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Chapter 59 : Year 6: Parents
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Ron tore his eyes away from the Penseive and looked at Jack Marwick, who was standing across from him, smiling contently. Ron raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t understand… what is this?”
“This,” Marwick said, “is preparation for the interrogation with the woman I believe murdered the Notts and the Carrow twins. These,” he added, gesturing towards the silvery images, “are her memories. Or, as one might put it, her motif.”
Ron’s eyes narrowed; he had been an Auror for nearly five and a half years, but he had never looked into a criminal’s memories before. For some reason, it made him feel unsettled.
“Look, maybe we should wait for Gawain to get back to the Office…”
“And waste the entire day?” Marwick interrupted. “Didn’t Potter say that this is exactly what he and Dumbledore did when they were trying to figure out how to defeat You-Know-Who? They went back in time, because they wanted to understand where all of that evil was coming from. That’s all I’m trying to do here too. You may not like me very much, Weasley, but I’m not the criminal here.”
“Then who is? There's got to be a reason why you still haven't told me her name.”
“Let’s just get this overwith, shall we?”
And without answering Ron’s question, Marwick took a deep breath, leaned forwards and sunk his face into the shimmering mist of images. Ron hesitated for only a couple of seconds before following his partner’s example.
He knew that his feet were still touching the floor of the Head Auror’s office, but he felt as though they had lost contact, and now he was falling. All around him, the silvery smoke was moving determinedly, taking solid shapes and changing colours. By the time his fall was over, and he found himself landing on a creaky wooden floor next to Marwick, he was in an old house with a ton of portraits on the walls, not a single one of them noticing the two intruders, in a narrow hallway that he knew very well.
He knew it, because he had spent the summer before his fifth year at Hogwarts there, and later that year Christmas too, and almost two years later, he, Harry and Hermione had used it as a hiding place from the Death Eaters.
They were at Grimmauld Place.
It was slightly different in that it was creepier and darker than when he had been there before. Right next to him, dangling from the roof, were a dozen of glass vitrines holding some very questionable objects – a skull painted black (Ron only hoped it wasn’t one of the Black’s ancestors), what looked like yellowish fingernails, a necklace with a large crack in each little white pearl, and a dagger with crystals in its handle and dark stains on the blade that could not be anything but blood.
Ron barely had time to shiver and wonder what sort of twisted people would put such objects on display before something else stole his attention away; the little boy whose face he had seen in the Pensieve just moments earlier, and the older girl dragging him out of the dining room and into the hallway where Ron and Marwick were standing.
“Where are we going?” the boy demanded to know. He looked like he was about five or six, and there was indeed something very familiar about him. His back was turned on Ron though, and it wasn’t until the girl spoke that he understood just why he thought he knew him from somewhere.
“Shh, Sirius,” she giggled. “I need you to come with me, because I have to tell you a secret.”
Ron felt his jaws drop as he hurried around the children to be able to see the boy’s face. Yes, it was Harry’s godfather, his face rounder than the pictures Ron had seen of the handsome Sirius Black during his Hogwarts time, and his eyes seemingly larger, but perhaps it was because they were widened at the prospect of sharing a secret with…
Ron turned his eyes from little Sirius’ face and to the girl’s. “It’s not…?”
“No,” said Marwick in a low voice. “But they look alike, don’t they?”
Yes, Andromeda Black did look a lot like her older sister, but just like the older version of her, she had kinder eyes, softer facial features, and now, on Christmas day at age thirteen, a mischievous sort of smile on her face.
The two children started walking along the corridor over to the staircase, while Sirius was saying, “But won’t mother be angry at us for leaving the table?” Marwick motioned for Ron to follow them, and he did. On his way past the doorway leading into the dining room, his stuck his head in just to have a look; the adults that Sirius was worrying about were at the table – Ron recognized Sirius' mother, of course, but the real version of her was much quieter than the portrait he knew her from. Instead of yelling and screaming, she was sitting at her husband’s side, hanging by his every word as he spoke.
“Rosier was talking about some kind of movement when I met him at the Ministry last week,” he was just saying, “that wants all the things we do. He was mentioning trying to stop Hogwarts from taking in Mudblood students…”
The other man by the table, whom Ron assumed must be Andromeda’s father, hummed in agreement. Down the hallway, Marwick was calling for him to hurry up, so Ron only cast one glance down the end of the table to see the children seated there. The eldest – Bellatrix – was listening to her father and uncle with a glow in her eyes that made her look mad already then. She was clasping the tabletop with such enthusiasm that she didn’t even notice the little boy next to her, who was spinning his silver fork between his fingers and nearly knocking his cousin’s glass of wine over. The girl sitting on his other side, with blonde hair that stood out against the rest of the family’s dark locks, giggled as she leaned forwards and whispered:
“Careful, Regulus… Just finish your food, yeah?”
“Narcissa,” said her father sternly. “Can’t you hear that your uncle Orion is speaking?”
Ron resisted the urge to stay and watch the rest of dinner, as Marwick’s face was going red at the bottom of the staircase, and he hurried after him to find that Andromeda and Sirius had gone up to Sirius’ bedroom, which had not yet been redecorated by his teen self, and was as dark and gloomy as the rest of Grimmauld Place.
“Tell me your secret, Andie! Tell me, tell me!”
Little Sirius was jumping up and down when Ron and Marwick entered the room, pulling at the sleeve of Andromeda’s velvet dress and making her giggle as she fell back on top of the metal frame bed they were standing next to.
“Yes, I will tell you,” she said, “but only after you’ve sworn that you won’t breathe one word about this to anyone. Not to your parents, or mine, or Regulus or Bella – even Cissy can’t know!”
“I swear it!” said Sirius quickly, and Andromeda smiled and leaned closer to him.
“There’s a boy that I like in school,” she almost whispered, and Sirius’ eyes widened in shock, and he gasped in surprise.
“No way!” he said, and Andromeda giggled and nodded. “Have you kissed him?”
“No,” Andromeda admitted, “but I may want to.”
“Do you think Cissy and Bella would tease you if they knew?”
The smile left Andromeda’s face at the question, and Sirius looked a little worried, as though he thought he had said something wrong. Then, shaking her dark curls from her face, Andromeda took a deep breath and said:
“Sirius, Ted’s parents are Muggles. If you tell anyone, my parents will probably murder me.”
“Then why do you like him?” Sirius wanted to know.
“Because he is kind,” Andromeda said. “And very clever – he’s in the year above me, but Professor Kettleburn says he’s the best he’s seen in ages at Care of Magical Creatures. Don’t you get it, Sirius? Mother and father and your parents, and Bella, and everyone we know have been lying to us. Muggleborns aren’t evil or dumb, and they are not trying to steal our magical powers from us.”
“But why would they lie?” replied her cousin, a wrinkle forming on his little forehead. “They’re our family.”
“Yes, but you and I are different from them, aren’t we?” Andromeda smiled. “And just because they’re our family now, it doesn’t meant that they have to be when we grow older.”
Suddenly, the room began to fade. Sirirus’ confused face was slowly turning into silvery smoke, and Ron’s consciousness was halfway back to the Auror Office when another place took over his visual field – they were in the Great Hall now, and a now grown up and very pregnant Andromeda was half crouching down as she stood in front of her parents, listening as they yelled at her.
“You,” spat her father, “are not my daughter! I want nothing to do with you or that filthy baby…”
Andromeda seemed to shrink in size and when she finally lifted her head, she looked over at her younger sister, who was clutching a parchment roll tied up with a green silk ribbon – this, Ron thought, must be her graduation day, and Andromeda, though she would have been married to Ted Tonks by then, must have decided to show up in lack of better judgement - or perhaps in judgement clouded by too much hope that it would not end up being a complete disaster.
“Narcissa,” she said now, breathing very slowly as she placed her hand on her stomach, “Cissy, come with me… You can stay with us, with Ted and I… You can get out…”
“Don’t – speak – to – her!”
Ron’s head flipped to the side, because Bellatrix had appeared just next to him and nearly given him a heart attack with her sudden, ice cold hiss. Andromeda, perhaps finally admitting defeat, cast one last beseeching look at her younger sister, who simply lowered her head and avoided her gaze, before turning around and walking away.
The memory dissolved into another. Andromeda, much older, around the age that Ron knew her to be, was at her home, staring out her living room window when she suddenly spotted something outside and jumped to her feet. Ron leaned forwards to look out as well and let out a sound of surprise when he realized that his own father was walking across the courtyard.
Andromeda greeted Arthur Weasley out on the porch. “Arthur! What is it? Is Nymphadora…?”
“She’s fine,” Ron’s father assured her. “But there’s something else I need to tell you, Andie. You may want to sit down for this…”
“Tell me now,” the woman demanded, and Arthur walked up to her, placing a hand on her shoulder as he broke the news to her:
“I’m afraid it’s about Ted, Andie. He’s dead. A couple of Snatchers got him – I just overheard some people at the Ministry discussing it. I'm so, so sorry...”
And Andromeda, though Arthur was trying very hard to hold her up, sank to her knees, wailing in pain, her entire body shaking. Arthur knelt down in front of her, tried to hold her together, but it was evident to Ron that she was falling apart anyway.
The final memory replaced the image of Andromeda falling apart for the first time. She was back in the Great Hall, her eyes searching through the chaotic aftermath of the Battle of Hogwarts. Teddy was only just a month old in her arms, with blue hair and tiny fingers grasping his grandmother’s long wisps of hair, which were tickling his face as her head span from one side to the other.
Suddenly, someone was grabbing Andromeda – it was a woman, but Ron didn’t know her, and she was directing her back out of the Great Hall, away from people bleeding and crying and searching for their loved ones. Ron didn’t look back over his shoulder, but he knew that further inside, his family would be gathered around Fred’s still body.
“Mrs Tonks,” said the woman who was still holding onto Andromeda, “I’m so sorry to have to show you this…”
And she stopped outside a classroom and allowed Andromeda to walk in first. Ron thought he was going to be sick when he followed her inside – there were rows and rows of bodies, all of them still and lifeless and battered and exhausted.
“No,” Andromeda said, “no, it can’t be…”
But there they were, right in front of her: Tonks, her eyes staring up the ceiling, a dried up trickle of blood covering half of her face. Lupin was right next to her, the upper half of his robes burned up but his face remarkably clean and calm, as though he was just sleeping.
“And this,” said Marwick next to Ron, who jumped, because he had forgotten that he wasn’t the only one watching all of this happen, “this is why I think Andromeda Tonks has started going after the Death Eaters. How could anyone go through all of this and not want revenge?”
Ron knew and Harry knew the real reason why Teddy was staying at the Potters' that night, but the rest of them didn’t, and so they didn’t discuss it. Instead, Ron willingly let the almost six-year-old teach him all he knew about a Metamorphmagus theatre group that his Grandpa Lyall had taken him to see, and how he was going to join them once he was out of Hogwarts, and Harry sat with Hermione in the couch while she held baby James, going on and on about how beautiful he was.
Ginny, lying sprawled out on the couch with her head in Harry’s lap, yawned and checked her watch before turning her head to look at Teddy and Ron. “Hey, bud,” she said. “It’s time for bed.”
“Can Uncle Ron put me to bed?” Teddy begged, and Ginny smiled.
“Sure thing. If you don’t mind, Ron?”
“No, of course not.”
When Ron returned about a half hour later, after letting Teddy talk him into reading two stories instead of his usual one, Hermione was still holding James, and had just begged Harry and Ginny to tell her all about what parenthood was like so far.
“Try not sleeping properly for four weeks, and you’ll know exactly what it’s like,” Ginny said.
And, though she didn’t say it out loud, being a mother meant no longer prioritizing showers, because she couldn’t leave James alone for too long, and when he was actually asleep or when Harry was at home to watch him, she just wanted to rest. During the last eight days, she hadn’t showered once – she cleaned herself up with her wand every day, so she didn’t smell, but her hair was an absolute mess, and it genuinely surprised her that Harry didn’t scream in fear at the sight of her when he got home from work every day.
Perhaps, she thought, he was too busy just looking at James to even notice her appearance. Truth was, she didn’t think she would ever tire of looking at him; when he was thirty and she was in her fifties, she would probably still want to spend entire days just staring at his perfect face.
“Yeah, it’s an adjustment,” Harry agreed, smiling down at James who was sleeping quietly in his godmother’s arms. “At least we don’t have to change nappies the Muggle way, though…”
“So when can you go back to Quidditch, Gin?” Ron asked, sitting down next to Hermione and leaning his head against hers. “Didn’t you say you had to wait about a month before you’d be able to start exercising again?”
“That would require me actually leaving James, though,” his siter replied, pushing herself up on her elbows and following everyone else’s example by starting to stare at the newest addition to the family. “You know I haven’t been away from him since he was born? Unless you count sleeping. And I haven’t even done much of that.”
“Well, you don’t need to rush, do you?” Hermione asked. “You could just take him on walks to start with, and I’m sure your mother wouldn’t mind being with you in Holyhead when you have trainings. That way, he woudn’t be so far away.”
Ginny smiled. “Yes, that’s a really good idea, actually… You know, Quidditch seemed so incredibly important to me before. But compared to James, nothing is that important anymore.”
Harry slid an arm around her waist. “Yes, I know what you mean…”
Hermione smiled at the way the new parents looked at each other before turning her head back to the little bundle in her arms. Her friends truly were the happiest she had ever seen them, and James had already won her heart too. She glanced over at Ron to find that he too was smiling at his nephew, and she couldn’t resist the urge to close her eyes and pretend, just for a second, that the baby in her arms were not her godson, but her actual son. She imagined that he would have much lighter hair than James, and perhaps Ron’s long nose, and Ron would look at him the way Harry and Ginny looked at James, and she would love him more than her work, more than anything she had ever loved before…
She opened her eyes again and smiled. It had taken Ron ages to finally propose to her, and she wasn’t expecting him to want a baby any time soon. But when he did, she thought, she would be more than ready for them to become parents too.
A/N: Thank you for being the amazing people you are, and for reading and reviewing and for being so unbelievably kind and supportive. We're almost 60 chapters in to the story and it still astonishes me how lovely all of you are and how lucky I am that you at some point decided that you wanted to try reading this. And that you continued to. It's incredible. Thank you so much.
I'd love to hear your thought on this chapter, if you have a moment to spare xxx
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