Summary: She should have done this sooner. Well, she was doing it now.
Characters/Pairings: Alecto Carrow-centric
Genre: Backstory/Character Study
Word Count: 1,442
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The Carrows were one of those Pureblood families who, as of late, were running low on both funds and political power. As a result, it was becoming harder and harder for the offspring of their line to marry well, which only led to further decay and decline. Often, the family was forced to intermarry first cousins and when done in regularity, the effects could be observed on the children of these couples. Alecto’s father married his first cousin and sometimes, when she was older, Alecto wondered if she would have been prettier or her brother less daft if their parents had not been quite so closely related. Her father’s other cousin revoked his betrothal to her mother’s younger sister after his father died and he came of age, choosing instead to travel to East Europe for a bride and had subsequently sent his own son to Belarus to find a bride there through his wife’s connections. Really, Flora and Hestia were better off for it.
Like most people expected to live by a certain standard but incapable of doing so for practical reasons, Alecto’s parents were acutely aware of all the petty things that society valued but often tried so hard to measure up to them that they ended up missing out on the bigger picture. Her mother bought her the most feminine dresses she could find – floating, tightly-corseted things that always looked wrong on Alecto’s full, stocky figure. The family could only afford one language tutor for her and Amycus when they were children so their parents went with Latin instead of French, which did help Alecto when school started, but she was hopelessly lost in her teen years when it came into vogue among Pureblood girls to speak in French among themselves at ladies’ soirees and teas. Her mother stressed that if a young man did not put a “Miss” in front of her name, he was being rude. So Alecto demanded this formality of her classmates and thus became an object of ridicule, since even Narcissa Black only insisted on it at balls and formal events and even then only with men she was not well acquainted with.
Alecto’s parents were so desperate to have her married and so miserably unable to procure a betrothal that they chose to parade her in front of society as early as possible, taking Alecto out to balls before she official came out, before she even could officially come out. It was embarrassing and Alecto knew it. No one said anything outright to her, certainly – the Carrows were still Purebloods and her second cousin cut a decent enough figure, even a dashing one once he returned from his Belarussian adventures with his newly-minted wife in the late 70s. But Alecto understood that she could never be like the other girls – she was not pretty or mild-mannered, no one had taught her how to float when she walked, she wasn’t rich or even particularly brilliant. Her brother was an oaf who would likely lead the family into complete ruin once the finances fell into his hands and he had a hard enough time making drinking buddies, not to mention political connections. Alecto loved him dearly, but she knew he could never bring honor to their family name, not even by joining the Dark Lord, which he never did properly anyway the first time around.
Amycus hadn’t wanted to fight. He never quite grew out of his childish fear of the dark. Alecto, on the other hand, felt that it could mean something to her, she could be someone this way. Certainly a graceless, homely girl with hardly any dowry would die in obscurity if she kept to the world of ballrooms and drawing rooms where the women ignored her and the men treated her with polite but disinterested deference. But her mother had warned her, warned her that no proper lady fights a men’s fight. How was she ever to find a husband if she spent her time among the men, sneaking around in the night, covered in mud and blood? Sure, Bellatrix Lestrange was married but she had been just about the most desirable bride in all of England. Besides, everyone knew that Bellatrix was not proper – the rumors about her and the Dark Lord were scandalous and entertained society for weeks.
Alecto hardly ever listened to them – she knew they were wrong. If Bellatrix Lestrange kept a lover, it was Antonin Dolohov. And it was Antonin who was the fault of all of Alecto’s doubts and fears and episodes of self-loathing. She loved him the way a fifteen-year-old girl loves for the first time: with tender, hyper-romantic, self-deprecating abandon. She watched as he changed from a cocky Slytherin hotshot ring-leader into the serious and dashing second-in-command for the Dark Lord. She did not know how to approach him, what to say. Everyone knew he and Bellatrix had courted, the ones who cared to notice noticed that they carried on after her wedding. The Dolohovs were not especially rich, they weren’t even British. But Antonin was handsome and talented and could command a room with a single look. When he spoke about the Cause, Alecto’s heart stopped and she was prepared to throw all of mummy’s useless and fruitless pieces of advice about how a lady should behave out the window and follow him into the abyss.
She loved him, and he hardly knew she existed.
Alecto was tired of being no one. She was tired of never living up to the standards her family set for her. She longed for a dark cloak and a vicious spell – something, anything to get her noticed. Her father forbade her to fight and she seethed with anger and despair.
They lost the war; Antonin went to Azkaban as did so many of the others. Amycus had managed to keep a low enough profile in the two years he fought that he was not on any of the Ministry’s lists. They went out of the country for some time, to Egypt and India. Her brother was the only one Alecto had then -- the only one she could have in the aftermath. He was the one who insisted that she come with him, away from their parents who, among the tragedies of the people surrounding them, only saw ways in which they could pass her off into the lap of some unsuspecting family while they were still too shell-shocked to notice.
They were all broken. Everything was gone.
Amycus kissed her a few times while they were away. He was the only man she had ever kissed. It had only happened a few times and it never meant anything, but it made her think of the girl she had fantasized about being in the frenzy of the war. It made her wonder, for once, if Amycus suffered from the expectations their parents placed on them as much as she did. He admitted to her one night that he’d never been with a “real” woman – only “those muggle sluts” but never a witch. She’d reached out and taken his hand and said, quietly and steadily, like an oath, “This is our burden, brother. Ours together.” They were the ones no one ever noticed, unless the purpose was ridicule or manipulation.
Then, when the Dark Lord rose anew, she’d taken her brother’s hand again and said, “This is ours – together.” She was hardly a blushing maiden by then – more like a spinster. She no longer feared her father, in fact she hardly feared much of anything. This was her chance to try a role she hadn’t afforded herself as a girl – to slug through mud with the other men, to do serious, dirty work, to lash out with all the power of a battle curse when she was hurt. This time around she would demand respect, she would be a part of something which made her an equal to the rest.
Antonin was there too. Azkaban had changed him, losing the war had changed him – something was gone from his eyes and suddenly all her girlish dreams felt so silly, so predetermined to fail.
The first time she went on a mission and felt the power coursing through her, Alecto understood why Bellatrix did this – not because she was lewd and improper, but because it really meant something. In the ballroom and the drawing room, at the gala and the Ministry dinner no one ever noticed Alecto, she had been beneath them. Now – everyone noticed. No one cared to be on the wrong side of her wand.
She should have done this sooner. Well, she was doing it now.