Chapter One:

The New Recruit

"Tonks! Hold the lift!" The booming voice made Tonks leap into action. She shot out both her arms just in time to have the doors bang painfully into them. She was both glad and distressed to find it was not just some other junior Auror or law enforcement officer, but one of her superiors, which she had risked amputation for. On one hand she had looked polite and ready to work beyond the call of duty (well she was known for her overactive imagination), on the other hand she now had to spend an entire lift ride with a superior, and try as hard as she could not to have what her Auror partner called 'word vomit'.

Tonks had been an Auror for a little under a year and she was still at the stage of trying to impress her bosses enough to be noticed. A hard thing to do when the biggest criminal out there to catch was your second cousin and you weren't allowed anywhere near the case. Even harder was hiding the fact that she happened to be rather clumsy and prone to spasms of pointless chatter. So in order to keep her secrets, well …secret, she decide the best thing to do was hold on to the railing and stare intensely at the level 4 button.

"Thanks, takes ages to come back down again. And I only have 15 minutes before the Chinese takeout stops taking orders." Tonks continued to stare, but grunted to show that she was listening, "Oh I have to say Tonks, I signed off on your report on Gilberto. Good work. I specially like the wide-range of coloured paper you used."

Tonks couldn't help herself she turned to look at her superior, with a shocked smile, "Well I just thought Gilberto's illegal international floo powder network needed brightening up."

Tonks superior, Kingsley Shackelbolt, gave a small chuckle that was just as deep as his voice, "Pity you can't work on the Black case with my team. You seem to have a lot of promise."

"Yeah right, about as much promise as you have hair." Oh God, there it was … 'word vomit'. Where was the emergency exit? Too late now it was already out lingering between her and Kingsley like the vomit it was.

To her shocked surprise he let out one hard 'ha'. "Well then don't believe me." With that said the doors opened on to the large atrium where Kingsley gave a curt wave before he disapparated.

By the time Tonks had arrived home with her Tesco microwaveable lasagne, the delight in hearing that her boss' did notice her hard work, had almost replaced her revolted shock that she had word vomited in reply to the complement. Her home was a little loft apartment in Notting Hill. It had a small bathroom to the left of the front door and a dividing wall between her bedroom and the kitchen-slash-living room-slash-foyer-slash-every other room that a house is meant to have. It may have been small but it was all Tonks needed and she had made it her own by painting the walls a bright purple.

Being no good at domestic spells, Tonks popped her dinner in the microwave. It was at this moment that Gaston tottered across the kitchen's short bench and pecked at Tonks hand. Gaston was a Tawny owl and had been a coming of age present from her parents. Even thought he was quite able to fly out the window and do his own hunting, he was much happier trotting around the apartment and waiting for Tonks to come home and fed him by hand. She knew that she spoiled him but Gaston was the only one ever waiting for Tonks when she came home and she couldn't help but in some sad way feel loved by this odd gesture.

Tonks turned on the Wizard Wireless after she fed Gaston pigeon breasts. She was hoping that she hadn't missed a news report on the results for the Tri-Wizard Tournament. She knew it was still early but she had heard about how well the two Hogwarts Champs had done so far and thought they may be in for a fast final task. The microwave 'binged' at the end of the new 'Dancing Giant's' song, the Dj assured listeners that there was still no news from Hogwarts and introduced an old 'Weird Sisters' song.

A chilly breeze cut through the uncommonly warm spring night air and made the shutters on an old run down house bang shut. The occupants seemed not to notice. A tall dark haired, rather attractive man paced around the room looking at the uneven floorboards, the thread bare armchair, sheets that were put up like curtains; anywhere but at his friend. His friend held his head in his hands, his eyes glazed over, "But…. Harry, he's…he's alright? Sirius?"

Sirius still didn't look at his friend but replied hastily, "Yes. Well, no. Harry seems physically fine, but he's a bit – he was there Remus, he saw that boy die!"

Remus felt his friends' steady gaze on him as if it burned through him. The news he had just heard filled him with a deep rooted coldness from his fingertips to his very inner soul. Remus dropped his hands from his head and looked up at his friend. As their eyes meet they both saw the coldness that had filled the other and an unspoken pact was made to never, say at least out loud, what this news meant for them.

"Dumbledore wants you to get the old group together," Remus said breaking the silence, "I think perhaps I should go with you. Most of them, all of them in fact, will think you're a murdering Death Eater."

Sirius gave a roguish grin, "Almost forgot about that. Who should we reveal your nightmare to first?"

"Diggle? At least I know he still lives in the same house – this is going to be a long night isn't it?"

"Not wrong there. Diggle it is." And with another wayward smirk Sirius disapparated.

It took Tonks a while before she could work out why she had woken up so early, but as Gaston was hardly a small bird it was hard to miss the fact that he was walking all over her chest. "Getoffme - you stupid bird." But Gaston continued to stamp her chest flat. Tonks then spotted the letter he had clasped in his beak. "Oi, I've got the point – I'm awake." Tonks took the letter from Gaston and not so gently pushed him off her now scratched chest.

Auror Tonks,

A situation has occurred and you are required to report to the briefing room at 08:00 hours, for a debriefing. Late comers will be disciplined.

Head of Auror Office

Rufus Scrimgeour

Tonks jumped out of her bed as if it was on fire. If Scrimgeour was calling the troops in then it meant business, and there was no way Tonks wanted to be late. "This could be it Gaston; the big case that will make little old me, an Auror with a rep." In her plan to impress, Tonks put on her most un-torn jeans, a relatively boring patterned shirt under her bright red duffle coat, and she even wore her hair in a highlighted form of its natural mousy brown. With a piece of toast in hand Tonks bolted out of her door with a good 5 minutes before she needed to be in the briefing room.

"So, what it all comes down to," Scrimgeour concluded to the room full of Aurors, "Is that this Potter kid has come back from, Merlin knows where, holding the body of Amos Diggory's son Cedric. And the only explation we're getting from the boy is some cock and bull story about you know who returning. I might also remind you that Albus Dumbledore believes this story.

"So, Dawlish and Walsh, I want you to get together filling out the reports on Diggory's death. Of course, it's plain to see that this impostor Alistair Moody, Barty Crouch jr. was behind his death, and most likely the death of Crouch senior. But I'll leave you men to get it all written down for the record.

"The only thing this all means for the rest of you, is for you to be on the look out for and any vigilante groups that might feel that's it is better to believe Potter's story as Dumbledore does. I have straight from Fudge that this type of anti- Ministry behaviour will not be expected. If any of you hear of it – report it- I'll take it from there.

"Now if there aren't any questions, lets all get to work."

Scrimgeour, who was already turning back to his office, clearly did not want to hear any, questions no matter how valid they were. But as usual Tonks couldn't help herself, "But sir, it's Dumbledore – I mean it was only a few years ago that I was at Hogwarts and it always seemed to me that Dumbledore was pretty much in the know about ….well everything."

Tonks knew as soon as the words had left her mouth that every eye had turned to look at her, some in shock, and some in agreement, then others still in disgust. Scrimgeour turned to look at her directly, the anger in his face not hidden at all. "Nymphadora Tonks isn't it. The cousin of Sirius Black. As I have already said dear girl, Dumbledore has really started to lose it in these last few years, otherwise I'm sure that such a great wizard would not believe Potters deluded story."

"Well that's the other thing," Tonks pressed on, unsure of what was making her do so, "Why, when you know who killed his parents, would Harry potter make up a story in which you know who had gained back his power? I know the Prophet is saying he's the world's biggest attention seeker, but really it's easy to see that that's some shite Rita Skeeter making up for the papers. Sorry if I'm being critical of the ministry, but I just don't seem to be able to add it all up right."

Silence encased the room after Tonks rant had come to a close. No one seemed to even want to blink. Tonks eyes darted from person to person hoping for someone to talk and take the spotlight off her. It was then that she saw Kingsley. He was leaning on the door frame, looking as if he was proud and slightly amused that Tonks had stood up to the head of the Auror office.

"Miss Tonks," came Scrimgeour's slightly strained voice, "with relatives like yours I would be very careful of 'being critical of the ministry'. And if I'm not mistaken there is a large box of closed case reports to finalize in the file room. Hop to it will you."

Tonks dropped her head into her hands as the rest of her co-workers filed out of the room quietly muttering about the meeting.

"Tonks," Kingsley was still in the room standing by the door, "do you really mean all of that? Do you really trust Dumbledore over the happy little tales of the ministry?"

Tonks looked at Kingsley, had he really just said 'happy little tales of the ministry'? Was this a trick? Tonks decide it was best to be truthful. At least she would like to hear the other side of the story. "Yeah, yes."

Kingsley move forward and looked around the room to make sure no one was still the listening. "When He who shall not be named, was in power last time, I heard of a group towards the end of … well his dominance. They worked as a covert operation, a secret society, working with spies and uniting an under ground front that worked much more effectively then the ministry ever could. Dumbledore was it's head, I don't know if a similar group is being formed again, but if you really believe that there is more to this 'cock and bull story of Potter's' then ….perhaps this group might interest you?"

Tonks thought for a moment, she knew that Kingsley had just taken a big risk telling her about this group. Images of her mothers tear stained face as she read the last article of horror in the paper, of her father telling her that she was too young to worry about scary things that were happening just outside her house, of the moment years later when it had been her own aunts, her own uncles, her own family that created those horrific news paper headlines. She may have been young enough then to stick her head in the ground, but she'd be damned if she would do it again now. "I wouldn't care if I'd read it in the Quibbler, I'd track down any report that that monster was back."

Kingsley smiled at her conviction, "Great. Then I'll be happy to tell you that the 'Order of the Phoenix' is re-forming and needs people with your conviction and skills."