Disclaimer: As always I own nothing but the original characters and the situations all characters find themselves in. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy.
Accepting Her Fate
Walking down the school's many hallways Andromeda was constantly tempted to fall to her knees, raise her hands pleadingly in the air, and beg to know what on earth she could have possible done to offend the cosmos to the degree where they'd cause her to fall in love with Ted Tonks as punishment. Had she unknowing killed someone? Been so mean to someone that they killed his or herself? People really were reincarnated as animals and she'd dissected the wrong one? What could she possibly have done to deserve this?
"Why me?" Andromeda muttered under her breath. "Why me?"
Doomed. She was absolutely doomed. And worse, she wasn't only dooming herself, she was dooming that adorable child in the mirror too. She was dooming that poor girl to share half of Ted Tonk's genes. The Black genes were incredibly strong and ideal, but somehow Andromeda just couldn't see them as being tough enough to completely eradicate the Muggleborn's inferior bloodlines. All Blacks were incredibly good looking-well, except for her younger sister when she was trying to pull off Lucius's snotty look. Then Narcissa looked far from her best, Andromeda thought with a shake of her head. But by and large they were all very attractive and seriously brilliant, but were her side's looks and smarts enough to override Ted's plainness and average intelligence? Well except for his eyes, she silently amended. She wouldn't mind any child of hers inheriting those. And okay, maybe he wasn't bad looking, he just wasn't as good looking as the men in her family, but who were? And when he applied himself he did well enough in school, better than a lot of the other morons in his house.
But still, with those Muggle genes her daughter's future was looking grim. Her daughter could end up married to some social outcast with no job, money, or future.
And it would be all her fault for not picking a better man to be the girl's father.
Not that Ted would be a bad father, in fact that man would probably be a very good one. He was kind, patient, and would probably spoil the little girl rotten. Which meant that she'd be stuck setting all the rules and enforcing them, but she liked bending people to her superior will so that wasn't exactly a bad thing in her book, Andromeda silently acknowledged. And he'd certainly be a better parent then a lot of her male social peers, who would have otherwise donated the other half of her hypothetical daughter's genes. Ted at least would never treat his daughter like she was property or a pawn to be used as he saw fit regardless of her thoughts and feelings.
So their imaginary daughter wouldn't be as good looking, brilliant or as Slytherin as she was…but she would have a better father, childhood, and a good idea of what a girl should look for in a man.
Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all.
Shaking her head Andromeda forced herself to face the fact that she needed to get her head on straight and accept the fact that no matter how much she berated and insulted Ted in her head she couldn't talk herself out of being in love with the Hufflepuff.
She was quickly cluing into the fact that thinking badly of him now actually made her feel bad. And she was feeling bad enough as it was.
Deep in her dark thoughts Andromeda was almost to the Great Hall when she happened to spy a familiar Hufflepuff leaning up against a nearby wall. Oh goody, the Slytherin thought darkly, more proof that the fates had it in for her.
Obviously spotting her as well Andromeda watched as Ted straightened and headed in her direction, looking rather like a puppy who'd been waiting eagerly for his master to return home from school.
He really was so adorable.
Doing her best to push that thought aside Andromeda adopted a cool, disinterested look automatically. "What do you want?" She asked bluntly when he came to a stop in front of her, giving the appearance that if he had a tail he'd be wagging it.
"I just wanted to make sure that we're still meeting after dinner to study." Ted told her with a wide smile. "Even though you hate me."
Andromeda slowly raised an eyebrow. "You like the idea that I hate you that much?"
"Idiots like me are easily made happy." He answered with a knowing little gleam in his eyes that conveyed to Andromeda clearly that the Hufflepuff was unfortunately not as stupid as she'd used to think he was. He had figured out that her harsh words had been a smoke screen intended to disguise the fact that she hadn't jinxed him for calling her Andy. Damn.
"You are an idiot."
Ted just kept smiling and looking at her questioningly.
Belatedly remembering his question Andromeda wanted to tell him that no, they weren't going to be studying together, tonight or any other night. She wanted to run away as fast as she could. And it was that thought that had her digging her heels in with every ounce of stubborn pigheadedness she possessed. Because she was a Black. Blacks ran from no one. Especially from Hufflepuff Muggleborns who were as dangerous as a three legged bunny rabbit. Physically anyway. He was as dangerous as the Dark Lord when it came to her heart apparently.
But in the end it would be too cowardly to stop the study sessions, especially since if she was being honest with herself she didn't want to end the tutoring either. She actually wanted to spend as much time with the Hufflepuff as possible.
"No, we'll meet as planned. You won't pass into seventh year without my help."
Actually he could pass sixth year having caught up enough to get by, but neither pointed that out as they headed inside the Great Hall side by side without another word.
To say she didn't have much of an appetite that night would be an understatement. She pretty much picked at what she did put on her plate and silently counted down the time until she could leave the table without drawing unwanted attention on herself. Not that she was all that eager to head to a classroom to be with Ted alone of course, that was absurd, Andromeda told herself repeatedly, with a firmness that accepted no argument.
Heading out of the Great Hall as soon as propriety allowed the Slytherin hurried down the hallways on her way to the potions classroom she'd reserved for the night. Thank Merlin it was potions; that at least would require both of their complete attentions since the Hufflepuff had a habit of almost blowing them up. Not that the potion they'd be working on should be explosion causing, but one was always possible when her Hufflepuff was doing the potion making.
Her Hufflepuff. Oh dear heavens.
Arriving at the proper classroom Andromeda got busy getting out the required ingredients, knowing Ted would be a while given his perchance for eating everything in sight. And once that was done she had nothing left to do but to take a seat and brood over the latest and completely unexpected turn in her life plans.
Ten minutes later, when she heard the sound of the classroom door being opened, Andromeda slid smoothly off her chair as she turned to watch him come into the room.
Immediately she noticed that while his book bag was visible on his shoulder Ted's left hand was behind his back, obviously indicating that he was hiding something from her sight. Eyes narrowing suspiciously Andromeda's eyes warned of dire consequences if he sprung some sort of surprise on her. She'd had enough surprises.
Coming to a stop in front of her Ted brought his hidden hand back around, revealing the fact that he was holding a bouquet of purple irises and yellow roses. "These are for you."
Taking them from him automatically Andromeda found herself struck dumb, something that had rarely happened to her in the past but seemed to be happening a lot now that she was involved with the Muggleborn. She'd received flowers before, but she didn't think that he'd brought her her favorite flowers by sheer dumb luck. He'd remembered, Andromeda thought as she looked up from the blossoms to meet his gaze. He'd remembered.
Smiling over the girlie look that had come onto her face Ted knew better than to let her see how much he was enjoying her reaction.
Reading his face easily enough Andromeda went gooey inside over how happy her acceptance of his gift made him. He really was so adorably…lovable. She'd never stood a chance once she'd been forced to really see him, she thought with a sigh.
And she wasn't going to run away from what she knew to be right.
Setting the bouquet on the nearest desk Andromeda stared at the Hufflepuff for several long heartbeats and then, going against every Black instinct, she reached out and hugged the Hufflepuff, holding him tight as she relaxed against him.
The Hufflepuff in question froze only for a moment before he wrapped his arms around her waist as well, cradling her just close. Turning his head Ted breathed in the scent of her hair, making a low sound of pleasure. "If I knew flowers equaled hugs I would have brought you a bouquet everyday."
Laughing softly Andromeda couldn't help but smile too.
Holding her as long as she would allow Ted made no protest when she finally pulled away, the Hufflepuff simply moving his hands from her waist to her cheeks, cradling her beautiful face between his hands, his thumbs stroking the soft skin there.
And understanding what he was silently asking permission to do Andromeda nodded her head and leaned in, pressing her lips against his.
The kiss was brief and sweet, but full of promise of things to come between them.
Drawing back Andromeda reached out with one hand to draw his bangs back from his eyes so that she could look into them without any of his hair getting in the way. "I'm a Black. I'll always be a Black. I might change a little, but my core nature is never going to change. And all my relatives with the exception of my cousin Sirius are going to be wishing you to hell at the very least, plotting to send you there early is even more likely. No good can come of you wanting to be around me. You know that, right?"
Tightening his arms back around her to keep her in place Ted smiled at her. "Being around you is a very good thing in my book."
"You're book is missing a number of pages. Like the ones that should have been devoted to common sense."
"You aren't the first to think so."
Letting his hair flop back down over his eyes Andromeda figured this was about as mushy as she could handle at the moment. "Okay, enough of that. We have a potion to work on. And I'll still punish you horribly if you almost blow us up again. Flowers or no flowers."
Thankfully the potions lesson went off without a hitch and the two left the classroom in the same shape as when they'd entered. A little cleaner actually, since Andromeda was fussy about that sort of thing. And as usual Ted insisted on seeing his lady back to the hallway leading to her dormitory, though this time she didn't utter so much as a peep against it. In fact she hooked her arm through his and carried her flowers proudly.
"These really are lovely flowers."
"They are your favorites." Smiling over at her Ted figured that if a person really could die of happiness, he didn't have much longer to live. But hey, at least he'd die incredibly happy, with Andromeda being the last thing he saw, the Hufflepuff thought with a humorous gleam in his eyes.
"Does anyone know you got these for me?" Andromeda asked, forcing herself to turn her thoughts to more serious matters. "I can't advertise the fact that you gave them to me. People can't know we're…so close until after we're both out of school. I won't be here to protect you next year and my housemates will come at you to earn points with my older sister and her ilk."
Ted wanted to protest the fact that he could take care of himself, but he wasn't stupid enough to think that she wouldn't be able to shoot that argument down in less than a minute. He'd spent too much time in the Medical Wing recently, and that was with everyone just speculating that they were romantically involved. If they admitted it then it probably would get worse.
"So I can't tell anyone that you're my girl?"
Andromeda gave him a dark look. "Just when did I say that I was your girl, exactly?"
"If you're not my girl than what are we to each other?" Ted shot back impishly, riding too big of a high to be overly cautious. "You said yourself we'll still be close a year from now."
Drat. He had her there. "Let's just say that we're close and leave it at that. And just between us for the time being, so that you don't end up dead in a hallway being eaten by Filch's cat."
Ted grimaced. "That would suck worse than Pepsi."
"Yes, so visualize that every time you get tempted to brag."
"Do I have to? That's the kind of image that could haunt a guy."
Looking over at him Andromeda shook her head at him. "What am I going to do with you, honestly?"
Grinning, Ted looked at her with all the love and devotion he felt for his girl. "Take care of me forever and ever?"
The Slytherin stared at him for a long, drawn out moment. "I suppose someone's got to do it."
A Year And A Bit Later
Andromeda Black stood off to the side, allowing the families of the returning students to crowd in close to the Hogwarts Express as it came to a stop with a loud, piercing whistle. Most eyes were on the train, though there were those in the crowd who glanced her way, obviously wondering why she was there. It couldn't be that she was there to welcome home her youngest sister, everyone knew that she'd been disowned. Her parents were waiting for their youngest far away from their middle child, and you wouldn't know that the Blacks were aware of Andromeda's presence to observe them.
Everyone in the Wizarding World knew that the Black family has disinherited Andromeda upon her education's completion. No one knew precisely what had transpired to cause the girl's disinheritance, all anyone knew for sure that was within a week of Andromeda's return from Hogwarts she had been written out of her family's will and all the Blacks save for Sirius Black refused to acknowledge her existence at all.
What she'd been doing since was a mystery, she hadn't been seen much since then so that there had been those who'd whispered that the girl's older sister and her friends had killed the disgraced Black.
Now here she was, all alone, quietly standing in the back while watching the students disembarking the train's compartments.
Acutely aware of the questioning looks she was getting Andromeda ignored them all. She was tempted to check her appearance one last time, but she squashed the urge, deeming it unnecessary. Even if her hair did tend to frizz up a little in humid weather.
Thinking about her appearance had the Slytherin distracted, but she still spotted her sister when Narcissa disembarked from the train. Watching closely, hoping that her sister would look her way, Andromeda gave a little sigh of disappointment when Lucius disembarked right after Cissy. There was no point in trying to get the girl's attention now.
Going back to her people watching Andromeda felt her dark thoughts lift as she spotted the man she was waiting for as soon as he stepped off the train. Not surprisingly he was surrounded by classmates, all who seemed to feel the need to talk to him despite the fact that they'd had the whole train ride home to talk to each other.
She wasn't tempted to brave the crowds though, he knew where she was. And she wouldn't mind it if those crowds dispersed quite a bit before he made his way over to her.
No such luck.
Too eager to see his girl to stay and chat Ted Tonks quickly loaded his trunk onto a trolley and started wheeling his way towards the back of the room as quickly as the crowds would let him. A wide grin stretched across his face by the time he'd gotten within a few feet of her the Hufflepuff abandoned the cart completely, ran to her, and shocked her and everyone else in the watching crowd by actually picking her up and twirling her around.
"Put me down, you idiot!" Cheeks flushing red Andromeda gave the blonde a look that said Ted was in for a world of hurt once she got him alone.
"But I'm so happy." Wisely putting her down Ted didn't let her go, simply pulling her into a bone crushing cuddle. "I missed you so much. I don't ever want to go that long without being able to see you ever again."
Cheeks going red for a whole other reason Andromeda successfully fought to keep her pleasure at his words hidden. "We're in public. Behave."
"But everyone can know you're my girl now." Ted all but sang the words as he beamed at her. "You're going to marry me, and we're going to live happily ever after."
"I haven't said I'll marry you." Andromeda hissed, though there was no heat behind her words.
"But you are, and we're going to have a beautiful baby boy and I'm going to be the envy of everyone, just you wait and see."
Andromeda was correcting him before she thought her words through. "A girl."
"A girl." Ted agreed as he drew back but took one of her hands in his. "But I won't compromise on our happily ever after. We have to have that. You have to love me forever and ever and ever."
A hint of a smile teasing her lips, Andromeda squeezed the hand that held hers. "I suppose that's not too much to ask."