A/N: I feel like Andromeda is an extremely underrated character. Her storyline isn't explored as much as it should be, and no one ever seems to realize the amount of loss she suffered over the course of both wars.
So I decided to write a little story about Andromeda at the end of the first war.
The news that shatters her world comes in a very ordinary way. Usually such changes do. The morning owl is routine, expected. In fact, it's a welcome bit of normalcy. Andromeda has always liked things neat and organized, color-coded and filed away in pristinely labeled boxes. The world has changed so much over the last few days. At least the post owls still run on time. Few things are that reliable.
She has been thrust, since the day before, the day their nameless enemy fell, from the uncertain anarchy of gloomy, dark war—a war they were losing, to be honest—into a similarly confusing state of victory. It's so sudden, so random, almost. One minute they're all peering into the abyss, and suddenly the danger is gone, vanished, erased. Leaving nothing but confusion in its wake.
Andromeda always hated chaos. But at least she has Ted. She has her daughter. She has Sirius.
She's always been a bit pessimistic as well, though, and she can't help but wonder if that danger is just lurking unseen. While the world celebrates in a whirl of fireworks and parties, she worries.
She has a reason to, seeing the names of the final martyrs in yesterday's paper. Too young to die, she's never met them, but she knows them through the only remaining member of the family she grew up with. Sirius told her he'd die rather than see his friends harmed. With Lily and James Potter dead, she fears for her cousin.
Ted has always told her not to worry so much. But every time she is anxious about something, her fears come true. This time is no different than the others. It's just much, much worse.
It's Ted who takes the paper. She is watching the tea kettle, appreciating this morning routine. No matter what happens, she and Ted will start the day with a cup of tea.
She knows something is wrong immediately. Before she turns to see her husband's pale, queasy-looking face, she hears his sharp intake of breath, hears the snap of hurriedly unfurled newsprint.
She turns away from the stove. His eyes bore into hers, wide and shocked.
"Ted, what's happened?"
He swallows, Adam's apple bobbing downwards. Her heart batters at her ribcage, pulse racing, racing, racing.
"Is it Sirius?"
A nod, shaky but still definite.
"Oh, God. He's dead. They've found him. He's dead, isn't he?"
His head shakes rapidly, jerkily.
"If he's not dead, what happened? Ted? Give me that."
She pulls the paper from his slackening grip, turning it over to look at the front page.
It takes a long, long moment for the headline to sink in. She sees the picture, yet does not understand. Until she finally does, and then the whole world tilts.
Surely the earth must have been jolted off its axis? This can't be all Andromeda, swaying legs, heaving stomach, whirling head. But she sinks against the cold, hard kitchen wall with its pretty blue tiles, and she knows she's almost fainted.
She can't look back at the paper, can't glimpse the exclamatory headlines, proclaiming the carnage that screams even louder from the photograph. But the words are seared in immortal letters across her eyes.
Her breath comes in short gasps, and she slides further down the wall. She hears her husband's rushing footsteps, in some blurred far-away plane of her mind. His strong arms encircle her, pull her up, hold her close.
She looks into his beautiful, familiar, wonderfully ordinary face, watching it blur in front of her, and all of a sudden the dam breaks and she's sobbing. Weeping, choking on ugly, messy tears, her face muffled in his pajama shirt.
His strong, capable hands cradle her head as if it's breakable. He murmurs into her ear, soft sounds of comfort like those he used when their daughter was a squalling infant.
"Hush, hush, hush."
His voice breaks by the end, and she knows he's blinking back his own tears.
"It's all right, 'Dromeda. It's all right."
The words are empty—it cannot possibly be all right—but their well-known sound still rings with some small, hollow comfort.
An eternity of their tears and his whispers later, she finally gasps out words.
"It's not true. It ca-can't be true. He w-wouldn't."
Ted holds her closer still.
"I don't want it to be true either."
"It—it has to be some sort of mistake. He was d-different. Not like—like Bella,"—the childhood nickname slips out in her shocked state—"not like the others."
Not part of the darkness. Trying to find the light.
She's crying too hard to speak again, thinking of her last hope, the only person in her family she could still love with regret or reserve. Lost now, just like her sisters, her parents, all the rest. Lost in darkness.
She's all alone now. Surrounded by darkness. One single, tiny light. She feels swamped, overwhelmed. So very isolated.
But Ted is holding her, close to his warm chest, to his own heartbeat. Ted lays his head across hers, smoothing her hair, running his thumb along her cheek. So she is not alone here, after all.
Inside her there's so much pain, so much grief and betrayal. Chaos. She always hated chaos. But at least she has Ted. At least she has her daughter. She doesn't have Sirius any more.