Don’t forget that the mother of Nymphadora Tonks was also a hero.
The Black sisters

Andromeda was never quite like her other relations, many of whom were pure-blood obsessed, such as her sisters Narcissa and Bellatrix. Famously, anyone who dared betray the Black family's ideals got burnt out of the family tapestry. Andromeda was one such case.

Of course, one of the more famous Black rebels was Sirius Black, who actively fought against Voldemort in the First Wizarding War by joining the Order of the Phoenix – and named Andromeda as his favourite cousin. It seems safe to assume that this might be because she was less prejudiced than the rest of her family members – which we know because she went on to marry a Muggle-born wizard, Ted Tonks.

‘You and Tonks are related?’ Harry asked, surprised.
‘Oh, yeah, her mother Andromeda was my favourite cousin,’ said Sirius, examining the tapestry carefully. ‘No, Andromeda’s not on here either, look –’
He pointed to another small round burn mark between two names, Bellatrix and Narcissa.
‘Andromeda’s sisters are still here because they made lovely, respectable pure-blood marriages, but Andromeda married a Muggle-born, Ted Tonks, so –’
Sirius mimed blasting the tapestry with a wand and laughed sourly.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry and Sirius by the Black family tapestry at number twelve, Grimmauld Place

By the time the Second Wizarding War rolled around, Andromeda and her husband were allies of the Order, not least because their daughter Nymphadora (aka one of the greatest Hufflepuffs of all time) was a member. But Andromeda suffered two great losses during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. First, her husband was murdered by Snatchers, bounty hunters brought together by Voldemort to arrest Muggle-borns. And then, during the Battle of Hogwarts, her daughter Nymphadora was killed.

Remus was also killed, and Andromeda was left as the only surviving family member of her new grandson: Teddy Lupin.

‘To Teddy Remus Lupin,’ said Lupin, ‘a great wizard in the making!’
‘’Oo does ’e look like?’ Fleur enquired.
‘I think he looks like Dora, but she thinks he is like me. Not much hair. It looked black when he was born, but I swear it’s turned ginger in the hour since. Probably be blond by the time I get back. Andromeda says Tonks’s hair started changing colour the day that she was born.’ He drained his goblet. ‘Oh, go on then, just one more,’ he added, beaming, as Bill made to fill it again.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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While Andromeda only appears directly in one scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we get a very clear idea of her character from just that snippet – and there is so much more that we can read between the lines.

It would have taken a great deal of courage for Andromeda to disobey her relatives and flaunt tradition. No matter how much she disagreed with their stance on Muggle-born witches and wizards, they were still her family – and she knew they would disown her over her marriage to Ted Tonks. She was burned off her family tapestry, and both Bellatrix and Narcissa considered her to be a ‘blood traitor’.

‘She is no niece of ours, my Lord,’ she cried over the outpouring of mirth. ‘We – Narcissa and I – have never set eyes on our sister since she married the Mudblood. This brat has nothing to do with either of us, nor any beast she marries.’

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Although Andromeda and her husband never joined the Order of the Phoenix, they were close allies of the group during the Second Wizarding War. This may have only been because their daughter was a member; but as a couple made up of a pure-blood witch and a Muggle-born wizard, it’s likely that the fight against Voldemort hit home for Andromeda and Ted Tonks.

The pair of them play an important role in the escape of the ‘seven Harrys’ in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when they act as a halfway house during Hagrid and Harry’s flight from Privet Drive. At first, Harry mistakes Andromeda for Bellatrix – which she seems understandably miffed about. The clearest aspect of Andromeda’s personality that the reader gets from this scene, however, is how very much she loves her daughter.

As she moved forwards into the room, Mrs Tonks’s resemblance to her sister Bellatrix became much less pronounced: her hair was a light, soft brown and her eyes were wider and kinder. Nevertheless, she looked a little haughty after Harry’s exclamation.
“What happened to our daughter?” she asked. “Hagrid said you were ambushed; where is Nymphadora?”
“I don’t know,” said Harry. “We don’t know what happened to anyone else.”
She and Ted exchanged looks. A mixture of fear and guilt gripped Harry at the sight of their expressions; if any of the others had died, it was his fault, all his fault. He had consented to the plan, given them his hair…
“The Portkey,” he said, remembering all of a sudden. “We’ve got to get back to The Burrow and find out – then we’ll be able to send you word, or – or Tonks will, once she’s –“

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Tonks turning around with her wand from the Deathly Hallows

Once the dust had settled on the Battle of Hogwarts, the survivors – still grieving their dead – had to start rebuilding. For Andromeda, that meant building a life for herself and Teddy Lupin. We know that Teddy was raised primarily by his grandmother, with frequent visits to the house of his godfather – Harry Potter. Andromeda Tonks fiercely loved her daughter, and there would never have been any doubt that she would raise Teddy after the death of his parents – but it still takes a remarkable woman to raise a baby on her own after losing her husband and daughter in the same year, and never falter in providing a loving and stable environment.

‘He already comes round for dinner about four times a week,’ said Harry. ‘Why don’t we just invite him to live with us and have done with it?’
‘Yeah!’ said James enthusiastically. ‘I don’t mind sharing with Al – Teddy could have my room!’

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Andromeda Tonks is an unsung hero of the Harry Potter series because she is driven first and foremost by love. Love was the reason she left her family and married a Muggle-born wizard. Love was the reason she and her husband felt compelled to become allies of the Order in the Second Wizarding War. And love was the why she raised her daughter’s son, in the tragic years after Tonks and Remus’s deaths.

We all know that the Harry Potter books are very deeply concerned with the power of love – it’s what saved Harry at Godric’s Hollow, after all. And Andromeda Tonks is just one more character who shows that our upbringing doesn’t have to define us; it’s how we choose to live our lives that matters. With hate, or with love.

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