Author's Notes: Written for the February 19th Prompt of the Day on Hogwarts Online II – "Memories frozen in time".

Also for Prompt #002 on 100_women on Livejournal – "Middles".

)O(

When Bellatrix, Andromeda and Narcissa had been young – Bellatrix fifteen, Andromeda twelve, Narcissa ten – their parents had arranged for portraits to be painted of them – three portraits, one for each girl. They were supposed to be a pretty little treat, a keepsake for the sisters to have when they grew older.

The pictures had moved and smiled and waved out at their owners, and the sisters set them on their dressing tables. There they stayed, until their quiet movements became so much a part of the bedroom that they were nearly invisible.

Ten years later, Bellatrix had thrown hers into the fire, and Narcissa couldn't have begun to guess what Andromeda had done to hers – taken it with her when she ran away, or thrown it into a river or buried it in the earth. She, Narcissa, was the only one who kept her own, though she hid it away from her family now. She didn't want them to see how she treasured that scrap of memory – that merest hint of her sister that was all she had left now.

But she kept it hidden in her dressing table drawer, and every night, before she went to sleep, she would take it out and gaze at it.

The three girls in it hadn't changed since they had been painted. The little Bellatrix was still vibrant, laughing out at Narcissa, not the sullen creature that her eldest sister had become. Little Narcissa was delicate and frail, as Narcissa always had been, but she too was smiling in the painting. The real Narcissa hadn't smiled like that in years.

And Andromeda – little Andromeda, painted Andromeda, the only version of Andromeda that Narcissa had left – sat there in between her sisters, her arms draped around their shoulders, right in the middle of everything.

Andromeda had always been the middle, the hub, the thing that bound her family together.

And now she was gone, and the only thing that Narcissa had left was this memory, frozen in time, of herself and her sisters when they were happy.

)O(

Fin