The blustery wind wrapped around them as their feet crunched in the hardened snow. He felt the delicate hand in his and managed to contain his smile. He felt the small tug on his hand and knew they were nearly there.
He knew this day was coming, as it had come with his son years earlier. It was never any easier. The ache in his chest was as fresh as the first time he'd felt it. He waited. He kept waiting for the sorrow to ebb, but instead, it lodged so deep within him, he wasn't certain he could function without it any longer.
A golden brown curl twisted around his finger as he smoothed down the unruly curls. He knew he should have insisted on a hat. She was always obstinate and he decided it wasn't worth the argument that would ensue.
He watched her fingers carefully brush the gathering of snow from the top of the stone and refused to cry. He wanted to reprimand her for kneeling in the freezing snow, as he knew she'd catch a chill, but he couldn't. He simply stood there in the heart of winter with his heart in his throat.
"Daddy?" The little girl glanced up at her father with a very serious furrow to her brow.
She glanced between the unforgiving stone and her father, afraid to ask her question, but desperate to know. She traced the letters and watched the snow gather on her fingertip. She knew what it said, but it didn't mean as much to her as it did her brother.
"Did she love me?"
It was easier to ask while she stared at the place where her mother lay. It was easier to avoid the pain in her father's eyes when she was busy concentrating on the woman she'd never truly met. She knew the story, knew it quite well, but it wasn't the same. She didn't remember the kind-hearted mother her brother did. She only had stories and it wasn't the same at all.
"They told her it was dangerous, did I ever tell you that?"
She sighed and shook her head while her father sat beside her in the frigid snow. She didn't understand the way his palm stroked the grey stone and was quickly distracted by the snowflakes floating around the halo of her curls.
"The Healers told her it wasn't a good idea. It was difficult for her to have your brother and it was worse with you. She wouldn't listen to them, of course. She was always ridiculously headstrong. I was furious with her. I probably shouldn't be telling you any of this, you're so young. She laughed at me and made me promise to name you Rose."
"You braked your promise to mummy?" The little girl gasped and damned if his heart didn't clench in his chest.
"You look just like her," he continued. "I finally gave up fighting with her and agreed to grace our daughter with her choice, if she could promise she wouldn't leave me. She rolled her eyes and said I was an idiot, which was just her way of telling me she loved me. She knew. She knew she was going to leave me the moment you screamed your way into the world."
"Daddy, don't cry." She grasped her father's face in her reddened hands and pressed a sloppy kiss to his cheek.
"There's nothing wrong with a man's tears, Calista Rose, your mummy taught me that," He drew his daughter into his arms and inhaled against the unruly, golden brown curls that would always remind him of his wife.
"Daddy, did she love me?"
Draco Malfoy kissed his daughter's forehead and squeezed her tighter than necessary. He finally set her on her feet and stood. He held out his hand and patiently waited for the small hand to slide into his. As they began to walk the snow covered path that ambled down to their home, he glanced at the grey stone once more.
"More than anything."