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You are a breath of life

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Andromeda had always loved spring. Whenever she had thought of spring, her heart had warmed. 

The small streams the melting snow created, cascading through greening grass and collecting and collecting until pouring into a river, had always fascinated her. In her childhood, she would shed her shoes and socks and follow the water until her toes were freezing but she adored it, nature coming to life anew. For Andromeda, spring has always been a new beginning, a new chance. 

She had felt this way until spring had become the end of it all. Now spring felt cold, and it hurt to see the snow melt.

In the first year after the war had taken almost everything from her, she watched the snow melt from the window with Teddy in her arms. 

When the sunlight revealed the dark earth and the wet grass, slowly drying in the warmth, she felt no urge to don her gloves and kneel on the dirt. Looking at the garden, it reminded her painfully that a pair of hands was missing and her heart constricted.

So she let nature take its course and watched with awe how weeds mingled with a few stray daffodils, how blackberry bushes expanded and how the remnants of last year's carrots and beetroots rooted themselves in the soil in which she would've planted cucumbers.

The weather became warmer, sunnier and with the day of her daughter's death past her, she was able to enter the garden. First, she went on her own, marvelling at the wildflowers she'd never seen before and the veggies she hadn't planted. She made herself carrot soup for dinner and dried the beetroot for later. 

The days grew longer and her grandson became more mobile. He switched from crawling to standing and she guided him through the grass and the weeds, him only holding on to her pinky. 

They continued to do so until he was able to take rounds on his own and she stayed back and observed him. Ever her husband's grandson, he was gentle with the plants, caressing leaves and blossoms, chasing but never catching butterflies. Seeing him enjoy the garden she had loved for years was cathartic and for the first time in over a year, she looked at it without feeling a piercing ache.

She shared the dried beetroot with her grandson on a cold winter evening and was surprised when he liked it. Then again, her daughter had also enjoyed everything pink. As she munched the vegetable, enjoying its fruity yet earthy taste, it was the first time she remembered her daughter without tears welling up in her eyes.

Winter came and went and in the year that followed, she decided to plant some vegetables. After all, she now had a pair of helping hands. Next to the beetroots, they planted celery and carrots. Teddy dug the holes with his tiny hands, squealing and shrieking whenever he encountered an earthworm and she taught him how valuable they were. Together they set them down in another place so as not to hurt them. The sun warmed their skin, spiders and ants crawled over their bare feet and their toes and soles were stained and by the end of the day, his smile was as bright as hers. 

She bathed him, read him a story and watched him fall asleep. The first thing he wanted to do the following day was say hello to the earthworms.

By the month it was time to harvest, Teddy talked to her in whole sentences, inquiring why they did this or did that and she happily answered all of his questions, delighting in the fact that he changed his hair whenever he was pleased with her answer. They ate half of their harvest and dried the rest. 

As he chewed a piece of celery by the fire, he grimaced and then looked at her. His hair was pink, his irises blue and he was the perfect mix of Dora and Ted with not a trace of Remus or her in his face. 

"Mummy like celery?" he asked and for a moment, she froze but quickly gathered herself, a smile playing on her lips. 

"Very much so, my darling," she answered, remembering Dora's tiny fingers helping her cut and prepare the vegetable for soups and stocks and snacks.

Another year passed and he was no longer a toddler. The garden was still his favourite place to be and he had found a new victim to interrogate about it. Hermione Granger came by often, sometimes with Harry, sometimes without him and Andromeda watched her as she walked through her garden, careful not to step on insects or plants.

Hermione crouched down next to Teddy, wrapped her arm around him and cradled some blades of grass in her palm. Andromeda couldn't hear what she was telling Teddy, but his giggles reached her ears and made her heart leap. 

That winter Hermione joined them when they ate the dried vegetables and she suggested serving them with a warm meal instead of eating them as a snack. 

Slowly Andromeda's traditions changed. Her routines became influenced by Hermione, and by the time the snow started to melt yet again, it felt like a new start and she was willing to take the chance.

During a bright, sunny day, she went outside, slipped out of her socks and enjoyed the crunch of snow beneath her bare feet. It sent shivers up her body and when she breathed in through her nose, nothing constricted her chest. 

A warm body settled against her, touching her from shoulders to bum and strong arms wrapped around her waist and drew her closer. She felt Hermione's breath against her neck and when she looked down, the young woman was standing there barefoot.

"I love you," Hermione whispered and Andromeda froze, memories of Ted flooding her mind. How he had said it, how it had felt, how it had resonated deep within her heart. After a moment's pause, she said it back and it felt right, so very right. When they kissed, Andromeda melted against her lips as the snow melted beneath their toes.

That spring, six hands dug holes and plotted vegetables and flowers. They let the weeds and grasses grow tall and wild.

Together they watched the garden bloom and sprout, and together they cared for it. Together they were a family.