This story was based off this funny scene in this amazing kdrama I watched, What's Wrong with Secretary Kim, which was sooooo good. Highly recommend. The scene was a cautious main character getting pulled into a zealous shopping trip with her future mother-in-law. The scene was so cute, I love writing fem-Harry, and figured why out? Hope you enjoy.
Gift That Keeps on Giving
Aria was sure there was something very weird about this picture, in this dream. The tree was green and lovely, filled to the brim with so much tinsel, different-colored lights, and ornaments, there wasn't a speck of space that didn't sparkle or shine. Sweet lyrical Christmas music was playing by the side of the tree with Clara beaming as the Nutcracker lifted her over his head. The scent of sugar plums and gingerbread perfumed the air so heavily, her stomach rumbled.
Only damper in it was the stench of smoke. Really strong smoke that completely overshadowed the sweet-scented air. So strong that her nose was twitching, her eyes were watering. So life-like, as if it was happening so close by…
Wait a minute!
Green eyes burst open before Aria threw over the duvets and hopped out of the bed, rushing down the hall of their apartment, towards the kitchen where she was nearly knocked down into a choking fit by the vast, thick cloud of smoke massing from the kitchen.
"Dear God," she wheezed, stumbling into the kitchen. The smoke was so thick, it was practically a fog. She managed to find the window and shoved it open all the way up.
Any other day, any other morning she would stay far as away as possible from the frigid December air, unless work or snowball fights beckoned her out. This moment, though, she happily embraced it, sticking her head out the window and sucking in gulps of fresh air.
Winter, I will never bash you again, Aria promised, the sweet air cleansing her lungs. At least not until she busted her arse walking on the sidewalk, then she'll go right back to rightfully hating and cursing it.
"Stick your head out any further and you'll fall straight to the bottom. And the police will suspect me of first-degree murder."
Aria pulled her head back in, sucking in one more gulp of fresh air, and turned back around. On top of the oven, black smoke curled from the whatever-said, shriveled-up lump laid in the frying pan. In front of the said-lump was Draco waving one of the dish rags in front of the smoke and tossing her a playful glare over his shoulder. Even with flour plastered onto his cheeks, smoke smeared on his forehead, he still looked like a supermodel that belonged on the front cover of InStyle magazine.
Go figure. Aria rolled her eyes and walked over to him, wiping some of the flour off before kissing his cheek.
"Babe," she tried to sound as gentle as she could without bursting into laughter. "I appreciate the effort. But based on the smoke mass and fire hazard you nearly caused, the cops would think you're trying to take everyone in the whole building out."
The look on Draco's face reeked of such offense that she burst into laughter, nearly falling onto the ground.
"See if I do ever do anything nice for you again, Potter."
It took a few minutes for her to catch her breath, even longer for the giggles to settle in so she could keep her composure. "I do appreciate the effort, Malfoy."
He rolled her eyes, threatening another dose of laughter to overtake her again.
"I do," she insisted. "Effort goes a long way." She glanced over at the burnt food corpse. She didn't think it was possible for food to be that small or that black from cooking but she was mistaken. "And goes hand-in-hand with trial and error. What is that anyway? A pancake?"
"Supposed to be French toast." Draco mumbled, averting his gaze when she glanced back at him.
Aria bit down on her tongue to tame the slew of giggles traveling up her throat, filling her mouth. "Babe," she said as gently as she could. "There's a reason why I'm the successful baker to a quaint business and you're the adorable CEO to your family company."
"Har, bloody, har." Draco muttered. He grabbed the pan, flinging the coaled toast into the trash, then putting it into sink.
"Still, it was a sweet gesture. You get major boyfriend points for that."
"Fiancé." Draco said with a half-smile, half-smirk. He grabbed hold of her hand, where a beautiful five-carat, princess-cut engagement ring has been resting on her finger since September on her finger, and kissed her knuckle.
It had been three months since he popped the question and she was still in shock, half-sure she was in some sort of dream. But sparkly rock on her hand confirmed it was reality. Her boyfriend of two years would soon become her husband in less than a year. Aria couldn't control her blushing cheeks anymore than she could control the smitten smile curling her lips.
"Fiancé," she repeated, stepping closer to him. "My sweet, ambitious, spoiled prat of a fiancé."
"You really know how a compliment a man, Potter."
She shrugged. "I learned from the best, Malfoy."
He glared at her, causing her to unleash another flood of giggles.
"Alright, alright. How's this? My adorable fiancé ...who's a secret and complete goofball that can't cook for shite."
"Alright, that's it!"
Squealing, Aria turned to run but before she was halfway through, arms wrapped around her torso and pulled her against Draco's chest, trapping her. Once she was caught, Draco carried her over to the countertop and plopped her arse down on top of it, raising her hands over her head and pinning them against the top drawers.
"As gorgeous and brilliant and perfect as I may seem, love," Draco drawled.
"I don't recall saying any of that earlier."
Ignoring her, he went on, "Never forget I can-and will-take great pleasure in dominating you if I need to."
Oh really? Aria smiled sweetly at him and pressed her foot against his balls. "And you don't forget that I will take great pleasure knocking your ego down a peg if need to."
Wickedness oozed from Draco's smile. "I love it when you talk dirty."
Aria rolled her eyes, holding in her laughter, and would have remarked on him just further proving what a goofball he was if Draco hadn't caught her lips in a soft, sweet kiss that made all thoughts fly out of her head.
Draco eased back a bit and looked too smug for his own good as he studied her flushed cheeks. "And that's why you'll fit into the family just fine, soon-to-be Mrs. Potter-Malfoy."
"It will certainly be an interesting marriage, future Potter-Malfoy."
"With plenty of more interesting shagging on top of that."
"Shut up!" Aria shoved him away but he came right back, laughing as he caught her in another kiss.
"With interesting little kids running around the house." Tenderness touched his face. "Preferably with your green eyes-and your charming wit."
Aria bit her lip, looping her arms around his neck. "That definitely would be interesting."
"With six or so."
"That definitely sounds like you're dreaming if you think I'm popping out that many." Molly may have had the strength to handle seven, but Aria knew for a fact she wasn't that strong.
They laughed and shared another kiss.
"You know, it's actually a good thing I fucked up breakfast." Draco said when they broke apart. "Leaves plenty of room for you at the brunch you'll be having with Mother today."
Aria groaned and leaned back, leaning her head against the drawer.
Her eyes may have been closed, but she could sense Draco's amusement of her misery curling like smoke between them. "Come on, love. You're being dramatic."
"No, I'm not." she pouted.
"You and Mother get along well, don't you?"
"We do." Despite the number of the times they met, which could be counted on one hand. Still, Aria would say their relationship was infinitely better than the one she had with Draco's father, who took one look at her and snubbed his nose in a dismissive fashion that made her want to punch him. It took multiple threats from both Draco and Narcissa, including one of Draco threatening to walk away from the company and family for good for him to finally accept the fact they were together. Developing their relationship from shared disdain to mild tolerance.
Narcissa, on the other, wasn't that bad. She seemed to like her enough, giggling at the splash of flour she had on her face when Draco just happened to bring his parents over to her bakery on her busiest of days, where she was short on staff and had dozens of orders to fill. And continued to be nice whenever Draco dragged her to family dinners and parties the company was hosting.
But those occasions were different. At parties, their interactions were usually limited since Narcissa would have hundreds of other guests to attend to while Aria would be dragged to whatever friends or room and occasional closet Draco wanted her to see. At dinners, there was always Draco and his dad and sweet Dobby to buffer the conversations. With this brunch, it would be just her and Narcissa. And with her rotten luck, it could turn bad.
Aria had no idea she voiced that last thought until Draco asked, "Like what?"
Shite. "Well for starters, I may greatly offend her by using the salad fork to cut my steak."
Draco rolled his eyes.
"Or may I end up doing something stupid that makes her mad, and has your possibly changing your mind about me? About us?"
Draco's eyes then softened. He leaned in and pressed a kiss against her brow. "I highly doubt it. Believe it or not, Potter, you do have a certain charm about you."
Aria giggled. Draco smiled at her and then examined what she had was, which was one of his gray sweatshirts she decided to wear to bed last night.
"Have I mentioned how much I love it when you wear my clothes?"
Aria hummed as she pretended to think on it. "Only about a hundred or so times, yeah-" She then noticed the roguish grin flashing in his eyes. "No. No, no, no-Draco!"
Her world was turned upside down as Draco flung her over his shoulder and carried her back to their room.
It was a struggle to keep the smile on her face, making sure it didn't filter and give the wrong impression. At the same time also making sure it wasn't too bright since that would give off the impression of desperation or insanity, which she would also like to avoid.
Across from her, Narcissa's smile dipped with poised elegance as she took a sip of her tea, ice-blue eyes locked on hers. Hair styled perfectly in an up-do, make light, her black and white suit form-fitting with a large, floppy hat, she looked every inch of the powerful business woman that she was, co-running not only the family company along with her husband but also running her own makeup line that's becoming its' own empire. Only thing missing would be a huge pair of sunglasses to top off the look.
Aria felt like a child being inspected by her nanny, like from one of those old movies she used to watch with Hermione during the holidays.
Aria chewed carefully of the mint chocolate-chip pancakes she ordered, fighting against the urge to give into her fidgeting. For example, like combing through her long, wild dark hair she tied into a ponytail to make sure there were no loose strands. Or picking at her clothes. Since they were in the middle of December and the season for holly-jolly was here, she thought she'd be festive by throwing on her sparkly red sweater, her candy-cane leggings, and black combat boots.
Thanks to her fiancé whom she was positive was half-vampire, she had to wear a scarf to cover up the mess of hickeys he sucked onto her neck. Although the accessory was a dead giveaway on what possibly took place earlier, which Draco was all too happy about when she left. But there was only so much makeup could cover up, and she'd rather attempt to be discreet than flaunt it about. That would only create a whole other impression she'd rather not be creating for her future mother-in-law.
"Is the food to your liking, dear?"
The sound of Narcissa's voice cut through her voice, startling so that she jumped, fork flying from her hand and landing on the floor. Cheeks hot, she stole a glance at the woman. Narcissa watched her carefully, concern and amusement swirling in her eyes.
Dear God. "Yes," she answered, wincing at how shrill she sounded. "Just fine."
To make the moment more perfect, a waiter came by and replaced her fork with a new one.
"Happens to all of us," he assured, casting her a strange look. "Even those of who are old enough not to play with our food."
Shut it! Aria bit her tongue and struggled to keep her smile. "Thank you so much."
Narcissa looked like she was fighting against laughter, her smile radiating in amusement.
When Aria got the text from Narcissa requesting a meet-up, she was nervous it was going to be at one of those high-end, posh places that served over-priced coffee and small servings. To her immense relief, Google directions led her to a cozy-looking breakfast joint.
"That's good," Narcissa said. "I'm glad to hear."
With her new fork she made sure she held a firm grip to keep from flying again, Aria polished off her second pancake of the stack and switched over to the fries she ordered along as a side, dipping a few into the spicy mustard the waiter brought them.
"I hope you coming down here wasn't an issue."
"No," Aria quickly chewed down the fries and swallowed, wiping her mouth and hands free of the grease. "No problem at all. Won't lie, though. It was a bit surprising getting the text from you, but it was no issue. Happy to come."
Narcissa's smile brightened. "Glad to hear. It actually makes this easier." She leaned in closer. "You see, my dear. I actually have two reasons for this calling this little get-together."
Aria figured as much. Narcissa was a Malfoy, and from what she'd learn all these years being with Draco, it was that Malfoys hardly did anything without some kind of motive. Still she was curious on what Narcissa's could be. "Okay."
"First and foremost, I would like to offer my congratulations for the engagement." Narcissa took hold of her right hand and studied the ring. "My son did well."
"Don't let it get back to him, though," Aria joked. "Otherwise his head will get bigger than it already is."
To her amazement and relief, Narcissa laughed. "A trait he inherited from his father from Lucius. Like father, like son as they say."
Oh, she knew it.
Narcissa's eyes gleamed mischievously. "Something to look forward to in your marriage."
A giggle slipped from her mouth. "Well, thank you for that-the congratulations and the advice, Mrs. Malfoy."
"I-" Aria blinked, surprised. "Pardon?"
"Narcissa," she repeated with a smile. "Since we're to be a family soon, there's no need for formality to be between us. I insist you call me Narcissa. Or better yet," She folded her thin, pale hands in front of her, smile gleaming like diamonds. "Mother."
Aria managed to seal her mouth shut to hold in the surprised yelp threatening to burst out. It was odd that even though she was orphaned with her parents dying before she turned one, she didn't necessarily spent her life pinning over a motherly figure. Not with Mrs. Weasley pretty much adopting her as an eighth Weasley, and Remus who was the steady to Sirius's wildness and kind of did acted as one at home. When she was little, she used to think how his nickname Moony sounded too much like Mummy.
"I-I don't know what to say," Aria stammered.
"You don't have to say anything, my dear. Only listen." Narcissa said. "You see, Aria, I do greatly adore my son. Of all the things I've done, he's my greatest accomplishment. However I always did long to have more children, particularly a girl. I always wanted a daughter. Sadly things didn't quite work out."
A pang of sympathy clanked against Aria's chest like a drum. "I'm so sorry."
Narcissa waved her hand dismissively. "It's no matter. I made peace with it long ago. Besides, it seems like my wish has finally come through."
It didn't take long for the meaning of the words, equipped with a secretive smile Narcissa had, to sink in, setting off with a clank that settled onto her stomach.
"I...I…" Well done, Aria. That had to be the third time she managed today in front of her. "I don't know what to say."
"Yes would be a good way to start," Narcissa answered. "Yes in agreement to spending the rest of the day with me. There still some holiday shopping I need to get done and would love to have a young woman around to accompany me. Consider it your gift to me."
"Oh." Definitely not at all what Aria expected. During the walk to the restaurant, Aria's mind kept bouncing between two scenarios on what the brunch could be about. Of Narcissa immediately wanting to dive into wedding plans, hoarding a stack of magazines she wanted Aria to look over. Or her seeing for herself what it was about her that Draco was so crazy about, and if there was something she could use against her. A shopping trip never once crossed her mind.
Now that she thought about it, it didn't seem too bad. Aria didn't have any other plans for this weekend, being blissfully granted time off from the bakery. There was still some shopping she needed to get done herself, and it would be a great time for them to get know each other better.
"Sure," she smiled. "Sounds like fun."
The glowing smile on Narcissa's face proved that she gave a good answer.
The set of zeros, the great set of zeros, stamped onto the price tag pointed out the possibility that she might have made a mistake in thinking the afternoon would be smooth sailing.
"Father." Aria croaked, stunned.
A persons seeing a number with that many zeros would send him down cardiac arrest lane. Hell, the way her heart was shriveling up painfully inside her chest like that French toast disaster Draco attempted this morning, she was sure she was heading down that lane. Yet to the people of the posh, designer-clothing store, employees and customers alike, didn't seem to mind the price. Or anything else in the store that had the same or more amount of zeros attached to the price tags.
In the beginning the shopping trip didn't seem so busy. Narcissa was gracious enough to have Aria stop at the places she needed to do her own shopping, which led them to Hermione's favorite bookstore where she picked up the new trilogy she wanted and the new book by Remus's favorite author she knew he'd love, TKMAXX where she got some clothes for Sirius, a sport shop where she picked up some lacrosse gear for Ron, and a toys shop where she picked up some toys for Teddy and Rose.
Then it quickly went downhill when Narcissa took them a street on the busier part of town, where all the high-end, posh stores were stamped. The part of town Aria usually avoided.
Seeing the price on the red and black, high-collared dress that caught Aria's eye reminded her why.
Narcissa stepped up beside her and examined the high-priced dress. "Pretty."
Aria thought so too. It was different from her usual style, but really pretty. For a second she danced across the idea of possibly getting it. Until she saw the price.
Narcissa's eyes flickered over to the price tag Aria let go of. "The price though…"
"Practically a bargain."
Just like that, Aria was reminded that Malfoys were not simple people.
"Do you like it?"
"I do." Least she did.
"What about the others?"
Oh, right. The others. As in the other dresses and tops hanging off the racks three employees pulled up the second Narcissa walked in, Aria following close behind her. All beautiful in different colors from blue to white, red and black. All designer. All way, way above her budget.
"They're really nice."
"Wonderful." Narcissa said, then turned back to one of the sale clerks. "We'll take everything."
Aria arched a brow, but shrugged. A bit excessive but the Malfoys had the money to spend, so who was she to judge?
Narcissa stole a quick glance over for her. "A size medium for all, for my future daughter-in-law."
For who? Aria choked on her own breath. "Mrs. Malfoy-"
"Narcissa," she repeated. "I can't. That's way too much."
"Nonsense, my dear." Narcissa pulled out a black platinum that gleamed under the bright florescent lights. "Consider it a gift."
Aria was lost for words. She glanced over at the customer service where the employees were pulling the stuff from the rack and packing them up. Her jaw dropped when she saw the number of boxes already packed up.
Her shock must have been transparent since Narcissa continued, "Not to worry. Gwen will make sure they're delivered straight to your apartment today."
"I didn't know stores do that." Especially for a walk-in.
Narcissa winked at her. "They do when you're a member of an exclusive club, one which you'll soon be a part of."
Aria wondered if there was a chance she could return that membership.
"Oh and Gwen, also include some of jewelry pieces I put together the last time I was here along with the dresses. Ruby will be excellent since red goes well with her complexion. Emeralds too. They'll make her eyes pop."
Oh dear Lord.
Not Aria might not be a total girly-girl, but she didn't mind the occasional shopping trip with friends. It was a fun thing to do with friends-and when she had enough to spare. It was even better thing-and her preferred method-when she could do all the shopping she wanted from the comfort of her bed, dressed in her pajamas, laptop propped on her lap, with Google Chrome opened to five different tabs of her favorite stores. But her shopping always, always featured a reasonable, unbreakable budget. It was who she was. It was how she was raised, growing up in a tight-budget household with one uncle who taught her the meaning of budget and the other who taught her creative ways to work around it.
Aria quickly learned that simple shopping wasn't a thing for the Malfoys-or budget. She also started to realize that Narcissa had her own version of shopping. For some people, shopping consisted of browsing around the store, looking for something in their size, trying it on and seeing how it looked. Narcissa's version consisted of her simply strolling into a store and the manager would be rushing out to her, being led to a spot where other staff waited for them with five to seven racks of clothes.
Narcissa would scan each item, running a finger across the material, studying them from every angle. If all checked out, she'd give a slight nod, which prompted the staff to start packing. If they didn't, if one item missed the mark, a frown crossed her face, which cued staff to take away the offensive rack and quickly put together a new one.
"What do you think of this one?" she asked, gesturing at a pair of black suede ankle boots with a golden zipper.
"Perfect. Another pair to add to your closet."
As it turned out, their little shopping trip wasn't more so a shopping trip. Nor was it little. It was more so glancing and buying its entirety. Which was all for her.
And so it went on. At the third store Aria couldn't make up her mind between the long-sleeve and strappy black mini dresses, so Narcissa bought them both-along with anything else in that similar style. Same at the fifth store, the sixth, the seventh. At the ninth store Aria just grabbed onto the first pair of shoes she could reach, which were another pair of black ankle boots.
"These are fine, really." she insisted. "These are all I need."
"We'll take every color you have and style of them. With some heels too." Narcissa shot her a wink. "A girl can never have too many heels. That's my motto."
Aria had a motto of sticking to budget and moderation, but she had a feeling Narcissa wouldn't be interested in that one.
At the tenth store, Narcissa pulled her over to a rack and took out a sparkly sliver dress.
"Try this on."
"Mrs-I mean Narcissa," she quickly corrected when she saw the pointed look aimed at her. "Really, I'm fine. You bought me a lot already." Too much in fact.
Which was how Aria found herself standing in front of a dressing room mirror in a short, strappy, sparkly dress with silver sparkly boots and a hair piece that looked like a small tiara.
She felt a Barbie doll. She felt a humanized ornament that belonged on their tree. She felt…well…
"Stunning." Narcissa declared.
Yup, that would be the word she was looking for. She looked stunning in the mirror. She felt stunning, absolutely stunning. "Wow."
"You must wear this to the Christmas party Lucius and I are hosting. You'll be the sparkling center." Narcissa stood beside her and brushed loose strands of black curls off her shoulder and fixed the tiara accessory. "There. Perfect."
Aria shook her head in slow amazement. "Definitely not what I usually wear."
"Nothing is wrong with a little change now and there." Narcissa tapped her nose, and Aria surprised them both by laughing. "We still have one more place we need to go, so hurry up and change. I'll make sure they wrap it up for you."
"Narcissa-" She silenced her protest with a raised hand.
"I insist. We're going to be family soon enough, and Malfoys deserve nothing but the best." She stroked her cheek. "All this is my gift to you."
Aria hummed Silver Bells as she changed back into her clothes, struggling a bit with the boots, then redid her ponytail as she stepped out. It was while she was walking down the long hallway, she caught snippets of an interesting conversation.
"I didn't think it would happen though. I mean, I heard they were going out for awhile but I didn't think they were that serious. I mean, just look at that hair. It was like she never met a comb."
Aria's brows furrowed. They couldn't be talking about her, could they?
"I mean honestly. Draco, Draco Malfoy with some baker."
Oh, they were definitely talking about her. And she was tempted to shove a hanger or two down their snotty throats.
"Now they're getting married. I heard his dad nearly had a heart attack when he heard the news. Not that I blame him," said a second voice that sounded as snotty as the first. "The heir to the multi-billion dollar company decides to marry some welfare, frumpy skank. You saw her boots, didn't you? They screamed secondhand."
"Guarantee you that the marriage won't make it through the year." Snark dripped into the first voice. "And guarantee you that she'll make sure a baby comes out of it."
"Well duh. If you have the choice between running some dingy corner shop and getting a piece of the Malfoy fortune, it's a no-brainer."
Okay, forget the hanger. She was going to kick their asses with her second-hand boots.
Shock smacked onto the sale clerks faces when Aria came into view, her express stone-faced. Then that shock heightened to fear when they looked over shoulder. Narcissa was standing right behind her, her smile pleasant but her eyes chips of ice.
How long had she been standing there? How much did she hear?"
"Ladies, if you would please take the outfit my daughter had picked out and pack it up, we'll happily be on our way."
One of them, a redhead girl whom Aria bet started the conversation, took the clothes off her hand. Her cheeks flushed, and her gaze was averted.
"Oh, and ladies." Narcissa stood beside Aria, her pleasant smile never wavering, her pleasant tone never breaking. "If I were you, I'd search up any available job openings because I promise you after my call with your manager today, your employment will be terminated."
The redhead stumbled back, as if Narcissa slapped her. The other one, tall and thin with caramel-colored skin and bleached blonde hair, covered her mouth.
"Come along, dear. We still have some shopping to do."
Aria followed right after behind her, but paused and turned around. The two (former) sales girls were still frozen in place.
"Oh don't fret." Aria couldn't suppress the smirk that curled her mouth. "The corner store is always hiring."
The redhead looked so shock, like she was seconds away from a heart attack. Aria left the store with an extra pep in her step.
Since they had been shopping nonstop since morning, Narcissa thought it was best that they relocated to a Starbucks to rest and refuel. Narcissa took a seat while Aria went to get their drinks. A peppermint white hot chocolate for her and caramel Brule Crème for Narcissa.
"Thank you, my dear."
Narcissa waited until Aria was seated before she picked up her steaming hot mug, and they clicked their drinks together. They blew cool air into their drinks before taking a sip at the same time, catching each other over the rim of their cups.
"I just wanted to say thank you," At the questioning look Narcissa gave her, she clarified, "At what happened at the store."
"No need to thank me, my dear. There are many things I can tolerate except for one thing." Steel coated her eyes. "And that is people disrespecting my family. Those two had it coming."
God, what else could she say? What would anyone say?
As if she could read her thoughts, Narcissa reached for her hand and gave it a good squeeze. "I know my husband wasn't too fond of the relationship when it began."
Aria could barely held onto her snort. That was putting it lightly.
"I, however, have been rather impressed by you before Draco even introduced us."
She did? "You did?"
"Oh, I had my secretary do research on you. Background checks. Security purposes and what not. I'm sure you understand."
"A bright student nearly all of your life. Double major in both communications and business. Six months after graduating, you managed to build your own successful business."
Aria averted her eyes, warmth heating her cheeks.
"Also I must confess. I was definitely intrigued by the start of your courtship."
Oh Lord. To this day, Hermione often joked that her and Draco's first meeting was the works of a rom-com. A snuck-up snob made a scathing comment about her raspberry tarts, saying it was too stuffed up. A fiery, hot-headed Latina taking quick offense, fired aback that the only thing that was stuffed was his cotton-filled head. Comments were flung back and forth with Draco tossing a handful of dollars, saying she could invest in more baking lessons, and Aria flinging flour onto his face and suit, stuffing his mouth with those tossed-out dollar bills.
Maybe not the most romantic start, but if you counted the flour, Aria supposed she could say they started off with a snowy start.
"That's when I knew you'd be just what my son needed."
Aria blinked, memories vanishing from her mind, and frowned a bit. "Someone who flings flour at him, stuffs his mouth with money, and screams what a prat he is?"
"Someone who keeps him at the edge of his seat. Someone to keep him on his toes. Someone who isn't afraid to knock him down when his ego becomes a bit...much."
This time Aria couldn't hold onto her snort of laughter.
"In short, Aria, you're just the type of partner Draco needs."
She smiled. "Thank you, Mrs. Malfoy."
Smiling, Narcissa settled back into her seat. "I know this day has been rather hectic, but I want you to know that I greatly appreciate it. This was one of the best gifts I ever received."
"It definitely wasn't what I had in mind. Or planned." God helped her when she got home and she had to organize all those bags. "But surprisingly enough I did have fun."
"That's good to hear, dear. Because I have one more surprise for you."
Aria was expecting the surprise to be another big-name designer store, like Gucci or Prada. Or a jewelry that contained pieces that had more zeros attached to them that she could only hope to make in a lifetime.
What she didn't expect was a dress.
A beautiful, pure white dressed that looked like it belonged in the pages of a fairytale or a dream. The front was modest, showing a hint of cleavage, while the back was sultrily low. Her lower sides were exposed by slits that were decorated by long brown beads. The skirt was so long and flowy. The sleeves were short and ruffled, decorated by a beautiful silver and white beaded flower.
Aria barely recognized herself in the mirror of Narcissa's private studio.
Narcissa stood beside her, grinning.
"I look…I look…"
"Like a princess," Narcissa beamed, taking hold of her hair and tying it into an elegant ponytail. "An absolute princess."
She felt like she was living out a moment in the movies, between a daughter and mother when they stumbled across a beautiful dress and the daughter was beside herself. Now it was happening to her. Warmth flooded in like warm honey.
By the gentle squeeze Narcissa gave her shoulder, it was clear she understood what was going through Aria's mind. As well as the watery giggles that fluttered from her mouth.
"Is this-this is my wedding dress?"
"No," Narcissa answered. "Although I would be honored to take part in the designing process. This was a little something my friend and I whipped up. Something for you to wear at the New Year's ball Draco is hosting."
Aria ran her hands down the skirt, marveling at the smooth material. She couldn't imagine just wearing this dress only once. This type of dress deserved to be worn more than several times. She could see herself wearing this for formal Christmas events if Draco forced her to go to any. For any events for the wedding. Hell, maybe even the wedding reception.
"Consider it another Christmas gift from me to you."
"This is too much."
"Nonsense," Narcissa said. "It's perfect, besides this day and look on your face was more than enough for me. A gift within a gift. Although," she paused. "I wouldn't turn down the news of a grandchild coming along. That would be the icing on the cake. "
Oh my-laugher burst from Aria's mouth in an endless stream that grew louder as Narcissa joined along.
In one afternoon Aria did more shopping, visited more stores than she had all the years she did holiday shopping combined. The weather didn't help much, bringing in another snowstorm that only grew stronger as the day went on. She also regretted wearing her combat boots with the thick heels instead of Uggs, her soles shrieking in pain when she peeled them off. But overall she had fun.
Too much fun that sucked too much energy from her. When Aria finally got home, she ignored the shopping bags and boxes that littered their living room. She ignored the rumbling of her empty stomach. She slipped off her shoes, removed her glasses, curled up on the couch, and closed her eyes…
Only to wake up God knows how long later by Draco who pressed a kiss against her brow and stroked her hair. He beamed above her.
"Hi." she mumbled, wiping the sleep from her eyes.
Draco lifted her up and settled her onto his lap as he sat down. Whimpering, Aria wrapped arms around his neck and nuzzled against his shoulder, earning her another kiss that landed on her temple. "Long day?"
"You have no idea," Aria groaned. "If I ever go into a store, it will be too soon."
Draco chuckled. "Well, you survived it. Proved you're quite a woman."
"Considering the fact I tossed flour at the arsehole who mocked my cooking, I like to think so."
Draco pinched her arm. "That happened to be my favorite suit, you know."
"As if you don't have ten more in your closet just like it."
Draco grumbled under his breath. Aria giggled, nuzzling closer to him.
"Wasn't all bad. Got some shopping done and stopped by a few interesting places."
Aria jerked her head towards the tiny pink bag resting on the couch.
Draco peeked inside, shock splashing onto his face before smoothening out into stone as he turned back to her. Aria smirked at him, brow arched. Next thing she knew, the tiny bag was dangling from Draco's hand, she was slung over his shoulders, and both were being carried by him to the bedroom.
"Draco, what the hell are you doing?" she half-shrieked, half-laughed.
"Doing what one must do with every new purchase." She could sense that damn wicked smirk curling. "Break them in. Which I thoroughly, happily plan to."
"You goddamn horndog of a wanker-" Her rant was cut off by a shriek as a hand came down hard on her arse, pain and arousal flaring from the hit. "Arse."
"And proud of it." He stated with a bite against her arse-cheek.