Tonks loved Halloween. Parties with Muggle cousins. Hogwarts feasts. The upcoming pub-crawl she and other first-year Auror trainees planned to make an annual event. The celebrations changed over the years, but the "spirit" remained the same.
Instructor Gulch didn't share the same enthusiasm, reminding her captive audience that the day was still a training day, and dressing in costume was inappropriate. Tonks, who had thought her fuzzy orange jumper, black miniskirt, and orange and black striped tights paired with combat boots seasonably fashionable glanced around as if wondering who Gulch could be talking about. She pressed her lips together to keep from grinning. The Wicked Witch of the West, as trainees called her, was in a nasty mood. Tonks needed to behave herself if she didn't want to suffer the instructor's wrath.
Some resolutions were impossible to keep, however, and at the end of class her mates promised to lift a pint to her morphing brilliance while she remained to write lines in chalk on the blackboard.
Tonks was almost finished when a sardonic voice said:
"Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery. You never learn, do you?"
"Snape and Gulch both have challenging noses. How could I resist?" She turned to see Edmund Blofeld, her former Advanced Potions partner, standing in the doorway like a giant crow. His beak was impressive, too. Only Professor Snape had a more imperial proboscis. "Wotcher," she said. "What brings a Forensics and Potions Division apprentice down to Auror Training? Did you miss me?"
Same old Mr. Uncongeniality. Tonks waited for Edmund to tell her why he'd sought her out. He continued to lurk in the doorway, tense and silent, as though he were deciding whether to stay or go. If he left, she'd never know what he'd wanted, and satisfying her curiosity was worth more than the satisfaction of making him broach the subject first. She gave him a cheeky smile. "Let me guess. You finally need a favour." In Potions, he'd helped her countless times, reluctantly answering her whispered questions while sneering at her promises to return the favour one day.
"You owe me several," he said.
"I'm not arguing that." Edmund was the reason she'd been able to Exceed Expectations on her Potions N.E.W.T.
"I know," he said. "It's just—it's complicated."
He sounded grim. She said jokingly, "If it involves morphing and nude photographs, forget it."
Edmund's expression didn't lighten. "It involves putting a zombie to rest."
Tonks accidentally snapped her chalk in half. "What?"
He looked down his long nose at her. "You heard me."
"You're serious. You actually raised a zombie."
"Of course not. It was my friend, Samuel Endor. He was obsessed with Death Magic and accidentally killed himself a few weeks ago during an experiment gone wrong." He thrust a note at her. "He owled this note on the morning he died."
I once thought cheating death was worth any price. I was wrong. I cannot undo the spells I have cast, so I can only hope if my experiment fails you will go to my grave and kill me again.
"Samuel was born at 5:38 PM on October thirty-first," Edmund said. "Therefore he will rise at precisely that date and time. We have less than an hour."
She almost asked why the bloody hell he'd waited until the last minute to call in his favour, but his set expression told her he'd planned to do the job himself—and realised he couldn't.
He said sharply, "Auror training includes this sort of spellwork, does it not?"
"Yeah." But I never thought I'd actually use it. She asked, "Are you sure it wouldn't be better to have an experienced professional—or two—with us?"
"No. It would become public record, and Samuel's family has been traumatised enough."
She hadn't considered that. Tonks said, "Let's go."
The London graveyard was gothic and isolated, like something out of one of her Muggle Gran's favourite horror films. The sun had set, leaving the two lanterns flanking the headstone and the glowing tips of their wands to illumine the gravesite.
At exactly 5:38 PM, nothing happened. Tonks sagged in relief—and then jumped back when a zombie erupted from the earth.
"Oh, Merlin. Samuel, why? Why did you do it?" Edmund whispered, although he had to be aware Zombie Sam couldn't answer. Only the body was resurrected.
And what a nightmare of a body it was. No funeral Appearance Charm masked the black veins bulging beneath pale skin or the sunken flat deadness of eyes that seemed all pupils, all darkness. Sam's mouth hung open and something white crawled on his lip: a maggot. She cried, "Secundus Mors Mortis!"
The zombie fell to the ground in a "second death."
Tonks leaned over the nearest tombstone and vomited. After her stomach stopped heaving and she cast charms to clean the mess and the vile taste out of her mouth, she staggered over to pat Edmund's arm. She drew a blank on what to say until she remembered her Auror training. Merlin, the words were hollow, but they were all she had. "His soul is beyond the veil," she said. "This isn't really your friend."
He nodded. "You may rebury him."
She blinked. "How?"
"By spell. Weren't you taught one?"
"Well, we can't leave him here like this. Do something."
Tonks conjured two spades.
His mouth dropped open. "You expect me to dig?"
"And when we're done you owe me a drink."
"You aren't serious."
Tonks smirked. "No, but I'm told there's a family resemblance." She rammed her spade into the earth.
Edmund scowled as he started to dig. "There's got to be an enchantment for this."
"With my luck, I'd fall asleep like the Sorcerer's Apprentice and find the hole dug to China." At her partner in zombie reburial's blank look, she said, "Muggle Studies? Wizards in Muggle films? I can't believe you don't remember." She told him the story of the apprentice who enchanted a broom to fetch water and awoke from a nap to find the floor flooded and chopped up the broom only to create more brooms to fetch water.
"Mickey learned a lesson while amusing audiences." Tonks nodded toward the hole between them. "And people who illicitly dig up coffins should be the last to throw dirt clods."
Edmund grunted and cast a Locomotor Spell to return his friend's body to what remained of the coffin. Dark magic had blasted a hole in the mahogany wood. They finished reburying Sam.
Tonks pointed her wand at their spades. "Evanesco." She heard a popping sound and looked toward Edmund.
She sighed. Forget the pub crawl with her mates. All she wanted was a bath and bed. Tonks Apparated home.
On her doorstep was a bottle of Firewhiskey. Ogden's Finest. Edmund might be a grumpy crow, but he wasn't cheap. She brought a tumbler of Firewhiskey with her as she drew a bath, sipping the warm, rich spirits before lifting her glass in a silent toast to absent friends and Halloween.
A/N: I looked up old calendars to find a Halloween that fell on a weekday during Tonks' training. It ended up being 1991, Tonks' first year as an Auror trainee, so I had fun with that, and yes, I was thinking of Casablanca and "Play it again, Sam" when I came up with the title (I know it's a misquotation, but it stuck). Tonks writing on the blackboard is an homage to Bart Simpson (who never used my line. I checked, heh). Happy Halloween!