Blaise swept his gaze up and down Millicent's body and smiled at her choice of the grey princess cut silk gown. Her black hair, which he'd asked her to grow long, rested against the nape of her neck in a simple chignon. While she was not beautiful, she was tall and stately looking, and her elegant attire lent her an air of femininity and grace.
"You look magnificent, Mills."
She turned from the mirror. "It isn't necessary to lie to me. That isn't part of the contract."
"Ah," Blaise said, walking towards her to lay his hands on her shoulders, "but I'm not lying. You make a regal-looking bride. Mother will be suitably terrified of you."
Millicent snorted. "Yes, that's the dream of every bride."
Blaise pressed his cheek against hers and caught her gaze in the mirror. "I know this isn't quite what you wanted for yourself, but it's a good bargain. You get a charming, wealthy, undemanding husband, and I get peace of mind, free of Mother's matchmaking machinations."
"You mean," Millicent replied tartly, "that we get to shag whomever the hell we please."
"Once we've produced an heir, of course."
Millicent wrinkled her nose. "Of course."
"Don't worry about that part of it. I've got a useful potion that should make the begetting business more palatable for both of us."
"I know. That is part of the contract."
"Yes." Blaise leered at her.
Rolling her eyes, Millicent said, "Well, I suppose there are worse things."
"Than being my wife?"
"Let's not think of them. Instead," Blaise told her, turning Millicent to face him, "let's dream of our lovely honeymoon, during which we will, I promise, manage to see the Notts—and quite a bit of them, too, in our separate ways."
"Pansy's pregnant again. Did you know?"
"Theo told me. He's very proud—he doesn't have my potion."
Millicent laughed. "I do wish he'd keep his hands off my girl."
"Yes, well, a spare is part of their contract, my bride. Consider yourself truly fortunate."
"I do, actually. Your bargain was more than fair."
"Well then, let's get this farce over with so we can be off a'shagging, shall we?" He offered Millicent his arm.
She took it, saying, "Just be sure to act the part. I want Pans as jealous as possible when I see her alone again—makes her unusually generous, you know."
Blaise led Millicent into the marriage hall laughing, and even though almost no one present understood his reasons for marrying a girl like Bulstrode, they couldn't deny his happiness to be her groom.
The officiant cleared her throat. "Ladies and gentlemen, we gather here today with the purest of intentions . . . ."