Author's Note: I'm trying to experiment with a different style of writing here, and I'm not sure how I'm doing. For now, this is a one-shot, but it might become a three- parter, one for each Black sister. I hope you like it, and any reviews would be greatly appreciated.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not, and sadly never will, belong to me. I make no profit from this story (unless you count a possible improvement in my writing.)
She could be an Olympic sprinter, she runs so fast. And yet, she runs so very slow. It's not the speed that matters, but the distance. So that when she finally skids to a halt, heart pounding, eyes watering, legs quaking, she knows. It doesn't matter where she is, because she's somewhere that isn't here.
It doesn't matter that she can still hear them shouting, and she knows they'll never stop. Their words are arrows, poison tipped and dangerous. They tear through each other, they tear through her, and they tear through Bella and Andy, too. Bella was a little crazy, and Andy was quiet and defiant. One was their parents pride and joy, the other the bane of their existence. Narcissa, she was somewhere in between. Together, they three were a tangled mess, clashing and grinding and never quite getting along. She thinks there's something wrong there, because aren't they sisters? Aren't they family? Family is supposed to mean safety and comfort and learning but she thinks maybe she sees it wrong. She sees furious words and blazing eyes, deceiving laughter and slamming doors. She sees endless tears and unspoken fears and she wants to scream but she's not sure how.
And she keeps going through all the chaos because it's all she knows how to do. Her heart is breaking, shattering, splintering, but somehow that doesn't seem to matter anymore because she's here and then she's gone and what more is there than that?
What matters less than that? What is there besides that? She used to wonder, oh how she used to wonder – the world was so wide and big and wonderful, and they'd told her it was her oyster. But she's older now. She knows better now, better to than to believe in red rimmed eyes and tired smiles. Better than to believe in a world that's only going to let you down.
Black is her name, or it was, once upon a time. Until she shed it, and all its connotations, with two simple words: "I do." She doesn't regret them, of course she doesn't. She can't, because he is all she has now and she's so scared, because something so fragile and tenuous can't be used to define her because what if it breaks and then she's gone?
She'd come so close to fading away, like a picture that had lost its sheen, sinking slowly into nothing. Black was her name, and black was who and what she was. Black was the coffee she drunk every morning – a bitter taste that grew inside her. Vicious, yet comforting in its familiarity. Black was the cloud that followed her around everywhere she went – sometimes it was transparent and wispy, as though a gust of wind could blow it away. (But no wind could rid her of this. Only she could see it, and only she could fight it.) Sometimes it was so dark, so heavy, it was a physical burden. She walks with a slouch because of a cloud no one else can see. She feels as though she weighs a hundred kilos, and why should she have to get up, have to participate in all the mundane activities of day to day life, when no one else is carrying a cloud like hers?
She watches them all, as they smile, in spite of everything. A wave of hatred rises up inside of her and she embraces it, because feeling hate is better than feeling nothing.
Her son, her precious son – if she's done one thing she can be proud of in all her years, she knows it's having him. Lucius looked at her, holding the tiny bundle, and for the first time she saw something other than a smirk on his face, and it irritated her. He was supposed to be unshakable, forever aloof and unreachable. Because if she couldn't reach him, then he couldn't reach her. If he couldn't reach her, no one could – they were cloistered, but safe, and being lonely didn't really matter if safety was what she got in return.
"It's our baby, Cissy!"
"Yes." She tries to smile, but she's so damn scared, and she's so not ready for this.
And then He came back, and she felt like Alice in Wonderland all over again, with her world turned on its head. How much more of this could she take?
He was in her house - they were in her house - sweeping about, leaving trails of death and destruction and darkness in their wake. And the little girl rises us inside her when she begins to wonder - was it worth it? Is anything worth this?
People are dying, all over the world. People are dying, in her basement. This is wrong, so very wrong. This is her domain, yet she creeps around like a mouse, like a servant. She's so tired, she's so scared, her patience i to its limits and when it snaps she's not sure what will be left.
Supposedly, they fight for purity. To erase all the mud, so they might be clean, untainted, free of dirt and those unwanted smears of foreign blood. She doesn't feel clean. She feels more dirty and less human with each passing day.
She has a tiny spark of hope, one she dare not speak aloud, nor even think, for He might hear, and then where would she be? But that hope is just a boy, a boy not unlike her own. She does not allow herself to dream of a time beyond this, because dreams are fragile things and she's had more than enough of fragility. And then...
With a single word (Expelliarmus!) He is gone, he is dead. The war has ended, but it took with it some part of herself, some part that she's never going to get back.
She'd wanted something more than this, she'd found something less, and it took her twenty long years to realise that all she ever needed was something different.