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And a Tonks fic, just for the heck of it: Conflict of Interest - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
And a Tonks fic, just for the heck of it: Conflict of Interest
I think I'm going to nix the idea of doing a long, time-shifting fic involving Tonks and her memories of Cedric as they led her to join the Order. I keep hacking away at it and it keeps hacking back at me. I've got a lot of pieces of it in my head, but they don't come together right, so I keep freezing up. So I think I'll just write the pieces and cobble them together at some later date if they start to look like they'll fit.

So, here we are. A couple of days after the end of the Triwizard Tournament.




It was a run-down shack at the base of a hill in the Orkneys these days, with grass and wildflowers growing up between the wooden slats of the porch, one more anonymous home to join the line of them in which Tonks had visited Remus Lupin over the years.

There had been the moldy basement room with a crumbling floor just off Knockturn Alley, where Sirius had brought her once when she was six; she remembered that one because she had twisted her ankle painfully on the ragged dip where groundwater was rotting out the foundation, and Remus (then known as Mr. Lupin, of course) had picked her up with great horror and apologized, his face horribly red. There had been Hogsmeade shack for awhile, then--the best place, if the smallest--his Spartan quarters at the Squib school in Wales. She'd sent him a drawing there, and it had faithfully gone up in every place she'd visited him since. Another Diagon Alley flat. A Muggle basement. A dilapidated house in the highlands. A shed on the moors that she rather strongly suspected he wasn't occupying legally--he'd certainly been in a hurry to shoo them all out when they'd come. She hadn't ever visited him at his Hogwarts quarters, which she regretted; she rather believed they would have been lovely.

And now, here.

As shabby accomodations went, she supposed this could have been a good deal worse, though it probably got horribly cold in the winter. The air was clear and smelled of the sea, and the wildflowers in the field that led down to the cliffs and the sea were a riot of color. The grass made a pleasant sort of sighing sound as the wind cut across it.

She sat down on the steps, the thin scroll Kingsley had given her held loosely in one hand. She'd hoped Remus would be here as soon as she came--she'd never needed more desperately to speak to him than she did at the moment--but there'd been no answer when she'd knocked, no response when she'd called back up the hill. She unrolled the scroll again, though she didn't need to. She knew the whole entry well enough by now.

The last thing she'd expected this morning, when she'd asked Kingsley why the Ministry wasn't accepting Harry Potter's account of Cedric Diggory's death, had been a year-old statement from Remus, or an amazing story about Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew.

So much for simple questions.

She rolled the scroll back up and tapped it against her thigh nervously, then got up and looked in the window of the shack. The furniture was old and nondescript, obviously part of the rental. From the wall above the fireplace, she could see her childhood drawing flashing its colors toward her. A trunk, open and mostly packed, was standing in the middle of the floor. It looked like Remus was getting ready to move on again.

She turned.

And nearly jumped out of her skin.

The black dog had come out of nowhere, walking silently as she'd examined Remus's house, sitting at the base of the stairs where she'd been and looking at her solemnly. She looked down at the scroll, then over at the dog.

It was all true.

She saw him moving to stand up just a moment before it would have been too late, and held up her hand. "No," she said. "Stay. Be a good dog."

He cocked his head at her, but settled back down onto his haunches.

She took a tentative step forward--the dog didn't react to it--then sat down again. She was in easy reach of his great jaws, but she wasn't afraid.

There was no reason that she should have been so sure. Even if Sirius Black were an animagus, if that part of the story were true, it didn't mean he was harmless. He was wanted for mass murder, and no one doubted that he had the power to do it.

But the eyes. Those eyes.

It was all true.

"Glad to see Remus has finally got himself a pet to talk to," she said. "I always told him he should."

The dog rolled its eyes.

"I'm a friend of his. My name's Tonks." She wrinkled her nose. "Nymphadora Tonks. Remus calls me Dora. No one calls me Nymphadora except my mum."

The dog leaned forward eagerly, prodding the air with his nose in an expression that very clearly said, Do go on.

"My mum's all right. Busy all the time. A Healer, you know." Tonks reached out and scratched the thick ruff of black fur around the dog's neck. "Me, I'm an Auror. I like it, most of the time, but you see, there are times it would be awfully... inconvenient. My job is to catch people, and like Kingsley said this morning, it's not my job to decide whether or not they're guilty. Of course, I'm not sure Kingsley believes that entirely, but he's higher up than I am, so he has more room for great, dramatic conflicts of interest. So even if I might believe they're not... I'd have to take them in and let the Wizengamot decide. It's my job."

The dog pulled back and looked at her warily.

"Of course, you have nothing to worry about. A pretty dog like you. This scroll here says that there's a dog involved in this business--and a rat--but I'm sure you're just a very good dog, and if you were my cousin Sirius, which of course you're not, you'd be clever enough not to transform anyway. The description of the dog is rather vague. It could be anyone And as far as I know, only Kingsley has actually read it until now. And possibly Fudge. Fudge doesn't believe it, and Kingsley... I think Kingsley would rather keep it to himself and not have Aurors chasing down every big dog they see, if you follow."

She felt something warm and heavy on her knee, and looked down to see the dog's head resting there. She scratched between his ears.

"Now, Kingsley's a good sort," she said. "And if you happen to know any dogs that might be on the run, you might bark a bit in their direction about him. I think he's about ready to listen, and he's in charge of the whole search, you know. And a dog on the run might do well to find him alone and see if something couldn't be done. Or, you know, if he knows someone who might have a dab of influence."

The dog licked her hand.

She laughed. "I'm a first year Auror. I don't have any influence at all. I couldn't influence my quill to take dictation."

He hung his head, and Tonks suddenly felt like crying for no reason she could name. Instead, she put her arms around the dog's neck and kissed its fur.

"It's a shame, really," she said. "I mean, that you can't be my cousin. I missed him when he went away. I missed the way he laughed. I dreamed about him a lot. Sometimes scary dreams, but sometimes... you know. Just nice days, when it all turned out to be a great mistake, and everyone was happy."

There was a soft, muffled bark, then the sound of a dry grass crunching underfoot to her right. She looked up. Remus Lupin was standing casually at the edge of the property, his wand held loosely in his hand, his eyes narrowed in frustration.

"Dora," he said. "I see you've met the dog."

"'Lo, Remus," she said.

"He's a good sort of creature, you know. I wouldn't want anything more to happen to him. He's had a bit of a rough ride."

"Well, luckily I'm an Auror, not a dog-catcher."

He frowned. "Dora, listen... I don't know what you might have heard--"

"I've heard what you said," she said, handing him the scroll that contained his statement. "And I was just having a talk with your friend here about possibly trotting over to Kingsley Shacklebolt, who really is a fair sort of person."

Remus lowered his wand and put it away, then sat down beside her on the steps. "I don't know what to do, Dora. The statement was all I could give, and they didn't believe it. I didn't tell you because I knew how hard you'd worked to get your job and you didn't need a conflict of interest."

"Let me worry about the conflict of interest. I wondered where you'd been all year. We missed you at Christmas."

"I didn't like the thought of spending all day lying to you."

She nodded and scratched the dog's ears absently. "It's true about Mr. Pettigrew as well?" she asked.

Remus nodded. "I'm sorry. I know how fond you were of Peter, but it's true."

Tonks felt curiously numb about this. She'd been a small child when it had all happened, but she'd always taken comfort in soft-edged memories of Peter Pettigrew telling her stories. It had been very easy to make him smile, and she remembered telling jokes and once standing on her head just to see that look on his face, like she was the most entertaining thing in all the world. But all of that was on the wrong end of a telescope, barely real to her anymore. She slipped one arm around Remus's waist, keeping the other around the dog's neck, and sighed deeply. "Then we're all chasing an innocent man."

"Who never had a trial--"

"But if we could just arrange a trial, so he could be found innocent..."

"--and about whom no exonerating evidence will be accepted."

Tonks looked up at the sky, which was a brilliant, mind-blowing blue. "Damn," she said.

Remus shifted and put his hands on her shoulders, turning her to face him. "Dora, listen to me," he said. "There are things happening in the world right now. Dangerous things. The Ministry is willfully closing its eyes to them, and it will punish anyone who tries to open them."

"They're also doing good work. Remus, I do catch people who are dangerous. Most of them are just nutters, but a nutter with a wand and no compunctions about the rules is a dangerous person. I keep people safe."

"Then keep your cousin safe," Remus said.

"I can't do it by myself!" Tonks said. "Do you understand that? I'm not directly involved with the case, because everyone knows I'm his cousin. Kingsley is the only person who could really keep him safe."

"You want me to go to the person heading up the search?"

"No." Tonks took a deep breath. "I'll do it."

"Maybe we should all go."

Tonks jumped again, and Remus threw his hands up in frustration. The dog was gone. A gaunt, wasted man with long, matted black hair was sitting on the ground by the porch, his legs crossed. He smiled hopefully. "Sorry, Dora. Sounds like you've already got the conflict of interest."

"Brilliant," Remus said. "She has to arrest you now."

"Not unless she decides to."

"Dora?"

She looked at her cousin, sitting before her, making himself totally vulnerable to her decision. He could try to run for it, but even a first year Auror could catch someone starting from this close, and given plenty of lead time. A decent Defense O.W.L. student probably could.

"Do you trust me?" she asked.

Sirius shrugged, then looked at Remus. "Do we trust her?"

"I trust her."

"Good, so do I. If I can't trust someone I saw being born, I'm in worse trouble than I thought."

Tonks nodded. "All right, then," she said. "Transform back. We're going to London to talk to my boss."

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Comments
butterflysteve From: butterflysteve Date: February 27th, 2005 10:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I really liked that and I was so overjoyed by your correct usage of nutter and nutters that I nearly cried.
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: February 27th, 2005 12:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awwww. Tonks goodness, and sweet!dog!Sirius.

I'm not good with concrit for you, have you noticed?
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 27th, 2005 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aww! So adorable.

Sorry I haven't been commenting on your LJ lately, it seems that for some reason, whenever I go to LJ goes weird or I have to go somewhere. Odd.
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: February 27th, 2005 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd never thought to think about how the meeting between Sirius and Tonks went. Marvellous!
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: February 27th, 2005 04:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the way Tonks talks to keep Sirius from transforming. I hadn't thought much about the conflict of interest, and I think it was clever of her (and you) to try to find a way around it.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: February 27th, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was definately the best Sirius-Tonks meeting I've seen. Tonks wasn't clueless! Yay for Tonks!
maple_clef From: maple_clef Date: February 27th, 2005 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I liked this very much. I think you're one of the first to write this reunion to my satisfaction! Looking forward to future snippets :-)
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 27th, 2005 06:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like. A lot. :)
musamea From: musamea Date: February 27th, 2005 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful. I really liked Tonks's memories of all the places Lupin has lived, and Sirius being contrary about transforming, and how you wrote Lupin, and... well, all of it, really. *G*
castaliae From: castaliae Date: February 28th, 2005 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really liked this. I had always wondered how Tonks got involved and you gave a very plausible picture. I especially enjoyed the monologues you gave to her to the dog. Thanks.
sep12 From: sep12 Date: March 1st, 2005 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Loved it. Wonderful as usual Fern.

Are you going to do a follow-up to this, with Remus and Tonks talking to Kingsley? I would like to get his perspective on the whole shebang.

I'm a genius too!
English Genius
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You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

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verdenia From: verdenia Date: May 23rd, 2006 09:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Tonks finds Padfoot

AWww! This was wonderful! Darling, and...guh. I loved it. Great stuff!
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