For the 2012 Hogwarts Games – Women's Football.
Walburga Black was four years old when she found out that she would marry her cousin (she'd already known that dreams don't always come true, or she'd have learned that, too).
"Mummy," she said. "When I grow up, I'm going to be a princess!"
Her mother looked down at her in that detached way of hers and said, "Walburga, when you grow up, you're going to be a Black."
Her tiny lips turned down. "But Mummy, I'm already a Black."
"Yes, darling. And when you're older, you'll marry Orion, and you'll continue to be a Black."
Her eyebrows furrowed. "Why?"
"Because that's how it works. You'll marry Orion because he's a proper pureblood like you, and that's your duty."
At four years old, Walburga already knew quite a lot about duty.
She was eleven years old when she found out that marrying one's cousin wasn't always thought of as acceptable. Her fellow first year Slytherins started a conversation about the handsome Prefect that drifted into talk of who that were going to marry – the way it tended to with girls who already knew the answer. Two of her dorm-mates were fellow Purebloods with their own marriages all set up. The other girl was a halfblood who found the entire idea repulsive. When Walburga mentioned that she was engaged to her second-cousin, Orion, the girl squealed in revulsion.
"Ewwwwww! You can't marry your cousin! That's gross!"
Frowning, Walburga said, "Why not? He's Pureblood."
"That isn't the only thing that matters, you know."
Walburga frowned deeper, utterly perplexed by this viewpoint. "Yes, of course it is. Otherwise you're marrying beneath you and ruining a perfectly good bloodline."
Needless to say, the ensuing argument hadn't been pretty. Walburga was nearly certain she'd made the other girl cry, and the Prefect who broke it up gave her detention but not the other girl, which Walburga didn't think was quite fair. All she'd done was state the truth, after all.
After all, at eleven years old, Walburga already knew quite a lot about what was acceptable in her life.
Walburga was sixteen years old when she found out that sometimes duty hurt. She fell in love – or she started to. He was handsome and clever: a Ravenclaw in her Arithmancy class. He talked to her casually, joking and laughing. She'd never had such easy conversation with anyone, and she'd never really spoken to a boy her age before who wasn't family. It wasn't like the way she talked to Orion – they were always stiff and awkward, because there were too many will-bes in between them that they couldn't ignore.
Thomas wasn't like that. They started out just talking about Arithmancy, but they wound up talking about so many other things, until she found herself falling for this boy and his ideas, like nothing she'd ever heard before. Ideas about how ladies could be treated as equals, about how their world could be a place of equality. Somehow, she missed the fact that equality meant blood-status, too. He wanted to equalize things that weren't equal.
Then they started talking about family, and Thomas mentioned his Muggle mother, and Walburga realised how unacceptable the association was. She didn't want to end the friendship (and maybe something more) that was growing between them, but the fact was that duty came first. Duty to her family; duty to her bloodline.
She told him so. He wasn't very happy about it – he yelled that she was as blind as everyone else, and just as bigoted, too. She kept her features composed and looked at him haughtily, but when he walked away, she cried.
She wanted nothing more than to forget her duty and call him back, but she wouldn't because she was a Black, and that was what mattered.
At sixteen years old, Walburga already knew quite a lot about what mattered.
Walburga was eighteen years old when she realised that duty would consume her life, and that she was entirely all right with that.
She stood calmly in front of the mirror, all dressed up in white, a few dark curls escaping her hairdo and framing her face. She'd never particularly thought of herself as beautiful, but today? Today, she felt like… a princess. The princess she never thought she'd get to be.
Her mother was wrong. Walburga would be a princess – the princess of the House of Black.
After all, she was sort of marrying a prince, wasn't she? Or close enough. She knew Orion, and he was, all in all, not a bad person to marry. He was only four years older than her. He was nice, respectful – decent. A veritable prince, then, with his ancestry.
She didn't love him, but really, how much did that matter? Purebloods didn't marry for love. Walburga never expected to marry for love. She was marrying for status, for the continuation of the family line, for duty. She was marrying because it was right, proper, expected.
What more could she ask for than to dedicate her life to a man who believed as strongly as she did that the pure would triumph in the end?
Marrying a Black meant that she was marrying someone who understood as well as she did the things that came first – family, duty, and purity.
Walburga smiled into the ornate mirror, smoothing out her dress. She adjusted her veil, and then she swept out of the room, her trail behind her.
Duty had brought her here today. Duty would see her through with a smile.
Oh yes, Walburga Black knew all about duty.