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Reparations

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Draco approached his aunt cautiously. Despite Harry’s assurances, he was nervous about how he would be received. As he reached her, he smiled shyly at the little boy in her arms.

“Hello, Aunt Andromeda,” he said hesitantly, his eyes still cast downward.

“Draco…” she breathed, and when he looked up in surprise, he was astonished by the warmth shining from her eyes. She shifted Teddy to her left hip and slowly reached out for her nephew. Feeling equal parts delighted and awkward, Draco leaned into her embrace, closing his eyes as he settled his chin on her shoulder.  He felt his aunt gently snake her free hand up to the back of his head and hold him close. After a moment, she released him with a sniffle, and Draco was shocked to see tears streaming from her eyes. She gave him a watery smile and said with a wistful smile, “You look so much like Cissy…except for the hair,” she chuckled.

Draco smiled sadly. “I’m glad to meet you, finally,” he whispered. “My mum had a few pictures of you hidden away where my father wouldn’t be likely to find them, but the topic was forbidden. It took me a long time to piece together who you were.” He swallowed hard and looked down. “I’m so sorry about your husband and daughter.”

Andromeda’s eyes filled with fresh tears, and she looked down at the young baby on her hip. She took a shaky breath and lifted her gaze back up to Draco. “Thank you,” she murmured. “And thank you for what you’ve been doing.” She glanced toward Harry. “Harry has had a lot of good things to say about the way you’ve changed since May.”

Draco blushed, feeling a strange mixture of pride and shame. “It’s the right thing to do—making reparations when you’ve been responsible for so many terrible things,” he muttered, staring at his shoes.

Andromeda clenched her jaw and inwardly cursed her brother-in-law for turning Draco into the repentant, shame-faced young man who stood before her. With her free hand, she reached up and took ahold of his chin, pulling his face firmly up until she was staring directly into his eyes. “Now you listen to me, Draco Malfoy,” she said, her voice steely, but her eyes full of love. “Your mother married your father and made the choices she did because it was what was expected of her. It’s what the Black family does. While I don’t condone her decisions, I do understand them. I can tell you, better than anyone, how terrifying it is to rebel against generations upon generations of expectations, knowing you will lose everything you’ve ever known if you do. It’s not an easy thing.” She paused, tearing up as she remembered the day she told her parents she was marrying Ted Tonks. The echo of “Then you’re dead to us, Andromeda,” was something that would forever rattle through her head.  Despite the fact that she had no regrets, it had still been horribly painful. “But Draco,” she continued, “you were just a child. You were doing what you’d been taught and conditioned to do, and the important thing to me is that in the end, you chose to do the right thing, despite the fact that Voldemort was camped out in your house! Harry told me about you not giving them up to Bella. That’s not a small thing, Draco. In fact, it’s quite a big thing. And I know that a lot of the decisions you made were with the goal of protecting your parents. That’s true bravery.”

Draco smiled in spite of himself. “Next you’ll be telling me I should have sorted into Gryffindor,” he grinned. Andromeda just raised her eyebrows and gave him a look that he interpreted as, ‘perhaps you should have.’

But she said nothing for a moment, and then finally, she gave Draco an appraising look and said, very seriously, “The best way you can honor their memories, Draco, is to make sure they didn’t die for nothing—and that Teddy can grow up in peace, not having to worry about being the product of two half-bloods.”

Draco blinked against the sudden wave of emotion and nodded, not trusting himself to speak just yet. He reached out a finger for Teddy to grab, and after a moment, asked shyly, “Would it be all right if I held him?”

He was surprised when Andromeda began to hand the baby over with no hesitation. He panicked briefly, having never held a baby before, but after a few seconds and some quick adjustments, he felt surprisingly comfortable with the weight in his arms. A slow smile spread across his face. “Aunt Andromeda,” he began—

“Please. Call me Andi, Draco,” she interrupted.

“Okay. Andi,” he started again, “I don’t intend to ever see my father again, and it will be nearly a year before my mother is out of Azkaban. As you know, I have no siblings.” He swallowed, nervous. “Would it be okay if we kept in touch?”

Andi softened and her heart went out to the boy. “Of course it would be okay, Draco. In fact, I would love it. I missed out on seeing you grow up, and it seems to me that you’re turning into a fine young man despite your upbringing. And besides,” she winked, “I’m not as young as I used to be and I’ll need a baby-sitter for this little guy from time to time,” she said, nodding at the bundle Draco held.

Draco grinned—a wide, genuinely happy grin this—as he looked down at little Teddy. His own aunt had murdered this sweet boy’s mother, and he was determined to be a fixture in Teddy’s life now that he knew Andi would permit it. He nodded, wetness threatening his eyes once more, and looked up at his aunt gratefully.

oOo

A few yards away, Harry looked placidly at his godson in the arms of his former nemesis. He was still holding Ginny, but she was laughing at some remark Seamus had just made, and hadn’t noticed Harry’s preoccupation with the scene playing out between estranged aunt and nephew. As Harry watched a wide smile spread across Draco’s face, he couldn’t help but grin himself. There was a lot to work through still—for all of them—but for the first time he had the feeling that Draco was going to be just fine.