Lily shook her head and took a pronounced sip from the glass in her hand. She tenderly touched the two wands in the box she was holding and looked back at her father in law with the tears in her eyes.
"Their new wands were almost identical," Draco told her. "Birch; with grindylow, dragon, and mermaid scale cores. Nuryevski was known for custom blended wand cores," he explained. "They were able to Apparate to Kidwelly for aunt Bella's funeral. There were so many funerals…" He looked her in the eye. "Headmaster Snape had been in their wedding," he shared. "And they'd known the Crabbes since Hogwarts. Mother sent flowers to her niece's funeral; in fact, I'm pretty sure she paid the bill for her and her husband to be buried." Draco sighed and looked again at his daughter-in-law. "And they did eventually renew their wedding vows," he informed her. "Very quietly on their silver anniversary; and they didn't invite anyone. They said it wasn't because of the new wands, though I'm sure that's what started it. Mother seemed to have put the war behind her after that. But they were always very protective of these," he gestured to the box she was holding. "I'd have had it buried with them, but as I said; I couldn't get upstairs after they died."
"Because the house had been left to Scorpius?" Lily asked for clarification as she blotted at the corner of her eye with her knuckle. Draco sipped his brandy and nodded.
"Yes," he answered. "The Manor was never mine," he explained. "I had this house. My mother and her sisters grew up here. My father bought it for me from my mother's family before I was born. We had moved in here the week of our wedding. The day Scorpius was born; my father changed his will to leave the Manor to him. I was trustee until he turned seventeen, but he was already of age when my parents were killed. The house knew it wasn't mine. It was so close to your wedding date. I didn't want involve Scorpius in the funeral arrangements… he had so much else- so much more pleasant that he needed to concentrate on."
"Do you think…?" Lily began, trying to keep composed as best she could. "Do you think that Scorpius is dead?" she asked, stifling a sniffle. "If the house has suddenly opened itself up to CJ… do you think that means…?" Lily couldn't finish her sentence.
"I'm afraid so, Lily," Draco answered her. "I think that's the only explanation." Lily choked back a sob. "I could be wrong," he allowed. "I hope I'm wrong."
"I hope you're wrong, too," Lily answered him.
"You know, my father could tell you everything you might want to know about the house," Draco allowed, trying to steer the subject away from the fact that his only son was likely deceased.
"Your father?" Lily asked. She wrinkled her forehead and took another sip from her glass.
"There's a portrait of the two of them in the house, more than one frame as I recall," Draco explained. Lily shook her head.
"I've never seen it," she told him. "Is that why the empty frame in the sun room?" Draco smiled at his daughter-in-law.
"Yes," he answered her. "The winter garden, the room you call the sun room, was built over the remains of the statuary hall," he explained. "My parents loved what they did with the space; we always had breakfast there when we'd taken Scorpius for an extended stay."
"I never thought to ask a portrait," Lily admitted, shaking her head. "I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me."
"Because you didn't grow up with them," Draco posited. "You grew up in a brand new house," he reminded her. "It's very different."
"I suppose so," she replied.
"Have Cygnus show you upstairs," he suggested to her. "If he finds the door and you're with him, you should be able to see it. They're likely in the frame in their bedroom," he suggested. "Or they may be in their living room. That frame has a curtain on it," he shared. "I'm sure they're somewhere," he assured her. Lily nodded.
"I wouldn't know what to say to them," she said, looking again at the Malfoys' ruined wands in the box she was holding.
"Tell them you know their story," Draco imparted. "Tell them that you've got their wands; introduce them to their great-grandchildren…."
"Speaking of which," Lily inserted. "I should go and get them," she said. Draco withdrew his wand from his sleeve pocket and tapped the box on Lily's lap. One by one the pieces of the box replaced themselves until the final rod of silver had slid itself into place and the little rosette looked once again like a mere piece of decoration. "You want me to take this?" she asked, holding up the tarnished silver box. "Or would you like to have it here?" Draco shook his head.
"No, Lily," he answered. "Take it with you. Show the children what it was that they found. Tell them what I've told you. It's your house now; until Cygnus comes of age. And this one will be his as well; you're likely to live out your days in Malfoy Manor, and you should know all there is to know of it. Someday your grandchildren may come to you with these same questions." Lily smiled back at her father-in-law and carefully placed the box back into the satchel she'd brought it in; more careful with the sentimental artifact than she had been before. She stood and turned to leave.
"You should come to supper next week," she turned back to suggest. "If Cygnus James can get me up those stairs, then I'm sure he can get you there as well. It might do you good to see your old rooms again. And I would love to know it… as you know it, and hear more about your parents."
"I'd like that," Draco agreed, nodding his head in deference to his not standing as she left.
"Send me an owl," she encouraged, "to let me know which night will be best." Draco nodded and smiled again. Lily turned once more to leave.
She reached the door and turned to look back at him one final time. "Thank you," she said to him.
"You're welcome, Lily," he told her. She turned finally and walked through the door and into the hallway leading to the stairs.
Once alone again, Draco withdrew his handkerchief from his breast pocket and pressed it to his moist eyes. It had been years since he'd let himself think about his parents or about the war; and he remembered why. His parents survived so much in their lives only to die on their fiftieth wedding anniversary when an earthquake destroyed the hotel they were staying in. He remembered being told that their bodies were found with their heads still on a single pillow, as though they had been asleep and never known what had hit them.
He thought he's buried his memories of the war with his parents; and his feelings with his sweet wife. But he allowed himself one moment then to remember. He had loved his parents, and he had loved his son. He knew in this instant of believing his only child deceased just what pain his own mother and father had been trying to spare themselves when their wands had been destroyed.
Of all of the things an eight-year-old might have brought down from the third floor; Draco was more glad than he knew how to express that it had been his parents' silver box.
The End... again. The next one will probably start tonight... be on the lookout. I'm having a hard time deciding on a title. It involves time travel- but I don't want to give it a cliched title. If that's the biggest problem I have today then I guess I'm doing alright.
Thanks for all of the reviews and I'd love more... that's a hint. That means you- PRETTY PLEASE. Thank you,