Narcissa stepped lightly toward her sister's door, her black heels clacking gently on the dark wooden flooring. With her pale, slender hand she pushed it slightly more ajar and tentatively stuck her head around the door. He sister was lying languidly on her large double bed, her long, dark curls spilling over her emerald green covers, her arms hanging over the side of the thick mattress and her feet resting on her pillows, ankles crossed and bobbing slightly as she hummed, twirling her wand between her fingers.
"Bella," Narcissa said softly, causing her to start, she was suddenly sitting bolt upright, hands in her lap and looking at the door. As her heavy lidded, dark eyes fell upon her sister, her full lips, stained a dark red parted into a grin.
"Oh, it's you Cissy," she said, visibly relaxing and her posture sagging, which she would never have done if it was her mother who had walked into the room. "What can I do for you?" she raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow and beckoned her in to her room. Narcissa looked down at the floor as she crossed the bedroom, sitting lightly down on the end of the bed.
The eldest and youngest Black sisters both had the same high cheekbones, full lips and the trademark Black family aristocratic good looks. However Narcissa, the younger of the two had long, straight blonde hair, blue eyes and did not have Bellatrix's curves. She also differed from her sister in countenance, whereas Bellatrix had a fiery independence, Narcissa had a cool and haughty mask. She also had a sense of duty and prudence; she withheld the family idea of keeping up appearances and did what was expected of her, which Bella did not seem to care for.
"Look at you all dressed up," Bella drawled, pointing one finger up and down Narcissa's body, gesturing to her tight black dress, adorned with expensive silver jewellery, all encrusted with glittering emeralds.
"I have something to tell you," she said slowly, ringing her hands together.
"Spit it out then," Bella ordered, leaning back onto the mahogany head board.
"I'm…" Narcissa took a deep breath and steeled herself. "I'm getting married."
"Married," Bella exclaimed in alarm leaning forward. "You cannot be getting married. Who to?"
"Lucius Malfoy," Narcissa said quietly. Bella's laughter rang out like bells and she clutched her chest.
"Be serious Cissy, you cannot marry Lucius, he's quite repugnant," Bella scoffed, sure her sister was joking.
"No Bella, I am," she said, not being able to look at her, she just stared at the carpet.
"Cissy no," she announced, rising up onto her knees and clutching her arm. "Not Lucius Malfoy he's a pig… he's a-"
"He's going to be my husband Bella," Narcissa said strongly, though her voice sounded as though it was due to crack at any moment.
"But he is awful, you know he is awful!" Bella said, her brow furrowed in concern and her mouth upturned in disgust.
"It does not matter what I think about him, he asked me to be his bride and I said yes," Narcissa said, tears welling up in her large, blue eyes. "I have no choice in the matter."
"No choice? Of course you have a choice," Bellatrix gasped, leaping up and clutching her hand. "We shall go to father at once and demand he puts a stop to this farce!" Narcissa shook her head and pulled Bellatrix back down into a sitting position.
"He will not do it, he should not and I shall not ask him to," Narcissa said stubbornly.
"But Cissy," Bellatrix said, her hands gripping both of her sisters' as she knelt before her. "You are committing yourself to a miserable life with that worm. You cannot!"
"I can and I shall," she said, nodding as she said it, tears still threatening to fall.
"Why Cissy?" Bella asked, her large chocolate eyes shining in the light of the candles on the walls.
"He is a Malfoy," she said simply.
"And what difference does that make? We are Blacks. Is he threatening you Cissy, I swear if-" Bella started, quickly throwing herself into a fury.
"No, no Bella he has been nothing but a gentleman to me in his actions," Narcissa said, trying to sooth her sisters volatile temper.
"Then why are you entering into matrimony with such an abhorrent man?" Bella demanded, her sisters lip quivered. "Cissy!"
"Because of Andromeda," Cissy said sadly.
"Do not speak her name to me!" Bella snarled, her eyes flashing with hatred. "What does that blood traitor have to do with it?"
"She married a mudblood, so I must marry a Malfoy, lest the name of Black be irrevocably tarnished. She has dirtied our generation Bella, so I must bring it back into favour. Father should not and probably will not oppose my marriage to Lucius, he knows what honour it will bring back to our family," Narcissa explained, chest heaving as tears streamed down her cheeks.
"You are doing this to bring back the honour of our family? Cissy why? How can you compromise your own happiness for such a thing. Honour for the Blacks is one thing but being miserable is another!" Bella said, desperately trying to get her sister to reconsider.
"I am doing it for our family, Bella, lest they be cast out in all good society forever," Narcissa said, her damp cheeks glistening.
"Who?" Bella demanded. "Who has asked you to do such a thing? Which of our relatives could be in such dire need of-"
"No one has asked me Bella," Narcissa said. "But I know, everyone knows that somebody must do something." Before Bella could interject she continued. "What eligible girl will marry Regulus with a cousin who married a mudblood?"
"Please do not tell me you are doing all of this so that Reg will get a girlfriend," Bella said, eyebrows raised in disbelief.
"And you! No honourable pureblood man will marry you what with Sirius and Andromeda in the family! This means redemption for us Bella!" Narcissa sobbed. "I have to!"
"Cissy no!" But she continued to nod, sniffing greatly through her tears.
"I'm not just doing it for other people; I want a secure home and protection too, with Lucius I get that," Narcissa explained, begging her sister to understand her reasoning. "I will be safe as Mrs Malfoy."
"This is a mistake Cissy," Bellatrix said gravely. "A huge, huge mistake you don't know what you're doing." She pulled her hands free of Bellatrix's and stood up, holding her head high.
"Lucius is downstairs talking with father and mother about our engagement," she said, her voice still shaky as she cleaned her face with her wand.
"Narcissa you are only just eighteen!" Bella hissed. "Eighteen and marrying that scum! You are being foolish!"
"Do not judge me!" Narcissa shrieked, almost hysterically, her sister's jaw dropped. That was the first time she had ever gone against her, the first time she had raised her voice in her presence. "I am to be a Malfoy and I am going to be respected. I am not going to end up a spinster like you!" Bella's jaw set and the gaze upon her little sister, which was usually so fond and nurturing turned sour.
"I am twenty two years old and I do not want to get married yet," she said in a low, dangerous voice. "That does not make me a spinster; it is not as if I have not had offers."
"Oh yes?" Narcissa said mockingly. "Go on… who?" She regretted it instantly; she could see the fire in her sister's dark eyes and her fingers curling around the smooth wood of her faithful wand. She took a step back.
"To name one, Rodolphus Lestrange," she said, bitter malice dripping from her words, she watched in satisfaction as Narcissa's eyes widened. She knew that a Lestrange trumped a Malfoy any day of the week, they were practically wizarding royalty in France. "Now get out." Her voice was firm and unyielding.
"You were a fool not to accept him Bella," she murmured, concern for sister clouding her better judgement of what you can and cannot say to Bellatrix Black, what with that temper. "You could be single forever."
"Rather single than married to that wretch you now call your fiancé. Rather dead than kiss his lips," Bella spat.
"You mean again?" Narcissa questioned spitefully.
"Get out," Bellatrix said under her breath. Narcissa did not move. "I SAID GET OUT!" she roared, whipping her wand up into the air and firing explosive spells in her sister's direction. She yelped and ducked as a particularly violent stinging hex almost hit her in the face and she fled to the door. Bella ran after her, and before slamming her bedroom door with such force that the windows rattled she screamed.
"I AM NOT BELLA TO YOU NARCISSA! WHAT IS IT ABOUT SISTERLY BETRAYAL THAT IS SO PROMINENT IN THIS FAMILY?"
Narcissa couldn't sleep, her insomnia had been plaguing her again, as it always did when her son was at school and as such she was sat by the large hearth in the drawing room of her home, drinking a large glass of red wine and staring into the flames. It had been so many years since that fight, a decade and a half. Narcissa now had a son, he was thirteen years old and was the only reason Narcissa went on in her loveless marriage.
If she had listened to her big sister, she might have lived a long and happy life with a man whom she adored and who loved her with equal passion and devotion, but she would not have had Draco.
But if she was given the choice again, to have Draco, a loveless marriage and an estrangement from her sister- her best friend, would she do it? She glanced across at a photograph of her son which rested on the table next to her. He was so handsome, so intelligent and he was as loyal to her as any mother could ever ask of her child.
She would choose him again, it wouldn't make the decision any less painfully heart breaking than the last time, but she would choose the life of her son before anything, or anyone else. As she revelled in thoughts of her own misjudgements and errors of the past, she heard a loud knock on the front door, Narcissa frowned. How very odd, it was almost three in the morning as Lucius was upstairs sleeping; she pulled her long, elegant robe tighter over her night gown and entered the Entrance Hall. It was a dark, windy night with no light from the moon or stars to illuminate who was at the door, the rain was hammering down so heavily that she could hear it even through the thick stone walls of the manor. Curiously she undid the bolt from the front door and it creaked open. Narcissa let out a shriek as she saw the face behind the door, dropping the lantern she was carrying and shattering glass around their feet.
Those eyes, there was no denying who those eyes belonged to, dancing in them was the fire, the passion and the malice she had always known but something else burned within them, a madness which could only be brought about by Azkaban. Despite the pallid and waxy complexion, the bones which jutted out from her paper like skin, the wet, limp curls and underfed limbs protruding from a long, dark cloak obscuring her prison uniform there was no doubt who this was, even after fifteen years.
"Cissy," the figure croaked, her voice so hoarse and raspy. She had not been called that in so long. There was an unspoken question in the air. Narcissa froze; it took her but a second to determine what the answer to this was. She remembered when she was four, Bella was eight and she had eaten Narcissa's carrots for her at dinner time. She had always hated carrots. When she was seven and Bella rescued her from drowning in the lake in the grounds of their home, Bella's voice as she screamed down the stairs, 'sisterly betrayal' and the last words that she had said to her, on her wedding day fifteen years previous, 'good riddance, you're nothing to me, not anymore.'
"Bella," she murmured, opening the door wider.
She would not betray her dearest sister again, not after everything she had done for her when they were children, not after how she had tried to make her see sense when she was a mere, naïve girl of eighteen. Bella had shown her nothing but unconditional love and devotion until she went and shattered her trust by marrying the man she despised above all else. Bella was rarely fond of anyone and she had thrown it away as if it meant nothing.
Bella was right, she had been a fool, she was always right.
"Let me get you some food and a warm bath."