The Sugar Quill
Author: Songbird  Story: The Luckiest  Chapter: Part Two
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

The Luckiest

The Luckiest

With love to Genesse, an amazing beta.

 

Part Two

 

Now I know all the wrong turns

the stumbles and falls

 brought me here

 

 

Andromeda supposes that all great love stories work like this. There is always The Initial Attraction, then there are The Complications and The Messing Up, and then comes either The Happy Ending or The Tragic Finale.

 

These days, she finds herself still hoping for the former, though she knows perfectly well that, in all likelihood, her love story will be the one that’s never told, the one between those two odd secondary characters –like Mr. Collins and Mary Bennet- in which everyone always thought they should have gotten together, and they never did.

 

But as they grow older but hardly wiser, as they leave behind their OWLs and their spots and the intensity of their hormones subsides, as Bellatrix leaves Hogwarts at last, and sixth year gradually peters out into seventh, she finds herself hoping, again. Despite the horrible fights they keep getting into, despite of how much it hurts her when he starts going out with Lizzie McKinnon for a bit, despite of how much it annoys him when she ditches an offer to spend Christmas at Hogwarts with him because of Bella’s wedding (not that she wants to go), by the time seventh year rolls around, they’re flirting so much even she knows that it’s flirting.

 

There are far too many moments of almost-kisses, moments when there is nothing between them except Peeves bursting in at the wrong moment, or Sirius and his increasingly tiresome gang throwing a Fanged Frisbee, or Professor McGonagall returning to her classroom from lunch early, raising her eyebrows at them both and informing them curtly that there are more comfortable places to spend a their break than her classroom. And then, as it grows darker and colder outside, they run out of almosts, and suddenly, her world is teeming with even more actual kisses, stolen and copious and without any follow-up. They grab each other, barely making sure the coast is clear before their bodies collide, and it’s not quite tension and not quite relief, this thing between them. In front of others, they laugh and talk, exchange words in quick, sharp banter that makes onlookers roll their eyes and wonder whether they’re ever going to get it.

 

Once, she catches his eye over lunch. Over the heads of half the population of Hogwarts, they look at each other, she feels her heart beat like mad against her chest and is pleased to note that he’s gone quite pale as he holds her gaze over a forgotten forkful of shepherd’s pie. She gulps down her lunch in the kind of frenzy commonly associated with being very late for class, and hurries out of the Great Hall. They barely make it behind the greenhouses. When the bell rings ten minutes later, they have not said a word to each other. It’s a cold day in January, his nose and cheeks are bright red, and there are a few stray snowflakes melting in his heavily tousled hair. She shakes out her hair, pulls it up in a pony tail, and he throws out an arm as she’s leaving, pulling her close again, the steam of their breathing mingling before he kisses her, and then he rushes to Herbology, leaving her standing, dumbstruck, with a positively idiotic smile on her face. And sometimes it’s the other way around, sometimes she hides behind the statue of Roderich the Rotund and throws her arm out as he passes, pulls him behind for a long, long kiss and then leaves, and he can barely breathe, let alone call out her name.

 

He’s patient. They both are, with the quirks and the pains of the other. She learns not to care when he offers to tutor pretty fourth years in Transfiguration, learns not to care that the female members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team consider him their property, somewhere between big brother and default date to Slughorn’s parties and the Charms Club Christmas feast. He assures her that he’d never dream of kissing any of them, and though it takes her awhile to accept that he would honestly prefer her -moody, gawkish and irritable- to the charms, long limbs and easy laugh of a Holly Diggory, she gets there eventually. She begins to understand that the shy, serious smile he gives her is hers alone, and not the broad grin he bestows upon Holly and the other Chasers. And he learns to wait. Learns not to press her for answers, learns not to ask for what it bloody is they’re doing, because that only results in the color draining out of her face and her eyes widening in shock and fear, because she knows, deep down, how big this is. She’s still scared out of her wits over what will happen if or rather, when, her family finds out, and she’s just as scared that this might be over as quickly and as easily as it started, that there will come a day when he won’t give her that smile of his.

 

She tries pushing him away. Having learned from childhood not to trust something that’s purely good and not at all sinister –for her, sinisterness always meant familiarity and, therefore, comfort- she decides not to trust him. She tries not talking to him, not looking at him, not kissing him.

 

Needless to say, she fails. She has always been diligent and meticulous where Bellatrix was passionate and Cissy was sloppy, but Ted stumps her. She cannot make herself resist him, and she’s beginning to realize that she needs him. Every single part of him- his lips and his hands and his arms around her waist, but also his raised eyebrows, his laugh, the way he elbows people out of the way to tell her his good news. But that’s not it- not quite. What seals the deal for Andromeda, who has been starving for some undemanding love, for some affection that isn’t boasting, proud or self-seeking and doesn’t come with a catch, is that he seems to need her just as much.

 

Winter melts into spring, and the day they’re supposed to leave Hogwarts comes ever closer, and still they haven’t talked about what it is they have, exactly.

---

 

“So.” He appears out of nowhere one day in April, drops down next to her as she’s revising for NEWTs in the library, casually concealing a bag of chocolates in his robes. “What are you doing next weekend?”

 

She doesn’t bother looking up, instead buries her face more deeply in her book lest he see her smile, her blush. “Studying.”

 

“Of course you are.”

 

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” 

 

“Just that I know you’re a very busy, very studious person that spends most of her time shut up in the library.”

 

She slams her book shut and glares at him. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

 

“Well, I think it is. Because you if you weren’t studying next weekend, we could go into Hogsmeade together.”

 

“Outside. Now.” She grabs her bag with one hand, his hand with the other and marches him right past Madam Pince’s disapproving glare. Shoves him into an empty classroom, drops her bag, and before he knows it, she’s pinned him against the wall and is fiercely kissing him like her life depends on it.

 

She pulls away first, and then they’re staring at each other, hapless and hopeful, wide-eyed, not entirely unpleasant shock spelled out on both faces. He regains countenance first, manages a grin. She buries her face in his shoulder and he hugs her, and in the threatening, lurking silence, she says, with a voice too wobbly and too small for her, “I think I’m in love with you. It seems like such a stupid thing to say when you’ve only just passed your Apparition Test, but Ted, I reckon this is the real thing.”

 

He breathes out, slowly. “Me, too.”                                               

 

She detaches herself from his shoulder and looks up at him. “What happens now?”

 

“This.” And he leans down, and kisses her, again and again and as often as possible, before the world has a chance to invade.

 

Eventually, they hear Peeves approaching and break apart. “We need to talk about…this,” she says, twisting a lock of hair around her finger and forcing herself not to kiss him again.

 

“Yeah,” he says, warily, “I know.”

 

“Tomorrow morning,” she says. “In the Owlery. At six?”

 

He nods. “Goodnight,” he says quietly, looks around and, having made quite sure the corridor’s empty, he leans in for a last kiss. “I’ll be dreaming about you,” he whispers into her ear.

 

She feels herself blush and giggles. “You had better.”

 

She stares at him, his straw-colored hair, good-natured smile, apple-cheeks and strong build. Everything about him is so alive, so healthy. It’s nothing like the home she knows, where all that matters is blood and ancestors, dead ones. “Goodnight,” she whispers, and sneaks off into the Slytherin dungeon. She feels like she’s walking through a dream, ecstatic at the thought that she has finally found a name for that maddening, moving force that makes her think of him from the moment she brushes her teeth in the morning to the moment she slips into bed at night, and sometimes well after that. It’s love.

 

“Ada?”

 

At hearing her childhood nickname, an echo from a time long past, she swivels around. Cissy is sitting in one of the armchairs by the fire, surrounded by books and parchment and chocolate, and wearing an uncharacteristically serious expression on her face.

 

“Cissy?” She glances at the clock above the fireplace, it’s nearly midnight. “You’re up late.”

 

“OWLs,” Cissy says, simply. “I don’t care how well I do, as long as I beat Sirius.”

 

She shakes her head and suppresses a laugh. “You amaze me. Well, I was on my way to bed, did you want…”

 

“Sit,” Cissy says, and in tone and authority she is so like their mother that Andromeda instinctively obeys. “What’s going on between you and that Mudblood, what’s his name? Ned?”

 

“Ted,” she replies, icily. “And don’t call him a Mudblood ever again.”

 

Her little sister’s eyes widen in something that’s more than shock- it’s genuine concern, something she never expected to be the one to entice. “Oh, no. It’s true, isn’t it? You’re seeing each other.”

 

“I don’t see how that’s any of your business,” she snaps.

 

“It’s my business because I have been lying for you to Bella for months. In every letter she writes to me, there’s always a PS. What’s Andromeda up to? And every time, I have written back, oh, she’s fine, she’s just studying, she’s still a loner, hasn’t got any friends, and I have been leaving out the part that you’re messing around with a Mudblood.”

 

“I TOLD YOU-“

 

“Oh, for Merlin’s sake, keep your voice down and listen to me. It has to stop. It absolutely has to stop. Go see him tomorrow morning and break up with him, because-“

 

“Because I’m a Black and can’t be a blood traitor, polluting my blood?” she snaps menacingly.

 

“Yes.” Her little sister’s eyes meet hers. “But there’s a much, much better reason than that.”

 

“What?”

 

“It’s dangerous, you fool. Times are changing; the purebloods are fighting back. Bellatrix and Auntie won’t stand for this.”

 

She shrugs, giving a short, thoroughly unamused laugh. “What can they do- lock me in my room with no supper? I’m of age, they can’t control what I do with my life or who I fall in love with.”

 

“Listen to yourself!” Cissy’s hand flies to her temple. “You know what Bella’s capable of. She will hunt you down, and she will not rest until she has made your life as horrid and wretched as you can imagine. You haven’t been home since last summer; you don’t know what it’s like. Father’s sick, he’s dying, and he keeps saying it’s his dying wish for us all to live up to our name, and Bella’s sworn she will. You don’t understand- they’ve gotten over Sirius running away, they’ve disowned him, they’ll do it to you, too, and something worse. Bella keeps talking about how she wants to hunt him down and you know her- it’s not just talk, with her. She and Auntie, they’ve gone mad, both of them. This isn’t about the politics, though I think what you’re doing is completely wrong. This is about you being safe.”

 

“What if I don’t care? What if I don’t care about what they’ll say, about what the family will think? What if I don’t care about being safe?” She spits out the last word venomously. “Because I don’t care!”

 

“Then you really are an idiot,” Cissy says coolly.

 

“You don’t understand,” she says, desperately. “I can’t just ditch him, it doesn’t work that way, I-“ She stops, her voice trailing away. “But thank you,” she says quietly. “I know you don’t get it yet, but one day, you will.”

 

Narcissa shrugs, looking much, much older than fifteen. “Maybe I don’t want to.”

 

Andromeda lets out a hollow laugh. “Maybe you don’t,” she agrees. Reveling in the moment of sisterhood they haven’t had since Narcissa started at Hogwarts, she settles more comfortably in the armchair and helps herself to a chocolate frog lying around. “I thought you stopped eating chocolate?”

 

“I-“ Cissy blushes, mumbling hastily: “This is an exception, I just needed something to keep me going, but I’ll skip breakfast tomorrow morning to make up for it.”

 

Andromeda gapes at her. “Excuse me?”

 

“Well, that’s why I stopped eating sweets,” Cissy says rather miserably. “Mother said I had to watch my weight or I’d look a fright eventually.”

 

“Oh, in the name of Morgana and all her lovers,” Andromeda swears, shaking her head. “You do know you that you’re so pretty, it makes most people ill, don’t you?” She gets up and gives her a kiss on the cheek. “It’s late, go to bed. And don’t listen to a word Mother says.”

 

Cissy’s eyebrows shoot up. “Like you.”

 

“Like me.”

 

------

 

She hardly sleeps at all that night, and when she does, Bellatrix’s cold laughter and Ted’s warm one waft through her dreams, and she tries to follow Ted’s and ends up looking up at her larger-than-life-sized, jeering older sister, while Cissy hovers in the background, owlishly looking on with a face that plainly says “I told you so.”

 

When her alarm goes off in the early hours of the morning, she flies out of bed, slips on her robes and bleary-eyed, brushes her teeth, thoughts playing catch inside her head. What if Cissy, on some small level, is right? What if this is far, far too dangerous- and not just for me? What if Bella goes after us, goes after Ted. What if she tries to hurt him?

 

She spits out her toothpaste in a half-hearted sort of way, mind buzzing like a furious fly as she sneaks out of the deserted Slytherin dungeon and through the castle. She passes a few fifth years heading to the library, including a careworn-looking Remus Lupin balancing a large stack of books, but nothing worse as she hurries to the corridors, up the tower.

 

It’s a glorious morning, the sky is already a brilliant blue and the sun, warm and strong, is rising over the grounds, throwing the tips of the Forbidden Forest into sharp relief. Something about the beauty of it all, mixed in with the familiar sounds of feathers rustling and distant hooting, is incredibly soothing. The door creaks open, and it’s Ted, with a big smile on his face that she knows is partly genuine, and partly overplaying nerves. This is a conversation that, by rights, they’re both far too young and far, far too ridiculous to have.

 

“Hey.”

 

“Hi.” An awkward pause and then she’s in his arms, hugging every last part of him. And how could she live without this? “I don’t care what they say,” she blurts out. “I don’t care if it’s wrong, I don’t care if it’s selfish and dangerous, I don’t care.”

 

“Good,” he says easily, but she knows from the way his arms are gripping her body that there is enormous relief in there.

 

“You need to be sure, too,” she says, forcing herself to look up at him. “Because it might… it might be dangerous. My family, you’ve only ever met Sirius, but the rest of them, they’re… not very nice. Especially Bellatrix. And Auntie. And my father isn’t exactly gentle, either.”

 

He sighs. “I know.”

 

“And?”

 

“And I don’t care.” He slips his hands into hers, and stops them from squirming as he leans in for a long kiss. “Forget about them. We know what we’re doing, right?”

 

She laughs, hollowly. “I don’t know about you, but I’m making this is up as I go along.”

 

He shrugs. “That’s good enough for me.”

 

----

 

Weeks pass, weeks blissful and protected, as under the cover of NEWT practice, they spend almost every waking moment in each other’s exclusive company. It’s not that they don’t study, they do, but with kisses paid as penalties for wrong answers and rewards for correct ones. And sometimes he resolutely shuts his book and drags her outside, into the sunlight, where they spend an afternoon snogging and talking alike.

 

They talk about the future. She discovers that, with him planted so suddenly and so firmly by her side, she is daring to dream like she’s never dreamed before, and even when they read in the paper about how dark the world is growing, and even when she remembers how close this is to her own front door, she finds herself unable to stop making plans for a bright, blissful future.

 

This week, they’re planning to tour the world, leave England for a year, see the pyramids, the old temple of Angkor Wat, the Black’s land in Assyria. Last week, they were going to become Aurors. Who knows what it will be next week? Listening to him describing exotic places like Goa or San Francisco –not that he’s ever been, of course- with such enthusiasm makes her feel like she’s small again, and being told a wonderful story. Not that anyone ever told her stories, especially stories like these. Back then, it was all about being good (her mother’s stories) and blood and gore (Bella’s specialty). Ted’s stories are completely devoid of blood and gore, and, she smirks to herself as she distractedly walks her fingers down his bare arms as he tells her about the Woodstock festival for the millionth time, they certainly have nothing to do with being good.

 

Somehow in the process of an afternoon spent in a secluded little grove by the lake, his shirt has come off, and her robes are certainly in a worse –no, better, really- state than they were this morning. With protective charms around the little beach, books strewn around, a half-empty bag of food and nobody around but Ted, with his sweet stories and fierce kisses, she thinks she could happily spend the rest of her life here. She leans over him for the bag of food, produces a slightly overripe peach, which she carefully slices in two, handing him one leaking, deliciously fruity half before devouring the other. Licks her fingers, suddenly stained in peach juice, grinning down at Ted, lying sprawled in the grass with a lazy grin on his face. They exchange a look, and a smile, and then she leans down and kisses him like she’s never kissed him before.

 

The sun is already setting over the grounds, coloring the lake in a deep gold and the sky in a light scarlet, when they finally make their way back to the castle. She’s shivering, there are bits of leaves in his hair and grass stains on his shirt. Dirt under her fingernails, and peach stains all over her body. They’re holding hands.

 

A post owl flutters over the grounds, carrying an edition of the Evening Prophet to the headmaster’s study. Its shadow barely covers her face for a second, and neither of them know the headline reads:

 

Self-proclaimed “Lord Voldemort” claims responsibility for all attacks

on Muggles and Muggleborns of the past weeks

 

Ministry: “Will do all to catch the culprit” – Dumbledore calls attacks “some of the most dangerous and disgusting magic we have seen since the fall of Grindelwald” – large group of supporters, “Knights of Walpurgis”, believed to be involved

 

As they walk back into the Entrance Hall, cold and cool after the bustling life of the lake and the grounds, Ted and Andromeda know that nothing will ever be the same again. But they don’t know why not.

 

//
Write a review! PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of reviewing a story or piece of art at the Sugar Quill is to provide comments that will be useful to the author/artist. We encourage you to put a bit of thought into your review before posting. Please be thoughtful and considerate, even if you have legitimate criticism of a story or artwork. (You may click here to read other reviews of this work).
* = Required fields
*Sugar Quill Forums username:
*Sugar Quill Forums password:
If you do not have a Sugar Quill Forums username, please register. Bear in mind that it may take up to 72 hours for your account to be approved. Thank you for your patience!
*Comment:
The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

-- Powered by SQ3 : Coded by David : Design by James --