Thanks as always to my betas: thesteppyone and Maggie, for encouragement and general ass-getting-on.

DISCLAIMER: I own none of these characters. All belongs to the great JK Rowling.

This story is for Katie, to show that there are good Slytherins in the world and to thank her for sharing her fascination with Draco Malfoy.

NOTE: Thank you all so much for reading this epic story! If you've enjoyed these characters I've crafted and want to read more about them and the world in which Scorpius grew up, you should know that this was a prequel of sorts to my story Fighting Briars. Both this Draco and this Astoria make appearances in that tale, as does the Bonding tradition.

And now, for the final part. Thank you all for coming along for this ride.

And the World Turns 'Round

Part the Seventh

The day that Draco turned 21, we were married. My parents did not attend. My sister did, though, and she and her husband served as our witnesses. The only other person in attendance was Draco's mother. She looked at me with something distinctly like pride and gratitude that day, and I couldn't bring myself to mind that my mother was not there.

Five years later, on the first day of spring, when Draco was nearly 26 and I was all of 23, our son was born.

He was delivered at home, and Draco was by my side for the entire labor and birth. But when little Scorpius let out his first cry and was laid into my arms, Draco disappeared into the shadows. I was too caught up in the beautiful perfection of my baby boy to notice at first, but then I reached for my husband's hand to find that he was no longer there. I tore my eyes away from Scorpius's face and searched for Draco.

He was half hidden by shadows, but the terror on his face was plain as day, and it nearly broke my heart. Not the fact that the birth of his son instilled that terror, but because even after eight years, he was still deeply afraid of the love he held for others. For that was his darkness. He would always, I knew, fear the love he had to give because he knew firsthand the capacity that his love had to cause pain and hardship. As he stood in the shadows and looked from afar at his son, I knew he was playing out the life his child would lead and the hardships his child would face simply because he bore the name of Malfoy.

"Draco," I called gently, and held my hand out to him. He met my gaze, and a silent understanding passed between us. Together, was what I said without speaking, and it was enough. "Come," I said aloud. "Come meet your son."

When I placed my son into the arms of his father and saw that deep-rooted, instantaneously love light up his face, I knew every hardship had been worth it. And when he tore his eyes away from Scorpius to find mine, I knew my husband knew it, too. And whatever hardships were yet to come, we would face and overcome them together.

Someday, I will tell these stories to my son, so that he might understand who his father is and where he came from and what it truly means to be a Malfoy in this new world, to fight with every inch of your being for the right to be happy. To pursue what you want, no matter what stands in your way. To force the world to see your character, not just your name. To fight against life's briars with perseverance and determination because nothing that is worth having in the world can be gotten without a few small scrapes along the way. And as the world turns 'round, it will heal those scrapes until the pain of them has passed into mere memory and all that remains are the rewards that the battles brought. Draco Malfoy taught me these things, and I truly believe, with all my heart, that the world is better because we chose to live a harder life, and I will do whatever it takes to pass that message on.


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