“Grandma, how long until we leave?” Teddy asked, squirming in his chair. “When is Harry going to get here?”
Andromeda sighed and laid down her copy of the Daily Prophet. Since he’d gotten his letter from Hogwarts the week before, Teddy had been absolutely obsessed with going to Diagon Alley to buy his school supplies.
Specifically, his wand.
“He said he would get here around 10,” Andromeda said patiently, for the third time that morning. “It’s 9:30 now.”
Teddy made a face before looking back at his letter. “It says we can bring an owl or a cat or a toad,” he said, as though he was reading it for the first time and had not memorised it within a day of receiving it. “Grandma, can I get an owl?”
“We’ll see,” Andromeda said. She looked back at the paper, and after a moment, Teddy went back to building the card house. Harry had already spoken to her about getting Teddy an animal as a gift for school, but Teddy didn’t need to know that right now. Any more excitement and he’d probably literally start bouncing off the walls.
She couldn’t blame him. When she’d gotten her letter from Hogwarts, she’d been beside herself. It was what every witch and wizard dreamed of.
Fifteen minutes later, a knock sounded at the door. Teddy jumped out of his seat and ran to answer it, and Andromeda could hear Harry’s voice in the hallway. She put her tea cup in the sink, picked up her hand bag, and went to join them.
“Ready to get your wand, Teddy?”
“Yes!” Teddy was actually jumping with excess energy. He reminded her of Dora when she was his age in that way. It hadn’t been until she’d started N.E.W.T.s that she’d managed to calm down.
“Can we get my wand first?” Teddy asked.
“Let’s save that for last,” Andromeda said. She knew exactly what would happen if they got him his wand first; he would be too excited by that to pay attention to anything else. Moreover, he’d probably refuse to let go of it and end up getting at least one shop on fire. “How’s your family?” she asked Harry.
He grinned. “Exhausting. When she realized that I was going to be out all day, Ginny sent James over to George and Angelina’s to play with Roxanne.”
Harry’s oldest child, James, had just turned four, and seemed to manage to find trouble simply by breathing.
“Let’s go,” Teddy urged. “Come on.”
When they reached Diagon Alley, Teddy tried again to convince them to go to Ollivander’s first. Andromeda answered with an emphatic no.
As Teddy and Harry were scanning the shelves for Teddy’s books in Flourish and Blott’s, Andromeda suddenly became aware of something behind her. When she turned, she saw a blond-haired man bending down to tie a toddler’s shoe. She smiled, but the smile faded quickly when he stood up and stared at her, the color draining from his face. He looked as thought he’d just seen a ghost.
“Daddy?” The toddler pulled on his father’s trouser leg. “Can we go get ice cream now?”
The man looked down. “Sure, Scorpius. You know, I hear they have a new flavor.” He took his son by the hand and led him out the store. She watched them through the window, and saw him throw one last look at her before they vanished from sight.
Andromeda sighed. She hadn’t heard from her sister since the birth announcement of Narcissa’s grandson several years before. Apparently, she’d just gotten her first glimpse of Narcissa’s grandson, and her first glimpse of her son in so long she hadn’t even recognized him.
He’d probably mistaken her for their sister for a moment. From his expression, he’d been only slightly more fond of her than Andromeda was.
That made her feel slightly better about Draco Malfoy.
“Grandma!” She turned and saw Teddy and Harry heading toward her. Harry’s arms were full of books. “We got the books. Can we get my wand now?”
She smiled. “Let’s go up to the till to pay. Then we’ll get your wand.”
Teddy’s eyes lit up, and he approached the till with astonishing pace given his size.
Andromeda and Harry exchanged a look. It was going to be a long day.
“Guess who I saw yesterday?”
Narcissa looked up at her son and carefully put the tea kettle back down. “Who?” she asked curiously, arranging the biscuits on a plate and adding the plate to the platter.
Narcissa was glad that he had waited to ask until after she had put the kettle of hot water down. “Really?” she asked, trying to keep her voice light. “Where?”
He leaned against the table. “She was in Flourish and Blotts with Harry and her grandson.” He shook his head. “For a minute I thought she was Bellatrix. Then I thought I was crazy. It wasn’t until Scorpius was eating his ice cream that I realized who she had to be.”
Andromeda and Bellatrix had tired of hearing it long before they’d had their falling out, but they really did look very much alike.
“Have you talked to her?” Draco asked. “Since she sent back the birth announcement?” Narcissa shook her head wordlessly. “You’re better off, you know.”
Narcissa wasn’t so sure about that.
Lucius thought that the only reason she’d thought so much about Andromeda in the years immediately following the war was that she’d felt so isolated and hadn’t had much to do with her time. That was what happened, when the world thought that you - or, at the very least, your husband - belonged in Azkaban. As the years had passed, people’s memories had begun to fade, and fewer suspicious glances had been aimed in their direction when they went out in public.
The suspicious glances had never stopped them, of course; Narcissa Malfoy was descended from some of the oldest, most well-respected families in the wizarding world, and she was not one for groveling.
But it had made things uncomfortable.
And it was certainly true that she did think of her sister less in recent years than she had in the past.
However, Narcissa couldn’t help but feel that Lucius did not understand. Could not understand. Lucius did not understand what it was like to have a real family; he had been an only child, and his parents had always been affectionate enough, but very distant.
After a moment, her son decided that there was nothing more than he could say and retreated into the adjoining room, where Lucius and Astoria were busy being entertained by Scorpius’s waving around a quill and pretending that it was a wand.
After a few minutes, Narcissa joined them and put Andromeda out of her thoughts for the moment.
However, that night - long after Draco and Astoria had taken Scorpius home - Narcissa nursed a cup of tea and brooded over what she could possibly do about her sister.
In the end, the unfortunate, inescapable conclusion that she came to was that there was nothing to do. Andromeda had made her disdain for Narcissa and all Narcissa held dear quite clear when she’d burned the Christmas cards and returned the birth announcement. She had made it clear when she’d scorned her share - or, rather, technically Bellatrix’s share - of the inheritance when Narcissa had offered it.
And for several years, Narcissa couldn’t help the resentment and anger from growing. The resentment wasn’t really fair - Andromeda had every right to refuse to see her - but there it was. Narcissa Malfoy was not accustomed to being ignored, even now. Her pride ran too deep.
It grew until she was in the garden with Astoria and Scorpius one day, and an off-handed comment Astoria made about pro-muggle legislation made her grimace involuntarily. Astoria either didn’t notice or pretended not to, but it was in that moment that Narcissa realised that maybe Andromeda was right. Maybe there was just too much distance between them.
So she stopped thinking about her sister. She willed their estrangement to stop bothering her, and on the whole, she was fairly successful. Narcissa had always been good at burying things she didn’t want to think about.
But she kept that little golden key. She didn’t use it. She didn’t give it away. She kept it safe, hidden inside her jewelry box.
She had no idea who she could give it to. It wasn’t hers, and she would not use it. She couldn’t use it.
But it did belong to the Blacks, and if Andromeda wouldn’t take it... who would?