Chapter 17 : Nymphadora Tonks: For His Future
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Nymphadora Tonks quietly hummed as she rocked Teddy. Tranquil and content, he was nursing in his sleep. His chocolate-brown lashes curled against his cheek. The corners of his lips were drawn up in a satisfied smile. With her free hand, she ran her fingers over his dark brown hair that was barely showing a hint of curl.
Looking up from the book he was reading, Remus Lupin turned to his wife and asked, “Is he finished?”
With a smile, Tonks answered, “I think so, but let’s give him a minute more. He just looks so happy. I hate to disturb him.”
Nodding, Lupin settled back in his seat and took in the sight. Flickering light from the dying fire danced over Tonks and Teddy as they were nestled in the rocking chair. Conflict might rage around them; but in their modest house, the family was at peace. Stifling a laugh, he smiled as Tonks’ head began to nod. Having Teddy was the most incredible event of his life, nevertheless the lack of sleep was taking its toll on both parents. He stood and carefully took the boy out of his mother’s arms. Carrying the infant to his crib, he placed Teddy on his back before spreading the robin’s egg blue blanket across him.
Tonks felt an overwhelming surge of love for her husband as she watched his tender care of their son. Straightening her blouse, she crossed the room and wrapped her arms around his waist before laying her head on his chest, “Can you believe he’s ours?”
Shaking his head, he led his wife back to the threadbare couch. Looking into her eyes, he caressed her cheek.
Tonks felt her pulse quicken as their lips met, and she ran her hands across Remus’ back. Instantly, her body was at war with itself - overwhelming fatigue battling the need for intimacy with her husband. She ran her fingers through his hair and drew him closer to her.
A wisp of smoke shot through the roof and materialized into a foggy badger before their eyes. George Weasley’s voice filled the room, “Harry’s come back to Hogwarts. The battle is beginning now!”
Tonks’ eyes locked on Remus’ face - his eyes filled with determination as he watched the patronus fade away. Seeming to make his mind up at once, he reached down and gently stroked her cheek; this time the touch was laced with the sadness of an unspoken goodbye.
“I have to go,” Remus slowly got to his feet and hesitantly crossed the room and stood next to the crib. His brow furrowed with grief as he stroked his sleeping son’s hair.
Tonks reached out and clutched at his hand, “Please don’t leave us.”
“Harry needs me now,” his gray eyes burned with intensity. He knelt next to the crib, “If our world is ever to be sane again....” Standing again, he wrapped his wife in his arms one last time. He lowered his head and buried his face in her hair. He took a deep breath and steeled himself for the coming moments. Tenderly, he tipped her face up to meet his as he placed his lips on hers.
Tears filled Tonks’ eyes as she felt the desperation in his touch, “Don’t you dare say goodbye to me. You’ll come back to us. Do you hear me?” Her voice rose as she refused to let the tears fall.
“I have to go. Whatever I do, remember I did it for his future,” he cradled her face in his hands as he gently placed a final kiss in her hair. “Take care of him,” he ran through the room and threw the door open.
Before the door closed completely, Tonks saw him begin to turn. When he disappeared, her knees buckled underneath her. She knelt staring at the door, willing him to reappear. She could picture him striding back through, a trace of laughter in the lines that crossed his face. He’d explain that it was a mistake. The twins were poking a bit of fun at them.
She’d heard the optimism in George’s voice - the battle they’d all been waiting for had come at last. She and Remus had discussed this moment at length. He’d join in the fight, and she’d stay behind with Teddy - never mentioning the necessity for one parent to stay behind, those words would be too painful.
The minutes passed like hours.
When Remus left, a piece of Tonks - her heart - had gone with him. She couldn’t bear not knowing how the battle was going. Visions of familiar faces came unbidden to her mind. Had they lost anyone yet? She refused to dwell on that last word, although she knew it was true. In a battle, warriors were lost. Which of her friends, her family, wouldn’t be coming home tonight? Her eyes dropped to the floor and she took a deep breath. Slowly, she stood - surprised to find her legs asleep. She’d obviously been frozen for longer than she’d thought. With that realization, her heart sped. Had she waited too long?
Her eyes fell on Teddy, her sweetly sleeping son. His now-pale brown eyelashes kissed his fair cheeks. Gently, she took his tiny hand in hers and brought it to her lips. As she studied his perfect face, she knew what she had to do. He deserved so much more than this....
He deserved a future where he wasn’t judged by the purity of his blood.
He deserved a future where he wasn’t forced to hide because of who his father had been.
He deserved a future.
As she gathered his things together - his favorite blanket, the small white stuffed owl Ginny had sent him - she placed them carefully in a suitcase. She realized what she was about to give up, spending his future with him. She’d never be there to kiss his knee when he fell or wrap her arms around him when he was frightened in the middle of the night. She cast her eyes back on him. He’d have to understand - someday. Someone would be there to tell him the story....the story of what his parents had given up to ensure his future. As she clicked the locks on the suitcase closed, she noticed something on their bedside table. With trembling hands, she reached out and grasped the picture of Remus with his arms wrapped around her waist. He looked younger than she’d ever seen him. He was so happy on their wedding day. Yes, that was the vision of his father she wanted Teddy to remember. Opening the suitcase, she placed the picture on top.
Tonks reached down and carefully picked Teddy up. For an instant, she hesitated. Should she write him a note? Shaking her head, she thought better of it. Time was of the essence, and what would she say? Hopefully, her actions would speak for her. When he was older, he’d understand that she never wanted to miss her chance at knowing him, but she had given her life for his future.
Taking one last look around the room, she pointed her wand at the candle, still burning brightly, “Nox.” Before the smoke faded completely into the air, she’d stepped from the front door - her son in her arms - ready to meet her future.