Andromeda was annoyed.
By Remus, who despite trying to be quiet, couldn’t quite keep himself from snickering. By Ted, who just sat there, nonchalant as always, nursing his whiskey as if nothing was amiss.
And most of all by Nymphadora, who, ever since she had attempted to start her homework, paced the room, a book in one hand while the other gesticulated wildly at times – if one wanted to find a polite word for the rather rude gestures she definitely hadn’t taught her child.
Various muttered remarks disturbed the normally so peaceful silence in the Tonks’ home, too loud to ignore, but not loud enough, to understand them properly. Andromeda had the fleeting thought that she probably didn’t want to hear them, anyway. Even more so, because she had tried to tell herself often enough, that Nymphadora was already too old to take on better manners. Not that she had ever been willing to do that, no matter what age.
“Nympha-“ she spoke up finally, when she felt the need to get up and drag her daughter to a seat by the ear. But her try to end this peacefully was interrupted rudely.
“Not yet, mum.” The girl said absentmindedly, not even caring to look at her mother.
Remus snickered again, lowering his book to better observe the unfolding scene, while Ted tried to hide his grin behind his whiskey glass. Unsuccessfully.
“I don’t quite get what you find so funny about this,” Andromeda had intended her voice to sound more scathing, but it turned out to be half-desperate, half-pleading. And that didn’t help at all with her growing irritation. Narrowing her eyes, she looked from one occupant of the room to the next. All of which were ignoring her.
Nymphadora probably hadn’t even heard her, Remus had raised his book again, not willing to be on the receiving end of her disapproval, and Ted, knowing her moods better than the rest, stared into the fireplace as if contemplating whether he should get more wood or just throw himself in and be done with it.
But countless years of marriage and, before that, living in a Black household, had taught her nothing if not persistence. So her gaze never wandered from her husband’s face, daring him to keep on ignoring her.
Finally he raised his eyes, not without sending a look of betrayal towards Remus – who definitely laughed again – and prepared himself for his wife’s chastising.
“Do something,” she ordered, one eyebrow raised, looking the very image of a pureblood lady, accustomed to getting her will.
“But Andy,” he all but whined. “Leave her be. She’s been home for, what? 20 hours –“
“Exactly, and she’s already driving me mad.”
“Could you two stop being so loud? Or go argue somewhere else. I’m trying to work here.” Nymphadora glared at them for a second, then returned to her pacing and muttering, never noticing the dazzled look on her parents’ faces or how Remus started shaking with silent laughter.
“Did she just?” Andromeda’s voice was almost toneless, while Ted nodded slowly. Straightening her back, she sent a last glare at the other adults in the room, cowering under her glare, and opened her mind to put an end to that nonsense herself – only to be interrupted again.
“This is ridiculous,” her daughter snapped and, for the first time this evening, she felt that the two of them were agreeing on something.
“Indeed,” she drawled. When there was no further reaction, she turned towards their guest, who was still inappropriately amused by her annoyance. “You,” she snapped, causing both men two flinch. Ted, who realized he was off the hook, grinned and leaned back into his armchair, enjoying his drink. Remus, however, eyed her warily, knowing he couldn’t pull himself out of this one.
“Yes?” he asked almost timidly.
“But how? If even you tried without success -”
Andromeda didn’t let herself be swayed by his innocent eyes. Instead she glared in her best imitation of her own mother. “I don’t care. Get her to stop, or get her out of here. She always listens to you.”
There was no point arguing that. Sighing quietly, Remus got up and slowly walked over to where the girl was still pacing, careful to stay out of her way.
“Dora,” he asked softly, succeeding in her raising her head the tiniest bit, eyes still fixed on her book. Taking this small reaction as encouragement, he stepped closer and continued, “We need to go upstairs, or your mother will without doubt grow insane.”
Throwing a lazy glance around, Dora nodded and, without interrupting her movement, turned towards the door. “Come,” she ordered before she disappeared, leaving behind stunned silence.
Remus couldn’t help the smug smile forming on his lips, though he did try to hide it until he was safely out of the room himself. No need to call Andromeda’s anger down on him. Not before dinner, anyways.
Their muffled voices followed him upstairs, making him grin even wider.
“How did he do that?”
“It’s a gift, I guess. His Hogwarts years must have taught him how to deal with Black blood.”
That they did, indeed.
Dora’s room was still in utter chaos. And although there were now clothes and books strewn around instead of her beloved toy dragons, he did know that she still had them in a small box in her closet, always prepared to surprise – and embarrass – Charlie who still insisted on his childhood wish of working with dragons. Then again, Dora was still set on becoming an Auror, too.
When he entered, she sat on the ground in front of her bed, her face almost desperate.
“How am I ever going to make this?” she pouted.
“What exactly?” Clearing a space for himself, Remus sat down next to her.
“OWLs.” Dora answered, not really helpful.
“Last time I checked, you were pretty near top of your class,” he trailed of when he saw her frown. “What changed?”
“Snape did,” somehow he couldn’t imagine that happening. Because, really, could he get worse?
Remus had been very surprised when he found out, that Snape had returned to Hogwarts to teach Potions. Even when ignoring their ongoing rivalry – if that was the right name for it – and the resulting unpopularity of the Slytherin, he never seemed like someone to willingly spend his days with other people or, worse, children. Snape was brilliant at Potions, but teaching was another matter altogether.
Before he could inquire further, however, Dora continued, “And Trenton.”
“The new Defence teacher?”
“Yes, and he’s a real bastard,” for a moment she seemed to reconsider that, then shook her head. “No. I mean, he is, but he’s real good. It’s just that the past two teachers were rubbish, and now he expects us to just be able to do all the stuff anyway. And he just teaches what he thinks important and made up his own curriculum. He wants us to cast nonverbally.”
The way she was throwing her arms up in frustration, she seemed so much like Peter had so often when he complained about all the work they had to do, that Remus couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Which brought Dora’s wrath down on him.
“Do you think this is funny?”, she asked, eyes wide and cheeks coloured red. He tried to stop laughing. Really.
She glared at him. A minute, maybe two, but when he didn’t seem to stop anytime soon, her face grew softer.
“So, this is first year all over again?” Remus looked at her curiously. “I worry too much, and you tell me I’m going to make it anyway?”
Well, that wasn’t the reason for his undue amusement, but why point that out, when she seemed to get some confidence from it. “Exactly.”
“But-“, she pointed at the book and he took it from her, not even glancing at what made her become so desperate.
“You told me almost ten years ago that you wanted to become an Auror.” She nodded. “And since then, you’ve never changed your mind. Not once. Not even when Charlie can’t stop going on about how wicked dragons are.”
That made her grin, because her friend really had tried to wake her interest in them, and even asked her constantly to accompany him to a dragon shelter in Romania during the summer holidays. Which she probably would do, no matter what she wanted to do with her life.
“You’re not about to give up on that, because some teacher, and a competent one at that, actually wants you to do something to earn your goal, are you?”
Dora opened her mouth, but Remus didn’t wait to hear whether it was to protest or agree. “Auror training will be hard. Don’t get me wrong,” he said smiling, “I know you will make it. Not only because you are talented and hellishly stubborn, but also because you promised me once you’d make it and take care of all the bad guys out there. And what am I to do without your protection?”
His voice was light, playful even, and her face brightened, but it almost hurt him to see that. Of course, he wanted her to be happy and fulfil her wishes. Auror training would even make sure, that she would be able to protect herself from most ordinary dangers. But the catch was, as an Auror she wouldn’t only face ordinary things. She’d be in the front lines no matter what happened. During the last war, the Aurors had died by the dozens.
Dumbledore had been cryptic about Voldemort’s downfall. What if he was not gone? What if there would come someone else, equally as dark and cruel? How could he ever stand by, knowing that she would be out there, fighting something he, in his own time, hadn’t been able to defeat?
“You’re right,” she exclaimed and he couldn’t even find it in himself to answer with his customary ‘I always am.’ That didn’t went unnoticed, and she turned serious again. “What?”
“Do your parents know about your plans?”, that was not what bothered him, but he would not dampen her mood by admitting his fears. There was no way she would stay a child for all eternity to be kept safe at home. Knowing her, it was obvious that she would fight for the light side when the time came, Auror or not.
She shrugged casually, which told him everything. “I’ve been talking about is since before Hogwarts.”
“So they don’t know that you’re still serious about it?” Dora avoided his eyes. “You don’t want to tell them.” And he wasn’t surprised about that at all.
“You know Mum.” That he did. She would throw a tantrum – in a most lady like way, of course, but the end effect would be the same.
“Ted will understand,” Remus offered quietly.
“Will he?” Uncertainty shone in her eyes.
“Well, he won’t like it, and he’ll try to dissuade you from it. You are his little girl,” he smiled when Dora groaned in frustration. “But eventually he will understand, and he will support you every step of the way.”
For a moment, she observed him closely, then she asked in a small voice, “And you?”
Remus sighed. Of course, she would ask that. “I told you about the war. How horrible it was. How desperate we were at times. I have never lied to you, so,” laying a hand on her shoulder, he looked her right into the eyes, willing her to feel rather than hear what he meant. “I don’t like the thought of you fighting and being in danger. I will fear for you on every mission they will give you. I guess I won’t even be able to sleep until I know you’ve come home safely.
“But,” and the small flicker of her eyes told him that she was relieved there was a ‘but’, no matter how much she knew that he believed in her. “I know that you are good. I know that you want this,” he shrugged. “I’ll be beside you no matter what.”
Remus guessed his speech had sounded a bit cheesy, but it was the truth, and Dora didn’t seem to care anyway, because she threw herself into his arms and he held her close.
“Thank you,” she breathed.
When they parted, Remus gestured towards the book that had started this whole scene. “What do you think if the two of us, and Charlie, if he wants to, make a little trip into the Forbidden Forest tomorrow afternoon.”
Dora stared at him as if he had gone mad, causing him to laugh. “What? Do you want to just abandon us out there, so we have no other choice but learn how to defend ourselves? And fast at that?”
“While that idea has merit, too,” he grinned cheekily, dodging her pitiful attempt to hit him. “And I’m sure your mother would be all for it, after you have driven her all but insane earlier, I thought more about getting into Hogwarts wards, where you will be allowed to do magic. So we’ll be able to improvise a little lesson in Defence. Which,” he added slightly pompous, “I happen to be quite good at.”
Dora squealed and hugged him again, before hurrying to her feet and looking for parchment and quill. “I’ve got to write to Charlie,” she said excitedly.
And when she had done just that, she sprinted to the door, turning again to grin at him widely and calling out a heartfelt ‘Thank you’, and then she was gone. Off to find their family owl and tell her parents the good news that she would not only not annoy them the next day, but also further her education.Andromeda would be thrilled.