The Hands of the Sisters
"Word over all, beautiful as the sky,
Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage
Must in time be utterly lost,
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night
Incessantly softly wash again, and ever again,
This soil'd world;
For my enemy is dead, a man divine as myself is
Walt Whitman, from "Reconciliation"
I was making coffee when my sister zombied into the kitchen. "Morning," I said softly. She could be…unpredictable in the mornings.
Bella scowled deeply in return and grunted. She lurched to a stop at the end of the counter and pulled her wand. My heart fluttered just a bit, but she only used it to summon a chair. It made an astonishing and morbidly elongated scraping noise as it slid in from the dining room and I shuddered. Finally, Bella dropped into it, looking pouty as ever. She fingered her wand in her lap.
"Will you make me a lovely coffee?"
I sighed. Seriously? "Yes, Bella." I whipped my wand from my sleeve and waved it over the French press.
Bella huffed. "I don't mean to put you to any trouble."
No more trouble than housing the bloody Dark Lord in my guest rooms, listening to him snore like a hell-beast all night, cleaning up after you and the rest of his disgusting, putrid followers, cooking like a fucking house elf for Death Eaters and having my ass grabbed by Snatchers while my useless husband prances about like a whipping boy leaving me no time to learn the necessary charm for removing blood from silk brocade. And now my music room looks like the spring slaughter was held there. "No trouble at all, sister."
I tugged a beaker from the rack above my head for her. Not my nice china. She had a habit of throwing things. I held my mouth in a firm line as I prepared our coffees. I could feel her eyes boring into my back. When I gave her the coffee, she noted the difference between our cups. Even unhinged, she was damned observant. "Scared I'll break the good stuff?"
I didn't have to answer. Sipped my coffee. Gods, it was good.
Bella was looking into hers thoughtfully. "D'you think I'm crazy, Cissy?"
I didn't have to answer that, either. I watched her toss back the hot beverage with amazing speed, her graceful throat working noisily as she drained the mug. Then, she set it empty on the marble counter before her. She drew her wand.
"Bella," I said.
But the incantation was whispered already. I watched the simple black beaker morph, melt and reshape into two Regency dancers. They waltzed down the counter to some silent music.
"See? I'm still a good witch."
I shook my head in disbelief. "I never said you weren't."
"Did you miss me?"
I did not. "Of course, I did."
She nodded, her mouth hanging open to reveal her awful teeth. Perhaps she would let me fix them… "How is Lucius?"
I was quiet on that subject, til her glazed eyes cleared and she stared into me. "Cissy. I said, how is Draco?"
She squinted for a moment. I gulped. "Huh. Good." Her eyes fell to the counter. There was a Witch Weekly magazine. She opened it. I tapped the delicate dancers with my own wand and poured her another coffee.
"Why the fuck would you want a lip-plumping potion?" She asked no one in particular.
"Some witches have thin lips," I answered practically. She looked up at me.
I shook my head. "No, not really."
"Mm." She flicked through pages, pausing only briefly. "Says here 6 out of 10 witches are harassed in their workplaces." She gestured around the kitchen. "D'you feel harassed here, Cissy?"
My not-thin lips quirked. "Constantly."
She nodded and scrunched her face. It made her look freakishly young. "I'll take care of Scabior. He needs to keep his bloody paws to himself."
I made a dismissive face.
"You look really tired," Bella said. I stared. She pointed to her own eyes. "Bags." She looked apologetic.
"Thank you." Why couldn't I just let it go? "You look like a demented concubine."
She blinked. I felt a wave of nervousness and fingered my wand hilt. But suddenly, her head tilted back and maniacal laughter escaped her deep red lips. "Oh, that's good," she breathed, collecting herself. "That's…that's really fucking good, Cissy."
I tried a smile and shook my head. She flipped another page. "Flick on the wireless," she murmurred.
"You've a bloody wand," I retorted.
She blew a raspberry, but her talon was out so fast I jumped. The wireless on the counter zapped to life. News… She flicked again and music emerged. It must not have been to her liking, because she flicked a few more times til she settled on some ruckus Draco probably liked.
Her head bobbed. She flipped another page. Her hair seemed to like the music, as well. It moved as though it had a life of its own. Impulsively, I reached out and tossed a thick curl of it out of her face. She looked up in delayed startlement. "It was in your coffee," I said.
She shrugged. "Happens." Then she was grinning, lifted the magazine as if in success. "Narcissa Black Malfoy." She addressed me in a put-on officiality.
I rolled my eyes. "What?"
"Is your wizard performing to your expectations in bed?"
I blushed and set my coffee down. "Bella, really…"
"Well?" She rolled the magazine and popped me with it.
"Ow!" I slapped her assault away.
I put my fingertips to the edge of the counter and she settled back into the chair. Gods, am I really doing this? "I expect him to sleep like the dead and he does. So, yes."
Her face morphed through a series of alternately insulting and sympathetic expressions. I bit my lip. "You poor thing," she finally whispered. "You know? You should have it on."
"Have it on?"
"Yeah, you know…" A lewd gesture. "Have an affair!"
I hated that she could embarrass me so, knew how she loved it. "Bella, please!"
"Oh, it would be so easy, easy, easy!" She singsonged. "Big house…inattentive husband…lots of going and…coming." Here she snorted at her own joke. I waved her off. "Antonin." She slapped the table. "He's handsome."
"He's disgusting!" Why was I smiling? "And married!"
"He just has terribe table manners," Bella excused. "And you're married, too, so fuck it. I mean 'him.' Fuck him."
"Absolutely not." I chuckled, though. She saw she was getting to me and piqued.
"How about Yaxley? You like the tall ones."
I leaned on the counter, willing to play now. Felt nice, actually… "I can't get over his mouth." I grimaced. "It's shaped…funny."
"Not funny!" She cried. "It's…unique. And he's a rather long tongue. Mouth like that could eat a witch out for hours…"
"Snape!" She shouted.
I put my hands over my ears, laughing aloud now. "Nonononono!"
"Yesyesyesyesyes!" She crumpled the magazine to her ample bosom, eyes going glassy. "Severus…" She moaned. "Oh, Severus…that's sooooo good!" I marched around the counter, determined to hush her. She was getting louder. Her voice deepened with my flush. "Narcissa! Oh, Narcissa…you're sooooo tight!"
I grabbed the edges of the magazine and wrenched it from her grip. She was in paroxysms of groans and muffled laughter as I attacked her with the abused pages. "Shut it!" I yelled. I was laughing, too.
She wrestled the magazine away and slid it onto the counter. Suddenly my hands were held behind my back, and my sister's woolly head pressed into my tummy. I gasped. "I missed you so, Cissy," she said. "I'm glad to be here with you. And I'm…sorry you're so unhappy."
I pulled my hands free and patted her insane curls. "We'll be alright, Bella. Won't we?" Won't we?
Just then her hands slid to my arse and she grabbed roughly. I whirled away, skirt swirling. "What the hell, you deranged cow?"
She was turning back to the magazine innocently. "Just wanted to know what Scabior's attraction was…now I know."
My arse hurt. I rubbed at it and leaned my hip against the counter. "Sick. You need to let me fix your bloody nails. They're dangerous."
"Oh, yeah!" She held her hands in front of her. "I was gonna ask you to. Nearly sliced my clit off masturbating the other night…"
"Bella!" I dropped my face in my hands.
"Oh, come on!" She punched my thigh.
"Don't stand there all high and mighty on your pristine pedestal and tell me you don't fuck yourself, you prissy princess! I know why your bleeding baths are so long…and is it necessary to ward the bathroom door like you think aurors are going to burst in?"
"Yes!" My face was terribly hot. "Because they might!"
"And you're diddling yourself!"
I slapped my hand across her mouth. She snatched it away and pulled me across her lap. "Bella, stop! Stop this now!" I couldn't get my feet to the floor, couldn't squirm away from her grip. Her elbow squeezed into my ribs, probably bruising, while the hand gripped my hip.
She's not. She will absolutely not – Her free hand fell sharply and loudly onto my arsecheeks. I screamed.
"Naughty (smack), naughty (smack) witch (smack)!"
My hands scrambled for purchase, gripped one of her high-booted legs. "You fucking bitch!"
"How dare you diddle yourself in the bathtub?" Her voice was high and mad. One last resounding, painful smack and she dumped me unceremoniously to the floor.
I oomphed and crab-walked away from her. "Goddammit, Bella!" My bum stung. The cool stone floor felt wonderful against it.
She was relaxed and chuckling, watching me impotently seethe. "Actually the spanking wasn't for diddling." She turned back to the magazine, flipped a page. "That was for lying to your sister about diddling."
I was dusting myself off. "I never lied!"
"You were going to." She held up an ad. "I want these nails. Can you do it?"
My jaw dropped. "After that?" I gestured to her lap. "You're lucky you aren't getting hexed!"
"Aw, Cissy…" The pout. "Shall I kiss it and make it better?"
"Unbelievable." I walked around the counter. "You are truly unbelievable."
"I love you, Cissy."
I looked at her bemusedly. "Really."
"Spankings is how I express my affections…"
Damn her. My lips quirked again. "Very well. I'll do your bloody nails." I paused while she performed a wiggly chair dance of victory. "Can I fix your teeth, too?"
She froze. I swallowed. "Can you?" She asked. "I mean…you know the charms?"
I nodded. "They won't be perfect, but…"
She was up and rushing around the counter. I backed against the sink. "Bella!"
But she absorbed me in a hug. "Oh, Cissy…" Her breath was hot on my neck. "You'll make me pretty again!"
I rubbed her back awkwardly. I wasn't very good at physical affection…or any kind, really. "I'll do my best, Belle."
She pulled back, cradled my face in her hands. She was eating my features with her eyes. "You got all the pretty, Cissy. You know? I just got all the…crazy, I guess." Her thumbs stroked my lips. My breath caught. "But you certainly got all the pretty…" Her eyes were empty sort of…I just saw myself reflected in them. But there was a fearful intensity in the absence. "If I was Lucius…"
"Bella?" I put my hands to her elbows. She blinked, seemed to wake up, and stepped back.
"Right, then." She tapped her ragged claws on the counter. "Let's have a makeover, shall we? Sisters!"
My entire being relaxed. I smiled. "Upstairs," I said, herding her out. Our coffees cooled behind us, forgotten.