For the Marauder Challenge. Prompts: Black Sisters (all three), hurt/comfort, and "I hate him." 800+ words
Andi flops atop the neatly made bed with a dramatic sigh. "I hate him, Cissa. You don't understand how much I hate him."
Narcissa sits gently on the foot of the bed, as always, too-composed, even in private.
"You're right; I don't. He's dreamy."
Bellatrix laughs derisively. "Please, Cissy. Is that all you think about?"
"Of course not, Bella," Narcissa replies calmly.
Bella scoffs skeptically, and Narcissa pointedly turns to face Andromeda in reply. "Really, though, Andi. What's not to like? He's a proper pureblood, he's rich, and he's actually nearly your age. Reasonably close, anyway. What more can you ask for in a match?"
Andromeda sighs. "He's a prat, Cissa. Have you seen how he treats the younger students?"
"No, but does that matter? It's not like he'll treat you like that. You'll be his equal."
This time Andi and Bellatrix both laugh at the ridiculousness of Narcissa's statement at the same time. "Oh, Cissa," Andi murmurs. "You are so young."
Her eyebrows furrow. "I hate when you say that like that."
"I know you do."
Bella interrupts. "Cis, there are a lot of things you don't know, and a lot of things that you believe that aren't true. Mother and Father might be okay with you naïvety, but I think you ought to learn. You'll have to learn sometime."
Narcissa turns to face her, features calm, eyes defiant. "I don't have to learn if I don't want to."
One corner of Bella's mouth curves up in a twisted smile. "Oh, you'll learn, dearest sister. You'll learn through experience."
Narcissa sighs. "Bella, why do you always have to be so… sinister?"
Shrugging, Bellatrix replies, "What can I say? It's a talent."
Andi shakes her head. "Stop it, Bella. Leave Cissa alone."
Bella and Narcissa both frown at her.
"Don't tell me what to do!" Bella snaps.
"I don't need you to defend me!" Cissa protests at the same time.
Andromeda sighs again, shifting so that she's sitting up. She curls her arms around her knees. As she does, she looks between her sisters.
"Seriously, girls. Don't you ever wonder if… I don't know. If there's something more to life than being the perfect pureblood daughter, the perfect pureblood wife? Something more to life than marrying Rodolphus Lestrange–" she nods at Bella "–or Lucius Malfoy," she says, referring to herself. "Marrying for status."
Bella looks at her condescendingly. "Dromeda, you need to stop dreaming and face reality. There can be no greater honor than to further your family and your bloodline."
"But what is honor, really?" Andromeda rests her chin on her knees.
"Distinction, 'Meda. Dignity. Esteem. Pride."
Andromeda purses her lips. "What if…" she says, oh-so-quietly. "What if I don't want pride? What if I want something better?"
Bella's eyebrows narrow angrily. "You don't have a choice, Andromeda. You should know that by now."
"There are always choices," Andromeda disagrees quietly. "Always."
"No. Sometimes there aren't." Bellatrix's voice is like ice.
"Bella, just because a choice is hard, doesn't mean it isn't an option."
"Andi, just because a choice is hard, doesn't mean it's right." Bella echoes her tone and pattern of speaking exactly. Andromeda turns her head, laying her cheek on her knees and facing the wall.
"Sometimes right and wrong aren't so clear." Her voice is soft, sad.
Narcissa looks between them, very lost. "Andi, what are you talking about?"
Bellatrix looks at her scornfully before shaking her head and responding to Andromeda. "This isn't one of those times. Right and wrong are very clear here."
"Perhaps for you," Andromeda whispers to the wall.
"As it should be," Bella says firmly.
"Andi…" Cissa says softly.
"I'm sorry, Cissa."
"I don't want an apology, Andi. I want you to promise me that you aren't saying what it sounds like you're saying."
Andromeda lifts her head to meet the innocent, blue-eyed gaze of her younger sister. "I don't know what I'm saying, Cissa. I just don't know." She smiles softly, sadly. "I love you, Cis."
Narcissa shakes her head. "That isn't what I asked you for."
Andromeda rests her chin on her knees again, staring off into space. "I'm sorry."
"I don't want you to be sorry."
"Oh, please! Cut the sap, will you? We all know Dromeda won't actually go through with it, so stop whining, Cissy, and 'Meda, stop being so morose! It's just one of your moods. It'll go away, given time."
"Bella, is it really too much to ask for?"
And Narcissa looks between her sisters, confused, but Bellatrix is looking Andromeda straight in the eyes, and she clearly knows exactly what Andi is referring to.
"Yes," Bella says. "For us, yes. It will always be too much to ask."
Andromeda shuts her eyes, breathing deeply. "I suppose I knew that already."
Bellatrix just nods, standing. As a parting word, and surprisingly thoughtful, for Bella, she adds, "Lucius isn't so bad, really. You could do much worse." And she sweeps out.
"Not now, Cissa. Not now."
And Narcissa simply nods and rises elegantly, following after Bellatrix.
It is the last time Andromeda will ever speak with her sisters.
If love is too much to ask for one of us, I don't want to be one of us anymore. He's worth that, to me.
You can have Lucius, Cissa. I want love.
You will always be my sisters.