LbN: Wow... It's almost been a year, but I finally finished. For those of you who stuck with me, thanks! Hope you've enjoyed the ride. :)
Flourish and Blotts was packed with witches and wizards of all ages. Tonks squeezed through the crowd, trying to not let anything hit the two year old in her arms. She turned when she heard someone call her.
"MUM! We're up here!"
Looking up, she saw Stacia waving at her. She smiled and fought her way back to the stairs. "Have you been here all morning?"
"No," Stacia said. "Mummy let me walk around Diagon Alley. Chogan and Dylan were with me, though, so it's okay. Can I hold Teddy?"
"Where are Chogan and Dylan now?" Tonks asked, passing Teddy to her.
"Trying to score food at the Leaky."
"Should have known…."
"They should be back any second. Mummy's about to come out."
A storm of applause signaled Ginny's arrival. She stood at the podium with her publisher and editor and waved for silence. "Thank you all for coming out today. I'd like to start out by talking a bit about the book. Then I'd be happy to take questions, and sign books for everyone."
"This project, when I started, was mostly about seeing the War through children's eyes. I believed that kids would have a unique perspective on the horrors of war, but what I didn't realize was the scope of it all. This book is not light reading. For the most part, it won't make you feel good. But it is important. The stories inside are true, and they are straight from the memories and interviews of the children that lived them. It's frightening, really, to think that our world came through this. However, these children are an example of the resilience of people, and of the hope humans carry. I'd like to answer questions, if anyone has them."
"Yes, Professor Weasley-Tonks," a Daily Prophet reporter shouted from the back. "In your work with these children, did you find that any of them were severely damaged?"
Ginny chuckled. "If by 'damaged' you mean broken or evil or psychotic, then no. But any time any of us come through something traumatic, we lose a piece of ourselves. These children have lost family, friends, the assurance of safety. I'm still working with them to rebuild those feelings of security. But are they damaged? No, they're not."
"Professor, in your book you talk about two siblings who are half-wolves. How are they doing?"
"Thanks to the help of the Werewolf Protection Committee, they, and others like them, are doing wonderfully."
"Are any of the children here today?"
"Possibly," Ginny said slyly. The reporters chuckled, taking that as a yes.
Tonks grinned as she picked out all of them. Damien, Justin and Chogan were grinning up at her from a table in the back. Nikki was now standing next to Stacia, and Dylan was sitting on a pile of books, just a few feet away from Ginny.
"Ma'am, is it true that you and your partner adopted one of the children in the book?"
"It is true," Ginny said. "It was a hard decision at first, because we both love them all. Then they made it very easy on us."
"Well," Ginny said with a laugh. "Two of them are stubborn and refused to let us adopt them."
Chogan and Dylan both gave her a thumbs up.
"Something about wanting to stay on their own. One was adopted by my brother, Charlie, right as we were deciding what we wanted to do."
Damien smiled as his adoptive father came to stand next to him.
"And the other two…well they're holding out for another family," she said with a smile at Hannah and Neville. "So it wasn't really a matter of…er…whittling down the list, so much as which kid felt they were right for us."
"And you have a baby as well?"
"Yes. Our family is very colourful. Literally."
Tonks laughed as Teddy's hair morphed on cue.
"One last question before we get to the signing," the publisher said.
"I have one!" Justin yelled from the back. "Can I be in your next book too?"
The crowd laughed.
"Didn't think we were ever going to get you out of there!" Tonks said. Evening was falling as the last few people straggled out of the bookshop.
"Well, I did have to do a little shopping," Ginny said, smiling down at Stacia. "Here are your school books."
"Two more days!" the girl said excitedly.
As they walked along the road, Tonks asked Ginny quietly, "Do you remember all of them?"
"All of what?"
"All of their memories."
Ginny stayed silent as they walked into the Leaky Cauldron. She didn't answer until they'd Flooed home. "Yes. Every one."
"Now…" Ginny said, watching Stacia play with Teddy. "Now I think I'm ready to step out of the past."
Tonks hugged her. "Me too."
As an orchard when manured produces pleasant trees and luscious fruit, so does a cultivated mind produce pure thoughts and noble actions.
~WILLIAM SCOTT DOWNEY