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.
THE BLACK SILK SCARF
A Portkey landed Draco and Ginny on the front lawn of Malfoy Manor, not far from the front doors. The benefits of being extremely wealthy was becoming ever more apparent to Ginny as they were able to arrange a direct Portkey home rather than go through the Ministry of Magic like other international travelers. Of course, it also helped that her future sister-in-law worked in the Portkey Office and Apparation Test Center at the Ministry. Pansy had arranged their transport before they'd left and made sure they'd suffer no delays with either the British or French Ministries.
Draco's arms snaked around his wife's waist. "We're home."
"Yes we are." Ginny leaned into his strong frame. "I can't wait to see the kids."
"Let's go then!"
They ran up the front stairs, hand in hand, and as they approached the large doors opened to allow them entry.
"Wait!" Draco stopped dead just on the threshold of the house. "We have to do this properly."
"Draco, you don't—" Ginny's protest ended in a squeal as he scooped her into his arms.
"Yes, we do have to do this properly," Draco assured her as he carried her over the threshold.
Once in the foyer of the grand house, he didn't relinquish his hold on his wife. Instead he claimed her mouth in a deep, sensuous kiss. They were lost in the sensation of each other again, as they had been for the past two weeks.
"Mummy! Daddy! Mummy! Daddy!" The shrill squeals of the twins hurtling down the staircase penetrated their world.
Draco gently placed Ginny on her feet and they both opened their arms to capture their children. Drake ran straight to his mother and clung to her tightly, burying his head in her shoulder. Still squealing in a high pitch tone, Angel leapt into her father's arms.
"Angel, enough, sweetheart. I can't hear myself think," Draco pleaded good-naturedly.
"What did you bring me? What did you bring me?" Angel squealed, ignoring her father's pleas to adjust her pitch.
Their luggage had arrived earlier in the day and Angel had been quite put out when Narcissa suggested they wait for their parents before rummaging through for gifts.
"You'll have to wait and see," Ginny told her.
"But I want to know!"
"Angel, you'll wait until we've said hello properly," Draco said as they swapped children.
Narcissa was hovering on the landing watching the children greet their parents. The fortnight had been wonderful fun, but exhausting and she was very much looking forward to handing back the twins to their parents. She'd had some respite with a weekend trip to their godparents and a few days the week before with the Weasleys, however, she'd been going non-stop for almost a week now. It was so easy to forget how much energy two small children had.
"Darlings." Narcissa drifted down the stairs. "You both look so rested."
"We've done nothing but relax the entire time," Draco admitted as he embraced her warmly.
"Ginevra, you're looking so well." Narcissa kissed the air around Ginny's cheeks. Her daughter-in-law was positively glowing.
"Thank you. Two weeks of being pampered was exactly what I needed."
"Shall we have some tea and you can tell me all about your honeymoon."
"Mother, where is Father?"
"Oh, he said something about the office at breakfast," Narcissa said over her shoulder as she walked off in the direction of the parlor.
The twins ran ahead, passing their grandmother and racing towards the summer parlor. Draco and Ginny followed, wrapped in one another. Draco knew this ritual of tea and gossip was inevitable, and he wouldn't deny his mother, but what he really wanted to do was race his wife upstairs and shag her senseless. Sweet memories of the past two weeks would have to suffice until he could get her alone again.
Tea was served the moment the family took their seats. Narcissa took a delicate sip from her cup then looked to the newlyweds expectantly.
"Tell me everything! What you did, where you ate... shopped... oh and your birthday, darling, did you have a good day?"
"Yes thank you, Mother. My birthday was exemplary."
"You enjoyed the extra little getaway location?"
"It's such a lovely little cove." Narcissa sighed happily. "Your father took me there last year—a surprise sabbatical he called it."
"Yeah—umm—Ginny mentioned you'd been there."
"It's so secluded."
Draco's eyes widened. He didn't like the dreamy tone his mother's voice had adopted and he had no desire to sit there while she reminisced over her time at the cove, most especially knowing how he and Ginny had occupied their time there.
"We did a ton of shopping as well," Ginny blurted. She hadn't missed Draco's discomfort and truly didn't want to explore Narcissa's memory of the location anymore than she'd been forced to when planning the getaway.
Narcissa snapped out of her reverie immediately. "Oh, do tell! What did you buy? From what stores? Draco did show you the best of the best in Saint Tropez—"
"Of course I did, Mother. Can't have a Malfoy wife shopping in a store not worthy of her patronage." Draco chuckled with amusement. If shopping were a wizarding sport, his mother would be the World Cup champion.
Ginny wasn't sure exactly what was going on, a shop was a shop in her opinion, and she didn't want to get into a discussion about whether a store was good enough or not. "The stores were wonderful. We bought so many clothes and so much for the twins."
Squeals of delight erupted from the two little ones upon hearing they definitely had gifts awaiting them.
Angel bounced in her chair. "What did you get us, Mummy?"
"Lots of things! We'll have a look after we've finished our tea." Truth be told, Ginny would have rather taken the children upstairs now than answer Narcissa's questions. There wasn't all that much to tell, unless she wanted to hear how often they'd shagged each day or where and she knew her mother in-law would rather live without that information. So as not to appear rude, Ginny went on to tell Narcissa about her purchases in detail. It turned out to be a safe subject as her mother-in-law approved of all the stores they'd visited and added her own memories of past purchases to the conversation.
"I think we'd best head up and get unpacked," Ginny suggested after quite some time. She knew it'd take a while to sort out the children's gifts and allow them the time to appreciate the presents properly.
"Yes, of course, and you'll be wanting a rest before dinner."
Ginny frowned at Narcissa quizzically. "Umm—no, I'm not tired."
"But you must look after yourself, dear, after all you are with child."
Ginny smiled warmly at Narcissa. "Actually, I've never felt better than I have this past week or so. I haven't been getting tired or in need of an afternoon sleep."
"You mustn't feel you have to keep going just because you're home now. I'm more than happy to watch the children if you're in need of some rest."
Ginny opened her mouth to reply and closed it again when Draco cleared his throat subtly. There was no point in trying to convince Narcissa she wasn't ailing from this pregnancy. "Thank you, I'll keep it in mind."
"Why don't we give these presents out in our sitting room?" Draco said as he stood. While the children squealed their delight, he helped Ginny to her feet. "Mother, we'll see you at dinner."
"Of course, darling, dinner will be served at the usual time."
Draco hung back as the twins each took one of Ginny's hands and all but dragged their mother from the parlor. He waited until they were out of sight before turning back to his mother. "Is the surprise for Ginny ready?"
"Yes, darling, they finished all of it yesterday. You're going to love what they've done!"
"Just as long as Ginny likes it; I won't care what it looks like."
"She will. I was with her when she voiced her initial ideas and I think we've managed to capture what she wanted."
"Excellent." Draco placed a light kiss on Narcissa's cheek. "Thank you, Mother."
"You're welcome, darling. You'd better get along before she notices you're not there."
Draco strode quickly from the room, hoping to catch up with his family before they reached the staircase and Ginny noticed he wasn't behind them. He couldn't be more pleased with the news his mother had just given him and he hoped Ginny would be as pleased to see what he'd arranged.
They were waiting at the foot of the stairs for him, all looking somewhat curious as to why it had taken him so long to get out of the parlor when there were presents to be opened.
"Sorry, love. You know how Mother is, she just had to have a private hug."
Ginny smiled warmly. "She could have done that in front of me."
"I know, but you know her, she wouldn't have thought it proper." Draco threaded his fingers through hers. "Are we going to open these gifts?"
The excited squeals of the twins almost drowned out Ginny's affirmative response.
With the children running ahead, the family made their way to Draco and Ginny's private sitting room. Ginny sat on the small couch with a child on either side of her while Draco entered their bedchamber. The trunk they'd purchased just for all the gifts they'd bought was just about bursting at the seams. Even shrinking charms had done little to assist in reducing their extra luggage. He returned with a large trunk, hoping it was the right one, and placed it in the middle of the floor.
"This is it, isn't it, Gin?"
"Yes, just that one."
"Good, I don't think I can lift another one that heavy."
Ginny eyed him somewhat dangerously. They'd already had the discussion about who was responsible for the amount of luggage they were bringing back — Draco had lost.
With a flick of his wand, Draco set the locks on the trunk to release. As he lifted the lid of the trunk the eyes of the twins lit up at all the brightly wrapped packages. "Ginny, did you put tags on any of these?"
"The ones wrapped in dragon paper are Drake's and the unicorn paper is Angel's."
"Of course," Draco mumbled selecting one of each type of wrapping.
Squeals of delight echoed through the small sitting room for the next half an hour as the twins opened gift after gift. Before long the trunk was empty and the room was strewn with torn gift wrapping, ribbon and discarded boxes. Toys, clothes and other trinkets were scattered everywhere. The children were re-examining all their new belongings, trying to decide what to play with first.
Draco had sat through the gift giving trying to think of a feasible excuse to escape for a few minutes. He wanted to check on the surprise he'd arranged for Ginny before he showed her. Though there was a certain element of danger in opening his mouth to voice the only viable idea he could come up with, he went ahead anyway. "Love, I might just pop down to the study and check my owls while the kids play... Give you a little bit on your own with them."
"Do you have to?"
"I really should," he expressed as regretfully as he could muster. "I won't be long. I just need to see what's waiting for me Monday morning."
Ginny looked disappointed, but she nodded her understanding. Her expression burned into his conscience as he left the sitting room. It was only a little white lie and he was almost convinced she'd be pleased when she saw what he'd arranged.
"Mummy, can you play with me?" Drake looked expectantly at her with the new Quidditch figurines clutched tightly in his small hands. They'd purchased the entire French team for him and he couldn't wait to play them against his English team.
"Yes, sweetheart. Why don't you get your Quidditch stadium?"
"Okay, but I'm England!" Drake raced from the sitting room before Ginny could reply.
"Mummy, aren't we going to have a tea party?" Angel had her newest baby doll cradled in her arms and her new silver tea service sitting nearby.
"Of course! While you're setting up your tea party I can play with Drake, then we can both join you for a lovely cup of tea."
"Drake doesn't like tea parties. He's always rude to my guests."
"We'll just have to teach him some manners then," Ginny said with mock sincerity. "Can you set it up on your own?"
"I have to get the rest of my guests!" The little girl announced as she ran out of the room.
Ginny looked over to the veritable menagerie of stuffed animals Draco had insisted on buying her in France. If Angel brought in anymore of her "guests" they'd be overrun with inanimate creatures.
No sooner than had Angel left the room, Drake returned with Millie bringing up the rear. The servant was almost dwarfed by the large toy she had hovering just in front of her.
"Put it there," Drake demanded rudely, pointing at a position on the floor in front of the hearth.
"Drake! How dare you speak to Millie like that! Apologize now!"
"She's a servant," Drake stated apathetically.
"I don't care who she is, you do not speak to anyone in that manner. Apologize now or you won't be playing with your Quidditch game for a week."
"Sorry," the little wizard mumbled.
"But Grandfather said—"
"I don't care what your grandfather said, I'm your mother and I won't tolerate you speaking to anyone that way. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Mummy," Drake responded somewhat edgily.
"Apologize to Millie."
"Sorry for being rude, Millie."
The aged servant was clearly uncomfortable with her young master's request for forgiveness. It wasn't customary to hear such words from those she willingly served, no matter how they treated her. She bowed deeply in front of Drake then flicked her large eyes to his mother. "If that is all, Mistress, Miss Angel is summoning Millie."
"Yes, thank you, Millie." Ginny almost laughed aloud at the very obvious relief in the servant's eyes. "Drake, are you going to set the game up?"
"Uh huh." The little wizard nodded eagerly and set about positioning the figurines for the start of the game.
By the time Angel marched back into the room with Millie carrying several dolls and stuffed animals, the Quidditch game was well under way. The little witch offered her 'guests' seats then fussily went about setting up her tea set. When she was happy with everything, Angel looked to her mother expectantly.
"Mummy, are you coming to my tea party?"
"Just as soon as I catch the Snitch, sweetheart."
Angel tapped her foot impatiently, before turning her attention to her 'guests'. She made small talk in the same manner as she'd heard her grandmother do with her friends, and replying to the voiceless questions posed by her 'company' with a small tinkling laugh.
A triumphant shriek from Drake signaled the end of the game. Ginny had to admit he was very good. His strategies were fairly simple, but were well thought out and executed perfectly.
"Well done, darling."
Drake bounced up and down on the spot. "I won! I won!"
"Are you going to come to my tea party now?" Angel enquired hastily.
"Yes, of course, darling. Come on, Drake, it's time to put on our best manners."
The little boy's expression went from jubilant to miserable in an instant. "Can't we play another game?"
"No, honey, I promised Angel we'd join her after the game. Maybe Daddy will give you a game when he gets back."
"When is he coming back?"
"I don't know, sweetheart. I'm sure he won't be much longer." At least she hoped he wouldn't be much longer. She didn't appreciate Draco running out like he did at the first available moment.
"Can I go find him?"
"I'd rather you stayed here, Drake. Daddy will be back soon."
"Okay," Drake agreed miserably. "But I don't want to play tea parties."
"You don't have to play," Angel stated spitefully.
"Good, I won't!"
"Enough!" Ginny shook her head at her children. They were so different in personality sometimes that little spats like this were par for the course, but she still didn't like to hear their verbal sparring.
"Yes, Mummy," they answered together.
"Drake, why don't you play with something else until Daddy gets back and I'll have a tea party with Angel."
"Okay," the little boy said agreeably. Anything was better than being forced to play tea parties.
"Mummy, you have to come and sit here," Angel instructed.
"I'm coming." Ginny lifted herself off the floor and relaxed in the chair Angel had saved her.
"Tea?" Angel asked in a deliberately haughty voice.
Ginny had to bite the side of her mouth to keep from laughing. Angel was giving a flawless impression of Narcissa. "Thank you, tea would be lovely."
Angel poured the 'tea' into the delicate china cup. "Sugar?"
"No, thank you."
The little witch passed the teacup to her mother with precision. "Would you care for a pastry? I have them delivered from a French pat-pattis—place in Paris."
"They look so tempting. How can I possibly resist?" Ginny stated as she reached for one of the offered toy pastries.
Angel was the perfect hostess. She made small talk with all her 'guests' and ensured no cup ran dry. Ginny marveled at the change in her daughter's play habits. Her whole demeanor seemed to have matured, at least with when engaging in this particular activity.
"Daddy!" Drake jumped to his feet and ran to the door, where his father scooped him into his arms.
"Having fun, mate?"
"Will you play Quidditch with me?"
"I thought we might show Mummy a surprise I arranged for her."
"Surprise?" Drake looked confused just for a moment, then he whispered into Draco's ear.
Ginny watched the two wizards interact. She saw Draco nod then they both looked around at her with matching smirks. Surprise or not, they were up to something. Though how they'd managed to plan anything was beyond her. Since arriving home, Drake had only left her side for a few minutes to retrieve his Quidditch Stadium.
"What's going on?" Ginny asked carefully.
"We have a surprise for you," Draco admitted as he put Drake on his feet.
"Oh? Care to tell me?"
"I could, but I'd rather show you."
"All right. Where is it?"
Draco pulled a long black silk scarf from his pocket. "You'll have to put this on first."
"Because I don't want your surprise revealed until you're standing with it."
"So it's something I can touch?"
"Maybe," Draco responded evasively.
"How am I going to get to where ever it is if I can't see?"
"I'll guide you." Draco held the scarf up. "Now come over here so I can tie this on and take you to where I've stashed your surprise."
Ginny stood and moved across the sitting room to the only clear space in front of the door. "You can't bring the surprise to me?"
"I don't want to." Draco sounded like a petulant child as he turned her around gently.
The scarf came over her eyes, turning the world black. She could feel Draco knotting the fabric at the back of her head and when his hands fell away from her she felt quite vulnerable. Ginny pushed the feeling to the back of her mind immediately. It was silly to feel afraid just because her eyesight had been temporarily impaired.
"Can you see anything?"
"Not a thing."
Draco waved his hands around in front of Ginny's face. "Are you sure you can't see anything?"
"Drake, take Mummy's hand. You can help me lead her to where we're going."
A small giggle from her side alerted Ginny to her son's presence before his small hand found hers. Next Draco's hand ran down her spine and settled in the small of her back. His other hand took her arm just above the elbow.
From somewhere behind her she could hear Angel giggling. Ginny's mind ran through the possibilities of what Draco's surprise might be as they guided her to the unknown destination, but she couldn't come up with anything that would demand this much fuss or excitement. She tried to map in her head where they were leading her, but after many turns and a flight of stairs she had to admit she was lost.
"Stop here," Draco whispered in her ear. "You two go stand over there, so you can see Mummy's face when we show her what we've done."
She felt Drake release her hand and heard both her children giggle with excitement as they moved away from her. Draco didn't lose contact with her as he moved to stand behind her. She could feel his large hands resting on her shoulders and his breath tickling her neck.
"I hope you like this."
"Are you going to let me see whatever it is now?"
"Of course." His hands moved to the scarf and began to undo the knot he'd secured it with. Just before he allowed the fine silk to fall from her eyes, he whispered, "Welcome home, love."
Ginny blinked a few times, allowing her eyes to adjust to the brightness of the room. She looked around trying to place where in the house they were, when it suddenly dawned on her — they were standing in the southern wing and this was the parlor Draco had wanted for the family, except it looked completely different now. The room had been tastefully decorated, giving it a light breezy feeling. The antique furniture had been replaced with more comfortable pieces better suited to a family with small children and all the heirlooms that had previously covered every available surface had vanished.
"Well?" Draco asked hesitantly.
"I made the arrangements to have it done while we were away. You can change anything you don't like, but I thought it'd be nice to move into our own wing straight away."
"You like it?"
Her arms wrapped around his waist and she kissed him. "Yes, I wouldn't change a thing."
Draco relaxed a little. He'd been concerned about her reaction and whether he'd done the right thing or not, after all, he had told her it was her job to decorate their home. "There's more."
"While the decorators were here I had them do all the rooms we'd need right away and a few extras."
"We were only gone two weeks."
Draco smirked. "It's amazing what they'll agree to if there's a bonus of several thousand Galleons on offer."
"You didn't use that hideous decorator, did you?"
"No. After the way she treated you, she's never getting another Knut out of this family and I believe Mother has spread the word to her friends as well, so she'll find it difficult to come across the work she was accustomed to from now on. I found someone else through some contacts I have and by looks of everything, they've followed my directives to the letter."
Ginny moved further into the room, examining the appointments and other, more personal, touches Draco had ordered. Family photographs adorned the walls and some of the shelves; small knick-knacks were placed here and there to brighten the room up; the patio held a table and chairs, along with some long lounges to relax on, it was the perfect setting for breakfast on fine days. She would never have thought the large room could feel so comfortable and inviting, but it had been so well done that she couldn't imagine considering any other room for the family now.
"Come on, I want to show you the rest of the wing," Draco said eagerly. "Just remember you can still change anything you want and there's still a lot of personal additions to be made."
"All right I'll remember, but if the rest of the rooms have been done as well as this one, I wouldn't dream of changing anything."
The playroom was just down the corridor from the family parlor. It was light and bright with storage cupboards lining two walls, and plenty of room to play. Comfortable chairs were around the fireplace with bookcases nearby. A Wizards' Chess table stood off to the side with a player's chair on either side of the board. The remainder of the room was understandably quite bare, as the children still had their toys in their rooms for the time being.
They wandered through the ground floor of the wing, taking their time to examine every room. Those the decorators hadn't touched had been cleaned thoroughly, de-cluttered of excessive furniture and the like, ready for use; very little remained to be done in any of the formal areas of the wing. The rooms were tastefully decorated centuries ago and although the furniture was dated, it was beautiful just the same.
The family dining room felt more like a formal room to Ginny, but she was at a loss as to what she could do to warm the area. The wood paneled room held a mahogany table large enough to comfortably seat fourteen. Twelve chairs had their seats upholstered with deep gold velvet and at either end of the table, fully upholstered larger chairs with armrests stood. The enormous sideboard was ornately carved and stocked with the finest bone china. Ginny knew it would never be as cozy as the Burrow's kitchen, but with no ideas coming to mind she decided she could live with that and besides it was the people who filled the room that brought warmth to the atmosphere, not the decor.
They wandered into Draco's study next. The room had been cleaned thoroughly, but the décor remained the same as it had been for many decades. Dark, heavy drapes admitted no light from the windows and when Draco flicked his wand towards the wall sconces, they flashed to life, casting an eerie glow over the room. It was definitely a man's room, with no hint that women even existed, let alone stepped foot in this room.
When the family had thoroughly explored the ground floor, Draco suggested they head upstairs. Pleased with Ginny's reaction thus far, he hoped the family living quarters met to her approval as well. Draco guided his family down the corridor and stopped at the end. He'd deliberately gone past the master suite at the head of the corridor, instead, going to the twins' rooms right at the end. Draco had thought about the location of their rooms long and hard. It stood to reason that Ginny would want their younger children closer to the master suite, in case there was a problem during the night, so logic dictated that the twins should have the rooms the greatest distance from the master suite. Wishful thinking may have played a part in his planning, because he was hoping to fill the rooms between the master suite and the twins' rooms with more of his children, if Ginny was willing of course.
"Whose rooms are we going to show first?"
"Mine!" Drake announced loudly before Angel could react.
With a grand flourish, Draco opened the double doors leading to his son's suite. It was decorated in an identical Quidditch theme to that of his rooms in the northern wing. The little wizard proudly informed his parents that he showed the decorators his other suite and told them to make this one the same.
Across the corridor, Angel's rooms were as beautiful as her rooms in the other wing. The little girl had attempted to convince the decorators and her grandmother that an entirely purple suite would be perfect, much to everyone's horror. It had come down to Lucius to talk his granddaughter into accepting that her suite would be decorated in an identical manner to that of her rooms in the northern wing. With the addition of some superfluous purple throw cushions on the furniture, the decorator had done an excellent job of keeping the room tasteful and at the same time pleasing the little witch who would live there.
Upon entering the master suite, Ginny was torn between looking around and hugging her husband with delight. The sitting room was decorated in a similar fashion to the first suite she stayed in at the manor, with burgundy hues and gold trim. It was a combination that made her feel warm and comfortable. The room was larger than Draco's old sitting room and held a full sized couch with two chairs around the fireplace. A mahogany coffee table sat in front of the couch and two smaller occasional tables sat beside the single chairs. Flowers softened the room further, along with some photographs of the children.
The bedroom followed a similar color scheme with soft burgundy walls, deep burgundy drapes and mahogany furniture. The bed draperies were translucent lengths of fabric in several shades from light to dark and, on the enormous bed, pillows in the same influence against a gold silk duvet, set it off perfectly. Two chairs around the hearth with a small coffee table gave the couple somewhere extra private to sit. A vanity table on the other side of the room already held golden hairbrushes and combs with Ginny's initials engraved upon them. French doors on either side of the bed led to a private balcony where a small table and two chairs were situated. There were four more doors leading off the main bedroom and Ginny was eager to explore each one. Two led to dressing rooms: one for Draco and one for herself. There were subtle differences in dressing rooms, but overall they were of the same design. Small things like the vanity in Ginny's dressing room was larger and the length of her hanging space had been extended, whereas much of Draco's hanging space was half the depth. The other doors led to private bathrooms or rather semi-private bathrooms. In each side there was an extra large shower, basin with large cupboards and a toilet, then the two rooms met in the middle with a bathtub large enough to be easily described as a swimming pool. The whole room was done in black marble with gold fixtures.
"The side closest to the bed is yours and I'll take the other, so I don't disturb you when I'm getting ready for work," Draco explained. "I thought about having two separate bathrooms, but I didn't know if you'd approve of that and there was the problem of who would get the bath."
"It's amazing, I love it all."
"Good, but remember you're free to change anything you want."
"I don't want to change a thing," Ginny responded honestly.
"Well the offer's there. Now I have another room to show you, if you're finished in here."
"Yes, lead on!"
"Wait here, I'll just make sure the kids are going to stay in their rooms until we're finished," Draco said. The rooms he had left to show his wife were for her only at this point and he wanted to show them off without having the twins' input.
Drake and Angel had decided to stay in their new rooms while their parents walked through their new living quarters. They'd both seen the rooms as they'd been decorated so there was nothing new to see as far as they were concerned.
"Are they all right?" Ginny asked as Draco walked back to her.
"Yes, they're fine. Both are planning where everything is going to go in their new rooms."
Ginny laughed. "God help the servants who get stuck moving them."
"Yes, well, I think that might happen when the children are otherwise occupied."
"It might be a good idea."
"Are you ready to see the next room?"
"Yes, where is it?"
They were standing at the next doorway along the corridor from the master suite. Draco opened the doors without explanation and stood back to allow Ginny entrance to the room. Unlike the other rooms he'd shown her, this one had not been fully decorated. The sitting room was bare apart from the fireplace and save for two pieces of furniture the bedroom was empty. An antique cradle and matching cot had been set up in opposing corners on the far side of the room. Both were exquisitely crafted and obviously family heirlooms given the Malfoy family crest worked into the wood of each piece.
"They were mine," Draco said softly from the doorway. "And before that my father's."
Ginny moved towards the cradle silently. Words just didn't seem enough to do the furniture justice. She remembered the two cradles the twins had used, though lovingly handcrafted by her father and brothers, they were a far cry from the perfect workmanship she saw before her now.
"If you'd rather new things for the baby that's not a problem," Draco continued quietly.
"No." Ginny tore her teary eyes from the cradle, turning to face her husband. "They're so beautiful."
Draco moved forward and took her in his arms. He held her tenderly for several minutes. "I didn't want to do too much in here, but I did have the bathroom and dressing room completed."
"Bathroom?" Ginny looked up at her husband, surprise more than evident in her eyes. "The baby has a bathroom?"
"Not just any bathroom, my love. A baby bathroom! Come I'll show you." Draco led her into the adjoining bathroom by the hand.
Ginny stared around in amazement. The bathroom had been designed specifically for caring for babies and toddlers. Along one wall there was a marble baby bath built into a wide bench. The space next to the bath was a change table and there were cupboards underneath for storage. On the other end of the bench was a small bathtub perfect for a toddler. Everything was at the perfect height for Ginny, she wouldn't be stretching too far or breaking her back when trying to bathe the baby. Another door led to a full-sized toilet pedestal for use by whoever was caring for the baby at the time.
"It's so perfect."
"You like it?"
"Good, I had them use mother to gauge the height of everything and everyone put in ideas of what would be good to have in here."
"It's all wonderful." A tear slid silently down her cheek. "I never dreamed—"
"Hey, don't cry. I just want you to be happy." Draco kissed away the scant tears on her cheeks. "I want to give you everything," he whispered huskily.
"I am happy, so happy."
"I'm glad." He dipped his head and captured her mouth briefly. "Anything you want for the baby, you get it. The decorators are waiting for your instructions to complete the nursery. I just had them do the bathroom and dressing room."
"You did the dressing room as well?"
"Err—yeah. You can change anything you don't like or think won't work."
"I'm sure it's perfect," Ginny assured him. "Show me."
The dressing room was next to the bathroom. No space in the area had been wasted. Drawers and cupboards were numerous with hanging space above much of them. Another change table was built into the top of cupboards.
"It's amazing. If I didn't know better, I'd say you've done this before."
"The only thing I can take credit for is paying the bill. The decorators suggested all of this and Mother put forward a few ideas, I just agreed."
"Well, I'm glad you did."
"I have one last room to show you."
Draco nodded and took her hand, leading her from the baby's rooms. He didn't stop until he reached the parlor Ginny had put aside for herself. "The wing and even the nursery are for all of us. I wanted to do something just for you."
As the doors opened, Ginny gasped. She couldn't believe her eyes. Her parlor had been redecorated almost exactly how she had pictured the room. Lucius' great-grandmother's desk sat in front of a wall of bookshelves with a chair that matched perfectly and two visitors' chairs on the other side. Across the room, a chaise lounge and two armchairs were situated around the fireplace. The light floral fabrics matched the chairs at her desk and the small occasional tables scattered around the room blended perfectly with the antique desk. The walls had been papered in a soft plum satin with a delicate pattern of flowers embossed into the fabric. Window seats had been built into the two recesses that held the long panes of glass. Ginny wandered over to the closest window, the view was breathtaking.
"Do you like it?" Draco asked hesitantly.
"Yes, it's just how I pictured."
"Really?" This was the room that had caused him much anguish. He hadn't convinced himself he was doing the right thing by allowing the decorators to touch it without consulting his wife.
"Yes, really." Ginny walked back to her husband. "Thank you, it's perfect."
"I'm glad you like it."
"I love it."
"Father will be pleased his search through the manor for all the furniture wasn't a waste."
"I don't follow."
"Mother told me you loved the desk and father mentioned his great-grandfather had purchased the entire collection to go with the desk, so the search was on to find everything that had been scattered throughout the manor over the years."
"I must remember to thank him then."
"He's just happy to see the furniture put back into service. He was very fond of his great-grandmother or so I'm told." Draco placed a light kiss on her nose. "Now you just have to finish all the other rooms."
"You know I've been giving the other rooms some thought."
"Yes and I've decided to leave those we won't be using on a regular basis as they are."
"Let me finish," she said kissing his chest. "There's really nothing wrong with the rooms, especially now they've been cleaned properly, so they can stay as they are. We might change them later, but I've got enough to worry about without spending so much time on rooms we never use. I'll finish the nursery of course, but I'd much rather spend my time on other projects."
"As long as you're comfortable with that," Draco said uncertainly.
"I am." Ginny smiled confidently. "Any room we'll be using or decide to use will be redecorated, but the others can wait until I have the time or inclination."
"Okay, you're the mistress of the manor, so I'm not about to argue with you."
"I am, aren't I? Mistress of the manor?"
"Yes you are and you're going to do a brilliant job."
"So what happens with your parents now?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, the servants and— I don't really know."
"The house elves serve the family as a whole, but now they answer to me first rather than my father."
"And you're responsible for running the house — meal planning, cleaning schedules and the like. Mother is more than willing to assist you, so make sure you enlist her help. She's often told me it's not as easy as it looks."
Ginny nodded thoughtfully. "I guess it's a good thing I love this room so much. It looks like I'm going to be spending a lot of time in here."
"It's not that bad. I'll have Mother take you through everything next week."
"It's okay I'll—"
"She won't mind," Draco said quickly, cutting her off. He could only imagine what his father would think if the house stopped running as efficiently as it had for the past twenty-six years or so.
"I was going to say, I would ask her myself."
"Oh, all right. I'm just trying to help."
"I know and I appreciate it, but I have to stand on my own two feet at some stage."
Draco drew her against his chest. "Do you know what I think?"
"I think you're going to make the best Mistress of Malfoy Manor ever."
Ginny examined his face for any hint of mirth, there was none. Draco was perfectly sincere. "You'd better not let your mother hear you say that."
"It wouldn't be terribly good for my health."
"No, it wouldn't."
"There are no portraits in here to tattle on me and you're not going to tell her."
"Good, I'd hate to die on my first night home." Draco kissed her deeply. He briefly wished they were still in Saint Tropez, lying in the sun with the real world banished to another dimension.
A loud crack interrupted his thoughts and he reluctantly withdrew from his pursuit of his wife's favor. Millie, the house elf, cowered before them.
"What?" Draco snapped.
"Millie is begging Master's forgiveness to be disturbing Master and Mistress. Old Mistress did say dinner is to be served at half past the hour."
"You will instruct the cook to hold dinner until we arrive in the dining room."
"As you wish, Master."
"And make sure the children are dressed for dinner."
"Young Master Drake and Miss Angelique is getting dressed now."
Millie bowed low enough to scrape her nose on the floor before Disapparating.
"I guess we should dress for dinner," Ginny murmured.
"Yes, if we're too long Mother is likely to get upset."
"We can't have that."
"It wouldn't be pretty," Draco advised as he escorted Ginny from the wing. "I'll have the servants move our things while we eat dinner."
"Wouldn't it be better to wait until tomorrow?"
"Did you want to supervise the move?"
"No, I'm sure they're capable of doing it without me getting in the way. I just thought it's an awful lot to move in a short time."
"Nonsense, they'll have it done in no time and besides I want to stay in our wing tonight."
They walked the remainder of the way back to the northern wing in comfortable silence. After quick showers they dressed for dinner and were on their way to the dining room. Draco had summoned Millie and instructed the servant to arrange the transfer of their belongings to the southern wing while they were at dinner.
"You realize we won't be dressing for dinner every night when we're eating in our own dining room," Ginny said as they negotiated the staircase.
"I thought you might bring that up at some stage."
"It's not practical, at least not with the kids."
"Love, it's fine. If you don't want to dress for dinner every night I'm not going to argue."
"Of course we'll have to whenever we eat with my parents."
"Not if we're in our dining room."
A pained expression crossed Draco's features. "Gin, it's mostly for Mother's sake that we go to the trouble. She was brought up that way and it's so ingrained in her to do what's considered proper that she gets quite agitated when it doesn't happen."
"If we go to their dining room, we'll dress, but it they come to ours we won't, unless it's a special occasion," Ginny said firmly.
"Fine, we'll try it that way."
"There's no trying, Draco. That's how we're doing it."
"All right," Draco agreed quietly. He certainly wasn't going to incite an argument over something so trivial. All he could do was hope his mother didn't make a fuss when she discovered their lax mealtime attire. It wasn't that Narcissa wasn't open to relaxing her principles from time to time, but he knew she'd be upset to see him ignoring the protocols he'd been raised with altogether.
The dining room was abuzz with small voices when Draco and Ginny arrived. Drake and Angel were animatedly describing the gifts their parents had bought them in France to their attentive grandparents.
"Father, we didn't realize you were home." Draco released his hold on Ginny to greet his father.
Lucius stood as soon as he saw his son and daughter-in-law. "You were with the children. I thought it better to allow them some time with you both. Welcome home."
Lucius nodded his acknowledgement before casting his mercurial gaze over his daughter in-law. "Ginevra, you're looking well rested."
"Thank you, Lucius. I'm very well rested."
"Shall we eat?" Narcissa threaded her arm through her son's. "I've had cook prepare your favorites as a welcome home and a belated celebration of your birthday."
"Thank you, Mother, that was very thoughtful."
"Oh nonsense, we missed celebrating your birthday and we must make amends."
Draco assisted his mother to take her seat and Lucius ensured Ginny was comfortable before striding to his own chair. As soon as Draco's backside touched his chair, house elves appeared ready to serve the evening meal.
Dinner passed with polite conversation. Talk was mostly focused on the newly redecorated wing and what Ginny's thoughts on the work done so far were. Lucius made general enquiries about their time on the French coast, but steered well clear of the special getaway he'd assisted his daughter-in-law in arranging for Draco's birthday. He didn't need to be told what the most preferable activity in the secluded spot was, even if Ginny hadn't fully realized when the arrangements were made.
After dessert had been served, the family retired to the parlor for a short time. Conversation had turned to the activities the children had been involved in over the last two weeks. Even though Draco and Ginny had been fully informed while they were away about what the twins were up to, there were some small excursions they hadn't known about, such as picnics, shopping and the like.
Lucius waited until there was a lull in the conversation to change the subject. He had just survived a fortnight of keeping the children entertained and did not particularly enjoy reliving the time, especially when much of the discussion was centered on insignificant matters that were of no consequence to anyone. "Draco, you are aware the children are required to commence their formal education no later than this September."
"September? I guess we need to give that some thought," Draco responded. He knew they had to begin this year, but as yet hadn't broached the subject with Ginny.
"It's all right, Lucius. Even if Draco hasn't thought about it, I have," Ginny said.
"Oh? And your plans?" Lucius regarded his daughter-in-law seriously. He wondered if she had any idea of what was expected in the way of education prior to commencing Hogwarts.
"I was home schooled and I'm going to do the same for the twins," Ginny informed him.
"Excellent," Lucius exclaimed. "I am pleased to hear I didn't have the schoolroom redecorated for nothing."
Ginny frowned. "Schoolroom?"
"We have a small schoolroom," Draco explained. "I was home schooled until I went to Hogwarts as well, so there's a room that resembles a classroom at the rear of the library."
Lucius cleared his throat to garner his son's attention. "I believe Professor Sutherland is still teaching."
Draco's eyes widened for a moment before turning very cold. "No. I won't allow him near my children."
"He is a fully qualified teacher and he did you no harm," Lucius countered.
"I disagree, Father," Draco responded solemnly. "I will find someone more suitable myself."
"Who is Professor Sutherland?" Ginny looked between the two men. She was quite confused over the change in Draco's attitude.
"My old tutor. He was a monster," Draco growled.
"He was stern," Lucius contradicted.
"You have your opinion, Father, however, you never spent any time with the man."
"Why are we discussing your old tutor?" Ginny interrupted again.
"The twins need a tutor to begin their education and if we are to secure the services of someone competent we need to appoint that person sooner rather than later," Lucius informed her somewhat impatiently.
Ginny shook her head. "The twins don't need a tutor."
Lucius' patience was wearing thin very quickly. "And how are they to begin their education without a teacher?"
"I'll teach them."
"You are not qualified to teach, Ginevra," Lucius pointed out.
"I was home schooled, in the traditional sense. My mother taught us from the age of four or five until we went to Hogwarts and I plan to do the same for my children."
"Perhaps you'd like to explain how you endeavor to achieve that while caring for a newborn?" Lucius' tone had deteriorated to one of contempt.
"My mother achieved that with relative ease and with many below schooling age. I don't see it as being a problem."
"I see, and what of your other duties?"
Ginny cut Draco off quickly. She wasn't about to allow Lucius to make her feel inadequate. It was her decision how the children were schooled not his. "What other duties?"
"To begin with we can look at the running of the household. You are now the Mistress of the Manor and you do have an obligation to see the house is run in the fashion to which it has for centuries. Then there are the social obligations of your now elevated social status."
"Social obligations?" Ginny repeated.
"Yes, did Draco not inform you? You will be required to attend luncheons, tea parties, dinners and such for charity groups. Your activities reflect upon the company, either by earning us more contracts or damaging our reputation."
"Father!" Draco raised his voice to put a stop to this discussion for the time being. "Ginny and I are yet to discuss arrangements for the twins' education. As for the social obligations expected of the Malfoy women, given Ginny's current condition she'll not be taking too much on until well after the baby is born."
"I see," Lucius sneered. He could have predicted this attitude from his son. The man was far too protective of his bride. "And what of the company?"
"If the company can't survive without Ginny drinking tea with some supercilious old hags then it can be damned," Draco snarled as he stood up. "Drake, Angel, say goodnight. Gin, we'll retire to our own parlor after tucking the children into bed."
The twins bid goodnight as instructed and stood by the door waiting to go upstairs. Neither of them dared to disobey or linger in the room when both senior wizards of the family were angry.
Ginny spoke to Narcissa for a few moments, but Draco couldn't hear what was said between the women. His mother was most likely imploring Ginny not to think badly of Lucius for his opinions. Draco watched his wife bid Lucius a curt good evening before leaving the room with the twins. He waited until he was certain Ginny would be well out of earshot before confronting his father again.
"I will not tolerate you speaking to my wife like that again."
"I was merely attempting to get her to see reason. She seems to be under the impression that she can do everything at once."
"It is my place to talk her around and get her to see reason, not yours."
"My apologies," Lucius drawled insincerely.
Draco glowered at his father. He knew it was useless to press the issue any further. His father wasn't sorry for his tone or anything he said to Ginny. He saw his diatribe as looking after the entire family, by ensuring the company would be well represented at functions. What Lucius didn't realize was that by trying to bully Ginny into doing as he wished, he'd most likely encouraged her to do the opposite just to spite him.
"Good night, Mother." Draco placed a kiss on Narcissa's cheek.
"Good night, darling."
Without another glance at his father, Draco strode from the room to join his family in their new home. He was thankful he'd had the servants move them this evening rather than tomorrow. The knowledge that it was unlikely that Ginny and Lucius would come face to face until he'd had the opportunity to talk to his wife was comforting. Draco knew Ginny hadn't even been worked up or angry, she appeared to be still trying to work out what was going on when Draco put a stop to the discussion. However, once she'd had time to think it over he knew her anger would develop. The notion that Lucius deserved all she would serve him nudged his conscience, but Draco still thought the best course of action was to put a stop to any further argument on the matter as soon as possible.
Draco found Ginny tucking the children into bed. He could hear them both complaining profusely as he neared their chambers, but as soon as he appeared in each room they quieted down, rolling over obediently to go sleep. When they were certain neither of the children would wander from their beds, Draco and Ginny ventured down to the family parlor.
Draco summoned a servant immediately. He ordered a pot of tea for Ginny and a large firewhisky for himself. They relaxed on one of the couches together with a heatless fire burning in the hearth, giving the room a cozy feel.
"What did Mother say to you before?"
"She just told me they had a charity luncheon to go to tomorrow so it was unlikely they'd see us before tomorrow evening."
"Was that all?"
"Yes, that was it."
Draco nodded thoughtfully. "I had words with Father after you left."
"I thought you might."
"He means well enough, but his method leaves much to be desired."
"So you agree with him? I shouldn't teach the twins?"
"It's not a matter of agreeing with him. What's important to me is that you don't overextend yourself. With the baby and the house to run you're going to be busy enough, add teaching the twins and you'll be exhausted."
"My mother did it and she was fine."
"Your mother didn't have a house this size to run and she couldn't afford a tutor," Draco pointed out gently. "Just this afternoon you said you'd be spending a lot of time in your study organizing the household."
"I know, I just always thought I'd be the one to teach the twins."
Draco smiled gently. He was getting through to her without having the discussion deteriorate into a heated debate. "Things aren't always as we envision, Gin. Sometimes we have to change our plans, whether we want to or not, because it's the right thing to do at the time."
Ginny sighed heavily. She knew he was right. She wouldn't have the time to educate the twins properly and would probably exhaust herself trying to do so. "So this tutor thing, how do we go about getting one?"
"We put the word out that we're looking for one and we see whose names pop up, then we create a short list of those to be offered interviews. From there we select someone who's not only qualified, but that we're comfortable with."
"What about the children? Don't they get a say in who they're comfortable with?"
"Good idea. We can eliminate anyone we're not comfortable with, then have the remainder meet with the twins to see how they react to them."
"Okay, when do we start?"
"I'll Floo Uncle Sev on Monday and see if he knows of anyone looking for a position. Word gets around fairly quickly and then the applications will start coming in."
"That's it? You make one Floo call?"
"Yes, pretty much. You see, Uncle Sev will contact anyone he considers good enough to teach my children and tell them to apply for the position. This way we only get good applicants or that's the theory at least."
"I can't believe I'm agreeing to this. Your father is going to be impossibly smug."
"No he won't and if he is, I'll deal with him. We're doing what's right for the children and for you; it's got nothing to do with his opinion."
"All right," Ginny answered skeptically.
"Enough of this talk. I'll sort it all out on Monday," Draco said emphatically. "Do you really like all the redecorating?"
"Yes, I love it and it's a relief to have it done. Thank you."
"You are most welcome." Draco kissed the top of her head. "You know we have a new bed to christen."
"We do," Ginny agreed. "And a new bathtub to try."
Draco jumped to his feet and pulled Ginny up to his chest. "What are we waiting for?"
They raced through the house, laughing and giggling loudly. Despite Draco's legs being somewhat longer than Ginny's, she was leading as they began their ascent of the staircase, so Draco pulled her back and kissed her deeply before taking off in the direction of their chambers, leaving her with weak knees on the stairs. It didn't take her long to recover and continue her pursuit. By the time they reached their chambers, they were laughing so hard they were breathless.
Rather than summon a servant to draw the bath, Ginny did it herself while Draco checked on the children. Like the Prefect's bath at Hogwarts, the enormous tub in their bathroom filled at an exceptional speed. As soon as she deemed the water deep enough, Ginny stripped off and entered the water. It was heavenly.
While she missed the privacy their honeymoon had afforded them, she was happy to be home. As her mind drifted over the events of the day the heated discussion with Lucius came back to haunt her. He had said she now had an elevated social position. Whether or not this was true, or even recognized if it were, was of no consequence to her. She was aware her life wasn't going to be the same as it was prior to her marriage. There were now expectations of her and it was blatantly obvious her father in-law would be the harshest judge of her conduct.
Her mind slowly became hazier and her thoughts grew more distorted as the heat of the bath relaxed her. Just before conscious thought abandoned her completely, she decided it didn't matter what others thought. She and Draco were happy and that was all that counted. In her eyes, her life was perfect. She was living a fairy tale, a dream from her childhood, the one that ended in happily ever after.
Huge thanks to Rainpuddle13 for her sensational beta skills, plot discussions and her brilliant idea for the fic title.