Hope and Loss
It was no longer dawn. The pink blush of
the morning had been replaced by clear blue skies and a strong breeze which
decked the surface of the Lake out in white lace ruffles. Someone had already
started to organise a clean up operation. Dean could see a small group of house
elves and kids piling up fallen masonry in the courtyard outside the window and
Professor Flitwick had just gone past herding four grumbling suits of armour
back to their proper place. Of course, since people were trying to tidy up,
Peeves was causing chaos; a heap of blackboards had somehow ended up in
Greenhouse Three and Neville had rushed off to give the poltergeist a piece of
his mind. Dean had been vaguely amused to see that the other boy still had the
Sword of Gryffindor and a gaggle of devotees trailing after him. There was one
bloke who would never have to buy himself a drink again, not with that story to
tell. Dean had already heard someone call him the True Heir of Gryffindor.
Somehow Dean doubted that people would be
queuing up to hear his part in the battle. Professor Lupin had died trying to
keep Dolohov from killing him and then after a scant few minutes of near misses
he’d gone down. He had woken up in the Great Hall sometime later with his
insides unscrambled, however Madam Pomphrey had absolutely refused to let him
go back to the “bloodbath” as there were too many foolish heroes out there and
that one more wouldn’t make a difference, but she needed another pair of hands.
She had been right, more than right. So many of those foolish heroes had been
carried or dragged in to the refuge of the Great Hall by friends with white
blood splattered faces who asked Dean in hoarse voices if they would be
alright. Sometimes they were…and sometimes they weren’t and sometimes Madam
Pomphrey had taken one look at their newest patient, shaken her head and said
“Give him some Dreamless Sleep Dean, let him go easy.”
No. He couldn’t imagine anyone ever
standing him a drink for that story. He couldn’t imagine himself ever talking
Maybe that was why he was avoiding entering
the celebrations. Right now he couldn’t believe in a bright new world. Not
after months of being Undesirable 387 and hiding and watching people getting
killed and watching people die and…helping people rest. It couldn’t all just
end could it? Maybe it was because he hadn’t actually seen You Know… Voldemort
die. He hadn’t seen it and therefore it might not be real, this victory of
“No little miss you is not to be doing
that.” Out in the courtyard a tiny house-elf was shaking his long finger at a
young girl, “You is to put that rock down in that pile like Missis Parvati is
telling you to or I is making you sorry.” Shame faced the girl did as she was
Dean found himself smiling. Maybe it was
real. Maybe this was the Someday that Ted had told him to keep an eye out for.
And maybe he ought to go and find Luna and ask her if she had really meant it
when she’d said that she would quite like to see a football match with him.
But maybe that would be a silly question,
after all, he thought jumping down off his window seat perch, Luna always meant
what she said. Every single word.
The boy stepped out of an alcove and
Andromeda had to stop walking to prevent herself from bumping into him. Teddy
gave a muffled squeak of protest from the sling at her front and she rocked him
absentmindedly as she accepted the boy’s mumbled apology. In a strange way she
would almost have preferred it if he hadn’t bothered. Far too many people had
been telling her that they were sorry recently. Sorry for Ted, sorry for Nymph,
sorry that they had thought she was Bella and accidentally drawn their wands on
her. Everyone was just too damn sorry.
She would have moved on then, allowed the
boy to become just another misty face among many, but then he called her by her
“Andromeda.” He repeated when she turned,
startled to face him, “You’re Ted’s wife, aren’t you.”
It wasn’t really a question.
She still didn’t recognise him. But then
Ted had always been good with people, often he’d talk to a man for five minutes
on the bus and next thing she knew the man would be invited round for supper.
So many people wanting to pay their condolences….
“I am his wife.” And would always, always
be. “But he’s been dead these long months now so if you’ll excuse me…”
“I know, I mean, I was there when he died.”
His words echoed through my mind. Memories
suddenly stirred, flung up into the air like dust before a broom.
I hadn’t been with Ted. I had been having
yet another quiet night in, sitting by the fire knitting bootees and listening
to Nymph and my son-in-law discuss possible locations for the next episode of
that radio program. Even my fear for Ted’s safety, which for months had been a
constant ache at the back of my mind, had diminished. After all, he’d evaded
capture for so many months, of course he would survive a few more and then the
baby would be born and maybe…. I had hoped that things would get better.
I hadn’t even known until the next day.
Those…animals had just dumped him and gone to bed, their pocket’s
jingling with blood money from a good day at work. No one had even had the
common courtesy to come around and tell me in person. Instead I had been summoned
by some bastard of a bureaucrat to view a corpse and answer questions on the
whereabouts a Mudblood boy named Dean Thomas, and a goblin.
It’s very odd, what you remember. The
questions had been as meaningless as the jabbering of Doxies. But Ted… there
had been earth under his fingernails and a small twig tangled in the hair above
his left ear. The jeans that I had washed and ironed the day before he’d left
were torn at the knees, through the holes I could see grass stains mixed with
mud and blood. I can remember how cold his hand was and the feeling of holding
meat on bones. Someone had closed his eyes, looking back I know that that was a
respectful thing to have done, but at the time I had wished that they hadn’t. I
had wanted to look him in the eye, so that I could have seen him again.
Not a corpse on a table.
What came next still haunts me.
“Madam Lestrange,” the questioner had said,
Nymph’s hand had tightened around my own, “wishes you to see this. If you will
The young man in Healer’s robes had made a
very slight noise of protest and had avoided my gaze as he stepped out from his
corner to roll up the sleeves of Ted’s shirt and to twitch his collar away from
“Madam Lestrange said to tell you that now
you can see what she has always known.”
Nymph had started to shout and had reached
for her wand but Remus had held her back, held her until the tears had come and
she had collapsed against him, her anger, for the moment, submerged in grief. I
hadn’t been able to cry, only stand there, hold Ted’s limp hand and look at the
mud that Bella had smeared into the deep cuts on his arms and neck.
“Do you understand Mrs. Tonks? Mrs Tonks?”
“Mrs Tonks? Do you want to sit down Mrs
Tonks?” The boy’s voice, heavily tinged with concern, brought her back to the
present. He had taken a step closer and was looking at her with mingled anxiety
and guilt. She waved his offered hand and automatically glanced down at Teddy,
who was fast asleep sucking on one tiny fist. Andromeda hugged him closer to
herself, seeking comfort from his peaceful warmth. She took a breath to steady
herself then looked back at the boy, who was still hovering beside her.
“Dean Thomas does your mother know you’re
His forehead creased in puzzlement for a
second then cleared.
“Yes ma’am I sent her an owl. But how….”
“And I’m sure that some smelly bird is
going to reassure her. Go home Dean. Go on home and show her that you’re
safe. Hug her and smile, let her look at you and feed you and tell you how
worried she’s been and how happy she is now you’re home safe. Go home and make
her the happiest woman in the world.”
Go home, and do what my Nymph cannot.
For a moment he seemed hesitant, slightly
torn, then he nodded.
“I will, I promise but, but I want you to
know that Ted looked after me when I needed someone and, if there is ever anything
I can help you with, anything I can do, or say, then I will.”
Andromeda found herself blinking
frantically in an attempt to maintain the proper decorum so a short nod was all
she could manage in response.
“Well, I’ll be off then.” He paused as if
he could not yet bring himself to turn words into action, then said quickly, “I
just think you should know, that…I asked him once whether there was anything
he’d say to you if, well you know, he didn’t make it back…. He told me that
you’d said all there was to say a long time ago and that by now you knew
everything there was to know about Ted Tonks and how he felt about his
‘Dromeda. But he did say that it never hurt to say I love you.”
Dean swallowed, then turned abruptly and
strode down the corridor and out of sight.
Little Teddy woke up some moments later to
find warm salty water dripping down on to his face.