The Power of Suggestion
Author: Kali (thirty2flavors)
Summary: "Why are you a Slytherin?" "Because I'm supposed to be." Sirius takes some of his cousin's advice a little too literally.
Author's Notes: Hmm. Not many notes on this one. Just a little conversation that'd been floating in the back of my mind for a while.
"Why are you a Slytherin?"
The question itself was simple enough, but it begged for a complicated answer. It was obvious that the awaited answer was intended to be sort of long and involved, if you will, perhaps like some fascinating revelation or scientific discovery. It was the sort of question children tended to ask – simple in concept and design, really, but far more complicated beneath the surface. It was the kind of question most parents loathed answering, because whatever the answer the child was rarely satisfied.
"Because I'm supposed to be," came the reply, preceded by a quiet sigh.
The boy slid off of his perch on the dresser, landed deftly on his feet and leaned back against the piece of furniture. Across the room, leaning against the doorway, resided the Slytherin in question – his cousin. Elder by two years, the girl had one arm folded across her chest and tucked under the other, which was currently upright and tucking a piece of chestnut hair behind her ear. He was regarding her with something of a furrowed brow, which she countered with a simple, innocently blank look.
It was Christmas holidays. While to many students the release of school was blessed and coveted, to the two in the room, it was not particularly welcome. Christmas was typically a time for socializing with family, complete with turkeys and laughter and the recounts of what illusive Aunt Mable's been doing with her spare time. The atmosphere here, mind you, was a little different; although the family had done a good job of gathering and there was in fact a turkey, there was not a particularly large amount of laughter nor were there fair many warm-hearted tales. The house was filled more with missed expectations and vocalized failures. In order to escape the clutches of the less-than-loving elders, he had retreated upstairs to the confines of his room and she had followed shortly thereafter.
"Supposed to be is different from have to be, Andromeda," he protested after a second or two of thought, gaze still fixed on her.
Andromeda gave another sigh. "Not in this family."
He gave a bit of an agitated noise in response to that, rolling his eyes. After fifteen years of differentiating between the two, he figured he knew what he was talking about. "They're different if you make them."
Glancing to her left, the girl reached over and shut the door quietly, although not before peeking down the hall. Leaning back against the door once it was shut she gave a little shrug. "What would be the point, Sirius? What would I achieve by blatantly defying them? What have you achieved?"
Sirius arched an eyebrow at that, growing visibly annoyed. Standing up straight he looked at her incredulously. "What do you mean, what have I achieved? What have you achieved by conforming to their wishes constantly?"
"Not much," the seventeen year old admitted, shrugging and walking toward the window, promptly pulling the blinds open to let in the light reflecting off the snow. "It makes life at home a little more bearable, though, if they think I'm doing what they like."
"If you didn't they'd—"
"Treat me how they treat you?" she finished, glancing over her shoulder and arching an eyebrow. "I'll pass."
He sent a little scowl to her back once it turned again.
"I'm not saying you deserve it," she amended when he failed to reply, eyes still focused on the snow outside. She breathed onto the window and lifted a hand to the condensation, running a slender finger through it. Her finger moved in a heart pattern and she put a little arrow through it before deciding to elaborate. "I admire you for standing up to them, actually. I don't do it myself because... well, I suppose that's the reason you're a Gryffindor and I'm not."
He moved to the window next to her, staring out at the snow with a look that seemed to suggest the snow was at fault for all the problems plaguing them. "You shouldn't be a Slytherin, An," he said after a moment, shaking his head. "That's not who you are. Not really."
Andromeda smiled and moved her gaze from the shape she was drawing in the condensation to her cousin. She almost seemed rather amused by the whole thing. He met her gaze and leaned to the side against the window sill, eying her almost skeptically. "Why are you?"
"Sirius –"she began, smile fading.
"No," he said, interrupting, "that's not what I mean. I mean... why? Why really? Why on Earth would the Sorting Hat put you there?"
Andromeda considered his question, and Sirius found himself rather annoyed by the sort of amusement on her face. "You really want to know?" she asked, arching one eyebrow up at him and keeping the gaze.
"Yes," came the stubborn reply.
The girl seemed to consider him for a second longer. She leaned down, since he was leaning on an angle and she was tall, scarcely a couple inches below six feet, mouth next to his ear as she whispered: "I asked it to."
When she drew back from his ear, she was not particularly surprised by the rather appalled look on the younger boy's face. Both his eyebrows had risen and his mouth was hanging open just slightly with distaste.
"Why?" he asked a second later, and she noticed it sounded rather accusatory.
"Because I'm not you, Sirius. I may not agree with my parents on a lot of things but that doesn't mean I'm going to question their authority constantly. It makes life so much simpler if we're not butting heads constantly. "So long as I'm under their roof I follow their rules –"
"Why? Why don't you ever object? Why let them control you like that?" He'd stood up straight again, arms gesturing for a bit of added stress. All the while the girl remained calm, faint hint of a smile at her lips.
"I suppose I didn't inherit the Black obstinateness," she said, definitely with a hint of amusement.
He caught the amusement and his eyes narrowed in a rather scrutinizing manner, staring at her. "Are you implying something?"
Andromeda decided it was best not to reply; hotheadedness was another Black trait. Instead she merely cast her gaze around the room, ignoring the question. She took a few steps across the room, glancing down at the dresser and picking up a small mirror to peer at it curiously. "Look, Sirius, you and I just have different levels of patience. You've always been so eager to get out and I... I suppose I just haven't seen the hurry, is all."
The next question was another simple one, though it was asked in a quieter manner than before. "How can you stand them?"
She snorted. "I can't."
He gave an exasperated sigh to that, rolling his eyes upwards. "Then why..." he began, leaving the question unfinished as a thought occurred to him. "You're not... afraid of being disowned?"
The first reply to that question was laughter, and she set the mirror down, turning around to look at him again. "Oh, hell, no," she replied instantly, shaking her head. "I could care less if I'm no longer a part of The Noble and Most Ancient" – this was said with something like sarcasm – "Black family." It rather amused her how pleased he looked when she said that. "I'm just not in as much of a rush to get myself blasted off that bloody tapestry."
Sirius smirked and shrugged. "Why do tomorrow what you can do today?"
Andromeda chuckled for a second and shook her head. "I'm all for getting out of this, Sirius. I graduate in six months and the instant I do I'm out of here. I've got this Muggle friend – Ted – and the instant I get off the train I'm going to live with him." She smiled slightly before adding, "My parents don't know yet, of course, but they'll find out when the time comes." She moved to the door and opened it, glancing up and down the hall once again before hesitating in the doorway, gaze still fixed on him.
"Take my advice, Sirius. Running away only works if there's somewhere to run to."
With that she turned and headed into the hallway, summoned by the smell of the turkey from downstairs, and Sirius blinked after her, considering. A second or so later he followed her out of the room and down the stairs, a bit of his hallmark grin tugging at his lips.
Andromeda, he supposed, was unaware of the power of suggestion.