Chapter 1 : Remember Cassiopeia
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Author's Note: Happy Birthday, Tahi (SiriuslyCrack)! This story is for you, Weird Sister. You are a miraculous child, because this was created on a whim. I planned it for so long, but your birthday was a real inspiration. I love you forever and ever and one day we'll go dancing and drink orange juice on a balcony, I promise! I hope you enjoy this.
Oh and I'll be very, very happy if you read and review. Thanks in advance.
Aaaand the last thing, this is a companion fic to The Edge of Night (my Remus/Narcissa) and is the second part of the Black Roses trilogy.
Under the Curse of Stars
“I love him, mother,” Andromeda said resolutely, staring her mother straight in the eye without blinking. Drawing herself to her full height, she clenched her fists and tried her best not to falter under the icy, mocking glare of Druella Black.
Her mother was a beautiful woman despite her age, intimidating with her aristocratic face, though resembling an empty carved marble. She crossed her arms over her chest and sat down on Andromeda’s four-poster bed.
“Blacks don’t love, my foolish child,” she declared coldly, her lips twisting into a smile that never reached her eyes. “Love is for the weak and blinded; an illusion for the soft hearts. Even if such a thing as true love exists, it is not meant for any of our bloodline, and that’s how it should be. Odd balls like you,” she spat, giving her daughter a dirty, malicious glare that bore into Andromeda like a dagger, “have tried to conquer the Curse of Cassiopeia Black. They tried and failed in seeking and finding true love.”
Her heart thumping faintly against her ribcage, Andromeda broke the eye-contact with Druella and looked away. “The Curse of Cassiopeia Black?” she inquired quietly, but her voice remained firm and steady.
“Follow me,” ordered Druella, standing and straightening her skirt. She walked out of the door and Andromeda followed only reluctantly. Beginning to realize she would never be able to make her family accept her decision, she trailed in her mother’s footsteps. Running her fingers against the walls of the hall, the old and still colorful and vibrant wallpaper were soft against her skin. It was odd to realize all of a sudden how much she loathed this efficiently beautiful place.
Just as she expected, they entered the parlor where the enormous tapestry with the Family Tree was. The golden thread with which it was embroidered glinted in the faint glow of candles lighting up the room. Druella stood to it, smirking with pride.
“You know that our name darts all the way back to Middle Ages, don’t you?” she asked Andromeda, turning to her and motioning for her to step closer. Nodding, Andromeda’s eyes scanned the tapestry, her stomach jolting uncomfortably every time she came upon a dark, burned off mark – it was a very amusing family tradition to burn off every person that hadn’t lived up to the almost royal Black standards. Andromeda hated it.
“Now look up there.” Druella pointed all the way to the top of the tapestry, somewhere at the end of the Middle Ages, and Andromeda squinted her eyes to read the words Cassiopeia Black in gold lettering.
“Cassiopeia Black was the youngest and most beautiful daughter of Derek and Aludra Black. She had a promising future before her, betrothed to a wealthy, respected and pure-blooded man. However, she fell in love and devoted her entire being to another man. He was of suave and debonair nature; his manners were satisfying, and intimate, personal ways fascinating. He charmed lot of women, young and old, but he had eyes for no on else than the young and gorgeous Cassiopeia. It would be a perfect story had it not been for the one fatal flaw – he was not toujours pur.”
“Always pure,” Andromeda added bitterly. Druella nodded her head approvingly.
“Yes, not of pure blood, therefore incapable of ever being equal to Cassiopeia and her ancestry. However, people in love are blinded, the disease weakening their mind and common sense, depriving them of their nobility and transforming them into an emotional chaos. Cassiopeia loved him too much, and he was too proud and wicked to do the right thing and let her go, rescuing her innocence and credit. Together they came up with a plan, a life-altering decision. They ran away, Cassiopeia deserted her family and put their name to shame.”
Andromeda’s eyes sparkled.
“Things were lovely and easy for a while with the couple, but false happiness like theirs never lasts for too long. Cassiopeia was disowned and lost all her rights on her inheritance. The Mudblood, while handsome and charming, turned out to be unintelligent and too undetermined to work hard and achieve some goals. They became poor very soon and his nastier side began resurfacing. Cassiopeia refused to see it at first, still clinging to her hope of love, desperately trying to offer him everything she could. Her heart belonged to him and she was bound to him. She couldn’t leave; she didn’t have anywhere to leave. Soon their tantalizing love that once numbed their sense fell into an ugly, slowly destructive routine. It didn’t take long for Cassiopeia’s lover to find himself another woman, equal to him with no honorable bloodline. He ran off with her and abandoned Cassiopeia forever. She came to realize her mistake and see love for what it truly was. She cursed love in the name of Black, trying her hardest to protect the future generations. Whispering a dark incantation under the dark sky filled with glittering silver stars, she vowed to always linger above the souls of those willing to be fools and sacrifice all they attained for a stupid, deceptive thing called love.”
Druella finished, her face hauntingly satisfied, the shadows thrown by the candles making her look almost frightening in the dim light.
Andromeda felt hollowness in her heart she couldn’t fathom. Tears would fall from her eyes if only she didn’t feel so desolately cold and empty, rid of all the hope she might’ve had left.
Turning to face Andromeda, Druella looked down at her with an expression attempting to mirror a mother’s love, coming of as nothing more than a phantom of the emotion. She placed her hands on her shoulders and squeezed them tightly.
“Cassiopeia will protect you,” she stated. As the words parted her lips, Andromeda shuddered.
“What happened to her in the end?” she asked shakily.
Glancing back up at the name, Druella sighed. “She returned back home, begging for forgiveness, claiming to have learned her lesson. However, once you turn back on your name and family, spread dirt all over it and heartlessly run away, there is no coming back. Cassiopeia was never accepted back and died alone, paying for her crime.”
Andromeda shrugged Druella’s hands from her shoulders and took a step back, fighting hard to keep the rage from her voice. “Paying for her crime? So loving is considered a crime in this family? What about you and father? Don’t you love father?”
Druella’s face relaxed and she waved her hand. “Of course I do, but in an appropriate way. He’s my companion. By marrying him I have fulfilled my duty to my name. There is nothing more to consider.”
Andromeda’s eyes widened slightly, something breaking inside. Her mother never loved her father. She could see the truth etched in her pale eyes.
Rounding on Andromeda, Druella’s features changed suddenly, a shadow settling over her face. “Now, Andromeda, I hope you understand everything I’ve told you and finally stop that foolishness of yours. I and father love you, and we don’t want to lose you. Know this, if you continue in pursuing the relationship with that Mudblood, you will end up just like your ancestor Cassiopeia. I will not have my daughter spread filth over my name and the family reputation. Like I told you, Blacks don’t love. You only think you love him.”
The cold and dark voice of Druella made Andromeda shrink under her gaze. Druella then turned on her heel and walked to leave the room, pausing at the doorway.
“Remember Cassiopeia, Andromeda,” she called emotionlessly and disappeared into the hall, her footsteps echoing on the hardwood floor as she walked away swiftly.
Andromeda returned to her room in a ghostly state, her heart probably shrinking to the size of a baby’s fist, aching vaguely.
Despite her rather unfortunate upbringing, Andromeda was always convinced somewhere deep at heart that her family loved her. Emotion was never wasted in their household, but surely there must’ve been at least little specks of it in the heart of everyone. That’s what Andromeda always chose to believe…perhaps that was precisely why she felt so defeated and weak all of a sudden.
Her mother never loved her father, and all that she considered love between them was merely a well-practiced routine that if she delved deep enough meant nothing. This was why she had always felt especially cherished by Ted. His love and affection seemed to her as something magical and irresistible…something she had never encountered before, when it was only natural.
But what if her mother was right? What if it was all a lie? Deception and an illusion? Druella Black was incapable of love, even for her own children, because no matter how much she claimed to love and care, Andromeda understood it only tonight – what she had mistaken for mother’s love and care was nothing more than a duty and intention to produce a tractable and well-bred child that would estimate the family’s name. Andromeda was a tool, just like her sisters, who have already been influenced by the toll. Narcissa, with her girlishness and naivety, maybe not so much, but Bellatrix was so much like Druella in every way it frightened Andromeda. But, perhaps there was still hope for them.
Her thoughts occupied her in such a way she hadn’t even noticed she reached her room. Closing the door behind her, Andromeda leaned into it, shutting her eyes. All she could see was Ted and his smiling eyes that were always full of emotion and so, so alive. And then his face disappeared and she saw a young woman of extraordinary beauty, standing in a lonely, secluded place, looking out toward the horizon, her eyes searching the surface of earth. She was defeated and broken, sending uncomfortable shivers down Andromeda’s spine.
Already she could feel Cassiopeia’s lingering presence. Her story was replaying in her head over and over, and dread filled her when she remembered. Engulfed in the ponderings of love and family, Andromeda almost forgot. They made a decision with Ted. She would try, for one last time, to convince her family of the rightness of her choice for him, and if they wouldn’t accept it after all, they would run away together.
Cassiopeia believed in the love of her lover so deeply it had led her to a shattered heart, rejection of the world and ultimately to a lonely death. The walls Andromeda unconsciously built up around herself through the years have already been breached, but at times she was still unsure. One moment she loved Ted with her entire being, and then she had second thoughts and serious doubts. Was she capable of love? Perhaps years ago Druella was convinced she could love, only to learn otherwise. Cassiopeia’s curse did not only mean that if someone takes a risk and sacrifices everything they have for love they will come to a sticky end, but also that she deprived her descendants of the ability to love for real.
The mere thought of deceiving Ted and never loving him wholly and entirely made her recoil inside. She would only hurt him, or he would hurt her.
Was it worth it?
The clock chiming downstairs broke the silence and Andromeda looked toward the window. It was time. Exactly that moment an owl appeared there, flapping her wings, requesting entrance. A letter bearing a question was tied to her leg, and Andromeda didn’t know.
The sky was inky black just like her last name, but the stars seemed to shine more brightly than usual, guiding her and standing in the way at the same time. One constellation seemed to attract her eyes like no other before, one star of the Ursa Major glinting in the darkness with a defiant glow.
Hugging the little rucksack to her chest, Andromeda tore her eyes away from the sky and looked ahead of her. No more past from now on, especially one that long ago.
She turned for one last time, her magnificent house getting lost in the distance with each new step she took. She was leaving behind everything, only for him.
She would always love all of them.
What made her change this path Andromeda didn’t know. Because she was sure of nothing, and she was terrified of what could and might happen; she was terrified of meeting the same fate as Cassiopeia.
Centuries ago she had put a curse on the next generations – a curse that would be considered a bedtime story for some, but a curse that had been effective and true in the Black family, fulfilling its purpose. Andromeda didn’t remember anyone from her family that could truly love another person.
But between Andromeda and those before her was a difference, she thought with a rush of pride. Andromeda believed in her love, and was willing to withstand all that was to come, whether good or bad.
Out of the darkness a figure materialized, coming closer and closer, bringing an unexpected lightness into the world.
Cassiopeia went bitter and her own weakness made her falter and doom innocent people she claimed to protect.
Ted sent Andromeda a radiant smile that ignited her bones in the cold. They met in the middle of the deserted road, quiet and dark trees being the only witnesses. Taking hold of her hand, Ted laced his fingers with hers.
“You’re here,” he said softly, his voice lovingly quiet. “What is the verdict then?” he asked, already knowing the answer.
Never leaving his eyes, Andromeda squeezed his hand and shook her head.
Cassiopeia lingered in the hearts of many, though Andromeda now knew it was never her.
Ted kissed Andromeda’s forehead and embraced her.
Cassiopeia only represented the cowardice and coldness with which the Blacks had lived for years.
“I love you,” he whispered into her hair.
Curses are powerful, especially those uttered by a heart that went cold.
“I love you, too,” Andromeda said. And she believed it.
Because every curse can be broken.