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Another partial fic - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Another partial fic
Here's a story that I've been working on for ages. It's meant to go back and forth in time (a la Stephen King's It), but I only have the first "cut" done. Grrr. I like these scenes, though, so I thought I'd post them. Tonks, Kingsley, Cedric.

I know, I'm being lazy, not posting something new. The point of this is that I think later, I'll pick up the next present-day sequence and see if I can play it out like I did with the Ted/Andromeda fic I posted earlier, and it wouldn't make a lot of sense without the opening context.


The Gray-Eyed Boy

June 26, 1995.

Tonks barely noticed how quiet it was when she Apparated into the Ministry. She'd worked the night shift on the twenty-fourth--her third in a row--and it had been the busiest night so far in her year as an Auror. She'd spent all of yesterday sleeping, but she felt like she could sleep for another whole day.

"It's mainly clean-up work we do," Kingsley Shacklebolt had said when he hired her. "A few stragglers from the time of You-Know-Who. Mad as hatters, most of them."

Well, they were mad as hatters, all right. No doubts there after the other night. Tonks and her team had arrested three different wizards who were all but frothing at their mouths. One had been dancing naked, smeared with blood from a dog he'd killed. When he came up from her Stunning Spell, he'd started giggling and sing-songing, "He is back, he is back, he is back..." He'd been the last of her arrests, and she'd had a headache by then, so she'd hit him with a Silencing Charm. She'd gone home to sleep after that.

She groaned as she boarded the elevator, not noticing that the crush of people was considerably smaller and grimmer than usual, thinking only of the pile of paperwork that waited for her. She meant to read the Daily Prophet to find out who had won the Triwizard Tournament--it would be grand for a Hufflepuff to get a bit of a shine for once, and last she knew, there was a healthy chance of it, and besides, she had been fond of Cedric back at Hogwarts--but it would have to wait until lunch at least.

The doors rattled open on the fourth floor (the Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, not a place that Tonks had fond thoughts and memories of for the most part), and many people got out. One old man with a scraggly gray beard got on listlessly, carrying a cardboard crate of his belongings. He didn't turn around to face the door, and instead simply kept looking in Tonks's direction, not really seeing her. The lift started to go up again, and his pale face became confused. "I should have waited," he muttered. "Down. Meant to go down."

And then he started to cry.

His hands were full, so he couldn't very well cover his face, and the tears just slid into his box of office supplies. The few people remaining on the lift all turned away from him, squirming uncomfortably and watching the wall pass outside the gates.

Tonks had only been here a year, and she didn't know the man, which the rest of them probably did, but they weren't doing anything, and she couldn't stand to just stand here.

She reached out and touched his arm, leaving aside her own weariness. "Wotcher," she said. "Need a bit of a hand there?" She took the crate from him, expecting him to put his hands to his face and wipe away the tears.

He didn't--instead he just lowered his hands to his sides and kept crying. The gates opened to the third floor, and everyone else rushed out, even though Tonks knew perfectly well that at least two of them were Aurors who worked on the second floor with her. The lift started moving again.

When it finally opened on the second floor, Tonks led the man out, using magic to drag his box after them. She left it in the beside the lift and prodded the man forward and down the hall, past the closed doors, past the cubicles. Kingsley Shacklebolt stood up in his cubicle, looking alarmed.

"Amos?" he said.

The man Tonks was leading didn't look up at all.

The door at the edge of the Aurors' Headquarters opened and Arthur Weasley--a pleasant enough bloke who worked with Muggle artifacts--burst out of it, looking grave. He put an arm around the stranger's shoulders and said, "Amos, you didn't need to come in. I can take care of things for you here."

The man called Amos didn't answer. He just held his hands up rather helplessly. "I had my things," he said.

"They're down by the lift," Tonks told him. "I'll get them here for you."

The man nodded gratefully and let Arthur lead him into the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office, and Tonks went down to get his things.

Amos...

Tonks thought she had heard the name a lot recently, and she associated it with the Triwizard celebrations, though she wasn't sure why.

She stopped, her hand on the box, a cold spot spreading in her chest.

"Under control?" Kingsley asked, suddenly beside her.

"That wasn't Amos Diggory?" she asked. "Cedric's father?"

Kingsley sighed and nodded. "He shouldn't have come in. He's not ready."

The cold spot grew, and Tonks's mind began to recoil from it. It could be anything. A family friend. A lost pet. Maybe he'd been sacked. Maybe--

"Cedric?" she whispered, knowing the truth in the cold place already. "Is it Cedric?"

"You didn't read the papers?"

"No, not yet."

Kingsley picked up Amos Diggory's box of office supplies and photographs (sure enough, there was Cedric, smiling and waving), and led Tonks into his cubicle. It was her least favorite place in the Ministry, plastered as it was with pictures of her cousin Sirius Black, who had been her favorite person in the world when she was a child, some time before he betrayed one of his best friends and murdered another, along with a dozen Muggles. The sight of Sirius was painful, and Kingsley usually let her avoid his cubicle for that reason, but he seemed to have forgotten about it this morning.

Tonks looked at the braided rug on the floor, so that Sirius wouldn't stare back at her. "What happened?"

"Cedric Diggory is dead. Did you know him?"

Tonks nodded. "We were in Hufflepuff together for two years. He was--" She bit her lip. "He was just a little thing. I've been reading about him all year, whenever they can slip a word in edgewise about him anyway and..." She let it trail off, figuring that Kingsley wouldn't care much about her memories of a boy she didn't know all that well, especially with the boy's own father right in the other room.

He had a wonderful smile, though, she thought. Cute as a billywig's ear.

"I'm sorry," Kingsley said.

"It's all right. It was a long time ago. I really... it's all right."

His eyes narrowed. "No, I don't think it is."

"It's a shock. He was..." Her throat tightened, and the hot sting of tears assaulted her eyes. She glanced up at Kingsley and saw one of Sirius's pictures frowning at her from over his shoulder. Stupid as it was, she wasn't going to cry in front of Sirius. She swallowed it down and stood up, going to the window, where today's appointed weather was an appropriately dreary fog. "He was just a little thing," she said again. "The smallest in his year."

She slapped her hand against the glass, her mind filling up with old images, as vivid as the ones staring at her from the walls of Kingsley's cubicle, now reflecting against the glass around her in a ghostly mosaic. Cedric Diggory, gray eyes, wavy hair, soft voice... he'd been nervous after his Sorting. Nervous and ashamed. Of course. Hufflepuff House, for people who just didn't have the stuff to make it anywhere else.

Hufflepuff House, that knew secrets about getting along together that no one else did.

Tonks didn't know

Friday, September 1, 1989.

what the other Houses did on the first night back.

All she knew was that she often saw their firsties wandering around the next day still looking like they didn't know anyone. Firstie Slytherins usually looked jumpy, too.

Firstie Hufflepuffs never looked alone on their first full day at Hogwarts. It was a point of House pride.

"Oi, Tonks!"

She looked down from the banner she was hanging. Sanjiv McChattan had his charcoal stick poised above the sketch he'd been working on furiously for the last forty minutes, while the prefects took the firsties on an absurdly convoluted tour of the school to give everyone else time to set up. "Who do you need?" she asked.

"The Ollivander girl." He checked his list. "Berit. I need her nose."

Tonks thought back to the Sorting. Sanjiv had made sure she sat close enough to get a good look at each new member of the House. The Ollivander girl had been tall for eleven, and had looked a bit nonplused at being put in Hufflepuff (this was common; it was also usually cured by the end of the night). She'd had silvery eyes and a narrow, aristocratic nose. Tonks replicated it on her own face as well as she could. "I'm going to get you a camera next year, Sanjiv."

"What do I need with a camera when I have you? Orchideous!" Flowers burst from the tip of his wand, and he threw them dramatically in her direction.

She caught a few of them and tucked them in her hair, coarsening it a little to hold them better. The rest floated back down and landed on Sanjiv's head and shoulders as he bent down to sketch in Berit Ollivander's nose.

He had barely finished when Tonks heard Daffy Apcarne's voice outside the portrait hole: "And here we are! The password is... I forgot the password! Help me out here, first years!"

Tonks affixed the last corner of the banner, and quickly summoned Sanjiv's drawing to put in the center as the firsties called out, "Hullo, I'm home!" The portrait hole opened, and they spilled in, looking small and excited. Tonks jumped down from her perch (losing her balance at the bottom, but catching herself on a sofa before anyone noticed). Around the room, she could see the rest of Hufflepuff House coming off of whatever party tasks they'd been working on to greet the newcomers.

Freddie Wizendale, who had been made Head Girl last week, stood up on a footstool and clapped her hands. "Welcome to Hufflepuff!" she said. "You've met your prefects, now it's time to meet everyone else. Come inside, sit down!"

The firsties filed in behind the fifth and sixth year prefects, looking up curiously. The smallest, a gray-eyed boy with wavy brown hair (Diggory, Cedric, Tonks's memory supplied) looked at Sanjiv's picture for a long time before he sat down on the hearthstone. He looked up quietly at Tonks, and she smiled.

No reaction.

She shifted her face into what it had been when she was a firstie herself, and waggled her fingers in a wave.

Cedric Diggory's eyes widened comically.

Tonks aged her face up to sixteen again, and grinned at him. New firsties were her favorite part of September.

Daffy slipped away from the other prefects and climbed the ladder Tonks had been standing on. He sat on top of it, his sharp elbows planted on his skinny knees, looking like a badly bent stick figure. "First years," he said, "settle in. We won't keep you up for long--you've got classes tomorrow--but this is Hufflepuff. No one goes to bed a stranger. We're going to go around the room, and everyone can say..." He screwed up his face, thinking.

Tonks dropped down beside little Cedric, waiting for whatever Daffy's silly get-to-know-you question would be this year.

"Oh, I know," he said at last, grinning wickedly at Tonks. "Your full name and where you got it from. And the last dream you remember having." He pulled a gobstone from his pocket. "We'll toss it around until everyone has a turn."

Tonks stuck out her tongue.

Daffy waggled his fingers at her, then looked back at the firsties. "All right. My real name is Daffyd Bilius Apcarne, and my mum named me for a fellow named Daffyd Blaise, who was on Wizarding Wireless back in her day. I reckon Bilius is a family name, or at least I hope it is. The last dream I had was about the morph over there--we were on a date--"

"--only in dreams--" Tonks said.

"--and she kept changing into my mother."

"You're a disturbed young man," Freddie said.

"I know it well," Daffy said, tossing her the gobstone.

"Winifred Wizendale," she said. "Head girl, thank you very much."

There was some joking applause from the older Hufflepuffs, who had seen Freddie through less-than-Head-Girlish eras in the past.

Freddie curtsied. "Winifred's after my mum's aunt. Last dream... Hmmm. I was playing a violin in a house with eight sides. Professor Trelawney--you firsties haven't had the pleasure yet--was telling me what it all meant, and I kept telling her to just let me play." She tossed the gobstone to Sanjiv.

While Sanjiv launched into a long (and largely mythical) story about the long tradition of Scots-Indian names and a dream involving a dragon, a golden snidget, and an armadillo, Tonks got a good look at all the firsties, all of them listening with varying degrees of amusement or annoyance. Berit Ollivander was definitely in the "annoyed" column, her silvery eyes rolling with each embellishment. Sanjiv apparently noticed this as well, and focused himself on her, trying harder and harder for a laugh. Another girl (Hodgkins, Rainbow), was smiling in delight. From her side, she heard a muffled laugh, and she looked down at little Cedric. He was smiling, but he stifled it.

Tonks tapped his head. "What's going through?"

Cedric shrugged and gestured vaguely at Sanjiv. "He's... well, sort of funny."

"He's trying to be. You're allowed to laugh. We all laugh at Sanjiv at least five times a day."

"Oi! Pay attention!"

Tonks looked up in time to see the gobstone flying at her, and she grabbed it just before it hit her in the nose.

She stood up. "All right, this is the last time you're hearing it, but my name's Nymphadora Iliana Tonks, and I think I got it because my mum has a sadistic streak. People normally call me Tonks. Last dream?" The last dream she remembered had been last night. It was a recurring dream she had about her cousin Sirius, laughing as he fell into the dark in Azkaban, reaching out like a drowning man grasping for the surface of the ocean. But she didn't talk about Sirius. "I dreamed Daffy came up with a better question this year," she said, flashing Daffy her best smile.

"You always were hopeless at Divination," Sanjiv muttered.

Tonks tossed the gobstone lightly over to Cedric, who took it and looked into it very seriously, like it was a crystal ball. He stood up. "I'm Cedric Diggory," he said. "I haven't the faintest idea where my mum got the name; I think she just saw it in a book and liked it. I fell asleep on the train here and dreamed about playing Quidditch." He looked up and smiled sweetly. "We won."

Freddie cheered. "Train him up for next year, Sanj. I'll come back and watch us win one for once! Go, Cedric!"

He blushed, and tossed the gobstone to Rainbow Hodgkins, a Muggle-born who was accutely embarrassed about her name. She told a dream about a Muggle singer, and tossed the gobstone on.

When the rounds had been made, Daffy had everyone mix up and sit in a circle, then name the people on their right and left. Most people got it right. Hufflepuffs tended to be good with names.

After, Daffy and the other prefects herded everyone up to bed, the girls trudging up the zig-zagging stairs on the north side of the room, turning off at various levels, the boys doing the same on the south side. When she reached the third level, Tonks looked across at Daffy, who was, predictably, waiting. He pulled a face at her. She pulled one back, morphing grotesquely.

He threw his hands up in surrender. She took a bow.

The sixth year girls who shared Tonks's dormitory were all asleep within minutes of claiming their beds, but Tonks herself was still feeling happy and energized. She tried to sleep for awhile, then switched to writing a letter to her mum, then to reading her History of Magic textbook in the hopes of being put to sleep. None of it did much good. With a sigh, she resigned herself to being awake, and got out of bed.

She meant to slip out quietly, of course. But Lizzie Blandeshin hadn't moved her trunk quite yet, and there was a stack of parchments sitting precariously on top of it, and it crashed with a resounding series of thuds when Tonks accidentally walked straight into it in the dark.

"Tonks!" Lizzie groaned groggily from her bed.

"Sorry!"

Pillows came flying from four directions, and Tonks backed out of the room. The pillows thudded against the door as it closed.

It was good to be home.

She went carefully down the stairs--one of them squeaked--and came into the Common Room, thinking that maybe she could sleep on the couch by the fire, which often made her drowsy. But when she got there, she saw that it was already occupied.

Cedric Diggory jumped when he saw her, the Quidditch drawings on his pajamas all circling back to their goals. "Oh," he said. "I... I couldn't..."

"Take it easy there, Cedric." Tonks dropped down into an armchair. "I couldn't sleep either. I'm not a prefect. I won't make you go back up."

He nodded, biting his lip and looking around the Common Room, now filled with flickering flame shadows. "That thing you did with your face... are you a metamorphmagus?"

"Yes. Not many people know the word."

"My dad works in the Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. There's a Registry."

Some of Tonks's good mood faded. "I know the place."

"I passed the registry room once and asked about it. Dad said there was measuring and testing and so on, for werewolves and vampires and shapeshifters. Metamorphmagi, he said. I asked what he meant. That's how I know. I didn't think it seemed very nice."

"Well, they need to know what we can do. Wouldn't want me impersonating the Minister of Magic, now would we?" She smiled, and shifted her face into a rough facsimile of Cornelius Fudge. Or maybe his ugly twin sister. She'd never been able to successfully morph her face into a man's face; it was hardly an actual concern. "Anyway, that's not the most pleasant thing to talk about, is it?"

"No. I'm sorry."

"Don't be." She let her face fall back into its usual pattern. "So what's keeping you up? Are you nervous about classes? They're really all right, you know; you'll like them."

Cedric shook his head, then looked back up at the banner, where Sanjiv's drawing looked almost alive in the moving shadows. Tomorrow evening, he would call each of the subjects over to charm them for movement and speech. "I like it here," Cedric said.

"Good."

"No. I... My Dad wanted me to be in Gryffindor. Mum wanted Ravenclaw."

"Ah."

"I feel like I ought to be, you know, disappointed in myself. But I like it here."

Tonks nodded. "I see. My mum was in Gryffindor, and so was... well, someone I used to love a lot. My favorite Latin tutor, as well. Brave as lions, they are. And Ravenclaws are sharp. I'd reckon there are even some Slytherins that would be dead useful in a fight, when it got to a point where you don't care how you win."

"I didn't want to be a Slytherin."

"But at Hufflepuff, it's not that we don't know any of that. We just know there are more important things."

"How long did it take you to figure that out?"

"Oh, my dad was a Hufflepuff. He always sounded like he had a lot more fun than Mum. I begged the Sorting Hat to put me in here."

"Bet it was surprised."

"Well, I do love being a surprise."

Cedric looked again at the drawing. "Everyone fits," he said. "It looks like it was always here."

"We've been doing them for awhile," Tonks said, and pointed up at the walls, which were lined with at least two hundred years worth of first year drawings. She'd found Dad's her second day and talked to it, and it had made her feel happy and at home. "They'll always be here."

Cedric smiled contentedly. "We will, too," he said. "It'll take some doing to make my dad happy about it, though."

"You do your best," Tonks said. "Parents have a way of coming around."
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Comments
mafdet From: mafdet Date: April 11th, 2004 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Poor innocent little firstie Cedric. "Train him up, Sanjiv." Yes, Cedric was good at Quidditch, wasn't he? This is so sad because we all know what happened to that little gray-eyed boy. :(

I love "your" Tonks and Hufflepuff House sounds like the place I would want to be. I am sure it's one of Hogwarts' best-kept secrets - Hufflepuff is really the most wonderful of the Houses. :) At least to those who are in it. Tonks knew this because her dad was there, but it's nice that other firsties realize it after their first day.

I just bet the poor ickle firstie Slyths look jumpy. Slytherin House can't be a pleasant place to be and with the animosity of the rest of the school against the Slytherins...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 11th, 2004 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!

I have a feeling that if I were in the scene, I'd be Berit Ollivander, looking very impatient with the whole thing! :p But that's just the kind of thing I can see Tonks and the kinds of friends she would have really liking.

I'm not sure I'd want to think about what kinds of initiations might go on in Slyth...
(Deleted comment)
sonetka From: sonetka Date: April 11th, 2004 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gorgeous fic; I'm really looking forward to seeing the whole thing. And a wonderful respite from what has been without a doubt the worst Easter of my experience. Thank you so much, Fern, for giving me a few moments of fictional-world peace :).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 11th, 2004 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, sorry you had a bad Easter! Hope things get better, and I'm glad the story helped a bit.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: April 12th, 2004 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fern, considering that I'm currently dealing with a possible ectopic horror, only a very good story helps me right now :(. Um, do you have any more? I'm not doing much for the next few days and am feeling a little greedy...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 12th, 2004 06:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll hurry then, and not post my drunk and depressed rant, which doesn't belong up for public consumption anyway.
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