Chapter 15 : Rejection
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The house was deathly silent when Andromeda returned. Pricking her ears up, she instantly became suspicious. Never before had she heard this house so quiet. Cissy should have been here, probably with Lucius, but instead the house was silent.
Then she heard a floorboard creak, and Tansy appeared in the hall, having come from the parlour. “Miss Black, your parents and sisters wish to see you.” The little house elf was shaking in her boots, her milky pale eyes wide in the evening light.
The terrified look on the house elf’s face nearly made Andromeda’s heart stop. She was never summoned this way unless something truly terrible had happened; like the time her father’s bill for the banning of Muggleborns as Minister of Magic had been rejected.
With Tansy pointing the way, Andromeda made her way into the parlour, her nose in the air and her head erect as she entered the room with all the artificial confidence she could muster. Inside she found her family, sitting together with a resolute fury.
Her father, dark haired with streaks of grey, should have been a figure of weakness. But to her he seemed like a coiled spring; eternally wound up and ready to snap. Age had made his features sharp, and his mouth was contorted into a fake smile like a razor blade.
Her mama, the living image of Bella, had her appearance but none of the craziness. Druella Black kept all her feelings hidden behind her flashing black eyes, but Andromeda could sense that the gently coiffed hair and soft smile her mother possessed was all a façade, and covered some deep seated fury.
And then there were her sisters: Bella looked like a snarling dog defending it’s territory, only tethered by her parents forceful presence. Conversely, Narcissa was hovering behind their father’s chair, clinging onto the back of the seat with white hands. Her usually lively face seemed sickly and drawn, and this, more than anything scared Andromeda.
The silence seemed so loud. It reverberated around the room, not being broken by anyone. Andromeda could only hear her own shallow breathing. Eventually, her mother raised her eyes to her middle daughter, and fixed her with such a stare that Andromeda was surprised she didn’t just drop dead.
“Andromeda,” her mother said, her voice steady, and with a false, airy tone, “please could you enlighten us. Who is Ted Tonks?” Freezing to the spot, Andromeda was sure she was turning as pale as Narcissa. Bella was almost bearing her teeth, and her father’s face had gone a grey, sickly pallor.
“Ted?” asked Andromeda casually, trying to create a sense of lightness in her own voice, “oh, he was a Mudblood who I was forced to do a History of Magic project with last term. Why?” She tried to keep her voice steady, and to stop herself crying. Surely she could stop the great marble façade she always wore from cracking?
“Why?” thundered Bella suddenly, launching at her sister with a venomous look on her fierce, beautiful face. “Because we know. We know about him, and you, and how you’ve let yourself be touched and held by him, like some common hussy. This whole time you’ve been a filthy blood traitor you scumsucker!”
Andromeda tumbled backwards as Bella drew her wand, a nasty grin crossing her face, “you’ve dishonoured the family you disgusting whore!” However, their father had jumped to his feet and placed one sinewy hand on his eldest child’s shoulder.
“Tell us Andromeda,” he spat, “what made you think that you should lower yourself to consort with Mudbloods? Have we not brought you up right? Why have you let dirt like him use you and abuse you so?” Her whole family stared at her, expecting her to give them a reason for her heinous betrayal.
She wanted to scream at them! She wanted to tell them that their choice, Rabastan, had bullied her, cheated on her and betrayed her in every way possible and was still seen as a gift from God for her. And yet Ted, who had been nothing but kind and wonderful, and made her sublimely happy, was tainted by his dirty blood, and would never be good enough for her in her family’s eyes.
But she bit back her words. There was no point in arguing with them; otherwise her whole painted world would come tumbling down at her feet. Thinking of all the awful things they were going to say about Ted, she lifted her eyes to her parents, and said the most painful words she had ever had to utter in her life.
“It’s over,” she whispered meekly, “I realize what my duty is. I love Rabastan.” The words felt like poison in her mouth, but she continued, thinking of the peace that these simple lies would achieve. “I was having a bad time, he caught me off guard. He was friendly, and I needed a friend…”
These words incensed Bella, and she threw herself at Andromeda, grasping her hair and pulling her madly. “He…is…not…your…friend!” she screeched between each violent tug and kick, “he…is….nothing!” Desperately trying to pull her sister off her, Andromeda found herself wailing in pain.
But the worst was yet to come. Bella flung her sister across the room, and pulled her wand from her belt. “You are a traitor, not just to your family, but to the whole pureblood kind. You filthy scumsucker.” The curse came so quickly, that Narcissa did not manage to snatch Bella’s wand away before it did some damage.
It felt like her very bones were on fire. Screaming in agony, she only just managed to see Narcissa snatch the wand from Bella’s hands, and her parents dash towards their daughter. “What?” screamed Bella, at their parents and sister, “she deserved it!”
Holding his Bella’s hands behind her back, Black Senior screamed at his middle child. “Bella is right. You could have destroyed the family name! Think of Rabastan, he could have relinquished the engagement, and that could have also cost Bella. Why have you always been so selfish?”
“Yes!” chorused their mother, finally having composed herself, “you have been selfish Andromeda, and you must never do anything like this again. Think what would have happened if Aunt Walburga found out! Your indiscretion can be hidden just this once, but you must marry Rabastan without complaint!”
Hiding her tears, she nodded compliantly. “Yes of course. I love Rabastan, and I will not do anything more to trouble our engagement.” Bowing her head, she whispered, “I would like to leave now.” Standing like statues before her, her family did not move for a moment.
“No Andromeda,” said her mother gently, “before you go you must take these letters and burn them. Every single one.” Narcissa had shuffled forward, and not directly looking her in the eye, handled a pile of crumpled letters to her. Flicking her eyes downwards, Andromeda saw the ardent protestations of Ted’s love for her, the secret letters between them.
Finally lifting her eyes to meet Narcissa’s, she saw in the mixture of fear and coldness settled in her sister’s blue ones. Cissy flinched at her gaze, and Andromeda finally understood. It was Cissy who had found the letters, and she had given them to Bella and their parents.
Turning away from her traitor of a sister, she tried to keep the sound of tears from her voice, “Can I not keep the letters?” That simple phrase was a huge mistake, and Bella was only prevented from lunging at her by their father’s strong, restrictive arms.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” spat her mother, “burn them, and purge yourself of the mere memory of him.” Her mother’s furious coldness hurt. Turning away from her family, she wiped the falling tears inconspicuously with one hand as she dashed away from them, determined to hide.
The days swam by, and Andromeda could barely distinguish day from night. She felt like she was dying inside. After the argument with her family, Narcissa had been forced to accompany her sister to the lounge for a public scourging of her soul; the burning of Ted’s letters.
Narcissa said nothing but hovered behind her, looking over her sister’s shoulder to make sure every last letter was destroyed. The tears welling in her eyes, Andromeda picked up a letter; in this one, Ted had said he would willingly come and rescue her, if she would just let him. She had lied, and said she didn’t need rescuing, and pushed him out of her life.
The letter curled in the fire as it hissed and cracked as it consumed Ted’s desperate words. Letter after letter eaten by the licking flames, and Narcissa did not move as she watched Andromeda destroy all the things that Ted had said to her. As she watched those comforting words burn, the anger inside Andromeda broke to the surface for a brief moment.
“How could you Cissy?” she moaned, holding herself rigidly still to prevent any tears from over spilling, “why didn’t you come to me? I could have explained everything, I could have told you that it had ended and we could have avoided all this. I was going to do the right thing; I knew I couldn’t keep Ted like that. But you’ve made everything worse.”
Cissy flared her nostrils as the ancestral Black pride surged through her veins. “I wanted to help you. It was better to end it now before you got into worse trouble. Could you imagine what would have happened if the Lestrange’s found out? They would have told everyone that you were a blood traitor and ended your engagement. And Bella’s. Then everyone would have known you were a fallen woman and my hope of ever getting the Malfoy’s to accept me as a daughter-in-law would have been destroyed!”
Cissy’s self-centred flappings infuriated Andromeda. “Oh that’s right Cissy, think of yourself! Everyone in this family only ever thinks of themselves! What about my happiness! Did you ever think what was best for me or were you too preoccupied with me dragging your name into the mud? Maybe I don’t love Rabastan, maybe I don’t want to be his wife!”
Even in her fury, Andromeda had kept her voice hushed, but Cissy still rushed forward and clapped a hand over her sister’s mouth. “Don’t say that! Don’t you want a peaceful life? Just accept your duty and do it! It’s already been announced in the papers! You are to be Rabastan’s wife! Just accept that!”
Cissy’s panicked expression calmed Andromeda, and when she stopped struggling, her sister dropped her hand. “Don’t you think I have accepted it?” she whispered, “I’ve known since I was five years old that I was to marry him, and I was never going to upset that! Maybe I just wanted to pretend that I could be happy for once.”
“You shouldn’t want happiness with a Mudblood,” spat Narcissa, as she turned on her heel and marched out the room. Suddenly stopping as she reached the door, she turned back with an expression of utmost sadness. “I want you to be happy with Rabastan, as he is good enough for you.”
With that, she turned around, and left the room.
These chapters have been difficult to write, and so hopefully I'll have the next chapter up soon. There's only four to go, so I'm going to try to blitz this story and get it done! Hope you are enjoying this, please read and review! Next time...word of Andromeda's indescretions meet Rabastan's ears as Andromeda enters society...
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