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So here's chapter two :) Enjoy, and let me know what you thought about it. Please?




Nymphadora Tonks was at a loss. Everything seemed to fall apart. She’d lost her cousin who she had just come to get to know, and last June they’d lost Dumbledore. Then Mad-Eye, and now the Minister and the Ministry. Nobody seemed to know what to do.

They were still at the Burrow, or rather on the slope in front of it, in the tent that had been erected to shelter the wedding guests of Bill and Fleur. After hearing Kingsley’s message, lots of the guests had left in panic, or at least those who got away in the split second they’d had. She could still see Avery’s leering expression as he had questioned her about the whereabouts of Harry Potter, or the Undesirable Number One as he’d been christened. They’d basked in it, she knew it. None of them had been outright accused of anything, but if the Death Eaters didn’t suspect where the Weasleys’ and their few remaining guests loyalty lay they deserved to be quartered and hung. And where was her husband? She worried about him, so much. He’d been so moody lately, one should think he was the one expecting a baby.

“They’re gone,” Arthur announced in a flat voice as he stepped out of the door. He’d gone to check the house for stragglers or spying devices.

“Constant vigilance, Arthur,” Tonks tried to joke in a weak voice.

He grimaced at her, then turned to Molly, who hovering expectantly at his side. “I’ll send them a message to stay where they are, for now. The house seems safe, but I bet my collection of plugs they keep tabs on us from now on.”

Tonks immediately understood who ‘they’ were. As Arthur’s silver weasel patronus streaked out of his wand and vanished just before it reached the newly-cast boundaries, the light illuminated Remus's serious face as he stepped out of the house too. She immediately stepped next to him and took his hand. She thought he stiffened for the briefest second, but she must have been mistaken. For she always felt safer next to him.

It was then that she caught sight of another patronus, this one quite familiar to her. Andromeda Tonks’s eagle patronus sailed effortlessly through the protective wards, landing at her feet. We got home safely. Wards down as well. Bellatrix called to ‘question’ us. We are okay. Received summons to appear before the Muggleborn Registration Committee.

She stared, uncomprehendingly, at the spot her mother’s patronus had been. It was terribly predictable that Bellatrix wouldn’t let the opportunity slip by her to take a shot at her disowned sister, and Tonks was sure there was more to that visit than mere questioning. If the ‘Ministry officials’ at the Burrow had been rude and spiteful, then what would Bellatrix have been like?

“What’s the Muggleborn Registration Commission?” The voice of her old classmate Charlie brought her out of her stupor, and she focused back on the present.

“Beast and Beings Commission for Muggleborns, I should say,” Remus guessed flatly, pent-up frustration and bitterness coming off him in waves. “They sure don’t waste time remodelling the Ministry.”

Arthur nodded, deep creases on his fore-head. “And I fear it’s not the last change.”

Nymphadora couldn’t think about that now. “Do you think it’s safe visiting my parents now?” she asked her husband in small voice.

He started a bit, and took a few seconds to think about it. “It’s likely they’re watching the houses they searched. Even though, no one can say anything against you visiting your parents. Let’s attempt it.”

Nymphadora nodded gratefully. Charlie offered to accompany them, which they declined. After promising to sent word and a quick discussion with the working adults whether it made sense to even go to work, Remus and Tonks left the Burrow, a last steeling look passing between them before they apparated.

*

The wedding had been yesterday. Only 24 hours ago, everything seemed tough, but still they had managed. Now, nothing seemed safe anymore. Nymphadora would go back to work today, see if there even still was work for her anymore. Her parents had been visibly shaken yesterday, but seemed alright on the whole, and when they had come back home afterwards, they found their own wards collapsed and someone had clearly been there.

“I’m leaving, sweetheart.” She tried to sound as cheerful as possible as she hugged Remus tightly from behind. He was still sitting at the breakfast table.

Instead of offering her his lips for a kiss goodbye, he grasped her arm and looked her intently in the eye. “You don’t have to go. Not in your condition. Call in sick.”

“We’ve been over this. Several times, Remus. I’ll be fine, and it’ll be evening before you know it.” She wasn’t so sure herself, but the last thing she wanted was to increase the worry that was clearly evident on his face.

She’d found out some days ago that she was expecting a child, but it was still early on. They had intended to share the news once the wedding was over, so as not to spoil Bill and Fleur’s big day. Tonks had felt over the moon about it, and hadn’t been able to keep the smile off her face. She thought Remus might still be in shock because he had been strangely absent-minded over the last days, but she took his words as a sign that he cared. But as long as she could, she would do her best to thwart those Death Eaters.

She hugged her husband once more, breathing in his familiar scent before hurrying outside, before she could give in to the urge to just stick her head in the sand, and stay with him. But that would never do, they needed to know what was going on.



When Nymphadora entered the Atrium, the usually bustling place seemed strangely subdued. No chattering ambitious hopefuls, no busy-looking employees. Instead, a strange air of apprehension. The way to the lift seemed to take ages, and the knots in her belly tightened. Her Auror instincts told her to turn around on the spot, and when the lift came to a halt in front of her, she knew why. Travers. Travers the Death Eater in the middle of the lift, as if he belonged there. Her fingers were itching for her wand, but then she caught sight of Kingsley who was in the lift as welll, giving her the briefest signal with his eyes. She braced herself and got in, trying to not let it show how wound up she was.

She got out on Level Two, heading for the Auror Department. She felt like there were a thousand eyes on her, and many faces were unfamiliar to her. Hammering noises could be heard from Magical Law Enforcement, and boxes were carried in and out. When she entered her department, it was a lot less busy than usual. Some cubicles seemed to have been deserted in a hurry, others were completely cleaned out.

“What’s going on?” she mouthed to her neighbour as she slid into her chair.

“Tonks!” David Romney gasped, albeit not too loudly. “It’s bad, and no one knows what to expect. – You are a half-blood, right?”

Tonks was surprised by the question, as Romney had never stricken her as prejudiced. Seeing Gavain Robards, Scrimgeour’s successor as Head Auror and apparently still in that function if his badge was any indication, she wandered over to him to report back.

“Auror Tonks! Back already? I suppose you haven’t done the evaluation then?”

She only shook her head. What ‘evaluation’?

She was directed towards one of the conference rooms. There wasn’t the usual rows of chairs with the Podium up front like for their briefings, but only a grand desk with a hard-backed chair in front of it. One eyebrow rose as she likened it to the courtrooms down on Level Ten.

Seconds later, the door opened and Albert Runcorn, one of the more extremist members of the Wizengamot, entered. He beckoned for her to sit down, and pretentiously took a seat behind the desk, shuffling his papers.

“Nymphadora Tonks, is that right?”

Tonks nodded and wanted to add more, but he didn’t let her speak.

“Ancestry?”

Now both eyebrows shot up at the sharp tone. But she kept quiet about it and answered, “My father is Ted Tonks, my mother Andromeda Tonks.”

“Née Black?” he enquired further, looking down at his file. At her confirmation, he concluded, “A half-blood then. That wouldn’t be too bad, if one’s conduct was acceptable. – Say, Auror Tonks, where does your loyalty lie?”

Careful now, she decided on saying, “My loyalties are with everyone who deserves them.”

“Like your husband?” His gaze was piercing now, calculating. “He is registered in the Beast Division, isn’t he?” She refrained from closing her eyes in agitation, as it would only betray her frustration. So it was official now, classification as Being was no longer an option. She should have expected it.

“I want to be honest, Nymphadora,” he leaned closer in an overly intimate fashion. “Your aunt hates you. But if you choose the right side, choose to renounce ties with your Mudblood father and that mutt of a husband, you’d be an asset for us. After all, you are quite talented. And he would hold his hand over you.”

It cost her all her will power to stay seated, her fingernails digging into her palms and her teeth gritting together. How dare he! Remus and her dad were the most honourable men she knew, and the same couldn’t be said of any of the Death Eaters or pureblood extremists, at least those she had met. And if that wasn’t enough, her dear aunt had tried to kill her more than once.

He’d left her alone, with a last “Think about it!” that barely penetrated the angry haze she was in.

She stayed seated for a couple more minutes, trying to calm her breathing as her mind went into overdrive. Going conform with what they wanted wasn’t an option, but she doubted she’d make it even to the Atrium if anyone suspected she was bailing.

“I’ll get through this,” she told herself under her breath, over and over.

Calmer, she went out to the main area again. Runcorn was talking to the Head Auror. She nodded at him, keeping her face carefully blank. She hoped he didn’t know Legilimency, otherwise he’d see the traitorous thoughts. As she sat down again in her cubicle, she swept her eyes around. Auror Fox was not there. Nor was Smithson. Dawlish sat diligently at his desk, scribbling away. Now that she had a better opportunity, she thought Robards eyes looked rather glossy. Imperius curse? Probably.

“Going to the loo,” she announced to no one in particular. She needed a break.

She took five minutes where she splashed her face with water, but had to return eventually. On her way back, she ran into Arthur Weasley.

He hailed her with a file, and she thankfully leaned over it as if reading the page. “They’ve questioned me. They want me to severe ties with my family.” She hissed, her temper still too close at the surface.

“They’re singling us out. Tonks, not here.” he cautioned her quietly. “How about a cup of tea with me and Molly tonight?”

Tonks knew that herself. Pull yourself together, she told herself. Drawing a deep breath, she straightened up again. “Seems legit to me, Mr. Weasley,” she said more loudly, indicating the file, and then turned away with a small affirmative nod in answer to his question and left.

It was one of the longest days she’d lived through yet, and she had to endure many a ‘visit’ from Albert Runcorn.

*
Nymphadora apparated to the front-step of Remus’s cottage – now hers as well, as she reminded herself. Because he was a registered werewolf, they weren’t allowed to put up anti-apparition wards and only the most basic of protective wards around the little house.

She hated it so much, the restrictions their so-called government put on people like him. She could understand if the likes of Greyback caused fear among the wizarding community, but why could they not see that had less to do with him being a werewolf, and everything with being malicious. She had prepared to go against the Ministry and fight for her husband’s right. Only in the current climate, that would be even more futile. And ironically not because of his lycanthropy as before, but because of his former connection to Dumbledore and the late James Potter.

She found him in the sitting room reading a book on the couch. Approaching from behind, she gave him a hug, and asked about his day when her greeting kiss didn’t land on his cheek as intended but into the air.

“Not much to do for me, is there?” She dismissed his waspish tone as cabin fever; they’d often enough seen it with Sirius. She supposed he was starting to feel equally as useless.

Nymphadora needed a change of topic, and started chatting about the only happy thing she could think of at the moment – the tiny being in her stomach. “I’m hoping to find out the gender. Usually, I’d just go to St. Mungo’s, have them find out … But with things as they are, it would probably spill over, and no one knows yet at the Ministry. – Do you want to eat? I have the strangest urge to cook something. Who knows, I might learn it yet, even though it’ll be nowhere as good as Molly’s.”

“Not hungry,” he said, extracting himself from her arms, then cleared his throat. “Sorry, I had tea earlier. Kingsley’s sent a message, he wants us to meet later.”

Before he disappeared through the door, Remus turned around briefly, “You shouldn’t have to do this,” and was gone.

Huh? Do what? Cooking? The baby? Nymphadora thought confusedly, before her thoughts turned back to her day. Surveillance was tight, and Arthur and her had been constantly on their toes. And we have to be, she thought, not many Order members left. They used the talking patronuses from time to time, only speaking on code. Although Dumbledore’s alteration of the spell seemed still only known to Order members, she didn’t trust Snape to have kept it quiet. Why should he? The questions chased each other in her head, and she only managed to grab an apple before Remus returned to remind her it was time for them to leave.

*

Tonks passed through the new protective charms of the Burrow, closely followed by Remus. Arthur was waiting for her, and completed some complicated wand movements.

“Sorry, I’ve altered the wards so one of the inhabitants has to put them down personally. Not exactly Ministry-approved, but I can put up with that risk. Elphias and Kingsley are already there.”

Tonks and Kingsley related what had transpired during the day at the Ministry. Kingsley was still shadowing the Prime Minister as assigned by Dumbledore and Scrimgeour, but how long until the new Ministry got wind of it, or acted on it? Minister Scrimgeour had personally authorised it, after the Ministry finally admitted to the truth. The alternative would have been to leave the Muggle Prime Minister unprotected, which could prove disastrous.

And how many of them were there still? With Dumbledore and Mad-Eye, the Order had lost their most powerful members, the leaders.

She could take it no longer and escaped to the sitting room. She thought she caught movement at the door, and called out wearily, “Come back in, I can’t blame you for wanting to know what’s going on.”

Hesitantly, Ginny’s figure appeared in the door, asking, “How did you know I was there?”

She hadn’t known it was Ginny, but that was all the same. “Secret of the Auror trade,” she said, a ghost of a smirk on her face.

Ginny watched her sceptically for a moment before shrugging it off and taking a seat next to Tonks on the couch.

“What’s going to happen to us, Tonks?” she asked, bluntly. Tonks had to admire the girl’s nerve. She wasn’t breaking, but addressed the matter head on.

Tonks shrugged helplessly.

Ginny pondered this for a bit, but when she lifted her head again, she had a fierce look in her eyes. “I hope wherever Harry is, he’ll manage what he set out to do.”

Tonks considered her. “You trust him that much?”

“You don’t?” Ginny replied. “Of course, I do”, she continued decisively. “Wouldn’t you trust Remus the same way? – And I’m not being naïve or young, Tonks. That’s long since over. I just know he’ll be back when it’s time to fight. And whatever he’s doing, I think it’s something Dumbledore told him to do.”

Tonks had no answer for that.


The discussion honed in on their current situation. The homes of known Order members and many of their safe-houses had been searched for the whereabouts of Harry Potter, the inhabitants just having gotten there in time after the hasty departure from the Burrow. After Kingsley, Tonks and Arthur had given their accounts about what had transpired that day in the Ministry – Kingsley related everything he knew about the newly-appointed Minister Pius Thicknese, and his suspicion about a well-placed Imperius - they brought up and dismissed several courses of action.

“There’s nothing for it. We can’t know what’s going to happen, and we’re not enough to take any effective action at the moment. As hard as it might be, we have to wait for a more suitable point of time.” Kingsley was breathing hard, as if he couldn’t believe what he was saying.

“Any news about Potter?” Elphias Doge questioned.

Several headshakes meet this, and Kingsley went on, “We believe he’s been given a mission by Dumbledore himself. Though why we can’t help is beyond me. – Remus, did he mention anything to you?”

The man addressed didn’t look up from where he was drumming his fingers on the table, but only shook his head.

“Then I move to conclude this meeting for now. We think communicating via our talking patronuses is still safe as it was Dumbledore’s twist of the spell. Although I cannot fathom why Snape hasn’t told about that yet, and they prevented it long ago. Finding the remaining members of the Order must be top-priority, I should assume. – We’ll try to come up with something else, and meetings only in high-emergencies. For now, we’re all on our own.”

The meeting broke up soon after, no one was in the mood to linger for much longer. Although they didn’t know when and if they would be together like this again.

“Reminds me too much of the first war,” Hestia Jones was saying to Remus as she vanished into the dark night ahead of them.

“Let’s go home,” Tonks whispered, taking his arm. They went to bed silently that night, making love with fervour as if it was their last time. And with things as they were, every day could very well be their last.

*

When Tonks opened her eyes some hours later, pale sunlight was streaming through the gap in the curtains. The bed beside her was vacant, and seemed to have been for some time, because the sheets had already grown cold.

Focusing her eyes, she saw the parchment on Remus’s pillow.

The words swam in front of her eyes, she tried to blink them away, willing for the words to change, trying to tell herself she had misread something.

How had she not seen it coming? She had taken his reclusiveness to be due to the fall of the Ministry, Dumbledore’s and Moody’s deaths. They had had a discussion, which involved the old argument about him being a werewolf and his fear the child would be affected too. Hadn’t they settled that matter, over and over again?

But here it was again, how he didn’t want to drag her down, and how sorry he was for giving his curse to an innocent child?

“You don’t know that,” she sobbed, as she rocked back and forth. “You don’t know that, you stubborn git. Please come back to me. Remus.”

Rationally, she knew he couldn’t hear her. She held the letter to her chest as the tears flowed freely.

Normally, she wouldn’t have rested until she found him, letting her pain and anger drive her. Yet if she knew anything about him, it was that he could make himself invisible if he wanted to. Just as he had written, “Go back to your parents. They’ll be delighted to have you back, and you are better off without me anyway. I won’t be coming back, but my thoughts’ll stay with you forever.

Always yours, Remus


“You idiot!” she croaked under tears. “But why then, would you just up and leave us?”

She went to work that day, keeping up pretences, but inside, she felt terribly vacant, just like the other side of the bed that morning.

*
Arthur, Molly, Bill and Fleur, Charlie, Fred, George and Ginny were in the Burrow’s kitchen, serious expressions marring their faces. In the midst of the table was Ginny’s and Ron’s Hogwarts letters, crumbled but then smoothed out again. Letters, signed by Minerva McGonagall, had arrived as usual at the end of July, containing the usual shopping lists and a reminder of the Hogwarts Express leaving on time. But there had been new ones. Signed by Alecto and Amycus Carrow, with the requirement to provide a documented family history.

At first, they had thrown them away, seriously contemplating keeping Ginny home. Arthur wasn’t going to send his only daughter into the Death Eaters’ hands. With the Death Eaters in control and without Dumbledore, he didn’t dare imagine what would become of Hogwarts.

It came as another blow when only hours after the dispatching of the letters came a ministerial decree that attendance would be mandatory. He had still been prepared to risk it.

Today, he’d come home, disillusioned once again.

“They’ve arrested Robert Gerard, one of the Unspeakables. For crimes against the true wizarding race. He attempted to leave the country with his son, that’s all he did. And they're pure-blood.” He was still in shock about it.

Fred, George and Charlie were loudly making suggestions how they could trick that new decree. Ginny had lowered her head while being hugged by Molly, who kept saying it wouldn’t come to that. Bill and Fleur were looking at each other, seemingly holding a conversation by looks only.

Arthur had known it would turn worse, but he’d never expected that kind of helplessness. He’d experienced Voldemort’s first rise to power, and even more closely the recent one. But it was whole new level now; with the Ministry officially backing his actions. If it hadn’t proved to be so disastrous for him personally, he’d have had to admire Voldemort’s move not to seize power personally but through his puppets, because this might have caused stronger resistance from those who could still pretend that the darkest wizard who had ever lived hadn’t taken over.

“Dad?” His baby girl’s voice got his attention, and he wished he could reassure her, as he always had.

“We have to think it through. Gin, I – I wish I could tell you you don’t have to go. Let’s not rush things. – Boys!” he boomed to nip his sons’ objections in the bud. “Don’t you think I feel the same? Do you think it’s easy for me keeping my head down? We can’t go rush things now. They’d massacre us, without a single thought. I – I need some space.”

Feeling incredibly inadequate, Arthur left the kitchen and headed for his shed. Once there, he brought his fist, which he hadn’t noticed he’d clenched until his fingernails dug into his palms, down hard on the table where he’d sat hours tinkering with Muggle appliances. What was he supposed to do? Who could tell them what to do? Order members were picked one by one, with no apparent explanation of how they had been discovered; protections were failing unless cast illegally – for it had been declared thus to cast wards without Ministry approval.

“Harry, Ron, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, I hope you, at least, know what you’re doing. And do it fast.” He had every confidence in his son and the boy he regarded as one of his own. Even though he didn’t have a clue what it was they were doing.


*

Kingsley hadn’t known he could function on so little sleep. He had returned to the Ministry, resuming his role as spy for the Order. Arthur and Tonks were still there too, although Tonks looked like she wasn’t there half of the time. This whole situation seemed to be taking a toll on her; or was there something more? Thinks weren’t looking good for them, though. In a few weeks, Hogwarts would open up again. There hadn’t been announcements to the contrary, no there was even talk that it would become mandatory. On top of his Ministry job, he shared the duty of guarding the Muggle Prime Minister with Hestia Jones and Dedalus Diggle now. Hestia was doing the day shifts, while he and Dedalus alternated at nights. He could only do it in heavy disguise, for it had been an official mission during the last year when the Ministry had worked in league with Dumbledore, but now with the new regime, he had had a hard time dispelling the suspicions and remaining inconspicuous as it was. He’d often had to bite his tongue. And it had only been a few weeks since the Death Eaters had come out into the open. Oh, Voldemort was clever, he thought. He didn’t come out straight away and alert everyone. His name was still feared enough by everyone who had lived through his first reign, which had come back full force. He remained an ominous presence this time, instilling fear through his minions, instead of provoking a full-out resistance.

“Curse you, Voldemort. Leave us in peace already,” he murmured under his breath as he rounded the corner to move into Downing Street. He stopped when he heard two plops, immediately suspecting the Muggle guard. But why would they shoot? At whom?

“Remember Mad-Eye,” he continued his quiet soliloquy, before tapping himself with his wand. He felt ripples go through his body as he became one with his surroundings.
But he’d been too slow, as he became aware when a sharp wand cut in his side.

“And who might you be?” A voice poured next to his ear. He kept his position, only let his eyes wander. When he couldn’t see anything but a few ripples in the still night air, he felt like coursing himself. He wasn’t the only one who knew how to apply a disillusionment charm. But how …? He’d done his customary checks, and all the spells had come back negative. Why had they apparated to where he was when they did?

The counter spell was spoken in a taunting voice, while ropes wound around his hands. He was becoming visible again, and as his opponent looked triumphantly over Kingsley’s own wand at him, Rookwood took shape in front of him.

“Tsk tsk tsk. Not only disillusioned, but also disguised. Won’t you show me your face before I kill you? Surely no honest pure-blood would sneak around like that.”

“Indeed. Disillusionment is not for the honest,” Kingsley fired right back, seeing the others eyes light up with anger as the comment registered.

“You better watch yourself! – Shacklebolt!” It sounded gleeful, astounded, cruel as the former Ministry worker recognised him.

“Don’t sound so surprised, Rookwood!” Kingsley shot back. Using the other’s momentary slight, he threw himself backwards with all his might, which caused him to stumble back and take his companion down with him. His wand had been thrown upwards in a high arch. He darted forward, leaning forward when he was directly below it and felt it sail into his hand. A quick look showed him that the Death Eaters were just getting to their feet; he turned on the spot and reappeared some distance away. He didn’t dare trying to cut the ropes for fear of slicing himself, and after only a short breath, he was gone again. How had they found him? And he only hoped Dedalus was more careful than he had been.

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