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And more - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
And more
Okay, so this is a long one.

I haven't finished the bridge yet.

This picks up right after the last post, another trip back into Tonks's memories.


Thursday, November 23, 1989.

The first term moved quickly.

Too quickly.

Tonks was taking eight N.E.W.T.s. She was thinking about becoming an Auror and knew she would need at least five, and she wanted a bit of a cushion, just in case one or another didn't turn out well. Transfiguration and Potions came naturally to her (at least when she could avoid tripping over her cauldrons, not to mention annoying old Snape), and she'd always done well in Defense Against the Dark Arts, but her Charm work was pedestrian, and Astronomy and Herbology were endless chores. She knuckled herself down for them and got the requisite marks, but she didn't understand the appeal that her classmates seemed to find in them. History of Magic didn't even give her an opportunity to catch up on her sleep anymore--at N.E.W.T. level, Binns was starting to ask for independent research to be presented to classmates. In mid-November, Tonks had just finished an extended report on the differing theories about the disappearance of Merlin, and her head was swimming.

Care of Magical Creatures was outdoors, and the walk down to Professor Kettleburn's paddock at least gave her time to clear her head. It wasn't her favorite class--she liked animals a great deal, but had no special aptitude with them--but getting there was her favorite way to wind down. It was warm enough to be pleasant, but the sky was dull gray and threatening rain.

She came around the greenhouses and saw Professor Kettleburn down in the paddock, using his one arm to make a comforting patting motion on what appeared to be thin air. As she approached, the Demiguise he was soothing finally calmed down enough to fade back into visibility. Tonks waved to him. She was just close enough to see him smile back when a high-pitched shout broke across the grounds. The Demiguise stiffened and disappeared immediately.

The call came again. "Tonks! Over here!"

She looked over her shoulder to find Cedric Diggory running flat out across the lawn, his cloak billowing out behind him. She hurried back to him. When she reached him, he stopped and bent over, his hands on his knees. "Back there..." he said. "Can't find... prefect... Third year... Gryffindor... "

Tonks put her hands on his shoulders to calm him down. "A third year Gryffindor did something to you?"

He shook his head. "No... not me... I... Terence Higgs... Slytherin..."

"Slow down, Cedric. Terence Higgs is a fifth year."

"Yeah..." Cedric took a deep, shaky breath and applied some control. "Higgs and a couple of his chums have got a third year Gryffindor. Don't know his name. I couldn't find a prefect. But Higgs took his rat. They're holding him down... burning the rat's feet with a Heating Spell." He took a few more breaths. "I'm sorry. I saw you coming down here and it was the fastest thing I could think of."

"It's all right. Where are they? I'll take a piece out of Higgs for him."

Cedric gulped and grabbed her by the wrist, then started running again. He led her around the far side of the greenhouses toward a clump of bushes by the lakeside (one of the more popular ones, which the teachers left alone, usually wisely). Before she got there, she could hear a cracking voice, sounding frantic. "Stop it! Please! I won't tell!"

This was followed by rough laughter, overlaid with a high-pitched squeaking noise. "Look! I can make him do a little dance! Looks like Weasley's rat can do something interesting after all."

Tonks pulled out her wand and charged into the bushes. "Accio rat!"

The rat flew out of Higgs's hands and landed in hers. "Stay back, Ced," she said, handing him the rat. "I'll get this."

Cedric took the rat, and she heard a vague cooing sound as he tried to get it to calm down.

"Let me go!" the third year yelled, then screeched as one of the two boys holding him yanked his arm up.

There wasn't any luxury of time--if she wasted any (or, heaven forbid, tripped over someone's feet), she'd lose the element of surprise. She pointed her wand sideways at Higgs and called, "Petrificus!" He stiffened and fell over, and she turned on the other two. "Incapabilis," she said. The one on the third year's right dropped his arm, the elbow and wrist limp and useless. She leveled her wand at the third. "Would you like one of those two spells, or should I get creative with the next one?"

He took his hands off the sobbing boy and glared at her. "You're not a prefect."

"No, but I do have my wand pointed at you."

"You'll just get detention," Higgs said, though it came out as "Ull chust kit tetentchun" through his frozen jaw.

"D'you really think I care?"

The Gryffindor boy shrank back into the shadows, hiding his face. Cedric came cautiously into the area and squatted down beside the other boy, handing him the rat (which seemed much happier to be with its real owner; it submitted to being rocked and having its feet examined without any squealing).

Tonks looked at the older boys. "Well, get out of here, you lot. Go up to the hospital wing and get Madam Pomfrey to take off the spells--I'm not putting you back to full strength right now."

The two boys who had been holding the little one pried Higgs to his feet and started off toward the castle. As soon as they were far enough away that Tonks was reasonably certain they weren't coming back, she turned back to Cedric and the Gryffindor boy.

"You all right?" she asked, starting over to them. Her foot caught on a rock, and she tripped halfway across the distance.

The Gryffindor boy looked at her in horror.

She shrugged. "Well, at least it didn't happen while they were here."

He let out a very shaky breath and nodded, wide-eyed. "I--" He bit his lip. "I'm Percy Weasley. Thank you."

"Bloody Higgs. Brains of a bludger, that one. Same charming personality, too." Tonks looked after the retreating boys. "You should tell Professor McGonagall. She can talk to Snape."

"No," Percy said quickly. "I don't want my brothers to know. The twins will..." He shook his head. "I don't want them to know." He looked at the rat's front paws. "Scabbers's feet are burned. Do you know any Charms for that?"

Tonks leaned down and examined Scabbers the rat. The burns weren't severe, but they were obviously causing the animal some discomfort. He licked frantically at an old wound on one of them. "Well," she said, "I have some essence of murtlap back in my dormitory. I'm always hurting myself on something. Why don't we take Scabbers here back and let him soak his toes for a bit?"

"I... I have a class..." Percy looked doubtful. "I suppose I could--"

Tonks pulled Scabbers from his hands. "I just have Care of Magical Creatures. I imagine old Kettleburn will let me out to take care of a non-magical one for once. You go on. I've got it."

"Right," Cedric said. "And I'll bring Scabbers to you at dinner. I don't have a pet. I could say I borrowed him. For... Transfiguration practice or something."

"You don't have to do that. I'm sorry, I--"

"No, it's all right. Really."

"You're sure?"

Cedric shrugged.

Percy stood up and dusted himself off. "Thank you both. I'm sorry about this--"

"All's well," Tonks said. "Off to class with you."

Percy gave them a quick nod and hurried off. Scabbers the rat looked tentatively up at Tonks, seemed to decide he liked her face, and climbed up onto her shoulder, his burned feet picking their way carefully up her robes. As soon as he settled, he flopped down with his feet splayed on either side of her shoulder.

"Are his brothers that bad?" Tonks asked.

"Fred and George are in my year," Cedric said. "I take Herbology with them. They're very funny. But I think they'd tell everyone."

"Oh."

"I'd best get to class, too. I'll come back for the rat later?"

"Right."

Cedric headed off toward the greenhouses. Tonks made a quick run down to Kettleburn, who waved her off of class as long as she absolutely swore she'd be taking care of an animal, then headed back to the Hufflepuff dormitories. She kept a generous supply essence of murtlap beside her bed because of her tendency to drop things on her toes and jam her fingers in drawers (not to mention burning herself in Potions class), and she poured half and inch into a shallow pan. There was no good place to put it down in her room--her worktable was piled high with rolls of parchment and open books--so she took it downstairs to the Common Room and set it on the table.

Scabbers had fallen asleep on her shoulder while she did this--a neat trick, given that it had to be hard to balance with all that moving around--and he didn't wake up until she plopped him down in the pan, at which point he looked up at her gratefully, rested his chin on the edge of the pan, and promptly fell asleep again, his legs splayed lazily in the murtlap.

Tonks lit the fire in the hearth with a wave of her wand, and stretched on on the sofa, letting the burst of energy dissipate pleasantly.

Eight N.E.W.T.s were too many, really. She needed to drop one next year. History of Magic, perhaps. She could use those mornings for sleep again.

She watched the flames dance in the hearth, let her eyelids become heavy, let herself drift...

and she is in the wind, a butterfly, and she alights among friends in a field. Mr. Lupin is sitting cross-legged on the corner of a blanket, reading a book which appears to be about wolves. Her cousin Sirius is gleefully eating chicken legs by the basket. He waves at her.

She has alit on Mr. Pettigrew's shoulder. He pets her with his finger, then lifts her down to the blanket they are all sitting on, where she transforms back into herself, or herself as she was when she was small, when they were all with her and all wonderful. She runs to Sirius and he picks her up and swings her around, then tosses her to Mr. Lupin, who cuddles her and puts her down safely. Sirius laughs and laughs and then there is lightning and it is raining, and Sirius's face melts and changes, and his teeth become fangs and his hands reach out for her, and she cries out his name.

And someone touches her shoulder and whispers a word a word which would have made a difference, a word that means everything, and the word is "Innocent," but she will not remember it when she awakens, and would not understand it if she did.


"Tonks?"

She opened her eyes.

Cedric Diggory was standing over her, an uncertain look on his face. Scabbers the rat was in his hands.

"Guess I fell asleep," she said, rubbing her eyes and sitting up.

"You were talking."

"What did I say?"

"I didn't understand." He sat down beside her. "I'm surprised Scabbers didn't wake you up. He was crawling on you. Guess you spooked him a bit."

"I suppose."

"What were you dreaming about?"

"Thought I fell off my broom," she said automatically. "You know how clumsy I am. Big fear."

"Oh." Cedric massaged Scabbers' head with his finger. "I think the Fat Friar was trying to wake you up when I came in," he said. "But he floated out someplace. I suppose he reckoned I'd be better at it."

Tonks reached over and took the rat, checking his feet. "Well, he seems to be recovered, anyway."

"Good stuff, murtlap."

"Handy when you're as injury-prone as I am, anyway."

Cedric smiled. "You know, you're not as clumsy as you think. Only when you're worrying about it."

"There's a reason I worry about it." She smiled at him. "Get the rat back to its friend. I'd best get on my next absurd essay for Snape. The man has it in for me, I swear."

"He has it in for everyone." Cedric took Scabbers back, and looked thoughtfully at Tonks. "You're really all right?"

She nodded, and shooed him out the door, then trudged up to her dormitory to begin her next bit of work.



Any suggestions of a third scene to do between Tonks and Cedric? The story ends with her going to Dumbledore's office, knocking on the door, and saying, "Professor Dumbldore, it's Nymphadora Tonks. I've come about Cedric."
9 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
myf From: myf Date: April 12th, 2004 11:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm really enjoying this one. I can definitely see how the shy young Cedric could grow up to be a well-liked, handsome but down-to-earth Triwizard Champion.

Also enjoyed the characterisation of Percy, but was slightly freaked out by Scabbers. I just can't really get into the mind of Pettigrew, much as I try, and fics like this don't help! I mean, they round him out beautifully, but I can't help despising him. Not an uncommon reaction, surely, but I'd still like to be able to see his redeeming features more clearly.

My favourite moment was Tonks not wanting Sirius to see her cry. So full of contradications and confusions, but a perfect moment.

Thanks, Fern!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 13th, 2004 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I think this one might be a little freaky even in Peter's point-of-view. I thought about giving it a shot, but since this is mostly a Tonks/Cedric sort of thing, I didn't want to divert too far into Peter. Basically, he's very touchy about having had his paws burned (I think at some point in his DE career, his been Crucio target practice), and thankful to Tonks, whom he remembers fondly. He sees her having a nightmare about Sirius and transforms back long enough to whisper (when he's sure she's not awake), "Innocent," but transforms back as soon as Cedric comes through the door. It's one of his weird little connecting moments. (pauraque has a really good one--much better than this--about Scabbers trying to connect to Neville just before he disappears third year.)

Any time that Cedric's carrying him around, though, I keep wanting to say, "Drop him! He's going to kill you!"
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 13th, 2004 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
myf From: myf Date: April 13th, 2004 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Fern. I see what you mean - I especially liked the comment after Paraque's ficlet that Peter always tries to connect, but it seems to go awry.
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: April 12th, 2004 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have very much enjoyed these stories! Percy, especially, was very good in this installment.

Any suggestions of a third scene to do between Tonks and Cedric?

Hmm...maybe one just before she leaves Hogwarts? I hesitate to use this word, but...just before Tonks "graduates." ;)
ladylisse From: ladylisse Date: April 13th, 2004 10:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I found this via friendsfriends and since I'm a sucker for Tonks, Cedric, and Percy, I adore it. The characterizations were lovely. There's almost nobody out there who writes good Tonks or who writes good Cedric -- or any Cedric, really. I hope you don't mind me friending you. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 13th, 2004 11:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Cool with me. I like friends. :)
sonetka From: sonetka Date: April 13th, 2004 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was really, really nice (feeble adjective, but I'm a bit played out at the moment :)). For a third Cedric/Tonks scene, maybe he could take the lead a little more? Tonks has already mentioned that she's clumsy on her broomstick, so maybe Cedric could try to show her a few tricks of flying, seeing as he's a Seeker and all...just an idea. This is good all alone though; I felt like I'd just finished GOTF for the first time once more. "No, he CAN'T be dead! He was so cool!"
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: April 19th, 2004 04:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Peter has a cameo in this one. Interesting to think something like this happened between Cedric and the man that would kill him.

The best thing abt your fics is that they don't have a 'fan-fiction-ish' feel. There can be so many interpretations to these somewhat 'background' characters, but for some reason, yours are the only ones that seem 'real', IMO at any rate.
9 comments or Leave a comment