Originally written for the Lovers' Moon Fic Jumble at MetamorFic Moon, the first four chapters of this fic won the Readers' Choice award. As always, thanks to Godricgal, beta extraordinaire.

1. Puzzle Pieces

Tonks stopped talking.

Across the desk, the keen yellow eyes studied her, unblinking behind the wire-rimmed glasses perched low on the Head of Aurors' broad nose.

She squirmed under Rufus Scrimgeour's intense scrutiny, trying to keep her fingers from weaving nervously together, and instead to hold her shoulders erect. Back straight. Head high. Chin jutting just slightly, in that proud aristocratic posture her mother had so vigilantly sought to instil in her.

As it always had done, the decidedly non-aristocratic slumped shoulders characteristic of Ted Tonks won out over the Black side. Neither the Ravenclaw braininess she'd inherited from her dad, nor the occasional shrewd, self-serving Slytherin attributes that came from her mother, provided the courage Tonks needed to face this lionesque man. Not for the first time, she wished she'd been sorted into Gryffindor, as so many of the other Aurors and Auror cadets seemed to have been. Who'd have thought Slytherins and Ravenclaws bred Hufflepuffs? Her dad always said it was symbolic of their love story, but Tonks just thought it figured that a Metamorphmagus didn't really fit anywhere.

When Scrimgeour abruptly pushed his squeaky chair back from his desk, she cursed her persuasive abilities in the same way she cursed her balance. He stood and, with hands clasped behind his back, crossed the short space to the enchanted window. Magical Maintenance had declared today gloriously sunny, despite torrential rain outside. In the artificial light, the silver streaks seemed to disappear from the tawny mane of hair; but the lines of his face, particularly the grim line of his mouth, were more visible. Tonks was sure they spelled the denial of her request.

You may not be a Ravenclaw, Tonks, but you're clever enough to work out that you've got to be out of your bloody mind to think he'd actually go along with this mad--

"I must say, Tonks," Scrimgeour's rumbling tones interrupted her harsh inner voice, "that I am quite at a loss as to why you think you're in danger of not qualifying for Auror come next summer."

He turned to her, eyes golden and acute as flame.

"It was, after all," he continued, "at Alastor Moody's insistence that I accepted you into he programme, and you have proved a worthy protégée of the best Auror the Ministry ever had."

Tonks dropped her gaze to her lap, and saw that her hands had slid down either side of her thighs to clutch the edges of her chair. As big an honour as it was to be Mad-Eye's protégée, there were more times it was a hell of a lot -- too much, even -- to live up to.

Courage, Tonks. Just cos you're not a Gryffindor doesn't mean you haven't got courage. Have a little faith in yourself. You work hard. That's always got you what you want.

She drew a deep breath. Released the chair from white-knuckled fingers. Looked up. Met Scrimgeour's eyes. Tried not to think about the fact that he held her future -- and really her whole life up to this moment -- in his hands. Instead, she tried to focus on the fact that he seemed disinclined to let her slip through his fingers.

Except he would have to, if she missed the mark.

"Stealth and Tracking, Sir," Tonks said, hearing a catch in her voice as breathlessness stole through her chest again. "Particularly the Stealth part."

"Ah." Scrimgeour smiled slightly in understanding, and removed his spectacles to buff the lenses on his scarlet robes. "Yes, I do recall your second year marks being lower in those areas than in your other courses of study."

Her gaze drifted over his shoulder, to his Certificates of Meritorious Service framed on the walls; to the Order of Merlin encased in glass in a place of honour on a bookshelf; to the photographs of himself with past Ministers of Magic and Aurors of renown, not least among them Frank and Alice Longbottom and Mad-Eye, who had given life and limb for the law.

This is what you're working for, Tonks. Success people can see and touch and believe.

Her attention was drawn back to Scrimgeour by a flash of white as he suddenly bared his teeth in a grin. "Though lower than perfect can hardly be considered low, can it?"

"Thank you, Sir."

Tonks started to protest that it was hardly fair to call her Concealment and Disguise marks perfect when they required no effort other than a scrunched up forehead, but before she could, Scrimgeour had put on his glasses and begun to speak again.

"Mightn't a dance class get to the root of the problem?" He clipped his fingers. "Nip those balance and coordination problems in the bud?"

"My mother tried, Sir. Unfortunately balance and coordination are required for dancing, as well."

"Yes, well." Scrimgeour gave a growling sort of chuckle as he limped back to his desk, piled high with sheaves of parchment and stacks of folders. He became serious again as he leant his weight against it. "Your training schedule is already very rigorous, Tonks."

"I'll make it work," she replied without hesitation. "Even if it's just the smallest of cases, I'd feel a lot better about the examinations if I've actually done a bit of detective work."

Scrimgeour's hmm was a deep rumble in his throat as he ran his index finger along the edge of a file. "There is one I'd feel comfortable handing over to you -- under supervision, of course."

"Of course." Tonks sat up straight, though she doubted whether her mother would equate the posture of excitement with a noble demeanour. "What's the case, Sir?"

"MLE handed this over to the Auror division." Scrimgeour drew his wand from his breast pocket, gave it a little flick that pulled a folder from the bottom of a stack without upsetting it, and slid the folder across the desk to her. As she snatched it up eagerly, he went on, "I told Bones she was a damn fool if she thought my office could spare time from the Black search for some missing birds."

The file suddenly feeling like a Dark Object, it slipped from Tonks' hands, scattering papers onto the floor around her feet as it landed in her lap. "The Snidgets that were stolen from the Sheringham Snidget Sanctuary."

She winced at the flatness of her tone.

Good job, Tonks. Whinge when he gives you what you asked for.

Fortunately Scrimgeour didn't seem to register any meaning from her tone apart from mutual disdain that Bones had seen fit to trouble him with the case. "Personally, I don't think MLE should lift a bloody finger to help that damn sanctuary. Isn't that what those places are for, to protect species? But those environmentalist nutters wake up one morning, and some bastard's nicked their entire damn flock of endangered Snidgets!"

"Bit careless, yeah," said Tonks, summoning the case documents from the floor to settle every which way in the folder open on her lap. Despite the fact that she'd wanted something more in line with the Black case, she couldn't squelch a slight interest in the missing birds. "There haven't been any leads?"

"No one's had the time to look for any, what with Black escaping at about the same time." With a snort of disdain, Scrimgeour went on, "Newt Scamander thinks it's a conspiracy. Old fool read some article in The Quibbler about Black being a smokescreen for the Snidgetnapper."

"If I were going to birdnap a bloody flock of Snidgets," said Tonks, "I know I'd stage the first ever in Wizarding history Azkaban breakout as a cover-up."

Scrimgeour's rich laugh rang through the office. "I'd give you your full qualification just for your sense of humour, you know."

"In that case," she said, slapping the folder down on the Head Auror's desk, "I'll stop dragging my bum out of bed every morning at the crack of dawn and start having nice lie-ins instead."

She laughed softly along with him because she felt she ought to, not because she really shared his humour. Probably she was being overly sensitive, but she couldn't help but feel rubbed the wrong way at the hint that her coveted job might be handed to her on a silver platter because of what she was, and not because she'd earned it.

When Scrimgeour's laughter died, and the office became quiet once again except for the hum of activity and magical energy from beyond the door, he handed her the file once more. "I'll give you this case, Tonks, if you want it. But you've nothing to prove to me."

"Thank you, Sir," said Tonks, standing and having to reach back for the arm rests as she caught her foot on a chair leg. "That means a lot. I think I've got something to prove to the squad, though."

The yellow eyes regarded her for another long moment, and Tonks pleaded silently with Merlin to let Scrimgeour know without her having to say that she sensed a degree of resentment from the other recruits about her natural aptitude for Concealment and Disguise, and her equally natural ineptitude for Stealth and Tracking, and over all, Mad-Eye's favouritism.

"Fair enough." Scrimgeour reached out to shake her hand firmly. "Tell Kingsley you're to report directly to him. I'll write up an official document granting you jurisdiction for questioning."

When Tonks tripped over her chair again on her way out of Scrimgeour's office, she turned back to him, blushing. "Just got tripped up by the idea of me having jurisdiction, Sir. Promise I'll be stealthy when I'm out in the field exercising it!"

"Where do you mean to start, then?" asked Kingsley Shacklebolt around his steak and kidney pie.

"Well..." Tonks glanced around the Leaky Cauldron, which was practically empty due in part to the torrential downpour outside, as well as it being an hour before the dinner rush. In two years of Auror training, she'd got used to eating at off times, and not having much of a social life, but the gloomy weather did absolutely nothing for her today.

"First," she said, "I thought I'd search all the British Quidditch teams' equipment to see if they've gone back to old rules and are using Snidgets instead of Snitches. Then, if they don't turn up in Great Britain, I'll go to the Continent and check all the other teams' equipment."

Kingsley gulped down his food, then stared at her, eyes round with incredulity. "You're taking the piss."

Rolling her eyes, Tonks tore off a chunk of bread and dipped it in her stew. "Of course I'm taking the piss, Kingsley. What do you take me for, a complete idiot?"

He shrugged. "You never know with cadets."

Poised to pop her bread in her mouth, Tonks tossed the soggy bit at Kingsley, instead, hitting him squarely in the shoulder and leaving a globby brown trail on his Auror uniform as the bread slid down his chest.

"Oi! I just did the wash last night!"

"Stop whinging, you lazy bachelor! That's what Scourgifies are for."

"Yeah, well you leave the Scourgify to me. I've seen you cast them, and I won't have you stripping the dye--"

Tonks whisked out her wand. "Keep it up, Shacklebolt, or the dye won't be the only thing stripped--"


Now it was Tonks who sat with her mouth hanging open.

Kingsley quirked an eyebrow; the golden hoop in his ear seemed to wink at her as it caught the light. "Awfully bold for a cadet, aren't you?"

Tonks leant across the table, upsetting her tankard of Butterbeer as she reached for her wand, which Kingsley used to clean up the drink before it could spill over the edge of the table.

"You know," Tonks said, snatching her wand and pocketing it, "I'm beginning to think it won't be Stealth and Tracking that keep me from qualifying, but this sense of humour thing. Is there some memo I've missed about Aurors not being allowed to have them?"

Kingsley shook his head and shovelled more steak and kidney pie into his mouth. "Humour's highly recommended. It's just most of us have had it beaten out of us after a few years on the squad."

"Maybe not qualifying would be a blessing, then."

Fork scraping the bottom of his plate, Kingsley caught her with a level stare. "Tonks, you've got to stop saying you're not going to qualify. You'll jinx yourself."

"Okay," she said, dismissively, but Kingsley shook his head, refusing to let her continue.

"Look, I don't claim to know what you're thinking or feeling, but from where I stand--"

"You're not standing, you're sitting."

"--it looks like your problem is that you're trying to hard when certain people are watching."

Tonks slumped forward on her elbows and raked her fingers through her hair. "Why d'you think I want an assignment of my own?"

"If your problem's the pressure, shouldn't you work with a partner?"

"It's my own confidence issues," Tonks blurted, at once compelled to be honest with Kingsley, yet also hating herself for talking about lack of self-assurance to a bloody Gryffindor. "I need to have one good run at catching a baddie where I don't botch it by tripping over my own feet or falling downstairs. If I can have that, I'll be good to do it with a team."

After a moment of silent staring, Kingsley said, "Okay," then hunched over his dinner. "Though, it'd be simpler if you just got yourself a boyfriend."

Tonks choked on a bit of potato and washed it down with a swig of Butterbeer. Hoarsely, she sputtered, "A boyfriend?"

"Theoretically," said Kingsley in the sort of authoritative tones he used during training sessions, "you'll be much more awkward around a bloke you fancy than around your colleagues, right?"


"So you'll get it out of your system whilst working out your sexual tension, and be tip top for the job."

Tonks felt her eyebrows disappear into her fringe as she watched Kingsley's poker face slowly break into a broad grin as his rich laughter rippled out.

With another, more dramatic, eye roll, Tonks dipped her bread into her stew and deliberated wasting more by throwing it at the senior Auror's other shoulder. "You're an idiot, Kingsley."

"No -- the idiot would be the person working overtime for a flock of sodding Snidgets."

Mouth too full to respond, Tonks could only hope her scowl lent the proper inflection to her otherwise unintelligible grunt.

"Just trying to remember that whole humour thing," said Kinglsey. "But since you clearly don't appreciate my jokes, I'll be perfectly serious." Smile falling from his face as one eyebrow arched, he asked, "Tell me -- where do you plan to start?"

"I've got a better idea." Tonks drained her pint, wiped her mouth on the back of her hand, and stood. "I'll show you."

From beneath her umbrella, Tonks watched Kingsley sweep his gaze over the Diagon Alley shop façade. His mouth was set in an unreadable line, but when he asked why she'd chosen the Magical Menagerie as the starting point for her investigation, she was sure he must be inwardly criticising her.

"Because," she said, jaw tight and voice edgy, "the first rule of theft investigation is to look for stolen things is in places that sell things."

"Right." Kingsley nodded. "And since Snidgets are extremely rare, close to extinction, the most likely reason for theft would be profit."

"Hence the pet shop."

Kingsley held up his free hand, palm out. The gesture which was meant to be conciliatory, but it struck Tonks as maddening.

"No need to be defensive, Tonks. Only Scrimgeour wants this to be a teaching experience for me as much as a learning experience for you, and I thought I should point out--"

"The obvious?"

"No..." Kingsley drew the word out in a low, tolerant tone; at the same time, Tonks saw his fingers tighten around his umbrella handle.

The obvious sign that his patience was wearing thin made her stomach rebel slightly against the beef stew she'd had at the Leaky. She was wearing it thin. Kingsley's patience -- which, she'd noticed since he'd been put in charge of the Sirius Black search, seemed to be boundless.

She looked down at her red Wellies, normally spangled with white stars, but which she'd charmed off today for a more professional look. "Sorry. What did you want to point out?"

To Tonks' relief, Kingsley's deep tones contained no tension. "I wanted to ask whether a shop with the Magical Menagerie's repute was the most likely place to find stolen merchandise."

"Madam Dolittle's too sharp to have bought Snidgets," Tonks admitted, then added, "But she might have been asked." Her voice pitched higher at the end, creating more a question than a confident statement, which she wished she could take back because Kingsley would say the Snidget case had been all over the bleeding Prophet, even if it had been near the back; Madam Dolittle wouldn't have missed it, and would have contacted Magical Law Enforcement if anyone had tried to sell her any.

Thankfully, Kingsley only said, "She might have been." Tilting his head toward the door, he said, "Go on, then."

"Right." Tonks grabbed the handle, but didn't open the door. She stood, quite literally, at the threshold of one of the more pivotal moments of her life.

You're going to walk through that door, Tonks, and question someone about a crime. You've got jurisdiction. The Head of Aurors trusts you. You're Mad-Eye's protégée for a reason.

Drawing a deep breath, she pulled the door open and strode through.

When she'd lowered her umbrella, shrunk it, and tucked it into her shoulder bag, she pulled Scrimgeour's sealed note from her pocket. Poised to flash it authoritatively at Madam Dolittle, she silently rehearsed the declaration she would make: Wotcher. Tonks here, for the Auror Department. I'd like to ask you about a flock of Snidgets.

Except that drawing in a deep breath really wasn't the best idea to prepare yourself for crossing a pet shop threshold.

Tonks got a whiff of putrid sawdust mixed with cat litter and bird droppings, layered thickly over the smells of the animals themselves, along with the more pungent odours of the various flea and hairball potions. The stench very nearly physically knocked her down. It did knock her bold opening statement right out of her head.

The only consoling thing was that Madam Dolittle was deep in conversation with a customer over one of the large rabbits that turned into a top hat, and Tonks wouldn't have been able to speak to her immediately, anyway. This gave her time to remember what she'd wanted to say, at least.

She glanced at her wristwatch. They'd better not talk about that bloody rabbit till she had to leave for her night tracking class. Or the stink better not kill her first. Merlin, it was noxious. Really, the air could be poisonous. Would it be offensive to do a Bubble-head Charm? she wondered as she shuffled awkwardly around shelves and display tables, trying in vain to get someplace other than downwind. Probably.

"If you won't consider getting a boyfriend, Tonks," boomed Kingsley's voice, his flow of air clearly not troubled by smells as he browsed a row of meowing cages, "you could always get a cat instead."

"And take up reading soppy Fifi Lafoile bodice-rippers when I'm off duty? Now that's less idiotic than hunting Snidget thieves."

"Hey now," said Kingsley, arching a brow as he looked up from lifting a black kitten which looked tiny in his huge hands. "My mum's got cats and reads those."

"Don't bring your mum into this." Tonks stepped nearer to Kingsley as the kitten rubbed its face against his thumb and flicked beckoning green eyes toward her. "You're the one who's being a git, taking cheap shots at my social life."

"Cadets never have social lives."

"Do you always rub their noses in it?"


Despite her brain telling her that this kitten was one of the culprits in making this shop reek, Tonks reached out a hand to rub its cheeks. "You're such a lovely bloke, Kingsley."

Merlin, the kitten was so soft, and let out such a tiny mew, that it was all she could do not to say, Her's an adowable fwuffy ickle furball, oh yes her is! Maybe a cat wasn't such a bad idea. She wasn't home much, and even though she had a flatmate, Desdemona was a Mediwitch for the Tutshill Tornados and travelled with the team, so when Tonks was home, her flat got awfully lonely sometimes. Imagine this little girl bounding to greet her when she came home, rubbing against her leg, purring, curling up with her in bed...

Adding a lot more chores to your list of householdy things you never do.

Tonks withdrew her hand from scratching the kitten's head and, stepping back from Kingsley, settled it on her hip.

"And you're single by choice, right?" she asked, drawing his eye. "Not because senior Aurors' social lives are even more pathetic than cadets'?"

Shooting her a mock glower, Kingsley opened his mouth in retort, but before he could get a word out, the bell jangled as the customer exited the shop with a new pet rabbit, and the proprietress picked her way around the cages and other merchandise stacked haphazardly around the cash desk.

"Mr. Shacklebolt." She blinked owlishly behind her thick, black-framed glasses as she wiped a hand on her apron which, Tonks noted, was covered with animal fur. Tonks didn't even want to know what it was stuck to her skin with. "Miss--"

"Tonks," she introduced herself. "Rufus Scrimgeour's sent us..." It's your assignment! "Sent me...to ask..." She drew a breath to steady her trembling voice. "Do you know anything about the Snidgets that went missing from the sanctuary up in Sheringham?"

Madam Dolittle stepped backward into the cash desk, mouth agape and eyes as huge as Sybill Trelawney's.

"Nobody's accusing you, Madam Dolittle!" Tonks assured her, and quickly explained why the investigation had brought her here.

By degrees the shop keeper relaxed, though when Tonks had finished, Madam Dolittle shook her head and clucked her tongue as she reached into a tank and stroked the smooth, shimmery scales of a lizard.

"Sorry, Miss, but there's not been--oh!" The lizard scuttled away from her and hid between two rocks. "There was this fellow! I've just remembered!"

"Who? When?" Heart racing, Tonks scrabbled in her bag for a notebook and quill.

Keep your hair on, Tonks, she told herself, as she caught a sideways glimpse of Kingsley obviously battling a laugh as he pretended to play with the kitten. You're making a bleeding idiot of yourself in front of Kingsley. It's your first investigation, not your first sodding date.

But Madam Dolittle hadn't seemed to notice any lack of professionalism and, without further prompting, said, "I couldn't tell you much about him, only that he was a real shabby, shady character -- the sort you'd meet in Knockturn Alley, if you know what I mean. Of course you know what I mean. You're an Auror, you deal with that lot every day."

"Actually I've only just begun my third year of training," Tonks said. "D'you remember anything specific about him? A unique feature? The colour of his hair? Something about the way he walked?"

After a moment's thought, Madam Dolittle frowned and said, "No. It was a right zoo in here that day -- you know, the start of term rush."

Tonks started to sigh, but then the shopkeeper brightened and said, proudly, "I could tell you the date, though! I sold a great ginger cat that day, to one of the schoolgirls. Bushiest hair I ever laid eyes on. The girl, not the cat. Though the cat's fairly fluffy, himself...I remember because the puss went mad and chased the youngest Weasley boy's rat. Unnaturally old rat, remarkable. And I keep records of every sale, so I can tell you when they came in here, if that's any help at all."

Before Tonks could say it would be, Madam Dolittle's eyebrows slanted sharply, knitting at the bridge of her nose.

"But I'm sorry to say the cat and rat distracted me from paying the man any mind except to tell him I didn't buy stock from strangers and to please get off the premises."

Tonks' heart sank as she felt the potential clue slip through her fingers, but then Madam Dolittle, in the middle of a ramble about how she noticed animals more than people, grinned again.

"Though now I think of it," she said, "I seem to recall maybe he stank."

"Must've reeked if you could smell him over all this," Tonks muttered as she scratched out a note -- then dropped her quill as it registered what she'd just said. "Oh Bloody hell! Madam Dolittle, I didn't mean--"

The shopkeeper cackled. "Merlin love you! It's a pet shop! I know it stinks to high heaven in here!"

Relieved, Tonks continued to blush as she wrangled her quill from a very fat tabby that had appeared from nowhere and pounced on it. "What sort of smell did the bloke have?"

Smiling apologetically, Madam Dolittle spread her hands. "Truth be told, I don't smell much these days."

"That's okay," Tonks said, though she gritted her teeth that a faulty olfactory system stood between her and the Snidgetnapper. Not sure it gave her any real lead whatsoever, she asked as she stood, "If I can just get that date from you -- and the name of the girl who bought the cat from you? She might've noticed the smelly man inquiring after Snidgets. And a Weasley was with her, you said?"

Madam Dolittle bobbed her head and motioned for Tonks to follow her to the cash desk. She licked her index finger, which Tonks was sure she couldn't have washed since she'd handled that rabbit, then thumbed through her account book. "August...August...the...thirty-first...A

h! Here we are! One ginger cat, sold to Miss Hermione Granger...And one phial rat tonic sold to Mr. Ronald Weasley."

As Tonks scribbled down the names, Madam Dolittle said, "Talking of school children, have you seen the Evening Prophet?"

"No." Tonks glanced back at Kingsley, who looked up from the black kitten he was returning to its cage with an expression of keen interest. "What's happened to them?"

"Just one, but horrible, horrible. Miracle he was the only child hurt, and even luckier he was only hurt, and not killed!" Madam Dolittle's spectacles slipped down onto the end of her hooked nose as she rifled through the papers littering the desk. "Seem to have mislaid my copy...probably lining a bird cage already..." She looked up and pushed her glasses up. "Rubeus Hagrid's teaching Care of Magical Creatures there now, and he thought it would be a brilliant idea to teach his third years how to handle Hippogriffs!"

"Bloody hell!" cried Tonks, as Kingsley let out a low whistle. "I reckon he's been sacked, then?"

Madam Dolittle clucked her tongue. "I can't imagine the governors would allow him to stay. It was Lucius Malfoy's son got slashed." She winced and hissed through her teeth. "Hippogriff talons. Most grown witches and wizards can't stand a good cat scratch. But a boy clawed by a Hippogriff--"

"Kingsley!" Tonks wheeled around. "Will you excuse me from Tracking tonight?"

He arched his eyebrows, begging for an explanation.

"I've got a bit of tracking of my own to do." The words tumbled out, like a barrage of spells during a duel, as excitement welled up. This was why she'd become an Auror. This rush she got from puzzling clues together. "At Hogwarts."

"Sorry, Tonks, but if you're going to question kids, you've got to get parental permission -- through Scrimgeour."

"Not the kids. Ha--" Remembering they were in public, Tonks stepped away from the desk, closer to Kingsley, and cast a Muffliato. "I want to question Hagrid!"

"You think Hagrid stole the Snidgets?"

Tonks cringed to hear her puzzle pieces put together like that, accusing a man she'd always thought of as very kindly, if a bit simple, of theft. Her heart sank heavily as she considered that Hagrid wasn't even a fully qualified wizard. Making off with an entire flock of rare and protected birds required a bit of a criminal mastermind, didn't it? And brains aside, Hagrid was hardly the type, was he?

"I didn't mean--" She stopped short as Kingsley's eyebrows rose higher up.

"What's your instinct, Tonks? What came together to make you think of Hagrid?"

Without hesitation, Tonks replied, "The Hippogriff. The actual theft of the Snidgets is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the sort of bloke that gets hold of Hippogriffs for the classroom's exactly the sort that might come into contact with snatched Snidgets. Whether by theft or by thief."

Kingsley's earring glimmered in the shop light. "Go on, then. Tonight you'll have your own Tracking class at Hogwarts. Better fly, if you don't want to be tardy."

Stop grinning like a sodding idiot, Tonks. It's not Aurorly.

But try as she might, she couldn't stop.

Bugger Aurorly. You've got a lead for your very own case. And they like you because you laugh and smile.

"Thanks, Kingsley!"

She bounded for the door -- but that gigantic cat (Was it a relation of Mrs. Norris'?) ran through her path, and as she flailed for balance, it occurred to her she ought to thank Madam Dolittle for the lead.

The shopkeeper didn't acknowledge the thanks she threw back over her shoulder -- because Tonks hadn't undone the Muffliato Charm. But, seeing as her feet seemed intent on blundering out the door, Tonks made up her mind that when she solved this case tonight, she'd show her gratitude properly by coming back and buying a cat.

A/N: I appreciate my readers very much and would love to know what you think of the start of this "What if Remus and Tonks met before the Order?" scenario. Those who comment can be assured an appearance from our favorite DADA professor in the next chapter. Well, unless your favorite DADA professor is Snape. Then I can't promise to deliver... ;)

A/N: If you let me know what you thought of this chapter, I promise Remus will be in chapter two.