These summer friendlies were never anyone's idea of a good time, but as Quidditch was picking up in America, the ownership thought it'd be a good idea to play a few friendlies there during the off-season. Never mind, of course, that the North American league was in the middle of its schedule, and never mind that between international duties and pre-season, we never got a few weeks' recuperation in a row, these games brought in Galleons by the gallons. Or dollars, or whatever. Be that as it may, come June of '05, the rest of the Holyfield Harpies and I were in north-central Massachusetts to play a few games of Quidditch against Fitchburg Finches, Heidelberg Harriers and Braga Broomfleet, in some thrown-together competition called the "Super Teams of World Quidditch Cup". The facilities were lovely, the Quidditch was passable, and we were treated like rock stars by legions of adoring Europhiles and ex-pats. I suppose there could have been worse ways to spend a couple of weeks in the off-season. Harry, of course, had just been promoted again, and therefore could never in a million years have come with me. But he promised he'd stay up late to listen on the Wireless, at least until I was subbed off (I and one other player were contractually obligated to play at least an hour).
We had an off-day on a Thursday, and some of the girls and I took a trip to Salem to see if there was a bit more to do with one's self than in sleepy Fitchburg. We did a bit of shopping, we scouted out a couple of nightclubs for later on, and found ourselves in what they called "Little Diagon Alley" for tea. This was a part of Salem that was nearly overrun by refugees from the two Wizarding Wars in Britain, and we were soon to find out what a mistake that was. For as much blissful anonymity as we had in the rest of the States, we had none there, and were soon mobbed by fans and well-wishers eager to regain a connection to their homeland through us.
Within a half-hour of sitting down, we realized that this had been a mistake. The shop-owner was kind enough to shoo as many of the fans away as she could, but it was an unwinnable war. We nibbled our way through a few cucumber sandwiches and called it off. I went to the front to pay the tab when I was stopped again.
"Great game last night, Ginny," she said. I looked over and saw a woman with mousy-brown hair sitting next to a boy who couldn't have been more than six or seven. I didn't recognize the woman, but something about her slight South London accent was familiar. Then I saw the boy's hair color change from electric blue to a red to match mine.
"Merlin's saggy left - Tonks!" Tonks stood up to greet me.
"Wotcher, Ginny? How've you been?"
"I've been - what the hell does it matter how I've been? Where have you been? Have you been here this whole time? Not a note, not a letter; Harry's been worried sick about you. And Teddy."
"Mummy, how does she know my name?"
"Right, introductions," Tonks answered, a bit flustered. "Teddy, this is Ginny Potter; she's the lady that scored all those goals at the Quidditch last night. She and Mister Potter were good friends of your father's and mine back in England. Ginny, I think you remember my son?"
I composed myself a bit. There was no need to dress down a woman I hadn't seen in years in front of her son. "Excuse me, Teddy, I didn't mean to give you a start. Would you mind very much if I join you two, after I make excuses to my teammates?"
"Well, tough. I'm sitting here anyway. International Quidditch star, you know. I can do things like that." Tonks and I giggled a little as I called the cashier over to take my bill. I then waved at my teammates, who seemed happy enough to go on without me, as their chances of walking about without causing a mob scene were very much increased that way.
We sat in silence for a few moments, before Tonks spoke up.
"Ginny, I really can't talk about what happened here, it's still a little raw. Maybe you can tell me how things have been with you and Harry. Are you still living at Headquarters?"
"We are," I replied. "Kreacher and Winky did a great job of fixing the place up, so it's livable now. I've asked Harry if we can move, but every time I do he mutters something about "Sirius wanted me to have it," so I think we're stuck there. It's okay. Nothing I'd necessarily want to raise a family in, but it'll do."
Tonks smiled. "He's always been a bit of a sentimental one, that Harry. How are things with him in the Aurors? Has he taken over the place yet?"
"A damned sight more quickly than you'd think. With Hestia leading the DMLE, and Kingsley in as Minister again, Harry's moved up quite fast indeed. He'll be head Auror in a couple of years."
"Oof. Is he ever home?"
"He's really good about not taking on too much when Harpies have an off week. He does most of his work during those prosaic rainy Tuesdays in Ballycastle. So it works out, I suppose."
"And your career is flourishing. Top of the league last season, called to the England side. I catch every game, you know."
"Can you get the games here?" I asked.
"Well, sure. Actually, it's a damn sight easier to see the British league than the North American one here, which doesn't make any sense. I always figure you support your local, but I guess that doesn't always apply. I mean, how many were there rooting for your girls last night?"
"Well, no. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm glad you had a great game, Ginny. But they'd throw me right out of the Finches' Nest if they'd seen me in a Holyhead jersey, er, kit."
I laughed. "It's okay, I know what you meant. So, America's agreeing with you, then?"
"Well, I do get a lot of compliments on my accent, which is new. But it was good to get away, even if - Teddy, quit it. Mrs. Potter and I are talking."
"But Mummy," Teddy whispered, "I have to go!"
"I should probably - "
"No, Ginny," Tonks said, grabbing my hand. "Please, wait. I do want to catch up."
I smiled and nodded. There was almost a desperation to Tonks's voice, and she really looked as if she needed my company. Besides, it was so good to see her after all this time, and I was more than a bit curious to hear what drove her from England so quickly after the war. So I waited with Tonks, while Teddy went off to the loo.
"He doesn't know anything about the war. When he's older, I'll tell him, certainly before he goes off to Salem."
"You won't be sending him to Hogwarts, then?"
"His father died in that castle, Ginny. Besides, his life is here. He's as American as anyone else in Little Diagon Alley, and he has the accent to prove it. Besides, I'm just not sure if I could. Go back there, you know."
"Right," I replied. "Terribly insensitive of me, I know. It's just - I'm sorry, Tonks. I have no idea what that must be like for you. Or him, for that matter."
"It's fine, really," Tonks said, grabbing my hand again. "Most days I'm able to deal. Other days, well, let's just say I'm glad I have that reparation money, because it'd be tough holding down a job when you can't get out of bed in the morning."
"Tonks, if you ever - I mean - "
"That's kind of you, Ginny, but no. We do just fine. The interest from the reparation funds covers everything we need. And there's free magical education through high school here. We're fine."
"Good. But if that ever changes..."
"Of course. Teddy, would you like it if Mrs. Potter came home with us for supper?"
I'd forgotten how sneaky Tonks could be. Subject change and forcing me to come to supper all in one short phrase. But of course I'd go, especially after Teddy's little face lit up like a Christmas tree when she asked. He grinned broadly, showing off the gap where he'd recently lost a tooth, and nodded vigorously.
"Well, I'm glad to hear that, Teddy," I said. "And please call me Ginny. Your mother and I are old friends, so I reckon that makes you and I friends, too, what?"
I nearly melted when the little guy wrapped his arms around my waist. I did melt when I saw Tonks's hair turn pink.
Tonks's flat in Salem was functional, if a bit chaotic. It reminded me a bit of what Harry and my house looked like before Ron moved out and I moved in - in a state that Mum would say it "needs a woman's touch." There were toys in the living room, a couple of dishes in the sink, but it was clean enough. Teddy was thrilled to show me his room, and the Fitchburg posters he had up everywhere, and the kit autographed by none other than Leonore Davies herself. Poor kid nearly lost his mind when I told him I played against her in the last World Cup.
I called Harry on the mobile when I got there, saying only that I'd run into Tonks and she and Teddy were doing well, and that I'd be having supper with them. Tonks grimaced when she overheard me - I guess she didn't want me to say anything of the sort, so when Harry asked if he could speak with her, I told him that probably wasn't a good idea, and left it at that. I'd fill him in when I got back home. Harry was perceptive enough to know not to press further.
We listened to a program on the Wireless (Marvin goes to Muggleton, to which Teddy nearly knew all the words), and ordered pizza. Teddy gave me a big hug before he went to bed, dressed in his Marvin the Muggle footed pyjamas. He gave his mother a loud kiss on the cheek, and Tonks warded the door to his room, and cast an Imperturbable at the door to his door.
"So, what time do you have to be back at the pitch tomorrow?" she asked, heading into her own room.
"Half-one. We have a two o'clock practise tomorrow, and that's it before the match on Saturday against Braga."
"Good," she shouted back. "Then you can stay a bit and have a drink with me." Tonks emerged from her bedroom in a pair of blue sweatpants and a large, blue, well-worn Weird Sisters tee shirt, with her hair short, pink and spiky, like it was when we were all living together at Headquarters, back when it was Headquarters and not Home. She grabbed a pair of goblets from the cabinets, and a bottle of mead. If I'm honest, mead is really more of a wintertime drink than summer, but there's also nothing like it if you're planning on getting absolutely legless, which I suppose we were.
"If it's going to be a mead kind of evening, I should probably kip out here tonight, if you don't mind, Tonks."
"Right you are. I'll not have a splinching accident on my conscience. Besides, wouldn't you get in trouble with the team?"
"Those two girls I was with are probably getting into much more trouble, anyway. And, it's preseason, anyway. Jones can get stuffed if she thinks we're spending the whole trip sober. So let's not be fancy about this, right?" I replied, taking the mead out of her hand, popping the cork and pouring a healthy draught of it down my throat. I nearly gagged.
"Easy does it, sister. That's the fortified stuff right there. It's sweet like mead, but with the kick of firewhiskey." Yet, even as she said this, she took nearly as healthy a hit from the bottle as I did. "Takes a bit of getting used to is all."
When she passed the bottle back my way, I poured it into the goblets and re-fastened the cork. "Here," I said, passing a goblet to her. "We're grown women, we can drink like such." Tonks shot me a smirking sort of frown, but smiled as she sipped from her goblet, with her pinky finger pointing out mockingly.
"So," I asked after a small bit of silence. "What the hell happened, anyway? How did you wind up here?"
"Oh, I see how it is," Tonks replied with a smile. "Ply a girl full of liquor and expect her to tell all her secrets. You Quidditch players are all alike, you know."
"Something like that. Call it Athlete's prerogative. Now, spill."
Tonks sighed and refilled our goblets. "It was supposed to be me there at the Battle of Hogwarts, you know. Not mum."
"Come on, Tonks. You had a baby to take care of. Teddy needed you, win or lose."
"Right. But I was also an Auror. Fighting mad dark wizards was my career, it was what I was trained to do. And I didn't. I lost my head, let my mother get the best of me, and she went and she died. My mother, my father, and my husband all died, Ginny. None of them were Aurors. I was. It should have been me."
"How did your mother get the best of you?"
"I was saying goodbye to Teddy, standing over his crib, when she put me in a mild body-bind that wore off in 20 minutes and apparated away. With her gone, I couldn't leave Teddy alone in the house. So I waited for them to come back. I woke up the next morning, and they were still gone. Then I heard the bells pealing around the city and these mad parties going off everywhere and they still hadn't come back. And that's when I knew. Hestia gave me a month's leave after that, but I just couldn't go back. I'd let them all down. I let you all down. I was the Auror, Ginny. Ishould have gone. I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't take looking at any of you anymore. So I left."
Tonks wept, and I took the goblet from her hand and placed it on her coffee table. I held her for a few minutes and let her weep, wiping tears from her cheek until they were just being replaced with my own. We sat there, crying over our lost loved ones for a few minutes more. I thought of Fred, and thought of my own mother, who wound up taking on Bellatrix for me. Then Tonks turned around in my arms and wiped the tears from my eyes.
"Merlin," she said. "Now I've got you crying, too." She kissed the top of my forehead and held my head to her breast. After a moment she said "We need some music."
I smiled and nodded, wiping the last of the tears from my eyes and pouring the last of the mead into my goblet, swallowing it in one shot. "And more mead. That bottle's done."
Tonks laughed as she flicked her wand in the direction of her phonograph, and the dulcet strains of "Do The Hippogriff" came out of the cone-shaped speaker. "More mead. You're trying to get a girl drunk, aren't you?"
"I might be," I answered, a bit more flirtatiously than I had anticipated. "But you're the one who invited a superstar Quidditch player into your flat. Didn't you hear that we're only after one thing?"
Tonks laughed. "Of course you are, but no one takes advantage of me in my own house. Drink up! I want to dance!"
And dance we did. I kicked off my shoes, we moved the coffee table out of the way and we did the "Hippogriff" like it was 1994 all over again. Then we pogoed like mad to "Magic Works." And then "This is the night came on, and Tonks put her arms lightly around my neck, so I put mine around her waist. And we danced there for a bit, swaying back and forth very much like I did with Neville at the Yule Ball. And I'm not sure if it was the mead, or the song, or what it was, but we were looking into each others' eyes and I kissed her. And her lips were soft, and warm, and tasted of cherry lip-gloss, and about four seconds in, I realized what I was doing.
"Oh, Merlin. Tonks - I, I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me, I - mmmf."
When she kissed me back it was rough and longing, and I found myself with my fingers tangled in fuschia hair, nibbling on her lower lip. I began placing less gentle bites down her jaw to her neck, which caused Tonks to arch her back in enjoyment. I ran my hand under her shirt up her spine and she gasped and said
"You kiss even better than Harry did."
I took the hand that wasn't busy unhooking her brassiere and grabbed her chin with it, pulling her face next to mine. "Don't bring up my husband now, Tonks. Okay?" I said, with an absolutely feral look in my eyes. She ran her tongue along her lips and I shuddered and grunted, then slipped her tee and unhooked bra over her head. Tonks gasped at this, which only encouraged me.
"Come on," I said, breathlessly. "Take me to bed. We can fuck like grown women, too."
I grabbed her shirt and bra from the floor, and we stumble-ran into her bedroom, closing the door behind us. We kissed feverously as she undid the buttons of my blouse, and I unsnapped my bra from behind my back. She slid out of her remaining clothes, I did the same, and we fell onto her bed, tossing the duvet to the floor. I kissed a line from between her breasts, over her belly, to the bright-red curls between her legs that matched the hair on top of her head. I snickered for a moment as it occurred to me that this would settle a wager I'd overheard Ron and Harry propose back at Headquarters the summer after fourth year.
"What?" Tonks asked, rather impatiently.
"Nothing," I replied. "Just realized that Harry owes Ron five Galleons." Tonks snorted a laugh, shook her head, and pushed my head back downward.
Afterwards, we lay there for a moment, and I realized Tonks was sobbing. Quietly, but still sobbing. I sat up.
"What is it?" I asked. "Are you okay? Was that too much?"
Tonks laughed through her sobs, pulling my forehead to her lips. "No, that was just fine. Perfect, in fact. It's just been so long that anyone's so much as grabbed my hand that - well, it's been a while. Maybe it was a little overwhelming. But here I am all sated and happy, and you're still a bundle of knots. Come up here, let me take care of that for you."
She was obviously just trying to reciprocate, and I didn't feel comfortable with that, so I demured.
"Ginny, you've never slept with a metamorphmagus before, have you? Believe me, this is something you'll remember. Just bring your hips up here and hold onto the headboard. I'll do the rest."
It might have been something about her grin, or maybe it was the fire raging between my legs, but I believed her, and looking back, I'm glad I did. When it was over, and I had re-gained a modicum of control, I climbed back to the crook in her arm I'd just left.
"Holy- Ye Gods, woman. You weren't kidding," I panted.
Tonks grinned wickedly. "No, I wasn't. That was pretty good, huh? We probably should have warded the whole flat, though. Neighbors are nosy."
I grinned and nodded in reply. "I should head back to the couch, but I'm just going to stay here a little bit until I'm steadier on my feet, if that's okay," I said.
We made small-talk for the next few minutes, talking about Quidditch, where she gets her mead, if the Weird Sisters are ever going to release a fourth single. Somewhere in there we must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I know, I awake to bright sunlight, a splitting headache and the sound of a six- or seven-year-old boy figuring out breakfast on his own.
"Tonks!" I hiss. "Wake up. It's morning, and Teddy's already awake!"
"Shit! Ginny, throw something on," she whispers, rushing into her sweats from the previous night. "There's a bathrobe in my closet. Give me five minutes to explain before you come out though, okay?"
I nodded, and picked my underwear up off of the floor, slipping them on before she opened the door to explain this to Teddy. I was terrified. What was she going to tell the little guy? How could he possibly understand this? I didn't even understand this. I put the bathrobe on and waited, and two minutes later, Teddy pads into the room.
"That's okay Ginny, I sleep with Mummy sometimes when I feel sad, too. Then I always feel happy the next day."
I tousled his head and gave him a squeeze. "Then I suppose I ought to feel happy today, what do you think?" He nodded, and we went into have breakfast. For me, breakfast was a hangover potion with a pepper-up chaser. Teddy had Marvin-Os, which probably held the same nutritional value, although they turned his milk rainbow colors, which amused both of us greatly. After breakfast, I showered, dressed, and made sure to tell Tonks in front of Teddy that if she took my friends and family seats at Saturday's game against Braga, I'd get Teddy a 'jersey' signed by the whole Harpies team, which elicited squeals of delight from the boy, and a grumble or two from his mother.
Saturday was our last game in Massachusetts. We were heading to Moosejaw the following morning, so it would be my last chance to see her for awhile. We had our first-string Seeker starting, so I knew the game wouldn't go much longer than the contractually obligated hour. which it didn't. Which was a good thing, because Braga are notorious for brilliant chasers and lousy seekers, thanks to a hex put on the team by a tribe of Gypsies who wagered on them unsuccessfully in 1947. So we wound up winning, 190-160 in an hour and a quarter. Tonks and Teddy found me right outside the locker room, where I presented Teddy with the autographed shirt. He was over the moon. Tonks was a little less pleased when I finally got to talk to her.
"That was a cheap shot, Ginny, using Teddy to get me over here."
"Would you have come if I hadn't?"
"Fair point. What do you want?"
"Just a card. Let us know you're doing okay. And if you're not, let us know that, too. I'll try to keep Harry from trying to save you, but if we know, we might be able to do something. Harry feels awful that he hasn't been able to be there for Teddy, and he really misses you."
"You know, I'll do that. Can't promise more than a card every once in awhile, but I'll do that much. I reckon it's time to stop hiding from my past, right?"
I next heard from Tonks four years later, when she and Teddy showed up at our doorstep. Because of the influx of children Teddy's age in Massachusetts, and the low numbers in Britain, Teddy and many of his contemporaries had been asked to attend Hogwarts, rather than the Salem Witches Institute. Tonks had come to ask if we wouldn't mind looking after Teddy whilst he was in Britain every year, as she still felt a bit uneasy being anywhere near Hogwarts Castle. Harry, of course, jumped at the chance to say yes, never mind his recent promotion to Head Auror, the recent birth of his first son, or the impending birth of his second son. I would have said yes regardless, but at that moment I was a little annoyed; more so at Tonks than Harry, but still annoyed.
"You didn't write." I said, after shooing Harry away to tell his godson what to expect at Hogwarts.
"I didn't know what to say," she replied. "After you left, things started looking up. My depression has been manageable, I've been dating again, I have a job. Things are good, and it all started that night."
"So why didn't you just say that?"
"What was I going to say: 'Dear Harry, thanks for letting your wife schtup me real good, because it seems to have broken me out of my funk. Love, Tonks?' Come on, even you realize how lame that sounds."
I laughed a little, then processed what she'd just said. "Harry doesn't know."
Tonks blushed, and covered her mouth.
"I'm sorry, I didn't say anything about it to Teddy, either, but -"
"No, it's fine, but he won't ever know. It would break him. You know how he is about family," I said, rubbing my swollen belly reflexively."
"If it helps," Tonks said, "you look really hot all sprogged-up like that."
I laughed. "No, that most certainly does not help, Miss Tonks. Now quit that."
"What's so funny?" Harry asked, as he and Teddy came back from their tour of Grimmauld Place.
"Oh, nothing," I said. "Tonks is just being silly. Did Harry teach you everything you need to know about Hogwarts?" I asked Teddy, changing the subject quickly. Teddy nodded.
"Good," I continued. "Tonks, why don't you stay here a couple of days while we get everything sorted out. We'll get him to Diagon Alley, have him pick up his school supplies-"
"No, I'd better head back," she said. "But he's in good hands."