2. The politics of living in such a well-known and large family have never appealed to Andromeda. Bellatrix is always too demanding to care about others but Narcissa plays that game perfectly. It somehow skipped Andy, not that she’s complaining. She prefers to think of constellations and stars forming a warrior woman holding a sword, ready to fight for whatever interests her, far more than a maiden in chains. When she’s eighteen, she uses her own sword, of sorts, to slice through the chains keeping her prisoner, so she knows which theory is correct.
3. Andromeda loves her sisters. Bellatrix is two years older and knows everything, or can effectively convince a person that she does. Andy used to sit on her bed at night and listen to the most wonderful stories of battles and honor. Sadly, it isn’t a surprise when Bellatrix becomes enamored with a man who can weave his beliefs and quest for power like a spell over those who are more easily controlled than they want to admit. Despite everything that’s happened over the years, more bad than good, Andy holds out hope that Bella will surprise her and prove herself capable of devotion to something other than Voldemort and blood purity.
4. Narcissa is two years younger and so quiet and gentle that people always underestimate her true strength and passion. Where Andy worshipped Bella until she was old enough to know better, she doted on Cissy like a little mum, as their father often said with a laugh. They were the best of friends and shared secrets, hopes, and dreams when they couldn’t trust anyone else in their family or house. When Andy is eighteen, she’s forced to face the reality of Narcissa, who is no longer her Cissy, and they’ve not spoken since that whispered ‘good-bye’ decades ago.
5. However, they do exchange letters and have since Andy was forced into hiding during the first war against Voldemort. Their husbands and Bellatrix don’t know, nor does anyone else, and the letters never say anything too personal, but sometimes it’s what isn’t said that really matters.
6. Andy adores her cousins Sirius and Regulus. Whenever they visit, she tells them stories and plays with them in ‘a way unbecoming a lady’, according to her mother. Instead of sitting in the parlor daintily sipping weak tea, she runs in the garden and hides until she can scare the boys. As she gets older, she uses magic (illegally, of course, but laws certainly aren’t intended for the Blacks) to make them laugh and have fun during the otherwise boring visits.
7. Slytherin is a respectable house. It’s the people who have been sorted there in the past who give it a bad reputation. The stigma attached to it annoys Andy, especially when there have been hundreds of Slytherins throughout the centuries that Hogwarts has been open and many have done amazing things. Their contributions to the world are never remembered or are conveniently overlooked in order to focus on a couple of dozen stupid power-hungry Pureblood elitists. No house is perfect and all have had their bad apples over the years, so it’s frustrating to see someone sneer just because she wore green and silver for seven years. Andy is proud of being a Slytherin, and anyone who doesn’t like it can just bugger off.
8. Bellatrix begins to hate Andy when they‘re in school. They’re both in the same house, which creates a twisted rivalry. Living in the Slytherin dorms isn’t easy, and it makes Andy feel as if she’s constantly on show and being someone that isn’t her. By the time she’s fifteen, she’s had enough of that pretense and becomes someone that the others in her house either hate outright, admire for not being manipulated, or treat warily because one never quite knows how Andy will react. She embraces that unpredictability and delights in shocking those who find the most mundane things surprising.
9. During her seventh year, Andy’s informed over the Easter holiday that her parents have been working on a marriage contract for her. The very idea is ludicrous, and she bluntly tells them her opinion. She respects her family and their traditions, has never questioned too many of their ideals and thoughts of blood purity because it never directly affected her, but the notion that she’s to marry someone not of her choosing because they’ll produce suitable wizards and witches forces her to look long and hard at many things she’s ignored or deliberately not thought about.
10. When she arrives back at Hogwarts, Andy has made a couple of decisions that she knows will change her life. It’s so tempting to just obey her parents’ request, but she’s never been one for being told what to do or having her choices taken from her. She won’t marry someone she doesn’t love just to become a breed mare. Instead, she’ll do something so shocking that her parents will know she’s not like her sisters and won’t simply do as they say like a good Black daughter.
11. Slughorn is astonished when Andy goes to see him, and she is amused by his sputtering and open-mouthed gape. If he reacts in such a way to her plan, she can just imagine how scandalized her family will be, which just reinforces her determination and intent, even if it means actually working. Fortunately, she’s always been an excellent student and has taken the classes necessary to be admitted into the Auror program.
12. Shocked isn’t quite the word for her family’s reaction upon learning of her career choice. Career and Black female are a combination that has never before been linked together, and the idea that she’s committed to training and working with the common folk makes them forget all about arranged marriages, which means her plan is a success.
13. Auror training is grueling and difficult, and two weeks in, Andy begins to think that it would have been easier to just marry instead. Her family only speaks to her when they try to persuade her to give up this foolish choice, and Bellatrix won’t speak to her at all. Sirius and Regulus are delighted that she’ll be an Auror, and send her letters over the summer in their childish scrawl asking her too many questions for her to answer. The reality of studying and training isn’t the best fodder for stories, so she elaborates and exaggerates as she writes them back, making it sound far more exciting. It isn’t lying; it’s just creative use of the truth.
14. After being at the Ministry for two months and living in a tiny room above the Leaky Cauldron, she is miserable and unhappy. She misses Cissy and the boys. The news that Sirius is sorted into Gryffindor cheers her up, however, and she sends him a tin of sweets in celebration. Despite her own house loyalties, she is thrilled that he broke tradition and created a scandal far worse than anything she’s done.
14a. Regulus writes her after his sorting, disappointed that he isn’t a Gryffindor, too. Even after she’s completely disowned, he continues to send her letters until Bella’s influence twists his thoughts and beliefs and changes him from the sweet boy she’s always known and loved. The letters stop, which hurts far more than the majority of things that happen to Andy over the years. She eventually receives one more from him after he leaves Hogwarts that makes her cry until the parchment is damp. To this day, it’s difficult to read all the words because of the tear stains and smeared ink, but she knows what it says so just holds the paper and remembers a boy with a big smile and infectious laugh.
15. She meets Ted at the Ministry, where he works on Level Five. She vaguely recalls him from Hogwarts, a few years older and a Hufflepuff, but they’ve never spoken until they’re stuck on the lift together that fateful day. He’s handsome, charming, and has a grin that makes her tummy feel funny, but she has little use for outrageous flirts, and tells him so. He accepts her dismissal as a challenge, though she refuses several dates until she learns that he’s a Muggleborn. Even worse than being an Auror, dating a Muggleborn will make her parents rue the day they ever attempted to fit her into a mold. He doesn’t expect her to accept, but they go out and she makes sure they go somewhere they’ll be seen by those who can’t keep gossip to themselves. She feels bad for using him, because he is very nice, so she allows him a chaste kiss at the end of their date.
16. It’s just her luck that her efforts at manipulation and scheming backfire. The chaste kiss becomes a heated snog against her door as she feels more alive than she has since she was a child running in the garden. It isn’t until their third date that she confesses to using him. When Ted grins and winks at her before confessing that he had a pretty good idea why she’d finally said yes but isn’t above taking advantage of her rebellion, she realizes he’s someone that she never wants to not have in her life.
17. Her parents give her an ultimatum when they learn that her dalliance with a Muggleborn has continued. She is invited to tea, where she is told to stop her silly rebellion and come home to marry a proper man, or she will be removed from the tapestry and no longer family. It’s funny how easy the decision is, especially considering that she is proud of being a Black, even with the differences of opinion she shares with most of the family. She tells her parents and Narcissa good-bye before she walks away. She goes to Ted’s flat and proposes to him, suggesting that they elope before she has to get back to training. Instead of saying yes, he simply tells her that he can’t refuse her anything, which still makes her heartbeat race faster all these years later.
18. When she becomes pregnant, Andy is forced to stop her training eventually. Dora is a beautiful baby, and she stays home with her for the first year before she returns to the Ministry and completes her Auror training. Oddly, she enjoys being an Auror, especially the part where she can solve puzzles and analyze people’s behavior. She’s rather good at that, and credits years of analyzing people in her family and then her house at Hogwarts.
18a. The war with Voldemort creates tension and unease throughout their world. She hears rumors of a group fighting him, but can’t learn anything useful. Not when her last name was Black and she resembles her sister, who has become the beautiful sycophant of a madman. Eventually, things become so dangerous that she’s forced to make a difficult decision. She is a primary target for Bellatrix, who will never forgive her for turning her back on the family, and she can’t risk Dora’s life for her own stubbornness. She resigns her position, and they move to France to hide in a Muggle area, which is too much like being a coward for her taste even if it’s necessary.
19. When the war is over, she is numb and grieves for things that Ted can’t understand. Regulus and her father are dead, while Bella and Sirius are in Azkaban. The claims against Sirius are absurd because she knows he’d never do what they accuse him of, but the Ministry is rushing through trials or foregoing them completely, and she’s not in any position to put Ted and Dora through the turmoil of fighting for her cousin. Besides, there’s always the nagging doubt of ‘what if I’m wrong’, since others surprised her with their mania and loyalty to Voldemort. Still, in those months following the end, she wonders if she could have done more to help save Regulus and Sirius. She’s haunted by memories of the past, and she’s scared at the idea of ever losing so much again.
20. Seventeen years later, her fears have become a reality.