Draco had no idea that one person could be so tired.
He’d been traipsing all over Muggle London with Ginny. She was looking for something -- he still wasn’t sure what exactly -- but it necessitated his presence, mostly to carry the chequebook and mind the little monsters.
After a harrowing three hours in Harrod’s at Knightsbridge and a major dent in his vault, Ginny had announced it was time to head home, right after they’d had some dinner. Liam was near the point of collapse; Draco knew this well because he’d been carrying the boy around for the past two hours. He might look deceptively small, but he was quite heavy. Gareth had been conked out amongst the packages in his pram for hours, clutching Seymour the frog.
Ginny had stared longingly at the fancy restaurants in Harrod’s, but wisely chose a Chinese buffet that was on their way back to Diagon Alley. It was crowded, noisy and full of other families with children.
Draco watched as his oldest child laid waste to a second egg roll. “Liam, son, do you know what is in that egg roll?” He couldn’t wait to see the look on the boy’s face when he informed him that the main ingredient in egg rolls was cabbage.
“I wouldn’t say another word, Draco Malfoy,” Ginny said, not even attempting to veil the threat in her voice, “not if you want to sleep in my bed again.” She turned her attention back to Gareth, making sure he at least got some rice and noodles in his mouth instead of his hair.
When he was sure that his Mum was no longer paying attention, Liam leaned over to his Da, whispering, “What’s in an egg roll?”
Draco leaned in conspiratorially with his son, flaxen head to flaxen head. “I heard that egg rolls are full of chopped up flobberworm guts and that green stuff is grindylow skin.”
The little boy blinked, and then smiled. “Oh good, I thought you were going to tell me it was something gross like cabbage.”
Ginny put her two exhausted children in the bathtub while Draco fetched pyjamas. She had Gareth out and was in the process of drying him off when he returned with the requested items. The poor little boy could barely keep his eyes open as she quickly dressed him in his favorite blue footed pyjamas. Draco observed from the doorway the well rehearsed scene that played out before him.
“Can you stand right there, baby?” she asked Gareth. “Mummy will put you in bed in just a minute.”
He nodded slowly before sleepily rubbing his eyes.
She turned her attention to Liam, making sure that he was dried off and dressed for bed properly and then had brushed his teeth. While he waited, Gareth toddled over to his father, falling asleep leaning against his legs.
Liam giggled at the sight of his little brother. “He’s a silly baby.”
Ginny picked up the snoozing little boy. “Oh, Mummy’s baby is so knackered.” Gareth quickly adjusted to being held, nuzzling her neck in his sleep. “Liam, Da is going to put you to bed.”
Draco picked up his eldest child. “Give your Mum a kiss.”
Liam leaned toward his Mum from the safety of his Da’s arms to give her a sloppy kiss.
“I love you, sweetheart,” she said softly.
“I love you, Mummy.” He reached over, patting Gareth’s soft red curls lightly. Draco took a step closer so he could easily reach his little brother. “I love you, Gareth,” he whispered before giving the baby a kiss on the cheek.
Tears glistened in Ginny’s eyes. “He loves you, too.”
Liam gave her a huge smile. “I know!” he said as Draco followed suit, giving his youngest son a quick kiss atop his head.
“Good night, sweetheart, I’ll see you in morning,” she said softly.
“G’night, Mummy,” he gushed before giving her one more sloppy kiss.
Ginny took her sleeping baby to the nursery to put him down for the night. Gareth was completely knackered so maybe, just maybe, he’d sleep through the night. Unlike his big brother, Gareth was a light sleeper and rarely slept through the night. That really put a damper on the extracurricular activities she used to enjoy immensely. It would have been the perfect night to spend some quality time with Draco if she wasn’t so exhausted herself.
She pressed a gentle kiss to the baby’s forehead before laying him in the cot, pulling a soft yellow blanket up over him. “I love you, pumpkin,” she whispered.
Little blue eyes fluttered opened. “Sey, Sey?” he asked.
The frog! How in the world could she have forgotten Seymour the frog?
He couldn’t sleep without the stuffed animal his Aunt Pansy had given him the day he was born. He loved that little frog just as much as Liam loved his duck, Gustav. It would be the end of Gareth’s little world if something ever happened to Seymour.
“Oh baby, I’m sorry, he must still be in the pram! I’ll be right back,” she assured him before making a quick dash downstairs.
There was one major problem – no Seymour, at least not in the pram.
She checked their jackets in the foyer closet. No soft green stuffed animal there.
The frog wasn’t mixed up in all the packages because she’d put all of that way when they got home.
Liam! Maybe he would know. He had been known to hide Seymour from his little brother from time to time.
Ginny was out of breath by the time she made it up the stairs to her eldest child’s bedroom. Normally, the sight of Draco reading to their son who was curled in his lap would make her heart swell, but not so that night.
“Seymour is missing,” she stated without preamble.
Draco’s eyes immediately settled on the cat lounging on the foot of the bed. “He’s not in the pram?”
“No, I checked.”
“With the packages?”
“No, put all of that way.”
“No,” she shook her head, desperation creeping into her voice, “I looked.”
“No, she’s been outside all evening. I just let her in.”
Draco looked down at the last resort. “Liam, have you seen Seymour?”
“No,” he said, shaking his little blond head, “not since he fell out of the pram.”
“He fell out of the pram?” Ginny asked incredulously.
Liam nodded his head. “Uh huh.”
“Where?” Draco picked his son up, turning him so they would be eye to eye. “Do you remember where?”
He nodded his head again. “Muggle London.”
“Where in Muggle London,” the elder Malfoy asked slowly, trying not to let his anger get the best of him. “Do you remember where?”
Liam sniffled. “I don’t remember.”
“Why didn’t you tell me Seymour fell out of the pram?”
“You told me not to open my mouth.”
It was true - Draco had warned Liam not to open his mouth again after he had proudly informed a salesclerk that his Da was the world’s greatest wizard. The little boy was only doing what he was told to do (for once).
“From now on, you are to tell me when something like this happens, do you understand?” Draco asked a little sternly.
The little blond head bobbed up and down, tears glistening on his cheeks. “I’m sorry.”
He drew his son into his arms, rubbing his back soothingly. “It’s all right, you were only doing what you were told.”
“I’ll go see about Gareth,” Ginny sighed, “he’s not going to be very happy.”
“I’ll tuck the monster in and be right there,” Draco said.
Gareth was standing in his cot holding on to the railing, looking expectantly, when Ginny entered the nursery. “Sey Sey?” he asked hopefully.
She gathered him in her arms, pressing a kiss to the top of his head. “No baby, I’m sorry, I couldn’t find him.”
“Sey Sey,” he whimpered before letting loose a long wail.
“I’m so sorry, baby, so sorry.” She rocked him, trying to sooth his anguish.
Draco winced as he entered the nursery. “Are we going to have wait for him to cry himself out?” He pulled his wand from his pocket, ready to cast a silencing charm at Ginny’s command.
His wife shook her head, giving him a very dirty look in the process. “No, you’re going to go find Seymour.”
“Gin, it’s late, I have no idea where the thing is and I’m tired.”
Gareth wrapped his chubby arms around his Mum’s neck, burying his face against her shoulder as his howling turned into sobbing hiccups.
“Draco, please, I have no idea how long he’ll cry.”
“Mummy,” Liam said loudly as he wandered in the nursery toward his father, a little bit of yellow peeking out from under one arm. He attached himself to his Da’s legs. “I can’t sleep.”
“I know, sweetheart. Gareth is upset because Seymour is missing,” Ginny explained.
He looked at Gustav, kissed him, and then held him out toward his mum. “Gareth can sleep with him tonight.”
She sank to her knees so the boys were near the same level. Liam attempted to give his most prized possession to his little brother. Gareth hiccupped noisily as he eyed the proffered Gustav, before tentatively taking the stuffed animal.
“Wasn’t that nice of Liam to give you Gustav,” Ginny asked the baby in her arms.
Gareth turned the little duck over in his hands, glancing at his brother then back at the duck.
Draco squatted next to Liam. “That was a very nice thing to do, son, I’m very proud of you.”
The red haired baby threw the duck down with a resounding, “NO! Sey Sey!” He buried his face against his Mum’s chest as the wailing began again in earnest.
“Mummy, make him stop please,” her oldest one pleaded, plucking Gustav from the floor into the safety of his arms.
“Draco, please, you have to go find Seymour,” Ginny begged.
Draco stalked downstairs, his ears still ringing from Gareth’s piercing wails. He muttered and cursed under his breath about stupid stuffed animals as Addison handed him his black leather jacket. All he wanted was to stretch out on the sofa in front of the fireplace for a little while, maybe even invite Ginny to join him for a little alone time.
But, oh no! He was being sent to Muggle London on a wild frog chase.
He swore right then and there that if he ever found Seymour that stupid little stuffed animal was never leaving the house again. He didn’t care how much Gareth cried.
“I made a list of the shops where Mrs. Malfoy made purchases,” the butler said helpfully, handing him the list.
He took one look at the lengthy bit of parchment and groaned. “Did we go to that many shops today?”
“Afraid so, sir, and those are just the ones where the Missus made a purchase.”
Draco uttered a few things that made the seasoned butler blush before Apparating. He ended up in an alleyway not far from where his wife’s shopping expedition began that morning.
No one had found a little green stuffed frog in any of the shops on the list that he’d tried so far, but he did find a pale peach colored silk nightgown that he thought would look stunning on Ginny. The clerk who rang up his purchase informed him that she hadn’t found a stuffed animal, but she remembered his adorable children.
He was getting nowhere. That wasn’t entirely true; he could have gotten several dates if he had wanted them as many of the clerks flirted with him without the wife and two children in tow. All he wanted was to find the stupid frog and go home.
“Where in the bloody hell is that damn frog,” he cursed under his breath before entering yet another shop, this one selling children’s books. He didn’t even remember being there, but it was on the list. “Excuse me,” he said to the clerk’s back as she leant over the counter busy with paperwork, “I was wondering if you happened to have found a stuffed frog with large feet this afternoon?”
The older woman turned to face Draco, eyeing him carefully over the top of her tortoise shell half rimmed glasses. “No,” she said with a chuckle as she recognized him, “but if you’re such a great wizard as your little boy says, you could just conjure a new one couldn’t you? Quite the imagination that little one has got.”
Harrod’s! That had to be where Gareth and Seymour had parted company. Draco remembered now. He took Liam outside immediately, warning him not to open his mouth again, and then they went straight to Harrod’s. He pulled his pocket watch out to check the time … the store closed in twenty minutes. If he hurried, he’d just make it. “Yes, yes, quite the imagination. Thank you, but I think I know where the frog is.”
He took off on a dead run, weaving in and out of the teeming throng of pedestrians on the sidewalks, making it to the main entrance off Brompton Road with ten minutes to spare.
“Sir! Sir!” the impeccably dressed security guard yelled as he caught Draco’s arm, stopping him just inside the entrance. “I’m sorry, but we’re closing.”
“But, I’ve got to find --,” he started.
“Sir, I do not care, the store is closing in seven minutes,” the guard cut him off stiffly.
“No, you don’t understand,” Draco stated in his most commanding voice. “My little boy is at home crying because he lost his favourite stuffed animal in this store this afternoon. I will not leave here until I retrieve it.”
“Sir, I understand that, but we are closing.”
“Fine, I want to see your superior.”
“We are about to close for the evening, sir,” the guard said firmly, standing his ground.
“I spend more money in this store than you earn in a year,” Draco informed him haughtily, his voice never rising above conversational tone, but the implied threat was plainly obvious. “I do not think your superiors would be pleased to learn that you have barred one of their best customers from the store just because it’s about to close.”
The other man looked a little overwhelmed at the threat of complaint.
“I suggest you run along and get your superior, now.” Draco could feel the anger slowly seeping through his veins at the continued impertinence of the guard. Obvious, the little git didn’t know who he was dealing with.
As soon as the other man turned his back to radio for his superior, Draco had his wand out whispering a soft “accio Seymour.” He knew he was going to be fined by the Ministry for the infraction, in Muggle London no less, but at this point he didn’t care. He was so close to his goal.
Within a matter of seconds, the little stuffed frog zoomed into his awaiting hand and was quickly tucked safely away in his pocket.
The guard turned back around. “My superior will be here momentarily.”
Draco just sneered at him.
An imposing older woman wearing a black suit appeared from around the corner. “Is there something I can help you with?” She stopped short of Draco, taking in his appearance. A warm smile broke out on her face. “Mr. Malfoy! Alfred, you may make your other rounds, I will see to this personally.”
The guard nodded, eyeing Draco cautiously before leaving to finish closing procedures.
“Draco, my good man, how the hell have you been?” Frances Macomber, an old childhood chum of his mother’s, witch extraordinaire and head of customer relations for Harrod’s exclaimed as she slapped him on the back.
They spent a few minutes catching up. Draco told her about his family, breaking out his pictures of his sons to show off. She knew who Ginny was without having to be told, assuring him that he made the right decision and his Mum would have been proud of him. He explained what happened, much to her amusement. She promised to plead his case at the Ministry for a lesser fine, she knew someone that would help. They parted with hugs and promises to get together soon.
Draco was definitely in a much better mood than he was when he left the house.
The first thing he noticed when he appeared in the foyer was the utter silence of the house. No howling Gareth, no scurrying of house elves, no Liam yelling at the top of his lungs, no nothing. He didn’t think he’d ever find the house this quiet after having two children.
“Did you have some success, sir?” Addison asked from behind him, breaking the silence and causing Draco to flinch.
“Good Merlin, man, you nearly gave me a heart attack!” he panted.
The butler’s lips twitched as if he wanted to smile. “Sorry, sir. Did you have success?”
“Yes, that damn frog was the last place I looked.” He slipped off his jacket, pulling Seymour from the pocket before handing it over to be hung up. “Where are Ginny and the boys?”
Addison nodded. “Very good, sir. The Missus and the little masters are in your chambers.”
Draco bound up the stairs; he couldn’t wait to be the hero of the day, saving Seymour as he had. They could put their children in their own beds then Ginny could try on the present he purchased for her. Yes, it was all coming together better than he could have ever planned.
The sight that greeted him upon entering his chambers was not one he was prepared for. Although he really wasn’t sure what he was expected – total devastation, maybe? He didn’t know.
Ginny was asleep on her side of the huge bed with Gareth in her arms. His little hands were fisted in her flannel nightgown and his face was nestled against her chest. He had dark circles under his eyes from crying earlier, but seemed to be resting peacefully. Liam was sprawled on his side of the bed, taking up as much space as his little body possibly could while Gustav rested on his pillow. Hecate was curled up amongst the rumbled blankets next to him.
Draco gave up any idea he might have entertained of spending some quality time with his wife, seeing that his youngest child had a death grip on her. After Seymour was carefully tucked under Gareth’s arm, he kissed his wife’s temple and rubbed the little boy’s soft red curls. “I love you, Gin and baby monster.”
He quietly dressed for bed in just a pair of dark gray flannel pyjama bottoms before attempting to move Liam back to his own bed.
“No,” the little boy protested sleepily as he squirmed away from his father.
“C’mon, you want to sleep in your own bed, don’t you?” he whispered, picking his son up despite his protests.
Liam wrapped his arms around his father’s neck. “No, I want to sleep with you tonight.” He nuzzled his face against Draco’s cheek. “Please.”
“Oh, all right,” he sighed, giving up. There was no way he could resist such a sweet request from one half of his pride and joy. Merlin, he was getting soft in his old age.
They crawled in bed together, his son admonishing him to be quiet or else he’d wake Gareth or worse yet, Mum.
Liam gave him a big sloppy kiss. “I love you, Da!” he whispered earnestly.
“I love you, too, little monster.” Draco settled him down in his arms in front of him as he lay on his side, brushing a little kiss against his baby fine blond hair. The little boy was sound asleep before the last words fell from his lips.
He drifted off to sleep, wondering how he’d ever gotten so lucky to have such a wonderful family, even though the stuffed animals that came with them were a pain in his arse.
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