I know this isn't quite as long as the previous chapter, but it ended where it wanted to end. Anyway, a really quick update, but I wouldn't grow to expect them from now on.
"Hermione, Mr. Lovegood is here to see you," announced Harry, walking back into the kitchen.
Connor's eyes narrowed when he saw the man. The reason for Harry's fear was rather obvious. Jake Lovegood was well over six feet in height and the type of muscular that came from training, not weight lifting alone. Not to mention that the man walked like a soldier of some sort rather than an untrained civilian. There was something familiar about the man, but Connor couldn't quite put his finger on it.
"You two can talk in the living room," said Connor. "I'll make sure the kids don't disturb you."
Hermione was practically shaking and the pieces of parchment in her hands were fluttering. Oddly enough, instead of the knee length skirts Connor had seen the girl wear before, she was dressed rather strangely. She wore an ankle length skirt, a blouse, and a vest with every button secured. Her hair was carefully pinned into a complicated up do reminiscent of the 1910s with a thin scarf wrapped around her head, one end in front, the other in the back.
"Thank you, Mr…"
"Hawke, Connor Hawke. I'm Harry's cousin."
"Hey Jakey," said Sirius.
"Sirius, you old dog. I hadn't known you were going to be here," said Jake.
"Like I'd miss my godson's birthday."
Jake glanced toward Harry, muttering, "I hadn't realized… Sirius, we have to catch up soon."
"Can't do it today, I'm helping the kids with a project. Maybe later this week."
Once Hermione and Jake were out of the room, Harry bonelessly sunk into a chair next to Tonks. He seemed rather relieved, which was understandable considering how terrified Harry was of his girlfriend's father.
"Why was Hermione…"
"Dressed that way?" said Tonks, completing Connor's sentence. "She was wearing the Wizarding equivalent of a women's business suit. Good girls don't go to work with their hair uncovered or their ankles showing, you know."
"Is that why the girls are always wearing skirts?"
Harry and Tonks nodded.
"I'm an Auror," Tonks said, as if it explained it all. "The uniform is different for men and women, but we still get to wear trousers to work. And I was raised in the non-magical world. My mother may be pureblood, but my father is Muggle-Born. And I'm not going to wear a skirt just because society thinks I should."
"How did you get your information for these two articles?" asked Jake.
Hermione calmly breathed in, then out. "I interviewed Auror Nymphadora Tonks-she accidentally mentioned how the Minitry monitored underage magic. When I asked, she explained the entire monitoring system. Sirius Black and Remus Lupin confirmed Auror Tonks's information. For the second article, I interviewed Remus Lupin, who was outed as a werewolf a little over a year ago."
Jake nodded, then motioned to the other two articles. "And these?"
"I watch the Muggle News when at home and I have several muggle newspapers delivered to me while at school. When I read a story that interested me, I went to the library to do some more research."
"And what would you do at school?" asked Jake.
"I suppose that I would order another two or three international papers and write home for research materials when necessary."
"What do you want to do with your life?"
"I want to be a writer. I'll admit that I was more interested in writing books before Luna told me of the position that would soon be opening in the Quibbler." She paused, biting her lip. "The wizarding world is dangerously ignorant of what goes on in the Muggle world. Not to mention that the general discrimination against most magical beings and creatures is absolutely atrocious. They use slaves, for heaven's sake."
"House-Elves," explained Hermione. "It's so horrible, the way House-Elves are treated. Have you ever seen one punish himself for doing something he considers wrong? Last year I started SPEW, the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, but there was almost no interest at Hogwarts."
Hermione practically danced back into the kitchen. "Sirius, Mr. Lovegood wants to talk to you before he leaves."
"I'll be right back," said Sirius, walking into the living room.
Hermione gracefully sat next to Harry, unwrapping the scarf.
"Well, how did it go?" asked Harry.
"He bought my articles and said that he'd tell me by the end of the week if I had the job or not," explained Hermione. "And he joined SPEW. He wants to start handing out pamphlets at work. Which reminds me-I need to make some pamphlets."
"I'm almost afraid to ask, but what is SPEW," said Tonks.
"The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare," explained Harry. "Ron, Nev, and I are members. Uh, I'm the secretary, Hermione's our President, and Ron's the treasurer."
"Our long-term goals are to end House-Elf enslavement, changing the law about non-wand-use and trying to get an elf into the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures," explained Hermione. "Our short term goals are to get laws passed that would put a stop to the rampant abuse House-Elves suffer, try to encourage more people to hire free House-Elves at fair wages, promote the formation of unions, and raise House-Elf awareness."
"How much does it cost to join?" asked Tonks.
"Two sickles-that's a dollar eighteen," explained Hermione. "I'll send your badges when I get back if you join."
Tonks fished a galleon out of her pocket, handing it over to Hermione. "For me. Use the rest to help with these panphlets."
Connor turned to look at Harry. "How are House-Elves treated? What are House-Elves?"
Harry gave a very quick summary about House-Elves in general. Then he went on to talk about Winky and Dobby.
Connor nodded, then handed Hermione a twenty. "It's for my membership-keep the change. You'll probably get more money and members if you talk to Dad. He likes to support these sorts of movements."
"Right you three," said Sirius, once everybody had finished their lunch. "We should do this now."
"We can use the gym downstairs," volunteered Harry.
"What are you doing?"
Harry turned to look at Ollie. "Completing a magical ritual that we've been working on for the better part of the last two months."
"Don't worry, if anything goes wrong, there are three fully trained wizards here to fix it," said Tonks. "And anyway, it's all perfectly legal."
"What sort of magical ritual?" asked Roy.
Harry and Sirius exchanged a glance before Harry answered. "The animagus transformation."
"Huh. Good luck. Would you mind showing me your form when you've finished it?"
"Roy? What the hell are they talking about?"
"They're just going to turn themselves into animals," said Roy with a shrug. "Most of the boys with any magic were trained as Animagi by Brave Bow. It's a bit dangerous, but with an Auror present, it won't get to the point of life threatening."
"And I'm an Animagus," added Sirius. "James and I were their age when we did this and we did just fine without any help from adults."
"You guys get going, I'll explain it," said Roy.
"Do you mind if I watch?" asked Connor, getting to his feet.
"Just stand by me and don't interfere," said Tonks. "Sirius and Remus are the ones in charge of this thing."
Harry said the spell carefully. A mispronounced word could seriously injure him. Once it was done, he gulped down a potion.
With that he felt his bones begin to move and shrink. It was all he could do not to show how much pain he was in. Though the Cruciatus curse was much more painful, this was still much more than he'd been expecting.
After what seemed like forever, the transformation ended, leaving Harry in his animal form. It took him a moment to figure out how to use his paws properly. Once capable of walking, he went to explore the room.
Connor couldn't help but blink as his cousin turned into a mongoose. A slender, or black-tailed, mongoose, if he remembered correctly. Next to him, Hermione changed into some sort of otter while a fox sat in Ron's place.
"So what now?" asked Connor.
"They'll change back when they want to," explained Tonks. "And from now on they can change from human to their particular type of animal whenever they want."
"And Sirius is an Animagus as well."
"A big black dog," nodded Tonks. "He looks like a grim-uh, a hell hound."
"Ah. So did you ever…"
"I couldn't become an Animagus if I wanted to," explained Tonks. "I'm a metamorphmagus, a shapeshifter."
"What are your limits?"
"Oh, the usual. My mass can't be changed, neither can my bones. But I can change my pigment and soft tissue any way I want."
With that Tonks changed her hair from purple to bubble-gum pink. Her skin grew paler and her heart-shaped face became a bit more oval while her cheekones became less pronounced. Her eyes, which had been blue, changed to brown. All in all, she looked completely different.
"Is this genetic or learned?" asked Connor.
"Genetic. Mum and her sisters all have the power to some extent. We inherited it from my maternal grandmother, Druella Rosier."
Whatever Connor was going to say was interrupted by Harry changing back. Harry shook his head, then came to stand over by Tonks and Connor.
"I can't believe you did tell me you were a mongoose!" said Sirius.
"What? I wanted it to be a surprise, Padfoot. Mooney, I think Padfoot needs to be taken for walks more often."
"I can't help but agree, Tavi," said Remus. "At leas the name you picked now makes sense."
"Name? why are you calling each other by those names?"
"It's traditional," said Harry. "You see, when my father and his friends started the Marauders they all took nicknames based upon their animal half's form. Padfoot for a dog, Mooney for a werewolf, Wormtail for that rat," he spit out Wormtail's name. "And Prongs for a stag-that's my father, by the way. So I picked tavi because I'm a mongoose, Hermione picked whiskers because… well I'm not sure why, but I suppose it fits. And Ron picked Trick because foxes are generally thought of as tricksters."
"The Marauders were a group of pranksters, right?"
"Are, not were, and yup. We're already planning on starting a prank war when we get back to Hogwarts, on top of studying for our OWLs and continuing our training."
"Kind of make me glad I already graduated," muttered Tonks.
"Oh don't worry, you would have been pretty low on our list anyway."
"And who's high on the list?" asked Connor.
Harry paused, then explained. "We've talked about it, and we'll be starting out with anybody that hurt Luna. Then we'll move on to our own enemies." He paused. "Most of the school ostracizes Luna because they think she's strange, but a couple of them have done some really nasty stuff to her."