Charles Weasley never expected to be placed into a situation such as this.
He knows the rules of Pureblooded inheritance, has known them since he was five. Bill is the firstborn son and Heir of the Weasley family, and will inherit the title of Patriarch once their father dies.
Arthur and Molly Weasley had been satisfied knowing their family name would live on through Bill, and continued to have children to their heart’s content without a thought to the gender of their offspring. Neither deigned it all that important a matter to explain the intricacies of inheritance to their children beyond that fact that Bill would be in charge someday.
Bill discovered the Prewett inheritance on his own.
For centuries, a Wizagamot of Purebloods insistent on protecting their legacies had upheld the old British wizarding law. One such law decreed that if the natural born Heir to a Pureblood family perished before producing a son and thereby naming a new Heir, the deceased Heir’s next male sibling may step in as replacement.
“An Heir and a spare,” wizards would joke, chortling over aged firewhiskey.
It is common practice in Pureblood families to produce at least two sons for this exact reason. Marjory and Folton Prewett gave birth to twin sons, securing their line, and then produced a daughter they named Molly. When the twins were killed in the First British Wizarding War, Molly, by then a Weasley, found herself unable to assume the title of natural-born Prewett Heir.
Much to her anger, she discovered that women couldn’t be named legal Heirs in Britain under any circumstances, even if the remaining female was as capable as she believed herself to be. Luckily, a footnote to the law solved the problem by assuring that should no male sibling remain, the second born son of the female sibling may assume the family title and claim the inheritance.
Molly Weasley was bound by law to name her firstborn son, Bill, as the Weasley family Heir. She could have named Charlie, her second born, the new Heir of the Prewetts.
Of course, Molly Weasley decided it uncouth to partake in such ancient and offensive practices. She had taken her inability to assume the title herself as a personal insult, and vowed the Prewett name would die with her brothers.
Bill Weasley had stumbled upon the unclaimed Prewett inheritance while sorting through files at Gringotts. Later on, he would wonder why his Goblin supervisor had assigned him those papers to read. The Goblins never did like the emotional way wizards handle their affairs. To a Goblin, inheritance is business, and to deny someone his or her rightful business is a heinous act indeed. Molly had not received good service at Gringotts for many years, and it was suddenly clear to Bill the reason why.
He had apparated immediately to his younger brother, and explained his discovery to a bewildered Charlie who lost all amusement with each passing moment. Running a family, even one so underprivileged as the Weasleys, is a heaping ton of work. The Patriarch of a Pureblood family has many matters to deal with beyond his immediate wife and children.
He is in charge of setting up engagements for all of his family members, settling any debts made with the family, and forming alliances with other ancient broods. Arthur Weasley had never been very good at these responsibilities, and so Bill had relied on his Goblin coworkers and affluent wife to help him sort it out as he stepped more and more into the title he’d eventually hold.
Fleur Delacour Weasley originated from one of the oldest magical families in France. Due to her superior lineage in comparison to Bill, she could have actually legally insisted that he take her name when they wed- if he hadn’t been the male Heir of a British family, and if she hadn’t been uninterested in such practices, of course. They avoided that complication entirely by having her relinquish her position as Heir of the Delacour family.
Molly Weasley had been so opposed to Bill marrying above his station not only because Fleur is richer and foreign, but also because the Veela would be slated to become the next Weasley Matriarch. Molly could not stand the idea of a spoiled French creature claiming her title upon Arthur’s death, the agreed-upon time that Bill would be named Lord Weasley.
However, Bill is generally uninterested in his mother’s opinions, and so felt as much guilt marrying Fleur against her wishes as he had over exposing her machinations to hide Charlie’s inheritance- none.
Fleur Delacour had come with an inheritance a Princess would drool over and the attitude of a blast-ended skrewt. Bill could not have found a better partner. If they had settled in France and Bill had relinquished his own title, Victoire would have been the natural born Heir to the immense Delacour fortune, since Fleur would have accepted the title of Lady Delacour. French law does not discriminate females, and Fleur would have been named the Head of her family upon her father’s death.
As it stands, since they settled in Britain, Bill technically ranks higher than his wife due to the discriminatory nature of his home country. Fleur could not remain the Delacour Heir once she married him and ceded her claim, and the title passed to her younger sister.
It is likely that 18-year-old Gabrielle will soon marry one of her many French boyfriends, and then claim the title of Lady Delacour in lieu of her firstborn sister. Fleur is unbothered by losing her title as Heir after marrying Bill, for she would not trade her marriage for all the titles in the world. All she ever wanted was to be loved, not to be revered. Gabby can have that all that attention for herself.
Fleur is currently quite pregnant with her second child, and set to give birth in April. She insists to Bill that it will be another girl, which would make for a total of three Veelas in their home. Gabrielle has promised to be there for the birth, and often pops over to Britain to see how her beloved elder sister is holding up. It’s a lucky thing that Gabrielle is more than willing to fund her sister’s budding family, since Fleur cannot access the Delacour accounts any longer.
It was extremely unfortunate and embarrassing what had happened to the Weasley family’s finances during the First British Wizarding War. Society wives who know the truth will turn their noses up at Molly in public, yet pray her bad fortune may never similarly befall them. The Prewett family was a wealthy one indeed, members of the Sacred Twenty-Eight with a prestigious reputation. Molly grew up coddled and assured by her older brothers that she could marry whomever she preferred since they would always pad their darling sister’s pockets and support her children.
Though the Weasley’s are also members of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, they are, and always have been, very poor.
This trivial fact did not concern Molly until her brothers’ deaths, upon which her access to the Prewett vault was deemed to be restricted until she named her second-born son the new Heir.
“You’re telling me that she purposefully withheld this money from our family?” Charlie asks. The ‘And me?’ is unspoken, but understood.
Bill nods. “That’s how it looks. You and I didn’t suffer much, since we still had the dredges of her personal Prewett vault when we attended school, but the rest of the kids…” he shrugs.
“I always knew Mum was unreasonable, but this….” Charlie sighs, gripping the bank records tightly in his callused hands. “So much could have been different if she’d have stopped taking it so damn personally and just named me the Heir.”
Though he feels no guilt, Bill is still a bit regretful as he considers his tanned younger brother. Charlie will likely never wrangle dragons again once he accepts his position as the Prewett Patriarch. He’ll be expected to marry and have children, just like Bill.
“My supervisor at Gringotts has left an appointment slot open today, should you need it.” Bill offers his brother a half-smile. “He knew I was coming here to talk to you.”
“How did he know I’d want to speak with Gringotts?” Charlie asks.
Bill works as a curse breaker. Surely he wouldn’t have been gossiping to his supervisor about family drama.
“Who do you think gave me those papers?” Bill retorts, grinning a bit.
Charlie shakes his head. The Goblins never did know how to keep their fingers out of other people’s pies. I guess I’d better go deal with my pie.
“Don’t tell Mum or any of the kids that I’m in Britain.” Charlie orders. “I wouldn’t want anyone finding out about this until I’ve figured out what to do.”
Bill only grins as he stands to put on his coat. “I think that goes without saying. Also, I should warn you about my assistant. I’ll be heading home after this, so she’ll be handling you at Gringotts. Don’t…” Bill pauses in his dressing, smirking a bit. “Don’t antagonize her. She had it hard during the war, and she’s a little rude to strangers.”
“Honestly, Bill.” Charlie chuckles as he gets to his feet. “I work with the meanest blokes on the planet and wrangle dragons for a living, and you think some chit is going to offend me?”
“Don’t tempt fate.” Bill grins, striding forward to clasp him in a tight hug.
“How’s Fleur doing, anyway?” Charlie asks, eyeing his brother’s expression. Speaking of rude chits…
“The second pregnancy is hitting her harder than the first did.” Bill informs him. “She spends most of her time cursing our unborn child in French and swearing that she’ll never let me between her legs again.”
“Need me to babysit?” Charlie offers, grinning as he thinks of his sister-in-law.
Charlie had been one of, if not the only Weasley to treat Fleur with respect once she was engaged to Bill. Having worked with magical creatures since graduation, Charlie understood the intricacies of navigating a Veela inheritance better than most wizards. While the majority of his coworkers are male and Veela inheritance only applies to females, he has had a coworker or two over the years who were sons of Veela mothers, and brothers of Veela sisters.
Fleur isn’t a mean woman; she just doesn’t want to cause trouble by unleashing her allure on everyone.
The only way to combat the natural charm of Veela magic is rudeness. Otherwise, she could end many marriages and destroy many lives. Charlie considers Fleur to be compassionate and adorable, even with her rudeness in tow. She cares enough about other people’s feelings to sacrifice a portion of her loveliness. In Charlie’s eyes, this makes her quite selfless.
“Nope.” Bill shoots him down. “I’m going to stop for roses on the way home. She hates British flora, you see. Gives her something new to complain about.”
With that, Bill is gone, and Charlie is left holding a pile of old papers and a distinct sense of discomfort.
“Gringotts.” he mutters, tossing a handful of powder into the floo.