Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters you may recognize from the wonderful world of Harry Potter, they all belong to the revered JK Rowling; I just like to play with them a little.

CHAPTER FIFTY-FIVE

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY

Draco leaned back in his office chair and tiredly rubbed his face. Still weary from Saturday night's events, he was finding it increasingly difficult to focus on the task at hand. His desk was scattered with parchments he had still to go through before he left for the day and as it was already well past five o'clock. He doubted he'd be home before midnight. Ginny had Flooed earlier to see if he was going to make it home for dinner and she wasn't pleased when he told her no, but it couldn't be helped. He had to get everything done before they left on their honeymoon. At the rate he was going, he'd be lucky to see her at all this week — a prospect that made his heart ache.

Sunday had been a nightmare for him. Between feeling sicker than he ever knew he could feel and his mother pouncing on him as soon as they returned to the manor, he was surprised he'd survived. Millie hadn't spared the gory details of his condition and Narcissa had been waiting all day to fuss over him; then berate him for ending up in such a poor state. Ginny had deserted him the moment she spied Narcissa heading in their direction, claiming she had to bathe the children and get them ready for bed — a poor excuse in his view considering it wasn't yet dinner time. Lucius had, as predicted, suddenly remembered some pressing work to attend to in his study and only re-emerged when dinner had been announced.

With an exhausted sigh, Draco leaned forward and picked up the next file. His musings about yesterday's events were not helping him to move this mountain of paperwork and get home to see his family.


Ginny leaned in the doorway of the bathroom watching Draco prepare for work. It was five in the morning and already he was preparing to leave for the day, most likely not to return until well after she'd retired for the evening. "Are you going to make it home for dinner tonight?"

"I doubt it, love. I can't even see my desk for contracts and files."

"But I haven't seen you all week!" It was true. Monday morning she'd kissed him goodbye and although she'd tried valiantly to stay awake until he returned from the office, she'd fallen asleep. Tuesday he hadn't disturbed her as he crept from their bed and went to work extremely early, again working until very late and returning home to find a sleeping Ginny.

Draco turned and crossed the floor to place his hands on her shoulders. "I know and I'm sorry, but I have to do this before I leave the office on Friday. I did warn you it was going to be busy."

"I didn't expect not to see you at all!"

"Gin, it can't be helped. Try and understand that what I'm doing is for all of us."

"It's not fair."

"I know. Do you think I want to be working such long hours every day?" He tried to meet her eyes with his, but she avoided his gaze deliberately. "Just think, we'll have two weeks all to ourselves with no interruptions." He released her shoulders as he placed a kiss on the tip of her nose and made his way across the bedchamber to collect his cloak. This conversation wasn't one that he wanted to be having at this ungodly hour of the morning, especially when he had to leave for work. "I have to go. Do I at least get a kiss to see me through the day?"

Ginny stood firm in the doorway of the bathroom. "The kids haven't seen you since Sunday." Ginny pouted. His expression told her it was a low blow, but she was fed up with spending her days alone and even worse, her nights.

"Draco?" Lucius voice drifted in through the sitting room.

"Just a moment, Father," Draco responded agitatedly before turning his attention back to Ginny. "And I miss them like crazy."

"Well, come home and spend some time with them!"

Draco sighed patiently. "I can't. I have to get this finished before we leave."

"And they need to see you before we leave!" She almost added, I need to see you too, but restrained herself. She hated to feel this needy; it was easier to feel angry with him for the children's sake.

"Draco!" Lucius voice drifted in once more, this time tainted with impatience.

"I'm coming, Father," Draco snapped. "Gin, I don't know what to say to fix this right now. I do know that I have to get to the office so I've got a chance of getting home sometime before midnight."

"Why bother? You're only going to run out again before the sun rises!"

With his level of exhaustion reaching its peak the rational side of his brain slipped into non-existence and he snapped. "Well, if that's how you feel, perhaps I won't bother!"

Ginny watched as he stormed from the room. She flinched as the outer doors to their chambers slammed in his wake. All of a sudden her world seemed to crumble around her. What had she been thinking to attack him like that? What if he meant what he said? What if he didn't come home? A softly cleared throat from the bedchamber doorway garnered her attention.

"Ginevra," Lucius said softly. "Forgive the intrusion, but I cannot stand idly by and watch the two of you throw away everything you've gained in the past months over something as trivial as a few long hours at the office."

"Lucius, I'm really not in the mood," Ginny retorted as she crossed the room. She wasn't interested in anything he had to say and wished to the gods that he'd just go away.

Not a man accustomed to being denied, Lucius raised an eyebrow at the fiery witch. "Regardless, I am going to have my say anyway and you will listen."

Ginny turned, crossed her arms across her chest and tapped her foot impatiently. "Well, make it quick!"

Lucius smirked. She was acting like an impertinent child standing before him, but nevertheless he had her attention. "I know you have very little understanding of the exact business we do at the office. If it helps, Narcissa has little knowledge either. Draco has certain responsibilities and without him particular parts of the business would most certainly collapse."

"I hardly—"

"Ah— I would have thought that you, of all people, would understand not all of our clients are, shall we say, comfortable dealing with me. Draco is responsible for liaising with a great number of our most important clients — clients he has lured back to the business himself. Clients that keep this family in the lifestyle we've become accustomed to over the centuries — a lifestyle I'm sure you will come to appreciate. With all the time he has taken off in recent months and with your honeymoon looming, he has a great deal to accomplish before Friday evening."

"So you're saying this is my fault?"

"Not at all. Draco needed to spend the time with you and, while inconvenient, I do see his point of view. However, there comes a time when what is lost must be made up and this week is it. Unless of course, you'd like to delay your honeymoon by a week."

Ginny's eyes popped wide open at the offhand suggestion. Uncharitable thoughts began to race through her head. How dare he make such a suggestion!

"No, I thought not." Lucius smiled almost warmly. "Patience, Ginevra. That's all he is asking of you and, of course, a warm welcome when he returns home every evening. He despises not being able to spend time with you and, most especially, the children. I know, because I see him after he has broken a Floo connection with them. Those brief chats are all he has at the moment and he's is devastated each and every time he speaks to them without being able to reach out and touch them. I have personally felt his pain and know full well what he is going through at this time, but I also know it is better to suffer now for a successful tomorrow, than to ignore the issues at hand and suffer forever more."

"I—"

"I'll leave you to ponder my words. I'm sure Draco will be curious about my tardiness. Have a nice day and give the twins my love." Lucius gave her a curt nod and strode from her bedchamber before she could respond.

Ginny remained where she was for several minutes, staring at the empty room, before sinking to the floor as tears ran unchecked down her face. She felt awful and so very lonely. It wasn't as if Draco hadn't warned her he'd be working hard in the week leading up to the wedding, he had, but she hadn't envisioned only seeing him for a few minutes a day as he rushed out the door in the morning or when he walked in and collapsed in a heap at night, if she was still awake.

She didn't know how long she'd been sitting on the floor of her bedchamber when a pair of arms wove around her and drew her head into the warmth of another body. In need of comfort, Ginny didn't resist. She held tight and sobbed until her heart ached.

"Shh," Narcissa crooned as she gently rocked Ginny.

As the minutes ticked by, Ginny's weeping continued with no sign of abating. Narcissa made no effort to stop her crying, she just held her and hoped that by her mere presence she was able to offer comfort.

"Grandmother, is Mummy all right?"

Narcissa turned gently towards the whispered question from the doorway. Drake was standing there looking as though his heart might break for his upset mother. "Yes, darling. Mummy is just a little upset, but she'll be fine soon. Why don't you summon Millie and have her help you get dressed, then we can have breakfast."

"Yes, Grandmother," Drake replied miserably. His tone echoed Ginny's feelings perfectly.

Ginny had pulled herself out of Narcissa's arms while she'd been speaking to Drake, turning her head away from the door so he wouldn't see her face. She concentrated on taking deep even breaths in an effort to stem the tears still flowing down her face. A delicate hand landed softly on her shoulder.

"He's gone," Narcissa whispered.

"Thank you."

Neither woman moved or spoke for some time. They simply shared each others reassuring presence. Narcissa desperately wanted to understand what had provoked the argument Lucius had relayed to her before he hurried to the office, but she was loathe to mention it for fear of upsetting Ginny further.

When she could ignore her inner voice no longer, Narcissa started softly, "Lucius told me of your disagreement with Draco this morning."

"It was my fault," Ginny whispered.

"How so?"

"I started it... I want him to stay home - to be here with me and he can't... I know he can't... yet I kept attacking." Ginny's explanation was punctuated with sniffles and wiping errant tears away.

"It's not wrong to let him know how you're feeling," Narcissa said gently as she placed a handkerchief in Ginny's hands.

Ginny deliberately concentrated on the fabric in her hands. "I used the children against him."

"Oh dear." Narcissa sighed delicately.

"I asked him why he bothered coming home when he only ran out again before we spent any time together."

"I see."

"I—I don't think he's coming home," Ginny wailed as she buried her face in her hands.

"Shh, what makes you think Draco wouldn't come home?"

"He said he wouldn't."

"Did he now? I'm sure it was just something that came out in the heat of the moment and he's regretting his words already." Narcissa made a mental note to Floo Draco when she had some privacy and sort this out with him. He was stubborn enough to stay at the office just to prove a point and she wasn't about to allow him to upset Ginevra to that extent over a silly disagreement.

"No... He meant it. He stormed out... It was the last thing he said—" Her tears took over her ability to speak coherently and she buried her face in Narcissa's shoulder.

"Shh, this is nothing that can't be fixed, dear. You're both under duress at the moment and you say things you don't mean when circumstances are so stressful." Narcissa held her for the longest time, making the occasional comforting sound, stroking her back and rocking her gently.

After what seemed a lifetime to Ginny, she took a deep breath and lifted her head. No good was coming from sitting and crying over all that had happened, plus she had the twins to care for. "I'm sorry."

"You've nothing to be sorry for, dear. Now, why don't you go and have a hot shower and I'll see the children to breakfast. Join us when you've freshened up."

"I should really see Drake, he'll be—"

"He'll be more worried to see you with your face still puffy from crying. It's not a good look for anyone, dear. Now, shower and we'll see you in the dining room," Narcissa said with finality. Someone had to take charge before Ginny transferred anymore of her angst onto the children or more specifically Drake. Narcissa gracefully rose from the floor and waited until Ginny had gained her feet. Before leaving Ginny to her privacy, Narcissa embraced warmly. "Everything will work out, you'll see. He loves you too much for it not to."

"Thank you," Ginny whispered as the older witch departed.

With some effort Ginny showered and dressed for the day. The urge to climb back into her enormous bed, pulling the covers over her head until the pain went away was almost too much to deny. With a wistful glance at the bed, she left the privacy of her chambers and wandered slowly downstairs.

"Mummy!" Drake ran to her and wrapped his little arms around her legs as she entered the dining room. "Are you happy now, Mummy?"

"I'm fine, sweetheart," Ginny replied as cheerily as she could while stroking his platinum hair absently.

"You were crying," Drake whispered.

Ginny knelt before her son and held him close. "Yes, I was, but remember what I told you about the baby making me do silly things? Well, sometimes I cry for no good reason."

"Oh."

"Have you finished your breakfast?"

"Not yet."

"Let's get breakfast done then we'll decide what we're going to do today."

"Can we see Daddy?" Drake asked as he climbed back onto his chair.

Ginny opened her mouth to reply, but closed it again when she felt tears welling in her eyes.

Narcissa noticed that Ginny was having some difficulty and diverted Drake's attention immediately. "Your father is very busy at work today, sweetheart. Perhaps you can Floo him later and have a chat."

Drake's face fell into a miserable pout. "He's always busy now."

"He has to make up for all the work he missed before he takes your mother on their honeymoon," Narcissa reminded him gently.

"Don't see why. Work will still be there when he gets back."

"This is true, darling, but he feels compelled to complete his tasks before taking any more time off."

"Mummy! Grandmother!" Angel squealed as she ran into the dining room. "Our dresses are coming today!"

"They are arriving today," Narcissa responded thoughtfully. "I must check what time Galor will be making the delivery."

"Did you sleep well, sweetheart?" Ginny asked as Angel hugged her.

"Yes, Mummy. Have you got a cold? You're all sniffly!"

"No, I'm fine, sweetheart. Why don't you eat your breakfast and think about what you'd like to do today?"

"Okay, Mummy." Angel skipped around the table and took her seat next to Narcissa.

"Mummy, can we Floo Daddy when I've finished breakfast?" Drake asked.

"Maybe later, sweetheart. I'm sure Daddy's very busy first thing this morning."

Angel looked up from her plate. "Is Daddy at work again?"

"Yes, darling. He works every day."

"I want to see him! Can we go see him at the office?" Angel loved to visit Malfoy Holdings. Everyone treated her like a princess and whatever she asked for was granted immediately — yes, a trip to Daddy's office would be wonderful today.

"No, darling. Daddy's very busy," Ginny responded tightly.

Ever watchful, Narcissa become aware of Ginny's struggle with the children's questions. The poor woman didn't need the third degree after what had transpired earlier. "Angel, why don't you eat your breakfast up and we'll Floo Galor to see what time he's delivering your beautiful dress?"

Angel beamed at her grandmother and resumed eating immediately, her disappointment over not seeing her father forgotten for the time being. She missed the grateful look her mother sent her grandmother in her rush to finish her food and be included in such an important Floo call.


When Lucius arrived at the office, Draco was already busying himself with the morning correspondence. He observed his son for a few minutes before making his presence known. Draco would snatch an owl from the desk, slit the seal open, quickly peruse the contents and allocate the parchment to a particular pile. He worked methodically, as he always had, as Lucius himself did.

"Draco?"

"Father, you took your time."

"I had a word with Ginevra before I left the house."

Draco grunted and returned to the task at hand. He didn't want to talk about Ginny or what had happened this morning.

Lucius recognized his son's closed expression, but continued regardless. "She was quite upset when you left."

"Father, if you don't mind—"

"Ah, but I do mind." Lucius moved into Draco's office and made himself comfortable in a chair opposite Draco's desk.

"It's none of your business," Draco growled.

"No, it isn't, but you stormed out leaving a very upset woman behind. A woman who isn't certain you will return."

"Of course I'll return!"

"That's not what you told her."

"I was angry."

"At whom?"

"Her, me!" Draco sighed heavily and put aside the parchment he'd been holding for several minutes. "Everything."

"I see."

"I want to be with her, not here."

"But you have responsibilities."

"Yes, but she doesn't understand."

"I think she does, you don't give her enough credit."

"Then why this morning? Why did she—"

"Attack?"

"Yes!"

"When was the last time you spent any substantial amount of time with her?"

"Sunday."

"And what were you doing Sunday?"

"At the Burrow for lunch, then home for the evening."

"At lunch did you speak with her, spend any time just with her?"

"No, I spent most of it with her brothers. We were too hung-over to move much," Draco admitted begrudgingly.

"Ah, and at home?" Lucius knew full well Narcissa had taken up a lot of Draco's time on Sunday evening; something that Ginevra had found amusing at the time, but perhaps in hindsight resented her for.

"Mother wouldn't leave me alone."

"So, while you were in the same places as Ginevra, you didn't truly spend time with her."

"No."

"I think she's feeling a little lonely at the moment, son."

"Yeah, but I'm at a loss as to what to do about it. I have to work, this all has to get done by Friday and I did warn her it would be a busy week."

"If I may suggest something to let her know you're thinking of her even though you're at the office?"

"Ginny is not Mother. I can't just buy my way back into her favor."

"As I cannot with your mother." Lucius smirked; his son was learning the ways of woman far quicker than he had as a young man. "I was merely suggesting you have something small...trivial delivered to remind her that she is in your thoughts no matter how busy you are."

Draco sat forward in his chair. The idea had some merit. "I might just do try that, Father. Thank you."

"You're welcome."

"Now all I have to do is figure out a way to spend some time with the twins."

"Yes, rather a large bone of contention she has there."

"It's not just that, I want to be with them... I miss them like crazy."

"I know, son. What about Friday evening?"

"Ginny's going back to the Burrow for the final time. Her mother is insisting."

"She needn't take the children."

"I think she was planning to for the Weasley's sake."

"Perhaps you could change her mind? Suggest that she's deserving of a night entirely to herself and what better night than the eve of her wedding."

"I guess I could try."

"You are my son, are you not?"

Draco frowned. "Of course."

"You will get what you want then."

"Yes, I'll get the children to stay at the manor Friday, Father." Draco grinned cheekily. He had a feeling his father's suggestion had more to do with Lucius wanting to spend time with the children than his concern over his personal feelings.

"Good," Lucius drawled as he rose gracefully. "Well, best we both get to work."

Draco smiled at his father's departing figure. He was feeling a lot better about that morning's little episode after their chat. Now that he had the situation in perspective, he could concentrate on the business at hand and as soon as his secretary made an appearance he'd have her arrange something to be sent to Ginny.


"Now ladies, just stand back and Galor will weave his magic and everything will be perfect!" The couturier held his arms out in an exaggerated gesture as he incanted several charms to make the dresses appear on the mannequins he'd brought with him.

Angel squealed delightedly as her dress tightened itself around the little mannequin that was just her size. After all her tantrums over the dress, she was perfectly happy to be wearing such a pretty creation. Her shoes were spirited to sit on a box below the dress, creating the perfect illusion of the outfit being worn by an unseen body.

Galor was fussing over Ginny's dress when a house elf popped into the room Narcissa had set up to act as a holding display until after the wedding. She fully intended on charming the room locked with powerful magic to keep prying male eyes out of women's secretive business.

The servant groveled at Narcissa's feet. "Mistress, begging your pardon. You has a Floo call in your parlor...very urgent, Mistress."

"Very well," Narcissa sniffed. "If you will excuse me, Galor."

"Of course, Mrs. Malfoy."

Narcissa hurried from the room and made her way directly to her personal study. She'd been waiting for the interruption from the servant since Galor had arrived. Upon entering, she closed the door firmly behind her and charmed it to lock. She crossed the room with haste and dipped her hand into the marble Floo powder pot she kept on the mantle.

"Malfoy Holdings, Draco Malfoy," she intoned as the flames of the fire turned emerald green.

Narcissa scanned her son's office for any sign of him. She was becoming more than a little irritated with his absence when she spied him striding into the room. "Draco!"

"Mother, what can I do for you?"

"I'm most disappointed with you," Narcissa started in an abrupt tone.

Draco couldn't help the exasperated expression that crept upon his features and compounded his feelings with an eye roll his mother didn't miss.

"Don't you look at me like that! Ginevra was inconsolable this morning. How dare you walk out and leave her like that."

"Is this what you Flooed for? To tell me off? Frankly, Mother, I don't have time for this."

"Well, you're going to make time."

The notion that he should simply walk out of the office did occur to him, but it would only serve to incense Narcissa and she would more than likely turn up in person to pursue him until she'd had her say. It was better to sit still, in the privacy of his office, and let her get it out of her system. Draco dropped into his chair heavily and muttered something under his breath about nosy witches who should mind their own business, before turning to face the hearth.

"You can stop that nonsensical muttering too. Don't think I don't know what you're saying!"

"Mother, if you must do this, can we just get it over with."

Narcissa stared at her son for a long moment. He looked exhausted and the urge to step through the Floo to hold him in her arms nagged at her maternal side. "Ginevra is under the impression that you are not returning home."

"I said something in the heat of the moment, Mother. We all say things when we're not thinking straight."

"She's blaming herself. Perhaps you need to remind her of your feelings for her then? Reassure her—"

"It's been taken care of."

"Oh?"

"No, I'm not telling you."

"Very well. The children are asking after you constantly."

"Yeah, it'd be nice to see them when they're not asleep for a change."

"Perhaps you could Floo them instead of waiting for them to contact you."

"I will, Mother. I just get distracted with work and time gets away from me, but I promise I will speak to each of them before they go to bed tonight."

"Wonderful."

"If that's all, I really should get back to work."

"You might try to get home at a decent hour for a change."

"You think I don't?"

"I didn't say that, darling."

"No, but you bloody well implied it."

Narcissa's expression hardened. "Draco, do not take that tone with me!"

"Draco, do you have—" Lucius stopped dead when he saw his wife's disembodied head floating in the hearth. The expression on her face was one he knew well and he decided to make a quick exit, lest her mood move onto him. "You're busy; I'll get back to you later."

"Yes, Father, run away," Draco called to his father's retreating figure. "I'm only your heir; she could kill me you know."

Lucius' head popped back inside the office. "No matter, we have Drake."

Draco rolled his eyes. He'd not be saved from his mother's wrath, at least not by his father.

"You need to remember you have responsibilities at home as well as the office and to neglect those at home will have a far more devastating consequence than leaving a meeting early or not reading a contract or whatever it is you do all day!"

With a retort burning on the tip of his tongue, Draco bit down hard. It wouldn't do any good to inflame his mother's ire further with useless excuses. She had a valid point, the office would always be here, but Ginny and the children might not if he continually ignored their emotional needs along with his own.

"Think about it, Draco," Narcissa said in a softer tone. "And I'll be awaiting your apology."

Before he could form a reply Narcissa disappeared from the flames. Draco leaned forward and placed his head in his hands. He didn't think it possible, but his day was growing worse.

"Draco?"

"She's gone, Father," Draco muttered. "What did you want before?"

"Her bite is venomous, but she also holds the ability to soothe your pain."

Draco shook his head. "She's right. I can't ignore Ginny's needs, no matter how busy I am."

"And how to you intend to be in two places at once?"

"I don't know, but at the moment I'd settle for five minutes with her." Draco sighed heavily. "Just so I could hold her and tell her I love her."

"It takes you five minutes?"

Draco looked up at his father with a nefarious grin. "Well there's the snogging that follows such a statement. Got to do it properly!"

"I suggest you take an hour for lunch then - you never know where that snogging might lead."

"Father, I can't I have—" Draco indicated the mountain of paperwork still sitting on his desk awaiting attention.

"You will. This is far more important and anything you don't get finished by Friday, I can manage or pass along to someone else."

"But—"

"No buts. By taking the time for lunch today you may avert a bigger scene and it may just help you make it through to Saturday without another confrontation."

"Fine, I'll take an hour."

"Good. Now the file we were examining last night; where did that get to?"

"It's here somewhere." Draco rifled through the various files on his desk until he came up with the correct one and passed it to his father. "Thank you."

"You're welcome."


The moment Draco Apparated into the manor, he interrogated the servant who met him in the foyer about where he might find his family. Armed with the knowledge that his mother had taken the children horse riding and Ginny was on the terrace reading, he dumped his cloak on the house elf before heading off in the direction of the terrace. Although he felt a little guilty, he was secretly pleased Ginny was alone and the children were occupied elsewhere.

She was absorbed in the tome open before her and hadn't heard is stealthy approach. He stood for a few minutes to just watch her. The way she held head, the slight smile that tugged at her mouth and when her tongue flicked out to wet her lips he thought his heart would explode. The single red rose he held at his side floated towards her, following a whispered charm. It hovered just above her line of sight and then he let it down gently to fall upon the open book.

Ginny looked up, searching the grounds for any sign of life. When none could be seen from her position, she turned and looked back toward the house. Draco was leaning nonchalantly on the doorframe, smiling at her in a way that made her heart melt.

"Hello, love."

"Hello, what are you doing home?" Ginny stood up, laying aside the book, but keeping hold of the rose.

He ambled towards her chair slowly, keeping a close watch for her wand. Even though she'd sounded amiable, he wasn't stupid enough to believe one rose was going to erase his sins. "Well it seems I have an hour free, so I thought I'd come home and tell you how much I love you, and how sorry I am about this morning."

"Oh?"

"And how much I miss you when I'm not with you."

"Really?"

"Really," he whispered as his lips captured hers in a searching kiss. "I've missed you so much."

She swallowed hard and tried to ignore the tears welling in her eyes. "I missed you too and I'm sorry, I shouldn't have attacked you this morning. It wasn't fair."

"Hey, don't cry. I didn't want you to get upset." His arms drew her into his body and he held her tight. The scent of her hair wafted into his nose, teasing his senses with memories of times past spent in each other's arms. He could see her in the throws of ecstasy, writhing beneath him as her hair fanned out over the pillows; or sleeping on his chest, her silken hair tickling his bare skin where it laid. The memories combined with the time away from her had Draco's body reacting in a way he didn't entirely wish to ignore. He bent down and scooped her into his arms.

"What are you doing?"

"Taking you upstairs."

"I'm not tired."

"Good, neither am I."

"Draco, you have an hour...the children."

"Hush! This hour is yours and yours alone. I think I've worked out a way to spend some time with them before we take off for two weeks, so don't worry."

"But—"

"Shh, I just want to lay with you...just hold you for a while."

Ginny couldn't argue with the pleading in his tone. Besides, she wanted and needed to be held as well, so any argument would have been detrimental to her own desires. Though she did have a feeling he wanted more than to just hold her, and if he did, that would all right with her too.

Draco carried her up to their chambers and laid her gently on the bed. He removed her shoes with care before slipping his own off and joining her. His arms gathered her into his chest and he soaked up the warmth she was radiating. It had been too long since he'd last held her like this and he vowed never to allow time to build up like that again.

"What time are you leaving on Friday?"

"After lunch, I think."

"How about you leave the twins here?"

"Draco, that's not fair to your mother."

"She'd only have them for the afternoon, then I'd take over as soon as I'm home."

"God only knows what time that would be. No, I'll take them with me."

"I'm leaving work on time on Friday. No excuses, no delays. I'm tired and I want to be well rested for Saturday. Just think you could have the night entirely to yourself. No kids to run after. Just you and a bubble bath..."

Ginny sighed into his chest. "I don't know."

"You deserve to have some time just to yourself. You don't want to be tired on Saturday."

"I just think Angel will put up a fuss. She'll think she's missing out on something. I don't want your mother to have to deal with that."

Draco expelled a large breath pensively. "How about we split them between us?"

"What do you mean?"

"You take Angel and I'll have Drake for the night."

"They might not like that."

"Gin, they're children they'll do as their told."

"Yes, I know that, but Drake will tease Angel about getting to spend time with you and she'll get upset."

"Well, I do need to make sure he's still got the ring ceremony under control." Draco thought for a moment. "You'll be busy getting ready and stuff on Saturday morning won't you?"

"Yeah, your mother is insisting we start early."

"So Angel is just going to be hanging around in the way for the most part?"

"I suppose."

"What if I had both kids until lunch? That way Angel has no complaints about not spending time with me and I still get time to work with Drake on Friday night."

"That might work," Ginny muttered.

"Well, we'll do that then and if there are any problems, just direct them to me. I can explain to them why it has to be this way and you won't get any grief from either of them."

Ginny laughed lightly. Draco still had a lot to learn about his children. If they weren't happy with the arrangements, it was likely they'd spare no time in letting everyone know their opinion.

While they'd been discussing arrangements for Friday, her hands were resting on his abdomen, occasionally fiddling with the silk of his shirt or tracing a non-existent pattern with a single finger. Whether by accident or design, her hand had drifted lower to fiddle with the buckle of his belt. She could feel his desire straining against its restraints, pulling at the fabric of his pants and a nefarious smirk crept across her features.

Quite deliberately, Ginny ran her hand over the peak in Draco's pants. Her reward was a subtle moan of appreciation and it inspired her to revisit the area again. Draco's hips rose to meet her caressing hand. She could hear his groan rumbling through his chest as her fingers stroked him through the fine fabric of his pants and boxers.

"Enough, Gin. I can't take it," he muttered.

With a gentle, but swift movement he removed her from his chest and was hovering over her. Her face was flushed and her eyes slightly glazed. It seemed she'd worked herself up all on her own and was his for the taking.

"I don't have time for this," he whispered as his mouth traveled over her neck.

Ginny's hand came up to curl in the hair at the nape of his neck. "To hell with time, make love to me."

"Oh, Gin," Draco uttered just before his lips came crashing down on hers with a passion built on a week of frustration.

They moved together barely conscious of their actions, but at the same time moving intently towards one goal. Clothes were discarded with little fanfare; Draco helping Ginny out of hers and then allowing her to assist him in removing the barriers that stopped their pure contact. Their teasing of each other's flesh was almost desperate in nature. Hands and mouths moved in continual pursuit, where one had been the other would follow to elicit unearthly moans that echoed through the room. Talk became superfluous as their heart rates rose and breaths became shallow pants.

Only when their mutual need was no longer deniable did they come together as one. Their pace was deadly, yet their movement rhythmic. It was like a race to the finish line, the first to topple into euphoria would most certainly drag the other along for the ride.

Draco was the first to feel the familiar tightening in his stomach as his climax drew close. "Gin?"

"Harder," she barely responded. Her breath was coming in quick, shallow pants and her own coil of tension rendering her almost speechless.

He complied with her wishes. Somehow forcing his way deeper into her than ever before. She moaned as she met his every stroke, a sound that increased until it was almost a continual howl as her walls pulsated around him. With the extra sensation, Draco was neither able nor inclined to hold back his own climax and with a grunt of relief he finally released himself.

When the echoes of their moans died away, all that could be heard in the chamber was the harsh intake of air. It was as if neither could quite catch their breath afterwards and their heavy panting filled the air. Unable to move for the time being, Draco gently lowered his body onto hers. Between filling his lungs with much needed air he lavished her neck with small kisses.

"That was incredible," Ginny whispered.

Draco stroked her face lovingly with his hand. "You're incredible."

"Can we just stay here forever?"

"Mmm, that'd be nice."

Their pulses slowed gradually and their lungs began to function as normal. They lay enjoying the simple contact with each other and their eyes drifted closed for a few minutes. Draco was the first to move. Brain function seemed to be the last of his bodily functions to return to normal and when it finally put in an appearance, he became aware that he'd been home quite some time.

Draco lifted his wrist to inspect his watch, then sprang from the bed in alarm. "Shit!"

"What?"

"I've been here over two hours." His hand ran through his hair as he gathered his discarded clothes from all over the room.

Ginny slid off the mattress, walking over to him. She slipped her hands around his neck and nibbled on his collarbone. "But it was worth it, wasn't it?"

"Oh yeah, it was definitely worth it." Unable to stop himself, Draco's hands drifted down to cup her backside, bringing her closer to him. "At least when Father kills me for being so long, I'll die a happy man."

He kissed her deeply, and then pulled away to dress himself. His heart was telling him not to leave, to crawl back into the bed and make love to her into the evening. His head was already devising plausible excuses to fend off any diatribe from his father. With his clothes all back in place, albeit a little rumpled, but still acceptable if no one looked too closely, Draco picked his shoes up and headed in the direction of the chairs by the fireplace.

"You'd better—" Ginny stopped and threw Draco a panicked look as they heard the squeals of the children coming closer and closer. For once she was grateful that they were loud when they were excited. At least they had fair warning.

"I've got to go now, Gin. As much as I'd love to see them, I haven't the time."

"I know, just go. They need never know you were here." Ginny knew it was the wrong thing to do, the children needed to see him too, but there wasn't the time and they wouldn't be satisfied with a quick five minute visit. It would save her a lot of grief this afternoon if they didn't have to say goodbye to him.

Despite still holding his shoes in one hand, Draco's arms circled her and drew her flush against his body. "I love you, Ginevra Weasley."

"I love you, Draco Malfoy."

The kiss he gave her was crushing, as if he was trying to leave an imprint of himself on her enough to last until the next time they could be together. Just as the broke apart, as much for lack of air, as time pressing in on them, the children could be heard chattering as they walked through their sitting room.

"Draco," Ginny barely whispered.

"I love you." With a deep pop he was gone, shoes in hand, and she was left standing in the middle of their bedchamber alone.

The door flung open and the children came running in, followed by Narcissa at a more sedate pace. They shared animated tales of their riding adventure and Ginny listened in what seemed to be an attentive manner, but her answers to their questions were somewhat vague. So involved in what they wanted to tell Ginny, the twins didn't even notice their mother was wearing her bathrobe in the middle of the afternoon. Narcissa's discerning mind did not miss the change in her attitude and she smiled indulgently at the younger witch, Ginny's level of contentment could only mean she'd had a special visitor this afternoon.


"Well... well... you do return," Lucius drawled sarcastically.

"Father," Draco replied tensely. "My apologies. Lunch took longer than expected."

Lucius' eyes traveled the length of his son's arm and came to rest on the shoes held in his hand. "Given the state of your attire it's any wonder you had time to eat."

Draco smirked wickedly. "I didn't."

"I see." Lucius cleared his throat subtly. "How are the children?"

"Mother had taken them horse riding before I arrived, so I didn't disturb their fun."

"I was under the impression you wanted to see them."

"And I do, but not for five minutes. They deserve more of my time than that, besides it would have just upset them when I left again so soon and made Ginny's afternoon a living hell."

"Perhaps, but don't you think that a little is better than nothing?"

"Not if it's just going to make the situation worse. Ginny understood why I didn't see them so there's no problem. Besides Drake is staying at the manor on Friday evening so I'll get to spend some time with him then."

"And Angelique?"

"She's going with Ginny, but I've promised to have both of them Saturday morning while Ginny's getting ready."

"I see."

"I assume Mother will be busy with preparations as well, you're welcome to join us."

"You don't want to spend the time alone with the children?"

"I wouldn't have offered if I wasn't prepared to share. You've seen them as little as I have this week. You can join us if you would like, if not it's not a problem—I'll have them to myself."

"If your mother is busy with preparations for the day, I'd very much enjoy spending the morning with the children."

"Thought you might."

"Well, I'll let you get back to work." Lucius gave Draco a curt nod and left the office.

Draco dropped his tall frame onto the couch in his office and put his shoes on before anyone else spied his state of undress. It was one thing to have the staff griping about him ducking home for lunch when they were so busy, but quite another to have the gossiping about him rushing home to shag his fiancée when there was work to be done. As he sank back into the plush chair a satisfied smile graced his features. Everything was going to be perfect and nothing could possibly go wrong now.


Draco Flooed the manor just after dinner time to talk to his children and let Ginny know he wouldn't be home until very late. He was relieved to hear Drake telling him that Mummy was much happier tonight and he hoped she would still be in that good mood after he'd spoken to her. In the end, he needn't have worried, she was expecting him to work late especially after the time he'd taken this afternoon to be with her. While she wasn't ecstatic at spending the evening without him again, she was more understanding and that was all he could ask for. She offered to stay up and wait for him, but he discouraged her gently. He had no idea what time he would eventually get home and didn't want her tiring herself out because of him. However, he did promise to wake her if she was asleep when he got home.

Thursday passed in much the same manner, minus the afternoon visit home for some quality time with Ginny. She did rise early with him and kiss him goodbye before climbing back into bed for a few more hours sleep. As promised, he woke her when he got home as he'd done the evening before. It was an exercise that proved futile — she'd groan, half smile at him and snuggle into his chest as she fell into a deep sleep again. Conversation seemed to be beyond her capability at those ungodly hours.

On Friday, Draco headed off for work with a long, deep kiss still tingling on his lips. He worked without disturbance for much of day, taking lunch in his office and refusing to entertain anyone who didn't have a genuine agenda. He was determined to get home before dinner so he could eat with Drake and spend some time just relaxing with his son. Besides, he'd promised they'd practice the ring ceremony for the wedding before he tucked him for the night.

At five o'clock, his father ordered him into the boardroom for an alleged meeting with clients. He'd just finished everything he'd set out to do at the beginning of the week and really just wanted to leave the office. It was with some annoyance that Draco strode into the room, but much to his surprise there was no meeting, instead the departmental mangers had gathered to wish him the best of luck. After a few drinks, Lucius suggested he make a discreet exit. Drake was waiting and he should be at home with him.

As soon as Draco appeared in the foyer of the manor, Drake flew into his arms. This was what coming home from work was all about. It was a shame Ginny and Angel were at the Burrow; their presence would have made his night complete. For just a moment, he entertained uncharitable thoughts about Molly and her insistence that some traditions be upheld.

"Daddy, have we got time to go flying?"

"Umm... You know dinner will be served soon." Draco's heart lurched as his son's little face began to fall. This night was about spending quality time with him after all. "But we can order the servants to hold our dinner until we're ready."

"Really?"

"How fast can you get your flying gear on?"

"Faster than you!" Drake took off up the staircase as fast as his little legs could carry him.

"Draco?"

"Mother."

"Nice to see you."

"It's been a busy week."

"For us too."

"What time did Ginny leave?"

"Just after lunch."

"Has Drake behaved himself for you?"

"Of course, we've had a lovely afternoon."

"Good. Do you think you can hold dinner for a bit? Father is still at the office and Drake asked if we could take the brooms out for a little while."

"Certainly, just remember he'll need to get to bed at a reasonable hour so don't stay out too long."

"We won't, Mother." Draco kissed Narcissa's cheek and headed up to his chambers to change out of his business robes.

Once they were in the air, Draco felt the tension of the week slip away. It was like a giant weight had been lifted from his shoulders and he was able to focus on what was truly important again. They spent an hour chasing each other in the air and just having fun. Drake tried again and again to perfect a dive he'd been practicing with Harry, but failed to pull it off. When daylight began to give way to the night sky, Draco suggested they make their way in for dinner. Drake, surprisingly, agreed wholeheartedly.

After their brooms had been deposited in their chambers and both wizards had dressed for dinner, they made their way to the dining room. The reason behind Drake's compliance became obvious as soon as dinner was served. He ate almost as much as Draco and far more than Narcissa, much to everyone's surprise. It seemed that a little flying at dusk had augmented his appetite to a point where Draco could clearly see how his son was related to the Weasley clan.

When Drake had finally deemed he'd had his fill, the family moved into the parlor. Narcissa wasn't overly impressed when Draco announced they were going to practice the ring ceremony so close to many of her prized trinkets, but she held her tongue. With each charm that Drake enunciated, Narcissa's breath caught in her throat. She was waiting for something to go wrong, for one of her precious objets d'art to come crashing down.

Drake practiced the charm over and again with confidence, never once making an error or failing to levitate an item his father offered. At the end of the first hour, Draco was most pleased with Drake's grasp of the charm required for the ceremony. He had absolutely no qualms about allowing him to take an active part in the wedding the following day. There was no way he'd mess it up when he had such a great technique.

The night grew late and even though Draco knew he should announce Drake's bedtime, he was enjoying spending time with his son far too much to call an end to the evening. After deciding Drake needed no further practice with the charm, they played several games of Wizards Chess, plus a few games Quidditch with the stadium Narcissa had purchased for Drake, and Draco read him a story out of an old book that had been a favorite of his own when he was boy. It was Narcissa who finally brought the evening to an end.

"Draco, it's well after ten. I think Drake should go to bed now."

Drake's head instantly popped up from the chessboard. "I'm not tired!"

"Sorry, mate. Grandmother's right. It's late and we've both got a big day tomorrow. I should probably get to bed too."

"But—"

"Drake, you heard your father," Lucius intoned in a low voice. It had been a pleasant evening and he wasn't about to allow a tantrum to mar the memory.

"All right, I'll go to bed then," Drake announced sulkily as he got to his feet.

Draco placed his hand gently on Drake's shoulder. "Say goodnight and I'll come up with you. I'm going to head to bed too."

Drake took his sweet time bidding goodnight to his grandparents before standing back to watch his father say his goodnights. They climbed the staircase together, hand in hand.

Draco leaned over his son's bed, adjusting the blankets around his small body. "All right, straight to sleep and for Merlin's sake don't tell your mother how late I let you stay up — she'll flay me if she finds out."

"Okay, Daddy. I won't tell," Drake responded with a giggle.

"Goodnight, Drake." Draco placed a light kiss on his son's forehead.

"Night, Daddy."

Draco straightened up and made his way quietly to the door. He turned and looked back at the little boy who was the very image of himself at the same age. A satisfied smile crept upon his features. Though he'd missed so much of his early years, Draco vowed to never miss another day.

"Daddy?"

"Yes, mate."

"Go to bed or I'll tell Mummy how late you stayed up."

Draco could hear the cheeky smirk in his son's voice. "Go to sleep!"

As he closed the door he could hear Drake quietly laughing to himself. Draco ambled down to his own chambers. He showered and prepared for bed in no particular hurry. When there was nothing more to do and he couldn't put it off any longer, Draco climbed into his bed. It seemed so very large without Ginny next to him and for as tired as he felt, he couldn't drop off to sleep.

Visions of her kept floating through his mind... the first time he came across her in Flourish and Blotts, she would have only been eleven years old then... her expression of delight when she hexed him in his fifth year at Hogwarts... at Kings Cross Station at the beginning of his seventh year, Blaise had directed his attention to her and he fell in love the moment he laid eyes on her... the last night he saw her before leaving for France... the kitchen at the Burrow when she looked so afraid... her expression as he made love to her for the first time in years...

He growled in frustration and rolled over. He'd not get to sleep if he couldn't force his brain stop whirling. What would she look like tomorrow? Her dress was in the manor somewhere. He knew it had been delivered, but didn't know where his mother had stored such a precious item. Tomorrow he would be a married man.

With a disgusted snarl, he threw the covers back and climbed out of bed. Perhaps a walk would help settle his mind or maybe he could take his broom out. The fresh air would do him good and possibly tire him out enough to sleep. He dressed quickly and grabbed his broom from his sitting room. Thankful he hadn't summoned a servant to put it away this evening. The house was silent as he made his way stealthily down stairs and out the front doors.

As Draco kicked off, he felt the cold night air sting his face and before he knew where his thoughts were roaming he was thinking about what the air was like over Catchpole. Was it as cool there? Maybe Ginny was chilly? Perhaps it was warmer... perfect conditions for night flying?

When he finally landed he was no longer in Wiltshire. His heart pounded in his chest as he smiled at the dark ramshackle house. He knew it was wrong to be here, but he couldn't help it, he had to see her now.


Ginny rolled over with a grunt and pulled the blankets over her head. Something was making just enough noise to disturb her slumber.

"Ginny!" Tap, tap, tap. "Ginny!" Tap, tap, tap.

She frowned, opened her eyes and listened carefully. She could have sworn she heard Draco calling her. All was silent. Perhaps it had been her imagination; after all he was in miles away, in Wiltshire. Her eyes drifted closed again.

"Ginny!" Tap, tap, tap.

Ginny's eyes snapped open.

"Ginny!" Tap, tap, tap.

It wasn't her imagination. Someone was tapping on her bedroom window. With a little trepidation she slipped out of bed and glanced at the window from a distance. A smile pulled at her mouth when she saw a flash of platinum blond hair in the moonlight.

She moved to the window and slid it open, cringing as the wood squealed all the way. "Draco, what are you doing here?"

"I couldn't sleep. I had to see you."

"You're not meant to be here, we're not meant to see each other," Ginny stressed. "Mum is going to have a fit if she catches you."

"She won't. Now are you going to invite me in or are you going to let me get blisters on my backside?" He was beginning to feel somewhat uncomfortable hovering for so long in the one position.

Ginny moved away from the window. "Come on then. Just be quiet."

Draco clambered awkwardly through the small window and turned to thread his broomstick through without banging it on the frame. With his arm fully extended out the window, he found maneuvering the long handle of his racing broom a little more difficult than he'd anticipated.

"Bloody hell!" Draco cursed as he watched his beloved broom crash to the ground.

Ginny flew to the window and looked down in to the yard. "What?"

"My broomstick."

She couldn't help but giggle at his expression and the situation. They were behaving like a couple of naughty teenagers, sneaking around in the dead of night. "You'll just have to use the door on the way out."

"Yeah, and risk running into how many members of your family?"

"Makes it all the more exciting, doesn't it?" Ginny purred as her arms wound around his waist.

"Well, I can't argue, especially when you say it like that." He smirked as his head dipped to capture her lips possessively.

How they ended up on the bed is a mystery to both of them, but at some point they moved across the small room as one and when they broke for air they were lying on the small bed that had been Ginny's since childhood. She could feel his desire firmly prodding her every so often as if to remind her it was there. Her body began to grow warm and suddenly the nightgown she was wearing felt too restrictive. With desire burning in her thighs, she brazenly pushed him off of her and discarded her nightwear in one silken movement.

Draco's growl of approval rumbled over her body as his mouth descended on her breasts. His hands seemed to everywhere at once and his mouth left blazing trails of heat over her chest. His talented touch had reduced her to a quivering mass of jelly, begging for release in minutes. He delighted in teasing her flesh until she trembled beneath his fingers, muttering unintelligible requests.

Ginny could do little more than clutch at him as the sensations he was provoking took over her ability to think straight. She knew the words flowing from her mouth couldn't be understood; yet somehow he was following her wishes. The ability to perform a deliberate movement appeared to have abandoned her as her nerve endings screamed in pleasure. Before long, her breath was coming in shallow pants and impatience at her inability to reach him to return the favor, to see his breathing spiral out of control as her had was making her grapple desperately for his trousers.

Draco lifted himself off the bed and hastily disposed of his clothing. He could feel her hungry eyes roving over every inch of exposed flesh. Even without physical contact, she was leaving a trail of gooseflesh. As he crawled back over her, his stomach fluttered as though a hundred Snitches had been let loose in there. Whether it was because he knew he shouldn't be here or it was a reaction to the woman sprawled beneath him, he didn't know and didn't care to know at this juncture.

They came together as one, slowly rocking, in no hurry now that the most intimate contact had been made. Though they'd made love countless times, this felt like the first time all over again. The rich emotions behind their actions, and the murmured declarations of love and commitment, seemed to hold more value and be more vital in this act of love than ever before. Almost as if both wanted to make this feeling last for all eternity, they resisted the natural urge to loose control and rush towards ecstasy.

Even when Draco could feel Ginny begin to pulsate around him, he still held his rhythm steady, ignoring her urges to go faster or harder, and in doing so forced her to keep control. Her orgasm flowed through her body with an intensity she'd never experienced, leaving her trembling from her core to her fingertips. She continued to move with Draco as her climax echoed in her veins. He still sought his own zenith, yet he felt contented all the same by Ginny's reaction to his ministrations. Her quivering body assured him he'd been successful in pouring his very essence into her soul.

The familiar tightening that signaled imminent release brought about a struggle for Draco. He fought valiantly with his own body to keep himself from slamming into her as the pressure became unbearable. Whispered encouragement helped him maintain the steady pace and without expediting his movements he poured himself into her with a strangled grunt born of restraint more than lust.

Their labored breathing seemed to fill the small room to a deafening level. Minutes passed and they still remained as one, unable or unwilling to break the union. A bead of sweat ran down Draco's brow and dropped onto Ginny's breast. He watched its progress with obsessive fascination as it ran down her side, the rise and fall of her chest helping it along. There were no words voiced, they had no need of them especially when their actions had spoken so very clearly.

Although sweaty, Draco rested his forehead on hers. The rush of blood hammering in his ears was making his head difficult to hold up and he seemed unable to catch his breath at the moment. After several minutes, he realized his breathing wasn't returning to normal, in fact he was almost gasping for air and he made a concerted effort to bring it under control. Once he felt he was breathing a little easier, he gently lifted himself off of Ginny and lay beside her. Her own breathing was still quite shallow as shudders continued to run through her body.

"Come here," Draco whispered as he pulled her to spoon against him. "I want to hold you forever."

Ginny rolled onto her side and snuggled back against his chest. She felt exhausted and sticky, but ever so content. Draco's hands stroked her arms and legs, trying to put a stop to the now intermittent tremors that ran through her system. As her breathing evened out and deepened, a single beam of moonlight crossed the floor and Draco's eyes drifted closed before it reached his face. A contented smile graced his handsome features as his breathing slowed even further and he fell into dreams of a perfect life, with this perfect woman.


Drake tiptoed across the floor of his grandparent's chamber. It was very early and he knew he shouldn't be in his grandparent's private chambers at such an hour, but he had no choice. Daddy wasn't here. He reached Lucius' side of the bed and reached out to gently shake the bare shoulder of the sleeping man. "Grandfather?"

Lucius frowned as he rolled over to see who had disturbed his sleep. "Drake, what are you doing in here?"

"Daddy's not here."

Lucius sat up; making certain the bedclothes covered his modesty, as well as Narcissa's. "What do you mean? Of course he's here. I expect he's still sleeping."

"No." Drake shook his vehemently. "I went in to wake him up and he's not in his room."

"Nonsense! Draco is not an early riser, unlike someone else I know." Lucius pinned his little grandson with a hard look.

"Who?" Drake asked with wide-eyed innocence.

Lucius growled in annoyance. As much as he loved his grandson dearly, he could irritate him to the point of distraction.

"Lucius, is there a problem?" Narcissa uttered softly from the other side of the bed.

"It seems Draco isn't in his chambers."

"Perhaps he's gone down for an early breakfast?"

"I hardly think so. He's not in the habit of rising so early."

"Today is quite a day for him. It would be understandable if he was feeling a little anxious."

"Yes, I suppose he may have risen earlier than normal," Lucius conceded. "Drake, return to your chambers and wait for me there."

"Why?"

"I'll get dressed and we'll go down to breakfast. I'm certain we'll come across your father in the dining room."

"I can wait here," Drake responded casually.

"I said wait in your chambers."

"Why?"

"Drake, I will collect you on the way downstairs. Now go!"

Drake smirked cheekily. "You don't have any pajamas on!"

"Drake!"

The little boy turned tail and ran out of the room, giggling to himself all the way.

Narcissa rested her hand on her husband's arm when he growled at the departing little wizard. "Lucius, don't be too hard on him."

"That child is going to be the death of me yet. Merlin only knows what would have come from his mouth if he'd noticed you too had omitted sleepwear last night."

"Darling, he's only a child."

Lucius snarled irritably again. "Best I put the boy's mind at rest and find his father."

"I'll follow you down shortly."

Lucius dressed quickly, foregoing much of his normal morning routine in case Drake came back looking for him. He knew the boy had little patience and would likely seek an audience as soon as he was dressed. Upon leaving his chambers, Lucius was not surprised to see his young grandson sauntering towards him.

"Are you ready for breakfast, young man?"

"Yes, Grandfather. Are we going to find Daddy first?"

"I feel we may find him in the dining room and if not, the servants should have an idea of where he may have gotten to this morning."

"Okay, but if they don't, do we get to look for him like when I hid from everyone?"

"We'll see," Lucius grunted.

The dining room was empty when they entered. Given Draco's obvious absence, Lucius summoned Millie immediately and ordered her to question the rest of the servants regarding his son's whereabouts.

Just as Lucius and Drake were beginning to eat their morning meal Narcissa floated into the room. "Where is Draco?"

"I've not seen him yet. Millie is questioning the rest of the staff presently and I expect she should report back momentarily."

"Oh dear."

"Do not worry yourself, dearest. I'm sure he's just gone for a walk or perhaps he decided on an early morning ride. You said yourself it's a big day for him."

"Yes, of course. He can't have gone far." Narcissa smiled tightly as she began eating.

Millie popped back into the dining room with a loud pop that made Drake jump. "Master, Millie has asked everyone and no one has seen Little Master since last night."

Lucius frowned. While he didn't want to cause alarm, it did concern him that none of the servants had seen Draco this morning.

"Lucius?"

"Narcissa, calm yourself." Lucius turned his attention back to the creature trembling before him. "Are you certain he's not in the house?"

"Yes, Master. Millie is positive. Little Master is not in the house."

"Dismissed."

"Lucius, you don't think he would have—"

"Of course not. He loves her. He wouldn't risk losing her over a minor case of cold feet."

"If you'd let me finish. I was going to suggest that perhaps he went to Ginevra last night."

Lucius took a moment to compose himself. "That's a possibility."

"I'll Floo the Weasleys and ask if they've seen him."

"Very well." Lucius sighed heavily. Was it too much to ask that everything ran smoothly today?

Narcissa left immediately, without bothering to finish her breakfast. Draco's mystery whereabouts was beginning to worry her and she'd feel a lot better once she knew for certain where he was.

"Grandfather?"

"Yes, Drake."

"Are you going to find Daddy?"

"Of course. Just as your grandmother suggested, he's most likely with your mother."

"But he's not supposed to be."

"Who told you that?"

"I heard Grandma telling Mummy."

"I see. Well, it is tradition, but I can see your father ignoring such things to be with your mother."

"Grandma will be cross."

Lucius smirked in amusement. "Yes, she will be if he's dared to ignore her."


Narcissa's disembodied head floated in the kitchen hearth at the Burrow. "Mrs. Weasley!"

"Mrs. Malfoy, this is a surprise. What can I do for you?"

"We seem to have lost the groom. I was wondering if he was with Ginevra."

"No, Ginny's still sleeping."

"Oh dear, I was hoping he simply went to see her without saying anything."

"I'm sure he'll turn up. Perhaps he just needed some time to himself. Ginny told me how busy he's been this week."

"Yes, yes I'm sure he'll show up."

"If I see him I'll send him home."

Angel appeared at Molly's side, still in her pajamas, but looking very much awake. "Hello, Grandmother! See who, Grandma?"

"Hello, darling. Are you excited about today?" Narcissa asked.

"Oh yes! I can hardly wait! I want everyone to see my pretty princess dress."

"Angel, dear, can you go and wake up Mummy?" Molly asked quickly. She didn't want her granddaughter to overhear any of the conversation about her missing father.

"I went in to wake Mummy already, but Daddy's cuddling her."

"What?"

Angel rolled her eyes. Why was it that she had to explain everything to the adults all the time? Didn't they listen? "Mummy is still in bed and Daddy is cuddling her."

"Your Daddy is upstairs, in Mummy's room?"

"Yep, and they're rude, so I'm not going back in there."

Narcissa's eyes opened wide at her granddaughter's last statement. "Darling, what do you mean by rude?"

"They don't have their pajamas on," Angel explained with an affected sigh.

Narcissa cleared her throat lightly. She didn't require any further explanation; it was clear what her son had gotten up to in the early hours of the morning. "I see. Well, at least we've located him."

"I'll send him home when he comes downstairs," Molly assured her.

"Thank you, Mrs. Weasley. Do wish Ginevra good morning for me and we'll see you later in the day."

"I will. Goodbye, Mrs. Malfoy." Molly turned her attention to her granddaughter. "I suspect you're wanting your breakfast."

"Yep, I'm starving!"

"Good, sit up next to Granddad's chair. Breakfast won't be long." Molly busied herself at the hearth as Angel wandered down to the chair next to her granddad's.

"Morning all," Charlie boomed as he walked into the kitchen.

"Charlie, dear, could you fetch some more eggs?"

"Sure, Mum. How many do you want?"

"Every egg you can find. I'm sure your brothers are going to want feeding when they arrive."

"Okay. Angel, want to come help me? You can hold the basket."

Angel screwed her little nose up. "No thank you, Uncle Charlie. The chickens smell yucky."

Charlie laughed loudly as he went into the yard. Even though Angel had spent most of her short life here at the Burrow, she was unmistakably a princess who wouldn't get her hands dirty for anyone. He went to the chicken coop and checked every nest. When the basket was full of fresh eggs, Charlie headed back to the house. Half way across the yard a glint of gold in the grass caught his eye. On closer inspection, he discovered a broomstick laying beside the house and not just any broom either; it looked like Drake's racing broom.

With the basket of eggs in one hand and the broomstick in the other, Charlie walked back into the house. "Mum, Drake left his broom outside. Where do you want me to put it?"

"That's not Drake's broom," Angel said with certainty. "His name isn't on the handle."

"Yes it is." Charlie turned the handle over to show his niece the embossed 'Malfoy' on the wood.

"That's not Drake's broom! Drake's broom has 'Drake Malfoy' on the handle."

"Well, if it's not Drake's then whose is it?"

"Daddy's."

"Your Daddy has a broom like this one?"

"Yep."

"Draco's going to have a fit when he finds out his broom was outside," Charlie mused. "Wonder why it's here."

"I expect that's how he got here," Molly muttered angrily.

"Here? He's here? Where?"

"Daddy and Mummy are rude!" Angel giggled.

"What?"

"He's upstairs," Molly ground out. "Merlin only knows the damage he's done to their luck."

"Hang on a minute," Charlie demanded. His brain was having a little trouble keeping up with developments. "Draco's here and he's upstairs?"

Molly slammed a pan onto the fire. "Apparently."

"What's he doing here? I mean, isn't he supposed to stay away for a night?"

Molly gave her second son a withering glance; surely he didn't need any explanation to what the couple might have been doing, especially after Angel had so eloquently announced their state of dress or undress as the case was. "It's tradition. Oh the bad luck they've brought upon themselves."

"So, do you think he's just going to wander down and head off home?" Charlie enquired casually.

"I've no doubt he'll sneak out the window."

"The window?" A wild twinkle in Charlie's eyes flashed as a plan began to form in his mind. "You'd like to talk to him before he leaves, wouldn't you, Mum?"

"Of course I would," Molly stated indignantly, shaking a large wooden spoon at her son. "If he thinks he can get away with sneaking around here, he's got another think coming!"

Charlie placed a light kiss on Molly's cheek. "Warm up your voice, Mum. I think I might do myself a spot of hunting."


Draco reach down blindly and pulled the covers over them to ward off the morning chill. Ginny was draped across his chest and he tightened his hold on her. He knew he'd have to leave soon or he'd be caught here and he didn't want to particularly start the day with Molly Weasley ranting at him about traditions or bad omens. Yes, he'd leave soon, he'd just hold her a while longer. He could feel himself slipping under the spell of slumber again, yet he couldn't bring himself to move.

A loud bang from the hallway startled Draco. He sat up, disturbing Ginny with his sudden movement. "Bloody hell! What time is it?"

Ginny groped around the bedside table for the clock that had sat there for as long as she could remember. "It's just after eight o'clock."

"Fuck!"

"What's wrong?" Still half asleep, she was having trouble seeing what all his cursing was about.

"I woke up earlier, but I must have drifted off again."

"So?"

"Gin, your family! They're awake. My broom is on the ground outside and I've got no escape."

"Oh," Ginny groaned. If he was caught in here, they wouldn't hear the end of it from her mother, not to mention the hell her brothers would put him through. "The window!"

"What?"

"Climb out the window and Disapparate."

"I'd break my neck!"

"No you won't. I've done it hundreds of times."

Draco raised a quizzical eyebrow at her. "Do I want to know why?"

"Probably not." She grinned nefariously at the horrified wizard.

"I swear if Angel starts climbing out of windows when she's a teenager I'm blaming you."

"Are you telling me you never snuck out of somewhere or into some room you weren't meant to be in?" Ginny looked at him cheekily. She knew he'd committed many crimes of trespass when he was a student at Hogwarts and in the year after he left the school.

"That's not the point," Draco said brusquely as he reached for his clothes.

"Oh and what is the point?"

"Where are my boxers?"

"Aren't they there?"

"Would I have asked if they were?"

Ginny huffed impatiently as she climbed out of bed and slipped her bathrobe over her body. Why was it men could never see what they were looking for, even if the item was right under their nose? She scanned the floor where Draco's clothes had been and like him, couldn't see the green silk boxers he'd been wearing when he arrived. "They should be right there."

"Well, they're not. Any ideas?"

"Check under the bed."

Draco got down on his hands and knees. He peered under the bed hopefully, but the only habitants of the dark were dust motes. "Nope, not under there either."

Both froze as voices began to fill the corridor. They listened intently until the voices began to fade into the distance.

"My brothers are arriving," Ginny whispered urgently.

"Damn the boxers. I've got to get going now." Draco pulled his pants on quickly and carefully secured them at his waist. With his shirt slipped over his shoulders, he picked up his cloak and headed for the window.

Ginny was watching for any activity in the yard and so far was pleased that she'd seen no signs of life. "I think it's all clear. They're probably all feeding their faces in the kitchen."

"Well, I'll see you this afternoon," Draco said with a cheeky grin.

"You most definitely will."

Draco leaned down and captured her lips in a searing kiss. They were both breathless when they broke apart, but another sound from the hallway prompted Draco into action. He climbed out the window and clung to the outer wall with his feet hanging onto parts of the house by their very tips. Ginny leaned forward and kissed him one more time before he began his descent.

"I love you," she whispered.

"I love you, too."

Ginny watched as he made his way slowly down the exterior of the house. Her heart leapt into her throat when he slipped and landed heavily against the wall close to the kitchen. She waited for someone to come out, anyone, but it seemed luck was on their side and no one appeared. When his feet struck the ground she let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding.

Draco smirked up her and winked. "See you later, love."

"Bye."

He looked around for his broom. It had fallen straight down and should have been lying at his feet, but it was gone. "Gin, my broom isn't here!"

"It must be."

"It's not. Someone's stolen it."

"Draco, only you and I knew it was there. Who would—" She stopped speaking abruptly and her eyes opened wide before she disappeared from the window.

A carefully cleared throat behind Draco set his heart hammering in his chest. He turned slowly and Charlie Weasley leered at him in a frightening way.

"Lose something, mate?"

Draco's eyes went to the broomstick Charlie was leaning on — his broomstick. "Look, I know I shouldn't have, but I couldn't stay away — you understand, don't you?"

"Mate, I understand. I've been there. You're about to marry this perfect woman and you're forced to spend the night apart. It's not fair and you know, that night, you just can't seem to stop thinking about her either."

Draco relaxed a little. Here was a man who understood where his mind was at, a man who could help him escape. "Yeah, exactly."

Charlie grinned at him in that frightening way again, a way that made Draco feel a little like a trapped animal.

"Do you think I could have my broom back now? I need to get home before anyone notices I'm missing."

Charlie exhaled slowly and regarded the man his sister was in love with thoughtfully. "You know I'd like to help you, but—"

"Come on, Charlie. You said yourself you understood."

"And I do. I just like my ears where they are."

"What?"

"Mum likes to get in our ear if we do wrong and helping you get out of this would be considered wrong. You understand, don't you?"

"She doesn't even have to know I was here. Ginny's not going to say anything and you're the only other person to have seen me."

"See that's where you're mistaken."

Draco's eyes grew wide. "Mistaken?"

"Yeah, see Angel woke up extra early this morning — she's excited, you know how little girls get with weddings. Well it seems she went in to wake her mother, didn't want her to be late — wasn't that thoughtful?" Charlie paused for a moment to gauge Draco's reaction thus far. The blond man appeared not to be breathing at the present. "Well, Angel was quite disgusted when Mum asked her to go and wake Gin up while she spoke to your mother on the Floo network."

"My mother? My mother Flooed here?"

"Apparently."

Draco ran a hand through his hair in frustration. If Narcissa had Flooed here this morning it could only mean his absence had been noticed. "Bloody hell!"

"Anyway back to the tale at hand. Angel told Mum and your mum there was no way she was going back up there, because you were both rude."

"Rude? She told my mother I was rude?"

Charlie bit the side of his mouth to keep from laughing aloud. "Yeah, according to Angel if you don't wear pajamas you're rude."

"Fuck!"

"Steady on, I'd have to kill you if I knew what you were doing with my sister."

"What?" Draco stopped and looked at the man now laughing heartily at him. Comprehension of the real situation struck him like a Bludger to the stomach. "You—you're bloody well enjoying this, aren't you?"

"Having the time of my life, mate," Charlie admitted wholeheartedly. "Here you are trying to convince me to help you escape detection when everyone knows exactly where you are and what you've been up to."

"I don't believe this! What a way to start my bloody wedding day!"

"Look at it this way, Draco. You'll never forget it."

"I've got to get going before my mother sends Father for me or worse, comes herself."

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that." Charlie looked genuinely sorry. He really wanted to just let Draco go back to the manor, because feeding him to the family on his wedding day was really quite cruel—entertaining, but cruel just the same.

"What? I have to get home. I'm getting married this afternoon!"

"Yeah, it's all right you'll make the wedding. Mum wouldn't let you be late for that."

"Oh god no!"

"Sorry, mate. I really am, but you've got to understand the position I'm in — it's me or you, and like I said before, I rather like my ears where they are." Charlie's arm slid across Draco's shoulder and he began walking him into the house.

Draco stopped dead only feet before the door. "What will it take? Name your price."

"Draco, I can't... You know that."

"Like the broom? You can keep it," Draco said eagerly. He'd do anything to stay his walk into that house. It was one thing to be caught by Charlie, but quite another to be berated by Molly.

"Take a deep breath, mate." Charlie all but pushed Draco through the door, and then at the last possible moment he added in a whisper, "And don't look her in the eye."

Draco quickly surveyed the room. Ginny was standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the front room; she looked so pained to see him caught. Ron stood just behind her, his amused smirk told him this wasn't going to be forgotten anytime soon. Anya was sitting at the kitchen table, sipping her tea and by the looks, trying not to laugh aloud. Arthur was eating his breakfast in his usual seat at the table and looked unfazed by the sudden appearance of his daughter's fiancé. He could hear children in the front room, whispering to one another—they'd obviously been told to keep quiet. Molly was standing before the fireplace, her hands squarely on her hips and her expression not pleased to say the least.

He swallowed hard. A lump had formed in his throat and it threatened to choke him. "Morning all."

"What do you think you were doing?"

"I—umm—thought I'd—err just pop in," Draco stammered. Molly was coming towards him and the urge to step backwards was almost too much to ignore. Only the firm hand Charlie kept in the middle of his back reminded him that there was no escape.

"What part of 'you're not allowed to see her before the ceremony' is difficult to understand?"

"None of it."

"Really? Well why are you here?"

"Umm... Angel! I thought I'd pick Angel up before breakfast... Save Gin the trouble of bringing her over." He knew Molly was already aware he'd been in Ginny's room, yet the lie slipped out of his mouth all the same.

Molly looked at him skeptically. She knew he was lying and, by the looks, he knew she knew too. "Like to try again?"

"I—err—" The constant pressure Charlie was applying to his back was becoming quite claustrophobic as Molly came even closer.

"What time did you get here?"

"I—I don't know," Draco answered truthfully. He had no idea what time he'd given up on sleep and decided to take his broom out, let alone how long he was in the air.

"How did you get into the house?"

Draco swallowed hard. "Window," he admitted quietly.

"You climbed through Ginny's window?"

"Yes," he conceded meekly.

"What about tradition? Does it mean nothing to you?"

"Err—look I—" Draco looked at Molly, pleading for mercy with his eyes. "I couldn't stay away — I couldn't sleep."

"Oh? So you come here and disturb Ginny's sleep?"

"I didn't think—"

"No, that much is clear."

"I'm sorry," Draco whispered. He could hear Charlie begin to laugh quietly behind him. Anger began to snake its way through his veins. He couldn't believe he was being made to feel like some naughty child by a mere witch and worse, others were laughing at his expense. He heard several people arrive via the Floo Network in the front room and decided it was time to get out here before the situation became a whole lot worse. He lifted his chin high and looked Molly in the eye. "I'll just be going then."

"Oh no, you don't!"

The finger Molly waved at him came perilously close to slicing his nose off. She continued to prattle on about what he'd done and how disgusted she was in his behavior. It took a monumental effort on Draco's part to ignore her for a few moments.

"Ron, who's getting in trouble?" Bill whispered harshly from the front room.

"Shut it! I don't want to miss a word," Ron responded gruffly.

"Who is it?" Bill pressed.

Ron chuckled deeply. "Malfoy!"

Bill joined in Ron's amusement. "Wondered when Mum was going to welcome him to the family properly."

"He messed up big time."

"Who messed up?" Fred asked as he tried to squeeze his way through to the kitchen for a better view.

"Wasn't me," George stated as he stepped out of the hearth with his little boy in his arms.

"Honestly, can't you lot behave for one day?" Percy huffed self-importantly, bringing up the very rear of the group gathered around the door.

"Wasn't us!" the group answered in unison.

Draco closed his eyes for just a moment. This wasn't happening to him, it had to be a nightmare; he'd wake up any moment safe in his chambers at Malfoy Manor. He opened his eyes only to be confronted by a still furious Molly Weasley standing a little too close for comfort.

With a deep breath to calm himself, Draco set about turning on his charm to get him out of here and on his way home. "Molly, I understand you're upset. What I did was wrong and against all traditions. I accept that and apologize most sincerely, but you can't honestly say that Ginny and I have done anything conventionally. I love her so much that to spend just one night away from her was too painful. I had to see her or die."

"Oi, Charlie, get out of the doorway."

Draco rolled his eyes. Bloody brilliant! It's not bad enough this lot has to witness this debacle, bloody Potter has to join the audience too!

"Can't, mate. If I move he'll escape and Mum will have me for breakfast instead," Charlie responded.

"What's going on?" Hermione asked as she tried to peer over Charlie's shoulder.

Molly eyed the blond wizard doubtfully. She'd heard many men turn on the charm to get out of trouble over the years and Draco was no different. "Do you know what I think?"

Draco sighed tiredly. He knew she wouldn't let him escape until she was quite finished telling him exactly what she thought. "You're going to tell me, aren't you?"

"I think you weren't thinking with your heart. You were following your male urges where ever they took you."

Draco frowned. "Urges?"

"I don't have to spell out what you were doing in Ginny's room, do I?"

His eyes flew wide open in panic. With this many redheaded wizards surrounding him he didn't like his chances of making it out alive if got an inkling of what he'd been doing with their sister on the eve of their wedding. It was one thing for them to know they did it, but quite another to have it spelled out for them. "No!"

"Hey, what's everyone standing outside for? Move in, I'm dying for a cup of tea," Pansy demanded.

"Shh, Pansy, Molly's bailed Draco up for something," Harry whispered loudly.

"Oh god." Pansy sighed heavily as she drifted away from the back door. "I knew it was too good to be true. Everything was going too perfectly."

Molly's voice droned on as Pansy hunted the backyard, she required a suitable object to put her plan into action. She knew the Weasley matriarch wouldn't let Draco go easily and so the quickest way to resolve the situation was to get Draco out of there. Pansy picked up an old shoe she spied laying in the grass near the broom shed between two fingers. Given that there were no other stray items laying around the backyard it would have to do, even though it was a little too big for what she had planned.

Pansy wandered back towards the house with the dirty boot held precariously between her fingers. "Potter, let me get in there."

"You can't. Charlie's in the way."

"Potter, I need to get to the lavatory!" Pansy fibbed, but she knew this would get the noble Gryffindor to move aside and allow her closer access to Draco.

"Oh, sorry," Harry murmured as he stepped back from the doorway.

Pansy squeezed up as close to Charlie as she could, she was unable to see over the burly wizard so she ducked to look under his arms. Molly could be heard still ranting about how disgusted she was with Draco. Pansy had to swallow a giggle that threatened to burst forth. She could imagine what Draco's face had to look like at the moment; he wouldn't dare to answer Molly back, but he wouldn't be happy. With precision, she reached forward and shoved the old boot into what she hoped was Draco's hand. It disturbed him enough to make him glance over his shoulder.

"Draco, mother needs to know what your grandfather's first name was," Pansy spluttered, realizing time was short. He would drop the filthy boot if he didn't recognize her attempt to help him.

"What? What does that matter? He's dead," Draco replied with annoyance.

"She needs to know, so before Molly kills you do you think you could oblige me and answer the question." Pansy was beginning to think this wasn't a great idea. If Molly heard her, she was likely to turn on Pansy when Draco disappeared, if he ever answered her. What she wouldn't give to get some eye contact with her old friend, he would see then that she was trying to help him not annoy him.

Draco huffed with impatience. Why Pansy was insisting on knowing this information right now was beyond him, didn't she realize how perilous it would for him to take his attention off of the raging witch in front of him? "It was Abraxas!"

As soon as he'd snapped his answer, Draco felt a familiar tug at his navel and it dawned on him that the thing someone had shoved into his hand was a Portkey. He was on his way home and, most importantly, out of reach of Molly Weasley.

"Where did he go?" Charlie looked around bewildered by the sudden disappearance of the blond wizard. He couldn't have Apparated, he'd not moved and besides they were in the house.

Molly berated the air where Draco had been standing for a few more seconds before she realized he was gone. "Wait until I get my hands on him!"

"Can we go in now? I'm dying for a cup of tea!" Pansy gave Charlie a firm push in the back and shoved her way through the door. "Morning, everyone."

"What happened to him?" Molly asked Pansy pointedly.

"Who?"

"Draco!"

"Was he here?" Pansy replied innocently. "I thought he wasn't meant to see Ginny before this afternoon."

Molly pointed her finger at the black haired witch standing before her. "You had something to do with this."

"With what, Molly? I didn't even know Draco was here," Pansy replied with mock patience. "Though if he was, I wouldn't like to be in his shoes when Mrs. Malfoy gets a hold of him. She'll hex him until he can't sit down!"

The Weasley matriarch huffed as she turned on her heel, returning to the hearth and preparing breakfast for the family. She knew Pansy had helped Draco escape somehow, she just didn't know exactly how.

Ginny made her way quietly across the room to Pansy's side. "Thank you."

"Any time." Pansy winked at her and smiled warmly. "Couldn't have your mother committing murder on your wedding day."

Before long the smell of sizzling bacon wafted through the house and the family began to crowd into the cozy kitchen. The noise level was almost enough to raise the roof of the house as they all squeezed around the old table. Children on their fathers' knees, babies cradled in their mothers' arms and when Molly surveyed the table full of people a satisfied smile settled on her face. As far as Molly Prewett Weasley was concerned, this was the only way to start such an important day. It was almost perfect in her opinion. Even though the room was full to overflowing, there were two members of the clan missing and Molly felt their absence — yes, it was almost perfect.


Draco landed in front of the ornate gates announcing Malfoy Manor. He discarded the old boot immediately and made a mental note to scrub his hands thoroughly. Bloody hell! The cow could have landed me closer, he thought as he threw the gates open. It was a long walk up to the house and he cursed again for having left his broom at the Burrow. With nothing else to do, Draco began his walk towards the house and more than likely another berating, this time from his own mother.

As he climbed the stairs to the front doors, they swung open to admit him. He growled at the servant cowering on the floor beside him as he removed his cloak. He could already hear the click of his mother's heels on the marble floor as she sped towards him. No doubt the servants had alerted her to his return.

"Draco, I want a word with you."

"Mother, I'm not—"

"Right now!"

A snigger from behind Narcissa's skirts, alerted Draco to the fact that his son was close by and was delighting in watching him get into trouble. "Drake, go upstairs."

A little blond head peeked out from behind Narcissa. "Grandmother said I don't have to."

"Well I'm your father and I said you do."

"Draco, your father's study," Narcissa instructed.

He shook his head despondently. There would be no escaping his mother's wrath, so it was probably best to get it over with and then start the day fresh. "Fine!"

Drake watched his father move past him and couldn't help but share what he knew. "You're in big trouble."

Draco stopped and gazed down at his small son. There was no doubt Drake found the situation most amusing. "You don't say?"

He stayed a respectable distance behind his mother as he followed her to his father's study. Drake had not gone upstairs as instructed, but was following a distance behind Draco, still sniggering to himself. He would have to have a small word to his son about doing as he's told when he was done being told off himself.

"Ah, you do return," Lucius drawled as Draco strode into the study.

"Father, if we could just get on with this. I've not had breakfast and I desperately require a shower."

"It isn't me you need hurry along." Lucius smirked at his son.

"Mother?"

"I cannot express how very disappointed I am in your conduct, Draco. I know we raised you better... to respect tradition!"

"Yes, Mother, I am sorry."

"We didn't know where you were!"

"Yet I have no doubt that your first point of contact in your search was the Weasleys."

"That is beside the point! You didn't leave a note. We didn't know what to think!"

"Well, you obviously found me all right," Draco retorted.

"Drake was the one who discovered you were missing. Did you stop to think how he would feel if you weren't here in the morning?"

"I planned to be back before anyone rose for the day. I fell asleep unintentionally."

"Well— it's just not good enough! What were you thinking?"

Draco took a deep breath. Narcissa's rant was sounding vaguely familiar. "Well, accordingly to Molly Weasley, and I'm sure you'll agree, I wasn't thinking."

The reference comparing the two witches so closely left Narcissa speechless for a moment and Draco took full advantage of the situation to make his escape.

"I'm going to shower and have breakfast. You're welcome to join me if you wish." With this he turned on his heel, hurrying out of the room as fast as he could without running. If he hesitated, Narcissa was certain to call him back and add to her diatribe the fact that he attempted an escape.

With the door closed behind him, Draco leaned back on the wall and breathed a sigh of relief. This morning was never going to end. For now though, he'd shower and eat, he might feel a little more human once these simple tasks were accomplished. At the very least, he'd feel more comfortable once he put a pair of boxers on under his pants.

After he'd showered, Draco made his way to the dining room, feeling somewhat fresher than he had earlier. He ordered breakfast to be served immediately and wasn't surprised when Drake slipped quietly into the room.

"Do you want some breakfast?"

"I already had breakfast with Grandfather and Grandmother."

"Oh, I see."

"Why did you go to see Mummy?"

"Because I missed her last night."

"Oh." Drake sat pensively for a few moments while Draco ate his food. "Grandmother is really cross with you."

"Yeah, but she'll get over it." Draco winked cheekily at Drake.

"Are you going to have bad luck?"

"Nope! How could I possibly have bad luck? I'm marrying the most beautiful witch in the world this afternoon and I have the most perfect children. I'm the luckiest man alive!"

Drake beamed brightly.

"Best you pray your luck holds, because your mother is heading this way," Lucius said in a highly amused tone as he entered.

Draco stood up immediately. "Well, I think I've had enough breakfast. Drake, why don't we go for a walk or something?"

"Can we go flying?

"Err— your Uncle Charlie has my broom."

Lucius laughed as his son left the dining room in a hurry. "You can run, my boy, but you can't hide."

Draco turned at the door to smile at his father. "Watch me, Father. The next time I come face to face with Mother we'll be surrounded by wedding guests, and she wouldn't dare take me to task with such an audience. Come on, Drake, let's get out of here."

"Daddy, why does Uncle Charlie have your broom?"

"I sort of left it at the Burrow."

Drake stared up in awe of his father. "Did you fly all the way to the Burrow last night?"

"Yeah."

"Wow."

It occurred to Draco that if he and Drake were in the air, Narcissa didn't have a hope in hell of catching him. "How about we just take your broom out? We can double up."

"Okay!" Drake didn't care how he got to fly, just as long as he did and if meant sharing with Daddy, he could handle that.

"What are we waiting for then? Let's go get your broom and get into the air!" Draco knew their time would be limited to when Angel arrived, but they could enjoy what little they had meanwhile.


"Daddy!"

Draco looked down and saw his little girl running under them along the grass. "Time to go down, mate."

"Do we have to?" Drake whined.

"Yep, I'm afraid so. Angel is here now, so we'll find something we can all do together while the women are busy."

"Okay, but not riding!"

"Definitely not! I don't think Mummy would be impressed if we all showed up at the wedding smelling like horses."

Drake giggled. "Nope, she'd be cross too!"

Draco touched down and helped Drake off the broom. "Yeah, and I think I've got enough witches cross at me this morning."

"Was Mummy cross you went to see her?"

"No, mate, she wasn't cross at all."

"Oh, good."

"Daddy, I'm here!" Angel squealed.

"So you are, princess." Draco gathered his little girl into his arms. "Did you have fun last night?"

"Yep! Grandma is still angry with you."

"No surprises there," Draco muttered under his breath. "Is she really?"

Angel nodded. "Yep, she keeps saying she wants to get her hands on you."

Drake laughed. "Grandmother is cross too."

Angel's eyes opened wide at her father. "Really?"

"Uh huh."

"Okay, enough talk of how much trouble I'm in. Let's go do something fun!"

"Mummy said we have to stay in the house," Angel told him seriously.

"All right, we'll do something in the house."

"Quidditch?" Drake suggested hopefully. His Quidditch game sat in his room on a shelf near his bed and he played at every opportunity he was given.

"Yeah, we could do that. At least we'll be out of the way in your rooms."

Draco entered the house with Angel in his arms and Drake by his side with the broom in his hands. He wanted to try to make it up to the children's rooms without encountering his mother or Molly. Merlin only knew just how worked up Narcissa was by now and he didn't want to think about what Molly might do to him if she had the opportunity.

"They're upstairs," Lucius said from the shadows.

"Father, don't sneak around like that."

"I was just coming to ensure you'd seen Angelique."

"We're just going up to their rooms to play for a while before getting ready."

"Your mother asked me to tell you that they'll send for Angelique when it's time for her hair to be done."

"Fine." Draco breathed a sigh of relief. "Would you care to join us?"

"I would enjoy that immensely."

With Draco still keeping a nervous eye out for any sign of the women he was trying his best to avoid, the small group made their way to Drake's chambers without incident. Drake immediately began setting up his Quidditch game while Angel ran to her rooms to get some dolls and other supplies to hold a tea party with.

Angel was almost disappointed when Millie popped into Drake's sitting room to announce it was time for her to rejoin the women. She'd just served 'tea' to the men and after much instruction from her, they were finally behaving themselves at her tea party.

Draco insisted on escorting Angel to the suite of rooms his mother had set aside for the women in the bridal party to use for the day. Ginny would be in those rooms getting ready. He paused only momentarily outside the door before throwing them open and then he stopped dead when he saw who was in the sitting room.

"Draco!"

"Girls, make sure you keep our bride in there," Molly called into what would usually be the bedchamber.

"What do you think you're doing?" Narcissa demanded.

"Mother, Molly." Draco nodded curtly. "I escorted Angel and simply wanted to ensure she was safely in your care before returning to Drake."

Narcissa rolled her eyes in a fashion that told him his excuse hadn't fooled her. "Just go!"

"Really! Is he never going to give up?" Molly uttered disgustedly to Narcissa.

"I doubt it, especially after last night's fiasco," Narcissa said disdainfully. "And Draco, it would be an idea if you men began dressing."

"Yes, Mother." Draco turned to leave, but paused as he heard Ginny laugh.

"Go," Narcissa ordered.

"Come on, mate, it's not worth it," Bill said gently from the corridor.

"Worth it?" Draco uttered.

Bill stepped forward, slung an arm around Draco's shoulders and led him firmly from the room. "Can you imagine what they'd do to you if you tried to get through the other door?"

"Maybe we should just push him through to see how riled they are," Charlie mused.

Bill tossed his head in Charlie's direction. "He's a bit bored and when he gets that way he tends to favor blood sports."

Draco tried not to allow his horror to show outwardly. He didn't trust those two not to throw him through the door just to see what the women would do or how he'd come out. "Right, well I'm off to get dressed."

Bill and Charlie watched their sister's fiancé walk quickly down the corridor with amused looks on their faces.

Charlie grinned wickedly at his older brother. "I think he thought we were serious."

"Yeah, he doesn't seem to be able to tell when we're joking around, does he?"

"Let's hope he never works it out."

"Spoil our fun if he did." Laughter filled the corridor as the two sentries took up their positions again on either side of the door. They'd been placed there to keep Draco out while Ginny dressed for the wedding, but given the opportunity to see the man flounder in the presence of their mother for a second time that day was too tempting and when they'd spied him approaching with Angel they quietly slipped into the shadows to allow him clear access to the door.


AUTHOR'S NOTES

Many thanks to the wonderful Rainpuddle13 for her beta skills and advice.

Thanks to all who reviewed! With the new reply system available I'll be using that to respond to all the reviewers that I possibly can.