Disclaimer- I do not own any characters from Harry Potter. The lucky person that does is J.K Rowling.
Italics are flashbacks and emphasis on words.
Andromeda Tonks sat quietly on the porch in an elegant white wicker chair. It was around six o'clock in the evening in the middle of July. The overhanging of her back porch, with only a few glowing golden streams of sunlight allowed to pass through, blocked the sun. The light illuminated the right side of her face.
She had always thought idleness like this was a sin. In her youth, she had been active, and while still relatively young (especially in wizard standards) she seemed unusually exhausted. Maybe it was because of everything that had been happening over the past few weeks.
It had been a few weeks ago, in mid-June that her daughter Nymphadora had come to her with rather disturbing news.
"Wotcher, Mum," her daughter greeted her as she walked in to her kitchen while she washed dishes and cooked dinner.
"Hello, Nymphadora dear," Andromeda greeted cheerfully, beaming at her child. Her smile faded, however, when she had a good look at her daughter's features.
Nymphadora had bags under her gray eyes; her natural mousy-brown hair was pulled back in to a messy ponytail. Her skin was of a pallor color.
"What's wrong, dear?" Andromeda asked, pocketing her wand in the front of her apron.
Nymphadora gave her a miserable look as she sat herself down at the table. Her lower lip trembled slightly and her eyes looked troubled. "Mum, did you hear…about…well anything?" Her voice quavered slightly.
"Be specific, love," Andromeda sighed in exasperation, pulling out a chair and sitting diagonally from her daughter.
"Sirius is dead."
Andromeda had not wept when she had heard the news. She remembered growing tense, wrapping her arms around her body to hug herself, and her mind going numb with shock.
It was all Andromeda could feel: numb shock.
Her little cousin was dead. Gone. There had even not been a body to prove he had passed on. Little Sirius…
"Aaandrooomedaaa!" he said in a singsong voice as he skipped into the main living area of Number 12, Grimauld Place.
"Oh, what do you want?" Twelve-year old Andromeda snapped, pretending to be angry, but the corners of her lips gave herself away.
He plopped down right beside her and sat Indian style, with his elbows resting on his knees and his chin resting on his fists. "What's Hogwarts like?"
"Wonderful," Andromeda sighed.
"What if I don't get in to Slytherin?"
"You will," she said reassuringly, and patted his head. "You have a few more years yet, don't worry about it."
"Well if I don't get in to Slytherin, I hope Mother's not too mad at me," he said, looking worried for a moment, but it was brief. "When are you leaving?"
Andromeda glanced at the grandfather clock. "Hmm, soon, I guess. Why don't you go and play with Narcissa? Or Regulus?"
"Because Narcissa's mean and Regulus is dumb. He's always tired," he pouted, sticking his lower lip out. "He's sleeping. In my bed."
"Well, he's going to be six next week, maybe he won't be as tired because he's getting to be a big boy," Andromeda told him, ruffling his hair. "And I guess Narcissa sees you as below her because you're younger. She is nine."
"I'd still rather play with Bella."
Amdromeda laughed out loud.
There was a brief silence as Andromeda just sat beside him on the floor as she ran her fingers through his thick, black hair as he lay down on his stomach.
"Andromeda?" he whispered, almost hesitantly.
She paused in stroking his hair. "Hmm?"
"Are you ashamed of me? Cause I'm littler than you?" he asked quietly.
"No!" she said and he sat back up. "No, of course not! I'd never be ashamed of you."
"Ever?" he asked, a hopeful look in his eyes now.
"Never ever," she promised, drawing him in to a tight embrace. "You're my favorite cousin, after all."
"And you're mine, too!" he hugged her back.
"Oh gag me," a voice said in the doorway. Both cousins detached themselves from each other to see Bellatrix standing there, leaning against the doorway, her long, thick, dark curtain of hair hanging over her shoulder.
"Hello, Bella," Andromeda said cheerfully.
Bellatrix rolled her eyes. "Hello Andy. Hello Sirius. Come on, we're leaving."
Andromeda stood up, followed by Sirius. She gave him a briefer hug and a kiss on top of his head. "Don't ever change, Sirius."
He looked confused as he followed her to the doorway. "Why would I?"
But Andromeda just smiled and shook her head, walking through the doorway towards the entrance hall.
Bellatrix's lip twitched, but she forced the smile back. She ran a hand through Sirius's hair and patted his head.
"Take care," she said, making to follower her younger sister. "We'll be back for Regulus' birthday."
And she turned and left too.
Once they were out of earshot, she whispered out of the corner of her mouth to her sister, "I'm overly fond of that boy. He'll make us all proud one day."
Sitting there as the sun began to set, Andromeda realized that she had lost them all. She had lost her sisters years ago when she married Ted, she had lost her baby cousin nearly sixteen years ago to Voldemort, and now she lost the one relative she had been closest to.
She told him never to change.
But over the years, she began to notice the differences, the darker side of his personality. There was no bright and cheery Sirius.
"Why do you have to go?" Regulus whined to Sirius as he stood beside Andromeda while she said her goodbyes to her aunt and uncle before she boarded the scarlet steam engine. "Why do you have to go? Who's going to play with me when you're all gone? I don't want to play with Kreacher!"
Bellatrix snorted. "And I don't blame you, either. But what are you, four? Play? Get a grip, darling Regulus! It's only a year."
His fair cheeks blotched slightly with pink. He was always fascinated yet frightened of his oldest cousin Bellatrix, whom was in her final year of Hogwarts now.
Andromeda gave her sister a reproving look. "We'll be back for Christmas. Don't worry, we'll play all the Christmas games you want when we come back."
Regulus nodded and then hugged her fiercely.
"And we'll have Christmas poppers?" he asked, his voice slightly muffled in her robes.
"Of course!" Andromeda said cheerfully, ruffling his hair and pulling back from him.
Bellatrix ran a hand through Regulus' hair, something she was wont to do with both him and Sirius, and made off to find her Slytherin friends. They all saw her greet Lucius Malfoy, her fellow seventh-year.
Andromeda's mother grinned. "Well look at that. I see a future, respectable marriage in the brew." She told Sirius's mother.
"Hmm," her aunt replied before turning to her oldest son and squeezing his shoulder. Her husband had his hand on his other shoulder and said, "Make me proud, boy."
Sirius' shoulders slumped as he nodded.
Andromeda gazed out into her back lot as she continued to sit in idleness, her hand bunching the robes at her legs in a futile attempt to quench the sudden trembling of her fingers.
Bellatrix grabbed her hand, pulling her with as she walked through the crowd of Slytherins gathering at their table in the Great Hall. Andromeda had no time to protest as Bellatrix called out to their younger sister.
"Cissy! You will sit with the uppers today!" Bellatrix said, gesturing to her and Andromeda.
Narcissa frowned, turned to her friends and shrugged, moving her way to sit to the right of Andromeda, placing her sit in the middle.
"Ohh! I'm so excited!" Bellatrix said, uncharacteristically over-happy. She squeezed Andromeda's hand with her own. "Our own cousin! About to be sorted into Slytherin!"
Narcissa even smiled, her blue eyes sparkling. "Yes, I think he'll make the family proud."
Andromeda grinned. Narcissa had always acted indifferent towards her younger cousins.
The first years filed in to the hall, Sirius among them. He was silent and withdrawn; a skinny boy with glasses and untidy hair was elbowing him in the ribs, pointing at the ceiling. To her left, Bellatrix snorted softly.
Sirius was the second one to be called for the school sorting. He sat on the stool as Professor McGonagall set the ragged Sorting Hat on top of his head.
The Hat did not declare his house right away as it had for the first student. Bellatrix's excited smile faded as she stared at the eleven-nearly twelve-year-old boy. Narcissa's lips quirked down in a frown, and even Andromeda felt puzzled.
The Hat should have declared him a Slytherin by now.
Bellatrix released her hand.
Andromeda had watched during her final two years at Howarts as he became less withdrawn with the people around him. She remembered how she saw him and that skinny black-haired boy with the glasses walking down the halls with two other boys. When the years went by, she knew that Sirius and James Potter (she learned his name later) had become inseparable—almost like they were brothers.
Andromeda had felt sorrow because she knew that James had ultimately and forever replaced Regulus. She knew that Regulus had resented that and it had hurt him deeply, no matter how much Sirius tried to talk to him like they used to. Regulus believed that everything would be better if he stuck to the Black family's beliefs.
It had gotten him killed in the end. She heard he couldn't handle it anymore.
Andromeda was about to knock on Regulus' bedroom door, when she heard voices arguing silently inside.
"I can't," Regulus said, a pleading note in his voice as if he wanted the other person to stop.
"Regulus you have to show them that you don't need to be a Slytherin to be worthy!" Sirius hissed back. "Don't feel pressured in to being sorted there if it doesn't suit you! You're better than that, I know it!"
"I just can't turn my back on them!" Regulus argued back.
"This isn't turning your back on them!" Sirius said exasperatedly, "This is standing up for yourself! How are you ever going to be independent if you shape yourself in to what they want you to be?"
"I just can't," Regulus replied, with a note of finality in his tone. Andromeda swiftly made her way down the stairway before Sirius had opened the door.
Andromeda had always thought that the world was to Regulus. He did not have as nearly a strong personality as Sirius had, and he had always been afraid of being in danger of becoming disowned. She had known he was not evil at heart, despite what he might have done to get himself killed from by his own peers. He did not do well under pressure.
There had been talk between the old pureblood families that the vivacious Bellatrix Black and the handsome, cunning, and extraordinarily rich Lucius Malfoy were to be wed.
Andromeda, now in her seventh and final year at Hogwarts, sat between her older and younger sister. Her rich, dark brown was pulled away from her face, so that it was out of her blue-gray eyes.
"Rumors are circulating that there is something going on between you and Lucius," Andromeda said casually as she watched the young man from across the room engage in a deep conversation with Evan Rosier.
Bellatrix's dark gray eyes flashed. "Please," she sneered. "Why would I go off marrying that snobbish whelp? Sure, he's pureblood, sure he's from old money, and sure he's not that bad looking. But no thank you."
"Why ever not?" Narcissa asked with puzzlement, trying to contemplate whom in their right mind would refuse that kind of man as a husband. She tucked a blonde curl that had escaped her bun behind her ear.
"I'm not that crazy about blondes," she stated simply. Narcissa huffed and gave her an incredulous look while Andromeda stifled a chuckle behind her hand.
"Well, you better start thinking about potential future husbands," Andromeda advised with a smile, "Before all the good ones run out. You might end up with either a perverted old croon or a Rookwood."
"Hmmph, I'd like to see a man who could handle my strong personality," Bellatrix sniffed, pointing her nose in the air as she crossed her legs and arms simultaneously.
"What about Lestrange?" Andromeda imputed slyly, "The elder brother—Rodolphus—he's been eyeing you rather lustfully all throughout the evening. And he's not blonde, that's a plus for you right?"
Bellatrix snorted derisively. "Him? That arrogant ass? He's worse off than Malfoy and a Rookwood combined."
"But the Lestrange family is nearly as ancient and as wealthy as the Malfoys and the Blacks," Andromeda argued. "And really, Rodolphus is good-looking; dark brown hair, dark eyes, medium complexion—he has a handsome face. And he lacks pockmarks too."
Bellatrix gave her sister a death glare. It would have frightened Andromeda had she not been used to them. "You need to shut your moth and remember your place, little sister."
Andromeda shrugged. "Just making conversation, Bella."
Bellatrix looked up at the speaker under heavy-lidded eyes. It was Rodolphus Lestrange, whom seemed to have made his way stealthily over during their argument.
"You shall refer to me as Miss Black only, Mr. Lestrange," she said coldly.
He smirked, his dark brown eyes glinting in the dim candlelight. "Fine, Miss Black. Now, would you care to dance?"
She glared up at him, until finally her lips quirked up in a small, satisfied, smirk. "If you insist."
Before she knew it, Andromeda had made her way to the small attic over her house. The floor was layered in an inch-thick layer of dust, and she quickly flicked her wand to banish it away before proceeding.
Making her way to a part of the attic that was particularly shadowy, Andromeda kneeled before and old trunk. The initials of AB resided on the trunk in elegant, curvy letters. There was also a serpent, which represented her house at Hogwarts, and the Black family crest.
Running her slender fingers over the inscriptions, Andromeda fingered the lock before tapping it gently with the tip of her mahogany wand. Instantly, she heard the mechanics inside the iron lock click open.
She opened the lid gently, coughing slightly as a musty smell came from within. Andromeda then peered inside, carefully removing a few items before taking out a large green scrapbook that was charmed to keep in perfect condition.
Slowly and with great care, Andromeda opened it. Inside the pages resided newspaper clippings, imputed with captions that were written on the page in her own loopy script.
She smiled slightly as she skimmed over a few short articles; ones that mentioned briefly of the marital unions between Bellatrix Black and Rodolphus Lestrange, Narcissa Black and Lucius Malfoy, and her own name and her husband's: Andromeda Black and Theodore Tonks.
She turned a few pages, noticing that a few articles were about old school friends, but she ignored them for the most part. She was intent on the family of her past at the moment and not her friends.
She paused suddenly when a headline caught her eye. It wasn't a large title that stood stark out in the page; rather it was a small bold print, slightly larger than the font of the article that caught her attention. The passage was part of an article that had not quite made it to the front of the front page of the Daily Prophet, as it was deemed unimportant compared to other events.
Regulus Black Found Dead
Her hands trembled; so slight that even she did not notice it at first.
Andromeda stared up at the face of Sirius Black. He had grown extraordinarily handsome, and if the rumors were true, he was unusually brilliant too. His black hair framed his face, slightly longer and a bit more untamed than what she was used to. Two days worth of stubble adorned his smooth, angular face, and the beginning of dark circles were forming under his eyes.
He looked exhausted.
She closed the front door behind her with a snap, stepping out further on her front porch. She had not allowed him inside her home.
"You can't stay here long," she told him regretfully, keeping one hand on the doorknob behind her.
He flashed her a strained smile. "Are you afraid of me, Andy?" he used the affectionate term of her name.
Her eyes narrowed. "You know that I can't risk anything, Sirius," she snapped at him a little more harshly than she wanted to. She softened her tone a bit before continuing, "I don't want to draw attention to my family."
"Bella isn't going to kill you," he told her softly, crossing his arms against his chest.
"No," she agreed, "but the Dark Lord wouldn't hesitate to murder Ted or Nymphadora."
He nodded, his face oddly blank. "I understand. I just thought that you ought to hear it from a loved one rather than the tabloids."
She swallowed the forming lump in her throat and nodded. "Yes, thank you. Now, let me grieve in peace, and you can mourn him your own way too."
"Why would I mourn him?" he snapped back harshly.
"Because he's your brother, no matter how much the two of you grew apart," she retorted, fixing an irritant scowl on to her face. "And you look terrible. You haven't shaved, you haven't trimmed your hair, and you're developing bags under your eyes."
He was silent for a moment. "There are other things going on with my life that are causing me stress, Andromeda."
She looked after him sadly as he turned around, making his way down the steps and heading in the direction where he parked his motorbike.
"He loved you, Sirius," she called after him, noticing that he paused slightly in his steps before continuing without another word. "The one thing he hated most in the world was your disappointment in him," she added softly to herself. Sirius took off down the street on his motorbike.
She choked suddenly, her hand flying to her mouth to stifle the noise. She was shaking badly, her shoulders hunching over as she leaned down and touched her forehead to the surface of her old school trunk. Her eyes were screwed shut, trying desperately to hold back the first tears she had in years.
A shaky, quiet cry escaped her lips before she could stop it. And then suddenly, she let it all out. She didn't want to pretend anymore.
It had been sixteen years since his 'own' people had killed Regulus. She didn't know the full story, nor did she think that she wanted to.
It had been fifteen years since Sirius had been carted off to Azkaban, the image of the black and white version of him laughing insanely burned in her image for all eternity. The image of the affect Azkaban had on his handsome features had tormented her dreams after learning of his escape. She remembered how ashamed she felt after hearing of is arrest, after she had promised him so many years ago that she would never have those feelings towards him.
Bellatrix had fallen in to madness years ago, the moment she started serving the Dark Lord.
It had been ten years since she had a full conversation with Narcissa, her only relative that was within reach, but refused contact.
Wiping the last of her tears away, Andromeda remembered how loving one so much could cause her so much pain. Her heart broke when they all went their separate ways, but she strived on.
So in a way, Andromeda thought as she closed the scrapbook and carefully replaced it in the trunk, they were all dead to her. She closed the trunk with a snap, locking it with her want.
They were her past, and they would stay there forevermore.