Rating/Warnings: PG-13 - mentions of canon character deaths
Original Prompt: 119: Andromeda and Narcissa reconnecting after the war
Word Count: 7.519
Note: Written for ladies_fest
Summary: After years of being forced to deny her second sister's existence, Narcissa Malfoy finally tries to break the silence and pays Andromeda a visit. They talk. They remember.
Notes: Thank you so much to my wonderful Beta damianjblack! ♥
Narcissa Malfoy quickened her pace as it started to rain. Turned around over and over again, nearly hysterical, wanting to make sure she wasn’t followed. She’d been wandering through the streets for over an hour, heading for a certain estate. She’d passed by the premises so many times in the past, had always hesitated, had always closed her eyes as she’d decided to just walk by, trying to pretend it didn't exist.
Raindrops poured down on her body, wetting her clothes and her hair. She was freezing but she didn’t care. Of course she could have chosen to Apparate; Apparating would have taken her only a few seconds, but she liked long walks, especially at night. No one would see her once it had become dark, no one would ask her questions.
Finally she’d reached the house. Closed her eyes, once again like so many times before, took a deep breath. A part of her just wanted to turn around, just wanted to run away, to forget the reason why she’d gone out, to forget about everything… But she couldn’t. Couldn’t move.
Wasn’t she a Black? Hadn’t she proved to be a daughter of the Noble House of Black countless times, during her time at school, during the wars? Blacks never ran away. Never. So why would she?
Narcissa opened her eyes again as she reached out for the handle, finally entering the estate. She sighed as she walked through the barely illuminated garden, her entire body trembling with cold now.
It had been foolish of her to believe things could change. To believe she’d actually want to talk to her. Why had she even come here, didn’t she know already what she’d say? Didn’t she know already that she’d turn around again in the moment she’d look into her eyes, that…
Narcissa reached out her hand as if she’d gone into a trance, knocked at the door, once, twice, unable to control her body, unable to notice what she did.
Nothing. Again she knocked, once, twice, even a third time, louder, harder, knocked over and over again…
Until the door opened. Until she stood right in front of her, pale as a ghost, thin as if she’d not eaten anything in days, her face swollen from crying.
What do you want? her eyes, her beautiful light brown eyes, asked as she looked down on Narcissa. None of the sisters would speak a word.
“Bella’s dead,” Narcissa said eventually, couldn’t suppress a wince as Andromeda started to laugh. A cold, hysterical laugh. She turned around, away from her sister, leaving her behind, just as…
But she wouldn’t close the door. Narcissa looked down to the floor, unsure of what to do or to even think. Again a voice in her head told her to just turn around, to leave, pretending she’d never come to see her sister, she’d never been foolish enough to assume they could…
“Come in or leave it,” Andromeda’s voice suddenly said from inside, dark and husky as if she’d not talked for a long time.
She followed her order, slowly entering the house, closing the door behind her back. Headed for the room she’d heard her sister’s voice in, barely able to believe she’d not told her to leave in the second she’d seen her standing right in front of her. Her eyes widened as she entered the drawing room, as she saw Andromeda sitting on a chair near a table, holding a baby in her arms… A baby…
Only a second later she remembered. Remembered the stories she’d heard about her sister’s grandson, remembered everything…
Narcissa knew she was making a fool of herself, standing in the door frame, quiet as if she’d lost the ability to speak. But for the first time after such a long time she did not care, did not care about anything. She’d never needed words in Andromeda’s presence. Her sister had never forced her to talk, had always understood her, even without words. But now? Now it all seemed so different. They seemed so far away from each other, as if they were stranger who’d known each other a long time ago, not sisters, not best friends like they used to be.
What did you expect Narcissa? a voice asked in her head. That she would come to you and embrace you as if nothing happened? Furthermore, she’s the one who ran off with a Muggle-born! She’s the one to come crawling and beg for forgiveness, so why did you visit her?
“Shut up!” Narcissa wanted to shout at her own thoughts, but she remained quiet. Weren’t they right? Wasn’t it Andromeda who’d run off-
No. No, she’d not think about the past, not now, not after everything that had happened. She had no right to judge her sister any more, had no right to even think about what she’d done so many years ago. Of course she’d hurt her, of course she’d broken her heart, hers and Bellatrix’s, but she’d forgiven her long ago, even if Bella hadn’t.
“I suppose you didn’t just come here to deliver the message of your sister’s death,” Andromeda said eventually, finally breaking the silence. The undertone in her voice was inscrutable.
Your sister’s death.
The words were resounding in Narcissa’s head, over and over again. She wouldn’t dare to look at her, not even when she rose, carefully laid the baby back in its cradle and started to head for the door.
“She was your sister, too,” she said quietly, still turned away from her.
Andromeda’s movements froze. Again she started to laugh, the same laugh as before, laughed as if she’d not understood what Narcissa had said, as if she were unable to believe her words.
“Sister?” she repeated, taking a few steps forward until she was so close to Narcissa that she could look directly into her eyes, feel her breath against her face.
“If someone killed your entire family,” Andromeda continued eventually, “If someone… eliminated the people you love for no reason except hate - would you still call them ‘sister’?”
Andromeda could have as well set Narcissa’s heart on fire. She wouldn’t reply, wouldn’t speak a word, seemed paralysed by her sister’s words. Even the bare thought of her son, her husband, dead, killed by her own…
No. No! She’d almost started to scream. Shook her head instead, quietly. Of course not. Of course she wouldn’t, of course not!
Once again, silence followed. Silence that seemed to crush her, to drown her. How many times had she opened her mouth, wanting to speak, with no sound escaping from her lips.
Andromeda sighed. “What do you want, Narcissa?” she asked suddenly, as if she’d gotten tired of silence.
“I want to talk,” Narcissa replied immediately, without even knowing what they’d talk about. Without knowing what she’d say to her, after so many years, what would happen. Would it ever be the same again? No. It was foolish of her to think it would, but even the bare thought of losing another sister broke her heart.
Stop it, Narcissa. You’ve lost already, her long before you lost Bellatrix.
“Talk?” Andromeda repeated, shaking her head as she turned away from her. “There is nothing to talk about. You should go now. I wouldn’t want to risk a Black being seen with a blood traitor like me.”
Narcissa bit her lip, hardly able to believe her sister’s words. Blood traitor. How often had she called her like this, how often had she talked to Bellatrix, speaking of their third sister as no one but a blood traitor. And now? Why would these two words hurt her now, why would they tear her heart into pieces?
Did she regret? Did she regret what she’d said about her, how she’d reacted to her marriage to him? She did not know.
“Andy…” she whispered, barely audible. Her eyes widened as she saw Andromeda wince. As she noticed how her sister seemed to lose control, for no longer than a second.
“Andy, please - I can’t lose you, too!”
“Lose me?” Andromeda repeated, still turned away from her, still refusing to even look at her. “After all those years of silence you all of a sudden come to me and tell me that you can’t ‘lose me’? You show up at my door after over twenty years of denying our relation and want me to pretend that nothing happened? That we’re still sisters like we used to be? That we’re still best friends?”
She wouldn’t even wait for Narcissa to answer, just shook her head, over and over again. “No,” she whispered, more to herself than to her sister. Finally turned around, to briefly look into her eyes.
“What do you want?” she asked again, her voice cold now. “What do you want, Narcissa? Are you lonely? Is it this? Are you lonely? Do you need a substitute for your sister, now that Bellatrix lies six feet under?”
She had shouted the last words, had made Narcissa wince, gasp for breath. She’d never expected her sister to raise her voice against her, not -
Why not? You know that she has Bella’s temper.
But Narcissa didn't care about her temper. Had become angry at Andromeda’s words, so incredibly angry. How dared she? How dared she!
“Don’t talk about her like this,” she hissed between clenched teeth, hardly able to keep control over her voice. But she wouldn’t bother shouting at her. No. No, she wouldn’t. It would not be worth it. “She was your sister!”
The baby had started to cry, Narcissa could see how Andromeda closed her eyes for a moment as she took the boy, carefully started to cradle him in her arms until he’d calmed down again, falling asleep against her body.
“I don’t have a sister,” she whispered.
Narcissa, had wanted to take a step forward, to take a step towards her, but she froze. Froze as if someone had cast a Body Binding Curse against her.
I don’t have a sister.
“What about me?” she asked quietly. Her anger had disappeared as fast as it had taken control over her, had given place to despair.
“You?” Andromeda’s voice was still missing any warmth, as if she were talking to a stranger, to someone she barely knew, someone who had insulted her.
“You are no better than Bellatrix, Narcissa. You may think you are, but believe me, you’re not. You may not have killed people yourself, you may not have tortured them until near death, but you watched. You approved.”
Approved. Of course she’d not approved! She’d never approved of torture, or even murder! Of course she’d believed in him, of course she’d believed in what he’d said! But now? Now everything was different, everything had changed!
“Andy,” she said slowly, softly as if she were talking to a child. “Please, you have to believe me - I never approved! I never approved of these things, I - I was terrified...”
Narcissa was near tears. How often had she cried at night, praying it’d all be over, praying she’d see her again, once, just once. And now? Now that she was standing right next to her, what would she do?
“How many people has your husband killed?” Andromeda asked suddenly, before Narcissa could even open her mouth to speak.
“How many people had to suffer, died through his hand, while you just watched?”
Narcissa felt her heart break into a thousand pieces. Didn’t know what to say, didn’t even know whether to look at her or not. Once again Andromeda had hurt her, more than anything else, once again she seemed to lose all hold at once.
“What you say is not fair, Andromeda,” she whispered, her voice trembling so much that she could barely understand her own words.
“Not fair?” Andromeda repeated, looking up to her, looking deeply into her eyes… “Do you think everything that happened during the wars was fair? Ted could still be alive, and so could Dora! She was twenty-five years old when she died, Cissy, twenty-five! She was still a child! Tell me, how would you feel if your husband died for nothing? How would you feel if they took your husband from you, if they took your son from you, your only child! How would you feel if they just - left you alone, without a word of goodbye, if they left you behind with a child of whom you know that he will never know his parents?”
Tears had started to stream down her face as she spoke. As she came to Narcissa again, reaching out her hand as if she wanted to hit her, but instead she flung her arms around her neck, sobbing, crying against her shoulder like so many times before in their childhood.
Narcissa seemed paralysed. Paralysed by Andromeda’s outburst, by feeling her sister’s skin against hers, by feeling her tears wetting her clothes. Slowly, carefully she started to stroke over Andromeda’s back, over her hair, whispering things into her ear, comforting her, trying to calm her down.
She closed her eyes as she held her, remembered how close they’d once been, that they’d once been able to come to each other, under any circumstances, to talk, to comfort each other.
“Why did we allow this to happen to us, Andy?” she asked, barely audible.
Tears were streaming down her face as she turned away from her, unable to look at her any longer. She was ashamed of her own weakness, ashamed of her emotions, wouldn’t want her sister to see her cry.
Of course Andromeda had seen her cry, more than once, had held her in her arms countless times, comforting her when something had upset her. But now? Now she wouldn’t even be able to bear her sight. Was disgusted by even looking at her. She was angry, so incredibly angry! But at the same time so hurt…
How dared she? How dared she doing such a thing to her, after everything that happened, everything they’d gone through together!
“Cissy…” Andromeda whispered, her voice trembling. “Cissy, please… Look at me… Try to understand!”
“Understand!” Narcissa shouted out, unable, yet unwilling to keep control over her voice any longer. “You ask me to understand! No, Andromeda, I don’t understand, I don’t even want to understand!”
She covered her face with her hands, bit her lip until she tasted blood stream down her throat as she thought about the past few days, as she thought about how worried she’d been about her sister, how often she’d prayed that she’d be safe. But now? Now everything was different, had changed within only a few hours.
Seeing the wedding ring on Andromeda’s hand had made Narcissa sick, had made her want to turn around and run away, as fast as she could. To forget she’d ever had another sister than Bellatrix…
But how could she? How could she just forget, after everything that…
“I love him,” Andromeda said all of a sudden, interrupting her thoughts. Narcissa had almost started to laugh.
Love. As if they were supposed to care about things such as love, as if a Black ever married for love! Did she even know? Did Andromeda even know what she had done, how much shame she’d put on their family’s name? Of course people would talk, of course they’d point their fingers at them, whispering, gossiping about the Black girl who’d secretly married a Muggle-born.
Even the bare thought of her sister’s wedding, her husband made her want to scream, to… No. No, she’d not lose control any further, she’d not put any more shame on her family, not now, now that everything seemed to fall apart.
“Do you even know what you have done?” Narcissa asked her between clenched teeth, slowly, heavily breathing. “Do you even know what you did to us by marrying this… person?”
She wouldn’t expect an answer. Of course Andromeda didn’t, of course she’d had no idea about the consequences. But still, she’d come to her at night, begging her not to tell their parents, not to tell Bellatrix. She’d come to her, days after she’d left their home without a words, after she’d disappeared, leaving Narcissa behind in fear and worries about her.
She’d married. Andromeda had married although she’d once sworn she’d never enter into matrimony. Never… Narcissa wished she’d kept her vow, but now? Now it was too late. Everything seemed to be too late, no one would be able to save her any more.
“Leave now, Andromeda,” she said, terrified by the sound of her own voice, still refusing to look at her as if her sight would make her blind. But her sister wouldn’t move, carefully stroked over her shoulder. Her touch made Narcissa wince, made her gasp for breath…
Why? Why had she told her about her wedding, about everything? Had she really been naïve, foolish enough to assume it would make things better? But still, still she’d come to her at night, had entered her room in secret, as if she knew she was in danger…
Narcissa knew that she would never be able to see her again once she had left, knew that Andromeda had ruined everything. That she’d torn their family apart. Nothing would ever be like before, they’d never be able to call each other sisters again. Never.
But would she even want it, even if she could? Would Narcissa even want to call someone like Andromeda a sister? She was not a Black any more, no… She was a traitor. Nothing but a traitor.
Maybe they had once been friends, not only sister but friends, best friends, but now? Now…
Of course she still loved her. Of course Narcissa still loved her sister, more than anything else. Would always love her, no matter what happened, no matter about anything. But how could she still look at her, after everything she’d done? How could she still look at her, knowing Andromeda’s decision could kill them both?
If their parents found out what had happened, if Bella found out… Found out that she’d known about Andromeda’s wedding, that she’d known about everything and not told them… Narcissa wouldn’t even want to think about what they’d do to her.
“Leave, Andy,” she said again, much softer now. “Please. Before they see you…”
Finally Andromeda seemed to understand. Seemed to understand in what danger she’d put herself in, she’d put her sister in by coming back, by returning to her home. Seemed to understand what it meant for a black to have married a Muggle-born.
“I’m so sorry Cissy,” she whispered into her ear. Again Narcissa winced as she felt her breath against her skin. She closed her eyes, for no longer than a second, wanted to turn around again, wanted to look into her eyes, but she wouldn’t move. Wouldn’t be able to bear her sight, too disgusted by what Andromeda had done. A Black and a… No. No, she didn’t even want to think about it.
“It’s too late for apologies now,” she replied, quietly but firmly, feeling how anger slowly seemed to be coming back to her. So she was sorry. She was sorry for what she’d done, for what she’d done to her, to her family. Even if Andromeda’s words were sincere, they’d not make anything better, no, they wouldn’t change anything. She was sorry… Sorry…
No. Of course she wasn’t, of course she didn’t regret having made the decisions she’d made. She’d return to her husband, only a few hours later, would forget about everything Narcissa had said as soon as she closed her eyes. Would forget that she’d ever had sisters, that she’d ever had a family.
“How could I have been so foolish…” Narcissa asked herself, over and over again. How could she have been foolish enough to assume she’d love her, to assume she’d care about her? Even if Andromeda loved him, even if she loved him like she claimed to love him, she’d have forgotten about him, would’ve forced herself not to spend a thought on him any more! No… No, she didn’t care, didn’t care about any of them. So how dared she allege she cared? How dared she!
“I never meant to hurt you,” Andromeda said, as if she’d read her sister’s mind. Narcissa would have almost started to laugh.
“Are you really that naïve then?” she wanted to ask her, but bit her tongue. It wouldn’t be worth to provoke another fight, not now. Instead she remained quiet, just shook her head, barely noticeable.
“I see,” Andromeda whispered all of a sudden, as if she’d not bear the silence between them. As if it wouldn’t hurt Narcissa as well… As if it’d not break her heart as well, as if knowing they’d part in dispute wouldn’t kill her inside…
Of course they’d fought, more than once, of course they’d had plenty of arguments, but this? This was different. It all was different. They’d never lie into each other’s arms again, would never comfort each other again. No… From now on they’d be strangers, forced to pretend they’d never seen each other before in case they met on the street. Andromeda was not a Black any more. She was an outcast.
“You will never understand, Narcissa,” she finished her sentence, again letting her fingertips slider over Narcissa’s shoulder, again making her wince. Her touch burned like fire on her skin, but she wouldn’t move. Would be like a statue in the wind, standing still, staring straight ahead.
She wouldn’t even notice how Andromeda left, quiet as a ghost, how she closed the door behind her back, leaving her behind in an empty room, would be unable to move for minutes, maybe even hours… Only when she realized the room was empty she took a deep breath as she sank down to her knees, covered her face with her hands, crying, sobbing, not caring if anyone would hear her.
Andromeda had freed herself from Narcissa’s arms, had taken a step back to look at her, her light brown eyes still filled with tears.
“Why are you here, Cissy?” she asked, with almost the same softness in her voice Narcissa knew from their youth. “We both know that it won’t be like before again. We can’t just go on where we stopped, pretending nothing happened. We’re not girls any more. Twenty-seven years is such a long time.”
Slowly Narcissa sank down on a chair opposite to her sister, briefly looked up to her before she turned away again. Of course they couldn’t. Even if they tried, it would be impossible. No, they were not girls any more, they’d grown up, changed, changed more than Narcissa dared to assume. It was different now, everything was different. So why? Why had she come here? Why had she come to see her?
“Because I missed you,” she wanted to say, opened her mouth, but no sound would escape from her lips. Yes, yes she’d missed her, more than anything else; had dreamed of her, woken up in the middle of the night crying, even now, even after so many years had passed. But to whom would she ever have been able to talk to? Whom could she have told about her dreams, about how much she missed her sister? No one.
“Andy,” she whispered, still unsure of what to say, unsure of what to do. “What - What Bella did, I…”
Andromeda just shook her head, interrupting her before she’d even known how to continue her sentence. Wouldn’t reply. Of course she wouldn’t. It was Narcissa now who seemed unable to bear the silence between them, like Andromeda so many years before.
Narcissa had closed her eyes, covered her mouth with her hands. It had been a mistake to come here, to assume looking into her sister’s eyes again would ease the pain. She wanted to rise, wanted to leave the room, to leave the house and never come back, finally forgetting what she’d been supposed to forget in the night Andromeda had told her about her wedding.
But she couldn’t. She heard Andromeda sigh as she sat down as well. Neither of them would speak a word, they’d not even look at each other.
“I - I forgave you Andy,” Narcissa said eventually, hardly able to keep control over her emotions any more. “Long ago.”
Andromeda just laughed, a quiet, disappointed laugh. Sighed again. “I wish you’d understand,” she whispered, more to herself as it seemed. The sadness in her voice seemed to almost break Narcissa’s heart. “I wish you’d finally understand that it’s not about blood and its purity. That - that there’s nothing wrong with marrying for love. Tell me, do you love him? Do you love Lucius? Or did you just marry him because you were supposed to?”
Narcissa wouldn’t reply.
Her entire body was trembling as she entered her sister’s room; as she flung her arms around her neck, not speaking a word, crying against her shoulder.
Andromeda wouldn’t ask her what happened, would just hold her, gently stroking over her hair until she’d calmed down, until her breath had normalized, until she finally seemed able to speak again.
“He cheated on me,” Narcissa whispered, over and over again, her voice husky. “He - Andy, I saw him! I saw him kissing that girl-”
She broke off. Just shook her head, again sobbing, unable to believe what she’d seen. What he’d done to her, knowing he’d break her heart, knowing how much it would hurt her.
“They were just kissing Cissy,” Andromeda said against her ear, still holding her in her arms, seeming unwilling to ever let her go again. “Maybe he…”
But Narcissa shook her head, again, wouldn’t even let her sister finish the sentence. She knew it’d not just been a kiss, knew how he’d looked at her. Tears were still flowing down her face, wetting Andromeda’s cloak, but she wouldn’t care. Not now, not that…
“He - he knows I’m in love with him,” she stammered between sobs. “He always knew! But I saw his expression as I caught them. I saw how he looked at her, as if - as if he loved her! He’s never looked at me like this, Andy. Never!”
Never had Narcissa felt such unspeakable pain before. Never had she felt her heart break, break into a thousand pieces. Why? She asked herself, over and over again. Why had he done such a thing to her, knowing he’d hurt her, knowing he’d tear her apart?
“Leave him,” Andromeda said all of a sudden. Narcissa’s eyes widened, she gasped for breath, bit her lip. Had Andromeda really - didn’t she know it’d only make things worse? Didn’t she know that, if Narcissa left him, if…
She wouldn’t even dare to finish her thought. “I can’t…” she whispered into her sister’s ear. As if she ever would, even if she could. Even if it was possible!
“We’re going to marry. I - I can’t just leave him!”
Andromeda’s laugh terrified her. Made her wince. It was a cold, sarcastic laugh, a laugh she only knew from Bella.
“Marrying? You’re too young to marry, both of you,” her sister said angrily. “Narcissa, you’re sixteen years old! How can you even think about marriage yet?”
Narcissa wouldn’t reply. How could she not think about marriage? How could she not think about an appropriate husband, even about children? Hadn’t she been forced to worry about these questions her entire life? Hadn’t she been raised, hadn’t they all been raised like this?
“What about Bella?” she asked after some time had passed, still lying in her arms but desperately trying to avoid her sister’s gaze.
“Do you really think Bella is happy?” Andromeda replied.
Even if she wasn’t. Even if Bellatrix wasn’t happy, what choice did she have? What choice did they all have? They were Blacks, all three of them. Forced to remain strong, under any circumstances, forced to never lose control.
And wasn’t she lucky? Couldn’t she call herself lucky to have found a man she loved? Even if he’d not return her love, wasn’t she-
“I can’t keep you from doing what you think you’re supposed to do,” Andromeda said quietly, took a small step back, now looked deeply into Narcissa’s eyes. “But do you really think it will get better? Cissy, please, don’t be a fool. He will never be faithful to you, he will always hurt you and the more time passes the more he’ll break your heart. He - he doesn’t deserve you.”
She sighed as she turned away from Narcissa, ready to leave the room. “I’ll go for a quick walk. I need some fresh air.”
Slowly Narcissa wiped away her tears, taking a deep breath. “Andy,” she whispered, not wanting her to leave, to leave her behind alone. Not now. Andromeda seemed to hesitate for a moment until she turned to her sister again.
Neither of them spoke a word, they just looked at each other, silently. Until Narcissa wrapped her arms around her sister’s body again, again pulling her in a close embrace. She’d never want to let her go, not now, not that she needed her more than anything else, the only person she’d ever been able to talk to.
Even if Andromeda was right, even if everything she said was true, both of them knew that she didn’t have another choice. No one would care about her emotions, about how she felt, about -
Stop it, Narcissa. You can’t change what’s not supposed to be changed. It’s only your blood that matters. Not yourself.
“I love you,” she whispered into her ear, sighed, a quiet, sad sigh. Felt how Andromeda’s fingertips slowly stroked over her hair.
“I love you too my little girl,” she replied.
“Promise me you’ll never leave me,” Narcissa couldn’t suppress another sob as she spoke out the words, her voice trembling. Even the bare thought of her sister leaving her made her sick, made her want to scream, to cry like she’d never cried before… She couldn’t lose her, no! No, she couldn’t!
“I promise, Cissy. Never.”
“You broke your promise,” Narcissa said quietly, staring down at the floor. Only a second later she looked up again, looked directly into her sister’s eyes. “You left me. Only a few months after you swore you-”
She’d not finish her sentence and quickly wiped over her eyes, not wanting her sister to see her cry. Andromeda just shook her head, slowly, barely noticeable.
“I never left you, Cissy,” she replied, her voice no more than a whisper. “Only our parents. How could I have ever wanted to leave you? I admit, I hadn’t thought of the consequences. But never would I have left you on purpose. Never. Do you really think I could bear leaving you?”
Narcissa sighed, a quiet, sad sigh. Even if Andromeda’s words were sincere, even if she spoke the truth, how would they make things better? How would they change anything, now that it was too late? Now, that almost everything seemed to be too late?
“You should have known that it wouldn’t be this easy,” she said to her sister, desperately trying not to sound hurt, hurt still by what her sister had done so many years ago. “Merlin, Andy! Our parents would have never allowed me to see you, even if -”
She broke off. Even if I wanted. No. No, she wouldn’t finish her sentence, not now. Seeing the pain in Andromeda’s eyes, seeing how much she’d suffered broke her heart, would even make her forget about the mistakes they’d both made, about how angry she’d been at Andromeda after she’d left.
“I was young,” Andromeda said all of a sudden. “Foolish. I wanted nothing more than to escape. You knew our parents, Cissy, I - I just couldn’t bear all this any more. I was desperate, so desperate!”
Narcissa swallowed hard and bit her lip, unable to believe what she heard. Andromeda had never told her about this, had never told her about how much she’d really suffered. Of course she’d known about her sister’s problems, of course Andy had come to her in tears, sobbing, crying because of their parents, had come to her more than once, but had they really broken her that much?
All of a sudden she seemed to understand, understand so much she’d never understood, so much!
How often had she come to her in the middle of the night, crying, how often had Andromeda held her in her arms, how often had she comforted her, although she’d been so desperate herself? She’d always been there for her, but never expected anything in return.
Narcissa covered her face with her hands, ashamed of her behaviour. Why had she never asked? Why had she never looked closer, why?
Had it been her fault? Had all this been her fault?
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered over and over again, shaking her head. Her last desperate attempts to hold back her tears failed and she could barely suppress a sob. Once again it was Andromeda who came to her, slowly wrapping her arms around her body to comfort her, whispering things, waiting until she’d calmed down again.
“Did you love him?” Narcissa asked eventually, not even noticing these words would escape from her mouth. If she had-?
“More than I loved myself,” she answered after some time had passed. Looked her sister, smiled, a gentle but at the same time incredibly sad smile. Narcissa noticed that her eyes were filled with tears again.
“You’re still as beautiful as you were as a girl,” she whispered, reaching out her hand as if she were seeking her touch. Narcissa couldn’t suppress a wince as she felt Andromeda’s fingertips against her back of the hand, as she felt her skin on hers. Looked down to their connected hands, laughed, a quiet, sad laugh.
“Beautiful?” she repeated. “No…”
The war had marked her, had marked them all. Her once so beautiful, piercing blue eyes had lost any glow, her long blonde hair had lost it’s shine. Deep shadows loomed beneath her eyes as a result of numerous restless nights. Nights so full of worries, so full of despair.
Slowly she raised her head, finally looking at Andromeda for longer than just a few seconds. The years had left their mark on her as well, of course they had. Narcissa would never forget about the moment her sister had opened the door, the moment she’d seen her for the first time after so many years, would never forget about how terrified she’d been about how much Andromeda had changed.
She was so beautiful still, but yet so broken, so-
“I missed you, Andy,” she whispered, all of a sudden, could barely suppress a gasp as she realized what she’d just said. Andromeda closed her eyes and sobbed, a quiet, dry sob; she softly stroked over her sister’s cheek.
“I missed you too, Cissy,” she replied, barely audible.
Silence followed. Neither of them seemed to know what to say, but it wasn’t necessary to speak. Of course Narcissa knew that it was impossible to just go on where they’d stopped so many years ago, of course she knew it’d never be like before, but hadn’t all this-
You’re dreaming too much, Narcissa, a voice told her in her head, all of a sudden. You’ve always dreamed too much. And what did you get? Nothing. You got nothing.
Yes. Yes, Narcissa had always been a dreamer, but the war had changed her. It had made her forget about her wishes, about her dreams; had made her forget about too much, but never about her sister. Even if Bellatrix had tried to force her, even if she’d tried to force her to forget, not caring about how much she’d hurt her, it had been impossible.
“Bella did too,” she said absent-mindedly, speaking slowly, quietly. “She - she missed you, too.”
Andromeda shook her head. “She didn’t.”
“More than you might think, Andy,” Narcissa whispered, carefully removing a strand of hair from her sister’s face.
Of course Bellatrix had never admitted it. Of course she’d never admitted what she felt, had never admitted how much Andromeda’s leaving had hurt her, how much she missed her. But Narcissa had seen it in her eyes, had seen how she’d winced when someone had mentioned their sister’s name, how she’d closed her eyes, for no longer than a second, desperately fighting against herself, against her own weakness, desperately trying to keep control.
“Cissy,” Andromeda said quietly, stroking over her back of the hand, looking at her as if she were a child. “I know you always tried to hold us together, I know these attempts almost broke you, but it was impossible. Bella and I had fallen apart, Cissy, long before I left.”
Her sister’s words burned, burned like fire, but Narcissa knew that she was right. She knew that she’d never been able to keep them together, no matter about how much she’d tried. No matter about how desperate she’d been.
“We just had each other, Andy,” she replied, looking deeply into her eyes. “You know our parents never cared, about any of us. We…”
She broke off.
Hours had passed since their parents had left the house, without any words of goodbye. It had already gotten dark as Narcissa opened the door to her room. She knew they’d fought again, had heard them scream, shout at each other, until they’d become silent, all of a sudden. Silence had seemed to crush her, to drown her, to….
She’d wanted nothing more than to run away, than to just run away and never look back. But how could she? How could she even dare to think of leaving them, of leaving her sisters? Weren’t they all she had? Weren’t they everything she was able to hold on to, didn’t they have anything else but each other?
Narcissa had not even noticed that she’d headed for Andromeda’s room, that she’d knocked at her door, entering without waiting for her sister’s response. Only when she saw her, lying on her bed, staring at the wall, did she come back to reality.
“Andy?” she asked carefully, slowly sitting down on the edge of her bed. “Are you all right?”
Andromeda didn't reply and remained motionless, not showing any reaction to her sister’s words, not even at her touch, as if she didn't notice her presence.
“You fought again,” Narcissa said, and it wasn’t a question. She looked deeply into her sister’s eyes, her beautiful, light brown eyes that were expressionless, still wet, seeming to be staring right through her.
“Merlin, Andy, can’t you two just-”
She didn't finish her sentence, didn’t even know what to say, what to think. How many times had she cried herself to sleep already, her hands pressed against her ears, trying to ignore her sister’s shouts, forcing herself not to bother, not to worry about them. But how could she? How could she just ignore all these things happening, how could she even try to forget?
“What was it about?” she asked, but still, Andromeda didn't reply. Narcissa sighed, a quiet, sad sigh. She’d not force her to speak, no. But she worried, of course she worried. Her sister seemed completely apathetic, as if she’d gone into a trance. Carefully she sat her up, pulling her into her arms.
“You know how she is, Andy,” she whispered into her ear. “You know how Bella is. You can’t stop her once she’s gotten angry. She says things she doesn’t mean to say. I know she doesn’t mean to hurt you, but she just doesn’t think.”
No response. Narcissa felt how Andromeda’s tears slowly started to wet her clothes, noticed that her sister had closed her eyes, slowly started to stroke over her hair, quietly, not speaking a word, waiting until she’d fallen asleep.
She couldn’t suppress a quiet sigh. She closed her eyes as well, shaking her head. Why her? Why did it have to be her to hold them together? To hold it all together? Couldn’t they see that it broke her? That they were about to ruin everything they had? Of course not.
Narcissa took a deep breath, trying to distract herself from these thoughts, from what had happened. Sometimes even she forgot that she was just a girl, nothing but a- That it should be her to be protected, to be held at night, that it should be her sisters to take care of her.
Instead it was her to- Narcissa didn't even finish her thought. She knew they hated each other, of course she knew that Andromeda and Bellatrix hated each other, knew that all they could do was fight, shout - but weren’t they sisters, too? Weren’t they family, weren’t-
No. It was pointless, would always remain the same, no matter about what happened. Maybe they were too different, maybe even too similar, Narcissa did not know and did not even want to know. Perhaps it would just be best to resign and finally accept the given.
Andromeda sobbed in her sleep, would only calm down as Narcissa placed a soft kiss on her forehead. She opened her eyes, just to close them again, all of a sudden overwhelmed by tiredness, overwhelmed by sleep.
“I should go,” Narcissa said, all of a sudden, rising from her chair. “It’s late, I - I don’t want to bother you any longer, I’m sure you’re tired.”
Briefly she glanced at the cradle and could even hear the baby’s deep, quiet breaths if she closed her eyes, focused. Had it been a mistake? Had it been a mistake to come here, to come to see her sister? She did not know, did not know anything. Maybe she was right, maybe Andromeda was right, maybe they had changed too much. Hadn’t they just been girls? Hadn’t they just been-
Even if Andromeda had eventually been willing to see her, even if she had been willing to talk to her, had Narcissa’s visit changed anything? Of course not. It’d been pointless, selfish, had just hurt them both.
Narcissa sighed, a quiet, sad sigh as she headed for the door and didn’t even notice her sister following her. She gasped for breath as she turned around one last time, found Andromeda standing right next to her, looking at her, her face expression inscrutable. Quickly Narcissa turned away from her, wrapping her arms around her body as if she were freezing.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, barely audible. Winced as she felt her sister’s hand on her shoulder.
“What for?” Andromeda asked, her voice so soft that it would almost bring tears to Narcissa’s eyes.
“I shouldn’t have come,” she replied, reaching out for the door handle but Andromeda held her back.
“It’s a process, Cissy,” she said quietly as if she’d read her mind, slowly turned her around, gently forcing her to look at her and look into her eyes again…
“I wish it was that easy, but we can’t just go on where we stopped, too much has happened during the past years. It takes time, Cissy.”
Narcissa bit her lip as she heard Andromeda’s words. As she felt her hand against her skin, caressing her like she’d caressed her so many years ago when they’d still been girls. A process… Maybe they weren’t all lost, maybe they’d heal, would heal together one day.
For a moment they just stood there, looking at each other, once again looking at each other, silently, not speaking a word. Her sister’s eyes seemed to tell Narcissa that it had not been a mistake, that it’d been right to come, that all would be well. They’d just need time. Time…
Finally she turned around, away from Andromeda, again reaching for the door handle. A part of her didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to leave her once again, but she knew it’d be time to go. Knew that this was different from what had happened so many years ago, different from everything she’d feared would happen as she’d found herself knocking at Andromeda’s door.
“Cissy,” her sister said, causing her to look back again, to see a barely noticeable, shy smile forming on her lips.
“Yes?” she asked, her tone of voice encouraging her to speak out whatever she wanted to speak out. Andromeda seemed to hesitate, for just a second, but then took a step forward, looking at Narcissa, looking right into her eyes.
“Would… Would you like to see me for dinner some day?”
Now it was Narcissa's turn to smile and almost start to laugh, a quiet, relieved laugh. She closed her eyes for a moment, just to briefly look into Andromeda’s face again, one last time before she’d leave, returning to the world she’d lived in alone, without her sister, forced to pretend she did not exist. A world she’d lived in for too long before she’d finally dared to break the silence.
“I would love to, Andy,” she said quietly.