A/N: A special “Thank You” goes out to each of the following, for being there since the beginning and being so encouraging: Jen, for assistance and guidance, Claire, for VERY lengthy, newsy reviews, Keira-lee for her astounding use of ellipsis and exclamation marks, Eleen for making me laugh out loud with every review, Bethany for her constant encouragement, Katieweasley for death threats that forced me to continue working (LOL), Jess, for being a wonderful sounding board, in both English and Irish, Anastasia for her banner, as well as the two-hour tutorial to get this technophobe to the point where she could upload it, and Alaska Steele, Amcelle, Kirley_Duke, Kreacher_feature, Siriusdoll, Anastacia, Purplepygmypuff, Mirime, Elena, gabzi27, Estephania, Nephele de Tourmalin and Siriuslymissed for consistent reads and reviews. Thank you to all of my other readers as well – I have really enjoyed writing this little story, and it means the world to me that you have taken the time to read it. And thank you to JKR, of course.
Remus Lupin rolled over in his bed, and was surprised to find himself alone. In the years since he had inherited the cottage, he had very rarely awakened alone. In fact, only one other morning did Nymphadora manage to get up before he did, and that was just because she was quite violently hung over and thought she might die without a cup of tea.
She was certainly not hung over today. He smiled to himself. He knew she was excited, but she must have been all a twitter to have roused herself this early – Nymphadora was not a morning person.
He stretched and looked around the cozy little bedroom. Tonks had painted the walls 19 different colours before choosing this calming pale blue. He had been certain that this had been the seventh colour and that she had vetoed it after a week, but she insisted that wasn’t the case. He didn’t much care. Coming home to a wee cottage that changed colours weekly was one of the many pleasures of living with Nymphadora Tonks.
Strangely enough, they had never actually acknowledged that they were living together. He had inherited the little place on the outskirts of Hogsmeade from Dumbledore, and she had stayed with him nearly every night for the past two years. Even so, she maintained her flat in London, and went over once in a while to dust and pay her rent. He wasn’t exactly sure why she kept it, but he supposed it allowed her a measure of independence. At some stage he hoped that she would give it up, but for now, he just saw it as another of her little quirks which he adored so much. Plus, it was very convenient to have a place to crash when they were in London.
He picked up a book from his bedside table and walked toward the far wall. The entire wall was bookshelves, stocked with his books, Sirius’ books, Dumbledore’s books…
It had been very kind of him to think of Remus in his will. The cottage was small and quaint, with a few features that were suspiciously suitable to his situation. There was a small pantry in the basement, stocked with all of the necessary ingredients for brewing several lifetimes worth of Wolfsbane potion. Beyond that was the cellar, which was warm, sound-proof and impenetrable. Remus spent his full moons there in relative comfort, secure in the knowledge that Tonks would be waiting for him in the morning.
Dumbledore had also left him a sum of money that was tidy by any man’s standards, but to a man who had lived as frugally as Remus, was a fortune.
But most importantly, Dumbledore had left Remus work. There was a volume on werewolf relations in Europe that the Headmaster had been researching for over a decade. It wasn’t half finished, and he requested in his will that Remus take up the challenge to complete the book. Take it up he did. Remus worked at least nine hours a day on the project, and traveled quite regularly to research his subjects. Tonks begged him to slow down. Employment made him positively jolly, and at this rate he would be finished the book inside of a year.
He chuckled as he pulled on his trousers. No work today. Well, none of that sort, in any case. He heard a sing-song voice call from the kitchen.
“Are you awake, love?”
“Well, hurry up and get dressed! They’ll be here any minute! I’ve been cleaning for ages.”
Remus rolled his eyes. Only when Tonks was really nervous did she tidy. Most of the time she was decidedly untidy, and was astounded by his own neatness. Once in a while she would test him, by moving a single book out of place on one of the shelves and timing how long it took for him to notice. It never took more than a day for it to be returned to its rightful spot. It drove her quite mad.
And so it seemed strange to step into their sitting room and find it positively sparkling. He cast a sidelong glance into the kitchen and caught sight of Nymphadora, looking tremendously cute in a t-shirt and jeans, her hair in pale pink curls. When she turned to face him, he noticed something else. She was wearing a frilly, flowery apron. Now where did she get that? He sauntered over to her, hands plunged deep in his pockets, and placed a quick kiss on her cheek.
“Sweet yodeling Merlin on a cracker!” He grinned at her, doing a credible impression of her father. “Lovely apron, Miss Tonks. You sure do clean up nice. I adore this domestic look.”
“Don’t tease, you. I’m trying to make a good impression.”
“On a six month old? I doubt that she’ll notice. As for Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, I don’t imagine that you could impress them more than you already have.” His smile was genuine. Tonks had fought bravely with Harry, Ron, Hermione and himself, in order to vanquish Voldemort. She was one of the reasons that the wizarding world was now safe, and he was proud of her.
A little more than a year ago, Harry had destroyed all of the remaining Horcruxes and then killed Voldemort. It was a time of great celebration, and very shortly afterwards, Ron and Hermione married. Remus joked that approximately 43 seconds after officially becoming a Weasley, Hermione was pregnant. Nine months later Katie, with her father’s colouring and her mother’s pretty face and lovely curls, was born.
And today he and Tonks were going to take care of her.
He was a little nervous. He had always liked babies, but the last one he’d actually held was Harry. He was also skittish because Nymphadora had never really overcome her clumsy phase, and he had visions of the poor wee one being dropped on her pretty red head. Tonks had assured him repeatedly that she was “good with kids.” He could only hope.
Before he could get himself any more worked up, there was a knock at the door.
“They’re here!!” Tonks practically bounded to the front hall, tripping a little on the carpet before reaching her destination. Remus winced a little.
“Not a word out of you, Lupin,” she warned. “Trust me – I’m good with kids.” Then she opened the door to a very eager looking Ron, holding a chubby redheaded girl dressed all in green. The baby squealed at the sight of Tonks and held her arms out. Tonks grabbed her and Katie immediately stuffed her mouth with fistfuls of pink hair. Blinded by the infant attached to her skull, she still managed, quite gracefully Remus noticed, to maneuver herself to the sofa and sit down.
Ron shook Remus’ hand. “Thanks for doing this. It means a lot to us to get away for a weekend. You’ll be happy to know that I stopped my wife from leaving thirty pages of instructions.” Hermione rolled her eyes.
“Oh – I’m not worried. I know Auntie Tonks knows what she’s doing.” At the thought of leaving her baby, though, her eyes started to fill with tears.
Ron dropped the baby’s bag and ushered Hermione towards the door. “I’d better get her out of here, or she’ll change her mind. Can’t have that happen – I’m hoping to make another one of those this weekend.” He nodded towards his giggling daughter.
“Ronald!” Hermione blushed and smacked her husband on the arm.
“Practice makes perfect, right Professor?!” Ron offered a boyish grin and barely dodged a left hook from Hermione, now scarlet to the roots of her hair. Remus dared not laugh, and was happy with the distraction of the couple making to leave.
Tonks brought the baby to kiss her parents goodbye, and with only a few tears Ron and Hermione were off on their holiday, leaving their gorgeous little bundle in the hands of Remus and Tonks.
“So.” Tonks was standing with Katie on one hip, and her hand on the other.
“So, do you want to hold her?”
Remus took a deep breath. “I – I’m not sure. She’s so little. I could hurt her.”
Tonks laughed out loud, and then held the baby out in front of her, facing Remus. “Are you really afraid of a wee baby? DADA Professor, Order of Merlin first class Remus Lupin is afraid of an infant ?!” She took a step closer, and wiggled the baby at arms length. He bit his lip.
Tonks’ eyes narrowed and she pulled the giggling baby back to her chest. “You,” she spat, “think I’m going to drop her.” Remus looked sheepishly at his feet, drove his hands into his pockets and shrugged his shoulders.
“I told you before,” she said more quietly, “I’m good with kids.”
Remus saw a chance to recover a little. “Actually, I did notice you were quite graceful with her.” Tonks shot him a scathing look. “I’m serious,” he added.
Finally, her eyes softened. She settled herself on the sofa and patted the seat next to her. “Come here. I’ll show you how to hold our girl.”
After a few false starts, the baby was seated fairly comfortably in Remus’ lap, although he insisted on holding her head in place. “Why are you doing that?” Tonks asked. He told her that he’d read in a book that you had to hold a baby’s head. Tonks rolled her eyes. “Cripes, Lupin, she’s six months old. She can manage her own head. Try to relax. I’m going to make her a bottle.”
That turned out to be easier said than done. The instant Tonks stood up, Katie started screaming like a banshee and reaching towards her. Lupin looked at Tonks with terror in his eyes, clearly unable to imagine what to do with the little creature in his arms. “What do I do? How do I make it stop?”
“Sing her a song.”
“I don’t know any baby songs!”
“Sing her the alphabet song.”
Lupin bounced the baby on his knee and began singing his way through the alphabet. “♪A ♪ B ♪ C ♪ D ♪ E ♪ F ♪G ♪ - H ♪ I ♪ J ♪ K ♪ L ♪ M ♪ N ♪ O ♪ P ♪…” Katie’s big blue eyes grew wide, and she stopped crying. She seemed to consider Remus’ gruff voice for a moment, and then must have decided that it was acceptable, because she started squealing with delight. That was until he got to the end of the song. Then she took a few deep cleansing breaths to get herself primed, and began to wail. “WAHHHHHHHH!”
Tonks was rather enjoying the look of alarm on Remus’ face, but she took pity on him and called out advice from the kitchen. “Keep singing – she seems to like it.”
“I don’t know any other children’s songs!”
“Mother of Merlin, Remus – she doesn’t care what words you sing – she just likes the sound of your voice.”
Panicked, Remus began singing, to the tune of the alphabet song, whatever entered his head at the moment.
“♪ If you want to kill a galloping graphorn
first you have to hit it with a good stunning spell.
Then you have to thrust a blade in his gullet
And pull out his heart and cut it in two
Try to get ahold of his horns because
They are worth five galleons an ounce…♪”
The baby was bouncing and clapping and smiling, and every once in while she would grab Remus’ ears and try to bite his nose. From the kitchen where she was fussing with the bottle, Tonks felt her heart melt a little bit.
As she tested the bottle on the inside of her arm, she heard him singing what appeared to be his grandmother’s recipe for wheaten bread, still to the tune of the alphabet song.
“♪ Three cups of flour and a cup of lard
add to that bicarbonate soda…♪”
Tonks chuckled as she entered the room with the bottle. “She likes you. You’re doing really well, love.”
“Oh, we’re great friends, aren’t we, Katie Bear?” The baby squealed and reached for her bottle. “Can I feed her?”
The baby, snuggled in the crook of Remus’ arm, stared up past her bottle and into his eyes with a look of pure trust. He found it mesmerizing, looking into those big blue eyes that seemed to want nothing more than to study his face. After a few minutes, her eyelids started to droop, and then she was asleep in his arms. He looked up at Tonks and whispered, “She’s beautiful.” Tonks nodded. “She smells amazing,” he added. Tonks just smiled and reached over to pick her up. She took her to the little bedroom she had made up, and watched her sleep for a few minutes. Then she went back to the sitting room, and settled herself next to Remus again.
“You’re good with kids, Nymphadora.”
“I told you. It’s funny, really. I’m the clumsiest girl in the world, but I become totally self-possessed when I’m holding a baby. I know why, too. Usually I’m thinking about a million things at once, and not watching where I’m going. But the minute you give me a baby, that becomes my entire focus.”
“I should have guessed,” Remus added, placing his hand on her knee. “There is no way Hermione, of all people, would have left the baby with you if you weren’t wonderful with kids.” He looked over at her smiling face, and it hit him.
Tonks wanted children.
Oh Merlin, how could they have been together this long and not had this discussion? There was no way they could have kids. There had been a few cases of werewolves having children safely with humans, but mating with a metamorph was unprecedented. He would never pass his curse on to a baby, but did he have the right to stop Nymphadora from being a mother? He loved her. He wanted her to have everything. Sadly, he realized what he had to do.
He felt his heart begin to beat wildly in his chest, and there were tears welling in his eyes. He had been so stupid. He had thought he would have her forever. But this was it. If she wanted children, he would have to give her up so she could find a man who could be a proper father. His breathing grew ragged, and Tonks looked up at him.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
“Do you want children?” he blurted out.
Tonks blanched. Then she made a quick recovery and said “Easy there, Tiger – you haven’t even asked me to move in with you yet.”
He shook his head in confusion. “But Tonks, you’ve been living here for two years !” She laughed, a little uncomfortably. “Yeah, but a girl still likes to be asked. Don’t you think it’s foolish that I still have a flat in London?”
“Of course I do. But…but you didn’t answer my question.”
Tonks squared her shoulders so she could look at him directly. “Yes. I want children. Don’t you?”
He felt his heart begin to sink, and could hear blood pounding in his ears. “Oh, Nymphadora, there is nothing I want more, but it just can’t be. We can’t have children together, safely. I would never risk that for a child. I’m so sorry.” He looked at the ceiling and blinked hard to stop the tears from falling.
“Lupin, look at me. Did I say I wanted to be pregnant? No. I don’t. It’s murder on the hips, from what I hear.” Remus looked into her eyes. She flushed and eyed him shyly before she continued, softly. “I...I always kind of thought we’d adopt a baby. Charlie Weasley told me that there are orphanages in Romania for both Muggle and Wizard babies who need good homes. Haven’t you always said you wished you’d been able to raise Harry? This would be a chance to give another little one a better life. I know we’d be good at it. I have a feeling about us. Hell, I’d go to Romania tomorrow if I thought you wanted to.”
Remus couldn’t believe she had been thinking this far into their future. He had never dreamed there would be a woman on earth who would want to raise children with him. Then and there he made a decision that had been torturing him for ages. He reached into his pocket and pulled out something small. Taking a shaky breath, he got down from the sofa and knelt before her. Tonks let out a little squeal as he spoke.
“If I’m going to make you a mother, it’s only fitting that I make an honest woman of you first." He looked into those pretty dark eyes and found the strenth to continue. "Will you marry me, Nymphadora?”
“YES!” she screeched. Lupin put his finger to her lips. “Shhhh Tonks – you’re going to wake the baby.”
As he placed the little diamond ring on her finger, she whispered “Yes, yes, yes…” over and over again, and then kissed him blissfully.
Months later, on the train to Romania, Mrs. Lupin was trying her best to think of names for the three week old boy who was about to become theirs. Her husband was little help in the matter.
“We probably shouldn’t use Sirius or James, since Harry may want those when he has children,” Remus reasoned. “What about Albus? I’d be thrilled to name a baby for Dumbledore,” he added.
Tonks smirked. “I have it on pretty good authority that Dumbledore wouldn’t be happy about that.”
“Alright then, Missus – what are your thoughts?”
“Well, what about Edward for my Dad and Brian for yours?”
Remus nodded. “Brian was one of Dumbledore’s middle names, too. I like it. Edward Brian Lupin.”
“And we’ll call him Teddy.”
“Teddy Lupin. That I really like.” The train rolled on for another few moments before Tonks spoke again.
“I’ve been wondering, Mr. Lupin. Just how long did you wander around with that ring in your pocket, anyway?” She glanced at her left hand and gave him an encouraging pat on the arm.
“Oh – a few months, I suppose.”
“A few months!!! What was stopping you?!”
Remus shrugged. “I wanted to be sure you’d say yes.”
“Are you kidding? I would have said yes the first time I laid eyes on you!”
He laughed out loud. “Oh really? The first time you saw me. At the Burrow. When you thought I was a porn star?”
Tonks looked into the warm grey eyes that had been making her weak since she first encountered them. She thought of the man whose kindness and bravery made her the proudest wife in the world. She beamed at him.
“I think so. Yes.” She caught him in a quick embrace and nibbled on his lower lip. “Absolutely.” Her neck tingled as the train steamed ahead towards their destiny.
DONE!! Wow, it’s amazing to have that finished. Please leave a review and let me know what you think of the story. Thank you for your support!!!! Paloma