The Sugar Quill
Author: Queenie  Story: The Ka  Chapter: 2: The Chameleon
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Note: Philip Pullman owns the concept of dæmons

Note: Philip Pullman owns the concept of dæmons. J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter and all else.  Save the plot, which is mine.

Dedicated to Jyrileru and to MysteriousMuggle, as well as Ossar and Angie, wherever you are.

 

*

 

Tonks' flat was a very unusual place.  It was much larger than one would expect a normal Oxford flat to be, for one thing.  It was also much more Muggle-friendly than the average wizard home, for there was a television in the living room (although it got bad reception on a lot of channels) and a microwave in the kitchen.  The furniture was very modern and comfortable.  And the closet where Ron and Harry slept in was huge.  It was almost like the Burrow, but a lot smaller and less cramped. 

"'Course," Tonks would tell them with a smile, "that's only because so many of my clothes are at headquarters.  Before that… it's safe to say that this was probably the messiest flat in Oxford."

And Oxford was another thing altogether from Surrey and London.  The voices of people on the street had a different ring to it.  Even Tonks' voice started to mellow out, more like the squarish dialect of the crowd, and she seemed perfectly happy and content with herself.

However, Harry, Ron, and Hermione sensed that the Metamorphmagus wasn't just there for pleasure.  On Saturday afternoon, Tonks had set them loose at a mall, and Harry spotted her later (in her usual old-lady guise) discussing something very intently with a group of people in clumsy Muggle clothes.  But Harry was distracted by Ron trying to drag Hermione away from the bookstore, and then the three of them finally decided to separate and meet in an hour.  While Hermione disappeared into the shelves, Ron asked Harry where the electronic store was. 

As Harry and Ron went into 'Zippy's Fine-Line Gaming Store', Ron flitted to every game system, asking, "What's this?  How do you play that?  Whoa…" the last remark was made in combination with a rather scantily-clad female on the cover of one of the game boxes.

When Harry had introduced Ron to every gaming system in the store -- or at least to the best of his ability, reading the signs and trying to remember Dudley's gaming magazines that had been thrown in the smallest bedroom -- Ron was silent.  He looked from one system to another, checking the games around each one, and finally saying, "I'd like to try out that Sega Genesis.  Think we can do that?"

"Certainly," said an attendant who was standing nearby.  "I can just turn on the game, and send you lads off on a demo!"

"Er… a demo?"

"Demonstration."

"Oh yeah, that'd be great!" Ron said, and after turning on the black box, the attendant proceeded to turn on a game with a blue, spikey-haired, ferret-looking thing.  It took a while for Ron to get used to the strange controls of the game, but once he had, he seemed to be having the time of his life.  The speeding and ricocheting of the spiked ferret (who was apparently called 'Sonic') was dizzying to Harry, but Ron already seemed much a master at the Sega Genesis.  A small crowd had gathered around, and many people were cheering Ron on or giving him tips.

"Yeah, you'll want to get those rings there…"

"Hey, Max, check out this guy!"

"What's going on?"

The last voice sounded Oxford, but it was also familiar.  Tonks' old lady face appeared in the crowd, and her eyes widened for a minute, then she suddenly grabbed Harry's wrist tightly and pulled him out of the store.  When Tonks had disappeared inside again, Harry massaged his wrist briefly before she came back, dragging Ron by the ear, lecturing him as though she was his grandmother.

"Honestly, Ronald… running off without telling your own Granny where you've been!  You should be ashamed of yourself…"

"Tonks!" Ron moaned, "did you see how well I was doing back there?  Couldn't I have kept playing just a bit longer?"

"No," the old lady snapped, letting go of his ear.  "Listen to me, Ron.  Do you want to become an Auror?"

"Well…" Ron paused, massaging his ear, "I guess so, but I'm not sure…"

"Let me put it this way," Tonks fixed him with a stern glare, "do you care about the life of your friend Harry?"

"Yes, yes of course I do!"  Ron looked outraged at the question.

"Then you shouldn't call attention to yourself when Harry is around," she hissed.  "If any Death Eaters caught wind of the fact that he's here, in Oxford, with only one Auror to guard him, he wouldn't last a minute out on the streets!"

"But how was I calling attention to… oh," sudden comprehension dawned on Ron's face, "You mean the game thingy."
            "Exactly."

Ron shifted his eyes, not looking directly at either Tonks or Harry.  "I'm… sorry."

"It's alright," Tonks said, patting him on the shoulder.  "There's been no lasting harm done.  Just make sure it doesn't happen again, okay?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Good.  Now, come on down to the food court, Hermione's waiting for you."

 

The next evening found the four of them in the Botanic Gardens across from Magdalen College.   Tonks was smiling, a little sadly. 

"Well, Harry, Ron, Hermione, it's been a good weekend, but sadly, all things must come to a close." She was quiet again, and for a while the four of them walked through the gardens.

Suddenly, Tonks' entire air changed.  She became alert, intense.  She looked up, and her eyes widened.  "All three of you, get down!"

Harry, Ron, and Hermione instantly fell to the ground, and then craned their necks trying to look upward.  A pale film seemed to be spreading itself across the sky.  Tonks was in a crouch, looking up, wand out.

"A Spellweb…" Harry heard her mutter.  "What spells are they using to layer it, I wonder… damn it, but I'm a fool."

She carefully went to where the three teenagers were lying and said in a hushed voice, "We've been surrounded.  I think that someone -- maybe rogue vandals, you get a lot around here -- have covered the entire garden area with a Spellweb -- you know what that is, Hermione, right?"

Hermione primly answered, "A Spellweb is a series of spells that can be used to surround an area like a -- like a hemisphere. It usually takes about five people to conjure one."

"Precisely," said Tonks, "and I don’t want to run the risk of those five people being Death Eaters.  However…"

"All my fault…" Ron muttered darkly.

"No, it isn't," Tonks said fiercely.  "Come to think of it, I'm almost sure that it's just vandals.  But still, I don't want you three getting hurt, so I'll have to think of something…"

She got up and started walking, weaving in and out of the trees, never straying very far from the trio.  Harry thought he could hear her murmuring to herself, "I need to keep them close by… but I can't risk them being seen with us, if it's an ambush… we need some way to tell them when it's safe to pass… but how?"

She thought for a minute longer, her left hand rubbing her shoulder, and then said forcibly, "No!  Can't do that.  That's too drastic!  We'd get arrested, or… no, no, there isn't any law against it… I suppose we could do it… so long as there isn't a law… I guess we can always reverse it later, I mean, there has to be a countercharm… are you sure that’s the only way?"

'Why is she having a conversation with herself?' Harry wondered. 'Maybe it's an old habit of hers.'

Finally, Tonks came over to them and crouched down, her face concerned but determined.  "All right, now," she said, "what I am about to do is…"

"Er, Tonks?" Hermione said timidly.  "Your hair…"

"Huh?" Tonks pulled down a lock of what was now almost all blonde hair with uneven fringe.  "Oh, no, not again," she said exasperatedly.  "Why does it always do that when I'm thinking?"

She screwed up her face and the blonde hair pulled itself back into a loose bun at the nape of her neck.   Tonks took a few deep breaths, and then said, "Now, as I was saying, what I am about to do is a very drastic spell that will change the way you see people.  It's not a light move, casting it on you, and I want you to know what's coming, all right?"

The three nodded somewhat fearfully.  Tonks pulled out her wand again.

"Harry James Potter," she said clearly, pointing it at Harry.  Then, shifting it to Ron, she said, "Ronald Galahad Weasley," and then, "Hermione Alanna Granger."

She then held her wand straight up in front of her, and said, "Venite Demono!"

The tip of her wand lit up, and it grew, until it looked like all the power of a very small star was contained atop that little ball of light atop the wand.  As Harry watched it, he became vaguely aware that his chest felt very hollow, and that there seemed to be a pulse in it, like someone was beating at it steadily with strong fingers.  The light gradually faded, and Harry blinked, feeling like he had come out of a trance.

"Are you all okay?" Tonks sounded nervous.

"Yeah… I think I am."  Harry's voice sounded distant in his own ears, and he was still staring at the wand tip.

"Good, now, tell me what you see."

Harry's head whirred and cleared, and he became aware of a misty form that seemed to have taken residence on Tonks' shoulders. 

"I see -- a misty, greenish sort of shape…" he said, squinting.

"I can barely make out anything," Hermione said, "but I think it's coming into focus -- yes, I think it's…"

"A lizard," Ron said, "definitely a lizard.  Why is it on your shoulder?"

Tonks smiled a bit uneasily.  "Well, to be precise," she said, "it's a chameleon." She cleared her throat.  "Harry, Ron, Hermione -- meet Rachi.  Rachi is my dæmon."

There was silence.  Then --

"Pardon me, your what?"

"Huh?"

"Why do you have a demon?"

Tonks took a deep breath, and Rachi turned his head (now in clear focus) to look at the three of them.

"A dæmon," Tonks said, "is something that everyone has.  Each one of you has one, even if you can't see them.  What I have done is given you the ability to see other people's dæmons."

"Wait--" Hermione said, thinking, "why can't we see our own -- dæmons?"

Harry looked all around himself.  It was true:  he could see nothing that remotely resembled Rachi on his shoulders or on the ground.  Nor could he see a -- thing around Ron or Hermione. 

"It's a kind of complicated matter, and one I won't get into right now," said Tonks hurriedly.  "Now listen to me.  I have to break the barriers in the Spellweb, but to do so, I'll need to keep you three a fair distance away from me.  However, I also need to be able to tell you when to move, without losing my position.  So --"

Rachi scampered down her arm and got onto the ground.  Tonks' shoulders looked strangely bare without him.  She went on, "Rachi will tell you when it is safe to move.  He can't move too far from me, but he'll know right away when it's safe."

"Pardon me," Ron said, "how will he let us know?"

"I'll tell you," Rachi said in a clear, distinct male voice.  Ron jumped.  Rachi chuckled, a rasping noise.  "Yes, I can talk.  You seem surprised."

"A little," Ron said, staring at the chameleon.  Tonks grinned.

"Rachi may be a little sarcastic, but that's just because he's nervous," she said, stroking him.  "I will leave him here with you, and go and break the Spellweb, okay?"

The three nodded.  Tonks stroked Rachi one more time, then straightened up and Disapparated.  The teenagers heard her Apparate a bit further off.  They waited for a bit longer, and finally Rachi said, "Wotcher, let's move out."

The followed the chameleon a few meters onward, and then he stopped again, tense, waiting.  Harry briefly reflected on the absurdity of the situation: he was lying on the ground of the Oxford Botanic Gardens, following a talking chameleon that he'd just been told was a -- what was the word again? -- dæmon.  Ahead, he could barely make out Tonks' form, waving her wand at the air.  He spotted a young couple walking down the path, arm in arm, unable to see the odd quartet.  Harry noticed that the man had a cat slinking amiably around his legs, and the woman had a butterfly on her shoulder.  Both people, however, seemed entirely oblivious to the animals on them.  Harry didn't see a chameleon anywhere on them.  As they passed, he thought, 'Are those animals the people's dæmons?'

'They must be,' another part of his mind mused, 'and these people can't see them.'

"Okay…" Rachi said, "time to move again." 

The three shuffled after the chameleon again.  Harry asked him, "Rachi -- what are people's dæmons, anyway?"

"A companion," Rachi seemed a bit distracted, "your other half."

"Like a soulmate?" Ron offered.

"No… no, not a soulmate, more of --"

Rachi suddenly froze.  A strange, trilling noise, like one of pain, came from his throat, and he sped forward.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione started to follow, but he turned around and shouted at them, "Stay back!" and then hurried ahead.

The chameleon's command had effect for about a minute before Ron started to get up.

"Ron, wait!" Hermione said chidingly.  "Rachi said to stay here!"

"No, he didn't!" Ron snapped back. "He only said to stay back.  So, we could watch, so long as we didn't interfere."

Hermione thought about this for a minute while Ron said, "Come on, Harry, let's go," and slunk ahead.  Harry followed, and then Hermione, somewhat reluctantly.

They heard the sounds of voices ahead, and crouched behind a bush to watch.

Tonks was standing with her wand out against a group of five young people, three men and two women, all of who had their wands out, and looked very menacing.

"Well, well, well, whatcha gonna do now, eh?" said the apparent leader, who had a parrot the same shade of green as his hair on his shoulder. 

"Yeah, you're stuck!" said a girl with a dachshund at her feet, barking with mad glee, although the girl seemed deaf to it. 

Tonks looked at them defiantly.  "I am much more capable than you are," she said clearly.  "I can do spells that would make your empty little heads spin.  It would be very wise to let me and my friends pass."

"What friends?" sneered a man with a large black beetle buzzing around his head, "You ain't got friends."
            Harry sensed, rather than saw, a bristling movement on a branch right near beetle-man's head.  He looked up and saw Rachi standing there, looking as menacing as the average chameleon can look.

Tonks also looked up, and her expression turned to one of shock.  However, beetle-man mistook the signal, and grinned.

"Hey, maybe she wants me to be her friend, eh?"

Everyone in the group roared with laughter.  Tonks flushed.  The man went on, "Hey, chick, don't worry, I'm good in bed…"

Fwap.

In an instant, the man was on the ground, twitching.  Tonks was looking at him with disgust.  The other members of the group stared for a minute, and then the leader said, "E-everyone?  Lift the spells, now!"

The group dispersed in various directions, and Harry looked up to see Rachi, with his tongue hanging out oddly, and stuck to something black and shiny and buzzing madly at the end.  Harry realized, with a shock, that it was the man's dæmon.

"Rachi!" Tonks said angrily.  "Let her go."

Rachi spat the beetle off with a horrible squelching noise, and it buzzed near the man.  He stopped twitching.  Tonks knelt by him and muttered, "Somnus."  Then she stood up again and said to Rachi, "You should not have done that."

"I know I shouldn't've," he argued, "but you wanted me to, right?  You know what he was thinking!"

"I do, but that's still no reason to react the way you did.  You could have killed her."

Tonks turned away from Rachi, crossing her arms stubbornly.  Then Rachi extended his tongue again and licked her ear in what looked like an affectionate gesture, though Harry would have previously classified it as 'disgusting'.  Tonks seemed to grin halfheartedly and then she turned around and lifted up her arm.  Rachi jumped down to it, and then climbed up to her shoulder, resuming his prior position.  For a moment Tonks stroked him softly.  Then she suddenly remembered.

"Where're the kids?"

"Right here," Hermione piped up, for Tonks seemed to be on the verge of panic.  After a hurried explanation on Hermione's part of why they had followed the chameleon, Tonks checked that the Spellweb had in fact been taken down, and then she led them back to her flat. 

"So, Tonks," Ron said when they entered, "Now can you tell us what dæmons are?"

It was Hermione who answered him.  "I've read a bit about dæmons," she said, "if I'm correct, it's written with an 'a-e' character, right?"

Tonks nodded.  "What else do you remember reading?"

"Nothing much.  The concept was very abstract, and not well-defined.  I wasn't very interested."

"Well…" Tonks slowly stirred her coffee, "I'm not entirely sure on the concept myself, but my mum used to tell me that I have a guardian angel who watches over me and tells me to keep away from bad things. I guess you might call them your conscience." She smiled suddenly.  "When I was a kid, I probably drove that angel nuts -- mischievous little ankle-biter, I was.  Anyway -- after Venite Demono was placed on me, when I became a member of the Order of the Phoenix, I decided that dæmons were kind of like those guardian angels my mother always talked about."

"Why can't we see our dæmons?" Harry wanted to know.

"You cannot see your dæmons for the single reason that they have not been named," Tonks explained. "When your dæmons have been given proper names, then you will be able to see them."

"Why can't I see Ron and Harry's dæmons, then?" Hermione asked. 

Tonks opened her mouth, closed it again, opened it again, closed it again (now looking rather like a goldfish) and finally said, "I don't know."

Rachi, who was on the counter, clambered partway up her arm and said something that the children couldn't hear.  "Oh yes!" Tonk said.  "That's right.  Right after I joined the Order, and before I had named Rachi, there was another junior member -- what was his name?  I don't remember -- anyway, he'd had Venite Demono cast on him about the same time that I had, and I couldn't see his dæmon until I had named Rachi.  Gave me the creeps…"

Hermione tapped her fingertips together.  "So I'll be able to see Ron and Harry's dæmons as soon as my own has been named?"
            Tonks nodded.  "Or as soon as theirs have been named."

Ron spoke up.  "By the way, do all dæmons take different forms?"
            "Yes," Tonks said, nodding. 

"Where do these forms come from?" he continued.

"They are… oh my goodness, look at the time!"  Tonks had suddenly realized just how late it was and without another word about dæmons, sent the three of them to bed.

A few moments later, next to a snoring Ron, Harry had time to think.  The wordless exchange between Tonks and Rachi, especially with the strange licking, had been weird on one level, but on another, Harry felt -- alone, watching the two of them.  It was clear how much Tonks and Rachi cared about each other, and a part of Harry wished for that contact, for a dæmon of his own…

 

Almost an hour later he woke up, sweating.  He got up as quietly as he could and went to the bathroom.  As he washed his hands and face, he recalled a few vivid scenes in the dream -- an army of angry beetles buzzing at him, a chameleon with Tonks' head on its neck sticking its tongue out at him, and that voice, still calling that mysterious name.  Of course, the dream had ended with the same unclean feeling that ended every one of his dreams, whether he remembered them or not.  His mind drifted back to dæmons.  What were they, exactly?   Tonks had said that all dæmons took a different shape, so then what was his dæmon's form?  And if he could see his, what would he call it?

An answer to the last question drifted into Harry's mind, but he shook it out.  "No," he said aloud.  "There is no way I would ever name my dæmon Aulaia."

 

            The next day, Tonks appeared to be in a hurry about getting Harry, Ron, and Hermione back to their respective houses in time.  She and Rachi both urged Harry and his friends to hurry up, and only really relaxed when she was back in her Sister Nymphadora habit and waiting for the Knight Bus. 

            Rachi was on her shoulders, as usual, and when the bus pulled up and opened, Harry immediately noticed a large, droopy chocolate Labrador at Stan Stunpike's feet.  He was slowly starting to get used to seeing animals around every person, but he still wasn't used to the people being oblivious to the animals.  It was strange, seeing any sort of animal around and on a person, and seeing them not react at all was stranger still.

The four of them (five, counting Rachi) sat down.

            "So, about names -- can we name our own dæmons?"  Ron asked her.

            "Certainly," she said.  "I named Rachi myself.  Keep in mind, however -- once you have named a dæmon, that's its name for life.  You can't go back."

            "London, Grimmauld Square," Stan's voice shouted.

            "That'd be us," Hermione said, getting up.  "Tonks, are you coming with us?"

            "No, I'll just drop Harry off.  I'll see you in a bit, though," Tonks replied.

            "Oh… all right, then.  See you later, Tonks.  Take care, Harry," Hermione said, giving Harry a slight wave before going down the steps.

            "Yeah, see you, mate," Ron said, playfully shaking Harry's shoulder before following Hermione.  After the bus started to cart forward on a completely different street, Harry reinitiated the conversation.

            "Tonks," he said, "what are Ron and Hermione's dæmons' -- you know, forms?"

            "Oh, that," Tonks said, stroking Rachi a little absentmindedly, "their dæmons don't have forms."

            Harry was confused.  "What?"

            "Well, not yet anyway.  You see, when you’re a child, your dæmon takes any form at any time.  Have you noticed that?"

            "…No, I can't say I have," Harry said.  It was true.  With all the rushing around that day, he couldn't really pay attention to anyone's dæmon, really.

            "Hmm…" Tonks stroked her chin.  Rachi nodded towards a small child who was boarding the bus with her mother.  "Ah!  Look at that girl over there."

            Harry looked.  The girl's dæmon did change: one minute it was a rebellious porcupine, the next it was an obedient little dog, following the mother's stoat dæmon.

            "When that girl grows up, her dæmon will take one settled form for the rest of their life.  Ron and Hermione, although their dæmons are close to settling, are still very changeable."

            "Oh."  Harry thought for a minute, and then asked, "Is my dæmon settled?"

            "Yes."

            "What's his form?"

            "Her form," Tonks corrected him.

            "Her form, then.  Well?"

            Tonks looked out the window in silence for a minute, and then said, "You'll find out soon enough.  When your dæmon receives her name."

            Stan's voice shouted again, this time "Privet Drive, Surrey."

            "I'll get off with you," Tonks said, straightening her Sister Nymphadora habit.  "I'll see how soon we can get you back to headquarters."

            When the two of them were at the front door, Tonks rang the doorbell, and soon Dudley opened the door.  Harry quickly looked to his cousin's feet, where he spotted a rat, which quickly changed into a hedgehog.

            "What do you want?" Dudley crossed his arms and looked boredly at Tonks.

            "I would like to speak with your mother, please, on the custody of your cousin," Tonks said calmly, as Rachi made faces at Dudley's dæmon.  Harry noted with pleasure that a chameleon could make some great faces.

            "Sure," Dudley said, then turned away from the door and hollered, "MUM!  This nun wants to talk to you!" After a moment's thought, he turned back and said to them, "Oh, yeah, I guess you can come in."

            Tonks led herself regally into the sitting-room.  Harry kept his eye on Dudley's dæmon.  Dudley himself seemed a bit nervous.  "What're you lookin' at?"

            "Nothing," Harry replied.  Dudley scowled and turned away.  His dæmon did the same, taking the form of a pug.  Aunt Petunia entered the sitting room, closely followed by a gray and black gander.  Uncle Vernon followed her, with a bulldog trotting at his heels.  The gander's wings flapped once when he saw "Sister Nymphadora", but settled down immediately.  The bulldog acquired a defensive position.  Harry observed this quietly, and then turned his head up to listen to the conversation between Tonks and his aunt and uncle.

            "Now, Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, I am Sister Nymphadora…"

            "Hold on a moment," Uncle Vernon said forcibly.  "What order do you belong to?  Aren't wizards supposed to be heathens?"

            Tonks fixed him with a withering glance.  "Wizards are not heathens, Mr. Dursley," she said, "and I belong to a very obscure order.  You would not have heard of it."

            "What order do --" Uncle Vernon was about to say, but Aunt Petunia cut him off with, "What did you come for?"

            "I came to discuss how soon Harry can join myself and my fellow wizards at headquarters," Tonks said, and Rachi seemed annoyed now. 

            "As soon as you want to," Uncle Vernon said.  "Take him now, if you like.  Please."

            "Well, you see, Mr. Dursley," and Tonks was starting to sound a little irked now, "a colleague of mine wishes that Harry stay with you for a bit longer.  Three days, at the latest."

            "Then three days it is," Aunt Petunia said,  "In three days, you can take the boy away."

            "Very well, then," Tonks got up.  "Harry, would you please show me to the door?"

            Harry followed her onto the front steps again, where she nodded to him as though they were nothing but good acquaintances, and turned away.  Rachi, however, slipped off of her shoulders and when Harry leaned down he said, "Good luck, Harry.  And mind you don't touch any dæmons."

            Shooting Harry a quick chameleon grin, he scuttled down the walk and rejoined Tonks, who gave Harry one small wave before Disapparating.

//
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