An Attack And A Wedding
"Remember the feelings, remember the day;
My stone heart was breaking, my love ran away…"
Andromeda Black snuck out of the house the evening before her younger sister's marriage was set to take place. She grinned to herself as she darted out the back door of her family's summer villa and sped into the woods. The sun was still shining down through the trees, and the shadows cast by the branches continuously shifted with the steady breeze.
She felt a rush of adrenaline and euphoria as she hurried to meet her boyfriend Ted at the clearing about a mile from the house. Since her father wouldn't let her marry the man she truly loved (because it's pointless to have two alliances with the same family, after all!) she had fallen for Ted Tonks when he began taking an interest in her.
She hadn't been foolish enough to mention this fact to anyone in her family…or, indeed, with any of her friends or housemates. They would most likely disown her when they found out she was taking up with a muggle-born. Her father was hoping to betroth her to Evan Rosier, or one of the Averys. Neither of the Averys appealed whatsoever to Andromeda, and she absolutely detested Evan. And then, as if from out of nowhere, there was Ted.
He began talking to her between classes during her last year at Hogwarts. At first she had been annoyed…what was a muggle-born Ravenclaw talking to her for? But he kept trying, and he spoke such kind words to her, treated her with such gentle care that her heart was his inside of a few weeks. At least on the surface. Andromeda realized that Ted had just come along at the right time—or wrong time, maybe—to soothe her broken heart. And had kept it up right through the summer after graduation, and even into this summer. He made her feel good. He made her feel special. He made her feel wanted and appreciated.
But she didn't love him. Not really.
Then why are you running off with him? Her own thoughts mocked her. It's because of the thrill, isn't it? The thrill of disobeying mother and father. They wouldn't let you be with the one you love, so you're acting out like a spoiled child by running off with a muggle-born just to spite them. And you're not even being fair to Ted!
"Well, well, there you are!" A voice spoke, interrupting her thoughts. "I was beginning to wonder if you had forgotten about me!" Ted stepped out of the trees, a smile on his face. Andromeda returned his smile with one of her own, and yet she thought there was something off about Ted's smile. He didn't look happy to see her…his smile didn't reach his eyes; it was almost predatory, more a satisfied smirk than an actual smile.
Andromeda ran up to Ted and enveloped him in a hug, which he didn't return. She put her hands on his shoulders and leaned back. As she did so, she noted the smirk had morphed into an almost evil-looking grin. "Ted?" Her voice sounded small. Something was off here…it just did not feel right.
Ted laughed. "I didn't actually expect a pureblood girl from such a dark family to want to be with a filthy muggle-born like me. But hey, I'm glad you showed up, because I have plans for you, Andromeda Black." His voice had a mocking quality to it when he said her name.
Andromeda stepped back from him, fear rising from the pit of her stomach. She took another step back, and he closed the distance, still grinning. "You pure bloods, you need to be taught a lesson. You like following your dark lord and killing us muggle-borns for fun, don't you?"
"N-no! Ted, you know I'm not like my family!" Andromeda took another step back, and he matched it again.
"Oh, yes you are, inside. ALL pure bloods are the same! You're all evil, practitioners of dark magic, every one of you! Wanting to kill muggles and muggle-borns because you think we're inferior to you! You've ruled the roost of wizarding society for too long, and it's time someone put you all in your place!"
Andromeda cringed as Ted's voice rose, and she took several more steps back, only stopping when she backed into a tree. Ted moved closer, putting his hands against the tree trunk on either side of her head. "We're starting with your family, because the Blacks are the worst of the lot…old, powerful, dark and evil. When the other pureblood families see what's happened to the Black family, they'll start living in fear, constantly looking over their shoulders. You'll be the message we send them all that we're coming after them. Isn't that right guys?" He said the last part louder, and three other boys came into sight. Andromeda vaguely recognized them from school, but she was too frightened to recall them by name. They were all grinning.
Belatedly, she drew her wand. But Ted wrenched it out of her hands and threw it off to the side. "Come on, lads, let's get this over with." Ted leered at her. "The purebloods will get the message once they find you…especially when they see the state you're in. They'll see that we're coming for them one by one. We're all part of a group called The Order of the Phoenix, created specifically to fight your precious Dark Lord, and you Death Eaters."
Fear surged through Andromeda as realization finally struck her. They were going to kill her! And maybe even worse. In a panic, she tried darting to the left under Ted's arm, but they all grabbed her, not worrying where they put their hands, and laughed at her futile efforts to get away.
"But I'm not a Death Eater!" Andromeda cried.
One of the others laughed. "All purebloods support the Dark Lord, and maybe you aren't a Death Eater, but your sister and soon to be brother-in-law sure are!"
"Follow me," Ted said. "Let's get this over with." He began to walk farther into the woods.
The other boys followed him, dragging her with them, and her panic rose. She struggled to get loose but their hold on her arms and torso increased. She tried screaming, but they just laughed, knowing they were far enough away from the house that no one would hear.
"Abra-cadaver!" A voice called cheerfully. From the corner of her eye, Andromeda saw a greenish yellow flash, and felt a dull thud against her back. The boy who was holding her from behind dropped to the ground beside her, a look of utter surprise permanently affixed to his face as his empty eyes gazed up at her. Ted and the other two boys spun to look behind Andromeda. They raised their wands, Ted's face turning paler than a foggy sunrise.
Andromeda knew the voice that had spoken. She knew it well. Relief surged through her. There was a pop and a sizzle, and a hand fell on her other side, still tightly gripping a wand. One of the remaining boys screamed, the sound of pure agony causing Andromeda to flinch. Ted fired a spell off, but it was wild and missed its intended target. There was a cold laugh then, and Ted turned, fleeing into the woods. A moment later they heard the "pop" of aparation.
"Hey! Wait!" His uninjured friend called as he started to run, attempting to flee as well. But before he could take three steps, there was another flash of the sickly light; he fell face first into the mud, and never moved again.
The screaming of the remaining boy was getting annoying. Andromeda was still in a state of shock over the events of the last ten minutes. Turning, she screamed, "SHUT UP!" She then aimed a hard kick at his head and he crumpled over onto his side, still whining.
"Yes, do be quiet, please," the voice of her rescuer said. "The wound is cauterized, so it's not like you're going to bleed out or anything." He stepped up to Andromeda and asked, "Are you alright, Andi?" In answer, she collapsed, sobbing, into his arms.
"Ssshhh…it's ok now. I'm here." His voice soothed her frightened, crushed spirit. Just like it always did back when they were together, before everything fell apart. before her father and Narcissa and Lucius and Ted and the Dark Lord.
Her tears subsided after a few moments. The pain and anguish of Ted's cruel betrayal was replaced by a swirling vortex of hate and fury. "Ted…that, that bastard!" she shrieked. "He lied to me! He lied! All those months he spent flirting with me and being nice—over a year!-he was just using me because he hates purebloods! He—he told me he loved me…I thought he loved me. I—I really did! But he was just using me…it was all a lie! And now…now, I'm disgraced. If father knew what I was doing out here…if Bella knew, I'd be punished. Severely."
"The three of us are the only ones who know, Andi. You, me…and this." He nudged the still moaning boy on the ground with his foot. "What should we do with this one, anyway?"
Andromeda looked down at the boy. He was whimpering and rocking and cradling the stump where his wand hand had been a few minutes ago. His name was Rob, or Robert, or something like that. She couldn't remember exactly and she didn't care. He was a year older than she was and had been in Gryffindor (of course…it was always Gryffindor!) and muggleborn just like Ted. The thought of her former fiancé fueled the rage inside her.
At that moment, something changed inside Andromeda, like a switch that had been flipped. She felt the rage and hatred swirl up in her mind. She was a daughter of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. How dare this filthy muggle born lay hands on her! Andromeda embraced the rage, and made a decision.
She turned to face her rescuer. "Kill him, Cassius," she muttered, teeth clenched, voice cold. "Kill him. For me." She knew he'd do it. Cassius always did whatever she asked of him. It had been that way all their lives, even as children. He was her knight in shining armor, her protector. But she didn't take advantage of that fact…well, not very often. And she knew he'd killed and cursed people before that day. Cassius was a very "live and let live" kind of person. But if you pushed him too far…then Merlin help you. Cassius was a Malfoy, after all, and the Malfoy family was nearly as bloodthirsty as the Black family was.
Cassius shot a surprised glance at her. In the semi-twilight of the forest, Andromeda looked even more like her older sister than she normally did. Especially as she stood there glaring down and demanding that the boy whimpering at their feet should die.
The corner of Cassius' mouth turned up in a smirk. It was rare for Andromeda to be so bloodthirsty. She was by far the most compassionate, in general, of the Black sisters. Bellatrix was the bloodthirsty one and Narcissa the cold, indifferent one. Well, Narcissa was affectionate with those she cared about, which weren't many, but in general her outward demeanor was cold. Yet all three sisters carried the Black penchant for ruthlessness. It just tended to be much less obvious in Andromeda.
At the moment, however…
Still smirking, he quirked an eyebrow. "Truly?"
Andromeda had grown up with Purebloods of old families, so had become accustomed to much of their thoughts on those they deemed "inferior". Andromeda might have shared a bit of their views on certain things, but she hadn't believed that muggle-borns were necessarily inferior just because of their blood. But perhaps not anymore; her resolve was cracking as she continued to embrace the beliefs of her family. Maybe muggle-borns were inferior to the purebloods. At least, where Ted Tonks and his cronies were concerned. And that Order he'd mentioned…an order founded to attack pureblood families. It sounded a lot like what they accused the Death Eaters of doing, just in reverse.
She nodded once. "Do it." She ground out. Throwing one last kick at her would-be abductor, she turned and walked a few yards away to where Ted had tossed her wand, and began searching the ground for it.
Cassius' smirk became a grin. "As you wish, my Lady." He looked down at the whimpering boy. Muttering something Andromeda couldn't make out, he stabbed his wand at Rob, or Robert, or whatever his name had been. There was another flash of the vaguely greenish light, then she heard footsteps approaching her.
"Help me find my wand, please, Cassius," Andromeda stated, her voice sounding a bit imperious.
"As you wish," he repeated, beginning to scan the ground as well. After a few moments of searching, he called, "Found it!" Walking back, he placed it in her outstretched hand, giving her a smirk and bow as he did so. "Your wand, my lady."
"Thank you, Cassius," Andromeda replied with a smirk.
He made a noise of distaste that sounded somewhere between a grunt and a growl, and sent her a pointed frown. Cassius Malfoy hated his name, and Andromeda knew it. So she often found ways of saying his name as many times as she could cram into a sentence just to get a rise out of him. Cassius (Oh, how he hated that name!) was as much carefree and easy going as his brother was uptight and arrogant. Don't misunderstand, Cassius was a pureblood through and through. But he wasn't nearly as fanatical as most around him were. Much like Andromeda herself. Yet if the situation demanded violence, Cassius could get downright ruthless…especially when those he cared about were harassed or threatened.
"Let's get you back home," he murmured.
Andromeda took a few steps back in the direction of the house, before stopping and turning to him with a look of fear covering her face. "Oh, but father…and Bella! They'll want to know why I was out here! I—I can't tell them the real reason, they'll—"
Cassius wasn't certain of the reason she had been out there himself, but he had a pretty good guess, and it made his gut twist. But he kept a neutral expression on his face. "Don't worry. You were just out getting some fresh air on this lovely June evening, and ran into some vicious young men. I happened to be coming over to join the rest of my family at your house to finalize the wedding plans and chanced to stumble upon the situation, rescuing you from the intruders and escorting you back to the estate."
"That sounds like it might work," She replied. "When we add that they were mudbloods, it should please father and Bella even more." Andromeda glanced at him and he smiled, offering her his arm.
Returning his smile, she entwined her arm in his, and the two headed back to the Black's summer villa.
When they entered the house, one of the Black's elves began instantly (and loudly) bemoaning the condition of Mistress Andromeda's clothing.
"Oh, Mistress Andromeda! What has happened? Why are your clothes in such a state?
"I'm fine, Doxy," she told the elf, who ignored her words and continued fussing over her.
"Andromeda, is that you?" Narcissa called from the sitting room. Cassius let go of her arm and the two moved to the entryway. Eight pairs of eyes stared back at them. Narcissa gasped, her hand flying to her mouth as she saw the state of Andromeda's clothing. "Andi! What in Merlin's name happened to you?"
"She was attacked by some mudbloods," Cassius replied.
"WHAT?!" Cygnus roared. "My daughter, attacked? Where? When? Who did it?"
"There were four of them, father," Andromeda replied in a soft voice, not looking her father in the eye. When Cygnus Black got angry, he got very angry, and it was best to keep a low profile until his anger subsided so he wouldn't focus it on you. "They said they were going to use me to teach the pureblood families a lesson."
"Where did it happen?" Druella asked.
"On our lands," Andromeda replied, her voice picking up a bit of anger. "Near the outer hedges. I was feeling restless in the house and thought a walk might calm me down."
"That's still within the wards!" Cygnus roared again. "How could that filth get past the wards?"
Andromeda shrugged. "I vaguely remembered a couple of them from Hogwarts. They said they were part of something called the Order of the Phoenix," Andromeda told them. "T-they said their group was organized to kill purebloods and fight the Dark Lord." Fear coursed through her… she had nearly slipped up and said Ted's name. But no one seemed to notice.
"Order of the Phoenix?" Rodolphus repeated, and Andromeda nodded. "We've been fighting them on and off for almost a year! No one is sure who they all are, but we're finding out a few things. They've been responsible for some of our people being thrown into Azkaban. They're dangerous."
"Psh," Cassius said. "Dangerous? Hardly. at least this group certainly wasn't."
"When I find them, I'll curcio them into insanity!" Bellatrix growled. "How dare they lay their filthy mudblood hands on my little sister!"
Cassius smirked. "Well, I can tell you where some of them are, Bella; but the Cruciatus won't work on them anymore, I'm afraid."
"Cassius killed three of them, but the fourth got away." Andromeda was sending a thankful look towards Cassius, and he pretended that he didn't see it.
Bella looked at him and grinned. "Why Cassius, you're getting positively bloodthirsty!"
He returned her grin with a smirk, and gave her a mock bow, causing her to cackle again.
"It's a good thing you happened across the situation, Cassius," Druella murmured. "You probably saved Andromeda's life."
"How did you manage to stumble on this attempted kidnapping, young man?" Cygnus asked, narrowing his eyes.
"I was actually on my way over here, to see how the wedding finalization was going," he replied, stifling a yawn as he continued his bored attitude. Acting bored was his default persona. Seldom did he let his true feelings show, choosing instead to use sarcasm and boredom in relating to others, most often those he didn't care for.
"Why didn't you aparate, then, boy?" Abraxas asked, scowling at his son.
Another smirk twitched Cassius lips. He glanced at his father a moment before making a show of looking at his fingers. "Because I like the outdoors, father. The journey is the destination, after all."
"You seem to have a very flippant attitude towards your father, young man," Cygnus asked as he, too scowled at Cassius, who just barely refrained from rolling his eyes at the comment from the Black patriarch.
"Yes, my younger son could do with an attitude adjustment." Abraxas frowned at Cassius. "I think he and that Rosier girl would make a good match. But Cassius doesn't seem interested in her."
Cassius scoffed. "Evana Rosier has the intelligence level of a sea sponge!"
Bellatrix laughed at the comment, earning a stern look from her father; she rolled her eyes at him.
Cassius continued his rant against the Rosier family. "And they put such a massive amount of thought into naming their children, didn't they? Siblings with male and female variants of literally the same name. I suppose generations of inbreeding does tend to drain the intelligence out of a family line."
He paused, and cast a guilty somewhat glance at Druella, who was watching him with one eyebrow raised.
"Um…apologies, Madam," Cassius said in a sheepish tone. "I realize not all the Rosiers are that way."
The ghost of a smile crossed her face, and she gave him a slight nod. She didn't seem annoyed by Cassius rant against her brother's family. However, Rodolphus was offended by the slight against his mother-in-law's relatives. Or else, he was just trying to win brownie points.
"Watch yourself, Cassius," he growled. "The Rosiers are loyal to the Dark Lord…unlike some people I could mention."
Cassius sneered at Lestrange; the implication behind Rodolphus' comment was obvious. "I bow to no one, Rody." He turned to Abraxas. "I mean, isn't that what you always taught us, father? Malfoys don't bow? I could have sworn I've heard you say that before."
Abraxas frowned again. "This is different, Cassius, and you know it! The Dark Lord will restore purebloods to their proper place in magical society!"
Cassius barked a laugh. "I'm not entirely certain that indiscriminant murder is the proper way to accomplish that admittedly noble goal, father. You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, as they say."
"Seems as though your younger son is going soft, Abraxas," Cygnus commented with a frown. "Sounds a lot like a blood traitor if you ask me."
"Yes. Perhaps Cassius should have been a Gryffindor…it seems he doesn't have the guts to be a Slytherin." He frowned at his son as well.
Cassius smirked, unperturbed by the baleful expressions on Cygnus' and Abraxas' faces as they gazed at him. "Come now, father…I just killed three mudbloods. Surely that's the Slytherin in me. At the very least it should warrant a trophy on the mantel piece."
"And one of them fell into the mud when he died'" Andromeda ground out, a cold smile covered her face, and no trace of remorse was in her voice—just hatred. Her hands curled into fists as she recalled what they had tried to do to her.
"Yes, a bit of poetic irony in that," Cassius said. "A mudblood dying face down in the mud." He smirked again. "Rather apropos, if I do say so myself."
Bellatrix hissed out another chuckle, much to her chagrin. She couldn't help it…Cassius was so much more fun to be around than his uptight, arrogant brother was (what in the world did Cissy even see in that man anyway?). More fun than even her husband was. Indeed, more than the vast majority of the rest of Pureblood society. He was one of a tiny handful of people in her life that could actually make her laugh. And to Bella, that was worth a lot.
Rudolphus shot her a rather nasty glare which she returned with equal nastiness. A flicker of fear shot through his eyes before he glanced away as his face resumed its neutral expression.
Andromeda glanced around at the others…both fathers had sour expressions. Rodlolphus glared at Cassius who didn't even seem to notice, simply flicking a leaf off his clothes. Both mothers appeared calm and indifferent, but she did notice a look exchanged between them. Narcissa was outright smirking, while Lucius was trying his hardest to not smirk as well.
Cassius sighed. "As much as I would love to stay and engage in witty banter with all of you, I really must get home. I have a few last minute things to take care of as I am leaving right after the wedding."
Andromeda's eyes flickered to his face for a moment. Cassius knew she was watching him, but also knew he dare not look her way. So he his fixed eyes on the window at the back of the sitting room as he spoke. And before anyone could say anything else, he gave a general bow to the group, turned on his heel, and strode out the door.
Druella heard the soft sigh that escaped her middle daughter as Cassius left, and she noted how long Andromeda's eyes remained fixed on the door even after Cassius had disappeared from the room. Druella loved her daughters, and didn't always agree with how her husband insisted they be raised. But she knew how to keep quiet around Cygnus when he was in his moods. She knew how to calm him down and control him properly, while still letting him do things his way. And she was always there to comfort her daughters in their pains and sadness ever since they were little.
She knew that Cygnus loved his daughters too, in his own way, but he had difficulty expressing that love. The upbringing for sons was very different from that of daughters in pureblood families …they were raised much more harshly, and therefore often had problems expressing anything but negative emotions as a result.
Druella wondered how Cassius had managed to turn out as good natured as he had. She knew his father had treated the boy abysmally, probably even worse than he had treated Lucius. And yet, out of almost every pureblood male she came in contact with, Cassius seemed to be the only one who spoke his mind to all, and didn't give a fig what they thought of him. Honestly, Druella was surprised that he and Andromeda hadn't run off and gotten married. Still, Cassius was from an old family and understood the politics of pureblood society. He'd never subject Andromeda to the shame of being cut off from her family. He loved her too much for that. In fact, he loved her so much that he was leaving the country for her sake, so that she could move on with her life. Her mother wasn't certain that Andromeda would ever move on, though.
And Druella's heart was breaking for the two of them. As the others resumed their discussion about the wedding, she reached out and touched Andromeda's arm. "Why don't you go and freshen up, Andromeda," she murmured. "Then you can either rejoin us here, or go to bed if you'd rather. You must be tired from your ordeal with those vile muggleborns."
Andromeda sighed again. "Thank you, mother," she whispered before leaving the room in silence, her head down as she fought to hold back the tears that were building in her eyes until she could reach the solitude of her bedroom. As she left, her sisters exchanged a sad look with each other.
The wedding of Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Black was the preeminent social event of the year. All the pureblood families were in attendance, except for a small handful that were not invited because they were considered blood traitors…the Weasleys were included in this second group, although in reality they were related to the Black family. Many ministry officials were there as well.
Cassius and Severus stood up with Lucius, while Bella and Andromeda were Narcissa's attendants. Cassius did his best to not fidget, but he couldn't stand strict formalities. Thankfully, for his sanity, the actual ceremony was of rather short duration. But the wedding ball…that was another story. It dragged on far into the night. Cassius was forced to stand with the wedding party for pictures and greetings from all the guests. He lost track of how many times he heard variations of "And you're next, Cassius! Some young lady will catch your eye and we'll be gathering here for your wedding!" He was getting dizzy because he couldn't stop himself from rolling his eyes whenever the pronouncement "You're next!" was made to him.
Thankfully, Lucius and Narcissa knew better than to say that to him, and simply gave him sad smiles whenever someone else said it.
Cassius knew he couldn't very well leave until he'd mingled for a while. And he kept getting drawn into conversations with people he barely even knew. He enjoyed speaking with his old schoolmates who were there, including Severus, whom he discussed potions with for close to an hour. He tried to avoid the handful of girls who wanted to speak with him, and worse yet, wanted to dance with him.
Much to his regret, he was forced to dance with a few of them…including Evana Rosier. She kept simpering and twittering at him, and laughed at literally everything he said…which began to weigh heavily on his nerves. She danced with him for four straight dances before he was able to excuse himself without coming across like a jerk. He escaped to the refreshment table.
Well, perhaps he didn't fully escape. Theodore Nott sidled up to him as Cassius was sampling a glass of wine and some ourderves.
"So, Malfoy, I hear you're abandoning your family and running off because you're afraid to join the Dark Lord." He leered at Cassius over the top of his glass as he took a drink.
Cassius didn't particularly feel like dealing with Theodore at the moment. "Not now, Nott; I'm…NOT in the mood." He chuckled at his own joke, but Nott's glare intensified.
"Making fun of my name? How pathetic! You Malfoys think you're better than everyone else," he hissed through clenched teeth, taking a step closer to Cassius. "Especially now that you're brother is marrying into the Black family."
Cassius sighed. "Au contraire, my friend…Malfoys don't think we're better than everyone else; we are better than everyone else." He chuckled again, then caught Andromeda staring at him. She raised an eyebrow at his comment and he gulped. "Well, except for the Blacks, of course. And maybe the Greengrasses. But yeah…better than the rest of you lot…Nott." He smirked and took a swig of his wine.
Rage surged through Nott, so he thought he'd push his luck. He'd seen the glances that Andromeda and Cassius had been exchanging all evening, and knew that the two still loved each other. He stepped closer to Cassius and murmured, "Too bad your daddy married Lucius off to one of the Black sisters. He wouldn't want a double alliance with the same family, now would he? But maybe my father can swing a deal with the Blacks. They still have one unmarried daughter, after all." He chuckled and stepped back, nasty leer plastered to his face as he made a pointed glance at Andromeda.
Cassius face betrayed no emotion whatsoever, but the rage surged inside his guts and brain. Anyone who knew him, knew him well, would realize that when Cassius' face went completely blank was when he was at his most dangerous. Nott, however, was unaware of this fact. He and Cassius had never been close.
Andromeda, though…Andromeda knew him well. Very well. And when she saw the look on Cassius' face, she moved closer so she could intervene if necessary. Because she knew that whenever Cassius reached a point where his face looked the way it did at that moment, violence was always immanent. She wasn't certain what the two men were talking about, but she had seen the leer that Theodore Nott had sent her way, and it made her stomach roil with disgust. Most likely Nott had made a disparaging comment about her, pushing Cassius to the point of violence.
And indeed, Cassius' fingers were curled around his wand in a tight grip. He had half a mind to rip Nott's tongue out for dragging Andromeda's name through the dirt like that, and then make him eat it. But no, he loved Lucius and Narcissa too much to ruin their wedding with a petty duel against the likes of Nott. His fingers relaxed and he took another swig of wine, his eyes staying fixed on Nott. Cassius shrugged. "It's up to them, I suppose. But Andromeda only likes strong men, Nott…not weak, spineless, boot licking sycophants such as yourself. Trust me on this: she'd kill you in less than a week if her father ever promised her to you."
Cassius took another swig and emptied his glass, his eyes still on Nott, and sneering at the expression of utter rage plastered on the man's face. Andromeda stepped over at that point and placed her hand on Cassius shoulder. "Cass, Lucius wants to talk to you." He didn't really. Andromeda just knew the right moment to intervene before curses started flying.
Cassius, still sneering at Nott, set his glass down on the table and thanked Andromeda. He excused himself and walked over to where Lucius was talking loudly about something or other to a group of their old schoolmates, who appeared to be hanging on Lucius' every word. A laugh rippled through the group as Cassius arrived. Lucius turned when he noticed his brother standing beside him.
"CASSISUS!" He loudly exclaimed. "Are you having a good time, brother?"
No, not really.
"Yes, Lucius, I'm having an amazing time," Cassius lied. "Um, what did you want to talk to me about?"
Lucius barked out a loud laugh. "I didn't want to talk to you about anything, little brother! I just want you to enjoy yourself!" Then he stood and hugged Cassius, who had decided that Lucius was quite drunk. "Now off you go! Find some pretty girl to dance with and give your heart to! You know, it'll be your wedding next, Cas." He winked and elbowed Cassius in the stomach. "Evana looks quite fetching tonight, doesn't she?"
Cassius felt like vomiting. Lucius must be very drunk to hit Cassius with the "you're turn next!" line he'd studiously avoided using earlier. From the corner of his eye he saw Narcissa flinch at Lucius comment. He attempted a smile, but it looked very much like a grimace. "No, I believe I've danced my fill for the evening." More like my fill for the entire year, he thought, but kept the phony smile on his face. "If you don't need me, Lucius, I fear I must take my leave."
Lucius was too drunk at the moment to comprehend that Cassius meant he was leaving leaving…leaving England, not just the party. He was antsy and wanted to get on with the next stage of his life, just as his brother and new sister-in-law were doing with theirs. He hugged Lucius, who swayed on his feet when he returned the hug, before dropping heavily back into his chair and calling for more wine.
Cassius Turned to Narcissa, who had stood up to tell him goodbye, and they hugged as well.
"Welcome to the family," he murmured in her ear, and she squeezed him tightly.
"Thank you, Cassius." she whispered. "Be safe. And keep in touch."
They stepped apart, and Narcissa noticed how forced Cassius smile was.
"Take care of…yourself," he said. "And…my brother, too," he added with a nod of his head toward Lucius who had returned to his previous discussion.
Narcissa gave him a sad smile. She knew he was wanting to tell her to take care of Andromeda as well, but felt it wasn't his place to do so. So she acknowledged his unspoken request. "I will. Andi, too." She left the comment vague. But she could tell from the thankful look in his eyes and curt nod that he understood what she meant.
She leaned forward and gave him one last hug. "Goodbye, Cass," she whispered.
"Bye, Cissa," he mumbled in reply before breaking the hug and stepping back. With a last nod, he turned and left the room through a side door. Narcissa was watching Andromeda from across the room, and when Cassius slipped out, Andromeda saw and slipped out of the room as well.
Narcissa sighed, shaking her head sadly before returning to her husband's side.
Cassius had just exited the sunroom into the gardens when Andromeda caught up to him. "Well, Cassius…trying to leave without saying goodbye?" She tried to keep her voice light and casual, but her voice wavered.
Cassius didn't seem to notice, however. He glanced at her. "No, I was going to find you and…say goodbye. I just had to get out of there." He stopped walking and stood still a moment before he started to pace back and forth on the grass. Andromeda was watching him in silence
"Little brother indeed," he muttered as he continued pacing. "I'm only ten and a half months younger than he is! All my life I've lived in father's shadow, Lucius' shadow. Well, not anymore! I'm going out into the world and making something of myself!"
He stopped pacing and faced Andromeda. "I…guess this is goodbye, then, Andi." He looked away.
"Yes," she replied, her voice barely a whisper. She held her tears back through sheer force of will. She wanted to say more to him, beg him not to go, defy her family and offer to run off with him so they could be together. But the words were stuck in her mind, jumbling together in her thoughts, unable to form coherency in speech.
When she didn't say anything more, he glanced at her again. She noted the pain in his eyes before he looked away with a sigh. "Well, take care of yourself," he mumbled, still not meeting her gaze.
"You too." Andromeda's gaze never left his face…she wanted to remember what he looked like, memorize everything about his face into a cherished, if not depressing, memory.
After another glance at her, he strode off; his steps seemed confident, until they faltered and he came to a stop a few yards away. Looking over his shoulder at her, they held each other's gaze a moment before Cassius murmured, "I…I never stopped loving you, you know." Several seconds of silence ticked by. Andromeda didn't reply. Not because she had nothing to say, but because she still couldn't get her brain to function properly in order for her mouth to work. Cassius still loved her, still loved her, even after the mess with their parents, and with Ted…
When no answer was forthcoming, Cassius sighed in defeat, and turned away, resuming his walk. About 20 feet out, he stopped again and turned. His gaze held her own, and she thought his eyes looked empty. "Goodbye, Miss Black." His voice was as cold as an Antarctic gale. Then with a loud crack he disaparted.
Andromeda staggered over and collapsed onto the spot he'd disappeared from. Looking up at the stars as her eyes began to leak tears that refused to be held back any longer, her brain resumed its normal functioning and she whispered, "I never stopped loving you, either."
That was where Narcissa found her sister almost an hour later…sitting on the ground in her beautiful, expensive dress, just staring up at the sky. Her tears had long since dried, but even in the dim light Narcissa could tell that her sister had been crying.
"Andi? What in the world are you doing out here?"
Andromeda pulled her eyes from the stars and gave Narcissa a gentle smile. "Says the new bride who's out in the gardens with her distraught sister instead of inside at her own wedding ball."
Narcissa was silent a moment before reaching down and pulling Andromeda to her feet. "Cassius?" She asked. Narcissa had noticed the two of them avoiding one another all evening and yet unable to keep their eyes off each other. Her heart ached for her sister and new brother-in-law, as they were clearly still in love and yet could never be together. It was times like this when Narcissa almost hated her pureblood upbringing.
Andromeda stared blankly at Narcissa, the tears starting to once more build in the corners of her eyes. "He's gone," she whispered. Andromeda grew silent once more, looking back up at the stars.
Narcissa raised an eyebrow, knowing there was more. Andromeda had known Cassius was leaving for weeks. The two girls were still holding hands. Narcissa gave her sister's hand an encouraging squeeze. Andromeda lowered her eyes to Narcissa's eyes again. "Oh, Cissy!" she sobbed, her voice still a whisper. "He told me that he'd never stopped loving me, even after…after…" Andromeda broke down sobbing.
Narcissa pulled her into a tight hug, heedless of what the tears might do to her very expensive wedding gown as Andromeda rested her head on her sister's shoulder. The gown didn't matter. The only thing that mattered to Narcissa in that moment was the fact her sister was in pain. She rubbed circles on Andromeda's back while murmuring. "Shhh, Andi. It will be ok. But I know it hurts right now."
After several minutes, Andromeda's sobbing ceased, and she composed herself.
"I'm sorry, Cissy…I'm ruining your wedding ball, out here blubbering over a boy like a school girl with her first crush." She sniffed and offered Narcissa a small, sad, apologetic smile.
"Come on," Narcissa said, moving to her sister's side and not addressing her comment. "Let's go back in and join the party." Many other sisters would have made some comment about Andromeda finding some nice men to dance with, but as with Cassius, she knew better than to say that. She knew her sister's heart already belonged to someone else, and a comment about other men would only add to Andromeda's pain.
She took Andromeda's arm and slowly they returned to the celebration at Malfoy Manner.
A/N: so, here's this story idea that (as usual) was begging to be put onto paper…metaphorically speaking. It's a bit darker in places, but as always it is laced with humor throughout. Not going to be a very long story, I don't think, and I promise that I am still working on my other stories. Time constraints, a busy workplace, and a bit of writer's block have been plaguing me of late. Anyway, I hope whoever happens to read this enjoys it, and if so I hope you let me know.