The Sugar Quill
Author: The Morning Starr (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Le Mouton Blanc  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.

The Black Family Home, London

Disclaimer: As much as I’d like to call them mine, I do not own any of the following characters, locations, or settings.  The Potterverse belongs to J.K. Rowling, but I enjoy playing in her world so much that the stories just seem to keep coming.

 

A/N: Robin Darc is the creation of the brilliant Jyrileru.  He appears here with her permission.

 

 Millions of thanks go to the wonderful ladies of the SQ Workshop 2: Alchemilla, Ara Kane, Ashavah, Jessanndi, Jyrileru, and Shellebelle for their insightful feedback and general support.  Further thanks go to A.L. de Sauveterre and Minoukatze, whose kind words and moral support have meant more than they can realize.

 

And though she’s already been mentioned, my SQ Beta Reader, Ara Kane, is my preciousssss.  Her insight and feedback was invaluable.

 

 

 

Le Mouton Blanc

 

            On the quiet residential streets of Wizarding London, witches and wizards of all ages were going about their usual business.  Mothers and fathers were minding their children while the children played with toy broomsticks and miniature Quaffles.  Owls swooped about, delivering their post.  Quidditch fans were gathered around the Wizarding Wireless Network, listening to the current match.  No one was aware that at Number Thirty-Three Anne M. Osity Drive, a battle between good and evil was being waged.

 

            “No! Nigelus, don’t do it!” a voice pleaded.

 

            “Sorry, Dumbledore, but your time has ended.”  A high pitched cackle filled the air as Dumbledore was thrown across the room.  He hit the wall with a thud and fell to the floor, where he remained, lifeless.

 

            Suddenly a door burst open, catching Dumbledore’s attacker by surprise.

 

            “Bellatrix!  What has mother told you about throwing your toys?”  Andromeda Black swept into the nursery with a small, dark-haired toddler in tow.  “Have you broken another one?” she demanded, her voice rigid.

 

            Bellatrix Black shrugged in reply.  “It was only Dumbledore,” she told her older sister sweetly.  “I broke him ages ago.  Mum and Dad thought it was funny.”  To prove her point, she walked to the motionless Dumbledore figurine and stepped on it.

 

            Andromeda took a steadying breath and set the toddler in the cot by the far wall, removing her long blonde hair from his little fists as she stood back up.  He looked up at her, his blue eyes preparing for tears.  Andromeda gave him a pitying look.  “It’s only for a minute, Regulus.  I have to fetch your brother.”  She looked at Bellatrix, who was now twisting her long dark ringlets with a toy wand.  “Can I trust you to make sure he doesn’t climb out of there?”

 

            Looking up at her sister, the little girl flashed her most angelic smile.  “Of course.  I’d never let anything happen to ickle Regulus.  He’s my favorite.”  She crushed Dumbledore with her heel once more and then skipped off to the cot.

 

            “Honestly, Bellatrix, you may not like that doll, but the Famous Wizards in Action set is expensive.  You ought to take better care of it.” 

 

            Bellatrix batted her eyelashes at Regulus, but made no attempt to acknowledge her sister.

 

            With an exasperated sigh, Andromeda hurried off down the dim hallway of number thirty-three.  She went straight past the portraits of her ancestors, some dating back to the 13th century, and only paused to stick her head into various rooms to see if her cousin had wandered into one, but there was no sign of him.  Panic began to rise inside of her when she heard giggling coming from her other sister’s room.

 

            As Andromeda moved closer to the door, the giggling became louder.  What are those two laughing at? Andromeda thought with annoyance.  It figured that while she was worrying about finding her young cousin, Narcissa and her friend would be without a care in the world.  She knocked loudly on the ornate mahogany door, and finally just opened it when no one answered.  She had half a mind to yell at Narcissa that Sirius was missing, but the image that met her eyes on the other side of the door rendered her momentarily speechless.

 

            Six-year-old Sirius Black was standing on Narcissa’s antique bed, his dark shoulder length hair pulled into haphazard pig tails, and wearing long, flowing, royal purple robes that hung off of him hopelessly, and a matching hat, complete with feather.  He had his small hands on his hips and he was strutting back and forth on the bed, trying not to trip on the robes.  Narcissa and her friend, Vera, were both on the floor, clutching their sides in hysterical laughter.  Andromeda was torn between chastising her sister and laughing with her.

 

            “Dromeda!” Sirius said brightly when he saw his favorite cousin.  He waved frantically from the bed, and nearly lost his balance.

 

            “Narcissa!  What have you done to poor Sirius?”  She tried to sound stern, but just then, Sirius blew her a kiss.  Andromeda snorted, but still attempted to keep her composure.

 

            “Andromeda, don’t take him yet!”  Vera McKenzie called from the floor.  “I want to take a picture of him first.”  She scrambled to find her camera.  Narcissa squealed again as Sirius tried to wink at the camera, but couldn’t manage to close only one eye at a time.

 

            “Hurry up,” said Andromeda, checking her watch and glancing down the hall.  “I’ve left Regulus with Bellatrix.”

 

            “Go on, then.  We’ll bring him to the nursery in a minute.”  Narcissa waved her sister away.  Andromeda considered Narcissa’s offer briefly and then hurried back down the hallway.

~*~*~

 

            Vera snapped her pictures and let Narcissa take the dress robes off of Sirius, giggling the whole time as the little boy talked incessantly about how Regulus had stuck a Billywig up his nose earlier that morning and given their mother a fright when he started floating.  “It’s a pity the pictures aren’t in color,” Vera was saying as Narcissa offered him a Chocolate Frog.  “But then again, I don’t think I could ever forget the purple of those robes.” 

 

            Sirius somehow managed to get chocolate smeared above his eyebrow and Narcissa grabbed a handkerchief off of her vanity to wipe his face.  Vera, who was already waiting by the door, glanced down the hallway, her brow furrowed in thought.  “Your sister seemed worried about leaving Regulus with Bellatrix.”

 

            Narcissa’s jaw clenched for a second, but she quickly relaxed again.  “Well, she is a bit young to be left in charge of three-year-old, even it is only for a minute or two.”

 

            Vera nodded in agreement.  “Yes, I suppose that makes sense.”  She then hoisted her friend’s cousin onto her back once Narcissa had finished cleaning him up.

 

            Narcissa smiled.  “I think he likes you.”

 

            The three walked slowly down the hallway of number thirty-three and Narcissa quietly named the subject of each portrait for Sirius, who repeated them obediently, mangling the pronunciation of the longer names each time.

 

            A sudden shriek from the nursery caused Narcissa to look at Vera in alarm before bolting the rest of the way to the nursery.  Vera followed quickly, holding Sirius’ legs tightly as she hurried.

 

            When Vera and Sirius reached the nursery, she was shocked to find Narcissa trying to pull Andromeda off of Bellatrix.  Andromeda’s normally fair face was red and blotchy, and there was a clear hand print on her left cheek.  Bellatrix was yelling and kicking at Andromeda’s legs, while holding onto a fistful of her sister’s blonde hair.  Regulus, still in the cot, was sobbing.

 

            “GIVE IT BACK!” Andromeda shouted.

 

            “GET OFF OF ME!”

 

            “LEAVE HER ALONE, ANDROMEDA!”

 

            Vera and Sirius stayed rooted to the spot in the doorway, while the sisters continued to struggle.  Finally Narcissa managed to pull Andromeda off of Bellatrix.  As if on cue, Bellatrix began to cry.

 

            “Oh, don’t try to fool us,” Andromeda spat at her youngest sister, while rubbing her cheek.  “We know those aren’t real tears!”

 

            Bellatrix only sobbed louder, and Narcissa turned to Andromeda, out of breath from trying to break up the fight.  “What…in the name of Merlin…is going on?”

 

            “Ask her.”  Andromeda pointed to Bellatrix, who had now buried her face in her knees.  “She took my wand again.  She was pointing it at Regulus when I came in.”

 

            “You’re lying!”  Bellatrix lifted her tear soaked face off of her knees.  “She dropped it again.  I was getting it out of Regulus’ reach when she came in calling me all sorts of nasty names.  Then she attacked me!”  A fresh wave of tears fell freely from her eyes.

 

            “You lying little brat!”

 

            “I am not!  You are!”

 

            “Enough!”  Narcissa said in her harshest voice.  “If you two don’t stop, Mother will come up here, and we’ll all be in trouble if we interrupt their meeting.”  She turned to Bellatrix and softened her voice slightly.  “Bellatrix, did you take Andromeda’s wand?”

 

            Bellatrix sniffed dramatically.  “No.  I found it, Cissa, I swear.”

 

            Narcissa turned to her older sister, who was now checking the toddler to make sure he wasn’t hurt.  “She says she didn’t take it.”  She sighed heavily when Andromeda looked at her in disbelief.  “We have no proof to the contrary.  Bellatrix, give me Andromeda’s wand now.”  The youngest sister sniffed again and wiped her face with her sleeve as she handed Narcissa the wand.  “Don’t worry,” she said comfortingly, “you’ll have your own someday.”

 

            At this point Sirius scrambled down from Vera’s arms and ran to Andromeda.  She scooped him up, retrieved her wand from Narcissa, and brushed passed Bellatrix to sit in the rocking chair with her cousin.  She sat down with a huff in the rocking chair, pulled Sirius into her lap, grabbed How the Erumpent got his Horn off of the end table and began reading to him.  Vera finally crossed the room to sit in the window seat.

 

            “Don’t get too comfortable,” Narcissa warned.  She was now holding Regulus and calming him down.  “Uncle Pollux and Aunt Capella won’t be here long.  We’ll be heading to Diagon Alley soon.”

 

            Vera spoke up.  “It’s awfully nice of your parents to take me along.  I’m so excited we’re finally going to Hogwarts.” 

 

            Narcissa grinned at her friend.  “It is quite exciting, is it not?”  She put Regulus back down in the cot, handed him a toy to keep him occupied, and joined her friend on the window seat.

 

            “What House do you think you’ll be in?”

 

            “I don’t really care, as long as we’re in the same House.  I was sure we’d all,” she pointed to her sisters, “be in Slytherin, but then Andromeda was put in Ravenclaw, so I don’t know.”

 

            “My Dad was in Ravenclaw, but my Mum was in Slytherin.  At least we’ve got a good chance of being in the same House. You don’t think they’d separate us, do you?”

 

            “I hope not.  But Andromeda says she’ll ruin it for me if she tells me what the ceremony is like, so I don’t know how they decide what House you’ll be—”

 

            “Narcissa…”  Vera’s voice was low and her face a mixture of amusement and confusion.  “What is Bellatrix doing?”  Narcissa’s eyes darted to the corner by the bookshelf, where Bellatrix was sitting on the floor with a heavy volume open on her lap.  She had her finger pointed to a spot on the page, but her eyes were shut tight, and she was muttering.

 

            “Crabbe: Valerie, age 7; Vincent the third, age 2.Diggory: Amos, age 12; Anna, age 8.  Fudge: Cornelius, age 18.  Greengrass: Robert, age 10; William, age 4.”  The list of names and ages went on.  Every now and again, she’d pause, open her eyes, flip to a certain page in the book, close her eyes again, and continue muttering.  Andromeda was reading to Sirius, and not paying attention to Bellatrix.  Narcissa, however, looked horrified.

 

            “She…she’s just always been interested in family history.  Now her…interest has just moved on to genealogy.”  Narcissa shrugged, but her cheeks were pink. 

 

            Bellatrix paused in her memorization.  “It is a Wizarding genealogy book.  I like to recite it for Mum and Dad.”  She shut her eyes again and resumed muttering names. 

 

            Vera looked to her friend for an explanation, but Narcissa only shrugged and looked away. She was about to ask another question, when the nursery door opened again.

 

            Standing there were two women.  One was very tall, with fair skin, blonde hair pulled into an elegant twist, and grey eyes that matched Narcissa’s.  She wore her usual stern expression, but Vera wasn’t fooled.  She’d always known Narcissa’s mum to be kind.  The woman next to her was shorter, with pale, stretched skin, her eyes deep-set and almost black.  Her black hair was pulled tightly into a bun, and was tinged purple, from years of dying it.  Vera had never met her, but assumed the woman was Sirius and Regulus’ mum, though it was apparent the two boys got their handsome looks from their father. 

 

            Capella Black swept across the room and lifted a now-sleeping Regulus from the cot.  She turned and gave Andromeda a highly disapproving look.  “Fighting again?”  She asked, pointing to the faded handprint on Andromeda’s cheek.

 

            “Bellatrix provoked me.” 

 

            Both Mrs. Blacks turned to look at Bellatrix, whose eyes were still shut tight, still reciting names and ages.

 

            “Bellatrix is minding her own business.  It seems to me as if you provoked her.”  Andromeda stared at the floor as her aunt hovered in front of her.  “You ought to set a better example for your sisters.  I don’t know how they do things in Ravenclaw, but in Slytherin, families stick together—they do not fight amongst one another.” 

 

            Andromeda nodded.  “Yes, Aunt Capella.”

 

            “Take Sirius downstairs, child; our visit is over,” the dark-haired Mrs. Black ordered. Andromeda didn’t hesitate to obey her aunt, and Vera had a feeling that this was a woman that one simply did not cross.  Turning to her sister in law, Capella began mumbling about botched Sortings and bad influences at school.  Narcissa’s mum nodded in reply, but did not say anything.  Capella then turned to Bellatrix and barked at her to name five of her ancestors on the Black side of the family, which Bellatrix recited with ease. 

 

            “At least one of them has family pride,” Capella muttered, and Bellatrix’s face was plastered with a smug grin.  Meanwhile, Narcissa had gone pale and was avoiding her aunt’s eyes.  Vera felt very out of place.

 

            The two Mrs. Blacks said their goodbyes, and Narcissa’s mum gently told the girls to freshen up as they’d be leaving for Diagon Alley momentarily.

 

~*~*~

 

 

            Diagon Alley was swarming with witches and wizards of all ages when the Black family arrived by coach.  Narcissa and Vera could immediately recognize other first years as they were the ones wearing looks of excitement mirroring their own.  Andromeda, by contrast, seemed a fit of nerves; Bellatrix looked nothing short of bored.

 

            Aurora Black cleared her throat and Narcissa and Andromeda quickly handed their mother their school lists.  Mrs. Black scanned each list briefly before handing them back to her daughters.

 

            “Rigel, dear,” Mrs. Black said in a silky voice, “why don’t you take Bellatrix along with you, whilst I take the girls for their supplies.  I’m sure she’d enjoy spending the day with just you.”  Bellatrix looked up at her father with hopeful eyes.  Both parents smiled approvingly at her, and Mr. Black picked her up.

 

            “Of course you can come with me, my sweet.”  Rigel Black tickled his youngest daughter, and Vera caught Andromeda rolling her eyes.

 

            After agreeing to meet at Flourish and Blotts at the end of the day, and Mrs. Black proceeded to lead the three older girls swiftly along Diagon Alley.  She slowed down only after they reached Ollivander’s.  Entering the store, they found it fairly empty; there were only three other customers—a plump woman and her two sons, all with flaming red hair, though the family didn’t seem to notice anyone coming in. The two boys, who looked nearly identical with their lanky builds and freckled faces, were admiring what had to be the new wand of the slightly shorter boy, who also wore glasses.  As their mother paid for their purchase, the two boys leaned their heads in closer to one another, speaking in voices so hushed that Vera could hardly hear them. 

 

            The mother finished paying Mr. Ollivander and turned to leave the store.  “Billius, Arthur, come now,” she called out, startling them slightly.  “And don’t even think about so much as waving that wand until you get on the train to school, Billius Weasley!  I will not have you blowing up your cauldron like Arthur did before he started school.”

 

            “Yes, Mum,” the boy with the glasses answered, but Vera caught him winking at his brother just before the door shut behind them.

 

~*~*~

 

            Andromeda recognized Arthur Weasley from Gryffindor as he and a boy Andromeda presumed to be his younger brother left Ollivander’s, apparently plotting something.  She deliberately kept her head down as she really didn’t want to be seen.  Fortunately, they were too concerned with the plot at hand to notice anyone else in the store.  In spite of this, she still smiled slightly.  Arthur had a bit of a reputation as a prankster, and she was curious as to what he was planning.

 

            “Ah!” said Mr. Ollivander when he noticed Andromeda and her family, “I thought you had another one ready for Hogwarts.”  He gave a deep bow to Aurora, and offered his hand to her in order to lead her to a nearby chair.  Without saying a word, he magicked two tape measures over to Narcissa and Vera, which then started measuring them unaided.  “Andromeda Black,” he said, snapping Andromeda out of the comfort of her thoughts.  “Took us quite a while to find a wand for you, didn’t it?  Went through fourteen dragon heart-string cores before I finally realized that you needed a unicorn tail hair.  Not entirely my fault, of course.  You were the first Black ever to have a core other than dragon heart-string.”

 

            Andromeda nodded, her cheeks on fire, determined to avoid her mother’s glare.  Vera looked at Andromeda with concern, but Andromeda just resumed looking at the floor as Mr. Ollivander flicked his wand and the tape measures flew back to the counter.  He disappeared for a moment, coming back with two wand boxes.

 

            Vera and Narcissa exchanged excited glances and huge grins as he put a wand into each girl’s hand.  He nodded to Narcissa first, who waved her wand slightly.  Green sparks erupted from the wand, startling the girls, but Mr. Ollivander only smiled.  Andromeda smiled as well; she was glad that her younger sister wouldn’t have to endure the same heartache from their parents as she had.  To this day she still didn’t understand why there was such a fuss over her wand.  After all, she hadn’t chosen it—it chose her.

 

            “I surmised as much,” Mr. Ollivander was telling Narcissa.  “Dragon heart-string, black walnut, nine and a quarter inches, very springy.  Much quicker to find than your sister’s.”  He turned to Vera.  “McKenzie, right?” She nodded.  “Of course.  Image of your father.  Let us see if your wand is like his as well.”  He handed it to her, describing its makeup.  “Unicorn tail hair, cherry, nine inches, flexible.”  To Vera’s delight, gold sparks came from the wand as she waved it.

 

            Aurora paid for the girls’ wands (Vera had given her money pouch to her earlier), and led them from the store quickly.  Narcissa and Vera chatted animatedly whilst getting their potions supplies, and they could hardly stand still to get fitted for their robes.  Andromeda, however, stayed very quiet and even kept her head down most of the time, despite her mother’s frequent orders to “stand up straight!” and “stop slouching!”    Andromeda figured that if Narcissa and Vera hadn’t been so excited, they would have been quite tired by the time they reached Flourish and Blotts for their books.  She certainly was. 

 

            Just as they reached the door, the red headed woman from Ollivander’s stormed out of the bookstore, shaking off the bird feathers that were covering her clothes and hair and now holding three wands.  The two red headed boys followed her silently, wandless and wearing expressions of guilt and dread.  Andromeda stifled a giggle, her mind racing to figure out what they did to their mum that involved feathers. 

 

            Inside, she found her father speaking to a tall man with a pale and pointy face, and hair even more silvery blonde than her own.  Mrs. Black appeared to recognize the man immediately, and motioned for the girls to follow.

 

            Aurora, you remember Theodosius Malfoy, do you not?” asked her father.

 

            Andromeda’s mum offered Mr. Malfoy a dainty, gloved hand, which he raised to his lips has he gave her a short bow.

 

            “Why, of course.  You recently funded the additions to Saint Mungo’s.  Any respectable wizard knows of the Malfoys.”  Andromeda couldn’t help but note that her mum was standing even taller and straighter than she had earlier.  “Our daughters, Mr. Malfoy.  I believe you’ve already met our youngest, Bellatrix?”  He nodded and smiled at the dark-haired girl as Mrs. Black continued.  “This is our eldest, Andromeda.  This is Narcissa.  She’s starting at Hogwarts this year.  And her friend Vera McKenzie.”

 

            Mr. Malfoy smiled warmly at the girls, and looked around for someone.  “Lucius!” he called, and a small pale boy appeared from between two shelves of books.  He stood silently next to his father, his chest puffed out a bit.  “Lucius is starting at Hogwarts this year as well.  Lucius, why don’t you join the girls as they fetch their school books?”

 

            Lucius nodded obediently, and Andromeda took it upon herself to lead them to the area where the Hogwarts books were displayed.  Her feelings were not hurt at all when Bellatrix chose to hold Narcissa’s hand rather than her own.

 

            Once they’d reached the Hogwarts section, the pale boy stood as tall as he could (and rather pompously in Andromeda’s opinion) and shook hands with each of the girls in turn.  Narcissa and Vera seemed eager to meet someone from their year, but they managed to remain calm, and they sort of mimicked his stance with their own.  Andromeda thought they all looked ridiculous, but she remembered how excited she’d been when she had started school two years earlier.  Bellatrix, on the other hand, was absolutely in awe of Lucius.

 

            Bellatrix stood there quietly, but when Lucius turned his attention to her, she blurted out, “Your family dates back to before Merlin’s time.”  Andromeda wasn’t sure who looked more proud of this fact—Lucius or Bellatrix.  She turned to the bookshelves and rolled her eyes as she searched for a book on her list, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

 

            “I read Wizarding Genealogy,” Bellatrix added, in case there was any doubt.

 

            “Have you already purchased your books?” Narcissa asked the boy absently, as she pulled one of her own off of the shelf.

 

            “Yes.  Mother brought me last week.  Father had business in London today, and he said that if I came along he’d buy me the latest edition of Which Broomstick.”  He showed Narcissa a magazine with Quidditch players racing across the cover.  When Narcissa nodded and smiled at him, Andromeda almost laughed; Narcissa hated Quidditch.

 

            Andromeda left Narcissa and Vera there to pretend to like Quidditch for the young Malfoy (purposely leaving Bellatrix with them) as she made her way over to the Arithmancy shelves.  She was starting Arithmancy this year and she was quite eager to get a little early reading done before school.  She reached up to remove a copy of The Magic Number when someone ran into her, causing her to drop the heavy volume on her foot.

 

            “I’m so sorry.”  The boy who had smacked into her was on the floor, picking up her book.  He stood and handed it to her, and Andromeda gave him a quick assessment with her eyes as she’d been taught.  He was wearing worn-in-trousers and a shirt that was slightly wrinkled.  She wondered briefly what it would be like to have wrinkles in her clothes.  Her mum usually came after her with a de-wrinkling charm any time one made its way into her robes.  She made a mental note to try it at school.

 

            “I’m just so in awe of this place,” the boy went on.  “It’s all so—well—magic.”

 

            Ah, he is Muggle-born.  Andromeda has suspected as much from his attire.  She glanced back at her sisters; they were both still paying attention to Lucius and didn’t seem to notice Andromeda or the boy.

 

            “Robin Darc,” the boy offered his hand, but for some reason he seemed unable to make eye contact with her.  She hesitated, suddenly very aware of herself, but then shook it.

 

            “Andromeda Black.  Pleased to meet you.  Can I help you find something?”

 

            “No, according to the bookstore clerk, I can’t actually take Arithmancy until my third year.  But I thought I could buy the book and get a head start on it.”

 

            She smiled.  “It does seem terribly fascinating, doesn’t it?  I’m starting lessons this year.”  A married couple, whose dress made it painfully clear that they were Muggles, beckoned Robin to join them.

 

            “That’s Mum and Dad,” said Robin, grabbing one last Arithmancy book from the shelf.  “It was a pleasure meeting you.  Perhaps I’ll see you at school.”  With that, he hurried off, a stack of books in his arms.

 

            A bookworm like him—I won’t be surprised if he’s sorted into Ravenclaw.  Andromeda headed back over to her sisters after watching the boy talk enthusiastically to his parents about the books he’d picked out.  Lucius was helping Narcissa and Vera make sure they had all of their books.  Bellatrix was sitting on the floor, reading Great Wizards of Old.  Andromeda relaxed a bit; they didn’t seem to have noticed her talking to Robin.  Perhaps, she thought, I can get through this day without any major conflicts.

 

            “Andromeda?”

 

            Her heart pounded.  She knew that voice, but she also knew that this was the last possible place she’d hoped to hear it.  She spun around.  “Oh, hi, Ted,” she said as quietly as possible. 

 

            Ted Tonks was a Ravenclaw boy from her year.  He was a nice boy, of course, but that wouldn’t matter if her family saw him standing there in jeans and a button-up shirt.

 

            “Oh, it’s so good to see you!  How was your holiday?  Did you finish all of your assignments already?  I had a spot of trouble on that Potions essay, but I think I’ve got it all sorted out now.  Is something wrong?”

 

            She shook her head.  Her stomach lurched at the thought of her sisters taking notice.

 

            “Andromeda, is this one of your friends from school?” 

 

            Andromeda’s heart caught in her throat as Narcissa approached them.  She knew all was lost, however, when she saw Bellatrix standing next to her.

 

            Ted, however, was unaware that anything was amiss, and he smiled brightly at her sisters.  “Are you Andromeda’s sisters?  How exciting!”  He shook both Narcissa’s and Bellatrix’s hands vigorously.  “I’m Theodore, but you can call me Ted.”

 

            Narcissa smiled at him and introduced herself as Vera approached.  Apparently Lucius had left for more Quidditch books, and the girls were interested in meeting someone else from Hogwarts.  Bellatrix cocked her head to one side and looked at Ted’s clothing disdainfully.

 

            “What’s your surname?” she demanded.

 

            “Bellatrix!” gasped Narcissa.  “Don’t be rude.  Come help me find my History of Magic book.”  She tried to lead Bellatrix away, and Andromeda had never appreciated her more.

 

            Bellatrix, however, refused to leave.  “Father says it’s appropriate to introduce oneself by your given name and your surname.  So,” she turned back to Ted, “what is yours?”

 

            “She’s right, Andromeda.  I should’ve introduced myself properly.  I am Theodore Tonks,” he told Bellatrix, winking at her.  Then he knelt down to face Bellatrix straight on and whispered, “But you can still call me Ted.”

 

            Bellatrix’s eyes widened in horror.  She began walking backwards so quickly that she hit the back of her head on a shelf.  She reached up with her hand to rub it, but stopped and then looked at her hand as if it had flobberworms growing out of it.  Her breathing quickened, and Bellatrix looked at Ted with the utmost contempt.

 

            “You…touched… me…” she hissed at him. 

 

            Andromeda exchanged a look with Narcissa, who nodded in understanding.  She tried to hurry Bellatrix away, but she broke from Narcissa’s grip.

 

            “Andromeda, is your sister all right?”  Ted asked her with concern.

 

            “She…erm… doesn’t like to be touched is all,” she lied, hoping it would work.  Bellatrix, however, had other ideas.

 

            “THE MUDBLOOD TOUCHED ME!” she shrieked.  “I WAS TOUCHED BY FILTH.  BY SCUM!”

 

            Andromeda recoiled.  Narcissa flinched, but still tried to drag her sister away.  Vera looked shocked.  Ted only looked confused.

 

            “AND YOU!” Bellatrix pointed at Andromeda.  “HE’D BETTER NOT BE YOUR FRIEND!  MUM AND DAD SAID YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO TALK TO THEM!”  She looked at Ted once more with disgust.  “HE SHOULDN’T EVEN BE HERE!  HE SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED!”

 

            “Bellatrix, that’s enough,” said Narcissa.  “Just come on.”

 

            Bellatrix shook Narcissa’s hand off of her shoulder.  “I will tell Mum and Dad,” she informed Andromeda.  “You’ll be in so much trouble.”  She shot a final look of disgust at Ted and stormed off, Narcissa and Vera following behind her with their books.  Narcissa gave Andromeda a sympathetic look before she turned the corner.

 

            “Ted, I’m so sorry.”  Andromeda looked intently at her shoes, hot tears of embarrassment and anger welling up in her eyes.  “She just doesn’t…get it.”  She found herself wishing for a hole to swallow her up and save her from what she knew was coming.

 

            Ted nodded.  “It’s okay, Andromeda, I just-“

 

            “I’m sorry, Ted, but I have to go.”  She picked up her books miserably and reluctantly went to join her family.

 

~*~*~

 

            “They’ve been in there an awfully long time.” 

 

            Narcissa, Vera and Bellatrix were sitting in the stairwell.  They were hoping to hear what their parents were saying to Andromeda, but because Vera was there, they’d put an Imperturbable Charm on the door.

 

            “Serves her right, consorting with Mudbloods.”  Bellatrix had her arms folded defiantly across her chest.

 

            “Bellatrix.”  Narcissa spoke her name quietly. 

 

            “Do you think they’ll use physical punishment?”

 

            “Of course they wouldn’t.  They’re probably just lecturing her.”

 

            “It will take at least fifty Scourging Charms to get the filth off of my hand.”

 

            “Just stop, Bellatrix.  You’re fine.”

 

            It had been four hours since the incident at Flourish and Blotts, and Vera still didn’t understand what was going on.  Mr. and Mrs. Black hadn’t spoken more than two words on the way home, and once they’d returned to number thirty-three, it was just known that Andromeda should follow them into the kitchen while the other girls went upstairs. 

 

            Vera was uneasy for several reasons, the ones being the tension in the house, the abrupt change in Mrs. Black’s attitude, and also because she couldn’t believe Bellatrix was using the term “Mudblood.”  Vera’s own mother would have slapped her if she’d ever used such language, though it wasn’t as if Vera would use it anyway.  Today had been the first day she’d ever met a Muggle-born, and he seemed just like them for the most part, though his clothes were a bit odd.

 

            Just then, the kitchen doorknob clicked, and the girls tried to scramble up the stairs quietly to keep from getting caught at their eavesdropping.  They waited at the top for Andromeda.

 

            “Are you okay, Andromeda?” asked Narcissa gently. 

 

            Andromeda’s cheeks were stained with tears, and her eyes were dry but puffy.  She nodded and turned to her youngest sister.  “Thanks a lot,” she said acidly.

 

            Bellatrix was not fazed.  “You brought this upon yourself.  You knew the rules.”

 

            “You don’t know anything about being at Hogwarts.  I have classes with Muggle-borns; they’re in my House.  What am I supposed to do?  Ignore them completely?”

 

            The little girl shrugged.  “If that’s what you have to do.”

 

            Andromeda looked repulsed.  “You’ll see when you get to school, Bellatrix.  It’s not that simple.”  She began to walk past them to her room.

 

            I’ll be in Slytherin,” Bellatrix retorted, “so I won’t have that problem.”

 

            Narcissa took Vera’s hand and led her friend to her own bedroom in an attempt to get out of the crossfire.  Andromeda took a deep breath and opened her door.  Narcissa did the same, walked into her room and slumped on the bed with a sigh.  Vera followed her in and was about to close the door behind her when she heard Bellatrix speak once more, her voice quiet and shrewd.

 

            “Oh, Andromeda?” 

 

            Andromeda stopped just before she clicked the door closed. 

 

            “You dropped your wand again.” 

 

            Vera could see from the crack in Narcissa’s doorway that Bellatrix was standing in the hallway, smirking nastily at Andromeda and twirling a wand in her fingers.  She tossed the wand carelessly and it fell to the floor.  Then Bellatrix spun on her heel and slammed her bedroom door behind her.

 

            Narcissa apparently hadn’t heard the exchange, so Vera slowly closed the heavy door and didn’t bother to mention it to her friend.  She leaned her forehead against the wall and silently thanked Merlin that she was an only child.

 

~*~*~

 

END

 

~*~*~

 

 

//
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