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Chapter 2 : Daylight Fading
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Twelfth of August 1970
It was a hot summer’s day; no wind was sweeping by the grounds and rustling the leaves, and the sun shone brightly above in the forget-me-not blue sky.
Andromeda thought she would die of warmth. She preferred the cold breeze on a rainy summer’s day and how the raindrops washed over her and cooled her down, while the sun shone up in the skies, sometimes obscured by the dark clouds. She had always felt as if she could do anything on those rare days.
She was lying under a big old oak tree, protecting herself from the sunbeams, by her childhood home at the outskirts of London.
She didn’t want to go inside because if she did, her parents would probably try to convince her to get to know Eduard Yaxley, while they both had a common thought in the back of their head: to get her to marry him.
And Andromeda didn’t want to get to know him, or marry anybody at all. Not even Ted. It would be too dangerous for both of them, to him especially, if they ever married. Andromeda was aware of that and had no intention of placing them both in a risky position.
She lay still as a statue under the ancient tree, trying to get a glimpse of the sky through the branches and leaves, when she saw from the corner of her eye a figure approaching her. She didn’t hear anything; just saw the shadow of a body.
But Andromeda made no movement that could tell she had noticed.
“Hello sister,” the quiet and tentative voice of Narcissa said.
“Hello, Narcissa,” replied Andromeda tiredly as Narcissa lay down beside her.
Narcissa’s fair skin glowed, even in daylight, and the green colour of the grass reflected itself on her hair.
“Is something troubling you?” she asked kindly.
“No, nothing in particular,” Andromeda answered promptly. Beside her, Narcissa sighed but didn’t say anything in a while.
“Mother wanted me to summon you,” she said but Andromeda did not respond.
They laid under that tree for what seemed like hours, observing their surroundings.
“I don’t want to get married,” Andromeda said after a while, “ever.”
She sat up and looked desperately at her sister.
“Me either,” her sister replied and sat up as well. “But we have to,” Narcissa said. She then grabbed her sisters hand and squeezed it in reassurance.
Then she departed.
“Andromeda, darling!” said Druella Black with a false smile. False smiles didn’t even suit her.
“Hello Mother,” said Andromeda dryly and smiled against her will.
She looked around in the spacious living room, adorned by furniture as old as the house. On the cream-colored couch sat Bellatrix, squeezed between Eduard Yaxley and Rodulphus Lestrange, Bellatrix’s fiancée. Rodulphus was talking with her father Cygnus Black, while Eduard was looking into thin air with his pale eyes, having an expression upon his face that spoke of boredom.
Immediately, Andromeda noticed that Narcissa was not present.
“Where’s Cissy?” she demanded and her mother’s false smile faded.
“I do not know,” she said and added promptly, “now take a seat, dear.”
Andromeda frowned, but did as she was told.
This was going to be a long evening.
Andromeda was lying in her four-poster, trying to get some sleep but was unable to do so. Thoughts of marriage and thoughts of escaping swirled inside her head, while she tried her best to block everything out. She did not want to dwell in her future, because it was as unpredictable as the weather.
But she still couldn’t ignore it.
Suddenly, she heard a soft thump on her window, waking her from the depths of her thoughts. She didn’t move, just lay there paralyzed and waited to see if she heard anything like it again.
After a few seconds, another soft thump could be heard and now she did move. She jumped out of bed, eager and curious to see who was out there. She hurried over to her window and saw the silhouette of a familiar figure; Ted was in the backyard, his blue eyes glinting in the night.
Her heart stopped and her blood in her veins froze to ice in mere seconds.
She opened her window carefully, and mouthed clearly, “What are you doing here?”
She wore a worried expression on her face, but her stomach swam over with butterflies. It had almost been a month since seeing him.
“I’ve come to rescue you,” he joked quietly and smiled mischievously.
“But -" she began but was interrupted at once.
“Hurry! You can bicker all you want later!” he said amused. She nodded reluctantly.
“Hide by the forest! I’ll be right there,” she whispered and he smiled encouragingly before departing.
Andromeda hurried back into her room and ran over to her wardrobe and grabbed her favorite emerald green dress to change. She walked towards her nightstand, and even though she was not allowed to do any magic yet, she grabbed her wand in case it came to be useful.
Slowly, she walked over to her thick door and peeked out. The hall was deserted. She was used to sneak out like this, but still, it never hurt to be careful. She slowly walked down the hall, past her parents’ and her sister’s dorms. Walking on her toes, she descended the marble staircase and past the shrunken heads stuck onto the wall. Then, she scurried through the Entrance Hall, into the Living Room, where there was a door to the backyard.
She prayed for the door to be open and when she turned the doorknob and it clicked, she thanked Merlin and let out a sigh of relief. Before darting out though, Andromeda looked over her shoulder, but met only the darkness filling her home. With a satisfying smile, she exited the house.
As she ran through her overgrown garden, heading towards the forest and smiling triumphantly to herself, she was unaware of the fact that her sister’s cold pale eyes were attached upon her, an indignant expression on her face.
“Please try to warn me next time, at least. We cannot risk it Ted, and you are aware of this,” said Andromeda sharply as she and Ted walked past the trees and bushes.
“I will and I’m sorry,” he said sincerely. He knew he needed to be more careful. It was not only his life he was risking, it was hers as well. Ted actions were always meant by heart, even though he wasn’t always cautious.
When they reached one end of the forest, they walked out on the field and sat down, Ted grasping her hand and squeezing it. This gesture made Andromeda swell with gratitude towards him. In time like these, they weren’t many words to be shared, only the feelings that radiated between them.
The sky was specked with bright stars and the moonlight touched the top of the rustling trees. The night was cool and the breeze caressed their motionless bodies pleasantly.
They both were aware of the danger that threatened them, while others weren’t. Dark clouds were slowly gathering above them all – every witch and every wizard. Soon, a storm would erupt and the uncertain-ness was going to be unbearable. But together, they seemed to be able to overcome all evil and perhaps they would.
The prejudices Andromeda’s family held against Muggles and Muggleborns weren’t unknown to Ted – he knew that if their relationship came into light, both were in peril. But Ted put aside all his doubts and picked up his Gryffindor courage that had never yet failed him.
“Andromeda?” he whispered softly and waited to see if she would answer. She hummed as a response.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you something…” he began and raised his voice a bit.
Beside him, Andromeda stiffened and held her breath.
He continued without hesitation.
“Will you marry me?” he asked softly, held his breath while reaching for a velvet box inside of his pocket.
Andromeda sat up and looked at him with a concerned expression on her face, locks framing her heart-shaped face.
“Are you certain about this?” she whispered and never turned her gaze away from his.
“I have never been more certain of anything in my life,” he answered simply and grabbed her hand.
“But, you’ll be in danger… You could risk your life…” she began and he interrupted.
“It’s a risk worth taking.”
Andromeda thought back on that same day and remembered the promise she’d promised herself. She hesitated.
“Listen, dark times are lying ahead, we both know that. We also know that it’s not only our lives we’re risking. Everybody is risking their lives. But we’ll be stronger if we are together than being apart, and I am ready to face the future with you by my side,” he said determinedly. At this, her face softened and she smiled at him.
Andromeda then ignored her promise. She knew she would marry him, she had always known deep within her heart.
“Yes,” she said, her dark eyes shining merrily. Ted smiled and as he did so, his whole face lit up with joy.
“But promise me one thing,” she began.
He cut her off with his reply, “I’ll promise you anything.”
“Promise me that we’ll marry after our graduation.”
She hugged him for a long time and Ted buried his head in her curly, brown hair. When they pulled apart, Ted kissed her gently on her lips. He then reached for the black velvet box on the grass and opened it.
It was a silver necklace, not a ring as expected, with a piece of jewelry that showed two entwined rings, glowing in the dark.
Ted took the necklace and put it on her, and it reached the beginning of her stomach.
“These rings will glow as long as we are together,” Ted explained and added, “a ring on your finger is not hard to notice, but this is. No one will see it, but if they do, they won't understand what it stands for. It’s our rings hanging down your neck. That’s our promise.”
Andromeda smiled with tears in her eyes and kissed him deeply. Then, they both lay down on the grass and gazed at the stars.
They knew that from that moment on they would never have to fight the fight alone.
A/N II: Here's the second chapter of Faded Constellation! Constructive critism is highly appreciated as always - I'd love to hear whatever opinions you have about this chapter and the story so far.
Chapter title and lyrics in chapter summary is from a song by Counting Crows.
Thanks to the_zerbiac for beta'ing!
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