Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters/Pairing: Nymphadora Tonks, others – gen.
Summary: There are some things that are great about being able to change your shape at will, and there are other things that are complete rubbish. All Nymphadora Tonks ever really wanted was to fit in.
The Department of Magical Law Enforcement had a very enthusiastic recruitment policy for Metamorphmagi. There was just something about being able to change your appearance without a wand, or a potion or a spell that was appealing to them.
Nymphadora Tonks couldn't imagine why.
She had her first visit from the Ministry of Magic when she was twelve years old, touting the benefits of catching Dark Wizards for a living. Of course, twelve-year-old Nymphadora Tonks was not particularly interested in catching Dark Wizards. She was interested in catching the attention of the cute Ravenclaw boy in her Charms class.
'You'd be able to use your talents for the good of the Wizarding World,' the Auror had told her. She didn't really believe him. After all, to her, they weren't really a talent. They were just an inconvenience.
It was a well known fact, that before a certain age, children were incapable of controlling their magic. It was the reason why Hogwarts tuition began at eleven, rather than an earlier age. Wizarding families were expected to teach their own children basic skills – the kind that might have been taught in a Muggle school.
Unfortunately for Tonks, the same lack of control could be applied to the art of shape-shifting. She'd seen the baby photos – hair a different colour in every photo, but not just hair. She'd change her nose, her hands, her feet. An automatic process that couldn't be helped. The healers couldn't really do anything about it – Metamorphmagi were so rare that anti-shifting methods hadn't been perfected yet.
Learning to walk was difficult when your feet weren't guaranteed to be the same size with every step, and that was one problem that had always persisted – no matter which body, which shape she was in, it never seemed to fit right.
Fitting in was one of the most important things to teenage girls, and it was quite simply the one thing that Nymphadora Tonks couldn't do. She made them laugh, sometimes, but mostly they were laughing at her, rather than with her. Laughing when she tripped over her feet at the Quidditch tryout, laughing when she set the goblet she was trying to transfigure on fire.
The second time the Ministry visited was a marked difference to the first time. The second time, it wasn't a bland man in an ill-fitting Muggle suit. The second time it was Alastor Moody, who seemed to think that blending in was for other people.
He gave it to her frankly. 'Nymphadora, I-'
'Tonks,' she corrected him. 'Only my mother calls my Nymphadora. And Professor Snape,' she added, a little bitterly.
He chuckled – whether it was at her choice of name, or at the mention of Professor Snape, she couldn't be sure.
'Tonks, I'm not here to tell you that being an Auror is all glitz and glamour. That's a bald-faced lie that they use for recruitment. In all honesty, becoming an Auror is perhaps the worst career choice for anyone looking to live to a ripe, old age. The hours are terrible, and you'll probably see more hospital visits than Galleons.'
'Why are you telling me this?' she asked, curious. It didn't seem a particularly effective technique.
'I'm telling you because the best Aurors aren't the ones that we recruit. They're the ones that come to us out of their own free will. Now Professor Dumbledore tells me you have a penchant for troublemaking.'
She grinned at that – while the rest of her professors were tolerant at best, Dumbledore always gave a mischievous smile when he passed her in the hallways.
'Your marks aren't too terrible, but I'd say that's about execution rather than skill. You come from a long line of powerful witches and wizards.' His voice took a dark tone as he said that, and Tonks knew exactly why. She was fairly sure that her relatives had given him trouble in the past.
Six years after the end of the war, things were still chaotic – Tonks didn't need to be an adult to know that much. She could tell just by watching Moody – the way his eye was constantly moving as they spoke, looking for trouble in all directions. The hand in his pocket was probably clutching his wand, just waiting for someone to attack.
'I can tell just by looking at you that you don't want to be a healer, or a banker, or any of those boring things. You want excitement. You don't fit in, so you'd rather stand out.'
She didn't respond to that, but he didn't continue anyway. He bid her farewell, eye spinning violently as he disappeared with a loud crack.
Things didn't exactly change when she went back to Hogwarts, but some days she found herself subconsciously correcting her wandwork, or trying a little bit harder to not set her cauldron on fire when she tipped in the newt eyeballs. She barely scraped the marks needed for her N.E.W.T-level subjects, an event which had a bittersweet sting to it, because it meant spending another two years under the tutelage of Severus Snape.
She thought, perhaps that becoming an Auror would fill that need for companionship, the need for approval. It was hard to feel approved, though, when Mad-Eye Moody, veritable psychotic, spent nine hours a day hurling spells at her. He was right. There was no glitz. No glamour. It was mostly nausea and unconsciousness. Yet somehow, it was downright satisfying.
And then things started going downhill.
Being a Dark Wizard Catcher in the beginnings of the Second War was a very different ball game. Events were less isolated, more omens of dark times ahead. At least, that's what she saw. Fudge and his band of yes-men denied it vehemently, which frustrated some Aurors to no end.
That's how she ended up in a London pub with Kingsley Shacklebolt, and, to her eternal surprise, Albus Dumbledore. Really, she shouldn't have been surprised that Dumbledore was heading the fight against Voldemort. She was, however, a little surprised that he was asking her to join that fight.
It wasn't a glamorous job. It was a downright dangerous job. Even more dangerous than being and Auror. She wasn't quite sure why she said yes. Maybe it was that urge to fit in, to be a part of something. Maybe it was because the majority of her blood relatives were on the other side of the fight. Maybe it was just for the thrill.
She wasn't particularly surprised to find herself dying on a battlefield. Blood seeping from the wound in her stomach, her fingers soaked in crimson as she tried to keep it all in, but she knew it was too late. She thought about her husband, and she thought about her child, and she thought about the words that Alastor Moody had spoken to her so long ago: "You don't fit in, so you'd rather stand out." She was kind of glad that she had the chance to do both.
At least, for a little while.