Present fic for you in honour of your happy day:
Length: 1,310 words
Summary: Andromeda Black, four birthdays and one small candle.
Author Note: I don’t think we’ve been told Andromeda's birth date, or if we have I couldn't find it, so for this story she shares her day with inksplotched.
Andromeda Black, 25th April
~ for inksplotched ~
Year Four, Being Fifteen
Andromeda sits by the lake with a straight back and her legs stretched out in front of her, neatly crossed at the ankle. She feels like curling them up, curling up on herself, but that would crease her skirt and robes.
Her fingers are curled up though where they lie in her lap, one hand cupping the other and protecting a small, thin white candle. There isn't a flickering flame that needs shielding from the wind, just wax and wick, but she shields it all the same. Maybe she feels sorry for it.
It is Andromeda Black's birthday today and she should be happy. She thinks she is, because who wouldn't be with friends that went to all the trouble of specially asking the House Elves to make her a cake? Who wouldn't be with pretty presents owled from home and two wonderful sisters sneaking into her dormitory in the early hours of the morning just to tell her how special she is?
It's childish and pathetic, but Andromeda has always made a wish before blowing out her birthday candles and out they've always gone, except for the lonely little candle she holds in her hand. She didn't blow all her candles out at once this year, which means her wish isn't going to come true. Bella is still going to marry Rodolphus in the summer, is going to go away and never really come back.
She never feels more grown up on her birthday, like the extra year isn't important and hasn't changed anything, but that slight twinge in her heart is a signal of the end of childhood, where the only magic is what comes out of a wand or a potion or something concrete, not silly things like dreams and wishes.
She doesn't want to feel grown up yet, not like Cissy who can hardly wait to be a proper lady. She doesn’t want to be grown up, not like Bella leaving home and talking adult things in a low voice with her betrothed and his companions.
Make a wish, don't tell anyone, blow them all out and it comes true. Maybe it's simple and maybe it's childish, but that's what Andromeda likes.
Year Five, Sweet Sixteen
Andromeda sits in the Great Hall with a straight back and her legs tucked neatly underneath the bench she's sitting on. Cissy sits opposite, on the other side of the table and the other side of the huge birthday cake, smiling at her gracefully instead of beaming at her like a mad child.
All of Slytherin House sings to her, louder than Gryffindor did three mornings ago when it was their Quidditch Captain's birthday, and she blows out the candles to the sound of applause. The cake vanishes, then reappears sliced into even portions. Arms reach out and lift them away. Faces offer her congratulations. People she only knows by their surnames embrace the celebration that seems to be more about outdoing their rival House than about her, but she doesn't really mind.
It's just a birthday. One more year.
She thinks about a small candle wrapped up in a sock in the trunk at the end of her bed, thinks about taking it out to sit with her by the lake, thinks about staring out across the water and dreaming of a thousand wishes that she could make.
Year Six, Coming Of Age
Andromeda sits at the top of the stairs leading down from the Entrance Hall to the lower levels, stuck between her common room and the Great Hall, neither places she wants to be. It's uncomfortable, dirty and improper to be sitting on the stone steps, but this is where she stopped and this is where it seems she's going to stay.
She watches clusters of students as they grow bigger and drift into the Great Hall for dinner. A boy with yellow trimming on his robes waves to a group of other Hufflepuffs, but instead of joining them he walks over to where she is sat in the shadows. His face is recognisable from her Charms class and Astrology, but she doesn't know his name.
Narcissa would tell him to go away. Bella would probably cast Petrificus Totalus, or something worse, and then leave. Andromeda doesn't say anything.
"You all right over here, all on your lonesome?" He sits down next to her without waiting for an answer, a jumble of limbs with messy blond hair topping them off, nothing like the elegant blond-haired Lucius that her younger sister has been waxing eloquent about lately. "I'm Ted," he adds and thrusts a hand in front of her face.
"Andromeda." She shakes it automatically then resists the urge to wipe her hand on her robes.
"Blimey, that's a mouthful. You have any nicknames?"
"No." She slides one hand into the pocket of her robes and wraps it around the small candle hiding there with the wishful hope that it might be a sort of talisman against the humiliation of a Black sister and a Slytherin being caught talking to a Hufflepuff.
"What about 'Andy'?"
"That's a boy's name," she tells him, a little offended.
"Is it now?" She watches him out of the corner of her eye as he turns sideways and leans back against a stone wall. "I've got a cousin called
Andromeda has never talked to someone this rude before. It's awful, but also fascinating, like giving up on changing the course of a family conversation when it's heading for an argument and instead just sitting back and watching things unravel.
"My sisters call me 'Dromeda sometimes," she offers eventually. She's too polite to withstand the silence, too polite for her own good. "Is 'Ted' short for something?"
"No idea. I never asked, just in case it was short for something poncy like 'Theodore'. I'd never live it down."
She looks at him looking at her with a grin. He has a deceptively open face that shouts honestly, loyalty and friendship. It's not surprising that he wears yellow.
Andromeda looks away. She knows names this boy will find stranger than 'Theodore'. "My father is called Cygnus."
"Cygnus for 'The Northern Cross', Andromeda for 'The Chained Maiden'. Are all your family named after constellations?"
Her head whips up and she stares at him, which makes him laugh, which makes her blush.
"Surprised I sound clever because I'm muggleborn or because I'm a Hufflepuff?" Ted asks cheerfully and inside her pocket the fingers wrapped around a little candle start to unfurl.
Year Seven, An Adult Eighteen
Andromeda sits by the lake with a straight back and her legs crossed. It's late enough in the day that the sun is beginning to sink, throwing colours across the surface of the water. She holds up a small, thin candle and screws up her eyes until it looks like the sun blazes on the tiny wick.
"That candle done something to offend you? Only you don't look so happy about it, what with the death glare and all." Ted Tonks flops backwards onto the ground beside her, then plants his hands in the grass and pushes himself up so he's more leaning back and watching her than lying back and watching the sky.
She puts the candle down and leans over to pluck grass out of his mop of hair.
"Aha!" Ted sits up suddenly, snatches up the candle and lights it with his wand before holding it in front of her face and singing 'happy birthday', off-key but as cheerfully as he does everything else.
The flame fades magically from one colour to another, a rainbow dancing on top of white wax.
Andromeda makes a wish.