Harry Potter and the
Redemption of the Black Sisters
Harry Potter was not a boy anymore.
He was not yet sixteen, and thus still a minor by the standards of his society, but in no other way could he be considered a child. He had lost the only person in his life whom he could consider a father figure, the person whom, perhaps, he loved most in the world: his Godfather, Sirius. Then, in the wake of this loss, came the abrupt discovery that he was destined to face the monster who killed his parents and, what was more, possibly die at his hands. The occurrences of the past months had exposed Harry to things no one should suffer, and it had aged him beyond his years. His eyes had seen too much to be the eyes of a child.
When he returned home for the summer, the Dursleys quickly discovered that he was in no mood for their style of care. He stayed in his room and, for the most part, they left him alone. The threats they had received from the Aurors, who had accompanied Harry at the train station, further ensured their good behavior.
This was a favorable development; the other changes in Harry's life were anything but. Weight dropped from his body with frightening consequences. His lean Quidditch-honed physique withered, he became pale and emaciated. His cheekbones stood out prominently in his face, which more closely resembled that of a skeleton than of a living person.
Harry Potter was a man dying. In a very real way, all that sustained him was the rage and hatred he felt toward virtually everyone around him.
It's entirely my fault.
Sirius would never have been in the Ministry of Magic if I hadn't been so easy to fool. If I weren't so gullible, he would still be alive.
Damn me.No, damn Snape.
Damn Bellatrix Lestrange.
Damn Narcissa Malfoy.
Damn them all.
After his first month at home, Harry stopped brooding. He didn't stop because he had miraculously overcome the constant and permeating sense of guilt he felt for his own foolish actions—he had a feeling that might never go away. Nor had he surmounted the rage he felt toward those who had wronged him.
No, that was as white hot as ever.
But on Harry Potter's sixteenth birthday, something happened: he received the last will and testament of his godfather.
I, Sirius Lawrence Lucius Black, sole Heir to the primary fortune of the Black Family, do hereby bequeath all my worldly goods to one Harry James Potter. The details of said bequest are outlined by the package contained herein.
There was indeed quite a sizable package enclosed, but it was the letter at it's front which drew Harry's attention.
Now that I've gotten the legalese out of the way, I want to talk to you, man to man. As I write this letter, it is nearly Christmas time of your fifth year at Hogwarts. I can feel my death approaching rapidly. This death-sense is something that many in my family are born with—In fact, our name is derived from the 'black' visions my ancestor's received, foretelling their own demises.
I am a man out of time, Harry. I spent one third of my life in prison and the world outside doesn't make sense anymore. That is, everything except for you and Remus—and even he is different. I don't blame him, of course. He has thirteen more years of life experience than I do, years that were stolen from me. This is all a long-winded way of saying that I don't want you to feel guilty about anything that happens. When I die, I want to do it with a wand in my hand and a smile on my face.
I hope that, at least in some small way, the provisions of my will can bring you joy. There are some things to be revealed in my will reading at Gringotts that you won't understand at first. All I can ask, Harry, is that you give them a chance.
I know Dumbledore won't let you leave the safety of Privet Drive, even to collect what is owed to you, so I took the liberty of including a portkey, which will transport you to the alley outside Gringotts. In the vault, there are books and things of power that have been in the possession of my family for centuries. Use them.
I have known for some time about the prophecy, Harry, but Dumbledore advised me that it was best not to tell you of it. By the time you read this, you will know of what I speak. I know that you will triumph, that you will kill the bastard who murdered your parents, and I want you to know that I am endlessly proud of you.
I love you, Harry.
P.S. Don't show up to meet your parents and me for a very long time or I'll kick your ass.
Harry sat on his bed and stared at the thick document listing all his newly acquired assets. It would be so easy to give in to despair. After all he had been through, why shouldn't he just roll over? What had the Wizarding World ever done for him? They had lifted him up on a pedestal when they wanted to bask in his heroism, and they had torn him down when they found comfort in believing his misconduct.
He shook his head. No. He was a Gryffindor. His parents had defied Voldemort three times, and for that they had paid the price. If he stood by and did nothing, he would render their sacrifice meaningless.
He would kill Voldemort, but not for the world.
He would do it for himself, and for his parents.
He would do it for Sirius.
The portkey activated, and in a flash, Harry was gone from Privet Drive.
He had been ready to leave her behind.
If anyone had entered the room in which Voldemort kept his feared sadist, they would have seen an attractive—if emaciated—woman sitting on her bed with her legs pulled tight against her chest. Her features were stunning, but blank and worn. Long jet-black hair hung limp and uncared for down her back, and eyes the color of dusty lavender roses were fixed vacantly on a point outside the window. Her wand—her safety net—sat unguarded atop her dresser, across the room.
And all Bellatrix Lestrange could do was remember the flat stare of her master's red serpentine eyes as he assessed her, trapped beneath the golden statue in the hall of the Ministry. She saw his wand itch while his gaze weighed her and her uses against the danger of staying even slightly longer to free her.
She saw in his eyes that he seriously considered leaving her behind.
He didn't, in the end. He flung off the statue with a casual display of his great power and retrieved her moments before Dumbledore could retaliate against him.
She had given Him over half her life—years devoted to his study, and fifteen spent dying in Azkaban. She had estranged herself from all of her acquaintances that did not follow her elected path. She had left behind her family, choosing to be incarcerated rather than renounce Him. In His name, she had murdered her cousin, her own blood. She had given up everything for her master. Because she believe in the cause.
Muggleborn and half-bloods were destroying her culture. They filled the ranks of students at Hogwarts, while the less fertile Purebloods grew fewer every year. With every graduating class the Wizarding culture became a little more diluted, a little less than what it was. Did anyone want Britain to become another America, where the assimilation was so thorough that one could tell a wizard from a muggle only by the presence of a wand? Where purebloods shopped, and ate, and raised their children alongside their lessers?
All she wanted was to keep her culture as it was. As it had been for centuries before muggles had learned how to write the simplest words. Voldemort promised that, once he took power, he would see the Wizarding World preserved.
What had her faith brought her? Fifteen years in prison. Isolation. Desertion. Loneliness. Was this the life she had wanted? Was this what she deserved?
Bellatrix sighed and looked out the window. Life had seemed so much simpler when she was at Hogwarts. Back when she and Narcissa had been the queens of Slytherin and her husband had been strong and handsome. Pranks against muggles and the muggleborn were harmless fun. So what, if she happened to employ some spells that might be classed as lesser Dark Arts?
It had all seemed so simple back then.
She could still remember the secret thrill she received when she first began to study the Dark Arts. It had been fun, something taboo, a new exercise she could use to test herself, when school had ceased to be a challenge. Somewhere along the way, the Dark Arts became less of a lark and more of an all-consuming passion. Learning the Unforgivables was where the fun stopped. The first time she cast the pain curse, the talent for which would later bring her such notoriety, she lost her lunch. The second time it wasn't so bad, and by the third...
Bellatrix wished she could remember when she had decided the next logical step was to take the Dark Mark.
She stared at the morning sky and saw a small dot resolve itself into a Great Horned owl.
Brow furrowing, she watched as the owl flew to her window and dropped a sealed envelop on the ledge. The owl hooted once and then flew away.
Standing and crossing the room, Bellatrix retrieved the letter and walked over to her desk. She slit the envelope with a silver letter opener and, unfolding its contents, scanned the parchment in confusion. Not recognizing the script, her eyes darted to the signature and, in curiosity and surprise, Bellatrix began to read.
Long time no see. I know you're wondering why I've arranged to contact you after my death. I've some things I want to say to you, and an offer I'd like to make.
I regret the way we left off after your wedding to Rodolphus. I don't think I ever apologized for the little incident that happened then— Let me do that now.
I'm sorry for beating the hell out of your husband on your wedding day.
Not really, but I shouldn't have hit him.
You used to be my favorite cousin. You were someone that I could trust, that I could rely on. Then you became involved with Him. You stopped being the fun girl I knew and became some sort of monster.
What happened to you, Bella? I want the Bella I used to know to come back. I'm offering you one chance to redeem yourself, a chance to bring some joy back into your life. If you wish to accept, then keep holding onto this letter and whisper "SECOND CHANCES" within thirty minutes of receipt. It's a portkey, which will take you to Gringotts so you can hear my will reading. I think you'll be interested in what I have to say.
Love,Sirius P.S. And no, Bella, you cannot have my chocolate card collection.
Bellatrix laughed out-loud, for the first time since she had escaped Azkaban, with something other than malicious glee. Only Sirius would use a letter from beyond the grave to send a little dig at her husband. Bellatrix smiled at the memories of that day. She had been so happy. Sirius had gotten a little drunk and Rodolphus had made a crack about werewolves to which he took offense. She had ended up stunning Sirius with her wand, and his friends James and Remus had dragged him away before he could make a further ass out of himself.
Bellatrix ran her fingers across Sirius' signature and smiled slightly as she remembered more innocent times. She told no one, allowed no one to see beyond the frozen mask of hate that hid her inner turmoil, disguised the effects of the nightmares that had plagued her since Sirius had fallen through the veil.
She could remember the duel quite vividly. They had both fought at their highest level of skill, but without trading any lethal spells. Neither had wanted to bring the end of the other. It had been a genuine accident that sent her cousin tumbling into the unknown abyss beyond the veil.
A second chance.
All throughout the years she had spent as the only female in His inner circle she would have said, "Of course not." Whilst she waited in Azkaban, wrapped in her faith, she would have said "No." A few months ago when she had been freed her answer would have been "Not a chance." But now...
Her master would be furious. He would see it as a betrayal. And he would be right. It would be a betrayal, a repudiation of all that she believed in—of the trust and respect she had earned through blood, sweat, and loyalty to the cause.
But, he had been set to leave her behind.
Bellatrix Lestrange gripped the letter tightly and whispered,
Her husband was an idiot.
A colossal, waste of space, idiot.
Narcissa Malfoy sat in what was formerly her husband's study as she went over the most recent bank statements of the Malfoy Fortune.
Or what used to be the Malfoy Fortune.
Her husband's actions had left them nearly penniless. He had transferred virtually the entire cash content of the Malfoy vault to Voldemort, who needed funding for assorted nefarious deeds.
Eager to regain favor, Lucius Malfoy rushed to his master's aid, offering up vast amounts—gambling foolishly, as he had over a decade ago, that Voldemort would emerge victorious.
Of course, that left his wife and son rather pressed. They had quite a lot of valuably property, but almost no liquid assets beyond that which Narcissa had been able to secret away for her own purposes.
Narcissa was rubbing her temples and trying to make out a way to meet the upkeep on several of the hereditary properties of the Malfoy Family without dipping into her own personal savings, when her son entered the study, shaking with glee.
"Mother!" Draco practically shouted. "You'll never guess what father's done."
Narcissa stiffened. He hadn't escaped, had he? She wasn't ready for Lucius to come home. She wasn't ready for him yet!
"Oh? What might that be, Draco?" She asked, resigning herself to the inevitable.
"Father emancipated me!" Draco straightened up and attempted to project the same cold arrogance his father could effortlessly draw around himself—he fell far short of his father's mark. "I can do magic outside of school." He waved a thick paper around. "Father set up a trust for me. If he was ever detained while I was still underage, I was to be emancipated within the month. 'To seek revenge on whomever imprisoned me and restore honor to the Malfoy name.' according to the letter he sent." Draco grinned. "I am also to assume the duties of Lord Malfoy."
Narcissa blinked. He couldn't be stupid enough to set Draco free, could he? He knew how reckless and arrogant the boy was. After all, he had personally crafted Draco into what he had hoped would be an ideal heir.
The Lady of Malfoy Manor sighed and gave her progeny a weak smile. "Congratulations, my son."
Draco leveled a gaze that he meant to be intimidating. "My Lord, Mother, not son," he corrected arrogantly. "Do you know what this means, Mother?" Draco asked. "I now control the family fortune—I can finally buy that Firebolt EX to beat Potter at Quidditch."
Draco's mother arched her eyebrow. "You are glad to be an adult and Lord over the Malfoy estate merely because being such enables you to beat Harry Potter in a school yard game? Doesn't that strike you as rather juvenile, ...my Lord." She finished sardonically. "Perhaps you should think on a grander scale."
Draco lowered his eyes at the rebuke. "You're right, of course, Mother. I should be thinking of the work I can do for the Dark Lord."
Narcissa smiled thinly. "Yes, that's what I meant of course." Her son was truly a dunce. "Go, Draco," she dismissed the young Lord with a casual wave. "We will celebrate your independence later."
Draco wandered out of the room, still giddy with the implications of the news he had received.
Narcissa let out a deep sigh and started to play with a long strand of her silvery blond hair. Her son was an idiot, childish and mindless— but he was powerful. Draco was strong, magically, and he would make a useful servant for Voldemort. That is, if he could control his temper and penchant for excess.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a great grey owl, flying in through an open window. It landed on the desk before her, scattering paper everywhere, and dropped a letter affixed with the Gringotts seal into the palm of her hand.
Quizzically, Narcissa opened it and began to read.
I know it's been ages since we've talked. You know why—and it wasn't just because I was stuck in Azkaban. I did some checking on you after I escaped.
I could not believe that you were still married to Malfoy. I think I owe James ten galleons, and if you're reading this then I've gone to pay him. I bet him your marriage wouldn't last six months. To find out now that you've been married for seventeen years upset me, to say the least. Lucius was a shitty boyfriend back in Hogwarts and I find it difficult to believe that his performance as a husband has been much better. I could always tell that you weren't happy with him, and I can only suppose you stayed out of some confused sense of duty to your family, or perhaps it was the station you found attractive.
I know you, Cissy, better than you think I do. I've always regretted that we drifted apart after you married—I wish that hadn't happened. I know that you can't really be satisfied by the life you've led with Lucius, and if Draco is at all the way Harry described him, then I don't imagine he was a very gratifying development, either.
I'm sure that, by now, you've received word of my death. I couldn't tell you how it happened, although I am sure it was very dramatic, as befitting a Black.
You're probably wondering if I've any actual purpose for contacting you—I do. I want you to have another chance, Cissy, an opportunity to do things differently. This letter is a portkey; it will take you to my will reading at Gringotts. Please, go—I've prepared a second chance for you, if you want it. All you have to do is say the phrase "SECOND CHANCES" within thirty minutes of receiving this letter.
Please accept, Narcissa. Out of whatever love you have left inside that life with Lucius hasn't wrung out of you.
P.S. I've taken the liberty of drawing up preliminary divorce papers, in the event that you accept my offer. You won't be married to Lucius Malfoy a second longer than you have to, if I have any say in the matter
Narcissa set down the letter and wiped a few stray tears from her silver eyes. She had always mourned their estrangement. She had been genuinely surprised when Sirius was taken into custody. Out of all her family members, she had truly thought him least likely to join with the Death Eaters. Lucius had told her once that the Dark Lord had a number of unmarked Sleeper agents whom even the Death Eaters weren't able to identify, and she had assumed that Sirius must have been one of them.
It wasn't until much later that she realized how very wrong she had been.
Narcissa Malfoy stood up, walked from the study and, ascending the great marble staircase, made her way through the house that she had called her own for seventeen years, and yet in which she had never really felt at home. Arriving at her own bedroom she stopped, entered, and surveyed the room only briefly before crossing to her full-length mirror, where she stood, gazing at her own reflection.
"Looking beautiful as always, Mistress." Came the mirror's silvery voice.
The mirror was, of course, correct. She was still very beautiful. Narcissa was tall, as were all the Black women. Her eyes were a striking silver color and her body was still slender and firm despite a rapidly approaching middle age and the birth of one child. Her pride and joy was her waist length white-blonde hair, which was once described in the society pages as being "equally as stunning as the silvery tresses of a veela."
Narcissa smiled as she examined her appearance, satisfied with her appraisal. Staring at herself had always been a calming influence on the youngest Black sister. Many would think this an uncommon display of vanity, but Narcissa considered the great care and pride she took in her looks to be a smart investment. She had a fine mind and great magical skill, but Lucius had married her for two reasons: her beauty and her blood. So long as she carefully maintained her good looks, Lucius had reason to keep her and to take care of her, which suited her purposes.
At least, it used to.
Today though, she found little solace in her immaculate appearance. Sirius should not have died that way. She did her duty—as her husband commanded—when that house-elf came to her with information about the Order of the Phoenix. She reported all she had discovered, and so lay the seeds for Potter's ambush at the Ministry— but she had never expected it to lead to his death. She LIKED Sirius, after all. She admired—secretly, of course—his refusal to accept the beliefs of his family, his ability to follow his own heart, even if that meant flouting the wishes of his parents. She herself had never had the courage to stand against her father. Now he was offering her a second chance.
In the quiet of her soul, Narcissa realized she would not mind a chance to do things again. Draco had never ceased to disappoint her with his arrogance and stupidity. He certainly was not the son she envisioned bearing Lucius, all those long years ago. Of course, her marriage to Malfoy Senior also left something to be desired. He was neither kind, nor faithful, while she in turn had remained his alone.
No, her life was not as she had planned it to be, when she was married seventeen years earlier.
If she was to take her second chance, she would have to leave Lucius—
Leave the wealth and privilege of the Malfoy name.
Whatever remained, after Lucius had been sent to Azkaban.
She would have to leave her son.
In the end, Narcissa was saddened to see how easy the decision really was. Letter in hand, Narcissa took one last glance at the opulence that had for so long held her captive.
In a flash, she disappeared from Malfoy Manor.