“Shit,” I growl in thought. “When you fuck with people, you really fuck with people.”
“There’s no time for this, Tonks!”
But I have already turned and am walking away from her, my mind racing in a flurry of images: flashes of Aveline from the past year, recollections of any of my encounters with Babette Delacour, then finally the goofy faces of Fred and George Weasley.
“I know, Aveline,” I snap at her and turn to meet her eyes, “We’re gonna save Fred first; then you and I are going to have a very long talk about what you’ve just told me, including all the things you’ve left out; and you’re gonna find a way to compensate for everything you’ve done to the people I love.” I pause as her jaw clenches and the hair on the back of my neck stands on end. She remains silent.
“Do you understand?” I ask calmly.
More silence as she grits her teeth.
“I’ll go to Kingsley right now,” I say evenly, fighting for emotional control. “Do you understand me, Aveline?”
“God damn it, Tonks, you stubborn bint,” she replies in exasperation, “Yes! Come on…Fred,…remember?”
It really pisses me off that I can’t go after her right now. It pisses me off even more to realize she’s right about us needing to focus on the task at hand: saving Fred Weasley.
“I’ll Firecall George at Zonko’s, tell him we’re on our way. Is Fleur there with him and Gabrielle?” I ask and Aveline nods.
“Tell him to keep Gabrielle upstairs and have Fleur meet us downstairs,” Aveline says, “I have to talk to Fleur about everything. We’ll have to break this to Gabrielle gently.”
“Good,” I reply, “I’ll Firecall Bill and tell him to meet us at Zonko’s right away. And Aveline,” I pause as we look at each other again, “You’re gonna be the one to talk to Charlie about all this. I’m sure he’ll want to know the truth about what you’ve done.”
“I already told him all this, a long time ago,” she says curtly with a smug expression on her face. “So I’ll Firecall him right after…”
“Wait just one second,” I say as I hold up my hand, “What the fuck? Charlie knows about all this?”
One corner of her mouth quirks into a half grin. It’s as if ice water flows through my spine.
“Son of a bitch,” I mutter in disbelief. She might as well have slapped me in the face. He knew about her, knew about all this. Merlin fucking damn it, I don’t believe this!
Then realization cuffs me in the jaw.
“You’re a Veela, aren’t you?”
“Sometimes I wonder how the Sorting Hat put you into Ravenclaw,” she says as she shakes her head in disbelief, “It’s certainly taken you long enough to figure things out, hasn’t it?” There’s that infuriating half grin again.
“WHIZZY!” I shout, “Whizzy come quick! I have to talk to you! Hurry, Whizzy, HURRY!!!”
“NO!” she barks, nearly begs as she lurches forward and grabs my arm in desperation. “Please, don’t, don’t do it, Tonks. Please don’t tell him,” the panic in her eyes stuns me more than all of her recent revelations. “Please let me be the one to tell him when the time comes; that’s all I ask.”
Why on earth is she asking this of me? I hear Whizzy’s footsteps on the floor above us.
“You still care about him,” I whisper. “That’s why you gave Cleansweep back to him.” Well this afternoon has been just full of surprises… “He’s going to find out about this with the others, when we meet them at Zonko’s. Maybe not the part about you being a Veela, but most of the rest of it. When this is over…you owe him the full truth, Aveline. He deserves that much.”
“I know,” she says, “And I will.” Then she looks down at the floor.
At that moment Whizzy opens the parlor doors and hurries in.
“Dorrie?” he hesitates, looking back and forth between me and Aveline. “Dorrie, darling, what has happened?”
I step toward him and loop my arm to Aveline’s elbow as the two of us turn to face him. I look at Whizzy with as bright an expression as I can muster given my concern for Fred.
“Whizzy,” I begin, “Aveline knows where Fred Weasley is being held captive. We need to get to Zonko’s right away to form a rescue party.”
Whizzy’s expression is one of shock and for once the man is completely speechless.
I turn to look at Aveline and when our eyes meet I nod at her, never once letting my gaze leave her.
You better do right by these people, Aveline. You better do right.