Chapter 1 : A Black Childhood
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Cygnus and Druella Black were counted among the most influential members of the British wizarding society. Cygnus took pride in his family name, conducting himself as royalty among his peers. A former Headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry was among his ancestors, others had received an Order of Merlin and had seen to the conservation of their pureblood line. When he took the coveted and much-sought after Druella Rosier as his wife, he looked forward be set for life. Druella had débuted only the season before, one of the most stunning women he had ever seen. Their engagement had been announced only a few weeks into the season, as her family’s standing was such that befitted his own.
To his chagrin, she had not yet produced the heir he so coveted, instead giving birth to three daughters.
Bellatrix, the oldest, had a mind that could be called devilishly almost; and if she had been a boy, he even might have been proud of the child.
Andromeda, the second, was very eager to learn, but such nonsense could not be tolerated with a girl; the only goal she should have was ensnaring a husband.
And Narcissa, the youngest. She was as fair-haired as her mother, and very compliant. She would ensure him a fine son-in-law in her time.
His wife was no longer able to have children, and the fact that he had no male heir to carry on his name weighed heavily on him.
His older sister Walburga, a malicious, callous being who everyone had assumed would die a spinster like their cousin Araminta Melliflua, had married their second cousin Orion, and it looked like she might actually carry a boy.
Druella was well aware of that fact; it would have been her place to bear the next heir, and reign over the house as its mistress. Callous, coarse Walburga would hold that position, a girl who had always been far beneath her in terms of looks, charms and suitors when they had been younger, and who she had often talked derisively about. What had stung even more, was that she had had her eyes set on Orion herself, but a Black was a Black, her father had encouraged Cygnus Black’s courting of his daughter at once, and so she finally accepted.
Life in the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black was bleak nowadays; when she still had been the Mistress of the House she had attended and hosted a variety of pureblood gatherings.
A memory stood out to her, when she had still hope for a male heir, and her second daughter had just been born. During her pregnancy, she had hoped for a boy, of course. She had sat with her embroidery hoop in the drawing room, wishing for a baby with hair as black as ebony, just like every Black, and skin as white as snow just like her own, and lips as red as blood.
The child had been born, but to her disappointment, it had been a girl. Again.
After her third child, she had taken ill with a mysterious illness, that gradually intensified, leaving her to die at the young age of thirty.
Andromeda sat in the window seat of her room at Number 12, Grimauld Place. She watched the world outside, nothing and everything going through her mind.
She was 11 years old, and soon, she would go off to Hogwarts. Her mother had passed away the previous year, and her father didn’t care much for them, leaving her and her sisters to stay with their relatives. Uncle Orion didn’t get involved in their lives, he had ‘business to attend to’, as Aunt Walburga constantly reminded them. Aunt Walburga. Andromeda shuddered at the mere thought of her; she sensed an air of cruelty and madness about her aunt, and was careful not to cross her. Aunt Walburga had clearly taken a liking to Bella, and Narcissa was quick to adapt to new situations, fitting in instantly.
Andromeda was a quiet character, a mixture of her sisters’ looks and mannerisms. She preferred to read and play with her little cousin Sirius. He was only four, and could never seem to sit still. Sirius’s brother Regulus was still very little and seemed permanently ill, so they weren’t allowed to play with him and thus it was most often only Sirius and she.
Aunt Walburga often looked at her with what she would later recognise as envy. She didn’t know why, and there wasn’t anyone who she could ask about it, both of her sisters wouldn’t be interested, and Sirius and Regulus were far too little.
She had just led her cousin upstairs, where he was supposed to take his nap. Which meant he would try to sneak out of the nursery any moment now and most likely get caught by his mother.
Andromeda quietly walked down the hall to reach her own bedroom upstairs. On her way there, she had to pass the master bedroom, and she could see from afar that light was streaming out of a gap. Despite herself, she tip-toed closer and peered through the opening. Her aunt was in front of her mirror; occupied with something she thought was very strange.
She was currently priming her hair, which she had taken out of her usual chignon. Then she asked, seemingly into nowhere, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall; who is the fairest of them all*?”
Andromeda’s eyes widened when the mirror’s surface began to swirl, and the translucent contours of a face could be seen. “You, mistress, are the fairest of them all*,” it answered back.
“Ha, I’m fairest, do you see that, Druella?!” she rejoiced in a singsong voice.
The mirror opened its mouth again, unbidden. “She was the fairest of them all, and even fairer are her daughters, the middle child will surpass all.”
“Shut up! She won’t!”
Walburga threw her comb at the mirror, and it went right through the swirling surface. The voice that had come from the mirror gave an insulted ‘hmpf’ before it went quiet and still again.
Andromeda didn’t really know what that meant, but she fled her current spot as if a Dementor was after her.
The next day, she left for her first year at Hogwarts, glad to be away from her aunt’s hostile eyes.
The light from the windows of Hogwarts castle twinkled merrily like eyes, biding new and returning students welcome. Andromeda climbed into one of the boats, none of the other first years were familiar to her. Bellatrix had abandoned her for her friends as soon as they had boarded the train, but that was fine with her. She had spent the journey reading.
“It’s awesome, isn’t it?”
She looked at the boy next to her at his words. He had mousy-brown hair, but his eyes sparkled with delight and wonder.
Andromeda decided she could as well get to know some of her new classmates. “It really is. I feel like a princess already. – Hey, my name is Andromeda. Who are you?”
He snorted. “Why is it that everyone has those weird names?”
She regarded him inquisitively. “Weird? Why would you say that?”
“Because it is. Everyone in this world seems to have strange names, and dress strangely, and … well, I guess I’ll just have to get used to that, eh? – Oh, and I’m Theodor, but please call me Ted. At least it doesn’t sound like I’m my own grandfather.” He nodded to add emphasis to his words.
Andromeda shook his hand, before her gaze returned to the castle. Ted. She concluded he must be a mudblood. At least, that was the word her aunt and uncle and Bella used. If so, she was not supposed to talk to him. Before she could enquire further into the matter, the boat gave an unexpected lurch, and Ted who had been standing, went flying headfirst into the water.
“Stop! Student overboard!” she cried immediately, and the whole fleet came to a halt.
“No worries, young ones,” the professor calmed them, and lifted a sopping wet Ted towards his boat. Ted grabbed hold of the side of the boat. His head and arms were visible, his hair plastered onto his face. To Andromeda’s amazement, he had a dopey smile on his face. She thought he looked like a wet puppy.
“There was something in the Lake! I felt it!” he said excitedly.
Andromeda watched with a raised eyebrow as the other occupants of the boat heaved him in, and as he sat there shivering, but smiling nonetheless.
Andromeda watched in wonder when they filed into the Great Hall. That was even better than everything Bella had recounted, and she felt a deep joy at the prospect of staying here for the next seven years.
Professor Slughorn started calling names, and the first students were sorted.
“Black, Andromeda,” the professor’s voice sounded through the hall. Andromeda took heart and stepped forward graciously. The hat was too big for her, and slid down over her eyes.
As expected, she heard a disjointed voice, ‘Who do we have here? Not like your sister, that’s for sure. Thirsty for knowledge, you’d do well in Ravenclaw.’
Andromeda thought it sounded tempting, but then her aunt appeared in front of her inner eye. ‘No!’ she thought. ‘It has to be Slytherin! I don’t know what she’ll do, put me into Slytherin!’
‘You certainly have Slytherin traits as well. If this is your wish, so be it.’ “Slytherin!” The hat announced to the Great Hall.
Andromeda sighed in relief. She didn’t know whether to feel elated or depressed, but at least she would not be disembowelled just yet.
Toward the end of the ceremony, she watched ‘Tonks, Theodor’ being sorted into Hufflepuff. She had to fight the urge to giggle along with everyone else as he almost tripped on his way to his new house table.
* quotes are from Snow White by the Brothers Grimm
I don’t own the Harry Potter Universe or Snow White.
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