Tom settled back. If a soul fragment could be said to stretch out his legs and throw his arms over the backs of chairs, that was what he did. It was hard not to smile. Ginevra was peering at herself in the mirror and touching at her hair as if her nascent skills could somehow improve what Narcissa Malfoy's hairdresser had done. Fiery curls sat piled on her head with artful tendrils hanging down as if by accident. Tom snorted to himself at the idea of 'accident'. Those tendrils had taken the woman over 30 minutes to select and charm into place. The flowers tucked into the curls stood out a stark white against the red hair, and acted like a frame for the veil that fluttered down their back.
Ginevra made a beautiful bride.
He supposed that meant he was a beautiful bride, which was beyond funny. Well, he'd turned heads in his own body. Having a shell that was less than ideal would have grated on him so he was glad he'd fallen into the hands of a woman as lovely as he had. People liked to natter on about how beauty was only skin deep, but those people were always plain. He knew how many paths physical beauty could smooth. Draco Malfoy wouldn't have proposed to an ugly girl, slayer of Voldemort or not, and this road to respectability and power would come easier to a Malfoy.
Apparently, his other self had worked retail. The mind boggled. Well, he'd made mistakes, that was certainly true, but at least he'd left a failsafe in case anything went wrong. Tom would be more careful this time. Horcruxes had clearly been a mistake but the Hallows. The Hallows he could work with, and Ginny wouldn't object.
What wouldn't I object to? she asked.
He thought several lurid things involving Draco at her and they turned bright red in the mirror but she also bit at the inside of their cheek and permitted herself a small, nervous smile. I suppose I wouldn't, she said.
Her attraction to Draco Malfoy was another unexpected bonus. Not that he'd loved Abraxas. The idea was ludicrous. But he'd certainly appreciate the man's thin, pale visage and, if seeing it mirrored in his grandson had taken a little getting used to, well, he planned to get very used to it over the next few decades. Longer if he could get all the Hallows.
When. When he got all the Hallows.
They had one, after all, and rumors from Hogwarts suggested he knew who had at least one more. Did you ever return Potter's owl? he asked.
Now? Ginny sounded annoyed at him. It's our wedding day and you want to talk about Harry Potter?
Poor boy's been a bit adrift since you stole his thunder, Tom said. Doesn't mean he's not the other savior of the wizarding world. Doesn't mean we shouldn't cultivate him. And your brother's his best friend.
She rolled her eyes at that and he had to agree. How a gem like his Ginevra had come from that family he had no idea. Percy was fine – boring and pompous, but fine – but the rest were Gryffindor to the core. He should find them all a windmill to tilt at and see if they took each other out in the process.
You always have an angle, Ginny said. She picked up her bouquet, squinted one last time at her makeup, and turned to make her way down to the bridal waiting room. But we can dance with him at the reception and you can whisper whatever sweet nothings you want into his ear.
Narcissa had conceded that the bride's mother should be the one to do last minute fussing, and the bride's father should do the traditional walking down the aisle. Tom knew she was right – he doubted Narcissa Malfoy had even been wrong about a social nuance – but that didn't mean he enjoyed Molly Weasley slobbering all over him and reminiscing about her own wedding. Self-involved harpy. And the father. He was the definition of 'hen-pecked.' Tom could feel Ginny cringing away from her mother as the women tucked a 'lucky knut' not in her shoe but in her cleavage.
Could a woman get any more crass?
Maybe he could have Draco pick it out with his teeth later.
Ginny took her father's arm. "Nervous?" he asked with hearty cheer that had probably already seen at least one bolstering pint. The sort of swells filling the hall made him nervous. Tom would have had sympathy, but he'd grown up in a bloody orphanage and he'd learned to hold his own with the likes of the Malfoys by the time he was fourteen. Ginny's sad sack of a father was old. He had no excuse.
"No," Ginny said. Her eyes were on the doors that would lead out to the hall where the Ministry official waited to say the words that would make her a Malfoy. "Why would I be?"
Her father stammered a bit before coming out with, "Bit of a change is all, Gin, from our family to this."
Ginny turned her head slowly to look at him, and Tom let himself show just a little bit behind her eyes. "You haven't wanted me in our family since I was Sorted into Slytherin," she said. His mouth gaped open, the fleshy lower lip pushed out as if waiting for a fishhook, and Ginny returned her focus to the doors and their future.
The wedding planner popped her head in. "Whenever you're ready, Miss Weasley," she said.
"No reason to wait," Ginny said.
The flower-girls had been pulled from a dozen families who'd lost people to Voldemort. Partially orphaned girls clutched baskets of rose petals and tripped their way down the aisle in dresses Narcissa had paid for. The collected wizards and witches ooo-ed and aww-ed at how adorable they were, and made wholly different sounds of appreciation for the bridesmaids.
Luna has refused to remove the radish earrings and even a highly paid hairdresser hadn't been able to talk her into anything other than loose hair. She would be unapologetically herself even at this event. Based on the inhalations, Tom suspected it had worked. People assumed she was flighty and unaware, but she knew she was a beautiful woman. She even enjoyed other people's appreciation of that. She just didn't need their approval, and most people had no idea what to do with that. He thought it would make her a brilliant lieutenant.
Pansy had hauled a tiara out of her family vault and walked on heels so high Tom knew she'd used balancing and stabilizing charms to keep herself upright. He almost pitied whatever man fell for her because she liked using every part of herself as a weapon. From her mind to her feet, she'd honed it all to edges that wanted to test themselves against anything foolish enough to resist her.
Though Pansy's edges were nothing like the ones he'd created with Ginevra. As she stepped into the room, bouquet in her hand, everyone rose and turned, eyes looking for an explanation or a weakness. How had she killed Voldemort? How had the poor blood traitor enchanted the son of so much wealth? Was she a tool? Could she be turned to support this scheme or that scheme?
Tom wanted to laugh. Anyone who thought he'd use them was going to get an unpleasant surprise.
They passed Severus Snape, sitting with Regulus Black, Evan Rosier and their daughter. The girl had a squint, poor thing, but there was a vicious set to her mouth Tom rather liked. He and Ginny nodded at Severus, who nodded back. He knew. Regulus knew. Not many people, and Tom planned to keep it that way. Those two, however, would be loyal unto death. Ginny had loosened the chains they'd found too restrictive and if those chains kept them bound to him, well, he planned to hold them with far more finesse than his dead self. Keep the minions grateful. Keep them pleased to be serving. Fear only worked for so long before the rabble would rise up and cut you down, but love, oh love. People would do terrible things for love, and count themselves lucky for the chance.
Ginny dragged their attention to Draco, waiting for them at the end of the aisle. His eyes drank in the sight of them in their white dress as though he could never get enough. Rich, handsome, and from a family with fingers in every pie in the Ministry.
Tom and Ginny handed their bouquet off to Pansy, who fussed with the train until it sat the way she wanted, afraid to be imperfect, then slid their hands into Draco's. He squeezed their hands and they smiled up into his grey eyes.
Yes, everything had worked out but was that not to be expected? They were better than everyone else. Of course, things went their way.
. . . . . . . . . .
A/N - Much love to everyone who has read and supported this story along its journey, as well as to people coming along now that it is a done thing. A writer without readers is a lonely person talking to herself, and you make this a party. Thank you.