The Sugar Quill
Author: ilene  Story: Breaking News  Chapter: Chapter Two: Andromeda
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Breaking News

Breaking News

Written by ilene

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Chapter Two: Andromeda 

 

Andromeda woke to a sound of some object falling to the floor with a loud crash.   Having grown used to such sounds ever since Nymphadora was old enough to walk, she did not leap up, but instead, rolled over and flopped her arm across to Ted's side of the bed. 

 

She was rather surprised to find that her hand touched only the exposed sheet that seemed, from the coolness of it, to have been left that way for some time.

 

How many times do I have to tell him to turn the covers back when he gets out of bed?  Andromeda rubbed her eyes and reached for her glasses on the nightstand. 

 

Just as she noticed the paper airplane on Ted's pillow, the bedroom door opened, and she saw a figure casting a tall shadow on the floor.

 

"Ted?"

 

"No Mummy, it's me!"

 

Nymphadora walked into the room.  She had long straight hair the color of carrots today.  She looked like a normal seven-year-old, except for the fact that her legs were long enough to elevate her height to that of a fairly tall adult; her nightgown barely covered her thighs.

 

"Nymphadora Tonks, what in –"

 

"I'm sorry, Mummy!" she said.  "I knocked over the stepladder again.  It was just there in the hallway, I don't know why."

 

"Your father probably left it there," Andromeda said, not sure whether to laugh or roll her eyes.  Sometimes, she thought it was only a matter of time before some major catastrophe resulted from the combination of Nymphadora's clumsiness and Ted's inability to put anything back in its proper place.

 

"Where is Daddy?" Nymphadora asked. 

 

"Well, actually, he left us a note right here," Andromeda said, picking up the paper airplane.

 

"Ooh, that's a memo, isn't it?  Can I see, Mummy?"

 

"Let Mummy read it first," Andromeda said. The only reason she could think of for Ted to suddenly leave the house in the middle of the night was if there was some story that he had to cover.  But that hadn't happened for months, not since he'd been promoted to newsreader.

 

She felt the hair on the back of her neck rise as she read, “It's not You-Know-Who's doing, however."  Why did he think he should tell her that? 

 

"Nymphadora," she said, quickly getting out of bed, "We need to go to the treehouse."

 

"The treehouse!" Nymphadora said gleefully.  "That means Daddy's in the telly again!"

 

"On the telly," Andromeda corrected, automatically. "And why don't you shrink your legs back down?  It'll probably make it easier for you to walk."

 

"I know, Mummy," Nymphadora said.  "But I had to stretch up so I could see the owl!"

 

"Owl?"  Andromeda said.  "You saw an owl?"

 

"Uh-huh! It was hitting the window, and waving its wings like this!”  Nymphadora said, flapping her arms.  “So I stretched up to open the window, but I couldn't."

 

Andromeda stepped up close to her daughter.  "Nymphadora, don't you remember what Mummy told you?  We keep all the doors and windows locked at night."

 

"Oh, well, I guess the owl didn't know that," Nymphadora said.  "I think it got mad at me. And it went away."

 

"Well, if it was really important, the owl will come back," Andromeda said.  "And Mummy can open the window for it."

 

"Okay," Nymphadora said.  She smiled, then screwed up her face for a few moments; then her legs suddenly shrunk down to about half their length.  She took a few steps, then shrieked.

 

"Ow! My hair hurts!"

 

Andromeda saw that Nymphadora had stepped right onto a long lock of hair that was now touching the floor.

 

"Nymphadora, I think your hair is too long for you now,” she said gently.

 

"Oh," Nymphadora said.  She assumed a slightly pouting expression, and her hair shrank back to a more manageable length.

 

By the time Andromeda had gotten herself and her child into cloaks, and finally stepped out of the back door leading Nymphadora by the hand, she had started to think that she might have missed the report.  The "treehouse" that so delighted Nymphadora had been somewhat of a contentious point between Andromeda and Ted.  She still wondered why they hadn't just built a cottage on the ground to house the television room, where there was no chance that Nymphadora could tumble out and fall six feet to the ground. 

 

"Andromeda, six feet is nothing!  A Muggle could fall six feet, and he'd only sprain his ankle, or break his wrist, or something.  I had a treehouse when I was a kid, and it was even higher up...it wasn't even a house, really, just a little shack.  I had the time of my life in there!  I only fell once, climbing up, and I only skinned my knee."

 

"But Ted, you weren't a Muggle."

 

"Well, Dora isn't a Muggle either, is she, Andromeda?"

 

"Now, Nymphadora, you know the treehouse rules, right?"

 

"Yes, Mummy.  Don't climb up or down by myself, and no changing."

 

"Right, no changing."  This was a rule that had been added when Nymphadora was around three years old; until then, her ability had not created enough of a magical field to disrupt the television to any great degree.

 

She helped Nymphadora up into the treehouse, which, being absolutely devoid of magic, was exactly the same size inside as outside.  It consisted of two tiny rooms.  One was a playroom for Nymphadora, with large windows that offered a picturesque view of the backyard.  The other was just large enough for a small television in one corner, a rug, and two tiny chairs. 

 

"Nymphadora, wait her for a minute, okay? Mummy needs to go set up the television, " Andromeda said, hoping that she didn't sound too worried.  Ted usually sent word about the content of the story he'd be reporting, so that she could decide whether it was appropriate for Nymphadora to watch.  This time, however, she had no idea what the story was, except for those unsettling words, "It's not You-Know-Who..."

 

The moment she turned on the television, she was glad that her daughter was not there to see it.  The scene looked like something out of a Muggle war zone.  The street was filled with rubble, and she could see smoke rising into the air in the background. 

 

Ted was speaking, trying to look calm and unruffled, but the strained look on his face was as obvious to Andromeda as the redness of his eyes and the way his tie was askew, much more than any Muggle fashion would dictate.

 

"Now, as we have been reporting for the past hour, what appears to be a gas explosion has rocked what started as an ordinary morning in this neighborhood on the outskirts of London," he said.  "Initial reports are that at least nine people have been killed in the explosion, with at least fifty injured.  However, the official toll is expected to rise."

 

Gas explosion.  Andromeda sighed, as images flashed by on the TV screen. A close-up view of a deep crater in the center of the street.  Images of Muggles, some walking around looking dazed, others being rolled away on stretchers.  She shuddered, knowing quite well that this was no gas explosion.

 

"We have an eyewitness who was at the scene," Ted said, as a Muggle woman appeared. There was a bandage around her head.

 

"Mrs. Grundy, could you please tell me what you saw?"

 

"Well, I didn't see much, really," the Muggle woman said.  "I was just walking down the street, there, rushing to get to work.  I'm totally late now, but I suppose they'll be understanding, I could have been killed.... Anyway, I was waiting for the light, then suddenly, there was this giant blast, deafening, really, I think my ears are still ringing...it made me fly clean off my feet, it did."

 

"I see," Ted said. "What do you think about what happened?"

 

"Well, what am I supposed to think?  You said it was a gas explosion?"

 

"Yes, that seems to be the cause," Ted said. 

 

"Well, there's been a lot of gas explosions lately, haven't there?"

 

"Yes, I suppose," Ted said.  His face looked even more strained.

 

"You suppose? You're the newsman, you should know better than me.  But what I'm starting to think is, it could be sabotage."

 

"Sabotage?" 

 

"Oh, yes, maybe it's to do with the Troubles, I don't know, but I don't think they're all just accidents, either."

 

"Well, that's a very interesting theory, perhaps something worth pursuing –"

 

"You should,” the Muggle woman said. "All of you, and the Yard, and the Home Office…”

 

Ted looked distinctly uncomfortable.

 

"Well, thank you for your thoughts," he said.  "Now, speaking of the police, we're going to go to a press conference on this matter."

 

The images on the television shifted to some indoors location, where a Muggle policeman was standing at a podium.  Andromeda let her mind wander; she knew that whatever the policeman said about the situation was meaningless.  That Muggle woman had struck much closer to the truth with her sabotage theory.  Someone should send a memo to the Muggle-Worthy Excuses Committee, she thought. Muggles are starting to catch on to the gas explosion excuse.

 

She sighed.  Morning was a strange time for an attack…usually, the Death Eaters preferred to strike from the shadows after nightfall.  Few were brazen enough to strike in broad daylight, even before the supposed defeat of the Dark Lord...oh, why do I still call him that? Sirius would be furious with me…he even calls him by his actual name…

 

She opened her mouth, and tried to say the name, but could barely force the first sound from her throat.  “Vo…”

 

“Mummy!” 

 

Andromeda turned around swiftly to see her daughter.

 

“Nymphadora!  Didn’t I tell you to wait –“

 

“But Mummy, the owl’s here again!” she said.  “It’s tapping on the window, and it really looks mad this time!  It’s hitting the glass really hard…”

 

“Okay, Nymphadora,” Andromeda said, already regretting her initial harsh response.  “Daddy’s not on the telly, so we can go back to the house.  I’ll get the owl.”

 

She quickly turned off the television before the camera could shift again to that scene of destruction, and, if the numbers regarding causalities were right, carnage. 

 

She went to the window in the playroom, and found that the owl was a news-owl, with a rolled up copy of the Daily Prophet in its beak.  From the size of it, the paper appeared to not be the regular morning edition, but one of those special editions like the ones that had come in the morning before, about the sudden disappearance of…

 

As soon as she opened the window, the owl swooped down and dropped the paper on the floor.  Nymphadora quickly knelt down and picked it up.  The owl looked at her with a miffed expression on its face, then turned its attention to Andromeda, hooting loudly and pecking at the hem of her cloak. 

 

Andromeda sighed and began scrounging around in her pockets, hoping she had enough loose change.  She counted out three Knuts, then four, then…

 

“Mummy!”  Nymphadora said again, sounding excited.  “Cousin Sirius is in the paper! And he’s laughing!  He must have heard a really funny joke!  Maybe he’ll tell it to me when he comes to see us again!”

 

Andromeda glanced at the paper, and what she saw there made her drop all of the coins in her hand.  The owl began to hoot again, but she could barely hear it.

 

“BLACK ATTACK ON MUGGLE STREET”, the headline read. Under it was a picture of Sirius, looking as if he’d gone mad.

 

 

Author’s Note:  I realize that many sources, including the HP Lexicon, have the Sirius-Peter confrontation taking place on November 1, 1981, the same day that Harry is left with the Dursleys.  However, I have it taking place on November 2, 1981, the morning after Harry is left with the Dursleys.  This is based on the PoA conversation between Fudge, McGonagall, Hagrid, and Madam Rosmerta, when Hagrid talks about meeting Sirius when he is collecting Harry from the rubble of the house in Godric’s Hollow, then Rosmerta says “The Ministry of Magic caught up with him next day!”  I think of Voldemort’s attack on the Potters as occurring after midnight, a few hours before dawn broke on November 1, 1981.  So “next day” would be November 2, 1981. 

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