-1- First News

Lucius was twenty-three, and in the opinion of his father Abraxas, it was high time he was married to produce his own heir. The man was only fifty-nine, but already he felt his position precarious, in need of securing. In the service of the Dark Lord nothing was certain, and he wanted as many eggs in his basket as possible in the hope that, when it was dropped, at least one would survive to carry on his name. He was confident that Lucius would approve his choice, and he hastened to summon his son into his study as soon as he received an owl from the girl's parents consenting to the match.

Lucius was not impressed.

"The Black girl?" He exclaimed in horror. "Father have you lost your mind? She is as promiscuous as they come, no good at all if you want to ensure that your grandchild is, in fact, your own!"

Abraxas frowned. No such rumour had reached his ears, and he had, as physically impossible as it was, both of them to the ground constantly.

"The younger one?" He queried. "I wasn't under the impression that you had met her." He gazed piercingly at his son, who had long since learnt to hold his own, and gave nothing away. The fact was that he and Bella had been something of an item on his Hogwarts days, and that they had both cheated magnificently on each other. Their break-up row had torn half the common room apart, so he was not relishing the idea of marrying her.

"She was in my year at Hogwarts, father," he reminded Abraxas.

"Nonsense, she's just turned eighteen," Abraxas contradicted.

"You are misinformed," Lucius said curtly. His patience with his father was waning. At fifty-nine he ought to have had all his faculties, but his mind got more easily muddled and Lucius did not appreciate being engaged without his knowledge to a girl who, last time they had spoken, had threatened to turn his, er, manhood, into a pumpkin pasty.

"It cannot be, I was told by the girl's mother, and she must be aware of her age. Let me just check..." Abraxas fumbled among his papers until her found a shakily-scripted family tree. "Ah, I see the misunderstanding here, boy. You are referring to Bellatrix, no?" Lucius nodded curtly.

"Ah, well I have chosen as your bride the youngest daughter, Narcissa, who would have been in her second year when you left Hogwarts."

Lucius frowned, trying to remember back to his Hogwarts days. In the intervening years, a flurry of gambling, drinking and pretty witches had blurred the memories of his school. He remembered Andromeda, a few years above him, much like Bella but rounder, primmer. He vividly remembered Bellatrix, every part of her, more than he wished. She had been a demoness in the sack, but unfortunately, a demoness outside of it, too. He could not recall another sister, but vague memories were surfacing of a little, pale, blonde girl he had seen with Bella in the common room a few times.

"Blonde girl?" He grunted finally, hoping his guess was right.

"I've never laid eyes on her myself, but she's from an excellent family and will do very well for you," Abraxas blustered.

"And do I get a choice in the matter?" Lucius asked lightly. His voice barely trembled at all with the repressed anger he was feeling.

"Come now, son. Don't you trust me to look out for your happiness?" Abraxas reproached. "Your mother and I were married by arrangement and we got along splendidly when she was alive."

Lucius snorted, but did not bother bringing up the time when Morgana had tried to poison her husband's evening firewhisky with Draught of the Living Dead.

"Well do I get to meet the girl at all or do I have to wait until I lift up the veil to see if I can bear to spend the rest of my life married to her?" Lucius asked sarcastically.

"Don't be a fool, of course you must see her," Abraxas scoffed. "You must be seen to have a suitable courting period. Arrangements such as these are not... condoned, in the strictest sense. It is an old-fashioned thing, but it has worked well in the past and I do not care to leave the choice to you. Your taste in companions is, it is rumoured, erring on the unsavoury, and at this rate I will be in my grave long before I get a grandson."

"When am I to expect the pleasure of my future wife's company, then?" Lucius said through gritted teeth. His father ignored the mutinous expression on Lucius' face and consulted his notes.

"Next Thursday we will entertain her to afternoon tea," he said mildly. "You are dismissed."

Lucius nodded curtly and stalked from the room, kicking his father's personal House Elf on the way out to vent his impotent rage. A wife! That would impede his freedom no end. He currently spent most of his time in a two-bed flat above Diagon Alley, where he was comparatively free from his father's watchful eye and able to invite ladies back to spend the night whenever he pleased, which was often. He also enjoyed playing host to a large bunch of, as his father said, shady characters that would fill the rooms with raucous laughter and the stench of smoke and alcohol. He was not keen on the idea of sharing his bachelor pad with somebody on a permanent basis, especially somebody who was likely to spread out in lace doilies and elegantly shaped scent bottles. Especially somebody who, nine months or so down the line, was expected to squeeze out a squalling brat.

A Black, too, would be awkward. His history with Bella was one thing, and something he wished to distance himself from as much as possible, but he was also very much involved in dealings which he was pretty sure they would not entirely approve of. He was aware that the Blacks were passively supportive of the anti-muggle movement led by the Dark Lord, but that they were not keen to be personally involved in the campaign. He doubted very much whether his new wife would be pleased with his ambition to enter the leading circle of the ranks, and he did not want at all to have to creep around like a criminal in his own house. When this Narcissa came, she had better be of the agreeable, diminutive sort. And she had better have a decent rack on her, too, if he were to be forced into fidelity.

A/N: Hello and welcome to this fic! I wrote it a long while ago, but I don't want to delete it as a lot of people still read it and I hope enjoy it, but just a warning that later on I make reference to a lot of links on my profile which no longer exist, and the potential for a sequel, which no longer exists. Just as long as you know this, there's no reason not to carry on reading if you like it so far, and reviews and comments are still appreciated, since I spent a lot of time and effort writing this, and I still think some of it is pretty cool, even if other bits make me criiiinge, as most things do a few years down the line. Anyway, that's pretty much it. Happy reading :D