Author's Notes: Written for UbiquitousTime's The Beginning of the End Challenge on the HPFC Forum.
"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."
Andromeda's voice startled Bellatrix, who had been lost in a daydream. The girls were sitting in the bedroom they shared, Bellatrix curled on the window seat, staring out across the bleak, foggy moors, and Andromeda in an armchair reading a book. Bellatrix looked at her sister, and was quite disturbed by the dark expression painting Andromeda's usually bright and pleasant face. It was unlike Andromeda to say something so bitter, let alone so cryptic, out of the blue.
"What was that?"
Andromeda put down her book. Her jaw seemed set, and she seemed unusually determined – though determined to do what was unclear.
"I said not to ever tell anybody anything."
"Tell anybody about what?" Bellatrix was confused. Telling Bellatrix not to tell anybody anything sounded like the lead-in to confiding a secret, but "If you do, you start missing everybody" sounded more like Andromeda was trying to impart some sort of wisdom. And Andromeda's embittered tone sounded like she was angry, which was a rarity. All this was making her distinctly nervous.
"About anything," Andromeda repeated. "If you start taking people into your confidence, then you start caring, and then when you have to give them up – which you always do – you miss them."
"This doesn't sound like you," Bellatrix said. "I'm usually the one who would say something like that. What's gotten into you, Andi?"
Andromeda drew her knees up to her chest and stared out the window. Her face was blank, her expression dark. "I wish I hadn't told so many people things. Now I'm missing everybody."
"You're not making any sense, Andromeda!" Bellatrix was annoyed with her sister's cryptic statements, but she was also starting to get worried. "What do you mean you're missing everybody? Everyone important is still here! There's me and Cissy and Mother and Father and even Sirius – who else would you need? Who else can you miss?"
Andromeda sniffed, and Bellatrix was stunned to see tears glistening at the corners of her sister's eyes.
"I'm going to miss you all so much," she whispered. "When I go, I'm going to miss you all…"
Bellatrix's heart lurched. "Where are you going, Andi? You don't think you're dying, do you?" That was what it sounded like, like Andromeda was going to die and was saying she would miss them when she did. But no, Andromeda wasn't going to die, she wasn't even sick…
Andromeda shook her head, and a fat teardrop ran down her cheek.
"Oh God, Andi, what's wrong?" Bellatrix stood up and moved to rest a hand on Andromeda's shoulder. "I know something's wrong! Tell me!"
"I can't," Andromeda sniffled. "I can't tell you. That's what I said. I can't tell anybody anything."
It was only days later, when Andromeda had disappeared from the House of Black without a trace that Bellatrix looked back on what she had been told. It was only then that she understood.
Andromeda had been trying to say that she regretted being so close to her sisters, because now that she was gone, she would miss them.
And that thought brought tears to Bellatrix's eyes. Because she too had been close to her sister, and she too missed her now.