Scorpius Malfoy loved accompanying his father to Diagon Alley on business, and he especially like it when they visited the wizarding bank, Gringotts. From a young age, Scorpius had been amazed by the goblins working in the bank, and most of all he liked the stories of the dragons guarding the most secure vaults down in the bowels of the bank. Scorpius longed to see a Gringotts dragon, but sadly even the Malfoys most secure vault, where they kept their valuable jewellery and artefacts, wasn't guarded by dragons.
"One day I will see a dragon while I'm here," fifteen year old Scorpius sighed to his father as they travelled down to the most secure of the Malfoy vaults via the rickety little carts that whisked Gringotts customers around the bank.
"Seeing a Gringotts dragon is very rare, Scorpius," Draco warned his son. "You're more likely to see them in dragon reserves."
"Boring," Scorpius muttered with a roll of his eyes. "I want to see a real dragon in action, not one in captivity."
"As much as I would love to help, I don't think our families influence stretches as far as seeing a Gringotts dragon in action," Draco said.
"Shame," Scorpius murmured.
Draco smiled at his son, remembering how he himself had longed to see a dragon when he was a child. Of course he'd been lucky enough to see three of them first hand when Hogwarts had hosted the Triwizard Tournament in his fourth year, but Scorpius hadn't had any such experience. Maybe in the future, he would be lucky enough to see a dragon, but for now Scorpius would just have to live without experiencing the sight of a real live dragon in action.
When the Malfoys reached their vault, the goblin escorting them waited patiently with the cart while the two wizards opened the vault and stepped inside. As he always was, Scorpius was gobsmacked with the array of jewellery and precious artefacts belonging to his family. He knew his family was one of the richest families in wizarding Britain, but he wasn't spoilt and it always took his breath away to see evidence of just how wealthy his family truly were.
"What are we here for again?" Scorpius asked his father.
"I'm looking for an old emerald necklace," Draco answered. "Mother found an old picture of my great-grandmother the other week and she was admiring the necklace. According to Father, the necklace is in the vault. I'm going to have it cleaned up and reset into a more modern setting for her birthday."
"Okay, an old emerald necklace," Scorpius muttered to himself as he scoured a nearby shelf. "You know, this place isn't very organised. We should send Mum down here, she'd had everything labelled and in some semblance of order within the hour."
"That she would," Draco agreed with a fond chuckle. His wife was definitely the organised sort, and the vault could certainly do with her special touch.
Turning his attention back to the search, Draco found a black ring box with a golden snake design on the box of the lid. Picking the box up, he held it in his hands as he recalled with perfect certainty what the ring looked like inside the box. He'd once had this very box, and the ring it contained in his possession.
"Is that it?" Scorpius asked, noticing his father had stopped looking for the necklace.
"No," Draco replied, flipping open the box and revealing a large, emerald ring. "This is the ring that led me to your mother."
"This ring led you to Mum?" Scorpius questioned, peering down at the ring in question. "I've never seen her with a ring like this. It's a bit flashy for Mum, isn't it?"
"It is," Draco agreed. "But it wasn't too flashy for the witch I was going to propose to with this ring."
"You were engaged to another woman?" Scorpius gasped. He knew his parents had both dated other people before they found each other, but he had no idea his father had once been going to marry someone else.
"No, I never proposed in the end," Draco replied.
"So how did this ring, which you were going to use to propose to someone else, lead you to Mum?" Scorpius asked.
"That my son, is a long story," Draco said wistfully, as he mind drifted back over twenty years, to when he had the ring in his possession.
Draco gazed down at the stunning emerald ring his father had given him three weeks earlier. Draco knew exactly why his father had given him the ring – to propose to his girlfriend of two years, Astoria Greengrass. Before he had the ring, and had seriously thought about proposing, Draco would have said that he was sure Astoria was what he wanted. However, now he was considering marrying her, the thought of spending the rest of his life with her was filling him with dread.
Astoria was a gorgeous blonde pureblood witch who dressed impeccably, and she and Draco had a healthy sex life. To all intents and purposes she was perfect for Draco. She looked good on his arm when they were out, and she always charmed his friends and business associates. She never challenged Draco, either in public or private, and her main aim in life was to make Draco happy. However, it was Astoria's pliability that had Draco rethinking their relationship.
On one hand it was great to have someone who catered to his every whim, but at the same time he longed for Astoria to challenge him. It wasn't as if she was a stupid witch, she was smart in her own way, but she had no interests in the things that interested Draco. Even when Draco asked her opinions on something in the papers, she had very little to say and she was happy to go along with whatever Draco thought on the subject. Just once Draco would have liked to have a decent discussion on current events, and to hear someone's opinions other than his own.
With all the doubts about Astoria plaguing him, Draco hadn't done anything about the ring in his possession for the last three weeks. However, he now knew he was going to do something with it. He was going to return it to his father. He knew his father would be disappointed as both his parents liked Astoria, but he knew he wasn't going to be using it any time soon.
Scooping up the ring, Draco slipped it into his pocket and headed to Malfoy Manor. Luckily his father was at home, and he welcomed Draco into his study and handed him a glass of firewhisky.
"You look serious," Lucius remarked.
"I am," Draco answered as he pulled the ring from his pocket and placed it on his father's desk. "I'm returning this."
"Why?" Lucius asked. "I thought it would be Astoria's style."
"It would be, but I'm not ready to propose," Draco admitted. "To be honest, I'm not sure I ever will be ready."
"I thought you and Astoria were happy," Lucius remarked, sipping his firewhisky.
"So did I," Draco sighed, taking a deep drink of his firewhisky. "But as soon as you gave me the ring, I started to really think about our relationship. I had to be sure I really loved Astoria and we could be happy together before I proposed."
"And now you're not sure," Lucius said.
"No, I'm not," Draco replied.
"What's the problem?" Lucius asked.
"This might sound mad, but Astoria is too perfect. She's too focused on pleasing me. I'm not even sure she has opinions of her own, she just agrees with everything I say."
"Ah, the proper little pureblood princess," Lucius chuckled. "I've known a few of them in my time. Thankfully your mother has a spine."
"Exactly," Draco said, leaning forward. "And that's what I want. I want what you and Mother have. You love each other, but Mother doesn't let you walk all over her. If she disagrees with you, she's not afraid to say so."
"No, she's certainly not afraid to express her opinions," Lucius agreed with a fond smile. "Maybe you just need to encourage Astoria to speak her mind."
"It won't work, she's not wired that way," Draco replied with a shrug. "I did try to get her to stand up for what she wanted. Just last week I suggested we go away for the weekend to the villa in southern Greece."
"What's wrong with that?" Lucius asked with a confused frown.
"You've been to the villa, it's in a tiny village and no-one speaks English. Astoria hates that, she hates that the village is secluded, and she hates Greek food. Yet she was quite happy to go there because it was where I said I wanted to go. All I wanted her to do was speak up and say no, she didn't want to go there."
"So there's no hope?" Lucius questioned.
"It's not just that," Draco answered with a dramatic sigh as he finished off the remains of his firewhisky. "We lack passion and excitement. I want someone I can argue with, someone who will challenge me. I care about Astoria, and I don't want to hurt her, but I know if we get married that's exactly what I will do. I'll get bored, and I'll look elsewhere for excitement. She deserves better than that. I can't marry Astoria. In fact, I don't even think we belong together."
"It's about time you admitted it," Lucius replied with a devious smirk.
"What?" Draco looked at his father in shock, not sure what he meant.
"You can't fool me Draco. I've known for a long time that Astoria isn't the witch for you. You're far too much like me to settle for a princess like her. You need a firecracker like your mother. You need someone who gives you everything you need at home, so you never need to look elsewhere."
"Hold on," Draco said with a frown. "If you think that, why did you ever give me the ring to propose?"
"I was giving you a push," Lucius answered. "I knew you were just coasting along with Astoria, and you needed a push to realise she wasn't the witch for you."
"And what if I'd proposed?" Draco questioned. "What if I'd just jumped in and proposed without thinking it through?"
"That's not you, Draco," Lucius chuckled. "You're not the sort to rush into something serious without thinking. I knew the ring would merely give you the push you needed to look at your relationship, and realise Astoria wasn't the witch for you."
"So what do I do now?" Draco asked, shaking his head at his father's slyness.
"Go and find the witch you're meant to spend the rest of your life with," Lucius suggested. "You deserve to have everything Draco, and as lovely as Astoria is, she can't give you everything. You get out there and you find a witch who makes your heart skip a beat just by walking in the room. Go and find a witch you feel real passion for, a witch who will challenge you when you're wrong and support you no matter what. Go and find her Draco, she's out there just waiting for you."
"I will," Draco vowed with a smile as he got to his feet to leave. "Thank you, Father."
"It's my pleasure son," Lucius replied as Draco left his office and headed off to find the witch of his dreams.
Looking down at the ring all these years later, Draco recalled how he'd ended things with Astoria. She'd obviously been upset and she'd begged him to stay with her, but as hard as it was, he'd been adamant he was doing the right thing. As heartbroken as she'd been at the breakup, Astoria had recovered and gone on to marry someone else, someone who loved her the way she deserved to be loved. As for Draco, he'd followed Lucius's advice, and found a witch was wasn't afraid to stand up to him, a witch he felt a burning passion for, and more importantly, a witch he loved more than life itself.
"I still don't get how that ring led you to Mum," Scorpius said, interrupting Draco's thoughts.
"Were you not listening?" Draco asked his son. "This ring made me realise what I really wanted."
"It sounded more like Grandpa proved himself a true Slytherin and got you to admit things you already knew," Scorpius retorted.
"With the help of this ring," Draco argued. "If he hadn't given me the ring, I might never have realised what I really wanted. I might never have realised your mother was my perfect woman."
"Nah, you and Mum would have eventually found each other," Scorpius said with confidence. "You were meant to be together. Although if I were you, I wouldn't tell her you almost proposed to another woman."
"Your mother knows all about Astoria," Draco laughed. "We don't have any secrets, Scorp."
"Everyone has secrets," Scorpius argued.
"Not me and your mother," Draco retorted. "She knows all about Astoria, and why we broke up. Just like I know all about her former relationships and why they didn't work out. Things might be fiery between us sometimes, Scorpius, but we're always honest with each other."
"And is Mum everything you wanted?" Scorpius asked. "Is she everything Grandpa advised you to find?"
"She is," Draco confirmed with a smile. "She's the complete opposite of Astoria. She certainly doesn't just agree with everything I say just to keep the peace. In fact sometimes I swear she argues just to be difficult. And there's certainly plenty of passion in our relationship."
"And that's enough information," Scorpius interrupted. "I don't need to hear all about the passion you and Mum have, I witness more than enough passion for my liking as it is."
"You should be happy your parents love each other, Scorp," Draco said with a laugh as he replaced the ring on a shelf and set off looking for the necklace again.
"I am, I could just do without seeing the love in progress," Scorpius retorted cheekily as he also resumed his search.
Laughing and joking together, father and son continued searching until they found the necklace Draco wanted to give to his mother for her birthday. Draco even found a pair of earrings he was going to get re-set for his wife for their upcoming anniversary. With the two pieces of jewellery safe in Draco's possession the two wizards exited the vault and took the winding trip back up to the main floor of Gringotts.
"Let's take these to the jewellers," Draco said to Scorpius as they exited the bank.
The pair dropped the pieces of jewellery off at the jewellers and Draco spent a good half hour going over designs with the jeweller. From there they headed home and Scorpius wandered off to his bedroom while Draco found his wife sitting in the library, re-organising the books.
"Hi, gorgeous," Draco greeted, leaning down and kissing his wife, Hermione Granger, on the top of her head.
"Hey." Hermione turned her head and smiled up at her husband. "Did you get the necklace?"
"We did," Draco replied with a nod. "And Scorpius got to hear the story of how a ring brought up together."
"You mean the ring you were going to propose to another woman with?" Hermione checked with an arched eyebrow.
"I was never going to propose," Draco argued. "Father gave me that ring to bring me to my senses. And every day, I'm grateful that he did. I'm so pleased he pushed me to finally find the witch I was meant to spend the rest of my life with."
"You mean a one who would answer back and drive you crazy?" Hermione teased.
"Yes, a witch just like that," Draco replied. "You were just what I needed Hermione, and you still are. I couldn't imagine my life without you."
"Ditto," Hermione said with a smile, as she gave her husband a tender kiss. "I love you, Draco."
"I love you too, sweetheart," Draco returned as he settled down to help his wife.
His father may have been the one to push him into finding a witch who was his perfect match, but he quite liked what Scorpius had said earlier and that he and Hermione would always have found each other. He liked the idea that he and Hermione were always meant to be, and no matter what they always would have found each other.