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Chapter 1 : Too Old
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To my lovely friend, Nicole- my very own Tonks (especially after all the sugar). Merry Christmas!
December 1st, 1983
With another push, the box finally slid down the last two stairs and landed on the floor- with nothing seemingly broken inside. Ted Tonks sighed, picking up the box and carrying it over to where his wife, Andromeda, was struggling to make the tree stay still. The box was quickly deserted on the couch as Ted ran over to stable the tree before it fell on top of Andromeda. With a firm grip on the branches, his wife took the chance to look back at the box.
“Was that all there was?” she asked. Ted nodded- readjusting his grip on the branches as they threatened to slip. “Surely there was more up there,” Andromeda replied, though she wasn’t really speaking to anyone but herself and perhaps, the box. “We definitely had more last year. I’ll go look in the attic again, you must have missed some.” Ted hardly had a chance to reply before she’d disappeared upstairs and he was left with the tree.
“Dora!” He called, earning a mouthful of branches and tinsel left over from the year before. As a child, he’d always had fresh Christmas trees but after what he referred to as ‘The Christmas Tree Disaster of 1980’, he and Andromeda had agreed that a fake tree was much safer in their house. Though, they still had to watch the lights carefully, especially when their darling daughter, Nymphadora, was around. Ted had insisted that Nymphadora would learn not to use magic to ‘enhance’ the lights but Andromeda refused to lose the curtains for a second time.
“Wotcher Dad,” Nymphadora giggled, taking a seat on the couch while she watched her father try to support the tree and keep the branches out of his face at the same time.
“We’re almost ready for the decorating, are you ready to help?” he finally managed to ask, though it still came out a bit muffled by the tree.
Nymphadora shrugged her shoulders in response, “I don’t know, Dad,” She answered.
“Is this about the lights again? Because your mum and I told you that we knew it was an accident last time,” Ted smiled softly, “I’ll keep watch on the lights, and on your magic.”
“Dad, it’s not the lights.” She replied moodily, crossing her arms over her chest and glaring at Ted. “I just think I’m getting a little bit too old for this whole Christmas thing now, don’t you?” Ted’s grip on the tree loosened again, but he managed to catch it before it fell too far. “I’m almost eleven now and I’m going to Hogwarts next year. I’m not a little girl anymore,” At this, she stood up and turned sharply on her heel. Ted heard her bedroom door close before he’d had the chance to come to his senses.
“Where’s Nymphadora gone? Isn’t she helping with the tree?” Andromeda asked, dropping three boxes filled to the brim with decorations onto the couch before staring up after her daughter.
“Apparently, she’s ‘too old for this whole Christmas thing’ now,” Ted replied, chuckling slightly at the wide-eyed look which passed over his wife’s face.
“She’s only ten,” Andromeda whispered to herself, picking a few silver baubles out of one of the boxes and placing them delicately on the tree.
“She’ll change her mind, Andy,” Ted responded, placing his hand on her shoulder comfortingly. “You know that girl can’t resist the lure of presents. Just you wait until Christmas day, she’ll be down here before we even wake up.”
December 24th, 1983.
Sure enough, Nymphadora could not resist the temptation of the Christmas spirit. She hadn’t even made it to the 5th of December before she’d cracked and written up her list for Santa. She knew, of course, for she was not some fanciful child anymore, that Santa wasn’t real, but it was a tradition, and Christmas is always about tradition.
Her list didn’t differ from that of the last two or three years. She always asked for the same thing- lots of chocolate, lots of sweets, and lots of things to cause mischief with. The last one had become extremely important in the last year- it was now written clearly on the top of her list (and on the bottom, and several times in the middle) and underlined with the several of the thickest markers she could find.
She would be starting Hogwarts next year. Hogwarts was a big deal to her. It was where her parents had met- and back in her more girly-girl stage, that story had been one of her favourites. But now, she didn’t worry about dirt getting on her clothes (she never wore dresses anymore anyway) or if a tree was too high for her to climb- it was about having fun. Besides, she never would have been a princess anyway.
Her mother was the princess- she was beautiful, and she did all the sorts of things princesses did. She cooked, read books, mended clothes and cleaned. Nymphadora climbed trees, played with the boys in the street, rolled in the grass and refused to clean her bedroom. That was before. But now that she was growing up- practically an adult, she understood what the most important thing really was. Jokes.
It had started with a joke pulled on Robbie, a toad-like boy from down the road. It had been an accident, originally. She’d tripped on something while they were coming back from the lake- she did that often enough, but then the jar full of tadpoles that she’d been carrying went flying through the air, or at least the tadpoles did. Then they had hit Robbie right in the face as he’d turned to face her, probably to tease her about tripping again, like he always did.
They’d all laughed, except Robbie, but he hardly laughed at anything. One of the other boys, Cooper, had said that the tadpoles had landed on Robbie because they thought he was their mummy. Then, he had congratulated Nymphadora on her joke.
Since then, she’d played jokes on everyone she knew and even a couple of strangers. She’d quickly learnt not to play pranks on her mum, or even around her, unless she wanted to skip dinner and spend the entire night in her room alone. She knew it was a risk, asking for supplies, but she was not above holding the ‘Santa lie’ over her parents if it meant getting what she wanted.
The smell of gingerbread infiltrated Nymphadora’s senses. She couldn’t keep the grin off her face when Andromeda lifted them out of the oven and placed them on a rack to cool. Nymphadora moved to look at the cookies, and after looking at each of them, she made her selection. She went to pick the little man up but dropped him in surprise at her mother’s voice.
“Keep your hands off the cookies, Nymphadora,” she said sternly. “There won’t be any left tomorrow if you start eating them now.”
Nymphadora turned to face her mother and folded her arms across her chest- this routine usually worked on her dad, but her mum didn’t even glance at her.
“There’s three more batches mum. Why can’t I just have one?” She whined, pouting slightly in a hope that her mum would be distracted. Andromeda didn’t seem fazed by it at all.
“You know that you never just eat one,” she responded, moving the next batch of cookies onto the cooking tray one by one. “Now, are you going to help with this batch or not?”
Nymphadora sighed and moved back to the counter- she began to cut out the shapes of the men before passing them to her mum. If she were lucky enough, she could manage to eat a whole man before her mother placed her hand out for the next.
The last of the dough was rolled out, cut into shapes and placed on the tray. Nymphadora was confident that she had gotten away with her snacking along the way, at least she was until her mum turned to face her.
“It seems like this is quite a small batch compared to the first one, doesn’t it, Dora?” Andromeda asked, raising her eyebrows at her daughter who smiled sheepishly. “How many did you eat?” Nymphadora shrugged her shoulders at this. “How could you fit them in? We’ve only just had dinner.” Andromeda shook her head, a hint of a smile on her face. “Go on then, you little devil, go sit with your father.”
With a giggle, Nymphadora ran out of the kitchen- barely avoiding the handful of flour Andromeda threw at her hair. Once she was safely in the living room, she joined her dad by the tree.
“What have you been up to, you little munchkin?” Ted asked, wrapping his arms around Nymphadora’s waist. “Have you been eating all my gingerbread?” He reached up to brush some dough off the side of her face. “Did mummy exile you from the kitchen?” She laughed and nodded at this. “Whatever am I going to do with you?”
“Read me a Christmas story,” she exclaimed, plopping herself down on the couch and wrapping a blanket around herself. Then, once she was comfortable she patted the spot beside her where Ted joined her a moment later.
“What story do you want to hear?” He asked, waiting patiently as Nymphadora thought carefully through all the Christmas stories she knew.
“Your favourite,” She replied, with a big grin up at him which he couldn’t help but return.
“Alright then,” He accioed over his book and flipped to the first page, pausing long ago to look down at Nymphadora who was waiting patiently for him to start- a rare occurrence in itself. “Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.” Ted paused for another second, before he continued on.
He’d barely made it to the end of the first chapter when he noticed that Nymphadora was fast asleep. In fact, she’d probably been asleep for a while but he’d been so caught up in his reading that he hadn’t noticed. Books seemed to do that to him.
He contemplated how to get her to bed now. He knew what would ensue if he dared to wake her up- she’d be granted with a sudden, ridiculous amount of energy and he and Andromeda would spend the entire night trying to get her to calm down again. Similarly, he couldn’t leave her on the couch all night. They’d suffer in the morning for that. No, his only option was to carefully get her back upstairs without waking her.
“I don’t think I remember the last time she fell asleep so quickly and without a fight,” Andromeda whispered, coming out of the kitchen. There were signs of her baking on her- the flour in her hair from where she would have pushed it back and leftovers of icing remained on her hands.
“I don’t think she’s ever done this,” Ted replied with a chuckle, “Even as a little baby, you know how much trouble we had getting her to sleep.” Andromeda sighed softly and nodded.
“She’s not a little baby anymore,” Andromeda stated after a moment, “She’s going off to Hogwarts next year. Merlin, Ted, can you believe it?” She brushed away some of Nymphadora’s currently blonde hair. “It seems like yesterday that we were in Hogwarts.” Her small smile turned into a frown at this, but Ted did not miss this change. He leant over and kissed her on the forehead before carefully picking up Nymphadora.
December 25th 1983.
The morning sun had not yet illuminated her room, but Nymphadora was awake and out of bed. For a girl who rarely got up before ten every morning, this was a miracle. But it was Christmas Day, and miracles are allowed to happen. She made it to her parents’ room silently- but only because they had moved things out of her way long ago. The door creaked slightly as she pushed it open, but she had jumped on the bed before her parents would have had the chance to hear it.
“Wake up,” she giggled, jumping onto her dad first who groaned softly but eventually rolled out of bed. Then, she collapsed down next to her mum, “Mum, wake up! It’s Christmas!” Content that her parents were now awake, she bounded out of the room and down the stairs to the tree where her presents awaited.
“What are we opening first?” Andromeda asked, taking her place next to Nymphadora on the floor. Or at least as close to Nymphadora as she could get, as her daughter was absolutely surrounded by presents.
“This one!” Nymphadora exclaimed, picking one that was wrapped up in red paper that was covered in candy canes. She viciously tore the paper apart and then grinned at the chocolates that fell into her lap- she placed them beside her. This routine continued until there were no presents left to unwrap and she sat surrounded by chocolates and sweets, but instead of her ‘supplies’, she had clothes- dresses, to be exact, and books. Things that had been picked out by her mother in an attempt to regain her status as ‘Princess Nymphadora’. Well, she wasn’t going to fall for that one!
Her dad went off to make breakfast- pancakes on Christmas morning was another one of their traditions. Nymphadora began to move her presents into her room- her mum was adamant that they didn’t remain spread across the floor all day as otherwise Nymphadora would never move them. She’d almost finished the pile, though the one in her room now looked about ten times worse, when she heard a strange noise coming from her parents’ bedroom.
She tiptoed towards the door- careful not to make a sound. When she reached the door, she pushed it open enough to see in but not enough that it would begin to creak.
There on the bed sat Andromeda, facing away from the door and sat crouched over as if she was in terrible pain. Nymphadora made to move towards her, but then a sob escaped Andromeda’s lips. For as long as she could remember, Nymphadora could not recall her mother ever crying- out of happiness or laughter maybe, but never from sadness. This simple fact scared her more than anything. She moved back towards the hallway and made to turn away as she caught a glimpse of the object in her mother’s hand.
It was a photograph- long taken out of any sort of frame. It looked old and had clearly been folded over several times. From her place in the door, Nymphadora could just make out the photograph. It was of three figures, three girls. She knew immediately who they were- her mum’s sisters. The ones she never talked about. The ones nobody ever talked about in front of Andromeda, or even to Nymphadora. She knew nothing of these ‘aunts’ of hers- not even their names.
Having decided that she’d seen enough, she turned back to pick up the last of her presents but the floor beneath her creaked. Andromeda spun around to face her: her face fell but she quickly faked a smile. Nymphadora didn’t like when she did that.
“What’s wrong, Dora?” She asked, patting the spot next to her. She folded up the photograph again and placed it on her bedside table. “Do you like your presents?”
“Do you miss them?” Nymphadora whispered, motioning to the photograph with her head. The room was silent for a moment. She thought she was going to be in trouble- she was even bracing herself for that disappointed look to pass over her mum’s face. It was the same face she made whenever Nymphadora misbehaved.
“Yes, I do,” her mum whispered back, her voice catching on her words, “I miss them a lot. But I don’t need them anymore, I have you and your daddy.” There it was again. That fake smile.
“What are their names?” Nymphadora asked before she could stop herself.
“Bellatrix and Narcissa,” Andromeda answered, wiping a tear away from her eyes before she looked down at her daughter. “Should we go get some breakfast?” Nymphadora nodded, following Andromeda out of the room
“Mummy?” Andromeda turned around immediately, “Merry Christmas.” She smiled up at her mum and then wrapped her arms around her in a tight hug. They broke apart as the smell of pancakes wafted towards them.
“Come and get ‘em” Ted said with a grin, serving three pancakes onto Nymphadora’s plate before doing the same for himself and Andromeda. The three of them took their seats- happily chewing away at their pancakes. “Are you still too old for Christmas, Dora?”
“Maybe not,” she said softly, between bites. A moment later, a wicked smiled appeared on Nymphadora’s face- she placed down her pancake and then looked seriously between her mum and dad. “You know that I know Santa isn’t real, right?” she stated, before going back to her breakfast. Andromeda and Ted shared a look over her head- both shaking their heads as they finished off their pancakes.
Authors Note: So that there is my entry for patronus_charm’s Christmas challenge. My character was Tonks, and I thought about doing a Remus/Tonks Christmas story but then I thought I’d try something a little different. I suppose the story ended up being a bit about Ted and Andromeda too, but I really enjoyed writing child Tonks.
As I mentioned this is dedicated to my friend Nicole. So if you’re reading this Nicole, I hope you liked it. And also, a big thank you is due to Lululuna who beta’d this story for me ridiculously quickly. Finally, thank you to patronus_charm for making the challenge- I had a lot of fun writing this! Anyway, thank you all for reading!
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