Chapter 4 : The Art Of Cheating
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“Rabastan wants to talk to you.”
Andromeda turned to see Narcissa entering her dormitory, her hair up in a tight ponytail, showing off the black streak that had become a signature of her appearance.
“Well come in,” Andromeda beckoned, sighing as her sister sat down. “I don’t want to talk to him.”
“Why not?” Narcissa frowned. “He’s upset and I think he really likes you.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Andromeda ignored her. “I have nothing to say to him. Besides, I don’t have time right now anyway. I have to go to detention.”
“Detention?” Narcissa choked. “You? Detention? What could you have possibly done?”
Andromeda couldn’t understand why everyone was so astonished to find out she had detention. She wasn’t this perfect flower child that everyone made her out to be.
“I was late to class,” she grabbed her bag, straightening out her skirt. It wasn’t a complete lie, although this particular detention was for her unclassy expression of drunkenness yesterday that nobody else besides McGonagall had noticed, thankfully. “It’s not that big of a deal. I’m allowed to get in trouble every once in a while you know. It’s healthy.”
“If that’s your definition of healthy,” Narcissa snorted. “Fine, don’t talk to him. He’s sitting downstairs though so you’ll have to face him, unless you have an invisibility cloak stashed away somewhere.”
Andromeda groaned, rushing over to her sister. “Please please please go distract him. I really don’t want to deal with him. He’s been trying all day to talk to me and I’ve been doing so good-”
“Avoiding him?” Narcissa raised her eyebrow, tapping her foot. “You’re a Black, Andromeda. Black’s don’t avoid. Black’s face. Besides, Lucius Malfoy is sitting down there and we just had an argument the other day about, well, he made fun of my hair, and I don’t want to let him provoke me into cursing his bloody eyes into his brain.”
“Pretty ironic considering the ‘Black’s don’t avoid Black’s face’ speech you just gave me,” Andromeda tried to keep a straight face.
Narcissa frowned again, holding up her finger. “That’s completely different. I just don’t want to be tempted to physically assault Malfoy whereas you’re avoiding discussing a serious matter with Rabastan and-”
“Cissy, I think if you want to curse Malfoy’s eyes into his brain, just do it. He has it coming at him eventually.”
“You’re actually encouraging my violent instincts?”
“Look,” Andromeda started walking to the door, “I have to go or else I’ll get another detention for being late to detention. But yes, follow your violent instincts. Just do it without getting caught.”
With that, she left the dorm and headed down the stairs, her robes flying behind her. She smiled to herself as she tried to imagine Narcissa’s reaction. She was…well, her thoughts were interrupted when she entered the common room.
Rabastan was lying on one of the couches, laughing about something with Lucius and Severus. When she walked into the room, he instantly sat up, then stood up, clearing his throat.
“Andromeda,” he said, taking a step towards her. “I-”
“Sorry, Rabastan, I have to get to McGonagall’s,” she avoided his eyes, quickly leaving the common room before he had a chance to say anything else.
Luckily for her, he decided to follow.
“Why are you going to McGonagall’s at this time of night?” he asked from behind her.
“Well I’d like to blame it somewhat on you for letting me drink so late, but-”
“I’m sorry, Andromeda, I really am. What else do you want from me? Do you want me to talk to McGonagall for you and convince her to let you off?”
“No,” she stopped walking, placing her hand on his chest. She was trying not to lose her temper at this point. “Just…leave it alone, please. I don’t want to think about it.”
“I understand you feel awkward about kissing me and waking up next to me but I swear I would never-”
“It’s not just that, Rabastan, just please, let me go. This isn’t the time.”
“Yes, it is,” he muttered angrily, grabbing her arm firmly, reminding her of that night on the Astronomy Tower. Her eyes widened, and he instantly let go, placing his hands on his hips. “Look. Our families have been friends since we’ve been kids. Andromeda, we’ve been friends since we’ve been kids. You can tell me anything.”
She looked at him hard. It was on the tip of her tongue, but she didn’t know if it was a good idea to tell him. He was right; they had been good friends since childhood. For goodness sake, her sister had married his brother. They used to climb trees together and stuff dirt in each other’s mouths. Well, that was before her parents had forced her to act like a lady.
“I…” she began, trailing off indecisively. “I heard what you said at the meeting.”
“What I said?” he frowned, apparently confused.
“Let me see, how much more clearly can I put it? I heard you advocate child murder. Does that ring a bell?” she crossed her arms, raising her head.
His eyes squinted in response before he closed them tiredly, running a hand down his unshaven face. “I can explain,” he started, holding out his hands.
“I don’t want you to explain,” she pulled away. “I heard enough. I guess I can understand you being a Death Eater and all but killing children? It’s really quite revolting.”
“Andromeda, I only said that to gain their trust. I don’t want them doubting me, especially not the Dark Lord. You have to believe me.”
“I don’t know what to believe at this point,” she sighed, shaking her head. “Even the idea of that, I just can’t.”
“You don’t know what it’s like, the pressure, the expectations.”
“That’s your own fault,” she shrugged, taking a step back. “You made the choice to join.”
“Well what would you have me do? Disgrace my family, my own brother who joined? I believe in The Cause, Andromeda, and it’s about time you started showing respect for your kind.”
Her kind? What, were they a different species now? Had they started categorizing humans? He had snapped. She knew it was coming. It was only a matter of time. Rabastan did have a short temper after all.
“I’m sorry,” he said, running a frustrated hand through his hair. “But it’s true. I just need you to know I’m still me.”
“Okay,” she said rather stiffly, looking him in the eye. “I have to go.”
She turned to walk away.
“Andromeda,” he called her name sternly, making her turn back. “Don’t tell anyone what you heard. You weren’t supposed to have heard any of it.”
She nodded and continued on her way down the hall, finally alone. Rabastan was…overbearing. As always, he had a way with his words and definitely had a way of incurring doubt in her. Had he really said those things simply to appease the larger party, or had he lied to appease her? She didn’t know what to believe, but she knew what she wanted to believe. She wanted to believe him, and because her mind couldn’t take much more of this, she decided to.
Rabastan wouldn’t do those things, she told herself, shaking her head. He just wouldn’t.
But it didn’t change the fact that he had referred to Purebloods as a different species. The whole idea of blood status seemed to be getting more and more out of hand. And the more she tried to shove it into one of those drawers in the back of her mind, the more chunks of her brain it seemed to take back with it.
She had reached McGonagall’s class now. She stopped outside the door, taking a few deep breaths and collecting herself before slowly opening the door and making her way into the empty classroom.
She didn’t make it very far, only a few steps in, when she stopped and her mouth fell open, nearly choking. She wished she had choked. Where she had reckoned to see McGonagall sitting at her desk, sat someone else, someone she hadn’t expected to see again so soon.
“You!” she half squeaked, half shouted. “What are you doing here?”
“Me?” came the voice of Ted Tonks, his eyebrows rising in sarcastic surprise. He had a smug look on his face as he gazed down at her condescendingly. “I’m in charge of maintaining detention for the night. You…Andromeda Black, is it?” he asked, holding up a list of what appeared to be names. “You’re five minutes late. Take a seat and get comfortable.”
“How…what…” she began, stuttering as her words filled with ire. “Who do you think you-”
“If you’re going to accuse me of stalking you again you might as well get over yourself. Besides, I have better things to do. Now unless you want another detention, and I do have the authority to give out detention, then sit down.” His tone was firm and serious, making her nearly choke again, on her words.
As tempting as it was to pull out her wand and hex him out of the window, she decided to shut her mouth in regrettable tolerance and take a seat in the back of the class, as far away from him as she could possibly get. She wouldn’t apologize to him now even if You-Know-Who himself tortured the wits out of her.
The door opened once again and in came McGonagall, followed by three other students who sat down near the front of the class.
“Mr. Tonks, what may I ask are you doing sitting at my desk?”
“I was just making an impression, Ma’am,” he cast a charming smile at McGonagall, which she answered with a stern glare.
“Impression made, now please take a seat with the other students before I double your detention.”
Andromeda caught her breath. That provoking gargoyle! He had played her! He completely had her fooled into thinking he was in charge so he could order her around like a blasted puppet. If McGonagall weren’t here she would give him an earful and blow his eardrums out through the side of his head.
He made his way down the classroom, flashing a crooked grin at her before sitting down in the seat beside her. She kept her face stony and apathetic, her intention to ignore him the entire time.
McGonagall collected their wands before leaving a prompt on the board and exiting the class to her office down the hall. The prompt was to write a ten-paged paper on why they were in detention, what they had learned from their mistake, and how they would make sure not to repeat that mistake again. How the hell was Andromeda supposed to write a ten-paged paper on the errors of drunkenness? She could do three, maybe even five, but ten? Ten? Clearly McGonagall was having a bad, bad day.
“So what are you in detention for?” Ted asked her, breaking the silence.
She paused for only a moment before continuing on her paper. How could he be so casual in his approach, especially after he’d just humiliated her in front of…well, in front of herself. But that wasn’t the point. He had nerve. As far as she was concerned, he was a brick wall to her, and that was exactly how she was going to treat him.
“Oh come on, you can’t ignore me forever. You have to admit it was funny. Besides, it’s the least I get to do to get back at you for calling me a Mudblood.”
There went the blissful idea of ignoring him.
“I didn’t call you a Mudblood!” she hissed at him.
He raised his eyebrow at her.
“You basically called me a Mudblood.”
“I never actually said it,” she gritted her teeth.
“You said the ‘M’ part, and we both know you had been about to,” he casually nodded his head at her, making her blood boil.
“I stopped myself.”
“You were thinking it.”
“I’m sorry!” she shouted as the few people in the class turned and looked at her. She lowered her voice, “I’m sorry, okay. I-I don’t know what had gotten into me. I hadn’t meant to…think it.”
“Hey, I get it,” he leaned back in his chair, his hair messy. “You were having a bad day, I was there, and you took it out on me.”
“How many times do you want me to apologize?” she said, frustrated. She was trying hard to keep her voice down.
“Just enough times to let it sink in,” he cockily smiled at her, his dimples drawing her eyes to them. “I’ve never had a Slytherin apologize to me before. I’m trying to savor the moment.”
“Don’t get too used to it,” she remarked cheekily. “What are you here for anyway? McGonagall catch you smoking one of your precious cigarettes on the Astronomy Tower?”
“If anything she would have joined me.” Andromeda tried not to grin at the idea of McGonagall smoking a cigarette. Instead she forced a look of disgust on her face as he continued. “No, I didn’t go to class, and I didn’t have a note excusing me either. I care more about beating Slytherin in the Quidditch match in two weeks than I do about transfiguring a spoon into a sword.”
“You do realize I’m in Slytherin, don’t you?” she faked a smile, flashing her scarf at him.
“You sure as hell don’t act like one. A real Slytherin wouldn’t be having this conversation with me right now. Hell, a real Slytherin wouldn’t want to be seen within ten feet of me,” he leaned in close.
“Are you trying to say I don’t belong in my own house?” she put down her quill, fully facing him.
“Why would you assume that’s what I meant?” he cocked his eyebrow at her.
“Isn’t that what you meant?”
“Is that what you think I meant?”
“Stop talking to me like you’re my shrink!” she snapped at him, heads turning towards them again.
She looked down, embarrassed, before he spoke again after a few moments of silence.
“Speaking of shrinks,” he began, making her instantly regret mentioning that word, “what have you been doing in Miss Faye’s office?”
“What have you been doing in Miss Faye’s office?” she shot back at him, narrowing her eyes.
“She’s been helping me with career options for when I leave Hogwarts,” he shrugged.
“Same,” she replied indifferently, turning back to her paper.
“Liar.” His tone was without doubt.
“Excuse me?” she asked angrily, brushing her hair out of her eyes.
“You’re lying. Is that why you rush out of the room nearly every time I run into you?”
“I don’t care if you don’t believe me,” she tried to keep her face straight, but she could feel it turning red as her temper rose.
“So say if I asked your friends how they felt about you seeing a shrink…”
“You wouldn’t!” she nearly stood up, knocking her pieces of parchment off of the table. She bent over and picked them up before turning back to him. “You wouldn’t.”
“See, you’re lying. Not that I care, I just wanted to make my point. And why would I approach your friends about it? The last thing I need is more Slytherins calling me a Mudblood.”
“I hate you,” she gritted her teeth again. “You don’t even know me and you’re sitting here judging me like you haven’t got any problems.”
“I never said that,” he sat up straight. “I’m not judging you either.”
“Then leave me alone and let me do my work,” she said without looking at him.
He didn’t say anything after that. Instead, he leaned back in his chair and took a wand out of his robes, muttering an incantation similar to what Sirius had muttered the night before. Within seconds, his pages were filled.
“What? How?” Andromeda spat out, completely unladylike. “Am I the only one who doesn’t bring a wand to detention? I’m assuming that’s not yours.”
“It’s only the oldest trick in the book,” he said in an obvious tone. “I’d expect you Slytherins to know all about that. But then again if you’re apologizing for calling me a Mudblood then I’m not really surprised.”
She wanted to smack him across his head with her bag and watch him topple over onto his face, but she decided to roll her eyes instead and ask, “Well, would you mind?” she beckoned at her paper that barely had a half-page of writing on it.
“I thought you hated me.”
“I do. It doesn’t change the fact that you have a wand and I have ten pages of empty parchment.”
“Oh,” he pivoted towards her, a playful look on his face. “And what do I get in return?”
“Hmm, let me think about that…I won’t tell McGonagall, naturally,” she faked a smile at him, the Slytherin in her finally making an appearance. She could get what she wanted by being cunning.
He gave her another crooked grin, apparently thinking the same thing, before pointing at her paper, then pausing.
“Well I need to know why you’re here or it won’t work.”
She groaned, covering her face with her hands. She turned to him, expressionless, and blankly stated, “I came to class late yesterday…drunk.”
His eyes widened before he chuckled. “Whoa there party girl. I get it if you want to let loose every once in a while but in class?”
“It was an accident, and I’m not a party girl,” she said, her jaw tightening. “I don’t have to explain myself to you. Do it.”
Shaking his head, he pointed at her paper. He opened his mouth to mutter the incantation and paused again.
“Is that why you shouted out orgasm in Atticus’s class?”
“Just do it!” she shouted, heads turning for the third time.
He hinted at a smile before muttering the incantation. To Andromeda’s delight, her parchment filled up and she sighed in relief. Now that she didn’t have to spend the next three hours writing a useless paper on something she already felt horribly remorseful for, she had enough time to finish her assignments and get a good night’s sleep.
“Thank you,” she nodded her head, standing up and throwing her bag over her shoulder.
Ted stood up as well, towering over her. She hadn’t realized how tall he was, and it startled her, making her stumble backwards a bit. He noticed, and raised an eyebrow at her again, a habit he seemed to have that annoyed Andromeda more and more each time he did it. She ignored it and headed over to McGonagall’s desk, placing her papers on it before walking to the door.
He followed her out and they started to go in opposite ways, but he turned to her one last time and said loud enough for her to hear, “Try toning it down on the drinking.”
She scoffed at him before turning down the hallway and disappearing around the corner. She hated him.
A/N: Sooooo I'm sorry it took forever to update. I actually ended up dividing this chapter up into three parts because it was so long, so the next few updates should be pretty consistent. Let me know what you think, review review review :))
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