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Harry / Tonks ship

On Christmas morning, shortly after first light, Harry woke up when Hedwig returned from her nightly hunt.  As he groaned and stretched, Hedwig hooted softly as if apologizing for waking her master.

Harry luxuriated in a jaw-cracking yawn, not yet bothering to open his eyes and vaguely wondering what it was that he smelled.  "Don't worry about it, girl.  Time for me to get up anyway."

Harry blinked his eyes open.

Only to find a pair of pink eyes staring at him from a distance of three inches.

Harry let loose a blood-curdling shriek, raised his hand to cast a spell, and used his other arm and legs to propel himself away from the apparition in front of him, all in the span of one second.

Harry had the satisfaction of seeing the intruder's eyes widen in surprise before he felt something behind him, and he fell into unconsciousness.


"Ennervate."

Harry's eyes snapped open.  He immediately heard Kingsley's voice.  "Relax, Harry."

Trying to remember what happened, Harry shook his head.  He immediately stopped the movement and gingerly brought his hand to the back of his sore head.  Remus, howling in laughter, wasn't helping his burgeoning headache.  "What happened?"

Godric handed Harry his glasses.  "Apparently, young Nymphadora did."

"Huh?" Harry asked fuzzily.

Kingsley answered, "Your shout roused the house.  We got here and found you unconscious on your bed and Dora on the floor at the foot of your bed."

Harry slowly crawled down and looked over the foot of his bed.  Someone, who he assumed was Tonks, was sprawled on the floor.  Her mid-length hair was black, shockingly offsetting her very pale skin tone.  Her features clearly spoke of the Black heritage, looking more like her Aunt Narcissa than her own mother.  She was not beautiful in the classical sense, the pale to the point of glowing white skin tone and slightly too squared off features prevented that, but she wasn't what one would call bad-looking, either.  Harry waved his hand.  "Ennervate."

Tonks's eyes opened and Harry caught sight of the pink irises for only a moment before her entire appearance rapidly shifted to something more recognizable as her normal look.  Her eyes took in Harry, Kingsley, and Godric smiling down at her as well as the still laughing werewolf.  "Uh, hi?"

Kingsley's eyes were dancing in merriment.  "Next time you want to surprise your boyfriend in bed, Dora, I'd suggest doing it differently."  He turned to Harry.  "If you didn't want her in your bed, Harry, you may want to tell her calmly instead of scaring the entire household into storming your bedroom."

Harry, fearing exactly what Shack meant, looked over at his door, only to see it reduced to splinters.  Kelly and Laura arrived at this point and looked around the room in mystification.

"Playing kinda rough, Cub?" Remus choked out.

"Hey," Harry tried to defend himself, "what would you have done if you found a woman in your bed unexpectedly?"

"No idea, Cub.  I've never had any women, strange, unexpected, or otherwise, in my bed," Remus answered with a grin.

Harry rolled his eyes.

"Hey, are you calling me strange?" Nim demanded of the werewolf.

Kingsley and Godric broke into laughter.

Kelly hesitantly asked, "What happened?"

Chagrined, Nim answered, "I was trying to . . . uh, surprise Harry this morning.  I guess I kinda startled him.  He scrambled backwards on his bed and stunned me."

"You stunned me, too!" Harry objected.

"No, she didn’t."  Kingsley pointed to the smear of blood on Harry's headboard.  "You knocked yourself unconscious."

Kelly moved forward and examined the back of Harry's head for a moment, gently probing the forming bump.  Finally giving a satisfied nod, she pointed her wand and muttered a healing spell.  Harry's headache dissipated rapidly.  Grinning, Kelly turned to the embarrassed former auror.  "Dora, next time you try to seduce this poor boy, give us a little warning, huh?  I think you scared a couple years off of Kay and me."

Threading through the resulting laughter from several directions, Laura's young voice spoke up, "Mommy, what does 'seduce' mean?"


"Happy Christmas," Harry greeted everyone as he entered the parlor.

"Happy Christmas," Shack, Kelly, and Remus chorused back.  Nim smiled at him as he took a seat next to her.

"NOW can we open presents?" Laura asked her mother in exasperation.

"Ask Harry, honey.  This IS his house."

The six year old looked at Harry pleadingly.

Harry said, "I thought we'd just sit here and admire the tree for a while first.  Doesn't that sound like fun, Laura?"

Laura looked horrified at his words.

Nim smacked his shoulder.  "Git.  Let the poor girl open her gifts."

Harry rubbed his shoulder with a wounded look.  Remus chuckled.

"Go ahead," Harry said to the girl.

Letting loose a shrill squeal, she immediately dove into the pile of presents and started tearing the paper off of them with abandon.  Bouncing from one adult to another as she opened individual gifts, she thanked each of them with a hug while alternately giggling and smiling widely.

In the time the young girl took to go through her entire stack, the adults had only opened two gifts each.

"I thought I heard a whirling dervish in here," Godric said as he entered the room and observed the colorful chaos Laura had produced.

"Happy Christmas, Grandfather," Harry called, looking up from the multi-volume compendium, The Unabridged and Current Guide to Battling the Dark Arts, that Remus and the Shacklebolts had gone together to get for him.

"Happy Christmas, Harry."  The ghost looked around with a smile.  "It's been a very long time since this old Keep has seen such a happy Christmas."

"Hopefully just the first of many," Remus said.

"Hear, hear," Shack agreed.


Later, as they tucked into a roast pheasant that Dobby had procured from who-knew-where, Harry reflected that it had been a successful day thus far.  Various books from his friends and close acquaintances formed a stack next to a small pile of sweets near the Christmas tree.

All of the gifts he'd selected had been well received. 

He'd had the most fun picking out some age appropriate magical toys for Laura.  On advice from every adult living at his home, he had passed on the trainer broomstick, though. 

For lack of a better idea, he got Remus a credit line at Flourish and Blotts.

Kelly received the magical equivalent to an upright piano.  Harry knew that she missed playing when their old one had been destroyed by the deez in August.

To Kelly's mock exasperation, Shack got a pair of tickets to Puddlemere's next game.

In addition to a dozen mismatched socks, Dobby got a credit line at an out-of-the-way clothier in Diagon Alley that carried robes as well as muggle clothing.  Harry was honestly curious on what Dobby would pick out for himself in the way of clothing. 

Harry was seriously tempted to pick out something suggestive to give to Tonks for her to wear, but he wasn't comfortable with the way he felt it would look from her point of view.  Instead, he got her an arrangement of roses with an Everlasting Charm. 

Most of the Weasleys (at least those Harry was currently getting along with) had received Honeydukes sweets the previous day, with one exception.  After lunch, Harry sat down to rectify that.

Dear Ginny,

Happy Christmas!

Hope things are going well for you and the rest of the Weasley clan. 

Christmas here has been a blast.  Shack's daughter has an absolutely HUGE pile of magical toys.  I'm tempted to go and start playing with some of them myself.  They wouldn't let me buy her a kid's broomstick, though.  Spoilsports.

Thanks ever so much for the book.  Did you pick it up yourself or did you con one of your brothers into picking up a copy of Ways to Woo Witches?  I'll have to look through it later, but I'm sure there will be loads of useful tips in there.  So far I've managed to hide it from Nim (she'd tease me mercilessly if she knew I got this from you).  Hopefully I can keep it hidden until I've at least read it properly and can try out some of the tips.

 

Thanks again for the bit of advice you sent me in your last letter.  I wimped out and got her an everlasting flower arrangement instead.  I'll keep your suggestions in mind for her birthday, though.

As you've no doubt noticed, I didn't include anything for you in the box of sweets I sent to the Burrow.  It's not because I didn't want to get you anything, but rather because Remus and I needed to finish my gift to you.

If you don't recognize the enclosed piece of parchment, ask your brothers, the twin Masters of Mayhem, for their version of its history. 

Don't read this next part aloud.  The new password to activate it is, "Honorable Pranks Forever," and to deactivate, "Pranking accomplished."  Each is accompanied by a wand tap.  The password has been changed (and this text is readable only by you), so it's available to you and you only.  Like I said, the two Creators of Chaos had it before me.  Ron knows about it as well.  If you want to clue them back into the passwords, that's fine, but for the moment you're the only one to know them.  It's only really useful at Hogwarts, so pass it along to a likely student before you graduate.

I don't know if I've mentioned this to you, but I have some of Mum and Dad's journals from when they were students.  Most of it's pretty bland stuff, and most of the rest I'd already heard from Remus and Sirius.  One thing I did learn, though, was that Mum and Snape were potions lab partners.

In her own words:

"He is a brilliant potions student, no doubt of that, but he's not too bright otherwise.  How many ways can I say, 'I'm not interested,' before he actually starts to listen?"

or

"If I hear about how he's a legitimate prince one more time, I'm going to hex his hair with a Permanent Slick Jinx!"

or

"Just because I'm muggle-born, that doesn't mean I should be 'honored' that he's paying attention to me!"

Apparently he just couldn't take a hint.  She states several times that he never did anything inappropriate, so I'm not worried about that.  I've heard rumors that they dated or that she was sweet on him.  After reading her opinion of the greasy arsehole, I'm not going to believe THAT any longer!

Anyway, enough about my mum and her non-existent crush on Snivellus.  Any juicy gossip from around school?

Always,

Harry

 

After that letter had been sent off, Harry picked up the Prophet that had been delivered at breakfast.

Things had apparently been calm in the wizarding world over the past few days.  The first page covered some feel-good stories about the Christmas season.  It wasn't until the beginning of the society section that anything of personal interest showed up.

Harry Potter's Dating Habits Revealed

Within the past few days, the mystery of Harry Potter's ever-changing escort has been resolved.

It is none other than the former auror and true metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks.

More than one aspect of this revelation concerns this reporter.

The obvious one is that as a true metamorphmagus, she can take the form of nearly anyone she wishes.  This is clearly how she kept changing her appearance to be his public escort for Diagon Alley shopping trips and the Ministry Equinox Ball, but what does it say about young Mr. Potter?

With merely a thought, she can transform herself into any image that she wishes.

Is she doing so to hook the powerful and affluent Potter heir?  Is he using her shape-changing skills for his own personal entertainment?

To further cloud the issue, Potter was recently named the Patriarch of the Black line.  One of the new Baron Black's first actions was to bring Andromeda Tonks nee Black (and by extension her daughter Nymphadora and husband Theodore) back into the Black family from which she'd been disinherited decades previously.

Is he using his position as her Patriarch to force her to do things for his personal gratification?  Is she doing this in some sort of repayment for bringing her and her parents back into the Black family?

Similarly, he is in fact her employer.  After she retired from the D.M.L.E. Auror Corps, Mr. Potter hired her.  Rumors abound about what exactly she is teaching him.

Is he using his position as her boss against her?  Is she looking to get a raise by providing "extra" services?

The last issue that concerns this reporter is the age disparity between the two.  According to the birth records, Miss Tonks is nearly seven years older than Mr. Potter.

Is she doing this because she wants a significantly younger man?  Is he after an older, experienced woman?

Why are they dating?

Would Mr. Potter still be dating her if he were attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as all the other young witch and wizards of his age are doing?

"THOSE UNMITIGATED ARSEHOLES!"


That evening, a light tap on the open door preceded Tonks sticking her head into Harry's room.  "Hey, can I talk to you?"

"Sure.  Come on in.  What's up?"

"Are you calmed down from earlier?"

It was a fair question.  His reaction to the article had been pretty bad.  Instead of giving in to his childish urge to get angry, he sighed.  "Yeah, I'm okay."

She just answered with an arched eyebrow.

"Hey, that article was awful."  When she answered with silence, he pleadingly asked, "I wasn't THAT bad, was I?"  He just hoped Kelly would eventually forgive him for some of the phrases he'd inadvertently taught Laura.  His anger had given him creativity when speculating on the reporter's probable parentage and personal habits.

Answering his spoken question, Tonks dryly commented, "Harry, 'not that bad' is a broken glass or something.  YOU, on the other hand, reduced the dining room table to scorched kindling."

He winced.  "Okay, so it WAS that bad.  Seriously, though, I'm used to the press treating me as their whipping boy.  But this time YOU are the one taking the lumps.  Depending on how you read it, you're either a whore or after me because I'm rich or simply because I'm a younger man.  Better yet, maybe all of the above!  How can you not be angry?"

She shrugged.  "You and I know the truth.  What else matters?"

He blinked for a moment before laughing.  At her raised eyebrow and querying look, he explained, "I'm not used to anyone else having the same attitude with regards to the Prophet, I guess.  So, what brings you by this evening?"

"You."

"Me?"

"You."

He grinned.  "You said that already."

She gave him a sour look.  "Git.  I was worried about how you were doing.  I understand it's one of those girlfriend responsibility things."

He had a ghost of a smile for a moment.  "Better, I guess.  Whatever it was that I did to the dining room table helped vent some of my anger."

"I'd hope so.  Anyway, I also came by to explain what happened this morning."

"You mean when you snuck into my room without warning and nearly gave me a heart attack?"

"Young guy like yourself?  I'd think it'd take more than just finding a woman in your bed to give you a heart attack."

"You're avoiding the question, Nim.  Exactly WHY were you on my bed?"

She looked down and mumbled something.

"What was that?"

She looked up at him but couldn't quite meet his eyes.  "I said, I was trying to give you your Christmas present."

Harry opened his mouth and closed it again a few times.  He finally found his voice, but it was a bit higher in pitch than normal.  "Uh, just so I don't misunderstand something, you're admitting that Shack was RIGHT?  You did come in here to seduce me?"

She flinched minutely, which made Harry feel like a prat until she said, "Among other things, yes, I suppose I did."

Harry, now blushing brightly, cleared his throat.  "Purely out of curiosity, what other things?"

Tonks looked up and met his eyes.  "I was trying to show you my true form.  You mentioned once that you didn't know what it looked like, and I just thought I'd show it to you."  She chuckled ruefully.  "Maybe waiting until you were aware of me being in the room would've been a better idea?"

Harry smiled back nervously.  "Probably," he agreed.  "So was that your base form?  Pink eyes, black hair, pale?"  His eyes widened, and he quickly went on, "Not that there is anything wrong with that -"

She chuckled lightly.  "It's okay, Harry.  I know that my base form is a little . . . unusual.  That's why I don't like it much."

He frowned suddenly.  "Hey, you said only your parents and a few healers have seen your base form?"  At her nod, he asked, "But if you revert every time you fall unconscious, then how come most of the aurors haven't seen it?"

She nodded to her pupil.  "Very good question, Potter.  Getting knocked unconscious is different than falling asleep.  When going unconscious unwillingly, my magic considers me under attack, which isn't far from the truth if you think about it.  Therefore, it tries to hold the disguise, whatever it may be.  Falling asleep is a conscious relaxation, so the change releases."

"So you can't fall asleep with any morph on?"

She shook her head.

"But if you get stunned, it'd hold?"

"Yep.  Sounds strange, but that's the way it works."

"Weird.  Anyway, how did we get onto this topic?"

She grinned at him.  "Did you really forget, or are you giving me a way to avoid the conversation if I didn't want to pursue it?"

His mouth twisted into a wry grin.  "Guilty."  His face fell into an expressionless mask.  "My own utter lack of knowing how to proceed aside, I still don't believe I'm worthy of you."

She leaned over to cup his face in one hand and said, "I believe you are.  And I'll just have to convince you of that."  With a humorous twinkle in her eye, she asked, "Even with that book that Ginny gave you, you STILL don't know how to proceed?"

As Harry flushed crimson and laughed nervously, she turned and sealed the room with a few charms and wards.  Setting her wand down next to his on the bedside table, she sat down on his bed.  "Honestly, I'm not very experienced at this myself, Harry."  Her hand moved, almost hesitantly, to his extended leg.  "We'll just have to learn together."


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Author Notes:

Bunny about Lily's feelings for Snape by Merle Corey.  Bunny about the unfavorable article from the Prophet is from Musings of Apathy.

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