Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters you may recognize from the wonderful world of Harry Potter, they all belong to the revered JK Rowling; I just like to play with them a little.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

UNFORESEEN CONSEQUENCES

A distant movement in the sky garnered Molly Weasley's attention as she stood by her kitchen window. The matriarch frowned, as what appeared to be a large box, surrounded by no less than six enormous owls, floated into her yard. She wandered to the back door to find the birds waiting on top of the box.

"Just a moment," Molly instructed the owls, as she retreated into the kitchen to retrieve the jar of owl treats she kept at hand. "Now, just one each," she ordered as she returned.

The first bird — the largest — snapped at her fingers as the treat was offered. Molly tutted crossly, but continued rewarding the other birds, and when the last one had received a snack, they took flight together, leaving the box with her.

"I wonder who this is from," Molly pondered aloud, as she picked up the parcel and walked inside.

She placed the box on the worn kitchen table and removed the envelope that was attached to the top. The moment she turned it over she recognized the Malfoy crest embedded into the wax seal. A smile instantly lit up her features and thoughts of what might be in the box entertained her mind, as she tore open the envelope.

Her eyes, which had been sparkling with excitement, grew large as they first scanned the letter Draco had penned, and then the one her sons had sent her grandson. Fury sent color flooding into her face. With the letters still clutched in her hand she strode across the kitchen to the hearth. After taking a handful of silvery Floo powder, she stepped into the space and threw the Floo powder to the ground with more force than was truly necessary. As emerald green flames erupted around her feet she demanded to be transported to Malfoy Manor.

"Hello," Molly called as she stepped into a parlor at her daughter's home. "Hello! Is anyone home?"

A servant suddenly Apparated into the room.

"Oh, dear!" Molly's hand flew to her chest. "You really should give people some warning before doing that."

"Master is not expecting any visitors," the servant said sternly.

"Where can I find Ginny?" Molly demanded.

"Mistress is not to be disturbed," the servant answered.

Molly sighed impatiently. "Where is Draco? And don't you dare tell me—"

"Master is not to be disturbed."

"Tell him Molly Weasley is here," Molly ordered in a tone that brokered no argument.

"Master is not—"

"If you don't tell him now, I'll search the house myself," Molly threatened.

"Ippy will alert Master. Molly Weasley will stay here," Ippy instructed firmly.

The house elf disappeared, obviously confident that the orders he'd issued would be obeyed. Molly folded her arms over her chest and tapped her foot impatiently while she waited. There were chairs in the parlor, but she was too anxious to relax. All she wanted to do was see her daughter.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Master be forgiving the intrusion," Ippy squeaked as he appeared at Draco's feet.

"What is it?" Draco snapped.

"Molly Weasley is in the visitors' parlor. She is demanding—"

"Yes, yes— all right." Draco waved his hand impatiently. This was one complication he had foolishly overlooked, but seemed obvious now that his mother-in-law had been announced. "I'll see to her. Return to your duties."

"It's not like Mum to drop over unannounced," Ginny said with a frown. "I wonder what she wants."

Draco's eyes dropped to the floor, and a little color crept into his cheeks.

"Draco, what did you do?"

"You know that box of goodies your brothers so generously gifted Drake?" Draco started.

"Yes," Ginny answered slowly.

"I sent it to your mother and asked her to return it to them when she saw them next," Draco continued with a hint of a smirk.

"And I suppose you told her that I was injured?"

"I could have mentioned it," Draco admitted with faux airiness.

"That explains why she's here," Ginny said simply. "I think you'd better go and get her, or she'll be tearing through the house looking for me soon."

"Yes, I suppose so," Draco agreed reluctantly. "You stay here and rest."

"Just go," Ginny replied impatiently.

As he left the room Draco cursed himself for not foreseeing the arrival of his mother-in-law after the delivery of the parcel. Of course, Molly would put Ginny first and the twins' punishment later. Why he had not thought of this was very irritating. Small details like this were his forte, but in his haste he had become careless. His smugness over his ingenuity was about to be punished with Molly's presence.

He paused at the top of the staircase to compose his thoughts. There was no way he could greet his mother-in-law while still berating himself — she would see that right away and pounce on him, as if he had a weakness. With one last strong expletive muttered under his breath, he started his descent of the staircase.

Even before he entered the visitors' parlor he could hear his mother-in-law pacing the floor — a sure sign that she was agitated. He took a deep breath and braced himself for whatever might come as he crossed the threshold.

"Molly, good of you to come," Draco intoned in what he hoped was a genuine voice. "Though it was hardly necessary."

"Oh, Draco," Molly almost shrieked as she swooped in to kiss his cheek. "Where is she? How bad is the burn?"

"She's resting in our private sitting room," Draco answered calmly. "Healer Wilson has examined the burn and is confident it will heal without scarring. Ellen also examined her and declared her fit and healthy, apart from the burn."

"I can't believe Fred and George could be this foolish!"

Draco opened his mouth to protest when he thought she might defend her sons.

"When I get my hands on them," Molly finished with a growl, as she started out of the parlor.

He pinched the bridge of his nose briefly and heaved a silent sigh. It was going to be a long afternoon, if he didn't somehow convince Molly she didn't need to be here. After a few seconds, Draco followed his mother-in-law slowly. As she mounted the staircase, he picked up his pace. The last thing he needed was his mother-in-law wandering around the house unsupervised. Merlin only knew what she'd poke her nose into if that were to happen.

"This way, Molly," Draco said as they reached the landing.

"Where are the children?" Molly asked, looking around, as if expecting them to suddenly appear.

"They're confined to their bedrooms for now," Draco answered gravely.

Molly nodded and sighed disappointedly.

"You think they shouldn't be punished," Draco observed.

"No, they should be punished," Molly uttered. "Just keep in mind that Fred and George are the—"

"I know, but they have to learn not to use anything their uncles send them." Draco took a quick sideways glance at Molly in an effort to gauge her reaction. Patience seemed to be her mask at the moment, so he felt safe to push forward. "The fact is, they've both been told, on numerous occasions, not to trust anything their uncles might send them."

"Well, I'll certainly be having a word with Fred and George," Molly said determinedly.

Draco smirked. "I was counting on it," he mumbled under his breath. "I fully intend on having a word to them as well, but my place is with my family right now, so that will have to wait until I feel I can leave them for a time," he said seriously.

"Of course," Molly agreed.

"The entire incident has been very disappointing, but for the moment my main concern is Ginny," Draco continued. "The burn to her hand is quite nasty."

"Oh, dear," Molly uttered as her hand flew to her chest dramatically.

The coppery taste of blood filled Draco's mouth as he bit down hard on his tongue. It was only a small punishment, but it was all he could afford himself right now. Why he had made any reference to the severity of the burn Ginny had suffered was quite beyond him, especially when all he wanted to do was to get rid of his mother-in-law. She was sure not to go anywhere now, because Ginny would need help with everything. He could hear Molly saying so already.

"We'll have to see what we can do to make her more comfortable," Molly said resolutely.

"Healer Wilson has—"

"Healers!" Molly scoffed with a wave of her hand. "What do they know?"

Draco was tempted to sink his teeth into his tongue again, but resisted the urge — he might need to later, and he didn't want blood loss to become a concern. The urge to remind Molly what the very expensive Healers at St. Mungo's did for her recently was almost too much to deny, but he held back and allowed her to believe what she would.

"You should have told me sooner… I could have—"

"I had Ellen check Ginny and the baby as well," Draco butted in firmly. "She put herself in a substantial amount of danger."

"Danger?"

"Yes, she went into the classroom while the fireworks were active. I just wanted to make certain the only injury she sustained was the burn to her hand."

Molly stopped walking and turned to Draco. "I think you should tell me the full story."

"I assure you, it would serve no purpose," Draco said. "As I told you before, my only concern now is Ginny's comfort."

"Draco," Molly growled in a tone that brokered no argument. "You will tell me exactly what happened."

He tried not to cringe as he stood before her. Molly Weasley was formidable when she was in this mood and quite capable of making him feel like a naughty schoolboy. "Very well," he agreed, while kicking himself for bringing the incident up again.

It only took five minutes to relay the events of the morning and another five minutes to calm his mother-in-law down enough, so they could continue to the parlor where Ginny was waiting. In that time, Draco thanked whoever might be listening for giving him the sense to give her the abridged version, without all the gory details. Then, just for a few seconds, he felt a little guilty about sending the parcel to Molly, but it passed. However, he did worry that the horrid feeling might return if she really took the lives of Fred and George.

"Oh, Ginny!" Molly cried as she burst into the parlor.

Draco rolled his eyes behind his mother-in-law's back and pulled a face at his wife, who had startled when her mother's voice ripped her from a nap.

"Mum, what are you doing here?" Ginny asked in a sleepy voice.

"I had to come!" Molly expressed as she made herself comfortable next to her daughter. "You need help."

"I'm fine, Mum, really," Ginny insisted. "Healer Wilson has—"

"Did he apply any burn-healing paste?" Molly interrupted.

"I don't think so," Ginny muttered uncertainly. "I'm not really sure."

"Let me have a look," Molly ordered.

"Healer Wilson instructed her to leave the dressing alone for now," Draco cut in evenly.

Molly snorted derisively and carefully picked up her daughter's hand.

"Mum, it might be a good idea to just leave it for now," Ginny tried. "It is pretty sore."

"If he didn't apply burn-healing paste, we need to do that as soon as possible," Molly argued.

"I said I wasn't sure," Ginny reiterated. "He could have. I wasn't watching what he was doing."

"I'll just have a peek under the dressing," Molly said. "If he did, I'll be able to see it easily."

"Mum—"

"Just hold still, dear," Molly requested.

Draco tensed, as his wife's entire body stiffened. He could see the color draining from her face, and although she didn't show her pain in her expression, her eyes could tell no lies. "Molly, I really think—"

"Ah, there it is! Just a smidge of orange," Molly declared. "He really ought to have used a lot more."

"It's probably dissolved into her skin," Draco suggested.

"We need some more then," Molly stated firmly.

"No." Draco cringed when he heard how harsh his tone sounded; he hadn't meant for the word to come out quite so brutally, but it was too late to take it back, especially as his mother-in-law was now looking at him like she was trying to decide which limb to tear from his body first for talking back. "It's not that we don't appreciate your concern, Molly, but Ginny's not feeling well and to keep upsetting her injury like that isn't helping."

"Her burn will take twice as long to heal if it's not cared for properly," Molly pointed out.

"I just feel she's had enough for one day," Draco tried a tad weakly. "Perhaps you could check on her tomorrow?"

It was difficult not to wither under the Weasley matriarch's stare. Draco held his ground, but only just, and he couldn't meet the older woman's eyes. His regret at sending the package was overwhelming at the moment; it was a foolish idea that he didn't fully think through, and now he was definitely going to be punished for said idiocy.

"Or you could be here when Healer Wilson examines Ginny's hand next?" Draco added halfheartedly.

"Mum, I really have had enough prodding for one day," Ginny said in a tone that belied her pale complexion. "The pain relief potion he gave me is making me want to sleep."

"Rest is very important too," Molly conceded.

"How about we tuck you into bed?" Draco suggested, grasping the opportunity to remove his wife from her mother's clutches. "You'll rest a lot better if you're comfortable."

"I'm fine here for now," Ginny responded.

"Draco's right, dear," Molly clucked. "You should be in bed where you can rest properly."

Draco sent Ginny a pointed look over Molly's shoulder. He hoped she would interpret his message accurately and it would lead to a favorable outcome.

"I really—" Ginny faltered, her brow furrowing as she found her husband's eyes. "Maybe I should lie down," she finished hesitantly.

"I'll help you into bed," Draco offered quickly. "Molly, can I arrange some tea for you?"

"That's all right, dear," Molly answered as she stood up. "Ginny will need some help changing her clothes."

"Mum, I can manage," Ginny said wearily.

"Not with one hand you can't," Molly replied firmly.

"I can—" Draco stopped abruptly. Even though they were married, it seemed inappropriate to suggest that he was capable of undressing Ginny to her mother, of all people. "A servant… I'll summon Millie to help."

"Will both of you please stop fussing," Ginny expressed with frustration clearly evident in her tone. "I am quite capable of getting myself into bed, thank you."

Molly sat back down, her hands clutched in her lap and her lips pursed. "Very well, dear."

"Cup of tea, Molly?" Draco offered again, trying mightily to hide the smirk wanting to show itself. His mother-in-law obviously didn't like being told her assistance wasn't required and, for some unbeknownst reason, the thought tickled him.

"No, thank you, Draco," Molly said strongly. "If Ginny doesn't need my help, I might head home."

Draco nodded his acknowledgement, not trusting himself to speak lest his overwhelming joy be conveyed on an inappropriate level.

"Mum, I'm fine," Ginny assured her. "Go home and do what you have to. Dad will want his dinner when he gets home from work."

"If you need any help with anything, I don't care what time of day—"

"You'll be the first to know," Ginny promised.

"I'll escort you downstairs, Molly," Draco said before turning to his wife. "I want you in bed before I return."

Ginny smiled tightly at Draco, but didn't make any promises.

"Take care of yourself, dear," Molly instructed Ginny. "I'll pop in tomorrow to check on you."

"Thank you for coming, Mum," Ginny intoned as genuinely as she could. "I'm sorry I'm so tired, but—"

"No need to apologize." Molly waved off her daughter's words. "Just get some rest, so you heal quickly."

Ginny accepted a light kiss on her cheek and quick hug from her mother wordlessly.

"See you tomorrow," Molly promised, as she left the sitting room ahead of Draco.

Just before he stepped out of the sitting room, Draco turned and gave Ginny a wink, along with a cheeky smile.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

A very worried Molly Weasley appeared in the fireplace at the Burrow. So caught up in her concern for her daughter, the grandmother failed to notice the two men standing by her kitchen table.

"Mum, where have you been?" Ron asked.

"Oh, hello, boys," Molly responded, a little startled. "What are you two doing here?"

"We dropped in for some afternoon tea," Ron informed her.

"What's all this?" Harry inquired, pointing to the box on the table.

"Such a mess." Molly shook her head sadly. "Fred and George sent it to Drake, and Drake set off fireworks in the classroom."

Ron sniggered. "I bet Malfoy's furious."

"It's no laughing matter, Ronald," Molly scolded. "Ginny has a nasty burn to her hand thanks to their thoughtlessness."

"She burned her hand?" Harry said with concern.

"Yes." Molly sighed. "She went into the classroom to help the tutor out and the fireworks dived at her."

"Bloody hell," Ron mumbled.

"Language, Ron," Molly snapped. "Draco didn't want to keep the box at home, just in case Drake found it again, so he sent it here for safe keeping, until it can be returned to the twins."

Ron frowned. "Why didn't he just send it back to the shop?"

"He didn't want any of their customers seeing the goods returned. It's not good for business, apparently," Molly explained. "If I were him, I wouldn't have been quite so considerate."

"That was decent of him," Harry muttered.

"Yeah, if you look at it that way." Ron chuckled. "Sending it to Mum is going to cost them a lot more than just a few customers though."

"Well, they shouldn't have sent it to Drake in the first place," Harry pointed out. "Can you imagine the damage—"

"Draco told me that the classroom was a mess. They had to blow out all the windows, so the fireworks could escape before the house caught fire," Molly interrupted. "And their tutor has resigned."

"That was only a matter of time," Harry commented. "She wasn't quite up to handling Drake from what I heard."

"It's not the point," Molly said sharply. "No one should be put in that position, and it's all Fred and George's fault! When I get my hands on them…"

Ron and Harry exchanged amused, yet slightly worried, glances. The twins would be lucky to survive the berating their mother was working herself up to give them, if she didn't calm down before she saw them.

"And to think they actually told Drake not to tell his parents about the package," Molly growled. "They knew what they were doing was wrong!"

"They're not stupid," Ron mumbled.

Harry bit the side of his mouth to stop from laughing aloud. For two very intelligent men, Fred and George could be incredibly stupid at times.

"We might head off, Mum," Ron announced suddenly.

"What about afternoon tea?" Molly asked, obviously remembering their original reason for being at the Burrow.

"Out of time." Ron shrugged nonchalantly. "We were here for a while before you arrived. If we don't get back to the office soon, they'll think something has happened to us."

"Why don't you take something with you? I've got some scones—"

"It's fine, Mum," Ron assured her. "We really are out of time."

Molly stopped halfway to the cupboard. "All right then. Will I see you tonight?"

"Yeah, I'll drop in on the way home," Ron promised. "See you later, Mum."

"I'll see you tonight as well," Harry assured her.

"Good." Molly smiled fondly at the pair as they left the kitchen.

"Where to?" Harry whispered as they entered the yard.

"Leaky Cauldron," Ron returned.

Harry nodded his understanding and turned on the spot, Disapparating away from the Burrow.

Ron threw one last wave and smiled at his mother's face in the kitchen window and followed his partner to their destination.

"Tell me why we're here and not at the Burrow eating scones?" Harry demanded the moment Ron appeared beside him.

"It's only fair that we warn them," Ron started.

"Warn them?" Harry repeated, clearly shocked. "Why would we warn them? They deserve everything they're going to get and then some. Do I need to remind you that the parcel was sent to my godson?"

"All right, calm down." Ron frowned heavily. "It just doesn't seem right—They're going to walk into a deadly trap—"

"Who is?"

"Bill, what are you doing here?" Harry asked.

"Took an early mark from work and thought I'd have a mead or two before heading home," Bill answered. "So, who's walking into a deadly trap?"

"Fred and George," Ron replied miserably.

Bill rolled his eyes. "What did they do this time?"

"Sent Drake a package," Harry said gravely.

"Need I ask what the package contained?" Bill muttered.

"Fireworks," Ron supplied.

"What?" Bill's eyes opened wide and his face flushed with anger.

"Drake set them off in the classroom and Ginny's got a burn on her hand," Ron continued.

"Bloody hell," Bill mumbled. "So Draco's out for blood then?"

"Don't know." Ron shrugged and frowned. "Mum is though. Draco sent the package to her."

Bill's lips started to twitch and his eyes were suddenly dancing with laughter. "Crafty bastard."

"Ron thinks we ought to warn the twins," Harry said.

"Oh no, we're not warning them," Bill advised. "But we do want to make sure we're there when they show up."

"But it's not fair—They'd warn us—"

"They would not," Harry scoffed. "They'd sell tickets and make sure they had front row seats to our humiliation."

"Yeah, but this isn't going to be just humiliation; it's going to be a flaying," Ron argued.

Bill smirked. "All the more entertaining."

"Maybe we should sell tickets," Harry pondered.

"We should probably check in on Ginny," Bill muttered, more to himself than anyone else. "Draco's got to be seething."

Ron and Harry both made noncommittal sounds in the back of their throats. While they agreed, neither was willing to volunteer to take the trip to Wiltshire to check on injuries, especially while tempers were likely to be in play.

"Right," Bill expressed commandingly. "You two let Charlie and Percy know what's happened, and tell them to be at the Burrow at six o'clock. I'll check on the victims and make sure the twins are at the Burrow not long after that."

"You're going to deliver them to Mum?" Ron asked, clearly horrified.

"Ron, they did wrong, very wrong this time. Beau's a year older than Drake… What if they sent him a package like that? I don't have the money or resources Draco has to make repairs to the cottage. They endangered—"

"All right, I get it," Ron butted in, holding his hands up in surrender.

"Good," Bill answered. "Harry, make sure they understand the seriousness of the situation, because I don't trust this twit."

"I will," Harry promised. "How are you going to get the twins to the Burrow? They'll be suspicious if you're too upfront about it."

"Don't worry about that; it's a minor detail." Bill grinned evilly at the two Aurors.

"I think it's better we don't know," Harry uttered dubiously.

"Definitely," Bill agreed. "So, I'll see you two at the Burrow?"

"Wouldn't miss it for the world," Harry replied.

"Yeah, I'll be there, but just so you know, my heart isn't in it," Ron clarified miserably.

"Don't worry, little brother, once the action starts your heart will be cheering Mum on," Bill assured him with a hearty slap on the back. "Well, I've got people to see and deviants to set up. See you tonight."

Ron and Harry watched Bill Weasley stroll out of the pub with an air of confidence.

"What now?" Ron asked, turning to Harry.

"We go back to the Ministry and see if we can find Percy, and contact Charlie. I wonder if we can get an urgent message to him while he's at work?"

"Depends on what he's doing, I suppose," Ron muttered. "This isn't really urgent."

"You still want to warn the twins, don't you?" Harry asked.

"It just doesn't seem fair," Ron whined.

"Let Bill deal with them," Harry advised. "Knowing those two, they won't fall for his trap to get them to the Burrow anyway. They'll be expecting something."

"Yeah, you're right," Ron said, sounding a lot more confident. "They're not stupid."

"Right," Harry agreed with a sly smirk.

"And going to Mum's tonight means we'll get a decent meal," Ron added happily.

"Absolutely," Harry concurred amusedly.

"I guess we'd better get back to the Ministry then," Ron muttered.

"I'll meet you there," Harry said, as he turned on the spot.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Bill strolled down Diagon Alley as if he hadn't a care in the world. A plan to get his younger twin brothers to their parents' home this evening was already brewing in his head, and as he walked, he was working out any kinks that might arise, so he was ready for anything. The gaudy exterior of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes loomed in front of him, and he took a moment to smile to himself before he entered the chaotic store.

It was, as usual, packed to capacity with customers and he could hear his brothers' voices booming over the crowds of shoppers, inviting people to try something or tempting someone else to make a purchase. They really were good at what they did.

"They're on special! Ten for a Galleon!"

"Your friends are going to love these!"

"Bill!" Fred exclaimed.

"What brings you to our world?" George asked, not bothering to lower his voice.

"I come bearing an invitation to dinner this evening," Bill announced.

The twins exchanged a glance.

"Oh?" Fred prompted.

"Well, sort of an invitation," Bill clarified. "I got off work early today, so I thought I'd drop in on Mum… See if she would give me some lunch, you know?"

"Yeah," George replied.

"She seemed really down in the dumps… Lonely," Bill continued. "So I got to thinking, what if we all just turned up for dinner?"

"The whole lot of us?" George asked.

"No, just us boys," Bill said. "I did ask Ginny, but she has some charity thing tonight that she can't get out of."

"What about Draco?" Fred inquired.

"I didn't ask him," Bill stated. "I thought it would be nice for Mum if just her boys came for dinner. Make it like the old days when we were all living at home."

The twins exchanged another glance.

"Is there something wrong?" Bill asked.

"No."

"Why would there be anything wrong?"

Bill shook his head and shrugged. "You both seemed a little worried about something, that's all."

"Since when do we worry about things?"

The oldest Weasley brother chuckled humorously. "That was a bit stupid, wasn't it? So, can I count you in for dinner?"

"Absolutely," Fred declared.

"Wouldn't miss it for anything!" George agreed.

"Great." Bill beamed at them.

"How is Ginny?" George inquired casually.

"What he means, is how huge is she getting?" Fred corrected.

"She's doing well… Seems really happy, believe it or not," Bill confirmed with a convincing smile. "Well, I'd best be off. I need to tell Fleur I won't be home for dinner tonight, and you two had better pay your wives the same courtesy."

"Yeah, we'll let them know," Fred uttered. "See you tonight!"

"Six o'clock sharp," Bill informed them. "I want everyone to get there at the same time, so the surprise isn't ruined."

"Not a problem!" George assured him.

As Bill left the store he wondered if Ron had managed to get hold of Percy or Charlie yet, not that it mattered, because the twins would definitely be there and they didn't suspect a thing. He made his way quickly to an Apparition point and headed for his next destination.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Draco narrowed his eyes at the house elf who dared to disturb their peace again. "What?"

"Master be forgiving—"

"Just get on with it," Draco snapped.

"Mister Bill Weasley is wanting a private word," the servant muttered.

He sighed heavily and got to his feet. Word was obviously spreading through the family. "Where is he?"

"He be waiting for Master in the foyer," the servant replied.

"Return to your duties," Draco growled.

"Someone's been tattling," Ginny sang.

"Apparently," Draco drawled. "This won't take long."

"Bill can come up—"

"He probably doesn't want to disturb you, so let's keep it that way," Draco interrupted.

Draco silently berated himself all the way to the staircase. Why he had not foreseen the family bombarding his home with their concerned faces was a mystery to him. After all, he prided himself on reading people and he was certainly aware of how his in-laws reacted to any given situation.

"Bill," Draco called, trying to sound pleased, from the landing.

"I hope I'm not disturbing you, Draco," Bill said as his brother-in-law descended the stairs. "Ron and Harry told me what happened."

A frown crossed Draco's face. "Ron and Harry?"

"Yeah, they'd called in for afternoon tea and found the twins' package. Anyway, Mum arrived home while they were there and… Well, the old girl is not happy."

"I got that impression from her as well," Draco admitted with a smirk.

"Anyway, I just thought I'd let you know, we're having a little gathering at the Burrow tonight."

"Ginny's not really in any condition—"

"We're not inviting the women, if you don't count Mum," Bill cut in. "It'll just be us blokes and we'll get this sorted."

"What sorted?"

"Look, Mum wants a piece of the twins for what they did, but if we don't act fast the twins will avoid her until she calms down a bit, so we need to get them there tonight, which I've arranged."

"The twins are going to be there?" Skeptical didn't begin to cover what Draco was feeling.

Bill nodded and smirked. "They think they're going over for dinner, because Mum's feeling a bit down and lonely."

"That is sneaky," Draco declared.

"So is sending their parcel to Mum," Bill countered.

"I didn't know what else—"

"I wasn't having a go," Bill assured him. "You've the mind of a genius. I just wanted to let you know that we're gathering at six o'clock tonight, in case you want to be there."

"What will happen exactly?"

"The twins won't be able to escape with all of us there, so Mum will be able to have her say. Plus, I want to have a few words to them, so they understand that sending parcels like that to any of the kids is just not on. I'm sure you've got a few things to say to them as well."

"Yeah, but I don't think it's the type of discussion your mother should be present for," Draco pointed out.

Bill chuckled. "Don't worry about Mum. You can say anything to them and she won't be offended."

"It's still not the tone of conversation I'd hold with a woman present," Draco argued.

"Well, it's up to you," Bill said. "So, can I count on you to be there at least?"

Draco pondered the prospect for a few moments. He'd love to get hold of the Weasley twins, but he didn't think the forum was appropriate, because he was likely to be tempted to use language that shouldn't be uttered in front of a woman and his mother-in-law would be very present.

"I promise, I'll hold you back if you want me to," Bill offered, as if he could read Draco's thoughts. "Or I'll jump in and help you if you want to really punish them."

"All right, I'll be there," Draco vowed.

"Six o'clock sharp," Bill instructed. "They've got less chance of escaping if we all arrive at once."

Draco nodded. "Thank you."

"Don't mention it," Bill replied with a wave of his hand. "I shudder to think what would have happened if Beau had of received a similar package."

"Fleur would have been a little more alert to what was going on than what our tutor was," Draco said surely.

"Probably, but the thought still sends chills down my spine," Bill muttered. "I'll see you tonight."

"Okay," Draco uttered as he moved to the front doors.

"You do realize you're going to have to let Mum have her say first, don't you?" Bill inquired with a grin.

"Don't worry, I'm not about to get in her way," Draco answered with a smirk.

Bill's laughter was still echoing through the air after he'd Disapparated from the front steps. As Draco wandered slowly back upstairs he wondered if he was doing the right thing. A private audience with the twins might have served him better.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"You don't have to go," Ginny said almost pleadingly.

"I promised Bill I'd be there," Draco responded flatly.

"It doesn't matter."

"Yes, it does," Draco returned patiently. "I'm a man of my word, and besides I have some things to say to your brothers."

"But you don't want to go," Ginny argued observantly.

"Beside the point," Draco mumbled. "I'm going."

Ginny sighed heavily. "Well, don't say I didn't warn you."

Draco turned and looked at his wife quizzically. "Warn me about what?"

"You won't be able to get a word in edgewise," Ginny informed him. "Mum will tear them apart, then Bill and Charlie will start with Ron and Harry adding the odd comment here and there, and then Percy will get all official and pompous. By the time you open your mouth, there won't be enough left of them for you to attack."

"I'll make my point, love, and they will get the message," Draco assured her before kissing her forehead. He regretted telling her what was going on from the moment the words had spilled from his mouth. "I'll be home… well… I guess it'll be when we've finished with them."

"I should come with you," Ginny said resolutely.

"No, stay here and look after your hand." Draco frowned. "I don't think—"

"I do think," Ginny cut him off. "I have a few words for them myself."

"You can save them up and get them at a later date… when they're least expecting it," Draco promised. "Besides you can't even hold your wand properly. How are you going to hex them if you can't do that?"

"I'll manage," Ginny promised.

"Well, you weren't invited," Draco pointed out.

"That doesn't mean I can't go. It's my family."

"Bill was fairly specific. It's only going to be the men."

"Mum's going to be there," Ginny reminded him.

Draco sighed dramatically and placed his cloak on the arm of the chair. "Ginny love, if you come they'll all be fussing over your injuries, and it'll probably deter everyone from getting their point across. I think it's important that we get the point across the first time, because they could send that sort of package to any of the children in the family, and the consequences could be devastating."

"I don't want any fuss. I just want a piece of them."

"I know, and you'll get to say your piece, but let me handle the initial contact and you can get them at a later date. They won't be expecting it, so you'll have the element of surprise."

"They'll be expecting it," Ginny corrected.

"Whether they are or not is irrelevant. You're staying here tonight," Draco said firmly. "I have to go or I'm going to be late."

"How can you be late for something like this? It's not like they're going to announce you or anything."

"Bill wanted everyone to arrive at exactly six o'clock, so they wouldn't have a chance to escape or figure out what was going on until it was too late."

"I still want to come," Ginny insisted.

"Well, you're not," Draco informed her strongly. "I really have to leave now."

Just as her mouth was opening to argue again, Draco swooped down and kissed her firmly, then quickly strode from the sitting room, picking his cloak up on the way. Of course, there was no guarantee she wouldn't get up and follow him or that his hasty exit wouldn't get him in trouble; in fact, he was very likely to be in trouble when he next saw his wife. As he reached the end of the corridor, he checked his timepiece; he had less than a minute to get to his destination. Not wanting to be late, Draco Disapparated from the upper floor of his home.

A few seconds later, he arrived in the yard of the Burrow; the sound of his arrival was drowned by others, as all his brothers-in-law joined him at once. Draco moved to his right to greet Harry, but just as he extended his hand and the words formed in his mind, the twins arrived. His eyes narrowed and his fury rose like a wild beast begging to be set free.

All of a sudden, Harry was in front of him, blocking his view and nattering on nonsensically. Draco tried to push past him, but to the Auror's credit, he held his ground. An arm snaked around Draco's shoulders and held him tight.

"Easy there, big boy," Charlie whispered in Draco's ear. "You'll get your turn, I guarantee it."

"Do you know what they did?" Draco hissed, his rage getting the better of him.

"Harry told me, and I've spoken to Bill this afternoon as well," Charlie replied calmly. "Listen, if you fly off at them now, they're not going to hang around long enough to hear you out. You need to let Mum take them down first, so they don't have the energy to escape."

"That's insane," Draco snarled.

"Maybe so, but that's how it works with those two," Charlie answered sympathetically. "Only Mum has the power to make them stay."

"Patience," Harry instructed seriously.

"I just want to—" Draco snarled in the back of his throat, unable to put into words exactly what he wanted to do to the two men, because his rage was all consuming. He'd never been this irate and the feeling was beginning to frighten him a little.

"Yeah, I know," Charlie whispered sympathetically.

"No, you don't," Draco argued. "My wife, my children, my parents… All put at risk because of these two thoughtless pricks."

Charlie tightened his grip on Draco's shoulder. Though the man was shorter than Draco, his strength was enough to keep the enraged blond in place. "Just let Mum pin them down first, then you'll get your chance. If you start on them now, they'll just take off and you'll have a hard time finding an opportunity to air your grievances."

"I want to do more than just tell them," Draco growled as his wand hand twitched.

"Don't go there," Harry warned deeply. "Ron and I don't want to have to step in."

"You'd actually—"

"We'd have no choice," Harry butted in. "In this frame of mind, you're not thinking rationally, so our choices are limited. We have to protect—"

"Who was there to protect my family from them?" Draco demanded irately.

"Maybe we should take you for a walk," Charlie suggested.

"I don't want to—" Draco stopped as the door to the kitchen slammed.

"You two!" Molly Weasley strode across the yard to confront her twin sons. "How dare you send that package to Drake! You could have killed him!"

The twins exchanged slightly panicked glances before their mouths began to work.

"That's a bit—"

"Kid was bored—"

"How did you know?" the twins finished in unison.

"Ginny was hurt trying to rescue the tutor. She's got a very nasty burn to her hand. The damage to the house—"

"House?"

"What damage?"

"Drake set one of your fireworks off in the classroom," Molly informed them. "The whole house could have burned down. What were you thinking?"

"In the house?" Fred repeated, with a hint of a smile starting to break across his face.

"Too good." George started to chuckle.

"This is no laughing matter," Molly insisted, angrily poking a stubby finger into George's chest. "They could have been killed!"

"Rubbish," Fred asserted, making no effort to control his mirth.

"It was only a—" George started.

"You're very lucky Draco didn't storm into the shop to return the box," Molly continued. "He had every right to, but he had the common decency to think of how that would affect your business. It's a shame you didn't have the sense to think of how such a package would affect his house. I'm so disappointed in both of you."

Fred frowned. "I have the distinct feeling—"

"We've been set up," George finished with a matching frown.

Bill snorted humorlessly. "You could say that, boys."

"How could you?" George asked in a wounded voice.

"You're our big brother; we're supposed to be able to trust you," Fred complained.

"Mum needed to vent," Bill replied indifferently. "Not to mention, Draco wants a piece of you."

"Draco's here?" Fred took a furtive glance around the immediate area.

"I haven't seen him," George challenged.

"That's because Charlie and Harry are holding him back, but from what I can see he wants to do more than yell at you," Bill informed them seriously. "Not that I can blame him. You're responsible for hurting his wife and endangering his children. How would you feel if someone hurt your wives or put your children in the same position Drake and Angel were in?"

"A bit of harmless fun," Fred muttered unconvincingly.

"It always is until someone gets hurt," Percy chimed in pompously. "I've always said those things you sell should have age restrictions on them."

"If they were restricted we couldn't sell to Hogwarts students," George claimed.

"They're our biggest customers!" Fred declared.

"I know I wouldn't complain about that, and I'm sure the other professors would be with me," Charlie said. "Merlin knows how many times one of your inventions has been responsible for disturbing a class."

"Kids have got a right to—" George began to mumble, but uncharacteristically fell silent upon feeling his oldest brother's glare.

"We have a right to know that our kids aren't going to be given anything that may cause them harm," Bill said in a low tone.

Fred feigned a scandalized expression. "We would never!"

"Absolutely not!" George added vehemently.

"You already have," Bill responded angrily. "Why is it you two can't see what you've done?"

"We didn't do anything more than send our nephew a care package to entertain him," George claimed defensively.

"Poor kid, doing homework while everyone else is playing Quidditch," Fred complained forlornly. "He needed something to lift his spirits."

Bill took a deep breath to steady his temper. "Ginny has a burn to her hand and, from all I've been told, she could have been injured a lot worse. She is pregnant. Remember? Draco's ancestral home could have burned down. Luckily, they managed to keep the damage to one room, but that was probably just luck rather than careful management. Drake and Angel were caught in a room with a tutor who used magic on your fireworks—"

"Magic?" Fred paled visibly.

George swallowed hard. "They used magic?"

"Yes, they bloody well used magic," Bill snarled. "Why do you think Ginny entered the room?"

"We didn't mean—"

"Drake shouldn't have—"

"Ginny should have known better," Fred claimed distraughtly.

"Known better?" Molly shrieked. "How could she have known better? You told Drake not to tell his parents what you'd sent him… You told him to lie."

"We did not!" George responded quickly.

"I have the letter," Molly warned. "The one you sent to Drake."

The twins looked at each other, bravely taking their eyes from their mother's furious expression.

"Did we say that?" Fred asked his twin.

George frowned and shrugged. "We might have."

Fred nodded. "We wouldn't have wanted them to find out."

"They would have taken the goodies off him," George surmised thoughtfully.

"And that wouldn't have been fair," Fred added.

"Would have spoiled all his fun," George commented.

"FUN?" Molly bellowed, garnering the attention of not only the twins, but everyone in the yard as well. "Do you think it was fun when the fireworks were flying around the classroom? The children were traumatized! Your sister was injured!"

"We didn't mean for anyone to get hurt," Fred mumbled.

"You never do, but somehow it happens often," Molly retorted.

George shuffled his feet under his mother's glare. "It was supposed to be a bit of harmless fun."

"Just a few bits and pieces to take the boredom out of the day," Fred supplied.

"If that was your objective, I think you can safely claim success, because the day has been anything but boring for Draco and Ginny." Molly sent a sympathetic look in Draco's direction.

"Do I get my say now?" Draco growled in Charlie's direction.

Charlie chuckled as he stepped forward. "Yeah, I think Mum's just about done chewing them up, so we'd best be close for when she spits them out."

The closer he got to the twins the more his temper rose. To say he was irrationally affected was an understatement, in his opinion. All he wanted to do was throttle both men with his bare hands. Charlie's hand remained on his shoulder, lending a sense of support and comfort, not to mention a firm reminder that he would be held back if necessary. Harry was close by his other side, so close, in fact, that Draco could feel his shoulder rubbing against his arm. Somewhere deep in his mind, Draco thought it was a good thing he'd not agreed to his wife's demands to accompany him, because he didn't like to think of her seeing him like this.

With only a few feet remaining between himself and the twins, who were now looking decidedly guilty, Draco opened his mouth to unleash his rage on them, but a firm squeeze to his shoulder distracted his train of thought.

"Just before you give them what for, I have something to say," Charlie said evenly. The burly redhead turned to his much taller, younger brothers. "If you ever think of doing something like this again to any of the kids in this family I will turn you into dragon food. Understood?"

The twins exchanged guilt-ridden glances and nodded slightly, while their feet shuffled uncomfortably on the ground.

"Right. Your turn, Draco," Charlie announced.

Draco glared at the two men through narrowed eyes. His thoughts were all centered on a physical punishment of the likes they would never forget and no rational ideas were coming to mind. For the first time in his life, he really wanted to simply bellow and let loose with his fists, to express his fury without holding back. The vision of Ginny nursing her injured hand crossed his conscious thoughts, and then his father's smoldering shoulder passed through as well.

"Are you all right?" Harry whispered.

His eyes flicked to the right to find Harry's green eyes peering at him with obvious concern. The distraction brought him out of his thoughts and back to the present, where he noticed he was trembling. "Fine," Draco ground out. "I'm just trying to convince myself not to kill them outright."

"Torture is always more fun," Charlie quipped with a chuckle.

Draco's eyes moved back to the twins. The momentary distraction was exactly what he needed for his thoughts to organize themselves. He stopped shaking immediately and brought his emotions under control in a practiced maneuver. "I don't think it really matters what anyone says to you, neither of you are going to comprehend the full weight of what you did or the danger you put my wife and children in. Imagine your father coming into your office and telling you that your son has set fireworks off in the house and there's an issue containing said fireworks… Have you any idea the level of terror that flows through your body when you hear news like that? Do you know what it's like to watch helplessly as your pregnant wife is burned by one of the fireworks? Or to have to carry your mother out of a room teeming with dangerous fireworks?"

"We didn't mean—"

"It was supposed—"

"It doesn't matter what it was supposed to be," Draco snarled. "The fact is it wasn't you tackling your father to put his cloak out before the smoldering fabric caught fire. It wasn't you who had to blow out an entire wall of windows to free the fireworks threatening to destroy your home. Our tutor quit, and I've got an army of servants who probably need assistance with their mental health."

The twins sniggered at this idea.

"Do you think that's funny?" Draco snapped. "I can tell you right now that they're going to make your sister's life hell for the next week or so. House elves that are disturbed in any way do not serve their families well. Ginny may as well do everything herself for the next week to save her the grief of having things half-done or done incorrectly."

"It's not like Ginny can't—" Fred started.

"Have you any idea how much work it takes to keep our home clean? My wife is pregnant, she had a serious burn on her hand, and she doesn't deserve to deal with this disturbance in our lives." Draco lifted his hand to his hair and ran his fingers through his blond locks in frustration. There was simply no way to make them see what they did was wrong and would affect his household for some time.

"She was our sister first," George pointed out. "Ginny's always enjoyed our jokes."

"Yeah, it's not like you cared before," Fred said uncharitably.

The world suddenly went an odd shape. All he could see was Fred's face as blind rage filled him and he launched himself at his mouthy brother-in-law. In the deep recesses of his brain he was screaming 'how dare you' and though he was sure he didn't say it aloud, he couldn't be certain he didn't snarl something to that effect at one point. His flight was cut short abruptly. Charlie wrapped him up, pinning his arms to his sides and immobilizing him more effectively than a body-bind curse.

"Easy there, big boy," Charlie whispered soothingly.

"That won't solve anything, Draco," Harry insisted quietly from right in front of him.

Draco struggled for a moment longer before going limp in Charlie's arms. "Fine," he rasped. "I'm over—"

"That was totally uncalled for," Bill growled. "I can't believe you said that, Fred! You know, as well as anyone else that he didn't know, and you know that after all that time he could have just walked away, but he didn't."

"I am disgusted!" Molly exclaimed in a high pitch tone that made everyone wince. "Absolutely disgusted! I cannot believe you would think such a thing."

"Are you right with him?" Harry asked Charlie.

"We'll be fine," Charlie assured the Auror. "You go and do what you have to."

While the rest of the family exploded around him, Draco took the opportunity to take a few calming breaths, as Charlie edged him away from the drama. He had thought they'd moved past the subject of his absence for five years, but apparently not. After all that had happened this year the comment Fred so carelessly let slip was like a slap in the face. It wasn't that he didn't understand why the family had been upset initially, but he was shocked, after all this time, some members still had an issue with him over something that he'd had no control over.

"Are you all right?"

Draco shook his head to clear his thoughts. Charlie was peering at his with concern. "Yeah… I—I didn't expect—"

"None of us did," Charlie cut in, glancing at the group surrounding the twins. He winced as Harry poked Fred in the chest. "I hope you didn't want to say anything else to them, because I think Harry's going to tear them apart."

Draco shook his head. "I thought I was calm enough to handle this, but I just—I just want—"

"To kill them?" Charlie supplied.

"In the most painful way," Draco admitted.

Charlie patted Draco's shoulder. "No need to feel bad about it."

Draco opened his mouth to refute Charlie's statement, but closed it again when he realized that he did feel bad, despite what they'd done. This revelation took him by surprise and he fell into silence again while his mind grappled with the notion.

He should feel righteously murderous without guilt, but the filthy emotion was sneaking into his consciousness. The truth, if he cared to recognize it, was that he rather enjoyed having a large family and he found that he had come to care a great deal for his in-laws.

Fred's remark had hurt, and he'd initially lashed out in anger, which he could see now was an error in judgment.

"Thank you for holding me back," Draco muttered.

"Don't mention it," Charlie replied. "Sorry I caught you so quickly. I should have let you get at least one hit in, but Mum tends to get upset when we get physical."

"I'm glad you did." Draco sighed heavily. The rest of the men were still bellowing at the twins and the twins were still defending their actions with futile excuses. "It's messy enough without resorting to Muggle dueling."

Charlie laughed, but it held no humor. "Anyone else would have wanted to belt some sense into them."

"It's not how I do things," Draco responded firmly. "I pride myself on control."

"You do realize that you reacted exactly as you should have, don't you?"

Draco frowned. If this was some elaborate test set by the Weasley brothers he was going to forget all about controlling his emotions and actions. "What?"

"Draco, your wife was hurt and your children were in danger, and you wanted to kill the people responsible — that's normal." Charlie shook his head at the blond. "Holding your temper and controlling your reaction isn't something that's expected, given the circumstances."

"Oh— Well, it's still not my way," Draco uttered uncertainly. "I've always been able to control—"

"There are times when control is not appropriate," Charlie assured him.

"Regardless, this is not the place to vent in that manner," Draco insisted.

"And if Mum wasn't here?" Charlie posed curiously.

"I suspect my opinion would be different," Draco admitted quietly, hoping he sounded convincing.

Whether he felt like killing the twins or not was beside the point. Such methods of retribution were not a part of who he was and he didn't feel comfortable with the reaction. He was more the type to slowly undermine their business dealings or something like that — something that wasn't quite so obvious.

"I thought so," Charlie said with a chuckle. "Like I said before, there's nothing wrong with feeling like you want to throttle them with your bare hands. If they'd done the same to me, they wouldn't be breathing right now."

Draco glanced over at the group of men a short distance away from them. Somehow, Molly had been moved to the rear of the group, not that it stopped her from adding her own comments to what was being said by her sons. Right now, Bill was bellowing in George's face. He didn't think he'd ever seen the oldest Weasley brother so worked up; a vein in the side of his neck was pulsating and his lips were pulled back, baring his teeth in some sort of vicious snarl. The sight was rather frightening, and Draco thought he'd have been heading in the opposite direction as fast as he could, if he'd been on the receiving end of that diatribe, but to George's credit, he wasn't even flinching as his oldest brother expressed his displeasure stridently. Harry's nostrils were flared in fury, and he was agreeing vehemently with everything Bill was saying.

"Are you all right?" Charlie asked cautiously. "Maybe we should—"

Draco shook his head to clear his thoughts and effective stopped his brother-in-law from continuing with a suggestion he'd most likely negate. "I'm fine. I just need this to be over."

"Okay," Charlie answered slowly. "What can we do to facilitate that?"

"I need to speak to them again," Draco replied determinedly. "Without interruption."

"And if the urge to commit murder gets too much for you?"

Draco's gray eyes met Charlie's blue ones. He was putting his trust in his brother-in-law and needed to affirm that this was the right decision. What he found was undeniable support and it gave him confidence to speak again. "Get me out of here however you have to."

Charlie nodded seriously. "If that's what you want."

He confirmed his request with a nod. "I'm afraid of what I might do if I lose control," Draco admitted in a small voice.

"Fair enough." Charlie glanced at the group of men still bellowing at the twins. "You wait here and I'll get everyone to shut up first."

"Thank you," Draco intoned genuinely as Charlie walked away.

It took mere seconds for the stocky redhead to muscle his way through the group of men and gain their attention. While the yard grew quieter, Draco did his best to gather his thoughts. Despite his best efforts, a low murmur of voices disturbed his process. He couldn't tell who was speaking or what they were saying, not that it mattered to him, because he simply had to make his point, and then he could leave.

"You don't have to do this now if you're—"

Draco turned to find Harry watching him with concern etched into his features. "I want to get it over with as soon as possible. Perhaps then I can stop feeling violent towards…" He tossed his head in the general direction of the twins.

"Well, come on then." Harry ushered Draco towards the waiting group of men.

The sound of low muttering slowly ceased as Draco moved through the group. With the exception of the twins, everyone's eyes were on him. They looked as if they expected something only he could deliver. He stopped suddenly, feeling as though the weight of the universe was on his shoulders. If he messed this up he had a feeling the repercussions would be far reaching and long lasting. His organized thoughts were suddenly caught up in a whirlwind and everything he had deemed appropriate only minutes ago now seemed absurd. As he desperately tried to regroup, beads of sweat formed on his brow and he could feel his face burning. This confusion was something he'd not experienced since he was a teenager.

A snigger from one of the twins brought reality crashing down on Draco's head and all of a sudden he owned clarity. He knew exactly what to say and how to say it to get his point across properly. With a curl of his lip he strode forward.

"Listen up carefully, because I don't want to revisit this issue ever again," Draco said in a low tone. "What you did today endangered the safety of not only my home, but every living being inside it as well. Your sister has a serious burn to her hand, and I'm actually thankful that she wasn't injured worse. Aside from Ginny's pain, you've caused us a great deal of inconvenience: our tutor quit on the spot and the classroom looks like a war zone. Just to top my day off, Drake received a formal warning from the Ministry about the use of underage magic."

Two loud gasps sounded behind Draco. One was definitely Molly and, if he had to guess, Percy was most likely the second.

"What?" George's eyes went wide.

"How—" Fred began.

Draco groaned. His frustration at the whole situation was building again. "It seems he stole his tutor's wand to ignite the fireworks. You two are responsible for encouraging him to—"

"We didn't—"

"Never would—"

"Whether or not you told him to do that is irrelevant," Draco cut in harshly. "The reality is that he did do it, and in the way he sees all of us doing such things: with magic. How did you think he was going to light the fireworks? The Muggle way?"

"Didn't think," George mumbled.

"That seems to be the biggest problem here, doesn't it?" Draco snarled, his temper starting to get the better of him. "You don't ever think! Either of you! What if one of the children had been burned?"

"Look…" Fred glanced at his twin briefly before directing his gaze back to Draco. "We're sorry. We had no intention—"

"I didn't believe you did it intentionally," Draco butted in. "You've just got to think about all the possibilities before you send those sorts of things to children. The results could have been far worse."

He watched as the twins exchanged guilty glances. Now that he was talking, his business sense was coming back to him, keeping his temper in check, and he was finding it easy to put his point across without using physical means. Not that he didn't want to make them hurt, because that feeling was still very much there, but he had control over it at the moment.

"As much as it pains me to admit it, my son has more than a hint of your type of mischief running through his veins—" Draco paused as a voice behind him interrupted his thoughts.

"Because he was such a bloody saint at school," Ron muttered just loud enough for everyone to hear.

Draco cringed and turned slightly in the direction of the voice. Trust Ron to bring up school pranks. "I took calculated risks. Drake is not yet capable of ascertaining whether something of that nature might backfire seriously."

"Neither were you," Ron argued.

It took everything he had to keep his reaction to a mere roll of his eyes. To have entertained the comment with a verbal response would have put them off on a tangent that was not only unimportant, but detrimental to solving this situation.

"I'll leave it at that for now," Draco said calmly, as he turned back to the twins. "Contact me when you want to make your apologies and we'll arrange a time for you to come to the house."

"We can't even drop in and see our sister?" George expressed questioningly.

"Bloody nice that is," Fred claimed disgustedly.

Draco sighed and fought the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. He didn't think they were capable of taking anything seriously. "I want to be there when your sister hexes you."

"To save us?" Fred asked hopefully.

"To laugh at you," Draco corrected.

"Charming," George said sarcastically.

Draco shook his head and deliberately didn't respond. If they thought they were going to crawl back into his good graces through comedy they were sadly mistaken. He turned to find Molly standing very close behind him. "Molly, please accept my apologies for bringing all this to your home. It wasn't my intention—"

Molly held up a hand to silence her son-in-law. "You're not the one who needs to apologize. Why don't I put on a pot of tea? You should have something before you head off."

"Thank you, but I really should get home to Ginny," Draco responded politely.

"She wouldn't begrudge you a cup of tea," Molly countered as she turned to walk to the house.

Unable to think of another way to refuse the offer decorously, Draco stood there helplessly watching the large woman retreat into the house.

"Would she begrudge you something a little stronger?" Bill whispered.

Draco glanced to his side and noticed a familiar bottle emerging from Bill's cloak.

"I thought we might need a little something to restore our sanity after dealing with those two," Bill explained.

"That I do need," Draco admitted.

"Let's head inside, away from this mess," Bill suggested. "Charlie, you'll finish up here?"

"No problem," Charlie answered. "Just save some for me."

"We'll try." Bill grinned cheekily at his younger brother. "Come on," he beckoned, as his hand landed on Draco's shoulder.

The comforting touch of the older man's hand didn't leave Draco until the kitchen door closed behind them.

"Don't worry about the tea, Mum," Bill said as he crossed the room, heading for the cupboard that contained an assortment of mismatched glasses.

"Bill!" Molly exclaimed disgustedly when she spied the all too familiar bottle he'd placed on the table.

"Mum!" Bill returned with a comical wave of his arm.

"I don't know why you boys have to drink every time you get together."

"It's something you taught us," Bill responded cheekily. "We just changed the beverage to something a little more enjoyable than tea."

Molly shook her head. "Just mind you don't get drunk. I'm not in the mood to—"

"Mum, it's just a quiet drink before we head home to our wives." Bill poured a generous amount of Firewhisky into two glasses. "Draco needs something a little stronger than tea after the day he's had."

Draco almost winced as his mother-in-law's eyes passed over him. He could see she was itching to say something, but she held back, thankfully.

"Get that into you," Bill insisted as he forced a glass into Draco's hand. "Don't worry about Mum; I'll sort that later," he added in a low whisper.

"Thanks," Draco muttered.

"Into the sitting room or back outside," Molly ordered. "You're not cluttering up my kitchen."

Bill chuckled and casually headed for the sitting room.

Draco, not wanting to come under Molly's scrutiny again, followed at a slightly faster pace. He was beginning to wish he'd refused the invitation to have a drink, but it was too late now, especially as the delightfully tempting aroma of the Firewhisky was wafting up to tease his senses.

"Charlie will probably join us, but the rest are more likely to get back to their wives before they get themselves in trouble," Bill said as he made himself comfortable on one of the armchairs.

"Harry," Draco muttered absently, while he paced the floor, still nursing his drink.

"Yeah," Bill agreed. "He'll want a full run down from your point of view."

Draco grunted his agreement. There's no way he'd escape without giving his children's godfather a full and detailed explanation of what had transpired this morning.

"I don't think it's going to mature anymore," Bill teased, nodding his head at Draco's glass. "Sit down and relax."

"I can't," Draco admitted.

"It's finished now," Bill replied, frowning with concern. "You should be feeling relieved."

"Well, I'm not," Draco snapped.

"Maybe you should have hit one of them," Bill pondered aloud. "You know, to release some of that tension."

"That was uncalled for… I didn't mean—"

"I know. It's all right," Bill assured him. "You did better than any one of us would have."

"How's that?" Draco inquired disbelievingly.

"We would have hit them, then discussed the issue."

Draco snorted derisively.

"I'm not kidding," Bill insisted. "Sit down and enjoy your drink."

Draco perched himself on the edge of one of the chairs. The Firewhisky burned as it slid down his throat and he relished the discomfort — it gave him something else to focus on rather than the seemingly uncontrollable rage that was still simmering in his gut.

"He's still struggling," Charlie observed as he strolled in.

Bill nodded in response. "But he'll be all right."

Charlie raised his eyebrow skeptically.

"I'll be fine," Draco growled defensively. "I've just never felt like this before."

The two Weasleys exchanged knowing looks.

"The bastards hurt her," Draco continued abrasively. "What am I supposed to do with that? 'Don't do it again' just doesn't seem enough of a deterrent."

"If it was just that, it wouldn't be enough to put those two off, but you showed your fury and that will adequately remind them to think twice before they do something so foolish again."

"You did really well out there," Charlie assured him as his patted Draco's shoulder.

"It doesn't change anything," Draco hissed. "Ginny's still hurt, and I still feel like wringing their bloody necks."

"And they know that now," Bill said.

"They knew that before," Draco spat angrily.

"Maybe, but they didn't know if you'd actually do it and now they do," Charlie explained sympathetically.

"Why can't everyone just be normal?" Draco muttered, mostly to himself.

Charlie laughed loudly.

"That would be really boring," Bill observed with a chuckle.

Draco's head snapped up and his gray eye's bore into his brother-in-law's amused expression. "Boring would suit me perfectly. Boring is good!"

"Nah, boring is… Well, it's boring," Charlie corrected. "We need something to keep us on our toes."

Before he'd even made the conscious decision to do so, Draco was on his feet. "So you think your fools of brothers almost burning my house down and injuring my wife is simply keeping us on our toes?"

The rage that he'd felt earlier consumed him again, and all his thoughts turned murderous once more. Much to his surprise, Charlie turned calmly and walked to the kitchen door, closing it firmly in front of a worried Molly Weasley. Frustration added fuel to Draco's anger. He wanted Charlie to argue back, to yell at him in return, so he could unload all this pent up poison.

"You think it's fine just as long as it wasn't you they attacked, don't you?" Draco jibed. "Neither of you have to deal with the fall out of their stupidity, so that's just fine. It's just keeping us on our toes! How fucking entertaining!"

Bill and Charlie exchanged glances, but other than that showed no emotion.

Draco glared at the two men, willing either of them or both to take a poke at him, to give him an excuse to lash out.

"You've never felt this way about a woman before have you?" Bill inquired serenely.

"What?" Draco stared at the man incredulously. All he wanted to do was fight and Bill was asking the most ridiculous questions — it was almost enough to make him want to hit the man.

"You love her and to know that something or someone has hurt her makes you want to seek revenge in a most irrational way," Bill said, maintaining his calm demeanor.

"Of course I love her," Draco snapped, not in the least bit sorry for his tone now that Bill was prattling on about rubbish. "I just want to—I need to kill them."

"Good," Charlie responded in a cheery manner. "It warms my heart every time we have that reaffirmed."

"Reaffirmed?" Draco repeated.

Charlie grinned at him. "That you love her."

The notion that this was all some elaborate set up crossed his mind again. It lingered for a few moments before he dismissed it. After all, they weren't stupid enough to stage such an event just to test his feelings for their sister when there were so many variables that were out of their control.

"Don't worry about that murderous feeling," Bill commented casually. "It will fade in time to bodily harm."

A small whimper escaped Draco's throat. "Normal… It's not too much to ask, is it?" he muttered to himself.

"Actually, now that I think about it, this is normal for us," Charlie said thoughtfully.

Draco turned towards the front door. All he wanted to do was get home to his house where normal didn't include dealing with fireworks being set off inside a home. "I should just put myself out of my misery now. That would be nice. Peaceful…"

"Leaving?" Bill interrupted his monologue.

"Home," Draco uttered. "Ginny…"

"What about Harry?" Bill reminded him. "He's going to want to know everything."

"Tell him to catch up with me later," Draco responded vaguely.

"All right, but he's going to be pissed that you didn't wait for him," Bill answered.

"Care factor…" Draco mumbled as he reached for the rarely used front door of The Burrow.

As he stumbled out into the fresh air, he could hear voices in the room he'd just left. Harry and Ron must have entered the room just as he walked out, because it was their voices he could hear over Bill and Charlie's. Though the right thing to do would have been to turn back and talk to the men, Draco kept walking forward, as if he hadn't heard them. He needed to leave the drama behind for a while, so he could arrange his thoughts into some form of workable order or he was truly going to kill someone and while it was tempting, he didn't want to harm an innocent party. With a quick half turn, Draco Disapparated, leaving the madness behind or so he hoped.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

AUTHOR'S NOTE

Thanks to Rainpuddle13 for her amazing beta skills.