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Chapter 6 : Words.
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I can take the road and I can it all away
But in this twilight, our choices seal our fate
Teddy clutches onto her hand, searching for support. Andromeda squeezes it in return, and this encourages him to toddle along to their final destination. The grass is needing a trim, the shoots of daises and dandelions are intermingled with the sprouts of green creating an almost wild effect. It matches both of their personalities though, with it being untameable.
‘Mamma,’ Teddy coos, reaching out to the white stone. The grooves cut into it are familiar to both of their hands, each fingertip knowing the harsh line of the T and the flick of the L.
‘Yes, that’s Mamma.’
The words are so faint Teddy doesn’t even hear. Instead he sits beside her and begins to utter the few words which he knows – Mamma, Granna and yes. The one year old can nearly form Dadda, but Andromeda reckons that due to the extra syllable, Grandadda's a long way off. Ted wouldn't have minded. He always found it funny when Dora was learning to speak, so it would have been the same with their grandson.
‘Mamma,’ Teddy coos again, touching the stone and traces his mother’s name.
It’s a year today, a year since they’ve been gone. A year of knowing that they won’t ever come back. A year of trying to make amends for everything. Teddy doesn't always remember that his mother and father are gone. He usually forgets when he wakes up screaming and cries out for his parents. Seeing him like that makes Andromeda want to join in with the crying too. Ignorance really is bliss in a case like this.
‘Dadda,’ Teddy announces, still stroking Nymphadora’s name not realising his father’s is the one below. Andromeda lets out a small laugh at this. In moments like these she has to find a reason to laugh otherwise she will never recover from this. From this blockade of happiness, from not knowing how to live.
Leaning down, Andromeda points her wand at the white marble and whispers the incantation and tulips burst out of her wand. The colours are an eclectic mixture of reds, purples, greens, yellows and blues. Everything. Just like Remus and Dora who are, were, everything.
Dora never liked one colour, she always said it was too boring, Andromeda remembers. Remus always laughed at that, saying it was like Dora's mind, or Tonks' mind as he called her, a mixture of madness. A mixture of everything. If only Andromeda can still have that mixture than everything will be fine.
Teddy lets out a shriek of laughter before his hair turns the turquoise blue it was when he was born. It has a habit of doing it when we’re by the grave, Andromeda notes. It's as if it's a sign that's she's living on through her son.
'He’s just starting to walk, Dora, he’s not clumsy like you, more like you, Remus,’ Andromeda says, her ritual of telling them what they've missed is one that pulls her through. ‘He’s clever too, he can say Mamma and Granna already. He's close to say Dadda too, Remus. He dyed his hair pink once, too, Dora. The same colour as you had it. I almost thought he was you…’
Andromeda pulls out her embodied handkerchief out of her cloak, the stitches forming A.B. are still there after all this time. Strangely enough, the corner they lie in is the least worn, the least tatty. Almost as if to say she can never lose that part of her. It’s the sole reminder of her life as Andromeda Black. Soon, her life with Ted, her life as Andromeda Tonks, will be like that. She'll be searching for old parts of her in her new world. Reforming herself again.
The linen is dabbed daintily at her eyes before she gives a little cough. ‘I’m sorry Dora, Remus, I feel as if I should have done more to save you. Perhaps if I hadn’t left, perhaps if I had stayed, Bella wouldn’t have become like that, not as bad. I could have saved you. Done something. Instead of nothing. Nothing like I always have done. I'm sorry.’
A beam of light reflects off of the white marble and into Teddy’s face. He lets out a little squeal and tries to catch hold of it in his hand but it naturally slips through his grasp, darting out of sight. He gives a little wail, the shrill cry echoing around the solitary graveyard.
Andromeda bounds towards him, her knees tightening as they contract, and she kisses him on his head. At times like these, she most desperately wishes his parents were still here, still alive. Her body's beginning to show signs of decay. It’s simply at what rate it's going to be at is the question she avoids the most. She will have to take measures for the inevitable. Harry will be his saviour, he's both of their saviours now. He's their family in a way.
Teddy grasps at the strand of grey hair escaping from her bun, a stark contrast to his cheery blue, and laughs. His fingers are twined around them like Cissy used to do with her own, Andromeda realises. Like he knows if he lets go she may leave him like she left Cissy.
She hasn’t spoken to Cissy in years, she wonders if she ever will again. Apart from small glances if they passed in Diagon Alley, their contact has been muted, numbed to its death. Her, Bella and Cissy. Once the Black trio, now broken, smashed apart. Unfixable. They chose their sides, their allies, long ago and there's no drawing them back. Well, not for her and Bella. Bella is dead, dead a long time ago one can argue. Her new persona, Bellatrix, took over her years before Andromeda could have admitted it.
Cissy is virtually dead, to society anyhow. Andromeda can see her lurking on the sidelines now, waiting for her moment to see if she can ever grace the world again. Or perhaps she has know her fate for a while now. Known since she stayed with Lucius throughout the war and never looked back. Cissy isn't yet to die to her though. Far from it really.
Teddy lets go of her grasp causing her to let go of her remembering; that’s the trouble of letting go of it though, it causes Andromeda to often forget what they were actually like. Teddy laughs, he’s already forgotten his small wails showing Andromeda how easily things can slip from the mind.
Walking away from Teddy and his parents’ grave, she stops at the one next to it, Ted’s. A clad of heather marks the grave, the soft mauves of the flower have merged with the green of the stalks and grass forming one. The unlikely blend of the colour reminds her of the unlikely coupling of she and Ted.
Andromeda places her hand against the grass before sitting down upon it. She always sits here, like this. Both of them sat on the floor in their first flat, they had no money for anything other than the bare essentials, so it’s like that in a way.
‘Hello Ted,’ she greets him. ‘Nothing much has happened this week. Teddy’s been talking a lot more. He can nearly say Harry’s name now which makes him happy. It’s a year since Dora and Remus have gone now. It's slowly getting better, not normal, but slowly moving away from always hurting. I still steal your name for her from time to time, it means I remember both of you.'
Her hand seems to automatically reach into her pocket for her handkerchief, ready to dab at her glistening eyes.
'I have to go to some do tonight, to remember the Battle, I wish you were here to go with me. It would mean remembering Dora and Remus will be easier than it’s going to be. I wish they were here too because that way I wouldn't even have to go to it. But I suppose you'll always be in my memories and that will have to do.’
Touching the stone, her fingers jolt under the coldness of it. It’s not warm like Ted was; it’s flat, smooth, obliterating all the bumpy imperfections that made up Ted and her.
‘Your rose bush is doing well now that it’s May,’ Andromeda adds on. ‘I try and look after it the Muggle way, with the kneeling and the trowels but it’s getting harder. Harry sometimes comes and helps me; he does it a lot now. I’m not sure what I would do without him. Who would have thought that with the way we first met him? The way he raised his wand at me!'
She imagines Ted laughing along beside her wherever he is. That's what keeps her going, knowing that he is somewhere, not nowhere. Teddy appears next to her, the tentative steps have stopped for today as he crawls on his knees beside her. ‘Granna,’ he says, touching her arm. His touch is warm, he’s almost the new Ted for her.
‘Teddy,’ she whispers to him before placing him on her lap.
She was the chained woman, but Ted freed her from that. He helped her toss the crown, the crown which was meant to be hers, down to the ground. Now that he’s gone, she has to try and keep on reigning by herself.
Author's Note: Again, for the last time, the lyrics at the top are credit to Mumford & Son's song, Broken Crown.
So this is it for Andromeda. I feel as if I've fully explored her relationship with the metaphorical crown and that she's not got some hope of having a better life.
I want to thank Nadia and Maia for their wonderful reviews for this story and thank you to everyone else who reviewed it too, you made it a much more fun journey! I really hope you enjoyed this short story collection, and if you want to be lovely, leave your thoughts below! ♥
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