Disclaimer: Except for OCs, the characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
When Hermione and Harry came back for another visit, this time with Ron, Andromeda was a bit more relaxed. She sat down with the boys in the sitting room and directed Hermione down to the patient's bedroom by herself. “Just keep things quiet and peaceful,” she said. “He's quite sensitive to sudden movements and loud noises right now.”
Hermione walked down the hallway and tapped on the door, which was ajar. “Professor?”
He looked up from a newspaper. “Miss Granger.” He turned back to the paper and finished reading the article he had started. Then he put the paper down and looked at her over reading glasses. His voice was still quiet and raspy, but the look on his face was not unpleasant. “Don't just stand there. Come sit down and tell me how it all happened.”
She entered the room gingerly. He looked again at her, this time in expectation, like when he wanted someone to recite during class. “Well, you know Harry had some sort of a mental connection with Voldemort?” He nodded. “Harry needed to kill the snake. He could peek into his mind enough to see that the snake was with him in the Shrieking Shack. We went down there and watched from the tunnel when he ordered—well, you know.” She wouldn't say it aloud when he had that look in his face.
He gestured, so she continued. “Afterwards, Harry leaned down over you, and you gave him those memories.”
“You conjured that container.”
“You're quick on your feet. I like that.”
There was a pleased sound in his voice. She blushed. “Then Voldemort started talking with that voice, and the boys stopped to listen, but I couldn't stop thinking about you. As far as I knew, you were the worst of the Death Eaters, but still... I couldn't let you just die. Then I remembered that Mr. Weasley was in that hallway forever before someone went to rescue him and how as long as there was a binding around his neck, he didn't bleed too much.”
“That's my smart girl,” he said. She was a bit surprised by his tone of voice and the smile on his face, so she stopped and looked at him for a moment. Their eyes met, and something passed between them. To cover up her confusion, she continued in a rush.
“I tore up one of the curtains in the window there and wrapped it as tight as I dared. Then when I was finished, I caught up with the boys in the tunnel and we went up to the castle. Harry went somewhere, but I went with Ron into the Great Hall, where most of the families were taking care of the injured people. I found Madam Pomfrey and told her where to find you. I guess after Harry beat Voldemort, they went and recovered you. I found out later that they brought you here.”
Professor Snape was looking fretfully at the door, so she stopped talking. “Do you need something?"
“I think a small tea will be coming soon.”
There was a rattle in the hallway and a tap on the door. Hermione watched as he smiled in anticipation. When the door opened, Mrs. Tonks looked at Severus with a question in her face, and he smiled back. It made her feel funny, as though there were a conversation going on that she wasn't a part of. She needn't have worried, however. Their hostess set the things on a table that she placed between the bed and Hermione's chair and then made her way to the door.
“I thought you would stay,” said Severus.
“And ruin your chance for a tete-a-tete? I don't think so.” Andromeda smiled. “Besides, I have other duties than tending to you, and you must get tired of just me all the time. Enjoy your visit.” She slipped out of the room.
He looked a bit disappointed, but turned to his guest. “Well, Miss Granger, if you would pour, I would be grateful. I must admit my motor skills are not yet returned to normal.” He watched as she did so. “You were telling me about the battle. What happened afterward?”
Andromeda shut the door and sighed in relief. She remembered her conversation with Narcissa after the funeral for Nymphadora and Remus. The younger sister had been quite particular in her directions. It was more of Narcissa's meddling, but at least it wasn't directed at Andromeda.
The girl has expressed an interest in pursuing Severus romantically, Andie. Let her visit as often as she wants. There are some who are proposing backlashes against the old families, and this girl can soften the blow. Keep him as long as he wants to stay and do all you can to promote the match. Let's keep her happy so she'll be good to us, all right?
It wasn't like she owed anything to Narcissa, but it cost her nothing to play along. Andromeda tried to decide whether it was working or not. Severus had looked forward to Hermione's visit, and his demeanor expressed a real interest for her. He certainly seemed as happy to be with the girl as she was with him, but there was something about his behavior that didn't seem quite lover-like. She shook it off. What did she know of the mating rituals of Potions masters? Ted's earnest methods had been endearing, and they had certainly worked on her, but she had never fooled herself into thinking they were typical of all wizards.
She went back to the sitting room, where Harry and Ron were eating biscuits and watching Teddy make faces while his hair turned shades of green and then brown again. “How are things in here?”
“Is that all he does?” asked the dark-haired boy.
Andromeda laughed. “It's quite a lot, actually. You try going from barely knowing how to breathe to being able to smile at people within the space of ten weeks. He's almost got control over his head, and he's trying to roll over. After that he'll start to move around and before you know it, you'll be chasing his broom all over the garden.”
“Mum says Ginny was walking by nine months and on a safety broom at a year.”
His hostess smiled and nodded. “I remember. She had to grow up fast to keep from getting squashed by one of you monsters.” Her face became more serious. “How is Molly doing, these days? I meant to go see her, but somehow I'm always busy lately.”
“She's okay, I guess. We know when she's been crying about Fred.” Both boys looked at Andromeda a little guiltily. She swallowed and patted their hands, so Ron continued. “Dad's always telling us to mind ourselves and be good around her, but she says she hates that. She said when we're too good it's as though the soul of the whole family was gone and not just Fred. So during the day we're allowed to have some fun, but not too much because George isn't really up to it, either, and when Dad's home from the Ministry, we all act like Percy.”
Harry groaned in corroboration.
“She said that when she gets a chance, she'll come over for a cup of tea sometime.”
“I'd like that,” answered Andromeda. “I would like that very much. You tell her to come on over whenever she's ready. It will make things seem almost normal.”
Hermione came to the Tonks cottage alone late in July, and the door was opened by a tallish young man. He had medium brown hair and an expression in his eyes that said he'd never met an enemy. He looked like someone Hermione had seen before, but she couldn't place him.
“Oh! I'm sorry, I thought this was the Tonks home? Have I gone wrong?”
The young man laughed and said, “Oh, no. I'm Tim Tonks. I've made myself scarce for a few years because I'm a Squib. Now with the Dark Lord gone, I can come and go as I please. Since Dad and Dora are gone, I need to look in on Mum from time to time. I take it that you are the Hermione Granger we hear so much about?” He opened the door wide and waved her inside. “You and your friends, Harry and Ron, accomplished the impossible, I hear. I'm pleased to meet you.”
She regained her composure and shook his hand. “Yes, I'm Hermione. I was terribly sorry to hear about your father and your sister. I met him once or twice and got to know her a little bit more than that. Everyone seemed to like her a lot.”
“We Tonkses can't escape it,” said Tim with a laugh. “Dad was the sort who thought everyone was his best mate until they started trying to hex him, and Nym would try to keep the party going at all costs. This nephew of mine is almost her way of doing that, keeping the party going even after she's gone.” He looked at Hermione conspiratorially. “Of course, Mum can be loving and generous, but she's always said it was Dad rubbing off on her.”
“She must miss him horribly.”
“She does, if all this extra work she's taken on is any indication.” He looked around the hallway and lowered his voice. “I admit I'm shocked to see this supposedly-reformed Death Eater in the house. Is he all right, do you think?”
“Yes, I really do think so,” responded Hermione. “He was very much in love with Harry Potter's mother, and Dumbledore got him to act deep undercover as a spy. He did the things Dumbledore wanted even on the last day of the war.”
“That's what Mum says, and I guess I should believe her. Good old Dumbledore! At least he was there when my parents needed him, but he couldn't resist meddling in everything, could he? At any rate, Miss Hermione Granger, I believe you're expected, so I shall not hold you up any longer.”
Hermione felt a bit surprised by the whole thing. Imagine the Tonkses having a Squib child that no one knew about! He seemed very comfortable in his skin, though. She would think about it later. Right now she was here to see Severus.
“Aha, Miss Granger! You look quite fetching today. Do I detect preparations for a date with Mr. Weasley after your visit with poor old me?”
Hermione blushed. Mrs. Malfoy had carefully coached her on how to prepare for her visits. She had also paid particular attention to the sort of things to say... and what not to say. “Actually, Ron and Harry are too busy studying for their Auror entrance tests. I was wondering, would it be possible to ask for your help studying for the replacement N.E.W.T.s?”
“If it was just any dunderhead, I would say no. You, Miss Granger, are a special case.” He thought for a minute. “I believe that I will take you on. Draco works with me after breakfast, so... perhaps an evening or two during the week?”
“That works for me.”
There was a tap on the door and Tim Tonks brought in the tea things.
“Where is your mother?” asked Snape, a bit shortly.
“I sent her upstairs to rest. She's running herself ragged, and I can take care of things for an afternoon, I think.”
“I'd like to see her as soon as she's able,” was the fractious reply.
“I'll let her know when she comes down,” said the young man smoothly. With that he was gone.
“Did you know they had a son who is a Squib?” asked Hermione. She poured, as was becoming the custom.
“Everyone did at one time or another. It was a huge scandal in pureblood circles.”
“He obviously has a lot of affection for both his parents.”
“Yes, and Andromeda is quite proud of the boy. He's achieved middling to high honors at university and there's a very eligible young lady in the mix.”
He looked to the door. “Confound it, she's not coming, is she? I should send my Patronus to her.”
“Would she come?”
He sighed. “She would probably just send hers back. Have you seen it?” He looked at Hermione. When she shook her head, he said, “It's a dove. I watched her send it to her husband once. She cast it and then held it in her hands and whispered to it. Then she held out her hands and it flew away like a real dove. She's an amazing woman.”
Hermione found it all fascinating, in a way, but she wanted to know more about her professor and she wanted him to ask more about her. There were times he seemed fond of her, when he said, “Hermione, I couldn't be prouder of you than if I raised you myself,” or something like that, but she never really felt the connection she was hoping for. Still, he seemed happy to speak with her, so she continued to come, hoping that when he was fully recovered he would be ready to pursue a further relationship.
Tim was haunting the hallways when she came out of Severus's room. “So you fought in the war and everything?” he asked.
“Did you actually get to see the Dark Lord, and talk to him?”
“I never actually spoke with him, myself. Just being in the same room while Harry talked with him was enough.”
“Mum once spoke with him, back when he was less scary to look at, she says. Frightened her to death, the way she tells it, chasing her right into Dad's arms.”
Hermione laughed. “I doubt Voldemort would be pleased to know he was a matchmaker.”
“Ha! You see the joke!”
As they laughed, his eyes became wistful. “I heard he used to say that Squib kids, like me, had our magic stolen by the Muggle-borns. Do you think that's what happened? Do you have my magic?”
He suddenly looked so serious that Hermione took a step back. “I d—don't think so.”
Tim laughed. “Mom said it's just a pile of dragon dung that only people like her paranoid sisters would believe. Dad said that if someone somehow took magic from me, they're only taking it back because he was Muggle-born, you know.”
Hermione smiled weakly. “Oh, yes. I believe I'd heard that.”
“I'm just messing with you. You're all right!” He put out his hand again. “At any rate, I'm glad to meet you, Hermione Granger.”
“Yes, it's a pleasure.” She walked out of the house in bemusement. Tim Tonks might not have inherited the family magic, but he did seem to have more than a bit of the mischief she was used to seeing in Sirius Black.
Draco watched over the stair railing as his cousin walked the Mudblood out of the house. He didn't envy Tim the opportunity to talk to the increasingly confident and attractive witch, he told himself. He did find himself impressed by the other young man's easy manner, though. The Squib was a misfit, but he spoke with Hermione as if there were no distinction between them.
The other young man shut the front door and looked up the stairs. “Do you need anything?”
Draco was caught spying and he knew it. Had the Squib known he was there all along? “No,” he answered, reaching for lofty importance and landing upon sullenness. “I think I'll be in my room until dinner. I'm not sure the company is what my parents would wish for.”
His cousin laughed. “Not enough magical pedigree, eh?”
Draco didn't condescend to answer.
A/N: I invented Tim as the Squib younger brother of Tonks for my Perseus story. He will show up from time to time in this story. He's probably 3-5 years older than Harry and Hermione, since he was 2 1/2 years younger than Tonks. Although he has his own Muggle-based life, he feels as though he needs to keep track of his mother now that Ted and Tonks are gone. I keep thinking of AA Milne's "James James Morrison Morrison" whenever I write scenes between him and Andromeda.
Thanks is due to Trickie Woo, and again to the readers and the reviewers. I'm quite grateful for your kind attention.