I've been thinking about this short little fic since I finished HBP…how would Ted and Andromeda react to their daughter's new romance? The title I took from a fabulous Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy film, which you should totally rent if you haven't seen. It's one of Spencer Tracy's last ones, and a really interesting look at race and prejudice, so I thought it might be apt for the prejudice against werewolves in Rowling's world, as well as an anti-muggle-born sentiment Andromeda and Ted probably faced.
Chapter 1- Coincidence
I ignored him, mostly because I knew what he was going to say, we'd been through it all before.
"Andy, you're stalking her."
"I am doing no such thing! I am merely running some errands in Diagon Alley, and should I happen to run into our daughter, well, that would be quite a coincidence."
"She's a big girl Andy. She's an adult. She's an Auror. You can't follow her around and make sure she's okay..."
He had a lot of nerve lecturing me! This from the man who scared off every boy she ever dared to let us meet, which was not many. Who lobbied for her to take a Ministry desk job because it was safer than Auror training. Who still dropped by her apartment periodically to make sure the locks and spells were sound. And he called me over-protective?
But I was worried, and Ted didn't fool me, he was worried too. As much as he might argue that she was an adult, and a capable one, Nymphadora was not herself, and hadn't been for months. I didn't want to push her, but it seemed to be getting worse rather then better. I had thought, at first, it was an extreme reaction to Sirius's death. She had been there, and naturally it had been a shock. But I never would have expected her to be so affected by it. It should be harder for those of us who still remembered him as a laughing little boy and a Hogwarts heartthrob, while to her, aside from some childhood memories, he was just the tortured man who had escaped Azkaban.
It had been over a year since then, and I no longer thought it was only that. She was unhappy, and with the events only a few weeks past, and the wizarding world still reeling from the death of Albus Dumbledore, and she was working such terribly long hours- well, what kind of mother would I be if I wasn't worried?
"And no doubt your errands will coincidentally take you by her office and her apartment and anywhere else you think she might be, until you find her?" Ted went on.
I shrugged as I fastened my cloak. "Well, coincidence is the damnedest thing Ted..."
She looked better. A lot better, I thought, as I stepped off the elevator into the Auror Headquarters, which coincidentally was right on my way to Arthur Weasley's office. I had borrowed a book from his wife some months before, and I had been meaning to return it. At least, that was the excuse I was using.
Of course, she had her back to me, so the only way I could tell she looked better was that she was going with purple that day for her hair, which was halfway down her back and a spot of bright color in the otherwise dull institutional office look the Ministry cultivated. Whereas most mothers would probably be a bit horrified if their daughter turned up with purple hair, I now took it in stride...she'd never been one to conform. Neither had I, for that matter.
She was talking to Kingsley. I've always liked the man, I think he's got a calming influence on her, and he saw me over her shoulder and smiled. Nymphadora turned, and looked, well...mortified. I suppose when you're an Auror, and in your mid-twenties, having your Mummy stop by to check on you at work is hardly impressive to your boss and co-workers. But then it's her own fault, if she'd just owl me more often I wouldn't have to worry.
While she tried to disappear, Kingsley came over and gripped my hand warmly.
"How are you Andromeda? How's Ted?"
"We're both well, doing very well. How are you holding up?"
"It's been busy times, but I'm doing just fine."
"Well, we haven't seen you in ages. I know you're busy but you really must come to dinner some time soon."
Nymphadora cleared her throat, and Kingsley gave me a wink. "Good seeing you Andromeda, I may just take you up on that dinner offer."
"Mum, what are you doing here?" she asked as soon as he was gone, looking a little desperate.
"Not what you think, I was dropping off a book for Arthur Weasley."
She didn't find that any more plausible than Ted had.
"But since I'm here anyway, why don't I take you to lunch?" I went on, transparently. "You've lost weight, are you even remembering to eat?"
She sighed, and then gave in. "Okay, but I'm taking you to lunch."
That's my girl.
I refuse to call my daughter by her surname. That's fine for her co-workers, but not her mother. After all, I gave her the name. I suppose it is an…unusual…choice. It's a family name, because I think it's good to remember where you're from, even if just to remind yourself how far you've come. Given my history, Ted was surprised when I wanted to give her a family name. Well, perhaps "surprised" doesn't adequately describe choking on his coffee and then staring at me with his mouth open before collapsing into hysterical laughter. I didn't speak to him for a good three days until he apologized. He's always called her Dora, and so did most of her Hogwarts friends. A good compromise.
"How's Dad?" she asked once we were seated at a small restaurant filled with Ministry staffers on lunch. They all looked busy, distracted, and overwhelmed, just like she did. And yet while I had expected to find her almost falling apart, she looked far better than she had in a year. She was still a bit too thin, a bit too pale, as though coming off a long illness. And yet she seemed her old self. She smiled again, and the smile reached to her eyes, she moved lightly again, there was a spark back in her eyes. Obviously, she wasn't having any trouble with morphing anymore. She hadn't mentioned she was having trouble of course, but I could tell, she hadn't had brown hair since she learned to change it.
"He's all right, busy at work. Tired. Worried about you."
She gave me an exasperated look. "Mum, really, I'm fine."
"I know, you look fine. In fact, you look ten times better than you did two weeks ago."
She became suddenly fascinated by the silverware. "It's been kind of a weird year. We're practically in open war. People are dying, disappearing…"
She was right, but that didn't explain her sudden turnaround.
"Actually though," she was still entirely focused on the table, as though she had never seen a fork before. "There was something I wanted to mention to you and Dad."
I waited. Like my family, and like Ted, she's never been one for personal conversations.
"I've kind of…been…seeing someone."
And in that moment it all became clear, and I wanted to both laugh and cry. It wasn't the war or her job…she was in love.
She had dated before certainly, but never anything serious. At least, nothing serious enough to merit admitting it to her mother. But I knew better than to embarrass her, to cry or hug her or do anything else so silly, so I sipped my water and pretended to be entirely unsurprised by her news.
"Well, do I get to know the name of this lucky young man?"
She blushed, creating an interesting contrast to her hair. "Well, I do want you and Dad to…meet him."
That was definitely a new departure. "Well, you could always invite him over to dinner. I'll make sure Dad behaves himself."
She smiled. "Thanks, Mum."
For someone who grew up with a full staff of house elves, it sometimes amazes me how domestic I've become. Despite that, I've never learned to like cooking, so Ted cooks, and I wash up. But as I told him about my lunch with our daughter, his attention was definitely not on the task at hand.
"Who's she bringing…?" he repeated, as the knife he was directing to chop vegetables got to the end of the cutting board and clattered on the floor. He tossed it in the sink and grabbed a clean one from the drawer.
"Some boy…man, I mean…she's seeing."
"She's seeing someone?"
"She's not a nun, Ted."
"I know that," he retorted. "It's just…you know. Do you think it's serious?"
I perched on the counter, well out of the range of the erratic knife.
"Well…when she was living at home we practically had to imperius her just to have the boy pick her up here. And this time I didn't even have to ask, she suggested it. That's something."
He was muttering under his breath.
"I seem to remember someone, just this morning, telling me she was a big girl, she could take care of herself…" I said airily. He gave me a look.
"This is different Andy," he explained seriously. "Who knows what this man's intentions are." He tipped the cutting board into a pan. "Dora is very young, after all."
"We were married and had her by the time we were her age."
He grimaced at that. "I just wish she wouldn't date until…you know…I'm dead."
"That might be expecting a bit much. You look pretty healthy to me." I set down my glass of wine and slid down off the counter to put my arms around his waist. "You will be nice, right?"
He sighed heavily.
"Ted? You will be nice to Dora's boy, right?"
Another heavy sigh, then, "Fine."