Written for DobbyRocksSocks
It was a beautiful day, Andromeda thought morosely. The sun illuminated and saturated the green of the trees, the blue of the skies. The grey of the graves.
She walked with slow, dragging steps. When she was younger, a part of her had yearned for old age. She'd wanted knowledge, to be able to look down at a grandchild with the mild smiles of someone who knew better, and to be listened to in her infinite wisdom.
(The Sorting Hat would have placed her in Ravenclaw, had it not been for her pleas.)
Now that she had gotten her wish, however, Andromeda smiled with the withered smile of someone who regrets a youthful wish. The flowers in her shaking hand rattled, and she stopped for a second. She was in no hurry; no one was waiting for her anymore. Ted lay alone in this plot, and she would soon join him. Her daughter lay with her husband in a different city, a city of heroes from the war.
Nymphadora belonged to a much wider circle of people, all of them claiming their own sorrow at her death. The whole of wizarding Britain could put a claim to her tragedy as they touristed through the list of fallen soldiers in the war.
Ted, however, was Andromeda's and Andromeda's alone.
That was, until a second shadow was cast over his grave.
"I'm so sorry for your loss." Andromeda didn't recognise Rabastan by his voice, but there was something in his intonation, a tenderness with which he said it, that left her in no doubt.
"You're four years too late, Lestrange."
"Am I only my surname to you?" He said it levelly, but she could smell the hurt feelings on him. A part of her angered at that.
"You are nothing if not your family, are you? Or did I miss the part where you made a life choice not dictated by them?"
She held up a palm to silence him. "I'm standing at my late husband's grave, Rabastan. I'm come here alone because my daughter can't visit. She was killed by a Death Eater. If you want my sympathies, you have to fix yourself a Time-Turner."
Waiting for just one heartbeat, she decided to leave if he wouldn't. Though slow, her movements were powerful, and a part of her hoped, ungraciously, that Rabastan would rot away at her husband's grave for what he had done.
One year later, Andromeda was walking towards Ted's grave again. There was a smell of churros and popcorn in the air because a carnival was in town and had set camp up not far away from the graveyard. The scents and distant noise mixed with the accentuated smell of grass after a recent shower of rain.
Andromeda inhaled deeply, her back stretching and straightening with each passing second. As she opened her eyes again, she saw it. It was a small bouquet of flowers she didn't know the name of; they were short-leafed and magenta, planted rather than placed. She inched closer, wary of a stranger's homage to her late husband.
Next to the flowers were a small note.
Ted, everything you stood for makes those who knew you proud. I'd wish I had been a stronger man, but I'm happy that when I failed, you were there. Rest in peace.
Something about the words touched Andromeda, and she bristled. These were clearly left by Rabastan, a man who knew he had no claim to her heart, yet dared lay such a message for her to find at her husband's grave. There was something appalling about the gesture, and she didn't feel comforted by the thought at all.
Looking up and around with a warring expression, hoping, daring him to be around, she stood up, and when he was nowhere to be seen, Andromeda decided to leave before he could be.
Already when she entered the graveyard, she noticed the flowers. They was the same magenta as had been planted last year, and her eyes trailed over the small path they formed. Walking in a brisk pace, she reached the grave, only to find a message spelled in flowers.
Here lies Ted Tonks. Here, in an unmarked graveyard, lies a war hero without a plaque. Here, under the summer sun, he's found his final resting place. May you find your peace too.
Without knowing why, Andromeda sank to her knees and began to sob. Big, painful gulps of air left and entered her body, her grief raking through it like tidal waves. She sobbed until she had no more air in her lungs, until the darkness sparkled with imagined stars, and she cried until she didn't think she could cry anymore.
"Andromeda, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to make you cry!" His voice, as desperate as his words, reached her as if through a veil. Slowly, steadily, they soothed her, and she removed the hands from her face.
It took her a long time to return to a state of normalcy, by which time Rabastan had dared put a tentative hand on her shoulder. She could tell he was shaking slightly, but she didn't look up. "Thank you for this."
Silence enveloped them for a few seconds.
"He was a brave man," Rabastan croaked. "I wish I had been too."
Andromeda heaved a breath. "It's not too late."
Rabastan, obviously taking that as a sign, said, "Andromeda, forgive me."
"I do commend you on your chosen act of bravery," she said wryly, grimacing playfully. She was too old for lover's games, but not for irony, it seemed.
A couple of seconds passed.
"Have tea with me," he said.