Chapter 1 : Prologue
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Narcissa sighed heavily as she surveyed the Parisian streets from her balcony. Due to her mother’s skill at selecting the most perfectly boring chaperones available the city had not provided her with the freedom that she had longed for. She gazed bemusedly at the lovers on street corners, pondering why anyone should want to make a spectacle of themselves in such a way. The French had such bizarre notions concerning love. She wondered if they even understood it properly, probably not she surmised. They seemed to think that love was love and propriety wasn’t a factor in a good match, but who was she to judge them, if they wanted to throw their lives away so be it.
The summer night was humid and although it was barely dark Narcissa was not allowed to leave the house for fear of her virtue being compromised. This restriction assumed that Narcissa would let an unknown blackguard compromise it and even the mere thought of it caused her to feel greatly offended. She wasn’t loose like the women still frolicking merrily in the streets below her, but despite both her moral and physical superiority –she was on a balcony after all- she couldn’t help but be transfixed by their lack of inhibitions.
Narcissa’s perusal was disrupted by a loud crack from downstairs, followed by a rather loud commotion. She tentatively made her way into her quarters, but relaxed slightly when she recognised the voice of the intruder, although, to be perfectly frank, she was unable to do so entirely. Her eldest sister in a bad mood was not something to be taken lightly or trifled with. She perched herself on an armchair with as much composure as she could muster, knowing that to go down and inquire what Bellatrix wanted would only cause a scene in front of her hosts and some unnecessary gossip about their unladylike manners.
There was a rushed pounding on the stairs and within minutes Narcissa was faced with situation much worse than she could have imagined. Bellatrix arrived with her hair wild around her face and the look upon it was a strong mixture of repulsion and loathing, for a young pureblood witch to go out in such a state the situation really must be dire. Her breathing was laboured and the devastating words that spilled from her mouth were earth shattering enough without being injected with the venom Bellatrix provided in abundance.
‘She’s done what?’ Narcissa cried. She was on her feet instantly and rushed over to meet her sister, who was still dithering by the door.
‘You heard me, Cissy,’ she spat back. ‘That stupid, stupid girl has eloped!’
‘But… But she wasn’t seeing anyone! How is that even possible?’
Bellatrix had taken to pacing the room in a manner that was sure to wear a hole in the carpet and Narcissa watched her anxiously. She knew that Bella would draw everything out unnecessarily and the answer to her questions would probably never materialise. Narcissa swiftly peeked round the door frame to make sure there was no one about to witness their conversation and then closed the door softly.
‘Mother and Father should never have let her train at the Damned Ministry!’ Bellatrix roared whilst venting her frustration on a helpless footstool.
Narcissa’s thoughts were circling around the rumours of Dromeda being with child that would no doubt appear once society heard of her elopement, and no matter how impartial the recipient of such gossip was the news was going to cause a stir. Narcissa could feel herself growing weak and to prevent a fainting episode she stumbled to the nearest chair and sank into it. Unfortunately, she had not yet heard the worst of it, nor had it crossed her mind.
‘Did she run off with someone from The Ministry? I mean, it is still a good match, isn’t it?’
Bellatrix rounded viciously on her sister. ‘A good match? A good match?! Are you joking, Cissa? She’s eloped with a mudblood!’ The words Bellatrix spat out from behind tightly clenched teeth caused Narcissa to gasp.
‘Oh… She hasn’t! A mudblood? Oh Merlin, help us…’ All illusions of composure were shattered as Narcissa slumped further into her seat. Her mother would have been ashamed. Family crises were never an excuse for a loss of composure. Nothing was.
‘Did you really expect anything less from the little slut? She probably had the whole thing planned from the moment she asked Father to set her up there.’
‘But she’s our sister, Bella! Has father gone to find her? What’s happening?’ Questions cascaded from Narcissa’s mouth like water from a particularly animated fountain.
‘For the love of Merlin, Cissa! Are you really so bloody naïve?’ Bellatrix sat down on the armchair facing Narcissa and fixed her with an intimidating stare.
‘Bella, we don’t have time for this nonsense,’ Narcissa stated firmly. ‘Tell me the whole story.’
‘She’s run off, eloped, whatever you want to call it, with a mudblood. What else do you really need to know? Although, I’m sure you have thought up numerous other useless, time consuming questions to ask.’
‘Well, if you didn’t insist upon beating around the bush I wouldn’t need to ask so many!’
‘Oh just shut up for one minute,’ Bellatrix cradled her head in her hands, seemingly unaware that she was the one causing the pandemonium in the room. ‘I can barely hear myself think.’
Narcissa sighed in exasperation, but obliged knowing that to offend Bella further would be of no benefit to her whatsoever.
‘She left a note, but the news hasn’t broken yet,’ Bellatrix said, spouting the words with a distinct lack of emotion. ‘No doubt it’ll be common knowledge by the morning and in The Prophet by the next. Father is livid and Mother is firmly set on doing some damage control, needless to say, your return home is to take place immediately.’
‘I have to go back?’
‘Of course you bloody do! Would you like everyone to think that you’re a whore just like your sister?’ The apparent stupidity of her younger sister set Bellatrix’s eyes on fire and brought the passion back to her speech.
‘Honestly, Bella, if Mother could hear you know she would be washing your mouth out.’
‘Like I give a damn, Cissa,’ she smirked, ‘at least I’m not the one who has to live with her. Being a married woman does have its advantages.’
‘I’m very well aware of them, Bella, although I find it possible to fathom what Dromeda could possibly be getting from this… attachment.’
‘She’s got an incompetent, filthy blooded wizard and that’s all she deserves!’
To an observer the mood swings that Bellatrix was prone to having, much like a pendulum on a clock is prone to swinging, would no doubt have been terribly disconcerting, but what would have drawn their interest more was the calm demeanour with which Narcissa dealt with them. It seemed to suggest that such outbursts were commonplace.
‘Hurry up and get the house elf to pack your things. I’ll go and inform the Houndswifts that we’ll be leaving presently.’
‘And apologise for apparating straight into the house while you’re at it; that was appallingly rude of you.’
‘You know I will, Cissa, but do you really think I care?’ she asked, raising an eyebrow.
Bellatrix rose from the chair, her robes sweeping after her as she stormed out of the room. Leaving Narcissa to note the fact that storming had all of a sudden progressed from a hobby of Bella’s to her only form of movement and to finally show the sheer disbelief she felt about what she had just been told; to do so in front of Bella only served to add fuel to an uncontrollably raging fire.
A/N: Thank you for reading! All reviews are greatly appreciated.
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