Chapter 24 : Blood Bond
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Andromeda sat just within the doors of the hospital wing, facing Madame Bellevue and Madame Finely. Both women were stooped intently over her, Madame Bellevue furiously scribbling onto a roll of parchment and Madame Finley arranging three tall glass vials on a nearby table.
A few paces over, Ted lay in bed, asleep. Madame Bellevue had, she explained, given him a sedative once she’d assessed all of his vitals.
Currently, Andromeda appeared to be the sole object of the healers' attention, for reasons completely unknown to her.
“What are these for?” she asked. “Why do you need so much blood?”
“You're not required to give it,” Madame Finley said stiffly, tugging out her wand from her dress pocket. “No one’s forcing you. But given what both you and Madame Bellevue have told me about today’s events, I believe that these blood tests will help to either confirm or dispel some theories.”
“What theories?” Andromeda pressed. “There can’t be any logical explanation for why Ted got better. It was just a coincidence that he healed while I was here with him.”
Madame Finley sighed testily. “Are you going to comply or not?”
Andromeda peeled back the sleeve of her silk shirt. She looked up at Madame Finley expectantly.
“Do what you need to do,” she said.
The healer nodded, raised her wand, and perfectly articulated the incantation “Sangrio.”
With a circular flourish, she aimed the tip of her wand at the underside of Andromeda’s arm, just below her elbow. Andromeda felt a sharp bite in her skin. Then she watched as the wand siphoned out a thin stream of blood from her veins. The stream swirled through the air in a figure eight pattern before funneling perfectly into the first glass vial. Madame Finley repeated the process two more times, and Madame Bellevue made careful notes on her parchment throughout the process.
“There,” said Madame Finley, pocketing her wand and motioning for Madame Bellevue to step in and wrap Andromeda’s arm in a single band of gauze. “Simple as that. You’re free to leave now, dear. It’s high time I turned my full attention to the patient.”
Andromeda didn’t move. She felt more than a little faint, but she was too proud to admit to Madame Finley that her vision was filling with small black spots.
“You still haven’t told me what this is for,” Andromeda said.
“We won’t know if it’s of any worth until tomorrow morning at least,” said Madame Finley. “Until then, you’re free to go about your usual business. I’m sure Madame Bellevue here will inform you when you’re of use again. And you can tell Mr. Vanderpool that he’s free to leave as well. He’s told me all that I needed to hear.”
“I’m sure,” said Andromeda, “that he’ll want to stay here with Ted.”
“That’s an impossibility,” said Madame Finley. “Ted is not to have any disturbances whatsoever for the next twelve hours. You two are of better use away from here.”
“But what if—“
“Miss Black,” said Madame Bellevue, placing a hand on her shoulder, “if anything goes wrong, we will let you know. Now please, leave us. Madame Finley has important work to perform, and if you do value Mr. Tonks’ wellbeing, you’ll let her alone to perform it.”
Andromeda could not argue with that phrasing. With an unappreciative glare in Madame Bellevue’s direction, she begrudgingly did as she was told. She found George pacing outside the infirmary doors.
“They’ve shooed us away,” she informed him, “until further notice.”
The anxious lines in George’s face tightened. “What’s that mean?”
“Madame Finley says they won’t have any results until the morning.”
“She’s a specialist, dammit,” said George. “She’s supposed to work instantaneous miracles, isn’t she?”
“Well, if you’re the one hefting out the galleons for this,” said George, “you should demand faster results.”
“Unlike you,” said Andromeda, “I don’t have completely unrealistic expectations. It’s only if Madame Finley doesn’t have satisfcatory answers by the morning that I’ll start to gripe. She drew far more blood than anyone ought to be allowed to draw, and there'd better be a good reason for it."
As a direct testament to her words, Andromeda’s vision suddenly splotched, and she misstepped. George jolted toward her, offering a balancing hand.
“Whoa. Steady on.”
“I’m fine,” said Andromeda, though she took his hand. “Just a bit lightheaded.”
George nodded, but he didn’t let go. “Should you sit down?”
“I’m fine,” she repeated, but a matter of seconds later, she sunk down onto the bench. “Oh god, however am I going to explain all of this to Cissa and Lilith?”
Warily, George took a seat beside her. “Yeah, I imagine my showing up at the common room didn’t help.”
“It’s difficult to explain away a wayward Hufflepuff,” Andromeda agreed. “I never told Lilith anything about you or Ted. Not even about running away. But Cissa will suspect—oh, who even knows what she’ll suspect. And she knows when I’m lying. She’ll see straight through any stupid excuse I give.”
“Sorry,” said George, “but is there something wrong with telling her the truth?”
Andromeda regarded George as she would a complete imbecile. “Oh! That I threw myself in the bed of an unconscious Muggleborn? Nothing wrong with that. She already suspects that some odd business passed between me and Ted. I told her that he fancies me.”
“Uh huh.” George smirked. “That he fancies you. Sure.”
Andromeda socked a well-aimed punch into George’s shoulder. He smirked wider, unaffected.
“But I did tell her about Ted's condition, so I could always—“
“Wait, what? You told her? Merlin, Andromeda! Ted doesn’t tell anyone about the ‘m’ word, and you go blabbing to your badly-named sister?”
“Narcissa is a perfectly regal name!” Andromeda said. “I did not go blabbing, and Cissa won’t either. She’s trustworthy, and anyway, the disease of some no-name Muggleborn is hardly noteworthy. Who would she tell about it?”
“You still shouldn’t have blabbed,” George muttered.
“Too late now,” said Andromeda. “Anyway, I’m still trying to sort out how to craft a decent excuse.”
“Hmm. And I couldn’t care less,” said George. “So if you’re not going to faint dead anymore, I’ll be on my way.”
“A perfect gentleman.”
“I try to give satisfaction.” George made a mock bow. “I suppose we’ll be crossing paths again tomorrow morning. Until then, have fun making up lies. Sounds like exhausting work. Wouldn’t it be much easier to admit that you’ve got the hots for a Muggleborn?”
It was dinnertime in the Great Hall, and Andromeda decided to take her chances by walking straight to her customary place at the Slytherin table. She could only hope that Narcissa wouldn’t bring up her mysterious disappearance earlier in the afternoon. Surely she wouldn’t. Not in front of Lilith, and especially not in front of Lucius or Rabastan.
“Hello, dears,” Andromeda said, sliding in beside Narcissa and promptly filling her chalice with pumpkin juice. “Sorry I’m a bit late.”
Even as she set about filling her plate, she cast cautious looks around the table, trying to gauge if there was any suspicion at large. No one, however, seemed to be that ruffled by her tardy arrival.
“So glad you could join us,” Narcissa said softly.
Andromeda tensed and smiled anxiously over at her little sister. She owed an explanation for earlier, and she only hoped that Narcissa wasn’t thinking awful thoughts about her in the meantime.
“Studying late again?” asked Rabastan. “Really, darling, there is such a thing a studying too hard.”
Andromeda smiled tightly at Rabastan. “I’m not sure you’re the best authority on that topic.”
Lucius snorted and took a stab at his roast beef. “Nasty weather coming in tonight,” he said, nodding toward the window.
Snow and sleet were pelting against the stained glass windows, and wind juddered along the walls, pushing through crevices and filling the Great Hall with an unshakeable draft. Overhead, the hovering dining candles took turns flickering.
“Doesn’t bode well for Hogsmeade,” Lucius went on, reaching across the table to take Narcissa’s hand. “But we won’t let that spoil our anniversary.”
Narcissa gazed lovingly back. “Nothing could spoil that.”
“Get a room,” Lilith said, reaching across the table to steal a bowl full of cream puffs.
“Hogsmeade isn’t for three full days,” Andromeda said helpfully. “I’m sure the weather will have cleared by then, you two.”
“Not according to Yaxley,” said Lucius. “He foresees the worst winter storm yet blowing in. And Yaxley’s never wrong about the weather.”
“Oh honestly,” laughed Lilith. “You can’t really believe that boy is a psychic.”
“He has the gift,” Lucius said stiffly.
“Divination is utter rot as a class, of course,” Rabastan said. “It isn’t a thing that can be taught. But there are certain privileged lines that give rise to talents like Yaxley’s, and that’s nothing to laugh about.”
Lilith went right on chortling. “Right, boys. Well, the next time Achilles Yaxley can predict my entire wardrobe for the coming week, I will be a true believer. Until then, forgive me if I’m a wee bit skeptical that there’s an All-Seeing Eye in our midst.”
Andromeda found that she’d been staring too long at Rabastan and Lucius. Quickly, she returned her attention to her food.
Achilles Yaxley. He’s probably part of their little club, too. It would make sense, given how protective they both are of him.
“Everything all right, Andromeda?” Rabastan asked in a lazy drawl. He smirked at her over the rim of his chalice.
I doubt that divination is Yaxley’s only unorthodox talent…
“Actually,” said Lilith, jabbing her fork in Rabastan’s direction, “she’s been having the worst insomnia. As a concerned fiancé, I thought you would know.”
Lilith didn’t even try to suppress the acid in her tone. Even though she may not have been on the best terms with Andromeda, she was even less friendly with Rabastan.
“Someone needs to treat him like shit for what he did to you,” she’d said weeks ago. “And if you won’t, then I will.”
“Is that true, Andromeda?” Lucius cut in. “Has the insomnia returned? You know that I can whip up some more of the sleeping draught if you need—“
“No! No, that’s not it.” Andromeda shot Lilith a dirty look. “Lili is overdramatizing. It’s only because I’ve forgotten to take the potion a few times. Otherwise, it works very well.”
“The real worry,” said Narcissa, “is why she keeps having such consistent nightmares in the first place. I keep telling her that she ought to get checked out, but she refuses—“
“Fine then!” Andromeda said. She suddenly saw her chance, and she grabbed it. “I’ll go to the hospital wing first thing tomorrow morning. How’s that? I’ll have Madame Bellevue cast some diagnostic spells, just to prove to you that nothing is wrong and that I’m most certainly not under a curse.”
“Well, it doesn’t hurt to be safe, darling,” said Rabastan, aiming a lurid wink in her direction. “A curse could be serious. You know how dangerous the dark arts can be.”
“Where were you, really?”
Andromeda opened her eyes. It had been minutes since the girls turned out the lights of their dormitory. Lilith was still in the common room, flirting with her most recent obsession. Narcissa had said nothing about the earlier events of the day, and Andromeda had thought that perhaps she meant to drop it altogether.
But now, Narcissa had tugged back the sheer drapes of Andromeda’s four-poster. She sat on the edge of the bed, perched delicately, hands folded in her lap. Andromeda rubbed at her eyes and sat up against he headboard.
“It’s nothing to worry about,” she whispered.
Narcissa’s lips tightened into a purse. “Andie, don’t keep things from me. What was this afternoon about? I know who that Hufflepuff boy must’ve been. He was one of those two Muggleborns from Christmas break, wasn’t he?”
Slowly, Andromeda nodded. “But I promise, it’s nothing.”
“It most certainly is something if the boy is bothering one of our own prefects,” Narcissa said. “Things like that can get out, Andie dear. Now please, tell me what is going on.”
Andromeda told the truth. There was nothing more that she really could do. It pained her to keep things from Narcissa, and she honestly wanted to be able to tell someone about the day’s stressful events. Anyway, none of it really implicated her, and she conveniently left out bits like whispering into Ted’s ear or sobbing at the sight of him in the hospital wing.
“It’s the Tonks boy,” she said. “He’s sick again, and they thought I could help him. For some reason, he—he gets better when I’m around.”
Narcissa frowned. “He gets better when you’re around?”
“I can’t explain it,” said Andromeda, shrugging helplessly. “But I couldn’t very well refuse, could I? He was in serious condition, and it would’ve been cruel of me not to help.”
Narcissa, however, did not look so convinced. “He didn’t need you. He had all the medical attention he needed, I’m sure. It isn’t like you’re a healer. And anyway, you must consider the implications of visiting a boy like that. Andie, think.”
Andromeda’s face flushed. “I am perfectly capable of rational thought, thanks very much. I was just concerned.”
“But why?” Narcissa pressed. “I thought those boys didn’t mean anything to you. You said that you just used them for a place to stay.”
“And that’s all they were to me,” Andromeda said. “But they were kind to me, and you’re supposed to repay a kindness.”
“They’re Mudbloods. We don’t owe them any sort of kindness! You aren’t in their debt. And if you continue to associate with them, then—well, there is a word for that. I don’t want that word to ever be tied to your name.”
Andromeda knew the word very well: Blood Traitor.
“Don’t be so absolutely ridiculous, Cissa!” she cried, forcing out an airy laugh.
“It isn’t ridiculous. You said you were concerned about a Mudblood. That isn’t like you, Andromeda.”
Andromeda stared at her knuckles, trying to think of a good response. She’d misspoken. Why had she said that she was concerned?
Because you were. You were scared to death that you would lose him.
Narcissa spoke up again. “You said that one of those boys fancied you. You don’t—“ she swallowed, making an effort to produce words as though the act alone was distasteful “—you don’t reciprocate those feelings in any way, do you?”
“That,” said Andromeda, “is the most absurd speculation I've ever heard."
“And tomorrow morning, you’re going to see about your nightmares, aren’t you? It has nothing to do with this Tonks fellow?”
Andromeda closed her eyes. She’d wanted so badly to speak in half-truths, not in lies. But it couldn’t be helped.
“No. It has nothing to do with him.”
A visit to the hospital wing was just the sort of excuse that Andromeda needed to be allowed an absence from her morning classes. She asked one of her most trusted classmates, a sharp Ravenclaw girl by the name of Vivian, to copy notes for her; Andromeda had done the favor for Vivian plenty of times before.
As far as Lilith and her other classmates knew, Andromeda was going to the infirmary to see about her nightmares. Only Narcissa suspected a different reason for the visit. Andromeda swept that uneasy thought from her mind as she rounded the corridor corner and arrived at the open doors of the hospital wing.
George was standing just inside, speaking to Madame Bellevue. Andromeda hurried up to join them.
“How is he?” she asked, even as her eyes scanned around the room.
She saw no patients in the visible beds. At the far end of the room, however, there was a stretched, sheer curtain; Andromeda suspected that she could find both Ted and Madame Finley behind it.
“His condition hasn’t changed,” said Madame Bellevue. “He's well and stable, but Madame Finely has advised that we not move him for another day. He’s currently undergoing an experimental treatment.”
“What kind of treatment?” Andromeda demanded. “Are there risks? Has she even tried it on other patients before?”
Madame Bellevue ignored Andromeda entirely and addressed her words to George instead. “Madame Finely will be out in just a moment to address any concerns. She especially wishes to speak to Miss Black. Now, if the two of you will take a seat, I have my own patient to attend to.”
Andromeda just now noticed the sniffling first year that stood right behind Madame Bellevue. An unsightly, giant green wart protruded from the girl’s left cheek. Andromeda smiled sympathetically at the girl. The girl proceeded to burst into tears.
“Good job, Black,” said George, motioning her over to a pair of rickety chairs. “Making little children cry.”
“I didn’t mean to,” Andromeda said, glancing back with contrition only to see Madame Bellevue shooting her a hateful glare.
So much for actually asking the woman about her nightmares.... Andromeda had a feeling that the healer wasn't in the mood to do her any favors.
George flung himself into his chair and began drumming his fingers impatiently along the edges. Dark circles rimmed his eyes, and Andromeda guessed that he, like her, hadn’t slept well the night before.
They waited in an uncomfortable silence of a half hour before a click-clacking finally sounded at the end of the room. Madame Finley appeared from behind the screen and approached them wearing a placid, businesslike expression.
“Good morning,” she greeted them.
George nodded. Andromeda straightened her posture.
“I trust,” said Madame Finely, “that you were informed of Mr. Tonks’ stable condition. Throughout the course of the evening, I was able to run several diagnostic tests on him. They confirmed my suspicions: while Ted is a certifiable metamorphmagus, he has little control over his abilities due to insufficient training at a young age.”
“Bravo, Sherlock,” said George. “I could’ve told you all that.”
Madame Finley ignored George’s snark and went on. “Madame Bellevue tells me that she personally advised Ted to pursue animagus status in order to better control his metamorphing. He submitted his name to the animagi register last year. This is quite a feat, attaining animagus status at sixteen. It takes incredible strength of will to do so. However, I’m afraid that it had quite the opposite effect than the one Madame Bellevue intended. If she’d only consulted a metamorphing specialist like myself, I could’ve told her that the energy Ted expended on his animagus activities would only exacerbate the less desirable side effects of his uncontrollable metamorphing.”
“You’re using a lot of words,” said George, “but I’m still waiting for the good stuff. When are you going to tell us what’s actually wrong with him?”
“Ted’s condition is deteriorating at an alarmingly rapid rate,” said Madame Finley. “These so-called ‘side effects’ of his are no longer tied directly to the act of transforming. They have, I understand, begun to strike him at random. Moreover, he is no longer responding to his usual medicine—which, I might add, was a good move on Madame Bellevue’s part. Such medicine is the best our field currently has to offer for rare conditions like Ted’s.”
“So, what?” whispered Andromeda. “He’s only going to get worse? There’s nothing you can do to help him?”
Madame Finley raised a brow. “Actually, there is something that you can do to help him, according to last night’s tests.”
“This has to do with my blood,” Andromeda guessed.
“Have you heard, Miss Black, of a phenomenon known as a blood bond?”
Andromeda shook her head.
“I’m not surprised,” replied Madame Finley. “It’s extremely rare. It’s a natural phenomenon that occurs only amongst magicfolk. To put it simply, it’s a deep tie between two individuals. This tie manifests itself in different ways. Some report a sort of telepathic connection, others a shared dream state. But invariably, the tie serves a profound medical purpose: the blood of these tied individuals can act as a healing agent, each to the other.”
“Uh,” said George. “Hold up. You lost me at ‘telepathic.’”
Andromeda had the sudden feeling of weightlessness. “You mean to tell me,” she said, “that you think Ted and I share this—this tie? That we’re linked somehow?”
“A commonly used analogy,” said Madame Finley, “is that of wand cores. You know, of course, that certain wands made of the same core share a special bond? In the same way, certain witches and wizards physically share a common magical core. Even the top research healers have no way of explaining it, but it’s a condition as old as Merlin himself. Through the years, it has been known by many names. Nowadays, the most colloquial term for it is—“
“Blood bond,” Andromeda finished.
“Whaaa,” said George, staring at Andromeda with bug-eyes. “But how is that even possible? Andromeda is, like, the most pureblooded that a witch can possibly get. No one’s got a pedigree as fucking perfect as hers. Ted’s ancestors are nothing but Muggles.”
“It has nothing to do with bloodlines,” said Madame Finley. “It’s something much deeper, more personal than that. It’s found in the very core of a person that makes them magical. That core manifest itself in the blood and, consequently, the entirety of the body. So, Miss Black, when you embraced Ted during one of his fits, your nearness allowed for a restoration of sorts to take place.”
“Then you mean,” said Andromeda slowly, “that my blood acts as a cure-all medicine for Ted?”
“And vice versa,” Madame Finley said, nodding. “Any ailment that you suffered could be eased by his presence."
“Oh. My. God.” George shook his head. “This is too fucking bizarre. I’m trying to wrap my brain around it and it’s, like, imploding from the effort.”
Madame Finley heaved a long sigh, the first sign of irritability she’d shown the entire conversation.
“If you’re struggling, Mr. Vanderpool,” she said, “then Miss Black and I will discuss the finer points of this elsewhere.”
She motioned for Andromeda to get to her feet and follow her. Andromeda did so, her motions strangely fluid and dreamlike. She was trying so hard to make sense of everything Madame Finley had told her. She was trying and failing.
“This isn’t possible, though” she whispered, following Madame Finley as she paced leisurely down the length of the hospital wing. “It simply isn’t. Ted and I have nothing in common.”
“Perhaps not,” Madame Finley said, “but you do have this. There is no denying it, dear. You’ve reportedly saved the boy twice now, simply due to your presence. Last night, I took samples of Ted’s blood, as well as yours. I performed all the necessary spells on both. It was like drawing blood from one and the same person. Even now, your blood is running through his veins. A transfusion is part of a more long-term experiment. You see, I theorize that, if given regular transfusions, Ted may no longer suffer from these debilitating fits of his. The restorative power of your blood might be able to completely stabilize his metamorphing. It’s a very exciting possibility.”
“Yes,” Andromeda said in a naked voice. “Yes, very exciting.”
“Now, blood bonding usually occurs amongst relatives—siblings, twins, cousins. It’s rare, though not unheard of, to occur amongst non-relatives. It’s said that these individuals are sometimes naturally drawn to each other. And in Ted’s case, it seems that he was very lucky he met you when he did, just as his condition began to take a plunge for the worst.”
“Very lucky,” Andromeda whispered. Then her eyes suddenly lightened, and she whipped toward Madame Finley. “Wait. You said something about dreams, didn’t you? That the blood-bonded sometimes have shared dream states?”
Madame Finley looked mildly interested. “Have you experienced them?”
Andromeda shook her head. “Not exactly. But—but I’ve been having these nightmares for some time now, and Ted is always in them. Well, Ted in his animagus state, that is. I began having them before I even properly met him, before I knew anything about him being an animagus.”
“Fascinating,” was the healer’s reply.
“Does that mean something?”
“Only further confirmation of what I’ve already told you: the two of you are blood bound.”
“But it doesn’t mean anything else?” Andromeda pressed. “You don’t think that those sorts of dreams can be—prophetic, do you?”
Madame Finley considered this. “I’ve never heard of such a thing. That doesn’t mean, of course, that it isn’t possible.”
“I don’t want it to be possible.”
“I imagine not, if your dreams are nightmares.”
Madame Finley came to a stop, and Andromeda realized that they were standing in front of the screen that separated the rest of the room from what she assumed was Ted’s sickbed. Her stomach gave a sudden lurch, and her throat went tight and achy. She wanted so badly just to push past Madame Finley and see him, see how he was, ask him a dozen questions, beg him to look at her like he hadn’t the day before. Instead, she remained perfectly still.
“These regular transfusions you’ve suggested,” she said quietly, “I’ll do them. If that’s what it takes to get Ted better, I’ll give however much blood he needs.”
“Well, that’s all good and well, but I’m afraid it’s for nothing if he stays in his current mindset.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’ve explained all of this to Ted, of course,” said Madame Finley.
"So it's all been settled," said Andromeda. "We’ll do the transfusions.”
“That's the trouble. He’s refused them."
Author's Note: OH HI THERE. Oodles of thanks to everyone who's stuck with Tedromeda this far and for all of the much-appreciated reviews. You guys rock it to the moon and back. Madddd stuff going down, right? It's taken me some time to craft a magical condition that I thought would be believable, and I really hope that the result—blood bonding—suits. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. :]
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