The quick rap against the door caused Andromeda to jump up from her chair excitedly. She knew the impatient knock on the door could only mean her sister had finally arrived. She flung the door open holding her arms out in a welcoming gesture.
“Welcome home!” She called excitedly. Hermione enveloped herself into the eager hug awaiting her, unlike Bellatrix who stood still in the doorway with her arms crossed looking a bit annoyed. Andy chose to ignore this and shuffled the couple into the living room, settling themselves on the sofa as Narcissa walked in from the kitchen levitating the trays of tea and china cups through in front of her. She waved her wand as each cup set itself in front of a person and took the lid from the cake tray sitting on the centre table.
Andy stood up, pouring the tea into the cups as Narcissa asked “Well, how was Australia? I can't believe you've been gone for 6 weeks.”
Hermione smiled and began telling a mixed array of stories about their trip to Australia and Christmas with her parents. Days sitting out in the sun by the garden pool, relaxing and reading, as well as visits to the beach and the city for shopping.
“I can tell you have spent plenty of time in the sun Hermione, you're practically golden with that gorgeous tan. But I must ask Bella, did you even leave the house?” Narcissa questions as she looks at Bella’s pale features. Bella feeling offended gives her youngest sister the two-finger salute before picking up her tea for a sip.
Hermione laughed. “She did join us, but you know Bella, She kept wrapped up and in the shade.”
“I can imagine you're still feeling the temperature difference since returning back yesterday. Bella didn't even take her gloves off.” Andy said, looking at her sister's leather-clad hands.
“Or she's hiding something!” Narcissa leaned across grabbing her sister's left hand, practically tearing the glove off by force, only to be disappointed to see no sight of a ring on a finger. However, her disappointment changed to a chuckle. “Perhaps you did tan somewhat,” she said, looking at her sister's sunkissed hand.
Bella snarled in anger, grabbing her glove and standing up to start beating her sister with it for her cheek. Only stopping from Andy’s shout as the China teacup and contents fell to the floor smashing on impact.
“Will you two grow up!” Andy cursed as she took her wand and repaired the cup effortlessly. Narcissa sat up slightly disheveled,
“She started it!”
Bella turned eyes wide with annoyance and about to retaliate.
“Don’t!” Andy commanded. Her face was firm with a look of someone you shouldn't cross.
“You know, I didn't have to come today, I could have stayed at home and quite happily binge-watched Teen Titans Go! But no, you both insisted we have tea! Well fuck your Tea! I’m going to the kitchen to find something stronger.” Bellatrix snapped as she stomped off to the kitchen.
“She's probably still tired from the flight,” Hermione explained, trying to cut the tension as they all stared at the doorway.
“Teen Titans Go?” Narcissa asked, confused.
“It’s a cartoon she watches when we look after Teddy. She likes one of the Characters on there. Raven, I think she’s called.” Hermione answered by taking another sip of her tea.
“Oh, the one with what looks like a Death Eaters cloak?” Andy asked more to herself than out loud. She stood up heading to the door towards the kitchen.
“I would leave her when she's like this,” Narcissa warned her.
“I'm going with the hope she will settle for butterbeer, I don't want her opening my Elven wine hidden under the sink!”
Andromeda walks into the kitchen to see Bellatrix with her head in a cupboard rummaging through it precariously.
“Bella” Andromeda spoke softly. she didn't continue as Bella held a finger up indicating silence.
“Please do not tell me there is no alcohol in your house Andy!” Bella asked calmly Andromeda pointed to the cupboard above her “There is butterbeer in there.” she concluded. Bella grabs the cupboard door pulling it open and pulls out a bottle, pulling the cork out with her teeth and spitting it into the bin, before taking a sip.
“Was it really that bad?” Andy asked. Bella looked at her, taking a long sip before deciding to answer.
“I made a fool of myself on Christmas Day,'' she admitted, “Right in front of the parents as well.”
“Easier to show you,'' Bella said, placing her bottle down and bowing her head slightly, waiting for her sister to look into her mind.
Andy could see from the memory it was obviously Christmas morning Bellatrix sat smiling but quiet alongside Hermione on the terrace along with an older couple assumed to be Hermione’s parents.
“Jack you go first.” The woman ordered as she handed the large sack-like stocking to her husband. He was sporting a paper Christmas hat already on his head. He grinned to his wife as he eagerly dived in, pulling out some new slippers, and what looked to be parts for an adult train set. Next, he lifted a stocking and handed it towards his wife. She pulled out a single box almost shoe size. However as she opened it, piles of coloured tissue paper spilled out and a smaller box appeared, inside was a rather expensive looking gold chain and pendant. She squealed in happiness before leaning over and pecking her husband lovingly on the lips.
He took the chain and clasped it around her neck as she continued to grin at her present. Hermione looked at her parents, grinning in their happiness. The only person looking confused and slightly uncomfortable was Bella.
Hermione turned to her girlfriend and handed her a green and silver velvet stocking, a large smile on her face. “Your turn Bella!”
Bella smiled nervously before reaching her hand into the stocking, she grasped the first item, it was material of sorts, but stiff. She pulled it out, revealing a brand new black leather corset, identical to her current rather worn looking one. She relaxed slightly smiling up at Hermione as she felt all eyes on her and reached in again.
The second item was something small and rectangular. She looked on the front seeing a DVD of Gordon Ramsay's first series of Kitchen Nightmares, her favourite cooking show. The final item was a scroll when opened and straightened out was a picture from their first muggle date. Hermione took Bellatrix to the fair and bought a copy of the picture from the log flume, screaming as it dropped down. Bellatrix realised the gesture of the item, it was to add to her therapy logbook, where she kept items to prove how much her rehabilitation had improved over the years.
She carefully rolls up the photo, placing it down carefully with her other items, taking a moment for herself as she feels three sets of eyes towards her. She pulled up the red velvet stocking, sighing before handing it over to Hermione.
The muggleborn excitedly dived into the stocking, failing to notice the nervous look on her girlfriend's face. Andy however could feel the anxiety rolling off Bellatrix, as she continues looking uncomfortably towards the package Hermione was pulling out. The only time she ever remembered her sister looking so awkward and quiet was when aunt Walburga decided to explain rather vulgarly what their ‘Wifely Duties’ included once they were married when they were visiting over Christmas as children.
Hermione unwrapped the packaging and looked confused at the items, turning to Bella who at this point was clutching her face in her hand trying to hide her embarrassment. She cautiously unfolded the items and held up a rather sexy pair of Fishnet stockings. Hermione didn't continue, she could see what else was in the package. She placed it down and looked back towards Bellatrix.
“When you said Stocking Filler, I thought you meant I had to fill it with stockings . . .”
Bellatrix jerked slightly as she felt Andromeda pull out of her mind roughly. She shook her head looking over at her sister. Andromeda was covering her mouth and shaking slightly. Failing to hold her composure as she burst into tearful laughter.
“Oh, Bella! HAHAHA! Stockings!”
“It's not that funny! Dammit Andy shut up!”
Andy couldn't stop, she was bent over her sides hurt so much, Bellatrix stomped off into a huff abandoning the kitchen. She only realised as she calmed down and noticed Hermione in front of her.
“She showed you Christmas day didn't she?” Hermione asked, a knowing look on her face. Catching her breath Andy nodded in confirmation, as she straightened herself up, noticing a glimpse of silver flash from under the collar of the muggle-borns shirt.
“That's new” Andromeda pointed to the glistening chain. Hermione grinned pulling it from her cleavage, holding up a delicate Raven-shaped amulet. Andromeda stared in awe.
“Where did you get this?”
“Bella of course, She gave it to me on Christmas eve.” Andromeda stared shocked at Hermione.
“Did she tell you anything when she gave it to you?” Andy asked. “Not even the Lore of the Raven?” Hermione shook her head confused.
“It’s a tradition of the Heir of Black to present the chosen person they wish to marry with a Raven on Christmas.” Andy and Hermione both turned, caught off guard not realising Bella had returned. Andy smiled. Hermione stared, still speechless as it sunk in.
“I was going to ask you properly when the moment was right but I guess now is as good a time as any?” Bellatrix shrugged trying to act not too bothered, the only sign of unease was the sweat on her brow.
Hermione screamed running towards the Dark witch and diving into her arms, pulling her into a loving kiss.
“Cissy, you better get the event planners out, it looks like we will be organising a wedding shortly,” Andy called through to her sister. Smiling at the happy tears now falling from the former Death eaters eyes.