Chapter Eleven:

Ginevra Malfoy could hardly keep a hold on the squirming, squealing, ten-month-old as he spotted his father walking towards them after the graduation. Draco quickly handed his diploma to his mother as if he hadn't spent the past year killing himself to earn it and reached for the boy with a wide, unrestrained smile.

"Hullo there, little man," he said as she handed the laughing bundle over. "Are you proud of Papa, Doron?"

"Fourth in his year?" Ginny asked with a grin, her expression softening as she watched her two blondes. "How could he not be?"

The witch's pronoun use didn't fool him, and the newly graduated Slytherin's grin softened in kind, grey meeting brown for several, meaningful seconds before moving to ice blue. Narcissa smiled back and leaned forward to hug him, though she was careful not to smash his son between them.

"Congratulations, dear, you more than earned it."

"Thanks, mum. I couldn't have done it without your help with Doron."

The regal witch waved her hand in a magnanimous brush off, even as she wiped discreetly at her eyes in response to his genuine thanks. "Nonsense, he's my grandson. Besides, he was ever so much better company than you were at his age."

The young parents laughed, Ginny shaking her head as she did so. "Yeah, he's saving it all up for when he gets older."

The comment prompted another laugh, one in which the elder witch joined in. The small family was still laughing when a throat was cleared politely behind them. "Mrs. Malfoy?"

It was oddly comforting to the three how quickly the redhead turned at the question, as though that had been her name for her entire life, instead of just the last year.

"Yes?" Ginny asked as she spotted the Headmaster.

"I was wondering if perhaps I could steal you away for a few minutes?"

Brown flicked to grey, then blue, receiving two curious but accommodating nods. Before she had a chance to step towards him, however, the professor made another request that earned similar results. "Would it be too much to ask for the youngest Malfoy's company while we speak?"

Ginny grinned at the eager twinkle behind the half-moon glasses and took her son back from his father and followed the white-haired wizard from the Hall after promising to return momentarily. That speedy of a return became somewhat questionable, however, when Dumbledore led them into a small room off the main corridor, and she spotted the four people standing in it, apparently waiting for her somewhat nervously.

"Hey there, Gin-girl."

Her eyes widened at the sight. She was so focused on it, in fact, that she didn't notice the Headmaster slip back out of the room with a nod at the four men. "Bill?" the former Weasley asked in shock. "Charlie? Fred? George?"

Each of her brothers smiled tentatively as she spoke their names, hope and apology in their eyes. "Sorry I haven't come to visit sooner, but we got some new dragons at the beginning of the year that couldn't be left alone until recently."

Bill nodded as if in agreement with his brother. "And the goblins have really been pushing us lately. I was in Spain for most of the year, and just got back to England last week."

"And we didn't even know-" Fred insisted before being cut off by his twin.

"That you'd accepted their peace offering."

Fred picked it back up with a grin. "Else we'd have sent the little one some toy wands from the shop."

Ginny got a sudden vision of Narcissa accidentally picking up one of the twins' novelty wands the way her-

She cut herself off, not wanting to think about who had once gotten so mad about the toys lying around the house. This was the first time she'd seen any of her brothers since two summers before, the first time she'd received definite proof that they hadn't been lying when they'd said they wanted to be a part of her life, and she didn't want to ruin it.

"I think he might like some toy wands."

The acceptance of their white flag caused matching grins to split the twins' faces and she couldn’t prevent her own mouth from turning up at the corners. The baby seemed anxious to share in the joke as he started bouncing in his mother's arms, effectively drawing everyone's attention.

"He's adorable Gin; even if he doesn't have red hair." The witch smiled at the well-deserved praise.

"Would you like to hold him?"

The man nodded his head so quickly his ear-ring bounced in the light and she carefully handed him her son, instructing him how to hold the baby, though she knew he'd babysat herself and several of her other brothers over the years. He listened intently anyway and gently positioned the boy in his arms.

"What's his name?" George asked as he watched the baby grab hold of Bill's finger.

"Doron Alexandros Malfoy."

"Your gift, eh?" She met her eldest brother's eyes, then let brown drift to her son's smiling face.

"We thought it fitting." It was quiet for a moment at the indirect reminder of the boy's father. Then Fred spoke up, preventing the conversation from dying or turning less than pleasant.

"How old is he now? Nine months?"

"He'll be ten months on Monday. He was fifteen days early."

"So his birthday's August eighth, right?" Charlie asked as he remembered the expected date on the birthing announcement. Ginny nodded and watched with a smile as he took the little boy from Bill. "He doesn't feel like he suffered any from his eagerness."

"No, he's always had a very healthy appetite," she said with a laugh, starting an enthusiastic conversation with the wizards about everything from Doron's favorite food, to his favorite toy, to how much of a mess he made when she and Doc gave him a bath.

The siblings were laughing and playing with the very accommodating baby when the door opened over twenty minutes later. "Ginny, are you all right?"

Five pairs of eyes swung to the entrance and widened as they caught sight of the blond head peaking into the room. The first four grew round from surprise and a little apprehension, but the fifth did so from another emotion entirely.

"Draco," she exclaimed before standing and hurrying over to reach for his hand and pull him into the room. "Come meet my brothers. This is Bill, Charlie, and you remember Fred and George." She pointed to each as she said their names, the redheads nodding warily at their little sister's husband, all remembering the way Ron had always described the Slytherin who'd gotten Ginny pregnant the year before.

For his part, the blond spared them a quick nod before glancing from his son - apparently happily ensconced in the arms of one or the other of the twins - to his wife. "Is everything all right? You've been gone nearly half an hour," he lowered his voice, grey locked with brown, "we were starting to worry."

All five redheads looked shocked at the knowledge that they had been speaking for so long, the wizards looking a little panicked at the revelation. "Thirty minutes?" Charlie asked.

Bill turned to his little sister with an apology on his face. "Gin, we-"

The witch waved off his words before he had a chance to speak them, though her disappointment showed on her features. "It's all right, I understand perfectly well what she's like. Go on back before you're in any more trouble than you are already."

The brothers all exchanged looks as they heard the excitement fade from her voice, and saw they way Draco wrapped an arm around her waist in response. Then they began to file from the room, George going to hand Doron back to his mother on the way when the boy nearly lunged out of his arms to get to his father. The elder blond laughed, a full, genuine chuckle at the baby's antics, and released his wife long enough to take him from the redheaded prankster.

"Come 'ere you."

Doron blew bubbles from his mouth in answer, drawing a laugh from both of his parents, and the blond settled him on his hip and wrapped his free arm back around Ginny. The three presented the picture of a happy young family, making her brothers rethink a few of their assumptions about the young wizard their sister had been forced to marry.

Ginny watched them leave with a bittersweet smile, starting to wonder how long it would be before she saw them again. Draco pulled her thoughts from that melancholy tract with a few teasing words.

"See, I told you he liked me best."

She rolled her eyes and leaned back just far enough to smack him lightly on the chest. "Oh hush, he just hasn't see you much today, is all."

"No, I don't suppose he has, especially since you've kept him from me for the last half hour." His teasing smirk took out the sting that might have otherwise been in his words, then turned serious. "Dumbledore was a ruse, I take it?"

The soon-to-be seventh-year nodded. "Yeah, they didn't want to risk approaching me themselves in case someone saw them and told... her."

Her hesitation, and the deliberate way she hadn't said either 'my mother' or 'Molly' wasn't lost on him, and the graduate stepped back and turned to face her, his free hand raising to cup her cheek in the most intimate of gestures they had shared since before he'd learned he was going to be a father. "You never did answer my question. Are you all right?"

She let out a long breath. "Yeah, I think so. I mean, seeing them was great, I want them to be involved in my and Doron's lives, I want him to know as many of his uncles as he can, I just..." She let her head drop forward as she trailed off.

"If you want to see them, we can always invite them to the Manor for tea or something. Mother would relish the chance to entertain."

She raised her head and smiled softly at him, knowing his opinion of her family, and how much he really didn't want them in his home - in their home - and the concession he was making in offering to invite them. "No. If they want to see us, they can ask to come over, but I'm not going to kill myself trying to make it happen. As much as I'd love to have them around, it's not my fault they weren't to begin with, and they're going to have to be the ones to make the effort to fix that."

Gray eyes remained locked on hers for several moments at her words, the proof of her determination and strength evident, even as her still healing wounds shown on her face. The conviction in her voice stirred him as her stubborn refusal to cower from his insults once had, and he found himself leaning forward, pulling her face to his with the hand on her cheek, and pressing his lips to hers.

The kiss lasted barely a minute and possessed none of the desperate passion their first, and last, encounter had, so many months before. But it left both breathing heavily as they pulled apart. An almost awkward silence hung between them, neither sure what to do. Then a light giggle broke the tension and they smiled first at their son, then at one another. They left the room a moment later, their hands clasped tightly between them as the young couple made their way back to the Great Hall, memories and possibilities spinning thickly in their heads.

End Chapter Eleven
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