"Olivia Rose Black! Get down this instant!" my grandmother yelled from the downstairs of our manor. I hurriedly put away my schoolbooks—I was finally starting at Hogwarts this year!—and ran downstairs. After eleven years of living with Grandmother Black, I had learned to obey at all costs.
"Yes, Grandmother?" I said meekly. I knew she was going to criticize my dress; she can't go a day without complaining about me. Better than being off in the streets, though. Grandmother sniffed at me and turned up her nose at me. I cowered, knowing the symptoms of her anger.
Then, to my utmost surprise, she sagged and sat on the couch. I stared at her, shocked. To think Grandmother was letting go of posture, elegance, everything she said a Black must have!
"Darling, go get me some elf-made wine and you some butterbeer. We have something to discuss." Grandmother said weakly. I scurried off to our enormous kitchen.
"Wally, we need some elf-made wine and butterbeer!" I panted. Wally was our overzealous house-elf. Once in a while, his brother Dobby, house-elf of the Malfoys (our distant relatives) would come to visit and almost tear apart our manor with their excitement.
"Of course, Mistress!" Wally squeaked and Summoned the drinks. "Good luck, Miss, it is seeming to Wally that Mistress Po-Black, Mistress Black seems very upset about something!" I stopped in my tracks.
"Wally," I said slowly. "What did you almost call Grandmother? You said something before you said Black." I looked at him accusingly.
"Nothing, Miss, slip of tongue of Wally's, yes, Miss, Wally is deeply sorry!" Wally said frantically.
"That's an order, Wally." But before Wally could answer me, Grandmother called me again. I picked up the tray. "I expect you to tell me after, Wally." I said sharply. I hated making Wally scared, but he rarely told me anything, so I had to learn to be harsher with him to get my facts straight.
"Ah, there's a good lady." Grandmother said, whipping out her wand to uncork her bottle of wine. She closed her hazel eyes and took a long sip. Her face relaxed, and for a moment, I got a glimpse of what she must have looked like when she was younger: a smooth, taut face, sparkling, clear hazel eyes, a smattering of freckles, and a rosy, perfect mouth. She must have been extremely pretty, what with the dark, thick black hair she still has today.
"Er," I said, hesitant to break the calm silence, "What was it you wanted to tell me?" Her eyes snapped open, and once again, she looked like the stern, sinister Grandmother I knew so well.
"Olivia, do you remember eight years ago when you first asked me why I was raising you?" Grandmother said, gazing off into the distance.
"Not really. After all, Grandmother, I was three."
"Yes, yes, I could not have expected you to, of course." Muttered Grandmother. I swallowed uncertainly. This was not at all like Grandmother, to be understanding and most of all, quiet.
"Er, what happened?" I asked.
"Well," Grandmother gave a small smile, "you ran up to me one day at the park. You had seen so many Muggle families around you, each with a mother, father, and child. No grandmother. And you looked at me with those big green eyes of yours and said 'Grandma, did my mommy and daddy not like me? Is that why they left?' My heart tore in two, of course," I was surprised to hear Grandmother admit she had a heart, "but I replied 'It's not your fault, but next time, try to be a bit more manageable.' Looking back, that was the cruelest thing I could ever have said. But I wanted you to become a strong Black woman worthy of your name. It was important for you to experience pain and sorrow at an early age, so you could overcome those obstacles and be a strong woman." She looked at me expectantly, as if waiting to see if I would react angrily.
"It's okay, go on," I said jerkily. It did bother me that Grandmother had tried to hurt me, but now was not the time to argue.
"Well, then, after that, until you were ten, you would ask me the same question every year on your birthday, and every year I would give you a different answer. Some years I was nicer than others, some years I was vaguer than others. But the point is, none of it was the truth." I looked at her as her eyes nervously flitted between me and her wine glass. "I know you may be mad, but let me explain everything first." Grandmother said hastily. I nodded again, encouraging her to go on. When she didn't, I rolled my eyes.
"Grandmother, I'm not very happy with what I heard, but I'm letting you go on just to find out what the truth is and get it over with." I said confidently, crossing my arms. It was the first time I ever stood up to Grandmother.
"Well, alright then." She hesitated. "You're not really a Black, and neither am I." Grandmother said slowly. I looked at her, my mouth agape.
"But, not a Black…? What have you been telling me all these years!" I said indignantly. I thought about Wally's slip of tongue and pieced two and two together. "Wally was about to call you Mistress Po-and then he stopped himself! What is our real name?" I said forcefully. Grandmother looked livid.
"Wally let it slip?" She glowered.
"It's okay, I was about to find out anyway," I said quickly. I didn't want to get Wally in trouble.
"Darling, I'm sure you've heard about the Boy Who Lived and everything, right?" She said hesitantly.
"Of course." I said rigidly.
"Darling…we're Potters. Harry Potter is your older brother."