When: The night Andy gets home for Christmas holidays
Where: Home sweet home
Etc: Bella written by Becca, Lucius by Jaide, and Narcissa by Allie
Half an hour ago Andromeda been on the Hogwarts Express, forced to stay put in the prefect's compartment and avidly pretending that Ted Tonks was not sitting diagonally across from her. At the time it had seemed intolerably uncomfortable and she'd been itching to be anywhere but there; now, several hundred miles away and alone in the cold and dark, she'd have given anything for a Time Turner. The quiet, crushing guilt of being around Ted, around her friends, was by far preferable to the sick anticipation of what she'd be greeted by once she walked into that house.
It wasn't a welcoming sight, she thought heavily, her eyes tracing the familiar lines and planes of the manor as she approached it, trunk levitating dutifully behind her. A few windows here and there flickerd with firelight, but Black Manor couldn't have looked more imposing had it made an effort. Huge and hulking and somehow stern, reproachful, it gave no outward indication whatsoever that Christmas was less than a week away. It didn't even offer warmth; it would shield her from the snow, yes, but Andromeda knew too well that there would be no comfort in that place.
The walk up the driveway had never seemed so long, nor the high yew hedges so claustrophobic, and by the time Andromeda actually made it to the front doors of the manor, she was fully on her guard and vaguely nauseaous. She had had conflicts with her parents, certainly, sometimes severe ones, but she'd never kissed a Muggleborn before. This was on a completely different level than anything she'd ever done, and she had no idea what to expect. Worse even than that was a deeper, better founded fear: she had no way of knowing whether Bellatrix was home. There had never been any question of who posed the bigger threat, given a choice between her parents and her sister, and it wasn't a question of if Bella would pay her back for her indiscretion. It was only down to how soon she could manage to corner her.
As Andy pushed open one of the massive double front doors, sending her trunk upstairs with a flick of her wand, she took in the ponderous silence of the entrance hall with a frown. If they hadn't met her at King's Cross, she hadn't expected them to meet her at the door, but something still didn't feel right. Trying to put it down to nerves, she slipped her wand back into her pocket (robes, only robes, now, until January) and moved cautiously up the grand, curving staircase to the first place she could think to look for her parents.
It wasn't much of a relief when she was right in one. The drawing room door was ajar, yellow firelight spilling out in a slice onto the thick, somber carpet that ran the length of the stone corridor. They were waiting for her. Straightening her back and forcing a calm, neutral look onto her face to cover the fear, Andy nudged her way into the room.
"I'm back," she said unnecessarily, and was met with two impassive, stony stares. Cygnus Black, a tall, handsome, severe man, rose from his chair and slowly crossed the room to his middle child. He held in his hands a slender book bound in fine, dark green leather. Andromeda frowned. It was Narcissa's journal. He stopped in front of Andy and gazed down at her; she stared up at him silently, unnerved to see her own eyes mirrored back with an expression far colder than any native to her own face. Children spoke when spoken to--she wasn't a child, but standing here like this made her feel nine years old again, sobbing over a broken mirror, an exhausted, self-battered house-elf at her side. It wasn't a rule strictly enforced, but when you needed to keep your head down, sometimes it helped.
And sometimes it wasn't enough. When Andromeda remained silent, Cynus narrowed his eyes and let the journal fall open to a marked page. He read her own words aloud into the stillness of the room, and Andy's stomach plummeted. There wouldn't be a satisfactory answer to what she knew was coming.
"'I'm not sorry I did it, if that's what you're waiting to hear.'"
Her explanation cut short in a sharp yelp. Cygnus, his face twisted horribly in his anger and disgust, had hit her forcefully across her left cheek with the back of one heavy hand. Shocked, her own hand clapped to her face, Andromeda stared open-mouthed at the carpet and hated herself for the tears that immediately rushed to sting her eyes. She'd been injured by Bella before, seen things in this house that she would never repeat to another living soul, but never once had her father raised a hand against her. She tasted bile bitter in her mouth and lifted her head to look to her mother; Druella merely gazed into the hearth, tense and clutching the arm of her chair, but immovable as stone. Unwillingly, her heart pounding, Andy instead slowly looked back up at Cygnus. He still wore the monsterous anger plainly on his face.
"That is all, Andromeda."
Her cheekbone aching (it was red, would bruise), and her muscles trembling in shock, Andromeda turned and started blindly for her bedroom. She couldn't think, couldn't do any more than try desperately to not cry from pain and surprise, but the corridors were blurry; if she could just get back to her room, lock the door--she could get herself together by dinner--
A cool, drawling voice, a girl's voice, cut through her haze like a knife, and Andy, her hand still pressed to her face, stopped short. She did not look into the open doorway to her right.
"Oh, Bella. Look who's come home."