Tonks had a fairly bad week to start August with--she moves to Hogsmeade, where her colleagues aren't talking to her, the Shrieking Shack is visible from her window at the Hog's Head, and oh, yes, she is attacked by four Dementors outside the school wall near the Forbidden Forest. Minerva McGonagall rescues her and Poppy Pomfrey nurses her back to health, then her parents come up and stay with her, much to the snide amusement of her colleagues. At least one of her friends lives in town, though...
(And yes, I needed to make up an excuse to include Fifi LaFolle.)
Not much happening here, but people are starting to worry about Tonks.
Table of Contents and Summary So Far
Work settled into a routine the next week--strengthening security charms, interviewing witnesses and survivors, searching an ever widening perimeter for hostile spells or hiding places. Her strength returned physically, but the sort of glassy separation between herself and the world around her persisted. She tried to ignore the odd sensation, but it was distracting and sometimes overwhelming. It was difficult to enjoy much, even when she wasn't especially sad. She'd found notes from Sanjiv on four occasions, but it was always late when she discovered them, and the following days seemed to be over before she remembered to respond.
Tonks's colleagues refrained from ridiculing her for a parental visit, but remained no more than cordial, and she wasn't surprised to learn that the three of them had a regular card game to which she hadn't been invited on Wednesdays and Fridays. Wednesday night, she'd stayed in her room and written (and erased) another letter to Remus; Friday, she opted to go down to the pub and have dinner with other boarders, maybe pass a word or two with Aberforth.
The other boarders were involved in an argument and Aberforth turned out to be quite harried with the rest of the Friday evening crowd, so she curled up in a booth toward the back of the pub with a battered old Enchanted Encounters paperback, this one about a plucky young witch who followed her lover to the Americas, where he ignored her to seek his fortune and she quite unfortunately ran afoul of Muggle witch-hunters in a sleepy village in Massachusetts Bay. Choosing--for reasons that only made sense in a Fifi LaFolle novel--to not simply Apparate out, she was to stand trial in a Muggle court, where her lover was to defend her. It was quite convoluted, and by chapter four it had become apparent that a mermaid colony was to be somehow key to the thing, but it was a pleasant way to spend an evening. Tonks had been a bit trepiditious about it, as she and Remus had spent a good deal of time reading a romance to one another last year and she thought it might be like picking at a scab, but she was glad to note that something that had always been a guilty pleasure of hers was, in point of fact, still a pleasure.
"I knew it."
The book tipped down, and Tonks looked over it to see Sanjiv, who was shaking his head at her.
"See, I just knew that if I saw some buxom witch standing on a rocky seashore, it had to be you behind it." He picked up the book, read the cover copy, and winced. "Don't they ever live inland?"
Tonks took the book back. "I read one set out in the Australian desert a couple of years ago. And another up in the Alps. Though there was a lake in that one, and she spent quite a lot of time wandering around the banks."
"Don't they ever live in the city?"
"I think that's against the rules. It's not an attractive place to pine."
"So that's why you came to Hogsmeade. More picturesque pining spots."
Tonks grinned. "I was thinking about trying the top of the rise on the far side of town. It just has a couple of scraggly trees, and I'd make quite the figure there at sunset."
"Yes, very dramatic. You know these things are very bad for you, don't you? You'll just get your brain twisted up."
"Thank you for the advice."
"You're coming to the city."
"I've been leaving you notes all week. You haven't answered them."
"I keep getting back late. I didn't think you'd appreciate the interruptions."
Sanjiv rolled his eyes. "You overestimate my social appeal. I mainly meant to inform you that I was going to abduct you tonight."
"If you won't make time for your friends, we'll just have to turn to a life of crime to get you back into the swing of things." He sat down across from her and took her mulled mead, downing what was left in a gulp. "Maddie and Daffy were going to come, but Maddie's mum is getting some kind of volunteering award tonight, so they left it to me to fill in for all of us. Come on, stand up."
"Can I finish my supper?"
"No. We'll eat more in Edinburgh. Stand up."
Rolling her eyes, Tonks stood.
Sanjiv wrinkled his nose. "No, that won't do. D'you have something more Muggle-ish? For the city?"
"No arguments. Hup."
She pulled herself out of the booth and started to trudge upstairs. "Where are we going?"
"I don't know yet. Somewhere where they play the music very loud and people dress in colorful clothes and no one bloody well Knows Who. I'll break my variety of hearts, you break your variety of hearts, and we'll laugh about it in my parents' kitchen later."
"I'm not really in a heartbreaking mood."
"Good, so I know you won't break mine by trying to beg off."
There wasn't any point to arguing with him, so she dove into her wardrobes without much enthusiasm. Sanjiv ended up choosing her outfit--something she'd bought for a London club last year, with a short skirt and a checkered silk top--and waited impatiently while she tangled her fingers in her hair trying to force it into shapes that would have come a lot more easily if she could just morph the way the follicles lay.
They Apparated to a sheltered part of the back garden of his Muggle parents' home in Edinburgh just after sunset, went inside long enough for him to raid his box of Muggle money, and then headed out to a bustling, cobbled street lined with an eclectic collection of buildings that had been converted to clubs and pubs. Young people in clothes that made Tonks's outfit look quite conservative roamed from one to another, draped over each other and laughing. A great deal of laugher was coming from a club fronted with a series of narrow arches, and Tonks was tempted, but Sanjiv pulled her past it, insisting that she should be moving around, not sitting an audience while someone else told jokes. He finally chose a madly crowded place that played cheerful, brainless music, and dragged her out onto the dance floor, where people were hopping around to a choreographed sort of dance that required throwing their arms in all directions, then jumping a quarter turn and doing the whole thing over again.
"Front, front," Sanjiv said, pushing Tonks's arms out to the beat. "Side, side... hip, hip... arse, arse... Shake it and jump...." He jumped behind her, twisting her around a half step.
She landed on his foot, and tripped forward, losing track of the beat entirely, but laughing. "Sanjiv, dancing and I don't..."
"Front, front... side, side..."
He didn't allow her to stop dancing, or complain at any point when she stepped on his foot, punched him in the hip with an errant arm, or knocked him into one of the little table surrounding the dance floor. She had almost gotten it by the time the song finished playing. Her face felt red and hot, but she was laughing and it felt good.
A woman with bright purple hair caught Sanjiv after the dance, and her girlfriend, a bubbly thing with blond hair teased into a high spike, dragged Tonks into a fast dance to something that sounded very electronic and not particularly deep. After the girls, Tonks found herself dancing with a strange, funny man with a nasal accent she couldn't identify off the top of her head--he said he was from Brooklyn--and then with a ridiculous man of Remus's age who was trying to behave like the university students around him. Sanjiv caught her again for another dance. He finally allowed her to step off the dance floor long enough to go to the bar and get a drink.
He looked ostentatiously at his watch, leading her into a secluded little booth. "Look at that. Only an hour, and you're laughing."
"Yes, thank you."
He waved his wand surreptitiously and drew a Shade Charm, obscuring the booth from view. "Try your hair."
"I don't know..."
"Come on. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. I like the brown all right."
"I promised Maddie I'd make you try if I could get you laughing."
"What are you lot talking about when I'm not there?"
"Mostly about how to bring you back up." He handed her a mirror.
She took it skeptically and looked into it. Her hair was starting to flag agaisnt the pins she'd put in it, and it could use something to pick it up. "All right," she said, and concentrated. Color rushed up from the roots, and, to her delight, it stood on end and filled up the clips and decorations she'd put on it. "Oh, look! It's me!"
"I'm a miracle worker. Back to the dance floor."
"No, no, no..."
But arguing was pointless.
They stayed at the club for most of the evening, dancing with nearly anything that moved, finally running out into the fog when a drunken university student tried to pick a fight with Sanjiv. Tonks sat down on a bench near a bus stop and opened her arms to the chilly night, welcoming the chance to cool down.
Sanjiv sat beside her, looking very self-satisfied. "You know," he said, "it's a damned shame that I don't find you remotely attractive."
"Not really. Then I'd have to bring up that you're abysmally ugly, and everything would get awkward."
He grinned. "Come on. Let's go steal my parents' food."
Her hair had faded to brown by the time they reached his parents' home (his father started to say something about the lack of color, but out of the corner of her eye, Tonks caught a sharp hand movement cutting him off). The four of them watched television, which was quite enjoyable until after the highlights of a football championship, when a gossip show offered post-mortem on a royal divorce. Tonks hadn't been keeping up with the Muggle news, and it had come as a bit of a shock, as she remembered watching the wedding with her parents and pretending that she had the pretty carriage and fur-trimmed dress.
Sanjiv switched the television off in a rush. His parents said their goodnights, casting worried glances in Tonks's direction, and disappeared into their room.
Tonks put her hand on her head, and realized that the curls and body had disappeared entirely. She winced. "Well, it was nice while it lasted."
Sanjiv took a deep breath and sat down on the sofa across from her. "Tonks... look, joking and kidnapping aside, I'm worried about you. Maddie's worried, Daffy's worried, your parents are worried, and now my parents are worried."
"I can't tell you. I would if I could."
"You don't need to give me details."
"Someone I love is pushing me away."
"He thinks so."
"And you don't?"
"I can take care of myself. Why doesn't he know I can take care of myself?"
Sanjiv started to say something, then seemed to change his mind and wrapped her up in a knitted blanket. "Get some sleep."