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Disclaimer: Nothing you recognise is mine; it's only my interpretation what might have happened with the rest of JKR's characters.




Hagrid received the three students he was supposed to supervise for this detention. They were accompanied by Professor Snape, the new headmaster. His face was impassive, the sinking sun casting dark shadows over it, and appeared more drawn than he’d ever seen it. The giant man thought this very strange; shouldn’t the Death Eater be ecstatic? He had received headmastership for his betrayal; he’d got rid of Harry. Wasn’t this his every dream come true?

Now he was marching Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood down from the castle.

The other teachers had plunged into a flurry of frantic, whispered conversations when Gryffindor and Ravenclaw’s hourglasses suddenly held no more jewels to display their standing in the House Cup; and a silent hush had fallen over the assembled student body when everyone was summoned out of their beds close to midnight just the day before to be presented with the perpetrators, along with a severe, hissed warning against anyone even thinking about following their example. Hagrid had been the one assigned to supervise the string of detentions set by the headmaster, which would lead them into the Forbidden Forest.

Hagrid looked at the man the great Albus Dumbledore had trusted, as had he. It was not far from where he stood, near the front steps of his hut, that an eleven-year-old Harry had apparently had more sense than them, the teachers, put together, when the boy expressed his doubts about the man actually working for the good side.

Not bothering to hide his hate, Hagrid took over the two Gryffindors and the Ravenclaw from Snape silently, and stomped towards the Forbidden Forest.

“Hey Hagrid!” Luna greeted him in an eerily cheerful voice. “Is it the Plimpies that put you in such a mood? Or Snape?”

“Ter tell yeh the truth, Luna, don’ know what Plimpies are, but I prefer them ter Snape any day!” he scowled.

“Don’t we all?” Hagrid peered into Ginny Weasley’s face, detecting the anger in her eyes. They trudged along in silence for a while, until they were swallowed by the forest, the weak evening only breaking the dense canopy of leaves in a few places, and Hagrid turned his attention to the trusty ritual of lighting his lamp by hand.

“Why did yer break into the office?” he asked, without looking at the three students.

A brief silence followed this, in which he supposed they exchanged glances. To his surprise, it wasn’t one of the girls who answered. “It had to be done. It was not some stupid and random act of defiance as Snape said; but if he wants to think that, we’re more than happy to let them believe it.”

Neville’s expression was unreadable, but firm. It may have been a trick of the lamplight, but Neville resembled his father a lot; as Hagrid had known him from some of the Order meetings during the first war. Those kids had seen and suffered through worse things than most people; they should not have to go through anything like this, and even though they were not yet beaten.

“Just be careful. The staff –“ and Hagrid did not include the Carrows or Snape in this, making it obvious to them with following choice of words, “- can only protect yer so much from those ruddy Death Eaters.”

“It will not stay that way!” Ginny’s eyes had lit up at her words, glinting determinedly in the semi-darkness.

Neville said something under his breath, before pulling the red-head further along the path.

“We will be, Hagrid,” Luna promised in a serene tone of voice. “The forest is beautiful at night. So calm. Isn’t it odd, that this is supposed to be a detention?”

He watched her skip after the other two. He’d wondered that too, if he was honest. And he wouldn’t have said calm; it was more like the inhabitants of the forest knew not to leave the innermost depths of it these days. At least he’d passed along the warning, as Minerva and Filius had also said they would. Many whispers had been exchanged during the day between the staff, and they were ready for the occupation to come to an end. He would resume his silent watching, which was absolutely not in his nature, but as Minerva had pointed out, in the current situation the only thing they could do for the time being. Keep their wits together and try to keep the students as safe as they could be. The wizarding world was in turmoil, Hogwarts was its own right now.

*

It had been another exhausting day for Nymphadora, and she did not feel like returning home immediately. She opted to go visit the Weasleys instead, hoping Charlie would be in. She knew he had taken a leave of absence from his job in Romania to try and recruit members for the Order, and even that had been put on hold with Dumbledore’s death and the fall of the Ministry barely a month after, because it basically meant that the Order ceased to exist. It was only ever disjointed operations these days, not a combined effort.

She was still working, for the time being. It cost her a lot of effort to keep calm and not shout her opinion for everyone to hear, or appear as if she wasn’t purposefully avoiding an answer to Runcorn’s offer – more like an ultimatum – to join them. Voldemort’s name hadn’t been mentioned directly, but it had been all too clear.

On top of that, Remus was back. He’d taken to send her messages via patronus, or leave little notes or sweet nothings for her whenever there would be a meeting at one of the safe houses, which admittedly hadn’t been often. She had resisted his pleas to give him a chance to explain, because she could imagine what his reasons had been. The same reasons she had thought they had put behind when they married. She was telling Charlie as much, the only person she had told about their break-up some days ago, although she suspected other had become aware, even with visits being complicated, that her and Remus were not living together at the moment.

“So you’re giving up? You just got married, and now, after barely two months, that’s it?” Charlie asked her bluntly. He was leaning against a tree in the Weasleys’ orchard with his arms crossed in front of his chest, while Nymphadora went back and forth, her eyes fixed on the grass beneath her feet.

“It’s not just that.” She waved her hands around in agitation. “He can’t just come and go like he wants if he gets in one of his moods. I get that it’s not easy dealing with lycanthropy. We could have talked, but he didn’t even give me the chance!” That was what frustrated her the most, that he in his need of wanting to protect her took those decisions from her. But she did not want to be protected, not like this.

“Did – did something else happen?” Charlie asked tentatively. It was not like the easy-going Tonks he knew from school stew on anything for that long. But he also had never seen her in love.

Nymphadora worried her lips, contemplating whether she should share that other piece of news. First, they hadn’t told because there had been enough on everyone’s mind with extracting Harry from Privet Drive, Mad-Eye’s death, and finally the wedding and the Ministry, but now? She was eight weeks pregnant now, and she’d have to make a decision soon. “I’m pregnant,” she tried out the words in a whisper.

Charlie had to ask again before the words really registered. His first reaction would have been to congratulate his friend, but she looked untypically solemn. “Isn’t that a good thing?”

“Apparently, it isn’t. We decided we wouldn’t tell anyone yet. I was so excited, and thought he must be too. Then he left. You’re the first person I have told, not even my parents know.”

“Oh Tonks.” Charlie moved in her way, hugging her awkwardly. He was no good when it came to emotions, yet it felt like it was the thing to be done in such situations. Not that he had ever been in a similar one. His intuition was proven right when he felt her hold on tighter, like she had waited to let herself fall. “Can we pretend you’re not crying, because I’d be running for the hills if you were? Okay? Okay. So what are you going to do now?”

He felt like an idiot for asking that when he felt the shaking of her body become stronger; she obviously didn’t know. Maybe it wasn’t a half-bad idea to just stay put and wait till she had cried herself out? It certainly felt like she had kept it all in before.

After a few minutes, she seemed to gather herself again, and he thought it safe to ask, “So, erg, don’t start the waterworks again, but maybe you should at least talk to your mother? Or, you know, Remus?”

“To what end? I know what he’s going to say: It shouldn’t have happened, the baby’s going to be a monster just like him, and it’s generally all his fault. As for mum, I think she might already suspect something.”

Charlie cleared his throat. “Hm. I just thought – well, she might be better at this stuff than me. I can discuss mating dragons all day, but this is slightly different. And I don’t suppose you fancy being compared to a gravid Romanian Ridgeback. – Ouch!” He rubbed his arm where she had cuffed him, but he was still glad to see a trace of a smile on her face. “Pregnant women!” he complained.

“Don’t be mean! That’s not fair!” Nymphadora couldn’t deny she felt a lot better.

“Yeah, yeah. How far along are you?”

“Going on nine weeks now.”

He let out a breath. “Are you going to talk to Remus? He’s back, and can’t have been gone for long. No one talked about an argument, only lately that you seem estranged. – He does know, doesn’t he?

“Yes, I told you we didn’t want to say something at first. He’s been asking to talk to me, but I’m not ready to face him again. What if he wants a divorce?”

Scoffing, Charlie answered, “A divorce? He could just file one and have the papers served to you. – Okay, maybe I’m doing a rubbish job at sticking up for you, but I have to say this. I can kind of understand where he’s coming from. Not to mention the unsafe world we’re living in, there’s a lot of complications coming your way. Even with the most well-meaning of Ministries, there still a very high possibility that the child might inherit his infliction. I may have specialised in dragons, but trust me, we had to learn a fair deal about magical creatures and the applicable laws. And what with Greyback attacking Bill … I’ve read up on werewolves, after that. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, but to imagine passing it on to my children …”

“I know! I’ve read up on it as well, as soon as I realised that my feelings for him wouldn’t just go away, and I wanted to understand him! It’s a possibility, but there’ve also been cases where the child turned out alright. There haven’t been nearly enough cases to generalise that theory. And there’s absolutely no way I’d kill off my baby just because of a possibility!”

“I know!” Charlie placated her. “No one said you should. I’m just trying to say that he must know better than anyone what it could mean, not only in terms of physical pain, but also the social consequences for the child. Hell, for you as well.”

“I don’t care!” Despite her best efforts, the words came out louder and harsher as she had intended. “I don’t care what everyone else would have said! He proved that it is possible. We could have dealt with the problem when, and if, the baby turned out like him! And there’s the Wolfsbane potion now, and who knows what’s possible in the future?”

“Nymphadora!” Now he seized her shoulders. “I’m not the one you should be telling this! Go to Remus, give him a good tongue-lashing by all means, but listen to him! You both make sense to me, but that’s not helping anything! Maybe he’s already seen that he was too quick, why else would he be back? And asking for a talk? I’ve worked with a lot of guys who freaked when they learned they were going to be a father. Maybe he needed some time to himself, just like you needed a good cry? Even though I will deny should you ever mention this to anyone, you hear me?”

Her mouth, which had been open to interrupt, fell shut, and her arms fell to her sides again. Charlie seemed flustered, and she even felt a bit guilty for dumping all her issues on him. He was right with at least one thing though: it felt good to have talked about it, and get it all off her chest. When she was honest with herself, beside the excitement, there had always been fear, not only for her baby’s safety, but also because it would be her first. Had he felt it, and taken it the wrong way? The marriage had been a big step for him, and children had never been discussed between them.

“I won’t. Mention it, I mean,” she said meekly. “And I will talk to Remus, eventually. Just give me a few more days.” Now, she wanted a good, long soak in the familiar bathtub at her childhood home, and some hot chocolate. And then, maybe a good long talk with her mother was in order.

Charlie held up his hands, smirk returning to his face. “Don’t tell me. The only thing I need to know is whether I’m taking on a fully-grown werewolf for hurting you. Although I really preferred not to; I’d have to run to my big brother for help in that case.”

*

Nora didn’t know what she was doing, or where to go next. She held onto her father, apparating all over the country. He was losing blood rather quickly from a nasty arm injury. She’d have to stop somewhere, and soon, to perform a healing charm. She was an only child, and her mum had died years ago. She wouldn’t let her father die too. The events from earlier played repeated themselves like a broken record in her head, muted but there nonetheless.


Times were dark, and it didn’t seem like that would change anytime soon. The Ministry had fallen some weeks ago, and Britain’s magical community was seeing the changes already. Nora had found the Potterwatch programme not too long afterwards, and their reports made much more sense than the Daily Prophet or the Ministry’s announcements had in a long time.

They were both pure-bloods, and maybe her father and her could have sat it out, but at what cost? Look on as others were tortured? Early this morning, only hours before - but it already seemed like a lifetime ago - they’d heard unusual noises from their neighbour’s house. They were Muggles, but Mr and Mrs Lang were the nicest couple she knew, always tinkering away in their garden and Mrs Lang didn’t tire of chatting about her grandchildren whenever Nora would pass their property. So when they heard the bangs and screams, Nora’s father had gone to investigate, Nora watching from the window. She’d seen the spells through the window, then after a moment of hesitation sprinted over too to try and help. Just in time too, she’d jumped in to support her father who had been shielding the elderly couple. They stunned the Death Eaters, then did a quick assessment of the situation. They needed to obliviate the Langs’ memories, give them the idea to move in with their son in France, and quick.

They had just been back to their home, packing and shrinking an emergency bag, when the front door had been blasted away. Her father had confronted them, and that’s when one of them had lost his cloak, revealing him as Cole Warrington. Nora knew him all too well, a Slytherin in the year above her. She knew there was talk in the Common Room among the more radical of the Slytherins about supporting the Dark Lord and joining the Death Eaters, but really seeing it was another matter entirely. As if in slow-motion, she’d seen her father sink to his knees, and Warrington’s still masked companion had used the Cruciatus on him. Acting purely on instinct, Nora threw a chair at them, crouched down next to her father, pushed his wand in his hand and commanded him, in a much firmer voice than she thought possible to reach him in his pain-induced state, to lower the anti-apparition charm. Seconds later, she’d disappeared, foregoing the proper circle.

At the first stop, she’d noticed with horror that this had caused his arm to be almost splinched off, it was bleeding severely. She quickly checked herself and tried to stem the worst of it, but had to disapparate once more at the tell-tale sound of another apparition nearby and the two cloaked and masked figures appeared.

Nora decided she couldn’t put it off anymore and at her next destination, she stopped for a minute, banished her travelling cloak to somewhere in Scotland and spun once more, only to appear a few hundred metres away. Peering out from behind a rock, she saw the two Death Eaters appear, perform a spell most likely to locate the most recent disappearances at this place, and dissapparate. She waited with baited breath, ready for them to pop out of thin air right behind her, but they didn’t.

She took a deep breath, and looked at her father. He was unconscious; Nora lost no more time to heal the wound properly, giving him the blood-replenishing potion she’d packed. Who knew they’d really need that so soon.

She did the best she could. He was breathing easier now and the wound was already healing, and she sank back on her heels. With the injury taken care off, thoughts of what would happen next stormed in on her. It only hit her now that they were probably wanted right now for helping Muggles. Where should they go? Did her father have a certain place in mind when he told her to pack? She would have turned to the Ministry, or Hogwarts, or Dumbledore only months before, but neither was an option now. Did the much-rumoured society of Dumbledore’s, the Order of the Phoenix, still exist? Where would she find them, and would they even be willing to help a former Slytherin?

Nora shook herself. Maybe she was dramatizing things. What had they done, really? Stopped Death Eaters from hurting two Muggles; that couldn’t be so bad right? It wasn’t as if they’d hidden Potter or defied the Dark Lord personally or something like that.

Right, but maybe they’d just have to stay away from home for a while. That also meant they would need money. Thinking quickly, she reckoned she could just apparate to Diagon Alley, get money from her Gringotts vault and come back, before her father woke up. She nodded determinedly to herself, then cast protective charms around her father, before she vanished with an almost inaudible ‘crack’.

*

Diagon Alley looked – deserted. Only a few people seemed brave enough to venture here. Was this what their world had come to? Nora had graduated last June, and then with Dumbledore’s death everything had happened so fast. She hadn’t gone on her Europe trip as planned, because she agreed with her father that now was not the time. They had spent most of the last three months in their home, not wanting to take sides. Her father had done most of their shopping, claiming he was used to it. Hadn’t he wanted her to see this? The picture Potterwatch painted seemed spot-on.

There were wanted-signs everywhere, most showing Harry Potter. A lot of cafes she’d sat in only the summer before were boarded up. So was Fortescue’s. Nora was shocked to the core. She wasn’t as radical as others about the whole ‘magic is for purebloods only’ doctrine, was shocked how fanatic they got on the matter, but could somehow see where they were coming from, being a pure-blood herself and coming from a somewhat respected family. But this? If this was how a pureblood-only magical world looked like, how liveable was it? So deserted, bleak, grey … so depressing?

She wandered around a bit, growing more and more incredulous seeing what had become of the once so busy and lively Diagon Alley. She had even forgotten why she came here in the first place.

A spot of colour in the otherwise desolate grey caught her eye; an explosion of orange. The building wasn’t anything special, but the display window showed orange streamers, and huge writing on the window pane invited the passers-by to have a look. It seemed freshly-painted, as if someone had just cleaned the window and painstakingly renewed the cheerful writing. A picture appeared before her inner eye: it was last summer, the opening of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes which her friends had scoffed at, but which had attracted the crowd in doves. The display window was mostly empty save for the streamers, and in smaller print, it said: Pure laughter.

Curious, Nora went to try the door, and it was really open.

- - - -


When he heard the jingle of the bell, announcing a customer, he jumped up from his position on the floor in the backroom. He hastily concealed the object he’d been working on; after all it wouldn’t do good for some Ministry ‘officials’ to catch him working on that particular product, which was for the defence product line.

Fred walked into the store, his – and George’s, of course – pride and joy. Lately, there weren’t many customers, not counting the Order members in disguise who bought only products of that particular line.

The girl who was now looking around at their merchandise seemed somehow familiar. He thought she must have been at Hogwarts too, and she looked like she was around his age. She had a pretty face, although rather pale at the moment. Her brown eyes, however, looked haunted.

“May I help you?” he enquired in his best shop-owner voice.

She flinched, then shrugged her shoulders in a would-be casual manner. “I am sorry, sir, I just needed a moment to escape all the grey.”

“Ah, I see,” Fred answered knowingly. “Grey’s not something you’ll find here.”

He withdrew behind the counter, although he kept an eye on her. She wasn’t looking for anything particular it seemed, only wandered through the aisles. Suddenly, she became rigid, and started for the door.

“Where’s the fire?” he called, stepping in front of the door.

The girl tried dodging him, but he stepped to the side as well. “No fire,” she said. “I need to get money, then back to Father. I’ve left him alone for too long already.” She shifted her eyes around nervously.

Fred thought he’d seen that kind of look far too often lately. Usually, they were very careful, in case it was a trap by Death Eaters, overzealous pure-blood idealist Ministry officials, or other who hoped to gain from bringing in sympathisers. But there was something about her, and he just had to trust her. “Are you in trouble?” he breathed.

Her eyes snapped toward his, her gaze intense. She seemed to search his soul and innermost thoughts. Finally, she nodded briefly.

“Then I wouldn’t advise going to Gringotts, they have ‘security’,” he made air quotes at this, “stationed at every entrance. If you can’t be seen, Gringotts is not the place you want to seek out now.”

“Oh,” she formed the words, at a loss. Where should she get money from now? Could she trust one of the Weasley twins? But one little question couldn’t hurt, right?

“If we said – hypothetically – that someone had disturbed two Death Eaters while torturing Muggles, would that count as not wanting to be seen?” she asked.

Fred’s eyebrows rose up. “I’d say. They won’t care about the number, and it certainly wouldn’t have ended with torturing.” He saw her gasp; obviously she hadn’t assumed that. “You’ve already run away from them, right?” He proceeded cautiously.

Once again she studied him with narrowed eyes. Then, a small nod. “My father is hurt,” she supplied almost inaudible.

Fred didn’t know why he did it, but he wanted to help that girl. He thought quickly, then grabbed one of their improved invisibility cloaks from behind the counter. “Here, I’m sure you know what it is. Can you apparate with him? Good. Bring him here. Tap on the window, and I’ll let you in.”

She started to protest, but he cut her off and sent her on her way. The girl obliged, her eyes wide and apprehensive.

Then he waited, hoping he hadn’t just done something very, very stupid. Fred didn’t know if he even wanted her to return, it seemed more risky every minute he thought about it. Usually, he could trust his gut feeling, but had he gone too far? He would have to inform his twin, in the very least, because it was their shop and flat the trace of that girl led to. He ran his hand through his hair and sighed, frustrated at himself. He hadn’t even asked her name.

- - -

Nora breathed a deep sigh of relief when she found her father exactly how she had left him. His breathing was still not back to normal, and he wasn’t conscious. She would need a proper bed, and someone who knew more about Healing, or had better potion supplies than her. She wished she could discuss this with him. But, she realised, she wasn’t a little girl anymore who could run to her father for protection and a few words that would make it all better. This was really happening, and she had to look out for both of them at the moment.

Weasley – she didn’t even know which one she had talked to – was her best bet, and although she’d mostly rolled her eyes at their antics while at Hogwarts, she decided to take his offer. The thought briefly crossed her mind that he might want to help his own standing by turning in traitorous pure-bloods, but she dismissed it quickly. She’d seen nothing evil or remotely vindictive in his eyes earlier, and she would just have to trust her instincts.

Who would have thought it might ever come to this, that she'd asked a Gryffindor for help? And a Weasley no less.




If you recognised Nora, you're my new favourite person, because it means you read the WIP I started on her and Fred. I deleted it; because it was too close to what I had in mind for this story, and they'll make an appearance in 'Minutes Of A War'. Fred will get some romance - because I can't seem to avoid it altogether ;) - as will some of the other Weasley boys.
Let me know what you think please; does it work for you?

Oh, and before I forget: Merry Christmas!

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