"Bellatrix, no, don't hurt him!" four-year-old Narcissa screamed.
Bellatrix, who was eight years old, just laughed as the squirrel on the ground writhed in agony.
"You're scaring her, Bella! You're scaring Cissy!" six-year old Andromeda shouted.
"You'll kill it, Bella! I'll tell Mummy!" Narcissa sobbed. Bellatrix froze in horror and the squirrel went limp. Cissy was Druella Black's favourite child, and scaring or hurting Cissy meant falling victim to Mother's wrath.
"OK, OK, you don't have to tell Mother" Bellatrix snapped. Her mother was the only person she knew who could scare her.
"Is it dead?" Narcissa whimpered.
"No, it's fine" Bellatrix said, glancing down contemptuously at the quivering animal. "Dromeda, you take Cissy inside. I'm staying out here."
"Promise not to hurt the animals!" Narcissa called over her shoulder as she and Andromeda walked back into the house.
"I promise not to hurt them" Bellatrix agreed, "While you're watching" she added under her breath, and the squirrel on the ground started squeaking and twitching again.
Bellatrix smirked at her younger sisters as she tried on her brand-new Hogwarts robes.
"It's not fair, Mother. I want to go to Hogwarts, too!" Narcissa whined to her mother.
"Don't worry, my precious, you'll get your Hogwarts letter soon" Druella beamed fondly at her favourite daughter.
Andromeda couldn't help feeling envious too. Hogwarts sounded such a marvellous place. But of course her mother did not offer her any words of consolation. Andromeda was "the odd one", the one who didn't seem to fit in with her pureblood-loving family. She did not see the sense of discriminating Muggles or Muggleborns. She attempted to be nice to the house-elves (when Mother and Father weren't looking). She had been caught once or twice talking to Muggleborns.
Bellatrix was "the wild one", fiercely loyal to her family and her pureblood status, often getting into fights, turning her nose up at Muggleborns, already practising the Cruciatus Curse on people and animals, proud of her beauty and grace, and liable to throw tantrums that shook the roof. She was also proud, haughty and arrogant.
Narcissa was "the innocent one." She was not yet decided on whether to follow in Bella or Dromeda's footsteps. She was quiet and gentle, she hated to upset anyone in her family and she was secretly scared of Bellatrix.
"Now, Bella" their father Cygnus said sternly, "I want you to promise me that you will not get into trouble at Hogwarts. It is bad enough that you get into fist fights at home. I also want you to promise me that you will not use the Unforgivable Curses at school, because that will get you expelled. I am surprised you are not already in Azkaban for your torturing of animals and Mudblood filth. I suppose the Ministry does not punish children under eleven for using the Unforgivable Curses as they cannot control their magic."
"Yes, Father" Bellatrix agreed sulkily.
When it was time for Andromeda to go to Hogwarts, Narcissa was almost in tears.
"I don't want you to go too, Dromeda" she sobbed. "I'll be all on my own. I need you to cuddle me and read me bedtime stories!"
Bellatrix sneered. "Honestly, you're such a baby, Narcissa. You're nine years old and you still want cuddles and bedtime stories! I bet you still wet the bed!"
"Bellatrix, don't be horrid to Cissy or I'll get rid of your Hogsmeade permission slip!" Druella threatened.
Cygnus turned on Andromeda. "Andromeda, I want you to promise not to befriend Mudbloods. Is that clear? And if you are not in Slytherin, I will not be happy."
"Yes, Father" Andromeda sighed as their house-elves adjusted the hem of her Hogwarts robes.
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Narcissa went to Hogwarts two years later.
"Cissy, sweetheart, Mummy needs you to be careful and stay with Bella and Andromeda, alright? Be very good, try to get top marks in lessons, and remember not to befriend Mudbloods, darling" Druella said softly to Narcissa, tears in her eyes as she looked at her favourite.
Andromeda felt a twinge of jealousy. Druella never spoke like that to her. Druella's farewell words to her second child had been "I expect good marks from you, child. Bella, keep an eye on her. If you shame me in the slightest, expect an immediate Howler from me."
"Narcissa" Cygnus said. "I hardly need to remind you to behave, as you are such a good child."
"Thank you, Father."
"But I do want you to know this – do not let your sister Andromeda convince you of the Mudbloods' innocence and goodness. Try to follow in Bellatrix's footsteps."
Narcissa glanced at Andromeda, her favourite sister, who had always comforted her if she had nightmares or if Bellatrix had been being horrible to her, who had always protected her and read her bedtime stories, who had been there for her when Druella was not. She felt unsure. She did not really want to copy the antics of her wild sister Bellatrix. Nor did she want to anger Mother and Father. She understood that Mother and Father disapproved of Dromeda's beliefs.
"Yes, Father" Narcissa whispered. As they boarded the Hogwarts Express, she caught Andromeda's eye and murmured in her ear "I'm sorry, Dromeda."
Then Bellatrix whisked her away to introduce her to Veronica Parkinson, Zelda Moon, Cynthia and David Goyle and Gordon Crabbe.
"ANDROMEDA BLACK!" the voice of Bellatrix Black screeched behind her. Andromeda turned to see Bellatrix standing with Narcissa, both looking shocked, Bellatrix's eyes glinting with fury.
"WHO IS THAT BOY?" Bellatrix screamed.
Andromeda looked at Ted Tonks and back at her sister. "This is Ted, Bella. He's my friend" she said calmly.
"HE'S A MUDBLOOD, DROMEDA! I KNOW HE IS! LOOK AT THIS!" Bellatrix yelled, yanking Ted's favourite book from under his arm. "THIS IS A MUGGLE BOOK, DROMEDA!"
"I know" Andromeda said, taking hold of Ted's hand. "Give it back, Bella" she added in a commanding tone.
"Bella, please don't hurt Dromeda" Cissy pleaded.
"Shut up, Cissy" Bella spat. "Andromeda, Mother and Father told you not to befriend Mudblood filth! I'm absolutely shocked speechless, Dromeda! Mother and Father will hear about this!"
"No, Bellatrix," Andromeda said with sudden ferocity, "they will NOT hear about this! I won't let you!"
"Try and stop me" Bellatrix snarled.
"I will" Andromeda decided.
"Dromeda, don't!" Narcissa cried.
"Dromeda, come away, we don't need to get involved" Ted reasoned. "If dear Bellatrix wants to spill the beans, then we'll let her. It won't spoil our friendship."
Bellatrix was furious. "You're insulting me, filthy Mudblood!"
"Bellatrix, please don't do anything!" Narcissa begged.
"I told you, SHUT UP!" Bellatrix shrieked at Narcissa, pulling her wand out.
"Don't you lay a finger on Cissy" Andromeda said in a deadly voice.
"Aww, look, Dwomeda ith defending ickle baby Thithy" Bellatrix lisped in a horrible baby voice, smirking at Andromeda.
"What's going on?" a Ravenclaw Prefect called down the corridor.
"You're a filthy blood-traitor, Andromeda Black. Off you go, then, go snog your precious Mudblood boyfriend and stain our family tree with his dirty blood" Bellatrix hissed. Narcissa's eyes were filled with tears as she was dragged off by the sister she feared the most.
"Why, it's little Bella Black" Rodolphus purred from behind her, wrapping his long arms around her.
"Get off me, Lestrange!" Bellatrix shouted. Rodolphus laughed and kissed her on the lips.
"Come now, Trixie, you know I love you" Rodolphus cooed, nuzzling her neck.
"Don't call me Trixie!"
"Oh, Miss Black, do you have to be so harsh? Don't you like my little pet names for you?"
Bellatrix managed to free herself and turned to glare at him. "No, I do not, Rodolphus Lestrange. I am not your girlfriend."
"You wound me" Rodolphus moaned, staggering backwards. "Your harsh, unkindly words are like daggers in my poor heart."
"Shut up" Bellatrix snapped.
Rodolphus laughed again. "That's what I like, Bells: a woman with a fiery spirit."
Bellatrix was frustrated. When would the idiot learn to leave her alone?
"You wait, Bella sweetie, when we're married you'll long for my affectionate cuddles and loving kisses."
"We will never be married!" Bellatrix snarled. "I won't allow it! Why would I marry an idiot like you?"
"Ooh, my ickle Trix has a very fiery spirit! Come on, gorgeous, you surely can't feel that way about me! You know you adore my devilishly handsome looks and my flattering charm" Rodolphus said, striking a pose in front of her.
"Out of my way, Lestrange, before I hex you" Bellatrix hissed.
Rodolphus gave a hoot of laughter. "Oh, now my little turtle dove is going to hex me? I'd love to see you try!"
"Stop mocking me, Rodolphus!"
Rodolphus grinned. "OK, OK, keep your hair on, Bella. I'll leave you alone if you go on a date with me."
Bellatrix looked livid. "No, no, NO, Lestrange, not if you paid me a thousand Galleons!"
"What if I paid two thousand Galleons?"
"No" Bellatrix spat. "Don't hold your breath, Rodolphus."
Rodolphus looked thrilled. "Bella, you gave me an amazing idea! I'm going to hold my breath – literally – and I won't stop until you say yes!"
"What the – Rodolphus – No!"
But Rodolphus was already going pink in the face from holding his breath.
"You'll kill yourself!"
Rodolphus' face reddened.
"Rodolphus Lestrange, stop being an idiot!"
Rodolphus slowly progressed from red to purple.
"Oh alright, you insufferable little worm! I'll say yes only to stop you killing yourself!"
Rodolphus exhaled, looking triumphant.
Narcissa found him rather handsome, with long blond hair and those perfectly oval ice-blue eyes set in a pale, haughty face. He thought she was rather pretty, waist-length blonde hair and round blue eyes and a pair of delicate pink lips. She idolised him and longed to be like him. He did not much care for her, although she would be the perfect match for him as they were close in age and both from highly-respected pureblood families.
"Good morning, Lucius. Did you sleep well?" she asked him timidly one morning in the Great Hall.
"Fine" Lucius replied curtly. "And you?"
"Well enough, thank you" Narcissa said, sliding into the seat next to him. A few seats away, Bellatrix was arguing with Rodolphus and Rabastan (Rodolphus' brother) was trying to calm them both. Andromeda was sitting alone, glancing surreptitiously over to the Hufflepuff table, where Ted Tonks sat laughing with his friends.
Say something interesting, Cissy Narcissa told herself.
"Er – so – what's your favourite Quidditch team?"
Lucius raised an aristocratic eyebrow. "Wigtown Wanderers" he replied. "What's your favourite?"
"Holyhead Harpies" Narcissa said.
Lucius gave a snort. "Oh yes, the all-female team with a big-headed tomboy as their captain" he sneered.
Narcissa flushed. "Dina Lox is quite good."
"She's a show-off" Lucius said in a very final tone.
Narcissa nodded meekly.
"Hello Cissy" she heard Andromeda say quietly behind her. "May I sit down?"
Narcissa looked up at her, and then glanced at Bellatrix. Bella was too busy yelling at Rodolphus to notice her two younger sisters.
"Bella told me not to talk to you" Narcissa said softly.
"Is that what you want to do – to not talk to me?"
Narcissa swallowed. "No" she answered. "I – I want you and me to be friends."
Andromeda nodded and sat down.
"You're dating Ted Tonks, the Mudblood from Hufflepuff, aren't you?" Lucius asked Andromeda abruptly.
"Yes" Andromeda admitted, not daring to look at him, knowing the disapproving look that must be on his pale, pointed face.
Narcissa looked anxiously at Lucius, not wanting her current crush to judge her because of her blood-traitor sister.
Lucius just gave Andromeda a look of disgust and turned to Narcissa. "Narcissa, would it please you if you were to come with me to Hogsmeade next weekend? We could have some Butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks."
He did this because his father had encouraged him to get close to Narcissa so that eventually he could propose to her.
Narcissa was delighted. "Lucius, it would be wonderful! Thank you!"
Lucius smirked to himself. "Very well – Cissy. May I call you Cissy?"
"But I HATE him, Mother!"
"Do not shout at me, young lady! You will marry Rodolphus Lestrange! Your father has arranged it all! Andromeda and Narcissa shall be your bridesmaids―"
"I don't want that filthy blood-traitor in my wedding!"
Druella stared. "What did you call her, Bella?"
Andromeda froze in the doorway, filled with dread.
"She's a blood-traitor! She's dating Ted Tonks – he's a Mudblood, AND he was in Hufflepuff!" Bellatrix explained, looking at Andromeda maliciously.
"No, Bella! You promised you wouldn't tell on Dromeda" Narcissa gasped.
"Promises to baby sisters are made to be broken" Bellatrix snarled. "She's been dating the Mudblood since fifth year! I tried to stop her, but of course she wouldn't listen!"
There was a dead silence in Bellatrix's bedroom.
Cygnus Black, who was lounging in a chair, sat up straight. "Andromeda" he said in a thunderous voice. "Come here at once."
As Andromeda walked, trembling, towards her father, he rose to his feet and pulled out his wand.
"Father, please, no! Not the Cruciatus Curse!" Narcissa shrieked, flinging herself between her father and sister.
Cygnus looked at her. "Narcissa, how can you still be loyal to her after the way she has betrayed our family?"
"I – I – just – please don't hurt her! She's been my best friend and favourite sister for eighteen years. I know she was wrong to disobey you and Mother. I have no intention of following in her footsteps. Please, Father, forgive her, just this once!"
Cygnus considered this. "Very well" he said at last, glaring at Andromeda, pocketing his wand and folding his arms. "You be grateful that Cissy defended you, Andromeda. If I find you having anything to do with this Fred or Ted or whatever his name is, I swear I will flay you within an inch of your life. Do not argue with me. You can live without Tonks. I shall arrange for you to marry Goyle."
Andromeda felt ready to cry. "Father, I've been with Ted for so long…I can't just abandon him!"
"I thought I said DON'T ARGUE WITH ME!" Cygnus roared.
Bellatrix looked beautiful at her wedding. She had declined to wear a white dress, saying that she was not pure and innocent. She wore a long black dress, and her long black curls were swept into a knot on her head. Her eyes were outlined in black, and she wore black lipstick. Her pointed, high-heeled shoes were black. She wore a necklace of black pearls. She carried a bouquet of dark red roses.
Druella tutted at her and said in disapproval, "I wish you'd worn that lovely white dress I bought you. You look as if you are attending a funeral."
The bridesmaids were Narcissa and a friend of Bellatrix's called Voluminessa. They wore cream dresses and carried bouquets of pink and white roses. Rodolphus himself was also wearing black, at Bellatrix's request.
"I will never love you" she whispered as she came close to him.
Rodolphus laughed humourlessly. "I don't expect you to."
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"She – did – what?" Cygnus growled.
"Bella, how could you? You said you wouldn't tell!" Narcissa shouted.
"You ACCEPTED that FILTHY Mudblood as your HUSBAND?" Cygnus roared.
"Yes, I did! I love him, and nothing you say will change that!" Andromeda screamed back.
"GET OUT OF MY HOUSE! YOU ARE NO LONGER PART OF MY FAMILY!"
Andromeda turned around with her chin held high, walking towards the door.
"No, Dromeda – please – remember you promised – you promised you wouldn't ever leave me!" Narcissa cried, catching hold of her arm.
"I don't belong here, Cissy" Andromeda told her softly. "I have to go."
"Get away from her, Narcissa. She doesn't care about any of us anymore. She only cares about her precious Mudblood" Bellatrix hissed.
Before Andromeda could tell Cissy that it wasn't true and that she still loved her, Druella shoved her roughly towards the door. "Get out of our sight, traitor girl. We don't want you here."
As Andromeda left the house, she thought she heard Narcissa crying.