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Harry / Tonks ship

"What is it about floo travel, Harry?"

"I have no idea," Harry forced out through gritted teeth.

"I mean, I've heard of it causing motion sickness in a few cases, but you're fine on a broom."

"I know, I know.   I have no idea why I'm so bloody incompetent at floo travel."   He gave a sudden yelp of pain.

"Personally," a new voice entered the conversation, "I think it's so we know that you're a mere mortal like the rest of us."   Hannah Abbott entered her family's parlor with a smile.   When her eyes took in the scene, she stopped with a blink of confusion.   "What happened?"

Harry looked up at her with a pained smile.   He was sitting on the floor in front of the Abbott's fireplace, holding his knee.   "Hi, Hannah.   Happy Yule."

"Happy Yule," she said back, eyes on the young, gorgeous witch fussing over Harry's injury.   Nim was kneeling beside him and waving her wand at the bloodied knee exposed by his torn jeans.  

Shaking off confusion over the unexpected scene, Hannah asked, "Harry, seriously, what happened?"

Nim grunted in humor.   "This great oaf stumbled out of the floo and cracked his knee on your floor."   One final wave of her wand and the seeping wound healed.   Two more waves and the blood disappeared and the denim material mended itself.   Giving a nod of satisfaction, Nim smoothly put her wand away and stood.   She then turned to the other woman and smiled.   "Hello.   I'm Tonks, Harry's date."

"Hannah Abbot," Hannah introduced herself with a cautious handshake.   She turned to Harry and raised an eyebrow.

"Hey, you did say I could bring a date, didn't you?"

Hannah waved that off.   "Yes, yes.   That isn't what surprised me.   I was expecting . . . someone I recognized."

Harry smiled and turned to Tonks.

Tonks grinned and morphed herself into the form of "Tee" that she'd been wearing at the Equinox Ball.   "Is this better?" she politely asked Hannah.

Hannah squeaked and jumped backwards, her wide eyes on Tonks.

Neville laughed as he entered the room behind her.   Like Hannah, he was wearing jeans and a casual shirt for the informal party Hannah was throwing for the teens.   Neville wrapped one arm around Hannah's waist and said to her, "Dora is a metamorphmagus.   She can change her appearance easily."   He smiled at Tonks.   "Hi, Dora.   Scaring Hannah with your trick already?"

Tonks shrugged unrepentantly, changing back to her earlier face and bubblegum pink hair.

"I thought your name was Tonks?" Hannah asked her in confusion.

Harry interjected, "I suspect Neville can call her Dora because of his parents.   It's an auror thing."

Finally regaining her mental equilibrium, Hannah asked with a teasing grin, "And what do YOU call her, Harry?"

Harry quirked a grin but refused to say a word.

Tonks answered, "Many things, only some of which I'll ever tell.   Even fewer of which I would admit to my mother."

Neville raised an eyebrow at them as he deciphered what she meant.

Instead of pursuing that line of conversation, Hannah asked, "Why did you introduce yourself as Tee at the Ball?"

"We were trying to hide our relationship at the time," Harry answered.   "She's convinced me that it will be easier on us if it's out in the open."

Hannah looked at him strangely.   "Why wouldn't it?"

"As my girlfriend —"

"And live-in teacher and bodyguard," Tonks added.

"- and teacher and bodyguard," Harry agreed, "she'll move to the top of Voldemort's hit list."

"Oh, what I wouldn't give to have the right to guard that body," Parvati Patil, wearing gold and crimson to distinguish herself from her sister, cooed as she entered behind Hannah.   She was looking Harry up and down slowly, eyes sparkling.

Harry blushed spectacularly.

Megan Jones laughed from her place among the group of teens suddenly in the room.   "He does look scrumptious, doesn't he, Parv?"   She, too, looked at Harry appreciatively.   "Whatever you're doing, Harry, keep doing it.   You're looking GOOD."

"Stop it," Harry protested.

Nim rubbed his arm in a comforting gesture.   "They're just appreciating the view, Harry."  She raised herself to her tiptoes and gave him a short but fiery kiss before turning around so her back was pressed against his chest.   Taking his arms and wrapping them around herself, she communicated without words, "Lookie but no touchie."

The message was clearly understood by all.   Hannah, taking up her hostess duties, introduced Tonks to the newcomers.   Harry already knew almost everyone from Hogwarts except two older guys.   Surprisingly, Ron Weasley was there, but he stayed well in the back.

One of the older teens, Bob Alyxand, suddenly snapped his fingers and pointed to Tonks.   "Now I remember you.   You were class of . . . ninety-two; Slytherin, weren't you?"

Tonks nodded as everyone else stared at Harry, who was still wrapped around her.

"Harry?" Parvati asked hesitantly.

Harry shrugged slightly.   "Not all Slytherins are bad, Parvati."   He tightened his arms just a little, eliciting a low, purring sigh from Tonks.   "Some are even more cuddly than others."

There was some general laughter at that, and everyone slowly drifted back out of the room.   Harry and Tonks followed the crowd and found themselves in a comfortable living room containing lots of squashy armchairs that sat one.   Harry was momentarily stymied until Tonks pushed him down into one chair and promptly seated herself crossways on his lap.  

Thoroughly enjoying the seating arrangements, he found that he now he had a different problem, namely what to do with his hands.

As if reading his mind, Nim whispered, "Relax, Harry.   I'll tell you if you put them somewhere I don't like."

Seeing that most of the other couples where comfortably snuggling up with each other without reservation, Harry hesitantly rested one hand on her leg just above the knee and the other hand went around her back to come to rest against her ribs.   She sighed and reclined with her head resting against his shoulder, one hand absently playing with his shirt.

For the next half-hour, the conversation flowed around the room, touching on many subjects.   It quickly became apparent that all of the magicians here were more aware of the social and political world than he would have suspected based on the conversations in the Hogwarts Great Hall.   Even Parvati and Lavender were more or less keeping up with the conversation; though, they seemed to be paying more attention to their boyfriends (Parvati on John Pelli, the other one of the slightly older boys, and Lavender on Ron) than anything else.

"So, Dora, you're one of Harry's teachers?" Neville asked in a lull in the flowing conversation.

She nodded.

"What's he learning?"   Everyone else broke off their own conversations to follow this one.

"Oh, this and that," Tonks said with a dismissive wave of her hand.   "Apparition, potions, some transfiguration, all the regular stuff."

Neville grinned at Harry.   "Potions?"

Harry shrugged.   "Without Snape, it's not all that bad.   Speaking of the great greasy git, how's he doing teaching defense?"

All of the students frowned.   "Well, he's showing us loads, but he isn't teaching it very well," Padma said diplomatically.   "The practice we're doing on our own helps, but if he could TELL us some of these things during class time . . ."

Harry sighed.   "I'm glad you've re-started the D.A. again, then."

"So are we," Hannah said.   "Neville is turning out to be a really good teacher."

"Really?   Good for you, Neville," Harry said.   He glanced at Ron, expecting him to have taken over the teaching duties, but Ron resolutely did not meet Harry's eye.

A house-elf popped in and addressed herself to Hannah.   "Mistress?   Lunch is being ready for Mistress Hannah's guests."

Hannah nodded.   "Thank you, Poppy."   She stood and waved everyone toward one of the doors.   "Let's go have lunch!"

This met with general approval, and everyone stood and made their way into a large dining room.   Harry, Neville, and Terry Boot were the only three to remember to hold the chairs for their dates.   The rest of the girls were moderately irritated by this.   Ron was oblivious, already working on a handful of crisps.

Tracey Davis, sitting with Anthony Goldstein, said to Tonks, "I see someone is finally beginning to train him right."   Anthony smiled at her sheepishly.

"Oy!" Harry objected good-naturedly.   "I may not be the most sensitive bloke around, but was I really that bad?"

Parvati cleared her throat and gave him a pointed look.   All of the students in the room smirked or snickered.

Harry looked abashed.   "Okay, that's true.   I do apologize, Parvati."   He ducked his head in embarrassment.   "As you could probably tell, I was worried for Hermione at the Yule Ball as well as crushing on Cho.   That's not an excuse, but it is the reason I ignored you."

After a moment, she nodded at his apology.

Hannah said to Tonks, "Oooh, you HAVE taught him well.   Not only is he acting more mature, but I've also noticed that he's more demonstrative with you than he ever was at Hogwarts."

"In my defense," Harry spoke up, "it helps that I love her instead of just having a crush."

Half the girls sighed.   Ron made an indecipherable noise.   Harry shot him a questioning look that was ignored.

Tonks answered Hannah's comment, "Yes, well, I've been training him for some time now."   She sighed dramatically and gave Harry a speculative look.   "I hope he'll be worth the effort."

"Lot of work, is he?" Neville asked in amusement.

"Keeps me up all hours of the night, he does," Tonks agreed with a straight face.

Several jaws dropped open.   Ron appeared to be choking on something.   Neville casually reached behind Lavender and slapped Ron's back.

Su Li, a plain girl in Harry's year from Ravenclaw, slowly asked, "Did you just imply -"

"Me?" Tonks asked, her expression a study in innocence.

This time, Ron snorted.

"Do you have a problem, Ron?" Harry asked, tone somewhere between annoyed and resigned.

"No, no problem," Ron said without looking up.

"How is it that you know Tonks, Nev?" Hannah asked abruptly, clearly trying to diffuse the suddenly tense situation.

"You all know that my parents were aurors during the first war, right?   Well, I still have a lot of contact with the auror corps."   He blushed.   "I guess they sort of adopted me when I was a kid.   I've attended their informal reunions for years."

"So you knew Auror Moody before he taught us?" Padma asked in interest.

Neville shook his head.   "I knew WHO he was, but I'd never met him.   He was and still is very much a legend among the aurors."

"Another bloody legend.   Who the hell needs 'em?" Ron muttered, just loud enough for everyone to hear him.

Harry sighed and rolled his eyes.

Most everyone was frowning at Ron.   Tonks and Lavender were openly scowling.

Megan hesitantly spoke up, "Miss Tonks?   I don't mean to be rude, but if you were Slytherin class of ninety-two and Harry is . . . or was, or whatever, Gryffindor class of ninety-eight, don't you two think that there is a little too much . . .uh, difference between you two?"

Harry smiled at his Hufflepuff classmate.   "What are you asking, Megan?   The six years between us?"

"Harry acts older than he is," Tonks answered the question.

"And Tonks acts younger than her age," Harry completed her point.  

Slightly surprising their audience, she grinned slightly and nodded her acknowledgement of his comment.

"So," Harry continued his thought, "between the two of us, we're about the same maturity level."

"Or are you worried about a Slytherin dating a Gryffindor?" Tonks asked.

Harry nodded to Tracey and Anthony and Neville and Hannah.   "What's wrong with cross-house dating?"

"Well, nothing, of course, but . . ." Megan trailed off, clearly uncomfortable.

"Maybe it's the fact that it's Slytherin and Gryffindor?" Harry asked with an understanding smile.

Grimacing, Megan nodded.

Harry sighed.   He couldn't blame her for her opinion.   He'd been told what evil, slimy people the Slytherins were from the first day he'd known magic was real.   "Do you think Tracey," he nodded over toward the Slytherin sixth year, "is evil?"

Megan's eyes went wide.   "Of course not."

"So why shouldn't Anthony or I date a Slytherin if we want to?"   Tonks cleared her throat, and Harry hurriedly added, "And if they're kind and generous enough to agree."

Anthony wiped an imaginary bead of sweat from his forehead and shared a smile with Harry.   Everyone else laughed lightly

Megan thought about what he'd said for a moment.  "No reason, I guess, it's just . . ."

Harry nodded.   "It's exactly that dogma, that unthinking belief that we need to get out of our heads.   Slytherin?   Oh, evil, dangerous person.   Don't trust them.   Gryffindor?   Honorable but hot-headed to a fault."   Harry sighed.   "There are many good people from Slytherin house.   There have been Death Eaters come out of Gryffindor house.   Stop thinking in stereotypes and start thinking about individual people."

"And THAT is why I invited Slytherins into the D.A.," Neville said to Megan in the resulting contemplative silence.   He turned to Harry.   "Even when you're not at Hogwarts, you're still teaching us, mate."

"It's holidays!" Lavender objected.   "Quit making me think."   She lobbed a roll at Harry with a teasing grin.   Unfortunately, her aim was off.

Tonks caught the roll before it hit her in the face.   She quickly chucked it back with a returning grin.

The next sequence of events took perhaps five seconds to unfold.

Tonks's throw hit Ron, who had his head down and was diligently working on his sandwich instead of paying attention to the conversation.   His immediate reaction was to jerk upright, hands flying.   His sandwich sailed across the table and into Padma's hair.   One hand knocked his pumpkin juice glass over, spilling it over the table and soaking Terry Boot.   The other flying hand jostled Parvati, causing her to spill her own drink all over herself and her date, John Pelli.   Terry and John, each having a cold drink suddenly dumped into their laps, yelped and stood up without first scooting backwards.   This caused the table to buck and shift quickly in multiple directions, kicking food up into the air all up and down the table.   Almost everyone ended up wearing at least one item of food.

The resulting moment of stunned silence was broken by a mayonnaise covered tomato slice dropping free from Neville's cheek and falling onto his lap with a wet splat.

Neville's lip twitched.

Hannah tried to stifle a snicker, and it came out as a series of hiccups.

This set Lavender off into laughter which everyone else joined.

Later, after Bob Alyxand had magically cleaned her off, Padma whispered to Harry, "I noticed something strange."

"What's that?"

"You're the only one who didn't get any food on you."

Harry smiled at her.   "Just lucky, I guess."

"Uh, huh."   She nodded with a clearly skeptical expression.   "Sure."   A small smile formed and she said, "Next time, just deflect more toward Ron and less toward me, okay?"

Harry looked at her with a blank expression.

She just laughed.   "I AM a Ravenclaw, Harry."

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