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Chapter 1: Untainted
The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. When we were children – when Mother still allowed us to play outside – we would lay by the pond and drop our hair into the water, so that the strands intertwined together. Black, brown, and yellow: three different colours, but all Black, as Bella used to say.
Later, when Mother’s admonishments, Bella’s taunts, and Cissy’s babblings became too much to handle, the meadow was my escape. Now, with Ted pressed against me and his mouth on mine, it’s more than just an escape; it’s what I wish reality could be like, all the time.
“Dromeda,” Ted murmurs.
I thread my fingers through his hair and kiss him again, killing the words on his lips. I already know what he’s going to say and I don’t want to hear it. But then he breaks away and says my name again, so insistently that I have to open my eyes.
He’s poised above me, framed by the night. My breath catches in my throat.
“We can’t do this,” Ted says. “I haven’t even met your family. This – this is improper.”
In the moonlight, his skin glows; I lift my fingers to his face so that my hand glows too – so that I, too, am consumed by lightness. Sometimes I forget how pure he is, how untainted.
“You know what my family is like. You don’t need to meet them,” I tell him. Then, with all my strength, I roll us over in the grass. My dark hair falls down around us, shielding us from the world; out here, in the meadow, only the stars can see us and now not even them. “Besides,” I say, with a wicked grin, “I don’t see how we could get any more proper than this.”
As soon as the words have left my mouth, I would do anything to stuff them back in. But I can tell by Ted’s dazzling smile that it’s too late; he’s already purposefully misunderstanding what I said.
“Well, there’s always mar – ” I smother that forbidden word with another kiss, but I can feel him laughing against my mouth. He may be a perfect gentleman, but he still gets some sick pleasure out of flustering me. He claims that my “commitment issues” are amusing.
As punishment, I abruptly stand up and give him an evil look. Usually, our weekly trysts in the meadow end only when my shift at St. Mungo’s begins. Unfortunately, tonight, Mother demands my presence.
“I have to go.”
Ted props himself up on his elbows and pouts. “But you just got here.”
He looks so pitiable that I have to laugh. “Sorry. It’s this pureblood ball thing, at the Lestranges. Mother will murder me if I don’t show up, and I’m already late.” I laugh again, imagining her vexation at my tardiness.
“I get it.” He’s smiling again. “Cinderella, off to meet her Prince Charming.”
I roll my eyes and help him off the ground. “What are you on about?”
“Muggle thing,” he says simply, and then he pulls me into his arms and we don’t have to say anything anymore. Unfortunately, the moment doesn’t last forever – no matter how much I want it to. We don’t have forever yet; we only have right now.
If only right now could be enough.
A/N: The title and opening sentence of this are from Anna Sewell's novel Black Beauty. But heads up: this story has absolutely nothing to do with horses. There will be ten short chapters, each offering a glimpse into the lives of the Black sisters. Chapter two will be from Bellatrix's point of view, chapter three will be from Narcissa's point of view, and so on.
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