Her name is Elizabeth Meinen they tell him. They say she is of good family and well-dowered. A charming young woman, German in heritage but hardly a lovelier lady could be found in Petersburg or Moscow society.

Andrei is twenty-six and he thinks he should get married. His father does not explicitly say anything about it, at least not while Andrei is occupied, but he knows that it is expected of him in the long run. He isn't particularly interested in the ladies – they make him uncertain and a little embarrassed sometimes. He really does not know what to say to them except for banal societal pleasantries that grate against his sense of dignity.

Flimsy words seem to be a poor basis for what should be a lifetime of union.

Lise wears lovely pinks and pastel greens to parties. Her ballgowns are a delicate cream. Andrei does not know why he notices these things, or why he can tell by the slight curl of her lip or movement of her fan if she is happy or upset. Apparently, he enjoys watching her, somewhere between the politics and champagne.

How strange, that little mustache of hers, and how endearing.

The first time he asks her to dance it is for a waltz. The dance is brand new is scandalous, the close hold of the partners sending overly-proper society matrons into fluttering fits. He watches her for signs of discomfort as all eyes follow them, few other young couples brave enough to join them in this avant-garde. But Lise only smiles brightly and says, "do you know, Prince, I've been wanting to dance a waltz for so long. It isn't half as bad as everyone says it is."

Andrei thinks about her on the way home; he thinks she might be his wife someday.