Chapter 9 : Last Minute
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It was the end of Lucy’s sixth year, and Narcissa’s wedding was in two weeks.
Apparently, as she had learned, it was perfectly normal in respectable Slytherin families to get married only a week after graduation, as Narcissa was doing. There was a proper order to things. A pureblood boy would propose to his pureblood bride sometime before the end of her sixth year, never wanting to be the last one out of the gate for fear of embarrassing the poor girl in front of her friends. After all, Rodolphus Lestrange famously waited to pop the question to Narcissa’s elder sister, Bellatrix, at their Charms final, and she would have had his head had her mother not spent long hours reminding her what a good match the Lestrange boy would make for her. After a glamorous engagement gala, the bride and her family would have her entire seventh year to make preparations for the day of her nuptials, and the groom’s family would pay for it all. Underneath all of the glitz and finery, it really was just a very elaborate business transaction.
Nevertheless, Narcissa was just as excited as any other bride would be so close to her big day.
“My dress is just grand.” She sighed, taking a sip of pumpkin juice. “It’s got a high lace collar, and the train goes on for miles. My mother even embroidered our initials in gold at the end of the train. Isn’t that adorable?”
Lucy smiled, watching the girl obsess over her wedding day attire animatedly from her place across the table. “Yes, it sounds lovely.”
“And your dress is nice as well.” Narcissa added. As a member of the groom’s immediate family, Lucy was guaranteed a place as a bridesmaid, though her family had said nothing about it. She wasn’t altogether thrilled about the prospect herself, really. Lucius’s friends were quite unattractive and rude, in her opinion, and being a bridesmaid meant spending copious amounts of time with Bellatrix, who loved nothing more than to be the most crude, unladylike female at any given social event. She hoped Severus would at least consider his invitation.
“It’s all going to be just perfect.” Narcissa continued. “People will be talking about it all year, I just know it.” She looked at Lucy. “Pretty soon it will be your turn, you know.”
Lucy nearly spat out her pumpkin juice. “Excuse me?”
“You’re almost to the end of sixth year. Severus’ll need to get a move on.”
“We’ve only been together for a year and a half. There’s no pressure for that.”
“Oh, why not? It’s just the natural thing to do.” Narcissa said airily, as if she had no patience for this sort of thing. “You two make perfect sense together. Much better than Sirius.”
Lucy bit her lip. “I don’t even know if he wants to marry me.” She said softly.
“Please, like he could get better than you.”
Lucy looked up. “That was a little mean, don’t you think?”
“What?” Narcissa picked at a nail and sighed. “He’s a bit weird, there’s no denying that. He’s perfectly nice, of course. But you’re not exactly fighting off the competition, are you?” She smiled, squeezing Lucy’s hand softly. “Trust me, he’s very lucky to have someone as pretty as you.”
Lucy blushed softly. Narcissa was one of the most beautiful girls she’d ever seen. That was certainly a compliment.
It was strange, spending so much time with Narcissa. Lucy had just sort of fallen in with her after so much time without another girl to hang around. As the wedding approached, Narcissa had shed most of her demure shyness for a more confident exterior. She was truly preparing herself to be Lucius Malfoy’s wife. Lucy didn’t know if she liked the change.
“Anyway, I’ve got to go make sure my other bridesmaids are up to speed on the wedding schedule.” She smiled, standing up. “Good chatting with you.”
As she left, Lucy finished the last of her lunch and checked the large clock on the wall above the entryway. She still had half an hour before class, and she figured now was as good a time as any to finish the History of Magic essay due for the final exam. Sighing, she downed another gulp of pumpkin juice and picked up her bag, aiming to go to the library.
“Lucy, wait.” A voice said quietly behind her, coming from the Gryffindor table.
She turned. Lily and Remus were sitting there alone, watching her. Peter was gathering up his things, and a glance to her left revealed that Sirius and James were anxiously waiting for him to catch up before they could go back to the common room. Sirius was avoiding Lucy’s eyes.
Lily and Remus both got up and came over to stand next to her. “Can we talk?” Lily asked.
Lucy blinked. “Um, sure.” She replied, unsure of what to expect. They hadn’t spoken in months.
“How are you?” Remus asked tentatively.
“Fine.” Lucy said shortly, looking up at them. Concern was etched deeply into their expressions, whether or not they were attempting to hide it.
“Lucy, I just want you to know what you’re getting yourself into.” Lily said quietly, sitting down next to her old friend. “The things he’s involved in… his friends… it’s all bad news.”
Lucy frowned. “How would you know? You haven’t spoken to him in weeks.”
“We’re just worried about you.” Lily insisted. She looked as if she was in pain. “I—If I had never set you up with him for potions lessons… none of this would have happened.”
“What are you getting at?” Lucy asked, but she knew as soon as the words left her lips. The funny thing about Lily was that she was so perfectly good-hearted that she really felt it when she thought she’d done someone wrong. Lily clearly thought that she had led Lucy into a trap by encouraging her to develop any sort of relationship with Severus. It was almost as if she felt guilty for avoiding that trap herself and then allowing her friend to take her place.
“I’m fine.” Lucy repeated firmly. Severus loved her. He would never hurt her.
Remus looked at Lily, who was still staring hopelessly at her old friend. But the two girls weren’t really looking at each other. They were both gazing into something that wasn’t there.
After a moment, Remus placed his hand gently on Lily’s shoulder. She blinked and stood up, tearing her eyes away from Lucy. Together, they turned and walked away.
“I told you it wouldn’t do any good to talk to her.” Lily said sadly, glancing up at Remus as they turned the corner.
“Well, it was good of you to try.” Remus said. “She just deserves fair warning, that’s all.”
Lily paused, looking at him. “She’s not stupid. She won’t let him drag her into it.”
“She might really not have a choice.” Remus said with a sigh.
Lily looked at him expectantly.
“I—I don’t know how to say this.” Remus looked sadly at her. “He—The other day, I saw him playing with something in his pocket, like he was checking to make sure it was still there. He’s been doing it for a week.” Up ahead, he saw Sirius and James waiting for them outside of Transfiguration. Remus lowered his voice and looked into Lily’s beautiful green eyes.
“The thing in his pocket—I think it’s a ring.”
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