Harry and Tonks discussion post-OotP.
Phineas: "'Take it away'? What sort of foolishness are you nattering on about now? I mean, what sort of author uses the phrase 'take it away' anyhow?"
OverKill: ::Brandishes a large container of paint thinner.:: "The sort of author who gets very irritated with rude portraits. Now do your job and you can go back to your little wall space."
Phineas: "Oh, all right! All characters which are not property of others are property of the author, OverKill. If the character name is recognizable, it most probably belongs to Joanne Kathleen Rowling. The vastly inferior plot developments, however, are completely OverKill's fault."
OverKill: "Thanks a heap!"
Phineas: "Any time!"
OverKill: (Mutters to himself) "Not if I have anything to say about it." (Speaking up) "Anyway... on with the show!"
The Quest For Independence
Summer. Usually, it is a time when children escape from the rigors of formal schooling and can celebrate the free time with their friends and families.
However, nothing ever went normally if your name is Harry James Potter. Not yet sixteen, Harry had already lost both parents to a murdering monster when he was only one year old. And just a week ago, he lost the only person he could consider as a father figure; also killed - indirectly - by the monster named Voldemort.
When he was arrived at Number 4 Privet Drive for the summer, the Dursleys quickly discovered that he was in no mood for their usual abus..., err... care. They quickly reached an unspoken agreement; he stays in his room and they leave him alone. The threats they had received from the members of the Order at the train station further insured their good behavior.
Unlike the rest of the teenagers his age, Harry Potter lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling, and remembering the last time he saw his godfather.
Only one pair was still battling, apparently unaware of the new arrival.
Harry saw Sirius duck Bellatrix's jet of red light: he was laughing at her.
'Come on, you can do better than that!' he yelled, his voice echoing around the cavernous room.
The second jet of light hit him squarely on the chest.
The laughter had not quite died from his face, but his eyes widened in shock.
Harry released Neville, though he was unaware of doing so. He was jumping down the steps again, pulling out his wand, as Dumbledore, too, turned towards the dais.
It seemed to take Sirius an age to fall: his body curved in a graceful arc as he sank backwards through the ragged veil hanging from the arch.
Harry saw the look of mingled fear and surprise on his godfather's wasted, once-handsome face as he fell through the ancient doorway and disappeared behind the veil, which fluttered for a moment as though in a high wind, then fell back into place.
Once Harry realized that his godfather was truly gone, Harry had blamed everyone that could conceivably be involved in the Ministry fiasco: himself, for failing to learn Occlumency and falling for Voldemort's trap; Snape, for deliberately failing to teach him appropriately; Dumbledore, for ignoring him the entire year and putting him in this position in the first place; Fudge, for being a greedy, self-serving idiot. But above all others, Bellatrix Lestrange - the Kinslayer. Without a doubt, he blamed the psychotic witch most of all.
It wasn't until he had left Hogwarts and reviewed his memories of the event that he noticed a discrepancy. At the time, he failed to notice that the curses Bellatrix used were not green or blue, as with the Unforgivable curses, but gave off a red light, which did not match any lethal spell that he knew. The only 'red' curses that he knew were far more common jinxes - namely, the elementary Reductor curse or a regular stunner. While a close-range 'Reducto' would fit with the woman's supposed /modus operandi/, the beam emitted was far too narrow to be the destructive energy wave of the Reductor curse.
'But why would she use such a mild curse as a stunner, when she could just as easily used the Killing Curse?' Harry wondered. It wasn't as if she was known for her compassion or dedication to preserving life.
While Harry couldn't explain Bellatrix's uncharacteristic leniency, he ultimately admitted that Bellatrix did not intend to kill Sirius; rather, she was just attempting to incapacitate him temporarily.
After about a week of moping around the confines of Privet Drive, Harry came to a second realization; he wasn't the only person that grieved the loss of Sirius. While he saw the irascible ex-convict as a replacement father figure, Remus "Moony" Lupin just lost his best friend. He was aware of that fact that Remus had very few "true" friends, either among the Order of the Phoenix or otherwise. While the fact that Remus was afflicted by Lycanthropy made no difference to him, Harry noticed that even members of the Order were wary around the middle-aged werewolf. No, there was no doubt that Remus would be taking the loss of Sirius just as hard as he himself was.
At that point, Harry decided that moping around was doing no one any good. He knew that Sirius would hate that he felt so miserable over his death, just as he knew that - realistically - it wasn't his fault. His depression certainly couldn't bring Sirius back. Harry decided that since he could not undo Sirius's sacrifice, he would accept it the best way he could; by being worthy of it.
It was then that Harry Potter finally accepted the destiny for which he was born. He WOULD vanquish Voldemort, somehow. His parents' and Sirius's sacrifices would require nothing less.
His first order of business was to check up on Remus. After digging around in his trunk for a piece of parchment and a quill, he sketched out a brief note to his former-professor-turned-friend.
I would ask how you are doing, but that answer seems to be rather obvious.
I know that you loved Sirius just as much as I did, and I recognize that his passing is even more difficult for you than for me. While I only knew him two short years, you were friends with him for close to twenty years.
I wanted to thank you for what you did in the Death Chamber; keeping me from running through the veil, I mean. I know that I wasn't making it easy on you.
If you feel up to it, I would love to talk with you, whether we discuss Sirius or not.
Right as he was preparing to send the letter with Hedwig, he realized that Remus was not the only other person that was closely connected to Sirius and would keenly feel his passing; his cousin, Nymphadora Tonks, was undoubtedly mourning as well.
'I can't believe that I just forgot Tonks like that!' he reproached himself silently. 'Of course, she would be affected badly!' He quickly wrote another note similar to Remus's and invited Tonks to visit him whenever she felt like it.
After sending both letters off with Hedwig, Harry pulled out every book he had on Defense against the Dark Arts and began reviewing. He was determined to be as competent a dueler as possible when he was inevitably drawn into the next fight for his life. Finally, after 2 a.m., Harry stopped studying for the day and drifted into an uneasy sleep.
He reached the top of the hill and saw the castle in its entirety. It looked exactly like Hogwarts, only brand-new instead of weathered and battered by over a thousand years of existence. Children were enjoying the beautiful day outside; either flying on brooms, chasing each other across the grounds, or lounging around the lake and playing with the squid. He and his companion, a tall, well-built man with red hair and blue eyes, shared a laugh as the squid managed to use one of its tentacles to soak a few of the smaller children that had strayed too close to the lake's edge.
The scene changed, and Harry found himself in what appeared to be an arena. Opposite him, the same red-haired man was holding a great broadsword while explaining a technique to several youths gathered around the arena's boundary. After finishing his explanation, the man raised his sword in challenge. Harry summoned his polished silver staff from its resting place against the wall and snatched it from the air as it flew towards him. While it had the appearance of be composed of silver, the staff could accept blows that would shatter even iron. After raising the staff to an en-gourde position, Harry and the bowed to each other. A few seconds went by and his opponent, finally losing his patience, charged forward. Harry spun his staff, deflecting the sword stroke and catching his opponent behind the heels with the same maneuver. Applying sufficient force, Harry pulled his opponent's feet out from under him and had the staff at his throat before the man could recover. After a rueful chuckle from the redhead on the ground, Harry offered the man a hand up amidst the cheering from the crowd.
Yet again, the scenery vanished. This time, Harry found himself in front of a newer-looking great hall, addressing both the returning students and the new arrivals.
"... and for those of you who prefer to analyze a situation first rather than just rushing into it - yes, this means you, Godric - you will be more than welcome in my House. We also pride ourselves on..."
He awoke to Uncle Vernon's bellowing something about pink leaks. 'Pink leaks? He must have finally cracked...' At this point, Harry's mind re-engaged. 'Oh, pink-haired freaks! It must be Tonks. I wonder what she did...' Shaking his head, he decided that he would rather not know.
Making his way downstairs, he quickly dismissed his bizarre dreams as the result of working too hard. He could find no other explanation for why he would dream of being any of the founders, much less who he deduced to be Salazar Slytherin. Pushing such thoughts out of his head, he reached the bottom step and had to bite his hand to keep from laughing out loud. It was indeed Tonks. Within ten feet of the door, she somehow managed to knock over and/or break the hall tree, hat rack, two vases, and the grandfather clock, in addition to her customary umbrella stand. Upon arriving at the scene, Harry observed his Aunt Petunia wringing her hands into her skirt, his Uncle Vernon yelling at the top of his lungs while coloring his face a deep purple, and his cousin Dudley staring at the cause of the commotion with his jaw dropped. Whether his reaction was due to the wanton destruction of the living room or the rather attractive young woman doing the massive remodeling, Harry was not sure. And in the center of the mess - stammering apologies while looking more miserable than Harry had ever seen her - was Nymphadora Tonks, Auror, Metamorphamagus, and member of the Order of the Phoenix.
Shaking his head, Harry finished descending the stairs and attempted to resolve the catastrophe. Upon reaching the bottom step, he drew the attention of the room's other occupants. Vernon began to bellow, "BOY! WE'RE NOT TO BE DISTUR..."
Raising his hand, Harry interrupted, "Uncle Vernon, someone might overhear you." 'In France,' Harry added to himself. "This is Tonks. She is not here to hurt or chastise you. She might be a bit clumsy at times," Tonks snorted ruefully, "but she can fix everything. Tonks, if you would...?" Harry made a sweeping gesture at the broken furnishings. A few 'reparo's later and the Dursley's living room was once again in pristine condition.
"Thank you, Tonks. Now, she is just here to talk with me. I'll just take her to my room." Catching the Dursleys eyeing all of their fragile positions lying between Tonks's current location and Harry's door, he added, "She'll be very careful. Right, Tonks?" At her nod, he took her hand and led her to his room.
Once they were safely in Harry's room with the door closed, Harry turned to his visitor only to find Tonks fighting back tears. Inwardly cursing whatever deity seemed to prefer putting him in enclosed areas with crying females, Harry attempted to calm the young Auror by saying, "its okay, Tonks. It's not anything against you; my relatives just doesn't... relate to the magical world very well." Seeing that this had no noticeable impact on the upset witch, Harry tried again, "I just generally ignore anything they say. Their insults just aren't worth getting upset over."
"It's not them! Things are just... difficult right now," Tonks got out. "Don't worry about me. I'll be okay in a couple of minutes."
Deeply wishing that his innate drive to help others in ANY circumstance would just take the day off, Harry replied, "Tonks, maybe if you just talk to someone, it won't appear to be so bad."
"I don't want to unload on you, Harry," she answered. "You have enough problems of your own; you don't need mine, too."
"C'mon, Tonks, you're my friend. I WANT to help you," Harry assured. "Now, what has my favorite Auror so torn up over?"
At this, Tonks burst into tears. Uncomfortable at being alone with yet another crying female - especially after the Cho incident - Harry awkwardly patted her on the back. Much to Harry's distress, this was apparently enough motivation for Tonks to latch herself onto him. After getting a death grip on his shirt, she proceeded to sob into his chest. Nervously wrapping his arms around her shoulders, he just held her close while rubbing her back, all the while hoping that he wouldn't get hexed for this later.
After a few minutes had passed and Tonks's sobs slowed to a stop, she released him and stepped away. Oddly enough, she refused to meet his gaze, instead looking around his room before seating herself on his bed and staring at her feet.
Harry, thinking that she was still concerned about the Dursleys' possessions, attempted to console her, "Tonks, don't worry about my relatives' stuff. They tend to overreact a lot, especially if it's about magic. I know you didn't mean to break anything."
'Apparently'/, Harry mused, 'that was the wrong thing to say.'/ As soon as the words left his mouth, Tonks broke into a fresh storm of weeping. Mentally kicking himself, he moved towards the bed and attempted to calm her down again. Operating entirely on instinct, Harry hugged her and pulled her head onto his shoulder. He then whispered into her ear, "its okay, Tonks. You're okay. Just tell me what's bothering you."
Tonks bawled out, "I'm such a klutz, and everybody hates me!" Not knowing how to respond to her first comment, Harry told her, "Nobody hates you, Tonks."
"Yes, they do! Everywhere I go, people guard anything of theirs that is remotely breakable, and then wait to see what I trip over first. I've even caught some people betting over how many times I'll fall before I can leave the room! Like it's some game! Even the Order thinks that it's funny! The only jokes that are more popular are Snape's greasy hair and Dumbledore's lemon drop fetish. And now, Fudge has fired me for 'potential endangerment of Ministry sanctioned operations and personnel'. He even dragged out my failures in 'Stealth and Tracking' from Auror training!" After she finished speaking, she all but collapsed onto Harry again.
Not sure exactly where to began, Harry tried to go in the order that Tonks listed. "I'm sure that nobody is treating your falling like a game, Tonks," Harry replied gently, "and they don't hate you. I most certainly like and respect you. A lot." Thinking that that last comment might not have come out correctly when he saw Tonks blush slightly, he hurried on. "As for Fudge, he's an idiot. You and I both know that. What reason would he have to suddenly decide to fire you, anyway?"
"In reality, it was because I openly sided with both you and Dumbledore. Since Fudge couldn't get rid of Kingsley or myself for that reason, he used my poor test scores to fire me. He couldn't find a good enough excuse to get rid of Shack, though, so he just demoted him. I think that Fudge cited something about a 'conflict of interests with his personal life and professional responsibilities' or some such rubbish."
"Well, what are you going to do now? Work for the Order full-time?" Harry asked.
"Well," Tonks replied, "I'll definitely help out where I can, but the Order needs every resource it can get to function, so everyone volunteers instead of getting paid for their services. I'll have to find something soon, though, or I'll get kicked out of my flat. An Auror on my pay grade isn't exactly independently wealthy, you know."
"Hey! I have an idea," Harry exclaimed. "I need to study as much Defensive and Offensive magic as I can this summer. Why don't I hire you as a personal tutor? You know, to show me the basic training that you had to go through to be an Auror? I can match whatever the Ministry was paying you and you can stay either at your flat or move in here."
"Do you know how difficult Auror training can be? And why do you need to study such advanced magic, anyhow? You shouldn't be on the front lines any time soon," Tonks questioned.
"Tonks," Harry replied patiently, "all false modesty aside, how many Aurors-in-training can single-handedly duel Voldemort and live? Or kill a basilisk with only a sword? Or survive a horde of Acromantulas, or drive off a hundred dementors with a single Patronus, or even anything like that?"
"You definitely have survived some serious scrapes, I'll give you that. But why do you want to fight so badly? You should know more than most how awful You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters can be," Tonks stated.
"Yes, I know how bad Voldemort-" Tonks shivered "-can be, but I have to know all that I can, because I will fight. Were you told what the prophecy in the Department of Mysteries said?" Harry queried.
"No. Dumbledore just told us that it involved you, and that You-Know-Who-" Harry frowned at the her use of that euphemism "-wanted it very badly. Why?" Tonks asked.
"Do you know Occlumency?" Harry questioned. "This is one of the biggest secrets that our side has. Before I tell you, I have to know that the information will stay safe."
"I can understand that," Tonks replied. "To answer your question; yes, all Auror trainees must be able to block off a moderately-gifted legimens before we can graduate."
"Okay," Harry replied, "to make a long story short, the prophecy predicted that this war will ultimately result in Voldemort and me facing each other. At least one of us isn't going to survive. Personally, I want to do everything I can to make sure that Tommy-boy is the one kicking the bucket."
"Oh, Harry," Tonks cried, "surely it didn't mean you! Are you sure that it can't be anyone else?"
"It could have been, until he 'marked me as his equal'," Harry replied while pointing to his scar. "No, Tonks, it is definitely up to the two of us in the end."
"Of course, I'll help you! I'll do everything I can to make sure that you survive Vol... Voldemort!" Harry smiled at Tonks's use of the 'dreaded' name. "You don't have to pay me for it."
"I know I don't have to; I want to. At least let me pay for your room and board," Harry compromised. "Okay," Tonks reluctantly agreed. "But Auror training can last for years. To make any real progress, we would have to work almost all day-every day for the rest of the summer. It would make it easier on the both of us if I just roomed here. Are you sure that you'll be okay with me living with you?"
"Yes, Tonks, I wouldn't have offered if I didn't mean it." Dropping his voice to a mutter, he added, "After all, I'd be a nutter to refuse such a beautiful roommate..." Tonks apparently overheard him, since her whole face blushed at hearing that last comment, the red racing down past her rather expansive neckline. Pulling his eyes back onto Tonks face quickly, Harry decided to see what he could do about making her this color more often.
Attempting to retain at least some of her dignity, Tonks fired back, "to start off, I can charm your wand if you'd like." At Harry's widened eyes, Tonks burst out laughing. "Get your mind out of the gutter, Potter! I meant removing the Underage Tracking charm from your wooden wand! You know, so we can practice spells?"
Recovering from Tonks's double entendre, Harry stammered, "Uhm... yeah... here it is." Reaching into his back pocket, he retrieved his Holly wand and passed it to Tonks, who pointed her own wand at it and muttered an incantation. An aura of blue light emanated from his wand for a few moments before fading away to nothingness. Tonks handed it back to him with a satisfied, "Here you go! You know? You really should loosen up a little. You are far too easily baited." Not willing to let her get away with her last comment, Harry screwed up the famed Gryffindor courage and replied, "You know, Tonks, whenever you want to handle my wand, all you have to do is ask."
Smiling in reply, Tonks answered, "Not too bad for a first attempt... You'll get better with practice. Careful there, Cutie, I may just take you up on that someday. Now, if I'm going to stay here, we're going to need some more space, and I need to get my stuff from my flat. Can you start the necessary charms here while I go get my junk?"
"Sure," Harry answered, "take your time." With another smile and an audible pop, she was gone. "Okay..." Harry muttered to himself. "First things first; let's make this place a little bigger." After racking his brain for an appropriate spell, he finally recalled one. "Aucto Spatium," he intoned, while using his wand to indicate the room's boundary. Once he closed the drawn figure, the room's walls separated quickly, resulting in at least five times as much space as before.
Satisfied with the results, he moved his attention to the meager closet space. A simple 'Adaugeo Cella' broadened the space to accommodate Tonks's belongings. Finally, Harry fixed the sleeping arrangements. Not wishing to witness Tonks's hexing ability firsthand, Harry transfigured his old mattress and boxsprings into a queen-sized bed and duplicated it to allow Tonks her own bed with the compound charm 'Amplifico Cubile Absum Speculum'.
An hour or so later, Tonks returned with a pair of trunks and was impressed with Harry's progress. After complimenting him on his well-cast room enlargement spell - she still had difficulty with it - Harry helped her unpack and get settled in her new quarters. Once they were done, Tonks showed Harry some of the more interesting six- and seventh-year spells that he would soon be taught at Hogwarts until it was time for bed. After working out the dynamics of preparing for sleep with a member of the opposite sex in the room, they both wished the other a good night and quickly went to sleep, exhausted from their efforts.
As was normal for Harry, however, sleep did not equate to rest. Unlike the peaceful dreams of the previous night, however, this time he was pulled into Voldemort's mind.
Harry, feeling more enraged than he could ever remember, hurled the thrice-damned object against the wall. He had been trying to unlock this powerful device for over a week now, ever since he 'liberated' what was purported to be a weapon crafted by his distinguished ancestor, Salazar Slytherin. The Ministry's archives had never said where the device came from; indeed, it had no documentation whatsoever, unlike the other artifacts scattered throughout the high-security vault hidden deep within the Department of Mysteries. Harry could easily sense the great power contained within, but no matter what he tried, the opaque orb refused to accept him as its new master. He had heard rumors that the Great Slytherin himself had left behind some great artifact - containing his full power, some believed. Others thought that the Orb of Slytherin was a focus for some greater weapon, capable of destroying all who stood in his way. Regardless, if he could only find the key, he could finally destroy the muggle-loving old fool and the annoying boy-who-refused-to-bloody-well-die! Once they were both safely dead, his well-laid plans for world domination could finally be realized. Reaching the ends of his patience, he stormed from the room, leaving the orb lying in the corner. He needed to take a break. Perhaps torturing a few servants with 'questionable' loyalty would help him relax...
Tonks awoke to find Harry muttering under his breath. Thinking that he normally talked in his sleep, she was preparing to return to her own slumber when Harry started thrashing around in his bed, screaming like he was in some terrible pain. Tonks jumped out of bed and rushed over to Harry's bedside, finally realizing that he was suffering another vision from Him.
Grabbing Harry in a bear hug, Tonks rocked him back and forth while trying to get him to snap out of it. Something must have worked because Harry suddenly stopped jerking and opened his eyes. Breathing heavily, Harry tried to explain as much as he could remember from his vision. "Voldemort's really mad... he's trying to do something, but he can't... all I can remember is some silver ball. When he failed again, he used the Cruciatus on several Death Eaters... I think a few of them died." After he got the last sentence out, Harry fell silent, trying to not throw up from seeing what the ultimate pain curse can do to a person if cast for long enough.
Feeling distraught that someone as nice as Harry had to regularly suffer through fits like these - 'Alone!' she fumed - Tonks crooned in Harry's ear, "It's okay. You're safe now. Just go back to sleep. I'm not going anywhere." '...ever, if I can help it!' Tonks added silently to herself. 'He doesn't deserve to be isolated, or suffer this much from that monster! What is Dumbledore playing at? How can Harry still be so caring after living through all of this?'
Tonks continued to hold him, willing him to be able to sleep peacefully. A few minutes later, Harry finally succumbed to slumber, a small smile on his face. Tonks, not having the heart to release - and potentially wake - him, settled down on the bed and pulling Harry to lie next to her. Wrapping her arms around him more firmly, Tonks drifted off to sleep thinking that she would never let Harry undergo another one of these attacks without her.
Waking up to the sun in her eyes, Tonks felt warmth along her back. Looking over her shoulder, she was greeted with the sight of a still-sleeping Harry. Somehow during the night their positions were reversed, and Tonks found herself spooned up against Harry with his arms wrapped securely around her waist. Seeing him looking more content than she could ever remember, Tonks hated to wake him. However, they had a full day of training planned, and she knew that Harry would not want to miss it. Stretching from one of the most comfortable sleeps in her life, Tonks brushed up against something hard extended between her legs. Looking down, she discovered that Harry was gifted in something other than just complicated Transfiguration and Charm work. Deciding to not embarrass him after the difficult night he had - 'this time!' she promised herself with a smirk - Tonks turned around and shook Harry awake. "Harry, get up. It's past eight o'clock and we have a lot to do today."
Opening his eyes, Harry quickly noticed two things: one, he was holding the attractive metamorphamagus far closer than was considered platonically friendly, and two, from their proximity, Harry knew that Tonks could feel exactly how much he enjoyed her presence.
After doing an acceptable impression of a tomato, Harry jumped out of the bed and rapidly searched for a little less-revealing shirt or robe - 'hell, anything at this point!' Harry thought.
Quickly donning a bath robe from the closet and draping it loosely over himself, Harry turned back to see a very amused-looking Tonks. Hoping that he hadn't ruined whatever friendship between them, Harry started to apologize. "Tonks, I'm so sorry. I never-"
"Harry," Tonks interrupted, "its okay. Really. I appreciate the compliment. Now, get cleaned up so we can start your physical conditioning. I thought that a nice early-morning run to that park a couple of miles away would be a good warm up." Harry was so relieved that he hadn't ruined her opinion of him that he almost missed her parting comment as she ducked into the bathroom she had created the previous evening.
"Oh. Just so you know, Loverboy, the feeling is completely mutual."
As Tonks shut the bathroom door, she saw the widest grin to date appear across the face of the Boy-Who-Lived.
After completing their morning rituals and exchanging some friendly banter, the duo left Number 4 Privet and began jogging towards the nearby park. Since their pace was not enough to exhaust the joggers and he saw no one nearby, Harry asked Tonks about his dream last night. "Tonks, do you have any idea why Voldemort would be spending so much time and work on a ball?"
"I'm not sure. The only thing that looks like that that I can think of is a memory orb. It's like a pensieve, but it is attuned to only one user, rather than anyone who wishes to use it. But I don't know why Vo... Voldemort would go to so much trouble for something like that..."
As they passed a set of tall bushes, Harry replied, "I don't know, either. The strange thing was that the 'orb' seemed so familiar - like I had seen it somewhere before. I just wish that we could find out why it's so important to Voldemort."
A voice called out from behind them, "I can answer that, Potter."