A/N: As always, many thanks to Zsenya for her wonderful beta work- Tonks and I both appreciate it!
Nymphadora Tonks twirled a lock of wavy turquoise hair and flicked her wand at the kettle. She was beginning to hate 12 Grimmauld Place. After waking Mrs. Black’s portrait yet again, she had thought it best to stay out of Molly Weasley’s path for a bit, and retired to the safety of the basement kitchen. Behind her, two grinning redheaded boys slid into the room.
“Tonks, just the woman we were hoping to see, isn’t that right, George?”
“Indeed, dear brother. I was just thinking how lovely it would be to chat with Tonks here.” George clapped her on the back, causing her to trip and drop her teacup.
“Oh blast.” Tonks frowned at the mess on the floor.
“Reparo,” said Fred, pointing his wand at the shards.
“M’lady.” George handed the restored cup back with a little bow.
“Go on you two. What d’you want?”
“Tonks… that’s an interesting name for a girl.” Fred leaned casually against the kitchen counter. “Named after a relative? A historical figure?”
“The family pet?” supplied George.
“It’s my surname,” replied Tonks cagily. “Oh! Is that your mum I hear? Better run along. Lots of, er, things to do.”
“Oh, that wasn’t Mum,” said George.
“Trust us.” Fred took Tonks by the arm and led her towards the kitchen table.
“And even if it was, we’ve had years of practice skiving off work.”
“We’re masters.” The three of them sat down along one side of the long table.
“So, if Tonks is your surname, then your given name is…?”
“There’s the kettle!” Tonks popped up from the chair and tried to cross to the whistling teakettle. Before she could reach it, however, the kettle levitated over to the table and tipped enough to splash tea into her cup. Without warning, two more cups flew from the cupboard with alarming speed and clattered onto the table. When they had been filled with tea, the kettle floated back to the stove. Fred and George took their cups, and turned to face Tonks.
“Why, Fred,” said George, sipping from his cup and inclining his head towards his brother, “I’m beginning to think that Tonks doesn’t want to tell us her name.”
“Why George, I do believe you’re right.” Fred sipped. “I wonder why that is.”
“Probably something really awful. D’you think she might be persuaded to share it?”
“I don’t know. We may have to make it our mission to find out.” Fred and George eyed Tonks in a way that did not make her feel at all comfortable. She paled; being a project for the Weasley twins didn’t seem like a safe proposition. She tried to meander casually towards the staircase. “Ah, ah, ah Tonks, can’t get away from us that easily.” Fred flicked his wand and a chair blocked her path.
With her back to her attackers, Tonks took a moment to strategize. She turned slowly, drawing her wand and pulling her best ‘serious Auror’ face. “I don’t think you want to do that.”
The twins instantly changed tactics. George held up his hands in a placating gesture. “Now let’s not be too hasty, we were just having a laugh. Anyway, we already know it, we just want you to say it.”
Tonks groaned. “You already know it?”
“Professor Lupin told us, but we think it would sound better coming from you.” Fred’s face spread into a Cheshire cat grin.
Tonks walked back over to the table and dropped down into a chair. “I’m going to charm that man’s lips together,” she grumbled. “Fine, fine. My name is Nymphadora.” The twins snickered. “Right then, laugh it up, you’re not the first.”
“Aw, come on Nymphadora,” said Fred, pulling her from the chair, “Don’t be fussed. It’s an interesting name, really.”
“Yeah, interesting. I’d be interested to know what my mum was thinking when she came up with it. Every time I ask she just smiles.”
“Well, Nymphadora,” said George, “you could ask our mum. We’ve always wondered the same thing.”
“Oh, sure, because Fred and George are such unusual names. Or did you mean Bill, because there’s an odd name if ever I heard one.”
“No need to get shirty there, Nymphie,” Tonks glared at Fred, “We weren’t talking about us, we were talking about Ginny.”
“None of us can work out where mum came up with hers.” George pulled out a tin of biscuits from a cupboard, took one and passed it on to Fred.
“We figure that after seven kids, she must have been a bit addled.” Fred popped a whole biscuit in his mouth and chewed loudly.
An irate female voice came from the stairwell. “Addled? Is that so?” Fred choked on his biscuit.
“Mum?” George squeaked.
Ginny stepped out into the room. “Got you.”
Fred cleared his throat and took a gulp of tea. “Very nice, little sis. We were just talking about you.”
“I heard,” said Ginny, grimly. “And I suggest that you end that particular conversation.”
“Come on, Gin,” George put an arm around her, “At least it isn’t Nymphadora.”
“Oi! I’m right here.”
“Let me put it another way,” said Ginny, ducking out from under George’s arm and facing her brothers, “This topic is off limits. Period. Unless of course you wanted mum to know that you’ve got a pile of Galleons that you can’t explain.”
For a moment the siblings faced off, then Fred nodded. “You drive a hard bargain, Gin.” He held out a hand and she shook it.
“We’ll be off then,” said George, grabbing another biscuit and heading out the door.
“Ginny. Nymphadora.” Fred grinned cheekily and turned to follow his brother. In seconds Tonks was behind him, wand pressed between his shoulder blades; he froze. “Er, Tonks,” he turned slowly to face her, “Naturally, I meant Tonks.” She smirked as the boys bounded hastily up the stairs.
“Sorry about them,” Ginny said, walking over to the kettle and putting a hand out to test it for warmth, “Bill says he tried to get my parents to drown them at birth like puppies, but you know Mum and Dad, too soft.” She took a cup down from the shelf and poured herself some tea.
Tonks laughed. “S’ok. They were bound to find out some time. Not as though my name is a big secret.”
“Well it should be,” Ginny huffed. “Oh, not yours…I mean, just, you know…a name should be one’s own personal business.” She met Tonks’ amused look. “Sorry, that didn’t sound quite as daft in my head.” Tonks gave a little nod and handed over the tin of biscuits. They munched quietly for a minute.
“Ginny, I have to ask…”
Ginny sighed. “I know.” Silence.
Ginny put down her tea and took a deep breath, “Ginevra,” she mumbled.
“Wow.” Tonks blinked. “Where on earth did Molly get that one?” Ginny dropped her forehead to the table top with a thud. “Oh Ginny, I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just, I’ve never heard of that name before.”
“That, from a woman named Nymphadora!” Ginny moaned into the table.
“No, wait. I think it is actually kind of pretty. Ginevra. Um... does it mean something?”
Ginny raised her head just enough to see Tonks. She studied her for a moment, then decided that she wasn’t, in fact, taking the mickey, and said slowly, “It means ‘fair one’. It’s historical. A derivation of Guinevere, actually. She wasn’t much of a role model, I can’t imagine what my mother was thinking.”
“She was a great woman actually, despite those things everyone says about Mordred and Lancelot. She was a very powerful witch, and there is some evidence that she was a true seer as well. And Celtic queens were as good as goddesses; they had an extraordinary amount of power, equal to men’s even. Not to mention that she was universally considered the most beautiful woman around.”
Ginny looked at Tonks with wide eyes. “We didn’t learn any of that in History of Magic.”
Tonks snorted, “Binns couldn’t teach you your own name, he’s so boring. I got all that from a book. I’ll bring it by, if you like.”
“That would be brilliant. I haven’t brought anything but my school books and Mum won’t let me touch any of the books we found here.”
“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. There’s all kinds of creepy stuff 'round this old place. I’ll bring that book the next time I come.”
“Thanks.” Ginny smiled at the older woman, then looked away. “And, er, thanks for not laughing.”
“I’d never laugh. Trust me, I know how it feels. At least I only grew up with my parents and they came up with the stupid thing in the first place. I imagine it was tough with all those normally-named brothers running about.”
“Naw,” said Ginny taking another biscuit from the tin, “They’re not so bad.”
“So… Fred and George are staying in that room by that unopenable cupboard, right?”
“Has anyone ever taught you the short-sheeting charm?”
Ginny grinned, “A woman after my own heart. Race you?” Without waiting for a response, she took off towards the stairs. Tonks started after her a moment later, but failed to judge the corner of the table correctly. She caught her foot on the table leg and flew spectacularly across the room, landing with a thunk at the bottom of the stairs. Ginny cried out and raced back down the steps, only to slip on the second-to-last and tumble down in a heap on top of Tonks.
Tonks rolled out from under Ginny. “You okay?” she asked, peering at her worriedly.
“I think so,” replied Ginny, rubbing a sore spot on her shoulder.
“Good.” Tonks relaxed back onto the floor. “I don’t think Molly’d let me back in here if I broke one of her kids.” Ginny snorted. Then she giggled. After a few moments, Tonks joined her and they began to laugh in earnest. Gasping for breath, Tonks sat up and looked over at Ginny. “Ginevra Weasley, I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” She struggled to her feet and dusted herself off a bit before offering a hand to Ginny.
Ginny took her hand and hauled herself to her feet. Tonks swung an arm over Ginny’s shoulder, and they started up the stairs. “Why, Nymphadora Tonks,” said Ginny, with a genuine smile, “I do believe you’re right.”