Jingling bells, merry music along with scents of cinnamon, eggnog and spice filled the air while holly, wreaths and other signs of Yule decorated Malfoy Manor. With Christmas around the corner, behind a stack of gold galleons which would eventually fill his grandchildren's stockings, Lucius sat in his study, reviewing his finances with glee. In another couple of days several million galleons would add to the Malfoy coffers once he closed the deal he was working on. For Lucius Malfoy, the thrill of the kill took new meaning in business ventures, corporate raiding, and hostile take-overs.
A light knock on the door and the whispering of his granddaughter broke his concentration. "Grandfather, may I come in?"
"Enter," he replied. Normally, the children never bothered him. As a matter of fact, the boys nearly feared him which suited him just fine. Because of his childhood, Lucius felt it better to keep his distance just like he did with Draco during his childhood out of fear of harming them. His almost three year old granddaughter, Astrum, hadn't had time to learn to fear him, yet. With a giggle, the child entered and shut the door behind her. For their fifth anniversary, Draco decided to give Hermione a daughter. In truth, the family got the first Malfoy witch in a great many generations who became Narcissa's and Hermione's doll. The two of them constantly outdid themselves between cutesy outfits and hairdos. Tonight's coif du jour was fountain head. "What are you doing in here child?"
A silver puff of hair bounced in front of his desk from one end to the other. "Playing hide and seek with my brothers. I like winning."
"Very well, just hide under the chair until your game is finished." Lucius heard a light commotion just before the chair in front of his desk moved slightly.
In five minutes, Astrum achieved boredom but remained hidden. "Whatcha ya doin?"
"Counting money," he replied.
In order to discourage her, he counted in French. "Un deux trois quatre…"
With perfect diction, she repeated his words. Ever since he could remember, Lucius had an aptitude for phonetics even at a young age. Rapidly, he said several French phrases with their translations which she repeated perfectly. Though my son and my other grandchildren learned to speak at an early age, Astrum inherited a trait of mine that I thought lost. I should have seen this since she's quite eloquent for one so young. For a little while, they played their game with her remaining hidden but repeating the phrases. At the end of it, he quizzed her. "How do you say: what time is it?"
"Quelle heure est-il?" From underneath a silver fountain of hair that inched up in front of his desk while two tiny hands gripped the edge, she pulled herself up so that eyes that looked just like Draco's stared at him. Suddenly, those eyes beheld the gold galleons and twinkled with a glee that reminded Lucius of himself. "Those are pretty, really pretty." For a few moments, those eyes ogled the gold in single-minded fascination just before Astrum yawned. "How do you say: its bedtime?"
"Le c'est heure d'aller au lit." Astrum repeated the words and moved to next to him. Then she stood with her arms outstretched. "Child, your mother or father should put you to bed."
"Everyone takes turns putting me to bed. It's your turn."
"I'm not good at that sort of thing," he countered.
"All you have to do is tuck me in and tell me a story. First, I have to go kiss everyone goodnight. You just need to carry me so I can." Placing her foot on the desk drawer handle and grasping the arm of his chair, Astrum tried to climb on his lap.
"Child, you might fall." Sighing, Lucius picked her up. Unexpectedly, she hugged him and kissed his cheek.
"What story are you going to tell me?"
At that moment, Lucius saw his way out of an uncomfortable situation. "Well, this story is not for the faint of heart since it's about a monster. Maybe you should have someone else tuck you in and tell you a story."
Every time Astrum fluttered her eyelashes at someone, they told her what a darling little girl she was and gave her things. Surely, this would work on Grandfather so she fluttered away. "Please Grandfather, I want to hear the story."
For some reason, Lucius felt compelled to tell her the story now. "Very well then, I'll tell you the story of a beast so vile that even Voldemort dreaded it."
Clapping her hands, Astrum smiled with glee since she would be told a scary story; something her parents never would tell no matter how much she pleaded. Grandfather was so much fun.