Chapter 2 : Andromeda
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A blazing fire crackled in the hearth, casting a ghostly, uneven light around the living room. It wasn’t a very big room; on the contrary, it was low-ceilinged and cosy, but I loved it all the same. One of the walls was completely covered in books, the shelves on which they stood warping slightly in the middle from their weight. An assortment of paintings and photographs covered the other three walls, and the tiny windows were covered by threadbare curtains.
I sat in an old-fashioned, squashy armchair by the fire, my skin absorbing the lovely warmth. In my hands was a heavy leather-bound book, its thick yellowish pages covered from top to bottom with photographs.
I could feel my fingers trembling as I flicked through the pages, each of the captures marking a moment in history. There was my mother, looking high and cruel; there was my cousin Regulus in his brand new Hogwarts uniform. My eyes fell at last on a photograph near the bottom of the page, one that I would never forget.
It was of my sisters and I. Bellatrix stood at the back of the photo, her long black hair reaching her waist. Narcissa was placed in the middle, picture-perfect as always, seated on a grand armchair. She wore a look of pure snobbery, her white-blonde hair piled up into an elegant chignon. I was seated on the floor in an elegant pose. The three of us were dressed finely.
And that’s where this all started; my family. I was the second of three daughters. My mother and father came from two strictly pure-blooded families, and had very fixed ideas about what the wizarding world should be like.
The Blacks believed magic should be kept strictly within the boundaries of pure-blooded wizarding families. It was very important to them that our family members married others of worthy blood status, so that our line would be kept pure. Half-Bloods and Muggle-borns were regarded as filth on principle.
They weren’t the only ones, either. It was a fact simply accepted within most pure-blooded families, and the ones who refused to uphold it were labelled ‘blood-traitors.’
I found it very difficult growing up with these beliefs and expectations. I always felt as though this treatment of Muggle-Borns and Half-Bloods was unfair, and as a young girl I mentioned this to my mother.
She went absolutely mental. She lectured me about how important being a Black was, and that I should carry the name with pride. I was also warned to never say something like that again, in fear that she would have a heart attack. That shut me up for the time being.
Bellatrix, Narcissa and I were raised almost solely by our house-elf. Our parents had very little to do with us; Father was always absorbed within important meetings, and Mother spent most of her time socialising with other wealthy families.
I think because our parents were not present a lot of the time, we missed out on the important parent-child relationship. It wasn’t as though we would have had a great one with them anyway, but I missed it all the same. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why Bellatrix became so dark and twisted.
Bellatrix, as the eldest, had always been my father’s favourite. She was a born leader. As a child, she was boisterous and self-willed, completely disinclined to listen to anybody else’s opinions. She had always done things her own way, and had a lot of pride in her pure-blood heritage.
Narcissa was quiet, observant, reserved. She preferred not to be in the thick of things, but to watch from the sidelines. With her long, white-blonde hair, angelic face and dazzling blue eyes, Narcissa was my mother’s favourite. She had never been academically brilliant, but her high blood status and wealth got her whatever she wanted.
My sisters and I have never been close. I’ve always felt detached from them. Sure, we used to play together as children, but it always seemed as though Bellatrix and Narcissa did their own little thing, and I wasn’t really a part of it.
We have our similarities – I am not going to deny that. Both Bellatrix and I are self-willed and individualistic, refusing to be brainwashed. Yet we chose completely different paths. She took everything our parents taught us and helped to distort it into something almost completely different. In choosing to follow Voldemort, she became obsessive, unstable, sadistic.
I instead chose to rebel. I was fed up with my family, the way they treated those of lesser blood, their obsession with wealth and status. I had had enough.
And so I left. I bluntly told my family I was leaving home for good, and I would probably never return. I told them I had fallen in love with a Muggle-born, and that he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I had a brief glimpse of the expression on my mother’s face before I disapparated out of there, never to return.
I’m still not sure whether I did the right thing. Family seemed like something quite important, but I never felt like I belonged to the Black Family. My parents were distant, Bellatrix was mentally unstable and Narcissa was unsure and reclusive. All my parents cared about was ensuring we made respectable, pure-blood marriages. They couldn’t care less about love.
And that was the core reason for my departure. I had grown up in a place I had never felt loved or appreciated.
Sighing, I rose slowly from my armchair and made my way into the hallway. Its cream walls were littered with photographs of Ted and me, along with a few landscape paintings in wooden frames. At last I reached the kitchen. It was small, as was the rest of the house, the oaken cupboards fit to bursting with pots and pans and the sink piled high with dirty dishes.
“Scourgify,” I said, pointing my wand at the pile, and the plates instantly became clean. Smiling, I reached for a saucepan and began to cook dinner.
I loved this house. It was everything my childhood home never was; comfortable, welcoming, warm. It was the first place I really felt I belonged. Ted and I picked it out together, and the house and garden had grown with us. I loved to watch the roses bloom each summer and feel the warmth of the sun on my face each morning as I made breakfast. Living here meant the world to me.
And there was my husband, Ted Tonks. He was my everything. Ted was everything my parents despised; kind, patient, open-minded. He had shown me an alternative way of living; a different way, a better way...and I had left my old life behind for him.
We attended Hogwarts together – he was in the same year as me, but in Hufflepuff. My parents had warned me that contact with Muggle-borns was dangerous and dirty, but Ted was nicer than any of the Slytherin pure-bloods in my year. We became close friends. My sisters heavily disapproved of our friendship, but never mentioned it to our parents.
By our seventh year, things between us had changed. We were no longer two friends, we had become more than that. I had fallen in love with him and him with me.
My parents had begun their process of match-making, and were constantly badgering me about who I would marry. They would organise Balls and Dinners with other rich wizarding families, hoping that I would find a suitable husband. The pressure was immense. All the men I was introduced to were so arrogant, so proud...I knew that by marrying them, I would never be truly loved; I would be a possession, a thing, sold from my family to theirs.
As my Mother introduced me to man after man, I couldn’t help but compare them to Ted. While the rich, pure-blooded men were well known and wealthy, Ted was kind, caring, patient. He really understood me; I could tell him anything without being afraid of what he would think of me. I told him all about my life at home, the pressure to make a respectable marriage, the fact that my family were constantly breathing down my neck, judging me on my personality and my decisions.
He was supportive and encouraging, and he made me feel so special. Whenever I spent time with him, the worries and anxieties would fade away.
I honestly don’t know where or what I would be without him.
While it’s sometimes difficult to be missing my family’s support, I know my future lies with Ted. I know I’ll be happy with him.
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