"Oh sweetheart, I'm so proud of you!" Andromeda Tonks exlaimed, draping her arm around her twenty-one year old daughter Nymphadora's slim shoulders. She had just been given her badge and robes after completing her Auror training and her parents had come to see the graduation ceremony and congratulate their only child.
"Thanks, Mum." Nymphadora, or Tonks as she preferred to be called, said, watching as her father wielded a camera.
"Show your badge 'Dora!" Ted Tonks exclaimed, beaming at her. She could not suppress a grin as she humored her proud father, holding it up so that he could get a good picture of it.
"Honestly Dad…" She muttered, but the proud smile betrayed her true feelings. Tonks had worked hard since she graduated from school, studying for Auror exams, training both physically and in magic defense spells. It had been a hard three years and she had busted her arse to get that badge. She let Ted take the picture.
"Tonks!" A nearby voice called. 'Dora grinned at the familiar growl of her mentor, Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, and turned to watch as he hobbled over, glaring at the people who stood in his way. Extending his gnarled hand to her father, he looked up at Ted Tonks to introduce himself. "Alastor Moody…your girl here was my prodigy in training…real talent…bit clumsy as hell." Andromeda winced slightly at his rough language, but managed a polite smile.
"That's our 'Dora…she's always been less than graceful." Andromeda squeezed Tonks's shoulders and kissed her daughter on the cheek.
"Mum…" Tonks groaned in humiliation, closing her eyes. She felt her father pat her shoulder supportively.
"The poor dear gets it from my side." Ted added with a chuckle. Mad-Eye merely grunted in response before brightening up, (As much as Mad-Eye Moody could brighten.)
"I tell you what though, that Metamorphmagus thing has its advantages in this business." Moody said, waving his wand carelessly and knocking into a young man walking by. He gave the boy a scathing look, sending him walking rather quickly in the other direction. Tonks shook her head.
"I can imagine. I just hope this business about a new war coming is just a rumour." Andromeda replied, frowning down at her daughter and biting her lip as if she were thinking that she might not want her only child being a Dark Wizard catcher anymore.
"Mum…don't worry…" Tonks assured her mother, "Harry Potter defeated You-Know-Who years ago." A flash of darkness crossed Andromeda's dark eyes and she shared a look with her husband, smoothing her daughter's pink hair.
"You're right…of course." Andromeda responded, her gray eyes sparkling all of a sudden. "I just can't forget the day they put Sirius in Azkaban…and now that he's escaped, I have to wonder…what if Bellatrix can get out too?" Ted reached over and pulled his wife into a tight embrace.
"Best not worry about that now Mrs. Tonks." Moody said, moving to stand beside Tonks. "Besides…your sister is in the highest level of the prison…she'll never make it out without receiving the kiss."
"What about Sirius though?" Andromeda sniffed. "They say he killed all of those Muggles…I still can't bring myself to believe it…he was good. He was a good person!" Tonks looked away, feeling uncomfortable. She barely remembered Sirius Black. She had been six the last time she'd seen him. It had been just before Halloween and they had seen him shopping with a friend.
October 28, 1981
"Don't let go of my hand, Dora…" Her mother told her gently. She looked up at her Mum and sighed.
"Can we please go into the ice cream parlour?" She asked hopefully. Andromeda smiled affectionately, touching her tiny daughter's little button nose. Dora made a face.
"If you're very good and stay close to Mummy, we can go in a get onescoop, Nymphadora." She told her. The little dark haired girl smiled contently until her mary-jane shoe got caught in between two cobblestones and she tumbled away from her mother straight into two young men.
"Sorry!" She cried, looking up at the two faces, full of youthful mischief.
"Sirius?" Her mother said, catching up to them and crouching to inspect Dora's state of disrepair.
"Andromeda!" One of the young men cried happily. "It's been ages. How've you been?"
"Busy…Dora keeps us busy." Andromeda replied, smoothing her daughter's long hair.
"Mum, stop…" Dora said, trying to worm out of her mother's grip.
"S'good to see you." Sirius told her as Andromeda straightened up. "This is my friend, Remus." He said, gesturing to his friend, who had short hair that was falling into his eyes. Dora gave him a scrutinizing look, tilting her head.
"You're tall." She said, staring up at the stranger. Sirius chuckled, coming down to crouch beside her.
"She's adorable, Dromeda. Hey Nymphadora…remember me?" He said. She glared at him.
"Don't call me Nymphadora!" She told him indignantly, sending the two boys into laughter. Sirius's eyes widened, impressed.
"Merlin!" He exclaimed. "Look at her hair…it's gone bright red…she's so cute!" Dora watched her older cousin with a blank expression on her face. She decided he was handsome. His hair was black and long and he had the same eyes as her mother…as her. His friend was handsome too, though it was hard to see his eyes under that mop of dark hair.
"I'm surprised she left it dark for as long as she did today." Her mother told Sirius. "Usually, she prefers bubble gum pink!"
"Blimey…" Sirius said, standing again.
"I'm a metamorphmagus." Dora said perfectly.
"You certainly are." Sirius told her, patting her head. She sighed, looking impatiently up at her Mum.
"Mummy, the ice cream parlour?" She implored.
"In a minute, sweetie." Andromeda said patiently.
"Sirius, have you heard anything new? Do you know where she is? I saw Narcissa briefly in September, but I haven't seen Bella." She said quietly.
"Dunno." Sirius said, looking grim. "I heard they've been targeting muggle-borns." He looked her mother in the eye. "Keep her inside, Andromeda. It's not safe. Especially for you with Bellatrix on the loose." Dora stared again at Sirius's friend. He looked down at her for a moment and brushed his hair out of his eyes. She could see his scarred face and his dark blue eyes.
"I like your eyes. They're pretty." She dared to tell him. The young man smiled in surprise, sharing a look with his friend. Sirius chuckled.
" I like your hair. It's pretty." He replied in a sweet sounding voice.
"I think she fancies you, Remus!" Sirius joked, elbowing him. "See…you aren't hopeless with women!"
"Oh yes, Sirius. I've caught the eye of a six year old—"
"Six and a half." She inserted adamantly, making Sirius laugh even harder.
"A six and a half year old." Remus remedied with a sigh. "My luck certainly has changed." He met little Dora's eyes. "Not that I don't appreciate the compliment." He assured her.
"Well, we must be going." Andromeda said. "It's getting dark and I promised Dora an ice cream. Good seeing you, Sirius. Nice seeing you again, Remus…Sirius, do come by around the holidays. We are, after all, the only members of the Blacks who are in good standing with each other." Sirius nodded.
"See you soon. Goodbye Nymphadora." Dora sighed.
Moody elbowed Tonks sharply, causing her to cry out.
"I need a word, Nymphadora." He told her, nodding away from her parents. Ted nodded, waving her off. She followed her mentor to stand behind a statue so that they could speak privately.
"Please call me Tonks." Nymphadora pleaded when her parents were out of earshot. Moody did not smile, however, he was stony faced and solemn.
"We found Sirius Black." He informed her quietly, waiting for a reaction. She stared back at him, flabbergasted.
"Is he going back to Azkaban?" She whispered, looking at her Mum. Moody shook his head.
"He was innocent." Moody told her in a hushed voice. Tonks's eyes narrowed suspiciously, not believing him.
"How do you know?"
"Dumbledore told me." He replied, challenging her to question Dumbledore. Her old headmaster was probably the most brilliant wizard of all time. If he believed Sirius Black was innocent, then so did she.
"What's to be done about it?" She asked, interested.
"Nothing to be done, Tonks. No one can know." Moody said.
"Why not?" She asked, frowning in confusion. "If he's innocent, I mean…surely there's some way—"
"Dumbledore says to keep him safe, he needs to stay out of sight. And he's Harry Potter's godfather." Tonks's eyes widened.
Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived. Every person in the wizarding world knew the name. He was the only person ever to survive the Killing Curse.
"Albus Dumbledore contacted me to teach at Hogwarts next year in the Defense Against the Dark Arts position." Moody added, watching her expression closely. She gasped, shaking her head.
"Don't do it Mad-Eye…it's cursed you know that!" She implored him. He nodded, but didn't look discouraged.
"Don't I know it…Remus Lupin just resigned from the position this month."
"Remus Lupin…" Tonks tried to remember how she knew the name before it hit her. "Sirius's old friend?" Moody nodded.
"Severus Snape blurted that he's a werewolf, so he resigned before the parents could complain to the school. Nice boy." He said. Tonks felt herself stiffen in surprise.
"I never knew he was a werewolf." She said, feeling completely naïve and out of the loop. Of course, the only time she'd ever met him, she'd been six. Just before Sirius had been taken…when he was twenty-one. That would make him…thirty-four years old. Which meant that Sirius was thirty-four as well. Moody went on.
"Dumbledore seems to think that You-Know-Who is going to come back soon…and since Hogwarts is hosting the Triwizard Tournament this year…"
"They are?" She interrupted, excitedly. Moody gave her a stern look, quieting her immediately.
"Yes." He snapped. " Albus thought it might be good to have me near to look after the boy…"
"Harry." She said to which he nodded in the affirmative. "How old is he now?"
"He'll be fourteen next month." Moody answered, making her sigh.
"Poor kid…" Moody nodded, his eyes growing dark.
"I just wanted to let you know what was going on, so you can be on the alert. Something's coming Tonks…and it's going to be ugly." He patted her shoulder before stalking away.
"Everything alright, love?" Andromeda asked when she returned. Tonks nodded, smiling and trying to look as though she weren't worried.
"I'm hungry…why don't we go eat?" She suggested, looking at her dad.
"That's the best idea I've heard today." Ted said, putting his arms around both women and leading them off.
"So…you resigned as Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor?" As stout wizard asked as Remus Lupin sat in his sixth interview this month alone. He shifted uncomfortably.
"Yes." Remus replied, wringing his hands and trying to ignore the soreness in his chest and the throbbing pain of the fresh cuts on his back.
"It says here you are a registered werewolf." The man went on. Remus nodded, swallowing. He'd decided that honesty had to be the best policy.
"That's correct. I was bitten as a child." He said, dreading the next bit. It always ended the same way.
"And how do you handle this…affliction?" The man asked, though he didn't look as if he really cared to hear the answer.
"Well, generally, I seclude myself somewhere that I can't get out of. Usually, my home, or a werewolf community."
"I see." The man said replied, not looking at him as he scribbled notes on a piece of parchment before looking up. He sighed. "Well, Mr. Lupin…though your credentials are good, and I see here that you have a reference from Albus Dumbledore himself, I'm afraid we cannot hire you." Remus's eyes fell to look down at his scarred hands, but he nodded tiredly.
"I understand." Remus said, standing before the man could say anything else. "Well, thank you anyway." He said, extending his hand to the man, who stared at it as if he'd offered him bogey flavored jelly bean. "Good day to you Mr. Riggs."
As he walked out of the library, Remus sighed, checking off another disappointment. He'd been out of Hogwarts for six months now…and it was looking to be bleaker that he could have imagined. He was running out of money. If it hadn't been for Sirius these past months, Remus would have been homeless as well. He'd been forced to leave the job he loved, lack of money had gotten him evicted from his flat. Dejected, he apparated back to Grimmauld Place and quietly walked inside the old house, careful not to wake the sleeping portrait of Mrs. Black. Sirius was not there of course, he was somewhere in the Mediterranean recovering from thirteen years of being locked away for a crime he did not commit. Things were looking down for Remus. His parents had been dead for years now, and the idea of joining a werewolf community was beginning to have its appeal. Though they were filthy, horrid people, at least he wouldn't be alone…condemned a freak by society.
He sorely wished James and Lily were still alive. James, through all of his arrogance had always been there for him when Remus was down and Lily was probably the kindest person he'd ever met. She'd had to have been if she married James Potter…he thought with a grin, despite his misery. A small package sat on the table, a note on it.
I thought you might need this…some food would do you well.
All our love,
Molly and Arthur
He smiled at the kind gesture and opened the package. Molly Weasley had packed enough food to last a few weeks. Ever since he'd left Hogwarts, Molly had been sending him care packages after Dumbledore had explained what had happened when he'd decided to resign.
"Engorgio." He muttered and the food suddenly filled the table. He chose a stew and repacked the rest of the food before heating it on the stove. The only sound in the house was the ticking of the clock. Even Kreacher hadn't been seen for days. To think that, at this time last year, he had been a teacher. At Hogwarts. He'd had students who loved him and respected him. Now, he was likely being ridiculed by the children he'd loved teaching so dearly.
His mind wandered to Harry. Peter Pettigrew had been missing since that night in early June, and had no doubt had rejoined his master. Remus had no doubt that Voldemort would return, and soon, if Dumbledore was correct. No one had hoped more than Remus that Voldemort had died that night thirteen years ago. He ate his food in silence as he read the Daily Prophet headline: "RUBEUS HAGRID: WIZARD OR GIANT?" Remus nearly choked as he read Rita Skeeter's article about Hagrid's real mother. How could she? How could that nosy woman hurt an innocent like Hagrid who did nothing but care for others with no regard for himself? Just because he was different!
"It isn't right!" He said aloud, slamming his fist on the table in anger and dropping the paper on the table. Control your temper Remus…He reminded himself.
"Remus?" A woman's voice came from behind him, startling him. He grabbed his wand and whirled to see Molly and Arthur Weasley standing in the kitchen.
"Molly!" Remus exclaimed in surprise. The flame haired witch stepped forward, smiling fondly at him.
"We were just stopping by to check on you…have you heard from Sirius?" She asked. "Don't worry…we've been filled in by Dumbledore. He came to us just after the school year." Remus shook his head.
"Not for a while now." He paused, embarrassed. "I'm sorry…I didn't mean for anyone to see my outburst juat then." Arthur Weasley looked at the headline.
"So you've read it too." Arthur said quietly, taking off his glasses and cleaning them.
"It's the most disgusting thing I've ever read." Remus replied quietly. Molly was staring at him.
"Merlin Remus, what is the matter? Have you been eating?" She asked. He sighed, sitting down.
"Yes…I…had another interview today." He said.
"Well that's good, did it go well?"She asked, sounding thoroughly like his mother. He did not answer her question, instead letting her deduce from his lack of reaction what had happened. "I'm sorry, dear." She said earnestly.