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My version of Tonks, and how she got that way - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
My version of Tonks, and how she got that way
Well, it was fun trying to break down how I see Sirius a few posts ago, and I'm still on a fictional dry spell, so I thought I'd have a go with Tonks now.

Okay. I've been writing Tonks stories for awhile now, and it's actually hard to remember where things came from. For the record, as far as I know, there is no canon suggestion of any of the following. I just pulled them from my nether regions.

Being called "Dora" by her family. I just figure that they had to call her something, and when all the members of the family are named "Tonks," they wouldn't call her "Tonks." I would say this is probably true of any adult who knew her prior to Hogwarts. "Dora" just seemed to make sense as a nickname.

Being good at Potions. I just liked the thought of clumsy, bubbly Tonks frustrating Snape to no end while he had no choice but to give her a good grade.

Having been especially fond of Peter as a very young child. Well, someone had to be, right?

The rest of my starting points (as opposed to plots I've made up from them) do at least come from things that were in canon. So, here's my thumbnail Tonks.

She came from a deliriously happy, if highly protected, home, and knew both Sirius and Remus from a young age. She is connected to Remus in one way or another. She is highly intelligent, possibly as intelligent as Sirius. She likes to be the center of attention, but lacks the mean streak that her cousin displayed, and so was probably in that odd group in school that no one really dislikes, but no one really focuses on, either. She's comfortable with cross-age relationships of all kinds, and quite genuinely likes people.

Breaking it down:

Deliriously happy, if highly protected, home. Her level of self-confidence could come from some source other than happiness, but her general outgoing nature and her apparent belief that people will like her (eg, on first meeting, following Harry up and helping him pack, while chattering along the whole time) suggest a lot of positive reinforcement that she was, in fact, likable and that her presence made other people happy. That further seems to suggest a situation where she was a highly valued child for her own sake, not just as a symbol of her parents. Also, Andromeda gave up her whole place in the world to marry Ted--if things had gone wrong, the unhappiness would have followed through, and probably made for a very different Nymphadora. As for the protection--where are Ted and Andromeda in OotP? My guess, they closed ranks and created a safe zone, and they are still living in it.

Knew both Sirius and Remus from a young age. Probably Peter and James and Lily as well. Andromeda is mentioned as Sirius's favorite cousin, and like him, she'd have been an exile from the family. Given his intense focus on family (which I'd guess she shared, given Nymphadora's weird name), I don't he'd have let himself lose touch with her. And Sirius seems to genuinely like children, so that probably would have made him a favorite visitor. Since the rest of his "family" was the created bond of the Marauders, I'm sure that she would have been exposed to them as well. I've toyed with the idea that she might also have been Sirius's godchild, though he obviously never would have had to be her guardian.

Connected to Remus in one way or another. Tonks has an easy manner with everyone, but I'd note that Remus also has an easy manner with her, a kind of familiar tone. She's the only one who interrupts him while he's introducing her, thereby connecting herself with him in the text. There are other structural things that suggest a connection--the number of times they appear together (rarely appearing separately, actually), the fact that they are introduced with parallel imagery (Harry is in the dark and frightened, a strange voice speaks, and then there is light), even the coincidence that Harry refers to them both by their surnames (Lupin and Tonks) as opposed to their given names, though this would include Moody as well (no, I'm not planning an OT3 on this).

She is highly intelligent, possibly as intelligent as Sirius. She's an Auror. McGonagall's discussion of the requirements for that particular job doesn't leave much room to doubt that all of the Aurors are quite intelligent. At the very least, she'd have had to survive NEWT level Potions with Snape, who is not known to be overgenerous with Marauder relatives. She'd also have to have done well in McGonagall's class, and McGonagall is not an easy teacher. The gift of the toy Firebolt to Harry shows a certain amount of perceptiveness, given that she doesn't know him at all well... an attempt to give him something showing that someone knows he misses Quidditch in the midst of all the angst. This is not a stupid woman, by any stretch of the imagination.

She likes to be the center of attention. The noses at the dinner table did it for me with this. She obviously loves making people laugh, and pink hair, not exactly for the shy wallflower type. She obviously wants to stand out.

but lacks the mean streak that her cousin displayed, and so was probably in that odd group in school that no one really dislikes, but no one really focuses on, either. We don't see Tonks making fun of other people, though she could. Though Harry thinks of Dudley when she does the pig snout, it's in fact requested by two people who have never seen Dudley, and performed by someone who hasn't seen Dudley. She's just doing a pig snout. Her humor is not at anyone's expense except her own; she's the one who ends up with the stupid nose. Just from experience, people like that don't make a lot of enemies, nor do they have a lot of fanboys and fangirls. They have a handful of close friends, who probably remain close, but everyone else just likes them in a vague sort of way, maybe years later thinking, "Gosh, so and so was a hoot, wasn't she?" And with the exception of the totally inexplicable--"She's a half-blood!"--it's unlikely that anyone would have found cause to hate her.

She's comfortable with cross-age relationships of all kinds. She does talk back to Moody twice in "The Advance Guard" (questioning the missing buttock story and telling him that dropping his eye in a drinking glass is pretty grody), but that seems to be part of a regular banter among colleagues. She doesn't seem to have much of a sense of hierarchy, sliding back and forth from Moody to Lupin to Harry and back without ever altering herself to fit the "station" of the person she's talking to. (We don't see her interact with women much and she obviously sees her mother as at least a benign authority figure, so this may not play out among women; she may have a stronger sense of hierarchy there--I know I do, though, so that might just be my own filters; Tonks may well interact with women across the age spectrum as freely as she does with men.) I think this is probably one of the main reasons she was introduced in OotP--to be a bridge between the children's world and the adults' world.

And quite genuinely likes people. This, again, seems to be part of her cheerful personality. Related to the belief that Harry's not going to hate her for rambling about her hair while he's scared and packing is the general notion that Harry's an okay kid who's willing and ready to be friendly himself. The same is true with Moody--none of this "Tread carefully around old Mad-Eye" for her; she just banters with him from the get-go.

Anyway, there's not that much to go on, but that's where I'm coming from.
19 comments or Leave a comment
silverhill From: silverhill Date: August 16th, 2004 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heehee! You said "grody." That word makes me laugh.

I love your Tonks because I think you've given her so much depth -- or, rather, discovered the depth that is there but not immediately apparent. I don't think she's an incredibly interesting character on the surface. She becomes much more interesting when you look closer and analyze her character.
myf From: myf Date: August 16th, 2004 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
*adds grody to her lexicon* Can I take it that it means 'revolting', or is there a more precise meaning?

Nice work, Fern, I like this interpretation very much. It definitely works in your fics, this 'conception' of Tonks.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 17th, 2004 04:38 am (UTC) (Link)
It's a variant of "gross," probably, not seen in regular use since the mid-80s valley-speak craze. I always liked it. ;)
melyanna From: melyanna Date: August 17th, 2004 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, it was in common use in the mid-90s too. It's just such a fun and descriptive word. ;)
ajaxbreaker From: ajaxbreaker Date: August 17th, 2004 01:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm in awe of the way you develop your characters so thorougly. Your Tonks is a vibrant character in all the stories she appears in, and it's easy to see why.

"Dora" just seemed to make sense as a nickname.
Yes, and it's definitely better than Nymphie! Or something which I just recently saw: N'dora *shudders*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 17th, 2004 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I've seen that, too. When it comes to day-to-day nicknames, usually people will go for something that's easier to say than the original name!
kelleypen From: kelleypen Date: August 17th, 2004 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you've nailed her personna. The only thing I might take exception with is that considering Sirius is only 12 years older than Tonks, I doubt he would have been her godfather.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 17th, 2004 07:46 am (UTC) (Link)
More like fifteen years older--she's about 23 (maybe 22) in OotP, and if Snape was 36 in PoA, then the Marauders would be 38 in OotP. Either fifteen or sixteen years there.
kelleypen From: kelleypen Date: August 17th, 2004 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Are you sure Snape was 36 in OP? As near as I can tell the Mauraders were all born in 1960 and graduated Hogwarts in 1978. That makes Sirius 36 when he died and 13 or 14 years older than Tonks.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 17th, 2004 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
When PoA was released, someone asked in a chat how old Snape was, and JKR said 36, and if he's the same age they are, then they'd be about the same. Of course, I'm not big on the calculations and someone said there was controversy about whether or not she meant he was 36 in PoA (which was being asked about) or GoF (which she was writing).
kelleypen From: kelleypen Date: August 17th, 2004 04:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I double-checked the Harry Potter Lexicon and it states, with several cited references, that Snape, Lily, and the Mauraders were all born in 1960. It also said that Tonks was most likely only six years older than Harry.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 17th, 2004 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not trusting the Lexicon on this one. It doesn't jive with JKR's numbers.
kelleypen From: kelleypen Date: August 17th, 2004 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Since when do JKR's numbers ever jive??? This may be one of the ones we sort out after all the books are out.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: August 17th, 2004 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
In 2001 (after release of GoF) JKR states "Snape is 35 or 6" I'm assuming this means at present time... meaning at the end of Goblet. Harry turned 15 at the end of Goblet/beginning of Phoenix.


Which would make him 21 or 22 years older than Harry. So he and his fellow marauders-era folks (Snape & Lupin) would be 36/37 in Order of the Phoenix.

If Tonks had been an auror for one year and auror training takes three years, she's four years (minimum) out of school. Students appear to leave Hogwarts at 18 (or nearly 18) which would make Tonks no younger than 22 (or nearly so) at the beginning of Order of the Phoenix. As she says "I only qualified a year ago" in ch 3, it's possible it took her several tries to qualify and she might be as old as 23. I suspect she's 22, making her about 13/14 years younger than Sirius & Remus.
From: magnolia_mama Date: August 17th, 2004 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I like your analysis of Tonks. I'm not entirely sure she would have known Remus as more than a friendly face connected with her cousin, but that's more of a gut feeling than an intellectual opinion and not one I can rationally explain.

I'm curious--do you see her as more of a Ravenclaw or a Hufflepuff? I've always been inclined to see her as a Ravenclaw, but your analysis shows some genuinely Hufflepuff qualities to her.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 17th, 2004 07:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I've been a Huffle!Tonks fan for a long time, but it wasn't a tie with Ravenclaw; I think she's sort of a Huffle-dor. Kind and loyal, but more or less fearless. I have it sort of a Tonks family tradition, putting Ted in Hufflepuff as well. And since she identifies more with him than with her Gryffindor mother, she wants Hufflepuff.

This is how I Sorted her in Of A Sort:

She went to the stool and sat down, taking the Sorting Hat in her hands. People at several tables were looking at her in a friendly way. She put the Hat on.

"Aha," it said. "Another Black."

Tonks, Dora said, alarmed. Another Tonks.

"Yes, I can see that as well." It moved on her head. "Interesting... Your mind is very, very good."

Is it? Mr. Lupin says that.

"Ah, yes. I remember Mr. Lupin." It thought a bit longer. "You aren't sly..."

Not in the least.

"You don't lack courage. There's little you fear in this world."

Almost nothing. Mum says I'll fly into a storm cloud one day just to talk to the thunder.

The Hat laughed.

But I don't want to be in Gryffindor, Dora stressed. It sounds very sad to me.

"There's quite a lot of thunder to talk to in Gryffindor," the Hat said, its tone sounding like it meant an agreement, though Dora wasn't sure what it meant, precisely.

I'd like Hufflepuff, she said. Like my Dad. I--

"In general," the Hat said, "I do the Sorting."

Oh. Right. I'm sorry. Mum says I mustn't try to hide who I am.

"A wise woman. Not that you would ever be particularly successful at hiding your identity."

I'm a metamorphmagus.

"Cosmetic." The Hat shifted a bit more. "Yes, yes... you could shine in Gryffindor. You could make a name for yourself."

I have a name. A rather large one that's a bit awkward to carry around sometimes.

"And yet, you manage with no difficulty. No," the Hat mused. "I don't think you are a Gryffindor. You have courage, but neither the need nor the desire to prove it. You are willing to work hard, and what you value most are the connections you make with other people..."

Please, oh, please...

"I believe you're right. Be happy in


From: magnolia_mama Date: August 17th, 2004 08:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Eh, see, my quibble with Gryffindor is that it almost turns out to be the default house for favorite characters (except for Slytherin lovers). "Kingsley Shacklebolt is so cool, he had to be a Gryffindor!" Not that I'm necessarily accusing you of this, but I see it happening far too much. I'd always envisioned Andromeda as a Slytherin, but an ill-fitted one, like Percy and Gryffindor.

But yeah, I can easily see Tonks as a Hufflepuff.

neotoma From: neotoma Date: August 17th, 2004 11:04 am (UTC) (Link)
my quibble with Gryffindor is that it almost turns out to be the default house for favorite characters

Well, so far it does seem to be JKR's place to put *her* favorite characters. The only 'bad' Gryffindor we've seen in Peter Pettigrew -- everyone else from that House is heroic (if occasionally misguided, like Percy Weasely.)

Frankly, Tonks strikes me as a Hufflepuff to the bone. She's friendly, a hard worker, loyal, and interested in people and being social. She doesn't seem to have the brilliant insights or slightly off-kilter world-view I associate with Ravenclaws. Now we just have to see if she has the Hufflepuff flaws of clannishness, obstinacy, and overprotectiveness.

Andromeda as a Slytherin but with her ambitious perhaps being more entrepreneurial than political? I like that. Unfortunately, she and Ted Tonks are such ciphers in the book, being fourth-order characters, not even appearing 'on-screen', that they could be anything in personality and it would work with what little we know of them.
chienar From: chienar Date: August 17th, 2004 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Tonks in Hufflepuff

Oh I certainly see Dora Tonks as following her Dad to Hufflepuff, much more than ending up in Gryffindor.
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