In her heart, Nymphadora Tonks knows that Remus Lupin is the only man for her. Then why can't she get Severus Snape out of her head?
A/N – This story starts at the beginning of OotP. In case you missed it, it's rated T for adult themes and mild sexual situations.
Chapter One – A Truth Discovered
Kingsley Shacklebolt looked at Nymphadora Tonks with a grave expression on his face. They were sitting side by side in Leaky Cauldron, speaking in hushed tones, wanting no one to overhear the conversation.
He had a small piece of parchment in his hand. 'If I give you this…' he trailed off.
Tonks looked at the piece of paper and held her breath. Was she ready for this? Was she really? It would be so much easier to believe the Minister of Magic, to believe that the Headmaster of Hogwarts was off his rocker. That Voldemort hadn't come back.
She looked Kingsley in the eye. 'Why are you trusting me with this?' asked Tonks seriously.
'You know he's come back, Tonks,' whispered Kingsley urgently. 'You can feel it.'
Tonks ran her hand through her hair, which was in light blue spikes. 'I knew Cedric,' said Tonks quietly. 'We were in the same house. I was a fifth year when he started. He was such a nice chap.'
'As most Hufflepuffs are,' said Kingsley.
Tonks threw back her head and laughed. 'Now you're just trying to flatter me.'
'Look, we can talk till the Threstals come home,' said Kingsley. 'Are you in or are you out?'
Without another thought, Tonks replied, 'I'm in.'
'Just think about what you read,' ordered Kingsley.
Tonks closed her eyes and thought of number twelve, Grimmauld Place. A moment later, the house appeared in front of her.
'And I thought you said this would be difficult,' grinned Tonks.
'Come on,' said Kingsley. 'The meeting will start in a bit. I want to introduce you to some people first.'
'Lead the way,' said Tonks as she followed him up the steps.
Kingsley turned around before he reached the door. 'Now Tonks,' he started, 'There is a portrait in the hallway…just keep very quiet in the hallway. It will make life easier on everyone.'
'Aye, aye, captain, sir,' said Tonks as she did a mock salute. 'Keep quiet in the hallway.'
'Perfect,' said Kingsley. 'Let's get you inside.'
The door opened and Tonks stepped gingerly inside after Kingsley. She had been in some dark wizard's houses before, but this might just take the cake. 'This is the Headquarters?' whispered Tonks.
'Wait till the study,' shot back Kingsley. Tonks nodded. She didn't quite know where they were. That was on purpose, in case Tonks hadn't decided to join.
She took a few steps and stopped. There was a large portrait, taking up a huge amount of wall space. Tonks recognized the woman in the portrait instantly, even though she had only seen the woman once in her life.
'Kingsley, that's my Great-Aunt,' said Tonks quickly. 'Where are we?'
'In the study,' repeated Kingsley.
Tonks nodded and took a step. The moment her foot touched the ground she saw what was about to happen in her mind. Her foot tripped on the hallway rug and Tonks fell right on her bottom.
'FILTHY HALF-BREEDS!' the portrait screamed. 'TRAITORS!'
Kingsley sighed and Tonks mouthed sorry to him.
'You might as well talk normal now,' said Kingsley. 'Once she's on a roll, it takes a bit to stop her.'
'What's going on here?' a voice demanded. 'Who woke her up?'
Tonks looked up and felt her breath caught in her throat. In front of her was a man, maybe twenty years older than her. He had slightly graying hair, which seemed to be in need of a trim. His robes had definitely seen better days. Though Tonks wasn't one to talk with all of the patches on her jeans.
What got her attention the most was his eyes. He had the most wonderful blue eyes anyone could ask for.
'I did, I'm afraid,' said Tonks, forcing herself to talk.
'Do you know how to stay on your own two feet?' laughed Kingsley.
'Yes,' said Tonks, crossing her arms over her chest. 'Just not very well.'
The man in the tattered robes held out his hand to her. 'Let me help you up,' he said gently.
Tonks nodded and put her hand in his. He helped her to her feet. 'Thank you,' said Tonks brightly, running her hand through her hair.
'What am I thinking?' said Kingsley. 'Remus Lupin, this is Tonks. Tonks, this is Remus Lupin.
Tonks held out her hand eagerly, he shook it heartily.
'Do you just have one name?' asked Remus.
Tonks rolled her eyes. 'My first name is Nymphadora. But everyone, and I mean everyone, calls me Tonks.'
'All right then, Tonks' said Remus casually. 'Come meet the others.'
They walked down the hallway, when Remus turned around. 'Kingsley, how much did you tell her?'
'Not much, I'm afraid. What if she had said no?' said Kingsley.
Tonks rolled her eyes. 'I'm still here, in case you'd forgotten,' said Tonks with a hint of annoyance. 'Please don't talk about me in third person.'
Remus turned towards her and gave her a genuine smile, as if he knew exactly how she felt. He held a door open for her and Tonks walked inside. There was a man sitting on the couch. It took a moment for her to realize who she was looking at.
Tonks' Auror instincts took over. She took out her wand in a smooth motion and pointed it at Sirius Black, one of the most wanted men in Britain. But then she felt someone wrap their arms around her, pinning her arms to her side.
'Let us explain, Tonks,' whispered Remus in her ear. 'Sirius is a friend.'
'You better make it quick, Lupin,' said Tonks menacingly. 'Or I guarantee that you will be on your backside in a matter of moments.'
Kingsley stood in front of her. 'Get a hold of yourself, Tonks,' ordered Kingsley. 'I'm in charge of his manhunt. And I see him in front of me just as you. Sirius Black is our friend.'
Tonks relaxed slightly, but remained on her guard. Remus was still holding her tight, and Tonks could feel his heart beating at a quickened rate. Sirius Black, to his credit, simply stayed on the couch and stared at her.
She knew he was her mother's cousin. That always made the stories she heard about him worse, knowing that they were related. Tonks had only been six years old when all those muggles had been killed. Her mother told her stories, that when she and Sirius had been in Hogwarts together, that he had been a wonderful person. She never knew what had changed him.
'Tell me,' said Sirius with a bit of a grin. 'Just how is my favorite cousin, Meda?'
'You can let me go now, Remus,' said Tonks softly. She felt Remus let her go.
Tonks and Sirius stared at each other for close to a minute without speaking. Finally, Sirius looked at her somberly. 'I didn't kill those people, Nymphadora,' he said.
'Call me Tonks,' she corrected automatically. 'Well, for fourteen years every wizard in Britain seemed to think you killed them.'
Kingsley cleared his throat. 'Tonks, I promise you that I will sit you down after the meeting and explain everything. But people will be coming in soon.'
Tonks crossed her arms over her chest. 'All right, then,' she said finally. She still wasn't quite sure of everything that was going on.
Just then, Minerva McGonagall walked into the room quickly. 'Nymphadora,' she said tersely.
'I thought no one called you Nymphadora,' chuckled Remus. Tonks looked at him. The smile on his face made him look years younger.
'Correction,' smiled Tonks. 'Everyone calls me Tonks with the exception of former professors.'
The room filled up quickly after that. Tonks recognized some of the faces as they came in. Emmeline Vance, Alastor Moody, Hestia Jones. She wondered who chose who was allowed to be part of the group, feeling proud that she was among them.
The meeting went quickly. The main topic of discussion was moving Harry Potter from his muggle home over to Headquarters. A number of people raised their hands, volunteering for the assignment. Tonks felt her face flush as Remus' eyes met hers, and he chose her to be part of the group.
Before she knew it, the meeting was over. The room emptied as quickly as it had filled. As Tonks stood up, Kingsley asked her to wait, so they can talk more about Sirius. Her heart started to beat faster. She was very aware what they told her, but for so long she thought of him as the enemy. She wouldn't be able to change that in an instant.
Finally it was only Tonks, Kingsley, Remus, Arthur Weasley and Sirius.
'So what do you think of our rag tag group of vagabonds?' said Kingsley with smile.
'Speak for yourself, Shacklebolt,' said Sirius. 'I'm no vagabond. Only a man who was wronged in this great world.'
'Speaking of that,' interrupted Tonks. The group quieted and looked at her. 'Are you going to tell me why I shouldn't haul his ass back to Azkaban?'
Remus told the story quickly. The tale of four friends and the one that betrayed them. Tonks found herself studying the curves of his face as he talked.
'And that's that. We've moved as quickly as we could since the night Harry confirmed Voldemort was back. But we need help from people in the Ministry,' said Remus seriously.
'No one can know, Tonks,' warned Arthur. 'We only have our suspicions, but we suspect that the Death Eaters are already trying to influence the Ministry. Lucius Malfoy, especially.'
'I saw him this morning at the Ministry, talking to Amelia Bones,' remembered Tonks. 'He tried to hit on me.'
'You?' asked Sirius, surprise in his voice. 'You're his niece.'
Tonks shrugged. 'I don't think he recognized me. Remember, according to my mum's family, I'm a bad seed. Let me see if I can get this right. I'm a product of a shameful union between pureblood and muggle.'
Kingsley whistled softly. 'Mum showed me the letter that her family sent her, disowning her after I was born,' said Tonks cheerfully.
Truth be told, she didn't care that she never saw that side of the family. She wouldn't want to be associated with people like that anymore than they wanted to be associated with her. But she knew that being cut off from her family hurt her mother.
Just then, the door from the hallway opened and someone slipped inside.
'You missed the meeting,' said Remus flatly.
'No matter. I don't believe anything important was discussed,' said the man.
Tonks looked up in surprise and found herself looking right at Severus Snape.
'Professor Snape?' asked Tonks in surprise.
Snape looked her over, and Tonks almost felt naked under his gaze. She never really liked him while she was in Hogwarts, even though he was willing to give her extra lessons to make sure she got the grade she needed to be an Auror on her N.E.W.T.S.
'This is our new recruit?' sneered Snape. 'How's she going to help? Knock over the Dark Lord by tripping on her shoelaces?'
Tonks scrunched up her nose as she glared at him. She concentrated on an image and felt her body respond. When she was complete, everyone in the room was staring at a perfect replica of Bellatrix Black, expect wearing a t-shirt and jeans.
'I have my own ways of helping,' said Tonks defiantly. She burrowed her brow again and relaxed, allowing her body to return to it's natural state.
'Impressive parlor trick,' said Snape slowly.
Remus let out his breath slowly. 'I can understand why Kingsley was so insistent on bringing you aboard.'
'Can you do voices?' asked Arthur eagerly.
Tonks shook her head. 'No, but I don't have many limitations. I can turn into anyone I want to.'
'Bet that keeps them running back for more,' said Snape with a hint of malice.
'Do you have a problem with me?' asked Tonks, furious at him for trying to make her look like a fool in front of everyone.
Snape simply crossed his arms and smirked, obviously pleased that he got a rise out of her so quickly.
Remus cleared his throat. 'Do you have any questions?' he asked Tonks.
She shook her head, still glaring at Snape, who refused to drop her gaze.
Tonks looked away first.
A/N – As I started writing this, I realized I had to take all of my preconceptions about Tonks and throw them out the window. In OotP, she is a bright, confident, funny young woman. In HBP, she is serious, withdrawn and forlorn. I really miss the happy Tonks. But the sad Tonks will be very interesting to work with. As far as I'm concerned, no woman would be that depressed for a freakin' year about being rejected. There are darker forces at work here. And that's where Snape comes in. Stay tuned…