Author's note: This story is a sequel to What Is Love?. This story is a standalone but is best if you first read What Is Love then What Is Love Christmas 2006.
The story can be found on this site under What Love Is For
The Birthday Hunt Starts
A very enthusiastic seven year old Thuban Malfoy put his hunting boots on and bounced across the room snatching his vest and dog whistle. His excitement had been building ever since he'd overheard his parents discussing the hunting trip last month. Draco normally went nogtail hunting the first week of June and had wanted to take Thuban, but Ginny felt it was too dangerous for such a young wizard. As a compromise, the family was spending two days at a lodge where Thuban would hunt woodpigeons under Draco's watchful eye.
The little wizard scanned the room while putting on his vest and frowned when he was unable to locate his new hunting creel. One of the side bonuses of the hunt had been the purchase of numerous new items including a thirty-centimeter wicker creel replete with cloth harness. It wasn't the one he'd wanted, but his Mum had overridden his choice. The creel, which could hold either fish or birds and looked like a basket, had been on his nightstand. Displeased at finding it missing, Thuban spun and hissed at the first person he saw, six-year-old Cam coming out of the bathroom. His younger brother giggled and said, "You look just like Daddy when you make that face."
"Do you know where my basket went, Cam?" Thuban asked as he glared angrily at his brother.
"Don't growl at me, I didn't take it," Cam said pointing to the incriminating evidence, a stuffed lion, next to the nightstand. "Look."
Thuban picked up the lion and raced to the suite's lounge where he found the thief toddling on chubby little legs, creel around his neck, "Leo, look what I've got," Thuban tempted his baby brother with the toy, "it's your lion. I'll trade it for my creel."
At fifteen months, Leo's auburn hair now shone with highlights of strawberry and golden blond. Next to him stood four-year-old, Serpens whose hair had changed as well in recent months. Weasley red was asserting itself and the once totally blond mop now sported strawberry blond highlights as well.
Leo closed in on Thuban and grabbed for the lion only to find it pulled out of his reach with the demand, "Give me my creel first."
"Miy!" Leo screamed, trying to capture his lion.
Thuban tried to seize the creel but the toddler pulled away clutching the creel with one hand and reaching for the lion with the other. "Miy! Miy!" he screamed, tears running down his face.
Draco opened the front door in time to see Serpens kick Thuban in the shin, "Stop teasing Leo!" he exclaimed.
Thuban's fist stopped mid-swing at the sound of the dog's bark; the Irish setter at Draco's side had alerted them to their father's presence. "Sit, down, stay, quiet," Draco commanded the dog although his sons also followed the last two orders. "Good girl," he remarked and patted the dog before going over to his sons.
"Daddy, Thuban was teasing Leo," Serpens advised.
How quickly things change, Draco thought. Only months ago Serpens and Leo were at war fighting each other for his attention. Now they were best mates, teaming up to take on their older brothers time and time again. He gathered Leo up into his arms and was taken aback by the smell and feel of the nappy resting on his arm.
"Certainly, your mother didn't take you out of your crib. She would have changed you," Draco remarked looking at Serpens as he preceded to the bedroom his two youngest were sharing. "How'd he get out?"
"I don't know, Dad," Thuban replied, "but he took my hunting creel and won't give it back."
"Bad Foo… Da dee." Leo affirmed with a nodded.
"Am not!" Thuban replied, rubbing his shin in an attempt to bring Serpens' poor behavior to light. "Serpens kicked me, Dad, really hard too. I'm sure I'll have a big bruise."
"I believe you'll survive," Draco responded coldly. If he stepped in every time one of his boys had a disagreement, he'd have no time to do anything else.
Thuban wrinkled his nose, "Serpens broke a rule. We're not to hit, kick or bite each other."
"It appeared to me that you were about to deliver a blow when I entered. If you like, I can punish you both."
Thuban sat down on the bed in defeat, still holding the toy lion. Life wasn't fair.
"I didn't think so," Draco commented.
Focusing his attention on Leo, Draco continued with the task at hand, "Let's get you a fresh nappy."
"Miy!" The toddler pointed at the lion in his brother's hand.
"Of course it is," Draco motioned for the toy and Thuban handed it over. To his surprise, his father took the creel from Leo and returned it to its owner.
This caused Leo's temper to erupt and the toddler screamed, "No… Da dee… Miy!" As he began to thrash his body around in a tantrum, Draco quickly put him in his crib and placed cushioning charms on it. Draco sat down on Serpens' bed resting his chin on his entwined fingers, closed his eyes and waited out Leo's fit. It wasn't long before the toddler stopped thrashing and whispered, "Da dee"
Draco approached the crib asking, "Are you done?" He lifted Leo out and placed him on the changing table. Tears were still falling from the babe's eyes. He looked up at his father.
"What is it, little mate?"
The littlest wizard's turned his head and pointed at the creel, "Miy…"
"No, it's Thuban. Do you like it?" Draco asked as he used his wand to change and clean his son.
Leo nodded and babbled a long string of unintelligible words. Seeing the confusion, Serpens informed Draco, "He likes putting stuff inside of it."
Thuban dumped the creel out onto the bed. Numerous toys scattered out, most belonging to the two oldest boys. "They're taking all our stuff again, Cam!" He called into the next room prompting the six-year-old to join his siblings.
"Daddy!" Cam huffed.
"Good, you're all here," Draco said, ignoring Cam's plea for justice. "Now, what's the rule about removing Leo from his crib?"
"Only adults are allowed. If he tries to climb out we're to get an adult," the older boys acknowledged, although Serpens tried to hide and not look Draco in the eye.
"Very good. If I find Leo out one more time, I'll place the wards back on his crib and spank the offender, understood?"
Draco lifted the toddler and placed him on the ground. Leo went to Thuban and pulled on the creel, "Miy!"
"No," Thuban turned quickly causing the baby to fall on his bottom.
Leo screamed, "Bad! Bad!" pointing at his eldest brother.
"I didn't mean to knock him down, Dad."
Draco closed his eyes for a moment collecting his wits before picking the toddler back up. He pointed at the creel, "That is Thuban's. However, if you're a good boy, Daddy will get you one this afternoon."
The seven-year-old fought hard not to roll his eyes. It was always the same. Leo cried. Dad bought him something. But Thuban couldn't take the chance of protesting again. Dad didn't like being second guessed. Only Mum got away with doing that and Grandmother sometimes. As he thought about it, Thuban lit upon a great idea: he removed the creel from his neck and handed it to his father.
"He can have it. We can't leave Mum with a crying baby." He placed a fake frown on his face. Thuban knew if he played this right the 46 centimeter creel with dragon hide trim and harness he really wanted would be his before nightfall.
"Thank you, Son." Draco wasn't fooled. The boy would want something in return. He merely hoped the item wasn't too pricey or large. The blond wizard exhaled with great relief when Leo took the creel and hurried off. He loved the little toddler but he hated this 'mine' phase. Leaning against the doorframe he watched his four sons play. Despite the thought that had crossed his mind only minutes ago, Draco enjoyed being a father of four. A glance at the clock reminded him that he needed to get moving. "Thuban keep an eye on your brothers. I need to speak with Mummy."
The little wizard sat up and nodded. It wasn't often that Draco or Ginny assigned him this task and he was proud to shoulder the responsibility. Draco knew that all the boys would be on their best behavior for at least fifteen minutes and that's all he needed.
Entering the master bedchamber the sight of Ginny's hair fanned over her pillow caught his eye. She had thrown on his undershirt sometime after he'd left to take the dog for her morning walk. Draco dismissed the idea of cuddling back up in bed with his wife.
He kissed the fiery redhead's cheek, "Ginny, the boys are up."
"It's only five," she moaned half asleep.
"I'll summon Nan. She'll feed and watch them for a time."
"Thanks," a sleepy Ginny replied but crept out of bed anyway exposing her long exquisite legs. "I might as well get up now." She cast a quick freshening charm, retrieved clean knickers and jeans from the drawer and explained, "Serpens won't let you go without a fuss."
As soon as she'd placed her long scarlet mane in a ponytail, Draco gathered her into a hug and attacked her neck with his mouth. She relaxed in his arms and sighed, "Merlin, I wish we had time."
He ceased his assault and rested his head on her shoulder, "I can't wait for next month. Two weeks, no children, just you and me." With a kiss on her cheek, he started for the door.
"Yes, our anniversary trip. We're going to the Caribbean," she answered as she put on her bra, clean shirt and brushed her teeth.
"Nice try, love. Maybe it's the Caribbean but then again, it could be something very different. The elves will pack you," he smirked.
Ginny placed an arm around his waist as they walked out of the bedchamber, "You're lucky I like surprises."
"It will be a good surprise."
She glimpsed at his eyes, "That reminds me. I know it's traditional for Lucius to give Thuban a hunting wand today. Is there any way your father can keep it at the Manor? The boys won't stop looking for it, if it's at Black Hall."
"It will stay Manor or in my office." He paused, "Ginny, you don't need to worry about this morning. Thuban will be fine. He'll likely have the time of his life."
"I know you wouldn't do anything dangerous with him but…"
He cut her off, "There are no buts, Ginny. Thuban knows to stay by my side and if he doesn't the hunt will be stopped before it even starts. There are no second chances. We're going to a private hunting ground and using only hunting spells. The boy would have to turn the wand on himself to get hurt and even then it would be no more than a minor sting." Turning to face her he emphasized, "Thuban will be safer on the hunt then he is in the backyard of our home."
"I'll try to stop worrying."
As they reached the entryway of their suite, Nan was letting Lucius in. The poor elf hadn't even completed her bow when Leo knocked her off balance in his haste to get to his grandfather, flying across the room and hurling himself into Lucius' arms with deafening cries of "Gamfa… Gamfa." Lucius didn't seem to mind. He merrily hoisted the toddler up tossing him repeatedly into the air until Leo laughed. Lucius pulled the little boy close for a hug and was rewarded with a sloppy kiss on the cheek.
"Good morning, Leo. What a wonderful welcome." Before he could say another word he was surrounded by his other three little grandsons.
Serpens attached himself to one of Lucius' legs and greeted him with, "Good morning, Grandfather," while Cam hugged the other leg and pleaded, "Good morning, Grandfather. May I please go with you and Daddy and Thuban? I'll just watch. Please!"
A dignified Thuban nodded and spoke politely, "Good Morning, Grandfather, how are you today?"
"Very well, Thuban. And yourself?"
"Excellent, I can't wait to go."
"Good Morning, Father."
"Good Morning, Lucius."
"Good Morning, Draco, Ginevra."
"Would you like some breakfast or tea, Lucius?" Ginny politely offered.
"No thank you, Ginevra. I've already eaten."
Cam and Serpens whispered into Thuban's ear who nodded in return, "Grandfather, is it alright if Cam and Serpens see the hunting wand?"
Lucius looked to Ginny, who nodded, "Of course they may."
The group went to the sofa where Lucius sat down with Leo on his lap and the three older boys knelt in front of him as he removed a box from his cloak. He detached the top to expose a freshly polished hawthorn wand. All four boys leaned close to the item eyeing it with wonder. This would be the first wand one of them would be allowed to touch without Draco holding their hand. Even at fifteen months, Leo knew not to touch it.
As her sons stared at the item, Ginny wondered what story Lucius would tell them about hunting wands. There were so many tales about how they came to be. They weren't really wands. Their exteriors were made from the same types of trees as real wands but these had no magical core. They were simply charmed to perform stunning spells. The user didn't even need to be magical. Ginny had heard two tales about their origins. First, that the medieval witch, Cliodna, created the first one in order to conceal the fact that her youngest daughter was a Squib. The second, that Merlin created the first one as a test to see if he could charm wood before he placed the permanent stunning charms on the sword Excalibur.
"This wand is one of the oldest objects belonging to the Malfoys. For over four hundred years it has been our family's tradition to take each seven year old Malfoy wizard on his first hunt. Thuban, this wand is yours to use today, accompanied by your father, godfather and me. If you have a successful hunt, you will be allowed to use the wand for one year."
"What's a successful hunt, Grandfather?" Thuban asked. "Do I have to get a bird?"
Lucius smiled at the boy. "You must detail your understanding of proper wand uses and you must follow the instructions we give you."
"That's easy. If I do that, I get to keep the wand?" Thuban asked, excited.
"You get to use the wand. Your father and I will store it for you."
The little wizard frowned, "Just like my broom, I have to get permission to use it." He shrugged and continued, "Better than nothing." Thuban then raised his brow and inquired, "What happens after a year? I'll need a wand to hunt and so will Cam."
"If you prove you can be responsible with a wand, you'll get your own hunting wand for your eighth birthday," Draco responded. "However, the rules for that wand will remain the same. I'll store it and you'll have to ask permission to use it."
"OK," Thuban, satisfied, turned to Ginny and hugged her, "bye, Mum." He then said his goodbye to his brothers. "I'm ready."
Draco messed the boy's hair affectionately before giving Ginny a hug and kiss goodbye.
"Have fun," she kissed his cheek, "don't get too tired out. Your parents are watching the boys after lunch and I have a boat reserved for a peaceful row around the lake."
Serpens pulled at his father's trousers and gave Draco his saddest look, "I'll miss you so much, Daddy. Can I please come?"
"Sweetheart," Ginny knelt in front of Serpens, "if you let Daddy go without a tear, you may play with the new dragon toys Uncle Charlie got you."
Mollified, the little wizard hugged his father and then headed over to say goodbye to Lucius. He had just gotten there when Leo started to cry, "No… No… No…"
Lucius tried to put Leo down but he wouldn't let go so he looked to his daughter-in-law for help.
"Come to Mummy, baby"
"No… No… No…," cried the toddler before saying a number of unintelligible words.
"I wish I could understand you, Leo," Lucius replied.
Serpens placed his hands on his hips and stared at his grandfather, "Leo said, don't go. Stay with him. And he loves you."
The toddler grasped his grandfather's face turning it so their eyes met, "Of oo"
The wizard beamed, "I love you, too."
Thuban ran up to the pair with his hunting basket in hand, "Look Leo." The older boy opened the box up to show a toy lion. He then placed the basket a short distance away from his baby brother and started playing with the lion and basket. Cam joined in the game. Each boy roared as they had the lion jump in and out of the basket. It wasn't long before the toddler wanted down.
He pushed the older boys aside and firmly said, "Miy"
Draco, Lucius and Thuban took this opportunity to make their escape and were only a couple steps down the hallway when Blaise came off the lift. He chuckled at the look on Lucius' face, "Leo tried to detain you, again?"
Before he could answer the door to Draco's suite opened. The Irish setter ran out and Leo's cries of "Gamfa… Gamfa…," could be heard for a moment before the door closed.
Lucius took a step back towards the room.
"Father, you will have the whole afternoon with him. He'll be fine."
"I hate leaving when he's crying."
Draco sighed heavily, "And that's why he cries."
Thuban stood inside the lift holding the door open, "Hi, Uncle Blaise. You ready to go hunting?"
The wizards took the hint and stepped into the lift. The Irish setter leaned up against Blaise, who reached down and patted her.
"Good morning to you, Lady Rani the Scarlet Jewel," the dark haired wizard said to the dog before smirking at his godson.
"We simply call her, Rani," the boy snared.
Greg reentered the room and glanced at his bed. The covers were no longer around the chest of his lovely fiancée but at her waist exposing the full firm breasts of the eighteen year-old. He was contemplating skipping breakfast and crawling back into bed with his enchanting witch when a house elf knocked.
"Master, I is sorry. Buts Mr. Pucey be at the door with Master Gregory and Master Gary."
"Show my sons to their playground and Mr. Pucey to the parlor. I'll be down in a minute," Greg seethed. Biting back his anger, he kissed his lovely witch and whispered, "Diane, love, you have to get up. The boys are here."
She stretched, kicking the covers farther off revealing her golden-brown curls and complained, "They're not due until two."
"Yep, I know. I can't wait to hear his reason this time. Hurry up, sweets. You need to Disapparate before…"
She turned and snarled, "I'm aware you don't want the boys to know I stayed the night but can't you at least keep them downstairs until I shower!"
He kissed her cheek, "Of course I can." He turned to exit the room and then looked back to tell her, "Apparate to the front door in thirty minutes. I have two meetings this morning and my mother's busy so you'll have to watch the boys."
"Can't. I have plans this morning," she snapped as she walked naked to the bathroom.
"Sunning at the beach with your friends isn't plans!" he barked.
Diane scowled at him, "They are so. I'm not spending my summer holidays…"
"I'll remind you, my sweet, if it wasn't for me you would be working at the Leaky Cauldron this summer. I informed your father that you were needed to watch my children." He walked over, kissed her cheek and patted her bare bottom.
"I…" she started but he claimed her lips.
After the kiss, he spoke softly, "I'll see you at the front door in thirty minutes." Greg pinched her bottom and added, "I love you, Diane."
She walked away from him and entering the bathroom she left the door open a crack and yelled, "I'm sick of my father and you trying to control me. Monday, I start working at the Sports Pub." With that the witch closed the door and placed her strongest locking charm on it.
"You are fucking bloody not working at that pub. I'll not have my fiancée wearing practically nothing, serving randy old wizards drinks," Greg screamed, pounding on the door.
"Go downstairs and talk to Pucey. I'll watch the boys for you today. We can talk about my new job over the weekend."
Draco walked his wife away from the boat rentals by the large lake and headed down a tranquil path. The redhead leaned into his chest as they walked arm and arm down the flower lined trail. Her first thought was that her husband wanted to take a peaceful stroll before their boat ride, but then she saw the gondola by a private dock.
In front of her lay an enchanting little river surrounded by gorgeous colorful plants and flowers. The only sounds were those of leaves rustling in the breeze and birds singing. It was a very romantic setting and she did her best to hold her tongue as he helped her sit on the extraordinarily soft pillowed bottom of the boat.
She rested against his chest as the magically powered boat started down the river slowly. Draco caressed her arms and placed light kisses on her neck, but the fiery witch couldn't relax. She loved her husband but his habit of always changing her plans had upset her. If she arranged a romantic dinner at his favorite French restaurant, he would Floo and add a serenade. It had been endearing at first, particularly his adding a bubble bath to her well planned passionate dinner for two. In the last month though, it had started to bother her. She wanted to romance him once in a while.
"What's wrong, Gin?"
"My plans not good enough for you, Mr. Malfoy?" she tried to say in a teasing tone, but her annoyance was clear.
Draco raised a brow at her, "These are your plans, Mrs. Malfoy. Did you not request a quiet romantic boat ride? I merely asked the desk clerk for direction."
"I arranged a boat ride on the lake," she replied.
"Really? That's what you asked for?"
"No. I requested a romantic private boat ride for two." Realizing her mistake, she graced Draco with a sheepish look and kissed his cheek, "Sorry."
"Well, I can understand your mistake. I have a bad habit of changing your plans and taking charge of the romancing," he admitted. Then he turned to wink at her and urged, "So, on with it woman, woo me."
Ginny opened their lunch basket, removed a small bowl, fork, napkins and fed her wizard.
He's eyes sparkled, "That's your Pesto Turkey Salad." He made for the basket, "Do you have your mince pies in there too?"
She swatted his hand away playfully and teased, "Maybe," as she fed him another folk full.
"It's outstanding, love. When do you find the time…" he was cut off by another folk full of the delicious salad.
Draco remained quiet as his wife fed him the contents of the bowl. He smiled when she removed the individual sized mince pie from the basket and couldn't stop himself from licking his lips at the sight. Mince pie had always been his favorite. He liked custard or cream with it, unless it was Ginny's. The flavor of her mince pies was so wonderful that he thought it a crime to cover them with anything. Draco was known to huff at anyone who would dare despoil his wife's mince pie in such a manner. He even forbade the house elves to place custard or cream on the table when her pie was served.
Once the food was gone he laid down in the boat pulling Ginny to him to cuddle and watch the clouds pass overhead.
"Love you, Ginny. Dazzling idea this." He kissed the top of her forehead.
"Luv ya' back," she kissed his chin. "So, tell me all about your morning. I know it must have been tiring since Lucius carried our sleeping son to the room and Rani fell asleep as soon as her paws were at the foot his bed."
Frowning, Draco explained, "Well, Rani and Thuban were so excited that for the first two hours they chased every animal away before we were within wand shot." Unable to continue his act of consternation, chuckles entered his tone as he continued, "They found every mud patch in the forest. My wand hand got tired from all the cleaning charms. Thuban got a couple squirrels, although we were hunting fowl." Draco paused then grinned broadly, "Best day of hunting in my life. I wouldn't change a thing. I can't wait for tomorrow morning."
"Are any of my brothers coming tomorrow morning?"
"Bill, Charlie and your father are and the twins will join us for dinner. Percy came up with some lame reason about working and," he paused, "Ron is staying home with the baby. Bill, Charlie and the twins will be joining Greg, Vincent and I nogtail hunting Sunday thru Wednesday. Blaise backed out." Draco poured himself a glass of wine and one for Ginny, "I discussed it with him. Pansy tried to talk him into going, but I told him to stay with her. You witches can be tricky, telling us to go when you really want us to stay."
Ginny rolled her eyes, "She wasn't being tricky, Pansy wants Blaise to know he's still free to choose, even though she really does want him to stay home. He's acting like a typical first time father, feeling a little trapped like you did before Thuban was…"
Draco cuddled his wife into his chest and gave her a sorrowful look, "Merlin, Ginny, I was a ghastly cad. I don't want to think about those times. If you want to speak about our past, let's remember the last six months. They've been the happiest days of my life." He took a drink of his wine. "Merlin, I love just being with you."
Ginny stood in a room full of large hot tubs and was soon joined by Padma, Pansy, Fleur, Diane and Luna, each wearing a white terry cloth bathrobe: an odd collection of women. Only Luna had been Ginny's friend at Hogwarts and was now married to Ron and the mother of a month-old baby girl. Fleur, married to her brother Bill, had become Ginny's friend after the wedding and had two children, eight year old Gabe and six year old Brittany. The three other witches had become Ginny's friends through their relationships with Draco's best mates. Padma had married, divorced and remarried Vincent Crabbe. They had three children, Victor seven, Patty six, and Kenny four and another little girl on the way. Pansy was, herself, Draco's long time friend and had married Blaise Zabini the previous summer. Their first child, a baby girl, was due in a couple of weeks. Diane, Greg Goyle's eighteen year old fiancée, had been difficult for Ginny to befriend at first but had grown on her. She was Blaise's cousin.
"Ginny," Luna asked, "I thought Mum and Marietta were coming." Marietta Edgecombe, Percy's wife, worked at the Ministry and was just as power hungry as her husband. They had one child, Preston, eighteen months old.
"I thought Ron would have told you. Mum went to help him with Sophie."
"I arranged for Hermione to help him. I love your mum, Ginny. But she needs to…"
"Get used to it, Luna," Fleur interjected. "There is no changing Molly now. She believes that a wizard can't take care of a newborn. Once the baby is six months old, she will back off."
"Count yourself lucky," Ginny added. "Narcissa is always looking for a reason to watch the boys. I invited her but she refused to come. She thought Leo was too young for the lodge's daycare center. Marietta will be joining us after our soak and massage. She had work to do early this morning"
Luna nodded, "I was surprised you invited her. Marietta's still upset about Leo's pushing Preston down last month."
The redhead grumbled, "I should be the one upset. She called my baby a junior Dea…"
Padma patted Ginny's arm, "Marietta was just being an overprotective first time mum. She said it out of anger and didn't mean it. Besides, we're here to relax," she said as she guided Ginny to the attendant. "We have reservations under Malfoy."
"Of course, I was just reviewing the Owls from your midwitches. They have requested a lower temperature spa for the expecting witches. We could place you in two groups?"
The witches looked at each other and whispered, deciding, "No, we'll all go with the cooler spa."
The attendant led them to the back of the room where Diane, Fleur and Ginny took off their robes. Each was wearing a bikini and was very shapely.
Padma sighed, "I used to have a body like that."
"Get your arse in the water, Ginny, you make me sick," Pansy pouted playfully and continued, "a mother of four shouldn't have a flat belly and firm breasts." Turning to Fleur she commented, "And you're the mother of two…" the Slytherin shrugged her shoulders and removed her robe revealing a one piece suit and her very pregnant belly. "Maybe there's hope for me too."
"I know it's asking a lot, Parkinson," Padma added, "but maybe if you're nice they'll tell us their secret."
Luna stepped into the tub, "Draco's Ginny's secret," she giggled. "He makes sure she gets plenty of exercise."
The witches giggled as Ginny and Luna helped Padma into the tub and Diane and Fleur did the same for Pansy who pointed at Ginny's top noting, "That isn't the swimsuit Draco got you for his birthday."
Ginny blushed as red as her hair, "Who told you about that?"
"Blaise was with him when he got it."
"Your husband bought you a swimsuit for his birthday?" Diane questioned.
"I wouldn't call it a swimsuit. More like two strings with four microscopic triangular pieces of cloth attached," Ginny's color deepened as she replied, "and yes, when it comes to that type of clothing he buys it as a gift to himself. It's not like I could wear it in public."
Luna nodded her head, "I told you. Plenty of exercise."
Ginny coughed trying not to laugh and changed the subject, "Pansy, how did your midwitch's appointment go yesterday?"
"It went fine. I want to hear more about this swimsuit. Did Draco like his private showing?"
The redhead rolled her eyes, "Yes, he did but it wasn't on for long. The pool deck left an awful rash on my bottom and those pool side tables you helped me pick out can take one hell of a pounding." She smirked at her friend, "Good enough?"
Pansy fanned herself, "Yes. You know I have to live through you for the next month. This being gentle so he doesn't hurt the baby shite is driving me crazy."
Padma nodded her head. "I can live with slow and gentle for six months. It's Vince's continual asking me if it's alright that gets to me. He's always mistaking noises of pleasure for pain and stopping." She giggled, "I find myself chanting 'feels good… feels good…' all the time now."
Ginny couldn't contain her laughter, "No wonder Vincent's been prancing around lately. The man thinks he's a sex god."
"That grin on his face has nothing to do with sex. With Hogwarts out for the summer, it's easy to find a sitter for the kids. The witch down the street comes over every night from nine to ten, while Vincent and I take a walk."
Ginny laid her head back and closed her eyes, "Oh, walks, those are nice. Well anytime you can get as a couple away from everyone is." She sat up, "I almost forgot the lodge has an enchanted river with gondolas. It was so peaceful and romantic. Draco and I had a wonderful time yesterday."
"I don't think a romantic boat ride would be a good idea for Greg and me right now. I'm just hoping to make it through the next two days without another row," Diane sighed.
"What's the problem, Diane?" Pansy inquired, "maybe we can help. Goyle isn't the easiest person to get along with, and then throw in his insane ex-wife and I can't believe you're still with him."
"Pansy, stop it. Lavender isn't crazy. She's merely pregnant and things aren't going the way she'd like with Adrian," Luna added.
"Lavender's only problem is that she wants a perfect marriage but she doesn't want to work at it. Everything has to go her way and when it isn't, she blames Adrian," Padma paused. "It was her not Adrian who decided to get pregnant so quickly. She did it for the wrong reasons, too, and now she's blaming him."
"That's what I mean, she's off it," Pansy repeated. "One day she's screaming at Ginny outside of Flourish and Blott's about Ginny's allowing Draco to talk her out of having another baby then a week later she's screaming at Adrian because he didn't talk her out of becoming pregnant."
Fleur gave her sister-in-law a mystified gaze, "You're not going to try for a little girl?"
"Yes, I plan on having at least one more child." Ginny took a drink of water. "You all remember how obsessed I was with having a baby girl in November and December?" The witches nodded. "Well, Draco was really sweet through the whole thing. He even located an old Chinese Wizarding chart that may help us make sure the next baby is a little girl. We were going to start trying on New Year's but when he asked me why I wanted to have another baby now. He was willing but preferred to wait a year so we can have some more time alone. With Leo almost one, it's easier for us to get away so I agreed to wait." Ginny smiled at her friends, "He was right, too. The last four months have been wonderful. It's the first time in almost eight years that I haven't been pregnant, nursing or trying to get pregnant. But I think we should start trying for our little witch soon. A May or June baby would nice."
"What does Draco think?" Pansy asked.
"Haven't told him yet but I'm sure he'll be fine. He's been hinting around."
Luna laughed, "He's been more then hinting. The other day at the Burrow he had Sophie in his arms for hours." Turning to Pansy she continued, "Every time Ginny walked by he'd say something like 'I miss having one this size around' or 'I enjoy having a baby in my arms'."
Ginny smiled, "I'm sure anytime during or after our trip next month would be fine with him." She paused, "Let's get back to Diane and Greg's problem. What's going on?"
"I'm sick of Greg and my father controlling my life. I need some freedom and I can't do that without money."
"You got a JOB! Good for you!" Pansy said. "I'm sure Greg's having a right fit about it."
"I'm getting a flat too with a couple of girls from school. It's in Muggle London. I haven't told him about that yet."
"I would have loved to have had my own flat for awhile. I went straight from school into marriage," Ginny said.
"Draco did give you a break, Ginny. Remember, he sent us on a six week tour of Europe?" Luna reminded her.
"Yeah, that trip did help." Ginny turned to Diane and advised, "You need to talk with him. Tell him everything you have planned and how you are feeling."
"Do it as soon as we get back to the lodge. I'm sure you'll argue, but it's best to get this settled before he goes hunting for the next week," Padma counseled.
"If Greg comes home and you're living in a London flat, he'll think the worst," Pansy noted putting her arm around the young witch's shoulder. "You do love him and want to marry him?"
"Of course, I do," Diane's voice cracked and her eyes teared. "I don't want to lose him but I don't want to be controlled. I thought he was different and sometimes he is but then..."
Ginny leaned forward, "It's like there are two of him."
"Draco was like that for the first couple of years. He'd be a controlling arse one moment and a loving husband the next. Luckily for us, the charming loving wizard lived in his heart and fought harder and harder everyday to take over."
"Vincent pulled that controlling crap also. Most wizards try it. It's going to work out between you two. It will be easier for you and Greg, seeing how his two best mates have already been through this," Padma offered with a smile.
"Where are you going to work?" Luna asked.
"My friend got me a job at the new Sports Pub in Diagon Alley. She said the tips are great."
Ginny shook her head, "You don't want to work at a place like that."
"Greg's already talked with Draco hasn't he?"
"No, Diane, I worked at a place like that for a summer. Yes, the tips were outstanding, but are a couple of galleons worth a pinch on the arse or a smelly drunk rubbing against you?"
"What about the twin's shop?" Fleur recommended.
"Brilliant idea, Fleur." Ginny turned to Diane, "The twin's are looking for a saleswitch at the Diagon Alley shop for the next four months."
"I don't want to get you involved in our fight, Ginny."
"You won't be and it may make things easier on you and Greg." Confused, Diane frayed her brows and Ginny explained, "Kim, their employee, had to take a six month leave from work and they're leaving her position open for her return so they only need a short term worker. They haven't been able to find one, so I've been helping them. Fred's working the store and I'm doing their books from home. It was fine at first because I could do most of the work while Serpens and Leo were napping. But now with Cam and Thuban out of school for the summer, I find myself sending the boys to Mum's or Narcissa's for a couple of hours every day and I'm also working late in the evening. Draco isn't pleased and neither am I."
Pansy smiled, "Sparkling idea, Gin. Diane, you can tell Greg that you want to help Ginny by taking the job at Weasley Wizard Wheezes."
The attendant came over at that point and told them, "Ladies, it's time for your facials."
Ginny climbed out and put on her robe. "Fred and George should be at the lodge tonight. You can talk with them. You'd get paid on commission and the shop is very busy all summer long."
Fred, George and Thuban sat away from the other wizards discussing matters of great interest to them, "The fake worms were super. They squirmed around on the girls for long enough to make them scream but turned into candy by the time Dad and Uncle Bill came over. The disappearing vomit worked too." Thuban shook his head, "I couldn't test anything else. Grandpa started looking at me funny."
George peeked over at Arthur and caught his eye, "How's the fishing going, Dad?"
"Wonderful, you lot should join us."
Fred stood, "You're right, mate, he's on to us. We better go."
Before they could get far, there were a number of loud Apparition pops.
"Hi, Mum," Thuban hugged his mother.
"Hello, sweetheart," Ginny hugged him back and turned to her brothers, "Diane's looking for a job, are you two willing to give her a go at the shop?"
"You worked in your family's restaurant in Dialog Alley?" Fred asked.
"I worked the sales counter in the bakery last summer."
George's eyes twinkled, "Blimey, Fred, why are you asking her that? She's a bit of alright. She'll bring more blokes into the shop."
"She is buff," replied his twin.
Greg cleared his throat, "Ay! What did you say about my fiancée?"
"We were merely being gentlemen."
"Told her she looked striking."
"We'll Owl Frank, Diane,"
"And let him know you'll be starting Monday."
The twins walked off with Thuban and Greg turned to Diane, "What was that all about?"
"Let's go for a walk and talk, Greg," the young witch turned to Ginny, "keep an eye on Gregory and Gary for us, please." Ginny nodded and Diane led Greg off.
"What do you have in your head this time?" He snapped.
The young witch sat down next to the closest tree, put her hands over her face and began to cry, "I love you, I really do but… I can't…." She dropped her hands and wiped her eyes. "Do you love me, because it doesn't feel like it?"
Greg sat down next to the witch but she moved away. "Yes, I love you. I tell you that every day. I look after all your wants and needs."
"I want to take care of myself for a couple of months. The Weasley twins offered me a job. So I won't be working at the Sports Pub. That should make you happy I don't want to live with my parents any longer. I'm renting a flat in London with two friends. It will be good for both of us. I won't have to lie to my parents every time I want to spend the night with you. Plus we can always come back to my flat when the boys are at Goyle Manor."
"You can live in my family's London townhouse. I'll give you an allowance," Greg replied.
She sighed, "I don't want to be a kept witch! If I live in your townhouse then you will expect me to always be there whenever you feel like popping in. I want to be free to come and go without informing you."
"Just where in the bloody hell do you need to go and not inform me about?" He complained.
"Nowhere… Everywhere… It would just be nice to leave without being integrated."
"Damn it witch! You're my fiancée. It's only respectful for you to inform me of your whereabouts," Greg glared in the witch's eyes, "again, I ask, where do you need to go?"
The witch caught on, "You think I'm seeing someone else!" She stood up, "How dare you! How dare you think that of me! I haven't so much as kissed another wizard since you took my virginity. How many witches have you had since that day?" Tears fall from her eyes. "I didn't want to fall in love with you, it just happened. You're… You're… a bloody bastard!" Diane tried to storm off but Greg seized her wrist.
"We're not done discussing this!" he growled.
"Get your hands off of me!" she screamed.
"Not until you sit back down!"
"Let go, Greg. You're hurting me," she cried. There were two Apparition pops behind her.
"Goyle, let's go for a walk, mate," Draco grasped Greg's forearm squeezing and forcing him to release Diane. He then turned the wizard away from the young witch.
Blaise put an arm around Diane's waist, "Greg needs some time to cool off. I believe you could use some time as well." He yelled after the wizards, "Go for a walk with Malfoy, Goyle. I'll take Diane back to the other witches."
The wizards headed to the meadow, "I wouldn't have hit her, Draco. I'm not my father." Greg paused, "I was about to let her go."
"You need to give her some space, mate. I understand it's hard to do but if you don't, you'll lose her. I went through this with Ginny last year."
"Your wife didn't want her own flat and to get a job," Greg replied.
"It's not about a flat or a job. She wants freedom. Are you too blind to see that? You and her parents are always telling her what to do. Plus you have to know where she is every minute of the day."
"Don't you know where Ginny is during the day?"
"Most of the time, but that's because she has four boys to watch. There are times I Floo to an empty house or my mum or Molly may be there watching the boys. She leaves a note if she knows I'm coming home. But if I Apparate home from lunch unannounced, she may not be there."
"It doesn't bother you that Ginny's not there if you need her?"
"If you want someone waiting at home for you whenever you decided to pop in, get a dog or a crup. Besides you're not always available for her are you?"
"Malfoy, that's not the same. I have to work."
Draco raised a questioning brow to his friend, "Really, it's only work. Diane knows what pub we go to after work sometimes?"
"Alright, I see your point. So you think I should let her work and get a flat?" Greg asked.
"There's no letting, mate, she's going to do it and you need to be supportive," Draco smirked at his friend. "This could be the best thing to happen. The twins' shop is very busy in the summer. She's going to be bloody exhausted at the end of a day. Plus she's a spoilt pampered rich witch who, after a week or two without a house elf, will be begging for the townhouse and its servants."
"So, if I'm lucky she'll be over this by the end of our hunting trip."
"I'm hoping she's stubborn enough to keep working through the summer. With Diane at the shop, Ginny will stop doing their book work," Draco turned so they were walking back to their friends.
Greg shook his head, "I see. It's fine for my fiancée to work, but not your wife."
"My wife has four little wizards to raise, a house to ran, social parties to plan and attend in addition to the numerous business affairs she needs to assist me with. Diane has none of those responsibilities until you are married."
"Damn!" Greg hissed as he looked towards their group of friends. Narcissa, Victoria Crabbe and his mother had come early to collect the children. Mary Goyle had her arm around Diane and appeared to be comforting the younger witch. Once seeing her son she hurried over to the wizards.
Mrs. Goyle kissed Draco's cheek, "It's wonderful to see, Draco."
"The pleasure is mine, Mrs. Goyle," he replied after a quick kiss to her cheek.
"If you don't mind, Draco, I need a private moment with Gregory."
The blond wizard tried to think of a way to rescue his friend but years of dealing with the older witch told him nothing would work. He bowed his head and walked away wondering why at twenty-seven he still sometimes felt like a child around his mates' mothers.
"You will be accompanying me to my meetings every Wednesday evening from now on," Mrs. Goyle glared at her son. "Ginevra will watch your boys."
"Mother, that's not nec…"
"Her arm was bruised, Gregory. I will not allow this cycle to continue," his mother vowed. "My grandsons will learn to love and respect their partners. Witches are not objects to order around and beat."
"I've never hit a witch!"
The older woman glared at her son, "Really? You need more help than I thought."
"Mother, I merely slapped Lavender two different times in seven years. She deserved it a lot more than that."
Mary Goyle huffed indignant and explained, "Your wife is your partner. She is your equal not a child that you are to discipline. You will come with me on Wednesdays. Do not make me take this matter to the Wizengamot. We will lose your children and likely your fiancée."
"I'll be really at six o'clock every Wednesday, Mother."
Mary kissed his cheek, "Thank you, Gregory." They started back to the group. "Make amends this evening, darling. However, keep your bits in your pants."
"I wonder if they share?" Blaise half joked as he watched George and Fred dance with a gorgeous witch with multicolored hair.
"Those two are all about having fun and trying new things," Draco added. "Sharing wouldn't surprise me." The blond excused himself and headed across the room.
"There he goes again. Telling family secrets and walking off," Bill laughed.
"Well at least he didn't tell them the twins main goal is to live out every story ever written for Playwizard," Charlie interjected.
The Slytherins choked on their meads and the Weasley brothers chortled, "Jealous, boys? Did you think Slytherins were the only wizards who tried to fulfill all their sexual fantasies?"
"Happy with my wife," Vincent barely choked out.
Bill laughed loudly, "Well you better collect yourselves quickly and keep repeating that statement. Here come the girls now."
The wizards stood and each helped his lady into her chair. The Slytherins' wives glared at their husbands and giggled.
"What'd they get you with this time? Did they tell you the twins were bi-sexual and that's a wizard they're dancing with?" Padma inquired.
"Pad!" Vincent gasped. "Goodness, witch."
She sniggered in reply, "Those two are almost as bad as the twins. They'll say anything."
"William," Fleur scolded, "you promised Ginny." She turned to Charlie, "you also promised." The wizards nodded in response. They could wait until tomorrow when they'd have four days to tease the other wizards.
Diane whispered to Greg. They excused themselves and headed for the dance floor. Pansy cuddled into Blaise's chest as a slow song began and hummed the tune softly and swayed her head to the beat.
"Would you like to dance?"
"I'd love too, but my feet won't let me," she smiled coyly at her husband. "I'm happy right here. You'll have to bring me back after the baby comes."
"The last month was hard for me too. My feet were so swollen it was painful to walk," Fleur said turning to Pansy. "Did you decide on a name?"
"Yes, Rosetta Lynn. Rosetta means little rose in Italian. I can't wait to meet her."
"Have you selected a name, Padma?" Fleur asked.
"I have. I want to name her Kali, although my husband desires to use a Crabbe family name Irma."
Pansy looked at Crabbe and grinned as she leaned Fleur's way and confided, "Ginny and I are working on him. He has two months to change his mind. Otherwise, a couple of Ginny's Bat-bogies will make him see the light."
"That's my wife, always having someone else doing her dirty work," Blaise kissed Pansy's forehead. "Bill, do they always have the same band or same type of music here?"
"They have different bands all the time and every one has been excellent. Well the one named, Wantabees, was awful. But one bad band in five years isn't bad. The bands are hip hop on Friday nights and the crowd is a lot younger. Saturday night is rock and Sunday night is dance music."
"You can get a schedule from a waiter. They also have an Owl list. We try to get here two or three times a month," Fleur added. "Saturday and Sunday afternoons they have jazz or blues bands." The French witch scanned the table and asked, "Where are Ginny and Draco?"
"Ginny went over to chat with Neville and I think Malfoy went to retrieve her," Charlie replied.
As Draco made his way to his redhead the path became full of pretty witches smiling at the handsome wizard as he walked by. A blonde with extremely large breasts backed into him spilling her drink down his front.
"I'm so sorry, handsome," she simpered turning to press her breasts against his chest seductively and making sure that he had an outstanding view of her best assets before taking a napkin into her hand and trying to wipe him dry. "I'll clean you up," she offered.
He gently took her wrist in his hand pushing her away, "No, thank you." Draco quickly released her and hurried away to playfully pout when he reached his wife who had been chatting with the Creevey brothers and Neville Longbottom, "Gin, some ghastly bint spilled her fruity drink all over me. I'm all sticky."
"I saw, my poor baby," she soothed before nodding goodbye to her friends. Draco helped her up and she put her arm around him managing to avoid the mess down his front, "Will a Scourgify do?"
Draco shook his head, "I believe we'll need to return to our suite," he whispered slyly in her ear. "It ran into my boxers."
"Your boxers," she whispered seductively and touched his shirt with her finger to taste the liquid. "It's not bad," Ginny stood on her tip toes and puffed "shall I use a washcloth or…" The nasty little witch ran her tongue around his ear. Draco wrapped his arms around her and Disapparated.
Greg held Diane close as they danced across the floor, "I do love you," he murmured. "I only wish for you to be happy and I don't understand why you want to work when I would gladly give you all the galleons you could use. But if you believe it will make you happy, I will support your decision."
"No more complaining?" Diane asked.
He kissed her softly, "That's asking too much. I'll complain no more about your work than you complain about mine."
"That's a deal."
"Are you planning on moving to your new flat while I'm hunting?" Greg asked.
She gave him a sheepish look. "I was planned it that way so you wouldn't find out until it was too late."
"What made you change your mind?"
"Ginny, Padma and Pansy told me to tell you before you left. They thought you'd get the wrong idea if I moved without telling you," She answered. "But you already had the wrong idea. You thought I was seeing…"
He caressed her face and apologized, "I'm sorry. It's my own insecurity. You're a stupendous witch, I can't believe you want me."
"I do. I love you, Greg."
Author's End Note: Thank you, Marcia, for another wonderful job.