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Chapter 1 : When Perseus Met Andromeda
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When Perseus Met Andromeda
It was the first day of the summer - the proper summer with actual sun and fluffy white clouds and a blue sky, not what people referred to as summer and was more like late spring - and the fifth years were taking full advantage of the break in the weather, flooding outside after their Transfiguration exam to join the seventh years who were already there. Their hands ached, their heads ached, their necks ached, but they still managed to frolic around in the grass like children.
Ted Tonks slouched outside, his hands in his pockets, accompanied by his three friends. While they chattered aimlessly about their exam, comparing answers and checking facts in a very Ravenclaw-like manner, he scanned the lakeside. He had no need to check answers and facts - he knew he’d done pretty well. Well enough to guarantee he could still take the subject next year. Anything else was simply extra, but that, he supposed was what was important to his friends. Damn over-achievers that they were.
Idly, the group of them made their way down the stone steps outside the great oak doors and they began to wander across the grass, dodging water-throwing third years, a pair of Slytherins talking quietly to each other and waving sedately to some of their year-mates. A little way away from them, sitting in the shade provided by a clump of trees, Arthur Weasley sat with his arm around Molly Prewett. As the group passed, Crispin wolf-whistled, making both Gryffindors blush deeply, although they didn’t move an inch away from each other. Ted grinned and winked at Arthur; he’d known for months that Arthur had fancied Molly, and it had been pretty obvious about the reverse as well. It had always been just a matter of time.
“Always knew they were going to happen,” Doreen, the only girl in their little group, beamed, taking full advantage of her height to glance back at the couple. “They’ve been glancing at each other for years now.”
“How could you tell?” Douglas asked her, seemingly astounded. She, in return, simply gave him a superior look and flipped her hair over her shoulder.
“I’m a girl, that’s how,” she replied. “We always know these things.”
“No, you don’t,” Douglas grinned at her. “I bet you don’t know who Teddy boy’s got his eye on at the moment.”
Doreen gasped; Ted winced. Excellent - just what he needed, his friends discussing his latest crush. So far they’d all been pathetic failures: he’d been turned down politely twice, laughed away once and hexed twice. Each time, he’d laughed it off. Each time, he told himself that this one was different, this one would say yes. It had never happened. His friends had laughed it out with him, telling him consolingly that there was nothing wrong with him, he’d only been aiming too high, was all. If he aimed a little lower, at someone a little more reachable, then he would be sure to conquer.
The only problem was that he wasn’t interested in anyone a little lower, a little less than what he deemed was the ideal. He would smile at girls when he was forced to interact with them, was always polite when he conversed with them (which, with the exception of Doreen, was only in class) but other than that he generally remained mute around females, gazing wistfully after those who caught his attention.
And it was always gazing wistfully from afar.
He was, however, determined not to be jilted once again - he was determined that he would make something happen this time, that somehow it would go right for him.
Shaking himself out of his reverie, he half-listened to Doreen badgering his friends to tell her who his eye had fallen on this time, but they refused to say anything, simply grinning like idiots (which, in all fairness, they occasionally were) and shaking their heads. Each time they remained silent after one of her questions her voice would rise with the next one, getting louder and louder and shriller and shriller, until he could bear it no longer.
They were deeply embroiled in their argument, about whether or not it would be rude for Crispin and Douglas to tell Doreen what she wanted to know, and he was lucky that they were as he slipped away from them, ducking passed a pair of shy fourth year girls and vanishing into the thin line of trees that extended out from the Forbidden Forest.
Once inside, he breathed a light sigh. His friends were brilliant: always there to cheer him up after they lost at Quidditch, or after a Slytherin had jeered at him in the corridors, or after he’d been assigned another detention, or any one of the countless other things that could go wrong in the day-to-day life of a teenage wizard at Hogwarts. But they simply didn’t understand his feelings. He felt so… girly, so pathetic and stupid even thinking it - but it was true. They never understood why he gazed after girls like he did, why he chose the ones he did, and how could they? Douglas, for all his wit, was too shy to ask a girl out and Crispin, although he’d had many girlfriends, had never really liked a girl beyond the ‘oh, she’s hot’ stage. Doreen, well, she was a girl and thus not really privy to such matters.
He knew he was being ambitious - he knew he was being especially ambitious in his latest attempt, but, should he succeed, he had no doubt that it would all be worth it.
A laugh hit his ears: high, clear and piercing. He recognised it immediately and a small, almost dreamy smile crept over his face. Taking care not to tread on anything that might give him away, he moved through the trees, following the sound of the laugh. His heart was hammering in his chest. Perhaps… she might be alone; perhaps he might be able to get her alone, get her away from her friends. Then, he could ask her - use words and syntax to build beautiful, flowery phrases that even she wouldn’t be able to turn down. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, it registered that this was, probably, just a fantasy, just another hopeless dream racing through his mind and his blood and his heart. He ignored the thought and carried on, like a hunter stalking his prey.
Three willow trees grew near a corner of the lake, the furthest from the school and closest to the Forbidden Forest, their branches hanging down into the water. It was common enough knowledge that the Slytherin elite - the purest of the pure, the richest of the rich and the little kings and queens of the school - hung out there in the summer, gossiping and fawning over each other under the dipping, pale green canopy. Occasionally a student from another house would be invited to join them, almost like a summons to court, and they would dutifully attend, being scrutinised all the while by the sharp, cruel eyes of their peers.
And somewhere within that mystical, treacherous court was his latest love.
Creeping slowly forwards, he peered through the branches, his view partially obscured by pale leaves. He didn’t dare raise a hand to move them for fear of being discovered. Although the Slytherin elite weren’t primarily chosen based on their abilities, it was a well known fact that the large majority of them had some basic knowledge of duelling and, naturally, they were unafraid of fighting dirty. Should he be caught spying on them - and in particular on her - he had no doubt that he’d be lucky to get a week in the Hospital Wing for his trouble.
Through the leaves, though, he could see a mess of black curls resting on the grass, curls which he knew would be cascading around her shoulders if she were to stand. He barely noticed the youngest sister - silky blonde hair laid on her cloak to stop the grass getting in it - as he drank in the sight of the eldest.
She looked oddly peaceful as she lay there, framed by the leaves in his vision, the faintest hint of a smile resting on her mouth. Her dark eyes, so dark he could never tell whether they were black or dark grey, were watching something intently, even as she brushed a stray curl off her shoulder and onto the grass, turning her head to whisper something to her sister. Wearing his own small smile, he observed her silently, admiring just how beautiful she looked - how relaxed and at ease she was.
A shout came from the waterside, followed swiftly by a wave of laughter. Figures began to make their way up to the sisters, talking together in strong, confident voices, school robes discarded a long time ago.
He watched as Rodolphus Lestrange - tall, handsome, clever and oh-so-arrogant Rodolphus bloody Lestrange - strutted up towards the two sisters. Narcissa gave him a smile, saying something to him. The boy laughed and, as Ted clenched his fists, sat down, slipping an arm under Bellatrix’s head, lifting her up. For her part, she consented to lean into him, her head on his chest, the occasional stray piece of grass clinging to her hair.
Taking a step back, he swallowed. Well, that was that - nothing he could do to compete with that boy, after all. He was nowhere near as rich, although intelligence was a matter of debate, nowhere near as handsome or as charismatic and four inches shorter. That wasn’t even mentioning the whole issue of blood status. Simply put, he was the peasant looking on the princess. And she’d already got a prince.
“What are you doing here?” a voice, sharp but quiet, asked from behind him.
He jumped at least an inch in the air and spun round to face the speaker.
“Black,” he said weakly, struggling to find an excuse. “I, um, well, wanted to… er, ask you something.” Inside he winced. It was a pathetic excuse and they both knew it.
She raised her eyebrows at him, her arms folded across her chest in a way that made her look every bit as threatening as her older sister. He eyed her nervously, surprised that she hadn’t yet gone for her wand when it was obvious he’d been spying on her sister.
“And what did you want to ask?”
“I, er,” he searched desperately for something he could actually ask her, but came up blank. They were coming towards the end of the exam season, after all - there was no reason for him to want to speak to her. He sighed, “Nothing. Nothing at all. I, um, I should be going.”
Spinning on his heel, he made to move away but something held him there, holding the gaze of this girl, so very like her sister in looks but with an almost opposite personality. Bits were similar, he supposed - they had the same determination, the same force and the same intense stare - but there were only so many of those; the differences seemed almost infinite.
“You were watching Bella, weren’t you?”
It wasn’t really a question, just a simple statement of fact. He didn’t know what to say - ‘yes’ seemed somehow both right and inappropriate - and his silence spoke louder than anything he could have told her.
She gave him a glance that somehow managed to contain pity, amusement and disapproval.
“You should know,” Andromeda spoke slowly, hesitantly. “Bella’s had her eye on him for a while now,” she jerked her head in the direction of the cuddling Slytherin couple. “So it’s nothing to do with you at all.”
He couldn’t tell if that made him feel better or worse; perhaps a combination of the two. Whatever it was, it was an odd feeling that prowled around his stomach, trampling butterflies into the floor.
“Right,” he nodded. “Thanks.”
They remained there a little longer, staring at each other, the sounds of laughter and aimless chatter filtering through the leaves and branches to them. Her gaze was measured, concealed from him, and he took advantage of the pause to study her, noting the curve of her jaw, the deep brown of her eyes and the tight curls of her hair.
“They’ll be wondering where I’ve got to,” Andromeda said, after a long pause, indicating the other Slytherins with a careless wave of her hand.
“My friends,” he nodded jerkily. “They’ll have noticed I’m gone by now.”
She gave him a faint and pushed her way through the branches to join her sisters and friends - although he wasn’t sure whether or not they could really be called ‘friends’ - leaving him standing there alone. In his turn, he walked away, back the way he had come.
It didn’t take him long to find his friends: the three of them were standing where he’d left them, their conversation thankfully having moved on from his love-life and onto Quidditch. More specifically, the Quidditch World Cup. He didn’t follow it, but Crispin followed it religiously, knowing all of the statistics about each individual player, coach and country. At the moment, he was currently exhorting the theory that France were a far superior team to the English National side, both in individual merit and the class of their coach. Ted didn’t care and loitered on the edge of the group, feeling slightly awkward.
“Ted!” Douglas exclaimed, spotting him. “Where were you?”
“Seeing a girl, were you?” Crispin gave him a knowing, proud smirk. “I knew you had it in you. Was she a good kiss or not? When do we get to meet her?”
He rolled his eyes, “There is no girl and you won’t meet her,” he replied easily, although when Crispin mentioned ‘a girl’ his mind darted back to his confrontation with Andromeda rather than his staring love-struck after her sister - her taken sister.
“Just watching, were you?” sometimes, Ted reflected, Crispin was far too clever for his own good. It would get him in trouble one day.
“Do I ever do anything else?” he replied, his tone slightly bitter. “But it wasn’t worth it, at any rate - she’s already got a boyfriend, apparently.”
“Damn, that’s too bad,” Crispin gave him an apologetic shrug. “Sorry, mate. Anyone we can sort out for you?”
“Rodolphus Lestrange?” Ted raised an eyebrow at him.
“What!” Doreen nearly shrieked, catching the attention of everyone in their immediate vicinity. “But he’s dating Bellatrix Black,” she stared at him, shock and faint disgust etched onto her face. “Don’t tell me you fancy Bellatrix Black.” the sheer anger in her voice forced him to take a step backwards.
“And what, exactly, would be wrong with that?”
Doreen, all six foot two of her, went a shade paler and turned around slowly to face the Slytherin. Despite the fact that Doreen was at least six inches taller than Bellatrix it was the latter who was more formidable. Everyone in Hogwarts knew about her - the fights she was involved in and, more often than not, the damage that was done to her opponents were infamous. Not to mention she was one of the three Black sisters and thus almost revered by the pureblood members of the school.
“As if I’m stupid enough to tell you that, Black,” Doreen retorted.
The scene seemed to freeze as everyone held their breath. No one challenged Bellatrix Black like that - at least, no one who wanted to avoid the Hospital Wing. All eyes turned on the shorter girl, waiting to see what she would do.
Ted found himself glancing over the rest of the people gathered around to watch. Crispin, Douglas and himself were obviously there, but they were far outnumbered by the Slytherins. Evan Rosier and Lucius Malfoy stood to one side, accompanied by Hector Zabini and two more boys he only knew as Avery and Nott. Narcissa and Andromeda stood to the other side, the latter closer to her older sister, with Rabastan Lestrange skulking behind them. Directly in front, Bellatrix Black stood facing Doreen, Rodolphus’ arm wrapped firmly around her slender waist.
He looked away from that image, determined not to appear like he did fancy Bellatrix - it was a well-known rumour that the Lestrange brothers both dabbled in the Dark Arts back at home in France, where the laws were far more lenient for purebloods and he was quite sure Rodolphus would have no problem with cursing him for looking at his girlfriend the wrong way.
As he turned his attention off the stand-down, his gaze fell onto Andromeda. She was watching the scene intently, her hands running nervously over one another. Her eyes flickered over to him once and she offered a slight, wry smile. It lasted all of a second before vanishing.
“- a whore like you,” Doreen finished saying.
In a second, Bellatrix’s wand was in her hand and she raised it, the baton spinning seamlessly. Rodolphus’ arm dropped from her waist and he reached for his own wand, as did Evan Rosier - a cousin of the Black sisters’, he thought - but none of them were quite as fast or as furious as Andromeda Black.
Taking a step forwards, she slapped Doreen straight across the face, sending her head snapping over to one side from the force of the blow. The only one who didn’t look shocked was Bellatrix, who wore an expression of utmost pride.
“Don’t you dare talk about my sister like that,” her voice was low, controlled but he could feel the fury radiating from her. “You barely know anything about her and yet you think you have the right to judge her. Say anything more,” for Doreen had opened her mouth, her body tense with anger. “And I’ll let them deal with you,” a thumb indicated the rest of the elite. “And, believe me, you don’t want that.”
Douglas was staring at her with a kind of awed bewilderment as if he’d never seen her before.
“Will you go out with me?” he blurted.
If he was trying to take the attention off Doreen it certainly worked, Ted thought, as Andromeda’s head snapped over to look at him.
There was a laugh from the group: Evan Rosier was shaking his head, an amused expression glittering on his face.
“Are you serious, mudblood?” he questioned incredulously. “You think she’d ever go out with you?”
“Evan, just drop it,” Andromeda gave him a glare and he shut up, although he gave a highly exaggerated eye roll in his cousin’s direction. “No, McLardy, I will not go out with you. Ever.”
Linking arms with Rabastan Lestrange, Andromeda moved off with the rest of the gang following, their wands returning to their pockets.
Beside them, Douglas looked crushed. Ted guessed she’d been the first girl he’d asked out - he probably hadn’t expected to be put down so harshly. He was just lucky one of them hadn’t hexed him for sheer cheek or simply out of annoyance - he hated hospitals.
Crispin clapped him on the shoulder silently. Ted couldn’t do any more than offer a shrug for comfort, far too busy observing just how short the Black sisters’ hemlines were. It should be a crime for girls like that to wear dresses that short, he mused absently. Especially dresses that short with thin straps. They looked so easy to take off. He glanced at the boy next to her - were they just friends? They seemed too close to be just friends, but there wasn’t anything indicating they were anything more.
“She’s really something else,” Douglas commented, watching after the group as well.
“Yeah,” Ted breathed with a faintly wistful smile. “Yeah, she really is.”
“What's there,” Crispin told them both with a wave to indicate Andromeda, “Is a snotty little princess wearing a strategically planned sundress to make guys like us realize we can never touch her, and guys like, uh, Lestrange realize they want to. She, my friends, is what we will spend the rest of our lives not having, Put her in your ‘Spank Bank’ and move on.”
“She’s not a snotty little princess,” Ted told him before he could think straight, earning himself confused looks from all three others.
“And how would you know?” Doreen asked, the red hand-print on her cheek bright in the glare of the sun. It would have been comical if the situation wasn’t so difficult.
“She caught me spying on Bellatrix,” he shrugged, figuring that he could tell the truth for this one. He doubted he’d get laughed at either. “And we had a short conversation - nothing interesting, but she’s not as uptight as her sisters.”
“Are you sure it’s Bellatrix you want?” Crispin asked suddenly, a teasing glint in his eyes. “I mean, she’s hot as hell and all - but Andromeda’s much more your type.”
His answering blush said it all.
“Ooh! Ted and Andromeda sitting in a tree - doesn’t fit. What do her sisters call her again? Merlin, this is hilarious! Are you going to fancy Narcissa tomorrow? It’s a shame there’s only three of them, although I suppose Evan Rosier might be your type as well -”
Ted wondered if Crispin regretted teaching him how to cast a Silencing Charm properly.
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