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Crocus by Equinox Chick

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For a long while, it was as if she were buried underground. Not too deep, and not enclosed in a hard wooden box or encased in marble, but below the surface, shrouded from light and the warmth of the sun. Like a forgotten bulb, she remained unearthed, unmoving but waiting through an ever-long winter. There were the odd glimmers of light, when the surface soil shifted (his laugh, his smile, so reminiscent of another, left her gasping for fresh air and not the dank atmosphere she inhabited). But far too often, there was nothing except the mundane, and the necessity of living because otherwise he’d have no one.

A bulb that would not flower again but decompose to mulch.

‘Rise and shine, my love.’

Andromeda Tonks was drinking her second cup of tea of the morning when the owl arrived. Beside her, Teddy’s face lit up and he could barely contain his excitement when it landed on the windowsill, pecking at the glass to be let in.

–Hawwy, Hawwy, Hawwy!” he shrieked.

But Andromeda shook her head, explaining as she opened the window, –That’s not Harry’s owl, darling. This one looks far too officious.”


She half smiled at his bewilderment. –No, Teddy, ‘officious’. I think this owl has come from an important person.”

–Nimportant,” Teddy muttered, trying out the word. –Hawwy’s nimportant?”

This time she did smile, and reached across to ruffle his hair.

–Yes. Harry is very ‘nimportant’,” she assured him. –But this isn’t his owl.”

Losing interest, Teddy returned to his milk and colouring book, giving a centaur a pink tail as Andromeda read the owl’s message. A short letter, but one she felt sure had been composed with great thought. Its sender was not one who acted lightly, and would have considered the consequences.

‘Madam Tonks,
As you may be aware from Harry, I have recently moved to the Law Department at the Ministry. In this capacity, I would be grateful if I could meet with you to discuss a matter of some importance and delicacy. If you are unable to make it to the Ministry, then please may I call on you?
Hermione Granger.’

The owl gave a soft hoot and started to clack its beak together. Taking the hint, Andromeda fed it an owl treat, whilst she composed her reply. Hermione’s letter, coupled with its formality, intrigued her because although it said very little, it was a break in Andromeda’s usual routine. A routine based entirely around her grandson. She could invite Hermione here; it wouldn’t take long to tidy up and she wouldn’t need to find someone to mind Teddy, but as she gazed out of the window and the grey clouds smothering all the blue out of the sky, she felt a sudden urge to escape.

I will be in London on Thursday and can meet you at eleven, if that is convenient.
Andromeda Tonks’


Hermione Granger was at her exceptionally tidy desk when Andromeda was shown into the legal department. With her hair tied at the nape of her neck, and wearing a severe set of robes in navy, she looked very much the owner of an ‘officious’ owl. Only the ring she sported on the third finger of her left hand, which she kept fiddling with, suggested her mind wasn’t completely on her work.

–I take it congratulations are in order?” Andromeda said as she took the proffered seat.

–Oh... yes, this. Ron proposed at the weekend. I’m just not -”

–Not used to the ring. Yes, I remember that,” Andromeda replied. Then seeing Hermione flush uncomfortably, she smiled a little. –I don’t expect you wished to see me to discuss engagement rings, though.”

–Uh ... no, not at all. Quite the reverse in fact.”

–In what way?” Andromeda asked.

Hermione heaved a sigh, and reached for a file on top of her in tray. Getting to her feet, she gestured towards the door. –I’m afraid the quiet chat I wanted with you about this case has developed its own voice. And although I was the one that unearthed the details, as a junior member of the department, it has been deemed too important for me to deal with alone.”

–Where are we going, then?” Andromeda asked, realising she didn’t even know who was in charge of the Legal Department.

–To see my boss, Hilaria Gamp,” Hermione replied, adding in a warmer tone, –and Kingsley Shacklebolt.”

–Kingsley?” Andromeda stopped in her tracks. –You mean the Minister for Magic is involved.”

–Mmm,” Hermione said, and grimaced. –Sorry, Madam Tonks, I would bring you up to speed, but there’s really no time. The Minister is on a very tight schedule but insisted he be present for this meeting.”

–Stop!” Andromeda ordered, surprising herself with the vehemence in her tone. Hermione stopped. –That’s better. Hermione, I am here at your request, but I will not be ambushed in a meeting the subject of which I know nothing about.”

–I’ve been told to say-”


The younger witch turned and faced Andromeda. –Sorry, I realise this is very unfair on you. I’m not sure why Madam Gamp wants this kept under wraps, as that wasn’t my intention at all, but-–

–The only reason I can see is that she does not want to give me time to consider my options,” Andromeda replied wintrily, and stared straight into Hermione’s eyes. –What she clearly does not know about me is that I will not be pressured into anything. I am stubborn, Miss Granger. And I mull things over. You clearly think this affair is important, and you want me on your side, so start talking.”

There was a silence, a matter of seconds, then Hermione blinked. –Rabastan Lestrange is dying,” she whispered.

Sucking in her breath, Andromeda felt her heart stop in her chest, and then the beats became erratic. Her palms, usually so dry, began to sweat as the old familiar hatred churned inside of her.

–Good,” she muttered, and took a step back. –This has nothing to do with me.”

–It does because-” Hermione started to explain, but her words were cut short when a door opened and a severe looking witch walked out.

–Miss Granger, I told you to bring our guest to my office immediately. There is no time for idle chit-chat, not when Minister Shacklebolt has kindly graced us with his presence.”

Arching an eyebrow, Andromeda perused Hilaria Gamp, her first observation being that the woman was badly named. The expression on her face, together with the carefully coiffured blonde hair, and square-rimmed glasses, utterly belied any hilarity.

–Miss Granger was doing me the courtesy of answering my questions, which were not idle or otherwise,” Andromeda replied haughtily. –And as much as I am ‘honoured’ that the Minister has been able to squeeze in a meeting with me, I have all the time in the world, Madam Gamp, and will adhere to my own schedule.”

Hilaria Gamp lowered her gaze first and stepped to the side, allowing Andromeda and Hermione to enter her office. It was spacious, with an overlarge desk that looked as if it belonged elsewhere. Andromeda smiled to herself, remembering something Ted had once told her about under-endowed wizards preferring large broomsticks. Perhaps Hilaria had a similar need, stating her worth in oak. Andromeda’s attention drifted to the walls, plastered with photographs of Hilaria at various functions, before she spotted the figure standing in the far corner, looking out of the window.

–Minister,” she began.

He raised his hand. –No need to be formal, Andromeda.”

–Isn’t this a formal occasion?” she asked.

He smiled, a little sadly. –The subject matter is serious enough, but titles are unnecessary.” Stepping towards her, he gestured at the chairs. –It’s good to see you again, but I am sorry it is under these circumstances.”

–Rabastan Lestrange is dying,” Andromeda said, quelling Hilaria’s protest before she could begin. –I don’t see how these circumstances are any concern of mine, unless you want me to despatch him.”

There, she’d said it. She’d wanted him dead a long time ago. Natural causes seemed an unjust way for his life to end, not after everything that had happened.

–Please, Andromeda, will you take a seat?” Kingsley asked, again gesturing towards the chair.

She sat, taking her time, for despite the seriousness of the occasion, she was enjoying Hilaria’s grimace when she wouldn’t do exactly as she was told. –Why am I here?” she said, turning to Hermione.

–Uh ...” Hermione cleared her throat and after a quick nod from Kingsley continued. –Rabastan Lestrange hasn’t made a will. He is incapable now and is expected to die before the night is through.”

–I am not a Lestrange,” Andromeda said softly. –Again, this is not my concern.”

–But you are a Rosier,” Kingsley stated. He sat on a chair, edging closer to her. –As I understand it from Hermione, Rabastan’s grandmother was your mother’s aunt, which made you second cousins.”

She shook her head. –You are forgetting, Minister, that I was disinherited. Madam Malfoy is the heir.

–From the Black family, yes, you were disinherited,” Hermione informed her, –but not the Rosier -”

–Madam Tonks,” interrupted Hilaria briskly. –Rabastan Lestrange was his brother’s heir. The contents of your sister and brother-in-law’s vault were transferred to him before we could stop it. He acted like lightning in a matter of hours after the Battle, and we haven’t been able to gain permission to enter his vault. But he’s dying, and with a new heir, we can finally gain access. There will be money for you, and who knows what other secrets your sister was hid-–

–No!” Andromeda spoke calmly, but her voice carried a ring of authority.

–You’re refusing to help the Ministry?” Hilaria questioned, disapproval quivering from her lower lip.

–Do not refer to that woman as my sister,” Andromeda countered. –I was blasted out of the Black family over thirty years ago. I have no sisters. A sister would not have murdered her niece. Just as a cousin, second or otherwise, would not have murdered my husband.”

–We don’t know that’s the case,” Hermione said. –It’s never been confirmed where Rabastan Lestrange was the night Ted, Dirk Cresswell and Gornuk were killed.”

–Rabastan Lestrange was in charge of the Snatchers,” Andromeda stated. –I hold him responsible for Ted’s death. He should have been tried for murder, but he was not.”

Kingsley coughed. –The outcome would have been the same. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.”

–It wasn’t enough,” Andromeda snapped. Then, feeling a sharp pain in her stomach, where the knot of tension continued to twist, she got to her feet. –I do not want Lestrange’s money. Give it to ...” She closed her eyes, a sudden flush and light-headedness taking hold of her. Gripping the back of the chair, she tried to steady herself before leaving, but her head was spinning.

–Miss Granger, fetch help!” Hilaria called as Andromeda sank towards the floor, her fall only broken when Kingsley caught her.

She was out maybe a few seconds, hearing the flustered squawks of Hilaria, and then Kingsley’s slow lilt.

–I’ve got this,” he was saying. –Hermione, fetch some tea and biscuits. Hilaria, there is no need to use ‘Ennervate’, just give Madam Tonks some space. In fact, leave us alone for a while. There must be other things you need to attend to.”

Hearing two pairs of footsteps and the door open then close, Andromeda slowly opened her eyes. Kingsley was lowering her onto some newly Summoned cushions, placing a several under her feet. –They’ve gone,” he murmured. –You can wake up now.”

–I wasn’t pretending,” she retorted.

–I know. You went incredibly pale and gave us all a shock.”

–Gave you a shock!” She laughed bitterly. –Wasn’t that the idea of this meeting? To browbeat me into agreeing a course of action I would never want to follow.”

He pressed his lips together. –I believe that was Madam Gamp’s idea. She thought the money would appeal to you. Hermione wasn’t altogether happy with it, which was why she approached me.”

–But you want my help?”

Sitting on the floor next to her, Kingsley nodded. –We would like access to his vault. Before he was captured, Rabastan cast several curses, which have meant there could be no access until his death. And even then, it is only a blood relative who can enter.” He smiled grimly. –I very much doubt that Narcissa Malfoy will cooperate.”

A faint tap at the door distracted Andromeda from her thoughts. As Hermione re-entered the room bearing a tray of tea and biscuits, Andromeda forced herself to sit up, despite Kingsley urging her to stay where she was.

–Stop fussing,” she muttered, and pulled herself onto a chair. –I picked at breakfast, that’s all. Getting Teddy to eat something other than Chocolate Frogs rather takes it out of me.” She glanced at Hermione, who was hovering beside them. –Can you tell me why you wanted to see me? Is it just because you want access to the Lestrange secrets? I’m not sure there’s much more you could learn about Bellatrix.”

Setting the tray on the desk, Hermione poured three cups, and pushed the plate of biscuits towards Andromeda. –I want justice, Madam Tonks.”

–In what way?”

–The Lestranges were not an especially wealthy family,” Hermione said, –and neither were the Blacks. At least, there was very little inheritedwealth at the time of their deaths. But your sister’s - sorry, I mean the Lestranges’ vault was full of gold and treasure.” She stopped speaking, a furious blush spreading on her cheeks.

Kingsley took over. –Hermione believes that the Lestranges confiscated the possessions from Muggle-borns. She would like to see them returned.”

‘Justice, Dromeda, that girl’s an idealist.’

–Didn’t Bellatrix leave a will?” Andromeda asked. –If the contents of the vault were that valuable, then she wouldn’t have wanted those of impure blood to benefit.”

Hermione grimaced. –I’m not sure Bellatrix knew exactly what was in the vault. Money was secondary to serving Voldemort, and anything associated with ‘Mudbloods’ she’d have wanted destroyed. But ... Rodolphus and Rabastan may not have been so... um... scrupulous. They served time in Azkaban for him, but Rabastan fled the Battle as soon as he could.”

Andromeda sipped her tea, and crunched through a biscuit, feeling its sweetness revive her. There was something else, too. Rabastan was dying and the Ministry needed her. It needed her heritage to put something right.

‘Careful, my love. I’d hate you to get dragged back.’

But there were downsides. The Daily Prophet’s interest in her would peak again. She’d been intensely private throughout her marriage; the blood tie with Bellatrix had led to so much spite railed at her, and later Dora. After the Battle, the paper had fallen over itself in a bid to make amends, but by then it was too late. She wouldn’t play along with the role they wanted to assign of the wronged heroine, struggling day-to-day to bring up her grandson. And she refused to talk about her other family - those long dead ghosts who’d marred her existence.

But if she didn’t help the Ministry, then everything would go to Narcissa.

–Andromeda, if you are at all unhappy, then we will say no more about it,” Kingsley said.

She watched as he signalled to Hermione to clear the tray and leave, and then he stood up, and offered her his arm.

–I’m in two minds,” she admitted. –I know Ted would want me to help. I can practically hear his voice, but he’d also urge caution. So I’d like to know more about the vault and what is expected of me before I agree.”

–Certainly,” Kingsley replied. He smiled. –Time is a rather precious commodity in this case, though, so if you don’t have to rush off to collect Teddy, then maybe we could discuss it over lunch?”

Her eyes widened, but the automatic refusal died on her lips. Lunch - that was all - and this was important. –Teddy is with Molly Weasley, who is no doubt having more success in getting him to eat his vegetables than I do,” she replied, and smiled tentatively back. –She told me to take the whole day off, if I wished. But aren’t you incredibly busy, Minister Shacklebolt?”

–I have to eat,” he replied, and winked. –But I’m with Teddy, and much prefer Chocolate Frogs to broccoli!”
Chapter Endnotes: This story is going to get updated pretty sharpish. Hold on to your hats.