A/N: I'm very sorry for my prolonged absence, guys. I've been doing NaNoWriMo, and am just on the verge of completing my first original novel!
This is the first of several Christmas/winter fics I have planned for this year, and I hope you enjoy it. Reviewers get Teddy or Victoire to cuddle.
It was November, 2000. The month had marked the beginning of a bitter winter, and in the middle of grumbling and complaining people of the wizarding community had suddenly remembered that there was only a month to go until Christmas. Everything around looked festive despite the darkness and frost, and people were happier and friendlier to each other knowing that the best time of year was coming. Yet for some parents, it was a time of stress and complication, especially for Fleur Weasley, whose six-month-old daughter Victoire was set to enjoy her first Christmas. Bill and Fleur both felt that no effort was to be spared for their little angel; her presents needed to be what she wanted, the house needed to be decorated enough to stimulate her, she needed her family around her. The only problem was, that family needed to be fed and possibly lodged, those presents and decorations needed to be bought, and...wait, was it Santa Claus, Father Christmas or Pere Noel?
With all this ahead of her, on top of looking after Victoire who would still only sleep for four hours at a time, Fleur was feeling the strain. She decided she needed a friend, and luckily Tonks was on the other end of the Floo.
"I am going crazy," she wailed. "I do not know how I can arrange this Christmas while I am looking after Victoire. I 'ave so many things to buy, and Bill thinks that I can go out and get them easily! He says that my life is so easy and so fun with 'er, 'e does not understand, it is the most annoying thing in the world! Shopping is so difficult with 'er, I 'ave not been shopping for fun since...since she was born!"
Tonks didn't entirely sympathise with the shopping thing, but she knew how her friend was feeling. Remus hadn't worked as much as Bill did when Teddy was a baby, but sometimes she had still felt tired, alone, bored and stressed all at once. Now, of course, she had a fairly normal sleep pattern, and watching Teddy find things out and develop his happy, curious personality was one of the most wonderful things she'd ever experienced.
Yet things weren't plain sailing yet, because it seemed that the moment Teddy turned two, he turned into a living whirlwind, causing chaos wherever he toddled. Tonks sometimes wondered if he hadn't learned to Apparate, because she'd turn her back on him for one second and find he'd gone off to the cupboard to tip cereal all over the floor, or to the front room to rip pages out of magazines, or to the kitchen where the stove was...The worst things, though, were the tantrums. Sometimes she could see them coming, other times he'd go from perfect, adorable serene state to KICKING AND SCREAMING in 0.5 seconds. She called in Remus if she could because he had a diplomacy that she never did, but he didn't really want to be the Riot Police all the time. She also had a sinking feeling that this wasn't going to stop any time soon.
However, the last advice Fleur needed was "Oh yeah, wait 'til she's two"
"I really need a little break," Fleur said, and sniffed. "Does that make me a bad mother?"
"No, of course not," Tonks reassured her. "You're still Fleur, even if you're now Mama as well, and you need time to yourself. Why don't you ask someone to babysit, like Ginny or Harry or Molly?"
"Ginny is too busy with the team, and Harry has enough babysitting to do, as you know! And I...I am worried to ask Molly. She is so...she is such a strong mother, that I am afraid she will...prejudice me..."
Tonks didn't know what made her do it. Perhaps it was tiredness, or hormones, or her good heart. Or maybe, she would conclude later, some kind of foresight.
"I've got tomorrow afternoon off. You could bring her here for a couple of hours and go out shopping."
Fleur's expression completely changed, and she looked more like her normal self. She gave her a huge smile.
"Oh, my dear Tonks, I would 'ug you, but I do not sink it is possible in the Floo. I will bring 'er after lunch, is at 2 o'clock OK?"
Tonks smiled back, though inside she sighed. "Yeah, that'll be fine."
The next day she woke up with a headache. And it wasn't the kind that went away with breakfast, either, as Remus found out when she snapped at him for turning on the wireless like he always did. He gave her a sympathetic look.
"It'll be alright. I imagine Fleur will make sure she's fed and changed before she comes over."
"I sincerely hope so. Though with Teddy around I'm not sure I could take care of a plant, let alone another baby..."
He leant forward and kissed her drooping lips. "It's just as well we're not planning another baby, then, eh?"
She was so stunned by this that she didn't even say "Bye" when he left the room, because she was still gaping at him.
The afternoon didn't start well, because Fleur rang the doorbell just when Teddy about to embark on his new favourite game - Hitting Daddy's Fish Tank With Blunt Objects. Tonks dreaded the day when he found something big enough - Daddy's umbrella, for example, and...well, Daedulus and Icarus wouldn't know what hit them. She had to drag him to his playpen in the living room (which he had worked out how to escape from) and strictly tell him to "STAY THERE!" before she could finally welcome the baby.
Fleur gave Tonks a hug, and almost gave her a French-style kiss, too. Happy as she was to go shopping, it took her almost ten minutes to say goodbye to her little girl, then another five minutes to hug and kiss Teddy and tell him what a big boy he was becoming, which he liked.
Tonks took a look at Victoire to face her fear, and her heart melted. She really was the most beautiful baby girl she'd ever seen, at this point in her life anyway. She had big dark blue eyes, a teeny little round nose, pink rosebud lips and quite a lot of soft red hair. She even had dimples. She was like something out of a fairytale.
Until she heard her mummy walking out, and then she started to cry. She cried and cried and cried, and not one song, funny face, silly sound or toy could make her stop. It was only when Tonks's morphed her face to a likeness of Fleur's that she finally began to quieten down. Tonks breathed a sigh of relief and cuddled her again. This wasn't going to be so bad now...
...or so she thought, until there was a bang and a crash from the dining room.
She rushed downstairs as fast as she could with Victoire in her arms, dreading the worst. It wasn't so much the deaths of the fish that she was afraid of as the smashed glass flying at her baby boy. She felt a certain dread as she heard Teddy wailing.
She got to the dining room, and there he was, red in the face with screaming but not, thank Merlin, from pain. It turned out that Remus had placed a charm on the tank that made any object that hit it bounce with the same force. A gentle tap would only flick back slightly. A full-on whack with a wooden spoon, which was what Teddy had been going for, would send him flying backwards with its force to land on his bottom by the table. And when he'd seen that table cloth dangling there, he couldn't resist pulling it.
Tonks's heart nearly burst with feeling. Part of her was furious with Teddy for the mess he'd made and with Remus for indirectly causing it, and another part was incredibly grateful that Teddy wasn't hurt because Remus had taken precautions. These conflicting emotions came to a head and she burst into tears.
"Teddy Lupin," she said, putting as much energy into her voice as she could. "Don't EVER do that again!"
He fell silent, and she knew from the look in his eyes what she had said was stupid and hurtful, but for once he didn't go into a tantrum. Instead he looked up at her sad face and quietly said "Mama?"
She crouched - still steadily holding Victoire - to his level, and planted a kiss on his turquoise head and said. "I'm sorry, Teddy bear. Big noises make Mama angry and scared sometimes. That's all."
She then remembered it was time for his snack. "Yum yum?" she suggested.
Teddy had lost interest. He was staring at Victoire.
"Hiya Baby," he said slowly, then smiled.
Later that evening, Remus came home with a flower in his hand, because whatever Tonks had thought, he'd seen the shock in her eyes after what he said and he wanted to make it up to her. As usual he stood in the doorway for a moment, because Teddy was used to the sound of the door at around five o'clock and would toddle down there as fast as he could for a hug from his daddy, especially on Fridays, when he bought him a treat. No matter who had been looking after him Teddy was a constant noise, which Remus, just like Tonks hated and yet secretly loved at the same time. So he was a little bit disturbed when he came home to a complete silence.
"Hello?" he called. "Dora?...Teddy?"
No one replied, and for a moment he wondered if they'd gone on a trip to the park, when Tonks shuffled up to him and, after giving him a kiss of greeting, took his hand.
"You have to see this, it's beautiful," she said.
For the first time in a long time, Teddy Lupin was having a quiet afternoon. When he'd seen Victoire lying in his mother's arms, and then in her carrier, he'd been so fascinated he didn't want to leave her side. The fact that someone could be tinier than he was blew his mind, and he kept on touching her hands and feet and watching her blink and gurgle until she fell asleep. And when she did, he decided he'd just fall asleep next to her, and now he'd been curled up next to her crib for nearly an hour.
Remus didn't really know how to respond to this sight in words. He felt that saying something would have ruined it. His whole face just lit up, and he put his hand in Tonks's and gave it a squeeze, which was his usual way of showing love in silence.
They stood there for a moment, listening to the two children's peaceful breathing, and then quietly retired from the room.
"Nymphadora," Remus said, emotionally. "I...I think I know what I want for Christmas, you know."
"Sleep and heavenly peace?" Tonks suggested.
"No...I think I want a daughter..."
She wrapped her arms around him. "I'm glad to hear that," she said, then paused and whispered. "but she won't be here until June."