The Shotgun Bride
Chapter Twenty-One: Family Tradition
"What do you think?" Ginny asked, holding out a calico kitten.
"Do we really need a cat?" Draco replied, watching as the kitten mewled and clawed at Ginny.
"Yes!" Ginny insisted, putting the calico back in the cardboard box and fishing out a white kitten. "What about this one?"
"You're just trying to piss of Aunt Trixie," Draco accused, not giving the kitten a second glance. "And you know she could raise our rent."
"She won't care," Ginny said carelessly.
"Plus, I refuse to have a white cat. It isn't manly," Draco said, glaring at the cute kitten. "Where are the kind that kick the other cat's asses?"
Ginny glared, and put the kitten down. "They're kittens, Draco, they don't fight."
As if on cue, two of the kittens began to fight over the prime corner of the box.
Draco said, "We don't need one of these, do we?"
Ginny pouted, but started walking away from the box and into Wal-Mart. "I thought it would be fun to have our very own pet."
Draco realized that he would come off looking much better if he gave in now. "I think Marcus said something about trying to get rid of some kittens."
Ginny brightened. "You mean, you want a cat too?"
"Well," Draco said.
Ginny enthusiastically hugged him as though he had joyously exclaimed, "Of course I do, love of my life!"
"What are we going to name it?" Ginny asked. "I like the name Fluffles."
Draco imagined himself standing on the doorstep in his underwear yelling, "Fluffles? Where are you, Fluffles?" He shook his head. "Not Fluffles. How about we wait until we actually have the cat to name it?"
Ginny replied, "What, are you going to wait until we have the baby before picking out a name for it? It'll be walking around before you finally say, 'Gee, I think we should name the kid Jamie?'"
"I wouldn't name my kid Jamie," replied Draco. "He'd be beat up in school."
Ginny sighed and said, "I think we should name the baby Ariel. Or Belle. Or Jasmine."
Draco blinked. "Have you been watching Disney movies all day again? And besides, our son is not going to be named Jasmine."
"And what do you think is a good name?" replied Ginny.
"Jack," replied Draco, completely off the cuff. "There's still plenty of time for me to come up with a name."
"You?" Ginny asked.
"Yeah. Remember our agreement?" Draco said. "If it's a boy, which it will be, I name him."
"When it's a girl, I'm going to name her Ariel Jasmine," Ginny replied.
Draco could see this was going nowhere good for him so he rapidly decided to change the subject. "When do you want to get the cat?"
Two hours later, Ginny happily bouncing into their room, clutching a medium sized grey kitten.
"Now, we have to pick a name!" she said, setting the cat on their bed.
After several minutes of bickering, threats and power plays, Ginny had an IOU for a new pair of shoes and the kitten was dubbed Bocephus.
A door opened upstairs, and Ginny said, "I'm going to go show off Bocephus!"
Draco trailed up the stairs after her, wanting to see the expression on Aunt Trixie's face when she realized that there would be a kitten living in her house.
"Bellatrix!" Ginny exclaimed, startling the dark-haired woman. "Isn't he adorable?"
Bellatrix eyed the kitten. The kitten mewled at her. "I thought I said no cats."
"Oh, I know you were just kidding," Ginny said. "No one honestly doesn't want a kitten."
"What are you calling it?" Bellatrix asked, reaching out and petting the kitten tentatively.
"Bocephus," replied Ginny.
"Well," said Bellatrix, "at least you named it something decent."
Ginny set down the cat as the phone rang. "I'll get it," she said.
"Do you think Mom just sprang this on us so we wouldn't run again?" Ginny asked.
"Probably. We could still make it out of town before they noticed, you know," Draco replied.
"Knowing that they know us, I wouldn't be surprised if I have a brother stationed on every road out of town," said Ginny. "It'll be easiest if we just go, and then come up with an excuse to escape as soon as things get squirrelly."
"Because things are going to get real squirrelly," agreed Draco.
"Why oh why did Mom decide that she needed to throw us a wedding dinner?" Ginny wailed. "And everyone's going to be there, and that always ends badly. Always!"
Draco darted his eyes, and saw that his wife was indeed beginning to tear up. "It'll be fine, Gin," he said desperately. The last thing he needed was to show up at the Weasley zoo with a tearful bride. "Everyone did okay at the barbeque, and it's a celebration for you!"
"That's true..." Ginny said.
"And we can always take off," Draco said. "Like you suggested."
"I guess," Ginny acquiesced. "And Mom did say she had a surprise for me..."
Draco was relieved that Ginny, at least, was calmed down, as they were rapidly approaching the Weasley home, where certain doom was awaiting. They drove up to the house, and went directly to the backyard, where masses of redheads and a few blonds were gathered.
"Finally they decide to arrive!"
Draco wanted to groan as his mother's voice was the first to reach him. She was standing between Molly and Jo. He knew that he should go and greet his mother and his in-laws, and his mother probably wanted him to thank Molly for throwing this supposed celebration, but really, standing near the grill and risking both his hair and good looks to third degree burns sounded much more enjoyable. At least over there he could see his father, who was mostly on his side, and there was fire to be made. He was an adult now, married with a baby on the way, maybe he would finally get to light the grill...
Ginny dragged him towards the mothers.
Maybe he'd just have his own damn barbeque, and light the grill ten times if it struck his fancy. He should leave now and do that. His mother would understand the need to show his manhood by burning meat over flames.
"I've been here fifteen minutes already," said his mother. "Where have you been?"
Maybe she wouldn't understand.
"Trying to get here?" he said. Years of experience made him make the statement a question, because then he was just being a dumbass instead of a smartass, which by his mother's reckoning was much more disrespectful and therefore was much more likely to earn him a wallop upside the head. He really didn't want to have the collective Weasley clan see his mother wallop him. His pride and reputation would never recover.
"I'm sure," replied his mother tartly.
Mrs. Weasley eyed them both. "Why are you two late?" she said suspiciously. "I do hope you both remember that your honeymoon is over."
Draco resisted the urge to groan and cover his face with his hands. He was not a sissy boy. He could handle embarrassment. He schooled his features not to react, other than the slightest hint of aggravation. Ginny, on the other hand, snapped, "Mom!"
"Really, Molly," said Jo. "They aren't rabbits. Or like you were when you were a newlywed. I remember finding you and Arthur going at it in the bathroom at a dinner we had for you two after your wedding." She turned to Narcissa. "She never did have any class."
Narcissa raised an eyebrow coolly, and said, "Whereas you simply ooze class."
Jo looked affronted. It was obvious she had expected an ally in Narcissa, and to be shot down so completely startled her.
"Anyway, dear," Molly said, glancing at her mother as though she expected her to interrupt at any moment, "I told you I had a surprise for you."
"You did," Ginny said nervously.
Molly beamed, and said, "Here it is!" and handed Ginny a small envelope. Ginny felt a surge of hope. Maybe it was money! Maybe it was a gift certificate to the Tractor Supply Co. Maybe it was... a recipe?
She stared at the index card she had just pulled out of the envelope. It was a recipe for biscuits and gravy.
"Um, thanks Mom," she said.
"You know that's my top secret recipe, and I felt it was time to pass it onto you!" Molly said. "My little girl's all grown up!"
Ginny was enveloped in a big hug, feeling vaguely disappointed and as though she had been tricked into coming. She needed a new belt. She needed money. She didn't need a recipe.
By the time she had been released from her mother's bear hug, Draco had wandered off towards the crowd of Weasley brothers, no doubt looking for trouble to keep himself from becoming bored, and her mother was looking at her expectantly, as though she expected her to have some sort of big speech over the recipe.
"I got a kitten," Ginny said, and it suitably distracted the matriarchs from talking about recipes, until the jeering from where the boys stood lead them to see what the fuss was all about.
Meanwhile, Draco had indeed wandered off and gotten into trouble. The hotheaded Weasley brothers had clumped around him when he had gone off in search of something to drink, and were now apparently trying to include him within their fold while still trying to prove themselves better than he was.
"You wanna race?" puffed Ron.
"I would if I thought there was any competition," replied Draco, glancing around.
The Weasley boys jeered. Lucius smirked superiorly. The women collectively rolled their eyes.
Ron cast a glance at the driveway area, where Draco's Chevelle sat gleaming next to the rusted Ford pickup that served as the main means of transportation for the Weasley boys. They had other cars, but none were quite up to the task of starting, much less running. It was painfully obvious who would win the race, before it even started.
"A lawnmower race!" exclaimed Ron quickly.
"Where?" Draco asked, looking around for racing lawnmowers. Ron misinterpreted this as an agreement to a lawnmower race, and pointed to a clearing where a circle of dirt had been worn by generations of Weasleys racing small motorized vehicles.
Draco knew he was trapped. He couldn't back out now, he'd look like a coward. He would have to bear the indignity of racing lawnmowers with a Weasley. Maybe no one would mention this again if he beat Ron badly enough. How hard could a lawnmower really be to handle, after all?
Ten minutes later, straddling a blue lawnmower named Big Bertha, Draco wished that he had just taken the coward's way out.
"You ready to rock 'n roll?" Ron exclaimed from his perch atop Rockin' Rhonda the red lawnmower.
"I guess," Draco said, staring hard at the shifter and hoping that it worked the usual way. He gripped the wheel with one hand, felt the tricked out engine vibrate beneath him and prepared to make Ron eat his dust.
"Okay, first one around the track twice wins," announced Bill from beside the duct-tape start line.
Fleur stepped up next to Bill and held out a checkered flag tied to a stick. "On your mark," she said breathily. "Get set. GO!" She waved the flag and wiggled her bottom.
Draco went. In fact, he went a lot faster than he expected and nearly slid off the seat, momentarily, inexplicably wondering if maybe safety gear might have been a good thing to have. It was too late to turn back, so he jammed at the accelerator, trying to edge in front of the obviously more experienced redhead at the helm of the red lawnmower.
Draco could hear the yells of their audience as he concentrated on trying to edge Ron off the track, into the waist-high tumble of grass and weeds that lined the track. If he was lucky Ron would get tangled in it and he would win by default.
"Run him over!"
"Knock him out of your way!"
"Don't let that ferret beat you!"
He didn't dare risk crashing by looking to find out who had called him a ferret, but after this race was won he planned on finding out who it was, and they would pay. Oh yes, they would pay.
His thoughts were so focused on revenge that he slipped behind, and Ron took advantage to pull ahead. Draco knew that he couldn't lose, so he revved the lawnmower up even more, and slowly started to inch past Ron, pulling to the inside of the track to gain as much ground as possible. As they hit the corner, Draco's lawnmower pulled alongside Ron's. and as they pulled onto the home stretch they were neck in neck.
"Ha!" Ron cheered prematurely as he pulled ahead of Draco.
Draco put the hammer down and urged his lawnmower to move faster, frustrated that Ron was in danger of winning.
"Argh!" Ron suddenly yelled as a large branch appeared in his path. Draco caught a glimpse of red hair and shapely leg as the thrower of the branch hurried back to join the rest of the audience. Ron's lawnmower hit the branch, bounced, and Ron went flying. Draco steered around the still- moving mower and crossed the finish line triumphantly.
"No fair," mumbled Ron as he picked himself off the ground. A few pebbles were embedded in his cheek and it looked as though he had landed nose-first.
"What's not fair?" Draco asked. "I won."
"There was a branch!" Ron protested.
"And you hit it, and did that awesome nosedive into the ground. I saw," Draco said calmly.
"Exactly! There was interference!" yelled Ron, waving his hands around his head crazy-like.
"I'm not racing you again," Draco said. "No one mentioned anything about interference before the race."
Ron pouted and went to be comforted and get the gravel removed from his face by his mother.
Draco meandered over to his wife, who grinned at him. "Nice job," he said.
"I think I'm supposed to say that to you," Ginny replied.
"It's time to dig in!" someone yelled.
"You up to eating?" Draco asked, putting his arm around Ginny and heading towards the tables.
"I think so," she replied. "Just nothing with mayo."
He let her pick the seats, and was happy to see she chose the seats near his parents, and far away from her mamaw. Bill sat across from them with Fleur, who was chattering away in a broken mix of English and French.
"Is she Canadian?" Draco asked in a whisper. Some Canadians spoke French. He'd seen that on Conan.
"She's Cajun," whispered Ginny.
"Oh," Draco replied. "Like Gambit."
Ginny gave him an alarmed look. "Please don't start talking about comic books."
The stragglers were finally arriving at the table. Harry Potter sat down next to Bill, and a few seats down Severus Snape took the chair next to Lucius.
"What's he doing here?" Ginny whispered.
"I guess Mom invited him," replied Draco. Snape was widely acknowledged as a slimeball - he taught Chemistry at Slytherin, and was infamous for doing outside 'experiments' that yielded a variety of illegal substances. He wore his greasy hair in a slicked-back ponytail, and had what was supposedly artful facial hair that mostly just looked like he had shaved in the dark.
"You!" declared Harry Potter dramatically upon seeing Snape.
"What is the orphaned brat doing here?" asked Snape in a voice like lard over polyester.
"Gah!" Harry yelled, and threw a chicken wing at Snape. The wing bounced off Snape's forehead, leaving a greasy smear of sauce, and flew across the table (as wings are wont to do) to land in Lucius's hair.
Ginny was watching the scene with wide eyes, wondering which way to leap when Lucius exploded. He was awfully picky about his hair.
Draco was wondering what, exactly, had gone down between Snape and Harry to incite chicken tossing. He leaned over and asked Ginny.
"You didn't hear about that time when Dumbledore made Snape teach Harry squirrel hunting?" she asked.
"No," Draco replied.
"Well, Snape took Harry out, and Harry was awful at it... couldn't aim and didn't have the patience to wait for squirrels to show up. So Harry finally thought he saw one, so he shot at it and totally hit Snape instead!"
Draco snickered. "Where at?"
Ginny grinned. "On the butt, of course. Rumor has it Snape had to use a pink inflatable donut for weeks."
"So why does Harry hate Snape so badly then?" Draco asked.
"Something or another to do with his godfather and unfairness. I'm really not all that clear on it," Ginny replied.
Meanwhile, Lucius had picked the bits of chicken wing out of his blond tresses, and was staring at them with a distinctly disbelieving air. "Whose wing is this?" he finally asked.
Harry studiously stared down at the table.
"His," contributed several voices, fingers pointing towards Harry.
He looked up, betrayed, but quickly saw that he was greatly outnumbered so accepted blame with all the grace of a newborn colt. "Nuh-uh!"
"You threw it," offered Fleur. She turned to Lucius. "He threw like a little girl. I believe he is having a spat with the greasy homme over there."
"It isn't a spat!" snapped Harry, flustered and angry. "He mocked my dead parents!"
If looks could kill, the one Lucius was shooting at Harry would have knocked him, his unborn descendants and his ancestors dead in an instant.
"Your dead parents deserve mocking!" cried Snape.
"This is embarrassing," Narcissa said.
"Want to sneak away?" Draco whispered.
"Can't. Mom's watching us. She knows we're likely to bolt." Ginny watched as Lucius furiously patted at the sauce in his hair with a paper towel. "Is your dad normally that color?"
They watched with interest as Harry slunk down further and further in his metal folding chair.
"Not usually," Draco said. "Actually, the last time I saw him that color he had just shut the hood of his El Camino on his hand."
"What happened then?"
"Well, let's just say that afterwards he had to go buy a new hood," Draco replied.
Lucius turned his glare away from the hair he could see and turned in on Harry.
The majority of the Weasleys had thus far not realized that a potentially cataclysmic event was happening, but when Harry suddenly hopped up, tipping over his Mountain Dew in the process, and yelled, "Bye!" everyone turned and stared.
"Iz he normally so... meek?" Fleur asked.
"What'd we miss?" asked Ron, watching his best friend retreat. No one answered, as everyone was too concerned with griping.
"What a temperamental brat," Snape insisted. He turned to Narcissa. "Did you see him throw that wing at me?"
"I saw it hit Lucius," Narcissa offered. She patted her husband's arm. "It was just chicken, dear, you'll be fine. You've already scared the child away, nothing more to do now."
"Man, I've got Mountain Dew all over me," Bill said, staring at the elbow he had just stuck in the large puddle that formed across the table. "I'm going to be sticky!"
"What happened?" insisted Ron.
"You know," Ginny whispered, "on second thought, I think we could get away with sneaking away. They'll think we're just getting it on somewhere."
Draco peered around, seeing his father arguing with Arthur, his mother getting snippy with Jo, the Weasley boys arguing amongst themselves with Molly attempting to referee and Snape scowling as Fleur attempted to give him beauty hints.
"Let's go," Draco said. The kinfolk wouldn't notice that they were gone for a good few minutes, and by that time they would be long gone. They both quickly left the table, and were in the Chevelle and driving off into the sunset within moments.
Ginny yawned, and cuddled closer to Draco. "This is nice," she mumbled lazily.
Draco nodded, continuing to toy with the hem of the t-shirt she had worn to bed. He edged it up higher until both her pale blue panties and the butterfly tattoo on her hip were visible. He traced it idly before asking, "When'd you get this?"
"A while back," Ginny replied.
"Why'd you pick the butterfly?" Draco asked.
Ginny shrugged. "I thought it was cute. Seamus actually pointed it out, and I thought it was the prettiest of the ones they offered."
Draco's fingers stilled and he stiffened. "Seamus Finnigan picked out your tattoo?"
"Well, he didn't tell me which one to get, he just suggested it," Ginny said defensively. "I was the one who decided on it."
Draco scowled. "Still," he said.
Ginny rolled her eyes. "So, how did you pick out your tattoo?" she asked, jabbing a finger at the black dragon sprawled across his shoulder blade.
"I picked it out all by myself, that's for sure," he said.
"No one suggested anything to do with it?"
"No," he said stoutly. "Well, pretty much."
"Pretty much?" Ginny said, latching onto the phrase like a pit bull on a t-bone. "Someone did tell you to get that one!"
"No, Pansy just said I should get a dragon, and I thought it was a good idea...." Draco argued weakly.
"That slut picked out this?" Ginny snapped, poking at the tattoo roughly.
"Not that one specifically, unlike yours," Draco replied, shifting so that the tattoo was flat against the bed. All the poking was really making his shoulder a bit sore.
They glared at each other for a few long moments before the ridiculousness of the situation dawned on them.
"Are we really mad at each other over the exact same thing?" Ginny said, smiling slightly. "I thought you had to be married at least a year before we got to argue like an old married couple."
"Apparently not," Draco said. He gave her a wolfish grin. "I love you, Peaches."
"I love you, too," Ginny replied. "You know, It's really a bit early for bed."
Draco looked at the clock. The glowing numerals told him it was just past two in the morning. "It is," he agreed.
"We should go for a ride," Ginny suggested. "Just like old times!"
"Old times? You mean, a month ago," Draco replied.
"Yep," Ginny said enthusiastically. "Come on!"
It was deep in the woods. Trees loomed, roads snaked, and a car was parked on a dead end road well off the beaten path. The late sixties era muscle car had its engine turned off and was rocking slightly. The windows were fogged up, and the faintest hint of figures could be seen moving in the backseat.
"Oh, Draco," came a cry from inside the car.
Final AN: Thanks to everyone who has taken time to review! I truly hope everyone enjoyed reading this story, as it was a blast to write. I welcome any comments/suggestions/feedback, either in review form or you can drop me a line at nokomiss at gmail . com. There will be continuing adventures in the SB universe, for anyone interested. I'll mention all updates on that in my livejournal (my username is Nokomis305). Thanks for reading!