Summary: Andromeda Tonks has lost two families, and she's still not sure when she lost the first one.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Andromeda/Ted, Narcissa/Lucius, Bellatrix/Rodolphus, Teddy Lupin
Original story: Cicatrix by hereticalvision
Notes: Thanks to L for the beta work and for going through it with me in the initial stages and making suggestions.
Once upon a time, Andromeda began, because Ted once taught her that in the Muggle world all stories to do with magic started that way. Once upon a time – as though they were too flighty and airy to be pinned down to one place. This wasn’t one of those stories, but how she wished it could be. So, as her grandson stared at her from the floor, with brilliant green hair that reminded her so much of his mother, that was how she started it. Once upon a time there were three sisters, all witches, and all as different outside as they were inside…
When Narcissa Black first saw Lucius Malfoy, she thought ‘this is the man I’m going to marry’, and she did.
When Andromeda Black first kissed Ted Tonks, she thought ‘I hope my family never finds out’, and they did.
When Bellatrix Black first spoke to Rodolphus Lestrange, she thought ‘together we could bring the world to its knees’, and they did.
The youngest was as fair and as pale as a clear winter morning, but she was also just as cold.
“You’re going to marry me,” Narcissa tells Lucius in the library one day. They’re alone, it’s quiet and she needs to tell him. She needs to let him know that he is hers.
Lucius just raises an eyebrow and smirks as he walks past her. Narcissa is a year younger than he is, and pretty in the sort of way that dolls are pretty – pale gold hair and a face that looks like it’s made out of porcelain. He doesn’t believe her, and that is his mistake.
She’s not made out of porcelain, she doesn’t break easily. She’s a Black, and she’s made of pure steel.
The second had hair the colour of dark wood, and she never knew what she wanted to do with her life.
“You should smile more,” the boy next to her says with a quirk of his lips.
It’s her first day at Hogwarts, but Andromeda’s not interested in making new friends. She looks up with disdain. He’s a Hufflepuff, with light blond hair and a kind face.
Andromeda ignores him. Kindness doesn’t get you anywhere in her world.
But he keeps talking regardless.
The eldest had hair as dark as night and a temper to match, though she blazed like fire. She was beautiful, but if you reached out to touch her she would burn you to the bone.
“You should come,” Rodolphus tells her. His smirk is almost a leer as he looks at her across the table. “It’ll be fun.”
“For you or for me?” Bellatrix asks, managing to smother the smile that’s edging its way onto her face.
“For both of us, hopefully,” he presses the piece of paper into her hand and walks away before she can say anything else.
All three had power, great power. The youngest of the three governed it with rigid control, making the magic bend to her will, changing everything around her to get to her goal. She was truly the daughter of her family. The eldest revelled in the power, and eventually she was controlled by it and it consumed her. The other sister… didn’t know what to do with her power, and sometimes, looking at her sisters, it scared her.
“Bella!” Andromeda called from the ground, “Bella come back.” Her sister was standing on their father’s chair, rifling through his top drawer in her search for –
“Got it!” the oldest Black sister called out in triumph, pulling her father’s wand out and holding it aloft.
“Put it back, Bella,” Andromeda said. She knew that this was going to cause problems, Bella never knew when to stop.
“Stop being such a spoil sport, Andy,” Bella told her with a sniff. “I just want to have a go, that’s all.”
The door of the study swung open, and their father strode through.
“Bellatrix! Put that back immediately!”
Tiny Narcissa stood by his side, a sweet in her hand and a smug smile on her face.
Bella didn’t put it down.
“Bellatrix… this instant…” their father continued, but Bella wasn’t looking at him. Her eyes were staring at Narcissa, little Narcissa with her white-blond plaits, who followed her older sisters around like a shadow, but always knew which side to choose.
She didn’t even say anything as she swished the wand down to point at her baby sister, childish temper and rage doing all the spell-work for her. The light that streamed from the wand tip was a sickly green.
Andromeda couldn’t reach either of them in time, too far down to grab Bella and too far away to knock Cissa clear.
The youngest fell to the ground choking, as their father strode across and tugged his wand from Bella’s triumphant grip before righting Narcissa with a few muttered words.
Bella was confined to her room for a week after that, but all she said as their father dragged her up the stairs was that Cissy deserved it.
In time each of the sisters fell in love. Nymphadora had always clapped her hands at this point and cried out ‘Daddy, daddy!’ Teddy just sat there expectantly, his eyes as big as saucers, switching from green to brown to blue to pink and back again.
Andromeda wished that life could be as simple as a children’s story, that anything could be as simple as those words implied. Fell in love, it was appropriate, so easy to do by accident, but no one ever mentioned what happened when you hit the bottom.
“What’s your name, anyway?” he asks, dropping down into the grass next to her. He’s in the way of the sun and interrupting her reading for potions. Andromeda’s not sure he could be more annoying if he tried. “I mean, you can’t just be ‘Miss Black’, so what is it?”
“Haven’t you got someone else to annoy?” she asks, without looking up. The idiot Hufflepuff’s been following her around for a week, to the amusement of her friends and sisters.
“No,” he says, and she can tell he’s smiling that insanely cheerful grin again. “Tell me your name and I’ll go away.”
“Andromeda,” she says, sighing after a second. She shouldn’t give in, Bella or Cissa wouldn’t have given in. Bella would have hexed him until he left and Cissa would have maintained a stony silence, but she isn’t her sisters.
“Dromeda?” he asks, laughter clear in his voice, “like the camel?”
“Andromeda,” she snaps, finally looking up at him, and she can tell he was teasing her. “The camel’s a dromedary.” She’s aiming for Narcissa’s tone of cruel sarcasm, but she can’t quite achieve it. His smile, somehow, grows.
“Okay then, Andromeda,” he says, pulling himself to his feet, “I’ll be going then.”
He walks away without looking back and she feels cheated somehow. She had been the one to tell him to leave, but no one should just dismiss her like that.
“You could at least return the favour,” she finds herself saying, and when he looks back, he’s laughing again, and she feels her pride prick.
“I’m Ted,” he says, softly, no sign of the laughter in his voice, “Ted Tonks.”
He turns and walks away before she can come up with a reasonable answer, and leaves her more off kilter than she’s ever felt before. The feeling is as exhilarating as it is exasperating.
Cissa has a plan, Cissa always has a plan. She plans her homework and her free time. She plans out every conversation she has so that she never says anything she doesn’t mean to. She has her OWLs and her NEWTs planned out before she turns twelve, and she knows how her life is going to end up.
She will marry Lucius Malfoy and live in Malfoy manor and they will have a son and a daughter. Lucius will be the Minister for Magic – or as good as, and she will be behind him every step of the way. Bella will have to look up to her, and Andromeda will come around for tea every Thursday.
Cissa has a plan.
It starts taking shape when she grows into her eyes and they no longer look too big for her face. She is soon one of the prettiest girls in Hogwarts and all the boys are after her (apart from the ones who watch her sisters). But she only has eyes for one man, and she bends him around herself slowly but surely.
It takes Lucius two years to crumble, but if he had broken any earlier than that she would have been disappointed. She doesn’t need a weak man.
When Bella finds out, the look on her face is worth every second of the time. She should know by now, when Narcissa plans something, it always comes out how she wants it.
The magic is overwhelming, she’s never felt this alive before and Bella knows she’ll never be able to stop wanting this. It’s like fire burning through her, like sparks running over her skin. It’s the most intense pleasure she’s ever experienced and she wants more, craves more, never wants it to stop. Rodolphus is standing over her, his wand at the ready, smiling down at her like he’s in control, and he is.
The air smells of blood and fear, and that just makes it better. She remembers what happened when they came here, the animals around them, barely better than vermin. Muggles.
“For you,” Rodolphus had told her, “enjoy.” And she had.
She had never known screaming could be so musical, but he had shown her what to do, how to play them like instruments. Every noise and spasm had run through her like she could feel it herself.
Then, when they were gone and it was just the two of them again, Rodolphus had turned his wand on her and she had felt the power of it.
Her hands are scrabbling at the floor, and she can still hear the echoes of screams in her ears as the magic sparks through her so brightly that Rodolphus’ face blanks out into pure white light and she is laughing.
The magic lingers about her for hours afterwards, coursing through her veins, and she knows that this is what it means to be a witch – this power, this sensation. It is her birthright to feel that.
Her parents regard her with unimpressed looks when she walks through the door and Andy is standing in her bedroom doorway, watching her with concerned eyes.
Bella wants to laugh; they don’t see it, none of them does. All there is in the world is power, and it can do anything. She will worship at its feet because power is all she needs.
Cissa looks at her the next morning and when their eyes meet she thinks that maybe she and her baby sister have more in common than she thought.
But the middle sister fell in love with someone her family didn’t approve of, Andromeda’s voice almost breaks into a laugh at that. Again she is just brushing over the truth for innocent young ears. She didn’t mean to, never even thought it was possible, but it happened all the same.
Andromeda’s half way up a tree when she realises that her heart is beating faster than it’s ever beaten before, her face is flushed and she’s smiling.
Ted is three branches above her, reaching down to help her up.
“You’ve never climbed a tree before?” he had asked incredulously five minutes earlier, having ‘accidentally’ bumped into her. “Well, we’ll have to rectify that then, won’t we?”
So now she’s half way up a tree, just high enough that she can’t be seen from the ground. The pair of them are surrounded by leaves and cut off from the world. It is private and secluded and just for her and she can’t help herself. When she finally reaches the same level as Ted and they’re sitting next to each other on the branch, kicking their legs through thin air, she leans over and she kisses him.
It feels private and right and all hers; at the same time it feels forbidden and wrong. Ted’s smiling against her mouth and she wonders if he knows that she’s just using him for this thrill. She wonders if she knows.
The eldest sister fell in love with someone just like her, someone who had the same fire and the same darkness. But she never loved him as much as she loved the power.
When Rodolphus kisses her, it doesn’t even matter that it’s him, all that matters is that Bellatrix is still buzzing from the magic and she can taste the blood on his lips when she bites at them, tearing the skin. She scratches at his back.
This is what it means, what it all means. Sex, violence and magic all rolled into one.
She laughs as he releases her mouth, his blood still bitter iron on her tongue, mixing with her own. Something inside her never stops laughing.
The youngest sister got everything she ever wanted.
Lucius proposes on the seventh of June, it’s a bright summer’s day, though there’s a chilly wind blowing in from the North. It’s exactly as Narcissa always thought it would be: polite and sophisticated, with no sentimental tears, nor any declarations of passion.
She accepts with a simple ‘yes’ and a chaste kiss to his lips. There’s no electricity between them, but there is respect in his eyes and that is all she needs.
When the family found out about the man the middle sister had fallen in love with, they gave her a choice: them or him. Andromeda knew her voice was hollow as she spoke the words and her hands, now wrinkled with age clutched the handle of her tea cup more tightly. She avoided looking down at Teddy’s face where it peered up at her under the mop of a fringe he insisted on having. She didn’t want to choose… shouldn’t have had to choose, but in the end… she did.
There is fire in Bella’s eyes as she looks at Andromeda, blazing out of them, and the curl of her lip is almost animal.
Andromeda doesn’t know what happened to her sister, but what she is faced with now is hardly the girl she grew up with. Somewhere along the line, Bella died, and Andromeda wasn’t watching.
Next to her dark, red and black sister, stands Narcissa, composed and controlled as always. There is a mask over Narcissa now, always there, and she never lets anyone through it. Andromeda can’t see past it anymore and she wonders if all that’s left of Cissa is that mask.
“It’s us or him,” Narcissa tells her, without any preamble.
“Your family or your mudblood pet,” Bella adds, spitting out the words with such venom.
She looks at them and she knows the decision has already been made for her. There is nothing left of her sisters here.
She turns and walks away.
And she never regretted that decision. Never, not even in the nights when she lay awake staring at the ceiling and wondered ‘what if’. Not even when her daughter was screaming at two in the morning and she just wanted to sleep. Not even when she passed her sister in the street and Narcissa, with her husband and son beside her, just walked on by, like she was nobody.
Not even when her elder sister killed her only daughter, or when she discovered that the man she left her family for was murdered.
She never regretted that decision… Old, alone and with her world crumbling around her… She never…
Ted Tonks reaches out a hand to Andromeda Black in the forest and, when she takes it, she has no idea that she is handing over her life with it.
Lucius Malfoy takes Narcissa Black’s hand in front of their family and acquaintances and she knows exactly what she is doing.
Rodolphus Lestrange guides the hand of Bellatrix Black on her wand as the word ‘crucio’ rolls over her tongue for the first time and she doesn’t care about anything other than that moment.
The room was quiet for a moment or two, only the roaring of the fire in the hearth. But Andromeda knew that Teddy would never be quiet or still for too long. Too much like his mother in that respect – just as inquisitive, just as clumsy.
He bounced on his knees, eyes still wide.
Did they live happily ever after, Gran? He asked eagerly.
Everyone’s got to live happily ever after, Gran. That’s how it’s supposed to end.
“And how did it end, Dora?” Ted asks, looking down at his small daughter, with her shock of bright purple hair, and she laughs.
“Happily ever after!” the girl declares with a giggle.
“That’s right,” Ted tells her. “Everyone has to live happily ever after – that’s how stories are supposed to end.” He turns to wink at his wife as she stands in the doorway, watching the pair of them with a faintly amused smile on her face. “Good night now, Dora. Sleep tight.” He leans down to press a kiss to her forehead. If Andromeda could keep this moment, just this - forever, she thinks she’d be happy.
“’Night daddy,” Nymphadora says with a yawn, burrowing under the covers.
“Good night, Nymphadora,” Andromeda says, as she and Ted close the door to their daughters room. Her family – small but happy. Ted’s arm is round her shoulders, warm and solid, and the words he whispers in her ear are just for her.
And they all lived happily ever after.