Title: Recruiting Nymphadora

Author: Pheo

Ratings & Warnings: K+

Prompts: This was written for the Fic Jumble at MetamorficMoon. My object was the spell "Oppugno;" my day, "frustration;" my location was the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic, and my genre, well, is supposed to be humour.  I hope it's funny!

Word Count: 2,624

Summary: Remus has no idea what he's in for in recruiting the newest member of the Order of the Phoenix.

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Remus Lupin checked his watch for the third time.

10: 22.

Shacklebolt had told him the correct time, hadn't he? Reaching into a well-worn pocket, he pulled out a creased piece of parchment and carefully unfolded it. Yes, he was on time; it was his new recruit who was not.

Remus didn't mind recruiting new members for the Order of the Phoenix. Indeed, if there was anything good about his lack of employment, it was that he was flexible enough to meet new witches and wizards on their own time.

Of course, Remus bitterly thought, Dedalus Diggle often had to accompany him when there was a chance that the wizard or witch being approached had a phobia—a prejudice, he allowed himself—of werewolves. Kingsley Shacklebolt had, however, assured him that he would not have that problem today.

The tall wizard had laughed deeply when Remus had asked him earlier that week. "She's the most open-minded witch I know," Kingsley had said, pointing at the parchment as if she were pictured on it. "As a matter of fact, she might try to counter-recruit you for a Wizarding band or an extreme sports team or something!"

Remus had simply stared at the man. "How well do you know this witch?" he had finally asked.

"Well enough. She's pretty new to the squad, but she's tougher than most. I've never seen a bind-and-cuff hex quite like hers."

Remus coughed, remembering how uncomfortable he had felt with that bit of information. How many times had Sirius divulged not-so-welcome details in his youth of his use of that particular spell? Certainly more times than Remus would have liked. Remus almost felt sick, remembering the time a former girlfriend—one of few—had dared to ask something similar of him near a full moon.

Well, if the witch he was meeting was like anything Kingsley had said, perhaps he wouldn't have to encounter any stereotypes—-of either the prejudicial or disturbing variety. As he watched a plethora of Ministry workers and visitors within the Atrium pass him by with a wider-than-necessary berth, he willed her to arrive soon.

10:37.

Merlin, where was this witch? She was over half an hour late. Kingsley had told him about "Auror hours," which were for their duration and difficulty. This witch's shift, which was supposed to have begun at eight in the morning, should have concluded at ten o'clock.

Perhaps she had decided against joining the Order. After all, it was a very dangerous business. Perhaps she did not think it worth her time? Surely Kingsley had not divulged much to her. On the contrary, during scouting, new recruits were only allowed to be asked if they believed that Voldemort had retuned; if they answered yes, they were then asked if they wanted to do something about it.

Remus shook his head, thinking of all of the Oblivates he'd had to cast when the second answer had been "No."

But if that had happened, surely she would have notified Kingsley? He had arranged for the meeting, after all. Remus had seen Kingsley at Headquarters right before he had Apparated into the heart of London. The man would have told him. He glanced at his watch again.

10:50.

She could be out on a mission that had run late. What if she had been harmed? Remus took a deep breath, thinking about all of the horrors the Auror squad must face on a daily basis. With Voldemort's return, it was likely that they would face much greater hardships than he did once a month—-and on a daily basis as well.

Just as Remus finished thinking about her being attacked by Giants and began thinking about her being captured during a raid on a vampire blood smuggling operation, he spotted a petite young woman with striking, shoulder-length golden curls leaving one of the lifts, wearing a bright red Auror uniform. Just as she stepped out, her crimson robes were caught in the closing lift, and she cursed as she struggled to pull them free.

Not realizing the robes were loose, she yanked one final time, landing herself straight on her bum--and earning no one in particular another string of curses. Remus curiously watched on, fascinated, as the Ministry visitors stood and gawked, and the Ministry officials simply traipsed by like nothing had happened. One even waved at her offhandedly, to which she replied, "Wotcher, Bildswing."

As she straightened herself up, she seemed to see something on her robes. She shook them rather violently for a number of minutes. Apparently satisfied, she draped them over her arm. Her hair went fuzzy for a moment, before suddenly changing into a shockingly pink set of spikes.

A Metamorphogus. Surely this wasn't the witch he was supposed to meet? Remus was the last wizard on Earth who believed that he would be capable of stereotyping, but this Auror could not be more than twenty years old! How in the name of Merlin could she have made it through the program so quickly?

When she turned her head, his jaw nearly hit the ground. There were more earrings there than he could count—-some glittering, some glowing, and one dangling from the lobe itself. Wearing torn cameo trousers with a large silver belt, an orange and black striped tank shirt, and enormous boots, this witch seemed more likely to grace the stage of a Muggle rock concert than the Ministry of Magic!

She could not be the recruit.

"As a matter of fact, she might try to counter-recruit you for a Wizarding band or an extreme sports team or something!"

Could she?

"Oi, Rick, don't work too hard!" the witch suddenly called out. Her voice echoed throughout the Atrium, causing a wizard exiting one of the numerous fire places to trip.

Eric Munch didn't even look at her as he checked the wand of a young blond witch in pink robes. "Lovely evening, Tonks," he finally said, leaning his stubbled cheek against his palm as he continued to watch the blond walk by.

She was the new recruit, alright. Remus didn't think that there was a large chance of any other witches having name Tonks, while being both a Metamorphogus and an Auror.

As she made her way down the hall, a stooped, older woman in a large dress that looked like it had been made from a burlap sack stopped her and began shaking her hand enthusiastically.

"Miss Tonks, I can't thank ye enough fer saving me husband from that curse 'e had. If it weren't fer yer help e'd a been dead by now, 'e would!"

The woman continued to ramble as the Auror listened with genuine interest. "Well, Mrs. McKeely, I was just the Auror on duty, and glad to help--"

"Oh, and ye remembered m' name, too, dinna ye, dear!" The old woman seemed to have started to cry, when the Auror kindly said, "And why wouldn't I have? It's so nice to see you, Mrs. McKeely, but I'm on my way to a meeting. Now remember what I said if you have any more trouble. You have my card, right?"

The woman gave her some more appreciative words before flooing back home, and the witch seemed to have a slight smile on her face as she walked further down the Atrium. Calls of "Hey, Tonks!" and "All right, Tonks?" greeted her and she answered each one in kind. The witch seemed to know everyone.

As she neared him, he clearly asked, "What is the name of your uncle's cat?"

"Mrs. Mousemeat Pie," she answered the code instantly, smiling up at him. Up close, Remus could see that she was no less striking than she had been as a blond—-and that she may be a bit older than he had given her credit for. She had left bangs on her forehead when she'd morphed her hair, and they swept across it in a delicate fringe. She offered a hand, and while her stance looked eager, it also looked tired as she visibly straightened her back. Her large, blue eyes even seemed to smile at him, though they, too, showed signs of fatigue.

"A Dumbledore construct, if I'm correct," she said, and he raised an eyebrow. "Rodent-derived or not, it is a dessert. Wotcher. I'm Tonks," she said, shaking his hand firmly.

"Remus Lupin," he said, slightly surprised at her grip. She might be nearly a foot shorter than he was, but she was certainly no less strong.

"I'm so sorry that I'm late, but I had a bit of a mishap—-well, one in a series of mishaps," her eyes widened, "and I couldn't leave until I had straightened it out, and this cretin Cowslip wouldn't stop following me—-mind you, that's actually normal—-but when the bowtruckles began to eat his hair--"

"Erm, Nymphadora?" Remus cut in, baffled by the witch. "We really need to--"

He stopped abruptly at the sight of her wand in his face. "Don't call me Nymphadora, Remus. I told you, it's Tonks." Her eyes, so friendly moments before, were hard as steel.

Mad. Definitely mad.

"I'm sorry, I must be mistaken," Remus said shakily. "I was to meet a Nymphadora T--"

"Tonks," the witch hissed, "and only Tonks. I don't go by my horrific first name."

He simply stared at her, and suddenly her shoulders drooped, and, pocketing her wand, Tonks began to laugh.

And laugh, and laugh. The witch could really laugh! Tears were beginning to run down her face, and she began to clutch her side as a series of short burst from her nose, which made her seem to snicker even harder.

Remus glanced around at the witches and wizards who ambled around them, most of them beginning to stare. They needed to get out of there immediately!

"Um, Tonks," he began, but was once again cut off when she waved a hand up in front of his face.

"Remus, I am so sorry." Tonks managed to calm herself, wiping at her face with the back of a red-gloved hand. "Look, I just had a really, really trying day and I didn't mean to take it out on you. I thought that Kingsley must have told you how much I hate my name, but I suppose he didn't."

"No, he didn't." Remus lifted an eyebrow at her hopeful expression. "Ah, apology accepted?" he offered, and was rewarded with a relieved grin.

"So, as I was telling you, I'm late because this crazy bloke, Sean Cowslip, is constantly bothering me for a date, and I can't seem to make him stop. I've tried letters, howlers, and countless decoy boyfriends but the idiot just won't take no for an answer! Thinks just because his family's got money and all of the other girls fawn over him he can have whoever he wants. You know what I mean?" She stopped rambling for a moment, staring at him expectantly.

Remus shifted uneasily. They should really be going. "Er--"

"No? Well, anyway, I decided I'd do something to make him hate me forever to make him leave me alone. So I conjured a bunch of lice into his hair."

Remus was sure he his scalp had started to itch. "Lice?"

"Well, I wanted him to get the point. To bugger off, you know?"

Remus groaned inwardly. That was something Sirius Black might say.

"Anyway, he didn't even notice! The bastard!" Her eyes burned brightly, as if to dare him to ignore her hex. Remus tried to look appropriately outraged.

"So then I decided to conjure a bunch of bowtruckles—-you know, there's no way he could ignore them," she nodded, placing a hand on her hip. "But I seemed to have gotten the spell wrong—-they hit his scalp," she added quickly. "But they also hit the tree in his office. And the tree in Kingsley's. And, well, every woody plant on the floor, really," she finally grit out, clearly embarrassed.

Remus stood still. This couldn't possibly be happening. He couldn't be recruiting an Auror who couldn't even perform a simple conjuring charm. Sure, she was charming herself, if a bit mad—-but how on earth did she even make it into the Ministry in the first place?

She seemed to read his face. "It's been a long day, you see. I had to go on a solo mission to rescue this old man from an no-eating curse that he'd had for over a week. When I got there and tried to perform a counter-spell, the two wizards who put it on him to begin with showed up. He was muggle-born, you see." Her eyes bore into his, implicating the meaning.

He had been attacked by Death Eaters.

So he had been right—-sort of. She had been out on a dangerous mission. Merlin, facing two Death Eaters alone, at once—-and the Ministry ignoring it all! Of course she wanted to join the Order.

"There was a battle, you see," she went on, "and while I managed to defend the couple, the culprits Apparated before I could bring them in. But they didn't leave unharmed," she finished proudly.

"What about you?" Remus had no idea why he could barely find his voice, but suddenly he found himself respecting this Auror more than anyone he could think of at the moment.

She bit her lip and looked away for a moment; then, she brought up an arm and in seconds, he saw a large gash, just beginning to heal, surrounded by purple. Just as quickly as it was there, it was gone.

"I don't morph the scars I get," she said pointedly, glancing at his own. "I think they mark character. But this, well, it's gotta heal."

Remus felt himself staring at her again—-this time, not out of consternation. She stared back, and looking into her blue eyes—-no, they were brown now, a dark, polished brown that he instantly recognized—-he felt something pull at his stomach. What on earth--?

He shook his head, breaking the spell. They really needed to get going if he was going to discuss the Order. And by the looks of it, they could really use this talented young witch.

But before he could say anything, he heard a young man cry, "Dora!"

Panic stole into her eyes. She grimaced as she said, through clenched teeth, "Hide me!"

Remus almost laughed himself. "I can't very well do that, can I? He's seen you."

In fact, the man was running toward them. He was very handsome, Remus had to admit; his blond hair was cropped neatly, and his form was well-built within his overpriced suit. However, he didn't believe anyone could find something attractive in his desperate, "Dora, I neeed you!"

Tonks practically hissed at Remus' side as she inched closer to him.

"I mean it, you have to hide me! Invisibility cloak, vanishing powder—-what have you got?"

Remus did laugh this time, although he found her proximity rather nice.

"Dora, please, give me another chance!"

As the man approached her, Tonks gave her robes a final shake and out tumbled one last bowtruckle.

"Oppugno!" she cried, pointing her wand at the creature.

Instantly, it was on the man's face, and he howled as its pointed fingers scraped into his scalp. "Not the hair! Not my pretty hair!"

Remus met Tonks' amused but pointed look with one of his own. "We'd better get out of here. Take this, memorize it, and destroy it."

Tonks quickly scanned the parchment, nodded once, and cast a quick Incendio on it.

As they quickly made their way out, they could still hear Sean screaming, "My hair! My beautiful hair!"

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