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Stories from the Vault
The Hero, the Widow and the Orphan
The Hero, the Widow and the Orphan
The war was over – at least that was the consensus of Magical England. Voldemort was dead, life was beginning to return to the burned out areas that had seen some of the bitterest fighting in ages, and life went on – at least for the civilian world.
Three years after Dumbledore’s death, Harry Potter was living at Grimmauld Place, which was still the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. The Order had not yet disbanded, being occupied with the last tasks of the war, hunting down a few fugitives and assisting the Ministry of Magic in preparing evidence for a number of long overdue trials. His was one of the many lives shattered by the war – he survived his final encounter with Voldemort, but his closest friends did not. Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, were all dead – casualties of the skirmishes before the last battle. Molly Weasley was a widow now, her dream of losing her entire family only half-fulfilled: the twins had survived, along with Charlie, Percy, Bill and his now-pregnant wife Fleur.
Remus had not survived the war, although as his widow was fond of pointing out, he died making a difference. Somewhere in the confusion and chaos of the last battle, Tonks, who now preferred to be known as Dora Lupin, sustained a head injury with a lingering side effect of intermittent vertigo, aggravated by Floo travel and Apparation, placing her on the disabled list of Aurors. The flat she’d shared with Remus after they’d married was destroyed in the Battle of Hogsmeade. Harry had insisted that she stay at Grimmauld Place until she got back on her feet again.
No one knew what to do with Harry after the war. The career path of Auror was certainly open to him, but he seemed to have his fill of fighting – ever since the night he’d accompanied an Order strike team on a clean-up mission months after Voldemort’s defeat and come home with a four year old war orphan. No one knew for sure what had happened to her parents, or why they’d been killed by Bellatrix Lestrange, but she’d been found in the burned-out remains of her home, secured in a closet that had been charmed shut. With a little detective work they’d discovered that her name was Clarissa and she had no relatives to speak of. She’d gone home with Harry that night, sleeping only after being rocked for hours by an awkward black-haired rescuer. The next day Tonks converted one of the bedrooms at Grimmauld Place into a room suitable for a four year old girl. Kingsley Shacklebolt had suggested that she be turned over to Magical Social Services, stopping when Dora explained that Harry had blown the last well-meaning adult out of the room for making a similar suggestion.
Caring for Clarissa seemed to give Harry a focus, which those around him appreciated. This distraction, however, ended most evenings at 8:00 p.m., when Clarissa was tucked into bed.
Tonks shivered as she lit the stove in the kitchen, hoping to make herself a spot of tea before starting on breakfast. She hadn’t planned on things happening this way, but she didn’t regret it either. Where things went from here were up to Harry, who was probably making the footsteps that she heard approaching the kitchen, as Clarissa was light enough that she only made noise when she was running, which was almost all the time she was awake.
Harry was coming into the kitchen – this wasn’t going to be easy.
“Hey,” he said, nodding at her before he sprawled into a chair.
“Tea?” she asked.
“That would be lovely,” he said, putting his head down on the table. Maybe he didn’t suspect – maybe she hadn’t botched the charm. Then again, maybe she was going to be a backup dancer for Celestina Warbeck.
Her internal monologue was cut off when the tea kettle began to sing. Filling the pot with tea leaves and boiling water was a routine, mindless task – one that she gladly embraced to avoid the stare that she knew was coming from those emerald eyes.
“Dora?” he said, waiting for a response.
“Yeah, Harry?” she answered, pouring a cup of tea that she carefully put on a saucer and slid across the table to him.
“Were you in my room last night?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she said.
“Were you in my bed?”
Tonks could feel the flare of colour moving up her neck.
“Yeah, I was,” she replied.
“The nightmares,” she replied.
Harry didn’t say anything, taking a sip from his still very hot cup of tea. He looked at her and then looked away.
“I cast a sleeping charm on you, but you were still trashing about, so I figured that if I climbed into bed you’d settle down,” she explained.
“And it worked – you quieted down and got some sleep,” Tonks said, which was technically true.
Harry took another pull from his mug of tea. “Is this going to happen again?” he asked.
“It all depends,” Tonks answered.
“On whether you keep having nightmares and whether you throw me out of your house,” she said with a nervous smirk. “You’re going to go crazy unless you start sleeping more than an hour a night, and I’m going to go crazy worrying about you – which is why I decided to apply a little witchery to help you sleep.”
“What was the charm supposed to do?” Harry asked.
“It’s supposed to promote dreamless sleep,” Tonks said quietly.
“Maybe it works on normal people,” Harry said with a chuckle. “I had a lot of dreams.”
“Better than what you had before?” Tonks asked.
“Yeah – no one died in these dreams,” he said, putting down his cup before he pushed away from the table. He moved to the cold pantry, pulling out a basket of eggs.
Harry moved with ease in the kitchen – some tasks were done the Muggle way, like breaking the eggs, while others, such as scrambling them, were done with a flick of his wand. He frowned when he looked into the cold pantry for a jar of jam that she’d used up yesterday, shutting the door with some vigour before opening the dry pantry for a new, unopened jar. The toast finished at the same time as the omelette, which was divided wordlessly and put onto two plates.
They ate together in silence. Harry was very predictable – he always ate his toast first, then his eggs, then he’d drink any juice (which only occurred when Tonks made breakfast) and then his tea. He didn’t speak until the eggs were gone.
“Actually, I had pretty lurid dreams last night. Did I end up - groping you?” he asked quietly.
The colour flared up her neck again. “Uh, yeah,” she stammered. “It was nice, actually.”
Harry covered his face with his hands. “Dora, tell me we didn’t have sex,” he groaned.
“I’d have to lie to you if I told you that,” Tonks said boldly.
Harry pushed his plate aside and began to gently hit his head against the table.
“Great, just great,” he muttered. “Add rapist to my list of many accomplishments.”
“Harry, look at me,” Tonks said, placing just the tips of her fingers on his elbow. “Please?”
Harry looked up, his eyes red rimmed and brimming with unshed tears.
“It wasn’t rape, Harry – it was quite consensual. You were under a powerful sleeping charm – I on the other hand, was awake and very much in control of my faculties -- and very much enjoying the attention, I might add,” Tonks said calmly.
“Did you plan this?” Harry asked incredulously.
“Like plan to have sex with you? No. Did I consider that a possibility when I came to your bed? Yes. Did it bother me a whole lot? No – there’s been a certain frisson underlying our relationship for years – even before I hooked up with Lupin,” Tonks explained.
“How long?” Harry asked.
“Since the first time I met you,” Tonks said
“What?” Harry asked incredulously.
“Since the very first time.”
“I was all of fifteen!” he protested.
“Yeah, and I was all of a very immature twenty-one. I didn’t do anything with it, I might add, because I had issues with a certain Mister Lupin which I thought was a little more likely to pan out,” she explained.
“I thought it was all a dream,” Harry said, his face suddenly colouring like a Weasley. “Uh, was it – did I --?”
“It was most satisfactory,” Tonks said, giving him a wink as she patted his arm again. “I’ll wait until you’ve had your second cup of tea before I share the gory details.”
“Thanks – I’m not sure I’m ready to face that yet,” he said with an ironic smirk. “Give me a few minutes – this is drastically re-writing my universe here.”
“Take your time, Harry,” Tonks said. This is going better than expected. Don’t screw it up, Dora.
“Clarissa should be up soon,” Harry said.
“What are you two doing today?”
“After breakfast I was thinking of taking her to the Zoo – would you like to come along?” Harry asked, his ears colouring slightly.
“Harry Potter, are you asking me out on a date?” Tonks asked.
“Uh, yeah, I guess I am – although if you wanted to be crass about it, I wouldn’t mind another set of eyes when I’m out with Clarissa,” he said.
“Okay, so it’s a cheap date – we’ll worry about getting a sitter later,” she said with a broad smile.
“I’m sure that Molly would watch her if we’d ask – it’d probably be good for her – get her in practice for Fleur’s brood,” Harry said, smiling before he went quiet again. “I’m not sure where we stand, Dora – what are we?”
“What do you mean? We’re friends,” Tonks answered.
“Friends don’t just wake up in the middle of the night and decide to shag each other,” Harry protested.
“What? You never poked Hermione?” Tonks asked teasingly. Screwing her face up, she grew her hair out until it was shoulder length, bushy and a familiar chestnut colour. “Would you like to?”
“That is so not funny, Dora,” Harry said firmly.
“So, I suppose McGonagall is out too?” she asked, pulling her hair back into an impromptu bun as she changed her features to match those of the current Headmistress of Hogwarts.
Harry bugged his eyes out as he pantomimed a gagging motion with his hand and mouth.
“Okay, those two are out – is there anyone else who shouldn’t come to bed?” she asked impishly.
“Pretty confident that you’re going to get back there, aren’t you?” he countered.
“I’m sorry,” she said, suddenly crestfallen. “I shouldn’t presume.”
Harry reached across the table, threading his fingers between hers. “Let’s see how it works out, okay?”
Tonks gave his hand a squeeze and then stood up, leaning across the table to plant a kiss on his forehead. “Sounds like a plan. You made breakfast, let me clean up.”
“All right with me,” Harry said, putting his mug on top of his now empty plate. “Dora, as long as we’re feeling our way into new territory – what do you really look like?”
“Why are you asking now?”
“I never figured it was any of my business before,” Harry said.
“Fair enough. I haven’t a clue,” Tonks replied.
“You don’t know what you look like?” Harry asked incredulously.
“I don’t remember,” Tonks said sheepishly. “I started morphing when I was a little girl, getting good control when the rest of my magic came in around puberty. It’s not like a charm that wears off – it’s more like transfiguration. The beetles that you turned into buttons in school stayed as buttons unless you changed them back, or changed them into something else. Morphing is part of who I am, Harry. I’m not going to turn back into Andromeda’s little girl again – that was thousands of morphs ago.”
Harry sat silently, digesting this thought. “Whilst we’re at true confessions, I thought you ought to know that I probably can’t have children,” Tonks said
quietly. “Morphing and Mummyhood don’t mix so well.”
Harry smiled and chuckled. “It’s a little early for that discussion – besides, I’ve already got a sprog.”
“Why don’t you get the little sprog awake whilst I rustle up some brekkers for the princess?” she asked, smiling as he left the kitchen, whistling a cheery tune.
Second chances don’t come very often in life. She was going to do everything she could to make sure this one worked.
Copyright 2006 – J Cornell – all rights reserved.
* One of the clichés in fan-fic is “what does Tonks really look like?” with the answers ranging from something pale and alien, to a curvaceous blonde sexpot. I wanted to write that scene – so I came up with back-story for the setting. I don’t intend to write the story any time soon, having just wanted to play with this one scene.