Characters/Pairings:Tonks, Remus, Baby Teddy
Warnings:depression, infant abandonment
Prompt:15. Tonks. The moments before she leaves Teddy for the battle. (submitted by tabitha666)
Notes:This story was tough. Thanks to the mods for indulging my pregnancy- induced procrastination and inability to finish what I had started. I started writing this fic 8 months ago, and I’m in a very different place emotionally now that baby is imminent, which is why I haven’t actually edited this fic. I also apologize to myself for making breastfeeding sound so negative.
Two oh bloody seven. Last she had looked at the clock, it had been one twenty-six. Which meant she had just been woken from a blissful forty-two minutes of sleep. Or possibly less.
She lifted herself out of bed and stumbled the two steps it was necessary to get to Teddy’s cot. She could not remember a time when her limbs felt so heavy. He was mewling fitfully, and his sharp cries gave her a headache. Actually, they made her headache worse. She lifted the squirming baby out of his cot and wrinkled her nose. Shit.
“Remus, wake up,” she whispered.
“He’s shat himself again.”
“Uh? Hang on, dear. Give me a minute.” She didn’t have a bloody minute. Already her tits were leaking, and the child was turning his head towards her chest. She held him away from her body, and he squalled harder, flailing his chubby little legs and arms and screwing up his tiny face in a rictus of infant despair.
“Now, Remus.” she snapped.
Her husband obligingly got up and took the bundle from her hands. “Come now, my little man,” he whispered gently. “Let’s get you cleaned up, shall we?” He took the child over to the corner where they had stacked all the nappies, and proceeded to do his end of the baby-caring. “You do the front end, I’ll do the back end,” he had said. It had seemed like the perfect arrangement. She would get all the fun of holding Teddy and snuggling with him and nourishing him, while the man who had gotten her into this state would be swimming in shit and piss. But now, she realized that Remus’s share of the duties were over in two minutes, while she got to sit for hours getting her nippled chewed on by a ravenous little monster. It wasn’t bloody fair.
Even less fair was how much Remus seemed to enjoy fatherhood. Whenever Teddy wasn’t nursing or sleeping, he was cuddled up with his father, who would tell him stories and make sparkles and bubbles with his wand and make his toys fly around the room. Tonks didn’t see the point. Teddy didn’t understand that he was being entertained, and all that baby-talk made Remus seem completely childish. And then he would get hungry again and Tonks would have to sit in the same bloody chair for indeterminate lengths of time again, and...
“All finished,” her lovely husband announced, in a tone that was completely inappropriate for two o’clock in the morning. “He’s still a bit fussy, my dear. I think he might be hungry.”
“No, he bloody well isn’t. I just fed him not one hour ago.”
“Well, that was a very dirty nappy. I think his little stomach might be empty again.” Bloody wonderful. She unbuttoned her nightgown and held her arms out for the infant. Remus placed two pillows on her lap and fluffed them up. The care and consideration he was taking irritated her. Teddy latched onto her nipple expertly -- thank goodness he had figured out how to nurse without casting a Cruciatus on her breasts. She could not go through that again. “Shall I get you some water?” She snorted. What the hell did he think? That her breasts knew the Aguamenti spell?
“Of course I want a glass of water,” she snapped. As soon as she heard herself, she felt sorry. He was trying to help. “Please,” she added, a little too late. Remus didn’t seem to mind her little outburst, which only made her feel worse.
It was infuriating, the way he seemed to take everything in stride. She didn’t know if it was his werewolf constitution or his even temper, but the sleep deprivation didn’t seem to affect him as much as it did her. He was always helpful and cheerful, ready with a cleaning charm or a glass of water or a sandwich. He knew any number of lullabys, and Teddy found his rumbly voice soothing. His little eyelids dropped closed so easily when Remus walked him to sleep in the early evening hours. Unless he was hungry as well, of course. Then the only way he could get to sleep was by attaching himself like a leech to her tits and sucking her dry. He had a wonderful talent of falling asleep while nursing, and then waking up and rooting for her breast the second she tried to unlatch him.
“LUPIN!!!” she heard someone yelling through the Floo. “Lupin, get your hairy arse in here!” It sounded like Lee Jordan. What the hell did he want at this early hour? The next Potterwatch wasn’t scheduled for another three days. Remus handed her the glass of water and ran into the other room. He was back two minutes later, hastily stripping off his pajamas and throwing on his robes.
“I have to get to Hogwarts. They’re fighting.”
“They’re fighting? What do you mean?”
“Lee said Neville Longbottom contacted him using one of their old Dumbledore’s Army coins. Voldemort is on his way to Hogwarts, they’re going to defend the castle. I’ve already sent a Patronus to Kingsley and Bill Weasley, they’ll let the rest of the Order know.” He kissed her and Teddy and apparated without further explanation.
Her stomach churning with fear, Tonks stared at the spot where her husband had stood a second ago. He was gone. Just like that, he had left her and gone haring off to defend a castle against a madman. She fell back against the headboard and let Teddy drink his fill. That was all she was good for anymore. She was a trained Auror and member of the Order of the Phoenix, but the only thing that mattered anymore were her breasts. And not in the good way. Oh, she could justscream.
The minutes slipped by, and she allowed herself to be lulled into a half-stupor by Teddy’s snuffly sucking sounds. It really wasn’t half bad sometimes, this nursing thing. He really was sort of sweet sometimes, the way his little mouth opened wide for her nipple and his eyes closed and his tiny fist rested against the curve of her breast. Sometimes, she could almost like him. It hurt, knowing she didn’t love her son. She had spent nine months loving the tiny life growing inside her. She had talked to it, sung silly songs, told it stories. She would wonder who it would look like. She would wonder if it would have her magical talent and worry that it carried it’s father’s curse. Even when Remus, coward that he was, had abandoned her for three months, the knowledge that she would have a piece of him to love for the rest of her life had sustained her.
Then three weeks ago Teddy had been born, and reality had hit. The last time she had been happy was when he first changed his hair color, an hour after birth. She had looked up at Remus and beamed and said “Look at what we made,” and they had kissed each other, sure that their happiness would be able to sustain them through the continuing darkness. She had been wrong. He was no precious bundle of joy. He was a needy, sucking, puking, crying thing who never left her alone and demanded every ounce of her attention and energy. It was worse than being around a Dementor.
There was no one she could talk to about this either. No one would understand how much she hated herself for hating this person who had come out of her. She was a mother. Mothers were supposed to be full of infinite love and patience and strength. It had been an open secret in 12 Grimmauld place that Molly Weasley cried herself to sleep for a year after her son stopped talking to her. Her own mother had defied generations of Blacks to ensure that Tonks would be able to control her own destiny. Lily Potter had died to protect her son. Tonks just wanted to die.
Teddy, his lips now fluttering at her breast, seemed to have drunk himself into a stupor again. Hoping against hope that he would stay asleep, she gently released him from her breast and covered herself up. He raised one chubby fist halfheartedly, but then settled back against her chest. Thank goodness. She put him back in his cot and curled the duvet around herself. Not that she could sleep now, knowing that Remus was at Hogwarts fighting Death Eaters.
She should be there. She had spent the last nine months hiding from the world so she could keep Remus’s child safe. Safe from Um-bitch and her vile lists of half-breeds, safe from Greyback and his lust for young blood, safe from the judgment and whispers that would follow them all for the rest of their lives. She had made that sacrifice because Remus, in his infinite capacity for self-flagellation, had asked it of her. And now... now he was gone to make a last stand against Death Eaters. Harry had left the safety of Shell Cottage to continue the mad chase that Dumbledore had set, and no one knew where he was. There was no guarantee that Neville Longbottom of all people could lead anyone to victory. She could lose Remus forever, and she would be left with Teddy.
She would not let that happen. She got back out of bed and stared at Teddy sleeping in his cot. If she was going to live with this person that she and Remus had created, then her partner in life would be there too. She was not going to be left alone to let his child suck out every drop of milk, blood and emotion she had in her. She was an Auror. Her wand was faster than his. She was trained for this sort of thing.
Barely cognizant of a plan, she tucked Teddy against her shoulder, stumbled into the kitchen and threw a handful of Floo powder into the fireplace. “Bulrush Cove” she said, and stepped into the green flames. They spit her out in her mother’s kitchen. The whirling, spinning motion made Teddy wake up and start wailing again. She grit her teeth against the sound. There was a reason why Floo travel was not recommended for infants, but at this point, she didn’t care what happened to the child anymore. Carefully, she made her way to the spare room where her mother now slept. She was having another bad dream, murmuring “Ted” over and over in her sleep. Tonks nearly burst into tears, not knowing what to do. Teddy was still screaming, and she bounced him up and down ineffectually. Her mother stirred, almost waking at the sound. In a panic, Tonks stuck the baby in the crook of his grandmother’s arm. Amazingly, he calmed down and snuggled into her warm, soft bosom. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t bloody fair that he could respond this way to everyone except her. He must know, somehow. Some sort of baby magic told him that everyone else in the world loved him more than his own mother did.
Her eyes swimming with tears at the futility of trying to act like a mother should, she decided that it was better if she just behaved like an Auror. That was something she knew how to do. She didn’t have to try to feel anything when she fought. She found a scrap of parchment and a quill on the side table. It looked like the beginning of a letter that her mother had been writing to her father. Well, she could take care of another Ted for a few hours, maybe it would make her feel better. She scratched out a short note.
Mum, they’re fighting at Hogwarts. Remus has gone to help. I’m going too. Take care of Teddy.
She took one last look at Teddy, safe in his grandmother’s embrace. The last thing she saw as she Apparated was the peaceful look on the face of her son.