The Great Hall fell silent with anticipation as the House Black heir sat on the stool, closing her eyes as the hat was placed on top her head.
Ah, the final Black has come to Hogwarts. The Hat muttered to Arabella. I've been looking forwards to this.
The girl bit her lip nervously, uncomfortable that the talking hat held her entire future in its metaphorical hand.
Yes, yes you're much like your parents; you inherited all the nerve and passion of a Gryffindor, and I can sense arrogance deep-seated within. But there's a thirst for knowledge, too, one not quite easily sated. The talking hat paused, murmuring to itself before continuing. But you won't fulfill your potential in Ravenclaw, despite your protests otherwise. You want to learn but have no desire to dedicate yourself to it. But it's not out of laziness, you're a very hard working girl. And you're longing to prove yourself to your family, despite not approving of them, shows me great loyalty.
Arabella pinched her eyes closed, sensing where this was going.
It seems that you're most outspoken about your beliefs of equality. You have a strong disbelief of stereotypes, and you crave a place of belonging where no one will judge you. Hufflepuff is where you strive.
No? The hat mimicked. You demand me to place you elsewhere? I see. You are Sirius Black's daughter, after all. The hat huffed, startling the first years below.
I don't want to strive in Hufflepuff. If you refuse to make me a Ravenclaw then you must put me in Slytherin; I won't go elsewhere.
Slytherin, hm? The Hat growled inquisitively. I must say, you're just like them; clever, proud, manipulative in the way only a Black could be. It chuckled again, a deeper, much darker sound this time. You share something with dear cousin Bellatrix it seems, Ms. Black. That fiery temper isn't just a coincidence, and neither is the hatred in your heart. But it goes much deeper than that.
It felt like an eternity had passed. You've made my choice harder, girl.
It shouldn't be. I've made up my mind.
"So it seems" The Sorting Hat finally spoke, breaking the tense silence, "Arabella Black, so it shall be..."
"Voldemort is dead. The war is over. Why are you risking yourself and everything we've built over petty revenge?" Diana pleaded, verging on hysterics, "He's a goddamn rat; he'll get what's coming to him"
Sirius growled as the face of the traitor entered his thoughts. It was no longer about revenge, but justice for his dead friends and their orphaned son.
"We were his friends! We treated him like a brother and we trusted him, Lily and James trust him. And he betrayed them. He doesn't deserve to walk away from this, Diana:
"But why is it your responsibility? You have a child, a baby girl who needs her father. What if something happens? I can't do this without you"
Sirius quickly gathered his distraught wife in his arms and held her tightly against him. She clenched the lapels of his jacket, and refused to let go as tears gathered in her eyes.
"My beautiful Furryclaw," He grinned as his wife laughed snottily against him, "Nothing will take me away from you and Arabella, but I need to do this for Lily and James"
Diana looked up at the steely eyes she had come to adore and sighed as a bone deep exhaustion took over, "I can't talk you out of this, can I?"
"I'm afraid you can't, love" He pressed a soft kiss into her hairline before letting her go and turning to their daughter. Arabella was sitting in her highchair, happily babbling as she slammed her tiny fists onto the empty tray, blissfully unaware.
"Da! Da!" She squealed, reaching her chubby hands out to him the moment he turned to her, "Da! Da!"
Sirius complied with a toothy smile, tucking her into his side, "I have to step away for a moment, Ara; will you be a good girl for mummy?"
"Da! Da!" The toddler bellowed, grabbing handfuls of her father's hair and tugging none too lightly.
Diana couldn't help but to smile at them. Arabella resembled her father in more than just looks; it seemed she also inherited his ability to be obnoxiously loud all the time. Diana couldn't help but to love it. She'd be devastated if she lost the sound of father and daughter's heartfelt laughs.
"I know you like daddies hair but we talked about this. Only mummy can pull daddies hair" He chuckled as Diana's expression turned exasperated and carefully pried the babies' hands out of his hair, "Be a good girl for daddy" He pressed a kiss to Arabella's rosy cheek and handed her back to Diana, "I'll be back, I solemnly swear"
With a wink and a swift flick of his wrist, Sirius was gone. Diana held her daughter close, burying her face into the unruly black ringlets.
"He's going to come back, Arabella, he's going to come back"
Two years later, Diana wasn't sure where the time had gone. Sirius never did come home and it had only gotten worse from there.
The Ministry had shown up at her door the next morning, with news that Sirius had in fact confronted Pettigrew in the middle of a crowded muggle street. They told Diana that Pettigrew had exclaimed that Sirius betrayed Lily and James, and overcome with rage, Sirius casted a curse that created an explosion killing twelve muggles and Pettigrew.
But Diana knew better, knowing the rat led Sirius right into a trap. She repeatedly begged the Ministry to listen, that Sirius was an innocent man framed by someone who they thought was his friend. But no one believed her, no one listened, and the case was closed with Sirius's sentence to life in Azkaban.
Diana knew they saw her as a desperate woman trying to get her murderer husband out of prison but, she knew the truth; she knew her husband was innocent.
She sighed, removing the whistling teapot from the burner. It had been a very, very long day already without all the reminiscing and all she wanted to do with curl up with her daughter and have a cup of tea.
During her two year mission to release Sirius from that dreaded place, Diana hadn't spent much time with her daughter. Instead, her Godfather watched her.
Remus Lupin was a godsend, if Diana was being honest. At first he had been hesitant to watch the baby but now they were nearly inseparable. Diana appreciated the best friend of her husband but his presence often made Diana long for her husband.
She would never see Arabella and Sirius together, all wide eyed and mischievous under wild curls.
Careful not to spill her over-honeyed tea Diana slinked into the lounge and found her daughter sitting on the carpet, watching television with wide, sad eyes.
"What's wrong, sweets?"
Arabella looked up to her mother, frowning as she asked, "Is daddy coming home soon?
Between Remus's tales and Diana's reminiscing to keep Arabella from forgetting her father, it became a frequent, almost daily question that broke Diana's heart.
She wanted nothing more than to have Sirius back but it wasn't possible. A fact her daughter was too young to comprehend.
Diana sat next to her daughter on the floor, gently running a hand through Arabella's hair, "I miss him too, Ara" She set the cup down on the coffee table, suddenly queasy, and forced a smile for her daughter, "Are you hungry, sweets?"
"Remus told me you didn't eat all your lunch this afternoon, are you sure you're not hungry?"
Arabella shook her head, "I'm sure, Mama"
"How about I make your favourite?" Diana offered with a knowing look on her face, "Spaghetti?"
Arabella visibly struggled with herself before giving in, "Okay, Mama, I'll have some spa...get...tie"
Diana couldn't help but to chuckle, "Spaghetti" She corrected fondly.
"Mm, that" Arabella cheekily agreed.
The woman stood but four apparitions' cut off her laugh. She pulled her daughter up and hid the frightened girl behind her.
"What the hell are you doing?" Diana demanded as four men burst through her front door, "Who the hell are you?" With the hand not holding Arabella behind her, Diana reached for the wand in her pants.
"We are the Department of Magical Law and Enforcement" One of them spoke firmly, "And you, Diana Volkov-Black, are hereby placed under arrest"
Diana's grip on her wand tightened, but she knew she couldn't duel five wizards with her daughter holding her, "Under what accusations?" She growled, "You've barged into my home, frightened my daughter and placed me under arrest, I have a right to know what's going on" She yelled when she didn't receive an answer.
"Evidence has come to our attention that you aided in Sirius Black's betrayal of James and Lily Potter" Another one of the men informed, his voice void of any emotion.
"I did no such thing" Diana argued, taking a step backwards, "You have no proof, no right to do this" She should have known something like this would happen. Her appeals for Sirius's case were catching the attention of the wrong type of people in the Ministry.
"I wish to speak with the Minister of Magic" Diana demanded, much calmer then she felt, "If he wishes to place me under arrest fine but, I'd like to hear it come from his mouth. I won't go willingly until I do"
The burliest of the men glared deeply at Diana, his lips curling to an ugly sneer, "You Volkov's are the same" He spat, "Declaring your innocence until the very end. You won't be seeing the Minister, woman; we all know you deserve this anyways"
Diana raised her wand as the situation finally clicked, "You wish to sentence me to the kiss, don't you?" She eyed the men, trembling as she did so, "Take me to the Ministry. You can't do this, you can't do this!"
"We can and we will" A softer spoken man mocked, "We don't need any more Volkov's in this world. The more of you gone the better"
Diana saw red. "Confundo" She screamed.
"Protego! Locomotor Mortis!"
Arabella narrowly managed to dodge her mother's falling body, letting out a startled scream.
"We must go" One of them instructed, "Leave the girl"
One-by-one they apparated away, leaving the Volkov women to their fates.
Diana struggled but it was of little use. She wasn't a fool; she knew that this was it.
Ara whimpered, crawling to her mother's side. "Mama?"
"Your daddy and I love you, very much" The words are caught in her throat, feeling the chill of Dementors, "Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. We love you, so very much"
Confused, but sensing her mother's fear, Arabella nodded through tears, "I love you too"
"Hide, Arabella! Hide and don't come out" When Arabella didn't move, Diana yelled, "Go, Arabella! Now!"
Ara scrambled out of the living room, stumbling into the closet with their coats and shoes and curled into a ball against the wall.
With a cold laugh, Diana watched as the hooded black figures floated through her home. She glared helplessly at them, fueled by nothing but hate.
"We created you! And you vile, soulless, evil bastards have taken everything from us" She snarled, staring fearlessly at the Dementor who drifted down to her, "You can all get bent, damn you! Damn you!"
A magical, wispy phoenix swooped into the house with a burst of blue light, sending the Dementors fleeing with fright.
As warmth returned to the small home, Arabella peeked her head out of the closet. Instead of the intimidating men, she saw an old man in green robes and an old woman in red. They looked grim, standing in the middle of the lounge.
"Dear Merlin" The woman muttered, voice thick with emotion, "We were too late, Albus"
A beat of silence passed before the man spoke, "We need to find Arabella and bring her back to Hogwarts before they come back"
"I will contact St. Mungo's. They will take care of her"
The woman caught Arabella's eyes over Albus's shoulder, "Hello, dear girl" She said softly.
The man turned, and Arabella admired him for a moment. He had a very long, white beard and kind eyes. "Hello, Arabella" He smiled softly, "It's safe now. Why don't you come out?"
"What are we going to do, Albus? Both Diana and Sirius..." The woman murmured, watching the girl cautiously crawl out of her hiding space.
The man stroked his beard with a thoughtful look, "I may have an idea"
Severus Snape hated Dumbledore's office, he hated waiting ever more.
When the door opened, after what felt like a lifetime, he was quick to quip, "You took your time despite this being an emergency. Has your age finally caught up?"
Dumbledore silently sat down across from Severus, and the younger man nearly ate his words.
The Wizard was haggard, appearing older as he sat hunched over his desk, and as sullen as the day he returned from Godric's Hollow.
"My apologies, Severus"
The grim tone sent shivers down Severus's spine. He sat straight, realising the severity of the situation, "What happened?"
The Headmaster sighed, "I presume you remember Diana Volkov?"
"Of course I do" Severus narrowed his eyes, barely holding back a scoff at the ridiculous question, do"
"Tonight, the Ministry has declared Diana an aid to Sirius's betrayal of Lily and James"
"That's impossible" Severus shook his head, "She may have been loyal to Black but, she and Lily were like sisters. She's innocent!"
And suddenly he felt eleven again, sitting on the train across from a girl with enough snark for both of them. The same woman who had been nothing but kind to the man who disgraced the friendship they shared.
"There must be something we can, Albus" Severus implored, "She won't last long with Black in Azkaban. There must be something we can do"
Dumbledore's lips pressed into a firm line behind his grand beard, "I'm afraid it's too late. The Ministry turned to more... barbaric means of punishment."
Severus stood; his abrupt action flung the chair backwards, "The Kiss? These accusations cannot be proved. She's done nothing but protest his arrest, where he suffered a kinder fate"
Dumbledore leveled the man with a frown, "You know what she is still a Volkov by name" He said, as if it explained everything, "The Ministry doesn't take any chances when it comes to them"
"She has a child, they don't deserve this"
"We were... too late, I'm afraid"
Severus slammed his hands on the ornamented desk; "Diana" He hung his head in remorse.
"Unfortunately now, there is nothing I can do. And while you not obligated to do anything-"
"Whatever needs to be done, I'll do it"
The Fat Lady gave Dumbledore a pitiful look as he and Severus approached the portrait.
"The poor dear finally stopped crying but, she's quite shaken still"
Albus nodded and patted Severus on the back, giving in a little push forwards, "Go on, my boy"
"She just witnessed the death of her mother, I don't know understand what you want me to do" Severus argued, crossing his arms over his chest, "Wouldn't she be better off with someone who more... of a maternal touch?" He winced.
Dumbledore shook his head, "Just follow your instincts. I believe this will be good for both of you"
Snape knew better to argue the point but he didn't believe the Headmaster at all.
He ignored the turned up nose of the Fat Lady and stepped into the Gryffindor common room for the first— and the last —time.
He immediately cringed as the festive red and gold berated his vision. He hated it, it left a bad taste in his mouth. Why did he agree to this?
Whimpering shook him out of his hateful inner monologue. Right, the girl.
She was curled on a couch that seemed far too big, staring at the fireplace that made the room far too warm, tear stained and shaking like a leaf.
Severus felt an odd pang of sadness as he watched the child, another casualty of a war she didn't belong in.
"I... I've seen you in pictures with my mama"
Severus startled, not realising the girl had noticed him standing there. "I'm Severus Snape" He announced, sitting a respectable distance away from her on the couch, "I was a friend of your mothers" He shifted, uncomfortable around the small child, "You're coming to live with me now" He added bluntly.
Arabella blinked owlishly, looking up to Severus. He blinked back, alarmed that Sirius's eyes stared back. She looked just like a Black, in fact, she looked just like what Severus imagined Bellatrix looked like as a child; untamed hair and all.
What a chilling thought, imagining Bellatrix Lestrange as a baby.
"Can I see my mama now?"
Severus looked at the girl with mournful, dark eyes and shook his head.
The tears came quickly, and were most uncontrollable. Severus fumbled with himself, unsure if he should hold the girl or ask first, but the tiny girl decided first and clutched onto this robes, hiding her face and weeping herself sick.
Severus tensed, stiffly wrapping an arm around the girl and holding her too tightly against him. He definitely couldn't leave her now.
The first week of fatherhood passed mostly without incident, much to Severus's great surprise.
There had been one particularly bad night, during a thunderstorm where Arabella climbed into bed with him but Severus prided himself in handling it well, even going so far to allow the girl to curl up against him while she slept.
And the next morning, Arabella had been back to her cheerful, curious self anyways. It wasn't mentioned again.
"Children are resilient" Dumbledore had said, his smile far too amused at Severus's concern, "You did well"
The rest of the week had been busy enough, moving Arabella into her new room in Severus's house. But the girl was resilient and adapted quicker then Severus.
Sometimes he forgot there was another person in the house, giving him quite a fright when Arabella would appear out of nowhere asking for juice. And sometimes he would step on a stray stuffed animal and melt at Arabella's unapologetic puppy dog eyes.
Her new room was painted yellow, at her request, and filled to the brim with toys of all kind. Severus had never seen so many toys, and they never stayed in her room like intended.
Severus liked his home neat, everything had a place and nothing was out of order, but Arabella was just a child and—
"Arabella Black! Come get your toy dog before I feed it to your toy bear!"
Severus swiped a hand down his face as Arabella quickly collected her toys with a familiar cheeky grin. He wouldn't dwell on it too hard, this was his life now and he had a dinner to prepare.
"Arabella, may I ask you a question?"
"Why do you take that bear-?"
"It's a lynx, silly"
"Of course, I apologise. Why do you take that lynx with you everywhere you go?"
Arabella looked down at her lap where the plush lynx laid across it. Her bottom lip started to wobble, and before Severus could try and console her she spoke, "Mama and Daddy gave it to me"
Severus scolded himself. The last thing he wanted was for the girl to cry.
"They're both gone, it's all I have left of them"
Severus sat in silence. What was he supposed to say to that? Fortunately, Arabella looked back up at Severus with a wide grin, like she had the best idea in the world. "Sev?"
"Can I help you with a poten?"
Snape stared at her for a moment before chuckling deeply —a sound that was becoming familiar in his home— as he corrected her, "Potion"
"Yeah, that!" Arabella enthusiastically nodded her head, curls flying everywhere.
Severus shook his head, "No, you may not"
Arabella whined, "Why not?"
"It's too dangerous"
She frowned, "But I'm a big girl. I can do it!"
Severus sighed, it was like arguing with Dumbledore sometimes. "Absolutely not"
Her steely eyes widened, knowing that Severus was no match for her puppy dog eyes.
They reminded him of Diana, and a much simpler time.
"Perhaps, after dinner, I may have something you may help me with" He paused, watching as the little girl positively beamed up at him, "But I make no promises, Arabella"
Arabella giggled. He always said that but she always had it her way in the end.
"You may not come into my office without permission. You may not touch anything unless I say so. You have to be very careful, and there will be no running or yelling in my office either. Understand?"
As it turned out, the mysterious room that Severus called his office wasn't as amazing as Arabella's imagination led her to believe.
It was cold and dark, just like the rest of the house, with plenty of shelves that held hundreds of books and jars with odd objects and liquids.
"It's dragon spit. Sit on the chair across from me"
Disgusted, Arabella climbed on the big leather chair across from Severus. Between them was a table with a huge cauldron on top of it.
"We're going to make a wit-sharpening potion" Severus explained, pulling varies things from his shelf, "It makes things clearer"
"Can I try it after?"
Severus smirked at the girl's enthusiasm, "It's not safe for someone so young" He warned, not unkindly, "But you wouldn't want to anyways, it doesn't taste good"
Little by little, Severus prepared the potion for Arabella, calmly answering the infinite amount of questions Arabella seemed to have suddenly.
"Are there potions to make you bigger?"
"Yes, but they are very hard to master"
"Can you make me one? I want to be as tall as you!"
"No, you will grow naturally like everyone else"
"But, couldn't you make a potion for me to be small again?"
"Well, yes, I could but-"
"In Alice in Wonderland, she eats cake to make her small. Could you make a potion into a cake?"
"No, I've never tried"
"Because that's a foolish waste of time"
"What if it works?"
"But why not?"
Severus stopped waving his wand over the cauldron and sighed, "Alice in Wonderland is a work of fiction. Delicious pastry and dangerous potions do not mix well together, alright?"
Arabella quietly nodded.
Severus sighed to himself. It was his job as a professor to motivate young minds and encourage them to ask questions about the unknown.
At least, that's what Dumbledore had told him.
"But, I suppose, in theory, you could infuse a cake with a growing potion. It just wouldn't taste too good"
Arabella smiled back up at him and nodded, "Maybe we could try?" She asked, looking up at her guardian with wide, hopeful eyes.
"Perhaps we could try"
There was a moment of blissful silence as the potion simmered between them. Arabella seemed more then content to watch the potion brew, until Severus tapped his wand against the cauldron.
"Can I have a wand like yours?"
Severus looked up from the bubbling brew, "All wands are unique; your wand won't look anything like mine"
Arabella's brows scrunched together, "When can I get one?"
"When you turn eleven-"
"That's too far away!"
"It may seem so now, but it won't feel like it" Severus promised.
Arabella huffed, but hadn't looked away from the black wand in Severus's hand, "What's it made from?"
"It's made from ebony wood, and it has a unicorn core"
Arabella suddenly gasped, almost startling the wand out of Severus's hand and into the cauldron, "Unicorns are real?"
Severus nodded, smirking at the girl's naivety.
"Can we get one as a pet?"
That time Severus did laugh, a habit he needed to curb before the new semester, "No, Arabella, we cannot. They're very dangerous animals who belong in the wild, not like the ones in your books"
The girl bottom lip pulled into a pout, "Can I see one? Like a zoo?"
"The only place I've known them to roam is Hogwarts but, you're far too young to go anyways"
Arabella groaned, she was too young to do anything! "When can I go to Hogwarts?"
"When you get a wand, you're ready to go to Hogwarts. And then you'll be sorted and-"
"Sorted? What's sorted mean?"
"Well, Hogwarts is split into four houses. Everything you do, everything you are, everything you'll become is revolved around which house the Sorting Hat decides you belong to" Severus simply explained, "Slytherin is for the cunning and ambitious, Gryffindor is for those who are brave. Ravenclaws are smart and enjoy learning. And, lastly, there are Hufflepuff's who are loyal and hardworking"
A moment passed as Arabella took in all the new information while Severus poured their potion into a flask.
"What was your house?" She asked, watching Severus's brows pinched together in concentration.
"But you're so smart!"
Severus tried to smile warmly, but it felt unnatural so he curled it into a smirk, "Thank you" He said, "But I belonged in Slytherin"
There was a very real chance that the girl in front of him would belong to Gryffindor like her parents. But, on the other hand, she was still a Black and was likely to be a Slytherin.
Or so, Severus hoped anyways. "You're a smart girl too, I believe you may be a Ravenclaw" He finally said, settling on a simple, yet diplomatic answer for the patient child.
Arabella made a face, lip pulling into a frown, "I don't think I'm smart like you" She disagreed, "But, I like 'ufflepuff" She looked up at Severus with a goofy smile that reminded him of Sirius, "It sounds funny"
The soft façade broke as he sneered, "It's not a very good house, Arabella"
"That's not nice" She stared back, unfazed by the cold gaze.
He almost felt chastened by the young girl, a big feat for such a small girl. "You'll learn that I'm not a very nice person" He cautioned, dropping the sneer into a familiar frown.
"Well... I like you, so that's all that matters"
Severus looked away from the painfully naïve child as she pranced off the chair and rounded the table, wrapping her arms around his leg.
"Thank you for letting me live with you" She muttered, staring up at him with sad eyes.
"You're... very welcome, Arabella"
Being a father would be hard but if Arabella kept finding ways to soften him with foolish words and innocent gestures, maybe it would be worth it in the end.
Nearly seven years had passed since Severus Snape adopted Arabella, the daughter of his childhood nemesis.
Not many things had changed within those short years. They still lived in the house at the end of Spinner's End, where it remained as dreary and cold as the day Arabella arrived. And her bedroom was still the same canary yellow from all those years ago, however dull and in desperate need of a fresh coat. Only gone were the days Arabella's toys littered the house, replaced with the books that never went back on the shelves.
But things were finally about to change. In three short days Arabella would officially be a Hogwarts student.
And while she was eagerly awaiting the adventure of a lifetime, Arabella couldn't find it in herself to leave the warmth of her bed yet.
"Breakfast is ready" Severus droned from the other side of her door, rapping against it lightly, "We're leaving for Diagon Alley in an hour, if you hurry you may actually have time to enjoy your tea before we leave"
Diagon Alley— a day of last minute shopping Arabella was not looking forwards to. She rolled on her back with a groan, not realizing that it was morning already. Sleep hadn't come easy, but it almost never did. Nightmares of cloaked, floating creatures plagued her dreams, leaving her with feelings of emptiness and longing when she woke.
"I'm up! I'm up!" Arabella called back. She waited until she heard her father ascend down the stairs before dragging herself over to her dresser. Upon it sat her retired plush lynx and a picture of her mother, Diana, holding a newborn Arabella with a large, exhausted smile.
"Good morning, mum" She muttered as she rummaged through her drawer. As Hogwarts came closer, Arabella desperately began to miss her mother. Severus was a great dad, but his head pats weren't a good substitute for a mother's hugs.
Half dressed in a pair of jeans and a wool socks, Arabella glanced around her room; it was a disaster. Clothes were scattered everywhere and books littered the floors— there was a reason Severus never came into her room.
Pulling on the first sweater she saw, Arabella stepped into the hallway and closed her door where she was greeted by the most wonderful smell of sausages, eggs and tea.
Much to Severus's dismay, Arabella all but launched herself into the kitchen. "Top of the mornin' to ya, Sev" She greeted gleefully, peaking around to him the stove, "Breakfast smells deadly"
Severus rolled his eyes at the poor accent, "I didn't know we were Celtic now" He sneered.
Arabella gasped, holding a hand to her chest dramatically, "You mean this isn't Dublin?" She faux cried, "And we aren't flaming redheads?"
"It seems that you've confused us with the Weasley's" The Professor snapped, shaking his head at her childish antics, "Sit down, breakfast is ready"
Arabella did as she was told, watching with wonder as dishes and silverware danced out of the cupboards and organized themselves on the small dining table in front of her.
Witnessing magic would never get old, if Arabella was to be honest.
"I'm going to assume that you're prepared to see Narcissa and Lucius" Severus said, serving the breakfast with a flick of his wand, "Because I don't want to hear Narcissa whining about your lack of respect, again"
Arabella winced— no one deserved the wrath of Narcissa Malfoy. "I won't infuriate them with my respect for muggle culture, if that's what you mean" She flashed her father a megawatt smile, "I'll be snide, and cocky, and ignorant; the perfect pureblood heir"
"Yes," Severus said dryly, "That's all I can ask for"
Arabella dived into her breakfast, not before giving him an apologetic smile for her behavior.
He had tried his best to raise her, something Arabella appreciated and never complained about. He hadn't treated her like any other pureblood, teaching her the importance of knowledge and hard-work over the pureblooded ideals of blood status. And while he was often cold and had an aversion to affection, he still spoiled her rotten unlike any pureblood witch or wizard.
On Arabella's eighth birthday, Severus had brought up a television. He allowed her to indulge, and even sometimes watched Looney Tunes with her despite despising it. And just recently, after Arabella was introduced to the Beatles, he bought her a record player and ignited the girls' love for Muggle music.
Severus was positive if he heard Strawberry Fields Forever one more time, he was going to throw it out.
"Unfortunately, I received an owl this morning. Headmaster Dumbledore has summoned me for an emergency. I'm afraid I won't be able to go with you" Severus explained with a sigh, "I already sent a letter to Narcissa, you're going to meet her and Draco at Ollivander's" He had the decency to sound apologetic, "I know it's not ideal but, my hands are tied"
Arabella groaned. She definitely wasn't going to last an entire day with Narcissa Malfoy alone. The day kept getting worse and worse. "It's okay, Sev, I know how busy you get before school starts"
It wasn't that she didn't like them, Narcissa Malfoy, or Aunt Narcissa as she liked to be called, had tried her absolute best to help Severus raise Arabella into a perfect pureblood like Draco. Except it hadn't worked, and the harder Narcissa tried to mold Arabella into a proper lady, the more the girl rebelled.
But Narcissa wasn't intolerable as long as she played along. It was Lucius that saw through her. There was something about Uncle Lucius that unsettled her stomach. She and him never quite got along as well as Narcissa would have liked.
And Draco was a whole other problem. Her cousin wasn't even his own person! He blindly followed in the footsteps of his father and acted like a spoiled little price that could get away with murder. Arabella wouldn't be surprised he could, with the way he flaunted his family's money.
"I'll make it up to you" The Professor promised, seeing the dejected look appearing on his daughter's face, "So long as I don't receive a howler from Narcissa today"
Arabella's lip pulled into a grin and suddenly Severus was afraid she had taken that as a challenge.
Arabella carefully tapped the bricks in front of her, smirking proudly as the bricks started to spread.
"Well done"Severus praised, "I take it you will be alright continue on?"
Arabella nodded, "I'll go to Ollivander's right away. Thank you for dropping me off, Sev"
Snape gave her a stiff nod, and went back into the pub. Ara quickly went through the secret entrance, and stepped into the wizarding world once more.
Diagon Alley was alive with people. Within every shop, nook and cranny there was a person and four more behind them. Ara growled softly to herself, pushing her way through people that were in her way. Ara loved Diagon Alley, it was a slice of the wizarding world in the middle of muggle London but, Ara despised all the people that shopped there.
Each person was in their own rush, with an emergency that needed to be solved immediately. Ara truly hated crowds, and people in general.
Hm, maybe Severus is rubbing off on me more then I realized. Ara groaned to herself.
Ollivander's wand shop was all the way on the other side of Diagon Alley, unfortunately. And as Arabella passed all the interesting shops, she yearned to shop alone.
This was seven years in the making; she couldn't wait any longer to be an official student of Hogwarts.
Not too far from Gringotts, Ara spotted Narcissa in all her glory.
Narcissa Malfoy was a tall woman who radiated power and wealth. She was quite hard to miss, too. She was wearing an expensive looking peacock coat in the dark shade of olive; her favorite color. Her hair was also a prominent Narcissa trait; the almost white-blonde hair that she wore as a proud Malfoy.
Though, if Ara looked more carefully at Narcissa's nose and all around face structure, Ara could see much resemblance between herself and Narcissa. It was a scary thought.
Arabella forced her best smile up, and approached her cousins, "Hello Aunt Narcissa"
Narcissa turned, flashing Arabella a large, well perfected, smile, "Pretty girl, you're finally here, "She rested her hands on Arabella's shoulders and smiled fondly"And, you've grown too"
Ara laughed lightly, losing herself in the presence of Narcissa, "It hasn't been long since I've been to the Manor, only a month or two"
Narcissa hugged Ara, and just as quickly held the girl at arm's length to examine her. Arabella inwardly cringed; Narcissa wasn't going to appreciate the muggle clothing.
Narcissa finally tsked her tongue at Ara, "You've let Snape shop for you again haven't you, Pretty girl?"She scolded"All that black, you need a little color!"
"I hadn't noticed" She admitted. She had chosen a black jacket over the plaid shirt, in case Narcissa scolded her.
"Of course you didn't. That man's house is a dungeon; as dark and dreary as he is", Narcissa scoffed, but gave Ara one final pat on the shoulders, "But you look beautiful. Now come, let us get your wands" She excitedly turned, and briskly walked into the shop.
Ara was faced with her cousin now, Draco Malfoy. He looked like he always did, he had slicked back his hair with a little too much gel and he was wearing his father's signature smirk.
"Cousin" Ara greeted with a grin
Draco chuckled, watching his cousin be scolded by his mother wasn't an unusual affair, "Nice to see you too, Cousin" He politely offered her his arm, "We shouldn't keep mother waiting"
Arabella had to admit, the spoiled prat at least had manners.
"Hm," Ara looped his arm around his, "Lest we want another famous Narcissa Malfoy lecture"
Draco chuckled but, didn't disagree.
"Ah, there you two are!" Narcissa announced as they stepped into the wand shop, "It's come to my attention that I have to pick something up for Lucius. I'll be back soon" She stepped around her children, and out of the store. Arabella bowed an eyebrow, curious to where Narcissa so quickly ran off too.
"Draco Malfoy and Arabella Black, so long I've been waiting for you to walk through my door" Ollivander stepped from around his desk, and smiled at the children with great interest.
The Wand store is what Arabella would call a neatly organised mess. There must have been thousands of boxes in his shop, piled on top of each other, every one crafted with care.
Ara looked back to Draco and Ollivander, the old man was measuring Draco's right arm with an inquisitive glare"I see, I see"He dropped the measuring tape, and rushed deeper into his shop
"Man's mad, I tell you" Draco whispered to Arabella
Ara giggled, but nudged him harshly with her elbow, "Draco, hush" She warned, "He may hear you, and come back with a wand that will singe your eyebrows right off!"
Draco gave his cousin an appalled glare, "Father would-"
"Your daddy isn't here, Draco" Arabella narrowed her eyes, "You have to remember that Daddy can only do so much for you, especially while we're at Hogwarts"
"Father is a Malfoy, Ara. He can do anything"
Arabella rolled her eyes; her cousin was such a Daddies' boy. Before she could give him more sass, Ollivander had rushed back with a stack of wand boxes in his arms. He carefully set them down on the counter, and opened them.
"This is an oak wood wand" Ollivander explained, carefully pulling out a white wand out of a red box, "It has a dragon's heartstring as the core, nine and a half inches"He handed it to Draco.
Draco flicked his wrist, and a nearby vase exploded. Ollivander snatched it away from him, and secured it back into the box, "Absolutely not" He opened another box, pulling out another light wood wand, "Pine branch. I remembered that unicorn, quite a pleasant animal. It's eleven and a half inches, rather flexible too"
Draco didn't have to flick this wand; as soon as it touched Draco's hand a red stream of light exploded from the tip and shattered a window. Draco dropped it back on the counter and scowled.
Ollivander took a moment and rifled through his boxes, until he held up a long black box with a proud smile, "Ah yes, I remember this one. It came from a rather large Hawthorn tree. The core is from a unicorn I met in the forbidden forest, it's ten inches"
Draco had swished the wand but like the one before it didn't have any results. Ollivander took it back and set it aside, he then rifled through the other boxes until he held a wand up with a proud grin, "This is a Hawthorn branch wand with fine unicorn hair core. It's ten inches to be exact" He explained before handing the boy the wand.
Draco held the wand in a tight fist; warmth erupted from the wand, and silver fireworks exploded from the tip.
Ollivander grinned, "That, my boy, is your wand" He handed the box to Draco, and turned to Arabella, "Your quill arm, Ms. Black?"
Ara held out her right arm out. Ollivander barely lifted his measuring tape to her, when he suddenly gasped, and ran back into shelves of wands while he mumbled darkly to himself.
Arabella and Draco shared look, confused to what just conspired in front of them.
"What the bloody hell was that?"
"The man is mad; I told you"
Arabella rolled her eyes, "You just don't stop, do you?"
"You just haven't learned how to be a proper Pureblood" Draco said simply, "We are above everybody else, you know"
Ara scoffed. Blood status was stupid.
Before either child could force their argument, Ollivander came rushing back to the front of the store. In his hand was a single grey box with black markings spiraling across it. Although, the elder man didn't look too pleased as he presented the box to Arabella.
"I remember making this wand quite well" He reluctantly began, pulling the wand from the box with dexterous hands.
The wand was magnificent. It was a light shade of wood but blackened as it reached the tip, strange markings covered the handle, similar to those on the box. Arabella's eyes were drawn to it.
"This Ash wood comes from a very old tree in London. This particular tree was planted during the tenth century, and was said to have many healing properties. The core comes from a rather temperamental unicorn that nearly impaled me with its horn when I plucked his tale. However-"
Draco groaned, "Just get it on with it, old man"
Ara smacked her cousin's shoulder, hard, and turned back to the wand maker, "Please, continue?"
Ollivander smiled at her kindly, and held it out to her, "It's twelve and a quarter in length, though this one is rather unyielding..." He trailed off, not finishing his thought. Arabella reached for it but the old man held it away from her, "I have a strong feeling that this is your wand, Ms. Black. But I feel the need to warn you that this wand has a twin, and with that comes a dangerous path"
Arabella tilted her head, and raised a brow at his warning. A wand is never just a wand; Ara learned from Severus. "What sort of dangerous path?"Arabella inquired, unable to contain her excitement.
"I don't know, Ara? The dangerous sort of path?" Draco snorted.
Ollivander ignored Draco, and gave Arabella a sympathetic smile that rather aged his kind face, "I cannot say, Ms. Black. Only time can tell" He finally offered the child her wand.
Ara's entire body vibrated with energy as she gripped handle. A cold, yet not unwelcome chill ripped through her body while golden sparks flew out of the wand and fizzled in the air.
Ollivander pursed his lips into a straight line, "I wish you the best of luck, Ms. Black"
"You can't still be obsessing over it" Draco grumbled, watching as Arabella never took her eyes off her wand as they walked towards Gringotts, "He's a crazy old man, you can't listen to what you tells you"
"You don't have to believe it, Draco" Arabella said, putting her wand back in the box with great care, "I do"
Draco couldn't help but to roll his eyes. His cousin was always a little... gullible.
They continued in silence until they met Narcissa along the way. She greeted the children with a smile, "Well?" She encouraged, "Let's see them"
Draco proudly presented his wand, looking just like a little prince as he preened, "Hawthorn, unicorn, ten inches" He summarized.
Arabella watched as Narcissa's eyes filled with tears, "That's wonderful, Draco" She said sincerely, bending down to kiss his cheek, "And what about yours?" Narcissa asked, looking at the young girl standing awkwardly next to her son.
Arabella opened the box and lifted it up for Narcissa to see, "Ollivander said it's an ash wood with a temperamental unicorn core"
It was a rather plain, Narcissa noted with disappointment. It was a long brown wood that was burnt at the ends, with strange marks that covered the handle.
"It's beautiful" Narcissa said anyways, and the smile that absolutely lit up Arabella's face made her forget about its appearance anyways.
"Go on," Draco said, rolling his eyes, "Tell mother what he said about it"
Narcissa looked at the children curiously, "Tell me what?"
Arabella shrugged, feigning nonchalance, "He said that it would lead me to a dangerous path" She closed the box, placing it back in her bag before Narcissa could take it from her.
Narcissa's lip pulled into a frown, "You shouldn't believe everything Ollivander tells you. The man is old, and quite frankly, I wouldn't doubt he's finally lost it" She shook her head, leading her kids forwards, "Now come, I expect you both to write me while you're at Hogwarts and for that, you'll need owls"
They trailed behind Narcissa; Draco had muttered something about not wanting to write his mother and Arabella had once again elbowed him in the side. He really didn't know how good he had it, with a mother and a father.
"I'll wait at the counter" Narcissa told her children as they stepped into the pet store, knowing that she went unheard anyways, "Owls, children, just owls" She called after them.
Arabella eagerly ditched Draco, scurrying deeper into the meowing, hooting and croaking. There were so many different types of cats and owls that surrounded her, each equally as cute as the next; Arabella was completely overwhelmed.
Did she wand a gorgeous black owl with mesmerizing emerald eyes or a tiny barn owl with eyes the size of the moon? Maybe she wanted the loud brown owl that was angrily nipping at its cage.
Arabella scoured the store until she came upon a small owl, whose feathers were different shades of brown, white and flecks of black. Its black eyes narrowed at Arabella as she approached, ruffling it's feathers as it puffed out it's chest.
"Beautiful own, ain't she?"
Arabella looked up at the owner of the emporium, "Oh yes, very" She agreed, looking back to the intimidating owl, "I think I'd like him, please"
He lifted the cage carefully, "I'll take her up front for you"
She followed him back to the front of the store where Draco was waiting with a handsome black and white eagle owl.
"Mother already paid for everything" Draco said, a grin rising on his lips, "Father just came in and swept her away"
Arabella struggled to hold back the groan in her throat. She had really hoped she wouldn't have to deal with Lucius and his superiority today.
"Where did they go?" She asked.
"Floreans" Draco rolled his eyes, "Mother said she wanted something sweet"
True to his word, they found Narcissa and Lucius outside of the Ice Cream shop, an empty cup of ice cream between them.
Lucius looked down at Arabella as they approached, "Hello Arabella"
She flashed him a polite smile back, "Hello, Uncle Lucius"
Narcissa smiled at the children, "They are beautiful" She gestured to the owls, "Draco, you're going to go with your father to look at brooms while I take Arabella to fit her for her robs. You may leave your things here; Lucius will send them back to the mansion"
Arabella gently placed her cage next to Lucius and hurried to walk along side with Narcissa.
"Am I staying at the mansion?" Arabella questioned, "He didn't mention anything before I left"
"He wrote me this morning, and promised he'd pick you up before dinner" Narcissa assured, "But I wanted to talk to you, about something Draco had mentioned"
That could have been a lot of things, Arabella was aware. "Oh?" She hoped the brat didn't get her in trouble just because he could.
"He said you didn't want to go to Hogwarts"
Arabella breathed a sigh of relief, "Well I, I received an acceptance to Durmstrang" Her lips quirked into a pout, remembering how Severus refused to let her even open the letter when it had arrived, "But Severus insisted"
Narcissa patted her shoulder, "I know it must seem intimidating, but Hogwarts can be a wonderful place"
The girl couldn't help but to look away and roll her eyes. It would be a wonderful place if a talking hat decided to put you in the right house, the house that would decide who you were for the rest of your life. What a load of rubbish, Arabella thought.
"I think I'd like to be a Ravenclaw" Arabella said before Narcissa could mention it next, "I think living with a Professor has taught me enough, don't you think?"
Narcissa stayed silent for a moment, "Well, you are a very smart girl" She agreed, knowing whatever house Arabella was placed in she would excel over her classmates.
"But I guess Slytherin will have to do, if I'm not enough for Ravenclaw" Arabella shrugged, watching as the older woman ate the words out of her palm.
Arabella didn't really have a preference of where she wanted to be placed. Ravenclaw and Slytherin would make her life easier but, she knew Gryffindor was also an option because of her parents. Perhaps even Hufflepuff, because no other house truly called to the young girl.
Arabella grinned to herself, amused by the though. The last true heir of the Noble house of Black and she's a Hufflepuff. What an interesting twist.
"I think Ravenclaw would fit you nicely" Narcissa admitted, after a moment of silence, "Severus would be proud— so would I" They came to a stop in front of the robes store, "I want you to know something" Narcissa said, kneeling down to Arabella with great poise, "Will you listen to me carefully?"
Arabella eagerly nodded.
"I care for you like you were my own daughter, you remind me of me and my sisters. Merlin, I see so much House of Black in you, which includes your father— your real father" Narcissa rested her gloved hands on Arabella's arms and squeezed gently, "And I know you're afraid of being placed in the wrong house, I've heard you talking to Draco. But the hat always takes your choice in account, he listens to the student not the other way around"
Arabella nodded, swallowing the lump in her throat, "Of course, Aunt Narcissa" She said, her voice wavering, "You can count on me"
Everything about pureblood beliefs made Arabella's stomach curl. It was ignorance, and inbreeding, and cruel.
She was a firm believer that no one was born evil, and that evil was created. But it was never that easy. No one just fell on a spectrum of good and bad, it was more complicated than that; something Severus had inadvertently taught her between potion lessons.
But sometimes it didn't seem true. How could you disown your child, treat them like dirt because their young, eleven year old mind wasn't up to your standards right there and then?
Treating your child the way Arabella knew her family treated traitors, well, that had to be the definition of evil.
The girl let Madam Malkin to fit her for robes silently and allowing Narcissa to drag her all around Diagon Alley without so much of a sound. The sour look never left Arabella's face, not even when Narcissa brought her to the book store and insisted Arabella get whatever she wanted.
The mood had changed, Narcissa wasn't daft, but she ignored it and tried to fix it with her wealth, just like she did with the rest of her life.
When Narcissa and Arabella reunited with Draco and Lucius, the young boy immediately smirked at her darkening scowl, "Did mother lecture you?" He couldn't help but to laugh as she half-heartedly pushed him, "I expected you were in for it when you left. Do you wanna get some sweets to make up for it?"
Arabella had a feeling he was humoring her, but she could never turn down candies. Severus rarely allowed her to indulge in such things, despite having a secret stash of chocolate frogs in his office.
"So, what did she say to you?" Draco asked as the perused the candies and pastries, "You look like Severus when you glare like that"
"Of course I do, he's my father" She shrugged, trying to loosen the glare before speaking, "I can't believe you told her I asked Severus to let me go to Durmstrag instead"
"I thought if Severus allowed you to go, Mother would let me go too" Draco defended, inching away from his cousin before she could hit him again, "But that's not all she said, right?"
Arabella snatched a few pumpkin pasties and chocoballs before answering with a sigh, "She just wanted to remind me where I belong at Hogwarts"
Draco narrowed his blond brows. His mother adored Arabella just like she adored him, so he doubted that whatever his mother said could be that bad.
"You don't think it's wrong?" She asked, turning to him, "That I want to be a Ravenclaw instead of a Slytherin?"
Draco shrugged, "Whatever you want, as long as you're not a Gryffindor or a Hufflepuff"
"That doesn't leave me with many options, now does it?" Arabella scoffed, rolling her eyes, "You know what? Never mind, Draco, let's just pay and go back to the Manor"
As it turned out, not even the sweetest treats could lift Arabella's mood.
As they returned to the Malfoy Manor, her mood only further deteriorated. She politely declined Narcissa's offer for tea, and forgotten herself as she barely glanced at Lucius as she followed Draco up to her room.
Dobby, the poor house elf, was even subjected to Arabella's nasty glare. He scurried away, never being on the other end of Young Mistresses temper before.
"You're still mad" Draco pointed out as they entered his grand bedroom, "Do you want to talk about it?" He asked bluntly, aware that he was poking the beast.
She sounded so much like his mother, it actually startled him. "You look like you've eaten a rancid Berie Bott, and when Mother looks like that..." He trailed off with a shiver. Narcissa Malfoy was a woman with an unmatched temper. It must be a Black trait. Draco thought idly.
"I'm afraid" Arabella admitted, surprising herself with the truth, "I...I'm afraid of Hogwarts"
Draco hadn't known Arabella to be afraid of anything, not spiders, not heights, not even Severus on a bad day. "Why are you afraid?" He asked, suddenly looking ready to fight something on her behalf.
"Look at me, Draco" She gestured to herself, "You and I, Lucius and Narcissa, we all know that I'm not a Slytherin"
"That's ridiculous," Draco scoffed, "You're the most cunning person I know"
"That's not enough!" Arabella snapped, "No matter what Narcissa wants, no matter what I tell the hat, I won't be a Slytherin!"
Draco's eyes narrowed into slits, "You're not telling me something"
"I don't want to be a Slytherin!" She said, throwing her hands up in exasperation, "Don't you get it? I don't want to be a Slytherin!"
Draco stared, surprised that Arabella had so freely admitted what they all thought.
"I don't understand" The girl cried, "How can a magical talking hat define who we are? No one is just brave, or smart, or cunning or loyal" She began to pace in front of Draco's poster bed, "A stupid, magic hat can't tell me who I am at this moment, and you purebloods treat something as foolish and trivial as disloyalty!" She turned on her cousin, flashing a gnarly sneer at him.
For a brief, the briefest moment, during her passionate speech, Draco almost agreed with her.
"Typical" Arabella spat, "Nothing to say because Daddy hasn't influenced it"
Draco puffed out his chest, glaring back at his cousin, "Just because Severus raised you, doesn't mean you know everything"
"I never assumed that I did!" Arabella argued, "But it's clear that your views are the wrong views"
Draco's scathing words went unspoken as Dobby appeared in the boy's bedroom, "I'm sorry to interrupt" The elf squeaked, speaking so quickly Arabella almost didn't understand him, "But Master as requested your presence in his office"
Arabella barked, "Fine" the same time Draco had snapped, "Leave"
Dobby never apparated so quickly in his life. Young Mistress never spoke to him like that; he didn't want her to be angry with him ever again.