“Hey Tonks, thank you for having lunch with me on such short notice.” I stand in the doorway of Tonks’ new office as she finishes signing and stacks a parchment in her ‘OUT’ box.
“No problem. What are friends for anyway?” She stands and grabs her coat, a brown cow-spotted, thigh-length fleece with blazing-pink, fake-fur edging. I must admit, it is so very Tonks. I stare at the fake fur, hypnotized by the diversity of the color to the brown cow-style spots.
“How does the Leaky Cauldron sound?” she asks, snapping me back to reality.
“Sounds great,” is all I can reply. The truth is, her jacket makes me speechless...
A few minutes later we are in the alley behind the Leaky and it seems we left early enough to beat the lunch rush. I ask the hostess for a more private booth in an isolated corner. I do not want to take any chances on anyone overhearing what I have to tell Tonks.
“So what’s up, Cho? What did you need to talk to me about?” she asks me after she waits for our waiter to leave. I look around to make sure no one is within earshot.
“It is about my mother and father,” I begin. I find myself staring intently at the roughened finish of the dark wood of our table. I watch as a drop of condensation trickles down the side of Tonks’ water goblet before she takes a sip. “You see, my mother’s health has taken a turn for the worse and my father is going to take her back to China very, very soon...for more traditional methods of magical medical therapy. It is her only chance at survival. If they do not go, she will die.”
“I’m sorry this has happened, but she can get help back in China, can’t she?” Tonks' expression is one of concern. “Then that’s a good thing. Isn’t it? They’ll be back before you blink and she’ll be completely cured.” She is trying to make me feel better about the situation. It has always been her cheerful way of doing things. I look up and finally meet her eyes.
“It is not as easy as that. This is why I have asked you to meet with me. I need your help, Tonks, and no one can know about this or my parents’ lives could be put in danger.”
“What do you mean? What’s going on, Cho?” All the optimism seems to leave her as she reaches for my hand and takes it.
As our food arrives and we begin to eat I tell her about the protests in China and how my parents were labeled political dissidents after the Tiananmen uprisings in Beijing in early June of 1989. How the three of us fled to London when I was only nine years old. Over crisps and roast beef sandwiches I confide in her my fears for them, how I am scared I may never see either of them again after they leave. How ironic that the only possible cure for Mami lies in the heart of a country whose government is just as dangerous to her as the cancer.
Cancer...I hate that word...
“Merlin’s beard, that’s some story. You know that was at the end of my fifth year, right about the time Charlie and I started seeing each other the first time.” Tonks gazes into the basket of crisps in the center of the table. “I was snogging a Weasley and you and your parents were fleeing for your lives. It’s a hell of a world we live in.” But then she looks back up to me, determination set in her eyes. “How can I help you and your parents?”
“All of the Portkey arrangements have already been made,” I tell her. “What I need now is to obtain false documentation for the two of them. They need fake ID’s and traveling papers.” I feel bad for asking so much of Tonks but this is my family...I will do anything for them. “I wish there was something I could do to help them more but Mami is too weak to take Polyjuice Potion and Baba refuses to disguise himself if she cannot.”
“I think I can help you, there,” Tonks leans forward intently. “I’ll talk to Alastor about the documents. With his help that should be no problem. Your mum and dad need to procure new wands with their new identification cards, before they leave for China. If they use the wands that are registered to them now, signatures could be recognized and traced back to their real identities.” She becomes more animated and excited as she vocalizes her plans. And she begins to talk with her hands. “I may be able to procure permission for you to use some spells strictly regulated and used only for law enforcement purposes...like fingerprint and voice alteration spells, maybe a magical signature-weakening spell. Hey, we need to talk to Charlie...did you learn any of the Dragon-Hunter spells when you were with him in Tibet?” I nod at her question. “I’m sure some of those might help your folks if they get themselves in a tight spot.”
Our planning continues for the better part of the next thirty minutes. I begin to feel much better, more relieved than I have in weeks. Before we get up from the table Tonks extends her right hand to me as if to shake it, but stops as she curls her four fingers and extends her thumb, her hand now imitating a claw. “Intelligence and Fidelity,” she whispers as I mimic her gesture with my own right hand. My fingers hook together with hers and our thumbs overlap.
“Acumen and Honor,” I whisper the answer. The secret greeting of all Ravenclaw. A promise has been made, more meaningful and powerful than any unbreakable vow.