The sheets were clean and soft. She'd done a stellar job on the laundry. Tonks snuggled closer to Remus, smiling as she remembered the advice Healer Wells had given in therapy. Even if you can only get one thing done in any given day, this is a step in the right direction.
"I love your smile," said Remus. His eyes were half-closed, his voice raspy with weariness. When she kissed his bicep and then scooted up to feather kisses across his face, he said, "Aren't you tired too?"
She was, although hers was a different sort of fatigue. Tonks hadn't walked numerous kilometres in order to avoid Ministry spells cast to detect and track Apparation. She had trouble sleeping. It wasn't due to Teddy. At five weeks, he went three hours between feedings. The problem was her.
It was hard to fall asleep, and when she did, she would often awake, overwhelmed by fear. In her nightmares, cruel laughter was followed by a blinding flash of green. When she awoke, panicked that Bellatrix was in the room, Tonks had to reassure herself that Teddy and Remus were sleeping peacefully before could she try to drift back to sleep.
"Darling, I think our son is about to wake up and demand food."
Tonks kissed Remus firmly on the lips. "Really? Why?"
He grinned in a way that revealed the boyish Marauder inside the man. "There's a puddle of milk on my chest."
She looked down and laughed—something she hadn't done in a long time. It felt good. Tonks grabbed a cloth off the bedside table to mop up the droplets. "I don't mind if you don't mind," she said, waggling her eyebrows.
Before she could kiss him again, the baby cried.
Remus huffed in amusement. "I'll get him."
Why? Are you afraid I'll trip and drop Teddy on his head? Tonks bit her tongue to keep from speaking aloud. It was normal for new mothers to be defensive about their parenting skills, but she didn't have the right to lash out at Remus. He was only trying to help. She had to remember that. Offers of assistance didn't mean family and friends thought she was incompetent. Her husband wasn't judging her. He loved her.
Remus' motions while changing the baby's nappy were smooth and assured. "Turquoise hair again today. I'm not sure that's the best look for you, son."
Tonks smiled when Teddy gave a tetchy cry. She knew it was a coincidence, but she wouldn't be surprised if her little Metamorphmagus grew up loving bright hair colour as much as she did. There was something exhilarating about being able to morph every colour of the rainbow and some shades that didn't exist in nature. It was more than wielding magic. It felt like being magic.
She adjusted the pillows, reaching eagerly for the baby Remus placed into her arms. His downy hair was adorable, sticking up vivid and unruly. Teddy's blue eyes were closed, but his mouth was open. It was a joy to watch him latch on to her nipple. To feel her milk let down.
Remus lay close beside them. He rubbed a fingertip over the tiny hand whose fingers splayed against a nurturing breast. "You get to borrow, but don't forget who those really belong to."
"Me?" said Tonks, arching an eyebrow.
Her husband's grin had a wolfish edge. "We're married. What's yours is mine and vice versa."
Remus lifted hand to stroke her face with the backs of his fingers. "You're starting to feel better, aren't you?"
All at once, tears pricked her eyes. "I am, but when you're not home, I still have to call Mum when I want to take Teddy downstairs." She blinked, trying to stop from becoming an emotional mess. "I tell myself I won't trip and fall, but you know how clumsy I can be. What if I—"
"You won't hurt the baby." Remus brushed away the tear that rolled down her cheek.
Tonks took a steadying breath. "Hopefully one day soon I'll get that through my thick skull." She made a face. "Or else I'll have to slide down the steps on my arse when Mum takes up mah-jongg again."
Remus chuckled. "If you do I'll take a picture."
"Oh, no, you won't!" She looked down in surprise when Teddy pulled away and started to fret. "What's wrong?"
"I think he's protesting that the milk flow slowed down."
Remus' patient voice soothed Tonks better than a Calming Draught. She brought her son back to the breast. "I forgot milk ejects several times during a feed," she said, caressing a plump little arm. "But aren't babies supposed to know this stuff instinctively?"
"Teddy's like us, learning on the job." Remus kissed her cheek, then the baby's. "I think we're all doing brilliantly."
He really believes that, Tonks thought, and when I'm with him, I believe it.
Too bad she and Teddy couldn't be with Remus twenty-four/seven, but there was a little thing called a war going on.
After Teddy was nursed and burped, Remus took a turn at holding the baby. The infant returned their smiling looks with a solemn gaze.
Tonks was reminded of her baby pictures. Dad had been so proud of her "strong grip" that he'd made Mum take numerous shots of his infant daughter's hand wrapped around his finger. She glanced at Remus. He was every bit as proud of his son as her father had been. She slipped off the bed.
"Where are you going?"
"To get the camera." It was on the top of the chest of drawers. She picked it up and took a picture of tiny fingers clutching a large one. "You're such a good Daddy."
"I've had good fathers to emulate. Yours and mine."
Tonks focused on the baby's face and gasped. "He's smiling! Remus, Teddy's smiling!" She took the photograph of a wide, toothless, gorgeous smile and hastily put the camera aside. In seconds she was clambering onto the bed.
"Our baby's first smile! Wasn't it beautiful?" she said, giving Remus a smacking kiss on the cheek before brushing a kiss across silky baby hair.
"Of course it was," said Remus. "Teddy has your smile."
"And your ears," Tonks said. "Thank you."
"For giving Teddy my ears? You're welcome, although I think they're rather ordinary and average-sized."
Damn hormones, or whatever caused postnatal depression. She was getting weepy again! "No. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for not letting anything keep you from coming back to me and Teddy—not even yourself."
"I always knew my place was at your side," said Remus. "I only needed Harry to remind me."
"I'll always be glad that he did."
"Me too." Remus looked down and smiled. "Teddy's asleep. Do you want to carry him to his cot?"
She shook her head. It was enough that he offered. At a time when she doubted everyone and everything—herself most of all—Tonks clung to Remus' trust in her abilities. The moment his arms were free, she clung to his body, his lips, and his love.
In the middle of the night, Tonks jolted awake, shaking in reaction to yet another nightmare. This time, instead of striking at night, Bellatrix had sent her Patronus flying into the house during the day. The giant raven had alighted on the rail of Teddy's cot.
First, I dispose of the werewolf. Then I come for you and the werepup. Be ready, wittle Tonksie!
Tonks sat up, hugging her knees to her chest. She took long, slow breaths, grimly determined not to cry. That bitch had caused enough tears.
"Nymphadora?" Remus sounded half-asleep.
Not wanting to fully wake him, Tonks laid back down. "My place is at your side," she whispered. Tears burned at the back of her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. Her dream of Bellatrix wasn't real. It was only a reminder. "And I'm glad." She was happy to be his wife, and proud to fight by his side if need be, to protect their family, their son.
"Me, too," Remus murmured. He reached for her hand.
Tonks listened to his breathing deepen. Gradually, the comforting warmth of their entwined fingers lulled her to sleep.
A/N: According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, (and a bunch of other websites!) around 1 in 10 women has postnatal depression after having a baby. There's been a lot of debate over whether Tonks was irresponsible to leave her six-week-old baby to rush to the castle to find Remus, (It was quite clear that Remus expected her to stay with Teddy) but her anxiety struck me as symptomatic, (there are different degrees of depression, and not every mum has every symptom or even the same symptoms to the same degree) and I began to wonder... Special Thanks to MollyCoddles for being a fab sounding board, and whose mention of Disney Movies brought to mind the song from Dumbo that I used for the title.