Sorry it took me a little longer than promised to post. I just got internet access back last night. Hope you enjoy the end of the story and thanks to everyone who has stuck with me this far!
Draco glared at the dark haired boy sprawled out on his living room sofa. Yet another one of Gemma's friends who felt comfortable enough to sleep in his house. All around him, the women were discussing the last minute wedding details - flowers should go here, don't put this person next to that one, chicken is too bourgeois for a wedding. He was sure that if the debate between rose or mauve colored napkins continued again, his ears would begin to bleed.
"Daddy, I can't concentrate on my Charms essay, and it's due in two months. Couldn't Gem get married after I graduate? It's only another year," Emmy complained. She stood before him with an armful of books, scrolls of parchment, and her writing utensils.
He smiled at his middle child. She reminded him of Hermione at that age - short tempered, huffy, laden down with school materials and not enough time in which to complete all the things she wanted to do. Her honey brown curls had grown to just around her waist and she stared at him with soulfully brown eyes. She was the child who demanded the least, merely asking for book money and a quiet place to do her work.
"If it were up to me, none of you would get married," he told her kindly. He draped an arm around her shoulders and led her upstairs away from the noise. "Why don't you work in here," he suggested, leading her to the master bedroom.
"Really?" she asked with wide eyes. Draco nodded. "And no one will bother me? Demi won't come running in asking to borrow my shoes or wanting to know if I still have my fifth year Transfiguration homework?"
"I'll put a silencing charm on the room so it's quiet, and you can lock the door yourself," he told her. "Just be careful with your ink. Try not to spill it anywhere. You know your mother."
She nodded knowingly. Hermione would raise cane if ink hit her bedspread or the carpet. She settled herself at Hermione's vanity table and spread out her work. Draco silently cast his spell and left.
"Daddy, I can't find my right shoe," Demi declared as if this were a state of emergency. Draco had just shut the door behind him, hoping his youngest hadn't disturbed Emmy. "And Mum says she wants my coursework done before I go back to school. Plus, I need new school robes. And do I really have to wear that awful dress Gemmy picked out for me?"
"It's your sister's wedding," he said, trying to remain patient. "When you get married, you can make her wear something hideous. Perhaps something in a bright orange." A devious smile alighted Demi's face as she pictured her oldest sister in bright orange robes with lemon yellow ruffles. She wound a light brown curl around her index finger, her gray eyes sparkling with delight.
Narcissa had always warned him that he would have a child just like him some day, and Draco idly wondered if Demi was the product. She was sweet and loving, but her Slytherin side came out to play often. Of her sisters, she was most concerned with how she looked and what type of impression she made on others. She had proudly boasted when the Sorting Hat placed her in her father's House, claiming it was because Draco liked her the best. Emmy had sulked, having been placed in neither parent's House. It wasn't until Hermione pointed out that she herself had almost been a Ravenclaw that her mood ever so slightly improved.
"The day after the wedding, we'll make a trip to Diagon Alley," he promised her. "You can buy your robes. Emmy can buy whatever books she has left to buy. Mummy will get mad at Daddy for staring at Quidditch gear for too long. And I'll carry all the bags. Like I always do."
"But it's not the same. Gemmy won't be there," she replied, plumping up her bottom lip into a pout.
"No," Draco said with a wistful sigh. "She's too good for us now. Would rather get married and go on holiday than take a trip to Diagon Alley with her family."
Demi produced a typical teenage eye roll. "Maybe if you were less embarrassing in public, she would have stayed with us."
"I'm going to see if I can help your mother. Get your coursework done," he said, passing by her. His foot reached the first step before he turned back. "And I am not embarrassing." He proceeding down the stairs before she could make a reply. Passing the living room, he noticed Flint still asleep on the couch. He grumbled something under his breath about the boy being a good for nothing lout before entering the kitchen.
"Oh, Daddy, please tell me you've picked up your dress robes," Gemma pleaded without so much as a hello. "The wedding is in two days and you can't look like a mess."
"I won't," he said defensively. "Hermione, will you please calm your daughter down and explain that you picked them up last week?"
Hermione nodded her head to back him up. "Of course, he still hasn't tried them on," she added, smirking at him before looking back to her seating chart.
"Et tu?" he whispered in her ear before kissing her cheek. He crossed to the sink and filled a glass with water. Taking a sip, he turned back to face the table of women who paid him little attention. "So, my dear Gemma, my wonderful first born, just how long does Flint intend to sleep in my living room?"
Gemma looked up briefly, shrugged, and went back to her work. "I had kind of forgotten that he was there, to be honest with you." She glanced down to the list in her lap and looked back to her father, batting her eyelashes and smiling sweetly. "Daddy, there is something I need you to do if you don't mind? Could you pick up the Notts since your wards won't allow for direct Apparition?" Draco scowled. Gemma had been begging for months to have the wards changed to allow her future in-laws. It wasn't that he didn't like the Notts. He and Theo had been friends for years, both in school and after. Theodore and Gemma had grown up together, and he had been her support system thought their Hogwarts days. But now, now he was the boy trying to take his daughter away from him. There had been enough of that over the years, and Draco wasn't ready to go through it again.
"Fine," he grunted. "But get Flint off my couch."Gemma fiddled with her ring nervously as he walked by. He heared her asked "What's wrong with Dad?" as he exited the kitchen, but didn't stick around long enough to hear the response. He stepped out into the summer air, feeling the soft night breeze hit his face. Slowly, he walked to the end of the path and waited.
Three figures rounded the corner, and Draco stepped past the front gate. Theo clapped a hand on his back, receiving a curt nod from Draco. "I'm not much happier about this than you," Theo confided as his wife and son walked ahead of them.
"You only have to do this once. I have three girls," Draco grumbled his reply.
"True, but you won't have to live with Daphne alone now," Theo replied.
The quartet entered the house. "Why's Flint on your couch?" Theodore asked, waking up his best man.
Gemma jogged out of the kitchen and leapt into Theodore's arms. "Two more days," she whispered before trying to kiss him. It was the sound of Draco clearing his throat behind them that caused Theodore to ignore her affections.
"Are you close to done with the preparations?" he asked Hermione. She nodded, glaring angrily at him. "Good, I'm going to bed."
The gardens of Malfoy Manor were decorated perfectly for a summer wedding. Gemma paced nervously as she waited for the ceremony to start. Her mother and sisters waited by her side for her father to announce that it was time.
"Where is he?" she asked for the sixth time. A light sheen of perspiration dotted her forehead as panic set in.
"He'll be here," Hermione assured her. She turned to her youngest, "Dem, go outside and check to see if your father is here yet."
Demi rolled her eyes, but rose from her chair and opened the door to leave. She gave a startled gasp when she saw her father with his fist poised to knock on the door. "Hi, Dad, we were just talking about you," she said cheekily.
Draco stepped around her, ignoring the comments she made about the beautiful day and his being late. His eyes lingered on Gemma in her wedding robes, flowing white material that gave her a positively ethereal look. She wore a wreath of small flowers and baby's breath woven into her dark, curly locks. Draco moved closer to her and Hermione, and kissed his wife's cheek before whispering something into her ear.
"Dem, Emmy, let's wait outside so Daddy and Gemmy can talk," she said, ushering the younger girls out.
Draco sat beside Gemma and exhaled a shaky breath. Before he could speak, Gemma glared angrily at him and spoke.
"Where have you been?" she demanded, color rushing to her cheeks to turn it, in Draco's opinion, a lovely shade of pink. "You're supposed to walk me down in the aisle in a few minutes, and this is first I see of you. Have you and Theo been drinking?"
Draco took offense to her accusation, but knew that it would not do to argue with her. "No, I haven't been drinking," he replied sourly. He rubbed his hands over his face and sighed. "This is harder than I expected it to be. It feels like I'm losing you again, and after everything that happened in the past with Blaise,-"
"This isn't like that," Gemma replied as gently as she could, resting a hand on Draco's forearm. "That whole mess with Blaise, if he had gotten his way, then yes, you could have lost me. This isn't the same. I'm getting married, not getting new parents."
"I know," he mumbled, taking her hand in his own. "I'm just not sure I'm ready to give you away."
"Well, I could always ask Blaise to do it," she joked, but then realized it might have been too sensitive a subject. "Mum and I thought it would be a nice gesture to invite him. You aren't mad, I hope."
Draco shook his head. "I already saw him. Didn't look like he had any adoption papers in hand, so I think it'll be okay."
Gemma smiled. "So, do you think you're ready to walk me down the aisle now?" she asked hopefully. He stood and extended his hand to her. He pulled her into a tight hug, never wanting to let her go. "Thank you for being my dad," she whispered in his ear.
Draco pulled back and offered her his arm. "Thank you for being my daughter," he replied sincerely. They walked with arms linked to the entrance of the garden. Blaise was seated in the very last row beside a blonde Draco didn't recognize. Her stomach swelled with pregnancy, and Draco briefly wondered if he planned to stick around for this child.
"Happy thoughts, Daddy," she whispered, catching where his line of sight went. He flashed an innocent smile and continued down the aisle. They had reached the altar too quickly for Draco's liking, and he had no choice but to hand Gemma over to Theodore Nott, Jr.
"Who gives this woman in the sacred bond of marriage?" the minister inquired.
"Her mother and I do," Draco replied stoically before taking his seat beside Hermione.
The ceremony passed by in a blur. The vows, the exchange of rings, the bonding ceremony all went too quickly for Draco. He stood to applaud as Gemma and Theodore walked up the aisle with bright, happy smiles on their faces. Blaise was the first to greet the newlyweds.
"Congratulations to the both of you," he said, bowing his head reverently.
"Thanks," Theodore replied, glaring at his former teacher as he tightened his arm around his bride's waist.
"It's a shame your mother couldn't be here to see you. She would have been so proud of you," Blaise continued, ignoring the tension between himself and the couple.
Gemma nodded solemnly. "It was good of you to come, Blaise," she said politely. "I do hope we'll see more of each other in the future."
"I'd like that," he told her, a soft smile gracing his face. He glanced behind him as guests lined up to greet the newlyweds. He placed a swift kiss on her cheek. "See you soon."
Draco and Hermione were the first to reach them after Blaise left. "What was that about?" Draco murmured in her ear as he hugged her, his voice sounding slightly alarmed.
Gemma smiled up at him. "Nothing, Daddy," she assured him. "All is well."