It's a quiet New Year's Eve for the Malfoy-Ausa family. Cepheus is spending the holiday sitting on the floor, babbling to his father and chewing on his hand. Draco glanced over with an interested word here or there and a smile as he gives the shop's inventory list a lookover.

It's not long before Mia joins them with a cuppa and a kiss for her husband. But she's not going to let the paperwork go without mention.

"Dear, I don’t know why you work yourself so hard on the holidays. The shop can surely wait."

"But we get a lot of orders now," Draco said, turning a page. "You know some space opened up in Lann to set up another shop?"

"You were thinking of opening another?" Mia asks, curious about this development.

Draco nodded while Cepheus was crawling toward his mother.

"Well we're having trouble meeting demand in the one shop, and even expanding the internal space isn't enough," he explained. "Plus, it would make easier for the people in other regions without having to Owl or travel a great distance."

She replied with, "But Lann is a rather niche location. Surely the ships from Meribia can deliver stock there just fine?"

She then looked down and smiled to see Cepheus crawling nearby before continuing.

"Or are you perhaps thinking of taking another holiday there?"

Cepheus, meanwhile, grabbed the leg of a nearby chair to try to pull himself up.

"Hmm perhaps, and it has been a while," Draco mused. "After his first birthday? The weather should be pleasent. Granted I've been entertaining a few locations. It's just I know there's a building available to convert. Would have to build from scratch I think in another spot."

"Cepheus would probably enjoy that. But we’ll have to be careful with how we travel. It’s not like before when we were only expecting him. He can fall off the carpet by himself now."

Cepheus then ended up tugging on Mia’s skirt as he continued to pull himself up. She looked down with a smile before doubletaking.

Draco hadn't noticed yet and continued with, " Well he would bounce from a short height. I could try varying a Sticking Charm for him?"

He then tilted his head at his wife's reaction before blinking with some surprise at his son.

"Is he...?" he asked.

Mia replied with some excitement, "He’s pulling himself up."

Cepheus chimed in, tugging on Mia's dress and saying, "Mama?"

She gently removed his hand from her dress to let him try to stand on his own.

"I thought he'd still be too young," Draco said with some surprise, watching his son. He got up to get a better look. "Come on Cepheus, that's the way."

"Well, he will be one soon," Mia said, bending over at the waist to watch. "Though it’s hard to believe."

Cepheus took a wobbly step forward.

Draco commented with, "He's growing so fast." He then crouched down to encourage him and said, "That's it, come to Dada, son."

Cepheus took another step and fell on his end. Before he decided this would be a good reason to start crying, Mia asked him, "Wanna try again?"

"Yah," the baby replied in what they are fairly sure is confirmation.

Mia helped him up by his hands and asked, "Wanna walk to Daddy?"

"Yah," the child says again before trying another step.

Draco beckoned to him and said, "Almost there, son."

Cepheus stopped, a little unsteady, before trying another step.

"You can do it, Cepheus," Mia said with a smile.

The baby took another step, arms out in front of him as he reached for Daddy. Draco reached out, too, to catch Cepheus if he needs to as their son continues taking slow steps, one, two...

And then he makes it into his father’s arms with a bright smile.

Draco gathered him up and kissed him on the cheek before carrying him over to Mia, exclaiming, "Can you believe it, Mia? Our son walked! He's such a clever boy, yes you are Cepheus."

"I saw it and I can barely believe it," she says with joy. "We’re so proud of you, Cepheus."

She gave her baby kisses as he let out a squeal and clapped his hands together.

It wasn't long before realization had hit but she was still obviously happy when she said, "Oh no. This means he’ll be running soon. He’s going to run circles around us, Draco."

Draco, meanwhile, was still excited and saying, "Oh that's one for the rememberizer. Wait till we tell your mum." Then he listened for a moment, and his eyes widened. "But he's so small, he can't get that far can he?"

"Oh yes he can. Have you ever had to watch Rachel by yourself? There’s a reason why Jessica and Kyle would ask me to babysit: so she can wear herself out on me before going back home."

Draco remembers for a moment and realized, "...Oh Merlin no. Oh Mother was joking about that at the Manor, remember?"

"About what? Babies running? Or when she told that story about you going through that nudie phase as a baby?" Mia asked.

Draco sat down with Cepheus on his lap, the child chewing on his fingers again. He Accioed a toy for Cepheus instead as he dryly replied, "The running but of course do mention my parents' new plot to embarrass me. At least he should have better sense then to try that."

Mia carefully sat down with them and said, "You’re overestimating, I think."

Her husband pouted and said, "She didn't have to bring it up."

"Don’t worry," she replies. "We’ll get to do the same to Cepheus one day. After all, when it happens, we’ll probably think it’s cute."

He considered that. "Well that is a good point." Then he realized, "We better warn the guards around the Guild when he really gets moving."

"I’m sure they will be happy to see him. Tradition or not, they might be happy to see a little boy running around for a change. Someone who won’t look quite as silly in their helmets several sizes too big for him."

"That's right, I suppose it'll be a novelty to have a little boy here. And they did that with you?" Draco asked with a few chuckles.

"Some did," she answered. "I ended up following the maids more, helping them clean and things like that. Though Cepheus might like to do that since it sometimes means getting sweets for doing a good job."

Mia then reached over and tickled Cepheus a little while he wriggled and giggled.

Draco smiled at him before glancing back at his wife with, "I think I can see that a little. And perhaps, he has inherited my sweet tooth."

"He’s going to be a charmer, this one," Mia commented. "I just know it."

"To be expected, especially with my wit and charm, and your beauty and kindess."

"All of that and he’s not quite one. He’s got a lot to grow into. We’ll have to have a nice party for his birthday. At least a nice cake for him to play in and lovely new toys."

"I thought I saw something suggesting two cakes. One for most people, and a little one just for him. And of course new toys. Oh, he's almost old enough for a toy broom!"

"If he’s walking already, I don’t see the harm in a toy broom for his birthday."

"Brilliant. I know just where to order one. And don't worry, they don't go nearly as fast or as high as the regular ones. He should be quite safe. I had one myself about his age."

"I’m sure he’ll be excited to fly with his Daddy. Aren’t you, sweetie?"

Cepheus responded by gumming on his toy but he did smile around it. Draco bounced him a little on his lap before he said, "And then we can all go to a Quidditch game together, how about it, Cepheus?"

The baby giggled with glee, though if it was due to the idea of seeing a Quidditch game or just liking Daddy bouncing him was unclear.

"Perhaps that will be a good way to spend his second birthday?" Mia suggested. "It seems like it might be overstimulation if we take him too soon."

Draco thought for a moment and said, "I don't see why, if it's too much, he'll probably just nap out, and he'll be worn out for the trip back."

"I suppose you have a point. But I want to be sure he can handle the noise, too. No one will be having any fun if he ends up crying."

"Well, uh how will we be having his birthday party then? I'd like a private one for friends and family, but I'd imagine there will be a public one as well?"

"There will probably be one at the Guild similar to my own birthday. Those don’t get too loud, not as loud as I imagine a popular sporting event with lots of fans would be."

"Ah of course, and no, that was all right. You hear that Cepheus, lots and lots of presents for you," Draco said as he kissed the top of his son's head.

"I think I’m starting to see why you were so excited for his first Christmas," Mia said. "I’m already thinking about what to do for his birthday and mine hasn’t even come yet."

"Well, don't worry, I have something in mind for then as well," Draco said with a smug smile.

Mia leaned over and stage whispered to Cepheus, "Have you been telling Daddy you want a little brother?"

Cepheus just smiled and looked shyly back at his Mama.

"Oh no. He’s starting to look like you now," Mia said.

"Well, a few things.... most of it's a surprise of course," Draco was commenting about his wife's birthday before he glanced down. "He looks fine to me?"

"He had that look on his face," Mia pointed out. "The one you have when I tell you something and you think I’m being cute."

Draco paused for a moment and finally said, "...Though he shouldn't be an only child."

"You think so?"

"Well you wanted a sister or brother to play with too, didn't you?"

"I did at times. Friends as well. I don’t know how picky I was. But do you think we’re ready for another so soon?"

"Perhaps not, though he'd likely be about two before you had another?"

"That is something to consider. But maybe we should let him be a baby at least a little longer before he’s a big brother. I’m a little surprised, actually, that you’re so eager for another. Enjoying fatherhood more than you thought you would?"

"Well, I'd like to, but uh darling, you took it a little out of context. But I don't want to give away the surprise."

"A little out of context?" Mia asked. But then she gets it with an understanding, "Ah."

"I mean there is a little of that because well I miss you, and Cepheus will be with his grandmums."

"Have I been distant? Or is it just Cepheus wearing us out?"

"I love him, but yes, he can be utterly exhausting. And it's hard sometimes to get well, privacy?"

"It’ll be even harder if he combines his new walking skills with figuring out how to escape his cradle."

Draco looked rather weary when he said, "....Althena give me strength, let's not get ahead of ourselves, luv. Cepheus is doing an adequate job there already."
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Mia Malfoy-Ausa
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