She dances when no one can see her.
With a shaking hand she closes the door. It is something she has done so many times before, but for the first time, she pauses, listening for any sound, for any sudden movement.
She climbs onto her small bed, pressing her feet slowly into the crisp, clean mattress. Several long seconds later, she exhales.
She keeps her head down and watches her feet. They bounce lightly up and down, barely leaving a mark. She finds safety in something so strangely hypnotic; she notices no one and no one notices her. But she eventually has to break the trance and remember why she is in her room in the first place. So before she can regret it, she jumps.
She misses dancing.
As a small child, she used to dance. She remembers the way her hands could never quite touch the rough ceiling, no matter how hard she jumped. She remembers the way she felt so weightless, almost as if she could fly.
Dancing came naturally to her when she was young. The jumping, spinning, moving randomly about until she was dizzy was effortless to her. Though she is less graceful and comes dangerously close to hitting the ceiling as she dances, she is glad to see that she has not lost the feeling of exhilaration that comes with dancing.
She can forget everything when she dances.
The thoughts in her head become slower as she gains speed. She enters a world distant from her own. It is a familiar place, one she hasn't seen in a long time; but most importantly, it's far from everything she sees too often. It is the most beautiful place she ever sees.
She knows little about professional dancing, but finds comfort in the way her body moves so fluidly and unexpectedly in her spontaneous dances. She has no final destination, no way to know exactly how or when she will stop, and she is content with that. She is not afraid to close her eyes, not afraid of falling off the edge of the bed. She never has been. When she does open her eyes, she sees colors blending into each other, images that she does not try to make sense of.
She never wants to stop dancing.
A burning pain begins to spread slowly across her legs. Beads of sweat drip down the sides of her face. Yet she pushes herself to keep dancing.
Briefly, she considers stopping. She wants to stop. But she remembers how long she's gone without dancing at all, and knows that she must keep moving while she has the chance.
She surprises herself when she dances.
Her petite body shakes the room with a surprisingly great force. The rusty springs of the bed still give in under her weight, and for a long time, all she hears is the constant sound of the bed rising and falling beneath her.
She is caught off guard when the door begins to open, and the creaking of it breaks the rhythm of her dancing. Her already pounding heart skips a beat, and then begins beating louder and louder as she slows her body and sees her sister standing in the door way, her usual sneer on her face.
She must stop dancing.
As she slows, then sits down on the bed, colors become clearer and come together into images again. She knows that she should be grateful for the opportunity to stop, but her aching limbs and throbbing head do not discourage her. Stopping only brings attention to problems, and she needs nothing more than to forget those.
She cannot find the right words to say to her sister, so she remains silent instead. She feels foolish as she glares at her sister, though. She should have realized sooner that she is not fazed by something as simple and childish as a mean look.
"Andromeda, why are you dancing? I thought you gave that up years ago." Bellatrix's voice is cruel and harsh.
Fighting back tears, Andromeda retorts sharply, briefly, "I did."
"So why are you suddenly doing it again?" she drawls as she studies her long, ragged fingernails.
Andromeda watches her sister as she leans against the frame of the door. Bellatrix moves her eyes from one area to the next of Andromeda's plain bedroom, and then finally settles her ruthless gaze on her. It is then that Andromeda knows for sure that Bellatrix has no intention of leaving anytime soon.
Andromeda knows that she should only focus on answering her sister, but she can't help but let her mind wander. The anger and fear tumbling inside her eventually fades and gives way to surprise. She tries to remember the last time she saw Bellatrix. Through twisting thoughts she eventually manages to estimate that it has only been several months, which surprises her. Andromeda has not been counting the days or even months since she left, but she feels as if it has been longer. Bellatrix had completely lost contact with the family, and though Andromeda usually gives little thought to this fact, she can't help but wonder sometimes if her sister would ever come back.
Mimicking the tone of her sister, Andromeda asks, "So why are you suddenly here again?"
She wants the courage to keep dancing.
Bellatrix does not answer for a moment, clearly caught off-guard. She tries to hide this, but still stumbles as she creates a weak excuse for Andromeda. "I wanted to see my family again. You couldn't have possibly thought that I would never come back." Andromeda finds the sickly-sweet, high tone of voice Bellatrix has adopted disgusting.
"Bella, you know you can't fool me with that horrible voice. We both know that you're loyal to the Dark Lord now, not the family."
"Yet you're the one who is secretly seeing a Muggle-born," she responds casually, as if it isn't actually a secret, as if she isn't trying to hurt her sister.
To Andromeda, this only proves that Bellatrix only cares about her Master. Trying not to show her anger or shock, she asks, "How do you know about that?"
Her expression instantly becomes more somber. She studies the floor as she searches for the right words. Andromeda cannot remember the last time her sister censored her thoughts.
Finally, Bellatrix looks up again with a look that Andromeda assumes is meant to look cold and harsh. She figures that that is how the Dark Lord tells them to act in every situation. But Andromeda knows her sister well enough to know that the way Bellatrix is looking at her is far from genuine.
"Secrets aren't safe anymore, if they ever were safe. You should know that."
"But I don't…and because of that, I don't believe you. You've been trying to brainwash me and Cissy so much these past few years." Andromeda does not look at her sister as she speaks with a surprising amount of authority. Instead, she turns around and stands on the bed again, and then begins slowly pacing back and forth.
"If you don't believe me, you're just going to have to learn about this by yourself." She pauses, and then says bitterly, "You can't deny that I've seen so much more than you have. And I can't tell you about most of it, but I can tell you to leave Ted now, before something bad happens."
Andromeda turns around sharply. The only thing she can think about is the fact that Bellatrix knows her friend's name. She has never told her about him, or anything else, for that matter.
Once the shock of that fades, a new, strange thought crosses her mind. It is a horrible thought, in a way, but comforting at the same time. Even as she opens her mouth to speak, she knows that it is a bad idea, but that doesn't stop her. "You wish you never heard about some of this, don't you?"
Bellatrix is quick to respond, "I never said that."
"But it's true, isn't it?"
She can't stop dancing.
Bellatrix pauses, opening her mouth to speak several times but then quickly changing her mind. Andromeda cannot take her eyes off her sister as her hands curl clumsily around her wand. She knows that Bellatrix won't hurt her though, for she never has, despite numerous threats.
Andromeda's heart, which has just started to calm down after all the dancing she has done, quickens again. What feels like thousands of thoughts consume her at once.
This can't be happening.
It isn't happening, Bella said so. But she always lies to me.
She needs to put that wand away, deal with this some other way.
She realizes that she will never know for sure what her sister truly thinks. But maybe it's better this way, she thinks, hoping that it is the last thought she will have on the subject for a long while.
Andromeda watches her sister as she turns to walk away, then briefly turns back. "Forget this ever happened," she demands.
As Bellatrix is about to leave, Andromeda asks quickly, "Want to join me?" even though she is still just standing on the creaking bed, occasionally moving from one end to the other.
She laughs. "No, Andy, I can't do something as childish as that."
Andromeda is strangely relieved by this. Her sister closes the door on her way out, leaving her alone in the musty room again. She does not hesitate this time as she bounces lightly on the bed, then jumps.
She will never stop dancing.