The Sugar Quill
Author: Songbird  Story: The Luckiest  Chapter: Default
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“So

This is my new Ted/Andromeda series. It’s an “expansion” of Family History in the sense that I’m using the world, characters and instances created in that fic in this one, too- so if you want to know how Ted and Andromeda initially met, I suggest you head over to Chapter Four of Family History eventually. But for now, enjoy this!

 

This fic was originally written as a birthday present for the fantastic Dogstar who quite simply rocks my socks, and beta’d by Genesse, who is quite roxy, too.

 

The song used is “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds.

 

---

 

The Luckiest

 

I don’t get

Many things right the first time

In fact

I am told

That a lot

 

It’s the summer after fourth year, and the hot, sweltering kind of day that makes you want to crawl into the basement with buckets of ice, and Sirius and I have sought refuge in the one place where we are undisturbed from the rest of our family. Unfortunately, that place is my bedroom. Which happens to be on the top floor of Black’s Park, and feels ten times hotter than the rest of the house.

 

“MILTON!” I yell downstairs for our house-elf, not bothering to get up from the comfortably cool marble floor. “Milton, honestly, are you ever going to make it up here with that lemonade? Please?” I grimace at my cousin with annoyance. “He’s probably died on his way up here.”

 

“Don’t be cruel,” Sirius laughs, pulling out his wand. “Shall I Summon him?”

 

“Oh, and I’m cruel?” I chuck an apple-core at him. “Don’t even think about it.”

 

“All right, all right!” He raises his arms in mock surrender before swinging himself back on my bed with his book.

 

“And you have got to stop reading, it’s making me nervous,” I tell him. “Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you touch a book in your free time before, other than to build something out of it.”

 

“Well, times change, cousin dearest,” he laughs.

 

The Dark Arts: A Guide to Self-Protection?” I thought I recognized the book as one of our schoolbooks. “Sirius, are you trying to get yourself hexed into the next century? Put that away, your Mum and Bellatrix are going to go spare if-“

 

“They won’t see, and stop being such a bloody coward, honestly. Anyway, this is important.”

 

“Homework?”

 

“Did you not just hear me say it was important?”

 

“Oh, ha, ha, ha. What’s so important, then? Oh, Merlin’s pants, Sirius. What dimwitted thing have you done now that you need to look up the counterjinx for?”

 

“That hurts, Ada, it really does.” He looks down at me from where he’s lying on my bed, and his expression changes, and he actually looks solemn for probably the first time in his life. “Look, I can’t tell you, I’m sorry. I’m trying to help one of my friends. Just drop it.”

 

“Fine. Milton!” I exclaim happily as our old elf trots into my room, balancing a jug of fresh lemonade, a platter of sandwiches and a plate of watermelon slices on his head. “This is brilliant, Mil, thanks.”

 

“Milton is so sorry Miss Ada and Master Sirius had to wait so long,” the old elf croaks. “This heat is not doing the Mistress any favors, and Milton has been very busy tending to her. Milton apologizes.”

 

“That’s all right,” I say, casting Sirius a warning look so he doesn’t say anything mean- sometimes he messes with Milton and Kreacher, just for a laugh.  “Do you want some lemonade, Mil? You look like you need it.”

 

“Miss Ada is too kind, and Milton is much obliged but Milton knows his place. Milton has some water downstairs. But, oh, Milton almost forgot!” He extracts a letter from his pillow-case. “Milton has a letter from Miss Ada, it just came.” He hands me the letter, bows low to both of us and scurries out of my room. I curiously turn around the envelope, addressed to me in unfamiliar handwriting, and slide it open to find a Muggle photograph of a sunny beach, emblazoned with the word “BOURNEMOUTH” in large, orange lettering. I turn over the picture of the beach and read,:

 

Dear Andromeda (do you have a nickname? Only it seems like such a bother to say such a long name all the time),

 

Greetings from Bournemouth! My grandparents took me here for a day, and it was just brilliant. The Sea was all blue and gigantic and it was sunny and we went swimming and everything! Other than that, I’ve not been doing much, other than playing lots of football with my brothers.  Do they teach you about football in Muggle Studies? They should, it’s honestly the most important difference between Wizards and Muggles- Quidditch and Football. Remind me to show you how to play when we get back to school. I’m writing to you because I have discovered, now that I’m a couple hundred miles away from you, that I sort of miss you. I’m as surprised as you are! But I thought you had a right to know that. I hope you’re well, and your sisters aren’t being nasty (you see? I do listen when you tell me stuff) and you’re having a good summer. And if you’re not, just concentrate on September first and going back to Hogwarts. And seeing me, of course, because you miss me too. Right?. Tell Sirius I say hello, and if he wants to make the Quidditch team this time ‘round, he ought to be practicing his arse off.

Your Friend,

 

Ted T.

 

I put the picture –I think it must be one of those postcard things, like our owl-cards- down and stare at Sirius, completely bemused. “Ted Tonks says you need to practice more Quidditch,” I tell my eagerly awaiting cousin.

 

“Ted Tonks, eh? What’s he writing to you for?”

 

“I have no idea,” I admit. I look up at Sirius with wonder in my eyes. “D’you know,” I say, slowly. “I think he fancies me.” As Sirius chortles and teases, I reread my postcard, thinking about the blonde boy with the too-loud laugh who I bonded with two years ago, in the hospital wing. I was in there for curse-wounds; he’d gotten into a pretty bad Quidditch accident. We were both in too much pain to sleep, so we stayed up all night, chatting about our so very different lives. I told him all about Bella, and why my own sister would hex me with something that nasty, and he told me about growing up as a Muggle-born, how weird things kept happening to him and his brothers teased him about it. After that, we stayed as friendly a Muggle-born Gryffindor and a Black in Slytherin can dare- meeting “coincidentally” in Hogsmeade, in the library, whenever Bella and her stupid, meddlesome friends weren’t looking. But… well, I thought we were supposed to be friends. I never would have thought that he, you know, liked me like that. I mean, he’s sweet, and rather good looking, and he makes me laugh, and there was this one time when we were playing some Quidditch that I looked at him and my stomach did this funny swooping thing, but, Merlin, that might have been the broomstick.

 

“Well? Do you fancy him back?” Sirius has even put down his book for a second, gazing at me questioningly.

 

“I don’t… maybe.” I say, slowly. “I’m not sure. Oh, stop grinning like that, you big prat.”

 

“Well,” Sirius says good-naturedly, gobbling down the last sandwich, “at least now I don’t have to worry about tempting Mum and Bella’s wrath by reading about Defense.”

 

“What?”

 

“Oh, come on,” he shrugs. “If they find out you’re going out with a Muggle-born? You might as well chuck yourself out the window now.”

----

Dear Ted.

 

Thank you for the postcard from Bournemouth! I really hope you don’t think you know you don’t have to write me letters all the time for me to like you for us to be friends. Because you don’t, and I would be friends with you either way. And I like being friends with you.

 

I think we should stay I hope you don’t think I want want us to be friends too.

 

I GIVE UP! I HATE BOYS!!!!

---

 

A few weeks later, we’re back on the Hogwarts Express. Sirius ran off with his friends the minute he saw them, and for a second, Cissy looked like she might ask me to sit with her, only to change her mind once she saw the look on Bella’s face. There are times when, really, I cannot stand my family. “Do you want to sit with me, Ada?”

 

Regulus, sweet little Regulus, starts at Hogwarts today, looking so grown-up in his robes. For a second, I feel a hundred years old.

 

“That’s all right,” I say, smiling at him. “You go make some friends of your own.” Conveniently leaving out how, apart from his brother, I’m probably the greatest friend-deterrent you could have in Slytherin House, and he is definitely going to Slytherin. Auntie will be so proud. Sighing, I kiss my mother goodbye –“Now, at least try not to embarrass us too much this year, Andromeda”- and drag my trunk through the Hogwarts Express. I hate the first day of school. It always makes it so blatant that I haven’t got any proper friends, because everyone’s too busy catching up with their real friends to pay too much attention to me, their Charms-Club-friend, or their Muggle-Studies-friend, or their Can-I-get-your-Transfiguration-notes-friend. Once classes have started, it’s not as easy to spot, and therefore harder to care, but today…

 

I find an empty compartment, shove my trunk inside and curl up against the window, fishing a book out of my trunk. Ted got me Pride and Prejudice at the end of last year, after I passed my Muggle Studies exam, saying it was one of the most famous Muggle books. I didn’t dare touch it all summer, but I’ve been really looking forward to reading it now. I open the book, and find a little note scribbled into the inside of the book:

 

To Andromeda-

I think I should warn you now: Muggle society is nothing like this any more. And Muggle boys certainly aren’t all like, what’s his name? Mr. Darcy. So don’t get your hopes up. Still, I hope reading this brightens up your summer!

Ted

 

I feel horrible, absolutely horrible. I sort of froze after that letter from Ted, never even wrote him back, and now I just feel like an idiot for pushing away the one person at Hogwarts to whom I might have been more than just their in-between-friend. Mind made up, I get up and walk through the train, still clutching my book in one hand. A surprising amount of people smile at me, and I peer into every compartment, until I find Ted’s blonde head. He’s sitting with a couple of other Gryffindors and a few Hufflepuffs, mainly Muggle-borns by the look of it, and I make extra-sure that neither Cissy nor Bella are to be seen before sliding open the compartment door.

 

“Hello, everyone,” I mumble, blushing as everyone’s head turns to look at me. “Um, Ted? Could I speak with you for a moment, please?”

 

He frowns at me, but in the general murmur of “Hiya, Andromeda,” he gets up and we’re facing each other in the corridor.

 

“Hello,” I say, my voice measured. “I, uh, I hope you had a good summer?”

 

“I did, thank you,” he replies in the same, careful voice. “You?”

 

“Rather lousy, but that was to be expected. I, um- thank you, for-“ I lamely point to the book I’m still clutching. “I’ve only just started it, though. But thank you for your note.”

 

“That’s not the only note I wrote you,” he says, flatly.

 

“Yes! I, um, thank you, for your letter, it was lovely to hear from you,” I splutter.

 

“Was it?”

 

“It was.”

 

“So lovely you could hardly write back because you were so overwhelmed by the loveliness of it all?” He snaps. “I get it, all right? I’m a Mudblood; you don’t want this. I’ll leave you alone from now on.”

 

“Ted!” I exclaim shocked. “Ted, no! Stop it! That’s not what I…”  I grab his hand as he’s about to turn away from me. “I am so sorry I never wrote back to you. I truly am, that’s what I wanted to tell you, that’s why I came to look for you. I don’t know why I didn’t, and I’m really sorry, and you were right- I did miss you, over the summer, and I hope we can still be friends, and if you want to go out with me, maybe we can even do that, once, and see what it’s like, and-“

 

He looks completely puzzled for a moment, and then he breaks out in laughter. “You’re killing me.”

 

“What?”

 

“Did you- oh, Lord, Andromeda, did you think I wanted to go out with you?”

 

“I, um, I- well-“ Oh, no. I feel blood rushing to my face, and I feel like the biggest idiot in the world. Of course he doesn’t want to go out with me, of course he just wants to be friends. But then why am I so disappointed? I suddenly realize I’m still clutching his hand, and let go of it quickly, as though scalded.

 

He raises his eyebrows, still grinning like mad. “Do you want to go out with me?”

 

“I, um,” I falter. “Maybe?”

 

“Well, maybe we should try it out. Once, to, what did you say? See what it’s like?”

 

“Oh,” I say, blushing harder than ever. “Really?”

 

“Yeah. It could be fun, right? First Hogsmeade weekend?”

 

“I, um. Yes. That would be nice.” I stammer. “Ted, listen I’m so sorry about-“

 

“It’s all right. Hey, did you make prefect?”

 

“No,” I say, laughing. “Though I think it’s reasonable not to expect people to submit to my lack of authority. I think I saw Bestian Gibbons with a badge earlier, though, so we might as well all kill ourselves now. Did you?”

 

Ted shakes his head and laughs, his too-loud laugh that makes people stare, and makes me feel like I’ve just been hugged. “No, no, I’m not much of a figure of authority either. But anyway, um, do you want to sit with us?”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yeah, of course. Come on, fetch your stuff and sit with us, it’ll be fun. We’ve got a spare seat.”

 

“I-“ Stunned, but grinning, I nod. “I’ll just get my trunk, and then I’ll be back, all right?” Bella’s going to kill me if she finds out. But I’m surprised to find that I don’t really care.

 

---

 

With out friendship restored, as the school year begins I find myself relying on Ted more and more for laughs, listening and comfort. He shows me how to play football on a brilliant, sunny Saturday in September, and, with some of his friends, we start the Hogwarts Interhouse Dating Betting Pool, where my years of watching people and being a bit of a loner finally do me some good, when I win five galleons for accurately predicting that Head Boy Fabian Prewett will dump that horrible Kendra Zabini before the end of September. For the first time in my five years at Hogwarts, I’m actually finding myself almost behind on homework because I’ve got better things to do than do it. And it helps that Bella’s off doing goodness-knows-what with the AAPA and that brutish boyfriend of hers, so she’s not in my way the entire time. I’m still careful, of course. Careful not to stop to talk to Ted at the Gryffindor table, careful not to look for him in a crowded courtyard, careful not to look too happy when he accidentally-on-purpose runs into me after Herbology.

 

On the Friday before Halloween, I’m sitting having lunch at the farthest end of Slytherin table, trying to finish the required reading for Professor Slughorn before Potions this afternoon, when something hits my shoulder. I turn around and find a folded paper airplane with Ted’s now-familiar handwriting on it. Carefully unfolding the airplane, I read:

 

‘Dromeda (you still haven’t told me whether you approve of the name, by the way),

Since our big day approaches, I just wanted to make sure you’re still interested. I’ll meet you at the gate at 10?

Eagerly awaiting,

T.

 

Oh, for the love of Morgana, that stupid, stupid date. I didn’t think he was still interested, I thought it was a laugh, an ice-breaker, I thought… well, I don’t know what to think, now. What are we going to do? It’s supposed to be a date, we can’t just be us, and oh, no, what if he expects me to get all dressed up? With make-up and things?! What if he tries to kiss me? Not that I’d mind, I mean I’m sure he’s a perfectly good kisser, not that I’ve thought about it much, I mean…

 

Merlin, I’m exhausting myself.

 

Ted-

That sounds perfect. See you at ten!

Andromeda  (stop calling me the other thing- it makes me sound like a camel!)

Ps. What, exactly, am I supposed to be interested in? Never mind. See you tomorrow!

 

---

 

The next morning, I hang around breakfast a little longer to make sure Bellatrix is off to Hogsmeade by the time I get in line. I’m smelling strongly of Catalina Malfoy’s strawberry shampoo and, for the first time in my life, I’ve curled my hair. It actually looks quite nice, I think- unfamiliar, and a little too bouncy for my taste, but nice. I get past Filch and hurry across the grounds where I find Ted, leaning against the gate with a huge grin on his face as he sees me.

 

“Hi,” he says. “Wow, you clean up nicely.”

 

I stare at him, and find myself blushing. “I, um.”

 

“That was a joke.”

 

“Oh.” I try to laugh, but it sounds more a cough. “Do you, uh, want to get going?”

 

“Yeah, of course- where d’you want to go?”

 

“I, um, Zonkos? Maybe? And Honeydukes?”

 

“Sounds good. And Andromeda?” He’s frowning at me. “Calm down.”

 

“I, I’m not-“

 

“It’s all right. Let’s go.”

 

After ten minutes, I tell myself that this isn’t really a date, and things look up from there. We go to Zonkos, and we buy Dungbombs and come up with elaborate schemes involving my sisters and fake wands. Next, we go for lunch at the Three Broomsticks, drink warm butterbeer and Ted pays, reminding me again that this is, you know, a date.

 

We walk around the village a little more, and when Ted hesitantly takes my hand, I resist the urge to snatch it away, and after a while, even that becomes sort of pleasant. Honeydukes is next, and, after stocking up on sugar quills, Drooble’s, and chocolate, we buy a big bag of sticky, strawberry-cream-filled Chocoballs to share, and follow the winding road out of the village, back towards the castle, for a bit. Ted’s telling me about his summer, about his brothers and his Mum, and we find a nice group of rocks on a sunlit hillside to settle down on. It’s a beautiful day, sunny and clear, cold, but not in a threatening sort of way. When I hug myself against the wind, Ted wordlessly hands me his scarf before tearing open the bag of chocolates. Our conversation winds down as we pass the Chocoballs between us, both of surreptiously scooting a little closer together.

 

“So this has been fun,” Ted says slowly after a while.

 

I turn to face him. He looks serious, but not solemn, there’s still that hint of amusement in his eyes. The sharp, setting sun is making his features look oddly sharp. “It has,” I say, smiling.

 

“Do you think…” For the first time in our acquaintance, Ted’s the one lost for words, hopefully looking at me to finish his sentence. And I happily do, telling him that I would love to do it again, on the next Hogsmeade weekend.

 

“Good,” Ted smiles. Our eyes meet, and before I can move or react or as much as think, his face is coming closer and closer and his hands are doing something odd with my face and he’s sort of cradling my head and then…

 

He’s kissing me. Kissing. Me. He’s kissing me and I’m kissing him and for a split-second of this strange, alternate reality, nothing else exists. But it’s too weird, it’s too much, and even though it feels good, really good, actually, it feels wonderful and I never, ever want him to stop, something in me snaps, and I pull away, jump to my feet. Ted stares at me.

 

“Are you-“

 

“We can’t possibly do this!” I stammer. “Are you out of your mind? We’re supposed to be friends! Bellatrix is going to kill me! And never mind that, what do you think you’re playing at, just kissing me like that without even, you know, warning me?” I let my words hang in the air, hear how stupid, how ridiculous they sound, and our eyes meet, and for a second, we’re both about to start laughing and it’s all completely all right. But then that moment passes, and tears shoot into my eyes and I turn on my heels, and I run.

 

I run up the hill, back to the gate, until I’m winded and gasping for breath, and when I slow down I expect Ted’s hand, turning me around, reaching for me and asking me what just happened, but as I stumble through the gate, I turn around, and, apart from the gathering darkness, I see absolutely nothing. I want to cry, but all that comes out are these stupid, gasping sobs that probably have more to do with the hill I just ran up than with the way I’m feeling. Which, for the record, is horrible. No, worse.

 

I slowly, numbly, walk back to the castle, walk so slowly because I keep hoping Ted will be behind me, but he’s not. He’s not there. He’s probably still standing by those rocks with that bewildered, hurt look on his face, and at that thought, I start to cry in earnest. I’m scum. I’m the greatest prat on the planet. And he was being so nice to me, and we had such a lovely day, and my stomach did that swooping thing again, and I liked the kissing so, so much- and now I’ve gone and messed up, again, and I don’t even have a proper explanation. Except that I’m scared out of my wits about this. I’m scared of Bellatrix, I’m scared about what this means. I’m not the kind of girl that goes around kissing boys. He was supposed to be my friend, I was starting to really count on him for that. He can’t be my boyfriend and be my friend at the same time, can he?

 

Now, I suppose, he’s not much of anything. I slip into the castle and up to the owlery, the place where I come when I need to be completely alone. When I need it to be quiet enough so I can hear myself think. But amongst the soft cooing and rustling of wings, all I hear is the words “stupid idiot” repeated all over again, and I don’t want to be alone. I want Ted. But I’ve messed up, and that’s really all there is to it.

//
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