It is hard to believe almost a year and a half has gone by since I posted the last chapter of A Tale of Two Matchmakers. It doesn't seem that long—probably because wonderful readers keep reviewing, and I've been polishing it up and posting the story on Mugglenet and more recently on dracoandginny . com. I've edited the D/G outtake Christmas Kisses as well, so if any readers, old or new, read (or re-read), my Christmas will be even more merry and bright.
A Tale of Two Matchmakers: Christmas Reunion
"Here you go. Caffè latte, no foam, and caffè mocha. Happy Holidays!"
Draco Malfoy handed over the required currency and took his coffee with a slim smile. The young woman seemed happy to listen to incessant Christmas carols while wearing an elf hat and jingle-bell earrings. He would have quit and sued the owner.
He found a table in the back corner and sat with his back to the wall, watching the door. He didn't expect one of his late father's cronies to track him down, but that paranoid idiot Moody had a modicum of sense advising 'constant vigilance.'
He took a sip of coffee and wondered why Blaise had asked to meet him before work.
In the seven years since Saint Potter made the world safe for magical and non-magical alike, the friends tried to meet at least once a week for lunch, but it was unusual for either of them to change the time.
They chose Muggle establishments to prevent tabloid reporters selling pictures and speculation of affairs and impending divorce to the Intruder. While his wife laughed over the gossip, Blaise's husband had never had much of a sense of humour.
Although unable to feel completely at ease with people who relied on technology instead of magic, he had grown accustomed to such surroundings over the years.
Draco's lips tilted upwards when one song ended and another began to play. He remembered it from sixth year, when he and Blaise had schemed to spend the holidays with the ones they loved.
"All I want for Christmas is you!" his friend sang out as she entered the coffee house.
Heads turned to watch the striking woman make her way to his table. Full lips painted red to match her short skirt and jacket parted in a wide smile. "Buenas Dias!"
Blaise Zabini-Boot sat down and reached for the caffè mocha. "Gracias. Eres muy amable."
"I'm not kind. I simply refuse to wait longer to discover what was so urgent I had to meet you before lunch." Draco frowned. "And why are you speaking Spanish?"
Blaise said, "Was I? Lo siento…I mean, sorry. I woke up this morning with Papa shouting Spanish from the communication fire in the lounge. It must have rubbed off on me."
"Why was Enrique shouting?"
She hastily took a drink. Espresso with chocolate and fresh steamed milk was lovely. When Draco raised a white-blond brow, she shrugged a shoulder. "It was about the article in Quidditch Illustrated."
Grey eyes narrowed. "What article?"
Blaise pushed a dark curl out of her face, thinking if the ad people who wanted it long for the next Zabini Jeweller campaign wouldn't have a fit, she'd cut it. Life had seemed so much simpler when her hair was short. She began twining a curl around her finger. "You haven't seen it?"
"Don't try to pull a Luna on me. Prevarication only compounds my annoyance. I haven't received it in the post yet, so stop doing that and tell me why a sports article has you so upset."
She released her bluish finger from its wrapping of hair. "I made the list of Sexiest Quidditch Wives."
"Top five, I expect."
The assurance in his voice made her smile briefly. "I'm third, after Angelina Pitt and Victoria Krum."
"What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing…if Vicky Krum hadn't passed along something I said to the journalist writing the article. He quoted her, of course."
Draco leaned toward her. "What did you say?"
Blaise made a face. "We crossed paths at a party, and she was going on about how proud she was that she's never missed one of Viktor's games, so I said I was proud to have made love with my husband in every Quidditch stadium in Britain."
"What do you think?"
Blaise tried to smile, but it was wobbly. "Terry's furious. His family has been owling constantly and now my father is ordering him to demand a retraction too. But he can't, since it's the truth!" Her voice wavered. "He's written three books on strategy and won a coaching award, but all anyone wants to talk to him about is his scandalous wife!"
She bit her lip. "He's tired of it…and wants to spend Christmas away from our families." Her eyes started to tear. "I'm afraid. What if he asks for a divorce? What will I do about…?"
Tears spilled over. "I'm pregnant."
Ginny Malfoy knew something was wrong when her husband returned home before lunch. He made his own hours at Malfoy Enterprises, but he had never cut his day so short before.
Draco entered the nursery and nodded to the windows overlooking a London park. "Want to take a walk?"
The toddler building a tower of blocks on the rug held out his arms. "Go park, Daddy!"
The tension left her husband's face and voice. "C'mere, tiger," he said, with a smile that transformed classic features into breathtaking handsomeness.
Small lips turned down. "Not tiger, Daddy. I Drake!"
Draco bent to pick up his son. Kissing Ginny, then Drake on the cheek, he said, "My apologies. You are my dragon, and your mummy is my tiger."
Their child's uninhibited laughter caused Draco to chuckle. "Think it funny, do you? I'll have you know that tigers and dragons go together like…."
"Peas and carrots?"
Ginny's suggestion earned scowls from both her husband and the son who copied his beloved Daddy's expression. Small masculine lips were adorable. Adult ones were adorably sexy.
"Certainly not. Champagne and caviar."
"Champers...yum!" Drake grinned, displaying all eighteen of his baby teeth.
Ginny giggled when Draco murmured, "I see Grandmere has visited."
"Me-me go bye-bye!"
Ginny rose to her feet, nodding. "She didn't stay long, just dropped in on her way to go shopping."
Narcissa refused drag herself out of bed before noon on most days, but she had for her grandson. "She wanted to make sure it was all right to buy him a miniature e-n-c-h-a-n-t-e-d...c-a-r."
"C-a-r...vroom vroom!" Drake crowed.
"He knows how to spell!" Draco's look of pride was so lovable, Ginny kissed him soundly before giving her son's comically pursed lips a peck.
"No, darling, your mother said, 'you know, a car, vroom vroom' after spelling it out."
"Well, he's got a bloody good memory, then!"
"Bloody good!" parroted Drake.
"Watch your language, big boy," Ginny told both her men before saying smilingly, "Let's grab our coats."
Within minutes, the small family was walking toward the playground in the park. It was moments like these that made Ginny not regret giving up her job managing the Hogsmeade branch of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes to become a stay-at-home mother.
"Go sand, Daddy!"
Draco set the wriggling twenty-three month old down. Ginny handed over a pail and a shovel, smiling to see Drake run without losing balance. He was growing so fast. She and Draco sat on a bench to watch him.
"Mummy! Look at the baby with pink hair! He's so cute!"
The little girl who spoke the words ran over to sit near Drake and stare at him raptly. He gave the newcomer, who was twice his age, a disinterested glance before digging once more.
Draco muttered, "That's right, son—don't encourage the stupid ones. Wait for a girl who knows your hair is blond."
"Strawberry-blond," Ginny corrected.
Draco wrapped an arm around her and slanted a look sideways. "Since you're so good at solving problems, how about you come up with something to help Blaise?"
"Does it have to do with the article in Quidditch Illustrated?"
Fine grey eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Did you hide my copy?"
Ginny avoided incriminating herself by saying, "Tell me what's wrong and I'll think of a plan."
That evening, at the same time Drake was splashing his parents with bathwater, Luna Roberts heard her husband calling her name and looked up from the story she was reading. It was a horrific tale of Nargles dropping out of mistletoe to gain control of people's minds by crawling into their ears. She was quite pleased with it.
"Yes, love?" She hid her reading material beneath a sofa cushion, her eyes straying to the ball of mistletoe floating near the ceiling of the lounge.
"An owl arrived for you, fair Buttercup."
"Oh my sweet Wesley," she said with a smile, rising from the sofa to drift across the room. She kissed one of the roguish dimples in his cheeks before taking the parchment.
"If there was a competition for most ornate seal, Malfoy would win hands down," he said drolly, pushing aside her hair to kiss the side of her neck.
Luna shivered and hoped Wesley would do it again. He did. What a wonderful man he was. The children he saw on his rounds as a Paediatric Healer in residency at St. Mungo's shared her opinion. They were always giving him drawings. She appreciated their affection. The walls of the lounge would be quite dull without all the colourful artwork.
"Ginny has invited us to Malfoy Manor for Christmas," she said, reading the letter. "It seems Blaise and Terry are having difficulties and she and Draco think a reunion with friends would help."
"What would help more is if Blaise would stop posing for those ads and didn't tell people she's had it off in every Quidditch stadium in the world!"
"I believe it was just Britain, love."
Wesley laughed, the grim edge leaving his tone as he said dryly, "Well, that makes all the difference."
"Has Terry talked to you about it?" she asked, only slightly piqued that he hadn't relayed the information to her. After all, she didn't tell him what Ginny or Blaise said when they got together for the occasional girls' night out.
"He's tired of being razzed whenever a two page ad gets spread across a men's magazine. Says the company sells sex more than jewellery nowadays, and she should tell her father to get someone else be the Zabini model."
"So we should go?"
Wesley ran a hand through his golden hair, betraying his agitation. "Yes. I'll work something out. Pull extra shifts now and trade others if I have to."
Luna's eyes travelled once more to the mistletoe. It was floating steadily toward them. Was it by coincidence...or were there fiendish Nargles waiting for their chance to drop? She stepped back. Wesley followed. So did the Mistletoe. Luna reached for her wand.
"If you didn't want a snog, all you had to do was say so. Incendio is a rather drastic method of avoiding a kiss."
Wesley's bright blue eyes sparkled merrily as he extinguished the fire. Luna knew her expression was chagrined. "I was saving you from Nargles."
Her husband pulled her close. "How can I ever repay you?"
"Well...a massage would be nice. You have amazing dexterity in your fingers."
She nodded earnestly. "Oh yes! I told Ginny and Blaise if you hadn't wanted to be a Healer, you could have made a fortune as a massage therapist."
A piratical smile creased his face. "A fortune, eh?"
"Yes. I'd be terribly jealous, though, so I'm glad you chose to be a Healer. I don't need a fortune. I just want you all to myself."
Wesley cupped her face in his hands. "Buttercup, my true love, there will never be a need for jealousy." He kissed her thoroughly. "When would you like your massage m'lady?"
She smiled dreamily. "Right now."
While Luna enjoyed a full body massage in London, Terry Boot gritted his teeth, listening to a conversation in the locker room at the end of a long practise in Devon. The Chudley Cannons had made incredible strides since they signed him on as assistant coach. They had adopted his strategies, ended the losing streak, and this year had hopes of winning the Quidditch World Cup. He should be on top of the world.
He would be, if Barry wasn't on the team.
His brother was a stellar Beater, strong and relentless. Terry's objection to his presence stemmed from a personality conflict. Barry questioned every flight pattern, every ploy…and openly coveted his brother's wife.
The rest of the players seemed to think Barry was joking when he brought in magazines with the latest Zabini Jewellers ad and asked his 'baby brother' to relay his compliments about this or that. Terry knew better. His brother liked the high life and thought he was the one who should have a rich, sexy wife.
Tonight, Barry was especially offensive; egging his teammates on to guess the places Terry and Blaise had 'done it' in the stadium. He thought he was talking behind his brother's back, but Terry had returned to speak to Jones, the Keeper and overheard.
He strode into the changing room. "Don't say another word about my wife."
Barry laughed. "Can't take a joke, Terrykins?"
Terry looked into his brother's broad, coarse face and wondered why he had tolerated such behaviour for so long. He shook his head. "This has gone beyond a joke. You are undermining my authority as a coach on this team. I'm sending an owl to Management. Either you go, or I do."
The room was deathly quiet when he walked out. He didn't return to his office but walked outside and Apparated.
When he walked into the lounge of his home in nearby Ottery St. Catchpole, Terry found Blaise curled up in a chair. In silk pyjamas, without makeup, she looked like the girl he'd married, not the sex goddess his brother lusted after. "What are you reading?" he asked.
She jumped up. "Night of the Nargles. A friend asked me to look it over. It's scary, but good." She put it aside with a tiny smile. "There's a romance, so I'm hoping they make it."
"I'm sure they will." He strode over to push Blaise's hair over her shoulders, tucking a long curl behind her ear. "You have beautiful ears. I miss seeing them." Terry's smile felt lopsided. "I miss a lot of things." I miss the brother who used to talk Quidditch and taught me to play cards.
Her eyes were dark and searching. "What can I do to make you happy, amor mío?"
He drew her into a hug. "I am happy, my love." He kissed Blaise and wanted to keep on kissing her until his only thought was how quickly he could get her naked. Using sex to avoid dwelling on problems was something he was doing too often these days. His wife deserved better. Terry looked down and smiled more naturally. "I am also hungry, so if you saved any dinner…."
Blaise took his hand and led him to the kitchen. "It will only take me a minute to reheat the paella."
"I'm sorry I wasn't here to eat with you earlier. Practise ran late." His lips twisted. "Some don't want to learn new plays." Like Barry.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"No. I'd rather hear about your day."
Blaise served him a plate of Paella Andalucía, saffron-flavoured rice cooked with prawns, mussels, chicken, tomatoes and sprinkled with peas. "Draco and Ginny want us to spend Christmas with them at Malfoy Manor. Luna and Wesley are invited too."
Terry finished chewing a bite and reached for his wine glass. "Is it some kind of reunion?"
"Yes. We haven't spent much time together, all of us, the way we used to."
"We're not Hogwarts students running off to Spain anymore."
"So we'll be busy adults running off to Wiltshire." Blaise smiled widely. "I want to see the sun rising over Stonehenge with you. Say we'll go."
The thought of spending Christmas with his family arguing over the Quidditch Illustrated article and taking sides between him and Barry did not appeal. He nodded. "We'll go."
On the Thursday before Christmas, Healer Roberts entered the Dai Llewellyn Ward to check the progress of one of his favourite patients.
Kevin Connelly was five years old—and the victim of a werewolf attack. His father was an Auror who tracked down Dark werewolves after Voldemort's defeat. One of the werewolves who escaped justice had bided his time to strike back at Jerry Connelly through his son.
Wesley was glad the bite on the boy's leg wasn't severe as it could have been and the Wolfsbane Program now covered all werewolves, by law.
The ward was small and drab, except for the area near Kevin's bed. A tiny, fully decorated Christmas tree stood on a side table.
"The elf-lady said it was her—hermetically sealed, so I could have it," Kevin said, with an anxious look on his face.
Wesley smiled reassuringly and sat on the edge of the bed after checking the boy's chart. "Absolutely, but I'm curious. An elf-lady brought it?" He had a suspicion it was Tonks Lupin.
"This morning. She said her name was Buttercup."
Wesley blinked. "Long blonde hair, big blue eyes, silver radish earrings?"
"And a green dress."
Wesley grinned, remembering the Christmas Eve employee breakfasts at the Quibbler when they had played Father Christmas and his helper for the children. He would have loved to have seen her in the short dress. "Pretty elf, wasn't she?"
"She was nice. I asked her if she would tell Father Christmas I don't want toys, I just want to go home, and she said she would."
The boy's hazel eyes were bright with hope. Wesley was glad not to have to extinguish it. He leaned down to whisper, "I happen to know Buttercup is Father Christmas' favourite elf. You'll be home by Saturday."
Kevin's face lit up. His eyes looked past his Healer to the doorway. "Did you hear that, Jamie? I'll be home for Christmas!"
"Ace!" A little boy with spiky black hair tugged his hand out of his father's and ran to the bed. "Then I can come over to your house and play with your toys and you can come over to my house to play with my toys!" He looked back. "Right, Dad?"
Remus Lupin nodded. "After we go to your grandparents' house for Christmas Dinner."
Wesley said, "I'll leave you to chat with your mate and check back later, Kevin."
Small fingers grabbed his sleeve. "Buttercup said you would read some of the book she gave me. Will you?"
Wesley looked from the copy of The Princess Bride to the boy's freckled face and smiled. "As you wish."
Friday afternoon, Draco stepped out of the Floo and onto the hearth of the fireplace in the Manor's entry. He rarely used the formal library any more. He much preferred the family one Ginny had created out of a sitting room. None of the books was Dark, and all the ones on the lower shelves were for children.
"Thank gods it's Friday!" he called out, just to hear his voice echo against the marble.
"Daddy!" a little voice cried. Soon the patter of two sets of feet were heard—one walking, one running.
Draco strolled down the corridor and scooped up his son before Drake could barrel into him. "Miss me, did you?"
Chubby hands grabbed his ears. An open-mouthed kiss was bestowed on his nose. "Daddy home!"
Ginny laughed to see Drake crinkle his little nose in imitation of his father. She took a handkerchief out of her trouser pocket and wiped off baby saliva. "You only left a few hours ago."
"This is Christmas Eve-Eve. How could I not return to help my darling wife prepare for our guests? Besides," Draco added with a smouldering look. "You used to say hours felt like years whenever we were apart. Is the honeymoon over?"
She could see the trace of uncertainty in his eyes and mentally damned Lucius for the emotional scars. Ginny kissed Draco's cheek and breathed in his ear, "Wait until we put the baby down for a nap. I'll show you things I never knew on our honeymoon."
Draco looked down at his son with a persuasive smile. "Want to help Daddy practise Sleep Charms?"
The toddler shook his head. "No go sleep!" Drake abruptly smiled like an angel. "Daddy play?"
Draco matched his son's smile, nodding. Ginny's heart turned over when they turned to her.
"Mummy play?" Drake said hopefully.
The housekeeper and staff were the ones doing the work. She was supervising, much the way she had at the shop, except with more employees.
"Yes, play with us, Mummy," Draco murmured wickedly.
Ginny smiled. "Oh, I'll play with you all right."
Drake clapped his hands. "Yay!"
Draco smirked. "Yay."
The freed house-elf Minky was transporting their baggage to the Malfoy mansion, so Blaise decided to meet Terry at his office and travel together. When she stepped out of the fireplace in the Cannons' main office, she saw her brother-in-law waiting to Floo. "Hello, Barry."
He glanced around the empty lobby and then moved in close. "You must have something real special under that skirt to turn my brother against me."
She could almost feel the blood leaving her face. "I don't know what you're talking about. I've never spoken a word against you to Terry!"
She had wanted to, every time he cornered her at family gatherings and tried to lure her upstairs to check out his 'equipment.' No matter how many times she said his bat didn't impress her, Barry refused to take the hint. Blaise had kept the harassment to herself because she did not want to cause a family quarrel.
Thick brows drew together. "Is that right? Well, little brother must be afraid you're starting to want a real man, because he got me traded." Barry laughed shortly. "Kenmare Kestrels. I'm going to ruddy Ireland!"
"I'm sure they have Floos connected to the Network, too. You can always visit."
Barry's face twisted. "The Kestrels don't have a chance in hell of winning the Irish Quidditch League this year, much less the Cup! I won't be back if Terry's around, that's for damn sure!"
Terry had thanked the Head Coach, Manager, and Owner of the Cannons before following after Barry. When he heard what his brother told Blaise, he decided to let him go. Finally, he was able to admit that he didn't like the man Barry had become. For now, they were better off apart.
After his brother left, Terry walked toward his wife. "Hey, baby. Are you ready to go?"
Her lips parted. He thought she was going to tell him about Barry. Instead, she said, "Yes. Are you…are you through with your business here?"
Terry's lips curved wryly. "Yes, I am."
Ginny was trying to gather the energy to rise when the housekeeper knocked on the door.
"The Boots have arrived, Madam."
Ginny bolted upright. "Show them to the Garden Room, Mrs. Thompson, and say we'll meet them in the family lounge shortly."
Draco stretched like a great, satiated cat. "You should have told her we'd meet them after a nap."
She hid a smile. "And have Blaise and Terry know what we've been doing?"
"They've been doing it across Britain. I doubt they'd be shocked."
Ginny giggled. "Maybe not, but it would be rude." She scooted away from the hand caressing her back and slid off the bed. "We can sleep later."
When she bent to retrieve discarded clothing, Draco stretched out his hand.
"Oh!" Ginny gasped.
He chuckled. She tried to gaze at him disapprovingly, but her lips were twitching. Draco smirked. "Haven't you ever heard of a bum check?"
She placed her hands on her hips and gave him an enticingly cheeky look. "I'd tell you to kiss my arse, but…."
"I already have…and I'll do it again, love, no need to ask." Draco rolled off the bed and stretched again, enjoying the way her eyes travelled over him. He strolled over and kissed her softly. "You'll have to wait until later, though. Our guests are waiting." He winked. "Don't want to be rude."
Blaise waited until Mrs. Thompson showed them to their room and left to say, "Minky will unpack our things. Let's go see Drake. He should be sleeping, but we can look in on him. I bet he's grown since we last saw him."
In the nursery, she halted suddenly, clutching Terry's arm. "He's in a toddler bed now!" Tears sprang to her eyes. "He's not a baby anymore."
Terry chuckled. "He's also not asleep anymore."
Sure enough, Drake's brown eyes were open, and fixed upon them. He sat up and held out his arms. "Be-be!"
Terry watched his wife's face become radiant as she lifted the child. It was easy to imagine a baby with dark curls in her arms. Not for the first time, he wondered if she was ready to start a family. He had been for years, but didn't want to pressure Blaise when she was trying to establish her position in the company.
She sure looked maternal, cooing endearments in Spanish while she brought Drake over. The boy hid his face against her neck when she said, "You remember Terry, don't you, mi chavito, my little guy?"
Drake's reply was muffled, yet clear. "Tarzan!"
Blaise pressed her lips together, eyes laughing.
Terry said dryly, "Monkey hear, monkey say?"
Draco strolled into the nursery. "Are you calling my son a cheeky monkey?"
Reddish-blond curls lifted. "Drake not monkey. Drake dragon!"
Terry grinned. He shook Draco's hand and told the boy. "Sorry."
"Tarzan sorry!" A peal of laughter accompanied Drake's words.
Draco found the situation amusing, too, but heroically restrained himself to a smile. "Ginny's in the lounge with Luna. Roberts, the real cheeky monkey, was delayed." He told his son, "You're a big boy. You can walk."
"No!" Expression shifting from mulish to sweet, Drake said to Blaise, "Carry me?"
Terry watched his wife carry the child out of the room and said, "He'll be using that look on girls in a few years."
"Better hope you don't have a girl, then," Draco said. "She'll be the first one he practises on." A weird look crossed Malfoy's face before he added, "I meant when and if you ever have children." After a pause, he said, "Do you want children?"
An image came to Terry's mind, of holding a curly-haired girl and Blaise smiling as she said, "Don't pull Daddy's hair out of his queue, nena, little one. That's Mummy's job."
Slightly embarrassed over the grin that spread across his face, Terry said, "Yeah, sure. Someday," and quickly left the room.
Luna had just finished sharing her exciting news with Ginny when Blaise walked in with Drake. One look at their faces and Blaise said, "You got it?"
Blaise began 'dancing' the boy around the room. "Feliz Navidad!" she sang.
Ginny went over and took one of her son's hands. "Feliz Navidad!"
Luna joined them. "Feliz Navidad."
Together, the three of them laughed as much as sang, "Prospero Año y Felicidad!"
When Draco and Terry entered, little Drake shouted, "Navi-Daddy!"
While the others laughed, Luna ran her fingers over baby curls and sighed. "I wish my hair was this soft."
Mrs. Thompson rolled in a tea trolley. The housekeeper sidled up to Luna afterwards, and said, "I read your editorial 'Holiday spirit—is it all in the eggnog?' and must say I found it very touching."
"Thank you." Her position as assistant editor of the Quibbler wasn't Luna's dream job, but she did enjoy writing editorials. To keep her stepmother Ivanna happy, she wrote letters to the editor for the Prophet.
As Luna sipped her tea and listened to the others chat, she wondered if her stepsisters, Mary Kate and Ashley, had made up from their latest spat. Before she left, Mary Kate had dropped by Luna's flat to declare that Ashley was the most selfish witch in the world. Not only had she coloured her hair brown again, but she had straightened it as well! They might as well be fraternal twins now! Luna's assurance that they still had identical faces had cheered Mary Kate, who as always said she wished Luna was her twin.
The memory of Wesley's face when she told him the story later made Luna giggle. He said, "Merlin, keep that girl away from magic lamps!"
When he stepped out of the fireplace dressed as Father Christmas, Wesley thought he would get a reaction, but he never expected the baby to scream.
Little Drake took one look at the stranger saying 'ho-ho-ho, what would you like for Christmas, son' and ran for his mother. Burying his face against the leg he was clinging to for dear life, the tot cried, "Bad man! Bad man!"
Ginny tried to pick up her son, but he was attached like a limpet. "Darling, he's a nice man."
"Bad! Bad!" Drake sobbed.
Wesley felt awful. He told the others, "I took a potion. I'll look like this for the next hour, I'm afraid."
Luna drifted over and patted his bearded cheek. "I'll sit on your lap. Then he'll see Father Christmas is jolly and not scary."
Ignoring the snickers and stifled laughter, Wesley sat in a chair and patted his knee.
"Should Father Christmas be eyeing girls like that?" Draco said in a stage whisper.
Terry said, "Where do you think that twinkle in his eye came from?"
Wesley cleared his throat. "Bond at my expense later, chaps. I have duties to attend to."
Blaise sat between Draco and Terry on the sofa. "You don't think he uses that line at home, do you?"
'Father Christmas' sent his hecklers a mock-stern look. "Unlike some people, I do not attend to marital duties in Quidditch stadiums!"
Perched on his knee, Luna sighed. "There goes Christmas!"
Drake did not warm up to the 'bad man' in red velvet. His father, when putting him to bed, whispered, "You have good instincts, son. There's something dodgy in all that 'Merry Christmas to all' spiel. The jolly old hypocrite can hurry down somebody else's chimney. Judging children, threatening coal and switches if they've been naughty. The nerve of the man! You have a father who will give you presents regardless, because he loves you." He kissed his son's forehead.
"Night-night, love," Ginny said, kissing her son's cheek before kissing her husband's.
"What was that for?" Draco said. "Not that you need a reason day or night...or the middle of the night, for that matter."
"Because I love you, and you're so sweet."
Draco pretended to scowl. "Me? Sweet? Since when?"
"Since a boy ferret fell for a girl weasel."
He slipped an arm around her waist as they stood watching their son drift off to sleep. "I'm only sweet to you, Red. Everyone else, I'm going to fleece like sheep when we play poker."
The next morning, when the adults gathered in the old stables to select brooms to ride, Blaise laughed softly when Draco muttered, "Are you always so bloody cheerful in the morning, Roberts?"
Wesley's smile was sunny. "I am when I've been lucky the night before."
Luna frowned slightly. "No need to brag about our love life."
"I meant in cards, carina."
"Oh. That's all right, then."
Draco rolled his eyes and handed Blaise a broom. "I can never decide how much loony is real and how much is put on."
She looked at his cowboy hat and said, "I can't believe you still like to dress up in Wild West gear."
Ginny, in matching Stetson and sheepskin jacket, said, "It's fun. We have trunks upon trunks of period costumes in the attics." Brown eyes sparkling, she said, "While Drake naps this afternoon, we should play musketeers the way we did at Hogwarts!"
The group walked outside. "It won't be fair if I'm the captain of Richelieu's guard, alone against a pack of musketeers," said Draco.
Blaise said, "I'll play one of the Cardinal's men."
"Me too," said Luna.
Wesley told Terry, "We'll have to fight for our wives, it seems."
Terry mounted his broom and gazed steadily at Blaise. "I'm willing."
Utilising warming and Disillusionment charms, the friends flew across the Salisbury Plain to land atop the highest monolith of Stonehenge. They stood in silence as the sun rose, casting its light and warmth across the monument to human resourcefulness and determination.
After several minutes, Wesley said, "Would anyone like to hold hands and sing carols?"
Draco and Terry each stared incredulously.
"I'm hungry," said Luna.
Ginny said, "I'm thirsty."
Blaise clutched her stomach and leaned out to avoid throwing up on ancient history.
Wesley said, "I take that's a 'no.'"
Blaise knew she should have told Terry the truth, but things were going so well, she wanted to wait just another day longer to tell him about her pregnancy. When he assumed it was a stomach bug, she did not correct him. After they returned to the Manor, she cleaned her teeth, took a shower...and found Wesley waiting with her husband when she exited the lavatory.
"I don't need a Healer, really, I'm fine."
"Let him be the judge of that," Terry said, nodding for Wesley to begin diagnostic spells.
There was a soft knock on the door. Terry went to answer it. Blaise whispered, "I'm not ill, I'm pregnant, and I want to tell him on Christmas morning, please!"
Wesley's eyes widened. "I'll go ask Mrs. Thompson to send up tea and something very dry and bland, like toast."
Luna walked into the room. "Are you all right, Blaise? I'm sorry to intrude, but I was worried."
Wesley said, "Nothing to worry over. A spot of tea and rest will see her right again." He steered his wife into the corridor and asked when the door shut, "Do you know?"
She began twisting a strand of hair around her finger. "Know what?"
He raised an eyebrow.
Luna said, "Yes. She threw up in the rubbish bin in my office last week."
Wesley began to smile. "This could be the best thing. Blaise can't pose for sexy pictures when she's pregnant."
She shook her head and then nodded. "Unless they want a fertility goddess."
Ginny wanted to pull out her hair when the owl came from her mother. She could just hear Molly's doleful tone as she read.
I'm sure you must be busy, entertaining your friends. It has probably quite slipped your mind that your father is missing his grandson terribly, and looked forward to seeing him open his stocking from Father Christmas on the rug where you used to open yours. I shall not reproach you for depriving your family of their darling little Drake's presence at Christmas Dinner. I'm sure we will find some measure of holiday cheer to console us. Do kiss our precious boy and tell him Nana loves him...and give him this jumper I knit with love.
"This isn't a Gusher, this is a Guilter," Ginny said to herself, opening the packet delivered with the letter.
Draco strolled into the kitchen at the exact moment she held the little jumper up to the light. "She knit my son a bloody pink jumper!"
Ginny tried to joke. "It does have a reddish tint."
"It's pink with a darker pink 'D' across the front!" He grabbed the packet and stuck his hand inside. "Where are the bunny ears? Didn't she send some as well, to complete the humiliating picture?" Draco was looking rather pink himself…with indignation. "My son is not a girl!"
"I am aware of that. I've been piddled on when changing nappies."
"He will not wear this!"
"Just for one picture?"
Draco's face scrunched up as he spat, "One. When he's asleep and won't know how you've betrayed him."
She was making doe eyes at him…or kitten eyes…or something else soft and irresistible.
Draco narrowed his gaze into slits. "No, I thank you—for hardening my resolve. I was going to go easy on you this afternoon, but now, I am going to hunt you down and make you beg, petite musketeer."
"Beg for what, Mon Capitaine?"
How quickly her demeanour changed from ingénue to coquette. He reached for her hand and brought it to his lips. "I shall leave the terms of your surrender to the imagination, Cherie."
A couple of hours later in the drawing room, Draco smiled in anticipation while Ginny passed out the costumes.
"These aren't the same costumes from the attics at Hogwarts, are they?" Wesley asked, smoothing a tabard embroidered with an insipid fleur de lis.
Ginny handed Terry a floppy grey hat with a feather. "Of course not. These are actual musketeer uniforms, not reproductions."
Blaise held up her red uniform that contrasted sharply with her husband's blue. "The swords still bend when they hit cloth and skin. They're safe?"
Draco's eyes flickered to her still-flat abdomen. "Naturellement."
Following a wardrobe change, Blaise rejoined her captain and reached for a rapier. "Shall we hunt musketeers?"
Luna walked toward them, dressed in red. "Oui!"
Draco adjusted his black hat as though to ensure the feather tilted at a rakish angle. "Mais Oui, but first, we strategise." He paced back and forth, looking very dashing as he spoke. "Each of us must hunt the quarry we know best, using our intimate knowledge of their minds to determine the exact location of their hiding place." He used his rapier to punctuate, pointing at each of his 'men' in turn. "Failure is not an option. You will find our enemies and dispatch them by any means necessary."
Luna raised her hand. "In a nice way?"
"If you must."
Blaise laughed softly at Draco's tone of long-suffering. "Au revoir, Mon Capitaine!" She strode out of the room, heading for the Billiards Room. The masculine colours and Quidditch memorabilia on the walls made it Terry's favourite room in the manor.
She pulled up short when a blade halted her passage into the room. "You didn't hide."
Terry had been leaning against the wall. He stepped forward. "I'm through hiding."
His eyes were dark blue against the bright cloth of his uniform. Blaise's stomach twisted. "What have you been hiding?"
"My problems with Barry...I swallowed my anger over how he acted toward you, and toward me, coaching the team. I finally had enough and asked management to trade him."
"I was afraid you were going to ask for a divorce."
Terry dropped his sword and hugged her tight. "Never, mi corazon."
She gave a watery giggle. "Aren't we supposed to be French, my heart?"
He chuckled. "Oui. Never, mon coeur."
Luna hummed one of her favourite songs, Build Me Up Buttercup, while making her way to the library. Wesley's Ravenclaw love of books would draw him there...as well as a certain memory.
When she opened the door, Luna found her husband leaning against a shelf, leafing through a book.
He re-shelved the text with an impish smile. "You're a pretty guard. I'd hate to fight you."
She unsheathed her sword and waved it with a flourish learnt from a dead sexy pirate. "Hello. My name is Luna Roberts. It's Christmas Eve and there's mistletoe. Prepare to be kissed."
Wesley's eyes rose to the mistletoe ball floating overhead. "Are you sure you want to risk Nargle attack?"
Luna strode forward. "Hello. My name is Luna Roberts. It's Christmas Eve and there's mistletoe. Prepare to be kissed."
He backed into a corner. "Keep saying that."
She dropped the sword and pressed her body against his. "Hello," she said, rising on tiptoe.
"Hello, lady," he murmured.
"It's Christmas Eve and there's mistletoe," she whispered.
Wesley closed his eyes. "I am prepared to be kissed."
Luna happily snogged the smile off his face.
While the 'captain's' comrades in arms were in the arms of their husbands, he was using a trackingbrall to locate his lovely quarry. She must have been using a Disillusionment Charm to slip unseen from room to room, because the small orb kept changing the exact coordinates of her location.
How very Slytherin of her. He approved.
After a half hour, Draco tracked her to the attic. He muttered a spell. The door slammed shut. He called out, "Hear that, petite musketeer? I just bespelled the doors and they won't open without my specific counter spell. So you may as well come out, come out, from wherever you are..."
Bright laughter spilled into the shadowed gloom. "Where have I heard that before?"
He stalked toward the sound. In the far corner, he found his adversary sitting on the window seat of a re-created medieval solar. His lips turned down. "You're giving up?"
Ginny raised her sword. "No. This section had more open room." She lunged, striking steel against steel.
His beautiful opponent had speed and cunning, but his stamina eventually wore down her down. Draco engaged her blade with his in a daring move to disarm. In seconds, Ginny stood, defenceless, with a smile on her face.
"Bold move. How Gryffindor of you."
A sardonic eyebrow rose. "How Slytherin of you to try and distract me from naming the terms of your surrender." He crossed to the window seat and lounged, one hand holding the rapier pointed at his wife.
Ginny almost rushed him. Sprawled the way he was, she could have him disarmed and pinned beneath her in moments. Since Draco had won, however, she decided to play fair. "State your terms."
She pretended to be reluctant. "What do you want?"
He used his rapier to point to a dressing screen. "Behind that you'll find seven veils. Put them on."
Ginny's cheeks flushed, but it wasn't with feigned anger. "You expect me to dance for you?"
Gorgeous masculine lips curved. "I'll participate at the end of the performance."
She blew him a kiss. "I'll be right back."
On Christmas morning, Wesley awoke to find Luna sitting cross-legged beside him with her elf hat on and a wrapped box on her lap.
"I've been watching you sleep. I hope someday we have a little girl who looks like you."
He yawned. "Don't you mean a boy?"
"No. Your hair, eyes and dimples would make a prettier girl. Our son can look like me."
Wesley sat up. "If we have a daughter who looks like you, she'll be beautiful."
She kissed him softly. "I hope you like your present. I wanted it to be a surprise."
He reached for the box and tried to open it. "How much spellotape did you use, Buttercup?"
Wesley eventually ripped the paper off and lifted a bound manuscript out of the box.
"I've been writing a book in my free time at work...I have loads of free time...and, well, I found a publisher and dedicated the book to you."
He opened Night of the Nargles by L.L. Roberts and read, "To my husband Wesley, my true love." He was lost for words, so he thanked her it in a kiss that was the most pure, and the most passionate.
In a guest room overlooking the rose garden, Terry opened his eyes to find his wife had cut her hair.
Lying on her side, facing him, Blaise said, "Minky did it for me while you were sleeping."
He sifted his fingers through short curls. "Why?"
"Because I don't want to be the face of Zabini anymore..."
"Creevey might cry, losing his favourite model."
She shook her head. "I want to concentrate on finding new jewellery designers, on expanding our market." She took a deep breath and said, "And expanding my family."
He felt like a Bludger hit him in the head. It was hard to think straight. "Are you trying to say...?"
Expecting...and she had thought he wanted a divorce. Merlin, he shouldn't have kept his feelings from Blaise! Determined to fly a new pattern, so to speak, Terry cradled his wife's face in his hands and said tenderly, "No. We're pregnant."
Draco was deep asleep when the pitter-patter of little feet echoed in the corridor. The door of the Master Suite was pushed open, and a small body clothed in fuzzy-green, footed pyjamas launched itself like a miniature rocket onto the bed.
"Wake up, Daddy!"
The sleepy father attempted to coax, "Don't you want to lie down with Mummy and Daddy for a few more minutes?"
"No! Up, Daddy!"
"It must be a mutant Weasley gene, this desire to rise at the crack of dawn."
Draco heard Ginny giggle and said, "I wouldn't laugh, you naughty girl. You may only have coal in your stocking."
She rolled over to kiss him, and their son who was bouncing impatiently on his chest. "No I won't. I have a husband who loves me and gives me gifts, regardless."
Draco suffered chubby fingers yanking his hair to pull Ginny down for another kiss. "So you do."
Hours later, Ginny gazed around at the paper-strewn disorder of the lounge and felt a bit wistful. She loved being with her friends, but somehow it didn't seem like Christmas without her boisterous family crowded around. She was thinking that perhaps they could pop over to the Burrow for a visit, later in the day, when her mother bustled in.
"Where's my baby?" Molly cried.
Ginny stood. Her son ran past her. "Nana!"
Draco kissed her cheek. "Don't be jealous."
Before she could protest, Arthur Weasley walked in and promptly dropped to his knees to hug his grandson too.
In the doorway behind him, Fred called, "Sorry, old mum, you're not the baby of the family any more."
Angelina pushed her husband into the room with a loving nudge. "Behave!"
George laughed, entering with his heavily pregnant wife Alicia. "He is behaving...badly!"
"Your sons are behaving badly, kicking me like mad this morning," Alicia said with a smile.
George ushered her over to sit on the sofa next to Blaise. He bent and kissed her belly. "Be good for Daddy, boys." He suddenly grinned. "Kicked me in the mouth, did you see that? What aim! What strength! Future Gryffindor Beaters, for sure!"
"Only until my son tries out for the team and takes one of their positions," said Fred.
"I'm not even pregnant," said Angelina, the red and white beads in her braids shaking.
Fred sat in a chair and pulled her down to sit on his lap. "Not for lack of trying."
Ginny went around hugging her family. When she reached her mother, she said, "Where's the rest?"
"Ron and Hermione will be here before Christmas Dinner." Molly lowered her voice. "When Draco owled that we must come for Christmas Dinner as well as Boxing Day for Drake's Birthday party, I contacted Hermione right off. She said she'll take Ronald to her parents and give him spiked eggnog so he'll be in a jolly mood."
"Smart woman. What about Bill and Phlegm—Fleur?"
Her mother made a face. "Frenchwomen do not get up at ill-mannered hours. They require ze beauty sleep, so they'll be here for dinner as well."
Ginny patted her mum's arm consolingly. "At least she'll give you beautiful grandchildren."
"Yes. If Charlie's little Gideon wasn't too young to travel, he and Anika would have come from Romania, and Drake could meet his first-first cousin." Molly's face took on a satisfied look. "The first of many cousins to come."
Ginny nodded and went to join Draco beside the fireplace. He draped an arm around her shoulders. She slipped an arm around his waist. "Thank you for inviting them."
"I invited my mother too."
"Good. Fleur will have one person who appreciates French wine as much as she does." Ginny looked around and said, "Just think. One day all the children of our friends and family will be running around this room, creating noise and havoc."
"Our children too, love."
She glanced up to see a knowing gleam in his eye. Ginny stammered, "I...I just found out...I don't have morning sickness...how did you know?"
He reached out and touched the 'mother's necklace' with its blue topaz suspended from a pendant, fingers brushing her chest deliberately, she was sure. Ginny smiled. "Is the world ready for more pink-haired babies?"
Draco bent and kissed her tenderly. "Reddish-blonde, with an 'e' this time, and ready or not, here they come."
A/N: Anyone remember those old avatars that said 'D/G because we want pink-haired babies?' :D . Inconceivable the Princess Bride quotes weren't obvious, although the Robin Hood, Men in Tights 'Unlike some...I' and the Nightmare Before Christmas 'There goes Christmas' might not have been. :D. I had fun revisiting the Draco hunting Ginny scene (9) and Luna and Wesley's 'Hello, my name is' encounter (23). Also Draco and Ginny's flight to Stonehenge ( 21), the 'Musketeer' chap (37) and Blaise's Tarzan dream (42), although I only put Drake saying the name in (too much fun stuff, not enough time to stroll down memory lane as much as I would've liked, sigh) The song bits by Mariah Carey and Jose Feliciano are familiar standards. If readers of my R/T stories were surprised to 'see' a few characters, well, now you know what other readers won't for a few more fics, ho ho ho! In a few months it will be Easter...anybody up for a Spanish Holiday?
And while I'm self-promoting, If after reading or re-visiting Christmas Kisses, there's always the George and Alicia Christmas ficlet Christmas Sweet, the sequel to Fred and Angelina's Halloween Treat. :D
Whether or not more Christmas stories are on the holiday 'to do' list of readers, I would greatly appreciate the gift of a review.