Thank you so much for your kind attention and interest in the story, but this one has wound to a close. Everyone is set and back to where they belong; now they embark on the most challenging task that anyone can face. They must somehow survive the childhood of over a dozen children in the Mansion at one time and at least five highly talented wizards and witches in development.
This story will be continued in "The Dark Circle", a new story line established 09/04/11. Please join us there to continue the tale, focusing mostly on the five precocious children and their progress as the massive infiltration of Potters, Malfoys, and Malfoy-Potters begins at Hogwarts.
Note: The scene with Mallek was borrowed almost in entirety from America's Funniest Videos – thank you crying baby!
"No peeking, love." Harry scolded as Draco tried to pry the blindfold up to peer out at where he was being led.
"But Harry, where are you taking me? We've walked miles…!" he complained, but let the blindfold alone.
Harry had come to him this morning to tell him he had a surprise for him. The mansion had been so busy, so full of life with all the children and the new babies and nannies and well, just life going on that the two of them had not had a moment to themselves at all in months. He chuckled softly at the exaggeration of the distance. "Don't be silly, Dray, it hasn't been THAT far…"
"It feels like it…" Draco complained. He trusted Harry but walking along he could feel the breeze on his skin, the sunlight warming his skin, he could hear the birds singing in the garden and smell the scents of flowers and freshly trimmed grass.
"We're almost there, really. Just bear with me a few moments more." Harry requested with one arm about Draco's waist as he led him on across the expansive grounds of Malfoy Manor. Harry had made a change to the grounds that had just been completed this morning, with Lucius' full permission, and he was quite excited to show that change to Draco.
"But it's taking so long to get there…" he complained.
"You have no patience." Harry laughed teasingly.
"I don't see why I have to be blindfolded…"
"It won't be a surprise if you see before we get there." Harry answered. He finally got Draco where he wanted and halted him. "Here we are…"
"Can I take this bloody thing off now?" Draco asked, his voice nearly a whine now.
Harry laughed and reached up, releasing the knot on the blindfold.
Draco blinked, momentarily blinded by the bright sunlight after having his vision blocked off. He found himself gazing at one of the hedges that bordered the property on the south end. It was late in the season so nothing was growing on it, only dense greenery; the flowers he knew were there in spring hand long gone.
"Well, Harry, the bush is quite interesting, but I'm sure if I've seen it once I've seen it a thousand times. I would much rather be back at the mansion holding our son, you know…" he complained, glancing to his left at Harry.
Merriment and excitement shone in Harry's eyes. "Now Dray, would I really get you all the way out here just to look at some shrub? Surely you know me better than that." He chuckled.
"Well if it isn't the bush then what is it?"
"Look about you, silly." He answered.
Draco turned to his left and saw the mansion was out of sight, screened off nicely by the bit of forest planted just to the north end of the children's new play area. He turned to his right and could not miss the change that Harry had been talking about. The stream that meandered across this corner of the property had been broadened considerably, allowing for the small island that now was in its center at least twenty feet across. A small footbridge had been fashioned out of wrought iron, the scrolling metal leading from their side to the shore of the island. And in the center of that island, with its branches drooping down to brush and almost hide the entire island was a weeping cherry tree. He stared a moment in disbelief. "It looks just like the tree in the park… But how…?" he murmured.
"Amazing what a bit of gold can convince muggles to part with." Harry answered, releasing Draco to allow him to move to the bridge.
"Its… you mean it's really our tree…?" Draco looked at him.
"Yes. I know you were worried about the Muggles doing something to our tree out there in the park, so I bought it from them and planted three in its place. And now this is really our tree, now and forever." He smiled, moving to join him.
Draco took his hand and together they walked across the bridge, the floor of which was wrought iron as well with the words 'Love' in the ironwork as well as the word 'forever'. "It's beautiful… oh how I've missed this tree so much," he murmured as he parted the branches, which allowed them into the shadowed shelter of the tree.
"The children won't see it either. I've put confundus charms and special protection charms to keep the children away from this part of the property, with your father's permission. There are also silencing charms cast upon the island and the branches of the tree itself; nothing we do here will be seen outside the branches of this tree. This is our retreat, Draco, for those times when we just need a moment or two to ourselves…"
Draco seized him and pulled him into a long, deep kiss to express his joy over the gift his husband had given to him; Harry was quite content to return that kiss with the same passion and more in the shelter of their own private retreat within the branches of the willow.
Later that day…
Harry and Draco strolled back into the mansion arm in arm to hear the clear wailing of one of the children; it had to be horribly loud to carry this far through the building. They glanced at each other with concern and followed the piteous sound. It led them to the children's west wing, which over the last several months had been modified into a complex of children's rooms and nurseries that surrounded a central play room. The area to the eastern quarter had a single corridor that ran off it, and that corridor led to the rooms of the Circle children.
There, just beyond the opening of the corridor, lay a young child dressed in deepest blue with golden trim and matching boots. He looked like he had fallen over, as if all the muscles in his body had stopped working for him at the same moment. His lungs were all right, though, for he let loose another wail that sounded heartbroken and so lost. Lucius Malfoy stood only a few paces away from the child, impassively watching the performance.
Draco hurried over, moving as if to pick the boy up. "What's happened, father, why is he…?"
"Don't." Lucius cut him off, knowing what his intentions were, his voice calm and level.
The younger man paused, and then straightened, letting his arms fall to his sides. Mallek wailed louder, reaching for Draco and making him feel awful for not picking up the boy. "Don't pick him up? Why ever not...?" Draco asked.
"It is far easier to show you than to explain. Follow me." Lucius said as he turned his back on the child lying sprawled on his side on the floor, crying hopelessly.
Draco hesitated, but then he and Harry followed his father out of the room, out of sight of the wailing little boy. There was a moment's pause in the crying, then a hiccup and silence.
Lucius gestured to let them know to watch the doorway they had just come through. After several seconds had passed, Mallek came looking in through the door, not crying at all. The moment that he spotted the three adults, he crumpled back to the floor and began to cry all over again.
Harry and Draco stared at the boy. What the bloody hell…?
Lucius gestured to them to follow again, and the two did so without question this time. The moment they were out of sight, the crying stopped again. This time Lucius took them around a second corner to make it clear what this little child was doing. Moments passed, and Mallek came peering around the corner clearly looking for them. The second he saw them all his knees folded and he fell to the floor again, screaming piteously.
"How long has he been doing that?" Draco asked, trying not to laugh, covering his mouth with a hand to hide the smirk at the child's antics.
"About twenty minutes so far. The way he had been raised by the nannies and his foster fathers has convinced him that if he screams he can get anything that he desires." Lucius said, leading them through another door to regain distance between him and the crying. "I banned the nannies from picking the boy up unless there has been some sort of physical hurt. When he refused to stop crying I simply walked out of the room. Then he did what you just now saw; he got quiet, searched for me, then threw himself upon the floor and began crying all over again."
"Why is he throwing a fit anyway?" Harry asked.
"He's been separated from the others, without asking his permission; they've been gone nearly two hours now. Clearly he thinks he ought to be with them; he was crying for Alerick at first and has gone through calling for each of the circle children." The three of them halted and again there was silence that lasted just until Mallek could see them again; he crumpled to the floor and began to weep and wail again.
"I've never seen a kid do that…" Harry couldn't help but chuckle. "How are you going to handle it…?"
"Let him scream. He'll get tired eventually and go to sleep. By the time he wakes up the others will be back." Lucius answered evenly. "I refuse to be out-lasted by any infant."
Draco put his hands over his ears as Mallek got even louder, his voice cracking as he tried to scream louder. "I hope your ears can take it father… I don't think mine could."
"The answer is easy." Lucius walked into the next room and once the others followed the cacophony ended. "I simply have to act Scottish."
"It's an old joke I once heard… Merlin, it must have been Dumbledore who spouted it to me. To act like one of those Scots who play that hideous bagpipe instrument, you simply walk. After all, they walk to get away from their own music." Lucius smirked. Both of the younger men laughed at that comment. Again Mallek followed and fell to the floor wailing with gusto. "And I will simply keep moving until he gets tired of this game." He said, moving again.
There was a muffled 'bamph' and a house elf appeared, bowing low before Lucius. "Master Lucius there is a visitor for you sir…"
"Is there? I suppose I couldn't hear the chimes over all the caterwauling…" he said as Mallek found them again. His crying was getting more broken; clearly he was being outlasted by the stubborn Malfoy patriarch. "Damitri Zabini said he would be by sometime today to speak with me." He glanced at the boy on the floor, who was sobbing now but there were long patches between his strong wails now. "Draco, could you fetch the head Nanny and have her simply watch him until he has finished with this nonsense? She is not to pick him up nor touch him until he is no longer crying at all."
"Of course, father." Draco said, turning to go.
"I'll wait till they come back if you want." Harry suggested. "I think Damitri might have some questions for you."
"Most likely, though I haven't a clue what they would be. I've given him every bit of information I had." Lucius said, turning to go as well.
Lucius moved into the foyer to see Damitri standing beside the door, clearly waiting for him. "Good afternoon, Zabini…" he said, giving the man a formal bow.
"Good afternoon, Malfoy." Damitri said, returning the formal gesture of greeting.
"Do you have more questions? I don't see what I could possibly tell you; I think I've told you everything…"
"No, I have information for you. And more." He glanced toward the door, which was left open just a hair.
"More…?" Lucius asked, curious for just a moment, and then it dawned on him. "Don't tell me you've found her…?" he asked softly, afraid to even believe it.
"Yes, I have."
"Is she here…?" he was at the door in only a few strides and he pulled it open; but there was no one upon the front steps or in the yard, waiting to see him.
Damitri felt his heart go out to this man; he had been waiting all of his life to meet this young woman and she almost refused to come today. "No, she's not here, but she is waiting nearby. She was quite reluctant to come at all; she has been raised to believe the old rumors about you and your family during the reign of the Dark Lord. It took quite a bit of convincing to even get her to come to London; she agreed to come today only if she could meet you in a neutral place."
"She must place great stock in your trustworthiness and ability to protect her, if she thinks me such a monster…" Lucius murmured.
"She has been raised as such to protect her from your father; you must remember that." Damitri cautioned.
Lucius took a deep breath and nodded sharply. "I've dealt with people thinking I'm some crazed creature all my life it seems, I can handle it now. Where do I meet her?"
"I can take you now, if you've time."
In answer to that question, Lucius simply moved on through the open door.
When the pair arrived on front of the small restaurant in a rather lucrative side of the muggle town of London, Lucius found is insides were still whirling as much as they did when he was apparating. Would he even know his daughter when he saw her? Would he look into her face and see the man he had loved so much and been forced to let go? Would she somehow reflect his own father's features more than his…? He found his nerves building and simply did what he always did when he found his tension growing; he slipped into the habitual mask of the Malfoy. He would not let her see how truly frightened he was that she, his last link to James, would reject him. He missed James so much…
Damitri's voice interrupted his woolgathering and building of fears. "She will be in the back booth; it's up to you if you want me to come or not…" he offered kindly.
Lucius thought for a moment; then he sighed with clear resignation and reluctance. "Regardless of how much I wish to immediately pull her into the family I doubt that it would be a possibility right now. Its clear she has a great deal of confidence in you, else she never would have agreed to come here and meet with me, whether you are here or not. And you might have some answers that I do not yet have… If you do not mind, I would like you to accompany me."
"Of course, Lucius. I truly find Ariandi a very lovely young woman." Damitri nodded, gesturing for Lucius to precede him into the restaurant.
The Malfoy patriarch stepped in, straightening his robes. He wished for a moment that he had worn his more formal robes but then brushed that thought aside; he had no idea how she was dressed and did not want to make her feel inadequate to be part of his family. He glanced around; the back booth was empty but there was a drink and two untouched glasses of water upon the table.
Lucius found himself feeling more than a bit depressed that he could not pick her out of those present. "It looks like she's changed her mind…" he murmured.
"I don't think so; it's possible she just nipped off to the loo. Let's have a seat and wait for her." Damitri suggested. His companion nodded and took a seat to wait, as did Damitri. They did not have to wait long; in only a few minutes the two looked up as a woman approached the table.
She was dressed stylishly without being overdone in muggle-style clothes; a smart jacket and skirt combination in deep blue that hugged her feminine curves, covering the pale cream silk blouse she wore with heels that matched the skirt. Her hair was unmistakably of the white-blonde that seemed to dominate the Malfoy clan, though it was not straight as Lucius' own was; it was clearly at least wavy if not downright curly. She wore it mostly confined in a bun though several strands hung like a pale halo about her face. She was of average height and build, and her skin had a healthy glow. Her eyes were James' without a doubt; they had the same deep green with flecks of gold that seemed to draw the eye in.
"You must be Lucius Malfoy." She said softly as she halted beside the table.
He rose to his feet even as Damitri did. "Yes, I am. And you are Ariandi?"
"Yes." She said, moving forward and taking a seat. Lucius didn't miss the fact that she placed herself as far from him as possible and ensured that Damitri was placed between herself and him nor did she follow the muggle tradition of shaking hands and offer him her hand in greeting. "Mr. Zabini told me you wished to meet me."
"More than you can possibly know." Lucius said softly. "I see you are dressed as a muggle…"
"I was raised as a muggle child." She shrugged. "My father… I mean, the man who raised me was a squib and my mother was muggle. I'm quite comfortable in these, much more than in robes and other flashy wizarding gowns."
"I understand that… and I want you to know that there are many things you don't know about me. You don't know me very well at all."
"I've heard plenty." She answered quietly, her face closing up in a Malfoy-like mask of dislike.
Lucius sighed softly; this young woman had definitely been hardened against him and any facet of the Malfoy family. Perhaps another tack was in order to reach out to her. "I have no doubt on that fact… but what have you heard about the one who gave birth to you?"
She blinked. "What…? Well, no, nothing really. My father spoke of him only rarely; he had no details to give me. All he knew was that the young man was still of school age and his name was James. That's all I'm really certain of."
"I will tell you anything you wish to know about him." He answered softly. "He has left us both but I can tell you all about him."
"Why did he not want me?" She asked softly.
"He did, so very much… and you will never understand just how much I wanted you myself." Lucius answered, unable to raise his eyes to look at her. It was all so painful; he was sure he'd need a few drinks simply to get through this. "He was still in Hogwarts when he conceived. He was really too young to make his own decisions but neither of us cared; we were going to elope and flee Britain. We were going to live in America and raise you."
She glanced at Damitri, who nodded his assurance that Lucius spoke the truth.
"Then why?" she asked again.
"The stories you have heard about me pale before what my father was." He answered. "When he discovered James was with my child he was infuriated. Like all pureblood wizarding families, he had my entire life mapped out for me before I was six years of age. He would tolerate no diversion from his plan for my life; indeed, it has gone pretty much as he desired up until the Dark Lord's death. It was his decision and his doing to remove you from the minds and lives of all of those whom you mattered to; I was not even aware of your birth until days later. The removal of you from our lives and from the memories of anyone who mattered was his decision; his doing. He even ensured that James had no memory of you and at the same time convinced him that he never wanted anything to do with me again."
"How did he do all of that?"
Damitri spoke up to answer. "Abraxus Malfoy was quite adept at memory manipulation without wand or physical contact. He made your father, James, believe that the reason that he was so weak and sore following the delivery was actually due to a vicious dark magic attack by Lucius. He twisted the mind of James' father to believe that there had been no baby. His mother had always been very delicate and prone to moments of confusion regarding reality, so no one paid any attention to her when she said there had been a child. James did not remember, nor did his father so no investigation was ever done." Damitri supplied.
"Others had to have known he was carrying…"
"Yes, they did. But at the time it was not unusual for those carrying unwanted children to 'disappear' and come back without any sign of carrying; it was inappropriate for anyone to have a child out of wedlock."
"But you still knew about me." She said, gazing at Lucius.
"My father planned it that way. He even altered my mother's memories; she never regained the knowledge of you. I searched for months; lost my job at Hogwarts, lost any semblance of sanity for a little while. I nearly destroyed the family name trying to find you and I truly didn't care. I had no idea where James had vanished to, that spring break. You were not due to be born until that summer, months away." Lucius answered quietly and then fell silent for several minutes. It was clear that he was not finished, and Ariandi remained silent, wanting to hear all that he had to say. "I searched five countries for you; every place I knew my father had frequented, every property that he bought or even looked at, even those of his friends and acquaintances… I found nothing. I searched his offices and every place I could find to try to locate answers of where he had hidden you… I even drug Narcissa into it all to try to get my father to talk. I just wanted to know if you were dead; then I would have been able to grieve for you… but there was no body, no trace of you no matter how hard I searched…"
"Mr. Zabini found me." She said quietly.
Damitri felt it necessary to speak up again; he had learned from Lucius' own memories how hard the man had searched for his lost daughter. "Yes, I did, but only because Lucius had never given up the possibility that you could be alive. Lucius had been living with the evidence for decades and never knew it. His father derived years of pleasure from his son searching for something magically spelled against his finding it."
"Hidden away in the old man's study, I understand." Lucius said with distaste. "I hated his study. I only went in there once after he died and I tore everything apart… of course I found nothing and I sealed the room so no one would use it again. The house elves restored the room once I gave permission but there was nothing for me to find in there."
"It had to be someone else." Damitri agreed.
"Why didn't you just give him the information? He's my father and supposedly so worried about me; why didn't you let him look for me?" she asked Damitri.
Lucius snorted in derision. "Think about that a moment, would you Ariandi? Think on what you would have done, had Lucius Abraxus Malfoy shown up on your front doorstep. I highly doubt you would have welcomed me with open arms and invited me inside for a cup of tea; more likely you would have drawn a wand, cursed me as quickly as possible, and made your escape… not that I would blame you, knowing what history you must have been given on me…"
She sat back in her chair, considering this blonde man whom she had been told such evil things about all through her youth. She had never been threatened with the bogey-man; she had been threatened with being taken away by Malfoy if she misbehaved. And that had been enough. "You're probably right; I would have done just that. I won't let my family be harmed."
"Nor would I. And that is where that reputation you are so aware of has come from. I was merely protecting my son the only way I knew how." He said softly. "And I was successful in that protection; my son is a fine man now."
"Is he? I haven't heard much about your son." She commented.
"Really…? His actions caused him many problems with the ministry; at one point I had to sue the Daily Prophet to ensure there were no more slanderous stories listed in that worthless rag about my son. He did no wrong in the time of the fall of the Dark Lord; he did all he could to survive."
"The papers I saw only spoke of the heroism of Harry Potter and how fantastic a man he was… and then the disappointment when he married Harry Potter…"
"Yes, Harry Potter; only child of James Potter and Lilly Evans Potter…"
"He… He's my brother…? Harry Potter…?"
"And so is Draco Malfoy." Lucius agreed. "It's strange, what fate decrees for us… my son married the son of my beloved James." He answered. "Their wedding spread shockwaves through the entire wizarding population. Everyone expected Potter to marry the only Weasley girl. Your father and Lilly Evans married a few years after he… lost his memory and we lost you." He said softly. "He never regained his memories of you nor of me, before he died."
She was silent a few moments; digesting the information she had been given. Lucius allowed her that time, knowing it was a lot to take in. "I just… a lot that I had been told is… all wrong." She said finally.
"Precisely why I agreed to meet you here. I wanted to talk to you on our own, before introducing the rest of the family."
"I thought you had only one son."
Malfoy lifted one elegant eyebrow. "You don't read the Prophet, do you?"
"No, my father… do you mind if I still call him father?"
"He raised you. I can only hope someday you can see me as worthy of that title as well; no, I do not mind if you call him what he earned, raising you."
"My father said the Prophet was worthless. We got our news out of Bavaria and Egypt, mostly."
"Even they must have reported on the insanity of the Parkinson's…"
"Yes. Something about stealing babies…?"
"More than just children were stolen, but we will fill you in on all of that later. Due to what they did, you now have several siblings and nieces and nephews."
"I had one, a sister. She died about five years ago; she was a squib like father and…"
"The man you call father is not a squib, Ariandi." Damitri told her.
"No, he had magic. He hid them from you and the world to keep you safe." Damitri continued.
"Safe from what?"
"Safe from your own grandfather." Lucius was not afraid to answer. "My father wanted you to die that night. If it were not for that man who spirited you away, he would have succeeded in your murder. He never approved of the bond between James and me; when he found out about the pregnancy he said that I was young and stupid and did not understand what a burden I was putting on the Malfoy name, as I was the only son. He told me that you were nothing but a mistake. I had been betrothed as a child to Narcissa Black and he was determined to make that into my future."
"Did she know about James and you? Narcissa, I mean?"
"Yes; my dear Cissa was my best friend. She not only knew; she had supported us every step of the way. She is the one who helped me keep my sanity after James was gone… she kept tabs on him and let me know where he was and what was happening in his life."
"Didn't you marry her anyway?"
"My father got his wish." He agreed. "We did get married, because there was no hope that I would ever have my James again. We had only one son, giving my father the heir he so desperately desired for the Malfoy name. The birth nearly killed her; the medi-wizards told us both that another child would certainly take her life so we never attempted to have any more."
"I can understand that." She said softly. "So… what is he like? I've heard rumors but…"
"Rumors." Lucius half-growled. "I can't stand rumor-mongers; they've nearly ruined my life and my son's as well."
"So you were never one of the Death Eaters?"
"I was; I can explain all that to you some day. That was never a rumor."
"And you never killed on that Dark Lord's command?"
"I never killed on his command. That was pure fiction other people made up. I was cleared in the courts of ever having used the killing curse."
She frowned in thought. "And your son...? He didn't do that either?"
"No, and he is not and never was a Death Eater." He answered.
She sat back, sipping her drink, silent a few moments.
"Might I be permitted to ask some questions?" Lucius asked, feeling it was better to ask permission at this point in time rather than assume.
"You can ask, as long as I can refuse to answer that question if I feel like it." She agreed cautiously. The question he began with was not what she had expected; she had thought he would ask about her magical prowess or strength, or her education.
"Did you have a good childhood?"
She blinked at the question. "Well, yes, I did." She agreed. "Father was always very watchful over us, taking care of our every need. Mother took care of us and father worked down at the magic store; we learned all kinds of tricks and sleight of hand from him but some of his tricks were just hard to master…"
"Some of his tricks were true magic, I'm sure you understand that now."
"If he was not a squib, yes, it makes much more sense to me." She agreed.
"You and your… sister, you said…? …you two had a good relationship?" he asked again surprising her.
"We were sisters, or so I thought… she was blonde like me so it made sense that we would be sisters. Her hair was very straight and her eyes were green not hazel like mine. She was so lovely…"
"Was… you speak of her as if she was no longer alive."
"She died when she was fifteen… it nearly destroyed father to lose her. Mother went… funny when she died. She was never the same after that and she died within a year of my sister."
"What caused her death?"
"She was such an adventurous girl; almost anything you challenged her to do, she would go out and do. And if she couldn't do it the first time she wouldn't quit until she had managed to master whatever it was… she was horseback riding and they came across a snake on the path… the horse threw her and she landed hard on the rock path. By the time we found her it was already much too late."
"My condolences; I know she was a sister to you and you clearly cared for her." Lucius said softly. "How old were you at the time?"
"I was twenty years old and on my own by then. I had to get a second job to put mother in a nursing home. Father didn't need to go to a home until just last year; he tells me he's only seventy but I think he's much older than that…"
"He is closer to ninety years old than seventy." Damitri informed her.
"He was in his fifties, late fifties, when he took you in and married your mother."
"Oh. I had no idea. He was always so strong and there for everything…"
"Being a wizard does have some advantages; especially when your strongest talent is to heal."
"But he always was looking at those mail-order things squibs get to try to get magical talent..."
"While you were growing up, had you no accidents? Things that resulted in cuts and broken bones?" Lucius asked.
"I never had any broken bones. I sprained my ankle a few times and hurt my leg when I fell off the roof but I never…" her eyes showed comprehension. "Oh…! You mean father healed my broken bones…?"
"I don't doubt that he did, for both you and your sister."
"But why would he hide such a skill? He could have gotten a lot of money for helping people…"
"And he would have exposed himself to the public eye and the wizarding world if he advertised his power; my father surely would have tracked him down at that point. Your father hid himself and you so well that he never heard of my father passing, over twenty years ago."
"Was your father truly such an awful person?" she asked.
"He was… a Malfoy." Lucius shrugged. "Certain that there is no family in this entire universe good enough to be equal partner to his own. Obsessed with promoting the family name and its power, expanding our holdings… He was what he was raised to be by his own father, using whatever means he felt necessary. He tried to raise me the same as he was raised, and nearly succeeded in turning me into his own mirror image; but I take great pride in the fact that I never once abused my own son, nor treated him as I was treated… well, almost never." He said softly.
"What did you do to your son that your father would have?"
"Forbade him from marrying the one he loved; your brother, Harry Potter. I know now it was jealousy driving me to keep them apart; I tried all I could without ostracizing myself from Draco to keep them from getting closer but there was no stopping their relationship at that point." He sighed, ashamed of what he had done. "But now that I remember everything and know of all the details, I realize what I have done. It's the only thing I am ashamed of in the entire raising of my son. I had treated him as my own father treated me; trying to arrange a marriage that was not suited to his tastes or his heart. And now I couldn't be more content that he went against my wishes."
"What changed your mind?"
Lucius could not help a soft smile. "There is an old saying that is so true, amongst both the muggle and wizarding worlds as well; nothing heal the heart like a grandchild."
"How many are there…?"
"Draco has given birth to a son just recently, and has named him James. There are several others as well, not from the bond between the two of them. My dear little Angel, Alerick and Mallek. And of course the twins, Lilly and Remus Severus. There are several more as well but I would prefer that you would come and meet them for yourself, as I would love to meet your family. I never had any choice in whether to raise you, but I would like you to come to understand that I never threw you away."
She was silent a long moment. "I think that would be good for me… and I would like to meet my brothers, though it's odd to think they are married…"
"You will get used to it; it's taken me years, but I have accepted it as well." He said with a soft smile. He rose to his feet then. "I will have my wards about the mansion opened to you, and I will also ensure that my fireplaces are open to you through the Floo network. You have only to speak the words "Malfoy Manor" and you will be transported to my Floo Room."
"That's very generous of you…" she said softly.
"You are my daughter, like as not, and you will always be welcome in Malfoy Manor." Lucius gave her a formal wizard's bow of respect. "I hope to see you soon." He said with true warmth. "Shall we, Damitri?"
"Yes of course. Good day, Ariandi." He smiled at her, rising and bowing as well. The two wizards strode out of the restaurant leaving her gazing after them, bemused.
Thank you so much for your kind attention and interest in the story, but this one has wound to a close. There may be a couple of epilogues coming, but everyone is set and back to where they belong; now they embark on the most challenging task that anyone can face. They must somehow survive the childhood of over a dozen children in the Mansion at one time and at least five highly talented wizards and witches in development.
Note: The scene with Mallek was borrowed almost in entirety from America's Funniest Videos – thank you crying baby!