[ Printer Friendly Version ] [ Report Abuse ]
Chapter 2 : Dark Arts & Doubts
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 12|
Background: Font color:
Andromeda meticulously aligned her quill with a fresh roll of parchment on her desk. There was nothing in the realm of academia that she loved so much as the first day of school. New quills, new pots of ink, fresh and untainted parchment, an unopened textbook, and all the anticipation of the year to come. Nothing was better than first days, especially when she had worked six long years to arrive at this first day in particular. She had finally made it to her second year of N.E.W.T.-level Defense Against the Dark Arts.This was where things got very difficult. And very interesting.
She watched keenly as Professor Whitechapel paced the floor. His stride was firm and determined as he called off each name from the roll; Andromeda like the confidence he exuded. He was not an old man, like Professor Flavius had been before him, but somewhere between forty and fifty. His eyes were a strange, bright shade of violet, and it was rumored that his mother had been a direct descendent of Merlin himself.
Ferdinand Whitechapel was, without a doubt, the most talked about professor this year. But then, that had been true of every Defense Against the Dark Arts professor for Andromeda’s past six years at Hogwarts. It was rumored that the position had been cursed, and that no professor could hold the post for longer than a year. So far, that curse had proved most effective. Professor Whitechapel was a brave wizard, said the whispers around Hogwarts. Everyone was watching, waiting to see what it would be to knock him from his post. A terrible bout of dragon pox, perhaps? An unfortunate run-in with the whomping willow? Only time would tell. In the meantime, Andromeda meant to glean as much knowledge from the wizard as she could.
Andromeda had worked so hard to get here. She had always excelled in Transfiguration, Ancient Runes, and Charms, but DADA had been her crowning achievement. She’d received nothing but glowing marks from each of her professors, and she had studied with a calm intensity that earned her a reputation as a sort of dark arts genius. Some of the nastier Gryffindors claimed that she only excelled because her own family dabbled in the dark arts themselves. But none of those snide-mouth idiots were currently sitting in a selective top-level class like Andromeda, now were they?
Andromeda’s pleasant reverie was suddenly broken at the sound of those two words. She grew very still. She had always sat at the front of the class, and until now she considered that to be a very great advantage. She’d never thought that it would put her at a disadvantage of knowing just whose company she was in. Without thinking, she whipped around to face the rest of the classroom. There, sitting three seats behind and one row over, sat Edward Tonks in the flesh. His dirty golden hair was ruffled as though he’d just rolled out of his bed, his white shirt wrinkled, his black and yellow tie sticking out over his robe.
His eyes caught Andromeda’s just as he said, “Present. Though I prefer Ted, sir.”
“Ah! Ted. Duly noted.”
Andromeda quickly turned back around. How had she not noticed Ted's presence in DADA last year? Was it simply because he was a Hufflepuff and therefore so. . .unnoticeable? How on earth did a Hufflepuff make it to seventh year DADA, anyway? Had he cheated? Had he bribed a professor?
Andromeda had been looking forward to a year of studying with only the elite, the cream of the crop. And now it looked like they let just anybody in. She tried to swallow down the bile as Professor Whitechapel finished the roll call with Zabini, Hector, and then, without hesitation, launched into their first lecture: Identifying and Warding Off Succubi.
Soon, Andromeda’s disgust at the discovery of Ted Tonks in her classroom gave way to pure concentration as she scribbled down extensive notes, raised her hand at least half a dozen times, and quickly wormed her way into the affection of Professor Whitechapel. She was always the teacher’s pet in DADA. Always.
Later that night, she gushed her excitement about the coming school year to Narcissa and to their rooomate, Lilith Starker.
“God, Andie, you’re such a little dork,” Lilith said affectionately, winding back more of Andie’s long, brunette hair into a perfectly crafted French braid. “Though I don’t see why succubi are so important for a girl to learn about. I mean, they seduce men, don’t they? So there’s nothing for you to worry about.”
“Anything dark or dangerous deserves study,” Andromeda said. “Anyway, just because it’s not immediately applicable doesn’t mean it isn’t still fascinating.”
“Fascinating to you,” Lilith muttered. “What’s far more fascinating to me is Xavier Eddleton’s backside. Yum.”
“I’m going to pretend you didn’t just say that,” said Narcissa, wrinkling up her nose as she finished up the topcoat to her cherry-colored toenails. “Xavier is dishy, admittedly, but you could do much better.”
“I admit he isn’t mind-blowingly wealthy,” said Lilith, “but I’ve got enough of an inheritance on my own. And when money’s taken care of, you can be picky about the more important things, like. . .sex appeal.”
Lilith giggled wickedly, Narcissa gasped, and Andromeda just rolled her eyes.
“Don’t give me that high and mighty look, Andie!” Lilith said, addressing Andromeda’s reflection in the girl’s bedroom mirror. “Haven’t you and Rabastan done the dirty by now?”
Narcissa gasped louder and smacked Lilith with a pillow.
“What?” Lilith raised her hands innocently, letting Andromeda’s hair fall back to her shoulders. “I’m just calling it the way I see it. And I’ve seen the way he looks at you, Andie. Like he wants it.”
“Maybe he does,” Andromeda said, picking at a hangnail, “but he knows he won’t get it until after we’re married.”
“SO YOU’RE ENGAGED?!”
“Calm down, Lilith! Of course I’m not. Don’t you think you two would be the first to know if I was engaged? Or if I’d fooled around with him?”
Lilith tapped her nose suspiciously. “I dunno. You can be so quiet. Sometimes I don’t know what’s going on in that mind of yours. It's frightening."
Andromeda sighed. “I think it’s going to happen soon. I overheard him in the common room, talking to the boys. He—he’s bought a ring.”
There were two instantaneous squeals.
“What?” demanded Narcissa, grabbing Andromeda’s hands. “When do you think he’s going to do it?”
“How should I know?"
Lilith snorted. “For a girl about to be betrothed to her true love, you don’t sound too enthusiastic.”
Andromeda remained silent. After a long moment, she said, “Maybe it’s because he isn’t my true love.”
Narcissa’s eyes widened. “W-what? But Andie, you two make such a precious couple. I assumed—“
“You’re perfect for each other!” squawked Lilith. “How can he not be the love of your life?”
“I just. . . .“ Andromeda gestured ineffectively with her hands, trying to grasp at words just out of reach. “I don’t know how to describe it. It’s not like I hate him or anything, but—but I don’t miss him when we’re apart. I don’t particularly enjoy his company. He’s nice and attentive, and Merlin knows he’s a good kisser. He can just be so dull at times. Sometimes I think we want different things. Very different things. Like last night. He—he—“
Narcissa’s eyes were nearly entirely made up of pupils. Her voice dropped to a scandalized whisper. “Did he force you to—?”
Andromeda made a choking noise. “What? No! I mean, yes, he wanted to take things a little further than I did, but I told him no, and he always stops. That’s normal. It isn’t that. It’s just, we were talking about the future, and he made it very clear that his career is going to take precedence. That he wants to start having children right away.”
Lilith blinked at Andromeda, nonplussed.
“Sooo,” said Lilith, “what’s wrong with that?”
Narcissa cut in before Andromeda could reply. “Andie doesn’t want children right away. She has this silly notion of wanting her own career first. I've tried to reason with her. Once you have children, Andie, you won't feel that way. Everyone says so."
“Yes,” said Lilith. "Think about it. Anyone can get a career. What’s a real feat is landing a pureblood husband like Rabastan. Do you know how many girls are gaga for him? He’s a catch. Far and away the better Lestrange brother.”
Andromeda thought unwillingly of Rodolphus Lestrange, her sister Bellatrix’s husband. Like his younger brother, Rodolphus was undeniably handsome. But he was also cruel and—Andromeda thought—borderline psychotic. A perfect match for her older sister, perhaps, but she didn’t particularly like reminding herself of how closely bound she would be to the man should she marry his brother.
Andromeda sighed. “I shouldn’t have brought it up. Just forget it.”
“It’s normal to have doubts,” Narcissa said softly. “To have second thoughts. Perhaps that’s all it is.”
“Just wait and see,” said Lilith, who had regained her usual gutsy tone. “In a few weeks’ time you’ll be back to being madly in love with him. The moment he pulls out that ring, I guarantee you won’t have any doubts then.”
“Miss Black, may I speak with you for a moment?”
Andromeda stopped mid-roll of her parchment and looked up to find Professor Whitechapel looking down at her from his podium. His demeanor was calm, as it always was, his violet eyes intent.
“Of course,” she said with a respectful nod, rolling the last of her notes for the day and placing them gingerly into her satchel. She folded her well-manicured hands and looked up at Professor Whitechapel in anticipation.
This could only be good news. She’d been hard at work in class for two months straight now and had proven herself to be an exceptional pupil. Andromeda considered this to be an even more admirable feat considering she was still struggling with the occasional insomnia. Lucius’ homemade sleeping draught helped her nightmares, but Andromeda was too afraid to take it regularly for fear she’d become too reliant on the potion. Still, in spite of her disrupted sleep pattern, she’d received nothing but top grades from Professor Whitechapel on all of her assignments up until now. So surely he was taking some time after class to congratulate her on her hard work.
“You’ve proven to be a marvelous addition to this classroom, Miss Black,” Professor Whitechapel began. “I’m sure you know by now that I'm extraordinarily pleased with your work. I consider you to be one of the finest students I’ve ever had the honor of instructing.”
Andromeda beamed. She couldn’t help it. This sort of praise was what she lived for. It was what made all the teasing and taunts worth it.
“Thank you, Professor Whitechapel,” she said.
What was he going to do now? Pin a ribbon on her? Offer a letter of recommendation? Inform her that he had written her father about how proud he was?
“That is why,” Professor Whitechapel continued, stepping down from his podium so that he and Andromeda were on closer eye-level,“I’m presuming to ask a rather significant favor of you.”
Andromeda’s hopeful expression faltered only a fraction. “A—a favor, sir?”
“Yes. You see, I’m afraid not everyone in this classroom has quite the same aptitude as you. One student in particular has been struggling with the more recent assignments, and he approached me last week about earning extra credit or even, perhaps, receiving some form of tutelage.”
“Tutelage.” Andromeda knew she was annoyingly parroting Professor Whitechapel, but she still didn't understnad what he was trying to communicate.
“What I’m asking, Miss Black, is if you’d be willing tutor Mr. Tonks throughout these coming months.”
Still, Andromeda didn’t register the words. “I beg your pardon?”
“I’m telling you this in the strictest confidence, mind. I don’t make it a regular habit to discuss the progress of my students with their peers. However, I believe Mr. Tonks is a very talented wizard, and I would hate to fail him out of this class before Christmas simply because his performance is not quite up to par. As I understand it, his busy schedule on the Quidditch pitch has led to his less than satisfactory academic work.”
“Ted Tonks,” Andromeda said dumbly. “You want me to tutor Ted Tonks?”
Professor Whitechapel removed his glasses from his nose. He squinted down at Andromeda with a quizzical expression.
“Is that a problem, Miss Black? You seem distressed.”
“No!” Andromeda nearly shouted. She swallowed, and then with more calm continued. “No, I’m not distressed. It’s just an. . .unexpected request.”
“Ah,” said Professor Whitechapel. “Admittedly so. Though it’s certainly not unheard of, and I think that your insight would greatly benefit the boy. I wouldn’t ask you this favor if I did not think you were entirely qualified.”
“Yes,” said Andromeda, “but surely someone else would be better suited for the job? Couldn’t you tutor him, sir?”
Professor Whitechapel narrowed his eyes. “I am afraid you underestimate the myriad duties and busy schedule of a professor, Miss Black. Would that I could, but I’m thinly stretched as it is. As for his fellow classmates, I can think of no one so well qualified as you.”
Why couldn’t her brain think? Why now, of all possible times, had it shut down so entirely? Surely there had to be a way out of this. She had to come up with some sort of excuse. Tutor Ted Tonks? Spend time with a Mudblood and a Hufflepuff? Surely Professor Whitechapel didn't understand what an obscene request that was. He must not have subscribed to pureblooded supremacy, or he would never have asked this of her. But now he had, and Andromeda could think of no way to refuse the favor that would not lower her in her professor’s estimation. And she couldn’t let him think that she was rude or unhelpful or lazy. So she spoke the words that would seal her fate.
“Of course, sir. I’d be happy to help.”
Author's Note: Hello, hello! I thought I ought to pop my nose in and give a word or two. More than anything, I wanted to thank the lovely readers and reviewers who have already given me and my ickle baby story so much encouragement. Thank you for the helpful words!
I've had a long, slightly unhealthy obsession with the Black Household, and Ted and Andromeda are one of my favorite couples ever; I've wanted to write a fanfic about them for ages. Guess what one of my New Year's Resolutions was? :) I hope that you all continue to enjoy the story. I'm sitting on a backlog of chapters here, so I can't wait until they're all out in your hands. Enjoy! Your reviews make me infinitely happy.
Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Other Similar Stories