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Chapter 4 : The Birth Announcement
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Andromeda wrapped her shawl more tightly around herself as she made her way into the chilly kitchen. Her breath was visible in the air as she put the kettle on, and after she had lit the fire with her wand, she sank into one of the chairs to wait for the water to boil.
As she waited, she glanced at the window. Several more inches of snow had fallen as she’d slept, and there were still large, wet snowflakes cascading down to the ground.
Just as the kettle began to whistle, she heard footsteps coming down the hall. “Good morning, Teddy,” she said, glancing toward the doorway, where her grandson was standing, clad in hippogriff pyjamas. “Would you like some tea?”
He grinned. “Sure,” he replied as sat down. “Brr! It’s cold outside!”
Andromeda smiled. “And inside, too,” she said, and he nodded fervently. She poured them each a cup of tea, and slid back into the seat across from him. “New hair?” she asked.
He reached up and tried to flatten it. “Yeah,” he said after a minute. “I got tired of blue.”
“Well, the green looks very nice.” She was always glad when Teddy went back to green – Nymphadora had never liked that colour, and had consequently rarely turned her hair it.
Andromeda had come to terms with the death of her daughter and her husband eight years before, but the one thing that never failed to make her heart ache a little was seeing Teddy sporting Nymphadora’s hair. The pink was the worst, but thankfully, Teddy had long ago deemed pink “a girl’s colour.”
Once they’d finished with breakfast, Andromeda set the dishes to washing themselves with a quick wave of her wand. Teddy immediately took off down the hall, and Andromeda shook her head ruefully.
That was the way young people were. They always had things they had to do.
In truth, of course, Andromeda was just as happy that Teddy had reached an age where he was able to entertain himself. His first five or six years had really made her aware of how old she was.
Not that she was all that old in wizarding terms; she wasn’t. She didn’t see herself going anywhere anytime soon.
But life had been hard on Andromeda Tonks, and she felt the weight of it every day she rolled out of bed and looked at the photographs and Ted and Nymphadora that still sat on her dresser.
She carried a new cup of tea into the hallway, and before she entered the living room, she called down the hall, “Teddy? Is everything okay?”
“Yes, Gran,” Teddy’s tiredly patient voice drifted back.
Andromeda smiled slightly and entered the living room, where she curled up with her new book.
Just as it was approaching lunchtime, she heard a tap on the window. She looked up and saw an owl sitting on the windowsill. She marked her page and hurried over to let it in. Shivering slightly as the cold late autumn air washed over her, she relieved the owl of its burden. It immediately retreated back outside and spread its wings, and she closed the window again.
The chill remained in the air, and when she returned to the couch, she gave her wand a quick wave. The logs sitting in the fireplace burst into flames, and she draped a blanket over her lap to warm up.
After enjoyed the heat for a moment, Andromeda looked down at the letter in her hand. In an instant, she recognised the handwriting, and felt a shudder that had nothing to do with the temperature outside run through her.
She considered tossing the letter into the fire, but decided against it. It was better to know than not know, especially since the timing of the letter was decidedly odd. Andromeda still received a Christmas card and a card for her birthday every year from her sister, but Christmas was still about a month away, and her birthday wasn’t until the spring.
So what could Narcissa want?
She slit open the envelope and pulled out a thick piece of parchment. The text on it had been written in her sister’s sweeping, immaculate handwriting.
Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy are pleased to announce the arrival of their grandson Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, born to Draco and Astoria on the eighteenth of November.
Andromeda stared at for a minute. The room had already warmed up considerably, but she felt like her blood had turned to ice. The old anger she’d tried so hard to push out of her mind had rekindled as though it had never left.
How dare Narcissa remind her of everything she had lost? The injustice of it – that Andromeda had fought on the fight side, had done the right things, and had lost almost everyone, while her sister had supported You-Know-Who, had not cared what her disgusting Death Eater husband did to everyone who crossed his path, and had lost nothing as a result.
The fact that Narcissa could sit there in her manor with her husband, enjoying the tea and biscuits that their house elf had made and probably brought to her on a silver platter, had always rankled for Andromeda. The fact that she now had a grandson who her son and her daughter-in-law – both of whom were still very much alive – could bring to visit on weekends…
It wasn’t that Andromeda wasn’t happy to have Teddy. She was. She wasn’t at all sure that she could have gotten through the first few years after Ted and Nymphadora had died without him.
No, there was no part of Andromeda that resented her grandson.
However, there was an enormous part of her that still resented the war – and You-Know-Who, and her sister – for taking her family away from her. She had no memories of sitting around the fire with her husband and her daughter and her son-in-law, laughing as Teddy took his first steps. Teddy had no memory of his parents. He had never even met his grandfather.
Narcissa hadn’t had to feel that pain, and Andromeda had grown to hate her for it.
But then, Narcissa had always been good at worming her way out of trouble.
Andromeda came to a decision. She got up to go find their owl, Lion – Teddy seemed to have inherited his mother’s ridiculous system of naming family pets, which had hurt less than she’d thought it would. As she’d expected, she found him curled up on his favourite perch on top of her chest of drawers, as usual eschewing the post that she’d put up specifically for him.
Pets could be very annoying that way.
She clicked her tongue at him, and he opened one eye sleepily. “Come on,” she said. “I have a letter for you.”
He gave a very prolonged stretch before flapping his wings lazily and guiding down to her outstretched arm.
Andromeda made her way back to the living room. When she entered it, she found Teddy sitting on the spot she’d just vacated, the card she knew she’d put back in the envelope in his hands.
“Teddy,” she said sharply as Lion took wing to get to his favourite living room perch. “What are you doing?”
He looked up and blinked at her. “I—er—” He threw the card back on the table quickly. “Nothing.”
She sighed. “Teddy, don’t go through other people’s mail. It’s rude.” She couldn’t bring herself to be too annoyed with him, however – after all, he was eight. When she was eight, she’d cut off all of Narcissa’s hair and earned herself three days with no dessert.
But that was a different time.
“Sorry,” Teddy said in a small voice. “I was just—”
“Curious?” Andromeda supplied, and he nodded. “Of course you were.”
She sat down next to him and picked up the discarded card and the envelope from the table. “Who is that?” Teddy asked. “Who’s Narcissus?”
Despite herself, Andromeda let out a snort of laughter. He must have just picked up the card as she’d walked in to make that mistake – Teddy was a good reader for his age.
“Narcissus was a very silly man who spent too much time admiring his own reflection,” she said, tapping the envelope with her wand to seal it.
Teddy’s brow was furrowed in thought. “But why was he writing to you, Gran?”
Andromeda motioned to Lion, and he flew back. “He wasn’t,” she said as she tied the letter to his leg. “Her name is Narcissa. She’s…” Andromeda’s voice trailed off. Teddy wasn’t old enough to understand the complexity in her relationship with her sister, and she had a feeling that he would latch onto the idea of a sibling without hearing anything else. “She’s someone I used to know.”
“Why was she writing to you?” Teddy asked, reaching out to stroke Lion’s head.
“To tell me about a birth in her family,” Andromeda said. She rose and walked back over to the window. When she opened it, Lion flapped his wings and flew from the table out the open window. She closed the window, locked it again, and turned back to Teddy. “It’s not important. Come on. Let’s go have lunch.”
Lucius was out when Narcissa received the returned announcement. She didn’t recognise the owl that delivered it, but she felt her heart leap into her throat when she saw one of the envelopes she’d sent out only a few days before.
She watched as the house-elf opened the window and took the letter from the owl. It showed no interest in staying; as soon as the letter had been retrieved, it flapped its wings and was gone.
Tilly trotted over to Narcissa and handed the envelope to her. “Letter for you, mistress,” she said in a high, squeaky voice.
Narcissa took it. “It’s about teatime,” she said, looking at the clock pointedly.
Tilly glanced at it quickly and gave a quick bow. “Tilly is sorry for keeping mistress waiting. Tilly will be right back.”
The house-elf quickly left the room, and Narcissa slit open the envelope. The only thing inside was the announcement. She scrutinised it carefully, but there was nothing written on it.
After she reread it once, however, she realised who it was from. There had only been one announcement that she’d sent out where she wrote her name before her husband’s.
Narcissa slouched in the chair she was sitting in and blinked very rapidly, trying not to resort to tears. Lucius would be back soon, and she didn’t want to have to explain it to him. She hadn’t even told him she was sending an announcement to her sister. If he knew that she had and Andromeda had sent it back, he’d just get angry, and the very last thing Narcissa wanted was to have her husband angry at her sister.
“Mum?” came a voice from the door, and she looked up quickly. Draco was standing in the doorway, looking slightly concerned. “What’s wrong?”
She brushed her sleeve across her face and hid the note beneath her robes. “Nothing,” she said quickly. “What are you doing here?”
“Astoria’s family are visiting,” he said, walking over to join her. “All of the Greengrasses give me a headache, so I said I’d be back in a few hours.” He sat down on the ottoman and frowned at her. “What’s wrong?” he repeated.
Narcissa sighed. “It’s nothing,” she said softly. He continued to stare at her, and she sighed. “My sister sent back the birth announcement for Scorpius that I sent her.”
Draco stared at her for a minute, and then said, “What the hell possessed you to do that?”
Narcissa blinked several times in consternation. Draco had mellowed in his attitudes toward mudbloods and blood traitors more in the last few years than she would have liked; she had not expected this reaction from him. “Why shouldn’t I?” she asked defensively.
Draco made a face. “Because it probably just reminded her of everything she doesn’t have.” He said it as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, and Narcissa winced.
“I just wanted to…” Narcissa’s voice trailed off. She had no idea what she just wanted to do.
Her son shook his head. “Mum, just leave it alone.” He hesitated for a moment, and then said, “Astoria is fairly good friends with Ginny Weasley. According to her, your sister is fine and her grandson is fine. Just let it go.”
Narcissa looked away from him. “I can’t,” she said. “I miss my sister.”
For a minute, she thought that Draco would challenge her, but he didn’t. In the end, Draco had listened to her and Lucius for too long to challenge them to their faces very often. Instead, he changed the subject, and by the time Tilly brought the tea, Narcissa had almost forgotten about it.
A/N: Credit, just to be safe and in case you didn't get the reference: Narcissus is a character out of Greek mythology who wasted his life staring at his reflection.
It has been a very, very long time since I updated this. I'm sorry. Right now, I'm really making a concentrated effort to finish up some of my WIPs, so hopefully I get the next chapter up soon.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the chapter if you have a moment. Thank you so much for reading!
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