched over in a pile by the fire, smoking on a foul looking black pipe.
"Ah, there you are, girl," Kingsley said when he caught sight of her. "Moody and I were just talking about that Spade case."
Tonks broke off from Sirius and walked over to the small group and nodded her head respectfully at Mad-Eye, trying very hard not to stare at his… well, mad eye.
"The department won't let me on the case," Mad-Eye growled. "They say since I'm retired, I'm not allowed to actually practice policing anymore."
Tonk's glanced at Kingsley, expect to see his eyes glazed over in ignorance of the other, but instead saw him nodding sympathetically at the retired Auror. True, she knew Mad-Eye did have quite a record, and she had met him before but… he had never seemed all there. Him being in a secret society would be right up his alley though.
"Er—sorry about that," Tonks said for lack of anything better to say.
"I knew their father, bless his soul," Mad-Eye continued. "Went and spoke with Denise after you told me about it Shaklebolt. Gave her my condolences."
"Tonks and I were just given the case today, I had to fight Scrigemour over it," Kingsley told him. "Sure could use your help on some of the finer points though, and Emmeline when she arrives."
"Ay, yes," Mad-Eye said, eye whizzing at an alarming speed. "She's upstairs at the moment, probably be down in a minute." He inclined his head to Kingsley significantly, as if this was a statement that held great importance.
Whatever it was they were sharing, it was lost on Tonks. Kingsley's eyes widened accordingly.
"So, girl," Mad-Eye said, turning on her. "Heard you're a piece of work."
She didn't know if this was a good or bad thing, so she just grinned. "I am what I am, sir."
He barked out a sharp laugh. "Good to hear that girl, good to hear that. You been keeping old Shaklebolt on his toes, then?"
"I do my best," she conceded, shooting her boss a quick glance to make sure he approved of this conversation.
"Heard you're one of those whatsits… shape shifters," he said, and for one horrifying moment both of his eyes fixed on her.
"Yeah, one of those whatsists," she agreed. "Comes in right handy sometimes."
"Can't say I can think of much use for changing looks," he said, ironically fingering a long scar that crossed down his cheek as his hand caressed his chin. "Though I suppose you find it useful enough."
"That I do, sir," she said.
There was a bit of a commotion behind them, involving the twin boys levitating a storm of pots and pans about the kitchen. Their mum ended up screaming angrily at them, though Sirius seemed to find it all highly amusing. The episode had distracted Tonks from her conversation long enough for her to realize that the room had become considerably more full since her back had been turned.
"I don't think we've met," a man who had appeared by her side said.
"Nymphadora Tonks," she told him and shook his offered hand. "But, please, call me Tonks."
He laughed, and released her hand. "Sturgis Podmore," he said. "Nice to see a few new faces in this old group."
She smiled, and took an instant liking to his chubby, friendly face. "I have to say I'm pretty nervous about being here."
"Ah, don't let it bother you, Dumbledore will put you right at ease," he said and then he nodded his head towards the fire which had just turned a bright shade of green. "And here he is now if I'm not mistaken."
As it turned out none other than Severus Snape, Tonk's old Potions teacher stepped out of the grate, not bothering to wave hello to anyone. Though the moment he moved to join McGonagall at the table the fire blazed green again and Albus Dumbledore himself unfolded himself from the flames.
Tonks excused herself from Sturgis' company and hurried over to him.
"Hello, Professor," she said hurriedly as she approached. "I just wanted to say how thankful I am you gave me this chance to…"
"Ah, Ms. Tonks!" He said, smiling pleasantly at her. "Lemon drop?" He pulled a brown bag from his pocket and held it out to her.
She grinned at the oddness of it all, and the all too familiar gesture from her Hogwarts days. "When have I been able to refuse?" She said, and reached in for one to pop into her mouth.
"Glad you consented to join us, Ms. Tonks," Dumbledore continued. "I was very pleased when Kingsley presented me with the idea, I always told you that you were destined for greatness."
Tonks blushed, and felt touched that he remembered. Back in her Hogwarts days, she hadn't had such a good time with things. She had had fun enough, and did well in classes, but being a Metamorphmagus had made things very difficult for her as a teenager. Students were always either jealous or resentful of her, and she had ended up in Dumbledore's office on more than one occasion suffering from an identity crisis. She still remembered the time Dumbledore had visited her in the Hospital Wing after she broke down from not being able to remember if her eyes were truly brown or blue, or another color altogether.
"Thank you, sir," she said.
Dumbledore smiled, but then his gaze drifted past her and Tonk's realized she was monopolizing his valuable time. The room was already beginning to quiet and a small group had gathered around Dumbledore, waiting to ask questions.
"Why don't you all take a seat," Dumbledore said, smiling at them all. He glanced at the children who seemed to hesitate. "You as well, children," he told them. "I have something to you as well before we begin our meeting."
The children positively beamed at one another, though their mother was scowling. Ginny, her brothers and the other brown haired girl all ran to the table and ended up taking seats all around Tonks and the place she had chosen next to Sirius. For his part, Sirius grinned at them, and rolled his eyes in the direction of their mum.
"Don't think I didn't see that Sirius," the formidable mother snapped at him. "And you'll stay only for Dumbledore, as soon as he's finished, it's up to your rooms with you."
There was a weak chorus of 'yes mum's and one 'yes, Mrs. Weasley' from the brown haired girl.
The girl blinked at Tonks and then held her hand out. "Hermione Granger, I don't think we've met before."
"Tonks," said Tonks, shaking the younger girl's hand.
This seemed to remind the boys they were forgetting their manners—or perhaps the sharp elbow Hermione placed in the red head next to her helped.
"Ron Weasley," the boy said, rubbing his ribs painfully.
Ron was abruptly knocked out of the way as one of the twins pushed him down the bench so that he and his twin had room on the end in front of Tonks.
"And I'm Fred," he said.
"At least we think he is," added his twin.
"I very well might be George," the first said. They both looked at one another and shrugged.
"Our own, mum can't tell the difference, we think she forgot ages ago." This twin was thin smacked painfully on the back of his head.
"Enough, George," Mrs. Weasley said. "You both know who you are, don't confuse the poor girl." She smiled brightly down at Tonks. "I'm Molly Weasley, dear, and that is my husband Arthur," she gestured to the man Tonks had already pegged as Mr. Weasley who was chatting with Dumbledore further down the table.
"Nice to meet you," said Tonks.
"We'll be having dinner after the meeting, I insist you stay so we can all get to know one another better," said Molly.
"Yeah," Sirius chipped in, resting his arms heavily on the table. "Dung's already decided to stay as well, so it'll be dinner for at least nine of us."
Something very akin to disapproval twitched across Molly's face. Tonks was willing to bet Molly knew just what type of man Dung Fletcher was, as well as she did, and that he was not welcome to stay for dinner. To her credit, Molly didn't comment, and simply took Tonk's acceptance with a nod before rejoining her husband.
"I guess she doesn't approve of petty criminals," Tonks commented, not even realizing that anyone was listening to her. The kids were already starting to talk amongst themselves again.
"Not even the escaped ones," Sirius told her with a grin.
She smiled back, laughing lightly. "I have to admit, it was a bit of a shock hearing that your convict cousin wasn't nearly as bad as you'd been told you're whole life. I thought Mum was going to have a heart attack when I told her."
"Ah, Andy knows then?" said Sirius.
Tonks jerked her head in the opposite direction to indicate Dumbledore. "Yeah, I got permission, I hope you don't mind. I just knew it would put Mum at better ease. What with the rest of the family having such high standards and all."
Sirius glowered. "We are a happy bunch aren't we?" Then he sighed. "Wow, Andy, I haven't thought about her in a while." He wrinkled her nose and her. "And you're her daughter… blimey that's strange."
"Have been for twenty-three years now," said Tonks.
"Oh don't remind me. You know I actually think I remember when you were born?" He shuddered. "Let's not talk about that anymore, it only depresses me." Then he looked over her shoulder. "That's Bill arriving, I think that's everyone. Things should be getting started now."
Tonks turned to see yet another red head walk through the door. This one she actually recognized. Though it was Charlie Weasley, or 'Lee' as she had always known him as, she shared a year with at Hogwarts Bill wasn't entirely unfamiliar either.
Before he got swiped up in a conversation with someone else, Tonks caught his eye and waved. He grinned at her, but moved immediately to Dumbledore's side to whisper something in his ear.
Whatever Bill had to say seemed to make Dumbledore upset, because he frowned, shook his head and then raised his hands.
The room immediately quieted and people scrambled back to their seats. Bill nudged her down the bench and slipped in between her and Ginny.
"Thank you all for coming," Dumbledore began, eyes drifting over the sea of upturned faces. "Before we get started I wanted to take a moment to address the first order of business with the children; Harry Potter."
Tonks straightened in her seat. She didn't know much about the Potter boy, but she had heard all the rumors, and read all the articles as much as any young witch had. Though she had never had the opportunity to meet him personally, Kingsley had made it quite clear that Dumbledore was very close to him. She had even heard part of the story about how Harry Potter had escaped You-Know-Who's clutches after his resurrection.
Hermione was raising her hand. "Sir, may I ask a question?"
"Of course, Ms. Granger," Dumbledore told her, eyes sparkling. For a moment Tonks felt like she was back at Hogwarts.
"Well," she said. "Harry's starting to write to us, and… he doesn't much like being kept in the dark about things—you know how he is. Can't we tell him anything?"
The other children nodded at one another and Tonk's eyes widened. Maybe this group was a little more wrapped up with Harry Potter than she had realized. She had only thought Dumbledore was the one with any real connection to the boy; she hadn't even considered the thought that the Weasleys were his friends. Though, judging by how young they looked, they were probably all in Hogwarts together.
"Ah, and that is precisely what I had wanted to address with you," Dumbledore said, smile dropping slightly. "I'm afraid the answer is no. Harry must know nothing."
"Er—I don't think Harry's going to accept 'no,'" said Ron, shifting nervously.
"When has he ever?" One of the twins—Tonks was pretty sure it was Fred—whispered under his breath, though no one paid the question any attention.
"Well, unfortunately that answer is going to have to suffice until Harry is brought to Headquarters. The situation is simply too dangerous to trust anything to owl's at the moment," said Dumbledore.
Hermione shifted in her seat and raised her hand again. Tonks could just imagine her in class, fingers shooting up in the air every five seconds. There was one like her in every class.
"But couldn't we call him, sir? Or use the Muggle post? Anything?" she said. "If I know Harry as well as I know I do, he is going to be going out of his head worrying about what's going on and us being here and not being able to tell him anything isn't going to help. We're getting half a dozen letters a week as it is."
Dumbledore shook his head sadly and a few of the other Order members whispered to themselves. "Unfortunately that will not do either."
"But why?" Ginny demanded, nearly jumping from her seat, her cheeks were bright pink. "Can't he just come stay here, those Muggles treat him like rubbish anyway!"
"Ginny!" Molly scolded. Ginny ignored her.
"Alas, Harry must remain with his relatives for a time longer," Dumbledore said, folding his arms across the table. Tonks thought he genuinely looked remorseful about this. "In order for the protections to work, he has to return to that house once a year. He will be removed from the house after I have felt an according amount of time has passed, and he will be able to spend the rest of the summer at Grimmauld Place."
Beside her, Sirius snorted, but didn't comment further. Tonk's shot him a look to try and decipher his feelings about all of this, but he just shook his head at her and mouthed 'later.'
"We can't tell him anything?" Hermione said, abandoning her practice of raising her hand.
"What about a quick visit round to the Muggle's place?" One of the twins asked.
"Just for a quick hello to cheer Harry up?" The other twin added.
"I'm afraid I have to answer no to all three questions," said Dumbledore. "It is too dangerous for us to make any significant contact with Harry at all. The letters are difficult enough as it is, though I would be reluctant to destroy all contact together."
"Yeah, we know how that works out," Ron whispered to Hermione who quickly shushed him in favor of hearing what else Dumbledore had to say.
"I am going to have to ask for a promise from all of you," Dumbledore told them gravely. "I need you all to promise that you won't reveal anything about where you are, even that you are all under the same roof, and with Sirius," he nodded to Sirius who nodded back at him. "Also I don't want you to mention anything about the Order or what you have learned in this house."
The children exchanged uneasy looks. "Then sir," Hermione said, raising her hand again. "What can we tell Harry? He's been asking all sorts of questions."
"Just reassure him that he will be able to come soon, let him know that everyone is well, and that you haven't forgotten about him," said Dumbledore.
"He's going to go mad about this," Ron commented. "You know he is. He's not going to like being lied to and kept out of the loop, locked up at the Muggles."
"Who would?" barked Sirius suddenly. "No one should have to be locked up in their own home without having anything to do when a war is brewing."
Several of the order members shot Sirius either scolding or sympathetic looks.
Snape, sitting on Dumbledore's right, grinned. "Don't tell me you aren't enjoying your housekeeping Black?"
"About as much as you're enjoying your servitude Snape," Sirius shot back through clenched teeth.
"Enough," Dumbledore ordered, glaring between them. "I understand that this isn't the ideal situation and that Harry won't be at all pleased with the way things are playing out, but I assure you I have thought through the alternatives and this is the best course of action. When Harry arrives at Grimmauld you shall be able to deal with his mood then and explain the situation. Once he knows about the situation better, I am sure he will understand."
"The old muggle lover is back," something said through the crowd. "Thinks he knows all the secrets, oh but Mistress knows better! Mistress sees right through him!"
Tonks glanced around, looking for the origin of the voice. Who would say something like that in the middle of a meeting?
"Ah, Kreacher," Dumbledore said, smiling pleasantly at a spot behind him.
Sirius was already jumping out of his chair, pushing his sleeves out of the way of his hands. "Kreacher—how many times do I have to—"
Something shuffled out of the way of Sirius' outstretched hands, and several people gathered around the table ducked back and forth to avoid whatever was running about on the floor. Hermione jumped off the bench and screamed.
Then everything went still again. Several order members were sighing impatiently, and further down the table Snape was hissing angrily to McGonagall. Dumbledore remained sitting and entirely impassive to the situation, while the children were all rolling their eyes at one another.
Sirius stood, hand and wand lowered to point at the small rag clad figure that Hermione seemed to be protecting. Both wizard and young witch had formidable looks on their faces.
"He hasn't done anything wrong, Sirius!" Hermione yelled.
"Ah, stupid mudblood is trying to defend Kreacher, what would Mistress think?" the little figure was wailing, holding his hands over his large ears. Tonks blinked at it, it had to be the most absurd looking House Elf she had ever seen—not that she had ever seen very many.
"You see Hermione, it doesn't care, it's calling you nasty names!" said Ron. Hermione shot him a dirty look.
"It's a he Ronald, not an it!" she said.
"Ooh, full name," Bill whispered to Tonks. "He's in trouble now."
"Move, Hermione," Sirius demanded, wand still aimed at the House Elf. "Let me deal with Kreacher."
Hermione crossed her arms across her chest. "No, you're going to hurt him!"
"Now, now," Dumbledore said, rising from his seat. "No one is going to hurt anyone."
"He's not allowed in here during meetings," Sirius said almost sullenly, glaring at the House Elf. Tonks wondered if he knew how foolish he looked.
"That's no reason to try and curse him, Sirius!" Hermione yelled. "If you would only read the brochure I gave you about the Society for the Promotion—"
"Hermione, no one reads that brochure, it's a load of dung." Ron said.
"Ron, you stay quite!" Molly shot her son a look. "Let Dumbledore speak."
"Thank you, Molly," Dumbledore said calmly. "As I said Hermione, no one is going to hurt anyone," he stared pointedly at Sirius. "We should all be kind to Kreacher, we have invaded his home after so many years of solitude after all."
"His home—" Sirius wailed.
"The home of my Mistress!" Kreacher cried out, falling to the floor in a dirty heap. "Oh, how sick she would be if she saw all the nasties in her kitchen! The murders, and the mudbloods, and the filthy shape shifters!"
"That's enough!" Sirius roared, and pushed Hermione aside so he could pull Kreacher off the ground. "I order you to leave this room immediately, and I am still your master and you will obey me!"
The response was hesitant, and Hermione was shooting dirty looks at Sirius all the while, but slowly Kreacher picked himself up and retreated back out of the room. The order members he passed moved out of the way quickly.
"There, that wasn't so difficult was it?" Dumbledore said, and settled back in his seat. "Hermione, Sirius, why don't you sit back down."
"Actually," an older looking black haired witch said. "I think if that is all you wanted to discuss with the children, that we should get back to the meat of this meeting."
"I quite agree," Snape added. "Some of us have actual work to do." He smirked at Sirius as he spoke.
"And I've got to get back work before anyone notices I'm missing," a short balding man, who was leaning against the door said.
"Very well then," said Dumbledore. "If I have your promise children."
There was a small chorus of 'I promise' and a few reluctant nods.
"Ms. Weasley I didn't hear your agreement," Dumbledore said after a moment.
Beside Bill Ginny glared resentfully at the table, but whispered a low 'promise' to appease Dumbledore.
"Good, then upstairs with the lot of you," Molly said, standing up herself and bustling the children out of their chairs. "And I don't want to hear a peep!"
As soon as the children were out of their chairs and out the door with Molly following their seats were quickly filled with various other order members. Tonks suddenly found herself sitting across from an older blond haired witch, and a wizard wearing a funny hat. Next to them Kingsley and Mad-Eye settled in.
Dumbledore was staring down the head of the table to Sirius, who sat opposite him. "Sirius, you know what I said for the children goes equal to you."
"Not a word to Harry, got it," Sirius snapped.
"Very good, now," Dumbledore clapped his hands. "On to happier things. Tonight we have a new member joining us, would you like to introduce yourself Ms. Tonks?"
Tonks blessed whatever deity was listening that Dumbledore had left out the 'Nymphadora' part of her name. It was always so hard to get people to forget her first name in favor of her last once they heard it.
"Sure," she said jumping to her feet. "I'm Tonks, I'm an Auror, I work with Kingsley, Sirius is my mum's cousin, and I'm new…" she nodded her head, figuring that covered everything and took her seat. "Oh, and I'm a Metamorphmagus," she added once she realized what she had left out.
This set out a short string of titters and a few people craned their neck to get a good look at her. She heard Sirius snort, and a wizard near the back made a rude comment that she pushed from her mind, but Dumbledore smiled at her happily as if unaware of the response.
"Now, allow me to make the introductions for the group. I daresay you'd know Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape," the two teachers nodded to her, Tonks smiled at them. "Sirius you've met, as well as Molly, Bill and Arthur," he continued. "That is Hestia Jones and Dedalus Diggle across from you," the witch and wizard smiled politely at her. "As well as Alastor Moody, who I believe you might recognize," Mad-Eye let out a short bark of laughter at Dumbledore's words. "Over here we have Elphias Doge," he motioned to the older wizard by the door, who nodded at her. "Mundungus Fletcher, is beside him, and Sturgis Podmore," she smiled at Sturgis. "Then lastly we have Emmeline Vance," the pretty blond witch who seemed to be in her early thirties smiled at her, which Tonks returned.
"Hello, all," she said, feeling a little silly. She hadn't had to do mass introductions like this since her Hogwarts days. She half expected Dumbledore to suggest a go around the room so everyone could have a chance to say something interesting about themselves.
"Though we also have several members not present, including Charlie Weasley and Rubeus Hagrid, both of which I believe you know," Dumbledore continued. "Also my brother Aberforth Dumbledore, Arabella Figg, and Remus Lupin."
"Where is Lupin tonight?" The wizard—Elphias, Tonks thought—said.
His question was met with stern glares and discreet coughs. Dumbledore ignored him altogether. His neighbor Dung shuffled to his side to whisper something in his ear.
"Now that the formalities are underway perhaps now would be a good time to get down to business," Dumbledore said, face immediately sobering up.
As far as secret society meetings went, this one was rather tame, Tonks thought. Everything Dumbledore had to say was pretty much a repeat of what Kingsley had already told her. Dumbledore suspected that Voldemort was building his armies up again, and he had several members trying to persuade certain groups not to return to Voldemort's side. Apparently Hagrid was off trying to gain the support of the giants and a small scuffle broke out between Snape and Sirius at the mention of Werewolves after someone after Dung asked what was being done about them. Emmeline Vance had started crying, and by then Molly had returned from seeing the children upstairs and had told both Snape and Sirius off for bring up a delicate topic. She had prepared a cup of tea for Emmeline and her sobs had reduced to sniffles after that.
Dumbledore mentioned working on the centaurs for help, but as no one had any real background with any of them, he simply asked McGonagall to speak with him once they reached Hogwarts again so they could arrange something. Snape, as Tonks had been told early, was a working as a double agent and spying on the Death Eaters. His report was probably the most interesting, although he had very little actual news. He simply restated what everyone apparently knew. That You-Know-Who was trying to find means to get into the Department of Mysteries.
"Guard duty," Dumbledore had said after Snape sat back down. "Ms. Tonks, we will be asking you to take your share of the shifts. Everyone takes their turn at the Ministry and watching over Harry. I will ask Kingsley to fill you in after the meeting."
After that, the topic moved to recruiting. It seemed as if Tonks was one of the only real new members. Everyone else was a previous member of the order—even Sirius. The only actual new members were Dung, Bill and Charlie. Apparently the Order had almost been double in numbers the last time around, but there had been many deaths. Molly had needed to excuse herself to wipe away a few tears then. Arthur had followed her out the door, but they both returned several minutes later.
By the time the meeting drew to a close, names and locations where whirling around Tonk's head as she tried to make sense of it all. From what she gathered, Snape was working as a Death Eater, McGonagall was Dumbledore's confidant, Kingsley, Tonks, Arthur and Sturgis were the Ministry insiders, Dung was the crook informant, Emmeline and Hestia were keeping their eyes out at St. Mungo's, Mad-Eye had the political connections, Charlie was seeking foreign associates, Bill was working on the goblins and Hagrid the giants, Deadalus was trying to get in on the Prophet staff, Elphias' specialty was in foreign relations, Aberforth was his brother's confidant working on something secret even to the order, Figg was watching over Harry (since she was a squib), Molly just kept her eyes and ears opened and took care of everyone, Lupin seemed to do a whole manner of things, and Sirius… provided the house and promised not to do anything rash.
She was counting on Kingsley pulling her aside at the Ministry tomorrow to explain things a little better.
The moment the meeting was over they all flooded out into the halls, and Molly bustled through the crowd trying to invite everyone to dinner. In the end, nearly everyone, including Dung who had a business investment going down (which Tonks had to resist the urge to attend as well so she could bring down whomever he happened to be meeting and recollect whatever stolen property was trading hands), and Kingsley (who wanted to return to his wife), decided not to attend. Seeing that no one she knew was sticking around, Tonks tried to back out of dinner, but Sirius and Molly wouldn't hear it.
So, instead she found herself stuck at the table somewhere between Sirius, Ginny and Hermione, watching as the twins levitated dinner all about the room and Molly screamed her head off at them. Apparently this was perfectly normal dinner behavior, as the rest of the room seemed to ignore them with careful practice, but Tonks found herself giggling into her hand.
Sirius jostled her with an elbow. "Don't you feel like you're back in the Great Hall again with this lot?" Tonks was ready to respond, but Sirius continued. "Just wait until Harry and Remus show up, and then it will feel like the Marauders are back together again!"
Again, Tonks opened her mouth to speak, this time to ask about the Marauders, but found Hermione shaking her head firmly from across the table. Sirius didn't notice, but then when Ginny patted her softly on the leg Tonks felt that she should probably keep her mouth shut.
"So, what do you do Tonks?" Hermione asked, speaking a little more loudly than normal.
"I'm an Auror," she said, and popped a baby carrot into her mouth. Molly had her back turned, so she hoped she wouldn't notice- she had already snapped at Ron for doing the same thing only a minute earlier.
"Really?" Ron's head jerked from watching Fred and George get scolded, to stare wide eyed at Tonks. "I reckon I might like to do that."
"You and Harry both," Sirius put in. "I suppose you might end up in training together."
The table quieted up again, and this time Molly heard the comment and strode forward.
"Well, Tonks, I am so glad you could join us," she said. "I think I recall Charlie talking about you a few times during his Hogwarts days."
Arthur chuckled and took a seat at the head of the table. "Yes, something about two months of detention from Minerva."
"Blimey, two months?" Fred chipped in. "That's a little more than she usually doles out."
If Tonks was a woman with any decency she would have blushed and apologized for getting Molly and Arthur's son into so much trouble. Instead she grinned broadly. "Yup, for hiding catnip toys all through her office and classroom."
Sirius started laughing before any of the other children, but George was the one who raised his hand for a high five, and as Tonks had expected Molly gave her a controlled glare.
"Funny," Molly snipped through tight lips. "I don't remember Charlie telling me about that one. How do you think you came to hear about it Arthur?"
Suddenly aware that he'd given up something he wasn't supposed to know, Arthur began to wiggle in his chair. "Oh, um… well, dear, it really isn't a big deal or—"
"Not a big deal, Arthur?" Molly yelled, voice rising back up again. "You don't think my son being punished for blatantly disrespecting his head of house is worth telling me? Oh, when I get a hold of Charlie next time… he lied… he deliberately…"
What Charlie deliberately did, was apparently too bad even for words, for Molly only let out a long angry breath. Arthur at least looked panicked.
"Now, Molly… I hardly think there is any need to let Charlie know… it was years ago—" he glanced desperately at Tonks. "Years, wasn't it Tonks?"
She was about a second slow on the uptake, but then she nodded her head enthusiastically at Molly. "Oh yeah, absolute ages! Really, it was my fault, I talked him into it—he was only trying to impress me 'cause he wanted to take me to Hogsmeade."
Like Tonks had muttered the magic words, Molly calmed down. Her expression relaxed, she sat serenely back down in her chair and gave Tonks a charming smile. "Really, Tonks? I wasn't aware that you and Charlie had been involved. You know he's still single," Tonks blanched and the twins immediately started snickering, worse Ginny and Hermione were looking at her like it was the best idea they had ever heard. "I'm sure as soon as he hears you've been coming around, he'll want to take you out and show you about. You know, I think I'll write him a letter tonight."
"Oh, don't forget Bill, Mum," Fred put in with a snicker.
"If he has time in between all those English lessons," George added. Sirius snorted into his napkin and nearly choked on a roasted potato.
"Molly, I really don't think that's necessary," Tonks said hurriedly before she found herself with a reunion with someone who ironically really was an ex-boyfriend. Though she wasn't sure you could count two weeks in their fourth year as a qualifying relationship.
"Yes," Arthur added, seemingly on Tonk's side. "He's quite busy in Romania, you know that dear."
"Oh," Molly said, deflated. "I suppose you're right," she flashed Tonks a sympathetic smile, which Tonks tried to mirror, though judging from Sirius giggles she was doing a horrid job at it. "I'll just have to let you know when he's in town next. Though, you could write him…"
"Mum," Ron protested, rolling his eyes.
"Alright, alright," said Molly.
"I've got a hippogriff upstairs I could probably set you up with," Sirius added in a low voice, while the Weasley's drifted to another topic of conversation. "If we're still playing the dating game. How do you feel about feathers and hooves?"
She grinned at him. "Downright sexy, if I do say so myself."
"Interesting!" Sirius laughed. "In that case, I've got a nice wolf to throw in as a consolation prize. Do you mind a shedding and a bit drool?"
"Mmm don't tease me, Sirius," Tonks retaliated. "Now you're just being cruel. How can you dangle hopes like that in front of a poor lonely girl?"
"So, no prince charming I take it?" Sirius added, a little more seriously now.
Tonks winced and speared a piece of beef with her fork. "Usually the prince like's it when he's the one who gets to fight the dragon," she popped the bite in her mouth and chewed it thoughtfully. "Also, when he throws the princess over his steed, it makes a better picture when she doesn't fall off the other side."
Ginny tapped her politely on the shoulder. "Could you tell us about being a Metamorphmagus, Tonks?" she asked.
Tonks finished off her bite, and looked to find Hermione and Ginny both staring at her with a look of expectance. "Sure…" she said hesitantly. "There's not much to tell though."
"You're the first known Metamorphmagus in over a century," Hermione said. "The last was actually Dorris Hefflebun of New York, New York, in the United States. She mainly used her abilities to run a popular gentleman's club in the city. Is it true that each new appearance you take on becomes your real one, or do you revert to a natural state after a prolonged period of time?"
"Don't worry, she always sounds like that," Ginny told her helpfully, not bothering to lower her voice.
"What, like she's reading from a book?" Tonks said, trying to respond so Hermione wouldn't hear her and take offence.
"I happen to like books," said Hermione, not looking perturbed at all. "Though there aren't many written about Metamorphmagus' at all. Which is why I am so curious."
"Don't take offence," Sirius stated, shoving several pieces of beef into his mouth. "She had Moony up for hours the first night she was here. Had all sorts of bizarre questions to ask."
"I was curious," Hermione said. "I didn't want to waste the opportunity. It wasn't exactly appropriate back at school and he left so quickly after—all that business," her voice trailed off and she blushed at the table, but then looked back up at Tonks expectantly. Obviously she still wanted her question answered.
Tonks shrugged. "No harm done or meant, I was just curious myself. Er—what was the question again?"
"About your natural state and shifting," said Hermione.
"Oh, right. Well, I have a natural state, but I don't return to it after a certain amount of time. I can only go back to it if I remember it very carefully or if I am stripped of my abilities."
"How does that happen?" Ginny asked.
"Well," Tonks thought. "Like when my puppy died when I was a little girl, I couldn't change my appearance for weeks. I was too upset to morph. I resorted back to the way I normally look until I was feeling better. Also in my sixth year I caught Dragon Pox and got very sick and I couldn't morph then either, not until I was feeling better."
"I see," Hermione said as if making a critical diagnosis. "So, stress and health is a factor?"
"I suppose so," Tonks said. "Though, like you said, there aren't many of us, so I don't have a lot to compare too. Dorris Hefflewatsists didn't exactly leave me instructions about all this. I just have to run through it trial and error. Puberty was a bitch," she told Sirius, so that he would be included in the conversation.
Sirius laughed loudly, and to her surprise, so did Ginny, though Hermione just ignored them all.
"So do you ever unconsciously morph? Or is every change deliberate?" said Hermione.
Tonks shrugged, almost wishing she could have a moment to eat in peace. Molly's cooking was quite good, and she had barely had an opportunity to sample it yet.
"Sometimes," she answered, and blushed as she thought of the times that she did morph without knowing—not that she would share that with the kids, or the kid's parents, or her cousin for that matter. It was far too personal for dinner conversation, no matter how brash she might be. "Not usually though."
"Wait hold up," George said, leaning across Ginny so he could look at Tonks. "You can change any part of your appearance?"
Tonks screwed her nose up and thought about what she wanted to change. She imagined that her long black hair was a purple bob, and then she… shifted.
She received a slight round of applause for her efforts and even a sharp whistle from one of the twins.
"Now, really, dear," Molly said, fork raised halfway to her mouth and one eyebrow arched disdainfully. "I thought you looked much better with the black."
"Nah," Sirius said, slapping Tonks heartily on the back and nearly causing her to fall face first into her stew. "I think this place looks better with a bit of color."
"Here, here!" Fred said, raising his goblet to the table. His brother was the only taker, but they toasted anyway.
"Kingsley has had nothing but good things to report back to us, you know," Arthur said, speaking up for almost the first time since Tonks had met him. "He has been watching you around the Ministry for some time now. I must admit, all of us around the Ministry have been watching you to see if you would be a good addition. Personally, I think you'll be fantastic for our little group."
Tonks smiled at him, genuinely touched. "Thank you Arthur, that means a lot. I must admit I was quite nervous about coming tonight."
"You'll fit in after no time at all, I'm sure," Sirius said. Tonks looked at him. The words themselves were reassuring, but the tone that Sirius had used made it seem like he had just cursed her.
She looked at the rest of the table who was suddenly quite busy with their dinner plates.
"Right," she said, adapting a huge smile, that she hoped didn't look too forced. "This is fantastic Molly, do you always cook?"
"Better than Hogwarts," Ron said through a mouthful of carrots.
"Chew your food, Ron, and don't speak with your mouthful," Molly chided him, though she looked touched by the compliment.
"Really it is," said Tonks. "If you ever need any help, I'd be glad to lend a hand," she added, though she almost hoped she wouldn't be taken up on the offer. It had been a long time since she had attempted to do any cooking herself, and she wasn't sure she'd try the results on herself let alone a table full of people she wanted to impress.
"I might do that, dear," Molly said. "We'll probably be having a much smaller get together next week, you are more than welcome to stop by a bit early if you want."
"Don't be ridiculous," Sirius said, and for a moment Tonks thought he was going to say something insulting. "Tonk's can come by any time she likes, she's my family after all," he nodded to her. "In fact I hope you do."
"Sure, Sirius, I'd like that," said Tonks. "Though I know my Mum'll be frightfully jealous."
The doorbell cut through the dinner conversation, followed by the immediate screams of the portraits in the front entrance. Sirius and Arthur were on their feet and out the door immediately, the former cursing as loud as possible and shouting out all sorts of charms.
"You'll have to forgive Sirius," Molly said in a hushed voice as the man in question disappeared down the hall. "He's a bit bitter about his situation right now."
"Just doesn't want to be locked up in an old house," Ron muttered to his plate darkly. "Like Harry."
Hermione shot him a look. "Yes, well, its for their own protection."
"It's not like Harry did anything though, Hermione," Ginny added, shooting a look at the other girl. "He's not a criminal!"
"Neither is Sirius!" Ron hissed back. "He's innocent!"
"Not in the eyes of the Ministry he isn't," Molly finished firmly, eyeing the rest of the children. "In the end, that is what matters. This isn't any of your business, children, and I don't want to hear any more about it."
It was lucky that the conversation ended them, because the door burst open once more, and Sirius himself strode back into the room. "Kingsley for you, Tonks," he said. "Auror business."
"Right," she said, immediately dropping her fork and pushing herself away from the table. "Nice to meet you guys, Molly thanks for the cooking, and Sirius I'll try and stop by on my day off."
There was a brief chorus of goodbyes, a happy wave from Ginny and a bawdy wink from George and then Tonks made her way back to the front door. If Kingsley was bothering her this late at night it had to be something important.
"Got everything with you, Tonks? Or do you need to swing by the Ministry?" Kinsley asked as soon as she came into sight.
"Ready for business, boss," she answered, noticing that both Arthur and Kingsley were looking very grave. "What's going on?"
The men exchanged a look. "Keep you voice low," Arthur cautioned. "I don't want the others hearing this before things are cleared up." He shot an uneasy look down the hall. "Mainly Sirius," he added.
"I thought this was Auror stuff, is it for the Order then?" she asked.
Again, the men glanced at one another. Tonks resisted the childish urge to stomp her foot. Really, all of this secrecy was getting a little annoying.
"We've got to hide a werewolf actually," Kingsley said. He was staring at her carefully, probably trying to judge her reaction.
She just blinked back. "Again, Auror business or Order?"
Arthur sighed in apparent relief and smiled at Kingsley. "Good, you told us she was a smart one, glad you were right."
"Order work," Kingsley said, looking slightly more relaxed himself. "Technically our jobs are at risk if we are caught. I'll explain on the way."
Tonks wasn't so sure she liked the idea of getting fired over whatever it was she had just agreed to do, but this was what she had signed up for. She might be dead clumsy and have an abnormal affection for pink, but she was an Auror for a reason. She was damn good at her job, if she thought so herself, and she intended to make sure these people from the Order knew that as well.
Once they made their quick goodbye to Arthur, Tonks had expected for Kingsley to give her some apparation coordinates, or even try to test her again, but she hadn't expected the Knight Bus. So once she settled down in one of the seats (they had decided against the beds) she was surprised to hear what he told her next.
"Umbridge has managed to set a new series of laws against werewolves," Kingsley began, pulling a folded up form from the inside of his robes and passing it to her. "Effective first thing tomorrow morning."
Tonks unfolded the parchment and let her eyes scan over it. It was a memo signed by Umbridge and approved by the Minister. The time stamp was only marked from an hour prior.
"Search and seizure of all werewolf property?" she said, scrunching up her face and trying to understand what all of this meant. What was the significance of this to Kingsley of all people?
Kingsley accepted the parchment back and tucked it back into his robes. "It means that we are going to have a busy day tomorrow. All Aurors are going to be going to the last known addresses of all registered werewolves and seizing their property and belongings for Ministry control. The werewolves themselves will be asked to submit themselves to the Registry for re-evaluating and licensing. Those deemed dangerous will immediately be sent to conditioning and possibly imprisonment."
"What?" Tonks asked, not believing what she was hearing. How did the Ministry have that kind of control? "Why?"
"Though Fudge isn't acknowledging the return of the You-Know-Who, it seems that he is trying to come down extra hard on dark creatures. It seems to be his way of making sure they aren't going to join up with any Death Eaters."
"I don't understand," Tonks said, trying to put everything in perspective. It didn't seem to make much sense.
Kinsley sighed and rubbed a big hand over his face. "He's using this as an excuse to search through all of the werewolf belongings and," he shrugged. "To be honest I think he'll sell of whatever property they own."
"It sounds like Fudge is trying to provoke them," Tonks said. "Wouldn't that make werewolves more anxious to join up with Death Eaters."
Kingsley smiled at her. "You see the flaw in his logic then." Then he sighed. The joke was no longer funny.
"Well any werewolf that is registered is probably not going to join up with You-Know-Who any time soon. It's the ones who aren't registered he should be looking out for."
"Exactly," he said. "Though, I really doubt that much of this is really about Death Eaters and You-Know-Who. Umbridge is the one who issued the series of reforms about werewolf rights and regulations for the past five years. This however," he patted the front of his robes. "Is the most extreme step yet. Frankly, I was lucky to catch it at all."
Tonks settled back into her seat, lurching only slightly as the Knight Bus jerked to a stop and let off a passenger. She glanced outside at the night sky and did a few quick calculations in her head. "It's a full moon tonight," she said, surprising herself.
Kingsley glanced at her. "That's not a problem is it?"
"Well, I mean… that's rather cruel isn't it?" Tonks said. "If this is all going to start first thing tomorrow morning and none of the werewolves had any notice about it at all. They'll all wake up tomorrow after their transformation to a bunch of Aurors banging at the door taking away what little rights and possessions they have left."
"I have a feeling Umbridge arranged it that way. This isn't going to be a pleasant job," he said. "I'm sorry to say that you won't be well rested to do it either, this is probably going to take all night."
Tonks sighed, sleep was so hard to get these days, and now with the Order it seemed like it was only to become even more elusive. Guard duty at the Ministry, and over Harry Potter and now late night runs to werewolf homes? "What exactly are we doing then? Starting early?"
"Merlin no," Kingsley said with a shiver. "A member of the Order is a werewolf," he said. "We need to get his belongings to Grimmauld and him to the Hogwarts before we have to bang down his door tomorrow."
She started to nod, and then stopped. "Wait—Hogwarts? We're taking a werewolf to Hogwarts? A school full of children?" Come to think of it, why was that the most startling of the things Kingsley had just told her? "An Order member is a werewolf?" And she was going to be expected to take him on a full moon while in his werewolf form?
"Do you have a problem with being in the Order with a werewolf?" Kingsley snapped tersely.
Taken aback by his sudden change in attitude, Tonks thought about it. Though it startled some people to hear it, dark creatures were kind of her forte. Though working as an Auror had been her first choice of career it had taken awhile to get into the program and even longer to finish it. At Hogwarts Care of Magical Creatures had been her best subject, and after she graduated she had taken her interest a bit further. She had worked in various offices in the ministry and eventually ended up on Level 4: Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Beasts. Her jobs had covered everything from hunting down dark creatures, Centaur Censure, and even werewolf registration.
However much experience she had with different types of creatures, she had never thought of the possibility of working with one. It was quite a different thing to run through a series of tests with werewolves and sit down to tea with one. She wasn't sure how she thought about it. Certainly she wasn't daft enough to think that a werewolf was dangerous at any other time other than the full moon, but then again it was also very difficult to forget someone was a werewolf once you knew the truth.
"I don't think so," she told Kingsley truthfully. "Though I don't suppose I will know until I meet him. I mean-- if he's a right bastard, I know I'll sure as hell have a problem on my hands. Then again, I suppose if I can be expected to deal with Snape, another won't be too bad."
Kingsley actually cracked a wide grin at that. "Bravo, girl, good choice. I can assure you though, that he is an entirely good man."
"So—why Hogwarts?" Tonks asked still wanting her earlier questions answered now Kingsley was pleased with her again. "I don't care how nice a bloke this guy is, I don't think a school would be the best place for a raging monster."
"Not Hogwarts technically," Kingsley admitted. "The Shrieking Shack. Dumbledore made me a portkey," something jingled in his pocket. "We'll just need to slip it around his neck, activate it, and he'll be out of the way."
Tonks blinked, she knew she wasn't a slow girl, but she was still confused—too much had happened today, and it was getting late. "Shrieking Shack? The haunted house in Hogsemeade?"
"The one and the same," Kingsley confirmed. "It's where he used to transform when he was at Hogwarts."
At that Tonks actually burst out laughing. "At Hogwarts? Transforming? I can't say I've ever heard of a werewolf going to Hogwarts. A witch or wizard becoming a werewolf later on in life—yeah, but not the other way around!"
"Hey," Kingsley said, raising an eyebrow. "If it wasn't for the fact that werewolves can't become Aurors, he'd probably be your boss right now instead of me."
That sobered her up. "Right, good man, part of the Order, better Auror than me, just happens to be a werewolf, got it."
"See that you remember it then," he added.
She glanced at him quickly to see if he was smiling, but his expression had remained stony.
"Penwith, Cornwall!" The conductor shouted out as the bus came to a screaming halt.
Tonks fell out of her chair, and landed on her bum. She stared jealously as Kingsley stood up with ease and paid the conductor.
"Thank you, Stan," he said, dropping some silver into his hand. "Have a good night then."
"Don't forget cho're gal," Stan told him, giving Tonks a strange look.
Feeling cheeky, Tonks stood up as carefully as possible and shot the conductor a hard look, careful to make sure her Auror badge was easily seen pinned to her robes. She probably would have made a rather good exit if she hadn't ruined the whole effect by falling down the stairs and hitting dirt with a soft thud.
"We really are going to have to work on your coordination skills, girl," Kingsley told her, as he helped her up and led her away from the rapidly departing bus.
"I'd say I agree, but it would be totally useless," she said.
Kingsley shrugged and headed off down a slightly beat up old road.
"We're walking the rest of the way?" she asked. "How far is it?"
"A mile or two," was the answer she received.
"Can't we apparate?" she asked.
It was obvious that Kingsley was done with conversation time, so Tonks tried to be quiet. Unfortunately patience and silence were not two of her highest virtues. She only lasted two minutes before she opened her mouth again.
"Why can't we apparate?" she asked.
The edges of Kingsley's lips twitched. "The house is protected against unwanted visitors."
"Ah," she said, and tried to think of something else to add.
"How are we going to get a transformed werewolf to the Shrieking Shack?"
"I'm hoping he will come quietly," Kingsley told her.
Tonks tried to picture a scenario where a werewolf would cooperate and failed. "How is that going to happen exactly?"
"Wolfsbane Potion," he answered shortly.
Tonks decided she had pushed her luck then. Kingsley certainly did not seem like he wanted to answer any more questions. She tried to occupy herself with counting her steps instead. After a few minutes of this, when she decided that she took two steps for every one Kingsley took, she tried to attempt a dialog again.
"So…" she started.
He glanced at her, and Tonks could just read the expression on his face. If you so much as say another word girl… Unable to help herself while she thought of Kingsley's response, she giggled.
"Just shut your mouth and take a right, Tonks," he sighed.
"There's not path," she answered, but she took the right anyways.
Kingsley chose not to answer, and Tonks wasn't exactly surprised. She went back to counting her footsteps. It wasn't terribly exciting.
The house was normal enough looking. It wasn't very big, probably two bedrooms at the most, maybe a den and a kitchen, and there was a small porch out front. There weren't any nearby neighbors, but that was usually the case with most Wizarding houses. Though there was quite a nice garden planted to the side, and at least a small attempt at pleasant landscaping.
Kingsley walked up the stairs to the front porch and straight through the front door without knocking. Tonks followed, though she felt a bit uncomfortable barging in. Her mother would be proud that all those years of pounding manners and etiquette in her head might have sunk in finally.
The front parlor was nice, there wasn't much furniture, and most of it was mismatched, but it looked quite comfortable. Though, Tonks thought that the sparse atmosphere of the place was a blessing. After all, she was to expected to empty the place out before the night was through and she wasn't exactly looking forward to hauling around a bunch of heavy pieces of furniture.
"He'll be in the cellar," Kingsley said, motioning to a dark door to the left. "We should probably take him to the Shrieking Shack before doing anything else."
"Right," said Tonks. "What's the plan, boss?"
Kingsley raised his eyebrow at her. "I told you, he's on the potion. We just need to raise a shield and send him the portkey." He reached in his robes and brought out a collar.
At the sight of the portkey, Tonks burst out laughing. "That Dumbledore!" She giggled. "Genius!"
The portkey was a thick red dog collar, easily big enough for a wolf's neck. The best part was that a large golden bell hung off the front. Kingsley shook it, and the bell jingled accordingly, causing Tonks to snort again.
"I rather thought so," Kingsley said. "I'll take care of the portkey, I just need you to maintain the shield. He should be relatively calm, but unfortunately even with the potion if you dangle prey in front of a werewolf, the desire is still going to be there."
Tonks shuddered slightly at the thought. Werewolves were not her favorite, but this had to be done. "Ready when you are then," she said.
Wands out in front of them Tonks followed Kingsley down the flight of cement stairs to the cellar and to another door.
"Set?" Kingsley asked, turning to her for confirmation one last time.
"Mmm," she said by means of an answer, and cast the shielding charm that would keep them from being an easy target if this werewolf was hungry.
Kingsley pushed the door open and they stumbled in.
Inside a rather nice fire burned in the hearth, and an old wireless filled the area with a pleasant chorus of music. Sitting on the floor, in the middle of the room, pillows all around him, was the wolf. He was quite big, one of the largest Tonks had ever seen certainly. He had a thick coat of steely grey fur, and large golden eyes. However the first thing that Tonks noticed was that his mouth was wide open and she had quite a clear view of his long white and sharp canines.
The wolf closed its mouth, and tilted its head in apparent confusion.
"Umbridge's got a new set of reforms effective tomorrow," Kingsley told the wolf. "We need to get you out of here. You'll be spending the rest of the night in the Shrieking Shack. We'll take care of everything else."
The wolf gave a brief nod, but his nose was already working. The shield wouldn't do anything to mask their scent, and if the potion wasn't in full effect, the smell of two humans to bite might prove to be too much to control.
"Er—maybe we should hurry this along?" Tonks whispered to Kingsley while the wolf stood up.
The wolf was easily more massive than she thought standing, and she was sure if they were face to face they would nearly be on eye level with one another. Tonks watched in horror while it took one step forward and then another.
"We've got the portkey," Kingsley was saying, apparently not comforted the wolf's advancement either. "We'll just send you on the way now. Meet back at Headquarters when the moon sets."
Again the wolf's head tilted, though his nose was working furiously now. He was only paces away. Then, he seemed to come to some sort of conclusion and he stopped to shake himself.
"Ready?" Kingsley said, holding the collar in one hand and his wand in another.
The wolf shook himself again, and gave a sharp bark. This time however, he backed up several paces and lowered his head to the ground, baring his teeth.
A slight whimper escaped Tonks' lips, and she was sure she heard Kingsley's sharp intake of breath. However the wolf only bent down low enough to retrieve the large bone that he had been enjoying when they barged in. Treat in mouth, the wolf sat back on his haunches and nodded.
Kingsley sighed again, this time in relief and flicked his wand so that the collar eased through their shield and wrapped itself around the werewolf's neck. The bell had time to jingle once and then with a crack the wolf disappeared.
Tonks let the shield drop and let out the breath she hadn't realized she had been holding in. Kingsley stepped away and shivered.
"Thank goodness for that potion," he said, shaking once more. "Though it still gives me the creeps to see him like that."
Tonks blinked. "Have you seen him like that before?"
"Once," Kingsley admitted in a small voice. "He's not very shy about it once people know what he is, believe it or not."
She laughed. "Really? I would think most werewolves wouldn't want to be seen like that by their friends. I know I wouldn't."
Kingsley raised an eyebrow. "Well, he's a peculiar fellow. He'll hide his secret like the devil until you know and then…" He shook his head. "Let's just get to work. We only have a few hours to do this, and if we finish quickly we can probably go home and catch an hour or two of sleep before work."
As it turned out, emptying the house of all of its belongings took much less time than anticipated. There wasn't much to pack. There were only a few pieces of furniture, a small closet full of robes, plenty of books and such. Tonks was the one who found the attic, hidden in the back corner of the smaller bedroom. Inside contained a number of already packed boxes that were easy to shrink further and fit into the bag Kingsley had brought along for transport. The kitchen was relatively spare, and Kingsley made short work of it.
Still, by the time they were finished it was already well into morning, and Tonks was starting to feel the effects. Certainly, she was no stranger to all-nighters, but it didn't mean she liked them any more than the next person. When Kingsley met her back in the front parlor, the last shrunken package from the kitchen in his hand, she was sprawled out on the floor dozing.
"Are we done yet?" she asked, squinting through heavy lidded eyes.
He rubbed at his face, not looking much better. "Yes, I think that's everything." He glanced around the empty room while Tonks struggled to sit back up. "We need to get back to Number 12, and drop this stuff off."
Tonks groaned aloud. "We can't apparate can we?" Hadn't Kingsley said something about barriers around the place earlier?
"Nope. Back on your feet, girl," he said. Tonks pulled herself up. She knew he had meant to be a little gruffer, but it was obvious from his lack of enthusiasm that he was feeling the late—or should it be early—hour as well as her.
Somehow she managed to sling her share of the luggage over one shoulder and stumble out the door behind Kingsley. This time, rather than try and occupy herself with counting steps or picking conversation, she was just happy she could stay awake. It seemed to take a great deal of effort just to keep one foot in front of the other and support her weight. Kingsley faired only marginally better than her, nearly tripping over a small ridge and dropping his luggage.
Then finally he seemed to deem them far enough away from the main property to apparate.
She reappeared in Grimmauld Place kitchen, now that she knew where she was going. Kingsley popped in right next to her only a moment later.
"Where do we stash the stuff?" she asked, stifling a yawn.
"Upstairs will do," Sirius said, striding through the door and looking far too awake for the hour. "How'd it go? Moony at the shack?"
"Been there for a while now," Kingsley admitted, striding forward and throwing his sack into Sirius' arms.
"Can we save the catch up for later?" Tonks asked. "I'm about to fall asleep. I want to get this stuff stashed so I can go home and grab the," she squinted at the clock on the far wall and groaned. "Two hours of sleep I have left."
"Feel free to just pass out here," Sirius said. "There's plenty of room."
"I think I'm going to have to take you up on the offer, Sirius," Kingsley said. "I told the wife not to expect me back after I heard about the reforms. I take it Arthur filled you in?"
A sour look crossed Sirius' face, but Tonks could barely pay attention.
Sensing another outburst, or at the very least a long discussion, Tonks sighed. "Really, I'm going to go do this now. I've got to get to sleep!" she said.
The two men waved their hands in dismissal so Tonks brushed past them both and made her way back to the staircase she had seen by the front door when she had first arrived—was it yesterday evening now?
Once she made it to the first floor landing she started checking doors. The first three she attempted were all locked, but on her forth try she walked into a small bedroom containing a four-poster bed and a generous sized wardrobe.
She really had only intended to drop the luggage off on the floor and head home, but the sight of the bed was far too inviting. First she told herself she would only sit down for a second and rest, then once she realized how good that felt she leaned back against the pillows and decided to let her eyes close for just a moment. But Sirius had said she could stay… Not caring anymore, she let herself drift to sleep… she would deal with tomorrow, tomorrow.
Unfortunately tomorrow came all too soon in the form of someone banging heavily on her door. Her first instinct was to shout until the noise stopped so she could go back to sleep, but by then her eyes had flickered open to take in her surroundings. She had no idea where she was… the dark, dusty room certainly didn't look like her bright and colorful bedroom.
It was only after she sat up in bed and realized she was still fully dressed that she remembered the events of last night. The meeting… the werewolf… packing up the house… coming back to Grimmauld Place and deciding to spend the night.
There was a crick in her neck and her ankles felt stiff from where her boots had been squeezing her all night. How had she fallen asleep with those on?
"Wake up, dear," Molly's voice said through the door. "Kingsley just woke up and he says he expects you in the kitchen in five minutes."
Tonks let out a whine and resisted the urge to fall back into bed. "Tell him I'm on my way," she shouted back and swung her legs over the side of the bed.
She had never been a morning person, but as an Auror she was expected to maintain reasonable working hours—and often not so reasonable hours. Like working through the dead of night. Though, she reasoned, technically that was Order work, so she really couldn't complain. But when she had thought she was signing up for the Order she didn't think it would involve becoming a temporary moving service for other members. In any case it was far too early to be thinking about such things.
Since she had fallen asleep fully clothed, there really wasn't much to do to get ready for the day. Of course, she wasn't exactly feeling very clean and fresh, but being able to morph her appearance did help a bit. For instance, she didn't need to comb out her hair, just pop in long lime green locks to match her eyes. It was a bit more drastic than she usually went to work with, but she felt that this morning she would need all the extra perky she could get.
Someone was knocking on the door again.
"Darn, Molly, I'll be down in a second," she yelled while stretching her arms over her head.
"Can I come in?" responded very different, very distinctly male voice.
Startled, Tonks stopped stretching, arms still hanging above her. "Okay?" she said.
The door opened and she had her first look of the werewolf from the night before. He was tall and thin, dressed in baggy tattered robes. She was surprised to see that his sandy hair was streaked with the same grey of his wolf's fur, though his face was only faintly lined and still young. However, it was what was around his neck that made him instantly recognizable, and therefore immensely hilarious.
She burst out laughing at the sight.
He glowered at her, bell around his neck tinkling slightly. "I hope you don't mind the intrusion," he said sharply, obviously not amused. "But this is my room, and I could use a few more hours of sleep."
Opening her mouth to respond, Tonks decided that perhaps her comments would not be appreciated. Instead she just nodded and slipped past him and out into the hall. As the door shut behind her she heard the continued ringing as he walked back to the bed and tried desperately not to laugh.
The kitchen was full of other early morning risers wishing they were still abed, except Molly who was disgustingly happy. The older woman was bouncing around from the skillet-to-skillet preparing breakfast and humming to herself. Arthur and Kingsley were seated at the table, already enjoying a cup of tea and a plate full of eggs and Sirius was leaning on the counter thumbing through the morning edition of the Prophet.
"Don't you ever sleep?" Tonks asked him, as she noticed the slack expression on his face. He certainly looked like he needed some more sleep, but he wasn't acting tired.
He just shrugged. "Slept enough in Azkaban," he said, eyes not even moving from the article he was reading.
"Have a seat and I'll bring you breakfast," Molly told her, ushering her back to the table.
Tonks allowed herself to be led, and gratefully sunk into the offered seat. She didn't know how she was going to make it through this day. Kicking werewolves out of their homes and robbing them of their possessions wasn't exactly a motivating drive to remain awake either.
"I ran into the resident werewolf upstairs," she said. "Don't you think it's a bit cruel to keep that portkey around his neck?"
Sirius set down the paper and joined them at the table. "Moony's here? When did he pop in?"
"Yes, I met him on the stairs," Molly said from the stove. "He needs a bit of rest, the poor dear."
Kingsley snorted. "I expect he doesn't have his wand, and it's unlikely any portkey of Dumbledore's is going to come off without one," he said. A smile was tugging on his lips. "Wish he had come in through the kitchen, I think that's something I'd like to see."
"What portkey?" Sirius asked, looking from Kingsley to Tonks.
"Whose got his wand?" Arthur asked, picking up Sirius' abandoned paper and spreading it out before him. "He'll probably want it back when he wakes up and is in a better mood."
Kingsley jerked his thumb upstairs. "Put it in the study with the rest of his things," he said.
"What about the portkey?" Sirius asked again, obviously not enjoying being ignored.
Tonks took pity on him. "Dumbledore made him a portkey last night to take him to the Shrieking Shack," she resisted the urge to smile. "Uh… it was a…" she stopped to giggle.
"A dog collar," Kingsley supplied, doing a much better job at keeping a straight face than her. "Complete with bell." Sirius burst out laughing. "Actually we were thinking of getting one for you as well," he added, which shut Sirius up immediately—at least for a moment.
"Alright… this I have got to see," he said after a second of silence and jumped up from his seat.
"Sirius Black you leave that man alone!" Molly chided, brandishing her spatula at him. "You know very well he needs his rest!"
Sirius ducked Molly's advances and exited the room with an unusual sort of cackle and Tonks could hear him pounding down the hall and up the stairs.
Arthur chuckled into his tea and shook his head. "At least Remus is back, Sirius is much easier to handle when he is around."
"Remus?" Tonks asked as she cut her omelet. "The werewolf bloke? I thought Sirius called him Moony?"
Molly set down her own plate of breakfast and took a seat next to her. "Sirius calls him that," she said in a tone that showed just how much she approved of the nickname. "It's supposed to be funny, I think."
"Remus Lupin," Kingsley supplied, setting down his fork. "His name is Remus Lupin, no matter what Sirius calls him."
"Ah," Tonks said, trying to think back to what she had heard from the meeting last night. There hadn't been much mention of Lupin, but for the most part all of the discussion that had taken place in his absence had treated him favorably. "What time do we need to get out of here?"
"As soon as you finish eating," Kingsley said. "Then we'll head out. Don't forget," he glared at her. "You aren't supposed to know about Umbridge's reforms. You'll need to act like it is a surprise. You too, Arthur."
Arthur nodded. "No problem. I probably won't be hearing about it from anyone important anyway. No mention of anything in the paper."
"I don't expect there to be," Molly said. "Not with Fudge looming over the staff. No, they're to busy slandering against poor Harry."
Kingsley cleared his throat awkwardly, and Arthur suddenly became very interested in whatever article he was reading. Tonks thought that it was rather a good time to head out so she set her fork down. "Ready to go, boss?" she asked the grateful looking Kingsley.
"Better get this over with," he said. "Molly thanks for the hospitality as always, I'll be seeing you some time next week."
"Thanks, Molly," Tonks said, standing up. "And thank Sirius when he comes back down."
At the mention of Sirius there was suddenly a loud commotion from upstairs followed by a sharp bang and several high pitched shouts.
Molly dropped her fork on her plate with a slight clatter and slammed her hands down on the table. "That is it! He is going to wake the children if he keeps this up."
"Don't worry, dear," Arthur told her calmly. "Our broad can sleep through anything, you know that."
Molly looked ready to argue, so Tonks was rather pleased when Kingsley widened his eyes and gestured for her to follow him out into the hall.
"It's best not to draw that woman's attention when she feels like arguing," he said as they made their way to the front door.
He stopped abruptly, and Tonks walked into his back.
"What's—?" she asked, and then stopped as she caught sight of Sirius on the stairs.
"Shut up," he said sullenly.
"How did that happen?" Kingsley asked, as Tonks stifled a snort of laughter. Somehow Sirius had ended up with Remus' collar, and he was sitting extremely still to keep the bell quiet.
Sirius glared at them. "Stole my wand," he muttered under his breath.
Kingsley began to chuckle. "Told you he was a good wizard didn't I, Tonks?" he told her.
Tonks didn't bother to fight a smile herself, though she did feel sorry for Sirius. "You let him steal your wand?" she asked.
"Don't let his quiet demeanor fool you," he said. "He always was a bigger marauder than the lot of us."
"Right," Tonks said, and pulled out her wand. "Need some help with that?"
Looking relieved, Sirius nodded enthusiastically, and then winced as he the bell jerked up and down and started tinkling.
She laughed once more and then summoned the collar to her. It unwrapped itself and flew straight to her hand.
"I'd wait until he's feeling a bit more like himself to retaliate, mate," Kingsley said, as he headed for the door. "I want you in your cubicle in ten, Tonks," he said and he left.
Tonks nodded and smiled at Sirius. "Good luck, cousin," she said and headed for the door herself without waiting for a reply.