1 YEAR LATER
The wedding was every bit as extravagant as I thought it would be.
The wedding, held in the extensive gardens of the Manor, simply oozed pureblood aristocracy and frankly, it was proving to be a little stifling. Not that the happy couple were complaining. They were too busy getting married to complain. Narcissa, dressed in the Malfoy family jewels, went to Lucius's side and the couple finally began to take their vows.
I stood beside her, having entered the procession on Regulus's arm, and stood in line with the rest of her bridesmaids. My heels sunk down into the grass slightly and I fidgeted awkwardly on my feet, trying to remain upright. By my side, Narcissa's eldest sister turned to me with narrowed eyes and I swallowed nervously, stopping instantly. My heels sunk back into the grass and I staved off a wince.
Once the couple had spoken their vows and began to leave the alter for their reception, I looked thankfully at Regulus when he appeared at my side. Linking my arm through his, I used my other hand to lift the hem of my dress slightly before walking away from the rest of the bridesmaids.
"Your cousin scares me," I confessed, leaning towards him to whisper in his ear.
"Which one?" he questioned curiously.
"Bellatrix," I whispered quietly, slightly afraid that she'd hear me. "Is there any other Black or ex-Black, for that matter, that could scare me?"
"You're probably better off keeping your distance from her," he agreed before sighing.
"What's the matter?" I asked, looking up at him.
He rolled his eyes and gestured to Narcissa who was waving me over to her. "Why is everyone so hellbent on getting you away from me?"
"What can I say?" I teased, already slipping away from him to join Narcissa. "I'm irresistible."
Crossing the pavilion that had been erected specifically for the wedding, I sat down beside Narcissa. She reached out to take my hands in both of hers and I started a little at the action, looking to her in confusion. She only smiled encouragingly at me.
"Thank you – for looking after Regulus," she said after a moment's hesitation.
"There's no need to thank me," I murmured, a little confused. "What's brought this on?"
"Ever since Sirius left he hasn't been the same," she confessed with a frown that lasted only for a moment. "But with you, he's back to being the way he used to be. So, thank you."
At that moment one of the bridesmaids approached her to tell her quietly that she was being summoned for the first dance. Narcissa rose to her feet, dropping my hands and smoothing out her dress. I copied her movement, helping her to adjust the train of her dress. When I looked back to her, I saw her staring at Lucius with an odd, contemplative look in her eyes.
"Sometimes the people we love make wrong choices," she said finally, looking to me with a slight sad smile that was really out of place in an event that was supposed to be the happiest day of her lide. "They might share our ideologies but they go about enacting them in the wrong way."
"What are you talking about?"
I followed her gaze again and this time my eyes settled onto the man Lucius was talking to. He stood a head or so taller than Lucius, dark haired and unbelievably handsome, as though he was a marble statue come alive. He looked no older than Lucius, despite being our father's age. What was the Dark Lord doing here?
My head snapped towards Narcissa, understanding dawning on me. I swallowed thickly, nodding as I repeated quietly, "Sometimes the people we love make wrong choices."
She sighed through her nose, "But we shouldn't condemn them for their choices. The choices they've made are things they will need to live by. It's a choice they made for themselves and all we can do is help them from their side."
And just like that, the serious moment broke away when she smiled gracefully and once again looked her part of the blushing bride. Without another word she set off towards Lucius, putting a hand on his arm when she reached his side and he, in turn, wrapped an arm around her waist. She finally turned to address the Dark Lord with a bow.
An arm wound around my waist, making me jump slightly. I looked to Regulus in surprise, shaking away his concern with a smile.
She was right. It was a choice he'd made for himself but it didn't affect him alone. He needed my help to deal with its consequences.
"What were you two talking about?"
"Nothing," I murmured, leaning heavily into his side. "I can't wait to go back to bed. Mother woke me up at 5 am to make sure everything was sorted out."
"Just a few more hours," he reminded me, a hand rubbing soothingly up and down my back. I felt him press his cheek against the top of my head as he muttered, "Don't look now but it looks like my father's just taken yours to have a word with him."
His comment had me lifting my head from his shoulder. And sure enough, in one of the corners of the room were our fathers as they talked quietly between themselves. My father stuck out his hand suddenly and Mr Black shook it powerfully.
"It looks like a betrothal contract had been added to the mix," I muttered, rolling my eyes.
"Is that such a bad thing?" he questioned quietly.
Drawing away from Regulus to look at him incredulously, my words died when I realised that he was being serious. My eyebrows shot up in surprise as I looked between his eyes.
"You're alright with it?"
He scoffed, "Of course I am, Malfoy. You're mine already so what's the point in delaying the process of making it official?"