Thirteen Years Later...

Thoros is sure, positively so, that he has never attended a more ostentatious and ridiculous party; which is certainly saying something, having grown into an adult with a golden spoon in his mouth. Even he allows his brow to raise, ever so slightly, at what he knows the wedding's costs must have reached – millions of galleons have been spent on this wedding and the reception party that follows.

The day that Narcissa Black took on the literal mantle of the Malfoy name would forever stand in his memory, even into his old age. The white velvet bridal cloak was lined with pure black crown sable fur in what he supposes must amount to an extremely broad allusion to the marriage of the Malfoy and Black families.

The bride and groom wore matching outfits: each attired in pure white from head to toe, the matching velvet stitched with silken white thread in dozens of peacock feathers. Laced amongst the stitching are hundreds of tiny crystals, creating a glittering effect across their outfits.

Narcissa's smile is already beginning to tighten at the corners, while Lucius flounces along at her side, smugly proud in his finery.

The only difference, besides the cut of the clothing, is their hair – Lucius' in a neat queue tied off with a strip of white leather, while Narcissa's elegant chignon is pinned with a glittering diamond hair pin… in the shape of peacock feathers.

Abraxas stands beside his wife along one expanse of the wall, a superciliously bored expression on his face as he gazes out across the crowd throughout his ballroom while studiously ignoring the hissed argument between the bride's mother and the groom's mother by way of his glass of firewhisky.

Thoros edges past the group of his peers, smirking at the two women's bickering.

Aurora Malfoy is in the middle of huffing, "What can you even mean, Druella? They're perfectly acceptable replacement for doves! Doves are overdone, beyond cliché! Besides, they're still white birds."

Druella Black lets out a soft sound that from any other woman may be a snort. "They're peacocks, Aurora! They each weigh about three stone!"

"Oh, don't be so ridiculous. They barely even weigh one stone!" Aurora rolls her eyes as she turns her head from the other woman.

Thoros chuckles as he passes out of hearing range of the low argument, moving into the next open room. The ostentation – and oh, yes, the irony was extra delicious to Thoros – of peacocks are now loose on the grounds, after being carefully herded through the beginning of the reception along with the announcement of the gift of the family of peacocks and peahens from the Malfoy groom to his new wife.

The rather sad peacock ice sculpture is something that rather resembles the male anatomy more than the fowl, despite all of the cooling charms that surely are meant to keep it from melting completely.

He edges his way around the giant table in the middle of the room, groaning under the weight of all of the gifts piled onto it. He narrows his eyes, glancing over the pile of pure white and silver packages… before pausing on one in a particularly strong gold. The large, ornate "P" on the tag hanging from the gilded box practically screams from whom the gift was received.

With a grunt, Thoros turns away and pushes through the door into the next room. He lets out a heavy sigh at the sight of the bar before swiftly moving over to it. Within moments, he has a large tumbler of rather good bourbon in his hand from which he sips steadily. He continues to move restlessly, passing through decorated room after room while nursing his drink.

Eventually, he finds himself in an almost completely empty atrium. A small pond in the middle of the room glitters with small white lights, and even here white peacock feathers are tucked strategically into the charmed snow-covered bushes.

A woman sits on a bench beside the pond, gazing down into it. Thoros wanders over aimlessly, keeping a neat distance between himself and the other person as he leans over to peer into the pond. He watches the large white fish swimming through the glowing lights for a moment before he glances over to the woman. He blinks in surprise, his mouth opening slightly and for the first time in at least thirty years, the words just tumble from his mouth. "I wonder if the fish were charmed to match the peacocks."

A snort of laughter escapes the woman before she presses a hand against her mouth and turning soft cornflower blue eyes up to his. "That was remarkably on the nose, you know."

"I'm afraid this bourbon was quite a bit larger than it appeared. I'm beginning to suspect the elves." Thoros turns to set the almost empty glass on an empty plinth before turning back to the woman with a short clearing of his throat. "Thoros Nott. It's nice to meet you, Miss…"

"Flint." The corner of her mouth quirks up as she watches him closely. "Calla Flint." The fine brown wave of her hair tumbles down her shoulders and back, covering the back of her dove grey silk and lace gown. "And yes, I know for a fact that they have been. Charmed, that is. Normally they're all different colors; they're magical, you know. Bred for thousands of years in Japan by specially trained wizard monks."

Thoros' brow furrows as he stares down at the girl in shock and a mild sort of horror. She was sweet and intelligent, pureblood and beautiful… and definitely not much more than nineteen. "How do you know all of that?"

"Oh, my mother is some sort of cousin of Abraxas'; I believe their mothers are friends or something along those lines. I've come to stay summers occasionally, though not in years." She smiles, a sharp and brilliant kind of smile, her lower lip puckering out just slightly. "Won't you come and sit with me, Mr Nott? I can tell you all about Lucius' haircare regime. I'd be willing to be that he hasn't changed it in the past decade or so."

"While I must insist that we skip that particular conversation, I would love to sit with you." He steps over to settle on the bench and turns to look at her. He's taken aback by the full force behind her sweet eyes. Only one clear thought crossed his mind at that moment.

Well, I'm buggered.

A/N: And that's all, folks! Thank you so much to all of you who read and especially to those of you reviewed! *hearts*