Summary: After the war, the survivors try to find a way to cope with the losses they have incurred and move into a future they have yet to create. As they try to find ways to save themselves, they realize that perhaps the best way is to save each other.
This story will eventually be Harry Draco Slash. It will probably take a while to get there from here. This chapter is rated for general audiences.
Posted so far: 10 Chapters / 44,242 words.
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A Meeting with Andromeda
May 5, 1998
An owl came to Harry at breakfast. During the vacations, owls seemed to come all the time. They didn’t bother the volunteers while working, but all three meals showed a flock of owls to the tables.
Harry untied the message from the small brown owl’s leg. It still hurt to use any owl but Hedwig. She had been with him through so much.
The message was from Andromeda Tonks, replying to his request to meet with her. She had suggested that he come by that morning at nine, and let him know the floo address. He scrawled an affirmative and sent the owl back.
* * *
Harry used the Floo in McGonagall’s office. He never liked travelling by floo. The only form of magical travel he enjoyed was flying. Floo travel left him dirty and dizzy, Apparating left him faintly nauseous, and Portkeys had too many memories. But brooms had a limitation on how far one could reasonably travel, and the Tonks family lived closer to London than Scotland, from what he recalled. He had only been there the one time, and wasn’t sure he could find it again by broom. It was in a mostly Muggle area, he remembered.
He spun out of the floo and found himself in the Tonks’ parlour. Putting a quick hand to catch his balance until the dizzy spell subsided, he left a sooty smudge on the mantelpiece. Embarrassed, Harry cast a quick Scourgify to remove the ash he'd brought with him from his robes, trousers, the carpet beneath him and the mantle. One day he would understand how to floo. One day, he would get his Apparition license. Or maybe he should just hope that someone invented a better way to travel. He thought of the Wizarding World, and doubted it would happen any time soon. Perhaps he should ask the twins. The thought made his heart clench. It was so automatic. They were creative, inventive; they would have come up with something. It might have turned everybody into a parakeet on the other side, but it would have worked without the discomfort of existing forms of magical travel.
The house was modestly sized, from what Harry could see. It wasn’t overtly magical, not odd like the Burrow or Luna’s house, and it was elegant, not huge and cold like Malfoy's house, but even Harry could see that things went together well, that the owners were people of note. Petunia Dursley would cheerfully commit murder to have her house show such natural style. He hadn’t remembered noticing the last time he was here, but then, he’d had other things on his mind.
It was probably more Mrs Tonks’ bearing than the house itself, but Harry felt under-dressed in his robes, a bit too long for him—borrowed as they were from Terry Boot, who was volunteering at Hogwarts as well—and his trousers from the Weasley hand-me-down cupboard. He would have to check again with Hermione to see if she had managed to find the beaded bag, which had somehow gotten lost in the course of the battle. When he thought of all that was in there, he certainly hoped they found it. He was sure they would. Not to find it would be unthinkable. He turned to greet Andromeda Tonks, who smiled warmly and gave welcome.
A whimper came from the cradle next to her, and Mrs. Tonks lifted the squirming bundle out of it and into her lap. "Harry Potter, allow me to introduce Teddy Lupin."
Harry was amazed. Teddy was tiny, although Harry wasn’t sure how big babies were supposed to be. Teddy couldn’t be more than a month old, Harry thought, maybe less. And he was an orphan, just like him. Suddenly, Harry felt a surge of protectiveness toward the tiny human. He wondered if this is what Sirius had felt for him: the sudden desire that Teddy never feel unloved. That he always had someone to turn to, to ask questions of, to show his childish drawings to. That he had someone with whom he could share all the little events in his life. And something more. Harry wanted to make sure that Teddy grew up in a world without the fear he had known. There would be no Dark Lords in Teddy’s future. Harry didn’t know how he could accomplish that, but he resolved to do so.
She arched an eyebrow at his expression. "Would you like to hold him?"
At Harry's nod, she gently placed the baby in his arms. Teddy smiled, gurgling at him, his short crop of hair changing colours from green to purple to red and back to green. Harry grasped him into a hug, thinking of Remus, and Tonks, and Sirius, and all the people that he would have liked to be there for his godson. Harry rocked the small form, and hoped he and the woman before him, who he barely knew, would be enough.
When Harry looked up at Mrs. Tonks, his eyes were suspiciously bright. She nodded, and offered him a biscuit, saying "You'll do, Harry. We have a great many things to discuss."
"We do." Harry was learning to listen, and Mrs, Tonks apparently had some things to say. He took a bite of the biscuit off the plate sitting next to the tea set on the low table in front of him, and chewed it thoroughly.
“I want to talk to you about responsibilities.”
Harry gulped. This was not what he’d wanted to talk about. He was just getting out from under a task that had weighed him down since he first heard the prophesy. But, looking down at Teddy, he couldn’t but feel that this might just be something he’d be willing to take on. A little piece of Remus, and of Tonks, and someone that would grow up to be entirely himself.
“Yes, dear. It is my task to see to the funerals, and I need your consent.”
And as suddenly as the weight was placed, it was gone. Harry breathed a sigh of relief. "What do you need my consent to do?"
“You are the Black heir. Sirius left everything to you, including the responsibilities he himself ignored. I'm sorry, Harry, to have to ask you this, but do you intend to force me to inter Nymphadora with the Blacks?”
"What? NO! She’d have hated that!" Harry paused, mustering up the courage to ask what he had come to ask.
"But... I wanted to ask you something. About the funeral..." He paused again. "I didn't know about all the werewolf laws. And, Remus was the only one left of the ones who ... would’ve taken care of me if they could, when I was little. My parents died before I could remember, and there was never a body for my godfather. So, even if there isn't a body... I was wondering if we could remember him too. Remus, I mean. Along with Tonks."
“That's very generous of you, Harry. Are you thinking with your head, or your heart?”
"What do you mean?”
“Do you know, Harry, what it means to be the head of a magical family? I ask, only because you may not know, raised as you were.” The older woman set down her teacup suddenly. “Good gracious, you're head of two magical families!”
“Yes, Harry. You are Heir to the Blacks and Head of the Potters. You have a very important role to fill there.”
“Wait. You say I am Heir to the Blacks? I know Sirius left me his house and personal possessions, but—“
“Do you mean to tell me that you were never informed of what that meant?”
“Dumbledore came to me after Sirius’ will was discovered. He told me that Sirius had left me everything. He listed money added to my Gringotts vault, and personal possessions. We went through those at Gr—his house.” The habits of the past few years were hard to break, even now that he was one of the twenty-odd secret keepers for the Order’s erstwhile Headquarters.
Mrs. Tonks' lips twitched. “I know where you mean Harry.”
“We tested whether the house was indeed mine, but Kreacher had to obey me, so we knew it was. Dumbledore said that meant that Sirius had done the will correctly.”
“He was right. You would not have been able to inherit that house unless you had been accepted by Black as an Heir. That would have been some fancy spellwork on his part to open Black to you, all things considered.”
“Because I’m not a Black?”
“Oh, that part was not so difficult. Your great grandmother was born a Black. He would only have had to lay out the bloodline to have that accepted so that you could be his adopted heir. No, the difficult part would have been your mother. The Black family enchantments were woven with their motto in mind.”
“Exactly. But, as the house allowed you to inherit, Sirius must have rewoven the family enchantments.”
Harry imagined Sirius, sitting alone at Grimmauld Place, researching how to turn the enchantments on his family line from their original purpose, just so that he could inherit. It was something he knew Sirius would have taken delight in, aligning his heritage with his own choices, and sticking it to his mother at the same time. Had he done that then, or even earlier, when Harry was still a baby, and his parents were still alive? But then wouldn’t Mrs Black have noticed? She would’ve been alive. He remembered the screeching woman in the portrait, and felt sure that she would have found out about the attempt to change the magics, if she had been alive at the time.
“Dumbledore ought to have known that for you to inherit the house, meant you also were eligible to inherit the House. He said nothing?”
It took a moment for Harry to parse the difference between house and House. “I guess he had other things on his mind. Voldemort was just getting going, since he had been revealed, and everyone was scrambling.”
“We’ll leave that aside for the moment. Done is done. The fact is, that you are now, or will be as soon as you accept your responsibilities, the head of two magical families. What do you intend to do about it?”
Harry had never thought about it. He was always aware of the Malfoys as a magical family, because Malfoy made such a big deal about it. And everyone had made a big deal about him, but that was because of the whole Voldemort Boy Who Lived thing. But he was just Harry. He never noticed Arthur Weasley as having a special role other than being father to the Weasley children and doing his job in the Ministry and with the Order.
"What does a head of the family do?"
“As relates to our discussion, you could demand that Nymphadora be interred in the Black mausoleum, for the benefit of the family's magics. The head of the family makes policy for the entire family. So, should you allow Nymphadora's service to be elsewhere, the whole family will have to abide by your wishes. You have the right to command any living Black on any matters relating to family honour and magic.”
"I don’t understand."
“When wizards die, Harry, they are buried or interred with their families. Surely you knew that?”
This whole conversation was going so far afield from what he had originally intended. "Well, I suppose. But my parents are buried in Godric's Hollow. I don't think that was a Wizards-only cemetery. And Dumbledore was interred at Hogwarts. That was the only funeral I've ever been to, Muggle or magical."
“Dumbledore was different, Harry. Over the years, he channelled his family magics into Hogwarts. Abeforth doesn't believe in the old ways, so he didn't mind.”
"I'm going to need help with this, aren't I? Nothing of this was taught at Hogwarts."
“Your aunt never told you?”
“My aunt told me that my parents died in a car crash. I first found out about the wizarding world when I got my Hogwarts letter.”
“She told you—” A spark of fury lit in Mrs Tonks’ eyes. “Were you even told you were the Head of a Family?”
“Well, I knew that my parents were dead, and that I had no other relatives or the Dursleys wouldn’t have had to take me in. But—nothing like what you are implying.”
“We will arrange for you to get the information you need.”
“I’ll have to ask a few people. Don’t worry, I’ll be discrete. I have been out of touch with the Black family, for obvious reasons, and I would not want to ask most of them. Narcissa might know...”
Harry looked up at the name. “Malfoy? No!”
“She is my sister. And although she is Lucius’ responsibility now, she is and has always been a Black. That never changes.”
Harry suddenly remembered Narcissa Malfoy lying to Voldemort for him, desperate for word of her son. Perhaps she was not as cold as he had always assumed.
Andromeda got a thoughtful look on her face. “She will have to be invited to the funeral. Not that I think she’d come, the way things are.”
"Wait. Tonks was cast out, or disowned, or something, from the Black family. Right? Like Sirius? Oh! I'm sorry. You were too."
Harry tried to remember the Black tapestry, feeling horrible for bringing it up.
“Yes, well, my aunt was quite mad, Harry, but family traditions resonate deeply.”
Harry took a deep breath. “Do you want to be part of the Black family again? Could I do that? If you wanted?"
Mrs Tonks voice was suddenly soft. “Oh, yes, Harry. You could do that.”
“Do you want me to?”
“Let me first tell you what I would like for Nymphadora. Then you can tell me what you would allow. Then, I will explain how the wizarding world will look at all sides, and then, you can make an educated choice. Agreed?”
Harry nodded. “Yes.”
“As to whether I want to rejoin the Black family or not, first let's see what you decide to do with regard to these other matters.”
Harry was feeling like he was being pulled in five different directions. He wasn’t ready for any of this. He had just come here because Remus needed a memorial—because Harry needed a memorial for Remus, as a symbol of everything he had lost. He only wanted to go to a memorial for someone that he cared about. He wasn’t ready for this level of responsibility. Suddenly he was a godfather, and the head of two families, with responsibilities that he had no knowledge of.
Harry took a deep breath. "That sounds like a good idea. One thing at a time, then. What would you like for Tonks?"
“Not the mausoleum.” Andromeda stated, her voice flat. “She was afraid of it her entire life.”
"I can see that. Even living in—” Harry paused, then realized it was somewhat idiotic to keep referring to the house obliquely, especially as it was no longer being used as Headquarters, and Voldemort was dead, and he owned it, and he either had to trust Tonks’ mother or not. “This is silly. The address of Sirius’ house is number twelve Grimmauld Place.” He continued more formally. “And even living there was no picnic.”
Mrs Black raised a quizzical brow at the phrase.
“The place was... unpleasant.”
“I can imagine. But besides that place, there is the Black family estate. I can’t imagine that is in much better repair than the place I remember in town must be, after all this time. The Mausoleum is on the estate.” She stopped, considered for a moment, and then set her teacup down on the table.
“She chose Remus, Harry.” Mrs Tonks continued. “Let her go to ash with him.”
"She won't be able to be with Remus' ashes... The Ministry destroyed them."
“Oh dear,” said Mrs Tonks. “I did not think those measures would be used. Why didn't you stop them, Harry?”
"No one told me until it was already done."
Her eyes flashed with anger. "They should not have dared. Harry, you will have to take my word for some things, and put your mind to learning others. That should never have happened."
She gazed at Harry, until he began to feel very uncomfortable.
"McGonagall said it was Ministry law."
“Family magic takes precedence, and the old cat knows it.” She paused.
“Do you," she drawled, "care to make a point?"
Harry thought about it. The thought of that was... satisfying, although probably not for the reason she was imagining. Everything he heard about the werewolf laws was horrible. "I think I would." He could hear a matching, satisfied drawl in his voice, and wondered how he sounded so... conniving all of a sudden. He felt like he should twirl his moustache. But he didn’t think he could deal with one thing more at present, as lovely as the thought was.
"But I think that might have to wait until after the funeral? Won’t it?" Suddenly, Harry was unsure. The methodical pace of the Hogwarts cleanup had been very relaxing, and he was not ready for the furore and conflicting priorities of real life.
“No, I think you can make a point with the funeral itself, Harry. If you decide to do this, it will be a very powerful message.”
She sketched out for him a scenario in which Nymphadora and Remus would have the full wizarding funeral rites despite the absence of Remus’ body, but rather than Black family vault internment, she could be placed in a new, smaller vault on the grounds, with a plaque to commemorate Remus.
“With that action, Harry, you say 'The Black Family takes care of its own.' You will have paid full respect to the old ways, honoured a brave man, a hero of the war against Voldemort, and poked the Ministry in the eye.”
Her gaze softened. "Dora would have liked that."
Harry thought about it. Sirius had been one of Remus' best friends. And Tonks was his wife. But the Blacks had not taken care of Sirius, or Tonks. "Before I do that, thought, I think the Black family should welcome Tonks home. And Sirius. Can I do that after the fact? I mean, after ... you know…"
Harry was feeling like he had stuck his foot in his mouth... again.
"Sirius can't give his magic to the family, Harry. Not past the Veil.”
Harry’s stomach clenched at the reminder that Sirius was lost to him. He wondered if he would ever be able to think of the man without the wash of grief and guilt.
“But to remember him with a marker,” Mrs Tonks continued, “and as Head, to say all is forgiven? That would be appropriate."
"I just think, it doesn't seem right to inter them on Black land unless they are welcomed back. Because then the family, the ones already dead, would not be ... oh this sounds stupid... kind to them." Harry remembered how important it was to have his family following him when he went to face Voldemort.
"So, if I welcome them back, will that let the land or the family, or whatever, know to – Merlin!” He interrupted himself in frustration. “This is all so esoteric, and I don't know what I'm talking about, but I have started to realize that the dead are still part of us, and we of them. In more ways than Muggles think. I just want for them both to be content."
Harry flushed, embarrassed at his confused outburst.
"Harry, the Blacks are a Proud and Ancient House, and my aunt was a very determined woman, but I assure you, my gran would have been delighted to dandle Teddy on her knee, motto or no. That you are beginning to understand some things makes me feel a great deal of relief."
"Oh." Harry wasn't sure what to feel. He still did not understand anything, but it felt like something had been decided, if he could only figure out what.
"So, are we agreed? I will undertake to have the tapestry repaired, if you can find a way to get it to me. You will allow us to honour the memory of Sirius, and the lives of Dora and Remus. The Black family will follow all the forms." She paused, then gave a definitive nod. "You have your answer, young man; the Black family, with you at the Head, is one to which I would very much like to return."
Harry did not expect that to feel as good as it did. He had offered because it was the right thing to do, but from the way she said it, her acceptance was an acceptance of him.
“That being said, there are a few other things we should settle. First, we should go see the Black family land, and inspect the small Mausoleum. It has been a long time since I have been there, and I suspect it has also been a while since anyone has been there. It may not be in the best condition. We’ll have to see whether we can get it into a condition to bring Dora to. Also, you need to decide whether you will allow outsiders onto the grounds to attend the funeral. At one time, the Black family was large enough that there would be enough witches and wizards within the family to complete the rite. Now...”
“I would like to invite my friends Ron and Hermione. And the rest of the Weasleys, if they want to attend. There might be some others who want to remember Remus.”
“Yes, in that Order of Albus’.” She paused, then quirked her lips. “Weasleys at a Black funeral on the Black estate. There will be some rolling about in the Mausoleum on that day.” Andromeda Tonks smiled, and for a second, he saw a family resemblance to Sirius.
“Once you officially accept us back into the family, I will be able to enter, and Narcissa and her son will already have that right. Others will be by your permission only. I will see to a guest list, and you should consider who you would like to invite. The invitations can be charmed to allow entry, or even charmed as Portkeys.
Harry grimaced at the thought.
“Yes, I have heard of your unfortunate experience with a Portkey. We can charm them with a phrase, keyed to the name of the recipient and a particular time, so that only upon saying the phrase, within a particular span of time, can the person on the invitation activate the Portkey. Will that be satisfactory?”
Harry nodded, grateful that she understood.
“Well then. The next thing for it, is for you to accept the Black family.”
“What do I have to do?”
“We’ll need the will. Either it contains the enchantments within the parchment, or it will give you a clue as to how to go about activating them.”
“Where would it be? I know Dumbledore saw it. Do you think he’d have put a copy in the Headmaster’s office?”
“If it is like most family wills, a copy would be filed at the Ministry, by Ministry law, and a copy would be filed at the family estate. The writer would put the original in a safe place. My guess is that Dumbledore may have seen the Ministry copy, or possibly found the original.”
“If Sirius wrote it after escaping from Azkaban, he would have been either on the run or locked up at Grimmauld Place.”
“If he was on the run, he could have put it anywhere. But he spent quite a bit of time at Grimmauld Place. I think that would be a good place to start looking.”
Harry hesitated. “While Hermione, Ron and I were out looking for what was needed to defeat Voldemort, we had to stop at Grimmauld Place. We searched it quite thoroughly. As did someone before us.” Harry remembered the fragments of a letter that he had found there. Snape had gotten in. And Snape had been in love with his mother. Suddenly he wished he had stayed at the Burrow, weeding with Percy. Life had seemed so much simpler. He wanted a chance to finally be a child, or … just Harry, and here he was expected to take on yet another adult responsibility. Sirius had never done these things. Harry had never even known that Sirius was Head of the Black family, not really. So why did he need to do them? All he had wanted was a chance to say goodbye to Remus. A chance to have a funeral for someone he could pretend was family. Why did he need to become the Head of House for not only the Potter family but also the Blacks, only one of which he loved well enough to even call family?
But he had seen the wistful look in Mrs Tonks eyes, when he mentioned welcoming her, and her daughter, back into the Black family. It seemed such a little thing to do to give Mrs Tonks a measure of peace. She had lost her husband, and her daughter, and had been disowned from her own family. Besides, welcoming the two of them back would create yet another link with his godson, and in a way with Remus. Welcoming them into the Black family would give him back a family of sorts as well. And there was very little he would not do for that.
He didn’t suppose it was such a big thing to become head of a family, since there were so few people in the family. In the Potter family, it was only himself. And in the Black family, it would be Mrs Tonks, who was more than competent enough to look after herself, and Teddy, who he was responsible for anyway.
So, for Remus, for Tonks, for Mrs Tonks, for little Teddy, and to help Sirius play one last prank on the Ancient and Noble House of Black, Harry would do what was required.
“Okay, first to Grimmauld Place, then if it isn’t there, to the Headmaster’s office. Why not just ask at the Ministry?”
“Have you been paying attention to what is happening at the Ministry these days?” Mrs Tonks asked him with a wry quirk to her lips.
“Oh. I suppose I’d just as soon let them get on with it,” Harry said, remembering the chaos Hermione described. “Grimmauld Place it is, then.”