So, a quick note about this, it's slightly AU and some of you might ask, "Hey Essie, why the hell is Sirius still living with his parents didn't he runaway at sixteen?" well, dear reader, this is fanFICTION and I have some lovely explanation later on.
Anyways, read and review!
"Don't smile too much when you meet them—we're not going to a Muggle amusement park after all." Mother told me sternly as she styled my hair into loose waves—something a bit more controlled than its normal almost-bedhead-but-not-quite state. "And for the love of Merlin, don't mention Muggles."
"If you don't like them so much, why it is that you and Father are giving me to them?" I asked, meeting her eye in the mirror. She put her wand down from where she had been manipulating my dark hair and sighed.
"You would make a much better lord of this house than your brother will. I love him—as much as I love you—but you would be better." She said. "But you're not a boy and you will not be lord of anything; as such, you need a husband and I am not allowing my only daughter to be married to a man that can't provide a life for her in the quality that she is used to."
"Are you sure I'll be safe? Quality of life doesn't mean anything if my new family abuses me. Not all families are like ours—not all men treat women as well as Father treats us." I asked quietly. She pursed her lips and I gleaned a bit of uncertainty there: no, she wasn't sure, but this was the best she and Father could do for me. I needed a husband sooner rather than later—there was no denying that—and they wanted to give me a good life, one that didn't involve living on the streets.
"People say that your fiancé is different—that your arrangement is the only reason he hasn't been disowned yet. The lord and lady of his house—his parents—are getting old and they are desperate to see an heir ensured before their deaths. They wanted to wait for their second son to come of age and to promise him to you instead, but he still has another year before he leaves school and they don't know if they will live so long." My mother said. "Besides, your father and I rather like the older one for you. You'd do well with a rebel, darling—you've always been a bit different yourself. Besides, maybe he'll help you grow into an even better person."
"I've never even met him." I said. "I don't even know his name and you expect me to marry him." My mother smiled a bit sadly at me in the mirror and put a hand on my shoulder.
"I didn't know your father's name when we became engaged." She said. "It's the way things are for people like us, I'm afraid." My parents were relatively liberal for old Pureblood families, but even they wouldn't turn down a marriage from another family so their daughter could marry for love. "You might like him—stranger things have happened, Eloise." She added as she resumed styling my hair.
"Can you at least tell me a bit about him so I know what to expect?" I asked. I knew it was strictly forbidden for the bride-to-be to know her fiancé's name, but maybe she'd tell me just a bit.
"Well, he's your age—eighteen—and while your father and I haven't met him, we've seen pictures and he's quite handsome." She said. "He has a nice smile and dimples. His mother says that he gets into all sorts of trouble at Hogwarts—filling classrooms with dungbombs and such—but he has kind eyes." I smiled a bit. Maybe this wasn't going to be a complete disaster. We were the same age, which almost never happened. My own parents were over a decade apart, my mother only 36, my father almost 50.
"I wish you had sent me to Hogwarts." I sighed.
"I wish you could have gone, but your father and I decided with everything going on in the world, you were safer here and at Beauxbatons than at Hogwarts." She said, putting her wand down and running her hands through my hair a few times. "There—perfect." She said with a small smile. I smiled a bit back at her in the mirror. "Now, I have something for you." Mother added, walking over to my wardrobe and pulling out a garment bag. "You're such a beautiful girl and in the right dress, he'll be begging to marry you before you know it." I smiled a bit at the encouragement as she unzipped the bag to reveal a dress.
"It's beautiful, Mother." I said quietly, touching the fabric.
"A beautiful dress for a beautiful girl." She said, helping me out of my clothes. "Now, normally I disapprove of a lady showing too much of her figure, but you do need to make a bit of an impression when meeting your fiancé." She added as she zipped me up, the dress hugging my curves perfectly. "Eggplant always has been such a good color on you. Purples make your eyes look even more spectacular." She sighed. I looked at my blue eyes a smiled a bit. They had always been one of my favorite features.
She was right about the dress though—it was perfect. The deep purple complimented my light eyes, making them more noticeable. Although my family was giving a bit more liberty with figure-fitting clothes, the dress still had straps—no unmarried woman in her right mind would ever wear a strapless dress—and the neckline was pretty modest, only the barest hint of a dip between my breasts. It hugged the right spots and fell straight down from my knees. This was one of the first times I had actually seen my hips dressed in a way to make them look appealing.
"Now, touch up your mascara and put on your heels while I go get something for you." Mother said and vanished from my room. I walked over to my vanity and checked my mascara for clumps before carefully applying a second coat. I had been told my entire life that my eyes and lips were my best facial features so I usually played them up, adding a touch extra mascara and coloring my lips strong colors—but this time I put on a nude lipstick instead to keep it from clashing with my dress.
"Which heels should I wear?" I asked my mother as she returned.
"Your nude pumps. They're a nice height." She said, placing a box on my vanity.
"They're quite tall—I don't want to tower over anyone." I said as I put them on my feet. While I was of average height (5 foot 6), they really were tall shoes.
"Your fiancé is tall, as is his entire family." Mother said. "Now, this is for you." She said and handed me the box. I opened it to see a beautiful strand of pearls. "They'll go beautifully with the neckline of your dress." She said and put them around my neck, the pearls resting where they should, before tapping me with her wand. "There. Not even a hair will move out of place tonight." I smiled a bit.
"Emily! Eloise! It's time to go! Nathan and I are waiting on you two!" Father shouted from downstairs. I smiled nervously at my mother, who smiled a bit and touched my cheek.
"You look stunning, dear. You have nothing to fear. We'll be with you every step." I nodded a bit and followed her downstairs to see my father and brother in their dress robes.
"Ew, my little sister's hot." Nate mumbled, withering under Father's stare. "You look really good, Lu." He added, holding out a dark green cloak for me, draping it around my shoulders before tying it at my throat and pulling the hood up to cover my face. Another tradition. The bride wasn't supposed to have her face be seen until after she had met her fiancé and they were all seated for tea. Thankfully, the cloak was silk and therefore extremely light—I would have been dying in this thing if it had been anything heavier in the middle of summer.
"Nathan, take your mother's hand." Father said. "Eloise, come." I took his arm and he placed a hand over mine before Apparating with a crack. We appeared on a front stoop and my father politely knocked once Nate and our mother had appeared behind us. A house elf opened the door.
"Lord Bennett." The elf said, stepping aside and bowing low. "Master, Mistress, and the young Masters are in the receiving room. Please follow Kreacher, Lord Bennett." Father nodded and led us all in, me still holding onto his arm, as I couldn't see very well at the moment.
"Master, Mistress—your guests are here." Kreacher said as we came to a halt.
"Thank you, Kreacher. Please go prepare the tea for all of us and bring it to the drawing room. Where in Merlin's name is Sirius? Regulus, go get your brother." A woman said. The only things I could discern about her voice was that she was British (no surprise there) and that she sounded quite rich (also not a surprise). Her children had unusual names. There were footsteps and a pair of dress shoes walked by. "This is Eloise, I presume?"
"It is. Eloise, you don't have to keep your head down right now. Your fiancé is in the other room." Father said. I lifted my head to look at who would presumably be my future in-laws from under my hood. They were an attractive—although old—couple. It wasn't a wonder Mother had said their son was handsome. They looked much more bitter than my parents did though. "Eloise, this is Lord Orion and Lady Walburga Black. You'll be marrying their eldest son, Sirius." I curtseyed a bit.
"It's lovely to meet you, Lord and Lady Black." I said politely. "Thank you for inviting us to your home."
"You as well, Eloise. We were quite surprised when your parents insisted upon you marrying our eldest son—Regulus, our youngest, is quite better mannered you see—but perhaps you can impress some responsibility onto him." Lady Black said. I nodded slightly.
"I'm sure both of your sons are wonderful young men, Lady Black." I said. On the inside, I was freaking out. The Blacks? Everyone who had ever been born knew that the entire family was bad news in bold font with several exclamation points afterwards. What the hell were my parents thinking—giving me to these people?
"Ah, boys, come here." I quickly dipped my head to hide my face as I heard footsteps behind me. "Lovely of you to join us, Sirius." He added. "Although putting your tie on correctly would have been nice. Making a good impression on your fiancée is a bit hard when you look like a delinquent."
"They picked me and not Regulus for her—they should see what they're getting." Sirius Black had a pleasant voice, deep and smooth. I really hoped that his face would match because he was shaking out to be quite attractive if it did. Mother had said he was handsome and she was usually a good judge of men—at least physically; the jury was still out on if she had judged his character correctly.
"He's not wrong. It's good to finally meet you, Sirius." Father said and I removed my hand from his right arm so he could shake my fiancé's hand. "We've heard a lot about you."
"And I've heard nothing about you." Okay, that was fair.
"My name is Charles Bennett. This is my wife, Emily, my son, Nathan, and my daughter, Eloise." He said.
"Slytherin green. Great." I heard him say. I was quite confused until I remembered that my cloak was green. Well this was off to a great start.
"Sirius Orion!" Lady Black scolded. "You're the one that broke family tradition—not us." The Blacks were all Slytherins then: not a shock. I wondered where Sirius Black had been placed, if not in Slytherin. Ravenclaw maybe?
"It's fine—we all have our opinions. It's not Slytherin green intentionally—I was a Ravenclaw, my wife was a Hufflepuff, and neither of our children attended Hogwarts themselves. We haven't had a Slytherin in either of our families in a long time." Father said. "Eloise, you can take your cloak off now—especially considering that it isn't your fiancé's favorite color." The last part was barely concealing laughter. I reached up and untied the string around my throat before letting the hood drop, the cloak sliding off my shoulders. Father took it from me quickly and handed it to Nate. "Eloise, this is Sirius Black." He added. I looked at him, not really knowing what to do—all of my mother's advice and about everything she had ever said about meeting people flying out my head.
"It's good to meet you." I said, studying him curiously. My, he was handsome. His brother wasn't nearly as good-looking. Mother had totally picked the hot one for me. She had been right about the eyes—he had nice eyes, although they didn't look very friendly at the moment. His father had been right about the clothes. He looked a bit more disheveled than everyone else there and his tie was definitely crooked. Everyone looked at him, waiting for him to say something to me—anything.
"You too." He said shortly. Not like I could blame him. He was engaged to as much of a stranger as I was. I jumped as there was a small pop behind me. I turned to see that it was the house elf. We didn't have one and their spontaneous appearances and disappearances always threw me when I was around them.
"Tea is ready in the drawing room, Mistress." He said and vanished again.
"Sirius, please show Eloise to the drawing room. We'll be along. Regulus, chaperone them." Lord Black said to his sons, clearly hoping to encourage conversation. Why he was bothering with a chaperone was beyond me—I doubted Sirius Black and I were going to be jumping each other's bones. Sirius nodded once and offered me his arm, which I quietly took. I saw the younger brother following us a few paces behind.
"You have a lovely home." I lied, looking around the hallway.
"No I don't." He said flatly.
"No…you don't." I admitted. "I was just trying to be nice."
"So you don't like my house?"
"The wallpaper is hideous." I said, motioning to the walls in the dining room as we walked by.
"My aunt told my mother that wallpaper was very in fashion about ten years ago and she papered the entire fucking place." He said. I was surprised that he was ballsy enough to curse in front of a lady. I think it showed because he raised an eyebrow. "What? Too much for your delicate ears?" I ignored the tone.
"No, but I think you might give my mother a stroke if you say that in front of her. I rather like her so if you wouldn't mind not doing that, that would be brilliant."
"You like her?"
"Of course. She and my father are good parents—they love each other and they love my brother and I. They want what's best for me and do what they can within reason." I said neutrally.
"So much that they set you up with a bloke you've never met?"
"I said 'within reason', didn't I? They're liberal for Purebloods, but that's still not very liberal."
"Fair enough." He murmured. "This is the drawing room." I looked around. It was just as dreary as the rest of the place.
"I like your bookshelves." I said, looking over at them.
"You read?" He asked skeptically.
"Well, I did graduate school recently—you need to read for that, it turns out." I said, taking a seat on the nearest sofa. He looked surprised as he sat in an armchair. I saw Regulus lingering near the doorway in my peripheral vision.
"You went to school? I would've thought that Mommy and Daddy would've homeschooled a delicate little thing like you." He asked, sounding sarcastic at the end. I patiently ignored that as well and nodded.
"I just finished my schooling at Beauxbatons last May." I said. "I was quite sad to see it go, but I suppose that I was out of things for them to teach me."
"Beauxbatons?" I nodded. "You're clearly English—so why not Hogwarts? Your father said that he and your mother attended."
"My parents have no interest in the blood feud going on in England. When I was a young child they moved our family to Italy so my brother and I could grow up away the war they saw on the horizon. By the time Nate turned eleven, the war was starting up so they sent him to Ilvermorny in the States. I turned eleven a couple years later and they sent me to Beauxbatons." He seemed interested.
"They're not Voldemort's?" He asked.
"No, they just don't really…they don't think it's worth worrying about; I come from a family of pacifists. I took Studies of Non-Magical Cultures when I was at school and found it quite interesting, actually." I said. "Then, to be fair, I took everything." I added after a moment.
"We call it Muggle Studies—at Hogwarts, I mean." Sirius said. I nodded politely. It was certainly more to the point. "When you say you took everything…?"
"I mean I took everything—all of the core classes plus Alchemy, Voice, Art Studio, and Fabrics and Fibers." I said. "Totaled up to…twelve classes." He raised an eyebrow.
"And you passed all of them?" I nodded.
"I wouldn't have taken them if I didn't think I'd pass. I struggled a bit with…what do you call it at Hogwarts? Herbology?" I asked. He nodded. "Well, let's just say no one lets me near the tulips Mother grows on the front porch, lest I breathe too close to them." I swear to Merlin he almost smiled, but Regulus loudly cleared his throat, drawing attention to the fact our families were walking in behind me. Everyone looked at him.
"Sorry, dry throat." He mumbled.
"Sirius, sit with Eloise—you need to spend time with each other and I'm sure your brothers would like to take the armchairs." Lady Black said, giving Sirius no choice but to sit next to me as everyone settled in for tea. "Honestly, the children will be stunning." She said as another house elf appeared, making me jump again. This one looked friendlier—and much younger. "Mipsy, where is Kreacher?"
"Kreacher is watching dinner—he is better at making the puddings than Mipsy is and Mipsy and Kreacher want to make the best food, especially for such important guests." She said. Unlike Kreacher, she was actually quite cute, with big eyes and huge ears.
"Of course. Well, serve us all tea." Lord Black said dismissively to the elf. "And so you know, it's not your place to decide who is or isn't important. Don't presume to make that mistake again."
"Of course, Master. Mipsy is very sorry, Master." The elf squeaked and handed me a cup of tea. "Do you take milk or sugar, Miss?" She asked.
"A touch of milk would be lovely, thank you." I said quietly as everyone around me talked. She smiled at me brightly snapping her fingers, milk appearing in the tea. "Thank you. It smells wonderful." She smiled again hugely before handing tea to my mother.
"Eloise, your mother says that you're one for embroidery?" Lady Black asked. I took a moment to swallow my tea and nodded.
"I think I'm rather good at it, but producing anything worthwhile takes longer than it probably should." I said.
"Eloise is a perfectionist. I saw her undo almost an entire blanket once because there was a mistake she didn't notice earlier." My mother said. "She's quite talented, at the top of her art classes in school." Everyone looked at me.
"It's just a pastime, really." I said softly, sipping my tea.
"No way—you're brilliant—you can draw things on the corners of napkins that'd take me like year to do." Nate said. Mother looked at him pointedly, silently telling him to watch his mouth and his informalities. "Sorry." He added quietly. "Wonderful tea." He said, filling the silence.
"Thank you, Nathan." I said. "As flattering as that is, it's still just a pastime. Lady Black, I was just asking about the lovely wallpaper in the hall—where did you get the idea for it? I've never seen anything like it before." I added, trying to move conversation along. I could have sworn I heard Sirius snort and try to turn it into a cough. Everyone looked at him.
"Sorry. Dry throat. Maybe something's going around." He gestured to Regulus and himself. "Please continue."
"Well, Orion's sister, Druella, told me about a decade ago that it was very on trend at the time. Of course ladies of society such as ourselves have to remain privy to such things, so I had the elves hang wallpaper about the house."
"Of course." I said. "I wasn't aware that it was a trend recently, but I was only a child at that time." I said with a smile. "I'm not quite sure what the fashionable thing to do is right now though…Mother, do you know?" I asked, passing conversation off to my mother so I could sit and watch for a while.
"Do you have any other pastimes, Eloise?" Lady Black asked suddenly.
"A few. I play a bit of piano and enjoy dancing—although dance has fallen to the side ever since I graduated school in June." I said automatically. "My heart is really in painting, drawing, and sewing though." The woman nodded approvingly. Those were all feminine (safe) things—there wouldn't have been an approving nod if I had preferred to go rock-climbing or something.
"You'll have to show us some of your drawings one day." Lady Black said, clearly wondering if I was any good. Honestly? I wasn't really sure.
"Maybe when I draw anything worth showing anyone." I said just as Kreacher popped into the room, making me jump (again). Bloody house elves.
"Dinner is ready in the dining room, Mistress." He said, bowing deeply.
"Make sure that nothing goes cold this time, won't you?" Lord Black asked. I raised an eyebrow. Seriously? They slave over your dinner and that's what you have to say? I didn't say that out loud of course—I like my head on my shoulders, thanks.
"Of course, Master." He said and vanished with a pop.
"Well, shall we see what the elves managed to come up with?" Mother asked, standing up, making all the men there stand as a courtesy. "Come, Eloise—help your mother to the dining room." I walked over to my mother and took her arm as everyone started to walk out of the drawing room. We just kind of followed them as neither of us knew where we were going. "So?" She whispered.
"So, we're strangers. I don't know what to say to him and he clearly doesn't know what to say to me." I whispered back.
"He's quite cute though, isn't he?" She whispered with a small smile. I bit back and smile of my own and nodded a bit.
"Quite." I said, wondering if anyone was listening.
"It will be easier soon, darling—it was hard for your father and I at first as well." She said and patted my cheek before thanking my father for pulling her seat out for her. I ended up sitting directly across from Sirius, between my father and brother. We were both making heroic efforts not to make eye contact.
"When will Sirius and Eloise be married, Mother?" Regulus asked. I looked over at him and tried dearly to hide my surprise at the question. That was something (oddly) that hadn't even crossed my mind.
"What date did we decide on, Charles?" Orion said, answering for his wife. "The twelfth?"
"Tenth." Father said. I raised an eyebrow. It was the seventh now.
"Of July?" Sirius asked, beating me to the question. "You don't mean in three days, right?" He asked. I was just as taken aback as he was. I looked over at my mother, shocked. She shook her head a bit, telling me not to open my mouth.
"Yes, Sirius—of July. You and Eloise will be married in three days and will be sent on a two-week-long honeymoon while your mothers find somewhere suitable for you to live and to raise a family in." Orion said. I looked over at my parents.
"How exactly can anyone get a wedding together in three days?" I asked, wondering how that was logistically possible even with magic.
"There's no need for one of those silly weddings. You'll go to the Ministry to be wed like we all did. Your families will be there and no one else." My father said. "From there you will leave to a destination that your mother and I have picked and you will remain there for two weeks."
"You don't need to wear a white dress, Eloise." My mother told me gently—knowing what I was thinking. I'd want to wear a white dress if I was marrying someone I loved and not a total stranger.
But I wasn't. I was marrying a total stranger and so I didn't want to wear a white dress.
As cute as he was, I didn't love Sirius Black.
Also, the chapters will be in alternating timelines. One starting in 1978 and one in 1996 so we'll be seeing these two at very different parts of their lives.
Guesses on where they'll be in 18 years?
Review and guess!