For the purposes of this story, Narcissa is a year younger than Sirius, Andromeda and Bellatrix. Imagine that Bella was born in September and Andromeda in August. Lucius, Snape and Rodolphus are Bella's age. Regulus is a year younger than Narcissa.
Harry sat down in front of the woman he had come to know so well and gave a small smile. Andromeda Tonks rested her chin on her hands and the resemblance to Bellatrix blurred and she seemed to look like someone else. A split second and it was gone.
"You said you wanted to talk to me, Harry. It's an unusual choice for someone to let out your secrets. I didn't realise we had grown so close." Bellatrix's face made her words seem almost mocking but her voice was softer and gentler than Bellatrix could ever have managed.
"It isn't that I want to spill my secrets. It's more to ask you to spill yours. What with Draco entering the family and Narcissa-well the whole Narcissa thing. I don't understand them, I want to welcome them but I don't know them, I don't trust them yet."
"So you asked me." Andromeda's voice was calm, without emotion. Harry hesitated slightly but nodded.
"You don't have to tell me or anything, I just wondered what you thought. It's fine if you just tell me I'm an idiot who can't be pleased for his friends."
"Is that what you've been calling yourself? I don't think you're an idiot and I understand your reluctance. I'm glad that you're trying, that's all they want. And, Harry, I'll be more than happy to tell you what I know of Narcissa's story but only she knows it all. And I don't even get under the surface of Draco's or hers."
Harry nodded again.
"I've been planning to ask them but I sort of needed your approval." He grinned slightly, embarrassed and ran a hand over his head so his hair stood up, creating a slightly sheepish schoolboy impression. Andromeda smiled widely before her face turned serious.
"Narcissa is so much more complex than anyone understands. Over shadowed, too much attention, afraid, fearless, confident, shy, narcissistic and shallow, deeper than anyone I've ever met; she's complicated and she's got so many layers to pull back. It never seemed to quite go right for her."
"If I tell this story, I have to go back years, childhood I'll leave because she didn't evolve until adolescence. That's when it all started.
Narcissa stared at Andromeda as she entered the train but only fractionally. She'd do this alone if she did it at all. The idea of doubting her didn't even occur to Andromeda and she disappeared to find her friends.
Narcissa wasn't the sort of person who got flustered or had people doubt her, unlike Andromeda. It might have been the way she stood-spine almost painfully erect, her shoulders back and her head help high, making her taller than you and imperious. Or perhaps it was her looks. Light blonde hair scraped back from her face and yanked into a bun trapped in a fancy net, a few strands creeping down. It made her look older and it was oddly mature but it suited her. She didn't look like an 11 year old and she knew it. Lifting her chin defiantly she strode along the train, yanking doors open until she came to Bellatrix's and her friends.
Glancing into the compartment she took them in and made to continue. Lestrange's voice calling after her meant that she stopped and turned to him, raising a fair eyebrow, the rest of her face not even moving.
"Come on, Black, you should know the rules by now. Shouldn't leave an acquaintance without some form of communication, come, come. Manners." His voice was mocking so Narcissa smiled pleasantly.
"Oh, of course Mr Lestrange, how silly of me. I do hope you're well. But I'm afraid I must leave you. I shall, of course, be desolate without your company. I do hope you can manage without me." She gave a false, tinkling laugh and turned from him.
She barely managed a step before a laugh sounded out and she turned back to see Snape looking at her keenly with a mix of a smirk and a smile on his voice.
"You could always join us if you fear your desolation." He looked at her and his request was mocking enough that Bellatrix was unbothered but Narcissa sensed the seriousness beneath it.
"I don't think so." He voice was cool again and she turned around again to almost bump into her cousin and his friends. Her eyebrow rose again and she heard Bella's curse and her sister's friends reaching for their wands.
The leader of the group in front of her –cocky guy, Potter she guessed, judging by the hair- screwed up his nose.
"Bothering the first years, Snivellus?" Sirius laughed next to him and Potter turned to her as he realised the Slytherines weren't reacting.
"You want to watch out for them, kid. Bad news." He sounded patronising and Narcissa smirked inwardly.
Sirius swore as she lifted her head, managing to seem taller than them.
"Sirius, how nice to see you. I trust we will now avoid each other to the extreme." Smiling again fakely, she shoved past Potter and his cronies, feeling their stress following her and Potter's incredulous retort.
"Who's that?" And Bella advancing for the kill. It was all so predictable and exploitable. To her pleasure, the next compartment was empty. Even better, the bags in it were her cousin and his friends'. Smirking she tossed them out.
The train ride was uneventful and Narcissa had retreated to her book, uninterrupted. And now they had reached the Great Hall although, personally, Narcissa didn't think it was that great. She had seen far nicer. Then again, she was a Black.
The girl next to her was bugging her, going on about magic and how exciting and various other irritating things in that irritating tone only a few people are cursed with, the one that makes you want to hang them and then commit mass homicide. Narcissa wondered how to shut her up.
Eventually she simply turned to her and raised an eyebrow. It shut the girl up momentarily and Narcissa spoke, sugary sweet.
"Your sister's in Second year, you said? Has she told you about Slytherines and Bellatrix Black?" Receiving a nod from the girl, Narcissa continued.
"I'm Bellatrix's little sister and I think it's be better if you went and stood with that boy over there." Smiling again, she turned back to the woman beginning to speak. Mc-Someone.
"Anatole, Annie." The girl Narcissa had sent off scurried forward to sit beneath the hat Dumbledore had presented. It waited for barely a few seconds before screaming out Hufflepuff. Narcissa wasn't surprised.
"Black, Narcissa." The woman's voice faltered as Narcissa came forward, head thrown back, a Queen among the paupers and thought sadly of the lessons that this girl would most likely ruin.
Narcissa wasn't scared of the prospect pf the hat and she didn't flinch as she heard its voice.
"Another Black, another Slytherin. Your dear cousin made such a change but you're interesting for all you're easy to place as a Slytherin. Nearly placed Andromeda in Ravenclaw but you already guessed that didn't you? Nice brain you've got here. If I were you, I'd keep a façade ready but behind it all learn about muggles. Third bookshelf from the left at the back of the library has a collection of fiction you'll enjoy. Drop the prejudices underneath and you'll be happier. SLYTHERIN!"
"When I was in labour with Tonks, Narcissa was my midwife. She told me what the hat had said to her as I screamed about my misplacings. I couldn't believe, the hat would have got it wrong and she told me exactly what the hat had said to her. I could tell that if it could think like that, it couldn't be wrong and I felt better for it." Andromeda looked slightly sad for some reason and Harry touched her arm gently.
"I know all of that because I watched from my compartment and I listened in as she stood in line but she has to tell the rest of the story. Good luck Harry."
Harry smiled at Andromeda as he left the kitchen, thanking her. He wasn't sure he really understood Narcissa any more than previously but it helped to know about her, see her age.
Tomorrow, he'd talk to the Dark Lady herself.
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