A/N: Okay...I AM SO SO SORRY! (Chanelling a bit of DW there, but its true). I don't know where my mind has been these past months, I am so annoyed with myself for the neglect I have given to this this chapter is much shorter than it should be and I really didn't get into all the issues I wanted to cover in it, but those will have to wait until next time, I just really wanted to get this up before I go to work. I hope it is enjoyable, however brief it may be.
Tonks sighed wearily and glanced behind her catching a quick look at what she had come to think of as her stalker. She still didn't know who it was, but she knew it was a man and he always seemed to start following her as she left work. For a few days she'd apparted straight home from work instead of heading for number 12, and that had thrown him off for a while, but she couldn't miss her guard duty that night and she knew that her shadow would stick to her wherever she went. It would be all too easy to change her appearance and simply loose him, but that of course wouldn't solve the bigger problem.
"Time to find out who the hell you are and what you want," She muttered to herself as she stopped in front of a used clothing store and pretended to fix her hair using her reflection in the window. In the glass she could see a man stop across the street and pretend to look at a display, only to glance away in dismay when he realized he was looking at a mannequin wearing a sheer fuchsia teddy. Snickering, Tonks slipped into the shop and began browsing through the racks of clothing, glancing periodically, but covertly, at the front window. Her stalker had not crossed the street but he had moved down one shop to stand in front of a pub.
Grabbing a vibrant blue tunic dress from a rack she made her way to the counter. "Do you have a dressing room I could try this on in?"
The girl behind the counter pointed to the right. "At the back there. It's only curtained off, sorry. "
"Ta," She smiled at the girl and quickly moved to the curtained off room, which was little more really than a closet with a mirror on the wall. It would serve her purposes though. Once the curtain was pulled tight, she shed her coat and pulled out her wand. Now came the tricky part; she needed to make sure she altered her clothes enough that she could still fix them after, but that they would be different enough to fool her new friend. After some muttered spells and a bit of cursing, she managed to shrink the length of her coat, change the colour of her pants and transfigure her boots into sneakers. "There go my favourite boots," she lamented to herself as she looked in the mirror and wrinkled her nose, concentrating on making her hair longer and decidedly brown. She then made her nose longer and, mostly satisfied with what she saw, donned her coat and left the dressing room, bypassed the girl at the counter, who didn't even glance at her, and made her way out of the shop and across the street. Her stalker only glanced at her briefly as she neared but dismissed her right away as not being his query. As she came level with him she stumbled, grabbing his arm for support.
"Oh, son of a…I am so sorry sir," she apologized as she straightened. "Wasn't watching where I was going, was I?" She glanced up into the face of her stalker.
"Its fine. Really, accidents happen."
"They do. Again I am so sorry."
She let go of his arm and moved on, walking quickly until she was two blocks over. Then she slipped into an alley and apparated to the park near number 12, where she changed her appearance back to normal and practically ran to the house, knowing she was going to hear it for being late. But at least she knew who was following her. Now, the question was, why was he? ++++
"Wotcher Williamson, you're with me today."
The red haired man looked up from his report and blinked at her, slightly startled to see Tonks standing in the opening of his cubicle.
She rolled her eyes, but smiled slightly. " I need to go investigate a report MLE passed on. You're with me." Since Mark's death Tonks had no regular partner and often ended up paired with whoever was available that day, so her statement really wasn't that strange. Still, Williamson hesitated before standing.
She rolled her eyes again and led the way out of the office. They were quite while they were in the lifts, but Williamson had never been much of a talker, and as they left the ministry for the streets of London and then an eerily quite tube station he seemed to loose whatever trepidation that had been pervading him. Which was a shame really, because as soon as he let his guard down he found himself being pushed against a concrete pole, his legs unable to move, with the tip of a wand pressed against his throat and one very angry metamorphmagus glaring into his eyes.
"What are you doing?" he managed to ask, as Tonks divested him of his wand.
"You've been very careless Williamson. Mad Eye is right, all you trainees that came after he left could use a good lesson in constant vigilance."
He shook his head, or tried to, "Your crazy Tonks, I don't even know what you are talking about."
She smirked, the lack of usual cheekiness behind it making the other Auror realize that she was not trying to pull something on him. "Don't play that game with me Williamson," she hissed. "I've been at it a lot longer than you and do it far better. So, I'm going to ask you some questions, yeah? And then your gonna answer them. Simple, quick and then we go back to our day like nothing ever happened."
Williamson nodded slightly and so she took it as her queue to continue. "Why have been following me? And don't even try and deny it; I know you have. We ran into each other yesterday outside that used shop. It was nice of you to help me back up, by the way."
He hesitated, but a press of the wand at his throat soon spurred him into speech. Tonks would be disgusted with herself for intimidating him so, if she wasn't so pissed off that he had been following her. What if he had made it to headquarters? Or followed her home?
"Fudge's orders. He asked Scrimgeour to have anyone he thought associated with Dumbledore watched, to see if they were planning anything against the Ministry."
Tonks shook her head in fake incredulity. "And Scrimgeour thinks that I'm close to Dumbledore? That doesn't even make sense."
Williamson shrugged. "Can you uh, lower the wand? I'll tell you what you want to know, but this is getting really uncomfortable. Besides you have my wand, so its not like I would stand a chance against you."
Tonks looked at him searchingly, considering. "Alright." She lowered the hand that she had pressed against his chest, keeping him to the wall, and muttered a reversal of the spell she had used to lock his legs. He moved them gingerly, sighing as blood flow returned.
"Yeah, whatever. Now, you were saying about Fudge and his ridiculous paranoia?"
"Look Scrimgeour pulled me into his office one day right? And he said that he's noticed how well I've done these past few years and he thinks I can be trusted to do what is right. So he orders me to follow you; he said that you had been acting in an irregular fashion, and talking to people like Arthur Weasley, who is known to be an ally of Harry Potters, so he must be an alley of Dumbledore's. I asked him why he thought that you talking to a colleague was suspicious and he said that it wasn't just that you've been known to chat with him, it was who you were."
"Who I am?" she raised a brow. "I'm the same person I've always been. I have given the ministry over a decade of loyal service and he's suspicious of me because I had a conversation with Arthur Bloody Weasley?"
Williamson sighed, "He said, the ties that bind can be thick and unmerciful. Old allegiances die hard deaths and it was worth a chance to keep an eye on you. In case…"
"In case I was in contact with Sirius Black, who Dumbledore says is innocent," she finished for him, realization coming over her. "That's what this is about, isn't it? Because before he became a murderer, he was just my cousin and they think that I might just be contact with him."
She lowered her wand and snorted in derision. "I guess you never get away from family eh? Always coming back to haunt you."
"Look, I've never followed you home or anything, I thought that might be a little too personal. I like you Tonks, you've never struck me as the disloyal sort. I think that the higher ups are just being paranoid; they don't know what to do about all the rumors flying around. I'll just tell Scrimgeour…"
"You tell him that I caught you following me and that if there is a problem with me or he suspects me of anything he can bloody well come right out and bring me up on chargers. I am so tired of being associated with that…that animal!" Merlin, please don't let Sirius know I called him that, she silently prayed, even as she kept up her angry façade. " Yes, he is my cousin, yes we share the same blood. But the day he caused the death of two of my friends he became dead to me. Sirius Black means nothing to me and he hasn't for 14 years.; I am the last person who would know where he is or what he is up to. You tell Scrimgeour that, Williamson." She began to walk away and then remembered that she had his wand.
"Here," she threw it back to him, causing him to fumble to catch it. She snorted, suppressing a chuckle. "Oh and Williamson," she said lightly, as she turned away, her anger abruptly replaced by a cheeky smile, "I would go over your stealth training again, your not very good." And then she left him there looking bewildered.