Fifteen Years - Gareth Cookie – A New Addition to the Family
“What is that?” Ginny asked cautiously, eyeing the little mesh animal carrier Gareth was holding. “We haven’t discussed getting another pet.”
Draco and Gareth had had a boys’ day out, at her suggestion, since Liam was at home doing some last-minute packing for his trip to Japan. Gareth knew it was her little ploy to get him and Da together for some bonding.
“Gin, it’s nothing! Liam has an owl, I have an owl, and you have a cat. Gareth doesn’t have his own pet and he wanted one,” her husband reasoned. “Be glad, I said no to the puppy.”
He watched as his Mum absent-mindedly rubbed the ears of the little gray cat lying beside her on the sofa. Hecate, his Mum’s old black cat, had passed away several years ago (with a little help from Da, but she needn’t know that). He and Liam had pooled their money together to get her a new kitten. They’d chosen a little gray kitten with white toes and nose that they named Lilith. She was a gentle, sweet cat that loved everyone, unlike her processor.
“Yes, but critters in little mesh cages frighten me too! I knew I shouldn’t have allowed you two to go out together.” Her eyes never left the little carrier.
“Awwah, Mum,” Gareth said placatingly. “You needn’t be afraid of Avice.”
“Avice,” she asked dubiously.
“Here, let me show you!” He carefully opened the top of the carrier as his father looked on proudly. He reached in, gently grabbed something and cupped it in both hands keeping whatever it was from her line of sight.
“I swear on Bill’s grave that had best be a hamster, Draco Malfoy, or I will kill you.”
“You’ll see, beautiful. I think you’ll approve,” he offered with a smirk.
Gareth stood before his Mum, hands cupped, very proud of his new pet. He slowly revealed what he held – something dark and hairy – there were more legs than there were supposed to be - eight of them to be exact. Her eyes grew as big as saucers as she saw the little fangs, black beady eyes and the dark, hairy, bulbous body.
“It’s a Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula.” He felt he needed to explain further since she had a look of disbelief on her face. “Isn’t she beautiful? They make fabulous pets! The female ones live 20 years or more!”
“Let me guess, Avice is a female,” Ginny said sounding decidedly unhappy.
Gareth nodded enthusiastically. “I will have her for a long, long time to come!”
Liam, who’d been watching with some interest from the seat next to Ginny, jumped up from the sofa to get as far away as possible. “You’re having me on right? You didn’t actually buy him a spider did you?” he asked in a loud voice from the doorway.
Ginny, unfortunately, wasn’t able to move as quickly as her oldest son to get away from the rather large spider her youngest son was holding out for her inspection, her protruding tummy prevented any movement that would have been considered fast. “You have to take it back.”
Gareth looked crestfallen. Da had assured him that Mum would agree to him having Avice.
“Gin, it’s what he wanted,” Draco stated firmly. He stood behind his youngest son with his hands on his shoulders. “Avice will be in a cage at all times, I promise. Besides, didn’t you say having a pet was a good learning experience for the boys?”
“Well, yes,” she stuttered. “But I was thinking something more cuddly - like a cat.”
Gareth gently rubbed his cheek against Avice before letting her freely crawl up his arm. “See, Mum, she’s cuddly.”
“Gareth! Don’t do that!” She struggled to get up off the sofa. “Put that thing back in the cage.”
He watched in amusement as Da helped Mum up off the sofa only for her to punch him hard. “What was that for?” he asked as he rubbed his arm.
“You know damn well what that was for – bringing that, that, that…thing in my house!” she seethed. She drew in a sharp breath as she winced and began to rub low down on her rounded tummy.
“Are you okay, Mum?” Gareth asked in a rather concerned voice as he quickly put Avice back into his carrier. He watched as Da took her in his arms, holding her close and speaking softly to her.
After a few minutes, she opened her arms to him. “I’m alright, sweetheart. The baby didn’t like me getting so upset or trying to move so quickly.”
He could feel the baby moving as he hugged his Mum. It’d been a long time since he’d been able to get his arms completely around her. He rubbed his cheek against the swell of her belly and was rewarded with a firm kick. He thought it was really neat to be able to feel the baby moving, but it also weirded out him out a bit too. He was looking forward to being able to hold his little brother or sister in a few weeks, but he didn’t want to think about that at the moment, he was too busy relishing the joy of both of his parents.
“Come join us, Liam,” Ginny beckoned, offering an open arm to him.
“Nah, I’ll pass. That thing is in its cage right?” he asked, from the safety of the doorway.
“Yes,” a very amused Draco said. “Who would’ve thought you’d be afraid of spiders!”
“Not afraid,” Liam said huffily. “Just…cautious. Did you see that size of that thing?”
Gareth hid his grin in the folds of his mother’s robes. Yes, who would have ever thought his older brother would be afraid of anything, especially a little spider. It was going to be way too much fun once they returned to Hogwarts - there would be no Mum and Da to stop him either.
Da walked him up to his room after settling Mum on the lounge by the sunny windows to nap away the afternoon. She’d reluctantly agreed to allow him to keep the spider on the condition that it would die if she saw it out of the cage unsupervised. Da had backed her into a corner – it was either the spider or the mastiff puppy. The fact that Avice would make the trek to Hogwarts instead of staying home like a puppy was the major selling point. Her extreme dislike of dogs overrode her fear of spiders.
“Thanks, Da,” Gareth said quietly as he watched his father charm Avice’s new home back to normal size.
“For what?” Draco asked.
“Everything! Avice, Mum, Liam.”
He smiled at his soon to be middle child. “You’re welcome, Gareth. But you do have to promise me one thing.”
“Anything, Da!” He looked adoringly up at his father.
“You have to promise me that you will use Avice to torture Liam every chance you get.”
Gareth quickly dropped his head to hide his smirk. He hated the fact that his father could read his mind just by the look on his face. Unlike his older brother, he was very bad at masking his emotions. It made him feel like he was just a Weasley with Malfoy for a last name, and thus, a disappointment to his father in some way. “I’d never do anything like that, sir.”
“Yes you would,” Draco said proudly as he ruffled his son’s unruly red hair. “You’re a Malfoy. That’s what we do. It’s a time-honored tradition.”
“Really, I didn’t have any brothers or sisters, so I tortured your Uncle Ron. I also tormented your Mum when we were in school.”
“You tormented Mum?” Gareth asked, eyes wide with disbelief. Mum had a temper like nobody’s business. He and his brother learned early on not to tempt fate with her.
“Oh yes, I ended up on the receiving end of some very nasty hexes. She’s quick with that wand let me tell you.”
“Wow. And Mum married you anyway?”
“Well, the thing is we did it because we liked each other, but didn’t know how to show it.”
“But if you liked each other…”
“It was complicated,” Da cut him off, “but you’ll understand when you’re older and interested in girls.”
He shook his head. Girls were either icky know-it-alls or giggly like the ones that followed Liam around. “Well, at least you don’t torture Uncle Ron anymore.” His Mum’s closest brother had held a very special place in Gareth’s heart ever since he was a little boy. He knew he could always go to Uncle Ron when the pressure of being a Malfoy got to be too much for him.
Draco chuckled. “Yeah well, there was no way I could possibly top marrying his baby sister.”
He thought his father might say something else, but he didn’t. “You love Mum right? You didn’t marry her just to get back at Uncle Ron?”
“I love your Mum more than anything in this world,” Draco answered swiftly and honestly.
Gareth nodded, accepting his father’s word as gospel. That was one thing he knew about his father, he might be many things -- and not all them always very nice -- but he was brutally honest when it came to his feelings for his wife and family.
“Enough of this serious talk,” Draco said as he watched Gareth carefully place Avice in her new, and rather posh, home and close the lid tight. “Why don’t I teach you some finer points on sibling torture.”
“And how are we supposed to do that? Mum said…”
“You let me worry about your Mum.”
Draco picked up a small ball of black twine from Gareth’s desk. He uttered a quick incantation and the ball transfigured into a quite convincing likeness of Avice. “So, do you think Liam is in his room?”
“Probably,” Gareth answered as a wicked smirk crept across his features. So this, he pondered, is what it feels like to be his father’s son.
He decided right then that he did like being a Malfoy after all.
Once more, I don't own Draco or Ginny - JRK does, however, I'm completely responsible for Liam and Gareth.
Avice, if you're wondering, is the name of the object of affection in Thomas Hardy's The Well Beloved. Yes, I am that nerdy.
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