Author's note: Enjoy!
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns the canon, world, and characters portrayed below and you can tell I'm not J.K. Rowling because #transrights
The Quidditch League: Holyhead Harpies, Seeker Round 6 "As Different As" : happy and sad
Hogwarts: Assignment #12, Muggle History Task #3 Write about someone devoted to their family
Warnings: Family estrangement
Once the Hiccups Pass
He kissed her forehead before pushing back her hair and offering her another smile.
"Go," Andromeda said. She couldn't help but laugh at him a little bit. It had taken quite a bit of persuasion to even get to this point. "Go now or you'll never leave."
"You're right," Ted said. He was still smiling though, and he ran his thumb down the baby's arm one more time.
"Ted…" Andromeda said.
"I know, I know," Ted said. Because the baby had come so early, the nursery needed another hour or two of work—there were baby clothes that had been given to them but not washed or hung, the bedding for the crib had been washed but the bed remained unmade… More importantly, they hadn't had time to shroud their shoebox flat in the protective charms Andromeda knew they would need. Or at least she would need them, to be able to sleep at night knowing that her baby girl was in the next room and that the Black family was out there.
Regardless, the spells had to be cast and Andromeda wanted it done sooner rather than later. News spread quickly in the Wizarding World, no matter how far back from the world of Purebloods she had stepped. She felt bad for sending Ted out of their hospital room haven less than 24 hours after their baby's birth, but he understood.
"I'll bring back something to eat," Ted promised. "Any requests?"
"Anything that isn't from St. Mungo's cafeteria," Andromeda said.
"I can do that," Ted promised. He looked back once or twice before slipping out of the hospital room. Andromeda rolled her eyes before turning her attention back to the baby laying on her chest, under the sky blue blanket the hospital had provided. The realization dawned on her that this was the first time that she and this little brown-eyed girl were alone. Without Ted, without Healers hovering…
Andromeda reached up and twisted one of Dora's curls around her finger. The little girl didn't seem to mind; she was opening and closing her mouth like a fish, as if she was tasting this brand new world around her. It was especially endearing to Andromeda because the baby's eyes were mostly and usually closed—which was perfectly normal for a newborn, but it made her other features seem disproportionately larger under that mop of brown hair.
"Does the air really taste that good?" Andromeda asked, running her fingertips down the baby's impossibly soft hair. "Is it living up to all your expectations, sweetheart?"
The baby yawned in response—a huge, lion-worthy yawn that got a gasp out of Andromeda.
"Oh, big yawn… I'll stop exhausting you, little one. Even if seeing you makes my day better every time," Andromeda promised. At the sound of her voice, the baby opened her eyes again and flashed those big, brown eyes of hers. Their favourite Mediwitch, the one with the glasses and the braids, had pointed out how unusually dark those eyes were for a newborn, but Andromeda had known right away where they had come from. She had them herself—dark and heavy and full. So did Bella. When Narcissa had been younger, she used to cry about having different eyes, about how that made her less of a sister. They'd spent the entire afternoon promising her that she wasn't, and braiding their hair in the same way as hers and changing into blue clothes so that they would all match.
Andromeda's stomach twisted at the memory but she couldn't help but smile at the baby.
"Hello, gorgeous," she said quietly. "There you are… there you are."
She reached out and caressed the baby's forehead again, reveling in that soft and perfectly smooth skin. Then the baby shook underneath her, shaken by a hiccup that startled Andromeda.
"Oh," she said. She couldn't help but laugh. "That was a big first hiccup, sweetheart…"
The baby hiccuped again and Andromeda couldn't help but laugh again. Until the baby started crying, that was.
"Oh, okay," Andromeda said. "Okay, we're not enjoying this, I see, I see…"
She put one hand on the baby to keep her steady and used the other to push herself up. The exhausted and sore muscles in her abdomen protested intensely, but Andromeda clenched her teeth and sat up with a groan as the baby's crying intensified. Whenever her tears were punctuated by a hiccup, Dora cried a little bit harder.
"Shh," Andromeda said, shifting Dora's position in her arms. "Shh, you're okay… you're okay, it's just a little bit of hiccups. Just a little bit of hiccups…"
Dora did not seem to appreciate this and her crying persisted. Andromeda's mind went blank for a moment, despite her years of Healer training, but she eventually stopped panicking about the baby's sobs and reached for a burping blanket on her side table. She draped it over her shoulder clumsily, since she was still trying to rock the crying baby, and then positioned the baby to burp her. The hiccups didn't leave, and Dora's crying only escalated to frustrated little screams.
"Alright, alright," Andromeda said, starting to panic now. That panic quickly turned to tears as her eyes began filling up. She knew that her entire body was tender and confused about the delivery, absolutely exhausted, and confused by the lack of a baby which it was adjusting to—and she knew that she was going to be strange and emotional for some time. Still, she frustrated herself by tearing up, which only made her more flustered.
"Shh," Andromeda said. "Shh, Dora, you're okay… I promise you're okay sweetheart…"
She gave up on trying to burp her daughter and readjusted her in her arms. Her mind whirred as she tried to think of her next step, of what she could do to help, at what the right thing to do even was… There had to be something, she knew there had to be;, she was just doing it wrong—botching it all up… She was sure her mother would know what to do, after having three daughters of her own, but it wasn't as if Andromeda could ask and…
She looked up and there, in the doorframe, stood the bespeckled Mediwitch in pleasant, sky blue Healer robes. Her hair was pulled back in two braids and her face was sweet and earnest.
"Can I give you a hand?" the Mediwitch asked sweetly.
"She—she has hiccups and she doesn't like it at all," Andromeda tried to explain. "Are they… are they hurting her?"
"No, not at all," the Mediwitch said, gliding into the room. "Hiccups don't typically hurt babies, she may just be confused or surprised or hungry or something completely unrelated… would you like me to take her?"
Andromeda hesitated, but then she nodded. The absence of the little bundle of warmth from her chest hit hard and Andromeda immediately wanted to ask for the baby back, especially since Dora was continuing to cry in the Mediwitch's arms.
"Now, now, baby girl, now, now," the Mediwitch said, bopping a finger on Dora's nose as she held her.
"I… I tried burping her," Andromeda said. She wiped at her eyes quickly, even if the Mediwitch had most likely seen her crying.
"That's a good idea," the Mediwitch said. "That usually helps. Sometimes feeding helps too. Could I try giving her a pacifier?"
Andromeda nodded and the Mediwitch reached into her pocket to manifest a bright pink pacifier. She offered it to Dora, who turned her head away from it a few times before finally just plopping it into the baby's open mouth. Andromeda felt herself relax as soon as Dora began suckling on the pacifier and calmed down.
"There we are," the Mediwitch said. "There she is; back to her regular, happy little self."
Andromeda nodded, breathing in deeply and evenly to steady herself. It didn't stop the feelings bubbling and swirling in her stomach and chest. She felt like crying all over again. She was sure she would if she opened her mouth, but it would be rude not to thank the Mediwitch.
"Not at all, love," the Mediwitch said with a smile. She rocked Dora gently. "Your husband asked me to check in on you while he stepped out."
"Of course he did," Andromeda said.
"Big sweetheart," the Mediwitch said. "Here, I can pass her back to you…"
Andromeda's arms had been itching to welcome back Dora, who was happily suckling on the pink pacifier and peacefully looking at the world with her big brown eyes again. Andromeda sighed.
"Are you alright?" the Mediwitch asked. "I could order a Sleeping Draught for you to get some rest tonight, if you would like."
"I'm okay," Andromeda said. "Just… my family and I are not on speaking terms at the moment, and I very much doubt that we ever will be again. It feels… odd to start a family without them. I mean, Ted is my family and his family is mine, but..."
"I learned more about babies from my mum when I had my own than from Healer training," the Mediwitch offered when Andromeda didn't finish her sentence.
"When I thought about having children and a family when I was growing up, I thought my older sister would be my firstborn's godmother," Andromeda said. "And my little sister loves babies, she would have practically stolen Dora right out of my arms. My mother would have been such a doting grandmother."
She chewed her lip.
"I'm from a big family, but now Ted is my family," Andromeda said. "I chose him, and I would choose him a thousand more times in a thousand other ways. But now that Dora is my family too, I worry… I want her to have everything she needs and I'm already worrying about all the things she doesn't have—grandparents, aunts, cousins…"
"You must miss them too," the Mediwitch said.
Andromeda hesitated before nodding—not because she had to think about it, since it was very true, but because it was difficult to explain. Bellatrix had spat at her that she would come crawling back to them the second her husband saw her for the traitorous bitch that she was—and Andromeda had known for a fact that that wasn't true. She had torn herself from her family and had cut away all other ties to their community, the world, the values, and the ideas that they represented. No matter what happened, Andromeda wouldn't look back.
But still. When she looked at Dora's big brown eyes she saw the family that she had once loved, not all the ugly things she had grown up to see them to be. It was hard to explain such an illogical division, but she had stopped believing that everything one felt had to be explainable to be valid the moment she'd fallen in love with Ted Tonks. She was just feeling a lot at the moment—including a heavy dose of longing for the version of her family she wished existed. The family she had once been dedicated wholeheartedly to…
"It's difficult," the Mediwitch said kindly. "Babies are emotional whirlwinds, even for people who haven't spent nine months making them. Be gentle with yourself."
"Okay," Andromeda said. She readjusted Dora in her arms so that the baby rested closer to her heart. "Thank you."
"I'll give you two some time, but I'll be around all night if you need me. I'll see you later," the Mediwitch smiled before stepping out.
Part of Andromeda worried that the baby would burst into tears the second she left, but Dora seemed more than satisfied in her arms.
"I promise I'm done being weepy, sweetness," Andromeda said. "I wanted to save the worst parts of the world and tuck them away until you were older, when you could understand your family history a little bit better. I'm afraid you don't have much of a choice in that matter. Still, it… it's going to affect how you grow up and I suppose you deserve to know and understand why."
Dora's eyes were drifting shut sleepily.
"One day," Andromeda said. "One day I'll… I'll find a way to explain to you why and how your mum can have some happy and some sad in her all at once. After I can handle hiccups and when I'm a little more used to being your family."
Those big, familiar brown eyes blinked as they looked at Andromeda, drawn by the sound of her voice. Then they turned a bright cornflower blue. And then the baby's hair was pink, and Andromeda gasped.
Word count: 2095