Chapter 2 : A Little Sisterly Love
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One year prior to the Prologue
Druela Rosier is a rather uptight woman. She’s never quite fit in with her husband’s family. Like them, her posture is regal and proud. Unlike them, her hair falls in soft blond ringlets and her eyes are a sharp emerald. Though her figure is ample and noteworthy, it is always strictly covered with stifling black robes. Her feet are another story, though also constantly obscured. As a young girl, Mrs. Rosier was forced for more than a decade to engage in vigorous ballet lessons, leaving her feet calloused, misshapen, and overall un-lady-like, to put it in her terms. Perhaps she’s a tad bitterer than she lets on. She is an elegant, proud woman with very much to say on the topics of manners, etiquette, and pure-blood ideals. Definitely not one to bad-mouth to, unless you’d really like an earful of complaints.
Quite by contrast, her husband is broad and dark-haired. Cygnus is the epitome of the Noble House of Black. His sneer was perfected long ago, far before he officially devoted his life to the support of the new Dark Lord. The man has the typical Black-family grey eyes; the well-groomed black hair. He was betrothed to Druela at the young age of two, married in the midst of his education- at twelve- and became a father the following year. This is, indeed, the norm for descendants of the Blacks. Cygnus is a stoic, physical man of action. He is nearly his wife’s perfect opposite; she lectures people to death and he beats or curses them for emphasis.
Druela and Cygnus birthed three daughters, all of whom are very different. First came Andromeda. ‘Dro was a rebellious child, always back-talking and befriending blood traitors and muggles. Druela and Andromeda had a constantly ongoing rivalry; one that simply refused to be sorted out in a peaceful manner. When she was Sorted into Gryffindor at Hogwarts, she was promptly disowned and her image burnt off the family tree.
“Clipping the bush,” her mother would say in a prim, matter-of-fact way, when Andromeda’s sisters would inquire as to her absence, “We must keep ourselves pure and loyal. Do not associate yourselves with that traitor, or any of her particularly low caliber.” The name ‘Andromeda’ is all but officially banned from being uttered by any within the Noble House of Black.
Next came Narcissa, the quiet child. The girl inherited her mother’s soft blond hair, her father’s grey eyes, and the Rosier attitude. A thoughtful, never-a-toe-out-of-line child, Narcissa could be placed in any House… bar Gryffindor. She’s got the intelligence of a Ravenclaw, the loyalty of the Hufflepuffs, and the wily cunning of the House she’s predicted to receive. She’s just simply too self-preserving to fit into the scarlet and gold House. None of the Houses except Slytherin are acceptable for a girl of her social status and heritage. This is a constant form of worry for the proper girl; she’s off to school the following morning.
At the moment, Narcissa is seated on her youngest sister, Bellatrix’s, bed. Bella is an adventurous child, speaking a mind in a similar way to Andromeda, though she’s got a far better awareness of where to draw the line. She is quite the innocent, with the extreme potential to make an ideal follower of the Dark Lord. At this exact point in time, however, she is quietly crying; tucked safely into her huge duvet as she stares up at her sister.
“Cissy, why’ve you got to go off and leave me?” The ten-year-old chokes, lower lip trembling pathetically.
‘Cissy’ sighs, stroking back some of Bella’s wild, dark curls and attempting a soft smile, “You know why, Bella. I’m eleven, I’m a witch, and I’ve got to go to Hogwarts! It’s simply the best place for magic!”
“Daddy says it’s a pathetic excuse for a school. Why can’t they homeschool you?”
Narcissa rolls grey orbs and tucks her hands into her lap, “Bella,” she starts warningly. The two close sisters have had this conversation on many occasions within the past few weeks as Narcissa prepares for her first year at boarding school.
Now it’s Bella’s turn to sigh. “I know, I know,” she mutters grumpily, little porcelain face rumpling immaturely, “You don’t have to lecture me like Mum always does,” It’s true; Druela Black is quite the stickler for obedience, as she makes very clear with her constant rambles on pure-blood ideals.
“Speaking of Mum…” Narcissa lowers her voice, leaning closer over her little sister- close enough that her light hair tickles the younger girl’s chin, “Promise me you’ll be good while I’m away, alright? Don’t do anything to make them hurt you, and owl me if they do.”
Bellatrix nods seriously, grimacing slightly. Though she’s nowhere near as bad as Andromeda had been (before her disownment nearly eight years previously), she’s got a small rebellious streak going. Druela has yet to inflict full-blown torture on the girl for her rudeness, but it’s only a matter of time before the woman tires of slaps and harsh words. “I’ll be good,” she assures Narcissa, and the latter straightens slightly, lightening her expression for the sake of the conversation.
“Good. You’ll be fine here, promise.” Her tone turns unsure, laced with anxiety and self-consciousness, “Do you think I’ll be alright, though? I mean, it’s Hogwarts. Hogwarts! It’s the real thing. What if I’m Sorted into Ravenclaw? What if no one likes me? What if… oh, I’m so sorry Bellatrix.”
The older girl buries her angular face in her hands, taking several calming breaths. The stress of going away to a place of strange children and an immense workload is finally beginning to show its toll. The ticking of the wall clock is like a muggle bomb; counting down to her doom… and train ride far away. Away from home, from definite safety, from the little sister who loves her so very much. Away from familiarity and into the vast wizarding world.
Bellatrix looks thoughtful, “You’ll be fine there, Cissy, promise,” she murmurs soothingly, slightly altering Narcissa’s previous words. Narcissa looks up and nods deftly, rising from her slumped position on the edge of the mattress.
“You’re… right. I’ll be fine, you’ll be fine, and we’ll all be okay. I’ll be back at Christmastime, remember?” A yawn escapes her mouth before she can conceal it; Narcissa smoothes the soft silk of her nightgown and blows a kiss to her sister. “I’m sleepy, and there’s a big day tomorrow… I’ll be off to bed now.”
A mere moment later, Narcissa Black has left the room, the soft click of the door and a whispered ‘good night, Bella’ the only evidence of her previous presence. She’s left Bellatrix alone in the silent, dark room, pondering her own impending doom and the impact her sister’s absence will have on her already abysmal social life.
Sadly, the Blacks live in a Muggle neighborhood. As interacting with muggles- save for when it’s completely unavoidable- is strictly forbidden, Bella’s never had a friend outside the family. Her cousins, Sirius and Regulus, are around- wait. Sirius is going off to school tomorrow, too! Yet Bellatrix isn’t very sorry for the loss of Sirius; he’s almost certain to be disowned soon and is considered almost as bad an influence as Andromeda would’ve been. Worse, the idea of spending ‘quality’ time with Regulus makes the girl snort quietly in the dark. Although Regulus would be considered a much better companion (by her parents), he’s a year her junior- nine- and a boy! In general, Bella’s got nothing about people of the male variety, but there’s something a bit awkward about her male cousins. They’re just plain weird.
No, she’ll be alone once her sister has boarded that scarlet express to Hogwarts.
“Promise you’ll write, Cissy…” the little girl mumbles into the empty room.
Will she forget me once she’s made new friends? She wonders vaguely.
It’s the last thing on her mind before the numbing comatose state of sleep creeps slowly upon her.
“Just go at it with a bit of a run. Go on, Bellatrix! You’ll make us late to see Narcissa off.” This from Cygnus Black as he ushers his sullen daughter through the barrier after making sure the muggles’ eyes are elsewhere.
Wrinkling her nose in distaste for the surrounding non-magic folk, Bella runs head-first at the bricks between platforms 9 and 10. She had been too young to remember her last visit to King’s Cross station- it’d been to see Andromeda off. Bella had been two and Narcissa was three. Now she is going to go through the emotional torture of watching her favourite person in the world go away from her in a blur of black and scarlet.
Bellatrix emerges onto the platform into complete chaos. Families are sobbing and giving last minute ‘be good or else I’ll send a Howler’ lectures. To-be first years are nodding and pretending to understand. Older students are rolling their eyes at their ‘rents or getting reunited with friends… it’s quite a blur of movement and colour. Side-stepping out of the way with her own parents, the youngest Black walks- as if in a trance- to wear Narcissa is talking animatedly to Walburga Black; Sirius and Regulus’ mother.
“Bella!” cries Regulus excitedly upon seeing his slightly older cousin. Bella nods distractedly, ducking under his arm to pointedly avoid the attempted hug. He’s younger, but already far taller and broader than Bellatrix would ever want to be. When the boy looks slightly put-out, she quickly amends her rude actions with a convincing smile and a quiet ‘hullo!’
Sirius is nowhere to be seen at first, but Bellatrix soon spots him laughing with another boy of his age with messy black hair and glasses. Rolling her eyes at how readily Sirius abandons his family, she turns back to the conversation. Regulus is paying rapt attention already, listening to Walburga, Orion (his father), Cygnus, and Druela’s assurances to Narcissa. He’s anxious to begin his own schooling, though a two-year wait still remains.
Bella herself retains very little of the adults’ description of the lavish, spacious castle. She’s too preoccupied with staring at Narcissa to notice or care. The older girl’s face is alight with excitement and adrenaline; her grey eyes wide as she listens even more obsessively than Regulus. Gone, thinks Bella bitterly, soon she’ll be gone. Yet even as that particular thought arises, another nagging portion of her conscious arises. You’ll be off soon, too, it reasons in what one would think was a logical, helpful fashion. Oh, shut up and let me sulk, the girl snaps back, before stiffening and frowning.
“I’m talking to myself,” she mumbles in embarrassment, and her aunt turns to her distractedly.
“What was that, Bella?”
“Nothing, nothing!” she assures Walburga, feigning a cheerful attitude. The carefully-styled woman shrugs and returns to the conversation, giving the girl no further attention. Only Narcissa saves a concerned look for the girl, though even she does not linger.
All too soon, the loud, piercing whistle is echoing across the platform. Women are weeping and planting sloppy kisses on their children’s cheeks, men are trying to get a hug in- failing, in the boys’ cases- children are hopping onto the train, rushing to find a compartment. Sirius and Narcissa are already gone from view.
“Narcissa!” Bellatrix calls frantically, slipping amongst the students in an attempt to spot her sister. It’s beyond her comprehension that the 11-year-old would’ve boarded without bidding the black-curled girl farewell. But Narcissa Black doesn’t seem to be anywhere! “NARCISSA!”
All of a sudden, a fair-skinned face framed by blond hair peers through an open window. Cissy. “BYE, BELLA!” she shouts, gleeful and likely giddy from excitement. Bellatrix musters a half-hearted smile and waves back at her sister, trying to keep the tears welling up in her grey eyes from spilling. No, no, no. Build walls. No crying. Crying is a weakness. But her heart is breaking as the train begins to pull away, taking with it her darling sister.
Bella stumbles forward, chasing the train as far as she can go as it picks up speed. Several times she nearly trips, shoving many in an attempt to keep her sister’s compartment in sight. The train races down the track, further and further away into the blue horizon that London rarely sees. A single splash of black and red against the jaded backdrop. Gone, gone, gone.
Gone. Gone. She’s gone! Cissy’s gone!
The next few minutes are a blur. Later, Bellatrix will recall her father’s heavy arm across her slim shoulders, clamping her to his side. His musky scent as he Side-Along Apparates her back to the manor. To the huge house where, for the next three months, there will be yet another empty bedroom. The emerald duvet belonging to Narcissa will acquire dust; no one will clean it. The whole household, even the house-elf, Nelly, will avoid the room. It will remain a constant reminder of Narcissa’s status as Hogwarts student, far away in a castle in Scotland. Far away from her sister, Bellatrix, who will soon need her more than ever.
A/N: Just wanted to give Peevesie a huge thank you for being my first ever reviewer! (Sorry! This was ready nearly a week ago; validation issues is all. Thanks for waiting and reading!)
DISCLAIMER: Do you recognize anything? Yeah, that would all belong to the famous J.K. Rowling. Not me; I’m just making her characters do a crazy dance and bend to my plot requirements.
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