Andromeda had been aware of him since first year. He was the kind of boy other students—even those not in his House—said hello to in school corridors.
At first, it was hard for her to understand why this particular boy was so popular. He was Muggle-born, a Hufflepuff, and a slob.
His sandy hair was always in dire need of a trim. Overlong, with the fringe hanging into his eyes when he did not shake it to the side, his hair looked as though he ran fingers through it instead of a proper comb.
His uniform was equally untidy. Since he only remembered to fasten his robes in the dead of winter, his shirt, with the tails forever coming un-tucked, the collar refusing to lay flat and the tie perpetually askew was flaunted for the school to see. Apparently, he had never heard of a shoeshine spell, either, for his shoes were a disgrace, dull and scuffed.
The boy's schoolbag was just as disorderly as his appearance. Parchments and books were jammed together in an unorganised fashion at all times. Often, scrolls spilled out as he walked with long strides through the corridor, returning the greetings from his many friends with a wide, white smile.
Apart from his appearance, the boy had another trait that schoolmates could have viewed as negative, but did not. He smiled too much. Was he showing off his excellent dental hygiene and straight teeth? She did not think so.
He grinned at jokes, over a high mark in class or while playing as a Beater on the Hufflepuff Quidditch team. His laughter rang out in the Great Hall during meals, in the corridors, and across the grounds on afternoons and weekends. Others smiled to hear his infectious laugh. Even her lips had curved at the uninhibited sound on more than one occasion.
No one in Slytherin House enjoyed life the way Ted Tonks seemed to. Andromeda Black did not know quite what to think of the unusual boy, but she could not stop herself from watching him.
On the Sunday before the first Hogsmeade weekend of seventh year, Andromeda was reading a book beneath a willow while her friends sat nearby and gossiped. She looked up when she heard, "Oh my gods, I think that Hufflepuff is staring at us!"
It was disconcerting how her heart pounded. She asked Leticia, "What are you talking about?"
"The Hufflepuff Quidditch team is sitting right over there, but one of them isn't listening to the Captain. He's looking at us!"
Andromeda snuck a peek while smoothing long hair away from her face. Sure enough, a messy-haired boy was gazing their way. She shrugged. "So? Boys have gaped at us before."
"I don't think he's looking at us," Leticia said. "I think he's looking at you."
"Don't be ridiculous." Andromeda slanted another glance at the Hufflepuff.
Her lips curved.
The blonde girl next to the brown-haired Leticia said, "He is staring at Andromeda! That's so gross! Let's go inside before he does something creepier like talk to her."
Leticia pinched her friend. "Merlin, you shriek like a harpy, Beryl! I think he heard you!"
"I don't care! He's a filthy Mudblood who deserves a hex for daring to look at a girl from an ancient and noble family!"
Andromeda stood up. "I'm going back to the dorm. I have a headache." She rushed off, with only a swift, apologetic glance at the boy. His sombre expression made her stomach twist. He probably thought she was as prejudiced as the rest of her friends.
A Hufflepuff girl leaving through the side entrance bowled Andromeda over when she tried to enter. A group of Ravenclaw firsties giggled to see the Slytherin girl fall back on her arse.
"Are you hurt? Let me help you up."
It was the Hufflepuff boy, Ted. He had a warm, strong grip and dark blue eyes like sapphires. He was tall, too, with broad shoulders. Andromeda felt petite next to him, and she was a head taller than many boys were. "Thank you," she whispered.
"Oh, Ted, she's fine, and I'm sure she wouldn't want her friends to see a Muggle-born touching her lily-white skin," said the girl who had knocked her over. She was petite, with golden-blonde hair pulled back into a braid. The hairstyle revealed her large ears.
Andromeda imitated her mother and looked down her nose. "I'm fine thanks to him, not you, and if that was your idea of an apology, keep it." She pulled her hand out of the boy's and swept inside, extremely tempted to slam the door.
In her room, she vented irritation by snatching a pillow off her bed and hurling it against the wall. It fell onto her desk and knocked over an inkpot. After she picked up the pillow, it was almost a relief to notice the stain of ink upon embroidered linen. Fiddly spell work would be required to remove it. She would have to give the casting her entire concentration.
The next morning, she stopped in her tracks when she entered the Great Hall. She noticed a third year boy who wore accents of yellow pass by and impulsively touched his sleeve. "Who's that sitting next to Ted Tonks?"
The boy craned his neck. "Mary Sullivan."
She arched an eyebrow. "You sound as though you don't care for her."
"Mary's always telling the younger kids to ask her for help if they need it, but when I said that I was having problems remembering all the magic herbs and fungi for Potions, she told me to try harder."
"Are you still having difficulties?"
"Why?" The boy looked suspicious.
She said dryly, "I'm not volunteering to tutor you, but if you pick up A Child's First Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs and Fungi at the bookshop in the village, you'll find the songs that accompany each entry help you remember them."
Andromeda inclined her head and continued on to her table. Mercifully, a majority of Slytherins were not early risers, so only one of her roommates waited to pester her.
"Beryl said Tonks was staring at you yesterday, and just now, you were talking to a Hufflepuff." Patricia's pug-face scrunched with disgust. "Tell me you don't have something going on with that Mudblood!"
"I don't have something going on with anyone." Andromeda picked up her fork and calmly took a bite of ham and asparagus filled crêpe. She ate much better at Hogwarts than she did at home, where her parents spent their Galleons on keeping up an appearance of wealth for their social set. She and her cousin Sirius both loathed the bowls of porridge forced upon them as 'healthful' when 'cheap' was the true reason it was served.
After breakfast, she happened to be walking to Arithmancy behind a certain boy when a scroll fell out of his schoolbag. "Hey, you," she called. "You dropped this."
The Hufflepuff turned and gave her a smile that made it hard to remember to breathe. "Thank you."
His fingers brushed hers. It reminded her of Muggle Studies, when the class learnt about electricity. It was an effort to pull away from the tingly sensation.
"You have a Mona Lisa smile," he said when she made to walk on.
He curved his lips in imitation and then grinned. "She was a mysterious beauty whose portrait still makes people wonder what she was thinking."
The corners of her mouth turned upwards.
Behind her, several girls gasped.
"Better get a move on, Andromeda, or you'll be in trouble," said Beryl.
Ted said quietly, "I don't think she means for tardiness." He raised his voice. "Thanks again for picking up my scroll."
Andromeda nodded and hurried down the corridor, away from her so-called friends and a boy who made Muggle-born and Hufflepuff seem like the highest of compliments.
Over the next couple of days, she could not help being aware that Mary Sullivan sat beside Ted Tonks at every meal and was always calling 'Teddy!' in the corridors. It was nauseating, how she clung to him, but it did have one benefit. In Charms, Professor Flitwick beamed with pleasure when Andromeda knew every variation of Incendio, and shared that she had created one of her own, tailored-made for burning off leeches.
On Thursday morning, she discovered that Little Miss Mary was equally aware of her. Following breakfast, when Andromeda stopped by the loo, she came out of a cubicle to find the Hufflepuff waiting for her.
"Do you know why I'm here?" the girl asked, hands on skinny hips.
"Your bodily functions are of no interest to me." Andromeda began to wash her hands.
"I'm here to tell you to stop trying to steal my boyfriend!"
Andromeda placed her hand beneath the spell-air dryer.
"Did you hear what I said?" Mary Sullivan's voice rose to a screech.
"I heard, but I refuse to dignify such absurdity with a response."
The girl's face turned a mottled shade of red. "He's too nice to laugh in your face, but Ted thinks your crush is pathetic, and he wants you to stop staring at him."
Dark brows winged upward. "Is that what he tries to convey by staring at me? How curious. I thought it meant he fancied me."
"Fancy a pure-blood hag like you? Don't make me la—Aaahhh!" Mary cried out in shock when the water spilling from the tap suddenly diverted to splash her in the face.
Andromeda stalked out of the loo. Down the corridor, she could see a tall boy heading toward the main staircase. She used a Sonorous Charm to amplify her voice. "Hey, you!"
Ted swung around. He smiled when he saw her striding toward him.
She grabbed a fistful of his wrinkled robes and stood on tiptoe to look him in the eye. Since it was hard to think clearly in close, physical proximity, she said bluntly, "I don't like your girlfriend."
His eyes widened. "I don't have a girlfriend."
Mary Sullivan wasn't his girlfriend! The surge of joy she felt temporarily unhinged her Slytherin mind and made her act like a Gryffindor. Andromeda kissed Ted. Shocked responses of people around them brought her back to her senses. She let go of his robes and took off running.
He caught up to her near the statue of Fezzik the Faithful. She pulled him into the niche behind the smiling giant and did what she had wanted to do for a long, long time. She snogged him senseless.
They were flushed and panting when he cradled her face in his hands and murmured, "If I'm really in Charms and I've been hit with a sleep spell, I don't ever want to wake up."
She sifted her fingers through Ted's adorably messy hair. "I've never had a dream as good as this." Heart in her throat, she told him, "I've never felt this way before."
His lips brushed hers. "Neither have I, but I like it."
She smiled. "Would you go with me to Hogsmeade this weekend?"
Ted grinned. "That's what blokes do with their girlfriends, isn't it?"
That strange, but welcome sensation of happiness welled up inside her again. This time, Andromeda did not run away from the feeling. She embraced it, along with her boyfriend.
I don't write song fics, but sometimes songs—and their videos—inspire stories. When a friend of mine said the Avril Lavigne video for her song 'Girlfriend' could have been so much better 'if the Goth chick had stolen the boy from a stuck-up, airhead cheerleader instead of a nerdy girl,' I found myself thinking of the chapter of Moonlight and Shadow that I was writing. The plot bunny grew from a small scene in which Andromeda tell Tonks about an embarrassing moment when she told Ted, 'Hey, you, I don't like your girlfriend,' to a one shot explaining how that scene came about. I hope readers say 'Huzzah for plot were-rabbits' and review, and for any R/T readers, the scene will be in chapter 24. :D