Chapter 1 : Across the Universe
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I had always been the one holding them all together.
Around me, Cissy could lift up her head and show her beautiful face to the world. For me, Bella would sometimes try to soften her edges, restrain the fury she knew terrified her gentle baby sisters. I was their anchor, their support. This was how we worked, the balance perfected by years of breathing in unison. We were sisters, we were Blacks, and we were bound by blood.
Blood was the only thing that mattered. Blood is what makes family, and allegiance to the family transcends all other bonds. I still believe that, of course . . . but my definition of family has changed.
When I left I abandoned my family to ruin. No one else could ever control Bella. Her husband? He would be her puppet, her ticket out of the marriage market and into the inner circle of the Dark Lord. Our parents? Druella loved us, as much as she was humanly capable, but Cygnus was a true Black through and through.
There are whispers, tales told in corners of what centuries of marrying within the family breeds. All of them are true.
At least my sisters escaped that fate.
There were, in the end, no cousins left for them to marry. The lineage of the most noble and ancient house of Black had dwindled, in the end resting on the shoulders of two young brothers, Merlin rest their souls.
I never knew what happened to either until it was too late. They were such lovely children. Actually, most of us were. You would have never thought we would grow up such monsters. Perhaps there is Veela blood hidden somewhere in our line too.
My mother was beautiful, and though none of us inherited her flaming locks, Narcissa is a replica of her, the delicate flower wilting beside the icy heat of constellations. Bella and I favour our father, with sterner features and darker hair. Over twelve generations, the Blacks were always easily recognized; tall and fair skinned, with aristocratic features and clear grey eyes, we were set apart.
Every time I look in the mirror I see them looking out at me.
Bella. Cissy. Sirius. Regulus.
They were my family and I left them.
II. Pools of sorrow, waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me
I had to get out of course. They would have never allowed me to marry Ted, befriend Dorcas, break free of the prescribed script they had gifted me at birth. I do not regret it.
It was me, not Bella, whom they all listened to. I kissed scraped knees, sorted out feuds over damaged sandcastles and stolen hair bands. It was I that quietly explained to a young Sirius that our parents were not infallible, that our blood was not blue, but red, the colour of nature, and shared by Muggles and pureborn alike.
It was I that held Cissy when Bella went off to school and left her sisters behind.
And it was I who took charming, reckless Sirius under my wing and forgot about bland, sullen Regulus, who was always forgotten. The spare heir. It was I who smuggled notes between my littler sister and her dashing lover. My mistakes helped them along their path to the darkness.
I could never say these things aloud. Dorcas would shout at me, abandon her professionalism in an eyeblink. Alice would look at me with tears filling her wide eyes, and then Frank would frown. And Ted – Ted would look at me with such compassion and yearning that my heart, an organ I thought buried, would remind me painfully that it still clung grimly on to life.
They are all gone now, those pillars of my universe.
First there was Bella, sucked into the chasm of Slytherin society. Though she threw herself headfirst into that abyss, still I wonder if I could have dragged her out in those early years if I had tried, just a little harder. Cissy was lost to me the minute she set eyes on Lucius. She was fifteen when he came back from Durmstrang, and what I thought a school girl crush proved more important to her than I ever was. As for my beautiful boys – how I wish I could have kept you from the war. Neither of you could have stood to be locked away, but if there was a way to keep you safe… you should have never had to fight on different sides.
III. Images of broken light which
dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe
Before my first universe collapsed, a second took its place, broke the crushing weight of walls closing in on me. Despite being a Black, my fights with Bella distanced me from my housemates, I was happy to fall into the embrace of the Ravenclaws. Alice Prewett, you were my dearest friend, and you paid the price for associating with a blood traitor. I still remember your laugh, a gurgle of impish glee that warmed my chafed spirit. Without trying, you taught me what real nobility was. That you don’t have to be a Gryffindor to be brave, or a Hufflepuff to be loyal. At the time of course, my parents were merely grateful you were pureblood, and if your aunt had married a Weasely, your father Alexander was sufficiently eminent that they could ignore that, and overlook your Gryffindor beau. I still visit you and Frank, though it tears my bruised heart further to see what you have become.
Because of me.
It was my sister who led the torture. They say now, that it was for information, but they could have gone after any Aurors. She chose you to have her revenge. On those that corrupted me, the ones that ‘stole’ me from her, as if she had not thrown me aside the second she opened her first Dark tome.
Frank and Alice, you saved me from hell, and ended up worse than dead. At least the other pillars of my universe fell cleanly.
IV. they tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe
Dorcas Meadows. At the time, I thought it strange I was so drawn to you. You were years above me at school, yet I think you felt the pull of fate also, to go out of you way and mentor a Slytherin, to the horror of your house. But blood, after all, calls to blood. When you came back to teach, you had not forgotten me. It was you I came to for advice rather than my own Head of House. It was you that sheltered me from the storm of family disapproval; and when I needed you the most, you opened up your home and laughed at the risk to yourself.
And my darling, sparkling, dreamy cousin Dorcas, your flame of life, a blaze we all thought imperishable, was put out by Voldemort before your thirtieth birthday.
I can say his name now. I am no longer afraid. What is there left, now to fear? Have I not already lost all I ever could?
V. Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me
Ted saved me. If not for you, I would have never questioned my family’s doctrine. I would have never had the strength to leave. And that of course, made you a target. In the end, you were hunted not for being muggleborn, but for diluting the Black lineage. By this time, there were no Blacks left, no next generation of scions. Only Narcissa’s child, and mine.
You were the centre of my universe, my Nymphadora. You proved to world the utter idiocy of blood purity, for my little half-blood, you had more magic in your left finger than most purebloods had in their whole body. I didn’t care about that though. You were my daughter, and I love you still. Blood calls to blood, and family is the cornerstone of the universe.
I worried when you married Remus. Pureblood indoctrination never fully leaves you, even when you know it’s there. And every time I saw him I thought of Sirius, and days spent in stiffly starched dresses, perched between my sisters and unaware of the beauty and terror of freedom.
But I am not free. I am a captive to memory, a prisoner to grief and loss. Remus was a survivor, but death comes for us all, reaches out with clammy fingers to steal you away. I should know. He has glided beside me wherever I go. Those that I love are always lost.
VI. Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe
My universe has been ablaze with light, but one by one, they have flickered, dimmed, gone out.
Bella. Cissy. Sirius. Regulus. Alice. Frank. Dorcas. Ted. Nymphadora.
They all held up the corners of my universe, set it aglow with love.
They are all gone now, and only I remain. Each left a gaping hole, a silence that crushes me bit by bit. The words they will never say, hands I will never hold… I loved them all, and always will. It is too late to wish that the darkness had not fallen between us. The past and all its pain has passed.
I have seen so much death, yet I cannot give up hope entirely. Even when I think I have, it worms its way back. As I lift up my darling grandson and rock him gently, I cannot help but smile.
The universe is expanding. A new world has been born.
Nothing will change my world.
Short, rather angsty piece that wrote itself. Tweaked to be part of the Beatles in Harrypotterland challenge and companion-ish to Ripples and its sequel (to be titled Chasing Waterfalls, centred on Dorcas Meadows). Thoughts?
Lyrics and title from the Beatles, characters owned by JK