So the Catapults have made it to the finals of QLFC. YAY! It's kind of a funky chain orientation this time, so as player three for my team, I had to write a story that included an epistolary section, an epigraph, and the previous player's OTP (Andromeda & Ted, in Morgan's case).

I think that about covers it. Merry Christmas, everyone! I love you!

22 December 1997

"I'll be home for Christmas, you can count on me;
please have snow, and mistletoe, and presents by the tree.
Christmas Eve will find me where the love-light gleams.
I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams…"

- Kim Gannon, "I'll Be Home For Christmas"


Andromeda lifted her gaze from the small book she was scribbling in, and smiled at Dora, who had opened the door of the sitting room and leaned inside. Her pale, heart-shaped face was alight with a smile, though she had purple shadows under her eyes, as she had for the last several months, even after Remus had returned.

Her exhaustion notwithstanding, the pregnancy was going as well as could be expected; that is, as well as Andromeda could guess based upon her nurse's instinct and years of work at in the Magdalena Morrow Maternity Ward at St. Mungo's. But even there—and, of course, true to Dora's nature—Andromeda had never encountered a situation quite like her own daughter's.

Andromeda pulled off her reading glasses and folded her quill into the page of the book she had been writing in, setting it on a table beside her armchair. "Hello, darling," she said. "Do you need anything?"

Dora shook her head. "Remus is in the kitchen. I just wanted to tell you we'd got back from cleaning out Kingsley's flat. It's protected, and all's well for now." She seemed to sense that Andromeda found this to be a rather tense topic, so she brightened her tone and said, "You've been busy today, haven't you?" she asked, coming into the sitting room and smiling appreciatively at the sight of the silver, red, and gold-bedecked Christmas tree that now stood in the large sash windows that looked out on the back garden.

Andromeda waved the hand that was holding her glasses vaguely. "Well, I thought, why not? It was all here, anyway, and it's not as though…" she trailed off. She'd almost said, 'it's not as though we're waiting on anyone else to arrive,' but as the words had started to form, she found that she couldn't bring herself to say it.

Dora came closer to her chair and took her hand.

"How are you feeling?" Andromeda asked, clearing her throat to cover the moment.

"Fine," she replied, running a hand over the belly that was just visible under her robes. "The full moons aren't so bad anymore, you know."

"You're sure you want to travel all the way out to the Weasleys' house tomorrow?"

Dora nodded. "Ginny's just got back from Augusta Longbottom's, I've got to see how she's doing for myself, and it's easier for me to travel before the moon than after. We'll see you on Christmas Eve when Charlie comes to get you," she smiled, squeezing Andromeda's fingers. "You're sure you'll be all right without us here for a couple of nights?" They held each other's gaze for a long moment.

Andromeda blinked and looked away. "Don't look at me like that, darling, I'm not about to fall apart at any moment. Not yet, anyway," she added, with a brave attempt at a smile. The muscles felt rigid, sore, and unnatural in their movement, and she abandoned the effort quickly.

"I know that," Dora told her, "but…I miss him too, you know. And…we can talk about that, if you like."

Andromeda shook her head, blinking rapidly again. "No, that's—that's all right." She pressed a kiss to the back of Dora's hand and tried again to smile, this time achieving something slightly more relaxed, to her great relief. "Where is Remus, did you say?" she asked.

"He's cooking for us," Dora told her, with a lift of her eyebrows. "I'm going upstairs to have a rest, all right?"

"Of course," Andromeda said. "I'll call you for dinner."

Dora gave a little wave and retreated through the doorway of the sitting room again. Andromeda closed her eyes for a moment, and when she opened them again, she was momentarily dazzled by the glittering gold fairy lights on the Christmas tree. Her eyes watered, and she wiped away the wetness before replacing her glasses and reaching for her diary once again. She opened it up to her page and picked up her quill.

Today I put out the Christmas decorations. I thought of you, because I brought out those old Muggle records of your parents', and I found that garland of beads that Dora made us when she was little, from that kit that your mother sent her. Oh, and of course, I hung up the serpent ornament you gave me, for that first Christmas in the flat over Diagon Alley. That was twenty-five years ago! Remember Beatrice? I think she was the only cat that has ever warmed to me—

Andromeda hesitated, took a breath, and began a new line.

I wake up at night thinking of you, Teddy. I think about what you'd say if you could see our little girl, about to be a mother. I imagine what you'd say if I told you that if you were here, I would actually be willing to play one of your Christmas records.

Andromeda stopped writing and snapped the book shut again. She was writing in circles, writing words that she'd written out dozens upon dozens of times, in the dozens upon dozens of notebooks that were stacked up in her bedside cabinet.

The morning that he had gone, almost three months ago now, Ted had woken her at dawn by murmuring in her ear the promise they had made each other every summer of their Hogwarts years:

"I'll write you a whole book of letters, and I'll give it to you when we're together again."

Andromeda opened her notebook for the second time, and picked up her quill.

In a frozen clearing, not far from Tinworth, Ted Tonks sat up by the light of a dying fire. On his left lay young Dean, and on his right lay Griphook the goblin, both snoring impressively. Ted's quill scratched softly over the parchment of his much-abused notebook, the sound filtering through the snowy clearing they had chosen as their resting place for the night. If he'd paid attention to the days correctly, the day after tomorrow would be Christmas Eve, and that knowledge, like a knife in his stomach, fueled the last lines of his letter.

I hope you've got the tree up. I hope they haven't given you and Dora too much grief about me. Be strong, and don't worry about me, all right? I'm dreaming of you now more than ever, Andromeda. I'll be home to you, one way or another. Happy Christmas.