The Sugar Quill
Author: ishie (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Seventy Proof Solution  Chapter: Chapter Two
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A/N: Starts at the end of Harry’s third year of Hogwarts (PoA)

A/N: Starts at the end of Harry’s third year of Hogwarts (PoA). Majority takes place during Harry's fourth year of Hogwarts (GoF), although you won't see any of that here. It's Tonks' first year as one of Wizarding Britain's finest.
(And yes, shameless rip-off of the Very Secret Diaries by Cassandra Claire, Lamentations of a Starry-Eyed Twit by She's a Star and Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. In fact, you're probably better off reading one of those instead.)
I played around a bit with Tonks’s age. According to my/her backstory, she was born in ’71 and started Hogwarts the year after Sirius went to Azkaban. None of which is vitally important, but, well, there you go. No “oh dear, maths” here, by golly!

Virtual chocolate frogs to WiccaRowan for not letting the wankers get the best of her and for her invaluable beta skills. Grazie!


The Case Book of Nymphadora Tonks
1994-1995

10 May 1994 – First Day at Work!
06:27
What in the name of all that is magical and right in the world am I doing up this early? What's that horrible noise? Oh. Right. Alarm clock.

06:28 OH MY GOD, I’M AN AUROR!

07:11 !

08:04 This is going to be the best day ever. I have appropriate clothes, my hair is a respectable shade of black and not too out-of-control, and I’m twenty minutes ahead of schedule, which means I can pop into the Leaky Cauldron on the way and pick up something for lunch.

I didn’t even spill my tea this morning! Best. Day. EVER!

18:13 It was, without a doubt, the most miserable day of my entire sodding existence. I don’t even want to think about it.

18:19 Suffice it to say, black hair? Worst. Idea. Ever.

18:26 Okay, riding into the Ministry on the back of a cave troll waving the bloody head of Celestina Warbeck and an enchanted, singing Muggle tea kettle while eating a baby (I’d be the one eating it, not the troll) would have been worse. But not by much…

How could I have been so stupid? Second most wanted wizard in Britain on the loose and I stroll into the heart of Magical Justice looking like a rounder, female version of him.

They say you can always tell a Black: their hair’s as dark as their hearts. (Except for Narcissa, who somehow - wink wink nudge nudge - ended up with platinum blond hair and two ebony-haired parents.) I don’t really think much about being a Black. I’m a Tonks, through and through. I’ve got Dad’s eyes and hair, Grammy Tonks’s figure and when I’m unMorphed, I bear a striking resemblance to Auntie Barb. I’ve never tortured a house elf, never collected virgin’s blood by the light of a crescent moon, never hunted a werewolf or done any of the other things my illustrious relations are reported to have done.

Morphed, though, that’s a different story. The heart-shaped face I usually wear is my own, just like Mum and forty-seven other generations of Black witches. My lips are Black, my cheekbones are Black. So when my hair is black, I look like I dropped straight down off the family tree (which, rumour has it, Mum was magically blasted off thirty seconds after saying “I do”), hitting every evil, twisted branch along the way.

I don’t really remember Sirius that well, but from what I do remember, he was good for a laugh. He was Mum’s favorite cousin and didn’t mind me hanging all over him, but we didn’t see each other all that much. He was a decade older and busy with his friends and life and we were busy not making targets of ourselves. And by we, I mean Mum and Dad. I was mostly busy trying to not scrape all the skin off my knobby knees.

He came round now and again, sometimes by himself, sometimes with a few mates. He brought two of them to my tenth birthday party; I’ve never been able to throw the picture away. I should have. As much as I liked my cousin, what he did was unforgivable and I wish he’d rotted in that stinking prison.

How can someone betray and murder the people they claim to love most in the world?

I guess he did do me one favour. He’s the reason I’m an Auror now. I want to make sure bastards like him get what they deserve. His best friends! A baby, for the love of Nimue! A baby.

Sorry. Wandering off the point a bit.

Anyway, this being my first day and all, I spent most of the day in a tiny little cubicle, filling out personnel scrolls. The witch in charge of personnel (who’d better pray she’s never trapped in a dark place with me) kept making all these snide little comments about “blood will out” and how you always know a person once you know their family. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before and usually I’ve got a few snide comments of my own. Or hexes. Whichever, I'm not picky. But, since it was my first day at a new job, I bit down on my tongue until it bled, smiling some vapid smile at her when I really wanted to claw her eyes out and feed them to her.

Lunch was the best part of the day. Sophie surprised me at the Fountain in the lobby, along with some of our other friends from school: Gwyn, Bertram and Hex. (Hex just completed his Justice apprenticeship and started clerking for Amelia Bones. Lucky bastard.) We transfigured our robes into blankets (Bertram forgot he wasn’t wearing Muggle clothes underneath and had to nip home for a bit) and had a celebratory picnic in a little park near to the Ministry. Was fun. Must get together with that lot more often. It’s so easy to be happy around them.

After lunch, the day got worse. I was pulled aside at Wand Registration for a “random security check,” every single person I passed gave me a double- or triple-take before they started whispering behind their hands and Kingsley Bloody Shacklebolt pulled me into an office to interrogate me about my loyalties. He’s the Auror in charge of the manhunt for Sirius. Apparently they got some anonymous tip that someone he knew from Before is helping him get in and out of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts.

Right, yeah, that’d be me: newly minted Auror and fugitive harbourer. How sodding brilliant of them all to see the black hair and the Black face and tell at a glance that I’m as rotten to the core as he is.

Arseholes, the lot of ‘em. I’ve half a mind to not go back to work tomorrow.

20:13 Of course, if I don’t go back they’ll just nod gravely at each other and say, “We were right. Just another Black.”

20:15 BUGGER IT ALL!

21:21 Gods above, I hate when people make me cry.

21:24 Good news is I didn't fall down or break anything all day. So there is that.

21:28 I wonder if Mum’s still up. She’ll understand. She’s had to deal with it her whole life.

23:37 Have best Mum in world, feel loads better. Will record our conversation tomorrow. Now must sleep so I can go back to that wretched place tomorrow. Joy.

11 May 1994
08:01
Decided to Muggle it into work today instead of Flooing so I would have time to write down what Mum said last night. I guess I could’ve just used the built-in Vox recording charm, but somehow actually writing out the words makes me feel a little better.

Nearly forgot to transfigure my quill into a pen. That’d be brilliant, getting a reprimand for Secrecy on my second day as an Auror.

08:10 Not like it would’ve made much difference if I were writing with a quill. There’s a bloke on the train right now who’s ranting about the undead eating everyone’s brains. He's obviously cracked. Everybody knows that the undead prefer festering vegetation.

So, obviously, Mum was still up when I went over last night. Dad was working on something in his office and Mum was sitting in the kitchen in her dressing gown, listening to a Floo-in show on the Wireless. Took one look at me and my still-black hair and knew exactly what was wrong. Held her arms out and I did this weird snuffly sob/laugh thing and threw myself at her. Once we cleaned up the tea service I knocked to the floor, she gave me a big hug and started fussing like she does when I get sick.

Quite miss that actually, now that I’ve moved out.

And that rhubarb crumble she makes. Never did get the hang of that crust.

Hmm, now I’m really hungry. Forgot to have breakfast this morning. Oooh! This station’s got Cadbury dispensers!

08:14 Never will understand why chocolate isn’t considered a breakfast food. Isn’t it an anytime, all the time kind of delicacy?

(Oh, bugger it. Just glanced up at the map and realized I got back on the wrong line! Let’s see... I’m on the brown squiggly line and I need to… Right. Change to yellow and green line at Embankment. (Research: did the Underground planners mean to set up the lines in the shape of a bottle? Looks like a clever advert for some kind of alcohol.))

So, Mum made us up a fresh pot. We are British, after all. Tea solves most any problems. She asked what was wrong, what happened at work? Next thing I knew, I was kneeling next to her chair, choking out the story between sobs while she stroked the hair back from my face.

She grumbled a bit when I repeated the personnel witch’s comments, but mostly made soft shushing noises and sympathetic clicks. When I was done, she kissed my forehead and told me not to worry. Funny thing is, when she did that, I felt loads better. I don’t know if it was because I’d gotten out all my anger and bitterness, or if there really is magic in a mother’s kiss, like in those books she used to read me at bedtime.

Started to feel a bit silly, hanging in her lap like an overgrown child, and said so, but she just laughed at me and wiped my cheeks with a soft hand.

“That’s what mums are made for,” she said and pushed me away, laughing again.

I went to wash my face and say hi to Dad. When I came back to the kitchen, she’d cleared away the tea things and was sitting at the table with a photo album in front of her.

“This,” she said, “is what Blacks are made of,” and she opened the album.

08:23 (It really is amazing how well this whole Tube system works without magic! The trains are as regular as moon phases and everything seems so orderly.)

The album Mum had out wasn’t one I had seen before. She keeps pictures of her sisters and Sirius and Regulus in a shiny red dragonskin album on a bookshelf in her bedroom. I used to page through it when I was little, practicing the faces and hairstyles on rainy days. This one was much older, covered in some tough black fabric shot through with golden filaments. There were cracks in the binding and some of the pictures were starting to peel from the pages. Most of the pages were labelled in shaky, spidery black writing that had hardly faded at all.

The strangest thing was that I didn’t recognize hardly any of the people waving at us from the pages. Sure, they all looked vaguely alike, in a haughty, aristocratic way. Occasionally, I saw a name or a face I knew but that didn’t happen more than a handful of times.

Mum explained that this was the only item she took from her parents’ house the night she ran away with Dad. She called it her “wake-up call”.

See, I’ve never met most of Mum’s family. Narcissa and Bellatrix (I refuse to call them Aunt) came calling once or twice when I was very small, always while Dad was away. Regulus stopped showing up for birthdays after he got into an argument with Dad the year I turned eight. He was killed not long after that. Sirius came over whenever he was home from Hogwarts and could sneak out of his house, which wasn’t often. They were the only ones I ever met properly.

The rest of the family, well, I learned about them at Hogwarts. Mum refused to even speak her parents’ names at home and I was awfully curious, so I looked them up in the library. I almost wish I hadn’t. I had nightmares for months, mostly about being kidnapped by some demented relative and forced to become a proper Black. And what I didn’t read on my own, I found out from other students. Not a fun time, really. You try being the only Metamorphmagus, an estranged member of a notoriously Dark family and clumsy to boot.

Anyway, the people in this album… For one thing, they were almost all smiling, which can be downright chilling on a Black. No severed house-elf heads, no scary dark artefacts, just normal-looking (for Pureblood wizards, anyway) people.

Mum explained that this was a chronicle of the Blacks who got away, in a sense. The ones who thought for themselves instead of blindly following centuries of tradition. In short, the other Blacks who got blasted off the family tree.

The last picture in the album was of Uncle Alphard Black and his wife, Adelaide. He had his arm slung around her shoulders and they were both beaming out at us. Mum sniffled a little and laid her hand on the page, fingertips resting on their names. Uncle Alphard helped out when Mum and Dad were first married, she told me. He gave them enough gold to buy their first cottage outside Hogsmeade, the one where I was born.

We watched as Uncle Ally (as Mum kept calling him) kissed Adelaide and she swatted his shoulder. Mum traced their outlines one last time and closed the book, sliding it over in front of me.

“Remember them, Nymphadora, whenever anyone gives you grief about your family,” she said fiercely, tapping the cover for emphasis. “They are the only Blacks who matter to us.”

Told you I had a great mum.

08:49 Oh! This is my station. Time for my grand entrance: Black face, black hair and wand at the ready. Anybody who doesn’t like it can get stuffed.

11:17 My, my, how very irresponsible of me to accidentally stumble on a loose tile on my way into the personnel witch’s cubicle. While carrying a giant mug of blackberry tea which somehow ended up all over said witch’s powder-blue robes. Shame, really.

11:19 Heh.


A/N, part the second: Just my little version of a love letter to the best transportation system in the world, even if it is entirely too hot down there in summer. (Bear in mind, though, Tonks doesn't ride the Tube everyday so everything is always shiny and good for her.) And to mums. They roxors!

Special thanks to my best mum in the world for replacing my ragged London Underground tee and thereby ensuring I got at least one geographical detail correct! And to Transport for London (journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk) for helping with the travel times. Cheers!

 

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