Tonks grinned at the chaos. Platform Nine and Three Quarters was filled with just as many owls, cats, trolleys, anxious parents, and shouting children as it had ever been. But this time, she wouldn't be boarding the Hogwarts Express—not as a student, and not even as an Auror. This time, she would be one of the ones waving as the train pulled away.
"I'm not enough of a grown-up to be seeing my son off to Hogwarts," she muttered.
Remus only laughed and gave her hand a quick squeeze.
She smiled back, happy to note that his grip was steady and his colour was good, even though it was only three days before the full moon.
Teddy, on the other hand, was practically airborne with excitement, bouncing on his toes behind the heavy trolley he'd insisted on pushing himself. His Gran had given him the shiny new trunk, and Harry had given him the little brown owl in its sturdy cage that was peering curiously around at the bustling confusion.
"I'm thinking Gryffindor, this morning," Teddy announced, picking up the train of thought that had been occupying him for more days than Tonks cared to count. "I feel like a Gryffindor today." He frowned, stealing a sideways glance at his grandmother. "But Gran tells such good stories about all the plots and schemes in Slytherin—"
"And Hufflepuff has the best parties," Tonks put in firmly. "Being so close to the kitchens, and all."
"Besides, the Hat may surprise you," said Remus with a rather faraway look in his eye. He shook himself a little and grinned down at his son. "I wouldn't rule out Ravenclaw, either. My mother was a Ravenclaw, you know."
"Teddy!" called a voice over the noise of the throng. Tonks turned and saw Harry making his way through the crowd, with Al perched on his shoulders and James tugging at his hand. Ginny was right behind them with baby Lily.
"Wotcher, Chief," said Tonks, because she liked to watch Harry roll his eyes when she called him that. She had turned down her own chance at Head Auror, partly because she could see the political value of putting the Boy Who Lived in charge of the Auror Division—but mostly because the mere thought of spending her days on that much paperwork made her head ache.
"You came!" Teddy bounced again, grinning up at his godfather. "Do you think I'll be in Gryffindor, like you and Ginny and Ron and Hermione were?"
Harry laughed, giving Teddy a manly clap on the back. "Of course we came—you should have a proper send-off for your first trip to Hogwarts. And I think you'll end up wherever you belong, and you'll make friends for life no matter what House you are in."
The train whistled, then, and Remus went with Teddy to load his trunk and owl cage on board.
"I can't believe he's already eleven," said Ginny, shaking her head. "I swear it was only weeks ago he was Al's size."
Tonks looked a little wistfully at Al, still perched on Harry's shoulders, and James, who was now clinging to Ginny's hand. "He did grow up awfully fast." She laughed. "I'm afraid he's even outgrown a hug for his mum, in public, anyway."
But then the sound of pounding feet made her look up, and Teddy launched himself at her, after all. "Bye, Mum," he said, squeezing the breath right out of her. "Bye, Gran."
He hugged Remus, too, but when he stepped away, the eyes under the mop of violently orange hair were worried. "Dad?" His brows drew together in a way that was so like his father, it made Tonks catch her breath. "Will you send an owl Saturday morning, first thing? Just so I know you're all right?"
"Not first thing, Teddy," Tonks temporised. "Let Dad have his nap, and he'll write you at suppertime. Or I could send you an owl Saturday morning."
Remus caught her hand and squeezed it again. "It's all right, Dora—we can't have Teddy spending his first Hogwarts weekend fretting, instead of having fun with his new friends." He ruffled Teddy's hair. "I will write first thing. But it'll be a short letter, mind you."
"All right." Teddy looked relieved, but then the whistle blew again, and he looked over his shoulder at the children streaming onto the train. "I'd better go!"
With a dash, he was across the platform and on the train. Then he was just one of a multitude of heads and arms waving out the window. The train began to puff slowly out of the station, picking up speed as it went.
Tonks waved as hard as she could until the Hogwarts Express rounded a curve and disappeared from sight.
The mob on the platform was much more subdued, now. Not a few people were dabbing at their eyes with handkerchiefs. Harry led the way toward the barrier and home, sons in tow. Mum had fallen into step with Ginny.
Tonks reached out for Remus's hand again. "Home is going to feel awfully odd without Teddy."
Remus slid his hand out of hers and put his arm around her waist instead, pulling her close. "We've given our son a good start." He smiled down at her. "Now it's time to let him learn who he wants to be. Besides—"
There was an odd light in his eyes.
"Hmm?" Tonks nudged him with her elbow.
"You and I never had much chance to be two," he said slowly, "before we were three. We may have a little learning to do, ourselves."
Tonks smiled, leaning into her husband's solid, familiar warmth. "I'm game if you are."
. * fin * .