Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: Written for the Hogwarts Online Challenge of the Month: A New Start.
The moment she saw Kingsley Shacklebolt on her doorstep, she knew, because she saw it in his bleary, grief-stricken eyes, because there would only be one reason he would come to see her now – if there wasn't anyone else to break the news.
His robes were ripped, and there were large, red gashes on his left arm, a small trickle of blood dripping down onto her white carpet. Under any other circumstances, she'd have flown into a rage about the stain he was causing in her spotless house, but now, she hardly cared.
"Andromeda," he said, his normally calming, low voice an octave-too-high squawk. "I'm sorry. They – I'm here to..."
She wanted to snap at him, curse and yell and scream at him to spit it out already! But she was breathless with fear, anticipation, grief for the words she knew were going to come out of his mouth.
"Tonks – Nymphadora – and Remus... " He closed his eyes. "I'm sorry, Andromeda. They're… they're dead."
It was no surprise; she had prepared herself for it, but still she flinched, still her heart shattered into pieces, still she cried out as the last bit of hope she'd held so tightly, unwillingly, disappeared.
"Andromeda," he said, after a moment, his mouth gaping open, seeming at a loss for what to say. "If there's anything…"
She took a deep breath, feeling suffocated. "I just need… to be… alone."
She can hear his shaky footsteps, hear him deliberate, and at last, sighing, give in. "All right," he said.
The door closed, and her world, pieced together by mere threads – somehow, his presence had allowed her to hold it together – shattered, pieces of glass raining down upon her, piercing every inch of her skin (every inch of her heart).
Sliding slowly to the floor, she closed her eyes, expecting to find some solace there, some piece of calm, or darkness, to take shelter in, but she could find no peace, but only swirls and disconnected lines and shapes with odd angles, the faces, the people, she would never see again (not in this life).
Why was she always left behind?
How could she get up, now?
How could she go on?
It wasn't fair, she thought, knowing it was stupid, childish, because the world wasn't fair, and that was that. But most people never lost their families at all, and she had lost hers twice.
She recalled the way she'd waved, so ironically, at her family, the few belongings she cared about in her arms, before slipping easily out the door.
She'd cried that day, for them, even though she hated them, even though she knew they didn't love her all that much, not like they were supposed to. Ted had comforted her, for once serious, not cracking a joke, simply putting her big arms around her and letting her head rest on his shoulder.
He'd always been there for her, a solid rock, a sturdy foundation amidst all the turmoil, and now he was gone, and she could hardly stand for herself, was shaky, teetering on the edge…
She'd loved him so much.
She'd loved them all so much, and she suddenly wished she told them that more. Her long sharp nails dug into her palm, as she clenched her fist…
Nymphadora was never coming home. Her brilliant, shining daughter, with her vibrant hair and her noise and her messes and her clumsiness, would never knock over another of Andromeda's teacups. She was forever shattering things, forever breaking them… so this end was fitting, wasn't it, that her mother's whole world would fall to pieces as she left it?
How they'd argued sometimes, how many times they'd clashed in the kitchen while Ted glanced over his newspaper, rolling her eyes and chuckling. They'd disagreed over everything from the color of her hair to the state of her room to her name, Andromeda's cool disapproval, her levelheadedness, always serving as such a stark contrast to Nymphadora's fiery, carefree ways.
Her daughter had been so excited to be a mother – in her nervous, cheery, bumbling way. Her face had shone so brightly when she held Teddy for the first time, even framed by her tired, limp, blond hair. Giving birth had temporily robbed her of her Metamorphmagus powers. She'd had such great plans for him, when he grew up, and now, she would never get to see do any of it.
Nymphadora been a much better person, a better woman, than Andromeda knew she would ever be. She had not just left, when she saw something wrong, but had stood her ground and fought against it, not just in going off to fight at Hogwarts, but in joining the Order and being an Auror and loving Remus, the man she saw behind the werewolf.
Andromeda had been so disappointed, at first, when she saw her daughter's choice, an old tired man with poor, ragged robes and graying hair, and a terrible secret. She knew she was a hypocrite for it, but she couldn't help but be a little reserved with him, the first few times she met him, couldn't help but think that Nymphadora deserved someone better. She'd agreed, quietly, privately, when he'd blamed himself for Nymphadora's pregnancy, was glad when he seemed so intent on leaving.
She'd changed her mind, though, slowly, when she started to know him, and not just his appearances, as the small prejudices she'd harbored since her childhood slowly floated away. He was a brave man, and he loved her daughter, and when Andromeda watched his face light up when he held his son, the lines in his face seemingly erased, being the father he had never dared to hope he could become, she understood why Nymphadora loved him too.
She wished she'd gotten the chance to tell him she couldn't have asked for a better son-in-law.
She wished she'd gotten the chance to tell them all that – that she couldn't have asked for a better family.
Dissolving into tears, she couldn't fathom how she could ever go on, without them.
It had been several hours now since Kingsley had come, and she was lying in a heap on the floor, her legs stretched out in front of her at odd angles, her hair splayed on the carpet, her robes ruffled and folded, bunched up around her midriff, not properly covering her thighs. If anyone had entered the house, they surely would not have believed that it was her, Andromeda Tonks, looking like such a mess. She didn't care.
She had stopped crying, at last, and the house was very quiet (too quiet), and she had nearly forgotten she wasn't completely alone until the sniffling, thin cry of a baby pierced the silence. Still, she didn't move from the floor, letting his cries wash over her, unable to summon the strength to get up, unable to bear the world with this new Teddy, this new baby, this new Metamormagus, this new family… She'd done it all before; she didn't want to have to live through it again, to start anew.
But she couldn't leave Teddy crying by himself forever, so she got to her feet and brushed herself off the best she could and walked to his nursery, feeling as if it took an age to do so, each step an effort, a hardship.
Too little to know that she was no his mother, much less to know that he had become an orphan while he slept, he stopped crying when she held him in her arms, rocking him gently, as slowly, painfully, the world spun on.