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Chapter 8 : Rebellion, Within Reason
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 7|
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Ted Tonks was not in the state Andromeda had expected to find him in. For one thing, he was standing. When she had left him earlier that evening, he’d been flat on his back, unable to walk due to his bizarre “condition.” It would appear that he had made a recovery.
For another thing, Ted wasn’t wearing a shirt. He had stripped from his hospital gown, which lay rumpled on equally rumpled sheets. His trousers hung loose on his hips, and his shirt was nowhere on his body but rather clenched in Ted’s hand.
Oh, sweet Merlin.
Andromeda had been meaning to take him by surprise. She was going to be the one who stunned Ted into silence with her wild demand and her even wilder plan. But now demands and plans alike flew out of Andromeda’s mind. Ted Tonks was standing in front of her, half-naked, and she could finally see the whole of his tattoo.
The tendrils of ink on his collarbone had only been the beginning. Lines swooped downward and upward, too, from his navel, sideways from his ribcage. All lines converged at his heart, where there was engraved the black outline of a small, lithe bird. A bird. Of all the things to have tattooed above your heart! And yet somehow, despite the prosaic nature of the drawing, it looked incredibly enticing on Ted’s chest. Perhaps because Ted’s chest was marvelously fit. Stupid chest. Stupid Quidditch workouts. Stupid Ted.
What had she come here for again?
Ted repeated it a second time: “Cavort?”
He was looking at Andromeda now as though she had lost her mind. It was a definite possibility. She ripped her eyes away from Ted’s bare skin and shook her head, trying to regain her thoughts. Rabastan. Yes, that was why she was here. She was absolutely livid at Rabastan, and she was going to make him pay by explicitly disobeying one of his “orders.”
“I’m not allowed to cavort with you,” Andromeda said. “So I’m going to cavort with you.”
Ted was silent for a long time. He used the time to resume what he had been doing before Andromeda had interrupted him: putting on his shirt. When he was through, his hair was an unspeakably mussed mess, but he himself looked a little more enlightened than he had before. He even looked a little—amused.
“You keep using that word,” he said. “I don’t think it means what you think it means.”
Andromeda crossed her arms. “Of course I know what it means. It means to spend time with someone else. To fraternize.”
“I mean,” said Ted, “I’m not sure you’re aware of the sexual implications.”
Andromeda’s eyes grew wide. “Wha—no. No! I didn’t mean anything like that. It’s just what Rabastan said when—“
Ted’s eyebrows shot up. “So this is about your boyfriend.”
Damn. She hadn’t meant to let on that much.
“No,” she said. “It’s about me.”
“Oh. Like everything else.”
“Shut up!” Andromeda growled, stamping her foot. “Are you going to cavort with me, or not?”
Ted smiled at her—a slow, assessing smile. “You’re flirting with me.”
“Ladies of the House of Black don’t—“
“Oh, but they do. They do flirt. They get drunk, too. And they use pawns to get back at their boyfriends.”
Andromeda didn’t know what to say. How could she possibly reply to that?
Ted shook his head, gathering an overstuffed satchel from the bedside and slinging it across his chest. “Because that’s what I am to you, isn’t it? A pawn. A Mudblood for you to toy around with. I bet you didn’t even consider the possibility that I don’t want to play your high-browed games.”
She hadn’t. There was never any question in Andromeda’s mind that if she asked Ted Tonks to spend time with her, he would. She was better than him in every way—in rank, in wealth, in blood, in talent. Why wouldn’t he want to do what she asked?
“If you want to turn rebel without a cause,” Ted said, “good for you. You want to teach your boyfriend a lesson? Fine. Just do it on your own time.”
He pushed past her, leaving Andromeda in stunned silence. But not for long. She turned heel and hurried after him, incurring an exasperated whisper from Madame Bellevue to keep quiet. She didn’t catch up with Ted until he was well out into the dark corridors.
“Wait!” she ordered. “Wait, you insufferable—please. Please, wait?”
Ted stopped. Slowly, he turned to face a huffing, puffing Andromeda. Why was it that he always managed to see her at her most undignified? She swallowed once, hard, and again, harder still, in an attempt to regain her voice.
“I shouldn’t have asked it that way,” she whispered. “That was presumptuous of me.”
“It’s just that I don’t quite know how to behave around people like you. There are no set rules, there’s no protocol to follow.”
Ted stepped closer to her, under the light of one of the corridor’s flickering torches. “I’ll give you a starter tip. Treat us like equals.”
“But, you’re not—“
“I said,” Ted interrupted, “treat me like an equal. It doesn’t matter if you think I am or not. Talk to me like one of your society friends. Go ahead.”
Andromeda sighed. Just how badly did she want to make Rabastan suffer? Was it worth this?
“Fine,” she said. “Ted, I’d very much like to spend time with you.”
Andromeda bit her lip. There wasn’t much point in lying, was there?
“Because Rabastan says I can’t, and I want to prove to him that I can do whatever the hell I want.”
“Thought so,” said Ted. “And if I were to agree to—what was that word you used?”
“Cavort,” Andromeda muttered.
“Right. So what exactly does your definition of ‘cavort’ entail?”
“I have thought this through,” Andromeda said proudly. “I wouldn’t be simply using you. It could be a mutually beneficial arrangement.”
“Mutually beneficial, how?”
“I’d like to know more about Quidditch. The rules, that statistics, that sort of thing. Rabastan thinks that I’m too dense to understand it, and I’m going to prove him wrong. In return, you’ll receive my help.”
“Your help?” Ted looked genuinely surprised. “Why would I need your help?”
“I think you’re giving up too easily. You worked very hard to get into Whitechapel’s class, and I don’t think you should drop it just yet. So, if you promise to teach me about Quidditch, I promise to get you top marks on your next exam.”
“I won’t cheat,” Ted said, his voice unusually harsh.
“I didn’t say you’d be cheating,” said Andromeda. “But if you can’t be disciplined enough to do the required eading, I can still help you out. Provide some insights I wouldn’t share merely as your tutor.”
“How selfish of you.”
“Perhaps,” said Andromeda. “All the same, that’s my offer. I don’t know why I’ve made it, though, since you seem so dead set on refusing me anyway.”
Ted shifted his weight uneasily from one foot to the other. “Why me? Why do you want to, uh, ‘cavort’ with me, of all people?”
“Rabastan heard about Hog’s Head. He didn’t just tell me not to hang around your sort. He told me not to hang around you.”
Ted nodded slowly. “And that’s the only reason?”
Andromeda frowned. “Well, of course that’s the only reason.”
It took her a long moment to realize that Ted had extended his hand toward her, as though he expected her to shake it.
“Then it’s a deal,” he said. “I’ll cavort with you in return for a passing grade on Whitechapel’s next exam.”
“Deal.” She shook his hand, then promptly extracted her fingers and wiped them on her skirt. She caught Ted watching her.
He shook his head. “Nothing.”
“You look better,” she observed.
“I feel better.”
“I suppose this means you’ll be in class tomorrow morning?”
“I suppose it does.”
“I’ll give you a note then,” she said, “about our—arrangement. But don’t expect me to speak to you in public.”
“Certainly not.” Why was he grinning? “Sweet dreams, Andromeda.”
He set off down the corridor, whistling a slow, bittersweet melody. Curiously, Andromeda watched him go, but she made no attempt this time to stop him.
South Wing Turret, 7 o'clock tonight.
Andromeda had placed the carefully folded note on Ted’s desk, just under the slat of splintered wood at the desk’s edge. She had not looked back once during Professor Whitechapel’s lecture on how to defend oneself against lethal respiratory curses. She could only hope that Ted would see the slip of paper and that he would read it.
She hadn’t known anything for certain until after class, as she and the other students bustled out into the corridors, bottlenecking at the doorway. It was normal to bump shoulders on the way out, and today proved no exception. Only today, Andromeda felt the distinct pressure of a hand against hers. There was a flash of golden hair in her periphery. Then she became aware that she was holding a slip of paper—the same slip that she had snuck Ted.
He had written a response on the opposite side of the paper:
He would request a later time. 7:30 then. She was going to meet up with Ted Tonks at 7:30 that evening. In secret. She was meeting with a Mudblood in secret, in a dirty, drafty, abandoned turret of the castle. And instead of that thought making her nauseous or exceedingly uncomfortable, it only sent her heart racing.
What was the matter with her? She couldn’t actually fancy Ted Tonks, could she? The only reason why she felt this way was because Rabastan had been acting like such a bastard recently. In a few weeks, she’d impress him with her Quidditch knowledge and convince him that she was not the sort of girl who needed reining in. In the meantime, she would have her fun breaking his rules—and that included meeting up with a Mudblood. A Mudblood who she most certainly did not fancy.
Andromeda had sneaked up on him from behind, and she now covered Sirius’ eyes with a dramatic flourish. She smirked across the table at his chubby, pre-pubescent friend—a boy with ratty blonde hair, who was sitting next to Sirius' best mate, James Potter. Both boys looked up at her with huge eyes and gaping mouths. It wasn’t customary for many Slytherins to pay visits to the Gryffindor dining table, and it certainly wasn’t customary for a pretty seventh year girl to speak to lowly second year boys. She flattered herself that she was the highlight of the poor little boys’ week.
“Hmm,” pondered Sirius, tapping his chin, entirely unflustered by the fact that a strange pair of hands had rendered him blind. “Cold hands. Is it the ghost of Lady Jane Grey?”
“Excellent guess,” Andromeda said, “but miserably wrong.”
She removed her hands and tousled Sirius’ hair, only to straighten it back up again far better than it had been before the tousling. Her younger cousin craned back his neck and grinned at her.
Andromeda winked. “Here,” she said, slipping a wax-papered lump the size of a tangerine into his hand. “Mum made toffee for the holidays. She sent Cissy and me a whole parcel’s worth. I know they’re your favorite.”
Sirius’ face lit up with unbridled joy. “Andie, you’re the best. No, seriously the best!” He lowered his voice confidentially. “You know you’re my favorite, right? No contest.”
Andromeda only smiled and tapped the end of his nose. “You deserve it, cutie. Just stay out of trouble every so often, hm?”
Sirius nodded, though the guilty look on his face told Andromeda that he was already in or about to be in trouble. She straightened back up and walked crisply away from the table, only to hear James Potter say, “Your cousin is divine,” and Sirius’ quick rejoinder, “Want your nose hexed off your face, Potter?”
She had to leave the dining hall before the others arrived. She had told Narcissa and Lilith that she hadn’t been feeling well, and that she was going to visit Professor Vince’s office. Professor Vince was the herbology instructor, and she was known for her exceptional remedial teas. It wasn’t too far-fetched of an excuse for her absence.
Andromeda grabbed a dinner roll from Slytherin’s table on her way out. It would be a scant supper tonight. When she returned later that evening from the turret, she would explain to Narcissa and Lilith that she and Professor Vince had gotten carried away in conversation. That wasn’t a stretch either; Andromeda was on good terms with every professor in the school.
She had planned all of this perfectly. She wondered if that was the right way to go about it, since “cavorting” was such a sloppy, spontaneous verb. But just because Andromeda was rebelling didn’t mean she had to be sloppy about it, surely. Just like her future, this specific evening had a set plan and set parameters. The only real variable was Ted Tonks.
Author's Note: It's a short chapter, I know, but the next will more than make up for it! Muaha. Well, I hope so, anyway...
Ted's unintentional Princess Bride quote belongs to the brilliant mind of William Goldman . <3
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