Author's Notes: Written for ReillyJade's After the Battle Challenge on the HPFC forum.
Pick a character (good or evil) who survived the Second Wizarding War, and write about how they're spending the night immediately following conclusion of the Final Battle. So...battle ends in the early morning, the day is spent in doing whatever wizards do after a war, yadda yadda...what happens when that night comes? Are they mourning, celebrating, or a bit of both? Are they alone or with someone special? What are they thinking about?
200TH FIC, WOO HOO! I could wax philosophical about how I've changed since I started out here, but that would take up many pages…
For my 100th fic, I wrote Bellamort, so it was really only appropriate that number two hundred should be Black Sisters. Enjoy!
In her little home, far away from Hogwarts, Andromeda Tonks sat in a rocking chair and held her grandson. Little Teddy tugged at her long brown hair, gurgling happily as she sang lullabies to him. The pain of Ted's death was still fresh in her heart, but having her grandson with her did help a little. New life replacing old and all that.
Then there was a knock at the door.
Andromeda jolted, almost losing her grip on Teddy – though, fortunately, he was clinging to her so tightly he barely moved. There were protective enchantments on the house, she had overseen them herself, how could anyone have found her. Unless… unless Tonks had told someone. But why would Tonks have told anyone?
Her stomach twisting into a knot, Andromeda lay Teddy in the cradle, picking up her wand and starting for the door. He heart pounded as she peered through the window, looking at the person who had knocked.
In the darkness, Andromeda did not recognise the person. She – it was a she, that much Andromeda could tell – was wearing a hooded cloak, and her face was quite hidden in shadow. But Andromeda thought she saw a strand of the woman's hair fluttering in the wind.
She glanced around to be sure there was no one else, then flung the door open and aimed her wand directly at her little sister. "What are you doing here? Get away."
Narcissa trembled, like a delicate leaf clinging to its branch in a windstorm. She lowered her hood, and in the light from inside, Andromeda saw tears staining her pale cheeks. "Andi…"
"What is it?" Andromeda asked sharply. "How did you find me?"
"I – your –" Narcissa stammered, looking afraid. She seemed so young… no, Andromeda reminded herself. She's old enough. She's not your baby sister anymore. She gave that up years ago.
"Your daughter told me," whispered Narcissa. "She… she told me… I had to go tell you–"
"Tell me what?" Fear choked Andromeda's throat. What could possibly have happened to Dora that would necessitate telling Narcissa where Andromeda was living?
"She – she was– she didn't want you to hear it from anyone else–"
A fresh tear rolled down Narcissa's face, and she whispered, "She's dead."
Andromeda's worst fears were confirmed. She stumbled backwards, falling onto the couch, shock overcoming her. "No… no…" Dora could not be dead, Dora was immortal, Dora could never die, she was too alive for that…
"I'm sorry," Narcissa whispered, and Andromeda could not find the words to order her out when her sister stepped inside to sit beside her and take her hand. "I'm so sorry…"
"Why– why did she tell you? Why not Remus, why not Harry–"
"Because I was there," said Narcissa, and Andromeda thought she had never heard her sound that bitter. "I saw her, bleeding out on the ground. I tried to– to help…"
"Because she's my niece!" Narcissa cried. "She's my niece, you're my sister! I couldn't just leave her!"
"That never seemed to bother you before," Andromeda spat. "You never had a problem with leaving me before, why should Dora have mattered to you at all?"
Narcissa's face crumpled, her lip trembling. "I… I just wanted to help…"
"As if! You've never helped anyone in your life!" Andromeda's voice rose, nearing a shout. "You've never done anything like that, what's the difference now? Why did you come here at all, why didn't you tell our precious older sister where I was and send her in with her wand–"
Andromeda broke off, for Narcissa had buried her face in her hands, and was positively shaking with tears.
"Bella–" Narcissa sobbed. "I– I can't tell Bella– anything!"
"Why not?" Andromeda had the distinct sensation of falling, for she was quite sure she knew what the answer would be.
"Because– because– she's dead too."
Even though she had expected it, the news hit Andromeda like a punch in the stomach. The air was knocked out of her, and she could not breathe, nor form words, nor even think. Bellatrix, dead… that was an even more foreign idea than Dora's death. Bellatrix – the mere thought of Bellatrix, even the threat of Bellatrix – had been a constant in Andromeda's life, ever since they were born. She had never known a life in which she didn't know Bellatrix, in which Bellatrix was not alive and lying in wait somewhere. And now…
"The Death Eaters lost the battle." Narcissa's voice was bitter. "The Dark Lord is dead. That's what you wanted, is it not? Bellatrix is dead with him, I'm sure that makes you happy."
"How can you–" Andromeda began, but she couldn't finish the sentence. How can you think that? Of course Narcissa thought that. But, for everything, as she sat there, numb from the two combined strikes, Andromeda could not dig deep enough within herself to find a part of her that wanted Bellatrix dead. She had never wanted her big sister dead…
"I'm sorry," Narcissa whispered. "I shouldn't have told you. I should have let you read their names in the Daily Prophet. I'll go."
She stood, and started for the door, but stopped, looking back at the cradle. "That's…"
"Dora's son," murmured Andromeda.
"My… my great nephew…"
He can't be your great nephew when you never acknowledged Dora as your niece, Andromeda thought, but there was no passion behind the sentiment.
Narcissa turned around, looking Andromeda dead in the eye.
"I wish it were different," she whispered. "I wish you'd never left. I wish Mother and Father had let you marry Ted. None of this would have happened."
It wasn't true, both of them knew that, but Andromeda could see the conviction in Narcissa's face. She believed, right to her core, that if Andromeda could have married Ted without needing to run away, everything would have been fine.
As if propelled by a force outside herself, Andromeda found herself standing, going to her sister's side without being aware of movement, and then her arms were around Narcissa, and she was clinging to her as tightly as she could, and tears were rolling down her cheeks as the two women held each other in the darkness.
Narcissa trembled in Andromeda's arms, her tiny, frail body heaving with tears, and Andromeda buried her face in her little sister's hair and cried for all that they had lost.