Title: We Meet Again
Fandom: Harry Potter
Warning: slight blackcest
Disclaimer: I don't own them.
Summary: A few years after the end of the first war, Narcissa and Andromeda finally meet again.
Note: Many thanks to lightbluenym for betaing!
Narcissa felt a slight pressure against her back as fingertips passed over her spine. The touch lightened after the initial press and then began to trail down, gently ghosting towards the small of her back before slipping away from her body completely.
Pale eyelashes fluttered, closing over grey-blue eyes. Narcissa took a deep steadying breath, and then turned, a flax eyebrow lifted archly on her forehead, already knowing who she would find standing behind her.
"You followed me," Narcissa breathed out, grey-blue eyes focusing on cerulean orbs that had once been so familiar to her.
"You wanted me to," Andromeda replied, holding her little sister's gaze steadily. She was unimpressed by Narcissa's haughtiness. She was haughty too. Black's were born haughty, and besides which she was taller than the blonde. "You were leading me away."
Narcissa inhaled sharply and had to struggle to keep her eyes from closing as the familiar husk of Andromeda's voice washed over. She hadn't heard her sister speak in years, but she knew the tone and pitch of her voice as if she had heard it the day before. It warmed her to the very core of her being, just as it had as a child.
Andromeda looked much like Bellatrix, and she sounded much like Bellatrix. Narcissa knew that at a glance many people couldn't tell the two sisters apart, nor could most people distinguish between them based on their voices. But to Narcissa there was, and always had been, a vast ocean of difference.
Bellatrix's voice reminded her of blood and the taste of copper. Bellatrix was sweat. Bellatrix was night, snarling lips pulled back over gleaming white teeth. Bellatrix was damp earth under her feet and her breath misting in the air as they stared up at the cold diamonds twinkling in the inky sky. Bellatrix was frantic movements and swear words.
Andromeda's voice reminded Narcissa of very different things. Andromeda's voice soothed and comforted her. Her voice was a warm blanket on a cold night. It was warm afternoons in the garden, and steaming mugs of tea. Andromeda was floral print dresses, warm, lingering hugs and laughter like music.
"I was leading you away," Narcissa said softly, unconsciously taking a step towards her sister. "I wanted to you follow me," she continued allowing her eyes to trail over strong cheekbones, a strong, noble nose, and full, pink lips that were drawn in an inscrutable line at the moment.
"But why, Cissy?" Andromeda asked, her cultured tones curling around the blonde's nickname icily, as auburn eyebrows inching together elegantly.
Narcissa's lips twitched in an almost smile at the sound of it. She herself and Severus were the only other two people Narcissa knew of who could milk so much out of two syllables.
"Speaking to me would be an acknowledgement of me as a human being," Andromeda continued, her words stamping out Narcissa's momentary amusement. "What would people say if we were spotted?"
The question was asked calmly. Andromeda's pitch was low, but her voice was firm and as she spoke she did not blink. She was a portrait of control at the moment and anyone looking at her would not have been able to detect a trace of anger, hurt, annoyance or anything other than the mild curiosity and touch of sarcasm Andromeda wished to convey.
Narcissa wasn't just anyone however. She was Andromeda's sister, and though they hadn't seen each other for a very long time, she still knew her sister. She could still see Andromeda despite the airs she put forth – just as she suspected Andromeda saw through hers - and she saw the anger and pain behind her sister's sophisticated façade.
Narcissa's eyes flickered to the left and then the right. She had purposefully started to walk towards a part of the theatre she knew would not get much traffic when she had spotted Andromeda with her husband by the bar, but it was still prudent to check and make sure that they were alone before speaking.
"I never stopped loving you," Narcissa responded finally, voice quivering with intensity as she took Andromeda's hand in her own and squeezed. "You have always been my sister, no matter what any dirty old rug hanging from the wall in Grimmauld Place says."
Andromeda's back remained straight, her posture unforgiving as her beautiful eyes drifted past Narcissa to stare at a brass fixture on the wall behind the blonde.
"You looked around before you said that," Andromeda commented, unable to help the soft sigh that accompanied her words. "You only love me when no one is around to see or hear. In 'polite' company, I am no sister of yours."
Narcissa's back straightened at that and she shifted her stance, turning away from Andromeda to stare past her down the torch lit corridor in front of her.
"If I didn't pretend in 'polite' company," Narcissa began, putting the same mocking emphasis on the word that Andromeda had moments before, "Then you wouldn't have a little sister to condescend to now," the blonde went on, a hint of the usual ice in her voice coming out. "You pretended too, back then, which is why it was so easy for you to run off. Nobody suspected anything of you. After you fled, they suspected me of everything."
Andromeda's posture loosened as Narcissa stopped speaking and she took her eyes away from the brass fixture they had been trained on and turned to look at her sister once more.
"You were everyone's shinning star," Andromeda began softly, a touch of surprise showing in her voice as she stared at Narcissa with wide eyes.
Andromeda knew the strains and pressures that accompanied the Black name, but she was a little surprised to hear Narcissa speak of it. After all, it was a well known fact that when it came to their children, Cygnus and Druella considered the third time to be the charm.
Bellatrix was proud to be sure, but even as a child it was clear that there was something off with their first child. At first, when they were very young, Bellatrix had seemed to be a dream. Both of their parents had doted on her, and fawned over their first born. But as she got older, it could not be denied that there were problems with Bellatrix. Bellatrix lacked control, she lacked reason; she had no ability or willingness to temper or control her moods. Bellatrix possessed a certain amount of charm, she had an innate sort of charisma about her, and for a while the sheer force of her personality made up for her volatile nature. People were fascinated by her and attracted to her in the same way that moths flew towards flickering flames, captivated by the power of the light and heat. However, people learned quickly enough though, that like fire, Bellatrix burned, and very quickly people became wary of her.
Bellatrix was beautiful, and powerful, and smart, but she was also uncontrollable and unhinged, and her antics had been a continual source of annoyance and shame to their parents.
When Andromeda had come along, she had been the apple of her parents' eyes for a while, once they had gone off Bella. She was dark and beautiful like Bellatrix was, like a Black, but she was a child that they could hug who would hug them back. She wasn't as fierce as Bellatrix, as quick to drop her name to impress people or to speak up to defend it, but she wasn't willfully defiant. She was a child they could take out in public and not worry about.
The longer she was at Hogwarts, however, the more she began to lose her shine to them. Bellatrix had reported to them that she was associating with Muggle-borns, and after that her mother began to frown at her more, and her father reminded her to mind her posture more, and she found herself sitting next to young, eligible Slytherin boys at dinner parties rather frequently.
Her parents sensed softness in her. They sensed the possibility for ruin and disaster in her. She looked like a Black, sounded like a Black, dressed like a Black, but the older she got the more apparent it became to everyone that she didn't really think like a Black. She wasn't as obvious about her disdain for her family as Sirius was. She didn't bring shame upon the House and the name Black as he did. She was just too considerate. She was too broadly kind, she was too open with her associations, she was not proud enough.
Andromeda knew that she was, despite her promising start, another disappointment to them. And so, when she had the nerve to fall in love with a mudblood, her parents were able to cut off one of the albatross's hanging from their necks free of guilt.
Narcissa however, didn't have any obvious defects in their parents' eyes. With Narcissa they had managed to achieve what they had failed to with herself and Bellatrix. Narcissa did not embarrass them, or worry them, or challenge them, or disappoint them. Narcissa was their Angel. Professors never wrote home about her, Bellatrix never had any stories about her cavorting about with Mudbloods, she was snooty and condescending to people of lower classes while being perfectly polite, charming and engaging to people who parents felt mattered.
Narcissa was pretty, and polite. She was a good student, she was neat, she was obedient, and while she was very concerned with procuring pretty things, she wasn't at all concerned with things that were actually important. Narcissa cared nothing about social or political issues, she wasn't concerned with injustice, or the plights of downtrodden, or any of those unpleasant topics that Andromeda fretted over while the rest of her family sighed deeply and rolled their eyes before calling for another pumpkin martini.
Narcissa was perfect, and Andromeda could see the sense of accomplishment Cygnus and Druella felt every time they looked at her. Finally, their eyes said as they gazed upon Narcissa, finally we have one worth keeping and showing off.
"They worshipped you like the sun," Andromeda continued, blinking as she pulled her mind back to the present. "You were the pearl of the House of Black." Tapered fingers reached out for Narcissa, and then lightly trailed through her silken white-gold hair. "I thought you would have been beyond suspicion."
A sigh cut through the air, and Narcissa's jaw clenched ever so slightly.
"I might have been beyond suspicion," the blonde began, milking every last bit of derision out of the last two words she spoke, "if I had reacted to you running away as Bella had," she went on, nostrils flaring irritably as she breathed in.
'Beyond suspicion,' the stunning blonde thought humorlessly. As if anybody had ever been beyond suspicion or judgment in their old home. 'Beyond suspicion,' Narcissa's mental voice hissed once more. It was such a ridiculous thing to say, let alone to have believed and for a moment Narcissa hated Andromeda for her naivety.
Grey-blue eyes slashed away from Andromeda's, and Narcissa's back straightened. Andromeda's fingers stilled in her hair for a moment, but after only a moment they began to move again, caressing gently until Narcissa's eyes closed and she leaned slightly into Andromeda's touch.
"But I didn't," Narcissa breathed out, checking and controlling the urge to speak bitingly at Andromeda. "If I could have hated you, or at least pretended to, I would have been fine. Before you left, you were the only one who saw the weakness in me," Narcissa sighed softly, allowing herself to be soothed by Andromeda's ministrations. "Afterwards, they all saw it."
"Weakness?" Andromeda asked, her fingers stilling in Narcissa's hair as her eyes snapped up sharply to meet the blonde's. Andromeda held Narcissa's gaze for a long moment, studying her expression, trying to determine exactly what weakness her sister was referring to. "You mean emotion," she breathed out finally, her jaw clenching as she looked away from Narcissa. "Having real, genuine, human emotions is not a weakness, Cissy."
"It is in our family," Narcissa replied, "It was an affliction that could only be treated with absconding or death," she continued, her eyes fluttering closed momentarily in the silence that followed her words, images of Sirius and Regulus appearing in her minds eye during the brief darkness. "I couldn't run, An. Not after they saw how much I missed you. Bella screamed, and raged and burned things. I sat with my arms wrapped around my knees and cried. With each tear, moping step and longing gaze at the door of your room I saw the disappointment build in their eyes. They began to look at me, like they looked at you in that last year. They didn't think you would actually do anything. That you would … but once you had, they had no faith in me. If one could do it, certainly another could. I couldn't run," Narcissa repeated, meeting Andromeda's eyes once more, "and I've always been too pretty to die."
Silence fell between the sisters after that. Andromeda was deep in thought, considering what Narcissa had just said, and Narcissa was watching her older sister carefully, as if trying to read Andromeda's thoughts through the brief flickers of emotion that flashed across her face.
"You wouldn't have run, even if you could've," Andromeda said finally, her voice steady and sure.
"Perhaps I would have," Narcissa said softly, thoughtfully, "perhaps not. The truth is, we shall never know."
"You wouldn't have," Andromeda repeated. She was certain of it. "Yours is not the gift of action. Your strong suit was always managing the actions of others, twisting things to suit your purpose. You don't create problems, Cissy; you simply react – often in very clever and calculated ways – to the chaos created by the actions of those around you. All you want, all you've ever wanted is to be comfortable … and adored."
Narcissa sighed tiredly, and rolled her eyes, averting her gaze from Andromeda for a few seconds before grudgingly turning to look at her.
"Fine," the blonde drawled, "I wouldn't have run. I had nothing to run to. You had Theodore at least to make the ramshackle existence you plunged yourself into acceptable. If I had run off, I would have been alone and poor," she continued shuddering a little. "And as you said, I do so very much like to be comfortable. So, no, I wouldn't have run, but that's not the point," Narcissa pronounced. "I never said that I would have run, Ann, only that I never stopped loving you or missing you," the blonde continued. "Honestly, Ann. What would you have had me do?" Narcissa asked, a touch of exasperation entering her voice, "That I could have tolerated?" she added a moment later,
Andromeda was silent for a moment and then released a short, harsh breath of air out through her nostrils.
"Give me a hug," she sighed, opening her arms to her sister.
Narcissa was Narcissa, and resenting her for it would do neither of them any good. Besides, even if Narcissa had been willing to try and rough it without her trust fund, Andromeda doubted that Bellatrix would have let the blonde go.
Bellatrix had stalked her for a while after she had left to be with Ted. For a month, when it was dark and she was alone, she would inevitably turn around to find her older sister lurking in the darkness. Bellatrix had always claimed to love her, but much of the time Bellatrix's actions didn't convey much love. Andromeda supposed that in her own way however, that Bellatrix must have loved her. Nothing but love could explain why Bellatrix had used words instead of her fists or her wand, while trying to convince Andromeda to repent her sins and return home.
The last time she had tried and failed to bring Andromeda home, Bellatrix had struck Andromeda in a sudden outburst of anger. But even that act of violence had carried demented traces of love, for after striking her, Bellatrix had managed to do that which had been so very hard for her to do all her life. Bellatrix managed to control herself. Andromeda had seen the fire burning in her sister's eyes. She saw her sister's desire to strike again, and again, to hurt her, to make her bleed, and make her cry. The yearning to punish was so strong in Bellatrix at that moment that Andromeda felt she could taste the rage in the air. Yet despite that, Bellatrix did not strike again. She spit on her, and she cursed her name, but she walked away.
Bellatrix wouldn't have let Narcissa go so easily, however. And if Bellatrix had, Andromeda was certain that their parents would have been after Narcissa to drag her back home because they would not have been able to survive in the same house as Bellatrix without Narcissa's presence.
The eldest Black sister needed Narcissa. To outsiders it always seemed as if Bellatrix had a considerable amount of control over her baby sister, but in reality it was clever and calculating little Cissy who held most of the power in their relationship. Andromeda had thought at times, that the way Narcissa managed to control, soothe and manipulate Bellatrix was a kind of magic itself. In Narcissa's presence, Bellatrix was transformed, she was almost normal, and though Bellatrix never would have admitted it, she needed the moments of peace that Narcissa's presence and surety provided.
"I must say, we should have started with this," Narcissa complained lightly as she stepped towards Andromeda, allowing the taller woman to draw her gently against her.
Andromeda ignored Narcissa's complaining and closed her eyes, concentrating her attention on the feel of her little sister in her arms once more. She knew that she had always been a safe haven for Narcissa growing up, that the blonde had found warmth, and love and protection in her arms, but Andromeda was never sure if Narcissa realized how much helping her also helped Andromeda.
In her last few years at Hogwarts during school vacations, those nights with Narcissa, wrapped in blankets on her bed sleeping or chasing the light of each others wands on the ceiling were the only times that Andromeda actually felt at home in her home.
Narcissa's nose brushed against the column of Andromeda's throat, and the auburn haired woman, sighed contently.
A few moments later, Narcissa lips brushed against the column of Andromeda's throat and the auburn haired woman drew her hands up Narcissa's arms to clutch at her shoulders.
They stayed still like that for a few seconds, Andromeda's hands clutching anxiously at Narcissa's shoulders as the blonde's lips rested against her neck, and then Andromeda sighed softly and relaxed into her sister's touch.
"I want to know you again," Narcissa said softly, her warm breath caressing Andromeda's skin in a way that made the auburn haired woman shiver gently against the blonde. "You have a daughter," the youngest Black sister continued, tilting her head up so that she could see Andromeda's eyes. "You have a job," she went on, her eyebrows scrunching together as her lips turned up slightly in amusement. "I want to know about your life. I want to discover you again," Narcissa concluded, her voice dropping a little and her eyelids falling a little lower over her eyes.
"Discover me again?" Andromeda repeated softly, rolling her eyes at the blonde as she did, "very subtle sister."
Narcissa shrugged lightly, not looking the least bit abashed.
"Why, Cissy?" Andromeda asked curiously. "Our paths have irreversibly diverged. We'll never really be a part of each others lives again," she continued, her fingers unconsciously twitching and the flexing against Narcissa's hip as she spoke.
"That doesn't mean that we cannot 'somewhat' be part of each others lives," Narcissa replied softly. "Would you honestly just walk away from me … forever?" the blonde continued a moment later, grey-blue eyes opening incredulously.
Andromeda's face was impassive as she stared at her sister, but her cerulean eyes burned intensely as she considered the blonde.
She should probably walk away from Narcissa forever. It would be the smart thing to do, she was sure of it. She had been under enough suspicion during the war. Her looks and her maiden name making people wonder where her allegiances really lay even though she had married a muggle-born, had a half-blood child, and not seen or talked to a member of her family for years. She didn't need rumors of reconciliation with Narcissa floating around if someone spotted them together. And similarly, she was certain that Narcissa wouldn't have wanted any rumors about a reconciliation floating around in her circles either.
Besides, she had changed a lot since they were children. When she made the decision to run away with Ted, it had been the toughest decision she had ever made. In a lot of ways she was a Black, even though she didn't share her families feeling on most issues of any importance. She could be haughty and capricious. She could be arrogant, and casually condescending. She frowned if she used a French or Italian word, and you didn't know what it meant. She thought hand-me downs were tacky. She was used to being pampered and catered too. She liked her fairy spun sheets, and tossing laundry into a hamper at night only to find her clothes laundered, folded and neatly tucked away in the morning. She had worried before and after she ran, that she would not be able to handle life in the middle class.
As it turned out, a lot of the things she was used to and thought she needed, were not so important after all. And, far sooner than she would have expected, Andromeda found she did not miss the things she once had, and eventually that she did not even remember what trivial things had been so important to her in the past.
Since she had run, she had known love as it should be, and how to give it as one should. She learned how to live her life without constantly performing, rehearsing, and studying to perfect a part she thought she had to play. She learned that one didn't need to be perfect to be loved. She learned that aloofness and iciness did not elevated one, but rather was a degradation of them. She learned how to look at someone without constantly keeping an eye out for hidden agendas, double-meaning, and manipulative techniques. She learned that love could be simple, and that that was okay.
Having Narcissa back in her life would complicate things. She loved her sister, but love in her family, and love with her sisters was anything but simple. She had not thought much about the ways the three of them expressed their feelings for each when she was at school. She knew of course, that it was 'wrong' and that it didn't happen in other families, but the only family she had known then was her own, and it happened with them. Reuniting with Narcissa, seeing Narcissa again would mean a return to the taboo relationship they had shared as teenagers. They did not know how to relate to each other, or share their feelings for each other without acting a little bit 'in love' with each other. If spending a considerable amount of time in Narcissa's presence, she knew that they could not go without making love as other sisters could not go without hugging each other.
"I would not," Andromeda breathed out, drawing her eyes back over to Narcissa. "I could not," she continued, releasing a breath that had been trapped in her chest since Narcissa posed her question. "I'll meet you."
Staying away from Narcissa would have been the smart thing to do. It would have been the safe option, the sensible option, or one might even say the correct option. But she couldn't do it. Love didn't have much to do with what was safe, or sensible, or correct, or especially smart.
Even Bellatrix who didn't understand words like 'love' was swayed by it; was made sane and destroyed by it. Love made Bellatrix let Andromeda go. Love made Bellatrix's hands gentle and her voice soft when she touched her sisters. Andromeda knew that Bellatrix's mind had often been screaming at her to scratch, and hurt, and shout. She could see the fight in her sister's eyes sometimes; she could see the different sides of Bellatrix dueling in the flickering torch light that danced in the dark pools of her sister's eyes. But love always won.
While Bellatrix was nowhere near as gentle with her sisters as Andromeda and Narcissa were with each other, she was always as careful as a nature like Bellatrix's would allow her to be. She pressed into their flesh with her fingertips, not her nails. She sucked at their skin, bruising it, but she did not bite. She whispered dirty commands and desires in their ears, but she did not call them names or insult them. She softly rubbed wet fingers over their lips, waiting until they opened their mouths, asking instead of simply shoving her fingers inside and taking. She did not like to stay and snuggle, but before she left she would lean down and kiss their foreheads, whispering, "I really do love you." Always, "I really do love you", with the 'really' in there as if she thought they wouldn't believe her without it.
Even Bellatrix, who didn't understand the word love, could still feel it at times, for them, for family.
Turning her back on Narcissa would have been the smart thing, but it wasn't something that Andromeda could actually do. She couldn't walk away, despite the many sound arguments one could make against it, she loved her sister. She wanted to see her, and hear her voice, and smell her scent, and touch her skin. She wanted Narcissa in her life. Through all the years they were apart there had been a dark spot in her heart that Narcissa had once filled and made flush, and healthy and red.
She needed Narcissa in her life, as Narcissa needed Andromeda in hers. That Narcissa spoke to Andromeda in such a public space told Andromeda she needed her. That Narcissa touched her so frequently told Andromeda she needed her. That Narcissa admitted faults told Andromeda she needed her. That Narcissa was willing to put her highly lauded reputation on the line to see her, told Andromeda that Narcissa needed her in the same dumb, dangerous, senseless, and primal way she needed the blonde.
"The old summer house just outside Saint Malo on the coast," Narcissa said.
Her breath came out in a fierce rush. Her head was cocked to the side and her eyes slightly unfocused as the listened to the music that had just started up in the main part of the theatre announcing that intermission was over.
People would come looking for them soon.
"I fixed it up again. Enough to live in at least, since I only had two elves to help," Narcissa continued, her lips narrowing and brows creasing at what she clearly considered to be rather shabby treatment. "I gave birth to Draco there," she went on by way of explanation a second later. "No one except for Lucius and Bella know the place is no longer in shambles. I can keep track of Lucius, and Bella is in no position to be saying anything to anyone these days."
The level of noise around them increased and outside of the small nook they were tucked away in they could see, and hear people moving about, heading back towards the theatre doors and their seats for the beginning of the next Act.
"The house is connected to the Floo network again. Off the books of course," Narcissa continued, her voice, still elegant though clearly rushed. "The password is the same as it was when we were little. Bella could never remember the new ones," the blonde went on shaking her head irritably, though Andromeda did not miss the way her lips quirked slightly with fondness at the mention of their older sister.
A part of her raged at Narcissa for still holding affection for Bellatrix, a part of her wanted to grab Narcissa by the shoulders and shout at her that Bellatrix was a monster, despite how charming she could be to her. But the auburn hair woman, kept her mouth shut. She knew that Narcissa was aware of what Bellatrix was and of the things she was capable of, and she knew that even with such knowledge the blonde would never really be able to cut Bellatrix out of her heart completely. Love, once held for someone, was something that was very hard to discard. She knew that because as much as she hated Bellatrix, there was a part of Andromeda that would always love her a little bit as well, no matter how much she wished she wouldn't.
"When?" Andromeda asked, looking around herself now.
She hadn't cared if anyone saw them before when she thought this would be a brief meeting. But someone spotting at this point in time, would make if far more difficult for them to begin sneaking away to meet each other.
"Tomorrow afternoon, around two," Narcissa replied, a charmingly crooked smile that had always signaled mischief in the past, touching her lips. "There's some Quidditch rubbish going on. The men will be occupied."
A very similar smile touched Andromeda's lips. It was a smile she did not think she had smiled since she had run away from home. It felt familiar, and comfortable on her lips, and she knew that Narcissa would feel the same way when the met the next day.
"Tomorrow," Andromeda repeated, her eyes holding Narcissa's intensely.
A moment later they blinked and then turned from each other. Andromeda went right and Narcissa went left, and within moments, both of them had unobtrusively merged back into the crowd.
They made their way back to their seats, and once they had arranged themselves they turned to their husbands and inquired something along the lines of, "Where did you run off to? I've been roaming around looking for you for ages," expertly covering for their absences in the age old Black tradition of blaming someone else.
Lucius took Narcissa's hand into his, and she smiled serenely, tilting her head back slightly as if to feel the sun on her face, for in her mind she was already walking hand and hand with Andromeda along the rocky shores of he Emerald coast, the sun beating down on them, warming them, while the sea sent up fine, salty mist to cool them down.
Andromeda leaned against Ted's side, and sighed softly as he pressed his lips to her forehead. On stage the actors began to move and speak, but Andromeda did not see or hear them. She was already thinking of the following day and what she would wear. She thought perhaps her cream cotton 50's style sun dress with floral embroidery and orange trim. She'd had the dress for ages but nowhere to where it and she knew that Narcissa would appreciate the styling. Besides which, for some reason the blonde had always particularly enjoyed her in floral.