Chapter 4 : Prince Charming
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Ted hurried through the reception area at St. Mungo’s. He’d received a letter that Andy had been taken here, but the short note in Matt’s messy scrawl didn’t say why.
He’d sent in a note, saying he’d need to go back to England because of an emergency. He didn’t want to imagine what must have happened for Matt to sound so panicked.
“Ted!” He whipped his head around at the sound of Caspar’s voice.
“What happened?” He demanded urgently.
“The only thing we know is that she got a letter, supposedly from Sirius. But it couldn’t have been … I mean the kid was sorted into Gryffindor … he couldn’t have … I mean, he’s far too young!”
“What?” Ted must have sounded harsher than he had intended, because Caspar looked sharply at him.
“There was some … some kind of poison on it, but no one can figure it out. It’s possibly one of those Black spells again …”
“Poison? Why would anyone want to poison her? Ted asked agitatedly. All of a sudden, he stopped dead. “What do you mean, again?” He demanded in a deadly quiet voice, totally uncommon for him.
“Erg, uh, we’re here, why don’t we …” Caspar didn’t bother to finish the sentence, for Ted had already entered.
Ted didn’t pay attention to anyone else. Andy was lying on a narrow hospital bed, still and pale like a porcelain doll. It just wasn’t right; the Andy he knew would be brimming with life, no matter what that family of hers expected from her.
He was by her side in a flash, took her hand and sank down on the bed.
The other occupants of the room exchanged looks, each urging the others on to go talk to their friend. Finally, it was Maggie who approached him, squeezing his shoulders as she said, “Ted, don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll find something …”
“Don’t worry? How can I not worry? She’s unconscious. And what’s this you’re not telling me? Tell me now!”
Matt stepped forward, to take his girlfriend out of the line of fire, and because Caspar and him had always been Ted’s best mates, with the three of them being the Hufflepuffs of the group. Caspar joined him immediately.
“Her sister cursed her. Fabian used a spell he had witnessed some time before that here at the hospital, and she was okay after that. This morning, some strange owl delivered a letter, but she had opened it already because it said Sirius on the envelope.”
Ted narrowed his eyes into thin slits, his complexion had paled at the mention of the curse when he realised which one it must have been. “And why, pray tell, did no one deem it necessary to tell me before now?”
“Fabian was there only seconds afterward, no harm done,” Gideon bravely took the word.
“No harm done? Do you want me to do harm to you? Actually, no, which sister was it? – Wait, she was attacked by a member of her family, and you thought they would just give up?!” Ted concentrated on his anger, instead of the dread that was bubbling too close under the surface, threatening to spill at any moment.
“She was in the house, and we were too …” Immediately, David knew he shouldn’t have said that.
“Oh, you were? Fat load of good it did. Which sister was it? Never mind,” he interrupted himself, turning towards the door. “I’ll just have to go after both of them, but it was probably that she-demon anyway!”
He didn’t get any farther than a few strides, when he felt his movements restricted by several arms; Fabian shoved himself in front of him. “Don’t think we don’t care, because we do. We’ve already beaten ourselves up because we let it happen, but do you think we’d be able to even get near the Blacks?”
“Especially you, Ted,” Julius jumped in. “Bellatrix and Narcissa went to school with us for some years, they know that you’re muggleborn.”
“And Andy would strangle us all when she awakes if we let you go and risk your life like that.” Robert cut in in his sensible voice.
Ted slumped. He had to do something, or he’d go mad.
The arms around him slacked at this, and he was led to one of the many chairs in the room. “We’ll have to be patient, Ted. They’ll find something.”
Ted could only hope so. What if the Healers didn’t find the anti-dote? He had never told her how he felt about her; she had never indicated that she would encourage any more than a friendly relationship.
Ted didn’t know how much time had gone by, he pretty much spent his days in the hospital room while the others popped in whenever possible, only leaving it at night – because none of them were related and could demand to be allowed to spent the night.
Healers jostled in and out, trying all sorts of potions and spells, up to date without success. Healer Bones had uttered the opinion it might yet again be one of the Blacks’ special – and unapproved – little spells.
To Ted, Andy looked like she might be sleeping, and he would find himself hoping she’d wake up, telling him he had been the one asleep and having nightmares.
Currently, it was quiet. Some Healers had just paid them a visit, still none the wiser, and David was asleep in his chair.
Ted moved closer to the bed, just looking at Andy’s face. Slowly, as if by some exterior force, he raised his hand, and gently let his fingers grace the side of her face. Why couldn’t anyone do anything? There had to be a way!
He closed his eyes briefly, feeling a steely determination fill him. With a mental promise to Andromeda to help her no matter what, he turned smartly on his heel and went for the nearest apparition point. He needed his books now.
Ted dragged his hands through his hair, feeling desolate. He should have known that the spell wasn’t in any of the books he had. Robert and Maggie – the two Ravenclaws – had also leafed through books from the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts’ library with Dumbledore’s permission and the occasional help from the others, but no luck yet.
He knew Julius was right when he said it would be asking for trouble going to Grimmauld Place, but what else was there left to do.
With a snap, he closed the latest book he had scourged for an anti-dote, and left his room in his mother’s tiny apartment to apparate.
Ted appeared again, at the exact same spot Julius had given him the first time he’d been here. He strolled through the streets, only now taking some time to try and come up with a plan.
He was almost there, and still no feasible plan of action. He caught sight of a slight figure that had appeared seemingly out of thin air. His hand went for his wand immediately, but he’d been seen as well because whoever it was had their wand out faster. The other seemed to hesitate a little, but lowered their wand and the hood of the travelling cloak. At first, Ted mistook the blond hair for Malfoy’s; he recognised Narcissa Black’s pale face and grey eyes only moments later though.
“Follow me,” she commanded, and headed for the park opposite from their current position, just out of sight of No. 12. Intrigued, he followed, because she had sounded as arrogant as usual, but not malicious.
“Are you going to tell me now, or what?” He asked her after they had circled around the park for some time.
“Not in that tone, Mudblood,” Narcissa admonished.
Ted stopped, scrutinising her from narrowed eyes. “If you’re going to insult me, we can as well leave this. Tell me what you want, or I’m leaving.”
“You won’t. “ Narcissa regarded him haughtily, but she seemed a bit troubled underneath her cool exterior. “How is she?”
Ted understood that she probably was asking how her sister was doing, yet theoretically was not to acknowledge that Andromeda was still alive, not to mention related to her. That was, if he had understood Julius’ explanation correctly.
“Alive,” Ted answered stiffly, taking some time to answer that. But Narcissa did seem worried. “I thought she was disowned, and wasn’t it your sister who attacked her not too long ago? I bet your family was behind this as well!”
“I – I’m not admitting to anything. I don’t sanction what she did, but she and I were close once. I don’t want to see Andromeda dead, even if I can’t call her family anymore with those beliefs.”
Ted thought that was all he was ever going to get from her. “So, why did you take me here?”
“You do realise you’d have signed your own death warrant if you walked into the house of my family? Why?” She asked, sounding genuinely curious now.
“Maybe so. And maybe I’d have found the anti-dote,” he responded calmly.
“You would have done that for her?” Narcissa sounded completely amazed. Apparently, such a notion was completely foreign to her. She shook her head, then told him, “Stay here, I’ll only be a minute.”
She disappeared down the path, leaving Ted behind contemplating the wisdom of trusting a Black.
She was back not too long after and pressed something into his hand. “Here, regard this as my duty to my sister, but from now on, we’re on different sides. As for this little encounter, it never took place.”
Without a goodbye or glance back she was gone again, only the small ‘pop’ signifying someone had been here with him at all.
Ted blinked twice, then took a look at the little flask in his hand. Was this the anti-dote he had come for?
Ted had stormed into St. Mungo’s, claiming he’d brewed it himself. Healer Bones insisted to have it tested, and Ted, although very impatient to have Andy back, was glad Bones did that. The thought hadn’t even occurred to him Narcissa mightn’t have given him the cure, but rather another poison.
After extensive testing, that reduced him to a quivering wreck of nerves, the potion was declared ready for use.
The eight young men plus Maggie and two Healers crowded the room when the potion was administered. Ted held his breath as the flask touched Andy’s lips, and from the intakes of breaths around the room, he assumed his friends were doing the same, although he didn’t dare look away.
They waited with baited breaths. And waited. But nothing happened.
“That’s … unfortunate,” Healer Barnes, Bones collegue, quipped. He cowered and quickly rushed out of the room when he saw the angry faces of the visitors.
Ted hadn’t heard him. He just felt numb; so this hadn’t helped either.
That night, Bones let him stay, but put his foot down when the twins and Julius started to complain.
To him, it still seemed all so surreal. Had they administered it wrong? Narcissa hadn’t given him any instructions – if it had even been a real potion – and he’d just assumed this was how it worked.
He stood from his chair, looking down at the sleeping form. How he wished he could go back to their fourth year, and reacted a little faster. Caspar had beaten him to it, saying he liked Andy and wanted to ask her to Hogsmeade. Of course, Ted hadn’t said anything after Caspar’s announcement, what kind of friend would he have been if he had?
He’d always found some lame excuse after that, to justify it to himself. And now it might be too late.
Ted had unconsciously sat down on the bed, lost in his memories and regret. He lifted his hand, brushing some hairs away from her face. He didn’t see her chest moving with deeper breaths, his eyes firmly fixed on the contours of her face.
He stroked her face gently, unable to resist. A little sigh escaped him, and he leaned forward, until his lips touched hers.
Andromeda slowly came to, feeling stiff as if she had been lying down for too long. She was unwilling to open her eyes; she had dreamed of such a beautiful kiss, she wished she could just go back. It had simply felt right.
As her thoughts gained some clarity, she realised this didn’t feel like the dream anymore, but the kiss still went on. She moaned a little, startling herself as well as the other person.
Her eyes flew open, but it was still dark around her. Someone moved away from her hastily, overturning some chairs in their waste and landing in a heap on the floor.
Andromeda didn’t know where her wand was, she could only pull the covers higher, trying to see anything through the darkness in the room. She didn’t see much, but it didn’t seem like her own bedroom.
“Andy?” Someone asked, in wonder.
“Ted?” She asked tentatively. What day was it, anyway? Shouldn’t he still be in France? What had happened? The last thing she remembered was Sirius’ letter.
“Oh my God!” She heard him exclaim, then she felt his arms around her. She wanted to protest, that she was fine, but found she liked it far too much to make him let go.
“Oh my God, Andy; don’t ever give me such a fright! I thought I lost you!”
“You thought you lost me? Why?” She regretted the question because immediately tensed beside her, but didn’t let go.
“You’ve been poisoned, and nothing worked.” He told her as much as he could; told her what he hadn’t told anyone else – Narcissa and the anti-dote.
“She did?” Andromeda murmured softly, filing the information away for later. “Ted, why did you go back again? Surely you know by now …”
“Yes yes, I know. But what else was there to do? I couldn’t just sit here doing nothing, I had to help you! I can’t lose you!”
Andromeda thought he hadn’t wanted to confess the last part, but it made butterflies appear in her stomach.
“You won’t.” She told him, relaxing in his arms, and soon enough her breathing evened out again.
Ted watched and listened anxiously, watching her every breath. “No I won’t,” he swore, whether to himself or Andy, he didn’t know.
So? Too fast? Unbelievable? Favourite scenes?
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