Chapter 1 : Chapter 1: What you see is what you get.
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Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter I just like to play with it from time to time. I also do not own King Lear *tilts hat to William Shakespeare* Some of what is said by the characters has been interpreted and modernised from the original Shakespearian and hence, may not be totally accurate. This is my interpretation
Now that all of that is done let us get on with the show :)
I present to you, Ladies and Gentlefolk, Heart
“Go and escort Master Avery, Pravus. He will need to be present after the reading.”
“Yes, Master Cygnus, sir.”
The House Elf before him, wearing nothing but a curtain scrap, bowed before disapparating. Cygnus Black looked around the drawing room at his family before him. His eldest daughter Bellatrix and her husband Rodolphus Lestrange were seated to his left, whilst her younger sister Narcissa and her husband Lucius Malfoy sat at the foot of the ancient walnut table. His youngest daughter, Andromeda was seated to his right, still in her Slytherin robes having flooed straight from Professor Slughorn’s office. Her Prefect badge was glinting in the soft firelight that emanated from the black marble hearth. She tucked a strand of her wavy chocolate hair behind her ear before glancing at her father.
Cygnus Black still managed to cut a majestic figure despite the deterioration of his health. For that was why the family was assembled was it not? To hear the ‘Last Will and Testament of Cygnus Pollux Black’, before he departed this life for the next. All those assembled knew that the elder Black had not long to live, and the urgency with which this meeting was assembled made Andromeda think that his death was more imminent than any of them had anticipated.
“In the meantime, I’ll get down to my real business,” Cygnus declared whilst unfurling the scroll of parchment before him.
Bellatrix covertly looked at her husband, he hazel eyes glowing maniacly in the low light of the room. She schooled her expression for fear of her father and youngest sister discovering her inner ambitions. Her husband returned the look, his blue eyes and dark hair blending in to the surrounding décor, making him appear as if he were not truly there.
“I hereby announce that I’ve divided my estate into three parts, which I’m handing over to the younger generation so I can enjoy a little rest and peace of mind in my old age. Malfoy and Lestrange, my loving sons-in-law, I now want to announce publicly what each of my daughters will inherit, to avoid hostilities after I die. My daughters, since I’m about to give up my possessions, tell me which one of you loves me most, so that I can give my largest gift to the one who deserves it most, Bellatrix, my eldest daughter, you speak first.”
Is he having a laugh? thought Narcissa of her father. She glanced at her younger sister, a look of annoyance passing over her usually docile features. We all know that he favours Andromeda and that she will inherit most, despite being barely of age! What is the point in playing this game? Before she could continue her thoughts however, her attention was drawn to her older sister.
As dark as Narcissa was fair, Bellatrix held the same air of authority and elegance that their father did. Casting a quick glance around the party assembled, Bellatrix returned her attention to her father and spoke reverently and full of passion, “Father, I love you more than words can say. I love you more than eyesight, space, and freedom, beyond wealth or anything of value. I love you as much as life itself, and as much as status, health, beauty, or honour. I love you as much as any child has ever loved her father, with a love too deep to be spoken of. I love you more than any answer to the question, ‘how much?’”
After her declaration, Bellatrix sat down gracefully and took her husband’s hand in her own, smiling beatifically at her father. That was easy. The old man must be going senile if he thinks that some false declaration of love is sincere. Maybe we won’t have to do away with him after all.
Andromeda looked at her sisters with no visible expression upon her face, but her mind was working in overdrive, How can I compete with that? I probably love him more than those two do combined, yet I cannot put it in to words. Why must he make a farce of my feelings?
“I give you all this estate and all that dwells within it’s grounds, fertile fields, rivers rich with fish, wide meadows. This land will belong to your's and Lestrange’s children forever. And now what does my second daughter Narcissa, the wife of Malfoy, have to say? Tell me.”
Narcissa looked at her husband, with his shimmering white-blond hair and aristocratic features, looking for some small sign. He slightly inclined his head to her, and she stood before the eyes of her family and spoke loudly for all to hear, “Father, I’m made of the same stuff as my sister and consider myself just as good as she is. She’s described my feelings of love for you precisely, but her description falls a little short of the truth. I reject completely any joy except my love for you, and I find that only your love father, makes me happy.”
She sat down in much the same manner as her sister and gently placed a hand over her usually flat abdomen, feeling the beginnings of a bump forming. Andromeda noted the action and immediately jumped to the correct conclusion Cissy is pregnant!? No wonder she is playing along with father’s games. Or maybe, she thought, her musings taking a darker turn, maybe Lucius is directing this. I can’t let her go the way Bella has gone, I just can’t! But will she even listen to me? She’s always treated me with kindness since our mother died, almost like a surrogate. I suppose she would do anything to protect her child, even if it meant… Andromeda gulped before willing her thoughts away from such a treacherous path. No, she wouldn’t think of that. Maybe she had read the entire situation wrongly.
Cygnus nodded to himself before perusing the document before him and declaring to Narcissa and Lucius, “You and your heirs hereby receive this large third of my estates, no smaller in area or value than what I gave Bellatrix.”
Lucius looked cheered by this, as did Narcissa.
So, he has divided it all up equally then. Maybe I was wrong about Cissy and Lucius, although he still gives me the creeps.
“Now, you, my youngest daughter, Andie, my joy, courted by the rich Master Avery, what can you tell me that will make me give you a bigger part of my kingdom than I gave your sisters? Speak.”
He can’t be serious!? Andromeda thought, before standing, as her sisters had before her and looking her father directly in the eye. With a resigned sigh she said, “Nothing, father.”
“Nothing?” Cygnus replied, looking as confused as the rest of the family felt.
“Come now, ‘nothing’ will get you nothing. Try again, Andie.”
Andromeda sighed again, “I’m unlucky. I don’t have a talent for putting my heart’s feelings into words. I love you as a child should love her father, neither more nor less.”
Andromeda chanced a glance around the table at her sisters and their husbands. Narcissa, in her flowing robes of emerald silk looked as if the power for coherent speech had left her. Bellatrix on the other hand, looked as of Christmas had arrived early and she had been given what she most desired. Hiding the look of disgust that she felt towards her eldest sister, Andromeda turned back to her father.
“What are you saying, Andromeda? Revise your statement, or you may damage your inheritance,” Cygnus said harshly, his anger and annoyance becoming evident.
“Father, you brought me up and loved me, and I’m giving back just as I should: I obey you, love you, and honour you. How can my sisters speak the truth when they say they love only you? Don’t they love their husbands too? Hopefully when I get married, I’ll give my husband half my love and half my sense of duty. I’m sure I’ll never get married in the way my sisters say they’re married, loving their father only.” She pointedly looked at Bellatrix as she said the end of her speech. She had an inkling that Bellatrix loved the power that her husband brought and not the man himself. Unlike her, all I can do is follow my heart. No doubt my own husband will see to use me as a puppet.
“But do you mean what you’re saying?” Cygnus looked at his youngest daughter, not quite recognising the woman that she had become during her time away at Hogwarts.
“Yes, father,” Andromeda replied bowing her head. She could no longer bear to look at his hurt expression.
“So young, and yet so cruel.”
Her father’s words pierced her like an icicle to the heart, chilling her body. Her head snapped up as she protested loudly, “So young, father and honest!”
“Then that’s the way it will be. The truth will be all the inheritance you get. I swear by Morgan Le Fay and Nimüe, that I disown you now as my daughter. As of now, there are no family ties between us, and I consider you a stranger to me. Mudbloods and Muggles will be as close to my heart as you, ex-daughter of mine. Go away! Get out of my sight! I guess if she doesn’t love her father, then I’ll only have peace when I’m dead.”
Andromeda could do nothing but sit down again in her seat. She was too shocked at the extent of her father’s anger to do little more.
The House Elf appeared with a pop.
“Yes Master Cygnus, sir.”
“Call Avery in to me. Let us see if he still wishes to take Andromeda’s hand.”
The House Elf disapparated from the drawing room for the second time that night. Cygnus turned to Rodolphus and Lucius.
“Malfoy and Lestrange, you and your wives can divide this last third of my estate and possessions between you. If she,” he said motioning towards Andromeda, “wants to be proud, or “honest,” as she calls it, she can just marry her own pride. I’ll live one month with you Lestrange and then one month with you Malfoy before I pass.”
Andromeda had recollected herself somewhat and couldn’t help the look of disgust that past over her face this time. Bellatrix was squeezing Rodolphus’ hand so hard, she was surprised that it hadn’t come clean off. Bellatrix’s glee and happiness was permeating the room, making Andromeda feel sick to the stomach, more so than she was at the thought of what her father had said to her.
He disowned me. Just because I wouldn’t…No, just because I couldn’t play along with his stupid games.
The door in to the drawing room opened and the light from the fire cast the figure standing there in an almost ethereal glow. Gilbert Avery entered the drawing room and inclined his head in acknowledgement to the sisters, before stopping in front of the head of the house.
“Avery, what do you expect from me when you marry Andromeda?”
“Nothing more nor less than what you have previously offered, sir,” Avery replied.
“Avery, I valued her highly when I cared about her, but now her price has fallen. There she is,” he said gesturing to the seated Andromeda, her head held high and proud, “over there. If there’s anything you like about that worthless little thing, then go for it. She’s all yours. But what you see is what you get, all you will get from me is my disapproval. There she is.”
“I do not know what to say, sir.” Avery glanced over to Andromeda. He noted that she was pretty, but not a beauty like her elder sisters. In fact, without the promise of gold from Cygnus, Avery felt that she had little to recommend her to him.
Cygnus continued with his damning, “She’s got big flaws. She has no friends or protectors. I no longer love her. All you will get is my curse and banishment. So do you take her or leave her?”
Avery looked again at the seventeen year old witch as she tucked another wayward wave behind her left ear. Avery needed little thought before making his decision, as his mind had been made up the second that Cygnus had revealed that there was no longer anything for him to gain by marrying Andromeda.
“I’m sorry, sir, but nobody can make a choice like this in such circumstances.”
“Very well, Master Avery, you may leave,” Cygnus said, moving his palm towards the open door.
I don’t care what he says anymore. He can curse me and cuss me and I will still love him as I ought to. I’ll be the one who is there for him when he opens his eyes and sees what he’s done. It’s not like I’ve run off with a Muggle! I just hope that Cissy will not sway the same way as Bella has. Bella! She will twist this and I’ll be disowned by Uncle Orion as well! I'm sure Walpurga will then make sure that Regulus has nothing to do with me like Siri. I have to save Regulus from the others!”
“Father, I beg you, please let people know that it wasn’t because I did something atrocious that I fell from your favour. I didn’t murder or commit any immoral or lustful act. I’m out of favour simply because I’m not a fortune-hunter and I don’t have a smooth way with words.” I’m a better person because of it, even though it has cost me your love, she added as an afterthought.
“Enough!" Cygnus roared, before continuing softly, "It would have been better for you not to have been born at all than to displease me as you did.”
Andromeda stiffened before rising from her chair saying more calmly than she felt, “Very well, father. If this is how you feel then I shall return to Hogwarts and you shall never see me again.”
And with that, Andromeda Black walked towards the fireplace, and grabbing a handful of floo powder, threw it in to the fire. As the flames turned in to dancing emeralds, she turned around and looked directly at Narcissa, maintaining eye contact for only a second. Narcissa slightly inclined her head towards her younger sister, before Andromeda wheeled around saying, “Professor Slughorn’s office, Hogwarts.” The last thing she saw as she zoomed off in to the myriad of fireplaces, was a tear glinting in Narcissa’s eye.
A/N: So…what do we think??? Chapter Two will deal with Andromeda’s return to Hogwarts where she goes to meet everyone’s favourite dog, Sirius :) This chapter was especially written for ‘The Great Plays Challenge’ and this along with the rest of the story is written for the ‘Not as Black as it’s Painted’ Challenge. I leave you with this.
Kero: Andromeda, are you ok?
Andromeda: Just peachy, my father’s disowned me, idiot!
Kero: Anything I can do to make you feel better?
Andromeda: Now that you mention it…
Andromeda: A lot of reviews would help me feel much better.
Kero: You heard the girl, reviews will make her happy. (Aside) and I wouldn’t want to make her unhappy. Know what I mean?