Chapter 3 : In which Draco is force-fed soup
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Draco found himself sitting at a worn table as the red-haired woman bustled around the kitchen. Periodically things floated through the air and thumped themselves down on the table in front of him: a cup, a spoon, and finally a steaming bowl of soup.
“There you are, dear,” she proclaimed happily. “Eat up! And what was you name, dear? I’m afraid I didn’t quite catch it.”
Draco looked from the extremely large bowl to the woman standing over him holding a long, wooden spoon. He swallowed. “Draco Malfoy, ma’am.”
“Oh.” Mrs. Weasley stared at him for a moment, then a frown appeared on her round face. Draco was slightly afraid she might hit him with the wooden spoon. She planted her hands on her hips. “Don’t they ever feed you at that mansion of yours? You’re skin and bones.”
Draco was taken aback. “What?”
“Eat!” She motioned to the bowl of soup. “You must be starving.”
“Really, ma’am, I’m fine,” Draco assured her. “I just ate. I’m really not hu– ” His words were cut off as a spoon full of hot soup floated out of his bowl and thrust itself into his mouth.
“Nonsense,” said Mrs. Weasley cheerfully. “Soup is always good.” She turned back to the pot on the stove, leaving Draco with the spoon handle sticking out of his mouth.
He was distinctly miffed. The soup was indeed very hot and was scalding the roof of his mouth. He turned and shot a glare at the girl Weasley who was standing behind him. His miffed-ness only increased with the discovery that she was clutching her sides, shaking with silent laughter. Her laughter doubled at the sight of the spoon, but she walked over to the table and tugged it from his mouth.
“Drink something,” she told him quietly through her laughter. “It will make the burning stop.”
He cautiously picked up the cup by his bowl and took a sip. It appeared to be water that tasted slightly of fruit. It was rather good. Mrs. Weasley thumped down another bowl on the table in front of the chair to his left.
“You eat too, Ginny dear,” she ordered. Weasley hesitated for a second, then, in response to her mother’s firm look, sat next to Draco. She picked up her spoon and began to eat.
“Has your mother always been certifiably insane, or is this an after-effect of the war?” Draco asked quietly.
Weasley glared at him and whispered back, “I would ask if your stupidity is an after-effect, but as you spent the whole war in hiding, that isn’t really a possibility.”
“Oh and you were so brave, tucked away safely at Hogwarts, learning how to turn a kitten into a turtle, while Precious Potter walked away from the Dark Lord without a scratch,” he spat, contempt in his voice barely suppressed.
“That’s an exaggeration and you know it.”
“But do I care?”
“Have some toast, too, dear,” said Mrs. Weasley, placing a large plate of buttered toast next to Draco’s soup bowl.
“Oh… thank you, ma’am,” said Draco, snapping out of the staring contest he had been having with Weasley. Taken aback as he was by this strange household where visitors were force-fed upon arrival, he had been raised with manners (although he didn’t always choose to show them.)
Mrs. Weasley patted him on the arm, “That’s quite alright, dear. And please, call me Molly. ‘Ma’am’ makes me feel so old!” She laughed cheerfully and placed a jam jar and knife beside the toast.
Mrs. Weasley –no, Molly– turned to Weasley who was contentedly eating her soup next to him. “Does he always look this pale?” she asked her daughter.
Weasley snorted into her soup. “Yes, Mum. He’s always looked like that.”
“Oh my.” Turning back to Draco, who was staring at his soup as though he had never seen anything like it, Molly instructed, “Don’t look at it, eat it. You look absolutely peaked. You’re not leaving this house until you have some color in those cheeks.” She placed a plate with several pieces of toast before Weasley.
“Pass the jam, please,” Weasley requested, pointing at the jam jar.
Molly let out a scream. “Ginny!!” She leapt forward and seized her daughter’s left hand. The ring glittered in the rosy light of the kitchen.
“Bugger,” whispered Weasley. Draco suddenly remembered her “bandages” left on the coffee shop table and wished desperately they were back around her hand.
“Oh, Ginny, it’s beautiful!” cried Molly in rapture. “But,” she looked up at Draco, a puzzled look on her round face, “it’s all so sudden. I didn’t even know you were dating.” Draco repressed a shudder. Him and Weasley? Absurd.
“We’re not, Mum,” said Weasley firmly, but Molly didn’t seem to hear her.
She continued, “Oh I’m so glad, Ginny. I was getting worried you’d never find anyone! I mean, after you drove the last three boyfriends away…and they were such nice boys, too.”
Weasley’s face flamed the color of her hair and she looked as though she would have liked nothing better than to sink down in her chair until she was hiding under the table. Unfortunately her mother still had a death grip on her hand. “They were not, Mum,” she muttered softly. “Nick was a klepto who tried to steal my watch every time we went out.”
As much as he was enjoying Weasley’s discomfort, Draco felt he should stop this before it went any farther. Molly seemed nice enough, but who knew what she would be like when she was angry. “I’m afraid there’s been a misunderstanding, Molly,” he broke in smoothly.
“A –a misunderstanding?”
“You see, I misplaced this ring several days ago and your daughter happened to find it. It has been in my family for many generations and possesses some… magical properties. Unfortunately it is stuck on your daughter’s finger and we are in the process of finding out how to remove it. I’m terribly sorry for any trouble we’ve caused you.” There, he thought smugly, that should handle things well.
Molly inspected the ring with disappointment. “Why did you have it on in the first place, Ginny?” she asked absently.
Weasley flushed again and mumbled something about “seeing how it looked.” Draco thought briefly that she didn’t look half bad when she was embarrassed, but squashed that thought immediately. A Weasley attractive? There must be something in this soup.
“Did you get the shopping done, Ginny?” Molly asked. She had returned to tending the stove, only throwing occasional glances over her shoulder at the pair sitting at the table.
“Yes, Mum, it’s all there.”
“The rocks too?”
Draco thought of his still-sore foot. This family is weird beyond reason.
“We should probably be going soon,” remarked Weasley. She, unlike Draco, had finished her soup and was working on the toast.
Molly turned back to them, wooden spoon back in her hand. “But you’ve only just arrived! And your father and brothers will be home soon.”
Draco’s eyes darted instinctively about the kitchen, mapping out possible escape routes. This was definitely not a safe situation. Apparently Weasley agreed.
“Mum, I think we’d better go before they get here. I already have enough to do; I don’t want to have to file a missing body report.” She took a final bite of toast and rose from the table.
Molly looked disappointed. “But he’s still so pale,” she protested.
Weasley leaned down to Draco and hissed, “For Merlin’s sake, pinch your cheeks so we can get out of here!”
Draco glared at her. He looked perfect as he was and her suggestion sounded very unpleasant. “I’m so sorry, Molly,” he drawled, rising from the table, “but we must be going. It’s been lovely meeting you and your cooking is delicious.”
“Well, at least take some toast with you.” Draco found himself holding several pieces of toast. “And do come by again sometime,” she instructed. “Anytime you’re hungry and need something to eat, just let me know.” She made it sound like he was being starved to death.
“Thank you, Molly,” he replied politely, grimacing internally at her patronizing tone of voice.
Somewhere in the house a door slammed and a voice called, “Molly! We’re home!”
Weasley grabbed his arm, they spun, and with a small “pop” the world disappeared into nothingness.
* * * * * * *
Narcissa Malfoy looked up from the book she was reading in surprise as two figures apparated into the study. She knew automatically one of them must be her son, for no one but a Malfoy could apparate directly into the Manor. The girl accompanying him she did not know. She had bright, firey-red hair, a light complexion, and skin liberally sprinkled with freckles. She was thin and, Narcissa inspected the girl’s oval face, rather pretty.
Narcissa gave a small, polite cough and her son spun around. “Mother,” he said quickly, “look at this.” He grabbed the girl by the arm and dragged her over to Narcissa’s chair. On her finger shone the diamond and emerald ring that had once been Narcissa’s own.
Narcissa gave a small smile. “Oh good, darling. You’ve found someone it fits. I do hope some of the grandchildren will have her hair.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Well, there you have it. I must apologize for the length of time it took to get this chapter out. I’m terribly sorry; you are all wonderful and I appreciate your support so much. As school has started for me and I am quite busy these days, it might be a few weeks before the next update, but never fear!! Just remember I have not abandoned this story and hopefully I will get a few moments between now and (US) Thanksgiving. Your wonderful reviews help keep me going and remind me to write. (The guilt you inflict helps, too. *blush*)
As always, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this latest chapter!
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