velvetfiction: (chocolate&magic)
[personal profile] velvetfiction
Title: Best Left Unsaid
Author: [ profile] velvetmouse, for the Summer 2006 [ profile] femgenficathon
Rating: G
Fandom: Harry Potter
Prompt: 29. The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. --Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Summary: Andromeda Tonks discovers that blood ties really are the strongest bond.
Notes: Written pre-DH so some of the 'facts' about the Black sisters are non-canon.

My family was not what you might call "caring." I learned many many valuable lessons from them – mostly in what not to do – but you could hardly say that being "loving" or "caring" was one of them. Which is not to say we are incapable of either; indeed, we are perhaps too prone to both. We just don't show it, that's all.

Poor Ted has spent years trying to train that out of me. I keep telling him that it's a hopeless battle, that we Blacks are far too conditioned never to betray anything that might be used to hurt us. He just laughs at me and reminds me that I'm a Tonks now – and that I have a daughter now, who looks up to me. So for Nymphadora's sake, I try to be more demonstrative. But mostly I leave those lessons to her father.

So clearly, it was not for the sake of love that I found myself slipping into the back of a packed courtroom on a dreary winter morning, early in 1982. I kept to the back of the room, and hid in the folds of my large cloak, and I questioned why I was there at all. Perhaps it was some deep, residual loyalty to my big sister. Loyalty is something we Blacks understand.

Wasn't it odd, I reflected as reporters and spectators alike jockeyed for the best positions, that I was here for my sister, who had all but disowned me, and yet I had studiously stayed away when my favorite cousin was sentenced to the same fate?

I chalked it up to the fact that I could not accept what Sirius had done – Sirius, my favorite little cousin, Sirius my supporter, Sirius the other black sheep of the family, as it were. I couldn't believe he had betrayed his friends like that, it was so uncharacteristic of him. But then, he too is a Black, and we are all cursed in one way or another.

And so I stood and watched the sentencing of my older sister (even now, I will not call that mockery of justice a "trial"). As I watched her stand there, proud and defiant, I marveled at how strong her belief was. I might not agree with her, or the one she called "Master" but I couldn't help but admire her conviction. She was always the strong one. Yet another thing my family taught me.

So perhaps it was not just loyalty that had moved me to be there that morning, but a peculiar kind of love for Bella. A love for my big sister that no amount of insults, philosophical differences or horrific acts could push away.

Bella had commanded, and Cissy had charmed her way through our House at school. I fumbled and stumbled and largely just tried to stay out of the way, unnoticed by the internal machinations of the Slytherin political structure. My name was enough to ensure that I was not at the bottom of the pecking order, but it was Bella's quiet coaching and solid presence at my back that allowed me to get through school largely unscathed.

Even standing there, listening to the litany of crimes she had committed, knowing with certainty that my own husband and daughter could have been next on her list – even then I could not find it within me to shut her out of heart.

I watched in stony silence as her fate was pronounced. I could not deny the horror of what she and her husband had perpetrated, but I was equally horrified at the legal and procedural shortcuts that the elder Barty Crouch was taking. Bella, it seemed, would be An Example for the Ministry to hold up. Or a martyr, depending on one's point of view. I just saw my big sister being taken away from me forever, any hope of ever reconciling with her slipping away in the mere moments that the proceedings took.

All too soon it was over, and the prisoners were being escorted down the long aisle to the door and their fate.

"Bella!" I called out to her as she passed me by, and she stopped, head still held high, and narrowed her eyes at me.

I opened my mouth to speak, to tell her – tell her what, I am not certain. But then a group of shouting reporters spilled through the crowd, and the moment was broken. I lowered my eyes and looked away, and did not look up again until the prisoners, and their accompanying entourage, had melted away.

I do not know how long I sat in that empty courtroom with my eyes shut. I did not open them again until a voice above me hissed "How dare you?"

I opened my eyes to see my baby sister, the Ice Queen herself, looking down her nose at me. "How dare you show your face here?" she hissed again.

I looked up at her, and my snippy retort died on my lips. Suddenly I understood what Ted had been trying to tell me about loving your family. I looked into the face of my sister, and saw, not the brittle, beautiful woman she was, but the round-faced, rosey-cheeked little girl she had been, with long blonde pigtails and short little legs pumping as fast as they would go in an attempt to keep up with her older sisters.

I laughed quietly, though there were tears in my eyes, and I took her hand to draw her down next to me. For a moment I thought she was going to pull away, but then she sat next to me, and I thought I could see some of the frost beginning to melt.

"How do I dare? I'm a Black, that's how," I replied without a hint of malice or scorn. She glared at me, but did not release my hand. "She's still my big sister too, Cissy. Even if I don't agree with her, even if we haven't spoken in almost a decade. . . that doesn't change the fact that Bella is still my big sister. And you're my little sister. Right now nothing else matters."

"You've gone soft, Andi," she chided me with a smile. "All that time with your half-blood daughter has made you forget your lessons." She made no reference to Ted, I noted with amusement – perhaps an unspoken concession to keeping this renewed communication open.

I smiled at her and brushed away an errant lock of blonde hair from her face – a gesture so second nature to me that I did not realize what I was doing until I was done. That piece of hair was forever escaping, no matter how Bella and I had tried to confine it.

Cissy was apparently thinking along the same lines. "Bella never could get it to stay," she commented with a far away look in her eyes. "She even tried to use a Sticking Charm on it once – do you remember? Oh Andi, she's gone. Really gone." My little sister's face crumpled and she did not resist when I pulled her close.

We sat there for a moment, leaking wet tears onto each other's shoulder, Cissy's sharp features mirroring my rounder ones. We must have looked like a study in contrasts, but there was no question we were sisters.

I pulled back to look her in the eye. "Bella is. . . a fighter. You know that when she gets fixated on something, she'll throw herself into completely. She'll make it out of this, somehow. You'll see," I said, ignoring the impossibility of my comments. No one got out of Azkaban. But that didn't matter just then. "Be glad that husband of yours was able to buy his way out of a similar fate. . . Speaking of whom," I said with a quick, meaningful glance at the doorway.

Cissy nodded and withdrew her wand to cast a few quick Freshening spells over both of us. She was always the best at Charms. Bella excelled at the curses, and I'm a fair hand at Transfiguration. Together we've made a pretty good team.

"I need to get back to my husband and son. Take care of yourself, Andi," she said meaningfully. "Be careful. Remember, you're a Slytherin."

I nodded. "You too, little sister."

She stood and took a deep breath to visibly regain her composure, and headed for the door.

"And Cissy?" I called after her. She stopped but did not turn around. "If you ever need anything - anything - I'm still around. Really."

She threw a small smile over her shoulder, and I smiled back at her. Everything else would remain unsaid. We are, after all, Blacks.


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