It took not even two full days in the house for him to crack. Arriving at 12 Grimmauld Place had been like resurfacing from under water. A breath of very much needed fresh air after such a long time of suffocation. He had immediately fell in love with the silence and isolation that the place offered. He had moved into Sirius’s old room, crashing onto the bed and sleeping for the rest of the day. When he woke up the silence was unnerving. Looking around the pure darkness pouring into the room, he assumed it must be pretty late.
He got up slowly and moved to the kitchen, groping his way down the stairs. After making a cup of tea, he sat there staring around the kitchen. When he couldn’t stand doing that anymore he went from room to room inspecting the contents. Everything was just as they left it the last time they had been here. A thick layer of dust had accumulated on the furniture and fixtures during the months of neglect. He busied himself for the next long string of hours cleaning and organizing each room.
Compartmentalizing each room and setting goals for himself alleviated most of his stress and anxiety. He worked himself to the bone almost, his hands cut and bruising and his knees aching. By the time he was finished the sun was almost set. He tiptoed down the hall, wary of doing anything to wake the portrait of Walburga. He was almost at the end when he caught his toe on a loose floorboard and swore lately.
The abrupt screaming cutting through the unnerving silence that he had gotten used to caused him to break. He screamed along with the portrait he slammed his fist into the corner denting the frame. He needed to get out. He knew one place that he wanted to go, been needing to go. Andromeda had sent an owl asking after him, and maybe he could ask her how to remove this blasted thing once and for all.
He stalked off upstairs and took a long shower, but the water didn’t help his anger. It built up until it spilled over and he lashed out, striking at the crumbling tiles in front of him. He didn’t know how long it was, only pulling back when his knuckles were bleeding. He took a deep breath before finishing up.
‘I should just level this godforsaken place…’ He thought as he stood in front of the fireplace, grabbing a handful of floo powder. He chuckled a bit at that. ‘Sirius would have been happy about that.’ And with that thought and the mental image of his godfather laughing, he stepped into the fireplace and disappeared.
He arrived to the sound of crying as he moved out of the fireplace. He looked around seeing toys, clothing, odds and ends all strolled across the small cottage.
“Teddy, please! I am coming back!” Andromeda sang from somewhere else in the house as the small infant cried from his bassinette swing. Harry smiled and walked over to the baby, setting his bag down. He leaned down cooing at him, making the baby giggle and the bit of hair he had changed to bright blue. He picked him up, blanket and all, and held him close to his chest. He hummed, rocking the baby back and forth getting him to stop his fussing.
Andromeda hurried around the corner, concerned but stopped in her tracks at the scene before her. She let out a relieved breath and smiled gently as Harry softly sung to the baby. Harry looked up and gave her a small smile. It always shocked him to see Andromeda, as she always looked so much like Bellatrix it was unnerving. Her dark brown hair was falling out of a hastily done up bun, her faded and bleached out tshirt hanging off one shoulder and covering up most of her leggings. She looked tired and wore out, dark circles underneath her eyes.
“Harry.. It’s good to see you.” She said, her words soft and her movements slow. He silently thanked her for that in his head as Teddy turned, and smiled at her. “You little bugger, now that Uncle Harry is here you are going to be behaved?” She cooed at him with a pout before laughing.
“Because he knows better.” Harry said, kissing Teddy’s forehead as the baby cuddled closer to his chest. Andromeda walked over to the stove and sat to work putting a kettle on. “How have you been?” She asked him lightly.
“Been worse, can’t really complain.” He joked, shifting Teddy a bit before walking over to her. “You?”
“Pretty much the same.” She said, turning around and leaning against the counter to face him. “I’ve been worried about you, to be honest. It’s hard to deal.. when you lose everything but we must go on.” She said, her eyes pointedly going to Harry’s hands. He pulled the sleeves of his flannel down with his thumbs. Her eyes moved back up to his face. “We must go on for him.” She motioned to Teddy. “If nothing else.”
He looked down at Teddy and hugged him tightly. “Thank you..” He told her, giving her a small smile.
She snorted. “I should be thanking you. “ She shook her head. “Biscuits?” She asked, pushing off of the counter and walking over to the pantry.
“For what?” He asked confused, as Teddy wiggled a bit getting irritated.
“For what you did at the trial.” She said. “Chocolate or Ginger?”
“Um, chocolate please.” He said, moving back and placing Teddy in his swing again. He turned on the switch and the swing started to move back and forth. “I didn’t do anything really, I just told the truth.”
She looked at him pointedly over her shoulder, taking down the chocolate biscuits. She moved to the cupboard and took down two mugs. “You didn’t have to. You could have just washed your hands of all this madness.” She told him. “Milk or Honey?”
“I owed them both.” He shrugged. “Honey, please.” She nodded, fixing both their teas. “I just… couldn’t believe that Cissy would do that? Draco, yes, that boy doesn’t have a cruel bone in his body. I was wondering when he was going to break. Reminded me of Regulus, honestly.” She paused. “But Cissy… She-“ She stopped, plating the biscuits before bringing it and their teas over to the small battered table. Harry joined her as Teddy settled down, nodding off to sleep.
“Thank you.” He nodded, sipping the tea. “She just wanted Draco to be safe. I don’t think she ever wanted any of that. She was never really cruel to me, unlike Lucius.” He bit into a biscuit, his shoulders hunching in on themselves. Andromeda smiled at him as she sipped her own tea. “Lucius needed to be in Azkaban..” She sighed.
“He’s not?” He asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No. I mean I know that you didn’t stay for the sentencing, but you haven’t read the papers have you?” She asked.
“No.” He shook his head. “I haven’t really done anything. I mean, I cleaned up my house but that’s about it.” He said before remembering the stupid portrait. “By the way, I was wanting to ask you about something. How do you get a portrait down that is put up with an everlasting sticking charm?”
She shook her head. “Not really anything you can do about it, unless you remove the wall.” She joked.
“Sorry about that, but go on about what you were saying earlier.” He told her.
“Narcissa and her family were sentence to live as a Muggle family. No magic. Their manor at Wiltshire has been confiscated to eradicate illegal objects and the like from it. They have been living in a muggle neighborhood, Camden, I think.”
Harry choked on his tea in shock. “What?!” He spat out when he could get air after coughing. “Malfoy without magic?!” He laughed. A real laugh.
“Yes, it’s actually very bloody funny. Cissy owled me last week and begged me to teach her how to make “muggle fire.”” She said, using air quotes and making Harry laugh even harder. “Muggle fire??” He wheezed in between laughs shaking his head. “Okay, this is enough for me. I am fine with this. I wished I could have seen his face when they told him.” Harry said after he had calmed down a bit then went on to finish his tea. He felt better than he had felt in a long while.
“Yeah.” She said, looking down at her tea. “There is something else that I wanted to talk to you about.” Her voice and face turned serious.
“What is it?” He asked, worried.
“I was wondering if you could help me by cleaning up the guest apartment. I’ve tried to do it but I really can’t with work and Teddy. Plus, I think those things would mean more to you than me.” She looked up at him, holding his gaze.
“What do you mean?” He asked, not sure he was following what she was saying.
“I’m sure Remus has a lot of things that belong to your parents and photographs and such.” She shrugged. “I really haven’t moved or looked at anything so I don’t know what is there.”
He sat there, shocked. He hadn’t even thought about that. Of course Remus and Tonks would have left things. But Remus would had surely given him something that was or about his parents if he had had it. Andromeda smiled at him. “You don’t have to if you aren’t up to it or don’t want to. I just thought I would offer.”
“I… want to do it. I can come back another day and get started. I just need to go to the store.” He smiled. “I am in need of a sledgehammer.”
She giggled. “Sirius would have loved to see this. Give it a few whacks for the old wanker.” She told him.
“Of course. Thank you again, Ms. Tonks.”
She shook her head. “Andromeda, you know this Harry.” She said sternly, giving him a scowl.
He laughed. “Andromeda.”