The handsome dark-haired woman with sharp features and gray eyes carefully studies the crowd. Walburga Black nods in approval of those present at the Black Christmas Soiree. Those present were pureblood families such as the widow Longbottom, Bones, Rosier, Nott, Mulciber, Avery, her dear niece and her husband, Lucius Malfoy, and countless others. Though there was one pair that stolen the limelight from the hosts, Reginald and Georgine Prince. The stern, thin, silver-haired wizard looked regal as usual as his sister equally tall and thin stood at his side.
The entire pureblood wizarding families was trying to get into the good graces of the Princes especially given the bloodline of the Prince grandchildren. Even the families that considered themselves moderate were attempting the same feat. For it was universally known to all that neither of the Prince grandchildren were betrothed. Whichever family managed to snag either of them, their standing in the wizarding world would rise dramatically straight to the top.
Walburga sniffs as she flutters her decorative fan in her hand. If she'd known, she'd have pushed Sirius and Regulus onto the girl. But sadly, enough her eldest was an idiot when it came to women. And her youngest was already enamored with the Fawley girl. A proper pureblood young woman, who she would be pleased to see her youngest wed, if not for the Fawley couple!
Walburga purses her lips at seeing the figures of her niece, Andromeda and her muggleborn wizard husband, Edward Tonks. The fair-haired man with a mellow voice had tried to convince Walburga at first meeting him to call him, Ted. As if she'd ever call anyone such a muggle pedestrian name. She'd firmly called him, Edward, and that would be the end of that!
Her niece, Andromeda Tonks happily chatted with her mother, Druella Black. Much like Bellatrix and Narcissa, Andromeda was a beauty with lighter brown hair of the Rosier's and gentler gray eyes than most of the Black's. It was still amazing that the girl had ever run off with that husband of hers in the first place.
But ever since the death of Walburga's niece, Bellatrix, her younger brother and the deaths at the wedding of her youngest niece, her sister-in-law, Druella had finally had enough. Druella only had two daughters in this world and she'd not lose the other over pride. Druella Black had finally begun to make amends during late summer with her second born and accepted Andromeda's choice. And though Edward Tonks was indeed a muggleborn wizard, he'd in fact produced a child that had inherited the Rosier family gene of being a metamorphmagus. And that was something to be said there.
Walburga glanced away to spot the short man that was her father-in-law, Arcturus Black, the 3rd. Her husband, Orion was at his side looking elegant and sharp as ever. Her husband's gray eyes glance at her, but she merely gestures at him with her fan that everything is fine. The dark-haired Orion returns to his conversation in peace once again.
Her father, Pollux Black, had taken another turn for the worse again. The healers said it was severe depression and that he might never recover. Which was true, it seemed as though he'd lost all will to live ever since the death of Cygnus. Cygnus had always been his favorite and as he was the youngest, he'd been spoiled rotten ever since birth. There were even times when she despaired over how her father treated his eldest son, her younger brother, Alphard.
"Sister, I hope that you are well this evening," her younger brother's voice said awakening her out of her revive.
Walburga glances over as her eyes widen in shock. Her younger brother looked worse than ever before. His pale face was so very gaunt making him look skeletal rather than alive. His once fitted robes now hung loosely on his already thin frame. His black hair was limp and lifeless lacking the gloss that was usual to it. And his gray eyes, they seemed so worn and tired. Like an old general that knew that his final battle lay close at hand.
"Sit down, Alphard! You look dead on your feet!" Walburga exclaimed as she moved to pull him into a chair.
Despite his thin sickly wrists, Alphard staved her off with some unknown source of strength. "Walburga, I am fine," Alphard said as he gently held her hand.
Walburga flushed in embarrassment lest anyone see the public display of affection. She hastily withdraws her hand and says, "Really, Alphard! We are much too old for such unsightly displays!"
"I know," Alphard softly answered as he gazed into her eyes.
Walburga was a bit taken back at seeing the fierce strength hidden in his gaze. Blinking she says, "I'm glad you came, little brother. I thought you weren't going to come. You typically never attend these types of social events."
"I know," Alphard admitted as he studied his sister's features for the last time. Walburga possessed such strength within her. Sometimes rather too overwhelming, admittedly, but she had kept her promise. She had never allowed herself to be trampled upon as their mother had been by their father. Cold and harsh with her children at times, but she loved her two sons. She just wasn't always very great about showing her affections.
"Sister, you'll be kind to your sons every now and then again, won't you?" Alphard suggested.
Walburga rather fl.u.s.tered snapped her fan open again. "Such inappropriate questions, Alphard! And in public too!"
"I know that this isn't the time nor the place," Alphard replied. "But still, you'd never answer my question otherwise. Please promise you'll be kind to them every now and then again sister. I know that you still resent our mother for her kindness, but she loved us. And your children are not to blame, Walburga. Even they deserve a spot of kindness every now and again."
Walburga sniffs and curtly says, "I know."
She paused and glances away in mortification. "I've been trying. I'll confess, I'm not very good at it. But ever since the Malfoy wedding, the four of us are much closer. Even that foolish eldest son of mine behaved himself over the summer. I think all the fresh air did him and my youngest much good. So much so that Orion and I have been considering purchasing a summer home in the countryside for the boys to enjoy themselves during the summer months."
"I'm sure the boys will greatly enjoy that Walburga," Alphard said with a warm smile.
"Are you alright, Alphard?" Walburga asked at seeing the rare spark of joy on her brother's face. "You seem rather strange tonight."
"I'll be just fine, sister," Alphard murmured with that faint smile still on his face.
"Well, I suppose you could have taken a sip of the spiked punch bowl," Walburga sniffed. "I wouldn't be surprised to find that you're a bit tossed so to speak."
"That would be something," Alphard chuckled out loud earning himself another stare of surprise from Walburga. "Ah, yes, before I forget," Alphard said as he reached into his pocket.
Pulling out a small wooden box he says, "A gift for the boys. They're rare matching communication mirrors. No matter where they are as long as one holds the other, they can see and speak to each other. I had to pay a pretty galleon for these. I didn't have time to send it via owl. I'd you'd be so kind as to send it to them, I'd greatly appreciate it, Walburga."
"A useful trinket, I suppose," Walburga stiffly said, hiding her delight at the thoughtful gift. Taking the gift in hand, she says, "You seem strangely cheery this evening little brother. Nefarious plans to be held afterward? A visit to a well-endowed courtesan, perchance?"
"No such luck," Alphard wryly said as he glanced down at the time. "I best be going, now."
"Take care, it is cold and snowing," Walburga found herself saying to her own surprise. "With your illness, it's best you stay warmly wrapped up. We wouldn't want another flare would we now?"
"No, we wouldn't," Alphard lips twitched with some unknown emotion. "Goodbye, sister," he softly said, before turning away.
Walburga found herself clutching the wooden box in her hands as she found herself following her younger brother's slim figure vanishing in the crowd. A dreadful feeling arose in her chest as she stilled the urge to run after him. She called herself, silly and told herself she was just imaging things. But still, she found that she carried that wooden box at her side all night long as if to feel the comfort of her younger brother at her side once more.