Chapter 1 : Prologue
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- The Birthday Massacre
Andromeda hoisted her infant grandson (who had mercifully finally fallen asleep) higher up on her shoulder as she slowly walked up the steps that led to her house, which seemed horribly quiet and lonely even with the baby in the house.
She almost didn’t notice the envelope lying directly in front of the front door. If Teddy had been fussing, she wouldn’t have heard the crinkle of paper under her feet. She wouldn’t have looked down and seen the envelope. Despite the fact that she’d stepped on it, it hadn’t moved from its position.
She bent down carefully to pick it up. Once she touched it, it lifted easily. There was no handwriting on the front or the back.
After unlocking the door, she tossed the mysterious envelope onto the side table in the entrance hall before making her way to the kitchen. It wasn’t until much later that night that she remembered it.
Andromeda paused in the act of turning the doorknob to her bedroom. She nearly turned around to retrieve it, but the thought of walking back down the long hallway gave her pause. There were so many photographs hanging on the walls – of her and Ted on their wedding day, of Ted reading Nymphadora a story when she was barely old enough to talk, of herself pushing Dora on the swing at the park down the street, and of the three of them with their old collie Badger on the day Dora got her O.W.L. results.
She smiled despite herself. Badger. What a ridiculous name for a dog. They’d gotten him just as Dora was starting to understand Hogwarts, and the Houses. She had immediately become fascinated with Ted’s old House, Hufflepuff, and had been so adamant that the dog needed to be named Badger that Andromeda and Ted had not argued with her.
A watercolour of a forest path leading to a small cabin hanging just across from her bedroom door caught her eye. Ted had painted it one summer when the three of them – along with Badger the collie – had gone away to Ireland for a week. Andromeda could remember Dora’s delight at the stream that ran next to the cabin, and how even skinned knees had not deterred her daughter from clambering across the rocks in search of fairies.
That had been right before Dora started at Hogwarts…
Andromeda turned away from the hallway with all of the happy memories hanging on the walls and leaned her forehead against her bedroom door. Her vision blurred, and she swiped the tears away impatiently.
How was she ever going to manage without them?
Whoever was writing to her could wait. She did not have the energy right now to communicate with anyone.
Two days ago, she had finally been able to have a funeral for Ted, which had not been possible when You-Know-Who had been in power. She might have had one anyway and suffered the consequences, if not for Nymphadora. She could not do something that could harm her daughter or her grandchild.
Ted would not have thanked her for that.
Of course, she’d lost her daughter – and her son-in-law, who she’d actually been starting to like – anyway. She and Teddy had gone to their funeral today, and there she had discovered that she did still have tears to cry.
And now here she was, approaching 50, with an infant to raise by herself.
She wouldn’t be truly alone, of course. She had no doubt that Teddy’s godfather would be happy to help. She had no doubt that there would be more people willing to help than she would know what to do with.
But she wouldn’t have Ted, and she wouldn’t have Dora, and they were the two people in the world she wanted more than anything to see again.
When Ted had gone on the run, she’d lived her days consumed in fear. When she got news that he had been killed, that fear had turned into an enormous ache that hammered away at her nerves until she’d found herself wondering, every day, whether she’d be better off dead.
Andromeda Tonks was made of stronger stuff than that, and she had not given in to the voice in her head – but there had been days where she had to admit that it had been a close thing.
And when Nymphadora had died – by the hand of her sister Bellatrix, no less – her heart had broken. Even stupid things like Teddy’s hair changing color again could make her collapse into tears.
In was almost a week before Andromeda remembered the letter again. She was walking by the entrance hall when the side of the crisp white envelope caught her eye.
She sighed, picked it up, and brought it into the kitchen to read. After she’d put the kettle on for tea, she slit open the envelope and pulled out a card.
Her stomach clenched, and she felt a sudden sense of foreboding. She was not at all sure that she wanted to know what it said.
She opened it anyway, and immediately recognized the handwriting. Now she understood why there had been nothing written on the envelope, and why it had not been delivered by owl. If she had known who this was from, she would have thrown it away unread.
My deepest condolences on your recent losses. If there is anything at all I can do to make this time easier for you or to help you with your grandson, please don’t hesitate to ask.
I mean it.
I am sorry.
Your loving (and regretful) sister,
Andromeda realized, with a start, that her hands were shaking.
She crumpled the card into a ball and threw it into the fireplace.
A/N: This fic was written for nitenel's "Black Sisters Challenge" and EnigmaticEyes16's "Birthday Massacre Challenge." The quote at the top is from the The Birthday Massacre song "Two Hearts."
Thanks for reading!