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."
"Hope so." Cedric curled up on the couch, pulling an old blanket around himself, and the shadows from the fire made
Monday, June 26, 1995.
flickering images on the windowpane. Ghosts.
"I'm here. What happened?"
Kingsley looked away. "No one is entirely sure. He and Potter both reached the Cup, and it had been made into an illegal Portkey. Somewhat less than an hour later, Potter appeared outside the maze, carrying Diggory's body."
"They don't think that Potter--?"
"Oh, no." Kingsley shook his head emphatically. "No one suspects Potter of this. It was... This is difficult."
"Just tell me."
"You trained with Moody, didn't you?"
"Yes. Hasn't he been teaching at Hogwarts this year?"
"We thought he had. But it looks like Barty Crouch's son was alive after all--you know about him, don't you?"
"He captured Moody. Mad-Eye was in captivity all year while this..." Kingsley wrinkled his nose, trying to think of a bad enough word, then gave up. "While Crouch used Polyjuice Potion. It was Crouch who manipulated the tournament."
"Is Moody all right?"
"He's at St. Mungo's."
Tonks nodded, her mind whipped in different directions. A part of her wanted to go see Moody immediately, another part wanted to scream--it was too confusing. But the biggest part of her needed to know about Cedric. She remained quiet. That, at least, would keep her from screaming.
"He'll be fine," Kingsley said. "He's jumpy, but he'll be all right."
"Right. Are you all right?"
"Yes. Cedric... did Potter know what happened?"
"That's where it gets sticky." Kingsley stood up quickly and looked over the edge of his cubicle. He moved his chair closer and leaned forward, speaking quickly and quietly. "Potter has a story about... about You-Know-Who rising again. Something about a potion, and his blood, and so on. He said Cedric died because he was in the way."
"You-Know-Who is back?"
Kingsley shook his head and touched her wrist. "Don't say that out loud; it could cause a panic. There's no evidence except Potter's say-so, and he's not a reliable witness."
"Because of what that Skeeter woman wrote? You've got to..."
"No." He bit his lip and glanced up at one of his many pictures of Sirius. "Tonks, this isn't the first time Harry Potter has had a wild tale. I haven't told you, because I know... I know it could be difficult for you."
"What are you talking about?"
Kingsley took a deep breath. "Black caught up with him last year."
"I remember. Severus Snape almost brought him in and--"
"Potter and two of his friends maintain--still, to my knowledge--that Black is innocent, and spun a story involving illegal animagi and Peter Pettigrew--"
"You knew him, too?"
"Well, Snape maintains that Black put the children under a Confundus Curse. Fudge was willing to accept that last year, but twice in a row? He's leaning toward believing the boy is desperate for attention."
"Could he be telling the truth?" Tonks swallowed. "About Sirius, I mean. And about... You-Know-Who."
"There's no evidence at all for the story about illegal animagi, and Peter Pettigrew's death was witnessed by more than a dozen people. All we have standing against it is the word of three confused children and a werewolf."
"A... Remus Lupin believes this?"
"Tonks, please." He touched her arm and urged her to sit down. "I know. Lupin seems very competent--"
"Remus is very competent. I've known him my entire life."
Kingsley didn't respond immediately, didn't correct her or chastise her. Instead, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "I know," he said. "That's the worst of it, somehow."
"I don't understand."
"I believe him. Or at least I believe that he believes it. But it's not our job to decide the guilt of our suspects. We're here to bring them in."
"Even if exonerating evidence is going to be ignored?"
"Yes." He shook his head. "I know. It seems unfair. But Tonks, it's not fair for us to unilaterally decide guilt and innocence, either. Can you... can you carry out your duty as an Auror where Black is concerned?"
"Is that really why you didn't tell me?"
Tonks had to give Kingsley credit--he didn't try to deceive her, at least. "I don't know," she said at last. "It's not my case anyway." She bit her lip, trying not to show that her heart was racing. She had a feeling that her face was flushed, but there was very little she could do about it. Kingsley would notice if she morphed. "If I were to accidentally find him, I can promise to bring him to [i]you[/i], " she said. "Is that good enough?"
"You know what I would have to do."
[i]Actually,[/i] Tonks thought suddenly, [i]I'm not entirely sure.[/i]
But she didn't say it.
She knew that her mind was reaching desperately for the possibility that Sirius was innocent, for the hope that her long-lost child-self had given him her trust wisely, for the chance that everything was as she had once believed. It would be too easy, somehow, if it were all a lie.
But what if...
She took a sharp breath. "What [i]is[/i] the story Potter is telling?" she asked.
"In short, that the Triwizard Cup had been turned into a portkey--that much is true--and it took him to a graveyard. There, a man made a Potion from Potter's blood, the bone of Voldemort's father, and the flesh of the servant making the Potion. And that Potion brought You-Know-Who back to life."
"Where did Cedric come into this?"
"He was there with Potter. The servant... used the Killing Curse on him." Kingsley frowned. "As far as we are able to ascertain, that [i]is[/i] what killed him. But it's impossible for it to have been cast by the man Potter named."
So if the bad witch comes back, you just wag your finger at her and say, 'Wormtail says no'... Well, maybe it will confuse her for a minute. Long enough for Dora to turn herself into a butterfly and fly away...
Tonks screwed her eyes shut. Not Mr. Pettigrew, who'd told her stories of butterflies and sat with her when she had nightmares and combed her hair when it had been tangled after a particularly disastrous morphing experiment.
Whatever else he said...
Oh, it couldn't be Mr. Pettigrew. It just couldn't.
But you're willing to believe it of your own cousin?
She dug her fingernails into the heels of her hands and opened her eyes. "What are we going to do?" she asked.
"The official position of the Ministry is that Barty Crouch is responsible for Cedric Diggory's death."
"That's not exactly what I asked."
Tonks rubbed her temples. "Kingsley, I... I need to finish my paperwork from the other night, I..."
"Get some air. Take the day."
"It's not necessary. I--"
Tonks wasn't in any mood to argue. It was too much. A rumor of innocence about Sirius. Remus Lupin doubted because of a condition over which he had no control. Peter Pettigrew accused. And Cedric...
Somehow, despite everything else, her mind kept returning to that. Cedric, the gentle, quiet little boy who had sat with her by the Hufflepuff fireplace. Cedric, who had nothing to do with any of them. Cedric...
Why in bloody hell would anyone kill Cedric?
Because he was in the way.
In the way.
Of all the...
Somehow, she had reached the lift, and she realized that the lines of the walls were blurred and running into one another. She pounded her fist into the frame of the lift's door. Blood blossomed on her knuckles. Somewhere behind her, a howl broke through the routine sounds of Auror Headquarters, and in her mind's eye, she could see Amos Diggory in Arthur Weasley's office, fallen to his knees, his hands raised to the heavens.
The lift opened, and she nearly fell into it, heedless of the other occupants.
In the way.
She could still see him in her mind, sitting quietly in the Hufflepuff Common Room, or running across the grounds with his cloak flying behind him.
10:59. Getting close to a cut back to a flashback. I'll leave it here, mid-paragraph, pretty much, because it's headed toward a sentence that will be split between two scenes.