A/N: Well, this is it. After nearly two years, this story is finally coming to a close. Thank you to everyone who stayed along for the ride; your support throughout this has meant so much to me. The Cissatrix shippers may only make up a small part of the Harry Potter fandom, but I've found that they're some of the greatest people I've ever known. Through this story I've met so many new friends, many of which I know I'll have forever, as well as a girlfriend who has truly shown me what it's like to love and be loved, instead of just writing about it. Bloodlines has been such a significant part of my life the past two years that it's hard to see it go, but I suppose everything has it's time. The sequel is planned for early to mid 2013 though, so be on the lookout! Thank you again guys, really; you're so fucking awesome :D

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CHAPTER FIFTY

"Are you mentally deficient?" Narcissa slammed her hands into the vanity as she shouted, watching her hair stylist's neat display of products clatter to the floor. She grabbed a fist full of her hair and held it up to the woman. "I said 'loose curls', you irritating simpleton; not 'give me a bleeding perm!'"

She seriously didn't have time for a setback like this. It was bad enough that the florist was running late and the wedding photographer turned up drunk, but even if she ended up having heart failure by the end of the day from stress, it really wouldn't matter to Narcissa just so long as she died looking absolutely fucking perfect. Was that too much to ask? Damnit!

"I-I'm sorry, Ms. Black," the woman stumbled, clearly not expecting to have been verbally abused over it. Her hands were shaking as she tried to relax the curls she had made. "They will loosen, in the day's heat they will—"

"Just get out!" Narcissa was on the verge of setting fire to half of England at this point and she didn't want this incompetent fool anywhere near her anymore. She pushed the woman's hands off of her violently. "Get out of my sight! You're fired; get out!"

Within moments the hairstylist was gone; she had practically run from the room after she had gathered up her supplies. A migraine was forming behind Narcissa's eyes and she buried her head in her hands for a moment while she tried to think. She just fired her hairdresser; now what the hell was she going to do?

"Cass!" she called, trying to find someone around here competent enough to help her. "Cassie!"

"Sorry! Comin'…!"

Cassandra practically fell into the room in her rush to get to Narcissa, nearly tripping over a chair in the process. Oy vey, maybe this wasn't what she needed right now. "Sorry," she apologized again, trying to straighten her dress back out as she stood up straight. "That bloke you 'ad me toss was a right pain in the arse; tryin' to knick some of the liquor on the way out like 'e was some kinda—"

Narcissa waved her hands erratically to get her to stop. She didn't care about that dimwitted fool right now. "Just tell me you found another photographer," she pleaded. That was all that mattered.

"Oh, yeah; Peter's mum takes wicked pictures, she does! Showed me some of 'er—"

"Okay that's fine, whatever," Narcissa interrupted, impatient. She didn't have the first clue who Peter or his mother were, but so long as she had someone to take the photographs it really didn't matter. God, there was still so much to do and so little time to do it in. It was intensely overwhelming. "Just do me a favor and see if the florist is here, please? And try to find my useless sister; I haven't seen her all day and I'm on the verge of a sodding panic attack at this point. I need her help!"

"I don't think she's 'ere," Cassandra replied, a note of apology in her voice. "At least, no one's seen 'er all day. The band's been in a right fit about it too; need to know when she's plannin' on doing her speech so they can plan their set around it during the reception."

Oh God, she really was going to break down now. How could Bellatrix not be here?

"Find her!" Narcissa shrieked, partly angry with the prospect that Bellatrix might purposely be trying to ruin her wedding, but also half worried that something bad might have happened to her. "I don't care how, just do it! Please. I can't do this without her, Cassie; she needs to be here!"

"Alright, alright; I'll find 'er, calm down," Cassandra promised before she exited Narcissa's bedroom with an exasperated sigh, needing a break from the ball of anxiety that was currently Narcissa Black.

Narcissa knew she was being exhausting, but this had been a stressful day for her. Still, it was nice to know she had at least one damn person that was loyal to her, even though Cassandra was not the person Narcissa really needed right now.

"Fuck," she swore under her breath, trying to collect herself enough to try to finish her hair on her own. It wouldn't be as nice as Narcissa had wanted, but what other choice did she have? Finding a replacement required time that she no longer had; no one would be available this last minute. Maybe she shouldn't have lost her temper with the other woman, but it was too late now. She'd have to make due. Grabbing her styling cylinder out of the vanity drawer along with her wand, she reluctantly muttered, "Tepidus," casting the heating spell the object required to work.

Narcissa was halfway through the very long process of curling her waist-length hair when a voice from behind her said, "Shouldn't you have people to do that for you?"

Narcissa nearly burned herself at the surprise of hearing her sister's voice. She quickly put the styling cylinder back down on the vanity before she turned, prepared to scream at Bellatrix about the importance of punctuality for at least a half hour, when her breath caught in her throat and she found she couldn't remember how to speak.

The most elegant, deep red gown covered her sister's body, hugging her curves in ways that made Narcissa both pink with desire and green with envy. She looked absolutely stunning; it was classy yet had a bit of inviting sexiness to it at the same time, and for a moment Narcissa forgot that this was supposed to be her day because all she could see right now was how beautiful her sister was.

"…Wow."

That seemed to be the only word Narcissa knew in the English language at that moment. As she continued to gape at the unbelievably perfect sight before her, Bellatrix smirked.

"I told you I could do better than that horrendous piece of shit you were trying to make me wear."

"Yeah, it…" Narcissa started softly, as though the sight of Bellatrix had put her in a daze. But then what her sister had said actually registered in her head and she narrowed her eyes. "Hey! That was a gorgeous dress and you know it; you just like to be so bloody difficult all the time. I swear it's like you go out of your way sometimes."

"It's an acquired skill."

"I'm sure," Narcissa replied flatly. "Though speaking of being difficult, where the hell have you been? You know I needed you today! I can't believe you just off and disappeared like that on me; do you ever think of anyone other than yourself?"

"Are you fucking kidding me right now?" Bellatrix asked, switching to full blown defensive mode in a matter of seconds. She motioned to her dress erratically with her hands. "Do you think this damn thing made itself? Christ, Cissy; you tell me not to show up without a dress, and when I do what you sodding say, you throw a bitch fit about it. Make up your mind."

"You didn't sit there and sew it yourself, Bella; so don't give me that. You could have been here, helping me before the dress was ready to be picked up this afternoon, yet you weren't!"

Bellatrix shot her this look like she was being thick. "You were the one who fucking told me how long it usually takes for a dress to be made, Narcissa; so use your head and figure out why it took me three days to get this one. Seriously, sometimes you can be so bloody daft."

Narcissa stared at her for a moment, confused. Then suddenly it hit her not only why Bellatrix got it finished so quickly, but also why she couldn't be here before it was completed. "Oh my god, did you hold a dressmaker hostage? Are you bloody mental?"

Bellatrix rolled her eyes, apparently thinking Narcissa was overreacting. "Oh, relax; I didn't hurt the woman. Well, not too badly anyway. Look, I needed a dress to be made and obviously no one was going to fucking do it in that short of time, so I had to be a bit more persuasive. Just be happy it's done and quit bitching, yeah? Everyone got out of this alive and… relatively happily. I still paid her; I'm not a complete cunt."

Narcissa released a frustrated sigh as she turned back towards the mirror, grabbing the styling cylinder almost violently before she began to do her hair. "Yeah, I'm sure she was so pleased that she got paid to be a prisoner for three days. You're so bloody considerate."

"Don't get that way with me, Cissy; I did this for you!"

Narcissa glared at her from the mirror. "How many times have I told you not to hurt people in my name? You don't listen. You just take what you want and don't give a sod how it affects other people. I would have rather you showed up with no dress than do that to an innocent person."

"Fine, I'm sorry, okay?" Bellatrix apologized, even though it sounded a bit half-arsed through her tone of frustration. "I was just trying to do what you wanted."

"Whatever. I don't have time to argue with you; what's done is done," Narcissa replied bitterly. "I have a million things to do right now and since someone wasn't around to help me, I'm really far behind."

Bellatrix sighed heavily as she made her way across the rest of the room to be by her sister's side. "I said I was sorry, okay?" Narcissa didn't answer, just continued to do her hair. "Seriously though," Bellatrix continued, lightly flicking a piece of Narcissa's hair to accent her question, "why is someone not doing this for you? The little jobs are why commoners exist, Cissy. Some hag is probably going without supper now because of you."

Oh please, like her sister even cared.

"Right, because I need the psycho kidnapper to tell me how to deal with the little people," Narcissa responded sardonically. It was an automatic response and she shook her head afterwards, knowing she didn't want to go there again before she explained, "Look, I tried, okay? I did. But the woman I hired turned out to be a complete imbecile, and I'm sorry but I don't have time for people who don't know how to do their jobs!"

She sighed heavily and put down the styling cylinder, needing her hands free so she could massage her temples to sooth her rapidly worsening headache. "God, it's been one thing after another today, you don't even understand. The florist, the photographer, the hairdresser… what's next? Ugh, I'm so about ready to admit defeat and just live a shameful, unwed existence. It has to be easier than this." Suddenly arms hit the vanity, followed by Narcissa's head before she groaned loudly into the inside of her elbow.

Bellatrix rolled her eyes at her sister's dramatics. "Take a pill, Cissy; everything looks beautiful downstairs. You're overreacting as usual."

Narcissa exhaled a defeated sigh, not wanting to argue with her because a part of her knew Bellatrix was right. "I just want everything to be perfect," she admitted softly, words slightly muffled by her arm. She shifted a bit before sitting up straight, continuing with, "I know it won't turn out that way, but I still can't help but want it. I've worked so goddamn hard; it isn't fair that all this is happening right now."

Bellatrix slowly shook her head yet said nothing in response, which was enough to let Narcissa know that her sister thought her insane. It didn't bother her though; she had come to expect it by now. Instead she watched Bellatrix pick the styling cylinder up from off the vanity, making like she was actually going to help. "You're going to do my hair?" Narcissa asked skeptically. "You haven't even used a styling cylinder before; your hair is naturally that…" she struggled to find the right word for a moment, then settled on, "untamed."

What an appropriate word to describe the entirety of Bellatrix, actually.

"It's not like it's difficult to figure out; I'm not a sodding idiot," Bellatrix defended, holding up the cylinder as she pressed down on the tiny lever it had, allowing a thinner piece of metal to emerge. A sarcastic smile followed. "Clip and roll; pretty damn straightforward, don't you think?"

"Fine, do what you want," Narcissa relented, hoping she wouldn't regret this; Bellatrix wasn't exactly the girly type. But she desperately needed a moment where she could finally relax and breathe, so she allowed her sister to play with her hair.

"Do you remember my wedding?" Bellatrix asked her after a long while's silence.

Narcissa's gaze caught Bellatrix's in the mirror. Her sister's tone gave no indication as to why she had asked, and because that day was so amazing and yet so horrible at the same time, Narcissa peered at her curiously. Usually she understood where Bellatrix was coming from, but right now she didn't have a clue. "Of course I do," she answered. Narcissa could remember every second she had ever spent with her sister, whether it had been good or bad. She was the center of her universe, after all.

"So many things were fucked," Bellatrix continued as she separated another chunk of Narcissa's hair with her fingers. The blonde noticed that some of her curls were starting to look uneven due to Bellatrix's disorganized way of grooming, but for the sake of her sanity Narcissa tried to push that thought out of her mind and instead focused on her sisters' words. "Being forced to marry that prat, Andromeda having her dramatic little hissy fit, Mum being her usual cunty self…"

"I remember," Narcissa replied quietly. Those were not the memories she wished to keep, yet they were forever burned in the back of her mind. Especially the one regarding Andromeda, though Narcissa did not agree with her sister's description of it. Then again, the two frequently disagreed when it came to their estranged sister, so it was probably to be expected.

"Yet despite all that bullshit, I still remember it as being one of the few perfect days I'd ever had," Bellatrix said as she finally looked up to catch Narcissa's gaze. Her obsidian eyes showed nothing but honesty behind them and it both pleasantly surprised, yet confused Narcissa. She knitted her eyebrows together as she tried to rationalize why Bellatrix would find such a shitty day to be perfect, but it turned out she didn't have to.

"That was the first time we had sex when I wasn't crazy," Bellatrix reminded her, lips turning up into a small smile. "That was the first time I ever gave you an orgasm, the first time I saw how beautiful you were when you came undone. Cissy, that was the first fucking time that I actually wanted to freeze a moment, instead of just shoving my way past it to get to the next shitstorm that life had in store for me." She gently ran her fingers through Narcissa's hair, loosening the curls she had made as she finished, "Everything doesn't have to go exactly as planned to make this the perfect day, love; all you need to have is that one moment you wouldn't change for the whole sodding world and you're set."

Narcissa's skin burned with an overwhelming mix of emotions at her sister's words that consumed her entire being in a mere matter of seconds. She wanted to dance, she wanted to cry; she wanted nothing more than to just grab ahold of Bellatrix and explode her disarray of complex feelings all over her so that maybe she could actually understand how she just made Narcissa feel, since at this point she was positive that her throat was too dry to speak a word.

Bellatrix seemed oblivious to the effect that her sentiments had on Narcissa though, and continued to tease her hair to fullness with her fingers.

"Or you could always just continue to let the little things bother you until you're forced off the rails," Bellatrix suggested, shrugging as if indifferent to that matter. "I'm sure the entire left side of your guest list would be much more accommodating if they were corpses anyway. People do tend to be so bloody irritating when they're alive, don't they?"

It felt as though a bubble inside of Narcissa was slowly deflating when the romanticism left the air, unacknowledged and unappreciated. She sighed, frustrated with herself that she just sat there and said nothing about the tornado of emotions that swallowed her heart whole, even though just trying to find the words to properly express the feeling in the first place would have felt like sacrilege.

Some things in this world were just too powerful to be given a name.

"Okay, Bella; I get your point," Narcissa sighed, waving the discussion off with her hand now that it had taken a sarcastic turn. "Happy good, psychotic breakdown bad."

"At least you were able to retain the cliff notes."

"If that's what you believe, then sure."

Narcissa had already made the point to ingrain her sister's words into her mind forever anyway; because even though it didn't go in the direction she had been expecting, it was still one of the most beautiful things that Bellatrix had ever said to her. That by itself was worth remembering.

Even if other parts of the evening were not.

"Do I look like I care about your stupid time tables?" Bellatrix asked, very loudly and very much rhetorically to a timid looking gentleman who was unfortunately tasked with finalizing Celestina's schedule for the wedding. "You can't just pencil in a speech for half past three, you ignorant twit. It's not a play, there isn't a script; it's a clusterfuck of words dipped in alcohol and served up fresh whenever the hell I fucking say it is, alright? Back off."

An impromptu speech? That probably wasn't going to end well. But Narcissa didn't have time to lecture her sister about how she shouldn't bully roadies or endlessly procrastinate; she had less than an hour until everything started and she couldn't, for the life of her, find where Cassandra had put her dress. Nor could she find her to even ask, which was making her panic level rise with every passing minute.

She ended up stopping in the middle of the foyer, feeling lost and overwhelmed as she stomped her foot in frustration. "Where the hell is it?"

"I think I saw your dignity drowning itself in that ugly naked baby fountain outside; I wouldn't hold out hope if I were you."

Narcissa was ninety-eight percent certain that she didn't send Sirius an invitation, yet somehow – like the irritating little flea that he was – he managed to suction himself back onto her life; which she would very much like him to be all kinds of away from right now.

"You know, that's so weird," Narcissa replied, her tone equally airy and cruel, "because I'm pretty sure I just saw your virginity composing an apology letter to the Potter boy about five minutes ago myself."

"Jumping right to homosexual implications already?" Sirius asked, feigning disappointment. He tsked her, shaking his head. "And here I thought you were more creative than that. I expected more from you than last resort material, Black."

"And I expected for you to be anywhere but here today, so it looks like we're both shit out of luck."

Understatement. If Sirius was here, so was Aunt Walburga; and considering Narcissa made a point to not invite her as well because she was nothing but a scathing cunt, this had the potential to end badly. But she couldn't be worried about that right now; she still had a dress to find.

Narcissa dismissed Sirius with, "If you have an elsewhere to be, I'd appreciate if you'd get there quickly; I have things to do," before taking the steps on her grand staircase two at a time. Impatient and running low on time, Narcissa started slamming open each door in the mansion one by one before she finally heard someone hissing at another to be quiet from inside of her second story bathroom.

Ugh, her wedding was not an open invitation for other people to shag in her house, damnit!

Narcissa pushed the door open so hard it made a terrible noise when colliding with the wall, causing the two unsuspecting – yet thankfully completely clothed –people in her bathroom to scream. Although that was what she was going for because she was positive Cassandra would be in there (and in Narcissa's opinion, deserved a bit of a scare after running off on her like that when she freaking needed her) she now found herself immensely confused as to why the second person in the bathroom was Lucius' friend, Captain Forehead.

Narcissa still couldn't be arsed to remember the names of Lucius' whipping boys, so instead mentally nicknamed them General Tubby and Captain Forehead. According to Lucius this was not a big improvement over her assumption that they were named 'Cranky' and 'Gargoyle' – or any other variation that was always close but never actually right – but the nicknames she made for them seemed to stick with her regardless. Besides, they drew a pretty accurate picture of how unattractive those two boys were, which by the way brought Narcissa to her next question: why in the hell was her very attractive friend making out with a Neanderthal in her bathroom right now?

No, sorry; that question took a backseat to, "Where the hell did you put my wedding dress? I can't find it anywhere and I'm starting to get tired of playing hide-and-seek with both it and you."

"S'in the guest bedroom closet," Cassandra answered, at least having the decency to look apologetic about prioritizing the near-destruction of her gene pool over her friend's wedding. "There was nothin' innit before an' you wanted it somewhere it couldn't get wrinkled, yeah?"

Narcissa didn't say anything for a moment, just kept glancing between Cassandra and Captain Forehead, still trying to make sense of what she was seeing. She drew a blank though, so she just replied with a flat, "Yeah," before stalking off down the hall to retrieve her gown.

There would be time to rectify that train wreck of a situation later.

But just as she exited the guest room with her dress in hand, en route to her bedroom to change, Cassandra appeared next to her. "Sorry," she apologized all in one breath. "Know I was actin' a bit of a slag; forget sometimes that I'm supposed to be all right 'an proper now. But did you see who 'e was! A Pureblood! Pretty fit, yeah? Actually got myself somethin' solid for once. Cute an' rich; a double whammy. Who'dve thought, right? I know 'e's a bit older than me an' all, but—"

"Are you drunk?" Narcissa asked disbelievingly. "What are you doing? He looks like an ape, Cass! Get a pureblood all you want; that's fine, really good even. But have a little bit of dignity and at least pick a guy closer to your league, that way when the time ever does come for you to have kids you wouldn't have already cursed them with a case of the Gargoyle Uglies."

"His name is Goyle, not Gargoyle," Cassandra corrected, glaring at Narcissa for insulting her new gentleman caller, even though Narcissa didn't understand how what she said could be considered insulting it if were true. "Peter Gregory Goyle, actually; an' he's the sweetest guy I ever met. An' yeah I've already had a few today but y'know, that has nothin' to do with anythin' cause the man bought me flowers, Cissa. Flowers, for me. An' 'e told me I was beautiful! I know 'e ain't some kind of soddin' Adonis like your man, but he's good enough for me, yeah? So I don't wanna 'ear it."

Fine. Narcissa didn't have the time to argue about this now anyway and besides, she was positive that it wouldn't last. Once Cassandra sobered up and saw what she was getting herself into, she'd abandon ship within a half second.

Hopefully.

"Do whatever makes you happy then; I don't care," Narcissa relented after stopping right outside of her bedroom door. "Just do me a favor and make sure the Soulbinder actually made it here; last I heard he was running late but I haven't had another chance to check in with him. I'll meet you down there in twenty, okay?"

Twenty actually turned into ten when Narcissa dressed herself in record time. That celebration was short-lived however as Narcissa realized that her veil wasn't where she had left it. She tore her bedroom to shreds for a good ten minutes looking for it before eventually deciding that since she wasn't actually a virgin, she probably shouldn't be wearing one anyway. Besides, it was hard to see through and knowing her she'd end up tripping herself halfway down the aisle if she wore it.

Narcissa started to make her way down the stairs so she could meet up with Cassandra, but it was Bellatrix who found her first.

"So, slight problem..."

That really wasn't a good way to start off a sentence five minutes before the marriage ceremony was supposed to start.

"In an effort to, uh, expedite the process of getting the Soulbinder here on time – you know, so you wouldn't throw a flippin' cow over it – I may or may not have caused him to get badly splinched when I apparated him here against his will."

A few beats of heavy silence followed Bellatrix's words.

Narcissa didn't shout like she was expecting herself to. She didn't panic, she didn't even move. She just stared at Bellatrix, hoping she had momentarily lost the ability to comprehend spoken word because her sister couldn't have just said what she thought she just said, right? They couldn't be without a Soulbinder; if that were true the whole wedding would have to be rescheduled and that… that… well, that might just make Narcissa hyperventilate and pass out right the fuck now.

"But it's fine!" Bellatrix burst out, far too enthusiastically to be anything else but a desperate need to reassure her. "Because Aunt Walburga's cousin's sister-in-law's… ex-husband, or whatever the hell she said the guy was to her, is a Soulbinder and should be here in about twenty five minutes. So it's fine, okay? I mean, there may still be blood in the grass near the archway from the last guy's calf, but he's already been taken to St. Mungo's and Lucius has that greasy friend of his cleaning the area up right now. Alright? Everything's fine."

Narcissa was really beginning to hate the word 'fine.'

"No, everything is not fine, Bella," Narcissa responded dangerously. But before she continued, Bellatrix went straight back on the defensive.

"This isn't my fucking fault, Cissy; him getting splinched was probably just the universe's way of punishing him. Did you know I had to pull him out of another wedding he was officiating to get him here? Yeah, the sodding ponce overbooked himself on your wedding day, so you're welcome."

Narcissa didn't believe that getting splinched should be a punishment for a disorganized schedule, but then again she was talking to the woman who held a dress maker hostage. What did she expect?

"Of course it's your fault; you know you're shit with side-along apparition!" Narcissa exclaimed. "But more than that, you have now single-handedly forced my wedding to become dependent on a woman who would probably love nothing more than to get back at me for not inviting her here in the sodding first place! What were you thinking?"

Narcissa let out a frustrated sigh as she begun to pace back and forth, wringing her hands together so hard it felt as though her skin was burning.

"You didn't invite Walburga?" Bellatrix asked, sounding impressed. "You really have developed quite the pair, haven't you? You know she believes herself to be the matriarch of our bloodline; if she thinks she didn't receive her invitation on purpose..."

"I know what will happen, Bella; thank you. You're not helping."

"Yes, I know; I'm the ruiner of all things," Bellatrix replied bitterly. She looked up though when she heard footsteps approaching and she quickly took Narcissa by the hand, steering her towards the study. "Lucky for you though, I'm going to take a short reprieve from that and insist that you stay in here until the Soulbinder arrives."

She practically pushed Narcissa inside, eliciting an annoyed 'Hey!' that was pointedly ignored. Bellatrix closed the door behind them before she turned back towards her, explaining, "I know you well enough to know that if Lucius sees you in your dress before the wedding, your entire sodding world will collapse around you, and quite frankly, I really don't have the patience for that right now."

Narcissa wanted to snap back some smart retort to that, but the truth was that Bellatrix was right; tradition was important to her. She'd probably insist she get married in another dress if that happened and Lord only knows how long that would further delay things.

Frowning, she leaned back against the desk. "Why is it that the happiest day of my life is filled with so much chaos? This should be easy."

"Nothing is ever easy, Cissy; don't be daft. Besides, things could have gone much worse."

"Yeah well, the day isn't over yet, is it?" Narcissa muttered, feeling a bit pessimistic about this whole ordeal now. Perhaps she did expect too much. Maybe if she had just taken everything in stride, she'd have been able to enjoy this day a lot more instead of feeling like it was just one thing after another weighing her down. Wrapping her arms across her stomach, Narcissa stared at the ground as she exhaled a heavy breath.

She needed to stop doing this to herself. She needed to stop trying to be perfect; perfection didn't exist within her. It didn't exist within anyone.

"I'm going to go to St. Mungo's after the honeymoon," Narcissa finally decided in a soft voice. "I think I'm going to drive myself mad if I continue to do this to myself." A shaky breath followed as she tried not to get emotional over it. The last thing she needed to do was ruin her makeup. "I tried, you know? I really did. I tried my hardest to be perfect; like everyone expected of me, like I grew to expect of myself… but perfection doesn't exist outside of fairytales, does it? I've spent half my life chasing after something that wasn't even real and I'm tired of it. I'm so fucking tired of all of it…"

It didn't take long for her sister to be at her side. As Bellatrix wrapped an arm around her and gently pressed her lips against her forehead, Narcissa leaned into her warmth. "Perfection is what you perceive it to be, love," Bellatrix told her as she gently stroked her hair. "You may not be able to see yourself as perfect, but to me you're the epitome of the word. Nobody shines as bright to me as you do, Cissy."

Narcissa turned to bury her face in her sister's neck, smiling against her skin as she tangled her hand in Bellatrix's raven ringlets. They fit so well together; Narcissa never wanted to let go of this feeling. "I think it'll be different for us now," she whispered, holding tightly to the one person that truly shared a part of her soul. "I think we'll be happy this time; normal, even…"

Bellatrix chuckled softly. "I don't think we'll ever be normal, Cissy."

"But it'll be close, right?" Narcissa asked, knowing her vulnerability was showing through her words. "Neither of us will be sick anymore; after I come back we'll be able to live and love just like everyone else. It will be good, won't it? We'll be happy?"

Narcissa tipped her chin to look up at her older sister; her eyes, which had grown hardened by the world, now finding their innocence once more. It seemed to stir something within Bellatrix and she cupped Narcissa's face, bringing her lips to hers in a fierce kiss filled with a loving promise. "Yeah, Cissy; we're finally going to be happy."

It was such a foolish thing for them to believe, and yet they both did so without question. Neither of them saw the hardships that awaited them over the next thirty years; neither envisioned the pain of separation, nor the difficulties they would face when Bellatrix's disease resurfaced. They believed the hardest part of their lives to be over with, but would soon find that their childhood horror paled in comparison to what was in store for them as adults.

But in that moment, they still believed their future was theirs to write; and for the first time they saw a small ray of hope shining through the darkness that had for so long consumed their lives, and so they could do nothing else but run towards it. It was a new beginning for them; a second chance to get it right this time. And even though they both had a tendency to destroy anything good that came their way, they really believed they wouldn't screw it up. They truly believed they would be happy.

When Narcissa finally walked down the aisle, she did so with Bellatrix at her side. If anyone was going to give her away, then it was only fitting that it should be the one person that had ever really owned her. Yet even as Bellatrix passed her to Lucius, they both knew she was merely letting him take Narcissa out on loan; the majority of her heart and soul would always belong to the woman who protected her while she was vulnerable, who taught her strong when she felt weak, and who loved her even when Narcissa couldn't find it in her to love herself.

They had cut each other down, built each other back up; pushed each other to the brink of oblivion and then to the edge of insanity, just to see how deep their love truly ran. For most people, love was nothing more than a chemical reaction inside the brain; but for the Black sisters it seemed to thrive deep beneath their skin, flowing through their entire beings and giving them exactly what they needed to survive in this world.

Through their blood they shared an unbreakable bond, and through their blood they would each always hold a part of one another… forever.

THE END