Chapter 18 : Persecution
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Feeling so tired, Andromeda awoke to find Tansy dabbing her forehead with a cold flannel. The house elf’s brow was furrowed in concern, but she leapt back when she saw her mistress rousing. Pulling herself up in the bed, Andromeda ran one hand from her forehead through her hair, dampening it slightly.
“What happened Tansy?” she said groggily, looking around her room in dazed confusion. Her head hurt, and she didn’t have the effort to get out of bed. Trying to remember, she seemed to find that most of her memories of the day had gone. Tansy was biting her lip, but she did answer.
“That boy came to see you,” whispered the terrified house elf, “and your parents didn’t like it Miss. Your father stunned you.” She said it as if she was tentatively walking along the line, not wanting to make a statement that was partial to either side. After speaking, Tansy focused back on dabbing Andromeda’s forehead, but she batted her away.
Everything came rushing back. The Letter. The Dinner. That brilliant, brave, stupid and romantic thing that Ted had done for her and the duel on the front lawn. Suddenly anxious, Andromeda remembered how her own father had stunned her, and she tried to pull herself out of bed.
“No Miss Black!” squawked Tansy, “your parents have instructed that you stay in here!” Andromeda ignored Tansy and stood up, but she found Tansy’s statement ominous. Were her parents intent on imprisoning her in her own room? Tansy looked horrified as Andromeda moved over to the door.
“I’m going to see my parents Tansy, and there is nothing you can do to stop me!” Previously, only the mere threat of her parents wanting her to do something would have forced her to conform instantly, but now she at least had to ask them why.
Evening was settling over the house, making shadows flicker misleadingly across walls. Andromeda dashed to her mother’s parlour, where she was sure her parents would be waiting that if they were truly plotting against her. Slowing slightly as she drew near the door, she composed herself, realizing the tough battle that was to come.
Pushing the door with more force than was strictly necessary, to build up some strength inside her that she felt was needed, she was surprised at the occupation of the room. Only her mother resided within, shrouded in shadow, picking out stitches on an intricate embroidery she had been spending Christmas on. The old battleaxe lifted her head, but fixed her daughter with a look of mild interest, instead of the fury Andromeda was suspecting.
“Oh, Andromeda. You are awake.” Her mother gazed at her impassively for a brief moment, before turning back to her embroidery. Trying not to show her fury, Andromeda bit back her shouts of protests, her insults and her tears. She even resolved not to get onto her knees, cling at her mother’s skirts and beg her to let her be with Ted. It would all be wasted breath.
Biting her lip nervously, she cleared her throat, hoping this would make her words ring true. “Mama, I need to talk to you.” Her mother did not look away from her embroidery, but Andromeda took this as permission to continue, so did so. Her heart hammering, she tried to prepare her words in her mind, hoping it would persuade her mother.
“Are you going to make Cissy marry Augustus Rookwood?” It was clearly not the question that her mother had been suspecting, so a little laugh escaped from her, but she concealed it, just as quickly as it had come.
Lifting her head to face her daughter, Mrs Black gave Andromeda a polite smile. “No. That would be cruel. But we would make sure she married a pureblood, yes. I do not understand your father’s opposition to Lucius Malfoy if I am honest with you. Narcissa is sweet on him, and he is of sufficient breeding you see, so their can be no objection to him other than those based on personal animosity. And in my opinion, good pureblood matches are rare enough without personal animosity being involved, so we should be well rid of it.”
Mrs Black continued to give her daughter the same sickly sweet expression. “Why do you ask Andromeda?” Her eyes had narrowed, and it was at moments like this that Andromeda saw the startling resemblance between her mother and Bella. It was at the moment that the scent of a good blood sport appeared in her mother’s nostrils that Andromeda saw her sister in her mother’s eyes.
“Because doesn’t that make sense not forcing Narcissa to marry someone she dislikes. And yet, with me, there has never been any other option than to be Rabastan’s wife. Is that not unfair?” Andromeda tried not to let her overwhelming fear choke her words, and she made sure she kept eye contact with her formidable mother.
Her mother retained her twisted, sweet smile on her face, while lifting a hand to beckon her daughter to her. “Andromeda,” she cooed, “come and sit beside your mother. We need to talk.” The false airs and graces her mother was adopting chilled Andromeda, but she did not waver, and took a seat on the hard stool beside her that her mother gestured towards.
Her mother lifted her needle and embroidery towards Andromeda, a false lightness in her tone. “Andromeda, can you tell me what I am embroidering?” Andromeda looked down at the familiar Black Crest, with its white skull, black birds and silver gauntlet carrying a sword. For what seemed like the thousandth time in her life, she read the words “Toujours Pur”.
“It’s the Black Family Crest.”
“Precisely,” smiled her mother, “and the Black Family Crest reminds her that you are a Black, with ancient, pure wizarding blood flowing through your veins. ‘Always Pure’, that’s what we are Andromeda, and what we always will be. You would do well to remember that.”
Ted’s name remained unsaid, lingering in the air. Taking a gulp of air to steady herself, Andromeda spoke. “I don’t want to marry Rabastan. I don’t love him.” It was clear at this simple statement that her mother’s mood changed. In a flash she grabbed her daughters hand, and dug the needle sharply into the tip of one of her fingers.
Andromeda yelped in shock and pain as she watched her blood well from the tiny wound. “Look at your blood Andromeda!” shrieked her mother, “that comes from centuries of breeding. Your ancestors fought against the persecution of Muggles who vowed to destroy our art, labeled us as demons, heretics and devil-worshippers! Our ancestors fought for freedom, to keep ourselves pure against the destruction those ignorant Muggles wrought. And yet you are prepared to betray them, your glorious ancestors, for a roll in the hay with a filthy Mudblood!”
Her mother was on her feet bearing down on her daughter, but Andromeda resisted. “I love him!” she cried, dropping to her knees, “I love him more than words can say. Do you even understand that? I can’t marry Rabastan, I just can’t! After Ted, nothing will ever compare.” The thought of what her life had descended to terrified her, but she kept looking imploringly at her mother.
The mention of love incensed her mother more. “Don’t you talk to me about love!” she roared, spittle erupting from her mouth, “you don’t have the first idea about it! You; you pretty, silly little girl will never understand what it is like to love someone and them to never notice your existence, never notice your despair. You do not know what it is like to marry someone when you’ve never had a taste of what you have truly wanted!”
Spinning around, her mother marched over to the window and peered through the curtains, looking out into the darkening street. “I loved Tom so much. I would have followed him to the moon and back if he had asked. And yet he denied me.” Andromeda stared at her mother, amazed what secrets were tumbling out.
“He had dark hair, with his fringe sweeping across his face. And his skin was so pale, like milk. It looked so very soft. He had eyes, big, dark eyes that were always so clever, always thinking. He was intelligent; the brightest Hogwarts had ever seen, and athletic. I fooled myself that he loved me, but Tom never loved anyone.”
Andromeda saw that her mother had pressed one hand against the cold windowpane, as if she was reaching for her lost love. “But I came to my senses. He was destined for a stellar career in the Ministry, but I knew what he was. For all his pretenses, and his charms, he was a half blood. He was never worthy of me, so I forced myself to forget him, and learnt to love your father, who has a pure ancestry.”
These words seemed to crash down around her. Her mother was forcing her to marry Rabastan because she was seeing in her daughter things she had been denied herself. “What happened to Tom?” asked Andromeda carefully, wondering whether her mother occasionally saw this man she professed to love.
Mrs Black continued to look out at the moon, washed away by her memories. “He disappeared. Nobody knew what happened to him. He had been so promising. With the rise of the Dark Lord, he vanished into the night. Maybe the Dark Lord got to him; he was a very clever half blood.”
Then she dropped her hand from the window, suddenly realizing what she was saying. “So you see, passing fancies count for nothing Andromeda. In the end, your place in history, continuing the noble work of your ancestors is all that counts. You will born to bear pureblood children for the good of Wizarding kind, and you will die knowing you have fulfilled that noble duty.”
Looking sadly at her mother, she knew nothing she could ever say would convince her of the good qualities of Ted Tonks. Her only hope was to argue for the break up of her engagement to Rabastan. Even if Rabastan revealed her secret to the world, she was sure she would rather spend life as an old maid.
“But maybe there is another pureblood out there for me,” she said quietly, “anyone but Rabastan. I will take Augustus Rookwood, and the Black’s can get their hands on his family’s fortune. I will do whatever you ask, just please not Rabastan.”
She hoped, if she offered to do this she could find a more congenial husband, one who may even permit her to see Ted occasionally. However, her mother shook her head. “You have the jewel of pureblood matches, Andromeda. Rabastan is good looking, he has a fortune and you will be able to stay close to your sister.”
Andromeda was not sure living the rest of her life close to Bella was a perk, but she kept her mouth shut. “But I don’t love him, and he’s cruel to me…” Her voice trailed off under the intimidating stare of her mother. It then broke into an amused smile, as she sat back down and picked her embroidery back up.
“Cruelty in men is easily solvable. Once you make him desire you, all problems will disappear.” Andromeda highly doubted that Rabastan would ever desire her; he had made it pretty clear that he found her contemptible. Her mother kept the same smile on her face before saying, “the joining of the Houses of Black and Lestrange will go ahead as planned.”
Andromeda got up to leave, but her mother snapped at her. “And in light of recent events your father and I have arranged a betrothal dinner for you and Rabastan at the Ministry. When you see how much is invested in your marriage, and how many people want you to be happy together, you will be reminded of your duty.”
Andromeda knew she had lost the argument. Nodding her head to her mother, she turned round and left the room; knowing full well she had failed herself, and worse of all, Ted. Images of him flooded her mind, and despaired, knowing he was willing to do anything for her.
She was a coward.
Thanks so much for reading this! Quite short I know, but I hope you still enjoyed it! I've had this chapter roughly drawn in my head but it's been moving around the story until I realised I don't have long left so I better put it in here! I hoped you loved it and please read and review!
PS. luciusobsessed, in the next chapter you will finally see Lucius' take on his relationship with Narcissa!
Next time...It is Andromeda and Rabastan's engagement party and Andy realises something...
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