Author's Notes: Written for Inkfire's "Politics" challenge on xoxLewrahxox's Bellatrix Lestrange: The Dark Lord's Most Faithful forum.
The challenge theme for the next two weeks is to be: Politics! I thus want you to write a 100-word, 500-word or 1000-word fic featuring a character being involved in politics, judging them, discussing them – anything you'd like, as long as politics is an important theme in your story. I am mostly thinking of wizarding politics and the Ministry of Magic, but if you want to mention Muggle or foreign politics instead, that's fine as well.
Also written for Morning Lilies' Photo Album Competition on the HPFC forum.
Pick a year between 1950 (the year Arthur and Molly Weasley were born) and 2029 (The last year of the decade most of the next gen should graduate in) and I will provide you with the details of a picture taken during that year. Once you get your photo, you write a story about it.
Prompt: December 10, 1955 - Walburga and Orion posed in the dark splendor of Number Twelve Grimmauld place's entry way the day they officially take ownership.
In late November, in the year 1955, Walburga Black received a letter from her Aunt Cassiopeia.
She had not heard from that aunt in years – Cassiopeia was notably reclusive, spending her time locked in her attic rather than interacting with others. She was something of an embarrassment to the family, often considered mad.
It was, therefore, a surprise to Walburga when she opened the letter and found a carefully penned explanation that Pollux Black, her father, had died after many years of illness, and that she was to come to Number 12, Grimmauld Place, so that her inheritance – specifically, the letter said, how the inheritance meant for Alphard was going to be split between her and her brother Cygnus – might be discussed.
Walburga was hesitant. The last thing that she wanted to do was sit in the mouldering parlour of Grimmauld Place and have Cassiopeia tell her that her brother was going to be given that house, and millions of extra galleons besides.
But there was nothing to be done about the matter. She could not simply avoid attending – not without an explanation good enough to convince the entire extended family, and, after that, every Pureblood who was hearing about it – that she was not simply afraid of being denied a part of Alphard's inheritance. And reluctant though she was, she did not fancy having to come up with a satisfactory reason. Such a reason would most likely require serious injury.
So, on the day that the letter had noted as the day that she and Cygnus were to meet with Cassiopeia to be told how their inheritance was to be split, Walburga forced the brightest facsimile of a smile that she could muster onto her face and went down to London to speak with them.
The picture was just as Walburga had predicted. Cassiopeia sat in an armchair, practically shrinking into it, small and frail and wringing her hands in worry. Cygnus lounged upon the couch, a self-satisfied smirk already on his lips, clearly just as positive as Walburga was that he would be the one to get the inheritance.
It was hard to say whether it was Cygnus or Walburga who was more surprised when Cassiopeia told them that Number 12, and all of Alphard's inheritance, was to go to Walburga.
"But she is a woman!" Cygnus cried. "She doesn't have children! What use would she have for all that?"
"I'm sure that this surprises you, Cygnus," Walburga snapped back, "but women can find uses for houses just as easily as men can."
"Property cannot be passed down through female lines! It will end up in the possession of the Malfoys or Lestranges – do you want that?" Cygnus demanded of Cassiopeia.
Cassiopeia looked tired. "When a member of the family leaves, the property goes to the eldest child, Cygnus. It has always been this way. You know the politics of family inheritance as well as I do. That is why your father has so much to give away– Marius–" Her voice caught slightly and she broke off, closing her eyes.
"Father already gave you plenty in any case," Walburga snapped. "You have the Manor in the moors–"
"Because I have children who need space to live in!"
"And you don't expect me to be having children?" Walburga's eyes blazed. "Is that what you mean by all of this, Cygnus? That you don't think I will need a house in my inheritance because I will not be having children?"
"Walburga," Cassiopeia pleaded softly. "Do not speak like that… I am sure that isn't what your brother meant…"
"And if it was?" Cygnus asked hotly. "Perhaps I did mean that, sister! Perhaps it's true!"
"How dare you–"
"Enough of this!" Cassiopeia cried. She leapt to her feet, her deep brown eyes filling with tears. "You two– you should consider yourselves lucky! Cygnus, you already have the Manor, and more than enough money! You two should be happy that your father was so kind to you!"
With that, she turned and fled, and Cygnus and Walburga, struck dumb by their aunt's uncharacteristic outburst, listened to her running up the stairs, and the sounds of desperate sobbing that went with her.
Everything was perfect when it came time at last to hand Number 12, Grimmauld over to its new owners. Walburga had dressed in her finest clothing, and Orion was on her arm, and she smirked smugly at her sulking brother. Druella, who had accompanied Cygnus to the requisite blessing of the couple in their new home, looked positively livid at being denied property.
Cassiopeia wrung her hands nervously. She was still hovering in the doorway, and seemed terrified that a fight might break out at any moment.
"Everything is all right, Cassiopeia," Walburga said smoothly. She could hear the satisfaction in her own voice and made no attempt to hide it – why should she? She had won. For once in her life, her brother had been denied something and she had gotten it.
She smirked at Cygnus and Druella, then stepped onto the stoop of the house and glanced at the photographer who had been hired to take a picture of the house passing on to the next generation of Blacks.
On that icy December day, the couple stood before Number 12, Grimmauld Place. Walburga found herself smiling genuinely for the first time in years, and Orion managed one as well – though the expression looked strained and forced on his serious face – and for just long enough to have the portrait taken, they looked good and decent and wholesome.
Then the picture was taken, and Walburga sneered at her brother once again, and they were, once again, the family that constantly fought over these matters of tradition and politics and property.
Nothing ever really changed about being a Black. It was always forced smiles and flat-out lies, and the only happiness that could ever be gained was the derisive pleasure of ruining another person.
Walburga embraced that whole-heartedly.