Marauder The Slash Nymph, NEW MOM (marauderthesn) wrote in mtsn_hp_au,
Marauder The Slash Nymph, NEW MOM
marauderthesn
mtsn_hp_au

Another Prisoner, Another Professor: Chapter Fifty-Six

27 December, 1975

Mum told Sirius that if he hates our family so much, he ought to move out and stop taking Father’s money. Finally, someone calls him on being such a self-righteous hypocrite. He told her it would be child abandonment if she booted him out of the house and she said at least now he’s admitting he’s a child. Why doesn’t he just leave? If Potter won’t take him in, he can go with Lupin or whatever his name is, or maybe that pathetic fat boy who’s always hanging around them.

After a while I couldn’t stand listening to them fight anymore, so I went to help Narcissa move into Lucius’s house – technically still Abraxas’s house, but he’s got dragon pox again and they’re just hoping he won’t die until after the wedding. Narcissa says Bellatrix told her it’s indecent to move her things into Lucius’s house before they’re married, so now Narcissa’s not speaking to her. I’m on Narcissa’s side (of course) – she’s moving in her things, not herself. Bellatrix isn’t speaking to their mother because she said Bellatrix ought to see a specialist and find out how many years she has left to have a baby. I don’t understand why everyone acts as though she’s so old. Mum didn’t have Sirius until she was thirty-nine and Bella isn’t even thirty.

28 December, 1975

Bellatrix apologized to Narcissa – she found out their grandmother moved her things into their grandfather’s house before the wedding, so now it’s all right, or something like that. Narcissa’s still angry with her. She told me that if she could have a person of honor and not a maid of honor, she’d get rid of Bella and put me in the wedding, but I think she was just being emotional.

Lucius is never home whenever I stop by, and he doesn’t even have a job. It’s always just Cissa and Abraxas and that weird little elf. I was worried that when Narcissa got married I’d barely see her, but now it looks as though not much will change.

29 December, 1975

Sirius heard Father and Mum talking about the wedding and how they wish Bellatrix was married by now, and he ended up telling them that he never wants to get married. I never want him to get married either. The last thing I need are a bunch of little Sirius spawn running around telling me I’m an elitist supremacist, or whatever his phrase is this week. If he didn’t look so much like Father I wouldn’t believe he was my actual brother.

Surprise, Lucius was home today – for all of five minutes. He’s getting married in a few days, his father is dying, and he spends his time doing God-knows-what. I even asked Cissa if she knows where he is when he’s gone, and she says she doesn’t always know but she doesn’t mind. Why doesn’t she mind? How does she know he’s not out gambling away their money or fathering mudbloods?

30 December, 1975

Didn’t see Narcissa today because she was at the wedding rehearsal. What do they need to rehearse?

It snowed all morning.

3 January, 1976

I stayed up too late after the wedding and I haven’t had the energy to write about it until now, but at any rate, Abraxas is still alive and Narcissa started crying because she was so happy. Lucius was happy too, of course, but I don’t particularly care. I have to start being nicer about Lucius. He’s part of the family unless Narcissa says otherwise, and going by how long they kissed during the wedding, I don’t think she’s going to say otherwise.

It was an enormous wedding – I think they must have invited everyone they’re on speaking terms with. If it had been Bellatrix’s wedding, Aunt Druella wouldn’t have been invited, because Bella’s still not speaking to Aunt Druella. Mum spent about half the reception trying to introduce Bella to every unattached man in the room, but I don’t think any of it took – any man who’d want to marry Bellatrix would have to be either the most powerful man in the world or an absolute coward.

When I say that Lucius and Cissa – Cius and Cissa? ha ha ha – must have invited everyone they’re on speaking terms with, I’m not exaggerating. They even invited Eileen Prince, who used to tutor all three girls until she married a Muggle and Uncle Cygnus sacked her. Her son Severus (Snape) is a fellow Slytherin but in Sirius’s year – unfortunately, Severus wasn’t at the wedding, which would have been entertaining because he and Sirius absolutely hate each other. I think Sirius hates Snape even more than he hates me, if you can imagine that. I couldn’t believe Cissa actually invited Eileen Prince, but apparently she’s divorced now and getting another chance because her father did something important with foreign imports.

Narcissa looked even more beautiful than usual. I don’t think there’s ever been a more beautiful bride in the history of the world – I told her that and she said she’s sure my wife will be a more beautiful bride, which she won’t be. I hate it when people don’t take you seriously just because you’re fourteen. I never thought I’d say I hated anything about Cissa, but I hate that.

Maybe she really meant it when she said she’d make me “person of honor” if she could. I should have taken her seriously, because now that I think about it I don’t think I’ve ever heard Cissa say something she didn’t mean.

29 January, 1976

Back at school, which means less Sirius but also less Narcissa. She and Lucius had to come back from their honeymoon early because Abraxas died. They knew he was going to, of course, but Mum says Cissa spent the whole funeral crying anyway. She really liked Abraxas – they spent a lot of time together when she was moving into the house.

Sirius’s friend Potter got twenty points for Gryffindor for being the only one who could work out some ridiculous Arithmancy problem, so now Gryffindor’s ahead of us for the House Cup. Evan Rosier’s threatening to kill anyone who loses so much as a point. He keeps trying to match me up with his sister Charis because Charis is obsessed with some boy in Ravenclaw and Evan doesn’t approve. As you might suspect, it’s not working. It would be funny if it did, though, because then I’d be both Narcissa’s first cousin and her first-cousin-in-law – Evan and Charis’s father is Aunt Druella’s brother.

Still have a perfect one hundred percent in Potions, which I know for a fact is better than Sirius has ever done.

13 March, 1976

Either Severus Snape is completely mad, or Pettigrew (the p.f.b. who thinks Sirius is a god) has been getting up to no good, probably with help because he’s not clever enough to do it on his own. Snape claims he was outside last week after curfew – doing what, he didn’t say – and he saw Pettigrew change into a rat. Yes, a rat. Maybe his parents’ divorce has unhinged him, not that he needed much unhinging.

Still have a perfect one hundred percent in Potions.

26 April, 1976

Today was Sirius’s sixteenth birthday, which I only mention because he skived off class with his friends, and McGonagall – McGonagall – took fifty points from Gryffindor. It was a good day.

We had Easter at Narcissa and Lucius’s house – she threw Bella and Sirius out of the kitchen when we were coloring eggs because she said we needed to catch up. (Lucius did not want to color eggs. It might have stained his manicured fingernails.) Narcissa says Aunt Druella is driving her mad because she keeps asking when Cissa and Lucius are going to have a baby. Why is everyone so fascinated with other people having babies? I told Narcissa that she should tell Aunt Druella they can’t have a baby until they figure out how to make one, which Cissa thought was funny. Later I wished I hadn’t said it, though. Sometimes there are things you don’t want to think about.

Narcissa wanted to know if I liked any girls, so I asked her if she knew anyone who might go on a date with Charis. I don’t really want to go out with any of the girls I know – the ones I get along with aren’t particularly good-looking and all the good-looking ones think I’m too short and not as handsome as Sirius. Actually, that’s not completely true. Selene Harris always smiles at me and she looks like that one singer, but her grandmother was a Muggle so that’s the end of that.

4 May, 1976

Turned fifteen yesterday – have a new racing broom from Father and Mum, which got delivered to the breakfast table. Evan Rosier thinks I ought to go out for Seeker next year after Parkinson’s left. Maybe I’ll do it.

I remembered the other day that Narcissa and Lucius have been together since they were fifteen, which is depressing considering I’ve never even kissed a girl. Narcissa’s turning twenty-one tomorrow. She always says I was her early birthday present.

8 May, 1976

Today Narcissa “kidnapped” me from school – it’s Saturday – and took me to lunch in France to celebrate our birthdays. I’m not joking. I ordered some kind of goose liver that I didn’t finish, so after lunch we had ice cream.

Cissa’s never really had friends – it’s hard to make any when they all have to be purebloods and the pureblood girls are jealous of you. She didn’t mind when she was younger, she told me once, because she had Bellatrix and Andromeda and didn’t really want anyone else, but of course now Andromeda’s basically dead to us and Bellatrix only cares about one thing. At least Narcissa has Lucius. She likes him, even if I don’t, so I suppose I can like him for that at least.

1 July, 1976

The end of the school year was absolute madness. We won the Quidditch Cup, but somehow Ravenclaw got two points more than Slytherin and five points more than Gryffindor, so they’ve won the House Cup for the first time in eighteen years. Snape hates Sirius even more than usual, which neither one will talk about, and Charis Rosier eloped with the Ravenclaw even though they both still have two years of school left. I kept the one hundred percent in Potions – Slughorn says he’s going to write some type of massive guide to potions and maybe I can be his research assistant after I finish school. Mum and Father both think he was joking, but Narcissa knows him better than they do and she thinks he meant it.

I don’t know what’s changed with Lucius, but all of a sudden he’s home all the time, which means Narcissa wants to be home all the time and both of them would rather I was home all the time – my home, not theirs. I understand, they’re married, they’ve finally got a lot of time to be alone together, but would it be too much to ask to see Cissa once a week?

19 July, 1976

Finally saw Cissa. Charis Rosier is having a baby in February, which explains why she got married near the end of June, and so of course another baby discussion was started by, guess who, Aunt Druella. Narcissa says it was even worse than it would have been otherwise because she heard last week that Andromeda had a baby a few years ago – Nymphatlantis, or something like that. Cissa actually started crying. She says she’d be so happy right now if Aunt Druella would just leave her alone.

I always figured Cissa didn’t tell me everything, if only because you can’t tell your teenage cousin everything if you’re an adult, but she really didn’t tell me everything. It turns out she was pregnant two years ago and had a miscarriage. That’s why she and Lucius took so long to get married – for a while she didn’t even want to think about having a baby in case something went wrong again. Now she wants to have a baby and it hasn’t happened yet. I told her she shouldn’t worry about it – look at my parents, they didn’t have any children for a decade and a half and then my mum gave birth to two in just over a year. Cissa actually hugged me, which she only does if she’s really happy or really upset.

Right now I hate Aunt Druella.

15 August, 1976

I really don’t know how I got up the nerve to do this, but I actually went to see Uncle Cygnus at his office and asked him if he could get Aunt Druella to stop asking Narcissa about babies all the time. I didn’t tell him anything about the miscarriage (Cissa would have killed me) but I did say that Narcissa had told me she wanted a baby, and wasn’t it a little unrealistic to expect her to be pregnant after she’d been married for less than a year?

He actually listened to me. He actually treated me like an adult, and didn’t tell me that what Aunt Druella said to Narcissa wasn’t any of my business or that I was too young to know what I was talking about. It probably helps that Narcissa is his favorite daughter, but still. Finally someone’s realized that I’m not eleven years old anymore.

Sirius, I found out yesterday, knew about Nymphatlantis back before she was even born. He has about seven or eight different pictures – it turns out, if you can believe this, that Andromeda’s daughter is a Metamorphmagus. She’s a tiny little mudblood girl who can change her appearance at will. Not to sound like an idiot, but the thought of that much power in a mudblood is frightening. She’s just little now, of course, but even acromantulas were small once.

24 August, 1976

I love my parents. I thank God for them every day and I would never say a single word against them. However, my parents, Uncle Cygnus, and Aunt Druella are all completely mad.

The good news is that Aunt Druella hasn’t mentioned babies since I talked with Uncle Cygnus – the bad news is that somehow, all four of them have decided that Bellatrix should marry Sirius soon after he turns seventeen. (Apparently they don’t want to go the Rosier route and give him permission early.) This has got to be the most wrongheaded, misguided idea I’ve ever heard from any of them. Remember when I said that Bella’s husband would have to be either the most powerful man in the world or an absolute coward? Sirius is a long way from either and absolutely hates Bellatrix besides.

From what I can gather, the theory is that Bella needs to get married before she gets much older and Sirius needs someone to keep him in line. It’s mad enough to believe there is someone who could keep Sirius in line, much less that Bellatrix could ever do it. Neither one would make it out alive. For the first time in our entire lives, Sirius, Bellatrix and I all agree on something. I even listened to Sirius rant for about twenty minutes on how he refuses to so much as hold Bella’s hand, and I can’t remember the last time I willingly listened to Sirius.

29 August, 1976

Sirius got into a row with all four madmen at Narcissa and Lucius’s house. I don’t think even Kreacher blames him. There is not a single rational person on the face of the earth who could blame him – they are mad and that’s all there is to it.

9 September, 1976

Back at school, where I’ve had to listen to every professor tell us it’s O.W.L.s year and we need to take them seriously, as if we didn’t know. Everyone has changed over the summer except me.

Evan Rosier grew three inches, Charis Rosier-Bones is sick in the toilet every hour, Selene Harris got even more gorgeous (what a waste), Slughorn had a heart attack and is supposed to lose at least three stone, Potter’s actually got some muscles in his arms, Lupin looks only ill and not deathly ill, Pettigrew got even fatter, and Severus Snape claims he’s a Death Eater now (in his dreams). He’s having a feud with both his parents because he wants to change his surname to Prince and neither will let him. What happened to me all summer? I watched things happen to other people.

13 September, 1976

Well, enough of that. I’ve made Seeker and we’re playing Hufflepuff in another few weeks. Suddenly all the good-looking girls find me interesting, or at least the ones my year and younger do. It’s like a very strange dream. How does Sirius deal with this all the time?

Speaking of Sirius, Slughorn and McGonagall got together and decided he isn’t allowed to do the commentary for any of the matches I’m playing. He’s trying to make them change their minds because it cuts him down from six matches to three, but I don’t think they’re going to change their minds. He’s done commentary on every single match for the last three years and someone else can have a chance for a change.

I don’t know why I really care if Sirius has to marry Bellatrix, seeing as I don’t like Sirius and I’m not enormously fond of Bella either, but there’s just something wrong about it. I understand why Father and Mum want us to get married and have children – if our ancestors hadn’t done it, we wouldn’t be here, and if they hadn’t married other purebloods we’d have a lot of unclean ancestry mixed in and be diluted from our natural state. But seeing as Bella isn’t even anywhere near old, why can’t they leave her alone and let her find someone herself? Do they really think Sirius will happily father children with his first cousin if only they can get him past the altar? What are they going to do with me if I don’t fall in love by a certain age?

Cissa says I shouldn’t worry about it, because men can reproduce for a longer period of their lives than women can and no one will care if I’m still a bachelor at fifty. She’s being too optimistic. There are exactly two young male Blacks to continue the family line, and one of them is me.

21 October, 1976

Defeated Hufflepuff easily – not a surprise, but still a relief. I asked Demetria Crabbe to go to Hogsmeade with me next weekend, so we’ll see how that goes.

31 October, 1976

If Sirius were a saint – I know, in what universe – this would be his feast day. An entire day in which you can play idiotic pranks on everyone and they can’t get as angry as usual because it’s Halloween. So far he’s turned Snape’s hair bright purple, sent a whole herd of puffskeins to eat Rosier’s bogies, and hung my underwear on a clothesline stretched across the Great Hall. Helpfully, he included a sign which read “Regulus’s Pants.” Bellatrix can have him.

Hogsmeade with Demetria went all right, although by now she probably thinks I’m the sort of moronic weakling who gets his pants displayed in the Great Hall on Halloween.

5 November, 1976

Demetria says she liked seeing my pants, and sort of twitched her eyebrows. I mentioned it to Narcissa and she says Demetria is too fast for me.

22 November, 1976

Over the summer, a friend of Father’s called Rodolphus Lestrange came back to Britain after teaching Ancient Runes at Durmstrang for four years. He’s nearly forty, a widower twice over, and has no children. Bellatrix is marrying him just before Christmas.

Narcissa’s happy enough to see Bella get married, but she sent me a letter with at least four pages on how Bella’s getting married in December so she can take away attention from Narcissa and Lucius’s anniversary every year. I wouldn’t have noticed that on my own, but I think Cissa’s right.

1 December, 1976

In a miraculous turn of events, Sirius found me at dinner and apologized for stringing my underwear across the Great Hall. He says Potter’s in love with a girl called Evans who won’t go out with him because she thinks he’s a git, so now Potter wants Sirius to apologize to me so Potter will look more un-gittish by association. I think that was how it went. Still, motives aside, it was an apology and I haven’t heard one of those from Sirius in years. Victory.

19 December, 1976

Narcissa is Bellatrix’s matron of honor – I thought matrons were stout middle-aged women wearing too much rouge, but it seems they’re just married women, regardless of age, stoutness, or cosmetics. I went with Cissa today to buy the dress, and for the first time – all right, I know how this sounds, but it’s not like that. For the first time I was aware of what her body is like – not just how pretty her face is or how she looks in a dress.

I don’t mean I was seeing any more of her body, because I wasn’t. She put on the dress inside a fitting room and then came out so some of the witches who worked in the shop could adjust it. That was when I really noticed, because they had to take in the bust (that’s how they said it) and do something with the waist and let the hem down. Narcissa should have been a model – not the sort that wears tacky robes and walks down runways, an artist’s model. I would love to marry a woman with a figure like that. I can say that, can’t I? I’m not going to act ridiculous and pretend I didn’t notice anything just because Cissa’s my married cousin. Her own mother probably acknowledges that Cissa has a gorgeous body. It’s only the truth.

23 December, 1976

Wonders will never cease. Severus Snape, still not Prince, is in fact a Death Eater. He and I were both ushers at the wedding and I saw the mark when he reached for a coat hanger. I spent almost the entire ceremony trying to tell who was a Death Eater and who wasn’t – the marks all burn at the same time, and going by how dark Snape’s was, they weren’t going to entirely fade anytime soon. Children and anyone with short sleeves were clear. Adults with long sleeves were all in the running.

I already knew Bella was a Death Eater, and, predictably, the sleeves on her dress went all the way to her wrists. Rodolphus is a Death Eater – every once in a while he’d glance at his arm, just the one arm, not the other. My parents are not Death Eaters. My mother wore a burgundy-colored dress with sleeves just past the shoulders, and I’ve seen my father in his loose-sleeved dressing gown enough times to know that there’s nothing on his skin but graying hair.

Rabastan, Rodolphus’s brother, actually left for a moment and came back with his arm hanging stiffly. After the ceremony, Lucius took off his jacket to adjust his hair (of course) and I could see the mark showing through his white shirt sleeve. Narcissa, thank God, is not a Death Eater. Her sleeves didn’t reach her elbows and her arms were as white as the fresh snow outside. I don’t mind if Lucius is a Death Eater – I don’t even care if Narcissa is in the Dark Lord’s service, because I know how passionate she is about family – but no one is going to burn anything on Cissa as long as I’m around. I don’t care if they’re Grindelwald or Voldemort or God Himself.

Rodolphus’s single female relatives somehow ended up foisted on Lucius, so Narcissa and I danced with each other for about half of the reception. She had to lead me through it because I don’t know anything about dancing. It all looks so easy when she does it. Every time Lucius danced past us with one of the relatives, she’d start giggling because she says she knows Lucius secretly loves to dance. It was so wonderful to hear her laugh.

Rodolphus’s mother must have conspired with Mum, because she introduced Sirius to Rabastan’s daughter – Natasha, I think it was. She’s in Sirius’s year but at Durmstrang, and she was wearing this bright red dress slit up to her thigh. I made the mistake of jokingly asking Cissa if Natasha was too fast for Sirius, and she said she has the impression no one’s too fast for Sirius. I have got to start restraining myself before I ask these things.

Probably the twenty-fourth already, so I’m going to sleep.

24 December, 1976

I found out this morning that Father saw Natasha snogging Absalom Goyle behind the coats, so it looks as though now the question is whether Natasha is too fast for Goyle. Thank God. I never even spoke to Natasha, but I had the impression that she wasn’t exactly who I’d pick to be the mother of my nieces and nephews.

Kreacher must have been working the entire time we were at the wedding, because the tree looks fantastic. The whole house looks fantastic and smells delicious.

Sirius actually offered to take Father on a walk this afternoon – yes, my brother, Sirius Aurelius Black, volunteered to spend at least two hours pushing his crippled father in a wheelchair. After they got back I couldn’t quite figure out what they’d said to each other, but I got the impression it was a very solemn conversation. At least they didn’t come back early. It would be nice to have some peace in this house.

25 December, 1976

I’ll say this much for Lucius – you can tell that being with Narcissa makes him genuinely happy. We went to Uncle Cygnus and Aunt Druella’s for Christmas dinner and he chased Narcissa around the house with a sprig of mistletoe both before and after we ate. Cissa’s planning a first-anniversary supper and has the perfect excuse not to invite Bellatrix – there’s no point in inviting her when everyone knows she’s on her honeymoon until after New Year’s and won’t want to be disturbed. I think Aunt Druella might have been hoping for an “announcement” from Cissa and Lucius, but it seems there is nothing to announce.

All and all, I got two jumpers, three books, and one framed photograph, the last from Narcissa. She must have put in a rush order to have someone’s film developed, because the photograph is of the two of us dancing at Bella’s wedding. Amazingly, I don’t look like an idiot in it – the dancing part looks good, I’m finally as tall as Narcissa, and you can only see the spot on my forehead if you really look hard. I’m bringing it back to school and putting it on my nightstand.

27 December, 1976

For some incomprehensible reason, Sirius called me into his room today and wanted to know if I could lift Father in and out of his chair if I ever needed to. I asked him what difference did it make, seeing as I could levitate him, but Sirius wouldn’t let up so I said I thought I probably could.

Then Sirius wanted to know if I knew what all of Mum’s medications are. Honestly, except for Mum and the healers in the psychiatric unit, does anyone know what all of Mum’s medications are? Sirius had at least six of them written down and said he was pinning the list to his wall if I ever needed to see it. What is this? What on earth is he up to?

29 December, 1976

Running away from home. That’s what he’s up to.

When we got up this morning we discovered that Sirius had left a note downstairs – he pinned it to the door of the elf quarters, probably with the logic that Kreacher would find it even if none of us did. He’s gone for good. He didn’t want to spoil anyone’s Christmas, he said, but he didn’t want to start the new year with us either.

This is Mum’s fault. I’m sorry, but it is. She didn’t have to keep pushing him all the time – he wasn’t even seventeen and it wasn’t as though he had some mudblood girl. Oh, God, I’m already writing about him as if he’s dead. If she’d just left him alone, he could have fallen in love with a pureblood girl and got married and this wouldn’t be happening. So maybe he was never going to understand the importance of pure ancestry. Fine. Everyone knows that most purebloods fall for other purebloods because of the inherent similarities, so who’s to say that Sirius was never going to marry a pureblood? Of course he told Father and Mum he never wants children. When he was nine he said he never wanted to cut his hair.

To hell with Charis Rosier – I should have asked Cissa if she knew someone Sirius might like. Maybe he’s a git and a hypocrite and the only one to not be Sorted into Slytherin, but he’s my brother. This is why family is so important. If you lose your family, you haven’t got anything.

30 December, 1976

Right after I wrote yesterday, I went up to Sirius’s room and started looking for Andromeda’s address. I figured that seeing as he’s kept up with her for years, he probably has it memorized, but she must have written it down once and Sirius never throws anything out. It was on a slip of paper between two of the books he’d left behind.

I think I’ve realized something about myself – when there’s something I badly, badly want, any cowardice or hesitation that I have goes right out the window. I ended up on the Knight Bus to Oxford and made it by around two o’clock. Andromeda’s living in a flat above some shop or another – not in the wizarding district.

You’ll never believe who answered the door. The little girl. This little toddler with black hair and sticky fingers opened the door and looked up at me with this absolutely gigantic smile on her face and said “Hi!” and then smiled some more. I tried to smile back but I almost started crying.

Andromeda was coming after the little girl – Nymphadora – and she was just starting to say something about “you never open that door” when she realized I was there. That was when I really did start crying.

I always liked Andromeda when we were younger – not as much as Narcissa, of course, but we got along. When I was about Nymphadora’s age we used to play a game where Andromeda was a dragon who wanted to eat Sirius and me and we had to defeat her. She always made these dramatic howling and hissing noises as she was “dying” and we thought it was just about the funniest thing in the whole world.

I don’t know how Andromeda understood a single word I was saying, but somehow I managed to tell her that Sirius had left and Bella was away and I never knew when I’ll see Narcissa and Father is probably dying and I can’t be the one and only last of the Blacks because I’ve never kissed a girl and I’m fifteen bloody years old. I sounded tremendously intelligent, I’m sure. The whole time Nymphadora was looking at me very solemnly, like she was pondering everything I said. Andromeda had me sit down on the sofa and told Nymphadora to go and get me a biscuit.

Her hair was pink when she came back, so yes, she really is a Metamorphmagus. Andromeda was sort of gently rubbing my shoulder as I ate the biscuit – Nymphadora watched her for a second and then started rubbing my hand, which actually made me laugh. She’s a sweet little girl. I suppose it’s like with dogs – sometimes you can breed a purebred Labrador with a mutt and the puppy will come out more Labrador than anything else.

Andromeda told me that sometimes it’s hard to live with people when you have very different ideas from theirs, and I asked why she and Sirius had to have different ideas in the first place. Why couldn’t they just change their minds and come back so we could all have our whole families again? I even started telling her about how Eileen Prince got divorced and now Uncle Cygnus is speaking to her, and Bella and Cissa’s husbands get along with Severus, even – they know he’s not a pureblood, but they can forgive Eileen for making a mistake. Andromeda said Severus and Nymphadora weren’t mistakes and I said that wasn’t what I meant – maybe something good came out of Eileen’s mistake, but marrying a Muggle was still a mistake. If Andromeda would –

That was when she stopped me for a second and put Nymphadora down for a nap.

When she came back Andromeda said she didn’t believe marrying Ted had been a mistake. She said she loves him very much and she can’t think for more than a few seconds about losing him because she’ll start crying. Then she actually did start crying and had to wipe her eyes. She said that Ted is a wonderful husband and a wonderful father and every day she thanks God for giving her Ted and Nymphadora. She thanks God for all of us, even, because no matter what we’re still her family. If we ever change our minds about her marriage and her daughter, she would love to be part of our lives again. She said I might not believe her, but she knew at least a little of how I felt because she used to feel the same way about keeping the family pureblooded. That was before she spent a summer working at Flourish and Blotts and met Ted and fell in love with him.

“Why did you have to fall in love with him?” I said. I was still crying. “Why couldn’t you have just ignored him and fallen in love with a pureblood – “

“Because that’s not how it works, sweetheart,” said Andromeda. “You don’t get to choose who you fall in love with. It just happens and then you have to decide whether it’s worth it to be together.”

I wanted to shout, “So he’s worth it and we’re not?” but I didn’t. I told her thank you for the biscuit and thank you for listening to me – that I loved her and Nymphadora was an adorable little girl. All of that was true. Telling her the rest of the truth wasn’t going to get anywhere.

I didn’t want to get back on the Knight Bus right away, so I started walking around Oxford. It was starting to snow and suddenly it struck me how magnificent some of the buildings were. It isn’t that there’s no inherent worth in Muggles. They have their talents and abilities, and I think pureblood wizards could even get along with some of them. But they are not wizards and they’re not intended to be part of our families. There are basic superiorities and inferiorities that no one can erase, no matter how much they want to.

I still thought Andromeda could have avoided falling in love with Ted if she had really tried. People can control their emotions – they can calm down when they’re angry or find something to be happy about when they’re sad. I could have let myself fall in love with Selene Harris, I thought to myself, but I knew what she was and I didn’t encourage her. Even Muggles can control their emotions. We’re not animals, we’re human beings. When you know something is morally wrong –

All of a sudden I stopped.

Sirius isn’t the hypocrite, I am. I’m in love with Narcissa and I know there is not a single damn thing I can do about it – if Lucius died tomorrow, I would run to her and beg her to be my wife. I want her to be my wife and to be everything that means – oh, God, I want to make love to her and sleep next to her and watch her bear our children. I want Cissa to have been right when she said my wife would be a more beautiful bride. I want her to be my bride and be to be more radiantly happy with me than she is with Lucius. I want to marry my married cousin. I am miserable and I am wretched, but I love her and I don’t know how to stop.
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