Author’s Note: First, I’m not sure whether or not it’s canon exactly how Filch got the Marauder’s Map.
Also, with regards to Bill’s characterization, I always saw him as having been a little less daring in school than he would become once he left.
When you were related to several notorious criminals, following the rules wasn’t something that mattered a whole lot.
Tonks’s own mother seemed to encourage her misbehaviour. It was rarely bad enough to warrant letters home, but when they did, her mother seemed to dismiss them.
“If I’d followed rules all the time like a do-gooder,” Andromeda would say with a sniff, “I would never have married your father.”
“Hexing the teacher’s chair isn’t the same thing as resisting your family,” Ted pointed out each time, but he would smile too.
Tonks wondered if, in some ways, it was a way to compensate for a somewhat sheltered childhood. Between the war and having family members who would have loved to exact revenge on Andromeda in terrible ways, Tonks wasn’t allowed the same freedoms as her parents. There was no running all over the neighbourhood until it started getting dark, visits outside the home had to be planned very carefully, and Tonks was even urged not to use her Metamorphmagus powers too often. Tonks’s only playmate was a Muggle girl who lived in the nearby Muggle town, and even their get-togethers were with Andromeda or Ted in close proximity.
The closest thing she’d ever had to truly carefree fun was when Sirius was around. Sirius wasn’t around much — but when he was, there were always games and laughs, and sometimes he brought his friends around as well. Tonks always wished he would come over more, because she liked having a very tall playmate who’d let her do things her mother wouldn’t.
Then Sirius went to Azkaban. Andromeda had never been able to explain to Tonks what had happened, probably because she didn’t understand it herself. Sometimes she would contend that he’d snapped; other times, she told Tonks it was possible he’d had some sort of mad plan that went wrong.
“But that doesn’t explain all of those Muggles,” Andromeda would say each time.
“Yeah, but Mum, Sirius was a good person. And he cared about his friends so much, even though I was little, I could tell. Why would he hurt them?”
“I don’t know, sweetheart. Finish your dinner.”
So naturally, now that Tonks was further removed from the bleakness of her childhood, her parents weren’t too concerned about her exploits at school. They encouraged their pink-haired daughter to be herself, as long as she didn’t go too far. Not like Sirius had.
This was why Tonks decided they had to identify the piece of parchment Charlie and Bill had brought to the library with them.
She’d been sitting with Hestia Jones when Charlie and Bill Weasley joined them. Given that they were in different Houses — Tonks and Hestia in Hufflepuff, Charlie and Bill in Gryffindor — it was the easiest place to meet up when it was too cold to go out by the lake. And two weeks before Christmas, it was definitely much too cold.
“Tonks, you know about strange hexes, right?” Charlie asked as he slapped a blank piece of parchment on the table.
“Kind of have to, if I want to be an Auror,” Tonks said dryly. “Why?”
“One of the Gryffindor girls lost an earring yesterday in the common room, and demanded a widespread search. It turns out it was in her handbag the entire time — at any rate, we looked underneath the couch, and found this tucked in.”
“This being…?” Hestia asked.
“That’s the thing,” Bill said. “We don’t know. But when we tried to put it in the fire, it bounced right out, grabbed my nose, and Charlie swears he saw the words ‘got your conk’ appear. But now there’s nothing on it. I said we should ask McGonagall—”
“You’re such a cute perfect Prefect,” Tonks simpered playfully. “Of course you shouldn’t ask McGonagall, are you mad? Clearly, this parchment is of some sort of significance.”
Charlie grinned. “Thank you, Tonks. I told him the exact same thing.”
“I am a Prefect, though,” Bill pointed out.
“Exactly. And you’ve given us your permission to investigate further on this matter.”
“No, I haven’t!”
But Tonks was already folding it into a Muggle airplane. “Let’s see what happens if we do this.”
She flew it across the room; it flew right back like a boomerang, shaping itself into a bird very slowly as it did. It landed smoothly on the table, and folded itself back out.
Tonks held her wand to it. “Seriously, what the hell are you?”
To her astonishment, words began to appear.
Mr. Padfoot doesn’t like your tone.
Mr. Prongs has heard worse, and thinks Mr. Padfoot has, too.
Mr. Moony’s still got your conk.
Mr. Wormtail would like to add that he enjoyed flying across the room like that.
Tonks frowned. Why did those names sound so familiar to her?
“Well? What have you got?” Charlie asked.
“We just want to… know what this piece of parchment does,” Tonks said.
Mr. Padfoot is very hurt that you would call us a mere piece of parchment!
Mr. Moony concurs. Has all of his time and energy been for nothing?
“I’ve got nothing,” Tonks told her friends. “Bill, you’re the smartest one at the table, have you thought of anything?”
“My guess,” Bill said slowly, “is that we need to look for clues.”
He pressed his wand against the parchment. “Are you four… did you attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?”
Mr. Prongs is appalled that you even have to ask!
Mr. Moony wonders where you thought we learned it all.
“And what is the purpose of this parchment?” Bill asked.
It will lend your eyes to the unknowable. Really, mate, do you think we’re going to come right out and tell you?
“Yep, we need clues,” Bill said.
For the next two weeks, the four friends hardly did anything else; they spent every waking moment (not occupied by homework and their other friends, who found their new obsession amusing) poking at the map, reading up on hexed and jinxed items at Hogwarts, and even subtly asking professors questions without outright asking them.
One day, Tonks decided to be more direct, and she and Charlie cornered McGonagall.
“Professor,” Tonks asked, “did you happen to know someone by the name of Mr. Prongs?”
McGonagall raised her eyebrows. “Pardon me?”
“A Mr. Prongs? And a Mr.—”
“Yes,” McGonagall said tersely. “Well, not Mister. But I had a very dear pupil who went by ‘Prongs’ among his friends.”
“Really? When did he come here?”
“A long time ago. Where did you hear the name?”
“We think we found something that belonged to him,” Tonks explained.
“I see.” McGonagall nodded very, very slowly. “Well, then. It won’t… be of much use to him anymore, I’m afraid. Perhaps you should turn it in to the Headmaster. He’ll make sure it gets returned to the right people.”
“Or we can return it to him directly,” Charlie suggested.
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible.”
McGonagall passed them hurriedly with a sad expression on her face.
“What the…?” Tonks stared at her fleeting professor.
Some people would have been turned off if asking about the parchment had unnerved Professor Bloody McGonagall. But not Tonks and her friends; they were more determined than ever.
“But who are you?” Hestia whispered one night as they all huddled in the Astronomy Tower.
We are the Purveyors.
“Of?” Bill couldn’t hide his excitement anymore.
Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers. We’ve told you this before.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Charlie muttered.
“What do you think of Professor McGonagall?” Tonks asked.
Mr. Moony doesn’t think she’s that bad.
Mr. Prongs secretly agrees.
Mr. Padfoot wants to know more about you.
“Well, I’m Tonks,” Tonks told the map.
Mr. Padfoot thinks Ted Tonks is a good man, and more than worthy of Andromeda regardless of so-called “purity.”
Tonks stared at the map. Her friends were staring at her.
“How… how do you know Ted Tonks?” Tonks hoped she didn’t sound too spooked.
Mr. Padfoot thinks Ted Tonks is a good man, and more than worthy of Andromeda Tonks regardless of so-called “purity.”
“I think the responses are just magically generated,” Hestia reminded her gently.
“But why does it care about my parents? What does it have to do with them? Who are you?!” Tonks cried.
We are Mssrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs.
“Maybe they’re no one,” Charlie suggested. “Just pretend names.”
“They have to be real people,” Tonks said. “McGonagall definitely knew a man who went by Prongs.”
“Yes, but maybe this… thing is where he got the nickname. He was a probably a Gryffindor and found the parchment like we did.”
Tonks nodded. She remembered thinking that the names seemed familiar… but why? Who were these men, and what happened that McGonagall wouldn’t talk about them? McGonagall, who never shied away from anything?
“Do you… mind if I take this home tomorrow?” Tonks asked. It when they were due to leave for break; she couldn’t believe two weeks had gone by so quickly.
“Of course not,” Bill replied. “Maybe your parents will be able to tell us something.”
Tonks didn’t work up the nerve to ask her parents until the morning after New Year’s.
Some of it was distraction; mostly, however, Tonks was beginning to feel less enthused and more uneasy about the strange piece of parchment. Between McGonagall’s reaction to the name “Prongs”, and the message about her parents… it was connected to something far beyond childish got-your-conk games.
But it had to be done; Bill, Hestia and Charlie would want to know what her parents had said. So that morning, she asked them, as casually as she possibly could: “Hey, erm… do you two know a Padfoot?”
Andromeda and Ted didn’t respond, instead exchanging a very knowing look.
“A who?” Ted asked after a minute.
“Why do you ask? Dora, has a man named Padfoot been in contact with you?” Andromeda demanded.
“I just came across the name somewhere,” Tonks said. At least that was half-true.
“Oh.” Andromeda’s face relaxed. “I see.”
“Mum, who was he? I can tell he was someone you know. Someone both of you may have known.”
“He wasn’t anyone good,” Andromeda said firmly.
“Andromeda, tell her,” Ted said.
“There’s nothing to tell… all in the past…”
“She deserves the truth.”
Andromeda swallowed. “Padfoot was what all of his friends called him. I don’t know where they got the nickname, but they used it quite often…”
“Your cousin Sirius.”
Tonks half-listened to her friends’ chatter on the train. They were discussing annoying relatives who had the audacity to ask them about school and make foul—tasting pie.
Meanwhile, Tonks was thinking about the latest development.
The parchment had belonged to Sirius Black. Of course it had; he’d managed to leave a mark on every other aspect of her life, hadn’t he?
She should have seen this coming. Who else would have owned — maybe even created — something like that? Who else would have known her parents? Only Sirius. And yet…
Was this a mark of better days, when he was a better person? The fact that he went out of his way to honour her father made it seem that way. But what if he’d sent it back after turning? What if he hadn’t ever been that good, and the mention of her father was pure mockery disguised as loyalty? Worst of all was the possibility that the parchment was somehow connected to the horrible events all those years ago.
Because Tonks had worked out pretty quickly that Prongs was probably one of Sirius’s friends. One of the ones he’d killed. No wonder they couldn’t return it to him. No wonder McGonagall had acted like she’d seen a ghost. They’d basically shoved a ghost right through her face.
And Tonks, in pressing the matter, might have hurt her friends just like he had. She had to fix this.
“Oh, Tonks,” Charlie began, “did you ever ask your parents about the piece of parchment?”
Tonks couldn’t look at him. “Yeah. They just said Padfoot was someone they knew years ago. Don’t talk to him anymore, though.”
“Did you tell them about the parchment?”
“No. It didn’t seem like they’d know anything. He would’ve been at Hogwarts after their time anyway.”
“Are you okay?” Hestia asked.
“Someone I used to care about just hurt me all over again,” Tonks replied darkly.
Hestia and Charlie looked as though they were going to pry, but Bill shook his head, and both of them relented.
When they got back to the school, Tonks slipped away from them and approached Filch.
“You should take this,” she told him.
Filch raised his eyebrows. “What is it?”
“I don’t know, but it seems dangerous. It’s resistant to flames. You might want to put it somewhere no one else can find it.”
Maybe the parchment was a force of good; Tonks didn’t know. She did know her friends would kill her if they found out what she’d done; they wouldn’t understand.
They shouldn’t understand. If the parchment ended up being anything malicious, Tonks would never forgive herself.
Remus and Sirius were staring at her, and it was understandable why.
The three of them were in the family room at Grimmauld Place; Sirius had been complaining about Snape (yet again), and probably not for the first time, but the first time Tonks had really heard it, Sirius had called Remus “Moony.”
“Moony,” Tonks repeated slowly. “You’re Moony.”
Sirius laughed. “You only just figured that out? I’m certain I called him that before. We’ve been reacquainted for a while.”
Of course he had. It must have been lost, Tonks thought, in the chaos that had been the last several weeks. Or maybe she’d been too glad to have Sirius back — yet equally concerned for his sanity — to pay much mind to what he called other people. And the piece of parchment was but a distant memory now. Had she forgotten completely?
“You know, because I’m a werewolf,” Remus explained.
“Did you tell people ‘got your conk’ on a regular basis?” Tonks asked.
“Er — yes, actually,” Remus said. “How’d you know?”
Tonks smiled. “I found something of yours, once.”
She sat down, and gave them an abbreviated account of the mysterious parchment she’d failed to decipher. By the time she was finished, both Moony and Padfoot were grinning.
“Oh, that is pure brilliance!” Sirius cried. “Although it’s a shame you never discovered what it was.”
“What was it?”
“A map of Hogwarts,” Remus replied. “Harry has it now. I believe the Weasley twins found it first.”
“I won’t bother asking how,” Tonks said. “Damn it, though, a map? To think of all the trouble I could have got my friends and I into…”
Sirius beamed. “You’re a Marauder at heart.”
Tonks smiled. “By the way, Sirius… I think I’ll tell my parents what you said about them. Why’d you put that in there, anyway?”
“I just wanted to set the record straight. There were a lot of things like that, there. It was mostly fun, but we knew full well what was going on outside… that’s why I left it.”
“Wait — what?!” Remus exclaimed. He sounded very much like an angry teenage boy. “You lost it on purpose?”
Sirius nodded. “It was a painful decision, but by then Dumbledore had already recruited us to join the Order right after school… I think I knew things wouldn’t be the same. It was time to say goodbye, to let some other boys — or girls — have their turn at fun. Of course, when Harry was born I always hoped he’d find it…”
“Great minds,” Tonks remarked.
Sirius nodded. “I never told James. It was one of the only things — no, maybe the only thing — I never told him.”
He was starting to look sullen again, but fortunately Arthur poked his head in with a question for Sirius. Sirius managed a smile and left the room.
“I have to ask,” Remus began. “Who was your favourite Marauder?”
Tonks grinned. “Oh, definitely Moony. He was the most helpful. And I’ve been telling people ‘got your conk’ — when I haven’t even got their conk, mind — ever since.”
Remus had the same expression on his face he’d had so often lately, and Tonks realized he was never going to say it. It had to be her, and it had to be now. This was the perfect time, and maybe the only time.
“I didn’t know one thing, though,” Tonks said softly.
“I didn’t know that I would fall in love with him.”
Remus paused, and Tonks wasn’t sure if he was going to snog her, bolt, or both. Instead, he said: “Did I mention how you open the Map?”
Tonks shook her head.
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
And then, after far too long a wait, he kissed her.