Yes, but...: Fourteen

by Aestel

FOURTEEN
(Thursday Night)

Tonks had heard once that every avalanche starts with a single snowflake. Once, while on a particularly tedious stakeout, she'd spent some time pondering how anyone could actually determine the veracity of that assertion, or whether it was just one of those things you were supposed to take on faith. She hadn't come to any conclusion at the time, however, because her quarry had transfigured several nearby automobiles into dragons, and, as far as distractions went, that one rather took the cake.

But now she had snowflakes on the brain again, at least metaphorically. She couldn't pinpoint just when that fateful flake had fallen, but her instincts were screaming her that the ground was shifting about her and maybe she should take up skiing, fast. She'd need to be a bloody prodigy. The avalanche had already begun.

All things considered, Tonks would not have truly minded this if she didn't have the nagging feeling that in being caught up in the wedding plots, just about everyone was negligently ignoring Avery and Voldemort and the attack on the Muggles. And that... irked her. No, irking was too mild a term, she considered. It didn't irk, it bloody well rankled. She hadn't gone to all the trouble of arresting Avery and getting herself damned near killed in the process to not get anything out of it.

"Repeat what he said again," she asked Moody. They were gathered around the dining table at Grimmauld Place transfiguring serviettes into swans under Minerva McGonagall's watchful eye. The Order meeting had been unusually brief, and those not swift enough to escape immediately had been recruited to help make decorations.

"He said that all he remembered was that it was dark and underground. The man is useless."

"He knows what the plan is!" Tonks protested. "He certainly suggested he was hip deep in it, and I dosed him with veritaserum myself."

Moody took a pull from his flask. "So did I. Cygnafors."

"So how do we get it out of him? What if we got a warrant for the contents of his head?" Tonks suggested.

"Avery is more or less immune to Legilimency," Snape muttered a trifle resentfully, then swooshed his wand at another serviette. Tonks didn't have the heart to tell him that his swans looked more like vultures. It was, she supposed, surprising enough that he was lending a wand. "If he has any method of differentiating reality from fantasy in his own mind, I have not discovered it."

"I think we've got to accept that he's utterly unreliable," Moody said sourly.

"Which leaves us with little more than we had before we captured him," Tonks said. "Less, really, because we don't even know if anything he told us was true at all."

"We'll have half the department of magical law enforcement on standby and young Malfoy will be able to warn us once the attack is underway."

"At no insignificant risk to himself," Snape reminded them.

"The boy knows the risk. Where is he, anyway? I thought we expected him for the meeting."

"Likely doing what he must to keep his cover. Meanwhile, the savior of the wizarding world cannot be trusted to even transfigure serviettes without incident." Tonks followed Snape's glare to see the tail end of what appeared to be an epic battle between two decorative swans. Apparently the children, at least, were having fun. Well, Harry and Ron, in any case. Hermione and Ginny had been appropriated by the twins earlier. Tonks rather thought that they'd gotten the better end of the bargain.

"Boys!" McGonagall called them to order sharply.

"We were testing the delayed attack charm," Ron Weasley offered. "Seems to be in working order. Good work, that."

McGonagall inclined her head regally. "I live for your approval, Mr. Weasely."

"I don't like it," Tonks maintained, summoning another stack of serviettes. "There's got to be more we can do or something I'm missing..."

"There generally is, Piskie," Snape said, though it seemed more out of habit than any real antipathy. He dodged the incoming serviettes and grabbed several more for himself.

"Shut it, Snarkypants," Tonks returned almost absently.

"Bloody hell, they have pet names," Ron spluttered, elbowing Harry. "Did you hear that, mate? Pet names. Mark my words: It's a sure sign of the end."

"I think they can hear you, Ron."

"Focus, Weasely!" McGonagall admonished. "If you insist on becoming distracted by each and every revolting display, I'm afraid we will never finish these charms."

Tonks wasn't entirely certain that Minerva McGonagall hadn't just insulted her. She was saved from having to put too much thought into it when her great aunt's portrait started screeching about blood traitors again.

"Did I miss the meeting?" Draco Malfoy's blond head appeared in the doorway. Then he frowned. "What are you people doing?"

"We're making attack napkins," Ron Weasley said as if it should have been bloody obvious.

Tonks grinned a little maliciously. "You missed the meeting, but not the work. Remarkably bad timing for a Malfoy. Here, lend a wand. The spell goes like this: Cygnafors."

"Don't be ridiculous, Tonks." Malfoy scoffed. "If one of my new associates decides to test my wand with a priori incantatum spell, how the bloody hell am I supposed to explain away half a hundred swan charms?"

"You're queer?" Ron suggested. "Not sayin' that there's anything wrong with that, mind."

Draco hooked a chair with one foot and collapsed into it. "'Dear Voldemort, I think boys are pretty.' Yes, I'm certain that will go over well. Did you know it's actually a major life goal of mine to never discuss sexual proclivities with the Dark Lord?"

"Good goal," Potter approved.

"I think so. Look, I just came to tell you that it's happening Saturday."

"Yes, Draco, we are aware of that," Snape said. "That's why we're all clustered around the table transfiguring last-minute decorations."

Tonks shrugged. "Sorry we didn't invite you; thought it would blow your cover a bit."

"No, not the wedding, you nitwits, the attack on Muggles. Saturday night."

"Well, that's inconvenient," Ron said.

"Bugger." Tonks looked over to Snape. "I told you we should've sent him a Save the Date notice."

Snape chose not to dignify that with a response. Instead, he sighed and rubbed his temples. "And you have nothing further about the how or where?"

"Sorry."

Ron snorted. "Some spy you're turning out to be. Didn't they cover this sort of thing in Slytherin Orientation?"

"Shut up, Weasley." Snape picked up his wand, but, much to Tonks' relief, the only casualty was a serviette that might just resemble something faintly avian if one turned one's head to the side and squinted. "We shall get the notice out to the Aurors once it begins. Stay awhile, Draco. If they obtain your wand and search it, you're already dead."

AN: Thank you for sticking with me. You will notice somewhat more regular updates, hopefully from here on until the end. ;) I'm very much looking forward to Fifteen's release next week - it's one of my favorite chapters.

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