Disclaimer: We all know that I don't own the Malfoy's, the Black's, or anyone else from Harry Potter. If I did, I wouldn't be sitting here writing fanfics, would I? I just get to hold their leashes.
The Problem With Andromeda
Arranged weddings were something that people of high caliber and proper pedigree were used to. There was no such thing as love, and even if there was such a silly emotion, it was not meant for the daughters of the house of Black. There were three of them. The eldest, Bellatrix, had accepted her scheduled marriage to one Mr. Rodolphus Lestrange, and so it had gone off without a hitch. What was best was that the two seemed to somewhat get along. Their parents had matched temperaments perfectly there. The youngest, Narcissa, had also accepted her fate. She understood that, once the holidays were over and the remainder of her seventh and final year at Hogwarts was completed, she had two weeks before her own wedding to the Greengrass boy. She understood and intended to carry out her duty, no matter how that boy made her crinkle her nose in disgust. She, like Bellatrix, was a proper daughter. Which was why neither of them could explain what their middle sister, Andromeda's, problem could possibly be.
It wasn't as though it was a bad match. They were roughly the same age, only a year difference with him being the younger. He was rich beyond anyone's dreams. And yet, the wedding of Andromeda Black and Lucius Malfoy was constantly being put off. There was always some ill-concocted reason for it: she couldn't find the perfect dress, the flowers she wanted were out of season, the hall she wanted to hold it in (screw Malfoy manor, according to her, she'd have to live there and didn't want all her wedding pictures featuring the place) was booked for the date that she wanted, she'd have to pick a whole new date for that, it seemed that hall was booked for forever, the shrimp that had been put together were all just too small, new ones would need to be caught and cooked – never mind that they were shrimp and shrimp were supposed to be small.
None of them had any idea how Mr. Malfoy was putting up with it all. On the outward, he was everything a gentleman was supposed to be. But after two years of having the wedding put off, the man was tired of being embarrassed so. His last visit to the Black house had been a rather strained one. He and Malfoy Sr. had paid their usual visit with Andromeda, Cygnus, and Druella in the parlor. Narcissa kept out of it, no matter how much curiosity picked at her to find out what was going on. Eavesdropping wasn't something a proper lady did. However, proper ladies were usually older than sixteen.
The young woman had made her way down through the house and carefully settled just outside the door of the room to listen in to their conversation. There was plenty enough time for her to get out of the way should they decide to come out. Besides, she could easily hide in a little nook made by a post in the wall that jutted out and the bust of some dead relative. Besides, this was an important visit. She couldn't just ignore it. Especially with the way that voices were already being raised.
"It's been two years, Cygnus!" the loud voice of Malfoy Sr. made its way to her ears as she raised her eyebrows. "Two years of having the wedding put off for one ridiculous reason or another! It's an embarrassment! How much longer do you intend to allow your daughter to put off this wedding!"
"Abraxas! Come now, do you really think this yelling will help anything?" returned Cygnus, pausing a moment. The Malfoy men tended to have such terrible tempers. "Can you really blame Andromeda for wanting her wedding to be perfect?"
"Yes! I can! With all the money I've invested and, thus far, lost for this 'perfect wedding'? I can blame anyone I want to for it!" he snapped furiously, obviously taking no concern for Mr. Black's request to avoid the yelling. Druella interrupted with something, but Narcissa could not hear what her mother said, merely that it was followed by the scraping of chairs as the two elder men clearly resettled down into their seats.
"Now that we've all calmed down," Druella preceded, Narcissa having had to creep closer to the door so that she could hear her mother properly. "What is it, exactly, that you propose we do, Mr. Malfoy, to solve this… little disagreement?"
"It has been decided that this wedding will not be put off any longer, for whatever reasons your daughter can come up with. The wedding will take place this Saturday. There will be no hall; the gardens at the Malfoy Manor will do just fine. She's had enough time to find her dress. There will be no more delays," Abraxas said, almost so softly that Narcissa, close as she was, could barely hear him. But at that, she took it that the meeting was over. She got up quickly as she heard chairs moving as people got up and retreated into her hiding spot, tucking herself as far back in as possible. She barely caught a glimpse of the occupants of the room leaving, Andromeda first and in a rather hurry to disappear into her bedroom, the Malfoy's heading down through the house to the front door and out, and Druella and Cygnus muttering under their breath to each other before Druella headed to prepare dinner and Cygnus headed off to his own private study to do something or other for the remainder of the afternoon.
The rest of the evening had gone by in relative silence. The four of them had a strained dinner together, Andromeda refusing to speak to either one of her parents at first, Narcissa merely trying to keep any attention off of her. Neither Cygnus nor Druella seemed to care that their remaining daughter was so silent. As far as they were concerned, Andromeda was disgracing them with the continuous delay of her wedding and the Malfoy's were right to put a stop to her silly actions. And when it came to Narcissa, they didn't really have all that much to talk about. The only thing that concerned them about their youngest daughter was her grades, and they weren't really that much of a concern to begin with. It was as if she wasn't there as they started arguing about the wedding upcoming that Saturday night.
"I'm telling you, I refuse. I will not marry Lucius this Saturday, that is far too soon!" Andromeda protested, fork sitting on her barely touched plate.
"Too soon?" Cygnus repeated, blinking as he attempted to make sense of that one. "How do you get that this is too soon! You've been delaying for nearly two years now! Lucius has put up with more than enough humiliation at your hands, you should just be glad that his family hasn't completely called it off yet."
"Glad? You really think that I should be glad, father? I don't want to marry him at all and you find it a good thing that he's still going to settle for me?" she asked sharply, glaring across the table. She didn't even know why Lucius was still going to settle. She knew full well, as did everyone else, that he would be having affairs. The only thing Andromeda would be there for would be to have his child. Undoubtedly it had something to do with the Black family lineage. That had to be the only thing of interest.
Druella looked full ready to slap her middle child. "Andromeda, you shut your mouth right this minute. You seem fully determined to put this family to shame and your father and I will not allow that to happen. Come Saturday evening, you will be marrying Lucius Malfoy. Your father and I let you stay home for far too long, we have over-coddled you. By Sunday, you will no longer have a home here."
Andromeda looked between her parents in shock. Well, if that was how they wanted to play the game, then so be it. Her plans laid a little over two years ago would merely need to be rushed. She pushed her chair back from the table.
"Fine. If you'll excuse me, I fear I've lost my appetite," she said coolly, not waiting for a response from either parent as she got up and left the dining room.
Narcissa spared a frown after her sister, growing uncomfortable as her parents set their gaze upon her. She shifted lightly in her seat, uncrossing and then re-crossing her legs in the opposite direction. It hadn't taken very long for the air to settle into a less hostile mood and Druella picked up the usual dinner conversation. "So, Narcissa. How are your studies coming along?"
Narcissa had been eager to escape that dinner and, as soon as it was over, she found herself upstairs in her own bedroom, relaxing in the quiet that was up there. There was no one shouting, no one complaining, and, best of all, no one to interrupt her bath. She'd gathered her things, her nightclothes, and headed off to lock herself in the bathroom, filling the tub with hot water, followed by her favorite smells before slipping under the bubbles and settling in with a small sigh. It hadn't taken very long for her to end up falling asleep in the water.
It was with a start that she woke several hours later in the now cold water, which was minus the bubbles. What had woken her up, she wasn't sure. She wasn't even sure how long she had been in there. However, the deep wrinkles that covered her hands and feet were an indication that it had been clearly too long. Shivering, she drained out the tub, rinsed off in warmer water, and got out, dressing quickly. It didn't help to warm her, but it was something. She left the bathroom, dropping her things off in her room with a glance at the wall clock. 2:33. She had been in there for far too long.
After brushing her hair back, she headed downstairs to fetch a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows. Extra marshmallows. And whipped cream. And that's exactly what was on her mind when she walked headfirst into a large object in the hallway. She stepped back with a frown to see what was blocking her way to find a man standing there, giving her a confused look. Before she could say anything, Andromeda came out of the nearest door – which led to her bedroom – several items in her hands. There was also a trunk sitting out in the hallway.
"Ted, I can't seem to find the parchment. I need to at least leave a letter. Do you know whether it's all in the tr-" Andromeda was saying distractedly before noticing that he wasn't paying attention. But it was what distracted him that made Andromeda frown deeply. Her younger sister. That was not a good thing. "Cissy. Shouldn't you be in bed?"
Narcissa huffed at that. In bed? How old did Andromeda think she was? "I could ask you the same question," she snapped, glancing over at the other before turning her attention back to the man she didn't recognize. "Who're you?"
Ted, who felt fairly uncomfortable, looked over to Andromeda with a frown and no clue as to what to say. Andromeda seemed to not notice and was quickly putting herself between them. "Cissy, just calm down. This is Ted. He's just… helping me."
"Helping you to what?" Narcissa asked sharply, lip curled slightly in distaste at Ted for just being there. What could Andromeda possibly need help with?
"To leave," the older said with a shake of her head and, before the protest could start, had cast a silencing charm on her sister. "I am not marrying Lucius Malfoy. I am not going to be stuck spending the rest of my life playing the happy little wife to that man. And you are not going to get in my way," she said coldly, shaking her head.
Narcissa was clearly furious and would be yelling on the top of her lungs if she hadn't been silenced so quickly. Andromeda was disgracing the family. Someone had to stop it, talk some sense in to her.
"I'm sorry, Cissy. You'll understand some day, I'm sure," Andromeda added on, regarding her sister sadly before raising her wand once more and, in a flash of red, stunned her. With her sister out of the way, Andromeda finished her packing, left that letter, and was soon off with Theodore Tonks, her real fiancé.