Chapter 1


Tonks awoke from her doze with a start, on hearing her name. She found herself lying on a couch at the Grimmauld Place library, with Remus Lupin standing over her. "That's strange," she thought. "I didn't realize how tired I was, and I slept like a baby last night."

"W-wotcher, Remus," she said with a huge yawn. "What time is it?"

"Time for dinner," Remus answered, smiling. "Molly made stew, and I figured you wouldn't want to miss it."

"Thanks, I'll be right there," said Tonks. She got up, but must have done so too quickly because her head spun and she would have fallen to the floor if Remus hadn't caught her in time.

"All right there, Nymphadora?" he asked, sounding concerned.

"Don't call me Nymphadora," Tonks grumbled, embarrassed. "I'm OK, just got dizzy for a minute there."

Truthfully, though, she was feeling worse every second. Her head pounded, her throat felt scratchy, and there was a sharp tickle in her nose. She knew that all those nights on guard duty, in addition to her job at the Ministry would lead to something like this.

"Go ahead, I'll catch up," she said to Remus.

"All right, see you in a bit." Remus gave her shoulder a small squeeze and left the room. He didn't look convinced, and Tonks knew she'd have to try extra hard to show him that she was fine. The last thing she wanted was for Remus to see her with a cold and be repulsed. Her clumsiness would already be repulsive enough.

The young Auror made her way down to the kitchen, where everyone—meaning half the Order of the Phoenix, plus the Weasley clan and Hermione—was already eating. "This is going to be difficult," Tonks thought, but she still managed to smile and greet everyone.

"Hello, dear," said Molly Weasley. "Can I get you some stew?"

"Sure, Molly, that would be great," the younger woman said, trying to sound enthusiastic. She took a seat between Remus and Hestia Jones, and a minute later, Molly handed her a bowl with savory-looking stew. It smelled delicious, but Tonks didn't feel much like eating. She sat, picking at her dinner and staring into space, which couldn't escape Molly's sharp eye for long.

"Tonks, dear, are you feeling all right?" she asked softly.

Tonks looked up warily. "Yes, I-I'm fine. Why do you ask?"

"Are you sure, love? You're not eating, and you look a bit peaky. Maybe you'd like to take a nap?"

Tonks was about to tell Molly that she just took one, but the tickle in her nose suddenly returned and she sneezed forcefully into cupped hands, "Ha-kshoo! Heh, heh, he-kshoo!"

The sneezes brought some relief, but also hurt her throat and made her headache even worse. She blew her nose into a handkerchief that Hestia gave her, and looked up, dazed. Immediately, she felt Molly's hand on her forehead.

"You're running a fever!" the red-haired witch exclaimed. "I knew you've been working yourself too hard! That's it, off to bed with you. You need rest and some hot tea."

Tonks' face turned bright red as she took in the concerned stares of everyone at the table. She was mortified at being seen in such a state, but a small part of her was also glad at the chance to lie down on her cool sheets and rest her throbbing head on her pillow. So she said, "Yes, you're right, Molly. Good night, everyone," and headed upstairs.