Author's Notes: Written for the January 5th Prompt of the Day on Hogwarts Online II – "Keep moving. Don't look back. It'll all be okay. Somehow."

This is a bit of an alternative interpretation for Andromeda, at least for me… hmm…

)O(

Andromeda Black was not a careless girl.

She had known since she was twelve that she wanted to get out of the House of Black, and from the very day she had decided that, she had known it would not be something that could be accomplished quickly. She could not simply run away – she had no money, she would not be able to retrieve anything from the vault after the Blacks realized she was gone, and she did not fancy the notion of having to work for a living.

So it was that Andromeda had decided the best method of removing herself permanently from the House of Black, ensuring that she would not be chased down, and that she would have someone to provide for her, was to marry a Mudblood.

Ted Tonks was perfect for this.

The man was sweet, Andromeda thought, but so very gullible. It had taken no effort at all from her point to convince him that she loved him, and wanted to run away with him. Andromeda had planned matters to perfection, and now, in the dead of night, the two of them were creeping away from Black Manor, and for the first time in five years, Andromeda was having doubts.

Narcissa was back at that Manor, and Bellatrix. If Andromeda went through with this and ran away with Ted, she would never see either of them again. And Rabastan – their marriage had only just been finalized. The last time she had seen him, he had been ecstatic, prattling on about what their wedding should be like. Did Andromeda really want to leave them? What for? For some abstract notion of morality?

No.

"Ted," Andromeda breathed, freezing in place. "I can't do this. I can't. I have to go back."

No! No, no, no! screamed a voice inside Andromeda. Don't go back, stupid girl! You'll ruin everything! This is your only chance!

"What?" Ted whispered. He turned to look at her, and his eyes filled with horror. "You promised. You can't turn back now."

"I can't do this, Ted… I – can't leave them like this." Shut up, shut up, Andi, shut up!
"I'm sorry, I said I could, but I can't…"

What was she saying? She had spent so long planning this, and now she was letting some soppy memories of her sisters and her fiancé get in the way? Are you out of your mind, Andromeda?

"Yes you can." Ted tugged on her arm. "You have to. You can't–"

"Don't tell me what I can't do!" Andromeda burst out, surprising herself. "You don't have authority over me, you know! I'm a Black, and you're just a Mudblood!"

The second the words left her mouth when Andromeda felt a wave of shock. She had never called Ted a Mudblood before, even though the thought was always in the back of her mind. She couldn't call him that. She had spent so long training herself not to call him that so that when this time came, he would consider her a friend. And now, in one ridiculous moment of emotion, she had ruined it…

"T – Ted…" she whispered, the shock audible in her voice. "I'm sorry…"

Ted's eyes had narrowed to slits.

"Mudblood?" he asked, spitting the words out. "I'm a Mudblood? Is that right?"

"No, Ted, I–"

"You're sorry?" Andromeda had never heard Ted sound so bitter. "You know what? You don't have to come with me if I'm that disgusting to you. If you think I'm a filthy Mudblood, maybe you'd better stay at home with the other Blacks and marry Rabastan Lestrange instead, just like your parents want you to–"

"No! Ted, it's not like that!" She sank to the ground, burying her face in her hands as though ashamed, though she did it only to hide her face while she tried to summon tears, to seem as regretful as she could. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say it."

There was a long pause while Ted calmed himself. Mudblood was a term he hated completely, and he had always thought that Andromeda shared that hatred. But Ted was, by nature, forgiving, and Andromeda knew she could twist that.

"Forgive me," said Andromeda quietly, in her best broken-bird voice. "I'm– just– this is so strange to me. The idea of– of leaving home…"

"But," said Ted, crouching down beside her, "you're doing the right thing. You're leaving behind people who you don't love for someone you do. For me. That's right, isn't it?"

Andromeda looked at him.

Merlin, did he really think things were that simple?

His wide, innocent eyes betrayed no hint of irony, or even of doubt. Yes, Andromeda thought, staring at him in disbelief, he really did believe that Andromeda's choice had been a simple matter of her loving him more than she loved her sisters. More than she loved anyone who had been part of her life before.

A part of Andromeda – the part with Bellatrix's voice – laughed. Stupid Mudblood.

Andromeda almost laughed out loud, so ridiculous was the idea that she could possibly care about anyone more than she cared about Bellatrix, about Narcissa, about Rabastan. But no, she couldn't laugh. She had put so much effort into convincing Ted that she loved him – she could not ruin that illusion now.

"Yes," she whispered, taking the greatest of care to keep her voice as soft and pitiful-sounding as she could. "Yes. I'm so sorry. I'm just… upset." She slowly stood up, smiling weakly at Ted. "I want to go with you. I love you."

Cheap words.

"I love you too, Dromeda," Ted told her.

Don't call me that.

He got to his feet too, putting his arm gently around Andromeda's shoulders, leading her away from Black Manor. She cast one look back over her shoulder at it as they walked away.

Seeing it retreat into the distance, the reality of Andromeda's situation hit her. There was a part of her – and not a small part either – that had been convinced, she thought, that things would never come to this. But here she was, walking away from the life she knew, with a Mudblood on her arm.

You needed to get away.

"Just keep moving," Ted whispered in her ear. "Don't look back. It'll be okay."

It'll be okay, Andromeda repeated in her mind, nodding. It'll be okay.

Somehow.

)O(

Fin