Chapter Eight:

In the just over two months that she had resided at Malfoy Manor, she had more than enjoyed the style and sumptuousness of her suite, but in the last month and a half she had truly come to appreciate everything that had gone into its creation as she and Narcissa attempted to do the same with the large room that would be their new nursery.

It had been Narcissa's idea for Ginny to help her design, put together, and decorate the space in which she would soon be spending much of her time. It was an idea the redhead had learned to be thankful for, and resentful to, in nearly equal measure. For all that she enjoyed the process, and felt a sense of pride and accomplishment at preparing for her baby, she found herself battling said child for the time and energy to do so.

As the weeks progressed she grew larger and larger with the tiny but heavy life within her, and between the mounting exhaustion, swelling feet and ankles, aching back, and increasing mood swings even Draco's Calming Potion couldn't always regulate, she was having trouble juggling the demands of the nursery and her own protruding stomach.

Her mother-in-law would have taken over for her if she'd asked, of course, but she wanted to be involved. Besides, the hours they spent discussing wallpaper and curtains, stuffed animals and animated murals, changing tables and baby blankets, were not only distracting, but pleasurable. During the preparations they had made for the wedding, she'd gotten to know the older witch, and found herself liking what she saw. She'd heard the woman described a few times before this had all started, remembered the terms 'trophy wife' and 'cold' but she couldn't manage to equate them with the woman that argued good-naturedly with her over exactly which flowers went the best with her wedding robes.

That difficulty had only increased as they began the nursery and became buried in teddy bears and toy brooms. More than just the intricacies of interior design and decoration, or even wedding guests and reception menus, they had spent countless hours discussing their lives and above all else, their pregnancies. When she'd been little, and thought about having kids of her own, she'd always pictured herself sitting at the kitchen table with her mother, pouring over baby albums and sorting through her old baby clothes to find mend-ables for her baby.

While things didn't quite measure up to her dreams of a long romance and happy ever after, it was nice that some small bits resembled her original plans. Granted, Narcissa wasn't her mother, but she was kind and supportive and understanding in a genuine, if less enthusiastic, way that was comforting. She wasn't sure if her hormone-driven emotions could have handled the inherent hysteria of Molly Weasley. But Merlin, she wanted it anyway.

Taking a deep breath, swallowing past the familiar wave of depression that had been sweeping over her at unpredictable moments for a month now, she centered her thoughts, remembered her resolution, standing beneath those trunks her first night in the Manor, and reiterated it. That was her past, this was her future, and she would not allow the former to ruin the latter, no matter how differently her hormones felt about it.

Managing to keep control of herself - no little thanks to the efforts of her potion-brewing husband, who had been working on adjusting his Calming Potion - Ginny focused back on the blonde witch who had apparently been talking to her.

"-at your last check-up?"

"Yes, everything went fine." Ginny asserted, scrambling to remember what she had been asked. "The midwitch says we both look to be in perfect health; though I dare say Draco looked anything but when she started the visual wand-scan."

Narcissa glanced over her shoulder from where she stood, adjusting the height of the new blue and white shelves they'd installed the day before. "Quite understandable. I remember the look on Lucius' face when the midwitch asked him if he wanted to stay and watch that exam. I can think of few occasions where he excused himself with so little dignity, and so much haste."

The witches exchanged wry smiles at that. From all that the blonde had told her of Draco's father and the husbands of her friends, Ginny knew she was lucky that hers was so willing to remain involved in all the various stages of her pregnancy. It really shouldn't have surprised her so much as it did; he'd been with her from the first, after all. From the moment he'd learnt he was to be a father, he had been unshakable in his determination to be a part of not only the baby's life, but hers as well.

That particular distinction brought her a strange sort of comfort, though she hadn't yet allowed herself to look any closer as to why. Instead, she turned her attention to something he had politely but definitively declined to help with. The room was roughly the size of her bedroom and sitting room combined, and had a closet and bathroom attached as hers did. They were so similar because, as Narcissa had explained at the onset of the project, they had started out as matching guest suites.

The one Ginny now lived in had been enlarged in certain areas, and the walls between the rooms in this suite had been taken out wherever structurally possible, leaving it basically one open room with several support beams here and there. The supports had been transformed into the sides of shelves, the posts holding a netted hammock that contained a collection of stuffed toys, and had even had posts and hooks added in one case, on which were now hung toys and a miniature robe and cloak set.

They had decided on a scheme of blue - in all different shades - white, and cream. The décor lent towards a seascape with sea gulls soaring amongst white clouds on the ceiling, dolphins diving in crashing waves on the walls, and fish swimming around kelp and coral reefs on the plush carpets. Spells that had taken them both the better part of two weeks to find and cast could be used to animate the different decorations and even add appropriate sound effects.

The theme was carried through the bathroom and closet. All in all, she was very pleased with the result of their efforts, finding it cute but calming, something she was sure she would be thankful for once she was forced to spend the majority of her time in the room. Another thing she would be thankful for was the room's location. Situated as it was between her suite and Draco's, it would enable them both convenient and quick access. Like the baby it would soon hold, the room tied her to her husband in a concrete way that she had managed to partly ignore up until that point.

Sure, the life growing inside her was as much a part of him as it was her, and the baby unarguably connected them, but to have it symbolized so obviously had taken a bit of getting used to. And so had living in the Manor. Before she had a chance to go over all the trials and tribulations she and Draco had gone through in the last two months, Doc appeared at the door carrying a large box wrapped cheerily in paper depicting the English World Cup Team as if drawn by a child.

"Another baby gift, Doc?" Narcissa asked after turning from the shelves. The house elf nodded, or at least it seemed to, but with the box covering its head, it was hard to tell. "Very well, you may give it to Mistress Ginny."

The box bobbed as if the creature had bowed in response to the order, and wobbled over to where the redhead - who still felt strange every time she was reminded of the title the elves used for her - sat on the plush rocking chair beneath the window. She took the package with slight confusion, looking it over carefully after taking it from Doc, who snapped out of the room, leaving her glancing between the box and her mother-in-law. Narcissa's carefully poised features did not hide her own curiosity.

She and Draco had received several baby gifts in the aftermath of the birthing announcements that had been selected and sent out the month before. They had, in fact, received a gift from everyone they'd expected. The entirety of their wedding guests, as well as a few of the Malfoy family's society friends hoping to stay in the family's good graces, had sent presents to the prospective parents. Neither witch could think of anyone else who would be sending them something, however.

Not sure what to expect, Ginny peeled the wrapping from the box. It was a Spell Rocker. Guaranteed to rock your baby for thirty minutes from one swish and flick to the next; comes in three convenient speed settings for baby's enjoyment, proclaimed the box. It was rather plain-looking, but sounded practical enough. She'd seen enough babies at family reunions when she was younger to know that a rocking motion could be a large help in putting a baby to sleep or keeping them asleep. But that still left the question of who sent it. Turning the box over, the redhead spotted a piece of parchment folded and Spellotaped to the side. Figuring that it must hold the answer, she pulled it off, opened it up, and stared at it for several moments.

"Ginny, dear, are you all right?"

She nodded absently at the worried inquiry, all her attention riveted on the sheet of parchment.

Congratulations. Never mind mum and dad, gnomes up the arse, you know. Maybe it's a temporary condition; we'll keep a look out. Sorry we couldn't bring it ourselves, but, well, you understand. We love you, Gin. Give the little one a kiss for us when he or she shows up. ~Your brothers, Bill and Charlie.


Brown eyes finally focused, meeting blue with tears swimming in the chocolate depths. "Yeah." The word came out a little shaky and she swallowed, then tried again. "Yes, I'm quite all right. Just surprised. It," she gestured at the Rocker, "It's from Bill and Charlie. They, they must have gotten the announcements we sent. I'm sure Mum threw the others away, but we sent theirs straight to Gringotts and the dragon reserve. She couldn't throw them out."

But she could keep them from coming to see her. She did understand, after all, understood that her oldest brothers knew the explosion that would ensue if Molly Weasley found out they'd been in contact with their sister. Yet they'd still gotten together, found a gift, and sent it to her anyway. They still wanted to be a part of her life, of her baby's life; even knowing that she was living at Malfoy Manor, they were willing to take the first step, and that knowledge gave her hope. Maybe the rest of her family would come around. Bill had said so, in his elegant scrawl. But before the feeling could take hold, she shoved it down.

Hope was great, but it left you open to pain if what you hoped for didn't happen. She couldn't handle it if she let herself believe she might have her family back only to never get more than a few token peace offerings by owl. So she intentionally placed the parchment atop the box and hauled herself to her swollen feet.

"We should get the bassinet finished so it can be moved into my rooms, you're right about running in here every hour or two. It'll be easier if the baby sleeps with me for a couple weeks."

The blonde simply watched her for a moment, measuring her with ice blue eyes, before nodding ever-so-slightly and waiting for the young witch to waddle over to the bassinet so they could finish the decorating spells they'd planned for it. Ginny only made it half-way before she bent over with a sudden, sharp pain. The redhead cried out, her hands pressing against her stomach.

"Ginny, what is it? Does it hurt?" Narcissa asked as she rushed to her side, reaching out to steady her as she whimpered, the painful sound answering her second question while the sudden wetness at their feet answered her first. "Oh dear, your water's broken." The words were spoken with a forced calm that didn't fool either one of them.

"All right then, let's get you to bed." Her voice gained strength as she began to think logically once more, steering the now groaning Ginny towards her rooms and summoning Doc at the same time.

"Fetch the midwitch and Master Draco immediately, Doc, Mistress Ginny's having the baby."

The creature's eyes widened even more than their natural bulbous state, and he leapt to obey his mistress's command, disappearing before his younger mistress tried to contradict her mother-in-law in a panicked voice. "No, no I'm not, I can't be, it's early, it's too early; the baby's not supposed to come for another two weeks."

Narcissa did her best to soothe the girl as they reached their destination and the blonde helped her position herself as comfortably as possible on the large mattress once she'd cast a cleaning shield on the sheets so the younger girl wouldn't be lying in her own fluids for the duration of the labour. She had almost succeeded in calming her down when Draco burst through the doorway, eyes wide and hair in disarray, demanding to know if Ginny was alright, and how long she'd been in labour.

It was fortunate the midwitch arrived at that moment and issued a stern command for the father to behave or be Silencio'd. The blond wisely grew quiet, but paced restlessly as the woman started asking Ginny questions and checking her status with swift sweeps of her wand. In Draco's opinion, ages passed, and still nothing actually happened. Ginny moaned and whimpered and cried out every few minutes as the pain spiked, but it seemed to lead nowhere.

He stopped asking what was taking so long after his third question nearly earned him a hex from the panting redhead.

He asked his mother to confiscate the witch's wand before the first hour was out, for fear of his safety.

He tried to defend himself for most of hour two when Ginny started cursing at him.

He stopped talking altogether by the end of hour three.

He was pacing again at the onset of hour four, and sitting unsteadily by the end of it.

He moved to the chair below the window ten minutes later once he realized the full extent of his view in the first seat.

He was at his wife's side half-way through hour five, looking down at his tiny son as Ginny held him in her arms.

His son. He was so small, and both redder and more wrinkled than he'd expected, but he was still perfect.

"What's his name?"

Draco pulled his eyes from the baby to meet his mother's gaze. Wizarding tradition stated the parents did not announce a baby's name until after the birth, and he could see the eager light in the elder witch's eyes as she waited for the answer. It was Ginny who gave it to her, speaking in a tired voice scratchy from screaming.

"Doron Alexandros Malfoy."

He could see it on his mother's face the moment she had pulled up her old lessons in Greek and translated the first name.

"Perfect," she whispered, and Draco had to agree as damp eyes the color of steel fell on the face of his son. It was perfect, because in Greek, Doron meant gift, and whatever circumstances had led to his birth, whatever changes he had forced in his parents' lives, he was a gift. Perhaps not the only one he'd been given, the blond thought as he watched his wife run a finger lightly over their son's cheek.

End Chapter Eight
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