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Fic: Vanished Blood - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Fic: Vanished Blood
And more. :)

It's Tonks-y this time, taking place after the incident in Chapter 21 in which Harry runs into her in the hall outside the Room of Requirement, where he's trying to find out what Draco is up to. She's completely out of it, and has been looking for Dumbledore, presumably after the attack on the Montgomery boy, implying that she hasn't heard from Remus and is worried. Hermione wonders what she's doing there when she's supposed to be guarding the school, but hello? Guarding is a twenty-four hour kind of thing, and I'm going to posit that there's a good reason she's kind of out of it.

Tonks reached the end of the seventh floor corridor and looked up at the stairs that wound upward and downward. They looked like too much work.

She sat down on the second step leading up toward Ravenclaw tower, and leaned against the wall. Her head was swimming, her stomach clenched. She had a vague notion that she'd just spoken with Harry, and he'd looked at her like she was quite mad--that was certain to get around now--but she wasn't entirely sure what she'd said to him.

She'd been awake for nearly thirty-six hours. The night shift on Friday, totally unable to sleep in her Hogsmeade flat on Saturday--still no word from Mum and Dad, who were off in Africa on Dumbledore's orders, trying to Heal and investigate a massive curse that had left a Muggle village in bleeding tatters--then last night.

Last night.

Full moon.

She put her head in her hands and rubbed at her temples.

The night was only a series of memories, flashing across her mind. Dawlish rushing up the road in Hogsmeade, screaming about a werewolf attack.

"A whole pack! Seven of them!"

A dead child.

Stuck at her post, scanning the horizon of Hogwarts, hating it, hating being trapped here, wanting to rush to the scene, to look for him, to know what had happened, waiting for a Patronus to come to her, or an owl, or a bloody Muggle telegram. Anything.

But no one came.

At dawn, the sounds coming from the Shrieking Shack. Breaking, screaming.

By the time Savage relieved her (making snide comments about how she didn't look terribly alert), she felt like she'd been standing her post for a year. She'd run to the Shack, using the Order's counter-spells to get through the security (almost fumbling a simple charm in her fatigue), but it was empty already. Empty and broken. All of the bits and pieces of a life that she'd been finding carefully repaired were destroyed again, the wallpaper torn in large swathes, the dry-wall shattered around a fist-sized hole.

And Dumbledore hadn't been here.

What had she asked Harry? What had he...?

"What are you doing here?"

Tonks blinked heavily, trying to focus on the boy standing in front of her. He was thin and pale, with pointed, sharp features that she would know anywhere, no matter how close she was to sleeping on her feet. They were her own, her mother's, Sirius's, Bella's...

A Black.

Her fuzzy mind went down the list of names, but of course there was only one here now. They were almost gone. Just her. Her mother. Her aunts. And her cousin.

"Draco?" she asked.

He looked at her without recognition. "You don't belong here. I'm a prefect. I can have you removed."

"I'm, er..." She blinked again. The sunlight was coming in behind Draco, making him seem to shimmer. For a moment, this held her almost hypnotized. She took a deep breath; she needed sleep. "I'm an Auror. Stationed in Hogsmeade. I was checking in." Then her mouth, of its own accord, continued, "I... I'm your cousin. Tonks. Nymphadora Tonks. Our mothers are sisters. I haven't seen mine lately."

Whatever had possessed her to say it didn't matter. Draco Malfoy drew back as if she'd doused him with entrails. "Half-blood," he muttered. "Your mother is a blood traitor." He blinked back at her, looking for a moment as weary and ill-used as she felt. Then he sneered. "You're nothing of mine," he said. "And you have no business here."

"No. I don't suppose I do."

"I could have you escorted out."

"You could. But I'll go. I just need to catch my breath."

"I'll wait."

"There's no need."

He crossed his arms over his chest and glared at her. "Why are you really here?"

"It's Auror business," she said. "Nothing you need to know."

He flinched visibly, and stepped back. "The Aurors don't run Hogwarts," he said.

She frowned at him. "Are you all right?"

"Oh, of course. I just love Aurors."

"Your father," she realized.

"My father." Draco looked down his narrow nose at her and curled his lip. "I'm going to get Filch," he said. "He'll take you out of here."

She waved him on and watched him disappear down the stairs, feeling vaguely lonely when the last of his robes swirled away into the darkness. She had no desire to see Argus Filch again--she had a feeling he could still recite most of her misdeeds as a Hogwarts student--so she pulled herself to her feet, ignoring a wave of dizziness, and went back into the seventh floor corridor. There was a tapestry of trolls trying to do ballet, and she squinted at it myopically, wondering if it had some grand significance in the scheme of things.

I want my family, she thought, stumbling along the corridor, her hand trailing along the tapestry.

Her wand hand brushed the wall, and she lost her grip on it and turned back to pick it up. I don't want to be alone anymore. I want my family.

She pulled herself up, straightened her shoulders, and walked forward again, thinking pointlessly, I want my family.

A door appeared across from her.

She stared at it.

Then, slowly, opened it.

The room was quiet and cobwebby, with old stuffed velvet furnishings. A fine bed stood back in one corner; the initials "PN" had been carved on the footboard. Sunlight streamed through the windows.

She closed the door behind her.

Something fell from a table beside her, and she bent to pick it up. A vinyl record, cracked and warped from long exposure to the elements. The Beatles, with a no-nonsense "TT" written with a plain black Muggle marker on the yellow center. Dad. She held it and stood up, feeling a bit more steady.

An old bookcase with a broken bottom shelf stood in the shadows. It had been written on extensively. She recognized Sirius's hand, and Remus's, and two others she was willing to assume were James Potter's and Peter Pettigrew's. They'd written notes to one another about who had dropped by and who had whose homework... nothing of vast import, but she ran her hands over it, letting her fingers linger on Remus's writing (an admonition to one of the others to "Stop using my trunk for your rubbish"), feeling him there with her.

On top of the book case was a single cuff-link, heavy silver, with the letter "R" worked into its design. Beside it, a scratched crystal bowl, perhaps casually tossed aside twenty years ago because it wasn't perfect anymore. There were small scrolls beside the bookcase--letters, sealed with the Black family crest, long broken. She could see childish block letters on the inside, and one had rolled open enough for her to see that it was addressed to "Dear Sirius" and began "Mum is pitching a fit downstairs..."

More notes now, scattered on the floor, once invisible ink now showing with the passage of years. Love notes passed between her parents, from the look of it. Old assignments, scribbled out notes from classes long passed or failed. Drawings by ancient ancestors she couldn't name, and baubles that might have been lost for a century or two. Slytherin badges, petty academic awards, photographs, autograph books, the lost and silent life of the Blacks at Hogwarts.

"I want my family," she said again, and when she turned, a low table had appeared beside Phineas Nigellus's bed, piled with books, some open, with writing in the margins. She sat down on the edge of the bed and picked up a scroll that was balanced among them.

"Longbottom needs confidence, but understands the principles... Granger, fantastic memory, needs practice in practical application... Harry--James would love this boy so much... Malfoy, excellent grasp of technical concepts, not applying himself..."

She leaned into it and smelled the parchment, not caring about Remus's notes on his students, but feeling that if she could somehow breathe what he'd breathed, get close enough to the spidery lines of his script, touch what he had touched, she would know where he was again, know he was safe.

The scent of it filled her mind, but she couldn't find his smell in it, if it had ever been there. She leaned back against the pillows letting the scroll drift away from her, making the lines visible again.

"Parvati has a real knack for... " "Ginny Weasley's mind is top notch but..." "G. Goyle--practice basic spellwork...!"

The words seemed to float up into the air, dancing around in front of her eyes.

Lonely, she thought, and pictures appeared on the table--old, lost pictures. Her parents. Sirius. Remus. Her mother standing with her sisters. She reached out vaguely, but her hand didn't quite make it to them, and she fell asleep in her great-great-great-grandfather's bed, her love's writing clasped to her chest, her fingers grasping for her vanished blood.

By the time she was awakened by a nervous house elf wearing a tea cozy on his head, her mind had settled, and it was time to go back to work.


43 comments or Leave a comment
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persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: July 24th, 2005 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
*cries quietly*
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: July 24th, 2005 04:33 am (UTC) (Link)
*wipes tears, struggles to find words*

Thank you, I suppose. You have such a way of being able to put us readers inside a character's experience of moments like this....
moonlinnet From: moonlinnet Date: July 24th, 2005 05:04 am (UTC) (Link)
*tears* Wow. This is really, really touching.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: July 24th, 2005 05:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I feel a bit silly just gushing all the time but it's hard to come up with anything else. This was absolutely beautiful, thank you.

Also, Happy Birthday. xx
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 24th, 2005 05:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey, I can take gushing. ;)

And thanks!
genesse From: genesse Date: July 24th, 2005 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow. That's just beautiful...
laureate05 From: laureate05 Date: July 24th, 2005 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I like it. There's something I can't quite put my finger on that made it feel like a deleted scene. Maybe it was the balance in the ineraction with Malfoy. He's still a nasty ferret, but there's something underlying that made me wonder why was I reading this off my computer and not out of a book. I seriously thought, "my eyes hurt too much to look at the computer, what page is this on?"
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 24th, 2005 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Neat, thanks!

When I was first thinking about it, I wasn't thinking about Malfoy--it was going to be entirely her thoughts on Remus, with a little bit of her parents and Sirius. But Malfoy was right there, and he's her first cousin, and Harry compares the two of them in the book... and besides, Malfoy had to leave the RoR sometime. And I know when I'm down in the dumps, I sometimes get the weirdest desire to see people I'm related to and connect to ancestors and so on. Maybe it's just a quirk. But it was a useful quirk for the moment, anyway. :)
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 24th, 2005 06:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm wild about the Ancient and Noble Etc... I don't know why. I don't give a rip about the Malfoys, and my interest in the Potters is mostly limited to Harry and James. The Gaunts only interest me tangentially. But that HOUSE. I want to know the Blacks.

And also, Thanks!
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: July 24th, 2005 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful and unexpected missing moment. Took me a few moments to decipher PN's initials. Makes a lot of sense that her odd behavior is due to crazy-worry about Remus and the werewolves, not just lovesickness.
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: July 24th, 2005 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I love you.

Now give me a tissue.
laureate05 From: laureate05 Date: July 24th, 2005 07:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I love your icon. Have a tissue.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 24th, 2005 09:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, FernWithy, you're the best! Everything fits so well, you gave us perfect Malfoy.
I also hope you'll have a wonderfull birthday! Cheers!:)
maple_clef From: maple_clef Date: July 24th, 2005 01:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is utterly lovely. It offers an explanation of Tonks' behaviour that is much more satisfactory and in character, and I love that she finds comfort in the ghosts of her family and the Marauders in the Room of Requirement. Love it.

Also, Many Happy Returns of the Day :D
litlefallofrain From: litlefallofrain Date: July 24th, 2005 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
::wipes away a silent tear:: I needed something this beautiful this morning.

kelleypen From: kelleypen Date: July 24th, 2005 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was lovely. And I enjoyed it right after telling Mr. Flying Fingers that I wasn't in the mood for fan fiction right now. You've made a hypocrite out of me. Have a wonderful birthday too.
beaustylo From: beaustylo Date: July 24th, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was really wonderful. I loved how the Room of Requirement fulfilled her desire. The student notes were a really nice touch.

This story actually inspired a new theory too. If one or more of the Horcruxes are at Hogwarts, could the Room of Requirement produce them?
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: July 24th, 2005 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, good call on the sleep-deprivation thing -- of course, that makes perfect sense. And congratulations on finding an original, non-plot-killing use for the Room of Requirements.

Such a sad little scene, but hopeful, in its way...
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