The Sugar Quill
Author: The Morning Starr (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Choices  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Who: Andromeda and Narcissa Black

Disclaimer: This ficlet was written based on characters and places created by J.K. Rowling. 

A/N: Thanks to the ladies at the SQ Workshop 2 and Molly McGonagall for their encouragement and feedback.

 

Choices

 

            The sun blinded her for a moment as Narcissa Black pushed open the heavy doors leading to the Hogwarts grounds.  The brightness was such a sharp contrast to the Slytherin dungeons that she had to blink a few times before she could see.  A number of students were already outside, celebrating the end of exams and enjoying themselves too much to notice her.  Once she’d convinced herself that no one was paying attention, she removed a crumpled piece of parchment from the pocket of her robes and read the message again.

 

            After you’ve sat your last O.W.L., meet me in our old spot.  I’ll be waiting.

 

            The note needed no signature, as Narcissa recognized the handwriting anywhere, though the timing of the letter had more than sparked her curiosity.  It had been over a year since they’d met there.  Moving swiftly but silently, she slipped behind Hagrid’s hut and approached the edge of the Forbidden Forest.  Continuing into the trees, it became darker and darker, but she only slowed down when a head of pale-blonde hair swept into the familiar low ponytail came into sight.

 

            “I received your note,” Narcissa said, trying too hard to sound conversational.  “Is something wrong?”

 

            Nearly identical faces met one another as Andromeda Black stood and turned to face her sister.  Narcissa could see that she had summoned fairies and had arranged them to look like her name-sake constellation, each of them twinkling like miniature stars.  It was ironic—her sister usually earned dismal astronomy marks, but she’d always known every star in that constellation.  Narcissa gave in to a nostalgic grin.  Andromeda smiled brightly in return, but her eyes betrayed her emotions.

 

            “Why does something have to be wrong for us to come here?”  Andromeda asked, linking an arm through Narcissa’s and leading her towards a sitting place.  Her voice was shaky.  “We used to come here all the time.”

 

            Narcissa stopped in her place, pulling her arm back with her.  “Andromeda, we haven’t been here in two years.  Why now?”

 

            Andromeda quickly looked away and shrugged as she sat down heavily on a large rock.  “Maybe I just wanted to know how your O.W.L.s went.”

 

            “You could have asked me that once we were home.”   The brief moment’s silence confirmed Narcissa’s suspicions.  “You’re not coming home, are you?  That’s why you wanted to see me—to say goodbye.”  Narcissa concentrated on the fairy lights assembled like stars against the steadily darkening forest floor.  She blinked a few times in an attempt to convince her eyes that there was no need for tears.

 

            “I can’t go back, Narcissa.” Andromeda’s voice was not much more than a whisper.  “Ted asked me to marry him… and I’ve accepted.”  She said this last part with a finality, suggesting to Narcissa that she had thought long and hard about this.  “It’ll be a small ceremony,” she continued.  “No one from our family would go, except perhaps Sirius, if he was old enough.”

 

              She paused for a moment, as if to muster courage. “I don’t want Bellatrix to know—at least not while we’re still at school.”

 

            Narcissa felt her cheeks go hot.  “If you don’t want Mother and Father to know, that’s fine, but don’t ask me to keep secrets from her.” 

 

            Andromeda blinked back tears.  “Narcissa, you know how she is,” said Andromeda desperately.  “She takes Mum and Dad’s word as if it came from Salazar himself!  She’s been nothing short of horrible to me ever since the family found out about Ted.”  Andromeda became quiet.  “Quite frankly, she scares me.  I’m not sure what she’s capable of.”

 

            “She is twelve, Andromeda.”  Narcissa made no attempts to conceal the annoyance in her voice.

 

            “Have you ever looked into her eyes, Narcissa?  Really looked?  I can’t find her in them.  She’s filled with only hate.”

 

            “That’s not true!” Narcissa shouted.  “You don’t spend as much time with her as I do.  You’re not in the same House.  I know her.  She only hates you.” 

 

            “Because I’m in love with a Muggle-born, Narcissa!  Don’t you see that?”  Andromeda stood up suddenly and moved towards her sister.  “I love you, Narcissa.  I won’t ask you to choose between me and Bellatrix.  I just wanted you to be happy for me.” 

 

            As if she couldn’t take it any longer, Andromeda threw her arms around her younger sister and let the tears flow unrestrained.  “Because you know that once we get to Hogsmeade tomorrow, we won’t see each other again.  I—I won’t be welcome around the family any more.  Y—you’ll be forbidden to speak to me.”  Narcissa felt a single tear sneak down her own cheek as her sister sobbed in her arms.  “I’m going to m-m-miss you, Narcissa.  I only wish we’d spent more time together while we had the chance.” 

 

            After standing there embracing one another for several minutes, Andromeda pulled away with great effort.  Her cheeks were wet with tears.  “I really do love him, Narcissa,” she whispered.  “He’s good to me.”

 

            Narcissa swallowed the lump in her throat.  “I’m sure he is,” she managed.

 

            Andromeda lifted a slender hand to wipe the tears from her eyes, and for the first time Narcissa noticed the ring on her sister’s finger.  It had several tiny jewels arranged in the same design as the fairies still assembled just above the forest floor.  He certainly did know her well.  Narcissa looked away as she tried to compose herself again.  It was true her sister did not see eye-to-eye with their parents, but did she have to leave?  Narcissa didn’t want to choose between her two sisters either—she loved them both.  But if Andromeda was really going through with this, then Narcissa’s choice was made for her. 

 

            “Fifth August,” Andromeda continued, hope evident in her voice.  “In Hogsmeade.  You’re welcome to come, if you can think of a lie to tell Mum and Dad.” 

 

            Narcissa nodded.  “I’ll try to be there, but I’m not making any promises.”  She turned to leave the forest, glancing one last time at the fairies still vainly in their decorative places and her sister’s matching ring.

 

            “For what it’s worth, I think he’s good for you,” Narcissa said.  “Perhaps one day things will be different, and we can all be together again.”

 

            “Narcissa?” Andromeda called just as Narcissa was about to make her escape.  “Will…will you tell Sirius that I love him and that I’ll miss him?”

 

            Narcissa nodded silently and nearly ran back to Slytherin, stopping only once when she saw a seventh year Ravenclaw boy waiting near the main entrance.  When Narcissa laid her eyes on Ted Tonks, she had to force herself not to hex the boy who was tearing apart her family. His gave her a hopeful glance, but Narcissa couldn’t bear to acknowledge her approval of their marriage.

 

            She finally reached her dormitory, drained of all her energy, and crawled into her four poster bed, drawing the curtains around her.

 

            Alone at last, she stared bleakly at the velvet hangings.  Unable to hold them back any longer, Narcissa let tears of injustice consume her.

 

 

//
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