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Story Notes:
It’s been five years, but that old saying is wrong. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. It does make them hurt less. The bonfire is starting to catch, and people are moving closer to the firelight to get warm. Tonks isn’t cold, so she keeps her distance. Teddy is with Harry right now, running around with a toy broom that his godfather bought him because he’s spoiled rotten even after she’s told Harry that he shouldn’t buy so many toys. Harry just gives her that puppy look that breaks her heart a little, and she can’t stay mad, which the little bastard knows and takes advantage of at every opportunity.

Tonks isn’t sure why the ministry decided to have a bonfire to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, but it seems that people are enjoying it. Everyone lost someone at the battle, whether it was family, lover, or friend, no one escaped unscathed, but she can’t help feeling resentful for how easy so many people have been able to move on. Sure, she puts up a good front, only her mum really sees through it, but she misses Remus every day. Their whole relationship had been fast, spurred by the war and thoughts of ‘what if’ that made them move faster than they would have during peace time. It had been love, too, even if it hadn’t started that way. He’d lost Sirius, and she’d lost Bill, though the loss had been different. Solace and understanding aren’t the two best reasons to start a relationship, but it worked for them.

It’s a shame he couldn’t live to see Harry become a man, to watch Teddy grow up, to see how things are finally improving with Kingsley at the helm and a generation that doesn’t suffer injustice and discrimination in their world. He’d be proud of her, too, she knows. She’s grown up, become a mother to a beautiful boy that astonishes her daily, and she’s lucky. Lucky to be alive. She knows it. Knows how her own aunt tried to kill her, even if she can’t remember exactly what happened before waking up from a coma after four months. Doesn’t really matter. She lives her life to the fullest because it could be gone as fast as a yelled curse, and she can’t take it for granted.

“Nymphadora, why are you lurking out here alone?”

Tonks turns towards the unexpected voice. “Billy boy? What are you doing here? I thought you were off visiting relatives or something?”

Bill comes over to sit on the ground beside her. “I came home yesterday. Left Fleur and the kids in France with her parents. It wasn’t working, you know?”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” she says, and she actually means it. Bill had been the love of her life at one time, but she guesses some things just aren’t meant to be. He and Fleur were good together, much as she hates to admit it, and he’s still one of her best friends, so she doesn’t like to see him hurt. “You need me to go over there and kick her arse?”

“There’s no need for that, but thanks for the offer.” Bill smiles wryly. “It’s not her fault anyway. Not mine, either. We tried to make it work for the children, because it’s not going to be easy for them, but we decided it’s better for everyone if we just make it official. She’s going to let them attend Hogwarts, and I’ll get them for a couple of weeks every month until then. Not ideal, but divorce isn’t.”

“Life isn’t ideal, Billy boy. You’re an old man now. Surely you realize that?” Tonks shakes her head, fighting a smile when he scowls at her remark about his age. “In fact, I think I see some gray hair in that mane of yours.”

“You do not!” Bill bumps her arm with his. “I’m not old, and you just wish you looked this good.” He gives her a half-hearted preening motion, but it’s obvious that his heart’s not in it right now.

“Oh please. Who needs good looks and great hair when they can become anyone?” Tonks focuses a moment and shifts into an identical copy of him. “See how easy it is?” She shifts into Harry then Minerva before becoming herself again. “You forget that it’s easy as that for me to look as good as I want.”

“You promised to never turn into Minerva again,” he says, smiling slightly. “Remember?”

She frowns in thought then laughs. “Bloody hell. I’d forgotten that. It was ages ago. How could I forget your shrieks and running out the door naked? You’ve always had a great arse.”

“You’re evil is what you are,” he mutters, lightly punching her arm. “You’d better hope that Teddy doesn’t inherit that from you or you’re going to be getting Howlers from Hogwarts constantly when he goes to school.”

“Mum and Dad didn’t receive that many Howlers.” Tonks’ smile slips as she thinks of her dad. Looking back at the bonfire, she sighs. “Do ya ever think about what it’d be like if you hadn’t made it out alive? I mean, I almost died, guess I actually did for a minute or two, and I sometimes wonder what it’d be like if I had. My mum would have lost everyone, me and Dad and Remus, just like that. Teddy growing up with either of his parents. It hurts, Billy boy. Even if it didn’t happen that way, it still hurts.”

“Hey now. None of that. What’s the point of thinking that way? You didn’t die, and you are alive.” Bill puts his arm around her shoulders and pulls her against him. “We lost enough in that bloody war. Can’t imagine losing you, too.” He presses a kiss against the top of her head. “Who would have thought this is where we’d end up ten years ago? Me divorced with kids not even living with me. You widowed with a son who’s likely to be mischief personified with a Marauder and you as his parents.”

“Oi! I wasn’t alone getting into trouble. I seem to remember being accompanied by Charlie for most of it. How do ya know he wasn’t the bad influence?” She leans her head against him and tries not to let herself get too comfortable. Doing that’s dangerous.

“I know you, Nymphadora. Well, I used to, at least. Knew you better than you even knew yourself, or so you always said.” Bill’s voice is lower now, quiet. “Guess I don’t know you so well anymore.”

“Haven’t changed all that much. Still hate when you call me Nymphadora, still a bit too clumsy and reckless, just more grown up. Gotta be careful cause I’m a mother now.” Tonks smiles at Bill. “But you’re right. You don’t know me so well, and we definitely wouldn’t have expected this ten years ago. If I’d been asked, I’d have figured we’d still be doing our thing, maybe officially but maybe not, and I wouldn’t have planned on kids for a few more years. People change, drift apart, find others, change some more. The thing is, even with all that, we’ve still got each other. Right?”

“Yeah, we do.” He studies her face a moment before leaning down to brush a kiss across her forehead. “I’d like to get to know the new and older you, if you’d let me?”

“Well, I think I’d like that, Billy boy,” she says. It’s an unexpected twist in the path of her life, but she kinda thinks maybe it’s going to be a good one.