‘Does Miss want another cup of tea?’ the house-elf asked, looking up at her.
Walburga’s gaze wandered down at the creature. It only wore a tablecloth around its hips, but that was nothing new to her. After all, her parents had three house-elves working for them. ‘Sure,’ she replied courtly. The elf offered her a cup, then hurried off towards the other people in the room.
‘No, thanks, Kreacher,’ Orion Black replied when the tiny creature offered his master something to drink.
Walburga shot the young man a glance; he was lounging on a chair, his legs crossed at the ankles. He looked rather relaxed. Which is exactly not what I imagined this meeting to be
, Walburga thought. Her gaze wandered over to where her parents talked to Orion’s. She noticed her mother trying to signal her to talk to Orion.
Better be done with it quickly or the family will always hold it against me
, she supposed, sighing inwardly. Taking a silent deep breath, she went over to him.
He looked up at her. ‘Want to talk about it?’
‘I guess we don’t have a choice, have we?’ She gestured towards the other members of the Black family. ‘And especially after they put so much effort into arranging this marriage?’
Orion laughed but nodded. ‘True.’ He took out his wand, and with a flick, another chair appeared. ‘Please, take a seat,’ he offered.
Silence crept between both young people; they felt a bit awkward. Finally, after long moments, he spoke, ‘Are you going to consent?’
‘Do I have another choice?’ Walburga asked. Upon him shaking his head, she added, ‘Thought so.’
‘Look,’ Orion said, ‘we’re cousins and have known each other all our lives –’
‘Then you can probably say what my favourite colour is?’
Orion looked at her, his grey eyes tightened in thought. ‘Black,’ he said some moments later.
She didn’t respond at first, but after a while smiled. ‘That’s right.’
‘Your and my parents want us to marry and keep the Black name pure,’ Orion then continued as if she had never interrupted him, but his voice now sounded authoritarian. ‘We’re getting along quite well, so I consider a marriage possible. You’re also amiable and well-educated. But seeing that you are a Black, I needn’t expect anything different.’
‘I agree.’ She smiled tentatively.
‘And a marriage within our family – among cousins to be exact – isn’t unheard of, so…’
Walburga nodded. ‘So we’re now engaged?’
‘We’ll be engaged if you consent to my marriage proposal.’
‘Before I can consent to anything, you’re supposed to propose to me first,’ she shot back.
He sighed. ‘Very well…’ He stood and walked over to her parents. Walburga followed him.
‘Mr Black, I would like to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.’
Pollux Black looked at his cousin Arcturus, Orion’s father, before answering, ‘Agreed. She shall be yours.’
Arcturus smiled while his wife and Walburga’s mother Irma dried their eyes. ‘I announce you engaged then.’