Harry & Other fictional characters
UltimateHPfanfiction.com Story id: 2095661 (Please submit reviews!)
Paffy - Behind Blue Eyes
Chapter 6 - Our Girl
No one bites back as hard,
On their anger,
None of my pain and woe,
Can show through.
Remus walked into the kitchen in silence and Tonks and Moody looked up at him. She knew at once that something was wrong, Remus was pale, shaking and hadn't seemed to even notice they were sitting there watching him. He walked over to the dresser and pulled out Sirius's half finished bottle of Ogden's Firewhiskey. He poured himself a large shot and Tonks and Moody shared a significant look, deeply disturbed - they had never seen him like this before; it seemed most out of place.
"Remus?" asked Tonks tentatively.
He gave a start and looked across to them, half way though pouring himself a second shot and gave a nod, as if to acknowledge their presence.
"What happened Remus?" she asked, wandering over to him, looking concerned.
"I can't do these visits anymore," said Remus in a steady voice as he walked over to the table completely bypassing Tonks.
"What?" asked Tonks, sounding alarmed, "Why? What happened?"
Remus shook his head and stared straight ahead of him, obviously not seeing what he was looking at.
"That boy is just so..." he began slowly, unable to think of the proper word and slumping into his chair opposite Moody, whose scarred face was twisted into a knowing smirk.
"Give them an inch, they take a mile," he said, nodding at his own wise words.
Remus shook his head again and Tonks slid into the seat opposite him, staring at him avidly.
"What happened?" she breathed, eyes wide.
Remus was silent and Tonks shuffled forward in her seat.
"Alastor," said Remus after a few minutes of silence, "I'm officially asking to be taken off visiting duty, I can't do them anymore."
"We can put you on guard duty instead," he said without question.
She fidgeted in her seat, looking desperately like she wanted to ask Remus what had happened, but refused to do so with Moody hanging around.
"Did you find out anything about Our Girl?" he asked, leaning across the table with interest.
"Oh yes," said Remus almost bitterly, "she was there."
"We know that," said Tonks, looking worried, "Verne called in just after you left."
"So, what did you find out? Who is she?" pressed Moody.
"He wouldn't say," said Remus, taking another deep swig of drink, "basically I have been told that the Order are to stop chasing after Our Girl and holding him prisoner in his own home and to start chasing after Death Eaters and murderers instead. A better use of our time he thinks."
Tonks raised her eyebrows at him in surprise, Moody however was unmoved.
"Did you manage to speak to her?" he asked briskly.
"No, she made her excuse and left as soon as I turned up, said she'd see him around and that she had to 'go and see a man about a dog'."
"Ah-ha!" cried Moody at once, "they're using code words already! What other secrets must they be keeping?"
"Don't be stupid Mad-Eye," said Tonks, rolling her eyes, "it's a muggle expression, it means you've got to go a do something important."
"Muggle expression or not, what do you think this important thing she had to go and do was, eh?" said Moody, looking like all his Christmases had come at once.
"Mad-Eye," began Tonks exasperatedly, "I really think all we're talking about here is a girl that Harry's got feeling for, nothing else."
"I don't buy this whole relationship lark," he sniffed impatiently, "it's just a cover and you know it!"
Suddenly there was a burst of flame above the table and a second later a roll of parchment dropped out of it onto the table.
"Verne," said Tonks, reaching forward and unrolling the parchments.
A slow smile spread across her face as she handed them to Moody.
"Just a cover story eh?" she asked sweetly as he and Remus looked down at the sheaf of photo's.
It was Harry and the person they'd all come to nickname Our Girl kissing on the doorstep. It was a magical photo and Remus watched open mouthed as they parted as she began to walk down the drive. He looked across to Tonks who had a triumphant look in her eyes.
"I told you. He's in love!"
It wasn't until that night as he was climbing into bed that he noticed two things sitting on his bedside table. The first was a small bottle of coca cola, which he picked up with a grin - typical Kitty. The second was sitting underneath the bottle; a small brown envelope with the words 'Harry - FYEO' written on it in biro. With a puzzled look at it (he had no idea what FYEO meant) he opened it and pulled out a tatty piece of paper that had obviously come from a spiral bound notebook, a quick glance down at the signature told him it was indeed from Kitty.
He lay down on his bed and began to read the letter, wide grin on his face.
You'd have got this letter in one of two ways I guess, either my well-thought out attempt to get into your house didn't work and the police was called, in which case this has been posted, or I actually managed to get in and I left this in your room. Either way - you're obviously reading this so mission accumplished (not spelled right I know).
Harry paused, laughing at her tone. She wrote just how she spoke.
Anywho, enough of the rambles. This letter was my attempt at being serious if I didn't manage to be so today (which is probably likely yeah?). I just wanted to tell you that I am not in fact insane, although at times it may seem like that, and I'm sorry if you think I'm being a weird stalker type coming to your house and all that. I found your address out from some guys we used to go to school with, they knew Dudley. I was going to explain why I came over right about now, but I'm still not really sure - is it enough to say I just wanted to see you again felt like it? Feel free to laugh out loud at this point, I did.
He stopped again, his stomach giving a pleasant lurch at the thought. He quite liked the fact that she had the same trouble in placing her finger on what exactly was going on.
I'm really not very good at writing stuff like this, there's a special word for it isn't there, when you can't say the thoughts you have in your head? Anyway, if you didn't think I was mad before, you do now. And while your opinion of me is low, I'm going to get the point. I didn't believe you in the park when you said people could be listening or watching us, I just said you were being paranoid. But I saw that woman come after you as soon as you left, and I watched you arguing with her as she walked you away. I don't pretend to understand what the hell is happening, what you could have possibly done that would mean you should be followed or watched or whatever.
Maybe you're the ones that insane, hey?
But I do know this - everything I said to you in the park was the God honest truth. Harry, I can see your unhappiness, anyone could if they took two seconds to look at you properly. And I know it must be something more than your Aunt and Uncle, why else would you not want to go back to school? I didn't buy any of that crap about not being able to pay fees - like they'd spend any money on you anyway. I also know you've been thinking of getting out long before we met, maybe you're already planning it now and I want you to know that if you do, you come to me ok? I'm going to give you my address so that when you get out you come here straight away right, I can help you, you know I can.
So now my reputation as a madwoman is fully cemented you can make up your own mind. If you decide I'm being way too pushy since we only just met then forget about it, and I wish you all the luck in the world, whatever happens. But if you decide the other way, you know where to come.
Anyway, better go, gotta go see a man about a dog,
Harry dropped the letter to his lap and stared at it for a long time. What was he supposed to think about all that? She had guessed so much about him from only a few meetings, how long would it be until he couldn't keep his story up? Despite the warning bells that went off in his head he found himself not caring, there was something about her, something that made him brush aside all thoughts of the pain and sadness he'd been wallowing in since she'd left, that little bit of light.
He looked back at the letter, rereading it a few times. He thought it was quite sweet the way she'd try and say something meaningful and serious, but overbalanced it with wisecracks or self-mocking comments, as if this would make it more acceptable to him if he thought she was prying. She had jotted down her address as well and he studied it intently, trying to commit it to memory.
At the same time as Harry was reading his letter from Kitty, a large proportion of the Order were finishing a meeting and we're now sitting around the dinner table, waiting for another feast from Mrs Weasley, who was fluttering around the kitchen impatiently batting away the others attempt to help. She reflected upon the latest news, of Harry's new girlfriend, with deep suspicion - the girl in the photograph was not someone she'd want to see Harry associating with and she agreed with Moody that something ought to be done. She was just serving up dinner when Tonks turned up. Molly carefully pushed the knife that was leaning on the side of the table out of her reach, Merlin only knew what trouble she could wreak with that thing.
"Do you need any help Molly?" she asked, face full of sincerity and eagerness to please.
She chuckled to herself, the only reason she was trying to be so helpful was because Charlie had arrived at the dinner table.
"No I'm fine dear, you just sit down and have a rest, you've had a busy day," she said kindly, ladling out the gravy in copious amounts onto the plates of beef and veg.
"As have you," she pointed out, pushing her pink hair behind her ear self-consciously, "please, I'd like to do something."
"He won't notice you unless you're 30 ft long, have scales and breath fire dear," she said, trying to be as kind, and as blunt, as possible.
"What?" she said blankly, before realisation dawned and she went red, "that's got nothing to do with it...I just wanted to help..."
"Of course dear," said Molly, patting her lightly on the shoulders, "just you sit down."
"I could take Remus his dinner?" she suggested hopefully.
"I think it's best to leave Mr Lupin alone right now, don't you think?" asked Molly, questioning tone subtly hiding the fact it was a statement.
"He'll be hungry," she said, trying to inject a little bit of authority into her voice too, "and it might help him sober up. I'll only be a second."
She held out her hands, waiting for the plate and Molly could do nothing but sigh and hand her a serving. Tonks took off at high speed, but didn't trip once.
She padded up the wooden stairs, trying to ignore the leering heads of the house-elves staring down at her as she made her way to the top of the house. She paused outside the door to the room Remus was in, partly to gain her composure from the high climb, and partly because she was about to enter the place that had been out of bounds for over a month; Sirius's room.
Hesitantly, she raised her hand to the door and gave it a quick rap of the knuckles. She paused but there was no reply, so she tried again and this too was greeted by stony silence.
"Remus?" she tried in a quiet, yet reassuring voice, "I've bought you some dinner...can I come in?"
"I'm coming in ok?"
She gulped slightly and opened the door, which creaked loudly on its hinges. She winced at the noise and stuck her head around the door to find her nose instantly invaded by two smells, the first was the smell of an abandoned room, musty and unlived in, the second was Firewhiskey. She walked in slowly, eyes falling on Remus, who was slumped on the floor, back propped up against the bed as he stared unseeingly at the carpet.
"I bought you some dinner," she tried again, wondering if she was about to be yelled at, "we missed you at the meeting."
"Didn't feel like coming," he said, giving a slight laugh and still staring at the patch ahead of him.
"Mind if I come in?" asked Tonks.
"Would you do anything but?" he said, raising the glass to his mouth again in a mechanical action.
She sat down on the floor next to him and propped her own back up against the bed, feeling overcome by the surroundings. Sirius's room looked exactly the same as the instant he'd dropped everything and headed over to the Department of Mysteries, a cloak lay tossed over the chair to his desk, his bed was still unmade, there was a half-finished cup of now-moulding tea on the bedside table. Tonks found the surroundings unbearable to cope with, the great weight Sirius's death had left them all with was suffocating with all these reminders littered abut the room so carelessly, a shoe at the base of the bed, an old sock that had missed the laundry basket, a small book sitting on the table, opened and marked at a certain page.
"Look what I found," said Remus, showing her something with a heavy, lidded look in his eyes.
Tonks took the sheaf of parchment from his hand and looked at it - it was a letter to Harry, half-finished.
Congratulations on surviving your OWLS!
"He couldn't remember the charm to make the ink flash like that..." began Remus, voice breaking slightly, "he had to ask me..."
"Oh Remus," said Tonks, unwelcome tears springing to her eyes, "it's not good for you to be up here..."
"You know Sirius wouldn't want us to be like this," he began loudly, as if speaking to a third party spectre in the room, "he'd think we were just being miserable, he'd be so angry with me for it..."
His voice, which had been steadily worsening as he spoke, gave out and he had to cut off, taking time to give a great sniff and take another drink.
"He wouldn't be angry with you," said Tonks gently, "not for being sad, don't think that..."
"He would be angry with me!" he protested, tears welling up in his eyes, "I'm no good, I can't do it - I can't be like him!"
"No ones asking you too," said Tonks, placing a consoling hand on his shoulder.
"But they are! They want me to speak to Harry, ask him things, be his new godfather, but I can't!" he said, stumbling over his words through the befuddled mind of alcohol, "Harry doesn't even like me!"
"He does like you Remus," she told him firmly, "he always said you were his best teacher!"
"I don't want to be his teacher anymore! That was three years ago and if anything we're less friendly now than we were then!" he said, tears splashing down his cheeks, surprising Tonks.
"Harry's been through a lot Remus, loosing Sirius like that-"
"- I lost Sirius too!" he said loudly, gesticulating wildly with his glass, "Sirius was my best friend, not his! I knew him over twenty years longer than Harry did, so why can't I be the one who can't cope! Why can't I be the one who grieves for their closest friend lost too early?"
"You can," she told him, crying now too, "it's not a competition for the privilege to grieve...we can all do it together..."
He shook his head heavily, looking down into his glass and realising that it was empty with a start. He poured himself another, taking a deep gulp before wiping his nose on his cuffs.
"Is this about what happened today at the house..." she prompted, watching his drunken stupor with a tearful frown.
"Yes," he muttered into the rim of the glass.
"Did you argue?" she continued, wanting to keep up the conversation, hoping Remus could get what was bothering him off his chest.
"No, Harry just shouted at me and I listened," he said, before giving a bitter laugh, "he's just like James, he always knew if he shouted loud enough I wouldn't argue back. And Sirius, Sirius knew..."
"You need to stand up for yourself then Remus," Tonks told him slowly, "don't just stand around and take it from them."
"No matter to me," he said, muttering deeply under his breath now, "they're all dead anyway, James, Sirius, Peter probably, I'm the only one left now...last Marauder, all alone..."
"You're not alone Remus," she said, wrapping an arm around his shoulder, trying to offer what little comfort she could, "make the effort with Harry, he may not be James but he's the closest you're going to get for a while."
"I don't want to make the effort with Harry," he said angrily, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand again, "if it wasn't for him none of this would have happened!"
"Remus don't say things like that -" she began, shocked at his outburst.
"Why not? It's true! Everyone's thinking it, I'm just saying it!" he continued ranting, "we all know Sirius wouldn't be dead now if it wasn't for him, if he'd kept up his lessons with Snape instead of letting pigheaded foolishness get in the way! If he'd have been smart enough to realise it wasn't a vision! If he'd trusted Snape! If he'd looked in the mirror! If he hadn't gone to that place! Sirius would still be here...he'd still be here..."
Tonks gaped in shock at the usual calm, mild mannered man who was raging here in front of her one minute, breaking down the next. She couldn't think of anything to say, sure they all knew the details of that night, but Harry really hadn't had any choice in the events, they unfolded with sickening simplicity towards Voldemort's goal, another wizard duped with fatal consequences, not for the first, or last, time.
"It's not fair," said Remus hoarsely, running a shaking hand through his hair, "that he should be gone and I'm still here - why leave the most useless one here..."
"You're not useless," tried Tonks.
"I don't want him to be dead," Remus cried plaintively, as simple as a small child, "he didn't deserve to die, it wasn't his time...I want him to be alive again..."
"That's not going to happen," she whispered, tightening her arms around the broken man.
"I want him back," he choked out as she pulled him into a comforting embrace, "more than anything in the world..."
"I know," Tonks replied, smoothing down his hair as the tears rolled down her face, "I know."
Harry was lying stretched out on his bed, staring at the ceiling, his head nearly exploding at the thoughts which were blasting through it too quick to register. In his hand he held the letter that had been delivered only a few minutes ago by an unknown eagle owl. He had been heavily suspicious to begin with, and had opened it flinching. When the parchment had slipped out, he'd felt slightly foolish for his nerves, but now he felt like he had to hold it at arms length, such was the power the words held over him.
Quick as a flash Harry jumped to his feet and began to pace the room. He daren't look at the letter, just in case the words had changed by some cruel act of spite. However, after a few more seconds of furious movement around the room he bit the bullet and brought it up to his face, reading it quickly with eyes darting from side to side, trying to burn a hole in the parchment.
Dear Mr. Potter.
My name is Antonius Quibell, I am what you would term an 'Unspeakable' and I work for the Department of Mysteries.
Harry dropped the letter to his side. It still read the same as before and the fire in his belly seemed to grow, fed by the fuel the words had provided him with. His spine seemed to be tingling with the anticipation of finishing the letter and he brought it to his face again, licking his dry lips as he continued.
You may wonder why I am writing to you, and it is because of this; I know that you were part of the resistance that fought against the Death Eaters and the Dark One in my chambers, and I know you're connection with the one within the Veil.
Here Harry stopped again, throwing the letter onto his bed and staring at it furiously. What did this mean, how did this man know about Sirius being in the veil, how could he possibly know? Unable to tear himself away from the letter however, he all but threw himself onto the parchment.
I cannot tell you all I would like to say, all that you need to hear within the parchment. The best I can do is to show you…show you what you must desperately want to see. You need to understand what the veil is, what it means to be within the veil, this I can tell you.
It was too fantastical. Harry couldn't believe what the man was trying to tell him, he wanted to, but he couldn't…
I have seen the one in the veil, and I have spoken to him and I can tell you what they said. You must meet with me, you must know. You cannot speak to anyone about this, those at the ministry and your colleagues will not approve, and as you understand, my job dictates secrecy. Those that go by the name of unspeakables, are silenced.
I give you my address, if you want to know, then come to me. If you do not want to know, I will understand. Destroy this letter once you have read it and never speak about it.
It had to be a set up, this was just another of Voldemort's plans to get to him. What better way to get past the protections of the Order, Hogwarts and Privet Drive than by appealing to his grief for Sirius? All this Harry's brain told him, and all this his heart ignored. Yes it could be a ploy, but it sounded so much like one it couldn't be, it just sounded so unbelievable, so obvious, surely if Voldemort's were trying to trick him into escaping, he could think of a better reason than that?
And anyway, Harry was running away already, what harm could there be in checking out Quibell's story? And if it were true…
Harry couldn't dare to dream what this man might be able to tell him…
What the veil is, what it means to be within the veil…
He'd spoken to Sirius. Then man said it right there, plain as day, I have spoken to the one behind the veil…that meant Sirius was, as Harry had always truly believed, alive.
Alive, and able to talk. He could explain everything, find a way to get him out of there. At that moment in time, Harry wanted nothing more than to have Sirius back, to see him standing there next to him in his room, worrying about his health, what was going on outside and within Hogwarts. He wanted him back so badly it was almost too painful to bear.
He needed to speak to someone, stop this feeling like he was about to explode from all the knowledge. He wanted someone to explain this feeling to.
He realised with a start that he wanted Kitty there.
"HARRY!" shrieked his aunts voice and Harry glared at the door.
How dare she talk to him at a time lime this!
He stood silent, letter still clutched in his hand.
"HARRY!" came her voice again.
He threw himself at the door and quite unexpectedly shouted, "What!"
"It's the phone for you," she said coldly, looking at him as if he'd just made a grave mistake, which he would pay for later - when he was out of earshot of the Order perhaps.
It was her, wasn't it?
Harry just knew it was Kitty and he all but galloped down their stairs towards his aunt. He'd just been thinking about her, right at that moment, and now she was here on the phone, just when he needed her, he could talk about the letter.
Harry took the phone from his aunt's hand, who was glaring at him evilly now and turned his back to her.
"Hello?" he asked in a breathless, excited voice.
"Hi Harry," said a voice, sounding slightly nervous, "it's me."
Harry couldn't have deflate quicker than he if he were Aunt Marge in a pin factory, the disappointment of the voice on the end of the line not belonging to Kitty was like a punch in the gut.
"Hermione," stated Harry glumly, loosing interest in the conversation before it had even begun.
"Hi Harry," she repeated, sounding even more anxious now at his tone of voice, "how are you?"
He felt like saying; terrible, horrible, awful…I can't believe you're calling me at a time like this…I can't believe you're not Kitty…I can't believed I'm disappointed to hear from you…what's wrong with me?
"Fine," was what he actually said.
"Did Remus give you my book?" she asked.
Their conversation was so strained, so awkward….
"Yeah, thanks," he said, frowning at the wall in front of him as he cradled the phone under his chin, "I haven't had chance to look yet."
She sounded hurt, and Harry was almost shocked at himself to find he wasn't that bothered.
"So, Harry…" she began, obviously casting around for conversation, "what have you been up to?"
He almost smiled at the blank wall in front of him. She didn't know, they hadn't told her about Kitty….Harry knew what Hermione would sound like if she wanted to talk about something like Kitty, and this wasn't it. He remembered her last year, she'd just come right out and asked about Cho, it was Ron who couldn't talk.
He grinned to himself – why hadn't Hermione or even Ron been told about Kitty (because you could be sure that if one knew, the other would find out soon enough). He would have thought that would be the first place the Order looked after him for answers.
"Oh, you know…" said Harry finally, being deliberately vague, "not much…you?"
"Well that's what I wanted to speak to you about," she said and Harry gave a grin of recognition- he knew that tone of voice from Hermione.
"What's up?" he said, looking down at the pad of paper by the phone and investigating the notes jotted on it.
"Well I'm going on holiday tomorrow," she said in a rush, "you know the one I told you about - to France?"
"Yeah," said Harry distantly, wondering who Bernie was, and why Uncle Vernon had to ring him back between 5.12 and 5.38. It seemed a very random number.
"Well, I just want you to know, that if you need me here, I won't go, I can stay with Ron I'm sure…"
All this came in the usual Hermione rush but Harry couldn't help but feel strangely touched by this. He stopped looking at the pad and stared at the wall again, why would she give up a holiday to stay around for him? Was everyone that worried about him?
"I'm fine Hermione," he said stolidly, "go on holiday, visit museums, eat cheese, have fun."
She gave a slight laugh. He wished he could add, 'tell me how it feels' but didn't think it was appropriate.
"Ok…if you're sure?" she said, sounding thoroughly relieved by his ability to crack jokes.
He looked down at the parchment still in his hands, almost jumping at the sight of it. He seemed to have convinced himself that if he didn't look at it every minute it would cease to be real and become some sort of dream.
Harry nodded at the parchment, "I'm sure."
Why wasn't he going to tell her about it? Because he knew what she'd say? What that meant…
"Ok," she breathed, failing to hide her relief, "we, er, we missed you the other day, at Diagon Alley…"
He gave a sigh, he knew she'd try and get around to this.
"Yeah," he said neutrally, obviously dissuading any further questioning.
Hermione heard this and there was a slight pause, then, "Ron and Dean had a fight – he was at Diagon Alley too."
"Oh yeah?" asked Harry, cheering up slightly at this, "did he win?"
"I think so," she said thoughtfully, "but Ginny stopped them before it got bad…Got a bit of a black eye – Mrs Weasley was so angry she's left it there and refuses to heal it…"
Harry chuckled to himself, imagining Ron's reaction to seeing Dean through the crowd.
"Yeah, he's grounded now…" said Hermione, sounding disapproving at Ron's behaviour, "Dean's taking Ginny to a football match tomorrow and Ron's being locked in his room while he comes…How childish is that?"
"Sounds like Ron to me," said Harry with a laugh.
"Yeah, well…" she said with huff, "you'd think he'd have better things to worry about…"
Harry felt his mood that was approaching happiness dissipate instantly, all at once he knew what Hermione was referring to.
"The whole families off doing things all over the place," she said quietly, "I think most days it's just him and Ginny at home…"
"Aw, poor Ron," said Harry sarcastically causing Hermione to be silent for a few moments.
When she spoke again she sounded annoyed at him.
"Well, I think you just might like to think what they're doing and then you might know why he's so worried."
Harry was silent now too, feeling suitably rebuked but desperately holding his tongue back at the tirade of 'how unfair is it that' he wanted to say.
Maybe they were right, he had changed.
"Anyway, Charlie and Bill are back now," she said.
"Everyone but Percy, huh?" he mused and heard her give a snort of disapproval.
"Yes, well. He made his choice," she said stiffly.
Harry didn't say anything, his gaze was drawn back to the letter in her hand, maybe Hermione would know this Antonius Quibell, or Ron, his dad worked at the Ministry after all. But he wasn't going to ask them, was he? He already knew deep down in his heart he wasn't going to tell his best friends anything.
But he'd consider telling a perfect stranger.
Who you kissed, he reminded himself, or who kissed you…
"I've got a works experience placement when I get back off holiday."
"Oh yeah?" asked Harry vaguely, not feeling surprised at all at Hermione's eagerness to start work, "where at?"
"Oh, Ron's dad had a friend in Magical Beings department – I thought it would be a good place to test my theories on Elfish welfare," she sounded like she was trying to batten down her excitement.
Harry fought to stop the roll of his eyes, "Sounds perfect Hermione."
"Yeah, I-" she began before he heard a voice in the background and Hermione's muffled reply, "yes, I'm just coming, salmon please, hang on…Listen Harry I have to go."
"Don't we all?" he said and she was silent for a moment.
"Right, well. I'll see you when I get back from France."
No you won't.
"And I'll send you a postcard."
You won't find me here.
"Look after yourself Harry. I mean it."
If only you knew.
Harry put down the phone and stared at it for a long time.
Harry lay on his bed, staring up at the snitch, which was darting about the place. It made him feel like playing Quidditch, and this made him think of his plan to run away, which automatically made him think of Kitty. He'd kissed her, or she'd kissed him, he couldn't quite remember now, but he couldn't help feeling that this was a Big Thing. After the veritable disaster his foray into dating provided with Cho, he couldn't fully comprehend being with someone who didn't sob all over his shoulder and make him feel clueless.
Then again, he countered, Kitty made him feel more clueless than Cho ever could – all she had to do was start talking about anything to do with the muggle world and he felt slightly on edge, a little lost…Most of the time he didn't have a clue what she was talking about, but he didn't actually seem to care.
He realised he should have been going over tomorrow nights plan again, but every time he did he found his thoughts returning to her. He'd already decided he would visit her before he left Surrey, but realised that this would mean saying goodbye, which he really didn't want to have to do. The snitch dive bombed across the room suddenly and he watched it, idea forming in his mind.
"Work, damn you," he said thoughtfully, and the snitch fluttered down to him, hovering at eye height.
He went over the idea in his head again, before giving a shrug – what was the harm?
"Show me Kitty – Catherine Earl."
It darted out of the window instantly and he flipped up the lid of the box, watching the snitches dizzying progress and it fluttered away down the street. He wondered suddenly if Mrs Figg would see, before trying to decide whether a squib could see things like that. However, it passed her house without incident and he watched the box for about five minutes as it flew across the houses, wondering if it had a distance limiter.
Before he could decide however, he saw it slowing down, descending upon what looked like a small car park. He squinted at it, realising in time that it was the basketball court in the park near him and that on it was a solitary player. He shuffled onto his elbows as he watched her curiously, bouncing the ball against the tarmac before shooting for the hoop.
She missed and wandered over to find the ball. She didn't seem to be fully concentrating on anything, and instead of shooting she merely walked along in any old direction, bouncing the ball. He smiled to himself, she was actually really pretty, he'd never stopped to think before.
The snitch gave a sudden close up of her and he was worried to see she had a deep frown on her face, but that's not all it showed. It darted past her arm as she ran for the hoop again and he saw a large bruise there, almost black against her white vest top.
Harry couldn't help but feel this was very ominous, and watched her for a few more minutes as she passed the time, throwing the ball with increasing violence at the hoop. At one point to whole stand vibrated with the force and the wood creaked slightly as she shouted out in frustration, strangely muted through the snitch box.
He suddenly felt like maybe he'd passed the line between testing a theory and spying and was about to recall the snitch when a sudden change in her mood seemed to take place. Giving a silent sigh, she wandered over to the ball, picking it up and balancing it between her hip and her wrist and merely stood at the chain fence, waiting.
For a long time he couldn't figure out what she was waiting for, before it suddenly dawned on him. She was waiting for him to come and visit the park again. It occurred to him that this was a little strange before getting another look at the expression on her face instantly dismissed this, she was lonely…
He almost got up to go to the park before he realised how impossible this was, it was getting dark out and there would be no way that the Order would let him out now and even then they'd follow. After a long time spent just staring through the chain-link, Kitty looked at her watch, grabbed her coat and trudged out of the park.
Tonks waited until the girl had walked past her and was almost at the bus stop when she began to follow her, settling into a suitable walking style as she became accustomed to her new appearance - it'd been a while since she'd found it necessary to appear younger and being 16 again was quite fun.
However, before she got too carried away she reminded herself what she was doing and focussed her attention on the girl in front of her. She was wearing baggy trousers and a black coat, absentmindedly bouncing a ball along the street and Tonks wondered why she was trudging so wearily. They soon came to a bus stop and the girl slumped onto the bench, holding her face in her hands.
Tonks leaned against the bus shelter too, making every appearance of waiting for a bus, whilst watching the girl surreptitiously out of the corner of her eye. She couldn't tell, but she thought that the girl was upset, she certainly had a weary look about her and Tonks decided to make her move.
"Hey, you ok?" she asked in her best impersonation of the local accent.
The girl lifted her head slightly, looked at Tonks through her spread fingers.
"Fine," she said after a couple of seconds.
The way she said it left no room for further questioning, or left Tonks in any doubt that this girl wanted you to know she was absolutely 100.
"Know when the next bus is?" she asked, hoping to keep her engaged in conversation.
"There's a time table right next to you," she replied, before turning away and pulling out a pack of cigarettes.
"Right," she said hastily, turning to pretend to read it.
And that was that, the girl was remarkably guarded and it seemed like she wasn't going to get anywhere with her at all. When she turned around the girl was smoking, slouched down in her chair and staring off into the distance, if only she could find a way in, but every conversation starter Tonks thought of died in her throat when she realised how stupid they sounded.
Finally the bus rolled around the corner and the girl got up, throwing the butt to the floor a climbing aboard. Tonks eavesdropped on her destination and repeated this when she got to the bus driver, choosing a seat across from the girl.
Moody would kill her if she didn't get any good information.
However, just at that moment an overly large woman sat down next to her and boxed her in, effectively cutting her off. Tonks grimaced and idled away the 20 minute journey by staring out of the window, formulating ideas. This girl lived quite some distance away she realised, and had travelled all this way, just to hang out at a park near where Harry lived. Was he supposed to be meeting her or was she just waiting, in the chance that he might have gone? Either way it was curious, and by the expression on the girls face, Tonks realised she could probably have done with someone to talk to.
Suddenly, the bell was being pushed and the girl was getting off and Tonks had to fight to make it off in time too. This time she let a little bit of distance between her and the girl as she decided she wouldn't be able to talk to her and it was just best she got an address, something Bill could work with in the Muggle Records Department.
She'd been dodging and weaving through the throngs of people returning home from work and heading into the centre of the town, which was only a few streets away when she lost sight of the girl. She cursed herself and wandered on anyway, about to turn back when a voice surprised her.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd swear you were following me."
Tonks spun around to see the girl sitting cross-legged on a low wall outside a massive multi-storey building, giving her a challenging look.
"I could say the same about you," replied Tonks easily, not letting her surprise show.
"Following you's a lot harder when I'm in front," she replied and Tonks knew that somehow she'd guessed…
But that wasn't possible was it?
"Where are you heading?" she continued.
"I'm meeting my boyfriend in town," she lied smoothly, "in McDonalds. Some big drama I guess, calling me all the way over here."
"Really?" she nodded.
"Guys huh? Always something going on," she hinted hopefully.
"I suppose so."
Damn it, cursed Tonks, that was the perfect opportunity for her to say something about Harry.
"Better not keep him waiting," said the girl, looking at Tonks curiously.
"Best not, see you around," said Tonks, walking off at once.
She didn't once look back, because she knew that this would just cement her guilt with the girl. However, as soon as she rounded the corner out of sight she jumped amongst some trees in a large communal garden. Changing her appearance quickly to that of a haggard middle aged woman, she changed her clothes and quickly walk back towards the building she'd been sitting outside of. Sure enough, she got up, and instead of heading into the building, crossed the road and headed towards the identical one opposite.
She really did think she was being followed, noted Tonks with some surprise - paranoid much?
She entered to tower block just behind the girl, following her up the stairs slowly, making sure she didn't look at her once. Memorising the floor number, she followed her into one of the corridors, taking note of the flat numbers until the girl stopped outside one a let herself in.
Flat 18d, Tonks memorised, not stopping as she walked past.
Kitty lay on the sofa in her room, staring at the ceiling. There was an interesting patch of mould that, if you squinted in just the right way, looked like a rabbit wearing a pointed hat. She spent a fruitful 10 minutes screwing her face into differing expressions as more thing became visible - a carrot, a nose that actually looked like an elephant trunk. It really was amazing what you could do to occupy yourself, take your mind of things.
Eventually however, she gave a heavy sigh and rolled onto her side, catching sight of her phone, illuminated in the dark. She wished she had Harry's number, she knew he had a phone, she'd seen it the day they'd met on the bus. Why hadn't he given it to her?
As if in answer to this her phone suddenly lit up and played a short ditty. She practically threw herself across the room for it, her heart hammering madly - it was him…she'd just been thinking about him and now he'd texted her…
She opened the message and practically yelled with frustration when she read the name of the sender.
Hey babe. Not seen u 4 a few dayz, where u bin ? Shud I b jealous of some1? I'm coming ova 2nite - Love M x
Kitty threw her phone back onto the sofa without replying. Then, after a few moments of staring at it angrily, she kicked out at the side of her desk, causing a stack of videos to wobble precariously before crashing to the floor.
She bit her thumb nail for sometime thinking, looking over to the bag propped up behind her door. There was no way she was going to be here if Micky was coming. She knew exactly where she wanted to be, she just didn't know why.
What was wrong with her?
She threw herself back onto the sofa and buried her head in her pillow and thought about yesterday. Then she thought about Micky coming over.
Then she grabbed her coat and left.
Tonks was sprawled out on the sofa of Grimauld Place chatting with Bill. She hadn't seen him for so long and it seemed a million years ago they'd all sat in the grounds of Hogwarts, happily insulting each other and making fun of Charlie.
But then again, something's never changed.
"That was so your fault!" she giggled as Bill shook his head at her.
"I seem to recall a little something called a 'babbling potion' accidentally ending up in his drink…" he mused with mock-innocence.
"Oh yeah! I wonder how that got there…" she said airily, before taking a swig of her hot chocolate and giving a contented sigh.
"He got you back though eh?" he pointed out, "how many points did you lose by?"
"Only 10," she said defensively, "and it was in the middle of a gale, and I did have a sprained wrist."
"Excuses excuses little sis," he laughed, "we whopped you're Ravenclaw arse."
"Chuh - you thought you were so clever eh? I got him back though," she reminded him.
"Ah yes, the-" began Bill before a sudden noise from the hall made them look up.
It was the sound of a book being dropped to the floor and they saw Remus wearily pick it up. He glanced into the lounge where they were, saw them, and without a single word or acknowledgment, trudged down the corridor. They waited until he was safely out of earshot before they began to talk about him.
"He's messed up huh?" said Bill in a low voice.
Tonks nodded heavily and watched the now empty doorway, remembering the dead expression on his face.
"It's Sirius…" she began, a look of pain flitting across her face, "I don't know…"
"What happened the other night?" he asked, shuffling closer to her.
"Well, you know he had an argument with Harry the other day?" she whispered, eyes trained on the door, just in case, "well I think he must have said something, about Sirius…he was completely plastered anyway…"
"Remus?" he asked incredulously, "drunk?"
"Yeah," she nodded seriously, "as a skunk!"
"But Remus?" he asked her, "I've never seen a drop pass his lips, let alone getting that drunk?"
"He never had good enough reason until now," she said heavily, before adding hastily, "or so I imagine."
"Sirius," said Bill heavily, "it was his best friend after all…I get the feeling he doesn't have many, besides us lot, and we're a ragtag lot."
"Yeah I know," she mused, glancing towards the direction he left again, "I think he might be embarrassed about talking to me now…"
"Drunken rambles are not good," agreed Bill with a reminiscent laugh, "do you remember when we sneaked off to the muggle pub by us with Charlie and Camilla?"
"Oh yeah," said Tonks, squealing with embarrassment, "what a night…didn't you and Charlie try to climb over that hedge? Ended up in the slurry ditch!"
"I seem to recall you and Camilla tried a bit of midnight swimming in the river," he replied airily and she laughed even more, "without clothes too. Mum would be scandalised."
"Yeah, if she knew! Those were good times," she sighed wistfully, "I miss them."
"Yeah, when did it all get so serious eh?" he asked her.
"I suppose when we got old," she replied, thinking about Remus again, she wondered if he'd ever done anything reckless like skinny dipping in a freezing Devonian river or trying hedge vaulting.
"Less of the old," he replied affectionately, before notice the expression on her face, "why don't you go and speak to him? You know, initiate the conversation so he's not too embarrassed?"
"You think so?" she asked him with an anxious look towards the door.
"I reckon he could probably do with the company more right now?"
"Maybe…save the memories for later yeah?" she asked, already getting up, "I'll be right back."
Bill merely waved her off, picking up the nearby newspaper and beginning to read as Tonks wandered through the hall of Grimauld Place to the kitchens. She checked her appearance before she walked in, frowning slightly as she saw Remus at the table, chin cradled in his hand as he stared off at nothing.
"Wotcher Remus," she said, giving him a slight smile.
He jumped slightly and gave her a surprised looks.
"Oh, hello Tonks," he said, sounding flustered, "I, er, didn't see you there…"
"Practising my stealth," she joked, not surprised to see it went completely over his head.
He merely nodded and she decided to simply bite the bullet.
"How's your head?" she asked lightly.
"Oh," he said vaguely, cheeks flushing slowly, "not the best it's been."
"How about a coffee," was all she said, recognising his expectant air of reprimand or judgement.
He merely nodded gratefully, sinking into one of the chairs around the large kitchen table. Tonks found herself unconsciously looking for a kettle and coffee grains before the magical part of her woke up and reminded her about flicking a wand. She placed the mug in front of him, sitting on the table with her feet propped up on the chair next to him.
He was completely silent and she tried not to stare at him, sipping the coffee cautiously.
"Eugh," she frowned instantly, "my coffee always tastes crap…"
He gave a flicker of a smile, before taking a sip himself. She saw him give a slight grimace, covering it up quickly with a polite look.
She began to laugh, "No need to be polite Remus! How about some real coffee?"
So she set about transfiguring a mug into a cafetiere, summoning some ground coffee and pouring boiling water from the tip of her wand into it.
"So," she said as the coffee was left to stand, "what's the next step with Our Girl and Harry?"
"I'm not quite sure," he told her with a sigh, "I'm seeing Dumbledore tomorrow, he'll tell us the best course of action. Meanwhile I guess we could visit her tomorrow, find out a little more about her?"
"Sounds like a plan man," said Tonks, summoning over two mugs, "Ron's coming over soon, we could ask him?"
"That's an idea," said Remus, perking up slightly, "Harry would tell them about her wouldn't he?"
"He is a teenage boy after all," added Tonks with a laugh, "with all that it entails."
"Yeah, good times," mused Remus thoughtfully.
She looked at him in surprise.
"I just said the exact same thing to Bill," she told him.
"Really?" he asked, smiling slightly, "being a teenager in Hogwarts, now that was always fun. Even if you did get into a certain amount of trouble."
"I bet," she reminisced, "I was always in some detention or another. I was sure Dumbledore was going to magically attach a 'disturbing the peace' sign on my head at once point."
"I'm surprised we weren't expelled sometimes," Remus added, "the stuff we got up to."
Tonks found herself watching Remus with a new found sadness, both James and Sirius were gone now, Peter was as good as gone, he was right, he was the only one left. It was just too sad, she reflected later on that evening as she thought about it, Remus really didn't have anyone else left.
"Ron," came a voice, causing him to spin around quickly.
"Professor Lupin," he said automatically, feeling somewhat surprised.
"I keep telling you Ron, I'm not your professor anymore," said the man easily, wandering into the room.
"Oh, right," he nodded quickly, looking around the room for inspiration, "is er, everything ok?"
"Yes yes, everything's fine," said the man reassuringly, "I just wanted a chat with you."
Ron knew exactly what this meant - when adults used words like 'chat' or 'talk' or 'discussion', it was a sure thing that thy had discovered something that you'd done. No good ever came from having a chat.
"Really?" he said nervously, "only…I should probably help mum…"
Remus smiled at his reaction, causing Ron's nerves to increase - what had he done that would get him in trouble with his ex-professor?
"It won't take a minute," he said, sitting down on the musty bed.
"Right," he said morosely, standing in front of him, hands behind his back, "what's up?"
"I just wondered if you'd spoken to Harry recently?"
Ron almost sighed out loud in relief - it wasn't him that was in trouble after all! This was short lived however, as he could see the worry in the man's eyes.
"He hasn't replied to any of our letters," said Ron awkwardly, wondering if he should be divulging this information, "I think he just must be really busy…"
Professor Lupin looked at him as if to say 'what could Harry possibly be doing at the Dursley's?' and Ron had to admit, he was right. Harry was always saying how he was so bored there he was nearly tearing his hair out.
"Has Hermione heard from him either?" he asked.
"She spoke to him on the muggle thingy yesterday," he said, remembering Hermione's letter that now lay in his small trunk, explaining everything they'd talked about.
"Phone?" nodded Remus, before pausing to think, "How was he, did she say?"
Ron looked over to his trunk briefly, Hermione had been really upset about the conversation, she was really worried about his tone of voice she'd said, but somehow Ron didn't think telling the professor was a good idea.
"He was ok, bit bored," he said, before cursing himself - he'd just accused Harry of being too busy to communicate.
"He was ok?" asked Remus sceptically and Ron shrugged, "Only, I haven't seen him for a while now…bit of a misunderstanding really…"
"He bit your head off right?" asked Ron before he could stop himself.
Remus looked at him strangely.
"I mean, er, did you have an argument?" he corrected, tips of his ears turning red.
"Of a sort," he replied, looking at Ron as if he was rapidly forming an idea, "how's he been, since everything happened?"
"Oh, you know, getting on with things," said Ron vaguely, thinking back to the deterioration in his friends behaviour in the last month.
"Only Tonks told me what happened in Diagon Alley," he continued.
"Yeah, well…it was a mistake anyone could make," shrugged Ron, feeling intensely uncomfortable.
"Do you think so?"
To tell the truth it wasn't the kind of the mistake you'd make. Sirius was dead, they all knew that, so how could Harry even think he could see him, in Diagon Alley no less? Hermione had been even more upset that day and Ron couldn't help in sharing her fear, why had Harry gone running after that dog, why had he just left just like that, why wasn't he talking to them?
"You're worried about him, aren't you?" said Remus.
Ron looked over to the door, he really didn't want to talk about this now, especially to someone he generally knew as his old professor and vaguely knew as an Order member. He knew Remus was a friend of Harry's dad, but it wasn't the same talking to him as it was with Sirius.
Remus took his silence as an answer and gave him a comforting smile.
"It'll be ok," he told him and Ron fought to roll his eyes.
He obviously didn't know Harry that well.
"You don't think so?" noted Remus.
"Well, with all due respect sir," said Ron, wishing he hadn't started speaking, "Harry's not really the kind of person to get over things, if you know what I mean."
The man looked slightly downcast at this.
"But you know, I'm sure whatever you were fighting about will get sorted…" he said hopefully.
He merely nodded.
It should be the other way around Ron realised, Remus was supposed to be telling him this sort of stuff. He wondered what they had been fighting about, knowing already that it was connected to Sirius in someway. He also realised he almost wanted Remus to continue pressuring him into talking about Harry, he was even more worried now he'd come to speak with him especially when combined with his lack of post, Hermione's conversation with him and Diagon Alley.
"Just one more question Ron," he asked, derailing his train of thought.
"Does Harry keep in touch with any of his muggle friends?" he said.
Ron couldn't help but feel his eyebrows shoot up, ready to laugh out loud that Harry didn't have any muggle friends when the strangeness of the question caught his attention.
"What do you mean?" he asked in confusion, "Why?"
"Well, we've just seen him meeting with someone and wondered if you knew who it could be?" he asked hopefully.
"Harry doesn't have any muggle friends," he said, frowning at the man, "what do mean meeting with someone? Who?"
"A girl," he said and Ron frowned even more, "we think it might be his girlfriend."
"What!" he exclaimed loudly.
"She lives in the nearest muggle city," he said as Ron goggled wordlessly, "but she's been to visit him a few times. We were wondering if he'd said anything to you?"
"No, he hasn't," said Ron vaguely, looking off into the middle distance.
"Perhaps he might have mentioned her before?"
Ron shook his head again.
"Maybe you'll recognise her?" he asked, pulling a photo out of his robes.
Ron took it wordlessly. It was obviously taken outside the Dursley's house and he could see Harry standing in the open doorway, dressed in baggy muggle clothes. Ron was momentarily sidetracked by how tired and ill he looked before the girl began walking down the pathway. The first thing he noticed was her outrageous muggle clothes - massive baggy jeans and a tiny tight top - no wonder Harry likes her he thought vaguely. Then other details began to come into view, she had hair that looked just like Lee Jorden's, but was multicoloured instead, she had her lip and eyebrow pierced, she wore make-up…
"You don't recognise her then?" asked the voice.
Ron looked up quickly, having completely forgotten that Remus had been there waiting for him to speak. He looked back at the photo.
"No, I don't," he said in confusion, "I don't understand…Harry's got a muggle girlfriend?"
And can't even be bothered to tell us about it, he added to himself.
"It is odd isn't it?" nodded Remus almost to himself, "Oh well. Thanks for the help Ron, dinner's probably ready soon."
"Right, ok," he said, watching the professor leave.
He flopped onto the bed, staring at the photo the man had forgotten to take back. How could Harry not tell them this? Why could he talk to some stranger, but couldn't even be bothered to jot a note for an owl? He obviously really upset about Sirius he scoffed, if he's already got himself a girlfriend.
After a restless few minutes of confused thought he jumped up, fetching a quill and some parchment;
To Hermione, You'll never guess what I just found out…
He began to write, scratching out his conversation with Remus, describing the photograph, subtly making inferences about what he thought without saying anything too specific.