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Moments of Defiance by Up and Away
Chapter 2 : Gemma & Andromeda
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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              The life of a pureblood heir, while decadent, is treacherous.  It is an elaborate

dance of money, pedigree, and connections that was taught to children alongside

letters and arithmetic, a dance Gemma Withers knew well.  Although only fifteen years

old, she had already begun assembling her empire, a spider web of connections and

blackmail that would determine her place in the pureblood court when she graduated

in two years.  She had all the makings of greatness:  old money, blue blood, and a

beauty and charisma that drew others to her.  She viewed her classmates with cold

calculation, assessing their value to her and adjusting her behavior accordingly.  She

played by the rules of the society that had spawned her, seeing it as neither good nor

evil but reality.

 

               But despite this worldview, Gemma Withers never thought it would be her best

friend who would cause her carefully constructed world to crumble around her. 

 

               Andromeda Black was the only pureblooded girl of the same age group who

Gemma’s high-minded mother thought her social equal.  In a childhood that had been

comprised of well-mannered tea parties, strategic play dates, and the beginnings of

life-long bonds, the youngest Withers and middle Black child had been thrown together

and become fast friends.   To have an older friend suited the self-important Gemma and

the motherly, kind-hearted Andromeda, called Addie, had loved to have a life-sized doll

to play house with.


               Although Addie was nearly two years older, now a Ravenclaw seventh year to

Gemma’s Slytherin fifth, the two remained close friends throughout their school years. 

Their friendship—as many young girls’ did—ebbed and flowed.  During Gemma’s first

year, she had felt so lonely and homesick that she had followed her only friend around

for an entire semester, until people thought she was a Ravenclaw instead of a

Slytherin.  There was a time in second year when Gemma, full of her new Slytherin

friends and with a whole new set of underclassmen to lord over, had ignored her

boring Ravenclaw friend.  The next year Addie flew into hysterics over the stress of

OWLs and the two had fought so badly that they didn’t talk for nearly six months, and

were only reunited when Gemma was publically dumped by her boyfriend (the Captain

of the Ravenclaw team who, it turned out, had only used her and was found severely

cursed the next day, which was coincidentally the same time of the friend’s reunion).

 

               Their relationship, from the outside, could only be deemed an extreme case of

‘opposites attract.’ Gemma was the ice queen of Slytherin and Addie was the darling of

Ravenclaw.  Andromeda Black was widely considered the most beautiful of the Black

sisters, with classical features and a charming smile that won hearts.  Gemma Withers

was very pretty in her own right but cold eyes detracted from her beauty and as a result

she was generally viewed as the Penelope to Addie’s Helen of Troy.  But the biggest

difference was their acceptance of the society that had raised them. 

 

               Addie was perfectly happy to take all the opportunities her social standing

afforded her (the money, parties, and automatic social standing that came with being a

pureblood in Hogwarts), but at the same time, she disagreed with all that pureblood

society stood for.  In the court, money and affluence was king and its members were

happy to condemn all those outside their limited sphere.  Addie fought for the

degeneration of the rigid cast system and rejected the increasingly violent ways of the

court while still accepting money from parents who supported the causes she

despised. 

 

               Gemma, on the other hand, felt that she owed the society—however flawed—

for an upbringing filled with all the pleasure money could buy.  She accepted her place

in the system and subconsciously thought of her actions as payment for a prestigious

place in wizarding society.  It made sense to her that purebloods would be superior to

half bloods and muggles.  She wasn’t violent or hateful with these opinions, it was

simply a fact she had grown up with, much the same was knowing the sky was blue or

that magic was real.  Because she was, by luck or fortune, a pureblood, it was her duty

to eventually take her mother’s place in society and she had never shirked this

responsibility.

 

               Addie thought Gemma was heartless for dismissing the many injustices of the

Pureblood Court and Gemma thought that Addie had a double standard wherein she

criticized the court but still accepted the benefits she gets from her association with it.

 
 
               But these disagreements were not the heart of their friendship, and if anything

their heated discussions solidified their bond—only the closest of friends can survive a

stalemated argument with a mutual respect.  You see, despite their differences in

temperament, choice of friends, and view of the political climate, Gemma and Addie

had always described the other as their closest friend, more sister than acquaintance. 

 

              Until now.  Addie had finally asked the unthinkable of Gemma:  Andromeda

Black had asked her closest friend to be her maid of honor.

 

               Andromeda had had many beaus over the years, and she was about to

graduate, so it should not have been surprising that the middle Black child would be

engaged.  And Gemma wouldn’t have been surprised, if Andromeda hadn’t announced

her engagement to a muggle. 

 

               For all her past rebellion, Andromeda had always dated nice, pureblooded

boys and Gemma had been sure that, one day, Andromeda would find the right one

and settle into her place in society.  But now, there was no chance.
 


               A cold fury slipped through her emotional shield and infused her bones,

straitening her spine and hardening her eyes.  After all these years of friendship, this is

how Andromeda betrayed her?  They were raised together, with the same values and

standards.  How could Andromeda cast off that connection so easily?
 

               And how could she stand there, expecting Gemma to just accept this final

treachery?  What’s worse, Andromeda actually looked hurt that Gemma was taking the

news badly.  ‘What am I supposed to do?’ Gemma thought, derisively.  ‘Celebrate

betrayal?  Offer to help her twist the knife she stabbed me with?’  For her part,

Andromeda Black looked scared and miserable.  Gemma saw only her friend’s

disloyalty to her people, but Andromeda was past caring about such false loyalty and

instead was broken-hearted that the only person she cared about was about to cut ties

with her.

 

              Andromeda knew what would happen to her if she abdicated her position in the

Pureblood court, but she had hoped that her one true friend would support her.  It was

the desperate wish of a drowning woman clinging to one final, irrational hope.  Each

friend, lost in their own sense of betrayal, could only see the other as the Brutus to their

Caesar and was blinded to their own treason. 

 

              “Are we done?” was Gemma’s bland reply.  A question to answer a question.

Both knew that if the answer was ‘Yes’ than the conversation wouldn’t be the only thing

finished—their friendship was also hanging in the balance. How could Andromeda

expect Gemma to abandon everything she had grown up with to throw in her lot with a

friend who could only be going through another stage of her ridiculous rebellion

against the society that had raised her.  Why would she?  It was not Gemma who was

‘in love’ with a muggle!  How could Gemma be expected to dishonor her family simply

on a whim?  It only reasserted Andromeda’s betrayal, that her former friend did not

consider the pain she was introducing Gemma to.

 

              “Please Gem, I—“ began Andromeda.

 

              “’Please Gem’ what?  What could you possibly say?  If he is your choice,”

Gemma sneered, “then we have nothing more to say to each other.”

 

               “Gemma I love him!” Andromeda cried.  Gemma just rolled her eyes.  “I do! 

You don’t understand, you can’t understand, but they are wrong!  He’s human just the

same as we are!  We aren’t better just because we can do magic.  We can just do

different things.  He’s brilliant in ways that they can’t understand.  They are wrong!”

 

              Gemma snorted.  “Do you really believe that?  If they are just the same, why do

they not have magic?  We know that squibs are magic-less because of a mutation, a

wrongness in them.  You know it!  Its been proven!  If it a wrongness that causes

someone to be born without magic, then what are muggles?  A populations of

wrongness.    How could you consider him, Andromeda?  What if your children turn out

like him—freaks?”

 

              “How can you be this racist?  Don’t remember Muggle Studies?  They are

brilliant!  The muggles have come up with a way to survive without magic.  Can’t you

see they aren’t mutations—they are just people!”  Andromeda knew that her friend

followed Pureblood beliefs more seriously than she herself did, but to hear that

garbage spew from the mouth of someone you consider closer than a sister, especially

about the man she loved was devastating.

 

               Gemma’s cold gaze cut through her friend.  It was remarkable how young and

unsure Andromeda felt faced with the condemnation of her closest friend and

confidant. If only Gemma would relent, just a little bit, and Andromeda would have the

strength to defy her parents and all she had grown up with—such is the power of a true

friend.  As it was, it had been months since Andromeda had been able to see Ted

Tonks and her will was beginning to falter.  Although Gemma thought her friend was

dismissing her family and friends on a whim, in actuality the decision was agonizing to

Andromeda.  Her earlier rebellion had been heartfelt, but it was the defiance of a child

who hadn’t had the strength to make the final break from the only society she had ever

known.  Once she married Ted, she would have no family, no connections, and now

that Gemma had abandoned her, no friends.  But in her heart of hearts, Andromeda

knew that she could not continue to live amoung the cruelty and condemnation of the

Purebloods.  She had to take a stand.  She was too weak to do so on her own, but with

the love of Theodore Tonks supporting her, Andromeda found the strength to finally

renounce all that she had known and held dear.


 
               But Gemma couldn’t understand.  Middle children like Andromeda were made

to rebel, but only children like Gemma—with all the expectations of their parents

focused on them—were more rigid and couldn’t fathom that their upbringing was

flawed.  And her only option, now faced with the disloyalty of a former friend, was to

leave and cut all ties with the soon to be Andromeda Tonks.
 


               And leave Gemma did.  Or at least, she tried to, before Andromeda stopped

her.

 

               "Gemma, you know.  You have to know, what they are.  What they do.”  ‘They’

was the court, all the adults who were becoming more and more secretive, more and

more militant.  Lately the things people said at parties were becoming more cruel and

unnerving.  Sometimes Gemma worried that the jokes her friends made were not jokes,

that their actions were not juvenile foolery, but juvenile mimicry, following the more

serious brutality that the older generations—including Gemma’s parents—were

exhibiting.  It was becoming less and less of a game to be a Pureblood.  Lines were

being drawn that were much to harsh and inflexible.  Gemma was becoming more and

more uncomfortable with the society she supported, but she couldn’t see—or entertain

—any other course of action beyond becoming what she was born to be.  Andromeda,

her best friend in the world, knew she felt this way.  Andromeda could see Gemma’s

uncertainty and was using it to manipulate her into changing her mind about

Andromeda’s actions.  And for some reason this made Gemma all the more furious, not

only that she was being manipulated, but that she was losing the only person who she

would be able to take to and trust within the court.  She was as alone as Andromeda

was going to be, but at least the latter had a fiancé.  All Gemma had was a court of

changing faces and uncertain loyalties.

 

              “Gemma, you know how they operate.  They eliminate anyone who isn’t exactly

like them.  How can that be right?  It just can’t.  And you and I both know you feel the

same.  So why do you keep turning a blind eye?”  Andromeda was angry now, unable

to have a calm argument now that it might be the last argument they would ever have. 

Gemma just stared at Andromeda, her face composed and her eyes shuttered.  “How

can you let them do to muggles and half-breeds what they did to you brother simply

because he was a—“

 
 
               The resulting slap reverberated in the empty bedroom as though they were in

a long hallway, echoing in the mind of the participants for what seemed like a lifetime. 

Gemma was so furious that she didn’t regret the slap or the look of horror on her former

friend’s face.  She only regretted loosing her cool, and that she couldn’t do more harm

to the traitor in front of her.


 
              “We will not speak, we will not acknowledge each other, and I refuse to be the

maid of honor to a blood traitor.”  With a look of calculated fury, Gemma left Andromeda

alone in the seventh year dormitory with only her anger and a ring on her finger.

 

              Before Gemma was down the stairs, she heard Andromeda from behind her. 

“Don’t tell my parents” were the last words Andromeda Black ever spoke to Gemma

Withers.


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