Disclaimer: Sadly, the characters within do not belong to me, but rather to some little-known author by the name of J.K. Rowling. Perhaps you've heard of her?
A/N: Hello all! I come bearing my first full-fledged, multi-chapter fic – and it's about darn time, too. I actually came up with this idea quite some time ago, before the release of Deathly Hallows; after that came out (and after I got over the depression it induced in me), I decided to go ahead with this anyway, since poor Remus and Tonks deserve more happy times, yes? Of course, it took me bloody forever to churn this baby out, but at long last, here it is.
Setting: Oh, a quick note on the timeline, if I may? This takes place in the summer just before Harry's third year, and although it doesn't really touch on any of the events from his point of view in the book, I've categorized this as Prisoner of Azkaban-era. Here, Tonks is a second-year Auror trainee, about to start her third year of training; Remus has just been hired to fill the Defence Against the Dark Arts post.
Summary: POA-era. Allegations of fraud are made against former professor Gilderoy Lockhart, and Auror Trainee Tonks is assigned the case. It was supposed to be a simple job, but when she meets the new DADA professor, things get a bit more complicated…R/T.
Ladies and gents, without any further ado, may I present to you, Wanderings with Werewolves!
Wanderings with Werewolves
Chapter 1 – Problems with Paperwork
"Level Two, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including the Improper Use of Magic Office, Auror Headquarters, and Magical Law Enforcement Squad," a cool voice announced as the wrought golden grilles of the lift slid open.
As always, Tonks stumbled out gracelessly amongst the shuffle of Ministry of Magic employees and made her way to Auror Headquarters. She wove her way through the maze of cubicles, greeting some of her colleagues with her customary "Wotcher!" as they passed by; of those that noticed, none had time for more than a harried nod of their heads in return. The entire Ministry had been in an uproar in the few weeks since Sirius Black had escaped Azkaban, but it was the Auror Department that was the most hectic. Every second of every day seemed to bring new tips that needed sorting and new searches that needed coordinating, and everything was funneled through the Aurors' little cube farm.
Ironically, despite literally being in the midst of all the action, Tonks felt completely in the dark.
She watched Williamson dart by with a new stack of Supposed Sirius Sightings (half of which she would bet were placed by paranoid little biddies that needed their eyesight checked), and then Savage rushed past in the opposite direction, grumbling over the map in his hands that he couldn't quite fold properly. Meanwhile Dawlish could be heard cursing from his desk, and she scurried by lest he direct his irritation at her.
She somewhat understood their frustrations, but there was another level to hers – because while she wished she could do her part and help, she couldn't. No, she had purposely been left out of the search (and out of any aspect of the investigation) due to her connections, however tenuous, with the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.
"Just for propriety's sake," that Umbridge toad had simpered with a patently faux smile on her face. "You understand, don't you Miss Tonks? We wouldn't want even a hint of suspicion to taint such a crucial case!"
Oh, she'd understood, all right… Umbridge had tried to pull that same trick when she'd applied to the Auror program in the first place. Apparently she had been a "questionable" candidate, what with the shapeshifting, and the dodgy family history, and whatever else dear Dolores had decided was unsuitable about her (the lilac-coloured hair probably hadn't done her any favours). Back then, Scrimgeour hadn't had any problems with those complaints, as pathetically unfounded as they were – but now, under all the pressure from Fudge, Umbridge, and the entire panicked public to produce their errant escapee, he hadn't even bothered putting up a fight.
"Git," she cursed him, and kicked the nearest wall in exasperation.
"What have I done now?" Kingsley Shacklebolt complained good-naturedly as he poked his head out of his cubicle.
She smiled back sheepishly. "Oh, wotcher, King. Sorry, I didn't mean to… Er…" She trailed off, looking down at her steel-toed boots and gesturing helplessly.
"Relax, Tonks. Having a bad morning, I take it?" he grinned sympathetically, before snatching at the sleeve of her robes and pulling her into his office. "Here, come in for a moment, I need a break from all these files or I'll go nuttier than Black himself."
She let herself get dragged along, and then found herself surrounded by the countless photos of Sirius Black that papered the walls. The first time she saw Kingsley's cubicle she had joked that he needed a better decorator, but she was used to it now. She settled down on a corner of his cluttered desk (only knocking down two sheets of parchment this time – a new record!) and faced the side covered with pictures of Sirius as a young man.
For some reason she was fascinated by the stark differences between the person in those photos from years ago, laughing freely, and the person in the wanted posters today, screaming madly. A dozen years in Azkaban would do that, of course, but he just seemed like he'd been a genuinely happy and normal bloke… Surely that man, with his ready smiles and friendly waves at the camera, could not turn out to be one of the most despicable of Death Eaters?
But that seemed like an odd, and perhaps traitorous, way to think about the Ministry's number one fugitive; so Tonks did her best to push it out of her mind and instead questioned, "How goes it, then? Any breaks?"
"Now, now, you know you're not allowed any details of the case, what with your 'questionable connections'," he scolded her, but with a roll of his eyes accompanying the air quotes he made. Despite her annoyance, she laughed in relief. It helped to know that at least some of the department thought Scrimgeour's decision was a load of dragon dung; unfortunately they couldn't really do anything about it, but at least Kingsley passed along a few tidbits of information to her now and then.
He glanced over the mess of files on his desk and sighed, his mood suddenly more subdued. "I've been reading over every file we have on Black, and on anybody even remotely connected to him, over and over again. Honestly, I think I might know him better than he knows himself."
"After twelve years of bunking with Dementors, that might be true," Tonks quipped. After the words were spoken, she realized it was a rather poor attempt at humour, but Kingsley continued musing as if he hadn't heard her.
"I don't know what it is, but I feel like something doesn't add up. Like I'm missing something…"
Her first instinct was to retort, "You mean aside from Black himself?", but luckily Tonks' brain overruled her mouth that time. Instead she frowned and politely asked, "What do you mean?"
He shook his head. "I don't even know… Call it a gut feeling."
"Well, you know what Mad-Eye always says -"
"We all know what Mad-Eye always says," Kingsley interrupted her with a deep laugh, his demeanour brightening once more. "Nobody in Headquarters goes one day without hearing 'Constant vigilance!' screamed at them at least five times."
"True, but I was actually thinking more along the lines of 'Always trust your instincts – they're the best tool an Auror can have'," she quoted her mentor, complete with an imitation of his scratchy voice. She decided to edit out the rest of that speech (which included a tale of an ogre, an owl, and a malfunctioning streetlamp) or else they would have been there all morning. "Speaking of, have you seen the old codger today?"
He didn't bat an eye at Tonks' affectionate name-calling (and she was the only one who got away with it, even in front of Moody's face). "He's around somewhere… Best be off before you get another lecture on how tardiness is a Dark Wizard's best friend."
"I was barely five minutes late that time," she groused, but she bade Kingsley goodbye and wandered down the corridor to Mad-Eye's cubicle.
He wasn't there when she arrived, so she undid his protective wards (all seven layers of them! But he insisted it was good practise for her) and sat down. Compared to the other offices, decorated with pictures of friends, family members, and various knickknacks, Moody's was downright sparse. One wall was plastered with pictures of Dark Wizards, both captured and still at large, and to balance those out one day Tonks had brought in some lovely landscapes and a potted geranium. Mad-Eye unfortunately mistook the plant for the fanged variety and had blasted it to bits; but at least the landscapes were still hanging (amidst his various Foe Glasses), so she amused herself by staring at them for a while.
After checking her reflection in the nearest Foe Glass and deciding that bright blue hair would better match her robes, she started twirling around and around in the spinning chair. She wondered what menial task she would be given today; with Moody now assigned to the Black investigation full-time, her training had been rather fragmented lately. There was hardly time for any of her usual classes – and considering how badly she was doing in Stealth and Tracking, she didn't feel she could afford to miss many more of those sessions. She still got the occasional lectures and procedural overviews, but she really didn't feel like she was contributing anything to the search, like practically every other Ministry employee was (for Merlin's sake, even the Magical Maintenance blokes had charmed the doors at every entrance to recognize Black! Not that he'd be barmy enough to barge right into the Ministry, but still…).
No, instead, lowly second-year Auror Trainee Nymphadora Tonks had been relegated to paperwork.
She kept spinning, utterly bored already – and the day had just started. She wished they would hurry up and catch Sirius so she wouldn't have to mope around and be useless any longer… But at the same time, another part of her (a very small, and very rebellious part) actually wanted to wish him well – maybe if he gallivanted around for long enough, they would finally realize they could use more manpower to capture him? And she was determined to be there when that time came, ready and waiting to jump in and show them all just what she could do.
Her musings about Black came to an end when her spinning suddenly stopped; Tonks' momentum, however, did not, and she flew out of the seat and landed on the floor in front of a familiar wooden leg. Glancing up, she saw Moody with a scowl on his grizzled face and his wand pointed at his chair. "Constant vigilance, girl!" he cried, before clomping over to sit down himself. "Now, on your feet – I've got good news for you."
She leapt up and eagerly asked, "Did you talk to Scrimgeour? Has he changed his mind?"
"Oh, I talked to him all right… Don't know what he's playing at, bowing down to Umbridge like that. Politics, it's all politics!" he grimaced, taking a sip from his flask as if it would wash away the taste of governmental back scratching from his mouth.
"So, no luck persuading him, then?" Tonks sighed, slouching in defeat. It looked to be another day of filing reports for her…
"Sorry, lass," Moody said. "You're not to be involved in the Black case, and that's his final word."
"I thought you said you had good news!"
"Oh, that I do," he continued, and then reached a hand inside his cloak to pull out a file folder. "I told Rufus it was a damn waste of your talents to have you pushing papers all day – so I managed to convince him to assign you your own case."
His announcement was met with silence.
All Tonks could do was blink. She was too stunned to even reach out and take the file from Mad-Eye, because there was no way she could have heard him correctly. Her very own case? That was… amazing, actually. It sounded too good to be true – Auror Trainees were never assigned their own cases! And that automatically triggered her suspicions. "Has this only been shunted my way because it's such a crap case that nobody else can be bothered with it?"
"Now, don't give me that!" he scolded, wagging a gnarled finger at her. "I'd have thought you'd jump at the offer. It's not often Trainees get their own investigations, and this will be a fine chance for you to put your skills to the test."
He went on, talking about how she would be doing this on her own, how she had better remember everything he'd taught her, how she would have to remain constantly vigilant… But Tonks' attention was not with him. Instead, her excitement was rapidly growing. He was right – this was an amazing opportunity, the perfect chance to finally show off her true abilities and prove to the rest of the Department that she wasn't just Mad-Eye Moody's clumsy little tag-along! Now, she couldn't wait.
"So, what's the case?" she asked eagerly, interrupting him in the middle of his rant about the importance of safe wand storage. Her imagination was already running wild: she could just picture herself chasing a murderer over hill and dale, shooting out Stunners as she yelled for him to halt… Or trailing a suspect through the busy London streets, waiting for him to lead her straight to a ring of international smugglers… Or fighting a duel with a perp resisting arrest, dodging curse after curse, and flinging out her own as she –
"You'll be investigating Gilderoy Lockhart," he told her, putting an abrupt end to her flights of fancy.
And thus her bubble was burst.
"Gilderoy Lockhart?" she repeated sceptically. "What, has he been kidnapped by a mob of desperate housewitches?" She should have known better than to get her hopes up; what were the odds she would have actually landed an important case?
As usually occurred when Tonks cracked a joke, Moody merely snorted at her impertinence. "Don't you read the papers, girl?"
"'Course I do!" she said indignantly. "I just figured the book review page wasn't very Auror-worthy." Lockhart hadn't come out with some new clap-trap called Mixing with Metamorphmagi, had he? Merlin help her if he had…
"Maybe if you paid more attention, you'd know that Lockhart's holed up in St. Mungo's, recovering from a Memory Charm gone wrong."
She frowned, more confused than ever. "Isn't that type of thing better left to the Obliviators?" she wondered. Those fellows were more territorial than a nesting dragon when it came to their cases, and the last thing Tonks wanted to do was start some inter-departmental feud when everybody in the Ministry was already walking on eggshells.
"It would be an Obliviator's jurisdiction if we were talking about restoring his memory – but that's not the issue." Moody tossed the file at her and grunted, "Read it. You'll see."
She opened the folder, eagerly skimming through the pages. She expected to see the usual forms – witness statements, formal charges, and the countless other pieces of parchment that the Ministry bureaucracy was so fond of – but instead there was only a letter, written in an elegant hand. She began to read it, and as she moved further down the page her eyes grew wider and wider. This was more serious than she could have imagined – it was a personal request from Albus Dumbledore, of all people, to launch an investigation against Lockhart!
The accusations stated that Lockhart had intended to Obliviate two students, and that he'd previously done the same to other wizards, taking credit for their heroic deeds for his own profit. Her training started to kick in, and her first thought was that those were extremely wild allegations. But on the other hand, it was her former Headmaster making them! He always did seem to know everything – she'd had a sneaking suspicion that he used to be able to see right through her morphs…
She wanted to believe him, but as an objective investigator, could she? It was then that Tonks noticed two more pages of parchment attached to his letter. The first was a signed statement, explaining what Dumbledore had outlined in greater detail, by one of the students who had seen it all firsthand – one Ronald Weasley. Charlie's little brother? Perhaps their friendship had biased her, but she was certain a Weasley wouldn't make up a story like this. And there was one more statement following that one, and all the important aspects matched up once again…
…And it was signed by Harry Potter!
Tonks' jaw dropped.
"Not such a dull assignment after all, eh?" Moody chuckled gruffly.
No, it didn't seem dull at all. "Mad-Eye, this is a serious case! Unauthorized uses of Memory Charms, fraud and misrepresentation, and who knows what other laws Lockhart might've broken -"
"Well, it'll be your job to find out," he cut her off.
"Are you seriously assigning this to me?" she asked in disbelief. If he had more of a sense of humour, she might have assumed this was some sort of joke – but she liked to think that she knew Mad-Eye better than that.
"When am I not serious?" he demanded, clomping his wooden leg on the floor in impatience. "Stop standing there and gaping at me like a patch of Bundimun, girl! I want you to get to the bottom of this – something about this case smells worse than an unwashed troll, and I'm not talking about that permed ponce's cologne."
At least she knew Mad-Eye hadn't fully gone around the bend by offering her this investigation, since he still displayed his usual paranoia… "I'll get right on it," she declared, trying to infuse more confidence into her tone than she actually felt.
"Then off with you, lass! You'll be unsupervised on this one, so for Merlin's sake, try and remember everything I taught you."
"Right," she nodded firmly, but of course, that motion seemed to cause everything Moody had tried to drill into her brain to go flying out instead.
She took a deep breath and tried not to panic. This was her chance! A real case, and with a celebrity name attached to it, too – that might garner some attention when she cracked it. She would crack it, she told herself. And hopefully she wouldn't make a complete arse of herself in the process, like usual.
"Right," she repeated again, clutching the file tightly to her chest. "Thanks, Mad-Eye."
She turned on her heel and left his cubicle – but her elbow caught the edge of the doorway and Tonks ended up flying face-first onto the hallway floor instead, just as Savage was walking by. He wasn't able to dodge her in time and went bowling over her, sending a dozen Sirius Sightings scattering around them.
They both swore simultaneously as Moody roared his final words of advice (or was it a scolding? It was hard to tell with him sometimes). "Constant vigilance!"
Tonks sighed. Right. So far, a great start.
- To Be Continued… -
Next chapter – Tonks goes to interview the man himself! Yes, a trip to St. Mungo's is just what the healer prescribed.
And thus ends the setup! Tonks gets her very own case – but I think we all want her to be investigating another DADA professor, don't we? Well, he'll certainly show up soon enough. In the meantime, how about being kind enough to leave me a quick review to let me know how you're liking this so far? I don't mean to be conniving, of course, but reviews do help motivate me – and the more motivation I have, the quicker a new chapter may appear… ;)
– ish –