An Irrational Moment
Response to the D/G Forum Challenge: A Malfoy inspects a Weasley after a fight.
I disclaim, heartily.
The Burrow was in utter pandemonium. Molly was screeching incoherently, the noise sending tiny birds flapping madly from the trees, away from the din. Ginny mused absently that it was impressive, considering her mother was in the cellar.
"I think we've found the reason for the receding hairline at last," she whispered, nodding in her father's direction, "it's from all those years of putting up with us lot."
Arthur was standing at the kitchen window, rubbing his temples slowly.
"At least it isn't genetic," Charlie hissed back, fingers gently probing his own flowing locks.
Ron was in the garden, ferociously throwing gnomes over the fence, cackling in grim delight as they hit the soil with minute squeaks of pain. Harry was sat at the kitchen table, a look of horror and disgust written across his face. His thumb was repetitively rubbing at the rough wood, as though by wearing a hole in the table he could create a hole in his mind's eye. Meanwhile, Hermione had retreated to the living room to search frantically through books, as though they would hold a mystical cure to what they all considered a heinous affliction.
"I don't think he's realized he's bleeding yet," Charlie announced in a stage whisper. A snort escaped Ginny's lips; Harry had jumped to his feet and rushed out, presumably to the bathroom. Tiny droplets of blood followed him like a macabre bread-crumb trail.
"Well!" Ginny announced, though nobody but Charlie seemed to notice, "I think I've caused enough chaos for one day, so I'll just be leaving now."
"You can't leave me with them!"
"Oh please, Charlie, you're a big boy now. I'm sure you can handle all of their little tantrums."
As if the world was determined to prove her wrong, a keening wail erupted from below their feet; for a moment, Ginny thought the ghoul had tried to eat Molly Weasley. Charlie leveled a glare in Ginny's general direction.
"Oh fine," she huffed, "I'll stay."
"What time is Draco due here?"
Arthur's massaging hands gave a violent twitch when he heard the name.
"Anytime soon, I'd say. He always likes a good family feud, says it lifts the soul." She picked a wiry, ginger cat hair from her dress as she spoke and inspected it in the light flooding through Arthur's window. A shadow passed across her face as a portly gnome careened through the air outside, momentarily blocking the sun. Turning from the window, she sank into Harry's vacated chair with a sigh.
Draco's lean form manifested itself in the room, having apparated directly into the house. He stood still for a moment, taking in his surroundings. Crazy Weasley outside; weary Weasley in the kitchen; banshee Weasley in the cellar. Blood on the floor. Granger missing must be researching something or other. Potter also missing His eyebrow rose as he contemplated them both being absent. No, Granger has more sense. Finally, his eyes landed on the scary Weasley and her older brother.
"Announcement went well, I take it?"
"Oh, swimmingly," Ginny retorted.
Draco could see the pain in her eyes, though she masked it with indifference and blithe humour.
"Isn't anyone happy for us?"
There was a dangerous menace in his tone that the members of the kitchen did not miss. Arthur's fingers stilled, and he looked momentarily shamefaced.
"I am," Charlie piped up, "I think it's great news. Mum's taking it hardest, I think."
The caterwauling from below had ceased; thunderous explosions, shattering of crockery and echoing bangs now flew up from the floorboards.
"Is there any particular reason that Mrs. Weasley is trying to demolish your home from the foundations up?"
Arthur spoke up for the first time in hours, "We thought it would be the safest place for her to release her tension." The sheepish look was still stretched across his face; Draco thought he would be ashamed too if he had locked his wife away, like an unwanted squib.
"I know what you're thinking, Mr. Malfoy, but you don't know what it's been like!" Arthur's voice was shaking slightly, and Draco wondered if it was rage or fear that caused it, "We couldn't calm her, she was uncontrollable."
"It's true, honey. She tried to give me a portkey to Kuala Lumpur, for goodness sake! Not that I'm sure what good that would do any of us. She disguised it as a knitted baby hat." The usually strong voice cracked a little with the admission of her mother's duplicity.
"Kuala Lumpur? Well, I can see how that would be preferable to Malfoy Manor." Draco rolled his eyes and turned to Charlie, the only sane member of the family (including his wife, not that he'd dare say it aloud).
"What can we do?"
"Oh, she'll calm down eventually. You should have seen what she did to the shed when Fred and George fed the ghoul U-NO-POO. We just have to wait until she's worn herself out."
The sun was setting. There had been tentative silence in the Burrow for nearly a full hour - nobody seemed willing to break it. Charlie, Ginny and Draco still sat at the kitchen table; Ron had finally exorcised his anger and had started a silent game of chess with Arthur. Harry and Hermione had left for work minutes previously, meaning the task of seeing to Molly Weasley hung heavily over the heads of those still in attendance.
"Do you think she's finally stopped?" Ron uttered his voice barely discernable in the cavernous silence.
"Somebody should check" Ginny suggested in a murmur. Nobody volunteered; they all stared at each other, unsure on the next step. Ticking ricocheted around the room: the family clock counting down the minutes like a muggle bomb.
Charlie surreptitiously placed his thumb on the edge of the table and caught Ginny's eye with his own. With furrowed brows she glanced around the room, as though trying to decipher a puzzle; Arthur was polishing his glasses, Ron cradling an empty bottle of butterbeer. Finally her gaze landed upon Charlie's thumb. A gasp shot from her lips as she slammed her own thumb onto the table, causing Arthur to drop his glasses. He and Ron both raised their arms simultaneously and threw their opposable digits to the wooden surface. All four of the Weasleys grinned in triumph, Ron letting out a "Hah!"
"Pardon me, am I missing something?" Draco bit out in a scathing voice.
"Oh, Malfoy, too bad. Looks like you didn't get your thumb on the table. Guess that means you're going down there" The smugness was practically radiating from Ron.
"I you what!" He glared accusingly at Ginny, "You were in on this! How brave it is of you, Gryffindors, throwing me to the proverbial lion's den." He threw himself from the table and stalked towards the cellar door. "Fine, I'll go, I've had enough of this anyway." He ripped the door open and crossed the threshold, making sure to slam it behind him.
The darkness on the staircase was impenetrable. The faade crumbled as he stood, back to the door, panicking. I am not afraid of a Weasley was the constant mantra running through his mind; step by torturous step he worked his way down, feet treading carefully and quietly, terrified of what he would meet. Would she be standing like some creepy mannequin silent and vacant, sent into a catatonic state in the absence of her wrath? Or would she be waiting in the shadows like some hideous Cerberus, Hades' brimstone and fire burning in her eyes, ready to pounce?
The steps had run out. His heart thundered against his ribs.
He saw her instantly, a surprisingly small figure against the backdrop of chaos that surrounded her. She was slumped against the farthest wall, chin resting on her chest, breathing deep and even. Draco crept closer and peered into her face; she appeared to be asleep. Inspecting her more thoroughly he saw that there were small cuts and burns littering her skin. He shook his head in wonder; why had she done this? Draco settled himself in front of Molly and lifted his wand, ready to heal the wounds splattered across the plump body.
Pain exploded through his synapses; light flashed across his vision; blood gushed from his nose. Molly had shot to her feet and towered over him, inflating in her righteous indignation.
"About time you showed up, young man!"
Draco squawked indignantly at her, "You punched me!"
"I should think so, Mr. Malfoy! Letting my Ginny-pie face us all alone with her news; it's bad manners! Why they ever felt the need to lock me in here is beyond me."
Draco now moved in a way that Molly could only later recall as 'flailing'.
"She didn't want me to come! She's upstairs thinking you wanted to send her to Kuala Lumpur because she's having my child!"
"Yes, well. A moment of irrationality, perhaps."
"Perhaps," Snarled Draco, as he stormed back up the stairs and erupted into the kitchen, blood and mucus flying from his misshapen nostrils. He stood tall and proud, gathering his Malfoy arrogance like a cloak around him.
"I am going to St. Mungo's. Ginevra, I will see you at home."
Ron's voice was reaching heights of euphoria, "Was his nose broken?"
Ginny shook her head despairingly, "I had better get home and do damage control."
With another resounding crack, she had vanished.
"His nose was broken, wasn't it?" Ron repeated, "I'm going to congratulate mum!"
His footsteps echoed loudly on the cellar steps as he rushed towards her, the slight skip in his step evident in the sound. The silence expanded again like an inflating balloon in the cavernous space.
"Well," Charlie spoke into the quiescence, "at least she didn't make him eat a whole box of U-NO-POO."
"Hmm. Shame, that." was Arthur's only reply.