a/n-This story was inspired by another story of mine: Choices, which also focuses on the always bright and sunny Black family. Do go read that one as well, and tell me what you think of both.

Laughter

When Sirius Black was younger, he was a very serious child. That was just how life was in the Black household. A short talk with Andromeda changed all of that when he was nine years old. He had learned how to laugh.

Looking back on that now, it was probably his downfall, that one simple conversation. Maybe.

His seriousness had stemmed from how much he was against his family's beliefs about blood purity. As a child, he had questioned the fact of life in the Black family that muggles were no better than dirt. His contrary beliefs hadn't always provided for a happy home life. So Sirius had learned to laugh. Laugh and try to forget the fact that his parents cared so much more about his younger brother, just because Regulus shared their beliefs.

Laughter was a good thing for Sirius, for a while. It had made him three friends. Or, at least, he thought they had all been friends, but apparently he had been wrong about Peter.

Peter Pettigrew had betrayed them all and gotten Lily and James killed.

When he took the time to think about it late from his Azkaban cell, Peter's betrayal had been his breaking point. James, the closest thing he had to family, was dead. Remus, another friend who was practically a brother, believed it was all Sirius' fault. And Peter, Sirius' third best friend, had been responsible for it all. It was practically impossible for even Sirius to believe; he just couldn't take it all in. And so he laughed.

Sirius didn't take the time to consider that Peter had killed himself and the innocent muggles around them. He simply didn't care that the ministry wizards were carting him away to Azkaban for life without so much as a trial. Andromeda had long ago told him that if he took life too seriously he wouldn't get out alive. And so he had laughed. Sirius had laughed the entire way to Azkaban.

By the time he regained enough sense, he was in a cell surrounded by Dementors, sucking out all of his happy thoughts. James was dead and Remus held him responsible, all because of Peter. And so he laughed.

Years later, after he had finally escaped the place, he started to regain a semblance of perspective on life. He would fight to defeat Voldemort and avenge his best friend's death. He would fight to protect his godson. So exuberant was he that he missed the stunner his own cousin, Bellatrix, sent at him. And so he fell through the curtain, still laughing from the exhilaration of the fight.

Bellatrix Black Lestrange was the exact opposite of her younger cousin. Throughout her entire life she exalted herself above all others because of her pureblood status. She was better than everyone else, and she wasn't afraid to flaunt it.

Voldemort's rise to power was like a dream come true for Bellatrix. Finally, someone to put things the way they were supposed to be; purebloods ruling over their inferiors: the half-bloods, mudbloods, and all of the other filth that polluted their world. Bellatrix worshipped Lord Voldemort.

It never occurred to her that he might lose. Not when she was sent to Azkaban prison after his initial downfall, not when she heard of his defeat at the hands of the Potter brat on the very night of his glorious resurrection, and not when both Dumbledore and Potter continued to thwart Voldemort again and again. In her mind Lord Voldemort could not lose.

She was often excessive in her devotion to her Lord's cause, her maniacle laughter could be heard above all the din at the battle in the Ministry of Magic. Of course, later on, she didn't laugh when Voldemort was unsuccessful in his attempt to recover the artifact he so desired from the Department of Ministries. But still she believed that he could triumph over all. Lord Voldemort would conquer the wizarding world and all of its inhabitants.

In her final moments at the Battle for Hogwarts, she laughed the same exhilarated laugh as her cousin Sirius had just before his death at her hand. And, again like her cousin, her laughter caused her to miss the curse sent her way by Molly Weasley. And so she died with the mad gleam of laughter upon her face.

Andromeda Black Tonks had begun very much like her older sister had. She had followed their parents' beliefs about blood purity unwaveringly throughout her childhood, yet it didn't all make sense to Andromeda. She kept it all to herself, though. She might be questioning her beliefs, but Andromeda was a Black through and through. She knew the Black Family Tree by heart, and therefore knew the consequences of not adhering to the strict belief that purebloods were meant to be above all others.

But then she began attending Hogwarts, where she met Ted Tonks.

Ted was the living embodiment of everything her parents hated. And she fell in love with him anyway. Ted made her happier than she had ever felt throughout her entire childhood, and he was the thing that finally forced her to reject everything her family had ever taught her.

The night she ran away from home it was straight into Ted's waiting arms. Her euphoria at finally being free caused her to laugh like she had never laughed before.

Years later it was laughter she turned to when her muggleborn husband went into hiding, on the run from Voldemort's henchmen. To escape the worry that was her constant companion in his absence, her son-in-law, Remus, regaled Andromeda and her daughter, Nymphadora, with tales of his time at Hogwarts alongside the only member of the Black family Andromeda had remained in contact with after leaving home and marrying Ted. And so she was laughing when a messenger arrived with the news of her husband's untimely death.

Worry enveloped her once more when both Remus and Dora had gone to defend Hogwarts. They had gone to join the Order in fighting Voldemort and his death eaters. Andromeda stayed behind to care for her grandson, Teddy.

Teddy enjoyed the sound of laughter; it was as consoling to him as lullabies were to other babies. And, although he was still so young, he had learned that the way his hair constantly shifted colors caused his grandmother to make that sound he liked so much. Teddy's hair was the bright shade of bubblegum pink his mother had loved so much when Andromeda learned that her daughter and son-in-law were dead, which caused the laughter to catch in her throat.

The Black's had long ago been lost to Andromeda, and now the new family she had been able to create for herself had perished. Andromeda was alone.

Except...Andromeda had little Teddy. She had to be strong for Teddy. And so she continued to laugh.