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Stillness and Constellations (Movement of Ellipses Remix)(Harry Potter, Andromeda/Ted, Remus/Sirius)

Title: Stillness and Constellations (Movement of Ellipses Remix)
Author: mindabbles
Summary: Andromeda and Sirius both had their reasons for leaving home, and they each had their ways of trying to find their place in the world.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Andromeda Black Tonks/Ted Tonks, Sirius Black/Remus Lupin
Rating: R
Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me and I make no money from this.
Original story:
Stillness and Constellations  by avendya
Notes: Thanks to a_merry_chase, sec38, and such_heights  for their fantastic beta work. Thank you to avendya for her stories. The characterisation of Sirius, and of Remus and Sirius’ relationship, were based heavily upon avendya’s writing, particularly here and here. To the mods, thank you so much for taking on this incredible task and giving us this wonderful fest.
 Part One

“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.”
- T.S Eliot, “Little Gidding”
 
xiv. condense into this one moment
The acrid smell of healing potions was so strong that Andromeda could taste it. Healers wearing robes of various pastel shades hurried about on silent feet. It had been some time since she left her work at St. Mungo’s, but it still felt familiar and mundane each time she walked through these hushed, gleaming corridors.
Until she walked into Room 468B.
Time rushed past her with a dizzying roar. Nymphadora looked small and lost in the large, sterile bed. Andromeda moved to her daughter’s side in a daze. Every fear, every moment of panic she had ever had about her ability to keep her safe seemed to condense into this one moment.
“What’s happened to her?” she asked, fumbling for Ted’s hand. His face looked drawn and tense, and his hand was clammy in hers. They’d been waiting for this ever since she’d become and Auror.
“Mrs. Tonks, Mr. Tonks,” the Healer, whose name badge read 'McFadden,' spoke in hushed tones that made Andromeda’s heart clench. That was the tone she herself had always used just before saying, ‘We’ve done all we can.’ Andromeda steeled herself. Her eyes focused upon the soft, shaggy hair that curled behind Nymphadora’s ear. Stroking gently, just there, had always been the way to coax her back to sleep after a bad dream.
“Please,” Ted implored.
“She sustained some serious hexes, dark magic,” McFadden said. “The Healers in triage couldn’t identify it. We had to call in a specialist. Really quite fascinating.”
“What is the prognosis?” Andromeda said, fixing McFadden with a fierce stare, one that had made trainees quiver in the past.
Healer McFadden had picked up the roll of parchment hanging at the end of Nymphadora’s bed and was looking it over with an air of casual interest. She seemed a bit surprised as she said, “Hmmm? Oh, they’ve reversed it. Didn’t I say that? She’ll be right as rain soon enough. She’s had a sleeping potion, so she’ll be out a few more hours.”
Ted seemed to deflate at her side, and Andromeda dropped his hand as they both sank onto the edge of the hospital bed. She couldn’t muster the rage she thought she should feel at the Healer’s stunningly bad bedside manner.
The light from the charmed windows gradually grew pale and the shadows lengthened across the room. Ted had finally moved from Nymphadora’s bedside to a comfortable chair, and he sat, slumped and dozing. Andromeda had expected a Healer to come and tell them they had to clear out several hours ago.
“Mum?”
Andromeda jumped at the sound of the hoarse, soft voice. Nymphadora blinked, trying to focus in the half-light. Ted woke abruptly.
“Dora,” Ted and Andromeda said at once, a proclamation and a benediction.
Nymphadora’s eyes darted around the room. Andromeda could see her searching for the memories of what had happened. She saw also when it all came back, and her daughter's dark eyes became darker and she sank deeper into the pillow, clearly deciding what she would and would not tell them.
“They say you’ll be fine, darling,” Andromeda said, taking Nymphadora’s hand in hers.
“Right as rain, I believe were the words,” Ted added. His face lit with a fond smile as he looked at his daughter.
“I should go and fetch a Healer, now that you’re awake,” Andromeda said, rising to leave. She was stopped by a strong hand gripping her wrist.
“No, Mum. Wait,” Nymphadora said. “Get them in a moment. I’m all right. I mean, I feel like I was hit by the Knight Bus, but get them in a bit. I need to tell you something.”
Andromeda knew about the Order of the Phoenix from the first war, and she knew Sirius had been in it, or at least pretended to be. She had heard that they had reconvened, and when Nymphadora’s hours became even more erratic than before, and then she was injured during an ‘assignment’ with dark magic, well, Andromeda was able to add two and two.
“Mum, erm, Sirius was there tonight.”
“So, he’s joined his old cronies.” Andromeda felt a dull ache in her chest. “Who hurt you?” she asked, and a feeling of resignation flooded her and she answered her own question. “It was Sirius.” Not that it mattered. It shouldn’t matter if it was him or any other Death Eater.
“No, it wasn’t Sirius,” Nymphadora said. “Mum, listen. Sirius is dead.”
Andromeda blinked. Nymphadora’s grave expression came back into focus. She blinked again. She was vaguely aware of Ted’s hand on her shoulder. She wanted to feel nothing, or to revel in a sense of righteous resolution that he had been slain in battle so soon after escaping.
Then she noticed a single tear rolling down Nymphadora’s face, and she knew.
“It was Bellatrix.”
Nymphadora opened her mouth, closed it again, and nodded.
There it was. Whether it was for the favour of Voldemort or revenge against her, it didn’t particularly matter. Andromeda had spent the better part of her adult life keeping Nymphadora from the influence of her family. Now she’d nearly been killed by one of them.
“She wanted me,” Andromeda said. “She wanted to kill me and...”
“Mum, she wanted me,” Nymphadora interrupted, and she scowled. “And I cannot believe I let her...but, Mum, you have to listen. Sirius was framed all those years ago. He’s innocent. He’s back in the Order. I know him now,” Nymphadora said. Her words were quick, each phrase staccato, and she coughed nervously. “Knew him. He’s dead and Bellatrix killed him.”
Andromeda fell into the chair next to the bed. It was hard and covered in a cold, shiny material. She felt as though she’d slip off if it weren’t for her tight grip on the arms.
“He was innocent?”
Nymphadora nodded and brushed a tear off her cheek. Andromeda watched another tear roll slowly down the side of her daughter’s face.
“When he was sorted, I couldn’t stop laughing,” she said. Sirius had looked tiny under that hat, all baby-faced self-assurance: the boy-Lord of the Manor holding court.
“Mum?” Nymphadora asked, frowning at her father.
“I should go and fetch a Healer, eh, tell them that you’re awake,” Ted said quietly. He leant to kiss Nymphadora on the forehead. Andromeda was vaguely aware of a firm squeeze on her arm and a whisper in her ear that must have been intended to be comforting.
 
xiii. throw in the bit about not being a mass murderer
Sirius flopped onto the faded green settee and a cloud of possibly nefarious dust puffed up around him. He was grimy, covered with cleaning potions, and bone tired. Never mind swimming across the North Sea, running for days as Padfoot, or having to hunt all night for one measly meal; trying to make his childhood home remotely liveable was truly exhausting.
“It’s not that bad,” Remus said. He had a strained smile on his face, the one that meant he knew he was talking bollocks.
Sirius crossed his arms over his chest and glared at him.
“Well, it’s habitable, at least,” Remus said, shrugging.
“If by habitable you mean, not currently life-threatening to be in this particular room, then yes, it’s habitable,” Sirius said.
He was so tired. He wished he could say that he’d forgotten how depressing this place was, but he hadn’t. Number 12, Grimmauld Place had always been a nightmare, and years of care by a deranged, aging Kreacher hadn’t done it any favours.
For three days they had scrambled to get enough rooms ready for them to move in, and for the Order to start using it. Not only was the first meeting of the revived Order of the Phoenix tomorrow, but Remus’ lease was up soon. So this morning they had moved in, leaving Remus’ small and spare – but not dripping with dark magic - flat.
“The company’s not bad, anyway,” said Remus. He crossed the room to stand in front of Sirius.
“I suppose not.”
“And we’re alone, for now,” Remus said. He smiled gently and brushed a hand through Sirius’ hair.
“Moony, if you think you can distract me out of my bad temper over moving back into this mausoleum by coming on to me, you’re absolutely correct,” Sirius said, feeling the shadow that had begun to descend on him lift.
If he didn’t remember what was important, who was important, he’d be lost. He grabbed Remus’ wrist, and with a sharp pull, knocked him off balance so that Remus tumbled onto his lap.
The sound of Remus laughing, in this house, was so incongruous, it made Sirius dizzy. He and Regulus must have laughed here long ago, but he couldn’t remember it.
“Padfoot?” Remus asked. “Where’d you get to?” He was still stroking Sirius’ hair, so soothing, and looking at him in a way that made Sirius feel open and raw. He could get lost in those eyes.
“Get on with the distracting,” he growled.
Remus’ mouth curved into a hungry little smile, one that made Sirius’ skin tingle with anticipation.
Remus’ kisses were always enough to send him into a frenzy. It had been embarrassing at first, before they’d done more than kiss, to be hard and gagging for more from a simple kiss. There had always been lots of kissing, except near the end. The last time they’d been together, before the final pieces of his already crumbling life had exploded, the gentle kisses on his back had left him feeling as if his chest had been turned inside out, and had haunted him for thirteen years.
He swiped his tongue along Remus’ lips until they parted and he felt the hot, slick slide of a tongue against his own.
“Better?” Remus asked onto Sirius’ lips.
“Not quite,” he mouthed back, nipping at Remus’ bottom lip.
“Mmm, what do you want, Padfoot?” Remus moved his hands over Sirius’ shoulders and chest, finding sensitive spots that only he knew.
“I want you to make me call your name so loudly that it drowns out the creaks and moans of this house. Think you can do that?”
“I do like a challenge,” Remus laughed again, and Sirius thought he could live here if it was to the sound of Remus’ laughter.
If he closed his eyes, he could hear Remus breathing, quickening as he pressed their bodies together. He could feel those strong, knowing hands circling to his back as hot, open mouthed kisses made his blood thrum in his throat. If he closed his eyes and felt, they could be anywhere but here.
“How soon do you want to be calling my name?” Remus whispered, hot puffs of breath in his ear. Sirius opened his eyes long enough to see a smug look on Remus’ face.
“Rethinking it, it will be you calling out my name.” He trailed his tongue around the velvety shell of Remus’ ear, flicking it just inside. “And begging, I should think.”
It didn’t take long until Sirius had his wish. Pleas tumbled from Remus’ mouth, and Sirius shivered with the delicious pressure and the knowledge that soon, soon, he’d feel the intimacy of bare skin, slick with sweat, that had only ever meant Remus.
“I want you. Now. On my mother’s couch,” Sirius said, a rumble more than words, and Remus let out a delicious little groan, kissed him again, and ripped open the top of Sirius’ robes.
Sirius was about to protest that it had been a very long time since he’d had decent clothes, and Remus might show a bit more restraint, when there was a noise that was not a moan or a groan or anyone calling out anyone else’s name. It was a crash and an exclamation of, “piss and bugger,” from the other side of the door and Walburga started to scream. And not even Remus’ hands on his bare chest could drown out, “Spawn of the family’s shame.”
Remus was on his feet in a flash and Sirius followed him, both with wands drawn.  They moved silently to the door, communicating just as they used to do, I’ll take this side, you cover me, I’ll open it, with looks and gestures born of many pranks and missions and sticky situations.
Remus flung open the door. Sirius trained his wand and there, brushing herself off and looking sheepish, was a young woman wearing Muggle jeans and a tee-shirt, whose vivid pink hair clashed dreadfully with her flaming cheeks.
“Nymphadora?” Sirius asked, the recognition hitting him with a startling suddenness.
“Oh Merlin, I’m...I’m sorry,” she said, combing her hands through her hair and looking back and forth from Remus to him. Sirius realized that his robes were half-undone and they both looked flushed and dishevelled. “I didn’t mean to inter...what I mean is, I thought I’d pop in and say hello and see the place before the meeting, and I should have floo’d and you’re obviously busy. Sorry. Fuck. Sorry.”
An attempt at a polite introduction and a few more apologies later, and they were sitting in the parlour having tea. Sirius did quite regret the interruption, but when Kreacher saw a half-blood werewolf making tea, using the heirloom tea service, while the blood-traitor and spawn of the family’s shame reacquainted themselves with each other, Sirius had the impression that Kreacher’s little bat-eared head might implode from the stress, and that made it worth the wait.
Getting to know Andromeda’s daughter a bit made it worth the wait as well.
“I wish I could tell my Mum that you’re here, that you’re back in the Order,” she said, as the conversation wound down and Remus began to yawn rather theatrically.
“I’d throw in the bit about not being a mass murderer first,” he said. She chuckled awkwardly and he was certain he’d never get the hang of how to talk about that. “Does she know you’re in the Order?”
“A bit.”
“A bit? Unless Andromeda’s changed, she knows exactly. Look, we’ll tell her. We’ll tell her together as soon as I’m cleared. But you can’t now. The less she knows, the better,” he said. “For everyone.” He was far from sure he meant that, but it was what he was supposed to believe.
“I’ll be getting on then,” she said, draining her tea cup. “Let you two, erm, get on with your evening. I’ll see you both tomorrow.”
Sirius watched her tiptoe cautiously past the portraits, and she disappeared into the London night.
“Come to bed, Sirius,” Remus said. “We’ll lock the door.”
Sirius followed Remus up the stairs to the one bedroom that was not filled with cobwebs and spectres of every sort. He kept his hand on some part of Remus’ body as they went.
The shadows would come back, he knew they would. However, tonight with the sound of his cousin’s voice, one who actually wanted to know him, in his ears, and the promise held in the way Remus was responding to his touches, he thought he might just be all right. 
 
xii. raced through her head with dizzying speed
Andromeda held her breath as she tiptoed out of Nymphadora’s bedroom. It had taken over an hour to get her to settle down enough to go to sleep, and that was two hours after her usual bedtime. The excitement and relief was palpable in the air, and the jubilation on the wireless over the past twenty-four hours seemed to have injected itself directly into Nymphadora’s nervous system.
It’s over. Thank Merlin, it’s over, and we made it through. We’re finally safe. It’s just us now, had repeated in Andromeda’s head as she'd sat in the dark with her restless child. The news of Voldemort’s defeat had seemed real and tangible at the hospital, and yet, the full impact of what it meant for her and her family had not settled in her mind until she had come home and looked into Nymphadora’s and Ted’s faces.
Andromeda felt a thrill of anticipation as she walked down the hallway to where Ted was still listening to news of the celebrations. It had been a long time since they had had a moment alone together with nothing hanging over their heads.
Ted was sitting in the light blue armchair near the fire, staring at the wireless.
“She’s finally asleep,” Andromeda said. “Wound up like a top.”
He silenced the wireless with a swish of his wand, and stood to face her, a grave expression in his eyes.
“What’s the matter?” she asked, seized with panic that it had all been a mistake, that it wasn’t over.
“Andromeda,” he said, his voice strained. He seemed to be searching the walls of the flat for something. He took a deep breath and said, “It was Sirius.”
“What was Sirius?”
“Who led You-Know-Who to the Potters.”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “They’re his best friends.”
“I just heard it on the wireless,” he said, speaking in the same tone he used when explaining to Nymphadora why she couldn’t talk about magic at the neighbourhood play park. “There’s been another attack. Love, it may not be quite over. Sirius went after that titchy bloke that was always with the lot of them, Pettigrew. I’ll spare you the details, but it looks as if he tried to avenge the Potters' deaths, and Sirius took him and a dozen Muggles with them. The WWN says to stay on guard. Death Eaters may be going after anyone they think might know about what happened.”
“No, that can’t be right,” she said. Images of Sirius acting the fool at family dinners, staring defiantly at his parents, telling her in the hospital that his friends were his family and asking if she would have him, raced through her head with dizzying speed.
“I’m sorry, Andromeda,” he said softly.
He tried, but he had never truly understood what Sirius and Alphard meant to her, even if they only crossed each other's path once or twice a year. It wasn’t only that it was comforting to have someone else with her surname who wasn’t up to their eyeballs in the Dark Arts and complicit in genocide. It was more that it gave her hope, reflected back to her that she had really done it.
Andromeda took a deep breath and let her eyes drift shut. She said a silent good-bye to her bright, cheeky, bull-headed Gryffindor of a baby cousin, and realised that perhaps she had never known him at all.
Perhaps this was easier. No ties at all to that family. She was a Tonks, free and clear. 
It’s just us now.
 
xi. the emptiness had teeth
"Peter?" Sirius called. If Peter were here, he would have answered the knock.
 
"Wormtail?" he called again, uselessly.
 
The flat was empty. It always seemed a little empty. A couch was the only furniture in the front room and Sirius noticed that Peter had never bothered to fix the cigarette burn, nor had he ever got a shade for the single lamp in the room. That was unnecessarily melodramatic, really.
 
Sirius had felt a little guilty moving Peter in here. Peter, who was prone to fits of melancholy since the war had fully taken hold, who always seemed more affected by loneliness than the rest of them. Peter hadn't wanted to live in a Muggle part of town. But then, none of them had what they wanted right now.
 
"Pete?" he called again. "Idiot," he muttered to himself. It was a two-room flat.
                            
The flat always seemed empty, but tonight, somehow the emptiness had teeth. The hair on the back of his neck raised and he ran into the kitchen.
 
A half-drunk cup of coffee and the paper wrapper from a take-away sandwich lay on the table.
 
Peter wasn't supposed to be leaving the flat alone.
 
He touched the side of the coffee cup. It was just a shade above room temperature. His heart began to race and his brain to focus, vision acute, the same as the adrenalin rush in battle.
 
Peter's cloak was gone. There hadn't been many personal effects the last time Sirius was here: a photograph from James and Lily's wedding; a couple of books his Mum had given him; and the knob off his bed-post from school, that Sirius had never been able to get him to fess up to why he'd nicked. The books were gone, the blasted knob was gone. The photograph was wadded up in the bin.
 
A wave of cold constriction passed through his body.
 
Clenching his wand and his eyes so tightly that he could feel the blood vessels closing off, he forced himself to think with determination of Godric's Hollow.  
 
x. can’t you go home now
Andromeda had never seen the triage area of St. Mungo’s in such disarray. Bits of robes, potions vials, and the detritus of leftover spells were strewn across the floor. Her shift had ended two hours before, and she needed to be home, and she needed to sit down because she could no longer feel her toes.
She felt a sob catch in her throat as she placed her hand over the eyes of the man lying in front of her. The damage from the curse was too extensive. Two other gurneys floated next to him with crisp, white sheets pulled over. His wife and daughter were dead, too, so it was just as well.
She didn’t used to think that way.
It was getting worse. The Death Eaters were becoming more brash, less secretive. Ten cursed, six of them dead. The middle of Diagon Alley in broad daylight, and they’d gone up and down the street cursing people as they went. Tomorrow the Prophet would report "Random Acts of Violence." But there was nothing random about it. They were all Muggleborn.
The man in front of her could have been asleep, his eyes closed, his face peaceful now. The last look in his eyes, one that had hovered there until she pressed them closed, was one of a wild animal caught in a trap. His final word as he looked at her in terror beyond this world had been, “You.”
And then she knew who had killed him.
Three or four members of the Order were hovering around the waiting area. They always showed up to ask questions and catalogue the dead. Dumbledore didn’t even use her to gather information anymore, as he’d promised when he’d turned down her and Ted’s bid to join the Order all those years ago.
Tonight he’d sent Sirius. Well, not just Sirius, but he was the only one Andromeda saw. He was as handsome as ever, but there was a hardness, a desperation that didn’t fit him. She’d held on to him as the bright spot in the sea of night that was her family, but now he had dark circles under his eyes and a scowl on his face, and she realized it had been months since she’d spoken to him.
How was it that Sirius wasn’t too much of a liability for the Order, but she and Ted were? Either she underestimated her own importance, or things were so desperate that Dumbledore’s definition of a liability had changed. Looking around at the carnage, she expected it was the latter.
Sirius was watching her, too.
“Hello, Andromeda,” he said as he approached her. The smile he gave was as weak as Ted’s tea. “Can’t you go home now?”
“Our family, Sirius,” she whispered. “They did this.”
“We left, Andromeda,” he hissed back.
“We came from them.”
“They’re not my family, and they’re not yours,” he said, softening. “Ted and Nymphadora are your family.”
“And who’re yours, Sirius?”
He swallowed hard and a pained look swam across his eyes.
“My friends are,” he said. “And you, if you’ll have me.” A hint of the boyish, charming smile that she always saw in her head when she pictured him glimmered for a moment.
“Sirius.” A tense voice barked from behind her. She turned and saw Sirius’ school friend, Remus Lupin, standing and looking like he was about to combust. “I’ll be at the flat for the next hour. You can collect your things.”
The two men looked at each other for the time it took to draw two breaths. The emotion - it could have been anger or hurt, or it could have been love or loneliness - was so intense it almost took her breath away. Lupin turned to go. 
“Sirius, let me check you over. You don’t look well,” she said, placing a gentle hand on his arm.
He flinched as if he’d been burned, away from her hand, and his sad eyes followed Lupin’s stride down the corridor.
“I have to go,” Sirius said. He looked as if he’d just been hit in the stomach with a bludger. He caught Lupin up by the door, and Remus jerked away from the hand on his shoulder, just as Sirius had jerked away from hers.
All the patients had been checked. They were either cleared, curses broken, or they were dead. She’d never been so tired or sad in her life. She didn’t have another word, another explanation, or another ounce of caring in her. For the first time since leaving her parents’ house, she wished there were no one waiting at home for her.
 
ix. there had been a time when they had talked
Sirius canted his hips and pushed up to meet Remus' body. He propped himself on his elbows, leaning back further, harder. Trying to take Remus deeper.
Trying to close the distance created by ugly words and uglier accusations.
The only sounds were their breathing, panting. Sirius was finished with words; whenever he opened his mouth, out came things he should never have said. Nothing was the right way up anymore, and the only thing that mattered was Remus moving inside him. 
He had no right to be in this flat, in this bed. He was one of only three people on earth who knew Remus well enough to hurt him so deeply, and the only one whose doubt could put that hunted look into Remus' eyes. And he had left.
Remus wrapped an arm around Sirius' waist, and yanked him back, hard, with a grunt that Sirius recognised as the closest to I want you he was likely to hear.
There had been a time when they had talked while they fucked, filthy-sweet entreaties and promises that neither of them could deliver. 
Remus gasped, but still didn't speak, or moan, or beg, when Sirius reached back and grasped his thigh, roughly pulling him flush against Sirius' body. No please more or beautiful spurred Sirius on.
Sirius wrenched his arm from where it clutched the pillow and shoved his hand under his hips. With no anchor, no leverage, he struggled to stay on his knees and bit back a groan as the world went white.   
Remus' arm tightened further around Sirius' body, and he pressed impossibly close. Sirius kept as still as he could, riding it out, until he felt Remus tense and shudder.
He collapsed on the bed, panting and sweating and completely drained. His stomach ached now that it was over.
Then he felt light kisses, flutters of lips moving across his shoulder blades. The kisses felt like, I love you, and they felt like I forgive you or even forgive me, and they felt like a promise, just as Remus lying boneless and breathless on top of him felt like they were right again.
But they weren't, because with one final kiss to Sirius’ spine, Remus left the bed. Cold air rushed across Sirius' back where Remus had been. A moment later, came the sound of water running as Remus washed it all away.
Remus left almost immediately upon finishing his shower, with an awkward, "See you, then," and a brief hesitation by the door.
The bathroom mirror was still covered in steam. Remus always turned the shower hot enough to scald. Scrawled across the fogged surface was, "If you ever change your mind -" and a long trail where he'd let his hand drop away.
Sirius couldn't help but think that he'd been about to say the same thing.

On to Part Two
Tags: character: andromeda black tonks, character: nymphadora tonks, character: remus lupin, character: sirius black, character: ted tonks, fandom: harry potter, original author: avendya, pairing: andromeda black tonks/ted tonks, pairing: remus lupin/sirius black, rating: r, remix author: mindabbles
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