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Chapter 21 : Celebration
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The last days of the Christmas holidays were spent in relative peace. Mr and Mrs Tonks had invited Andromeda warmly into their home, and she was treated as one of the family. Ted had made a makeshift bed on the floor in his room so she could take his bed. Andromeda could not help but think that he was a true gentleman.
In the morning, Andromeda had taken to helping Ted on his milk round, and they would attach the cart to the great packhorse, Izzy, and then ride from the stables in the early hours. As it was cold, Andromeda had taken to snuggling up beside Ted in the seat and resting her head on his shoulder.
Ted’s mother had also taken to getting Andromeda to help with the chores while Ted and his father were out on the fields in the afternoon. Andromeda had found it difficult to get used to doing things without magic, but she suddenly found the simple things in life more rewarding.
“I’m so happy you are here,” said Helen one day as they were churning butter, “it’s clear by the way our Ted looks at you that you make his heart smile.” Andromeda had blushed furiously at that comment, but Helen had just laughed and said, “and I can see it in you too. You just blossom when you are around him.”
At night, Ted had given up his bed for her, so while Andromeda lay in a pile of warm, comfortable blankets, Ted had made a rather uncomfortable mattress on the floor next to her. In the early hours, Andromeda would listen to the winds whistling outside and imagine that every creak in the old farmhouse was Cissy coming to catch her, her father coming to kidnap her or Bella coming to kill her.
But then she would roll over and see the shadowy mass that was Ted on the floor beside her, his chest rising and falling as he breathed. In these moments, she would be overcome by an incredible sense of love for him. Ted had given her something to live for; she did not just exist, but was a human with an intense purpose.
As the first nights of January rolled on, Andromeda would get colder, and she would go to sleep shivering in spite of herself. When waking up one particularly freezing night, she could feel the cold air spread through her insides and chill her to the bone. Turning over, she noticed Ted. His breath was coming quicker, and he was fidgeting, making her realize he was awake.
“Ted,” she hissed, her breath rising in clouds before her, “are you awake?” Ted turned over to face her, his eyes catching the little light coming through the window. He gave her a sleepy smile before whispering, “you okay?”
Suddenly, a tantalizing thought enveloped her mind. It was just her and Ted in this cold little room and nobody would know what they were doing. “Yes, I’m fine,” she said, her insides fuzzy, “I’m cold though.”
Ted sat bolt up right, “do you want me to go and get you some more blankets or something?” Andromeda shook her head, but became firmly resolved to do something she had never tried before. For the first time in her life, she went out of her way to seduce a man.
Raising one eyebrow, she purred in what she hoped was a seductive voice, “no, I just need someone to warm my feet.” Ted looked confusedly at her for a moment, before his face broke into an image of realization. Stepping forward, he hesitated for a moment, hovering where he stood.
Taking one quick look at his feet, he went a bright red before mumbling, “do you mean…?” He gazed up, a fearful expression on his face. For a moment, Andromeda saw what their relationship had done to him. He loved her endlessly, but he knew she could hurt him, so was still unduly hesitant. Nodding, she held out one hand towards him, and he obliged willingly.
As Ted slipped into the bed beside her so easily, and it felt the most natural thing in the world. It was only a single bed, so Andromeda was pushed into Ted’s chest, and his arms enveloped around her. “Dromeda,” he whispered, as he kissed her hair, “does this mean what I think it means?”
“Well we are in bed together!” chuckled Andromeda, but the humour fell from her as she looked into his eyes. It suddenly became abundantly clear to her that Ted had been waiting for this moment for a very long time, but was still apprehensive about what to do next.
Biting his lip gently, he began to stroke her hair, before saying, “Dromeda, is this truly what you want? Because if it’s not I can wait, I promise you.” He was being so tender, but she could tell that most of it came from fear. What if they had come all this way and he was not what she expected?
Andromeda drew him in for a long, lingering kiss and he responded eagerly. After hesitating slightly, she looked him in the eyes and whispered, “it’s you and me now, Ted, and we will take each thing as it comes, together. One thing at a time.”
She kissed him again, and she knew that this time he was just going to let the mood take him. And she was so happy, so incredibly happy, that now she was Ted’s and Ted was hers; so she gave him everything, and for one brief moment they became one.
On the first of September, Ted and Andromeda got up incredibly early in the morning, and loaded Helen Tonks’ car with their luggage, before she drove all the way to London. Ted had been dreading it the night before. For the last few days of the holidays he had lived in this happy bubble world with Andromeda, where it was just the two of them and they were all that mattered.
At school it would be very different. Everyone would know that Andromeda Black had been disowned and had run off with a Muggleborn. The Slytherin’s would laugh at her and look down on her, while Ted was worried she would never really fit in with his friends. It would be as if she was in two worlds, not belonging in either.
Helen bid Andromeda an excitable goodbye at Kings Cross. “Have a lovely term dear, and make sure my Ted isn’t too in love with you!” Ted went a horrible shade of red as Andromeda and Helen both laughed at him. However, Andromeda soon took his hand, pecked him on the cheek and they walked through to the platform together, her hand the only thing keeping him steady.
“It will be fine,” said Ted, not wholly confident, “what can anyone really do?” She was nodding in agreement, but he was unsure if she really meant it. On the train there was a rigid agreement in place where everyone would sit. “The Slytherin Elite”, Andromeda’s old friends, would be somewhere up the front of the train, so Ted wanted to avoid them at all cost.
And yet he did not really want to sit with Kate, Eddie and Eloise. His relationship with Andromeda had cost him their friendship, and he didn’t want to be insensitive to Kate and seemingly flaunt the fact that he was in love and happy. Yet, he also did not like the idea of being the talk of Hogwarts. He was sure he’d be deferring to Andromeda on this, as one of the glamorous and infamous Black sisters she was always the subject of some rumour.
Ted turned round to see Jason and Daisy jogging towards him with smiles on their faces. “God Ted! You’ve caused quite a lot of gossip amongst my father’s friends I can tell you! Running off with a Black sister, the purebloods are in uproar! Cygnus Black may never recover his reputation!” beamed Jason turning next to Andromeda who had gone slightly pale, “good on you Andromeda! I knew you all weren’t all as prejudiced and stuck up as everyone said!”
Ted turned to Andromeda, tensely waiting for what she would say. But he needn’t have worried, as she smiled pleasantly and diplomatically said, “I’ll take that as a compliment Jason, as you were nearly my sister’s fiancé in my crazy mother’s eyes for a while!”
Jason laughed and Daisy piped up, “oh, it was the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard that’s actually real! I can’t believe how brave you were, both of you! Andromeda, tell me, did you really turn Rabastan Lestrange into a squid at your engagement party?” Ted was blushing furiously, but again, Andromeda did all the talking.
“Oh, it was nothing really, I just gave him a mild body binding curse.” There was a mischievous sparkle in Andromeda’s eye as she said it, and Daisy laughed. “Do you have somewhere to sit on the train? As you can imagine, Ted and I won’t be welcome in, erm, some quarters.” Clearly thinking of her sister’s, Ted gave her hand an inconspicuous squeeze as Jason continued.
“Of course, shall we go and have a look?”
Not everyone was quite so accommodating as Jason and Daisy. On their search for a free compartment, they had the misfortune of passing the carriage of the Slytherin Elite. While Andromeda quickly turned her head, Ted could not resist but to have a quick peek in as they walked past. Only Cissy saw him, and shot him a quick, panicked look before turning away. Dashing on, they had huddled in a compartment, hoping nobody would notice.
It had got worse once they disembarked from the train. As Ted helped Andromeda with her case, he got a suspicious look from three Ravenclaw sixth years as they came out of the compartment opposite. And on the platform they were out in the open; the Hufflepuff’s had edged round them, as if they were scared that they would be targeted by the Slytherin’s by association, and one, burly Slytherin fifth year actually spat at Ted’s feet as he passed.
“You okay?” said Ted as he boarded one of the carriages with Andromeda, “I’m kind of getting the feeling that it’s going to be a little tough for the first couple of days.” This was going to be the biggest news at Hogwarts for years. Jason and Daisy tried talking about other things in the carriage, but that could not mask the welling tension.
Abandoning their cases, they went to the castle for the sumptuous feast. Ted normally loved the feast, he was never averse to some brilliant cooking, and he used to love seeing his friends after such a long summer. This year was going to be very different, and his stomach was flip-flopping in spite of itself.
Andromeda rested her head on his shoulder as the carriage rolled towards the castle. “It’s going to be fine, Ted. It will all blow over in a day or too.” Jason and Daisy both nodded in agreement at this, and in that moment, Ted realized he was sitting in a carriage with the people he could truly count as his friends, and suddenly felt a tiny burst of confidence.
As they exited the carriages and walked towards the castle, they were getting more furtive glances and whispers about them, but Ted followed Andromeda’s lead and tried to capture some of that inbred sense of superiority she seemed to possess. She seemed so at ease with appearing unfazed that it slightly rubbed off on Ted.
But it was in the darkness of the corridor leading to the Great Hall that they received their most opposition yet. A group of fourth year Slytherin’s barged past Ted as if he was not even there and there was even a shout of, “oi! Andromeda! I could give you a better ride than that dirty little Mudblood!”
Ted could feel Andromeda tensing at his side, but she kept a tight hold of his hand as they were jostled towards the doors. As the corridor opened into the Hall, more people began to turn around to gaze at the freak show that was Andromeda Black, one of the beautiful and deadly Black sisters, and a nameless Mudblood. Together, Ted realized, they had achieved Hogwarts infamy.
“Ted,” said Andromeda, suddenly panicked, “where do I sit? I can’t sit with you can I?” Ted wasn’t sure. He had never seen anyone from another house sit at the Hufflepuff table, and he thought Andromeda would probably be a controversial first choice.
“I have to sit with the Slytherin’s, don’t I?” asked Andromeda, a little hesitantly. Ted didn’t know what to say to her to make her feel any better, and she nodded firmly. “I’ll be all right, I’ll just make sure I stay out of sight of Bella!” Ted was drawn to laugh, but really he was fearful.
She had unconsciously turned into him, so he gave her a quick peck on the forehead. “Don’t worry, just let me know if it all goes horribly wrong. I’m sure we can do something!” Andromeda gave him her pretty smile and a full kiss on the lips, which made the other students stare, whisper and giggle, before crossing the hall to the Slytherin table.
For Andromeda, the sorting ceremony was awkward. She sat at the other end of the table from her former friends, but she could still feel the icy atmosphere radiating towards her. Sally Nott had the courage to get up and walk past her on the way to the girl’s toilets, but she looked as if she could smell something nasty under her nose the whole way.
Andromeda refused to tarry in the Common Room either, and marched straight up to bed. Due to her propensity to tidiness, she began to unpack her trunk and fold her clothes into neat little piles in her drawers. Unfortunately, she was not left to herself for long.
Sally stalked up the stairs, in her hair a pin that Andromeda knew belonged to Cissy. Laughing bitterly to herself, Andromeda realized it hadn’t taken them long to find her replacement, even if it was a girl whose great-great grandfather was suspected to be a milkman. Even though she had vowed that she wouldn’t care about them any more, it stung to realize that they did not feel the loyalty to her as she had once felt intensely to them.
Sally crossed the room by a path that let her be as far away from Andromeda as possible. She sat down, taking Cissy’s pin out of her hair and putting it at pride of place on her dressing table. It was as if she was making a public statement of her initiation into the Slytherin Elite.
Andromeda did not look at her, but continued to pack in silence. The other girls soon drifted in, and there were no merry greetings as there had once been. It was clear that her dorm mates were just out for the gossip to give to give to their hungry punters in the morning. Nothing was said until all five of them were in their pyjamas and just about to go to sleep.
Just as Andromeda was pulling the curtains round her four-poster bed shut, Sally said something that she had seemingly wanted to say for a very long time. “He’s mine you know, Rabastan, he’s mine. Don’t think that once you get bored of your Mudblood and see him for what he is and go crawling back to your family that you will get Rabastan or your friends back!”
Andromeda was slightly shocked by Sally’s spite, but Sally furiously continued, “I’ve been with Rabastan for ages, almost as long as you two were officially a couple, and now we can actually happen. And your sister’s don’t want you back; Bella said she wants you dead and Lucius said he and Cissy would never let you in their future home. So don’t you dare think you can just swan back in and take it all away from me!” Sally was almost panting from the exertion of her emotions, but Andromeda was not drawn.
So, Sally was on nickname terms with her sisters now was she? Gazing across the room at this stressed, anxious creature, Andromeda realized she was staring back at her old self, Andromeda Black before Ted. “Look Sally, I don’t want my old life back. I love Ted, and people are just going to have to deal with that. You can have the life I was supposed to have if you want, and you are welcome to Rabastan, Bella, Cissy, Lucius and whoever else’s affection you crave because I don’t care. But I will warn you, just this once, before you jump headlong into my old life. You won’t be happy, Sally, and desperately pretending you are as pure as they all claim to be definitely won’t bring you joy.”
Sally sat, staring at her as if she’d gone mad. “I’ll be important! I’ll be popular and I will be famous!” she hiccupped, “and Rabastan will love me more than he ever loved you!” Andromeda had to opening laugh at this statement, while drawing her covers around her.
“That’s not hard, because he never loved me, nor cared for me a jot. And if you don’t want to take my warning, that’s fine because it’s your prerogative. Just don’t come crying back to me when Rabastan’s cheated on you with a sixth woman or Bella’s tried to force you to become a Deatheather.”
The other three Slytherin girls looked back at Sally expecting retaliation, but it was Andromeda who spoke first. “Now, if you don’t mind Sally, I have History of Magic at nine, so I want a good night sleep so I stay awake for it. Good night!” With that Andromeda drew her curtains shut and locked out the ghosts of her old life.
Andromeda would spend every waking moment with Ted. She’d get out of the Slytherin Common Room as quickly as she could every morning, and would go and wait for him in the Great Hall, where she would finally be greeted by him, Jason and Daisy.
They would eat breakfast together, and then always depart for class together. That morning they had History of Magic, so bidding farewell to Daisy, Andromeda, Ted and Jason made there way to the classroom. Andromeda had got used to the stares and whispers, but they still worried her.
On the way to History of Magic, they crossed the courtyard with throngs of other students. Ted had his arm round her shoulders, and she was leaning into him; she always felt so safe with him. For a moment, he looked into her eyes and it was just the two of them, and they were all that mattered.
“Hey guys, watch out,” whispered Jason, jerking his head across the courtyard. “Your best friends are over there.” Andromeda turned her head, and her stomach sunk. Her old friends sat in a conspiratorial coterie, their eyes following them like predators watching their prey. They sat under an arch; a flowerbed full of frozen mud and dying flowers above their heads. It was like something out of a medieval manuscript.
Bella was leaning against the pillar, her dark eyes almost consuming Andromeda. She was accompanied by Rodolphus, who was standing in front of her, whispering in her ear like a medieval assassin. Mirroring them, Lucius and Narcissa were holding hands, their eyes connected in reflected anxiety. Evan was twirling his wand in his fingers, a malicious smile on his face; it was almost as if he was toying with the idea of hexing Ted. Most amusingly, Rabastan had gone a brilliant red; he was both angry and humiliated over Andromeda’s public jilting and she could not help but smile at the sight of him.
But it was Sally that inhabited the most aggressive stance. She stood face on, her arms angrily folded, but she kept looking back at Rabastan as if searching for advice. Then, in a split second, her jealousy and insecurity bubbled to the surface and she bellowed across the courtyard. “Everyone knows you’re just a slutty blood traitor giving favours to a dirty Mudblood! Nobody wants to know you!”
Ted tried to drag her away, but Andromeda stood bolt still. “No Ted,” she whispered, “I’m not going to let them trammel all over us all the time! We have to tell them to stop.” She turned round, and as one her ex-friends stood up, creating an intimidating wall of defiance.
“You have a seriously questionable taste in men,” laughed Sally insecurely, her fingers digging into Rabastan’s shoulders, “and everybody thinks you’ve abandoned your family and your principles for a cheap ride.” She felt Ted bristle beside her, but tried not to be riled herself.
Vainly running one hand through his hair, Rabastan gave her a horrible smirk, “you’ve lost everything Andromeda, and for what? You’ve traded this,” he gestured across his whole body, “for that.” Rabastan pointed derisively at Ted, and began to laugh, and the whole group began to giggle like a pack of hyenas.
Andromeda looked furiously at them, but she didn’t want to be drawn to hexing them at school. Evan even spat at Ted, but it missed, and all Andromeda could do was squeeze Ted’s hand supportively. What happened next made Andromeda jump, but it was possibly the best thing she had ever seen.
Ted lifted his wand and a shot of light flew across the courtyard, crashing into the rotting flowerbed above their heads. In a second, it cracked and toppled, sending dead flowers and mud pouring over their heads. Andromeda could only hoot with laughter with the rest of the students as Cissy shrieked about her hair.
Bella had fallen over and was trying to pull tangled weeds from her curls, while Evan was rubbing mud from her eyes. Sally Nott had burst into noisy tears, while Lucius was on the floor, looking dazed, as a chip of ceramic had hit him on the head. In a show of brotherly solidarity, Rodolphus was whacking Rabastan on the back, who was trying to cough up lumps of compost he had accidently swallowed.
Andromeda turned to Ted who was smiling jovially. “Rabastan,” said Ted mockingly, “just get over yourself. You are not God’s gift to womankind. Come on Andromeda, let’s go.” He planted a kiss on Andromeda’s cheek as the surrounding students burst into cheers as they began to walk to History of Magic.
Only having time to shoot one look over her shoulder, and she couldn’t help but laugh at the people of her old life who she and Ted had made a mockery of together. Smiling to herself, she watched as their influence over her died forever in their public humiliation.
By taking Ted’s hand and walking away, she realised for the first time that her new life was just beginning, and she had years and years of hopes, happiness, tears and laughter to come.
And the best thing of all, she would be spending them all with Ted.
A/N: I am so sorry for this sorry excuse of a chapter that has taken so long. I struggled ridiculously with it, and real life has taken over! In this chapter I really wanted to show some of Ted and Andromeda's life together at Hogwarts, but I don't know how well I've done. Please let me know in a lovely review!
I can't believe there is only one chapter left, I've loved writing this story so much! I really hope you come back for the last chapter, as I promise it's going to be great! I'm not sure how much longer it's going to be, but I'll try not to take forever! Next time... I'm not going to tell you, you'll just have to come back and read!
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