Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. The use of its characters, locations, and universe in general is merely a lend.
Companion piece to Daybreak. Someone mentioned in a review that it would be nice to see the Blacks' reaction, and for some reason I thought, Narcissa.
End of the Day
I was the first to realise something was wrong. I normally don't take to intuition or any other form of Divination—we knew it was a gift, something one was born with and couldn't be taught. And I won't say that the first thing that came to my mind when I awoke that morning was that something had happened. On the contrary, my thoughts went in the general direction of Lucius Malfoy, and when would I be able to meet him again.
I dressed for the morning and found my family already assembled on the breakfast room. Father was buried behind the Daily Prophet, Mother was reading a letter and Bellatrix was apparently ignoring us all. She had that particular look on her face that indicated she was indeed mad at something.
"Where is Andy?" I questioned, and too late I remembered Bella and Andy had had a fight the day before. My older sister shot me an exasperated look, but it was Mother who answered me.
"Andromeda is in her room," She said, without taking her eyes off her letter. Someone outside our family could easily interpret that phrase to mean simply what it stated. But I knew better. Mother was highly displeased with Andy's behaviour as of late, and for my sister to deem her presence unnecessary in such family moments like breakfast was truly like a slap in the face. But Mother would never say it, for it would be to admit some sort of defeat.
"Hmm," Father murmured noncommittally, turning a page of the paper. Our parents always had a special ability to communicate their sentiments without actually using any words. What Father had meant right there was that he'd rather have a daughter stuck in her room refusing to see us, than have her outside our house doing Merlin knew what.
Ah, the irony.
That was the first moment I thought something was slightly off. Despite some tendencies to ignore some traditions and standards imposed by our parents and our society, Andy had mostly observed such family moments. That pattern had been broken this previous weekend, when she had unexpectedly left during the Charity Ball that the Malfoys had thrown for St. Mungo's at Saturday, and she had only returned home on Monday by nightfall. That was, in fact, the reason why Bella and Andy had argued.
Over the years, I learned that Bellatrix Black never had any sort of qualms about speaking her mind. My oldest sister had such a lively and forceful personality that it was only what I'd grown to expect of her. She was passionate in her beliefs and had no problem whatsoever with meddling with what weren't strictly her affairs. And when she thought that her sisters were doing something wrong, she wouldn't hesitate to say so.
Bella had been quick to admonish our sister, calling her behaviour disrespectful and damaging to her image as a Black. The problem itself wasn't that Andy had gone away for the weekend, only sending word by owl back to our house after she'd left the party. After all, Bella herself had indulged in such escapades every now and then. No, the problem was where Andy had chosen to go.
The note that she'd sent back said she would spend a couple of days with her friend Emmeline Vance. (The fact that owl was one from the post office at Hogsmeade instead of one from the Vances' made me think that maybe that wasn't exactly true, but I let it go for the moment in favour of more pressing matters.) That friendship had been a source of worry ever since it'd been forged, sometime around Andy's fifth or sixth year at Hogwarts. Emmeline was a nice girl, actually; smart, she'd been in Ravenclaw. The only issue we had with her was that for the last few decades her family was quickly becoming one of Muggle lovers and blood-traitors. One could see how that would be source of conflict within our family, after all one of our very own, a Black, was being exposed to such things as Muggle culture and beliefs. And with it came such silly ideas that mudbloods should have more rights and other such nonsense.
That had always been preached to us ever since children: Muggles were dangerous people that didn't know how to deal with power. Since the little mudbloods were part Muggle, how could we trust them with rights within our world? Who would know what sort of chaos they would create? Not to mention the fact that fusing our blood with one that wasn't magical should only wind up diminishing our powers.
Of the three of us, I've always accepted what we've been told without much discussion. It made sense and who was I to argue? My two sisters, however, were two different extremes in that matter.
Bella had embraced our pureblood philosophy completely, and had even gone further. Muggles had no idea that magic existed, and to her such ignorance only proved how beneath of us they were. When we were children, she took particular interest in History and I remember seeing her incensed that those filthy Muggles had forced our people into hiding, and she'd said that the biggest revenge would be to torture them all into slavery. At the time, I hadn't thought much of it as Bella had always been very expressive, and I'd thought they had only been words spoken at the heat of the moment. But as we grew up, I saw her taking a decidedly more active approach. She was part of an organization created by a dark wizard self-entitled Lord Voldemort; an organization that believed we needed a revolution, that the changes that we needed would only come through war. And war had come about a year ago, and I had no doubts that Bellatrix was right in the thick of things, doing whatever in the name of her Dark Lord, as were many of our friends.
And for many years I believed that Andy was just like me: accepting, even if not enthusiastic about the whole matter. I was quite shocked when I learned that, in fact, she started questioning our beliefs, and then more recently when she started arguing with Bella about them. Andy had started thinking like a Muggle lover blood-traitor, and how had that happened? The Vances were our answer.
Of course, that was simplifying things a tad too much, not to mention ignoring the pink hippogriff in the middle of the room: Andy's disastrous choice of pursuing a relationship with a mudblood. However, after she finished Hogwarts and came back home, we had all decided to ignore what we now called her "past indiscretions" in the hopes that it would soon be out of her mind permanently, as if it had never happened at all.
If only things could ever be that simple.
After breakfast, I decided it was wisest to stay well away from the other members of my family. As I walked down the hall of the second landing and passed by Andy's door I wondered if I should knock and talk to her, but in the end decided against it. I reasoned that she would have good reasons not to come out of her room, and Merlin knew in what kind of mood she would be after her argument with Bella.
I spent the morning out shopping with my roommate from Hogwarts, Ariadne Greengrass. We bought new dress robes and shoes for the benefit that the Parkinsons would throw that weekend. After that, I met Lucius for a spot of lunch in a new posh restaurant in Diagon Alley, one of the many businesses that he was investing in. We had a lovely time and I only returned home well into the afternoon.
I hadn't thought of Andy or our family dramas since that morning, but as I Apparated into the foyer of the Manor, I was irrevocably reminded of what had happened. Father had just slammed the door of his studio down the hall and Mother was pacing restlessly inside the drawing room to my right. As I approached silently, I noticed she had a letter clutched tightly in her hands.
"Insolent, ungrateful little..." I heard her murmur under her breath as she looked at the piece of parchment and still paced in front of the empty fireplace.
"Mother?" I questioned cautiously, walking further into the room.
Her sharp blue eyes turned suddenly on me, and I saw them flash rather dangerously. Mother stopped walking and pulled herself high. The look she gave me was a cold one, something not entirely uncommon coming from Druella Black. Slowly a sneer took over her delicate lips.
"Narcissa," she said calmly. "Did you just return?"
"Yes, Mother" I answered slowly. "I was out having lunch with Lucius. Is everything..." I trailed off, as if she had robbed me of words, as her penetrating stare kept trained intently on my own eyes.
"Oh yes, lunch with Lucius," she repeated, and the sneer transformed into a somewhat bittersweet smile. "Did you have a good time?"
"Yes, it was lovely," I replied earnestly. "Mother, what—?"
"I do hope so," she interrupted me abruptly, "and I also hope you appreciate everything we've done for you." She walked towards me and lifted a hand to lightly pat my cheek. "I expect at least that much gratitude and respect from my own daughters." Still staring into my eyes, she lowered her hand and then turned to the door. Almost as an afterthought, she turned back from the doorway and shot a quick spell with her wand before walking into the foyer and going in the direction of Father's studio, I believe.
My eyes had followed her lightening-quick spell and I watched as it burned a small hole in the tapestry hanging on the far wall. It contained our Family Tree, and such a hole could only mean one thing. My mind was running in circles, putting together what Mother had said and everything that had happened in the last few days, but I refused to believe it and my feet refused to move so that I could confirm it.
Instead of walking to the tapestry, I walked away. I went up the stairs and to my room, and there sitting on my bed was a white envelope with Cissy written in impeccable and unmistakable handwriting. I knew it was from Andromeda. And I realised that was the first moment in my life that I stopped thinking of her as Andy and started thinking of her as Andromeda.
I sat beside the letter and hesitantly fingered it, but I couldn't bring myself to open it. Those were my sister's final words. After that, I knew there would never be any other form of communication between us, for she no longer existed in my life. Her choices had sealed that as our fate.
The letter Mother had in her hands was a single sheet of parchment, but I could sense there were several sheets inside the envelope addressed to me. In a way, I'd expected it. Andromeda would've tried to explain her reasons to me, and plead her case, ask for forgiveness. She would say that she did it for love, and that I would understand that, more than anyone.
I did love, but I didn't understand. I loved Lucius but I also loved my family, and if Lucius hadn't been who he was, if he'd been a mudblood or even a half-blood, I think I wouldn't have loved him at all. I liked being in love but I would never risk my life over it. And I could never understand how Andromeda had thought that she could make things work with a person who'd had a life completely different from hers, someone who practically lived in another world, someone who was so beneath her.
My thoughts were interrupted as I heard a great crashing sound in the next room. Heart thumping, I went out in the hall, hoping for the unimaginable for the noise had come from Andromeda's bedroom. As I entered it, my heart sank when I saw not the sister whose unlikely return I had hoped for one wild moment and I merely found Bella pacing up and down the length of the room. She had several sheets of parchment tightly clutched in one hand. Her other hand was occupied with her wand, that she just then brandished, sending a crystal vase smashing in the opposite wall.
"I can't believe this," she said, mostly to herself as I didn't think she saw me standing there by the doorway. "How could she do this?" A music box suddenly flew from the dressing table and smashed into the French window opening to the balcony, shards of glass and pieces of lacquered wood flying everywhere.
"Bella..." I whispered as she continued on her path of destruction, lightening the fireplace with a cry of rage and sending to the fire the entire contents of the wardrobe. She turned to me as I watched all the clothes that had belonged to our sister burn in the flickering fire.
"Did you know?" She asked in a low tone, her grey eyes stormy and ablaze, her features taking on a manic appearance. Numbly, I shook my head as I watched the firelight dance across her face. Seemingly satisfied with my wordless answer, she resumed pacing up and down, her wand flickering every now and then, destroying more objects.
"That filthy little blood-traitor," she started murmuring anew. "How could she leave us? Betraying her own flesh and blood, sullying our family name, disgracing us all with shame and dishonour!" Suddenly the bookshelf to my right exploded as Bella turned with a violent outcry.
"Bella!" I could only cry out in fear before this. I knew Bella was capable of violence. She did it easily and quite often. However in my whole life I'd seen her use her wand to protect me and our sister, and punish those who did us wrong. Right now she was lashing out at everything that had once represented Andromeda, as if she could reach her somehow and punish her as well.
"She will die." Bella had stopped walking, her voice now a whisper so that I could barely hear her over the roaring fire. "She left us. She left me." Bella looked up at me, and behind all the anger I could glimpse the hurt in her eyes. "She's no longer a Black. The moment she stepped out of this house her life was forfeit. She will die."
My sister surveyed the damaged she'd inflicted upon the room. Something seemed to have caught her eye amongst all the broken glass on the floor, and with a flick of her wand something flew to her hands. I approached silently and saw it was a picture of the three of us, taken in Bella's last year at Hogwarts. The three sisters were in uniforms, beaming up at us. I noticed the Andromeda in the photograph was crying despite the beautiful smile she had. Slowly, Bella walked towards the fireplace. With one final glance, she tossed both the picture and the sheets of parchment into the fire.
"She's already dead," Bella whispered as she walked by me. I noticed the tears that glistened flowing down her face as she left me alone in that room.
A moment later, I stared at the envelope still unopened, still in my hand. For a moment, I considered casting into the fire, just as Bella had done. I nearly did it. But something stopped me. I couldn't put it into words, that feeling, but I couldn't do it. Instead, I sent it back to my room. I wasn't sure if I would bring myself to read it later, but neither could I destroy it.
I can't tell how much time later I finally moved and I suddenly found myself standing right in front of the Family Tree. And there, right between my name and Bella's was a hole similar to a cigarette burn. My fingers slowly traced it, somehow expecting it to be hot to the touch but it was quite cold.
"So it's true?" I whipped around as I heard a voice coming from the doorway, and I found my little cousin Sirius standing there. "Andy... left?" I didn't know what to make of the expression on his face. It was part crushed, part... hopeful? Naturally, Sirius was very close to Andromeda; at least since Bella (who'd previously doted and spoiled him rotten when he was a kid) had spurned him once he was sorted into Gryffindor. And I could imagine that he felt as betrayed as I or Bella did.
"What are you doing here?" I questioned in place of answering his query.
"Uncle Cygnus flooed, we came here," he simply replied with a shrug, now pokerfaced. "She left?" He insisted as he walked towards me, the light of the setting sun playing shadows across his young and handsome face.
I couldn't trust my voice to respond, so I merely nodded and indicated the tapestry. He stood there, staring at it for a very long time and slowly lifted his fingers, but unlike me he didn't trace the burn. He traced his own name.
"The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black..." he murmured slowly. I watched as his eyes flickered with something indefinable. It somehow spoke of dreams, choices and freedom. It was something I'd once seen in Andromeda's eyes. My blood ran cold at this thought.
"Toujours pur, Sirius," I recited in a firm voice, both a reminder and a warning. He looked at me, grey eyes meeting blue. His gaze was firm, unwavering, as if he'd reached a conclusion of his own. In a way, I knew nothing I could ever say would somehow weigh in his mind. He was just as obstinate as my sister had been. I could only hope for the best and keep on whispering, "Toujours pur."
A.N.: I would never be able to write here the letters that Andy left for her sisters. For how would one say goodbye?