The Sugar Quill
Author: Portia (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Strange Bedfellows  Chapter: Chapter II--A Dream Come True
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Unsurprisingly, he did not offer her a seat

 

A/N: Thanks so much to Arabella for beta-ing this!

Chapter II—A Dream Come True

 

Unsurprisingly, he did not offer her a seat. He merely sat down himself and continued to stare disapprovingly at her. Tonks stared back, trying to hide her uneasiness.

Finally Snape opened his mouth.

“What a pity, Miss Tonks, that despite all your training you had not the common sense to disguise yourself before coming here.”

Tonks stiffened. Somehow this man made her feel as if she was and always would be merely an overgrown schoolgirl, rather than an adult witch and trained Auror.

Remembering this last fact gave her confidence: I could just kill him in a duel if I wanted to.

“A disguise was unnecessary,” she replied coolly, trying to imitate her mother’s haughty tone.  “I’m officially here to pick up rare ingredients for some Healing Potions I need to make, and you just happen to be the only person who has these ingredients in the quantities I need. It’s all very above-board, and Ministry-approved.” A pert note crept into her voice. She didn’t trouble to keep it out; she knew from experience that it annoyed Snape greatly.

The Professor merely sneered and said,

 “I see. Well, I suppose you are wondering why you are here.”

“The thought did cross my mind, yes,” said Tonks.

Snape glowered at her before continuing.

“The situation is this, Miss Tonks. I need a method of communicating with Professor Dumbledore—“

“And you’re too lazy to crawl out of your little hole and walk up to his office?” Tonks blurted the sentence out without thinking, only to regret it immediately.

After favoring her with an unnerving glare, Snape spoke.

“This is no time for your habitual inanities, Miss Tonks. If I did not know that the Order was desperate enough to be grateful for the assistance, however inept, of anybody, even juvenile delinquents such as yourself, I would recommend that Dumbledore remove you from his confidence.” 

Tonks kept her mouth shut.

“As I was attempting to explain, walking up to Professor Dumbledore’s office immediately after I return from my missions would be rather transparent to anyone spying for either the Dark Lord or the Ministry. Overly frequent or oddly timed visits to his office would attract attention. And it is imperative that my role be kept absolutely secret.”

“Oh? And what role would that be, Professor?”

“What part of ‘absolutely secret’ do you find incomprehensible, Miss Tonks?” Receiving no answer, Snape smirked and continued. “Therefore, I must have some means of carrying messages to the Headmaster. Owls are too easily intercepted. The same objection applies to the Floo Network. So this is where you come in, Miss Tonks.”

 Tonks gave him a blank stare.

            Snape sighed and condescended to explain.

            “Owing to your unique…talents,” he sneered, contriving to make the word sound like an insult, “you can carry messages back and forth, between Dumbledore and myself, and no one would know that you had done it even once. If any other member of the Order were observed running back and forth between the Headmaster and me, it would be rather conspicuous, but your powers as a Metamorphmagus make it possible for you to do so undetected.”

            Tonks was not quite sure she believed her ears.

            “So let me get this straight, Professor,” she said with an extremely Snape-ish inflection, “You’re going to use me as a messenger girl?” I don’t believe this. I’m an Auror, dammit!

            Snape appeared to consider her question. A slow smile spread over his face.

            “Well—yes, it does rather look like that, doesn’t it?”

            Smug bastard, thought Tonks. She managed to stay composed.

            “Okay, then,” she sighed, “when do I come back?”

            “I will contact you.”

            “How?” she asked, worried that the Ministry or the Death Eaters might intercept their communications. 

            “You will leave that to me, Miss Tonks.” He rose. “Good day.”

Tonks gladly left, walking swiftly through the dank dungeon corridors and leaving the school.

All that Auror training, just to rot in the useless Ministry and be Snape’s errand girl.    

            She understood the situation and Dumbledore’s rationale, of course. All the same, it was hardly what she had hoped for when she had dreamed of becoming an Auror as a child.

*                                                                              *                                                                                              *

The visions and fantasies of little Dora Tonks had always been grandiose and glamorous. The daughter of Andromeda Tonks could hardly settle for being mediocre, after all.  Tonks had achieved near-perfect marks at Hogwarts, despite her clumsiness and mischievousness and general inability to comport herself the way her teachers had wanted her to. Professor Snape had tried to exclude Tonks from his N.E.W.T.-level class, despite her grade of ‘O’ on the Potions O.W.L., but Dumbledore had not allowed it. And so the girl who had always won when she played “Aurors and Death Eaters” with other wizarding children had qualified for Auror training. She had passed, mostly with flying colors, except in those areas of training where clumsiness was a serious liability. “She’s brilliant when she doesn’t trip over her own feet,” one of her instructors had written on a progress report. 

Her mother had agreed, often commenting on Tonks’s clumsiness with exasperation.

“Dora,” she would say, “can’t you at least try to walk like a lady?”

“Nope,” Tonks would respond with cheerful indifference. Her mother had a very clear picture in her head of what a lady should be, and this picture was the diametric opposite of Tonks. Mother and daughter clashed frequently on this point.

Once Tonks had made a comment about “taking the mickey” out of someone who had annoyed her.

Andromeda had taken issue with her daughter’s use of the slang phrase.

“Really, Dora, must you use that expression? It’s horribly common.”

Tonks had found herself lashing back before she could think about it.

“Oh, it’s common, is it?” she had said, affecting a posh accent. “Well, then, by all means, I must avoid it, since it’s obviously a fate worse than death to be common.” She had paused to glare at her mother, and muttered, “You can take the girl out of the snooty pureblood family…”

She hadn’t muttered softly enough. Andromeda Tonks had blanched and left the room as quickly as dignity would allow, and fifteen-year-old Nymphadora had known instantaneously that she had gone too far.

Later that day, Ted Tonks had come up to his daughter’s room.

Nymphadora,” he had said quietly—Dad never shouted—and his manner had been such that she had not dared protest the use of her full name. “Your mother has had a very difficult life because of the family she was born into. You do understand that, don’t you?”

Tonks had squirmed and kept silent.

Don’t you?

“Yes!”

“You must never twit her about her background again. Understood?” Again there had been a silence. “Understood?

“Yes,” Tonks had said miserably. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. Just don’t do it again.”

She never did.

 And now the girl who had often spoken before she thought was an Auror and a member of the Order of the Phoenix, ostensibly engaged in work of some significance. Even if it hardly seemed significant at the moment.

Don’t start thinking like that, girl. It’ll only get you morbid, and then you’ll end up like dear old Snapey back at Hogwarts. The thought made her laugh. Which was a good thing, these days.  

//
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