Dancing With StrangersDisclaimer:
I own nothing but the Catscratch.Summary:
Being a forgetful metamorphmagus is not always fun. Tonks tries to chat up a prospective boyfriend every night for a week at a Muggle club. The only problem is, she can never remember what she looked like the night before… Author’s Note:
This was a challenge from my friend Angelina.
Day 1: Friday (Halloween)
It started out a fun night among friends. Ginny, Hermione and Luna, having decided Tonks was entirely too maudlin for her own good (Luna’s “you’re going to fall through the mirror and drown in your tears” had been the last straw), invited her out to the Catscratch, a new club/pub which had opened up in Muggle London. They dragged their rather reluctant boyfriends along…purely for drink purposes (“In other words, they buy the drinks, we get smashed,” Ginny said matter-of-factly), of course. And Tonks came alone.
But it wasn’t weird. Everyone was dancing together, in a group, enjoying the very different Muggle music. Eventually, however, Ginny, Hermione and Luna felt like a drink. They went back to the table, joining their boyfriends who had dropped out about fifteen minutes earlier, the wimps.
Tonks wasn’t ready to retire yet; she loved to dance. And, strangely enough, she was good at it. Very good. The clumsiness she’d experienced all her life disappeared when the music began, not to reappear until the last note had fully died. Her body knew when to move, and which way, it was instinct, not a skill she’d cultivated. So, eyes closed, she twisted sinuously to the throbbing beat, lost in her own dream world, when someone joined her.
“You’re a great dancer.” The accent was American, the tone to high to be male.
Opening her eyes, Tonks spun gracefully until she was facing the girl. She was short and slender, with curves that would make most people drool. She was dressed as little red riding hood, right down to the cape with a scarlet hood.
“Thanks,” she said coolly, taking the other girl’s hands. One eyebrow rose slightly at the calluses. They were from a weapon, no two ways about it. “I’m T-Dora…Dora Lupin. You?” She couldn’t introduce herself as Tonks anymore.
“Ashley Croft. So what’s a fantabulous dancer like you doing all alone?” Her wide dark eyes were full of secrets, yet her mouth spoke of a certain openness of character.
Three other girls joined them. One was a lithe brunette with red face make up like blood on her cheeks, dressed as an Amazon. One had hair almost as red as Ginny’s, dressed as a bard. The last had a wild tangle of black braids, and skin the colour of coffee. Her getup was odd, a tiny mini-skirt and white tank, old-fashioned bow and arrow slung over her shoulder. All four moved with a dangerous sensuality that screamed of forbidden nights and black magic.
Ashley giggled, a strangely decadent sound. “You do it very well, too. Where’d you learn?”
“Just born like this, I suppose. And you four, where did you learn?”
“It’s a recent thing,” the dark-skinned one said dryly. “My name is Asha Wilson, you are?” There was a strange tinge of something not quite human in her tone. Tonks felt as though she were being sized up, in fact the three newcomers seemed to be deciding how much of a threat she might be.
“Chloe Young,” the redhead introduced herself, placing a hand on Tonks’ hip for a sensuous shimmy.
“No last name?” Tonks smiled slightly. “I’m Dora Lupin.”
“We know, we heard you introduce yourself to Ashley.” Dana’s face was blank as a stone. “And no. I do not have a last name.”
Tonks bit her lip, and kept dancing. They were all wonderful dancers, and she definitely enjoyed dancing with them. They had such a sense of rhythm and beat…she’d never done this with people so talented before, it was an exhilarating experience. Still, she tired long before they did, and made her way over to the bar for a drink.
“Can I have a water, please?” she asked, smiling politely at the bartender and going to sit down. Unfortunately, she didn’t quite manage it, and tumbled into the lap of the man sitting beside her.
“Easy.” He helped her up.
“That’ll be 1 pound 50,” the barman said, handing over the drink.
Face burning, Tonks handed over the correct amount, and then sculled half the bottle in one gulp.
“Ladylike,” the man she’d fallen on remarked, his accent American, just like the girls. What were they all doing here?
Tonks turned slightly. “Wasn’t aiming for ladylike.” She took a smaller sip.
“You look like a witch.” He gestured to her hat and robes.
“Who says I’m not one?” She flashed him an empty smile. “I might bewitch you.”
“You already have, Circe.” His dark eye flickered, the other covered by a patch that fit with his pirate costume.
“Well, cur, you know what they say, never stare into the eyes of a sorceress.”
“Yours are purple, did you know?”
“Considering I do own a mirror, yes.” For the night, she was blonde, too, her hair the spun gold of a fairytale.
“Good. What’s your name, witch of my heart?”
Tonks shifted, uncomfortable. “Dora Lupin. And yours, Cap’n?”
“Xander Harris.” He flashed a devilish smile.Day Two: Saturday
Tonight only Luna joined her. Neville was busy, and didn’t really enjoy clubs anyway. Hermione and Ron were having one of their fights, and Ginny and Harry were…celebrating.
Dancing with Luna could be considered a life-or-death experience in some ways. She didn’t dance to the beat, preferring the song playing in her head to the one playing by the live band. Still, Tonks found it fun to try and anticipate the girl’s moves.
Would Xander be here again tonight? The purple-haired witch tried hard to squash the question. She shouldn’t be wondering that, she’d only just met him.
“Sometimes lightning strikes twice in the same place,” Luna said softly, her gentle bop better suited to a slow ballad than the hip-hop tune playing.
“Your pirate’s at the bar again. I think you should talk to him. He’s strong enough for you. Just like Remus.” She hummed a lilting tune, giving Tonks no way to respond.
Sighing, Tonks decided to take her advice. What would it hurt, really? She walked up behind him, gently placing her hands over his eyes, feeling the leather patch with surprise. “Guess who.”
Someone untouched by war would not have noticed the tightening of his muscles, the way he reached for something at his belt, before relaxing at her words. Unfortunately, Tonks was no such innocent. Still, it was really none of her business.
“I assume the lovely Circe has graced me with her presence again.”
“You assume right.” Tonks perched on the seat next to him, crossing her ankles in a ladylike fashion completely at odds with the punk outfit and wild hair.
Xander’s eye crinkled. “I thought you had blonde hair?”
“Wig.” Tonks lied efficiently. “What’s with the eye patch, Cap’n?”
“Permanent, I’m afraid.” With the ease of someone who’d become used to questions, he flipped the patch up to reveal a scarred hole.
Tonks’ gasp of horror held no revulsion and a lot of sadness. “Who did it?”
“Deranged priest…how did you know it was a who?” The look Xander gave her was odd, and full of suspicion.
Tonks smiled wearily. “I’ve had a lot to do with the lower side of humanity.”
“Close!” She laughed. “Cop.” That’s what they were called; she knew this from Muggle Studies.
“Ah.” He nodded. “Your friend’s go no idea what the beat is,” he noted, not unkindly.
Tonks smile fondly in the direction of Luna. Even her outlandish idea of fashion didn’t look so out of place here. The vintage t-shirt dress belted with a chain of tinkling bells just looked cute, especially with her banana-blonde hair twisted into buns at her temples. “She dances to her own song.”
“She certainly does.” He didn’t sound malicious, merely contemplative. “I knew a girl like her, once…” He shook his head. “So, my lady of the night, would you like to dance?”
This time the smile was decidedly flirtatious. “And what makes you think I wish to dance?”
“I’m not blind, Circe. I saw you dancing last night with my girls.” The corners of his eyes creased when he smiled.
“You don’t look old enough to be their daddy.” She looked up at him through long, dark lashes.
“No, I’m not their father.” He took her hand and led her out onto the floor just as a slow song began. “I’m their teacher. Sometimes I feel
like their father, though…or their keeper,” he muttered under his breath.
Tonks heard herself giggle, and was surprised. If the others could hear her now…they made a huge deal about her being as cheerful as a rainstorm. “I understand how you feel.” Her eyes twinkled.
“Your eyes…they were purple yesterday, today they’re blue.” Xander frowned.
‘Bloody hell! How’d I forget that?’ Tonks wondered. She nestled her head into his shoulder, giving herself some time to answer. “They change with my mood. Like hazel eyes, except they’re not hazel, they’re blue.” It was ironic; her eyes were the one part of her that usually stayed the same dark blue. Halloween and when she was pretending to be someone else were the only times she changed them. Predictably, things had once again gone wrong.
He smelled nice. It was something that came to her slowly, as they gently swayed to the music. Like ash trees, pinesap and old books. His muscles were hard under his clothing; she loved the feel of them, shifting with every move. On instinct, she caressed his shoulders, letting out a tiny sigh of contentment.
Xander’s hand rested on her long violet hair, cupping the back of her head.
He felt so different from Remus, and yet…the same. There was a beast under his skin, not a werewolf, but a rippling danger all the same.Remus.
She stumbled out of his arms, tripping over her high heels and landing flat on her arse. “I-I’m sorry,” she stuttered, standing up quickly. “I have to go.”
With a whispered word to Luna, she was out of there. A quiet spell had her Disapparating away from the Catscratch, and back to the safety of her apartment.Day Three: Sunday
This time, she was alone. No one to hide behind, no one to protect her. Tonks wondered why she came back tonight. Why she wanted so dearly to see Xander again. What was so special about him that she wanted so badly to stroke the lines from his face, and kiss the frown away? And if she was so eager to see him, why was she two hours later than the past two nights?
He was sitting at the bar again, shoulders hunched. The four girls were back, dancing together once more. Ashley noticed her, blue eyes lighting up. She ran over, giving Tonks a tight hug.
“You’re back! You weren’t here when we finished yesterday.” The blonde’s full lips turned down in a pout.
Tonks smiled. “‘lo, Ashley. I guess you got here too late.”
“Yeah…oh well! We can dance now! I’ve got mundo amounts of energy!”
The other three joined them as they danced, and for two hours Tonks forgot her worries and her sorrows in the soothing dance.
“X-man’s looking at you,” Ashley said quietly. “Go to him.” The push was by no means gentle, and had Tonks tripping over to the bar on her spindly heels to sit beside him yet again.
“Hallo, Xander,” she said softly.
“Hey.” He didn’t look up from his drink. “What’re you doing here, Dora?”
Tonks winced. “I…I came to see you…” she replied.
“Did you have something über important yesterday evening, so you had to run out on me without a word?” His brown eyes were full of hurt when he looked at her.
“Ouch, you got me…” She ran a hand through her pink hair. “I just…déjà vu, I suppose. My boyfriend used to hold me like that.” She bit her lip, looking down at the pocked bench top.
“He died?” Xander’s tone said he understood all too well.
“Yes…there was…bad stuff happening, and he didn’t make it.” Salty tears dripped down her cheeks.
“Yeah, me too. She didn’t make it, either.”
Tonks gripped his hand in empathy. “We’re both scarred, aren’t we,” she said softly.
“Yeah. Yours are all on the inside, though. Mine are both.”
A slow, decadent smile blossomed on Tonks’ face. “They’re not all on the inside, Xander,” she goaded. “Let’s dance.”
“Better to dance than to walk,” was her cryptic answer. She wanted to forget Remus again, forget the pain that never left her.
It appeared Xander agreed with her, since he took her arm and led her onto the floor without another word. When his arms closed around her – why was it that a ballad always came on just as they began? – she did her best not to shiver in delight.
A low chuckle sounded in her ear. “You’re as obsessed as my girls. They come here every night to dance, too.”
He shrugged. “They have night jobs, and this helps them come down.”
“You’re their teacher and you don’t mind them having jobs that might detract from their education?”
Xander smiled fondly. “Nothing could detract from their education. They know well that if they fall below an A, they can’t go out to their jobs OR dancing until they pull them back up.”
“Those are rather extravagant measures.” Tonks frowned.
Xander shrugged. “It’s a private school with lots of rules. But the girls are alive…uh, safe and happy, so I count my job done.”
‘Alive? Why is that so important?’ “Well, so long as they’re happy, it doesn’t matter. There’s so little to be happy about…”
“So long as the sun rises tomorrow morning, and there’s still a box of twinkies in my pantry, I’m happy,” Xander said confidently.
Tonks giggled. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Club’s closing,” Dana said from behind them.
Slowly, Xander and Tonks broke apart.
Ashley yawned. “I have a test tomorrow morning, so I need to get a coupla hours sleep, Xan-man. Can we go now?”
“Assignment,” Chloe noted.
“Report.” Asha stretched. “It’s only half done.”
“I guess we’d better go, then.” Xander rolled his eye. “See you soon, Circe.”
Tonks saluted mockingly. “Wotcher, Cap’n.”Day 4: Monday
He wasn’t here. She’d arrived early this time, dressed in her very best and looking pretty spiffing if she did say so herself. But he wasn’t here.
She spent the entire evening dancing, trying to figure out what was wrong. Maybe he didn’t really like her all that much.
Alive…why did that word haunt her so? Why did she get the feeling that all of them being alive was something strange.
Dimly, she remembered him saying something about working in a school on a hill. There weren’t many hills in London or the surrounding areas, and she could only think of two schools on hills. The Calendar Academy for Gifted Girls, and a strange one called Stodgens or something similar. They hit one another over the head with sticks, there. It couldn’t be Stodgens. The Calendar Academy seemed her most viable option.
‘Dammit, Tonks, think. You’re nutters for considering trying to find him. He’ll think you’re a stalker!’ she berated herself.
‘No. There’s something wrong; I can feel it. Just like when Remus died…he’s in trouble.’
Without a thought to how it would look, Tonks rushed out of the Catscratch and into the phone booth outside. Feverishly, she flicked through the phonebook, looking for the address of the Calendar Academy. It wasn’t hard to find, and, pulling out the street directory someone had left in the booth, she checked the surrounding area. Cautiously, she didn’t want any muggles to see her; she enchanted the map to show her a true-to-life 3D depiction of the Academy and its neighbouring regions. She looked carefully, taking in every detail, memorising the exact location. Another spell told her the coordinates.
” She tapped the map with her wand, and then transfigured her clubbing outfit (a leather mini skirt, black stilettos and a spangled blue halter top) into something a little more fitting for a school atmosphere. That is, she transfigured them into jeans, sneakers and a bubble-gum pink t-shirt that matched her hair. Totally Witchin’
was emblazoned across the front in black sequins.
Shrugging into her winter coat, she pulled out a quill and jotted down the coordinates and address of the school on the map, which she shoved into her pocket.
“All set,” she mumbled to herself. Placing her wand against her temple, she imagined the Academy, and the coordinates. With a sharp ‘crack’, she was gone.
There were wards around the large Victorian manor that served as the Academy; she couldn’t even get inside the gates. They turned her around, and spat her out just outside the grounds.
“Ouch…” Getting up, Tonks winced at the sharp pain travelling up her back. That would teach her for assuming just because it wasn’t classed as a school for magic, it wasn’t one.
But Xander never said anything about being a wizard…and he didn’t feel like one, which led her to believe he wasn’t. A mixed school, then? They DID happen, especially in the Americas. If they’d branched out, it was certainly a possibility.
Shaking her head – her musings would get her nowhere, and this had opened up all sorts of potential for a lengthened relationship, Tonks made her way to the gates and looked for a way to open them. Scrolled lettering on a gold plate next to the gates caught her eyes.Enter stranger, but take heed,
If your mission here be death or greed,
Those within will not let be,
Until no evil they do see.
But stranger, if your quest harm none,
Come and join the group of One.
For we are a kind and friendly folk,
So long as unkind words remain unspoke.
Shaking her head, Tonks put her hand on the gate. Green light travelled along the metal, and it opened of its own accord. Weird, but hey, she was a witch. Weird was her business.
She made her way up to the looming mansion, and frowned at the sight before her. She came to an abrupt halt, as she realised what she was seeing. Dozens of teenage girls were fighting off demons; there were also a few witches, although not her kind of witches. And ordinary Muggles…Xander!
Her disbelieving eyes saw him tearing into the demons and vampires with a singular intensity, his eyes flashing golden, teeth bared. He wasn’t a vampire, no…the magic she could feel coming off of him was different. He had a Beast, like Remus but not…he was in control of the beast.
Stumbling back, she turned and ran. She needed to think.Day 5: Tuesday
Dissatisfied with her appearance, Tonks blew a raspberry at the mirror. Try as she might, she couldn’t remember what she looked like on Sunday. She knew she’d had blue eyes, he commented on them. But what colour was her hair? It changed with her mood, without her even thinking about it most of the time.
What to do? He wouldn’t believe a last minute dye job, she was sure. She had to get it right!
Sneering at her reflection, she let her hair do what it willed for once. This resulted in silky curls of blue-black, her natural hair colour and style. She hated it; with her blue eyes she looked partly like a female Sirius, and partly like Aunt Bellatrix.
Right now, those blue eyes were gravitating to a muddy brown in anger. Carefully, she forced them back. No need to give Xander more ammunition than he already had. She could pass off the different colour if she was lucky. Different eyes, definitely not.
Sighing at her own stall tactics, Tonks looked for something to wear. She should have known, should have figured it out. He wasn’t a teacher (well, not first and foremost, anyway), he was a Watcher. Those girls were Slayers, which explained the predatory movements, and the unnatural grace. Xander was not a wizard, but neither was he a full Muggle. That explained the tingles she felt around him, he’d been a part of some very strong magic in the past. Perhaps not the centre of it, but not on the outside, either.
“Oh, Xander, I wish I could figure you out,” she sighed.
“You never will if you don’t get going,” her mirror remarked acidly.
Uttering a yelp at the time, Tonks scrambled out the door.
The Catscratch was full, as usual. All four Slayers were there, seeming none the worse for their fight yesterday. Xander, sitting at the bar, didn’t look so good. His shoulders were tight with pain.
Biting her lower lip, Tonks walked over. “Are you okay, Cap’n?” she asked, concerned.
“Fine, had a rough night, last night.” His voice was carefully neutral.
“Yuck.” Tonks didn’t make any more of it. If he didn’t want to tell her, she wouldn’t make him. Still, now she knew who he was…he was THE Xander Harris, the Xander who had saved the world more times than she could count. She could trust him if she wanted to. He was familiar with magic, and with fighting against evil.
‘Not now!’ her mind pleaded. ‘One more night, just let me have one more night…’
Deciding that was as good a reason as any not to break the Statute of Secrecy, Tonks lightly turned the subject to teaching. “Do you enjoy it?”
Xander frowned into his beer. “Yeah, I guess so…I think I enjoy most helping the girls to become more than what they are.”
“It’s a noble aspiration. Some of my best friends are teachers. One of them told me once that he counted the year a success if the dunce of the class learned one thing.”
Xander was startled into laughing. “That was me in high school.”
Smiling ruefully, Tonks nodded. “Me as well…I wasn’t interested in school work at all. Mum finally got sick and tired of my grades and got me a tutor. I thought he was so handsome, my marks soared to impress him. I ended up doing very well. Of course, that had the unfortunate effect of leaving Remus without a job…but by that time I liked getting good marks. I never got over my crush, though.”
“I was just a slacker.” Xander shrugged.
Surprised, Tonks laughed. “Yeah, I knew people like that,” she said, thinking of Ron and, to a lesser extent, Harry. “So you didn’t have a smart best friend to help you?” She felt like kicking herself the moment the words were out. Of course he had. Willow Rosenberg, one of the witches who’d been casting spells last night. She was a genius, apparently, a pure genius.
“Yeah, I had my friend Wills, but you know how it is…sometimes we just don’t want the help.” Xander took a sip of his beer. “Were you here last night?”
Tonks shook her head. “Not for long, anyway. I saw you weren’t here, so I left.”
“Awww, you were there just for me? How sweet.” Xander pretended to swoon, then looked at her for the first time all evening. “You changed your hair again.”
Tonks touched the curls hesitantly. “This is my real hair colour, actually, and my real hair style. I just…well, I’m not overly fond of the way I look with this hair.”
“I look halfway between my aunt…who’s a real bitch, by the way, up on the scale with Hitler, there, and my favourite cousin. He was my mum’s favourite cousin, too…looking like him makes it hurt more. He’s dead.”
“Well, I think you’re pretty.” He pushed an errant curl away from her face, caressing her cheekbone.
Tonks laughed shortly, trying to ignore the tingly feeling of her skin where he’d touched her. “So’s Aunt Bella.” She ran a hand through her hair, mussing it into a tangle.
With a soft chuckle, Xander began to repair the damage, carefully rearranging the dark locks. “You can’t help who you look like, it’s a matter of genetics.”
‘I can.’ But she didn’t say that. Instead, smiling, she leant in, and gave him a kiss. That kiss was followed by another, then another, sparkling between them like dewdrops. Then she was in his lap, and they were kissing as though they’d never let go.
Something that broke when Remus died mended then, a new piece slotting neatly into place and making Nymphadora Tonks Lupin whole once more.Day 6: Wednesday
Tonks skipped into the Catscratch Club straight from work, blue eyes sparkling. She stopped in front of Xander’s chair, kissing him on the head. “Hey there, Cap’n!” she chirped.
Xander turned around, smiling. “Hey Circe. Wanna dance?”
“Sure.” Tonks led him onto the floor, easily settling into his arms. “I’m so glad we met one another,” she whispered against his shirt.
“Me, too.” His hand traced the shape of her cheek, then he pulled away, holding her at arm’s length. “What are you?” he asked abruptly.
“Huh?” Tonks looked up at him, confused.
“Who are you? You’re not Dora. You look like her, but your face shape is slightly different.” The hazel eyes were full of suspicion. “You smell
like her, too. What did you do to Dora?
“I…I am Dora…” She’d forgotten to change back to her original self. Her hair was short today, but still dark. Her face, however…she changed little details all the time just because she felt like it. It was usually very subtle, but even slight changes to face shape had the effect of making her look completely different. Well, nothing for it, now. “Come with me,” she requested beseechingly.
When he frowned, she smirked.
“I promise, I won’t turn you into a newt or eat you,” she teased. “Witch’s honour.”
“You’re a witch?”
“Not the same kind as your friend Willow, but yes. Come with me somewhere private, and I’ll explain. You can call them on the telephone first; let them know what you’ll be doing, if you wish.”
Immediately, Xander pulled out a mobile phone, dialling a series of numbers. “Wills? Xander here. It’s a code green, I’m going to be busy for a while. If I haven’t called you in half an hour, scry for me. Okay. Bye.” He glared at Tonks. “Well?”
“Let’s go to my house. It’s not far from here, and far more private.”
“No. Somewhere public.”
Rolling her eyes, Tonks nodded. “Ice cream, then.” Ignoring Xander’s confusion, she dragged him outside and into the alleyway. “Hold on, tight, Cap’n,” she commanded softly, wrapping her arms around him. Moments later, they appeared in the tiny back garden of the Leaky Cauldron.
Xander wrenched himself away from her, face a little green. Tonks could sympathise. First time she Apparated, she threw up for three days. It just didn’t suit her most of the time.
“What did you do?” he asked finally, managing not to vomit.
“It’s called Apparating. Basically, we disappear from somewhere, and reappear somewhere else. We have to know the coordinates of where we want to go, have a picture, or at least be very familiar with it. Otherwise, we’re likely to get splinched. Splinching basically means leaving something behind, like a leg or an eye or our vital organs.” She smiled cheerfully.
The one-eyed Muggle shuddered in horror. “Gross.”
“Oh, very. Never mind, I’ve never left something behind, yet. Give me a moment.” She didn’t want to go into Diagon Alley looking like herself. The War had made them all famous, and she didn’t need any interruptions.
Closing her eyes, Tonks pictured her new face in her mind’s eye. Her lime-green spiky hair changed to toffee brown and grew until it reached her waist in waves. Her eyes changed shape, becoming round and large, turning a murky grey. One corner of her mouth quirked a little, and her eyebrows arched. Finally, her cheekbones sank slightly, and her figure rounded out. She wasn’t so pretty anymore, but curvy and comfortable. Most importantly, her face wasn’t so symmetrical, one eye slightly smaller, and a bump in her nose indicating a break in the past.
“There, how do I look? Like Dora Lupin, or like Annie Huberts?” Her voice was different too; she affected a lilting Yorkshire accent in place of her slightly Cockney one.
“What are you?” There was suspicion, reserve, and awe in his tone.
“Human.” She took that as the answer that she didn’t look anything like herself anymore, and took out her wand. Briefly tapping the required bricks, she stood back as the Alley appeared before them. “Welcome to Diagon Alley, home of the best ice cream in all England, if not the world.”
“You’ve never heard of Ben and Jerry’s, then,” Xander joked.
Smiling mysteriously, Tonks beckoned for him to follow her.
Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parloure was open 24 hours a day, although children weren’t allowed in after 7 o’clock. After dark, the Parloure’s outside seating vanished, and everyone moved into the warmth, light and camaraderie the interior offered.
“I’m assuming chocolate is okay for you?” Tonks asked Xander, who was looking around, wide-eyed. No wonder, really. There was a couple in one corner who were sharing a Drooble Dipper, made with Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, which made you hiccup purple bubbles for fifteen minutes. Not to mention, if you laughed after a Drooble Dipper, you’d end up floating near the ceiling.
“Fine…I like chocolate.” Xander’s eye was scanning the room for threats. However, unless he thought the group of four obviously drunk girls in their early twenties getting pissed off Mulled Mead Sundaes were going to attack him, she didn’t think there’d be any issues.
“Okey dokey.” She turned to the waitress. “One Golden Honeyduke’s Sundae and a vanilla-fudge-butterbeer milkshake please.”
“Sure thing!” the waitress chirped. “Just sit down and I’ll bring them to you.”
“Thanks.” Tonks and Xander headed over to a table. “Okay…I suppose I should begin with my real name, huh?” she asked after they sat down.
“Well, Dora Lupin technically IS my name, but my full name is Nymphadora Andromeda Cassiopeia Tonks-Lupin. And I’m a witch.” She sighed. “I know who you are. You’re Alexander Lavelle Harris. You saved the world countless times with the Last One Slayer, Elizabeth Anne Summers, affectionately known as Buffy. You’re best friends with the Red Witch, Willow Rosenberg, who almost destroyed the world, but also activated the Potential in all the Slayers, and is a true portrayal of Earth Magick. You’ve almost died far more times than I can count, and you’ve been doing this since you were fifteen. In our world, you’re a legend. If it weren’t for the fact that America is outside our jurisdiction, and the Wizarding World refuses to help Slayers since they are connected to the Watcher’s Council, plus we’ve been dealing with a major war of our own, we’d likely have offered our help during the battle with the First.”
Tonks shook her head. “But irrelevant. Imagine all the clichés about magic you can. The wands, the robes, the pointy hats and flying on brooms…those things are all true. I’m an Auror, which is our equivalent of a cop, but more a detective, really. There are stages, like any precinct. I’m pretty high up, since I was in the last war. Oh, and Merlin existed. We talk about him all the time, he’s our swearword. For example, Merlin’s beard, you gave me a fright when you grabbed me.” She smiled cheekily, then her face dropped.
“I suck at this explaining thing, sorry.”
“Can all of you change your appearance?” asked Xander sceptically.
Tonks shook her head. “No. I’m something of an anomaly. I’m what’s known as a Metamorphmagus. Basically, that means I can change myself into any human being I can imagine, male or female, young or old, pretty or ugly, unique or unremarkable. If I can imagine it, I can do it. Like…do you have a photo of someone, so I can give you an example?”
Nodding, Xander took out his wallet, and flipped it open. Inside was a picture of a group, Buffy, Xander and Willow were in the foreground as teenagers, Buffy’s Watcher Rupert Giles, a dude with blue hair and a coolly aloof brunette in a tennis outfit in the background. “Change into her,” he said, pointing at the brunette.
Tonks cast a ‘Notice me not’ spell around them, and took a good look at the photo. Her figure shrank down to willowy proportions, and her hair straightened, acquiring blonde highlights. Her skin tone deepened to a bronze tan, eyes changing from grey to velvety brown. “How’s this?”
“Perfect. You look exactly like Cordelia.” There was awe in his voice, but still a little suspicion. “Why do you change your appearance all the time? Do you have some reason not to want people to recognise you?”
Tonks reverted back to Annie. “Sort of. Y’see, I’m something of a celebrity in the Wizarding World, I helped get rid of a very evil guy, sorta a mix of Attila the Hun and Hitler, all wrapped up in one baby-killing, Muggle-torturing, Supremist, Snaky package.
“But it’s more than that. For Halloween, it was fun. I wanted to look like the stereotypical Samantha Stevens witch. Partly, it’s a defence mechanism. Some guys think ‘awesome, she’ll be whoever I want her to be’. So I look outrageous to stop them approaching me. It’s also automatic. I’ve been doing it since I was little; a lot of it is just habit, now, changing with my mood. I don’t even realise I’m changing a lot of the time.” She smiled weakly. “Do…do you believe me?”
“I want to. You haven’t tried to kill me, or steal my soul yet…you don’t feel like a demon, and you don’t have a fixation with money. You’d even pass Buffy and Willow patrol, I reckon.”
“And Luna’s given you her stamp of approval, so my friends are cool, too.” Tonks shrugged.
“Why is Luna’s approval so important?”
“See, Luna might be completely crazy and live on a different planet, but she’s also the best judge of character I’ve ever known. I dunno how, maybe it’s because she sees things in a different way from the rest of us. She sees beyond the masks people put forth, and into the person behind them. Her boyfriend told me she really helped him; he has awfully low self-esteem, always has done. Anyway, the first time they met, she asked who he was, and he said ‘I’m nobody’. She turned around and said ‘no you’re not’, without even pausing. She’s just…well, she’s an amazing person, I guess.” Tonks slurped her milkshake, unabashed.
Xander took a bite of his sundae. “Hey, this is really good.”
“Chocolate always is,” Tonks replied gravely. “Look, I know it’s hard to believe, but…” Her eyes lit up, as a thought occurred to her. She could go buy ‘So You’re A Muggle-Born’ from Flourish and Blott’s. That would explain more than she ever could. Better yet…she had Dad’s old copy at home and it updated regularly through magic.
“When you’re finished, we could go to my place. I…I have a book which might help convince you…”
“No.” Xander shook his head definitively. “I don’t need more evidence.”
Tonks’ face fell. Did that mean…
“I believe you. We know all about the Wizarding World, some of our new Watchers are witches and wizards. You didn’t really give me a chance to explain that to you.”
Tonks giggled. “Idiot.”
“Still…I wouldn’t mind checking out the house of a real live witch.” Xander slanted her a look that was pure mischief.
Tonks smiled slowly. “Well, sugar, finish your sundae and then I’ll take you home to meet my kitty.”
“This is it.” Tonks swept her hand around the London townhouse she’d bought after Remus died. “My little slice of home.” It had taken them longer to walk than she’d thought. It was hard to navigate the streets of London when a hot brunette who could be fully immersed in your lifestyle distracted you, especially when he’d called his friends to let them know he was safe, and was chatting to them with the easy camaraderie she saw among the Golden Group. She was so charmed, she’d gotten lost three times.
The indigo-haired witch watched as Xander explored her lounge room. She was rather proud of it; while it wasn’t a modern home, it was cosy. All the furniture was second hand and comfortably faded, a cauldron in the corner held unused candles and parchment. A Louis XVI knock-off desk to one side was covered in books, and more parchment, along with a selection of self-inking quills, and the overstuffed settee had seen better days. The candles had flared to life the moment they came in, and a flick of a switch turned on her rather dodgy electricity. Sitting in one corner, looking completely out of place was a little television set. By the door was a hat stand, upon which cloaks and coats were hung, along with her Hogwarts Hat.
“What do you think?” she asked.
“It’s very stereotypical. Is this a Persian rug?”
“Yup. Contraband from the Ministry, actually. It’s a magic carpet, but since they’re illegal, I just protect my floor from scuff marks with it.” She grinned. “Want something to drink or eat?”
“Nah. Can…can we talk some more?” Xander sat down on the settee.
“Sure, I don’t mi-WHOA!” Tonks’ foot caught the corner of the carpet, sending her flying into Xander’s lap. “Oh Merlin, I’m so sorry!”
“Sall good, Circe, you managed to land in a way that didn’t bruise my vital parts.” He smiled crookedly.
“Hmmm…” Tonks wanted to kiss him badly, but as she was already straddling him – when did her leather couch get so large – she wasn’t sure how it would be received.
Maybe Xander wanted to kiss her too, or maybe he got the hint she was blatantly giving him. Either way, one large hand cupped the back of her head, and soon her lips were on his. He tasted of chocolate, whisky, and a healthy dose of male. She wiggled against him, worming her arms around his neck until she was lying completely atop him. His body beneath hers made her shiver, and she couldn’t stop the whimper that forced its way out of her mouth.
A decidedly ragged moan was her answer, one of Xander’s hands cupping her bottom. “Please tell me that’s real,” he murmured against her lips.
Tonks giggled. “Yes, it’s mine. Do…do you want to see me as I really am?”
“Yes. It’s kinda weird wondering which bits are you and which bits aren’t.” Xander smiled ruefully.
“Okay.” Sitting up, Tonks wiggled until she was comfortably supported by his pelvic bone, and enjoyed the pleasure-pain on his face. Slowly, she relaxed all her guards, letting the masks she wore through habit dissolve. Her hair went from short, spiky and indigo to blue-black, long and curly. Her eyes tilted on her high cheekbones, turning a deep blue. Her skin paled, a few freckles scattering their way across her nose. Her body shape changed, hard muscles appearing under smooth skin, her chest going from very little to a little above average.
“I know…” Tonks ran a hand through her curls. “I’m so weirdly proportioned. You can see why I get rid of this, can’t you?” She pointed to her chest. “It’s very inconvenient, when you’re chasing people, to have this bouncing up and down.”
“I could be all sympathetic and nod, but I’m going to go with my male response and say you’re hot,” Xander joked.
Tonks’ blue eyes glittered. “How about I show you just how hot I can be,” she replied, taking his hand and leading him into the bedroom.Day Seven: Thursday
When Tonks awoke, it was 11 o’clock, and Xander was gone. Getting up, she wrapped the sheet around herself and headed into the kitchen to make herself some coffee. She had two options; she could get angry, or she could deal with it. Luna was the one to turn to in these situations; maybe she’d give the blonde a call later.
Sitting on her table, held down by a mug of coffee, was a note. Curious and touched, Tonks picked it up.Dora,
it said,I had to go; my girls needed me (so glad I don’t need to explain that). In any case, I’ll be at the club tonight. If you want this to go further than a one-off encounter, please come. If not, put me out of my misery, and ignore this note.
If it helps, I’m hoping for the former.
Taking a sip of the coffee, Dora made a face and tipped it down the sink. Poor little American. Demon killer he may be, awesome lover, definitely. Coffee maker, never. She’d have to make the coffee in the family.
Wait a moment. Did that mean she’d decided to go out with him?
‘Well duh, Dora, you did
sleep with him last night. I’d say that’s a pretty good indication,’ she told herself scornfully.
Rolling her eyes at her own idiocy, Dora decided to treat herself to a day of pampering. And…maybe change the sheets.
“Hey, Cap’n,” Dora whispered in Xander’s ear, having successfully managed to sneak up on him.
“Dora, hey.” To her surprise, he caught her in a very romantic kiss, right there in the club.
“WHOO! Go Tonks!” Ginny catcalled.
Hermione settled for whistling. Luna smiled, and their boyfriends rolled their eyes.
“That was one hell of a welcome,” Dora commented after she caught her breath.
“Well, I was mucho relieved that you turned up.”
“So I won’t get kisses like that all the time? Poot.” Dora pouted playfully.
“I’ll keep that in mind. Does this mean you want to make a go of things?” He pulled her onto his lap, stroking her long hair. She’d decided to go au natural tonight.
“Yes, I’d like that very much. Do you have to live up at the school? I like teenagers, but not that much.” She kissed his nose.
“I’m allowed to live off-campus, yes.”
“Cool. I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Dora…before we make anything official, there’s something I have to tell you.”
“Oh? What’s that?” The look in his eye reassured her.
“You didn’t have to change your hair colour or your looks to impress me. Your personality did that the minute you tripped into my lap.”
Laughing, Dora kissed him, hard. “Now you tell me.”The End
Understandably, the Scoobies had to make up codes for those sticky situations. A code green is when someone might be dangerous, but wishes to explain themselves. Basically, it’s a situation where heavy reinforcements may be needed, so stand by.