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Only Black in name: Andromeda Black Tonks

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Only Black in name: Andromeda Black Tonks

It could be argued that Andromeda Tonks is only a tertiary character in the Harry Potter novels; she only appears in one scene in the final book. Still, I have always found Andromeda Tonks to be an amazingly interesting character. Perhaps, it is this lack of information that causes me to be so fascinated by her; there is so much of her life that is not seen and so many questions to be answered.

This is what we do know about her: Andromeda was born into the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black in the early 1950s. She is the second daughter of Druella (Rosier) and Cygnus Black III, sister to Bellatrix and Narcissa. It is written on the Black Family tapestry that Bellatrix was born in 1951 and Narcissa in 1955; from this we can deduce that Andromeda was born c.1953 (BFT). The three sisters grew up in a pure-blood household. We, as readers, can assume that Druella and Cygnus laid the basics for Bellatrix’s and Narcissa’s prejudice against Muggles and Muggle-born witches and wizards.

The name Andromeda comes from Greek Mythology (OED). Andromeda was the daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia. Her mother boasted that Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereids. As punishment for her words, Poseidon sent a sea serpent to ravage their country Aethiopia. Andromeda was then stripped and chained to a rock to be sacrificed to the serpent. Zeus’s son Perseus happened upon her, slayed the monster and married Andromeda (CEE). After her death, Andromeda was placed in the heavens as a constellation in the Northern Hemisphere. There also is a galaxy that bears her name.

JKR’s Andromeda shares some of the circumstances of her namesake. She also had to live with the consequences of her parents’ words; her parents’ hatred of Muggle-borns was passed onto her sisters which caused them to follow Voldemort. Andromeda renounced their hatred and prejudice and she was consequently rejected by her family. It could also be argued that Andromeda was saved from her family’s intolerance by a modern-day Perseus.

We do not know whether Andromeda always questioned her family’s values or if her opinions changed during her time at Hogwarts. (She was sorted into Slytherin House like the rest of her family before her.) Sirius tells Harry that Andromeda was his favourite cousin (OP6). From Sirius’s affection for Andromeda, we may assume that she was always more compassionate than her sisters. Sirius also tells Harry that, “I haven’t seen [Bellatrix] since I was your age” (OP6). If Sirius was about 15 years-old the last time he saw Bellatrix, I assume that he may have not seen Andromeda often after this time either. – Andromeda is several years older than Sirius; Sirius was born in 1959, so there is about a six year age difference between the two. Andromeda attended Hogwarts in the mid-60s to early 70s, while Sirius attended Hogwarts from 1971 to 1978. – Therefore, I believe that the majority of Sirius’s memories of Andromeda are from earlier years. From this I would deduce that she was always the more tolerant, kind and caring sister.

After Andromeda left Hogwarts, she married a Muggle-born man named Edward (Ted) Tonks. Like her cousin Sirius, she defied her family’s wishes and for that she was disowned and her name was burned off of the family tree. “[Sirius] 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” (OP6).

Though Andromeda does not appear to share political or moral views with her sisters, she does share a few characteristics. Andromeda is described in the novels as resembling her sister Bellatrix in appearance. In fact, Harry mistakes Andromeda for her sister when he first sees her. “[A]s she moved forwards into the room, Mrs. Tonks’s resemblance to her sister Bellatrix became less pronounced: her hair was a light, soft brown and her eyes were wide and kinder.” Andromeda and her sister Narcissa have more in common than either of them realize. They are both strong mothers who would do anything for their children. Both have only one child and both care about their child’s safety above all else. Both, in their own way, defy Voldemort because of love.

Though we don’t know if Andromeda had a career outside the home before she became a mother, we do learn that she is very skilled in household magic and healing magic. Nymphadora tells Harry when she was helping him pack, “My mum’s got this knack of getting stuff to fit itself neatly – she even gets the socks to fold themselves – but I’ve never mastered how she does it” (OP3). Andromeda also is the one to heal Hagrid’s injuries after the flying motorcycle crashes into her garden in DH.

Despite her family’s disownment, Andromeda seemed to have been very happy in her marriage and her adult life. In 1973, she had a daughter whom she names Nymphadora (OP3). Andromeda is an excellent mother. She and her husband taught Dora to be a kind, intelligent, brave person. Dora was sorted into Hufflepuff when she attended Hogwarts, which is the house of patience, loyalty and honesty.

Andromeda and Dora have a very close relationship, despite Dora calling her “a fool of a mother” for naming her Nymphadora. (Andromeda obviously does like the name as she calls her Nymphadora in DH while Ted refers to her as Dora). Andromeda is much shaken when she learns that the group of people protecting Harry, including her daughter, was attacked by Death Eaters. “‘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” (DH5). Andromeda obviously fears for Dora’s safety, but she shows strength by making sure that Hagrid is cared for before coming to see Harry and question him about her daughter’s whereabouts. When Harry and Hagrid go to leave, Harry “looked at Mrs. Tonks, wanting to apologise for the state of fear in which he left her and for which he felt so terribly responsible, but no words occurred to him that did not seem hollow and insincere” (DH5).

Andromeda and Ted eventually learn that Nymphadora survived the Battle of the Seven Potters, but they pay the price for assisting Harry. They are not official members of the Order of the Phoenix, but they did allow their home to be used as a safe house. Lupin tells Harry that Death Eaters arrived at their home after the Ministry of Magic fell and they “used the Cruciatus Curse on Tonks’s family” questioning them about Harry’s whereabouts. “They’re all right – shaken, obviously, but otherwise OK” (DH11). The Tonks family knew the risk of assisting Harry’s escape from Privet Drive, yet they agreed to be the safe house where to Harry travels. Andromeda and Ted must have known that assisting Harry would put them in great danger, but they choose to defy Voldemort anyways.

Andromeda and Ted take another risk when they accept Dora’s marriage to Remus Lupin. Remus has been greatly discriminated against in the past because he is a werewolf. His condition carries a stigma in the wizarding world, especially among pure-blood. But, Andromeda and Ted ignore the prejudice of others and do nothing to prevent their marriage. Still, Lupin feels that they must dislike Dora’s choice. Lupin tells Harry that he regrets marrying Dora because he made her “an outcast” (DH11). He says Dora’s family was “disgusted by our marriage, what parents want their only daughter to marry a werewolf?” (DH11). I believe that Remus is being insecure and self-loathing when he says this. He is so used to being excluded, judged and discriminated against, that he has begun to expect it. He is so afraid that he has put Dora and his unborn child in risk that he assumes that Dora’s family must also blame him. Lupin doesn’t remember that Andromeda was disowned by her family when she married for love; Andromeda wouldn’t make the same mistakes as her parents. Andromeda and Ted accept and even welcome Dora’s marriage with Remus most likely because they understand the challenges that Dora and Remus will face.

Andromeda further demonstrates she has accepted the marriage when she and Ted take Nymphadora and Remus into her home during the Second War with Voldemort.  Dora is living with her parents, when Lupin leaves her and, after Lupin returns, he and Dora remain at Andromeda’s house. Dora gives birth there and they name the baby after Dora’s father. All through these challenges, Andromeda stands by Dora and helped to care for her new grandson. Lupin tells Fleur that Teddy’s hair started changing right after he was born. “Andromeda says Tonks’s hair started changing colour the day that she was born” (DH25). Days later Lupin and Tonks leave their baby in the care of Andromeda, so they can join the fight against Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts.

Andromeda loses the most of anyone in the Second War with Voldemort. Her husband refused to register as a Muggle-born wizard and then flees when he realized Death Eaters are in the neighbourhood (DH15). Ted Tonks is captured and murdered by Snatchers after being on the run for several months (DH22). During the battle of Hogwarts, Andromeda’s sister Bellatrix murders her only child Nymphadora and her son-in-law is murdered by Dolohov. She is left alone to raise her grandson Teddy and to carry on after the war is over. Andromeda shows immeasurable strength by continuing on with her life after such tragedies; she still manages to raise Teddy in a happy and loving household. With Harry as Teddy’s godfather, we can assume that Harry, Ginny and their children form close bond with Andromeda, perhaps helping her create a new kind of family for herself and Teddy.

Despite all the challenges throughout her life, Andromeda never chose the easy route. She did not turn towards darkness, instead she used love to try and create a better future for her family and herself. She is yet another example of a strong mother in Harry Potter. She raised Nymphadora and Teddy with the same kindness and compassion that her cousin Sirius saw in her all those years before. Andromeda is definitely a character that deserves recognition.


“Andromeda, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2016. Web. 29 March 2016.

“Andromeda, In Greek Mythology.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2015): 1. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.