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The Only Exception by TheHeirOfSlytherin
Chapter 4 : Wedding
 
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We marry almost a year after Lucius proposed to me, two months after my twentieth birthday.

Elizabeth was very good at helping with the planning, though I made sure she did not go too overboard (yes to a band, but no to big pink thrills). Lucius gave his input on some things, but assured me that he trusted us. The only thing that was only ours to do was the guest list; we knew who could come and who could not, no matter what we - I - wanted. It wasn't too big; friends, family, the social elite. Frankly, as long as I had Elizabeth, Regulus, Sirius and Uncle Orion and Lucius had Leo, I did not care about the others.

We decided on a spring wedding; Elizabeth liked the 'new life' metaphor and said it fit the wedding, with the white and silver colors and the idea that this was our new life (her hopeless romantic side went into overdrive). I agreed, not admitting that I hoped people were more unlikely to attend than if we had chosen a day in summer.

The morning of the wedding is a blur of activity, getting things organized and preparing ourselves for the afternoon; I remember being woken up by Elizabeth, telling me we were late, and then sighing because my friend and I have different definitions of 'late' - waking me up at six am, an hour and a half before my own alarm, when the wedding is at one in the afternoon is not late, it is unnaturally early and I did not appreciate it. After that, things move almost too fast; I barely remember having my make up put on or my hair styled. By the time I'm in my dress, I don't think I can breathe.

Elizabeth zips up the back and, seeing the look on my face, she promises to give me a minute alone. I stare at myself in the long mirror, able to see everything clearly, and take deep gulps of air to calm my nerves and control my breathing. It takes a couple of minutes for my heart rate to slow and for my chest to not rise and fall so obviously.

I understand why I am so nervous, even though I do not like the feeling itself; I want this, more than anything I want to marry Lucius, and I accept everything that will come with being Lady Malfoy, but a girl can still have doubts nagging in the back of her mind. I don't pretend to ignore politics or the unspoken rules of Pureblood society - I know that Lucius is well known and dangerous, I know that people respect and fear him, and I know that his reputation is far from secret. People give me looks, expecting him to cheat on me. They cannot imagine him settling down. A month ago, someone even asked how I was giving him the love potion.

Lucius loves me, he told me so, he feels right about this because he's sure, because there is no arrangement. And I believe him; if I did not, I would not be here. I just need to lose the doubts, I need to not think of what people say and think; I should be used to it, everyone talks about everyone.

I need to not wonder why Lucius Malfoy chose me.

I know he has motives for everything, but there can be good ones, can't there?

My hands shaking a little, I run them down my dress, smoothing out any creases. It's beautiful, if I do say so myself; long and white, only showing my arms and a small part of my chest, along with my shoulders - I chose slim straps that fall down my shoulders naturally because it annoyed both my mother and his. I can't even hide the bare skin because my hair is pinned up, with only a tendril of hair on each side to frame my face.

I am every bit the Pureblood bride, with the added extra of 'Cissa' that is only for Lucius.

The knock on the door signals Elizabeth's want to return to the room and after another deep breath, I call for her to enter. She opens the door, closes it softly behind her and takes a hesitant step forward.

"Are you okay?"

I nod once and turn to face my friend properly; she looks lovely in the soft silk bridesmaid's gown she helped to pick out. It's a pale blue that almost matches her eyes and makes me think summer. She's the only genuine light in my dark world.

"I'm fine, it was just a few last minute worries," I promise.

"Lucius can be unkind, judgmental and vindictive, among other things, but he loves you. I believe it because I see it in the things he does for you," Elizabeth tells me kindly, knowing my fears exactly. "For that, I let him live."

"How sweet of you," I say with a smile for my Slytherin friend. The smile wavers slightly when I decide to ask her about my fears, but with the knowledge that I will marry Lucius no matter what, I manage to keep it in place. "Why did he pick me? Why are you sure he loves me?"

"Isn't that obvious?" she asks with an amused tone she is barely able to hide. "You are beautiful and smart and an extremely talented witch, not to mention you are just as devious and manipulative as he is. But you also show him that there are other ways of getting what you want and living the life you want, besides the path a fair few have been taking."

I know she means the Death Eaters, but neither of us comment on it any further; it would only ruin my day.

"He would be crazy not to love you. Not that I doubted his intentions," she added. "Just his timing. He's been watching you ever since that party he had when we were kids, the one you left and fell asleep during."

"You never told me that."

Elizabeth gives me a look. "I did. You rolled your eyes, said he would never and walked away, pretending I hadn't said a word."

Now that she has told me, that day flashes in my mind vividly and I feel a little silly now, but I refuse to admit to it. Instead I go back to the mirror and fix my dress again. "I don't remember."

She laughs. "Sure. Are you ready? It's almost time."

Feeling just a little more confident, I nod. "I'm ready."

***

Lucius looks amazing in his robes, made of the finest material by the best Wizarding tailor in Paris, but that is not what causes me breath to catch in my throat; I keep my eyes trained on him from the moment I enter the room and start the long walk down the isle, so I know exactly when he changes. At first, he's cool and calm, his back stiff and his eyes on the minister, lest people see his nerves, and then he turns when everyone else does and he no longer has to hide nerves, but it is as though it is just the two of us in the room. He does not have to be someone else because I know him inside and out; he can let go of that mask and smile, if only a little.

I can hardly call it a rare sight, we have been together for over three years and he is not a robot (despite rumors), but it still has my heart beating a little faster and brings a smile of my own to my face.

He holds out a hand as I reach him, which I happily take and allow myself to be pulled a little closer. Lucius' eyes travel then, glancing at my wedding dress. "And my mother let you live," he murmurs.

"We had words," I whisper back. "The dress had sleeves until she opened her mouth."

Only the minister raising his voice and starting stops him from chuckling.

We go through the motions, but I'm hardly listening; the only thing running through my mind is that we are actually getting married, I am were Jane, and many others, have wished, threatened and hurt each other just to try and get a fraction closer to. It is a surreal feeling and I both don't want it to end and want it to finish now; I want to remember this day, but I also want to start our life as husband and wife.

We say traditional vows; Elizabeth mentioned the idea of saying our own, but the thought freaked Lucius out a little... or a lot - admitting his feelings to me is one thing, admitting them in front of a crowd is something else entirely. I wouldn't put him through that, even though I did wonder what he might say.

(I got him to promise to tell me tonight, whether he remembers that is a different matter.)

The wedding ring is cold against my skin and has me bending my finger a few times in hope of warming up. It is quickly forgotten when Lucius kisses me, instead all I feel is the weight of it and I know that I am happy it is there.

"I have a surprise for you," he whispers in my ear before stepping back.

I don't have a chance to ask about it because we have to move, and when people stop to congratulate us every few minutes, I realize that the only reason he had told me when he did is because he must have guessed that he would not have a chance at the reception, at least not yet. I wish people would leave us; they congratulate us because it's customary, and because they hope there is gossip to be found by being near us, and I have no desire to indulge these people. They would only ruin my day.

The first half of the reception is most of the same; people come over, congratulate us on our marriage, talk for a while, and then they leave once they realize I won't say much past "Thank you, I look forward to this new step in our lives."

It is not so bad; the only time I have to really fake a smile is when a horrible pig of a man, a son of a family who worked with the Abraxas more than once, unconvincingly whispers into Lucius' ear that marriage doesn't stop him from enjoying the 'simple pleasures owed to a man'.

"I should hex him for that vulgar comment," I mutter once he's gone, watching him go back to the woman I saw him with an hour ago. "I pity his wife."

"Don't let him ruin our day, Cissa," Lucius says softly, in a way that tells me I've missed something.

I turn to face him just in time to see him tuck his wand back into his robes. Then I hear a loud clanging; the horrible man has dropped his plate of food and his goblet of wine, his entire body puffed up to make him look twice his original size and his skin is red and blotchy. He looks as though he's had an allergic reaction, but I know better.

"He won't be enjoying anything for a while," Lucius whispers.

Oh, my wonderfully vindictive husband; I've never felt so lucky. Holding out my hand, I smile up at him, ignore the man's moans and the wife's cries for help. "Dance with me, Mr. Malfoy."

"Certainly, Mrs. Malfoy."

Lucius leads me to the middle of the ballroom and I'm bombarded with flashes of us dancing in this very room that Christmas Eve, when he had kissed my hand and I had toyed with the idea of us having something for the first time. It feels like so long ago, and yet I can remember it as though it was yesterday.

I clasp his shoulder a little tighter.

"So, about this surprise," I start quietly, for only him to hear.

Lucius shakes his head, his eyes in the clock behind me for a fraction of a second. "Not time yet."

I huff, but agree to wait; it doesn't bring down my mood.

It's two dances and a toast later when Lucius deems my surprise 'ready' for me. He waits until the guests are back to socializing, dancing and eating, then takes my hand and quietly asks where my sister is. I spot Bellatrix after a moment, deep in conversation with her husband and my aunt, about what I neither know nor care. Lucius keeps a sharp eye on her as we walk, to track her movements if I had to guess, though I can't say why. He usually tries to avoid her.

Next he asks about my cousins, Sirius in the corner and Regulus; the former is sat alone, pretending not to sulk (he has never really been the same around us since Andromeda left, more sullen and angry - she was his favorite, not me because he would have to see Bellatrix as well), while Regulus is with his father. It only takes me a moment to remember why Sirius is not with them - they stopped being so close after Sirius was sorted into Gryffindor, not when he had new friends, and then Regulus joined Slytherin, their rival house. Things were never the same and they are too stubborn to do anything about it; so, now they fight and pretend to hate each other, and Uncle Orion has given up trying to get involved.

I wave them over as discreetly as possible, as per Lucius' request, and it is with great reluctance that they come together. Uncle Orion pretends to be unaware.

"What?" Sirius asks, his tone just shy of a demand when he notches my frown. He may be fifteen now, but he can still be treated like a little boy if he insists on acting like one.

"Just be quiet and come with me," Lucius tell them.

My husband - that is still strange - leads us out of the ballroom and down the corridors, stopping only when we reach the front doors. He takes a breath, barely hides the reluctance and worry in his eyes - what has he done to warrant such behavior? What does he not want my sister to know?

He opens the door...

...And there is Andromeda, waiting for us at the step.

She stands quickly, on her feet just as Sirius throws himself at her and engulfs her in a hug. I know he sneaks off to see her sometimes, telling people he is visiting friends, but it must have been a while since that last visit.

Not including passes and brief nods in the street, Regulus and I have no seen her since she left. My younger cousin looks at her, trying to remain disdainful; like the rest of my family, he acts as though she committed a terrible, punishable crime; like me, he feels as though she did what she wanted based on what she thought was right. It leaves him terribly confused. But he eventually moves and gives her a quick, albeit a little stiff, hug.

I turn to Lucius. "Why did you do this?"

"Because you miss her," he says simply. "I will make sure Bellatrix never knows, for that alone I'll make you pay."

"Was he talking to you or me then?" Andromeda asks hesitantly, once he has shut the door.

"Are you willing to sleep with him?" I ask her instead. She shakes her head, looking horrified and a little repulsed. Admittedly, so do the boys. "Then he is talking to me."

We lapse into an awkward silence and I find that makes me more than a little sad; we used to be able to talk about anything, any silence was comforting. It seems this time apart has damaged that.

"Congratulations," Andromeda says at last, her hands twitching by her sides as she tries to force herself not to fidget. "Sometimes I know what you see in him. Most of the time I don't." She is referring to her being here. "I didn't expect him to approach me."

"He came to see you?" Sirius asks, shocked. I feel the same.

"Approach is probably the wrong word," Andromeda replies with a slight shake of her head. "He sent me an invite, along with a letter to tell me what to do and why he was doing it. He's only spoken to me once. This afternoon. I was at the back during the ceremony, he saw me before it started. He came and told me I was doing the right thing for you."

"It's as close to a thank you as you're ever going to get," I tell her.

"I miss you, Cissa," she whispers, not quite looking me in the eye as she admits to what can be seen as a weakness in my family. Some things never change, I guess.

It's then that I hug her. It's almost as brief as Regulus', but more warm. We'll never know how long I could have held my sister for; it's Sirius' voice that breaks it.

"You brought her," he says happily, crouching low to peer into something I had not noticed until now. It's dark and out of the way of the door, blending in well with the night.

"I thought you might want to meet your niece," Andromeda answers my questioning look.

Niece. I'd heard from Sirius, but since our meetings are brief, so were his talks of the little girl my sister had given birth to... two years ago?

I move to stand by Sirius, Regulus a little further behind us, and Andromeda stands behind the basket to look at me. "Her name is Nymphadora."

I scoff. "You named her then."

"Ted wanted to call her Laura or Lola or something ridiculous like that," she says, a little nervously. After not seeing each other in so long, it's a little harder for both of us to feel normal again.

"And by ridiculous, you mean normal, so you ignored it," Regulus added sarcastically.

Andromeda refuses to give an answer to that, merely shrugs her shoulders. We're not surprised by the name; we all have names that can be considered odd, unless you shorten them (like Andi and Bella), and while Nymphadora may not join us with constellations, Andromeda is the reason I love reading stories and history about fairies and nymphs. She read them to us as children.

I have to fix my dress, lift it up to my knees to kneel down and see the baby. Her hair is blond, the front has ringlets framing her face while the back is tied back into pigtails. A moment later, her hair turns pink.

"Metamorph," I whisper in surprise.

"Freaked Ted out when he saw her change for the first time," she laughs. "There's a picture in our house, of you and me; she asks about you sometimes, Cissa. And you, Regulus."

"What do you say?"

Andromeda shrugs, the smile she had previously dropping. "I tell her that you love her, but can't see her yet. It's probably a lie," she says, glancing at Regulus as she does so, "but it makes her smile."

"She's beautiful," I tell her softly, standing back up, regretfully adding, "We should get back inside before Bellatrix comes looking. We wouldn't want her seeing you or the baby."

Understanding, she nods, shares another hug with Sirius and says good bye. I let the boys go in first.

"Andi," I call just before she turns her back. "I miss you, too."

I don't know when I'll see them again.



A/N: Sirius runs away a year later. I refuse to believe anything will happen to Regulus. Lucius calls her Cissa because Bellatrix calls her Cissy and he doesn't like her. In case you wonder these things. I wonder these things. The next chapter is Draco.

I hope you enjoy this chapter. Please let me know what you think. :)

Sam.


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