Word Count: ~1,800
Summary: They were prisoners, before.
Author's Notes: None.
Disclaimer: HP is not mine. No profit is made from this work.
They were prisoners, before.
When the world changed and changed back again. Maybe it's changed again—Andromeda doesn't know. Doesn't care. It doesn't matter to her if it's her brother-in-law in power or the boy wizard, the supposed savior of their world.
Her world is no longer that world. No more looking over her shoulder, waiting for another loved one to die. The ache of losing her husband and daughter is still there, but lesser, only hurting when she thinks about them.
She doesn't think about Ted and Nymphadora very often.
Her world is now composed of herself and Daphne, of the cottage they share, of the life they've built together. Of the new memories they make, erasing their painful pasts day by day.
a kick to her back sends her to her knees. swallowing a cry, daphne presses herself to the bars of the door. she doesn't want to go any deeper into the cell. there's someone else in it, someone who looks terrifyingly familiar.
'get in there,' yaxley barks. he kicks her again, aiming at the hand clutching one of the bars. daphne yelps at the sharp burst of pain, instinctively cradling her hand to her stomach. 'if you don't move, it'll be something else.'
reluctantly she creeps forward, stopping the instant she hears his footsteps crunch over the rough stone floor.
she bites her lip to keep quiet, not wanting bellatrix to see how scared she is. although, how could it be bellatrix standing there? why would bellatrix lestrange be in the cell with her? maybe it's the start to some new horrible game. daphne doesn't know why, but the death eater has taken a liking to her.
to playing games.
to hurting her.
with her uninjured hand, daphne tentatively touches the skin of her arse. it's smooth. twenty minutes ago it was welted with stripes from bellatrix's cane. five minutes ago a potion was forced down her throat, healing her anew for tomorrow's fun.
she curls into the corner farthest away from the woman. the cell is barely big enough for one; two's a crowd.
'i'm not my sister.' the woman's voice is dry, almost amused. 'i'm not going to hurt you. i promise.'
daphne looks at the woman again. the eyes are different—bellatrix's eyes are dark pools of cruelty, but this woman's are a light blue she can make out even in the cell's dim light. something clicks in her brain. there is a third black sister, isn't there? daphne remembers her mother telling her to never, ever end up like andromeda black, who left her name and family for a disgusting muggle.
maybe those stories were true, if andromeda's here. but then, so is she, trapped in a cell in malfoy manor.
'i didn't—you look like her.'
'i get that a lot.' andromeda takes a step forward, and then another when daphne doesn't shrink back into the wall. 'let me see your hand. i trained to be a healer.'
They're sitting outside because Andromeda thinks the sun and fresh air is good for Daphne. Or, rather, Andromeda's lounging on the chaise, and Daphne's curled up next to her, head on her lap. As they both watch the butterflies flit about the yard, Andromeda pets the younger woman's hair, reminded of the first time she did so, and all the rest.
'What have you done, Narcissa?' Andromeda stands protectively in front of Daphne, although if her sister really wanted to hurt either of them, it would only take a simple snap of her wand. Hurt Daphne any worse, that is. Bellatrix did something this morning; the girl can barely move, and hasn't said a word since being thrown into the cell.
'I've freed you both. There's a Portkey in the trunk. It's set to go off in five minutes.' Narcissa shines in the darkness of the dungeon, her eyes and hair and clothes all light and clean. 'My son is marrying that one's sister, and I don't want her in the house.'
Andromeda presses her lips together to stay silent. They aren't in the house proper, but Narcissa would count them as 'being in the house' even if they were in the peacock shelters. Not that Lucius's pretty little birds would let them inside their palaces.
'Don't question me, Andromeda. Just go.' There's pain in those words, the same words Andromeda heard two decades ago, when Narcissa intervened for her with their family. Back when she was a prisoner in a very similar cell in the family lodge in France, ripped away from her Muggle husband, a baby already in her belly. At least Bellatrix wasn't there to torture her, not how she is for Daphne.
Swallowing down curses until she can summon gratitude, Andromeda says, 'I suppose I should thank you.'
'I'm not doing it for you, or for her.'
'You always did look out for yourself.' Andromeda laughs bitterly. Her sister only freed her before because Narcissa didn't want the stain of her captivity to mar the biggest wedding Wizarding society had seen in nearly a century. The same must be true now; even in the dungeon, she's heard the Death Eaters talk about Draco and Astoria's upcoming nuptials.
Narcissa nods, her blonde hair—so similar to Daphne's—cascading over a shoulder. 'Something like that.'
Gently propping Daphne against the wall, Andromeda pulls the Portkey out of the trunk. In true Narcissa fashion, it's a piece of jewelry. An antique necklace that belonged to their grandmother, one her sister never liked. Crouching down, she loops the chain around both of their necks, one hand on the trunk.
'The cottage is unplottable, 'Dromeda. You'll be safe there.'
And they have been safe. The weeks stretched into months, into years, until Andromeda has almost forgotten how to be scared.
It's a good feeling.
Eventually Daphne will have that same feeling of peace. Some days they come close, especially when they're like they are now, sitting quietly in the sun. Andromeda can feel the younger woman's ease, quiet purrs coming as she strokes her hair.
'I want you to take a walk later today, Daphne.'
Turning onto her back so she can stare up at Andromeda, Daphne frowns. 'Do I have to?'
'Yes.' Andromeda tugs at the D-ring of Daphne's collar. 'Don't worry. I'll take you, pet.'
At that, Daphne's face lightens. Even though the woods surrounding their cottage are safe, creature and Death Eater free, she won't go into them by herself. She panics when left alone, ever since that last morning with Bellatrix. Something broke in her that day, snapped like a broken wand. Something they've never talked about. Andromeda doesn't know how to bring it up, and Daphne can't talk about it, but they've adapted. They've both come up with ways to make her feel safe, and truth be told, Andromeda likes the sight of the collar and cuffs around her pet's neck and wrists.
she can't move her arms.
daphne screams, fear ringing out in her cry. why can't she move?
'shh. it's okay. you're safe.' suddenly, andromeda's there, a comforting hand on her forehead. she's used to andromeda picking up the daphne-sized pieces after visits with bellatrix, but what's going on? andromeda's never said they're safe before.
she bites her tongue, but whimpers escape anyway, pitiful whimpers that make her wince when she hears them. she's better than this … what happened to her? why can't she move?
'daphne.' andromeda caresses her cheek. 'look at me.'
four deep breaths later, daphne calms down enough to do so, forcing her eyes open. light greets her—brighter than what she's accustomed to, but dark enough to keep from hurting her eyes. where are they?
fear skitters up daphne's spine, apprehension that this is some new, sick game of bellatrix's. she focuses on breathing, in and out, while she waits to hear what torment awaits her.
andromeda must see something in her face, because she says, 'daphne, it's okay. it really is. my sister … narcissa, she let us go.'
daphne can't believe it. the news is too good to be true. 'what? why?'
the older woman shrugs. 'i don't know. narcissa is impossible to explain; i gave up long ago. what matters is that they'll never find us. i promise.'
those words are magic, unlocking the trust that's grown over their captivity. calm settles over daphne, slowly edging out the fear. but … 'if we're safe, why can't i move?' her throat swells up at the possibilities, but holding onto that calm, daphne pushes the words through. 'she didn't … did she? what's wrong with me, andromeda?'
andromeda touches her left wrist; daphne's relieved she can feel it. 'i gave you healing potions. you've been asleep for a few days, but you had such terrible nightmares. i was scared you would hurt yourself, so'—andromeda looks away guilty—'i tied you to the bed. now that you're awake, i can undo them—'
'wait.' daphne tries to move her arms again, and this time, she can. slightly. there's a little give in the bindings, and when she looks down the bed, she can just see thick leather wrapped around her wrists. bellatrix always used magic to hold her still, and there's something oddly comforting about the leather, to see something real securing her, instead of nothingness. it's … comforting. 'don't. i like it.'
andromeda gives her a long look, full of care and love, and daphne wonders how she ever mistook her for bellatrix. 'are you sure?'
'yes.' daphne tries to explain. 'they ground me. i'm not scared anymore.'
the older woman's mouth twists in thought, but she eventually nods. 'alright. let me make you more comfortable, then.' unhooking the cuffs from the bed, andromeda snaps them together.
relieved that andromeda understands what she can't explain, daphne tests the leather cuffs, raising her bound arms to her face. she touches her jaw, her face. there's nothing there but smooth skin. just like always.
'move over.' andromeda helps her, then joins her in the bed. 'i was worried about you.' she shifts them both around until daphne's cuddled against her chest. 'but you're safe now, pet. i promise,' she says again, kissing daphne's blonde curls.
for the first time in a long time, daphne really does feel safe.
They were prisoners, before.
Now they're free.
But how free? That's debatable.
In some ways, Daphne is still a prisoner, trapped in her mind on dark days. Andromeda feels responsible, but that's not why she's still here, taking care of her. They're both fucked up, hurt by the ones who should have been family. It's a hard burden to bear, and if Andromeda bears it better, she's just had longer to adjust.
But they love each other. Would they have bonded—or even met—if not for their experiences in Malfoy Manor? Probably not. However they got to this point, Andromeda will take it, because Daphne completes her just as much as she completes Daphne.
They need each other.