Author's Notes: Written for Thanatos Angelos Girl's NaNoWriMo Challenge on xoxLewrahxox's Bellatrix Lestrange: The Dark Lord's Most Faithful Forum. From this, you can infer with great accuracy that a) This is going to be long, and b) this is going to be written very quickly and rather hastily.
Warnings: Depending on my mood as I write this (because I really won't have time to censor myself) this is likely to include het, slash, femmeslash, incest and excessive angst.
It is rated T right now, but if I feel the need to change the rating to M in later chapters, I shall.
The library at Black Manor was Andromeda's favourite part of the house.
When everything else went wrong, she could sneak off into the library and hide. At the very back of the enormous room, behind so many mazes and rows of bookshelves that finding her through them would be more trouble than she was worth, there was a window seat on which Andromeda sat. Thick, black velvet curtains hid it from sight of the rest of the library, and Andromeda liked to curl up there and look out over the grounds and not think about anything else.
Least of all her new baby sister.
So when Bellatrix yanked back the curtains, and said, "Do you want to see the baby, Andi?" it was all Andromeda could do not to burst into a new wave of childish tears.
She had been gazing out the window, trying to ignore the bustle in the house, lost in her fantasy world. Andromeda liked quiet, but she knew perfectly well that now that there was a new baby in the house – and with the baby, a constant stream of congratulating visitors – quiet was going to become a rare commodity in Black Manor.
When Druella had first announced at dinner – nearly nine months ago, now – that she was pregnant and that soon enough, Andromeda and Bellatrix would be getting a new baby brother or sister, Andromeda had not been able to stop herself from crying.
"What are you bawling about?" Cygnus had demanded of her, impatient with his daughter for her improper behaviour – though, Andromeda being only three years old, crying scarcely seemed improper.
"I- don't- want- a baby sister!" Andromeda had sobbed, rubbing her eyes with her tiny fists, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Why ever not?" asked Druella, leaning over to Andromeda and putting her fingers under her chin to lift her face so she could look her in the eye. "Won't you like having a new baby to take care of and play with and love?"
"No!" wailed Andromeda, shaking her head so fast and hard that her springy, brown curls whip both herself and her mother across their faces. "I don't want a baby sister! Or a baby brother!" And she had continued to insist that until Cygnus had sent her to her room without letting her finish her supper.
Now the baby was born, and Andromeda was quite sure that she would never know another moment's rest.
She turned towards towards Bellatrix, who was standing in front of the window seat, holding a bundle of cloth – which Andromeda presumed contained the baby – in her arms. To Andromeda's rather unhappy eyes, the bundle looked too big for Bellatrix's arms, though Bellatrix was far from spindly. Perhaps it was the sheer bulk of the swaddling clothes wrapped around the child, or perhaps it had more to do with Andromeda's dislike of all things related to the new baby.
"Okay," she mumbled, looking back out the window. She would have loved to go play out on the grounds of Black Manor, amongst the fantasy characters that she imagined inhabited them, but Mother and Father had been very clear that Andromeda was not to leave the house while so many people were coming and going. They had told her that, with all the Purebloods who were coming to give their blessings to the new baby, Andromeda had to be on her best behaviour. And according to them, "Andromeda's best behaviour" included not going out into the Manor grounds.
Bellatrix walked over and seated herself on the window seat next to Andromeda. She held out the bundle, which Andromeda took in shaky little hands. She was petrified of dropping the baby, not because she was particularly concerned about her new sister's wellbeing, but because her parents had spent so very, very long counselling her in how very important it was not to let the baby get hurt. If Andromeda were to drop her sister, she knew full well that there would be hell and more to pay.
But she didn't drop her. Andromeda's childish hands managed to hold onto the blanket and the baby inside it. She stared down at the baby girl's face.
Narcissa, as her parents had decided to name the baby, despite Andromeda thinking it was a stupid name, was so tiny that Andromeda had difficulty believing she was real. She had delicate features, skin that was as unnaturally pale as Bellatrix's, and revealed from the top of the blanket, where it was folded over her head, were a few whisps of pale, silky hair. Andromeda reached out almost instinctively to touch the hair, and a shiver ran up her spine at the strange, almost too soft feeling of it.
"Well?" Bellatrix asked, leaning over Andromeda's shoulder. "What do you think of the baby?"
"I don't like her," Andromeda said automatically. She didn't know whether she would like the baby in the future – though she privately thought she probably would not – but for now, she despised her with everything she had. The child's unnatural beauty – which drew to mind images of Christ in the Madonna's arms – only served to make Andromeda hate her more. She was already ignored in the wake of her older sister, and now she wasn't even going to have the honour of being a youngest sister. Andromeda hated the new baby for stealing any claim to being noticed that she might have had before.
"Me neither," Bellatrix said dismissively. "She's boring. Mummy and Daddy say she's just a baby and she's going to get more interesting when she's bigger, but she's not. She's always going to be boring. I can just tell."
Andromeda smiled a little. Having Bellatrix on her side in not liking the baby was nice. If she didn't like her new sister, and Bellatrix didn't like her new sister, well, at least they would be able not like her together.
"But," Bellatrix continued, "Mummy and Daddy also say that we are not allowed to say that we don't like the baby in public. We're supposed to pretend we do like her, because if we don't. the other Purebloods will think we're not as good as them." Bellatrix said this all with an air of great importance, as though she was imparting upon Andromeda some sort of divine wisdom.
"Why?" asked Andromeda.
Bellatrix shrugged her shoulders. "Because they all like her, and they want us to agree with them, I think. I don't really know. It's just what Mummy and Daddy said."
Bellatrix pulled baby Narcissa out of Andromeda's arms. "I have to go give her back to Mummy and Daddy now. I just asked them if I could take her to see you. Since you're not coming to the nursery."
Andromeda nodded and leaned back against the window again, prepared to resume her sulking over all the attention the new baby was getting.
Bellatrix had stood up, but she hadn't left yet. She was staring at Andromeda with great concentration.
"You're my favourite sister, you know," Bellatrix said, matter-of-factly. "I like you much, much better than I like… Nar-ciss-a." She said the name very slowly and carefully, scrunching up her eyebrows as she forced her mouth to form the words correctly.
"Good," said Andromeda. Then, as Bellatrix made her way back out the door, she, Andromeda, whispered to herself, "Bella, you're my favourite sister too."