This is a series of vignettes about the Black family, based on the traditional English nursery rhyme about magpies (I won't write it here in case you want to see the rhyme unfold with this story, but if not it's easy to find on Google). Each chapter will centre on a different character. I hope you enjoy this story, and please remember to review.

Magpies

One For Sorrow

Last year, Druella's Christmas was a joyous affair. Cygnus had bought her the most beautiful diamond earrings and matching necklace. Cissy and Lucius came for Christmas dinner, cooing over little Draco as they opened his Christmas presents together. Druella and Cygnus had been bursting with pride; their first grandchild's first Christmas, and on top of that he was a healthy baby, a boy, and the son of a Malfoy. He had his father's pointed chin and grey eyes, but there was no mistaking his Black beauty. A perfect baby boy. Bella and Rodolphus had been there too, and Roddy's brother Rabastan, and the Notts had visited in the afternoon; their son was only a few months older than Draco. There'd been pudding and custard, wine and Firewhiskey, chatter and laughter. Druella had been surrounded by her family and friends and she'd felt content and calm and loved.

This Christmas will be different. Nobody will come for Christmas Day. Druella's older daughter is in prison, and her youngest, having narrowly escaped the same fate, is keeping her head down with her husband and son. Lucius was able to pull strings to keep them out of Azkaban, for which Druella is grateful. However, he and Narcissa have been distant from Druella and Cygnus the past few months, knowing it is wise to play down their connections with the Lestranges. Cissy's husband's family have their own Christmas traditions, and at present being a Malfoy is much safer than being a Black. Druella supposes that she should be proud- her daughter has the Slytherin values of knowing which side her bread is buttered on. But pride is difficult to muster after this abandonment. This bereavement.

Letters and visits to Azkaban are not permitted. Bellatrix will be spending her Christmas in a cell, surrounded by Dementors, separated not only from her blood family but from her husband. Perhaps she will able to hear him yell; the thought sickens Druella but she knows that to Bellatrix it will be a comfort. Her daughter was always a capable girl, but Druella did not anticipate that she was capable of the crime she is in prison for. Not just torture, but torture to insanity. Not of Muggles but of pureblood wizards. A couple with a son Draco's age. From childhood, Bella was the leader of her sisters and the first to step too far over the line. Druella had been impressed when Bellatrix and Rabastan had joined the Death Eaters a few years ago; she should have expected how fanatical Bella would become. The Dark Lord had always been a figure of fascination and awe in the family, but for Bella he had become an all-consuming obsession. Druella and Cygnus had been shocked at first, but eventually they'd filtered it out. Just one of Bella's little quirks and besides, they were proud of her for fighting for pureblood supremacy. Even last Christmas as Bella, Lucius and the Lestrange boys had spoken in hushed, excited voices of attacks on Muggles and the Dark Lord's plans for the following months, Druella had disregarded it as just talk. She wishes she would go back and warn them all of what's coming. The Blacks are no longer a pureblood family worth the name. Bella and Sirius imprisoned, Cygnus' brother and youngest nephew dead and the rest avoided and embarrassed. At night, with Cygnus safely asleep beside her, Druella's thoughts sometimes stray to Andromeda. Her middle daughter, who hasn't been her daughter for almost a decade. It had been so easy at first to blame the Mudblood (Druella has tried and failed to forget his name) for captivating their daughter and spiriting her away to a life of Muggle debauchery and squalor. It's easier to pretend that than to accept the truth; that Andy had her head screwed on too tightly to be enraptured by a pretty boy or a false notion of romance in poverty. The truth is that Druella's middle daughter abandoned their family far before running off with the Ted Tonks. For years she'd been marching further down the path to madness and extremism. Reading books by Muggle authors, using Muggle slang, protesting Black beliefs and traditions. Andromeda had gone long before the Tonks boy appeared. The child Andromeda was rumoured to have birthed would be eight now- probably joined by a sibling or two. What if they're at Hogwarts at the same time as Draco? Cygnus and Lucius will have to have a stern word with him about staying away from wizards who don't deserve his time.

Druella will be spending this Christmas alone with her husband. Cygnus was always a loving but stern spouse, a strong man with firm beliefs, a big character who was always first with a quip or a mocking impersonation. Since the Dark Lord's fall and Bella's imprisonment Cygnus' sternness has cooled into bitter surliness. He's lost interest in japes and impressions. He's kept his job but, his star at the Ministry has definitely fallen and his fortune has too- there will be no earrings or necklace for Druella this Christmas. Last year they'd stolen kisses under the mistletoe and had held hands while watching Draco open his presents. This Christmas Druella will count herself lucky is she receives a peck on the cheek from her husband on Christmas morning. He doesn't care for her affection any more. Sometimes Druella finds herself wondering if Cygnus has always felt this way and it was only their children who kept him interested in her. Now the children are grown and gone, what is left?

The tree in the house opposite twinkles with baubles and candles. Christmas should be a time for warmth, love and family. But this Christmas Druella Black's only companions will be coldness, regret and sorrow.