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Yes, but... by Aestel [Reviews - 17]

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Hey all. Sorry for the long update time. RL intervened for both me and my lovely britpicker. (For those who've expressed concern, I'm fine. It was a bit scary, but when it comes down to it, I'm MUCH scarier than your average would-be stalker. I enjoy writing Snape for a reason...)




SEVEN:

“Well,” Amelia Bones finally allowed, “this is unexpected.” She glanced over Tonks’ letter of resignation again. Setting it aside, she folded her hands on her desk and favoured Tonks with a searching gaze.

Tonks rocked forward slightly onto her toes. Years of experience had taught her that the best way to make it through experiences like being interrogated by Madam Bones was to keep her expression glum and her eyes focused on a point slightly above the department head’s left ear – and certainly not on the woman’s monocle.

“Married, you say?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“That seems rather sudden.”

Tonks nodded in wholehearted agreement.

“And your fiancé insists that you resign your position here?”

Tonks had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from being overwhelmed by a sudden wave of giddiness. “Yes ma’am. You see we’re subject to this new marriage law thing and, according to the restrictions, we really need to live together. He has to stay at Hogwarts at night, and with my splinching record, well… you can understand. Erm, also, he expressed a concern about not wanting me to end up looking like Mad-Eye Moody – ma’am.”

“He works at Hogwarts? Would I know of him?”

Tonks bit down harder before allowing herself to speak. “Possibly, ma’am. He’s Severus Snape.”

Madam Bones, like Snape and many others Tonks knew had been affected by the war, was marked by a certain inscrutability of expression - but when the woman heard that Tonks was marrying Snape, the monocle dropped. After replacing the offending eyewear, Madam Bones sat back in her chair.

“You are familiar with his record, of course.”

Tonks once again found herself nodding.

“He is hardly a pleasant man.”

Tonks didn’t quite manage to hide her amusement at that understatement. “I’m familiar with that, too.”

The grim woman nodded shortly and rose to her feet. The corners of her mouth flexed in what Tonks had come to suspect was an attempt at a reassuring smile. “Very well, I will accept your resignation. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement regrets the loss of your services and wishes you well in whatever you endeavour to undertake.”

Tonks took her hand and shook it. “Thank you, ma’am. I’ll be getting back to work, now.” She had nearly managed to make it out of Madam Bones’ office when she heard the witch call to her.

“Tonks?”

Tonks bit her lip and turned. She had a feeling her expression was the kind you’d find on a six year-old who was hoping you wouldn’t ask him where all the chocolate frogs went.

“Dare I ask?”

Tonks shook her head. “Believe me, you don’t want to know….”




Tonks scratched her nose with the quill. The owl perched on the wall of her cubicle hooted reproachfully.

“It’s not your feather.” She turned her attention back to the letter.

Fred & George:

Meet with me and Snape tomorrow night. We find ourselves needing mayhem and finger snacks; figured you were the blokes to talk to.

Tonks


“Done.” Tonks handed the letter to the balefully staring owl. “Take this to Fred or George Weasley – no, we can’t tell them apart, either. Oh, and just a bit of advice: don’t eat anything they give you.”

Just after midmorning, the owl returned, looking irate. “What ruffled your feathers?” Tonks asked. The owl tried to take a bite out of her as she took the reply letter and practically turned its beak up at the Knut she offered it.

“Wait a moment,” Tonks asked it as she scanned the letter for hexes and interesting charms. After she was fairly certain she’d disarmed them all, she opened the envelope and unfolded the impressive-looking stationary.

Tonks,

Mayhem and finger snacks? You officially have the ears (extendable and otherwise) of Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes. Is this a Hog’s Head or Honeydukes-type operation? What time? Should we bring samples of our merchandise?

Fred Weasley
George Weasley
Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes
93 Diagon Alley


The owl was looking progressively more impatient, so Tonks scrawled out a quick reply.

Gred & Forge:

Definitely a Hog’s Head-type operation. Meet us at Honeydukes at seven? No samples, please - we’re trying not to attract attention.

Tonks


She was finishing her lunch when a disgruntled-looking blue parrot appeared with another letter. She couldn’t help smirking at it.

“I told you not to eat what they gave you. Give it here; lets see what the little buggers say this time.”

Tomorrow at seven it is. We’ll be looking for the woman with the bat.

Fred Weasley
George Weasley
Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes
93 Diagon Alley


Tonks slipped the parrot a Sickle for its trouble. “You’ll probably be wanting the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, now. Level Three.”




Tonks had never quite figured out what possessed her superiors not only to allow but also provide a water cooler in the department, but, frankly, she blamed Arthur Weasley.

The buzz from the water cooler was usually just audible from Tonks’ cubicle. Today it was probably just audible from the Unspeakables’ department on Level Nine. Tonks tried to cover her ears as another round of “Snape!? You're kidding!” started off.

By mid-afternoon, she had been confronted by no less than half the department. Kent Westbrook, the Department’s poison and mind-altering substances expert, was in the process of giving her an impromptu examination to assure the rest of the department that Snape wasn’t controlling her through the use of potions, when the parrot swooped in and dropped yet another letter in her lap. Tonks waited until after Westbrook pronounced her mentally competent and the crowd dispersed to open the letter.

Come to Hogwarts as soon as you leave work tonight. We have much to discuss. Please retrieve the jar of powdered pearl I have ordered at Slug & Jiggers Apothecary.

S.


After reading over the letter twice, Tonks set it down and stared at the clippings of known Death Eaters posted on her cubicle walls. Many of them had been Snape’s friends - his confederates. Men he’d betrayed, of course, but still….

How many drafts d’you think it took before he worked himself up to adding the word “please”?

A bald head peering over her cubicle wall interrupted her musings. “Avery’s been sighted in Diagon Alley,” Kingsley Shacklebolt rumbled out in his crack-of-doom baritone.

Tonks was on her feet in less than half a second. She righted herself and was back on her feet again a moment later. “You mean Knockturn Alley?”

Shacklebolt shook his head. “Diagon Alley. You coming?”




Thanks to a tip from Florean Fortescue, Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt finally spotted Avery entering the apothecary shop. Tonks rolled her eyes and then nodded at Kingsley.

Wands discretely ready, they entered the shop together. Kingsley pretended to examine the supply of dried cockroaches while he eavesdropped on Avery and the shopkeeper. Tonks sidled up to the only other customers in the shop: a woman and her son who were so engrossed in discussing the benefits of the higher-priced cauldrons that they didn’t notice her attempts to catch their attention.

“It won’t help, you know,” she said casually.

“Sorry?” the woman asked.

“No matter what kind of cauldron you buy or how much you pay for it, the potions that come out of it are still going to be the most abysmal attempts at brewing that Snape’s ever had the misfortune to see.”

The woman peered down her nose at Tonks and the boy shifted uncomfortably. Definitely a Hufflepuff, Tonks decided. Snape’s going to terrify him. “How would you know?”

“Former student, current fiancée,” Tonks said with a chipper grin. Sotto voce, she added, “and an Auror in the line of duty. Please leave the shop immediately.”

Once the tinkling bell signalled that the pair had left the shop, Tonks nodded to Kingsley.

“Expelliarmus!”

“Petrificus Totalus!”

Glass jars filled with precious potions ingredients exploded and toppled from the shelves as Avery scrambled out of the way. A moment later, shooting orange lights announced to them that Avery had found his wand, and now they were facing an armed, cornered Death Eater with a penchant for Blasting Curses.

It was at that unfortunate moment that the owl-turned-parrot finally managed to track Tonks down, and it dropped a smoking red letter at her feet. Tonks stared in horror as the letter burst into flames. As Tonks dove to one side and fired a counter-curse at Avery, Andromeda Tonks’ voice began to shrilly berate her daughter.

NYMPHADORA TONKS!

YOU DON’T WRITE TO US OR FLOO US FOR WEEKS AND THEN WE HEAR FROM MRS. BANDRY, WHO HEARD IT FROM MR. IBISTER IN THE MINISTRY THAT YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED! TO SEVERUS SNAPE! WHAT COULD YOU BE THINKING!?


Avery paused mid-hex when Andromeda Tonks' letter mentioned Snape, but before Tonks and Kingsley could take advantage of his momentary distraction, he had recovered. Tonks swore when she felt Avery’s slicing hex graze her shoulder and shatter the glass jars above her. Broken glass and potions ingredients rained down on her as her mother’s Howler continued.

YOUR FATHER WANTS TO KNOW IF YOU’VE GIVEN YOURSELF ANOTHER CONCUSSION. I WANT TO SEE YOU IN PERSON TO BE CERTAIN THAT HE HASN’T DRUGGED YOU OR PUT YOU UNDER THE IMPERIUS CURSE!

After muttering a quick spell to staunch the bleeding, Tonks launched another assault on the potions display Avery was hiding behind. She watched in horror as Kingsley Shacklebolt narrowly avoided being trapped under a display that buckled and collapsed from the force of the hexes being thrown.

In all seriousness, Nymphadora, that man is not to be trusted. He is vicious, manipulative and old enough to be your father. If that isn’t enough, I’ve always suspected he was somehow associated with You-Know-Who.

“Not up on the latest gossip, is she?” Tonks heard Avery bite out between curses. In response, Tonks purposefully levitated and dropped a carton of Mongolian weedbat guano on the man. She smiled grimly as he stopped throwing curses and began to cough.

This isn’t a response to the ridiculous marriage law we read about in the paper, is it? Honestly, dear, there are better men out there. There’s always Willy Wood…

Love,
Mum


Kingsley threw a brilliant Stunning Spell on top of Tonks’ Disarming Charm, and amongst the mushroom cloud of bat dung that rose from behind the display they saw Avery’s wand shoot up and land in a beaker of yellow slime. The wand began to sizzle and pop as the Aurors gingerly rose to their feet and proceeded to take the unconscious Death Eater into custody. Tonks was forced to clench her teeth in order to endure the queasy pain in her right knee, and she gave the unconscious man an extra kick in the ribs.

P.s. If you insist on going through with this marriage, you should stop by and introduce your fiancé to Grandma & Grandpa Tonks - or else you’ll never hear the end of it.

Tonks sighed in relief as the letter shredded itself to pieces and was lost amongst the debris from their fight.

Only then did the shopkeeper poke his head out from behind the counter to survey the impressive amount of destruction that the trio had wrought in just a few short minutes. His eyes bugged out and he started to shake uncontrollably. “You’ve ruined my shop!”

“I’m sure a couple of householdy spells will fix ‘er right up,” Tonks said.

“The Ministry Cleanup and Recompensation Squad will be by soon to draw up a report and compensate you accordingly,” Kingsley told the man. “We are sorry for the trouble.”

Tonks watched in amazement as the man’s lips turned white and livid red spots stood out on his cheeks. “Thousands of Galleons of inventory lost! I’ll tell the Prophet! I’ll call the Minister of Magic himself!”

Tonks looked over at Shacklebolt. “What’s the sentence for consorting with a known Death Eater again?”

“Three years in Azkaban,” Kingsley answered immediately, a gleam of amusement in his eyes.

“They should tack on an extra three for doing it in broad daylight!” Tonks muttered. “Honestly, man, it’s people like you that…”

Tonks would give the shopkeeper this much: he knew when an avenue was coming to a dead end. Abruptly he switched his tactics. “He had me under the Imperius Curse!”

She blinked disbelievingly. “But you got better?” she supplied.

The man nodded enthusiastically, his blatant disingenuousness bordering on the ridiculous. “I overcame it during the fight.”

Kingsley clapped him on the shoulder. “Good man. If everyone around here had bollocks like yours we’d have these Death Eaters kicked in no time.”

The shopkeeper wore the expression of someone who suspects he’s been roundly beaten and in a game he wasn’t aware of playing. “Thank you.”

“Well, then,” Kingsley said, an elusive hint of malice in his rich voice.

“Well, then,” the shopkeeper repeated, wringing his hands nervously. “I’ll just get started with the cleaning.”

“You do that,” Tonks said, hefting Avery’s unconscious body up with a levitation spell. She got to the door before remembering the note in her pocket. The shopkeeper flinched as she limped back to the counter. “While I’m here, you don’t happen to have a jar of powdered pearl for Professor Snape, do you?”




Many thanks to my lovely and charming Brit-picker, Andromeda.

Also, if you enjoy this story and you're looking for something completely different (or if you didn't enjoy this story and you're looking for something completely different) go read Verity Brown's "A Merciless Affection." I'm notoriously squeamish about SS/OC and SS/student fics, but this one truly is masterful. Read it.

Yes, but... by Aestel [Reviews - 17]

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