"Everyone turn to the person across from you!" Professor Sprout's voice cut through the pre-class chatter filling Greenhouse 1 as she appeared at the doorway.
Andromeda, studious as always, turned sharply to look across the long table that ran down the center of the greenhouse. It was a Hufflepuff, an almost comically small boy with a mop of messy blond hair and his wand stuck behind his ear.
A voice, the one that sounded a lot like her mother, rang out in her head. Obviously a mudblood, look at the way he keeps his wand, the state of his robes, obviously second hand. All he could afford I suppose.
Andromeda swallowed and shook the voice away, leaning forward to greet him. "Andromeda Black." she said crisply.
"I'm Ted Tonks." he smiled brightly at her, making her blink, slightly unsure.
Under Professor Sprout's watchful eye, the rest of the class had also paired up and Andromeda turned back to her in order to listen as she started instructing them. "You will read the passage in your textbook on the Asphodel, then you and your partner will collect one of the samples from me and practice powdering the stem without damaging it so that Professor Snape can use them for his sixth year class next week. Take out your textbooks and begin."
Andromeda hefted her book from her bag and placed it on the table in front of her, flipping through until she found the page dedicated to the white flower. She had just started reading the first line when Ted's voice distracted her. "So, I'll read the first half, then you read the second half?" he asked.
Andromeda opened her mouth, then closed it. "I... think we're supposed to read it on our own then powder it together?" she said.
Ted furrowed his brow. "Well, then, why would she partner us up?" he pointed out.
Andromeda was too taken aback to formulate an adequate response, so all she could do was listen as he started to read the passage on Asphodel, following along in her own book.
Once they'd read through the passage together, Andromeda stood from the table, collecting the Asphodel from Professor Sprout.
She dropped the flowers onto the table in between them, right next to her textbook. "Alright," she said, pulling out some vials for the powder. "Do you want to put it in the vial, or powder it?" she asked.
"We can take turns." he chirped. "You powder it first."
Andromeda nodded, picking up one of the flowers. "Remember to wait until after it gathers." she reminded. Ted nodded seriously, uncorking the vial.
Taking in a deep breath and reading the instructions once more, Andromeda gently placed her finger under the bottom of the stem and pushed up with the slightest amount of force.
Instead of bending, or simply not moving, the stem of the flower disintegrated under her touch, grey particles floating away until Andromeda was balancing nothing but the petals on her finger.
Ted gave a small gasp, looking with wonderment at the powdered root, seemingly unaffected by gravity, as it drifted aimlessly through the air.
Then, with no warning, the particles started to move in the same direction, gathering until there was a small orb of grainy powder hovering a foot above the table. Ted, still looking slightly amazed, sprang into action, holding the vial up and capturing the powdered root. As soon as he secured the cork, the powder fell to the bottom of the vial, looking no different than the ash collected in a fireplace.
"That was incredible!" he exclaimed, peering into the vial.
Andromeda tilted her head. She wondered what it was like, to grow up without magic and then suddenly be transported to a world of floating powder and potions. "I suppose it was." she murmured.
They finished the rest of the flowers efficiently, turning in their vials before nearly all of the other groups. Andromeda had decided to use the extra time to read ahead in her textbook, flipping to a plant called Devil's Snare, when Ted spoke to her.
"You're in Slytherin, right?" he asked.
Andromeda looked up. "Yes." she said slowly.
"So that means you were born in a wizard family, right?"
Instinctively, Andromeda straightened her spine. "The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black." she confirmed.
"Yeah," he said, nodding. "Like that." He paused. "Is it different?" he asked. "Do you have more magic or something, or better magic than me?"
Andromeda hesitated. She knew the answer, of course. It was yes. Purebloods were inherently better, this was something she knew. But for whatever reason, she smiled and said, "No, I don't think it matters, as long as you study hard."
His tense shoulders fell a little and he returned her smile. "Really?" he asked.
"I don't know why everyone says Slytherins are mean." he said a few seconds later, all signs of insecurity gone. "You're really nice!"
Andromeda opened her mouth to respond, but before she could, the bell rang shrilly, and a whirlwind of movement surrounded them. Andromeda's friends approached her, chattering and Ted's friends did the same.
Even as she walked back up to the castle, the conversation echoed in her head.
It wasn't until she finally fell asleep that night that she was able to get Ted's hopeful expression as she told him blood status didn't matter out of her head.
"Er... I think I accidently picked up your Herbology notes."
Andromeda turned, uncrossing her legs. She was sitting with her friends, clustered at the edge of the Great Lake as they enjoyed the first good weather of the year. Unfortunately, they hadn't counted on this bank being rather muddy and were in the process of moving.
Or, at least, they had been, until they'd been interrupted.
Andromeda heard her friends start to whisper behind her back and turned her head. "You go ahead and find a new spot." she instructed. "I'll be along in a minute."
Once they'd fully departed, she turned her attention back to the boy who supposedly had her notes. She recognized him as a Hufflepuff from her year, though his name evaded her.
He was standing rather awkwardly, arm extended with a roll of parchment gripped in his fist. Andromeda accepted it and unrolled it immediately, recognizing her handwriting at once. "This is mine." she confirmed. "Thank you! Where did you find it?"
"I got it in the greenhouse, when we were packing up." he said. "I wasn't paying attention, so I must have accidentally gotten yours."
Andromeda furrowed her brow. She distinctly remembered taking her notes that morning, shoving them hurriedly into her bag before rushing to make it to Potions. "I must have gotten yours." she muttered, ruffling through her bag and pulling out the parchment.
"Oh, it's fine!" he exclaimed. "You don't have to..."
But Andromeda was already unfurling the parchment, blanching at what she found there.
"...look." he finished lamely.
The parchment was completely free of notes, instead covered in random doodles. Her main focus, however, fell to the large drawing in the middle, done with exquisite detail. It was the portrait of a smiling man, eyes bright with merriment. The drawing was well done, the love shining through in every single line.
"Who's this?" Andromeda asked, before she could stop herself. Her mother's voice rang out in her head, scolding her for her terrible etiquette, but she brushed it away.
"My, uh, my dad." he muttered, clearing his throat. "He died last month." he seemed to have trouble getting the words out of his mouth, stumbling over the syllables.
"Oh." Andromeda, feeling her face start to burn, rolled the parchment back up and held it out to him. "Er, here."
He took it, not meeting her gaze.
"Well... thank you." Andromeda said after a few moments of silence. "Bye."
She started to turn away when he said, "Wait!"
Andromeda saw that he was holding out her notes, which she'd forgotten to actually take. She looked at them, then at the boy, the bags under his eyes. "Actually..." she said. "You can keep them. And, uh, if you need any help with your classes or something, I can let you borrow my notes if you want." Her heart beating fast, she met his gaze.
He gave a small nod, and she turned once more, gripping her bag tightly as she walked away. It wasn't until she was almost on the other side of the lake that she finally remembered his name.
Andromeda was sure her friends were already spreading rumours about why she'd run out of the Great Hall, clutching a letter and blinking rapidly, but at the moment, she didn't care.
She looked at the letter again, her vision blurred with tears.
Bellatrix has written to tell us that you have contracted a cold. Unfortunately, we must ask you to stay behind over the break this year. We would prefer to remain healthy this Christmas and we are sure that you agree that it is better if you partake in the festivities at Hogwarts instead of putting us, along with your younger sister in danger of catching what you have. We will send your presents to Hogwarts.
Signed, Cygnus and Druella of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.
She sobbed a little harder, letting go fully now that she was in an empty classroom. Sliding down the wall and wrapping her arms around her knees, Andromeda tensed herself up, trying to make herself smaller, because maybe if she got small enough, she would just disappear.
Her parents didn't want her home for the break because she had a cold.
Her parents didn't want her home for the break.
Her parents didn't want her.
Andromeda crumpled the letter up, throwing it forcefully at the wall and wiping at her tears, sinking deeper and deeper into misery.
Andromeda stopped crying all at once, looking at the now-open doorway, where a figure stood, frozen in the middle of walking into the room. It took a moment for her tear-filled vision to clear up enough for her to realize that it was Ted Tonks.
They looked at each other, Ted clearly taken aback with finding a crying girl in what he had no doubt assumed was an empty classroom, Andromeda trying not to let on how humiliation was rising steadily in her.
"Are you okay?" he asked, finally stepping in and closing the door behind him.
Andromeda sniffed, nodding. "I'm fine. I just have a cold."
Technically, it was true, but he didn't seem convinced. To be fair, excessive crying usually wasn't a symptom of a cold. He slowly sat down next to her, crossing his legs.
"That's a bad cold," he commented. "Why don't you get some pepperup potion?"
Andromeda sniffed. "I'm allergic."
This thought nearly sent her back into sobs, because if she hadn't been allergic, she would be able to just take some potion and her parents would want her.
Ted said nothing, just leaned back on the wall and sat with her in silence. After a few moments, Andromeda spoke, her voice wobbly. "My parents won't let me go home for the break because they don't want to get sick too."
Ted's posture straightened. "That's terrible!" he exclaimed. He caught himself a moment later. "I don't mean to insult your parents!" he added quickly. "I just," he deliberated for a moment before continuing. "That's just not very nice." he finished.
Andromeda gave a small cough. "It's fine." she muttered. "They're probably right. None of them can take pepperup potion either, so they'd just be miserable the whole time."
"But..." Ted said. "Christmas is all about family! You might be miserable, but you'd be miserable together."
Andromeda couldn't help but smile a little, forgetting her sadness for a fraction of a second. "I suppose." she muttered.
"See?" Ted asked. "You should go. Write to your parents, c'mon!"
Andromeda gaped at him. "What?"
"Tell them that you should be able to come because Christmas is about family." he prompted.
Andromeda scrunched up her face. "Listen, Ted, I don't know how you do things in muggle families, but in wizard families, we don't talk back to our parents." she explained.
It was Ted's turn to look aghast. "Talk back?" he asked. "But that's not talking back. It's just pointing out facts."
Part of Andromeda was telling her that this was just another example of muggle incompetence, how they raised disrespectful children.
Another part of Andromeda thought that what he was saying made a lot of sense.
"Tonks!" A loud screech came from outside the door, and Ted jumped to his feet.
"I have to go." he told her hurriedly, crossing the room to pick up one of the abandoned brooms in the corner, one of the non-flying types. "I'm technically in detention right now. Filch is making me clean the dungeons the muggle way. I was just supposed to get a broom from this room."
Andromeda raised her eyebrows. "I see."
Ted, despite his hurry, hesitated at the door. "You should write to your parents." He said.
And then he was gone, making hasty excuses to Filch, all before Andromeda could even begin to formulate a response.
[I realized after writing this it kind of sounds like I condone people celebrating christmas with their families even if they have covid and would like to clarify that I DO NOT condone that at all. Wear a mask. Get vaccinated.]
Andromeda heard Rodolphus before she saw him.
"Don't you want your book back, Tonks?" he was snarling.
Andromeda rounded the corner to find him standing in the corridor leading away from the Potions lab, flanked by Rabastan and Bellatrix.
Her heart sank as she took in the rest of the scene. Ted Tonks was standing opposite to them the contents of his bag spilled out on the floor, except for a single textbook, which Rolodphus was holding. She had no doubt they were behind the spill.
Andromeda tried her best to go unnoticed as she rounded the corner, but her efforts were futile. Bellatrix turned and grinned at her. "Ah, Andromeda!" she exclaimed. "We were just helping Ted here gather his things." Her tone conveyed that this was far from the truth.
"I..." Andromeda's gaze darted around wildly, trying to come up with a way out of the situation.
Ted started to move, brushing all of his quills and loose parchment back into his bag. Still being watched by the four Slytherins, he slowly, defeatedly, gathered the rest of his things into his bag until all that was missing was the textbook Rolodhpus was holding.
He sighed. "Can I have my textbook, Rolodphus?" he intoned.
Rolodphus smiled, the way a hyena smiles at its prey before pouncing. "Sure, just come and take it."
It was clearly a trap, but there was no other way to get his textbook back, so he stepped forward and tried to pull it from Rodolphus, but he simply smiled harder, not releasing the book.
Andromeda looked up at the ceiling. Of all the chidlish, idiotic things to do. She thought.
Ted clearly shared the same sentiment. "Roldophus, just give it back." He said tiredly.
"Rodolphus, c'mon, just give it back!" Bellatrix mocked in a high-pitched voice.
Rabastan grinned. "Just take it, Tonks. What's the matter? Not strong enough?"
Bellatrix glanced at Andromeda, clearly expecting her to add something as well, but she just shifted awkwardly, wishing she was anywhere else. "Bella—" she started, but she was interrupted by Ted.
"Alright, fine," he said. "I'll just get one from the library."
Bellatrix cackled. "Typical mudblood."
Several things happened in succession. Ted, his face morphing into anger, spun around. While the others were distracted, Andromeda whipped out her wand and muttered Pungocio under her breath, pointing her wand at Rolophus' hand. He yelped as the stinging jinx hit his hand, dropping the book instinctively.
Ted stopped in his tracks, brow furrowing. "You'll pay for that." Rolophus snarled at him, pulling out his want.
"I didn't—" Ted started, gaze darting wildly. His words died as his eyes landed on Andromeda, who hastily hid her wand behind her back, but not fast enough. He tilted his head.
Rodolphus, Bellatrix, and Rabastan didn't see the wordless exchange pass between them, and Rodolphus raised his wand, opening his mouth to start an incantation.
"Misters Lestrange, Miss Black! What on Earth are you doing here? The prefects meeting started nearly five minutes ago. What sort of example are you setting for the other students?" Professor Slughorn bustled down the hall, pulling out a handkerchief and dabbing at his shining forehead.
He surveyed the scene, eyes latching on Roldophus' raised wand. "What is going on here?" he asked.
"Nothing, Professor." Roldolphus lied smoothly. "Ted here dropped his book, and I was demonstrating how he could use a summoning charm to get it back." he turned to the book and said clearly. "Accio book."
The book zoomed back into his hand, and he handed it amiably to Ted, who took it with a scowl.
Professor Slughorn looked between them. "Well, I suppose... if you were helping... it's alright..." he muttered. "But hurry along now," he instructed. "You don't want to miss too much."
"Of course, Professor." Bellatrix said, smiling. Together, the three of them turned and made their way back down the corridor, Rabastan sending one last leering smile at Ted over his shoulder.
Professor Slughorn turned to Ted. "Do try to be more coordinated with your things, Mr. Tonks." he said, tilting his head.
Then, tucking his handkerchief away, he walked away from the two fourth-years. Ted glared down as he stuffed the textbook back into his bag.
Andromeda watched him, stepping forward slightly, her foot knocking into something. She bent down, picking up a small bottle of ink that Ted had missed. "You missed this."
She held the bottle out to him and he took it, tucking it away. He stood, staring at her for a moment before opening his mouth. "Why did you do that?" he asked.
"Do what?" she asked, feigning innocence.
"Jinx him." Ted said flatly.
Andromeda swallowed. "I didn't."
He watched her for a moment, as if expecting her to continue, but she just stared right back. "Okay." he said, stepping back and turning away. He looked over his shoulder. "Thanks anyway."
The snow whipped wildly around Andromeda as she wrenched the door to the changing room open long enough to let her and Ted Tonks in, before allowing the wind to slam it shut.
The sound of the storm outside was muffled considerably, making it almost eerily silent as they both took in deep breaths, sitting down on the ground.
Once her heartbeat had gone back to normal, Andromeda looked up at Ted. "Are you okay?" she asked, eyes raking over his snow-speckled hair and blue lips. He nodded vaguely, shivering, and Andromeda realized he was only wearing a set of robes, inadequate protection against the cold.
She shrugged out of her quidditch robes and held them out to him. "Here."
He looked up and shook his head. "Don't you need..?" he asked.
Andromeda shook her head, nodding down to the several layers she was wearing under her robes. "No. I'm fine. I was playing Quidditch, so."
He looked like he wanted to protest some more, but just licked his lips and accepted the robes, wrapping them around himself. They were slightly small on him, but he didn't even seem to notice.
After another moment, Andromeda pulled out her wand and pointed it at the way, muttering a transparency charm. A small circle in the wall turned transparent, revealing that the freak blizzard was still raging. She sighed, realizing they would be there for some time.
Andromeda chewed her lip, trying to recall a spell that would help them warm up. She could light a fire, but there was no fireplace and that would probably just result in burning the place down.
"Do you know any heat spells?" she asked Ted. "So we can warm up?"
He looked blearily at her. "We learned about warming charms last week in Charms," he reminded. "But I still haven't been able to cast once."
"Neither have I." Andromeda said. "I suppose I can try it."
She closed her eyes, focusing on the incantation and the wand movement. She took in a deep breath, then cast the charm.
Her wand glowed softly, and slowly, the changing room started to warm up, becoming toasty enough that she was able to take off one of her sweaters, though Ted still remained wrapped up in her robes.
They passed a few moments in silence, reveling in the warmth, until something occurred to Andromeda. "Ted," she asked. "What were you doing outside?"
Ted glanced at her. "I was helping Hagrid with his cabin. His dog scratched up the walls."
Andromeda tilted her head. "The groundskeeper?" she asked.
He raised his eyebrows. "Yes." he answered slowly. "What were you doing?"
"Quidditch." she said, nodding to her robes.
"In this?" he asked, gesturing at the storm outside.
She crossed her arms. "Well, I was going inside when I was distracted by someone trying to get back to the castle."
Ted glanced away guiltily. "Fair enough," he muttered.
Andromeda turned away, glancing at the transparent portion of the wall. The storm was still the same. "How long do you think it'll last?" she asked.
Ted shrugged. "It could be a while. Remember the storm last week that went on all night?"
Andromeda's eyes went wide. "You don't think this one will go on for that long, do you?" she asked.
Ted seemed to realize he'd spooked her and he shook his head. "It wasn't all night." he backtracked. "I'm sure this will settle down soon."
They lapsed back into silence, giving Andromeda time to think about the absurdity of the situation. Of all the people in the school she could be trapped with, she'd managed to get stranded with Ted Tonks. She wondered what Bellatrix would do in this situation, or even Narcissa.
She quickly banished the thought from her mind.
"So..." Ted said. "How's it going?"
Andromeda looked at him blankly. "What?"
He raised his hands defensively. "Just trying to make conversation."
"Oh." Andromeda said lamely. "Alright. Well, I'm fine, except for being trapped in the middle of a blizzard. You?"
He was clearly trying to look unimpressed, but was having a hard time hiding his smile. "I'm alright. Just nervous for O.W.L.'s." he responded. "I don't even know what I want to do, so I signed up for as many classes as I could take. That was a mistake. You?"
"What do I want to do, you mean?" she asked.
"Well, probably nothing." she admitted.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"Well," she didn't really know how to explain this to a muggle-born. "I'm going to marry Rabastan Lestrange, and I won't really need to work."
"I see," he said. "I didn't know you two were together."
Andromeda could feel his confusion, the unasked question that lay just behind his lips. She sighed. "When I was born, our parents made an agreement that Bella would marry Rodolphus and I would marry Rabastan."
A moment of silence passed before she added. "To keep the bloodline pure." The words sounded hollow even to her.
"Right." He said, his voice heavy with unsaid words.
Andromeda turned slightly and looked out at the storm, which raged on, oblivious to Andromeda's prayers that it would stop. She stared at the wall,watching the snow pile up.
A moment passed, then another, then another.
"I think the warming charm is wearing off." Ted said.
Andromeda nodded, pulling her wand out again and attempting to cast the spell once more. The room stayed the same, the temperature starting to drop steadily now, fast enough that Andromeda had to pull her sweater on once more.
"Try it again." Ted suggested gently. She did so, to no avail, the rapidly increasing cold doing nothing to help her focus.
"You try it." she told him, rubbing her hands together.
He shook his head and clumsily pulled out his own wand. His hands were swollen, and probably numb, so much that he could barely complete the wand movement. He shook his head. "I can't." He said miserably.
"Okay." Andromeda took in a deep breath. "Alright, I'll keep trying."
And so she did, muttering the incantation over and over, trying desperately to warm up as the cold pressed in even further. Finally, after nearly 20 tries, she sagged against the wall, shaking her head. "I can't."
He gave a small nod, his gaze vacant, all of his attention on rubbing his hands together. Andromeda, whose hands were also starting to swell, realized what she would have to do.
She sighed and shifted to the side, until she was pressed up against Ted, shoulder to shoulder.
He looked at her, startled. "What are you doing?" he asked.
Andromeda swallowed. "You will tell no one about this." she ordered, then took his arm and wrapped it around herself, bringing them even closer together. He only watched as she brought their hands together and rested her head on his chest, so that they were practically cuddling.
This was only for survival purposes.
Andromeda felt herself get infinitesimally warmer, and she pushed herself closer to him, feeling him gently lower his head onto her shoulder. His skin felt like ice, though she was sure hers was no better, and she felt herself slowly start to drift to sleep, her eyes fluttering shut.
"Hey." Ted said. "Stop. We can't go to sleep." The arm around her squeezed her halfheartedly.
Andromeda tried to bring herself back to wakefulness, but sleep tugged at her enticingly. "Why?" she murmured.
"I read somewhere... it's bad." he seemed to be struggling to get words out, his own voice starting to become muddled with sleep. "We should try to stay awake."
"Okay." Andromeda agreed, already falling back asleep. "How?"
Andromeda blinked rapidly, trying not to close her eyes. "About what?"
Ted didn't respond, and Andromeda looked up to see that he was staring blankly at the wall in front of them. She elbowed him lightly and he winced. "Dunno..." he finally responded. "What's your favorite color?"
"Red." Andromeda said. "You?"
She simply hummed in response, but Ted asked another question. "What's your favorite... season?"
"It used to be winter," Andromeda said. "But not anymore."
He gave a sort of half-laugh, then sighed. "Mine is summer." He said. "Wish it was summer right now."
Andromeda tried to think of another conversation topic, preferably one interesting enough to keep them awake, when Ted let out a small gasp.
Andromeda looked up, but he didn't seem to be in pain and instead was staring at the wall beside them, where she'd cast the transparency charm. Despite her condition, Andromeda sat up when she saw that the blizzard had completely stopped and instead was replaced by a picturesque winter scene, with a blanket of fresh snow.
Pushing through their exhaustion and the chill in her bones, they struggled to their feet together. It was unclear if Andromeda was helping him up, or if Ted was helping her up.
"Okay," Andromeda said, mostly to herself. "Just have to get to the castle."
She realized Ted was still gripping her hand when he squeezed it tightly. Together, they ventured forward on shaky legs.
The hardest part ended up being forcing the door open, as it was blocked slightly by the snow. Once they made it back into the dark castle, they were brought immediately to Madame Pomfrey, who treated Ted with a pepperup potion, but had to resort to warming charms in order to treat Andromeda.
The last thing Andromeda thought before she drifted to sleep was that she might not be alive right now if not for the help of muggle-born Ted Tonks.
Andromeda looked up, brushing her hair aside. Only one person called her that. "Tonks?" she asked, looking around. She was sitting in a secluded corner of the library, reading, but he was nowhere in sight. "Where are you?"
Grinning, he poked his head out from behind a bookshelf. "Hi."
She smiled, putting down her book. "Hi." she said. "Want to study?"
He nodded, sliding down so he was sitting on the floor with her. "Transfiguration, please."
She turned, trying to ignore the fact that their arms were touching and retrieved her Transfiguration notes. "Human Transfiguration?" she asked.
He nodded, biting his lip. "I turned Amos' ear red in class today. I think Professor McGonnagal was ready to give me detention."
Andromeda laughed, turning so she was sitting across from him. "We'll start small." she said. "Try making my eyebrows bushy."
He nodded, and did so. Andromeda held her compact up and saw that her eyebrows had nearly tripled in size. "Nice." she said, reversing it. "I would try on you, but you can't transfigure what doesn't exist."
It took a moment for him to understand the joke, giving a sarcastic "Ha, ha." He straightened. "We can't all have dark hair, 'Dromeda."
Andromeda gave him a cheeky smile. "Try turning my hair blonde, then."
"Do it yourself, if you're so much better than me." He crossed his arms and turned away, but mirth played through his words.
Andromeda rolled her eyes. "I'm not a metamorphmagus." she said. "Though my great-great-grandmother was." she added. "So, there was a small chance I could've been one."
Ted chuckled. "You look great the way you are."
The air between them suddenly felt very full, and Andromeda cleared her throat, looking away. "Let me check my notes for anything she said would be on the quiz."
He nodded, tucking his wand away as she unrolled her notes and started skimming through them. After a few moments, the silence was broken by Ted. "Hey, 'Dromeda?" he asked.
"Yes?" she looked up.
"Why... why is it like this, like, why are we like this, yknow."
Andromeda looked up, tilting her head. "What?"
He licked his lips, looking frustrated. "What I mean is," he took a deep breath. "Are we friends?"
Of all the things he could've said, this was far from what Andromeda was expecting. "What do you mean?" she asked hesitantly.
"I—I get the sense that we—that you don't like me that much." He looked up, meeting her gaze, but plowed on before Andromeda could respond. "Even last year, after we got caught in the blizzard, when I woke up the next morning, you had left the hospital wing and you didn't even acknowledge that anything had happened. I mean, the only reason you talk to me now is because none of your friends want to help you study."
Andromeda's face flamed. "That's not true!"
He simply tilted his head.
Andromeda opened her mouth, then closed it again. "Tonks, listen." she swallowed. "If they... if Bellatrix saw the two of us together, even just studying, she wouldn't be mad at me." she looked up, meeting his gaze. "She would be mad at you."
Andromeda interrupted him, continuing. "So, the reason that I don't talk to you outside of studying is because of Bellatrix and all of them and I'm really sorry that I have to do that, but it's only because I don't want you to be bullied and Bella can be so— so passionate sometimes."
Ted pursed his lips together. "I know," he said slowly. "I know that, and I understand that part. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about now, here. Sometimes you just... close up."
Andromeda's heart sank. She'd expected, when he'd started rambling, that the conversation would turn in this direction, though she'd hoped it wouldn't. Her gaze darted around the library, going everywhere but to Ted.
"I know." she muttered. "I know. It's not that I don't like you. It's that maybe... maybe I like you too much."
A pause, and then a soft, "Oh."
Andromeda gripped her transfiguration notes tightly, making the parchment crumple under her fingers.
"And," Ted said. "What's wrong with that?"
Andromeda's eyes went wide, and she swallowed before answering, still not looking at him. "We're different." she said. "And it doesn't matter to me, but it matters to everyone else."
Ted nodded. "I see."
Andromeda slowly started to release her chokehold on the parchment in her hand, the wild thudding of her heart slowing. She was about to suggest that they move on to nonverbal spells and never mention this conversation again when he spoke abruptly.
"What would you say if I also liked you a little too much?"
Andromeda's head snapped up, and she met his eyes, wide with sincerity. "I would say that that's interesting information for me to know." She said after a pause.
They locked eyes, simultaneously leaning forward, and, sitting across from each other, cross legged on the floor of the library, Ted Tonks and Andromeda Black kissed.
"Andromeda!" Lucius bellowed, clearly drunk. "We won!"
She could have tried to figure out how he'd gotten so sloshed in the four minutes they'd been on the ground, but she decided to ignore that line of thinking. "Yes, Lucius." she said patiently. "Why don't you go to the common room now? I'm sure there's a party."
The word party was hardly out of her mouth when he spun and practically raced from the changing rooms, finally leaving Andromeda alone. She sighed. Lucius was a pain, but he was the best seeker Slytherin had, so she put up with him.
Checking one last time that the changing rooms were totally empty, Andromeda put her things away and left, strolling slowly down the pitch.
Nearly everyone had left by now, but a few stragglers still hung behind. She waited for them to disappear into the castle before finally going to her real destination, the bleachers.
Or rather, under them.
Ted was there, waiting for her with a cupcake and a kiss on the cheek. "Congratulations." he told her. "Excellent flying."
Andromeda smiled, ignoring the cupcake to lean in and kiss him properly. "You say that every time." she murmured.
"It's true every time." he murmured back, grinning down at her.
She giggled, leaning back and sliding her hand into his. "What flavor of cupcake do we have today?"
Ted held it up, proudly declaring, "Carrot."
Andromeda wrinkled her nose instinctevely, but tried to cover it up, forcing herself to smile. "Really?" she asked. "That sounds... delicious."
Ted stared at her for a moment, then burst into laughter.
Andromeda's jaw dropped and she squeezed his hand. "Ted! That's not funny!"
He squeezed her hand back. "It's chocolate," he reassured. "I figured you might want something simple."
He unwrapped the cupcake and handed it to her. They took turns taking bites until all that was left were some crumbs and a smear of frosting on his lip, which Andromeda was more than happy to kiss off.
Andromeda took a seat on the grass, patting the space next to her. Ted sat as well, letting her rest her head on his shoulder. "Ted?" she asked.
"I love you."
"I love you too, 'Dromeda."