Title: To Be Married
Pairing(s): Rodolphus/Andromeda, Andromeda/Ted
Word Count: 2 300
Warning(s): A touch of language, and a very brief discussion of sex in the context of marriage.
Notes: Written for hprarefest on LiveJournal with the prompt "Andromeda's attempt to elope is subverted and she is married off to the man she'd been betrothed to. Will they ever be able to find affection for each other is it a losing battle for happiness?" Many thanks to WeasleySeeker for beta'ing!
Summary: Andromeda is trapped in her betrothal to Rodolphus, having lost the chance to be with the man she loves.
The ring felt like it was burning on Andromeda's finger. Rodolphus had given it to her almost two months ago, slipping it onto her finger almost reverently. He had done it before the proposal was even out of his mouth, binding him to her before she knew what was happening – long before she had any chance to decline.
From the moment that she had received the ring, Andromeda had been unable to stop toying with it. She would spin the slender silver band, adorned with a chip of amethyst (amethyst for sobriety… what man would give his wife-to-be a ring with amethyst?) around and around her finger, slid it up and down, bumping it over the joint until her finger was so swollen that she could move it no longer. And every time she touched it, she thought about Rodolphus.
Rodolphus, to whom she was betrothed.
Rodolphus, to whom she would soon be married.
She looked up from her hands and forced a smile onto her lips to look at Rodolphus. He was sitting beside her, looking every bit the perfect aristocrat. Any girl should have been thrilled to have him for a husband, but Andromeda felt nothing but distaste. He bored her, and treated her like the dull, simpering sort of little lady that Narcissa was the perfect example of, but Andromeda was the antithesis to.
"Yes, Rodolphus?" she asked sweetly, fluttering her eyelashes and digging her nails into her palms to stop from hitting him across that impassive face of his.
'I wondered if you might fancy a walk after supper."
She forced an even sweeter smile. "Why, I would enjoy that very much, Rodolphus," she said.
"Fancy a fuck in the gardens, rather," Bellatrix said, a sneer curling her lips.
"Bellatrix Black!" Druella cried. Andromeda hid a laugh at her mother's scandalized expression. "That is no way for a young lady to speak! Apologize to Mr. Lestrange and to your sister immediately!"
"I shall not apologize for being honest. Honestly is a virtue – did you not know that, Mother?" Bellatrix batted her eyelashes, then looked very pointedly at Druella, whose cheeks flooded with colour.
"Do not talk back to me," Druella said rather shakily. Andromeda tittered a little and Bellatrix looked like a cat who had just been given a saucer of cream; she knew she had won.
"I apologise, Mr. Lestrange, Andromeda," Bellatrix told them in a sugared voice. "Do forgive me."
"Of course, of course…" Rodolphus was clearly fighting to keep a straight face. "You are very much forgiven."
"Yes… as he said… very much forgiven." Andromeda could hardly speak for trying to keep the laughter at her sister's faux-angelic, sanctimonious expression from coming into her voice.
"Why don't you two go out on your walk now?" Druella asked, still glaring sternly at Bellatrix.
Rodolphus stood up and offered his hand to Andromeda, who took it, any amusement she had been feeling at her sister's comments draining swiftly away. Rodolphus's forced seriousness was gone once more, replaced by the usual look of genuine seriousness that Andromeda found so insufferable.
Andromeda sighed, then reached out and took Rodolphus's hand, standing and exiting the dining room with him. She cast a desperate look back at Bellatrix, who wriggled her fingers at Andromeda as they went.
"Shall we walk in the gardens?" Rodolphus asked politely. Andromeda smothered a sneer – Narcissa would have adored being spoken took that way. She, Andromeda, hated it.
"If you desire it," she said, allowing a frosty note into her voice. Rodolphus looked hurt, but took Andromeda's arm in any case and led her out onto the grounds of Black Manor. The air was perfumed by summer flowers, and the white rose vines that climbed up the garden walls were stained pink and orange from the sunset. Andromeda gazed at the wall, her eyes falling upon the place where the roses had been damaged.
That was the place where Andromeda had tried to climb over the wall and been dragged back down.
Andromeda had been anticipating Rodolphus's proposal for some time, and though it came as no surprise, a part of Andromeda could still not believe that she was to be married to him.
But she would not be, not really. She was prepared.
When Andromeda first got wind that, perhaps, she would be told to marry Rodolphus Lestrange, she had promised herself to give him a fair chance. Perhaps marrying him would not be so very bad, she thought. Perhaps she would be able to get used to it.
But every time she spoke to him, she became more and more aware of how incredibly, painfully dull he was. He scarcely spoke, but to talk about money or politics, neither of which interested her in the slightest. And with every time she had to smile and pretend to care about what he was saying, she realized that she loved him even less than she had previously thought.
And why should she settle for a man she did not love, when she could have a man that she did?
A man like Ted Tonks…
Ted – sweet and kind and friendly in a way that Rodolphus could not even imagine…
Why should Andromeda settle for anything less than him?
She should not.
She would not.
Her bag was packed and stowed away under her bed, with most of the money she had to her name, a change of clothing and a few keepsakes – books, a journal, and a framed picture of her sisters.
Andromeda checked the bag quickly when she returned to her bedroom after the party, the ring freshly put upon her finger, to be sure that everything as there, then hid it beneath the bed once more and crossed to the window. She pulled back the lace curtains and bound them up with their ribbons to keep them out of the way while she fetched and lit a candle.
Holding her breath and praying that Ted would be out on the moors and watching her, she passed her hand – trying to avoid looking at Rodolphus's ring glistening in the candlelight – thrice before the flame slowly, and then thrice more quickly, then snuffed it out.
Her and Ted's distress signal. A sign that they had worked out long ago, to indicate that something had gone wrong. That she needed him.
She sat upon the window seat, clutching the extinguished candle with trembling hands, watching carefully, and she could have sworn that her heart swelled with joy when she saw a shower of silver sparks out on the moors – an indication from Ted that he was there.
She set the candle back down upon her desk, then picked up her bag, slinging it over her shoulder. She opened her bedroom door and peered up and down the hall to satisfy herself that her family was all abed.
Andromeda crept towards the stairs, wary of making even the slightest noise as she passed by her parents' and sisters' bedrooms. Only when she was downstairs, well out of earshot of those rooms, that she dared to breathe easy.
That proved to be a mistake.
"Where are you going, Andi?"
Andromeda jumped at the sound of Narcissa's voice. It was late – why wasn't she in bed?
"What's that bag? Are you going somewhere?" A note of panic crept into Narcissa's tone. "Andi! You're not- not… running away, are you?"
If Andromeda had been thinking rationally, she would have told Narcissa no, of course not, why on Earth would she do that? She would have told her to go back to bed and not to worry about her. But Andromeda was not thinking rationally. She panicked.
She bolted for the door, shoving Narcissa out of the way and running down the garden path while her little sister began to scream. Andromeda cursed the distance between herself and the wall that she would have to vault over to get off the grounds and out onto the moors, to Ted, to safety. It only seemed to get further away with every step she took towards it.
By the time she reached the wall, she could hear her father running behind her. In a frenzy, with strength she did not know that she had, Andromeda flung her bag over the wall, praying that it would land safely on the other side, then heaved herself up, digging her fingers into the familiar cracks in the stone.
She was nearly halfway to the top – so close – when she felt Cygnus's hand grab her ankle.
Andromeda screamed. She kicked her leg and lost her footing, clinging to the wall by her fingernails. The not-yet-budding rose vines were being smashed beneath her feet, and she came crashing down with a wail…
Rodolphus's voice – refined and soft but tinted with polite concern – brought Andromeda back to the present. She blinked slowly, realizing that she had been staring unseeingly at the damaged rose, and then quickly turned to her fiancé, hitching a smile onto her face.
"Yes, Rodolphus?" she asked politely.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Nothing," she said immediately, turning away so that he would not see the lie in her eyes – how could she tell him the way in which she was reliving her attempt to run away from him?
"Please don't lie to me, Andromeda."
Oh, how painfully polite he sounded, even when telling her not to lie. She had to clench her fists against slapping him – how she would have loved to, if only to make him angry so that he might display some emotion besides bland good manners and mild amusement at Bellatrix.
"Why do you want to know what I'm thinking?" she asked flatly, still staring resolutely away from him.
"Because I am to be married to you, and I would think it most rude to never take an interest in my wife's thoughts."
Andromeda could not restrain a snort. "Oh, you think that, do you? Yes, of course you do – I can tell by the way you asked me what my thoughts on the wedding were! Clearly, you took great interest in my opinions then!"
"Are you angry at me, Andromeda?"
"Am I angry?" She whirled to face him, incredulity painted all over her face. "How bloody stupid are you? Of course I'm angry! I never wanted to marry you, for God's sake!"
Rodolphus looked as though he had just been hit across the face. "You… didn't? Wh- why not?"
"Because! Because you never talk to me, and you're only marrying me at all because I'm a Black and marrying a Black the best way for you to improve your name, and because you are boring, Rodolphus!"
She broke off, chest heaving, and stared at him, and he stared back, blinking rather stupidly.
"You… aren't in love with me, then?" he asked at last, in a small and tremulous voice.
If Andromeda had had Bellatrix's nerve, she would have let out a loud, braying laugh at the very idea. As it was she only allowed her lip to curl and glared at him derisively.
"No, of course I'm not. What did you bloody think? Did you think that just because you shoved a ring onto my finger, I'd fall in love with you? Is that how love works in your world, Rodolphus?"
Rodolphus sighed, and now it was his turn to look away. Andromeda said nothing more, and he was silent too, until he finally murmured, "I suppose it is too late for me to renounce the proposal?"
"Far too late," Andromeda confirmed, rather grimly, then put on an imitation of her mother. "People would talk."
He fell silent again, but this time, it was a more deliberate silence, as though he was purposefully using the time to formulate the proper words. Finally he spoke, in the most carefully slow, measured voice that Andromeda had ever heard from him – quite a feat, considering how he normally spoke.
"Andromeda," he said, every word clearly being chosen very carefully, "if you are not in love with me, then I do not particularly wish to force it upon you…"
"You're marrying me; I think it's automatic–"
"Please hear me out," he said. She fell silent and he continued.
"Now, as I was saying, I do not particularly wish to force love upon you, but if it is too late to cancel the marriage without gossip, then we will have to be married…"
Andromeda bit her tongue and did not tell him that he was stating the obvious. His brow was furrowed; he was clearly putting everything he had into this speech.
"But, it need not be a… a very romantic marriage," he finished at last.
Andromeda raised one eyebrow, staring at him, nonplussed. "I do not believe I catch your meaning."
A flush was rising on his neck and cheeks. "I- I mean…" He dropped his voice to a whisper, as though someone were listening in, though they were quite alone. "I mean, that we need not… consummate the marriage, if you do not wish to, Andromeda."
She stared at him.
"It is the best I can do," he said, sounding shockingly helpless. "I cannot call off the marriage, I cannot hope to please you or make you fall in love with me – offering that our marriage be more a friendship than a romance is all that I can think to do!"
Andromeda said nothing, but she watched Rodolphus. His eyes were wide and imploring, begging that she accept this as a decent way of living, and Andromeda felt a tiny smile creep onto her face.
This was emotion he was showing – genuine emotion, for her. And that was enough to soften her, just a little bit.
"I suppose that that is a fair proposition," she said.