It was only Thursday, but Andromeda couldn’t wait.
“Andromeda?” Miss Faye answered the door. “Shouldn’t you be at dinner?”
“I don’t have an appetite,” Andromeda swallowed hard, always feeling like a burden. “I’m sorry to bother you.”
“You’re not bothering me, come in,” she held the door open.
“It’s just,” Andromeda started, standing in her spot, “I can’t sleep again. I’m so anxious at night, all I can do is think and think of all the horrible possibilities. It’s like before, but even worse this time.”
“Let me guess,” Miss Faye sighed. “You want a note for Madam Pomfrey to give you a draught.”
She nodded slowly, slightly embarrassed.
“Andromeda, your anxiety is something we need to talk about. It’s not something that will be cured by a potion. A potion will only help temporarily and once the effects wear off, you’ll be back to the restlessness all over again.”
“I know,” Andromeda agreed. “I just can’t take it right now. I really need my rest, especially with all my end of term assignments adding up. I promise I will talk about it on Sunday.”
When Miss Faye didn’t respond, Andromeda continued.
“Without a note, I’m scared Madam Pomfrey is going to ask why I need a sleeping potion, and I really don’t want to have to explain why I’m anxious. Not to her,” she shook her head frantically. “I’m getting dark eye bags, look,” Andromeda pointed under her eyes.
“Give me a moment, alright?” Miss Faye sighed at last and disappeared inside, reappearing with a piece of paper. “Give Madam Pomfrey this note. She won’t ask any questions.”
“Thank you, Miss Faye,” Andromeda reached out and hugged her. Miss Faye, a little startled at first, hugged her back. “I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“I’m glad I can help, Andromeda.”
Andromeda turned to leave.
“Andromeda?” Miss Faye called out. Andromeda turned to face her, taking a few steps closer to her door. “Maybe you should bring Ted with you on Sunday.”
Andromeda, taken aback, pondered on Miss Faye’s suggestion. Ted was one of the main reasons she was anxious beyond explanation. Miss Faye obviously knew that and wanted to work with him to help her. Of course, she knew Miss Faye wouldn’t force her to bring Ted, but perhaps it was for the best if she did. Andromeda nodded with a smile.
Turning a corridor on the fourth floor, she entered the hospital wing and was greeted instantly by Madam Pomfrey. She handed her the note, and as Miss Faye had said, Madam Pomfrey returned with a few bottles without questioning Andromeda.
“Here you go dear,” she handed them to her in a case. “Take half a bottle only before you go to sleep. I’ve marked the half line for you. No more than half, no less, do you understand?” she watched Andromeda sternly.
“Yes, thank you,” Andromeda nodded.
“And Andromeda,” Madam Pomfrey quickly added before she left the room. “Try and get some sleep. You look exhausted.”
As Andromeda left, she heard Madam Pomfrey muttering to herself, “Every time term is coming to an end, more and more restless students. When will they understand that these children’s health is more important? Tut tut.”
Andromeda wished her troubles and anxieties revolved around school, like any normal person’s would. If only her greatest worry wasn’t her boyfriend getting murdered in the middle of the night.
She stuffed her potions under her bed in her dormitory before entering the Great Hall. Her eyes found Ted, sitting at the Gryffindor table. His friend, Shara, caught her eye as well, and Andromeda was surprised when she offered a very small smile. Very small was still progress, and it made Andromeda feel a little better as she sat down next to Xia.
“Feeling better?” Andromeda asked her.
“Better than Pru,” Xia motioned at her.
“Pru? What’s wrong?”
Pru leaned forward, and Andromeda noticed she didn’t have the usual gleam in her eyes.
“I broke up with Rowle.”
“And…he didn’t take it very well,” Pru looked down the table at him. “At first he thought I was joking. Then he started pushing me around, called me a slut, and said I would pay.”
“Are you serious?!” Andromeda almost shouted, furious. “What did you do? Please don’t tell me you just let him!”
“There wasn’t much I could do, Andromeda. I told him to stop and to leave me alone. I was more in shock than anything. Marcy said she would have punched him.”
“Of course she did,” Xia rolled her eyes. “By the way, Andromeda, Rabastan asked me about you today.”
“I don’t care,” Andromeda shook her head and stuffed her face, even though she was still lacking an appetite. “We’re done. I officially rejected him. It’s over.”
“Do you really think he’s accepted that?”
“I don’t care,” she repeated. She caught Ted’s eye, and he gave her a subtle wink. It took all of her self-control to keep from smiling. “Besides, Rowle is the more pressing issue right now. Listen, Pru, if he tries to do anything at all, you have to report him immediately. Don’t underestimate him. You know what he’s capable of, I’m sure.”
“Promise me, Pru,” Andromeda insisted.
“Okay, I promise,” Pru scowled, taking a sip from her goblet. “Happy?”
“No, I’m concerned.”
“Yeah, well, we’re concerned about you. You haven’t exactly been updating us on your own life,” Pru rolled her eyes.
“Nothing has been going on in my life,” Andromeda tried to act normal. “I’ve just been overly stressed about family and I’ve been trying my best to avoid Rabastan.”
“Why are you avoiding him?” Xia asked, looking over at him. He was sitting next to Rowle and whispering something. Xia caught his eye and turned back to Andromeda.
“Because he’s so insistent and he wants to have everything his way. I’m not going to marry him. You know he talked to my parents?”
“No way,” Pru’s mouth fell open. “Without talking to you first?”
“That’s exactly what I said!” Andromeda put her fork down. “Word for word. I don’t love him, and I can’t stand him either.”
“You used to be friends though,” Xia pointed out.
“I know, but people change. He’s changed. He’s a completely different person now, violent and unpleasant.”
“Oh no,” Xia lowered her head. “He’s coming over here. He looks angry.”
Andromeda tried to act normal and stuffed more gravy in her mouth.
“Andromeda,” his voice came from behind her moments later. “I need to talk to you.”
“I’m not interested in talking.”
“It’s important,” he insisted.
“It can wait,” she insisted back.
“No, it can’t,” he placed a firm hand on her shoulder. “Now.”
She looked up and caught Ted’s eye, who was watching her with a clenched jaw. She shook her head at him, praying he wouldn’t do anything stupid, and stood up.
Rabastan grabbed her arm and started walking out of the Great Hall.
“Let go of me,” Andromeda pulled away from him. “I can carry myself without your help.”
“What’s wrong with you?” he practically shouted at her when they were outside the hall, standing in a dark, inconspicuous corner. “Why are you acting like this?”
“What did you want to talk about?” she ignored him, crossing her arms.
He took a deep breath and looked at her, waiting for the right moment. “Did you tell Pru anything about…Rowle being a Death Eater?”
Andromeda laughed. “I didn’t tell her Rowle is a Death Eater. But I told her to break up with him, and it looks like she followed my advice.”
“You had no right –”
“I had every right!” she dropped her arms. “She’s one of my best friends and she deserves better than a troll.”
“A troll?” Rabastan raised his eyebrow at her. She hated it when he did that. It only warmed her heart when Ted did it.
“A smelly troll,” she stuck out her chin immaturely. “Listen, I have no interest in your Death Eater business, and I have no interest in telling anyone about it either. It would only put them in harm’s way.”
“You need to be more careful, Andromeda. You already know more than you should. I may be able to protect you –”
“I don’t need your protection!” she threw him a glare. ”How many times do I have to tell you that?!”
Ignoring her, he continued, “But if you blab to your silly friends I can’t say the same for them.”
“Is that a threat?” she let her arms drop as she stepped closer to him.
“Rabastan,” someone approached them. “What do you want with my cousin?”
“We’re having a private conversation, Sirius,” Rabastan emphasized the last word.
“Not anymore you’re not,” Sirius moved beside Andromeda, who was still glaring at Rabastan. “Your conversation is over.”
Rabastan’s eyes roamed from Sirius to Andromeda. “We’re not finished,” he scowled before walking away.
Andromeda waited for him to disappear into the Great Hall before breathing out in relief. “Thanks, Sirius.”
“It was either Ted or me. I think he would have preferred to do it actually but I didn’t think it would be a good idea.”
“Yeah, it would have been a terrible idea,” she sighed, leaning against the wall.
“What did he want?”
She told him what Rabastan had said, and he scoffed. “I’d like to see him try and make a real threat. If he tries anything I’ll –”
“Please don’t try anything brave, Sirius. I already have to worry about Ted putting himself in harm’s way. Don’t make me worry about you too. I’m going to head to my dormitory. Tell Ted I can’t meet him in the library tonight. We can meet tomorrow instead.”
“Are you sure? He’s going to be upset. He’s been wanting to see you all day.”
“I’m sure. I’m a little on edge.”
“Well that’s perfect, he can make you feel better,” he said with a devilish grin, though concerned eyes.
“Honestly, Sirius, I just need to sleep,” Andromeda bid her cousin good night and left for her dormitory. She changed into her nightdress and downed half a bottle of the sleep potion Madam Pomfrey had brewed up for her.
Pru had to know Rowle was a Death Eater. There was no way she didn’t. It was only a matter of time before Rowle found out she knew. Would he do something terrible to her? Before she had time to dwell on it, her body was pulled backwards into sleep, and all the worries of the world were eradicated from her consciousness.
When she woke up the next morning, it took a few moments for her anxiety to hit her again. Rabastan thought she was telling people about the Death Eaters. Or had she convinced him last night that she had nothing to do with it? Would they ever leave her alone?
Miss Faye was right. The potion was only a temporary fix. Her anxiety would never escape her if she didn’t work on it. Before heading to McGonagall’s class, she decided to drink a few sips of the potion, even though Madam Pomfrey had told her not to. A little couldn’t hurt. It would help her be less anxious throughout the day.
She was perfectly fine in her first class, but by her second class, things were starting to multiply into twos and move around, and she was having trouble keeping her eyes open. That’s when she realized she’d made a terrible mistake not following Madam Pomfrey’s orders. She thought the effects would wear off, but they worsened by the time Professor Atticus, or in her case, two Professor Atticuses, divided them up into their usual groups.
She turned to look at two Teds.
“Hi,” she managed a weak smile.
“What’s wrong with you?” he frowned, immediately sensing something wasn’t right.
“I’m just a bit sluggish,” she yawned, which made it seem like there were triples of everything around the room. Her long and stretched out yawn finished and everything went back to doubles.
“You look more drowsy than sluggish,” he leaned in, examining her eyes. “And your eyes are all droopy.”
“I’m fine,” she reached out and patted his face, but her hand went right through his face. “Oh no, it’s the wrong you.”
Ted looked to his right. “I’m over here, Andromeda, why are you patting the air?”
“The other you was there,” she tried to explain, and realized she wasn’t making any sense.
“Hold on,” Ted left the table and approached Professor Atticus, who tensed up immediately. No doubt Ted made him nervous after his little dueling incident with Rabastan and the others. Ted returned a moment later with a note. “Come on, I’m taking you up to the hospital wing.”
“What? I’m fine,” Andromeda yawned again.
“No, you’re not, come on,” he helped her up and they left the classroom. “Now will you tell me what’s wrong?”
“I didn’t do it on purpose,” Andromeda slumped her head on his shoulder. “I just took a few sips thinking it would help.”
“A few sips of what?” Ted put an arm around her waist.
“This, um, sleeping potion that helps me sleep,” Andromeda tried to explain with her hands out in front of her.
“Why can’t you sleep?”
“Because I’m so anxious at night, you know? All I can think of are terrible things happening, especially to you, and I can’t sleep and I have bad dreams. Last night was the first time I’d slept properly in a while.”
“Andromeda,” Ted stopped walking, facing her. “I don’t know what I have to say or do to make you stop being anxious. I don’t want you to worry about me.”
“I worry about you,” she pointed at him, then at herself, “just like you worry about me. We can’t help it.”
“I don’t want you to depend on a potion to sleep.”
“I need it.”
“No you don’t,” he cupped her face.
“I need you,” she whispered. He stared longingly into her eyes before leaning in and placing his lips onto hers. She closed her eyes, and a smile spread over her face. “I need you,” she repeated when he pulled away.
He cleared his throat, trying to hide his own worry as he continued leading her to the hospital wing.
“Mr. Tonks? Good heavens!”
“Madam Pomfrey,” Ted hoisted up Andromeda as she slid against his hip.
“Andromeda, erm, had some trouble with a sleeping draught.”
“She did now, did she?” Madam Pomfrey gave Andromeda a knowing look. “Set her down here please.”
Ted helped Andromeda onto the bed and sat next to her, his hand against her back to keep her from falling over. He scanned the hospital wing, which was empty except for a bed in the far corner of the room.
“Miss Black,” Madam Pomfrey examined her eyes after muttering a spell. “Do you remember the instructions I gave you with the sleeping draughts?”
Andromeda stared up at her with wide eyes for a moment, then nodded drowsily.
“And did you follow my instructions?” Madam Pomfrey asked rhetorically.
Andromeda swallowed hard, and slowly shook her head.
“Can you tell me how much you took this morning?”
“About…two sips, maybe three,” Andromeda slurred. “I’m sorry,” she looked down as her cheeks reddened.
“Why?” Madam Pomfrey asked a little more warmly.
“I had…a lot of…anxiety,” Andromeda barely managed in between yawns. “I thought it would…help,” she yawned for the third time.
“I could have made you a calming draught,” Madam Pomfrey moved to the bedside table and began mixing a few vials together. “Here, drink this,” she offered Andromeda a purple potion in a long thin glass. “Drink it quickly, all at once.”
Ted reached out and helped Andromeda hold the glass up against her mouth as she tilted her head back more. He was perfectly aware of Madam Pomfrey scrutinizing him with her stern blue eyes.
“Now,” she took the glass from her, “you’ll still be tired but less drowsy. It’s better that you rest here until dinner, to make sure the effects wear off completely.”
Andromeda nodded and laid down, closing her eyes. Her brown hair fell over the side of the bed, and the flowery scent of her shampoo shook something in Ted.
“Madam Pomfrey,” Ted cleared his throat nervously. “May I stay with her?”
She raised her brow at him. “Don’t you have class, Mr. Tonks?”
“Well Professor Atticus excused me to bring her here and we were doing group projects anyway, and she’s my partner. I could just, um, watch over her for a while,” he explained, scratching his head. He’d never met a more intimidating woman, except for Professor McGonagall, of course.
“Usually I would be against it,” she raised her head, evaluating him, “but just this once I suppose I’ll allow it. I’ll be in my office if you need anything.”
“Thank you,” Ted sat down next to Andromeda’s bed as Madam Pomfrey left. He took her hand into his, and slightly squeezed it, planting a small kiss on her knuckles.
“I’m sorry,” Andromeda slurred.
“It’s okay,” Ted replied. “I’ll stay with you.”
“I just…” Andromeda yawned again,”…can’t sleep at night y’know?”
“I know,” Ted whispered softly. “Don’t worry about that now, I’m here.”
“Anxiety is so exhausting,” she whimpered. “My body is always so tense and my stomach ache never goes away.”
“You can’t fix it with a potion,” he told her tenderly. He wasn’t the first person to tell her so.
“I know. Will you help me?”
“I’ll always help you,” he kissed her knuckles again.
“I’m scared for your family,” she admitted again.
“Don’t worry about my family. I’m taking care of them. No one can get to them.”
“I’m scared they’ll get you,” she mumbled, her eyes closed.
“No one’s getting me. I’m here with you. We’re safe. Just close your eyes and rest.” He reached over and kissed her forehead.
This time, Andromeda didn’t respond. She breathed out heavily and snuggled her head in her pillow, a few strands of hair falling over her face. Ted watched her sleep, his heart warming with every breath she took. With all the darkness in her life, she was more concerned for him than she was for herself.
He had felt so relieved after finally telling her about his mum. Keeping it inside had physically hurt him, and now he didn’t have to go through it alone. But now, it was truth he could no longer deny. He had been honest when he’d told Andromeda about refusing to accept his mum’s condition: he still didn’t want to believe it was true. Any day now she might…
He couldn’t think about it at this time.
Andromeda groaned and turned over, squeezing Ted’s hand tighter. He never wanted to let go. What did it matter if something happened to him? As long as he could get her out of this Death Eater mess, he didn’t care what happened to him. He just wanted her to be safe. He just wanted her to be able to sleep at night.
“Mr. Tonks,” Madam Pomfrey cleared her throat.
Ted’s head snapped up.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to send you away. It’s time for dinner so you should head downstairs into the Great Hall. I’m going to wake Miss Black and have a quick chat with her about not following my instructions.”
Ted looked out the window and was surprised to see it was already dark outside. Time had gone by so quickly he hadn’t even realized it.
“Right,” he stood up, scratching his head. “Could you…could you tell her I…”
“Yes?” Madam Pomfrey raised her brow at him when he didn’t finish.
“Never mind,” he shook his head. “I’ll erm, be downstairs.”
Ted slowly made his way out of the hospital wing, glancing back at Andromeda before he closed the door and turned down the corridor.
“Miss Black,” Madam Pomfrey sat next to Andromeda now that the two of them were alone.
Andromeda slowly opened her eyes, taking a few moments to process everything around her.
“Here, drink this,” Madam Pomfrey offered her a yellow potion. “You’ll feel wide awake.”
And she did, sitting up straight within seconds, as if she hadn’t just woken up from hours of sleeping.
“Madam Pomfrey, I’m so sorry I didn’t listen to you,” Andromeda quickly explained. “I was just so nervous I didn’t know what to do. Please don’t put me in trouble.”
Madam Pomfrey held her hand out. “I’m not putting you in trouble. But what you did was foolish. I gave you those instructions for a clear reason. Now, I’m giving you this.” She handed Andromeda a large bottle filled with a warm sunset-orange colored potion. “If you experience anxiety in the mornings, drink three sips of this. No more or less. However, this shouldn’t be your daily solution. If you are dealing with this every day then perhaps it’s time you talk to Miss Faye about it. A potion cannot cure you.”
“I will,” Andromeda turned red from embarrassment. “Thank you, and I’m sorry again.”
Madam Pomfrey nodded. “You may go down to dinner now.”
Andromeda left the hospital wing and visited her dormitory first, slipping the potion under her bed next to the others. She almost didn’t want to go to dinner, knowing well that all her friends would fuss about her disappearing in class. But then they would fuss even more if she didn’t show up to dinner.
Sighing, she left the Common Room and walked into the Great Hall, avoiding eyes until she sat down in between Xia and Pru. Marcy was sitting across from her.
“There you are,” Xia filled Andromeda’s plate for her. “I heard you were sick. Are you okay now? Here, eat something, you haven’t eaten all day.”
“I’m fine, really,” Andromeda smiled at her friend. “I had too much sleeping potion so I was just a bit drowsy today. Madam Pomfrey fixed me all up.”
Andromeda looked up. Marcy was staring at her without an expression. Ted was staring at her from behind Marcy, at the Gryffindor table.
By the time dessert was served, Andromeda was full and excused herself to return to her dormitory.
“Andromeda!” Ted called out behind her when she was out of the Great Hall.
“Ted, what are you doing? Someone will see you!” She looked around before carefully approaching him. “You shouldn’t have left the Hall like that, people are bound to notice.”
“Are we meeting tonight then?” he asked eagerly. “In the library?”
“I think I should get some rest,” she sighed, shaking her head. As much as she wanted to, her nerves were much too primed to allow her any reckless adventure tonight.
He nodded and managed a smile. “Alright, feel better.”
“Good night, Ted,” she turned and walked away, feeling his eyes boring into her back.
She entered the empty Common Room and made way for the girl’s dormitory, shutting the door behind her and leaning against it. She let her sobs out as soon as the door clicked. Would she ever have a moment’s peace, or would she always be filled with images of Ted and his family being hunted down? Of this pull between light and dark? Because surely, surely, she would have to eventually choose. She couldn’t stay in this limbo forever.
“Dromeda,” a soft voice spoke in front of her.
She screamed, unable to back up further into the door behind her.
“Shhh,” Ted’s voice came again, and suddenly his head popped out of thin air. “It’s me.”
“Ted!” her hands clamped down over her mouth. “How did you-you…you…”
“I’m wearing the cloak,” he let it fall to the floor and cupped her cheeks. “James gave it to me earlier before I left the Hall to come after you. I followed you into the Slytherin Common Room.”
“If someone sees you…” she stammered. “Don’t you realize this is the most dangerous place you could possibly be in!”
“Your room?” he raised an eyebrow.
“No!” she pushed his hands off of her and wiped her eyes. “All the Death Eaters are here!”
“I hope not in here,” he looked about the room jokingly.
“Ted it’s not funny! If-”
“Stop,” he held a finger to her lips and moved forward until she was pressed against him. “You can’t sleep. I’m here to make sure you sleep. I’ll stay up all night if I have to.”
Her eyes teared up as she looked into his. He had done all of this for her. Instead of arguing, she asked not quite convincingly, “Are you sure?”
He brought his lips down to hers, his arms wrapping around her back. They moved away from the door and leaned against Andromeda’s bed pole, their kiss deepening. She was completely oblivious to the world around her. Nothing else mattered except for Ted, and she knew when the time came, she would choose him.
Much to her dismay, the door clicked open, snapping her out of her ecstasy.
“Marcy!” Andromeda shouted as Ted dashed forward to grab the cloak off the floor.
It was too late. She’d already seen him.
A/N: Thank you to everyone who has continued reading my story, even though I take weeks at a time to update. It's my last year of uni so I have piles and piles of responsbility tugging at me. Currently working on the next chapter. Leave me a review and let me know what you think :D
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