Chapter 2 : Torn
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Narcissa Black was sitting on top of her bed, playing with the lace of her sleeping gown. It was nearing close to midnight, and she still could not sleep. Her eyelids felt heavy, and it had been a long day, but her mind was densely clouded by a tall, blond, male figure that was only four years older than her. His voice was as slick and smooth...captivating even. His grey eyes were piercing. Stormy. Sharp. He held himself highly; a determined air hung around his presence that seemed to affect the atmosphere and people around him. Lucius Malfoy was a smooth talker and always had his way.
Narcissa knew the instant he walked through their front door, she was cursed with the highest misfortune. She had heard much about him at school, spotted him a few times in the Common Room, and watched him play Quidditch. She saw him lingering around the halls even, but he had graduated for a few years now and she was young back then. He left before she could even appreciate his beauty. And now there he was, walking through the front door, a small smirk on his lips.
She recalled how he marched determinedly to Bellatrix, kneeling down in a gentleman manner and pressing his lips on her sister’s fair hand, as she, Narcissa, watched from the top landing from above. She felt jealousy pulse through her veins, though she did not understand why. What irritated her more was how her elder sister scowled at Lucius, almost menacingly, as the young man stood and straightened his posture, a dazzling smile at his lips. Bellatrix was lucky! Men were so willing to kneel at her, to be in the presence of her ominous beauty. And the way that Bellatrix had shunned him was downright rude! Malfoy was the first man that stepped under their roof and actually greeted the eldest Black daughter with respect.
Sitting there, playing with a loose thread, Narcissa recalled the events of dinner with the dashing Malfoy. They were sitting around the dining table, her and her second eldest sister Andromenda, listening to their parents interrogate their eldest daughter’s suitor, while Bellatrix remained silent by his side, rolling a piece of her broccoli around her plate.
According to their parents, it was nearing the time Bellatrix had to marry someone, to ensure the Pure-blood lineage survived. The thought of marriage sickened Bellatrix, but loyalty to her family—to her blood—to the ancient tradition—was more important to her than anything, and so she complied to her parent’s request of setting up numerous suitor dinners to anyone who was willing (and viewed as adequate) to be wedded. But in terms of Malfoy, Narcissa hoped to Salazar’s snake that Bellatrix wouldn’t chose him, for reasons she didn’t want to accept.
It was selfish really, wanting Lucius for herself, when in reality she was just a mere 15 year old. She wasn’t beautiful in comparison to her older sisters, and she shivered at the thought of pre-arranged marriages and random suitors knocking at her door. She hoped hers would look just as handsome as Malfoy with his manners as well. Groaning, she threw herself onto her bed, taking form of a spread eagle, desperately wishing she could go talk to someone. To clear her mind.
Talking with her father was an immediate no-go. He would scold her, saying how she was much too young to even consider suitors, and would disprove of the age difference between her and Lucius. Talking with her mother would just be awkward, and Bellatrix might just hex her skinny little arse into oblivion. That left Andromenda, her favorite sister, amongst the few she trusted enough with her secrets. But was she willing to wake up, just to hear her sister complain?
Taking a risk, Narcissa stood up from her king sized bed and crept out her bedroom and into the hallway where she could see the dim candlelight coming from Andromenda’s room, meaning that she too was still awake. Grinning, she crept towards her sister’s door and knocked gently, before entering her sister’s room. Closing the door behind her, she frowned as she saw clothes scattered on her sister’s bed, her school bag wide open with her books and assignments piled neatly on the floor.
“Andi?” Narcissa called out softly. A beautiful 16 year old poked her head out from the bathroom, half of her hair was in tight curls from that night’s dinner party, the other half was in settled waves, flowing gently down to her shoulders. She was still wearing the dress from that night’s dinner, only she was wearing her large travelling cloak over it.
“You gave me a scare there for a second, Cissa. I thought you were mother.” Andromenda whispered, relief caressing her briefly worried face.
“You’re leaving?” it was more of a statement than a question, and Narcissa let the words slip a little too loudly from her mouth. Andromenda’s eyes widened as she flew from the bathroom, taking her sister by the hand and pushing her down on a small cushioned couch in the corner of her room, beside her open wardrobe.
“I won’t be able to if you can’t keep quiet, Cissa!” Andromenda hissed, glaring down at her younger sister before her, who looked down in shame. Face softening, she sat beside the blonde and wrapped her arm around her shoulders. Andromenda knew Narcissa had something in mind that was troubling her to the point she couldn’t go to sleep. It was one of those things she had instantly picked up when Narcissa was a toddler and Bellatrix had gotten too frustrated to even bother with the youngest sister.
“What was it you wanted to tell me about?” Andromenda coaxed gently. Narcissa looked up disbelievingly at her sister.
“It’s ridiculous, Andi. I should leave you to get ready.” Narcissa mumbled looking away. Andromenda raised an eyebrow, not sure whether she wanted to let her sister go. Then again, the sooner Cissa left, the sooner she could leave and come back…
Family comes first… Andromenda scolded herself, so biting her lip, she unwrapped her arm around her sister’s shoulders and grabbed hold of Narcissa’s small hands instead.
“Go on, tell me.” Andromenda urged. Narcissa shook her head stubbornly, still not looking back up to the eldest of two. Sighing, Andromenda decided to take a shot in the dark.
“Lucius. It’s about Lucius isn’t it?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Narcissa squeaked in fright, returning her gaze at her sister, blue eyes wide in fear. “Why would I be thinking about that—that—that Malfoy boy?” Andromenda casted her sister a knowing smirk as she leaned back against the couch’s arm rest, folding her arms across her chest. Narcissa’s worried looked turned to one of horror.
“Am I that obvious?” She asked quietly. Andromenda merely shrugged and Narcissa whimpered. “I must be mad.” Narcissa whined. “He’s Bella’s suitor. He’s four years older than me! We’ve never spoken before tonight, and even then, our only exchange of words was if he asked me if Bellatrix was always temperamental!” Andromenda snorted and Narcissa shot her a glare.
“I’m serious Andi!” Narcissa complained. “Don’t laugh.”
“Don’t be so worried, Cissa.” Andromenda said calmly. “I highly doubt Bellatrix would accept his proposal. She doesn’t like him very much from what I could tell all evening.” Narcissa felt her heart lift at her sister’s words.
“But I’m nothing compared to Bellatrix,” Narcissa said, feeling her moment of happiness slip away. “Bella’s beautiful, and I’m—I’m…” Narcissa began to flail her wrists in search of the words to describe herself. Andromenda rolled her eyes and seized both her sister’s wrist, causing Narcissa to look directly into Andromenda’s eyes.
“Gorgeous.” Andromenda finished for her, growling in a firm tone. “You’re gorgeous Narcissa. Though you look nothing like Bella and I, you’re beautiful in your own way. While Bellatrix possess a dark, more mysterious beauty, you’re like a fair maiden. Delicate. There are plenty of men out there who find delicate looking women beautiful. Men want something that they’d like to protect, not hide from.”
Narcissa giggled at Andromenda’s jab at their older sister.
“She is a bit frightening, isn’t she?” Narcissa whispered, feeling the heavy weights lift off her shoulders. Andromenda smiled, letting go of her baby sister’s wrist.
“Yes, very terrifying at times. She and Lucius wouldn’t get along. I think Lucius would like a mellower woman. Someone dainty. Elegant. Bella is…rough.” Both sisters stared at each other before sharing another healthy dose of quiet laughter. Narcissa then leaned onto her older sister’s side, resting her head on Andromenda’s shoulders.
“You’ve always been my favorite sister, you know.” Narcissa mumbled, and Andromenda snorted.
“Why? Bella isn’t that horrifying!” Narcissa then sat straight up, eying her sister warily while shaking her head.
“It isn’t that, I was joking about that!” Narcissa protested, but as Andromenda raised a knowing eyebrow, Narcissa raised her hands in surrender.
“Okay, Bella can be scary at times, but it isn’t that. She’s just—she isn’t one to talk to about this sort of stuff. She isn’t like you. She’d tell me to shut up, or how ridiculous I sounded. She’d tell me to get my pretty little head out from above the clouds. She’d tell me to stop believing in fairy tales and love doesn’t exist. Bella would laugh, and if I told her about Malfoy, she’d hex me and tell me that Lucius is just a pretty boy who thinks his britches are too fancy to dirty. That he’s a snob, and nothing more than a filthy roach!” Narcissa spat her last word, only to find Andromenda staring at her with a rather amused smile.
“Aye, but that’s the Bellatrix we know and love, yeah? That’s what makes her so terrifying, yet so brilliant.” Andromenda playfully poked her sister’s side, and Narcissa allowed herself to weakly smile.
“Yes, I suppose.” Both girls sat there, until Narcissa decided to break the silence.
“So where are you going?” She asked, eyeing her older sister with interest. Andromenda’s cheeks flushed with color and looked away.
“Out.” Was all she could muster saying. Narcissa’s lips broke into a sly grin at her sister’s one answer comment.
“Oh, it’s a boy, isn’t it?” She whispered. “What’s his name?”
“I can’t tell you.” Andromenda replied, with strain in her voice. Narcissa frowned in disappointment, not satisfied with the lack of information.
“Sure you can. I promise my lips are sealed, Andi. Now, is it that Zabini bloke? I heard he’s of Italian decent—”Narcissa was cut off as she watched her sister stand up, turning to face her with a look of distress.
“I’m sorry Cissa, but I can’t tell you. Not now, and I don’t know if I can handle telling you myself.” Andromenda whispered. Narcissa could see a flash of emotions dance in her sister’s eyes and flash across her sister’s face. Love. Uncertainty. Doubt. Pain.
“You don’t trust me do you?” Narcissa whispered softly. Andromenda’s eyes widened in horror.
“No, it isn’t that, Cissa! It isn’t that at all! I trust you, I swear, I do, it’s just—”now it was Andromenda’s turn to flail her wrist, not knowing what to say. In aggravation she just ran her fingers through her hair, mumbling incoherent words to herself. Pitying her sister, Narcissa charmed the tight curls that remained so that they slackened into loose waves, and then wrapped her arms around Andromenda.
“It’s okay.” Narcissa whispered softly. “You don’t need to say a thing. But promise you’ll tell me eventually. Please, don’t leave me in the dark.” She knew she sounded like a lost child, but she didn’t like the sister she trusted most to keep secrets from her. Andromenda wiped her eyes and nodded earnestly.
“I’ll tell you one day,” Andromenda vowed, “but for now, promise me that no one will know about my sneaking out?” She whispered pleadingly. Narcissa nodded, and watched as her sister went to her bedroom window, popping the locks and pushing out the screen.
“I’ll be back in the morning.” Andromenda whispered, turning to face her sister. Nodding, Narcissa watched her sister awkwardly clamber out the window, hitching the skirts of her dress. She chuckled at her sister’s muttered swears and the sounds of her awkward footing on the tree branches. And then, she heard a soft pop from outside, leaving Narcissa alone in her sister’s bedroom.
“I—I have an announcement to make.” Andromenda croaked from her seat as the Black family was seated around the dining table. Narcissa looked over eagerly to the sister she sat beside, and noted how pale she looked. Feeling Andromenda’s nervousness, she reached over and grabbed her sister’s hand, squeezing it gently, a subtle message of comfort that returned color to her paling cheeks.
“Well, go on. We haven’t gotten all night, ‘Dromenda.” Their mother prodded, nodding to the direction of the middle daughter. Andromenda looked into her mother’s eyes, before looking away.
“I just wanted to say a few words to all of you.” Andromeda said in a soft voice. Turning to Bellatrix, she began her speech, the speech she had worked so hard when secretly meeting with her boyfriend Ted in the Shrieking Shack.
“Bella,” Andromenda took a sharp intake of breath. “You taught me how to be strong. I’ve never met someone so devout and loyal to her ancestry. The tradition. Her blood, and I envy you for that.” Andromenda paused, closing her eyes, while Bellatrix frowned. “You are the epitome of a true Slytherin. Something I couldn’t ever achieve, even if I tried. You were brilliant, one of the most successful students in our House, and—and I hope you know, that wherever you are going to and whatever plans you wish to do now that you’ve graduated, that I wish you luck and that I know you’ll do great with whatever you have in mind. You have that passion when you are devoted to something. You aren’t one to let go. I don’t see you enough nowadays, but, I admired being your younger sister.” Andromenda swallowed.
“And mum, dad, you were both wonderful parents. I’m so thankful for everything you’ve provided for me, and it aches me that after this, I might not see you for a while.” She watched her parents’ eyebrows rise in surprise at this, frowning at what she was saying, trying to decipher the code that she was gradually breaking for them.
“And Narcissa,” Andromenda began, turning to face her baby sister, the sister she favored the most, technically her best friend. “Remember what I’ve told you a few months back one night, how you doubted yourself so much? Please don’t. He loves you Narcissa. I know you write letters to him. If you love him, don’t let him go.” Narcissa smiled appreciatively at her sister, but didn’t know exactly what to make of it, it was as if Andromenda was saying goodbye…
“That was a wonderful speech, dear.” Mrs. Black said, smiling forcibly to her daughter, “But from what we’re hearing from you, you sound like you’re leaving.” Andromenda bowed her head as Bellatrix gasped, dropping her spoon into her china bowl, soup splashing out of its sides.
“I am.” Andromenda whispered, barely loud enough for Narcissa to hear.
“Come again.” Mrs. Black said sharply, narrowing her eyes at her daughter.
“I am!” Andromenda blurted out loudly, and looked up, only to shock her family by the tears that strolled down her eyes.
“What do you mean, you’re leaving?” Her father growled dangerously. Andromenda braced herself for the next blow. Their shock wasn’t going to be the painful reaction she spent months preparing for. It was what would come next.
“I’m getting married.” Andromenda whimpered. At this, Narcissa choked on the biscuit she had bitten into, while Bellatrix sat there, eying her sister suspiciously.
“Rabastan Lestrange already proposed then, and you accepted it without our consent?” Mrs. Black asked, squinting at her daughter. Andromenda shook her head, scared at what she was leading herself into.
“No, it’s not Rabastan.” Andromenda whimpered again. Maybe she should just ditch the plan.
“Well, then. Don’t just sit there blubbering, silly girl. Tell us who you’re marrying!” Mrs. Black barked from her seat. Narcissa glared at her mother, but it was a glare that went unnoticed. Trembling, Andromenda let the tears fall as she hid her face in her hands. Instinctively, Narcissa wrapped her arms around her favorite sister, comfortingly and protectively.
“You can tell us. I support you no matter what.” Narcissa whispered into Andromenda’s ear. Andromenda nodded as she looked up, drying her eyes and shaking. Looking over to a frowning Bellatrix, Andromenda deeply took in a sharp intake of breath.
“I’m marrying Ted Tonks.”
There was a complete silence before Bellatrix stood up from her chair, scrutinizing her sister, while Narcissa sat there, eyebrows high in surprise. The girls’ parents however, wore vacant expressions but the cluelessness that lurked in their irises was not missed.
“You’re marrying that blonde boy you spent detention with in 6th year?” Bellatrix asked slowly, but it was more of a statement than a question. Andromenda nodded, gulping.
“He’s the one in Hufflepuff, if I am correct?” Again, Andromenda confirmed it with a nod. At this, Mrs. Black stiffened and Mr. Black squinted at his daughter.
“He’s the Mudblood then?” Bellatrix whispered, almost tauntingly. At this, color rose in Andromenda’s cheeks. How dare she?
“DON’T CALL HIM THAT!” Andromenda shouted. Bellatrix did not laugh in mockery. Instead, she stepped back with a look of disgust.
“You filthy little blood traitor.” Bellatrix hissed. “I thought this was a joke, but it’s true. How disgusting, the purest of blood mingling and breeding with that—that—that—thing!”
“He’s a human just like anyone else!” Andromenda snapped back, but there were tears in her eyes. Bellatrix wrinkled her nose.
“How low are you Andromenda? You know what? Go marry the Mudblood! You don’t deserve the pureblood name!”
“OH YOU AND YOUR PUREBLOOD OBSESSION! I’M YOUR SISTER; THE LEAST YOU CAN DO IS TO UNDERSTAND!” Andromenda shouted across the table. Bellatrix looked sickened before she shot her sister a menacing glare.
“You are no sister of mine.” At this Andromenda let out a sob before turning to her mother and father who looked away in opposite directions.
“Mom, Dad?” Andromenda squeaked, feeling so helpless. Bellatrix coldly laughed.
“Mummy and daddy doesn’t support your choice of marriage Andi. Oh, you’re just as bad as Sirius!” Andromenda’s eyes widened as she turned desperately to Narcissa.
“Cissa?” Andromenda asked, sounding like a small child lost in Diagon Alley. Narcissa only bit her lower lip, not knowing what to say. “Cissa, please, say something” Andromenda whispered, and Bellatrix crowed with laughter
“Don’t listen to her Cissa. Don’t talk with the blood traitor!”
“She can make up her own mind!” Andromenda finally barked. Loosing Bellatrix hurt, but loosing Narcissa would hurt just as much, and she wasn’t ready to lose her favorite sister.
“Andromenda, just leave.” The only male of the house finally ordered in a constricting tone. Andromenda turned to the man who used to read her bed time stories, blinking in confusion. She found her mother staring back, loathe in her eyes.
“You heard him! Get out!” Mrs. Black finally screeched. Andromenda felt the tears fall as she turned to face a speechless Narcissa, staring at her soup. Wordlessly, Andromenda stormed upstairs and never came back down.
Narcissa looked at the piece of parchment that was in her trembling hands. It was heavily spotted with her tears—the ink was running, bleeding, and smearing through the paper.
I’m sorry that I’ve kept the secret from you, that Ted and I were getting married and that we were together in the first place. The thought of you leaving my side and telling mum and dad frightened me. I didn’t want to lose you—but perhaps I already have….
I was quite surprised—and glad—that mum and dad didn’t react the same way as Auntie Walburga did when Sirius declared his severing of ties, but then again, mum and dad handle news quite differently in comparison to our dearest Aunt and Uncle. I was expecting more anger from Bellatrix as well. I’ve never seen her so tame when angry, now thinking upon it. But I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t hurt. I already miss you so much. There’s only so much I can say to Ted, as much as I love him. I can't tell him things I used to tell you--the delicious gossip and secrets only a sister like you would understand.
I’m pretty sure you’ve seen the necklace by now. It’s my departing gift to you. I know we may never keep in contact again, but I have a matching one, something I’ve sworn I would never take off. You’ve always been my baby sister, and hopefully, when this whole mess straightens out, when this war ends, we can throw everything behind us and be a proper family. Visit each other during the holidays. Watch over each other’s kids.
Until then, with much love,
Narcissa brushed a tear away, placing the parchment down and pulling out a silver chained necklace with a thick oval locket. Inside the locket was a small picture of two children—girls—one with dark hair, the other with blonde. Both were making silly faces and laughing at the camera, playfully shoving each other out of the picture, and reappearing again a few seconds later.
Placing it around her neck, she tucked it behind her blouse and slipped the note under her pillow. Now she had no one to go to if she wanted to talk to someone. No one to laugh with or write stupid songs with when she was bored. She lost the person whose company she valued most. And inside, she felt slightly betrayed.
She couldn’t wait until this war was over. Little did she know it would take three decades until she would ever see her sister again, at the Hogwarts grounds, during a memorial for those that have died in expense to a war she would’ve never thought ripped so many families apart—including hers.