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Sacrifices have been made, a lot of them.

Sometimes, when she’s had a bad day at work and she comes home to a pile of dishes and the electricity’s out again and she and Ted start quarrelling, Andromeda wonders whether they’ve been worth it. She feels guilty almost immediately for even thinking it, but she’s powerless to stop the suggestion from creeping into her mind, buzzing around there like a wasp, taunting her with its sting.

Their little flat in the outskirts of Manchester isn’t exactly what she’d dreamed of as a little girl. The walls are wafer thin and the paper is peeling from them in long, jagged strips so that it almost looks like someone has dragged their nails down the florid pattern in desperation. The cooker only works when it’s given a whack and the windows barely keep out the near-constant rain, let alone the cold. It’s impossible not to succumb to nostalgia from time to time, remember the crackling fires and the silky smooth bedsheets and the hot, fresh food that their house elf prepared every day, wishing for a taste of that life once more.

Andromeda never mentions this to Ted, of course. She doesn’t want to imagine the expression on his face if he found out that she occasionally dreams of returning to her former self, especially when he has given up so much for her – he has given her everything.

The door jams when she gets back from work, her breath rising in little puffs in front of her; the heating has gone – it’s the third time this week. Who cares about the Statute when she can barely feel her fingers and crystals of ice decorate the gap between the window and the sill? Ted still isn’t home and the Heating Charm that Andromeda casts barely warms the air around her, but she struggles through to the kitchen with the bags of shopping. Jabbing her wand at the hob so she can cook the pasta, she bats away the shadow of worry about Ted; what if the reason he’s not home is because he realises how she feels about her new life, her occasional longing for that she abandoned?

Andromeda pushes the idea from her mind, beginning to chop the tomatoes for the sauce as the pasta is bubbling away; the pips squeeze out across the work surface and the juice covers her hands like a diluted potion. Cooking is one of the many skills she’s discovered she lacks. Ted is far better than her, and normally he’s the one who takes up residence in the kitchen while she watches his dexterous hands slicing the vegetables and seasoning the dishes. Often when Andromeda’s left alone in the kitchen, which has been happening more than she’d like lately, disaster reigns and they end up eating takeaways they can’t afford.

‘Damn it,’ she mutters as the pasta boils over and spills across the hob. Andromeda hates cleaning even more than she hates cooking, and the burnt stains on her cooker defeat all the household spells she currently knows. Just as she’s despairing and about to throw the whole meal away – because where is Ted anyway, and why hasn’t he told her that he’s not going to be back till late again? – the front door opens and he calls to her.

‘Hello, love,’ he says, his mellow voice echoing through their tiny flat. She hears him bumbling around with something in the hallway, a thump when he puts whatever he’s holding down, and before she knows it his arms have slipped around her waist and she relaxes instinctively into his embrace.

‘Hi, Ted.’ She turns her face a few inches and meets his lips in a kiss. For just a couple of seconds, Andromeda is finally able to forget her frustrations from the day.

‘Sorry I’m late, ‘Dromeda. They kept me back at work again – we had a power cut and we were late shutting up shop. How’s your day been?’

‘Fine.’ It’s a word that covers all manner of sins, hides away the difficulties she’s having adjusting to this Muggle life they’ve built for themselves, conceals the turmoil that’s stirring up inside her.

‘Really?’ Ted gently pulls her arms from the pans and takes over himself, serving up the pasta and sauce for the two of them, carrying their plates to the little leaf-drop table that tucks away in their living room. ‘You know, sometimes you say you’re fine and you really don’t sound it.’

He doesn’t push her further, and they turn to other topics. Andromeda finds herself commenting on their next door neighbour’s new cat, which keeps trying to sneak into their flat: when did she become that woman, when did she get so old? Reaching out for her hand, Ted squeezes it as if to say ‘It’s okay, I understand, I love you’. She has no idea how he manages to communicate all these things with just a touch, but he’s done it since the very beginning, and she loves him for it. It’s this gesture that calms her down again, reminds her of all the reasons that she’s here in this little flat, with Ted.

‘Have you finished?’ Before Andromeda can answer, he takes her empty plate into the kitchen, setting the dishes to wash themselves (why can she never perform charms like that? She knows there’s a reason she should have listened more in class, but Ted always was oh-so-distracting) and drops a kiss on her head on the way back, heading into the hallway where she hears a rustle, a grunt, and she swivels in her seat to watch the door.

‘Close your eyes, ‘Dromeda,’ he insists. ‘I’ve got a surprise for you.’

Andromeda remembers the last time that he surprised her, with the train tickets to Manchester that signified her escape from the family who wouldn’t contemplate her relationship with the man she loved solely because of his parentage. Excitement fizzes in her stomach like a Whizbee. Her eyelids flutter closed at his request and she feels a smile dancing round her ruby lips, waiting to see what Ted has brought her.

A few seconds, and all she hears is Ted shuffling into the room, and when she expects something small to be placed into her waiting hands, instead comes a thud on the table.

‘You can look now.’ He’s smiling; she knows it without even looking. Her eyes open again and on their tiny table she sees a gramophone, glinting gold, majestic. It hums with magic, sings it, and sat on the turntable is a shiny black record, her favourite record: Like a Phoenix. She listened to it almost every day before they left Hogwarts, at home or in her dormitory.

‘Ted… is that…?’

He’s looking at her with those big brown eyes, eager to see her reaction. He nods. ‘Yes, yes it is. Do you like it, ‘Dromeda?’

‘Like it?’ She stands up, strokes her fingers reverentially over the glossy wood, and gazes at her boyfriend. 'I love it, Ted. But… how? This…’

Ted, thrilled, catches her up in his arms and she kisses him, once, twice. When they break off, minutes later, he whispers the answer into her hair. ‘I’m not stupid, ‘Dromeda. I know this hasn’t been easy for you, this new life, working and living like a Muggle… I know that you must miss your old life sometimes, even if you don’t want to tell me. And I can’t give you everything you had before, but I can give you this.’

‘Ted, that’s… I don’t know what to say.’

Hands on his chest, she glances up at him, this wonderful man who has taken from a world of darkness and hatred and introduced her to a world of light, taught her how to love.

‘You don’t need to say anything, love.’ He presses his lips to her forehead and then steps away from her arms. ‘Why don’t we try this out?’ Waving his wand, the needle drifts onto the record and the handle begins to turn, and the soft notes of the melody float from the gramophone, the song that she’s loved since the day she met Ted (the day she first heard the song – this is what makes her certain that there’s no such thing as coincidence). Ted bows as though they’re at a ball and offers her his hand. ‘Miss Black, would you do me the honour of this dance?’

‘Certainly, Mr Tonks,’ she replies, suppressing a giggle. Andromeda steps into his arms again and they sway slowly to the music, her head resting on his shoulder, the melody and the two of them growing and growing until there is nothing else in their world.

Suddenly, the lights flicker and the electricity cuts out again; mere hours ago it would have driven Andromeda to distraction but now, dancing with Ted, she doesn’t even notice. They may not have a fancy house and servants and gold lining their bank account, but they have this; they have the music and the dance and each other. And it is perfect.

Andromeda knows this is worth all the sacrifices in the world.

Author's Note: I wrote a fluffy story for once! I'd like to say a massive thank you to the wonderful Lauren for reading through this before I posted it and giving me so much encouragement, and to SunshineDaises for the wonderful challenge which got me writing outside my comfort zone. I'd love to hear what you thought of it in a review!

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