A/N: This chapter spans the whole of Andromeda’s schooling – the challenge stipulates no more than five chapters - hopefully giving more insight on her character. The text in italics is her as an eighteen-year-old, the rest are flashbacks.
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Andromeda watched her housemates fondly. Everyone was sprawled out on various pieces of furniture or on the floor of their living room. The young wizards had decided to rent a house in Greater London for the duration of their apprenticeships. Now, the bulk of everyone’s possessions was moved in and magicked to the respective rooms, and still boxes and trunks were standing everywhere. Her boys, as she called them, had collapsed here some thirty minutes ago, claiming to be done for the day. She regarded them fondly as she remembered back to when she had met each of them. They who were her family now, and she could still recall how she met each of them.
It was several weeks into her first year, she was enjoying the last rays of sunshine, her half-finished potions essay lying abandoned beside her.
“Hey Andromeda, are you doing that Potions essay? I could use some help.” She looked up to find one of the other Slytherin first years beside her. She recalled his name, Julius Morgan. He had curly short hair, and intelligent brown eyes twinkled behind his glasses. He was a scrawny kid; from a pureblood family as far as she knew, although their family tree wasn’t as long as theirs.
“I should probably get started, yes,” she replied in clipped tones. Although she wanted to meet new people, she felt her upbringing made her sometimes too reserved and even snobby to talk to others first, so she hadn’t really made any friends yet.
“Do you mind if we do it together? I couldn’t help but notice that you’re quite good at it,” he asked hopefully.
“That’s no big feat a few weeks into our schooling. And with Slughorn fawning over every stir I do, the impression might be misleading.”
“Still, I really want to do well. You know, I want to be a Healer, and Potions is very important for that.”
“Indeed. – And you already know what you want to do?” She asked curiously. That time seemed so far away, and she had been told in no uncertain terms that a profession was not in the future for her.
“Of course. I had to go to St. Mungo’s when I was seven, to get my arm fixed; and I wanted to be a Healer ever since.”
Andromeda had listened to his enthusiastic plans for the future; she hadn’t known it then, but Julius would be one of her best friends, and her potions partner for the seven years of their schooling.
Curiously enough, Julius would be starting training as a Potions Brewer, and not a Healer, at St. Mungo’s on August 1st. Both of them were pure-bloods, but had learned to judge people by their personality, not their blood. Her eyes continued to the two identical redheads.
A year later, she still hadn’t too many friends, and after the holidays her aunt’s lessons had still been fresh on her mind.
The new transfiguration teacher, Minerva McGonagall, had caught her out after curfew, and assigned her detention for it.
To her surprise, she had had company. Fabian Prewett was known as a troublemaker, apparently he had jinxed his older sister’s homework, earning him a detention with McGonagall and a Bat-Bogey Hex from his sister.
To pass the time, they had started talking, although it seemed to have taken him some effort to talk to a Slytherin.
Apparently, he and his brother had discovered the kitchens.
“Well done,” she said, not even trying to hide the sarcasm. Julius and she had discovered it in first year already.
“It’s awesome, all those elves! David couldn’t get enough of them!”
“David? The mudblood who’s always hanging around you?” She asked with genuine interest.
“Don’t call him that!” Fabian wiped out his wand, advancing on her. “I thought you were alright, but apparently you’re just another ignorant Slytherin!”
“What? What did I do?” Andromeda was honestly confused.
Fabian gave her an incredulous look. “Don’t play dumb.” He watched her, then added, “You really don’t know what you did, do you?” Fabian shook his head, put his wand away. “Well, I refuse to stay here with someone as ignorant as you, you can think about what’s wrong while you finish scrubbing.”
Andromeda was left behind with a classroom to clean, and no idea what had him so agitated. Was it the word mudblood? No, that couldn’t be, everyone used it. Or everyone she knew, at least.
She sat back on her heels as she heard footsteps approach in the hall. She hoped it wasn’t McGonagall.
Her face lit up as she caught sight of a brown-haired head peeking into the classroom.
“Ted!” She exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”
“Wotcher Andromeda! I saw Prewett heading away from here, muttering something about ignorant Slytherins. He wouldn’t have been talking about you?”
She felt her cheeks colour. “Yes, I think he was. And I still don’t know what it’s all about.”
He picked up Fabian’s discarded scrub and asked her to retell the story.
When she was finished, he looked at her with wide eyes. Ted shook his head, and took Andromeda’s hands in his, watching her intently.
“Do you honestly think it’s normal? Please tell me you don’t know better, that you’re not using that word intentionally!” His voice sounded pleading.
“Which word? ‘Mudblood’?” She saw him wince, and felt bad. Although she still didn’t know the exact reason for all this, she got a bad feeling about it.
Ted nodded, trying to act unaffected. “Yes. It’s – I didn’t know it before I came here. Until some older students called me it. It’s a dirty name, for someone like me. Someone who doesn’t have magical parents.”
Andromeda felt the realisation hit her like a hippogriff in full swing. Of course her pureblood-crazy relatives would use a derogative word.
“Oh Ted, I’m sorry. I – I really didn’t know.” She freed her hands and let them flutter to her sides helplessly.
Ted nodded his ok, but didn’t meet her eyes again as they continued to scrub the floor clean. That he didn’t leave her too made her feel even worse. Anyone else, especially her pure-blood housemates, would have left already.
The next day, she waited the Prewett twins and their friends, and did what she had never done before: she apologised. All wasn’t well after that, the three Gryffindor boys and Ted acted coolly towards her for the rest of the year.
That had been how she first met Fabian, and only when she had befriended his twin did he change his attitude towards her.
Third year. They had opted to take Care of Magical Creatures, and Gideon and Andromeda were paired off and try to tackle a Giant Fire Crab Gideon had jumped right on its back, trying the direct approach. She didn’t trust herself to catch the Fire Crab with magic, or that she wouldn’t hit the Gryffindor instead. So she caught hold of its tail, and with Gideon on its back and Andromeda doing a water-ski impression as she held on its tail, they charged past their gawking classmates.
Gideon seemed to find this all funny, his laughter echoing through the grounds until it abruptly stopped when they, magical creature, children and all, disappeared in the waters of the Black Lake.
Andromeda surfaced again, spitting and coughing. Beside her, the heads of a boy and a Fire Crab bopped up, the creature taking off for the shore at once, where Professor Kettleburn and Hagrid were already waiting.
Andromeda felt herself lifted into the air, and seconds later, she and Gideon touched down on the shore, where they had to listen to a lecture about treatment of valuable rare creatures.
When Professor Kettleburn was satisfied with their contrite faces and apologies, he left them to instruct the others on homework.
“That was wicked,” Gideon announced. “Not too bad for a girl!”
“I’ll give you girl,” she shot back, unusually bold. Her clothes and robe were sopping wet, and probably an owl already on its way to Grimauld place.
“But darling Andy, you wouldn’t!” He fluttered his eye-lashes at her.
Her right eyebrow rose up as if on its own accord. “Andy? Are you suicidal?”
Gideon contemplated for a bit, then shook his head. “Not particularly, no.”
He jumped up, laughing and running and screaming for Fabian to help, for Andromeda was hot on his heels.
Andromeda let out a laugh. Gideon had just jumped on Casper’s stomach, who was sprawled on the sofa since they had finished moving the boxes in. Caspar Hart, her first kiss.
It had been her fourth year, and Valentine’s Day of all days. Some clever student had charmed clouds to float everywhere, raining heart-shaped confetti on everyone and everything that moved in the halls.
Andromeda had found a cute little Valentine’s card in her mail this morning. Everywhere she went, she was trying to catch someone behaving strange to find out who had send it. Unfortunately for her, everyone above third year seemed to be acting strange that day.
Slytherins and Hufflepuffs had just finished Herbology. She exchanged some words with Ted, only now noticing the dark-haired boy beside him. Of course she knew of Ted’s friend Casper, but he didn’t stick around often when she talked to Ted.
Andromeda was just commenting on Professor Sprout’s newest project, the underwater plants, when Ted’s friend Matt, another Hufflepuff, called him away.
“Uh, do you want me to take you to the Great Hall?” Casper asked. It was the first time he had actually addressed her.
“Uh, ok,” she consented, torn between nonplussed and irritated. She was perfectly capable of finding her was to the Great Hall. And he could just have gone with his friends.
“So, how are you?” He asked her, seemingly nervous.
“Good,” she half answered, half questioned. As she watched his face, she found that he was actually not too ugly, his black hair fell in nice soft waves below his ears, and his eyes were of a dark blue colour.
“That’s good,” he said, falling silent again.
“Would you want to sit with me - us?” He asked urgently and somewhat out of the blue as they neared the double doors to the Great Hall.
Andromeda cocked her head at him. His cheeks had taken on a reddish hue. What was up with him?
Apparently, she had pondered to long, because he continued, “Because if you wanted, we could also do something else. I asked them to go ahead, so it would be only you and me …” Caspar trailed off uncertainly.
She thought she understood now. “Did you send me a Valentine’s card today?”
Caspar only nodded.
Andromeda nodded to herself as everything started to make sense. “What – what would we do?”
He shrugged his shoulders. They stood there for a little, wondering what to do now. Finally, he asked, “Does that mean that we’re kind of having a date now?”
“I guess,” Andromeda answered, a bit out-of-her-comfort-zone. “We could grab something to eat, and go to, erg, the library?”
They had wandered down to the kitchens, because neither was particularly fond to draw to much attention by going into the Great Hall. Andromeda asked him a lot of questions, and soon found that they seemed to have a lot of similar interests. They munched the food the house-elves had provided them with, but didn’t end up in the library for fear of Madam Pince.
Caspar led her up the Astronomy tower, where they sat on the banister. Andromeda shivered in the cold evening wind, and was about to suggest to get back down, when Caspar conjured a large blanket for them.
Andromeda found she didn’t mind as he wrapped them both into it, and they sat there, giving warmth to each other. She looked into his eyes that looked almost black in the night and then, his face came closer to her as he leaned in.
Andromeda let out a small giggle as their noses bumped together, but not a second later their lips touched lightly. They wiggled around a bit to get comfortable. Andromeda found she enjoyed this very much, it was nice.
She pulled back, and saw a dopey smile on his face. She was sure she looked just the same, and they sat there a little longer, talking into the night.
A reminiscent smile graced her face at that memory. Sadly, their ‘never-ending love’ had only lasted for one month when they had discovered that they could talk to the other like no one else, and the kisses weren’t as good as their friendship.
She jerked out of her thoughts as the presenter’s voice from the Wizarding Wireless grew louder. Matt the Quidditch nut kept fiddling with the radio to hear the latest report over the general din.
Ted had asked her to come to the Quidditch pitch, Matt would be holding try-outs for the Hufflepuff Quidditch team. He had been made captain in his fifth year.
She didn’t know where Julius had disappeared to, so she went alone. Ted had his books with him, as was so often the case. She shared a look with Casper, and they went in to take the book away from him.
“Magical Herbs and their use in Healing” Andromeda read aloud.
“Yes, so? I need all the knowledge I can get to get accepted into the programme!”
Andromeda soothed him; Ted and Julius had decided they both wanted to be Healers one day.
“Hey Matt!” Caspar greeted the third boy of their group. “Got us a winner team?”
Matt, a blonde, tall and muscular boy, had come to a halt directly in front of their seats.
Andromeda snorted. Slytherin had won last year’s cup, and it had been Ravenclaw before that.
“What was that Missy?” Matt asked her. “Would you like to demonstrate?”
“Me?” She asked, putting as much indignance into the word as possible. “I don’t fly.”
“Would you want to?” Matt asked, indicating the broomstick handle behind him.
“Our Andy wouldn’t fly,” Ted butted in. It was quite common for all of them to use Gideon’s nickname for her.
Somehow, that statement irked her. “Of course I’d want to fly, Tonks! Just watch!” Faster than Matt could react, she had taken hold of his arm and swung herself up on the broomstick behind him.
“What are you waiting for?” she asked him, ignoring the funny feeling she had in face of the height.
“Okey dokey,” Matt told her cheekily, and he took off around the Quidditch pitch. Andromeda had started to squeal in a high-pitched voice, but it wasn’t long and it changed into a cry of joy. She had never known it would feel this good.
“Speed up!” she demanded, on an adrenalin high.
“Woah there, I think I finally get it what they mean!” he said cryptically. “You’re a minx!”
Andromeda cuffed him, but chose to ignore him otherwise; she was having way too much fun.
After some more loops, she thought she felt Matt fumble a bit. “What’s going on, is something wrong?”
“’s nothing,” he contradicted feebly.
They had just passed a group of Ravenclaw girls, who were giggling and pointing at them.
Andromeda reflected about the scene again, then her face broke out into a smile. “You like one of them! Which one?” Matt tried to deny that, but after some poking he finally revealed her name.
That was how the only other girl of their group finally joined them. Magdalene Bagnold. Matt and Maggie had started going out late in their fifth year, and were still together. Although sadly Maggie wouldn’t stay with them at the house, but at least she was here today, Andromeda thought as watched the other girl wrestle Matt away from the radio, and snuggle into his side on the sofa.
David kept laughing and hooting at them, and soon the other two former Gryffindors joined in.
David Lyons was also in Gryffindor, although he preferred to stay by himself most of the time. He was much less notable than the Prewett twins.
Andromeda had had another vicious letter from home; her aunt threatening once again that she would give her to a respectable pure-blood man who would teach her to be more compliant.
She had had enough. All those years, her aunt and uncle had tried to shape her into the perfect pure-blood girl, punishing inappropriate behaviour when they actually had her under their thumb. She couldn’t wait to be off age and leave them all behind. She only regretted that she would have to leave her two little cousins behind, especially Sirius. He had some decency the others definitely lacked.
She balled up the letter in her hands, throwing it angrily at the wall, releasing her frustration in a loud scream.
“That’s exactly how I feel,” a voice interrupted her. Andromeda started, she had come to the Astronomy tower to be alone.
“Sorry, I didn’t want to frighten you, I needed a place to be alone, the common room is just too loud at the moment.”
“You are David Lyons,” she said as she was finally able to make out his face.
“Yes, I am. And what brings you here in the middle of the night?”
Andromeda released a breath. “Family issues. I wish I could just leave them behind, the narrow-minded lot of them!”
“Andromeda Black. Yes, I haven’t got the impression that you’re a lot like the reputation they have.”
Andromeda acknowledged his answer, and asked for his justification to be here.
“Well, my mother is muggleborn, and she told my grandparents it wouldn’t be safe for them to come visit. Which means, thanks to those more and more frequent attacks on Muggleborns, I won’t see them in the foreseeable future.”
Andromeda thought she knew exactly what he was talking about. She couldn’t prove their involvement, but she suspected her relatives knew at least what was going on.
“Hopefully, the Aurors will get it under control soon,” she tried to encourage him, as well as herself.
David’s mother had been murdered shortly after that conversation, and Andromeda had taken him under her wing ever since then. Beside him was the last member of their group, apart from Ted.
Robert McQueen was his usual immaculate self as he leaned back in his chair in the corner of the room, watching what was going on around him.
Of course she had known him since first year, the Ravenclaw prefect and always among the top of every class. And Maggie had complained more that once about him.
In her seventh year, she had been made Head Girl, and no one seemed more surprised than Andromeda herself. A meeting with the Head Boy had been scheduled right before the prefects would join them, discussing events and patrol schedules for the year.
Robert had always kept himself above the mundane goings-on of the other students, Andromeda considered him a bore. Only he proved her wrong during that meeting. He had flown over with ideas, roping her into organising a ball for the seventh years for their leaving.
As she watched her boys plus Maggie in her new home, even it was only temporary, she felt warmth creep back into her. Her friends were more of a family than her own, with the exception of Sirius and perhaps her Uncle Alphard.
Although, and maybe even because she spent time with a group of pure-bloods, half-bloods and Ted the muggleborn, she enjoyed herself immensely. And it had cost her to be here.
She had returned to Grimmauld Place, still believing she could make them see that she chose to live life differently, and leave in good terms. And she needed to see Sirius again, he would start Hogwarts in September, and hopefully he’d make the right choices.
Andromeda had had an argument with her aunt. Now, her trunk was packed, and she was just descending the stairs, when the doorbell rang.
Aunt Walburga had positioned herself in the hall, and agitatedly opened the door. Andromeda felt her insides go cold when she recognised the voice of one Ted Tonks. No, a voice in her head screamed, he couldn’t be here. Not him.
She shrunk her trunk, that held all the belongings she deigned worthy to keep, and rushed down the rest of the stairs.
“My niece will be going nowhere,” Aunt Walburga told Ted venomously. “The wedding has already been arranged. And who are you, anyway?”
“I already introduced myself, madam. Ted Tonks, I went to school with your niece.”
Andromeda didn’t take heed of her aunt’s fit of unbelieving and derogative insults. The only thing she could think of was how they would get away from here. Teddy didn’t know what he got himself into. She reached her aunt’s side, and not paying attention to her insults and screams, she urgently asked Ted, “What are you doing? Ted, what are you doing?”
“You took longer than you said you would be, so we decided to come for you. Only I was the fastest.”
“But what about Julius; he must have known how dangerous it would be, especially for you. Let’s go, let’s …” Andromeda was interrupted by Walburga Black.
“Not so fast. I’ve had to talk with the tongues of angels to get Rookwood to agree to marry you. I won’t let you bring shame on our name by rejecting that match. I’ve tolerated your more than questionable association until now, and I took you in, and that’s how you thank me for it? And bringing a Mudblood into the house of my ancestors? How dare you? You will both pay for that!”
“Shut up!” Andromeda finally lost her cool, and shouted at her aunt. “I don’t owe you anything, what have you ever done for me? Find someone else for your wedding, or marry him yourself, I never consented to anything. And don’t threaten Ted, he’s worth more than you, and I’d rather marry Ted than someone you chose for me!”
Walburga’s face was a mixture of fury, disbelief and maliciousness. Andromeda seized Ted’s hand, and led him away.
They still heard Walburga’s voice, “If you go now, you are no longer part of this family. I won’t have you besmirch the name of Black any longer.”
Andromeda didn’t deign that worth an answer, and her anger propelled her forwards, as she marched away.
“Andy.” It was only a word, Ted’s voice sounded so gentle and comforting that it brought tears to her eyes.
She waved his concern aside, tired all of a sudden. She had feared it would end that way, but she wasn’t glad about it.
“Ted, please, not now. Just take me away from here.” She felt so incredibly weary now, and she gladly let herself sink against him, and felt the sensation of an apparition take over. His steadying breaths were the last thing she remembered before her world sunk into darkness.
Andromeda sighed. She had woken up here, in this house they would live in together for the next years, for the time of their apprenticeships. Her seven boys. Maggie would stay at Hogwarts, so that made her the only girl, but she wasn’t afraid of that. Ted wouldn’t stay here either, his mother lived nearby and he didn’t want to leave her on her own, as she was an elderly lady. They hadn’t talked to each other since the day he had brought her here. Andromeda had scolded with Julius that he should have known better than to let a Muggleborn near her aunt, but her friend had only answered her that ten hippogriffs wouldn’t have stopped Ted. Andromeda didn’t understand what that meant and Julius had not elaborated, but she only knew it felt strange that she wouldn’t see Ted as often as she used to.