Author: Inkfire PM
She avoids eyes and reflections, straight and white, feeling cold... until the shell shatters, with just a few too many words, and all over again she loses everything. A one-shot for the "Ten" competition on the HPFC forum.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Family - Andromeda T. & Luna L. - Words: 2,033 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 1 - Published: 10-16-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7469460
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Here's a one-shot written for the "Ten" Competition on the HPFC forum =)
My prompts: querulous; Bibliophobia (fear of books); zephyr; Gnome; conundrum; Veritaserum; alphabet; Weasley Family Clock; Pink; Cacophobia (fear of ugliness).
My characters: Luna Lovegood; Andromeda Black (Tonks); Remus Lupin; Cho Chang; and Severus Snape.
I only kept Andromeda and Luna. Credit goes to the amazing Expecting Rain for the idea of Bellatrix ever having a relationship of sorts (I DON'T mean a ship!) with Luna during their time at Malfoy Manor. Curious? Check out Like a Lethifold. It's certainly way better than this ^^
"What are you doing here?"
The girl smiled angelically. "I just thought you might enjoy some company, Mrs Tonks."
She let her in.
"What a pretty house you have here," the girl breathed. "So homey. So full of warmth and love." She half-turned and smiled at Andromeda.
"Why are you telling me this, Miss Lovegood?"
Luna shrugged. "I just thought you ought to know," she said. "Teddy can be happy here."
There was a beat of silence, during which Andromeda breathed deeply and willed herself not to fall down and wail. She focused and watched the girl instead, the way her blonde hair floated when she moved her head, the curve of the odd butterbeer cork necklace against her thin neck, the way her small hands were held, half-curled and half-loose. Luna Lovegood was breathing regularly, freely and she smiled at Andromeda again.
"They told me not to come," she chirped, "to let you mourn in peace – "
"I would have quite liked that," Andromeda interjected.
"...but I told them there was no such thing as mourning in peace," Luna finished smoothly. "I won't be really long, regardless."
Andromeda stared steadily at her. "What is it you wished to say, then?"
"Oh, nothing set in stone," the girl said calmly. "I just thought you might be in need of a few words, and a human face."
The older witch blinked. "I have Teddy, Miss Lovegood," she retorted a bit dryly, "he's everything I need."
"No," Luna replied, her voice so soft and so sure that Andromeda hovered on the brink of interrupting, and finally let her carry on. "He's everything you need to be strong for, Mrs Tonks. But you can't find the strength in him. You have to find it in yourself."
Andromeda stared at her, everything in her still as a rock, yet unsteady and ever-so-slightly shaking. "How – what gives you the right to...?"
"Nothing!" Luna said at once. "Nothing gives me the right. Except, perhaps, yourself."
They stood there in silence. Eventually Luna sighed.
"What painful conundrums these are," she said, "life and death, fate. My father thinks it teaches us to live, or so it should be, but we cannot accept and handle it. And so it breaks us." She smiled softly. "It broke my father... but then he stood again."
"You were a child," Andromeda whispered, "when your mother died..."
"I was nine, and so I remember. She was beautiful. It is a curse to know, and a blessing," Luna whispered. "but you can help Teddy to know them, too."
Andromeda's lips were trembling. "Make-believe. Nothing can erase absence, or fill nothingness." She took one stumbling step forward and sank into an armchair. "How querulous you must find me! Have a seat, Miss Lovegood."
"Luna," she said, sitting gracefully. "My father and I, we live a little ways away from the Weasleys'. I went at theirs once. They have this clock... the Weasley Family Clock. Unique. I don't know how they got it, but... knowing where the others are, what they're going through, at all times... I find it fascinating. They're all so tightly bound..."
"Stop telling me about them!" Andromeda snapped harshly. "I don't want to hear it! What good does it do? Would you offer me a clock with one lonely hand? For when Teddy grows up? I don't need it!" She paused, breathing hard.
"I'm sorry," Luna responded, biting her lip. "They lost Fred..."
"Oh, poor Fred! Poor Weasleys!" Andromeda had a short, hysterical laugh. "One unmoving hand then, is it? They're all pointing towards 'mourning' by now? What a sad picture they must make! That poor, wounded family, those heroes!" She choked a bit, swallowing back tears, breathing deeply. "I am alone," she said then with venom in her voice. "Alone in an empty house, filled with the cries of a child who's not mine. He's my daughter's and she was stronger than I ever was, but she's gone. They're all gone. I take care of Teddy and I make my food and I clean the house and I kill the gnomes and every move I make is meant to carry on, let time pass me by. I have nothing, not even my pride. Don't tell me about the Weasleys. Please."
Luna was looking down. "I'm sorry," she said softly. "Should I leave?"
"No," Andromeda snarled, "you came here and made me talk. I'd held back those tears for weeks now. Stay and face the consequences of your actions."
There was another silence, then Andromeda spoke again.
"If they heard me now, they would point their wands at me and take Teddy away," she breathed. "Look at you, pale little blonde princess, who came all the way here to bring me some humanity, and I'm taking it out on you. Poor little child. Poor motherless hero, pink cheeks and candid eyes. I don't want to see you. You are pure and I am wretched. Anger makes me like her." She gasped a little, but kept talking convulsively, "I am not like her. I haven't been for years. But I am no hero, no good person. Don't comfort me."
Luna didn't look up from her hands, tightly pressed together in her lap. "You're not like her," she said quietly. "I can tell you that better than anyone else."
"We both are ruined," Andromeda said harshly. Then she was quiet, as though shell-shocked by her own words.
Luna looked up. "Even ruined, you can still be selfless."
"Oh no, child, not for much longer. Believe me."
Andromeda stared steadily away, through a window across the room at the misty countryside. "How can one be selfish or selfless when they don't know who they are anymore?" she droned. "I thought my choices made me who I am. But I was quite wrong, they can't fully change me."
"They do," Luna started, "you are Tonks' mother, Ted's wife – "
"And despite my every choice, my every word and my every reluctant loyalty, am I not Bellatrix's sister still?" Andromeda cut her off. "You are an only child, little girl. I swear to you, when I heard that my sibling had murdered my daughter... I would have needed Veritaserum at least, to find out whether I had the strength to be relieved by her own death. But I had rather ignore the truth. I still do..."
Luna reached out to touch her hand. She cringed away.
"She still loved you," she finally said, "enough for the hatred to burn."
Andromeda looked up incredulously. "What did you say?"
Luna swallowed. "She talked to me sometimes," she whispered. "I've never told anyone. She came down those stairs – I was very often awake, but Mr Ollivander slept. She didn't torture us much. Not at night. She asked me what was going through my head... while I sat there sleepless..." Luna's breath caught slightly as she repeated the exact words, her voice low and shaking, a hoarse whisper. "She was a lost woman, a monster in ways. I think she was also very haunted, very angry – and very alone."
Andromeda was trembling, hands raised halfway to her mouth. "Did she miss me?" she croaked brokenly before crying out in a hurry: "I don't want to know!"
"Betrayal made her so angry," Luna murmured regardless, "but I could always tell when she was thinking about you. She shook the way you shake now. I never saw her cry – perhaps she would have killed me – but it went pretty close, a few times... I think..."
She went quiet for a while. Andromeda was frozen, hugging herself tightly. She did not try to touch her this time. Instead she said:
"You were so different. She liked what was odd, and what was beautiful. What was ugly fascinated her. But she liked destroying things... you prefer living with them."
"She always dealt with extremes," Andromeda choked, before taking a deep breath. "We were opposites. When I was a little girl, I couldn't stand ugliness. It scared me, distressed me... my parents called it cacophobia and praised themselves for what was supposedly an innate sign of our superiority and elegance. She did mock me... but she saw that beauty made me edgy and uncomfortable as well, like I didn't belong. She didn't understand it, yet she accepted."
"That was the time when she could still accept," Luna echoed.
Andromeda gritted her teeth. "I don't know what I'm doing. Am I mourning her? I did that so many years ago..."
"Could you ever talk about her?" Luna quietly countered.
There was no response.
Andromeda slowly shook her head.
"It's because of Dora," she whispered, "that I can't sleep or read or smile at Teddy, that everything else comes crashing down on me. A mother losing her child – so – unnatural. She turned the world upside down." She bit her lip. "She's always been known to do that. Surprisingly, I didn't mind then."
"I didn't know her much," Luna said.
"That was your loss. She was incredible. So quick-witted, adorable, full of light, she was like the sun... She wasn't much like me. We were opposites – "
Andromeda stopped mid-sentence.
"The irony," she breathed.
"She was her own person," Luna reminded her.
"Oh yes, one of a kind. If only..."
She didn't finish.
"So you can't read anymore?" Luna probed. "My father read a lot... it helped him forget. Helped him leave himself, his own feelings behind..."
"I can't. I can't leave it all behind. It is in me, every part of me. Every story seems silly and fake, every lesson a self-satisfied hypocrisy. Whatever ends well is a lie and whatever turns badly... well. But reading made me anxious anyway. Losing time I might never grab again..."
"Bibliophobia," Luna mused. "I hope it doesn't last..."
"I do. Books make me think of Ted."
"That's a bad thing?"
"On top of everything else? Yes."
"I understand. Teddy will need books though," she pointed out.
Andromeda started laughing shrilly. "What, to learn the alphabet? Children's books I can do. I was only speaking for myself."
Andromeda was watching her in silence. "I'd like you to leave, Miss Lovegood."
Luna stood gracefully. "If you ever want me to come back, you can write."
"I'll see your name in your father's newspaper. I think it'll be quite enough," Andromeda said shortly. "But perhaps I'll write," she amended.
"You read my father's newspaper?"
"It makes very nice dung. And sometimes it makes me smile. That's good for Teddy, I suppose."
She'd opened the door.
"Now, before we let the breeze in... if you don't mind..."
"Oh, no worries, that's zephyr. The gentlest wind, husband of the rainbow. What it touches only fructifies."
Andromeda, puzzled for a second, pulled herself together.
"Indeed, indeed. Now, if you would..."
Luna danced through the threshold, smiling at the older woman with true warmth.
"Goodbye, Mrs Tonks."
"Thank you," Andromeda muttered, and then slammed the door.
The breath she let out was a painful gasp, aching, longing, broken.
The zephyr thing came from the Greek god Zephyrus, the gentlest of winds, fructifying, and husband of Iris, goddess of the rainbow. It sounded quite the Luna thing to say =)