Upon the birth of her first child, each Black woman is given a charm and a curse. Her mother, if she is Black born and bred, or her husband's mother, if she is Black by marriage, instructs her in the magic of the family tapestry. From mother to daughter the spells are passed: one to weave in a child's name, one to destroy it.
Cygnus, Bellatrix, Narcissa, Rodolphus, and Lucius are assembled in the sitting room. Ranged in a half circle before the tapestry, they watch as Druella raises her wand.
A gap opens in the tapestry. It splits and gold embroidery scorches and unravels. As Druella's family watches, the letters turn to flames and the sundered magic twists, forcing threads to unweave themselves from the cloth. Spell filaments writhe in agony and the odor of charred blood rises into the air. In a matter of days, nothing will remain but a hole, surrounded by dead, broken magic. The Blacks file out, one by one, leaving the curse to its work.
It is dark when Narcissa and Lucius return home. There is an owl waiting in the foyer, and when Narcissa Apparates to her dressing room, there is another one there. She undresses and a house elf brushes out her hair. The owls flutter and hoot, shaking their legs at her.
There is a divan and a table in her sitting room, and when Narcissa lies down, an elf brings her a tea tray and another one collects the letters from the owls. She knows what they will say, and so she savors the first sip of her tea and inhales the steam. After the moment has passed, she picks up a letter and skims it.
I had a sister.
I had a sister once.
Irritably, Narcissa thinks that Bellatrix still has a sister. Not herself—that's not what Bella means. But family is family, tapestry or no. Unbidden, the smell of blood comes to her mind. It's just symbolic—but she won't be in touch with Andromeda, regardless. She wouldn't turn her away if she came back, however.
A soft hoot alerts her to a new owl sweeping across the room. She pulls off the note herself, and it is also tearstained and smudged. There is nothing more to be done tonight, so she orders an elf to burn the letters and lies back on the divan. It's not comfortable, but she doesn't want to share a bed with Lucius tonight.
Narcissa wakes up when the sun hits her in the face. Her windows face east and bars of sunlight leach the color from the rugs, the table and its breakfast tray, and her robe. There is a small stack of letters by the tray—did Bellatrix sleep? Or was she awake the whole night? The smell of bacon is disgusting—Narcissa throws the tray to the ground and upends the coffee over the letters. With a sharp crack, she Disapparates.
Bella's parlor is a scene of devastation. Narcissa steps over a shattered chair and skirts a puddle of some liquid to reach Bella, who is hunched in the corner of the room.
"The Mudblood," Bella growls. She doesn't look up at Narcissa, speaks to her knees instead. "She left us, for a Mudblood." She looks up now, and her expression is bewildered. "Toujours pur." Bella laughs, a high, bitter cackle, until she sobs.
Where is Rodolphus, Narcissa thinks irritably, then catches herself. Rodolphus is not, and never will be, a Black, no more than Lucius will. They are good men but they do not belong here in Bella's parlor, amidst the traces of a sundered family. No, not sundered. Andromeda is still a Black.
"Let's go to bed," Narcissa says, and she helps Bella stand. She slings an arm around her sister's waist and half-carries, half-walks her around and over the wreckage of the parlor and into the bedroom, which is surprisingly unscathed. It is Bellatrix's and Rodolphus' room, though, unlike the parlor, which is Bella's territory. Presumably Rodolphus was here last night, or perhaps he was at the Lestrange home, or for all she knew, he and Lucius were unconscious in a tavern. She pulls back the blankets and helps Bella climb into bed. She looks so pale, her head on the pillow and everything else hidden under the comforter. A disembodied head, pale skin and black hair tumbled around it against cold grey sheets.
"Wait." Bella tugs at Narcissa's robe and mumbles, "Wait. Don't go." She opens her eyes, and they are dark and hollow, set in sunken pits. "Don't," and her hand drops.
Narcissa sighs, but she is tired, too, after sleeping on the divan last night. It had been silly and self-indulgent. She sheds her robe and crawls in on the other side of the bed. She and Bella scoot toward each other and fall asleep face to face, foreheads touching and arms around each other, as they had when they were children.
When Narcissa wakes, it is because Bella is clutching her. She looks up at her sister's wild, blotchy face, hair hanging down around it in tangles, and Bella's hands tighten on her shoulders.
"I have no sister," Bella snarls, and then her face crumples and she collapses, burying her face in Narcissa's chest.
When they had been children, Bella had played with Andromeda and doted on Narcissa. Bella and Andromeda played together, Andromeda and Cissy squabbled, and Cissy followed Bella around, tagging at her heels. When Bella went away to Hogwarts, Cissy had been left with Andromeda, and they had both sulked. Andromeda hadn't come out of her suite for a week. Cissy hadn't left hers for a month. And then Andromeda went to school, and Cissy had to learn to be alone.
Narcissa takes a deep breath and strokes Bella's hair, presses her lips to her head. "I'm still here," she whispers. Eyes closed, she holds on and says, "I'm still here," through Bella's tears, through her laughter.