Dedication: For Shell, Paws and Furface.

Disclaimer: I don't/do not/cannot/will not/shall not/can't own Harry Potter. However, I do own my socks.

I'm not going to bore you with a description, because then you'll fall asleep and you won't be able to read this, so… I'll just stop talking, shall I?

Black as he's painted

By Blackie

Blacks were exactly that. Black. Black hair, Black views, Black heart. Anyone who disagreed was disowned.

From the moment he was born, Bellatrix knew he was going to be different. His eyes were a bright blue which reminded her of Dumbledore. He was not quiet and docile, like Narcissa had been, he was not loud and demanding, like she had been. He was the sort of baby who was curious, bright eyes searching everywhere, wanting to know. But every time his wide-eyed stare fell on a member of his family, he would scowl, as if he did not want them there, as if he was quite happy being hugged by Andromeda, the only one of the family who he truly warmed towards.

They only let Andromeda see Sirius because she was the one he liked best. He fell asleep in her arms, black hair flopping over his eyes, slowly rising and falling as he breathed in and out. He liked Narcissa too; he liked it when she played games with him. He liked the three year old. He liked the five year old. He hated the seven year old Bellatrix, who peered at him over the cot, who poked and prodded him as if she had never seen a baby before. He hated bedtime, knowing that it was a whole day before he would see his beloved cousin again.

But his parents still maintained that he was a slytherin. Even when he met a snake and tried to hit it. Even when he scorned the silver and green shiny rattle for the tattered red bear. They still said he was a slytherin. They still said he was a Black.

*****

"Do you have to go, Dromeda?" the six-year old asked his favourite cousin. They were standing in the polished, shiny platform of the Hogwarts Express. The small cluster of children standing away from their parents was not attracting attention, as they were the Black children. Bellatrix, only in her second year, was as imposing and arrogant as she would grow up to be. Narcissa, the small blonde, nine years old, was hopping from one foot to the other, watching her parents with one eye, three year old Regulas holding her hand. Sirius, hands on hips was looking at Andromeda and Bellatrix with big, round, pleading eyes.

"I'm sorry, Siri. But it's Hogwarts. I can't not go!"

"Yes you can," said Sirius stubbornly. But he was not going to get his way with this.

"Sirius, you're acting like a baby. People are staring!" Bellatrix's sharp voice rang out. In truth, no one was watching the five children, everyone was saying their goodbyes and chatting to friends, but the words had immediate affect on the Blacks. Narcissa straightened slightly, letting go of Regulas's hand. Regulas's thumb left his mouth, Sirius's hands dropped and Andromeda tried to straighten her skirt.

"Andromeda! Bellatrix! Regulas! Narcissa! Sirius!" Walburga Black, mother of the two boys, was striding up to them, looking cross. People looked at her, hearing her loud voice and snickering at the children's fancy names. "The train is going to leave in two minutes. Andromeda, Bellatrix, get on the train!" Andromeda looked sadly at her little sister and her two cousins. Bellatrix said 'Goodbye' curtly, and hurried to the train.

"Goodbye, Cissy," said Andromeda, giving her sister a quick kiss.

"Goodbye, Reggie. You'll be a good boy for Andie, won't you?" Regulas nodded slowly, in the way that only three year olds could. He held out his green elephant for Andromeda.

"Take."

"You want me to have your elephant? No, darling, you look after her for me, okay?" Regulas nodded again.

"Sirius?" Sirius turned to her, eyes brimming with tears. She pulled him close. "You'll be good, right?"

"You'll write to me everyday?"

"Of course, Sirius."

"ANDROMEDA! GET ON THE TRAIN!"

Andromeda ran to the train. Sirius, Regulas and Narcissa waved goodbye.

"Do you think she'll be okay?" asked Sirius doubtfully.

"Of course," said Narcissa softly. "Of course."

*****

The days spent while Bella and Andie were at Hogwarts were long and dreary. Narcissa was good fun, of course, but she was a girl. Reggie was only small, and was considered not big enough to play properly. They received many letters from Andromeda, around one a month from Bellatrix. The one all three found the most memorable was the letter they received from Andromeda saying that she had been sorted into Ravenclaw.

Dearest Cissa, Siri and Reggie,

I'm here! I'm actually finally here! I can't believe it! As soon as I got onto the train I met Lucius Malfoy (Yuck!). He kept rabbiting on about how 'we pure-bloods must stick together against the horrible 'mud-bloods'. That's muggle-borns by the way. I know mother and father, and aunty Walburga and uncle Orion hate muggle-borns, but I actually quite like them.

Anyway, I soon shrugged off Malfoy, and we got to Hogwarts. The halls- the halls were AMAZING! They were so pretty; I have enclosed a drawing for you to see. My sorting was great, guess where I am! I was put in RAVENCLAW! Not slytherin! I wonder what the grown-ups will say? Bellatrix is being passably nice to me- I suppose Ravenclaw isn't quite as bad as if I was put in Hufflepuff or in Gryffindor.

I hope you're having fun!

Lots of Love,

Andie

Xxx

*****

Sirius Black was going to Hogwarts. He was going to Hogwarts! To the place which he had always dreamed of. He was actually sitting on the plush seats of the carriage, actually looking out on to the platform, not gazing at his cousins in the train! It was just like he thought it would be.

He reached up and got an intricate leather photo album out of his trunk. He opened it and gazed at the pictures. Andie was smiling out of the picture, Reggie sitting on her shoulders, Narcissa holding Andie's hand. Bellatrix was skulking near the side, scowling at the grinning others.

Just as he was putting the album away, an untidy head peered in at the door.

"Can I sit here? Everywhere else is full."

"Sure," said Sirius. The boy gestured behind him, and he and two other boys walked into the compartment.

The untidy boy was dark haired and hazel-eyed. He wore thin rimmed glasses, and his eyes looked mischievous and bright. The second boy was tall, thin and tired-looking. He had brown hair, and golden eyes. There was a long scratch on his left arm. The last boy was short, tubby and squinty. He looked like a rather large ball of dough. They sat down oppostie

"Hi. What house do you want to be in?"

"I'm James Potter, and I'm going to be in Gryffindor! Like my Dad."

"Peter Pettigrew! I really want to be in Gryffindor too! I heard that Dumbledore was in there!"

"Remus Lupin. Ravenclaw," said the boy quietly.

"Cool!" said Sirius enthusiastically, "I'm Sirius Black. I'm not sure what house I want to be in. My parents want me to be in Slytherin, but I think Ravenclaw would be best, like my cousin Andie."

James's expression changed from one of friendliness to one of hate and disgust.

"You're a Black?"

"Yeah. Hey, what's the matter?"

"You're a Black. Blacks are the lowest of the low. Go away."

"This is my compartment!"

"Well, we're here now. Leave us alone."

Sirius left, feeling miserable and hurt. He went to find Andromeda. His cousins had arrived before he had, so he hadn't seen them yet. Going down the side of the train he saw a bright blonde figure leaning on the wall. He looked predatory, as if he was waiting for the dark-haired first year. The boy turned and grinned creepily at him.

"Sirius Black?"

"That's me," Sirius answered nervously. No one apart from the boys who had kicked him out of his compartment had bothered to talk to him.

"The name's Malfoy. Lucius Malfoy,"

"That's, er, nice."

"Want to be in Slytherin?"

"I suppose…" Malfoy interrupted Sirius's doubtful reply.

"Good. Don't want to mix with dirty mudbloods, do we?" Malfoy's handsome features contorted as if even the thought of a muggleborn was deep disgrace.

"Errr…no?"

"Good. I'll see you in Slytherin, Black." With that, the boy turned and walked away down the corridor.

"Dromeda?" He said tentatively.

"Siri? What's the matter?" She was sitting with her friends, but got up and went to him when she saw his face.

"Why do people hate me because I'm a Black?"

"Oh," she said. She scowled. "It's a pity you met some of those people on your first train trip."

"What?" She knelt down to his level.

"Some people think that because my parents and your parents hate muggle-borns, we hate them too. So people don't like us."

"But people like you!"

"They got to know me. And I'm in Ravenclaw."

"So I should be in Ravenclaw?"

"People will like you where ever you go."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. Now go and change into your robes. We'll be arriving soon."

"Yes Dromeda."

Andromeda smiled sadly as he ran down the corridor. He had a lot to learn.