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Minding the Baby

Minding the Baby

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Four Elements
Here's a post-DH story that was meant to be pure angst, but didn't stay that way.  Warning:  Parts of this story have successfully passed the Rhetor Angst Test.  Don't say I didn't tell you.

Genre: Angst, with a little fluff.
Category: Post-DH
Length: 3,130 words
Warnings: DH Spoilers; reminders of character death; sorrow.
Summary: Under the cut, to avoid spoilers.
Summary: Andromeda is left alone with Teddy, or so she thinks.
Minding the Baby
by Rhetor
The angry green flames seem to consume Kingsley as they take him. When he’s gone, the hole he leaves in the air somehow feels bigger than he was. What an important constituent I’ve become, thinks Andromeda dully, staring at the fireplace. The new Minister of Magic himself. One death, and they send an Auror to tell you. Two, and they send a Department Head. Three…
The murderous sister she hasn’t seen in a generation. The gentle, scholarly, sad, haunted man who entered their lives so recently and changed them so completely. And Dora…
Dora. Andromeda puts her knuckle in her mouth.
Dora, my little Nymphadora... Dora, who hated her name. Dora, who dressed so badly and spoke so sloppily. Dora, who never paid attention to her own feet – so many bruises to heal over so many years. Dora, who chose the most dangerous job in the world, as if a mother doesn’t worry enough. Dora, who rushed out the door like a mad thing, chasing the husband who’d left to fight.
Dora, in the past tense. Ted will be devastated when he hears.
Ted. Andromeda’s teeth begin to gnaw on the knuckle.
Four, not three. She’d forgotten. For just a moment, while Kingsley was giving her the worst news of her life, she’d forgotten the other worst news of her life. She sits heavily in the armchair; her teeth scrape hard against the bone of her finger.
She’s empty; she’s alone. They’ve gone and left her behind. She bites her knuckle in earnest. Ted would have shared the pain of losing Dora, halved it. Ted would have held her while she cried and let her hold him. Ted would have found a way to let the light into the soul of a Black. Ted would have. Ted would. Ted…
She bites harder. Her teeth are sharp; it hurts like fire. But it doesn’t hurt enough. She bites harder still, willing her jaws together. A spurt of metallic salt against her tongue as her knuckle screams at her.
Blood. Blood, Remus? You used to bite yourself, you said. Was it like this? Did it hurt enough to make you forget everything else? Because this isn’t working, Remus; I still remember you…
She takes her hand out of her mouth and screams wordlessly at the ceiling, like an animal, letting the blood drip from her finger onto the floor.
And there is an answering cry from the next room. Teddy in his cot is fussing and whining, waking up sooner than he should. Teddy in his cot. Teddy.
For perhaps five minutes longer she sits unmoving, staring straight ahead, not seeing anything, but unable to shut out the sound of Teddy’s distress. He won’t sleep now, she knows; he’s on the way to wakefulness, to awareness, to knowing. He has demands, he has needs, some of which now will never be fulfilled. She wonders what will happen if she never moves again, wonders how long Teddy would cry if she did nothing at all, wonders how long it would take them to find her, find him. If she set out to join Ted, went to find Dora and Remus, left to give Bella a piece of her mind, surely someone would come looking soon enough for Teddy.  Surely someone would take over for her. Surely.
Teddy fusses more loudly, insistently. Andromeda cannot ignore it, cannot sit here. Some primitive part of her cannot remain unmoving while an infants sobs; it’s physically impossible. Ted always told her that she rushed to the cot too soon, picked Dora up when she would have been better left to cry a bit more.
Ted. Dora. Crying.
Andromeda rises shakily, stumbles through the door and approaches the cot. She sees her blood continue to drip on the floor, and she takes her wand out almost without thinking. “Episkey,” she tells her knuckle. “Scourgify,” she tells the floor. Dora knew the first spell better than Andromeda, but couldn’t do the second one to save her life. Her life…
Her grandson kicks and flails, his face red. His hair is now green on one side and black on the other; when he went to sleep it was orange. Andromeda reaches down and picks him up, puts him against her shoulder. But hers isn’t the shoulder he was expecting, and he continues to cry, arching away from her so that she has to block him from throwing himself backwards onto the floor. He’s probably hungry; Dora left some expressed milk frozen, but he never likes it as well.
“She’s gone, Teddy,” Andromeda tells the child. “I’m sorry, I should have stopped her. I’m so sorry – ” And at last she is unable to dam the torrent of agony, and her own wails chorus with his.
The baby cries for his mother as the mother cries for her baby.
There are more people here than Andromeda expected. All of the Order, including Kingsley himself, which means something different now. Most of the surviving members of the Auror Office; the majority of the faculty of Hogwarts School, who worked with Remus and who remember Dora. A tribe of Weasleys, and that gang of teenagers that still calls itself Dumbledore’s Army.
Harry Potter is here, the Hero of Britain, tears streaming down his face when she can see it; most of the time it’s buried in the shoulder of the Weasley daughter, who also is sobbing like a child. It would be quite a spectacle if they were the only ones; but they aren’t, not by far.
Andromeda’s own eyes are dry. It’s taken days to prepare this funeral, and in those days she’s cried till her throat hurt, cried till she couldn’t see, cried till the baby stopped crying, cried herself into a stupor. She sits motionless in her seat, the Chief Mourner’s Chair, the place of honor, detached from everything around her, as if she’s watching the whole thing from a hundred feet above. The details roll past: the eulogies, the ritual, the graves, the expressions of sympathy. What a lot of interesting things all those people are doing down there.
Then something does yank her back to herself. The Boy Who Lived is standing in front of her, and he’s much more polite than when last they met. Probably it’s grief.
“Mrs. Tonks,” he’s saying. “I hope you know how much I loved Remus and Nymphadora; they were very important to me.” His eyes are still streaming, and he wipes them impatiently.
“Yes, thank you, Harry. They cared a great deal about you too.”
“Yes, ma’am, I know they did.”
“I think Dora thought of you as a little brother.”
“Oh? Wow.” He stares at his feet for a moment.
She continues, “I wanted to thank you for sending the House Elf over to watch the baby today; Teddy wouldn’t have done well here. Kreacher seemed amused at the idea of taking care of a little one, but I gather he’s done it before.”
“To tell you the truth, Mrs. Tonks, I think there’s precious little that Kreacher hasn’t done.”
“I suppose not.” It’s helpful to talk; so long as she talks, she doesn’t have actually to participate in this dreadful event, doesn’t have to think about the ugly, bloody gash that is now her life.
He clears his throat. “I think you know that Remus and, um, Dora named me godfather to Teddy. My godfather, Sirius, offered to let me live with him, and I’m more than happy to make the same offer to Teddy.”
Andromeda has the strongest, most genuine rush of feeling she’s had all day; it’s shock and outrage.
“Take Teddy?” She cries in disbelief. “Take Teddy? But he’s all I have left!” This is the first time she’s put it into words, the first time she’s allowed herself even to think it. She’s been pretending that being responsible for Teddy is a burden, that it’s unfair to ask a woman in middle age to take on this task. But the truth, she sees and she admits to herself in a gasp, is that she needs Teddy, needs to care for him, needs to raise him – needs to fill the hole in her heart left by Ted and Dora and yes, Remus, the hole that was started a quarter-century ago, when her parents and her sisters decided that she was no longer alive.
Harry has stepped back, abashed and humiliated. She sees that she’s hurt him, and catches herself. “Oh, but thank you for the offer, Harry; I know you meant it kindly.”
He nods, looking like he’s going to cry again. She’s embarrassed, but it’s a more welcome feeling than she had before. Andromeda notices for the first time that young Ginny Weasley has come up behind him, her hand on his shoulder, squeezing it reassuringly. “Could I – ” He clears his throat again; his voice is thick. “Could I at least help you look after him?” It’s a plea. This is something he needs too.
She’s able to smile. “Of course, Harry. I’m sure I can use all the help I can get.”
“Thank you,” he says, and his gratitude is so palpable that Andromeda doesn’t know what to say. She watches as the red-headed girl takes the black-haired boy’s hand and leads him away from her.
As soon as her gaze shifts away from them, she sees not black or red hair, but yellow. Pale yellow, almost white, and one head golden. The Malfoys are here. Somehow, thank Merlin, she didn’t notice them before, but now they’ve just arisen from their seats. Lucius and Draco and Narcissa. Narcissa. Andromeda cannot believe her eyes. They walk over to her slowly, the two men looking worried, the woman looking terrified. Andromeda’s vision clouds, and she feels hot; she would turn and leave, if there was a way to do it with any semblance of decorum or dignity.
When they reach her, she speaks first, her voice brittle. “I once had a sister who looked like you,” she tells Narcissa. “But she was a lot younger, at least 25 years younger. I think she must have died; one of us did, anyway.”
Cissy’s eyes widen and Andromeda can see the pain; something inside her relishes that pain, as if shoving it down her sister’s throat will somehow lessen the taste in her own.
Mastering her quivering mouth, Narcissa tries to begin, “Dromma, I – ”
“How dare you show your faces here?” Andromeda interrupts. “What are you, the representatives of the killer? Here to rub my face in it?” Lucius has gone even paler than usual; he looks like chalk. Draco looks like he might be sick. Narcissa –
“Bella’s dead,” moans Cissy.
Yes,” snarls Andromeda, “and about an hour too late. Too late – too late for Dora – ” She cannot bring herself to continue, but she won’t let them see her cry.
To her astonishment, the proud, haughty Madame Malfoy drops to her knees before her.
“I’m so sorry, Dromma.” She speaks to Andromeda’s feet. “I can’t tell you how sorry. I – I was wrong. Terribly wrong. I won’t make excuses. I came because I almost lost my husband and my son. I can only imagine what this must be like, but it was almost me instead of you. I – I know we can’t make up the difference, but I wanted to remind you that you still have family. If you’ll have us. Please.”
Narcissa begins to weep, and Andromeda is torn down the middle. Part of her wants to scream and roar, banishing these people, this woman, this sister who betrayed her so terribly. And part of her remembers Cissy, remembers three little girls making bracelets together, remembers what it was like before they were ripped to shreds.
Then her teeth clench and she turns on her heel, walking away from her sister as quickly as the occasion will allow.
Andromeda watches as Harry finishes putting a new nappy on Teddy, vanishing the old one when he gets a free hand. He’s begun wearing a witch’s “mother’s apron” that has a pocket for a wand well out of the baby’s reach. Then he blows on Teddy’s belly, making the loudest noise he can, just to hear the child laugh before he picks him up again.
She’s impressed by how quickly Harry’s learned. She’d expected a seventeen-year-old boy – no, eighteen now, she reminds herself – to be completely uninformed about infants, and she was right. The first time he’d tried putting fresh clothes on Teddy, it had taken him twenty minutes before he called for help. But in just a few weeks he’s picked up all the moves, and can change, dress, feed, bathe and comfort his godson as expertly as any young father.
More surprising was the fact that the Weasley girl was equally clueless at the start. Andromeda would have expected Molly Weasley, of all people, to have taught her daughter something about babies, but apparently not. Harry comes three or four times a week, and most of those days Ginny is with him, and when they began they were matched in their ham-handedness. They have learned together, the way new parents do – as Dora and Remus did, as Andromeda and Ted did. (Andromeda pushes that thought from her.) Ginny, normally so quick-handed, seems to have started out uncharacteristically clumsy where Teddy is concerned. It makes Andromeda wonder.
Harry holds Teddy to his shoulder, swaying back and forth and crooning something ridiculous. Ginny, across the room from him, gazes at godfather and godson with soft eyes. Andromeda’s seen that look before, the look that says, He’d be a good father to my children. That thought is an aphrodisiac to some women.
Not that Ginny Weasley seems to need much of an aphrodisiac where Harry Potter is concerned. Andromeda’s nearly sure that they’re not sleeping together – she flatters herself that she can smell such things, and besides, she doubts that any of Molly’s children is emotionally capable of so disregarding her feelings under her own roof, where Harry is still living. But that doesn’t stop them from grooming and nuzzling each other like a pair of young unicorns at practically every moment when Teddy leaves them free hands. If she’s any judge of anything, Andromeda knows where this is going.
“Now give him to me,” says Ginny, grinning. All three adults know the game she’s initiating. Harry lifts Teddy off his shoulder with as much ceremony as he can muster, making a fanfare sound, and hands him to Ginny. Teddy chortles, knowing the game too. Up until this moment he’s been sporting black hair, neatly drawn black circles around his eyes, and a sloppy maroon mark on his forehead; at the instant he touches Ginny’s hands, he begins to change, his hair turning ginger, his nose shrinking, his skin now covered with light brown splotches that are probably his idea of what Ginny’s freckles look like. He blows a razzberry at her, and she returns the compliment. Andromeda sees Harry giving Ginny that same soft look, the she’ll-be-a-good-mother look; a rarer thing to see, in a man. Oh yes, Andromeda knows where this is going. Molly must already be making guest lists.
“Hey, he did the nose this time!” Ginny gasps.
“He’s becoming more observant,” Andromeda informs them. “By the time he’s a year old, he’ll be copying our faces exactly. At two, he’ll be mimicking our whole bodies.”
“Whole bodies?” asks Harry. “Where does he get the extra mass?”
“Transfigures it from the air, I suppose,” she shrugs. “It will get trickier when he turns four or five and begins to realize that he can do something we can’t. Then he’ll use it when he’s acting out, he’ll imitate whoever he’s angry at, or he’ll start trying to look like animals or inanimate objects when he’s feeling sulky. Of course he can’t do non-humans; he’s only a metamorphmagus, so those attempts are pretty ridiculous, but it’ll be important not to laugh at him. I once spent an afternoon doing my best not to notice that Dora was stomping around the house with skin that matched the houndstooth pattern on the sofa.”
At the word laugh, Teddy screeches and grabs a fistful of Ginny’s hair. Ginny squawks but starts to laugh herself, and Harry is laughing, and Andromeda can’t stop herself, she’s laughing too. It’s the first time she’s laughed in months, and she has a fleeting vision of Nymphadora, pink-haired and sassy, giving her mother a thumbs-up.
She looks at the three of them fondly. “You know, I’m going to miss you when you go back to Hogwarts.”
“Actually,” Harry answers, “you won’t have much opportunity to miss me.”
“Really? How so?”
“Well, I’ve spoken with the Headmistress, and I’ll be permitted to come back here three times a week to help with Teddy.”
Andromeda’s eyebrows shoot up. “Harry! Of course that’s wonderful, but really, Professor McGonagall doesn’t need to bend the rules so much just for me!”
“Well, his parents were both heroes of the war. And, well, in my case – ” He trails off.
Ginny finishes for him, wearing a mischievous grin. “— certain allowances are made for Harry. He’s done the nation a small service or two, recently.”
Harry looks sheepish. Andromeda nods. Then she realizes that she didn’t feel like crying when he mentioned Remus and Dora so casually. How strange.
Aloud, she says, “Well, yes, it’s only fitting. Well, then I’ll be missing you, anyway, Ginny dear.”
“Welllll – ” Ginny begins.
“Certain allowances are made for Harry,” she repeats simply. Andromeda doesn’t know what to say to that, but begins to re-evaluate her earlier assessment of Molly Weasley’s wishes.
After Teddy is settled for his nap and the young couple leave, Andromeda turns to the stove and thinks about an early tea. She’s considering various biscuits when there’s a knock at the door.
She pulls the door open and there stands Draco. He’s nervous; his eyes shift from side to side. Then he looks her in the face, and starts to speak. Then he stops and looks at his feet. Then he looks up at her again, swallowing.
“Yes, Draco?” says Andromeda, less coldly than she’d intended.
“I’ve come – ”  He starts, but then stops again. This is costing him something, but Andromeda can’t figure out why. Suddenly she realizes that he was waiting for Harry to leave before he approached the house. She’s wary. “Give me your wand,” she says.
Without a word, he reaches into his robes and hands the wand to her, handle first.
She backs away from the doorway, leaving space for her nephew. He looks up at her again.
“I’ve come to babysit the cub,” he says, and crosses the threshold.
Author’s Note:
Thanks to girlyswot  for telling me the difference between a crib, a cot and a camp bed. I am drawn, as many seem to be, to Andromeda as the real victim of DH. I wrote a drabble about Andromeda shortly after Phoenix Rising, and you can see the roots of this story there. When I read it now, I shiver at how prescient it now seems. I also was interested in what happens to Draco, and how it happens – that “curt nod” in the DH Epilogue spoke volumes, because it was so comparatively civil. The H-G fluff and the baby games kind of snuck in there by themselves, but I’m glad they did.

  • I like how it's only the possibility of losing Teddy that acts as the catalyst for Andromeda realising how much she needs him and that this response is totally instinctive. I also like how Andromeda actually considers a reconciliation with Narcissa but turns away before she can act on it. The contrast between Narcissa who still has her family, despite all they have done, and Andromeda who has lost all her family, despite not deserving to, is beautiful. Thanks for sharing this with us.
    • Thanks, Bel. The Black family, especially the three sisters and their families, present so much good material for fan fiction. They really are sharply different from one another, and one wonders what they were like together as children, and what it was like when they went theirt separate ways. I'd like to think that Draco's gesture is the beginning of a rapprochement between the sisters, but that may be too much to hope for.
  • Lovely!

    *sniff* Wonderful story, Ken. So this is Angst ... I've always had trouble understanding why something is called Angst. This is such a true, wonderful description of human emotions, and just how I imagine that first time post-battle would be. It did me good to see the Malfoys emotionally squashed, and also shows that they're victims too. What happened next? Were the sisters able to reestablish some contact? Draco coming to babysit 'the cub' is sweet, and kind of helpless - calling Teddy cub??? Repeating Voldemorts words - what a great way to show he hasn't completely purged Voldemort from his mind, the dark idiot's ideas are still there, unconsciously at least.

    Yes, I enjoyed the "curt nod" in the epilogue, too. It spoke volumes about the rebuilding of a society after a war. If the winning side is willing to extend a hand to the others (within reason, of course), the mending of society will go so much smoother. Unfortunately that is something this country didn't manage post WWII. The wounds are still there - I wonder how long it will take to heal completely?

    Back to story - I loved the games they play with Teddy, how he's morphing to match their faces. Sweet boy. It's a good thing Andromeda has him, lest she'd be sitting with the feeling it was all for naught. Now, at least, her grandson will grow up in a safe world, even if the cost of safety was high.

    Thank you! *big, big hugs*
    • Re: Lovely!

      Aw, thanks, Berte. Personally I don't fully comprehend the fanfiction usage of the term "angst;" it certainly doesn't match the German definition of the word. I think they use "angst" to describe any story that is tragic, or that is likely to bring on sadness or fear. Pretty much all my most popular stories have been categorized as "angst," although from what Mary tells me I gather I don't write what most angst writers write. *throws up hands*

      As is the case with most of my stories, I don't really know what happens next, nor even all of what happened before. As I mentioned to Bel (*gestures upward*) I'd like to think that Draco's gesture begins the healing of the family, but I don't know. (Part of the meaning of the title is that "minding" (that is, listening to) the children (in this case, the adult children -- Harry, Ginny, Drac0) is the way to begin recovering from loss.)

      My intent, in having Draco use Voldemort's words, was that he was deliberately inverting them. By saying that he would "babysit the cub", Draco meant that his answer to LV's question in Chapter One was yes, and he was choosing not to be the racist his Aunt was. I do not know whether this is canon-consistent behavior for Draco, though; he didn't redeem himself in DH as I hoped he would.

      • Re: Lovely!

        it certainly doesn't match the German definition of the word The Norwegian definition is the same as the German, and this just isn't angst. It's sadness, and some pretty heavy emotions with intense mourning, hope and love, but what shines here is hope. Most stories I've seen labeled as angst, should've been labeled anger...

        You show these emotions so well, you know that, right? I truly love them.

        *hands out more hugs* Now - off to work. need to write today's (erm, tomorrow's, that is) Soul Coaching message...

  • Oh terrific story, Ken. When I think of Andromeda or George, for the matter, I just can't comprehend what they are going through. Death and family were the themes running through the books and it is very evident in this story. In fan fiction, it seems to be one or the other. This is one othe few times I've seen them combined. The unforgiveness toward Narcissa was very realistic. Even Lucius's face startled me.

    I smiled when I saw the little fluff creep in, but it only enhanced the story. The notion of fluff created the healing which was quite evident in the end.

    Oh yes, Andromeda knows where this is going. Molly must already be making guest lists.

    I can't tell you how much I loved that line! I really loved this story, Ken. Thanks for writing it.
    • Thanks, Rachel. I think there are a lot of us trying to get our minds around the sorrow and the joy, the mourning and the loving, all at the same time. It's hard to manage without short-changing one or the other, or seeming artificial.
  • This is totally beautiful, as usual. When are you going to send me the file??? ;-)

    Absolutely brilliant.

    • Thanks, Sherry.

      Wellll, it needs to be beta'd first. Pascal's reading, Valerie's on the injured list, and Annette's backlogged.

      Are you volunteering? ;)
  • Wow, you have so much going on here! The anger boardering on insanity - the pull back to life with the baby's cries. Then the healing that begins - first with the funeral, then being able to tell off her sister (how healthy that was for her!) I liked this passage:

    Narcissa begins to weep, and Andromeda is torn down the middle. Part of her wants to scream and roar, banishing these people, this woman, this sister who betrayed her so terribly. And part of her remembers Cissy, remembers three little girls making bracelets together, remembers what it was like before they were ripped to shreds.

    The metaphorical rendering of garmets is here as well as the destruction/creation that is taking place in the story as Teddy becomes part of the household.

    The H-G fluff and the baby games kind of snuck in there by themselves, but I’m glad they did. I think it would be impossible not to include them, since that's the hope in the story and the hope for Andromeda. Loved how Teddy changed to be like the faces he was watching. So cute and age-appropriate since faces are what babies fixate upon.

    • Thanks, Mary. I agree with you about the baby games and the fluff. I often find that I don't fully understand the arc of the story until it's mostly written. I started out just thinking about Andromeda's pain, and then about Draco in the last scene. And once it was written, I realized I had a progression of emotions, mirrored by a progression of language (Andromeda's narrative syntax gets markedly more complex as the story progresses.) So you're right, but I didn't know it before I wrote it.

      It was a lot of fun to imagine how neonatal development of a metamorphmagus might parallel development in other areas. I especially enjoyed giving him the black circles around his eyes.
  • The baby cries for his mother as the mother cries for her baby.

    Just rip my heart out, why doncha? Geez, Ken.

    Angst and fluff and babies and healing. Perfect. Thanks!
    • Thanks, Shelly. That was the line that passed the "Rhetor Angst Test" -- that is, it's the line that I wrote with tears in my eyes.

  • Ugh, the angst, indeed! But you're right; poor Andromeda was 'the real victim' (still living) of DH.

    Glad you put in the "but he's all I have *left*!" bit; I felt that was necessary. Well, I needed it. As soon as we learnt that Harry was to be Ted's godfather I was thinking "uh oh", so right after the Lupins' deaths I was expecting him to take up his duties with regard to raising the lad. I was therefore surprised to read in the epilogue that such had not taken place, and I wanted to know why.

    Kreacher the babysitter ... still takes some getting used to. But I'm not sure how I felt about his turnaround in DH either.

    I don't like the Malfoys getting away scott-free at the end of DH. Lucius is a *murderer*, yet he's still loose immediately after the Victory ... and if you hold interviews as canon, he's never imprisoned. And Draco tried to kill the Trio, didn't he? Bleh.

    Is it consistent characterisation for Draco to babysit Teddy? Is he being *forced* to do so by his mother in an attempt by her to reconcile with her sister? Teddy's the son of a werewolf and is not a pure-blood, and we had six years of Draco spitting hatred and venom at people like him. Sure, he's a coward who didn't have the guts to *kill*, but short of that ... I dunno.
    • Thanks, Brad.

      About Draco, I'm really conflicted. It seemed to me that we were seeing, both at the end of HBP and throughout most of DH, a number of opportunities for Draco to grow and change. His behavior during the Battle of Hogwarts seems to indicate that he didn't grow, but his behavior in the Epilogue seems to indicate at least some level of mellowing. So I just made a decision that the growth happened between the two events, and that having a young, helpless cousin, a blood relation, towards whom he knew Voldemort had murderous intent, was a catalyst. But I sure could be wrong about that.

      Basically as an artist I'm dissatisfied if Draco learns nothing at all from this experience. Do I think there are people like that? Yes. Have I read works of literature or other art that are compelling but have characters like that? Yes: John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, and Supertramp's "Fool's Overture" both come to mind. But if it's a story I'm writing...
  • I'm not sure I've ever used the word 'cute' with respect to one of your stories before. *grins* But you have at least one very, very cute scene here. Morphing baby is clearly the most adorable in the world, even with the bittersweet memories he conjures up for Andromeda of another child who could match her hair to whoever was holding her.

    You capture the misery and anguish of loss at the start as brilliantly as we've all come to expect from you. The moment where she remembers again about Ted is heartwrenching and so true.

    And I'm utterly intrigued by the appearance of Draco at the end. Is that, perhaps, remorse motivating him? Is there some hope for the next generation of Malfoys? We'll see.
    • Forgot. Since when did a raspberry become a razzberry????
      • The spelling "razz" is sometimes used in the US to differentiate the "Bronx cheer" from the fruit. But if that's not the way it's done in the UK, I'll change it on the version I'm posting.
    • Hi, Ros. I'm delighted that you liked the morphing baby. I had a lot of fun writing it.

      I hold out hope for Draco because I'm emotionally incapable of doing anything else. So much was sacrificed to save Draco's soul, and he's had so many experiences and opportunities to change -- it would be such a waste if he didn't learn and grow from it. I admit that that may, in fact, be what happens -- but I didn't want Voldemort to win that particular battle.
  • review

    Hi Ken
    I originally tried to leave this for you at Phoenixsong, but was blocked by the 'lame review' filter for excessive use of 'I's. See if you can spot them...
    That took me from sniffling to giggling. Thanks Ken.
    Stand-out line; "The baby cries for his mother as the mother cries for her baby." though perhaps it was a little easy for you. "When he’s gone, the hole he leaves in the air feels bigger than he was." is even better, conveying a strong sense of Andromeda's grief grafted onto the image of Kingsley's solidity.
    Your imagining the ins and outs of caring for a baby metamorphmagus was interesting and interestingly presented, wrapped around the action of H/G's play with the child.
    Harry's "I hope you know how much I loved Remus and Nymphadora; they were very important to me.” sounds far too formal , even contrived. Ditto lines like “Well, I’ve spoken with the Headmistress, and I’ll be permitted to ...” Harry's speech tends more towards the informal and direct, whether talking with Mrs Weasley about leaving school and the burrow, Elphias Doge about Dumbledore, Bill about Goblins, the fake Bathilda Bagshot, Mr Lovegood and even Dumbledore, Harry's speech with all these adult characters is characterised by short sentences, few latinate words, abundant slang and hesitations. I don't think he would say 'permitted', or 'I loved Remus and Nymphadora." Not our reserved British boy. That conversation with Ron about his love for Hermione was one out of the bag and I think it was only possible because it was Ron.
    Ginny you have down really well. “Welllll –” Ginny begins, rolling her eyes.
    and "“Certain allowances are made for Harry,” she repeats simply." are spot-on.
    Andromeda's voice is a convincing one; especially her momentary forgetfulness about Ted's death, her almost-ambivilance towards Narcissa and family and her reflections about H/G and Molly. That knuckle-biting was edgily accurate. Pain we can really feel.
    Especially impressive was that initial confrontation with the Malfoys. Such a dramatic scene, and you handled it with high levels of realism without descending to mere irony. I couldn't guess how she would resolve it; there was nothing formulaic to your writing. Well done and thank you again.
    • Re: review

      Hi, R. Wow -- That's one of the most thorough reviews I've had! Thank you so much.

      PS has a "lame review" filter? *snort* I had no idea! What a riot.

      I have an excuse for one of Harry's lines, but not the other. At the funeral I was imagining that he was experiencing a high level of discomfort in approaching Andromeda at all, at the same time he was overwrought with grief (remember he's just been sobbing on Ginny's shoulder). So he was dealing with his discomfort in approaching her by speaking with what he considered to be the maximum level of politeness -- which for him would be quite stilted, even moreso when he remembers to use the name "Nymphadora," which he never used to Tonks's face. The word "loved," though, was supposed to be something that came out despite his attempt at control -- he was overcome with feeling. The excuse doesn't work for the scene with Ginny & Teddy, though. I don't think I've internalized Harry's voice as well as some of the other characters.

      The "mother cries for her baby" line -- I'm not sure what you mean by "easy." I needed a crescendo for that scene, and I felt that the most important thing about it was the fact that both Teddie and Andromeda are left bereft and hurting from the same loss -- although only Andromeda realizes it. So I looked around for phrases that would encapsulate that symmetry, and the image of a baby crying for his mother was one of the first ones that came. Then I flipped the word "baby" around and realized where the sentence should go. Then I wrote it out -- and started sniffling myself. (That's the "Rhetor Angst Test" -- I know I've written something effective if it upsets me while I'm writing it.) You're the first one to comment on the "hole in the air" line, though; thank you for that.

      The scene with the Malfoys required a complete rewrite, as the JKR Live Chat (in which she said that Bellatrix killed Tonks) came out in the middle of the process. I'd previously built the scene around the assumption that Bella hadn't killed Tonks, so I had to tear much of it up and start over. The scene came out much nastier as a result.

      Thanks again!

      • Re: review

        By 'easy', I mean it sounds like you describe it - the words lead automatically to the inversion and it works just perfectly - you couldn't not use it. It really is the scene-stealer. But for my money I reckon you worked harder and have a better success with lines like that one about Kingsley; there's nothing obvious about it, it doesn't draw attention to itself, it just quietly does its job and fades into narrative history. But it does the job fantastically well, freighting a huge load of grief right into the heart of the story. The 'baby' line works as well as it does because this much earlier line sets up the load. Without that prior work it would have been merely decorative.
  • Beautiful. Simply beautiful. Sherry sent me the link to this *mumble*months*mumble* ago, and I just got a chance to catch up on my reading. I love this.

    Susan aka OHGinnyfan
    • Thanks, Susan. You're sweet to say so, and Sherry was sweet to recommend it.

      In other news, I'm actually going to be reading this story aloud before an audience at the Terminus 2008 conference in Chicago. (I'll also be reading "The Torch.")
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