Nothing gets a House fired up like a third year in a row victory of the Quidditch Cup. And the Hufflepuff House was of no exception. The seven boys of the team held their heads high and waved badger emblazoned banners with pride. They whooped and hollered and made quite the show of themselves as they hoisted the Cup into the air and earned a resounding cheer from the rest of the House table – as well as a few cheers from the near-by Gryffindor and Ravenclaws.
Slytherin House was in no mood to be cheering for the team that snatched the victory from under their noses yet again. The silver students kept their mouths closed and their eyes on their meals as they tried to tune out the raucous boasting behind them. The celebration was forced to a low roar by many of the Professors and the Hufflepuffs resigned themselves to whispered congratulations.
Though Quidditch was of no matter to Andromeda and Narcissa Black, they too felt the sting of defeat and shared in the solemn demeanor of the rest of their House. The sisters got to their feet and started towards the door, wanting to make a quick and unnoticed exit.
“Black!” called out one of the Hufflepuff Beaters, making both girls turn towards him. “Where are you two ladies running off to?” the boy continued, smiling arrogantly towards Narcissa.
“That's none of your business,” the blonde girl hissed, shooting the Beater a cold stare.
“To our common room,” Andromeda answered quietly, her brown eyes flickering over the faces of each team member until they settled on the Keeper. “May we be excused; or did you boys feel the need to flaunt your victory some more?” she asked with a cool tone.
“Don't be so quick to run off,” said the Seeker as one of the Chasers added, “We're always ready to flaunt our victory.”
The sisters gave a quiet giggle to the boys and turned towards the door, only to be intercepted by another Chaser. “Ladies, you don't have to storm off just because we're Hufflepuffs,” the boy said, his smile stretching from ear to ear. “It doesn't matter to us that you're Slytherins. We still think you're beautiful. Don't we boys?” he asked, directing his last towards the team.
Several versions of an agreement erupted from the Hufflepuff team before the Keeper finally took a stand. “You shouldn't be so quick to dismiss us,” he said with a crooked grin as he stepped up in front of Andromeda. “You don't care if we're Hufflepuffs, do you, Dromeda?” the boy asked, his dark eyes bearing down on the girl with an affectionate twinkle.
Andromeda flushed under the boy's stare and turned quickly towards her fair-haired sister. “We should be going,” she whispered. “Congratulations on your win, Ted,” she added with a small smile.
“Don't just congratulate me,” the boy chided playfully. “Like I always say, there's no 'I' in team.” He brushed his hand back over his cropped blonde hair and winked at the girl as she retreated with her sister. “There is a 'me' though,” he added with a laugh. “If you jumble it up!”
“Good to see your spelling is improving,” Andromeda teased, throwing one last glance back at Ted Tonks. She still wore an amused and flattered smile upon her lips as Narcissa pulled her into the hallway. “What's wrong?” she asked, seeing her sister's fallen face.
“Are you insane?” Narcissa hissed at her dark-haired sister. “That boy is a Mudblood, Andromeda! It's one thing to let Fletcher or Kirke flirt with you, they're Pure-bloods; but Ted Tonks is filthy and you know it.”
“Narcissa, I was just having a laugh,” Andromeda insisted, her eyes dropping to the ground.
Narcissa narrowed her eyes and made an indignant huff towards her sister. “You're older than me; you're supposed to be setting a good example. You're supposed to be looking out for me.”
“Cissy, calm down. I won't even see that boy again after the end of the year.” The girl pulled her hand back through her deep brown hair and sighed at her sister. “Let's just go to the common room.”
The Black girls walked in silence back to the dungeons and separated to go to their own rooms. Andromeda dropped herself heavily onto her bed and pulled her pillow into her arms, cuddling into it. She listened to the steady sound of her light breathing and twisted her fingertips around in the ends of her hair as she stared absently at the wall across from her. She'd been laying there for fifteen, maybe twenty minutes when her two roommates made themselves loudly known. The girl sat up and gave a small smile to the others before climbing off her bed and heading back out into the hallways.
Andromeda slipped her shiny Prefect badge out of her pocket and pinned it to the front of her robes before starting her night rounds. Within the hour, she was growing quite frustrated. It seemed as though the year's end was bringing out the worst in back-talkers and disobedient students.
The girl leaned back against the wall and hung her head with a tired sigh.
“Sitting down on the job?” came a voice from down the hallway.
“I'm not sitting,” Andromeda answered with a smirk as she lifted her head and raised her eyebrows at Ted Tonks.
The boy gave a quiet laugh and shrugged. “Leaning on the job doesn't sound as good,” he replied.
“You aren't half as cute as you think you are,” Andromeda said as she started down the hallway away from the boy.
“Considering how cute I think I am...that still makes me pretty cute,” Ted pointed out, following behind her. “And I've never seen you hesitate to stare at me.”
“You wish,” Andromeda laughed.
“You don't have to keep up these pretenses, Dromeda.” Ted glanced around the hallways and assured himself that no one was around. “After all, you practically failed History of Magic this year because you couldn't keep your eyes off me and listen to the Professor.”
“I did no such thing!” Andromeda cried out, spinning around to face the boy.
Before her words could fully escape her lips, Ted had stepped into Andromeda and pushed his fingers through her hair, bringing his hands down to cradle the girl's neck. He lowered his head enough to rest his forehead against the girl's and stared deeply into her eyes. “You look beautiful tonight,” he whispered, smiling down at the girl and bringing a blush to her cheeks. “Of course, you look beautiful every night.” He closed his eyes and inhaled the simple scent that was Andromeda.
“You're getting too risky,” Andromeda whispered back as she pulled his hands down and held them in her own. “My sister really went after me today when we left the Great Hall. Why did you do that?”
“Because I'm tired of pretending. I'm tired of having to hide how I feel about you.” Ted squeezed the girl's hands and pulled her over to a window where the moonlight could wash over them both. “I just wanna stand up and scream it to the school that I'm in love with Andromeda Black. And I would...in a heartbeat if you'd let me.”
“You know my father would never allow it,” she whispered, her eyes glistening with tears.
“To hell with your father. To hell with your whole family. Dromeda you're so much better than all that blood-purity nonsense. You're better than them.” Ted wrapped his arms around the girl's waist and pulled her close to him. He pressed his face into her neck and rocked gently with her, swaying to the inner music that only his mind knew. “You don't have to go back to them after school. You're of age; you can do what you want. My parents would help you.”
“Ted, I c-”
“Don't you love me?” he asked suddenly, pulling away to stare into the girl's eyes. “I would give up the world for you, Dromeda and you can't even give up the parents wh-”
“Don't! Don't say that. You know I love you,” she answered with a breaking cry. “I want to. I want to walk away from them and be with you, but...I'm scared.” She dragged her hand across her eyes and stepped back out of Ted's hold. “I'm sorry,” she said, her words broken by quiet sobs. “I'm so sorry.”
The girl turned on her heel and dashed down the hallway, her footsteps echoing loudly off the stone walls and splitting Ted's heart with each piercing sound. She didn't stop running until she reached her bed once more. She tugged roughly at the curtains around her bed, closing herself off to the light and confused stares of her roommates, then sobbed into her pillow until her eyes ran dry.
Ted Tonks sat on his living room couch, his feet curled up underneath him as he stared mindlessly at the pages of a book. He had read the same sentence half a dozen times before conceding his defeat and closing the book. He tossed it onto the coffee table and leaned over on the arm of the couch. His face twisted in distress and his heart sank with his torturous thoughts.
“Ted dear, do you want me to make you some tea?” came the soft voice of Ted's mother. A delicate face with extremely long, wavy blonde hair dipped into the boy's view and gave him a sad smile. “Do you want some tea?” she asked again. At her son's weak nod, the woman stood up and made her way into the kitchen.
“It's not getting any better,” Ted's father grumbled as he joined his wife in the kitchen. “He just seems like he's getting worse.”
“I know,” the woman whispered as she pulled down a cup. “I just...I don't know what to say. I don't know how to help him. I don't even understand.” She gave her husband a desperate look as tears filled her eyes over her heartbroken son. “The way he talks about blood and purity...it sounds like these people are breeding dogs, not raising children.”
The heavy man pulled his breaking wife into his arms and held her tightly. “I know. I don't understand it either,” he whispered.
Silence dragged through the Tonks household as a solemn woman prepared tea for her crestfallen son and a man watched on, utterly helpless. Ted sipped at his mother's small consolation and let his eyes flutter closed as he drifted off into a fitful sleep.
A soft pounding of rain began to fall atop the roof of the home. Mister and Mrs Tonks cuddled up on the end of the couch, watching their son for several hours as he tried to rest. The woman's ears perked up at what sounded like a knock on their door. She glanced back at her husband in confusion and got to her feet, pulling her dressing gown tight around her.
Upon the doorstep stood a soaked, shivering young girl with dark hair and tear-reddened eyes. The woman stepped back and allowed the girl to enter her home without a single word. There was something about her; about her face, her eyes, something the woman trusted. She grabbed the young girl by the hand and pulled her into the bathroom, instantly wrapping her in towels and helping her to pat dry.
“Are....” the woman was almost afraid to ask. “Are you Andromeda?” she finally whispered.
The girl nodded and broke out into heavy sobs, falling into the woman's arms. “I just walked out,” she cried. “We were having dinner and father was in the middle of one of his stories about work and I just...I just got up from the table and walked to the front door.” She hugged her arms around the strange woman who she already felt at home with. “I could hear them calling my name. My sisters, my parents; they were yelling for me to come back, but I didn't. I just kept walking. I didn't even get my wand.”
“It's okay,” the woman whispered as she embraced the girl tighter. “You're safe here. It's going to be alright.” She tried her hardest to fight away the tears, but in the end she unleashed her sobs right along with the girl.
“I love him,” Andromeda squeaked as she looked up into the woman's eyes; an exact mirror of Ted's. “I love him. I swear I do.”
Ted's mother brushed the young girl's hair back out of her face and nodded. “And he loves you. Please...don't hurt my son again,” she whispered.
“I won't,” Andromeda promised. She pulled the towels from around herself and draped them over the bathroom counter, then allowed the blonde woman to lead her into the living room where Ted still lay sleeping. Slowly the girl got to her knees and brushed her fingers over the boy's cheek, pulling him from his slumber.
“I like this dream,” Ted whispered, his voice distant and dreamy.
“So do I,” Andromeda whispered back as she leaned down and gave the boy a gentle kiss.
A Note From the Author: Thank you for reading! I hope that you enjoyed it. Any thoughts would be great. :D –Jenna
“Like I always say, there's no I in team. There is a me though, if you jumble it up.” – Doctor Gregory House (House MD)
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