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My Brightest Star

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Hermione looked at the sputtering candle she’d smuggled from the library. Please don’t die she thought, desperate to stay in her little hiding place. After the unfortunate incident where Narcissa had accidentally vanished all of her clothes, it had only gotten worse. Hermione had soon established that Narcissa was in a very awkward stage of her pregnancy where her hormones made her focus on one thing and one thing only. Sex!

Despite Hermione not losing any more clothes, she did spot Narcissa literally everywhere she went, lurking somewhere in a dark corner of the Manor. The hungry look in the blonde’s eyes made the young Gryffindor witch so nervous she constantly dropped things. The fact that Narcissa didn’t only stare at Hermione like a predator at its prey, but often whispered seductively in her ear instead of just talking to her didn’t help either.

Andy had howled with laughter when Hermione had told her what was happening. Unfortunately according to the middle Black sister, there was no other way to deal with it than to just sit it out or help Narcissa alleviate the tensions in her body. Hermione blushed when she remembered how Andy had nudged her at the suggestion going ‘come one, Hermione. We all have needs!’ But when Narcissa had licked her lips that same evening the moment she laid eyes on Hermione, the brunette had shrieked and sought refuge in the abandoned attic of the West Wing.

The candle eventually betrayed Hermione and died leaving the witch in the darkness. Hermione couldn’t use her magic though because then Narcissa would succeed in tracking her down and it was obvious that the blonde grew more restless with each passing day. Hermione cursed for she was so close to solving her conundrum. Fumbling in the darkness Hermione searched for the hatchet and carefully opened it, lighting the attic a little bit in the process. She knew there were more candles in the kitchen so if she could manage to steal a handful…

Like a true ninja, Hermione made her way through the Manor. She peeked around a corner and sighed in relief. There was no trace of Narcissa. The witch had made it partially through the hallway when suddenly a cold voice reached her ears.

‘What in Salazar’s name are you doing?’

Hermione looked up at Narcissa and realized she was still standing in stealth mode and quickly assumed a more natural pose, ‘nothing.’

‘I’ve been looking for you everywhere. Are you avoiding me?’

The hurt in Narcissa’s voice was obvious and there was something in her blue eyes that made Hermione feel extremely guilty. She sighed.

‘Yes. I was. I’m sorry Narcissa but you were making me very uncomfortable!’

Narcissa pouted, ‘I can’t help it.’

‘I know. And I’m sorry for how I handled it. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.’

A watery smile appeared on Narcissa’s face when Hermione reached out her hand, ‘join me in the kitchen for lunch?’

The pregnant witch accept the offer and started to wobble towards the kitchen, making Hermione frown, ‘you’re limping? Are you okay?’

‘That’s why I was trying to find you. My ankles are so swollen I can hardly walk. You can imagine how slow my search for you went since I can’t use my magic either.’

Hermione couldn’t help but chuckle, ‘are you going to guilt trip me into giving you a foot rub?’

‘Is it working?’

‘Of course. You know I can’t deny you anything.’

‘Oh, is that so?’ Narcissa replied in such a husky voice, Hermione tripped over her own feet.

‘Cissy!’

‘Right, I’m sorry.’

Narcissa sat herself down on a chair and kicked off her slippers. She wanted to lift her leg to place her foot on Hermione’s lap, but her pregnant body thwarted her. Hermione grinned and picked up the offending foot herself. Narcissa threw her head back and groaned the moment Hermione started applying pressure on the swollen limb.

‘Sssssssalazar’s sssssnake,’ she hissed, ‘that feels ssssso good.’

‘I genuinely can’t tell if you’re enjoying your foot rub or are using this as an excuse to get me all flustered again.’

Blue eyes looked at her in surprise, ‘whatever do you mean?’

‘You’re moaning Cissy.’

‘Oops. My bad.’

Hermione shook her head in fond exasperation and started on the other foot, ‘wearing loosely fitted clothes might help with the swelling, I think. They allow for your blood to flow more freely.’

‘None of my dresses fit me anymore and I only own tight pants.’

‘Yes I’ve noticed that,’ Hermione muttered feeling a blush creep up her neck once more.

‘Perhaps it’s time I stop being stubborn and start wearing those sweatpants you suggested to me months ago.’

Hermione smirked, ‘I knew you’d cave. There, that’s your feet done. I’ll fetch you a pair of sweatpants you can borrow and then I’m off to the library for some final research. I’ll rub them again before dinner if you want.’

‘That would be divine. Thank you darling.’

The younger witch nodded, the term of endearment suddenly making her a bit shy. Merlin’s beard did those hungry blue eyes make her stomach somersault. Perhaps Narcissa’s hormones were rubbing off on her a bit?

***

Andy apparated in the middle of the Manor with a curious expression on her face. She had received a rather frantic message from Hermione asking her to come to the Manor as soon as possible. But now that she’d arrived, mere minutes after said message, there was nobody to be seen. Suddenly she spotted a flutter of blond hair above one of the couches in the sitting area and she smirked.

‘CISSY!’

‘Argh, damnit Andy! You know I hate it when you do that. What are you even doing here?’

The middle Black sister laughed, ‘you make me feel so welcome, truly. Why they call you the ice queen is beyond me.’

Narcissa merely glared and Andy sighed, ‘Hermione said it was an emergency. I thought something was wrong with you?’

‘Apart from being very horny, I am absolutely fine,’ Narcissa said her own curiosity triggered as well now.

Before Andy could retort Hermione came running and skidded around a corner nearly faceplanting against the marble floor. If Andy hadn’t supported her, the Gryffindor would probably have crashed into her as she was going so fast. Both sisters raised an eyebrow at each other while waiting impatiently for Hermione to stop gasping for air and explain what the hell was going on.

‘Oh good, you’re here as well Cissy. Saves me some running.’

‘You know you can just apparate around the Manor, right?’ Andy said slowly.

‘I sometimes forget that I’m a witch,’ Hermione laughed, ‘especially when I’m excited about something.’

Andy gave her sister a weird look but Narcissa merely shrugged, ‘I’m used to it by now.’

‘I found it.’

‘It?’ both sisters said in unison and Andy joked, ‘do you mean your common sense because I’m not inclined to believe you.’

‘Haha, very funny. No, I found a way to heal my scar.’

A deadly silence fell between the three witches as both Andy and Narcissa were too perplexed for words. Hermione didn’t notice the little bomb she’d dropped and was already ruffling through the papers she’d brought with her. With her nose buried in parchment Hermione shuffled towards the couch and Andy sat herself down as well.

‘It’s not exactly the treatment I was looking for,’ Hermione started her explanation, ‘because this one only applies to a specific kind of scars. But I’m sure St. Mungo’s will be thrilled nevertheless so you don’t have to fear that the Board of Directors is going to be annoyed with you Andy.’

Andy merely nodded and Narcissa closed the magazine she had been perusing, ‘go on, darling. Tell us what you discovered.’

‘So, seeing as this obviously isn’t an ordinary scar because nobody at St Mungo’s knew how to get rid of it, I started looking into Dark magic a while ago. But nothing I encountered came even vaguely close to whatever darkness resides in my scar. I haven’t told this to anyone but…’ Hermione suddenly became a bit nervous, ‘it’s like I can feel her, festering inside me.’

Hermione held up her hand when both Black sisters wanted to talk, ‘it’s fine. I’ve learned to live with it over the years while searching for a way to heal my arm. I was going nowhere with my research until you two mentioned those different kind of mutations in magic and it got me thinking, what if it wasn’t Dark magic that caused this but another mutation? Seeing as both mutations and Dark magic led me to the Sacred Twenty-Eight, I started looking into those family histories. And what better place to start than at the bottom of the Black family tree?’

Hermione took a break from talking and summoned three glasses of water from the kitchen. She took a few sips to soothe her already hoarse throat while Andy and Narcissa’s facial expressions were constantly switching between impatience and curiosity. Eventually Hermione took a paper from her stack and placed it on the table, with the tips of her fingers she spun it around so both sisters could read it. It was their family tree and Hermione had circled a few names in it.

‘It quickly became clear that there were witches and wizards who had an aptitude for Dark magic. I encountered them in other pureblood families as well but even then they turned out to be Blacks who had married into other family trees. The use of this specific Dark magic became so special that it eventually got its own name.’

‘The Black family magic,’ Narcissa whispered.

‘Exactly. Well, normal Dark magic manifests itself through curses, spells or potions but not this kind. This kind of magic ran through blood. Like a mutation.’

Hermione stopped talking here to take another sip of her water. She had a hard time not being too smug about her discovery and while realization started to dawn upon Narcissa’s face, Andy showed no emotion whatsoever. The Gryffindor witch cleared her throat and resumed her explanation.

‘This so-called Black family magic was nothing more than a mutation that ran through the Black family for centuries. I circled all the witches and wizard for whom I found proof that they had this particular mutation. As you two explained to me that mutations go extinct over the years, it’s much the same with this one. You can see the amount of Blacks who had it get lesser and lesser until… there was only one left,’ Hermione said and she tapped her finger on a very familiar name.

‘Bella,’ Narcissa read out loud.

‘Bellatrix Black,’ Hermione confirmed, ‘now because this mutation has never been truly discovered such as Parseltongue or Metamorphmagus magic, it doesn’t have a name apart from what you call it. But I think this specific mutation was an aptitude for pain. To cause harm.’

Hermione took another piece of parchment from her research and placed it on top of the family tree, ‘I have a list of recorded events where this aptitude for pain is described. And it’s my theory that blind rage triggers the mutation, no matter in what form that rage is projected. Maybe it starts in an accidental fashion? Like things just happen and people get hurt? And I think some Black witches and wizards were aware of their talent and learned to harness it and hone it into something truly destructive. I mean… there’s a reason Bellatrix’s crucio was so effective.’

Narcissa had taken the piece of parchment and had scanned the events Hermione had scribbled down. She passed it onto Andy who dropped the document in her lap without looking at it. The blonde witch squinted at the family tree, clearly lost in thought.

‘Our Bella could become so angry as a child. They always thought she just had anger management issues, but perhaps it was the mutation taking control?

‘Quite possibly,’ Hermione nodded.

‘I still don’t see how this heals your scar?’

‘Well the thing about mutations is that they can be neutralized. Don’t you remember what you told me? The reason pureblood families insisted on only marrying members of other pureblood families?’

‘Because muggle blood destroys mutations and they wanted to keep their special talents alive,’ Narcissa replied.

Hermione nodded, ‘correct. So ironic as it may be, my own muggleborn blood will be the cure. I’d have to magically drain my blood, purify it from Bellatrix’s magic and re-inject it into my body.’

‘That sounds very dangerous, don’t you think Andy?’ Narcissa turned to her sister who didn’t respond, ‘Andy?’

The middle Black sister looked up from the document that was still in her lap while tears glistened in her eyes, ‘so you’re telling me that Bellatrix couldn’t help it that she became a deranged maniac? You’re telling me that I can’t hate the woman who murdered my daughter and son-in-law because it wasn’t really she who did it but a fucking mutation?’

Hermione gulped, ‘yes…’

Andy jumped from the couch and started pacing around the sitting area, ‘you’re just trying to pin your trauma on something that isn’t there because you refuse to believe that you were tortured by a madwoman. This is bullshit!’

Hermione’s mouth snapped shut. She had researched this very thoroughly and to just have someone call it bullshit like that? She squared her jaw and looked Andy who had stopped pacing straight in the eye.

‘But what if I’m right?’

‘SHE MURDERED MY DAUGHTER, HER OWN NIECE.’

‘I know,’ Hermione visibly winced at Andy’s unexpected outburst,‘but wouldn’t it give you some solace to know that it wasn’t truly Bella? Your very own sister?’

All strength suddenly left Andy’s body as she sunk to her knees and clutched her head, ‘no, because that would mean I’d have to forgive her for what she’s done… and I don’t think I can.’

Hermione deflated as the reality of the situation suddenly dawned upon her. It made perfect sense that Andy needed someone to blame for her daughter’s murder. The grief that radiated from the otherwise proud and strong witch hit Hermione hard and she, uncharacteristically, was at a loss for words. Meanwhile Narcissa had slipped from the couch as well and had knelt next to her sister to envelope her in a hug. The blonde had resorted to French to console Andy so Hermione didn’t understand what was being said, but the older woman seemed to visibly calm down.

‘We will help you, Hermione, in your attempt to heal your scar,’ Narcissa whispered, ‘but now Andy needs time to process this new information.’

‘Of course, I’m so sorry Andy,’ Hermione said as she turned around to leave the two women alone. When she left the room, she could hear Andy whisper to her sister.

‘I miss my Dora so much.’