April 4, 1997

Please report to the Auror Department immediately. This is an order. There has been an emergency.

Robards

Tonks felt her heart sink as she strode out of the castle with Proudfoot and Dawlish, both of whom were silent. She pulled her robes tightly around her as they made their way toward Hogsmeade to the nearest Apparition point. They had not been called together like this since they'd been given their station orders in July. She'd tried to keep to herself for the most part, knowing that she was on thin ice with the department as it was. All of them were on edge and it seemed like nobody really knew what was going on.

The three Aurors apparated to the employee entrance and showed their badges to a nearby guard, who gestured for them to pass.

"Bloody Hell, what now?" Proudfoot grumbled as they all stepped into the lift. Tonks stumbled forward when someone pushed her from behind. Turning her head in irritation, she glared at Albert Runcorn, who gave her a withering glance before sliding into the lift with them. She barely was able to swallow her anger when they arrived at Level Two, where the Auror Office was located. Following Dawlish and Savage, she looked once more at Runcorn, who was skimming some papers.

"Tonks!" Dawlish snapped, pulling her by the arm and guiding her toward the open door to the Auror Department. If she'd been in a bad mood before, she felt no better when they all entered.

"Why is she always bloody around now?" Tonks muttered to Proudfoot, who looked down at her with a sympathetic glance.

"Not your favorite, eh?" He asked, patting her back. "Cheer up, lass…look who's here." He pointed forward and Tonks turned to see a grinning Drew Savage standing there. Her heart sped up in happiness at the sight of her former partner and friend.

"Hey, Shorty!" He chuckled, coming toward them and giving her a quick hug.

"Hello, Dad." She smiled, looking up into his tired eyes. "How are you?"

"Exhausted, truth be told. But ecstatic. He's perfect, Tonks." Savage told her, reaching into his pocket and withdrawing a photo to show her. A newborn baby with bright open eyes stared at the camera while gumming his tiny fist. She could not help herself, she melted.

"Look at his chubby cheeks!" She gushed, feeling a pang of longing at the sight of the dark haired infant. "Oh, he's so adorable, Drew! Elissa must be thrilled!"

"We both are! She was absolutely amazing…I never thought I could love her more than I did already, but it's like he made me love her ten times more." Drew explained, drawing a dreamy look on his face. "His name is Jacob."

"Lovely." Tonks nodded sincerely, swallowing the lump in her own throat as she hugged Savage again. "I missed having someone to talk to during patrols though." Savage darkened, patting her shoulder.

"I know. I'm sorry…but it looks like you won't have to worry about that anymore." He assured her in a low voice, making her brighten.

"You're coming back?" She asked hopefully, but he shook his head, confusing her.

"They're pulling us out of the whole operation. Hogwarts, St. Mungo's, everywhere…" He informed her, looking around to make sure no one heard. "Said the Aurors have more important things to worry about."

"Like what?" Tonks hissed angrily, her earlier surliness returning with a vengeance.

"A little boy was killed, Tonks. Early this morning…Simon Montgomery. Five. Years. Old." He said, shaking his head. There was a husky, choked sound to his voice. "By Fenrir Greyback." Tonks reeled backwards, tumbling into Proudfoot's arm.

"No…you're sure it was him?" She asked to which Savage nodded with a grim look.

"He'd tried to recruit the mother for You-Know-Who…apparently, she's some sort of expert family historian. People go to her when they want to trace their lineage back. When she refused him, he used Petrificus Totalis and made her watch while he bit her son. Luckily, her girls are at Hogwarts. Simon was taken to St. Mungo's but Greyback snagged the main artery. Poor little thing died within an hour." Tonks stared at Savage unable to speak. Words ran through her mind like a faucet she couldn't stop.

I was five years old…

He bit me as a punishment to my father…

"Tonks? Hey…" Savage's voice brought her back into focus. He had a look of brotherly concern on his face. "You're crying, Shorty. Here…" He handed her a tissue. "Didn't know it would affect you so badly."

"I just…can't help it." Tonks sighed, shaking her head. "That poor little boy. His mother must be ill with grief…he was practically a baby."

"Okay." Savage said, rubbing her back soothingly. "Okay…they're going to start. Let's head over." Embarrassed, Tonks pulled away from Drew and crossed her arms tightly as if that could keep her emotions in check. Robards stood beside Umbridge and Scrimgeour just as he had the day she had been put on probation. Her stomach began to roil with apprehension.

"As you all have heard by now, a five year old boy was killed by Greyback. The death report this morning confirmed that obviously, he was not in transformation at the time as the next full moon is the twenty-second, but there were still traces of lycanthropy in the blood along with something we haven't seen before. Fairy blood…it looks like we have another uprising of the ancient werewolf cult on our hands." He looked down at his clipboard and sighed. "Fairy blood is a silver substance which enhances sensations and strength. It is illegal to use or obtain it as fairies are an endangered species. It has also been found to alter one's appearance with each use. This is our perpetrator." Robards brandished a photo of Greyback. "Which brings us to our next order of business. A new procedure…Dolores?" He turned to Umbridge, who cleared her throat in that sickening way of hers.

"If you come into contact with any werewolf whatsoever, it is your responsibility as an Auror to the Ministry of Magic to detain and incarcerate said werewolf in Azkaban. There have been enough attacks lately." Her eyes fell on Tonks momentarily. "Which is also why we have written an addendum to the Ban on Experimental Breeding."

"Oh no." Tonks muttered, looking sideways at Savage. His face was pale.

"Lycanthropes are hereby forbidden from reproducing. Failure to comply with this Ban will result in imprisonment as well as sterilization along with the extermination of the offspring."

"You're saying you're going to kill babies?" Tonks heard herself say, stepping forward.

"Tonks, no." Savage whispered fearfully, but Tonks gave him a look. Umbridge smiled sweetly at her, tilting her head slightly.

"Auror Tonks, why am I not surprised to hear you have an opinion on this matter?" She said, eyeing Tonks. "It would do you well to remember your current position, Miss Tonks."

"Why am I not surprised that you could just murder a baby without any consideration? Or have you never read the article by Newt Scamander on his theory about Lycanthropy not being a genetic trait?" She challenged, ignoring the murmurs around her and Savage trying to grab her arm.

"We are in no position to take chances on theories, Auror Tonks, and if I were you, I would be—"

"No, so instead we would murder an infant rather than test the theory by the most renowned expert on Magical Creatures in the world…why would we chance actually learning anything?" She glared at the woman, advancing on her through the crowd. "I know exactly why." She growled at the woman, feeling her anger bubble over dangerously. "Because you might be proven wrong and then your ridiculous misguided campaign against anything different than you may come to a fucking end!"

"Miss Tonks, if you think—"

"Why don't you just start rounding up Muggle-born witches and wizards and executing them too? We all know how much you would love that!" Tonks cried, unhinged. "Why don't you execute me? I'm a half-blood shape-shifter!"

"Tonks, you may not speak to your Under-Secretary that way!" Robards thundered at her, giving her a look that would have made anyone else shrink under his piercing gaze. Tonks stood to her full five feet three inches and looked up into his eyes without any fear. Her blood was tingling through her veins with something she could not identify. Silently, she pulled her badge out of her pocket and chucked it at Robards before ripping her red Auror robes off.

"She is not my Under-Secretary and I will never take another order from her…or from you." She dropped the robes at his feet and looked at Dolores Umbridge, who looked a cross between furious and thrilled.

"I hope you fucking rot, you old hag." She spat, before spinning on her heel and storming back through the crowd of Aurors, who stared at her in horror. Fueled by her adrenaline, Tonks walked quickly to the visitors' exit and left the Ministry for good, feeling oddly free despite the pang of fear in her chest. Three things occurred to her.

One, she was unemployed.

Two, she was homeless.

Three, she had no clue how to tell her parents.

Tonks stared at the door to her parents' home for a full two minutes before dragging up the courage to ring the bell. Andromeda's voice came cautiously from behind the door.

"Name yourself."

"Nymphadora Tonks. Your daughter." Tonks said, swallowing her sigh as the door slowly opened.

"Where were you born?" Andromeda asked in a tired voice.

"St. Mungo's. It was Thursday…day after Valentine's Day. Three in the morning. Middle name, Elizabeth for Grandmother." She answered before being pulled inside by Andromeda. Her face was drawn and pale. "Mum…"

"They were here, Dora." Andromeda told her quietly. "They were looking for you."

"Who?" Tonks asked, looking around at the house, which was in a bit of a mess. Her heart sank.

"Two Death Eaters. Rodolphus and Goyle." Her Mum answered with a sigh. "They want you."

"Bellatrix wants me dead, I know." Tonks winced, but her mother shook her head feverishly.

"No, Dora…they want you. He wants you to join him!" Andromeda said, bursting into tears. "They want your ability."

"What? They said that?" Tonks cried, feeling physically ill. "Oh Merlin…" She sank onto the sofa and put her head between her knees, feeling her eyes well up. She looked up at Andromeda again and noticed the circles underneath her eyes. "What did they do to you?" She asked, standing and moving to inspect her mother's lovely face.

"Not as much as they could have." Andromeda reluctantly said, shaking her head. "Your father went to fetch some food. Why don't you stay for dinner?" She asked, putting an arm around Tonks.

"Mum, I quit my job." Tonks blurted, feeling her eyes well and spill over. "I'm unemployed, homeless…I have nowhere to go and I'm being pursued by You-Know-Who. I've officially hit rock bottom." She burst into tears and let her mother soothingly stroke her hair until her sobs had subsided. "I'm sorry." She told her tearfully. Andromeda took her daughter's face in her hands and met her silver eyes with her own identical ones.

"What happened?" Her voice was smooth, calming. Tonks began to recount the tale of the morning and what had happened with Umbridge. To her surprise, a slow smile had spread over Andromeda's face while she listened.

"Spoken like a true Black." She said with a smile. "Not the insane, murderous kind…the rebellious, family defying kind." Her mother corrected, chuckling finally. "I'm proud of you, Dora."

"Really?" Tonks asked, holding her mother's soft hands tightly…

"Of course." Andromeda insisted. "And naturally, you'll move back in with us until you get yourself settled. We'll put stronger protection wards on the house."

"Oh, Mum…I am so lucky for you!" Tonks cried, sobbing into her mother's shoulder again. Andromeda kissed her forehead and pulled away to look at her.

"Why don't you go relax in your bedroom and when you get up, I'll have dinner fixed." She said. Tonks nodded, springing up and feeling slightly more hopeful.


"We need to have an Order Meeting." Dumbledore said, pacing in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place before Remus, Kingsley, Moody and Arthur. "Some new developments have complicated things."

"Such as?" Moody inquired. Dumbledore nodded at Kingsley and Arthur, who took off his glasses and began to wipe them absently with his sleeve.

"The Aurors have been pulled out of Hogwarts." Dumbledore informed them.

"Not only that, but there was a big blowup in the Auror Department this morning, which I unfortunately was absent for. Umbridge has succeeded in passing a new addendum to the Ban on Experimental Breeding due to the death of Simon Montgomery." Kingsley explained, giving Remus an apologetic look. "Lycanthropes are forbidden to reproduce now. Any children born to a werewolf will be…" Kingsley stopped, steeling himself obviously. "Exterminated." His voice was just above a whisper, but it seemed to echo through Remus's mind. "Not only that, but all Aurors are required to imprison any werewolf in Azkaban until proper action can be approved by the Under-Secretary."

"Oh, that's a load of horse shit!" Moody roared, dropping his fist on the heavy wood of the kitchen table.

"There's still more." Kingsley told them in a grim voice. "One of the Aurors retaliated to this news…in front of everyone. The department is now two Aurors shorter."

"Oh no…" Remus said, feeling ill. Tonks had no doubt railed at Umbridge again. If she had lost her job because of him, there was no way he could ever forgive himself…

"Tonks threw her badge at Robards's face and quit the department in front of everyone. She then proceeded to tell Dolores Umbridge—" Kingsley nervously cleared his throat. "I believe the exact words were 'I hope you fucking rot, you old hag.'" Moody began to clap his hands proudly, grinning from ear to ear. A terrifying sight, to be sure.

"There's a girl!" He cried, sharing a look with Dumbledore, who remained quiet. Dumbledore seemed very withdrawn tonight, worrying Remus. He never showed his actual age, but lately, it was as if he were growing more feeble before their eyes. Moody roughly clapped Remus on the shoulder, making him wince. "Well, what do you have to say about that?"

"Nothing." He told the older man, furrowing his brow.

"Remus, she quit her job in support of you." Arthur said quietly, folding his arms and setting his mouth in a disapproving line. He looked very much like his son Percy just then.

"Yes, the very thing I never wanted to happen!" He told them, agonized. "It's why I've left her alone! I wanted her to have a chance at a normal life!"

"Son, hate to break it to you, but Tonks never had a chance at that. She's a shifter." Moody said. "She's one of a kind practically…and she's never wanted any different. She's always been proud of being different. Maybe this is your chance to not leave her alone…if you catch my drift."

"No." Remus said firmly, putting his hands on the table to brace himself. "I've fought too hard to save her from myself. She wants babies…something I can't give her. She deserves something more—"

"She wants you, you damned stubborn arse!" Moody roared, glaring at Remus. "My God, Lupin! If you had the strength to live without her, don't you think you can find the courage to live with her?"

"Don't you think I want that?" Remus asked, provoked by Moody's words. "Don't you think I wish every bloody day that I could? But look at this entire mess with the eye of a father. Imagine Tonks were your daughter."

"Don't, Lupin." Moody warned. Kingsley slowly stood up, ready to interfere if things got too heated. Arthur looked ready to climb beneath the table.

"Just listen, Alastor." Remus begged. "If you were Ted Tonks, would you want your daughter in the situation she would be in if I were to resume our relationship? What if she got pregnant and was forced to abort it? Or worse, if she had a baby and it were born like me?"

"Everyone knows werewolves are made not born." Moody told him dismissively with a roll of his eye.

"That has never been proven." Remus reminded him. "She would be a fugitive…an outcast."

"Remus, she called Umbridge an old hag and told her to fucking rot." Kingsley inserted. "She's already done that to herself. It's something to consider."

"I can't." Remus insisted, looking away.

"Ah, to the devil with you." Moody waved his hand and disapparated with a pop. Arthur muttered something about being late for dinner. Kingsley sighed and muttered his own goodbye, leaving Remus alone with Dumbledore.

"Aren't you going to lecture me too, Professor?" Remus asked bitterly, looking into the blue eyes of his former Headmaster.

"No, I am not." Dumbledore said sadly. "But perhaps one small word of wisdom, if I may." Remus weakly nodded. "Life is fleeting, my boy, but true love is eternal. If you are lucky enough to find it, I would say it's worth the risk. Nymphadora knows that."

"She's still young—"

"Remus, I should think you of all people would understand that love knows no bounds, be it age or money or danger. The world could do with more of it." Dumbledore nodded kindly at him. "Be well. I shall send word soon…"

Remus sighed after he'd gone and trudged up toward his room, the former bedroom of Regulus Black, but stopped noticing that Sirius's bedroom door was hanging slightly open, which was odd since it had been closed since the last time Sirius had been in there. It had been nearly a year now…

He pushed the door open and took a hesitant step inside, feeling his eyes burn at the familiar sight of the posters on the walls and the Gryffindor colors. His desk was pushed against the window, a layer of dust collected over it. There were some scattered papers and a few photos on it. The bedclothes were still rumpled from the last time it had been occupied. Remus drifted past the bed to the desk, looking down at a picture of the four Marauders at their graduation before the sight of a baby on a broomstick caught his eye.

Remus picked up the picture of Lily, James and Harry with trembling fingers. They were all smiling, a complete family with a future. He set it back down, recognizing Lily's handwriting.

Dear Padfoot,

Thank you, thank you for Harry's birthday present. One year old and already zooming along on a toy broomstick, he looked so pleased with himself, I'm enclosing a picture so you can see…

Remus sat down at the desk and closed his eyes. He felt truly alone now. They were all gone…and where did that leave him? What would their advice have been to him. Oh, he knew exactly what they would have said.

"What good are you doing either of you by denying yourself and her happiness, Remus? Life is too short for regrets, you dolt!"

That would have been Lily.

"Man up and do the right thing, Moony."

James would have said that with an unmistakable air of friendly arrogance to which Lily would have smacked him and suppressed a grin.

"She gets her stubbornness from me. If you don't make an honest woman out of her, I'm going to figure out how to haunt you forever."

That would have been Sirius, of course. Remus swallowed his despair, resting his head on his hand and looking down.

Sirius,

I've written this letter so many times, I can only hope it finds you now that I know you're out of that awful place. I know I should have come clean long ago, but as you know, complications can arise. Sirius, when you left me fifteen years ago on New Years Eve when we fought, I had a secret. I wanted to tell you, but I panicked.

Sirius, I was pregnant. With your child. Please forgive me for keeping this from you. Her name is Lavender. She's beautiful…she has your eyes. My parents found out before I could tell you and sent me away. You know how controlling they were…I married Girard for my freedom from them. She was born on August 29th 1980. She's fourteen and in her fourth year at Hogwarts…

She's a Gryffindor, Sirius. Just like you. Sometimes, she reminds me so much of you when she smiles or when she's angry. She does that thing where she combs her fingers through her hair and tosses it back.

I'm not asking you for anything, Sirius. I lost that right when I allowed my parents to send me away. I just thought you deserved to know.

I have enclosed some pictures for you to have.

Thank you for my daughter and for loving me once.

I will always love you.

Ellie

An assortment of photos were scattered over the table, from a blonde baby smiling and waving at the camera to the girl Remus recognized as his former student. Cold realization crept into his stomach.

Sirius had known he was a father before he'd died. Who knew how long he had spent staring at the pictures of the daughter he would never know? And yet, he'd never told Remus that he'd known. He understood why, but seeing the proof now made Remus want to reconsider losing chances. Setting the letter and pictures aside, he shook his head.

Now was not the time.

Perhaps tomorrow things would look different.


Trying to move things along here so we can get to the next part. I don't want to rush things though! That's the fastest way to kill a story is to rush it. Sorry it's sooo slow. It will pick up within a few chapters.