Chapter 4 : Echoes.
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So hold my hand consign me not to darkness
Incense of death. Your day approaches.
Nymphadora cries from her chair, the four year old's scream never fading. Andromeda places an apple in front of her daughter, willing the piece of fruit on to silence her daughter’s wails. Nymphadora never seems to be silent though, Andromeda notes. Whether it’s wailing for food, barging into things as she runs around or the ensuing tears from the injury, she never stops.
But Nymphadora wouldn't be Nymphadora if Andromeda can't hear what her daughter's doing at that exact moment in time. Even during sleep she talks. Andromeda watches her now, the way she carefully picks up the apple, analysing every bump of it before deciding whether it will be eaten or not. Just like Ted, they're both unable to eat something without checking to see whether it's edible or not.
Bending her wrist round, she looks at her watch and notes that Sirius should have been here by now. He claimed what he had to say was urgent, top secret, important, everything that gave hints it had something to do with their family, the Blacks.
The doorbell rings shrilly, causing Nymphadora to throw the apple upon the floor and begin to cheer. Andromeda lets out a small laugh before bending down and picking it up. Her daughter always seems to have a strange reaction to things which are considered rather normal to others. Strolling through the hallway, she jumps around the discarded toys of Nymphadora’s. As she pulls open the door, she can hear her daughter cry out about wanting to come and see who it is too.
‘Hello, Dromeda, long time no see,’ Sirius greets her, pulling his cloak off. ‘Am I going to be invited inside or will I be forced to loiter around the doorway?’
‘No, come in, come in.’
She ushers him down the corridor before making him come to a halt in front of Nymphadora and announcing he can take care of her while she makes a pot of tea. Running into the kitchen, Andromeda brushes away the tears which have slowly begun to form in the lids of her eyes.
Sirius had been right about long time no see. The length of time being entirely down to her. It’s been nine months since Sirius left the Black family, running away to his friend James’s family. It’s been much longer since she’s really spoken to a member of her family. She couldn’t have spoken to Sirius, not then, not even really now. She couldn’t hear about what Cissy had become, six years on from her leaving. She couldn't hear that she had turned into a new version of Bella.
Pouring the water into the tea pot, Andromeda closes the lid before performing a balance act with her wand helping as she carries through the pot, tea cups, milk and sugar. Her mother will have a fit if she sees the life Andromeda now leads. Having no House Elf, cooking and cleaning for herself and that’s without even taking Ted’s blood status into account.
If the reports are true, she did have a fit when she found about him. Screaming for hours and hours, Father disappearing for days and Cissy left to deal with them all. Andromeda only knows because of her, because of Cissy. She wrote Andromeda a letter, proclaiming her hatred for her sister for doing this. Andromeda still has it somehow. A reminder that Andromeda Black once did live, even though as Andromeda Tonks she finds it hard to remember that part of her.
‘Here we go,’ Andromeda says gently, placing the tea things on a table next to Sirius. ‘Shall I be mother?’
Sirius lets out a small laugh before nodding. ‘It’s odd to see you not call for a House Elf; I’m still finding that strange. Then again, being rid of Kreacher is a blessing more than anything else so I shouldn’t complain too much.’
‘Yes, Kreacher always was something. He absolutely adored Cissy but when it came to Bella and me, he never seemed too keen on us.’
He nods in agreement before reaching in to tickle Nymphadora. She lets out a laugh which seems to ripple across the air, reminding them of the divide between them and her. Nymphadora will never know the Blacks; she will never visit number twelve Grimmauld Place or number fourteen Plymouth Square. She will never know a single thing about it.
‘What was it that was so urgent Sirius? Aunt Walburga isn’t still sending death threats, is she?’
‘No, I expect my last response scared Mother away for a while.’ Sirius lets out a small chuckle at the last bit, his eyes glinting a little too much for her liking. ‘It’s something else though. Something to do with Regulus. Regulus and Bella too, in a way.’
The clutch on the handle of the tea pot suddenly tightens; the stream of brown spatters down, blemishing the china as it splashes into the milk below. The sputtering sound of that is the only thing to be heard until Nymphadora begins to cry out.
‘Mummy, mummy I want to get out.’
Andromeda watches her hair change from a bubble-gum pink to a vivid orange and kicks at her chair, knocking the apple on the ground again. She wanders over, moving away the small tray attached to the chair, and before she can move away her daughter jumps out of the chair and runs down the corridor.
‘She is a character,’ Sirius sighs, grabbing his cup of tea and heaping sugar into it.
‘Indeed. What is it about Bella and Regulus that you need to tell me? I wasn’t aware that you still spoke to them ever since you ran away.’
‘I don’t, well not really. I sometimes try and speak to Regulus at school to make sure that he isn’t being turned into the next Muggleborn hating generation or becoming too much of a Slytherin, but it seems as if I failed in that.’
Sirius slumps back in his chair, face pinched up that it’s hard to make out which emotion he’s trying to convey. The tea cup is deposited onto the table and he sighs. The only sound they can both hear is that of Nymphadora talking to her teddy in the other room.
‘Bella’s getting him involved with the dark arts, with the Death Eaters. She wants him to become one. She says it can become a family tradition for the Blacks. I can’t stop her. She’s been even worse since marrying Rudolphus, and that was before I ran away. She would kill me on first sight if I approached her, and that wouldn’t do any good for Regulus.’
‘What do you want me to do then?’
She almost regrets saying those words. She promised herself that she would never think of Bella again, never have anything to do with Bella again, never speak to Bella again. Even Ted speaks more of her than she does. The thought of what her sister, her Bella, has become is too horrible. She can’t be reminded of her. She can’t be reminded of what her sister will do to her family if she got the chance.
‘Talk to her, make her change her mind. You’re her sister; you can make her do it. I know you can do it. She might listen to you.’
It’s only because of the desperation etched across Sirius’s face that stops her from laughing. The naivety that Sirius possesses about how Bella views her almost makes her want to cackle like her sister does, taking pity in people’s misfortune. This is why Andromeda doesn’t think about her sister. She worries that if she does, she will turn into her.
‘Sirius, I can’t do that. It’s not that I don’t want to, but if I dare even be seen by her she will kill me. She’s threatened to do it so who’s to say she won’t put her words into action from the rumours I hear about her. It’s not because I don’t want to help Regulus, I do, he was always good to me, I just can’t do it myself. I can't ever talk to Bella ever again.’
The desperation soon turns to anger, his lips pursing, eyes closing and brow wrinkling. The silence which emanates from Sirius is almost as terrifying as the thought of her sister.
‘So you’re just going to stand here and let him become a Death Eater? You’re not going to do anything?’
‘I can’t die, Sirius, I can’t. Nymphadora needs me, I can’t leave her.’
Andromeda doesn’t add on that she’s not brave enough to confront Bella. She can’t. She can’t admit to herself that the love for Ted was too great and drove her away from her family, but the fear of her sister is too great to save someone she once loved. She knows that if she sees any of them again, her fate has already been sealed. She can’t let that fate become hers.
‘I see how it is,’ Sirius spits out. ‘I thought you could help. I know my parents won’t do anything to stop him, but I thought you were different. You’re the same though. Waiting to see how it suits you and serves you best. Never really wanting to help.’
Sirius stands to leave, smashing the tea cup so hard against the table that the china smashes, the powder sprinkling out in a circle around it and the white shards skidding across the surface. It’s as if the parts of her, the parts of her she used to be, are sliding further and further from her like the tea cup. The echoes from her past life have been silenced.
She can still say yes, she can still agree to help save Regulus, but she doesn’t.
Instead, she watches Sirius turn around, not looking at her, walk down the corridor and not look back once. The lock on the door clicks twice, indicating the quick opening and the slam of it shutting.
Andromeda is shutting off a part of her life.
‘Mummy, where did he go?’ Nymphadora asks, her hair now a pale blue.
‘He just went away for a while. Don’t worry about it.’
‘I liked him though, will I see him again?’
‘I don’t know, Dora, I don’t know.’
The use of the nickname Andromeda tries to avoid at all cost is noticed by her daughter who toddles over to where her mother is sitting and hugs her leg.
‘I love you, Mummy.’
‘I love you too, Dora.’
Later that day, when Nymphadora's sleeping and Ted's reading, Andromeda sneaks into the bedroom, carefully shutting the door behind her. Pulling a sheaf of parchment out of her bureau, she dabs the quill in the ink and begins to write, not even taking the time to sit down.
Quickly, the starched parchment is stained black from the ink and Andromeda blows her mouth against for it to cool. Waiting a few moments more, she scrolls up the parchment, places a seal upon it before strolling back into the living room where Ted is curled up in a chair.
He gives a small nod before returning to his book, allowing Andromeda to pull open the window and call into the night, ‘Apollo, come.’
The owl’s tweets and hoots echo around in the night, its call telling her of its arrival. The tawny bird sits on the window sill, rubbing his head against her hand.
As she ties the scroll against the owl’s leg, Andromeda makes sure that Ted is deeply immersed in his book and isn’t likely to hear the next part. ‘Take it to Narcissa, she’ll be at Malfoy Manor.’
The owl gives a small tweet in returning before disappearing into the darkness.
Cissy is Sirius's last hope for Regulus. She is about the only Black who may be able to save him, the only one who has a heart. The only one Bella seems to care for. The only one who can do anything. The only one who still represents something of her childhood self.
Author's Note: As usual, the first two lines are from Broken Crown by Mumford & Sons, and then the next two lines are from the poem Manor Garden by Sylvia Plath.
So we skipped quite a few years in time, but I hope you thought I filled in the gaps well. There should be two more chapters after this to tie up her life. I would love to hear your thoughts about this chapter, so if you left me a review that would be great! ♥
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