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SIYE Time:22:05 on 18th November 2017


Homecoming
By Brennus

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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Nymphadora Tonks
Genres: Action/Adventure
Warnings: Death, Extreme Language, Intimate Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use, Violence
Story is Complete
Rating: R
Reviews: 219
Summary: After four years working overseas for the shadowy Department M, a world-weary and dispirited Harry Potter returns to the land of his birth. He meets some old friends and makes some new ones, as he learns that much has changed since he left home. AU, a ‘Harry never went to Hogwarts’ story.
Hitcount: Story Total: 43569; Chapter Total: 3403
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
I would just like to say that you’re getting this chapter earlier than expected due to the fact that I’ve had to stay home today and wait for an engineer due to my boiler breaking down for the third time in about a month. Think of me and my frozen fingers as I hunch over the keyboard, trying to type this.

Some familiar faces crop up in this chapter, and maybe one or two of them in unusual roles, or perhaps positions is a better word. Ahem.

Huge thanks to Arnel for beta work and correcting me when I managed to get the layout of the Ministry of Magic building upside-down.




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Chapter 2 — Reunion



London really hadn’t changed much. He’d arrived back the previous day and booked himself into a mid-priced hotel that was functional, if rather generic. He’d chosen the place purely because it was a ten minute walk to Whitehall and, more specifically, the Ministry of Magic’s Headquarters which was located beneath it.

He’d awoken early and taken the opportunity to have a walk beside the Thames before reporting for duty. The city was its usual bustling self with crowds of grim-faced workers, all hurrying to get to their place of employment, clogging up the paths. He bought himself a cup of tasteless coffee from a small stall and sat and watched the brown waters flow past him.

It definitely felt odd to be home, he mused. He’d lived in London for the greater part of his life, ever since his godfather had rescued him from the wreckage of his parent’s home when he was just a toddler. At first, they had lived in Sirius’s small flat in Chelsea, but when he’d inherited the title of Lord Black upon the death of his father, Sirius had unceremoniously banished his elderly mother to a small property in Wales and taken over the family’s main residence, 12 Grimmauld Place. It was in that Islington house that Harry had grown up.

Thinking about the house made him realise that he should probably visit the place sometime, but wasn’t certain that he could face seeing it in ruins. The Death Eaters had been very thorough in their destructiveness. The fire damage to the lower floors in particular were something he had no wish to see, and as for the ruined first floor landing… well, he had no desire to revisit the place Sirius had died. Better to visit him at the Black’s family plot in Highgate Cemetery, although that, Harry realised guiltily, was something he hadn’t done in a long while.

Sighing, he drank that last of his coffee and threw the paper cup into a nearby bin. Following the river north for a short while, he turned into Northumberland Avenue, before bearing left onto Whitehall Place. Skirting around the large, greyish-white blocks of Government office buildings, he headed down a little-used side-street. To his indignity, today he had to enter the Ministry by the visitor’s entrance.

After entering the Ministry via an abandoned red telephone box that someone had obviously recently taken a piss in, Harry had the further annoyance of having to report to the security guard in the Atrium. The guard weighed and noted his wand carefully, while sniggering at the badge Harry had been forced to wear that stated he was a ‘New Starter’. The man’s rather condescending attitude made Harry grind his teeth together, but he suspected that hospitalising the prat wouldn’t be an auspicious start to his first day.

Eventually, he was waved on and he gratefully made his way to the lifts. He’d been instructed to report directly to the Minister for Magic’s office, so he selected the first level and took the short ride up.

Exiting the lift, he was mildly surprised at the opulence of the place. A thick, purple carpet covered the floor and all the fittings appeared to be coated in gold-leaf. Several doors were visible, all of which were made of gleaming mahogany. The whole place was deathly quiet and smelt of furniture polish. Harry instantly felt uncomfortable here.

Squaring his shoulders, he marched forward until he came to the end of the corridor. The polished door in front of him had a plaque mounted on it that proclaimed that this was the office of the Minister for Magic. As was his habit, Harry knocked once and entered. He found himself in a small outer-office which boasted a desk behind which sat a rather attractive witch with blond hair and an ample bosom. She looked up as Harry entered.

“Can I help you?” she asked in a distant voice.

“Yes, my name is Harry Potter. I was told to report here,” Harry announced politely.

“Oh, of course! The Minister is expecting you, Mr Potter,” the witch exclaimed, suddenly much more welcoming. “If you would like to come with me, I’ll take you through.”

The witch leapt up from behind her desk and motioned for Harry to follow her. This at least gave him the opportunity to admire her shapely backside as it swayed in front of him. It must be a Ministerial privilege to get a receptionist like her, he decided.

She led him around the corner to another mahogany door. The witch knocked softly and opened the door slightly, poking her head into the room. Harry heard her announce him before she retreated to allow him access through the doorway. She smiled brightly at him as he passed, revealing a set of perfect, pearly teeth. He smiled back, but found himself rather unimpressed by the young witch. He preferred his women with a bit more character; this girl was just too perfect, like she’d just been created by some beauty-pageant obsessed Frankenstein.

No sooner had he entered the room than he heard a deep, rumbling laugh. He looked up to see the Minister himself, Kingsley Shacklebolt, rising from behind his desk with a look of merriment on his face.

“Harry Potter, my friend! It’s wonderful to see you again,” the man boomed, striding towards Harry with his hand outstretched.

“Hello, Minister, it’s good to see you, too,” Harry replied, gripping the man’s large hand firmly.

“Pah, what’s with this Minister nonsense?” he demanded. “I’ve known you since you were a little boy, Harry, I’m sure you haven’t forgotten my name.”

“Sorry, Kingsley,” Harry apologised. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Working at the ICW Headquarters for so long tends to make you approach everyone quite formally.”

“Well, we’ll have none of the rubbish here,” Kingsley insisted. “Come and take a seat, my friend. Would you like a drink? Tea? Coffee?”

“A coffee would be nice,” Harry admitted. “I bought a cup from a stall next to the river and really wished I hadn’t.”

Kingsley gave a deep, reverberating laugh. “You’ve been away too long if you’ve forgotten to stay away from that muck they serve up to the tourists,” he laughed. “Lavender? Could you bring in some coffee for us, please?”

“Right away, Minister,” the blond witch confirmed and left the room, shutting the door behind her.

“Lovely girl, and a surprisingly good secretary, too,” Kingsley confirmed. “Well, sit yourself down, Harry, and let’s talk. Merlin, it’s good to see you again.”

“Thanks,” Harry said, taking the chair in front of Kingsley’s large and impressive desk.

“I have to confess, when I was approached by Maurice Goossens last week, I was overjoyed to hear that you were looking to return to Britain,” Kingsley announced. “You’ve been away too long.”

“Did Maurice explain the circumstances behind my return?” Harry asked cautiously.

“He did,” Kingsley confirmed, turning serious. “I’ll be truthful: I’ve never liked some of the methods practiced by your former employers, Harry. If half of what I’ve heard is true, then they make it common practice to cross the line into illegal and unconstitutional behaviour. How can any government expect its people to obey its laws if it chooses to ignore them itself?”

“That’s a question I regularly asked myself,” Harry admitted quietly.

“Knowing you as I do, I’m not surprised,” Kingsley smiled. “When I heard you’d been recruited by them, I had serious misgivings, but I understood your desire to get away from England. I did doubt that you would be comfortable with the Department, however.”

Harry was about to reply, but was interrupted by Lavender bringing in the coffee. Harry again smiled politely as she placed a china cup of black coffee in front of him. She beamed at him, before hurriedly leaving the room. Looking up, Harry just managed to catch the glint in Kingsley’s eyes as the young woman left. He quickly took a sip of his coffee to hide the smirk on his lips. He’d clearly been right about Kingsley enjoying certain ‘Ministerial privileges’.

“Anyway, I’m delighted to have you back home,” the big man said quickly, perhaps realising that he’d been staring at his secretary’s shapely arse too long. “I’m sure you’re going to find your new job much more to your liking.”

“I was told a little about what I’d be doing, but I would like a few more details,” Harry requested.

“Of course, but, if you don’t mind, I’ll leave it to your new boss to go into detail. Briefly put, I formed the section shortly after I was voted into the position of Minister. It occurred to me that Voldemort had been able to build up a power-base far too easily, and that we needed to put in place an organisation to prevent some other maniac from doing the same thing again,” Kingsley explained.

“So, I’ll be essentially on the look-out for any new wannabe Dark Lords?” Harry asked, thinking that the whole idea was pretty sensible.

“Mostly,” Kingsley clarified with a smile. “The section’s remit does include a number of other roles; VIP protection, back-up for the Aurors in difficult cases, unusual surveillance tasking, that sort of thing. Knowing your skills, Harry, you’ll be a major asset to the section.”

“Does this section actually have a proper name?” Harry enquired, realising that he hadn’t heard it referred to in any other terms.

“No, we just call it ‘the section’. Officially, it’s not even part of the DMLE, as such, but is controlled and paid for directly from this office. As the section only has about a dozen people working for it, it doesn’t strain my budget too badly. Don’t think of asking for a pay rise any time soon, though,” the big man laughed.

Harry grinned. “So, who is my new boss?”

“Ah, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s a familiar face: Dedalus Diggle,” Kingsley said.

“Dedalus? Really?” Harry said in surprise. “You put him in charge of the section?”

“Don’t underestimate him,” Kingsley admonished him lightly. “I know Minerva never thought much of him, but Dedalus is a genius at this sort of thing. He knows how to think outside the box, and is extremely efficient at organising a team such as this. I think you’ll enjoy working with him.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Harry nodded, not totally convinced but willing to suspend any misgivings for the moment. “Anyone else work for the section that I would know?”

“Oh, I’m not going to spoil the surprise, but I think there’ll be a few familiar faces about,” Kingsley grinned broadly.

Knowing he would get little further information out of the man, Harry just drank his coffee. The Ministerial budget also apparently ran to proving good quality stuff, too. Relaxing back in his chair, Harry glared at the Minister’s obvious mirth. Something was tickling Kingsley’s funny bone, and, whatever it was, it irritated Harry.

“So, your secretary, is she a good shag, then?” he asked just as Kingsley raised his cup to his lips.

The sight of the Minister for Magic spitting half of his coffee over himself brightened Harry’s day no end.

HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHP HP

“Just down this way, Mr Potter,” Lavender said, leading Harry down a long corridor. “The section is located next to the Administration Services office, and across from Misuse of Muggle Artifacts.”

Harry trailed behind the shapely blonde, trying to avoid staring at her backside too much. Kingsley had been suitable outraged at the suggestion of any improper behaviour with the young woman, but Harry had known the man far too long to be fooled. When Minister Shacklebolt asked Miss Lavender to take something down, you could bet it wasn’t a memo or letter he was referring to.

“This is it,” Lavender said brightly, and knocked once on an unmarked door before pushing it open. She then stood back so Harry could enter.

“Thanks for all your help,” Harry said with a friendly smile.

“My pleasure. If you need anything else at all, do let me know,” the attractive woman smiled, before heading back the way she came. Harry paused a moment to admire her retreating form, before stepping into the office.

The room he’d entered was a reasonably large space, but appeared smaller than it actually was due to all the clutter it contained. At least half a dozen desks were crammed into an area that probably should have held half that number, and filling cabinets and cupboards lined the walls. Notice boards and wanted posters ensured that the unattractive green colour the room had been painted in could hardly be seen. There was only one other person present at the moment, and Harry instantly recognised the small man who had leapt to his feet as soon as he had entered.

“Harry Potter!” Dedalus Diggle cried, rushing over to shake his hand. “How delightful to see you again, truly it is!”

“Good to see you, too,” Harry smiled. Dedalus didn’t seem to have changed much since Harry had last seen him, save perhaps for a few more grey hairs. He still wore clothes that any self-respecting Victorian gentleman would think were slightly out of date, and still had an excitable, breathless way about him. Despite his diminutive size, Harry remembered Dedalus as an able fighter and a good man to have at your side.

“Do come in and make yourself at home, my dear fellow,” Dedalus said, gesturing for Harry to take a seat at one of the cramped desks. “I’m afraid everyone is out and about at present, but your new partner should be here soon. You’ve rather caught us on the hop; we thought you’d be longer with Kingsley than you actually were.”

“I think he decided to get me out of his office quickly after I made a few suggestive comments about him and his secretary,” Harry chuckled. “I think he had a bit of a guilty conscience.”

“Ah, the lovely Miss Brown. A most able assistant, I’m told. Why, I understand she can type nearly three words a minute. Some of them are even spelt correctly, too!” Dedalus grinned.

Harry burst out laughing, but his attention was suddenly diverted by the door to the office being thrown open and a tall, angry woman striding in. She fixed Harry with a steely eye and scowled at him.

“Potter! You worthless piece of crap! So you’ve come crawling back to Britain, have you? The rest of Europe finally realised what an arsehole you are, have they?” she snapped.

“What the…” Harry mumbled, rather shocked by the verbal assault from a woman he would have sworn he’d never met before.

“Don’t give me that, you vile wiper of other people’s bottoms! I blow my nose at you, you so called Boy Who Lived. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!” the woman spat, now strangely talking with a French accent.

Harry stared at her in amazement before a smile began to creep onto his face. As he slowly rose from his seat, the woman began to change. She shrank a good two inches, her hair turned from jet-black to a spiky blond colour, and her face morphed into an attractive heart-shape. She grinned at Harry impishly.

“So, are you going to come and give me a hug or are you just going to stand there admiring my beauty?” the woman smirked.

“Dora!” Harry cried and leapt towards her. He quickly gathered her in his arms and spun her round.

“Ooof! Put me down, you big lug,” she laughed.

“Bloody hell, it’s been years since I saw you! You’re looking great!” Harry exclaimed as he lowered her to her feet.

“Naturally, but I’ve got a bone to pick with you, Harry James Potter! Don’t you know how to write a bloody letter? I must have sent a dozen to you and never got a reply,” Dora scowled.

“Yeah, I’m sorry,” Harry replied, genuinely regretful. “I was kind of out of contact for long periods of time. I know that’s no excuse, and that I should have replied once I’d got home from field operations, but… I don’t know. I guess I was just trying to run away from everything, you know?”

“Yeah, I know,” Dora said sadly, reaching up to stroke his hair. “I hid myself away for a long time, too, so I guess I can’t be too angry with you. Maybe if you take me out and buy me a few expensive dinners I might forgive you.”

“Deal!” Harry laughed, pleased that she wasn’t too angry with him. “But what are you doing here? I thought you were still an Auror.”

“Miss Tonks here has been working for the section for over a year, now,” Dedalus interjected. “She’s an asset to the unit and, you’ll probably be pleased to hear, your new partner.”

“What? That’s great!” Harry said joyously.

“Just think, it will be you and me working together again, sexy,” Dora grinned. “The bad guys won’t know what’s hit them.”

“Brilliant,” Harry smiled.

He’d know the feisty Nymphadora Tonks as long as he could remember. Although nearly seven years older than him, she’d been a familiar face around Grimmauld Place as he was growing up, and had often played with him when he was small. As he grew up, she’d been his first crush and he’d lusted after her as his teenage hormones ran out of control. Sadly for Harry, Tonks, or Dora as he normally referred to her, had been more into older men than younger ones. That, sadly, had ended badly for her.

“Well, what are we standing here yakking for?” Dora grinned impishly. “Let’s hit the streets. I work mostly in the Muggle parts of London, as I seem to fit in better. You’d be surprised just how many wizards and witches went and lived with the Muggles after the last war. Harder to keep tabs on them, you see.”

“Ahem, Miss Tonks? Not so fast,” Dedalus interrupted. “I haven’t even begun Mr Potter’s induction into the section yet.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, boss,” Dora said contritely, and sat herself down in the nearest available chair.

“Right,” Dedalus said, turning to look at Harry. “Now, Mr Potter, your role here is to go out, find trouble, and then put a stop to it. There, induction over! You and Tonks can toddle off, now.”

“What, that’s it?” Harry gasped. His induction training to Department M had lasted six months, so he was rather shocked at the casual attitude he found here.

“Harry, I make it my policy to only employ people who have a nose for finding trouble. That, my young friend, describes you to a tee! I’ll let Tonks fill you in on all the little details,” Dedalus smirked.

Dora laughed and leapt up out of her seat. “Hey, that was longer than my induction took,” she laughed. “Come on, Harry; to the Tonksmobile!”

And with that, Harry found himself dragged out of the office by Dora and down the corridor. She wrapped her arm around his and pulled him close as they walked.

“Damn, it’s good to see you,” she smiled. “I’ve really missed you, you know. Mum’s going to be ecstatic when she hears you’re back.

Harry groaned. “Oh, bugger. I never wrote to your mum, either. Andy’s going to kill me, isn’t she?”

“Oh, she won’t kill you. Maim you a little bit, perhaps, but definitely not kill you,” Dora smirked.

“How’s your mum been doing?” Harry asked warily. Andromeda had always been one of his favourite visitors to Grimmauld Place, and she and Sirius were close friends as well as cousins. She’d always taken the opportunity to spoil Harry outrageously whenever she saw him, and Harry always thought of her as a favourite aunt. He’d been distressed to learn of the death of her husband, Ted, during the last war, which had devastated poor Andy. It had been especially hard on Dora, who was still reeling from the death of her fiancé during the Grimmauld Place massacre.

“Oh, she’s okay, I guess,” Dora replied, a little guardedly for Harry’s comfort. “You should go and see her soon. She’ll love to get a visit from you.”

“Is she still living over in Bedfordshire?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, she’s still in the family home at Ampthill. She just couldn’t bear to give the old place up,” she replied.

Harry looked at his friend closely and could see a slight tightening around her eyes. He suspected all was not well with her mother and it caused him a pang of guilt. Andromeda and Nymphadora were practically family, and yet he’d virtually forgotten about them in recent years. Mind you, forgetting about the past had been pretty high on his agenda ever since he’d left England, so perhaps it was to be expected. Squaring his jaw, he resolved to go and see Andy as soon as possible.

“So, where are we off to?” Harry asked, determined to shift to more comfortable subjects.

“Well, I had planned to take you around my patch and introduce you to a few of my contacts, but you’re going to have to go home and change first. Honestly, Harry, when did you start dressing like a complete stiff?” Dora tutted, eyeing his smart suit in disgust.

“Hey, I didn’t know what to expect today. I thought I’d be in meetings and interviews all the time,” he replied defensively.

“Fair enough, but I can’t take you out looking like that! You might as well write ‘Copper’ or ‘Ministry Nark’ on your forehead and have done with it. And what happened to your hair? I used to love those long messy locks of yours. I hate to say this, Harry, but you look positively boring, like you work for a bank, or something!” she gasped in mock horror. “Let’s go and get you into something a bit more stylish. Where are you staying at the moment?”

“Some nondescript hotel just the other side of Westminster Bridge,” Harry shrugged.

“What? Well, that won’t do! I’ve got a spare bedroom at my gaff, you can come and bunk with me until you sort something out,” she declared decisively, before an evil grin came onto her face. “I should warn you though; I’m a bit casual about what I wear when I’m relaxing. Or what I don’t wear, I should say.”

“Oh, I’d have to face the horror of a half-naked Nymphadora, would I? I don’t think my heart could stand it!” Harry chuckled.

“You’d love it, you filthy boy,” Dora leered.

“Okay, you’ve convinced me,” Harry grinned. “Let’s go and check me out of Chateau Cockroach. Where is your flat anyway?”

“Camden, near the lock, actually,” she smiled. “It’s a really great place; you’ll love it.”

“Blimey, a place up there must cost a few Knuts,” Harry noted.

“Sirius was very generous in his will,” Dora replied quietly.

Harry said no more for the moment. His godfather had indeed been very generous to everyone he’d been close to in his will, partly, Harry suspected, to ensure the less respectable members of the Black family ended up with nothing. Harry himself had received a sizable pile of gold, most of which still sat in his vault in Gringotts, and 12 Grimmauld Place itself. Not that he’d set foot back in the house since the funeral, though.

With both of them sharing a reflective silence, Harry let himself be led to the lift and eventually down to the Atrium. Rather than heading to one of the fireplaces that were linked to the Floo network, Dora guided him past them and towards a door, tucked away at the end of a long, black corridor. When she opened it, Harry was surprised to see it led into a large garage area.

Blinking in surprise, he looked about. Although the garage had parking for at least thirty vehicles, there were probably less than a dozen cars in the place. The vehicles themselves were of a wide variety of models and ages, some of them looking like they should have had a man holding a red flag walking in front of them while they were driven. On the other end of the spectrum, a shiny red Ferrari was parked by itself in one corner.

“That’s Kingsley’s,” Dora grinned, noting the direction Harry was looking.

“Wow, he’s really living the life, isn’t he? A plush office, hot wheels and a hot, big-titted secretary. He’s not doing badly for an ex-Auror,” Harry noted, but there was no malice in his voice.

“I guess not, but he works hard for his little luxuries,” Dora told him. “He’s the best Minister in living memory, perhaps even longer. Kingsley runs a tight ship.”

“I guess,” Harry nodded. “So, which car is yours? Wait, don’t tell me! It’s that carriage over there, isn’t it? The one that looks a bit like a hearse. You always were a Goth girl at heart, weren’t you?”

“Very funny. This is my car over here,” she said dragging him to one side. “Behold, the mighty Tonksmobile! The most awesome thing on four wheels!”

Harry looked at the silver/grey Volkswagen Golf in front of him. Frankly, the thing looked like it had seen better days. He could see several dents in the doors and around the front bumper, the paintwork was chipped in several places, and there were touches of rust around the wheel arch. There was a set of (hopefully) ironic fluffy dice hanging from the rear-view mirror, and several stuffed animals, including a grinning Garfield, in the back window.

“Err…” he said, desperately trying to think of something positive to say about the heap of mechanical crap sat in front of him.

“Hey, it might not look much, but she’s got it where it counts. Hop in, Harry, and strap yourself in,” Dora announced loudly, before diving into the driver’s seat. Harry more cautiously occupied the passenger’s position, but not before moving several books, a half-full bottle of water and a large bag of Haribo Super Mix from the seat. Dora, as he remembered, was never the tidiest of people.

“All buckled in?” Dora asked as Harry did up his seatbelt.

“Yeah, but where are we… FUCK ME!” Harry suddenly yelled, as the little car leapt forward with a screech of tires, seemingly heading straight for a brick wall.

“AAAAGGHHH!” he screamed at the Golf shot through what appear to be a solid wall at what he estimated was somewhere in the region of a hundred miles an hour and emerged in a narrow alley way. Dora spun the wheel, and the car lurched onto two wheels and turned hard right. Ahead, Harry could see numerous cars passing by on what looked like a busy street. Tonks, however, didn’t slow down.

“Dora, what are you… AAAAGGHHH!” he yelled again as the car shot out of the alley and into a gap between a white van and a BMW that Harry guessed was about a yard and a half wide. It slowly began to dawn on him that Dora’s little VW was defying the laws of physics.

“You’ve modified this car, haven’t you? This thing runs on magic, doesn’t it?” Harry accused her, simultaneously gripping the arm rest as hard as he could as they swung around the white van and directly into the path of an oncoming motorcycle. In the blink of an eye, they were past the van and had cut back in to the left-hand side of the road, missing the bike by inches.

“Well, duh!” Dora grinned. “Now, this hotel is the other side of Westminster Bridge, is it? I’ll head back along Embankment, then.”

Harry briefly saw an oncoming bus as Dora threw the car round a bend onto the busy road that ran alongside the Thames. He briefly thanked the gods that he hadn’t had more than a slice of toast for breakfast as they charged into oncoming traffic, overtaking cars and lorries effortlessly. At one point, Dora even mounted the pavement briefly so she could under-take a rather slow Fiat. At that point, Harry decided the trip would be much more enjoyable if he just kept his eyes closed.

A very short while later, he felt the car screech to a halt and heard the engine being turned off. That just about gave him the courage to open his eyes and he turned and glared at an unrepentant Dora, who was smirking at him with one arm casually draped over the steering wheel.

“Something wrong, Harry, dear?” she asked in a sweet voice.

“I can arrange it that they never find your body,” Harry snarled while trying desperately to regain his shattered composure.

“Oh, how can you say a thing like that?” Dora exclaimed, clutching at her heart. “Besides, I know you’re joking. You love me too much to threaten me for real.”

“You can go off people, you know,” he replied sourly, before turning and looking out the window. He was unsurprised to see that they were parked directly outside the hotel he was staying in.

“There you go,” Dora said smugly. “Now, let’s go and collect your things and get you checked out. You can change out of those boring, old clothes while you’re at it, too.”

“You do notice that we’re parked on double yellow lines, don’t you?” Harry asked archly.

“There’s a Muggle-Repelling Charm on the car,” she shrugged casually, before a frown appeared on her face. “Mind you, becoming a Traffic Warder would be the perfect new career for any former Death Eater, now I think about it.”

“Right, so if anyone tries to give you a ticket, we’ll arrest them on suspicion of being an evil bastard,” Harry grinned.

“That’s a good plan,” Dora laughed, “Come on, handsome; let’s get you into some sexier clothes.”

They climbed out of the car and headed up the short flight of steps that led up to the hotel’s front entrance. Tonks once again took Harry’s arm as they strode into the lobby. As they entered, Harry noticed the receptionist, a fairly young, dark-skinned girl, give him the briefest of disapproving looks, before staring back at her computer screen.

“She probably thinks I’m a hooker you’re taking up to your room,” Dora whispered in his ear, having obviously seen the judgmental look that he’d received. Harry shook his head and decided to say nothing, but that simply wasn’t Tonks’s style.

“I’m going to have to charge you extra this time, Mr P,” Dora declared loudly as they walked past the reception desk, “I couldn’t sit down properly for a week after last time. I hope you’ve bought enough KY Jelly this time, and all!”

Harry managed to stifle a moan, and said nothing until they were safely in the lift.

“You think you’re funny, but you’re not,” he said to her sourly.

Dora burst out laughing. “Oh, lighten up, grumpy-pants! You know, you used to be a lot more fun.”

“Yeah, I did,” he agreed quietly. The laughter died instantly.

“I’m sorry, Harry,” Dora said sincerely. “I know that Dedalus told me you’d had a rough time of it over the last few years, but I never…”

“No, you’re right,” Harry quickly cut her off. “I am being a bit of a misery. That was pretty funny and I should lighten up. It’s just taking me a bit of time to readjust, that’s all. Being back in London has brought back a lot of memories and I’m just having a bit of a hard time with it. Don’t worry, I’ll be back making suggestive comments and trying to embarrass you in public before you know it.”

“Ah, there’s the Harry I know and love,” Dora smiled and impulsively threw her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek. Of course, the Gods chose that moment for the lift doors to open and they turned to see a middle-aged man in a business suit staring at them in surprise.

“Oh, Harry! Take me to your room and make love to me all day long! Take me, big boy, take me!” Dora cried unconvincingly, starting to rub her hands desperately over his chest.

“Sorry,” Harry said to the stunned businessman. “We’ve just been on the tube. All those vibrations through the seats make her randy, you see.”

And with that, he and Tonks pushed past the man and headed down the corridor. Only when they heard the lift door’s closing did they break out into giggles.

“Did you see the expression on his face?” Dora laughed. “I think he would have paid good money to watch us at it! Dirty old sod.”

“What have I let myself in for?” Harry groaned, as he stopped outside his room.

“Go on, you love it and you know you do,” Dora grinned, as Harry unlocked the door.

They entered the room and Dora looked around disapprovingly. “I see what you mean about this place being nondescript. How dull,” she muttered with distaste.

“It was only ever meant to be temporary,” Harry said defensively as he headed to the closet to retrieve his suitcase.

“Right, let’s see what decent duds you’ve got,” Dora said firmly. “Accio Harry’s clothing!”

A second later, all of Harry’s clothes leapt out of the closet or from the chest of draws situated under the window. Unfortunately, Dora had forgotten to exclude the clothes he was wearing when she cast her Summoning Spell. Or maybe she hadn’t forgotten. Harry suddenly found himself standing stark naked.

“DORA!” Harry yelled and dived forward to grab the duvet off the bed and wrap it around himself.

“Oh, my!” Dora exclaimed, fanning her face with her hand. “It seems that little boy I used to know isn’t so little anymore.”

“Is this what working with you is going to be like all the time?” he asked plaintively.

“Pretty much,” she grinned.

“I wonder it’s too late to go back to Strasbourg?” Harry muttered.

“Oh, don’t say that. I’m loving having you here. My day just keeps getting better and better,” she smirked evilly.

“Can I have some clothes, please?” he asked wistfully, deciding that he’d let her win this round, not that he had much choice.

“Of course, luscious, you need only ask,” she grinned, and started to rummage through the pile of clothes that were now lying on the bed. Her smile gradually faded as she casually tossed items over her shoulder, evidently rejecting them as unsuitable. Pretty soon, she’d worked her way through all of Harry’s things and found nothing to her liking.

“Are these all the clothes you own? Bloody hell, luv, you’ve really turned into a square,” she told him disapprovingly.

“Tonks,” Harry said warningly.

“Oh, here, put these on,” she said, grabbing a pair of jeans and a plain blue t-shirt. Seeing that she wasn’t going to leave the room, or even look away, Harry turned around before letting the duvet drop and hurriedly pulling on the jeans. He then slipped the t-shirt over his head and began to hunt for a pair of socks.

“Okay, change of plan,” Dora announced. “I was going to take you straight back to my flat and get you settled in, but we now have something much more important to do, first.”

“What?” Harry asked warily.

“We’re going clothes shopping!” she declared brightly.

Harry groaned. He remembered from past experience what shopping with Dora could be like.

“Don’t be like that,” she scolded him. “Now, get packed and let’s blow this Popsicle stand. Really, Harry, I thought I was messy, but just look at this place! Clothes strewn everywhere… what a pigsty.”

Biting his tongue, Harry just retrieved his wand from the pair of trousers he had been wearing and gave it a quick wave. Instantly, his belongings all leapt into the air and flew at an incredible speed into his open suitcase. If there was one thing he’d learnt over the last few years it was how to pack quickly.

“Cool, now let’s get you checked out,” Dora grinned.

The girl on the reception desk offered him a friendly smile when he told her that he was checking out. She must have realised they had been upstairs far too short a time to be up to anything untoward, and that Dora had been joking around.

“That will be £635.50, please,” the girl informed Harry.

“Ouch! How long were you staying here?” Dora gasped when she heard the total of the bill.

“Just two nights,” Harry admitted. “Hey, this is central London, you know.”

“Hmm, still seems a bit pricy to me,” she said suspiciously. She turned to the girl on the reception desk. “How much of that bill is for dirty movies he’s rented?”

“Oh, just the one,” she replied, obviously deciding to join in on the fun of embarrassing Harry.

“Don’t tell me, let me guess! Was the title of the movie ‘Thai Lady-boys in Heat’? That’s his favourite,” Dora asked eagerly.

“How did you know?” the girl giggled.

“I don’t have to take this,” Harry grumbled, thrusting his credit card at the girl. “I can go to better hotels than this to be laughed at, you know!”

“Yeah, but those places don’t have your film entertainment of choice, do they?” Dora teased.

“You’d never guess that we’re distantly related, would you?” Harry asked the receptionist in a pained voice.

“It just makes our illicit love affair all the more perverted,” Dora announced in a steamy voice.

“Here’s your receipt,” the girl laughed, handing Harry a slip of paper.

He was very proud of himself that he didn’t actually break into a run while leaving the hotel.





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