Characters: Bellatrix/Narcissa, past Andromeda/Narcissa
Word Count: 4523
Warnings: Implied Incest, Murder, Suicide
Disclaimer: Harry Potter characters are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Her sister's cruel demands terrify Narcissa, but most of all she terrifies herself for still being completely and utterly in love with her.
Author's Notes: This was written for the amazing scarletladyy at the hpholiday fest 2013. Thank you so much to Kristine/flipflop_diva for the beta! <3
Night had fallen fast. It was dark; darker than usual, clouds were covering the stars and even the moon seemed to hide as if to support their perilous undertaking. Their sister would kill them both if she caught them, but what other chance did they have? What other chance did she have?
It all was ready. She only had to leave now, leave and never look back. Tears were streaming down Narcissa's face like a waterfall as she whispered quiet protection spells over Andromeda, who seemed to desperately avoid looking into her eyes. How much she wanted to hold her back, how much she wanted her to change her mind, but she knew that it was too late. Had there been a battle, it was lost. Andromeda was lost.
Narcissa took a step back when Andromeda came to her one last time, shook her head when she reached out her arms to embrace her one last time, as a farewell.
"Don't," Narcissa said, her voice quiet and yet cold. All of a sudden she was ashamed of her tears, so ashamed of the weakness that had overwhelmed her so fast, so unexpectedly, that she found no chance to fight against it.
It was wrong to let her go, she knew, wrong to help her, wrong to cry. It was wrong to allow her to betray their family and close her eyes to it, as though Andromeda had not trusted her with such a terrible secret, as though she were unaware of everything. She, too, put herself in great danger by allowing her to leave, by protecting her, but what could she do? Her hands were tied; she knew she had no chance to hold her back. None of them did. They weren't able to control her, no matter how much they desired to; she was a Black after all, and a Black was not to be tamed.
"Go now," Narcissa said, giving a deep, quiet sigh. "Dawn will break soon."
Andromeda sighed as well, briefly taking Narcissa's hand before she could pull it back, squeezing it gently. Andromeda's eyes, too, were glistening now; she took a deep breath, opened her mouth only to close it again a second later, slowly shaking her head. How sad she looked at this moment…
Narcissa knew what she wanted to say, knew that she wanted to speak out the words they both knew were not true, the words that she was so desperate to believe, the words that broke her heart. They weren't sisters any longer.
They once had loved one another fiercely; from now on they would be forced to pretend they were strangers. They once had known each other better than anyone else; now, if their paths ever crossed once more, they would look into each other's eyes and see nothing. There'd be no expression, no joy or sadness, no hint of familiarity. Nothing… It was over. Everything was over.
"Go," Narcissa repeated, almost softly, not being able to prevent her voice from breaking. Again, she sighed. If Andromeda were to hesitate now, they'd both be lost. Even the bare imagination of…
But Andromeda didn't hesitate any longer, finally turned around as though she were trying to hold back her sobs. One last time she looked back, her lips forming a silent "Goodbye."
"Take care of yourself, Andy," Narcissa whispered, long after her sister had disappeared into the darkness, leaving her behind in the room alone.
Seven years later
"You love me, Cissy, don't you?" she breathed between kisses, pulling Narcissa's body even closer into her arms, as if she never wanted to let go of her again. Narcissa did not have a chance to respond, only nodded and gave in to her, like she always gave in, never refusing her. She wouldn't dare to refuse her sister.
Of course Narcissa loved her. Of course she loved Bellatrix in a way she loved nobody else. But sometimes… Sometimes, she terrified her, more than she dared to admit. It was her eyes mostly, her beautiful black eyes that would rest on her, dangerously glistening in the dark. It was the look on her face that allowed no contradiction.
"I love you," she muttered, closing her eyes to feel her, just to feel her, to feel her hands pressed against her skin, her long curls gently tickling her neck… In this moment she was hers, and hers alone.
It seemed that for hours silence filled the room; neither of them spoke a word. It was a beautiful silence, soothing, magical, a silence that felt special, different to anything else she knew, to anything else she had ever experienced. It was always like this when they were together; different, dangerous and yet so exciting.
In her arms, Narcissa would forget about everything — her fears, her worries, her duties. She would forget about her nightmares, about how a part of her would always be missing, would, for a while, even forget about how much she missed the third of them, the middle sister whose name Bellatrix had forced her to swear never to speak out again.
"I want you to do me a favour, my love," Bellatrix said all of a sudden, so unexpectedly that it caused Narcissa to wince with surprise. Quickly Narcissa opened her eyes to look at her, bit her lip in order to suppress a gasp for breath. Had Bellatrix been so gentle before, now everything seemed to be forgotten. Her voice was still quiet, yet it had become hard and cold, her touch, once so soft, had intensified, was now firm, leaving behind deep red marks on her skin. There it was again, the look within her eyes that Narcissa feared more than anything else about her sister, the expression that for a second seemed to paralyse her.
"What is it?" she wanted to ask, but Bellatrix seemed to have read her thoughts, slowly shook her head as she put a finger on Narcissa's lips before she could open her mouth to speak.
"You know what it is," she whispered, softly and yet threateningly, in an undertone so menacing that a shiver ran down Narcissa's spine. Indeed she knew now, indeed she merely had to close her eyes in order to see everything right before her, to once again be forced into a desperate attempt to keep her breath calm and slow in order not to make her sister notice the fear that assumed control over her even at the bare imagination of the things she demanded of her.
Still, Narcissa asked, hoarsely and quietly, barely audible even to herself. She dreaded the answer, even if deep inside she knew the answer already, silently prayed that she was mistaken.
There it was, her smile. Bellatrix's dreadful smile that resembled a terrible grimace, her eyes widely opened, glinting with sheer thirst for blood. She didn't reply, not for a long time, seemed to savour the horror that had now so visibly overcome Narcissa that she found herself incapable of hiding it.
How hard it was to believe that only minutes ago everything had still been all right, that for a moment Narcissa had been happy. How hard it was to believe that only one sentence had been able to change it all, that one word that was never spoken out but merely thought had contained so much power.
Revenge. Of course Bellatrix wanted revenge. What else could it be? It was always the same, the sudden change of her voice, her expression… But never had she done this to her before, never had she looked at her in the way she was looking at her now, never had she asked, commanded what she silently was commanding in this moment…
Narcissa was not weak. She had buried parents and a husband long before her twenty-fifth birthday, had lost a sister, had experienced more in the war than she would dare to speak out. And while she would never cease to see women fall apart by the weight of their grief, long ago she'd made a silent vow never to become one of them. No matter how much she mourned the loss of those she loved the most, no matter how deep she fell, she'd always go on, would never allow herself to give up. But she, too, needed someone to hold on to; she, too, sometimes felt incapable of coping with her life.
Bellatrix was all she had left — her sister, her love. She'd always comfort her, would always be there for her, make her feel safe, and still… Still… Would she be able to deny what was asked of her? Would she be able to, for the first time, refuse her sister? Would she…
Of course not.
"Who?" Narcissa asked again, her voice trembling now. She was terrified, terrified of her sister's response, terrified of what she would do for her sister, willing or not. Sometimes it felt as though she were completely and utterly in thrall to her, sometimes it felt as though her love for Bellatrix was stronger than anything else, even stronger than her mind. She wasn't weak… She wasn't weak!
Bellatrix laughed quietly, coldly, took both Narcissa's hands into hers, firmly, as if to prevent her from running away. She leaned forward, came close to her, closer and closer, until her lips nearly touched Narcissa's ear. Then she finally spoke out the name, no louder than a whisper.
She wasn't their sister anymore.
No. Narcissa wanted nothing more than to shout, to scream at her, wanted nothing more than to refuse. No… No, no, no, no, no! It was impossible; impossible! No matter how many times she repeated the words, silently, only within her thoughts, no matter how many times she told herself that Andromeda wasn't their sister anymore, that she had betrayed them, betrayed them all, it would still seem so surreal to her, almost like a dream, a terrible dream…
It was cruel of Bellatrix to demand such a thing of her, cruel for Bellatrix to look at her and speak out the words, fully aware of the incredible pain they caused her. Narcissa knew that she had no choice. She knew that it wasn't a favour her sister asked for, knew that it was an order, knew that she would be forced to obey.
Still, she covered her face with her hands, slowly shook her head. "I… Bella, I can't do this…" she whispered, quickly biting her lip, regretting only a second later having spoken out the words. She gasped with pain when her sister dug her fingers into her flesh, firmly, angrily, denying her the chance to move, to escape.
"You will," Bellatrix said, her voice cold and dangerously quiet. "Because in case you assume that I am unaware of you helping the little blood traitor escape, you are mistaken, sweetheart… Very much mistaken…"
It felt as though Narcissa's blood had frozen within her veins. Was this the moment she had dreaded for so many years? Had Bellatrix merely waited until she found her dependent on her, and now she would destroy her, slowly and painfully, would take revenge on her for something that was supposed to be long forgotten? How much she scared her, how much she terrified her right in this moment… And how much Narcissa terrified herself for still loving her.
She was not weak… Narcissa was not weak! She wasn't dependent on her; she didn't need her! There was a chance to refuse; there was a chance to break free… She was not weak… But why did she still submit to her, why did she still love her, adore her more than anything else? Why…
There were no more words needed, only a brief glance into her sister's eyes. Still, she shook her head, over and over again, as if she had gone into a trance-like state, a state of numbness that she did not want to wake up from.
"I can't…" she whispered again, finding her whole body to be shaking. Bellatrix had let go of her, as though she were certain of her victory. Still, a part of Narcissa just wanted to run away, to escape from everything like Andromeda once escaped before it had been too late. But she stayed. Of course she stayed, so afraid and yet so…
She wasn't their sister anymore. Had not been for years; their connection had fallen apart long ago, long before she had left. She wasn't their sister anymore!
Bellatrix's cruel smile faded when she handed Narcissa the dagger, slowly and solemnly. But Narcissa's hands weren't strong enough to hold it,; she could barely wrap her fingers around the handle, winced in pain when she felt it slip away from her, leaving behind a long, deep red cut on her palm. She knew she was trapped, knew she had no choice, desperately tried to hold back her tears now. But she couldn't; couldn't keep up her composure any longer.
Quickly she rose, wanting to leave the room only for a moment to regain control at least over her breathing. But her sister rose as well, intending to follow her like a shadow; she wasn't going to leave her alone, not for a minute, not for a second. Narcissa had barely taken a step forward when she stumbled, dizzy, blinded by her tears. Another step and she fell, broke down within Bellatrix's arms, giving in.
For hours, Narcissa stood there on the street, right before the gate that separated her from Andromeda's property, dagger and wand hidden deep within her cloak. By then she had realised that it meant either her sister's life or her own, didn't dare to imagine what Bellatrix would do to them both if she failed. Perhaps it was for the best if it would be her to do it, perhaps she'd spare Andromeda unspeakable pain if…
Nightfall had brought snow with it; thick flocks were falling down from the sky, covering the world in a pure and tenuous white veil. Maybe it would be able to hide the terrible deed she was about to commit out of sheer weakness, perhaps it would purify the world from the blood that would flow in this night and stick to her hands forever.
This was madness, sheer madness, impossible even to imagine. How would Narcissa ever be capable of taking revenge on someone she had loved more than she had ever been allowed to love, how would she ever be capable of harming her, of putting her life to an end in such a dreadful way?
She was not their sister anymore…
Of course she was. No matter what they said, Andromeda would always be a Black, would always be her sister, would always be a part of her. She'd rather endure a thousand torments than to kill her, would be willing to sacrifice her own life in exchange for hers. No matter how much agony would await her, she'd endure it all and even more if only it meant release from what she dreaded more than anything else.
"It's so easy, Cissy…" Bellatrix's voice whispered right behind her, all of a sudden. Narcissa could barely suppress a scream, quickly turned around to look into her sister's eyes, only to feel how fear and confusion began to fully assume control over her once again. She had followed her. She had followed her!
"So easy…" her sister repeated, reaching out her hand to touch her cheek. "Either you are going to kill the blood traitor… Or I will. It is your choice whether or not you want to give her a dignified death."
Quickly, before Narcissa had a chance to reply, Bellatrix's fingers grasped around her wrist, pulling her closer to her body to kiss her, roughly at first but then, merely a second later, so lovingly and so gently like she had never kissed her before. Once again she took Narcissa's breath away; once again she seemed to take away fear and worry at a stride. Once again their bodies seemed to melt together as one and for a moment, everything seemed to be forgotten, even her regrets, even her pain, even her doubts.
If only she would never leave her… If only Bellatrix would stay with her as long as she lived, if only they would never be separated again… In this second she was willing to do everything for her.
She was not weak…
It all had gone too fast. Bellatrix had disappeared into the darkness as soon as she had let go of her, as quietly as she had come, had left Narcissa alone with a sudden determination. How foolish had she been, mourning the loss of a sister for nearly a decade, how ridiculous were her qualms.
In this moment it felt as though a single kiss had changed her entire world. One kiss had opened her eyes; one kiss had finally made her see clearly. One kiss had made her realise how blind she'd been over all those years. She wouldn't hesitate any longer; felt anger seething within her. For too long had she pretended not to care, for too long had she lied to herself, firmly holding onto her foolish belief that she had forgiven her.
But she hadn't forgiven her, had merely suppressed her emotions that now uncontrollably burst out of her, took possession over her body and mind, drove her sheer insane.
She'd left them. Andromeda had left them all behind, had betrayed them, disgraced their name, put shame on them all. And still she'd gotten to be happy? Still she'd gotten to have everything Narcissa had lost, still she'd lived a life that none of them could even have dared to dream about? She'd taken what they had been denied, had had no regards for her family, using force to gain a freedom that took its toll on all of them as if it were due to her and her alone. No… No, there was only one thing due to her. Punishment.
It would be so easy, Bellatrix had promised her, her eyes burning at the sheer thought. She'd only have to wait. A single stab would be enough, she said, then the dagger's poison would already be spreading within her body, unstoppable and deadly. How terrified Narcissa had been, but now? Now, she gently stroked over the blade almost lovingly, closing her eyes to imagine that, soon, everything would be over.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a woman's voice; a voice so familiar to her, and yet so strange, so close and yet so far away. It was hers. Of course it was Andromeda's; who else would know her name; who else would speak it out so full of surprise, and yet so full of sadness? Who else would leave the house at such a hurried pace, who else would…
All of a sudden, she was blind. Narcissa was blind, blinded by the fear that had creepingly returned to her. All of a sudden, she lost control, completely lost control over herself in the moment that mattered the most. How much she despised herself. How much she disgusted herself! So weak, so incredibly weak…
A single stab. A single stab was enough…
It took no longer than a second. Quickly her hand slid out of her cloak's pocket, quickly she shoved the blade into what she believed to be Andromeda's stomach, merely relying on her ears. She could hear her gasp for breath, her quiet moans, dared not move until they fell quiet. Soon they did, way too soon. She was dead.
Dead. Dead… Andromeda was dead!
Suddenly, it felt as though Narcissa were choking. Suddenly, she realised what she had done, suddenly she wanted nothing more than to run away, far away from here, far away from herself. But she was unable to move, unable even to stand, and she slowly sank down to the floor right next to Andromeda's body, uncontrollably trembling.
She had killed her. She'd killed her sister, her own sister! How could she have dared to believe what she'd believed, how could she have dared to obey Bellatrix, how could she have dared to assume it would be for the best? It should have been her to die and not Andromeda, it should always have been her!
What had she done? What had she done… What had she done!?!? Tears streamed down her face incessantly, mingling together with Andromeda's blood on the pavement. Never would she be able to forgive herself, never! Never…
"You did the right thing," Bellatrix whispered out of nowhere, causing Narcissa to wince, to cover her ears with both hands, and scream, to scream at the top of her lungs, not caring if anybody heard her. No! No, it wasn't right, it wasn't the right thing! Why had she given in, why had she allowed herself to give in to her? Why had she believed her?
Narcissa was freezing, shivering, but still she could only lie there as though she were paralysed, didn't notice anything around her, not the shouts, not the voices, only the cold that slowly seemed to turn body and soul into ice. She knew what it meant, knew it all. The Dementors were coming.
"It's true," Narcissa whispered over and over again, burying her face deep within her hands. They had taken her with them, brought her to a small room within the prison's walls, screamed questions at her that she found herself incapable of answering. It was true… It was true! She was a murderer, nothing but a murderer. Filthy. Worthless.
Even Azkaban was not punishment enough for her, not for the odious crime she had committed. She deserved death, and death alone.
Still, they talked to her, still they spoke out words she didn't understand, so forcefully as if they were trying to adjure her to look up, to at least defend herself. But what else could she say? What could she do to defend herself, if she did not want to be defended, did not want to be saved?
Narcissa didn't notice how the door opened, how another person stepped into the room, causing the men to fall silent immediately. Only when the voice resounded within the walls did she awake from her trance, gasping for breath with fright. It was impossible. Impossible! She wasn't there, couldn't be there, not after… It was her mind fooling her, merely her imagination, playing a cruel game…
But there it was again, her voice; there she stood, only a step away from her, her soft brown eyes firmly resting on her. There she stood…
"She's innocent," Andromeda repeated coldly, closing the door behind her back. Narcissa couldn't suppress a wince, quickly turned her head, staring at the floor, never wanting to look into her eyes again.
"No," she muttered, barely audible, her voice breaking, biting her lip until she tasted the blood flowing down her throat. "No…"
How was it possible? How could she be there, how could she be with her, right with her, unharmed? Hadn't she felt her blood billow from the wound, stream down her hands? Hadn't she heard her body hit the pavement, hadn't she fallen down next to her barely a second later?
"It was the Imperius Curse," Andromeda continued, not allowing anybody to interrupt her. "I know my sister well; she wasn't herself tonight. Someone must have hexed her, ordering her to kill me, but in the dark, she mistook my servant for myself."
Silence. For a moment, there was nothing but silence, burning silence. Narcissa only shook her head, slowly shook her head. It had not been her… It had not been her sister, it…
As if it would change anything.
"Do you have enemies, Mrs Tonks?" one of the men asked her, finally breaking the silence. Andromeda only laughed, a quiet, sad laugh.
"Of course I do," she replied. "But then… Who doesn't have enemies in times like these? If you would excuse me now, I need to look after my sister. You surely noticed already that she is not well."
Andromeda reached out her arm to take Narcissa's wrist, slowly, carefully, helped her rise, holding her, supporting her, preventing her from falling as she lead her out of the office. Narcissa didn't refuse, silently allowed it to happen, even though her touch took her breath away, even though she was barely able to move.
Why had she saved her? Why had she saved her, after everything she'd done, why was she still holding her so tightly and gently, now that they were far away from Azkaban? Andromeda knew that Narcissa had not been cursed, of course she knew, would be foolish if she didn't. She knew that Bellatrix had pulled the strings as though Narcissa were a doll, and yet she'd not lost a word about her. Why had she saved her? Why had she…
"Now we're even," Andromeda whispered into her ear eventually, her voice soft and loving as it had always been, showing no hint of bitterness, no hint of anger but only worry. Worry and sheer sadness.
Murderer… Murderer! She was nothing but a murderer! Even if her sister was alive, even if she was there, right there with her at this very moment, Narcissa knew that she was alone, would be alone forever. Andromeda would leave her again as soon as dawn broke, and Bellatrix? Bellatrix, whom she'd needed more than anything else, Bellatrix, who'd only waited to make her suffer, to cause her pain going far beyond her endurance for what she called a betrayal… What would she do to her, if she returned? What…
Nothing. Bellatrix would do nothing to her, would welcome her with a smile as though nothing had happened, would delight in her torments and still come to her night by night, cradling her to sleep like a child.
Mercy was the cruellest punishments of all, and perhaps Andromeda was fully aware of what she had done to her.
Narcissa gasped when she found the dagger still in her pocket, still stained with blood, blood that had been spilled through her and her alone. Her entire body was still shaking when she took it again, disgusted by how familiar it felt within her hands. She noticed that her sister had turned away from her for a moment, and yet she could hear her quiet whispers, all her quiet promises never to leave her again. But soon her voice, soon everything, faded away into nothing, nothing at all, as she slowly turned the blade on herself.