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.
This is the final chapter of Dragon and Angel. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for reading. If anyone is interested, I have started writing the sequel — I haven't decided on a name yet, but there will be a note in the summary connecting it to this fic.
Also I owe a great deal to my betas Gianfared and Rainpuddle13: You've both taught me a great deal, for which I will be eternally grateful. Your encouragement and support have meant the world to me. Thank you!
CHAPTER FIFTY SIX
Draco stood before the mirror in his dressing room — his dress robes pristine, his hair perfect, and his stomach in knots. He was concentrating so hard on his breathing that he failed to notice his small son step into the room until his reflection showed in the mirror.
"Are you all right, Daddy?"
"Of course I am. What makes you think I wouldn't be?"
"You're breathing funny."
"Nah, you're hearing things."
"Drake might be, but I know I'm not." Blaise Zabini lounged casually in the doorway. His dress robes were as immaculate as Draco's, but his expression, unlike his old friend, was relaxed and slightly amused. He never thought he'd see the great, infallible Draco Malfoy looking like a frightened child. "Feeling a bit tense are we?"
"Shut it," Draco growled.
"No shame in feeling a little apprehensive, mate. It's a huge step you're taking, only natural to feel...like running away."
"Why don't you run away before you talk him out of taking this monumental step, Mr. Zabini?"
"Professor Snape, pleasure to see you again, sir." Blaise grinned cheekily at his former Head of House and Potions Professor. "I think I'll go see how Goyle's getting along. Let you two have some privacy. Come on, Drake, you can hang out with us boys."
"Okay!" Drake beamed. He loved that he was getting treated like one of the men and followed Blaise enthusiastically. Although they didn't realize it, the groomsmen had inadvertently avoided some difficult scenes by treating Drake as one of them, rather than a child. He'd dressed in his robes without complaint and beamed proudly when his father's old wand was placed in a sheath attached to his belt. While he wouldn't admit it openly, he was secretly proud of his robes. They were exactly like his dad's and grandfather's, and his cloak had the Malfoy crest spread over the back for all to see.
Severus' dark eyes followed his former student from the room, ensuring he made certain to close the door behind him without further comment. "Draco, how are you feeling?"
"I'm doing fine, Uncle Sev."
"And even better when it's all over?"
Draco licked his lips nervously. "Yeah."
"Zabini's comments had some merit. There's no shame in feeling a little apprehensive. What you're about to do is life changing."
"Draco, at least be honest with yourself," Severus interrupted gently.
"All right, I am a little nervous, but it's got nothing to do with marrying Ginny. I think it's more to do with the process."
"Daunting to say the least, but necessary."
"I'm starting to think we should have just eloped."
"Ah yes, and provoked your mother's ire even more."
"You obviously heard how my morning began."
"Professor Weasley delighted in relaying the events at his family home."
"Mother didn't spare the venom either."
"Lucius mentioned she was in a dangerous mood."
"I just hope I don't come across her until there are witnesses, lots of them."
"I don't like your chances. She's going to want a private audience with you before the ceremony."
"Bloody hell," Draco cursed. He had hoped his mother would be busy with the women, then her role as hostess would take over and the guests would distract her. "Do you think you could just keep her occupied or something, Uncle Sev?"
"Sorry, you're going to have to deal with her. I'm not foolish enough to stand between Narcissa Malfoy and what she wants."
"I doubt there is a man alive quite that foolish," Lucius surmised as he entered his son's rooms. "Are you ready?"
"Good, it's time to go downstairs."
Draco took a deep breath and expelled it slowly. "Okay, let's do this."
Lucius smiled warmly and placed his hand on his son's back. "I promise, it's painless and you won't remember a thing."
"Thanks," Draco muttered sardonically as he began to make his way slowly out of his chambers.
Lucius and Severus flanked Draco on the journey downstairs to the ballroom. They directed him through the arriving guests quickly and quietly to arrive at the antechamber at the head of the grand room. He didn't need to mingle now, not when there were so many things going through his head. He required some reflective time and Lucius was determined his son would get what he needed.
Draco almost laughed aloud whenever someone attempted to approach him on his walk to the ballroom. His father and godfather would close ranks, surveying the unwitting guest with the most formidable of glares until the person scampered away to leave them to their journey. Draco watched as his father opened the concealed oak door to the small waiting room. This is where he would stay until Ginny was ready; then he would walk across to the middle of the ballroom and wait for her in front of Professor Dumbledore.
Lucius looked around the ballroom antechamber. It had been several years, more than he'd care to add up, since he'd last seen the room and it looked completely different to how he remembered. In fact, the last time he'd been in this room he'd been anxiously awaiting the arrival of his own bride. He examined the décor of the room; Narcissa's influence had reached in and changed much. Lucius hadn't realized his wife had delved so deep into the bowels of the house as to change a room that was only ever used on occasions such as weddings. His gaze drifted over his son. Draco was more fidgety than he could ever recall him being. His eyes were constantly flitting from one object to another, unable to find something to garner his attention long enough to distract his mind from what he was about to undertake. A heavy knock at the oak door reverberated through the small chamber, pulling Lucius from his musings.
"Shall I?" Severus was already on his feet and moving towards the door when the question was uttered.
"Thank you," Lucius murmured distractedly.
Severus opened the door a small way and surveyed the group of men outside the door with open distaste. "Yes?"
"Professor Snape, we wondered if we could see Draco for a moment?" Bill asked politely.
"Can't it wait until after the ceremony?"
"Not really, you see we have something for him," Charlie explained.
Severus eyed the six men cautiously. He didn't trust them at all and he didn't feel the need to hide his feelings.
"It's a gift," Harry added when the old Potions Master didn't move aside.
"It can't wait," Fred claimed.
"Tradition some might say," George assured him.
"Come on, Professor, we just want five minutes of our brother-in-law's time," Bill pleaded.
"Very well, you have five minutes." Severus stepped forward to stop any of the men entering just yet. They would hear him out if they wanted access to Draco. "But let me assure you, if you do anything detrimental to my godson I will not hesitate in seeking retribution."
Ron gave Severus a look that clearly indicated he thought the man was a little insane as he passed through the door. "Do you really think we're that stupid?"
"No offence, Professor, but you'd be the least of our worries if we dared," Harry stated in an amused voice.
Charlie patted his colleague on the shoulder as he made his way past. "Yeah, Mum would kill us if we did anything now."
"Then she'd revive us," Fred claimed.
George followed closely behind his twin. "So Ginny could kill us again."
"And that's not considering what our wives would do to us!" Bill shook his head as if trying to rid himself of a frightening image.
Fred sighed soulfully. "There just wouldn't be enough of us left."
"For you to have any fun with," George finished.
Severus scowled at the group of men. They thought his threat was a joke, but they'd be in for a very rude shock if they dared to upset Draco at this point. As they were in a closed room, he was sure he could arrange for there not to be enough of them left for the Weasley matriarch or any other Weasley to have any fun with before anyone was aware of what was going on.
Draco stared at the men entering his safe haven with open horror. He didn't want to be dealing with this lot now. Not when he couldn't think straight, let alone form intelligent replies to anything they might want to know.
Bill smiled warmly. "Draco, how are you feeling?"
"Good." Draco tried to smile, but felt the falseness of the gesture himself.
Charlie winked in good humor at him. "Yeah, sure you are."
"He forgets we've all been through it." Fred dropped into an overstuffed chair and made himself comfortable.
George's arm slipped around his youngest brother's shoulders only to be pushed off immediately. "Except for ickle Ron."
"Time is ticking gentlemen," Severus reminded them sternly.
"Yeah, of course. Look we thought we'd give you this before you take the plunge and marry our sister." Charlie held out a small parcel wrapped in gold paper with a bright red ribbon.
"What is it?" Draco asked uneasily.
"Open it and see for yourself," Bill urged.
Draco cautiously removed the wrapping. He flushed slightly when he saw his green satin boxers lying in his hands. "Umm—"
"No need to thank us, mate." Harry clapped Draco on the back.
George grinned nefariously at him. "We thought you might need them."
"Don't want to be getting married without your underwear, mate. Might catch a chill," Fred advised with mock gravity.
"We thought it might be the last time we could get you like this," Bill admitted.
"So, of course, we couldn't resist." Fred's face broke into a broad smile.
"And next time don't leave your boxers in our sister's room," Charlie whispered into his ear.
George made a show of dabbing at his eyes to remove the nonexistent tears. "Look, he's speechless."
"Where did you find them?"
"Ginny's old room," Harry supplied.
"You left them behind this morning," Ron grumbled. He wasn't happy Draco had vanished from the kitchen just as Molly was warming up; it effectively spoiled his morning's entertainment.
"No." Draco shook his head vehemently. "We searched for them. We couldn't find them anywhere."
"So you never considered using the door?" Bill eyed the blond wizard with amusement.
"No! Not with you lot arriving."
"Well, had you considered leaving the house via conventional methods you'd have found them hanging on the door handle," Bill told him slowly so he wouldn't miss a word.
Draco looked at the men incredulously. "The door handle?"
"Yeah, and we don't want to know how they got there," Ron snarled.
"Or we'd have to kill you," Charlie reminded him.
"Nothing personal, you understand," Fred said with a feral grin.
George shrugged complacently. "We'd just have to."
"I think we've had this discussion before." Draco looked at each of them and sighed heavily.
"Never hurts to refresh your memory," Bill pointed out.
Charlie smirked. "Just in case you forgot."
"Besides we've only got one sister," Fred muttered.
George looked almost woebegone, as he uttered, "We don't get to do this all that often."
"Look, are we going to have this discussion every time I shag your sister?" Draco ran a hand over his face. He knew there was no point in mentioning the pending nuptials that would bind him to their sister forever.
"Only if we find out about said shag," Bill assured him.
"Or if she seems as though she's been shagged," Charlie reasoned.
"And how would you tell?" Draco enquired incredulously.
"You know, unreasonably smiley," Ron offered.
"Dreamily content." Bill smirked.
"But, of course, if you make her miserable we'll kill you," Fred stated seriously.
"So if she's happy you'd deem her to have been shagged and you'll kill me, but if she's not smiling you'd deem her to be miserable with me and kill me?"
Bill smiled brightly. "That about covers it!"
"This one's a bright boy." Charlie tossed his head in Draco's direction.
"I can't win with you lot," Draco exclaimed exasperatedly.
"Nope," George answered without hesitation.
"No point even trying," Fred advised.
"Either way you're a dead man," Charlie announced casually.
Draco smirked at them. It suddenly became clear to him that they hadn't thought through this whole killing business. "Did it occur to any of you that if you killed me your sister would be miserable?"
The boys all looked at one another, frowning and making whispered comments.
"You know, I think he may have a point," Bill acknowledged.
"Gin would be miserable without the blond git," Ron admitted begrudgingly.
Fred frowned as if in deep thought. "She'd put us through hell too."
"Before she killed us," George added.
"Maybe we should let him live?" Charlie suggested.
"You know that goes against everything we stand for," Ron said strongly.
"A little compromise and we get to live?" Charlie rephrased.
"Well, I suppose we should think about the pain and suffering," Bill broached.
"Just think about it for a moment. If we let him live then we'll get to torment him for the rest of his life," Charlie stressed.
Fred grinned humorously. "Can't say there's not some appeal in that."
"Free entertainment, whenever we want," George mused.
Charlie looked around at the other men. "So what's it to be boys? All those in favor of letting him live?"
Five deep "aye's" rang through the room.
"Congratulations, mate. We're going to let you live." Charlie grinned broadly at a flabbergasted Draco.
"Well, say thank you!" Ron demanded.
Fred shook his head in disgust. "You'd think he'd be grateful."
"At the very least," George agreed.
"Time, gentlemen," Severus interrupted. He'd let them go over their five minutes, purely because they seemed to have diverted Draco's attention away from the pending ceremony with their nonsense, but now time was growing short and he would need a few minutes to compose himself before walking out to face the guests.
"No problem, Professor." Bill smiled at Draco in a friendly way. "We don't have to tell you to look after her, because we know you will, especially after risking death by nattering this morning just to see her. Welcome to the family, mate!"
All the men filed past offering words of encouragement and welcoming him to the family before they took their leave. Harry was the last to approach him and he waited until the Weasley men were clear of the doorway before he spoke.
"You know you'll never find another family more willing to accept people for who they are and not what they would like them to be. The Weasleys are good people. They're like family to me in more ways than I can count. The boys might threaten you occasionally, but most of the time they're only joking. The point is they love their sister very much and they want to see her happy. You make her happy and they'll do anything to make sure they don't upset things for you, even if it means swallowing their pride. Anyway, good luck and welcome to the family, Malfoy."
"Thanks, Potter," Draco uttered as he shook the man's hand. What Harry had just told him wasn't anything he didn't already know or suspect, but the heartfelt way in which he'd conveyed the words made it all the more real.
"Just remember to breathe during the ceremony." Harry winked and left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.
"What did they give you?" Lucius enquired curiously. He'd hung back during the visit, watching vigilantly for any sign of genuine disconcert from Draco.
Draco cleared his throat and held up the gift for his father's inspection. "My boxers. I couldn't find them this morning."
"Firewhisky?" Severus handed Lucius a goblet and held Draco's out to him.
"No thanks, Uncle Sev. Ginny will kill me if she smells it on my breath."
"Draco, you are allowed one to calm your nerves. Some would say it's almost traditional," Lucius intoned with a smirk.
"All right, I guess one couldn't hurt." Draco accepted the goblet, sipping the fiery liquid gratefully.
The men spoke on inconsequential subjects while waiting for the time to tick over. Though Draco seemed a lot calmer than he was before the visit from Ginny's brothers, it was important to Lucius to keep his attention away from what he was about to embark upon. Another bout of fidgety nervousness might just be the end of him. They passed through subject after subject, keeping the conversation moving forward and expressly requesting Draco's input each time a question was posed or he looked like he was beginning to drift into his own musings.
"Draco," Lucius breathed more than articulated as his head imperceptibly nodded towards the door.
Draco knew who it had to be and he forced a tense smile onto his face before turning around. "Mother."
"My darling boy." Narcissa sighed breathily as she swept across the room to embrace him.
"Mother, can we do away with the dramatics?"
A warning look from Lucius stilled his son's tongue. He knew his wife would be somewhat emotional today and he knew Draco would have to deal with quite a portion of her tears. In hindsight, he should have warned his son to be prepared, but it was too late now.
"You're getting married. My baby boy is getting married."
"You look so handsome in your robes." Narcissa patted his chest lovingly. "She's a very lucky witch to have captured your heart."
"I'm sure Ginny realizes that, Mother," Draco agreed quietly. After the look his father had sent him he didn't want to disagree with anything she said. If the truth were to be known, it was he who thought himself lucky to have captured Ginny's heart.
"I just can't believe it... It doesn't seem all that long ago that you were a babe in arms," Narcissa whispered as tears began to fall down her face.
"Mother, I'm getting married not dying."
"It's an end of an era for me and a beginning of a new one for you. Giving your heart to one person is a most important step in your life, one you'll never forget."
"Yes, Mother. I'm sure the day will be memorable."
"Narcissa, it's almost time to take our seats," Lucius interrupted gently, offering a handkerchief at the same time.
"Of course, we can't be seen to be holding up proceedings." Narcissa dabbed delicately at her eyes with Lucius' handkerchief.
Draco kissed Narcissa's cheek in the hope his father might draw her out of the room.
"My boy." She sighed as her hand stroked his cheek tenderly.
Draco's eyes met his father's in a fleeting, but pleading glance.
"Narcissa, it's time, dearest." Lucius gently pulled her away from Draco and turned her in the direction of the door. He turned back briefly to embrace his son. "We'll see you out there."
"Thank you, Father."
Severus waited until Lucius and Narcissa had moved closer to the door before speaking quietly, "Draco, you have come a long way. As your godfather, I can honestly say I've never been prouder of you than I am at this minute."
"Thanks, Uncle Sev." Draco smiled warmly at his godfather. He was a man of few words and even less when the words were demonstrative, but there were times, such as this, when he could always be relied upon to show his support and love.
The door opened and Greg Goyle slipped quietly into the room. "They're almost ready."
"Thanks, Greg. Where's Drake?"
The little boy stepped out from behind Goyle. "I'm here, Daddy."
"Good, can't do this without you, can we?"
"We'll leave you to it then," Lucius intoned. "Drake, you will behave."
Drake rolled his eyes exaggeratedly towards the ceiling. He'd been reminded countless times to behave during the ceremony by members of his family. Lucius had spoken to him several times already that day and he was just a little tired of hearing the same thing over. "Yes, Grandfather."
"A little less attitude and we'll all be happy, young man," Lucius growled lightly.
"Yeah," Drake muttered to the floor.
"Excuse me? I didn't quite catch your reply."
Drake sighed affectedly. "Yes, Grandfather."
"Good. Remember I'll be watching you."
"I know," Drake responded with barely concealed impatience.
"Father, I think we can leave it there otherwise we may all be late for the ceremony," Draco interrupted. He knew both of them could go on for hours like this and he really wasn't in the mood to see the situation escalate.
"Very well," Lucius replied curtly.
Blaise walked in as Lucius and Narcissa left. He closed the door behind himself and surveyed his blond friend closely. "Are you ready for this?"
"As I'll ever be."
"No second thoughts?"
"You're sure? We brought Polyjuice Potion with us just in case." Blaise watched his old friend's face transform into an expression of horror as he caught on to what he'd suggested. Unable to control themselves the two groomsmen burst into amused laughter. "Just joking, mate."
Draco smiled at them. He should have known they'd try something; after all he was guilty of the same conduct when Blaise married.
"So, how are you really feeling?"
"It'll pass, mate. Believe me, as soon as you see her everything else will just cease to exist," Blaise said genuinely.
"Yeah, I hope so."
"Trust me! Greg, you want to check what's going on out there?" Blaise and Greg had discussed how they would handle their obviously nervous friend that morning. As Blaise had already been through what Draco was going through, it had been decided that he was the better of the two to help him and Greg would merely take care of the formalities.
"Yep, best we keep a close eye out." Greg paused in his mission when Drake followed him across the room. "Drake, stay in here. The last thing you want is ladies' slobbering all over you."
"Dressed like you are, they wouldn't be able to help themselves," Greg advised the little boy as he cracked the door open and stuck his head into the ballroom.
Most of the guests had taken their seats and were waiting expectantly for the ceremony to begin. Professor Dumbledore was chatting amiably with Professor Snape when he spied Greg in the doorway.
"Just a few more minutes, Mr. Goyle, and we'll be ready for our groom," Dumbledore called across the room.
"Thanks, Professor." Greg closed the antechamber door again and turned to face his nervous friend. "Just a couple of minutes and we're out there. Any last requests?"
"A bucket?" Draco said half seriously.
"Just breathe, mate." Blaise slapped Draco on the back as he crossed to the table holding the bottle of firewhisky Severus had opened earlier.
"You remember how? In and out, in and out," Greg instructed humorously.
Blaise shoved a shot glass into Draco's hand and passed one to Greg. "Here get this into you."
"I've already had one."
"Well you have to have another, because we haven't toasted your good fortune." Blaise smirked and raised his own small glass to the ceiling. "I never thought I'd be doing this for you, but good luck, mate. May you find every happiness with your beautiful wife and children."
"Here, here," Greg boomed.
The three men tipped their glasses back and drained the fiery contents within seconds.
A carefully cleared throat from the doorway announced they were not alone. "Draco, it's time," Severus proclaimed with gravity.
Draco exhaled heavily and looked at each of the men in the room, his eyes landing last on his son. "Let's go get married!"
With more confidence than he truly felt, Draco led the men of his bridal party out to the center of the ballroom. The room was packed with people, all waiting to witness his taking of a wife. It was a scene that didn't do a lot to calm his nerves. He smiled at his parents and at the members of Ginny's family he could see. They lined up in front of Professor Dumbledore — Draco with Drake just in front of him, Greg and then Blaise. Ginny had insisted on having the children close to them as they vowed their eternal love for one another.
Professor Dumbledore surveyed the men with calm smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. "Draco, you're looking splendid this afternoon."
"Thank you, Professor."
"And, young Drake, are you ready to perform the ring ceremony, young man?"
A movement at the top of the staircase garnered Dumbledore's attention and the old wizard's eyes drifted lazily up to the landing. Draco noticed his former Head Master's attention waver from Drake and his head snapped up to the doors at the head of the stairs. Two servants were standing in front of the oak doors. The doors that were hiding Ginny, she was up there waiting to make her grand entrance. He could feel her.
"Ah, I think we are ready to begin." Dumbledore regarded Draco for a moment before adding quietly, "Take a deep breath, Mr. Malfoy."
Draco's gaze didn't waver. It remained on those closed doors, wishing them to open and at the same time dreading the moment they did. His heart was beating so hard he wondered briefly if the guests could hear it or if it would just hammer right through his chest and fall onto the floor for all to see.
Drake reached up and tugged on his father's robes impatiently. "Daddy, is Mummy coming?"
"Shh, any moment," Draco replied in a strangled whisper. His eyes had not left the doors at the top of the staircase.
As the doors began to drift slowly open music filled the ballroom. Every person in the ballroom craned their necks to get a glimpse of the bride and her attendants. Draco's heart stopped.
Ginny listened as the outer doors of the suite clicked shut. She breathed a sigh of relief and allowed herself to relax for a moment. It had been a hectic day thus far and she'd only just managed to get dressed. Between getting her hair done, having her makeup expertly applied and eating lunch, she'd not had a minute to herself. It was a blessing that Angel had demanded Molly helped her with her dress, if nothing more than to give Ginny a moment to think and clear her mind. She knew she wouldn't have long, but five minutes to breathe alone would be wonderful. Pansy and Hermione would be just about finished dressing themselves and would more than likely join her again as soon as they were ready.
She absently fingered the delicate diamonds hand sewn into her gown and her thoughts drifted to all that had happened since that day she'd arrived home to find Draco sitting in the kitchen drinking tea with her mother. So much had come about in such a short time. It all seemed so surreal, even now standing here in her wedding gown.
"Miss Ginny, Millie has something for you. Master says Millie has to deliver now right to you."
So lost in her thoughts, Ginny hadn't heard the servant enter the room and started a little when she'd spoken. "Thank you, Millie," Ginny said as she took the offered box from the servant's outstretched hands. Her mind began to churn. Master could mean Draco. Had the servants already begun to refer to him as their master in lieu of Lucius? Or was Lucius still the master of Malfoy Manor until after the ceremony?
There was really only one way to find out. With slightly trembling fingers, she removed the delicate paper and slipped off the lid of the satin covered box. On a bed of fine tissue paper was the most exquisite orchid bloom she'd ever seen. She found a card tucked into the side of the box and flipped it open.
A Malfoy always gets what she wants.
Though she was smiling, a silent tear ran down her face. She doubted Lucius had any idea just what this simple gesture meant to her. For all the horrific things she knew him to be capable of, he could be very thoughtful when it mattered. This was something that surprised her greatly and, not for the first time, the notion that she would never quite understand the man beneath the façade occurred to her. She would never underestimate him again, especially when it came to family and the emotions connected to such relationships.
"Is Miss Ginny all right?" Millie enquired nervously.
"Yes, yes I'm fine, Millie."
"If Miss is certain."
"Yes, you can return to your duties."
Millie bowed low before popping out of the room and Ginny returned to gazing at the perfect bloom. In minutes there was a light tap at the door and Bill stepped in before Ginny could frame a reply.
"You all right, Gin?"
She quickly wiped away her tears — a move not missed by her oldest brother. "Of course, why wouldn't I be?"
Bill closed the door quietly behind him and moved to stand in front of her. "The house elf said you were crying."
"Millie shouldn't have said anything. I'm fine."
"You don't cry for nothing."
"She said you were."
"I mean, I wasn't crying for nothing and they weren't sad tears."
Bill eyed her cautiously. He had never understood women and probably never would. "If they weren't sad tears, what were they?"
"Happy tears." Ginny smiled softly at her oldest brother.
"Okay," Bill answered warily. He'd come across alleged happy tears before and still wasn't positive he understood what exactly they were. He wished Fleur were close by so she could deal with Ginny and her happy tears. "So why are you crying happy tears?"
Ginny held the box so Bill could see the orchid within.
"It's a flower."
"Yeah, okay...an orchid."
"We couldn't get them for the wedding, but Lucius was thoughtful enough to send me one."
"Yes. I know, it was unexpected, but at least he thought of me."
"Yeah, I suppose." Bill didn't know whether this was a good thing or not. Ginny appeared to think it was, so he wasn't about to argue with her, especially not when she still had tears in her eyes. "So you're not having any second thoughts?"
"Nope, none at all."
"Good." Bill grinned at her in relief. "Because, if I had to try and sneak you out of here I'd probably get lost."
Ginny laughed lightly at her brother's admission. "I'm fine. This is what I want."
"I'd hate to think you were just going through with it for the twins' sake."
"Not at all. I really can't imagine spending my life with anyone else."
"Bill?" Charlie called from the door. "Wow! Look at you! Gin, you look gorgeous."
"So you all ready?"
"Charlie!" Molly bustled in through the doors. "For goodness sake, I send you in here to get Bill and you end up nattering. Go on, both of you get yourselves downstairs."
"Yes, Mum." The two men answered in unison. Both embraced their sister carefully and told her again how lovely she looked before they wandered out under the watchful eye of their mother.
"Right is there anything you need to do?"
"No, I'm ready, Mum."
"Good. What's that you're holding? Did Bill give you something?"
"No, it's an orchid." Ginny showed her mother the perfect bloom. "From Lucius."
Molly peered into the box. "How thoughtful."
"It was, wasn't it?"
"Well, your father will be in here soon, so I'll just pop the flower over here."
"No. Mum, can you help me attach it to my bouquet?"
"Ginny, it'll look out of place."
"I don't care. I want to have it with me."
"All right then. I'll see what I can do." Molly took the box with the flower and bustled over to the table where the bouquets were sitting on stands. A few minutes later after much muttering of charms, she'd attached the orchid to the stem of the largest bouquet.
"Mummy! Isn't my dress beautiful?" Angel twirled into the room. Her temper tantrum over the dress long forgotten.
Ginny smiled lovingly at her daughter. "Yes, Angel, it's very beautiful."
"I'm going to be the prettiest witch at the wedding!"
"Of course you are, sweetheart."
Hermione and Pansy smiled at the little girl's antics. All morning they'd been hearing Angel tell anyone who would listen how she was going to be the most beautiful witch in attendance today. No one had dared to disagree with the little strawberry blonde nor had they pointed out that her mother was supposed to be the center of attention on her wedding day.
"Angel, stand still or you'll fall and ruin your dress," Molly instructed sternly. "Arthur, there you are!"
"Molly, calm down." Arthur smiled at his wife. It wasn't likely that she'd pay attention to his words, not now that she was so worked up, but he had at least made a token effort. "We'll give you enough time to get downstairs before we start out."
"Where are the boys?" Molly demanded.
"They're all in the ballroom waiting for you to join them." At least he hoped they'd all be in the ballroom by the time Molly got down there. In truth, he couldn't locate any of his sons before he came upstairs. "Now where did that house elf go?"
"House elf?" Ginny queried.
"To escort your mother downstairs," Arthur clarified. "It seems to have vanished."
"Millie," Angel bellowed. She was quickly rewarded with the servant popping into the room and gave her granddad a broad smile. "There she is!"
"Yes, little Miss."
"Millie, can you show my mother to the ballroom and come back when she is seated?" Ginny asked politely.
"Yes, Miss." Millie bowed low to the floor. "This way Mrs."
"Oh, Ginny." Molly embraced her daughter tightly. "I'm so very happy for you."
"Thanks, Mum. I'll see you down there."
"Yes, yes, of course."
All fell silent when Molly left the room. Ginny again lost herself in thoughts of what she was about to embark upon. Arthur spent the entire time gazing at his daughter in awe — this was so much different than seeing any of his boys make the step towards ultimate commitment. Even Angel seemed to be somewhat pensive for a few moments as she preened quietly in front of the mirrors. The silence was only broken when Millie popped back into the room.
"Miss' mother has been seated," Millie squeaked.
"Thank you, Millie." Ginny smiled warmly at the servant. "You may return to your duties."
"Are we ready then?" Arthur boomed.
"Angel, do you need to use the bathroom before we leave?" Ginny asked.
"I don't know about Angel, but I do!" Pansy was already on her way to the adjoining bathroom as she blurted out her statement.
"I think I might go again before we go down, too," Hermione said thoughtfully. "Angel, I'll help you in the bathroom sweetheart. We wouldn't want your dress to get crushed."
"But I don't need to go!"
"You can try, because we can't stop the ceremony if you suddenly want to go to the bathroom. You'll have to hang on."
Angel sighed pretentiously. "Okay, I'll try."
As soon as all the women were ready and last minute preening had been done, they were on their way to the ballroom doors. The walk seemed to be much shorter than Ginny remembered and before she knew it her bridesmaids were fussing over her gown. After making certain it was sitting right, Hermione kissed her cheek and gently lowered her veil. When everyone was in position, Ginny took a deep breath and waited for the doors to open.
Draco watched as his daughter stepped through the doors and stopped at the head of the marble staircase. He smirked as he watched her surveying everyone below with an air of superiority. She adored the attention. When her eyes lit upon him she smiled brightly and waved. Draco automatically raised his hand slightly in response; he was a little disturbed that it appeared a bit shaky.
"Daddy, I thought Mummy was coming," Drake said with irritation.
Greg leaned over and whispered in Drake's ear, "She is, little mate, but your sister and aunts come in first, then your mum."
Drake rolled his eyes and sighed affectedly. All this waiting was getting very tiresome and he was expected to behave even though he was already bored to distraction.
When Angel was almost to the bottom of the staircase Pansy stepped up to the landing. She gazed around to catch Ron's eye before beginning her descent. The look that passed between the couple wasn't masked in any way. It was clear to all they shared a loving and passionate relationship.
Hermione paused only briefly on the top step before slowly making her way down the staircase one step at a time. Draco knew she would reach Dumbledore before the music would change and Ginny would appear. It was as if time slowed down. Hermione was taking forever to reach the top of the ballroom and take her position.
With a subtly that was hardly noticed by the groom the music changed to the bridal march. He was focused solely on the activity at the top of the staircase. His bride. In his humble opinion, she'd never looked so beautiful. He knew he'd never forget this moment — Ginny standing above everyone, on her father's arm, preparing to join him for the rest of their lives.
Her dress was exquisite, just as his mother had told him. From what he could see, her bodice cinched in tightly all the way down to sit low on her hips, accentuating her beautiful curves and full breasts. Her full skirt flowed over hoop petticoats and ended with a six-foot train of the finest silk. The fine gold embroidery that patterned the bodice tastefully was accentuated with tiny diamonds and over each shoulder a diamond encrusted strap sparkled when she moved. Along the hem of the skirt and train the same gold embroidered pattern followed, only on a larger scale. White opera length gloves went well past her elbows giving her a most sophisticated appearance. Draco had kept her jewelry simple, as per Narcissa's instructions, and he now saw why. Her dress didn't need anything to detract from its beauty. The simple diamond necklace and pear drop earrings set the gown off perfectly without being intrusive. A matching diamond tiara was propped on her head to secure her long veil in place. He was pleased to see she'd left her hair down, just the way he preferred her to wear it — cascading down her back in loose curls.
All of a sudden their eyes locked on one another and she smiled at him, then she was moving slowly towards him with carefully measured steps. The rest of the world ceased to exist at that very point in time. The only two people that mattered were Ginny and himself. With her every step closer to him his heart seemed to swell to the point where he thought it might burst. The loose snitches that had been plaguing his stomach since earlier in the day finally settled down and he smiled genuinely for the first time in hours.
When Arthur placed her hand in his, Draco heard him mutter something about looking after his little girl. He felt himself nod in acquiesce, but unable to tear his eyes away from the vision in front of him, Draco did not look at the other man. Ginny's soft eyes were twinkling at him through her veil and he felt himself sink into her depths. Nothing else mattered now except the woman in front of him and it wasn't until Professor Dumbledore cleared his throat purposely that Draco forced his gaze away from Ginny.
Dumbledore smiled at the couple before him and lifted his twinkling eyes to the audience. "Friends, we have been invited here today to share with Draco and Ginevra a most important moment in their lives. In the time they have been together their love and understanding of each other has grown and matured. Now they have decided to live their lives together as husband and wife." Dumbledore paused and redirected his gaze meaningfully at the couple. "Draco and Ginevra, nothing is easier than saying words and nothing harder than living them day after day. What you promise today must be renewed and re-decided tomorrow. At the end of this ceremony legally you will be man and wife, but you still must decide each day that stretches out before you that you want to be married. Real love is something beyond the warmth and glow, the excitement and romance of being deeply in love. It is caring as much about the welfare and happiness of your marriage partner as about your own. But real love is not total absorption in each other; it is looking outward in the same direction — together. Love makes burdens lighter, because you divide them. It makes joys more intense, because you share them. It makes you stronger so you can reach out and become involved with life in ways you dared not risk alone. Draco and Ginevra, do you freely and unreservedly, before these witnesses to give yourselves to each other in marriage?"
Rather than look at Dumbledore, Draco and Ginny looked into each other's eyes before responding together, "We do."
Dumbledore nodded wistfully at them and looked over their heads to Arthur Weasley. He'd been standing patiently behind his daughter for some time — not that Draco or Ginny were aware of his presence. "Who brings Ginevra to stand beside Draco?"
"I do," Arthur responded loudly.
"Wonderful! Now if Lucius, Narcissa and Molly could join Arthur." Dumbledore waited while the three he had summoned came to stand with the father of the bride. "Lucius and Narcissa, Arthur and Molly, are you willing, now and always to support and strengthen this marriage by upholding both Draco and Ginevra with your love and concern?"
"We are," the four responded in unison.
"Please be seated." With deliberateness, Dumbledore caught the attention of the twins. "Drake and Angelique, do you give your love to Daddy and Mummy, and your blessing to their marriage?"
Angel nodded wide-eyed at the old wizard and whispered, "Yes."
Drake grinned broadly. He was finally allowed to say something, even if it was just one word. "Yep!" Several cleared throats from the first two rows of guests caused the little boy's face to harden. Drake rolled his eyes to the ceiling in an exaggerated gesture and let out a loud irritated sigh. "Yes, Professor."
"Thank you," Dumbledore replied with a small chuckle. "Draco and Ginny, if you could face each other and join hands to vow your commitment to each other."
Ginny passed her bouquet to Hermione and turned to face Draco. Her hands slipped into his with ease and their eyes locked. They didn't need words to assure each other of their commitment and feelings. Their eyes were clear windows to their souls and their devotion to each other couldn't have been expressed more clearly.
"Draco, if you'd like to go first," Dumbledore said quietly.
"I, Draco Lucius Malfoy, affirm my love to you, Ginevra Molly Weasley, as I invite you to share my life. I promise always to respect your needs. I will endeavor through kindness, unselfishness and trust to achieve the warm rich life we now look forward to. To this end, I call upon all present to witness that I take you, Ginevra, to be my lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live."
"Ginny, your turn," Dumbledore prompted after several seconds of silence.
"I, Ginevra Molly Weasley, affirm my love to you, Draco Lucius Malfoy, as I invite you to share my life. I promise always to respect your needs. I will endeavor through kindness, unselfishness and trust to achieve the warm rich life we now look forward to. To this end I call upon all present to witness that I take you, Draco, to be my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live."
"Lovely. All present have heard you vows and all stand as witnesses to your promises." Dumbledore leaned forward and whispered so only the bridal party could hear him, "Are you ready, young man?"
Drake nodded. This was the moment he'd been waiting for all day.
"Draco, what token do you give of the vows you have made?"
"A ring." Draco looked expectantly to his best man.
Greg fumbled inside his robes, cursing the fact that he'd actually taken the ring out of its box when it slipped from between his fingers for the umpteenth time. With a triumphant smirk he finally pulled his hand from his pocket and held the ring up for all to see.
Draco let out a relieved breath. For a moment he had thought that his friend had lost his token of love.
A silver tray hovered in front of the best man.
"If you will, Gregory." Dumbledore nodded as Greg placed the ring in the center of the tray. "Ginevra, what token do you give of the vows you have made?"
"A ring." Ginny turned to Hermione, who already had Draco's ring in her hand ready to place on the tray.
"Wonderful!" Dumbledore exclaimed. "Drake, if you would perform the charm please."
Drake extracted his wand from its sheath and beamed up at his father. The incantation flowed off his tongue without hesitation and the wedding rings hovered perfectly before Professor Dumbledore. The old Headmaster added his own charm. The rings seemed to weave together to form one and then part again.
"We ask the deities to bless these rings; that they might be symbols of an unending love; that they might be a sign to the world of the promises made here today; and that they might remind Draco and Ginevra of each other when they are apart." As Dumbledore intoned the blessing, the rings hovered just above his head and when he finished they landed gently on the silver tray without so much as a chink.
The tray came to hover between the couple. Draco took Ginny's ring in his right hand. He held her left hand with his and slid her wedding ring onto her finger. "Ginevra, this ring I give you is my personal gift and my personal promise, of love and trust, and pride that you are my wife."
Ginny reached forward and plucked Draco's ring from the tray, but harshly whispered "Protego" from behind her made her swing around. Lucius had his wand out and he was glaring at Drake.
"Sheath that wand now!" Lucius growled in a low voice.
Drake looked positively terrified as he slipped the wand back into the holster on his side. He hadn't meant for anything to happen, he'd just been waving the wand around and a blue light had flown from the tip.
"Disaster averted," Dumbledore announced once Drake's wand was safely on his hip again. "Ginny, why don't you continue?"
Ginny took a deep breath as she held Draco's left hand in hers and slid the ring onto his finger. "Draco, this ring I give you is my personal gift and my personal promise, of love and trust, and pride that you are my husband."
"Draco and Ginevra have declared before all present that they will live together in marriage. They have made sacred promises to each other and symbolized them by the joining of hands, and exchanging of rings. It gives me great pleasure to pronounce you husband and wife."
"Is it over?" Drake asked eagerly. Escape was the only thing on his mind at the moment. He needed to get as far away from Grandfather as possible.
"Not quite, young man," Dumbledore intoned gently. "We still have to ask the deities to bless your parents."
Drake rolled his eyes. "Do we have to?"
"Yes, we have to, but we are nearly finished." Dumbledore winked at the small boy as he sighed heavily again. "Draco and Ginny, if you'd like to kneel before me we'll get this over and done with so young Drake doesn't sigh himself into unconsciousness."
Draco frowned at his son. He knew he was more than likely bored to death with proceedings, but he'd been warned to behave himself innumerable times that morning. Draco could also hear Lucius' displeasure — he'd given up on the carefully cleared throat before Drake had decided to try his hand at some extra magic and taken to growling whenever Drake looked to be getting too fidgety. All he could do for now was to hope that his son behaved for the remainder of the ceremony and have a word to him later about his impatience. He assisted Ginny to kneel then gracefully dropped to his knees.
Draco tried to focus on the blessing Professor Dumbledore was giving them, but sniggers from behind him were most distracting. He fought the urge to turn around and tell those inconsiderate prats to shut up so he could at least hear the blessing of the deities. The sniggering continued and carefully cleared throats were added to the background noise.
Draco leaned ever so slightly over to his best man. "Greg, what's going on?"
Greg shrugged and leaned backwards as discreetly as he could. When he noticed an amused smirk on Lucius Malfoy's face he knew something was amiss and very surreptitiously inspected the view the audience had of Draco. His eyes began at the top of Draco's head and wandered down quickly as he found nothing to be concerned about. Draco's robes were as pristine as they'd been in the antechamber and he'd not grown a tail or anything else just as hideous. Greg's gaze dropped to his friend's shoes and what he discovered caused him to bite down on his tongue to keep from laughing aloud. Two letters had been charmed onto the soles of each of Draco's black dragon hide shoes. The left shoe had the letters "H" and "E". The right completed the message with "L" and "P". Given the letters were bright white Greg had no doubt that they could be seen by most of the guests present.
"Well?" Draco hissed.
"Everything's fine, mate," Greg assured him in a strangled whisper. He couldn't look his friend in the eye for fear of laughing in his face. He couldn't exactly tell Draco the problem right now, so it would have to wait until after the ceremony.
Draco returned to trying to concentrate on the words being said over them. Before long he found himself standing up again and assisting Ginny to her feet. Hermione quietly arranged Ginny's dress again so that the view from the back was perfect. Dumbledore continued his sermon, this time talking of the commitment of marriage. Fragments floated into Draco's ears, but none really stayed with him. His thoughts were already turning to the rest of their lives and how happy they were going to be together. He started a little when he realized the old Professor was staring directly at him.
Professor Dumbledore's eyes twinkled with mischief as he leaned forward slightly and almost whispered, "You may kiss your bride, Draco."
With great care, Draco lifted Ginny's veil. When she smiled up at him her cinnamon eyes twinkled and his stomach flipped over in a most pleasant way. He cupped her face gently with one hand and claimed her lips. The words his father had spoken this morning about the public display he would be putting on for all to see slipped from his mind — something about not snogging her to death, but ensuring his feelings were conveyed in that one kiss. With only the woman he was now married to in his thoughts, he sought permission to deepen their union and ignored the abruptly cleared throat from his father.
Somewhere below them Draco could hear Angel giggling lightly and Drake huffing impatiently. Behind them Lucius was clearing his throat with growing intolerance and Draco thought he may even strain a vocal cord if he continued. He grinned against Ginny's mouth, not quite ready to relinquish her lips just yet.
"Are they going to come up for air today?" Blaise whispered.
"Who knows?" Greg replied quietly. "Maybe he's learned to breathe through his ears."
The whispered conversation between his groomsmen was too much for Draco and he burst out laughing.
Professor Dumbledore cleared his throat gently and smiled down at the newlyweds. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Draco Malfoy."
Amid the polite applause there were a few cheers and whistles. They stood for only a few moments before making their way between the seating to the doors. As soon as they were clear of the ballroom, Draco led the bridal party to a parlor in the family section of the house. They would get a few minutes to collect themselves before heading out into the gardens for photographs while the ballroom was transformed for the reception.
Draco gathered his new wife in his arms as soon as they were through the doors, causing the rest of the bridal party to have to step around them. "We did it."
"Yes, we did." Ginny's giggle was muffled when Draco's mouth crashed down on hers.
Blaise gently encouraged the newlyweds to take a few steps further into the room so he could close the doors behind him.
"They're snogging again!" Drake said exasperatedly.
"That's not snogging, mate. Your dad's just practicing breathing through his ears," Blaise informed him with a wink.
"Wish he'd just breathe normal," Drake muttered.
"Come on, we'll get you some pumpkin juice and a snack before we go out for photographs." Blaise draped his arm around Drake's shoulders and led the scowling little boy to the other side of the room. He didn't think Draco was going to relinquish his bride any time soon, so it seemed better to remove his mouthy son from earshot.
Greg had headed straight for the refreshments set on an occasional table in the corner. He poured the adults a glass of champagne each and the children some pumpkin juice. The tiny sandwiches on the table were tempting his appetite, but he knew if he took just one he wouldn't be able to stop until the plates were empty.
Hermione and Pansy had made themselves comfortable on a chaise lounge after ensuring all the bouquets were placed safely on a table, out of the way for the time being. Pansy had taken it upon herself to loosen Ginny's grip on her flowers from her hand at the back of Draco's neck — a task that proved easier than it should have. Angel didn't take long to join the women and begin chattering about all the people who had been looking just at her during the ceremony.
Blaise wandered over and handed Angel a glass of pumpkin juice. "Make sure you don't spill that down yourself, little one."
"Mr. Zabini, don't you think I look beautiful today?" Angel's tone was casual, but the look in her eye was daring him to disagree with her.
"Of course you do; prettiest witch in the ballroom." Blaise winked at her playfully.
"Ah, you're still here," Lucius intoned as he entered the parlor, closely followed by Narcissa, Arthur and Molly. He stopped in front of Draco and Ginny, but if they were aware of his presence they'd shown no sign.
"They haven't surfaced for air since we got in here," Greg informed the group.
"Yes, well there's no time like the present." Lucius lifted his snakehead cane and tapped his son sharply on the shoulder. "Draco, I think there is time enough for that behavior after the celebration."
Draco looked up at his parents and in-laws with a silly grin plastered on his face. "Just getting in some practice."
"Ginny dear, the service was beautiful," Molly gushed as she moved forward and almost tore her daughter from Draco's arms to embrace her.
"It was, wasn't it?"
"I can't believe it. You're a married woman now." Molly dabbed at her eyes with an already sodden handkerchief. "I'm so happy for you."
Arthur forced his way through and hugged his daughter. "Ginny, you look amazing."
"Thanks, Dad." Ginny smiled. Her father had told her the same thing countless times on the walk from the suite where she dressed to the ballroom. He appeared to be incapable of normal conversation today.
Narcissa stroked her son's cheek lovingly. "Draco, I'm so very proud of you."
"Thank you, Mother." Draco kissed his mother's cheek and embraced her briefly, hoping that she wouldn't start weeping again.
Lucius quickly offered his hand to his son. "Congratulations, son."
"Thank you." Draco's smile evolved into a shocked expression as he spied Molly Weasley coming at him in a hurry with her arms outstretched.
"Draco, you look so handsome today."
"Thank you, Molly," Draco choked out as her arms tightened around his body.
"I'm so pleased the two of you decided to get married."
"Yeah, so am I." Draco tried to smile, but the woman was literally squeezing the air out of him.
"Molly, let the boy go," Arthur said when he noticed Draco was becoming breathless. As soon as Molly had stepped back Arthur thrust his hand forward. "Draco, now I can officially welcome you to the family."
"Thank you, Arthur."
"I know you'll look after them."
"Ginevra, you're a vision of perfection," Narcissa said sincerely before kissing Ginny on each of her cheeks.
"Thank you, Narcissa."
Lucius stepped forward and regarded his daughter in-law with a curious smile. She would make Draco a fine wife, of that he had no doubt. She was strong in character, like Narcissa, and now he saw she could look the part of a society wife when it was considered necessary. "Ginevra, I think Narcissa said it best — you are a vision of loveliness."
"Thank you, Lucius." Ginny moved closer and, much to his surprise, placed a chaste kiss on his cheek. "And thank you for the orchid... It... Well... I appreciated it so much."
"You are more than welcome."
Draco frowned in confusion. "Orchid?"
"Just a little gift I thought Ginevra may appreciate," Lucius said glibly. He didn't think it was necessary to make a scene over such a small gesture. "Now, where are my grandchildren?"
"We're here, Grandfather!" Angel struggled out of Hermione's grasp and ran to Lucius' open arms. "Aunt Hermione said we had to wait until you finished talking to Daddy and Mummy."
"It is the courteous thing to do in such circumstances."
Angel didn't want to talk about manners, not when there were compliments to be fished out of people. "Don't I look pretty, Grandfather?"
"You most certainly do, Angelique."
"I'm the prettiest witch at the wedding, aren't I?"
"With the exception of your mother, yes you are."
Angel's eyes opened wide and her mouth fell into a pout. She was the prettiest witch today, not Mummy. Of all people, Grandfather was the only one who hadn't agreed with her.
"Now, now, Angelique, there's no need to look like that. It's your mother's wedding day and it is her right to outshine every other witch in attendance." Lucius smirked. The likeness between Angelique and Narcissa was uncanny. Years of experience had taught him how to make amends quickly and he whispered into her ear, "Of course, it's impolite to say anyone is more beautiful than the bride, but you my dear are more beautiful than any other witch I've ever seen."
Her ego now fixed with his gentle words and her world put to rights, Angel's arms tightened around Lucius' neck and her smile reappeared.
"Drake, are you going to come over and say hello?" Narcissa cajoled softly.
The little boy wasn't looking forward to seeing his grandfather. He was sure he was going to get told off for playing with his wand and accidentally doing magic. He was also keenly aware that if he refused to greet his grandmother he'd get told off just as harshly. "Suppose."
Narcissa heard Lucius draw a deep breath in preparation to scold Drake and she rested her hand calmly on his arm to stay the berating. It had been a long day for the children already, and it wasn't even close to being over, and for the most part they'd both behaved exceptionally.
"You look so handsome in your dress robes, darling." Narcissa smiled happily at her small grandson. "Just like your grandfather."
Drake looked dismally up at the adults. All eyes were on him, so he swallowed his standard reply about his feelings on dress robes and kept quiet.
"Drake, you look wonderful all dressed up," Molly said enthusiastically. "Doesn't he, Arthur?"
"Yes, yes, he does," Arthur agreed absently. He wished for Drake's sake that the women would just leave the boy alone. It was clear he was tired and not very happy at the moment, and it was better just to let him be until he was ready to come around.
"Come, darling, did you have something to eat?" Narcissa held her hand out to Drake in an attempt to entice him to walk with her to the other side of the room.
"Narcissa, before Drake eats I think a little reminder about proper wand usage is in order," Lucius intoned seriously.
"Father, I'll take care of that before the photographer starts," Draco said.
"Are you sure you want to be dealing with such trivial matters today?"
"Yes. I'll have a word to him."
Narcissa hadn't waited for the men to decide whether Drake would receive his berating now or later. She'd led her grandson across the room and was assisting him in selecting a snack from the delicacies she'd had prepared for the bridal party. There was no doubt in her mind that the incident with the wand was a complete accident and as far as she was concerned there was no need for discipline, just a gentle reminder of where to keep your wand when it wasn't in use.
Blaise approached the parents of the bride and groom with a tray laden with glasses. "Champagne, anyone?"
"Lovely! Thank you, err— dear," Molly faltered slightly when she couldn't remember the groomsman's name.
"Blaise Zabini at your service." Blaise grinned broadly and bowed as far as the full tray would allow him.
"Resident comedian," Lucius muttered dryly. It had always baffled Lucius how Draco had become friends with Blaise Zabini, they were poles apart in personality and, when younger, beliefs. He plucked two glasses from the tray and crossed the room to Narcissa.
Lucius watched Blaise circulate with the tray and when everyone had a glass in their hand he carefully cleared his throat. "I believe it is my honor to offer the first toast. A happy marriage is still the greatest treasure within the gift of fortune. May all your tomorrows be as joyful as today. Draco and Ginevra."
"Draco and Ginevra," echoed through the room.
Draco had wrapped his arm around Ginny as soon as everyone's attention was diverted. They looked into each other's eyes as they sipped their champagne, oblivious to the other occupants in the room once more. Draco's head dipped and he caught Ginny's lips softly.
"Are you happy, Mrs. Malfoy?" Draco whispered.
"Incredibly so, Mr. Malfoy," Ginny responded quietly.
"So are you two going to join the rest of us or do you want us to amuse ourselves while you snog?" Greg called from the other side of the room.
Draco lifted his head and gave his best man a withering glare. "We're coming."
"Oh good, so you'll be joining us soon then," Blaise responded cheekily.
Draco reasserted his sardonic glare. The innuendo of his friend's response was not lost on him or the bridesmaids, given their self-conscious giggles. "I think we'd better go and be sociable before Blaise's mind becomes firmly entrenched in the gutter."
Ginny murmured her agreement. She knew her mother would begin summoning them over if they didn't move soon anyway.
After helping Ginny to sit comfortably, Draco stood beside her chair. He watched as she interacted with the other women, accepting their gushing compliments on her dress and the ceremony over and again. Her ring was shown off with pride to each woman in turn. A small smile tugged at Draco's mouth when Narcissa was admiring Ginny's outstretched hand as though she'd never seen such fine jewels before, even though an identical set of rings had sat comfortably on her left hand for some twenty-seven years. Pansy moved around behind Ginny and removed her veil carefully. Once the sheer fabric was free of the bride's head, Pansy deftly replaced Ginny's tiara.
"Gin, I might go have a word with Drake. He's looking a bit miserable," Draco whispered into her ear. Drake was sitting alone on the floor as far from the rest of the party as he could possibly get without leaving the room.
"Okay. Do you want me to come?"
"No, love, you relax."
"Don't be hard on him, all right?"
"I won't." Draco winked at his wife before making his way across the room. With no chairs close by, he decided to join his son on the floor and carefully dropped his frame down so he too was leaning against the wall. "Hey, mate. Are you doing okay?"
"You don't look very happy."
"I'm all right."
"If you insist." Draco observed his son quietly for a moment. He knew Drake was waiting his telling off for his performance during the ceremony and that was more than likely what was bothering him. "Do you think you can do something for me?"
"Can you keep your wand in its sheath?"
"Good boy. There's a lot of Ministry officials at the wedding and I don't want to have to take it off of you."
"I'll keep it in its holder. I promise."
"I trust you to keep your word."
"I'm sorry about—"
"It's all right, mate. Your grandfather blocked whatever it was that you cast, so there's no damage done."
"Actually, I think he was rather shocked." Draco smirked. "You did an awesome job of the ring ceremony."
"I did, didn't I?"
"I'm very proud of you. Not just anyone can get up in front of everyone and perform that charm as perfectly as you did."
"Yeah, really. You did good."
A servant quietly slipped into the room. She had been assigned to stay with the photographer for the duration of the day and ensure he didn't bother the bridal party when they wanted some time to themselves. As she approached Draco, she began to tremble in anticipation of his reaction.
"Master, photo-wizard is wanting to come in."
"Gin, love are you ready to do photos?"
"Yes, I suppose we should make a move. Perhaps Colin might like a drink before we go into the gardens?"
"We'll ask him." Draco winked across the room before turning his attention back to the creature groveling at his feet. "Bring him in."
"As Master wishes." The house elf scurried across the room and pulled the doors open, admitting Colin.
"Ginny, I know I said it earlier, but I have to tell you again — you look incredible!" Colin beamed at his friend openly. "You're going to love the photos I got of the ceremony!"
Colin had been at the manor since early morning and had been flitting about unobtrusively snapping away at anyone he came across. He'd taken rolls of film of the bridal party getting ready and of the guests arriving. While the bridal party had a few moments to themselves, he'd taken several rolls of film of the guests enjoying drinks in the gardens closest to the ballroom.
"Thanks, Colin. Would you like something to eat or drink before we go outside?"
"A pumpkin juice wouldn't go astray."
"I'll get it, Ginny," Blaise offered when the house elf didn't move.
"If you don't mind, I might get a couple of shots in here," Colin said cautiously. This was supposed to be a rest area for the bridal party and he didn't want to intrude. "Not for your album...just some informal ones for your own memories."
"Draco, do you mind?"
"If you're happy with that, love, I'm fine with it."
"Great! Just pretend like I'm not here," Colin exclaimed excitedly. He knew exactly what or rather who he wanted to line up first. Draco and Drake were sitting on the floor against the wall on the other side of the room. Whether they realized it or not, they were sitting in exactly the same position, with identical expressions on their faces. It was a perfect father/son moment.
After snapping a few shots of the two Malfoy wizards, Colin scanned the room with his camera to his eye looking for his next picture.
"Here you go." Blaise held out a glass of pumpkin juice to the photographer.
"If you're looking for something to snap, keep an eye on Mr. Malfoy and Angelique. I believe the little one may have melted the old boy's heart," Blaise said in a low whisper.
"Thanks, I'll do that." Colin backed himself into a corner and watched the group carefully. Before too long he found the shot Blaise had told him about — Angelique was stroking Lucius' cheek and the wizard was completely under the little girl's spell. He could see clearly through the lens that this man would give his life and then some for his granddaughter.
The banter between the occupants of the room was light and humorous, providing a lot of satisfying shots for Colin. In between the natural scenes of laughter there was a shot of Molly wagging a very determined finger at Lucius after he made a comment she didn't agree with. When Draco and Drake wandered over the little boy made himself comfortable by his grandmother's side. Pictures of her fussing over him just about wore Colin's finger out. After a while he allowed his camera to hang loosely around his neck and just observe the interaction of the people. He'd had his own reservations about Ginny's marriage, but from what he'd observed in this short time he could tell there was an abundance of love in both families.
So intent on watching the scene before him, Colin failed to notice Greg Goyle make his way quietly over to his corner.
"Are you right to get on with the photos?"
"Yeah, whenever they're ready."
"I think we should get things moving, otherwise they won't get a chance to have a break before the reception officially starts."
"I just want to get a couple of portrait shots before we head outside."
"No problem. I'll get everyone moving and you just let them know where you want them."
"I'll only need Draco, Ginny and the twins for these photos, so everyone else can start heading out."
"Okay." Greg quickly crossed the room and advised the party of the arrangements.
Within minutes the room had cleared and Colin was left alone with the newlyweds and their children. He went about setting up the photos around a particularly beautiful chaise lounge — Ginny on her own; then joined by Draco and then the children. There would be more opportunities at the reception to take photos of the couple inside the grand house, including a particular pose Draco had requested — it would mirror the portrait of his parents on their wedding day on the staircase in the ballroom.
When he was satisfied with what he had, Colin ushered the family outside to join the rest of the group. He had several places on the estate he wanted to visit, but he had been warned in no uncertain terms that a stop would be put to the session if Ginny became too tired. With that in mind he steered the group towards the lake first, it was the longest distance from the house and it would be easy to just stop from time to time on the walk back for more photos.
Two hours later the group returned to the house, relaxed and laughing. Colin was more than pleased with the shots he'd taken of the bridal party and most especially with the ones they weren't aware he'd taken. When Colin was concentrating on individual portraits of the attendants, Draco lay back on the grass and it didn't take long for Drake to start climbing all over him. The squeals of glee alerted the photographer to the scene and he was quick to capture the image forever.
A house elf reported to Draco the moment he stepped over the threshold of the house — the guests were being seated and the bridal party was expected in the ballroom in half an hour. Not wanting to come into contact with any of the guests just yet, Draco led the party up the back staircase to the upper levels of the house, where they could all freshen up before making their grand entrance.
When the bridal party appeared on the landing, the master of ceremonies was quick to take his position and cast a Sonorus on himself. "Ladies and Gentlemen, please be standing for the bridal party."
Drake and Angel led the way down the staircase, followed by Blaise and Pansy, then Greg and Hermione. Draco and Ginny paused at the top of the stairs, waiting until their attendants had reached their seats.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. and Mrs. Draco Malfoy."
Warm applause filled the room and they began their measured walk to the bridal table. Only after Draco had assisted Ginny into her seat, did the noise abate. He stood behind his chair and waited for his mother and mother in-law to be seated before taking his own chair.
After a few short words of welcome from the Master of Ceremonies, a sumptuous feast was served. Among the many courses the main meal consisted of different roast meats, including duck, turkey, beef, pork and lamb along with just about every type of vegetable anyone could imagine. General clatter of cutlery and polite conversation filled the ballroom for the time being. Dessert was distributed from many floating trays. When a servant reached Ron, his request that the entire dessert tray be left by his side could be heard from the main table. Of course, his request was denied, but he did manage to get himself two servings of dessert.
As soon as Draco and Ginny had finished eating, Colin crept up to the table. He suggested quietly that they take photographs for the portrait Draco had requested on the staircase while the guests were finishing their meals. It would be a lot easier for him as a photographer to take the shots while the staircase wasn't in use.
Along with the particular photograph Draco had requested, Colin put them through a few more poses while he had the time. When they noticed that almost all the guests had finished their dessert, Draco put a stop to the session. He would have to face his mother's wrath if the guests were left waiting too long just so they could satisfy a mere photographer.
"Ladies and gentlemen." Greg waited while everyone settled down before continuing. "For those who don't know me, I'm Greg Goyle and I have the honor of being best man today. The ceremony, I'm sure you'll all agree, had something for everyone — beauty, meaning, and comedy for those of us who could see Draco during the blessing. But first, credit must be paid where it is due — I believe this entire day was thrown together in six weeks, so to the two families: you've done a wonderful job of it and those of us enjoying the spoils really do appreciate your efforts." Greg paused to check his parchment as a smattering of polite applause for the families broke out.
"No one would dispute the fact that Ginny looks absolutely stunning today and of course, we can't forget Draco - well, he just looks stunned. I've known Draco since we were little kids and I could relay some very embarrassing memories I have of my friend, but I won't bore everyone with the details. Instead, I'll move on to the man the little devil became. Draco has always been a bit of a ladies man ever since we noticed that witches were, well, witches, and we can't forget those who've had their hearts broken today. All those witches sobbing into their pillows, because Draco Malfoy is officially off the market. Now, just because I'm a nice fellow, I'm prepared to sacrifice myself to allay some of the suffering. Mate, seeing as you're not going to need all those owl addresses anymore, I'm more than willing to take them off your hands and convey my deepest sympathies to each and every witch in your address book."
The ballroom roared with laughter and there were a few called offers to help Greg in his mission of comforting Draco's old girlfriends.
"The buck's night was a roaring success and I believe the roaring carried on the following day… Of course, there is some contention over whether the women telling the boys off can be counted as part of the night. As strange as it sounds, we all learned something new that night... You see, it's believed, by some, that Draco doesn't really show his emotions, well he certainly put those vicious rumors to rest in the early hours of the morning. Mind you, after witnessing the declarations of love between Draco and Ron Weasley, a lot of us would have preferred it if he'd kept his feelings to himself."
Ginny looked between her husband and brother incredulously. This is one pensive memory she had to see to believe. Ron and Draco were trying not to look at each other or anyone else for that matter. While neither could exactly recall the infamous happening, they'd been reminded of the incident, more times than they truly cared to remember, by those who were unfortunate enough to witness their drunken gibberish.
"On to the newlyweds! I can honestly say I can't think of a better woman for Draco than Ginny and I know this marriage will make Draco a better person. It will teach him consideration of others, self-control and sharing, and will develop in him a sense of fair play and many other useless qualities he wouldn't need if he remained single! In all seriousness, I never thought I'd be standing up here giving a speech at Draco's wedding. We all thought he was committed to bachelorhood for life, but of course, we never envisaged the lovely Ginevra walking back into his life or rather Mrs. Weasley dragging him into her kitchen." Greg tipped his glass towards the Weasley matriarch genially. When he'd heard the story of how Draco and Ginny found each other again, he couldn't help but imagine Molly Weasley dragging his friend into the house kicking and screaming, even though Draco assured him that wasn't the case. "In my endeavors to put together a reasonable oration for this evening, I spoke to several other people and they passed on some words of wisdom that I thought I might share with the newlyweds. Ginny, remember that men are like fine wine - they start out like grapes and it's your job to stomp all over them until they mature into something that you'd like to have dinner with! Draco, the best way to remember your anniversary is to forget it once!"
Again the ballroom erupted in laughter.
"On a sincere note, I'm sure everyone will agree they make a fantastic couple. They already have two great kids in Drake and Angel, and another on the way. I'm sure we'll see even more little Malfoys running around the manor in years to come. I'd like to thank Draco and Ginny for asking me to be their best man today, as it has indeed been a privilege. And finally, ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I ask you to be upstanding and raise your glasses in a toast to the bride and groom: the new Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy. We wish you both great happiness and all the very best in this new chapter in your new life together. May your love be modern enough to survive the times and old fashioned enough to last forever. To Draco and Ginevra."
Glasses were raised and the toast echoed around the room. When everyone had taken their seats again, Draco rose and cleared his throat lightly.
"Thank you, Greg. Remind me to hex you later for some of your more embarrassing comments. I don't want to bore you all with a long speech, so I'll keep to the necessities only. My beautiful wife and I would like to thank everyone for joining us today. We hope that our wedding is as memorable to you as it will be to us. Ginny and I would also like to thank our parents. Without their support and commitment, we wouldn't be here today. Greg was entirely correct when he said it only took six weeks to organize everything you see here today and without the skills of my mother and Molly, it just wouldn't have happened. Ladies, we will be eternally grateful for your efforts. There are two other lovely ladies who deserve some recognition today: Hermione and Pansy. I'm sure everyone will agree they look absolutely enchanting today, but more importantly they've been pillars of support for Ginny in the last six weeks and for that, I thank both of you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you'll kindly be upstanding. To the bridesmaids, Hermione and Pansy."
'Hermione and Pansy' echoed around the room and everyone took their seats again.
Greg's response of thanks from the bridesmaids was short and sweet, before Arthur was summoned to say a few words.
"If you'd told me twelve months ago I'd standing in the ballroom of Malfoy Manor toasting my beautiful daughter and her new husband, I'd have had you committed to the locked ward of St. Mungo's. I honestly thought this blessed event would never take place. Of course, the idea that we might not make it this far crossed my mind again this morning when Draco was trying to escape from Ginny's room via the window. Son, just a bit of advice, don't try to talk your way out of trouble with Molly, it's far less painful for all concerned if you just nod and say 'yes, Mum'."
"Thanks, I'll remember that." Draco raised his glass to his father in-law.
"It seems only yesterday, I arrived home from the Ministry to find Draco sitting in the kitchen. I'm the first to admit I wasn't exactly happy to see him at the time, but to the man's credit he didn't allow my less than warm welcome to deter him from continuing to see Ginny and the children. Of course, one Saturday afternoon I got the knock on the door I'd been waiting for since the day I discovered him sitting in the kitchen. I did ask Draco one question and I haven't yet told him, but he answered it correctly."
Draco frowned slightly at the older man. His mind ran through the conversation he'd had with Arthur almost two months ago, but he couldn't pick any particular question that may have been a test.
Arthur smiled warmly at the confused groom. "You told me that whether I granted my permission or not, you would ask Ginny to marry you anyway. That, my boy, showed me exactly how much you do love my daughter. Of course, the following day when your announcement to the rest of the family didn't go as well as it might have and you didn't immediately Disapparate, never to be seen again, proved your worth as well. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the family, Draco."
"Thank you, Arthur." Draco nodded and raised his glass towards his father in-law.
Lucius stood amid the applause for Arthur. He waited patiently for the noise to abate before beginning his own homily. "On behalf of my wife and I, thank you all for attending today and welcome to our home. To my son, I couldn't be more proud of you. Over the last six months or so you've come such a long way. From discovering your children, to finding their mother and, I dare say, falling in love with her all over again. Every parent dreams of what their children can achieve and you are everything I ever hoped you would be."
Draco acknowledged his father's words with an imperceptible nod and small smile. The silent communication between father and son was wrought with emotion no one could miss.
"Ginevra, I can't imagine Draco would have ever found a satisfactory wife had you not reappeared in his life. I know you will make a good partner for my son. You have a commitment to family and strength that can only be admired. Strength, I dare say, you will require every ounce of when dealing with him at times, for he is as stubborn as I." Lucius paused as a few polite chuckles reverberated through the room. "I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for our two wonderful grandchildren. Narcissa and I had thought that by the time Draco got around to settling down that we might be too old to enjoy the next generation of Malfoys, but you have allowed us the opportunity to enjoy what we would have otherwise missed and we are looking forward to the birth of our next grandchild with immense pleasure. Now a little advice for both of you. Make sure you set the ground rules and establish who's boss, and then Draco, do everything Ginevra tells you with a smile."
Polite laughter at the advice Lucius bestowed upon the couple echoed through the room. No one present could recall ever seeing Lucius Malfoy in such a jovial mood before and his comments were most out of character to the ears of the majority of guests. Of course, for those who knew the man best, his demeanor was as they expected it would be on a day such as this.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I propose a toast to my son and daughter-in-law. My greatest wish for the two of you is that through the years, your love for each other will so deepen and grow, that years from now you will look back on this day, your wedding day, as the day you loved each other the least. Draco and Ginevra."
Again the toast echoed around the room.
The guests fell silent as the Master of Ceremonies approached the podium. "I now invite the newlyweds to come forward and cut their wedding cake."
Draco stood and offered his hand to his new wife. The seven-tier wedding cake seemed luminous with its satin sheen icing. A few small pink roses were scattered over each tier and leaves had been etched into the icing giving the overall effect of a creeping rose bush. An arrangement of fresh roses with deep green leaves surrounding the cake set the table off beautifully.
Draco picked up the heavy silver knife from the side of the table and held it over the cake until Ginny's hand had slipped on top of his. Colin was hovering on the other side of the table, already snapping away feverishly. They plunged the knife into the cake together and then held it in place as they kissed deeply amid the applause from the guests.
"Ladies and gentlemen, while we have the happy couple on their feet, please welcome them to the dance floor."
Draco led Ginny onto the floor and pulled her gently into his arms. When the orchestra began they moved almost as if they were one being.
"I love you," Draco whispered.
Ginny smiled up at him with tears glistening in her eyes. Although they were surrounded by opulence she'd not experienced before, it was the little things that were making her day perfect — the single orchid from Lucius, the look in Draco's eyes as he uttered his declaration of love, small words here and there from her loved ones.
Polite applause punctuated by ooh's and aah's followed their every move. After a while, their parents joined them on the floor, followed by the bridal party, including Drake and Angel. Each time the music stopped, Ginny found herself being gathered into a new dance partner's arms. First her father, then her brothers seemed to file through from oldest to youngest, then Harry and finally back to Draco.
Lucius moved across the floor quickly. He'd not yet danced with the bride and as father of the groom it was not only his right, but it was expected. Lucius tapped his son on the shoulder. "May I?"
"Of course, Father. Just don't keep her all night." Draco relinquished his hold on Ginny and stepped back to allow his father to take his place.
Lucius stepped forward and took his daughter-in-law in his arms just as the music recommenced. Twice around the dance floor and Ginny had to admit Narcissa was right, Lucius was an excellent dancer. His strong lead had allowed her to keep up with him and not make a fool of herself.
"You dance superbly," Lucius complimented her.
"Thank you. So do you."
"Narcissa warned me to be gentle with you."
"Yes, she was worried about your skill on the dance floor. I personally can't see why she would have been concerned."
"I see," Ginny muttered. She knew Narcissa was only voicing the concerns she herself had uttered previously and was warmed, if a little embarrassed at the same time; that the older witch had thought to mention it to Lucius. As the music finished Lucius spun Ginny out and bowed politely.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention for just a moment." The Master of Ceremonies paused while quiet fell over the ballroom. "If the bride, groom and both families could make their way to the foyer for some family photographs. Thank you."
Lucius offered his arm to Ginny. "May I escort you to the foyer?"
"Thank you." Ginny smiled pleasantly, but took a quick look around the room for Draco. He'd obviously expected his father to escort her, because he was assisting his mother to her feet and waiting for her to take his arm.
Colin was waiting in the foyer when the families entered. Both Narcissa and Molly had requested family portraits and Colin thought it would be best to take the photographs early, rather than wait until the Weasley boys had consumed too much in the way of alcoholic beverages. The Malfoy family portrait was set up first. It took only minutes to frame the shot on the staircase and take a few snaps of the aristocratic family. Colin smiled to himself behind the lens of his camera; Ginny seemed to fit in perfectly with this family.
Then the logistical nightmare of getting the entire Weasley family in one shot began. It took a good fifteen minutes to situate everyone on the staircase, then another ten minutes of waiting for everyone to be smiling or stop being comedians so he could get a good photograph. After more shots than would have been necessary with any other family, Colin sent the family back into the ballroom with a large sigh of relief.
"Draco, come take a load off mate and have a drink with us!" Bill said as they walked back into the ballroom.
Draco looked around to see Ginny surrounded by all her sister-in-laws. They were admiring her rings again. "Don't mind if I do." Draco followed Bill and Charlie to the table they had been seated at for their meal. The three men sat at one end of the table, leaving the other end for the women when they joined them.
"So have you cleaned your shoes off yet?" Bill asked offhandedly.
Charlie looked at the blond incredulously. Draco had surely caught on to what all the laughter was about at the ceremony. "Your shoes, did you get the message we left for you?"
"I don't—" Draco stopped as he realized what the cause of amusement at the ceremony was. Greg had vaguely mentioned something in his speech, but Draco had failed to catch on to what he was talking about. He brought his one of his feet up onto his knee and inspected the sole of his shoe. The letters 'H' and 'E' were still very prominent against the black of his sole. "Need I ask what I might find on the other shoe?"
"I think you know." Charlie winked at him.
"Which leaves, how did you manage to do this?"
"Well, funny story that," Bill started. "You see your mother wanted to make sure you didn't try to see Ginny before the ceremony once she arrived here, especially after this mornings efforts, so she made us stand guard, as you know. We managed to convince her that if you tried to invade Ginny's dressing rooms, we'd be more than happy to escort you back to your own rooms."
"And she gave us a detailed explanation of how to find your rooms. Very nice, by the way."
"So you just happened to pick the pair of shoes I was going to wear today?"
"Mate, your house elves are so proficient! They'd laid everything out really nicely in your dressing room."
"I see." Draco couldn't believe his mother had actually given these men directions to his chambers. Did she not value his life? They could have done anything to him or his belongings. He'd have to check everything. "Is there anyone else who knows exactly where my chambers are?"
"Nope, just us two." Charlie grinned frighteningly at Draco.
"Thank Merlin we're not staying here tonight," Draco muttered under his breath.
"Come on, mate. Don't you trust us?"
"Gee, you'd think he'd give us an opportunity to earn his distrust."
"Disgusting! I don't know what the world is coming to when your own family don't trust you anymore."
Draco stared incredulously across the table. "You two are worse than the twins!"
"Our twins or yours?" Bill asked comically.
Charlie beamed at him. "Thank you."
"I don't believe you two," Draco muttered. "Is there anything else I should know before your sister goes upstairs to change in that very room?"
"I swear if anything happens—"
"The difference between us and the twins is we value our lives and have no desire to purposely put ourselves in danger of feeling the sharp end of Mum's wand. We stopped at the shoes."
"Now if the twins had found your rooms—"
"I don't even want to think about it!"
"Don't want to think about what?" Ginny asked as she dropped onto Draco's lap.
"In a foolish moment, Mother gave these two...two clowns explicit directions to our chambers."
"Why would she do that?"
"In case I needed escorting back this morning."
Ginny eyed her brothers dangerously. "What have you two done?"
"Gin, you know us."
"Precisely! Now just tell me what you've done so it can be fixed before anyone gets hurt."
"Nothing. Well, nothing that hasn't already been discovered," Charlie admitted with a mischievous grin.
"And what was that?"
"You remember what we did to Bill's wedding shoes?"
"You didn't?" Ginny stared at her brothers. Her expression may have been serious, but her eyes danced with mischievous amusement. The morning of her oldest brother's wedding was full of good fun and hilarity. It had been her honor that morning to steal his shoes for the charming. "That explains the laughter during the blessing."
"You don't find anything wrong with them breaking into our chambers and defiling my shoes?" Draco asked indignantly.
"We didn't break in! We strolled through the door! Really, mate, if you want to keep people out you should set a locking charm at the very least," Bill responded quickly.
"Draco, there's no harm done. Sure people laughed at a serious moment of the ceremony, but we can't undo that now. If that's all they got up to then it's fine," Ginny soothed gently.
"Yeah, well, I'm still getting the servants to check every inch of our chambers."
"Okay, you do that, love."
Severus approached the table rapidly and stopped in front of his godson. "Draco?"
"Uncle Sev, are you having a good time?"
"What time were you thinking of departing?"
"So you're not having a good time then? What's wrong?"
"Shall we just say that I would be enjoying myself a lot more if that infernal woman would stop hunting me down."
"Infernal woman?" Draco responded in contrived ignorance. Madam Rosmerta had been only a couple of paces behind his godfather all evening and he could see it was driving the old Potions Master to distraction.
"Madam Rosmerta!" Severus exclaimed in a harsh murmur before turning his piercing gaze on the Weasley brothers. "And you two can stop whispering!"
Charlie and Bill looked up with feigned innocent expressions. They'd been watching Severus' endeavors to escape Rosmerta's attention all night and were taking much pleasure in the older man's obvious discomfort.
"Don't look now, but I think you've been spotted again." Charlie nodded in the general direction behind Severus.
Professor Snape let out a feral growl.
"Oh Severus, there you are." Madam Rosmerta strolled up to the table looking somewhat pleased at finding the Professor. "Did you forget that you'd promised me this dance?"
Severus shot a nasty glare across the table toward the Weasley boys who were trying not to snigger and schooled his features before turning around to face the witch. He had agreed to dance with her in a moment of weakness or rather he thought if he agreed, she might just shut up for five minutes. "Of course not."
"Wonderful. Well, the band are about to play a waltz," Madam Rosmerta announced suggestively.
Professor Snape offered her his arm. "Shall we?"
As soon as the couple was a reasonable distance from the table, the occupants erupted in good-natured laughter.
Bill shook his head. "He doesn't stand a chance with her."
"She's determined, I'll give her that much. A lesser witch would have given up on the cranky old bugger by now."
"She has Mother encouraging her every step of the way." Draco laughed heartily. His godfather was unlikely to forgive him for telling his mother of Madam Rosmerta's infatuation with him, but the deed was done and it was too late to recant the information.
"You lot are so cruel! They make a lovely couple," Ginny exclaimed.
"Oh yeah, just look at them," Charlie said, glancing over at the pair. "Severus looks like he'd rather be taking tea with a pack of Dementors, than twirling her around the dance floor."
"Perhaps I should do something to alleviate his pain?" Draco pondered.
"Feeling a might guilty, are we?" Bill challenged.
"Not really, but the old boy doesn't really have that much experience with women," Draco admitted quietly. "They usually run a mile when he scowls at them."
"Any wonder." Charlie nodded musingly. "He's an intelligent man; you'd think he'd have learnt not to scowl."
"He likes his solitude," Draco expressed hesitantly. "A woman would just get in the way of his lifestyle. Anyway, I think it's high time we got on with the formalities."
"There's only the bouquet and garter left," Ginny told him.
"Bouquet it is then! I'll alert the Master of Ceremonies and he can make the announcement." Draco gently lifted Ginny to her feet and crossed the floor quickly. A brief conversation with the Master of Ceremonies and he was back to lead his bride to the staircase.
On their way up the marble staircase, the Master of Ceremonies' voice came booming over the guests' conversations. "Ladies and Gentlemen, if you will direct your attention to the staircase. The bride is preparing to throw her bouquet to the maidens in attendance."
Hermione followed the newlyweds up with the give-away bouquet. Ginny had decided she wanted to keep her own flowers, so she ordered an identical arrangement be made for the tradition. When they reached the landing, Draco stood back allowing Ginny to take center stage. Hermione handed her the bouquet and quickly stood back near Draco.
The single women were gathered below. Pansy was at the forefront and using everything in her power to remain there. She was determined to catch the bouquet, even though she was already assured of a wedding in the not so distant future. She watched as Ginny turned her back on the crowd and held the flowers above her head. With only a few moments left to jockey for the best position, Pansy checked the women on either side of her and intently stuck her elbows out just a little more.
The bouquet came flying over the balcony and the women began to shove each other out of the flight path. Pansy was ruthless in her efforts to catch the flowers and it paid off. With a final shove to some woman she vaguely knew, she reached upwards and the flowers fell into her hands. A distinctly unladylike victory squeal escaped her as she held the prize aloft.
"I caught it!" Pansy squealed. "Ron, I caught it!"
Ron smiled bemusedly at her and raised his glass in a half-hearted gesture. He'd never really understood the desperate need women had to catch a bunch of flowers thrown by a bride. Sure, it was supposed to mean you'd be the next to get married, but that was just an old wives tale.
Pansy strode up to her fiancé with fire flashing in her eyes. "You could be a little more enthusiastic, Ronald."
Ron gaped at her. Why on earth would he get excited about her catching a bunch of flowers?
"Yeah, come on, Ron," Harry quipped with a hearty slap on his back. "Show a little more interest."
"Interest? They're bloody flowers!"
"They're not just flowers! It's the bridal bouquet," Pansy stated forcefully while shaking the arrangement in question in his face. "It means we're the next to get married."
Ron rolled his eyes to the ceiling. "Pansy, we're getting married anyway and the flowers didn't do anything to make that happen."
"I believe that was a Sunday afternoon in the broom shed," Harry muttered.
"The thing that made you get married," Harry responded amusedly. "There you go, mate. Draco's about to remove the garter, if you get that then you'll be the next to get married, too."
"Shut it," Ron growled. More to get away from the ridiculous banter that was taking place, Ron strutted out onto the dance floor and joined the rest of the single men milling around his sister and her husband. He didn't want the garter and wouldn't actually try to get it, but it was better than standing there listening to Pansy get all bent out of shape because he didn't praise her high enough for catching some flowers.
Ginny stood in the center of the dance floor with her leg up on a chair. Amid the nefarious jeers from the single men there were a few half serious warnings from her brothers. Draco grinned at her wickedly. The warnings had no effect on him now and he was enjoying tormenting his brothers in-law by doing nothing more than what tradition dictated.
"Excuse me," Greg boomed as he shoved Draco aside. "As best man it is my duty to ensure everything is in order."
Before Draco could recover his balance sufficiently enough to react, Greg had lifted the skirt of Ginny's dress and his head had vanished in a plume of silk. Ginny's squeal was enough to spur Draco into action. He reached down grabbing a handful of Greg's robes and hauled the big man backwards.
Still on his knees, Greg held his hands up to protect himself. "I swear, mate, my eyes were closed. I didn't see a thing."
"Just as well," Draco growled with mock anger. "Now can we get on with this?"
"Sure!" Greg beamed as he got to his feet. "By the way, nice set of legs you've married there."
Draco lunged at his best man playfully. He trusted his old friend implicitly and he knew Greg would never disrespect Ginny or any other woman for that matter — it was simply not in the man's conditioning to do that. When he had composed himself, Draco focused his attention solely on his bride; smirking nefariously he quirked his eyebrows as he knelt on one knee before her and gently lifted her skirt to her knee. His hand lingered over the soft skin above her knee.
"Come on, Malfoy, get your teeth in there!"
"No hands allowed! You know the rules."
The jeers from his friends continued until his hand dropped free of her skirts.
"I think they're getting impatient," Draco whispered.
"You might be right there."
"Best I get on with this before they take matters into their own hands then." Draco winked at her as his head disappeared beneath her skirt.
She'd positioned the garter just a little above her knee so as to keep her modesty in tact in front of such a large crowd. What Draco hadn't discovered was the other garter positioned much higher for removal in private. Ginny felt his lips graze her inner thigh and had to stifle a giggle. At the first sign of blue lace, the crowd of men surrounding them erupted into cheers. Draco held the scrap of delicate fabric between his teeth tightly and negotiated it past her knee, down her calf and over her shoe with expertise. With a triumphant punch in the air, he stood up with the garter still firmly between his teeth, looking most proud of himself.
Draco held to garter aloft. "All right you lot! Who wants this?"
The single men vied for position in front of the groom. All wanted to get their hands on the prize, unmindful of the old wives tales that were attached to the winning of said trophy.
With his back to the men, Draco threw the garter over his shoulder and high into the air. He turned quickly to watch the scramble. It was amazing the lengths some men would go to just to get their hands on a little piece of lace. The tussle lasted a few minutes before Greg Goyle stood victorious in the center of the men with a foolish grin on his face. Draco shook his head at his best man, he had no doubt Greg had employed some not so fair tactics in gaining the trophy, especially if the looks he was garnering from some of the other single men was anything to go by.
"So are you going to slip that up Pansy's leg?" Draco enquired jokingly.
"Are you kidding? That's where you made your mistake at Blaise's wedding. You gave the garter back to the silly witch who caught the bouquet. No way I'm lining myself up for a stroll to the altar!" Greg replied fervently.
Draco chuckled good-naturedly as his arm slid around Ginny's waist. "See that's where you're wrong, mate. I didn't make a mistake."
"So you say now." Greg winked playfully at his old friend.
"And I'll keep on saying it!"
"At least while she's close enough to hex you."
"Before you get me in trouble, I think I might have to dance with my wife," Draco stated with a smirk. The band had started up again and couples were dancing around the trio still in the middle of the dance floor. "It wouldn't kill you to find a partner and join in either."
Greg scanned the guests sitting at the tables and came across a small figure looking ever so hopefully at the dance floor. "Just found my perfect dance partner, mate."
As Draco and Ginny spun around the floor, Greg ambled over to the table closest to the bridal table. "Miss Malfoy, may I have the honor of this dance?"
Angel's eyes opened wide and she smiled broadly. She loved dancing. Since her first taste of the floor with Drake, Grandfather, Granddad and several of her uncles, including Uncle Harry, had twirled her around. "Really?"
"Really! Come on, little one, let's go show them all how it's done."
The little girl took Greg's offered arm just like she'd seen the older women do when walking to the dance floor. With her chin was held high, she was doing her best to imitate her grandmother as she'd seen her perform all evening. The best man looked down at her and smiled. There was no way he could dance conventionally with such a small child. He leaned down and scooped her into his arms, holding her close in something that resembled a dancing pose he began to move around the floor.
"This way I won't step on your toes," Greg told her with a wink.
Angel giggled delightedly as she was twirled around the floor in the safety of Greg's arms, thoroughly enjoying herself.
Narcissa had coerced Drake to dance her, and as Greg passed the other odd sized couple he noticed the little boy's dark expression. It didn't matter whom he was dancing with, it just was not one of his favorite pastimes, most especially when his cousins were running around having fun.
"Draco," Greg called as he came close to the bride and groom. "I don't think Drake's all that pleased with having to dance with your mother."
"Thanks, we'll head over that way and check him out," Draco responded. The last thing he needed tonight was an outburst from his son. He turned Ginny so they could cut across the floor and get to Narcissa quickly.
Upon approaching his mother and son, Draco noticed the dangerous scowl on Drake's face. Narcissa was chatting animatedly, trying to put a smile on the little boy's face, but her efforts were having little effect.
Draco winked at Ginny and stopped dancing just ahead of Narcissa. As Drake came closer Draco tapped him politely on the shoulder. "Would you mind terribly if I cut in?"
"Nope!" Drake's smile of relief could have lit up a dungeon.
"Wonderful!" Draco stepped forward to take his mother's hand, while Drake appeared to being looking for an avenue of escape. "Of course, you won't mind taking over my lovely partner."
Drake's face dropped. "Oh."
"It is the polite thing to do, you know."
"Okay." Drake sighed affectedly. He much rather be running around with Beau and Matthew than be stuck on the dance floor.
"Come on, Drake, I'm not that bad a dancer," Ginny stated lightheartedly.
Drake muttered something under his breath, not meant for anyone's ears if he wanted to remain able to sit on his bottom, and took his mother's outstretched hands. After a couple of times around the dance floor, they came across his daddy again and this time he was dancing with Angel.
"Mummy! Look! I'm dancing with Daddy and he can't step on my toes!" Angel squealed delightedly from her position on Draco's hip.
"That's because you're such an excellent dancer," Draco said with a smile. "Come here, Gin."
When Ginny and Drake were close enough, Draco bent down and picked his son up to sit on his opposite hip. With a child balanced on each hip, Draco instructed them to wrap an arm around their mother to bring her into the fold. The other couples on the floor moved around the family as they swayed gently to the music. After several minutes Drake began to wriggle relentlessly.
"Daddy, can I go play now?"
"All right, off you go." Draco released his son and Drake slid down to the floor, running off as soon as his feet touched the wood. "I knew it was too good to last. Would you like to go and play, Angel?"
"You have to dance with Mummy," the little witch instructed seriously.
"That was my plan."
"All right," Angel said as she was set on the floor.
Draco and Ginny watched her wander off the dance floor. Her small face lit up when she spied Harry sitting at a table talking with several other men. Angel skipped over to him and promptly made herself comfortable on his knee. Safe in the knowledge that Angel was occupied, Draco turned his attention solely to his bride.
He spun her around the floor for many more songs, and only relinquished her when she begged for mercy. A refreshing drink and a comfortable chair was foremost on her mind. Draco made her comfortable and summoned a servant to provide drinks. It wasn't long before friends and female relatives joined her. Draco excused himself to join men before he heard more than his male ears could handle.
When the evening grew late and Draco knew they would have to make a move if they were to start their honeymoon before the sun rose. He spied Ginny talking to an assorted group of women on the other side of the ballroom and made a beeline for her. He could tell she was tired and he hoped she would be ready to change into her traveling robes without any fuss.
"Excuse me, ladies," Draco intoned politely over the giggles. "May I borrow my wife for a moment?"
"I don't think we can trust you," Anya said, her tone not at all serious.
"You have a habit of not returning her," Fleur scolded good-naturedly.
"Ladies, you have my word. I will allow her to return as soon as I've had a word."
"Very well then," Katie agreed with mock impatience and a wave of her hand.
Draco led his wife away from the women just a little. "It's getting late, love. We should probably go up and change."
"Yes, I guess we should," Ginny agreed reluctantly. "I'll just let the girls know what I'm doing and I'll meet you upstairs."
"I'll wait for you," Draco offered. He knew she'd be detained if he went ahead and they'd never get on their way.
"Fine, wait then," Ginny responded with a shake of her head. She wandered over and had a quick word with the women she'd been talking with before returning to Draco's side. "Ready?"
"If you are, love."
They made their way quietly upstairs. Draco changed quickly into plain black tailored robes and ensured his traveling cloak was ready. He left the dressing room to wait for Ginny in their bedchamber. The thought that he might keep his beautiful bride in their rooms a little longer than necessary had crossed his wicked mind and was summarily dismissed, as he knew his mother would send a servant after them if they took too long.
Not entirely through choice, Ginny took much longer in the dressing room. The removal of her wedding gown was most difficult to achieve on one's own and finally she had to concede defeat. She stood in the doorway to the bedchamber looking somewhat frustrated.
One eyebrow rose in question at her. "Don't want to take it off?"
"Could you help me? I can't seem to get out of it."
"Sure, love." Draco was already crossing the floor. "Turn around."
He set to work on unlacing the corset-style fastenings running down her back. His hands lingered over her newly exposed flesh. It felt like silk beneath his fingers and he couldn't help but lean down to taste her skin. Her breathy moan did nothing to discourage him. With her dress now open, Draco pulled her flush against his body and continued his ministrations at the base of her neck. His hands flowed over her body and one of hers came up to rest upon his head as she arched against him.
She could feel his desire beginning to grow. The light prodding in her back was growing ever more insistent with every passing second. If only they could stay like this, just the two of them, and not have to return to the guests in the ballroom.
"Master," Millie uttered in a hesitant squeak from behind them. "Old Mistress says young Master should be hurrying back to his guests."
Draco's head dropped onto Ginny's shoulder with a sigh. He wasn't surprised to see Millie; in fact it amazed him his mother had taken so long to send her. "Tell Mother we'll be down momentarily."
"Yes, Master." With a deep bow Millie popped out of the room.
"I guess we should get a move on," Draco whispered into Ginny's neck, sending shivers to her toes.
"Mmm. Yes, we should."
Draco stepped away from her. "Do you need anymore help?"
"No thanks, I should be able to manage from here."
Quite a while later Ginny stepped out of the dressing room. Her traveling robes were of flowing ivory silk trimmed in gold thread. The matching traveling cloak, resting over her arm, was lined lightly to ward off any chill in the air, but not so heavily that it impeded the graceful fall of the fabric. She was again a picture of perfection, though Draco rather thought she'd look better sans robes and lying in the center of their bed with a wanton expression permanently plastered on her beautiful face.
"I guess we should get back to the ballroom," Ginny said with no conviction.
"You know, it's getting late, maybe we should think about saying our goodbyes," Draco suggested carefully.
"Afraid so." Draco had prepared himself for his new wife's reluctance. Even though he was eager to continue what they had begun, he truly didn't want to go himself; leaving the twins was going to tear him apart even with the promise of having Ginny to himself for two weeks. "Come on, we'll start by saying goodbye to your brothers."
Ginny sighed despondently. "All right."
Draco's arms wrapped around her and he pulled her flush against his body. "Just think, love, two weeks of just you and me with nothing and no one to disturb us."
"I know. I just wish we didn't have to leave Drake and Angel."
He knew if he agreed with her their honeymoon on the south coast of France would turn into a family holiday faster than he could flick his wand. "I know, but to take them with us would sort of spoil the honeymoon, don't you think? You need this break. Two weeks to relax without being someone's mother. You, me and nothing to do aside from enjoy ourselves."
"All right, all right let's get on with it then."
They wandered back downstairs, wrapped in each other arms and began to seek out family members. Draco tried to hurry Ginny through saying goodbye to the bulk of her brothers and their partners. He didn't want her to dwell on the thought of leaving the twins and besides the advice being bestowed upon him from his new brother-in-laws was probably best left unmentioned. He thought their inebriated brains might have forgotten that their sister was going to be the center of his attention for the next two weeks.
When they had spoken to everyone of importance to either of them, they made their way into the foyer where their parents were waiting with the children. The twins were over tired and would more than likely be tucked into bed as soon as they left.
They bid goodbye to their respective parents first, then to their new in-laws. Assurances from all of them that the children would be well cared for in their absence did nothing to alleviate the ache in Ginny's heart. She knew it was only for two weeks and they'd be able to talk via the Floo network, but she'd never left them for more than a night before.
Draco watched as Ginny clung to Molly again. She was only just holding her emotions in tact and he knew it would be better to get her out of here sooner rather than later. "Love, time to say goodbye to the kids. They look like they're ready to fall asleep on their feet."
Ginny pulled away from her mother and expelled a slow breath. "Okay. Maybe we should tuck them in and wait for them to fall asleep before we leave?"
"Gin, Mother will tuck them in just as soon as we leave." Draco looked to Narcissa for a confirmatory nod.
She drew a shaky breath and tried to smile. "All right."
They gathered the twins in front of them. Both were beyond tired and desperately needed their beds, but even so, Draco thought it wise to talk to them regarding their behavior one more time. "Right you two, we expect you to be on your very best behavior for the next two weeks no matter who you're with at the time or what else is going on." Draco eyed both seriously, but lingered longer over Drake's face. "If you misbehave, I will hear about it and there will be consequences. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Daddy," they responded tiredly in unison.
"Good. I know you'll have a lot of fun while Mummy and I are away so don't spoil it for yourselves."
Drake frowned in confusion at his father. "What will we do?"
"Grandmother and Grandfather have made lots of plans, plus you'll be spending time at the Burrow and with your godparents. So you'll have lots to do and the two weeks will just fly by."
Angel looked up at her parents with tears brimming in her eyes. "I don't want you to go."
"Sweetheart, don't cry," Ginny pleaded. "We'll be home again before you know it and you'll have so much fun while we're away."
Drake reached over with his small hand and patted his sister's back awkwardly. A motion that didn't go unnoticed by his father.
"Drake, I'm counting on you to look after Angel, okay?"
"That's my man," Draco praised him heartily. "We'll talk to you every day so you can tell us everything you've been up to."
Drake smiled tiredly at him.
"And we'll bring you home presents from France!" Draco continued enthusiastically. Now that Drake wasn't likely to cry he could concentrate on putting a smile on Angel's face. "Is there anything you'd like us to bring you, Angel?"
The little girl shook her head slightly.
"Well, I'll find something really special then and if you think of anything you'd like then you can let us know when we Floo you. Okay, princess?" He knew he could be leaving himself wide open to receive a shopping list longer than his arm, but he was desperate to see her smile before they left.
Angel nodded and as she did a tear rolled down her cheek.
"Come here, princess," Draco whispered hoarsely as he gathered her into his arms. "We'll be home again before you know it and I'll bet you'll be having so much fun with everyone you won't even notice we're gone. And we'll bring you lots of lovely gifts all the way from France."
His attempts to calm her were falling on deaf ears as Angel began to sob in earnest. From beside him, Ginny released an anguished moan and tried to reach for her distraught daughter.
"Draco, it's probably better that you go now," Lucius said quietly. "I'll take Angelique. She'll be fine once you're gone. It's the letting go that's most difficult."
Draco nodded contemplatively. He knew his father was right. Angel was over tired and she was emotional, but it was so hard to let her go when she was this upset. "Gin, give Angel a kiss. I'm going to give her to father so we can go."
Ginny reached up and kissed her little girl's head softly. "I love you, darling. We'll talk to you tomorrow, okay? Be a good girl," she whispered directly into her ear in the hope that her words would be heard over the crying.
When Ginny pulled away, Draco repeated the process himself and then tried to pass her to Lucius' waiting arms. Angel was determined not to let go and it was only with Arthur's assistance that Draco was able to disentangle himself from his daughter. Once free, he waited his turn to hold his son. When Ginny finally let Drake go, Draco knelt before his son and gathered him close to his chest.
"You be a good boy and look after your sister. She might need some extra cuddles, so can you take care of that for me?"
Drake nodded against Draco's shoulder.
"Good boy." Draco placed a kiss on his head. "We'll Floo you tomorrow afternoon, okay?"
"You remember how to get hold of Uncle Harry if you need him?"
"And you have the Floo powder I gave you?"
"Uh huh, it's in my room."
"Good." Draco had made certain to talk to both the children last weekend about what would be happening while he whisked their mother away on their honeymoon. As he wasn't going to be here to discipline the children, they couldn't be left to get away with murder with no rebuke, Draco had thought to put in place a safety net just in case either of them felt they'd been dealt with unfairly. He'd given both of them a small supply of Floo powder and shown them how to use the Floo network to get a hold of Harry no matter what time of day it was. With luck, they'd have no reason to contact him apart from social calls, but Draco felt it was better to be safe than sorry. "Well best I get your mother to the hotel before she changes her mind and invites you two along."
"Why can't we come too?"
"Drake, we went through this last week. Honeymoons are only for the bride and groom, remember?"
"Yeah," Drake answered miserably.
"And we'll take a family holiday before Christmas, I promise."
"Be good, mate." Draco placed a final kiss on Drake's head and held him tightly for a moment before getting to his feet. "Gin, ready, love?"
A forced smile crossed her face as Draco came to stand beside her. "Yes, I'm ready."
Angel let loose a particularly wretched howl for her mother upon hearing her voice and Ginny made to move over to her until Draco slid his arm around her waist.
"Gin, let father take care of her. It's better that we just leave otherwise she'll just keep crying every time we try to go," Draco whispered hurriedly.
Ginny nodded, burying her head in Draco's chest as the tears that had been threatening began to flow. Angel was still sobbing loudly on Lucius' shoulder and it was tearing her heart out. Her instinct to soothe her anguish was too strong to ignore for much longer.
Arthur placed the Portkey in Draco's free hand and slapped him on the shoulder. "Have a good time and don't worry about the kids, we'll all take good care of them."
Lucius nodded meaningfully in Draco's direction when he appeared to hesitate. It was time to go before the witches in his life made him change his mind.
As Draco uttered the activation charm for the Portkey, Drake reached for him with an anguished howl. Just as he felt the familiar tug at his navel he saw Arthur scoop the little boy up and hold him tight. What he wanted most in the world was to hold his son and calm him down. He knew the family would take care of him, but it should be he who was comforting Drake not someone else.
When they landed in the foyer of the hotel, Draco threw aside the Portkey and gathered Ginny into his arms properly. He made comforting sounds to soothe her while trying to blink back his own tears. In the depths of his heart, he knew everything would be all right — Ginny would calm down and the twins would have a wonderful fortnight.
After some time, he cradled her face in his hands. "I love you so much."
"I love you, too," Ginny whispered.
Their lips met softly, yet intently and everything in the world ceased to matter except for the woman in his arms — his wife.
Thank you to Rainpuddle13 for her amazing beta work!
Thanks to everyone who reviewed!