Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, I don't own Harry Potter in any way, shape or form. No copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart, what is true.
It's a black Christmas. There are no carollers singing and no fairy lights burning; no mistletoe dangling from the ceiling, nor any snowflakes falling. Such a dark night for such a dark family, all of whom relax cosily in their rickety old house.
Bellatrix sits upstairs in the guest's bedroom, writing letters to school friends; apologizing for her absence, explaining that her parents insisted that she spend Christmas with her cousins. Across the room, perched at the window seat and peering through the thick black drapes, sits Andromeda. Her dark brown eyes observe the bland street outside, silently praying for snow this year.
Sprawled out on the floor is Narcissa, who silently reads through her copy of Magical Theory by candlelight, turning each page with an air of boredom. All three sisters look up as they hear footsteps resound off the landing, and within moments, the door flies open. Standing there, with a rather sour look on his face, is Sirius. He casts a contemptuous look at Bellatrix, and an equally dark look at Narcissa, before opening his arms wide and crying out happily, "Happy Christmas Andromeda!"
His older cousin almost laughs as she crosses the room and hugs him tightly, kissing his cheek and returning his greeting.
"So you're here for the holidays?" she asks, helping to remove his long black cloak and draping it over her arm gingerly. He sighs and nods, glancing at his other two cousins who are watching the exchange with little interest.
"Unfortunately, yes," Sirius answers. Bellatrix rolls her eyes and returns to her letters.
"Where's Regulus?" Narcissa asks nonchalantly, putting aside her book for a moment and peering at her cousin with her serious grey eyes.
"Downstairs being preened by mother," he mutters. "He'll be up soon."
And there's an awkward silence, as Bellatrix scribbles away on her parchment and Narcissa hugs her knees, resting her chin on them lazily; staring without blinking at her cousin. Andromeda crosses the room and returns to the window seat, patting the spot next to her; gesturing for Sirius to sit.
"So, Andy," he murmurs, lazily draping his arm over her shoulder, "what have you been doing to entertain yourself in this dreary place?"
"Not much," she answers with a shrug. Pulling back the curtains, she peers out once more into the dark night. She wondered for a moment how Sirius and Regulus had arrived without her noticing before, but after noticing the soot on her hands--obviously from Sirius' old coat-- she realizes that the Floo Network must have been busy today. "Narcissa insisted that we trim the tree this year. It took me by surprise, actually."
Sirius gaped, looking down at his fair haired cousin whose eyes had not yet strayed from his pale, figure. "Did she really?" he whispers, trying to suppress a half-grin; and the urge to bound across the room and ruffle that neat blonde hair.
"Yes, really," Andromeda says in a low voice, smiling to herself. "We actually did, though your parents didn't complain."
"'Course they wouldn't, not when one of their ickle darlings wants something."
"You really should stop considering them as your enemies and start thinking of them as family."
"I'm rather happy with my view of things," he mutters dryly.
"Don't be like that, Sirius," she pleads, her brown eyes observing him carefully. "All I'm saying is that things could be worse."
A soft pitter-patter of footsteps echo across the landing, and the old oak door opens to reveal Regulus, beaming at his cousins. Bellatrix abandons her quill and parchment, standing up and making her way over to Regulus' side, tussling his shaggy mane of short black hair and noting the small differences in his pale face.
"Well," Sirius murmurs with a cheeky grin as Narcissa stands to greet her cousin, "things just got worse."
"It's Christmas, Sirius," Andromeda reminds him. "'Tis the season to be jolly and all. Give it a try. If you can put up with Pettigrew, then you can surely put up with your cousins for the holidays."
That said, the oldest Black girl stands and greets her younger cousin, while Sirius sulks in the window seat. He watches as Andromeda bestows her seasons greetings on his younger brother, asking how his first year at Hogwarts is and what his favorite lessons are. He wonders for a moment just how accepting she can be, and if there would ever be a time where she'd meet breaking point.
"Sirius!" Regulus calls in his sing-song voice, pouting because it's cute and he knows it. "Mother says that you have to share the sweets that Potter gave you."
Sirius sighs. "Don't count on it."
There's ranting and whining. There's ignorance from Bellatrix, as she chooses to not partake in such childish acts of indulgence. There's amusement dancing in Narcissa's eyes as she watches the two brothers bicker, and Andromeda silently appeals for the argument to be done with; so they can all have a somewhat normal Christmas.
"But Mother said so!" Regulus howls, stamping his foot in frustration.
Bellatrix casts a long look across the room in surprise, her lips curling into a small devious smirk. "Is this true, Sirius?" she asks.
Her cousin glances whimsically back and forth from the faces of his brother, to those of the three Black sisters; all of whom are now suddenly enraptured with the conversation at hand. He shrugs and takes a step back, shaking his head.
"'Course it's not true," he objects.
"Then why are you always trying to catch Lily Evans' attention?" Regulus asks curtly.
"You goof!" Sirius proclaims. "I'd have thought it would be obvious that James is out for the girl! You know I'd never date a Mudblood."
There's a moment of silence as the group choose whether or not to believe Sirius' words. Finally, it's Narcissa who speaks up, easing the tension with her soft voice and plain explanation.
"Regulus," she says hesitantly. "Don't insult your brother. We all know that nobody here would ever be sad enough to love a Mudblood."
Bellatrix nods in approval, though she frowns as she does so. No apology. No look of remorse or regret. Rather she keeps her thoughts to herself and allows everybody else to go about their business. Reluctantly, Regulus mumbles something close to an apology, and Sirius, who's being watched closely now by a weary Andromeda, accepts his forced words.
"Now," Bellatrix announces plainly, "we're going to go downstairs for dinner. Anybody who objects-" she casts a keen glance at the elder Black brother, "-can stay up here and starve."
"Well I don't know about you, but I'm famished," declares Sirius, patting his stomach; much to the irritation of his cousin.
So Narcissa returns her copy of Magical Theory to it's rightful place on the old oak desk, and Bellatrix tucks her letters into her trunk, not giving them a second though as she leads the way out of the large bedroom and down the creaky old staircase. Trailing behind, Andromeda and Sirius walk arm in arm.
"Did you really mean what you said about Mudbloods?" she asks him, keeping her voice low and her eyes averted.
"You mean, do I ever think I'll date one?"
She shrugs, trying to sound indifferent to the whole matter. "Well you'd probably never date one if you hated them, right?"
Sirius stops and pulls her aside, away from the prying eyes and constantly vigilant ears of his cousins. A small smile plasters itself to his face, and he explains gently:
"If you're asking whether I hate them, then the answer is no. If you're asking if I'd ever date one, I guess it would depend on the person. I mean, I'm only fourteen, Andy. I've got ages to date and do stuff like that."
"But blood isn't an issue to you?" she questions.
"'Course it isn't, and what's more is that it never will be," he murmurs, furrowing his brow. "It isn't to you, is it?"
"No," she whispers. She sighs and tenderly leans her head of ebony hair on Sirius' shoulder as they two slowly head back to the staircase and descend to the lower level. They can hear Regulus laughing from within the kitchen; and Kreacher wanders into the foyer, instructing them both to go to the dining room before Mrs. Black looses her patience.
It's hardly a silent night, that Christmas. The stars shine brightly, but it doesn't snow like Andromeda wishes it would. The occupants of Grimmauld Place all enjoy a filling dinner, before heading off to bed and enduring dreamless sleeps.
But she returns to the window seat. And all she can think of is Ted.