Author's Notes: Written for xBeautifulTragedy's "Make an Album Into a Story" Competition on the Harry Potter Fanfiction Challenges forum.
Album: Autumn Sky by Blackmore's Night
Disclaimer: I do not own the lyrics to any of the songs, nor do I own any of the characters.
It was making Andromeda crazy, having to sit here through another excruciating family dinner.
She gazed out the window of Black Manor, out across the grounds, and tried to block out the strained conversation. Every day, the five Black children were summoned to the supper table, and forced to spend one hour in so-called "pleasant conversation" with each other and their parents. It always culminated, usually about forty minutes in, in a vicious argument, usually between Bellatrix and Sirius, or else Bellatrix and Cygnus, and ended in twenty minutes of angry, stony silence, while everyone picked a place in the room and stared at it with empty faces, trying not to make eye contact with anyone.
The clock ticked on, tick, tock, tick, tock, and Andromeda waited to be allowed to leave.
At last it struck seven ringing bells, and there was a scramble to leave the dinner table.
Andromeda hesitated at the bottom of the stairs. Bellatrix, Narcissa, Regulus and Sirius had already run for their bedrooms, for safety from their parents. Andromeda watched them disappear through doorways, and then glanced back into the dining room, where the adults were still sitting.
She turned away from the stairs, and made for the door, the one that lead outside, into the grounds and, if you could climb a stone wall and find a safe spot to touch down on the other side, out onto the highlands.
The door creaked softly as Andromeda eased it open, and she glanced around to be sure no one had heard it. Satisfied she was undetected, she slipped out onto the grounds of Black Manor, into the early evening air.
She stole across the gardens and through the trees, until she came to the wall that separated the purity of Black Manor from the serenity of the highlands. Andromeda, who was skilled at sneaking out, having done it more times than she cared to admit, heaved herself up by the branches of an old oak tree, and over the wall, falling cat-like on the other side.
Almost the second her feet touched down, Andromeda was filled with a sense of equal parts elation and relaxation. There was the freedom, of course, of being outside Black Manor, in a place where no one could tell her that she wasn't acting like a proper Pureblood, but there was also an excitement to sneaking out, an adrenaline rush that never got old, no matter how many times Andromeda climbed over that wall.
She set off across the moors, feeling the wind lift her hair off her neck, caressing her with the sweet, clear scent of the outdoors.
Andromeda would have happily left the Manor, and her family behind for the highlands. She loved everything about them, and couldn't understand her parents, who said that they were dangerous. But then, perhaps the danger was a part of the attraction.
She splashed through a brook that carved its way between two swells, and up a small crest, to the patch of heather that Andromeda considered the center of the moors. It wasn't literally the center, of course, but it was always from there that she began. If she cared to go on a ghost hunt in early morning mists, then that patch of heather was where she would search for the ghosts from. If she cared to create for herself a fantasy world of kings and knights, she would treat the heather like a palace, and all events in her fantasy would surround it. And when, like tonight, she merely wanted to stretch out and have the highlands purge her of everything to do with her family, she would lie in the heather and breathe in its scent, and shut her eyes, and feel like she was being cleansed.
Andromeda opened her eyes lazily, and smiled. "Hello Ted."
She had met Ted Tonks years ago, in this very place, and while she had initially shied away from him – he was a Mudblood, after all – they had eventually become close friends. Ted, and his dog Branwell, often joined in Andromeda's elaborate play-acting, as a brave knight and his horse, or a king and his servant. Ted was the only person who knew of Andromeda's fantasy world, and he loved it every bit as much as she did.
He sat down in the heather next to her. "What brings you out tonight?"
Andromeda sighed. She didn't like to talk about her family to Ted. It brought up the memory of her initial reaction to him – fear and disgust at his blood – and that was a memory Andromeda would just as soon forget.
"Just had to get away," she muttered.
"Family business, eh?"
She sighed again. "You know me too well."
"Face it, Dromeda, your family's never going to get any better."
"You don't even know them!"
"I've heard you talk about them enough to know they don't have the first clue how to deal with a girl like you."
"A girl like me?" Andromeda asked with a teasing grin. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"A girl who needs some excitement," Ted answered seriously. "They want you all settled down. If they understood anything, they'd just let you come out here. Look, Dromeda." He waved his arm in the direction of the Manor. "That's not a life for you."
"What sort of life is for me, then?"
Ted blew his fringe up off his forehead and looked at Andromeda with an expression of equal parts exasperation, confusion and affection. Andromeda looked back at him, waiting for his answer. Then, very slowly, as though waiting for confirmation that what he was doing was all right, Ted leaned forward and kissed Andromeda very lightly on the lips.
"Please, be my girlfriend," he said softly.
Andromeda looked at him, surprised, then smiled.
"Of course," she said, and kissed him, just as lightly.