The Sugar Quill
Author: Potioncat  Story: Between the Lines  Chapter: 2 Sisters
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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 Tree is the inspiration for this series. One version can be found at the Harry Potter Lexicon. Here's the link:







The last thing Dorea saw before she tossed the Floo Powder was the forlorn look on Marius's face. He had been left out of so many outings lately, though she couldn't imagine why. "Auntie, can't we please bring Marius with us?" she asked, sorry now that she hadn't asked sooner.


"No, dear, not this…no, we can't," her aunt had answered, and in the way of children, Dorea had given up and had enjoyed herself. From time to time she would see something that she thought Marius would like, but Auntie always said no. She was uncharacteristically firm about it. At the end of the day, Dorea chose a book for Marius and pretended she wanted it for herself. Auntie allowed her to get it and they made their way back to the Leaky Cauldron to Floo home.


Their arrival was announced with the usual chimes and Dorea's father hurried in. "Thank you, Hester, for taking the girls."


"Is it completed? Is everything over?" Hester asked.


"It's done. Violetta has taken to her bed."


"I'd best leave you then." She gave each of the girls a quick hug, took Cygnus's hand, then stepped outside to Apparate home. Cygnus looked at the girls with his usual frown.


"We had a very good time, Daddy." Dorea smiled. "I have a present for Marius since he couldn't come."


His eyes narrowed. "Marius isn't with us anymore."


Cassiopeia grabbed Dorea's hand and squeezed. The older girl said, "We should go upstairs and freshen up, Father. Shall we take our tea in the nursery?"


Cygnus's eyes softened. Cassiopeia had always been the perfect daughter. "Yes, that would be a good idea. I don't want your mother bothered tonight. You can manage Dorea, can't you?"


Cassiopeia smiled. "Of course, Father. I'm almost old enough for Hogwarts."


Dorea didn't like the idea of being managed, but she was too frightened to speak, or to even pull her hand away from the painful grasp. The girls left the packages for Dinky to take care of and hurried upstairs.


Not 'til their bedroom door was closed did Cassiopeia let go of Dorea's hand and ask, "Do you understand what happened? Marius is dead!"


Dorea began to protest, but her sister continued, "'He's not with us anymore.' That's what grownups say when someone has died. He was a Squib and we can't have any Squibs in our family. We are Blacks. Toujours Pur."


"He's not a Squib! He just hasn't shown magic yet," Dorea said, but she knew it wasn't true. Her lip trembled; she couldn't think of any argument and for a moment the room was quiet.


Cassiopeia said curiously, "I wonder if it was an Avada Kedavra? That would be quick. I've seen Mummy use it on the rats for her spells."


Dorea's eyes grew large. "But that would mean Azkaban."


"That's right. So you mustn't ever tell anyone, or Mother and Father would go to Azkaban forever and who knows what would happen to us?"


"I don't believe it! Maybe they sent him to a Squib school or something. Maybe there's one like Hogwarts for that sort of person."


"Don't be ridiculous! Why would anyone bother?"


"Maybe Daddy turned Marius into a hedgehog like Thaddeus Thurkell did to his sons. I can hide him in the garden and take care of him. When I'm a full witch, I'll transform him back into a person. I'll ask Dinky." But even that hope wasn't much and she added, "He couldn't help being a Squib and he was just as pure as any of us!"


A soft pop announced Dinky's arrival with the packages. Bloody bandages covered his ears and feet; cleaner ones wrapped around his hands. Cassiopeia simply stared, but Dorea called out in distress, "Dinky, what happened to you!"


"Shush!" Cassiopeia hissed. "You aren't supposed to ask."


"Oh, poor Dinky," Dorea sighed. "Do you know where Marius is?"


"Dinky is not to speak of…" The house-elf flinched. "Dinky is commanded not to speak about the one is who no longer with us."


With that, sure that Marius was dead, Dorea threw herself on her bed and sobbed. Cassiopeia straightened her back and looked around their bedroom. "Dinky, hang up my new robes. Watch that you don't stain them. And serve our tea in the nursery. Mother is not to be disturbed."


After tea they were called to Violetta's room. She reached her arms to them and they came demurely for hugs. She held them tight and began to cry. "Have you been told? Do you know the sad news?"


"Yes, Mother," Cassiopeia said primly. "It was for the best, wasn't it?"


Dorea wanted to ask more, but her mother answered quickly. "Oh, my dears! You are such good girls to be so understanding. Yes, of course it was for the best. We shall never speak of it again. Now, let's get our minds off sad thoughts. Tell me about Diagon Alley."


Afterwards, Dorea went into Marius's room and stared. There was nothing there that had ever belonged to her brother. There was no sign that a young boy had ever lived in that room at all. Even the drapes and the bed coverings were new. It looked perfect for visiting aunts or for her brother Pollux's friends. She even got on her knees and looked under the bed, but there was nothing at all of Marius's  to remember him by.


"Young miss?" Dinky's voice was tentative.


Dorea sat up quickly. The house-elf stood in the doorway. She took her time to frame her question. She knew that Dinky would punish himself if he broke any of the rules and she didn't want to cause him any more pain. "I was looking for something to remind me. Something to have."


Dinky nodded sadly. "Dinky understands. Here, Miss, Dinky found this pair of socks under the bed." He crossed the room and held out his hand.


Dorea stared at the socks, a bit worn at the heel, a bit dusty from being under the bed. Dinky, she realized, must miss Marius too. He looked so sad, she couldn't bear to take them from him, nor could she give them back to him if she even handled them. "Perhaps, Dinky, if I were to look under the bed in a few minutes, I would find one sock myself?"


Dinky nodded. "Oh yes, Miss. I'm sure you would." He hurried to the other side of the bed, made some noises, then came back. "Dinky is sure if Miss were to look now, Miss would find a sock." They smiled sadly at each other and Dorea took the sock to her room.


She kept it hidden, sure that her sister would tease her, or, worse, tell on her. Her parents were always scolding her for something. If her parents could be so mean to Marius for something he couldn't help, what might they do to her if she wasn't good enough? How was she to manage?


Cassiopeia must have been thinking along the same lines because she suddenly spoke. "Dorea, you know we must be very, very good. Not just now, but always."


"Yes, I know," Dorea answered, very tired of always being treated like a baby.


"Good! I don't want you misbehaving and getting me into trouble. So I'll be watching you. September, when I go to Hogwarts, you'll be on your own."


Dorea could hardly wait.


She learned to keep to herself, and to speak as little as possible. Most of her time was spent in the garden or curled up with a book. Because no one ever talked in the Black family, and because the girls never dared to ask, they never learned the truth—that Marius was alive, and living as a Muggle under a new name. On those rare occasions when someone inquired about Marius, Dorea replied stiffly, "My brother is no longer with us."


Fall came and her sister went off to Hogwarts. Violetta announced with great pride that Cassiopeia had been sorted into Slytherin and in the same breath that Dorea would begin training in magic at home. Violetta's magic was a means to an end, and most of it was Dark. Cassiopeia had been a willing helper, eager to learn everything and always at her mother's elbow.


Dorea was obedient but unenthusiastic and her mother was often sharp with her. Once Dorea overheard her parents talking. Violetta complained that Dorea was slow to pick up the subtleties of the magic and completely lacking in initiative. The girl would never amount to anything.


In fact, Dorea was as capable as any young child could be, but she was repulsed by the outcome of Dark Arts and by the procedures required by them. She looked forward to the holidays, when Cassiopeia would rejoin their mother in the spell room and Dorea would be dismissed.


At last it was her own turn for Hogwarts. Cassiopeia made a great show of taking charge of Dorea at the platform. As soon as they were on the train and their parents had Disapparated, she hissed, "Go find some other first-years. Make sure they're pureblood, you'll meet all kinds here. Don't bother me unless it's very, very important and never embarrass me in the common room." She gave Dorea's arm a pinch. "Run along, I have prefect duties!"


With great relief Dorea hurried off, pulling her trunk with her. She started to turn into a compartment just as another girl did. They bumped into each other and Dorea prepared for a rebuff. To her surprise the girl laughed. "I'm Hilary. Are you a first-year?" Dorea nodded and before she could speak, the girl continued. "Oh good. Come on, let's get this one before some older kids do."


Together they tried to push Hilary's trunk into the overhead rack. Each time they pushed, it slipped back down. Once Dorea thought it would burst open. Every time it fell, Hilary laughed; eventually, she cheerfully gave up. "We'll never get it up there!" Dorea was astonished that anyone could tackle problems with such humour.


In a moment two more girls joined them. All stood looking at their impossibly heavy trunks. People were trying to get by in the aisle and occasionally someone would frown and mutter at them. Everyone seemed too busy to help. Hilary was still amused. "I think we're going to have to sit on them the whole way!"


A taller, masculine version of Hilary stopped and looked at them, "Oi, Hilly. I came to check on you. Found friends already? That's the spirit. All firsties? The trunks go up top, you know. Let me show you." He looked up and down the corridor, then waved his wand and all the trunks flew to the rack.


"This is my brother," Hilary said.


He stood very tall and fingered the badge on his collar. "I am a very important prefect. You must call me 'sir'."


Three solemn girls nodded and said in unison, "Yes, sir."


His eyes grew wide and he exclaimed, "It works!" In a more serious air he added, "Now that we've got that out of the way, you may call me Charlus." He turned as two more girls paused at the doorway, too shy to speak. "More of you? Come in," he invited, as if it were his compartment. He took care of the new trunks and waited while the six settled themselves in. The train whistled and began with a jolt. Dorea exchanged a look of excitement with Hilary and saw the other four looked homesick already.


"Oh-oh, I can spot the Ravenclaws!" Charlus said, nodding to the girls who held books on their laps. Dorea was one of them and their eyes met as she giggled. "No, Ravenclaws don't ever giggle, you must be Hufflepuffs!"


Dorea had grown up hearing how inept Hufflepuffs were and would have argued, but her well-learned reticence paid off as one of the other girls said, "Well I hope so!" Dorea had never known that someone might want Hufflepuff.


"Standing up to me, are you?" he asked the would-be Hufflepuff. "Gryffindor, then!"


All the girls were giggling now. "Go away Charlus!" Hilary laughed.


"Let's see. There's too many of you for one House. I'll practice my Divination: Gryffindor, Slytherin…" He was simply naming off the Houses in order, although with grand gestures and great frowns of concentration. He had just started over, sorting Hilary into Gryffindor, and Dorea should have been Slytherin. She fully expected to be sorted into Slytherin at the Sorting Ceremony and was resigned to it.


Charlus studied her a moment, as if his Divination skills were especially challenged in her case. "You love books, you giggle a lot, but you don't speak. You haven't hexed me or stood up to me, so I'll say Ravenclaw." Dorea knew it was a game, but wished it would come true.


"You're a bad hat! Go away!" Hilary insisted, still laughing.


"We'll see how bad a hat I am at the Sorting. Charmed, ladies," he said with a deep bow and was gone.


"Your brother is funny," one of them said


"Charlus is a fourth-year and Henry is a seventh-year. They're in Gryffindor."


"Two brothers!" another said. "How horrible!"


Dorea thought that she should have two brothers and looked out of the window sadly. Hilary reached over and squeezed her hand. "Don't be sad. Hogwarts is going to be fun."


Soon the six girls were chattering and giggling again and, as they began to talk about themselves, they formed little knots of interest. No one felt sad or homesick for the rest of the ride. At Hogsmeade Station they saw how many more first-years there were, then became caught up in the adventure of crossing the lake.


In the moment when they all stood together waiting to enter the Great Hall, the group grew silent. "I hope we get the same House," Hilary whispered just before the doors were opened. Dorea swallowed hard and let herself be swept up in the crowd as they walked up the long aisle to the High Table. When she had been very little she had been afraid of seeing her grandfather there, but he was 'no longer with them'. Headmaster Dippet sat in the place of honour.


Cassiopeia sent Dorea a warning look from the Slytherin table. Dorea was afraid to breathe and it was fortunate that her name was second. She took a seat on the Sorting stool, and kept her eyes open. Trying not to see all the faces at once, she looked to the side away from the Slytherins and saw Charlus smiling at her. His mouth moved but it was a deeper voice from the top of her head that called out, "Ravenclaw!"


Dorea was frozen in place, not sure she had heard correctly. One brief glance at Charlus's triumphant look, one briefer glance at Cassiopeia's outraged expression, and Dorea jumped off the stool and hurried to her new housemates.


As the Sorting Hat continued, each table cheered its new members and seemed to be trying to out-welcome the others. Dorea saw Charlus with an older version of himself. She knew it must be Henry. They were in the forefront, greeting each new Gryffindor warmly. At the Slytherin table, Cassiopeia looked bored.


At last "Potter, Hilary," was called and Dorea held her breath. There was a very long silence before Ravenclaw was announced. Charlus and Henry ran up and grabbed Hilary's arm, pulling her toward Gryffindor, calling out there was a mistake. Everyone was laughing, except for the professor in charge of the Sorting. Hilary pulled free and ran grinning to the Ravenclaw table.


She and Dorea hugged, jumping up and down. Dorea said, "I'm glad you're in Ravenclaw. I want us to be friends forever."


"Oh, we're going to be more than friends. We're going to be sisters!" Hilary exclaimed. "I knew it the moment we met."


Dorea smiled back, not quite knowing how to take that. As she sat down, she glanced over to the Gryffindor table. As if by magic Charlus looked over and grinned at her. Suddenly Dorea understood; she'd found herself a new family.










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