Actions

Work Header

Love and War

Chapter Text

CHAPTER ONE

Nymphadora Tonks sighed in frustration as she breifly paused, intending to lower her broom in the direction of Grimmauld Place.

"Moody. We are not circling back. I am cold, wet and hungry. We have Harry. We can be inside in 30 seconds. You know I adore you and your Constant Vigilance but in all honesty, you can bugger off. No one has followed us."

"Its just a precaution Nymphadora! Potter's safety is our number one concern!" her mentor, Alastor 'Mad Eye' Moody snapped.

"Don't call me Nymphadora!"

"Alastor, Nymphadora has a point. We are surely at more risk loitering in the air" the baritone voice of Kingsley Shacklbolt offered.

"Dont call me Nymphadora! Bloody hell. I am going inside now. Feel free to do laps of Greater London, but we have just managed to fly a 100 mile round trip without incident. I'm ready for dinner, a long hot bath, and my messy bedroom. Come now."

Without waiting for further instruction she drew alongside Harry Potter and guestured in the general direction of Grimmauld Place and pulled into a dive. Turning back to look at the members of the Advance Guard she was pleased to see the remainder of the team follow her lead including a begrudging Mad Eye who simply shook his head as she winked at him and tossed him a little wave.

Landing silently in the street Moody pulled alongside her. "You're lucky I like you, lass" he grumbled and waved his wand, causing Number 12 to suddenly appear from in between the adjoining townhouses. She giggled a little at their young charges delighted and confused face and waited with Moody, carefully watching the street, as the others led Harry into the entrance. Moody grabbed her arm as she went to step inside.

"Alright?" He enquired. She sighed.

"I'm sorry for getting snappy Moody, it's just more than a little awkward being here now. Plus, you know. Cold. Hungry. Tired. Ready to crawl up under my blankets. All alone" she hissed the last two words under her breath. Her mentor patted her back sharply twice, causing her to stumble slightly. After years of working directly with him she knew this to be the Mad Eye Moody equivalent of a comforting embrace and cup of tea, and she managed a small smile.

"Forget Remus. His loss."

"Fear not Moody. I'm not holding a torch if that's whats worrying you. It's just that the bloody bastard keeps giving me pitiful glances as if he feels sorry for me for turning me down. All I did was suggest dinner and hope for a shag for Merlins sake. He's acting like I announced my undying love and that I'm going to burst into tears and beg him to reconsider." She shrugged and Moody snorted.

"If it offends your delicate sensibilities too much girly let me know. I can always pull a few strings and get you stationed elsewhere. I'm sure your folks would love to have you home."

"Nah, he'll get over it. This is where the action is, even if its a bit more crowded with Potter here. He seems like a nice enough kid. Plus, you know, we all know what mum thinks of all this, I dont need the lecture."

"Indeed. Tad more crowded than that now, his friend Granger arrived while we were out. Mr Honourable himself went to go collect her. He'll be out of here in a few days with the full moon due soon anyway."

"Granger? Who's he?"

"Granger is a she. Interesting little thing. You'll like that one" he replied, giving her a knowing smirk.

"Thank you for the wise words, as always Mr Moody" she chuckled.

"Alright, alright. In you go" he guestured at the door, snorting again as she tripped up the step. "Try not to set off Great Auntie Black this time" he offered.

"I wont! Ye of little faith" she mumbled before stepping into the hall and tripping over the coat stand, doing exactly that.

"BLOOD TRAITORS! SCUM! SOILING THE ANCIENT HOUSE OF BLACK! FILTH -"

"SHUT UP!" a voice yelled as Sirius Black came tearing down the hallway and slammed the curtains shut that surrounded the portrait of Walburga Black.

"Not a word Moody. Wotcher Sirius, sorry about that" she whispered as he managed to silence the portrait and Moody clunked past, shaking his head at his protegee who picked herself up off the floor.

"Ah thats alright Nymphie. We'll get her down one day" he offered with a grin.

"Given you just saved me from being deafened by a portrait of your mother I will let the 'Nymphie' comment go. You're in a good mood. Harry was pleased to see you then?"

"He was! I just hope it stays that way with Dumbledore having enforced the closed communications these past few weeks. He was getting a bit snappy earlier" he frowned.

"Ah, the frigid winds of teenage hormones. I do not miss those days my friend. Give it time. I'm sure theres method to Dumbledores madness. I bloody hope so anyway. Harry will understand."

"I hope so. Dinner will be on shortly if you wanted to wash up."

"Wonderful. See you in halfa then" she offered with a grin.

Tonks dashed up the stairs to dump her broom and quickly removed her leather jacket, grabbing a much less wet mens jumper she had filched from Charlie Weasley last time she had seen him and reminded herself to write him later. Giving it a sniff and assessing it for stains she decided it was clean enough and pulled it on over her tank top and took off her equally wet cargo pants rummaged through the pockets before finally managing to track down down a half squashed cigarette and pulled open the window to her room, sitting on the ledge and gazing out over Islington as she deeply inhaled, thankful to have a moment to herself.

Stubbing the cigarette out a few minutes later she cast a spell to freshen the air in her room, lest she be accused of corrupting the children, threw on some jeans that were certainly verging on needing a wash and strode down the hallway to wash her hands and face before making her way down to the stairs. A sudden movement caught her eye and she turned, drawing her wand, cursing the stupid house and all the dark artifacts it possessed. It was never possible to really relax when half the furniture was trying to maim you and you had a dozen housemates, even in a house as big as this. She knew Lupin had mentioned finding a boggart earlier before it slipped away and that was the last thing she needed jumping out of her closet in the dead of the night.

Peering into the study she paused at the doorframe and watched. Ah, the elusive Miss Granger she thought to herself, watching a young woman with brown hair even more disheveled than hers and caramel eyes in jeans and a tight top that sat very snuggly in places she, for one, could admire as she silently insected the room before the grandfather clock in the corner caught her eye and she stepped towards it. Fuck.

"Look out!" she yelled, charging into the room and tackling the suddenly highly alarmed girl to the ground, a bolt fly over the top of her head so closly she felt the breeze through her hair as it lodged itself in the wall opposite them.

"What the bloody hell just happened?!" an indignant voice squeaked, startled. Tonks lifted her head from, she was amused to find, the girls cleavege.

"Ah. That. Black family households are a bit of a safety hazard. I'd recommend not touching anything, ever. Wotcher, I'm Nymphadora Tonks. Don't ever call me Nymphadora though or I'll regret not letting the clock finish the job" she stated, pulling the girl to her feet.

"Tonks it is. I'm Hermione Granger" the girl offered with a smile.

"Apologies for such a violent introduction. I don't normally tackle or grope people before at least giving them my name, even the very pretty ones" she offered with a wink, pleased to see Hermione flush.

"It was certainly a memorable one".

"Well I am normally that" Tonks offered with a laugh, seeing the girl flush even redder.

"I'll bet you are" she muttered demurely.

"I suppose if I've felt you up already you should probably let me escort you to dinner then. Oh you are fun" she couldn't help but giggle as the younger witch continued to remain beet red and cleared her throat. Decided to take it easy on the poor girl she looped her arm through the younger witches and led her to the door and towards the stairs.

"Fear not Miss Granger, I shall protect you from this horrid house" she whispered dramatically, gesturing with a wave to the walls, and Hermione laughed. Beaming, Tonks led her down the stairs before stumbling over the rug.

"Smooth" Hermione snorted before a flicker of amazement passed through her face. "Erm. Did I hit my head or did your hair just change color?" Tonks laughed.

"I'm a Metamorphmagus, no concussion for you" she smiled before concentrating and morphed silently into a spitting image of the girl in front of her.

"That's amazing!" Hermione replied, reaching out to touch the hair that looked so much like hers before thinking, and caught herself, dropping her hand beside her.

"I'm that too" Tonks said with another saucy wink and morphed back to her standard pink-haired self before the door in front of them was thrown open by Molly Weasley.

"Hermione! Nymphadora! There you are. I was just about to come looking for you" she said before hustling them into the kitchen and ignoring Tonks' wince.

Tonks found herself sitting across from Hermione at dinner, catching her eye on occasion and pleased to see the witch throwing subtle smiles at her which she returned.

Moody was right. Interesting indeed.

0x0x0

Hermione Granger awoke with a start and grasped her wand, settling slightly to find the noise that had so rudely awoken her was Ginny Weasley mumbling in her sleep. Pausing at a groan and a mumbled 'oh...Harry' she made the executive decision that if she was going to be able to look either of her friends in the eye tomorrow she best leave and quietly slipped out of their shared bedroom. Throwing a glance at a clock in the hallway she realised it was 4am and sighed, resigning herself to a cup of tea and a quiet room downstairs.

As she quietly walked down the hallway, mindful to recall the advice a memorable pink-haired witch had given her several days prior to Not Touch Anything Ever she decided that perhaps it wasn't such an inconvenience to be awake after all. Having grown up as a single child coming to share a room with Lavender Brown and Pavarti Patil had been quite a shock to the system – however nothing had prepared her for the overwhelming sensation of sharing a house with 6 Weasleys, an emotionally turbulent Harry Potter, Sirius Black and the assortment of other Order members who often showed up ranging from the gruff but odly endearing Mad Eye Moody, to the constantly sneering Severus Snape. The peace and quiet might be nice. She was startled, therefore, to tiptoe into the kitchen to find said memorable pink-haired witch in her mud-streaked auror uniform sitting at the kitchen bench clutching what appeared to be an almost empty tumbler of firewhisky.

"Tonks?" she asked, chuckling a little at the small jump from the auror who seemed lost in thought.

"Oh! You startled me, I was in my own little world."

"I can leave you to it if you like?" Hermione asked hesitantly, suddenly feeling a pang of anxiety at interrupting what might have been a personal moment.

"Nah, you're alright. Pull up a seat if you like. What brings you to the kitchen at this fine hour?"

"Ginny is groaning in her sleep. Quite loudly and suspiciously I might add. Thought it best to leave in case someone gets up to use the loo and hears, the rumors would be wild. I might get hexed." Tonks snorted.

"Can't be too afraid of those sorts of rumors if you are sitting around with me in the dead of night love" she grinned wolfishly, before laughing at Hermone's blushed cheeks. "Sorry, I can't help myself. Who'd be throwing the first curse do you reckon? Ron, Molly or Harry?"

"You've picked up on the Harry and Ginny thing then?" Hermione asked with a giggle.

"Please. Dedalus Diggle has picked up on the Harry and Ginny thing and he only spotted the two of them for about 30 seconds before an Order meeting the other night. Someone should just lock them in a room and disperse the rest of the Weasleys for a few hours and let them at it."

"Might put him in a better mood" Hermione offered, before feeling a twinge of guilt for complaining about her friend. Only a twinge however, she reflected, as he had been fairly insufferable the past few days with being kept out of the loop with the Order of the Phoenix meetings.

"Giving you a hard time is he? I could make some arrangements. Some repelling wards for the rest of the posse on the upstairs broom closet might do the trick. I could even leave them a lovely little contraceptive potion and some massage oil. Perhaps I'll pull him aside and give him some pointers on how to preform."

Hermione, who had taken a swig of tea at this point, quickly snorted in laughter and ejected the liquid from her nose at the image of Harry's face being given The Talk by the shameless auror. Tonks laughed loudly and patted Hermione generously on the back before squeezing her arm gently and withdrawing it to take another swig of her tumbler of Ogdins Finest. Hermione could only hope the blush on her cheeks could be attributed to the choking fit moments earlier.

"Tonks, I think I would pay most of the galleons to my name to see a pensive memory of that. Best not though, I wouldn't wish an overprotective Mrs Weasley on anyone, least of all you."

"Shucks Hermione, you'll have me as flushed as you if you keep going like that. So protective of me. It's very endearing."

"Merlin, you are such a prat" Hermione replied, her eyes glinting with mischief. Tonks could only grin wolfishly again.

"Don't I know it. You love it though, there isn't nearly enough laughter in this house."

"Yes, it's almost like there's some evil dark wizard plotting against us and it's got everyone in a mood" Hermione deadpanned before returning the older witches grin.

"On a – very rare I might add - serious note though, you'd let me know if I made you uncomfortable though, yeah?" Tonks found herself asking, a touch of nerves to her voice. The younger witch found herself smiling genuinely in response.

"No, you are correct, the banter is fine. This house needs all the normalcy and laughter it can get. That is something you always bring to the table. I'm really quite grateful."

"Good. What about the incorrigible flirting?" Tonks asked with the most innocent look on her face she could muster.

"I don't love the blushing but I'll survive. You flirt with everyone and they all seem fine with it, hopefully the phase where my face looks like a tomato will pass" Hermione replied honestly, after a moments thought.

"Not bloody likely, I save all my best lines for you" Tonks offered with a wink. Hermione won a brief but tense battle of wills as she fought the urge to ask why she earned the best lines, settling instead for swigging the remainder of her tea and deciding to set aside some time to dwell obsessively over it later, and was grateful for the change in topic. "What's the plans for the rest of the holidays, will you be staying here?"

"Not much I think. My parents are out of the country, I suggested they get out of the area for a while given You-Know-Who will be plotting now he has returned. It was sad to leave them so early, but safer for all of us I think. They left for the rest of the holidays the day after I came here for France" she replied sadly.

"You're probably right. I'm glad mum and dad are reasonably well hidden but at least they can defend themselves somewhat. I can't imagine being in your position" Tonks mused sympathetically. To her horror, Hermione felt a lump in her throat and tears spring to her eyes that did not go unnoticed and the older witch paled considerably

"Fuck. Sorry Hermione. Foot, meet mouth. Didn't mean to upset you."

"It's not your fault" Hermione mumbled as she cleared her throat and tore her eyes away from the pretty violet ones meeting her own. "It's just hard. I worry about them so much. I worry about everyone so much. No one really understands, the boys just...I understand why but they just don't get it."

"Would you like me to have a talk to the Order about some additional protection for them? I doubt we have the resources for a guard or anything, we struggled even with just Harry. But we could look at some wards on your house or something if you like? I don't know what's currently in place."

Hermione sighed. "I carved up some basic protection rune stones at school and brought them home at the start of the holidays but I think thats it to be honest. I was going to ask Professor Lupin if he could take a look at them when he came but everyone was in a tizz because of the Dementors going after Harry and in the chaos I didn't want to bother him."

"Hermione, I'd be happy to help! I'm no Flitwick but I can throw up a few protective wards. I'm on a four on – four off roster at the moment so I've got time over the next few days. I'll apperate us and get it sorted tomorrow for you if you like. It shouldn't take too long"

"Really? Oh I'd be so grateful if you could. It'd be a huge weight off my shoulders." Hermione replied, genuinely touched at the offer.

"'Course! It'd be my pleasure. You'll owe me though" Tonks offered with another wink.

"I'll take you you lunch! there's a brilliant Chinese takeout place near my house, I crave it dreadfully when I'm at school."

"Why Hermione Granger, are you asking me on a date? I'll have to wear some cleaner clothes" Tonks teased, cocking an eyebrow at the suddenly very flustered witch before her.

"What? No! I mean – yes, I guess, if you wanted to – of course, I - "

"Its a date then!" Tonks laughed at the younger witch. "On that note, we best get some sleep. Come find me before lunch and we can head off." She stood, drained the last dregs of her drink and bent over next to the still spluttering young witch and tucked a disheveled thread of hair behind her ear, gently pressing two lips to her cheek. "Night" she smirked before disapparating with a pop.

Hermione touched a hand to her burning face and remained shellshocked at the table for a few minutes before stumbling upstairs in a daze, stumbling into bed. As she pulled the covers over herself she could feel the burn from the kiss to her cheek, and quickly fell to asleep, dreaming of pink hair and red lips.

Chapter Text

Hermione woke with a start some hours later to the unpleasant screeching of Molly Weasley and winced. Checking the time she realised it was only 7:30am and sighed, lamenting the poor sleeping habits she had developed these past few weeks. Since Voldemort had returned she couldn't remember the last time she had slept through the night. Hearing more screeching from downstairs she decided further efforts to sleep would be a lost cause and decided to go and try to wrangle some time in the bathroom.

Grumbling tiredly to herself as she knocked on the door she considered that her day might be off to a better start when she reaslied it was free. A rare occurrence indeed. She quickly turned on the shower and found herself exhaling with relief at the feel of the hot water over her tense muscles. Running over the events of the night before she pondered if now might be a good time to start her delegated obsessing time over Tonks.

She touched her fingers to the skin where Tonks had briefly kissed her and remembered the burn. It felt like all she ever did was burn when she was in the presence of the older witch. Embarrassment at her reactions to the shameless flirting being the most common buring feeling but there was more. Guilt, perhaps, that she was letting such trivialities play on her mind when she should be worrying about Harry? Certainly that was present. The burn from that kiss though...the most intense burn yet. Desire. She felt a strange heat pooling inside her at the thought of the sensory overload of Nymphadora Tonks leaning over and touching her hair then kissing her so softly. Her musings were interupted by a knock on the door and she almost jumped.

"Mione, are you in there? I need the loo!" Ginny yelled through the closed door.

"I'm washing my hair Gin! Can't you use the boys bathroom?"

"Yuck Hermione. Just hurry up will you!?"

"Fine! Give me 2 minutes!" Hermione shouted back irritably. Rinsing her hair quickly she jumped out and started to mumble about insensitive bathroom hogs. Wrapping a towel around her waist she grabbed a second and began towling her hair dry, wishing she could use magic to hurry the process along. She just knew it was going to be a frizzier mess even more so with the rush. Throwing on her dressing gown she quickly wrapped the towel around her head and strolled from the room only to see Ginny had abandoned her post of guarding the girls bathroom and she retreated to her room and seethed quietly. Coffee was going to be essential before any further interactions with people this morning or she feared there were going to be some bruised egos and it didn't take a brain like hers to know that further tension in the house was the last thing anyone needed.

Dressing quickly she made her way to the kitchen and quickly poured herself a large mug of coffee and lifted it to her face, inhaling the smell deeply. Turning to take a seat and get some toast she found Mrs Weasley looking towards her, no doubt planning to offload several ridiculous and somewhat dangerous jobs involving cleaning the house onto her and her boys to 'keep them busy'.

Coffee first.

She quickly held up a finger to pause Mrs Weasley, trying to keep a neutral face as she ignored the increasingly narrowed eyes from the matron and swigged deeply from her mug. Much better. She sighed contentedly as her irritability dulled significantly.

"Good morning Mrs Weasley, how are you this morning?" she inquired, pleased to see the narrowed eyes of her counterpart disappear.

"Oh good morning Hermione dear, I'm well thank you. Take a seat and let me get you some breakfast. Now I've a busy day for you all, after breakfast I've got some supplies downstairs for you to help Harry and Ron clear the basement of doxies and then once thats done I'll get lunch organised and then theres some tidying to be done in the sitting room." Hermione paused, a large number of questions sprouting.

"How many doxies are there if it's going to take us to lunch time?"

"Oh, a few dear" Mrs Weasley intoned, vaguley guesturing with a wave of her hand.

A lot then. Oh joy. Hermione took another calming swig of coffee.

"How should we be getting rid of them without magic?"

"Theres some cans of doxicide downstairs waiting, I've sent the boys downstairs already with it. If you run out I found some hessian sacks to catch them in." Hermione decided it wise to bite her tongue, deciding that announcing trying to subdue an untold amount of XXX dangerous creatures with sacks would likely not result in a favorable outcome given her next statement, and steeled herself.

"Not a problem Mrs Weasley. Unfortunately, I wont be available after lunch as I've some errands to run." She forced a neutral expression again as Mrs Weasley narrowed her eyes again

"Errands, dear? That shouldn't be necessary. It's far too dangerous outside for you to be wandering the streets alone. Whatever it is you need done I can organise for you, just leave me a list and I'll see to it when I pop to Diagon Alley next week and pick up everyones school supplies."

"I wont be alone Mrs Weasley, Tonks wil be with me." Mrs Weasleys eyes narrowed further and she tried not to visibly flinch at the increasingly red hue to her face.

"Nymohadora? Why would Nymphadora be out with you? I'm afraid I'll have to refuse dear, I'm sure whatever it is she can handle it alone. I wont have you out and about." Hermione felt her irritability suddenly start to creep back and fought to keep it out of her voice and stepped forward to cut the matron off before she got carried into another tirade.

"Unfortunately the arrangements have already been made, Mrs Weasley. I will be going."

"Nonsense! You can stay right here, the last thing we need is you gallivanting around with Nymphadora getting up to mischief." Hermione felt her own eyes narrow.

"Nymph – Tonks is an Auror Mrs Weasley, I'm quite confident I will be perfectly safe with her."

"Aw shucks Hermione! You sure now how to make a girl blush" came a lighthearted voice from the doorway as said auror stumbled into the room dressed in mens tracksuit pants and a black singlet, pink hair messed wildly. She strolled into the kitchen, seemingly ignoring the heightened tensions and grabbed a piece of Hermione's half eaten toast, taking a bite and giving her a subtle wink before flicking her wand to boil the water on the stove and glanced briefly as coffee grinds and sugar flew from their containers into a cracked mug. She ignored Mrs Weasley's now redirected glare. Hermione struggled valiently to keep the grin off her face. She felt warm.

"Good morning" she beamed at Tonks who took another bite of her toast.

"Morning to you too Hermione! I've check with Moody and he's fine for us to be out of here for a few hours. We can head off whenever you're ready." In the corner, Molly Weasley began to grow increasingly red in the face. Hermione found herself torn with desire to leave immediately but a sneaking suspicion that leaving her boys to cope with what she assumed was an infestation of flying venomous fairies alone with cans of doxicide and sacks would be an unnecessary, unmitigated disaster.

"If its alright with you, let me give the boys and hand to clear up the doxies and then I'll come find you. Thanks for breakfast Mrs Wesley, I'll head down to deal with them now." she promptly dashed from the kitchen, having faith Tonks would escape the wrath of the matron.

0x0x0

Tonks finished a cigarette in her room from the windowsill and cast a few freshening spells before rolling up a scroll of parchment for Charlie, deciding that 2 hours really should have been enough time to get few of a few doxies and decided it would be best to investigate. Patience never was one of her stronger qualities.

"Kreacher!"

The wrinkled menace appeared before her, muttering obscenities about 'unnatural filth' in the House of Black which she decided to pointedly ignore. Perhaps he would cheer up if he was kept busy.

"Kreacher, can you have one of the owls post this to Charlie Weasley please?"

"Filthy colourful wench. Oh my poor Mistress, if she could see the scum poor Kreacher has to serve borne of loathsome blood traitors and mudbloods - "

"Yes, yes. No need for a running narration. Just get it done thanks" Tonks snapped handing over the letter. "Now where are Hermione, Harry and Ron?"

Tonks was a tad disturbed to see Kreacher suddenly bare his teeth in what she assumed was meant to be a grin, and tried not to visibly flinch.

"Ginger brat, mudblood girl and filthy blood traitor are stranded in living room. Yes, yes, Kreacher has been watching and enjoying seeing them suffer so -"

"Eh? Why are they stranded?"

"Clever doxies have stranded filthy scum by blocking the door" he giggled ominously.

"Oh for Gods sake! Take me there now, then post the letter."

Scowling, the house elf reached forward and grasped her coat in his tiny, dirty fist and with a crack they appeared in the living room only for her to duck as several of them flew straight for her face, cackling maniacally. Kreacher wiped his hand with disgust on his filthy pillowcase and disappeared again.

Oh lord. Tonks drew her wand and gazed around the room in a mixture of horror and amusement, finding Ron spluttering and waving his arms wildly in the air trying to bat 20 of the creatures away that had swarmed him, his shirt and hair covered in what seamed to be violet paint. Anther dozen had Harry and Hermione bailed up in the corner and a group of them were brandishing the can of doxicide at them with one on top of the can trying to jump on the nozzle, purple spray ejecting from the lid intermitently. Dozens more swarmed around the door preventing them from leaving.

"On three, duck everyone! One – two – THREE! FLIPPENDO!" Tonks yelled with a wave of her wand. Repeating the jinx as she spun around the room the tiny creatures were quickly stunned and dropped to the floor, several landing on Ron and Harry's head. Hermione seemingly had the sense to hold a large tome over her head like and umbrella, and quickly stepped forward.

"Hold still Tonks!"

"Um okay, what - "

Hermione quickly swung the book as hard as she could, smacking two doxies out of the air from over her head who quickly joined their cohorts on the ground, unconscious.

"Huh. You didn't even flinch."

"Well. That was violent. Good shot Hermione. Now what the fuck happened here? Was anyone bitten?" she remarked, gesturing to the 60 or so unconscious doxies littering the floor and destroyed room. Ron and Harry climbed to their feet, brushing off their clothes.

"Bloody hell. It was alright at first when we came in, Hermione and Harry were trying to herd them into a corner so I could spray them but then they stole the can off me and...well" Ron offered, waving at them vaguely.

"I think Mrs Wesley underestimated the amount that were in here" Harry stated. "They got a bit...aggressive and loads more came in. Then they all swarmed around the door so we couldn't get out. I dont think I was bitten though..." he trailed off, and everyone looked themselves over.

Tonks threw a glance to a very frazzled looking Hermione who was looking as though she either wanted to punch someone or burst into tears.

"Right! Well, theres some sacks over there for you to chuck them in, maybe keep a better handle on that spray lads. Miss Granger and I have some place to be." She quickly pulled Hermione to her chest and they disapparated with a quiet pop, appearing again upstairs in her bedroom where she quickly silenced the room and warded the door before taking a seat on her bed.

"Best let it out then."

"ARGH! Those BOYS! It was a simple plan - RON! Cant even hold onto a bloody can – What was Mrs Weasley thinking sending us down there – would have only taken her 20 seconds to stun them all but nooo! Stupid bloody creatures! Useless fucking underage magic laws – bloody purple spray all over my book!"

Tonks waited in amused silence as Hermione paced angrily around the room and raged in vague, half-formed sentences for a few more minutes before she stopped again and Tonks grasped a hand and gently yanked her to sit on the side of the bed beside her.

"Better now?"

"Much" Hermione replied quietly. "Thank you, god only knows how long we would have been down there before someone realised."

"My pleasure, sweets." She grinned seeing the corners of Hermione's mouth twitch.

"How did you even find us?"

"Kreacher. I assume he had been silently watching the whole thing from a corner, giggling morbidly. I summonsed him to ask him where you all were and got him to apparate us both to the room."

"Well I was about to say it was nice of him to get us help, but perhaps not."

"Agreed. I reckon if you'd been in there much longer he'd have gone to get popcorn." Hermione snorted.

"Do you think anyone else in this house even knows what popcorn is?"

"Probably not. Their loss though. On that note, I believe I have been promised another mystical meal to the world of witchcraft and wizardry – Chinese food. Still keen to head out? If its a bit much after today we can go tomorrow" Tonks offered gently.

"God no. Let me try and restrain my hair somewhat and we can leave. I think getting out of the house will do me the world of good" Hermione replied, standing up and stretching before pulling her hair back into a messy bun and straightening her clothes, offering a hand to pull the older witch up.

"Thank you kindly. Now lets try and sneak out of here without being delegated more cleaning tasks or 40 minute lectures on safety standards shall we?" Tonks smirked, offering an arm.

"Lets" Hermione beamed.

0x0x0

Hermione was pleased to see they managed to escape the house without drawing any attention and stepping onto the street drew in her first breath of fresh air since she had arrived, sighing contently.

"Alright, where too first? Lunch or the house of Granger?"

"Let's check my house first, I'd rather get it out of the way so I can relax. I can order lunch to have at home if thats easier once were done?"

"Not a problem sweets. Whats the address? Lets roll."

Hermione felt the unpleasant sensation of being pulled through a straw making her feel somewhat nauseous, but was unable to dampen her spirits about being out of the crowded house. With Tonks. Who had given her an endearing nickname that made her feel that heat clench in her stomach whenever she said it. Appearing in a section of bushland at the end of the cul-de-sac Hermione's 2 x story, pleasantly upper-middle clase home was located on she led Tonks up to her house and giggled as her traveling partner let out a low whistle.

"Nice digs! I can't wait to get inside and look at all your baby photos." Hermione thumped her arm, and Tonks laughed loudly.

"There will be no baby photos! I'll be keeping a very close eye on you!" Hermione unlocked the door and stood aside, allowing Tonks entry into the foyer and noted with interest as what she decided to call 'Professional Tonks' took over, politely pretending not to notice as the pink-haired witch tripped up the front step. Hermione stepped into the foyer and placed her order with the local Chinese restaurant which promised delivery within the hour.

"Okay, let's check the back yard first, then I'll check over the front boundary before I look through any other access points to the house."

Hermione followed the auror as they walked through the back yard and watched as several Notice-Me-Not charms were casts before Tonks paced the perimeter slowly, waving her wand and, seeing Hermione's curious expression launched into a detailed explanation of what she was doing and checking.

"Your ward stones are good! Like, really good. Cant fault them. Theres a few more protective spells I'll cast to help though….now Protego Totalum is a derivative of your standard protego but for dwellings, should last for ages. Salvio Hexia should protect the place from any hexes and low to moderate curses and jinxes assuming anyone with unfortunate intentions manages to actually get in, you wave your wand like this...yep! Just don't actually cast it obviously. The last thing we need is Mafalda sending an irate letter for underage magic – hmmm. I might be able to work around that. But where was I? Oh yes! Thats your basic wards, no point doing a muggle repelling charm or anything or your folks wont be able to get in. Now I'll cast a few alarms here. Do you want them to alert anyone in particular if anyone breaches the wards? I can link it with a protean charm."

"Oh!" Hermione found herself pulled back to reality, having found herself strangely hypnotised by the older witch working. She found herself reassured – from talks with the boys it was clear that some of the people in the house underestimated Tonks with her clumsiness and inappropriate jokes but it was clear that she was correct in thinking the witch startlingly intelligent underneath that cover. "I hadn't really thought about it to be honest."

"It can't hurt if you want someone to get here in a hurry. I could give one to you, but I'm not sure what good it would do you if you were at school… I could get one to Dumbledore maybe?" Hermione found herself hesitating.

"I – I'm not so sure about Dumbledore" she found herself mumbling and looking away before glancing up after a moment to Tonks' concerned but curious face.

"Noted...lets table that one to discuss over lunch. Tell you what, I'll cast it on these three ward stones, I can keep one and you can decide who to give the other ones to. It should heat up if it detects a breach." With a flick of her wand Tonks cast the spell and passed the small stones to Hermione who pocketed them gratefully.

They quickly moved through the front yard before stepping back into the house. Hermione called for their lunch delivery and watched as Tonks cast similar charms along the doors and windows to the outside of the house before, finally, stepping into Hermione's bedroom upstairs. She found herself somewhat nervous at what Tonks would think, and exhaled quietly with relief when she saw Tonks face light up.

"Ha! This room is exactly how I imagined it would be" Tonks declared, spinning in a slow circle to take in the packed bookshelves, CDs and a gryffindor poster over a double bed, an oak desk and matching chair, plus a small moving photo of her Harry and Ron. In the picture Hermione was looking bemusedly at the two boys as they playfully tried to push each other out of the frame and grinned happily at the camera.

Hermione smiled and walked over to pick the frame up, standing beside her bed. "This was taken last year, right after the first task of the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Ron and Harry had finally made up. I was so relieved, god they can be painful together sometimes but I hated seeing them fight."

"You really love them, don't you?" Tonks asked with a smile.

"They're my brothers. Hopeless and absolutely infuriating sometimes, but I'd do anything for them."

"They're luck to have you then" Tonks remarked simply before grinning and starting to poke through her CDs. "This is quite an assortment Miss Granger, what do we have here? Bowie, Queen, Meatloaf! Really? Meatloaf?"

"Whats wrong with Meatloaf?!"

"Nothing, nothing. Prince! I love Prince!"

"Whats not to love?" Hermione laughed. "Alright, impressions then?"

"I love your room, I can only wish mine was this clean. Its very – you. It smells like you." Hermione's eyes widened in surprise when they locked eyes and Tonks flushed suddenly, and she felt herself replicate the hue. The room suddenly felt very small.

"Hermione, I - " Tonks was cut off by the doorbell and both witches started. "I'll get it!" she shouted, suddenly dashing from the room and down the stairs. Hermione sat on the bed, suddenly winded, and took a deep breath.

"Get it together Granger" she muttered irritably to herself before standing and making her way to the kitchen, surprised at the sheer amount venom she felt towards what had always been perfectly friendly deliverymen from the chinese restaurant she frequented. She made her way quietly to the kitchen and after a brief rummage for bowls and cutlery placed them on the bench. "Gryffindor courage my arse" she began to mumble to herself again.

Turning to put the cups on the bench, she was startled to see a troubled looking Tonks who had walked in and was right behind her holding a plastic bag with their takeaway containers, having miraculously made the brief trip without tripping over anything and drawing attention to herself. Hermione flushed again as she met the older witches eyes. To her surprise she saw the other witches face harden and her eyes darken as she dropped the bag unceremoniously to the floor.

"Fuck it!" Tonks declared resolutely and stepped forward, purposefully lifting a hand to Hermione's neck and locked eyes, giving her a breif questioning look. Seeing a similar resolve she lent forwards and gently brushed her lips against Hermione's.

Hermione heard herself moan quietly and quickly reciprocated, dropping the (thankfully plastic) cups to the floor with a clatter and wrapped both arms around the older witches lower back, drawing her nearer. Tonks' tongue slipped into her mouth, making her weak at the knees and found herself gasping as Tonks pushed her back firmly against the fridge, one hand lodged firmly in her hair and the other tracing patterns on her side through her shirt. A few minutes of passionate kissing ensued until air was needed and Tonks stepped away, her hair quickly shimmering to a dark, curly blue and her normally violet eyes lightening again.

"Damn. I've been wanting to do that for days." Tonks breathed, grinning happily and running a hand through her hair. Hermione could only lean heavily against the fridge, smile stupidly and nod as that warm knot that she felt had been in her stomach all day came undone, and spread throughout her.

"Well, now that that is out of the way should we eat some of this food before it gets cold?" Tonks asked cheekily and Hermione laughed, grabbing the bowls, cutlery and cups and relocating to the living area.

0x0x0

Throughout lunch Tonks reflected happily on the events of the day, beaming happily at Hermione who sat quietly and munched on her honey chicken, beaming right back. There seemed no need to talk much, and she honestly couldn't remember the last time she had felt so...content. Of course, she knew that later the kiss – and whatever else came afterwards – would no doubt cause some problems in varying degrees. Moody, she noted internally, would be insufferable in his knowing looks. Thank god he wasn't much of a talker. God only knows how anyone else would react. Likely not well.

After she and Hermione had finished eating and quietly giving each other adoring looks, she found her nerve and crawled across the living room floor to sit next to Hermione, leaning against the lounge. She delighted in the fact that Hermione similarly put her bowl down, stretched and leant her head on her shoulder.

"Should we...talk about what happened in the kitchen do you think Tonks?" She heard Hermione ask quietly.

"Definitely. But not yet" Tonks replied sincerely. "Lets talk about other things first. I want to know everything about you."

"Everything?" Hermione asked, giggling. "Theres quite a lot. We have to be back at Grimmauld Place at some point."

"We can play a game then. Question for question. We have to tell the truth."

"Or what?" Hermione remarked curiously, her head still lounging on Tonks shoulder. Tonks shifted her arm from underneath Hermione's body and wrapped it around her shoulder, drawing her closer. She smelt like mint.

"Or nothing! Its just the rules, Miss Granger. If I trust you to swing an enormous book at my head without questioning it I trust you to tell the truth."

"Alright. This should be interesting, really. Lets see…first memory you have?"

"Oohh good start! I think I was about 4. Mum had taken me to the park after getting about 30 minutes of promises that I wouldn't morph in front of the muggles. Some turd of a boy who was about 7 I think came and pushed me off the swing and then threw that...chippy wooden stuff they put on the bottom of playgrounds at me and it got in my eyes. I must have gotten the shits 'cause my hair turned red. He looked like he was about to wet himself. Then mum came storming over and I expected her to rip me a new one but instead she screamed at him and he did wet himself. Heh. Then mum picked me up and carried me home and made me a hot chocolate and told me it was alright because it was an accident, and that the boy wouldn't believe what he saw anyway. Then she made me promise to wear a hat with my hair all shoved into it and sunglasses if we ever went back to the park and I got mad and changed accidentally again. I used to look like a bit of a weirdo but it worked okay."

"Your mum sounds a bit terrifying."

"She can be, but most mums can be I think. That said, she is a Black. As am I for that matter. Family is everything. We would all do a lot of terrible things for those we hold dear, do'nt think I'm all sunshine and funny hair. I often think it would be nice if things were different and they were all together. She knows Sirius is free but has been sworn to secrecy and can't see him. And she misses her sisters" Tonks mused.

"Even...Bellatrix?" Hermione asked in surprise.

"Especially Bellatrix. I think they were very close growing up, like twins almost. She has a big picture of her and Bellatrix and Narcissa on the mantle at home. She refuses to talk about them at all though. But thats cheating! Too many questions for you, its my turn now. Okay, if you had to shag Harry or Ron, who would it be?"

Hermione, who had taken a swig of her water, promptly spat it everywhere. Tonks chuckled heartily.

"That's disgusting! Ugh. I could vomit even considering it."

"Alright, alright! Don't waste that delicious chinese food. I'll try another. What's your best subject at school?"

"I'd like to say DADA but thats really Harry's specialty. And the teachers have always been a bit dodgy. Probably Arithmancy, I was always good at maths at my muggle primary school so I think it helps. Alright, my turn again. Whats the furthest place you've traveled"

"Albania. Went looking for Bertha Jorkins for a mission after the Prophet caught wind she had gone missing last year, fat lot of good it did. Actually I think we were fairly close to the Greek border for some of it so maybe Greece. What do your parents do?"

"Dentists. Riveting, I know."

"Ah, that explains your captivating smile though" Tonks replied cheerfully. Hermione looked up at her and blushed.

"Cheeky. Alright, first memorable accidental magic other than your Metamorphmagus abilities which I assume have been happening basically since birth."

"I was given Maths homework when I was 6 and didn't want to do it so I glared at it and it caught on fire. Dad was deeply unimpressed. What was yours?" she giggled as Hermione looked up at her again, aghast, before focusing again.

"I watched Star Wars and decided it would be fun to have The Force and levitated my cup, it spilt all over me. I thought I was a Jedi for a little while. My dad was also deeply unimpressed. Probably a bit more terrified than yours though."

"I'll bet. Who have you wanted to punch in the face most consistently during your school years?"

"Ooh. I'm torn there. Draco Malfoy is high on that list but probably Lavender Brown. I share a dorm with her and she is insufferable. What made you want to be an Auror?"

"Oh, getting deep now are we? Honestly, I think it was mum. She was always my hero growing up, She always made such an impact on everyone around her - regardless of what everyone else thought she always did the right thing. Brave and fearless. She's a Healer for St Mungos. I considered doing that but I'm pants at healing spells but thought what better way was there to be someone people could look up to honorably than fighting for whats right? Same reason I joined the Order actually – that and I'd follow Moody anywhere."

"I bet your mum is really proud of you."

"She definitely is with the Aurors. I haven't told her about the Order, shes...not a fan of Dumbledore. Seems you have that in common actually. Bet you can guess my next question."

Hermione sighed.

"This is...a bit tricky to explain so you might need to bear with me a little. It' something I've been considering a lot this summer and I'm not really liking some of the conclusions I've been drawing and they all seem to revolve around Harry."

Hermione stood up and started to pace around the living room and started looking flushed.

Best not tell her that I find the pacing entirely adorable.

"Alright, lets work through this reasonably chronologically. First year – a professor possessed by Lord Voldemort himself teaches for almost a year at the school. Somehow without Dumbledore knowing. Conveniently, the Philosophers Bloody Stone is hidden behind a series of traps that first years managed to get past chasing said possessed professor after telling the entire school at the Welcoming Feast basically where it was. I mean, he might as well have hung a flashing neon sign over the door. Hagrid is the one tasked to collect it to put it there in the first place, a lovely man but lets be honest I think the phrase 'loose lips sink ships' was developed with him in mind. Said lovely man is also asked to escort Ron, Draco Malfoy and Harry – of course - into the Forbidden Forrest for detention to track down a creature that can kill a unicorn of all things which ends up being said possessed professor which Harry encounters. Of course at the end of our first annual near-death experience when Harry asks why You-Know-Who tried to kill him in the first place and seems so determined to do so now he just gets a vague 'I'll tell you when you're older'."

Tonks felt herself blanch and went to interject.

"Lets save questions for the end shall we? I'm not done yet. Second year. Another dodgy professor is hired – Lockhart. Enough said there. A 1000 year old basilisk is crawling around the pipes nearly killing people and Harry, of course, is blamed for the bulk of the year for being the Heir of Slytherin. Does he make a point of correcting the students and stopping the bullying? Does anyone? No. Does Lucius Malfoy face any form of retribution for letting a diary enchanted with the memories and, to be honest, vindictive murderous tendencies of the Dark Lord enter the school? No. Who ends up saving Ginny, stopping Lockhart obliviate him and defeats a teenage version of said Dark Load while nearly dying in the process again? Harry. You know, despite the significant amount of research I've put in since then I still have no idea of a diary could possess someone and act in that way".

"Third year – Sirius Black. Fair enough he couldn't stop the Dementors being present but when Sirius was captured then, shouldn't being Head of the Wizengamot and Supreme Mugwump be enough to have Sirius stand trial given there were 5 witnesses, 1 unwilling one to be fair, that Pettigrew was free and therefore have him declared innocent? On that note...he could have done the same thing in November 1981 after Harry's parents were murdered and Sirius confronted Pettigrew but he was captured and shipped straight off to Azkaban without a trial from what I could see when I was researching Sirius when we thought he was a murderer."

"Wait WHAT - "

"Not done yet! Fourth year. Harry is entered in the Tri-Wizard Tournament at 14. Another dodgy defense teacher in the form of Barty Crouch Junior replaces Moody who is apparently a long-standing friend of Dumbledore yet Dumbledore doesn't even notice? Lets be clear, that whole year and Tournament was a shit-show from start to finish between a gambling addict helping run the tournament, an ex Death Eater being one of the judges and all the cheating that went on with the other contestants. Then right at the very end Harry disappears into the night – I'd never been so worried – then comes back hours later with the corpse of Cedric Diggory, You-Know-Who is back and Harry gets left alone with Barty Jr afterwards before Crouch gets a Kiss from a Dementor thats conveniently floating around for Fudges protection. Harry isn't given a chance to testify properly which again surely Dumbledore should be able to wrangle given his 700 titles in the community and then Harry gets shipped back to the Dursleys with barely any explanation of what's been going on and we were all banned from speaking to him and told to ignore the bullying spreading from the school to all of Great Britain."

"We don't like the Dursleys do we?"

"No...Tonks I'm fairly certain they are...abusive. Harry doesn't talk about it much to me but he was devastated when he found out he couldn't live with Sirius and he always comes back to school in clothes that are three times his size and he's always so gaunt and takes weeks to get back to a healthy weight. Fred and George told me when they went to get him from their house in 2nd year he had...bars on his window and was locked in his room. Even if Sirius couldn't theres dozens of families that would take him in, mine included I'd say, and surely there are protections other than Blood Wards that would suffice without having to be around those rotten people."

"Merlins hairy ball sack. This is a mess."

"Even now, it seems like Dumbledore is avoiding him like he's got the plague but I've just got this horrible feeling that all these horrible things Harry has gone through are not really a conincidence. I mean one or two of them maybe, but when you put them all together it's really very….damning. But who's going to believe us? I mean – its Albus Dumbledore."

Hermione turned to Tonks whos heart broke a little to see her eyes swimming with tears. She stood up quickly and wrapped the younger witch in a hug and let her cry.

"God sweets, no wonder you're a bundle of nerves." Hermione sobbed in response. "Shhh its alright. I've got you, we'll fix this, okay?"

"How?" she felt Hermione sniffle into her neck.

"Well, you've got the brightest witch of her age paired with the brave, unstoppable and colorful Auror Tonks behind her, likely having a perve - but still dedicated to the task at hand, yeah?" She smiled at Hermione's little giggle.

"How are you handling this all so fine?" Hermione asked suddenly, pulling her head out of Tonks' shoulder to look her in the eye. "You do believe me don't you?"

"Of course I do! Of course I do love. I think I know you well enough to know to have absolute faith in your powers of deduction and I feel a migraine coming on but freaking out wont fix anything now will it? What we need is a plan. We need to sit down, look at all the evidence and not rush into anything."

"Oh Merlin, I'm so relieve to hear you say that. The boys hate plans. It's a miracle where even alive" Hermione gasped with relief.

"Auror, remember? I haven't lived this long by rushing off into potential dangerous situations half cocked. Constant Vigilance! Right. Now, I need you to write down all the worrying things you can think of – no, no you don't need to start this second! Okay. Write it down later and I'm going to do some digging myself and put some feelers out and we can go from there." Tonks said firmly.

"I shouldn't tell anyone about this, should I?" Hermione asked sadly. Tonks sighed.

"It's probably safest to keep it between us for now. I mean, who would you want to tell?"

"I usually tell the boys everything but...Ron has a habit of speaking before he thinks which might make keeping it quiet difficult and Harry – I don't know if he needs to be worrying about this on top of everything else..." she trailed off.

"Well I trust your judgment Hermione" Tonks replied sincerely. "But maybe keeping everything to ourselves for now might be the safest bet until we have some hard evidence."

"You're right, of course. And what about….us. Whatever this is. I thinks it would cause problems as well now wouldn't it?" Tonks felt a lump in her through suddenly, and stiffened.

"Oh! Uh, yes of course. I understand. We can just pretend the whole thing never happened and focus on the task at hand then, thats fine. Totally cool. Its okay really, a-okay and - " Hermione cut her off with a kiss.

"God Tonks I'm sorry! That's not what I meant you silly witch! I don't know what this" - she waved between the two of them - "Is but I don't want it to stop I just thought we needed to keep it quiet for now. Right?" she asked, a concerned look on her face as Tonks exhaled with relief.

"Merlin! You nearly gave me a heart attack! This has been a much more enjoyable but stressful afternoon than I anticipated. And by the way 'this', in my opinion anyway, is just two single, of-age witches who find each other highly attractive in heart, body and mind and want to spend time together. As a couple. In secret. So they aren't murdered by evil dark wizards or possibly their closest family and friends."

Hermione laughed and raised an eyebrow at her while Tonks beamed happily in response.

"Good! So you agree then! Now, lets stay here and make out for a bit until I have to get you home so you can protect the boys from further cleaning mishaps."

"Sounds like our best plan yet" Hermione grinned.

Both witches found the next hour very devoid of stress.

Chapter Text

Hermione found herself knocking on the door to her boys bedroom a few hours later after being apparated back to the house with Tonks – she had pulled her into an alley and kissed until she was breathless before Tonks had announced that she would be back later and disapparated again. Hearing Harry grunt opened the door and slipped inside. She felt a pang in her chest at his miserable, exhausted expression as he sat on the bed and stared at the wall.

"Hi Harry"

"Oh, hi Hermione" he mumbled.

"Harry, are you alright? I haven't had much of a chance to check in with you recently and I know you have a lot on your mind." He sighed.

"I'm fine, Hermione." It was her turn to sigh now.

"Shove over" - she nudged him and squeezed on the bed next to him. "I got you a treacle tart when I was out earlier with Tonks. I know they're you're favorite."

"You didn't have to do that Hermione" he mumbled but she smiled internally at the flicker of happiness in his eyes as she handed it over.

"I know, but I wanted to. Harry….I know that things are hard right now with the trial and the newspapers slandering you and the Ministry and...well everything really. But I just wanted you to know that I really do care about you. We're going to get through this, you know. Together." she said quietly.

"I just wish I knew what was going on" Harry grumbled as he took a bite of the tart and offered her a piece. She shook her head politely.

"I know. So do I. Just try to focus on what we can do, alright? We've researched the trial and I'm certain you can explain yourself. What everyone in the Ministry and the Daily Prophet is saying doesn't matter and I think we both know they will change their tune eventually. In the mean time if anyone has anything to say to your face you know I'll be there to counter their argument."

"And Ron will be their to hex them" Harry smiled to himself, laughing at Hermione's scowl.

"Well he better not, we know that won't help anything. Eat your tart Harry." She watched carefully as he took another few big bites. "Where is Ron anyway?"

"Mrs Weasley caught him trying to listen in on an Order Meeting with the extendable ears with the twins and Ginny so she has them all doing cleaning jobs again. She said I looked tired and sent me upstairs for an early night."

"Still having trouble sleeping?" she asked sympathetically. He shrugged.

"I was. I'm feeling more relaxed now though" he yawned and stretched.

"Well you should try to get some rest while you can then" she smiled and stood up as he yawned again and laid across the bed. "Goodnight Harry" she smiled fondly as he shut his eyes.

"Night 'Mione" he mumbled.

She slipped out of the bedroom and shut the door quietly only to bump into Mad Eye Moody.

"Oh! Hello Professor Moody. How are you?"

"None of that lass, I was never really your Professor was I? Moody will do. Seen young Harry?"

"Um, yes. He's having a lie down." He looked her up and down suspiciously, his magical eye whirring.

"With assistance?" he drawled. Hermione flushed.

"I'm not sure what you mean Pro – Mr Moody."

"Well there's half empty flasks in your pocket labelled 'calming draught' and 'dreamless sleep'."

"He needed to sleep! I'm not allowed to do spells out of school but there's no rules on potions" she replied, getting defensive.

"How'd you get him to take them?"

"Erm. I put them in his treacle tart. Its his favorite, I think he could be on death's door and still inhale one." To her surprise Moody laughed loudly.

"Fair enough, your secrets safe with me. Don't be doing that too often, mind you. They can get addictive."

"I know. I'll be careful sir."

"Good, lass. Don't take it personally if I start checking any food you give me." With another chuckle he turned and walked back down the hallway. Hermione smiled and retreated to her room. She had a long list of suspicious activities to write-up.

Tonks apparated back to Grimmauld Place around 4am and quietly slipped up to her room, somewhat disappinted she managed to make the trip up to her room and not fall over anything without any witnesses. She was, however, surprised to find Hermione asleep at her desk next to her pensive – a rare and expensive 21st birthday present from her mother and laundered clothes she had yet to put away - head on her arms, drooling slightly. She smiled as she watched the steady rise and fall of her back as she slept and rather than waking her, carefully stepped over the parchment and clothes littering her floor and pushed open her window, sitting astride it like a broom. Pulling a cigarette out from behind her ear she quickly rubbed her index finger and thumb together to produce a flame to light it and inhaled deeply, leaning against the wall.

What a fucking day she sighed with an exhale, smoke tickling her nose and making her eyes water as it drifted out the window. She took another deep drag of the cigarette and glanced back again at the young witch before her, still asleep, and smiled. Totally worth it though.

After Hermione's announcement of the strange happenings with Dumbledore she had been busy. Her first stop had been Diagon Alley where she had purchased some books before heading to Ottery St Catchpole to visit with old Xeno Lovegood. Several hours of some fruitful discussion on the potential for some accurate reporting to be done should the need arise, mixed with some confusing discussions about gum disease controversies and imaginary creatures had hopefully resulted in a potential – though admittedly loopy – ally. At least he swore a vow. Her last stop had been back at Diagon Alley to take a stroll down Knockturn Alley well after the respectable people had gone to bed, where she invested in some definitely illegal items. If she was going to commit to some vigilante action she might as well be ready. She chuckled quietly as her snoozing guest snorted a little in her sleep before sitting up and wearily looking around. She caught sight of the bemused pink-haired witch finishing her cigarette in the window sill and glanced at her sheepishly.

"Morning Tonks."

"Morning Hermione" she grinned. "What brings you to my lair this fine morning?"

"Oh!" Seeming much more awake Hermione stretched and stood up, presenting Tonks with a muggle exercise book that seemed mostly full of her neat script. "This is the concerns I had about Dumbledore for us to look into."

"Circes tits! Hermione I didn't need it the second I walked through the door! This has to be 60 pages long, have you slept?" she asked, flipping though the book and taking note of the admittedly highly organised list of transgressions. To her amusement, there were several diagrams and flow charts among the text.

"I might have gotten a bit carried away..." Hermione trailed off guiltily. "After I doped Harry and saw how miserable he was I just wanted to….get it out of my brain."

"Please elaborate."

"Oh, it's all in there! If you have any questions about anything I've written I can add to it I suppose but it should be fairly straight forward. I'd like to think it's quite objective, I mean he did defeat Grindelwald so he can't be all bad, it's all indexed at the front and -"

"I meant elaborate on the doping, sweets. I'm sure your textbook is very informative and all-inclusive."

"Ah. Well he hasn't been sleeping very well so I put some dreamless sleep and calming draught in his treacle tart. Moody caught me afterwards. He seemed oddly impressed." Tonks snorted and stubbed out her cigarette.

"Can't get much past old Mad Eye alright. Well, I have much to tell you but I'm making an executive order that you must sleep first. Off to bed with you then."

"Wait! I'm awake now, can't you just tell me?" Hermione whined.

"Nope. Come on, off to bed. I can tuck you in if you want."

"Please?" Tonks nearly faltered at the puppy dog eyes but put her hand in front of her face and shielded her eyes.

"Ah! Don't look at me like that with your pretty eyes and your begging or I'll never let you leave the bedroom. Off you go" she chuckled. Hermione sighed and stepped towards the door before turning back to Tonks and pressed her lips against the pulse point on Tonks' neck.

"Night then" she grumbled. Tonks removed her hand from her own eyes to catch a glimpse of Hermione's eyes sparkling with mischief and patted her on the bum as she turned her towards the door.

"Out!" she demanded mockingly. "Come find me when you've had a few hours sleep"

0x0x0

Hermione slipped into her and Ginny's room and stripped off, climbing into bed and expected herself to not be able to sleep at all with all the thoughts on Tonks and Dumbledore racing through her mind but to her surprise as soon as she shut her eyes she felt sleep wash over her.

She awoke with a start several hours later feeling a lot more refreshed than she had in months and stretchedd before remembering that she had knowledge to gain. Leaping out of bed she quickly showered and changed before dashing downstairs. Quietly poking a head into the kitchen she smiled to see the kitchen was empty and poured herself a coffee and grabbed an apple to munch on before she felt warm arms wrap around her waist and a nibble on her neck.

"Breakfast is on the bench, love" Hermione giggled, turning to face a beaming auror. "Blue hair today?"

"Yep, thought I was due for a change. Mmm thanks for the coffee!" Tonks grinned, snatching the mug out of Hermione's hand and taking a swig.

"Hey! Get your own!"

"Ah, but I know yours doesn't have mind altering chemicals in it, other than caffeine of course" Tonks replied with a wink. "And coffee always tastes better when someone else makes it, it's a rule."

"Is it just?" Hermione offered with a raised eyebrow and smiled when Tonks waved her wand and coffee, sugar, milk and water quickly made their way into a cup, followed by a spoon which stirred it gently.

"Yup. Here you go" Tonks grinned, handing the fresh mug to Hermione. "I saw Harry on my way down the stairs, he's looking very well rested this morning."

"Thanks goodness! Where is everyone else?" Hermione asked curiously. "I've never seen the house this empty."

"Mad Eye is on shift, Arthur is at work, Remus has taken off for the weekend to get his Wolfsbane potion ingredients. Molly has ducked out to Diagon Alley to get the school supplies and Fred and George have snuck out while the house is devoid of adults – except me of course and I hardly count. Ron and Ginny are playing wizarding chess and Ginny is loosing horribly and I suggested Harry go keep Sirius company for a bit. So you know what that means?" Tonks offered, raising her eyebrows suggestively.

"You can tell me all the things you learnt last night?"

"Well, I was going to suggest I ward the door to the kitchen and have my wicked way with you on the counter but I suppose thats probably a more responsible thing to do." Tonks grinned wolfishly at Hermione's pink cheeks. "Heh. Only joking love. I mean, I'd love to have my wicked way with you in every room in the house, preferably twice, but you're in the driving seat with that aspect of our relationship. I promise not to rush you."

"Thanks Tonks" Hermione replied, still blushing, and wrapped her arms around the older witch and kissed her deeply for a moment.

"Well don't keep doing that now or I wont be able to help myself. Now, at the risk of perverting your innocence, lets duck into my room so we can talk." Hermione beamed happily and followed her up the stairs into the bedroom and took a seat on the desk.

"Mind if I smoke? Helps me think" Tonks asked, opening the window.

"Depends. Won't kill you will it?"

"No sooner than anything else" Tonks snorted. "You can cast a few charms on them and theres a potion I can take that voids any, shall we say, carcinogenic qualities. Not the addictive ones though. I just find it relaxing to be honest. Most of the squad smokes, particularly on stakeouts. Keeps you awake. Pity it's viewed as such a bad habit."

"Well you'll get no judgement from me. If anything it adds to your big bad auror image" Hermione laughed.

"Excellent. Just don't tell my mum. Or Ron's mum. Or Professor McGonnogall…." Tonks started listing names on her fingers and Hermione snorted.

"How about I just don't tell anyone, Tonks. We can add it to our ongoing list of secrets."

"Probably easiest, good call. Right, let's get to it. First things first – I met with Xenophillius Lovegood yesterday. I think his daughter is at school with you, year below you maybe?"

"That...strange blonde girl who is always talking about imaginary creatures? Luna? She's one of Ginny's friends."

"That's the one! She's sweet. Bit like her old man from what I can gather – if you can look past the weird ramblings there's a heart of gold. Very loyal and clever. Xeno is good friends with my folks, I used to go for some very strange barbeques at their house. Now Xeno runs the Quibbler, and he's always had a problem with Dumbleore since Pandora, his deceased wife – worked with the Unspeakables – had a raging argument with him one day about 20 years ago according to mum. I don't know the details but he's trustworthy and he runs something capable of producing news. We both know the Wireless and the Prophet are in Fudges pocket so it might come in handy at some point."

"You certainly didn't waste any time! Right. I'll have a think about that one. Keep talking." Hermione replied and started to pace and Tonks grinned.

"You're very cute when you pace around like that. Next! I have some books for you. Occlumency. Heard of it?" She grinned wider as Hermione's eyes lit up and the pacing increased. Tonks decided to call it, in her head, the 'mad scientist look'.

"Only in passing."

"Okay. Occlumency is basically a way of protecting your thoughts from Legilliemency. People who practice Legillimency can skim through your thoughts and read your mind." Hermione paused her pacing and paled.

"People can read minds!?"

"Yup. It's illegal but you send a lot of time with two people who are Master Legillimens who can probably get away with it, and given what we are discussing its best to be able to protect your mind. I had to learn the basics for Auror training and Mum taught me some but I will be brushing up too. In the mean time avoid making eye contact."

"Dumbledore! And... Snape!"

"Well done sweets. Yucky feeling isn't it, thinking about it?" Hermione nodded with a look of disgust as Tonks grimaced.

"So learn Occlumency. If we are going to bring anyone else in on this they need to learn it as well. Now, last but not least! Another gift. Three actually, one for you and one each for the boys. I can get more too" Tonks rumaged through her desk drawer and pulled out a box and schooled her features as Hermione opened it. Hermione's jaw dropped open in shock.

"Unregistered wands?! This is illegal! Are you mental?!"

"Yes, yes and...possibly. Look – I trust you, yeah? I need you to trust me on this. Theres a war coming. I wont have you unprotected. We might be working behind the scenes here but being best friends with the Boy Who Lived plus You-Know-Who coming back means you are in danger no matter how sneaky you and I are. Keep it a secret but it's always good to have a backup, and give your boys theirs when you think they are ready. I was going to get you some throwing knives but thought you might not really be into that. Got you some invisible hidden holsters to match though!"

"Well. Goodness, this is a lot to take in, I - I don't even really know what to...wait. Throwing knives?" Tonks' eyebrows raised in surprise at Hermione's excited face.

"Huh. Didn't think you'd go for that at all. Well, if its knives my girl wants its knives she shall get!" Tonks announced cheerfully.

"Where did you learn to throw knives? I didn't realise that was a part of Auror training."

"It's not. Its part of Black training. All the Black women are trained extensively in dueling, mêlée combat and being mad as hatters. Mum kept the tradition going despite being burnt off the tapestry."

"Interesting. Does Sirius know how to throw knives?"

"Nah it was just for the women. I believe the men learnt how to find proper pureblooded wives and bed them, judging by how Sirius is. He'd be right up on everything else though." Hermione snorted.

"He is very...charismatic isn't he. Now that he isn't all smelly and half mad from Azkaban."

"Yeah the poor bastard is dying to get laid. Bit tricky if you are a wanted criminal though, even if you are the Head of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black" Tonks drawled.

"Now, back to the wands..." Hermione trailed off.

"Look, I know it's a risk having one but please take it. Its more of a risk not having it, really. I need you safe, and you need to be safe to keep the boys safe. But mostly me, I can't bear the thought of anything happening to any of you" Tonks pleaded, making her eyes comically large noticing Hermione's continued hesitance as she glanced at the wands in concern.

"Oh! I know! You'll be able to practice magic out of school! You can learn ahead even more!" she beamed as Hermione's 'mad scientist' look suddenly returned with a vengeance before she looked at Tonks' amused face and tried to regain some dignity.

"Well...I suppose it can't hurt to keep one on me. For safety, of course."

"Of course" Tonks replied, trying not to laugh. "Give them a try to see which one works best for you."

After deciding on a yew wand with unicorn hair that worked best for her, though not as well as her normal wand, she set aside the other two for the boys to have and Tonks smiled happily as her eyes lit up and she cast a few spells with it. Pulling the younger witch in to a warm embrace she nuzzled into her neck.

"Thank you for taking it, sweets. It makes me feel so much better."

"I'm glad. You're right of course, safety Is going to be the most important thing. If we are going to tackle You-Know-Who, and anyone else I suppose, we need to learn how to defend ourselves." Hermione whispered, her chin rested on top of Tonks' head. "Maybe you need to teach me more than just throwing knives."

"Sweets, I can teach you all sorts of wonderful things" Tonks replied, lifting her head to offer a saucy smile.

"Git, I'm sure you could. That's not what I meant though. I mean you're an Auror, and a Black. Maybe you could teach me some of your training. The boys too."

"Hmm. Thats an interesting thought. You know, I bet Sirius would get on board with that as well. Might keep him busy too. I could talk to Remus and Mad Eye….I'm sure lots of people would be happy to train you all up."

"Yes but then we would need to tell them about the wands if they were going to practice magic, not just me….maybe the rest of it though?"

"Good thinking. That's why you're the brains behind this operation. Let me talk to Sirius. He and I are probably the best trained for any fighting that doesn't involve a wand and the two of us could do plenty and still keep the magic side of things a secret between us two for now. Might keep Molly off our back as well. We can sell it as a fitness regime."

"Brilliant. What else should we get up to?"

"Well I had a flick through that bloody Dumbledore textbook you gave me. One of the easiest things to deal with should be all that Purebled Heir crap. I can't believe Harry doesn't know about the Potter Scion stuff. He should have other properties than the wreck at Godrics Hollow. And duties. And money! The Potters were loaded from what I heard. I think he needs a trip to Gringotts and to ask a few pertinent questions there. I mean, I can see why Dumbledore maybe didnt want all that to go to his head but he's been through more than most adults. Plus if Dumbledore is his magical guardian and using that to manipulate him in any way then it might be good to have a degree of separation. If Harry seems surprised by the result all the better, really. The trick will be making it happen."

"Hmmm. Tell me, do the Gobins care much for the Ministry and their rules?" Hermione asked thoughtfully.

"Not in the slightest. They only care for gold. Where are you going with this love?"

"What if….what if we took it a step further? Harry is currently parent-less. Sirius is his godfather. Sirius has indicated he would be happy to have Harry live with him but it hasn't been able to happen we assume because of Dumbledore. If we could find a way to get Sirius into the bank with Harry we could have Sirius formally adopt him, thus distancing him from Dumbledore as he would no longer be in need of a magical guardian, he would get to discover all the 'Pureblood Heir crap', as you so eloquently put it, AND he wouldn't need to go back to the Dursleys because it would void the whole dubious blood ward thing."

"Oohh. Interesting."

"Isnt it?" Hermione asked, pleased. "Its nice to have someone to scheme with. I'm enjoying it immensely."

"That's the way love. One must enjoy life where they can. I'm with you in theory but how do we get Sirius Black into Gringotts firstly without him getting arrested and secondly without Dumbledore catching wind and stopping us?"

"We'd need to clue Sirius in to what we are doing. He seems a little off Dumbledore at the moment anyway for keeping things from Harry and being stuck in the house. Perhaps its time to expand our little circle of trust, or at the least plant some seeds of doubt regarding Dumbledore like you've done with Mr Lovegood. But that doesn't solve our problem of getting him to the bank. Are we on good terms with anyone who's on good terms with the Goblins?"

"Bill? I hear Fleur Delacour is working with Gringotts as well and she's an inducted member. That said, anyone can be on good terms with the Goblins if they have the gold."

"Well they are some interesting leads. Let's talk to Sirius and see if he is interested in undermining Dumbledores authority on this one. Being a Maurader, something tells me it wont be an issue."

"Deal. I'll pull him aside later today if you want. Sweets, as much as I am enjoying all the scheming its making my brain hurt. Lets take a break shall we?"

Hermione's brief look of disappointment ceased when she stopped pacing and caught a glimpse of the carnal grin on Tonks' face before being pushed onto the bed. Tonks climbed on top of her and straddled her waist and kissed her neck.

"Hermione Granger you are bloody hot when you're plotting, has anyone ever told you that?"

"No, actually, you're the first. The boys usually just look alarmed" Hermione breathed before groaning quietly as she felt a nibble on her ear. "Merlin that feels good."

Tonks nearly yelped with surprise when she felt firm hands tangle in her hair and pull their faces together. She found herself locked in a gaze with the younger witch, staring hypotized as her pupils dilated. Pulled into a deep kiss, she moaned herself when Hermione suddenly grasped her hands and reversed their position and pinned her arms above her head.

"Don't ever change, will you Tonks?" Hermione murmured in her ear and she shuddered.

"I won't, promise" she gasped out as Hermione tenatively latched onto her neck with her teeth.

Their lips met again and Tonks found herself lost, wrenching her hands out and tangled desperately in Hermione's hair and clothes, pulling them flush against each other. She could feel her own heat building between her legs and smell the younger witches arousal.

Both witches jumped and turned their heads towards the door simultaneously when they heard a knock on her door. Hermione froze.

"Bed or closet?" Tonks whispered, and prodded Hermione in the shoulder to bring her back to Earth.

"Pardon? Oh, right! Um, bed it is!" She quickly climbed off Tonks and ducked underneath the bed. Tonks threw a quick glance to the mirror and straightened her clothes and hair before flinging her door open.

"Wotcher, Mrs Weasley. How was Diagon Alley?"

"Fine thank you dear. Have you seen Hermione? I have her school things and Harry, Ginny and Ron haven't seen her. Actually they haven't seen the twins either." Mrs Weasley frowned, staring into Tonks' messy bedroom and taking a step in.

"Last I saw Hermione she was in the study doing a bit of reading but that was a while ago. The twins took off about twenty seconds after you left."

"They WHAT?!" Mrs Weasley screeched before storming down the hallway back towards their bedroom. "I'll have their hides!"

Tonks grinned and closed her bedroom door, warding it again.

"Snitch" she heard a giggle under the bed.

"Hey now! It was them or you. At least she expects mischief from them but she looked like she wanted to charge in and tidy my room. I doubt we'd have been able to explain you, flushed and wanton, hiding under my bed." She reached down and pulled Hermione to her feet, tucking disheveled bushy hair behind her ear.

"That's fair enough then I suppose" Hermione laughed. "I guess I should go and wrestle a dragon from behind the dining room chairs or chip poisonous mould or something" she grumbled.

"Unlucky" Tonks sympathised, pulling her into a chaste kiss. "I'll pop out and do a few more things but I'll find you later, yeah?"

"It's a date. Could you grab me another treacle tart for next time Harry is looking like he wants to hit someone?" After a nod, Hermione beamed and turned to leave, shaking her head as she felt a tap on the behind from the Auror.

"Off with you then, I'll see you soon love."

0x0x0

Tonks left the room a few minutes after Hermione and wandered up to the third floor, hoping to catch a glance of her cousin and grinning widely when she found herself lucky.

"Wotcher, Sirius. Busy?" she greeted, grinning mischievously.

"That's a dangerous look on your face Miss Tonks" Sirius drawled. "But I used to wear a similar one myself on occasion, back in the good old days. I've always got time for you my dear."

"On that note, lets step into your room then shall we?"

"I used to say that quite a lot too, but alas. The life of a convicted criminal in hiding does prevent me getting up to no good ine bedrooms" Sirius sighed.

"Right, that's a bit creepy then. Anyways, I just wanted to discuss something in confidence with you, I've been a bit worried about Harry."

"I know, me too. It's killing me keeping him in the dark like this, I can see how much it's upsetting him" Sirius frowned.

"Well I've been thinking – hey! Don't look at me like that I have thoughts sometimes too, you know! As I was saying, I've been thinking. Why does Harry have to keep staying with his rotten relatives who he clearly hates?"

"Dumbledore thinks it's the safest place for him. Some rubbish about blood wards."

"Well I think that blood wards are about on par with a fidelius charm like you have here, don't you? I mean, at least he hasn't had to fend off dementors while he has been here."

"I've always thought so" Sirius scowled. "I'd have him move in here in a heartbeat if I could."

"So why can't you?" Tonks pressed.

"I've asked, believe me!"

"So stop bloody asking then! Make it happen!" Tonks grinned. "Wheres that Maurauder spirit?"

"Laying dormant" Sirius scowled. "What are you inferring, Tonks?"

"I'm not inferring anything I think I'm being quite direct, Sirius. Dumbledore shouldn't have him stashed away in the dark with his crappy relatives. He's your godson. To be frank, I find Dumbledore insisting on it a bit...sus. The whole thing is sus." Sirius' eyes widened in surprise.

"What do you mean?"

"Look. I feel like we are both a bit...disturbed...shall we say at Dumbleore making that call. Agreed?" Sirius nodded. "I'm going to be blunt here because I've been giving this some thought." Well, technically my brilliant little witch has given this some thought and I'm paraphrasing but that's neither here nor there. "I find it strange, firstly, that you were shipped off to Akaban in '81 without even a trial given Dumbledores positon on the Wizengamot and, at the time, his good standing with the Ministry in general. We all know a simple spell that could have been done on your wand to prove you didn't cast Pettigrews blasting hex. Hell, he could have pushed for a veritaserum trial but didn't. Secondly, I find it odd that after you first met Harry in the Shack and that whole fiasco that Hermione, Ron, Harry, Lupin and even Snape could have testified to Pettigrew being there and you being innocent but instead you were nearly given the Kiss, again without a trial. And thirdly, you've gone out of your way to move Phoenix HQ here and you've been out of Azkaban for a fair chunk of time but instead of Dumbledore doing anything to clear your name he has us all stalking Harry but banned from telling him anything at his crappy relatives and then even when he gets here he is kept from knowing anything. Hell, we are all being kept from knowing whats going on really. I'm getting bloody sick of sitting in the Department of Mysteries, that's for sure. I joined the Order to fight the bad guys but it doesn't feel like we are doing anything other than sitting around and waiting for Snape to give us reports followed by more sitting around."

Tonks finished her spiel and felt gratified to see Sirius had paled considerably.

"Merlin, Tonks. When you put it like that…its a bit disturbing isn't it?"

Sirius got up and began to pace around. Tonks mused there had been a lot of that happening of late.

"What do you think we should do? Why is he doing this?"

"Well, I think its time for the rebellious Padfoot to make a comeback. We might not be able to tell Harry anything, because we don't bloody know whats even going on, but you can certainly save Harry from the Dursleys. I can tell you what I would do, and that would be to have a chat to Bill when you see him next and have him arrange an appointment at Gringotts for you on the sly. We both know the goblins wont care if you throw a bit of coin at them. They dont even have the need or authority to let anyone at the Ministry know. The only one that would know would be Dumbledore and probably Minerva given she's his Head of House and would see the updated parental records at Hogwarts. I'd see if you could adopt Harry. That will void the blood ward at the very least and mean he can't be sent back to Little Whinging."

"A blood adoption! Dumbedore will be furious" Sirius said, grinning suddenly.

"He would be. So feign ignorance, tell him you wanted to organise it as a surprise for Harry and you were trying to do something good for the poor kid. He won't be able to do anything until it's too late if you keep it quiet."

"That's bloody brilliant Tonks, thankyou!" he said, suddenly pulling her into a hug before drawing her back. "That will help Harry, but it doesn't explain why he's doing this. Do you think he is trying to keep Harry away from me?" Tonks shrugged hesitantly.

"Sirius I...look. At the risk of having a mutiny on our hands do you trust Dumbledore?"

"I...I don't know anymore." Sirius said sadly, sincerely.

"Have a think about it. When you have made up your mind come find me and we will do some sleuthing. And do us all a bloody favor and keep those occlumency shields up, yeah?"

"Not a problem, Tonks."

"One more thing. I thinks it's about time we got the sprogs trained up, don't you? I know we can't teach them magic and you must be a little rusty but some of the Black mêlée stuff would be good for them I reckon. It's going to be hard to keep an eye on them at school and I know you worry about Harry. Molly will crack it but we can word it cleverly. An exercise gig for them all or something."

"Excuse you, I am not rusty! There's abs of steel under this manly chest hair."

"Gross. But is that a yes?"

"It's a yes. I'll clear out one of the basements and sort Molly out tonight. I am the man of the house after all, it's about time I started acting like it."

Tonks walked out of the room to leave Sirius to his thoughts, a grim smile on her face. We'll nail that old coot yet.

0x0x0

Hermione found herself groaning at her sore muscles in the shower as she willed them to not hurt. It had been a few weeks and evenings of pure hell under the Black Fitness Program, as Sirius had called it, and surprisingly Molly had been on board given the house was almost respectable. Harry had jumped at the chance, grim determination in his eyes every time she saw him try not to wince when he was ordered to do more push ups. She felt the same fire in her, even if the activities had left little time for plotting. Ron had been less than impressed but tagged along half-heartedly. The twins, to her surprise, had been quite enthusiastic as had Ginny and they were all feeling the pain. Every morning Sirius flung their bedroom doors open with reckless abandon at 6am and excitedly shouted at them all to get dressed and meet him downstairs. They would all swear at him and tell him to bugger off then stumble, half asleep down the three flights to get to the basement – Hermione and the twins after detouring to the kitchen for coffee – and would then be put through 3 hous of push ups, sit ups and sparring, before crawling back up them to be force-fed by Molly. The process would then be repeated after dinner.

Tonks, to her word, had presented Hermione with a pair of shiny daggers and had taken it upon herself to pull Hermione aside for an hour or two every night she wasnt working when they could get away and teach her a variety of defensive and offensive spells and give instruction on how to use the daggers correctly (using blunt ones), and throw them correctly using her new pair. Despite the constant pain she was in she felt quite accomplished. They had decidedly ended each lesson with sparring given that after a while of being wrapped around each other on the floor they were unable to resist some passionate make out sessions and fooling around and often found themselves unable to continue with anything remotely productive. She felt both of them found the incentive system for Hermione managing to land a good hit on the Auror quite gratifying. To their mutual pleasure, she had grasped the basics of occlumency quite quickly and had taken it upon herself to lend he books to Harry who thanked her politely and promised to read them.

Munching on muesli after her post-workout shower she mused at Harry who was sitting at the table. He was acting strangely, in that he was clearly exhausted but trying to hide something that clearly filled him with glee. She eyed Sirius as he strolled happily into the kitchen a short while later and poured himself a glass of pumpkin juice and offered his godson a wink. Finishing breakfast she followed Harry into the hallway and pulled him quickly into the empty sitting room.

"Whats up Harry? You seem cheerful" she offered, trying to hide her suspicion.

"Nothing Hermione! Why do you ask?" She crossed her arms, raised an eyebrow at him in response and waited silently for him to crumble. Five, four, three, two…

"Okay look….promise not to be mad?" Hermione grinned internally.

"Okay. I promise. Whats going on." She schooled her features.

"Well. Yesterday Sirius got me a late birthday present. Now remember, you promised not to be mad! So he woke me up in the middle of the night and we flooed to Gringotts. He's formally adopted me."

"Oh Harry! That's wonderful, congratulations! Why the big secret though?" she asked, feigning ignorance and pulling him into a hug.

"Sirius didn't want Dubledore to know, we both know Dumbledore wants me at the Dursleys. He figured a lecture is coming and he's trying to delay it as long as possible. I have to say, I thought you'd be furious."

"So because you have a blood adoption that voids the blood wards and means you wont have to go back to live with them any more?" she asked excitedly.

"Yep! Exactly right!"

"Well I think that's wonderful Harry. I know you have never wanted to discuss it but I know they didn't treat you very well. I'm sure you'll be perfectly safe here, I don't think Dumbledore made a very wise choice trying to keep you away from him anyway." Harry raised his eyebrows in surprise.

"Well that's an interesting attitude towards an authority figure" he teased. "Tonks must be rubbing off on you." Hermione blanched.

"Wha – Tonks and I – what?"

"Relax Hermione!" He laughed. "I've seen the looks you've been giving each other when you think no one is looking, and I saw her dragging you down to the basement the other night when I got up to get a drink. I haven't said anything to anyone. I don't think anyone else knows. I mean, I think its great, so long as you're happy" he smiled.

Hermione felt a rush of affection and pulled him into a hug.

"Thanks Harry. I really am very happy" she whispered.

"Good, after everything you have done for me over the years you deserve it" he said sincerely and Hermione blinked back tears before suddenly giving him a hard look.

"Have you read that Occlumency book I gave you yet?" she asked firmly.

"Erm..." Harry trailed off, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.

"Harry! Look, I have a lot to tell you about more than just Tonks. But you need to read it and get the basics down first okay?"

"What? Why can't you tell me now!" Harry asked insistently, suddenly looking quite agitated.

"Don't get angry! Look, I know you don't like being left in the dark but Occlumency is to protect your mind Harry, some people can read your thoughts. I think it will help stop your scar hurting as well...it makes sense you have a connection to You-Know-Who, and that should stop it, okay? I'll help you practice!" she rushed out, keen to avoid the infamous Potter temper. Harry looked at her, revolted.

"People can read my thoughts? Voldemort can read my thoughts?"

"Oh honestly Harry! Did you even open the book?" Hermione scowled.

"Okay no. But I will now, I promise!" he replied before backing out of the room. "I'll see you later!" he cried, rushing off.

Mumbling under her breath about 'boys' she stomped out of the sitting room only to see Tonks standing there, tousled pink hair, dark rings under her eyes and her standard Auror uniform of a long leather coat, black cargo pants and Doc Martens waggling her eyebrows at her. With a wicked grin, she shoved Hermione back into the sitting room and smirked at her. Hermione felt dampness between her thighs and flushed suddenly.

"Well well well! I come home after a long shift of sitting around doing nothing, risking my very life to guard the Ministry for reasons I don't understand and come home only to see my girlfriend sneaking out of rooms with the famous Harry Potter! Anything I should be worried about, sweets?" she asked, frowning playfully with a mischievous glint in those violet eyes Hermione so often found herself lost in.

"Oh, definitely. I mean, he is the Boy Who Lived after all. I mean sure you are a big bad Auror but its hard to top someone who's thwarted the Dark Lord himself" she grinned, cocking an eyebrow.

"That's it! Come here you!" Tonks lunged towards her and tickled her, causing Hermione to gasp and plead for her to stop before finding herself shoved onto a small shelf, pushing the odds and ends to the side, and Tonks' hands caressing her under her shirt and kissing her passionately. Hermione quickly reciprocated, wrapping her legs around the older witch and tangled herself in pink hair, which was literally curling in her hands.

"Still want me to stop?" Tonks breathed into her ear and she shoved her hand into the waistband of Hermione's jeans, lightly fingering the soft skin underneath her navel and above her increasingly warm centre.

"No" Hermione gasped out.

"Well I would certainly like you to" came a dry voice from the doorway. The witches froze and Tonks stepped back suddenly, running her hand through her now red hair.

"Ah. Hello there, Minerva" Tonks mumbled sheepishly. "I was just, um..." she trailed off, waving her hand vaguely. Hermione put her head in her hands and felt a sudden desire for the floor to swallow her up.

"Honestly, Nymphadora Tonks. I swear every time I see you I age at least three years" Professor McGonogall scowled, stepping into the room and pulling the door closed behind her. "Miss Granger" she intoned with a nod to Hermione, one perfectly manicured eyebrow raised.

"Morning Professor" she whispered. The strict Professor eyed them both for a moment in silence as they guiltily looked at each other then at the floor.

"Ladies" she sighed "You are both intelligent witches. I'm sure you are both aware of the risk that this poses, both here in this house and more so in the wider community?" she asked looking between the two of them as the nodded.

"And you are determined to carry on in what I assume to be a secret relationship?" she asked sternly as they both nodded again, more surely this time. Hermione was unable to bite back a smile at the look of determination on Tonks' face.

"Very well" she sighed again. "Who am I to stand in the way of love in these trying times? It is, after all, more important now than ever to have a reason to keep fighting." Hermione looked at her in surprise.

"Well now, Miss Granger. There is no need to look at me like that. I might be getting on in the years but I was young once too" she stated drily.

"Now, Miss Tonks. If I hear that you have been corrupting or upset my best student rest assured we will be having words. Don't forget that your mother and I do still correspond frequently, despite the fact that our correspondence does not base solely on your misdemeanours at school now."

"Of course Minerva! I'd never do anything to hurt her or upset her!" Tonks cried passionately.

"Very well, settle down. Then perhaps if you intend to carry on, Miss Tonks, you will remember to cast a privacy charm?"

Tonks flushed and nodded again.

"Do remember. The last thing we need is Molly Weasley stumbling in the two of you in a compromising position and having a coronary. Miss Granger, I did come here with a purpose and that was to provide you with this. Congratulations, and I shall see you next week at Hogwarts. Good day."

She handed Hermione a letter and with another nod to them both strode purposefully from the room.

"God that's a bit of a mood killer isn't it?" Tonks whispered. Hermione snorted and nodded, tearing open the letter curiously.

"Oh! I'm a prefect!" she cried happily.

"Well congratulations then! Perhaps a celebratory smooch then and we can get out of here and try and obliviate each other of the mortification of the last ten minutes" Tonks replied. Hermione laughed and obliged happily in the kiss, wrapping her arms around the older witch, not keen to let her escape just yet.

"You seem on quite familiar terms with Professor McGonogall considering you were in Hufflepuff" Hermione remarked.

"Yeah I was a bit of a shit at school – teenage hormones and Black ancestry combined with the ability to transform into anyone I want meant I spent a fair bit of time in detention. Minerva took a bit of a special interest in me given she is a Master of Transfiguration. She's no less terrifying now I've left school though, particularly given she is so friendly with my mother."

"I can only imagine" Hermione giggled. "Before I forget! I meant to tell you earlier but you distracted me – oh stop looking at me like you want to eat me! Firstly Sirius adopted Harry, went off without a hitch. Dumbledore hasn't caught on yet but given he seems to be avoiding the place like the plague that seems reasonable. Also, Harry knows about us."

"Ha! Oh, right. Should we be worried?" Tonks asked inquiringly.

"I don't think so, but I lit a fire under him to get him to hurry up with the Occlumency."

"Cool, I'll take your word for it sweets. Lets get out of here before someone else walks in on us shall we? I need a snooze after that shift but I'll see you tonight for dinner."

"Deal" Hermione smiled.

0x0x0

Hermione was pleased to note that despite not being made a Prefect, Harry's good mood continued over the next few days to everyone's surprise but Hermione, Tonks and Sirius. She was also pleased to see he had read the Occlumency book and allowed Tonks to check his mental barriers which she deemed were quite impressive for a beginner, as were her own. They had agreed that Harry could be given a wand and filled in on some of what she and Tonks had been getting up to once they returned to Hogwarts. The physical lessons continued and Hermione found herself less sore as time went on and pleased with the layer of muscle she seemed to be developing, and how much Tonks seemed to be enjoying it. She found herself less able to reflect on anything, however, in the early hours of the morning before they were due to catch the train to Hogwarts.

"God you taste so fucking amazing" Tonks purred, lifting her head from between Hermione's legs and flopping onto the pillow next to her as they both struggled to catch their breath. "I could do that all day."

"I'd let you do it all day if I could" Hermione smiled, turning her head to kiss her witch and feeling another pang of arousal as she could taste herself in Tonks' mouth. "We'd never get anything done though."

"Ah, but would it matter?" Tonks laughed, stretching and cracking her neck.

"Not in an ideal world. Though I suppose in an ideal world I wouldn't be leaving for a few hours to go to Hogwarts" she said softly. Tonks sighed.

"I know its going to be hard. Fuck, love. It's going to be absolute rubbish. But I'm yours as long as you want me, you know that right?"

"I know. We're each others aren't we?" Hermione mused.

"You got it sweets. And I've got my book, I'll write you every day. We can keep working on this Dumbledore shite. Perhaps I'll draw you some lewd pictures in it for you."

"I'll be sure to keep an eye out for those" Hermione chuckled.

"Well you better! They're for your eyes only, after all" Tonks giggled. "Now we best get some sleep. Remember to set an alarm for 5:30 before Molly gets up to sneak back into Ginny's room?" Hermione nodded.

"It's done."

"Bril. Night Hermione." Tonks waved her wand and the candles in the room flickered and extinguished. Hermione found herself laying in bed staring at the ceiling. She could feel Tonks next to her doing the same.

"Tonks?" she whispered after a few minutes silence.

"Yeah babe?" Tonks yawned.

"I love you. I just wanted to say it before I left." Hermione felt the bed move as Tonks flicked her wand to light the candles again, turned to face her and stiffened.

"Thank Merlin. I love you too." Hermione grinned as Tonks beamed at her.

"Fuck it! We'll sleep when were dead!" Tonks cried as Hermione rolled on top of her and bit at her collar bone before lifting her head.

"Or at least on the train. Shut up and kiss me now" Hermione murmured as she slid a hand tantalizingly to rub circles on the soft skin of Tonks' inner thighs.

"With pleasure, lover" the older witch giggled.

Chapter Text

One month down Hermione mused to herself as she collapsed face first onto her bed, blindly flinging an arm under her bed after some fumbling to drag her trunk out and rummage through the contents to pull out a bound diary. It pulsed in her hand as she touched it and she grinned, knowing this meant her latest rant to Tonks had a reply. Fumbling under her cloak for a moment she reached down to the invisible holster strapped to her thigh and pulled up a dagger, pricking her finger with the tip and squeezing around the small cut to cause the blood to well. Satisfied, she allowed a drop to smear onto the spine of the book before replacing the dagger and murmuring a quiet healing spell as the diary opened.

***

Greetings!

Interesting news at Grimmauld. Dumbledore finally showed up after dinner last night and pulled Sirius aside. His eyes were decidedly less twinkly than usual. Between his less than cheerful demeanor and my eavesdropping on the conversation in the sitting room (Merlin bless those twins and the Extendable Ears) it seems he has caught on to the fact that Sirius has adopted Harry.

He tried to give our shaggiest Maurauder a lecture on placing Harry at ‘unforseen risk’ by voiding the magical protections of the blood wards and Sirius quite rightly told him that the blood wards would be a load of shite anyway given that he was attacked by Dementors, that it didn’t stop the Dursleys from starving him, beating him and locking him in a cupboard for over 10 years (?!?!?!?!) and that You-Know-Who had his blood anyway so it didn’t make any sense that the wards would even work. THEN Dumbledore tried to give it to him about not ‘conferring’ with him prior to doing it and Sirius blew his top and suggested maybe he would feel inclined to ‘confer’ with him if Dumbledore ever bothered to ‘confer’ with anyone else about what goes through his “manipulative, senile, sherbet lemon addled brain” - thats a direct quote, thought you’d like it. Dumbledore left in a huff and Sirius spent some time pacing in his room before starting a screaming match with Walburja’s portrait to let him vent some rage then getting blind drunk. Even Kreacher had the sense to avoid him.

Methinks that we have a few things to follow up on here. I think its time to let Sirius have a little read of your notes on Dumbleore if you’re agreeable – he seems appropriately disenfranchised with Team Dumbledore. I’m also quite concerned about what Sirius had to say about his treatment with the Dursleys...he’s had Arabella Figg watching Harry for years and Poppy Pomfrey is a very adequate nurse – I don’t see how she could have missed such obvious signs of abuse. That said, Poppy would have to report any concerns to Dumbledore himself so I have a horrible feeling that this revelation wouldn’t come as a shock to the old coot. If she knows, he knows. Might pay for you to do some digging there.

I know Umbridge can be a right piece of work but be very carful around her, please. She’s bad news – and being a Ministry employee in Fudges pocket puts her in a faily untouchable position. If anything, its probably Fudge in her pocket. Make sure Harry keeps working on his Occlumency to help him stay calm so he doesn’t blow up at her. I realise that trying to stop a teenage boys temper is like trying to stop the Pacific Ocean but do your best - she gives me the heebie-jebbies (to use the technical terminology). It’s fucking ridiculous that none of you are getting a chance to practice any DADA spell work, especially in your OWL year. I think you should have a word with Flitwick. He is a world renown Dueling Champion and I bet if you asked he would work some additional classes in to teach you some of the things you are missing and it’s safer than trying to do anything in secret plus the whole school will benefit.

I’ve been counting down the days until Hogsmede next weekend. I have many, many delicious things planned for you. Actually, I got a bit inspired by your helpful illustrations and charts in the Dumbledore notebook so I have drawn a detailed diagram below so you can do some stretches and practice moving your legs that way before hand.

Always yours,

T.

xo

***

T,

Excuse the short reply but I am positively exhausted.

If you think Sirius is ready to be brought into the loop without giving the game away then feel free – I trust you. I’ll do some investigating with Madame Pomfrey as well. Your idea about approaching Professor Flitwick is a good one, I’d been contemplating trying to get Harry to run a secret class but he really does have enough on his plate and Umbridge would have his hide I’m sure. That said, I’ve planned to meet up with him tomorrow afternoon and bring him into the loop as much as possible as well. Dumbledore has left on another mystery trip so it seems safest to do it in his absence so even if Harry doesn’t take it well he can’t confront him in a rage.

Umbridge is becoming a real problem – I can see the wheels ticking over in her mind on how to make us all miserable. I had to silently put a silencing spell on Harry in our first class when she started lecturing us all on how its a manipulative ploy of Dumbledore that You-Know-Who is back. He was furious with me, not that he could say anything about it. I think he was grateful later when he saw some traumatized looking 3rd years leave her detention later that night. Something is amiss there so I’ll keep an ear to the ground.

Now Miss Tonks, I must say I found your diagram most illuminating however must point out that I believe that extra joints, rather than stretching, would be required for me to ‘more my legs that way’. I’m sure we can find some other ways to enjoy each others company that don’t involve breaking or adding any bones but as always I’m open to suggestion. Either way, you will be pleased to know that seeing it has ruined yet another set of knickers, unfortunately.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon, all my love as always.

H.

xo

***
Hermione was about to replace the diary in her trunk until it pulsed again. Dripping another spot of blood on it, she quickly opened it again and bit back a laugh, lest she have her roommates think she had gone mad. Lavender was irritating enough without her shouting around accusations of lunacy.

H,

Feel free to send them to me. I’ll make sure to look after them.

T.

***

T,

That is truly disgusting. You never fail to surprise me with your levels of depravity.

H.

***
H,

You know you love it. Plus imagine how entertaining it would be to have that particular parcel intercepted.

T.

***

T,

I’d really rather not think about where my sodden knickers might end up. I’m off to bed now, rest assured I’ll be dreaming of you. Best sleep naked to save the remainder of my clothes from the very thought of you.

H.

P.S., I did have a rather exciting dream about you just last night. I pulled the memory and posted it to you this morning. Hopefully that will tide you over.

***
H,

I’ll add this to the already lengthy list of reasons I love you and be waiting with bated breath for the post. Sweet dreams.

T.

***
Hermione awoke early and shuffled down to the common room to begin her morning exercises, nodding happily at Ginny who grinned and joined her in stretching before they made their way out of the common room to the grounds for a jog around the lake. Harry and the twins had taken to attending additional Quidditch practice matches to keep their fitness levels up from the training in the holidays however Ron had decided to give it a miss. That said, at Hermione’s request he had taken it upon himself to start practicing Occlumency with Harry.

“Hey ‘Mione, you don’t mind if we have a tag along do you? I was chatting to Luna yesterday and invited her along, she seemed lonely.” Ginny asked hesitantly.

“The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned” Hermione replied with a smile, remembering her witches kind words about the Lovegood family. “She’s welcome to join us.”

“Maybe we should speak to some of the other girls in the year, we might be able to convince the boys to join us again if they are trailing behind a group of girls.” Ginny giggled and Hermione snorted.

“If anything will get them out of bed before noon on a Sunday it will be that…” Or this! Hermione trailed off, noticing Luna Lovegood standing near the door to the grounds. She was dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit that covered her arms and all of her legs that zipped up at the front, reaching her neck, where a billowing purple cape was fluttering in the breeze from the propped open door. Her shoes, at least, seemed reasonably practical being high-top black sneakers.

“Well we certainly wont loose her in that” Ginny muttered, grinning at the blonde witch and waving at her.

“I think we might be under-dressed Miss Weasley” Hermione murmured in response. “I packed a few sets of tights and singlets but I must have left my cape back at home. Hello, I don’t know if we have met properly. I’m Hermione Granger. It’s lovely to meet you.”

“Hi Luna! Love the outfit” Ginny grinned.

“Good morning Ginny, thank you for noticing. This is my Adventuring Suit that daddy and I use when we go to Sweden to look for Crumple-Horn Snorcacks” Luna beamed happily at the red-headed witch before holding out a hand to Hermione. Hermione let the imaginary creature comment slide over her, having been pre-warned by Ginny they were quite the Lovegood Obsession. Hermione reached her hand out to shake but was startled when Luna bent down and kissed her hand, throwing a concerned look at Ginny who was doubled over in silent laughter.

“Hello Hermione Granger, thank you for allowing me to join you this morning."

“Um. You’re very welcome, Luna. Shall we get going?” Hermione queried, deciding in the spirit of making new friends to let the odd behaviour go undiscussed for the moment.

Luna nodded and the three witches set out at a brisk pace towards the Black Lake. Hermione was pleased to see that Luna was able to keep up though her running style was significantly less refined than the other two witches, seeming to involve an unidentifiable pattern of jogging, sprinting, skipping and the occasional pirouette.

Having worked up a significant sweat over an hour later, excluding Luna who curiously seemed to have not been the slightest bit bothered by the run and still looked perfectly relaxed, they jogged (and skipped and pirouetted) back towards the school only to hear a screech from none other than Doleres Umbridge as she stalked towards the trio, looking furious.

“What exactly do the three of you think you are doing out of the school at this improper time?” she demanded. The young witches shot each other a confused glance, excluding Luna who appeared serene still.

“Fitness training, Professor. We usually go for a morning jog around the Lake.” Ginny offered politely.

“Students are not to leave the castle without explicit permission! 10 points from Gryffindor!”

“I’m from Ravenclaw, Miss. Did you know you have many, many wrakspurts following you?” Luna cheerfully intoned.

“Thats Professor to you!” Umbridge snarled. “20 points from Ravenclaw for your cheek!”

“Professor Umbridge, we do have permission from Professor McGonogall” Hermione stated calmly. “I have the form in my trunk if you would like me to get it.”

“Professor McGonogall approves of this unsanctioned training then?” Umbridge asked dangerously.

“Its just exercise!” Ginny snapped.

“Nonsense! Inside, all of you and come with me. We can pay a visit to Minerva this instant and get to the bottom of this!”

The younger witches followed Umbridge through the halls and waited quietly as Umbridge rapped loudly on Professor McGonogalls office door, who opened it after a few moments dressed in a tartan dressing gown, glancing briefly at Hermione’s calm facade, Ginny’s irate face and Luna, still dressed in the ridiculous Adventure Suit looking serene as ever. She sighed.

“What brings you to my Chambers at 6:45am on a Saturday morning Madame Umbridge?” she asked.

“I awoke this morning and glanced out the window this morning only to see these three troublemakers behaving and dressing most oddly, Minerva. Upon questioning them they have informed me that you have approved unsanctioned training, and I demand to know what this group consists of!” Hermione felt her hackles rise and wished she had managed her morning coffee before this unfortunate encounter.

“And what do these young ladies have to say, Dolores?” McGonogall snapped, looking at the girls in question.

“Professor McGonogall, Ginny, Luna and I went for our morning job around the Lake – the one we have been doing every morning since the start of term I might add – and Professor Umbridge asked what we were doing. Ginny explained politely we were doing fitness training and she escorted us up here when I explained you had given us permission.”

“There is no need for any sort of training when there is no danger!” Umbridge spat.

“With all due respect Professor, many people engage in fitness training, also known as exercise for a myriad of reasons and the main reason is because it is healthy to do so. That said, given that the Ministry is refusing to allow us to train in any real sort of defense I personally think that the whole school should be out there with us so if any danger appears we are all sufficiently trained to run away!” Hermione snapped back, watching as Umbridges face turned an alarming shade of purple. Probably shouldn’t have said that.

“I will not be spoken to like that young lady! How dare yo - “

“Excuse me Professor, but the wrackspurts following you earlier seem to have intensified quite disconcertingly” Luna interjected, stepping back with a look of alarm on her face. Professor McGonogall pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed deeply.

“Enough!” Umbridge screeched. “Back to your common room you little freak!”

“I cannot believe you can be so unprofessional as to talk to a student like that” Hermione shouted.

“LADIES!” Professor McGonogall interjected. “Perhaps if Miss Weasley, Miss Granger and Miss Lovegood could all return to their respective common rooms I can explain the concept of exercise to Professor Umbridge and we can all carry on with our mornings.”

“Detention! All of you!” Umbridge cried, ignoring Professor McGonogall entirely.

The sound of a small cough from the alleyway behind them caused all five witches to turn only to see Professor Dumbledore step into view. Hermione winced, not missing McGonogalls curious stare as she avoided his eye contact and focused on her Occlumebcy barriers.

“Now, now Dolores. I suggest that given the situation Miss Lovegood and Miss Weasley return to their dormitories. They have broken no school rules by exercising, particularly if the Deputy Headmistress has given them permission to be on the grounds of a morning.”

“What about Miss Granger?” McGonogall and Umbridge asked, the former with concern and the later with a dangerous glint to her voice. Hermione could sense what was coming and stood still, silently seething. Ginny shot her an apologetic look and took Luna’s hand, leading her from the hallway. The blonde threw her a little wave.

“It was, alas, quite improper for Miss Granger to speak to Madame Umbridge in the tone she did and her detention seems reasonable.” Hermione felt her eye start to twitch with rage as Umbridge grinned evilly at her.

“Indeed. Thank you for your assistance in this matter Headmaster. Miss Granger, I shall see you this evening at 9pm for your detention” Umbridge simpered before strolled away, still smiling. Hermione glanced back at an irate looking Professor McGonogall.

“Albus, a word if you please” The Headmaster nodded and stepped into the room. “Miss Granger, I wish to speak to you also, if you could remain here I shan't be more than a few minutes” McGonogall whispered. Hermione nodded and took a few deep breaths to calm down. Debating on whether or not to risk an Extendable Ear she decided it was ultimately worth it and quickly pulled one from the pocket of her tights, casting a quick notice-me-not charm on the door, the extendable ear and herself.

“Albus, was it entirely necessary to subject Miss Granger to that woman? I hardly think she was in the wrong here and Dolores was quite unfair in her treatment of her and Miss Lovegood.”

“Unfortunately, Minerva, my hands are tied. I must not be seen to be undermining her authority in the school, lest the Governors see my actions as unjust and seek to remove me entirely. It is, after all, for the greater good and the wellbeing of the students that I remain at the school as long as possible.” She grinned slightly in gratitude to her favorite Professor as she heard the sound of scoffing from the room.

“The Governors would hardly think that Miss Granger exercising and telling a Professor not to call Miss Lovegood a freak and being given detention for it unjust, I would think, Albus. In addition, you’re ongoing absences from the school are serving minimal purpose as it is. Your speeches to the public about the return of You-Know-Who are hardly doing you or the school any favors. You are well aware on my views that you should be focusing less on trying to change the opinion of the masses when it comes to You-Know-Who and more on staying out of the public view and helping the Prophet to report more important matters that would allow them to draw their own conclusions. The increasing number of missing people, the reports of muggle-baiting and vandalism to shops in Diagon Alley owned by half-bloods and muggleborns would be far more beneficial. Instead, every front page of the paper is dedicated to calling you a senile old fool and making Mr Potter seem like a crazed lunatic. If anything, your actions are encouraging the public and the Ministry to shun you and allowing Dolores bloody Umbridge to terrorize the students!” Minerva stated irritably. She heard Dumbledore sigh.

“You will have to trust me with this, Minerva. My reputation is still held in good steed where it counts and if anything, I think the reporting on young Harry will allow him to build resilience. When Voldemort does return to the public eye he will be hailed as a hero, a beacon of hope, for surviving such slander.”

“I doubt Mr Potter needs to develop any more resilience, given what he has already been through Albus! Just how, exactly, to you expect him or anyone else to trust you given some of your recent choices? Harry is miserable. The fact that you won’t address the bullying he is facing either from the general public or the school is greatly concerning! Severus is worried sick! He has taken to brewing weak Dreamless Sleep draughts and having the elves spike his pumpkin juice to allow the poor boy to rest at all! Its a miracle he hasn’t left the Wizarding world to be slaughtered by You-Know-Who as they sleep!”

“Harry won’t be leaving the Wizarding World when the alternative is living with his relatives, Minerva. You know this.”

“Sirius Black has guardianship of him now, how exactly does that help? Frankly after what you have done to the Potters and the Blacks I wouldn’t be surprised if they both vanished off the face of the Earth and left us to our doom.”

“That is but a temporary problem, Minerva. Rest assured Harry will be back with his Aunt and Uncle before the school year is through.” Hermione blanched as she heard Minerva gasp.

“And what exactly does that mean for Sirius? Will he be back to suffer the horrors of Azkaban with Bellatrix, or something worse?”

“Bellatrix knew what she was getting herself involved with, Minerva -” She heard the Headmaster snap back, the irritation evident in his voice.

“Andromeda Tonks doesn’t seem to think so! Albus, you are asking for everyone around you to suffer for your so called ‘greater good’ without a single explanation! Blind trust will only get you so far and to be frank, mine is running out!” she heard Professor McGonogall reply curtly.

Hermione stepped back from the door suddenly and drew her wand, alarmed to see flashes of light under the door. She kept the Extendable Ear in place with her hand and bit down her panic as she felt waves of power roll over her, only to crease her brow in confusion as she heard Dumbledore speak more quietly again.

“Thank you for allowing me to use your Floo and for the tea Minerva, I must pop out to the Ministry but I will return later this evening.

“I must have...been lost in thought for a moment there Albus, very well. I shall see you this evening.”

Hermione heard the sound of the Floo and quickly rolled up her Extendable Ears, aghast, and pushed the door open, wand drawn.

“Professor! Are you alright?” She asked hurridly.

“Miss Granger! What on earth are you doing here? Its barely seven in the morning!”

“I..Dumbleore… I heard...there were spells - “ she spun wildly around. “Professor you asked me to wait in the hall for you, do you not remember?” Professor McGonogall simply raised an eyebrow in confusion and Hermione paced around the room a moment, gnawing on her bottom lip.

“I realise this sounds very strange, but please go with me on this… how much do you trust Professor Snape?” she asked hurriedly, recalling that from what she had just overheard he seemed a lot more trustworthy and kind than she had ever been given to believe. She watched the Professor’s brow crease with confusion.

“I would trust him with my life. What is this all about Miss Granger?” she asked in confusion.

“Um, bear with me Professor. Just a moment” she quickly summoned a Patronus and quickly sent it in the direction of Snape’s chambers, pleased to have finally managed to grap that particlar spell in her practices in the common room with Harry and Ron, and gestured for her to sit down. “Would you like a cup of tea?” she asked.

“Miss Granger I must insist you tell me what is happening!” McGonogall scowled.

“I will, I promise! I barely know myself, I mean, but I will tell you what I do know – oh! Professor Snape! Erm. Good morning” she stated, her voice quite high pitched due to nerves as said Professor stepped out of the Floo dressed in his black pyjama pants and a loose fitting shirt with a moving dragon on it and a green dressing gown.

“Minerva. I just had a shiny jackal summons me immediately to your office with a pensive as a matter of – and I quote - ‘life or death’. Why is Miss Granger, the caster of said Patronus I assume, summonsing me to you and why is she making tea?” he scowled.

“Before I explain could you cast a few privacy wards that, uh, keep out Extendable Ears?” Hermione asked. Both Snape and McGonogall scowled at her furthur but waved their wands, obliging. “Look, this is going to be impossible to explain so I thought a pensive might hurry things along.”

“And why am I required for this no doubt intriguing turn of events?” Snape asked darkly.

“To undo whatever Dumbledore just did to Professor McGonogall” she explained hurriedly.

“What?!” they asked in unison.

“Look, just...give me a moment.” Hermione drew her wand to her temple and pulled a strand of pale blue tendril and towards the pensive, thanking her witch mentally for the Mind Arts books. Catching Snapes eye he nodded, still seeming both unimpressed and confused, and she put the memory into the bowl.

“Alright, take a look!” Hermione offered, nervously. Snape, raising an eyebrow to McGonogall and Hermione before finally taking the plunge. McGonogall guestured for her to go next before following her into the memory.

“Okay, just watch now….erm don’t mind Luna” she muttered as Snape snorted loudly seeing Luna Lovegood skipping next to her in the Adventuring Suit and Ginny as they ran into an irate Umbridge on their way back into the school grounds, before he cleared his throat loudly, schooling his features into a practiced look of disinterest. She observed the two professors as the memory went forward, noticing with interest Snapes brief flash of rage at Umbridge calling Luna a freak. She winced and offered a sheepish grin as her memory self unrolled the Extendable Ear and they both gave her a troubling look. Both expressions, however, where agast as the meeting with Dumbledore progressed. After seeing Hermione’s memory of the flashes spotted from underneath the door and McGonogalls sudden indifference to Albus after giving him quite the bollocksing they found themselves yanked from the pensive and the three of them quickly stumbled to the dining table, aghast and silent for a moment.

“That meddlesome old fool!” McGonogall suddenly shouted, slapping her hand on the table angrily. “He must have obliviated me!” She stood up and walked to a cabinet, withdrawing a bottle of Scotch. Hermione briefly considered pointing out that seven in the morning might be too early for hard liqueur but given the situation felt it might be best to not say anything.

Snape however, suddenly was looking at Hermione with interest. She squeezed her hands together under the table with nerves. “Miss Granger….should I assume that Potters recent foray into Occlumency that my passive Legillimency has been picking up is your doing?”

“Yes, Professor.”

“May I ask why?” he drawled. Hermione sighed deeply and paused to give the topic some thought.

“Well. No use keeping it a secret now I suppose. I was concerned by Dumbledore’s decision to not speak to Harry over the summer and gave some thought to his past actions since I have been at school. I decided that I...don’t really trust him. At all. So we decided that we needed to take some action and protecting our thoughts from him became important and I decided to try and have Harry learn. I figured that given Harry obviously has some sort of link with You-Know-Who it couldn’t hurt either.” she shrugged.

“We? We decided?” Snape inquired. McGonogalls face suddenly lit up in understanding.

“Ah. Miss Granger am I right to assume that there is a certain witch loitering around Grimmauld Place right now who has played a part in this and might benefit from hearing about it?” Hermione’s breath hitched in her throat at the thought of seeing Tonks.

“Yes” she breathed. “Maybe Sirius too, she was going to speak to him about her concerns today.”

“Alright. Please excuse me for a moment.” McGonogall, to Hermione’s surprise, stood up and quickly disappeared into the Floo. Hermione and Snape sat awkwardly in her absence.

“So…I take it you don’t hate Harry as much as you act like you do?” Hermione pondered aloud. Snape sighed and gave her an appraising look.

“No, Miss Granger. In fact I swore to protect him when he was but a baby. Dumbledore has had me treat him so poorly in order to maintain my cover as a spy for the Dark Lord.”

“Hmm. That actually makes sense I suppose.” Hermione got up and began to pace around the living area. Snape smirked lightly.

“If it were to make sense to anyone, Miss Granger, it would be you. You are quite a remarkable young witch” he commented quietly. Hermione flushed at the compliment.

“Thank you Sir, that’s very nice of you to sa- mmppphh!” Hermione stumbled slightly, having just been tackled by a blur of pink that had attached itself to her face, kissing her deeply. Forgetting herself for a moment, she quickly responded and wrapped her arms around her witch and tangled her hands in her hair, responding with gusto until the sound of a throat clearing reminded them where they were and they took a step away from each other. She glanced around the room and reddned at McGonogalls raised eyebrows. Snape appeared to be trying not to laugh. Sirius stared at the witches, slack jawed. Both were in their pyjamas. Sirius, oddly enough, was wearing a set of pyjamas identical to Snape but in white instead of black. Tonks was only wearing a singlet and short boxers. Hermione felt her mouth run dry at the sight of her long legs and swallowed audibly.

“God I’ve missed you!” Tonks beamed happily. “Soooo whats with the pyjama party?” she asked, glancing around the room. Snape and Sirius caught eyes and glared at each other.

“We will get to that Miss Tonks. Miss Granger do you think Harry should be present for this discussion?” McGonogall asked.

“I think so...do you think his Occlumecy shields will hold up Professor?” she asked Snape who nodded.

“For now. We can work on them later, but as long as he avoids eye contact he should be fine. Dumbledore is still avoiding him so the risk is small.”

“Dobby!” Professor McGonogall stated. A small elf wearing a dozen tea cosies on his head appeared.

“Yes Mistress Tabbycatty?” he squeaked. Snape, Sirius and Tonks all sniggered and Hermione grinned at the view of the infamous Dobby. McGonogall pointedly ignored the group and spoke again.

“Can you please wake Harry and bring him here?”

With a crack Dobby disappeared, hats wobbling dangerously, only to return with a confused and half-asleep Harry who saw Snape and scowled, causing the Professor to sigh quietly. He quickly caught sight of Sirius and beamed with joy, enveloping him in a hug.

“Hi Pup” Sirius grinned.

“What the bloody hell is going on?” Harry asked, suddenly looking alarmed. “Is everything alright?! Why are we all in pyjamas?”

“Sit down please Harry, I think we all need to have a long talk.” Professor McGonogall stated and with a wave of her wand expanded the small table to fit their party of six. Shooting a confused glance to Hermione he quietly nodded and took a seat.

“Dobby, could you fetch us some drinks and a light breakfast from the kitchens?” McGonogall asked.

“Of course Mistress Tabbycatty!” Dobby squeaked with joy. “What can Dobby be getting you all to drink?”

“Coffee!” Hermione and Tonks immediately declared in unison before shooting each other a glance. Hermione couldn’t wipe the smile off her face at the wink Tonks gave her. Despite the immense amount of stress she felt it was like a weight off her shoulders seeing her witch. Sirius and Harry both requested a pumpkin juice with Snape asking for water and Minerva requesting a pot of tea. Hermione sighed with satisfaction when the eager elf reappeared moments later with a mug for her. Swigging deeply she noted Sirius and Harry still glaring daggers at the Potions Master.

“Perhaps, Professor, we should start by showing the boys and Tonks the memory from this morning to, shall we say, set the scene. It might help the boys feel a little less...filled with murderous rage. Well towards Professor Snape here anyway.” Hermione muttered to McGonogall quietly who nodded.

“A wise plan, Miss Granger. Gentlemen! If you could hold on to your tempers for the moment I can assure you all we shall be leaving this room with some very different views towards each other than when we held when we came into it” she remarked calmly before gesturing into pensive where Hermione’s memory lay waiting. Hermione, Snape and McGonogall waited patiently as Harry, Sirius and Tonks quickly dove in to the memory. Snape gave McGonogall a look.

“So, the gig is up it seems Minerva. I assume you plan to tell them everything?”

“Everything.” McGonogall replied after a moments hesitation. “This farce has gone on long enough. Hopefully between all of us we can fill in some of the missing pieces of the puzzle.”

“I agree, though I must admit I find myself somewhat...apprehensive” Snape muttered. “I am unsure if Harry and Sirius will take to my part in the Prophecy being revealed initially very well. Perhaps it would be best if I left.”

“Nonsense Severus. It was a mistake, you were not to know the Prophecy referred to the Potters and Harry and Sirius will behave themselves, bar nothing. Perhaps if Harry finds himself unable to control himself Miss Granger can offer him one of her infamous calming treacle tarts.” Snape glanced at her in confusion as she flushed.

“You...know about the tarts then Professor?” she asked sheepishly.

“I make it my business to know Miss Granger. Alastor mentioned it to me at Grimmauld Place after he had caught you in the act, so to speak. I have been monitoring the situation to ensure Severus does not dose him too heavily by mistake. Perhaps the two of you should be conferring to develop tactics” she drawled, a faint tug at the corner of her mouth.

“Right. Well I that case once every few days I’ve been giving Harry a treacle tart laced with a calming draught. I had been using one with a dreamless sleep draught but given I haven't heard his screams from my dorms in the middle of the night so I stopped with that one. Obviously the better sleep is your doing then?”

“Indeed. How often do you give them to him?”

“I know they are addictive so usually only twice a week. Mondays and Thursday when he has Defense and, well, Potions right after each other the following day.”

“Ah. I have been surprised Dolores hasn’t managed to drag him into a detention so far this year” the potions Professor remarked.

“Well yes, I’ve been quite adamant that he keep his temper in check, the last thing he needs is more scars to add to his already admirable collection. If only I’ll be able to avoid the same fate myself” she scowled.

“Scars, Miss Granger?” he asked in confusion. McGonogall gave her a similar glance.

“She has the students writing lines with a Blood Quill. I’ve been having the Weasley twins bathe their hands in Essence of Murtlap which seems to help afterwards with the pain but there isn’t much that can be done during other than a numbing charm but that seems to wear off fairly quickly according to the Fred.”

“Blood Quills?” McGonogall screeched while Snape stared at her in horror. “She’s torturing our students with Blood Quills?!”

“Well, yes. I thought you all knew about it? Little Colin Creevey reported it to Dumbledore as soon as he finished for the night, he was the first Gryffindor to have one after he stood up for Harry in his first DADA lesson. Apparently Dumbledore couldn’t do anything for him and said that the staff were aware, and warned him to avoid any detentions in the future by keeping his head down and suggested the Essence of Murtlap then sent him on his way with a sherbert lemon...so I feel its safe to assume that you did not, in fact, know about the Blood Quill...” Hermione trailed off. To her alarm both the Professors were turning a deep shade of purple.

“I won’t stand for it!” Snape declared. “It is completely unacceptable to subject children to torture.”

“We must warn Fillius and Pomona!” McGonogall cried, standing up. “Why have none of the students come to us about it?”

“Well its a standard trauma response, isn’t it?” Hermione said, thinking aloud. “I mean, they feel shamed and threatened as it is given that Umbridge usually targets half-bloods and muggleborns who's parents wouldn’t have the sway at the Ministry to have it stop. We’re a month into term in as it is, anyone who’s been subjected to more than one detention probably feels like they have been having it go on for too long to be able to explain. That and...well I hate to say it but if any of them have been to Dumbledore like Colin they might think you already know. She winced empathetically as Snape and McGonogall stared at her in horror.

At that moment Sirius, Harry and Tonks reappeared, looks of shock and concern written on their expressions. Harry, in particular, looked completely appalled.

“What...what is happening here? What has Dumbledore got planned for Sirius?” He suddenly demanded. “And why have you been putting dreamless sleep in my pumpkin juice?” he shot furiously at Snape.

“Enough, Harry!” Hermione stated firmly. “Everyone will get a chance to explain, unless you think it might be better to stick to the Pensive? That might be better, then we can sort out the little odds and ends when we are done” she asked, glancing around the room and seeing nods.

“Alright. Lets get this show on the road then” Tonks replied grimly.

0x0x0

After Minerva had spent a few minutes pulling memory strands into the bowl, having offered to go first, she guestured for the group to follow her into the Pensive.

“This first memory is when I first met Mr Potter here. Dumbledore insisted on leaving him with the Dursley’s despite my concerns” she narrated softly, seeing the witch expressing her thoughts on the Dursleys.

“Thats a pretty accurate assessment you made of them, Professor” Harry retorted and the group turned to see a motorbike with Hagrid suddenly fall out of the sky with a small bundle.

“Look at the big teddy bear, Hagrid’s such a soft touch” Tonks giggled, taking Hermione’s hand who was gazing at baby Harry with a soft expression on her face. Taking a glance around the room Tonks noted a similar soft expression on all the adults faces. She patted Harry on the back reassuringly at his uncomfortable expression. “Chin up Harry, everyone loves babies, though I must say I didn’t expect Severus to get so clucky” she grinned as he shot her a dirty look.

“Next!” Minerva cried, stepping forward and waving her arm. Tonks gripped Hermione to steady her as the bowl shuddered and the memory changed. “This is a few weeks later” she continued, shooting Sirius a nervous look as a younger Minerva McGonogall stormed into Dumbledores office and warded the door.

“Albus, why in Merlins name has Sirius Black been shipped off to Azkaban without a trial! Sirius and James were practically brothers, are you sure they used him as the Secret Keeper?”

“Yes, Minerva, I am quite certain” Albus replied quietly.

“That BASTARD!” Sirius suddenly snarled. “He was the one who suggested we alter the spell to pass the Secret on to Peter!”

“Albus this is very suspicious, surely you agree! Could you not have him assessed with Veritaserum?”

“Unfortunately what is done is done, Minerva. There is nothing I can do now he is in Azkaban.”

“You are the Supreme Mugwump! A member of the ICW! The speaker on the Wizengamot! Surely there is something you can do!”

“Alas, I wish there was -” Dumbledore replied quietly before being cut off as Minerva scoffed at him. “Minerva. I know how fond you were of young Sirius, and the Potters. I am certain that whilst it is unfortunate Sirius received no trial it is for the best he is off the streets. Who else would James and Lilly have trusted with such an important secret? 13 people have died. This is the end of a troubling time, Minerva. Emotions are running high. Remus is in mourning and has fled the country. The remaining Death Eaters are being rounded up. Soon this troubling time in our lives will be over” he offered gently. “You need rest, Minerva. I am aware the stress you have been under. Please, trust me” he implored and Minerva’s expression softened.

“Very well, Albus. Perhaps I shall retire for now. I have lessons to plan for tomorrow” McGonogall muttered and excused herself.

“Next!” McGonogall cried and waved her arm again before turning to Sirius. “I am sorry, Sirius. Perhaps if I had pushed more….” she trailed off.

“It’s fine Minnie” Sirius sighed and grit out, taking one of her hands in his own. “I’m free now, and Harry is here with me. We’re moving forward” he intoned and McGonogall offered him a watery smile before shooting a nervous glance at Tonks.

“Um, I agree with Sirius?” Tonks offered, confused by her expression. “I mean, I only met him as a baby apparently so I don’t really remember him or anything but I’m glad he is free.” Minerva sighed.

“Stop!” Minerva cried, pausing the memory that was about to play. “This next memory is regarding a meeting I had with Andromeda Tonks. This does not relate to Harry in any way, but will clarify why I mentioned your aunt earlier this morning and should be another significant factor to consider in terms of the lengths I am realising Albus will go to in his machinations.” Tonks felt herself stiffen in surprise and felt Hermione squeeze her hand. “Andromeda and I had formed quite a close friendship during Miss Tonks’ time at school due to our frequent correspondence regarding the many, many, many incidents her daughter found herself in trouble for. Given that I am a Master of Transfiguration Pomona and agreed that it be best I deal with Miss Tonks as more of a mentoring role despite her being a Hufflepuff student, unfortunately for the first five years of her schooling it was more of a disciplinarian role than mentoring role.” Minerva stated dryly, glancing at the witch in question who could only shrug sheepishly.

“It is a relationship that has lasted throughout the years. She is one of my dearest friends. This memory starts with a visit to my office during Miss Tonks 5th year at Hogwarts and is followed by me visiting Andromeda. I realise what you are about to see will come as quite a shock to most of you in the room, bar Severus of course being in a similar position...regardless, please save your questions for the end. I swear I shall answer them as honestly as I can” Minerva stated quietly, throwing another sad glance at Tonks who was unable to shake feelings of apprehension. She smiled quickly at Hermione who had stepped closed and wrapped an arm around her waist and kissed her cheek and nodded at Minerva who waved her hand as the memory began to play.

Minerva McGonogall was sitting at a desk and picked up a memo from Filius and began laughing quietly. Tonks grinned as Sirius stepped behind memory Minerva and read the note aloud for the group.

“Minerva, I have intercepted young Nymphadora Morphing into Professor Dumbledore and roaming around the corridors, flinging open the doors and shrieking “SILENCE” into the classrooms disrupting the study groups. I find myself unable to reprimand her on the infraction given that I couldn’t keep a straight face, hopefully you have more luck than I.” Tonks laughed loudly at the memory, despite Hermione whacking her arm. To her amusement, the entire room was chuckling and even Hermione, despite the walloping of her arm, had tears of mirth in her eyes.

A few moments passed of Minerva chuckling at the memo from Flitwick before she heard a knock on the door and quickly schooled her features into a scowl. A sheepish young Tonks with yellow and black hair to match her house colors slid into the office and took a seat at the desk opposite from the Professor.

“Nymphadora Tonks, what do you have to say for yourself?”

“My bad?” Tonks offered.

“Try again, Miss Tonks” McGonogall stated coolly. Tonks grimaced in discomfort.

“I don’t know what you want me to say! Marty and Ragnus thought it would be a good laugh and they dared me to do it.”

“Miss Tonks, we have spoken before about Mr Davis and Mr Bulstrode taking an...unhealthy interest in you. I approve of inter house unity wholeheartedly, but those Slytherin boys seem to get you in quite a lot of trouble, don’t they?”

“I suppose so, ma’am.”

“Tell me, Miss Tonks, what does young Charlie Weasley think of Mr Davis and Mr Bulstrode asking you to do this?” The younger version of Tonks flushed suddenly.

“Um, I’m not sure you want to know Professor...” she trailed off.

“Humor me, dear.” Tonks quickly morphed into a version of a young Charlie Weasley and crossed her arms, scowling.

“Those slimy gits are taking advantage of you Dora, and buttering you up to get you into trouble and the only reason they are talking to a Hufflepuff at all is because you can morph into all the tits and ass they could ever dream of, they aren’t really your friends they just want to fu-“

“Yes, thank you Miss Tonks that’s quite enough.” Tonks morphed back to her yellow and black haired self and Minerva sighed quietly. “Nymphadora. You have the makings of an incredible young witch. You are bright, funny, loyal and kind. I know you chase ambitions of getting into Healing or the DMLE but if you keep ending up in my office after being lead astray by people who do seem to want to take advantage of you, for whatever reason, that won’t be able to happen. Your OWLS are this year and you need to focus to get the marks to take the appropriate classes next year. I won’t be giving you detention however I believe it is time for you and I to spend some more productive time together. Think of it as a learning experience rather than detention. On Sunday afternoon I would like you to present me with a parchment...no. A speech on how abilities could be used productively as an adult, and I will be speaking to your mother. You are free to go, but my door is always open for you, as you know and I will see you on Sunday at 4pm.” McGonogall went to stand only to pause as Tonks cried out for her to stop.

“Wait, wait! Please don’t tell mum. I’m really, really sorry I won’t do it again. I’ll give you a speech every day if you want! She’s a mess enough as it is this time of year with the anniversary of her sister getting locked up, buggered if I know why. Please don’t tell her. Tell dad if you have to tell someone but not mum.” Minerva gave her an appraising look.

“Very well, you are dismissed.”

“Thank you Professor.I’ll see you on Sunday.”

The young Tonks stood and ran her hands through her hair nervously before walking out of the room. Minerva tapped her fingers on the desk seemingly deep in thought before walking to the fireplace where she paused for a few moments.

“Mum’s still the same” Tonks muttered to the group. “Every beginning of November she turns into a right mess. I wish she could tell me why.”

“I believe I can clarify that for you Miss Tonks. Your Aunt Bellatrix specifically asked her not to in the case she ever got sent to Azkaban. She worried that should your mother tell you then the knowledge would become known to potential enemies who managed to escape a similar fate as you were growing up and your mind was unprotected. Andromeda, as you will soon see, explained things to me and I was the first person she told. After I confronted Dumbledore with the information he had her make an Unbreakable Vow not to discuss it with anyone who did not already know the situation, which of course enabled him to discuss it with her should the need arise, not that your mother has let him set foot in the house since. That includes only Dumbledore, your mother, myself, Severus and Bellatrix herself. Now you will all be privy to the information it is essential you continue your work on Occlumency more than ever.” Tonks watched as Hermione caught Harrys eye and they nodded grimly. She was certainly grateful to have her witch by her side and knew how lucky she and Harry were to have each other.

Inside the memory Minerva had grasped some floo powder and stepped into the fireplace, appearing suddenly in the Tonks living room. Ted Tonks quickly stuck his head in the doorway and winced.

“Oh god. What’s Dora done now? I can get Andy but she’s in the study, a bit upset. Its an of a rough time of year for her.”

“Yes, Nymphadora mentioned that. Her misdemeanor was quite an amusing one this time, here is the memo from Filius. You are welcome to add it to your scrapbook collection.”

Ted took the note, read it and roared with laughter.Wiping tears from his eyes he managed to compose himself. “Ah, Andy will like this one. Perhaps…perhaps you’d like to show her? I try not to pry with her family issues so much.”

“I would be happy to do so Ted.” McGonogall took the note back and began making her way up the staircase.

“They got that scrapbook out at my 21st last year. It was quite an impressive size” Tonks announced. Hermione shot her a bemused look while Harry and Sirius laughed. “Actually if my memory serves me correctly mum and Professor McGonogall here who, of course was in attendance, had a drinking contest. What were the rules again Minerva?” she laughed, shooting the elder witch a small smirk.

“It makes me ill to think about it, I still cant look at firewhisky the same. And we shant be speaking of it here” McGonogall scowled.

Minerva knocked quietly on the door and cracked it open. Inside Andromeda Tonks was sitting on the floor, leaning against a sofa. She was clutching a photo of Bellatrix, seemingly when they were children, and swigging from a bottle of firewhisky, tears running down her face. Looking up she saw McGonogall and made to stand, wiping her face.

“What has my miscreant of a child done to you this time?” she asked with a wry grin, sitting on the lounge and petting the seat next to her where Minerva joined her. The note was handed over and she began to giggle. “She doesn’t get it from me Minnie, I swear. Its her father in her.”

“If I remember correctly neither you nor Ted ever ended up in my office for anything remotely this scandalous, or amusing. If anything you were both model students.” Minerva offered with a chuckle. Andromeda sighed deeply and wiped at her eyes with a handkerchief.

“No, you’re right. If shes like anyone in terms of her troublemaking she’s like Bella isn’t she?”

“Ah yes, Bellatrix did spend a significant amount of time in my office, didn’t she? I have quite fond memories of Filius and myself having to spend almost a week trying to undo a charm she had put on Rodolphus Lestranges bed where it caused him to break out in hives in a most sensitive area after he had attempted to corner young Narcissa.”

“She was always looking out for us” Andromeda whispered bitterly. “It’s not fair.”

“She was certainly very protective of you all. I know young Sirius had been saved from quite a lot of grief over being in Gryffindor, having such a fierce protector. I’ll never understand what happened to have things play out the way they did with her, Andy, but I truly am sorry for your loss” Minerva stated sincerely, placing a reassuring hand on her arm.

“Thank you Minnie, you are a good friend. I consider you family, you know. We have Ted’s family of course but I’m quite lacking in that department.”

“You are not to blame for that, Andy. Getting disowned was not a choice you made lightly and just think, should you not have made it I wouldn’t have your terror of a daughter providing the staff room with entertaining tales every second or third day. You musn’t blame yourself.”

“I am to blame though, at least a little. I’m not the main protagonist here, however” Andromeda scowled.

“Is...is there something you would like to tell me Andy? You seem as though you have something you wish to get off your chest” Minerva carefully inquired.

“You know what? There really, really is but I’m not sure it would do you any favors to hear it” Andromeda replied sadly.

“Andromeda, I’ve lived through a war. I’m sure I can handle it” Minerva replied dryly.

“Alright then, if you insist. It’s not a happy tale though. And rest assured half the reason you’re getting it out of me is because I’ve bottled it up for almost a decade and I’m halfway through my second bottle of Ogdins Finest.” Andromeda took a deep breath and shot her a challenging look. “Bellatrix is innocent.” Minerva’s eyebrows quickly disappeared into her hairline. “She was a spy for the Order. The only one I’m aware of, other than Severus. When I informed Dumbeldore of my intentions to leave the family to be with Ted he asked me to hold off on mentioning it to Narcissa or my parents so he could have time to contemplate some safeguards. Bella was the only one who knew what I was planning. He pulled her into his office, it was her 7th year. Told her that to keep Ted and I safe it would be imperative to have someone behind enemy lines to know what the Dark Lord was doing. He reasoned with her if she managed to get into His inner circle then she could ensure that dealing with me, so to speak, was her private business to handle. Because she was so talented, and a member of the wealthy pureblooded House of Black she would be able to get mother and father under the thumb given their support of Voldemort and ensure they didn’t try anything either. In return he would ensure Ted and I had a place to go where our parents couldn’t find me, warded heavily, where we could be together when I was ready.”

“Oh my” Minerva stated in shock.

“She agreed at once, of course. Always happy to put herself in harms way to keep Cissy and I safe and happy. She took on so much of the punishment father doled out. He gave her strict instructions of course, he was even the one to suggest she avoid the killing curse and stick to torture where at least the victims could recover. She quickly rose through the ranks, married Rodolphus – at least she only had to touch him once on their wedding night to finalise the bond and was always crafty enough to fight him off otherwise, a small mercy. She had joined the Inner Circle by the time I finished school and we were never bothered by any of the war. Every few months she would come to visit – I could never tell Ted he is useless at Occlumency. She’s Nymphadora’s godmother – in secret obviously. Nymphadora doesn’t even know. I couldn’t tell her in case someone raided her mind like they might have raided Teds. She cried the first time she held her, told me she wished that things had been different and that she could be a proper part of the family but if she had to do it again she would to keep us safe.”

Andromeda stopped to wipe her eyes again and blew her nose. Minerva grabbed the bottle of firewhisky and took a hearty swig.

“Finally, it happened. The Dark Lord was vanquished. I hadn’t seen Bella for weeks and on Halloween this big black owl appears at my window and nearly scares me half to death and it was a letter from Bella saying that He was finally gone, that she had a meeting with Dumbledore in a week and planned to lay low until then. But then the Longbottoms….she heard that Barty Crouch, Rabastan and Rodolphus were looking for a way to find the Dark Lord and were going to head to the Longbottoms. She arrived just in time to see Alice and Frank as brain-dead mush on the floor and their wands trained on their boy, Neville. Bella managed to hide him upstairs just as the aurors arrived and they took her in to the Ministry. Of course the shit then well and truly hit the fan. I read about her arrest in the Prophet and tried to speak to her but the Ministry wouldn’t let me so I, ah, broke in one night and spelled the guard to the holding spell asleep. She was a wreck, I’ll never forget the look in her eyes….. turns out Dumbledore had never cleared the double agents with the Ministry in case there were leaks , and had the most amazing difficulty even getting Snape cleared and he had mostly taken on a background role with supplying potions and pretending to spy on Dumbledore and occasionally acting as an advisor to You-Know-Who. Bella was a high profile Death Eater who’d been caught at the sign of the torture of beloved aurors, a Black, and given that plus the fact that Barty Crouch Senior was on the war path and Minister Bagnold, was hardly doing anything to stop him...he told her he didn’t want to risk outing her in case Crouch took a hard line view which was likely, and he would hardly be able to let Bella off and sentence his own son. Having the truth come out then having her sentenced her to life in Azkaban or the Dementors Kiss would mean any loyal remaining Dark Lord supporters would then target Ted and Nymphadora and I without a doubt, plus Cissy who had just had young Draco.”

“So he did nothing?” Minerva asked in horror.

“Nothing” Andromeda whispered. “That was the last time I saw her. She was terrified. She’d begged him to make her a Portkey so she could leave the country or something but he said he wasn’t allowed to bring a wand in with him and wouldn’t be able to see her again before the trial so there was nothing that could be done. I offered to make one on the spot but she wouldn’t risk it in case anyone had seen me in the Ministry before she disappeared. I couldn’t even touch her through the wards. She had the trial, played the loyal supporter and she’s been in Azkaban ever since.”

Minerva took another long swig of the firewhisky and handed the remaining to Andromeda who knocked back the rest and sobbed. Minerva tucked her into her shoulder and rubbed her back soothingly. A few tears could be seen running down her face before the memory faded.

“Fucking WHAT?!” Tonks cried angrily as the memory faded. “Bellatrix is innocent? Christ, no wonder mum gets so upset! Give it a month and a half and her sister will have been locked up in Fucking Azkaban for bloody 14 years! We have to do something!”

“Miss Tonks, if there is anything I could think of to do I would have done it already” Minerva intoned sadly, dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief. Sirius had turned deathly pale, Harry putting a comforting hand on his back. Snape was scowling into the distance, seemingly deep in thought. She stepped forward to continue her rant, or perhaps chase Dumbledore through the Floo and behead him, until she felt Hermione’s small hands on her arms turn her and found herself meeting a steely look of determination and a firm whisper.

“Tonks. We will fix it. We will. But first we need all the information. A very clever witch once warned me about making a plan and not going off half-cocked. Can you hold it together for a little longer?” Tonks found herself unable to look away from her witches pleading eyes and, slowly, nodded. She felt a rush of warmth and pulled Hermione in for a warm embrace. “I trust you sweets” she mumbled tearfully.

“We’ll get her out, I promise” she heard quietly in her ear and she nodded again.

They stepped away from each other, resumed clutching hands and stared back at McGonogall who dabbed at her eyes again.

“I...I cant believe it. She was a double agent this whole time?” Sirius asked hoarsely.

“Yes, Sirius” Minerva replied quietly. “One of only two, the other being Severus.”

“Right, well excuse my hesitance, but I am somewhat disinclined to hold Snivilus in the same regard!” Sirius sniped, throwing him a dirty look.

“Oi! Knock it off you mangy mutt and hear him out” Tonks sniped back at him.

“No, I agree with Sirius! Snape’s always been awful to me” Harry stated irritably, throwing a defiant look around the occupants of the room. To her side, Tonks heard Hermione sigh audibly and pinch her nose in a manner that distinctly reminded her of Minerva.

“Harry, stop it! Professor Snape explained somewhat when you were in the pensive with Sirius and Tonks when you first got here. It’s part of his cover, don’t you see? He has to act a bit…unpleasant to keep his cover.”

“Miss Granger, as much as I appreciate the sentiment I am hardly deserving of any defense” Snape stated wearily.

“Rubbish Severus! I mean, you’ve always had a tendency to be a bit of a grumpy git to be frank” - Tonks winced as Hermione slapped her arm - “but you’ve had a harder job than any of us, especially now. You are spying on Voldemort for Dumbledore and pretending to spy on Dumbledore for Voldemort. You’re in more danger than anyone, you’ve put yourself at more risk than anyone in the whole war.” Tonks caught his eye and gave him a respectful nod however he still did not meet her eyes.

“Severus, if there is any time to come clean it is now. After all these years, it’s time to let the secret go” Minerva stated reassuringly, placing a hand on the Potion Masters arm. He gave her a look, and all Tonks could see was pain. Wordlessly, she led him back to the pensive and nudged him and he slowly drew his wand and the slivers of memory slipped into the bowl. Once finished he sighed and glanced briefly around the room, locking eyes with Harry.

“I am...sorry Harry” he whispered before gesturing to the bowl. Cautiously, Harry stepped forward and plunged into the pensive followed by Sirius, Minerva and Hermione. Tonks stepped forward, finally and placed a hand on his shoulder as Minerva had done before stepping into the bowl.

“Sna… Severus. I know you might not feel it but you’ve recently been a – well a bit of a hero of mine, knowing what you do for the Order. You risk your life every time you meet with the Death Eaters, let alone You-Know-Who. Whatever happens, know that” she stated firmly. He glanced up and gave her a look of surprise and she squeezed his shoulder gently and stepped into the pensive.

The minutes transpired and Tonks could only watch open-mouthed. Young Severus Snape, best childhood friend of Lily Evans. The hints at his awful childhood. Sorted into a different house. Falling in with the wrong crowd to stop his bullying within his own house. The bullying from the Mauraders – Tonks noted that Sirius had the gall to look appropriately ashamed during those parts – and in his frustration calling Lily a mudblood. Going to his first Death Eater meeting where he looked as though he would vomit the whole time and watching the charismatic Lord Voldemort looking far less creepy and snake-like spinning tales of their future glory. Lily marrying his childhood tormentor and seeing the birth notice of Harry in the Daily Prophet which he promptly set alight with a snarl. Death Eater meetings where he was crucioed, where the other Death Eaters were punished for the slightest infraction – everyone too scared to leave as the young man before them transformed into a hideous monster. Suddenly, him in a dark corridor overhearing Dumbledore and...was that actually that batty old Divination teacher giving an actual Prophecy? Warning Voldemort of his future downfall only to find out that the target was the Potters. A frantic meeting with Dumbledore begging for him to protect Lily and Harry because he didn't know it would be about her and, suddenly, the memory changing to him stumbling over her body at Godrics Hollow and bawling his eyes out next to a young, terrified Harry Potter in a crib. A return to Hogwarts and Dumbledore offering him a teaching position, moulding him an abrasive personality to allow him a cover should the Dark Lord return. Harry Potter stumbling into the halls and sitting on the seat to be Sorted. Harry being thrown around on a broom playing Quidditch and him frantically muttering counter curses only to realise he was on fire – Tonks snorted loudly at seeing bushy hair scamper down the staircase of the Quidditch stadium and this time it was Hermione looking ashamed as she glanced at him apologetically – and Harry climbing back on his broom. Him shouting at Dumbledore about his suspicions that Quirrill was in league with Voldemort and Dumbledore cheerfully reassuring him about a trap within a mirror and ‘not to worry Severus, if young Harry gets in it will be a marvelous test of his character’. Warning Dumbledore about Harry being bullied when the Chamber of Secrets was opened and getting another ‘not to worry Severus, it will be a wonderful way to build resilience’. Surprisingly, warning Dumbledore that Harry shouldn’t be going back to the Dursleys who clearly mistreated him and should be instead sent to live with his ‘mangy godfather’ where they could both be happy and out of trouble and getting another ‘not to worry Severus’ and a stern lecture on blood wards. Severus warning Dumbledore about Moody acting suspiciously, Karkeroff acting suspiciously, the Goblet of Fire acting suspiciously and even more ‘not to worry’ spiels. Severus mumbling to Minvera that he was sick of Dumbledore not doing anything about the students bullying Harry and visions of Harry looking tired and drawn eating meals and in potions and him confessing to having the elves spike his drinks so he could only sleep before finally, finally, they were fading away and free of the pensive once more and everyone looked pale and Harry Potter looked like he was about to vomit.

“You...you loved my mother? You’ve been looking out for me.”

“Always, Harry” the Potions Master declared firmly before looking him in the eye, casting a doe Patronus that meant very little to Tonks but obviously meant something to everyone else as eyes throughout the room filled with tears and he sunk to his knees. To Tonks surprise and relief, Sirius wiped his wet eyes on the back of his hand, stepped forward and offered him a hand up which Severus took after only a moments hesitation and Tonks, feeling like she almost needed a hand herself, stumbled backwards, sunk onto the lounge and sighed loudly.

“Well some bloody pyjama party this has been. Minerva, got any more of that Scotch?” she could only grin weakly as Minerva shot her a dirty look.

Chapter Text

Hermione yawned loudly several hours later as she sent her pyjama clad girlfriend and Sirius Black into the Floo and trailed up the stairs behind Harry. Each individual had been given a copy of what Tonks had declared 'the Dumbledore Textbook' - a name she had really hoped wouldn't stick but did. Sadly, every single person in the room had been equally horrified and in agreement with what had been written in there in terms of her theories of wrongdoing and Sirius and Harry had needed to be magically stuck to their chairs on several occasions as they had gone through it to stop them hunting the Headmaster down and after much discussion it had been agreed: Dumbledore was manipulating everyone in a mysterious game to defeat Lord Voldemort and it didn't seem to matter who was used as cannon fodder.

Sadly, many questions remained unanswered – why did Harry seem to have a link to the Dark Lord? Why was the diary able to posses Ginny? Why was he so determined Harry live with his rotten relatives? She fought the urge to dry heave as Harry had finally, in the spirit of them sharing secrets, disclosed just how bad it had been at the Dursleys and for once it had been Professor Snape who had needed to be stuck to his chair having not so fond memories himself of Petunia Dursley nee Evans. At least the Professors would be able to look into the matters as well now. The most pressing issue that she found herself dwelling on, however, was the one that she had agreed to solve with her witch. What were they going to do about Bellatix bloody Lestrange?

They had brainstormed that particular issue for quite a while at Sirius' and Tonks' insistence, particularly as it had been quite rightly pointed out by Snape that Voldemort was planning to stage a gaol break and should they not have her out by that time then the cycle was likely to continue – her forced into working for a madman, and it being likely that Azkaban itself could make her more than willing to do so after Dumbledore's betrayal. Fudge was hardly going to be open to suggestion and it wasn't like they could wait for the inevitable break out and hope for the best. In the end, as it drew close to 10:30am and the Professors were drawn away to deal with other issues Sirius had left in a huff but resigned to the fact that nothing could be done. Harry seemed upset at the injustice of it all but not particularly emotionally invested which was understandable. The Professors seemed in a similar state to Sirius but Tonks – Tonks was devastated. She was heartbroken for her mother especially and Hermione was well aware she had made a promise to fix it and fix it she intended to do.

Deep in thought she stumbled into her bedroom and grabbed a change of clothes before making her way to the shower where she took the time and empty room to ponder. She could oNly hope Tonks wouldn't do anything to put herself at risk. After drying off she fumbled around for her diary and after checking it noted Tonks had not yet written anything. With a sigh and after spending a few minutes chewing on her lip she decided to keep it simple and packed it amongst her parchment before heading off to the library.

I meant what I said – we'll fix it. Even if it is just the two of us. If you need me, just say the word. Love you xo

It took a few hours to get a reply and she breathed a sigh at the simple 'thank you'. After closing the diary she reached back over the desk for her current books on a history and the legalities of Official Pardons granted by the Wizengamot. Having already scanned the book and finding nothing even remotely helpful she turned to option two – The History and Construction of Azkaban. She glanced up briefly as Harry sat opposite her.

"Thought I would find you here" he offered with a faint grin.

"It was a safe bet Harry" she replied quietly, patting his hand. After a moment's hesitation she squared her shoulders. "So. How did Barty Crouch Jr break out of Azkaban last year?"

Her best friend gave her a hard look before lifting up the corner of her book, taking a glance at the cover.

"Oh God Hermione, no. Tell me you won't be breaking anyone out of Azkaban."

"Of course I wont be breaking anyone out Harry" she replied quickly. Of course she wouldn't be breaking anyone out. Her girlfriend was an Auror and a Metamorphamgus. That would definitely be her job, as if Tonks would have it any other way.

"Thats a relief. I don't know if I could have handled the worry, on top of everything else" Harry muttered before looking up, guilt crossing his face. "But you know, if you ever did I would do anything to help, right? No matter what it involved!" he confirmed strongly, holding her gaze. Hermione smiled warmly at him.

"Harry, if I can think of anything you can do to help with this fiasco you'll be the first to know. Are you alright after all of this?"

"I...I think so. It's a lot to process. I feel like we should be doing something though. First Voldemort and the Ministry And Dumbledore now. It's a lot to process, I don't even know where to start."

Hermione scanned his expression and paused for a moment, considering.

"Harry, this is going to be tricky. Very tricky. Dumbledore has a lot of pull and currently he isn't aware of how we feel but we need to play our cards close to our chest. I feel like….Dumbledore might have the good of the community as a whole, and he is trying to win this war and defeat Voldemort but he obviously has a plan he isn't sharing with any of us, and he seems pretty willing to sacrifice anyone to get things done. I don't have the answers right now but while we can, we need to do what we can to make sure we are all as safe as we can be. We need to prepare so when danger comes, we're as ready as we can be, you especially given Voldemort has a target on you."

"We need to train" he replied, running a hand through his hair. "I could look at that. What do you reckon?"

"I think that's brilliant Harry. Find us someone to do it. Professor Flitwick would be a good choice, or even Professor Snape though he will have to keep his charade going of loathing us all. Try talk them into starting a dueling club or something along those lines. As a backup, somewhere for some trusted few to train if UmbrIdge tries to intervene."

"I'll talk to Ron, he will want to help" he offered hesitantly.

"Of course, talk to Ron. Ginny and the twins too. They need to work on Occlumency before they know anything else though."

With a nod, Harry stood up before glancing back down at her again and re-taking his seat, meeting her eyes. "Barty Crouch Jr was smuggled out of Azkaban by his father. His mother was dying and they went to visit with a vat full of polyjuice. Dementors can't see, only sense things. They noted one healthy and one unhealthy person arriving and the same leaving. His mother stayed behind and took polyjuice until she died. If you need me say the word." With that he left the table and Hermione stared at him in surprise as he walked away. Hermione sensed that was as close to a blessing as she was going to get, and was going to run with it. She had promised after all.

Hours later, dwelling on the mental state of her witch as she curled up in bed for a nap before going to meet Umbridge she reached for her diary and felt it pulse with a message. She quickly opened it, sighing when she read the short note and reaslied what a state her witch must be in still.

Hermione, this is completely fucked. What are we going to do?

I'm not exactly sure yet, love, but we will think of something. Working tonight?

Sadly no, lover. I have an exciting evening planned of watching Sirius sulk around the house even more than I am, perhaps some chain smoking and fretting. Maybe a dash of trying to restrain myself at the prospect of that fat toad putting you in detention. If I didn't think I'd be immediately sacked for kicking up a stink at you being put in detention with that maniacal cow for no bloody reason with the Ministry the way it is right now I'd storm the castle.

Hermione snorted at the mental image of her over dramatic girlfriend and felt a pang of emotion. She was glad she hadn't mentioned the Blood Quill to Tonks or there would likely be two women needing rescuing from Azkaban. She was likely in for a night of fretting herself, unless...unless she could wrangle a better evening for everyone. Except Umbridge. She bared her teeth in a wicked grin and launched herself up. There were plans to be made.

0x0x0

Hermione forced herself to take a breath and school her features before knocking on Umbridge's door later that evening, early as usual. Who said punctuality and mild vigilante behavior couldn't go hand in hand? Trying not to wince at the sight of the overbearing pink walls and kitten pictures Hermione shot the Professor a determined glare as she strode in to the desk.

"Ah! Miss Granger. Please place your wand on my desk dear, there won't be any need for it this evening. You'll be writing lines; 'I shall not disrespect my betters' 500 times should do the trick. Please, take a seat" Umbridge simpered with a smile like the cat who got the cream. Hermione focused on keeping her features calm as she placed her wand on the teachers desk and took a seat as Umbridge strolled towards her, handing her some parchment and what Hermione recognised as a Blood Quill. She internally crossed her fingers and toes that this worked.

"Of course, Professor" Hermione replied icily and took the parchment and quill. Setting it down she made a point of adjusting the thick gloves she had conjured and put on before walking into the room. To her disappointment, Umbridge didn't notice. Hopefully she would in a moment.

'I shall not disrespect my betters' Hermione scrawled neatly across the parchment. She smirked internally to see Umbridge flinch, proving her theory was correct. The Quill drew from the skin of the last person to touch it. Given the gloves, that would be Umbridge.

'I shall not disrespect my betters' she wrote again, slowly, pressing the quill firmly into the parchment as Umbridge let out a gasp.

"What are you doing Miss Granger?!" Umbridge asked, staring at her.

"Writing lines, Professor" Hermione replied innocently before writing a third line.

"Stop this instant!"

"But I still have 497 lines to go, Professor" she replied calmly as she pressed the Quill to the parchment again. "I don't think the message has sunk in yet"

"I said stop!" she screeched and Hermione dropped the Quill onto the desk and folded her arms as Umbridge gave her a once over, narrowing her eyes at the gloves she was wearing.

"Take off those gloves this instant Miss Granger and continue with your work" she sneered.

"I'm afraid I can't take them off Professor, I have...allergies." Impertinence and insolence were not usually traits Hermione drew on but she was quite prepared to make an exception this evening.

"Allergies to what Miss Granger?" Umbridge asked dangerously. Hermione threw a slow look around the room before meeting the Professors eyes.

"Cats." Hermione could practically see the steam coming out of her ears.

Umbridge scoffed at her. "Foolish girl, you can't possibly be allergic to pictures of cats" she snapped, gesturing to the fluffy kitten portraits surrounding them.

"Are you certain Professor? I get quite quite a horrific, contagious rash." She subtly shifted the lolly she had stashed under her tongue earlier, one of the new testers of the Skiving Snackboxes the twins had been working on.

'Take them off at once!" Umbridge demanded dangerously.

"Alright" Hermione shrugged and removed the gloves, before wordlessly and wandlessly casting a hex causing an itchy, purple blotch to start to spread up the Professors arms and neck. She bit down on the lolly causing a similar rash to break out on her hands which she gestured pointedly in the older witches direction. She bit back a grin as Umbridge began to scratch before shooting a look at Hermione that would have caused a lesser witch to melt into a puddle on the ground.

"Out! Wait outside!"

Hermione strode into the hall and quickly rummaged through her bag for one of the cure candies to pop once dismissed and hoping that she was permitted to leave sooner rather than later, she took a moment to thank the gods that Fred and George had not yet began publicly selling their candies to anyone other than Gryffindors she vowed to turn a blind eye to their future experiments in the common room. She set her ear against the door only to hear the sound of more frantic scratching and grumbling from inside and grinned.

She tried to wipe any sign of satisfaction from her face when ten minutes later Professor McGonogall came down the corridor and gave her a hard look.

"Miss Granger, I have been summonsed by Professor Umbridge regarding an incident during your detention. Would you mind telling me what happened?"

"Well, I began writing my lines as directed only for some reason Professor Umbridge directed me to stop after only three or four"

"And why would that be, Miss Granger?"

"Well, she seemed to be in some pain but then became distracted by my gloves and demanded I take them off."

Hermione waited quietly as her favorite Professor gave her a once over, eying the gloves speculatively.

"I see. And you refused to take the gloves off because…?" she trailed off.

"My severe cat allergy, Professor" Hermione replied.

"A cat allergy you say. Despite you having a pet cat? How very curious."

"Very curious Ma'am."

McGonogall's mouth twitched in what Hermione hoped was a smile before Umbridge threw the door open and began a loud tirade down the corridor.

"Minerva! I demand you expel the girl at once!"

"Why, what on Earth for Dolores? One cannot help an instance of allergies" McGonogall deadpanned.

"You cannot be allergic to pictures of cats!" Umbridge shrieked.

"Well what do you propose has happened, if not that?"

"She has given me a rash!"

"Ah. Well did you see her drink a potion, or give you one, or perhaps cast a spell to induce such an event? It does appear that her wand is on your desk, Dolores."

Umbridge simply shrieked in rage before frantically clawing at her hands and neck.

"Perhaps not. It seems you too, Dolores, are allergic to something" McGonogall said calmly and Hermione struggled not to burst into giggles at the look of unbridled rage on the other Professors face. "It seems you are quite incapacitated also, I believe I shall oversee Miss Granger's detention on your behalf this evening. Follow me Miss Granger, we shall leave Professor Umbridge to recover." Hermione ducked in and retrieved the wand before pulling the door closed on her glowering DADA teacher and popped the candy to remove her rash.

They strode down the corridor and Hermione fought an internal battle on how to now escape her favorite Professor.

"Erm, Professor, is there any chance we could do the detention another night instead?" she asked hesitantly, shrinking from the second hard look McGonogall gave her.

"I suppose one might assume you may still be under the weather with your allergies. What time do you expect to recover, Miss Granger?" she asked dryly.

"Tomorrow, Ma'am?"

"I see. Do take care Miss Granger."

"I will, thank you Professor!" Hermione forced herself not to sprint away.

"Rest assured I will be having words with Miss Tonks about being such a corrupting influence, however." Hermione winced slightly. "Do send me a note when you return to the castle so I am aware you are within the safety of the wards."

To both the witches surprise Hermione stepped back towards the Professor and wrapped her arms around her in a brief embrace. "I shall. Thank you Professor" Hermione whispered before disappearing down the corridor towards the tunnel to Hogsmede.

Minerva sighed as she began the trek back up to her office. As much as she adored both Nymphadora and Hermione the two truly would be a force to be reckoned with together. At least she would have an amusing story for the staff room again, plus if the gloves were any indication a way to avoid the torture of her students. Picturing her old friends reaction she smirked. The increase in gray hairs she was sure to start developing would be worth it to see Andromeda's expression at the very least.

0x0x0

Tonks laid on the lounge flicking through some terrible article from Witch Weekly in an attempt to distract herself from what really had been quite a trying day and closed her eyes, running a hand through her hair, sighing. She fumbled for her journal only to see it hadn't pulsed with a message from her girlfriend and tried not to fret as she sighed loudly and flung herself back onto the lounge. A tap on the window had her jumping suddenly and she glanced up at the window only to see her mothers owl at the window, one of only a handful able to find her at Grimmauld Place.

"Pyxis? What are you doing here old friend?" she cooed, stroking the tawny owl gently as he held out a leg. Tonks blanched to see the red envelope and quickly drew her wand to shut the doors to the living room and ward them with privacy and silencing spells before the thing erupted. It had been a good few years since she had gotten a Howler from her mother and she winced at traumatizing memories of receiving them at Hogwarts on several occasions and also once, embarrassingly, at the Ministry in her office. Moody had been hideously amused. She hadn't forgotten family dinner this time but she had a sinking feeling she knew what this was about.

Nymphadora Auva Tonks!

You would think at 22 years of age I wouldn't still be hearing from the Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts about your errant behavior but here I am, shocked and appalled once again! Why am I just hearing now that you are in a serious relationship with a bloody student AND that you are a member of Albus Dumbledore's Order of the Phoenix?! I expect you for brunch tomorrow. Bring your date. I don't care if you are under a Fidelious Charm I have my ways young lady!

Tonks stared in bewildered silence as the letter promptly ripped itself to shreds in her face before bursting into flames.

"What the fuck…." she trailed off dazedly.

"Well I think I'd have to have a death wish to ignore a lunch invitation like that, I guess we have plans for tomorrow then?" came a voice from immediately next to Tonks' head. She squawked and promptly fell off the lounge.

"Hermione? Am I even awake or is this whole day just the most strange fucking dream I've ever had?" Tonks asked wide-eyed. Her witch responded with a cheeky grin and climbed over the lounge to straddle her on the floor and softly press her lips to her neck. Tonks felt heat pool in her belly.

"Oh I missed you" she whimpered before wrapping her arms around the younger witch and pulling her close, apparating to her bedroom with a crack. To her delight, Hermione seemingly had missed her just as much and immediately latched on to her lips, pulling at her shirt. Tonks found the many questions bubbling inside her fading away as Hermione managed to fumble the button of her jeans open and slip a hand between her legs and found herself whimpering again. Her witch let out a moan and quickly slipped two fingers inside and curled them and latched on to her neck with a breathy "oh god your so wet" and Tonks nearly came then and there, letting out a gasp as Hermione stroked her fingers firmly inside her setting a harsh pace. She felt her muscles tense, far too quickly, and her breath hitched in her throat as her body responded to the feel of a hand tangled pulling in her hair, pushing rhythmically between her legs and teeth on her neck as she came, hard, throwing her head back with a string of cursewords that should her mother have overheard would no doubt have resulted in yet another howler.

Gasping air greedily into her lungs to force some semblance of recovery she managed to flip the younger witch beneath her as she hitched up her school skirt, still half dazed, and firmly ground her knee against Hermione's core as the witch beneath her rolled her hips involuntarily and pinned the younger witches hands above her head, managing a smug smirk. "I see you are suffering similarly" she offered with a raised eyebrow, grinding her knee against sodden underwear teasingly and chuckling as Hermione glared intensely at her with dilated eyes, another teasing movement of her leg resulted in another involuntary roll of the hips against her leg from the younger witch and she smirked again. "Ah now, whats the magic word sweets?" she grinned, lowering her chest until she laid atop her and latched onto an earlobe with her teeth and tugged gently.

"Get on with it before I murder you in a fit of sexual frustration?" Hermione growled and struggled against her.

"Well since you asked so nicely" Tonks replied cheekily before kissing her and quickly slipping a hand into her underwear. As she expertly tweaked gently at her witches clit before similarly slipping two fingers inside her dripping core she felt Hermione moan into her mouth and twitched beneath her. Using her thumb to rub against the sensitive nub as she pumped in and out with slick digits she delighted in the breathy little moans as she quickly came undone in her hands and Tonks collapsed onto the bed beside her and watched quietly as she regained her composure rolling onto her side.

"Now, not that I'm complaining but what the hell are you doing here?" she inquired.

"It's a long story" Hermione muttered contentedly, pulling her mussed hair out of her face and adjusting a pillow behind her head as her girlfriend simply quirked an eyebrow. She quickly (and a bit vaguely, Tonks thought) explained she had managed to escape detention by giving Umbridge a rash to amused chuckles.

"Ah, so its your fault I'm to be murdered by my mother tomorrow" she sighed dramatically before pulling Hermione's thankfully uninjured hand to her face and kissing it gently. "McGonogall saved your hide and dobbed me in!"

"I would just like to take this opportunity to point out that if you hadn't been such a delinquent while you were at school Professor McGonogall wouldn't be on first name terms with your mother and this would be a non-issue" Hermione replied, raising her eyebrows and her eyes twinkling with mischief. "And, if I hadn't been well aware you'd be moping around needing cheering up in headquarters of the Order you your mother forbade you to join you would, similarly, be in far less trouble with your mother whom, might I add, sounds absolutely terrifying."

"Please" Tonks snorted."You'll be the best date I've ever brought home, my folks will love you. You'll escape perfectly intact, it's just a pity you will be widowed at such a young age. Promise me you'll never love another? I don't believe in any of that 'move on' rubbish, I expect you to mourn me for life. In fact I think I'd rather like you to find a taxidermist to stuff my remains and you can keep me around to hang coats on and have me enchanted to scare other potential suitors off." She grinned as Hermione burst out laughing.

"I'm sure the girls in my common room or my parents would love that" she spluttered.

"How did you even get in to the house?" Tonk's asked.

"Well I'd arranged for Harry, Ron and the twins to cover for me with a distraction and after I got out of school I went down to the Hogs Head and tried to Floo in but the grate was blocked or something, so I went to Platform 9 ¾ and walked. Once I got inside I just said hello to an amused Sirius and took your wards down just in time to catch the tail end of your howler."

"Are you bloody mental?" Tonks scolded. "Between old Voldie and his minions as well as all the dodgy drunk normal folk stumbling around in the dead of night you could've been murdered or something!" She stared defiantly as Hermione narrowed her eyes.

"What are you trying to say?" Hermione demanded irritably. "It was less than 2 miles walk! I had a invisibility cloak, two wands and several throwing knives. I'm quite capable of protecting myself, I'll have you know!"

Tonks debated internally whether to push the matter or submit. Noting the sudden spike of magic in the room she decided on the later and sighed, squeezing Hermione's arm.

"I know you are, I'm sorry love" she exhaled. "It's just been such a shit of a day and I can't bear the thought of anything happening to you, especially the idea of it happening to you because you snuck out of Hogwarts and crossed the Uniting Kingdom to come visit me. If I even survived the guilt I'm sure McGonogall, the Weasleys and Harry would have my head as well." She felt relief wash over her as Hermione's face softened. "Plus I don't know any good taxidermists, I don't know how I'd go getting you stuffed for the entrance foyer." Tonks smiled widely as she saw her partner try and fail to cover a smirk and they both giggled.

"Tonks, if anything ever was to happen to me I want you to swear you wont have me stuffed" she said solemnly and the older gave her a look of mock pleading.

"What about just…turning your hair into a wig or something that I could wear when I missed you?" she asked mischievously, tugging gently at a curl and Hermione laughed again.

"You are such a git, Tonks. No creepy death wigs either" she snorted.

"A statue in your honor?"

"Fine. As long as it's not in the bedroom."

"Deal!" Tonks replied before chuckling. "God I can't believe how much better I feel with you here, sweets" she mumbled.

"Mmhmm me too" Hermione murmured in agreement. "I suppose on that note we should discuss the other reason I'm here. How we are going to break your aunt out of Azkaban."

"Break her out? God you bloody are mental!" Tonks replied in shock. Hermione, thankfully either ignored her or didn't hear her and had got up and began pacing around the bedroom and, despite the definite horror that she had felt at Hermione's statement she couldn't help but grin at the sight.

"There isn't any legal way to get her out, I know the Professors looked into it and I spent most of the afternoon looking into way's myself but there's nothing. So if we're going to get her out it will have to be a...less legal way."

"I don't think I've ever had a girlfriend or boyfriend willing to break into a high security prison in the middle of the North Sea for me to release an infamous Death Eater before" Tonks mused aloud.

"I should think not" Hermione snorted. "But I've spent most of the day thinking about our options. Basically, we have three ways we could go. Somehow make it look like she's died and get her out is one. We'd need a Draught of Living Death or something supplied to her and to hope that no one checked thoroughly then obviously intercept her before shes cremated or whatever it is they do on Azkaban. Our second option is to do a swap like Barty Crouch but that wouldn't be a long term solution unless we can somehow find someone willing to spend life in prison pretending to be Bellatrix Lestrange. Lastly we could just break her out and hope they never find her but then she would be in the same boat as Sirius. I mean, even when she gets out we need to somehow get her a new identity, which will be tricky as well. And I don't know how the Dark Mark works but I feel as though Voldemort somehow tracking her through it and finding out she's free and alive and not with him would not be a good thing. At least we didn't have that problem with Sirius" Tonks shuddered and nodded in agreement.

Hermione resumed her frantic pacing before shooting Tonks a slightly defensive look. "Well?"

"Shhh I'm thinking!" Tonks cried and Hermione relaxed somewhat.

"That's good. I was worried you would make fun of me or refuse to listen or something" she mumbled.

"Never! Or not for something like this anyway" Tonks replied seriously. "Okay I need to visualise this. Bare with me." she quickly conjured a large board and scrawled "Azkaban" "Dark Mark" and titles for the three options and turned to give her girlfriend a look who was gazing at her adoringly.

"Alright, lets get to work" Hermione smiled and picked up a marker.

0x0x0

Hermione straightened her blouse and skirt and quickly checked her reflection in the mirror as she stepped into the entrance past Mrs Blacks portrait and endeavored to ignore her girlfriend's suggestive eyebrows.

"Stop it" she hissed quietly. "I have no intention of meeting your mother looking like I've been for a roll in the hay!"

"But we have been for a roll in the hay" Tonks quietly replied with a grin. "Well, not the hay, I suppose. Just the bed. And the floor. And the shower this morning. And - " she stopped with a chuckle as Hermione swatted her arm giving her a warning look before she felt herself being pulled in to a warm embrace and a kiss to the top of her head. "Stop fretting you look beautiful as always. Mum will love you. It's me we should be worried about."

Hermione fought down a flush and wrapped her arms around Tonks and whispered her thanks as her girlfriend mumbled something that sounded distinctly like 'lets get this shitshow over with'. Stepping out the front door Tonks offered her an arm and she felt the tug of disapparation before they suddenly appeared with a crack outside a small cottage with a beautiful garden.

"I've never had the patience for gardening" Hermione said quietly. "Your mother must be very...zen to find the time to maintain it." And surely not the type to murder anyone she thought wistfully to herself. Tonks caught her eye and shot her a smirk as if she had read her mind.

"All the freshly turned soil makes burying the bodies of her victims easier" Tonks replied cheekily as they stepped to the front porch and Hermione scowled up at her and swatted at her arm again only to have it swing open and Tonks winced to find herself swatted again over the head with a rolled up magazine.

"Nymphadora! I won't have you letting guests to our home think I have bodies in the garden." The spitting image of Bellatrix Lestrange stepped into view, only with slightly softer features, brown hair and no prison tattoos hissed before turning to give Hermione a broad grin. "You must be Hermione, Minerva has told me all about you dear, do come in."

"Thank you Mrs Tonks" Hermione replied politely.

"Bah! None of that, Andy is fine love. Now, coffee or tea?"

"Coffee please" Hermione and Tonks both stated in unison and gave each other a quick grin. Andromeda rolled her eyes.

"And why, Nymphadora, should I be going to the trouble of making you coffee while you lead your date to believe I have murder victims in your fathers garden?" Andromeda stated dryly.

"Because I love you?" Tonks replied, stepping forward and giving her mother a firm hug who maintained her hard look, before stepping back and grasping her by the shoulders, attempting to make herself look cute. "And you make the best coffee, even better than the cafes on Diagon Alley and in Hogsmede. And I'm your favorite child. And I know how much you live for me bringing people home for you to interrogate and try to scare away but I finally found someone you wont completely loathe! Look how pretty and smart she is mum! ...Almost as smart and pretty as you! And…." she started trailing off, clearly trying to think of more reasons to endear herself to her mother while Hermione stood awkwardly in the doorway, torn between embarrassment and amusement. "And... I've really missed you these past few weeks! And - "

"Does she prattle on like this to you too?" Andromeda asked, cutting off Tonks mid spiel.

"I usually put a silencing spell on her when she does." Hermione grinned and gave Tonks a wink who turned to face her shooting her a comically wounded look.

"Now that's an idea" Andy winked. "That will do pet, come in to the dining room and make yourself at home. I'll get the baby photos while the water boils."

"MUM!"

0x0x0

Some time later, after a coffee, snacks and midway through a second pot of tea, Hermione found herself significantly more relaxed and chuckled as Andromeda finished reading out sections of what she called 'The Misdemeanour Book' from Tonks' time at Hogwarts. Tonks tried to bite back her anxiety at how the day was turning out and the tention radiating from her girlfriend but when Hermione leaned over to squeeze her leg and smile lightly at her it was hard to ignore the way Tonks' face lit up. It certainly wasn't missed by Andromeda.

"I must say, Hermione, I didn't quite know what to expect when Minerva told me Nymphadora was dating a 5th year student but, if anything, I think you would bring some much needed maturity into Nymphadora's life" she mused aloud, sipping from her cup.

"I'm actually almost 17 thanks to being a year older than most of my classmates when I attended and I had some use of a time turner during my 3rd year. My birthday isn't really relevant any more but I don't mind. Things are going quite well for me at the moment, I must say."

"Is that so? Despite the face that, from what I hear, you are best friends with the Boy-Who-Lived, are being terrorized by that cretin Dolores Umbridge and had to spend the bulk of the Summer Break in hiding at the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix?" She shot her daughter A Look at the last point and Tonks winced.

"Honestly? Harry is a wonderful boy. You couldn't find a better friend even if he has been a tad...turbulent of late. Umbridge is nothing I can't handle provided I keep my wits about me and the Order...well I went to stay there with the goal of staying safe and keeping my family safe and I would like to think it's something I can work within and do some good. Plus if I hadn't gone I wouldn't have met your daughter, of course."

"And what sort of good have you been doing?" Andromeda asked and Hermione was pleased she had taken the time to discuss the matter with Tonks and agree to not bring up their plans for Bellatrix.

"Training. Tonks has been a massive help, as was Sirius during the break. Dueling, self defense, mind arts. That sort of thing."

"But no help from your Headmaster?" Andromeda asked pointedly. Hermione sighed.

"No. Umbridge isn't the only one I keep my wits about me around." Hermione answered honestly and Andromeda nodded thoughtfully. "He hasn't offered and I haven't asked." Thankfully Tonks piped up and saved her from the dangerous territory.

"I've been teaching her the whole Black Family range, mum. She's a wicked shot with a knife" Tonks grinned.

"Have you just? Planning on making her a part of the family are we?" Andromeda asked, a mischievous glint in her eye that revealed to Hermione where Tonks had inherited it from.

"Yep" Tonks stated firmly, popping the P. Hermione promptly inhaled her tea and spluttered spectacularly. Tonks promptly glanced at her, obviously fearing she had said the wrong thing, but exhaled with relief when Hermione could only beam at her. To her surprise, Andromeda could only laugh loudly.

"Oh, I can see why Minerva is so fearful of whats left of her sanity, you two are quite a pair" she laughed loudly. "Speaking of which I'm under firm instruction to have you Floo back in to her office from here after lunch so I'm going to pop out and run some errands and let you have some alone time for an hour or so until I return." Andromeda promptly excused herself and with a crack disappeared.

"Well that wasn't so bad" Hermione said happily as Tonks slid onto the lounge next to her and she rested a head on her shoulder.

"I suspect she's saving my interrogation until you go" Tonks laughed. "Come on, I'll give you a tour of the house."

Hermione smiled as she was escorted through the kitchen and down the hall past the master bedroom and towards Tonks' bedroom. It was similar to her bedroom at Grimmauld Place, in that there was stuff everywhere but it was homely and clean despite the clutter.

"Mum won't step foot in here now, she just opens the door and throws things" she snorted. "I think she was hoping it would motivate me to learn some basic house cleaning charms but I remain unteachable."

She found herself pushed onto the bed where they thoroughly enjoyed a lengthy makeout session until a loud crack indicated Andromeda had returned and they hastily adjusted their clothing as Andromeda arrived in the doorway and shot them a knowing smirk.

"Alright ladies, sorry to tear apart such potent, young love but its back to school for you. I'm sure I will see you again very soon" Andromeda smiled warmly at Hermione before pulling her into a hug. Tonks gave her a chaste kiss goodbye and they both embraced like they didn't want to let go until Hermione begrudgingly stepped into the Floo. She bit back a laugh as she saw Andromeda throw Tonks a stern look as she pointed at the lounge and found herself whisked into the McGonogall's office.

"Ah, Miss Granger. Recovered from your rash I see?" McGonogall asked with the barest hint of a smile.

"Yes, thank you Professor"

"Perfect. Well if you would like to take a seat I have it on good authority from the portraits that Professor Umbridge has been stalking through the castle searching for you so if you would be able to bring yourself looking slightly less lovestruck and slightly more troubled I would appreciate it given that she is due any -"

A loud knock sounded at the door and Hermione quickly schooled her features into one of sorrow before taking a seat at the desk and pulling a piece of parchment to her and a quill just as the door was thrown open.

"And to show the message has well and truly sunk in Miss Granger, a 4 foot essay on the history of...Metamorphmagi is expected on my desk this time next week. Understood?"

"Yes Professor" Hermione replied quietly.

"Miss Granger! Where have you been today? Your peers have advised me you have been in the library, the school infirmary and practicing your flying at the Quidditch pitch and I have been unable to locate you."

"Well I've been here Professor, serving my detention. When did you start your search?" Hermione asked.

"8:30am. I must say this is very hard to believe Miss Granger" Umbridge sneered.

"Well thats how long I've been here then, being spoken to by Professor McGonogall."

"And where is the evidence of this detention?"

"It was more of a lecture" Hermione offered hesitantly. She thought she saw McGonogall roll her eyes in her peripheral vision.

"For five hours?" Umbridge asked, eyebrow raised imperiously.

"That is correct, Dolores. Now if there is nothing else you have to add I would like to finish my detention with Miss Granger. She shall be finished by 5pm." Hermione winced.

"A 9 hour detention, Minerva? Very well then, I suppose that is satisfactory" Umbridge muttered and strode from the room. Hermione turned to look at her favorite Professor.

"You will be helping me mark the 1st - 3rd year Transfiguration homework Miss Granger. Silly girl. I was going to tell her that you had been polishing the trophies next door. Now you've set a precedent for five hour lectures" she muttered.

"That...would have made more sense Professor. I'm sorry."

"Be warned, they are truly appalling" McGonogall stated, handing a large stack of parchment over and Hermione reached for a red ink pot. They worked in companionable silence for the bulk of the next few hours and Hermione found she didn't really mind the work despite the truly terrible grammar, writing and complete lack of rubbish most of them droned on about and relished the time to ponder the Bellatrix issue. To her amusement, as 4:00pm drew close McGonogall shot her a considering look before rising from her desk where she had been hunched over the papers she was grading and transformed into a cat, arching and cracking her back loudly before returning to her usual self and taking a seat at her desk again.

"I don't think I will ever find that not amazing" Hermione admitted.

"I feel quite the same Miss Granger" McGonogall smiled. "You would certainly possess the fortitude to undertake such a task as becoming an Anamagi yourself. Once you are of age, with proper tutelage" she hastened to correct herself seeing her students face as it grew thoughtful.

"Of course, Professor. Thank you for...well everything these past few days really" she stated honestly.

"You are most welcome Miss Granger, and you are free to go back to the common room before dinner now. Do take care" she added seriously and Hermione nodded firmly.

She entered the common room only to be quickly dragged into a private corner by Harry and the Weasleys. "Thanks for covering for me guys" she said quietly and handed Harry back his Invisibility Cloak who pocketed it.

"You're most welcome. We had a great deal of fun with causing a distraction last night as you left" one of the twins announced. She shot them a slightly concerned look and Ginny snorted.

"They charmed one of the corridors near her office into this slippery surface, like an ice skating rink" Harry offered. "People have been stacking it all day."

"I walked past the infirmary earlier and poor old Pomfrey looked like she wanted to kill someone" Ron stated. "Now, how was Tonks?" he asked, raising his eyebrows suggestively. Hermione shot Harry a glare who had the sense to wince.

"I'm sorry, they wouldn't stop asking me or let it go" he mumbled. "Thats all I told them though, I swear!"

"What else is there to know?" Ginny cried and Hermione facepalmed. Harry winced again.

"Look it isn't as though we are purposely keeping secrets okay, I trust all of you. But if you want any more details you need to work on your Occlumency barriers." Ron rolled his eyes.

"Come on Hermione. What could possibly be so important?" he asked sarcastically.

"It's life or death" she replied firmly and watched as he looked incredulously at her before looking to Harry who simply nodded.

"Oh alright then I'll work on the bloody barriers. We all will. Right guys?" Red heads collectively nodded. "But then I want to hear all about Tonks" Ron said, ducking as Hermione went to swat at him.

"Excuse our perverted brother Granger" George said "but its time for the real questions. How did the candy go?"

"Perfect. If you could improve the taste that would be better but beggars cant be choosers."

"Yes, we know they're, well, revolting really. It's not like we haven't tried" Fred said, rubbing his chin.

"I can help, I owe you one" Hermione offered and the group stared at her in surprise.

"Our little Hermione, all grown up! Disregarding the rules, helping us with pranks, sneaking out of school to see her secret girlfriend. We couldn't be more proud" George whispered theatrically.

"All right, that's enough out of the lot of you. I'm going to dinner now if you want to join me" Hermione replied. As they all promptly dropped their shocked faces and followed her towards the Great Hall she grinned at the thought that if there was one way she knew to motivate a Weasley, it was food.

0x0x0

Tonks stumbled as she stepped through the front door to Grimmauld Place that afternoon after what had been a very trying conversation with her mother, then again when her father got home from work. Thankfully she had eventually managed to make them both understand: no, she had never joined the Order out of any loyalty to Dumbledore and had no intention of being swindled, and yes she was aware she needed to be quite aware of what he asked of her and yes she was looking after herself and no it wasn't having a negative impact on her Trainee Auror program BUT she needed to do something about Voldemort and she could do very little alone and very little at work when the Ministry continued to deny his return and the Order was really her only option. Of course, for the time being she negated to mention that the Order was slowly splintering and she was running her own secret agenda with her secret girlfriend within the secret organisation.

"Nymphadora! How was your day?" Sirius asked cheerfully and dodged as she swatted at his arm.

"Don't call me that, all I've been hearing all day is 'Nymphadora' this and 'Nymphadora that'" she scowled. "Mum was on the warpath.I've had to be on my best behaviour for far too long."

"Ah, how is Andy?" Sirius asked wistfully. "God I'm so sick of this stupid old house. What I wouldn't give to visit her" he grumbled as he kicked at the corner of the lounge, scowling himself.

"Why don't you then?" Tonks asked suddenly, her face brightening as she stopped to consider what he had said.

"Dumbledore forbidded me. Forbade? Forbidded-ed? Ah, he said no. Too dangerous to leave" he muttered looking sullen.

"Who cares? We don't like Dumbledore anymore, remember?" she asked with a grin.

"But what am I meant to do if someone comes looking for me?" he asked.

"There's about 15 people who even know you are here and aren't hiding in Russia plotting more mass murder or something, are you expecting company?" she asked with a cheeky look as his face suddenly brightened.

"You're right! We don't like him any more, do we?" he mused, rubbing his chin. "Alright, stuff it. I'm going to sneak out and go and visit my favorite cousin. But don't tell anyone, especially Dumbledore. Or Harry. Or Moony" he warned, wagging a finger at her. "I don't want to deal with anyones reaction if they found out."

"Not only is your secret safe with me Mr Black, but I can do you one better" Tonks offered and promptly squinted her features and morphed into his spitting image. "Ta da!"

"Brilliant!" Sirius cried. "I could kiss you!"

"Please don't" she grimaced. "I look just like you and we're related and that's a little weird, even for my taste."

Sirius simply cackled loudly and charged out the front door, disappearing with a crack and Tonks chuckled, taking a seat on the lounge and kicking her feet up and reached for her magazine and sighed contentedly, hoping this made her mother less angry with her as opposed to more.

Chapter Text

“Miss Granger! Please stay behind after class to discuss this appalling essay” Professor Snape drawled towards the end of her Potions class some weeks later and she glanced at him in horror. Hermione was struck with terror as she frantically tried to recall what possible mistake she could have made on an essay about Polyjuice Potion for goodness sake. She could brew it in her sleep! Packing her items up slowly she drifted to his desk with a look of shame as the other students trailed out of the classroom shooting her confused looks excluding Lavender Brown who shoved her books off her desk as she walked past. Hermione grit her teeth.

“Miss Granger” he sighed and she stiffened, preparing herself for a bollocksing. “I feel as though it should go without saying that your essay was perfectly acceptable, I was merely keeping you here after class in order to speak in private, following our discussion some weeks ago” he stated, rolling his eyes, and she relaxed before flushing with embarrassment.

“Oh. Well that’s a relief then.” He rolled his eyes.

“We have a few matters to discuss. Professor Flitwick has approached me with Potter’s idea regarding a dueling class for the school. Surprisingly, I have managed to have Dolores agree to it under the guise of using it as an excuse to allow her to train up her Inquisitorial Squad against what she presumes to be the useless remainder of the school. It will begin tomorrow evening and occur every Friday at 7pm for willing students. ”

“Inquisitorial Squad?” Hermione asked, brow furrowing.

“Yes. Dolores is creating a squad of lackeys to ‘assist’ the Prefects” he stated in thinly veiled disgust and Hermione bit back a giggle at his look of utter revulsion. “Rest assured they will be as power mad, vicious and useless as the Ministry itself. However, please try to refrain from hexing my godson too badly. Understand that Draco is under a significant amount of pressure this year” he said pointedly and Hermione suddenly understood why he was explaining this to her and not Harry. He might be privately warming to Professor Snape but Draco Malfoy was another matter altogether.

“I understand, Professor.”

“Secondly, I have obtained the information you requested regarding the Dark Mark. Please know that I am well aware it does not make for ‘interesting bedtime reading’ as you so claimed in your note however do not tell my why you need the information for the sake of my sanity” he scowled and she forced herself to school her features and simply nodded.

“We have one more matter to discuss” he said before sighing and closing his eyes. “Some of the Dark Lords followers have been discussing that He intends to raid Azkaban for his Death Eaters within the next three weeks. I have advised the Headmaster who has advised Fudge who has, predictably, done nothing. I am now advising you so that you may pre-warn Andromeda, Nymphadora and Black.” She paled and nodded again.

“Do you think a break out will make the Ministry believe that He has returned?” she asked quietly.

“No. I believe he will blame it on Black being the only other known escapee in the past decade, should the Dark Lord succeed. I suspect he will continue to favor subtlety until his power is unable to be matched.”

“Thank you Professor. You’ve given me a lot to think about” she murmured quietly.

“You are welcome. You are also dismissed” he drawled and she stood to leave.

“Please be careful, Professor” she stated suddenly, turning to face him from the doorway. She watched as surprise flitted across his face briefly before he nodded at her silently and she strode quickly back to the common room. Things were about to come to a head far sooner than she had wanted, she could only hope they were prepared.

0x0x0

Tonks reached for her pulsing diary and after lightly swiping her finger with a knife to open it she read the message from Hermione and promptly dropped it in surprise, cursing loudly, before picking it up again to reply.

Well, sweets. That’s not good news. I was hoping to have been at Azkaban for a few more rounds to minimize any chance of suspicion if the plan goes to shit but looks like we need to risk it sooner. When?

Tonks briefly recalled the memory of getting herself sent to do her shifts at Azkaban assisting the Dementors. It was both disturbingly easy and amusing – all it took was getting her unit commander in a terrible mood to get the most resented rostered patrol area in all of the DMLE and she had taken significant pleasure in ‘accidentally’ tipping hot coffee all over the crotch of that grumpy old miser Rufus Scrimgeour the day before he was due to submit the months roster.

xxx

Tonks, I don’t really think we can organise things any more than we already have. When is your next night shift? I can’t stand the thought of leaving it too late. I especially don’t love the idea of being halfway through busting her out when Voldemort shows up.

xxx

Tonight and tomorrow are my last night shifts this week. Next week I have the 10pm – 10am shifts Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.Are you sure you want to do this love? Its not too late to back out.

xxx

Entirely sure. Meet me at the shrieking shack that Friday afternoon after I finish class and we can get organised before you start that night. That will give us the weekend before I need to be back at Hogwarts in case anything comes up. I’ll work out an excuse to cover my absence.

xxx

I bloody adore you Hermione Granger, don’t ever forget that. No matter what happens.

xxx

You know I adore you too love. Now you’ll have to excuse me so I can start getting organised.

0x0x0

The week passed in a blur of nerves for Hermione and, judging from her brief and somewhat panicked notes in her diary, Tonks as well. She had dutifully had Harry forge letters for Umbridge to intercept every second day or so since Snape’s revelation pretending to be from her mother detailing her aunt’s rapidly declining health and when she approached Professor McGonoogall, trying her best to ignore her shrewd look, in front of Umbridge and Dumbledore in the Great Hall there were no complaints or issues with her being absent for the weekend. Unfortunately, Professor McGonogall insisted on escorting her to Hogsmeade where her ‘mother’ was meant to be picking her up where they could Floo to London and after exchanging pleasantries for the first few minutes of the 20 minute walk to Hogsmeade Hermione was suffering a severe case of The Guilts which she was sure were radiating from her every pore.

“I do hope everything is alright, Miss Granger” McGonogall offered and Hermione did her best not to burst into tears from the anxiety of the whole situation. McGonogall herself obviously caught her expression and seemed torn between comforting her if what she had been told was accurate and pressing for details on what she was clearly suspicious was some sort of plot.

“I’m alright Professor, just a little overwhelmed” Hermione offered quietly.

“And how is young Nymphadora?” she asked.

“A prat as always” Hermione replied, a grin crossing her features.

“Hmmm. I do hope she manages to be some support during this time” McGonogall offered and all Hermione could think was ‘you have no idea’.

To her relief, upon stepping into Hogsmeade they quickly found Marion Granger, or Tonks in disguise, and she seemed to be taking her role seriously appearing both appropriately dressed and upset. A brief conversation later Hermione walked away feeling quite confident that despite Tonks’ awe-inspiring skills that McGonogall was still slightly suspicious and they disappeared with a crack to pack and prepare.

0x0x0

Tonks and Hermione, after putting up the appropriate wards, quickly began casting re-enforcing and disillusioning charms on the small boat that she and Hermione had ‘borrowed’ from the marina a few kilometeres away and Tonks, her hair occasionally flicking though colours due to nerves at what they were about to attempt, sighed when she saw the creases in her girlfriends brow as they worked.

“Alright sweets, before I send you off will we run through the plan again?” she said before pulling the younger witch into her arms and placing a chaste kiss to her temple. Hermione breathed deeply and slowly exhaled and when she looked up to face Tonks she reached a hand up to cup her face, smiling brightly at the look of determination on her face as she began recounting what was to occur while Tonks patiently let her recount what they had spent the past few sleepless nights going over for the millionth time.

The plan in itself was meant to be quite simple though not without its faults. Azkaban and the seas surrounding it had magical suppression wards covering almost every inch of it meaning only the most basic of spells could be used by anyone on the site. The only way in or out was a Portkey and staff were required to Portkey directly from the Ministry after signing in, and clocking out at the Ministry when shifts were complete. Hermione was to sail to the prison which would take a good few hours, following a tracking spell linked to a map of the North Sea Tonks had managed to cast on Warden Rossington the week prior and given that the place was Unplottable since its inception would allow her to motor her way to the area and position herself near the cliffs using a variant of the Homonculos Charm that was used on the Mauraders Map. Given Hermione was still under age, by only a few weeks, she should not trigger any alarms.

Tonks would be causing a distraction to make the bulk of the staff and Dementors head to the East of the Prison in the lower security area which was merely a precaution given that barely anyone went to the Supermax area where Bellatrix was located excluding the Dementors themselves who couldn’t see and Tonks could cast a Patronus to make them leave her alone which was fairly standard prison staff behavior. Hermione had cast questionably legal undetectable extension charms on her jackets pocket and placed, of all things, a shrunken muggle life jacket with a portkey set to the boat which would send her out of the cell and prison but within the prison wards to not trigger any alarms. Should the portkey not land her in the boat, the life jacket itself would come in handy. Unless she portkeyed into the cliff face, which Tonks certainly didn’t want to think about. Hermione would get her on the boat. Tonks would ‘notice’ that Bellatrix wasn’t in her cell seeming appropriately panicked, the guards and Dementors would search the island and would be alerted to a smashed up ‘corpse’ on the rocks below which would be washed out to sea after being adequately noticed by the prison staff thanks to a well timed augumenti charm from Hermione who would remain in her disillusioned boat, herself disillusioned and with the Invisibility Cloak covering her aunt. If she was dead the Dementors would be no use assessing the body requiring actual humans to clamber down the precarious cliff to check if it was indeed Bellatrix Lestrange who had died attempting to escape and the chances of that happening were slim to none, particularly if enough people watched the body be swept under the waves. When they passed the wards might sound but this could be easily passed off as the corpse drifting through the currents under the water. Tonks would finish her shift and come back to the shore they were departing on and then apparate everyone away from the boat shed Hermione would hide in with Bellatrix until Tonks could return should she be required to finish her shift though it was unlikely – once notified of an escape everyone would be questioned and sent away to allow a fresh impartial team of Aurors to investigate. Should they question her, unlikely given the fact that her aunt and mother were notoriously estranged, she had a few more tricks up her sleeve.

Despite the amount of highly illegal things they were doing Tonks had found herself quite enjoying aspects of the project despite the potential consequences making her so nervous she could vomit. After discussing sacrificing an animal which they could transfigure into looking like a human both Hermione and Tonks had decided they didn’t have the stomach to throw it off the cliff, in addition it seemed unlikely she would manage to be able to keep something big enough and alive in her pocket without anyone noticing, managing large enough Transfiguration would be impossible with the magic suppression wards, and the risk of some creature escaping back into the prison that didn’t belong would certainly be hard to explain. Tonks had therefore had a brainwave, which Hermione had begrudgingly agreed to despite calling it ‘creepy’ and ‘a stain on womens battles against misogyny’. The clerk at the muggle adult store had given her quite a strange look when she had gleefully purchased the inflatable girlfriend that she had named ‘Aireka’, a name she found much more amusing than Hermione had. She was also pleased with managing to make a realistic looking prison garb outfit and blood stains should anyone think to quickly look with omnioculars, doubtful though it was, followed by conducting experiments on dropping her - “It, Tonks! Not ‘her’, it!” - from great heights in order to make her as a corpse much more believable when it was levitated down the cliff face. She had also enjoyed planning the distraction which she had promised Hermione would be able to notice from her boat and warn her to keep a look out for a portkeyed inmate.

“Alright Tonks. Have we got everything we need?” Hermione asked, finishing running though the plan for the final time.

“Yep.”

“”Cloak?”

“Check!”

“Basic first aid potions?”

“Check!”

“Life jacket?”

“Check!”

“Map?”

“Check!”

“Blankets?”

“Check!”

“Doll?”

“What? Oh you mean Aireka. Yes, I have her.”

“Tonks!” Hermione hissed in irritation. “Stop humanising the doll!” Tonks could only chuckle.

“You don’t need to be jealous of her, sweets. It’s you I love.” She grinned widely at the glare her witch shot her. “Don’t worry. In a few hours Aireka will be out of our lives for good. You won’t have to compete with her any more.”

“You are an absolute prat Nymphadora Tonks” Hermione replied, rolling her eyes and mumbling something under her breath about ‘enjoying crime too much’ and ‘bloody mental Blacks’. Tonk’s muggle watch beeped and Hermione sighed.

“Time for you to set off, my love. You okay? No second thoughts?” Tonks asked.

“What, and risk your horrible inflatable new girlfriend being a part of our lives forever? Absolutely not.” Hermione had insisted and Tonks was relieved to see the glimmer of a smile through her nerves.

“Alright then, lets get this done.” Pulling her witch in for a bruising kiss, which she was pleased was reciprocated despite the teasing, Tonks escorted her to the water and assisted her in starting the engine and with a push and a little wave, apparated home to try not to worry about her witch being killed at sea before her shift.

0x0x0

Hermione quickly sailed North towards the Prison and tried to fight down the anxiety she was feeling. Despite the planning there were still so many things that could go wrong and she was sure that she hadn’t even thought of half of them despite her obsessing. The one that made her the most nervous, however was the fact that she had no way to communicate with Tonks, only the idea that if nothing happened by 5am she would need to head back to shore to try again another day. She shivered as the salty spray hit her as she commandeered her boat, grateful to her parents for the sailing they had done in her youth and the charms they had cast to stop it being thrown around so much in the water. It had become obvious fairly quickly that boats this size were not meant to be taken this far to sea.

Feeling her heats still pounding in her chest she forced herself to take a few deep breaths and think of something more pleasant than her potential immanent demise or arrest and back to a conversation she had with Ginny earlier in the week.

“You alright, Mione?” Ginny asked after sneaking into her dorms seeing Lavender and Pavarti leaving in a huff having been scolded by Hermione for being so noisy when she was trying to study.

“Yes, I’m alright Gin” she sighed. “Thank you though, for asking. It means a lot to me.”

“It’s what friends do. I can see somethings bothering you but I just want you to know I’m here if you need me.” To Ginny’s apparent horror and surprise Hermione had promptly burst into tears. Her friend quickly had pulled Hermione’s head into her lap and murmured soothing things and rubbed her back until Hermione had been able to breath again. “You clearly are fine” Ginny drawled eventually. “You seem perfect.”

“Ginny where would you...where would you draw the line at something you would and wouldn’t do?” she whispered.

“Moral crisis?” Ginny asked calmly and Hermione nodded. “I would do whatever it took to protect my family. Whatever it took.”

“Even if it was something...illegal? Something dangerous that some people wouldn’t understand?” Hermione had asked hesitantly and it had been Ginny’s turn to sigh as she ran a hand through her long hair before her face hardened somewhat.

“A war is coming. Even if barely anyone wants to admit it. There is going to be good people who suffer. I want them to suffer too. The Death Eaters. People like Umbridge. People are suffering, or have suffered in the past already.” Hermione nodded thinking of the families that had been hurt, students in her own school – just children. And not just them, entire families torn apart or devastated - Potter, Longbottom Bones’, Black, Prewett, Weasley...the list kept going.

“I’ve already suffered under Voldemort” Ginny said coolly and Hermione was faintly surprised by the fierce look in her eyes. “He possessed me for a year. I won’t be taking anything lying down again and I won’t let anyone I love get hurt if I can help it. Its worth the risk, to protect good people. The law wouldn’t stop me, neither would the Ministry. I won’t say I’d go around killing people in cold blood or flinging crucios around” – Hermione tried not to visibly wince at the reference to Bellatrix Lestrange - “but if I had to hurt someone who hurt me or mine, even kill someone...I would do it.”

Hermione found herself strengthened by the resolve in her friends voice and pulled her in for a hug, whispering her thanks.

“I don’t know what you’re planning, ‘Mione, but you are the smartest person I know and one of the most...good. I’d trust your instinct. Go with your gut. Whatever it is you think you need to do – do it. Don’t hold back. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go and live my life to the fullest and go find Anthony Goldstein and make out with him under the bleachers for a while. And one of these days I expect some stories about how you’ve been living your life to the fullest with our favorite Metamorphmagus, we don’t have these girl chats nearly enough.” Hermione snorted and grinned as Ginny walked out of the room with a jaunty little wave and she reached for her diary, deciding to draw an inappropriate picture for her witch for once with a short message underneath.

‘Tonks, I’d do anything for you.’

Hermione found herself torn from the memory as she passed through the Azkaban wards and shivered at the tingle of magic in the air and her nerves, feeling her hair crackle like static around head and cursed her infernal bushy locks. No alarm was sounding so that could only be a good thing even if her hair would be entirely unmanageable for the next few days. Pulling up a short while later near the cliff face and dropping anchor she checked her watch, noting it was around 12am and Tonks should be on shift now and grabbed a blanket. Time for the waiting game. She pulled out her Omnioculars and scanned the headland and took a swig from her borrowed hot pink thermos full of coffee, smiling. It did taste better when someone else made it.

Around an hour later she cocked her head to the side and reached for her Omioculars before stopping to listen. Was that…Wham?

0x0x0

Tonks had dutifully apparated to the Ministry, made herself quite the strong coffee, clocked in, reading over a few reports before Auror Russell Keyes appeared with a flash of blue light ready for handover.

“Alright Tonksie?” he asked with a grin.

“Wotcher Russ” she winked and nodded her head towards the door. “Smoke?”

“A woman after my own heart” he chuckled and followed her onto the balcony, accepting the cigarette

“So how was the land of nightmares this evening?” she asked.

“Ugh” he replied with a shudder. “God I hate that joint. I’ll never piss of Scrimgeour again if I can avoid landing back there. No dramas, just the same old misery, shite weather and screams.”

“Fantastic” Tonks said blandly. “What sort of mood can I expect Rossington to be in tonight?”

“Cunt-ish as usual” he scowled. “Bloody great git he is. Sitting in his stupid fuckin’ office listening to the bloody Hobgoblins on record over and over, screamin’ at everyone for no good bloody reason. I tell ya what, if I have to be pulled into his office for a bullocksin’ over nothin’ and listen to that crooner Stubby Boardman ever again it will be too soon and the wankers only been on the job for two weeks.”

“He gives me the creeps, that leery fucker. Grisham was never that bad” Tonks nodded as she inhaled her cigarette.

“Not the sort I’d trust around my wife, thats for sure” he said wrinkling his nose.

“How is Sophie?” she asked politely. Russell was due to have his wife give birth any day now and as much as she was fond of her colleague she was pleased to not have to spend an entire shift listening to him lamenting her strange cravings and mood swings as she had in the past on Patrol around Diagon Alley.

“Still waddling round the house ready to pop. I tell ya what, I’ll be glad when the little sprog is here” he said with a grin before her watch beeped and he patted her on the shoulder.

“Best hop to it love, sooner you get there the sooner you get home” he said with a grin before adding seriously “now you keep an eye out for that bloody Rossington. Pretty little thing like you, you keep your wits about you, yeah?”

“I will. Thanks mate, say hi to Soph and little Benji for me. He’ll be a great big brother.” She turned, stubbing the remainder of her cigarette out and strode back into the building heading for the Portkey desk where she pulled out her wand took a deep breath, tapped her wand and disappeared in a flash, stumbling as she hit the entrance to the prison and handing the Portkey to a tired looking Auror Brand as he left to head back to the Ministry to clock off. She gave him a nod and he grunted in response, disappearing as she strode into the building, patting down her pockets and steeling her nerves.

“Alright, Aireka, lets get this done.”

0x0x0

By the time it hit 12am Tonks could be fairly sure that Hermione would have arrived with time to spare and set foot up to Rossington’s office to provoke him into giving her a bullocksing. It was never difficult, especially if she did it on purpose given he seemed to like the sound of his voice so much that he often pulled the staff, especially the females, up to his office to crap on for no reason at all. But she knew from past experience if he got good and riled up he would abandon his post to go and chain smoke a few cigarettes or, as he put it, ‘inspect the wards’ which would give her time to implement her plan to cause a distraction. Only, to her surprise, he wasn’t in his office.

Frowning, she slipped into the room and poked around for a few minutes, trying to drown out the sound of the Hobgoblins playing from his Wizarding Radio. Deciding he must have gone out to harass the prisoners, another favorite pastime he seemed to have developed while he established his newly gained authority, she sighed and contemplated what to do before her eyes settled on the radio gain and she grinned. This was going to be easier than she thought. One final look down the long corridor showed no one was about and she stepped up to the radio and tapped it with her back-up wand to change the station to one of the muggleborn ones that tended to play muggle hits before stepping back, chuckling at the memory of how irate the usually calm Professor Sprout had gotten when she had decided to test this spell out once before at 1am during a Hufflepuff post-Quidditch win party and how much difficulty they had getting the radio to turn off and stop playing Black Sabbath so loudly her ears had been ringing for days. From accounts around the school it had been heard as far as Hogsmeade, apparently the spell tied in to the very atmosphere and if I worked the way she thought it did it would be working everywhere within the wards of Azkaban unless specific silencing spells had been set. She pointed her wand at the radio, thinking how much better this would be than accidentally setting the office on fire which she had originally planned with some potions she had planned on planting during Rossington’s smoke break to exacerbate it.

“Meteorolojinx Sonorus Maximus”

She couldn’t help but laugh as she covered her ears and sprinted from the room as ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’ started playing loudly from the office and paused to look down from the lower tower across the lower-security areas of Azkaban. Given that visiting day occurred on Fridays for the less risky inmates no doubt everyone would head there thinking something had been smuggled in to produce this racket. To her delight, she could see the shadows of her colleagues running from all over the prison towards the cell block and, unless she was mistaken, heard some of what must be muggleborn or half-blooded inmates singing it delightedly. She looked up at the Dementors, no doubt picking up on the excitement, started swarming and after throwing Moody’s old invisibility cloak around her shoulders set a quick pace for the high security wing.

Slipping past the infirmary she quickly climbed the stairs to the top of the high-security tower. Not, she reflected, that it really had more security measures than an abundance of Dementors, over 70% of them spent time here which kept the prisoners nice and docile. As she reached the top of the tower she kept check of the numbers finally slowing down as she reached the levels her aunt should be on. She pulled out the backup wand again, preparing to cast a stunning spell on the Lestrange brothers and Rookwood but came to a sudden stop when she realised they were already asleep. Poking her head in the door of Antonin Rookwoods cell she saw he wasn't even on his shitty mattress but slumped awkwardly on the floor with a bruise on his face like he had hit the ground hard before passing out. Something unpleasant suddenly coiled in stomach and she crept up to Cell 93 and she swore quietly as she saw inside Bellatrix’s cell. It was empty.

“Fuck! Shitting fucking hell” she cursed quietly as she clenched her fists. “Where the fuck is she?”

She paced around for a moment and allowed her head to rest against the cool wall of the prison as she stopped to think before shining her wand into the cell again. If Voldemort was going to risk a prison break he wouldn't just go for her mad aunt, surely. In addition, the magic suppressing shackles that attached her foot to the wall were removed, unscrewed from the wall, so it wasn’t as if she had made a miraculous escape herself. So if she’s not in her cell there was only really one other place she could be – the infirmary. With guards.

Gritting her teeth and resolved not to abandon her plan, barely registering as Wham finished and ‘Knock On Wood” by started playing, equally loud, she crept back down the stairs and paused at the front of the infirmary door before waving her wands to assess the wards. Silencing, privacy and an alarm ward. Now that wasn't standard procedure for an infirmary visit. Quietly, carefully taking down the wards as hastily as she could, reasoning if someone asked her about it she could say she didn’t want to startle the staff or prisoners inside if they were in the middle of something delicate, she quietly pushed open the door and peeked inside and was suddenly seeing red. Bellatrix Lestrange was shackled to the bed, snarling, thrashing around, beaten black and blue and naked except for a bag over her head and that fucking wanker Rossington was undoing his trousers and dropping them as he climbed on top of her.

Tonks knew she often lost control of her metamorphmagus abilities in times of high emotional turbulence which thanks to her Occlumency didn't happen very often unless she was tired or something quite extreme was happening, and even then usually only resulted in her hair changing colour. This time, however, she faintly registered as her body shifted from its usual petite form to something taller and bulkier and she felt her magic crackle dangerously despite the magic suppressing wards around the prison as she snarled and pushed open the door with a bang and the room suddenly filled with the sounds of punk rock from years ago and an angry, angry witch.

Warden Daniel Rossington must have realised, as he looked up, horrified, into the red eyes of the auror, that he was about to die.

She stormed across the room towards the bed where her aunt, her family was strapped down as he tried to run, instead falling off the top of the frail older witch who was still struggling and snarling like a wounded animal, and getting tangled in his trousers where he grabbed his wand and fired a few stinging hexes and stunning spells at her, the worst the prison wards would allow. One barely grazed her cheek however she barely felt it and strode towards him as he lay on the ground.

“Auror To - “

“I am going to kill you” she hissed dangerously and she kicked him in the side as hard as she could and, when he rolled on his back, stomped on the wrist of the hand holding his wand so hard she heard it snap and he cried out. Pocketing his wand as he groaned on the ground she quickly cast an incarcerous on him.

Turning to her aunt – Merlin she was the image of her own mother only with the evidence of so much more suffering - she pulled the bag off her head as gently as she could only to see that Bellatrix Lestrange was still practically psychotic as she strained against her bindings and hissing and screeching bloody murder. Considering for a moment as she struggled to fight the rage pumping through her system and think clearly, she stunned the witch and released her from her shackled before pulling the life jacket from her extended pocket and putting it around the witch as gently as it could and pulling the cord to inflate it and getting a clean sheet from a pile in the hamper next to the bed which she wrapped around her torso before trying to tuck it into her life jacket, an attempt at preserving a shred of her modesty.

“What are you -”

“Quiet! I’m not done with you yet” she snarled at the Warden who recoiled at her expression before glaring at her. Pulling her backup wand out of her pocket as well she quickly tapped the jacket and muttered ‘Portus’and forced a deep breath through her shattered soul. Bellatrix would be with Hermione now. Hermione would look after her. To her increasing irritation, Warden Rossington clearly had less respect for his life than she thought he did as he promptly spat on her.

“You won’t get away with this you little slut. I’m going to tell everyone what you’ve done, helping that Death Eater fucking scum escape” he said boldly though his eyes still glimmered with fear. Tonks felt her blood pumping though her veins even harder at his words, she could practically hear it over the sound of the music still playing through the prison.

“What makes you think you’ll be in a position to tell anyone anything?” she whispered dangerously and felt a surge of satisfaction when he visibly flinched away from her before glaring at her again.

“What are you going to kill me? Tied up and defenseless?” he scoffed. “You won’t kill me, your a fucking Hufflepuff.”

“I’m a Black” she replied and bared her teeth watching as recognition dawned over his face. The light left his eyes, however, when she stunned him and threw Moody’s invisibility cloak over him and the world went dark.

0x0x0

“Well that was a subtle signal” Hermione laughed incredulously to herself as she glanced quickly around the area looking for the flash of a portkey. The song changed and she wondered how long she would have to sit here anxiously waiting and took a deep breath. To her relief, a blinding flash erupted in front of her and she stumbled backwards, nearly falling off the boat in the process.

There, in front of her, face down on the boat appeared Bellatrix Lestrange. Right hand of the Dark Lord. Godmother and Aunt to her girlfriend. Hermione took a moment to ponder the things this woman had done for her family, and wondered if she would be able to do the same.

“Erm. Mrs Lestrange?” Hermione whispered, suddenly terrified. The woman didn't move and Hermione waited with bated breath. “Bel – Bellatrix?”

Climbing to her feet and trying to steady herself from the waves rocking the boat she clambered carefully over to the witch and took a breath of what she had to admit was shameful relief when she realised the woman was unconscious. “Why are you wearing a sheet though?” she pondered quietly aloud before gently rolling the woman over and realising that something was very, very wrong as it fell open. The woman was filthy, and covered in scars. That much was obvious, and expected after over a decade in Azkaban. Sirius had been the same. The fresh bruises all over her breasts and thighs, however, were not. Hermione stared in horror for a moment before she realised what she was doing.

“Excellent plan Granger, just stare at the naked convicted felon. That’ll end well if she wakes up" she mumbled irritably to herself. Carefully, she checked for a pulse and after a battle of wills, a spell to see if she had any recent signs of sexual activity and exhaled with relief when she found there hadn’t been and Tonks must have interrupted whatever what was about to occur then her breath hitched in her throat and her stomach clenched with fear. What if something happened to Tonks?

She felt herself start to panic and after quickly wrapping blankets around the unconscious woman beneath her and threw the invisibility cloak over her frantically searched the cliffs with the Omnioculars for that bright pink hair or a slowly levitating sex doll. Seconds felt like hours as she forced herself to breath slowly, knowing loosing her head wouldn’t help anyone.

She nearly sobbed in relief to see movement on top of the cliff face but to her horror a thud rang out and she dropped the Omnioculars with shock as a body landed on the jagged rocks below the cliff and the water ran red with blood. Heart stopping, all she could do was gasp “Tonks” and drew her wand and bared her teeth up at whoever remained on the cliff. Ginny’s conversation came back to her, echoing in her mind. If I had to hurt someone who hurt me or mine, even kill someone...I would do it. Hermione suddenly understood completely as blood pounded in her ears. Bellatrix Lestrange was nearly...interfered with and...and Tonks...She would storm Azkaban with her bare hands if she had to.

Relief suddenly washed over her and she sobbed with relief as that goddamned sex doll suddenly slowly drifted down the cliff towards the rocks and Hermione, looking again, saw that the first body on the rocks was, she guessed grimacing at the bloody sight, a man. A man with his pants down, she noted as she lifted the omnioculars to her face, and suddenly she understood. Tonks thrown someone off a cliff but she was safe. Bellatrix was here and for now her Tonks was safe. She was safe. She closed her eyes and had to sit suddenly and pondered if the fact that she wasn’t angry or upset that a man she didn’t know had died was wrong but found, to her surprise, she didn’t care at that moment. That man must have been a bad man, a person who dad bad things and hurt good people. Nymphadora Tonks was a good person, and not the sort of person who threw people off cliffs for no reason. She was an Auror! A loyal Hufflepuff! She glanced down at the spot Bellatrix laid and back up at the cliff again. Nymphadora Tonks was a Black. And she, Hermione Granger, was done letting good people get hurt and okay with bad people bearing the consequences of their choices. The doll landed slightly lower down the cliff than the man and Hermione gave a suddenly hysterical little laugh.

“I’ve never been so glad to see an inflatable sex doll” she murmured before looking up to the cliff again and watched as a crowd appeared before she cast a strong charm to increase the size of the swell and force of a wave to wash Aireka and the man to the bottom of the North Sea and thought to herself with relief that this whole night would soon be over.

0x0x0

Hermione felt a shudder as the boat passed through the wards and she immediately tapped her wand on the boat rudder as it set course for the mainland and carefully pulled the blankets and sheet of her patient, tracing her wand over some of the cuts over her body delicatly as the skin rejoined and gently rubbed dittany onto them. Reaching for her bruise salve she applied the paste to her fingers before looking at her injuries again and remembering the bruises mostly covered quite private areas, reconsidered. Swapping the salve for a nutrient potion she tilted the older witches head back up and gently tipped it down her throat followed by a calming potion. She was sure she would need that when she woke up. Pondering what else she could do for the poor woman she began scorgifying her skin to clean her and transfigured the sheet into a some denim jeans and a jumper and giving an incredulous, slightly hysterical laugh at the sight of the infamous Bellatrix Lestrange in a muggle outfit and felt her forehead for a fever, accidentally getting her hand tangled in the womans wild, matted hair. Empathy washed over her, if anyone could sympathise with hair like that it was Hermione Granger. The North Sea and no shampoo for a decade would not be easily removed. Slowly and gently detangling the hair within reach by hand, Hermione found the repetitive and mindless task soothing her panic as she set about turning her hair into less of one giant knot, and looked up as the sky grew lighter and she realised the sun would soon slowly started to rise.

Eventually Hermione spotted the shore and gulped down another wave of anxiety that Tonks might not be there, that she might have been locked up in the hellhole the woman she had laying in front of her did. They had given the matter much discussion and the only potential negative outcome would be if Tonks was asked to swear a Wizards Oath that she had not been involved. Occlumency and the ability to immediately metabolise veritaserum thanks to her Metamorphmagus abilities would negate the risks significantly. She tapped her wand on the rudder again, taking control of the steering as they reached closer to the shore and she scanned the area for any other living souls, starting to cry when she spotted only one dressed in black cons and jeans and a band shirt shirt with messy hair – a dull brown.

0x0x0

Tonks breathed a sigh of relief and unclenched her jaw a little to spot the little boat as it drew closer to the jetty and she leaned down to pull up her witch only to spot the tears and immediately started trembling. She had killed a man. She had killed a horrible, awful man doing awful, horrible things to her aunt but she had snapped and bloody done it in front of her girlfriend. Hermione was good, nothing but goodness and love and brains in her. She would hate Tonks, how could she possibly come to understand the fact that she had murdered a man by incapacitating him then throwing him down a cliff to land on jagged rocks 40 meters away from her to his death in a violent rage? She forced herself to swallow the lump in her throat and rubbed at her face in an attempt to dissuade her watery eyes from developing into full blown tears but as Hermione turned to face her all she could do was sob and sink to her knees and cover her face with her hands.

“I’m sor -”

“Don’t you ever scare me like that again Nymphadora Tonks!” Hermione screeched hysterically. “I thought that man was you! I - I thought someone threw you off a cliff into the North Sea!”

“Wha – No, I threw him off – he was – Bellatrix – he was - what?” Tonks mumbled incoherently, still crying, as Hermione knelt in front of her and wrapped her arms around her neck and sobbed just as hard.

“I’m so glad you’re alright you fucking stupid prat I could kill you! I wanted to scale the cliff and throttle everyone! Don’t you ever do that to me again, you hear me?” Hermione continued to sob hysterically again before lifting her head from Tonks shoulder who remained frozen on the jetty as silent tears streamed down her face before the Auror finally nodded dumbly and Hermione slapped her on the back of the head before clutching at her cut face from the stinging hex.

“You – are you alright? Your face!” Hermione gasped as her thumb traced underneath the cut.

Tonks finally managed to wrap her head around the fact that Hermione Granger did not, in fact, hate her guts and simply leaned forward and captured her lips with her own, startling Hermione into silence before she opened her mouth to allow Tonks entry and the older witch moaned quietly before Hermione pulled back, wide eyed and looked her over, clutching her hands on Tonks’ shirt so hard she was sure Hermione was trying to convince herself that she was really there.

“You don't hate me?” Tonks asked quietly “I – I killed him. I tied him up and dragged him outside and pushed him off a cliff.” She watched carefully as Hermione’s face softened, though her eyes remained hard.

“He was trying to...he was trying to rape her? Bellatrix?” Hermione asked and Tonks nodded.

“I just lost it...She was strapped down to the bed, I don’t know if I got there in time” Tonks gasped as though saying the words made it hard to breath.

“You did, she’s, well not okay but I checked for...that. I don’t hate you. He deserved it” Hermione whispered back firmly and Tonks felt relief wash over her so potently she could hardly lift her head when Hermione briefly touched her lips to her own again, breathing life back into her. Tonks ran a hand through her hair and schooled her features, her hair shimmering as it lightened and she managed a slight grin at Hermione’s small smile, noticing the change.

“Alright, lets get out of here before the sun comes up and the Ministry sends Aurors on brooms to scout for bodies then, yeah?”

Tonks walked back to the edge of the jetty and began passing the blankets and other items out to Hermione who stored them away before carefully levitating Bellatrix out of the boat and gently placing her on the wooden platform. She had hardly had a chance to study the woman earlier but she looked better already and she smiled gratefully at Hermione who gave her another smile.

“Sweets, lets never do this again. Never ever. I’ve never been so stressed out in my life, I could sit here and chain smoke for the next three days if I had the time.”

“I don’t think we know any other innocent people in Azkaban that need rescuing. However, I couldn’t agree with you more. Well, lets wake her up then, shall we? Once we know what state she’s in we can apparate her to your mums and hope we can explain before she kills us.”

“Me, you mean. I doubt she will kill you, just berate you with great enthusiasm” Tonks replied, feeling more like herself despite the completely bizarre situation she found herself in. She paused though, as she reached a hand on the jetty to vault herself back up, remembering her aunts state before she had stunned her.

“Love, maybe we shouldn’t just wake her up just like this, she could be a bit...volatile when she’s woken up” Tonks said uneasily. “I could tie her up?”

“Absolutely not!” Hermione scowled. “The poor woman’s been through enough! I gave her a calming draught anyway” Kneeling in front of her she gently brushed a few stray locks aside from the unconscious womans face and whispered the incantation to wake her up.

Tonks started as Bellatrix’s eyes shot open and, seeing the wand in her face, she gave a loud shriek and jumped to her feet, quickly grabbing a startled Hermione in a head-lock and snatching the wand from her hand in one swift movement which she held to her neck as Hermione struggled to escape her grip.

“Shit!” she cried and vaulted back onto the jetty before raising her hands in a non-threatening gesture and slowly edging towards her in a defensive stance. “Hey now, its alright, you can let her go...we aren’t going to hurt you” she soothed.

Bellatrix responded with a snarl and pushed the wand harder into Hermione’s throat, who whimpered and Tonks fought her battered nerves to not erupt in a rage again. To her surprise, however, Bellatrix eyed her hair, which must have changed colour and her grip slackened as her jaw dropped open in recognition.

“Nymp – Ack!”

To Tonks’ horror Hermione had jumped on her captors lessened grip and promptly stamped on her foot and threw her head back into Bellatrix’s face who stumbled and toppled off the jetty into the water, clutching wildly and grasping the back of Hermione’s jacket, pulling her down into the icy cold water.

“Oh for fucks sake” Tonks muttered and stuck her head over the side of the jetty as Bellatrix bobbed on top of the water, still wearing her life jacket.

“What the fuck is this contraption?” Bellatrix howled angrily as the life jacket washed pushed up around her face. “Nymphadora? Is that you?” She flinched as Hermione erupted from the sea next to her.

“FUCK that’s cold!” Hermione gasped and, flailing an arm, grabbed hold of the life jacket around Bellatrix who lurched dangerously as a wave washed over them both.

“Get off me girl! This floatation device is mine!” Bellatrix yelled, trying to push her away.

“Excuse me? I bought it with my own bloody money so I’ll have you know its mine!” Hermione spluttered, scowling before another wave crashed over them both. They both suddenly turned up towards the jetty and glimpsed Tonks who towered over them and was sniggering, her hair its usual bright pink.

“Nymphadora Tonks you stop laughing and get me out of this bloody freezing ocean this instant!” Hermione yelled and waved an arm in the air for her to grab.

“Yes! Listen to the girl! I won’t have my escape from that hellhole tarnished by drowning at sea!” Bellatrix echoed.

“Escape? It was hardly an escape. We liberated you, you violent cow!” Hermione spluttered, still raging at the turn the morning had taken and gestured to a faint burn on her neck from Bellatrix restraining her moments earlier, struggling to keep her head above the water.

“Me, violent?” Bellatrix snorted incredulously. “You’re the one who almost broke my foot and headbutted me when I was about to release you!”

“Oi!” Tonks interrupted as she crouched down on the dock to face the two of them. “If I let you two out will you stop bloody bickering or do you need some more time to consider it? Maybe make friends with a killer whale or something?”

The two witches shot each other a quick, fierce look before Hermione, ever the Gryffindor, offered a hand as she struggled to keep herself afloat.

“Truce?” After a moments hesitation Bellatrix nodded and grasped her hand and shook it.

“Truce. Now get us out of this bloody freeing water Nymphadora and then tell me what the fuck is going on.”

“You’re very demanding for a woman in need, I must say” Tonks mused, smirking. “Maybe I should leave you in a little while longer to calm down.” Bellatrix fromed but remained silent and with a wave of her wand levitated the two witches onto the jetty where Hermione, surprising both of them, kneeled and quickly waved her wand over Bellatrix to cast drying and warming charms before feeling her forehead and frowning as Bellatrix flinched at the touch.

“Don’t look at me like that you’ve been in Azkaban for years, I doubt their health care system is any good and I just spent 50 hours hours trying to heal you, the last thing I need is you getting sick from the cold.” Apparently reassuring herself that Bellatrix was not about to drop dead from a fever she quickly dried herself off with a similar incantation and wrapped her extremely frizzed hair into a poorly constructed bun.

Tonks stood back and watched quietly as Bellatrix slowly climbed to her feet and rolled her shoulders, before offering Hermione a hand up which she took without hesitation and Tonks smiled widely, exhaling with relief.

“I’m Hermione, by the way. Hermione Granger.”

“What kind of weird name is that?” Bellatrix asked incredulously. “That’s just as bad as Nymphadora! I only told your mother to name you that as a bloody joke!”

“Aright then, Bellatrix, Queen of the Normal Names, lets move on shall we?” Hermione offered calmly, choosing to ignore the jab.

“Thank Merlin for that. Everyone alright?” getting nods Tonks checked the time and noted it was still an hour until the auror sweeps would begin. “Thank god. I’ve needed a cigarette for about 7 hours now, my nerves are shot to shit” she muttered and pulled her packet from her leather jacket pocket and lighting one quickly taking a deep drag. To her amusement Bellatrix’s eyes lit up in delight and she handed the packet over who lit up her own with a warning look to Tonks.

“Do not tell your mother” she muttered dangerously and Hermione burst out laughing.

“I won’t if you don’t” Tonks chuckled.

“What about this one?” Bellatrix mumbled and nodded her head towards Hermione who only was still laughing at the pair.

“She won’t tell” Tonks grinned and Bellatrix, looking at her considering, pulled out a third cigarette and lit it, putting it in Hermione’s mouth who stood frozen in place at the gesture before coughing.

“She wont now” her aunt grinned and took another deep drag while Hermione grimaced before Bellatrix patted her on the back gently. “It will help girl. Especially if your spending time with this rotter. She drove me to smoking when she was only a baby, Merlin knows what she’s like as a grown woman.Now you want to breath it into your mouth, and then breath it in again before you exhale” she instructed and Hermione, looking torn between curiosity and impending regret, complied and spluttered again before chuckling.

“I can see why it’s been said you two are so similar” Hermione replied and pulled the cigarette away from her face to look at it, considering, before mumbling “fuck it, I’d rather death by cancer than Voldemort” and taking another drag.

“Circes tits what am I wearing?” Bellatrix frowned suddenly, looking down at her attire and Tonks winced.

“It was that or the – ah – sheet you had on, I’m sorry” Hermione whispered and recognition dawned on Bellatrix’s face.

“I’ll kill that fucker! How dare he lay his hands on me! Tear him limb from limb!” she snarled suddenly and turned back out to face the ocean as if she intended to swim back to Azkaban.

“You can’t” Tonks said firmly and Bellatrix turned to look at her, questioning.

“He’s already dead” Hermione said calmly and Tonks felt a wave of affection wash over her at the fact that her voice didn’t falter and her hand didn’t shake as she grabbed Tonks’ trembling one.

“Right” Bellatrix exhaled and clenched her fists. “Is someone going to tell me what the fuck is going on?”

Tonks nodded and cleared her throat before checking her watch. “Let’s head to the boat shed we set up earlier. We can apparate in an hour or so when someones awake at mum’s.”

“Andy?” Bellatrix whispered. “She told you?”

“Not us, per say. She told Professor McGonogall.”

“Minerva told you?” Bellatrix asked incredulously and Hermione nodded before taking her arm.

“Come on, we have lot’s to talk about.”

0x0x0

Between the two of them, they managed to begin to fill Bella, as she insisted Hermione and Tonks call her, in on the events of the past 24 hours and anything else they could think relevant and Hermione watched, torn between horror and amusement, to realise that there were now two of them as Tonks and Bellatrix both muttered extremely colourful threats about what they would like to do to Albus Dumbledore should they get a chance.

“You know, I never used to swear until I met you” Hermione mused aloud. “You really are a terrible influence Tonks”.

“Please, it was a natural progression” Tonks grinned, winking at her. “You did keep Rita Skeeter in a jar for several weeks long before you met me.”

“You kept a grown woman in a jar? What kind of Gryffindor are you? Not that I’m complaining too much, I went to school with the wretched woman.” Bellatrix asked.

“No, she was a beetle at the time, she’s an illegal animagus” Hermione explained.

“I would have squashed her” Bellatrix offered and Hermione grinned thoughtfully.

“Don’t think I didn't consider it. In the end I decided to blackmail her.”

“See! Worst Gryffindor I have ever met” Bellatrix smirked. “You should have been a Slytherin like the rest of us. Her mother would have kept her in a jar and blackmailed her too. Same with Cissy.”

“Well, the hat did consider it but I didn’t want to go” Hermione admitted softly. “Being a mudblood that would have made life quite unnecessarily complicated.” She watched carefully for a reaction from Bellatrix at the revelation of her blood status and was relieved to not see one.

“It’s alright, kitten, I had the opposite issue” Bellatrix offered with a wink. “Hat considered me for Gryffindor but I threatened to set it alight. In retrospect, seeing what happened to Sirius, it was a wise choice” she muttered.

“Oh he’s alive and well, by the way. He’s just in hiding. We’ll have to arrange for him to come visit.” Hermione said with a grin at Bellatrix’s relieved face before she looked shocked.

“Merlins balls you didn’t break him out too, did you?” she asked white faced and Tonks laughed.

“No, we certainly didn’t. That was all Sirius.”

“Ah well, if he can escape from that old cunt Walbuga he can escape from anything” she snorted. “I was beginning to think you both had careers in prison breaks.”

“No, I’m still a student and your lovely Hufflepuff niece is an Auror” Hermione grinned and Bellatrix choked and spluttered mid inhale on what must have been her 12th cigarette in the past hour, Tonks on about the same grinned widely and Hermione took a drag from her much more respectable 3rd after announcing that she was stepping up her rebel reputation.

“Did any of us end up in Slytherin?” Bellatrix asked aghast. “The Auror part makes sense, given your abilities, but a Puff?”

“The hat didn’t consider me for anything but Hufflepuff” Tonks said wistfully. “Though I certainly feel very Slytherin after busting my aunt out of prison and, well, you know...” she faltered.

“No, that was all loyalty. Very Puff” Bellatrix said sincerely. “So no Black blood at all in Slytherin? Walburga would be rolling in her grave. I hope. Please tell me she’s dead” Bellatrix pleaded and Tonks chuckled.

“She’s dead, the only Black blood I can think of in Slytherin at the moment is Draco Malfoy” Hermione offered.

“Cissa’s boy? Cissa and that pompus slimy git Lucius. What’s he like?” Bellatrix inquired.

“A pompus, slimy git. I smacked him in the face and broke his nose once, it was delightful” Hermione deadpanned and Bellatrix chuckled delightedly.

“Worthy indeed of being with a Black, Nymphadora, best keep this one around” she winked and Hermione flushed.

“Well I’ll certainly have to now that I’ve implicated her in a prison escape and murder” Tonks stated with a laugh, beaming when Hermione took her hand and kissed it, before she caught sight of the time and gulped. “Fuck. It’s 8am, best get us to mums and meet my doom” she groaned and stood. “I don’t think I’ve slept in two days.”

“Are you sure you want me to be there?” Hermione asked quietly. “This is probably going to be a bit of an emotional family moment and I don’t want to make myself unwelcome.”

“Nonsense kitten, after today I think you can consider yourself an honorary family member!” Bellatrix replied, helping her to her feet.

“What she said, sweets. You heard her, your stuck with us now” Tonks beamed at her and pressed her lips to her temple. “Lets get this over with!”

0x0x0

Minerva McGonogall gave her friend a peck on the cheek as she stepped into the foyer of the house past Ted who said hello and stepped out to do some gardening.

“Apologies again for bothering you so early, Andy dear, but I was wondering if you had spoken to young Nymphadora in the past few days? I have a sneaking suspicion that she and Miss Granger are up to something” she sighed as Andromeda handed her a cup of tea.

“Well I spoke to her two days ago and she seemed a bit off but when I asked she sad she was worried about a work case” Andromeda mused. “Would you like me to try and Floo call her? Isn’t Hermione at school?”

“Miss Granger left the school for a family emergency” Minerva explained. “But yes a fFoo call might put my mind at ease, if they aren’t together. I am aware Miss Granger is missing your daughter, very much so, but it isn’t in her character to leave school just for a...”

“A shag?” Andy responded with a quirked brow and Minerva nodded with an eye-roll.

“Jesus Fucking Christ!” came a yell from the yard and Ted rushed to the door, deathly pale and looking like he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Andy, Minnie, you better come see this!” he spluttered before dashing back out to the garden.

“Merlin I need a bloody cigarette already” Andromeda hissed before turning to Minerva. “Do not tell Nymphadora I said that! That was meant to be thought not said aloud” she gasped and Minerva simply nodded, amused as they stepped onto the front porch and both witches jaws dropped.

“Oh my Merlin!” Minerva cried, clutching a hand to her chest. “Is that - ?”

She could only stand, frozen as she took in the site in front of her. Perched on top of a very flattened rosebush was what she could only guess from the wild brown hair was Hermione Granger. Half on top of her sat a sheepish but proud looking Nymphadora Tonks. On top of them both, a frail and annoyed Bellatrix Lestrange sat as she berated her niece.

“Why the bloody fuck did you apparate us into the middle of this thorny bush?” she asked before suddenly toppling off onto the pile as Hermione attempted to force herself to stand up, shifting the women off her.

“Get off you bloody prats I’ve got thorns in my hair!” the muffled sound of her students voice cried. Finally getting themselves into some sort of upright position the three of them glanced up at the trio standing on the porch.

“I’m, ah, going to have a pint” Ted muttered before backing away from the women. “Erm, lovely to meet you Miss Granger” he offered with a nod before practically sprinting down the driveway and Hermione blushed sheepishly.

“You too!” she called after him before putting her face in her hands.

“Bella?” Andy breathed beside her and Minerva turned to look at her oldest friend, seeing her eyes well up with tears, seeming frozen in place. Minerva gave her a little shove in the back and she stumbled briefly as she strode across the lawn. She felt the briefest flicker of amusement as Nymphadora’s hair briefly turned white with fear before Andromeda reached over the top of her and pulled her sister to her feet, clutching her face in her hands.

“Bella? Bella is it you?” she cried and Minerva felt her heart clench seeing Bellatrix raise a trembling hand to her sisters hair and wipe at her own wet eyes before Andromeda threw herself onto her shoulder and sobbed heartily.

“Yes Andy its me, your mental bloody daughter and her girlfriend they – well I’m here now, shush” she soothed before chuckling as Andromeda remained inconsolable. “No need to get snot all over me, I can’t smell very good after nothing but a quick dip in the North Sea in the past decade.” Andromeda only sobbed harder and Minerva turned to face the two younger witches. Hermione was wet faced herself, she and Nymphadora were holding hands so tightly both their knuckles were white but Nymphadora was beaming delightedly at her mother and aunt and Minerva caught their attention before gesturing they head inside, smirking to see the two look at each other and visibly gulp.

“Sit” Minerva directed calmly and smirked again to see them wordlessly place themselves on the lounge, still grasping hands tightly. As much as a part of her wanted to make them suffer somewhat for giving her a sleepless night from nerves, after giving them an appraising look they both appeared to be in an even worse state than she was.

“Breathe” she directed again, rolling her eyes. “Now have some tea, and I would certainly appreciate it if someone could explain how Bellatrix Lestrange found herself in the garden before I read about it in the paper.”

“I would quite like to hear that as well” Andromeda said from the doorway, looking far more composed than Minerva had anticipated. “Let me direct Bella to the bathroom and we are all going to have a long talk, girl to girl.”

0x0x0

“So, let me get this straight” her mother sighed half an hour later as Minerva pinched the bridge of her nose in irritation. “You distracted the entire prison, found Bella in an unwitting amorous position and portkeyed her from the prison into a tiny tin boat in the North Sea commandeered by your 5th year student girlfriend, no offense dear, then threw the Warden of Azkaban off a cliff for doing so, killing him, and allowing Bella to be removed from the island?”

“Yes, that just about covers it” Tonks replied, hating the slight tremor to her voice at the reminder of Rossington but feeling reassured when Hermione squeezed her hand then turned to see a much cleaner looking Bellatrix leaning over her shoulder, patting it gently before taking a seat on the lounge opposite them and flinging her hair over her forehead and attacked it with a brush to try and untabgle her still matted hair.

“Whats going to stop the Ministry trying to track down Bella now like they do with Sirius?”

“They think she’s dead. We faked her death” Hermione replied and Bellatrix turned to her in surprise, peeking through her curtain of hair.

“How on Earth did you manage that?”

“We were originally going to leave the escape itself as a mystery but let a fake corpse be spotted on the bottom of the cliffs before Hermione washed it under the water but when Rossington put his hands on you I changed the plan and let it look like he realised you escaped and there was a struggle on the cliff resulting in you both falling which I discovered.”

“What did you use for my corpse?” Bellatrix asked and Hermione winced.

“Aireka made a noble sacrifice” Tonks grinned cheekily.

“Stop humanising the doll” Hermione hissed and swatted at her and all three women raised an eyebrow in a move that looked so choreographed Tonks couldn’t help but laugh.

“What is an Aireka?”

“Aireka is an inflatable... sex doll...that Tonks transfigured. As well as named and gave a complete personality to in order to irk me.” Hermione sighed.

“An inflatable...you used a sex toy as my corpse?” Bellatrix asked in shock before howling with laughter. Tonks noted that her mother and former Professor looked significantly less amused.

“What if the Ministry questions you?” McGonogall asked with concern and Hermione looked questioningly at her as well.

“They already did. Under Veritaserum, same with everyone else on site. I just metabolised it as soon as I drunk it and lied through my teeth” she shrugged.

“That’s a handy skill” Bellatrix grinned and Tonks nodded before her aunt continued her interrogation.

“Didn’t they check your wand?”

“They checked one of my two wands, yes” she stated and Bellatrix grinned as Andromeda muttered ‘don’t even want to know’.

“That’s the Ministry handled but what about this?” Bellatrix asked hesitantly, brandishing her arm. “I could tell when it darkened that the Dark Lord had returned, I’m almost certain he can track me through my Mark.” To Tonks’ amusement, despite their exhaustion Hermione jumped up and entered Mad Scientist mode, clearly relishing an enthralled audience.

“I’ve been studying it. It’s a variation of a slave bond used hundreds of years ago allowing Voldemort to draw on the marked peoples power, summon them and, yes, track them. That said, as long as you don’t use magic he shouldn’t be able to do it, the link will be weakened on your end through years of not being used.”

“What?” Minerva demanded, suddenly outraged. “Severus asked Dumbledore to remove it a decade ago! He said it couldn’t be done!”

“Sounds a bit similar to him telling me I couldn’t get out of going to Azkaban for life” Bellatrix snarled. “Likes his little pawns in place doesn’t he?”

The mood in the room darkened considerably and Bellatrix thrust her arm under Hermione’s nose.

“Get rid of it then! Chop off my arm if you have to, I’ve wanted this thing gone since the moment I got it.”

“You need to be stronger first, recovered” Hermione replied softly. “I’m sorry you have to wait but it’s...well it’s going to hurt. It could kill you, or even drain you of your magic. Best case scenario is hours of agony and being severely magically depleted for a while.”

“I could have no magic?” Bellatrix whispered as her brows creased in concern and Hermione nodded before her face hardened. “Fuck it, I’ll become a master of – of swords or something to compensate. I’d rather have no magic than let my magic feed a monster and wear his brand on my arm. I can kill him with a sword.”

“Alright, that’s good then. For now, that means you need to rest. It’s almost Christmas and hopefully I can do it then in a few sessions. I was hoping you could stay with Andromeda here, alternatively my parents have a holiday house in France we could get you to that I could put under the Fidelious.”

“My goodness Hermione, you really do think of everything don’t you” Andromeda smiled. “And Bella will stay here, of course. Sirius will be delighted to see you when he visits, he mentioned last week he would try to stop by over the next few days. Of course someone will have to tell him you aren’t really a crazed Death Eater. How did you girls find out that she wasn’t a crazed Death Eater, actually?” she asked suspiciously and Tonks snorted to see Minerva clear her throat nervously.

“Perhaps I can clear that up later, Andy” Minerva muttered and Andromeda nodded after a moment.

“Well thats that...postponed. Now, not that I don’t love harboring criminals but what are we planning on doing once the Mark is gone? Everyone thinks Sirius is a murderer and Bellatrix is dead.” At that Hermione frowned.

“That will have to wait until a change in politicians and policy” she replied. “If we can get you both questioned in a fair trial with Veritiserusm it should address that matter, in the mean time if you absolutely have to leave the house it will need to be after the Mark is gone and you can have a fake identity. I’ve been looking into potions and rituals and things to alter your magical signature somewhat – you can pretend to be a disowned foreign relative or something. Muggle plastic surgery or tattoo removal will be able to help with most of your other identifying marks like the Azkaban tattoo. ”

“Or you could get muggle tattoos to cover it” Tonks offered with a wink and ignored the glare from her mother.

At that point the Floo glowed green and everyone drew their wand and pointed it at the head that erupted from the fireplace.

“Well hello to you too everyone” Sirius offered, raising his hands in a placating gesture before throwing himself onto the lounge and crossing his arms, oblivious to the way everyone was staring at him waiting for the pin to drop.

“Men. Completely unobservant” Minerva muttered quietly and Tonks giggled.

“Sirius” Bellatrix smirked to his right.

“Andy” he replied happily before turning to his left where Andromeda sat with a quirked brow and threw his head back to his right.

“Bellatrix!” he yelped and jumped from the lounge, enveloping her in a large hug before grinning widely. “Ha! Harry owes me 20 galleons! I knew those two would so something hugely illegal and questionable like this” he laughed.

“I could have sworn he suspected me” Hermione muttered.

“Oh he did, but he thought you would manage a more legal route. Given that I just got the Daily Prophet gleefully proclaiming your death and Hermione was conveniently absent from the school I knew something was amiss, figured they would bring her here and decided to get myself into position to watch the bullocksing. Have I missed it?” he asked cheerfully.

“You know what? I – I don’t think I have it in me” Andromeda sighed and glared at her daughter. “But if you ever do something that dangerous again I will put you in Azkaban myself” she growled and Tonks nodded. “Now you” she said, turning to Hermione who paled “no doubt my headstrong daughter would have taken it upon herself to do this with or without your help” - Tonks nodded firmly at this - “so...thank you for ensuring a plan was developed that didn’t end completely terribly but if something like this ever happens again we expect to be informed in advance” she said firmly and Hermione nodded.

“Thats fair” she whispered quietly. “For the record I was looking at a legal route but I wasn’t able to find anything that would work quickly enough given Voldemort is apparently planning on storming Azkaban and I didn’t want Bella to be roped into working for him again. I’m sorry for worrying you all.”

“Well obviously I forgive you kitten” Bellatrix drawled and, to Tonks’ relief half the room snickered and Hermione put her head against Tonks shoulder who smiled warmly and wrapped an arm around her waist and yawned widely, feeling the effects of so long without sleep well and truly catching up with her.

“Right! Bed, both of you!” Andromeda cried, taking note of the fact that both Tonks and Hermione looked dead on their feet. “I can get one of the guest rooms ready for you Hermione, do you need a shower?”

“Guest room?” Tonks asked incredulously. “What’s she need a bloody guest room for?”

“Tonks it’s fine” Hermione hissed, placing a placating hand on her knee as Sirius chuckled.

“Andy dear, I have news for you and it’s all bad. Your daughter is not a chaste virgin and neither is her girlfriend. I should know, they didn't cast any silencing charms last time she visited. You’ll be pleased to know it seemed, from what I could hear, that you have raised a generous and talented lover. Obviously Hermione isn’t too bad herself either.”

Tonks turned to Hermione, aghast, only to see her girlfriends face turn so bright a shade of red that she was surprised she couldn’t see smoke rising and immediately shot a stinging hex at Sirius who toppled off his chair.

“Oh please, all the Blacks are generous and talented lovers” Bellatrix offered with a wink and wide grin at Hermione who stared at the floor as if she was waiting for it to swallow her whole. Tonks turned to her mother who put her head in her hands and sighed deeply, and Minerva looked like she didn’t know who she wanted to glare at more.

“And on that note, we’re out of here. Come on love. Sirius if I see you in the next 12 hours I will literally remove your scrotum” she growled, before stood and pulled her witch to her feet and quickly dragged her through the Floo and pushed her through and with a whoosh, they were gone.

Tonks tried not to stumble with Hermione in her arms as they stepped out into Grimmauld Place and she schooled her features as Hermione stared up at her blankly.

“Baby, they weren’t just talking about that were they? About us being...talented and generous lovers? In front of your mother and Professor McGonogall? That wasn’t real was it?” she whispered desperatly, clutching suddenly at the front of Tonks shirt who tightened her arms around her waist and pulled her close.

“No, darling. Not at all. Just a horrible dream” she soothed. “Come on – into the bath with you.”

The duo stumbled tiredly up the stairs where Tonks quickly drew a bath and summonsed some of the lavender and bubble bath mixture she often used after a bad day and tipped it in, turning to stare at Hermione who’s face suddenly split into a wide grin.

“We did it, Tonks” she whispered.

“We did indeed love. Now come here and let me get you out of those clothes.” Tonks slowly undressed her and helped her into the bath before turning to walk out.

“Oh wait!”

Tonks turned and sat on the edge of the bath and grinned as Tonks pulled the front of her shirt down for a chaste kiss.

“Thank you” Hermione beamed up at her and Tonks could only place another kiss on the top of her head. “Now this is for threatening to leave me in the middle of the North Sea with your mental aunt.”

“Wha -”

Hermione tugged hard on the front of Tonks’ robed and yanked her into the bath fully clothed and smiled widely before leaning her head back against the edge of the clawed bath and closing her eyes serenely as Tonks spluttered.

“Consider yourself lucky that this is a nice warm bath with your naked girlfriend in it not the tepid waters surrounding Azkaban with an escaped criminal who moments earlier threatened to blow your head off with your own wand.”

“Thats fair” Tonks snorted before stripping off her shirt and chucking it at her, followed by the rest of her clothes and she pulled herself over to Hermione’s side of the bath and allowed herself to be dragged into Hermiones arms and legs and sighed contentedly and closed her eyes, enjoying the warmth and peace, and the hot body she pressed her back against. They relaxed in silence and Tonks found herself almost asleep before Hermione spoke up.

“No regrets? Nothing you would have done...differently?”

“With Rossington?” Tonks enquired.

“Yes. With Rossington.”

“No. You? I mean, anything you’d have had me do differently?”

“No. I’d have done the same.”

“You’d probably have done worse” Tonks chuckled sleepily before tensing, hoping she didnt overstep the mark, and feeling Hermione tense too, breifly, before she relaxed.

“I think your right. I would have” she breathed. “I hope that’s okay.”

“Shush, you’re perfect. Now close your eyes and relax” Tonks whispered.

“I think you’re perfect too.”

Chapter Text

“Well don’t you both look like you’ve been satisfied by tender and generous lovers” a voice drawled and Hermione’s eyes shot open in alarm, immediately awake to see someone hovering over her.

“Bella! What the fuck are you doing here?!” Tonks asked incredulously, jumping as Hermione covered her breasts and the opening of her thighs with her hands from where she remained in the middle of her open legs to preserve her modesty..

“We’ve been sleeping!” Hermione snapped.

“In the bath, I worked that out for myself two minutes ago when I walked in, thanks. I was checking you didn’t drown, you’ve been gone for about 2 hours. I have a life debt to repay, you know.”

“Can you repay it by immediately leaving and never doing this again?” Tonks asked and Hermione nodded in agreement.

“Probably not, no. BUT I thought you might like to know I DIDN'T risk sneaking into the Order of the Phoenix headquarters using a scrap of parchment Dumbleore had written it on that Sirius in a rare moment of brilliance didn’t destroy just to ogle you both in the bath, being my niece and her student girlfriend. What I DID sneak in her to do was to tell you that Dumbledore has just sent Andy a note saying that he is coming to talk about my tragic recent passing, and I thought you’d want to watch the fallout.” With that she skipped gleefully from the room and Tonks turned to face Hermione and gave her a questioning look. Hermione rolled her eyes but grinned seeing her barely restrained excitement.

“Ugh I’m all wrinkled from being in the bath for so long. Come on then. Where do we hide?”

“Still got Harry’s Cloak? I have Moody’s” Tonks offered quickly pulling on her bra and knickers, dutifully ignoring a wolf whistle from Bellatrix who was clearly still loitering around as she sprinted down the hallway and returned with two sets of jeans and two shirts, pulling one over her head before trying to apply jeans with far more haste than one should apply jeans that tight by jumping up and down around the room.

“Tonks am I even going to be able to fit in these – shit!” she cried, reaching out as Tonks stumbled over in her pants dance, nearly falling face first onto the edge of the bath before pausing in the air. “Did I – did I just do that wandlessly and wordlessly without even practicing?”

“Amazing!” Tonks cried before dropping to the floor and leaping back to her feet to kiss her cheek and continue her jeans wriggle. “God you’re arse is going to look fucking phenomenal in those jeans sweets, I left you the tight ones on purpose” she winked.

“How are you so energetic? We’ve had two hours sleep! Did you eat coffee powder when you went to get these?” Hermione demanded incredulously. “And, I say again – am I even going to be able to fit in these?”

“Oh I would kill for coffee” Tonks groaned. “But mostly I’m just excited to see mum blow up at someone who isn’t me. It almost never happens. Come on, quick, in the jeans!”

Grumbling at the rush and being awoken after only two hours sleep in the past two days or so, Hermione put on her bra and, eying her 24 hour old underwear, gave Tonks an indecent wink and slowly stepped into the jeans. “You don’t mind if I go commando do you?” she asked innocently as she shimmied them up her bare legs. She smirked at Tonks when her violet eyes flashed and she bit her bottom lip and whined before turning to face the wall.

“Stop that immediately, unless you want to miss the grand event and have me shag you here in the bathroom where Bella will probably walk in and give us a running commentary” she stated.

“I would, you know. It’s been a long, lonely 14 years” Bellatrix called from where ever she was in the house and Tonks snorted.

“See? Now for the sake of efficiency I’ll walk in front of you, you don't seem to suffer from my raging libido” Tonks chuckled as she stepped out the door. Hermione looked down to see the shirt she had been given was a ratty old Hufflepuff Quidditch shirt that said TONKS in large letters on the back and scowled at it before creeping up behind Tonks seeking revenge and breathing huskily in her ear.

“Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”

“Oh fuck” Tonks growled and turned to look at her hungrily while Hermione could only give her a smug look.

“Come on love birds, dinner and a show first then you can sneak off for a shag. When all the Blacks are reunited I’ve decided I can be the cool Aunt, Cissa can be the proper fancy one who lectures you all on manners and saving yourself for marriage and all that nonsense. Though I don’t know what the rules are with the gays” Bella mused as she walked up behind them in the corridor and shoved them down the hallway.

Stepping through the Floo back into the Tonks Cottage moments later Hermione flushed under the heat of Tonks’ gaze and mouthing of “later!” with a lecherous wink and was quickly hustled by a gleeful Sirius through to the sitting room where they were instructed to hide quickly as Dumbledore was expected in the next few minutes.

“Tonks, how are we going to fit Bella, Sirius, you, Minerva and I under two invisibility cloaks?” Hermione asked practically. “Wont he be able to sense us anyway? I’m sure Harry and Ron suspect he could.”

“I will most certainly not be hiding under an invisibility cloak!” Minerva scowled at the group before Andy rushed into the kitchen looking furious.

“Firstly, he is only permitted to breath under my wards because I allow it, he has absolutely zero chance of casting any magic with a wand or without it, just keep your damn Occlumency shields up to prevent passive legilimency. Secondly, you most certainly will be Minnie, I won’t having you getting obliviated again” Andromeda snapped as she walked into the sitting room and, seeing the excitable group, threw her hands up in frustration. Hermione watched as Minerva eyed the fireplace and the group, clearly deciding if she should leave and miss the drama or watch like a voyeur with the Blacks and Hermione, frowned deeply and strode over to the group.

“Here, pass me a Cloak” Bella insisted and snatched Harry’s out of her hands. “God this thing is tiny! Be bigger!” she yelled impatiently before staring wide-eyed as it the shimmery material seemed to expand before her eyes. “Smaller!” she yelled and it shrunk and the occupants of the room all stared at it in amazement while she grinned gleefully. “Bigger again! Much bigger!”

“Give me Moody’s!” Sirius yelled and snatched it from a shell shocked Hermione. “I command you to be bigger!” stated firmly and Bellatrix cackled when nothing happened.

“Ha! Clearly you can’t speak to the cloaks like I can” she said and raised her chin in the air imperiously.

“Well give me that one!”

“No! I had it first” Bellatrix snarled.

“Shh! He’s here!” Tonks hissed, feeling the wards flicker and quickly snatched the Cloak from Bellatrix and flung it over everyones head as they huddled together before realising everything from the knees down was still visible and Dumbledore was likely to be suspicious seeing five sets of disemobdied legs in the corner. Hermione had to cover her mouth to stop a fit of giggles when everyone started frantically hissing ‘Bigger! Bigger!’ to the cloak as it inched towards the ground, including her frantic looking Transfiguration professor.

“Amateurs. Now stay still” Andromeda muttered, rolling her eyes before waving her wand to cast a silencing spell on the group of them all hidden under Harry’s miracle cloak and glancing to the door and a dangerous smile appeared on her face, making Hermione shiver.

“Dumbledore” Andromeda stated, wandlessly and wordlessly disarming him with a vague wave of her hand. “Please, come in. Do take a seat.”

Dumbleore, to his credit, other than a brief flash of something, appeared unphased by the fact that he was wandless and dutifully strode into the room and took a seat on the lounge where Andromeda guestured and she dropped the wand on the table in front of them both.

“What brings you to my humble home today?” She inquired politely.

“Andromeda, I came to express my condolences regarding your sister. I understand young Nymphadora was the one to find the body of both her aunt and Warden Rossington. A shame, to lose two people in such an unfortunate circumstance” he said quietly and Hermione placed a hand on both Tonks and Bella to placate them as they stiffened. “I do hope you and your family are not too burdened, weighed down with the loss. I must say you appear to be holding up quite well” he stated carefully and Andromeda’s eyes narrowed slightly.

“I can only assume you refer to me being burdened with the knowledge that you let my innocent sister risk her life for your little schemes then rot in Azkaban. I can assure you I am pleased to know she is no longer suffering. Any burden, or loss, rests on you” she replied coldly.

“Alas, Andromeda, if it was an outcome I could have avoided I can assure you I would have leaped at the opportunity” he said sadly. “Are you aware that young Nymphadora has been assisting me with some projects of late?” Hermione saw Andromeda stiffen and Hermione found herself incredibly relieved that her mother, in fact, had been recently made aware of such a thing and had reached a begrudging understanding about why Tonks had been helping with the Order.

“Yes, Albus, I am.”

“It is dangerous work, I can assure you that I hold her safety in the highest of consideration” he said seriously. “It is important that we all band together now, more than ever, to stop the Dark Lord from destroying families, destroying all we hold dear, and work together” he said calmly. To Hermione’s surprise, Andromeda began to laugh though the sound was not pleasant or warm like it had been the other times she had heard it.

“Did you really come here, on the day my sister’s death was announced, to try and recruit me to your Order which, might I add, has done far more damage to my family than Voldemort himself, by threatening to not look after my daughter?” she asked incredulously. “Because let me make this very clear, if anything happens to even a hair on her head in this war while she is working under your merry band of misfits there will not be a place on Earth I wouldn’t find you and make you suffer for what you have done to my family.” Despite the calm tone to her words Hermione felt the magic in the air crackle around her and watched as the saucer in front of Andromeda on the table began to tremble.

“I was afraid you would say that” he sighed. “Perhaps you might find yourself more agreeable should you not be so concerned with dear Bellatrix’s actions throughout the war and were more focused on the future.”

“What, you mean her innocence?” Andromeda snarled suddenly and stood up as the windows began to rattle with Andromeda's barely restrained fury “Planning to obliviate me of that fact, help me along?” Hermione chanced a look in the corner of her eyes to see that almost everyone had drawn there wands and were glaring furiously at Dumbledore as hard as she was.

“Of course not Andromeda” Dumbledore replied, backtracking though his tone had taken on an irritated note. “I would be a fool to even try with the protection you no doubt have on your property. I am merely pointing out the dangers that we all face and the importance of us all working together to protect those who cannot protect themselves, particularly those of us too young to protect themselves.If your sister had been alive and managed to escape with the other prisoners I believe we will see over the coming weeks her position as His most trusted Death Eater would have been a vital blow against the darkness and saved many lives. Why even at Hogwarts we have the the Ministry interfering with my students. Madame Umbridge is a known pure-blood supremacist with suspected links to Death Eaters, and quite legally targets those from muggleborn backgrounds without restraint. For example, I believe your daughter would by now be quite familiar with young Miss Granger, having met her at the Order Headquarters over the summer. I am only human, it is unfortunate that for the greater good of Britain as a whole more of time is spent recruiting capable outliers to fight the Dark Lords forces as it leaves my other duties and roles with less time, and less protection.”

Hermione’s jaw dropped at the thinly veiled threat to her person and felt herself nearly stumble forward, turning to see Sirius, Bellatrix and Minerva struggling to hold still her red-headed girlfriend who looked ready to throw herself from under the Cloak and murder the Headmaster with her bare hands. Being at the front of the group she carefully turned to face her and placed a hand on Tonks’ face, forcing furious eyes to meet her own and shook her head in warning, holding her gaze until eventually she nodded and the group gently released her arms. At the sound of of a breaking glass Hermione whipped around quickly again saw the cup on the table had shattered and the windows rattled even more loudly as the tension in the room crackled.

“If you step foot in my home again there wont be enough pieces of you left to fill a shoebox let alone a coffin. How dare you threaten to not protect your students, not protect my daughter – your fellow Order members. Get. Out.” Andromeda hissed, handing him his wand.

“Andromeda, I fear you misunderstand -”

“I understand perfectly, Albus Dumbledore, now leave this place before you lose the opportunity and you leave my family alone” she snarled.

Albus stood and calmly strode from the room, letting himself out and the room stilled when he disapparated with a loud crack and the cloak was quickly dropped to the floor.

“That fucking - I’ll strangle him with his own beard!” Bellatrix screeched and Tonks glowered dangerously at the spot he had disappeared from, clenching her fists. To her surprise, Andromeda strode over to Hermione and pulled her into a warm embrace before pulling away and holding her by the shoulders.

“You need to stay away from that man, do you hear me? All of you!” Andromeda declared and Hermione nodded seeing her chin trembling as though she was either restraining tears or fury before yanking her into another embrace that left her gasping for air.

“Alright, no need to kill the girl Andy” Sirius murmured placing a calming hand on his cousins shoulder before wincing as Andromeda launched herself on him instead.

“We can’t go back to Grimmauld Place, can we?” Tonks asked and Hermione shook her head, giving a grim smile to McGonogall as she placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“No, it’s too dangerous. We need to think of something else” Hermione muttered and rubbed at her face.

“Well this looks like a fun welcome home party” came another voice from the doorway and Ted strolled in, looking nervously around before spotting his wife’s disposition and rushing over to her.

“What’s happened Andy? I haven’t seen you this riled up since you last saw Dumbledore on your trip to the Ministry.”

“She saw him again, dad” Tonks replied, anger still lacing her words. “He came to offer his condolences over Bella’s death.”

“But...isn’t that Bella right there?” he asked nervously. “Hello, erm, long time no see” he offered before putting his hand out to shake and Bellatrix threw a glance around the room.

“He’s been a good man? Protected her?” Bella asked looking at Tonks and McGonogall and when they both nodded, incredulous that she would even ask, and she dodged a smack from her sister. “Alright, alright, I was just checking” she scowled before grasping his hand then, with an awkward shrug, hugged him instead.

“Thank you for looking after her. I worried about her the most, being such a target” she mumbled and he patted her gently on the back.

“That’s more than alright love, I haven’t seen you since your last year at Hogwarts. From what I can gather all your secret visits I pointedly ignored happened whenever I wasn’t around. I’d never let anything happen to her though, or our Dora. Family is everything” he said firmly and she nodded as she met his eyes. “I take it this now includes the rest of you lot?” he inquired. “Am I right to assume we are about to have a few more houseguests?”

“I think that would be best for Bella and Sirius as well as the girls” Minerva stated calmly. “At least for the weekend to give everyone time to rest and plan. You’ll be pleased to know, Ted, that you currently have two of the brightest witches I have ever taught in the room and I’m sure they will think of something if they apply themselves “ she said shooting a pointed look to Bellatrix “And don’t go and instigate any wild plans of saving the world without assistance” she added looking to Hermione who flushed, in comparison to Bellatrix’s smirk.

“Going back to Hogwarts Minerva?” Andromeda asked and she nodded.

“I shall try to return again later on this weekend. Do not try to pass on anything confidential through Floo Call or owl, I suspect the Ministry is searching the mail and monitoring the Floo” and the group nodded. She quickly departed and group collapsed onto the lounge. Hermione tucked herself into Tonks who yawned widely and winced as her mother caught her eye.

“Back to bed, both of you. And yes you can share! Lets not have a repeat of earlier this morning” Andromeda muttered quickly shooting a warning look to Bellatrix and Sirius. Not having it in her to argue, or even be embarrassed, Hermione nodded her thanks and stood up, pulling up her witch and allowing herself to be steered into the bedroom.

“Please don’t forget to cast the right privacy spells though!” Andromeda called up the stairs after a beat and Hermione winced as Bellatrix cackled gleefully with Sirius.

“Erm...That won’t be necessary!” she shouted in assurance as she was pushed out of sight around the corner towards Tonks’ bedroom.

“Yes it will” Tonks growled as her eyes flashed darkly and her fair faded to a dark, almost black purple and pushed her against the wall next to her doorway, latching onto her neck so hard with her teeth Hermione wouldn’t have been surprised if she drew blood and she quickly shoved her own hand in her mouth and bit down to stifle a moan. Hermione fumbled with her other hand for the door behind her and found herself shoved into the room while Tonks flicked her wand to cast the relevant privacy spells, never letting her eyes leave Hermione's face.

Nymphadora Tonks was not generally an aggressive or possesive person and had never particularly been much of an aggressive lover – not that this was any criticism on her or a sign of any lack of competence, Hermione mused, but it had been the most stressful fortnight of Hermione’s life and she could certainly understand where this slightly unusual behaviour was coming from on a logical level. On a more intimate level, the feral look in her witches eyes as she stared at her possessively was making the fact that she wasn’t wearing any underwear exceedingly obvious.

Having finished casting the spells Tonks seemed frozen in the doorway and Hermione quickly stepped towards here and shimmied out of the jeans and slowly peeled the shirt and bra off her, maintaining steady eye contact as Tonks visibly swallowed and stepped so close to her they almost touched and she noted how her trembling hands clenched and her eyes closed.

“Don’t hold back, take what you need.”

This was, apparently, the only thing she needed to say and she found herself spun around and pushed back against the closed door with teeth on her neck and hands grasping at her roughly, and something inside her coiled and snapped as she quickly divested Tonks of her shirt before hearing another low rumble in her chest at the intrusion, forcing her to step back as the top came over her head before their bare chests pressed together again and Tonks grasped at her thighs to wrap them around her waist, lifting her against the door. Tonks jammed a hand beneath them and they both groaned loudly at the sensation of her rough hands sinking down into the apex of her thighs.

Tonks quickly set a brutal pace as she fucked her with her fingers and all Hermione found she could do was claw at Tonks’ back with her nails as she came to pieces, feeling hot breath on her neck as Tonks pressed her forhead into her the increasingly blemished skin of her neck and collarbone as she felt her muscles tense around the still pistoning fingers inside her, and when she came quickly, then again mere moments later she was glad for the silencing spells as she cried out and bit back a sob as they sunk to the floor, a tangle of arms and legs.

To her surprise, Hermione recovered first and unceremoniously ripped the jeans from Tonks’ legs and latched on to a nipple, gripping harder as Tonks moaned her name. Tonks climbed on top of her and despite the somewhat awkward angle of her wrist sunk firmly onto Hermione’s waiting hand without warning, and rode her unabashed.

Hermione nearly came again herself from the site of Tonks bouncing on her hand when she opened her eyes and grabbed a hold of Hermione’s disheveled hair, forcing eye contact as she came until the shattered pieces of her psyche slowly came together and she sunk to the floor and Hermione felt herself pulled close, a hand resting possessively on her chest and a head on her shoulder.

“Mine” Tonks muttered incoherently and Hermione placed a kiss to the top of her head and waved her fumbling hand blindly around behind her, pulling the blanket off the bed to cover them on the floor. They were both asleep within moments.

0x0x0

Tonks winced and stretched carefully to not wake Hermione, still kindly acting as a pillow from their spot on the floor and rubbing her eyes with the ball of her hand before opening them and yelping at the sight of Bellatrix crouching over her again, grinning widely and waggling her eyebrows suggestively. Hermione, underneath her head, woke from the noise cracked an eye open and groaned loudly, pulling the blanket over her head.

“No. No, no. This isn’t my life now” Hermione mumbled, the sound muffled by the blankets. “We should have left her in Azkaban.”

“Am I going to wake up to your face every bloody day now? Why do you keep doing this?” Tonks cried out in exasperation.

“Well excuse me, given that you’ve been asleep for 20 hours your mother – future mother-in-law for you, kitten – sent me up to fetch you for lunch” Bellatrix replied and Tonks groaned loudly.

“Can’t you just knock on the door like a normal person?” Hermione snapped.

“No, I think this way is far more amusing. Andy said I needed to do things around the house to keep busy and I have missed out on over a decade of family bonding, so I’ve decided on this to set up a familiar routine” she declared happily.

“You’re fucking mental” Tonks growled. “Get out now, please.”

“Fine, but I wont subject your poor parents to this obvious display of violent love-making for their sake” she said, waving a hand at the scattered clothes around the room and obvious bite and claw-marks on what she could see on their shoulders as she yanked the blanket from over their heads to their chests. “I’ll fetch my cousin to get you up instead. Sirius!” she yelled in a sing-song voice. “The girls want to say good morning!”

“No we don’t!” yelped Hermione.

“Bella! Leave the girls alone!” came Andy’s voice from the other end of the house.

“Tonks I love you, these months we spent together have been amazing but we are going to have to call it a day” Hermione sighed. “My fragile mental state can’t take much more of this.”

“Nice try kitten, your stuck with us now” Bellatrix cackled and Tonks snorted.

“Do you think we can transfigure her into coffee? I need coffee” Tonks said. “Where’s my wand?”

“If that doesn’t work we can just blast her through the wall” Hermione stage-whispered dangerously.

“And that attitude, kitten, is why you are stuck with us. Face it, you belong here” Bellatrix laughed and skipped from the room. “Andy, put the coffee on. You should have warned me they’re like bears with sore heads in the morning. Worse than you even!”

“What are you talking about Bellatrix Black? I warned you to not go in there at all!” Andromeda yelled back.

“What have we done?” Hermione mumbled and sat up, rubbing her eyes. “We’ve made a horrible mistake.”

“Yes, but we will just have to live with it now, wont we. You alright?” Tonks asked, sitting up alongside her and placing a kiss to her temple. “Wow your hair is practically a sentient being this morning” she chuckled, trying to smooth it down somewhat.

“A little sore, but definitely not in a bad way” Hermione grinned cheekily before catching sight of her hair in her reflection. “Oh Christ its enormous” she groaned.

“Come on, coffee and food first, hair later” Tonks grinned helping her to her feet and throwing on some clothes before waving a hand at her wardrobe and tallboy. “Help yourself by the way.”

“That’s easy for you to say, with your bloody magical hair” Hermione muttered before summoning her knapsack. “And I think I’ll stick to my own for now, I could barely breath in your tight jeans yesterday.”

“You looked delicious in them though” Tonks grinned. “And I insist you keep my old Quidditch shirt when you go back to Hogwarts. It will amuse me endlessly to know you’ll be sleeping in it.”

“Well it will amuse me endlessly to not wake up to your highly inappropriate aunt, you’ll have her all to yourself” Hermione shot back smugly and chuckled as Tonks shuddered. “Now come here love, lets hide the evidence of our debauchery before we head downstairs shall we?”

Tonks could only beam happily as Hermione leaned over and delicately traced her wand over the marks on her shoulders and neck before stepping backwards when she went to heal her back. “Nah you can leave those ones, the sting will be a happy reminder of yesterday and no one will see them. Your turn” she giggled as Hermione rolled her eyes. Making their way downstairs Tonks stepped into the kitchen and wrapped her arms around her mothers waist as she cooked and rested her face on her back between her shoulder blades.

“Hello mother dearest, who I love with all my heart. How are you this morning on this beautiful day, almost as beautiful as you?”

“Coffee’s on the table you rotter” Andromeda chuckled and patted her hand. “Now get out of my kitchen, shoo.”

Tonks threw herself into a chair at the dining table and watched happily as Sirius and Bellatrix bickered while her father and girlfriend watched quietly in amusement and sipped at their coffees while she gratefully took a swig of her own and Andromeda came and took a seat at the table, serving everyone some stew which she tucked into enthusiastially.

“Mum, can you please make Bella stop waking us up?” Tonks asked innocently and Andromeda shot a glance to her sister and raised an eyebrow.

“Family bonding!” Bellatrix cried and Tonks recoiled when her mother turned back to her with a smirk.

“No. You can suffer through it, that can be your eternal punishment for doing something so dangerous in the first place. An excellent reminder, I think” she said and Tonks covered her face with her hands and groaned loudly as Hermione muttered ‘bugger’ quietly under her breath.

“Ha!” Bellatrix cried victoriously.

“On a different note, we’ve had a few ideas about what to do about everyone’s living situations” Ted interjected calmly and Tonks watched as Hermione turned to face him in interest. “It seems to me that the Order is splintered and, to be frank, not particularly effective. We can’t exactly put this place under the Fideleous as much as I’d like to and it’s likely to get a bit cramped given in the holidays Harry will be here as well and he wont want to share a room with this scoundrel” he said slapping Sirius on the back.

“I don’t think he’d mind at all, given his living situation at the Dursley’s he would live in a cardboard box with you if he had to without a word of complaint” Hermione smiled at Sirius who patted her hand gratefully.

“Still, not particularly practical with us all on top of each other, so I had another idea to implement over the Christmas break. Harry can come here and use some of his godfathers never ending pile of gold to purchase something more appropriate and we can ward that. A new headquarters, I suppose” Ted mused, rubbing at his chin.

“If we find someplace big enough then anyone else in the order not wanting to put up with Dumbledore’s rot can come and stay as well.”

“As long as they don’t have any of us sent to Azkaban and want Voldemort gone I don’t care if we have 1000 residents” Bellatrix declared and Tonks nodded in agreement.

“Will we be able to get something set up for Moony do you reckon?” Sirius asked and Hermione nodded.

“We can come up with something secure enough, the hard part will be convincing him it isn’t charity and it won’t be to the detriment of everyone around him existing with people close by” she warned and he nodded, determined.

“Who’s Moony?” Bellatrix asked with interest.

“Reums Lupin. He’s a werewolf” Hermione said and Tonks noted her and Sirius watching for a reaction and she scoffed.

“Oh please. If I can put up with that fucker Greyback I won’t have a problem with your Mr Moony” she drawled. “I was the one to set up the wards to keep him contained on the rare occasion he wasn’t ordered off to wreak havoc on Britain on the full moon, we can handle that easily. So whats the long term plan, after security? I assume it won’t be our life’s accomplishment to hide forever and hope the Dark Lord goes away, or Albus Dumbledore.” Tonks grinned widely as Hermione jumped up from the table and started pacing. She looked even more like a mad scientist with her mental hair.

“We need to get rid of Voldemort for good. If we can do that, Dumbledore will be a non-issue. In the mean time we just need to avoid his machinations” she mused aloud. “But to do that properly, we need to work out how he managed to not die the first time. There must be something that stops him from being killed.”

“Some sort of ritual, I’d bet. He talked about immortality all the bloody time” said Bellatrix as she slowly climbed to her feet and began pacing around the other side of the table. Tonks bit her lip at an effort not to laugh at the sight of both of them doing the Mad Scientist lecture. “There might be something in the library at Grimmauld Place. Is it secure enough to search the house for us, or will Dumbledore drop in and try something?”

“Why not re-cast the Fidelious?” Andromeda asked. “As long as the secret keeper doesn’t live there that would keep it secure until we find somewhere more appropriate that isn’t full of dark magic and somewhere the Death Eaters might start hanging around the front of, waiting for us to slip up. Who else is living there at the moment?”

“It was just Moony and Tonks and I” Sirius said, rubbing his face. “If we do that then Bella, Tonks, Remus and I can look through the library and the house for anything helpful. Ted can look for a new safe place for us and put down a deposit and Harry can visit Gringotts and finalise everything when he gets back from Hogwarts. While Bella isn’t doing anything strenuous she can rest up before Hermione hacks off her arm.”

“Hey! I won’t be hacking off her arm! Well not unless its a last resort anyway” she trailed off, looking troubled.

“Does anyone know how to actually cast a Fidelious?” Tonks asked and Bellatrix raised her hand. “Someone who isn’t temporarily banned from using magic?”

“I can teach smarty-pants over here. She’ll pick it up quickly, we can do it tomorrow before she has to head back to Hogwarts” Bellatrix offered and winked at Hermione who scowled at her.

“Who’s going to contact the other Order members to see if they want to leave Dumbledore to his own devices?” Tonks asked. “And what do we do to check they aren’t spying on us?”

“Question them with Veritaserum to see if they are committing for the right or wrong reasons. If they say no, they can go on their way with no hard feelings.” Hermione said strongly. “It’s not worth the risk. I can talk to Harry and the Weasleys, I suppose you would be in the best position to deal with the other Ministry employee’s love.”

“What do we tell them about, well, me?” Bellatrix asked.

“The truth. Dumbledore threw you to the wolves.” Andromeda said firmly. “With an unbreakable vow that they won’t reveal it.” Her statement was met with nods.

“That’s a good start for now then if we’re done. I can’t think of anything else urgent for us to start working on. Did you want to start showing me the Fidelious Charm?”

“Um, the hell we’re done!” Tonks said incredulously. “What the hell are we meant to be doing to keep you safe at school? I’ve been worried enough with that fucking toad Umbridge making life hard for you, let alone all that shite Dumbledore said yesterday. It’s only the start of December, you still have 6 months of school!”

“Love, I know you don’t like it but...what can we do?” Hermione asked softly. We’ve still been practicing our defense and I keep an eye out, and I’m sure McGonogall and Snape are keeping an eye on things now but I what would you have me do?”

“Extra precautions. You stick to your work, keep your head down and out of trouble. Nothing risky or things that will draw Dumbledore or Umbridge’s attention to you. You follow curfew, and go nowhere alone. Don’t make me storm that school and end up in Azkaban again seeking vengeance for something someone’s done to you” Bellatrix said firmly. Hermione’s face betrayed her emotions as surprise flickered across her face followed by genuine affection.

“I’m touched, but please don’t do that.”

“I will! I think I can say with some certainty most sitting at this table would.”

“All of us would” Andromeda said firmly, taking her hand. Tonks felt a rush of warmth settle in her chest looking around at her family. She wouldn’t change it for the world.

Chapter Text

Hermione sighed as she sunk into a chair in the common rooms of Gryffindor tower with Harry and Ron taking a spot on either side of her. It had been a long three weeks and she could not wait to get out of the school for two weeks when the holidays started tomorrow. Tonks had, in the name of her safety, sent Harry and Ron strongly worded letters explaining that Hermione was to be guarded at all times to ensure that she didn’t get into any trouble with Umbridge and Dumbledore apparently having it in for her. Her loyal boys had taken to the task with gusto and as lovely as it was knowing they cared if she walked out of the loo one more time to find them standing in the corridors glaring suspiciously at other toilet users as if they expected the poor girls to start throwing unforgivables around she would start throwing them aroung herself. Not four hours earlier she had needed to have a very uncomfortable discussion with Ron about guarding her life with slightly less enthusiasm for fear he was starting to be seen as some sort of pervert with the way he was often spotted loitering around the girls bathrooms.

“Who bloody cares what those tossers think ‘Mione? The only thing that matters is that you’re alright. They can shove off” he said loyally, crossing his arms across his chest and baring his teeth at some worried 2nd years who scampered past and she had found herself closing her eyes and trying to take a few deep breaths to not bite his head off.

“Plus Tonks has promised to have her, Snuffles and Mitzy teach us some questionable spells from the Black library. They’ll be great if I want to become an Auror” Harry beamed. Harry, at least, was much more subtle in his attempts to never leave her side and when he wasn’t, at least the general population of Hogwarts was back to treating him like a celebrity thanks to his recent interview with the Quibbler about the return of the Dark Lord after the Azkaban break out orchestrated by Voldemort, so he was less likely to be arrested for suspected sexual deviancy. Hermione snorted at Bellatrix’s code name for use in public areas. Tonks had gleefully put forward the suggestion one day over dinner to a vote with herself, Andromeda, Ted, Sirius and Bellatrix. There had been four ‘ayes’ to one emphatic ‘nay!’ and Bellatrix had apparently pouted for three hours.

“Wonderful” Hermione grumbled. “Perhaps now we are back in the safety of the common room I can regain some personal space?”

“Sure thing. Sorry Hermione” Harry chuckled, relocating to another seat and Hermione mused that perhaps his recent bout of emotional turbulence was finally over given he felt he was doing something productive with his time. She regarded them both fondly – to their credit they had taken the news that she had assisted in a prison break and the resulting Unbreakable Vow that McGonogall had supervised awfully well. Ginny had laughed so hard that she had needed to be administered a calming draught and Fred and George had taken to referring to her as ‘my liege’ and bowing when she passed them in the halls.

“Oohh look at Granger and her posse of boys. Do you think she sucks them off individually or one at a time?” came a shrill stage whisper of Lavender Brown as she walked past with an uncomfortable looking Pavarti. Hermione rolled her eyes and reminded herself for the tenth time that week to be the bigger person.

“It’s alright boys, I appreciate it. Sorry for being so grumpy. Perhaps while you prevent me from leaving your sight you can do some revision” she smiled, which widened as they winced, and began unpacking her bag into the spot Harry had vacated and pulling out her homework. “Bugger, now what did I do with that pen?”

As much as Hermione enjoyed the novelty of Quills she really did prefer a standard ball-point pen when it came to most of her writing and emptied her pockets onto the end table beside her as she rummaged and after finding it started on her Potions Essay. Time passed quickly as she zoned out and focused on her task, smiling when she finished and dropped the parchment onto the table with a flourish before staring at Harry and Ron. Harry appeared to be at least attempting his work but managed to somehow get ink all over his face. Ron was staring out the window playing with a galleon with a blank bit of parchment in front of him.

“Oi Ginny, what are you up to?” Ron asked and looked apologetically at Hermione who had pointedly waved his blank essay in front of him. Ginny came and perched on the side of the lounge and began recounting a story about Luna, who Hermione was pleased to say she was now quite close to, being busted in the Great Hall at 2am the night prior searching for Blibbering Humdingers by Professor Snape who had ended up so exasperated by her explanation of what she was doing that he hadn’t even given her detention in his haste to be rid of her and have her return to her dorms. The group had finished chuckling when Ron had suddenly flung the galleon onto the ground with a yelp.

“Ow! Why is your money hot Hermione?” he demanded and she stared at him in confusion.

“Why is my money hot? What are you talking abo – oh my god” she paled. “The wards have been triggered!”

“What? What wards have been triggered? Hermione!” Harry yelled grabbing her as she began to dash towards the portrait. “Stop! What’s happening?” he demanded.

“My parents – the galleon – the galleon is a link to the wards, it grows hot if something is trying to breach them” she gasped out hurriedly. “I need to go there, I need Professor McGonogall and – and Tonks – fuck!” she swore, yanking her arm out of Harry’s grip. “I haven’t got time for this, I’ll let you know what happens!”

“Like hell!” Ron yelled, standing. “We’re coming with you!”

“We won’t hold you back, go. We’re right behind you” Harry added with a nod and she tore from the room towards McGonogalls office with Harry, Ron and Ginny trailing after her. Leaping into the corridor she ran into Fred and George who promptly turned tail and followed the trail of running students.

“Where are we running?” Fred asked.

“McGonogalls office – someone is attacking Hermione’s house” Harry shouted and picked up the pace – Hermione found herself grateful for all the physical training they had done as her legs pounded down the hallway and she shouted out ‘Glenmorangie!’ and flung the door open only to skidd to a halt to see Umbridge and Professor McGonogall in a heated screaming match.

“I will be leaving Dolores!”

“I can assure you, given my Floo is the only one that is currently functioning as a security measure, you will not! I don’t care if some little mudblood is claiming her family is in danger I have sealed the school! This is a plot to threaten the Ministry and I will not have it! No one is going anywhere!”

“Oh, I see Dolores, and did Lucius ask you to say that?” McGonogall demanded. “You are a fool to let yourself be manipulated in this way! These people are killers!”

“If Lucius warned Cornelius of a threat to the Ministry that is none of your business!” she screeched. “He is a trusted Ministry advisor!”

“He is a Death Eater!” McGonogall yelled and magic crackled in the air.

“I don't have time for this!” Hermione yelled hysterically, storming into the room. “Umbridge, let me the fuck out of this school right now!”

“How dare you speak to me that way! Was that a threat?”

“This is a threat!” she snarled, blasting the light over her head and showering the indignant Professor with glass. “Unseal it!”

“You’ll be rotting in Azkaban before the day is through you little wretch!” Umbridge howled and waved her wand. “Cruc -”

“Stupefy!” came the shout of the seven other occupants of the room as Umbridge sunk to the floor unconscious.

“Well, as satisfying as that was, I don’t suppose you know the password to Madame Umbridges office do you?” McGonogall said unhappily. Hermione simply growled in frustration and Harry stepped forward to awkwardly pet her back.

“Let’s head to her office, we can work something out” he soothed. “Come on, lets keep moving.” Racing down to the 5th floor corridor her office was located on everyone frantically began screaming potential passwords at the door after unlocking passwords didn’t work.

“Toad!”

“Fudge!”

“Torture!”

“Pure-blood!”

“Sacred 28!”

“I hate mudbloods!”

“I hate McGonogall!”

“Kitten! No, cat!”

Feeling her temper rise Hermione simply kicked the door and winced at the pain when Luna came strolling along the corridor.

“Hello everyone, what are you doing?” she asked politely.

“Luna! We need to get into Umbridge’s office, do you know the password?” Ginny asked quickly, taking her hand.

“No, and I suspect we shan’t guess it. There’s always another way though” she said dreamily.

“Like what?” Hermione snapped and watched in amazement as Luna suddenly stepped back from the door and dragged her backwards as well.

“Bombarda Maxima!” she cried and the heavy stone wall exploded into the room.

“That’ll do it” Ron said in amazement.

“Ms Lovegood, what a welcome addition to our posse of heroes!” George cried as they stepped over the fireplace to the Floo grate.

“Alright children, thank you for your assistance” McGonogall said calmly as she examined the fireplace. “Now if you will all return to your dorm rooms I shall return shortly.” Turning to face Hermione she frowned to see Hermione raise her wand to point at her. Hermione noted grimly that Harry, Ron, the twins as well as Ginny and Luna raised theres as well after a moments hesitation.

“I’m so sorry, please don’t make me do it” Hermione whispered desperately and sighed with relief to see her roll her eyes and step asdie.

“Come on then, all of you. Bloody selfless Gryffindors” she muttered under her breath as Hermione stepped into the Floo.

“Tonks Cottage!”

0x0x0

Tonks hummed happily to herself as she washed her hair in the shower relieved that Hermione would be safe with her tomorrow and reached for the conditioner which she worked into a lather.

“What are you singing?” A voice said from beside the shower and Tonks yelped in surprise and dropped the conditioner bottle on her foot and quickly wiped at the clouded glass to glare at her aunt. .

“Ow! Bella! What the fuck are you doing? Remember that talk we had about personal space?” she tried her hardest not to snap.

“I was lonely” Bellatrix replied before taking a seat on the vanity and crossing her legs as she fiddled with the knick knacks Tonks had dropped on the sink before stripping off..

“How about we catch up after I finish my shower and get dressed?” she suggested.

“No, I’m fine chatting now” Bellatrix grinned. “How was your day? Are you excited for kitten to return? Did you shave your legs?”

Tonks sighed irritably. “My day was lovely, thank you Bella. Yes I am quite excited Hermione will be here tomorrow and yes my legs are hair free though I don’t actually need to shave. I can magic it away”

“Tell me, do you remove your pubic hair?” Bellatrix asked suddenly and Tonks quietly hit her head on the shower wall in frustration. “When I was your age the trend was a full bush, if you know what I mean, but I don’t want to be behind the times.”

“Are we seriously having this conversation?” Tonks asked in surprise.

“I found some of Sirius’ dirty magazines and more than half of them had no pubic hair! I nearly fell over with shock. A few of them even got rid of most of the hair but trimmed the rest into an itty bitty symbol. The hallows one looked like it would have been hard to do” Bellatrix mused. “Do you trim yours into a symbol?”

“Oh my god. Bella, I do remove my pubic hair but I don’t have it in a pattern. My fanny is hair-free.”

“So I should shave my own, then?”

“That’s your choice. Some people prefer it to have no hair, some like a...a full bush. I, personally, don’t care in the slightest what you do with your pubic hair.”

“Could you make your pubic hair a different colour?”

“Yes. Can I just say this conversation is making me truly uncomfortable.”

“Does kitten shave her pubic hair? Maybe I should do a poll. The women in the magazine might not be an accurate representation of the pubic hair trends of today.”

“I tell you what, you can ask Hermione if she shaves her pubic hair when you see her, Bella. I think if I answered any questions like that she would hex me into next week. Or never let me look at it again.”

“Thats fair. Hey do you think – ouch! Why is your money hot?” she demanded suddenly.

“What are you crapping on about now?” Tonks asked in exasperation.

“Your stupid galleon burnt me!”

“Wha - FUCK!” Tonks cried, switching off the shower.

“What? What’s happening?” Bella demanded.

“That coin! It’s linked to the wards I did at Hermione’s parents house, someones trying to get in!” she said, grabbing a towel and quickly drying herself and stepping out to throw her clothes on.

“I’ll get everyone organised” Bella said seriously and charged down the stairs while Tonks laced her boots up and raced down to meet them to find her mother berating her sister.

“Of course I’m coming Andy, you think I’m going to be able to stand here and watch my whole family charge off into danger? We’ve only just come together again!” Bellatrix shouted. “I can wear a disguise, look!” she yelled, hastily pulling on her nieces purple hoody and a blue Chicago Cubs hat.

“Bella you can’t! I’m sorry, but you can’t risk doing any magic. Hermione will be here tomorrow and start to remove the mark but we can’t risk it!”

“I don’t need magic! I’ll kill them with my bare hands if they lay a finger on any of you” Bellatrix growled.

“No! Don’t make me stun you!” Andromeda snapped as Bellatrix stood so close to her their noses almost touched.

“I’d like to see you try” she hissed.

“Enough! We don’t have time for this!” Tonks yelled firmly. “Bella AND Sirius have to stay. Mum, Dad, start making some Portkeys to send anyone back here who’s injured. Bella, you’ll have to help tend to any injuries with Sirius if anyone appears. Please.” she pleaded. “I didn’t risk everything to have you out of that hellhole and put you in a situation where you could get hurt because you can’t use magic, or get arrested. Please, please stay.”

“Fine!” Bellatrix snapped as the Floo roared green and everyone tumbled through. Tonks embraced Hermione who had thrown herself in her arms.

“Right, Weasley twins, Hermione, with me. The rest of you lot can stay and tend to the injured people we have to send back here” Tonks commanded.

“What?!” Harry roared.

“Mr Potter you are all underage! Yourself, Mr Wesley, Miss Weasley and Miss Lovegood will be staying here with Bellatrix and Sirius and we will not be arguing about it!” McGonogall commanded and glared them into submission.

“I’m sorry guys, we’ll see you soon” Tonks whispered and patted Ron on the shoulder, ignoring the glares and handing her parents, the twins, McGonogall and Hermione an emergency Portkey. “Sweets you know I’d prefer it if you stayed here too” she offered weakly.

“Don’t even ask, lets go” Hermione said quietly and pressed her lips to Tonks’ neck.

“Aright! Lets go!”

0x0x0

Bellatrix grinned the moment they disappeared. “Alright, I’m off. Who’s coming?”

“Erm, are you sure thats a good idea Mrs Lestrange?” the male Weasley asked hesitantly.

“Black! Not Lestrange. Please call me Bella though. And yes, I’m quite sure its a good idea though there will be no judgment from me if you stay. I’d be very hypocritical if I ignored their direction to stay and then made you lot do it.”

“I’m coming!” The Potter boy yelled and stepped forward.

“Very good! Oh, I have your cloak. I’ve been experimenting on it, here you are” she grinned handing it over. “Now, someone summon Poppy Pomfrey here and you lot just wait here a moment, I just need to swing by the kitchen then we can go. You, blonde girl, be a dear and summon the Knight Bus?”

“Of course” she nodded and stepped out the front, followed by Sirius, the Potter boy and the Weasley boy. To her amusement, the Weasley girl followed her into the kitchen with a frown on her face.

“How are you going to do anything without magic?” she inquired curiously and Bellatrix halted from her tearing apart the kitchen draws to open a cotton Tescos shopping bag which she promptly tipped the cutlery draw into before grasping the knife block under an arm which she brandished with a grin.

“You’re my new hero” Weasley girl muttered in admiration.

“And you are my new favorite Weasley, Red. Come now, lets go” she grinned.

Stepping onto the bus behind the posse of children and her cousin she paused.

“Right! What’s kittens address?” she demanded only for the children to all stare at each other in horror. “Are you lot serious? You don’t even know her address after years of friendship?” she asked incredulously.

“Wait! Wait, I do! Erm, Something to do with cutting...cutter...cutsalot...Cutteslow! Wren Road near the school!” Ron declared. I remember telling me she used to walk to the primary school there.

“Alright bus man, you heard the ginger. If you can make it to Wren Road in the next five minutes I wont start cutting off your fingers to motivate you” she said calmly as the conductor turned to face her.

“Bleedin’ hell! Its bloody Bellatrix Lestrange! On the bus!” yelled the pock-marked man in front of her. The group, and the remaining occupants of the bus, recoiled in horror.

“Isn’t she dead?” Bellatrix asked with a grin. “I heard she died. And anyway, do you seriously think if the infamous Bellatrix Lestrange is alive she would catch a bus?” she drawled and gave him a wink. “Now, less talking more making haste, chop chop now!” she demanded, tapping impatiently on the steering wheel with a meat cleaver and keeping her balance with ease as the bus lurched forward and everyone was flung onto the ground.

“So, erm, what brings you to the Knight Bus?” the man asked nervously.

“Death Eaters are threatening my family and I intend to destroy them” she said seriously, patting her shopping bag of knives and grasping her knife block. Behind her, her cousin groaned.

“Fuckin’ hell its Sirius Black! You are Bellatrix Lestrange!” the man yelped and Bellatrix leaned forward to grab him by the front of his shirt and scanned it for his name tag.

“Now listen, Stanley, It’s very important that you, and everyone here in fact” - she said theatrically gesturing to the bus occupants who stared at her with bated breath - “understand something. I might have been branded a Death Eater but I have no love for the Dark Lord, I joined to protect my family and he has returned, and I have escaped.” She ripped the arm of the hoodie up to reveal her Dark Mark to show them how it shimmered in the darkness.

“That said, I have absolutely no love for that murderous wanker and I intend to kill him and as many as my former colleagues as I can which is a damn site more than the Ministry of Magic is doing. I have done terrible things, undercover for Dumbledore with the Death Eaters, and if I could take it back I could. But I cant, so I’ll be making amends now. Tonight.” she said firmly.

“Sirius Black here is no murderer either. He’s always been a good man and he was framed by that sniveling rat Peter Pettigrew who is, sadly, alive and well which I can confirm seeing with my own eyes. We are on our way to help my half-blooded niece save her muggleborn girlfriend’s family from Death Eaters, which you will shortly witness with your own eyes, and if that doesn’t convince you that we aren’t hideous servants of the Dark Lord not much will. I realise this must come as a shock to you which is why I brought a character witness who is both famous and beloved, and intends to help us rid the world of this dark stain!”

“Is it Dumbledore?” an excited voice yelled.

“No it isn’t bloody Dumbledore! It’s Harry Potter!” she snapped, pulling him to her side and wrapping an arm around his shoulder. “Quick, give them a motivational speech, Potter” she demanded and he blanched.

“Erm...what she said? Bellatrix is… is innocent and so is Sirius. We’re going to stop Lord Voldemort, together” he said quietly and Bellatrix grinned as she saw the audience staring at them hanging from his every word. “You can all help protect each other, and yourselves, and the most important thing you can do at the moment is spread the word!” he said, picking up momentum.

“Right, mate!” Boy Weasley shouted and clapped. “Well said! Spread the word and show no fear!”

“Give us a tune, Stanley! Something to get us in the mood for a fight for our lives!” Bellatrix declared and grinned when the radio started blaring a muggle pop tune.

“ABBA?” Harry asked in surprise and Bellatrix nodded.

“It’s upbeat enough, it’ll do Potter. Now, lets here some support for the Boy-Who-Lived!” she beamed and patted him on the shoulder as the bus occupants burst into applause and cheered.

“Right, we’re almost here now so tell me; who among you has a camera to show some convicted Azkaban escapees fighting alongside Harry Potter and his friends for the side of the light?” she asked impatiently and an elderly lady raised her hand in the back.

“Excellent! What’s your name love? Harry come here and shake her hand!” she hissed and waved him over. She clenched his hand between her own and looked like it was the happiest moment of her life.

“Gertrude. I remember your aunt, Mr Black over there’s mother. Walburga. Horrible, awful woman” she said solemnly in a shakey voice.

“Damn right!” Sirius interjected and crouched down to beam at her.

“May I borrow your camera for a moment, lovey?” she asked politely as the lady nodded and handed it to Sirius. “Quickly, cast a gemino charm, I want a dozen” she commanded before standing up and striding back to the front of the bus after insisting Harry stop and shake everyones hand.

“Right! Any minute now we will be landing in a battle zone and Harry here needs your help” she said seriously, winking at him. “Everyone who wants to fight, we need all the help we can get. Everyone who cant – take a camera and start snapping. I expect the Quibbler and the Prophet to plaster these on their front page by tomorrow morning!” she said before offering a them a warm smile, thankful that Andromeda had left a revolting and painful potion to fix her teeth.

The crowd cheered again and clapped and Bellatrix stooped down to face Harry. “Potter – these people might be sheep but you are a shepherd. If they expect you to risk your life for them after you’ve already lost so much you are more than entitled to ask for a few favors. We are going to need all the help we can get. Understand?” she said and he nodded after a moments hesitation.

“Good boy. Now buck up” she said yelled as the bus screeched to a halt to reveal the sound of explosions, lit up by an eerie glow from the Dark Mark, and felt her features tense.

“Don’t stop moving and aim for between the eyes, none of this stunning rubbish. Pair up and watch each others backs” she said seriously. “Don’t any of you die or I’ll resurrect you just to kill you again myself! Out, out out!” she said as her original group charged off the bus followed, to her glee, by half the passengers on the bus as well as Stanley while the rest lunged for cameras.

“I call Rodolphus!!” she yelled before dashing into street with a cackle.

0x0x0

Hermione grit her teeth at the sign of the Dark Mark above her house and felt Tonks next to her squeeze her hand as they apparated. “Let’s go” she said, surprised that her voice didn't tremble and they ran towards the house at the sound of a scream erupting from upstairs.

“Mum!” Hermione yelled and charged up the stairs, barely registering Tonks on her heels as she pushed open the door and spotted two Death Eaters in masks.

“Ah, Miss Granger isn’t it?” drawled a familiar voice in surprise and with a wave of his wand one of the masks disappeared revealing Lucius Malfoy. “I must say, I was expecting you to be showing up tomorrow to visit corpses, your surprise isn’t ready yet. Clearly Dolores didn’t have the school quite as secured as she had hoped. Now, you are going to assist me with something you see, my Lord has arranged for you, dear, to help him with a little job. You’re parents attack is going to be a friendly reminder to Mr Potter that the Dark Lord is to be feared and obeyed for the sake of keeping those he holds dear safe, and when he makes contact to organise a trade you will be the bartering chip. Of course, Dolores was only to happy to offer a suggestion for who might be – shall we say – a prime candidate for the job. Now, be a dear and lower your wand” he said silkily and Hermione swallowed down her rage.

“Let them go first” Hermione demanded. Her mother lay on the bed, covered in blood, appearing to be breathing slowly. She could see her father’s feet on the floor sticking out from past the bed and grit her teeth to bite back a sob as Malfoy and the other Death Eater pointed their wands at her prone body on the bed.

“Sadly, you are not in a position to negotiate” he sighed theatrically. “Now drop your wand, I wont ask again.” Hermione complied, her hand itching as she fought the urge to grab her backup wand and Lucius summonsed the first. “And such a pity that such filthy muggles can’t be permitted to live” he grinned and nodded to the second death eater.

“Avada -”

With a snarl Hermione launched herself into the room and drew her second wand then slung a piercing hex at the masked Death Eater who managed to bat it away at the last moment and the room erupted as Tonks, Ted, Minerva and Andromeda charged into the fray.

“Summon the others!” Malfoy screamed before throwing an impressive slew of curses towards the group and the masked Death Eater quickly ripped his sleeve up and pressed a finger to the Dark Mark.

“Get them out, we’ll cover you!” Tonks cried as Andromeda stepped forward beside her daughter, snarling, and Hermione froze momentarily at the awe-inspiring sight as magic flowed from their wands. “Now, Hermione!”

Diving beside the bed she reached into her pocket for a Portkey and slapped it against her fathers chest, fighting back another sob when she didn’t manage to find a pulse. “Portus” she whispered as he vanished and, quickly poking a head above the bed checking it was safe, repeated the action for her mother and scrambling back to the other four who had Malfoy and the other Death Eater against the far wall on the defensive. Jumping to her feet she blanched to see another enormous masked Death Eater behind Ted who was holding up the rear of the group.

“Orbis!” she cried and watched as the Death Eater was quickly sucked through the floor onto the ground level before a blasting hex caused parts of the ceiling to collapse on him.

“They’ve brought backup!” Tonks yelled and pulled the group back into the hallway to be less bottled in.

“Get the girl!” Someone cried and Hermione barely managed to deflect another curses before a knockback jinx hit the floor in front of her and she fell through the hole created by the Orbis spell moments earlier where she landed awkwardly on top of the Death Eater and washing machine.

“Got you now girly” she heard a gravelly voice whisper before he wrapped his massive hands around her and flung her into the wall like she was made of tissue paper. Groaning, she shook her head to clear it as he stalked towards her. His mask dropped and she bit back a horrified gasp to see Fenrir Greyback. He bared his yellowing teeth. “Pretty little thing, for a mudblood. I wonder if the Dark Lord will let me look after you while he’s waiting for Potter to bring him the Prophecy” he grinned, cracking his knuckles menacingly as he stalked towards her slowly, sniffing the air with a before he faltered slightly and his eyes widened with surprise.

“Why do you smell like that bitch Lestrange” he growled and Hermione, fumbling after her landing, managed to lift her wand and cast a spell which he deflected with ease before he stumbled onto his knees with a yelp. Hermione observed a large kitchen knife sticking out of his shoulder blade.

“Greyback, lovely seeing you again” came a smirking voice from the corner and to Hermione’s surprise there stood Bellatrix, brandishing what appeared to be a knife block and a large Tescos bag, wearing a baseball cap. “Now you weren’t threatening kitten here were you?” she hissed dangerously as she pulled another knife from the wooden block. “Because if you were you’ll regret it you filthy mongrel.” She flung another knife into his back which he yelped at again before his eyes flashed and he growled menacingly. Hermione jumped to her feet.

“Incendio!” She yelled, smiling grimly as his ripped cloak caught fire and quickly followed up by conjuring silver arrows and flinging them towards him, causing him to howl with pain before he tapped a wand to a chain around his neck as he disappeared with a pop.

“Pussy” Bellatrix smirked and strode over. “You alright kitten?”

“Yes, I’m – what the fuck are you doing here Bella? How did you even get here?” she demanded.

“We caught the bus! You’re little friends are around. Have you seen my husband, perchance?” she asked cheerfully and Hermione, dumbstruck, could only shake her head. “Alright, you best find my niece before she has a nervous breakdown then, kitten. See you soon!” With a wink that reminded Hermione sorely of her girlfriend Bellatrix skipped from the room cackling. Hermione shook her head again to clear it before running into the back yard where she nearly dropped her wand with surprise at the sight before her.

Harry and Ron were locked in a heated exchange with, Hermione thought, Thorfinn Rowle that appeared quite evenly matched and Fred, George, Ginny and Luna where matched up against the Carrow twins. A large, purple bus was parked up on the grass with several people crouched around it taking photographs including a tiny old lady who, seeing Luna stumble as another masked Death Eater stepped in to assist the Carrows, frowned and conjured an enormous flame whip that tore his head clean from his shoulders.

“Nice one Gertie!” Sirius called as he tore around the side of the house in pursuit of Walden McNair and she gave a cheerful little wave as he passed.

“Hermione!” she heard a voice call from behind her and she turned and raced back towards the house almost running headlong into Tonks at the front door and they quickly looked each other over.

“I’m fine” she assured her, rubbing dirt and dried blood of Tonks’ face. “Is everyone okay?”

“Dad got knocked out by Rabastan Lestrange before Bellatrix laid into him with a meat cleaver and he Portkeyed out, we’ve got them outnumbered now. Who are all those strangers running round?”

“Probably people from the bus” Hermione said, waving behind her and turning to see the little old lady carefully place the camera on the ground and waving her wand at Rookwood causing him to erupt in tentacles and fall, clutching at his face where Sirius lunged at him with bared teeth and a glowing wand.

“Merlins balls” Tonks said, wide eyed. “Bones is going to have a fit when she gets here.”

They turned back to the house after hearing Bellatrix shriek in rage from upstairs as she looked over the kitchen and tore back through to the destroyed room where McGonogall lay on the ground, clutching her arm to her side which was torn open and Andromeda furiously dueled against Lucius Malfoy, Rodolphus Lestrange and three other masked Death Eaters in an attempt to keep them at bay. Not hesitating, Hermione and Tonks charged into the room and Tonks blasted two of the masked Death Eaters into the cupboards, which crumpled immediately causing crockery to shatter all over the floor.

“RODOLPHUS!” Bellatrix shouted as she charged into the room, knife block gone but shopping back still over her shoulder, threw herself on him tackling him to the ground. “HOW DARE YOU TOUCH MY SISTER!” Reefing a filleting knife from the bag she plunged it into his neck and twisted it before wrenching it free, grinning wickedly as blood sprayed across the room.

Everyone seemed to have froze in surprise until Malfoy quickly blasted her into the wall under a cloud of gyprock and pointed his wand with a sneer.

“Avada -“

On auto-pilot Hermione reached for her thigh holster and quickly flung a knife, hitting him in the eye and baring her teeth as he stumbled back, clutching at his face, and howled with pain. He didn’t hesitate in his tapping his wand to a chain around his neck and disappearing with a crack, echoed by the remaining conscious Death Eaters and Tonks quickly summonsed the Portkeys and wands from the others downstairs and secured them in ropes with a flick of her wrist before they rushed over to the three women in the room. Andromeda stood panting, nodding at Hermione and touching her face briefly before Bellatrix, coughing, wiped a trickle of blood from her brow and helped her sister lift McGonogall to a standing position where Hermione and Tonks covered them as they stepped into the devastated yard.

“Fucking hell.”

To Hermione’s surprise it was Andromeda who swore at the sight before them. The Ministry had finally arrived and were staring open mouthed as Albus Dumbledore, standing in front of Harry who was clutching his scar in agony, furiously dueled who could only be the Dark Lord in a fit of transfiguration she had never seen or even imagined before. The sky itself lit up with colour as people frantically backed away. Bellatrix, from her position next to Hermione, nudged her with an elbow and a wink.

“Watch this kitten” she whispered and to Hermione’s horror she boldly plucked a dagger from Hermione’s own thigh and with a yell of “Oi! Voldie!” watched gleefully as he turned and was promptly struck in the cheek with a dagger. “I quit!” she cackled as his eyes lit up in recognition and he screamed with rage, plucking the dagger from his head and dissolving it with a wave of his hand as dark inky liquid leaked from the wound. Dumbledore, seeing an opening, promptly renewed the fight with vigor and the Dark Load disapparated.

Ginny ran forward and helped Harry to his feet and they slowly limped over towards Hermione followed quickly by Fred, George and Ron. Sirius carefully picked up Luna and made his way over as well as Hermione, wand still drawn, pointed it carefully in the direction of Cornelius Fudge and Amelia Bones who had appeared.

“Sirius Black! Bellatrix Lestrange! Quickly, arrest them!” Fudge cried hysterically. “Lord Voldemort, here in Oxford! My god!”

“You can’t bloody arrest ‘em!” yelled a thin man in a bus drivers uniform who was covered in mud and had tiny tentacles growing out of his arm. “They bloody led the charge to save the day, they did! We got pictures and everyfink! Missus Lestrange and Mr Black and young Harry Potter and their friends! Rushed here to save the muggles! Heroes, they are!”

“Thank you Stanley! What a lovely thing to say!” Bellatrix beamed at him and he blushed and doffed his cap.

“The young man is right” wheezed the little old lady who had decapitated the Death Eater as she slowly made her way to the Minister, Dubledore and the Head of the DMLE looking significantly more innocent that Hermione knew her to be. “Mr Potter explained everything. Young Sirius Black was framed by his old school chum, Peter Pettigrew. I remember him from his youth. A throughly unpleasant boy” she sighed. “Always had watery eyes and a skittish look about him. Anyway, what was I saying dear? Oh! Yes. Well it appears that Mr Black here didn’t murder any muggles in the 80’s. And young Miss Black” she continued on in her croaky little voice “well she said, Minister, that she was working for Voldemort at Dumbledores request! That she wanted to come here this evening to protect her families muggle companions and atone for her past mistake. It seems to me, Minister, that to arrest these people would be a very grave mistake” she said, shooting Dumbledore a very shrewd look.

Fudge and Amelia Bones stared, open mouthed, at Dumbledore.

“Bellatrix Lestrange? Working as a double agent?” Fudge cried. “Well thats preposterous!”

“I fear there may be some misunderstanding” Dumbledore said gravely as he stepped forward. “Perhaps it would be best to reconvene somewhere more secure to discuss this further.”

“Oh bugger off you old coot” Bellatrix snarled. “We both know its true and I wont be going anywhere with you!” she huffed, adjusting her tesco bad on her shoulder and shooting him a filthy look. “Give me some Veritaserum or something, I’ll prove it. Or make him make a vow!” she said brightly. “A vow that he didn’t infact, have me working as a double agent without telling the Ministry like he said he would then having me shipped off to Azkaban at the end of the war.”

“Would you be willing to make a vow?” Amelia Bones asked and Hermione grinned as the crowd of buss passengers and her friends started cheering their endorsment and jumped a little as Bellatrix took her hand and grasped it tightly with nerves.

“As stated earlier, I don’t believe this to be the time or place to discuss such matters” he said coolly and the head of the DMLE narrowed her eyes.

“Very well! Minister, it seems that there are several witnesses here who will vouch happily that perhaps our assumptions on these two here have been made in haste. Mr Black, Mrs Lestrange - “

“Ms Black! I’m happily no longer married as of 5 minutes ago” Bellatrix interjected and Bones sighed.

“Apologies. Mr Black and Ms Black, I believe a closed interrogation session with myself and Mr Scimgeour will be appropriate to clear this up and if what you say is correct we can issue a pardon. I will get in touch with you through Andromeda tomorrow to arrange a time. Agreed Cornelius?” she asked and glowered at him until he nodded weakly, clearly fearing a lynching from the excitable crowd around him as they cheered and waved their cameras. Amelia looked at her watch and sighed in exasperation as she noted the late hour.

“Auror Tonks!” she stated loudly and Hermione didn’t miss it as Tonks flinched slightly.

“Yes, Madam Bones?”

“I want a report on my desk by noon. Dismissed.”

“Thanks boss.”

“I believe I shall escort the students back to Hogwarts now” Dumbledore said tiredly. “School is still in session, after all.”

“I believe I will be disregarding that statement” said Hermione calmly. “Its 3am, it’s entirely impractical for me to return to Scotland for 6 hours before I climb on the train to come back to England.”

“I’m afraid I must insist, it is protocol for students to leave only during the holidays.”

“I’m afraid you can fuck off, Headmaster” Hermione snapped and she pointedly tried to ignore Bellatrix’s giggle beside her. “My family are injured and I will be with them. If you have anything you urgently need to discuss you can wait until school resumes. We’ll be leaving now” Hermione declared. “Excuse me sir, is your bus still running?”

“Of course Miss!” Stanley replied cheerfully. “It’d be an honor to have you aboard, it would. Come along now!” he grinned toothily and stepped forward to guide everyone up the steps onto the bus and the weary group collapsed into the seats. Hermione felt some of the stress that had seeped into her very bones dissipate as Tonks sat next to her and wrapped her arms around her, tucking her head under her chin.

“Mum and dad. What if they’re not okay?” Hermione whispered into her girlfriends chest and she felt arms tighten around her.

“I don’t know, sweets” Tonks said with a watery voice. “But I can promise I’ll be there for you no matter what.”

0x0x0

Tonks could tell, the moment the bus stopped and she saw her father sitting out the front of the house as he met her eyes, that it wouldn’t be good news. She shut her eyes briefly and stood, helping Hermione to her feet who judging from the tension radiating from her had picked up on the mood. Regardless, she watched guardedly as Hermione grit her teeth, eyes wet, and stoically stood up and strode purposefully towards the dining room, bypassing where her dad had the sense to divert everyone away into the backyard where he was hading out potions, and the two witches stepped into the room and closed the door, trembling, only to meet Pomfrey’s own wet eyes.

“I’m so very sorry, Miss Granger” she had said softly, and Tonks felt her heart break watching Hermione curl up into a little ball on the floor and howl. She knelt down beside her and pulled her into her arms again where they sat on the cold tiles as she rubbed her back at a loss for what to do.

After what felt like hours of time had past Bellatrix strode into the room where her mother and McGonogall waited in the doorway holding the door open and her aunt crouched down, picked Hermione up, bridal style, and carried her from the room. She stayed sitting dumbly on the floor until her mother dragged her to her feet and wordlessly guided her up the stairs to Tonks’ bedroom where she laid on the bed next to Hermione, who immediately turned to face her and clutch at her shirt as she continued to sob.

Bellatrix briefly sat on the bed beside the two and stroked Hermione's hair, whispering soothing words before looking at her niece. “Don’t let her bottle it up. She can cry for half a day or for 30, she’s to get it out of her system. This might be the only chance she will get to mourn those she may loose properly until this war is over. We’ll make sure she won’t be alone” she said seriously and Tonks nodded, grasping the severity of her words despite being so drained herself she felt as though she had been hit with a bludger. McGonogall waved her wand and the room darkened as her mother conjured two candles that smelt of lilies and they left, closing the door and Tonks felt herself drift off after Hermione did.

Tonks winced hours later when the three women crept in the door and her mother gently shook her awake. “You need to shower, eat and go to work Dora. We’ll be here when you get back.” Tonks nodded and climbed carefully prised tight hands from her shirt and slipped out of the bed to see Hermione drowsily clutch for her again but Bellatrix slipped under the blankets and drew her close. She whimpered and cracked open an eye, realising her witch had gone but Tonks, seeing her distress, crept across the room, placed a kiss to her forehead and murmured her assurances that she would be back soon and that Bella would be there. Hermione tightened her white-knuckled grip in Bellatrix’s corset and her breathing slowed sleepily again as tears ran down her face while she drifted back to sleep.

After hours if sitting at her desk at work where thankfully most of her colleagues had the sense to actively avoid her – she mused that this was another time that having hair that reflected her mood was a helpful thing as if anything the white and gray mussed hair and red eyes screamed ‘don’t talk to me’. After finishing her report for Madam Bones she had slipped quietly in the door after knocking and placed it on her desk with a respectful nod.

“Auror Tonks” Bones had nodded. “I’ve spoken to Sirius but haven’t been able to reach Bellatrix or your mother to organise the interview. Are they busy?” she asked carefully and Tonks had nodded.

“Mourning” Tonks had replied quietly and her employers face had softened.

“Take a few days off then, I’ll see you next week. I am sorry for Miss Granger’s loss.”

“Thanks boss” she whispered and left the room.

She returned home and quietly slipped up the stairs to check on Hermione only to see Bellatrix had left the room and, sticking her head into her bedroom door, Hermione was tucked up against her mother. Giving them a soft smile she made her way outside and climbed into her old treehouse in the willow tree her great grandfather had apparently planted and sat in her dusty old seat, yanking a cigarette out of the packet from her coat pocket and lighting it.

“Better have one of those for me, or I’ll dob you in to Andy. Stay there, I’m coming up” came a smug voice from below her and Bellatrix quickly climbed into the tree and accepted the pawned cigarette.

“You’re quite spritely for an old biddy you know” Tonks chuckled, desperate for some humor.

“Old biddy?” Bellatrix cried, aghast. “Old Biddy? I’m only 45!” she spat as Tonks snickered in the corner at her. “I plan to live for another 100 years at least!”

“You don’t look bad for 63” Tonks said, acting as if she didn’t hear her. “Especially now you’ve got some meat on your bones again. Want me to flag down the Knight bus for you? I’m sure Stan Shunpike would agree with me” she ducked as Bellatrix tried to smack her and glared.

“Bloody horrible wretch of a thing you are” muttered Bellatrix as Tonks giggled.

“How’s your public hair poll going? Have you asked McGonogall for her opinion?” she asked and Bellatrix snorted.

“I hadn’t thought to include her in the poll. To be honest I forgot about it” she said. “Perhaps I’ll do it later.”

“You wouldn’t dare” Tonks laughed.

“Excuse you, I threw a knife at the Dark Lord” she scoffed.

“Yes but McGonogall is much more scary than Lord Voldemort” Tonks grinned. “Even I wouldn’t risk my life that way.”

“Just you wait.”

“Oh I will, with bated breath” Tonks grinned cheekily, exhaling the last of her cigarette as she stubbed it out. “Thank you for everything, by the way. I saw what happened in Oxford, with Greyback and Hermione.”

“Inserting a knife into his back is one of my new favorite memories” she grinned. “I could almost cast a Patronus with it, I reckon. I suppose we should get out of this tree now before your mother catches us smoking like a couple of immoral teenagers.”

“I’m so glad we busted you out of prison.”

0x0x0

Four days later Hermione allowed herself to be led quietly downstairs by Tonks and guided to a seat at the table where Harry, Sirius, Ted, Andromeda, Bellatrix and McGonogall all sat and dinner appeared. She tried to force herself to pick at some of the food for the sake of being polite and summon some sort of emotion as they tried to generate discussion interesting enough for her to join in on but she found herself unable to respond like a normal human being, instead staring blankly around at everyone. She hadn’t been alone for a moment since returning from Oxford excluding the occasional trip to the toilet, every time she woke up someone was curled around her whispering soothing words be it her Professor, Andromeda, Bellatrix or Tonks. Tonks dutifully guided her to the bathroom and stripped her to shower, washing her hair and offered words of comfort or maintaining one sided conversations about everything and nothing. Even Harry had stepped up for bed duty one day for a few hours and Hermione had vaguely acknowledged feeling a spark of warmth at his attempt considering how awkward he was with physical affection. She felt Tonks’ hand on her thigh squeeze gently and surprised herself when she was able to shakily move her own hand to cover it and squeeze back. Seeing her tips of her brown hair flash with pink was enough to even bring a small smile to her face. She looked up as Bellatrix cleared her throat loudly and gave her a quick wink.

“Excuse me everyone but I have something we very much need to discuss” Bellatrix stated seriously and everyone politely put down their cutlery to listen as she gazed around the table. The corner of her mouth twitched when she caught Tonks’ eye.

“I’ve been making some investigations recently after seeing an interesting magazine article and with my newfound freedom, so I’ve decided to seek, as the final indicator in my research, the opinion of the wisest woman we know - Minerva McGonogall” she carried on with a nod to the Transfiguration master. Hermione observed Tonks suddenly stiffen and bite her lip as she stated incredulously across the table.

“Well I’d be happy to help Bella” McGonogall said kindly, though with a hint of suspicion. “What was it you were wanting to know?”

“Well the year 1996 is almost upon us and trends have changed over the years. I’m aware that some of the considerations to be made are on your personal preferences and some factors are how others perceive you so tell me – in lieu with todays current standards of beauty are you for or against fanny shaving?”

Harry, who had taken a bite of his roast potato, choked on it and gasped as Sirius whacked him on the back only to stare at Bellatrix in horror. Sirius’ jaw dropped open as he looked between Bellatrix and McGonogall, wide eyed, and Ted put his head in his hands and moaned. Andromeda began quickly turning a shade of purple and mouthing words but no sound came out and Tonks started shaking with silent laughter.

“Am I for or against what?” McGonogall asked incredulously.

“Fanny shaving. Removing pubic hair. Back in the 70’s the trend was for a full bush but now apparently removing the hair is quite common using razors or wax. Sometimes they even trim it into little patterns as a decoration for a lover to enjoy” she said sagely.

“Pubic hair?” McGonogall asked, wide eyed. “You’re asking my personal opinion on pubic hair?”

“Well, and your professional opinion as well if you have one” Bellatrix confirmed and Harry, wordlessly, fled from the table followed closely by Ted. Hermione doubted that Sirius could have moved even if he wanted to as he remained frozen in his seat gazing slack-jawed between the two women. Tonks could no longer contain herself and quickly dissolved into hysteria, placing her head on the table and slapping a hand on it as she howled with laughter.

“BELLA!” Andromeda roared suddenly and jumped from her chair brandishing her wand.

“Andy?” Bellatrix asked innocently “Why are you upset? Do you have strong views on fanny shaving?”

“You aren’t going to have any hair left in a minute!” she yelled and flicked her wand and Bellatrix stared in horror as a few inches from a clump of her hair was severed before staring into her sisters face and ducking down as she crawled around the table.

“Quick girls, hide me!” she hissed and dropped flat to the floor as Andromeda gave chase. Tonks continued to howl with laughter, her hair a vibrant purple, and Hermione turned to look at her blankly.

“Did Bella just ask Professor McGonogall what she does with her pubes?” she asked and snorted suddenly at the glare from McGonogall as Tonks nodded, and found herself, to her amazement, erupted into laughter as well as Bella made a break for the stairs shouting after them all.

“Come now Andy, lets be reasonable!”

As Hermione wiped tears of mirth from her eyes she gazed at Tonks, McGonogall and the boys who snuck back in to the table where there was safety in numbers and grinned as Bellatrix quickly dashed past an open doorway with her sister in hot pursuit. Harry caught sight of her expression and beamed at her, clearly delighted to see a smile on her face and suddenly, deep down, she knew that she could keep fighting on.

Chapter Text

Hermione woke two days later to a pitch black room and noted in her half asleep state that it was the first morning she hadn’t woke with a wet face, nor had she cried herself to sleep though she still did have the ongoing urge to vomit. Progress indeed. Rolling over to face the middle of the bed she cracked an eye and smiled a little at Tonks asleep on her side facing her, mouth wide open and pink hair sticking in every direction, snoring softly. After a moment her eyebrows creased and she mumbled something incoherent before reaching a hand out blindly to fumble for Hermione and pull her flush and they both tensed as her hand pawed at her breast and Tonks’ eyes flew open.

“Fuck! Sorry baby” she mumbled sleepily, her face etched with concern and Hermione leaned forward until their noses touched.

“It’s fine, love” Hermione whispered and pressed a soft kiss to her lips.

“It is?” She whispered in surprise.

“Absolutely” Hermione replied softly.

“Mmh. I missed you” Tonks grinned lazily in the darkness, staring at her through heavily lidded eyes and slowly scraped her nails along her side leaving goosebumps in their wake.

“Kitten! You’re feeling better!” a voice cried from above them and Hermione turned her head to see a beaming Bellatrix standing over them. Tonks covered her face with a pillow and gave a muffled groan in frustration.

“Morning Bella” Hermione chuckled, patting Tonks’ arm consolingly.

“I brought you coffee! Here” Bellatrix said happily and plopped herself down onto the bed handing Hermione a mug who pulled herself up to sit covering her chest with the blanket. “Yours is on your bedside table, grumpy” she said waving a hand in Tonks’ general direction.

“How do you keep getting through the wards?” Tonks moaned from underneath her pillow and Bellatrix grinned and mouthed ‘Sirius’ to Hermione who giggled but rolled her eyes, mentally noting to hex him later.

“You didn’t put anything in it did you?” Hermione asked warily, giving the cup a sniff.

“Just a dash of milk and a teaspoon of sugar kitten, anything else would be rude” she said with a wink. Hermione tentatively took a sip and nodded.

“Thank you Bella. So what brings you to our bedroom at 4:30am this fine morning? This is early, even for you.” To her surprise, Bellatrix bit her lip and stared at her in consideration.

“It’s this” she said softly, waving her Dark Mark under Hermione’ nose who inspected it. It was raised angrily against the pale skin and almost looked to be throbbing. “It’s hurting me.”

“Hurting you?” Hermione asked in a dangerous voice. Tonks sat up beside her to look at it herself, irritation forgotten.

“The Dark Wanker. He must have worked out a way to zap me though it or something” she said irritably, rolling her eyes. “Can we take it off now?”

“What?” Hermione said in alarm and gently touched the tip of her finger to it, quickly withdrawing it with a yelp of pain and Bellatrix hissed. “How long has this been going on? Is it normal for Voldemort to be able to torture people through the mark?” she demanded.

“Oh a few days” Bellatrix said airily though the dark rings under her eyes betrayed her lack of sleep and Hermione noted a tremble to her hands. “And no, I think it’s something new he’s developed just for me. It’s been getting increasingly worse since about two days after we went to your...until after your parents” she said quietly and Hermione stiffened before swallowing all the emotions that bubbled up inside her.

“What the fuck Bella! Why didn’t you say something?” Tonks demanded. “When is the last time you slept? What if he’s trying to kill you through it or something!”

“I didn’t want to worry anyone!” Bellatrix cried. “It was Christmas, and a trying time for everyone, kitten needed to rest! And I passed out for an hour or two earlier, its fine” she said loftily again and Tonks groaned angrily as she jumped out of bed and began to throw on some clothes, passing some to Hermione.

“Passed out as in passed out from pain?” Hermione asked incredulously and Bellatrix, biting her lip again with concern etched across her features, nodded.

“Can we take it off now?”

“Wassgoinon?” came a sleepy voice from the doorway as Harry in his pajamas rubbed tiredly at his eyes. “I heard yelling.” He fixed his glasses only to see Tonks and Hermione in various states of undress and blushed furiously and turned to face the opposite wall.

“Harry? Girls? Whats happening?” muttered Sirius as he stumbled into the hallway before he peeked into the room and caught sight of the still half-naked occupants and flushed as brightly as his godson, turning to the wall as well.

“Stop being so perverted you dirty boys!” cackled Bellatrix before she winced suddenly and twitched so hard she fell off the bed, clutching at her arm, hissing in pain.

“Bella!” Hermione cried and dropped to the floor beside her and swore as she touched her and a jolt of pain shot up her arm again.

“What is going on here? It’s not even 5am!” Came the angry voice of Andromeda from down the hallway as she stormed into the room before seeing her sister still twitching and hissing on the ground. “Bella! Whats wrong with her?”

“Don’t touch her!” cried Tonks and swatted her mothers hand away as she reached for Bellatrix to pull her hand away from where it covered her wrist. “It Voldemort! He’s doing something through the Dark Mark!”

Andromeda swore and clenched her fist as Ted stepped into the hallway.

“We need to do something!” Sirius yelled. “Hermione, can you remove it?” Hermione fought down her rising panic and rage over the situation and jumped to her feet.

“We need to go to Grimmauld Place in case Voldemort is trying to track her through it, Andy you’re wards are good but not that good, the Fideleous will cover us” she said wildly, trying to force herself to focus. “Someone levitate her down through the Floo, brace yourself though it will hurt when you touch her.”

“I’ll do it now” Andromeda said, summoning her slippers with a flick of her wand and lifting Bellatrix from the ground with another as they went down the staircase.

“I’ll set up one of the bedrooms!” Harry cried and dashed out with Ted in pursuit.

“Sirius, see if you can reach Pomfrey to watch over me in case something goes bad. I’ll grab a book and meet you there in 5 minutes.” Sirius saluted and left and Tonks gabbed her wrist.

“Sweets, are you sure you’re alright to do this? I don’t want it to hurt you!” she cried. “Tell me, I can do it!”

“I can do it, love. Pass me that little black bag, lets go.”

0x0x0

Tonks watched nervously, chewing her fingernails as Hermione knelt on a rug on the ground beside Bellatrix and, gritting her teeth, checked her heart rate, cursing through the pain before withdrawing her hand.

“If I had more time I’d do this in sessions over a week but the situation has become a lot more urgent” she said to Andromeda with a voice showing more calm than she felt. “I’m confident I can take the Mark off but I don’t know what it will do to her.”

Andromeda stepped forward with watery eyes and a grim look and placed a hand on her girlfriends shoulder. “Do what you have to do, darling. I know my sister, she would rather be dead without the Mark than alive with it.”

“She’s right kitten, just try not to balls it up” Bellatrix had hissed out between clenched teeth before offering an attempt at a grin that came across as more of a grimace.

Hermione had rubbed at her wet eyes, commanded everyone but Pomfrey out of the room so she could concentrate and accepted a quick kiss from Tonks as everyone moved into the adjoining room and waited anxiously.

Andromeda bit back a sob as excruciating screams erupted moments after the door closed and Tonks and her father had stepped forward and the trio wrapped their arms around each other. Sirius placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder and they all stood in silence, ignoring a glowering Kreacher as he stumbled around mumbling slurs.

Tonks started in surprise as the fireplace glowed green, drawing her wand, only to see McGonogall and a troubled looking Snape step through the Floo who both paused until the wands pointed at them lowered.

“Is it working? Removing the Mark?” he asked quietly.

“We don’t know. Sounds like it” Tonks offered with a shrug and they joined the silent vigil continued for another hour and a half until the screams stopped for a beat.

“Oh my Merlin!” cried a terrified voice from the room and before Tonks could dash into the room found herself thrown back as an explosive force knocked her off her feet.

“Hermione! Bella!” she yelled, jumping up charging in, her mother hot on her heels, with her wand drawn and dashed over to help a sweaty, shaking Hermione to her feet before pulling her into her arms. “Oh thank god you’re alright.”

“Am I dead?” croaked a horse voice from the floor and Andromeda dropped to the floor next to her sister with a slightly hysterical laugh.

“No Bella, you aren’t! And look, no more Mark!” she cried and Bellatrix lifted her head up to glance at her bare arm.

“Excellent. Well done kitten, I knew you had it in you” she whispered before closing her eyes. “Give me a moment and I’ll be right up.”

Pomfrey dashed over and waved her wand before clapping her hands excitedly.

“You’ve done it Miss Granger! Her magical core is intact and she’s alive!”

“Oh thank goodness” Hermione sighed ass relief washed over her. “Right at the end this black smoke erupted from the Mark and knocked us all over, I wasn’t expec -”

“Harry! Harry wake up!” came Sirius’ frantic shouts from the other room and Hermione, Tonks and Poppy dashed out to find Harry unconscious on the floor, blood seeping from the scar in his head.

“Whats happening? He’s burning up!” Hermione yelped, sinking beside him and waving her wand next to Snape who was doing the same thing.

“Someone fetch a wet cloth and a pain potion” Snape commanded.

“On it!” Tonks cried and tore into the next room towards the kitchen and swearing as she stumbled over a rug. To her surprise a silver locket was on the ground where it seemed to have fallen from the cabinet beside her and it twitched as if alive. Leaping to her feet again she grabbed a towel and wet it, levitating the locket as she passed back through the room and dropping it on the floor where it continued to twitch. “What the fuck is this thing? Why is it doing that?” she demanded.

Sirius tore his gaze from his godson and recognition flashed over his face. “Its that rotten locket, I thought I got rid of it. Kreacher must have stashed it” he muttered.

“But why does it seem...alive?” Ted asked. “I can sense the dark magic radiating from it from here.”

“Harry is stable, the wound seems to have stopped bleeding, he’s just unconscious” Poppy declared, mopping at his brow and Sirius groaned with relief.

“I have never seen such a thing before” Snape stated, troubled as he looked at it. “I recommend everyone keep a safe distance.”

Andromeda stepped into the room, supporting Bellatrix who looked pale already and paled further as she saw it.

“I’ve felt magic like this before, the Dark Lord...he gave me a cup, told me to hide it in my Gringotts Vault” she whispered and Andromeda suddenly covered her hand with her mouth and gasped.

“No! No surely even He wouldn’t...wait here!” Andromeda cried, dashing from the room where she returned a moment later bearing a heavy tome, The Secrets of the Darkest Arts, and flicked through it frantically as Hermione and Snape hovered over her shoulder before stopping on a page and looking up around the room, white faced.

“Horcruxes.”

0x0x0

Four hours and several pots of tea later, surprisingly made by Kreacher who when summonsed had explained the story of Regulus Black and subsequently underwent a personality reversal, Hermione, Harry, the Blacks, Tonks’, McGonogall, Snape and Poppy Pomfrey sat at the table at Grimmauld Place aghast.

“So Voldemort created these things to keep him alive? Made them by murdering people?” Hermione watched as Tonks asked, wrinkling her nose in disgust. “Jesus Christ there could be thousands!”

“Unlikely” mused Snape. “The Dark Lord is a firm believer in symbolism. Seven and three are both recognised as important magical numbers. I’m inclined to believe he would be unable to make more than that and regain any capacity to form a thought. This explains Potter’s connection to the Dark Lord and His descent into madness.”

“So if he’s gone for this fancy locket, and if Bella is correct in thinking she has Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup in her bank vault, and Harry is correct thinking the Diary is also one, then it’s likely he is after items considered important magically or hold some sort of sentimental value?” Tonks asked. Hermione managed a small smile despite the disgust and anger swirling inside her, seeing her Auror brain at its finest.

“I think you’re right Miss Tonks” Snape replied.

“I hate to say it, but we probably need to talk to Dumbledore to see what he knows about all this” Andromeda sighed. “He claims to know more about Voldemort than anyone.”

“Maybe...maybe we could be a bit more subtle” Hermione offered. “Professor Snape, I don’t think Dumbledore is aware of your work with us. You could mention the locket to him, even take it to him and say you found it or Voldemort gave it to you and gauge his reaction?”

“I could certainly do that” Snape nodded. “I am required to meet with him tomorrow and I will see what I can discover.”

“Well, that’s a decent start” Ted said and sighed. “I might pop home for a shower before I head to work, see you all these evening” he said and kissed Andromeda, Minerva, Bellatrix, Tonks and – to her surprise - her own cheek with a wave to everyone else.

Hermione watched Harry carefully who had been brooding silently with his arms across his chest since he woke up and sighed. If she knew him as well as she thought she did, he was about two minutes off exploding, not that she had been much better herself lately and her temper had often flared dangerously. Tonks had kindly said nothing about coming home from work to find her bedroom destroyed and simply repaired it with a few waves of her wand. She gripped Tonks hand and gave a subtle nod of her head in his direction as the rest of the group debated potential Horcruxes and their hiding places and, right on cue, he stood and slammed a hand onto the table.

“Is everyone going to ignore the fact that you’re sitting at the table with a bit of Voldemort?” he demanded. “I get that Hermione’s spell only works on destroying links created by Voldemort as opposed to his fucking soul fragments being in them but am I just supposed to pretend this isn’t happening?” he spat with venom as the occupants of the table stared at him in shock and concern.

“Potter! You’re a strapping young lad, walk with me” Bellatrix said suddenly, interjecting. “You can escort me to the loo. Kitten, may I borrow your wand please?” Harry glared at her as Hermione warily handed over one of her wands and she gave it a swish. “Oh, dragon heartstring? Like my old one” she said sadly. “Come on Harry, unless you want me to do a wee here in front of everyone.”

Harry’s look of contempt disappeared to be taken over by one of alarm as he rushed to her side and she flung an arm over his shoulder.

“Erm, come on then Bella. We can discuss this more when I return” Harry said moodily and Hermione sighed but watched the pair leave the room with some concern. She noted an equally suspicious look on Andromeda’s face.

“God, what’s she up to now?” Andromeda sighed.

“Maybe she’s going to try to get rid of the Horcrux that may or not be there with true loves first kiss” Tonks offered and grinned as Snape and Sirius snorted and everyone else glared at her. “What? Wasn’t it his mum’s love that stopped him kicking the bucket as a toddler? It’s not entirely impossible.”

“I’ll go get young Ginevra shall I?” Sirius joked, standing and making to step towards the Floo only to be knocked down by an ashen Ted who flew out of it.

“Andy – the house!” he gasped. “It’s gone!”

“Gone? What do you mean it’s gone?” Andromeda demanded and Hermione felt Tonks grasp her hand tightly.

“Blown up! Its just ashes and bits of rubble” he replied, miming an explosion with his hands. “Boom!”

“Boom?!”

“Oh Merlin, Voldemort must have managed to track Bella through the Mark before we came here!” McGonogall gasped. “Thank goodness no one was home!”

“Yes well, as much as a relief as that is I’m not particularly overjoyed my house has been blown up!” Andromeda snapped.

“Andy, love, the important thing is everyone’s alright. The title on Murrook has settled and ready to go as of two days ago, it’s not like we’re homeless” he said reassuringly, patting her own the back as she sniffled and started to cry.

“I’ll go and get Bella, she and Sirius and I can go and look around” Tonks said suddenly, standing up and making for the stairs. “Bella! We have to go!”

“Er - just a moment!” she called back. “I’m just in the middle of something!”

“Middle of what?” Tonks asked as she began to climb the stairs. “I thought you only needed to do a number one and - JESUS FUCKING CHRIST BELLA WHAT DID YOU DO!?”

Hermione paled and the group charged up the stairs to find Tonks crouched over Harry as he lay on the floor, deathly pale and Tonks felt for his pulse before locking wide eyes with Hermione and shook her head.

“You killed him?” Sirius croaked, drawing his wand.

“It was just an idea I had!” she yelled back, dropping the wand and raising her hands in surrender as everyone stared at her in horror. “The killing curse detaches the soul from your body and kills you! This should fix him?”

“You killed him!” Sirius yelled again only to drop his wand in surprise as Harry gasped for air suddenly and sat up weakly.

“Did you just kill me?” he croaked incredulously and Bellatrix nodded.

“Sorry about that, but I was fairly certain that would fix it.”

“Fairly certain?” McGonogall spluttered aghast.

“Yes, well, you’re alive now. No need to thank me, I was happy to help” she said, pulling Harry to his feet as Hermione rushed to wrap her arms around him.

“Bella! Don’t ever do that again!” Hermione scolded, punching her in the arm.

“Ouch! That hurt!”

“Probably not as much as being killed!” Pomfrey growled. “Potter, are you alright dear?”

“I – I think so” he mumbled. “How do we tell if the Horcrux is gone?”

“Conjure a snake and see if he can speak to it?” Andromeda suggested and Bellatrix bent down and picked up the wand preparing to cast.

“I’ll do it, thank you!” Hermione snapped. “I can’t believe you just killed my best friend!”

“I thought I was your best friend? You’re my best friend, along with Red of course” Bellatrix pouted as Hermione stared at her blankly.

“Are you serious?” she asked in disbelief and Bellatrix nodded, her eyes filling with tears. “Oh, god. Erm, of course, you are one of my two best friends, then. My best female friend?” she suggested and Bellatrix’s face lit up again in a smile.

“Hey! What about me?” Tonks asked.

“Tonks! I helped you break into Azkaban and bloody shag you on a regular basis don’t I? You’re a bit more than a best friend, obviously” Hermione snapped in exasperation before flushing as Andromeda raised an eyebrow at her and Tonks beamed happily.

“As touching as Bella’s newfound friendship is, as well as Miss Granger’s increased popularity and shagging, might I suggested we proceed with ascertaining whether the Horocrux in Mr Potter has been destroyed?” Snape drawled.

“Excellent idea, Professor” Hermione said, red faced, and flicked her wand. “Serpensortia!”

“Ah! Go away!” Harry yelped as the long black snake raised its head and looked at him.

“Try hissing at it!” Bella yelled, waving her arm as if to shoo it away. “Ew, look how slimy it looks!”

“Okay! Um, sssssss, stop, sssss! Is it working? Can everyone understand me?” he asked, looking around wildly as the snake reared back, hissing at him. Andromeda flicked her wand and the snake disappeared.

“It worked!” Bellatrix cried happily before yawning. “All this murdering Harry and being tortured by my own arm all hours of the day and night then getting dark magic ripped out of me has left me a bit knackered. Shall we go home for a nap?” she asked brightly.

“We can’t, the house is gone.” Hermione explained with as much patience as she could muster.

“Gone? Gone where?” Bellatrix asked.

“Blown up, dad said. Boom!” Tonks replied, miming an explosion with her hands as her father had done.

“Well I can’t very well nap here, can I? I don’t have my special sleepy pillow Ted gave me and this place is icky” Bellatrix declared and Andromeda grit her teeth and exhaled noisily.

“Well, let’s go see what Ted and Remus brought us with Sirius’ gold then, shall we?” Tonks said, patting her mother on the back and leading her towards the stairs.

“Ah yes, I haven’t even seen it yet! Moony has been setting it up. The Weasleys and Mad Eye will be around tomorrow to shift their stuff over apparently. He had these made for us all too” Sirius said, patting down his pockets and pulling out a small purse full of rings with an M on it. “Emergency Portkeys. Highly illegal, of course. Tap them and they will return you to the entrance foyer” he explained.

“M for Maurader?” Tonks asked and Sirius winked as he handed them out.

“No, apparently the place is called Murrook. I personally like to think it’s M for Maurader though” he grinned.

“I quite felt like a Maurader selecting it” Ted grinned. “Here is the address” he said, handing around a scrap of parchment with what Hermione recognised was Professor Lupin’s handwriting reading ‘The address of Murrook is 732 Medowie Crescent’ which was set alight once everyone glanced at it.

“Right well, lets go. I’m quite ready for a nap myself” Tonks said and Hermione flushed as she winked at her. She was pleased despite her ongoing lingering dread she could still muscle up some good old fashioned arousal. “Portus!”

0x0x0

“Murrook retirement village? I own a muggle retirement village?” Sirius asked in horror as he gazed at the sign in the entry foyer having landed next to a reception desk.

“Correct” Ted said happily, winking at his Tonks who giggled at him. “There are around 40 units, most single or double bedroom fully furnished villas and some on larger blocks I figured the Weasley’s would claim. All brand new. The keys are in the door for whatever one you select and the Fidelious has been cast. We have 40 acres to ourself with plenty of scrub for Mr Lupin to run around on once a month.”

Tonks leaned over and grabbed a stack of the pamphlets for the place left behind by the real estate and handed them around, looking it over.

“Ooh! A Jacuzzi and a heated pool! Brilliant! Nice work dad” she said, giving him a kiss on the cheek.

“A retirement village?” Sirius asked again hoarsely and Harry patted him on the back.

“It’s alright Sirius, it isn’t as bad as Grimmauld place and at least you won’t have to share a room with me” he said consolingly.

“I loved sharing a room with you though, son” Sirius said in surprise and Harry beamed at him.

“I think that’s my cousin’s way of saying you best find one of the two bedroom villa’s, Harry” Andromeda said kindly and Sirius grinned and threw an arm around his shoulder, leading him from the room. Ted took Andromeda’s hand who sighed and followed suit and Snape and McGonogall slowly took off in separate directions onto the expansive grounds.

“Is there a unit 69? I call that one if there is!” Bellatrix shouted, running from the reception and Tonks sighed with relief and turned to look at her witch.

“Thank god. I was worried she’d want to bunk with us. I hadn’t the heart to say no if she’d asked” she said with a laugh and Hermione grinned at her.

“I agree. Perhaps we should find a one bedroom villa though, just in case she changes her mind” she said, concern etching her features.

“Consider it done, lover. I’ll put some wards up but I doubt it will stop her” Tonks warned and Hermione snorted and grinned thoughtfully.

“I think I’ve almost gotten used to waking up to her excited face. It doesn’t make me nearly wet myself in fear opening my eyes to see Bellatrix Lestrange leaning over me while I’m in my bed anymore.”

“Just when I think I’ve gotten used to it she pops up somewhere new” Tonks said with a laugh. “She started appearing while I was in the shower right before you got back from school.”

“Oh, I would love a shower” Hermione sighed. “I’m all sweaty and gross from getting rid of the Dark Mark.”

“You’ll be far more sweaty and gross when I’m finished with you in an hour or two love” Tonks smiled wolfishly at her and Hermione raised an eyebrow in response.

“Oh, is that so?” she asked stepping forward and wrapping her arms around her neck.

“Yep. Now come on!” she yelled, hoisting Hermione over her shoulder and slapping her on the bum. “We’ve got a villa to break in, and I’ve got wards to cast that should at least keep your best friend out until dinner!”

“You are such a git Nymphadora Tonks” Hermione said with a laugh as she allowed herself to be carted off.

0x0x0

Tonks yawned widely a few mornings later and looked around her new home. The unit, whilst tasteful, had suited neither her nor Hermione’s taste being quite plain. A few expansion charms, decorations and colour changes had improved it dramatically and she found that despite the sting of loosing her childhood home she was growing quite fond of her new quarters. It certainly helped having her witch curled up next to her in bed, even if she was going to have to return to school the in the coming days. She pulled herself upright as Hermione walked in wearing one of her old t-shirts and gratefully accepted the coffee she offered.

“Amazing. I wish I could wake up like this every day” she grinned. “How are you doing sweets?”

“I’m not really looking forward to going back to Hogwarts” Hermione sighed. “It’s been easier dealing with...everything...with the distraction of getting this place set up and our belated Christmas and having everyone around. The dinner tonight will be good, it’s been ages since I’ve seen Professor Lupin. He might have some advice for the OWLs in a few months, not that Bella and your mum haven’t been amazing when your mum isn’t too upset over the cottage and Bella isn’t...having a moment.”

“Hey, no thinking about exams while I’m here. I have work in an hour and you can fret about it then” Tonks offered with a wink. “He would be good to ask though. And hopefully he stops giving me pitiful looks when he see’s I’m with you and not pining after him.”

“I can’t believe you asked him on a date!” Hermione laughed. “I had a bit of a crush on him myself when I was at school.”

“Well at least not everyone knew about it. It’s not like you dazed at him slack jawed and got swatted in the head by my aunt like two days ago” Tonks grimaced, which Hermione reciprocated. To their shame they had both been caught gawking at Fleur when she strolled past them unawares in a bikini and Bellatrix had made a scene and laughed at them until she cried. Fleur, thankfully, had found the situation most amusing and had gracefully accepted Hermione’s surprising confession that the venom she had treated her with the previous year was mostly likely some sort of repressed attraction that she hadn’t known how to deal with. Much to Molly’s irritation Tonks, Hermione, Ginny, Andromeda and Bellatrix had struck up quite a friendly rapport with the French beauty despite Molly being quite convinced she wasn’t good enough for her son.

“It’s alright love, I think Moody is still organising that dueling competition for after our feast tonight so you can get revenge on her. It should be fun.”

“As much as I adore your faith in me, love, I’ve no doubt that Bella will utterly destroy me” Tonks chuckled, cupping her girlfriends cheek. “Even if it was all of us against her she is a dueling prodigy. Not to be a complete pillock but I’m quite a good duelist between the Black training and the auroA training and even still I think it would be a miracle to beat her.”

“She’s that good?” Hermione asked incredulously and Tonks could only nod, taking a swig of her coffee.

“Mum told me all about it once, she’s not aware of anyone thats beat her. Tom Riddle was meant to be a mentor for Bellatrix, obviously we know now that it was Voldemort scoping her out, and she even beat him.” Hermione stated at her thoughtfully.

“To be honest love, I only went for you because of your big bad Auror image. If Bella’s going to wipe the floor with you I might be with the wrong Black” she said impishly and ducked as Tonks swatted at her.

“Is that so?” came a voice from across the room and Bellatrix appeared with a grin. “Why kitten, I never knew you thought of me like that. Lucky for you, my darling niece, I don’t swing that way.”

“Morning Bella” Tonks chuckled at the slight pink hue to her girlfriends cheeks.

“Good morning” Bellatrix grinned wickedly, stealing Hermione’s coffee cup and skulling the rest of it.

“Hey!” Hermione cried.

“What? It always tastes better when someone else makes it” she shrugged. “Plus Andy and Ted have gone to have another look at the cottage to see if anything else can be salvaged and Andy makes the best coffee I’ve ever had. Kitten, I came to see if you wanted to do some more transfiguration work with me, Potter and Weasley will be joining in. Of course, if you’d rather we stay here and you can try and seduce me I’m always open to trying new things.”

“Shut it Bella” Hermione laughed. “I have no intention of seducing anyone but your niece and to be frank, it doesn’t take much to get her going at all. How on Earth did you get Harry and Ron to agree to transfiguration practice?”

“I won’t have them bludging off you forever now. I can cut quite an intimidating figure to people who aren’t you, kitten” Bellatrix offered with a wink and a smirk. “Plus I promised to help them with their dueling after. You can do that too, nothing like a bit of spontaneous violence to help keep that temper in check.”

Tonks stretched and grinned, making her way to the shower and changing into her auror robes before kissing her aunt on the cheek and Hermione on the lips. “Have a good day ladies. If you get it on at least hide the evidence well so I don’t find out.”

0x0x0

Tonks happily completed her days patrol, even managing to keep her patience with Russell crapping on about his newborn daughter Jade and maintained her sunny disposition even when he took a long lunch leaving her with all the reports to do. In fact, she still had a smile on her face when she and some of the other aurors for the day were summonsed into Amelia Bones’ office. Unfortunately, the smile didn’t last much longer than that. She, Keyes, Dawlish and Brand stood in the office trying to maintain polite exteriors while Senior Undersecretary to the Minister Dolores Umbridge launched into a monologue.

“Aurors, I have been discharged from the hospital today and met with the Minister to have arrangements made for an arrest to be carried out on the ringleader on a group of unruly students who attacked me prior to the end of term while I attempted to secure the school. I understand the hit wizards have been putting out feelers to locate her but have been unable to do so since the demise of her muggle parents.”

Oh you have got to be fucking kidding me. Tonks caught eyes with her boss and shot Bones a pleading look whos eyes widened in recognition.

“The ringleader, a muggleborn, is quite good friends with Harry Potter who is held in quite an admirable position by society given his heroic actions prior to school ending when he and the Weasley children, the Lovegood girl and the Blacks intervened and attempted to save some innocent people from an attack by Death Eaters. Given the situation, her arrest will need to be kept quite low-key and she will be held in Azkaban until her trial.”

Tonks took a deep breath, trying to not explode at the stupid woman before her threatening her universe. “Are you referring to Hermione Granger?”

“Yes, well put together Auror Tonks.”

“I understand that Hermione Granger was also a part of the group that attempted to save the innocent people from a Death Eater attack and that they were, in fact, attacking and did successfully murder her parents.”

Umbridge narrowed her eyes at Tonks. “Are you trying to make a point, dear?”

“Yes. Why is Hermione being arrested and the other students who attacked you are not?” In her peripheral vision she could see Amelia place her head in her hands.

“I have explained, and the Minister agrees, that an attack on a Ministry representative cannot go unacknowledged. We understand that Mr Potter has quite enough on his plate if the rumors of him being the Chosen One are correct and to arrest the other children from well-known magical families would be frowned upon by society as a whole. Miss Granger is clearly the ringleader of the group and poses quite a danger to Mr Potter particularly if the articles from Rita Skeeter around the Tri-Wizard Tournament last year are to be believed. In this circumstance Miss Granger is well suited to send a message to others in her position that attacks against the Ministry won’t be ignored.”

“Dolores, don’t you think that given the situation with her parents being killed and the stress this would put her under that you could simply let the matter pass? It seems as though you would be better suited to following through on this in a school setting, given her age, and simply giving her detention” Amelia asked incredulously as Tonks began shaking with barely concealed rage.

“And let muggleborns think that they can get away with attacking those above their stations? I think not” she scoffed. Tonks saw red and took a step forward and made to draw her wand before she felt Russell place a hand over her mouth and drag her towards the door.

“’Scuse us Madam Bones, Madam Umbridge, Auror Tonks here is still a bit pale and shaky, getting over a head cold. I’d hate for her to pass it on to Madame Umbridge here while she’s only out of St Mungos a day I might take her to get a nice glass of water and a sit down” he said hastily and pulled her from the room nodding to the head of the DMLE.

“Russ let me the fuck go so I can go and kill that stupid cunt” Tonks growled as her mouth was uncovered and tried to struggle out of his grip back towards the office.

“Woo up there Tonksie come have a fag with me love. Can’t have you getting arrested for attacking her too. Maybe the little Granger girl has the right idea” he chuckled dragging her onto the conjured balcony and sticking a lit cigarette in her mouth and holding her by the shoulders. “Now whats got you all in a tizz then?”

“I’m dating her” Tonks said, unable to come up with a lie in her state as she inhaled deeply. Russell laughed heartily.

“Sure can pick them, love. Tell me about her.” He grinned as her expression softened.

“She’s amazing Russ. Just the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid eyes on, honestly. Inside and out. Biggest heart I’ve ever known on a person, it blows my mind how much she cares about people. You should hear her crap on about house elf rights. And Merlin, she’s so smart. A force to be reckoned with. She’ll be the Minister for Magic one day” she said resolutely.

“Not if she gets arrested for attacking Umbridge she wont” Russell said firmly. “But we won’t let that happen, will we love? Sounds like you’ve finally found a good match. The one, I reckon. Like me and my Sophie.”

“I think you’re right mate. Christ, what the fuck am I going to do? I’ll be damned if I arrest my own girlfriend. Or let anyone else arrest her” she growled.

“Well she’s a smart cookie apparently. What would she tell you to do if she were here?”

“Depends if she’s had a coffee yet or not, and she’s been pretty feisty lately” she snorted. “But given its 3pm in the afternoon I reckon she would tell me to get back in that room and find out all the details so she can work on a plan or let Amelia Bones do her thing. She’s always been fair, she wouldn’t let anything bad happen to any of the students if she had a say in things.”

“She seems a smart lass. Why don’t you do a Floo Call now while everyone is distracted and give her a heads up love?”

“I might. Can you cover for me?”

“Course Tonksie.”

Tonks made her way to the Floo and stuck her head in, whispering ‘Murrook’ and smiled as Harry’s head appeared.

“Wotcher Harry. Hermione around?”

“Yeah...she got in a bit of a shouting match with Mrs Weasley over how much work Kreacher was doing and left in a bit of a huff. I’ll send a Patronus for her. How’s work? Everything alright?” Harry asked in concern taking in Tonks’ pale demeanor and angry black hair.

“Yeah mate, it’s alright just...Umbridge is trying to stir up some stuff to get Hermione in trouble and I wanted to give her the heads up.”

Harry pulled a disgusted face.

“Tonks I have a list about a mile long of things wrong with Umbridge but if you prefer I can just come in and curse her.”

“Whats this about Umbridge trying to give Hermione grief then?” came another voice and Ron’s face appeared followed by an irate looking Ginny who demanded Ron move over.

“What? Who’s doing what now?” Came Andromeda’s voice who forced her way into view. “Oh hello darling.”

“What are you all doing over here?” demanded the voice of Bellatrix as she squished herself over Ron’s head.

Russell turned from his position in the doorway and snorted as Tonks guestured wildly and tried to get all the heads hanging out of the grate to be quiet.

“Shut up the lot of you! You’ll get me in trouble” she scolded. “Where’s Hermione?”

“Why do you need kitten? Whats wrong?”

“Oh! ‘Ermione ees coming, she was just in zee pool cooling off. ‘Ello Tonks” Said Fleur who appeared and smiled warmly. Tonks put her face in her hands and groaned loudly.

“Shut it before Umbridge hears you!”

“Umbridge? Wasn’t she that horrible toady git in the year above mine at school who works for the Minister now?”

“Yeah Bella, she’s trying to get Hermione in trouble for what happened before we went to Oxford to try and help her parents!”

“What ‘appened before Oxford Ronald?”

“Well...Hermione might have threatened her and we all might have hexed her a bit. But she’s horrible! She had it in for Hermione since she gave her firm talking to for being rude to Luna and she makes the students write lines with these bloody awful quills that cut your hand!” proclaimed Ron loudly.

“Blood Quills!” came the voice of the twins in the back ground before they squished their heads through as well.

“What?” demanded Bellatrix, Andromeda, Fleur and Tonks simultaneously.

“What are you all doing?” came Hermione’s voice sounding muffled before she obviously managed to crawl underneath someone and stick her head into the fireplace. The angry faces of Harry, Fleur, Andromeda, Bellatrix, Ron, Ginny, the twins and Tonks all looked at her and she winced. “What?”

“What’s going on here then? Theres a dozen arses hanging out of the fireplace” came the voice of Sirius and Russ, who had been standing in the doorway watching the theatrics as well as the corridor for Ministry staff, burst into a fit of the giggles.

“Well, it seems zat Tonks ees wishing to speak to ‘Ermione regarding a Ministry employee who she rightfully assaulted by ze sounds of eet who ees trying to cause ‘er problems at zee Ministry. Zis ‘Umbreedge’ ‘as been having students use Blood Quills in detention and ‘Ermione ‘ad not mentioned zis to any of the adults here which ‘as caused zem to become, how you say eet? Irate?”

Hermione turned to glare at the Weasleys and Harry who recoiled. “Which one of you told Tonks about the Blood Quill?” she hissed. Ron hesitantly raised a hand and winced as she thumped him.

“Oh no! You don’t get to blame them for this! Why didn’t you tell me she made you use a Blood Quill?” Tonks demanded angrily.

“Wait, so Umbridge actually had Hermione use one?” Sirius interjected incredulously. “I thought it was a horrible thing to do but surely Hermione would never get detention!”

“Tonks! Get out of the way, I’m coming through. Andy where my knife?!” Bellatrix demanded.

“What? No! Bugger off the lot of you! Let me talk to my girlfriend, no one’s coming through anywhere!” Tonks insisted only to be pushed roughly aside by Bellatrix who in turn was shoved aside by everyone else who had been in the fireplace.

“I’ll kill her! Where is she!” shouted Bellatrix.

“I’ll kill you Ronald Weasley!” Hermione growled at Ron who paled stepped behind Ginny who rolled her eyes.

“OI! Umbridge is in a meeting with the Head of the DMLE about 5 meters away! Can we bloody not kill anyone in my office please?!” Tonks hissed and smacked Russell on the shoulder as he remained watching the corridor giggling.

“I still think we should kill her. No one hurts the family” Bellatrix said firmly and Sirius nodded, cracking his knuckles menacingly. Andromeda nodded and pulled her wand. Harry looked up at Sirius who gave him a menacing grin and Harry pulled his wand out as well. Ron stepped forward from behind Ginny.

“Where Harry goes, I go” he said firmly and gave his brothers and sister a look who patted him on the back in agreeance. Fleur shrugged and put her hair up with a hair tie in preparation.

“Um, excuse me everyone, she didn’t actually use the Blood Quill on me” Hermione interjected impatiently. “I mean, she tried, but it didn’t work, I just wore gloves and never touched it so if anything I tortured her. No need to get all murder-y.”

“That’s not the point!” Bellatrix said angrily. “How dare she do that to anyone, let alone you kitten!”

“Perhaps instead of murderin’ her you could all just go and give the old bitch a piece of your mind?” suggested Russell from the door.

“Russell Keyes you are not helping!” snapped Tonks.

“I agree with zis man, let us go to zis Umbreedge and put ‘er in ‘er place. She will soon know not to mess with zis family.”

“I like you more and more each day Frenchie” smiled Bellatrix patting her on the back.

“You aren’t even all related!” cried Hermione in exasperation as she pinched the bridge of her nose. “Let’s all just take a minute here, please. As touching as it is having you all defend my honor or whatever this’ - she waved a hand gesturing at the irritable group - ‘is, let’s not go and invoke a blood feud or something.”

“That’s an excellent idea!” cried Sirius.

“No it’s not!” yelled Tonks. “No blood feuds!”

“Hermione, darling, you’ve been part of the family since I first met you and you and Nymphodora helped Bella get out of Azkaban” Andromeda said kindly.

“I did not hear that, no I did not.” Russell giggled from the doorway before looking to Tonks and sighing. “Oh alright, go on then.” Tonks raised her wand.

“Obliviate!”

“Nonsense ‘Ermione! You are meant to be with Tonks, I can see zee bond you share is very strong. I share such a bond with William. And soon Harry and Ginny will also share zis bond which will bring zee Potter, Black, Delacour and Weasley family togezer!”

Ginny and Harry both looked at each other and flushed, quickly looking away.

“Oh Circes tits this is a disaster” Tonks moaned.

“Enough of this nonsense, lets go!”

The posse stormed from the room and looked around the hallway before looking at Tonks to point them in the right direction who crossed her arms and glared at them only to see Russell in the corner of her eye point to the door at the end of the corridor.

“I hate you” she growled.

“I don’t know you but I don’t particularly like you at the moment either” sighed Hermione in resignation.

“I am so mad at you” Tonks said looking at Hermione whose eyes had filled wiith tears.

“Ah come on now Tonksie, how can you stay mad at that face” Russell cried gleefully. “Can’t be upset with, what was it you said, the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen inside and out? I’ll give you two a minute ”

Tonks turned to glare at him as he walked away and Hermione shifted uncomfortably but blushed prettily regardless.

“I’m so sorry, Tonks. I didn’t want to worry you with everything else that was happening. I forgot about it to be honest with everything that was going on...I’m so, so sorry. Please forgive me.”

“Baby, the fact that that fucking woman even dreamed of trying to do that to you makes what Bella would do to her look like childs play” Tonks said firmly. “I was already about to kick her ass into next week and that was before Russ dragged me out of the room before I could get myself sacked.”

“I...I’m slightly more fond of him then” Hermione sighed. “I don’t have any more secrets from you, I didn’t even mean to keep that one for any length of time. I meant to tell you after that detention but when I saw you it just went right out of my mind, I don’t care about anything else as long as I have you.” Hermione gazed at her intently, seemingly unaware of the tears running down her face.

“I understand, it’s been a rough few months” Tonks whispered looking at the ceiling and trying to swallow the lump in her throat. “It’s just been such a fucking whirlwind with you of all these horrible things you’ve had to do and deal with and still you just keep soldiering on and putting everyone before yourself, mixed up with how bloody happy I am when I’m with you, I’ve never felt anything like it. The thought of anything happening to you makes me want to vomit and knowing that you could have been tortured by that fucking cunt of a woman just turns me into...well this” she rambled, rubbing at her eyes.

“Nymphadora Tonks I thank my lucky stars every day when I wake up knowing you love me” Hermione whispered into her chest and Tonks threw her arms around her, sniffing loudly.

“God we’re a fucking pair aren’t we” the pink haired witch choked out, putting her chin on Hermione’s head. “Never do that again.”

“I won’t, I promise.”

“Damn right you bloody promise.”

Hermione giggled a little and looked up at Tonks before decisively wrapping her arms around her neck and giving her a bruising kiss. Tonks quickly reciprocated and felt herself being shoved back against the wall as hands slipped under her shirt.

“Oh fuck Hermione” she whispered, feeling teeth latch onto her neck, tangling a hand in her hair and pulling her closer.

The sound of a loud bang startled them and they looked at each other and Tonks groaned.

“Merlin’s fucking beard I suppose we better check they aren’t all being carted off to Azkaban” Tonks sighed and gave her eyes another wipe with the back of her hand and placed a chaste kiss to her girlfriends lips.

0x0x0

Hermione strode down the hallway towards the sound of the yelling and released Tonks’ hand, squaring her shoulders as she opened the door. Russell was in the corner with the Weasleys and Harry, all visibly trying not to laugh while Amelia Bones was staring coldly at Umbridge with her hands steepled, who had backed into a corner while apparently being berated simultaneously by Andromeda, Bellatrix, Sirius and Fleur.

“How dare you speak in such a way to a Ministry Employee?! I am Senior Undersecretary to the Minister!”

“Miz Umbreedge, I am sure zat you are aware of my family’s pozition in zee French Ministry, I can assure you zat should word spread zat you have been attempting to torture innocent children in zeir place of learning ze Duc would be most displeased and it would be a seegnificant strain on zee relationship between France and Britain.”

“Forget bloody France – no offense Miss Delacour – I am Harry’s godfather and he considers Miss Granger a close friend, do you really want to have a strained relationship between the Ministry of Magic and the Boy-Who-Lived?” Sirius asked incredulously. “Where’s the Minister? I wish to speak to him!”

“Cornelius has better things to do with his time than - “

“Shut up!” yelled Andromeda. “Hermione Granger is my ward, and has been since her parents passed away. Should you not have tried to detain her they may very well still be alive you insignificant, worthless woman. Let me be frank, any attack made on Hermione is an attack on my family.”

Despite her utter disdain for Umbridge even Hermione winced as Umbridge scoffed.

“Oh, as horrible as a slight against the Tonks family may be - “

Bellatrix, who seemed to have been pacing around like a caged lion behind the trio pushed her way through the group and stood nose to nose with Umbridge who, finally, seemed to realise the danger she had put herself in and visibly paled but maintained her defiant look When she finally spoke it was quiet and held a venom Hermione had never heard.

“Umbridge let me make myself very, very clear. Hermione Granger saved my life.I owe her a life debt and if you so much as contemplate harming a single hair on her head there will not be a place on Earth you can hide from me. I would relish the sound of your screams and I would spend the rest of my life and yours slowly and painfully making you wish you had never been born. Send me to Azkaban or throw me to the Dementors. Tie me up and hand me to the Dark Lord. I. Don’t. Give. A. Fuck.” she hissed dangerously. “Everyone who stormed into this room ten minutes ago is my family and the Blacks are not renown for their kindness or patience. They are known for their loyalty.”

Something in Ubridge seemed to snap and she screamed back in Bellatrix’s face “The Blacks are known for their Blood Purity! You are as much a worthless blood traitor as your sister and cousin over there! Look at yourself, in the company of half-breeds and blood traitors defending a worthless mudblood!”

The sound of what sounded like a small explosion went off as every person in the room excluding Amelia Bones and Hermione cast a curse in her direction. When the haze from the room cleared Umbridge lay on the floor with smoldering robes sprouting an assortment of boils, pustiles, bat bogeys, tentacles and several ailments Hermione couldn’t recognise. She sighed loudly and put her face in her hands.

“For gods sake. Get out of the way the lot of you!” she snapped. “Go and sit down before she dies and I have to spend the rest of my life visiting you all in Azkaban.” The occupants of the room froze and stared at her incredulously. “NOW please!”

Hermione’s magic crackled around her angrily and she was pleased to see everyone begrudgingly walked over to the long table Amelia still sat at silently watching and looked suitably chastised as Hermione knelt down next to Umbridge and after preventing her robes from fully catching alight began muttering counter curses and, when the last mark disappeared, renervated her.

“Would you like me to call someone to help you to St Mungos?” Hermione asked with forced politeness, offering a hand to help her up as the occupants of the room stared at her incredulously.

“Don’t touch me mudblood” Umbridge spat and pulled herself to her feet as Hermione held a hand up in the air to prevent another onslaught of spells.

“Don’t expect me to ever save you from your own bad choices and prejudices again” Hermione said firmly. “You’ve been given a chance to let this go and I suggest you take it, I won’t be showing you this kindness in the future.”

Umbridge spat at her feet and stormed from the room with as much dignity as she could manage and Hermione sighed. Everyone jumped as Amelia Bones stood up.

“All of you, sit down and wait here quietly. Miss Granger, Auror Tonks, take a walk with me.”

“If you arrest them I’ll bloody - “ Bellatrix mumbled incoherently as Ginny wrapped a hand around her mouth.

“Neither of them are under arrest. We will be back in a few minutes.”

Tonks and Hermione wordlessly followed Amelia out of the office and took a seat in a smaller room on a lounge. Hermione nervously reached for Tonks’ hand who gripped it back tightly. Amelia raised an eyebrow.

“Right. This explained a lot” She sighed, gesturing to their clenched hands.

“Boss, I’m so sorry I never meant for all of that to happen, I tried to tell them not to come. I take full responsibility for it though.” Tonks said sincerely.

“If anything, Madam Bones, its my fault” Hermione said, noticing the panicked look on Tonks’ face as she came to accept the fact she had just hexed the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic in front of the head of her Department. “If I had been honest about the Blood Quill from the start we wouldn’t have had so many heightened emotions, I can’t blame them for acting that way they all have quite well known...er...passionate feelings.”

“Tempers, you mean?” Amelia snorted.

“Uh, yes.” Hermione agreed.

“Lets start at the beginning. I was waiting in my office with Dolores when a room full of angry people walked in and started screeching about Blood Quills. She’s been using Blood Quills at the school?”

“Yes. In detention. She has students write lines using the Blood Quill.” Hermione said honestly.

“And she tried to have you use a Blood Quill and you…refused?”

“I wore gloves so it never touched my skin. She touched it last so it cut her hand instead of mine.”

To her surprise, Amelia swore loudly. “I can’t believe Susan never told me.”

“Erm, with all due respect, Madam Bones, Susan is a good student and isn’t the sort to get herself in trouble with Professor Umbridge. She mostly had it in for the Gryffindors and, well, mudbloods” Hermione sighed.

“Don’t say that about yourself!” Tonks said firmly.

“I must agree with Auror Tonks here, Miss Granger. My Susan speaks quite highly of you, you know. She speaks of your talent often. I am aware you often tutored her in Charms. She credits you with her stellar marks last year.” Amelia smiled kindly as Hermione blushed.

“I think it was mostly Susan, Madam Bones. She barely needed any help at all.”

“You are too kind, Miss Granger. Of course, she also spoke highly of a blue haired 7th year Hufflepuff who I believe hexed a group of 7th year Slytherin students into submission who attempted to bully her in her first year though she was unaware, of course, that it was Auror Tonks here.” Tonks flushed as much as Hermione which caused Amelia to snort loudly.

“You two are quite a pair. Let me cut to the chase. I have no interest in pursuing legal action against either of you. If anyone asks me, of course, I will deny saying this - but I have desired to hex Umbridge for quite some time and I’m not entirely certain I would have helped her afterwards like Miss Granger here. I am prepared to drop the matter entirely and assure you that Miss Granger will certainly not be arrested on my watch and I will see to it that Umbridge does not return to Hogwarts however I cannot permit a group of furious adults and teenagers to storm my meetings and assault my collegues no matter how much they deserve it. I will also have Albus Dumbledore’s hide for not protecting his students. Are we understood?”

“Yes Madam Bones.”

“Of course, boss.”

“Now I sincerely doubt that Umbridge will follow up on this after today and I will be sure to explain to the Minister what she has been doing at the school but know this Miss Granger – the woman can hold a grudge. I would be prepared for retaliation if the opportunity presents itself” she warned. “On that note, it seems likely the Dark Lord will make a move against the Ministry at some point in the future. Can I be assured you will all be safe and have adequate security?”

Hermione and Tonks looked at each other before Hermione spoke up. “We have 40 acres in the muggle world under the Fidelious charm with room for about 100 people. I consider our security top notch. In fact if you or Susan require a place to go I’m prepared to give you this emergency Portkey. Mr Moody works reception, I’m sure he would be happy to let you in” she said, giving her two of the rings, pleased she had taken to carrying a few spare with her.

“Reception?” Amelia asks incredulously.

“He takes his role very seriously” Tonks said with a laugh. “You’d have to pass his security quiz first but I’ll let him know you’re on the list.”

“Thank you ladies, I will pass one on to Susan this evening though I sincerely hope we don’t need to use it.”

“So do we, Madam Bones. Actually we are having a bit of a get together before Hogwarts starts up again in a few days and you are more than welcome to join us.”

“Thank you Miss Granger. Now please excuse me while I berate the occupants of the boardroom. Auror Tonks, you’re dismissed for the afternoon.”

0x0x0

The evening progressed nicely and Amelia and Susan had, in fact, shown up and were joined by Augusta Longbottom and Neville as well as the Lovegoods. McGonogall and Snape had taken it upon themselves to visit as well. Moody had interrogated them all thoroughly before allowing them access and took it upon himself to organise the friendly dueling match firstly for the students before the adults. Hermione, much to Tonks’ delight, had come out second for the students having been narrowly defeated Harry for the title of champion and they had sat down together with a view butterbeers and chatted while the stage was set up in the hall.

“I can’t believe what Bella worked out with my cloak!” Harry raved. “I can make it bigger or smaller, I can make it unsumonable. I can wear it under my normal clothes like a weird full body jumpsuit thing all the time and just tap it to make it work!”

“What can I say Potter, I’m very clever” Bella had laughed. “I’ve never seen an Invisibility Cloak like it before, its very special. Where did you get it?”

“It was passed down to me by my father, apparently its an heirloom” Harry explained and Tonks frowned.

“What? They usually only last a few years. Thats bizarre.”

“Sounds like one of Hallows” Bill laughed.

“One of the what?” Hermione asked.

“You know, ‘Mione. Like the tales of Beetle the Bard. Nursery rhymes and stuff. The Hallows were from the story of the three brothers.”

“Oh, I’ve never heard of them” Hermione asked interestedly.

“I’ve got a copy somewhere sweets, I’ll give it to you.”

“Thank you” Hermione smiled sweetly.

“Anything for you my love” Tonks replied with a wink.

“Disgusting, aren’t they?” Sirius nudged Bill with a wink and he snorted.

“Those two terrify me even more than my fiancée. I’ll never say.”

“Wide lad” Bella smirked. “When’s it my turn to duel? I’m getting bored!”

“In a bloody minute Black, we’re waiting for Lupin to get here” Moody growled.

Tonks was eventually advised she would be dueling Amelia Bones in an hour and went for a walk around the garden with Bella and Hermione who had located Ginny sitting on a bench in a huff.

“Whats wrong Red?” Bellatrix asked as Ginny muttered about the incompetence and unobservant nature of men under her breath.

“It’s just bloody Harry. It doesn’t matter how much I flirt with him he just doesn't respond.”

“How are you flirting with him?” Hermione asked. “Is it direct enough? He can be a bit...oblivious. I just don’t think he sees you as a...sexual being yet.”

“It can’t hurt to just be direct Gin. I, for one, managed to snag Hermione by throwing her Chinese food on the floor and sticking my tongue down her throat in her kitchen” Tonks offered, grinning at the memory.

“Seriously?” Ginny and Bellatrix asked in unison as Hermione flushed and looked pointedly away.

“Oh look, Professor Lupin is here” she said in an attempt to redirect the topic.

“And such a straightforward approach worked for you often?” Bellatrix drawled.

“It worked about as often as it didn’t” Tonks replied with a laugh. “Thankfully I have no intention of needing to be so direct any more as Hermione lovingly puts up with my shite.” She pulled Hermione in and placed a chaste kiss on her head. “It didn’t, however, work at all on ‘Professor Lupin’ over there who looked at me like he might vomit when I asked him out to dinner.”

Bellatrix looked where Tonks was pointing towards and her eyes lit up.

“Well, he’s certainly grown up from being Sirius’ little motley looking friend” she mused and Tonks turned to Hermione with amusement on her face.

“Bellatrix Black are you eyeing up Lupin? Notorius rejector of flirting?” she asked incredulously.

“Please. If I flirted he certainly wouldn’t reject me. It’s been a long time since I’ve been with a man, ladies. I’d say its time to break the drought” she preened.

“I don’t know, Bella. He’s quite handsome in a...rugged sort of way but Mum’s never know him to be with anyone and she tries to set him up all time time” Ginny warned as Bellatrix continued to size him up.

“Pish posh, Red. It’s time for Aunty Bella to teach you how to flirt, ignore this one and her less than subtle attempts. Tell me everything you know about him” she demanded imperiously.

“This is going to be hilarious” Tonks whispered to Hermione as Ginny recounted every bit of information she had ever heard about Remus Lupin.

“Shush, no it isn’t! I think Bella’s ego has the potential to be quite fractured when he turns her down” Hermione hissed.

“Oi, I heard that! Ye of little faith” Bellatrix said. “Watch and learn ladies.” She sauntered slowly towards him and the girls all glanced at each other before shrugging and silently creeping through the bushes to spy more closely.

“What are you ladies doing in the bush?” came a stern voice behind them and they jumped to see McGonogall eying them suspiciously.

“Shhh Professor, Bella’s hitting on Remus! She’s teaching Gin how to flirt!” Tonks whispered as Ginny flushed.

“No!” McGonogall said quietly, mouth agape. “He is a notorious rejector of flirting. Professor Sinestra and Professor Babbling tried the entire year he was at Hogwarts and he barely raised an eyebrow!”

“Thats what I said” Tonks hissed back. To her amusement McGonogall quickly ducked into the bushes and crouched to join the trio in their spying. Tonks snorted as Bellatrix approached and tried to chat to him while he backed against a wall looking vaguely uncomfortable.

“What are you doing in zee bushes?” came the voice of Fleur from behind them as she strolled past with Andromeda who were quickly and quietly filled in and with only a moments hesitation crawled in to the shrub as well.

“Remus ees quite a ‘andsome man, zo not as ‘andsome as my Bill of course. Zey would make an attractive couple” Fleur whispered.

“It will never happen” Tonks whispered. “He turns down everyone. I would have thought he was gay except I’ve overheard him talking to Sirius about the sorts of birds he finds attractive.”

“Overheard or eavesdropped?” Andromeda asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Definitely eavesdropped” she replied with a wink as her mother swatted her arm.

“He hasn’t made an excuse to leave yet, maybe she’s in with a good chance?” Hermione asked.

“Absolutely not. I’d bet money on it” Tonks replied resolutely.

They were soon joined by Amelia and Susan Bones who joined both the bet and the group from the bush with Andromeda and Amelia being the only two to say that Bellatrix would succeed in her task with the rest being a firm no.

“I’m telling you girls, Amelia would remember Bella at school. No one she had her eye on would get away unscathed.” The two older women gave each other a knowing look.

“The problem is” Hermione explained to Susan who was somewhat confused “He is a werewolf and a lovely man but he avoids any form of affection, he thinks himself unworthy which is ridiculous.”

“I think you might be right Hermione” she murmured as Bellatrix reached out to touch his arm and he visibly flinched. Tonks felt a flicker of sadness that her aunt wasn’t succeeding in her first go at being on the pull in over a decade, despite openly betting against her. Then, to her shock, things began to change.

“What...what is she doing?” McGonogall asked in surprise as Bellatrix pulled a strange squinty smiling face at him showing all her teeth and tilted her head to the side.

Harry walked past with Sirius and Ginny, seeing Lupin’s eyes flash suddenly’ shrugged and stepped out of the shrub and pulled a mirror image of the face at Harry who recoiled looking highly concerned before making an excuse to leave.

“Look at all you cackling hens in this bush. What the hell are you doing?” Sirius asked incredulously.

“Look!” Andromeda replied. “Bella is trying to seduce Remus Lupin!”

“It will never work!” said Ginny crossly, folding her arms at the sting of rejection from Harry. “How can that stupid face she’s pulling attract anyone?”

“Fuck me! She’s not trying to attract him shes trying to speak to the wolf! It’s going to work too, look at him!” Sirius barked out a laugh and crawled into the shrub next to the women, perching himself next to Amelia who he winked at and grinned as she blushed.

“What, like, ‘my, what big hands you have grandmama’ Little Red Riding Hood shit?” Tonks asked incredulously as Hermione’s eyes lit up in understanding.

“No, look Tonks! She’s submitting like wolves do! Its a mating habit!”

“God sweets, I know you like to know a lot about everything but wolf mating habits?”

“Quickly, lets get closer!” McGonogall whispered hurriedly and they quietly crawled through the shrubbery to get within earshot.

0x0x0

Bellatrix grinned as Lupin's eyes flashed yellow and he subconsciously took a step towards her. This was a delicate operation and she would not be rejected. It had been years since she had been attracted to anyone and, if she was being frank, she couldn’t remember a time where she had ever felt so attracted to anyone at all. She ran her eyes over him slowly and resisted a strong urge to manhandle him.

“I...I don’t know if this is a good idea, Miss Black” Remus said sincerely though with his uncrossed arms, straightened shoulders and eyes she could see he was certainly fighting a battle against himself.

“Its Bella, please. Now why wouldn’t this be a good idea?” she asked, twisting a curl between her fingers and tilting her head again. His eyes flashed yellow breifly for the third time in as many minutes.

“I, I can be...not very safe to be around, Bella. You are certainly a beautiful woman, please don’t think I am not interested because, well, I am. But I...I’m old. I’m poor. Most importantly, I find it safest for everyone to mostly keep to myself in a – well a romantic sense.” Concern crossed his brow as she snorted at him.

“I'm Bellatrix Black."

Lupin stared at her and she sighed before continuing.

"Remus, I’m older than you and a multi-millionairess. I was married to a Death Eater. I was Lord Voldemorts right hand lieutenant for years. I worked closely with that mutt Fenrir Greyback and I was, in fact, the one to set up his protections on the occasions he stayed home during the full moon. I survived over a decade in Azkaban. I’m not saying I’m perfect, why I’m probably as dangerous as you without your Wolfsbane Potion on the full moon any day of the week. But I can assure you my safety is not a concern here” she said with a smirk. “So, take me to dinner?”

Remus stood, clenching and unclenching his fists for a moment while she waited as patiently as she could before, finally, he conceded.

“I think you’re right, Bellatrix. If anyone can be look after themselves, it would be you. I would very much like to take you to dinner. Tomorrow night?”

“Perfect” Bellatrix beamed at him and allowed a feeling of warmth to flow through her before giving him a wicked grin. “Just a kiss goodnight then.”

She tried not to swoon as he pecked her cheek and beamed back at her.

“Until tomorrow.” He jumped slightly as the bush next to them appeared to erupt and blushed deeply as a pack of women came streaming out beaming at him and quickly scampered away as Sirius ran after him and howled like a wolf with calls of ‘you old dog!’.

“You just cost me 30 galleons!” Tonks cried though her eyes were alight with joy. Bellatrix fought the urge to gush and simply pulled Ginny towards her and offered her a smirk and a wink.

“And that Red, is how we flirt”.

Bellatrix could only grin as her sister came sidling up to her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.

“Look at you, Bellatrix Black. Still got it after all these years.”

“I know, he’s quite dishy isn’t he?” she laughed.

“You should have seen Amelia swoon!” her sister replied with a laugh.

“Mum I think we all swooned” Tonks replied cheekily.

“You see Miss Weasley, you jumped too soon pulling that strange face at Mr Potter. You should have waited for the whole lesson!” McGonogall instructed.

“Shut it, all of you!”

“I would be ‘appy to offer you some suggestions to seduce ‘Arry if you would like? On ze condition, of course, zat you mention nothing about eet to Molly.”

“Thank you Fleur, I would appreciate that!”

“Well done Bella, you have a date!” Hermione whispered as she stood next to her amidst the pack of delighted women. “I’m so happy for you!”

“That’s ‘cause your a soft touch, kitten” Bella replied with a grin as Hermione squeezed her hand. “But thats acceptable, I’m feeling quite lovey dovey myself at the moment.”

“You deserve it” Tonks said quietly to her Aunt and smiled sweetly at the older witch.

“Oi, Black, time for your duel!”

“Time to spill some blood!” Bella cried, tearing off towards the hall.

“Aand the lovey dovey moment is gone” Tonks snorted as Hermione wrapped her arms around her.

“Thats alright love, you can go spill some blood now too and we can have a lovey dovey moment later” Hermione chuckled.

“Alright, you’re on.”

 

0x0x0

Hermione, along with everyone else, could only stare open mouthed as Bellatrix destroyed every person she had been pitted against in some of the most amazing dueling ability most of them had ever seen. As the evening had progressed she had grinned smugly when Moody had conceded that perhaps it would be more fair if Bellatrix took on two or three people at the same time and she had managed to take out Molly, Lupin and Bill, followed with more difficulty by Tonks and Amelia Bones. When Tonks had finally been renervated and had shaken her aunts hand in congratulations Bellatrix had simply cackled madly at them all, her eyes wild, and twirled her wand cockily.

“Alright Bella, no need to be ungracious” Ted had said quietly and Bella had promptly nodded at him and quietened down.

“Winning with grace has never been Bella’s strong point” Andromeda had snorted and Bellatrix had shot her a wink.

“Come on then Andy, you haven’t had a turn yet. Fancy a go?”

“Not a chance, sister of mine” Andromeda replied with a laugh. “I wasn’t half bad back in the day but I’ve never managed to beat you in a duel and I don’t see the point in setting myself up for a fail now.”

“Ah come on Andy” Ted said reassuringly. “You had the same training as Bella, you might get lucky. Plus it would be a sight to see, the Black sisters in battle.”

“The last duel between those two I witnessed was as a Professor and it would certainly be nice to have it take place in a purposefully designed hall as opposed to my destroyed classroom” McGonogall offered dryly. “It certainly was a sight to behold though.”

“Come on Andy, I’ll go easy on you” Bellatrix pleaded.

“The hell you will!” Andromeda growled. “I have more dignity than that. Ah fine, you’re on. Lets put on a show, shall we?” She sighed and shrugged off her robe, waving her wand experimentally. “This bloody thing’s felt a bit funny for the past few months though.”

“Excuses, excuses” Bellatrix smirked and Andromeda narrowed her eyes as she stepped onto the platform. The two witches bowed deeply and jumped into dueling poses and after a pause magic erupted from their wands with a ferocity Hermione hadn’t seen since Dumbledore and Voldemort had dueled the night her parents had died.

As fond as Hermione was of Andromeda and was aware of her talent, she had no doubt that everyone expected Bellatrix to wipe the floor with her. Hermione watched carefully as Bellatrix concentrated more intently the longer the duel went on and flung spells through the air like machine gun fire, however Andromeda simply batted them all away and returned her own with flourish. After a few minutes, the longest duel by far against the dark haired witch, the ground shook after Andromeda gaped with surprise as Bellatrix found herself disarmed.

“What?!” Bellatrix erupted and Andromeda looked around in surprise before handing her sister back her wand.

“Huh. I wasn’t expecting to actually win” Andromeda mused. “Ah well, good fight Bella.”

“Again! Can we go again, please? I was going easy on you” Bellatrix pouted.

“I know you were at first, but I beat you fair and square! You were putting some effort in at the end dear” Andromeda offered with a grin.

“Have you been practicing in secret?” Bellatrix demanded incredulously.

“No! Oh course I haven’t. Clearly I’m simply a better duelist” Andromeda winked as Bellatrix screeched in frustration.

“Please Andy can we go again?” Bellatrix begged and Andromeda shrugged.

“Sure thing, Bella. I probably just got lucky, I haven felt my magic like that in years.”

The two took position and bowed again before Bellatrix quickly launched into a tirade of offensive spells as they danced around the platform, a look of intense concentration on their faces. Hermione watched as Bellatrx’s grew increasingly irate and sweaty as she dodged and cast before she shrieked in rage after half an hour of neither of them conceding an inch.

“Dora! Get up here and help me curse your mother!” Tonks looked at Hermione who shrugged and gave her a push and Tonks jumped up beside her aunt.

“Sorry mum” Tonks laughed.

“Traitor!” Andromeda cried playfully before pausing to wipe her brow. “Alright, lets get this over with then.”

Hermione noticed the mood of the room shifted from surprise to genuine amazement as neither of them were able to land a hit on her mother in law.

“Go Andy!” Hermione yelled and Andromeda, still looking surprised as her wand arm flew through the air as if it was a possessed entity, shot her a grin.

“Someone else, come and help us!” Bellatrix yelled in frustration and the Weasley twins grinned and made their way towards Tonks and Bellatrix and added to the steady onslaught of spells being flung her way. Andromeda had stopped casting offensive spells, simply working on defense, and as minutes passed and the duel came close to an hour in length three quarters of the occupants of Murrook were standing and flinging spells as Andromeda backed into a corner and deflected all their spells.

“What the hell is happening?” Andromeda shouted incredulously over the sounds of the spells erupting around the room. “How am I even doing this?”

“I have no idea!” Bellatrix cried. Her unhappiness at being defeated seemed to have passed on to genuine curiosity and eventually Bill Weasley stood on a chair and whistled loudly, a curious look on his face.

“Oi! Knock it off you lot. I have a theory.” The group rallied around him and he whispered something in Tonks’ ear who shot him a confused look but quickly rushed off to their villa, returning a few minutes later as everyone sipped at their drinks and attempted to cool down and avoided discussing the elephant in the room – how Andromeda Tonks had managed to duel over a dozen people to a standstill at once without there being a scratch on her. Andromeda herself looked amazed as Bella looked over her carefully and with concern etched across her face for her sister.

“Alright everyone, who here is familiar with this?” Bill asked, brandishing The Tales of Beetle the Bard, the book he had mentioned earlier this evening Hermione noted with increaasing curiosity. “I’m going to read a story in here. I know its just a fairy tale but hell – I’m a curse breaker. I’ve seen and heard whispers of things much stranger than the stuff in this book. Listen up.” He quickly recounted a story about three brothers and their attempt to avoid Death and Hermione watched as he looked at Harry, who in turn was looking at the Cloak he had willed into his fingers with shock.

“Wait, wait. You think Andy, my Andy, has the Deathstick? The Elder wand?” Ted asked in surprise. “But her wand isn’t even made of Elder wood!”

“Forget that, I haven’t dueled anyone in about a decade” Andromeda said, rolling her eyes. “It’s felt a bit...funny. But that’s only been a few months. There has to be another explanation, Bill. My last proper duel was years ago when I lost my temper with drunk Ludo Bagman trying to hit on me in front of Ted. Surely Ludo Bagman can’t have ever been in possession of the bloody Elder Wand.”

“I remember that” Ted chuckled, wiping his eyes as he laughed. “A bloody sight to behold it was, you magnificent creature.”

“Yes, and a fat lot of help you were” Andromeda scowled.

“You’ve never needed my help in your life my love” Ted grinned and Andromeda rolled her eyes again but squeezed his arm warmly. Hermione smiled at the sight before a thought struck her.

“Dumbledore!” She proclaimed.

“Eh?” Bellatrix inquired.

“Dumbledore! When you got out of Azkaban Dumbledore visited, remember? Andy disarmed him the second he walked through the front door!”

“Ooh! Interesting!” Tonks said brightly. “That makes some more sense, the Elder Wand might have, like, changed allegiance or something? That might be why Dumbledore keeps sending you little love letters trying to talk you into joining the Order.”

“I don’t know if I believe in this nonsense, lass” Moody growled. “How can we be sure?”

“Why don’t you duel Andy while she has a different wand?” Lupin offered, offering his own wand. “If that one works for you, try it? Try and duel someone without using that particular wand.” Andromeda shrugged and grabbed at it.

“It’s obliging enough, thank you Remus. Here, Bella, hold the fancy wand.”

To Hermione’s surprise and pride Bellatrix threw Andromeda’s Oak wand a concerned look and stepped back away from it.

“No! No. I wouldn’t...trust myself with it” she whispered, shaking her head and Andy’s surprised look softened.

“I’ll hold it” McGonogall said stepping forward and Andromeda placed it into her hand tentatively as McGonogall held it at arms length with a look of mild concern, as if expecting it to burst into flames.

“Alright, lets try again shall we?” Andromeda asked, nerves crossing her features as she strode back towards the dueling platform. Bellatrix nodded and appeared relieved five minutes later to have got a stunner through her sisters defenses and helped her younger sister to her feet.

“Andromeda, you’ll have to be...very careful with this” Augusta Longbottom spoke up in warning. “This would paint quite a target on your back. Power corrupts, after all.”

“Madam Longbottom is correct” Snape said quietly. “It might be an idea to have us all forget about this” he trailed off as several people nodded.

“How about a vow?” Harry offered. “One of those Unbreakable ones so we can’t speak of it to anyone. It’s safe from legilimency too isn’t it?”

“That’s safer” Hermione said softly. “It will be good for those we trust to know, I assume currently the only one who knows Andy has it here other than the people in this room is Dumbledore. It will let us keep an eye on things. He might want it back.” She placed an appealing hand on Tonks who growled.

“Does anyone else feel like they are missing something pertinent here?” Amelia Bones asked loudly as Xenophillius Lovegood nodded in agreement.

“A vow, then a talk is due I believe. If we are going to handle the Dark Lord before he takes over the Wizarding World the more help we have, the better.” McGonogall said with a sigh and lead the group towards the dining hall.

Chapter Text

Tonks fell out of bed with a yelp, hand flailing for her wand as a voice screeched at her to wake up into the darkness of her room, accidentally pulling Hermione on top of her.

“Quick! I need your help!” screeched a hysterical voice.

“Whats wrong!?” Cried Tonks as she disentangled herself from a groaning Hermione and jumped to her feet brandishing her wand.

“You have to help me get ready for my DATE” Bellatrix yelled and ducked as Hermione flung a pillow at her.

“Bella its bloody five in the morning! You can’t wake us with unearthly shrieks unless its an emergency” Hermione groaned.

“Are you for real? Your date isn’t for fourteen hours” Tonks groaned before throwing herself face down on the bed and wrapping herself around her girlfriend who hissed.

“God your bloody hands are freezing Tonks!”

“Move over! I’m feeling anxious” Bellatrix declared and unceremoniously placed herself in the middle of the bed forcing the two younger witches apart.

“Fine, but only if you go back to sleep” Tonks grumbled.

“Okay” Bellatrix agreed and climbed under the blankets and closed her one of her eyes, grinning.

“I’m going to start sleeping naked you know” yawned Hermione as she rolled onto her back.

“I don’t think it would stop her. I don’t think anything can” Tonks whispered and Hermione snorted.

“It’s true” said Bellatrix.

“Why are you feeling anxious?” Hermione asked and Bellatrix sighed before Tonks cleared her throat.

“No! No no. We are not doing this discussion until at least nine am. Go to sleep.” Tonks commanded. She growled as Bellatrix ignored her and took a deep breath, prepared to launch into an explanation and felt Hermione reach over the older witch to pat her arm consolingly.

“I haven’t been on a date since I was a Hogwarts student! I haven’t gotten laid since 70’s! What if I’ve forgotten what to do?”

“It’s like riding a bike. You’ll be fine” Tonks yawned into the pillow. “You managed to convince him to go on the date with you without too much hassle, just be yourself. You can be endearing when I’m not wanting to put you through a wall.”

“Tonks! Be nice” Hermione giggled.

“I’m always nice! It’s just early. Expect this tone until at least lunch time.”

“I – Azkaban was hard on me” Bellatrix whispered and Tonks lifted her face from the pillow to look at her aunt who was being serious for once. “I sleep better with the Mark gone but I...I have a lot of baggage myself. I wouldn’t blame him for being uninterested when he see’s it.” She lifted an arm and shoved down a sleeve to glance at the heavy scars littering her wrist from the Azkaban manacles and touched at the tattoos on her neck.

“Bella!” Hermione admonished. “Professor Lupin isn’t the sort of man to judge you for that. If ever said a bad thing about them I’d...well I’d go Bellatrix Black on him.”

“You’d go Bellatrix Black on him?” Bellatrix asked with a snort. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I’d hex him thirty years into the future. You’re beautiful Bella, you have nothing to worry about.”

“Stop flirting with me kitten, your girlfriends right there” Bellatrix stage whispered and Tonks snorted as Hermione slapped her arm.

“She’s right though, Bella. You’re a babe, Remus is a babe, you’ll have beautiful children” Tonks said with a grin.

“I can’t have children” Bellatrix said sadly. “Too much cruciatus damage from the Dark Wanker in the First War according to the doctors at Azkaban. Prophecy be damned.”

“Shit. I’m sorry Bella” Tonks whispered and squeezed her arm gently and threw an arm over the older witch. Hermione reached a hand up to stroke at Bellatrix’s hair.

“S’alright. I’ve had 14 years to come to terms with it now” Bellatrix said bravely though her voice cracked. “I’d settle for someone to love me.”

“We all love you” Hermione said softly and Tonks nodded in agreement.

“Well I need to get Remus to like me then, and I don’t even know what to wear!” she said slightly hysterically.

“Woo. Slow up there lady, hold your horses. Let’s take it one night at a time” Tonks chuckled, seeing a redirection in conversation and deciding to let it slide. “We’ll help you find something to wear but you need to relax. Once you get out to dinner I’m sure everything will come naturally we just need to get you there.”

“Can we find something now?” Bellatrix asked.

“Fourteen hours Bella. We have time. Lets try and get some sle – oh for Merlins sake fine.” Tonks sighed seeing her aunts pleading expression. “I’m going to have a quick shower, back in ten.”

Tonks returned, refreshed, a few minutes later to see Bellatrix in front of their bedroom mirror with an enormous pile of dresses on the corner of the bed and Hermione sitting in bed, hair mussed, sipping from coffee and offering another cup to her while Bellatrix explained the intricacies of her many dresses and, after several hours and three almost-nervous breakdowns, finally settled on a dress, shoes and how to wear her hair and makeup.

“You look gorgeous Bella. Merlin that was stressful” Hermione yawned. “I think I’ll cross stylist off my potential list of careers.”

“What about lingerie?” Bellatrix asked suddenly, disappearing and reappearing with the contents of her underwear drawer moments later which she tipped onto the bed. “What fancy knickers do I wear?”

“Erm...maybe not on the first date Bella. Take it slow” Tonks advised sagely and Bella nodded while Hermione used a wand to pick up a pair of crotchless panties, wide eyed.

“People wear these?” she asked incredulously.

“What? Don’t tell me Dora hasn’t modeled any fancy undergarments for you?” Bellatrix asked with a laugh. “Next you’ll tell me she’s never taken you on a date!” Tonks flushed suddenly and Bellatrix walked over and swatted at her arm. “Useless!”

“What! We’ve been busy!” Tonks cried defensively, giving Hermione an apologetic look. “I’m sorry, sweets. I’ll take you on a date. Anywhere you want to go. Perhaps we can go on a date to one of those seedy adult stores and I’ll model some of these for you. Oh! We can get a new Aerika!” she offered, waggling her eyebrows and dodging the pillow flung at her.

“Right. So no lingerie on the first date. I’ve shaved everything. What else do I need?” Bellatrix interjected suddenly, anxiety lacing her voice again.

“Everything?” Tonks grinned.

“Everything” Bella replied with a wink before paling again. “Shit I don’t even remember how to kiss! This is going to be a disaster!”

“Calm down!” Tonks said firmly. “Breathe, Bella. Lets not have a burst of accidental magic and set the drapes on fire again.”

“Maybe you just need to practice. Remind yourself that you can do it” Hermione suggested. Bella gave her a questioning look before shrugging and taking a step towards her. “No! Wait, not with me!” she yelped.

“What did you mean then?” Tonks asked laughing at her appalled expression before Bellatrix’s face just lit up in a wicked grin.

“Ooh. I just realised how to get Potter to pay attention to Red!” she said as a impish glint hit her eyes and she dashed out the door.

“I meant practice on her bloody hand or something!” Hermione said wide eyed. “You don’t think she…?”

“Uh-oh” Tonks whispered.

The two tore for the door, Hermione still pyjama clad, and nearly bowled over Fleur.

“Have you seen Ginny?” Hermione asked frantically.

“Yes, she ees at ze pool with ‘Arry and Meester Longbottom”

“Shit!” Tonks swore and took off towards the pool with Hermione and Fleur in hot pursuit only to reach the gate and freeze as Bellatrix Black appeared in a skin-tight long, red dressed and tall black stilettos. She sauntered over to the trio and winked at Harry and Neville who’s jaws dropped.

“Red, I need a favor” the dark witch said with a grin as Ginny nodded curiously.

“Um, sure Bella. What do you need?”

“Just trust me, and close your eyes” she husked. Ginny quirked an eyebrow as Hermione and Fleur arrived at the gate and froze next to Tonks as Bellatrix straddled her over the pool chair and gently brushed her lips against Ginny’s. Ginny’s eyes shot open in surprise and Bellatrix pulled her head back a few inches before giving her a smirk and a subtle nod of the head at the gobsmacked boys. Ginny grinned in understanding and wrapped a hand in Bellatrix’s hair and tugged her face back down as they kissed passionately.

“Oh my” Fleur gasped as Hermione covered her eyes with her hands and Tonks swore.

‘Cheers Red” Bellatrix grinned pulling away and offering her wink. Neville wordlessly took himself to the cold pool and jumped in while Harry remained frozen in place until he suddenly went red and adjusted his pants, placing his hands in his lap.

“Any time” Ginny said, grinning broadly.

“Thanks for the suggestion kitten, I’m feeling much more confident now” Bellatrix offered as she strolled happily past the trio at the fence looking like the cat that got the cream.

“You suggested what?” Harry croaked, suddenly staring at Hermione.

“I did not suggest that!” Hermione cried defensively.

“Look out, Molly ees coming!” hissed Fleur quietly and everyone jumped.

“You will speak of this to no one” warned Hermione menacingly as everyone nodded enthusiastically and Tonks laughed loudly as the Weasley matron arrived and they all struck nonchalant poses.

“Come on you lot, food is ready!” Molly said before looking at everyone suspiciously. “What’s going on here?”

“Nothing!” cried everyone in unison.

“Alright...well hurry along then.”

“I’ll wait here with you for a bit if you like Harry?” Ginny asked, smirking at Harry who still had his hands in his lap.

“Erm – I, uh, I think… yes” he babbled.

“Perhaps you could take her out to dinner as a thank you. For...for staying with you” said Hermione wildly.

“Um – yes. Yes, good idea Hermione. I’ll do that” Harry said with a nod before shooting a questioning look at Ginny who beamed at him.

“I’d love that. It’s a date” she said happily and Harry blushed but nodded regardless.

“Never a dull moment here is it?” Tonks said with a chuckle. “Bloody Bella. Can’t believe she made out with a fourth year!”

“Hey now, you make out with a fifth year on a regular basis and it isn’t so bad, is it?” Hermione said with a grin as she took the offered arm.

“True” Tonks snorted. “We don’t scar people for life when we do it though.”

“I don’t know, Ron seems pretty scared for life” Hermione laughed.

“Perhaps we could set ‘im up also” Fleur suggested with a grin.

“Good idea, we can put it on the to-do list” Tonks said. “Right after ‘locate and destroy horcruxes’, ‘destroy Dark Lord’, ‘do something about Dumbledore’ it will say ‘find someone to put up with Ron Weasley’”

“Love is in the air today” Hermione said with a chuckle.

0x0x0

Hermione sat through lunch and an afternoon of chatting with everyone over lunch with furrowed brows and chewed on her lip as she tried to ignore the biting feeling at the back of her mind that she was missing something. She started as Tonks came and squeezed her shoulder.

“You alright sweets?” Tonks asked, tucking a stray section of hair behind her ear and looking at her with concern.

“Whats wrong kitten?” interjected Bella from beside her with a worried note to her voice.

Hermione observed everyone within earshot look at her with varying degrees of concern and raised her hand. “Relax, everyone, I’m just thinking. Nothing’s wrong.” She rolled her eyes but smiled as they all visibly relaxed. It was hard to be irritated knowing so many people cared about you. “It’s nothing important I just feel like something we talked about earlier should mean something. It’s like its at the tip of my tongue” she said in frustration.

“What were we talking about?” Tonks said. “I was too tired to register anything.”

“Well we talked about my date” Bella mused. “We talked about my outfit. We talked about how I had...baggage. We talked about how Remus was a lovely man, we talked about practicing kissing...” Bellatrix trailed off, listing things on her fingers.

“The baggage. What we we say about that?” Hermione asked suddenly. “Children! You cant have children. You mentioned a Prophecy. I’m sorry to ask if it’s a bit sensitive but what did you mean by that?”

“A Prophecy? There was a Prophecy made when I was born. Nonsense, as most divination is. Apparently I’m meant to be having a son called Paul or Benjamin or John or something. Given that my uterus has gone and shriveled up and died that seems unlikely” she said with a hint of bitterness to her voice. “But I knew it was rubbish for years before I even met the Dark Lord. I am a Black. If I ever had a children I would carry on the family tradition of naming them after constellations. Bob Black, honestly. Can you imagine?”

“How did you know about the Prophecy?” Hermione asked in interest, feeling like she was getting closer to relieving that itch in her mind.

“Seers make a prophecy and they are recorded at the Ministry of Magic. It’s not uncommon for some Pure-Blooded families to inquire if a Prophecy has been made when their children are conceived or born. Bragging rights if greatness is predicted and complete denial it its anything but that, of course.”

“Greyback!” Hermione said suddenly. “Greyback. The night my parents...when we were in Oxford. He said he was going to keep me hostage until Harry gave him the Prophecy. Oh stop looking so menacing you gits he’s not here, is he?” she said as Tonks and Bellatrix’s expressions had darkened. Apparently the groups interest had been piqued and she spoke up to reiterate what she had been discussing.

“Voldemort must want this prophecy about Harry that was overheard” Hermione said, giving a careful nod to Snape who had blanched and nodded.

“Where are the Prophecies kept?” Harry asked.

“In the Department of Mysteries, the Hall of Prophecies” Bellatrix said, looking perplexed. “Its common knowledge, isn’t it?”

“I’ve worked in the Ministry for years and I’ve never even heard of it” Tonks said in confusion.

“I can clear that up, the Department has become a lot more, well, mysterious over the years. People were taking prophecies as solid fact and it was causing problems because half of them are utter rubbish, plus with the nature of their experiments they no longer publicise the fact that the prophecies even exist because they don't like people down there” Amelia interjected.

“D’you think that’s why Dumbledore had the Order guarding the Department of Mysteries then?” Tonks asked in surprise.

“It seems likely, in case Voldemort tried to get his hands on it sneakily. It’s not like he can just show up in the Department and ask for it now, can he?” Sirius asked.

“Can Harry?” Ron asked.

0x0x0

“Erm, hello. My name is Harry Potter and I’d like to see if there is a Prophecy about me?” Harry asked the cloaked and hooded Unspeakable in the Department of Ministry as he stood next to Hermione, Tonks, Bellatrix, Sirius and Amelia Bones. The air in the room was thick with tension as the Unspeakable stood silently watching him or a moment before, to Hermione’s surprise, shrugging.

“Sure thing. Follow me, please.” Sirius, Amelia and Hermione trailed after Hermione while Bellatrix and Tonks guarded the entry in case trouble arrived and the Unspeakable lead them into a dark room littered with massive shelves containing glowing balls. “You’re in this row here, Mr Potter. Be aware that Prophecies are quite fickle in nature and neither guaranteed nor logical in any sense. The people the Prophecy regards are the only ones who can remove them from the shelves so please be careful not to touch any others. Tap it with your wand and replace it when you’re done. I’ll wait by the door.”

“Thank you, you’ve been very helpful” Sirius murmured. “Look, Harry. S.P.T. to A.P.W.B.D – Dark Lord and (?) Harry Potter. That’s you” he said quietly. Hermione and Harry shared a glance before he carefully picked it up and tapped it and the etheral voice of Professor Trelawney erupted. “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies”.

“Are you joking?” Hermione demanded furiously. “THAT is why the Dark Lord has it in for you? It’s already been fulfilled. You vanquished him. The power he knew not was your mothers love ritual. You got marked with a scar and you had a part of his soul in you. If he hadn’t acted against you in the first place the first War wouldn’t have ended, he’d have already taken over. I bloody hate divination.”

“What are we meant to do with it? Voldemort wants it?” Harry asked as he gazed into the glass ball as smoke swirled within it. Hermione and Sirius glanced at each other and Sirius grinned when Hermione gave him a nod and he elbowed Harry sharply in the ribs. Harry fumbled his grip and the Prophecy dropped to the floor, shattering. Amelia sighed loudly.

“What have you done?” Snapped the Unspeakable as he strode over from the doorway.

“Oops!” said Sirius with a grin. Hermione was certain if she could see the Unspeakable s eyes he would be rolling them.

“Alright, you can all leave now” he grumbled and escorted them out.

0x0x0

“I really, really hate Divination” Hermione muttered as Bellatrix pated her consolingly on the back.

“Me too kitten.”

“We can use this to our advantage though” Tonks sighed, running a hand through her hair. “Voldemort must guess from the part he knows of the Prophecy that he Harry and he are destined to a fight to the end. He probably thinks Harry is the only one who can finish him. There will be a way to twist it to our tactical advantage.” Moody nodded at her approvingly.

“Dora is right” Ted murmured as they sat around the tables back at Murrook. “It’s easy to seem disheartened but we have an allegedly unbeatable wand and we know about the Horcruxes. We have the locket and the cup. Harry’s fixed, the diary is gone. Snape thinks Dumbledore thinks that there is a ring, a snake and something else of Ravenclaws, maybe. We just need to work out how to destroy the ones we have and track down the others. It isn’t a completely lost cause.”

“We could try and track down the Sword of Gyrffindor” Bill suggested. “It takes in the quality of what it encounters to improve its strength. It would be imbued with Basilisk venom.”

“Well we could go and get a fang if someone hadn’t murdered Harry” said Andromeda raising an eyebrow at Bellatrix who had the sense to look ashamed.

“Fiendfyre?” suggested Lupin. “Cursed fire. That might do it.”

“Can anyone here control it safely?” Asked Ted. “I don’t fancy having another home burnt down.”

“Oh please Ted” grinned Bellatrix. “Fiendfyre is one of my specialties.”

“Like being a pain in my arse” offered Tonks with smirk.

“Exactly” chuckled Bella.

0x0x0

Twenty minutes later Bill, Bella and Sirius returned from a deserted moor with the charred remains of a locket and a cup.

“I didn’t like that” whispered Bellatrix looking shaken. “It spoke to me.”

“Everything it said, its rubbish Bella” Sirius said firmly.”It’s the Dark Tosser’s soul in bits of historical crap, it was trying to defend itself by pulling at your insecurities.”

“What did it say?” Hermione asked in concern and took Bellatrix’s shaking hand in both of her own as the older witches eyes filled with tears.

“Nothing. I might go lie down. Perhaps we could take a rain check Remus” Bellatrix whispered and stood up, walking away. Hermione watched her shoulders start to shake and heard a sniffle and glanced at Professor Lupin.

“Well go on then” said Tonks, having seen her aunts shaken demeanor. “After her.”

“After her?” Lupin asked hoarsely. “What do you mean?”

“I mean she’s feeling miserable and unlovable and it doesn’t take much to see she’s feeling insecure about anyone seeing her as worthy of affection. She’s been up since 5am stressing about how tonight is meant to go on the big date, and if anyone should know how she feels about feeling ‘unworthy of love’ it would be you. Off you go. Time to contribute to the war effort” she said with a small grin.

“Me? She’s worried about me not...finding her worthy of love?” he asked in surprise.

“She thinks she is damaged goods Moony. Go prove her wrong” said Sirius wisely. Lupin continued to stare gobsmaked around the table.

“She deserves to be happy, she’s done so much for us” said Harry firmly.

“Don’t make me curse you, hurry along now” said Andromeda, tapping her fingers on the table impatiently. “If I have to go instead of you...well I do have an unbeatable wand apparently.”

“Give her some chocolate” Bill suggested as the food-mad Weasley’s nodded enthusiastically.

“She likes ‘er tea white with seven and a half sugars!” offered Fleur and Andromeda glared around the table.

“You aren’t all letting her put that much sugar in her tea are you? No wonder she doesn’t sleep.” Everyone looked at her guiltily and Andromeda sighed.

“She has some lovely lingerie” Tonks offered and grinned as Remus stood up and flushed.

“Shes an excellent kisser!” Ginny said excitedly before flinching from the looks the adults at the table gave her. Hermione, Fleur, Harry and Tonks met each others eyes and looked away from each other. “So I hear...” Ginny whispered.

“Erm, alright. I’ll go and speak to her now” Lupin said and quickly jogged towards her villa.

“Professor Lupin!” cried Hermione and he paused.

“Its Remus, please Hermione.”

“Remus then, just one more thing you should know” Hermione said firmly as he raised an eyebrow in question. “If you break her fragile heart I’ll kill you slowly.” He raised the other eyebrow in surprise and Tonks placed a hand on her shoulder.

“And I’ll help her hide the body. Don’t fuck it up” Tonks warned.

“God this place is a homicide investigation waiting to happen” muttered Amelia and Molly patted her arm consolingly.

0x0x0

Tonks eyed Hermione re-reading her completed homework for what had to be the 17th time that evening as everyone around them peeped through the dining hall window, arguing over the omnioculars, trying to wait for a sign that Bellatrix and Remus were finishing up their chat/date. Hermione yawned and, catching Tonks looking at her, gave her a cheerful smile.

“How do you think they’re going in there?” asked Hermione quietly, guesturing at villa sixty nine as they stood up and made their way to their own villa.

“I think if it had gone terribly they wouldn’t have been in there for 6 hours” Tonks laughed. “You ready for bed? Back to Hogwarts tomorrow, big day” she said sadly.

“I know” Hermione sighed. “I can’t help but feel like things are about to go to hell. The Death Eaters are getting worse. I hate the idea of being away from here, away from you.”

“I feel it too” Tonks muttered, pulling Hermione beside her and resting a head on her shoulder. “We’ll get through it though. Its Hogsmeade in a few weeks.”

“I suppose we best make the most of the time we have” Hermione murmured and turned her head to nip at Tonks’ neck.

“Of course. Though we don’t have to if you don’t want to love, I’d understand if you were not at all in the mood. It’s been an awful time” Tonks said earnestly looking into her witches eyes.

“No please, it makes me feel better. Honestly, all that rubbish rolling around my head just goes out the window. It’s a lovely temporary reprieve” Hermione replied firmly.

“I suppose you’re right, though you usually are” Tonks smiled back and pressed her lips against Hermione’s tugging her close and disapparating to the bathroom.

“We probably could have walked that” Hermione chuckled as she regained her footing.

“Ah, but why waste time?” Tonks replied with a grin and flicked her fingers, wandlessly and wordlessly divesting them of their clothes and turning the taps on in the shower.

“Very efficient indeed love” Hermione smirked, looking her up and down. “Have I ever told you that competence is quite the turn on for me?”

“Is that so? What else do I do that turns you on?” Tonks said back huskily, taking the younger witches hand and dragging her into the shower where she turned her, pushing her front into the tiles and grinning as she hissed from the cold. She crouched down and slowly licked a long stroke straight up her spine before biting down on her neck.

“Fu-u-ck...that’ll do it too” Hermione gasped out at feeling of Tonks’ teeth on her skin.

“Tell me more” Tonks demanded suddenly and pulled her witch away from the tiles and spun her around, her back against the glass. She began kissing a slow trail, alternating between wet kisses and teasing, soft nibbles as she made her way down Hermione’s torso.

“Please” Hermione pleaded and whimpered as sharp teeth marked her thigh.

“That turns you on?” Tonks asked, pulling away briefly and giving Hermione a smirk.

“Oh God yes. That turns me on. You turn me on when you bite me” Hermione moaned, head back against the wall. “Please don’t stop.”

“What else turns you on, Hermione? Tell me what you want” Tonks murmured seductively planting another teasing kiss to her other thigh, running small circles over her skin with her mouth and fingers.

“Fuck. Oh fuck. It turns me on when you lick my clit” the younger witch grit out and clenched her teeth as she was rewarded with a broad stroke between her thighs with Tonks’ surely unnatural tongue as she shifted Hermione’s knee over her shoulder from her knelt position on the floor. “More, please” she cried, clenching her hands in Tonks’ hair when she continued to lick and suck at her clit. Tonks grinned as she felt the muscles in her legs and stomach tighten in arousal.

“God you’re so wet love” Tonks purred and stood, slipping a hand between her thighs. “I’m going to touch myself when I think about this later, when you’re gone. Are you going to touch yourself?” she breathed as she slipped a finger inside her and gently brushed her thumb against Hermione’s clit again who twitched and groaned appreciatively.

“Yes. Oh fucking hell” Hermione swore and jerked her leg involuntarily when a second finger slipped in and slowly began to pump and she moaned “Oh fuck. Please, fuck me harder baby.”

“Like this?” Tonks slid her fingers in and curled them inside her more roughly and stood to bite at Hermione’s neck again, pulling her leg in between her own to rub against her dripping core.

“Oh, god yes, just like that. Faster, please.” Hermione moaned and pulled her in for a kiss and panted as she felt Tonks move against her thigh, was rewarded with the fingers inside her moving faster, harder.

“Oh God. You turn me on when you beg” Tonks grit out, feeling herself tense as her climax drew closer and slammed her fingers into Hermione, feeling muscles begin to clamp down around her hand and threw her head back as she felt Hermione’s hands claw at her breasts and rub against her sex.

“I’m gonna – oh fuck” Hermione pressed her forehead into Tonks neck as she came and the two sunk to the floor of the shower, drenched and heaving.

“How was that for competent?” Tonks said with a breathy laugh.

“Five stars, ten out of ten” Hermione said with a tired grin as she opened her eyes. “Outstanding, even.”

“You weren’t so bad yourself Miss Granger” Tonks replied contentedly with a giggle, pulling the other witch’s back against her chest as the continued to sit on the floor. “I’d say you easily earned an Acceptable. Exceeds Expectations, even.” She placed a kiss to the bite mark on Hermione’s neck as Hermione swatted her leg.

“Exceeds Expectations? Might as well be a Troll. You know I’m a straight O student” Hermione laughed.

“We’ll have to work on your technique again before you go tomorrow” Tonks replied. “There’s always room for improvement.”

“You are such a bloody incorrigible prat” Hermione snorted.

“I know. I’m so lucky you love me” Tonks laughed and clambered to her feet, after finishing the shower and dried off, chucking on a shirt and panties before opening the door to the bedroom. She laughed softly at the sight before her.

“Sweets, we’ve a guest in our bed again. Don't jump in naked now” she warned.

“Nothing I haven’t seen before. You think you’d have the decency to cast a silencing charm though” Bellatrix mumbled sleepily from the bed. “Sounds like you both did an Outstanding job to me, it kept me awake.”

“There’s a silencing charm on the whole villa Bella” Hermione said, flushed as she climbed into the bed beside Tonks, rolling her eyes as Bellatrix gleefully rolled over the top of her and spat out black curls as Bellatrix placed herself in the middle of the two of them. “You just have no concept of personal space.”

“That’s fair” Bellatrix yawned sleepily..

“So...how was your date?” Tonks asked and smiled as Bellatrix launched into a detailed description of how even though they hadn’t ended up going out for dinner they had eaten in her villa and stayed up talking half the night talking.

“Did you a kiss goodnight?” Hermione asked and Bellatrix grinned widely as she turned out the lights.

“Yes, quite a decent snog too. On my face though, not where my randy niece kisses you” she laughed as both witches swatted her.

“What are you doing in here anyway?” Tonks yawned sleepily.

“I’ll miss kitten when she goes back to school tomorrow. And destroying those horcruxes will give me bad dreams. I didn’t want to go and wake Andy up if I have any, I think her and Amelia and McGonogall have fallen asleep under my window trying to eavesdrop on my date.”

“Fair enough. You can stay. I’m too tired to care” Hermione said sleepily. “You don’t snore do you?”

“How dare you accuse me, Bellatrix Black, of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black, of snoring?” Bellatrix asked incredulously. “I’m deeply offended!”

“Alright, settle down” Tonks laughed. “Shut up now, it’s bed time. Love you both. In different ways, obviously.”

“Same. Night Tonks, night Bella.”

“Night Dora, kitten. Love you both too.”

0x0x0

Hermione sighed as she rested her head against the window of the Hogwarts Express as it pulled out of the station and smiled weakly at Ginny who had thrown her legs up in her friends lap. She felt nervous and tightly wound leaving Murrook.

“This is rubbish isn’t it? Feels so bloody stupid heading off to do schoolwork when there is a war going on.”

“Absolutely. Not that I can think of much we could be doing at the moment other than looking for the...receptacles” Hermione said quietly. “Where are the boys?”

“Off looking for Malfoy to spy on him. Probably getting hexed” Ginny said with a yawn. “God they have been the biggest pains in the arse since they got that cloak of his worked out and Bella showed them all ‘how to move silently like a panther in the night’. They keep appearing as if from nowhere and scaring the absolute shite out of me.”

“Have they? They haven’t done that to me” Hermione asked in surprise.

“Oh, they did. Once. Apparently you were in the kitchen eating Tonks out on the counter. Scared them both for life” Ginny offered in a bored tone and Hermione choked on the sip of coffee she had taken from her thermos and stared at her in horror.

“Oh Merlin. That’d explain why neither of them looked me in the eye for three days.”

“Yep.”

“Oh I wish you didn’t tell me that.”

“And I wish they didn’t appear as if from nowhere immediately afterwards and make me spill my plate of food all over myself in fright and tell me that. But here we are.”

“Oh that’s even worse than Bella appearing at strange moments all the time. Though I’ve grown weirdly used to that” Hermione mused.

“Well get used to the boys too, they’ll no doubt be guarding you with their lives again. Draco will be considered the biggest manageable threat now. Frankly I’ll be pleased to have them doing their stupid practice on someone else.”

“Still? But Umbridge is gone! I couldn't even use the loo in peace without them loitering about looking like stalkers making the first years want to wet themselves with fright.”

“Still. They take their Guarding Hermione duty very seriously. It gives them something to do. And it stops them from irritating me. Get used to it love.”

Hermione groaned.

“Oh hello Hermione, hello Ginevra” came a quiet voice from the doorway as Luna walked in.

“Good morning Luna, take a seat if you like” Hermione said with a smile.

“Thank you Hermione. Are you aware Ronald and Harry are wandering the carriages under the invisibility cloak whispering about silent panthers? It seems a bit worrying.”

Coming from Luna who, Hermione mused, was wearing radishes as earings and reading an upside down issue of the Quibbler, this was worrying indeed.

“Do you think we should try to find them?” she asked in concern.

“Nah, let them go. The more they stalk Malfoy the less they will stalk you” Ginny replied. Hermione begrudgingly agreed with a nod.

“How are things going with Nymhadora?” Luna asked serenely and Hermione couldn’t help but smile, glad for a distraction from the present and future shenanigans of her boys.

“Things are going well Luna, thank you. Shut it Gin” she muttered at Ginny who had snorted in the corner.

“Why don’t you ask Hermione what the boys busted her and Tonks doing in the kitchen the other day?”

“I’ve always been very curious about Metamorphmagi” Luna said suddenly. “Tell me Hermione, can Nymphadora produce a fully functional penis?”

Hermione gaped at her while Ginny cackled in the corner.

“Oh my god Luna I never even thought of that! It must be unreal in the sack with Tonks. She could probably make her fingers or her tongue or whatever be whatever you want!”

“Oh my god. We are not discussing this” Hermione spluttered.

“Why not? Its only a simple scientific curiosity” Luna said reassuringly.

“For you maybe!” Hermione replied while Ginny sat in the corner with her eyes alight with possibility.

“Do you think she could make a dick that would be able to knock you up? Like could she get you pregnant? Could she be pregnant? She wouldn’t be able to morph in case it got rid of the sprog!”

“Can we not?” Hermione snapped.

“I’m sorry Hermione, we don’t have to talk about it if it’s upsetting you I’m just curious” Ginny said reassuringly.

“I’ve never even thought to ask!” Hermione said after a few moments of silence. “Should I? I mean the thoughts never even crossed my mind. I’ve always been perfectly satisfied with just Tonks however she is at that time” she suddenly wondering in concern if perhaps Tonks thought she was boring in the bedroom for not asking for any of these things. She got up and began to pace.

Ginny and Luna shared a look for bringing up the topic that clearly red 'abort'.

“Hermione, I’m sure if you just talk to Tonks you can clear this up” Ginny said carefully. “She clearly adores you.”

“I can’t believe I never even thought of these things!” Hermione asked as she continued to wear a whole in the carpet of the carriage. “God I’m a terrible girlfriend!”

“Ginny have you noticed that Hermione’s hair takes on a life of its own when she is concerned about things?” Luna asked in amazement. “It really is quite special isn’t it?”

“Oh my god what if she wants to try these things but she’s worried that I’d be upset? What if I asked her to change and she did get upset because she thinks I want something different! What do I do?”

“Hermione, love, why don’t you come and sit down. It’s normal to be a bit distracted about these things, there is a war going on after all” Ginny said reassuringly and patted the seat next to her.

“That’s no excuse! I don’t even know if my girlfriend can have a penis! How do you even ask that?! I know this is the 90’s and things are fairly progressive but this is just ins – argh!”

The girls all yelped as a sound came from the corner of the compartment and flung jinxes on reflex only for Harry and Ron to slump to the ground groaning as the cloak slid off their faces.

“WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!” Hermione screeched.

“Ouch” Ron moaned before looking up and catching sight of Hermione who looked on the verge of hysteria and wincing visibly.

“We’re sorry Hermione” Harry said quickly. “Very sorry. It was very wrong of us to do that. Very wrong. We wont ever do it ever again. Never ever.”

Hermione took several long breaths through her nose and exhaled slowly the way she and Bella had practiced when they got carried away debating things before helping the boys to their feet and dispelling the hexes shooting them a deathly glare.

“If you do that to me again I won’t be healing you, you rotters. I’m stressed enough as it is!” They nodded hurriedly.

“We’ll be more careful” Ron hurried to assure her.

“You wont do it at all!” Hermione hissed in warning.

“But Tonks said - “

“No! Not. At. All. It’s our OWL year. You will focus on exams not stalking me under the guise of protection. Dumbledore is easy to avoid. Umbridge is gone. Draco Malfoy is no threat to me.”

Harry and Ron threw each other a look that Hermione was well aware guaranteed they were simply placating her and had no intention of abandoning their duties but nodded at her afterwards regardless.

“Hermione is having a bit of an...anxious moment...about her relationship with Tonks. You can stay and help discuss it with her if you like?” Ginny asked sweetly as both boys visibly recoiled.

“Ah, no, that’s fine ladies. Girl talk. We will leave you to it then. No business of ours, right Harry?” Ron said gruffly and Harry quickly nodded.

“Yeah. We’ll go keep an eye on Malf – I mean go chat. To Neville. See you later!” Harry said as they rushed from the compartment.

“Well at least we know one way to keep them from bothering you” Ginny said with a laugh and Hermione giggled. “Now come and bloody sit down and stop fretting. You can talk to Tonks about this later. She’ll find the whole thing amusing, no doubt. You’ve got nothing to worry about. Whats the latest in the world of the Quibbler, Luna?”

0x0x0

“Good thinking getting us out of there Ron” Harry said as he pushed his glasses back on his nose and clapped his friend on the back.

“Did you hear what they were talking about?” Ron asked, ashen. “If Tonks could, you know...” he gestured wildly at his crotch.

“Stop, I don’t want to think about either of them doing...that. Ever again” Harry said firmly, wincing at the memory of him and Ron sneaking into their villa a week earlier and seeing Tonks writhing on the counter with a girl he considered a sister’s face between her legs. They had walked in preparing for a laugh only to freeze in the entry way and silently back out the door without saying a word. “Never ever.”

“Never ever” Ron said as he gulped. “I won’t be able to look at her for another week now.”

“I know, mate. Me too” Harry said as they stood in silence.

“Will we go check on Malfoy again? I till think he’s up to something. Bella and Tonks will have our heads if anything happens to ‘Mione. We need to protect her. We just need to be more sneaky.”

“Like silent panthers in the night” Harry nodded solemnly as he reached for his cloak and threw it over them both and they crept down the corridor.

0x0x0

Tonks sighed as she flopped face first onto the bed. It seemed like every time Hermione left it got harder and harder. She had always prided herself on not being an enormous sap but since she met Hermione it was like all that went to shit.

“I never picked you for such an enormous sap” came a voice from above her before Bellatrix threw herself onto the bed next to Tonks.

“Me neither” Tonks snorted. “Its absolutely ridiculous isn't it? I just can’t help worrying about her.”

“I’ve trained the boys up well. They aren’t very good at being stealthy but they are slowly improving.”

“Ah. Does this have anything to do with why Molly keeps complaining about silent lions or some such nonsense?”

“They needed a motto to work with. Constance vigilance was already taken” Bella said with a chuckle.

“So are they like quiet tigers now?”

“Moving like silent panthers in the night? Not really. More like slightly inept kittens who haven't gained their full capabilities but they are as loyal as dogs I’ll give them that” she smiled.

“They’re good boys. I have asked them to give her more space now Umbridge is gone but I doubt they will listen. They take their duty very seriously. I have every faith in them” Tonks said loyally while Bella muttered something under her breath about ‘bloody puffs’ and dodged a swat. “How’s things with Remus?”

“Good. Date number three tonight” Bella smirked while Tonks whistled.

“Oooh. You know what they say about third dates” she laughed. “Hope you shaved your legs!”

“It’s nice to feel desired, I must say Dora. He truly is a lovely man. Not something I ever thought I’d find appealing but here we are.”

“Who’s the enormous sap now?” Tonks said with a laugh.

“I know. I’m so very lucky. Its easy to forget. If it wasn’t for you and kitten I’d still be shivering in Azkaban waiting for the Dark Lord to come and force me into servitude.”

“We’d never have let that happen. We’d have found a way to save you” came another voice from the doorway as Andromeda appeared. “I thought I’d swing by to make sure there wasn’t too much moping. Clearly I’m just in time.”

“Hi mum” Tonks grinned and patted a spot on the bed next to her.

“We used to do this whenever you came to visit when Dora was tiny Bella, do you remember?”

“It’s how I cast my Patronus” Bellatrix said quietly as Tonks squeezed her hand.

“It’s your turn for some happiness now Bella darling. You truly deserve it. It’s been trying times lately, I’m still devastated about the house but I wouldn’t change a thing if it meant having you here” Andromeda said sincerely.

“Such a sap” said Tonks and Bellatrix in unison while Andromeda huffed in mock irritation.

“Well then, if I’m going to be insulted I won’t be telling you about the coffee I left you both in the kitchen” she said with a laugh as the both dashed from the bed.

“You’re so good to us mum!”

Chapter Text

Hermione caught Ginny’s eye and grimaced as they stepped out of the bathroom only to hear a quiet shuffling of feet, knowing the boys were tracking her to the library and closed her eyes while she counted to ten. Ginny gave her a knowing look and squeezed her hand mouthing ‘silent panthers’ and rolling her eyes. Hermione’s eye twitched. She had been in particularly volatile moods since leaving Murrook and was drying her damnedest not to lose her temper at her boys, as opposed to the unfortunate rule breakers she had been encountering on her prefect rounds whom she had reduced to tears on more than one occasion, but it was an ongoing battle..

“What I wouldn’t give to be able to apparate in this school” she muttered quietly while Ginny nodded.

“It’s been five weeks, you must be looking forward to seeing Tonks tomorrow” Ginny said and shot Hermione a wink.

Hermione was initially firmly against being a kiss-and-tell sort of girl but after discussing the matter with Tonks through the diary - who had found the situation highly amusing and didn’t give a damn if Hermione discussed it either way - thought making them uncomfortable through Hermione discussing their sex life was a brilliant prank. Ginny just enjoyed the dirty talk being the depraved creature that she was, particularly given Hermione’s thorough employment of her vast vocabulary.

“Oh Gin, you have no idea. She’s been sending me all these messages in the diary and I’ve had to change my knickers about every three hours, I swear” Hermione said and paused to listen, reflecting that perhaps her girlfriend wasn’t the best influence on her behaviour but decided she didn’t have it in her to care very much. Hearing nothing, she continued. “Did I tell you about that dream I had?”

“No, please, do go on” Ginny smirked.

“In this dream I was at Murrook and woke up alone. I looked around and Tonks just wasn’t there. I searched the Villa and couldn’t find her and I just had this feeling that something was off. So I started looking around outside. I searched the hall and Bella’s villa and the pool with no sign of her until I saw a door into a room I’d never been into before and I heard Tonks...moaning. The exact sort of moan she makes right before she...you know” she said conspiratorially, pausing to fight back a laugh after hearing a stumble from behind them .

“Then what happened?” Ginny asked eagerly, as if they hadn’t reheared the whole conversation two minutes earlier in the loos.

“Well I stepped into the room and there was just this huge big bed and Tonks was there and she was completely naked, covered in a thin sheen of sweat. I looked between her legs and Fleur was there, doing...well I’m sure you can guess what. I thought I’d be angry but instead...I was just incredibly aroused.”

Ginny snorted a little as they listened carefully hearing muffled heavy breathing. She realised it wouldn’t do any good to have the boys enjoying the conversation so smiled widely as she prepared to whip out the big guns.

“Tonks and Fleur pulled me over and started kissing me and the sensory overload was just intense and I closed my eyes. I could feel all these hands all over me, my breasts, tearing off my pants... then I realised there were six hands not four so I opened them again and Gin, I hope you don’t mind this but..you were there as well!”

A horrified sqwak was quickly heard behind them and they erupted into quiet laughter seeing the cloak flap over two sets of feet as the boys frantically escaped the hallway. Ginny wiped tears of laughter from her eyes.

“Bloody classic Hermione. Absolutely outstanding! Love your work” Ginny finally got out.

“I feel a bit bad but I do keep telling them to give me a bit of space and they just don’t listen. Nothing else is working” she sighed.

“Ah don’t feel bad love. It’s all harmless fun. You’ve brought yourself another tiny slice of peace at least. A Maurader level prank. Sirius will be so proud.”

“He will won’t he. Ah well, I have study to do, library?”

“Library. Luna should be there. How long do you reckon the boys will stay away for?”

“About ten minutes probably. At least two days before they can make eye contact with either of us.”

“Sounds about right.”

“Going to rip them new arseholes?”

“Of course.”

Hermione slowly trekked into the library where she set about spreading all her work across one of the large tables and re-organising it, pondering whether to set about completing the work in order of due date or length of parchment required. Finding the work repetitive and soothing she eventually found herself planning her reprimand for the boys in her mind. She made a start on Ancient Runes and was halfway through her essay before Harry and Ron appeared.

“Hi boys” she said brightly.

“Hi Hermione” Harry said, pink-cheeked. Ron looked guiltily at his feet and waved.

“Interesting day?” Ginny asked and fought gallantly to hide her smirk as the boys met each others eyes and shrugged.

“I had an interesting day” Hermione said breezily. “I asked two of my dearest friends to stop following me under their stupid invisibility cloak about 17 times before breakfast and when they ignored me I invented a lurid sexual dream to make them so uncomfortable they left me alone for ten seconds.”

Harry and Ron stared at her incredulously.

“They seem to think they are moving like silent panthers in the night, but in reality I know every single time they are there and if anything, trying to work out where they are so I don't trip over them accidentally or hex them with fright when they walk into something and make a noise or someone walks into them because they are invisible in a crowded corridor means that I am less alert to actual other threats. For the ten millionth time. Stop. Please” she grit out.

“We’re just trying to protect you, Hermione” Harry said reasonably.

“No, you are just looking for something to do! You should be studying for your OWLs or looking for the you-know-whats! Not following me around all day! I am not some bloody Mary-Sue character that needs protection! I threw a knife in Lucius Malfoy's eye! I set Fenrir Greyback on fire. I helped break Bellatrix Lestrange out of Azkaban. This in the past six months alone. I can protect myself! If you want to be around me stop trying to be invisible!”

“It’s just...its more fun when we are invisible” Ron said before looking as though he regretted it immediately when Hermione’s eyes narrowed.

“I swear to Merlin Ronald Weasley if you try to follow me when I see Tonks tomorrow I will shag the living daylights out of her in front of you if you do. Don’t think that I wont!” she hissed. Harry looked at her in muted horror.

“We wont!”

“You keep saying that and then you do! I’m stressed enough without worrying you two are going to be arrested for being window-lickers or something!”

“We’ll stop. We promise. Just please don't talk about or do any...shagging things in front of us. You’re like my sister, Hermione” Harry said beseechingly.

“Do I have to make you do an Unbreakable Vow?” Hermione asked firmly. “Because if this happens again that’s whats going to happen!”

“No! No. We’ll stop now.”

“Good. Now get your books out its only a few months until your OWLs and you’ve done no study at all.”

The boys dutifully emptied out their bags and set to work and after a few minutes of letting them sweat it out approached again.

“Harry, Ron, you know I absolutely love you both and would follow you to hell and back but you are going to stop now aren’t you? Because even though its a lovely gesture this is really putting a strain on my friendship. And sanity.”

“We’ll stop Hermione. Honestly.”

“So you wont stalk me any more and follow me to the loos. I’ll be able to go places without creepy invisible bodyguards?”

“Yes”

“And you won’t compensate by stalking Malfoy even more?”

“We won’t do that either.”

“Good.”

“Though Malfoy does seem very off” Harry said. Hermione resisted the urge to bang her head into the desk.

“You don’t need to worry about that. You have spoken to McGonogall and Snape. You have Dobby watching him.”

“But he just seems different...darker.”

“I know. I too, have eyes. But we can work this out from a distance and leave the monitoring to others. You need to study. We need to find if and where a you-know-what may be. Don’t you?”

“Yeah I suppose.”

“And you know that I know when you aren’t keeping your word, don’t you both?”

“...yes.”

“Good. Now who needs help with homework?”

0x0x0

“Stop tapping Dora, you’re making me anxious” Bella said from beside Tonks as they sat in the Three Broomsticks waiting for the students to arrive.

“Sorry. I’m just nervous” Tonks sighed noting Bellatrix’s surprisingly volatile mood.

“You shouldn’t be. You’ve been dating the girl for months and months. She will love the date. You’ve nothing to worry about.”

“I know but she’s been stressed out, I can tell. And Voldemort has been so quiet. Something's up. I can’t shake the feeling.”

“I know I feel it too. But that’s why we have everyone from Murrook and half the Aurors here in Hogsmeade today so the students can relax. Remus will be here in a moment, he’s waiting at the gates. McGonogall asked to speak to him, I think she wants him to teach again. The assorted substitutes they’ve been having teach Defense aren't up to scratch, he thinks.”

“Oh. How do you feel about that?” Tonks asked carefully, noting her aunts guarded expression.

“I told him to do it if he wants, he loved teaching. Talks about it all the time. I know he’d love a chance to be closer to Harry.”

“But what do you want?” Tonks asked quietly.

“I...don’t want him to leave. It’s only been a short while of us being together” she sighed. “But I haven’t said that, god his life’s been almost as miserable as mine. He should do what makes him happy.”

“I think you make him pretty happy. I’ve never seen him so loved up and cheerful. It’s a bit sickening really” Tonks said and grinned widely seeing said man walk past the Three Broomsticks and, seeing Bellatrix sitting inside, beamed at her.

“Oh God he must have been offered the job” Bellatrix groaned quietly before schooling her features into a smile as he walked in and sat next to her, taking her hand in his.

“What did McGonogall want?” Tonks asked, not being able to stand not knowing. Patience never was her strongest point. She winced as Bellatrix kicked her under the table.

“Nothing Tonks. The students should be here soon, are you excited?”

“Oh you have no idea” she said happily. “Shitting myself with nerves but I can’t wait.”

“Listen, if it’s alright when everyone gets here I’d like everyone to stick around for a few minutes. I’ve an announcement to make” he said happily before shooting a nervous look at Bellatrix. Bella smiled and lifted his hand to her lips and kissed it gently.

“If it’s what I think it is, Wolfie, I’m extraordinarily happy for you” she said with a grin that didn’t quite meet her eyes.

“We’ll soon find out” he said and tucked a curl behind her ear. Tonks cheerfully pretended to vomit.

“Oh shut it Dora like you’ll be any better in ten minutes” Bellatrix laughed.

As it happened, ten minutes was an overestimation as a crowd of students walked through the gates into Hogsmeade while Tonks stretched over people to look for her beloved. Finally finally catching sight of her girl she beamed happily and waved her and the crew over. Hermione placed a chaste kiss on her cheek for the sake of the crowd and squeezed her hand.

“God I’ve missed you” Tonks whispered quietly.

“Oh I know. I’ve missed you too. Please tell me you’ve a room booked for the next seven hours somewhere private?” Hermione asked quietly, smirking at her. Tonks grinned and raised an eyebrow in response.

“Not coping too well without a regular shag are you?”

“You are so crude” Hermione snorted and smacked her arm.

“Not denying it though I’ve noticed” Tonks replied cheekily. “We can go in a sec, Remus has to make an announcement. I think hes being offered the DADA position. Bella is quietly devastated” Tonks said quietly and watched Hermione shoot a sympathetic glance to Bellatrix who gave her a halfhearted wave.

To her surprise Remus gathered the entire Weasley family, Luna, McGonogall, Snape, Sirius, Harry, Fleur, Mad-Eye, her parents and the remainder of the motley crew he could wrangle into a back room of the Three Broomsticks and stood on a chair next to Bellatrix, who's face looked a lot like a grimace despite her obvious attempt to force it into a smile.

“Oi! Quiet you lot” Sirius shouted before shooting a wink at Lupin. Tonks mused he was obviously aware of what was going on. The room quietened down and patiently watched Remus as he grasped Bella’s hand.

“Everyone, I’ve a quick announcement to make before you all disappear. As you might be aware, Hogwarts has been without a DADA teacher for the past few weeks and after some forceful persuading, Minerva here has managed to have the Ministry cede that I would be an appropriate candidate for the job.” He grinned sheepishly as the crowd cheered and whistled at him. Tonks turned to look at McGonogall who was beaming with pride.

“I loved teaching, it was always a dream of mine to help young minds learn such an important skill. I, of course, wanted to accept the position back immediately. Something held me back however” he said solemnly and Bellatrix glanced up at him in surprise and stood up.

“Remus, you don’t have to -”

“Shhh love. It’s alright. As I’m sure some of you suspect I - Remus John Lupin, am in love. It is not something I ever expected to experience, particularly with the infamous witch in question, but here we are” Bellatrix blushed prettily, an expression she had never seen on the dark witch before. Beside her, Andromeda snorted with laughter.

“Surely he didn’t invite us all here to watch him blather on about turning down a job” Snape muttered and glared as McGonogall slapped his hand and shushed him.

“I informed Minerva that while I did love teaching to my everlasting surprise I’ve discovered that there is something, or rather someone that I love more who I was hesitant to leave behind. Unfortunately unmarried couples are unable to reside at Hogwarts so...” he trailed off and shrugged before hopping off his chair and, to Tonks’ amazement, bent down on one knee and offered he crowd a roguish wink while Bellatrix gazed at him slack-jawed.

“Bellatrix Druella Black. I’ll keep it short and succinct like you my love, while it’s only been a short while I adore you. Please, make me the happiest man alive and marry me?” Bellatrix gazed at him gaping like a fish for a few moments before nodding and seeming to collect her thoughts.

“Of course I’ll marry you Remus, my god you pillock I’ve been fretting about this for two weeks!”

Tonks let out a wolf-whistle and the room quickly erupted into cheers.

“Excellent! Well before you all go then – Minerva, if you’ll still do the honors?”

“Wha – now? You want me to marry you now?” Minerva asked incredulously. “I thought you’d want to plan something!”

Remus and Bellatrix glanced at each other for a moment before Bellatrix turned back to her and grinned.

“I’ve had a big wedding once already. No time like the present Minnie! We’ve everyone here after all. Let’s get this done!” McGonogall stepped to the front and stood in front of the pair and asked them to clasp hands.

“We’ll need some witnesses, pick someone, both of you.” Sirius was quickly dragged next to Remus while, to Hermione’s apparent surprise, she was dragged forward as well.

“Bella, wouldn’t you rather your sister or Tonks or- “

“Shush kitten. I’d be glad to have you.”

Tonks grinned as Hermione wiped at her eyes and offered Bellatrix a watery smile while McGonogall recited the vows before getting to the magical union.

“Do you, Remus John Lupin, swear on your life and magic to protect and love Bellatrix Druella Black as long as you both shall live?”

“I do” He beamed and Sirius tapped his hand where it grasped Bella’s as a golden magical rope snaked it way up his arm.

“And do you, Bellatrix Druella Black, swear on your life and magic to protect and love Remus John Lupin as long as you both shall live?”

“I do” she said firmly as Hermione mirrored Sirius’ action and the golden magical rope spread up Bellatrix’s.

“Then I happily, and with great astonishment I must say, pronounce you husband and wife” McGonogall said, still appearing half shell-shocked as Lupin picked the smaller dark witch up and kissed her passionately.

The crowd erupted into cheers and much hugging and congratulations were exchanged before Bellatrix managed to corner Tonks and Hermione a short while later.

“You best get out of here now ladies, if you wanted a chance to sneak out this is it” she whispered.

“Sneak out where?” Hermione asked in surprise.

“Bella! We don’t need to leave and miss your engagement slash wedding slash reception party” Tonks scolded. “I can reschedule it.”

“Sneak out where?” Hermione asked again.

“Party? As soon as I can drag Remus away from Arthur and Sirius we’re apparating home to shag for the next 24 hours before he starts work on Monday. We can party when the war’s over. We’ll be sneaking out too.”

“Sneak out where?” Hermione asked irritably. Tonks giggled when she stamped her foot.

“Hold still then. See you when you finish shagging, Bella. Congratulations again” Tonks whispered and pulled Hermione closer before they disappeared with a crack.

0x0x0

“Wow that rocked me” Tonks muttered shaking her head and Hermione looked around in surprise after appearing somewhere else for the second time in only a few minutes.

“Where are we Tonks? We were in Scotland then London now I don’t know where we are. I might vomit” She said queasily.

“Amsterdam. I thought it was about time I took you on a proper date. I just haven't apparated so far in a while. Or ever, really.”

“You’re taking me on a date to Amsterdam?” Hermione asked incredulously before Tonks’ face fell.

“It was a stupid idea. If you give me a minute we can go back.”

“Don’t be silly I was just surprised. Its been a strange day. Bella got married in about 30 seconds and now we’re in Amsterdam. Here” she said reaching into her satchel for a pepper-up potion. “Now, tell me all about this date you have planned.”

“Well...I had a day planned but it feels a bit silly now. I could propose and we could have a shotgun wedding if you like?” Tonks offered and rubbed the back of her head nervously and pulling out a cigarette which she lit before swigging the pepper-up potion. Hermione smiled and shook her head then took the empty vial and replaced it in her bag before wrapping her arms around the taller womans neck and pulling her in for a kiss.

“Nymphadora Tonks you big sap. You planned a whole romantic date in a completely different country. Tell me every detail of how you planned the day and we will do every single thing on the list. That is so sweet.”

“I feel a bit like a twat now though, you see” Tonks replied with a rueful grin. “Bit wanky, taking you on our first date to bloody Amsterdam.”

“This is my first date ever” Hermione chuckled. “Come on. I think is amazing. We never really had Christmas because I couldn’t stop crying or get out of bed and I was at school for my birthday. I can’t wait to see what you had planned.”

“You’re first date ever? You’ve never been on a date before?” Tonks asked aghast. “God better hop to it then. It’s 10am and I have to have you back at school by 6pm and I plan to get lots of shagging in still so we have plenty to do.”

Hermione chuckled and stripped her robe off leaving her in jeans and a knee length jacket and wrapped her arm through Tonks’ leather covered one as she was quickly escorted to the Van Gogh museum where she initially strolled slowly around the room looking at the different pieces before feeling Tonks’ hands on her shoulders as she was gently pushed more hastily.

“Come on sweets. I’ve memorized all these faces and I’ll turn into them later so you can look at them in more depth, plenty more to see yet” she said with a wink.

“Bloody prat” Hermione mumbled good naturedly before allowing herself to be led onto a boat for a canal cruise.

“Much more relaxing than my last cruise” she whispered suddenly and Tonks laughed so hard she ejected the coffee she had just sipped out her nose.

“Much. No escaped felons on this one, we hope” Tonks spluttered and wrapped an arm around her waist, tucking Hermione and her bushy hair under her chin.

“What’s next?” Hermione asked excitedly as she clambered out of the boat, catching Tonks’ wrist before she tripped backwards into the canal.

“Thanks sweets. Next up is touristy photos with the letters” Tonks said excitedly before pulling them into an alley where after a quick snog they reappeared at a park where large letters spelled out the name of the city. Tonks quickly dashed into a store and returned with a polaroid camera and some tulips which she graciously presented with a bow “to top off the wankiest date in history” and laughing when Hermione blushed anyway and allowed photos to be taken.

“I must say, when you said Amsterdam I was a bit concerned we’d both end up spending the day smoking marijuana” Hermione said with a grin as she bit into a brownie they had stopped to snack on on a bench nearby a park they had sat at.

“What are you talking about? That brownie would have loads of weed in it” Tonks said and Hermione glanced at it in horror before dropping the remains onto the table as her girlfriend quickly erupted into laughter. “Just joking my love. No green for you. Not on a school day anyway” she said with a wink.

“Have you tried it before?” Hermione asked, picking up the remains of the brownie and sniffing it suspiciously before biting it again.

“Of course, have you met me?” Tonks laughed. “I was a shit of a teenager. My poor mother, honestly. I haven’t in bloody years though. It’s fun, I guess. If you’re around good people.”

“I’ve never even drank before” Hermione said honestly.

“God how did I end up with someone so good?” Tonks laughed. “Well except for all the prison-breaking and knife throwing at Death Eaters and all that stuff. I’ll have to work on thoroughly corrupting you once this war’s done” she said with that mischievous grin that made her insides melt.

“I can’t wait.” Hermione laughed and too her surprise found she really couldn’t wait to experience more normal, rebellious, growing up things with Nymphadora Tonks who she loved. “What’s next?”

“Well, we have some options” Tonks grinned, glancing at her watch. “We can go and look around a park for an hour then shag for two hours, or we can quickly walk through the park and admire it as we pass it by on the way to the hotel I booked and shag for three.”

“Option Two it is” Hermione said and stood, pulling Tonks to her feet and marching them down the street. “I haven't been able to stop thinking about taking you to bed since the last time we left the bed. I’ve been such a bitch to the poor boys.”

“God me too Russ has been so off me at work. I’m so glad you picked Option Two” Tonks sighed, grasping her arm. “But the hotels the other direction, come on.”

“Lovely park” Hermione said with a grin as they power-walked past the shrubbery.

“Truly” Tonks murmured and Hermione couldn’t help a chuckle at her lips twitching in a smile.

After stumbling into the room following the worlds fastest check in – no they didn't need a tour of the facilities, no they didn't have any luggage to check in, no they didn’t need someone to show them to the room and explain how things worked they really only needed a relatively flat surface and mediocum of privacy – Hermione finally exhaled with relief as she was shoved unceremoniously through the door and her jaw dropped.

“Oh my GOD Tonks how much did you spend in a room we were only going to shag in for a few hours?” Hermione asked incredulously as she stared at the lavish apartment.

“Shhh. Bed time now, totally worth any price” Tonks husked biting down on her shoulder through her jumper and Hermione quickly turned around and lifted Tonks’ shirt over her head and pulled at the button on her jeans. “Oh fuck I’ve missed this.”

“Ah! Not so fast” Hermione replied and pulled away slightly as Tonks went to reach under her shirt. “I think a thank you is in order for my wonderful first date.” She promptly gave Tonks a push who went tumbling onto the lounge and yanked off her pants. “No knickers?” she queried as she bit down on Tonks’ thigh making her mewl and wrapping her legs over her shoulder as Tonks threw her head back and moaned.

“No knickers. Thought it’d be more efficient. Also I haven’t done any laundry since you’ve left” she gasped out.

“It’s been five weeks” Hermione said incredulously as she lifted her head.

“Can we please not talk about my washing habits now. This will only take a second, I practically guarantee it - Oh fuck Hermione. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck” Tonks chanted as Hermione licked slowly up her drenched cunt and sucked her clit into her mouth. “Oh fuck, right there – yes. Oh my god!” Hermione chuckled sending the vibrations through Tonks’ writhing body and inserted a few fingers into her setting a firm pace only to feel her walls tighten around her fingers and her feet dig into her back as she came a few moments later.

“Maybe we did have time to see the park” Hermione smirked as she discretely wiped her face.

“That was embarrassingly quick” Tonks said breathlessly. “Have you been practicing or something?”

“As much as one can practice without a partner” Hermione replied as a dark blush colored her features.

“Hmm dirty girl! Now why don't you climb up here and tell me all about it while you sit on my face?” replied Tonks with a wolfish grin as she pulled Hermione up on top of her to adjust their position and clenched at her ass and pulled her down towards her mouth, the world around her fading as she focused on the sensation of that tongue inside her and talented fingers rubbing at her clit before she saw stars and came with a loud moan and clenched at pink hair.

“Merlins beard we are a disgrace aren’t we” Hermione muttered as collapsed onto the lounge next to Tonks who was gazing at her intently as she licked her fingers clean. “We didn’t even get properly undressed. Look, your pants are still on one leg and I’ve still got my top on.”

“Speak for yourself love, that was just what I needed” Tonks said with a grin. “Fancy a go in that hot tub though? A fine excuse to get properly undressed as any.”

0x0x0

Two and a half hours later after leaving their mark on the lounge, hot tub and the bathroom vanity next to the hot tub they curled up on the cool tiles and took a chance to catch their breath.

“How’ve you been sweets?” Tonks asked, rolling onto her side and tucking her girlfriends hair behind her ear. Given the fact that Hermione had made excellent use of the bubble-head charm in the spa and hadn’t dried it it was undoubtedly going to be ridiculously large when it dried and placed a chaste kiss on her lips.

“Terrible. I’ve been so bloody stressed with the boys practically stalking me and the OWLs coming up and waiting for Voldemort to do something. Lavender is still driving me up the wall. Every time I know you’re on shift I chew off half my fingers.” Hermione said with a sigh waving said chewed fingers around.

“No complete mental break downs though?” Tonks said quietly.

“No, just a few half-assed ones” Hermione mused aloud.

“Eating and sleeping okay?” Tonks asked with an obvious note of concern in her voice.

“I’m getting by love, I sleep when I can and eat what I can stomach. Its easier when I’m with you, it’s like my troubles just...drift away a bit.”

“You don’t need to worry about me at work love. Bones is on high alert and I’ve been paired permanently with Russ. He’s a good Auror. I trust him to have my back.”

“I still do though” came the quiet reply and Tonks tried to dispel the tight guilty feeling in her stomach.

“If it would make you feel better I could ask to do desk duty or something?” Tonks offered hesitantly.

“Wha – No. Absolutely not. You love your job. I’d never take that away from you. Honestly, everyone’s at risk all the time every day. It’s just hard not seeing you with my own eyes is all.”

“Thank god” Tonks said with a small laugh. “I mean I’d do it for you but I wouldn’t love it.”

“I know you would love but I’m proud that you’re out there doing something. It means a lot that you would even offer. There’s a lot to be said for that Hufflepuff loyalty. I don’t know why people always say all those horrible things about you.”

“Hey!”

“Actually there is something you can do for me! It was the first of my half-assed nervous breakdowns, before we’d even hit Scotland. Luna asked me some questions about Metamorphagi and I suddenly got a bit worried I was...boring.” Hermione said abashed.

“I’ve never found you boring in my life Hermione Granger. Even when you crap on about elf rights and shit and get that mad scientist look about you I still love it.”

“My mad scientist look?” Hermione asked incredulously.

“Yeah, you know. When you get up and start pacing around and your hair gets all...energetic. No? Never heard that one before?”

“Thats not a very endearing name” Hermione scowled.

“But I like it” Tonks said calmly.

“Okay. We’re getting off track. We can discuss this...mad scientist look later” Hermione said shaking her head and taking a deep breath. “What I mean to say is do you... findmeboringinthebedroom?”

“Say that again, slowly?”

“In the… in the bedroom. Do you find me boring in the bedroom?”

“What? What the hell has Lovegood been saying to you? I usually don't hex people as cheerful and whimsical as her but I’ll make an exception!” Tonks ranted suddenly, sitting up as if she was going to force Luna to appear in Amsterdam for a good chewing out with sheer force of will. “That’s a pretty silly question anyway, we’ve probably had a bakers dozen orgasms between us in the past two hours, clearly you know what you’re doing!”

“No! No wait. I’m explaining this poorly which isn’t at all like me but I’m nervous. It was pointed out that you could, I suppose, change anything about yourself while we were intimate and I’d never bothered to ask. Does that bother you?”

“Oh. No, not at all really. If anything its a pleasant change. People use to always be at me to change my hair or the size of my tits or whatever in the past. Or asking to see ‘the real me’, whatever the hell that means” Tonks said with a sigh.

“But if you wanted to change anything you would, right?”

“Oh sure, I mean I doubt I’ve looked the same every time we’ve shagged but its still me. Still all the same amazing moves” Tonks said with a grin and waggle of her eyebrows while Hermione shook her head in amusement. “So Lovegood asked if you ask me to morph things when we get it on?”

“Not really you dork” Hermione hesitated. “She asked if you had could have fully functional penis. It was Ginny who asked if you morph things when we have sex.”

“Well that sounds a lot more like Luna. And Gin” Tonks laughed. “I mean, I could have a cock if you wanted one. There’s never really been much call for it though I suppose. I’ve either been with girls who want a fanny and not a cock or blokes who who want a fanny and really, really don’t want a cock. I got dared to pretend to be a bloke once and see if I could pick up but it felt a bit...deceitful.”

“So you’ve never fooled around with anyone while you have the other...equipment?”

“Not that I can remember. Perhaps when I was drunk or something but it wouldn’t have been a conscious choice. I’ve fulled around with myself when I have one but it’s all the same to me. Orgasms an orgasm” she said cheerfully, happy to see Hermione’s anxiety had transformed into curiosity.

“That’s so interesting. Do you think it would work with impregnating someone? Or would you be able to be pregnant?” Hermione enthused as she sat up. ‘Mad scientist look’ Tonks thought.

“Hmm. I don’t think I could impregnate someone. Like I can get the gear but I don’t think I can just manifest the working jizz” she mused and snorted at Hermione’s disgusted face. “I suppose I could be pregnant I would just have to be careful not to do away with the uterus or squish it or something.”

“That makes sense. Do you want kids?” Hermione asked hesitantly.

“Honestly? I’ve never really wanted kids or marriage or anything. I think I’m more of a career person than the sort of person who wants four sprogs. But I suppose I’ve never really thought about it too seriously. I’m only in my early twenties. If my partner wanted either of them I’d probably be open to changing my mind but I’ve never really been in a serious relationship until now anyway. Do you?”

“I’ve never really wanted kids either. I don’t particularly like children, even the ones my own age when I was at school” Hermione said with a chuckle as she lay her head on Tonks’ shoulder. “I never really wanted to get married either, I mean I figured it was all just a big to-do that cost a lot of money.”

“Unless you’re Bellatrix Black and Remus Lupin I suppose” Tonks said with a laugh.

“That was both a cheap and efficient wedding wasn’t it?” Hermione laughed before catching sight of the time. “Fuck. I have to be back at Hogwarts in five minutes.”

“Bugger. No time for a final shag then. Come on, only another few weeks of school. We can stay in bed the whole week then if you want..”

“Mmmh don’t tempt me.”

0x0x0

Hermione sprinted through the gates towards the Entrance Hall, thankful yet again for her early morning runs with the girls running almost headfirst into Professor Snape as he stood in the foyer with a checklist.

“Miss Granger, just in time I see” he drawled as he checked her name off the list of students who had attended Hogsmeade.

“Lucky” Hermione said nervously, trying to wrangle her hair into something that didn’t resemble overgrown shrubbery.

“I didn’t see you after the Lupin nuptials, enjoy your visit with Miss Tonks did you?” he said, raising an eyebrow and smirking slightly.

“Erm, yes. I was...around.”

“It’s good to see you looking better” he said quietly and she glanced at him in surprise.

“Thank you, Professor.”

“It also pleases me to not have to deal with sobbing second year students who have made the mistake of irking you by breaking curfew. Well best step into the Hall, dinner is about to be served” he said.

She nodded, flushing guiltily and excused herself stepping in to the Hall and taking a seat next to Ron who was waiting impatiently for his food which he began heaping on his plate before inhaling it with utter abandon.

“How was your day 'Mione? Didn’t see you after the wedding” Ginny whispered cheekily and elbowed Hermione in the ribs. “You seem much more cheerful. And hungry! Look at you eating an actual full sized meal. Work up an appetite?”

“Quite” Hermione grinned as she cut up her lamb chops. “How was your day?”

“Well I finally had that date Harry had promised me, he was far more suggestible once he’s had half a glass of firewhiskey. A charming date at one of the little secluded cafes followed by a thorough snogging. Can’t complain” she said cheerfully. “I was expecting to run into you and Tonks but we didn’t see you anywhere.”

“No, we went on a date” Hermione gushed quietly. “It was amazing”.

“Where though? Is there some secret part of Hogsmeade you haven’t told me about?”

“No, here look” Hermione said quietly and reached in her bag pulling out the pile of polaroids she and Tonks had halved and grinned happily as Ginny gaped at her.

“You went to Amsterdam?!”

“Shush. And yes. Wait don’t look at all of those just the first few” Hermione said hastily as she reclaimed the photos before Ginny got to the ones at the back when they had used the camera at the hotel and Ginny giggled at her.

“Kinky.”

“You’ve no idea” Hermione said somewhat smugly before going to put them in her bag. Distracted as she was with her victory she spilled a few on the floor.

“Shit” she swore quietly to herself.

“Oh here ‘Mione you dropped these” Harry said as he handed the remaining to to her, glancing at them only for his eyes to widen comically and his face pale. “Oh my god.”

“Yes, lets not speak of it” she replied desperately while Ginny burst out laughing.

“Agreed” Harry said hastily and turned back to his food.

“Not a word out of you Ginevra” she snapped.

“Ah well, your good mood was nice while it lasted” the red-head giggled.

0x0x0

Hermione lay in bed that evening and turned to her newly framed photo of her date and smiled. Tonks, her wild pink hair blowing in the wind, had managed to get one from the balcony of their hotel showing the view of Amsterdam beneath them while they both grinned happily into the camera, Tonks’ chin on her head as she so liked to stand and emptied out the remainder of her knapsack only for two packets of cigarettes to tumble out with a note shoved into the open packet where two were missing.

'For next time you are having one of your half-assed breakdowns. Love you xox'

0x0x0

“Wotcher Mum. Bella surfaced yet?” Tonks asked as she strolled cheerfully into the dining hall and threw herself into a chair next to her parents.

“No. I wouldn’t expect her to until this time tomorrow either” Andromeda chuckled. “I sent Kreacher to her with food an hour ago and he came back looking like he wanted to claw out his own eyes. How was your date with Hermione?”

“Amazing. I was worried she would think it was stupid but I think she enjoyed herself” Tonks said happily.

“She’s lucky to have you Dora. I’m so glad you’ve fallen so hard for someone so...sensible. I must admit I had my concerns” Andromeda said with a wry grin.

“Didn’t we all” Ted muttered good naturedly.

“How is she coping with everything?” Molly asked in concern. “The poor dear, after losing her parents...”

“She still has her moments but she’s...moving forward. Between that and her OWLs and being at school with all this going on it’s a lot for her to handle but she does her best and her best is damn good” Tonks said thoughtfully. “It’d be easy for her to try and escape it somehow with something unhealthy like drink or something. I’m sure I gave mum more than a few grey hairs and poor Minerva when I was her age and acting out but she just keeps on fighting it every day. It’s amazing really. Not that I don’t worry.”

“I imagine Bella will keep a close eye on her once she spends more time at the school” Andromeda said reassuringly.

“I hope so. She’s very tightly wound. I don’t think she’s eating or sleeping as much as she could.”

“At least Dumbledore is barely around these days. From what Severus says he’s only at the school every few days to check in, busy trying to track down a ring of some kind” Ted said.

“Not that you should be trying to take advantage of that in any way” Andromeda said with narrowed eyes as a thoughtful look crossed her daughters face.

“Don’t worry mum I’m not that silly. I’m off to get some do some sleep though, I’m knackered” she said with a yawn.

“Yes I can only imagine” Andromeda said and rolled her eyes. “On an unrelated not you’ve been wearing that same jacket for three days now. When’s the last time you did any washing?” She asked.

“Oh I’ll do some tomorrow don’t worry” said Tonks trying to hide her guilty look.

“You’ve not done any since Hermione’s left I bet” Ted laughed.

“She wouldn’t! Would you Dora? It’s been five weeks since she’s gone!”

“Erm. Night mum, night dad love you!” Tonks cried as she made her escape.

After returning to the villa and staring mutinously at the mountain of washing she had shoved behind her door she tipped her knapsack out onto the bed and looked in surprise at the small package wrapped neatly in a small bit of parchment. Carefully tearing open the paper her jaw dropped open to see a small bag fall onto the bed which she picked up and inspected, torn between shock and utter amusement.

“Hermione Granger you are full of surprises you wonderful thing” she mused aloud and opened the bag of weed to inhale it deeply. “God its been years since I’ve been stoned.”

“What have you got there!” Came a sharp voice from the doorway before Bellatrix stepped into the room wrapped only in a sheet looking incredibly disheveled and pleased with herself. She snatched the bag out of Tonks hand and Tonks burst into giggles when her eyes lit up. “Is this hash?!”

“Hermione brought it for me! What are you doing here Bella shouldn’t you be shagging? The old joints haven’t given out already?” she ducked a swat to the back of her head.

“Quiet you. Remus is having a power nap so I came to tell you all about it. We’ve been at it all afternoon and it’s been bloody glorious I tell you. Now don’t change the subject! Kitten – Hermione Jean Granger – purchased you a small bag of illegal drugs which you smuggled into Britain? Our kitten? Kitten did that?”

“I’m as surprised as you are, honestly.”

“You are a terrible corrupting influence Nymphadora” she laughed. “You will be sharing it wont you?”

“Of course Bella. Tomorrow? After your shag-a-thon?”

“Bugger off. Find some rolling papers, I’ll go get Remus now.”

“Alright just don’t tell mum! And put some bloody clothes on!”

Bellatrix disappeared from the room and Tonks busied herself simultaneously looking for rolling papers and throwing the mountain of washing into the built in wardrobe out of sight. Kicking off her shoes she relocated to the living room and plonked herself on the lounge with the rolling papers only to jump with fright when Bellatrix appeared again almost on top of her with a startled looking Remus dressed only in plaid pajama bottoms and a dressing gown who fell onto the lounge and gave her a concerned look.

“What are we doing here Bella?”

“Shush wait here. I’ll be back in a moment. Don’t start without me!” she said menacingly.

“Start what?” Remus asked in surprise while Tonks laughed at him.

Bella reappeared seconds later grasping onto Bill and Fleur who looked just as confused as Remus did and were just as pajama clad.

“What ees Bella doing? Is this some Eenglish wedding tradition?” Fleur asked in alarm before squeaking with fright when Sirius was dropped unceremoniously on top of her by mistake.

“Bella what the bloody fuck are you doing?”

“Look!” Bellatrix declared dramatically before picking up the bag from the kitchen bench. “Marijuana!”

“What? I haven’t been stoned in years. Merlin, Remus remember that time at the greenhouse with James and Peter? I thought McGonogall was going to skin us alive! Dora where did you get this?” Sirius asked incredulously as Bill picked up the bag and inhaled deeply. “Are we getting baked?”

“Like a cake” Bill laughed in delight.

“Hermione got it for me” Tonks said and laughed delightedly when everyone stared at her with shock all over their features.

“Hermione Granger? What ‘ave you done to ‘er! She ees a model student!”

“What can I say? I’m a corrupting influence” Tonks said with a grin.

“Well, what are we waiting for! Pass me the scissors and some paper my darling cousin!” Sirius said jovially.

“Do you think Kreacher can get us some crisps?”

0x0x0

“Andy my love will you bloody stop tossing and turning” Ted snapped irritably.

“I’m sorry darling I can’t get to sleep” Andromeda said fretfully running her hand through her hair. After a pause her husband spoke again.

“You’re thinking about Dora’s washing aren’t you? Its calling out to you in the night.”

“Oh hush.”

“I can tell. You’ve that look about you like when she was a teenager living at home and had a messy room. Like you have an insatiable need to clean but want her to want to do it.”

“She’s a grown woman! Surely she can do her own washing, Edward.”

“Yes but its Dora” he implored. “She’s never been very good at being a proper grown up.”

“But its her washing! We had to go and buy all new outfits after we lost the house weeks and weeks ago, only had the clothes on our backs. And she’s worn literally every visible item. She must be wearing dirty clothes! What if her work colleagues think she smells?”

“What like those cigarettes we both know she smokes and pretend not to notice? And she in turn pretends not to notice you smoke?”

“She has no idea I smoke. I’m certain of it. She’d never let me live it down” Andromeda snorted then gasped suddenly, hand to her chest. “Oh, Ted. We certainly didn’t get five weeks worth of knickers. She can’t be wearing dirty knickers, surely?”

Ted grimaced.

“Oh my Merlin what if she isn’t wearing any at all!” she said, aghast.

“For Salazars sake. Andy it’s clearly bothering you. Instead of fretting about it until 3am then going and doing her washing how about you save yourself four hours and go and get it now?”

“I refuse to do her washing Ted.”

“You do now love. But in a few hours you’ll still be sitting here in denial unable to sleep for thinking about it. Go on then.”

“Fine, if you insist” Andromeda snapped and threw a gown around her nightdress and reached for her slippers and placed a kiss to her Ted’s forehead before leaving the room in hunt of laundry baskets. Slipping up to her daughters villa feeling far more satisfied with her actions than she would ever admit to her husband she paused and knocked quietly on the door seeing the light was on.

“Dora, love, its just mum. Thought I’d come and help you sort out your laundry!” she called softly and pushed open the door only to be hit with a haze of smoke. Stepping silently inside, like only a mother can, she stepped into the living area and gazed around the room appalled. Her daughter and William Weasley were laughing hysterically at his young French girlfriend who was gazing at the wall in horror as if it had sprouted an angry head. Sirius was grasping a large bowl of crisps methodically eating them one after the other. Remus and her sister were wrapped around each other on the floor making out like a couple of randy teenagers. The room reeked of marijuana, a smell she hadn’t had to think about since walking into her daughters room since she was 15 which she had poorly tried to cover with the smell of incense.

‘WHAT IS GOING ON IN HERE?!” Andromeda thundered, allowing satisfaction to roll over her when everyone eyes snapped to the doorway and stared at her in undisguised horror, most obviously her daughter whos hair had gone white. ‘ARE YOU ALL UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA?!”

“Andy!” she turned down to see Bellatrix had detached herself from her husband and was laying face down on the ground tugging on her gown gazing up at her.

“What?” Andromeda snarled.

“Have you got any more crisps? Or some chocolate?”

“Chocolate! That’d be marvelous!” Sirius declared and gazed up at her with hope. In the corner of her eye she spotted her daughter trying to sneak from the room unsuccessfully, tripping over a small potted plant and swearing.

“Seemply marrrvelous” Fleur said with a giggle. “Zat ees such a funny Eeenglish word. Maarveloos” Bill looked at her, bleary eyed, and resumed snickering at her.

“Magnifique!” he declared.

“Nymphadora Tonks you sit down this instant! You are grounded young lady!”

“Mum! I’m bloody almost 23 I can’t be grounded!” she said horrified as Bellatrix snorted in a most unlady like manner.

“Dora’s in trouble” she said in a sing song voice.

“Zip it Bellatrix! You know what? You’re grounded too!”

“Ha-ha!” her daughter declared loudly before recoiling when she made eye contact with her mother.

“Andy you can’t ground me! I’m your eldest sister!” Bellatrix said, a sullen look crossing her features.

“Shush it’s aright my Belle. She shan’t be able to keep us apart. We’re too much in love” Remus soothed.

“Yes, we are aren’t we Wolfie?” Bellatrix beamed back at him.

“You’re ALL grounded! All of you!” Andromeda screeched before pointing at the door. “Out! The lot of you! Don’t make me get Molly!”

The occupants of the room paled considerably, excluding Dora who honestly couldn’t get any more white faced to begin with, and fled from the room.

“Explain!”

0x0x0

“That was quick, even for you love” Ted announced as his wife stomped back into the room 45 minutes later.

“They were all stoned Edward!”

“What?” Ted spluttered with a horrified chuckle.

“William Weasley, Fleur Delacour, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, my sister and your daughter. All sitting in the room stoned. Your bloody daughter brought marijuana back from Amsterdam and had a ‘sesh’ with everyone. Stop laughing!” She demanded as Ted roared with laughter.

“Oh but Andy, to see their faces when you walked in my darling. I wish I’d gone with you” he laughed, wiping tears from his eyes.

“They’re all grounded” she grumbled as she crawled back under the blankets.

“What, all of them?” he asked incredulously and started laughing again.

“All of them!” she announced firmly. while her husband shook with laughter beside her.

“You know who’s going to love this? Minerva” Ted said reassuringly and ran his hands through his irate wifes hair.

“Yes, a small silver lining I suppose” she sighed dramatically though the corner of her mouth hitched slightly in what he knew to be a smile.

“We can get the memory tomorrow and send it off to her. She will adore it. And we’ll load those rotters up with loads of chores! Give Kreacher the day off. He’ll hate it. Hermione would love that.”

“I miss Hermione. This would never have happened if she was here. She’s a good girl. She’d have made Dora do her washing. She’d never let them smoke illegal drugs.”

“I know darling. Hermione will be home soon and then Dora will be her responsibility again not ours. Don’t fret.”

“I suppose you're right. Only a few weeks now.”

0x0x0

Hermione awoke with a start a few days later to a scream of terror. Sitting up she grabbed her wand and prepared to start blasting only to see Lavender Brown huddled at the edge of her bed with Bellatrix dressed only in a short nightgown and slippers glancing over her. Given how increasingly aggravating Lavander had been acting towards her of late she found it hard to be annoyed.

“Bella! What are you doing?!”

“I thought I’d come and surprise you” Bellatrix said cheerfully.

“But is 5am. You can’t just come in here and scare my dorm mates.”

“Apparently she can” muttered Pavarti Patil who flopped back down onto the bed.

“I didn’t know which bed was yours. I was just checking” Bellatrix replied calmly as though it was normal for random women to show up in common rooms in the dead of night.

“Why exactly did you come here to surprise me? Cant you surprise Remus?

“I surprise him all the time” Bellatrix said with a wicked grin. “I just finished surprising him actually but he fell back asleep and I was bored and fancied a cigarette so here I am.”

“Why would you come here for a bloody cigarette? As if Swotty Princess Granger would have any” Lavender scoffed. Hermione rolled her eyes when Bellatrix bared her teeth at her. As satisfying as it would be to see Bellatrix rip shreds off the person who had basically been nothing but a petty gossipy bully to her for several years with increasing severity it was far too early for such nonsense.

“Calm down Bella. They’re in my bag. Here” she said and leaned over the bed before tossing the packet to her. She smirked internally at the lock of abject shock on Lavender’s face.

“Want one?” Bellatrix asked with a wink, obviously reading Lavender’s mood. Hermione did her best to not laugh aloud when Lavender gasped to see Hermione shrug and shuffle over to the window and take a drag of the one Bellatrix had lit with practiced precision before Bella reached for a new one.

“You can’t smoke in here! I’ll tell McGonogall!” Lavender declared shooting a venomous look at Hermione. Bellatrix glared at her and Pavarti threw a pillow at Lavender’s face.

“No she won’t. No one will tell anything to anyone” she assured Bellatrix who grinned smugly at her.

“She better not. I earned my reputation you know.” Bellatrix growled before shooting a subtle wink at Hermione when Lavender recoiled in terror.

“How are you enjoying Hogwarts, Bella?” Hermione asked with a grin, suddenly finding the intrusion far more entertaining than she had anticipated given her dorm mates reaction.

“Good, better than being at home given we’re all still grounded” she grumbled. “I was well off cleaning the floors by the time we were allowed to come here.”

“Um. What?” Hermione inquired.

“Dora didn’t tell you?” Bellatrix asked and Hermione shook her head. “Well you know that...stuff you got on your date in Amsterdam - we were all enjoying it, Bill, Frenchie, Sirius, Remus, Dora and I when Andy showed up for some reason. She grounded us all” Bellatrix said with a scowl.

“Oh my god” Hermione said in horror. “Andy’s going to hate me now!”

“No, your loyal smitten Dora managed to withstand her mothers wrath for 40 minutes and convinced her that she had brought the hash not you. We all backed her up or feigned ignorance of how it was procured during our subsequent interrogations before we were given our house-elf duties.”

“Wait. Wait ,wait. Are you telling me that not only does Granger smoke but she is also a secretly lesbian with someone called Dora and she went to Amsterdam and bought weed?” Pavarti asked incredulously before throwing a look to Hermione she couldn’t read. “Wow. My respect for you has just grown ten-fold.”

“Oh. Thanks, Pavarti” Hermione said while Lavender scowled. She knew there was a reason she had always enjoyed Pavarti more than Lavender, who she barely tolerated on a good day.

“So anyway, everyone else has been lumped with cleaning duties for the next two weeks and Remus and I were lucky to escape with barely two days of it. Thank god we got married, it truly has been the gift that keeps on giving.”

“Why wouldn’t Tonks have told me though?” Hermione asked “She isn’t angry at me is she?”

“I doubt it. She probably just didn’t want you to feel responsible and guilty.”

“But I do feel responsible and guilty” Hermione said firmly.

“Oh please. That was hardly her first rodeo. She didn’t have to smoke it.”

“That’s true I suppose” Hermione said biting her lip. “I hope there’s some way I can make it up to her.”

“Kitten, I’m sure there are many ways you can make it up to her” Bellatrix replied with a salacious grin and Hermione flushed. Pavarti continued to gaze at her in astonishment. Lavender continued to scowl heavily. “Alright I’ve had my fun. I’ll be off now, might see you in class. I think Remus is going to try and get me to assist him to try and keep me out of trouble or some such nonsense. Ta for now” Bellatrix said cheerfully as she disposed of her cigarette butt and whisked from the room.

“Should we expect this to happen often?” Pavati asked hesitantly and Hermione paused for a moment before nodding.

“Probably. Sorry girls.”

“Can I just say that I emphatically disagree with having a slutty Death Eater in my bedroom consorting with suddenly lesbian drug dealer Granger in the middle of the night” Lavender hissed to Pavarti who rolled her eyes

“Calm down Lav, its no big deal.”

“I’m sorry, what did you just call Bella?” Hermione said furiously feeling her eye twitch. She had quite a temper at the best of times, particularly lately, and it was certainly something to be feared at this time of day without coffee.

“You heard me Granger. You might think your all that but I know better -”

“Shut the fuck up! Hermione snapped, noticing Pavarti quietly slip from the room. “I have had the most stressful 12 months of my entire life and I put up with your snide little comments about me without a word of complaint but I have had it with taking all your shit. You will be polite and ignore me like a normal bloody person who has taken against someone and complain about me out of earshot and you will not say a bad word about the few people I have left who I care about or I will curse you into the ground. I’ve had enough!”

“I’d like to see you try and make me” Lavender said stepping into her personal space. “What you think you’re all fucking tough now that you’ve found some dirty dyke that finds you appealing and a criminal psycho bitch who -”

Hermione had tuned out the conversation focusing only on the blood that had been boiling in her veins finally being given an outlet and smacked her fist into Lavender’s jaw before she felt herself being pulled forcefully backwards and Ginny stepped in front of her and grasped her shoulders.

“Merlin Hermione take a breath will you? I’ve got you, Pavarti’s gone to get McGonogall, I heard her on the stairs. Breathe”. Hermione forced herself to take a few deep breaths and calm herself while ignoring the venomous look from Lavender who apparently hadn’t had enough.

“Well if it isn’t the she-Weasel. Sure its not your cunt Granger’s been licking? A change from your own family members I suppose” she spat.

“You know what? Fuck it. Have at the stupid bitch” Ginny snapped and released her friends shoulders and stood to the side. Hermione immediately lunged forwards towards Lavender only to find herself stuck to the wall when McGonogall charged into the room waving her wand.

“You will desist!” She snapped. “What is going on in here?”

“She just went and punched me for no reason!” Lavender proclaimed with tears in her eyes.

“Well that’s not quite accurate is it Lav? Seems like you brought it on yourself” said Pavarti quietly. Hermione glanced at her in surprise.

“What are you saying Pavarti? I thought we were friends!” Lavender hissed.

“We are friends but you’ve been a right twat to Granger, this year especially, and if you had said the things to me that you said to Granger about her family I’d probably have lost my shit at you as well. I’ve been trying to get you to leave her alone all year!”

“Right. Miss Granger, come with me. Miss Brown, Miss Weasley and Miss Patil, back to bed.”

Hermione followed McGonogall with a sullen expression. Despite knowing she should feel somewhat remorseful for attacking someone she just didn’t have it in her to care. She had certainly tried to be patient but she’d hit her limit and that was that. Maybe if she was suspended she could just get Tonks to take a few days off and hole up in the bedroom with her where she could pretend everything was alright. They reached the office and McGonogall waved her hand to a seat in front of her desk.

“Have a seat, Miss Granger.”

Hermione dutifully sat and patiently awaited her lecture with a somewhat defiant look.

“Have a biscuit, dear.”

“A – what?” Hermione asked stupidly.

“A biscuit. You’ve barely been eating, or sleeping by the look of you. Eat some biscuits, please.”

Slightly dumbfounded Hermione reached for a biscuit and tentatively nibbled at it.

“Now. I’m well aware of your campaign to ensure Mr Potter was getting plenty of sleep and food earlier in the school year and watching his temper but it seems to me like you are lacking the same self-awareness when it comes to the trauma you are trying to process.”

“I’ve been trying to not think about it to be honest” Hermione said after a moments hesitation, still somewhat dumbfounded she wasn’t being shouted at.

“And you have done admirably, my dear. Despite everything you’ve gone though with your parents you have been soldiering on but you need an outlet to help you maintain your temper. Do you have an outlet?”

“I...I have one at home?” Hermione said trying not to flush at the thought of Tonks writhing beneath her.

“Yes dear, I can imagine” McGonogall drawled, clearly knowing exactly what Hermione was pointedly not saying. “However we need one that is helpful at school as well as at home.”

“I suppose” Hermione said hesitantly.

“Part of the reason I asked Mr Lupin to come here was to help you be surrounded by more safe adults. I understand this terrible thing you’ve gone though losing your parents, Hermione” she said clutching at her hand suddenly. Hermione felt her eyes start to water as the adrenaline finally started to fade. “You cannot focus simply on your school work and defeating Voldemort while your body and mind tries to process everything that has happened to you. You’ve already taken excellent steps with exercising. Talk to Bellatrix, arrange for some dueling or something to let off some steam while you are here and stay away from Miss Brown for goodness sake. My door is always open if you need it but know that future incidents such as this will make keeping the Headmaster’s nose out of our business difficult, to say the least. There are many people here who care for you dear.”

“Thank you Professor.”

“You are most welcome Miss Granger.”

Chapter Text

Bellatrix swept her eyes over Hermione as she bent over her trial exam papers as she sucked on her quill and rolled her eyes at the sheer amount of parchment drifting onto the floor behind her from the excessive writing before shooting the clock a glance.

“Five minutes left everyone” she called out and smirked at the panicked look on half the crowds face. Watching her kitten stretch her back subtly and roll her neck around she gave her a knowing look. Tension like that usually resulted in getting her good and riled up for a nice aggressive duel followed by chain smoking for two hours as opposed to a friendly spell practice, ongoing cups of tea and falling asleep on the floor. The girl had improved beyond measure and Bellatrix found herself beyond grateful to be able to repay her for the help Hermione had given her over the past few weeks.

Feeling her husband move beside her she glanced up at him and gave him a smirk and a wink and chuckled softly as he flushed. God help these poor souls that fall in love with those with Black blood. Remus and Hermione were so similar in many ways it never failed to amuse her.

“Hope you brought your magnifying glass, have you seen how much kitten has scribbled on those meters of parchment with that tiny writing?” she asked softly as he gave her a grin.

“She’ll do wonderful I’m sure” he whispered.

“Of course she will, she’s brilliant” Bellatrix scoffed.

“Not playing favorites are we now love?”

“Hey, I do this for free. I’m allowed to have favorites” she said as a chime rang out and Remus waved his wand and the parchment swept to the front of the room and stacked itself neatly.

“She certainly seems tense. Dueling duty?” He asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Looks like it. See you tonight” she said and squeezed his hand and walking amongst the students.

“Potter, Weasley, Kitten” she said with a grin.

“Hi Bella” Harry said cheerfully. “How are you?”

“Excellent. Simply dying to hand Granger's arse to her again” she said with a smirk as Hermione shot her a filthy look that she smiled sweetly at. Good. An eye roll in response to her attempts to goad her usually meant Hermione was having a good day and a glare meant a duel. She was bored and duels excited her. “Come along now, don’t dawdle. No need to not be punctual” she hissed and looped her arm through Hermione’s and began to drag her up towards her quarters.

“Stop rushing me Bella!” Hermione scowled.

“Uh-uh, no getting out of it now. You’re scared kitten, it’s alright. There’s no need for these flimsy excuses” she whispered as they finally reached her quarters and Bellatrix shoved her through the portrait and into the adjoining classrooms next door that McGonogall had transformed into a dueling space where she promptly pushed her over.

“Ow Bella there’s no need to bloody push me over” Hermione scowled.

“Oh boo hoo. Poor wittle Granger. Of course I don’t have to push you over it just makes it much more fun” she said with a grin.

“Stop it!”

“Or what? You’ll hex me? Come on, do your worst then” she said with a grin.

“I don’t want to duel today Bella!”

“You never want to duel but you always feel better when it’s done. Come on now, Get your wand out!” Bella declared before shooting a stinging hex at her.

“Ouch! Fucking stop it!”

Bellatrix simply smirked at her and shot another one that her kitten side stepped, glowering. Curse words were usually a pretty good indicator that she was on the right track.

“Or what? You’ll go and punch Lavender Brown in the face again? Come on, why don’t you try it with me. Get your wand and take a shot! I’ll close my eyes and everything, I doubt you’ll even get a hit on me” Bellatrix cackled twirling her wand around her fingers before shooting off another stinging hex.

“You’re so fucking insufferable sometimes Bellatrix! I’m leaving!” The younger witch grit out with clenched teeth.

“Not a chance Granger, not until I get my duel. Stop being such a pussy and draw your wand” Bella declared stepping in front of the door. “Do it.”

“No!”

“DO IT!” she said taking another step forward.

“I said fucking NO. Fuck OFF!”

“Do it!” she said in a singsong voice and stood so close they were almost nose to nose, certainly close enough to see when something in Hermione’s eyes snapped as she dropped her wand and took a swing at her instead. Muggle dueling, she observed as she quickly deflected the fist being flung towards her face, could be quite satisfying and useful on occasion and this was certainly one of those times. It was not often Hermione resorted to physical violence instead of flinging a hurricane of spells. She, of course, quite enjoyed confrontation and always felt a flicker of guilt about making someone so dear to her erupt in a rage on purpose but given that it was needed with much less frequency, and for much less time the longer their little sessions went on it was clear the methods were working.

“That all you got? Come on now, have a proper go” she said with a goading chuckle as Hermione lunged for her and tripped her over. Hermione, to her surprise, violently kicked her foot out and nearly knocked her feet out from under her before throwing herself off the ground and trying to tackle her. Backing up to the wall she decided on a change of tact and grabbed another of the fists that was being flung towards her face and spun the girl around, wrapped her hands around her wrists to force them into her lap, encased her torso in a bear hug then forced them both to sit on the ground with her legs hooked around each of Hermione’s while she thrashed as much as she could from the wrapped restraint and screamed and swore and cried.

“Shhh thats a girl, get it out love” Bella said in a much more soothing voice and flung her head to the side to avoid getting the back of Hermione’s head to her nose, and occasionally waved her hand to wordlessly dispel the occasional fire that erupted from accidental magic. Twenty minutes of violent thrashing around and much more gentle cooing from her restrainer later Hermione finally managed to run out of steam and sniffled.

“Can, can you let go of my hands so I can wipe my face?” came a croaky request and Bellatrix immediately let go.

“Here kitten, a damp wash cloth for you. I’ll go boil the kettle, see you in a minute” Bella replied as she lifted the girl from her lap and stood up placing a kiss to the top of her head.

“Thank you” she replied quietly and Bellatrix made herself scarce reappearing a few minutes later with a cup of tea and biscuit.

“Alright?” she inquired quietly.

“Yes, thank you Bella. I’m sorry, again” Hermione sighed.

“Pish posh. You apoligise every time and there’s really no need at all for it. Andy and Cissy used to do this very same thing for me all the time. It’s good to get it out, better than bottling it up and assaulting your peers. Plus you know I live for dueling, muggle dueling or otherwise.”

“It was one time. I punched her one time” Hermione said and rolled her eyes.

“Yes, and I can’t deny she deserved it but you were simmering for a while there wern’t you? It’s harder when you are out of an environment where you are comfortable and surrounded by people who want to make you feel better” she said knowingly while Hermione ducked her head and nodded. “Like I keep saying, you’re a powerful witch kitten, losing your temper like that will end up with someone getting very injured. Now, what needs healing? Nothing broken?”

Hermione experimentally stretched. “Nothing broken, just a few bruises. Nothing a hot bath won’t fix.”

“Good, good. What’ve you eaten today?”

“Oats for breakfast, skipped lunch and snacked on some fruit. I’ll have dinner though”

“Better than nothing. How much sleep did you get last night?”

“A few hours, unbroken til about 3am. I’m still drifting off okay its just the waking up constantly that wrecks me.”

“Well you’ll sleep well tonight I’m sure” Bellatrix chuckled.

“I’d say so, yes” Hermione said with a smile and leaned back to rest her head on Bellatrix’s shoulder. “Well now you’re favorite part is over does that mean it’s time for my favorite part?”

“I suppose so” Bellatrix said with a mock sigh. “What are you crapping on about today? Not more house elf rights or theories on a potential thirteenth use on dragons blood?”

“Actually I’ve reconsidered any work with dragon’s blood. They are endangered after all. It was an idea I had about the Horcrux. So we think that he might have stashed one here when he interviewed for the DADA position yes? Surely the portraits or elves or ghosts would have an idea. We should start asking them. I’ve searched everywhere I can think to look but I haven't found any sense of it. I had an idea that we could hire some elves and let them use some dark magic detectors and search the castle.”

“Excellent! Though I will point out that there is no need to hire them kitten. They will no doubt be absolutely abundant with joy to be even considered for the task. We should get Kreacher in on it, he’s been ecstatic at the idea of doing away with the Dark Lord, I’ve not seen him so sprightly and full of passion since Aunty Walburja told him to start organising things for the wedding between Sirius and that Rosier girl before he ran away. All that enthusiasm makes me want to vomit to be honest” she said with a grin.

“Sounds like a plan. Where will we get the detectors?”

“Haven’t the foggiest. Let’s get Dobby here and ask, he might know. Dobby!”

“Yes Mistress Bellsie! Mistress Grangy! How can Dobby serve you?” he asked, quivering with excitement.

“Hello Dobby” Hermione said kindly and Bellatrix grinned and rolled her eyes when she got an elbow to the ribs.

“Evening Dobby. Lovely socks today” she drawled. “We’ve a job for you and your little elf friends who have a spare minute. We’re looking for a bit of the Dark Lord’s soul. It’ll be in something fancy and possibly related to a school founder. Now, some rules: once its found it needs to be given to me, McGonogall or Snape. No punishing yourself for not finding it. No working for more than eight hours without rest. No telling anyone else what you are doing or if you find it. Got it?”

“Yes Mistress Bellsie”

“And no calling me Mistress Bellsie either. Bellatrix or nothing. Now, any idea where we can find some dark magic detectors to help with the search?”

“Yes! Dobby can take use to the Come and Go Room, follow Dobby!” he said excitedly as he led them from the room up to the seventh floor. “Kreacher!” he declared as they passed a tapestry of Barnabus the Barmy.

“What does foolish Dobby want with Kreacher?” he muttered scornfully before turning to see Hermione and Bellatrix. “Mistress Bella! Why has Mistress Bella sought help from useless Dobby and not loyal Kreacher?” he said miserably. Bellatrix shot a look at Hermione who had suddenly giggled at her awkward position when both elves began vying for her attention.

“Enough! Both of you. We are searching for more parts of the Dark Lord’s soul Kreacher and thought you would like to help. Dobby was called first because...he was closer. But no less efficient” she said quickly.

“Would Mistress Bellatrix say that Kreacher is more efficient than Dobby?” he said innocently as Dobby glared and Hermione snorted at her.

“I would say that you are both exactly the same. At everything” she said. “Now enough of that, why have you taken us to an empty corridor?” she demanded.

A short explanation later Bellatrix stepped into an enormous room stacked with piles and piles of abandoned junk.

“Oh my god! Look at some of these books!” Hermione called in delight as she stepped off to explore.

“Ah! Touch nothing yet. Consider everything in this room to be an extension of Grimmauld Place where it may or may not try to kill you” Bellatrix warned before giving Hermione a concerned look when she dazed into space with a dreamy look on her face. “What’s that look on your face for?”

“Oh! Uh, thats where I first met Tonks, I was reminiscing. I went into the study and she tackled me when the clock tried to kill me.”

“Fun times” Bellatrix snickered.

Dobby quickly located a probity probe and switched it on after a brief wrestle for it over Kreacher where Bellatrix shouted at them to share it or she would find other elves, only for it to light up immediately. Unsurprisingly given the contents of the room, they found this occurred no matter what direction they pointed it but most intently to their immediate left.

“What’s it pointing at? That funny crown thing?” Bellatrix mused and carefully levitated it down

“Oh my god” Hermione breathed. “Is that Ravenclaws diadem? I can feel dark magic radiating from it from here. I can’t believe that only took us ten minutes ”

“Ha! We’re like prime Horcrux Hunters. Look at us go” Bellatrix said smugly. “Alright, you’re turn this time kitten. Remember how to cast fiendfyre?”

“What?” Hermione spluttered. “I’ve cast it twice in an empty room for about two minutes. This has loads of flammable objects in it. I’ll burn down the castle!”

“You can do it kitten. Take your time, I’ve every faith in you. The Dark Wanker has caused you a lot of grief, this is your chance for vengeance. Don’t worry, I’ll be here every step of the way. Dobby, Kreacher, go and search the rest of the castle for more just in case. Don’t come back here for a while, alright?” she said firmly and with a nod the two elves disapparated.

“Alright. You’re right, it’s fine. I can do this” Hermione said stoically as she squared her shoulders. “What should I expect?”

“Well it might shout a lot of nonsense about how unlovable you are and how everyone hates you and was happier with you rotting in Azkaban” she said and Hermione squeezed her hand when she shuddered at the memory.

“Okay. Shouting nonsense. I can handle that. Do you think we should have more people here for backup or anything?” she asked nervously.

“I’m all the backup you need. Whenever you’re ready just remember to focus.”

“Right. Here goes nothing. Fiendfyre” Hermione exhaled as the flames started dancing near the diadem.

“Good girl. Now focus your intent on the Horcrux. It’s Voldemort. You want him to burn” Bellatrix hissed and grinned when the flames touched the Horcrux and it let out an unearthly shriek. “That’s it kitten, just keep at it!”

Everything went rapidly downhill about half a second later when unfamiliar specters appeared from the diadem and Hermione went white and sunk to her knees.

“Mum? Dad?”

“We died because of you!” Shouted the man. “Magic! Look at us? You’ve brought nothing but shame and death to our family. You should have warned us! Protected us! But you didn’t care enough and you were too late!”

“Those men killed us Hermione and it’s all your fault!” hissed the shimmering image of the woman. “You think this world accepts you? You’re nothing to any of them except a worthless muggleborn witch. You lashed out because of it, because you couldn’t accept things and thought the rules didn’t apply to you and now our murder is on your head!”

“No! No no no no...mum, dad, I – I didn’t mean for it to happen I thought I was doing the right thing. I’m sorry! I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry” Hermione sobbed desperately as tears streamed down her face. Bellatrix was struck from her stupor to note that the cursed fire had now spread at quite an alarming rate and showed no signs of slowing down.

“Kitten, don’t listen to them its not real” she said, hastening to shake Hermione’s arm. “We have to go, get up! Hermione!”

“You as good as killed us!” The ones who loved you? Who else even could?” the voices carried on and Bellatrix began waving her wand desperately trying to dispel the fire somewhat before an enormous flaming snake reared up from in front of them.

“Fuck! Hermione we have to go!” Bellatrix screeched and pulled again at Hermione who was still catatonic and horrified staring at the Horcroux’s last efforts to destroy the thing that destroyed it, eventually giving up and, with considerable effort, attempted to heft the girl over her shoulder who immediately struggled against her with newly found strength, seemingly determined to stay with the specters. Glancing around wildly she pointed her wand at the younger witch and promptly banished her towards into wall beside the entry door and chased after her, quickly dragging her unconscious form through the door which she managed to slam closed as the fire snake lunged for them.

“Augumenti” she intoned hurriedly and put out the small fires that had caught on both their clothes and regretted rejecting the suggestion of backup. “Renervate ! Come on kitten wake the fuck up for me please” she pleaded without success before noticing her arm at a funny angle and blood dripping down her neck. Swearing under her breath for a few moments and contemplating what to do she quickly drew her wand and sent off a patronus before casting a lightweight charm on her and lifted her up, heading straight for the infirmary and trying to plan a reasonable excuse that wouldn’t end with Poppy Pomfrey relieving her of her entrails in a rage.

0x0x0

Hermione awoke in a state of pain and confusion to hissed arguing and tried to blink slowly as the fog around her head cleared somewhat.

“What. Were. You. Thinking?!” Came a hissed angry voice, the sound of violent smacks to skin interrupting every word. She lifted her head a little and stared in confusion at the sight in front of her only for blurry figures to step into her line of view.

“OW! Fuck stoppit Andy I didn’t mean to!”

“She’s awake!” Came the delighted voices of her girlfriend and Harry.

“Why’re you all in my room?” Hermione asked groggily before memories filtered through her mind and she had to swallow the lump that appeared in her throat and her eyes filled with tears. “Oh wait. I remember” she whispered and went to lift her hand to wipe at her eyes only to find it in a cast.

“Kitten! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry please forgive me” came the frantic voice of Bellatrix who pushed aside the sea of people surrounding her bed to crouch down next to her.

“God I nearly killed us both” Hermione whispered in horror. “I lost control of the fiendfyre?”

“Just a tad” Bellatrix replied sheepishly. “You were right we should have gotten more people, I don’t know what I was thinking and – ow hey!” she yelped as Tonks shoved her unceremoniously onto the floor and looked at her with tears in her eyes.

“Thank god you’re alive!”

“I’m alright, it’s so good to see you” she said softly with a smile and cupped Tonks face with her hand who gave her a watery smile.

“But you forgive me, right?” Bellatrix said frantically as she picked herself up off the floor.

“Of course, Bella. If I’d stayed in that room any longer we’d have been burnt to a crisp” she croaked out and reached her un-plastered arm over to pat her hand reassuringly “I’d have done the same.”

“No you wouldn’t have because you have half a brain and would have had bloody fiendfyre cast by more experienced people and had more people there in case things went wrong! And you certainly wouldn’t have banished someone headfirst into a wall from point blank range” snapped Andromeda.

“What happened? What did the Horcrux do?” Harry asked in concern as he perched himself awkwardly on the bed. Hermione shot Bellatrix a look who mimed zipping her lips and gave her a shrug.

“Didn’t know if you wanted anything said love. That’s your story to tell” she said quietly and allowed Remus to wrap his arms around her waist. Hermione glanced around the room and rolled her eyes at the concerned and interested looks everyone was giving her and took a deep breath.

“It was my parents. They appeared” she said quietly. “They said...they said that no one accepted me or l-loved me” she choked out.

“Well obviously. I mean we’ve all been here waiting for you to move on into the void so we could have a party celebrating your death” came the sarcastic voice of Ron from beside her who yelped as Ginny kicked him in the shins.

“Insensitive wart” Ginny hissed. Hermione, however, had found the dark humor strangely reassuring and let out a sort of nervous giggle.

“What else did they say?” Ted asked and patted her leg from where he was perched near the end of the bed carefully. “You don’t have to say anything, of course, but it might make you feel better to get it off your chest.”

“They said that, uh, it was my fault they were dead, that I should have saved them, if I’d only been less of a noticeable pain in the arse for all these bigoted purebloods they’d have been fine” she said before dissolving into tears.

“That’s a load of rubbish Hermione” Harry said boldly. “That’s what Voldemort and his stupid groupies do. They are nothing but bullies. They go after good people, brave people like you who challenge their ridiculous ideas because they’re scared of not being able to do whatever they want. I’m so, so sorry you lost your parents, but it could’ve been any one of us. It still could, until this war is over. And you did everything you could to save them, there’s not one thing I think we could’ve done differently unless we want to let those tossers take control of everything.”

“He’s right you know” came the soothing voice of Professor McGonogall. “I only met your parents once but if they were even the tiniest bit like you they’d have been proud for what you fight for, what we all fight for. It’s not a sacrifice made in vain” she said sincerely.

“Do you think so?” Hermione said desperately.

“’Ermione, we know so” Fleur said firmly.

“Alright, clear off the lot of you before Albus comes down here trying to hassle me again” came the stern voice of Poppy Pomfrey “You can visit again tomorrow. That arm needs to set and the sutures in her head wont have taken effect yet. The girl needs rest!”

“Dumbledore came? What happened?” Hermione asked while she rubbed at her eyes with the back of her hand.

“Mostly everyone screeching at him incoherently” said Fred with a laugh. “I couldn’t make sense of it at all but it was highly amusing regardless.”

“Once Andy and Bella drew their wands on him he backed off pretty quickly and said he’d come back at a more convenient time” George agreed.

“Which will be never” snapped Andromeda.

“Poppy, please can I stay?” Tonks turned to her and asked suddenly.

“Absolutely not Miss Tonks you can come back tomorrow like everyone else!”

“Please Poppy! Ill do anything you want!”

“No!”

“I’ll give you a million galleons!”

“You don’t even have a million galleons!” she replied.

“Please! I’ll start transferring you half my wage until its paid off in 500 years!”

“Fine! Miss Tonks can stay if she promises to stop annoying me. But no funny business! Everyone else out, right this instant!”

With much prodding and threats of cursing everyone slowly filed from the room and Tonks smugly climbed onto the bed.

“You are such a prat” Hermione said and shook her head, wincing a little from the pain.

“How dare you? I think I’m quite charming” Tonks replied. “Charmed the pants off you, anyway.”

“I can hear every word that goes on out there you know!” came the voice of the stern hospital Matron from her office and Tonks grinned guiltily.

“I’m so sorry I scared you like that but it’s so nice to have you here” Hermione whispered and lifted her head to allow Tonks to carefully tuck an arm underneath and pull back flush to her chest.

“I know. I’ve missed you terribly. I’ve been driving Bella mental interrogating her every weekend when she floos home to visit.

“I can imagine. I’m getting through it though. Bella’s methods are not what I expected but they do seem to be working” she said quietly. “I feel much more like my old self.”

“Yes I was a bit worried at first but mum set me straight. Apparently she and Narcissa used to work with Bella that way all the time she she was younger. In retrospect mum used to get a bit the same with me when I was being temperamental when I was younger. As long as you aren’t punching people in the face and getting yourself in trouble, that’s the main thing. Though of course if you want me to punch Lavender Brown in the face now I’m here I’ll happily do that for you, you just point her out to me.”

“No you wont!” came the sharp voice of the Matron from the office.

“Sorry Poppy!” Tonks called back while Hermione giggled softly at her. “Suppose we should get some sleep then?”

“I suppose you’re right. Sweet dreams love.”

“You too.”

Hermione smiled as she felt a kiss placed to the top of her head and closed her eyes, happy to let Tonks’ familiar smell wrap around her and was asleep within moments.

0x0x0

Tonks awoke the next morning to a mouthful of brown hair that she ungracefully spat out only to have her eyes shoot open in surprise as she fumbled for her wand.

“Bugger off immediately old man” she snarled only to feel Hermione stirring beneath her.

“Professor Dumbledore! What are you doing here?” Hermione asked sleepily and Tonks growled as she felt her tense up.

“Miss Granger, Miss Tonks, forgive my intrusion. I was simply ensuring you were alright after the mysterious events of last night.

“I’m fine thank you sir. It was lovely seeing you again, thanks for stopping by” Hermione replied.

“Alas, I’m sure you understand that I need to have a full understanding of how you came to be injured in order to make the appropriate reports.”

“Pardon me sir but that’s a load of dragon dung. According to the Hogwarts Charter the only reason you would need to know that is to report it accordingly to my parents and they’re dead” she snapped.

“Regardless, a report must be made to your next of kin or an emergency contact of some kind and - “

“I’m quite aware and don’t need a report, thanks” Tonks said after extracting herself and climbing to her feet.

“In that case I can simply implore you to explain how it came to be to satisfy my personal curiosity” he said somewhat irritably.

“Ugh if I tell you will you leave? It’s far too early for this sort of discussion. If you must know I injured myself destroying Voldemort's soul receptacle” Hermione snapped irritably. “It didn’t take well to the idea. Now please go away.”

“You know of the Horcruxes?” he asked in astonishment.

“Yes. We’ve destroyed a diadem, a cup, a locket, the diary and the one inside Harry. We think the snake is one and there’s likely another. Please do go away now.”

“Albus! Visiting hours are not for another three hours! Away with you!” came the stern voice of Poppy Pomfrey as she charged from her cot in the office.

“Ladies I must ask that you don’t speak of such important things around people who do not need to know” Dumbledore said aghast.

“Oh shove off. Poppy’s known for ages, she’s hardly writing love letters to the Dark Lord giving him the heads up, she swore a vow just like everyone else. Now leave my girlfriend alone and go find someone else's life to meddle in” Tonks spat.

Obviously seeing he was fighting a loosing battle and with the knowledge he had just gained he quickly fled the room only to almost walk into Bellatrix who had appeared in the doorway.

“Albus, lovely to see you again” she said with a smirk. “Not overstepping your bounds as Headmaster again are we?” When he didn't reply she closed the door in his face and stepped over to Hermione’s bed and reclined next to Hermione.

“Bellatrix visiting hours are not until 9am. This is not resting for Miss Granger!” Pomfrey said irritably.

“I have with a dreadful headache. I think I need your help Poppy” she said sincerely.

“Did that headache appear before or after you ran into our illustrious Headmaster?” Tonks said with a snort.

“Out! Leave now please. Miss Granger if you are fully awake than these two can leave while I give you a checkup.”

“And then if I’m alright can I leave?” Hermione asked hopefully.

“I’d say yes if I was you Poppy, unless you want to be trying to talk last nights crowd into behaving with decorum again like you did last night when kitten got here” Bellatrix whispered conspiratorially while Pomfrey’s eye twitched.

“Fine! But only if you wait in the hall!”

Tonks quickly fled the room with Bellatrix and giggled as they heard the sounds of the fussing nurse.

“God I do not miss that” Tonks mused aloud.

“Nor do I. The poor old duck is just so easy to wind up I can’t help myself” Bella said with a grin. “Now did I hear correctly? Dumbledore is aware of the Horcruxes now?”

“Yeah. We probably could have tried to keep a lid on it but the old coot caught us unawares. Maybe he can find the last one anyway. As long as he doesn’t cause us any problems I don’t care what he does really.”

“He already did find one” Bellatrix said with a grin. “Look what those bloody priceless elves found in his office last night” she said as she pulled out a garish ring she had wrapped in a cloth. “I’m going to buy them so many socks!”

“You are not asking Hermione for round two!” Tonks said firmly.

“Of course I’m bloody not!” Bellatrix replied with a scowl. “I’ll head back to Murrook with you when you leave later and borrow Sirius and Bill again. It’ll be gone by the end of the day, then I reckon we’ve only got that stupid snake left.”

“Brilliant!” Tonks said with more cheer knowing that Hermione would be far, far away from the danger.

“Severus thinks He is going to make a big move soon. I wish we could get rid of his Mark and keep him from going but he’s bloody determined to risk his life.”

“I know. He’s done plenty for us already” Tonks said sadly before a thoughtful expression crossed her face. “Hey, why don’t you ask him to burn that one to bits with you? He’s probably like that assuming he wasn’t verbally assaulted by ghosts of the past then banished across a room into a stone wall.”

“Shut it, you” Bella scowled. “Not a bad idea though, perhaps he and Lupin and McGonogall and I can slip into the Forrest later instead. I’ll let you know either way.”

“Excellent” Tonks grinned, which only grew wider when Hermione slipped quietly from the room with a smile to match.

“All clear?” Bellatrix asked.

“Yes, thank you again Bella.”

“No problem kitten. Sorry I almost got us burnt alive and broke your arm and split your head open. Alright that’s all I was sticking around for, I’ll let you two sneak off for a shag then before Dora is forcibly removed from the school” she said with a wink and took off down the corridor with a wave.

“Are you alright to do that? Shag, I mean?” Tonks asked hopefully.

“Couldn’t stop me if you tried” Hermione said with a laugh, grasping her hand. “Come on, the prefect bathrooms only a few minutes walk.”

“As if I could wait that long” Tonks said with a salacious wink and yanked her into a tiny broom closet they barely fit in at the end of the hallway. “Ever done it in a cupboard before?” she asked as she hastily began tearing at the buttons on Hermione’s school shirt.

“You know I haven’t you prat you’re the only one I’ve ever shagged – oh shit!” she sighed breathily as Tonks slipped her hand into her knickers. “Did you cast any privacy charms?”

“Nope, its all part of the experience so keep it down will ya?” whispered Tonks cheerfully as she tangled a hand in Hermione’s hair and leaned in for a bruising kiss, slowly rubbing at her clit.

“What?! What if someone finds us?” Hermione hissed a tad hysterically and moaned suddenly into Tonks’ mouth who kissed her again.

“What If they do?” Tonks husked in her ear. “Seems like you enjoy the idea love” she said as she slid two fingers inside her and curled them the way she knew her witch liked.

“Oh fuck” was the only strangled response. “Fuck Tonks harder, please” she whispered as Tonks picked up the pace and bit down where her neck met her collarbone hard enough to bruise.

“Shhh. Look at me love, you’re so fucking hot when you come” Tonks whispered and looked up into Hermione’s darkened eyes who’s walls clamped around her fingers and she shuddered while Tonks quickly clamped a hand over her mouth to muffle the groan, smirking.

“You’re such a bloody cow” Hermione scolded once she caught her breath though her eyes were alight and Tonks thought that she honestly couldn’t look any more bloody perfect with her cranky face and mental hair and shirt ripped open as she propped herself against the dusty cupboard wall, chest heaving.

“I know I’ve been so naughty. I deserve to be punished” Tonks whispered gleefully and jumped as Hermione pinched at her nipple.

“Ow!”

“You deserve that” Hermione murmured and sunk to her knees before pulling out her wand and vanishing her pants and ripped off her knickers.

“Oi! I liked those bloody jeans. How the hell do you expect me to leave the school without pants?” Tonks whispered incredulously.

“You deserve that too. Now keep it down would you?” came the quiet, teasing voice from around her navel as Hermione hoisted a leg over her shoulder against the opposite wall and Tonks struggled to keep herself upright as a shiver went through her body when Hermione licked slowly, teasingly between her legs and grasped wildly for something to hold on to, knocking over several brooms in the process. She reflected that perhaps this hadn’t been her best idea.

“Christ Hermione” she gasped and grit her teeth to try and force herself to be quiet. “Oh my God that feels so fucking good.”

“Shh. Someone will hear you” Hermione chuckled quietly and looked up at her with a raised eyebrow defiantly. “Though you also seem to like the idea” she grinned as she slipped a finger inside of her and began to pump away slowly and pressed her face back between Tonks’ quivering thighs again.

“Fucking hell” Tonks hissed and closed her eyes pushing her back against the wall so hard she was sure she would bruise later. “Oh I’m sorry baby please don’t tease me” she whispered, tangling her hands in Hermione’s hair, willing her to go faster and harder only for her breath to hitch in her throat as her beloved obliged.

“Mmmh I’m gonna – oh fuck!” she gasped as her orgasm swept over her and slowly sunk to the floor as her legs gave out and blew her hair out of her face to take a deep breath.

“I deserved that” Tonks said and pulled her girl in for a kiss, enjoying the taste of herself.

“You did you git.” Hermione said solemnly and tucked blue hair behind her ears and kissed her again.

“Now tell me again how am I doing to get out of here without pants?” Tonks asked again, gazing around unsuccessful for something to transfigure.

“Quickly?” Hermione suggested. “Your coat’s quite long, at least.”

“It doesn’t even reach my knees!” Tonks rebutted.

“Very quickly then.”

“God. Point me in the direction of Bella’s office, I’ll go flog something of hers. I’ve no chance of making it to Gryffindor tower unnoticed” Tonks said with a laugh. “I best be off to work anyway. I’ll write you this evening.”

“Sounds good love. Try not to get arrested for indecent exposure” Hermione snorted. “Now you want down the set of stairs in front of us there, first door on your right.”

“Thanks babe. Love ya” Tonks said and with a quick kiss strode purposefully from the room and made her way down the stairs flinging the door open miraculously dodging any students.

“Bella? Bella I need some pants?”

“Oh yes, right there!” came the response.

“Right where? Ah – oh fuck my eyes!” Tonks yelped as she stepped into the room fully to see her aunt completely naked bent over the lounge with an equally naked Reums Lupin behind her who’s eyes shot open in alarm at the intrusion.

“Dora! Wait outside until I’m done!” Bella shouted and flung a pillow at her violently.

“I just need pants!” Tonks cried.

“Out! Outside!”

Screwing her eyes shut in mortification she backed out of the room and stood against the wall trying to erase the mental image of her aunt being screwed over furniture she had definitely sat on last night while waiting to be permitted into the hospital wing and drew her wand to dissilusion herself, cursing under her breath.

“Miss Tonks” came a voice from behind her and she sighed deeply.

“Severus. Good morning.”

“Wardrobe malfunction?” he asked with a knowing smirk.

“Please don’t ask” she said, wishing the ground would swallow her up.

“Bellatrix has summonsed me. I shall be back momentarily. Please do not let any students see you in this state of undress” he said snidely and Tonks nodded calmly.

“I’ll try” she said and snorted as he stepped into the room only for more screeching to erupt and him to quickly step out again and shot her a venom filled look while she shook silently with laughter.

“You knew that would happen” he spat.

“I did” she laughed.

“I am not pleased” he said coldly.

“Neither was I” she said and moments later a disheveled Remus stepped out of the room pointedly ignoring them both.

“Come in then. For fucks sake” Bellatrix hissed. “Perverts, the both of you. Nymphadora where are your bloody pants? You were wearing some half an hour ago!”

“Hermione vanished them. That’s why I came here, I need pants.”

“Why would you come to me for pants? I don’t even own pants. I wear dresses!” she declared throwing her arms into the air. “Here, take some of Remus’”

“These aren’t the ones he was just wearing are they?” she asked in concern as Snape snorted at her.

“You’ll take what I give you and you’ll be grateful” she snapped as Tonks kicked off her Docs and pulled them on while Snape glowered at the wall.

“Now why are you here watching me fornicate with my husband Severus?”

“You asked me to come” Snape said incredulously.

“No I bloody well did no – oh. Wait. Yes, I did” she said somewhat sheepishly. “Want to help Remus and McGonogall and I destroy a part of the Dark Lords soul after breakfast?”

“There is nothing I’d enjoy more, short of having the last ten minutes of my life obliviated” he said firmly, eyes glinting.

“Well perhaps you can obliviate each other” Bellatrix said with a grin.

“Just five minutes for me thanks, I quite enjoyed my morning up until that point” Tonks said cheekily.

“Depraved, both of you” Snape said wearily.

“Dodgy genetics, what can we say?” Bellatrix remarked cheerfully, her irritable mood abandoned. “I’ll grab you after I finished my toast.”

“And this is where I leave you. Severus, good luck with the obliviating and soul destroying. Bella, as always try not to burn down anything important. Ta!”

0x0x0x

“What on Earth are you wearing?” Tonks heard her mother ask in surprise as she dashed through the reception building of Murrook towards her villa for pants that actually fit her properly.

“Don’t ask mum. Before I forget Hermione’s out of the hospital wing, Bella has another Horcrux and will be getting rid of it today and don't, whatever you do, walk into Bella’s room without knocking” she shouted on her way past as her mother rolled her eyes.

She apppeared a few moments later and happily accepted the thermos Andromeda held out for her.

“Have a good day love. Be safe, please.”

“Always” Tonks replied and pecked her on the cheek before apparating into the Ministry foyer and greeting her partner who was waiting on the balcony with a cigarette for her.

“Mornin’ Tonksie. You’re looking cheerful this mornin’” he said with a raised eyebrow.

“I’m always cheerful Russ, what can I say?” she said with a cheeky grin and accepted the cigarette. “Hows the sprogs?”

“Pains in my arse as always. Haven’t had more than 2 hours unbroken sleep since November” he said happily. “I checked the board, we’re on the beat in Diagon Alley today.”

“Ugh. Yuck” Tonks scowled. “Whats the latest?”

“Still very quiet out there. Bones reckons he’s planning something big. I agree” he said with a sigh. “The problem is what could he be planning? Last time it was mostly killin’ people in their beds and kidnappin’s but we’ve not seen much of either. Brand’s getting paranoid but, thinks someone’s watchin’ his house. I’ve just re-done all the wards on mine.”

“Sure you don’t want to relocate to Murrook mate? There’s plenty of room for you and Soph and the little ones I’m sure” Tonks said in concern.

“Naw don’t you worry your pretty little head about me love. I was born in that house, I couldn’t abandon it. I reckon we’ll be right. What’s a dark wizard want from little ol’ me anyway?” he said cheerfully.

“Alright, well it’s an ongoing offer, if you change your mind just let me know. Shall we go sign in and listen to Rufus crap on for 20 minutes?”

“Sounds like a plan Tonksie.”

After listening to a lengthy spiel about situational awareness and how to file reports properly Tonks gave a yawn and made her way outside, happy to be in the sun before apparating to Diagon Alley where they commenced their patrol which consisted mostly of moving along drunks and hassling Mundungus Fletcher and by lunchtime she was so bored she could’ve fallen asleep.

“Dull day. I don’t mind a bit of excitement, least the work goes quicker” she said with a yawn.

“I know lovie, me too – oh wait. Hold that thought. Action time!” he said cheerfully as Kingsley’s lynx patronus appeared in front of them.

“Keyes, Tonks, you’re needed in Hogsmede. There was a disturbance in the Forbidden Forrest earlier and its disrupted a small nest of Acromantula that are frightening the villagers. Please dispose of them.”

“Ugh. Giant spiders?” Tonks winced before realising this probably had something to do with Horcrux removal.

“Let’s be off then. Can’t imagine old Rosmerta will be too impressed having anything scare off her customers again.”

Another apparation later and Tonks stared in horror at the sight of about 50 spiders the size of cars running around the village snapping their pincers wildly while the villagers hid in their houses and shops and peeked out the windows.

“A small nest?” she said incredulously. “Jesus this’ll take more than two of us. Best send for backup you reckon? We might be able to get some of the staff if they’re free as well from the school – shit. Heads!” she quickly shot a bombarda at a large spider that had dropped off the roof as Russell ducked his head and slapped her on the back.

“Thanks for that lovie. I doubt Soph’d be pleased to be stuck with two screaming kids while I live a peaceful decapitated life.”

“Welcome mate. Consider that payment for having me round for dinner the other night. Let’s hop to it then.”

Standing with their backs pressed against each other Tonks quickly sent a corpreal patronus charging off to the school while Russell did the same to the Ministry and slowly set about blasting the spiders to smithereens.

“Ugh!” Tonks shrieked as foul-smelling yellow gunk drenched all over her from a particularly large one who’s legs she had severed. “Is this spider blood? Is it meant to be this colour? That’s fucking revolting!”

Russell turned and caught site of her and promptly doubled over laughing.

“Fuck off mate” she said irritably and scooped a glob of the congealing goop and flung it at him.

“Ergh yuck Tonks. That went in me bloody mouth!”

“Should’ve kept it shut then” she said smartly and grinned at him.

“Nymphadora Tonks. Professional as ever I see” came a dry voice behind her and Tonks whipped around.

“Professor Sprout! Long time no see” Tonks declared joyfully and, eyes glinting with mischief, wrapped her in a hug while her old head of house squealed in disgust.

“Disgusting! Get off me at once you insolent child” she snapped playfully. “You’re not too old to avoid detention you know!”

“Given she is currently grounded for behaving like an uncouth teenager I believe that to be accurate” came another voice and Tonks released her spluttering head of house to open her arms in welcome to McGonogall.

“Minerva! Fancy a hug?” she said cheekily.

“Absolutely not” McGonongall said smartly but the corners of her mouth twitched in amusement as she vanished the goop only for another wave of spiders to charge up towards the village.

“Professors, any idea why the Acromantula have charged into the village?” Russell asked in concern. Tonks bit back a grin to see the slight pink hue to McGonogalls cheeks.

“None at all Mr Keyes. Let’s get rid of them though, shall we?”

Within the next fifteen minutes a dozen Aurors had joined the ranks as well as Lupin who was unable to look her in the eye and Bellatrix who cackled hysterically at the remnants of the yellow goop that had stained her clothes as well as the lingering stench.

“Bloody hell. Time to knock off yet?” Tonks sighed an hour later after blasting what seemed to be the final spider from someones chimney as it attempted to squeeze inside it.

“Think so. Cor Hagrid won’t be pleased will he? Loves his bloody interestin’ creatures. Best not tell him.”

“Agreed!” Tonks said quickly.

“I shall break the news to him gently” McGonogall sighed. “I’ll have Professor Snape come up later and see if he wishes to harvest anything from the corpses and we can dispose of the mess. Thank you for your assistance” she said firmly before rolling her eyes to catch Tonks staring wistfully at the castle in the distance. “And I shall pass on your regards to Miss Granger. I can assure you she will have no desire to be around you with your current odor.”

“She might?” Tonks offered.

“No one with a functioning sense of smell. Come on, lets finish our reports so I can head home and try to not strangle my children” Russell laughed and grabbed her to disapparate.

Chapter Text

Hermione yawned widely as she collapsed onto the train, completely ready for the summer holidays having finally finished with her OWLs.

“You’re here early Hermione” Harry observed. “Everything okay?”

“Yes, I was just resisting the urge to hex Lavender” Hermione said tiredly. “I’ll be so pleased to be back home.”

“Yeah me too. Are Remus and Bella appparating?”

“Yes, I think Snape and McGonogall will be heading to Murrook for dinner tonight as well. Professor Snape has finally agreed to let me take the Dark Mark off him, thank goodness.”

“I agree. He’ll be much safer now” Harry said firmly and Hermione smiled and pet his knee, pleased to see his personal growth.

Pulling out a book to read instead Hermione allowed herself to relax as the train set off and had almost drifted off to sleep about as they grew close to London when the carriage door flung open.

“Malfoy!” Ron snarled and drew his wand only to falter when Hermione silently disarmed him.

“Granger!” He gasped and Hermione held her hand up to stop either of the boys from moving forwards and tentatively stepped forward. The usually proud, spiteful Slytherin looked like death warmed up. The dark rings under his terrified eyes were worse than Hermione’s and he looked desperately as though he was fighting an internal battle to flee the room.

“Put your wands away everyone. Malfoy. What is it?”

“I can’t – I’m sorry” he wheezed, looking as though he was struggling for breath.

“You want to say something, but you can’t - a vow” she guessed quickly and he nodded. “Can you write it down?” she said, quickly grabbing his forearm as he looked like he tried to lunge for the door but stopped himself, stumbling. He shook his head wildly.

“Focus” she instructed firmly. “Is there going to be an attack? Is it Voldemort?” Instead of a verbal response he simply gurgled and looked exasperated with himself.

“This could be a trap!” Ron warned and Hermione shook her head, maintaining eye contact with the blonde.

“Look at him. He’s trying to tell us the truth. Take a deep breath” she urged as he closed his eyes to collect himself.

“Aurors – a trick.” he gasped. “I’m sorry...my – my mother” he muttered going slightly blue in the face but clenching her wrist desperately.

“Stop! Stop trying to tell us before you kill yourself. Breath Malfoy” she said, yelping as he sunk to the ground gratefully sucking air into his lungs, mind whirring as she tried to think of a way around the Vow.

“Harry, Ron, send a Patronus to the school and Murrook, it looks like Voldemort is making his move.”

“Too late” Ginny whispered in horror as a corporeal swan appeared in the room hissing in a French accent.

“Everyone, some of zee off duty Aurors are under attack at zeir ‘omes. We ‘ave all gone to ‘elp. Merde, when zee train stops you must rendevouz at Murrook immediately, we shall not be zeir to escort you. Stay safe!”

Hermione swallowed as she felt worry bubble up inside her, a voice in the back of her head chanting 'Tonks Tonks Tonks' over and over. Distracting her from her thoughts came a tugging at her ankle.

“Granger” Malfoy gasped desperately. “No!” he wheezed and Hermione fought down an irrational urge to kick him for his lack of communication he wasn’t able to help.

“Can we Portkey from the train?” Ginny asked.

“No there’s wards on it, unless we wanted to leap from it while it moves and hope we can disappear before we smash into the ground” Hermione warned. “What are we going to do with him?” she asked, gesturing wildly at Malfoy.

“We should bring him back to Murrook. He’ll be safe there until Moody can interrogate him and make sure he’s safe. We can explain when they get back” Harry said firmly and Ron begrudgingly nodded.

“You’re a good man Harry Potter” Ginny said and kissed him on the cheek while he blushed.

“That’s that then I suppose. Why don’t you bind him and wrap him in your cloak, we can levitate him off the train and portkey to home when we get out of the station so no one will see him leaving with us.”

“On it! Help us out Gin” Harry said reaching for his trunk and rummaging through it. “Alright Malfoy, we’re going to bind you now but we won’t hurt you so don’t worry” he said calmly drawing his wand. Malfoy nodded before his already pale disposition increased suddenly and he tried to jump to his feet.

“It’s for your own good Malfoy!” Harry said irritably. “Just fucking hold still won’t you - “

A sudden jolt went through the train and Hermione was deafened by screams as the train lurched off its tracks and landed on its side, skidding through the grass. Hermione yelped as Ron smashed into her as they fell with a thud onto the window which shattered. She pushed him off and tried to shake her head to clear the ringing in her ears. Managing to shove him off she quickly glanced over herself to make sure everything was still attached and winced at the feeling of glass in her back.

“Please disembark the train and leave the scene. The authorities have been notified” came a detached womans voice that echoed through the carriages that Hermione realised sounded like the automated voice from the Ministry of Magic elevator and the sounds of windows smashing filled her ears as students left from the train and portkeyed away, tried to apparate or simply sprinted into the paddocks alongside them. Jumping to her feet she waved at her back and Ginny who had clambered to her feet quickly waved her wand and Hermione grit her teeth as chunks of glass were sucked painfully out of her back.

“Sorry Hermione” she apologised.

“It’s fine. Harry, Ron, get up. Wands out” she hissed. “Where’s Malfoy?”

“He’s gone! The slimy git stole my cloak!” Harry snarled.

“Don’t worry about that now. We need to make sure all the younger students are out and see who’s out there. Split up. You two check those last three carriages and try hurry up the Ministry” she said and pulled Harry to her, casting a disillusionment charm over them both and creeping towards the front of the train while the Weasleys went to the back.

“It’s Voldemort, isn’t it” Hermione said quietly and Harry nodded.

“I can still feel it in my scar. Just a twinge. He’s near” Harry replied grimly.

As they stepped quietly into the next carriage Hermione swallowed the bile in her throat at the site in front of her. A carriage of first year Hufflepuffs were completely mangled where one of the train benches had come loose and crushed them between the chair and a wall. There was blood everywhere.

“We should check them” Harry whispered and Hermione took a moment to collect herself and nodded.

“The Portkey wards are down. We should send them all to St. Mungos” Hermione whispered after waving her wand. “Move them all so they are touching.” Biting back a sob she gently lifted one of the little students who was barely breathing and with shaking hands placed her on the floor next to a large chunk of the roof that had fallen in and tucked her hair out of her eyes. A grim faced Harry did the same with a quietly crying girl who was missing an arm and bleeding profusely from her leg.

“Shhh it’s alright” Harry soothed. “We’ll make sure you go someplace safe. Chin up, the battles not yet lost.” The tiny blond girl smiled weakly as Hermione ensured everyone alive, dead and in between was touching the warped metal and waved her wand.

“Portus.” It disappeared and Harry pulled Hermione in for a quick embrace.

“It’ll be alright. Next carriage” he said gamely and Hermione nodded.

Making their way through another few carriages where they quickly dispersed of anyone they could find Hermione carefully opened a door, wand drawn, and found it opened into a large crater where the back half of the train had separated from the front. Hermione noted they had yet to see a Slytherin and filed it away for future reflection. Screams could be heard from ahead of them.

“Is he still here?” Hermione breathed quietly and Harry nodded.

“Come on. It’s only been a few minutes. Let’s see if we can draw him away from the train until help arrives” Harry said bravely, jaw set, and Hermione squeezed his hand, hoping that moment would be soon.

Creeping through the carnage Hermione breathed deeply to calm herself and steady her hand, recalling the drills Bella, Tonks, Sirius and Moody had been putting them through for months now. Senses on high alert she stepped carefully through the rubble in an attempt to mask any sounds of her approach and could sense Harry doing the same behind her. She bit back a hysterical, terrified giggle at the thought he was finally being a silent panther in the night and continued to move forwards, eyes scanning for any signs of Death Eaters or the Dark Lord and the hot, nervous feeling she had in her stomach grew harder to ignore

“Impedimenta!” she heard Harry cry suddenly and gasped as a masked Death Eater was blown into a wall, dropping Luna Lovegood where he had held her pinned against the train carriage.

“POTTER! HE’S HERE!” came a loud gravelly voice from deeper in the carriage as five masked Death Eaters appeared from the wreckage and began circling where they stood frozen, perfectly disillusioned.

“Come out now Potter, we know you’re here” came a sing song voice and Hermione scowled recognising the voice of Rabastan Lestrange. If only Bellatrix had managed to destroy him like she did his brother.

“Back to back, offensive, on my count” Harry breathed almost silently and Hermione squeezed his arm again in acknowledgement.

“One. Two. THREE! BOMBARDA!” Harry yelled as Hermione swung around so they were pressed back to back, clutching onto each others robes to maintain balance.

“CONFRINGO!” Hermione screamed as one of the masked men attempted to step forwards and was blasted in the face, knocking him backwards. “FURNUNCULOUS!” she screamed at another.

“CRUCIO!” Came the cry of someone to her side and Hermione quickly whipped her wand around and muttered a spell to surround her and Harry with tiny birds who were struck by the unforgivable. A hurricane of spells erupted around the paddock as Hermione fought furiously, sweat dripping down her back.

Having cleared three of the Death Eaters she turned to find Harry locked in a heated exchange with Rabsatan Lestrange and leveled her wand at him, the bludgeoning hex on the tip of her tongue only to find herself and Lestrange suddenly violently flung away from each other smacking into a tree. She groaned in pain and confusion seeing her wand arm broken and the bone sticking out of her forearm and cursed quietly, still dazed, only to remember where she was and looked up to see Harry and Voldemort gazing at each other in mutual hatred.

“Harry Potter” the man hissed, red eyes gleaming. She felt a warm feeling wash over her to see Harry hold his wand firmly, barely a tremor, pointed in his direction. Her brave, brave Harry.

“Tom” he said with a nod, clenching his teeth.

“At last, we face each other. There will be no one to save you now foolish boy” he sneered.

Hermione lifted her unbroken arm, feeling rage radiating from her and cast a wandless banishing curse at the man who batted it away unphased, flicking his hand and Hermione found herself pinned to the tree unable to move.

“Enough” he said in a cold, high voice that carried across the area. “I will destroy you here and now in front of your friends Harry Potter, and know that when I am finished with you I will slowly and painfully destroy everyone you care about.”

“You don’t scare me” Harry grit out. Hermione mused that he was clearly braver than she was. A resigned acceptance that she was about to die had settled in her mind and all she felt was regret that she hadn’t had another chance to tell everyone she loved that she cared about them one more time. A warped relief that Tonks was not here, away from the darkest wizard the UK had seen in 100 years. A wish that Tonks would know she went down fighting. Seeing her parents. Being at peace, finally. Gritting her teeth she struggled fruitlessly against her bonds and the world lit up with furious magic.

Voldemort was clearly playing with Harry. He laughed as Harry sent a flurry of offensive spells and dispersed them with a wave of his arm and sneered before returning fire. Harry dove out of the way, casting as many defensive spells as he could muster and Hermione felt tears running down her face as she fought the bonds that held her, torn between wanting to help the man she viewed as a brother and wanting to close her eyes and wish everything away.

A solid stone wall and cloud of dust suddenly appeared in front of Harry and Hermione’s eyes opened in amazement, she knew he had been improving in conjuring but not that much and felt a hint of glee at Voldemorts cry of rage only for the dust to settle and Albus Dumbledore to appear.

“I think you’ve done enough damage here today Tom” the Headmaster, cold fury etched across his face and Voldemort quickly reengaged. Harry leaped back to his feet and joined the Headmaster in throwing as many jinxes and hexes as he knew at the dark wizard and despite her misgivings towards the Headmaster Hermione was pleased he was there. Seeing Dumbledore was holding his own Voldemort’s eyes flashed and he redirected most of his spells back towards Harry to force Dumbledore onto the defensive and she started as a monstrous steel snake was summonsed from the wreckage of the carriage and lunged for the headmaster.

Dumbledore quickly threw up a defensive shied to deflect the creature and, seeing an opening finally, Voldemort bared his teeth in a grin. Hermione heard the pops of apparition and recognised the fact that half the Ministry appeared to have arrived at the scene and she felt fear clench at her again when she was unable to spot telltale pink hair.

“Avada Kedavra!” Hermione froze in horror as a flash of green flew towards her friend and Dumbledore, eyes flashing with resignation, flashed his wand again. The metal creature warped under his magic and flew towards its creator who had to jump out of the way and Dumbledore, surprisingly sprightly for his age, threw himself in the path of the killing curse half a second before it struck Harry and the look of firm determination left his face as the light left his eyes.

By the time Voldemort had vanished the metal wreckage he looked up to see Harry still very much alive, stating in horror at the Headmaster, and 100 wands pointed at him. With a cry of rage he turned on his heel and disapparated.

Harry dropped the hand of the Headmaster and glanced around wildly before seeing Hermione stuck to the tree, bonds finally unraveling with the disappearance of the caster and caught her before she hit the ground and Hermione burst into tears.

“Are you alright? Shit Hermione, your arm!” Harry said in a watery voice.

“It’s nothing, I’m fine Harry” she said, embracing him with her good arm and sobbing into his shoulder while he clutched her and awkwardly patted her back.

“Harry, Hermione” came a deep voice from behind them and Hermione turned to look at Kinglsey Shaklebolt. “You’re friends are back at Murrook, I suggest you head there as well before this turns into a circus.”

“Kinglsey, where is Tonks?” Hermione asked desperately. “Is she alright?” she felt a strong wave of nausea that almost sent her to her knees when his face dropped.

“She was captured we believe, Miss Granger, but she’s a tough one. Chin up, I’ll be in touch as soon as I have news. Back to Murrook now please” he said and Hermione curled herself into her friend who quickly portkeyed them away.

0x0x0

Tonks groaned as she woke up and tried to stretch before noticing her hands were somehow stuck above her head. Blinking her eyes to clear her vision she glanced up and saw manacles pinning her wrists to the wall and felt a strange sensation washing over her. Gritting her teeth she attempted to morph into someone larger and bend the manacles without success as she was only able to morph up to her elbows.

“Okay ouch” she muttered before jumping as a wheezing voice came from the corner.

“Magical suppression wards in the manacles. I’m impressed that you could morph as much as you did my dear. Nymphadora I presume?”

“Correct. Aunty Narcissa? Lovely to meet you officially. Are we going to be dungeon buddies?”

“It appears so. Us as well as Madame Bones and another girl over there who both appear to be injured and unconscious but still breathing.” Tonks turned away and glanced into the other corners to find she and her aunt were not the only ones in the room.

“Fuck. Oh its Fleur. Fleur! Boss! Oi! Wake up!” Tonks yelled, shaking her manacles. Amelia twitched somewhat and Fleur mumbled something quietly in French. “Alright then... CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!” Tonks shouted loudly in the voice of her mentor and Amelia and Fleur’s eyes shot open in fright.

“Auror Tonks! And...Narcissa Malfoy and Fleur Delacour. In a dungeon. This seems like the start of a bad joke” Amelia sighed.

“Indeed” Fleur muttered, groaning. “Merde, my ‘ead. What ees going on?”

“Perhaps Lady Malfoy can start” Amelia said with narrowed eyes. Narcissa sighed and Tonks had a good look at her. She was horribly disheveled and she noted dried blood on her arms and scarring from the manacles that held her wrists. Her hair was oily and it looked like she hadn’t eaten, slept or bathed in weeks.

“Of course. When I discovered Bellatrix was alive I suspected she was with Andromeda and attempted to reach out to them to...to flee the Manor with Draco. The Dark Lord intercepted the letter before it left. Lucius brought me to the dungeons, I’ve been down here for several months now” she said bitterly. “Lesser members of His Inner Circle have been guarding me, they’ve not been kind. They have spoken openly about the Dark Lord’s plans though. He intended to have his men attack the homes of registered Aurors as a distraction while he himself attacked the Hogwarts Express” she said, voice quaking. “It was my son’s friends Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle who brought you here some time ago. I haven’t seen my son.” Tonks could feel the fear and pain radiating off the woman from where she was sitting a few meters away.

“It’s okay Narcissa. We’ll make sure we get out of here. We will fix it.” Tonks said firmly, proud her voice didn’t quake.

“I hope so, Nymphadora. I hope so. I had originally been kept in the dungeons in the Manor but when one of the house elves attempted to free me I was moved to one of the other Manors. Goyle Senior judging by how much I’ve seen of him. If there is one silver lining to this it is that I believe Draco’s friends were tasked with catching one or two underage children to use as hostages or the head of the DMLE and bringing them here.”

“Lady Malfoy, I am the head of the DMLE” Amelia said in confusion, giving Tonks a look that clearly read she was concerned for Narcissa’s mental health.

“Ah yes but Vincent and Gregory are not known for their intelligence. They haven’t realised they caught you” Narcissa said with a faint smile. “From what I heard they think they have captured an Auror in Nymphadora here and a random citizen. They’ve been gone for hours and I haven’t heard them return with any children.”

“They didn’t recognize me?” Amelia asked, clearly torn between indignation and amusement.

“And what of me?” Fleur asked.

“Love, I think I can say with some certainty why they captured you” Tonks said with a grimace that was echoed by Amelia and Narcissa. “I’m fairly certain a Veela will be a lovely treat for the Death Eaters.” Fleur glared and Tonks could see her facial features become somewhat more...avian.

“I should like to see zem try” she hissed.

“How did you all end up here?” Narcissa asked. “Where you together?”

“We were together at our safe house. I got a Patronus from one my partner, Russell Keyes” Tonks said as the memories rushed back and she felt a tightness in her chest. “Amelia put a glamour on to come and help and she and I went there, the others went to the Ministry to see where else needed assistance. When we got there and there were no signs of life. I think Greyback had been there. He’d attacked Russell and his family.” Tonks looked at the ceiling, swallowed the lump in her throat and willed herself not to cry, remembering the feeling of being too late when she had seen her friend and partner’s body in bits at the front door when the wards had broken. She hadn’t been able to make herself go upstairs to check on Sophie and little 4 year old Benji and tiny baby Jade. Amelia had stated it was her responsibility as Department Head and had come downstairs and vomited into the bin. “After Amelia went through the house a dozen other Death Eaters appeared, not very good ones. We fought most of them back and when she stepped onto the rug on the floor in the sitting room I realised it hadn’t been there a few weeks ago when I went around for dinner. As soon as she stood on it I realised it was a Portkey so I tried to fling her out of the way but must have been too late because we were both sent here. We arrived in some pitch black room, got stunned and I woke up here.”

“You tried to push me out of the way? I thought you just tripped over” Amelia said with a kind smile and Tonks appreciated the attempt at a joke to distract her from falling to pieces. She really was a good boss.

“Yes well, you make sure you remember me heroically trying to save your life when it’s time for my next annual review” Tonks replied with a watery grin. “How’d you end up here, Frenchie?”

“I went to zee Ministry building with William and Sirius, zee Ministry itzelf was fine but zeir were reports coming in from everywhere zat the Auror homes were under attack. Zankfully most of zem had portkeyed to safety so we went to one of ze homes in Wiltshire and we were ‘eavily outnumbered. When zey attacked William I must ‘ave transformed, zey worked to separate me from zem and managed to stun me. My ribs, I think, are broken as is my ankle.”

“Any chance you can transform now and melt these manacles?” Tonks asked hopefully. After a few moments of intense concentration Fleur shook her head.

“Non. I can partially transform but only to my forarms. I will not try zee wings, it is a tad petite in here for zat I think.”

“Same here then. What about the allure?”

Fleur simply cocked an eyebrow and Tonks felt a wave of desire wash over her brain before she shook her head. Feur and Amelia both snorted at her dazed expression.

“Well, that was embarrassing. So boss, whats the plan?”

“Well I have my clothes but no wand or portkey. Has anyone else in here fared any better?”

A trio of women shook their heads and Amelia sighed before Tonks’ face lit up.

“Wait! I have two more spare portkey rings but I’ve got them as toe rings. Its a muggle thing, Hermione suggested it. So if we can get out of these manacles and get hold of a wand two of us could get out!”

“Well done Auror Tonks” Amelia grinned. “Miss Delacour and Lady Malfoy I assume?”

“Of course!” Tonks agreed heartily.

“What?” Fleur asked aghast while Narcissa stared at them open mouthed. “You were ze only one sensible enough to properly hide ze portkeys and you wish to stay ‘ere?”

“I agree, Nymphadora...surely the Malfoys have already caused you enough pain? I couldn’t possibly leave you here with those wretched men while I flee to safety.”

“Fleur! You are probably in the gravest danger of us all being a Veela and Narcissa is in no fit shape to try and fight her way out of anywhere, looks like she hasn’t had a decent meal in months. When we get free you and Narcissa can bugger off and get help and have a touching family reunion with Bella and Mum, and Amelia and I will stay and mess with their heads. If they are as stupid as you say it’ll be a right laugh” Tonks said bravely “and for the love of Merlin please don’t call my Nymphadora” she said with a wince.

“I order you to comply as the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement” Amelia said sagely. “That said, you must promise to find Susan and ensure she is safe as soon as you are able until I can get there myself.”

“Of course” Fleur nodded sadly while Narcissa looked away to hide her watery eyes.

The sound of a door opening echoed in the dungeon and the women shared a look. “Showtime!” Tonks hissed and braced herself, pleased to have something to focus on that wasn’t the horror of what had happened to her partner and the unpleasant swirling feeling in her stomach of not knowing where Hermione was and if she and everyone else was safe.

“Mother?” came a watery voice and the spitting image of Lucius Malfoy appeared in teenage form.

“Is that Harry’s cloak?” Tonks demanded angrily.

“Yes, I, ah, I had to borrow it I’ll give it back I’m sorry” he rambled. “When the train derailed I had to flee, Nott and Crabbe and Goyle were onto me, I had nowhere to go. Potter and Granger and the Weasleys all went changing off to face the Dark Lord.”

“What?” Tonks asked in horror “Fuck, are they alright? Why the fuck would they try and fight fucking Voldemort?!”

“I don’t know, I don’t know! I’m sorry! I’m sorry for everything” Malfoy cried and sunk to his knees. “I won’t ever forgive myself, I tried to warn them but the vow wouldn’t let me. I’m sorry!”

“Draco, settle down child” Narcissa said firmly. “We will right our wrongs. Now calm down.”

Malfoy took a few breaths and wiped at his eyes.

“I’m sorry for yelling at you little Malfoy. I’m just worried. Okay mate, got your wand? Good. I need you to check if there are portkey wards here.” Giving the boy an appraising look Tonks observed he looked as miserable and in poor health as his mother and sighed. Family is family, after all.

“No, no portkey wards.”

“Good work. Okay can you take these manacles off?” Amelia asked.

“No, I’m sorry. Only the Inner Circle have the key.”

“Aright, never mind that then mate. What I need you to do is come over here and take off my right shoe” Tonks said calmly.

“What?” Draco asked looking confused.

“Zee shoe, Meester Malfoy. You must remove eet” Fleur injected helpfully.

“What good will that do?” he asked.

“I have portkey rings on my toes. Put one on your mother and one on the helpful French bird then you’re going to Portkey them away. THEN you are going to make yourself look less like a ponce and more like a muggle, apparate to the petrol station in Cloughton on Medowie Road and wait until someone from the good guys side comes to get you and take you to the safe house. It might take a while, they will no doubt interrogate your mother and want to make sure it’s not a trap and they might all still be out being heroic. Do not draw attention to yourself. Got it?”

“What do I do while I wait?” he asked. Tonks supposed in his current state he really did need to spoon feed him all the details, the kid was obviously a wreck.

“Buy a hat and cover your hair, it makes you stick out a bit. Ever had a burger?” he shook his head. “Buy yourself a works burger and chips, a coffee and a can of pepsi max. Buy a newspaper and read that while you wait. You look like you need a good feed kid.”

“Okay. Buy a hat and food. Wait at the petrol station. What is a petrol station?”

“Its a place you go to buy fuel for cars which are big metal things that people use to move around in. You’ll be safe there because no proper pureblood will have the foggiest clue what one is.”

“How do they work?” he asked curiously.

“Erm. Ask Hermione when you see her.”

“Hermione Granger? How do you know Granger?” he asked in surprise.

“Tonks ees, ‘ow you say, shagging ‘er?” Fleur said innocently. Amelia sighed and Tonks grinned wickedly while the Malfoys looked horrified.

“You're joking, right? I can’t believe we’re related” Draco shuddered as he unlaced her shoe.

“Wait ‘til you meet Bella” Tonks said with a laugh, willing the voice in her head to believe that everyone would be fine and rolled her eyes as he tentatively pulled off her sock. “Come on mate it’s not in my knickers, it’s just a little foot.”

“That was disgusting. Alright, mother...Miss Delacour” Draco said, placing the portkey rings on each of their fingers. “Wait, it won’t hurt portkeying while in the manacles will it?” he said, eying his mother with concern.

“It might break their wrists Mr Malfoy, but nothing more than that” Amelia said kindly. “Easily fixed.”

“I can go first Draco” Fleur said with a smile. That way you can be assured zat your Maman will be fine.”

“Thank you, Miss Delacour” Narcissa said with a smile. Draco pulled his wand, tapped it to the ring and muttered the incantation as Fleur disappeared with a crack. Tonks winced at the sound, knowing it certainly would have hurt.

“I’m sorry, mother. I’ll see you soon” Draco whispered and repeated the motion as she schooled her features and disappeared.

“You did well, Mr Malfoy.”

“You sure did mate. We’re family, so we’ll be seeing a lot of each other. You’re whole life will be different soon, better” Tonks said with a smile. “Now I have three more thing to ask of you before you go, okay?”

“Anything!” Malfoy said hurridly, looking as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders with his mother out of the dungeon.

“First, chuck a glamour on Amelia Bones over there so if anyone with more brain cells than the goons show up they don’t recognize her and second, get me a knife or something and hide it up my sleeve.”

“Alright, back in a moment” Draco said and returned moments later looking determined with two large steak knives, stashing one in Tonks sleeve and one in Amelia’s. “What’s next?”

“The most absolutely important one! Put my sock and shoe back on before you go. I’m not fleeing the compound barefoot and these are my best Doc Martens.”

0x0x0

“Being a hostage isn’t very exciting is it?” Tonks asked several hours later.

“No, it certainly is not.” Amelia said with a sigh. “Surely someone will come and check on us soon. What will we do when they arrive?”

“Mess with their heads. That’s what Moody would do.”

“I agree, Auror Tonks. Will we take turns?”

“Sure. Let’s make it a game. If you make one cry its 10 points. If they swear its one point. If they leave the room in a huff it’s five points.”

“Excellent. I look forward to seeing your first attempt then” Amelia smirked.

Tonks relished the opportunity to focus on something to do other than think about her family, Hermione, Russell and his family. The thoughts swirled around the back of her mind, commanding her attention and she forced them back, focusing on her Occlumency barriers. She was grateful, two hours after the Malfoys and Fleur had left and 15 minutes after deciding to play the game, that someone arrived stomping heavily down the stairs.

“Ready?” Tonks asked and Amelia nodded after a moments hesitation and Tonks bit back a wicked grin as she forced her features to morph, making herself as busty and blond as possible.

“Hi fellas” Tonks said in a sultry voice as two large teenagers walked into the room. “You must be Vincent and Gregory. Can I call you Vinnie and Greg?” she asked.

“Wernt there more of ‘em down ‘ere?” the tall one – Goyle, Tonks thought, asked. Crabbe, however, was leering at Tonks.

“Feisty little one are ya?” Crabbe asked and grinned stupidly. Tonks sent him a wink and tried not to vomit when he winked back.

“I’m very feisty Vinnie” Tonks grinned as he stepped closer. “Perhaps you could find out just how much” she said, fluttering her eyes at him as he strolled over. She waited until he was positioned directly in front of her and swiftly brought her foot up between his legs into his groin. He went white and dropped like a large, ugly sack of potatoes.

“Fuck” he wheezed as his eyes filled with tears.

“What about you big boy? Your turn now?” Tonks hissed in challenge to Goyle who was staring at his fallen comrade in shock and backed away from her when her eyes glowed red only to step within range of Amelia who shot a grin to Tonks and quickly kicked him in the groin as well before kicking him in the back so he tumbled and fell onto a still whimpering Crabbe.

“These birds are fuckin’ crazy mate” Goyle mumbled and began crawling to the door, followed slowly by Crabbe.

“A tie?” Amelia asked.

“Bugger off boss! Your one didn’t even cry” Tonks said cheerfully. 6 – 16, my way!

0x0x0

Thirty minutes later the duo stumbled back into the room, wands drawn.

“You’re turn to lead Madame Bones” Tonks said quietly with a grin.

“Right then!” Goyle announced, clearly attempting to set a terrorizing tone. “We checked the notes, there was more people down ‘ere last time. You need to tell us so we can tell all them lot upstairs, this is our job to get the Mark, see.” He declared this with such confidence Tonks was convinced he was expecting them to applaud his initiative and comply with all directions to allow him to be branded by a maniac.

“Was there?” Amelia asked innocently.

“Yep!” Crabbe said, arms folded and standing carefully away from everyone.

“How do you know?” Amelia asked.

“The notes! Can’t you ‘ear woman?” Goyle snapped. “Now where the fuck did they go?”

“What if your notes are wrong?”

“They aint! I can count to four! One, two, three four!”

“Erm, that’s not counting to four. You missed a number.”

Goyle and Crabbe threw each other a concerned look. Tonks laughed softly to herself seeing him tap out to four with his fingers on his pants subtly.

“No, I didn’!”

“Of course you did you poor boy. Didn’t anyone ever teach you to count? One, Two, Three, Blun, Four, Five, Six - “

“Blun!” Thats not a number now is it?” Goyle said angrily.

“Of course it is. Blun is before four and after three. In the tens it goes thirteen, blunteen, fourteen, fifteen - ” Tonks interjected helpfully.

“Shut the fuck up!” Goyle shouted angrily.

“What my colleague is trying to say, ladies, is that two people from this room are missing” Crabbe said firmly. Goyle shot him a pleased look.

“He’s right! It don’t matter if I missed blun. Two are missing! How did they get out?”

“Magic” Amelia drawled and smiled widely. Goyle and Crabbe looked apoplectic. Tonks roared with laughter.

“You fuckin’ baggy old cunt!”Greg said menacingly stepping towards her. Amelia flicked her foot up and her shoe flew off into his face. Crabbe stepped forward and copped the other one. Glaring at her from a bloody nose and split lip respectively they left the room briefly.

“They aren’t casting any spells” Tonks observed quietly. “What do you think that means?”

“That they either know who we are and the Dark Lord wants us himself, or they’ve been banned from bringing wands in here in case we steal them. Or they are too stupid to remember they have wands” Amelia mused.

“Let’s hope it’s either of the last two then” Tonks said with a shiver before laughing uproariously. “Blun. What a fucking classic” she said cheerfully.

“Still got it” Amelia said with a wink. “I suspect they will be back once they’ve cleaned up, it’s your turn next. God I wish I still had my shoes on these floors are filthy” Amelia sighed.

“Oh I just had the best idea!” Tonks gasped as they heard the door creak open again and two sets of footsteps charge down the stairs and concentrated on another morph.

“What is the meaning of this” Tonks hissed with the face and voice of Lord Voldemort “unchain me at once you worthless fools!”

“My lord!” Goyle gasped in horror. Crabbe sat on the floor looking as though he was about to faint. Amelia stood in the corner laughing silently, tears of mirth streaming down her face.

“What are you waiting for!” Tonks bellowed.

“Of course, my Lord, let me get the keys” Crabbe said and went to dash up the stairs before Goyle grabbed him.

“Wait you idiot! The Dark Lord doesn’t wear bloody shirts that says Ziggy Stardust on ‘em with lovely pink fingernails now does he?”

“How dare you! I am the Dark Lord! I wear what I wish!” Tonks hissed and flashed her eyes red. “Release me at once or suffer the consequences!” Goyle looked ready to reconsider his position when suddenly a wave of magic washed over them all and Tonks felt herself return to her normal female self with pink hair in surprise.

“Someone is here” Crabbe whispered. “Forget these two, lets get back upstairs!” The two quickly scampered away.

“Nymphadora Tonks you must be due for a promotion” Amelia wheezed, still laughing. “You win, I concede defeat.”

“Pleasure doing business with you boss, who do you think has arrived? Will the Dark Wanker like my impersonation?”

“We’ll both die with a smile on our faces” Amelia said fondly before a loud screeching sound ripped through the building and they winced. “What the bloody hell was that?”

Tons cocked an ear and couldn’t help but burst out laughing when music started loudly blaring through the building. “Its Duran Duran! Hungry Like The Wolf” she spluttered.

“I have no idea what you just said” Amelia said blankly.

“Muggle music. Its the calvary, they’ve arrived!”

“Didn’t a similar thing happen with music when Bellatrix mysteriously escaped Azkaban?” Amelia asked suspiciously.

“Erm, perhaps” Tonks said, trying to hide a guilty flush.

“I don’t even want to know” her boss sighed.

“You really, really don’t.”

0x0x0

Hermione stalked quietly through the hallway of Goyle manner, 80’s music blaring in her ears filled with righteous fury that someone would dare try and hold her girlfriend hostage, or attack a train full of children. With Bellatrix prowling along behind her and half the other occupants of Murrook outside causing a distraction on the grounds she stared around impatiently looking for a sign to find her beloved.

“Is it bad I want blood?” Hermione asked Bellatrix quietly.

“Absolutely not. Why do you think you and I are the only ones in here and we left everyone else outside?” Bellatrix replied from behind her and she could hear the wicked glee in her voice. Images of Bellatrix’s reaction to her now deceased husband flashing through her mind and Hermione reflected that she had asked either the best or worst person to answer that question before shrugging and drawing her knife in her wand arm, flexing it gently. The arm was wrapped in a muggle cast to protect it while it healed. Andy had not been impressed that she wished to come along but had known trying to deter her would be a loosing battle.

Stepping into the shadows of the corridor as a large man stepped into the hallway glancing around quickly.

“Don’t hesitate now” Bellatrix breathed in her ear. “Hex him, knife him, or let me.” Hermione glanced quickly at Bellatrix and turned back to the Death Eater in front of her before flicking her wrist. The knife sailed through the air and lodged firmly in the Death Eater’s throat. With a quiet gurgle he sunk to the floor.

“Good shot kitten” Bellatrix whispered and squeezed her shoulder. Hermione remembered a discussion with Ginny months – how it felt like years ago - about what they would and wouldn’t do to protect the ones they loved and silently, wandlessly summoned the knife back into her waiting hand and continued down the hallway. This was not like when she went to protect her parents. Last time she was being hunted. This time these people would be her prey before they could hurt anyone else.

“If I remember correctly, the dungeons are through that door up ahead and down the stairs.”

Hermione nodded and continued her journey, nearly jumping out of skin when two more masked men stepped into the room and spotted the duo but were silenced before they could make a noise by Hermione and her friend and mentor. Hermione winced when Bellatrix wiped the blood off her own knife onto her coat.

“Yuck Bella! Wipe it on your own clothes!” she hissed.

“This is new! I don’t want to get blood on it” Bellatrix replied petulantly.

“Why would you wear new clothes on a rescue mission?” Hermione asked incredulously.

“I wanted to look nice!” Hermione rolled her eyes as Bellatrix stuck her tounge out at her.

“Well cast a bloody scourgify” Hermione bickered as they moved swiftly towards the dungeons.

“No! I’ve decided this is a no-magic mission. First person to use any magic before we get to the dungeon looses.”

“Fine” Hermione replied with a sigh.

Stepping towards a door Hermione peered through the crack and ducked down to permit Bellatrix to view. There were five Death Eaters in there all frantically getting dressed in their battle robes and hunting for masks.

“How will we do this one with no magic oh great and powerful Bella?” Hermione asked quietly with a grin.

“Just follow my lead!” Bellatrix replied, eyes alight with joy. With Debbie Harry starting to croon and set the mood Bellatrix bellowed out a shriek of nonsensical swear words and charged into the room and with surprising strength quickly launching the coffee table at the shocked occupants before whirling knives around with utter abandon. Hermione stepped into the room and narrowed her eyes when one of the Death Eaters, Jugson if she remembered correctly, leveled his wand in her direction and quickly launched her own, feeling grim satisfaction when he sank to the floor.

She was startled to find herself kicked over and quickly straddled by another dark wizard who wrenched a knife out of his side and made to stab her in the throat before Hermione quickly summoned her knife out of Jugson and deflected it, jabbing him in the eye with her spare hand and thrusting the knife between his ribs.

“Stab and twist kitten, stab and twist” Bellatrix stated from above her. Miraculously there was not a drop of blood on her and Hermione shrugged and obliged, pulling the knife out only to have a spurt of blood splatter all over her.

“Oh that’s disgusting” Hermione muttered.

“No spells yet or you’ll loose” Bellatrix remarked cheerfully and pulled her to her feet. “Come on now kitten, just down here.”

Creeping towards the staircase and making their way down they paused at a small alcove.

“I don’t feel right about killing these idiots. They’re in my year at school. I don’t think they can even count to five” Hermione whispered.

“Get creative then” Bellatrix replied and shoved her into the room, cackling. Crabbe and Goyle turned and looked at her with shock.

“What’s the mudblood doing here?” Goyle muttered.

“Who cares? Umbridge wants her so let’s chuck her downstairs” Crabbe replied gleefully as he drew his wand.

With a snarl Hermione lunged forward and picked up a chair which she smashed into his face, smirking as he knocked over Goyle. Goyle quickly pushed Crabbe off who had clearly been knocked unconscious and fumbled for his own wand before coping the remnants of the chair to his own head.

“Perfect delivery. Outstanding, kitten.” Bellatrix said cheerfully from her position on the stairs. “Though by the sounds of that you really should have let me kill Umbridge after Christmas.

“Perhaps you’re right” Hermione sighed. “Ah well, lets finish this.”

Stepping through the final door, knife ready, she smiled widely to see her witch beaming at her from across the room.

“Took you bloody long enou – your arm! Thats not your blood is it?”

“No, I’m fine love. Are you okay? Both of you?”

“Yeah we’ll be bloody dandy once we’re out of these manacles. Get a key?” Tonks asked hopefully.

“No? Who has a key?” Bellatrix asked in confusion.

“Someone in the Inner Circle” Amelia confirmed.

“Well if you think I’m going to pat down all those dead people you are mistaken. This is a new dress you know, Amelia” Bellatrix said haughtily.

“Can’t we just blast it?” Hermione asked. “We got to the dungeon, the magic-free challenge is over.”

“The magic-free challenge?” Amelia asked incredulously. “How the hell did you get down here with blood all over you and no magic?”

“Knives” Hermione said and pulled hers out. “Its been..sticky. Right hold still then.” Waving her wand over the manacles she whispered every spells she could think of but they held fast. “Well this is irritating.”

“Perhaps we should leave them here and just claim Goyle Manor for ourselves” Bellatrix suggested with a smirk. “They can be part of the décor. We can move the living room down here so we can talk to them.”

“Fuck off Bella, I got you out of Azkaban, you get me out of the dungeon” Tonks snapped playfully before her face dropped. “Wait. Oops. Sorry Amelia” Tonks said sheepishly.

“Don’t tell me anything. I’ve gone temporarily deaf” the head of the DMLE sighed.

“Alright let Aunty Bella take a look then, if we can’t just leave them here. I suppose it’d be a bit of an inconvenience watching them try to shag with Dora here stuck to the wall” Bellatrix said with a cheeky grin and gently shoved Hermione out of the way. After a few minutes she let out of a growl of frustration.

“Well what do we do now?” Tonks asked.

“Close your eyes!” Bellatrix replied with a smirk and drew her wand. With a flick the wall around the manacles exploded and Tonks fell away from the wall, manacles still attached to both her wrists and the large stone brick in the wall it had been attached too, covered in dust.

“Bella! Couldn’t you have cast a shield spell or something? I’ve got dust and wall shite all over me” Tonks moaned as she got to her feet. Hermione ducked underneath the chains and wrapped her arms around Tonks neck and kissed her firmly.

“I’m so glad you’re alright” she murmured before wincing as the wall exploded around Amelia.

“Me too. I was so worried” Tonks whispered. “Is everyone alright?”

“The Weasleys and Neville and Luna are fine. Narcissa and Draco have been warded into a Villa after a strong batch of Dreamless Sleep to knock them out until we have time to deal with them. Susan is fine too, by the way Amelia. She wanted to come but Bella warded her into the dining hall so she couldn’t get away.”

The relief on Amelia’s face was obvious as she let out a chuckle. “She will not have liked that. Come on then. Is there a signal for when everyone needs to leave?”

“Yes, Bella’s been looking forward to it since we found that wizarding radio” Hermione snorted. Quickly making their way upstairs towards the front door. Hermione growled in irritation when she had to drive out of the way to avoid a jinx and everyone winced in disgust when Tonks charged forward and swung her manacles with the stone still attached into the face of the death eater with a sickening crunch as the brick connected with his skull.

“That was disgusting” Amelia said wrinkling her nose. Bellatrix looked delighted.

“Satisfying though. Maybe I’ll get some of those nun-chucks or something to twirl around like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Tonks mused aloud.

“Like the what?” Bellatrix and Amelia asked in unison while Hermione giggled.

“We can explain later. Come on.”

Stepping out the front door Hermione threw a quick glance at the group. Arthur Weasley, Ted, Andromeda, Mad-Eye and Xeno Lovegood all appeared to be largely uninjured bar a few little scrapes and Bellatrix looked at Hermione hopefully.

“Fine Bella, go on then” she said with a grin.

“What was the name of the song again?”

“It’s ‘We Are The Champions’ by Queen” Hermione replied, quickly flicking her wand do deflect a curse sent their way.

“Got it!” Bellatrix cried gleefully as the voice of Freddy Mercury burst forth from the radio. Turning back towards the house she quickly launched fiendfyre at it.

“Not the most subtle signal I’ve seen” Amelia stated dryly.

“Ah but who are we to rain on her parade” Tonks said with a grin. “Alright, portkey me up. I need a shower and to fuss over my girl here.”

Hermione pulled a ring out of her pocket and slipped it onto Tonks’ finger before drawing her wand. “Shall we?”

“Portus!”

0x0x0

Tonks was disappointed to find there was no time either showering nor fussing over her witch upon returning to Murrook, but found herself somewhat relieved to be able to focus on something productive. After settling for scorgifying her clothes she had allowed her minor cuts and scrapes to be healed by Hermione and quickly rallied around Mad Eye who had filled her in on both the train attack as well as the fact that it was likely half the Auror force had been decimated and was shouting out commands and dispersing people to the site of the crash or to the yet unchecked Auror houses in Britain to check for casualties while her father and Snape whipped up as many healing potions as they could on the impromptu lab they had set up in the dining hall to send to Poppy Pomfrey who was on site attending to those who were unable to leave the site of the mangled remains of the train.

“Where do you want me you old bastard?” she asked with forced cheer. He frowned at her and she felt Hermione tense from next to her. Hermione had obviously found out about Russell as she was being filled in on the attacks on the students as well as her work colleagues. Her mood had soured noticeably given the sympathetic looks and seventeen ‘are you alright's?’ she had been asked by different people in different ways but she was in no mood to stop and think about it. Her brief moment of sadness in the dungeon had been replaced by a frustration she was struggling to keep a lid on, she might be free but while she’d been playing games in a dungeon people had been killed.

“I want you staying right here to process the fact that your partner and his family were murdered and you were kidnapped by Death Eaters” Moddy saio calmly. Hermione visibly relaxed to the side of her and Tonks felt a flicker of frustration at both of them.

“What?” she asked incredulously. “You can’t be bloody serious!”

“Lass, you need to sit down for a bloody minute will you, take some time and get your head back in the game. Even Amelia is resting. Go have a shag or something” he said, whispering the last part.

“Absolutely not! Moody, there has to be something I can do somewhere” she said with a scowl, noting in her peripheral vision her hair had turned an angry red. "Please give me something to do so I don’t have to think about all of this." Moody sighed, taking in her agitated energy. “I’m fine. Give me a job.”

“Fine. You go guard Poppy while she works. Send Sirius and Remus back here and I’ll find something else for them to do. You bloody keep your wits around you though girly” he patted her sharply on the back and Tonks could sense his gruff concern. “Take Granger with you. Don’t you bloody go off canoodling when you’re meant to be working though” he warned.

“What? Why does Hermione get to go!” Ron demanded.

“Because she’s shagging an Auror” snapped a tired looking Bill who had paced quickly through the room swigging a pepper up potion before coming to stand next to Moody. “The Simmons family all got out okay and are staying with some friends, I’ve done the wards.”

“Good. What about the Corbetts and the Killians?” Moody asked. Bill shook his head grimly.

“No good” he said quietly. “The eldest Corbett daughter’s been taken to Mungo’s but it doesn’t look good. No one else made it. We’ll have to deal with the...remains...of everyone later.”

Tonks paled and a memory fluttered though the walls of her mind she was desperately trying to keep up of going through training and laughing at Senior Auror David Corbett pulling funny faces from behind a stern Moody to cheer up the battered recruits one day. He had been a Hufflepuff too, one of the only ones in the office and had made a habit of always leaving bruise salve and minor pain potions in all the recruits lockers...and his wife, who’s name she had never even thought to ask, often sending in containers of biscuits and cakes for the Auror office to share.

She thought of Liane Killian pulling her aside early on after one of her early trips out on the beat where being a rare female Auror had meant she had needed to grit her teeth and ignore flak from every one of the blokes they had paired her with so far making lewd comments or suggestions she couldn't do her job being a girl. She had suggested Tonks either ignore them until they stopped or pick one and hand his arse to him and had been the first to laugh and buy her a firewhisky when three days later Raymus Warrington had slapped her on the arse when she squeezed past his cubicle and she had slugged him in the jaw so hard he had fallen through his desk. They had left her alone with a grudging respect after that and Liane had always been so friendly and now she was dead.

“Let’s go” she said quietly to Hermione, shutting her eyes for a moment. She felt an arm on her shoulder but shrugged it off, ignoring the brief stab of guilt, and walked out of the room. Reaching the courtyard she turned. “Where are we going? Where’d the train get stopped?” Hermione seemed torn between looking somewhat wounded and angry but took a deep breath.

“Is there anything you want to talk about, love?” she asked in concern.

“No.” Tonks replied shortly. She ignored the second flare of guilt that flickered inside her as Hermione shut her eyes briefly but held out her arm and grabbed firmly onto Tonks’ sleeve and a moment later they had appeared in a paddock with the wreckage of the train surrounding them. Tonks quickly stalked off to look around while Hermione went in search of Remus and Sirius to send them back to Murrook. She encountered Poppy a few meters away near an enormous crater, looking distinctly frazzled and beyond exhausted.

“Miss Tonks. What are you doing here?”

“Moody sent me to take over for Remus and Lupin to make sure you weren’t attacked or anything while you were here” she said. “Where is everyone?”

“These are the only three students left, just waiting on the beds to be made up at St Mungos” Pomfrey said with surprise. “I’ll only be here another ten minutes, you might as well go back to Murrook.”

Tonks grit her teeth and walked off, determined to avoid the sympathetic looks and haphazard emotions she was feeling for as long as possible and made her way through the wreckage to front of the train, noticing Hermione hovering anxiously nearby but not near enough to engage with her and felt the lick of anger over her once more - frustration that everything was so warped and broken at the moment. After a moments consideration she drew her wand.

“Repairo” she said firmly and the carriage bench fitted itself back to the wall. Redirecting her wand she flicked her wrist to send the broken glass from the shattered windows soaring back into the window.

“Wingardium Leviosa” she said just as calmly, carefully lifting the train from its side and replacing it on its track.

Slowly she made her way up the length of the train, repairing it, fighting back her exhaustion as the hours moved on. Poppy and the remaining students had left around 7pm after shooting her a concerned look as the train slowly mended itself. Hermione had approached her only once more and having received only a shrug an hour later when she had asked Tonks if she needed any help had climbed inside the carriages and appeared to be fixing the smaller details and removing the stains of blackened ash, blood and potions supplies spilled inside. After seeing the flickering of a patronus inside one of the carriages earlier in the evening Tonks had assumed that Moody or her mother had wanted to check where on Earth they were and Hermione must have replied with some sort of explanation for no one had come since and not a word had been spoken to her.

Eventually, shortly after 5am, Tonks had finished fixing the train and bent over in exhaustion, winded and tired but with a sense of satisfaction. Hermione had walked over and without saying a word grasped her arm once more in her still plastered one, apparating them back to the Villa where Tonks had stumbled into the shower and sunk to the floor, allowing the warm water to rush over her and closed her eyes. When she next opened them she was in bed and realised she must have fallen asleep in the shower and Hermione must have moved her to bed.

Checking the time she realised it was about 9am and she had only been home for a few hours she let out a sigh and rolled over only to see a note on her pillow and not the girlfriend she had expected. The anger inside her and been replaced with a a surge of fear and she hastily tore it open, remembering what she had been like the night before.

‘Thought you’d appreciate some more space, you obviously need it. H’

“Oh fuck me” Tonks swore loudly before jumping out of bed. “What the fuck is wrong with me? Get rescued from Death Eaters by my girlfriend who was nearly murdered by Lord Voldemort then turn into a fucking psycho bitch to her when she’s worried about me. How to maintain a healthy relationship, an extremely short story by Nymphadora Tonks” she hissed venomously at herself and tore out of the room, cursing her own stupidity out loud as she pulled on some pants and a singlet and made for the door, flinging it open as she struggled to force her arm though her jumper sleeve.

“Where are you going?’ came a sleepy voice from behind her as she reached the front door and Tonks whirled back around and froze to see brown eyes and a large head of disheveled hair - a dazed Hermione wrapped in a heavy duvet looking suddenly warily at her from the lounge as if expecting to have her head ripped off. “Sorry. It’s not my business, you can just – ah, tell me when you want to oka - “

Tonks quickly stepped towards her, sunk to her knees and placed a chaste kiss to her temple.

“I was looking for you, I thought you left. God I’m so sorry” she said quietly. Hermione raised an eyebrow and gave her a piercing look as if deciding how to respond before sighing and closing her eyes. Tonks braced herself for the worst, deciding she certainly deserved it, only for Hermione to scoot back on the lounge and lift up the duvet.

“Get in. It’s cold and I’ve only had an hours sleep” Hermione sniffed and closed her eyes again. Tonks lifted her head to the ceiling in a silent thanks to whoever had sent Hermione Granger her way and crawled in, feeling some of the tension ebb out of her when Hermione wrapped an arm around her and pulled her closer. “God your feet are fucking freezing” she mumbled sleepily.

“Sorry” Tonks whispered and gently de-tangled Hermione’s fingers from her singlet and pulled them to her lips. Feeling her warmth and affection, guilt washed over her again and the words came easier. “I shouldn’t have treated you like that, it wasn’t - “

“Shush. It’s alright. Go back to sleep.” Tonks felt her eyes water a little when she felt lips press against her shoulder and sniffled but swallowed the swirl of apologies bubbling inside her and settled for squeezing her witches hand and entwining their fingers, hoping it would convey what she was feeling. “Love you.”

“You too, Hermione. You too.”

Chapter Text

Tonks fell off the lounge in surprise what felt like twenty seconds later to a voice bellowing “CONSTANT VIGILANCE” pulling both the duvet and her equally startled girlfriend on top of her.

“Ouch! What the fuck Mad Eye! What’re you – oh for gods sake you can look we aren’t naked” she snapped.

“That’s even worse to wake up to than Bella peering at you” groaned Hermione.

“I wasn’t going to take that risk” the grizzled Auror replied in the most dignified voice he could muster before walking over to the bench and collecting a hot cup of coffee. “This is yours if you want it. Its 1pm. We’re cleaning up after yesterday and need to organise the burials. We’re about to head to Leeds. If you want to come you’ve got ten minutes to get dressed. If not stay here and sleep, you’ve earned it.”

“Leeds? Wha – Oh. Russell” Tonks said, the end of her sentence coming out a whisper.

“It’s not easy loosing a partner lassie. No shame in staying but I wanted to give you the chance to come with Bones and I.”

“No, I – I’m coming” Tonks said firmly, sitting up, taking the coffee. “What are we doing?”

“Taking the family to the Ministry for formal identification. Neither of the Keyes’ had any other family to speak of to identify them so they’ll be needing the Unspeakables to properly identify them as a formality before we arrange their burials. It won’t be pretty” he warned.

“I know. I saw half of it yesterday. Give me a few minutes to change” she said taking another swig of the coffee and handing the rest to Hermione who guzzled it before pulling a disgusted face.

“God that’s revolting. How on Earth do you make your coffee?” Tonks heard her ask as she ducked into the bedroom.

“It’s the Mad-Eye Wake Me Up Special, love. You don’t drink it for the taste” she said with a chuckle as she stepped back into the sitting room and pulled on her boots. “A tablespoon of the cheapest, nastiest coffee powder you fan find mixed with hot water from the tap.” She laughed again as Hermione grimaced.

“I’ll be back in an hour or so love, we can talk then...if you want?” Tonks said hesitantly, still with a whisper in her mind that she needed to clear the air.

“Of course we can. I have so much to tell you” Hermione said and smiled warmly at her.

“Alright, thats enough of that sappy nonsense. Lets get this done” Moody said gruffly.

Tonks swallowed down her hesitation and stepped into the courtyard where she was met with Amelia Bones who gave her a watery smile and Kingsley Shacklebolt who looked more tired and upset than Tonks had ever seen him.

“Last one to do, thank Merlin. Tonks, I’m sure Auror Keyes would appreciate you coming” Amelia said and squeezed her shoulder gently while Tonks braced herself and they apparated to her former partners house. Stepping in the door and seeing Russel’s body Tonks had a strange sensation inside of her, like her poor overwhelmed body didn’t know what emotion to feel so it had settled on feeling nothing instead. Frowning blankly Tonks stood stoically and assisted Amelia with casting the appropriate preservation spells on the mangled mess before them while Moody did scans for magical residue.

“Definitely Greyback” he said with a sigh. “Best go do the same with the wife and kid.”

Tonks paused.

“Kids you mean?”

“He had more than one? Ministry records said he only had one child” Moody said in surprise.

“He had two!” Tonks said in growing alarm. “Benjamin is four. Jade’s under a year old. How’d you miss him crapping on about the horrors of having a pregnant wife all the time?”

Moody and Amelia were staring at her in undisguised horror.

“Only the baby was upstairs, I didn’t even think...” Amelia trailed off.

“I haven’t worked at the Ministry in over 12 months now, I didn't know there was a baby” Moody said, magical eye flicking around wildly, no doubt scanning the house.

“So where’s the other one? Where’s Ben?” Tonks demanded, fighting valiantly to keep her voice from sounding hysterical. “What’s Greyback done with him?”

“Send for some others. I’ll sort upstairs while you look around down here” Amelia said firmly. “Alastor can go to the Ministry and see what he can find out about any reports of a missing child in the past 24 hours.”

Tonks began pacing quickly through the house fighting down a rising feeling of dread. Had Greyback taken him? He was well known for biting children to increase the size of the pack but he usually went for kids older than Benji. Should she call out for him? That seemed faintly stupid but she needed to do something.

“B – Ben? Benji?” she called as she looked through the kitchen and living room. “Are you here mate?” Finishing outside she glanced towards the backyard.

“I’m going to check outside, Amelia!” Tonks called and stepped through the back door, ripped off its hinges, not knowing whether to pray for something to show up or nothing. Finding nothing in the yard she crept towards the fence, noting a small hole that she supposed a kid could squeeze through. Positioning herself to pull herself over the fence she started when there was a loud crack of apparition in the house and Bellatrix stepped outside.

“I heard. Remus and Sirius are inside. Checking the park?” she asked grimly. Tonks nodded and they made their way over the fence, muggle repelling wards in place and stalked slowly into the dense trees. Tonks swore softly and pointed out what seemed to be dried blood to her aunt who frowned deeply and continued to creep forwards, following the trail, hearing nothing but the sounds of the birds chirping around them.

“Look, a shoe” Bellatrix said, using her wand to levitate a tiny chuck taylor. Tonks bit back a sob.

“They look like the ones I got him for his birthday” she said and wiped quickly at her face.

“We can go and get Remus and Sirius, they might be able to -”

Bellatrix was cut off by an enormous blurred mass tackling her to the ground and Tonks whipped out her wand to see they were surrounded. It was Greyback and some of the other members of his pack. He snatched the wand out of her hand and passed it to the werewolf closest to him who pocketed it.

“Where’s the boy?” Greyback growled as he jumped to his feet and pulled Bellatrix up, slamming her against a tree by her throat. Tonks lifted her wand but hesitated seeing seven or eight enormous men in tattered clothes standing around her. “Don’t even think about it girlie.”

“I was going to ask you the same thing, mutt” Bellatrix said in a wheezing voice as she struggled to force Greyback’s arm away from her throat. Tonks narrowed her eyes and waited for a signal, any signal, from the dark witch to act.

“Don’t play stupid with me Lestrange. He had a chance to join me yesterday but the little cunt took off when we were distracted by the Aurors showing up. He’ll only get one more or I’ll tear him to pieces like I did his miserable family.” Tonks felt white hot rage clawing at her again.

“Its Black. And perhaps he didn’t want anything to do with your rancid dog breath” Bellatrix said hoarsely with a mad cackle. “I know I don’t.” Greyback bared his teeth at her and shoved her firmly into the tree and she quickly grabbed a knife from her leg and slashed it up his chest, forcing him backwards. Tonks, letting rage wash over her, flung herself in a circle casting a fire whip that melted the chest of the first two of the pack next to Greyback and forced them all to jump back. Conjuring silver arrows she flung them in a wild circle, trusting Bellatrix to be able to avoid injury herself, and smiled grimly in satisfaction hearing one of the men cry out in pain. She was in no mood to take prisoners.

“Confringo!” she said coldly as a mangy looking younger man flung himself towards her, teeth bared and took a swing only to take the curse directly to the chest and fall over, gasping wildly at the the wounds in his chest, and glanced over her shoulder to find Greyback eying Bellatrix who had begun waving through the scrub, laughing wildly and while he howled in anger and chased her in hot pursuit. Tonks dived to the side and kicked one of the other men who attempted to grab her and rolled on top of him, reaching for a knife from her leg that she plunged into his eye unflinchingly before crying out as she was tackled as Bellatrix had been, landing face down in the dirt with her attacker on her back.

“You’re mine now, whore” came a voice from the man on top of her as two more of the pack jumped down and pinned her legs to the ground allowing the bigger one on top of her, to sniff at her hair and reef her head back. Tonks caught his eye and recognised him from one of the Ministry’s Undesirable posters – Arlick Reszo, rumored to be Greyback’s second in command. “Oh yes, I’ll definitely have some fun with you little witch” he said coldly, reefing her wand out of her hand and flinging it into the bush.

“Don’t fucking touch me you pathetic piece of shit” Tonks shouted, wrenching her face from the mud she was in, trying to heave herself off the ground while he chuckled darkly and ran a hand up the inside of her leg. Tonks bit back the stab of fear she felt bubbling up inside her as he grabbed the back of her shirt and ripped it open, one of his hands pushing her face into the dirt again. Reaching wildly she tried unsuccessfully to find a stick or rock to throw at them before shutting her eyes, focusing and morphing her body to that of one of the gym junkies that she used to gawk at walking down the streets in London, half horrified at how they looked and half admiring their dedication, and pushed herself off the ground with a roar, sending the most powerful wandless impediment jinx she could at the two men who had pinned her legs and relishing the opportunity to jump on Reszo’s face and pummel it.

“Incacerous!” came a cry from behind her and Tonks saw Amelia, Sirius and Lupin had arrived looking murderous and they quickly bound the three werewolves while Tonks scrambled to her feet and charged further into the scrub, picking up her wand and returning to her more familiar petite form.

“Bella! Ben!” she shouted, charging through the shrubbery. “Where are you?”

Reaching a large rock face she paused to listen before charging left stopping when she saw Greyback and Bellatrix in a small clearing up ahead, slowly circling each other. The monster of a man towered over the witch and he had blood dripping down numerous cuts down his torso. Bella seemed to be nursing a broken left wrist and cuts down her legs, no doubt from charging through the scrub, clenching a knife in her other hand and baring her teeth at him with flushed cheeks. He lunged for her but she quickly sidestepped him and quickly jabbed the knife at his shoulder before stepping back again. Tonks was certain she was wishing for one of the large knives she had possessed at their time in Oxford to do more damage. Tonks held a hand up to stop the boys who had followed her so they didn’t distract her aunt in such a precarious position.

“I’m going to rip off your head with my bare hands and give it to the Dark Lord to mount on his wall, Lestrange” he growled. “Then I’ll find your pathetic excuse for a husband and feast on his flesh.” Behind Tonks, she could hear Lupin let out a feral growl and her eyes flickered to her side as Sirius grabbed at him to stop him lunging forward.

“You’ve been trying for some time now, aren’t doing a very good job, are you?” she taunted with another cackle. He swiped at her again with his large hands and Bellatrix nimbly rolled past him, swiping at the back of his ankle and smiling in satisfaction as he let out a high-pitched yip in pain.

“My boys are probably having a fine old time with your slut niece as we speak” he said with a laugh and Bellatrix narrowed her eyes at him dangerously. “You should never have strayed from the Dark Lord. Know, Bella, that when he’s finished with you he will make what Rodolphus and Rabastan did to the Longbottoms look like childs play to your blood-traitor sisters” he said and Bella lunged towards him with the knife which he side-stepped easily, laughing. Bellatrix was now pinned against the rock face with less space to move and Greyback had his back to the four of them.

Tonks glanced at Sirius and Remus and gave them a nod they slowly started creeping forward from their hiding place in the scrub surrounding the pair in a semi-circle, hoping to get a moment to strike however to her surprise a rock came flying from a few meters away from her and hit him in the back of the head. Greyback, as if on reflex, flung his head over his shoulder to find the source of the injury and Bellatrix’s eyes lit up as she struck, dashing forward and swiping the knife across his throat. He let out a gurgle and sunk to his knees and Bellatrix had to jump backwards to avoid his immense falling body as he sunk to the ground and blood slowly trickled out, soaking the grass. Bellatrix spat on him.

“Bella! Thank god you’re alright!” Tonks said as she stepped forward and into the clearing however a tiny blur came out of the bushes and sprinted forward, booting the fallen werewolf in the head, before clutching at Bellatrix’s legs who nearly fell over and bursting into tears. It was Ben.

“Benji!” Tonks gasped and ran forward and slid to her knees next to him. “Are you okay buddy?” she asked, voice quaking as she ran her eyes over him. He looked like he’d spent a month in the bush, wild eyed, riped clothes and with a large bite mark on his arm and claw marks on his back and only one shoe.

“Aunty Dora” he sobbed. “That bad man tried to hurt me. He killed Mummy and Daddy and the baby.”

“I know honey, I’m so sorry” Tonks whispered. “We need to take you some place safe now, okay?”

“You killed the bad man, you stabbed him with your knife” Ben whimpered, looking up into Bella’s eyes. She caught Tonks’ eyes breifly and hesitated before crouching down next to him.

“I did” she said, pausing to gauge his reaction.

“I tried to help” he whispered again, looking as though he was afraid he was going to get into trouble. He seemed to relax when Bellatrix tentatively reached a shaking hand up and touched it to his shoulder gently.

“You did help. You were very brave” she said in a quiet voice.

“I was so scared” he breathed and released Bellatrix’s skirt with one hand to rub at his eyes as he sniffled.

“You don’t need to be scared now. The bad man is gone” Tonks sad reassuringly.

“What about the other bad men?” he asked suddenly, eyes widening in fear.

“We got them, little man. They’re gone now too” Tonks said and used the sleeve of her ripped shirt to wipe at his dirty, wet little face as he stared at her, still wild-eyed. “This is my friend Bella, and these are my friends Sirius and Remus” Tonks said soothingly as she continued to wipe at his little face with her sleeves while he held on to Bellatrix’s skirt, white-knuckled. “We are going to take you to a special safe place now where we have a lovely lady called Madame Pomfrey and she’s going to make sure all your ouchies feel better. Does that sound good?” she asked and he nodded after a pause. Remus and Sirius, after a beat, came and plonked themselves down next to where Tonks was sitting and Ben hesitated for a moment before holding out a tiny hand and allowing Sirius and Remus to shake them.

“What a little gentleman you are” Bellatrix said with a smile. “A handsome, brave young man.” Ben flushed wildly at this but offered a tentative smile.

“Alright then Benji, how about you let me carry you back to where another nice lady is, her name is Amelia and she is the boss of where daddy and I worked, and then we can head to the special safe place, yeah?” Tonks asked.

“Can Bella carry me?” He asked immediately and Tonks chuckled and grinned widely. Bellatrix lifted her chin haughtily and winked.

“Got yourself a fan now I’d say. Benji, Bella’s arm has a big ouchie like yours, see, so how about I carry you?” she asked and he pouted.

“I can carry you, can’t I young man? Don’t you listen to your silly Aunty Dora now” she said and scooped him up with her good arm. He quickly wrapped his arms around her neck and pushed his face into her shoulder, underneath the curtain of black curls, as if he was afraid she would change her mind. Remus gave her a fond look and quickly cast a mobilising spell on her arm and a featherlight charm on Ben and they trekked back through the scrub, finding a relieved Amelia who was guarding the three werewolves who were all stunned and tied up. Ben whimpered with fear at the sight of them and she quickly rushed Tonks and Bellatrix through to the house and requested the men stay to assist in transporting the werewolves before heading back to Murrook and within moments Tonks had lit the Floo and dashed through into the waiting arms of her nervous girlfriend.

0x0x0

Hermione was surprised to see Tonks step through the Floo looking elated and allowed herself to be swept into a hug as she stepped through.

“Its Benji! We found him, he’s okay” Tonks said and promptly burst into tears. “We need to find Poppy!” she sobbed.

“Oh! I'll Send a Patronus, give me a sec” Hermione said, slightly thrown by the emotional roller coaster she had just witnessed. She had seen Tonks teary, certainly, but her wet face was something new. Waving her wand she quickly summoned some blankets and pillows and set them up on the lounge of the reception area. Tonks had taken a moment to wipe her face and after clearing her throat a silvery dog-like creature bounded from the room. Hermione looked at her in surprise. “What’s your Patronus?” Hermione asked, curious. Having only learned to cast them at school that year practicing with Harry she hadn’t seen many before.

“Oh! It’s a jackal. Why?” Tonks asked, looking a tad concerned as Hermione beamed at her.

“I’ll tell you later” Hermione said as Bellatrix stepped carefully into the room still carefully holding Ben.

“Come sit over here Bella” Hermione said quietly and smiled warmly as little blue eyes peered at her from Bellatrix’s curtin of black hair and led them to the lounge. The poor little boy, she noted feeling a pull at her heart strings, looked completely traumatized as he gazed around the room. He allowed himself to be placed gently on the lounge in Bellatrix’s lap, who winced as he accidentally knocked against her broken wrist.

“Your hair’s so big” he said quietly and Hermione shot a dirty look at Tonks who had snorted but was still sniffling.

“I do have big hair. Not beautiful straight dark hair like yours” though, Hermione said with a smile, slowly lifting a hand up to tuck some of the shaggy strands behind his ear. “My name’s Hermione, you must be Benji.”

Ben nodded solemnly. “I was a brave boy. I helped Bella get the bad man” he said and Hermione looked at Tonks trying to keep her face calm. She must have read the confusion and panic in her eyes and mouthed ‘later’ at her.

“Yes Tonks was telling me what a brave boy you were” Hermione said and glanced up the corridor to see Snape and Pomfrey were stepping through the door. Ben seemed quite overjoyed to hear tales of his bravery were being told and beamed at Tonks who shot him a wink.

“Hello young man, you must be Benjamin” Poppy said warmly. Hermione was thrown by her sweet voice, having distinct memories of a stern tone and much eye rolling whenever she had seen the matron in action at Hogwarts. “My name is Poppy. I’m going to take a look at these marks on you and see if we can make you feel better. Do you think you can be brave for me while I do that?”

“Yes. I’m a brave boy” he said seriously before looking at Snape. “Who are you?” he asked in interest.

“I am Severus Snape” he said imperiously.

“What do you do Sevy-wus?” Ben asked in a little voice, seeming quite interested. Hermione glanced up at Snape’s brief thunderous expression and had to look away before she burst out laughing. It appeared Tonks and Bellatrix were having similar struggles; Hermione could see Bellatrix’s shoulders shaking with silent laughter.

“I, young man, brew potions. It is a delicate art of combining many ingredients together to form different liquids with an assortment of abilities” Snape said and Ben’s eyes lit up.

“That’s so cool! Are some of them sticky?” he asked quickly. “Can you teach me how to make some that do all kinds of stuff?”

Hermione couldn’t restrain the snort that came out at Snape’s face, seemingly torn between the indignity of making potions with sticky ingredients that did ‘stuff’ but the smug satisfaction of being called cool and the enthusiasm for his subject. Hermione was quite certain no one had ever called him that before in his entire life.

“Certainly” he said haughtily. “Now, Benjamin, why don’t you tell us all what happened to you?”

“I was at home and Daddy got worried. He said someone was trying to get in so I went upstairs with Mummy and the baby” Ben said with a wavering voice. “Then bad men came inside and got Daddy and they came upstairs and tried to get Mummy so I threw my story book at them. Then they chased me so I tried to run outside and the baddest man got me and bited my arm but Mummy yelled at him and I runned away. When I got downstairs Daddy was – Daddy was gone” he said, tears streaming down his face. Hermione wasn’t much better. “I runned out the back door and squished through the fence and he scratched my back with his big claws. They were really big like – like this!” he said, gesturing with his hands as wide apart as he could get them “and I ran and ran and ran and climbed in a tree and hid. I was scared but Bella and Aunty Dora said I was a brave boy. I stayed in the tree all night and then in the morning I tried to find some grown ups to help me but I got lost and I was tired and hungry and my arm hurted. Then I heard Aunty Dora so I went to find her and I was going to come out but the bad man and his friends attacked Bella and Aunty Dora so I runned away again. Then Bella came with the bad man who bit me and I helped her stab him with a big knife!” he said. Hermione, Pomfrey and Snape all stared at Bellatrix in undisguised horror.

“I didn’t know he was there for Merlin’s sake” Bellatrix hissed. “He threw a rock at Greyback and distracted him, calm down.”

“I was so so so scared” Ben said, sniffling again and throwing his face into Bellatrix’s shoulder again who wrapped an arm around him and rubbed small circles on his back. “What’s going to happen to me now?” he sobbed.

“You’ll stay right here with us” Tonks said firmly with watery eyes. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t help Daddy and Mummy and the baby but I won’t let anything bad happen to you. Everyone here will make sure you are safe.”

“Promise?” He choked out. “Promise you wont let any more bad men get me?”

“Pinky promise” Tonks said and lifted her hand in offering. He gave her a smile and gave her a pinky swear.

“You were such a brave boy” Pomfrey cooed. “Now let me have a little look at this arm. Why don’t you strip off into your pants and let me take a look and show me how tough you are?” Ben dutifully unbuttoned his shirt and allowed Pomfrey and Snape to inspect it before she praised him for doing such a good job and the little boy beamed at them again. “Well done Ben. Now that bad man who bit you was what we call a werewolf, do you know what that means? Very good. The bad man bit you when he was a man, not a wolf, so you shouldn’t turn into a wolf but these scratches on your arm and back will be here forever. You were very lucky and it was a good thing you were so clever and got away” she said.

Sirius and Remus stepped through the fireplace and Ben waved at them as they grinned at him. “Mr Remus has scratches on him and he looks very tough. I don’t mind if mine stay forever” he said and Remus grinned at him while Severus scowled momentarily.

“Very good then young man. Now Severus is going to give you a special potion that he made and after you have something to eat and a bath then you can drink it all up and have a big sleep. How does that sound?”

“Good. Thank you Poppy. Thank you Sevy-wus” Hermione shot a warning look to Sirius who burst out laughing but turned it into a hacking cough.

“Why don’t you come with me to get something to eat while Bella and Aunty Dora get Poppy to have a look at some of their ouchies?” Hermione suggested gently. Ben bit his lip worriedly looking between Tonks and Bellatrix and shook his head, hiding his face in Bellatrix’s mass of curls again.

“He can stay, it’s fine kitten” Bellatrix said. “Now Ben, you’ll have to go to Dora while my arm gets fixed, alright?” He nodded, barely visible behind all her hair and Tonks quickly allowed her scratches and bruises to be looked at and squeezed Hermione’s hand reassuringly when Hermione observed with undisguised fury her ripped shirt and muddy hand prints all over her jeans before holding her arms out and allowing Ben to clamber into them.

“Can you do the funny faces for me please Aunty Dora?” he asked politely and Hermione felt a rush of affection wash over her when she nodded and promptly wrinkled her nose which turned into a pigs snout and made her eyes comically big while he giggled in delight.”You’re so funny Aunty Dora” he said brightly.

“Funny looking” Sirius snorted and grinned when Tonks sent him a very rude gesture with her free hand that the youngest occupant of the room couldn't see.

“Children, everywhere” Snape sighed dramatically.

“Alright Ben, are you hungry?” Remus asked after helping his wife to her feet and gently pressing his lips to the dark bruise on her healing wrist. Ben looked at him wide eyed and nodded quickly, sending his wild hair still tangled with twigs and mud everywhere.

“I can walk!” he said firmly and wriggled until he was placed on the ground and grasped one of Bellatrix’s hands in his own and allowed himself to be led from the room. Bellatrix seemed extremely impressed with herself to have found such an adoring fan and smirked.

“Where am I going to sleep?” Ben asked suddenly, looking around the room in concern as the adults looked at each other trying to silently communicate.

“Where would you like to stay?” Hermione asked when no one said anything.

“With Aunty Dora or Bella. They’ll get the bad men if any come here” he said, concern etched on his features.

“How about I take you for a bath while the others get some food ready for you buddy? We can work that out in a minute” Tonks said cheerfully and when he nodded scooped him up onto her shoulders and charged from the room while he squealed with laughter.

“Don’t fall over with him on your back! Be careful would you” Bellatrix scowled. Hermione chuckled before a thought struck her as Pomfrey and Snape left the room.

“Hey Bella” she said quietly and the older witch turned to her. “Wasn’t Benjamin one of the names you thought might have been in the Prophecy about you having a child?” Bellatrix’s face, initially confused, soon transformed into one of astonishment as she gazed out the door Ben and Tonks had left wide eyed.

“What?” she breathed as Remus stepped beside her and clenched her hand. “It was...but we, I mean I couldn’t just – we’re at Hogwarts now and I – I mean I’ve always wanted a child but…the law wouldn’t let a convicted felon and a werewolf… I mean” she babbled and gazed between Remus and Hermione looking torn but the hope in her eyes was obvious.

“We’ll make it work darling” Remus said firmly and Bellatrix’s eyes filled with tears. “Who am I to stand in the way of fate and your desires?”

“Speak to Amelia. Get the adoption papers lodged now while the Ministry is still in uproar. No one will even notice if we keep it quiet” Sirius said confidently before giving her a significant look. “He would be lucky to be with people who care about him. I regret every day that Harry was stuck with the Dursley’s. He deserves to be happy. He can join out merry band of misfits, a fine addition as any.”

“I – I wouldn’t even know what to do” Bellatrix proclaimed looking suddenly terrified.

“I’m sure between all the parents here will be plenty of people here to offer suggestions” Remus said with a laugh. “You’ve missed the nappy bit at least. We just need to make sure he eats and sleeps and love him. You’ll be fine.”

“He’s traumatized though, Bella, you and Remus will need to help him through it” Hermione said seriously but patted her arm reassuringly when he looked stricken. “Just like you helped me.”

“Well. I best go and organise...everything. Fuck we’re going to need everything Remus” She said looking stricken again. “We don’t have any clothes or toys or anything! He cant sleep in that enormous bed! Doesn’t he sleep in a cot?” she asked wildly.

“Er – I don’t know” Remus said scratching his head sheepishly. “Let’s ask your sister. Sisters! Narcissa should be up and about now. Why don’t you and Andy and Narcissa pop out to the shops and get some...everything. They’ll be able to help, it will be nice for you to spend some time together” he said quickly.

“Of course!” Bellatrix said, snapping her fingers as though struck with a brilliant scheme. “ANDY! CISSY! I NEED YOU!” she hollered before running from the room.

“Dodged a bullet there mate” Sirius chuckled and Remus nodded but smiled happily at his wife’s retreating form.

“Alright. I’ll go and help Tonks get him fed and bathed and put him down for a nap in our villa for a while, we can move him in with you and Bella later” Hermione said and slipped from the room. As much as she knew there were a million things everyone needed to deal with after yesterday it would have to wait for another day. “Tonks? Ben?” Hermione called out as she stepped into the unit only for her jaw to drop. “Oh my GOD.”

“In here sweets! Er...don’t mind the mess” Tonks called out sheepishly from the bathroom. It appeared that a cyclone had torn through the villa, there was clothes and dirt covering every inch of visible floor space and the bulk of the furniture.

“You’ve only been gone ten minutes” Hermione said weakly as she stepped into the bathroom where Ben was looking much cleaner with his long dark hair plastered to his head, surrounded by bubbles which he was happily flinging everywhere. Tonks, she noted with a laugh, was completely drenched. She pulled her wand and cast a drying charm before sticking her head back into the living room and waving her wand, watching the room right itself. “How do people do this without magic?”

“Who bloody knows. He’s cute but, right?” Tonks said with a grin, leaning back from her seat on the floor to rest against Hermione’s legs.

“Very” Hermione said, flicking her wand again and causing the water in the bath to twirl around him while he squealed happily trying to swat at them. “Bella’s gone out with your mum and Narcissa to get stuff for him.

“Oh I didn’t even think of that! He’s got nothing. The thought hadn’t crossed my mind. God he’s going to be so spoiled with the Black budget behind this trip.”

“He deserves it” Hermione said and sat on the floor to watch the little boy continue to splash water everywhere looking delighted. “Hungry Ben?” she asked more loudly and he nodded enthusiastically and clambered quickly out of the bath.

“Do you have porridge? With brown sugar?” He asked as he slipped out of the bath and was caught carefully by Tonks.

“Careful bud, don’t want to have to get Poppy back here” Tonks chuckled and they quickly dried him off and dressed him in one of Tonks’ old shirts which was comically enormous on him. By the time he finished his oats, which had also been flung everywhere, he looked dead on his feet.

“Have a lie down here, mate. Hermione and I will stay here with you. Bella’s gone to get some things so you can stay with her and Remus so we will move you there when it’s ready.”

“Promise you’ll stay?” he asked sleepily as he curled up on the lounge and allowed them to tuck a blanket over him.

“Absolutely” Hermione said sincerely before summoning one of the boxes of mementos she had taken from her families house out the top of the storage cupboard. “Why don’t you pick one of these teddies, they can stay as well.”

He rummaged through the bag and quickly pulled out a stuffed hippo and looked at it sadly. “Can I have this one? I used to have one a bit like him at home. He was called Harry, just like Harry Potter. My daddy said he was a hero. I miss daddy.” Tears started to trickle down his face.

“You know what, Benji?” Hermione said softly with a sniffle of her own “this hippo was given to me by my daddy and bad men got my mum and dad too, the same thing that happened to you happened to me so I know you must be very sad. I was very sad too. But we’re all going to take good care of you just like everyone took good care of me when I was very sad. It’s very safe here. And do you know who helped, who is here as well that you’ll get to meet tomorrow? Harry Potter” she whispered and his eyes widened.

“My daddy said he met Harry Potter and he came to yell at a horrible lady at his work because he was a brave man who defended his friends” Ben said.

“Harry Potter is one of my best friends, he did meet your daddy the same day I did, he was coming to help me. He’s very brave, like you! But you have to promise not to stare at his scar, its very rude” Hermione warned and he nodded.

“I promise” he said and relaxed into the pillows again. “Will you read me a story?”

Hermione reached into her box of toys and pulled one of her old Enid Blyton books and settled onto the floor where Tonks laid on the floor and put her head into her lap and Hermione ran her hands through pink hair absentmindedly as she began spinning tales of the magical faraway tree and felt exhaustion wash over her. It was only moments later that Ben fell asleep and she went to close the book.

“Keep going babe, I’m into the story now. It’s very relaxing” came a sleepy voice from her lap and Hermione rolled her eyes a little but carried on. She must have closed her eyes a few minutes in because when she opened them again and felt Tonks stir in her lap Bellatrix and Andromeda had crept into the room, a very fond look on their face, as they surveyed the scene.

“Hi Bella, hi Andy” Hermione whispered.

“Nap time kitten?” Bellatrix asked quietly. “I’ll take this one now. It’s about 9pm, you two should get into bed.” she said and gently wrapped the napping Ben into his blanket, grabbed the hippo and scooped the bundle up.

“Oh isn’t he just precious” Andromeda said quietly as she looked him over, gently tucking a tuft of hair behind one of his ears as he shifted in his sleep. “The poor little darling, what a thing to go through. We’ll see you tomorrow love, we’ve a lot to sort out” she said with a sigh.

“Sounds good Andy. Night guys” Hermione said with a yawn and when they slipped from the room and gently shook Tonks awake who grunted at her. “Bed time, love.”

“Mmmph” Tonks replied but allowed herself to be pulled to her feet where she blinked blearily and theatrically collapsed into Hermione’s arms. “I’m tired baby. Carry me” she said sulkily while Hermione laughed at her.

“I love you, you useless thing” Hermione said fondly and pushed Tonks back up onto her feet and steered her to the bed where she flopped onto it face first.

“I love you too, you’re too good to me” Tonks said sincerely, suddenly wide awake as Hermione laid next to her and sensed the playful mood disappear.

“Yes, well...thankyou I suppose but -”

“Honestly, I can’t even put it into words how much you mean to me. Its the sort of love they write song and stuff about, sappy as that sounds. I’d do anything for you. Anything. I cannot believe how horrible I was to you yesterday, I know I was a mess but it’s no excuse” she said and Hermione could see her watery eyes as Tonks grasped her hand between her own. It had been an extraordinarily emotional few days.

“Tonks I know. I know. I told you this morning I understand. It upset me, of course, because I can’t stand the thought of you being upset with me, I – I mean you mean just as much to me. But you’ve been my rock, honestly. With my parents and everything...I’m not going to begrudge you having a bad day. It happens, we’ll get through it. I mean, your partner was killed – poor Ben’s whole family...all those other people, people you know and work with. We don’t even know the full damage of the Auror attacks or the train attack or anything. God. Normal people don’t have to deal with this” Hermione said suddenly staring at the roof and feeling her own eyes start to burn as she heard the bitterness lacing her voice. “Its just...I can’t even put into words how fucked up our lives are right now. We will have bad days. But we have each other, right?”

“Right” Tonks said nodding and closing her eyes as a tear trickled down her cheek. “Are we having a big cry together then? That’s new.”

“Looks like it” Hermione sniffed, summoning a box of tissues. Tonks leaned back against the headboard and allowed Hermione to curl into her shoulder as she reached for some of the tissue paper herself. “God Harry nearly died yesterday. I thought he was going to die. I thought I was going to die and I wouldn’t even get to see you again”.

“That’s so fucked up. I worried the same thing when I was trapped in that dungeon” Tonks said and blew her nose. “God I’m really getting into it now. I’m not usually this much of a crying person.”

“I teared up when Dumbledore died. After all he did, he was caught up using his magic with that giant metal snake thing but when he saw that flash of green he just stood in front of Harry like it was nothing, like his life was nothing” Hermione said as she wiped at her face. The two laid in bed, quietly holding each other excluding the occasional sniffle for about half an hour before Hermione spoke up again.

“I can’t believe he’s gone” Tonks whispered. “He was the only one Voldemort was scared of. I wish things had been different, that we could have known he was on our side without all the...machinations.”

“I know. Even your mum looked a bit thrown when I told her” Hermione said as the tears kept rolling down her face.

“Everything is going to be chaos now, fuck” Tonks breathed heavily. “There’s this horrible little voice in the back of my mind that keeps wondering who will be next.”

“God poor Ben. He’s so little. He doesn’t even have a life time of memories of his parents like I will. His sister was only a tiny baby.”

“It’ll be so hard for him” Tonks said. “I just wish I got there in time to help, like I felt with your parents.”

“I miss mum and dad every day.”

“I miss Russ already. God he was such an annoying wanker sometimes but I loved him. I can’t let Ben go to some random foster family.”

“I don’t think you have to worry about that, Bella’s got a handle on things. He’s going to be the little love of her life I think.” Hermione said with a watery smile. “Remember her talking about her prophecy? Benjamin was one of the names she thought it might be. Funny how life works out.”

“That makes me feel a little better” Tonks rasped as she swigged from a glass of water to clear her throat and passing the cup to Hermione who did the same. “Funny how life has a way of doing that. Bella deserves it. So does Remus. If there are any wolfie symptoms he will be able to help too.”

“She does. Hey want to see something interesting?” Hermione asked gingerly. “Cast your Patronus.” She felt Tonks’ curious eyes on her but the older witch shrugged and, after two attempts, managed to expel a patronus that eyed the pair curiously. Hermione wiped her nose and sat up to get her wand then cast her own.

“Holy shit, they match” Tonks said with a laugh.

“Golden jackals” Hermione said as the two Patroni eyed each other before curling up on the end of the bed together, shimmering in the light. “I looked them up.”

“Of course you did” Tonks said fondly and pressed a kiss to Hermione’s head.

“They’re monogamous” Hermione said quietly. “Mixed views throughout history, but generally described as quite loyal and clever.”

“Sounds about right” Tonks replied and laid down in bed pulling the covers up to her chin before yanking Hermione down on top of her and kissing her gently. Hermione gently ran her hands up through Tonks’ now purple hair and looked her in the eye.

“That was lovely but I’m quite sure I have snot all over me and my teary eyes must look awful.”

“Shush, you look as beautiful as ever” Tonks murmured and kissed her again, slowly splaying a hand across her stomach. Hermione shrugged internally and sank into the kiss.

She reflected, as she inched her hands up underneath Tonks’ shirt and pressed against her so firmly she could feel her heart rate pick up, that must of the time when they had sex (excluding the first few times when Tonks had been so gentle and careful with her and made her feel so good until she had grown comfortable) it was always amazing but it was firm, fast, feral. They’d fuck and fuck and fuck with their fingers and their mouths and half the time talk the most filthy dirty talk Hermione always flushed to think about afterwards. But this, this was slow, soft, sensual, a change of pace. They undressed each other carefully without rush and kissed gently, without any sense of urgency until Tonks slipped a leg between her own and Hermione did the same and they tangled each other hair or pulled each other closer, and rocked slowly but firmly, against each other letting out breathy little moans always swallowed by the other until the end when Hermione felt heat coiled in the pit of her stomach start to spread and felt Tonks shift more jerkily as she breathed more heavily and they came, gasping, together and both seemed to find the moment so very intimate Hermione didn’t need to say anything at all, just tucked her head under Tonks’ chin and kissed her pulse point oh so softly and laid for a moment.

“Of my god. That was new too” Tonks finally murmured breathlessly and finally tilted Hermione’s face up to kiss her before rummaging a hand around underneath her pillow for her cigarettes. To her amusement Hermione simply ed and wordlessly summoned her own and grabbed one, lighting it and took a drag before handing it over.

“Don’t say anything. You’re a terrible influence on me” Hermione whispered, a teasing lilt to her voice.

“I can see that” she heard whispered back.

They finished and stumbled into the shower where they stood quietly together until the water ran cold and finally made their way back to bed and, tangling themselves together once more, promptly fell asleep.

0x0x0

Tonks woke with a start around 5am when something landed heavily on her stomach and she wheezed as she tried to jump up with fright only to see little blue eyes looking into her own violet ones in the dim light.

“Morning! We’ve been up for hours” came the cheerful voice of Bellatrix from the corner. Beside her, Hermione yanked the blankets over her the rest of her head and mumbled cursewords very quietly.

“Aunty Dora! You should see all the things Bella and Remus got me! My room is so cool! I saw Remus with no shirt on and he had scars everywhere but these big muscles! Daddy never had muscles his tummy was soft. Is your tummy soft Aunty Dora?”

Tonks watched him in amusement as Ben inundated her with questions, apparently none required an answer and he was happy just to speak. The Hermione shaped blob hidden under the blankets groaned quietly beside her before her disheveled head appeared.

“Coffee” she moaned.

“Bella has coffee! We brought you some but I wasn’t allowed to carry it because it was hot and it might burn me. What does coffee taste like? Little boys aren’t allowed to drink coffee, it’s only for grown ups. It smells yuck. I like the smell of hot chocolate. Do we have hot chocolate here? Hey, Aunty Dora why are you in bed with a girl?” he said in confusion as he seemed to take in Hermione.

“Hermione is my girlfriend. When you have a girlfriend or a boyfriend they are allowed to sleep in your bed once you are a grown up” Tonks said, gratefully swigging from the coffee Bellatrix had offered her while she watched in amusement from the corner.

“But shouldn’t you have a boyfriend if you’re a girl?”

“Nope. You can have a boyfriend or a girlfriend.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that! I thought there were rules. Hey did you know Remus keeps chocolate under the kitchen sink? Isn’t that a funny place for food!”

“Did you, perhaps, eat some?” Hermione asked, eying his excitable face with a raised eyebrow.

“I ate it all. I didn’t know it was Remus’ special chocolate though” he said mournfully. “Remus told me that he has to hide it so Bella and Sirius don’t eat it all but then I eated it. I didn’t know” he repeated.

“We’ll go buy Remus some more chocolate later, won’t we?” Bellatrix said from the doorway. “And you won’t eat it all in the dead of night then vomit on the floor.”

“Child-rearing going well then Bella?” Tonks laughed and she rolled her eyes but grinned.

“He’s a barrel of laughs, that’s for sure. Come along now Benjamin let’s go and wake up my sisters. You didn’t meet them yesterday but they are very excited to meet you” Bellatrix said and Ben happily stood up and bounced off the bed into her waiting arms.

“I am sure they will be ecstatic to meet him at five in the morning Bella” Hermione said as she tried to constrain her hair into a bun.

“How can you be angry at this face though!” Bellatrix said and pinched his cheek gently while he grinned cheekily.

“Bella and Remus said I’m the most handsome boy in the whole world” he preened.

“Very handsome. If I didn’t have a girlfriend already I’d ask you to be my boyfriend, Ben” Hermione said with a wink.

“Is it because I’m cuter than Aunty Dora?”

“Definitely.”

“Oi!” Tonks said with a laugh. “Alright, get out of here you two. Go annoy everyone else.”

“Cheerio! Come on now, we are going to have such fun” Bellatrix sad gleefully as they left the room and he giggled.

“Andy is going to hex her” Hermione mused. “I hope Ben gets out of the way.”

“Oh my god I wonder how Narcissa will react!” Tonks said with a laugh before meeting Hermione’s eyes. “Want to go watch?”

They jumped from the bed without a further word and dressed quickly before dashing a few doors up where, for now at least, Draco and Narcissa would be sharing. As far as Tonks was aware they were fairly reclusive so far and glanced around. Judging from the angry screeching a few Villa’s up it appeared they had decided to go to visit the Tonks villa first and bare moments after entering a giggling Ben and Bellatrix tore from the front door.

“Quick, this one next.” Bellatrix hissed and lead him to the Malfoy Villa.

“Bellatrix Druella Black!” came a hysterical female voice from inside. Hermione erupted into laughter.

“Oh it’s funny when it’s not us” Tonks said with a giggle. She laughed harder when Draco Malfoy came running out of the villa looking around wildly as though they were under attack and ran right into Hermione and they tumbled to the ground.

“Morning Draco!” Tonks said cheerfully.

“Get off me, Malfoy” came a muffled voice as Draco seemed to get his bearing and realised where he was.

“Nymphadora! Er – Granger?”

“You’re crushing me you big lump!”

“Oh! Sorry! Sorry” he said hurriedly and scrambled off. “Er, what are you doing out here?”

“Bella and Ben came and woke us up at 5am. Then went and woke up mum and dad, then went and woke up you. We were here to watch the theatrics. It’s paid off well so far” Tonks said cheerfully.

“Say’s you who wasn’t bulldozed over” Hermione grumbled as she allowed herself to be pulled to her feet. Bellatrix and Ben came charging through the door, being chased by a large animated pillow, laughing hysterically.

“Wait...” Draco trailed off as his eyes flicked between the two of them in shock. “You and her...you two are...what? I thought Delacour was joking!”

“Hello! I’m Ben, who’re you?” proclaimed a small voice and Draco glanced towards his knees and jumped in surprise.

“Er – Draco. Draco Malfoy” he said, still looking dazed.

“Your name is so cool. I wish my name was Draco but it’s Ben. My proper name is Benjamin Keyes. Do you know Aunty Dora and Herm- Hermy – Herminioninny? They are allowed to sleep in the same bed because they are girlfriends and they are grown ups” he said solemnly.

“I do know Aunty Dora and – what did you call her? Herminioninny?” he said, suddenly smirking at Hermione’s dirty look. “I did not know that they were girlfriends who slept in the same bed.”

“It’s allowed. You are allowed to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Aunty Dora said so and she’s very smart.”

“Heh. You hear that sweets?” Tonks chuckled and winked when she rolled her eyes.

“Do you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend Draco Malfoy?” Ben asked, looking up at him when he shook his head. “Would you like to be my boyfriend? Bella said I’m the most handsome boy in the world. Herminioninny said I’m even cuter than Aunty Dora.”

“He’d love to be your boyfriend” Hermione said firmly and smirking as Ben beamed up at Draco happily. Draco, to his credit, appeared unwilling to wipe the smile off his face and smiled hesitantly.

“Alright Master Benjamin. Shall we go and see who else needs to wake up?” Bellatrix interjected and he beamed at her before sprinting towards Harry and Sirius’ villa.

“This is my favorite new game! Can we play this every day?” he shouted excitedly.

“Yes!” Tonks heard Bellatrix say as she caught up to him.

“Noooo” Hermione and Draco groaned simultaneously before shooting each other a glare.

“Alright you two better kiss and make up, we’re going to be here for six weeks together and have a lot of work to do” Tonks warned. “Well not kiss, maybe. You are both in relationships after all.”

“Shut it you” Hermione said and swatted at her before shooting the blond a look and sighing. “You’re right though... Hi, I’m Hermione Granger - muggleborn” she said and held her hand out for him to shake, raising an eyebrow as he stared at it. He swallowed and Tonks was pleased to see him meet her eyes.

“Draco Malfoy. I’ve learned blood status is a load of dragon dung recently, so consider mine irrelevant” he said and took her hand, shaking it firmly. Tonks beamed at him.

“Look at all this progress for the magical world made before half the country is even out of bed. Alright sweets, fancy a quick dip before breakfast? It’s going to be a long day. Pool looks good” she said gesturing towards it.

“Sure. Come on Malfoy, you’re coming too.” Hermione said firmly.

“Am I?” he asked in surprise.

“Yep. I’m quite confident half the people here don’t know you are here and seeing you happily amongst us not spewing vitriol will do wonders for your image when they realise” she said. As they transfigured their clothes into swimming outfits and neared the pool Tonks delighted in pushing him into the pool where he spluttered indignantly.

“Family bonding! I’ve missed so much, cousin” Tonks said with a grin before shrieking as Hermione shoved her forwards as well, forcing her to twist in midair so she didn't land on the indignant Draco.

As they swam around and chatted, Draco mostly listening quietly and interjecting only occasionally, they were joined by most of the other occupants of Murrook who seemed to regard Draco with an initial wariness he reciprocated but slowly relaxed. Narcissa showed up, looking poised as ever, and fleetingly smiled with more warmth than Tonks thought had probably ever crossed her face to see the sight of her son in the pool with the others enjoying his cousins gentle ribbing which eased everyones tensions.

“I want to swim too! Can I Bella? Can I Remus?” he pleaded when they noticed the fun going on he was missing.

“Go on then” Bellatrix replied and Ben giggled wildly as Remus threw his shirt off and transfigured his shorts, swept him up and they launched into the pool with an enormous splash. Bellatrix sat next to Narcissa, Andy and Ted who chatted quietly amongst themselves.

“I’m a great swimmer, watch!” he shouted as he splashed haphazardly to Tonks and clutched on to her wildly and Remus clambered out of the pool. Tonks traced the cursed bite marks on his arm and scratches on his back delicately as he wrapped around her.

“Amazing” she said happily as he beamed at her. “I’m so glad you’re here, kid.”

“Me too” he said squeezing her. “Who are those people?”

Harry, the Weasley children and Fleur had shown up and quickly flung themselves into the pool. Tonks was relieved to find Draco receiving polite nods instead of hateful glares as he looked incredibly nervous.

“You’re Harry Potter! I have a hippo named after you” Ben said, his eyes very wide as Harry swam up to them. Tonks burst out laughing at Harry’s mortified expression. “Herminioninny said it’s very rude for me to stare at your scar but its very cool. I have scars too, see” he said, lifting his arm. “My scars are from a werewolf, like Remus’s scars because he is a werewolf but he is very nice.”

“Er – that’s good, it’s nice to meet you, mate” Harry said politely, seeming somewhat amused when he splashed towards the twins and pointed them out as ‘all red and the same’ and made his way around everyone in the pool adoring the attention.

“Watch this everyone!” he proclaimed suddenly and pushed off Tonks to splash wildly towards the edge of the pool as fast as he could where Bellatrix quickly walked over and scooped him out of the pool. He beamed when Tonks applauded politely and everyone else followed suit.

“Alright mister, time for breakfast I think. Everyone needs to eat and do boring grown up rubbish” she said and pulled a disgusted face. “Eurgh!”

“Ew!” he giggled and pulled an equally revolted look. “Can I have oats with brown sugar again?”

“Absolutely. But you have to eat something else for lunch, you cant only eat oats” Bellatrix said firmly. “Now hold still and let me get you dry, cheeky monkey!”

“Look how good she is with him” Hermione said fondly, wrapping her arms around Tonks pressed her back against Hermione’s soft chest contentedly.

“I know, isn’t it adorable? Hopefully he tires her out a bit” Tonks said with a quiet chuckle. “Though I think it’s meant to be the other way around.”

“Mmm” Hermione murmured and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “I’m not looking forward to the boring grown up stuff though.”

“Nor am I” Tonks said. “I’d rather drag you back to bed and have my wicked way with you.”

“Er, are they like this all the time?” Draco asked, looking faintly uncomfortable.

“Yeah, you’ll get used to it. It just goes in one ear and out the other now” George reassured him.

“Oh zip it, you lot!” Tonks snapped playfully.

“Whats the age difference between the two of you?” Draco asked. “Aren’t you 15 Granger?”

“Nah, I’ll be 18 in 3 months. I, ah, messed around with a time turner in my 3rd year and I was already 12 when I started Hogwarts. Tonks will be 23 in a few days.” Tonks looked at her in surprise.

“You know when my birthday is?”

“Of course!” Hermione said, scandalized. “Its the 21st of June. Do you know when mine is?”

“19th of September! I’m not entirely useless you know” Tonks teased. “What’d you think I sent you that nice bracelet you’re wearing for on the 19th last year? Funsies?”

“Wait, it is?” Harry asked, suddenly looking horrified. “Oh my god. We’ve been at school together every year for your birthday and I’ve never even got you a present.”

“You rotters!” Tonks laughed while Hermione flushed.

“It’s no big deal, boys. The day sort of changed when I used the time turner anyway, I’m not that fussed.”

“No it is a big deal! You’ve sent me a present every year!” Harry said indignantly. “I feel horrible!”

“Wait, you had a time-turner?” Draco said looking amazed. “Those are heavily restricted! How did you get one?”

“McGonogall gave her one so she could do literally every class in our third year” Ron said with a snort. “You think she’d have used it to get some extra sleep but she just turned into a giant frizzy hair ball of anxiety as the year progressed.”

“Every class? God you’re bloody mental!” Tonks said in amusement.

“I still can’t believe I’ve never got you a present” Harry said mournfully. Ginny patted his arm in consolation. Tonks had been watching her look at him like she wanted to eat him since he had stripped off his shirt and caught her eye, laughing when she flushed.

“I feel very uncomfortable right now” Hermione said. “I’m leaving. Goodbye.”

“Wait up babe” Tonks said laughing and chased her from the pool as they made their way back to the villa and cornered her by the kitchen bench. “Do you still have the time turner? You could go back in time and I could shag two of you at once!” she said cheekily, bursting out laughing at the indignant look on Hermione’s face as she crossed her arms across her chest and frowned at her.

“Oh my god Nymphadora Tonks we are not messing with the fabric of time to shag! We could destroy the universe!” she said indignantly. “Besides, how the hell would I get it off McGonogall even if I could be convinced that wasn’t a completely bloody terrible idea? ‘Oh excuse me Professor, do you mind if I borrow your heavily restricted time turner so my girlfriend can explore some kinky fantasy?’ Yes, that’d go down an absolute treat - “

“Shush will you, I was only joking. Once of you is definitely enough” Tonks said, lifting her onto the bench and giving her a wicked grin as she reached up and placed her eyes on the wall either side of her head and leaning forward. “Have I ever told you I find you surprisingly alluring when you are lecturing me with that cranky, swotty look on your face?”

“That’s quite rude” Hermione sniffed, still frowning though Tonks noted with glee that it did not reach her eyes.

“I know, please let me make it up to you” Tonks said cheekily and bit down on her shoulder, pleased to hear Hermione’s breath hitch in her throat, and running her hands under her bikini over erect nipples.

“It’s stupid how – ah god that feels good – how surprisingly alluring I find you when you’re being a bloody insatiable prat” Hermione said breathlessly.

“That’s all the time” Tonks said pulling back to look her witch in the eye with a smirk.

“I know, it’s infuriating” Hermione said, wrapping her legs around Tonks and pulling her closer. “If it was anyone else being so bloody annoying I’d want to hex them but with you I just...” she trailed off and grasped one of Tonks hands and forced it into her bikini bottoms where Tonks moaned to feel how wet she was “...I just want to fuck” she said firmly, holding her gaze, eyes alight.

“Do you just?” Tonks hissed, brushing her fingers against Hermione’s clit and feeling her jump, and pulled her into a passionate kiss. “Maybe I should fuck you properly, then.”

“What, you mean...” Hermione trailed of, looking down and her eyes widened as she felt and the sudden bulge in Tonks own bikini bottoms before looking back up into Tonks eyes again. “Oh. That’s new” she mused, echoing their words from the night before and clenching Tonks towards her again to rub against her experimentally.

“Oh my god” Tonks moaned at the contact, trying to hold still and resisting the urge to fuck her into the wall. “Whats the verdict? You wanna?”

“I can’t deny having a scientific curiosity about what it’s like to be fucked with my girlfriends cock” Hermione said with a smirk of her own before biting her lip thoughtfully. Tonks felt another wave of desire to tear of her clothes at the sight. “It’ll be different to the times with the toys, wont it?”

“Yep, quite different. I’ve been fucked with a toy and fucked with a dick. Similar I suppose but definitely not the same.”

“Let’s do it. For science” Hermione said with a chuckle and quirked a brow as Tonks immediately lifted her arse up off the counter to rip off her underwear. “Bit eager, are we?”

“I’ve never done this before. You’ll let me know if I’m hurting you though, right? I can stop, we don’t have to” Tonks said sincerely. “Any time, you just say so - “

“Shut up and fuck me” Hermione said imperiously and flicked her wand, smirking again as Tonks’ swimmers vanished. Tonks felt a brief urge to berate her for vanishing more of her clothes, it’s not like she could get them back from bloody vanished items limbo after all, but lost any semblance of ability to form a coherent sentence when she felt a hand grab the most recent addition to her anatomy and guide it towards her entrance.

“Merlin” she croaked.

“Just start slowly” Hermione whispered before pulling her in for another passionate kiss as Tonks focused on rolling her hips slowly and not just rutting her into the bench.

“Fuck” they muttered simultaneously as Tonks managed to sheath herself fully. “You good baby?” Tonks grit out as she paused and tried to meet Hermione’s eyes which were screwed shut.

“Yeah, keep going. Oh god” Hermione moaned as Tonks withdrew herself and slowly pushed back in again.

“Oh you’re so wet. That feels so fucking good” Tonks said as she pressed her face into Hermione’s neck and bit at her shoulder.

“More. Harder” Hermione commanded breathlessly and Tonks was happy to oblige as she slowly picked up the pace and felt Hermione wrap her legs around her to pull her in deeper. Tonks felt the last of her restraint slip away and grabbed Hermione's arms from where they were grasping her shoulders and pinned them above her head against the wall with one hand and bracing herself against it with the other, and was rewarded with feeling her clench deliciously.

“Oh fuck Hermione. You like that? You like it when I fuck you like this?” Tonks growled as the younger witch threw her head back and let out a guttural moan and Tonks rolled against her with abandon and licked slowly up her chest and nipped at her.

“Yes, oh shit, yes” Hermione said in a hard voice and her eyes shot open, a feral look on her face. Tonks gripped her hips and fucked her harder still only to cry out in shock when Hermione used her now freed hands to shove her backwards boldly where she flailed wildly for a moment before falling onto her back on the tiled floor.

“Ouch! What’re you – Oh!” she said through clenched teeth as Hermione slipped from the bench and quickly straddled her, sliding straight back onto her and began to slowly rock forwards. If it had felt amazing before, it felt even better now and Tonks couldn't tear her eyes away from the sight above her. Her bikini top had come loose and Tonks could only stare blankly, breasts bouncing as Hermione threw her head back with another loud groan.

“You like it when I fuck you like this?” Hermione husked suddenly with a smirk, meeting her eyes as she palmed at her own breasts. Tonks could only nod wildly for a moment, unable to form any words as she picked up the pace and Tonks could feel her walls tightening around her again.

“I’m going to come” she finally managed to gasp a few minutes later as she quickly reached up and began rubbing between Hermione’s legs and pressing against her clit and wrapping her other hand in her own hair, feeling her body tense. “Slow down baby, I’m gonna – “

Tonks came with a barely restrained howl as she thrust upwards, relieved despite the haze that washed over her to feel Hermione’s release as well, and pulled her tightly to her side as she slipped off her and collapsed onto the floor covered in sweat and they tried to catch their breath. Tonks scratched her nails lightly in small circles on Hermione’s shoulder, enjoying the feeling of her hot, unsteady breath on her neck and Hermione’s head on her chest, leg flung over her.

“We should do scientific experiments like that more often” Tonks finally said and felt, rather than heard, Hermione start to giggle against her and nod her head.

“I can’t believe that was the first time you’ve done that!” Hermione said and stretched, arching her back and sighing contentedly.

“I’m just naturally very good, my love. A talented and generous lover” Tonks said, laughing as she remembered the awkward discussion around her kitchen table what felt like years ago after Bella’s escape from Azkaban.

“Prat” Hermione said, swatting at her playfully.

“Ah, yes, but I know it makes me irresistible now. You’ll have created a monster now, just you wait” Tonks said teasingly.

“I might be able to live with that” Hermione said and lifted her head up to kiss her gently.

“Ah but we’d never get anything done. We should probably be out there planning how to save the world right now” Tonks said mournfully and fumbled for her wand. “Ten minutes. Do you want a shower or will we walk around smelling like sweaty sex all day?”

“One day this will be all over and we can lay around and do nothing but shag all day, but for now we should shower” Hermione said with a sigh and clambered to her feet. “Imagine that, love. Imagine if we had a holiday! No work, no school, being able to sleep naked the whole time and not worrying about Bella – now Bella with a child I suppose – waking us up at ungodly hours of the morning. No evil dark wizards destroying the world trying to kill either of us.”

“When all this is over we’ll go somewhere far, far away” Tonks promised. “You just wait. You’ll all finish school and the Dark Wanker will be gone. We’ll get our own place” she said, enjoying the ideas racing through her mind. “You’ll be the youngest Minister of Magic and I’ll be head of the DMLE. We’ll go and visit everyone on the weekends and laugh at everyone with all their little sprogs and be the cool aunts and spoil them rotten then when they’ve fed us and the kids get tired and grumpy we will go home and shag for hours. I’ll walk around naked all the time so there’s no excuse for you to keep vanishing my clothes.”

“We’ll be the ultimate power couple!” Hermione said with a grin as the stepped into the shower. “I’ll change the whole magical world. Everyone will be equal and happy and when they aren’t you’ll send them off to prison and the crime rate will drop to zero. Harry and Ginny will have a whole Quidditch team full of kids and Ben will be at Hogwarts. Ron will manage the Chudley Cannons and they won’t be shit. We won’t tell anyone where we live so no one comes and bothers us” she said with a laugh. “On our days off we’ll sleep til noon, every day. We’ll travel the world. Shag on every continent!”

“Every country more like it! Merlin, what a dream” Tonks said happily. “That’s certainly something to fight for, my love.”

“It certainly is, let’s go save the wizarding world then shall we?”

Chapter Text

Hermione yawned and stretched and took another swig of her coffee as she poured over the parchment in front of her and listened to Moody argue with Amelia Bones.

“We should be focusing on rebuilding the Ministry! Half our Aurors are gone, Alastor! We don’t have the resources to strike now! Fudge has dropped off the face of the Earth, we couldn't authorise something like this even if we wanted to!”

“Rubbish! This is the time to strike, while He is momentarily weakened! We’ve wiped out a big chunk of the Death Eaters, haven’t we? We’ve got the Malfoy info and should be moving on it now before he regroups!”

“Moody, you’re talking about striking against 14 different well-defended manors. They will be expecting us. They likely out number us. I’m not saying no I’m saying not right now. To loose more people now would be catastrophic! The Ministry would be more vulnerable than it already is!”

“Enough! Quit your bickering you two, you’re irritating me” Bellatrix snapped as she rubbed her temples. “We know what you think, you’ve been going back and forth for fucking hours. Someone else say something!”

“I think what we really need to do, is outsmart him” Sirius said. “Voldemort will know that Dumbledore is dead, which is an undeniable negative for us despite our mixed feelings towards him. BUT we have Narcissa and Draco here and they have a year of intel for us which is a significant strike against him. One one level, I agree with Amelia. I think everyone needs to have their head in the game for this to work and all of Wizarding Britain at the moment is in shock at the moment but by that same token Alastor is correct. He can’t have decimated all his properties and plans in 2 days and to leave it much longer will be an enormous wasted opportunity.”

“I zink zat the time to strike is now” Fleur said and Hermione glanced at her in surprise. “Everyone at ze moment is angry, upset wiz ze Dark Lord. To respond now will mean zat zose fighting wiz us, against Him, will ‘ave passion in zair hearts. Zey will wish to avenge. Soon, ze anger will fade to fear. Zey will be more susceptible to caving in to His demands to protect zose they ‘ave left.” That was, Hermione thought, an excellent point. If she had learnED anything in the year it was that Wizards were sheep most of the time.

“I think” Tonks said quietly “that if I have picked up on something it’s that the Death Eaters are good, but we’ve cleared out almost all of his Inner Circle at least – the only ones I’m sure are still around are Lucius Malfoy and Rabastan Lestrange. He has numbers but a load of his men are incompetent. The werewolves will be keeping their distance now Greyback is gone with their own internal troubles – yes, nicely done Bella – and I’m yet to see many of the other groups he was rumored to be approaching like the giants or vampires. To be frank, Voldemort’s better than probably a large bulk of his men combined.”

“Get to the point lass” Moody said gruffly.

“What are his weaknesses? He has a pack of mostly brainless idiots working for him that he mostly uses as cannon fodder. He only tends to show up when he’s certain he will win – he’s a classic bully in that way; he sent his blokes off to face certain death attacking every Auror he could in the country while he went after a defenseless train full of kids. Other than that in the past he’s only shown up in person if he has felt angry or embarrassed. He can be patient but he is prideful and has a temper. Surely we can use these against him – somehow.”

“This is true” Snape said slowly. “But how do we use these facts? Do you attempt to attack him directly and hope for success or decimate the fools he still has fighting while they are largely unorganised and poorly trained compared to Dolohov, Rookwood, McNair and the like?”

“The best way would be to do both, somehow” Ted said with a sigh. “The trick is how?”

“If we take out Voldemort, the attacks stop” Remus said firmly. “There will be his goons to track down and take out but they will go into hiding or surrender. Even if they show up claiming the in droves claiming the imperious again at least the violence will cease. Striking at his goons will be a blow to him but it will just make him desperate and angry. He might be at his most likely to take risks when angry but he certainly will be the most dangerous.”

“A good bluff is what we need” said Ron, scratching at his chin thoughtfully.

“I just cant wait for the Quibbler to have a positive headline again” Xenophillius quipped from the corner. “Voldemort defeated!” instead of “180 aurors and their families slaughtered!”

Hermione’s eyes flickered to him as a wild thought struck her brain. “I have an idea! Its….its mad, completely mad. Absolutely mental. But I think...it could be just what we need. I know just the person to do it too.”

0x0x0

“You want me to what?” hissed a furious blond witch in magenta robes.

“I don’t really have time for this shite, Rita. You’ll do as I ask or you’ll go to Azkaban. Actually I’ve taken the liberty of speaking with Amelia Bones, she said she would register you as an Animagus retrospectively and then you’ll never having me darkening your doorway again” HermIone said.

“And what’s to stop me cursing your head from your shoulders?” Rita Skeeter snapped irritably.

“We’ll flay you alive” came a voice from Rita Skeeters living area and she jumped and turned with fright to see Bellatrix and Tonks sitting calmly in her living area.

“Wha – how did you get in my house?” she screeched angrily.

“You opened the door” Bellatrix said with a childish giggle. “Come on Skeeter, yay or nay? Glory or prison? If you do this for us you can hide out at one of our safe houses until this is all over.”

“Fine!” she grit out. “This is madness though!”

“Oh I know, but just think – if it works you’ll be the journalist who changed the course of the war and you wont have me blackmailing you any more. It’s win-win really.”

“Yes, unless the Dark Lord comes and forcibly removes my head from my shoulders!”

“If all goes to plan he’ll have bigger concerns. Come on now” Hermione said firmly and Rita Skeeter threw her hands into the air in frustration and stalked back into her house to pack a bag.

0x0x0

Rabastan Lestrange paid his two knuts for the Daily Prophet and placed it on the table, calmly pouring himself a large mug of pumpkin juice before lacing it generously with firewhisky and buttered his toast.

“Morning Lucius” he grunted as Lucius gracefully placed himself in the chair at the head of the table at Malfoy Manner, adjusting his eyepatch. He mused, looking around, that as nice as it was being the two most important people to the Dark Lord for the past week it really did make the enormous table look ludicrously large. There was a lot less that was nice to look at now both his sisters in law had left the building as well.

“Rabastian” he greeted with a nod. “Pass the juice please?”

Lucius slowly prepared his own breakfast and after exchanging pleasantries and Rabastian flicked open the paper to the comic section in the center and lifted it up, chuckling quietly to himself. Hearing a clatter and strange noise he lowered the paper to glance at Malfoy.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. Lucius looked as though he was about to vomit and pointed vaguely at the front page of the Prophet. RabastIan shrugged and took a swig of his pumpkin juice which he promptly spat all over the headline when he closed the paper and his eyes settled on it.

“Rabastian, is our Lord still locked away plotting in the study with Nagini?” he asked, still looking horrified.

“Has been all night” Rabastian said hoarsely as he struggled to process the implications of the front page of the newspaper.

“Fuck” Lucius said faintly.

“Fuck” Rabsatian agreed in a strangled voice.

 

‘DARK LORD DEFEATED BY HARRY POTTER ONCE AND FOR ALL’

'Celebrations are abound all over the Wizarding World with confirmation of a successful strike against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named last night, writes Special Correspondent Rita Skeeter.

Meeting with the Boy-Who-Lived himself, young Mister Potter confirmed that he along with an Auror Strike Team, struck at Riddle Manor in Little Hangleton late last night after receiving information from Narcissa Malfoy who managed to escape the Dark Lord along with her son several days ago.

As the Wizarding World celebrations wind up the Ministry has been forced back into action with massive amounts of British witches and wizards as well as foreign nationals showing up in droves at the Ministry to surrender their wands after Amelia Bones, head of the DMLE and acting Minister for Magic, confirmed the death penalty and sentancing to the infamous Wizarding Prison, Azkaban, would be removed with an alternative location sourced, and concessions made for those who made a positive choice and could offer any intelligence on the whereabouts of any remaining forces of the Dark Lord, an opportunity to make such a deal being open until midnight tonight.

Mister Potter confirmed that there was a Prophecy, as had been suspected for quite some time by this vigilant reporter, that confirmed that he was to be the one to defeat the Dark Lord when all his followers would abandon him in his hour of need and those that didn’t would suffer with him.

A commemoration celebrating the life of Harry Potter and his success is to take place at the Ministry of Magic this evening with Mister Potter and his friends expected to make an appearance.

“On behalf of the Ministry of Magic, we can only sincerely thank Harry Potter, and the remainder of the strike team for their efforts last night. This is a bright day for Britain” - for the full speech by Amelia Bones and accompanying analysis see page 10.

“It was hard, but not impossible. It couldn’t have been done without the support and love of all my loved ones. Love was what defeated [name retracted] after all” - for an exclusive interview with Harry Potter see pages 2, 3 and 4.

“I’d spit on his grave if there was anything left of him to bury after Potter finished with him” - for an interview on her time since Azkaban, a rumoured shotgun wedding and her part in the defeat of the Dark Lord see this reporters brief chat with Bellatrix Lupin-Black on page 5.’

 

Beyond the paragraph covering the front page of the newspaper was an enormous picture of Harry Potter and his infuriating friends clapping politely as cloaked wizards trekked into the Ministry and surrendered their wands. Rabastian stared blankly at Lucius.

“What the fuck are we going to do?” he hissed. “Our Lord will have our heads if we don’t tell him!”

“He will have our heads if we do” replied an equally terrified looking Malfoy. “All those fools He has been working with will be at the Ministry as we speak flinging their wands away and begging for mercy!”

“We could…join them” Rabastian offered in a light tone, prepared to write the statement off as a bad joke, dependent on his friends reaction.

“No. Narcissa and Bellatrix will not let either of us escape with anything less than life in prison. They are aware of what we have done. Our Lord will not retrieve us again. Our only option is to tell Him and face his rage or flee.”

“He will find us” Rabastian said mournfully.

“...Shall we try anyway?” Lucius asked after a beat.

“Lets” Rabastian said quickly and jumped to his feet in relief. “Quickly now.”

They both started when the door to the dining hall creaked open and shot each other fleeting, petrified glances and shot to their feet then stood pressed next to each other to conceal the view of the paper as the Dark Lord strolled in and narrowed his red eyes at them.

“Lucius. Rabastian. Good morning to you both” he said suspiciously.

“Good morning my Lord” Lucius murmured.

“Er – morning my Lord” Rabastian echoed.

“What is it?” Voldemort hissed as the two men stepped in front of him, shoulder to shoulder, when he went to take a seat - determined to shield the paper from view.

“Nothing, my Lord. Tell me, did you remember to extinguish the candles in the study? I have been concerned of late about….about house fires” Lucius said wildly.

“House fires?” Voldemort asked slowly. Lucius nodded quickly. “From magical candles?”

“Very common these days, house fires” Rabastian said as firmly as he could manage, avoiding eye contact.

“You are both acting extremely suspiciously” the Dark Lord proclaimed. “I will be taking a seat now.” He stepped to the right and the two men before him mirrored his actions preventing his access to the table.

“Er – what’s that over there!” Rabastian yelled suddenly and pointed over the other side of the room and, ignoring the horrified look Lucius shot him when Voldemort turned back to face the doorway and attempted to fling the paper to the other side of the table, only succeeding in scattering the pages down the table.

“There is nothing there, Rabastian” Voldemort said coldly. “You are irking me. Stand aside.”

Rabastian felt a sudden wild longing that he, like his brother, had suffered Bellatrix ending his life in a shower of blood and gore. At least it had been quick. Judging from Lucius’ green tinge he felt the same. Voldemort lost his patience and with a wave of his wand blasted them across the room. I could pretend to be dead? He thought to himself wildly, noticing he was even further from the door now than he had been before. Carefully lifting his head his jaw dropped to see Lucius raise his wand in a feat of self-preservation Rabastian hadn’t thought possible while their Lord was staring in astonishment at the newspaper.

“Avada Kedavra” Lucius hissed and a green light erupted from his wand. Voldemort looked up in shock as the curse closed in on him. His hopes flared for a moment when the snake-like man appeared too shocked to move only for Nagini to rear back and lunge in front of her master as the curse struck her and collapsed to the floor dead. Voldemort turned to face them both, eyes red with rage.

“Oh no” Lucius muttered as a green flash rushed their way.

0x0x0

“I can’t believe this is working so well” Amelia muttered from her spot in between Tonks and Moody as a steady procession of sheepish magical folk made their way into the Ministry atrium, surrendered their wands and submitted to Veritaserum confirming their names, any associates they knew of and confessions before they submitted to the most intense magical suppression manacles Tonks had ever seen.

In a throwback to British colonization, the Australian Ministry of Magic had agreed to secretly house the surrendering criminals in several of the large prisons in the middle of the Australian Outback scattered all over the country for a hefty price for 12 months until they could be processed and were sent off via Portkey. Tonks had been present when Amelia had flooed to the Australian Ministry at some ridiculous hour of the morning and met with their Minister, Jack Bradman, who had appeared to find the whole hoax almost unsettlingly hilarious and then tried to explain a complicated story about Australian muggle soldiers ingeniously fleeing somewhere called Gallipoli in World War One with fancy timed guns that Tonks had not understood in the slightest but vowed to try to remember to tell Hermione about knowing she would probably find it interesting. To top it off he had offered fifty of his most trusted Aurors who all agreed to a vow of loyalty and to not reveal the hoax who would disperse themselves undercover as random citizens and try and assist with the assassination attempt and who would remain in in England for a few weeks until things settled down.

“I’m not surprised” Tonks said happily. “It was Hermione’s idea, my girlfriend is brilliant after all.”

“Very” Amelia said dryly as she scanned the room before letting out a sigh. “Oh Merlin, we need to do something about the Australians. Look at them all shivering over there, they won’t even be able to aim.”

“I dunno, that one your niece looks to be flirting with seems to be aiming pretty well” Tonks said with grin, gesturing to where Susan had sidled up to one of the younger more rakish looking Australian Aurors who had lifted his shirt up revealing chiseled abs and was showing her an enormous tattoo of a shark across his ribs. Amelia narrowed her eyes and shot off a stinging hex and he jumped about a foot in the air and shot her a concerned look.

“Er - Constant Vigilance!” Amelia shouted before raising an eyebrow at Susan who sheepishly trailed away. Moody snorted and Tonks burst out laughing.

“They are all very good looking though, very rugged” murmured Hestia Jones as she stepped up to join them where they were overseeing the latest transfer, eying them with a look of glee. It was not very often that 50 tanned, flirty, good looking foreigners spent the day loitering around your office, after all.

“We’ll need to get them some robes or they’ll stick out like a sore thumb. Do they not wear robes in Australia?” Tonks asked.

“I’ve spend some time down there. Very lax” Moody said disapprovingly. “Very good in a fight, but not much for rules or fancy uniforms.”

“Thank goodness for that” Hestia muttered.

“Auror Jones, stop your drooling and go and source them some uniforms” Amelia said with a sigh. “Auror Tonks, I must say I’m impressed you’re managing to remain somewhat composed.”

“I’m a one woman woman, Boss” Tonks said with a laugh. “Though, if I were single I’d be climbing that one like a tree” she said cheekily, pointing at one of the blond Aurors in the corner who shot her a wink and a wave and Amelia choked on her water before slapping the back of her head.

Things descended into madness a few moments later. Hestia appeared levitating an enormous pile of Auror uniforms and obviously gave a very poor explanation of where the loos where that they could change in because they promptly started taking off their shirts and trousers and reaching for the pile of uniforms and robes. Tonks saw Hestia pinch herself as if to confirm she was awake a she gazed open mouthed around the room.

“Oh my Merlin” came a gasp from behind Tonks and she turned to see a wave of people from Murrook had shown up. Tonks snorted at the gob-smacked look on most of their faces.

“Amelia, why is your office full of male strippers!” Sirius demanded irritably and scowled at them. Amelia pet his arm reassuringly.

“They’re the Australian Aurors” Tonks said helpfully. She felt herself pushed aside by Bellatrix who gawked at them unabashed.

“My god. I have to go back and get Cissy, this’ll cheer her up immensely” she said quickly. “Make sure they don’t put too many clothes on I’ll be back in a minute!” she cried sprinting out of the room.

“How the bloody hell am I meant to do that?” Tonks cried but received no response.

The women spread themselves around the room to enjoy the view while men gathered in a corner and frowned heavily as the Aussies strolled around shirtless appearing quite content. Tonks jumped when she felt a hand slip into her own.

“Well this ought to distract everyone nicely from the prospect of facing a dark wizard in a few hours” Hermione said as she took in the scene. “Bella just came sprinting into the dining room and said that the Auror office was full of male models then ran off looking for Cissa. I thought I’d come see what the hell she was talking about. Goodness they’re all very good looking aren’t they?”

“They’re not that good looking” came the sullen voice of Ron as he scowled in the corner. To her surprise Draco was beside him and nodded firmly in agreement.

“Luna! Luna what’re you doing?” Ginny hissed and covered her face with her hands in horror as she Luna happily strolled down the stairs to one of the shirtless Aurors and smiled at him.

“Hello little lady” he said with a grin that showed off his perfect white teeth.

“Please excuse me for a moment” she said politely then stepped against him and ran her tongue up his arm. He gazed at her, apparently bemused. “Salty” she proclaimed happily and skipped back towards the stairs. Hermione had got such a bad case of the giggles she had to hold onto the railing for support.

“Look at McGonogall” Harry spluttered suddenly and pointed at the door across the other side of the room where she had entered carrying a large box of potions and promptly froze in shock.

“Let me get that for you Miss” cried one of the Australians as he jogged up to her and relieved her of the crate and paced a hand gently on the small of her back. “May I?”

“Yes, you may young man” McGonogall said simply and smirked a little as she allowed herself to be led towards the stairs that everyone else was waiting on.

“Bellatrix, Andromeda, will you release me at once, I don’t know what you think you’re doing” came an angry hiss behind them as Bellatrix reappeared with Narcissa and Andromeda as she struggled against being frog-marched down the stairs. The procession halted as Andromeda and Narcissa froze wide-eyed halfway down upon catching a glimpse of the half-naked Aurors. Some of them by now had managed to struggle into the uniforms and robes but they were far too tight for the larger men and stretched across their chests.

“Hello lads” Bellatrix called happily as she resumed dragging her sister down the stairs. Tonks watched, amused, as her mother shook her head quickly and resumed assisting in tugging her youngest sister down towards the now puzzled Aussies. “This is my lovely sister, Narcissa Black. Recently single!”

“G’day” came the voice of the nearest one who stepped forward and grasped her hand, pressing his lips to it, winking roguishly at her. Narcissa went a brilliant shade of pink. “I don’t know what sort of mad bastard would let a lovely lady like yourself go. Name’s Jordan Bateman, my mates call me Keg.”

“Keg?” came the horrified voice of Draco behind her.

“Lovely to meet you – er – Mr Bateman” Narcissa spluttered.

“Please, call me Jordan, or Keg even!” he insisted cheerfully, pointing at his friends who had walked up to the small huddle of people and were gazing at the three Black sisters with hopeful expressions. “This is Macca, Thommo, Andy, Bev, and my brother Johnno.”

“Charmed” Bellatrix said with a wink. “So, which one of you strapping young lads is going to take my beautiful sister out to dinner tomorrow night?” A dozen hands flew into the air. Tonks thought she heard Draco let out a strangled sob but didn’t turn to look at him, unable to tear her eyes from the mad scene in front of her.

“That’s very kind of all of you, but honestly boys, I’m hold enough to be your mother!” Narcissa said firmly.

“Bullshit! You don’t look a day over 25! None of you do” cried the one Tonks thought must be Bev. Hermione was shaking with laughter beside her as the three sisters preened. Remus growled. Ted was laughing almost as hard as Tonks and Hermione were.

“We’ll take you all out for a drink when we get rid of this Dark Lord with you” said Macca reassuringly. “All you have to do is direct us to the nearest pub girls!”

“Unfortunately, Bella and I are quite happily married” Tonks saw her mother proclaim with a shrug and a grin.

“Bring you husbands! The more the merrier!” Thommo shouted. “Who’s up for a schooner when we finish up tonight here fellas?” he yelled and was soon met with cheers from most of the room.

“Yay” squeaked Hestia.

“I’ve a horrible feeling they aren’t taking this very seriously” said Hermione quietly.

“Sometimes life’s easier that way sweets. I think they’ll go alright” Tonks said. “Everything ready?”

“Yes, Bill and Fleur have just about finished the wards downstairs and the last wave of people surrendering has just about finished being processed it looks like. Severus thinks that should be almost all of them, we’re in for a fighting chance. It seems most likely He’ll make a scene and show up partway through the speeches.”

“Good. Let’s just hope we can make it through this with as few casualties as possible” Amelia said from nearby with a heavy sigh.

“Hopefully this time tomorrow it’ll all be over” Harry said looking tentatively hopeful as he stepped forward to the railing to lean over it and look down at the Australian’s flirting wildly with the Black sisters.

“I live in hope, Mr Potter” McGonogall said.

0x0x0

Hermione sat nervously in her seat, palming her wand, torn between wishing desperately that Voldemort would make an appearance so everything could be done and absolutely dreading the idea of him appearing. Harry had been rambling on for ten minutes now after his introduction by Amelia Bones as he read a speech that she had whipped up when he was quite certain he would be unable to come up with anything to say when faced with such a large audience as hundred of people stared at him adoringly from the audience.

Flicking her eyes over the audience she caught sight of Tonks pink hair from where she stood beside one of the unmissable Australian Aurors who looked much more tall and tanned than all the stout British pure bloods filling the room and mused that despite their uniforms they still stuck out like sore thumbs as Tonks had suspected they would. She flushed suddenly at the salacious wink Tonks send her when they made eye contact and the Auror laughed quietly.

Despite her hyper vigilance she still jumped with fright when a spell suddenly bounced off the invisible field surrounding the stage and people started screaming and she jumped to her feet, drawing her wand. This was going to be the most dangerous part – Voldemort would likely go straight for Harry and she, Ron, Ginny, Luna and the twins would be trying to defend him until the Aurors and everyone else got to the stage to assist as quickly as they could before she and her friends would jump into the audience to take out any threats there. It was going to be the most risky 2 minutes or so in the whole plan. Sure enough, the wards exploded outwards as Voldemort appeared on stage.

“Harry Potter” Voldemort hissed. He looked absolutely, furiously, terrifying. His red eyes flashed as his tattered black cloak fluttered around him and he raised his wand. “Bow before me and I will make it quick. You have no hope of defeating me – I who have taken steps towards immortality no one could have dreamed of!”

“The Horcruxes are destroyed. I’m not scared of you, Tom” Harry said coldly and drew his own wand.

“You should be” he hissed angrily, his face etched briefly with surprise. “Crucio!”

Harry dove out of the way and Hermione and Ron quickly flung blasting hexes at him until Harry could launch to his feet. Ginny pointed her wand skyward and quickly blasted a chunk out of the ceiling that rained on Voldemort from above and Luna did the same and took the moment of distraction to dash forwards with Ron where the three of them flung as many spells as they could, fruitlessly, as Voldemort flicked them away.

Hermione felt herself thrown to her side as Ron pushed her out of the way of a purple flickering light that flew narrowly over her head and she flicked a flaming whip out of her wand towards Voldemort as she rolled to her feet that he dispelled with ease and she heard Ginny scream as Ron was blasted backwards into the deaths they had been sitting on.

“Avada Kedavra” he cried and Hermione flicked her wand again as a shower of birds surrounded them and absorbed the curse but screamed herself when moments later Harry was slammed back into her and they painfully hit the tiled floor. She was relieved to her him wheeze loudly as he struggled to catch his breath.

“Get up” she screeched hysterically at him only to fumble for her wand seeing lethal shards of ice flying towards them, melting into water only moments before they struck and Hermione gasped as the freezing water washed over her. It was McGonogall and Bellatrix who quickly sent a flurry of curses towards the Dark Lord. Hermione briefly marveled at the colours flying through the air above their heads.

Scrambling to her feet, dazed, and seeing Luna and Ginny yank up Harry and drag him back towards Ron to take cover behind one of the pillars Hermione cast a quick protago on Bellatrix as light flicked towards her, her back to the audience, as she and McGonogall who were quickly joined by Sirius and Andromeda attempted to force him into the corner. Allowing her eyes to flick over the audience she saw that the bulk of the crowd had attempted to flee but had been unable to escape the sealed doors and were pressing themselves against the walls while the Aurors and some of the braver audience members were locked into tight duels with the few remaining Voldemort supporters. Fleur’s voice suddenly rang out over the audience from her place beside Tonks where they battled a masked Death Eater fiercely. A few meters away one of the Aussies was being backed against an enormous marble pillar, heavily outnumbered.

“Aidez-le vous les imbeciles! Merde! You outnumber zem twenty to one!” she screeched. A few of the others in the audience threw hesitant looks around and drew their wands, flinging spells at the Death Eaters.

“That’s the way Frenchie!” cried Thommo delightedly at the wave of support. “You tell ‘em!”

Hermione paid dearly for letting herself be distracted as she was blasted across the room, landing luckily in the pool of the fountain, and felt fire scorching at her clothes and smelt and saw half her hair alight.

“Oh shit” she gasped as pain washed over her and she pulled wildly at her clothes and head.

“Hold still Miss Granger!” came a voice above her and Narcissa quickly dragged her behind another pillar and started muttering counter curses and the fire crawling across her insides began retreating and she could breath again. She took a shuddering breath.

“Here drink this, it will be painful and it will scar but there shouldn’t be any further damage” she said hurriedly handing her a potion.

“Thank you Narcssa” Hermione stumbled to her feet and collapsed against her in a brief hug. Narcissa tensed in shock but quickly reciprocated and they separated, Hermione fighting her way through the crowds before a glimmer caught her eye and she flicked her wand up in a shield, trying to ignore the ache in her chest.

“Give it up girlie” a masked man snarled, stepping forwards.

“Furnunclous!” Hermione shouted and flicked her wand, smirking in satisfaction when he dived to the right and straight into her silent, oncoming banishing spell with a satisfying crack.

“You European sheilas are bloody terrifying” laughed one of the Australian’s as he dashed over. “You right?” Hermione nodded and dashed off again while he narrowed his eyes and sent a dark hex at one of the other Death Eaters that had been about to strike Remus from behind.

Fighting her way back to the stage it appeared that Voldemort had been backed into a corner where he was still fighting furiously with barely a mark on him against Harry, Bellatrix, Andromeda, Sirius, McGonogall and Amelia and she watched as Draco clambered up onto the platform and joined the fray, a furious look on his face. Hearing a hex nearby she dropped to the floor and rolled onto her back, eyes widening as a cloaked man charged towards her and she palmed her knife and flung it at his exposed throat.

The Death Eaters, she noted as more and more audience members stepped into the fray, were dropping like flies and several off them after failing to apparate out had thrown down their wands in surrender finding themselves vastly outnumbered.

“GET UP YOU COWARDS” The furious Dark Lord screamed from the stage as he noticed the turn of the tide and Hermione felt her skin crawl as his rage washed across the room.

“Why won’t you fucking DIE” shouted Bellatrix in frustration and finally managed to get a blasting curse through his defense and he flew backwards into the wall.

“Expelliarmus!” Shouted Harry as the bone white wand flew from his hand, a flicker of triumph on his face. Snape, who looked unarmed and significantly worse for wear, had clambered up the stairs clutching onto the railing for support and stumbled into view. Draco quickly stamped on the bone white wand and smiled grimly as it snapped in two.

“You!” hissed the Voldemort venomously.

“Me” Snape said coldly, straightening his back and holding out his hand. Andromeda handed him her wand, the Elder Wand – Hermione remembered, and the world froze as he raised it. “Avada Kedavra”.

Tom Riddle slumped to the ground as his red eyes paled, and he gazed blankly towards the ceiling. Everyone with eyes to the stage had stopped with bated breath as the battle carried on behind them.

“Check he’s dead” Amelia said, leaning on the wall for support with her hands on her knees. Sirius, nursing a broken wrist and with blood dripping down his face and arm stepped immediately to her and threw one of her arms over his shoulder to help her stand.

Ron stumbled forwards, limping heavily and stared with determination at the lifeless form on the floor as he made his way over and knelt awkwardly, reaching out a shaking hand.

“He’s dead” he said quietly and Hermione exhaled with relief as McGonogall swept him into a hug, a surprised look on his face, and burst into tears. Those on the stage quickly clamored around the body and wrapped each other in hugs and Hermione grinned, turning and scanning to look for familiar pink hair and finally caught Tonks eyes, relief written all over her face.

A look of confusion crossed her face, however, as Hermione’s face went from glee to horror.

“Behind you!” she screamed and Tonks looked down in surprise as a splintered wood burst through her chest. Gazing, open mouthed in shock, at Hermione she sunk to her knees as blood started oozing down her chest. Hermione saw Jordan Bateman, the Auror who had kissed Narcissa’s hand politely hours earlier, furiously blast the Death Eater’s head from his shoulders in a burst of sudden gore. Hermione didn't remember moving but she was suddenly crouching at her side.

“That’s not ideal” Tonks murmured in a strangely calm voice as she eyed the blood covered 20 centimeter bit of wood sticking out of the left hand side of her chest and took a shuddering breath.

“Don’t you die, Nymphadora Tonks, I mean it” Hermione said dangerously, a sob escaping her.

“I meant what I said all that time ago – about having me stuffed” Tonks gasped, the colour draining from her face and her hair a mousy brown.

“Stop it!” Hermione cried. “I’m not stuffing you you’re going to be fine! Why isn’t someone helping me?” she screamed wildly but everyone was too busy celebrating to look in the corner where they were situated.

“I love you” Tonks whispered, sincerely, and raising a shaking hand to her face. Hermione faintly registered how sticky it was. “I’d have loved to do everything we talked about in the shower.”

“We still can, please” Hermione said in a pleading voice. “I can’t, I can’t do it without you.”

“What’s going on here then!” came the surprisingly cheerful voice above them. It was Macca. “Ooh, that looks like it doesn’t tickle” he said with a wince, looking at Tonks.

“What?” she spluttered incoherently, gazing between him and Tonks, increasingly pale on the ground, in shock.

“Looks like a classic case of wood through the lung” he said, scratching at his stubble. Hermione fumbled for her wand to hex him into the next century.

“Hold up there missy, she’ll be right mate. We’ll have her right in a jiffy” he said with a wink. Hermione couldn’t move, feeling as though she had landed in some strange alternate universe. “You’re a metamorphmagus, yeah?”

Tonks nodded.

“Alright, here’s what were going to do. I’m going to yank this bit of wood out, Thommo here – OI! THOMMO! GET YOUR HAIRY ARSE OVER HERE WOULD YA? Cheers mate, yeah Tommy-boy’s going to wait til I yank it out and start flicking his wand around inside you here to get all that shite out of ya, and your pretty little girlfriends going to give you the kiss of life. Know CPR kid? Goodo, just do the breathing bit. All you have to do is heal those lungs then you’re done, right?”

“You’re mad!” Hermione and Tonks said. Tonks sounded strangely awed. Hermione was horrified, still.

“After you pass out from the pain and wake up you have to promise to set me up with your pretty blond aunt though, got it? I’ll let you keep the wood as a memento. Alright, on the count of three then. One. Two.”

“Stop!” Hermione screamed.

“THREE!” Kneeling to hold her in position Macca, with a look of intense concentration, reefed the wood out and Tonks gasped in pain as blood spurted out of the wound. “Quick mate, your up!” he said happily, slapping her on the shoulder. Hermione stared at him, wide-eyed for a moment. Not knowing what else to do she leant forward, tilted Tonk’s head back and pinched her nose then breathed firmly into her mouth. “Keep going! I’ll tell you when to stop mate” Macca said from behind her as Hermione forced another breath through.

“WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?!” Came Andromeda’s hysterical voice in the back ground.

“Hold this wood, wouldja?” I’ll start compressions in a sec if she doesn’t level out” Macca said cheerfully.

“Oh, that was a big bit!” Thommo said gruffly in the background. Hermione could look, unable to tear her eyes away from Tonks as she counted and the minutes passed. One two three breath. One two three breath.

“Look at that! Lungs are as good as new!” Macca said excitedly. “You can stop now for a sec mate, see if she can do it on her own. She’s unconscious now. Stitch her up Tommy-boy.”

Hermione scrambled backwards a little, reaching her hand out, reasssured to feel a faint but steady pulse and see Tonks’ mangled chest rise and fall while Thommo waved his wand, muttering under his breath, and the wounds slowly closed. Finally, he leant bedck on his haunches and Macca knelt beside him, looking over the wound carefully and seemed satisfied. He looked to Hermione and gave her a nod.

“It’s destroyed the muscles in her back and chest where the wood went through kid but she can build them back up again if she takes it easy, no worries. What a relief. I wasn’t sure that’d work at all” he said with a laugh. Hermione finally snapped and dove towards him, slugging him in the face as hard as she could.

“You fucking mad Australia bastard!” she screamed. “You could’ve killed her! You didn't know what you were doing!?” she shrieked incredulously. Thommo, she could hear in the background, was laughing hysterically. She tried to hit him again as she felt strong arms pull her backwards and was tugged into Bellatrix’s familiar smell.

“Shhh kitten it’s alright now.”

Hermione pressed her face into her shoulder and sobbed. “A classic case of wood through the lung” she mumbled faintly, hysterically.

“Everything is going to be fine” sniffed Andromeda from behind her and Hermione threw an arm around her as well.

0x0x0

Tonks felt a vague awareness wash over her as voices drifted over the top of her.

“You’ve a mean right hook Granger, I’ve not seen Macca with a black eye like that in years” came a cheerful voice.

“It’s true! No one’s slugged me one like that in at least a decade, woulda knocked me on my arse if I hadn’t already been on the ground. Ever thought of coming to Aus? You’d fit right in mate.”

“Er – look, I’m very sorry about punching you. It was very rude, considering you’d just saved Tonks’ life and all. I feel awful. When I’d had a chance to process things earlier this evening I sort of realised that there was no way she could’ve been moved like that and I might have...overreacted a bit. I was overwhelmed, a tad.”

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it miss, he needs a good kick up the arse every now and again to keep him in check!”

“No need to apologise at all Granger, the whole thing was enormous fun!”

“You really are a bunch of lunatics aren’t you?” came Bellatrix’s amused voice.

“Black! You were unreal mate! I’ve never seen anyone wield a wand like that. You’re husbands a lucky man. You’d fit right in as well. Wouldn’t want you spending too much time around my wife though in case she got any ideas on how to hex my stupid arse more than she already does.”

“I try” came Bellatrix’s haughty voice.

“Will you all go away” hissed an impatient voice that could only be Poppy Pomfrey. “Nymphadora needs to rest!”

“Nymphadora!” came the cry of one of the Australians. “Here name’s Nymphadora? God no wonder she prefers Tonks. What a bloody stupid name. No offense Andy!”

“None taken” came her mothers dry voice.

“I suggested Nymphadora as a joke” Bellatrix explained. “Unfortunately Andy liked the name.”

“Will you all stop saying the word Nymphadora? Christ my shoulders killing me” Tonks mumbled as her eyes flickered open and she winced.

“She’s awake! Get Johnno to chuck the beers in the fridge so they’re ready!”

Tonks blinked away the bright light in the room and looked around as her mother leaned over her.

“Hi mum.”

“Dora, darling I’m so glad you’re alright” Andromeda said with watery eyes as she squeezed her hand. “I’ll go tell the other’s you’re alright. Ben’s been dying to see you.”

“How’s my favorite niece?” Bellatrix said with a grin. “You’ve kept us waiting for two days now, bout time you got up. Kitten’s not left.”

Tonks’ eyes flickered to her right where Hermione was sobbing silently into one of the shoulder of one of the Australian’s she didn't know, who had his arm around her and was patting her back reassuringly.

“You alright sweets?” Tonks croaked.

“Got yourself a real firecracker there mate” said Macca with a chuckle. His eye was black and swollen, which he gestured to with a wink.

“Baby come here” Tonks said and lifted her right arm and Hermione, still sobbing, relocated herself from the chair to the bed where she sobbed into Tonks’ shoulder instead. “I’m alright, see? I’ll be good as new soon.”

“I was so worried” Hermione sobbed, the sound muffled by her face being pressed into Tonks’ hospital gown. “I thought you were dead. I nearly killed Macca in a fit of rage.”

“I can see that” Tonks said with a laugh. “You can’t just go around punching Australian men, even if they seem to like it.”

“Macca is a twisted sort, he is” proclaimed Bev cheerfully. “I bet he loved it.”

“I did” Macca said reassuringly. Hermione lifted her tired, red eyes finally and met Tonks’ violet ones and the older witch cracked a grin.

“See, everything's fine love. I’m fine and Maccas fine, the Dark Wanker is dea- mmph!”

Hermione had pressed her lips agasint Tonks’ own and kissed her firmly. Tonks quickly opened her mouth and leaned into it, tangling a finger in her hair to pull her closer. The room erupted into wolf-whistles.

“Yes, alright, no need to scar us all for life” Bellatrix said with a laugh as they finally broke for air.

“Ignore her, don’t stop on our account” Thommo said with a cheeky grin.

“OUT! All of you!” shouted Madame Pomfrey as she bustled into the room.

“Scary sheila, that one” Macca remarked as he stretched and stood up. “Come on lads. We’ve got some pubs to assess for Saturday.”

“What’s happening Saturday?” Tonks asked in interest as they trailed from the room.

“Apparently we’re all waking up at the crack of dawn to go on something called a pub crawl” Hermione said, rolling her eyes but grinning none the less. “You should be out of here by then and they’ve been waiting impatiently.”

“That sounds like fun. Plenty of time for me to rest up and tie you to the bed for three days before we go out then” Tonks murmured.

“You need rest!” Pomfrey declared from the next room. “There will be no bed-tying or pub crawls until I am satisfied you are healed!”

“Come and take a look at me quickly then” Tonks said with a laugh.

0x0x0

Tonks grinned cheerfully the following Saturday evening as she swigged at the cold muggle beer the Australian’s had been plying her with and wrapped her arm around her tipsy girlfriend as gazed around the pub. Harry, in a hushed voice due to the muggles nearby, was half-pissed himself and grasping Ginny’s hand firmly as he regalled the Australian’s with the tale of his defeat of the baslisk while they listened attentively and chatted about how poisonous the Baslisk and Nagini would have been compared to some of the normal snakes they had in Australia.

Sirius and Amelia where huddled in a corner, and he raised his glass with a nod to one of the Aurors who walked past, apparently having decided along with the rest of the men that the Aussies were ‘alright’ after the Ministry battle. Ted was chatting about potions to Snape and Xeno Lovegood, and McGonogall was placed in a small table with the Black sisters who were laughing uproariosly at something Bellatrix had said. Neville chatted happily to a relaxed Draco and Luna was dancing with an awkward looking Ron to a folk tune the band was playing.

“Finish your drinks! Next pub in fifteen minutes!” someone shouted suddenly and Hermione groaned as she lifted her beer and downed it.

“How are you holding up, love?” Tonks asked as she finished her own glass and dropped it on the table.

“I’m fucked” Hermione said quietly with a laugh.

“Not yet you’re not. Had any thoughts about the Aussies offer?” Tonks said with a wink.

“I have, actually. I think laying on a secluded beach on the other side of the planet for three weeks sounds absolutely amazing” Hermione said with a sultry look.

“Mmm. Will we be wearing anything?”

“Absolutely not. That’s why we’re going to a secluded one” she said and nipped at Tonks’ neck.

“I can hardly wait, then. What did McGonogall say about your exams?”

“She thinks that if I put my head down and study for a few weeks when we get back I should be ready to take my NEWTs at the end of August and I’m already fairly ahead with most of the basic classes anyway. Frankly I’m just ready to get you into bed” she said with a grin, slipping her hand under Tonks shirt.

“I’m going to take you out drinking more often” Tonks said, eyes alight with desire.

“Can we settle now for just taking me somewhere private right now?” Hermione said, biting her lip.

“Ever shagged in a pub toilet before?” Tonks said with a waggle of the eyebrows.

“You know I bloody haven’t, you git.”

“Come on then” Tonks laughed and rolled her shoulder experimentally, pleased with how much better it was feeling.

“Taking a detour are we?” Johnno said with a laugh as they stumbled towards the loos.

“Yeah but zip it will ya? My bloody mother’s right over there” Tonks said with a laugh before she was tugged away.

“If you vanish my clothes I will kill you” Tonks said quietly as they slipped into the stall. Hermione just smirked at her and reefed down her pants before pulling out her wand and her knickers disappeared into thin air. “Oh my god what did I just say? Oh – oh my god” Tonks said though clenched teeth as Hermione quickly slipped two fingers inside her.

“Stop complaining and fuck me” Hermione husked into her ear and Tonks bit back a moan and slipped deft fingers into the front of Hermione’s jeans, grinning as she rolled her hips involuntarily.

Within minutes Tonks had found her shuddering release and quickly focused on obtaining her girlfriends.

“Keep it down!” she laughed quietly. “Unless you want mum to head you getting off!”

“Stop being so good at it then” Hermione said as she threw her head back against the cubical wall and moaned loudly before the door swung open just as her walls tightened around Tonks fingers.

“Girls! What are you doing in there? It’s time to go!” Andromeda yelled. Tonks kept her other hand clamped over Hermione’s mouth as she gazed at her in drunken horror.

“Nothing! Be out in a sec.”

“Oh Merlin” Andromeda said and Tonks could hear the scowl in her voice. “Hurry up then. I don’t want to know.”

“Never would’ve picked you for a randy drunk” Tonks said quietly as they fixed their clothes and stumbled out of the loo, ignoring everyones amused looks and made their way down the road to the next pub to drink them out of beer. Tonks laughed loudly as Hermione tripped over the pavement and nearly fell onto the ground and caught her by the back of her shirt. “It’s nice not being the clumsy one.”

“Shut up” Hermione laughed. “How are you less clumsy drunk?”

“Haven’t the foggiest. It’s a delightful perk though” she said with a wink.

“I think you’re delightful” Hermione said, beaming at her. “I thought you were delightful the second you fell over in the hallway after you saved me from that big clock at Grimmauld Place.”

“We’ve come full circle” Tonks laughed as Hermione tripped up the step and smacked into Harry, collapsing to her knees before she rolled onto her back and looked up at Tonks from the ground. “Smooth.”

“Prat” Hermione said fondly. “Love you.”

“Love you too.”