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R/T ficlet - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
R/T ficlet
Feeling in an R/T-ish mood again (something annoyed me today), but with no fresh ideas, I believe I'll do a ficlet tonight from part of one of the stories I'm working on (well, one I haven't started yet, but am going to do a mid-way scene on anyway). This is from "Registry." Fourth-year Tonks, in trouble for morphing into her friend Daffy's mother to speak to one of his teachers, has been hauled in front of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to run tests on her skills as a metamorphmagus. Her parents are understandably upset, but they lost, and had to leave while she stayed overnight. This picks up very early in the morning after a whole evening of tests.

Start:10:07



Tonks sat on the edge of the small camp bed in Mr. Diggory's office, her brain still feeling swimmy and strangely large from hours under veritaserum. Her face felt over-stretched and tired, though when she ran her hand over it, it didn't seem any different than it usually was when she first woke up.

It was still dark outside, even darker than when she'd finally fallen asleep. Then, the light from the full moon had been pouring through the window (Magical Maintenance let the building simulate the natural weather at night). Mr. Diggory had apologized about the office being uncomfortable, and had very quickly done a sound-blocking spell on the glass to keep her from being bothered. It was too late to find better lodgings, and Tonks had the idea that he didn't feel like seeing her parents again before he'd gotten a good night's sleep. "So you just stay here," he'd said, conjuring a camp bed with a fluffy mattress. "And don't go out. It's a full moon, and we do have some werewolves on the premises up top for tests."

Tonks had nodded vaguely, still floating in the detached world of veritaserum. They'd had to use it, they said, to make sure that she really was giving the tests her all, so they would know what she was capable of.

They'd taken a lot of notes, and Tonks was curious to read them. She knew she'd been able to change her hair, her skin, and her features to everything they'd asked, and after a little practice, she'd been able to modify her height. Try as she might, she hadn't been able to make herself a boy. She remembered saying that it might be because she hadn't seen much of how boys' parts looked, and everyone in the room had laughed in a friendly way. But all of that seemed to be at the far end of a telescope. She wasn't sure she could morph at all this morning.

Carefully, she stood up and went to the door. Mr. Diggory had a mirror on it, probably to comb his beard before meetings. She stared into it, and after a moment, it glowed back a bit, giving her enough light to make out her features. She concentrated as hard as she could on her nose.

It warped a bit, then settled back into its regular shape.

She concentrated harder, thinking of her friend Freddie Wizendale's beaky nose. It took a few seconds longer than usual, but she was very relieved to feel the familiar sense of squeezing, like kneading bread dough, and then her nose grew, sharpened, developed high-set, almost equine nostrils.

She sighed with relief, and relaxed the morph, letting her own nose come back. It was fun to morph, but it seemed freakish to leave herself that way. Hairstyles were one thing, but total feature overhaul? There was something frankly creepy about looking in a mirror and not seeing herself, and she would no more stay morphed than she would wear a mask all year round. Though she did enjoy masks, to be fair.

She made her way down to the office lavatory and cleaned herself up as well as she could. Her wand had been taken--she was underage and not in school--so she couldn't do much about her wrinkled robes. By the time she was done, the early morning crews were starting to arrive, and Magical Maintenance was setting the day's weather. At the Ministry, it would be a cool, gray dawn.

Tonks waved at a maid who was supervising a charmed mop. The woman looked at her with dull mistrust.

Oh, well.

"How do I get outside?" she asked.

The maid shrugged. "Take the lift down to level eight and go out the visitors' exit."

"Thank you."

"Wouldn't go if I were you. That's where they've got the werewolves."

"It's morning, isn't it?"

"Can't trust those creatures anytime."

Tonks frowned. She'd studied about werewolves last year in Defense Against the Dark Arts, and some of her classmates had said that. Mum and Dad had always told her that the only answer to it was "Bollocks," but it didn't seem like a very nice thing to say to complete stranger.

She slipped onto the lift instead. The maid would probably say the same about a metamorphmagus--can't trust those creatures. You don't know what they really are. Heaven knew, Tonks had heard that one before.

"Bollocks," she whispered to no one.

The lift let her out in the lobby, near the Fountain of Magical Brethren, and she followed the signs to the visitor's exit, a narrow lift that seemed to go up forever. A Muggle telephone was, for some reason, on one side of it.

"We hope you have enjoyed your stay at the Ministry of Magic," a voice said. "Please come back soon."

Then, the lift shot up. And up. And up.

Just when it seemed it would shoot right on up to the moon, it ground to a sudden stop, tossing Tonks off-balance and throwing her against the side of the booth. The doors sprang open, and she found herself on what looked like a run-down Muggle street. At the far end, she could see the shimmer of a strong magical barrier--certainly that couldn't be the normal state of things.

And it wasn't.

It was there for a reason.

Tonks turned to stretch, and she saw them--a row of small, cubicle cages, lined up in a row along the street. Around them, various measuring devices had been placed by people who were gone now. Drying clay tablets were marked with bite radii, and a box sat beside each cage, containing a few hairs of various colors. In each, a figure lay curled uncomfortably, most not stirring at all.

They were all human.

She walked down the row, horrified, sure she didn't belong here, but unable to leave. Most of the people were sleeping soundly, looking worn and often injured. Many were covered with bruises and cuts.

The was a sharp sound of indrawn breath.

Tonks turned. In the last cage, a man was moving to sit up, reaching carefully for a folded robe on the other side of the bars. As she watched, his shoulders tightened, and he winced again, his hand stopping well short of his goal.

She ran forward and picked up the robe, pushing it into the groping hand. "Here," she said. "I've got it."

"Thank you, I--"

The voice stopped, as if cut off with a knife, and the shoulders became rigid. The lines of the muscles were etched agaisnt one another, covered with scratches that disappeared up under the wavy, light brown hair...

Tonks felt her eyes widen.

The voice. The hair.

"Mr. Lupin?" she whispered.

He didn't answer.

"It's me, Dora Tonks."

"I know."

"Are you all right?"

"No. Please leave, Dora."

"But I--"

"Turn around for a moment, at least."

"All right."

She heard him shuffling around, putting on the robe, and she blushed when she realized that he must have been starkers in there when she'd first seen him. Glancing to either side, she realized that the others were as well. She closed her eyes. "I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't know."

"It's all right," he said. "You can turn around again."

"Is your wand someplace?" she asked. "I could get it for you. If you're... "

"Allowed?"

"Well... yes."

"They're done with me," he said, not looking at her. "They'd have sent a groundskeeper to let us out in an hour or so. My wand is with the sample case."

Tonks bent down and looked into the case, which contained a clay tablet like the others (the bite marks were deep and the radius fairly large), a handful of dark gray wolf hairs, and a few bits and pieces of other things that she didn't want to think about. His wand was resting at the hinge of the box, and she handed it through the bars of the cage to him.

He took it, still not looking at her, and remained seated, legs crossed, his shabby robe pooling in the dust around him. "I'm sorry, Dora," he said. "I should have told you. I won't blame you if you're angry."

"I'm not."

He glanced up briefly, then looked down again. "Why are you here?"

"Same as you. Tests. I've been on veritaserum all night. My face hurts. Though I'm guessing not as much as yours. You've a huge cut on your cheek."

"Do I?" He touched his face with some distaste, and wrinkled his nose at the feel of clotted blood. "Must have scratched myself. I must look frightful."

"Well, I don't think you should pose for photos today."

He looked up more steadily. "I am sorry. I should have told you."

"You still haven't. You're a werewolf, right?"

"Yes. I thought that was in the realm of the obvious by this point in the conversation." He pointed his wand at the lock on his cage and said "Alohamora." The door popped open, and he crawled out, pulling himself to his feet against the bars. Once this was complete, he looked at Tonks again, his face a strange mix of things. "I wish you hadn't seen me like this," he said. "I don't like it."

"I probably shouldn't have gone wandering. Mr. Diggory told me not to. I'm sorry. I should have listened. I didn't think it would be... " She looked along the row of cages and suddenly felt like crying. "I didn't think it would be like this. I don't want to see you like this. I don't want to see anyone like this."

A warm hand fell on her shoulder. "It's the way the world is," Mr. Lupin said. "It could be worse. The take hair, tooth marks, so on. So they'll know if we attack anyone."

"It's not just hair and teeth."

"No. There are other things. Taken for Potions. In case we need to be... controlled."

Dora wrinkled her nose, not wanting to think about this.

"What on Earth were they testing you for?"

She shrugged. It seemed unimportant somehow. "They were just seeing what I could do. If they had to worry about me impersonating people and robbing Gringotts and whatnot. Mum wasn't very happy."

"I imagine not."

"I sort of understand. It's like registering animagi. If we didn't know who they were, they could get anywhere."

Mr. Lupin smiled for some private reason, and nodded. "I believe that's the rationale." He picked up the sample box and closed it. "I just need to bring this back to the Ministry before I leave."

"Should we let the others out?"

"They're still sleeping. Trust me, they're tired."

"I won't look when we go through."

"They'll appreciate that."

She looked curiously at the box. "So... your hair is gray when you're a wolf?"

"It's getting that way when I'm not."

She smiled. "Wonder if it would make a good wand," she tried.

"I think it might be a bit temperamental."

"Was it all right to say that?"

"It's all right for you to say anything."

"I'm hungry," she said when the passed the last of the cages and reached the telephone box that led into the Ministry. "Mum and Dad aren't coming for me for two more hours. Do you know anywhere good to eat?"

"You don't have to stay with me, Dora. I can find my way around, and I don't blame you if you don't care to--"

"Don't be dense," she said, not bothering to pretend not to understand him.

He stood quietly beside her for awhile, then said, "Thank you."



End 11:25. Almost twenty minutes over, but I did take a brief break.

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8 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: April 1st, 2004 08:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is lovely. There are so many theories on the treatment of werewolves... Tonks must be quite young in it. Did you say?

Anyway, also wanted to drop a note that I've friended you. Reciprocation isn't necessary, but I thought you'd like to know.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 1st, 2004 08:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you.

And I just edited into the intro part; she's a fourth year here, fourteen years old.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 1st, 2004 08:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and btw, I'll friend anyone with an "On Fairy Stories" icon! I'm actually going to do an entry on that exact quote sometime soon.
mafdet From: mafdet Date: April 1st, 2004 09:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just in the present - I'd like to see Tonks say "bollocks" to Fudge some time. Loudly.

Loved the story, as I love all your R/T stories.
calico321 From: calico321 Date: April 2nd, 2004 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)
That was wonderful! You have such an imagination. I'd never think of testing either one of them, but your story seems so...right!
gehayi From: gehayi Date: April 2nd, 2004 02:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I truly hate the Ministry of Magic. Treating people like things is just wrong.

I'm so glad Tonks is the sensible and unprejudiced sort. Bless her.
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: September 19th, 2004 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I never thought of them doing the same to Metamorphmaguses - but you know, I bet they do. Perhaps there's even a reason why they're rare - do you suppose everyone admits to being one?

Just a little nitpick; if Tonks is only fourteen, isn't she a little young to have a crush on Remus? (I know you said this was R/T, which I *do* ship).
From: amethystbeloved Date: February 9th, 2009 03:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad that Andromeda and Ted raised Tonks the way that she is. There's too much prejudice against werewolves as it is. Remus' secret had to come out sooner or later, and it was wonderful to see Tonks stand by her man despite the revelation that her beloved Latin teacher and friend turns into a beast once a month. Mr. Lupin's private smile to the mentioning of registered animagi was golden.
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