Disclaimer: (1) Not mine, all JK Rowling's. (2) I'll try to keep all the details lined up with those in canon, but if I'm wrong, feel free to let me know about the discrepancies.

This is my take on Harry's life, post Order of the Phoenix. In my opinion, the plotline sort of just went steadily downhill after this book, and while a lot of great characters, ideas, and storylines were introduced post-OotP, I still stand by my opinion that characters started behaving pretty unrealistically and irrationally. Also, by nature, I like to write light-hearted stories, so, while there's going to be a (hopefully) realistic manner in which Harry copes with his burdens, the overall tone of the story won't be angsty; this will not contain whiny!pissedoff!weak!Harry… thus, without further ado, I hope you enjoy! Oh, and reviews are always appreciated, of course.

The One in Which Harry Gets Relief and Tonks Gets an Eyeful

July 23, 1996

'Honestly, Harry, AGAIN? You're trying to make me die of embarrassment, aren't you, you horny little bastard.' But of course, he was trying to do no such thing; in fact, the young man in question was arguably too preoccupied at the moment with more, ah, pressing matters, namely the girl that was writhing beneath his palms, to even conceive of embarrassing his friend. Beyond that, however, Harry had no idea his ministrations were even being observed by a third party, though that knowledge probably wouldn't have stopped him from doing what he was doing anyway.

Nymphadora Tonks merely bit back a sigh and averted her eyes, trying to remain as still as possible beneath the invisibility cloak she was currently hiding under. Were this the first time she put into this position, perhaps the scenario would play out a bit differently; perhaps she would be a bit more shocked or mortified for all parties involved. However, as it was, this was not the first instance for this occurrence, and, so, the initial shock value of watching the Boy-Who-Lived shag a muggle girl within an inch of her life had noticeably worn off. Tonks forced her mind to wander, lest she focus too hard on the two teenagers twenty meters away and blush at the dirtiness of it all, and found herself recounting the details of the summer that somehow led to her being in this intensely bizarre scenario, in which, on a stiflingly hot summer night, she was, once again, forced to play the role of a voyeur (though, if she were to be completely honest with herself, there needn't have been that much forcing, as the young man was painfully mesmerizing to watch in his own right – but good luck getting Tonks to ever admit that to anyone).

July 2, 1996

Harry was back at the Dursley's for two weeks now, and his routine was quickly established. Whatever manual labor the Dursley's decided to subject their nephew to that week seemed to be what took up the bulk of the time most days. More often than not, it involved the pristine upkeep of No. 4's 'award winning, expertly landscaped, yard.' Apparently, borderline slave labor of a family member makes the grass greener. Who knew? All the guards on rotation agreed that Potter's mood was permanently set on 'in mourning,' with the occasional 'all-consuming anger' interspersed into the mix. So, when, every now and again, the boy shot out of the house like a bat out of hell, running at top speed to no particular destination, but always coming back, the four guards hesitantly agreed to just let him be, rather than force him to live under Albus Dumbledore's proscribed martial law (though, the behavior was downright confusing, and more than one guard was itching to ask why on earth anyone would subject themselves to, basically, a heatstroke, everyday). Surely there was no harm in allowing for Harry to stretch his legs for a bit in broad day light – it was no different than having him toil away for hours in the front yard, and, occasionally, in the neighbors' yards; Petunia made her network of neighborhood gossips know that her little criminal of a nephew that she so graciously kept during the summers at least had a green thumb, and could be borrowed to tend the gardens around the neighborhood if her neighbors so wished – at no charge of course! It was, after all, work that stopped the little delinquent from causing mischief. And thus, Petunia was able to raise her status in the neighborhood at the expense of Harry's sweat and hard work. Petunia, for her part, was smug in her ability to get something without any real effort, and Harry was too apathetic to protest.

There was much speculation on the four guards' parts concerning Harry's behavior. His actions and inactions were seemingly scrutinized under the lens of a microscope during the guards' weekly meetings at Grimmauld Place, the only thirty-minute period of time a week during which Privet Drive was left unguarded. During these meetings, the members, for the most part, were always the same. Lupin seemed somber and more run down than necessary. Moody looked sympathetic, stilling his usually whizzing artificial eye. Mundungus, was, for once, sober, and a bit gloomy – even though he never felt an emotional attachment to the boy, he, having been forced to tail the boy on two occasions already during his runs, knew exactly how painful sprinting in 39 degree heat for half an hour felt. So, if his guilt and internalized pain exceeded that, well, Dung did not envy the feeling. Tonks just wore a frown, cautiously keeping her emotions in check. Her immediate reaction was to feel pity, but she knew Harry Potter would sooner off himself than accept someone's pity. She yearned to reach out and help him in some way, obviously being the most empathetic of the foursome present. At the moment, however, she resigned herself to simply performing the task at hand, which involved securing his safety – even if it meant ensuring it at the expense of his emotional well-being. Or so they were told by the higher-ups. She sighed as the meeting adjourned and left for her shift, while the others stayed and waited for their next meeting to begin.

Tuesday nights and Saturdays were her days to be on guard duty. The rotation between Remus Lupin, Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody, Mundungus Fletcher, and herself was quite simple. Because neither Remus nor Fletcher had any job (any reputable job, anyway, in Dung's case) to speak of, the two were watchmen Monday through Friday, save Tuesday nights when the inner circle of the Order met, with Tonks and Mad-Eye on duty Saturdays and Sundays, respectively. The guards were on strict orders to merely observe, under the safety of invisibility, for potential danger; then again, Tonks never really paid any attention to rules, except to break them. Of course, having only been on duty for two shifts thus far, Tonks had yet to muster up the courage to ask Harry how he was coping with the loss of his Godfather – her favorite cousin. Though, if the scene unfolding in front of her were an indication of how he was feeling, it would seem that he was coping just fine.

At first, when Tonks saw the figure of a raven-haired individual climb out of a second story bedroom window, she immediately tensed. Seeing another figure, soon after, approaching did nothing for her apprehension, her knuckles turning white from the firm grip she had on her wand. Clearly, Harry was not surprised by the appearance of the second person, who, Tonks decided upon closer inspection, was nothing more than a short, blond haired girl, holding something in a brown paper bag. Tonks saw an exchange of words between the two, but was not close enough to hear what exactly was being said. Then, suddenly, Harry produced a lighter, seemingly from thin air, while the girl emptied the contents of the bag: a bottle of liquor and a pack of cigarettes. Tonks almost laughed in disbelief at the scene in front of her. The supposed savior of the wizarding world was sitting with a companion in the shadows against the side of his relatives' home at 3am on a Tuesday night drinking and smoking, looking as natural as if he had been born with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of bourbon in the other. The older witch made the executive decision in deeming the situation as non-life threatening.

The next half hour consisted of Tonks subtly creeping towards the pair of wayward teenagers, allowing for her curiosity to get the best of her. The blond girl looked to be about Harry's age, though shorter and decidedly happier with a glint of youthful cheerfulness in her eyes that Harry no longer possessed – if he ever had it to begin with. She wore a simple pair of white shorts and thin blue tank top that was perfectly practical for the ridiculously humid summer that seemed to be plaguing Britain. Tonks decided that the girl was cute; not beautiful, and certainly not drop-dead gorgeous, but definitely pretty enough to have the ability to turn quite a few heads if she wanted to. She caught snippets of the conversation –

"Criminally incurable; really, that scrawny little boy I knew?" The girl was probably a bit louder than she should have been. Mirth and doubt laced her statement.

"What can I say… full of surprises… you were a right bitch, if I recall…" While the ease in his tone did not match the harshness of the words, neither was he as cheerful as he probably should have been. Then again, given the recent events of Harry Potter's life, thinly veiled pleasantries were the most anyone was going to be getting out of him. The girl seemingly took no offense; she merely shrugged and chuckled lowly, accepting the bottle from Harry's hand after he'd just taken a pull.

"Still am, depending on who you ask – that whale of a cousin of yours will be the first to let you know." At that, Harry also had to give a low chuckle. Maybe it was the rush of sneaking out of the prison he was condemned to for the summer, the thrill of this momentary glimpse of independence and normalcy he was allowing himself, the copious amounts of alcohol finally addling his brain, or maybe, it was the mere fact that, for one the first times in the past two weeks, he finally had someone to hold a simple conversation with, finally something to take his mind off of Sirius. Whatever the cause, something allowed Harry Potter to laugh for the first time since his Godfather's death, and, dammit, it felt good.

Tonks was learning all sorts of new things about the enigma that was Harry Potter. From the sounds of it, his experiences of school life pre-Hogwarts left something to be desired, especially if his cousin had anything to say about it. She mentally filed this piece of information away, promising to leave the Dursley boy a nice parting gift at the end of the summer for his horrible misdeeds – and to family, no less! Harry Hunting, indeed! Tonks' self-righteous anger was short lived, swiftly replaced by shock. Sometime after Harry and the girl, Megan, actually, was her name, finished recounting their friendship from primary school, or lack thereof, but before the lapse in conversation grew awkward, the girl – Megan, Tonks reminded herself, attacked Harry. Well, perhaps attacked was too strong of a word, but, really, what other word could be used to describe a person jumping onto another and latching onto their lips with their own, with reckless abandon? Harry, though in sitting position, was, nevertheless, thrown backwards, and was now sprawled on the lawn that he, ironically, kept meticulous care of just that morning.

She was quite sure that whatever Dumbledore had in mind when he ordered them to watch over Harry this summer, this was not the kind of thing he thought the Potter heir would be getting himself into. 'How did he get that off of her so fas – Oh!' No, no, now she was positive this was not the sort of thing the Headmaster was wary of when he asked certain order members to guard No. 4 Privet Drive. Hands found their way into tangles of hair. The sound of teeth and tongues clashing filled the air, alongside the occasional pant and guttural moan. Fingers deftly made quick work of his belt buckle that clinked loudly throughout the night air. The sound momentarily snapped the two teens out of their lust-induced haze, but, in the blink of an eye, they were back to removing articles of clothing from one another. It wasn't until Harry was down to a pair of boxers and the muggle was down to just panties and a bra did Tonks mind begin to work again.

'WHAT THE FUCK?!' was all her poor, confused brain could, oh, so eloquently, come up with. Out of every description she had ever heard attributed to Harry Potter, the words 'horny' and 'exhibitionist' failed to ever arise. In fact, if the members of the Order were even an iota of correct in their assessments of the boy, Harry did not know how to even talk to a girl properly, much less pin her against the side of a building while trailing kisses down the column of a girl's neck. But then again, physical evidence trumps word-of-mouth, and, with the noises that were being emitted from Megan, the words 'boy' and 'Harry Potter' really should never be used in the same sentence ever again – unless one were to say 'boy, that Harry Potter sure knows how to shag.'

Never in all of her years in existence did Nymphadora Tonks ever feel such a desire to simply disappear. She greatly regretted her previous decision to creep closer to the pair – damn that curiosity – in order to hear their conversation, because, if it were up to her, she'd gladly be chatting it up with Severus Snape right then about hair care techniques than standing where she was at the moment, mortified, blushing beet-red as she watched, 10 meters away, the young man she was charged with guarding, peel off the remaining barrier separating the hips of the two teens, all the while, keeping his lips fused to hers, with his other hand roaming her body. The enthusiasm of the girl was arguably even more pronounced, with her legs immediately wrapping themselves around Harry's slim waist, nails raking across the expanse of his back, and hips grinding away in a manner that seemed quite contrary to the laws of physics. Neither bothered to completely divest Harry of his pants, so they remained awkwardly half-on and half-off, loosely hanging off the curve of his buttocks, obviously only low enough for one purpose, in particular. And, thus, Tonks was left with the image of a couple hastily rutting against the side of a house, partially shrouded in shadow, but not nearly enough so, burned in her memory forever. The way the moonlight played off of the girl's markedly tanner, smoother skin, and Harry's ethereal, taut complexion produced a contrast nothing short of breathtaking; or at least, it took Tonk's breath away. It was like watching a train-wreck: impossible to look away. And just as abruptly as it began, the scene before her ended, punctuated with a high-pitched, but restrained, cry, immediately followed by a low grunt and then a groan.

For the longest time, nobody moved. Then, snapping out of her reverie, Tonks continued in her effort to creep just a bit farther away; and then she had to go and step on a damn twig, which promptly snapped under her foot – it may as well have been a firecracker. Harry's head snapped in her direction, and even in the dim light of the moon, she could see a piercing glare being sent her way. Fleetingly, she wondered if he could see through invisibility cloaks, but quickly dismissed the idea, considering what she just witnessed, she was pretty damn sure he had no idea someone else was present. All the same, the two teenagers were now busying themselves by picking up articles of clothing, and with Harry giving Megan her left flip-flop, her last piece of missing apparel, the girl gave him a peck on the lips, murmured some remark into his ear, and left in the same direction she had come from.

Harry stood, rooted at the spot, for what seemed like ages to Tonks, still shirtless, hair clumsily sticking to the sheen of sweat on his forehead, and with pants on, though the last fastener was left still unbuttoned. He unceremoniously made a move for his shirt, but bypassed it in favor of the box of cigarettes that caught his eye... menthol lights? Lighting the smoke, then taking an impossibly long drag, his delayed exhale of the cigarette spoke of satisfaction, albeit short lived. Even in this moment of afterglow, Tonks could see the tension playing across Harry's shoulders. His stance screamed of hostility, and there was a very perceptible trace of a scowl adorning the fifteen year-old's face.

"Whichever Order member is out there right now, I hope you feel like a bloody pervert," it was spoken softly, but rapidly, and the malice was most assuredly there. This startled Tonks, but not enough to engender a response; nothing on God's green earth was going to convince her to make her presence known to Harry, but at least she had the decency to blush crimson. Realizing he was going to get no reply, he settled on sending a withering glare in the general direction he believed his unknown minder to be in, took one last puff of the cigarette, put it out against the brick wall, and made a motion to flick the remaining butt, but then thought better of it. He instead, placed the litter in his pocket, lest the Dursley's later on find remains of cigarettes scattered across their backyard and scream bloody murder. Picking up his shirt and box of cigarettes, Megan had taken the liquor back with her, and tucking both into his pants pockets, he expertly scaled the wall, using the drainpipe to reenter the window into the smallest bedroom of No. 4 Privet Drive.

July 6, 1996

By her next shift on Saturday, Tonks made a decision. To save them both the embarrassment, she would approach Harry and not the Order about the events of Tuesday night. Apprehension gnawed away at her, but, she rationalized, he wasn't supposed to be leaving the house at night, and she was technically obligated to tell him that. Scoffing at her cowardice – scared of approaching a fifteen-year-old boy, really? (although, said fifteen-year-old DID have an explosive anger management issue) – she steeled herself and apparated into the bedroom of Harry Potter.

Appearing into the bedroom, Nymphadora Tonks made three observations right off the bat: first, even at 7:30 in the morning with the window open, the room was like sweatbox, humid enough to suffocate. Secondly, that a person lived in such a small room, the savior of the world no less, was a laughable idea, considering she could've made it from one end of the room to the other in two strides. Lastly, the sole inhabitant of the ridiculously small area was not someone she should pop in on unannounced ever again, because in the two seconds that it took the auror to soak in her surroundings and reset her bearings, Harry Potter had taken his wand and pointed it square between her eyes.

"Wotcher, Harry," Tonks said nervously, hands up in an unequivocal sign of surrender. He lowered the wand slightly but still eyed his intruder with suspicion.

"Tell me something Tonks would know." She just rolled her eyes, saying something about 'bloody paranoid men these days' and quickly changed her nose to a pig snout and back. This seemed to be sufficient evidence for Harry, and he re-pocketed his wand and nodded his head. "So. What brings you here to my humble abode at," he glanced at his bedside table, "8 o'clock in the morning on a Saturday?" Tonks was about to insert her reply, until she saw the state that her companion was in. Harry was only dressed in a pair of athletic shorts, his hair was more disheveled than usual, his eyes visibly bloodshot, and his knuckles were swollen, bloodied, and black and blue in manner that looked excruciatingly painful.

"What on earth happened to your hands??!" Harry grimaced; both at the shrill tone of voice Tonks had taken, as well as in pain when she grabbed his right arm to examine the damage. "Harry, this looks broken… what've you been doing?" He mumbled something indiscernible while nodding towards the wall behind him. Tonks glanced up in the same general direction and saw numerous dents, holes, and reddish-brown marks marring the white wall. Putting two and two together, the pink-haired auror made a clicking noise with her tongue that sounded of annoyance, motioned for Harry to sit on the edge of the bed, and un-holstered her wand to repair the damage. The mannerisms were so similar to that of Madam Pomfrey when the nurse bustled around her hospital wing, or of Hermione whenever she had to heal him, that Harry momentarily wondered if all women innately possessed this strange tendency to direct him around so brusquely whenever he had an injury.

"Episkey… episkey." Harry flinched as his knuckles made a loud CRACK upon snapping back together. Turning to the wall, Tonks muttered 'reparo' and 'tergeo,' and the wall became, once again, pristine. Satisfied with her handiwork, she rounded on the seated teenager who was examining his hands with interest. Tonks tried, with difficulty, to not shout at his idiocy. Instead, she raised her eyebrow and asked as calmly as she could manage, "What the bloody hell were you thinking??"

Harry, rather than look bashful, merely shrugged and said, "I figured someone who could use magic would come by eventually, and they'd fix the wall then. It's not like the Dursleys were going to come up here and check up on me, were they?"

"The wall?? I'm not talking about the ruddy wall; I'm talking about your hands! Were you just going to sit around and wait for someone to fix your bleeding, broken hands… eventually?" The sarcasm dripping from the last word was not lost by either person in the room, and at least Harry had the good sense to look embarrassed.

"I… I didn't exactly think that part through… I kind of just got mad and needed to hit something," he replied sheepishly. "Thanks for fixing it, by the way," he said motioning between his hands and the wall.

Tonks just sighed, less angrily than before, "S'no problem, really." She paused, and then asked, "What's got you so cracked that you felt the need to act with no common sense, anyhow?" At that, Harry's eyes darkened, his mood very abruptly shifting.

"I don't want to talk about it," he ground out, harshly. He looked up at her, "What're you doing here, anyway?"

"No need to get all pissy, Harry, I'm just here to check up on you," her original reason for coming, seemingly forgotten. This was quite clearly the absolute wrong thing to say to the young man who had all but exploded in rage at the thought of the Order of the bloody Phoenix meddling, once again. He didn't yell at Tonks however; he had long since come to the realization that very few people in the Order were actually the cause of his discomfort – the rest of them were just following instructions, and he couldn't, in good conscience, fault them for just doing their job. Or at least, he was trying his best not to do so; at the moment, he was fighting a losing battle.

"As you can see, I'm fine, so you can report back to the Headmaster that his prisoner is behaving like a good little boy should."

Tonks' eyes narrowed at his tone of voice. Allowing for him to get away with minor things here and there because he was grieving was one thing, but she was a twenty-two year old, highly decorated auror for the ministry, and damned if she was going to take lip from, or be dismissed by, a schoolboy. "I don't know to whom you think you are speaking to right now, Harry," she started dangerously, "but if you ever take that tone of voice with me again, a few broken knuckles will be the least of your worries."

Harry closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingers, and took a few deep breaths to himself. He looked back up at her a few moments later and said, "Sorry for snapping at you; S'not your fault… any of it. You just kind of caught me at a bad time… and I'm still trying to work out everything that's been going on, and it's just so hard, and… well, I'm sorry," he was rambling for the most part, but the end of just stream of consciousness was spoken so earnestly that Tonks didn't really stay that mad for too long.

She knew plenty to people with Harry's type of personality, especially in the corps, and thus, never took many things personally. They were brash, fueled by emotion, quick to act, and slow to deliberate; snappishness aside, they made good fighters and trustworthy partners in the field – it was the ones that took too long to make a decision, after all, that always seemed to come back unconscious, or worse. It was her experience with this type that allowed her to understand that Harry would not appreciate prying, so instead of badgering him to death, she simply asked, "D'you want to talk about it?"

He simply closed his eyes again and shook his head, giving a mirthless laugh. "Wouldn't even know where to begin anyhow." Tonks took the moment to really scrutinize the young man in front of her, the supposed hero of the wizarding world, the one that would save them all, and recently dubbed 'Chosen One.' He was still seated on the edge of his bed, legs dangling over the edge, leaning his weight onto the palms of his hands, which were planted behind him. The veins running through his forearms, just beneath the surface of his skin were clearly pronounced. Her eyes followed the large vein that ran vertically along the front of his bicep, which was well defined on his narrow frame, and curved and disappeared from sight near the crevice of his shoulder. His shoulders were still tensed for unknown reasons, and she briefly wondered if he would even know how to if someone asked him to relax. His chest, again defined, was smooth with the sparsest amount of hair present that would, no doubt, never change. His stomach was taut with a hint of muscular definition, but the lack of bulging muscles made the line of separation created by his hips more pronounced, as they ran along both sides of his body, disappearing into the waistband of his athletic shorts, creating a recognizable 'v' shape. All in all, Tonks had to admit that Harry Potter was an attractive young man who would one day in the near future become strikingly handsome. But then, there were the scars; they, by no means detracted from his features, but it would be a lie to say that one could look upon him and not notice their presence – there was just so many. Though she was no stranger to the occasional battle wound (one does not become an auror, after all, to simply sit behind a desk all day, away from danger), Tonks was perturbed to see that Harry possessed an alarming amount of scars for a fully-grown adult, let alone an almost 16-year-old teenager.

Turning her gaze away, she carefully took in the contents of the rest of the room. Other than the trunk that she remembered him carrying in from the train station, the only other things in the room that could be identified as his were the stack parchment and the three books resting on the small desk in the corner of the room. Upon seeing the papers and broken wax seal and ribbon lying beside the pile, the full gravity of her poor timing finally dawned on her. She went to work just yesterday to find a similar looking parcel waiting for her at her desk with the widely recognizable Gringotts seal stamped bloodred in the center – Sirius' will. Whatever her late cousin wrote to Harry must've upset the poor teen greatly. At some point, Harry reopened his eyes and followed Tonks line of vision to the papers on his desk and stared on, glumly.

"Oh, Harry," Tonks said softly while approaching him, hesitantly wrapping her arms around his shoulders – he just looked in desperate need of a hug at the moment. "Do you want to talk about it?" She asked for the second time that morning. He wretched himself sharply out of her embrace, realization suddenly dawning on him.

" Oh my god, Tonks, I'm such an idiot, I didn't even realize… he was your family… I… I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have… I should've never gone…" his voice cracked, and he was unable to finish his sentence.

Tonks narrowed her eyes at Harry, focusing an unflinching steely gaze directly into his eyes. "Harry Potter. Don't you dare say what I think you're about to say; if so much as even think about blaming yourself, I will hex you so fast, so help me god." Harry opened his mouth to say something, presumably in protest, but quickly snapped his jaw shut, upon seeing the death glare Tonks was shooting in his direction. "You listen to me clearly, because I'm only going to say this once. Sirius' death was. Not. Your. Fault. The sooner you get that through your think skull, the better. No one forced him to go, and you certainly didn't shoot the hex that pushed him through, so you stop it this. instant." Tonks stated, resolute. Harry sat rigidly still for a brief amount of time before slowly nodding his head.

"I know that. It's just that… everything was so hard already, and now with him gone… with him gone… well. I just wish he was still here," Harry stated somberly. "And now, I'm just SO mad. All the time. It's like I can't control it, this rage. Everything pisses me off. I hate everything and I can't stop myself from feeling such… hate. Tonks. I don't know what to do. I can't deal with this. I'm not strong enough for this." Tonks was taken aback by such an open admission of feeling from Harry, especially since he had a very long track record of bottling things up, but she told tell that there were things that he just needed to get off his chest – he was burdened by some much at such a young age. It was really quite unfair, Tonks thought, dolefully.

The next hour consisted of Harry venting his frustrations to his companion, who, for her part, played the role of the listener masterfully. He unloaded everything that had been eating away at his conscience for the last few weeks, having no one really to talk to. His anger at himself for acting rashly, his anger at Sirius for leaving him all alone, his frustration with his supposed friends who had yet to write him this summer, his irritation with Albus Dumbledore for keeping so much from him… the list went on. In the end, Tonks felt as though she was one of the few that was privileged to see Harry as he truly was – not the hero that everyone built him up to be, but the somewhat lost soul who needed a friend to talk to. By the end of his tirade, Harry looked visibly tired, the bags under his eyes significantly more pronounced than before. His shoulders slumped in a dejected manner, his anger spent. The two just sat in comfortable silence for a while, both staring off into space, wrapped up in their own thoughts.

Tonks finally broke the silence with her own opinions. "Harry, before Sirius died, he and I spoke often, and his favorite subject by far to talk about was you. The man loved you like his own son – anyone who heard the pride in his voice could tell. And he wouldn't want you to grieve and worry yourself on his behalf. He'd just want you to live, I'm sure of it." She glanced in his direction, making sure he was paying attention to her words. "Obviously, keeping all your thoughts to yourself is a bad idea – you know it and I know it. We all thought that it would be best for you if we just gave you a little bit of space to work things out on your own, but that was clearly a mistake, so here's what's going to happen. You need someone to talk to, and I'm willing to listen. So, how about whenever I'm on guard duty, and you need to talk about something, I'll happily lend my ear, whenever you need to holler."

Harry looked at Tonks with a mixture of shock and apprehension on his face. After a long pause, he hesitantly replied, "Yea... I think I'd like that." Tonks broke out into a large grin at this.

"Excellent! Truthfully, you have no idea how relieved I am to hear you say that. For a second, I was worried that you'd start down a bad path with all you've had to cope with." Harry gave her a quizzical look, to which Tonks replied, almost teasingly, "What? You think you're the first person ever to turn to drugs, sex, and alcohol to numb their emotions?"

Harry looked thunderstruck, so Tonks elaborated, "My shifts for guard duty are Saturdays… and Tuesday nights." Tonks smirked while Harry turned red, first from embarrassment and then from anger.

"It was you! You were… you were spying on me!? How dare you – " Harry sputtered, indignantly.

"Oh, calm down lover boy, you act like I've never seen that before. And, for your information, I was NOT spying on you, I was doing my job, by making sure you weren't being accosted by Death Eaters at ungodly hours of the day. Lucky for you, the girl had more pleasant things in mind than inflicting pain on you, eh?" Tonks said with a grin, "Unless, of course, you're into that sort of thing." Harry replied only with a glare that would've made grown men fear for their lives.

"All joking aside though, Harry, you're being… careful, right? I mean, you're, ah, protecting yourself? Not running around with a bunch of different lassies?"

"Tonks, how stupid do you think I am – of course I'm being careful," he snapped back at her. "And before you say anything, I'm not taking advantage of her, you know. She propositioned me. I'm being taken advantage of every bit as much as I'm taking advantage of her." Tonks merely raised her hands in submission.

"Hey, I'm just asking for your sake, don't make me the bad guy here; I couldn't care less what kind of set-up you have going on, I just have to let you know that if it were any other Order member, you wouldn't be getting off so easily for sneaking out at odd hours of the night." Harry just grinned at this statement.

"Maybe if it were any other Order member, 'cept Fletcher. Do you really think last Tuesday was my first time?" Tonks had to admit that the ease by which he climbed in and out of the window made her wonder how used to these situations he truly was. "All that man does when he's on duty is sleep – even in the middle of the bloody day! I can always tell when it's him because his snores could wake the living dead and he's not exactly the stealthiest of people. He's been bloody useful though, so I can't complain too much. Been able to run out to muggle London and buy myself new clothes, a bit of food, and cigarettes a few times under his 'watchful' eye," Harry admitted, though not looking the least bit ashamed. "Not to mention, I've been getting away with sneaking around a bit."

Tonks was unsure as to how she should respond to his admission. True, Harry leaving Privet Drive without anyone's knowledge was a blatant breach of security, and Albus would have his skin if he found out Dung's incompetence. Still though, nothing bad had happened to Harry, and in the end, that was the important thing, right? So, instead of berate Harry (after all, what would that really accomplish?), she simply changed the subject. "Anywayy. So, how do you know that girl? Megan, was it?"

"We went to grade school together. Haven't seen her in years really, and we were never friends even when I did see her on the regular. She was actually a brat as a kid. But ever since Petunia's been exploiting my manual labor for her benefit, I've had all sorts of propositions by old classmates around the neighborhood while I've been tending to their parents' gardens. Apparently, I'm the 'mysterious, criminal bad-boy of the neighborhood that girls want to get to know better,'" Harry explained, all the while, sporting the largest grin Tonks had ever seen plastered on his face. "And who am I to deny schoolgirls their fantasies? Plus, I think it's kind of ironic. Most of them fucked me over while we were kids, and now… well, let's just say now, the tables have turned." Tonks emitted a barking laugh at this. She was pleasantly surprised to find out that Harry actually had a pretty good sense of humor, once he got past the anger issues.

The rest of that Saturday was spent with the two swapping light-hearted stories, ranging from their respective adventures at Hogwarts to their equally laughable love lives. While Tonks amused Harry with stories of her antics as a student, Harry shocked Tonks with tales of his multiple near-death experiences throughout his years in the castle. For the most part, they avoided heavier topics, with an unspoken understanding that there would be a time for such, just not that day. Neither was really ready to spill their hearts out about Sirius, anyway. Before either of the two knew it, the sun was beginning to draw low towards the horizon, and both realized that neither had eaten yet all day. Tonks apparated the two to the nearest restaurant – a pizza parlor – and the two split a pizza. Though the two didn't know it, this was the beginning of what would become a long running tradition the two would share, consisting of hours of earnest conversation held over pizza. Bringing Harry back to Privet Drive, Tonks said her goodbyes before running off to swap shifts with Moody.

"Wotcher, Harry. I'll see you next Tuesday. And do me a favor, if you could, try to limit your extracurricular activities to just when Dung is on duty. I like you, but I dunno if I can handle seeing your scrawny, bare arse in the moonlight one more time," and with that and a wink, she disapparated, leaving Harry with a mock-glare on his face.

July 23, 1996

Tonks ripped off the invisibility cloak once the muggle girl was out of sight and stormed towards Harry. "Harrison James Potter. I asked one thing of you. One, simple little task. Are you trying to scar me for life, you oversexed maniac!?"

The young man in question simply cocked his head in her direction with a cigarette hanging from his lips and a look of amusement dancing in his eyes. Instead of addressing her line of questioning, he merely held out the box of cigarettes in his hand toward her, "Hullo, Tonks! Fancy seeing you tonight, care for a smoke?" She replied by smacking the box out of his hands and pointing her wand at his still bare chest. "No? Don't want a smoke?" Harry laughed.

"Oh, c'mon Tonksy, don't be like that, it wasn't my fault! I did what you asked, but she wanted to meet up tonight – it was just a goodbye shag! Her family's leaving for holiday tomorrow!" Shockingly, this didn't appease Tonks in the least, but at least she refrained from hexing him (though she was mildly tempted to just hex his bits right off then and there and be done with it), and instead, just poked him hard in the solarplex with her wand before putting it away into the pocket of her jeans.

"Oi! That kind of hurt!" Harry rubbed his chest, no longer looking amused.

"Serves you right, subjecting me to torture again. Just because I'm guarding your stupid arse doesn't mean I need to see it on a regular basis – you don't have to remind me; I know what it looks like by now."

"Hey, now, don't be sore. Least you've not swapped with Dung. If he were awake, I'd say he'd have to see it far more often than you; six or seven times a week I'd say," Harry said cheekily. "And I'll have you know, my arse is not stupid. I've been told it's rather cute."

Tonks rolled her eyes and made a noise of exasperation, "Oh for the love of god. Just pass me a cigarette, you berk."