I'm posting this at work. Because I just wrote it. My boss is out of town, can you tell?


The vase shattered into shards of crystal against the stone wall over the fireplace, but it didn't make Bellatrix feel any better. Rodolphus flinched slightly, but said nothing, knowing well enough that if he did she might start throwing things at him. She whirled, frustration boiling up when nothing else to throw came immediately to hand. She was so angry she could taste it, rage hot and choking her.

"How could she?" she said, not for the first time, the question kept coming over and over. How could she have done this? To them? To herself? "I never thought she'd really do it. Never!"

The news of what Andromeda had done had traveled quickly, as scandals did. Father had slammed out of the house without a word, probably to the Ministry to see what could be done. Mother had blasted her middle daughter off of the family tree and promptly had an attack of hysterics until a house elf sedated her. But Bella couldn't believe it, she simply couldn't wrap her mind around it.

"How could she...with that...that mudblood..." The thought of it, the thought of Andy with him made her skin absolutely crawl.

"Bella, you can't possibly be surprised," Rodolphus said hesitantly.

"Shut up!" she spat. "You don't understand! She was just trying to get a rise out of Mother, that's all. She couldn't possibly...I never thought she'd go through with it. It's disgusting. A Black! With...with that...how could she?"

She had always been the wild one, the impulsive one. Andy had been quiet, mostly well-behaved. Uncle Alphard had commented once that still waters ran deep, but Bella thought she knew Andy. Knew her better than anyone. Knew her at least well enough to know she would never run off from school to elope with a mudblood.

"I hate her," she hissed, testing out words she never would have thought she'd say about Andy. "I hate her."

Without anything else to throw, she caught up the letter on the table, the tearful note from Cissy insisting she hadn't known, she'd had no idea that Andromeda had been planning this, it wasn't her fault. Bella threw it into the fire, just to have something to burn, her rage at Andromeda bleeding over onto Narcissa. Narcissa was there, at Hogwarts, how could she not have known, not have stopped her? How could she have done this to Cissy? To both of them?

"My sister, and she's turned out to be a blood-traitor," she ground out, the shards of crystal crunching under her shoes as she paced rapidly, trying to find some outlet for the frustration and anger that felt like it was consuming her, tightening and constricting in her chest so she could hardly breathe.

She whirled suddenly, picking up her wand that had fallen to the floor when she started throwing things. Rodolphus moved now, for throwing vases was one thing, throwing curses was another entirely.

"Bella, what are you doing?" he said.

She turned and looked at him, anger rushing out as suddenly as it had started and leaving calm resolve in its wake, she answered him in a perfectly level voice.

"I'm going to kill her."

"So, I guess you heard?" said a wry voice from the doorway. They both turned, and found Sirius leaning against the doorframe, hands in his pockets, surveying the wreckage of the room impassively.

Without a word, she crossed the room and slapped him, hard. "You filthy little blood-traitor. You knew! You helped her."

He brought a hand up to where a red handprint was appearing on his cheek, but didn't back down. "I don't know what you're talking about, Bella," he said, with a nasty smile and absolutely no sincerity. The message was clear: she couldn't prove it. "She said to tell you she's sorry. Not for escaping, and not for marrying him, but for breaking a promise to you. And she said to give you this." He held out an envelope. Fine, cream-colored stationary with simply "Bella" written on it in Andy's elegant script. Sirius turned and walked away, and she barely saw him go, childish voices filling her head...

"You won't leave me Andy, will you?"

"Of course not."

"No matter what I do? Promise!"

"Bella, I promise I won't leave..."

She strode over to the fire.

"I hate her," she said again, her voice sounding hollow and unconvincing to her own ears. She stood still, willing herself to throw the letter into the fire, there was nothing Andromeda could say to make this better, but her fingers refused to obey. Slowly, she put it in her pocket, and crossed her arms and stared into the flames.

"How could she?"