“Andromeda. Andromeda. Andromeda.”
Andromeda snapped out of her thoughts and looked over at Zan apologetically. They were sprawled out on a blanket on the other side of the Black Lake, so far from the castle that they could only catch a glimpse of the pointy tip of the Astronomy Tower. They had decided to have an early morning picnic instead of their usual walk.
Andromeda had snuck into the Kitchens late last night and asked Mugsy if he could let her pack a picnic basket. He’d been enthusiastic to fill her basket himself, even after her refusing to let him at least ten times. In the end he’d managed to take it from her and had returned it filled to the brim with fruits and pastries. It had been a miracle that Andromeda hadn’t finished it all then and there.
“Sorry,” she muttered, taking a quick bite out of the muffin she’d been unconsciously squeezing in her hand.
“You don’t have to apologize,” Zan chuckled. “You were in a deep thought. May I ask about what…or…who?”
“Who?” Andromeda sat up, setting her muffin down. “What do you mean who?”
“I just thought, you know, you were thinking about that boy,” Zan awkwardly put in, not sure how to phrase what she was trying to say.
“Ted?” Andromeda asked nervously, trying to say his name without putting too much into it. “Why would you assume I was thinking about Ted?”
“Well, are you?” she asked softly.
“Absolutely not,” Andromeda shook her head. She picked up her muffin and started turning it around in her hand. “No definitely not thinking about him.”
“It’s okay if you’re thinking about him Andromeda,” Zan leaned forward. “It’s okay if you have feelings for him.”
Andromeda’s head snapped towards Zan. “I do not have feelings for Ted Tonks.”
Zan raised both hands. “I was just saying there wouldn’t be anything wrong if you did.”
Andromeda finished her muffin, thinking silently to herself. Was she that obvious? She had been thinking about Ted, a lot actually, ever since he’d read her journal and confessed to having been jealous of Rabastan and her in Hogsmeade. It had been three days since, and she hadn’t seen him yet. He hadn’t been in class the past two days and she hadn’t caught sight of him anywhere else at school. It bothered her that she’d noticed his absence, especially since she wasn’t supposed to care. Was Zan right? Was she actually developing feelings for him? Andromeda shook her head; no it couldn’t be that. There was no way she could like Ted. Her family would become hysteric if they discovered she’d had even one conversation with him, let alone multiple encounters.
“He hasn’t even been to class,” she said without thinking. “I don’t know why it’s bothering me, Zan. It shouldn’t bother me.”
“Well you’re obviously worried,” Zan crossed her legs, closing the picnic basket.
“I don’t know what I am,” Andromeda sighed as she tumbled over on her back. “I’m scared to admit it.”
“Because,” Andromeda started, “that means opening a door, a door that I don’t know if I’m ready to open.”
“I’ll tell you something about doors, Andromeda,” Zan said, eyeing her. “When a door is locked, it means you’re not supposed to go in. But what if you can open it? If you can open it, maybe it was meant to be opened. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be locked. Maybe everyone just told you it was locked but they were lying.”
Andromeda stared at Zan for a few moments, her mouth hanging slightly open. It was hard to digest her words, because that meant accepting them, and accepting them meant that everything she’d been taught her entire life was a lie. Could it have been a lie?
“Just something to think about,” Zan finished, standing up.
Andromeda took her seat in Defense Against the Dark Arts, subtly turning her head to see if Ted had finally decided to make an appearance. She sighed, the pit of her stomach turning as she eyed the empty seat. She felt frustrated that she’d even turned to look in his direction. Even if he were there, it shouldn’t matter.
Everything Zan said was stupid. Even if she did accept that the door was “open,” that didn’t mean Ted would. He probably just saw her as this poor helpless little girl that he felt miserable for and was making up for it by trying to be nice to her. It’s not as if he took her seriously or intended to be a part of her life, with the exceptional conversations they had where he would make fun of her and point out her flaws. There was no way she could have feelings for him. She suddenly felt irritated of Ted for being so bold and making an entrance into her life. He didn’t know anything about her.
“Are you okay?” Marcy whispered to her, bringing her back to reality.
“I-I’m fine,” Andromeda straightened herself out. She tried to focus her attention on Professor Atticus, who, as usual, was relating whatever he was teaching back to Inferi. She would not let her eyes stretch out beyond the parameters she’d set for herself: Marcy on her right, Xia on her left.
The door to the class suddenly opened and Andromeda’s breath caught in her throat. She couldn’t help herself when she turned to see Ted walking through the door, a small note clutched tightly in his hand. He kept his eyes focused on Professor Atticus as he approached him, handing him the note. He stood still until Professor Atticus nodded his head, then turned and settled his gaze onto her while making his way to his seat. His clenched jaw softened upon meeting her eyes, and for a moment she didn’t know if she should look away or continue staring at him. She finally looked away when he sat down, instead catching the eye of the blonde curly haired Gryffindor girl next to him. She was watching Andromeda curiously, almost questioningly, before turning her attention back to the front of the class. Andromeda dropped her eyes to her lap, nervous to look back up. What if she’d noticed something? What if she said something to someone? Everything started with a thought, didn’t it? What if this girl was thinking exactly what scared Andromeda to death?
As soon as they were dismissed, Andromeda hooked arms with Marcy and Xia and rushed out of class.
“Andromeda wha-” Marcy started, but fell silent when they walked past Jamison on their way out. Andromeda watched him watch Marcy, who was avoiding his eyes at all costs. She remembered telling Ted about her plan and couldn’t wait to get them together. The only down side of it was having Ted help her, and now that she thought about it, she regretted getting him involved.
After changing in their dormitory, the girls headed over to the Great Hall and took their seats, waiting for dinner to be served. Rabastan sat down next to Andromeda and draped his arm over her, which made her slightly stiffen. She tried to let herself relax when she saw Ted walk in with his friends. She was at an advantage from this point, which she confirmed when she glanced over to see the smile washed off his face. In its place lay a blank look directed toward Rabastan, who was grinning smugly at something Rowle was saying in his troll deep voice.
Andromeda couldn’t understand why she wanted to make Ted angry. Maybe she was jealous that he could have everything that he wanted without a care in the world. Maybe she hated that he wasn’t scared to voice his opinion and stand up courageously for what he believed in. It wasn’t fair. Well if Andromeda had learned one thing, it was that life wasn’t fair for anyone, so why should it be fair for him when it wasn’t fair for her? She hated him for affecting her the way he did and she wanted him to want to her. He couldn’t have everything he wanted; she wanted him to want her but not be able to have her. She wouldn’t let him have her.
“We’re going to be trying something a little different this year,” Professor Atticus said the next day in Defense Against the Dark Arts. “Since it’s your last year, I’d like to take the last fifteen minutes of every class to practice some dueling so that you have at least some experience going into the real world as responsible adults.”
He slightly raised his brow at a few students he seemed to be emphasizing responsibility to.
“So naturally I’ve matched you up with partners that you will work with for the rest of the year.” He pulled out a piece of parchment and began reciting, “Mr. Lestrange and Ms. Punnels, Mr. Worthy and Ms. Cartier…”
Andromeda watched as Marcy went stationary beside her. Luckily for her, Jamison wasn’t in class to witness her reaction, or experience a similar one. Andromeda was more worried about who she would be paired with. She was holding her breath, waiting for her name to be called. She had one of those feelings swarming in her chest, the kind that anticipated something nerve-racking.
“…Mr. Tonks and Ms. Black…”
And within seconds that feeling was squeezing her throat shut while she tried to remain calm. Professor Atticus went on calling out pairs while Andromeda battled against the will to look to her right, knowing well that Ted was staring in her direction. What made it even worse was that the blonde girl next to him was watching her as well. She could feel their eyes on her, and she could also feel her face getting hot. Did everyone notice how she froze when his name was called out or was it all in her head? Was everyone staring at her or was she simply imagining it?
She changed her mind. She didn’t want Ted to want her. She didn’t want anything to do with him at all. Everything had to go back to normal and with him popping up every other day that wasn’t going to happen.
“Alright now please move and sit with your partner,” Professor Atticus finished, stuffing the parchment in his shirt pocket. “For today you’ll discuss common spells used in Defence. We’ll focus on dueling next class.”
The sound of shuffling chairs and feet filled the classroom, and it took Andromeda a moment to process that people were moving around. She stood up slowly, straightening out her skirt. Before she had the chance to take a step, Ted plopped down in the seat next to her casually, positioning himself toward her.
“You can sit down,” he said after Andromeda continued staring at him.
She quickly sat back down and pushed her seat forward, staring straight ahead.
“Are you okay?” Ted asked, scooting closer to her.
She nodded her head, replying with a shaky voice, “Fine.”
“Alright,” he leaned back in his chair. “So, what are some common spells used in Defence?”
“Um…Stupefy, Expelliarmas, Reducto,” she replied, slightly glancing at him.
He smiled jokingly. “Well I’m sure you’d know all about Offence as well.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she frowned at him, knowing exactly what he meant by his snide comment.
“Relax I was just kidding,” he chuckled, not taking her at all seriously.
“Well it’s not funny,” she snapped at him. She was so angry at him for making her feel this strange feeling. She just wanted it to go away. She wanted to prove Zan wrong.
“Andromeda, I was only joking,” he said more seriously this time, sitting up straight. “Come on.”
“No,” she tried to keep her voice down as Professor Atticus began to dismiss them. “Just because we’ve had some casual conversations does not mean we can continue having them.”
He opened his mouth to say something, but before he could, Andromeda pushed her chair back and started walking toward the door. And coincidentally, advantageously for her, Rabastan was beside her, draping his arm around her shoulder smugly the way he always did.
“He paired me with Jamison!” Marcy exclaimed in a whisper at dinner. “Is he crazy? Is he doing this on purpose to make me more miserable than I already am?”
Marcy was eyeing him from across the room.
“I wonder if he knows yet,” Marcy bit her lip, her fingertips drumming the table anxiously. “I mean what if someone told him? Or what if he doesn’t know and I have to awkwardly approach him in class-”
“I can’t believe he paired me with Punnels,” Rabastan cut off Marcy, dropping down in the seat across from Andromeda. “He’s a fucking nutcase. We’re not fucking kids, he should’ve let us choose our own partners. I’m paired with fucking Punnels!” He stuffed his mouth and chewed angrily for a few moments before eyeing Andromeda. “Who are you paired with?”
Andromeda hesitated. “Ted Tonks.”
Rabastan grinned. “I wish I’d been paired with him. I would show that Mudblood what a duel really is.”
She felt a pang in her chest at Rabastan’s words, the sneer on his lips sickening her. She could picture it clearly in her mind, Rabastan attacking Ted in Defence, that demonic look of gratification plastered on his face. It bothered her a lot, so much that she stood up and excused herself from the table.
She could hear Rabastan calling out to her as she exited the Great Hall, ignoring him. Disappointment was becoming her. Why couldn’t she stand up for what she believed in? He’s not a Mudblood, she wanted to say. She repeated the phrase as she continued walking down a random corridor, completely unaware of where she was going.
Just as she was about to turn a corner, a hand grabbed her arm and pulled her backwards into a broom cupboard, the door slamming shut. Gasping as the same hands took hold of her shoulders, her eyes widened upon coming face to face with Ted.
“Stupid,” he said to her, his tone serious.
“Excuse me?” she stuttered, the entire situation too abrupt for her to wrap her mind around.
“I think you’re stupid,” he repeated, letting his arms fall to his sides. “I don’t get it. I don’t get you. One minute you’re letting me read your diary and the next you won’t even look at me?”
“And not to mention you’re obviously going out of your way to make me jealous of Rabastan-”
“I am not trying to make you jealous,” she lied, pointing her finger at him sternly. “It’s not my fault if you can’t help your envious tendencies.”
“My envious tendencies?” he scoffed at her.
“Look, we hung out a couple times and-”
“We didn’t just hang out a couple times,” he cut her off. “I probably know more about you than half the people in your House.”
“You don’t know anything about me,” she crossed her arms, looking away from him.
“That’s a lie,” he asserted, and they both fell silent.
Andromeda continued avoiding his eyes. After a few moments she asked, “Did you follow me here?”
“Yeah I did,” he leaned back against the door.
She fell quiet again for a while. ‘Why haven’t you been to class?”
A small smile lit up his face. “You noticed?”
She rolled her eyes, diverting them from his again.
“I went home to my parents,” he sighed.
“Home? Why?” she hadn’t expected that answer at all.
“Oh you know, Muggle stuff,” he explained vaguely, then grinned at her. “Actually no you don’t.”
Instead of snapping at him, she met his eyes with a blank face, watching his smile fade into something much more serious. The room suddenly felt unusually tight, and for the first time she noticed how uncomfortably close they were.
“I don’t understand why you enjoy being around me so much,” she shook her head.
“Are you kidding me?” he asked, bewildered. “I’ve never met anyone like you. A Slytherin who doesn’t belong.”
‘There’s nothing wrong with Slytherin,” she stood up for her House. “Not all of us are invested in the whole idea of Pureblood mania.”
“I know that,” he took a step forward. “But does anyone else?”
She could feel her face getting hot and she wondered if he noticed.
“That’s it then,” she tried to put on a brave face. “I’m interesting to you because I’m the odd one out of the group. I’m some weird experiment you just want to solve.”
“Basically,” he shrugged, the same annoying smile on his face.
“Are you ever serious about anything?”
“I’m serious about wanting to spend time with you.” The tone of his voice changed again. He did mean what he was saying. He did want to spend more time with her, and oddly enough, so did Andromeda. The only thing holding her back was her own stubbornness.
“You still haven’t given me a good enough reason,” she started to tap her foot impatiently.
“I don’t think you’re ready to hear my reason.”
Just as she opened her mouth, the sound of footsteps echoed through the door, making Andromeda’s entire body tighten. If somebody walked in on Ted and her alone in a broom cupboard, all of hell would break loose. Rabastan would probably murder him. And her parents…well if her parents discovered that she was interacting with a Muggle-born...she decided not to finish that thought.
She waited till the sound of footsteps faded away before letting her chest fall back into normal rhythms. “I have to go,” she said, turning to Ted. “I’m sorry.”
She left him alone in the broom cupboard, dashing down the hall until she was standing safely in the dungeons. She had been so close to telling him what he wanted to hear.
Andromeda squeaked and jumped away from the wall, clutching her chest when she saw Marcy approaching.
“You scared me, “ she breathed out.
“I’m not going to class tomorrow,” Marcy stated, her eyes dwelling in the past. “I can’t, not tomorrow. I need to accept the possibility of what might happen and I need a few days to do that.”
“Well if that’s what you really want to do then do it,” Andromeda tried her best to support her friend. She couldn’t wait to finally get them together. Marcy wasn’t one to obsess over anything, especially not a boy, so Andromeda knew how serious she was about Jamison.
“There you are,” Rabastan stood up from the couch when Andromeda and Marcy entered the Slytherin Common Room. “Where’d you go?”
Marcy bit her lip, climbing the stairs to the girl’s dormitory, leaving Andromeda alone with Rabastan.
“No where really,” she shrugged. “Just walked around.”
“Why’d you leave?” he raised his eyebrow at her, reminding her of Ted, only it wasn’t the same when Rabastan did it. He was cold, and she instantly missed the humor in Ted that she usually found so annoying.
“I was tired.”
“Bullshit,” he slammed his fist on the table, making her jump. “Stop lying, Andromeda. Just let me in.”
“I left because you’re vile!” she shouted at him. “The way you talk about other people is cruel and vulgar and I’m tired of listening to it.”
“Is this about that Mudblood-”
“That’s exactly what I’m talking about!” she covered her face with her hands. “You don’t have to like him but you don’t have to call him that either!”
“Do you hear yourself?” he stepped forward and grabbed her shoulders, shaking her hard. “If your parents heard you, if Bella-”
“But it’s not my parents or Bella, its you! You’re hearing this Rabastan! You don’t have to use the word Mudblood every two seconds!”
He let go of her and stepped back, shaking his head. The look he gave her implied he couldn’t recognize her, which perhaps was true about both of them. He couldn’t recognize her, but neither could she recognize him. More importantly, Andromeda couldn’t recognize herself. Or maybe she was starting to.
“Don’t worry, I’ll go easy on you,” Ted whispered in Andromeda’s ear before walking across the room.
Professor Atticus decided that the class would focus on stunning today. Where better to begin than the basics? The tables and chairs had been stacked up against one side of the classroom and the room had naturally expanded itself to accommodate the pairs of students who had spread out.
She grinned back sarcastically before catching Rabastan’s eye two rows down. He scanned his eyes from her to Ted, his head held high with a menacing look on his face. If he had the chance, he would kill him. He was already starting missions for the Dark Lord, so what would stop him from hurting Ted? Nothing. Nothing would, and Andromeda knew it. She pictured it all happening in her head. Rabastan cornering him one night, attacking him, beating him senseless, and ending it once and for all. And Ted. He was one of the best people Andromeda had ever met. He was funny and charming and loyal…how could someone look at him and decide his worth based on his blood status? It didn’t make any sense to her. She didn’t want him to get hurt. She didn’t want anyone to get hurt.
“Andromeda,” Ted’s voice came from across her, snapping her back into focus. She blinked back her tear filled eyes and looked at Ted, trying not to let her dark thoughts distress her right now. She could save them for later, when she was alone in bed with no one to hear her cries.
Ted was staring back at her questioningly, obviously noticing her sudden mood change. He shifted his eyes from Andromeda to Rabastan, who was now glaring stonily at Andromeda. Ted knew something was going on, but Andromeda decided to play dumb as she cleared her throat.
“Are you okay?” he asked, his voice soft.
She nodded, feeling the lump in her throat grow now that he had addressed her feelings. She didn’t want to talk about her feelings. Instead, she imagined a Death Eater in Ted’s place. He was trying to hurt Andromeda. He was trying to hurt Ted.
“Stupefy!” she shouted, her words one of the many that were floating across the room. She took Ted by surprise, and he flew backwards, crashing against the wall. Gasping, she ran up to him, kneeling down beside him as he sat up. “I’m so sorry, I wasn’t trying to hurt you I swear.”
“It’s okay,” he laughed, rubbing his head. “That was good, really good.”
“I was just pretending that you were-” she stopped herself. She didn’t want to tell him she pretended he was a Death Eater.
“What?” he asked, his full attention on her.
She looked up to see a few people staring at them, including the blonde curly haired Gryffindor who had been eyeing her over the past week. Andromeda slowly stood up, trying to keep her face neutral.
“It’s your turn,” she said, walking back to her spot. She turned to face him, her eye catching the same girl’s eye again, who was now half focusing on her partner, and half focusing on Ted and Andromeda. What was the deal with her? Andromeda was starting to get annoyed. Was it that unusual for Ted to be seen with her? They were the same species after all.
She heard that the eyes were the windows to the soul. As she looked in Ted’s eyes, she felt the tension in her muscles relax. There wasn’t the same coldness etched in them the way it was in Rabastan.
She felt a sudden pang in her chest, her breath catching. Unable to move her body, she closed her eyes and awaited the painful crash that was sure to come. Instead, she heard Ted mutter another spell right after stunning her, which slowed her down, making her float down until her feet made contact with the ground. She opened her eyes, a long exhale escaping her.
“Th-thank you,” she stuttered, blinking rapidly. She hadn’t expected him to lessen the blow of the spell by levitating her down, especially not after she’d made him crash against the wall.
With a subtle nod, he turned and exited the room with the rest of the class, leaving Andromeda alone with the dark compulsions her mind was growing fond of using against her.
Andromeda sat on her bed, running the short note anxiously through her fingers. It had come at dinner, catching her off guard when it landed in her lap. She opened it again, reading the same scrawny line for the umpteenth time.
Come to the forest at midnight.
What could her sister possibly be doing here? What was so serious that she needed to speak to Andromeda in person? Had something happened to their parents? The same compulsive thoughts began filling her with the worst of ideas. What if Ministry officials had caught her father? What if his identity as a Death Eater was no longer anonymous? Would they send him to Azkaban and subdue him to the Dementor’s Kiss?
She stood up, crumbling the note in her hand. It was a quarter to midnight and the only way she would find out what Bella wanted was if she spoke to her herself. Throwing on her cloak, Andromeda managed to sneak out of the Common Room and past the Prefects in the halls. She was at an advantage since the Slytherin Common Room was much closer to the entrance of the castle than the other Common Rooms.
The hairs on the back of her neck stood up the instant the wind hit her face. The cool breeze of fiery autumn was slowly turning into the cold howl of winter. Andromeda wrapped her cloak around herself tightly, her feet crunching against the gravel pathway as she made her way toward the Forbidden Forest.
Finally reaching the outskirts of the forest, she leaned against a tree, panting into the air. Her breath turned to mist in front of her, illuminating the particles in the shadow of the forest. A branch cracked in the distance, compelling her to stand up straight.
“Bella?” she called out hesitantly. “Bella? Is that you?”
She was scared. Not only was she not supposed to be in the Forbidden Forest, but she had no idea what to expect from Bella.
Just as she turned to walk away, a familiar voice started behind her, “Andromeda.”
Sighing a sigh of relief, Andromeda felt her shoulders relax as she turned to face her sister, whose face was covered by a sly hood that fell over her eyes.
“Is everything okay?” Andromeda asked, approaching her sister. “Did something happen to Mum and Dad?”
“No, they’re fine.”
“Oh thank God.” Andromeda slumped back against a tree, the worst part of the conversation over.
“But it might soon if you don’t get your act together.”
“What?” Andromeda asked, taken aback.
Bella moved forward, lowering her hood to reveal her wild black curls as untamable as ever. Her black eyes glared at Andromeda ferociously in the dead night of the forest, and for a moment Andromeda couldn’t recognize her own sister.
“Bella,” she began slowly, “why did you ask me to come here?”
“Rabastan wrote to me,” she said. “He told me you’ve been acting odd of late. He said you were fighting with him for calling someone a Mudblood.”
“Is this what all this is about?” Andromeda gaped unbelievably at her sister. “You dragged me all the way out here because of something stupid Rabastan said to you?”
“Is it true?” Bella asked dispassionately. “Did you fight with him for calling someone a Mudblood?”
Andromeda hesitated before replying, “Rabastan is always bad mouthing everyone.”
“You know our parents want you to marry him, right?” Bella raised an eyebrow.
“I’m not going to marry him,” Andromeda crossed her arms, ignoring Bella. “He’s vile and I’m sick of listening to him complain about everything.”
“Regardless of what he said, he’s right about one thing,” Bella walked closer to her. “You’ve been odd since the start of summer and I don’t doubt it for a second.”
“Now I don’t know what’s going on in that silly head of yours, but you’re putting everyone at risk. If the Dark Lord doubts even for a moment your allegiance to him, you’re finished, and there’s no telling what’ll happen to us either.”
She cut off Andromeda, holding her finger up to her chin as she began to spat. “I have a reputation with the Dark Lord. I’m a devoted servant and so is Father and I will not let you put our family to shame. Get your head out of the clouds Andromeda, I’m warning you. You’re a Pureblood Black. You’re above all the filthy Mudbloods who think they’re deserving of magic. The Cause is the only choice you have and you better start accepting it. Do you understand?”
Andromeda nodded her head, fighting to hold back the tears that were pushing against her eyes. She couldn’t cry, not in front of Bella.
“Good,” she said, straightening herself out. “This,” she spun her finger around in circles, referring to the current situation, “better not happen again. It wasn’t easy getting in and it won’t be easy getting out. You should be thankful Rabastan cares enough about you to get someone involved before you start hurting everyone. You’re selfish.”
Andromeda turned away, unable to look at her sister any longer. Bella also turned and began to walk away, but stopped far enough to still be in earshot.
“If I find out you so much as flinched at the word Mudblood, I’ll make sure to plaster the words across your forehead so everyone can see where you belong.”
With that, she was gone, and Andromeda was left sinking into the dirt beneath her, her sobs filling the quiet night sky. Everything Bella said to her felt so wrong, but she was scared. Bella was right: her entire family was at risk if she defied the beliefs that had been in her family for centuries. Did that make it right enough for Andromeda to blindly follow? What if her family wasn’t at risk? What if only Andromeda was at risk?
Her life was a trap. She had nowhere to go if she contradicted them yet being around them was becoming difficult to bear. It was bad enough that her father and Bella were Death Eaters, but she still hadn’t recovered from the many nights she’d spent lying in her bed over the summer while her father hosted the Dark Lord and his followers in their own home. Of course, she’d never seen him in the flesh, but the thought was terrifying enough that she still suffered from nightmares every once in a while.
And was her fate truly to marry Rabastan? Wouldn’t that only prolong the lifestyle her father and Bella had transitioned to? The Cause first, even before your own family. Murdering innocent people to cleanse the world of its so-called filth, that’s what fueled The Cause.
She didn’t recognize the weeping ringing in the air as her own cries. It didn’t matter, because no one was here to listen or understand. The dark compulsions in her mind were becoming oddly satisfying, telling her how stupid and worthless she was. No one could ever love her. What was to love? She had to live with this disgusting ideology. She was surrounded by it, drowning in it.
“Andromeda?” came a distant voice she was sure she was imagining. “Andromeda!”
She felt a pair of arms around her, leading her out of the forest. She was too intoxicated in her tears to realize what was happening. All she could think about was Ted, and how lucky he was. The things she’d learned about him in the little time they’d spent together contradicted everything she’d been taught about Muggle-borns. How could someone so kind and full of life be considered unworthy of life?
“Andromeda,” the voice came again, growing clearer in her mind. She was drowning in her sobs, unable to see clearly as her eyes crept open. “Andromeda, hey hey hey.”
There were hands on her face now, wiping away at the tears that had coveted every inch of her skin. Were they her own hands? She couldn’t tell.
“Open your eyes,” the voice told her, and she couldn’t help but listen. The voice was soft and close, making it okay for her to listen. Her tears continued to cloud her vision, her sobs collapsing in her chest. “Shh, open your eyes, look at me.”
As the tears fell away, she began to draw out a face in front of hers, one that grew familiar with the seconds that passed. Was he really here, or could she be imagining it? She’d heard of people hallucinating in moments of hysteria.
“T-t-ted?” she managed to get out in stutters.
“Yeah it’s me,” he assured her, still holding her.
“Oh T-t-ted,” she resumed sobbing in his chest, harder than ever. He lowered her down onto the grass, holding her against him as she continued crying. “T-ted I want to d-die.”
She didn’t know how long she sat there crying, or how long he held her while she stained his shirt. Maybe an hour, maybe two, or even three. When she finally pulled away from him, she could feel the swelling around her eyes from all the crying she’d done. They had puffed up so much there was a heaviness in her head, making it difficult for her to focus. She probably looked really ugly too with all the mascara running down her face.
“Andromeda,” Ted said her name.
She turned to look at him, really look at him this time, and was surprised to find him sitting there in his Quidditch uniform.
“Why are you in your uniform?” she frowned.
He raised an eyebrow at her before replying, “I think I should be the one asking the questions right now.”
She stared back down at the grass, her heart beating fast. What was she supposed to say? Hey my crazy Death Eater sister told me to come out here so she could yell at me for not being Pureblood enough.
“What happened?” he asked, his tone worried. “Why were you out in the Forbidden Forest by yourself?”
Andromeda shook her head, “It’s nothing, I was just stressed out…”
“You were just stressed out so you came out to the Forbidden Forest in the middle of the night? Do you actually expect me to believe that? You might as well be insulting my intelligence.”
“Ted I can’t tell you,” she started to cry again, this time from frustration.
“Yes you can,” he said, grabbing her arms when she tried to cover her face. “You need to stop listening to all these rules that people have made up for you. Andromeda, tell me what happened.”
She looked up at him, contemplating whether she should attempt to tell him the truth. Did he want to know because he cared, or did he just want to know? Either way, she couldn’t stop herself from saying, “My sister.”
“Your sister?” he asked, still holding her arms. “Who’s your sister?”
“Bella. Bellatrix,” she lowered her voice, scared that she might still be here, watching them. Well if she was then she already witnessed Andromeda sobbing all over a Muggle-born, and it couldn’t get worse than that.
“Bellatrix? From Quidditch?”
She nodded. Bella had been one of the most brutal Beaters on the Slytherin Quidditch team since her third year at Hogwarts. She’d broken the record of how many people she’d put in the hospital wing and everyone knew better than to get close to her on the Quidditch field.
“Bellatrix is your sister?” Ted asked again, his eyes wide. “Sorry it’s just taking me a while to digest the fact that you two are actually related.”
She knew that if she told him what had happened, there was no going back. She couldn’t ignore him anymore and play games with their “friendship.” If she let him in, this was it, their friendship was sealed. No more pushing him away. She knew he knew it too.
“She was here tonight,” she began slowly. “In the forest.”
“Your sister was here? Tonight?” He kept re-asking everything she said. “How?”
“I don’t know,” Andromeda shook her head.
She sighed before deciding to be honest with him. “Rabastan wrote to her.”
“Rabastan? What for?”
“It’s complicated,” she turned away.
“If there’s one thing I know about you is that you’re complicated,” Ted raised his eyebrow at her again, something she was beginning to grow fond of. He was right, she was complicated, but she didn’t appreciate him saying it to her face. If anything, it made her feel more complicated than she already was.
“Well…yesterday at dinner Rabastan started saying things, and those things bothered me so I left-”
“What did he say?” Ted sat up straight.
She didn’t want to tell him but she knew Ted would egg her on until she did. “He was just being rude.” When she saw that Ted was giving her a disapproving look she sighed again and continued. “He asked me who my partner was in Defence and I said you and he just started saying stuff…”
“Like how I’m a Mudblood and he wishes he could do something to me that probably most likely involved violence.” When Andromeda didn’t reply, Ted went on to say, “That’s why you got up and left in the middle of dinner? Because Rabastan talked shit about me?”
Andromeda looked up to find him smiling down at her. “It’s not funny.”
“I don’t think it’s funny I just like that Rabastan talking shit about me affected you so much that you got up and left.”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” she elbowed his stomach, making him chuckle.
“So how much did it bother you?” he asked, his voice changing. It was softer, more tender, and it made a wave of nausea pass through her. He was flirting with her, actually flirting. Andromeda could feel her cheeks flushing and she suddenly felt too close to him again just as she had yesterday in the broom cupboard.
“Do you want to know what happened or do you want to continue talking about yourself?” He gave her a crooked grin before nodding his head. “So that night we got in a fight and I told him I didn’t like how he talked about you, and not just you but in general about everyone,” she added that last part, not wanting Ted to get all cheeky.
“You fought about me?” he grinned, then quickly muttered a quiet sorry when he saw the look she was giving him.
“He wrote to my sister. He wrote to her and I should’ve known he had done something like that, especially after the way he was looking at me in Defence and-”
“So that’s what all that was about,” Ted ran his hand through his hair. “God you’re a fucking puzzle Andromeda and every time I think I’m one step ahead of you…” She could tell he was frustrated with her. She didn’t blame him. Who wouldn’t be? “What did your sister say?”
She decided to leave out the Death Eater part when she explained, “She said I’m out of line and I have to start…acting like the…” she hesitated before continuing, “…Pureblood I was born to be, or else she’ll…”
“I can’t,” Andromeda stood up, running her hands over her face. “Please don’t make me say it because I can’t, I can’t say it.”
“Stop it,” he stood up, grabbing her arms again. “You know I’m not going to judge you because of what your family says. Remember you called me a Mudblood and I didn’t even flinch-”
“I never said it! And I apologized!” she screamed at him, pulling away. “Stop using it against me!”
“I’m not using it against you, Andromeda,” he explained, his voice still calm.
“You’re an arse for even bringing that up!”
“I’m just trying to make you understand that those things don’t hurt my feelings,” he took a few steps toward her, his voice rising. “So if your sister said something you think would insult me, I promise you it won’t.”
“She said she would plaster the word Mudblood on my forehead for the whole world to see where I belong!” she shouted, covering her face, unable to look at him. “Tell me that doesn’t hurt your feelings? Tell me that doesn’t make you feel anything?”
They stood there in silence for a few moments. She thought she would go crazy until he finally spoke.
“I’m sorry,” he said calmly, taking Andromeda by surprise. She slowly lowered her hands from her face and stared at him, astounded.
“I’m sorry you have to deal with that,” he shook his head, taking her hand. “I’m sorry because you’re not like them at all and it’s all you’ve ever known.”
Andromeda cleared her throat, nervous now that Ted was getting sentimental with her. She wasn’t good at expressing her feelings, especially since she’d never felt like this before.
“So…what are you doing out here?” she asked instead, pulling her hand away and rubbing her palms together.
Ted frowned, obviously confused that she’d suddenly changed the direction of their conversation. “I was practicing.” He pointed to his broom.
“At night too?”
“I like to practice when no one can bother me,” he shrugged. “The only time for that is the early morning when everyone’s sleeping and late at night when everyone’s sleeping. Except you, of course.”
“I’m sorry,” she wanted to shrink into the ground. “I didn’t mean to bother you.”
“Andromeda,” he laughed, “you don’t bother me. You worry me.”
“Why do I worry you?”
“Because if I found you crying alone in the Forbidden Forest, I wonder what’s going to happen next.”
“It’s not your problem,” she crossed her arms, looking sideways.
Ted took a few steps forward until they were standing face to face. He brushed a few curly strands of hair out of Andromeda’s face before saying, “It’s definitely my problem.”
“How is it your problem?”
“Because we’re friends.”
“I have other friends,” she pointed out, frozen in place.
“Yeah well your other friends don’t know the truth, do they?” he pointed right back.
She opened her mouth to retort his comment, but she knew it was true. Instead, she said in a low voice, “Do friends always stand this close?”
He gave her a crooked grin that sent another wave of nausea through her body. “Some friends do.”
After a few seconds passed, Ted chuckled and stepped back, shaking his head. He picked up his broom and leaned against it, staring at Andromeda.
Andromeda blinked a few times before suggesting, “We should probably get back to the castle.”
“We probably should,” Ted nodded in agreement.
As they began heading back, the only thing Andromeda could think about was the number of times their hands kept brushing against each other, and how much she liked it. Maybe Zan was right. Maybe Andromeda did have feelings for Ted. And maybe it was okay.
A/N: So my finals are finally over and I had a chance to just sit and write this chapter out. It was so nice getting out everything that was in my head. I feel like I had a little writer's block in this chapter but I hope you like it anyway. There was a lot more Ted/Andromeda action and I'm not going to lie, I was tempted to make them kiss in the end, but I'm going to draw it out a little longer because I'm a horrible person :P Leave me a review with lots of love and thoughts and ideas<333
Oh P.S. I'm leaving the country for two weeks and I will definitely be writing, but I won't have the chance to actually update until I get back from my trip. Just a heads up!!
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