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Kill Your Darlings by LavenderBlue
Chapter 16 : Answers
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6

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Andromeda woke in an icy chill. She had fallen asleep with her back to the bedroom door, her bare feet and arms exposed to brutal cold. At first, her fingers were too stiff to even curl into a fist. Her neck ached from having been propped so unnaturally against the hard wall. Morning sunlight tickled into her vision.

Then the memories rushed back in.


She was racing down the stairs in an instant, though her stiff legs made clumsy work of it. She lost her balance on the second to last step and stumbled into the sitting room, promptly colliding with a floor lamp. She cursed under her breath and hobbled away from the sight of her collision, toward the sofa where she had last seen Ted.

“Steady on, Andromeda!” cried a bright voice. “Can’t have you turning invalid, too.”

Ted and Nelson were staring at her. Ted was propped against a pillow on the sofa. Nelson sat in the ratty armchair across from him. He’d pulled the chair close to Ted’s side, and from the state of his wrinkled clothes, Andromeda guessed that he’d spent some of the night sleeping there.

Nelson offered her a cautious smile to back up his greeting, but Andromeda’s gaze was fixed solely on Ted. He was all right. He just looked awful. His eyes were bloodshot and bleary, his skin unnaturally pale, his hair a complete disaster.

His hair. The silver above his ear was no longer just a streak. His hair, all of it, was completely silver. This wasn’t the silver of old age; it was an unnatural shade that bespoke magic and only magic.

Stop staring, hissed the voice in her mind. His hair could be any color under the sun, and it wouldn’t matter. What matters is that he’s alive.

“You’re alive,” Andromeda said idiotically.

Ted blinked back at her. The strange glaze she had seen in his eyes last night was gone. His irises had returned to their normal brown hue.

“Sorry about the scare,” Nelson piped in. “I thought you knew about Ted’s—um, condition.”

“No,” said Andromeda, voice threadbare. She hadn’t taken her eyes off of Ted. “No, I don’t know anything about it.”

“Hm.” Nelson swallowed and looked from Ted to Andromeda and back to Ted again. “Well, that makes things awkward.”


Andromeda said nothing more. Her mind was still caught in a circular loop around the one thought: Ted is all right.

“Um. OH! Happy Christmas!” Nelson’s face brightened. “Did you see the snow outside? Still hasn’t stopped. At this rate, we’ll all be iced up to our necks. You’ll never be able to get back to your family.”

Andromeda attempted to smile. She was sure that Nelson was trying to make her feel better, however botched the execution.

“Happy Christmas,” she said. “Will you be spending the day with Roisin, then?”

Nelson cast a nervous glance between her and Ted again. “Uh,” he said. “Well, yes, that was the plan. Ted was invited to join, of course, but now—well, he really shouldn’t move.”

“I’m fine,” Ted muttered. “Really.”

“That’s not what Madame Bon Bon said!”

“Madame Bellevue.”

“Bellevue. Whatever.”

“Madame Bellevue?” Andromeda repeated, looking eagerly to Nelson. “What did she say?”

She could feel Ted shift his gaze to her, his eyes burning. She calmly ignored him. If Ted wasn’t going to speak to her, wasn’t going to offer so much as a peep about what had happened last night, then she would pry information out of Nelson instead.

“Ted shouldn’t stir for at least a day after one of his fits. She says it’s very bad for his nervous system. He’s supposed to stay put until all the side effects subside.” Nelson pointed accusatorily at Ted’s head of silver hair. “And that, mate, is a definite side effect that has not subsided. So is the fact that, oh!, you can’t walk.”

“I’ve had worse,” said Ted. “I’m fine, Nelson. You needn’t sit by my bedside like I’m dying of consumption.”

Nelson tsked. “Ungrateful wretch. You scared us shitless last night. I think I’ve a right to play Mother Hen.” He turned back to Andromeda. “Anyway, you and Ted were both invited to join us for Christmas festivities, only Roisin and the others can’t see Ted like this. They don’t know anything about the magic.”

Andromeda nodded. “Of course.”

Slowly, rational thought was leaking back into Andromeda’s mind. She spoke up again.

“You can still go to Roisin’s,” she said. “Why don’t you let me stay here with Ted?”

She felt Ted’s stare on her again, but still Andromeda didn’t meet it. She folded her arms with quiet resolve.

“Really?” Nelson said, hopeful. “That’d be brilliant. Roisin’s already pissed at me for working late the past week. It’d be nice if we could actually, you know, spend Christmas together.”

“Then it’s settled,” said Andromeda. “Please, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s the least I can do to repay you two for putting me up.”

Ted cleared his throat. “Erm, I’m sitting right here. Don’t I get some say in my holiday plans? You’re both talking as though I were glued to this cushion.”

Nelson smirked. “You are. Possibly even literally. Oh, the things I could’ve done while you slumbered….”

He got to his feet and pinched Ted’s cheek. “Do whatever you want, Teddykins. But if you want Andromeda here to play nurse, you’ve got to teach her the rules. Capice?”

Nelson didn’t give his brother a chance to answer. He made for the stairs in long strides. “I’m going to get dapper. You two, sort it out.”

He left Ted and Andromeda alone in thick silence. At last, their eyes met. Ted spoke first.

“I’m sorry that I scared you,” he murmured. “If I did scare you.”

“Of course you scared me,” Andromeda said indignantly. “Merlin, Ted, I thought you were dying.”

She sunk into the armchair that Nelson had vacated. Ted looked so uncomfortable on the sofa. He was far too tall to sleep comfortably here, and his legs peeked out from under the quilt from the shins down, limp and motionless.

“I didn’t want to assume,” said Ted. “I dunno, I thought you might be happy." 

Andromeda balked. “Excuse me?”

Ted shrugged. “You said it would’ve been better if I’d never been born. It’s not like it would’ve been a huge loss to you. But in any event, I’m not dead, so it’s not worth talking about, is it?”

Andromeda stared in disbelief. But why are you surprised? You did tell him that, didn’t you? That he was a mutant, a fluke. That it would be better for him to never have been born. What else would Ted expect from you?

She sputtered out a few incoherent syllables, but Ted was already speaking again, in earnest.

“Really,” he said. “I'm sorry you had to see that. I never wanted you to—it’s nothing, really.”

“It’s nothing?” Andromeda shook her head. “It’s nothing? Ted, you were screaming in agony just a few hours ago. You couldn’t move, couldn’t speak properly. Your hair is the color of a sickle, and you can’t walk. It’s obviously something.”

Ted had begun to look increasingly ill at ease. “It’s nothing I can’t handle.”

“This is what landed you in the hospital wing,” she said. “It’s why you disappeared on Slughorn’s balcony. I asked for an answer once. I want you to actually give me one this time. Tell me what’s wrong.”

Ted shrugged. “Indigestion.”

A vicious glare burned from Andromeda’s eyes, and Ted immediately lost his smile.

“Did it ever occur to you,” he said, “that I don’t want to tell you? That it’s none of your business? You act like you’re entitled to some sort of explanation. You’re not. And you would be the worst person to tell.”

“What do you mean by that?”

Ted scoffed. He looked ready to give a quick rejoinder, but he stopped, considering something. He sighed and, wincing, he leaned forward to grab the edge of his quilt. He offered it to Andromeda.

“I know you like the cold,” he said, “but you're shivering.”

Andromeda shook her head stubbornly and pushed the quilt back into his keeping, just under the crook of his knee.

“Stop trying to change the subject,” she said. “Why would I be the worst person to tell about your—your condition? I thought we could tell each other things. You know, in the south wing tur—“

“Yeah, I know,” Ted broke in, his voice unnaturally harsh. “We could talk there. That doesn’t mean anything had changed for you, that you thought about me any differently. You already think I’m a freak. I know you do. So why would I tell you something that would just confirm all of your accusations? That I’m a mutant, all wrong inside?”

“I didn’t—I mean, I don’t—“

“You do. I’m not blind, Dromeda. I see the way you look at me.”

Andromeda sputtered. “How do I look at you?”

“Like I’m less than human.”

Andromeda remained quiet. She stared hard at the shivering hands in her lap. Less than human. Wasn’t that what she’d been taught to believe her whole life? She’d been so sure of how right she was before. Ted was ruining all of that.

“Though,” Ted went on, “when I put it like that, I suppose there’s nothing to lose by telling you the truth. It’s not like your opinion of me could sink any lower.”

Andromeda wanted to speak. She wanted to tell Ted that he was wrong, that she had changed, and that above all else, she was confused. But Ted seemed so close to giving her an explanation, and she didn’t want him to stop.

He didn’t stop.

“I’m the reason my mum died, you know,” he said softly, his eyes fixed on the dirty living room rug. “It was a complicated pregnancy. I was premature. And when I was I born? My hair was this color. This color, exactly. The doctors didn’t know what to make of it. They thought it was some sort of mutation.” Here, he smirked at Andromeda. “But then, a couple days later, it changed to jet black. And a few days after that, it seemed to settle on blond. Lucky me, eh?”

Andromeda remained silent.

“Of course, Dad had too much to deal with. He was grieving Mum’s death, he was working overtime at the factory to make ends meet, and all the while he had a four-year-old and an infant to take of. Sounds like the plot of a Dickens novel, doesn't it?”

Andromeda had no idea who “Dickens” was, but still she didn’t say a word.

“My gram came to live with us. She raised us, really. Meantime, my changing hair color wasn’t really a priority on the family’s to-do list. We were busy just trying to make rent. It scared me as a kid. I knew I was different from the start. Then the magic started happening when I was seven, eight. The happiest day of my life was when I got the letter from Hogwarts. It was like I suddenly wasn’t so different after all. I finally belonged somewhere.”

And then, thought Andromeda, you met people like me, who called you ‘mutant’ and ‘freak.’

“I just assumed that all witches and wizards dealt with changing hair color, different eye shades. It wasn’t until I arrived that Professor Whitman—you know, our first year DADA prof?—pulled me aside and explained what I was. He said that metamorphmagi were extremely rare, and that I was a particularly strange case. I couldn’t control the changes I went through. Normally, a metamorphmagus can change at will. He thought that I just didn’t rein in the energy soon enough as a kid. I’d never tried to, never known that I could. Perhaps it would be different if I were raised in a magical family. I don't know.”

“It wasn’t until I was at school that things got worse. Whenever I got emotional, I changed. Little things, like strands of hair, an extra freckle or two. Then I started getting symptoms—chest pains, paralysis. It was a pretty brutal second year. By then, Professor Whitman was gone, but Madame Bellevue was really helpful. Dad couldn’t afford to send me to St. Mungo’s, and of course no Muggle doctor could help me. Madame Bellevue understood that. Who knows how long she spent researching my condition. She had a cousin in Germany, a doctor, whose wife had a similar problem. He’d never discovered a purely magical cure, but he’d developed a sort of serum to keep the condition under control.”

The box of syringes. The glowing amber liquid. Andromeda understood now.

Ted shrugged. “At least now I can change at will, if I want. I taught myself how at Hogwarts. But there are other times I can’t control it—flare ups, I guess you’d call them. Like now. It’s no use willing my hair to be blond again. I’m too tired.“

“That night,” whispered Andromeda, “on Slughorn’s balcony?”

“It had something to do with this, yeah.”

“But you knew it was going to hurt. You knew there would be side effects. You were paralyzed afterward, Ted.”

He shrugged. “Madame Bellevue took care of me like she always does. Anyway, I told you it was worth it. So there you have it: confirmation that I am, in fact, a mutant. And yes, it would’ve been better if I’d never been born. Then Dad would’ve had a wife and Nelson would’ve had a mum, and neither of them would have had to put up with a freakish, magical kid like me.”

Andromeda stared at her knees, trying to make sense of things. She shivered, but she still didn’t claim Ted’s quilt.

“This isn’t me wallowing in self-pity,” Ted added. “Seriously. I’m used to it. It’s just the truth. You couldn’t have known when you said that stuff on the balcony, but it struck a nerve. I was afraid for a moment that you were some kind of clairvoyant. You’d seen straight through me.”

“I was just whining about my precious reputation,” whispered Andromeda. “I said all those horrible things to you, and you made yourself practically lame for me.”

“That sounds heroic,” said Ted. “You’re making me sound like a bloody Gryffindor.”

“It was heroic,” Andromeda said, a little more vehemently than she’d intended. “I just want to know how. You didn’t just get an extra freckle, you disappeared. How did you do that?”

“I told you,” Ted said, “I didn’t disappear. I was there with you the whole time.”

“So,” Andromeda said, thinking, “you changed. You changed into something invisible?”

Ted shook his head.

Fine. If he was going to be enigmatic, she would play his guessing game. She was going to win this time.

“Something small, then,” she said. “You changed into something so small that I couldn’t see you anymore. You were there, I just didn’t notice.”

Ted had stopped shaking his head. So she was right.

“An animal?” Andromeda whispered.

Ted nodded.

She swallowed. Then she did something that, a month ago, she would’ve considered outlandish, unthinkable, absolutely impossible. She leaned forward, her eyes never leaving his, and she placed her hand at the hem of Ted’s t-shirt. He started at her touch, surprised, but he didn’t stop her. Slowly, she tugged up the fabric until she saw the beginnings of the black ink tendrils. She raised the shirt higher, past his navel and up to his chest, where the profile of a small bird peaked out from just over his heart. Then her hand jerked away, as though she’d suddenly been burned.

“You’re the linnet,” she said, her voice embarrassingly unstable. “I’ve dreamt about you.”

“You’ve dreamt about me?” Despite everything, a smile was tugging at Ted’s lips.

“I mean,” Andromeda stammered, “I’ve had dreams with you in them. Nightmares, really.”

Ted’s eyes darkened. “Nightmares?”

“They weren’t nightmares because of you. In fact, you were usually the only nice thing about them. At least, the bird was. The linnet? That’s what you have tattooed there, on your heart, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. A linnet.”

“And its feathers were the color of….” Andromeda trailed off, shaking her head. “I don’t know why I didn’t see it earlier. I never would’ve thought that you would have anything to do with my dreams.”

“Fair enough. I wouldn’t think so, either.”

“So, what does that mean?” Andromeda pressed. “Does that make you an animagus, too? I thought it was nearly impossible to become one of those.”

Ted shrugged slightly. “It’s a lot easier for metamorphmagi to do. We’ve already got the—um, inclination, as it were. It was Prof Whitman who first suggested it to me. He thought that learning a new, fresh way to transform myself might help me hone the abilities I already had, just couldn’t control. And he was right. Partly, anyway.”

“But you still get—side effects.”

“Yeah,” said Ted. “I just never know how bad they’re going to be. Sometimes, it gets really bad. Sometimes I’ll have a fit, like last night.”

“Hence the supply of magical injections.”


Andromeda sighed. “Ted, you know how risky that is, don’t you? Transforming on a whim? What could happen to you, what happened last night, was—“ she shook her head “—Merlin, it was horrible.”

“I told you,” said Ted, “sometimes I can control it, sometimes I can’t. Sometimes the side effects are bad, sometimes they’re minimal. So it’s a risk. That doesn’t mean I should live my life in fear, that I shouldn’t take advantage of what I’ve got.”

Andromeda, however, was too busy thinking of something else to pay attention to Ted’s speech.

“You said there were triggers. You said that when you get emotional, things get worse?”

Ted frowned. “Sometimes.”

“So, last night. When you and I….”

How did she finish that? When you and I were quite possibly on the verge of making out? When you and I were turning into a pool of hormonal goo?

Luckily, she didn’t have to finish. Ted understood her meaning. She knew because he’d gone a weird pinkish color in the face, and she was fairly certain that the tint had nothing to do with the fact that he was a metamorphmagus.

“What?” he said. “No. No, of course that wasn’t it. When I stormed out of the house, I transformed. I spent a couple hours flying around the city. When I’m in my animagus form, things are—simpler. It's hard to explain, but I have less worries, less anxiety. I needed to clear my head. I just paid the price a little later. It wasn’t anything you did.”

“Okay, good,” Andromeda mumbled, feeling supremely awkward.

“Good gosh,” snorted Ted. “If I had a fit every time I wanted to—“


Ted sniffed. A blank look crossed his face, as though he’d completely forgotten his train of thought. “Hm?”

“What—what were you going to say?”


Nelson stood at the top of the stairs, beaming. He was wearing a blindingly colorful Christmas sweater, all golds and reds and greens. Andromeda had a feeling that Roisin probably loved the thing. Or had knitted it herself.

Nelson nodded at Ted, then at Andromeda. Then he squinted.

“Did I interrupt something?”

Andromeda shook her head.

Nelson looked between Ted and Andromeda. He squinted again.

“Uh huh,” was all he said. Then, turning to Ted, “My gift to you this year is keeping you alive. You’re welcome.”

Ted snorted.

Nelson turned to Andromeda with the air of an injured party. “Are you listening to this asshole? You witnessed my phenomenal paramedic skills last night. Shouldn’t he be grateful?”

“Yes,” said Andromeda, glancing at Ted. “Yes, he should.”

She couldn’t understand how Ted and Nelson could possibly be making light of the fact that, just a few hours ago, Ted’s life seemed to be hanging in the balance. They were acting like this happened all the time.

Maybe it does. Andromeda wondered who of Ted’s Hogwarts friends knew his secret, who gave him his shots back at school. George Vanderpool, perhaps? If so, no wonder he had been so extra-protective of Ted….

“Right-o,” Nelson said, clomping down the stairs. “So, what’s the situation? You two going to hole up here, or do I need to hire a nanny?”

“We’ll be fine,” Andromeda said firmly. “I’ll be sure he’s taken care of until he can walk again.”

“I’m glad you’re here,” Nelson sighed. “He gets moody after his fits. I don’t like leaving him alone when he’s like this.”

“I’m fine,” Ted muttered. “Give my best to the others, huh?”

“Sure.” Nelson headed to the door, a set of poorly wrapped presents tucked under his arm. “As you were, kiddoes.”

Then he was gone.

Andromeda folded her hands in her lap. Unfolded them. Exhaled. Her eyes flickered up to Ted’s.

“So,” she said.


“Have you had breakfast?”

“Not yet.”

“Well,” said Andromeda, grasping at that vital piece of information. “Um. Um. Well, then I’ll whip something up, shall I?”

She rose to her feet. Ted laughed softly.

“What?” she demanded. “What’s funny?”

Ted shook his head. “Dromeda, have you ever ‘whipped something up’ in your entire life?”

Scarlet heat rose to Andromeda's cheeks. She glared down at him.

“I’m not helpless,” she spat. “I know how to do—things.”

“God, I know you’re not helpless,” Ted said. “I just mean, I wouldn’t think you’re accustomed to slaving away in the kitchen.”

Andromeda crossed her arms. She towed the threadbare living room rug.

“That’s something Vivi does. Our house elf? So no. I’m not exactly—accustomed to cooking. But I’m not stupid.”

“I didn’t say you were stupid,” Ted said placidly. “I’m well aware that you’re, like, ten times starter than I am. But I’m afraid that even if you were a master chef, you wouldn’t have much luck in our kitchen. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re a little low on groceries.”

Andromeda remembered. The single egg. The wedge of cheese that Ted had set aside just for her. Their kitchen really was bare.

“That’s—that’s all right,” she said. “What do you have?”

“Uh. Leftover cake from the party?”

Andromeda waited for Ted to list off other items. He didn’t. She breathed deeply and nodded.

“Very well,” she said. “Then we’ll have leftover cake from the party. And tea. You have tea, don’t you?”

Ted rolled his eyes. “Of course we have tea. We’re not that poor.”

“Right. Just wait here, then, okay?”

Andromeda strode swiftly out of the room and into the kitchen. She spied the plate of fig and chocolate cake, wrapped tightly in a dishtowel. She uncovered it and eyed the remaining slice warily. She took out a knife and carefully sliced a sliver of the cake off. This, she set on one small, chipped china plate. She placed the larger piece on another, mismatched plate. She found the teakettle resting on the stovetop, and she filled it to the top with water from the tap. Then she tugged out her wand and cast a levitating spell on the plates and the teakettle, sending them ahead of her into the sitting room. She eyed their trajectory from the kitchen, then whipped them to a gentle landing on the makeshift coffee table, in front of Ted.

She opened a cabinet. Bare. Then another. This one bare, too. A third. And here she found a small, dented cardboard box marked English Breakfast. She removed two tea bags. Then she scavenged out two mugs and traipsed back into the sitting room with her findings in hand.

“There!” she said triumphantly, setting the mugs down on the coffee table.

She slipped out her wand again and set a heating charm on the teakettle before turning her attention to the plates of cake. To her surprise, Ted had already taken a plate. And it wasn’t the right one.

“What are you doing?” she cried, grabbing the plate away from him.

Ted stared at her, mid-chew. “Ummm.”

She stared disapprovingly down at the half-eaten sliver of cake. She set it in her lap, picked up the plate with the decent slice of cake, and shoved it at Ted.

“This one, you idiot,” she said. “You’re the one who’s sick.”

Ted stared at the cake. Then at Andromeda. “I’m not technically si—“

“Merlin, just shut up and eat the cake!” Andromeda said with surprising ferocity. She winced, her stomach turning. For a moment, she’d sounded just like Bellatrix.

Ted, chastised into submission, said nothing in reply and proceeded to nibble off a piece of the cold, somewhat hard cake in silence.

The teakettle whistled. Andromeda turned her attention to the teacups.

“I don’t suppose you have any cream?” she asked. “Or sugar?”

Ted shook his head. “Sorry.”

Andromeda refrained from making a face. What was the point of taking tea without cream and sugar? She should’ve thought of that before. But it was too late now. The water had boiled and was in need of pouring. She finished the task. Then she set her steaming mug aside. Perhaps Ted wouldn’t notice if she didn’t drink any.

“You don’t have to do this, you know.”

Andromeda glanced up. Ted was looking at her strangely, the same strange way she’d caught him looking at her the past few days.

She shook her head. “I want to. I meant what I said to Nelson: this can be my way of paying you back. For letting me stay.”

“Oh.” The look in Ted’s eyes faded. “Right. So this is your equivalent of paying rent. It’s, what, a business transaction?"

“What? Wha—no!” The plate on her lap wobbled, and Andromeda hastily set it aside on the table. “No, I didn’t mean it like that. I want to do it because you’re hurt and because I—I care that you’re hurt.”

He frowned silently at her. Andromeda felt a tight, desperate feeling winding in her gut. She rambled on.

“And I feel awful. I feel so absolutely guilty about all those things I said to you. The way I treated you. Those things that I said were so messed up, and you’re right: I did think of you as less than human. I was so cruel to you.”

Ted’s frown had only deepened. “So, you’re doing it because you feel…guilty?”

Andromeda gave an irritated groan. “No. I mean, yes, perhaps a little, but I also—“ she shook her head. “I don’t know. I don’t know. Last night, I was so completely useless to you. I couldn’t even give you your medicine. I just fell apart. And you could have died.”

“That’s pure conjecture,” said Ted. “It’s never happened before.”

Andromeda shot him a burning glare. “Dammit, Tonks! You’re impossible.”

She got to her feet, arms crossed, hands shaking. She paced away from the sofa to the fireplace and glared at the dead, black embers.

“Last night,” she whispered, unsure of where her words were leading her. “Last night was—the things I said, they were—“

“Yeah, I know.”

Andromeda whipped around to face Ted. He looked so small from where he sat, propped up on the sofa.

“You—you do?” she stammered.

“You were tired,” said Ted. “We were both exhausted. We weren’t thinking properly. We said stupid things. I know. It’s fine. Just forget it, okay?”

Andromeda opened her mouth. She squeezed her hands into fists. Then she relaxed them. Closed her mouth. Searched for something to say. But she didn’t get the chance.

There was a sharp cracking sound, just feet away from her.

George Vanderpool stood in the middle of the living room, freshly apparated.

He stared at Andromeda, big-eyed. Then he turned around. Ted looked genuinely terrified.

“George,” he  said, “listen, mate, I—“

“No, YOU listen, mate.” George stalked across the room, closing in on Ted. “What the fuckity fuck is this?”

George hurled a folded piece of parchment into Ted’s lap. Then he went right on yelling.

“You know for a fact that you are the only good thing that happens to me all holiday. The only thing that makes things even semi-endurable. And you can’t come tonight because you’re—what was it?—indisposed?”

Ted motioned down the length of his quilt-covered body. “I am indisposed. I had another—“


“Look, sometimes it’s just—“


“So what? It’s my choice!”

“You are so selfish,” George growled. “You are so unbelievably selfish, you know that?”

“I wasn’t planning on having a f—“

“YOU TRANSFORMED,” shouted George. “That’s generally what happens when you transform.”

“Not always.”

“Oh my god.” George put his hands to his face. “Oh my god, I can’t believe you right now.”

Suddenly, George’s back tensed, and he turned back toward Andromeda, flinging out an accusatory finger.

“YOU. You’re behind this, aren’t you? Have you been messing with him? What did you say to him?”

Andromeda stared mutely at George. She had been watching his conversation with Ted so anxiously, so intently, that she couldn’t even comprehend what he was asking her.

“Leave her alone, George,” said Ted. “She has nothing to do with it.”

“Uh, she has something to do with it, clearly,” said George, casting Andromeda a nasty look. “She’s here. With you. In your house. You’re spending your Christmas with her? And you send me a stupid owl saying that you’re indisposed? Since when did I become chopped liver?”

“I don’t understand.” At last, Andromeda found her voice. She drew nearer to the boys, hugging her shoulders to her chest. “What’s this all about?”

George said nothing. He merely glared out the window, tapping his foot.

Ted sighed. “I usually go over to George’s Christmas night,” he said. “Stay at his place for a few days while his relatives are in town. I owled this morning that I couldn’t make it. You know, considering that I'm paralyzed from the waist down.”

“That’s your own damn fault, isn’t it?” said George. “I seriously can’t believe you did this. You promised. You swore a fucking blood oath to me that you wouldn’t.”

“It wasn't a blood oath,” Ted said, rubbing tiredly at his eyes.

“Good as,” said George. “Well, tough luck, sweetcakes. You made me a promise, and now you’re gonna follow through.”

Slowly, Ted lowered his hand from his eyes. He looked at George warily.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means,” said George, “that I am dragging you to my place whether you like it or not."

Author's Note: Oh HI there. Things are getting tense, guys. TENSE. I hope this chapter wasn't too much of a flurry of crazy. Looking back over the chapter now, there are a lot of caps and yelling and feels. Mehhh. In any event, thanks ever so much for reading, and thanks a BUNCH to everyone who has left such lovely reviews this past week. They make me happy and motivated and lots of good things. Until next chapter! 

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