Gathering all the courage I can pitifully find, I raise my hand to the wood-paneled door and knock. That one moment between finally deciding to actually get his attention and the split second he looks up from his work, right before his brain has had the chance to comprehend my intrusion and he recognizes that it’s me…that moment in time is the worst to live through.
No it’s not…
The silence of him just sitting there behind his desk, staring blankly at me is.
“Wotcher, Charlie,” I croak and then clear my throat. “Um, er, I have a couple of things I kind of need to talk to you about.” More silence. Awkward silence as he just sits there and stares at me with a numb expression on his face. “Sorry,” I scratch the back of my head and hold the small stack of parchment more tightly to my chest, “Er, I can come back later, when it’s a better time for you.” I roll my eyes to the right and look at the wood grain on the door before I begin to turn and leave.
“No, no, Tonks?” he calls out and I pop my head back into his office. “Now would be a good time,” he stands quickly, uneasily, “Yes, yes, now would be all right.” I step inside his office and stand behind the empty chair that sits in front of his desk. He extends his hand in offering, gesturing to the chair, “Please, er, sit down.” And I do, sit down, that is. Deep breath. I try not to make direct eye contact for too long while neither of us says anything more.
“How’ve you been?” he blurts out before I can ask the same thing.
“Fine, fine,” I stutter, “Really, I’m fine. And you?”
“Good,” he stops and takes a quick look at the vacant doorway behind my head, “Yeah, good, really good.”
I clutch both my arms about the parchment I’m holding and I’m suddenly struck with how interesting the front edge of Charlie’s desk is. He clears his throat.
“Oh!” I squeak, “How’s Little Bit?” I finally look up into Charlie’s eyes and the numbness turns into the slightest hint of a smile. “I miss her so much,” I tell him.
“She’s doing brilliantly,” and he really does smile now. “She’s getting so big and I swear to Merlin, she thinks she’s a human being, with all the rights, but none of the responsibilities.” We have a quick chuckle.
“I hate that I’m missing her growing up,” I sigh, “She won’t be a puppy much longer. I’m sure she’s as big as a Hippogriff by now.”
“Almost, almost,” he chuckles, “She’s great. And she misses you too, you know.”
“She probably doesn’t remember me at all. It’s been so long.” Oh, that hurts my heart…
“Yes she does, I know she does,” he assures me. “I bet if I brought her in to work the two of you would pick up right where you left off.” He’s quiet again and he looks away from me as if he is thinking about something. “As a matter of fact, I could bring her in and let you take her home some weekends. You know, a little like shared custody?”
“I’d really like that,” I brighten, “And if you ever have the need for a sitter…I could do that for you too.”
“It’s a deal, then,” he says. Well that was one of the things I wanted to talk to him about… An anxious hush blooms between us again.
“Uh-huh?” he inquires with a nod and raised eyebrows. This is harder than I thought it would be…
“Yes, Tonks?” he asks again, “Is there something you need to tell me?” I look evenly into his eyes for a long time before I speak.
“I’m going to have a baby.” More silence…
His mouth drops open in surprise and delight as he stands quickly and rounds the desk, pulling me up and into his arms. I’m laughing, laughing, and so is he. “This is wonderful, wonderful,” he beams, “I’ve always wanted children! What are we going to name her? I just know it’s going to be a girl…”
“You’re going to have a baby?” his jaw clenches and he smiles tightly. “Wow, that’s great news. You and Whizzy are going to have a baby then, huh?”
“Yeah,” I admit, “Yeah, we are. I found out Tuesday night. You’re the first person I’ve told so far. I wanted to tell you myself before anyone else did.” I force a smile and lean forward. “You know before mum and dad.”
“Before Ted and Andromeda? Well that’s an honor.”
“Before Olive too,” I acknowledge.
And then the quiet game starts again.
“Tonks?” Charlie asks, “There’s something I have to tell you too.” Then there are those few seconds before Charlie speaks again, the very brief time that my mind has to snap into action to try to guess what he’s going to say to me. But the time I’ve been given is not long enough…
“Aveline is pregnant too,” he confesses.
Charlie’s face begins to fade and blur and then her dark raven hair comes into focus. It’s scattered out in a fan across the pillow beneath her head and the day’s light is fading fast. She smiles and laughs affectionately as Charlie covers her naked body with his own and pulls the blanket up and around them, enfolding her in a cocoon of warmth as he smoothly moves up and into her…
“Tonks?” Charlie comes back into view, “Tonks?” He looks a bit concerned as he leans forward.
“Oh, wow…,” I utter dumbly. “Whoa…Aveline is pregnant…wow.” And there you have a Ravenclaw reduced to the expressive ability of a bumbling Neanderthal.
“Yeah,” he says, “It was a surprise for the two of us too, at first, but we’re OK now.”
“I know what you mean,” I reply, “We were the same way.” I lean forward and stand. “Well, guess I’d better get going.”
“Ok,” he stands behind his desk as I turn and step toward the door. “Tonks?”
I stop in the doorway and turn around, “Yes, Charlie?”
“Congratulations,” his voice breaks, but is sincere. “You’re going to be a really great mum.” He hesitates, “The really brilliant kind of mum.”
I smile at him. “And you’re going to be the best dad ever. I hope you know that. The really cool and wicked kind.”
Charlie ducks his head in acknowledgement before I turn to go back to my office.
I shut my office door and let the tears finally fall…