Tonks stood in the alley next to the Poison Quill and took a deep breath, readying herself to enter the pub and start her first night as Piper Smyth. Fortified from her comforting meal of cottage pie and apple tart— courtesy of Molly Weasley—she rounded the corner and pulled open the door to the dingy building. She surveyed her surroundings quickly before crossing the room and stepping behind the bar. With a quick look around the cluttered space, she shrugged out of her black robes and tossed them casually over a tall barstool.
The door to the back room swung open and Paul Quigley appeared. Tonks thought it was no wonder his pub did little legitimate business; with his dirty and disheveled brown hair and slightly blood-shot brown eyes, he looked as though he was perpetually coming down off a bender. “On time, at least,” he said, staring at her coolly. “You’ve been in here before.”
Tonks reigned in her smart mouth tendencies and fought saying that she’d been in earlier that week to discuss the job. “I’ve bought meself a drink or two before,” she replied with her Lancashire accent. Tonks wondered if he remembered that the time Piper had let a man buy her a drink, the man had been locked up shortly after for adding a potion to the Firewhisky.
“Right.” If he did remember, it seemed he didn’t care. “Pull down some glasses.” He gestured to the shelves behind her that held mostly rocks glasses along with a couple of shelves that held pint glasses and wine glasses. “Most of the blokes here on Friday nights want Firewhisky. You’ll get a blighter here and there that wants an ale or wine.” With apparently no further wisdom to impart, Quigley returned to the back room.
Helpful. Tonks pulled glasses from the shelves and set them on the bar, preparing for her customers who would be soon arriving. Tonks had never tended bar and was glad that the men coming into the establishment wouldn’t require her to do more than pour a couple fingers of whisky or dispense ale from the tap. While she worked, she contemplated the possible suspects who’d be entering the pub. Being the first day of term for students, she wondered if she’d see any of the Death Eaters who had children who attended Hogwarts, or if this would be an evening solely for recruiting.
She didn’t have long to contemplate before her first customers entered. As she was searching the area behind the bar for a rag—because focused or not, she was likely to spill at least a small amount—the door opened, and in walked Lucius Malfoy with a couple of his cronies. Tonks recognized Crabbe and Goyle and thought wryly to herself that it looked like they were indeed celebrating the children’s return to Hogwarts. The three men sat at a table close to the entrance and removed their cloaks, draping them over the back of their chairs. Malfoy caught sight of Tonks and narrowed his eyes. He motioned for his gorilla-like companions to stay seated as he rose from his seat and crossed to the bar.
Tonks pretended to be busy and looked up with an indifferent expression only when Malfoy was standing directly in front of her. She knew she had to craft her persona very carefully. If she was too nice, they’d either mistrust her completely or walk all over her. Too closed-off and she’d never get any information from them. She’d have to channel her mother a bit on this mission and dig deep for her inner Slytherin.
“Quigley mentioned there would be a new face here this evening,” Malfoy drawled as he leaned casually against the bar, sizing up Tonks. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll keep your mouth shut and stick to your job.”
Tonks arched an eyebrow at him as she picked up three glasses and set them on the bar. “I don’t care what you lot are on about. I’m just ‘ere to earn meself a little extra.” She turned and plucked a bottle of Old Ogden’s from the counter and turned back to him, head cocked to the side in question. “Whisky?”
Malfoy stared at her for several long moments. Tonks held his gaze, refusing to retreat from his stare. Finally, he nodded almost imperceptibly and gave a lazy wave of his hand to the glasses. Tonks uncorked the bottle and poured three healthy portions.
“A man will be arriving shortly to join our party,” Malfoy said, reaching for one glass while waving a hand to wandlessly send the other two drinks levitating across the room to where Crabbe and Goyle sat. “If he enters alone, there is no need to serve him a drink, for he will not be staying. If he arrives with companions in tow, you may approach the table and take their order.” He paused in his instructions to take a sip of his drink, his eyes never leaving her face. “There will be times when I request a bottle to be left at the table. You will comply with this request.”
Tonks listened impassively as she recorked the bottle. “D’you keep a tab open?”
Malfoy sniffed derisively. “Quigley is eventually compensated for what we consume. There will be no need for you to worry about a tab.”
Without another word, he returned to his table. Tonks sighed inwardly, glad her first interaction with Malfoy had gone well enough and that he didn’t seem overly suspicious of her presence. She went about familiarizing herself with the contents behind the bar, pulling her wand to aid in moving boxes aside so she didn’t have to touch anything more than absolutely necessary. What she found were more clues into why the pub was so unpopular. Other than a case of wine and a few cases of Firewhisky, there wasn’t much; it was a good thing it was unlikely anybody would order their whisky any way but neat. Knowing she needed to keep busy so she blended into the background, she located a rag and charmed it to begin wiping down the counters, wishing she had a Self-Soaping Dishcloth to supplement her rather limited knowledge of householdy spells.
As she was attempting to flick her wand in the same fashion she’d seen her mother do a thousand times to wring her rag without having to touch it, the door opened and three men walked in. One was William Murphy, looking much more haggard and much less smug than the last time she’d seen him. She recognized the two men who followed him as Nott and Macnair. They weren’t the new recruits Malfoy had in mind as “companions”, but a barmaid wouldn’t know that. She’d been told to take their order if Murphy didn’t arrive alone. Tonks approached the table.
“A bottle of Firewhisky and more glasses,” Malfoy snapped
Macnair looked up at Tonks, seeming startled to see her. “Who’s this?” he asked gruffly.
Tonks suppressed a roll of her eyes that the man had asked Malfoy rather than simply asking her.
“Quigley’s newly hired help,” Malfoy said with a hint of distaste.
“I’ll—” Murphy was cut off by Malfoy raising a hand to stop him.
“You’ll wait,” Malfoy said coldly.
Murphy crossed his arms over his chest petulantly, but said nothing else.
Since Malfoy had explained her presence, Macnair seemed disinclined to care further about Tonks. When she came back with a tray of glasses and the requested bottle, she heard him ask, “Snape coming?”
“Severus is no doubt at this moment being subjected to the ramblings of that doddering old fool whilst enduring the feast,” Malfoy said with a sneer as Crabbe and Goyle sniggered. Tonks had a hard time not smiling at the thought of Severus enduring the Start-of Term Feast; she remembered him scowling through the sorting and the meal during her student days.
Tonks returned to the bar thinking Murphy’s situation sure had changed since the last time she’d seen him. When she’d spied on the man in the MLE office and Malfoy Manor, he’d been arrogantly assured, no doubt thinking himself quite important. Remembering what her neighbor, Mrs. Abbott, had said about him not looking terribly happy about his assignment of attempting to break in to her flat, Tonks wondered if the reality of being on the side of Death Eaters and the burden of the tasks they were asking of him was taking its toll.
She filled a glass with water from her wand and returned to the business of cleaning up behind the bar as she sipped, thinking of a reason to get closer to the table in order to eavesdrop. Although, from her spot behind the bar, she could tell they were loudly congratulating themselves on being world class prats rather than speaking about anything of note. Unfortunately, before she could come up with a plan, a few more customers who were not part of the Death Eater party approached the bar. After she’d served them, she looked to the table of interest to find that two more men—unfortunately, one of them was her old friend Avery—had joined the party. As she approached the table with two glasses in hand and two levitating ahead of her, she could hear Malfoy.
“…make up for the brilliantly disastrous performance of the last mission you were supposed complete.”
She deposited the glasses with a quick look around the table and saw Murphy staring at his hands as the men around the table laughed. Unable to summon any sympathy for the man, she thought Malfoy was likely referring to his inability to enter her flat the week before.
As she turned, a hand grabbed her wrist and a deep voice asked, “Won’t you join us?”
Tonks cringed once she recognized the voice as Avery’s. Can’t he do me a favor and fall off the face of the Earth? With a cocked brow, she turned to him with a smirk and said, “And then who would serve you fine lads the drinks?”
Avery smiled at Tonks in a way he probably thought was charming as he let go of her wrist. “Can’t take a break?”
With a non-committal shrug, Tonks took a step back to the bar and gestured toward two men now sitting in stools waiting for service. “Customers come first.”
After serving the customers at the bar, Tonks took a deep breath and looked up to see Murphy approaching the bar. She rolled her eyes inwardly, thinking that she’d never hear anything useful if she couldn’t break away from the bar.
“Finally allowed to have a drink, are you?” she asked Murphy as he sat down, the slump of his shoulders still not bringing him any sympathy.
“I’m to return to the table only when I’ve learned something useful about you,” he replied.
“Want me life story, do they?” Tonks said as she poured him a drink. “Not much to say there, ‘m afraid.” She gave a flick of her wand and levitated a dozen dirty glasses to the tub at her feet she’d found while cleaning behind the bar. “I’m gonna take these dirties to the back, and when I come back, I’ll tell you something useful.”
Not that she was feeling particularly accommodating toward Murphy, but he was at least an opening. He certainly didn’t seem to be having an enjoyable time with the group at his table; whether that was enough payback for handing Lucius Malfoy her address, she wasn’t sure. Levitating the tub in front of her, Tonks used it to push the swinging door open to the back room. With a flick of her wand, she emptied the glasses into the large stainless steel sink and turned on the water. She grimaced as she cast another one of her mother’s handy household spells, watching as the bubbles from the soap grew to an alarming volume before she was able to curtail its growth with another quick flick of her wand. A domestic goddess, I will never be. Maybe she’d let her mum give her a refresher in some useful spells before her next evening playing barmaid.
With a sigh, Tonks grabbed the empty tub and pushed back through the door to the bar. Stowing the tub once more on the floor, she walked to stand in front of Murphy, who was watching her intently as she propped a hip against the counter and reached for her water glass.
Something in his gaze struck her as odd; his jaw was tense and his breathing was shallow. Tonks immediately pulled her hand back from her glass. Maybe it was Mad-Eye’s paranoia wearing off on her, but she would have bet ten Galleons that taking a sip of her water would end in disaster at that moment. Never removing her eyes from Murphy’s, Tonks pulled her wand and Vanished her drink, glass and all, and stowed her wand back in the waistband of her leggings.
“Tell them me name’s Piper,” she said, placing her hands on the bar and leaning forward slightly. “And a girl from the wrong part of Lancashire knows when a bloke’s put something in ‘er drink.”
Murphy looked down at the bar and swallowed audibly.
Hoping for a quick moment to herself to contemplate William Murphy’s further treachery—and failure, no doubt, in the eyes of Malfoy—Tonks rounded the bar and went down the hallway to use the loo. She stopped suddenly when she saw that the magically warded door was ajar. Just as she was raising her hand to wandlessly push the door open further, someone grabbed her elbow from behind in a vice-like grip.
“Does your job include interfering where you’re not wanted,” Malfoy said into her ear.
“Should I raise a ‘and like a firstie when I need to use the loo?” Tonks asked, pulling her elbow from his grasp and turning to face him.
“This.” He gestured to the door behind her. “Is not a room that concerns you.”
Before Tonks could answer, the door was pulled open, Quigley exiting the room. He stopped in his tracks and eyed her suspiciously. “I thought I told you to mind your business while you’re here.”
Tonks rolled her eyes outwardly, but inwardly cursed herself for not checking behind her before she attempted to check out that door. “Be easier if you ‘ad a sign on the loo.”
“S’pose I could manage that,” Quigley replied gruffly.
Tonks let out a breath slowly, glad that they seemed to buy her story. She took advantage of the door being still open and spied a mad scattering of parchments littering the table along with a few open files that made her wonder whether they were Ministry files. She quickly scanned what she could see of the room and saw little else before the door was slammed shut. If anything was going to be learned from the heaps of parchment lying about the table, she was going to have to get into that room.
When she came out of the loo, Quigley was waiting. “There’s a cellar where I keep the extras,” he said, motioning for her to follow.
Feeling Malfoy’s eyes following her, Tonks followed Quigley back around the bar and through the door to the back room. Past the sink where the dirty glasses were swimming amongst the overly-soapy water, there was a door that was shorter than an average door. With its peeling paint and ancient-looking doorknob, it looked the part of a creepy cellar door.
“Not much down there, but I stock up when I need to,” Quigley said as he opened the door.
Not wanting to be trapped in a dark cellar in a bar full of Death Eaters, Tonks opted not to follow Quigley down the steps, but instead pulled her wand and said, “Accio.” She nearly laughed as Quigley hastily stepped out of the way as a case of Firewhisky came hurtling up from below, landing at her feet.
“Right,” he said, eyeing the case and then Tonks before shutting the cellar door. “The group out there will likely stay late.”
Splendid. The idea of staying late enough to close shop with a group of nasty blighters drinking their way through multiple bottles of Firewhisky didn’t appeal to Tonks in the slightest. Unless, of course, they revealed something good in their drunken stupor. Wanting this mission to go well, Tonks shrugged and asked, “What time do you kick those gents out?”
“There’s no new—” Quigley stopped himself before saying something he obviously wasn’t supposed to say. “Bit of the old crowd out there tonight, so who knows. Maybe two or three?”
Tonks shrugged once more and pulled her wand and pointed it at the case at her feet, levitating it in front of her. She quickly followed, thinking that Remus was likely to go mad if she checked in more than an hour late. Shoving thoughts of Remus’ overprotective nature to the back of her mind, she decided she’d deal with that later. Who knows, maybe the “old crowd” as Quigley had called them would pack it in early that night.
Two hours and several bottles later, Tonks had little hope of the men turning in early. The few customers aside from Malfoy’s crowd that the Quill had attracted that night had long since left, leaving Crabbe, Goyle, Nott, Avery, and Macnair still sitting around the table, their laughter echoing through the otherwise empty pub. Murphy had slunk away at some point, likely in disgrace after he’d failed to get her to drink whatever it was that he’d poured into her water glass earlier. As the drinking continued, Tonks amused herself by taking in the different behaviors of the steadily more inebriated men. Avery and Macnair were definitely the ringleaders of the bunch. They dominated the conversation, loudly telling stories and laughing. Much to Tonks’ disappointment, they said nothing interesting or incriminating. Crabbe and Goyle seemed to be followers; laughing loudly at whatever Avery and Macnair said, but contributing little to the conversation. Nott appeared to be an introspective drunk, not saying much, but watching the others.
As she busied herself cleaning up in between refilling drinks, flicking her wand to send the chairs at the unoccupied tables to rest on the table tops, Tonks considered attempting to send a Patronus to warn Remus that she was delayed, lest he send someone in to make sure she wasn’t in danger.
As she charmed a broom to sweep the floor—thinking that she’d have to tell her mum that her latest mission was aiding to improve her deplorable housekeeping skills—the door opened, Severus stalking in looking decidedly unhappy. Tonks smiled slightly as she noticed him giving his colleagues an impatient look at the raucous exclamation his arrival drew. She watched carefully, not wanting to appear to be staring at the group, as he removed his outer cloak and draped it over an empty chair before taking a seat. Hoping to overhear their reaction to Severus’ arrival, Tonks maneuvered her broom closer to their table, keeping her back to them.
“Broke away from babysitting, did you?” Macnair asked.
“If you hadn’t noticed, it is many hours past curfew,” Severus said. “Besides. With Theodore Nott and Draco Malfoy as the new Slytherin prefects, I needn’t worry about leaving the castle.”
Tonks glanced over her shoulder and saw Nott raise his glass to Severus, who nodded in return.
“Quigley’s newly hired help, I presume?” Severus said, waving vaguely in Tonks’ direction.
“I know what she can help me with,” Avery said lewdly, drawing sniggers from Crabbe and Goyle. “Lucius mentioned you knew something of it.”
“She is a friend of a former student,” Severus replied, ignoring the first part of Avery’s remark. “You mentioned Quigley did more complaining than he did serving drinks the last time you were here.”
Interesting. Tonks had wondered how he’d explained her sudden appearance. Vanishing the pile collected from sweeping, Tonks directed the broom to its spot behind the bar. She lifted her wand to start a rag wiping down the messy surface, but stopped as she saw Severus stand from his seat and walk over.
“I thought you weren’t to be summoned for a few days,” Tonks whispered as he leaned against the bar. She grabbed a glass and poured him a small measure of whisky.
Severus shifted his gaze around the nearly empty pub. “Is my boss, as you call him, here?”
Tonks smiled at his joke—momentarily amazed that he’d made one—and then promptly shuddered at the thought of You-Know-Who walking through the door of the Quill and asking for a pint. “Somehow I don’t see the pubs as his scene.”
Severus reached for the Firewhisky she’d poured as his lip twitched in his rare near-smile. “Indeed.”
“Come to check on me, then?”
“You’re nearly two hours late. The werewolf was growing anxious.”
Before Tonks could chastise him for calling Remus “the werewolf”, Severus abruptly turned from the bar with a typical show of billowing black robes and walked back to the table. With a sigh, Tonks corked the bottle and tidied up, levitating glasses back to their shelves and giving the bar one last pass with the rag. She rounded the bar to gather the empty glasses littering the table, wondering if it was in her authority as the barmaid to tell them it was last call for drinks.
“What’s your story, love,” Avery asked as Tonks picked up an empty glass.
Tonks looked at him with a smirk. “I told your friend from earlier to pass on me story.”
The men roared with laughter, obviously finding humor in Murphy’s failed attempt to slip her some sort of potion. If Tonks had to guess, it was likely a Compulsion Potion of some sort that would have left her spilling her secrets. She risked a quick glance to Severus, who was unsurprisingly not laughing, but raising his eyebrows slightly in question.
“There’s no customers beside us,” Avery said, pulling a glass out of her reach, forcing Tonks to walk to his side of the table to collect it. “I think it’s time for you to sit and have a drink.”
Without warning, Avery grabbed Tonks around the waist and pulled her down on his lap. His abrupt maneuver made his drink slosh over the sides of his glass, covering one sleeve of her long black jumper in whisky. She also managed to drop the two glasses in her hand which shattered spectacularly on the floor.
Tonks pulled her wand from her leggings and cast a quick Reparo to fix the broken glasses before casting a Drying Charm on her jumper that would no doubt still smell like alcohol until her mother laundered it properly for her. Wishing she could use one of the more colorful hexes in her arsenal, she grabbed his arm that was snaked around her waist and tried to wrench it free, which only made him tighten his grip.
“Unless you want to hear a spell that makes your bollocks triple in size, I’d let go,” she said.
“That would make sitting on my lap more difficult,” Avery said with a chuckle, releasing her from his grip. “Lucky for you I like a girl who’s feisty.”
Lucky for you, I don’t want to lose my job on the first night.
“Let the girl go, Avery,” an exasperated voice said behind them.
Tonks stood, shocked that it was Quigley who’d spoken.
“It’s nearly gone two. That means it’s time for me to lock up for the night.” Ignoring the grumblings of some of the men at his mention of closing time, he walked over and picked up the repaired glasses from the floor. “Don’t scare off the help on her first night. Especially after you lot complained enough to convince me to hire her.” He reached inside his robes and pulled out a small canvas sack and held it out to Tonks. “That’ll do for the night. Look for my owl.”
Relieved that the night was finally coming to an end, she smiled at Quigley and took the sack. “I’ll be off, then.”
“Hope to see you next time I’m in,” Avery said as he pushed his chair back, balancing on the two back legs.
Wishing she could knock him out of his chair, but also knowing she couldn’t afford to put any of the men off, Tonks simply arched a brow and said, “And I ‘ope you can keep your ‘ands to yourself next time you’re in.”
With the relief that the night was over, Tonks had a hard time not running to the stool where she’d thrown her black robes. She slipped her arms through the sleeves and walked quickly to the door, exiting without a glance back. Glad that she wouldn’t have to see the place for at least another week, she practically skipped around the corner into the alley to Apparate to Headquarters.
Her reverie at leaving was quickly lost when she found herself flung back onto the ground, her elbow aching from connecting painfully with the bricked surface of the alley. She quickly chanted Protego in her mind and hoped to her feet, drawing her wand. The jet of red light that had hit her told Tonks that it was a Stunner. It was non-verbal and weak enough that it knocked her down rather than knocked her out cold. Whoever was engaging her in a fight was obviously not a skilled duelist. Tonks moved further into the alley, easily parrying two more spells that came her way before she said, “Expelliarmus” and clutched the wand in her hand that had flown her way. She lit the tip of her wand and murmured “Finite” to cancel the Disillusionment Charm her opponent was obviously using. Shaking her head, Tonks was not surprised when the face of William Murphy appeared as the cancelled spell slowly revealed him standing against one wall of the alley.
They stared at one another for a long moment before Tonks rolled her eyes and Stunned him, watching with satisfaction as his body crumpled to a heap on the ground. For a moment, she contemplated simply leaving him there, but decided against it. Even if he was a traitor and had given Malfoy her address, she didn’t want to see him assaulted or picked clean by some unsavory Knockturn Alley character that happened upon him.
“Mobilicorpus,” she said with a flick of her wand.
Murphy’s body rose from the heap and drifted down the alley as Tonks directed back to the Quill. She hoped that the group was making a slow exit so she could drop Murphy at their feet. The men were just standing and donning their cloaks when Tonks pulled open the door. They all stopped and looked at her with surprise as she gave them a sweet smile and directed Murphy’s body through the door. She maneuvered him in front of an empty chair and cancelled the spell, landing him unceremoniously with his head lolling to one side. Their silence was broken as laughter broke out amongst the group, even the sedate Nott chuckling at the sight of the unconscious man sitting in the chair. Beyond ready for the night to be finished, Tonks tossed Murphy’s wand at his feet and released the door, still hearing laughter from inside as she turned once more to walk to the alley. Before she’d scarcely rounded the corner, she turned on the spot, taking a deep cleansing breath as she landed at the familiar Apparition point down the street from Grimmauld Place.
A/N: Reviews!!!!!! Thank you for each and every one of them! I hope you enjoyed Tonks' first night as a barmaid—I promise Remus returns in the next chapter! Everyone enjoy their week, the next chapter will be up before the weekend. Two updates in one week?? What? You're welcome in advance:)
Just Jo's, not mine:)
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