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Shades, Chapter 19: Guard Duty, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 19: Guard Duty, pt. 2
Okay. Enough time spent sticking my tongue out at the monitor. Nose back to the grindstone. :)

Among Tonks's many and varied duties this year, Dumbledore has suggested that, given her location in Hogsmeade, she be the point person for the Order to bring in extra people to guard the school while he's gone. She reaches Bill, and the two of them head up toward the school, giving her a chance to explain why it looked to Fleur like she'd snubbed her. Bill understands. They talk about what to do about Alderman. I left them coming up, Disillusioned, from the tunnel under the Whomping Willow.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

They didn't talk on the way to the castle--it wouldn't be productive to be Disillusioned if people heard them wandering about--and when McGonagall let them in through the staff room, there was no opportunity to do much more than give assignments. The teachers would maintain their usual schedule--which, luckily, involved Snape being around to watch the Slytherins, though he glowered when Bill pointed this out--and Bill and Tonks would patrol the corridors until they were certain the last of the students were in their Houses for the night. After that, they would take up stations at vulnerable points. Tonks would watch the Owlery. McGonagall said that she and Dumbledore had been working on a new Marauder's Map, but it wasn't working properly yet, so they would simply have to trust their observational skills.

They fanned out after a brief talk, and Tonks found herself wandering the corridors, lurking out of the traffic paths and watching the students scurry about their evening business. A part of her still ached to be with them, worrying about O.W.L.s and Quidditch (it took her all of ten minutes to get a detailed idea of Gryffindor's recent win over Slytherin, in which Ron Weasley had apparently played the most prominent role). She deliberately kept her patrol wide-ranging, spending the minimal amount of time outside the Hufflepuff entrance. A house elf scrambled out of the kitchens as she passed them. He was wearing several woolen hats and leading another lurching elf, this one in a stained dress. They cut in front of her without noticing her and he manhandled her up a set of stairs. Something clattered, and a butterbeer bottle rolled to Tonks's feet. She picked it up and set it carefully beside the painting that led into the kitchens. She'd never given much thought to the secret lives of house elves--she'd certainly never had one around--until Kreacher, and Kreacher hadn't exactly endeared them to her. Wrinkling her nose, she realized he was probably on the other side of the painting, grumbling through his duties and wishing for his glory days at Auntie's.

She went upstairs.

Two Indian girls--twins, Tonks was fairly sure--were sitting alone in the Great Hall, picking at empty plates, pretending to dawdle over dinner. She guessed they were in different houses, stealing a little sister time. Their voices echoed in the cavernous space.

"...canaries!" one of them said, her voice rising. "A whole flock of them that she Conjured. Dived on him like a whole team of Seekers going for a Snitch."

"I heard that," the other said, "but I didn't believe it. I can't believe a smart girl like Hermione--"

"Oh, she's always been this way--"

"--I mean, I went out with him, remember? Pitiful." The disbelieving twin shook her head. "I wouldn't even wish Ron Weasley on Lavender."

Her sister snorted. "Well, he's on Lavender, right enough. Honestly, Padma, I can't turn around without tripping over them. And the dormitory... I don't suppose you'd mind switching places with me for a bit, so I can get some sleep? The freeze-out in there is going to give me pneumonia."

"Do I look like I've lost my mind?" Padma asked, reaching for a sugar bowl. She sprinkled it over what might have been fruit. "So, whose side are you on?"

"Do you swear on our twinship that you won't tell Lavender?"

"Hermione's?" Padma snickered. "I'd say that makes you a very good friend to Lavender."

Tonks shook her head and moved on to the hall, feeling sorry for Hermione, and more sorry for whoever Lavender was, as she was going to be dumped. One of the twins seemed to hear her and turned her head, but wasn't suspicious enough to follow up.

They need to be more careful, Tonks thought, as she had on the first night of school. I could be bloody anyone sneaking around here Disillusioned.

She ducked into the library, where older students were pushing to finish their assignments. Hermione was staring rather blankly at a book and Tonks at first thought it was because she was upset about whatever was happening with Ron, but then a teacup appeared in midair, steaming, and she realized that Hermione was just practicing non-verbal Conjuring spells. Doing right well at them, too. Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom were hunched over a large book of defensive spells, muttering about how to do them. She heard Luna say, "It's such a pity Dumbledore's Army isn't meeting this year," then moved on through. The Slytherin girl she'd seen with Draco Malfoy outside the Hogwarts Express--Parkinson, she remembered, probably some relation of Paul Parkinson, who'd been a bit of an idiot in her own year--had commandeered a table, where she was running several objects through simultaneous charms. A quill and a bit of parchment were doing a tango. Parkinson looked delighted, and Tonks had to admit, it was a nice piece of work. The handsome boy who'd been with her before was with her again, looking quite annoyed at the display. Malfoy was nowhere nearby.

Dumbledore hadn't wanted her to look too closely at Malfoy, which was frustrating--he'd definitely given the impression that Malfoy was the one who needed watching most closely. She hoped Snape was keeping an eye on him. Both eyes.

Twenty minutes later, the staff started to steer the students up to their Houses, and Tonks occupied herself with following the stragglers, remembering the patterns of behavior that usually meant there were wandering plans afoot. She saw a pair of mousy-haired Gryffindor boys making a bid for freedom, and magically shut several doors in their path before they got the idea that it wasn't wise to be wandering around. She followed them back to the Fat Lady's portrait and watched them climb inside.

When the castle seemed reasonably secure, McGonagall sent her Patronus with word to go to the other locations. Tonks trudged up to the Owlery, which was freezing in the late November night. She did a warming spell, and several owls--including the white one that she thought belonged to Harry--nuzzled up against her to get into its sphere. She petted a few of them absently while she scanned the sky. From here, she could see the neat demarcation of the Hogwarts security, as the mist above the village stopped in an unnaturally straight line at the walls.

Just before midnight, a tiny owl burst up and fluttered around as the door opened. Tonks raised her wand at the shadowy shape, but didn't break the Disillusionment spell.

"Miss Tonks?" Minerva McGonagall said.

Tonks narrowed her eyes and didn't speak.

McGonagall smiled. "Good. When we were in the Forest, I told you about trying to run away from school."

Tonks made herself visible again. "Hello, Profe... Minerva. Sorry, that's going to take practice."

"Well, you should get more of it." She Conjured two tall chairs and set them by the ledge to watch the grounds. "Hagrid came to patrol for me so I could sleep a bit, but I'm not particularly tired. How are you?"

"Oh, I'm well enough."

"I've been worried since that Dementor attack. Poppy Pomfrey said that you haven't checked in with her."

"Oh... I saw my mum. She's got me doing a Query Charm every day. Except that I really only do it once a week or so. There doesn't seem to be any permanent damage. I didn't mean to worry Madam Pomfrey." Tonks looked curiously at her visitor. "Did you need something?"

"I thought you might like company."

"Oh. Thank you, yes."

McGonagall pulled up a satchel. "I brought tea and biscuits. You never did stop by."

"I seem to be letting down quite a few people on that count. I missed shopping with Fleur Delacour as well."

"You should have gone."

Tonks raised her eyebrows. "I wouldn't think you'd be enthusiastic about it."

"I don't care at all for shopping myself, but you ought to do something you enjoy. You're running yourself ragged. And Miss Delacour could, as I understand it, use friends. She made none among the girls in the year she spent with us. It would do both of you good."

All of this was said in the same curt tone McGonagall used to teach, and Tonks fought off an urge to ask if it would be on the N.E.W.T. She smiled. "I'll keep it in mind."

They sat together without saying anything, drinking tea and nibbling at shortbread biscuits. After awhile, McGonagall set her teacup down on the stone ledge. "Remus Lupin is a capable man," she said. "He'll return safely."

"Thank you." Tonks finished her tea. "I'm not the only one adding a few duties, though. Remus wants to..." She took a deep breath. "Prof... Minerva... can the Order help a whole family disappear?"

McGonagall frowned deeply. "Miss Tonks, what is going on?"

"Well, I..." She stopped and stood up. "What in the world...?"

"I see it," McGonagall said gravely.

At the far side of the lake, just beyond the line of Hogwarts security, the mist was flashing deep red, as if fire was straining up toward the sky.

"Do you have a broomstick?" Tonks asked.


"Do you have an extra?"

McGonagall nodded. She pointed her wand at the door, and a moment later two brooms flew up into the Owlery. Ignoring the startled hoots and one nasty scratch from a talon as she brushed past an eagle owl, Tonks and McGonagall dove from the ledge and skimmed across the lake toward whatever was happening on the other side.
17 comments or Leave a comment
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: March 6th, 2006 06:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Minerva on a broom! YES! I'm sure she was once a Quidditch player!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 6th, 2006 12:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, totally. A severe daredevil, too. :)
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: March 7th, 2006 12:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know if you get much reading done at the Quill, but this has been a fun mystery story lately, about Minerva's childhood:
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 6th, 2006 06:33 am (UTC) (Link)
The world needs more McGonagall!! :)

...and I needed more Shades tonight - thank you.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 6th, 2006 12:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome. I like McGonagall, too. She needs more canon page time.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: March 6th, 2006 06:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I haven't had much to say lately, but I just wanted to let you know that I'm still reading and enjoying. Where are we now in relation to canon? Reading this episodically makes it hard sometimes to remember.
From: tunxeh Date: March 6th, 2006 08:17 am (UTC) (Link)
But this is one of the easiest ones to place against canon, since it has Tonks catching up with all the Hogwarts gossip. It's just after Ron takes up with Lavender and Hermione attacks him with canaries.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: March 6th, 2006 12:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
And I'm sure Tonks was probably thinking the same thing I was thinking: "Yeesh, and they wonder why I'm so glad to be out of High School."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 6th, 2006 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, no kidding.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 6th, 2006 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's just after Ron takes up with Lavender and Hermione attacks him with canaries.

Yeah, that was my canon-check. It's really about a week later, but nothing else much happens in November.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 6th, 2006 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, and Tonks wonders about the private lives of House Elves. It took me a moment to realize that the sight of a House Elf (male) leading away a tipsy House Elf (female) to someplace private and both of them dressed up in what looks like the House Elf version of not-on-duty clothes might imply something a little different to the casual observer than it does to someone who knows the whole Winky the alcoholic story.

persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: March 6th, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
*pause* ...I didn't think of that until I saw your comment. Oh dear. I need a brain.
aebhel From: aebhel Date: March 6th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really liked this chapter. I thought it was a very interesting way to weave Tonks into canon a little more without having her interrupt anything. And I really like the way you write her interactions with McGonagall. So many people dismiss McGonagall, but you've turned her into a fascinating character with a backstory all her own. Great job.
solarisday From: solarisday Date: March 7th, 2006 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Hello. You are one of the final nominees in the category of Best Novel-Length Fic in a Het category at hposcars. The winner will be announced on Sunday, March 12.
faeriemaiden From: faeriemaiden Date: March 7th, 2006 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I really love the sister moment you have between Padma and Parvati. I haven't seen much fanfiction that's even touched on their relationship. Nice way to let us know what's going on in the rest of the world. :)
From: _kneebiter Date: March 7th, 2006 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Was there any followup on Aurors looking into Travers on account of Emmeline's attempted last message? The whole bit with Snape being relied on by the Order brought it back to mind, and I was curious.

I am inordinately pleased at the Patil cameos as well as the other little snippets of Hogwarts daily life; Parvati's my favorite minor character (unless Neville and Luna still count). So many people forget that people Harry doesn't see exist.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 7th, 2006 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
No. And I think Tonks is going to feel EXCEPTIONALLY guilty about that later on. She got swept out of London and assigned to other things, and the last she heard was that Robards hadn't found any traitors in the Ministry. I am planning to bring it back for an encore before the end, but the frustrating part of writing in a non-Harry plot is that they can't be very successful!
17 comments or Leave a comment