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Crocus by Equinox Chick

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Kingsley didn’t wince when she examined his hand, and this worried her. He’d said he couldn’t move his fingers, but she hadn’t realised that meant he couldn’t feel anything.

–Good job it’s not my wand hand.” The joke belied the fear in his eyes. It may not have been the hand he favoured, but if the loss of sensation spread ...

Rummaging through her medicine cupboard, Andromeda sorted through the herbs, pulling out the several she needed. Her fingers touched something small and hard.

–Take this,” she said, handing him a Bezoar. –It’s more effective with ingested poisons, but it will keep the Doxycide at bay, at least until I can mix a suitable paste to draw out the poison.”

–You know what you’re talking about,” he muttered.

–My Black legacy,” she said blithely.

–You sound ashamed of that.” he said and swallowed the Bezoar.

Surprised, she burst into laughter. –Ashamed of being related to pure-blood maniacs. Merlin forfend!”

–I knew five members of the Black family,” Kingsley replied quietly. –Only one would I consider to have been truly evil. Another is ignorant. But three ...” He touched her arm with one finger. –Sirius was one of the finest men I ever knew. Regulus came good in the end, and you, Andromeda...”

–I did nothing,” she retorted, pulling away.

–You were there when it mattered to stop spreading all that hate and raising an outstanding daughter. Sirius’s rebellion may have been louder, but yours, Andromeda, left a more important legacy.”

She didn’t speak, instead turning to her herbs and oils, pounding them into a pale green paste that she hoped would do the trick.

‘He’s not wrong there, Dromeda.’

With a blank expression, she sat down next to Kingsley and cleaned his hand. –This will hurt. I don’t mean a sting - it will burn. Doxycide works by paralysing the nerves. In small doses, we’d feel nothing, but I’m guessing that Rabastan deliberately laced the tapestry with a stronger solution. The antidote I’ve mixed works by neutralising the poison, but while it drains from your system, it will be painful.”

–How long for?” he asked.

–Four, maybe five hours,” she replied. –You can stay here. In fact, you’ll have to because I need to make sure it’s applied every hour. Or I can take you now to St Mungo’s.”

He considered, but only for the briefest of moments. –I suppose a Firewhisky’s out of the question to take away the pain.”

Her mouth quivered into a smile. –I might have a bottle somewhere. Ted and Remus used to enjoy the occasional glass,” she said levelly.

Kingsley braced himself for the paste, grimacing as she began to apply it onto the minuscule wound. –I seem to remember Tonks wasn’t averse to a drop herself.”

‘Don’t listen to him, Mum!’

Oh, hush, Nymphadora. I knew you liked a drink.

Kingsley Shacklebolt, Minister for Magic, was a success because he was fair, strong and got things done. He was also tough, his years as an Auror and the Second War had made him that way. It was this toughness, this stoicism, that brought him through the first hour of pain. Andromeda had been preparing herself for his anguish and anger, but after his initial shout as the first wave of antidote met the poison, he managed to keep a lid on his cries. It was when she applied the paste for the second time that his strength began to wane.

She’d led him by then to the living room, ensuring he was comfortable on the sofa, whilst she sat opposite.

–How much longer?” he said, through gritted teeth.

–Two, maybe three hours.” She nudged the glass towards him. –Have some Firewhisky.”

He was perspiring again, and she started to wonder if she’d have to send for a Healer after all, but the one thing he was insistent upon, was that he be left alone.

–This can’t reach the papers,” he rasped. –I can’t be weak.”

–You’re not,” she pleaded. –You’re in pain. Let me find a Healer, or Poppy Pomfrey, perhaps. I’ll be gone a matter of minutes, Kingsley.”

He shook his head, then growled at the effort it cost him. –Stay here and distract me instead.”

–How? Shall I read to you? Will the radio help?”

–Talk to me about Teddy,” he gasped.

So, after Summoning the photographs she had of him, and settling them on the coffee table, Andromeda began to talk about her grandson. Small things: the way he woke up with brown hair after a peaceful night, but red if he’d been restless. How he currently hated the colour green (‘although that’s probably because he loathes broccoli’) so used blue for grass.

Kingsley listened to her tales, his face contorting as he grimaced through the pain, before finally rasping, –Is he like Tonks?”

–Dora,” she automatically corrected, then sighed. –In some ways, yes. Obviously he’s a Metamorphmagus, so everyone assumes he’s the same as his mother, but when he’s not changing his features, he resembles Remus and ...” She swallowed. –There’s a look of Ted about him. Not much of me.”

Wincing, Kingsley grappled for the most recent photograph: Teddy grinning as Harry chased him around the garden. –He has your eyes, Andromeda. And your smile, although-” He stopped speaking shifted his position and downed more Firewhisky. –You don’t smile enough, which is a shame because you have a beautiful smile.”

She let the remark slide, knowing he was the worse the wear for alcohol and in pain. –He has her determination,” she continued. –And -”

‘He’s complimenting you again, you know. And he’s not that drunk.’

–Oh hush, you!”


–Nothing,” she said, and sought for something else to say. –Harry’s very good with Teddy. I was a little perplexed when Dora and Remus declared he’d be the godfather, but they were right. Teddy adores him.”

–He had a shit childhood,” Kingsley muttered. –I suspect it helps him, too.”

They relaxed back into silence, Kingsley’s eyes drooped, but she stayed awake and watched for any signs that he was improving. She was sure enough of her skill not to doubt the diagnosis, but the problem was that the strength of the Doxycide was unknown. She sat and brooded, her eyes flickering from his face and back to his arm, yet as far as she could tell nothing had changed.

He shifted on the sofa and the movement woke him. –This is starting to feel better,” Kingsley muttered, and flexed his fingers. –You should have been a Healer.”

A wave of nostalgia hit her. –I thought about it,” she said. –Potions was always my best subject, but ... well ... I was rather distracted in my seventh year and completely messed up the exam.”

–Was this distraction Ted?”

Her mouth moved into a rueful smile. –Mmm. We eloped shortly after. I could have retaken the exam - Ted certainly wanted me to - but I had other priorities.”

–Like what?”

–Like keeping my head down and hiding from my father,” she said wryly.

–Shame to have wasted your talent,” he replied.

–It wasn’t wasted!” she retorted, a sudden rush of irritation disturbing her usual composure. –I worked for an Apothecary after we married and at St Mungo’s once Dora had gone to school. Besides, I didn’t have the right temperament for a Healer. Not enough patience and my bedside manner was - and still is - shocking!”

Although he laughed, he looked weary. –I think your lack of fuss is exactly what I need. And it’s nice to see some of that fire again, Andromeda.”

Faintly annoyed that she’d so easily risen to the bait, Andromeda rose from her seat, telling him she was going to mix more paste. She took her time, not nearly as worried about Kingsley as she had been the few hours before, lingering to make up a plate of sandwiches and some cocoa.

–You certainly look much better,” she said on her return. –Your eyes are brighter, and your skin isn’t as clammy.”

–Have I avoided a visit to St Mungo’s?” he asked.

She sat on the edge of the sofa and examined his hand. There was still an angry looking puncture mark where the needle had penetrated, and the skin surrounding it had developed a purplish hue, but as she slid her fingers up his forearm, she noted with relief, that his skin was no longer hot to the touch.

–I think so,” she said. –Drink the cocoa, its sweetness will help.”

–Yes, ma’am,” he said, but he wasn’t mocking her; she could see that from his eyes which held only gratitude. –I owe you for this.”

Sipping her cocoa, she eyed him with scepticism. –I strongly suspect, Minister, that the reason you don’t wish to visit St Mungo’s has far more to do with my hatred of the press than yours.”

He wouldn’t quite meet her gaze, helping himself to a sandwich before answering. –An injury could make me look weak.”

–Nonsense! It makes you look as if you’re still willing to put yourself at risk.”

–Foolhardy and reckless, that’s what Rita Skeeter would say.”

–Brave and courteous,” she countered. –You didn’t have to accompany me, Kingsley.”

–You make me sound like a Gryffindor.”

Shaking her head, she placed her mug carefully on the table, and picked up the bowl of paste. –You weren’t at all reckless, but quick-witted and clear thinking. It was your lack of knowledge regarding the tapestry that caused the injury.”

–I should have talked to you before I touched it,” he said ruefully, examining his hand. –Thinking I have the answers has always been my problem.”

–Worrying that I don’t has always been mine,” she said wryly. There was a small silence. She bit into a sandwich, and searched for something to say, but she’d exhausted the subject of Teddy, and she couldn’t face discussing Dora, who was the only other person they had in common.

–The vault didn’t only hold stolen treasure, you know,” Kingsley said. He’d resumed drinking his Firewhisky, small sips and not the gulps from earlier. –There should be a sizeable amount left for you, even after Narcissa’s taken her share.”

–I have enough,” she said. –And I’m sure Rabastan didn’t mean me to have anything. He would have thought I’d been disinherited.”

–Mmm, curious that,” he murmured.

–What’s curious?”

–Well, the Black family felt so strongly about you, that you were blasted off the family tree. I remember Tonks not able to get Kreacher to obey her, because the blood tie had been severed. So, you would have thought ...”

–Thought what?” she demanded, a frown creasing her forehead.

–That your mother would have done the same to protect the Rosier inheritance. But she didn’t.”

–That means nothing!”

He leant forward. –You said you were scared of your father. Perhaps your mother would have been more sympathetic.”

–I was hexed so badly when Narcissa informed my father that she’d seen me with a ‘Mudblood’, that I couldn’t leave my bed for a week. My mother may not have cast those curses, but she didn’t protect me, either.” She swallowed then, Summoning a glass, poured herself a shot of Firewhisky. –As a mother, the most important thing you do is to protect your child from everything.. So ... yes, Druella may well have been sympathetic, but she did nothing to help me. She never even saw Dora. What type of woman doesn’t want to see her own grandchild!”

–The money’s still there,” Kingsley said softly, when there was a lull between words. –And whilst it won’t set you up for life, it would certainly make a difference to Teddy.”

–He doesn’t want for anything!” she snapped.

–But spending it on his future is surely better than leaving it to moulder in a vault.”

–So practical!”

–Not a bad quality, surely.” He drained his glass. –Just think about it, Andromeda. That’s all I’m saying.”

–I have,” she replied, adding in a more measured tone. –But I will think again.”

She applied more paste. This time an indrawn breath was the only acknowledgement she had from Kingsley that the medicine stung. The skin on his forearm had returned to its normal colour: dark treacle with a hint of burnished gold. Smooth and warm, dark satin, velvety soft ...

Gods, what has got into me!

‘Ha, ha, ha, Mum, you like him!’


Telling herself that she needed to watch over Kingsley, Andromeda insisted he stay the night. They talked a little more, then she found blankets and settled him on the sofa, whilst she sat by the fire and watched the flames dwindle to embers.

–You can leave me here,” he murmured, now very drowsy. –I’ll call if I feel bad.”

–I’ll stay,” she replied. –I catnap at the best of times, and the nights I’ve spent in this chair are too many to count.”

–You’re a good woman, Madam Tonks.” He yawned, his eyelids drooping. –You must allow me to buy you lunch again ... or dinner.”

–There’s no need,” she said, but Kingsley was already asleep.

She cleared the photographs from the table, arranging them back on their shelves. The last one, the photograph of Teddy with Harry, she placed next to Dora’s wedding photo - a hurried snapshot, but no one could deny how happy they looked.

–I was vile to you, Remus,” she said, tracing her son-in-law’s face with her finger. –I was wrong, I know that, but I hope you know it was only to protect my girl.”

‘He knows, Mum.’

Managing four hours of sleep, Andromeda awoke when she heard a small cough. Kingsley was awake, standing in front of her with a tray of tea, looking brighter and far more composed than he had last night.

–Forgive me for waking you, Andromeda, but I should leave,” he said, and smiled. –Rita will have a field day if I’m late for work, especially if I’m still wearing the same clothes as yesterday.”

Getting to her feet, Andromeda was about to offer him a proper breakfast, when a loud hammering on the door startled them both.

–Madam Tonks,” screeched Rita Skeeter. –Your sister tells me you wouldn’t let her in the vault, and that you left with the Minister. Any comment?”

–Hell!” Kingsley flattened himself against the wall, peering out of the sitting room to the front door. –She’s got a photographer with her as well. Look, I can deal with this. I can force her to leave, but then she’ll know I’ve been here.”

She didn’t need to think. –Go,” she ordered. –I can handle Rita.”

He pulled out his Portkey, tapping it with his wand until it began to glow. Then, darting away from the wall, he bent his head forwards to peck her cheek.

At least that’s what she’d thought he meant to do, but at the same time he moved, she twisted her face around. Their lips met. She should have pulled away. She could still hear Rita screeching on her doorstep, but no other voices invaded her brain. Time slowed, and all she could feel was Kingsley’s mouth on hers, and then his arms around her waist, pulling her close.

–Come on, Andromeda!” cried Rita. –What have you got to hide?”

–You need to go,” Andromeda mumbled, and pulled away.

Kingsley gazed at her, his hand reached towards her face, but then he checked himself. –I do have to go. But we will speak. Over dinner, perhaps?”

–Not tonight,” she said. –Teddy will be back.”

–Any evening you choose,” he replied. –But we should talk, Andromeda.”

She swallowed, and raising her hand to her mouth, she traced the place where his lips had been. –Yes, we will.”