Chapter 11 : Alienation
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It seemed like the whole world wasn’t talking to him. Kate was giving him the silent treatment for being such a terrible boyfriend, Eddie had had a fat go at him about being horrible to Kate and was refusing to talk to him, then Eloise had broken up with Eddie because she thought he was defending Kate because he fancied her, and then Eloise had stopped speaking to Ted because she blamed him for starting the whole thing.
But worst of all was Andromeda. She had kissed him like she had meant it, like she had loved him, and then she had slapped him and run away and called him a Mudblood. She was once again as cold as the snow outside. How could he have been so stupid? She had liked him as a boy, as a friend. But the second he had kissed her like a man; she had run away as fast as her legs would carry her.
He was heartbroken. Ted had spent what felt like days just lying on his bed; he didn’t want to eat, he didn’t want to talk to anyone, and every movement hurt. At one stage he had tried to read the Daily Prophet to relieve his mind, just to see Andromeda and Rabastan’s engagement announced in the news.
He couldn’t tell anybody. What would they say? Nobody knew how he longed for Andromeda; to hold her and kiss her and tell her how wonderful she was. They would tell him that it was impossible, that Andromeda Black would never in a million years love a Mudblood.
The days drifted by and soon Ted found himself packing his very few possessions into his trunk to go home for Christmas. Nobody said goodbye to him, and he went in the carriage to Hogsmeade on his own. He had to share the carriage with a raucous bunch of third years, and he tried to not show how upset he was by just looking out of the window.
He suddenly realized when he heaved his trunk onto the train that he had no one to sit with. Ted knew he couldn’t face Kate, Eddie and Eloise without Kate bursting into tears, Eloise shouting at Kate for stealing her boyfriend and Eddie punching Ted for getting them all into this mess. And he couldn’t exactly waltz up to Andromeda’s carriage and squeeze between her and Lucius Malfoy on the seats, could he?
That was when he saw her. Andromeda had boarded the train, her brown hair piled up in an effortless bun, with strands falling down and covering her eyes. She looked a little pale, but she had overcome this by covering her face with much more make-up than necessary and plastering a fake smile on her face. Rabastan had a gloating grin on his face and one Quidditch player’s arm defensively around her shoulders.
It was Rabastan that caught Ted’s eye first, and he fixed him with such a venomous stare that Ted was surprised he didn’t run. But then he realized something; Rabastan had taken the only person that mattered in Ted’s life, his empty threats and taunts would not affect him any more now he was going to be Andromeda’s husband. Mrs Andromeda Lestrange…
Andromeda could not even meet his eye. He gazed at her, imploring her to flick her dark eyes towards him, and let them tell everything, all the things that Rabastan and her friends were preventing her from saying. But she let Rabastan walk her into the compartment, behind Evan, Rodolphus, Lucius, Narcissa, Bella and, surprisingly, Sally Nott.
“Hey Ted!” came a voice from behind him. Ted turned round to see Jason Michaels jogging towards him, followed by his girlfriend Daisy. Trying to be friendly, Ted gave him a smile, at which Jason said, “I heard what happened with Kate, Eloise and Eddie and we were just wondering if you want to come sit with Daisy and I?”
Relieved that somebody was going to be nice to him, Ted nodded, “thanks so much, mate, I could really do with the company.” Jason helped Ted lift his heavy trunk into the carriage that Daisy had run and picked, and they threw it on the overhead rack.
Shaking his tired arms, Jason fell nonchalantly onto the seat, and his arm lazily hugged Daisy. She snuggled into his shoulder, and rested a hand on his chest. There was a slight blush to her cheeks at being so near him, the person she was with, her boyfriend. As Ted looked at them, he realized he wanted to have nothing more than that with Andromeda, then he could die a happy man.
“So,” began Jason, a concerned smile on his face, “problems with the missus?” Ted could not help but roll his eyes. Everyone seemed to think that him and Kate were practically married, that they could never think of anyone else because they were so perfect for each other. It was like they had been arranged from birth, like Andromeda and Rabastan had always been.
Maybe that was what it was meant to be, Andromeda and Rabastan, written together in the stars, like all of Andromeda’s celestial family. Where would Ted ever fit into her world, being a man of the earth not the heavens?
“She’s not my missus,” said Ted tersely, folding his arms and refusing to meet Jason’s eyes. “Everyone thinks we should be together, that we are perfect together, and would make the cutest, sweetest couple in the world. But she likes me too much, I mean, more than I like her. She’s a friend, a very good friend, but I can’t imagine devoting myself to her. I’m not sure I even like her in that way.”
To his surprise, it was not Jason that answered him, but Daisy, who fixed him with her big green eyes. “Then do the right thing. She sits in our dormitory every night saying how much she loves you and that she can imagine being married to you and having your children. If you don’t even want a relationship with her, let alone all that, then you have to make it clear to her that you don’t want to be her boyfriend. You are just stringing her along otherwise.”
Daisy’s words registered like a punch to the face. It was all true; he liked Kate, she was one of his best friends and was treating her like dirt on his shoe. He needed to do the right thing and break it off when his heart belonged so totally to someone else.
“You need to speak to Kate, right, without a riot taking place?” asked Jason, “I was going to ask you anyway to thank you for your help at the Quidditch match. I was wondering if you wanted to come to my families Christmas Party. All the ministry bigwigs and their families will be there and it can be a good networking opportunity. And Kate will be there, you might be able to sit down and talk properly, away from Eloise and Eddie. What do you say?”
Ted smiled at Jason gratefully, “I’d love too. I might look a bit scruffy in my second hand dress robes, but I’d love to come. You’ll send me all the information won’t you?” Jason nodded and slapped Ted’s shoulder jovially. For the first time in a while, Ted felt his spirits lift.
“Course I will, and no one will care about your dress robes. I have to warn you that some of the guests there aren’t quite so…erm…tolerant as my family are. There will be a lot of blood supremacists there, the Ministry is riddled with them after all. Last year, I had to break up at duel between Daisy here and Narcissa Black after Narcissa’s mother got an idea in her head that I would be a great husband for her!”
Daisy scolded her boyfriend playfully and then kissed him, and Ted’s heart ached at the sight of them. But now it had become even more important; Andromeda would be there, and he could possibly have a chance to talk to her. This may be all he needed to get her to look him in the face and tell him how she really felt about him.
He cheered up at the thought.
“Ted, my lovely!” cried his mother the second he walked through the front door. Helen Tonks was never a pretty woman; but was homely and warm, and Ted loved her. While his father threw Ted’s trunk into the hallway and then made his excuses for his work in the fields, he padded out of the little farmer’s cottage.
Ted’s mother was covered in flour; it was evident that she had been baking a cake for his return. Not caring, Ted wrapped his tiny mother who barely came up to his chin in his arms. It was so nice to just hold someone who wasn’t waiting to snap him in a trap, to turn a moment into a curse.
“You’ve lost weight,” she chuckled, “we will have to get you fed up right away.” Standing on her toes to kiss her son’s forehead, she helped him lift his trunk and lug it up the stairs to his bedroom. After counting to three, they heaved the trunk onto his bed, and Ted collapsed onto his bed with it.
“How was term?” smiled his mum, instantly opening the trunk and beginning to unload his clothes, “how’s your friends, it’s Kate, Eloise and Eddie isn’t it? You planning on seeing any of them over Christmas?” Ted sighed as he laid back further into the pillows.
“My friend Jason has invited me to a Christmas party, but I’m not going to see Kate, Eloise and Eddie. We fell out.” His mother’s face crumpled in concern as she immediately abandoned her folding and came over and sat next to her only son, rubbing his leg affectionately.
“What happened?” she asked, “now I look at you properly, you have big bags under your eyes. You look like you’ve been under lots of stress. Is it this big falling out? Do you think you can make it up? Do you want to tell me about it?”
At his mum’s soothing words, Ted collapsed. His years of keeping his feelings bottled up overcame him, and he started to pinch the bridge of his nose in a vain attempt to stop himself crying. There was no one at Hogwarts who he could tell about his feelings for Andromeda; they would laugh at him or get angry. Helen Tonks was away from that world, and could offer an unbiased view.
“Do you remember me talking about blood statuses?” sniffed Ted, trying to stop the tears. His mother nodded hesitantly, so Ted continued, “some families, the Purebloods, well, only certain Purebloods believe that Muggleborns, namely people like me with non-Magic parents, are not deserving of any magic and should be kept separate from pure wizarding stock.”
The concept of people describing Andromeda as ‘pure wizard stock’ made her sound like the cows Ted’s father sold on the Sunday Farmer’s Market. “Have people been bullying you Ted? Because I’m not afraid to write to the school, however good those wizarding types think they are!”
Ted let out a sad little chuckle, “No, I’m not getting bullied,” he lied, conveniently forgetting the attack, “It’s just, there are these certain pureblood families who think Muggleborns are the scum of the earth and should be eradicated. They marry purebloods, all their friends are purebloods and they couldn’t even talk to someone like me.”
His mother continued to listen, not interrupting, not judging, but just giving him the time to talk, “and in History of Magic Class I got paired up with this girl…” He was already blushing and his mother gave him an understanding smile.
“You little lovestruck boy,” she smiled, teasing him gently, “getting all misty eyed over a girl! What’s her name then?” In the face of his mother, Ted had gone as red as a tomato, but he wanted to talk about it to somebody. Refusing to look her in the eyes, Ted suddenly became fascinated with the fingernails of his right hand.
“Her name is Andromeda,” mumbled Ted, “Andromeda Black.” His mother suddenly became very excited and leaned in, kissing her only son on the forehead. This made Ted blush an even deeper beetroot shade as his mother laughed at him.
“Mum!” cried Ted, suddenly wishing he hadn’t told her at all, “she’s a friend of mine, well was. The thing is, all her family are really big on this pureblood stuff, and she’s got this boyfriend, Rabastan, who is a pureblood and all the girls think is gorgeous. They’re intended for each other.” He couldn’t help it now, silent tears were rolling down his cheeks, the ones that had been dying to escape for weeks.”
“But you said she’s your friend?” questioned his mum, her face melting into a look of concern, “I mean, she doesn’t believe in any of this pureblood rubbish?” Ted still could not bear to look at her, and so began to pick behind his fingernails, trying to break his attention from that searching gaze his mother was giving him.
“No, I mean, yes, I mean I don’t know!” said Ted exasperatedly, “we were getting so close. I mean, I’ve liked her for years but she never knew I existed, and then this project came up and we started spending so much time together, and she said I was the first friend in her life that was her own choosing, that wasn’t a pureblood. And then she found out her boyfriend wasn’t being entirely faithful to her, and she came to me, and we ending up kissing and then this little kid stumbled across us, and she realized what she had done, and she slapped me and called me a Mudblood and then ran away.”
It had all come out so quickly that he needed to take a large gulp of air, before he continued, “And she can’t even look me in the eye now. I don’t know whether to chase her, or forget about her, or tell her about how I feel or just try to be her friend. Her family is around her all the time, just dictating to her what she’s got to do. And she never even says what she thinks or feels, and I just need to know what is going through her head!”
He had collapsed into his mother’s shoulder without even thinking, and she put a supportive arm around him. “I can’t tell you how she feels,” she whispered, “and it sounds as if she is under a lot of pressure from her family. You’ve just got to hold out and let her come to you. If she wants you, she will come. You just keep your chin up, my lovely, go to Jason’s party, have a good time, and forget about her. If she deserves as someone as wonderful as you, she will come.”
Ted couldn’t help but smile at his mum, and he embraced her warmly, “Thanks so much mum. I needed to talk to someone, and you can’t talk to anyone at that school. It’s all about what you look like and who you know, and anything that challenges the whole set up is just brushed under the carpet.”
“I love you Teddy boy,” smiled his mum.
“I love you too, Mum.”
Little bit of a filler after that huge bombshell of a chapter last time, but I wanted to take the time to develop Ted a little more, as I felt this story has got far to Andromeda-centric. This means the length of the story has increased, and I envision it will now be about 17 chapters long. Next time...It's Jason Michaels Party, and Ted has to face both Kate and Andromeda...
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