Hey everyone, as always, thanks for reading. There's gonna be another Halloween special next Sunday
T'was All Hallows' Eve, babe, in the drunk tank. An old man said to me "Won't see another one."
"So then the witch swerves, right? And I stupify her in mid-air and she falls, her hair flapping all around..."
Her wild-haired companion nodded lazily, his eyes focusing on a point somewhere in the distance.
"Well, so then I spin around to face her friend, all smart and smooth-like." Tonks demonstrated.
The scruffy wizard grunted his appreciation.
"But out of the corner of my eye, I can see this hooded wizard moving his wand. Not a death-eater hood, mind you. Just this old, manky black hood that didn't even hide his long grey hair."
Her new friend nodded as if he knew just what she was talking about.
"So he moves it like this and that," Tonks demonstrated and the man mimicked her moves, swaying back and forth, "And that's the killing curse, you know, and out of the corner of my eye, I can see Mad-Eye standing right where his wand's pointing."
"And then?" the messy man asked, by now invested in the story.
"I cast the South Siberian Limb Severing Curse," Tonks said uncertainly. All afternoon, her mind had been a mess of thoughts, and it felt strange to finally voice the problem.
"I cast the South Siberian Limb Severing Curse," she said, louder this time, letting the full pain of the words wash over her.
"So?" her companion slurred.
"So? It's illegal!"
The man sitting next to her shrugged. "What else were you s'posed to do? A bloody shield charm?"
"Shield charms don't-"
"Don't work against the killing curse, I know, mate."
Tonks shook her head. "I could've disarmed him. That's what we were taught to do in training. I just…just wasn't thinking straight." She put her head in her arms, pushing back the tears that had sprung up.
"So?" the man persisted. "You used the wrong spell in battle, big deal."
"You don't understand," she moaned, her voice muffled. "I severed his finger off. A random man got involved in a Diagon Alley brawl and I've permanently destroyed his finger."
"I wouldn't call 'im a random bloke if he's trying to kill-" the man started, but Tonks tuned out the rest. Sure, the man had performed the moves for avada kedavra, but it had been in self-defense. There was a fight going on around him. And in all likelihood, he wouldn't have been able to cast the spell. Very few people could. No, there was no way of getting out of this. She'd just hacked off a man's finger. Permanently.
"Comm? I need a favour."
"Yeah?" her companion's black beady eyes looked up and down, sizing her up.
"I need you to curse my finger off."
"You out of your mind?" The drunk turned away to face the wall.
"No, I mean it. I think it's the only way to get even. This'll haunt me for ever, see."
Finally, the man raised his head. "I promised myself I'd never do that again," he told her, "but I suppose I can make an exception, seeing as it's you."
Tonks nodded gratefully.
Then the man grinned. "Not so easy, though, is it? Forgot I didn't have a wand, din' ya?"
"Tear it out then," Tonks suggested. "Bite it off, I don't care. Suppose the pain's the price that comes with it."
"You can tear out your finger all you like, but it won't heal the shred that's been ripped from your soul."
Tonks turned at the gruff, Irish voice and saw her mentor standing in the doorway.
Annoyance at having her plan disrupted rose inside her like fire whooshing up a pole. "Why did you come down here?"
"Had to make sure you didn't do anything stupid." Tonks rolled her eyes. "And I wanted to thank you."
Tonks' mouth gaped open and her mentor shrugged. "You saved my life."
"You mean, you're not mad at me for using an illegal spell? Breaking fighting protocol? Hurting a civilian?"
"I suppose I could give you a good bollocking for any one of those, but I'm hardly in a position to do that, am I?"
Moody limped to the center of the room. He waved his wand and conjured up a table and three chairs, then a feast: lamb stew with pumpkin mash, barmbrack, and flagons of honey-coloured mulled mead.
"Cmon, you need some food in you," he told his mentee.
Without thinking, Tonks started on her stew, ladling the heart-warming goodness into her, pausing only to take large gulps of the mead. Mad-Eye and Commodus followed her lead.
"His finger, though," Tonks said eventually. "Mad-Eye, how could I?"
"The St. Mungo's report came back an hour ago. Turns out it was only his fingertip," her mentor said.
Though this was a relief, it didn't lighten Tonks' mood too much.
"Don't St. Mungo's do them metal fingertips for folks who lost the real ones?" Commodus asked and Mad-Eye nodded.
"Avery says he wants a gold one, funded by the department."
Commodus laughed, but Tonks' heart soared. "You didn't tell me it was Avery!"
"What does it matter?"
"Well, Avery's a Death Eater who got off. Everyone knows that."
"Avery's a civilian whose only formal crime is getting involved in a street fight." Moody's reply was curt.
"C'mon," Tonks protested. "Like you wouldn't have hexed him yourself."
"If you're gonna think like that, you might as well go round every suspected criminal's house and hex their fingers off," Moody told her. "You do that regularly, do you?"
"Well, no." Tonks fell into silence.
"Look, he's right," Commodus said unexpectedly. "If the person whose finger you cursed off was a bad person, you still just cursed someone's finger off."
"You're right," Tonks' shoulders drooped. "Maybe I just wanted some way to escape from all the guilt and pain, is all. Kid myself that I was a good person."
"Listen." Moody put his hand on her shoulder. "Not many people make it out of this world innocent. And no auror does, that's for sure. If you hurt somebody, you try and fix it and make amends. And you make sure it never happens again. It's a burden you carry around with you, but it doesn't mean your life's over. Just don't take a leaf from this sod's book," he moved his hand to indicate Commodus, who was helping himself to more mead.
Tonks nodded. For the first time, she wondered just how scarred Moody's soul was. She'd be like her mentor, and become a better person. She'd master fighting techniques and learn to disarm people without hurting them.
Moody waved his wand and conjured up plates of sticky toffee pudding.
"Courtesy of the Green Dragon," he explained, seeing Tonks' questioning gaze. "Go on, eat. You'll be living off of tasteless gruel for the next few days as it is."
Tonks' insides tightened, but she forced the question that had been tormenting her out of her throat. "How long will I have to stay here for?"
"Three more days, that's the minimum sentence. Not even Scrimgeour thinks you should be held here for longer than that. You did save my life."
Tonks smiled, relief pouring through her veins.
"Three more days, that's what the veela promised me," Commodus sang drunkenly and Moody and Tonks, recognizing the old folk song, joined in enthusiastically.
The boys of the Auror Department
Were singing The Veela Way
And the bells were ringing out
For another day.