"Mistress Narcissa, Mr. Malfoy is here. He wishes to see you."
Narcissa, who had been sitting on her bed reading, looked to the house-elf, and jumped up immediately. "Tell him I'll be right down!"
The house-elf scurried away, and Narcissa turned to Bellatrix eagerly. "How do I look?"
Bellatrix examined her sister, not sure whether to smile indulgently or snap at her. "You look like Narcissa."
"Is that a good thing?"
Smiling indulgently won out, and Bellatrix grinned as she stood up and pushed her little sister towards the door.
"Stop worrying about what you look like," she said. "If Lucius is anything resembling decent, he won't care."
"That means I look awful, doesn't it?"
"You look perfect, Cissy. Now go on! Don't keep him waiting!"
Narcissa giggled, then picked up her skirts and ran down the stairs, stopping at the bottom to wave to her sister before pulling the door open.
Lucius was standing there, with Rodolphus Lestrange at his side. Narcissa looked at Rodolphus wondering what he was doing there, and he cleared his throat, looking away from Narcissa rather awkwardly.
"I was hoping to see Bellatrix," he said. "Do you think she would object?"
"She's in our bedroom," Narcissa told him, waving in the direction of the stairs. "I'm sure she wouldn't mind at all."
"Thank you," said Rodolphus, walking quickly past Narcissa and up towards the girls' bedroom.
"Lucius," Narcissa said, now turning her attention to her suitor, who was looking as handsome as ever. He sketched a bow, then took Narcissa's hand and kissed it.
"Narcissa," Lucius said. "It's lovely to see you."
"Likewise," Narcissa said, lowering her head and looking up at Lucius through her lashes.
"Might we take a walk?" he asked, offering his arm. Narcissa laid her fingers lightly on it, nodded to the house-elf who was hovering questioningly by the door, and stepped out into the evening.
Lucius led Narcissa through the gardens, and indicated a bench, which Narcissa sat down on. He waved his wand, producing a bunch of deep pink roses.
"For you, Narcissa," he said, giving them to her.
"Why, thank you, Lucius," Narcissa said. She took the roses and inhaled their scent deeply. "What's the occasion?"
"Do I need an occasion?"
Narcissa said nothing, only smelled her roses and occasionally looking sideways at Lucius. He sat quietly, watching her, and seeming to be working up the nerve to speak. Bellatrix would have pressed him to tell her what was on her mind, but Narcissa waited patiently for him.
After several very long minutes, Lucius took Narcissa's left hand and stroked it gently.
"You are a lovely woman, Narcissa."
"Thank you," said Narcissa, a little breathily.
"And there's a lot to what I'm going to ask you, but… Narcissa Black…" Lucius produced a ring from his breast pocket. "Would you marry me?"
"I would, Lucius," she smiled, and Lucius slipped the ring onto her finger.
When Narcissa scurried out of their bedroom and down the stairs, and Bellatrix felt a pang.
Andromeda was long-married, albeit to a Mudblood. Lucius Malfoy was no doubt going to ask for Narcissa's hand any day now. For all Bellatrix knew, that was what he had turned up to do. And she, Bellatrix, the eldest, the prettiest, the most desired, was still unmarried and virtually unromanced.
Bellatrix pushed the French doors that led out onto a tiny balcony open, and stepped out, breathing in the night air. She stared out, aimlessly across the grounds of Black Manor.
She startled, and whirled around, braced for attack, but relaxed when she saw who it was.
"Oh, Lestrange. It's just you. Did you come in with Lucius?"
"Your sister said it was all right for me to come up here. I didn't mean to frighten you…" he said awkwardly. Bellatrix sighed. Rodolphus Lestrange had said all of twenty words, and already he had managed to annoy her.
"Nothing frightens me, Lestrange. You startled me, that's all."
"Well, I didn't mean to startle you…"
"Did you have something to say, Lestrange?"
"Well, yes, actually… I had something to ask you…"
"Spit it out then, Lestrange. I don't have all night."
"Well… Bellatrix, we've known each other for a long time…"
"I know that, Lestrange."
"And you're a… a very attractive woman…"
"I know that too, Lestrange. Now hurry up and make your point."
Rodolphus blew out and scowled at Bellatrix. "You're impossible, you know, Black."
"So I've been told."
The two of them stared at each other for a long time, Bellatrix with a smirk, and Rodolphus with an expression of exasperation. Then Rodolphus grabbed Bellatrix's hand and shoved a diamond ring onto her finger.
"Marry me, Black," he ordered her.
"Gladly, Lestrange," Bellatrix said, and kissed him hard.
Narcissa hurried into their bedroom, flushed with excitement. Lucius proposed! Lucius finally proposed!
"Bella!" she squealed.
Bellatrix was sitting on her unmade bed, smiling widely.
"Bella, you'll never guess what just happened!"
"Don't tell me," Bellatrix grinned wickedly. "Lucius told you that he was going to be leaving for America tomorrow and you two will have to communicate by owl until he gets back."
"Of course not, Bella!"
"Then Lucius took you out into the gardens and pushed you up against the wall and lifted your skirt and–"
"Bella! You're terrible!"
"Then," Bellatrix said, standing up and approaching her sister, "he must have proposed to you. Am I right?"
Narcissa seemed momentarily incapable of speaking, then stuck her left hand out so that Bellatrix could see the ring on it.
"Congratulations, Cissy," Bellatrix said, and hugged her little sister tightly.
They stood that way for some time, two sisters, locked in a warm embrace.
"Narcissa?" Bellatrix murmured after a while.
"Did you tell Rodolphus to come up to see me?"
"Yes," Narcissa said, pulling back. "I didn't think you'd mind. You didn't mind, did you?"
"Oh, I don't mind at all," Bellatrix grinned. "In fact, I have my own little piece of news."
Narcissa looked, first with amazement, then with increasing excitement, at the ring on Bellatrix's own hand.
"He didn't!" she squealed. "Rodolphus proposed to you?"
"You could say that."
Narcissa stood on her tiptoes, and wrapped her arms around her big sister's neck so tightly that Bellatrix choked.
"It's perfect, Bellatrix!" Narcissa said, her voice now slightly tearful. "We can be married together!"
"Yes, we can," said Bellatrix.
"You and Rodolphus and me and Lucius," Narcissa continued, dreamily. "The four of us could have a double wedding…"
"Like the perfect ladies and gentlemen that we are," Bellatrix finished.