Disclaimer: In the time since my last post, sadly, I have not become JK Rowling, nor have I won a gazillion dollars and bought Harry Potter. I don't own it.
AN: And to think, this started as a oneshot!
And Draco can't help but call Ron "Weasley", so he apologizes for the confusion, because really, I had nothing to do with it. Every time Draco calls someone Weasley, though, it's Ron, just fyi.
Charlie guides Draco to a seat next to George, sitting beside him. Ginny's on Charlie's other side, with Ron next to George. Mrs. Weasley finishes setting the table just as Mr. Weasley slides through the door, dropping his coat and seating himself next to Ron. Greetings are exchanged, and Mrs. Weasley kisses her husband on the cheek before sitting beside him.
"Well? Eat up!" Mrs. Weasley commands, and they dig into the wonderful array of food. Still, this is not a typical Weasley family dinner. Few words are exchanged at first, and Draco does his best not to fidget awkwardly. Finally, he can't stand the silence anymore. He turns to Charlie.
"Yes, Charlie," he drawls sarcastically. "You're absolutely right; this isn't awkward at all." Charlie barks out a laugh, Ginny grins, even the corners of Ron's mouth quirk up as Mr. and Mrs. Weasley smile. What surprises them all the most, though, is that George actually laughs. It's short, and barely there, but it is undeniably a laugh. He blushes as they stare at him in amazement for a second, and then it seems like a spell has been broken. Ron begins to chatter away to Mr. Weasley about a new chess strategy he's been attempting, as Arthur is the only one that can even follow Ron's complicated explanations, though he can't match his son in an actual game.
Ginny turns to her mother, explaining a shopping trip in excruciating detail. Draco now feels out of place, because he's not entirely sure who to talk to, or which conversation to attempt to follow. Charlie's putting in his own opinion on Ron's chatter, despite having only a vague understand of chess, and Draco gets the strategy but has nothing to add, because really, Ron's plan is nearly flawless, and the flaws that it does have, Ron is already analyzing.
He stares at his plate, watching words fly and conversations crisscross, and he wonders how chaotic it gets on Sundays, when everyone shows. He's a bit frightened at the prospect.
Draco nearly jumps out of his seat when George turns to him and asks, "Were you born a sarcastic git, or did you work at it your whole life?" Normally, Draco would be offended, but the faint grin on George's face – still a shadow of his former one, but there, nonetheless – stops him.
Draco tilts his chin up, looks down his nose at the man, and sneers, "What can I say? It's a gift."
George chuckles lightly, and Draco grins back at him.
"I see why Charlie likes you."
Suddenly, George burst into song.
"Were you born a sarcastic git?
"Or did you work at it your whole life?
"Either way, it turned out okay, because you're a sarcastic git tonight!(1)"
Molly, who had only been half listening and recognized the tune, snaps out, "Boys! I told you not to sing that song in my house!" without thinking. George freezes. Then the whole table freezes. Molly's eyes widen as she realizes what she'd said, and she tries to back peddle quickly. "George, Draco, you'd best cut that out right now!" she snaps, as though that was what she'd meant by 'boys' all along. Draco opens his mouth to protest, and Charlie elbows him sharply in the ribs. Draco shuts his mouth, understanding.
He hadn't realized until now that the war had truly broken everyone, even a family that so clearly fought for the right side. Everyone was broken, and now all they had left was the job of attempting to pick up the pieces. He thinks he was happier not knowing this, believing that there truly were people who were still naïve and happy, despite the war.
Once again, oddly, it is left to Draco to break the silence. He turns to George Weasley once more, cracks a small grin, and murmurs, so that only George can hear, "Well, I enjoyed the song, anyway." He says this in an overly defensive tone, which serves its purpose. George cracks a smile.
"You really aren't the same smarmy little ferret you were in school, are you?" he asks.
"I'm trying not to be," Draco says. Conversation springs up around them once more. Charlie and Ron get into a heated Quidditch debate in which Ron actually tries to argue that the Cannons have a chance at the World Cup finals this year. Draco scoffs, and can't help joining the argument.
"Weasley, the Cannons are terrible, and even if they weren't, they wouldn't stand a chance. Look at the division they're in. The Falcons, the Arrows, the Ravens, the Hawks. Even if the Cannons were halfway to excellent, they don't stand a chance with the deck stacked against them like it is!"
Ron pouts. "I tell you, the Cannons would be good if they were in a decent division."
Charlie buts in. "Ron, they didn't win a single match last year!"
"They one won!"
"A pre-season! Everybody knows those don't count for anything."
"And, as far as I'm concerned, the Cannons would be worse off in any other division," Draco points out. "It's the fact that they've got decent competition that made it possible for them to win that pre-season game. Take the Dragons, for example. They win their division every year, but it doesn't mean anything, because their division isn't worth anything! Even though they make it to the World Cup tournament, they never go anywhere, and the reason they don't is because they've gotten lazy playing easy-to-beat teams! If the Cannons were in their division, yeah, maybe they'd win more games, but would they be a better team? I don't think so."
"I can see what you're saying, but I feel like they at least deserve a division where they're on an even playing field with the other teams!"
"Problem is, the divisions are set up only by the Ministry heads of each Department of Games and Sports in each country with at least one team participating. There's no way they could all agree long enough to rearrange the division. What the Cannons need is someone really excellent to pull them out of their slump, like Krum did with the Bulgarians."
"Even though he only played for a few years," Charlie puts in, "He restored the people's confidence in the team, and they started to get better sponsors, which meant they could get better players. He turned the whole program around."
Ron nods. "D'you think I could convince Harry to play for the Cannons?" he asks jokingly, a grin on his face.
Draco scoffs. "Unlikely. If that man wants to play Quidditch, which I doubt, he'll have his pick of the lot. No sane player would pick the Cannons, not even someone as good as Potter."
Ron gapes at him.
"What?" Draco asks self consciously.
"You... You just..." Ron stutters.
"Out with it, Weasley!" Draco snaps, impatient.
"I think that was almost a compliment!" Ron says in utter amazement. "No, I'm pretty sure that that was an actual, legitimate compliment!"
"Been reading the dictionary, Weasley?" Draco asks scathingly, trying to distract the boy. "Or did you learn that one from Granger?"
"Oh no!" Ron says. "You can't distract me that easily. I'm going to sit here and bask in the glory of this moment, before the world ends."
Draco raises a questioning eyebrow.
"Well, surely it's a sign of the apocalypse," Ron explains, as though this should be rather obvious. "You complimenting Harry."
Draco's cheeks are actually tinged slightly pink, and he curses his uncontrollable reaction.
"Shut it, Weasley," he grumbles.
"Ah, and that's your best retort. Pitiful, really."
Charlie is still conversing with George, but he's watching the two of them out of the corner of his eye, waiting for something to explode.
Slowly, Draco seems to realize that's he's just had an actual intelligent conversation with "The Weasel". He shakes his head.
"Weasley, I think you might be right. Us conversing civilly? The world must be ending."
"And you just agreed with me! That's the second sign! TAKE COVER EVERYBODY!" Ron shrieks, and those who haven't been listening to their conversation (Ginny, Arthur, and Molly) dive under the kitchen table and pull out their wands. Draco, Ron, Charlie, and George burst out into hysterical giggles. Ginny glares and hexes her brother. The other three only laugh harder as Ron turns bright blue with hot pink polka dots.
"Good luck getting that off, brother mine," Ginny chirps cheerfully.
"Ginny!" Molly reprimands, crawling out from under the table and resuming her seat. "How many times have I told you not to hex your brothers!"
Ginny bats her eyelashes at her mother innocently. "Not enough?" she suggests.
They finish dinner in a similar manner as Draco tries (and fails) to adjust to listening to several overlapping conversations at once, a skill Charlie appears to have mastered quite well. Draco's heard him put in comments to four different conversations one after another, barely stopping to take a breath, but he always appears to give his full attention to the one he's speaking to. Draco can't help but be impressed, and he wonders if he'll ever be fluent in the language he's dubbed, "Weasley Dinner Table". It seems to be a complex language. Draco's doubtful he'll ever master it quite like a native speaker.
Finally, dinner is done, and Draco stares as each Weasley child dutifully carries his or her own dishes to the sink, where Mrs. Weasley spells them clean and away. Hesitantly, he follows suit and is rewarded with a smile from Mrs. Weasley and a patented Charlie-grin.
Charlie leads Draco into the living room before asking, "Are you sure you can't stay past dinner?"
Draco regretfully shakes his head. "My mother wanted me back."
Charlie nods. "You'll come back?"
Draco is not as appalled at this suggestion as he previously would have been.
"Of course," he murmurs. "And you'll have to meet my parents, sometime." Draco deliberately puts no timeframe on this suggestion. Charlie notices, but he lets it slide, wrapping Draco in his arms.
"I'll miss you," he whispers into his ear.
"I'll miss you too," Draco admits.
Charlie kisses him once, deeply, before Draco very ruefully pulls away, muttering, "I really do have to go." Charlie smiles at him.
"Goodbye, Dragon." Draco smiles at the nickname.
"Goodbye, Char," he says in reply, and steps into the floo.
Charlie turns around and is surprised to find Ron in the doorway.
"You know," Ron muses, "No one should really be surprised you fell for him. You always did have an unhealthy obsession with dragons, after all."
He smiles at Charlie, and Charlie knows, in that moment, that his brother can leave the past in the past.
Charlie sighs. "Is it pathetic that I miss him already?"
Ron laughs. "Yes, brother mine. Yes, it is."
(1) This is a Jimmy Buffet song, but I changed the lyrics around a bit. The normal lyrics contain naughty words :)