Note: Hello everybody! This is Without a Trace, the third story in the Blood 'ficverse, set just after the events of Lies and Letters, however as with Lies and Letters it can stand alone. All you need to know is that Remus and Tonks survived the final battle, Remus is teaching at Hogwards and Tonks is Head of Aurors. Orion Lynch and Chester Burton may well appear in this fic as they did with the previous two – Orion essentially being to Teddy what Draco was to Harry and Chester being Teddy's best friend. Thanks in advance to anybody who leaves me reviews, I very much appreciate your time and comments. I know I have not completed Lies and Letters yet, but this idea grabbed me and I wanted to write it down! I will be completing Lies and Letter soon enough, and this fic does not contain any spoilers for it! So there you have it! Time to begin…
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, J K Rowling does.
1: A Less Than Perfect Christmas
Night had fallen, shrouding the living room of the Lupin household in darkness that was broken only by the soft flicker of lamplight beside the single occupied armchair. The whole house was quiet and the peaceful atmosphere was something that Remus Lupin had not had the pleasure of experiencing for some time. He smiled at the sound of nothing at all, before reaching to retrieve a large black leather bound book from the coffee table before him. As he glanced at the neat gold letters upon the cover that comprised the title: Olde and Forgotten Bewitchments and Charmes, the silence was disturbed by a series of soft bumps coming from the stairs. Remus opened the book and glanced down at the message carefully written by hand under the printed title.
Happy Christmas, Dad! This books is awesome, it has loads of really old spells people have forgotten about. You'll have to teach me some of them when we go back to Hogwarts, then I can shock Chester at Duelling Club! Love from Teddy x
Remus raised an eyebrow at the notion that his son expected him to teach him to bewitch his fellow students, before turning the page and glancing down at the list of contents. Though it had been a full week since he had received this gift he had been so busy that he had not had time to sit and look at it properly. Why they called it the Christmas Holiday, Remus could not for the life of him imagine. He was about to turn the page again when the slow rhythmic bumping sound from the stairs out in the hallways ended abruptly, and there came an alarmingly loud crash, followed by a startled:
Remus closed the book with a snap, dropped it to the floor beside his chair, and pulled himself to his feet before hurrying out into the hallway. There he was met with the sight of a large trunk lying open upon its side, clothes, books, parchment, quills, and a shattered glass bottle that was seeping bright blue ink out onto the recently cleaned cream carpet. In the middle of the destruction a boy with bright turquoise coloured hair lay sprawled, looking forlornly up at the wizard who visibly grimaced.
"I tripped." The boy mumbled, cheeks flushed pink in embarrassment.
Remus' eyes came to rest upon the bright stein blooming upon the carpet with a small sigh. He'd told his wife that cream was a bad colour, he recalled with a sigh. It showed the dirt…
"Up you get," he said, offering his son a hand before pulling him to his feet. "Any life threatening injuries?"
"I don't think so," Teddy told him, rolling up a sleeve and examining a bruise that was beginning to blossom upon his elbow. "Just a bump or two."
Remus reached into his pocket and drew out his wand, preparing to clear up the mess. A frown creased his brow as he glanced at his son's feet.
"And what lesson have we learnt from our near-fatal tumble, Theodore?" he asked dryly as Teddy rubbed his elbow with a frown of his own.
"That Mum should've been more careful with which genes she chose to pass on to me?" he guessed, causing his father to snigger.
"No," Remus said, raising his wand. "The lesson is that it is terribly foolish to carry heavy trunks down staircases when we do not bother to tie our shoelaces!" He gave his wand a flick and Teddy stumbled slightly as his shoelaces suddenly pulled themselves tight before tying themselves together in two neat, secure knots.
"Yeah…sorry Dad," the boy mumbled, crouching down and beginning to gather his belongings together again.
"You can't blame your own stupidity on genetics, Teddy, it's unfair on your mother," Remus told him, amused as he caused the trunk to right itself and began to levitate objects back inside.
"How can it be unfair on her when she isn't even here to think it's unfair?" Teddy asked, and his tone was suddenly much darker than it had been before.
As a pile of books finished stacking themselves neatly into one corner of the trunk Remus shot his son a warning look.
"She'll be home within the hour, Teddy." He reasoned, but Teddy merely shrugged.
"Yeah, she'll walk in the door just in time for me to say goodnight and go to bed! It's been the same for the whole holiday, in fact it's been worse, she didn't come home at all the other night…"
"…It's like being a single parent family or something! It's the Christmas holidays for Merlin's sake, this was my last day at home!"
"I know you're upset Teddy, but there isn't much she can do about it. I've taken you to watch Quidditch, we've been to Harry's, we've not had such a bad time, have we?"
"Yeah but I see you all the time!" Teddy complained, dumping his belongings into the trunk with much more force than was necessary. When his father appeared to have nothing to say to this, the boy immediately felt regretful. He straightened up to find his father running a hand through his greying hair as if he were terribly tired. "Sorry Dad, I didn't mean…I mean…we had a great time and everything but it's just not the same without Mum, 'cos I only really get to see her during the holidays…whereas I'll see you practically every day when we're back at Hogwarts."
"I know," his father assured him quietly, giving his wand one last wide sweeping motion causing the remaining items to fly into the trunk, the lid closing with a click. "I know this hasn't been the perfect Christmas, but I'm sure we'll make up for it during the summer. We'll go abroad or something…"
"Really?!" Teddy's heart gave a leap at the prospect of a proper summer holiday, something that he had experienced only rarely, again because of his mother's time consuming job as Head of the Auror Department.
"I'm sure we can work something out." Remus told him, though he did not sound too certain. "If all else fails we can pack you off to France with Bill and family, I'm sure they would take you."
At such a promise Teddy's mood instantly brightened, though as he heard the distinct crack of apparation outside as his mother arrived home from work, he couldn't help but find it surprising that Tonks was working such long hours during the festive season, and he told his father so.
"What's going on, anyway?" he asked as Remus cleaned the stain from the carpet with a muttered scourgify. "Anyone would think Voldemort was back again or something!"
His father scowled at this rather tactless comment as he went to open the door.
"I'm just saying!" Teddy protested, folding his arms, his mood back with vengeance. "You said it yourself the other night, nobody's had to work such long hours since the War!"
"I don't know what's going on, Teddy." Remus told him frankly as he pulled the door open.
"Yes you do!" Teddy cried in frustration, but had no opportunity to argue any further for his mother had just stumbled over the threshold, scarlet Auror robes in disarray and dark circles under her eyes. As she practically fell into her husband's arms, muttering a long series of incoherent complaints into his jumper, Teddy watched his father smile as he said:
"I'll run you a bath, shall I?"
"Please," Tonks agreed, also smiling through her fatigue. "It's like being newly married again!" she commented brightly as he let go of her and headed towards the stairs. "Your answer to everything back then was a hot bath!"
"Actually I think you'll find you suggested it more often than I did. Besides, it's good for sore muscles."
Tonks' eyebrow rose suggestively as she corrected:
"No, you're good for sore muscles!"
Teddy, appalled, opened his mouth to remind her that he was in fact stood just in front of her, but his father spoke before he could get the chance.
"But a bath is equally as good." Remus paused at the bottom of the stairs as Tonks traipsed over to hang her cloak up upon it's vacant hook. Whilst Teddy strained to push his trunk up against the wall, the boy could have sworn he heard his father say in an undertone: ten minutes, causing Tonks to snigger. The boy rolled his eyes in exasperation as his father began to climb the stairs and his mother turned round to face him, positively grinning.
"Hey Teddy!" she greeted, holding her arms out wide. "Where's my hug?!"
Teddy hurried over and obligingly threw his arms around her.
"So did you and Dad have fun today?" she asked him when they let go of one another and she led the way into the kitchen.
"Yeah, we went to see the 'Wasps play."
"Did they win?"
"Yeah, by a mile."
"Cool! You want hot chocolate? We could steal Dad's stash of marshmallows."
As Teddy nodded he watched her grab a pair of mugs from the cupboard, pausing before bellowing:
"Remus?! D'you want some hot chocolate?!"
At the sound of her husband's muffled response from the bathroom upstairs, she shrugged and grabbed a third mug anyway before setting about making the drinks.
"We went to Harry's, he was still at work but Ginny let me try out his new broom." Teddy continued, pulling open another cupboard and extracting the bag of marshmallows. "It was the best broom ever! It was so fast!"
"Really? Is it the brand new one that came out just before Christmas?"
"Yep! It's really cool!"
Tonks grinned as they heard Remus' footsteps as he descended the stairs.
"Typical Harry, that is!" she declared, reaching for the marshmallows and dropping one in each mug. "He'd have a new broom every week if Ginny would let him!"
"It was Christmas, Dora." Remus reminded her, having caught the end of the conversation as he entered the room. "Besides, you're just as bad! Don't pretend even half of those shoes in the closet belong to anybody other than yourself!"
Tonks swatted him on the arm before handing over a mug, before handing a second to Teddy. As they began to bicker about the size of her shoe collection, which Teddy had to admit was rather on the large side, they moved to sit around the table upon which sat Remus' discarded Evening Prophet. Teddy looked to glance at the headlines, only for Tonks to snatch the paper up, almost spilling her hot chocolate in her haste to do so.
"You read this?" she asked Remus, and at his nod she said: "Don't leave it lying around then!"
Teddy frowned at such an instruction that was usually reserved for him, as she marched over and deposited the paper into the bin. The boy could not recall his mother making such demands to his father, on the rare occasion that he had been the one to leave something lying about, without saying please or phrasing them as more of a request. Could you wash those cups up, love? Could you move those books from the table? Please don't leave that out, I'll only trip over it. He watched his father take a seat opposite him and wondered if he was at all disgruntled by how she had spoken to him, but his expression hinted at remorse rather than irritation. In fact, Teddy mused, Remus looked far too guilty for one who had merely forgotten to discard a newspaper. It was, the boy decided, downright strange.
They sat drinking their hot chocolate and Tonks insisted upon hearing a blow by blow account of the Quidditch match that the other two had watched that afternoon. Teddy found himself forced to give an account alone, for Remus claimed he did not remember what the final score had been. Teddy was sure that he had not paid the game any real attention at all, for Remus had never much been interested in Quidditch. His interest extended as far as to attend Gryffindor's matches for the benefit of his son who was a beater on the team. On such occasions he was enthusiastic enough for half of the Gryffindor students put together, but when goaded into taking Teddy to watch professional matches Teddy discovered that he had about as much enthusiasm for Quidditch as Orion Lynch had for werewolves.
"What did you do today, Mum?" Teddy asked some while later once he had finished telling his mother about the 'Wasps' victory.
Tonks yawned widely before shrugging.
"All the usual boring stuff." She told him with a smile.
"Did you arrest anybody?"
"Just the one."
"How? Did you ambush him or something cool like that?"
"Nah, afraid not," Tonks chuckled, before yawning again. "Spent most of the day chasing the crazy bastard halfway across Wales…"
"Sorry, but he had us traipsing halfway through a swamp, it was a nightmare, filthy! Speaking of which, I think I'll go get that bath." And with that Tonks rose to her feet and headed towards the hallway, Teddy frowning as she went.
"What exactly is Mum doing at work at the moment, Dad?" he asked, not for the first time that day. To his irritation Remus merely shrugged.
"Chasing dark wizards around Wales, it seems."
"Yeah, but I mean what is she really doing? Like who is she trying to catch?"
Remus rose to his feet, his expression unreadable.
"Probably the same dark wizard she was chasing around Wales." He mused unhelpfully, smiling at his son's clear irritation. "Now, we've got to be up early in the morning! So I think you better head off to bed."
Teddy could tell that he would not be getting any answers from either of his parents that night, and so he obediently headed off to bed, promising himself that he would try and ask his mother again in the morning when she took him to King's Cross station so that he could return to Hogwarts. It was determined to find out what had caused her to miss so much of his Christmas holiday.
What Teddy did not realise was after Tonks had come to kiss him goodnight some half an hour later, wrapped in her fluffy pink dressing gown and smelling of soaps and perfumes, he had missed out on his final opportunity to ask her all of his burning questions.
Nor did he realise that her whispered Night Teddy love would be the last he would hear from her for a very long while.