A/N: This is my first attempt to write a Harry Potter story. Since I am very intrigued by the Black family, I have chosen to focus on the three sisters Bellatrix, Andromeda and Narcissa and their separate fates in life. In the story I have taken some liberties with the ages of the characters to make them fit the story a little better.
Chapter 1 – A loving family
"Have you joined the deatheaters?" Andromeda demanded again.
Bellatrix laughed, a haughty, unpleasant laughter that made her dark eyes shine. "Is that what your filthy mudblood of a husband has told you?"
"Answer the question. Have you?"
Bellatrix was still smiling. "Maybe. Maybe not. Would that disappoint you somehow?"
"Sirius has told me that he suspects that you and Rudolphus have turned into Lord Voldemort's special favourites," Andromeda said knowingly.
"I need not care what your muggle loving friend suspects." Bellatrix voice was nonchalant.
"My friend?" Andromeda could only shake her head. "He is my cousin – and yours as well, Bellatrix."
"Maybe he was. Not anymore. Nature cleans out the vermin from every pack you know."
Andromeda stared at her. The words stung and yet she was not surprised to hear them. "Are you going to give me an answer to my question?"
"Why should I? I have no reason to tell you anything." Bellatrix raised one of her long fingers in a graceful movement to pull a stray of black hair out of her face.
Andromeda glanced at Narcissa, as if she expected her to say something, support Bellatrix or protest against her words. But Narcissa said nothing. Her blue eyes were like ice and they were looking at Andromeda like she was invisible.
Andromeda turned back to her older sister, determined to provoke an answer from her. Her eyes narrowed slowly. "Are you afraid of telling me the truth?"
The effect was immediate. There was a flash inside Bellatrix's dark eyes and in a fierce movement, she leaned over towards her sister. "I am not afraid," she hissed empathically. "There is nothing for us to be afraid of. We are many and we have powers beyond anything your little mind can imagine. And we are determined. We will not rest until every grain of mud has been erased from the wizard world." Her eyes narrowed. "And that includes your pathetic so called husband and your filthy little half breed sprog."
Andromeda's whole body turned cold. She had hoped against all reason that Sirius had been wrong, that it was all a mistake, but deep inside, she had always known. She closed her fists hard, but she managed to keep her voice flat. "I hope you realize that I will become your enemy if you do."
Bellatrix laughed again, harshly and mockingly. "Wake up to the real world, Andromeda. You are already our enemy. You have been since the day you chose to betray our family."
"Come on girls, time for the annual picture!" Cygnus Black waved at his daughters to line up in front of him.
They were standing at the crowded platform 9 ¾ in the middle of the chaos that was always present this time of the year. The Hogwarts express was about to arrive and pick up the students for yet another semester. Everywhere around them, children where milling around with their packed suitcases, followed by their anxious parents.
Bellatrix Black glanced at her father like he was mad. "No, I won't. Not this year. You can't make me. I am seventeen now, you know. I can decide."
"Don't be silly," her mother Druella scolded her. "We won't see each other until Christmas. Surely you want your father and me to have something to remember you by until then?"
Bellatrix made a face. "It's embarrassing. I don't want to make a spectacle of myself in front of everyone in here."
"It will be quick and no one needs to see anything," her sister Andromeda assured her.
Their parents gave her a grateful look and Narcissa added: "Come on, Bella! It won't be the same without you!"
Bellatrix hesitated, but her mother gave her a sharp look. Sighing, she gave in. She went to stand next to her sisters. They were all dressed in their elegant black Hogwarts robes of thick velvet and their green and silver neck clothes that revealed that they all belonged to Slytherin, the house of ambition and cunning. They followed the family tradition; they were all Blacks, pureblood witches and they belonged to the aristocracy of the wizard world. But the clothes could not hide the fact that the three sisters were strikingly unlike each other.
Bellatrix was standing to the right, smiling stiffly. She was the oldest and probably the most beautiful of the sisters. She was seventeen years old, tall and slender with a worthy, graceful bearing. Her hair was coal black and contrasted sharply with her pale skin. Her dark, flashing eyes reflected intelligence and strength, but also her determination and her ambition. She was not someone you would want to cross.
Narcissa was standing in the middle with a pretty smile upon her lips as her two older sisters placed their arms around her in a tender and protective gesture. She was the little sister and she was always treated as such. She was almost fourteen with Bellatrix's height and slimness. But where Bellatrix was as dark as the night, she was as light as the sun. Her hair was like gold and her blue eyes like sources of fresh water. Narcissa was the quietest of the sisters and not very inclined to open up to anyone outside of the family. Few people could say that they really knew her.
Andromeda was standing to the left, grinning widely towards the camera. She was the middle child and unlike her sisters, you could not call her a beauty. She was fifteen years, of average height and weight. Her hair was brown with auburn strays and her eyes softly hazel. She had the best grades and was more interested in school than either of her sisters. Andromeda was usually considered a friendly and relaxed girl, but she could be stubborn and wilful when she felt like it, much to the annoyance of her parents and her older sister.
"Oh, you look so pretty," said their mother with deep satisfaction, as her husband took the pictures. "I can't believe you are going to leave me again. I will have to look at you smiling and waving at me all the time or I don't know how I will stand it."
Everyone who knew her would know that it was a ridiculous sentence. Druella Black was a busy woman and her social duties usually kept her too occupied to spend much time with her daughters. In truth, she considered boarding schools a delightful invention. Her husband was not very different. Like most people from his class, Cygnus Black would never dream of occupying himself with anything as vulgar as paid labour. He had a stack of gold at the Gringott's bank that kept his family well provided. But he had exclusive wizard clubs and societies that claimed much of his time.
The train arrived with a loud, whining whistle and the chaos at the station became worse than ever as everyone hysterically tried to find their compartments. The Blacks only had time to take a hasty farewell of their daughters.
"Take care of yourselves! See you at Christmas!" Having accepted their parents' kisses, Bellatrix and Andromeda pulled Narcissa with them in Slytherin ruthlessness through the masses of people towards the nearest wagon.
They caught their father's final word as they boarded the train, from somewhere in the crowds behind them. "Toujours pur!" he shouted.
Those were the family words; the words they lived their lives by.
The Black sisters had found an empty compartment and Narcissa and Andromeda managed to haul their suitcases up on the shelves. Bellatrix could simply use a spell to put her own there. She was seventeen and allowed to do magic outside of school. But being the teasing person she was, she flatly refused to help her sisters.
Overall, she seemed to be in quite a cranky sort of mood. Perhaps she was sorry that this was the last year she would spend at Hogwarts? By spring, she would have graduated and she would be on her own. Maybe that was what bothered her. She wasn't very fond of school, but she was certainly concerned with her own future.
"Why are you staring out through the window like that?" Andromeda asked her, chewing on a chocolate frog she had bought from the snack trolley. "Do you really think he is desperate enough to send his falcon chasing after the train?"
"If I want to look out through the window, I should think it's my business," Bellatrix snapped back.
Andromeda shook her head. "Honestly, why do you keep sitting and pining after him like this? He is not that special. I don't understand why you don't just walk up to him and ask him yourself."
"No, of course you don't understand, Andromeda," said Bellatrix darkly. "It would be too much for your little brain."
"All right, fine," said Andromeda, shrugging and kept munching on her chocolate. "But I really think you could find someone better."
Bellatrix turned from the window and watched her younger sister with cold eyes. "You really shouldn't eat that much chocolate. It will ruin your skin in a way that no potion will be able to help."
"Hasn't someone ever told you that beauty comes from the inside?"
"Which does not make you any prettier," Bellatrix remarked.
Narcissa sighed deeply. "Why do you have to keep squabbling like this? As soon as we get away from mother and father, you practically bare your teeth. I am sick of it."
Andromeda smiled reassuringly at her younger sister. "Didn't you know it's just because we try to stay in shape? Don't you agree, Bellatrix?"
Bellatrix smiled, despite herself. "Of course I do. Nothing like some bickering with my darling sister to raise the pulse. We duel with words instead of wands."
They all laughed and the atmosphere inside the compartment improved. In truth, Bellatrix and Andromeda did fight quite a lot, even if they tried to look upon it in a good humoured way once they were finished. Somehow Bellatrix always seemed to feel that Andromeda went out of her way to make things difficult for her, while Andromeda found that Bellatrix always tried to use her authority as the oldest sister to order her about.
"You have better give me some of that chocolate," Bellatrix sighed. "I need to be cheered up."
Narcissa generously handed her some frogs. "I am sure he will write you soon," she said encouragingly.
"Let's not talk about that," Bellatrix muttered. "We'll discuss something else instead. Are you really going to join the Quidditch team this year, Narcissa?"
The girl blushed. "I don't know. I think I could make a decent chaser, but mother did not seem to think that it was fitting for a young lady."
"Who cares about that?" Andromeda asked, shrugging. "What you do with your spare time is your business. Besides, I am sure father would be delighted. You know how much he loves Quidditch even if he was always worthless at it back in his day."
"Exactly," Bellatrix agreed. "But I think you should be careful. You must consider that you will be forced to play against the likes of that stuck-up Gryffindor seeker, Potter or whatever he is called. I swear I have never seen anyone committing more fouls in my life." She snorted to herself. "He is as much a git on the pitch as he is outside of it. It is really no wonder that he is such good friends with..."
Bellatrix stopped abruptly as the door to the compartment was flung open. She bit her lip. Speaking of the devil, her face clearly said.
Their cousin Sirius Black stepped in, a wide grin painted over his handsome face. He was the kind of person who took few things seriously unless he had to and even though he had doubtlessly heard Bellatrix's words, it was not enough to spoil his mood. As always, his long black hair hung freely down his broad shoulders and his grey eyes sparkled mischievously. It wasn't so strange that he was considered irresistible by many of the girls at school. He looked very much like Bellatrix – but their appearance was the only thing they had in common.
Sirius' mother Walburga was the present matriarch over the house of Black and along with her henpecked husband, Orion, she represented the family from their ancestral home at 12 Grimmauld Place where all the important gatherings took place. Sirius was her oldest son and the one who was supposed to take over as head of the family when she was gone. Sirius did not like that view at all however and the last few years, he had tried to keep as far away from the family as he possibly could.
The three sisters looked upon him in three completely different ways as he crossed the threshold. Bellatrix glared darkly at his appearance. Andromeda smiled eagerly. Narcissa was blushing and her fingers automatically flew up to arrange her blonde hair. She held her breath as he approached them, but sighed in disappointment as he settled down next to Andromeda.
"What a joy to find my dear cousins here," he remarked, still smiling. "How are you all?"
"We were fine," answered Bellatrix coldly. "Until just a few seconds ago or so."
Sirius chuckled. "I love you too Bella," he said and flung her a kiss which made her blush with anger.
"How was your summer?" Andromeda asked him. They had always been close, since they were the same age and thought of things in pretty much the same way. She considered him the brother she never had.
"Great," he answered. "Just fabulous."
"We haven't seen you at any of the family meetings," Narcissa remarked shyly.
He smiled casually at her. "No and I guess that's why my summer has been so good. I have kept at distance from the noble and most ancient house of Black." His tone was dripping with sarcasm and Bellatrix's frown deepened. Andromeda sighed. Sirius had always taken pleasure in provoking other people.
"It's nice to know how you feel about us," snapped Bellatrix.
"Oh, don't take it personal. But you must admit our family is getting madder with every new year."
"If that is what you think, then I really don't understand what you are doing here." said Bellatrix contemptuously. "I thought you and your friends would be too busy planning how you are supposed to play pranks on every innocent member of Slytherin at school."
To the Blacks, it was a sensitive subject that Sirius had not been sorted into Slytherin when he first attended Hogwarts. Unlike every other member of the family, he had ended up in Gryffindor, a house that accepted muggleborn wizards and witches. His parents had been horrified and they still claimed that he had somehow purposely manipulated the sorting hat just to vex them and bring shame on the family name. What made them even angrier was the fact that Sirius refused to regret having been placed in the hole of mud.
"Then you shouldn't have anything to worry about, Bellatrix," Sirius answered. "You are hardly what I would call innocent." His eyes roamed over her hands. "Still no ring on your finger? That's a pity, you really need to work faster or you will be covered with moss."
"Sirius..." Andromeda said warningly as she saw the steam practically leaking out of her sister's ears. "That was unnecessary. You should apologize."
"Oh, don't bother, Andromeda," Bellatrix spat. "Can't you tell he is just like them? He is in Gryffindor because he belongs there, among the muggles and half breeds and the rest of the scum.
"Quite right, Bella," Sirius agreed and suddenly there was a hard sparkle in his eyes. "I do belong with them."
The silence in the compartment was thick with tension and suppressed hostility as Bellatrix and Sirius kept glaring at each other, like they were in a quiet war. Andromeda and Narcissa glanced at each other with concern and Andromeda quickly tried to improve the situation.
"So where is Regulus?" she asked him in a light-hearted way. Regulus was Sirius' younger brother and much to the relief of his parents; at least he had been sorted into Slytherin.
Sirius cringed at the mention of his brother. "I haven't seen him since we left the platform. I suppose he is somewhere with his pureblood friends studying Innate nobility just to prepare himself."
"I am glad to hear that at least someone is taking his duties seriously," said Bellatrix acidly.
Sirius started laughing. "I must admit I have missed the affectionate atmosphere in our family. We are all so close and loving, aren't we? It is almost worth celebrating." He pulled a bottle out of the wide sleeve of his robe.
"What's that?" Narcissa asked him breathlessly.
He grinned. "Oh just some good old spiked honey beer."
"You are crazy!" Andromeda exclaimed, but she couldn't help laughing. "How did you manage to do that?"
"Oh, I admit it wasn't easy. My mother demanded to control my suitcases twice, but I managed to mask it as pumpkin juice. I was going to share this with James, but I will give it to you instead. Isn't that a proof of my loyalty? Come on girls, let's drink to peace – or war or whatever it will be."
Even Bellatrix couldn't hold back a reluctant smiled. They poured themselves a mug each of the liquid. Sirius raised the bottle. "To our beautiful family, the Blacks!" he shouted. "Because we all love each other and stick together, no matter what!"
The sisters raised their mugs and drank. The liquid was strong and Narcissa coughed violently. Bellatrix and Sirius engaged in a drinking game and were soon more than a little tipsy. Andromeda felt something tingling inside her. She wasn't sure if it was just the drink.
She could already see Hogwarts' old castle before her with its high temples and towers. It would soon be filled with nervous and hopeful students. Some would arrive for the first time, others for the last. Dumbledore, the headmaster would be waiting and the other professors with him. They all had a new year ahead of them full of work, of joy, of laughter and tears. It was an exciting prospect, but also a little bit intimidating.
Andromeda glanced around in the compartment and smiled. Come what may, she felt safe and content knowing that the three people she loved most in the world would be with her.