Hope you like this chapter. Honestly, I had forgotten about this story and had this chapter written for a really long time. I planning on trying to jump back into it. :) Hope you love it.
So sorry I waited so long to continue it... It was more of a project then but I plan to take it on now if people like it. :)
I won't lie
I still can't say that I
Admit we went too far
And you won't see me change my mind
But I really wish that I
Could forget the way you are
- Rainy Monday (Shiny Toy Guns)
The scent of roses filled the air, and as cliché as that started to sound, it smelled terrible.
Cedrella always preferred the smell of lilacs.
"Oh, Arcturus," Aunt Violetta gushed. "She's absolutely gorgeous. So unique."
They were sitting in the back yard, right in the middle of their pretty garden. Roses were every where in a wide range of colours, surrounding Cedrella like a smothering cloth. A fountain was babbling not three feet away with water spouting from the mouth of a greyhound, and the sound was starting to get repetitive, just like Aunt Violetta's comments.
The adults were sitting around the glass table, drinking lemonade in the pretty summer sun. Rumors were discussed, gossip was brought up, but Cedrella seemed to be the main topic.
"You are going to have to consider who she will marry," Uncle Cygnus said formally. "You could get her a much more well suited husband than Callidora or Charis could dream of."
"A Malfoy or a Diggory," Uncle Sirius suggested, eating on one of his favorite blueberry scones. "Think of the possibilities. A Malfoy being married to a Black. They would be unstoppable."
Cedrella was seven. It was the first time she had ever heard the subject of her betrothed come up, and it would certainly not be the last. While other seven year olds may have not even known what this topic meant, Cedrella knew it very well. Callidora had to go through it, and while she was not married at the age of nine, she had a good idea that her life would be spent with the older Longbottom boy from down the block; a boy who almost had as much money as the Blacks and almost as nice of a house. Too bad his looks were not comparable.
"It's been thought about," Arcturus, her father, stated. He took a gulp of his lemonade and glanced over at his middle child. He soaked in her appearance as she sat on a small stool, playing with an animated broom that Uncle Sirius had brought back from the World Cup last fall. It flew around in her small, fragile hand like a lost bird as she looked down at it with the utmost boredom.
"Tiberius Malfoy is her age," Cygnus explained. "And I work at the Ministry with his father. A certain amount of money could get him to cut off Tiberius' betrothed. Malfoys' are greedy gits, you know."
Cedrella could hear the other children coming closer as they screamed and laughed. All of them were red in the cheeks from play. She looked up only to see that they were coming toward her and that the adults were going back into the parlor in order to keep their conversation unheard.
"Cedrella!" Charis exclaimed, running over to her like mad. She was still just a baby, only five, with long blond hair floating behind her and her gray eyes sparkling. She was a pretty baby, so very pretty, but not pretty enough.
Cedrella smiled and handed her the glass of lemonade that sat beside her, calming the hot and sweaty little girl. Out of habit, she straightened her younger sister's dress.
"Why wouldn't they let you come along?" Callidora asked with her usual sense of concern. "We had so much fun!"
Cedrella shrugged. She was not in the mood to talk about why she had to miss out on another play date. The adults always wanted her around to look at, she assumed. They studied her, talked about her, but never directly communicated with her.
"I know why."
Abraxus Malfoy was two years Cedrella's senior, like Callidora, and happened to be the biggest git she had ever met. He lived at Malfoy Manner which was a mile down the rode from the Black Mansion, and he often came to play with Callidora and torment Cedrella. His little brother, Tiberius, was at his heels, flushed and gasping for air. Tiberius never liked to play in the sun.
She squinted her eyes at him with fury. "Leave me be, Abraxus."
"Why?" Callidora asked. Sometimes she could just be plain ignorant.
Abraxus grinned his snake like grin that put him and his brother apart. "Why, because she is the favorite."
"Favorite?" Callidora inquired. "Our parents do not pick-"
"Of course they do," he insisted. "That's what every high-ranked family has. A favorite. I'm my parents favorite because I am the better looking, the most talented, and the one that will bring even more wealth to our family."
Tiberius didn't even flinch, like he already knew all of what was being said. He was wiping his face off with his little white handkerchief.
Callidora looked like she was trying to decide if she would rather give Abraxus a bloody nose or cry. Her gray eyes took in the sight of Cedrella. Maybe it was a realization that was in her eyes; a moment of taking in everything that had been happening since Cedrella was born with those gorgeous black locks and haunting blue eyes.
"It's not true," she muttered. Cedrella flinched, but never let her eyes waver from her elder sister. Even when Charis started to tug at the hem of Cedrella's brand new, emerald green dress that her father had bought her the past day.
"Sure it is," Abraxus said, shaking his head. His eyes were not of a nine year olds, but were cold and the colour of steel. They were on Cedrella, even when he was speaking to Callidora.
"Just look at her," he smiled wolfishly. "She can't come play because your parents think if they keep her around grown ups, she will act like one-"
"It's because she is in trouble," Callidora insisted. "She did something wrong, was put in a time-out." She looked over to Cedrella as to see if her younger sister would tell the Malfoy boy off and all would be well. But that was impossible, because it seemed that Abraxus had hit the perfect note. Cedrella didn't know completely why she had to sit and drink lemonade with her parents and aunts and uncles, but was positive it was not because she was in trouble. She was never in trouble.
"Right?" Callidora asked desperately. Her pale hair was hanging in her face, but she did not bother to brush it back.
"Why do you think she takes more dancing lessons?" he asked, twisting the knife. "And has her own private tutor, rather than going to the private school we all go to?"
Cedrella looked down at her new black shoes that matched her new emerald dress, and to keep from showing the way she felt, she started to wish for a new emerald ribbon.
"Where's Calli going?" Charis asked, tugging on Cedrella.
Callidora was running into the main parlor, right where the adults were. She didn't see them, but something made Cedrella think tears were going down her face. She threw a glare at Abraxus.
"Why did you do that?" She asked, standing up to go after her older sister.
Abraxus' eyes were softer when he told her this, his face not showing that hideous smile. He towered over her, but she peered into his face like he was one of the bushes that had been cut into the trade mark Black greyhound by the gardeners. Her mother always tried to claim she had done that herself, but everyone knew she had never touched a leaf in the Black garden.
"Bugger off," she spat.
"Face it." The smile was back. "You are the beautiful middle child of Arcturus Black, and you always will be. Your sisters will get used to stepping down for you."
Cedrella had Charis' hand and was walking quickly toward the glass doors that led to where the adults and Callidora were. The Malfoys', she assumed, were heading home for brunch. Abraxus only pushed Cedrella buttons enough to make her flinch, but not to react. Coward.
She reached the family just in time to see Callidora reach their father, making him grunt in disapproval from being interrupted. Cedrella could only stand there, watching her older sister make a fool of her self.
"Father," she said, her chin surprisingly held high. "Can I ask you something?"
He smiled at the family as they went into dead silence, wondering what this idiotic girl with pale hair and eyes that reminded you of nasty weather had to say.
"You do not pick favorites, do you?" she asked. Now Cedrella could hear the plea, the tears rolling up in her throat. "You do not think Cedrella is better..."
"Of course I do."
He did not even flinch. He did not even take in his daughter's pleading face to agree with her in initiative. He did not even make the point to be polite, considerate, or even modest.
Cedrella watched in silence as Callidora shakily walked off, and Cygnus made the comment that she should 'understand life'. Her father never looked to see if she was okay, only going back to earlier discussion. His handsome features never faltered.
Her tears were hot, sicking her pale hair to her pale face. She came up to Cedrella who still stood in the door way with Charis. She did not smile, nor frown. She did not glare at Cedrella or ask why or even bother opening her mouth.
She simply took a piece of Cedrella's black hair in her hand, studying it with wonder. Her gray eyes met Cedrella blue ones, her pale hair tangled in the same hand that held Cedrella dark locks. They were comparing each other, watching the other's face as they did so. Callidora looked as if she had come to a great decision.
She dropped Cedrella's hand. Her face went red with an unexpected, yet calm fury.
"I will never be jealous of you, dear sister."
Cedrella's eyes went wide. It was just a whisper; a whisper with so much venom that Cedrella stepped back as Callidora grabbed up Charis and headed out the door, leaving her to be ' the beautiful child of Arcturus Black' all alone.
Her jaw clamped so hard it ached. She felt an arm rest on the top of her shoulders with a casual weight.
Pollux was standing beside her, looking after Cedrella's two blond sisters with a combination of humor and sympathy. A horrible combination.
"And so it begins," he said, just before turning her around and leading her back to sit with the adults -- where she belonged.
"Pollux Sagittarius Black," Cedrella demanded as she followed her cousin into the entry hall, "tell me why it is so important that you escort me to the train now. You never cared before. Tell me why or I shall have to hex that atrocious smirk off your face."
Pollux let out a short laugh as he lowered his wand, bringing Cedrella's baggage to rest next to the large oak door. It was still rather dark out, and Charis was leaving with Dorea later, so it was just she and Pollux in the otherwise empty entry way. He turned around once the baggage had settled and continued to smirk at his favorite cousin.
"Nasty in the mornings, aren't we?" he asked with a laugh. Cedrella continued to glare pointedly at him, though the very corners of her lips were turned up ever so slightly. Pollux grinned wider still and said, "I have a surprise."
Cedrella's eyebrow rose in interest, and her lips parted in a bit more of a smile. "How big is it?" she asked as Pollux began to walk away, heading toward the large kitchen.
"Big enough to satisfy your spoiled little heart, I assure you," he said over his shoulder, already in the next room.
Cedrella entered the kitchen and walked over to the large glass and marble dining room table, taking the seat to the right of the head, where Pollux now reclined. Two little house-elfs came out so fast they appeared to have materialized beside her. One was holding a tray of food over its head, the other pumpkin juice and glasses. Pollux relieved them of both and set them on the table, taking out a glass for himself and Cedrella as the elfs disappeared again.
"I am not spoiled," Cedrella protested as she took it. "I'm just curious, is all. And with good reason. You forget how well I know you, dear cousin, and you've always got something up your sleeve." She took the jug of juice and began to fill her cup. "Forgive me if I'm being cautious. Surprises from Pollux Black tend to result in a trip to St. Mungo's. Don't you remember that time you told me you had to show me something in the lake and it turned out to be—"
"Yes, yes, I remember," Pollux interrupted before she could finish the anecdote. "With you always around, how could I not? Every time I try to give you something I have to hear about it." Pollux paused to sip from his drink, his smile not well hidden behind the clear glass. "I'm starting to think you've become ungrateful."
Cedrella laughed. "As long as I'm not injured in the process, I am very grateful," she said as she sipped at her own drink. Her lips pulled into one of her irresistible smiles, and Pollux couldn't help but notice the radiance that surrounded his baby cousin when she smiled like that.
"Put that smile away," he snapped, smirking from over his glass. "It could be used as a weapon."
Cedrella smirked at him in response, turning her head slightly to the left and raising an eyebrow, though she was clearing holding down a laugh. She picked up a blueberry muffin and took a nibble.
"It's not a cat, is it?" she asked, making a face. "You know I detest cats… or any other sort of animal, for that matter."
Pollux rolled his eyes and laughed. "For the love of Merlin, Cedrella, I would never get you something that required love and care. Do you take me for a mad man?"
Cedrella scoffed at him and said, "Well, I wouldn't say you're entirely sane either." She took another bite of her muffin. "So no owl?"
Pollux had taken another sip of his drink, and when he swallowed he said, "Of course not. Didn't we just say it would be nothing you'd have to actually care for?"
"Owls need hardly any care," she protested, "they're basically self-sufficient."
Pollux nodded and sipped again at his drink. "All right, that's true. Still, do you really need another? I would have thought three would have been enough for you."
Cedrella smiled and her face lit up, blue eyes sparkling. "Oh, is it jewelry?"
Pollux downed the rest of his drink and set the glass on the table before he stood up. "You seem to forget, dear cousin, that I just bought you a custom-made diamond necklace that is worth more than a portion of Hogwarts itself." He paused and his annoyed expression softened a little. "I'm starting to think you are ungrateful." He turned away from her and headed for the door back into the entry hall. Cedrella got off her chair and followed him out just as he was picking up her suitcases and pulling out his wand.
"Now," he continued pleasantly, "let's make our way."
Cedrella frowned at him as she laced her arm through his. "You're not going to tell me, are you?"
Pollux laughed and looked down at his cousin. "Not just now, no. I'm having too much fun making you squirm."
Cedrella narrowed her eyes in his direction. "You are evil, Pollux."
Pollux laughed again, seemingly unfazed. "Hark whose talking," he said. "You put me to shame with your wit."
Cedrella turned forward again, trying to fight her smile. "Yes, well…" she said, clearly not denying what he'd said. "Just get on with it. Let's go."
"As you wish, your royal highness," he said, his tone dripping with sarcasm and humor. He winked at her and then she felt a sudden jolt around her midriff and her feet no longer touched the ground. A moment later, they landed solidly on the ground again in the familiar back alley near King's Cross, and he caught her when she teetered. The unpleasant effects of the Apparation had begun to subside, and she and Pollux fell into synchronized step together as they headed toward the station, Pollux carrying all three of her suitcases without much trouble.
The pair made their smooth entrance onto Platform Nine and Three-Quarters and began heading down it. Heads turned and followed Cedrella as she walked. She didn't turn or acknowledge them in any way, though, as she was well used to the stares of others.
Head held high, Cedrella had just reached the compartment she would enter on the train when she felt a heavy blow from behind that caused her to stumble. Livid as an angry cat, Cedrella wheeled around, eyes blazing, to find the squirmy little first year that must have bumped into her, who apparently wasn't smart enough to know by looking at her that she was a Black—Cedrella Black, no less. Rather than finding a frightened eleven year old, however, Cedrella was met with a sight that caught her completely off guard, and a rare note of surprise registered on her face.
She was staring into a pair of gorgeous, yet truly unwanted hazel eyes just beyond her cousin. For a moment, Cedrella felt her breath catch and her mind was whipped blank. They were familiar, but also very different. The look in the eyes that stared back at her was one of puzzlement at first, but as she knew her own eyes must be hardening, so did his. There was bitterness apparent now, as well as something else that Cedrella couldn't quite place. She watched him calculating her and felt her lips pull into a hard line. She didn't like the feeling he stirred in her; the combination was unnerving. This was the very last person she would have wished to have run into on the train.
Finally, he spoke and the spell between them was broken. "Terribly sorry," he said, his tone just barely hiding a note of sarcasm. He was still regarding Cedrella, but the intensity of the gaze had been lost with the interruption of voices. "All my fault, naturally."
Before Cedrella could make any sort of reaction, Pollux had turned and spoken instead. "Ah, Septimus. Indeed it was. You should watch your filthy steps, Weasley."
The trio was drawing a slight crowd now as students pretended to board the train and put trunks away, while really training their ears to catch what was being said.
"Pollux Black," Septimus replied simply at first; the words fell from his mouth with a clearly sour taste. "I'll keep that in mind."
Pollux continued to stare into Septimus' eyes, and neither one of them dared break the dangerous gaze first. Cedrella could see the raw anger and distaste in her cousin's eyes, and not surprisingly, the hatred was mirrored in Septimus'. "You'd do well to, Weasley," Pollux finally said, his lips curling into a smirk. Still not removing his eyes from Septimus', he touched Cedrella's arm and said, "Come on, Cedrella. We needn't waste anymore time in… present company. We'll find you a better compartment."
Cedrella hadn't realized her eyes had never left Septimus' face until he turned his own on hers. After seven years of carefully calculating the way she had avoided Septimus through halls, classes, and weekend activities, she knew she would show some form vulnerability; something she had grown to hate. She lifted her chin and watched Septimus for a moment longer, narrowing her eyes at him before heeding her cousin's guiding hand.
They hadn't even gone ten paces when Pollux seemed to remember something. He turned on his heel, cloak swishing about him, and regarded Septimus with a smug look just as he was climbing onto the train. "Oh, and Weasley?" Pollux called. Septimus stopped but didn't turn.
"I hope you weren't really expecting Quidditch Captain this year," Pollux said, not bothering to hide the glee in his tone. This seemed to be enough to make Septimus turn around. His jaw was clenched tight as he said, "Why?"
Pollux chuckled and glanced fleetingly at Cedrella, his eyes full of amusement. "Because, you see, I have been asked to Coach this term. And you know I won't settled for anything less than the best."
Ah. So that was the surprise Pollux had been going on about. Not an owl or a pendant… but not entirely disappointing either.
Cedrella looked back at Septimus to see what his reaction to this news would be. His jaw pulsed, but for a moment, he didn't say anything. Then his eyes found Cedrella's again, but this time she was ready for him. She returned his gaze with an amused one of her own; she even turned her lips up in a smaller version of her cousin's smirk, turning her head a fraction to the left and raising her eyebrows as if to say, "Hurts, doesn't it?"
Septimus, however, did not glare back; in fact, he didn't allow Cedrella any sort of reaction she would have liked. There was no surprise in his expression as he watched her, but something else; something that tugged at the pit of her stomach in an uncomfortable and highly annoying sort of way. The look was so familiar, yet so different than it used to be. His eyes finally left her when his best mate, Konrad Diggory, came and clapped his shoulder to get his attention.
"What's up, Sept?" she heard Diggory ask as she felt Pollux's hand on her arm, gently turning her to walk away.
Septimus looked up one last time as Cedrella was half-turned to leave, and she paused. "Nothing," he answered, still looking at her, and then he turned his gaze down again and followed Konrad down the train corridor.
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