The Sugar Quill
Author: Clotho  Story: The Black in Me  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 in Me

*many thanks to my wonderful Beta Reader, Lone Astronomer, who was not scary at all like I expected! Your comments are welcome, and (once again) this is not my world, these are not my characters, they belong to a wonderful lady who lives in Scotland and I just like to play with them!

 

The Black in Me

 

Nymphadora rolled over under her thin hospital sheets. I held my breath for a few seconds, then exploded with a sigh. She was still out. Ted wrapped an arm around my shoulder and squeezed tightly.

 

“She’ll be alright,” he said gruffly, “just relax.”

 

I grinned weakly. Of course I knew she would be fine, but knowing meant nothing right now. I had to see her sit up and shout, “Wotcher, Mum!” for myself before I could truly believe it.

 

There was a shuffling sound on my right as Ted got up, probably to get us some more tea. We’d been living on that low-grade hospital tea for three nights, now. You’d think they’d have the sense to provide a more decent brand for distraught parents visiting their only daughter...

 

There I go again. The Black in me certainly pops in at the worst moments.

 

In this relaxed state, Nymphadora’s hair was back to the way it was when she was born; the same mousey brown as Ted. It was so strange to see it like that; I had almost forgotten how she looked naturally. She changed daily, and to the most outrageous styles and hues that would have made any muggle rock-star jealous! I always marveled at how very different from me that was. Had I been a metamorphmagus at her age, I would have made myself look like a veela! Anything to turn my sisters green with envy. Oh, it puts a smile on my face to picture the look on Narcissa’s face if she saw me like that, and Bella. . .

 

. . . Bellatrix...how dare she do this to my baby, to my little Nymph...had she even known it was her own niece? Her own flesh and blood, that she had tried to use the Avada Kedavra on? It probably wouldn’t have mattered if she did: it certainly didn’t stop her from killing our cousin.

 

Nymphadora is nothing like me and my sisters. No ounce of pettiness, no bit of inflated vanity can be found in her. From day one she would try to make herself look as weird and shocking as possible. She would show off in front of company and everything, just to mortify me! Ted was no help either, always asking her be a hag or a troll, and all for laughs. They are truly two of a kind.

 

Again, the Black side takes over. Is a child having fun really such a problem?

 

No one knows how hard I have to repress those thoughts. Every instinct I have says, “act proper, act respectful.” Those Blacks truly did a number on me, beating that mantra into my skull. I know it must have been trying for someone as free as my daughter to have an up tight mother like me. It certainly was a chore trying to raise her at times. But then, over the past year she had grown more forgiving of my nagging, more compliant. She even wore her hair blond and curly one day, like a normal person, just to make me happy– all though, now that I think about, she was probably too sleepy that day to argue with me about it. Still, it was as if she finally understood where I was coming from. Looking back, she probably was coming to understand, spending all of her time at Grimmauld Place.

I wish I had known. I wish I had known all of it. I could have stopped her from joining the Order of the Phoenix, or if that had failed I could have at least given her help and advice. Being faced with the legacy of Grimmauld Place, the Black family Mecca, for the first time would be disturbing for anyone, let alone for someone who was related to those monsters. I should know; I was there almost once a week as a child.

 

I grew up in the lap of luxury, one of three catty, spoiled princesses who never had to lift a finger. My only duties were to look attractive, act proper, and bring home wealthy, pureblood boyfriends. Producing trophy brides was a Black family trademark! It’s a miracle I ever survived in the real world. True, it was never in my nature to be as narrow-minded and hateful as my family; I was born questioning their values. I was, however, just as lazy and selfish as any of them.

 

But not my daughter! She never went through that brain wahsing. She would have balked at being told how to act, anyway. Nymphadora is so unlike any of my family, it’s delightful! I so dearly wish my parents could have met her before they died! She would have horrified them; would have served them right, too. She was their first grandchild, and their only granddaughter. Part of their inheritance should have gone to her, rather than all of it going to Narcissa’s obnoxious little boy. From what I hear, he is exactly like his mother; so pampered he can’t even wipe himself.

 

I used to entertain the idea of parading into Grimmauld Place – while dear old Mum and Auntie Vega were at tea– with my little Nymphadora in tow, all gangly and knobbly kneed, dressed in her favorite dungarees and trainers, tangerine haired, and trying to make her ears grow big enough for flying (for years she was convinced she could do this)! Oh to have seen the look on their faces!

 

I never did it, though. I could never subject my daughter to their stares and insults. I wonder what it must have been like this year, visiting Grimmauld Place and all its horrors on a regular basis; I imagine it must have been a total culture shock for her. Life with me and Ted had certainly been different from that.

 

For one, Ted brings mess and disorder where ever he goes. The house is always in shambles, no matter how much I clean. And in the hospital, he left empty paper cups all over the floor; didn’t he think to pick them up?

 

What’s more, nothing gets beneath Ted’s skin. At school they would call him the worst things, but it all rolled off of him like water. The Slytherins saw this as a sign of sub-standard intelligence, but I knew it was admirable. In my family, as cool and distant a facade they put on, the slightest of insults could incur the deepest of grudges.

 

Is it any wonder Ted is my breath of fresh air? He is so down-to-earth, so calm, and yet so silly. He is one of the biggest, toughest men I’ve ever seen, yet he tries to dance the fox-trot with me around the room when his favorite song is on the wireless! He could make Nymphadora squeal with laughter. She definitely has his slapstick humor.

I’m not trying to paint the picture that life was always perfect after we married. I remember how I used to be so resentful; here I was, having never learned to cook or clean in my life, trying to control the chaos caused by my rambunctious husband and daughter. I had to get a job and work for the first time in my life, too: we could have lived just fine on what Ted earns, but I was used to a certain standard of luxury. As his mother put it to me once, just because a man loves you doesn’t mean he’s going to give you everything you want. If I wanted certain material comforts, I would have to get them myself. For years this was the subject of many fights (most, I’m afraid to say, I started).

 

I am ashamed to admit this now, but I was also monumentally rude to Ted’s parents when we first met (old habits die hard). They were terrified of me! I’m not sure what he told them, but they seemed to think I was royalty, and compared to them I thought I was! It took me arriving at their house in tears, after hours of frustration, because I had no idea how to give my baby a bath, before we could start understanding one another. I’m glad they were in Nymphadora’s life. They couldn’t buy her jewels and toys on a whim as shallow tokens of affection (like mine), but they were always glad to have her stay for the weekend, to bake her cookies and all sorts of sweets that made her more all the more hyper, and tell her scary stories that would give her nightmares.

 

Yes, there were times when I felt very, very resentful. Still, I can’t say that I regret any of it one bit. I wish I could have grown up like Nymphadora, I might have turned out a little bit better. We might all have turned out a little bit better! I am not a believer that people are born evil, just with the potential to be. That potential was nurtured in me, in Narcissa, and in my cousins...

 

But not Bellatrix. She came into this world evil, I’m sure of it. There was always something about her, some power that simmered beneath the surface. And now, this...I would make her pay if I could! If only I were a stronger witch, I would ger her for what she tried to do to my daughter! If only I had an ounce of the strength that my cousin Sirius. . .

 

Sirius.

 

Nymphadora rolled over again and opened her mouth, just as Ted returned with the tea. He looked at me anxiously, and I shook my head. It struck me as so sweet that such a big, gruff man can be so scared when his little girl is hurt. I took his hand when he sat down, shifting a crumpled piece of newspaper from one fist to the other

 

I glanced down at it– it was a newspaper article about Sirius– and I continued thinking. . .

 

Sirius.

 

He was innocent this whole time. Here, in London, hiding, and innocent. I didn’t know whether or not I wanted to scream at Nymphadora for not telling me! Could I have handled the truth anyway?

 

Sirius, bless him, was my strongest ally. He was the only person in the family who could match Bella’s strength and talent ounce-per-ounce. His mother just couldn’t stand him, this unstoppable force of nature that challenged the very existence of her comfortable, pureblood world!

 

Ted and I never understood why Sirius went to Azkaban. We could see him capable of those crimes; he was always so brilliant, I never once doubted he could master a curse strong enough to kill thirteen people. And it did not surprise me one bit that he could find a way to escape the Dementors! We just couldn’t, however, understand how my cousin, my fellow rebel and outcast, could turn around become the perfect, respectable heir to the Blacks. Hadn’t he and I always been in the same boat? Questioning our parents’ beliefs, and being saved from that path by our friends and love ones? I couldn’t understand that part.

 

We used to get along famously, Sirius and I., even though I was several years older. I remember that his penchant for prank playing began with tormenting my sisters and even his brother, and I (a vindictive little brat) was a more than eager participant. After years of having to pick maggots and mud out of their hair, I’m sure they all rejoiced when we left the fold.

 

We didn’t see much of each other over the years, what with me being disinherited and him running away. But, right up until the day the Potters died, we wrote each other regularly, even sent gifts for the holidays. He had a knack for finding exactly the right presents for Nymphadora. Child-sized racing brooms, toy dragons that breathed fire, and muggle things called stilts (which I swear she broke her arm, leg, and collarbone on) just to name a few.

 

I’d sometimes have to ask him to buy her gifts in my name. My presents– princess dolls, pretty gowns and the like– would always wind up at the very bottom of her closet. I swear, sometimes I find myself at a loss when it comes to my daughter.

 

And now Sirius is back...well, technically gone...Merlin’s beard, I don’t know what to think! I did not mourn the death of my parents. I did not mourn the death of his parents or his brother. I did not even mourn my sister going to prison. In fact, I found it annoying! In the weeks leading up to and after her arrest, people would stop and stare at me in the streets, sometimes doubling to make sure that what they were seeing was real. I used to look an awful lot like Bellatrix back then. People thought it was me they had seen in all the papers.

 

But did I mourn Sirius? I swore to myself I wouldn’t. I thought he had become one of them. At last, all these years later, I learned the truth after it was too late to save him. Why didn’t he come to me? I would have helped, would have believed his stories. When it was finally safe to mourn him, I felt more anger than sorrow.

 

All I really cared about, anyway, was my gangly little girl, lying on that bed.

 

I sat up straight as a horrible thought came to me.

 

“Ted,” I whispered, “she was knocked out before Sirius was killed. . .”

 

He didn’t say anything, which irritated me. Nothing? No advice? No reassuring “It’ll be fine?” He felt like me, then. We didn’t want to be the ones to break the news. Her horrible, soulless aunt killed her cousin– my cousin! My most beloved cousin at that! And just as she was getting to know him.

 

Suddenly, Nymphadora opened one eye and rubbed it groggily. My heart caught in my throat and I gave a dry sob. Thank God! Thank God, she’ll be alright! I couldn’t even imagine how much she ached. She wasn’t able to see clearly, either, for she stared at us for several moments. It was several moments before a look of realization dawned on her face, and she split into a weak grin.

 

            Wotcher, Mum.”

 

//
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