Adeline Delphinus Black was first and foremost an exceptionally stubborn child, even by the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black's standards. Hence, why it was to no surprise that Cassiopeia Black found herself in the midst of an argument with her significantly stubborn nine year old daughter no more than an hour before they were scheduled to leave their home for the Yuletide ball. The first event the pair would ever be attending together in Britain, and likewise Adeline's first introduction into pureblood society.
The argument wasn't of anything important either— at least not to the elder Lady Black's mind. Why should it matter if her daughter's hair was up or down for such a party? It wasn't as though it would suddenly make her maternal aunts like her more—they had already written them both off as nothing more than embarrassments to say the least. If only her daughter could grasp such a simple notion then everything would have played out, not only much differently, but far more smoothly.
Cassiopeia knew her daughter was nervous to be attending, also uncommonly excited as well. Hence why she was likely fretting over such simplicities like hairstyles. That however didn't mean that Adeline's failed manipulation tactics and temper tantrums were something that Cassiopeia enjoyed having to navigate through while trying to get them both presentable for Yuletide.
"But Maman*," Adeline whined to her mother, her cheeks slowly getting redder the more she attempted to change her mother's mind on such topics. "Narcissa said she was going to have her hair up! Why can't I?"
Cassiopeia counted to ten in her head slowly—neither for the first nor the last time since her daughter had started her mini-rebellion on hairstyles, in the hopes of staying patient and well tempered. After she got to ten and was able to carefully think of a proper answer in the hopes of persuading her daughter out of such ridiculousness, she countered sternly.
"Well, when Narcissa gets a head of hair that is as uncontrollable as yours, I'd like to see her place it in an acceptable updo." She sucked in a deep breath, as her daughter's frown reappeared and her infamous Black temper reignited in a fiery blaze.
"Adeline, enough!" Cassiopeia all but shouted at her daughter, her own temper held back by nothing more than threads. Forcing herself to breathe in and out evenly, she pulled a ribbon out of the chest of hair accessories in her daughters bathroom and offered it to her in a moderate attempt at a peace offering. "Why don't you let me place a ribbon in your hair instead? That way it can be both half up and half down."
Adeline, oblivious to her mothers lack of patience the more they argued, all but sneered at the simple silver coloured ribbon that Cassiopeia held up.
"But I don't like that ribbon!"
Cassiopeia frowned at her daughter's tone, and asked in fraying patience. "What's wrong with this ribbon?"
"What's right with that ribbon more like," Adeline snidely remarked as she glared at the offending hair piece. The only explanation she offered her mother was loosely put together at best. "I use it all the time—, it's not fancy."
Cassiopeia had to force herself not to argue her on the matter. She knew for a fact that the last time Adeline had worn the silver ribbon had been when she had been practicing her waltz with Madam Geller at least a year prior. Adeline was normally wearing a white ribbon or a blue one most days, therefore her silver one —which was in nearly pristine condition— would do just fine for such an event.
"But," Cassiopeia replied slowly, as she carefully set the ribbon down on the bathroom counter top. "—it goes wonderfully with your sage coloured robes."
Adeline wrinkled her nose at her mother. "I'm not wearing the colour sage to a Yuletide ball."
Cassiopeia had to bite her lip from speaking her mind, and instead tried to gracefully counter her daughter's distaste to the colour they had picked out weeks ago.
"No Maman*!" Adeline all but shouted her mother. In her fit of anger she missed the sharp glint of her mother's usually clear grey eyes. Unlike her daughter, Cassiopeia had spent years mastering her control over her temper, but that didn't mean it didn't flare up on occasion. Especially when her daughter started spitting phrases like a spoiled child. "—I'll look like a Christmas wreath in the color sage!"
"Fine!" Cassiopeia finally snapped, as she set the ribbon down on the counter roughly, and proceeded to go up and down her daughter with a scolding. There were a great many things Cassiopeia would have liked to stay but instead she stiffened her resolve and kept herself from lashing out like she so wished too. "Go starkers for all I care! We leave in an hour and I expect you in the parlour exactly on the needle."
Cassiopeia relished for just a moment in the way her daughter's eyes became glossy and her face turned an ashy white. Perhaps the sharply cut words would finally sink into her skull that despite what she thought, Adeline was still nothing but a child and Cassiopeia, her mother.
"Maman*," Adeline spoke, with her lower lip wobbling from unshed tears— whether from anger or sadness, Cassiopeia didn't hurry to pinpoint at the time. She was far to wrapped up in her own frustration and turmoil of emotions.
"I'm not fighting you on this, Adeline— it's just a party." Cassiopeia huffed sternly, refusing to argue further on her decision to leave her daughter to her own devices. She was not going to stick around and offer her aid to Adeline if she was going to continue acting improperly for a young girl. Adeline knew better.
Despite her better judgment, Cassiopeia continued to steamroll onwards and ignored the defeated expression of her only child and the way her eyes continued to become even more glossy in the bright lights of her ensuite.
"I should have never agreed to bring you with!" She all but snarled as she went about closing the drawers to the jewelry box and the chest filled with hair accessories. "Especially with the scene you're making before we have even left the house. Mipsy!"
With the call of their house elf, a loud snap filled the room as the pillowcase wearing creature snapped into existence. Adeline watched begrudgingly as her mother set out a list of orders to the elf— not unkindly but far from her usual tone of politeness and reserved cheer.
"Bring Adeline down within the hour— I don't care if she's in nothing but her birthday suit or a towel." Her mother levelled her with a stern glare, after moving her eyes pointedly from the house elf to her misbehaving daughter. "A Black is never tardy and she must learn this."
The house elf with it's flappy looking ears and deformed looking head nodded its agreement before replying swiftly and without question, "Of course, Mistress."
As Cassiopeia went to leave the room she called out her final orders to the elf which had Adeline sinking further into her bare feet. She was an even mixture of regret and fury at her mother's second orders to Mipsy and despised how the elf purposely took her mother's orders over her own.
"And don't you dare put her hair atop her head! She'll look like a bird's nest and that's the last bit of judgment I'll need from my family tonight."
The slamming door of the bathroom, followed by the stomp-like steps in the corridors made it evident that Adeline could expect no further help in getting ready. Her mother had never broken a promise to her yet, and she had warned Adeline many times before that she was a woman of her word—whether that be in vows made or upholding punishments of naughty little girls. It was one thing that she both loved and hated about her mother.
Knowing she was good and alone, Adeline couldn't help but let out a growl of frustration as she stared at her chaotically curling damp hair in the vanity. She watched in a mixture of surprise and contempt as the said curls sprung to life and spit out a few red sparks in reflection of her overwhelming emotions.
Mipsy quickly hopped about in magicking away the sparks and let out a small sigh as she watched her two missus' fight. As rare as the fights were between the two they always left a sour taste in the elf's mouth. But nonetheless Mipsy was a good elf and would aid her missus' in anything they'd be wishing—even if it was playing carrier owl when they refused to speak to one another.
"Is little Miss be needing Mipsy?" The house elf asked cautiously as she watched the younger girl's facial expressions flicker from anger to sadness in seconds before returning back to the former. This was a common reaction in her little Miss, especially when focusing on her anger rather than her sadness. Little Miss often proclaimed it easier to focus on and move through than her other pesky emotions.
"I hate her Mipsy." Adeline snipped softly into the vanity, not meaning a word of it, as she huffed beneath her breath. She began to dig around in the chest of ribbons for something more to her liking than what her mother had suggested as she added on, "Why can't she just listen?"
"No bad talking the Mistress!" Mipsy scolded on instinct alone, as she began to flurry around Adeline in a tizzy whilst adding in her garbled speak patterns. "No, no, no! Does Mipsy need to remind young Miss of her manners?"
Not about to argue with the house elf, as she was known around the household to be a menace in her antics, Adeline simply sniffed pretentiously and ordered the elf away in a snit. She was pleased by the sounding crack that echoed through her ensuite at the elf's dismissal. She half-expected Mipsy to fight her on the order since she wasn't really in charge of bossing her around. That was her mother's primary job—not that she used it all too often. Cassiopeia had always preferred to do most things herself and have Adeline help her when needed, she didn't want them both to become too dependant on the elves and their strange household magic.
"Even the bloody elf is against me," Adeline muttered beneath her breath, while pushing a few strands of her still damp hair behind her ears.
"Okay... I can do this, right?" She spoke to herself in almost a trance as she begin to lay out her chosen ribbon and try to decide how to go about doing her wild and wet hair. It was something she had never been pressured or taught before, seeing as her mother favoured doing it for her each morning. Likewise, it never really mattered whether it was held up in ribbons or plaited nicely in silky strands when they busied themselves around the house with chores or with Lady-lessons.
"Narcissa has explained it and I've seen Maman* do it a thousand times..." She consoled herself softly as she began to run a brush through her curly hair—which she later found out to be her first mistake. Her mother did this often enough and usually used a boatload of supplies to keep it nice and curly with coiled ringlets— not at all frizzy. She hummed thoughtlessly to herself whilst tugging the brush through her hair, unknowing the frizzy mess that was about to become her hair.
"It can't be that bad..."
It was that bad.
Adeline had been so sure that she had down everything right, after all her mother always brushed her hair out in the morning before placing some nice smelling products in it. Granted, Adeline didn't know which products she needed to apply to her hair —nor how much, so that was likely part of her downfall.
She had selected the stuff to spray in first after brushing it out—which had made her hair sticky and almost crunchy feeling. Then she had tried the weird squeezable bottle that her mother had hidden under the sink, only to use too much of it and have her hair almost glued too her head. Adeline was in tears when staring at her reflection in the mirror before finally caving in and calling Mipsy in for help.
The house elf had been nothing short of scandalized once seeing her young missy's hair and quickly got to work to rectify the mess she had made. With the clock ticking closer and closer to the designated hour, Adeline was left short on time once her hair had finally been sorted out and made marginally appropriate.
It was nothing like she had wanted to have for the Yuletide ball but it was far better than what it had been. Falling to her shoulders in bouncy coiled ringlets of ink and the top-half help back in a complicated plait and tied with a ribbon. It was pretty of course, but not at all like Adeline had wanted.
Because they were running short on time— which Mipsy scolded her with constantly— Adeline was shoved into the sage green robes despite her displeasure on the colour and strapped into her silver sandals. It was only when she was standing in front of her floor length mirror was she able to agree with her mother's previous arguments. She didn't in fact look like a Christmas wreath and she was actually quite pretty. Respectable even—Adeline looked like a true Lady Black in training. Though said girl would rather cut off her own hand before admitting that her mother was right.
With less than a minute to spare, Adeline rushed down the hallways and the main staircase to the parlour where her mother was waiting. In her haste, she nearly tripped over the last step and went tumbling into the rugs before catching herself. Nearly out of breath, she stumbled into the parlour to see her mother pacing around the room and clipping on a set of large, dangly earring. Her mother was beautiful—that was indisputable but Adeline had never seen her mother so gorgeous and admirable in all her life.
She was wearing her most fancy, navy coloured dress robes that were embroidered with silver stars around the hemlines, adorned with more jewelry than Adeline thought she had ever owned. There was a large pendant of crystal, wrapped in silver around her mothers throat to match her dangly earrings. Her hair was smooth and straight, with nothing holding it in place at all. Not even her usual crystal butterfly clip that has been a family heirloom. On a closer inspection, Adeline noticed her mother to even be wearing rings—a piece of jewelry she knew her mother to despise for it's so called 'impracticality'.
What was most surprising of the entire wardrobe for her however, was the makeup and heels her mother had pulled on for the affair. Cassiopeia Black despised heels, thinking them to be nothing but contraptions to keep women from running away and to be more easily seduced by men. She thought the same for makeup, only more so that they were a sexist way to make a man feel better about himself if he had a gorgeous lady at his side. Her mother was strange like that.
"Adeline," Her mother greeted stiffly, tracing her daughter's outfit and hair choices with keen eyes. Adeline felt like she could crawl out of her skin under her mother's scalpel-like gaze. She knew now that she had been in the wrong and she ought to owe her mother an apology for her behaviour, but stubbornly she held her tongue and stared back at her mother's clear grey eyes.
Instead of further fuelling the fire and pointing out her daughter's choice in robes—the very ones Adeline had been adamantly against, Cassiopeia simply nodded in acceptance to her appearance and held out a carefully clothed arm for her daughter too take. Anxiously, Adeline stepped forward and grasped onto her mother's extended arm. She had read all about apparition and side-along apparition, yet she was still nervous on trying it for the first time. Especially since her and her mother were fighting. Adeline knew her mother wouldn't let her come to any harm, even if they were fighting, but still the fear was very, very real in the nine year old girl's mind.
"Hold tight and close your eyes." Cassiopeia stated with her lip's pursed expectantly. She half expected Adeline to refute her instructions as well, seeing as she was disagreeing with everything else she had given her input on as of late.
Yet, Adeline only nodded her head and replied most politely, "Yes, Maman*."
Not about to push her luck, Cassiopeia spun on the balls of her feet and quickly apparated both herself and her daughter from their home in France with a small pop. Many miles away the two reappeared on the front steps of Black Manor for the annual Yuletide Ball hosted by their far more opinionated family members for the first time.
For a ball, a Yuletide Black Ball at that, the event was a complete and utter bore. Not only was the music tasteless—seeing as Aunt Druella had only included classical music, nothing at all fun and upbeat like her mother played in the garden, but everyone seemed to hate one another.
That shouldn't have come to a surprise for Adeline seeing as she was begrudgingly forced to know her family's less than stellar history with one another but it really put a drag on the supposed to be fun evening. The twelve course meals were delicious, the best that Black Manors elves could offer, and the decorations marvellous and bright but the people... well, they were seemingly less bright and less offering of kind words to one another.
It had only been an hour and Adeline had witnessed three separate disagreements, four threats to disown one another and one full out screaming match between her Grandfather Arcturus and her Aunt Walburga. This was all before dessert was even served too. It likely didn't help that her cousin Andromeda had incited her own mother Druella's rage almost instantly upon her Aunt Walburga's arrival when knocking over a flower vase.
The one positive to the entire evening was that Adeline was finally able to put a face to all the names and people on the fmaily tapestries that she had been forced to learn. Likewise that she could now make notes on their muddled and strange personalities, and what made each of them so nasty to one another. One major downside was she was forced to dance often with many young pureblood heirs that were from deemed acceptable families—though this was much later in the evening.
Grandfather Arcturus was the first person Adeline had been escorted to meet and frankly the most insulting. He had taken one look at her and stated that though she looked like a Black she had her mother's terrible breeding. He then had all but dismissed Adeline and her mother in favour of talking with some other elderly pureblood man that they were distantly related to and her other Grandfather, Pollux. Whom was, if possible, the most dull person Adeline had ever met, she didn't know how her mother—whom was all bright and full of emotion, could be the daughter of someone so emotionless. Then again according to Grandmother Delphinus, for whom she was named after and married to Grandfather Arcturus, told her that Grandfather Pollux hadn't always been so dusty and bland.
Her Grandmother was very gossipy—most especially to the other pureblooded elderly women— and told Adeline and company in many insult filled rants that Grandfather Pollux used to be the wildest of them all until her Grandmother Irma passed away four years ago. Adeline was quite pleased that she wouldn't have to meet another old lady she was related to— at least if Grandmother Irma was anything like Grandmother Delphinus and the other gossiping old ladies.
Out of all her grandparents, Adeline only had the three left alive, as Licoris and Regulus had both died in their mid thirties, and then Irma had passed four years earlier. There was of course Dorea as well, but no one talks about her anymore. Adeline wasn't entirely sure why they don't talk about her, but she didn't try asking any of her relatives or the other pureblood's that were in attendance— seeing as they were all quick to lash out and anger (more so the Black's than anyone else). Apparently rage and anger was the only universal emotion the entire family shared and they loved to target one another with it.
After being forced to meet her grandparents and indulge them in conversation if they so wished she was able to mingle as she so choosed. Though it was only after she was stuck placating her Grandmother Delphinus whom wanted to tell her all about the family gossip and Grandfather Pollux who wanted to converse about her studies. That had been a dull conversation, but it seemed that her grandfather was pleased so far with her achievements— especially that her first display of accidental magic had been setting fire to the drapes.
"Fire, did you say?" Her Grandfather Pollux asked, as if not believing her at first. His grey brows nearly met his salt and peppered hairline as he asked clarification in boast to the other old men around him that had been pulled into the conversation incidentally.
"How marvellous," He mused with a lopsided grin and glinting dark eyes, Adeline would have been a fool to miss the way he paraded such achievements to the other old men. Old men from powerful pureblood family with nephews of their own that needed to be married off eventually. She felt ill at the hidden implications.
"You'll be a powerful witch, though that is to be expected as you're a Black," One of the men stated simply, a Nott if she remembered correctly, before a strange look crossed his face. Grandfather added offhandedly in what could only be described as a mindless tangent to the formers words. "Surprisingly, seeing as your mother had shamed our family with her sudden rebellion after her graduation."
Adeline felt a frown fall onto her features, though quickly covered it up, just as she had been taught to in her Lady lessons. Though her said lessons didn't stop her from indulging her curiosities and asking her Grandfather pointedly, "What do you mean shamed our family?"
"Well, she didn't marry your father now did she?"
He remarked coldly in what could only be explained as a huff—it seemed the other men were far more interested in their fire whiskey glasses at this point. Adeline knew instantly that she had wandered into a forbidden topic as he pressed forward in clipped and vague explanations. "—Shameful at that, being born out of wedlock. It took years of bartering on my behalf to keep your mother on the tapestry for her childish and foolhardy indiscretions, I'm
Sure Nott understands my plights seeing as his eldest is still unmarried despite being the last in line."
Not sure what to say, Adeline purposely kept silent and allowed the man to excuse herself from her presence and instead go to chat with her mother who was busy chattering with numerous pureblood women around her. Though Adeline wasn't left standing alone for long when her cousin Regulus was all put coerced by his mother into asking her for a dance. He was a good two years younger than Adeline but far better at dancing that she was on the dance floor. Though despite his perfect dancing, he was excessively shy and shared a total of three sentences with her— all of which were nothing more than pleasantries.
Both Regulus and Adeline were thankful when the next song started to play and they were able to carefully go their separate ways. Regulus to his mother's side where she ordered him too so he could converse with the other guests around their age and Adeline to the buffet table to steal a glass of water and disappear to the other side of the room. There she stayed for at least three songs to gain her bearings and purposely didn't go out of her way to speak to anyone else.
Though sooner than she would have liked, Aunt Walburga had seen her hiding away by the bay windows and pulled her back into the silver tongued conversations and quick witted chatter of her relatives and their numerous guests. Adeline was unsurprised to find Regulus stuck in conversation with his namesake Grandfather Arcturus and many other stuffy old men. Walburga made quick work of formally introducing Adeline to her Uncle Orion who had said no more than five words to her— all of which were pulled out of him like teeth from his wife. It seemed as though Regulus had taken after his father in his lack of socializing.
Aunt Walburga had been talkative, but like always very opinionated and snobbish outright—even more so with the Lady Crabbe and Lady Greengrass next to her. She had complimented her robes and then quickly stated that Adeline ought to have chosen a better colour as sage was quite terrible with her fair skin tone. That hadn't made the nine-year-old feel great about herself at all, but she didn't bother mentioning such to the woman or to her just as nasty friends. Blacks didn't show weaknesses, especially not to each other. Though thankfully Adeline wasn't subjected to the woman's backhanded words and snide comments about mudbloods, blood traitors and the like for long when her Aunt Lucretia had stolen her away for a private chat.
Out of all her relatives Adeline couldn't help but adore her Aunt Lucretia. She was the perfect blend of proper and fun— she had admittedly started far more arguments within the family get together than the rest combined but she was undoubtedly entertaining. Adeline had been given a handful of advice from the woman, all of which she knew her mother wouldn't approve of. Such as the quickest way to learn a stinging hex and how to bewitch and befuddle a man away from his galleons. This had brought in the interest of many other younger girls like Adeline. She was also roped into a wonderful and knowledgeable discussion on woman's rights and activism in the Muggle World— at least until her mother had ruined her good fun and pushed her to socialize with some of her own cousins.
Aunt Lucretia had encouraged her to mingle of course, but only after winking at her and whispering loudly enough for her mother to hear that she ought to write her if she has any more questions on learning a few not-entirely lethal or legal curses. Adeline had quickly promised her Aunt she would before being ushered away with an unimpressed mother.
Due to her mother's interventions she was then left in the capable hands of her eldest cousin Andromeda. Adeline didn't really know the girl outside of what Narcissa had spoken of her in their messages but was pleasantly surprised to find her not only exceedingly quick witted but humorous too. She had a sort of dry humour that left you puzzled for a moment before you caught on that the elder girl was jesting. Yes, Adeline quite liked Andromeda, especially when she taught the younger how to get seconds of dessert without their parents knowledge. Or in how skilled she was at turning down dancing partners who kept coming up to her only be shut down before they could even finish their sentences.
Though Adeline wasn't left in her elder cousins company long when her Aunt Druella all but swept her away to talk about possible suitors with Grandfather Arcturus. Adeline quickly back peddled out of accompanying the girl to what would no doubt be a very boring and very meticulous conversation. It was then for the first time that Adeline actually found herself entirely alone for the first time in the duration of the party. Needless to say, she didn't hesitate in quickly vanishing to the patio outside for a well needed breather. It was there that she incidentally met with her mother's favourite brother, Alphard.
He was just as her mother had described him, carelessly kept but still somehow charming with his unbuttoned robes and well fitted dress shirt and slacks beneath. He was the only Black relative to be wearing red, rather than the favoured colours of navy or green— and he was also sporting a close cropped hairstyle rather than the favoured long locks like most of the men. What surprised Adeline the most upon stumbling into him was that he was smoking from a small brown coloured pipe— a habit that was quite looked down upon in pureblood society.
"You must be Cassiopeia's girl," the man had stated, as a billow of smoke left his cracked lips before giving his own introduction on the cold patio. Adeline watched in awe as the smoke faded away and a boyish smile tugged at her Uncle's lips. "I'm your Uncle Alphie."
"It's a pleasure to meet you." She replied instinctively as she went to curtsy just as she had been taught, only to freeze in her steps when her Uncle waved away the necessity for such greetings. After standing upright and rectifying the apparent mistake, she carefully added. "I'm Adeline."
"You're just as polite as ol' Wally said," he replied to her in greeting, grinning wider as her face blushed bright red from his compliments, "—and just as stunning as ditzy Druella lamented about."
Adeline had to force her face to stay in a neutral position at her Uncle's not-so-kind descriptions of her two Aunt's. Especially the one regarding her Aunt Druella, as even she had noticed the woman to not be completely alright in the head. Though her amusement was soon cut short by her Uncle taking another long drag from his pipe and bluntly asking, "Now what's a young girl like you doing away from the party? Don't most little girls like dancing the night away?"
Adeline shrugged noncommittally. "I just wanted some fresh air... and I'm not exactly keen on dancing."
Her Uncle Alphard raised an eyebrow at her words but didn't press her for details on the matter, something at which she was grateful for. The last thing she wanted to bring up was her deplorable dancing skills, as an eventual Lady Black she was expected to be perfect in all things pureblood, polite and proper in their society. Instead all her Uncle did was hum in agreement as he blew out a huff of smoke.
From inside the house Adeline could hear the starting of another argument come through. Though because of the separating walls she was only privy to a few of the words being shouted back and forth. Unsurprisingly, it sounded as though Aunt Druella and Aunt Lucretia were picking up their previous argument on what a Lady should and shouldn't be allowed to do in Wizarding society.
"Our relatives are quite a lot aren't they?" Her Uncle suddenly said, breaking the tentative silence between the two. Unsure how to reply, and if she was allowed to have an opinion on such a controversial matter, or if she was even allowed to speak ill of her relatives, Adeline kept quiet. As if sensing her turmoil towards the change in topic, her Uncle Alphard, no Alphie, added on further.
"It's alright," he spoke simply, as he tauntingly waved a finger and pressed it to his lips, "It's our little secret."
Adeline couldn't help but grin at that. She had never had a secret before and the idea of having one with her Uncle Alphie—who was slowly becoming one of her most intriguing relatives— was thrilling to say the least.
"Yeah, I suppose." Adeline finally relented with a bright grin pulling at her cheeks and putting her dimple on full display. With the sound of breaking glass and further shouting inside, Adeline couldn't help but ask in curiosity, "Do they always fight this much?"
"By Black standards this is quite tame," her Uncle stated with a huff of a laugh, as if the thought of a 'tame' Black family reunion was something he never thought to speak out loud about. Though he quickly had Adeline chuckling softly at his second sentence. "You should see the arguments that break out at funerals."
Adeline grimaced in pity for the both of them. She half heartedly hoped to never have to see the event herself. Not because she despised funerals—she knew it only proper to pay your respects to the deceased and magic itself—but the ball had enough arguments to last her a lifetime.
Like her mouth had a mind of it's own she crassly remarked without a drop of emotion, "I reckon there's a lot of those."
Adeline nearly jumped out of her robes at her Uncle's both sudden and booming laughter. He was nearly bent in half as he belly laughed in loud harsh breaths, before dissolving into a coughing fit shortly after. Adeline blamed the coughing on his improper smoking habits.
"Damn straight, kid!" He managed to huff out in ragged breathes as he slowly composed himself once again on the patio steps, with much trouble. "Damn straight."
Starting to get a shiver and feeling more at ease since she had arrived at the party, Adeline excused herself from the patio and went to slip back inside. She knew if she stayed out any longer her mother would soon worry where she went, it also helped that it seemed as though the argument had come to it's end between her two Aunt's so everyone was properly preoccupied in attempting like nothing had happened at all.
That was another thing Adeline didn't quite understand about their family dynamic. One minute everyone is shouting and screaming bloody murder at one another and the next everything is fine as if three members of the family didn't just threaten death via an old feud or some minor inconvenience. It was beyond peculiar but Adeline was happy to pretend to be blissfully ignorant to the matter as well. After all, it's not like she could do much to change it.
When Adeline had re-entered the house she was all but pounced upon by the one person she had been most looking forward to seeing at the party. Narcissa was wearing silver robes just like she said she would and her hair was done up in an updo that almost made her look paler than usual. She was beautiful Adeline thought, then again Narcissa was always beautiful. It almost hurt how much so, and the girl knew it too— though Adeline assumed that to be in part because of her mother's own vain qualities. Despite that, Adeline was more than overjoyed to see her favourite and closest cousin.
"Adeline!" Narcissa exclaimed brightly, carefully walking over in both a frantic and measured pace with quick steps. Adeline couldn't help but notice the small and perfectly wrapped green box in her hands as her pale haired cousin added on, "I've been looking all over for you."
"Hello Cissa," Adeline greeted politely before giving her older cousin a quick embrace before offering an explanation to her whereabouts. "I've been meeting and greeting the rest of the family, and dancing with many unfortunately."
"Oh of course," Narcissa said her eyes widening slightly as if she had forgotten momentarily that Adeline hadn't met everyone yet seeing as this was her first time away from France. And slightly smirking at the thought of her tripping over her own toes with the other apparent heirs of prominent families.
"Anyway," she waved off momentarily with a bright grin before holding out the box in her hands towards Adeline. "Andy said she saw you slip outside, so I thought this the perfect time to give you your gift."
Adeline felt her heartbeat speed up in her chest at the extended present before slowly taking it into her hands. She had forgotten all about Narcissa's promise to give her two gifts. One for Yuletide and the other for her now past birthday that had happened on the fourth—a date to which no one except her mother and Mipsy usually gifted her anything.
Overflowing with gratitude but feeling as though a rock had settled in her gut, Adeline carefully said, "Cissa, you didn't have to get me anything."
"Of course I did!" Narcissa exclaimed as if suggesting otherwise just plain silly. Adeline didn't know how to feel at such a strong sense of resolve towards gift giving, seeing as it wasn't much of a big to-do at her own home but nonetheless accepted the gift as Narcissa went on to say. "You're my baby cousin and a Black, it's customary you know. Besides it's just something small."
With all that being said, Adeline carefully unwrapped the gift, her hands shaking slightly with excitement and was surprised to find a long black velvet box. Never having been a very patient girl, Adeline quickly opened it and gasped at the gift inside. It was absolutely gorgeous, a small and dainty chain in the colour silver, with a square cut green emerald at the centre as a pendant. The jewel itself was cradled in the same silver as the necklace and was inscribed in the back with the family words, Toujours Pur*.
"Oh, Cissa...," Adeline gasped as she carefully stroked the chain in awe before glancing up at her beaming blonde cousin. "—it's marvellous."
"Of course it is," Narcissa replied with a smug grin as she rolled her eyes at her cousin's disbelief at her excellent gift giving."I picked it out."
Unable to stop herself from stroking the gift, the first gift she had ever received from anyone but her immediate family, Adeline asked in both awe and curiosity. "When did you even have time to buy this, or where? Surely, Hogsmeade doesn't have such jewels for sale?"
"Don't be daft. I went into the family vaults and picked it out." She harrumphed before pointing to Adeline's ring clad hand. The very one that held her heiress ring on her ring finger.
Adeline would have been shocked that Narcissa remembered her explanation of the ring in their first exchanges of letters had it been anyone but the blonde girl. Her older cousin was very good at remembering such details, hence why she was perfect at the tapestry tests in her own Lady lessons. "Look! I even got you one to match your heiress ring. I also had father help with some of the enchantments on it."
"Duh," Narcissa rolled her eyes again as she quickly let her hands fall to her sides. "Anyway, let me know if they work, will you? They're supposed to help clear your mind and focus. It'll help you when you come to school— since it's always so noisy in the common rooms."
Adeline was touched at the girls thoughts—especially in how she hadn't only gotten her a beautiful gift but a practical one as well. The necklace suddenly had an even larger sentimental meaning attached to it, at least for her. She knew right in that moment that no matter what gift she ever bought Narcissa for her birthday it would never match up to the one she gave Adeline that evening.
"That's... really thoughtful," Unable to stop herself she embraced her cousin again, this time for much longer than before as she whispered like a secret to be kept between the both of them. "Thanks, Cissa."
Now blushing from her pointed chin to the roots of her pale blonde hair, Narcissa pulled away and mumbled most un-lady-like.
Though the moment between the two young girls was soon shattered by the sound of Adeline's Aunt Druella calling to her youngest daughter from the other side of the room. Instantly, Adeline's cousin's back become ramrod straight as she perfected her posture and stepped seamlessly back into role of the perfect pureblooded daughter that she was. Adeline couldn't help but fall back into routine as well, as she carefully closed the lid of the box and smoothed out the front of her dress robes to eliminate all of the non-existent wrinkles she may have gotten in her quick embraces with Narcissa.
"I better go," Narcissa stated with a quick glance over her shoulder to be met with her mother's blue, steel-like glare. Before she left however she added on in promise, "I'll catch up with you later when all the adults retire to the study for drinks, alright?"
Adeline smiled softly before agreeing. "Alright."
After stowing her gift from Narcissa with her mother in her secretly enchanted pockets—to which her mother thankfully asked little questions about and ignored the way her daughter had interrupted a conversation on a new bill passing at the Ministry with a few other highborn women— Adeline was pulled back onto the dance floor. This time not entirely unwilling as instead of Regulus or some other random pureblood boy who had been shoved towards her by their parents, she was met with the lopsided grin of her other male cousin Sirius.
Truthfully, she didn't know much of anything about this particular cousin of hers besides that he apparently had a pinnacle for mischief and sending his mother Walburga into a rage. Adeline also concluded within the first few steps of their dance that he was very well-practiced in the art of waltzing—Adeline less so when she stomped on his toes twice. Surprisingly though, he didn't seem too bothered by it and instead cracked many jokes about it. Most of which circled around him wearing protective toed shoes the next time they decided peruse on the dance floor. Needless to say, Adeline had laughed much in her cousin's presence and company when dancing.
It was on the third song that they swayed back and forth—as Adeline had been unable to talk him out of the next two songs— that she was finally escorted from the dance floor and towards a table to sit down for a while. It was there that Sirius confessed that he was more or less using her to avoid his mother's glares and reprimands about socializing with the other ' stuck-up and pretentious' guests. Adeline didn't fault him for it however, as she too was quite tired of socializing with her many relatives and being shoved into the arms of other pureblood heirs in need of a dance partner.
"Not much of a dancer?" Sirius asked in response to her frown after stating her distaste for dancing. He was smirking at her knowingly with a strange glint shining in his cloudy grey eyes. As if that was something they had in common, which she seriously doubted.
"Not really," she winced, as she recalled the smashing of his toes on a few of his fancier spins. Adeline was an adequate dancer, as it was expected of a pureblood heiress. That didn't at all mean she liked the endeavour however. "You were great though. Very poised and proper."
"Well," he paused as he heaved a bored sigh as he let his eyes glance to where his younger brother was being showboated around the room by his mother. "Lord lessons gotta be good for something."
She chuckled at his phrasing. "One would hope so, yes."
Silence fell between the two, not uncomfortable in the least. It was perhaps the second time Adeline felt truly at ease inside the ballroom alongside another one of her family members. Sirius was slowly becoming one of her favourite cousins—, not that she was ever going to let the glossy-haired Black heir know such a thing. She had already deducted that he was slowly gaining a massive ego to go along with his boastful personality. No, Adeline refused to add more fuel to the fire in that sense, Aunt Walburga had already insinuated that she ought to keep her couple-of-weeks-older cousin in check in that sense. Sirius' mother had also insinuated many other things that Adeline tried not to think to hard about.
"Would you wanna get out of here?" Sirius suddenly asked, curtly cutting her thoughts of the interaction earlier with her Aunt short, with his improper wording.
She frowned unsurely to his request. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," he paused, darting a look to the other guests around them before continuing blandly as if they were discussing the weather rather then making an escape from their constrictive and uptight relatives. "...do you want to leave the ballroom and have some actual fun?"
Adeline knew she ought to refuse. After all, her mother was already cross with her from earlier in the evening and the last thing she should do was dig herself even deeper into her trouble—yet she was tempted. Very tempted, and it seemed like Sirius knew exactly what to say in order to get her to agree, as he added on offhandedly.
"Don't worry about Aunt Cassi... she looks ready to bail and this would give her the perfect excuse."
Still, she hesitated.
"I really don't think—"
"C'mon Addy," he cut her off with a knowing smirk and dancing eyes as he added on in whisper whilst Aunt Druella passed by to speak with Uncle Cygnus in private towards the outer edges of the room. "—it will be fun, I promise."
"Fine." She huffed out at last before sending him a mild glare at the horrendous nickname he gave her. Adeline despised nicknames, excluding those that her mother gave her. Those were special and a thing only between them—something to be treasured. "But only if you never call me that ever again."
He smirked. "Deal."
When Sirius extended her his arm to lead her out of the ballroom—the prefect blend of proper and cocky to anyone looking to them. She took his arm without a second thought, letting her barely older cousin lead her out of the ballroom and into the winding hallways. It was only when they had hidden themselves out near one of the many parlours, and Sirius relayed his grand idea of a prank that Adeline hopelessly prayed that she hadn't made a massive mistake in taking part in Sirius' schemes.