It was unexpected, an accident the world allowed to happen. Oliver had already successfully convinced his lover to reveal to his family that he was alive after disappearing almost eight years ago, a year before the start of the War.
Percy resisted at first, but his daughters were beginning to show signs of magic, the occasional floating of books and sudden openings of closed doors. He knew it was better for his daughters to have contact with others like them, and Oliver alone wasn't enough. Percy himself was not an option, wandless since he disappeared. Sure, he knew how to used most spells wandless now, but it took endless hours of practices and errors. With his daughters growing up so fast, he knew his wandless magic wouldn't be able to catch up with them, and his spells were not as strong or as efficient as they would've been.
Besides, he wanted like his daughters to experience growing up with a large family. Though he always thought himself to be unloved and unconcerned about with five brothers and one sister, he remembered that it was nice to have someone who was just there. He wanted his daughters a chance to grow up with, as Oliver said it, "a hundred cousins, a dozen aunts and uncles, and two loving grandparents."
Percy and Oliver had a plan, and that was to invite all the Weasleys, just the Weasleys, to Oliver's apartment. From there, if everything went well, Percy would show up with Oliver and his daughters to the next Sunday family dinner. They hadn't decided which night yet, but Percy wanted to get it over with as quick as possible. He missed his family.
But then, unexpectedly, a Weasley showed up by Floo, to Oliver's apartment, the rare night Percy agreed to come to Wizarding London.
He had refused to return to the Wizarding World, not yet. He was still facing his demons and was afraid that someone would recognize him, and Oliver understood, asking Percy to stay at his apartment during special occasions only from then on, like their first anniversary. Percy was happy enough to stay overnight, and Oliver woke up the next morning feeling like he was on top of the world. It was a good thing that the Novas existed, living only a few doors away and loving Molly and Lucy like their own.
A few times, though, Percy would ask to come over for a few hours, taking a liking to Oliver's own apartment, and Oliver was always happy to make Percy happy. Those nights started with a nice, quiet dinner and ended with sitting in the small living room for an hour or so, just being with each other.
That night, when the flash of green smoke came from the fireplace, Percy was lying on the couch with his feet on Oliver's lap, the former reading Muggle literature and the latter flipping through a witch's magazine.
"Oliver," the oldest Weasley said, his voice casual and amused within the disappearing green smoke, "Fred and George were busy, so they asked me to get the endorsement forms from you. Sorry if I'm—"
The smoke disappeared, and Percy's eyes widened to an impossible size to see his oldest brother standing in the fireplace. Bill had grown more handsome than the last time Percy saw him, a year after he left the family. His oldest brother had claw-like scars on his face, making him look intimidating, but his good looks could still charm anyone with a smile. He was still as tall and strong as ever, and Percy felt the world fall beneath him.
"Percy?" Bill said in disbelief, taking a slow step out of the fireplace. He looked at Percy with shock, blinking more than usual as if to see if his little brother, his little brother whom he believed was dead, would disappear and be nothing more than an illusion. It wouldn't be the first time. "Is that you?" he asked, unsure and quiet.
Like lightning, Percy jumped off the couch and ran towards Oliver's bedroom, slamming the door behind him. He heard footsteps following him, but he leaned his entire weight against that door and locked it, panicking as his breathing became rapid and shallow. He had to get away, but how? His mind wasn't able to come up with any answers, panicked.
Percy yelped when Bill started pounding on the door. "Percy!" he shouted. "Open the door right now!"
Percy didn't respond, bursting into frightened tears. Bill sounded angry, and the pounding wasn't helping. Maybe if he stayed quiet, Bill would go away, telling Oliver he will be coming back another time. Then Percy could get back to his apartment and never come back to Wizarding London ever again.
"I know you're still in there," Bill interrupted, reminding Percy where he was. "Open up, Percy."
"Bill," Percy heard Oliver said through the door, sounding frantic. Neither of them expected this. "Calm down. Just leave him alone tonight and I swear I'll explain everything to you tomorrow. Now is not a good time." Oliver grunted as if he was being lifted up from the floor.
"How long?" Bill questioned, voice stern. "How long have you known?"
Oliver gulped. "Almost a year," he answered, his voice almost non-existent.
"A year?" Bill repeated in frustration. "You knew for a whole bloody year, and you didn't tell me? He's my brother, Oliver! I thought he was dead! My mum still cries over him because there wasn't a body to bury! A whole year!"
"It's not his fault!" Percy said, needing to defend his best friend and lover. "He wanted to, but I asked him not to. It's not his fault, Bill." He stopped, aware that he was talking to his brother for the first time in years. He realized that he missed saying their names.
He heard the sound of Oliver falling down with a groan, and then a pop. Percy felt a presence towering behind him. He was afraid to turn around, but he did, trembling like a leaf as he saw his older brother looking at him with such hurt eyes. "I— it's been a long time, ha?" Percy asked nervously, and he flinched when he saw Bill reach out for him. He didn't know what Bill would to do to him, but he expected some sort of pain.
However, instead, he felt strong arms wrapped around him and throw him up to be held like a child, like he was still small and little. He opened his eyes when he felt kisses being placed on his face, something Bill used to do to comfort his little brothers and sister, but these kisses were wet with tears. Percy automatically wrapped his arms around Bill's neck out of habit, one he thought he had outgrown of many years ago.
"You're alive," Bill said, tears falling down his face as he kept pressing kisses against Percy's skin. He let out a sob. "You're alive. Merlin, I thought you were dead. We didn't even get to say goodbye. You just disappeared, and I thought none of it until the war ended. We buried so many people, and you didn't show up, didn't come home. You're alive."
Bill couldn't give him kisses anymore with the tears and sobs he had, burying his face into Percy's shoulders, and Percy hugged him close, crying as well. There was so much guilt and sadness in Bill's voice, neither of which he deserved, and that broke Percy's heart, feeling the weight of his brother's emotions.
"I'm sorry, Bill," Percy said in a quiet voice, his tone soft. "I didn't mean to disappear like that. I wanted to come home, but I couldn't. There was just too many things I had to deal with, and I didn't know how so I ran away. I missed you so much. I miss everyone."
Bill put Percy down, but he didn't let go. "Come home," he said, wiping his tears with his sleeve. "Everyone misses you too, so much. That bloody clock, Mum keeps looking at it and sees you 'Lost'. Whenever your hand moved to 'Home', she would get so excited and hopeful, but you never show up and she starts crying again. When it moves back, she doesn't leave her room if Dad doesn't convince her to. Come home, Percy."
Percy blinked his tears, hugging his brother tighter. "I can't, Bill," he said regrettably, "not yet. I'm afraid, not just how they will react but also when they start asking questions. I can't answer them, Bill, and I don't know what to do about it."
"We don't want answers. We want you home, Percy. Come home with me, please."
Percy gently pushed Bill away to look at him in the eyes, shaking his head. "I can't, not yet," he repeated, forcing himself to keep looking into his brother's blue eyes. "I want to go home, but not now. I'm not ready, but I will. I've got Oliver to help me. I'll come home, Bill, but not yet."
Bill breathed in deeply, taking a moment to take everything in, and then he nodded. "Okay, Percy," he replied, placing one last kiss on Percy's forehead, "okay."
Percy felt himself smile. "Thank you, Bill. Please don't tell anyone. Let me take my time."
"Anything you want, Percy."
The door opened behind them, and Oliver stuck his head in, hoping that nothing bad happened. "Is everything okay?" he asked, afraid. "It got quiet suddenly. Percy?"
"Everything's fine, Oliver," Bill answered, releasing his brother but not letting go just yet. He kept an arm over Percy's shoulders.
Oliver looked relieved. "Good. I thought I had to break you out, Percy," he tried at a joke, getting small smiles from both brothers. "Would you like some tea, Bill?"
Bill shook his head. "I can't stay for long," he said a little sad he had to leave so soon. "I told Fleur that I'd be back soon. I came to pick up those contract papers you have with Fred and George."
"Yeah, let me get those for you. Give me a moment." Oliver entered his bedroom, going to his desk to look for those documents.
"Percy," Bill said, looking at his brother, "can I see you again anytime soon?"
Percy pursed his lips, hesitant, but he nodded. "Yes," he said, "you can. Oliver, could you give me a piece of paper and a pen please?"
Oliver nodded, bring his lover what he wanted, and Percy took with with a silent thanks. He wrote down his address and gave it to his brother. "Come here if you want to see me," Percy said, and Bill looked over it.
"This is Muggle London," Bill noticed.
"Yes, so be careful getting there. I'm usually home by 7:30 on weekdays and 5 on weekends. I'll be waiting."
Bill smiled, holding onto that piece of paper in his hand. He nodded, and Oliver found those documents by then. "Thanks, Oliver," he said.
They all left the bedroom and into the sitting room, but before Bill could step into the fireplace, Percy pulled him back for one last hug, placing a kiss on his brother's cheek in return. "I'll see you soon, Bill," he whispered.
Bill hugged back silently, and they parted. Bill walked into the fireplace, reaching into his pocket for a pouch of floo powder. "Good night, Oliver," he said with a smile.
"Night, Bill," Oliver said, placing an arm around Percy's waist.
Bill noticed but said nothing about it. "I'll come by soon, Percy," he addressed his brother, and Percy nodded. "Shell Cottage."
With that, Bill left in a flash of green smoke, and Percy collapsed onto the floor, his legs unable to support him anymore. "Percy, are you okay?" Oliver asked, surprised. He picked up his lover and sat him on the couch.
"I'm fine," Percy answered, taking deep breaths. His heart was pounding in his ears, and he started crying again.
Oliver embraced him, placing Percy's head onto his chest. "Tell what you're thinking, Percy. I want to know."
Percy closed his eyes. "I'm so happy," he said, tears staining Oliver's shirt. "I thought he was going to hate me when he realized how stupid I was, but he didn't. He wanted me to come home, Ol'. I still have a home. I feel so relieved. I miss them so much."
Oliver let Percy cry, combing thick red hair in comfort and care. When the tears ran dry, there was a tired smile on Percy's face, and Oliver didn't want him to leave that night. "Stay with me tonight?" he asked.
Percy nodded, digging out his Muggle cellphone, a small brick machinery that let you communicate with others as far as the next continent and further. It shouldn't have worked in Wizarding London, but Percy had dabbled enough with some magic to let this piece of electronic to function in places like this. His recently gained knowledge of Muggle technology helped too.
"Janette?" he said, cellphone against the side of his face. "No, I'm fine. I was calling to ask if you and Aaron wouldn't mind taking care of Molly and Lucy until tomorrow morning. I'm at Oliver's flat right now. I'm sorry for asking so late. Really? Thank you. I will. Night, Janette. Tell my little ones I love them. Yes, I would like to give them good night kisses too. Thank you so much, Janette. You and Aaron are saints."
Oliver kissed him when the call was done, happy about the arrangement. "Wait until we're in bed, you sod," Percy teased, laughing as he fend himself from his lover.
"Let's get there soon then," Oliver replied, taking Percy by the hand.
The next morning, they arrived back to Percy's apartment building, knocking gently on Number 23. They both felt refreshed and happy, holding hands. "Good morning, Percy, Oliver," Janette greeted, opening the door. "Momo, Lulu! Your dad and Oliver are here!"
There was sounds of hurried footsteps coming up behind her, and two of the most adorable children popped out from under her. "Daddy!" the oldest, Molly, greeted, reaching out her arms to her father.
"Good morning, my sweet little girl," Percy said, bending down to pick up his daughter. He placed a kiss on her cheek and she returned one to him. "How was your night?"
"Fun! Dada showed us some of his and Nana's kids and their kids, and Nana gave us both two good night kisses. She said one was from you, and I think I got it."
Percy chuckled. "Nah-huh!" Lucy said, clinging to Oliver's pants and frowning. "Nana gave it to me."
"Shh," Oliver said, placing a finger against his lips. "Quiet down, girls. People are still sleeping. You don't want them to wake up grouchy, right?" Both girls gasped, Molly placing her hands over her mouth. Lucy copied her. "Good. Now Nana gave you both a good night kiss from your daddy."
"Ooh," Molly said, letting go of her mouth.
The adults chuckled. "Thank you so much, Janette," Percy told the old, kindly woman. "I can't imagine life without you and Aaron."
Janette laughed, smiling. "It's nothing at all," she said. "We love having them around. Don't hesitate to bring them over. We're always up for company, especially if it's these two sweet girls we love."
Percy nodded, grateful. "I'll keep that in mind."
"Who wants to go eat breakfast?" Oliver asked, holding onto Lucy's hand.
"We already ate breakfast," Lucy said as she looked up to the Quidditch player, confused.
"There is always second breakfast."
"Oh! Is there second dessert?"
"Only if you're good."
Lucy squealed, delighted at the prospect of having two slices of velvet cake. She was always good.
"We'll see you tomorrow, Janette," Percy said, smiling. "Thank you so much."
Janette happily nodded. "Have fun today," she said, and they left, walking out of the apartment building and to a cafe around the corner. Each girl got juice and a strawberry biscuit while Oliver and Percy ate a light breakfast, the former having tea while the latter coffee. The two listened to the girls, asking questions at appropriate times and commenting when necessary.
After breakfast, they went to the closest park, where Oliver shined, being a Quidditch player and all. "You can't catch me," Oliver sang, dodging as Molly and Lucy tried to catch him as Percy watched nearby. They laughed whenever they missed him, falling into the soft grass instead, until they managed to hit each other on the chin, hard enough to bruise.
"Ow!" Molly shouted as Lucy started to cry, both holding their hands against their chins. Oliver quickly took them to the comfort of their father.
"How badly does it hurt?" Percy said, taking a look at Lucy.
"Like we hit each other in the chin," his youngest replied. Oliver would have laughed if Lucy wasn't crying.
"It's okay. Daddy will kiss you better," Percy said, whispering a healing spell as he kissed his daughter's' chins. The light bruises and pain disappeared like magic, with magic.
Molly was amazed. "Wow, Daddy!" she said, jumping up and down in excitement. "You're like a wizard!"
Percy and Oliver laughed at how right she was. "Oliver is one too, Molly," he told her truthfully. "He's just not as good as me."
"Hey," Oliver complained, gently pushing Percy, who laughed.
"Oh! If you're magic," Lucy said, excited, "then are we magic too, Daddy? Are we?"
Percy nodded, smiling. His daughters were adorable when excited. Lucy and Molly started cheering, jumping up and down in joy. "We're magic too!" they shouted gaining the attention of several other parents who were assumed by their antics. "I want see a dragon!" Lucy told her father, jumping onto his lap. "Where can we see one? Is it at the zoo?"
"Not here," Oliver answered, "but they're certainly in Romania."
"Where's Rowmaynea?" Molly asked, sounding out the new word. "Is there a zoo there too? I want to go."
Percy smiled sadly, kissing his oldest by the hair. "One day, Molly," he told her, "when you two are older. We might have someone to visit when we're there then."
"Really?" Lucy asked, laughing as she leaned forward on the back of a sitting Oliver. "Who, Daddy? Is it a dragon?"
"No, sweetie, but he takes care of dragons, though. His name is Charlie, and he has red hair like us. He's my older brother."
Lucy frowned. "But you don't have a brother."
Percy huffed in amusement. "The two of you make me sound so lonely."
"You're not lonely!" Molly shouted, jumping into her father's lap and looking up at him with her shining gray eyes. She held up her hand, counting with her fingers. "You have me and Lucy and Nana and Dada and Oliver! You have us, Daddy!"
Oliver smiled, sitting closer to Percy, and placed a kiss on the other's cheek. "She's right, Percy," he said, and Lucy nodded, still leaning against Oliver, who wrapped his arms around Percy's waist. "You have people who love you, and a lot of them are waiting for you to come home."
"Daddy, why are you crying?" Lucy asked, sounding sad as she saw small tears fall from her father's face. She reached out for his face and wiped it away, smiling when the tears stopped. "No crying, Daddy. Smile."
And Percy did just that, patting the grass in between him and Oliver. His youngest sat down as his oldest hummed a childish tune. "Daddy," Molly said, looking hopeful in her father's lap, "if I wish to see a dragon, do you think I will?"
"Maybe," Percy replied, but then nodded. "Yes, Molly, if you wish hard it enough, you'll see a dragon one day. Maybe not tomorrow but one day."
Both Molly and Lucy squealed, jumping up and down. "I want to be a dragon!" Lucy shouted, lifting her arms above her head and holding her hands to imitate dragon claws. "Roar!"
Molly giggled, running to hide behind Oliver. "Lucy's a scary dragon!" she shouted, peeking out to look at Lucy, who suddenly frowned. The younger one put her arms down and pouted.
"I'm not a scary dragon. I'm a nice dragon. Nobody wants to play with a scary dragon."
Molly laughed. "Then I'm a dragon too!" she cried out joyfully, doing what her younger sister was doing only moments ago, her arms held up above her head and her hands like claws. "Roar!"
"Yay!" Lucy cheered, becoming a dragon again. Percy hid his laugh behind his hands as Oliver picked up the girls in his arms by the waist.
"Are you dragons who can fly?" Oliver asked, holding both daughters carefully and securely. "It seems that the wind is picking you two up. Do you want to land or fly?"
"We can fly!" both Molly and Lucy shouted, waving their arms excitedly. "We can fly!"
Oliver laughed loudly, trying his best to sound like rumbling thunder. "Glad to have such beautiful dragons on board! Now, the wind will help you catch the most adorable weasel, small but the most delicious morsel."
"Oliver!" Percy chided, blushing as he attempted to stop the smile appearing on his face. He pointed a finger at the wind with a half-serious expression and tone. "You keep those jokes away from my daughters."
"Ah, look!" Oliver said, looking at Molly and Lucy. "Your father is telling us to come and catch him. What do you think, dragons?"
"Catch Daddy!" Lucy shouted, pointing at her father with glee.
Oliver gave Percy a grin that was both playful and predatory, the only warning he gave his lover before charging at the redhead with two dragons in his arms. Percy's eyes widened in a split second, and he was up and running, trying to get away as he shouted for the wind to stop. "I swear to Merlin, Oliver!" Percy shouted, laughing as he ran. Behind him, his dragon daughters were roaring, telling their father they were going to catch him.
It took only five minutes before the dragons caught the weasel with the help of the wind. "I give up!" Percy cried out, falling to the ground exhausted already. Oliver chuckled, not seeming a bit tired as he dropped Molly and Lucy on their prey. "Don't eat me," the redhead told his daughters. "I taste horrible, I swear. You can trust me."
His daughters laughed, their chin on their father's chest as they hugged his tired body. "We won't eat you, Daddy," Lucy said, smiling up at her father. "But can I get a prize for catching you?"
Percy raised an eyebrow, looking at his youngest with a smile. "And what kind of prize do you want, Lucy?" he asked, combing his fingers through her fiery hair.
"Kiss!" Lucy tapped her cheek, and Percy laughed, giving her her reward.
"Me too!" Molly complained, tapping her cheek. "I caught you too, Daddy." Percy complied.
"Do I get one too?" Oliver asked, leaning over the three over of them. "I helped."
Percy rolled his eyes at how childish his lover could be, reaching to pulled Oliver down by his collar. "You don't even have to ask," he said, pulling Oliver by the back of the head for a long, sweet kiss. When they pulled apart, they were both smiling like they were up in the clouds, their faces mere inches apart until small hands pushed Oliver away by the forehead.
"No!" Molly pouted, looking mad. Lucy was frowning, looking hurt. They both clung to their father, who looked perplexed by his daughters' actions and amused by Oliver's confusion. "Daddy is mine."
"Mine too," Lucy mumbled quietly. Percy grew concerned.
"What's wrong, Lucy, Molly?" Percy asked, lifting his daughters with him as he sat up. He placed a comforting arm around their small bodies. His daughters didn't answer him. "Do you want to go home now and take a nap? We can have dinner early when you two wake up, okay?"
Molly nodded while Lucy didn't move. "Sorry," Percy whispered to Oliver, feeling badly about how his daughters was treating his lover at the moment. He managed to get up on his feet without much problem. "They're not upset by you."
Oliver gave him a sympathetic smile, picking up the things they left on the ground. "It's okay, Percy," he replied, whispering too as they walked out of the park and towards Percy's apartment building. "They're pretty tired out, and they might need some more time to get used to the idea of us. Hopefully, they'll understand that I won't ever take their father away from them."
Percy smiled. "Thanks, Oliver. We'll talk to them after dinner about it. I'll probably ask Janette and Aaron about it too. Maybe they know something."
To be honest, I don't know what I'm doing, I just really like Percy Weasley because he is a character that was never really developed but used as a pawn to add internal drama to the already existing plot. He isn't the most important Weasley; he is not as cool as his elder brothers, part of a pair of twins, the youngest brother, or the first Weasley daughter in generations. He dreamed of being the Ministry of Magic in the canon, but in my opinion, it is obvious that J.K. Rowling never wanted that for him, a stuck-up, pretentious, average officer worker who thought he was better than others when there are better people who had better character and control, such as Cho Chang, Hermione Granger, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and so on. And yet, as I stated, he lacks a lot of story, and I sort of fell in love with Percy Weasley as a creator would their creations because I changed the canon a bit and wrote in the blank parts of his life after the Second Wizarding War, implementing his wife Audrey and his daughters Molly II and Lucy, all of which are provided with little to no information of.
Anyway, I know that this work won't garner a lot of attention because Percy Weasley is a minor character, but this work has been on my mind for a few years (and still in progress) and I just wanted to put it out there. So thank you for reading. ^^ I hope to actually finish this one day. I'm also very nervous.
Tag(s): Implied Torture, Suicidal Thoughts, Traumatic Flashback
I just wanted to say thank you so much for your support so here's the second chapter! ^^ Truly much love for y'all.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Sit still, Molly, Lucy," he told his daughters, getting up and placing the book on Lucy's lap. He went to the window and quickly let the owl in, happy to have shelter from the cold London air. Percy carefully took the letter from its leg as it perched on his arm.
"What's that, Daddy?" Molly asked, pointing at the owl. Neither girls moved just like he told them to, but both were interested by the small winged creature.
Percy smiled, bringing the owl closer to his girls, who looked a little frightened by an odd-looking bird. "It's okay," he assured them, standing a few feet away with the owl. "It's an owl. It brings letters and packages to and from places. Don't be scared, girls. It's trained, so it won't bite, unless you fight over it. Do you want to pet it?"
Molly and Lucy nervously nodded, and their father placed the midnight owl on Molly's lap, taking the book from Lucy to put it on the coffee table. Lucy scoot closer as Molly hesitantly tried to pet the owl. "Gentle, like this," Percy said, showing them how to touch the bird. When the owl moved its head happily against the wizard's hand, the girls giggled, feeling much more confident as they attempted to do the same as their father, gentle and careful.
The owl screeched a soft, content sound, settling itself onto Molly's lap as both girls pet it. "She's so pretty," Lucy commented, giggling. "Her name is funny. Moon Moon."
"Moon Moon," Molly repeated, laughing too.
"How do you know that, Lucy?" Percy asked, eyebrows in question.
Lucy looked up, looking worried like she thought her father was upset with her. "She told me," the youngest answered, frowning like a kicked puppy. Percy relaxed his face, realizing how his expression was scaring his daughter.
"You can understand her?" Percy asked instead, and Lucy nodded, smiling now that her father's tone and face lightened.
"I didn't hear Moon Moon say anything," Molly commented, leaning her right ear closer to the midnight owl. "She's not talking to me. That's not fair."
Lucy crossed her arms. "I'm not lying," she added in a pout.
"I know, Lucy," Percy assured, picking Lucy up just to place her on his lap as he sat down. "Did Moon Moon say anything else to you?"
Lucy perked up, petting the owl again. "She said Bill and Fleur are her owners. Moon Moon said that Bill has red hair like us."
Percy held back his surprise, looking at the letter in his hand. He opened it, noticing his daughters were looking too, so he lowered the letter to their level, careful not to knock Moon Moon off of Molly's lap. "What's that?" Molly asked, trying to read the cursive writing, but she was having trouble as she was only starting on the alphabet. "A piece of paper? It looks funny, Daddy."
Percy chuckled. "It's a letter," he answered, "one written by the red head man named Bill."
"Ohh," Lucy sounded out in wonder. "Read it out loud, Daddy, please?"
"Alright, since you asked politely," Percy said, kissing his daughter's hair. "Is tomorrow night a good time to visit, around 8? Love, Bill."
"The redhead man wants to visit?" Molly asked, so excited Moon Moon would have fallen off the couch if Lucy hadn't caught her first, her small hands gently holding the small owl. Moon Moon made an irritated sound at Molly. "Oops. Sorry, Moon Moon." Percy's oldest placed a light kiss on the midnight owl's head, and the owl responded by burrowing herself in Lucy's hands, already forgiving the eldest. "Can he come?"
Percy patted Molly's sunset hair for doing the right thing. "I'm not sure," he confessed truthfully. His daughters knew nothing about his life before them, and he wasn't sure he was ready to go back, not yet anyway.
"Can the redhead man visit, Daddy?" Lucy asked, already using the puppy eyes. "I want to see him. Moon Moon said he's really nice and has two little girls too. Maybe he'll bring them and we can be friends."
That was reason enough for Percy to agree, sighing in easy defeat. "If you really want to, then I'll tell him he can come tomorrow," he said, his daughters already nodding frantically. He smiled. "Molly, could you go get one of Daddy's pens for me?"
Molly nodded, jumping off the couch carefully before walking quickly into her father's bedroom. There was no running in the hallways. Percy ripped off a piece off of Bill's letter, glad that the string attached to the letter was still tied to Moon Moon's leg. Molly came back with a Muggle ballpoint pen in hand, giving it to her father with enthusiasm.
"Can I write it, Daddy?" Lucy asked.
"Sure, Lucy," Percy said, holding the pen in her hand and her hand in his. He moved their hands slowly, reading out what they were writing. "Tomorrow night at 8 is a good time. See you then. —P.W.”
"Put our names too, Daddy," Molly said.
"But I want to keep you two a surprise, Molly. Bill doesn't know about you yet."
Lucy gasped. "I love surprises," she whispered like it was a great secret.
"Me too," Molly added, placing her hands over her mouth as if she was hiding.
"You two will be a great surprise," Percy said, believing it. He tied his response letter to Moon Moon's leg. "Molly, do you want to let Moon Moon out so she can fly back to Bill?"
"Yes," Molly said, holding her hands out to Lucy, who opened her hands to let Moon Moon out. The owl hopped over to Molly, resting comfortably.
Percy got up, holding Lucy in his arms as he and Molly headed to the window. "Okay, now gently let her out the window. Don't worry. She can fly, but be careful not to hit yourself."
Molly nodded, sticking her small arms out the window, and she threw Moon Moon from her hands, the owl flapping her wings on the descent and rising up to the moon.
"Wow," Lucy said as the three of them watched the owl fly away, becoming smaller and smaller.
"Time for bed now," Percy said, smiling. "You two need to rest so that you can be excited surprised for Bill tomorrow."
It was nearly eight o'clock, and Bill Apparated himself in a dark corner right where the address Percy gave him was. He walked a block to enter an apartment building, wondering what his brother was doing here. He stopped at the second floor and read the numbers on the doors to number 25. He knocked, and a moment later, the door opened.
"Percy," the eldest Weasley son greeted, his tone soft and his gaze gentle. He was dressed in Muggle clothing, a little too small for his large stature, but it only made him more handsome as they fit on his body well, showing off his muscles. "May I come in?"
"Bill," Percy replied, stuttering a little nervously. He opened the door a little wider, welcoming his brother in. "Please. I have some people who want to meet you."
Bill raised an eyebrow, entering the apartment, and a surprise came running his way, two of them really. It was his reflexes gained from the labor of fatherhood that allowed him to catch the two bundle of energy in his arms, himself lowered to the floor. He was surprised by the twins with the Weasley complexion and beauty, almost a spitting image of Ginny when she was a child with a hint of foreign blood. And their hair, they had red hair too, the older with hair of the sunset and the younger with hair of fire.
"Are you Bill?" the older of the two asked, tugging for Bill's attention. "I'm Molly!"
"'M Lucy!" the younger one added, staring in awe of Bill's scars. She reached out to touch one, and Bill sat down to their level to let her have a better look. "Oooooh."
"Are you Bill?" Molly repeated, looking at his scars too. "Are you Daddy's friend?"
Bill turned around to take a look at his younger brother, who was becoming nervous. The distraction was working, but for how long? Percy gave him a nod, confirming what Bill had already guessed.
"I am Bill," Bill answered, looking adoringly at his two nieces for the first time. "My name is Bill Weasley, and I'm your father's oldest brother, so I'm your uncle."
"That can't be right," Molly said as a matter-of-factually, shaking her head. "Daddy doesn't have a brother, and his name is Percy Weston. Nana said that brothers and sisters share the same last name, like how daughters share their daddy's last name."
He changed his name, Bill thought.
"No," Percy said, coming up behind them. There was hesitation in his eyes, but it quickly disappeared as if it was thought on before. "Bill is your uncle. Weston is just a pretend name. My last name is Weasley, so it's yours too." Hopefully, this revelation wouldn't cause his daughters great confusion.
"So I'm not Molly Weston?" Molly asked, sounding curious more than anything. "I'm Molly Weasley?"
Percy smiled, memory came from that name. "Close. Molly Weasley the Second."
Molly looked confused, frowning, and Bill laughed. "You named her after Mum," he noted, pulling Percy to sit beside him and his daughters. He hugged his brother, burying his face into Percy's shoulder again. "She will be so happy."
A smile quirked up on the corner of Percy's lips, wrapping his arms around Bill's shoulders. "I hope so," he replied quietly, feeling less nervous. "I can't wait to bring them home to the Burrow and show them to Mum and Dad."
"Merlin, I can't wait either."
"You can't take Daddy," the youngest interrupted, digging her body in between the two brothers. Her tone was nearing upset, and her expression was defensive, facing Bill with sudden dislike. "Home is where me and Molly is for Daddy, and home is where Daddy is for me and Molly. You can't take him!" Then Lucy clung onto her father as she continued to look at Bill with contempt.
"Oh, Lucy," Percy said in a comforting tone, hugging his youngest. "Bill won't take me away. I won't go anywhere without you or Molly, I promise. You two are too important to leave. Where I go, you two will be there with me. Believe me, Lucy."
"I don't believe Bill!"
Percy looked unsure of what to do, and so did Bill. Never had a child ever dislike the eldest Weasley son before like this, believing that he would do such a thing like taking their father away.
"Bill won't take Daddy away," Molly said, sitting herself on Bill's lap all of the sudden. She wrapped her uncle's arms around her, already trusting him with a smile. "He loves Daddy too and wouldn't do anything to hurt Daddy."
"How do you know?" Lucy asked, calming down a little as her tears stopped.
"I don't know. Bill just feels like it." Molly shrugged.
Lucy rubbed her eyes with her arm. Her father stopped her, wiping her face gently with his thumb instead. She calmed down, sitting on her father's lap. "Am I named after someone too?" she asked Bill, already putting the past behind her.
Bill blinked, taking a moment to realised his niece was talking to him. He gave her an apologetic smile. "Well, there's no one that I know of named Lucy or anything close on the family tree," he answered her as soothingly as possible, not wanting to upset her anymore than he already had. "Ask your father. He probably named you."
Lucy nodded, looking up to her father. "Am I named after someone too?" she asked again.
Percy nodded slowly, taking a look at his brother before answer. "Your full name is Lucy Narcissa Weasley," he said. "Those people, they were friends of mine for a while before I met your mother. They were very kind to me when I . . . when I needed some kindness."
"Can I meet them, Daddy?"
Percy pursed his lips. "We'll see, Lucy, we'll see."
Bill reached out to squeeze his younger brother's hand, pulling him in for another hug with his two nieces between them. He kissed Percy on the forehead, like how their mother would have done it. "You have two very beautiful daughters, Percy," he told his brother. "I'm so proud of you."
They stayed like that for a while, sitting on the floor by the door, and they talked, Bill and Percy. Bill caught Percy up with his life since the War, becoming one of the highest members of the national committee board at Gringotts, having two daughters and planning to have a third. Molly and Lucy asked questions as they listened, interested in what their uncle had to say, especially about the Wizarding world. Bill chose to keep out anything about the rest of the family, wanting the others to tell Percy themselves when they got the chance. It wasn't long before Molly and Lucy fell asleep on their laps, cradled like the little children they were.
Percy caught Bill up in his life as well, though obviously excluding the first three years after his disappearance. He told Bill about wandering into Muggle London and finding a job at the bar he was working at now, the mother of his children (some things were excluding here as well), the birth of Molly and Lucy, the saintly Novas, and Oliver, how he happened to just be at the bar at that time when Percy had a shift. He told Bill about how Oliver helped him move on from Audrey's death and the past.
"You and Oliver are serious," Bill said, not a question or a statement. "How long?"
"Less than a year," Percy answered, smiling. "Molly and Lucy really love him."
"Did Lucy think he'd take you away too?" That was an amusing thought.
"Both of them, actually, and I don't know why. Last week, they lashed out at Oliver when I kissed him. It was odd. They've never done anything like that before. And yesterday as well."
"Something happened? Did they get hurt?"
Percy shook his head, smiling. "No, it was just that Lucy said that your owl spoke to her, saying that her name was Moon Moon. Lucy learned your name and Fleur's from your owl."
"Communicating with animals? That takes years of practice, Percy."
"I know, and I don't know what to do about it, Bill. It was Oliver's idea for me to come back to the Wizarding world, and I wouldn't have agreed if I didn't miss you and everyone else so badly. And, and I'm worried about Molly and Lucy. It's expected that they show the first signs of magic at this age, but it shouldn't have Lucy nearly floating away. I barely caught her, and then Molly has been bursting out in tears and screams, and she doesn't even know why when she stops. That's not supposed to happen, Bill. I don't think they can stay in the Muggle world for much longer if it goes on like this."
Bill combed his fingers through Percy's hair carefully, already feeling how tensed and worried his brother was. "We'll just have to wait and see, Percy," he said. "If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask me. If you need to leave Muggle London, I have a spare house in Ireland you can take them."
Percy leaned into his brother's touch, smiling. "Thank you, Bill," he said, voice softened and lowered. "I'm sorry I didn't come home. I didn't think that they would be . . . someone to miss me since I disowned all of you for a job. I didn't realize how foolish and how much of a prat I was then. I didn't mean to make you sad or cry for me."
Bill shushed his brother gently. "It was in the past, Percy, and you're alive and well. That's all that really matters, but if saying sorry helps you forgive yourself, I'll listen to all of them. I just want you to come home and show Mum and Dad the two granddaughters they never knew they had. I want to dote on them and let my daughters dote on them. I want you to come home and bring Molly and Lucy with you and never want to leave again."
Percy nodded, eyes wet but not crying. "Okay, Bill," he replied, smiling. "I'll come home. Just wait for me."
Bill nodded too, looking at the clock. It was nearly ten, meaning he was there for almost two hours. "I need to go home now, Percy," he said, holding Molly carefully in his arms. "Can I tuck her in?"
"Of course," Percy said with an affectionate smile, picking up his youngest and heading towards their shared bedroom. Bill followed quietly.
Their bedroom was not too big nor too small for two little girls, two beds facing the door with a window between the two in the wall. Percy brought Lucy to the bed on the right, pointing at the bed on the left to Bill.
Bill got the message and brought Molly to her bed. "Are you leaving?" she quietly asked, gaining a little conscious in her sleepy state.
"Yes, but I'll be back for another visit," Bill answered, placing the blanket over her snugly. "Would that be okay?"
Molly nodded weakly. "Can I call you Uncle Bill?" she asked, rubbing her eye.
"Uncle Bill is perfect. You can tell Lucy she can call me that too."
"Okay, Uncle Bill," she said, reaching a hand out to Bill as if she was in a daze, unaware of the calculated movement she was making. There was a dull yet bright look in her eyes, as if she was between consciousness and sleep. "Don't leave Daddy alone. He's afraid of being alone."
Her small hand touched Bill by the side of his face, and the older Weasley felt himself get dragged into a void, a void that lead to a memory.
The doors of the master bedroom slammed shut, but there was no sounds of it being locked. Percy was on the large bed placed right in the middle of the room, crying into his arms as his bruised, beaten body trembled from the cold and the fear.
There was a small pop, and a house elf appeared, her expression sad and somber. She said nothing as she set to make Percy as comfortable as possible, healing the bruises and cuts on his skin, but she couldn't do anything for his mind. She cleaned and washed him, pulling the thin silk over him as he continued to sob.
"Kill me," Percy begged quietly, pleading with pieces of his broken heart in his eyes. "Please, Lili, kill me. No more, Lili. No more."
The house-elf, Lili, started crying, fat tears falling from her large eyes, but she did not obey, only patting Percy's hair gently as if to make up for all the horrors he went through.
And the memory faded, pulling Bill away.
Molly's eyes began to close, his tears falling onto her sweet face. "He hurt Daddy, Uncle Bill," she whispered, speaking as if she knew the past was a certainty. "Don't let him hurt Daddy again."
"Bill?" Percy said from the other side of the room, getting up from Lucy's bed. He walked towards them, concerned. "What happened? Are you hurt?"
Bill grabbed his little brother by the hand, not realizing how harsh his grip was as he dragged Percy out the bedroom, and closed the door behind them. He let go of Percy's hand, grabbing his brother by the face in exchange.
"Who hurt you?" Bill asked, voice broken with quiet sobs and rising anger. His tone was stern with demand as his eyes showed questions. "I saw you crying, Percy. Who was it?"
Percy looked confused. "What are you talking about, Bill?" he asked. "Who are you talking about?"
"The one who raped you. The one who tortured you."
The blood ran down from Percy's face, and the younger one's face became pale like death. "How do you know?" he asked, frightened as his body tensed. His eyes were looking away.
"Molly," Bill answered, voice more quiet than the night, "she showed me a memory. You were crying and shaking, and you wanted to die. You begged a house elf to kill you, but it wasn't just a memory. I felt everything you felt, and I felt myself shaking too, Percy. Merlin, Percy, who did this to you? Who hurt you like this?"
Percy bit his lips, trying to pull away. "You should go home, Bill," he said, unable to release himself. "It's getting late, and I don't want to talk about it. I can't."
"I can't!" Percy shouted, quickly remembering that it was late and his daughters were asleep. There was terror in his eyes, and he lowered his voice, breathing deeply to calm himself. "I can't, okay? I've been trying so hard to forget everything, forget about him, but it's been so hard. I'm scared he'd still be alive and come back for me. I met the mother of my children, and I loved her, but I couldn't forget. Bill, don't make me talk about it, please. Just let it go."
Bill pulled Percy in for a hug, one he never wanted to let go of as he felt Percy's entire body shudder in fear of old memories. "Okay, Percy," the older one said. "Okay."
In canon, Percy Weasley has two daughter: Molly II, named after his mother, and Lucy, who is not seemingly named after anymore. So I filled in the blank: the only other character I recall whose name is related to the name Lucy, meaning 'light,' is Lucius Malfoy.
I thought about this all the way back to "A Broken Circle,” and boy, when the piece fall into place with each other, oh my gods
Lucy was floating, drifting in the sky like a cloud. The air was cold, and she could see land stretch on for miles below her. She looked down, waiting for something to happen. Then a roar came from below, and she was falling, only to land on her feet on the dirt ground.
And she landed before a dragon, large and red like garnets on fire. He stood on his strong legs, flapping his wings, but he was unable to fly too high with the charmed collar around his neck.
"A human child," the dragon said, voice deep and low, stopping himself when he noticed Lucy. He lowered his neck, his head falling at her level, and he looked at her curiously. His voice didn't carry from any vocal chords but spoke to her in her head.
Lucy smiled, unafraid that a dragon was right before her, and hugged him by his long nose. "Dragon!" she cried out in joy. "Daddy was right! If I wished, I would see a dragon, and I did! Yay!"
The dragon snorted, his hot air knocking her backwards. He was amused when she simply picked herself up and hugged him again, her body tiny against his. "You are a magical human," he said, talking to himself, "but there's something odd about you. You should have been born from a dark magic, powerful magic. But its origin is died, and the darkness died with it, leaving only the vastnass of the power. You are one half of the whole, both bright and loving. Interesting. What is your name, child?"
"Lucy!" she answered, climbing up on the dragon's face.
The dragon chuckled, allowing her to do as she pleased. She was delightful, and he liked her already. "A fitting name," he said, placing his head on the ground as his eyes followed her. "I am Esh-ban, my little light, and I am a king of my kind."
"Esh-ban?" Lucy repeated, sitting on the dragon's nose.
"Yes, and make sure to remember that, little one. Tell me, child, where do you live?"
Lucy perked up at the question, happy that she could answer. "I live in London! And I live with Daddy and Molly and Nana and Dada, and sometimes, Oliver comes too! Oh, I just met a man with red hair like me today. He has scars and looks scary, but he's really nice like a teddy bear! His name is Bill Weasley! He's my uncle, so I have the same last name as him.”
"Red haired man named Weasley?" Esh - ban questioned, raising a scaled eyebrow. "What a coincidence. There is also a man with red hair named Weasley here too, but people call him Charlie. Other dragons think he's nice as well. Even when a few newcomers would bite him, he always smiles in the end. He really likes us dragons."
Lucy's eyes widened. "Really? Can I see him?” She started bouncing on his nose, but the dragon didn't tell her stop. Her enthusiasm was stimulating.
"I am sorry, child, but it is late. He won't be here until morning, but I have been a little too bored here for a while. That's the reason why they attached this pathetic chain around my neck, but as a king of dragons, it is easy to get rid of. Why don't I bring him to you instead? Even if you see him now, he won't be able to see you because you're just dreaming, your spirit traveling the world while your body sleeps. What do you think, princess?"
"Yeah!" Lucy cried out cheerfully, her spirit being lifted by a gentle pull. "I want to see the red hair man named Charlie!"
The dragon chuckled, a low rumbling like rolling thunder that would not strike. "It is a promise then, my little Lucy," Esh - ban said, lifting his head up to the sky so that her stay would last a little longer as she drifted away. "I will come to London so that you can meet Charlie Weasley. I'll be there soon. Goodbye, Lucy."
"Bye - bye, Esh-ban!" Lucy said in return, waving as she disappeared and returned home.
"Are you sure Molly and Lucy said that?" Oliver asked, nervous as they stood in Percy's bedroom. The two girls were out in the sitting room, watching Muggle television.
"Yes, they did, Ol'," Percy said, putting on a black long sleeve shirt. He had to get to work in half a hour. He stopped, looking over his shoulder to look at his love with soft eyes. "They really asked for you to take care of them tonight. They most likely wanted to see you before you leave on that training regimen in Australia.”
Oliver pursed his lips in half disbelief, sitting on the bed. "But what about what happened a few weeks ago? At the park? I almost made them cry! Should you even let the man who made your daughters cry take care of them?"
Percy rolled his eyes, walking up to where Oliver was sitting. "That's up to Molly and Lucy to decide," he said, leaning down to stroke his lover's face comfortingly as they kissed. They both melted into the kiss.
"Well, if you say so," Oliver said, almost breathlessly when they parted. "Let's just hope you're right."
"I am." Percy went to his closet and picked out a thick jacket.
They both left the bedroom and into the living room, where Molly and Lucy were sitting. "Lucy, what did I say about sitting too close to the telly?" Percy said, frowning when he saw that his youngest was sitting only two feet away from the television screen.
"Don't sit too close to the telly," Lucy answered, getting off the floor and going to sit next to her twin sister on the couch. Molly giggled.
"And don't forget that again," Percy said, standing behind the couch as he placed a kiss on their foreheads. "I'm going to work now, so you two be on your best behavior."
"Okay, Daddy," Molly said as Lucy nodded. Their attention left the television and now onto Oliver, who smiled at them.
"If there's any problem, go to Janette and Aaron," Percy told Oliver as he walked to the door. "If it's an emergency, you know how to reach me."
"Yes, yes, Percy," Oliver said, reaching an arm around his lover's waist. "Be careful getting there."
Percy laughed, wrapping his arms around Oliver's shoulders and bringing their lips close. "Yes, yes, Ol'," he lightly mocked as they kissed again.
"Daddy, you have to get to work," Lucy said in the background.
Molly was at their feet, pushing their father out the door. "Go, Daddy," she said, a dignified and authoritative five year old. "Me and Lucy want to talk to Oliver without you here."
"Okay, okay," Percy said, obeying his daughters. He shared a questioning look with Oliver, who shrugged, but the look was disconnected when Molly was pushing her father out the door again. "Good night, Molly. Goodnight, Lucy. I'll see you in a bit, Ol'."
"Night night, Daddy," Molly and Lucy said as the door closed, and Molly was already dragging Oliver by the hand to the couch. She sat him in between her and her sister, both looking at him with determined eyes that were soft with affection.
Oliver nervously cleared his throat, never in the center of such expression by those younger than him by twenty years at least. "So what is it that you two want to talk to me about?" he asked, giving them a smile. Though it was really nerve wrenching to be stared at so intensely by two little girls, there was possibly no way that he could never not smile at them. They were the precious daughters of his lover, and Percy, at this point (and even before then), was one of the most important people in his life. By default, so are his daughters, but it wasn't to say that Molly and Lucy didn't earn a place in his heart on their own.
"You love Daddy," Molly stated, "and Daddy loves you."
Oliver nodded without hesitation. "Yes, I do, and I hope you're right about that, Molly."
"He does love you, Oliver," Lucy added, climbing onto Oliver's lap, "and we love you too."
There was a sense of great relief running out through his entire body, and Oliver broke out with the biggest grin. He wrapped his arms around the girls, placing a kiss on their foreheads out of gratitude and happiness. "I love you too," he replied. "That makes me so happy. I thought you hated me after what happened a few weeks ago at the park."
"We don't hate you," Lucy said, sounding hurt as she stuck her bottom lip out. "Is that why you don't come over as much anymore? We're sorry, Oliver."
"It's okay, Lucy, nothing to worry about," Oliver assured, his arms still holding the girls closely. "I just thought you need some space after how upset you two got. I didn't know what I did wrong."
"You didn't do anything," Molly said, hugging Oliver. "You and Daddy felt so far away, like you were flying away up to the clouds. I thought you were going to leave us."
"And if Daddy leaves, we can't go home," Lucy said, her eyes wide like the five year old she was. "Daddy's the only home we have."
Oliver's expression softened, looking at the youngest as he comb through her fiery hair. "That would never happen," he said quietly, saying what would only be known between the three of them. "Percy and I won't go up into the clouds. We have something to keep us grounded, and they are the two most beautiful girls in the world. And that won't be true, that he's your only home. You have me and the rest of the Weasley family. Did your father tell you about his brothers and sister?"
"We have an Uncle Bill now," Lucy answered, perking up happily, "and there's someone named Charlie with red hair too. His name is Weasley too!"
"Charlie?" Molly repeated.
“Your dad told you about Charlie?” Oliver asked. “He's also your dad’s brother.”
Lucy shrugged. "I don't know. Esh-ban said there's a red haired man named Charlie, and his last name is Weasley too."
"Who's Esh-ban?" Oliver asked, partially lost in the conversation. It seemed that Molly was too.
"A king of dragons!" Lucy exclaimed, jumping up and positioning herself like a dragon again in the older man's lap. "He's so big and red, and he said that he's going to bring Charlie to London so I can see him! I told Esh-ban about Daddy and Molly and Nana and Dada and you, Oliver, and he called me a princess and his little light. I think he wants to be my friend."
"I want to see Esh-ban," Molly said, sounding just as excited. "When is he coming to London, Lucy?"
Lucy frowned. "I didn't get to ask because I woke up, but he said it was a promise and you can't break promises when you make them. Esh - ban's coming to London, Molly."
"It'll be exciting to meet him," Oliver humored, realizing that it was all a dream. He looked at the clock above the small television, which was still on but only a low noise in the background. "We have two hours before it's time to go to bed. What do you want to do?"
Molly and Lucy made thinking faces, wondering what would be fun to do. "Daddy said you were a wizard, Oliver," the youngest suddenly said. "Can you show us some magic then?"
Oliver shook his head, giving them a gentle smile. "I'm sorry, Lucy, but you should ask your father first. Now, don't look at me like that, you two. Just wait a little longer, and I'll show you all kinds of magic."
"Promise?" Molly asked, pouring a little but most willing to compromise.
"Promise. Now why don't I tell you some stories, back when your father and I were students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?"
"What's Hogwarts, Oliver?" Lucy asked, curious.
"Well, Lucy, it's a school for people with magic, just like you and Molly. One day, when you get a letter, you'll get to go there too. It's an amazing place. I was the captain of the Quidditch team, and before then, I got to play with your Uncle Bill and . . ."
If there was one thing that Molly Weasley was good at, it was being a mother, and being a mother involved getting a feeling every time one of her children was up to something. Bill could tell that she had a feeling about him, and he just hoped she would be kind of enough not to bring it up.
“Is something wrong, Bill?” his mother asked. Nevermind, then.
Bill pretended that he didn't know what she was talking about, but being her oldest, he knew the extent of her mothering. “What do you mean, Mum?” he asked politely, looking through the Daily Prophet at the kitchen table. It was such a lovely Sunday, and he and Fleur had brought their daughters to the Burrow like they do every other week.
Molly frowned, crossing her arms. They could hear the laughter of Victoire and Dominique as their grandfather chased after the garden gnomes. Fleur was drinking tea outside on the porch, watching them. Bill had decided to keep his mother company as she cleaned the house that morning.
“You ask that, but you know what I mean,” she said all-knowingly as she dried the dishes. “Is there something important you want to tell me, Bill? Is Fleur pregnant?”
Bill nearly choked on the sip of tea he was sure his mother timed correctly. Instead, he powered through the comment and set down his cup when he got himself together. “Mum,” he groaned, rolling his eyes. He knew his parents wanted a large family, but a third child? Probably not for a little while longer, but that wasn't important at the moment. “No, Fleur’s not pregnant. It's nothing. You're just overthinking too much.”
“That's what you say, Bill. You have that look in your eyes I haven't seen since the last time you played hide-and-seek as a child when you found one of your siblings. It's like you have a secret and can't wait to tell everyone.”
“That was a long time ago, Mum. It's nothing, really. I just met . . . an old friend, that's all. Haven't seen him since before the War. He's doing well with two little girls and his boyfriend.”
“Oh, that's nice, Bill. You can invite him over for Sunday dinner if you like.”
“I'm hoping I can do that, but it might not be for a while though. He hasn't been much of a wizard these days and has been living in Muggle London for years.”
His mother sighed, sounding nostalgic laced with regret as she continued drying the dishes. “Sometimes I imagine Percy could be like your old friend, like he ran away from the War and settled into Muggle life with a family.”
Bill swallowed in guilt, wanting to tell her that his old friend was Percy, but he didn't. It wasn’t the right time yet, and most of all, it wasn’t his decision to make. He promised Percy not to tell anyone, so he stood up and wrapped his arms around his mother's shoulders in comfort, his head resting on her head as he was a foot taller than she was and could do so comfortably.
“I know, Mum,” he told her, her hand placed in his arm. “I know. I miss him too. It'll be okay.”
“We just never got to say goodbye,” she said, sighing again.
Bill was glad that she had moved on enough that she no longer burst into tears anymore. She hadn't for years, but she had seemed to fade away into a quiet sadness whenever Percy came up as a topic. He hoped that Percy would come home one day. He wanted his brother back, and he wanted his nieces to meet their family.
“Charlie wrote back this week,” his mother then said, smiling a little now. Bill kissed her on the forehead before letting go and going back to his paper and tea. “Apparently, one of the dragons escaped recently, and everyone's concerned because it's one of their biggest dragons. Broke its chain one morning and disappeared in the sky, heading towards London apparently. Charlie's one of the people who are chasing it.”
“Haven't heard of any dragons escaping from Romania,” Bill replied. “Is Charlie going to have some time to visit?”
“If they catch it without any trouble. Charlie has no idea why it escape. It never did anything that made it seemed unhappy.”
Bill shrugged. “Who knows about dragons? Blasted creatures.”
Molly laughed lightly. “If that was only how your brother felt about them, I would have more grandchildren right now.”
Bill laughed too. “If you had anymore grandchildren, Mum, everyone in London would be descended from you and Da in several generations.”
Molly sighed wishfully, and then she smiled. “If only that could be true.”
“Daddy,” Lucy said, looking up at her father as he chopping some carrots next to a small boiling pot of soup. Molly was sitting in the dining table with a coloring book and a box of crayon, her sister just left her own seat.
“Yes, Lucy?” Percy asked, glancing over her as he continued chopping.
“I had a dream again,” his youngest said, sounding excited yet tired. That was concerning.
Percy put down the knife and washed his hands, wiping them dry against his pants as he crouched down to Lucy’s level so she didn't have to keep looking up. “A dream?” he asked, placing a hand against her forehead. It was at a normal temperature, so she wasn't coming down with a fever any time soon. “What was it about?”
Lucy giggled, placing her hands on her father's knee for some balance as she leaned forward. “I met Esh-ban again,” she told him. “He was flying in the sky, and he said he was going to come to see me, Daddy.”
“Who's Esh-ban?” Percy asked, the first time he had ever heard that name.
“It's Lucy’s dragon king friend!” Molly answered loudly from the dining table. “He's big and red and going to be my friend too!”
Percy chuckled, placing a kiss on Lucy’s cheek. “That sounds nice,” he said, standing up and going back to the carrots. It was just a character in her dreams. Nothing bad, but he might have to take Lucy to bed with him for a few nights. Both of his daughters had a strict sleeping schedule so neither should be tired so early in the day. He'd take Molly too since she would pout if he only took Lucy with him. That's how it was when Oliver first stayed overnights. “I can't wait to meet your friend. I hope he'll be friend with me too, Lucy.”
Lucy nodded enthusiastically, bouncing her way towards her sister. “Esh-ban will love you, Daddy,” she told him as she joined in the coloring again.
“Daddy,” Molly called out this time. Percy hummed in reply. “Can you show magic? We asked Ollie, but he said we should ask you first.”
Percy thought on this for a moment, wanting to say yes. They were young enough where they won't remember to ask this again for a few more years if he distracts them enough, but it wouldn't be fair to them as growing witches. It wouldn't be fair if he kept it all from them since he had been keeping his past from them, be that they wouldn't fully understand didn't matter. Maybe if it was something small, it wouldn't be too bad. They ask to more again, but curiosity was a child's right.
“Okay, Molly,” Percy finally said, looking over his shoulder to his daughters. “I'll show you some magic after breakfast. It's almost done so be patient.”
Both his daughters cheered, and Percy smiled as he made breakfast.
An hour later, after the table was cleared and the kitchen cleaned up, Percy was sitting on the couch with his daughters who pressed up right next to him in anticipation. He laughed softly, almost in disbelief of how wonderful his daughters were.
“I can only show you basic magic right now,” Percy told Molly and Lucy. “Wizards and witches are much better at magic with a wand, but I don't have mine right now so anything I do won't be too impressive.”
“But you're magic, Daddy,” Lucy said, frowning a little. “And you're my Daddy. You're imp - pres - sit.”
Percy laughed again, pressing a kiss to his youngest daughter's skin. “Why, thank you, Lucy.”
“Go on, Daddy,” Molly urged, nearly bouncing on her seat. “Teach us magic!”
“Alright, alright. Okay, do you see that book on the shelf?”
“Ooh, I know that one,” Lucy perked up, pointing at the book as well. “It's Snow White.”
“Mhmm, and I'm going to make it float in the air. Now, watch. Wingardium leviosa.”
As Percy spoke the spell, loud and clear, in place of his wand, he used his hand to make the movement. It was only after spending weeks of little to no progress that he learned that he was not one of those talented wizards who could cast a spell with just a word; he had to make up for the lack of a casting medium, and using his hand to feature the proper wand movement was one of the best ways to do so.
He smiled when he heard Molly and Lucy gape loudly when the book lifted off the shelf and began to float in the air like he said it would. Percy waved his hand, and the book imitated the movement, now bobbing up and down and flapping itself like a butterfly.
“Wow, Daddy,” Molly said, laughing as she jumped off the couch and attempted to catch the flying book. “I'm going to catch it!”
“Me too! Me too!” Lucy cried out as she jumped off as well and played along with her older sister.
Percy started laughing as he kept the book up in the air, though lower now so that it wouldn't be too hard for two little girls to chase and catch. He only stopped when he noticed that the book had slowly flew lower, closer to the ground than he'd like, and Molly caught it in her arms. He couldn't hold any spell for too long in this state.
“I caught the book!” she shouted, proud of herself. “Look, Daddy!”
“That's not fair!” Lucy pouted, crossing her arms. “I want to catch the book.”
Molly frowned, looking as if she was going to cry. Out of the two, she was the most sensitive and never really liked it when someone was anything but happy with her. “Don't be mad, Lucy,” she tried, holding out the book to her little sister. “Why don't we do magic like Daddy? We're magic too!”
Lucy brightened up, nodding as she took a few steps back to make space between her and the book. Percy thought he should stop them, but they were having so much fun. “Lucy,” he tried anyway. The extent of their magic was questionable since they were born.
He remembered the day Molly and Lucy were born like it was yesterday. Audrey was taken into extensive care, and after a grueling twenty hours of labor, the two most precious things in the world were born. Percy would only consider the mother to his children a saint. She let him name them, knowing how much it meant to him, and she knew at first sight that her daughters were magical, maybe even more so than their father could ever be.
Molly and Lucy, for the first week of their lives, glowed like luminosiant fairies, so tiny and had such a warm energy around them. The doctors and nurses were amazed, and for the entire time Audrey and the twins stayed at the hospital, almost everyone in the same wing rejuvenated and fared better than they ever had in years. Their glow faded away little by little as the days went by, but their magic, Percy knew, had manifested in other ways.
“Wingardium leviosa!” Lucy exclaimed, copying Percy's movement perfectly, and the book began to fly, reaching way above the heads of the twins.
If this was any other time, if they were a little older, Percy would have congratulated Lucy for her techniques and her skill, but they weren't older. They were barely five years old, and one of them could perform basic magic almost to a tee after watching once. Percy didn't noticed when he caught his breath out of fear as the book began to float even higher until it hit the ceiling.
Then it started to rip itself apart, a gnawing and gnashing sound as it devoured itself, and pages fell down on them like a paper rain. Lucy and Molly screamed, the book falling onto them with sharp teeth that belonged to a monster rather than a book.
“Expelliarmus!” Percy shouted as quick as possible, his hand matching his speed. The book was knocked out of its course and was thrown against to the other side of the wall, where it flew out the window.
Percy quickly shut the open window shut and turned back to his crying daughter. He drew them in for a safe embrace. “Magic is scary!” Molly blurted out as she sobbed, tears falling from her eyes and Lucy buried her face in her father's shoulder.
“It's okay, loves,” he told them, regretting what he had done. “It's okay. It's gone now. It won't hurt you anymore, I promise.”
“No more magic, Daddy,” Lucy said as well, her hand grasping at her sister's hand. “No more magic.”
Percy quickly agreed, but he knew it wasn't something he could promise them for too long.
Coincidentally, someone had the same idea about Lucy's affinity with dragon and commissioned fanart of her as a Dragonkeeper and Molly as a Curse breaker. That's amazing. Please check it out. (This is fate, y'all, Lucy Wealsey is meant to be with the dragons. And Molly taking after her Uncle Bill? I never considered that???)
Please give some love here by sadfishkid. (Please do not repost/reuse the work without the original artist's acknowledgement and permission. Please make sure to properly credit and source them if you have consent from the original artist. Thank you )
Charlie was exhausted; he had been chasing a dragon for more than a week, and they had lost it again. Really, it shouldn't be too hard to spot a big, ruby colored dragon in the London sky, but it seemed that even he had underestimated its capabilities.
He had been told, when the great dragon was brought to Romania, that it was an old dragon in an age found rare in any kept or tamed dragon. It was close to five centuries old by the scholarly researchers and was deemed very intelligent, even thought to be capable of understanding human language. However, many have decided that this garnet dragon was just a really old dragon that had kept secluded for centuries. Now, though, Charlie was sure the critics would have to reconsider that notion as said dragon actually broke out of a heavily magicked collar easily one morning. The Weasley was sure it gave him a wink before it flee off.
“Charlie,” he heard his senior colleague Roy said, and he turned around. Roy Weir was a German wizard with a light accent, friendly and nice. He had a large stature, one great for wrangling dragons when necessary, and yet had the softer hands Charlie had ever had clasp his back.
“Roy,” Charlie greeted back, stretching as he sat at the dining table of the inn they were staying in while in London.
“I know you hail from here,” Roy continued, “so do me a favor and go visit your family. Your mother has been asking for you for a while.”
Charlie laughed. “Mum sent letters to you too?”
Roy grinned. “She makes delicious cookies. I'm hardly repaying her by making you take a day or two off to stay with your family.”
“But the dragon, Roy.”
“Don't worry about the dragon yet, Charlie. The rest of us will send you an owl as soon as we spot something. You haven't been home in almost a year because you can't keep yourself away from those beautiful dragons. Well, go home and see your mother, you crazy maniac. I'll see you in two days.”
Charlie wanted to protest, but Roy, being a fifty-three year old father of two, gave him a hard look neither harsh nor soft. It was just about right enough that it could work anyone who was around Charlie's age and younger.
“Alright, Roy,” the Weasley said, giving up too easily. It was about time he visited the Burrow again. Any longer, and he might get a Howler or two from Ginny and Bill for not taking care of himself and working too much. Out of all of them, his oldest and youngest siblings were the one to take after their mother the most. “See you in two days.”
Roy gave him a smile, and Charlie went to the room he was sleeping in, packed a few things and Apparated himself to his childhood home as easy as one, two, three.
“Charlie!” he heard the excited cry of his father who had aged well in the last decade. Charlie was immediately embraced by arms that comforted him since his first nightmare. “It's good to see you!”
“Hey, Da,” Charlie replied, smiling just as much as he hugged back. “It's good to see you too. How's retirement?”
Arthur was the first to pull away, keeping his hand on his second eldest son’s shoulder for a moment longer. “It's been wonderful, Charlie,” his father said, sitting them both down on the living room couch. “Every week, I watch my precious grandchildren grow up. They remind me so much of you and your brothers and sister, running around and being so small.”
Charlie smiled. “And the Sunday dinners?”
“Still have them every third week of the month. Everyone who hadn't shown up at least once the previous three weeks comes to dinner and start the whole thing all over again. Your mother will want to know why you haven't been showing up when she sees you. I hope you have a good excuse, son.”
“None that'd be acceptable for Mum, but I'll think of something.”
Arthur laughed. “And how has work been? You wrote that a dragon escaped almost two weeks ago?”
Charlie groaned, leaning back on the couch. “You won't believe it when I tell you about the morning it broke out,” he began, gesturing a cupped hand around his neck. “The dragon, named Esh-ban, had this collar around his neck for almost twenty-seven years since he was first found in the rocky landscape of the Gobi, and every year, like every other dragon, we make sure to redo the spells and charms. But this time, Esh-ban just acted up that morning. He attacked a few keepers, but he didn't try to hurt them so much as try to run away.”
“And this never happened before?”
“No, and that's making some people worry because they're not sure what he'll do or where on earth he would go. The Ministry of Magic is afraid he might attack, especially if he shows up in Muggle London.”
“That is worrisome. Let's hope you find that dragon before anything does go wrong. Will you be staying the night?”
Charlie nodded. “Roy doesn't want to see my ugly mug for the next two days unless there's a dragon next to me.”
Arthur chuckled. “We can move the monthly Sunday dinner to tomorrow night. Everyone will be happy to see you back at the Burrow. It'll be a while since all of my children are back at home again.”
“Six,” Charlie said in acknowledgement, and his father just smiled kindly, nodding in acceptance.
Arthur stood up, heading towards the kitchen. “Go settle yourself in,” he said. “Your mum and I haven't moved anything from your rooms since you left the old nest. Then come down and have some brunch with me. Your mum will be out in Diagon Alley until lunchtime. We can make a nice meal for her.”
“Alright, Da. Brunch sounds great.”
“Charlie, as I live and breathe,” Ginny said, frowning in disappointment the next night home. The Burrow was alive with talking and food, four hours before midnight. Harry was toting baby James on the couch, speaking to Hermione and Ron like the happy father he was. Their son was one year old.
“Hi, Ginny,” Charlie replied, pulling his sister in for a hug.
Her disappointment was short lived as she relaxed instantly, glancing over to Teddy who was playing with Victorie as always. “You need to come around more often, Charlie,” she continued, tone less harsh. “We all miss you the past year.”
“Sorry, Ginny. Work's been bloody mad this past year. For some reason, the dragons have been restless, and everyone's been pushing themselves to calm them all. It's amazing that the bigger dragons were like that, but there are a lot more of the smaller and younger dragons.”
“Oh, well then. You could have at least explain that in your letters, but I guess you've been too busy to write them these days.”
Charlie laughed. “I guess you've been busy too, Ginny. I read that the Holyheads won the last three games. You're going to have a field day next season."
“Mhmm, don't change the subject. You're still in big trouble, Charlie Weasley,” she replied playfully, and the Burrow began to filled up with familiar faces who all greeted Charlie happily when they spotted him.
At around eight, everyone went to the garden where the tables were set up, and they all went to eating the large dinner Molly made for the occasion. Charlie was sure his face would fall off from all the laughing as he spoke to his younger twin brothers about their work, kids running around and following some nocturne gnomes. The atmosphere was bright and lively as he talked to Hermione, Harry and Ron, the Burrow growing even lively when someone handed out some firewhiskey. Soon there was singing and dancing. It was a party, and everyone was celebrating.
A tapping of glass, and everyone quiet down to pay attention to Arthur, who was a little red faced but still able to function properly. “I know we had dinner together last month,” the Weasley patriarch said, “but this one's a little more happier because Charlie is back after a year. All my children are back under one roof, and my grandchildren are happy little tykes. Cheers!”
“Cheers!” everyone replied loudly as almost every adult took a sip of their drinks.
Charlie noted a guilty look on his only older brother's face as their father spoke. “Uncle Charlie!” Victorie called out, standing a few feet shorter than him. She had her arms stretched out. “Pick me up, Uncle Charlie!”
“Alright, alright,” Charlie said with a smile as he picked up his oldest niece up into his arms. She was small at the age of five, her blonde hair as light as her mother's with some Weasley freckles dusted over the bridge of her nose. She was going to turn out to be a beautiful witch, and Charlie couldn't be any more proud. “Let's go talk to your father. He's getting old.”
Victorie pouted as they headed towards her father. “Daddy's not old, Uncle Charlie,” she told him like it was a matter of fact. “Mommy says ‘e's very 'andsome and strong! Daddy’s not old. ‘e’s a 'ero, just like Uncle ‘arry and Aunt Ginny and Uncle Ron and Aunt ‘ermione.” She had a mixed accent between her mother's and Bill’s.
Charlie laughed as they got to Bill, pumping his shoulder gently against his brother's. “You're absolutely right, Victorie,” he said. “Your da’s a 'andsome and strong 'ero.”
Bill let out a snort. “You're still childish, Charlie,” he finally said as he brushed his daughter's hair lovingly.
“Spoken like a true older brother,” Charlie replied, giving Victorie a safely nod. “Your ma’s right when she says your da’s isn't old, Victorie. He's just older.”
Victorie laughed at the unamused look on Bill’s face. “Victorie!” Teddy called out from across the garden, playing with his cousins and their grandfather. “Come play with us!”
“Okay!” Victorie replied back loudly as she attempted to climb off her uncle rather than just ask him to put her down.
Charlie slowly put her down, knowing she wouldn't ask. It wasn't as if she was too prideful to ask rather than she didn't think about asking. “I'm going to play now,” she told her father and her uncle. “Bye, Daddy. Bye, Uncle Charlie.”
“Be careful now,” Bill said as Charlie have her a little wave for their temporary departure.
“My nieces are beautiful,” Charlie said. “I need to thank Fleur before you lot leave.”
Bill grinned. “I did marry a beautiful woman,” the eldest said proudly. “You tell Mum why you haven't been home all year yet?”
Charlie groaned. “I'm hoping Da told her for me. I think I'll have to come visit in six months so she'd forgive me. The sweaters may be fashionably questionable, but they keep me warm in winter, Bill.”
“And I bet they keep the birds away from you, huh?”
“Nope. It's all the dragon dung. The smell never comes off the right way.”
The two oldest sons of Arthur and Molly Weasley burst out into laughter. Anybody close by looked over to them with a curious look but left them alone with a smile on their faces.
Charlie was the first to recover. “So why do you look like you broke one of Mum’s china during Da’s little speech?” he asked, deciding to get straight to the point. “I would think you'd be a little happier with your favorite brother home.”
Bill snorted. “Who says you're my favorite brother?” he asked amused.
“I don't know, Bill. Who else would be your favorite?”
“Ginny's everyone's favorite. She doesn't count.”
Bill chuckled. Then his expression sobered up. “I didn't notice until recently,” he said, “but I think Mum and Dad's moved on from Percy.”
Charlie paused for a moment, taking that into consideration. Honestly, he hadn't thought about his younger brother in a long time, not in the last three years maybe. Percy's disappearance was sudden.
One letter, his mother was telling Charlie about Percy choosing his job over the family. In the next, his father was telling him Percy was gone, not showing up for work one day that turned into weeks into months. Charlie had only been back to London for a day before his mother stepped out of the kitchen at the first mention to Percy, who had yet to give any reply or word that he was okay.
Charlie, in over the last eight or so years since then, didn't really know how to feel about Percy anymore. They used to be close when they were young, before Hogwarts. That was when Charlie and Bill started to drift away from their younger siblings, especially Percy who never really had any command or respect coming from the others, especially the twins.
If he told the honest truth, Charlie would admit that he had become indifferent about the matters of Percy. It wasn't that he loved his younger brother any less; it was more like he wasn't grieving over Percy’s death anymore. He had moved on too, but it didn't seem that Bill had.
“It’s been almost a decade,” Charlie heard himself say, tone blank as he shrugged. “It's a good thing. They've accepted that he's dead. Now they're spending every week with their grandkids. That's better than crying every time that bloody clock hand moves.”
Bill hummed. “Who says he's dead?” he asked, not looking at Charlie who frowned.
“Bill, if he's not dead, then he's certainly not home either. It's the same thing.”
Bill shrugged this time. “What if he came home?”
Charlie rolled his eyes. “Then it would be the ghost of Percy. The Percy we grew up with would be dead.”
Bill glanced over to Charlie with an unexpected look of regret, as if Charlie was right. They were interrupted by the arrival of a small company of dragon keepers led by Roy, who politely stepped down from his broom as the others stayed levitated in the air. The German politely greeted the dinner guests on his way towards Charlie.
“Weasley,” Roy said, throwing an extra broom at his junior, “sorry to interrupt your free day, but the dragon has been spotted going into Muggle London. We need to go.”
Charlie nodded, following Roy as they stepped away from the garden. Charlie gave Bill a Curt nod before looking for his mother. “I'll be back, Mum,” he told her, giving her a kiss on the cheek.
“Be careful, Charlie,” his mother said, giving him a small smile. She had gotten used to idea of her second son getting injured in his line of work, but there was a strain in her smile still at the thought of him hurt in any way.
“Come back soon, son,” his father said afterwards, and the dinner guests were all waving as Charlie and Roy quickly hopped on their brooms and joined up with their small company of fellow dragon keepers.
“We’re going to find the dragon and enchant it tamed,” Roy shouted so that everyone could hear the plan. “Watercress, DeForest, Popa, Matei, you're in charge of making sure Muggles don't start reporting a large dragon in the morning. Boyko, Olsson, Rusu, Bianchi, you're going to be defense if the dragon goes ballistic and keeping it from leaving the area. Weasley, Schmitt, you're going to get as close to the dragon as possible with me to take it down. Understood?”
“Yes, sir!” everyone replied, and they flew quietly and swiftly to Muggle London.
Lucy was with Esh-ban again, this time riding on his back in a night sky, and she felt the air rush against her skin. “Hello again, child,” he said softly to her, feeling her presence.
“Esh-ban!” Lucy cried out joyously as her form embraced the dragon by the neck. She looked up. “Where are we now?”
“Over London. I promised that I'd come and see you, didn't I?”
Lucy gasped as they approached the bright lights of nighttime London, the streets quiet and empty. “It's so pretty!”
Esh-ban chuckled. “It is, isn't it? Long ago, stars used to be just in the sky, but they now shine on the ground as well. Wake up now, Lucy. I'm almost to you.”
Lucy laughed, closing her eyes. “Okay, Esh-ban,” she said, feeling herself drift away. “I'll be waiting.”
The air pushed her off, and Lucy was falling.
Her eyes opened up unexpected. It didn't feel like she was sleeping at all. It was like she blinked, and the lights were turned off. It was really dark, so her daddy wasn't awake yet. But she couldn't go back to sleep. So she turned over to look at her twin sister, who was making quiet sounds. They weren't happy sounds though. They sounded like crying sounds.
Quickly, she got up from bed, throwing her blanket off and rushed over to her sister. “Lucy!” Molly whispered loudly. She didn't want to wake her daddy up. He was tired after coming home from work today. “Lucy, wake up.”
Lucy did not open her eyes.
Molly frowned, placing her hand on Lucy’s hand. Immediately, she felt very scared, like she was falling. “Lucy!” she tried again, this time louder. “Lucy, wake up!”
There was loud shout, and Percy shot up from his pillow, jumping out of bed and ran to his daughters’ room. He turned on the lights, seeing Molly lightly shaking Lucy who wasn't responding. “What's wrong, Molly?” he asked, concerned as he rushed over to his daughters.
“Daddy, Lucy won't wake up,” Molly explained, shaking her sister as tears started to well up. “She's falling, Daddy, and she can't fly. No one's going to catch her.”
Her father looked scared, but then schooled his expression to be as calm as possible. “It's okay, Molly,” he told her, pulling Lucy onto his lap as he sat on her bed. Placing a hand in her chest, Percy casted a spell. “Reparifors. ”
Molly and Percy waited a long minute, breath caught in their throat, until Lucy woke up. “Lucy!” Molly cried out, crying as she hugged her twin. Percy sighed unevenly in relief.
“Why are you crying, Molly?” Lucy asked, confused as she rubbed her eyes.
“You didn't wake up,” Percy answered, pressing a kiss to his daughter's forehead from above. “You scared us.”
Lucy gasped. “I'm sorry, Daddy. I didn't know.”
“It'll be okay, Lucy. There's nothing to be sorry about. It isn't your fault.”
“Why didn't you wake up?” Molly asked. “You were falling.”
“I'm not falling, Molly,” Lucy said, frowning. “I'm right here. Oh! Daddy, we need to go somewhere really high up! Esh-ban is coming!”
“Esh-ban?” Percy said, raising an eyebrow.
“Esh-ban is coming?” Molly repeated excitedly, no longer crying. “I want to see a dragon! Let's go, Daddy! Somewhere high!”
Lucy started to bounce on Percy's lap in equal excitement. “Daddy, let's go see Esh-ban!” she joined in.
Percy laughed, his worries driven away easily by his daughters. He was sure what his daughters expected—not a dragon most definitely—but he was happy enough to humor them. Hopefully, they wouldn't be too disappointed when nothing showed up. Hopefully, the city was kind enough tonight to let the stars speckle its sky.
“Okay, loves,” he said. “We can go to the rooftop. Go get your jackets and shoes. It's cold out tonight. We’ll wait for a little bit, but you two need to go to bed as soon as possible.”
Percy had a smile on the entire time his daughters rushed off from their beds and walked quickly towards their shared closet, grabbing their small jackets. He waited for them at the doorway, and they headed towards the door.
“Do you need help, Molly?” Percy asked, seeing his oldest daughter struggle with her shoe.
Molly shook her head, managing to get her shoe on properly. She has both shoes on now, and she puffed up her chest proudly. Lucy giggled, as ready as her sister and her father.
“Okay, if we're going to the rooftop, we need to be very quiet, okay?” Percy told them as he opened the door, and they ushered out. “It's nighttime so people are sound asleep.”
“Okay, Daddy,” both Molly and Lucy said quietly, and Percy took a hand each, leading them up to the elevator. When they reached the highest level of the apartment complex, they had to walk up a dark set of stairs hidden in the corner, but it wasn't long before they reached the door leading into the rooftop.
Lucky for Percy, London was quiet that night, glowing only softly like a firefly, and his daughters gasped in surprise to see just how clear the night sky was. There seemed an endless number of stars, the moon drifting off in the corner and yet its light illuminated their fair skin.
“It's so pretty,” Molly said, her eyes sparkling like a reflection of the sky.
“It is,” Percy agreed, taking a seat against the wall of the entrance door. He carefully sat his daughters at his side, wrapping his arms around them safely. “I've never seen the sky like this before.”
Lucy pointed up at the sky, laughing. “Daddy,” she cried out, “I see Esh-ban!”
Percy look to where his youngest daughter pointed to in the sky, and there, a small, dark figure was heading towards them. It was like a black speck coming closer and closer, growing bigger and bigger. Until Percy finally saw what it was: a dragon. As it came closer, streetlights began to flicker, until there was nothing but complete darkness.
“We need to leave,” Percy said urgently, getting up to his knees. “It's dangerous to be here now.”
Lucy pouted, crossing her arms. “But Daddy!” she shouted. “Esh-ban came all the way from Rowmaynea to London to see me. I want to see Esh-ban!”
Percy picked up his youngest up in his arms despite her protest and struggle. He pulled Molly to her feet quickly and gently, holding in to her hand so that he wouldn't lose either of them. “We need to leave,” he said again, pulling his daughter to the door, but Molly resisted as well. “Molly, it's dangerous. The dragon keepers will be here any moment.”
“But I want to see the dragon, Daddy,” Molly said, trying to pull her hand from her father. “Esh-ban is a nice dragon too. He's Lucy’s friend. He won't hurt her. I trust Esh-ban, Daddy!”
Percy felt his heart catch in his throat as he felt the vibrations of an incoming dragon’s flight. His heart was pounding loudly in his ears when he felt a large shadow cast over them and the rooftops.
“Esh-ban!” Lucy shouted happily from her father's arms, reaching her hands out to the dragon.
“Daddy, look!” Molly shouted, excited. “It's a dragon!”
Percy slowly looked over his shoulder, and he was met with a large dragon, red like garnets with large majestic wings that seemed to dwarf the night sky. It was very beautiful as much as it was frightening as it leaned its head forward towards them. Percy took a step back.
“Lucy,” he tried again, trying to maintain a sense of calmness. “He can't be here. It's not safe. You need to send him away. He can't stay here.”
Logically, there was no point of talking to the dragon. Percy was afraid this might happen, but they were just so young. Their magic shouldn't be this extraordinary. Despite his lineage, he wasn't exceptional as compared to his siblings, which was only added by their mother’s Squib status. The dragon shouldn't be here, and yet despite all of that, Percy had no doubt that the dragon would listen to Lucy because she was the reason why it was there.
“But Daddy,” Lucy pouted, looking sad. “I want Esh-ban to stay. He's my friend.”
Percy let out a slow breath. “I know you do, love,” he told her, “but he can't stay here. He's magic, but this is Muggle London. He might hurt someone, and there might be people looking for him. Just send him away, and we'll find some way to see him again, okay?”
Lucy looked doubtful for a moment, but Molly pulled her leg from below and gave her twin a nod. “Okay, Daddy,” the younger of the two said. “Put me down.”
Percy shook his head, refusing to let his daughter go in the presence of a dragon. “Daddy,” Molly joined in, “Esh-ban is friendly. He won't hurt Lucy. I promise.”
His oldest looked at him with bright eyes, and Percy hesitated a moment, taking a chance to look up at the dragon who was Lucy's friend. The dragon was smiling, watching them curiously. It blew a soft breath at them, feeling like a warm breeze and nothing threatening.
“Okay,” Percy finally said, regretting that he was talking the chance. This was wrong, completely wrong, but he needed to do something. Letting his small, precious daughter send away a large, terrifying dragon was a lot less riskier than being found out by the magical community. Right? Weasley red was famous, even before the War, and everybody, in one way or another, knew a Weasley. “Just send him away, okay?”
Almost crying, Percy put his youngest daughter down, her feet touching the floor gently as she ran towards the dragon with her arms thrown above her in joy. “Esh-ban!” she cried out as the dragon lowered its snout, and she climbed it as if she had done it countless times.
She hugged it, and the dragon made a soft grunting noise, pleased to see her. The dragon brought a scaly talon up to her, gently brushing over her like a doting parent. Percy felt like he was going to faint.
Hello, little one, Esh-ban spoke in her head, low and rumbling like an oncoming thunderstorm. You are a lot warmer than you are in your dreams.
Lucy giggled, patting his snout. “People are warm, Esh-ban,” she told him. Then she frowned. “Daddy said you can't stay here, Esh-ban. He said the dragon keepers are coming for you.”
Esh-ban’s chuckled echoed softly. The keepers are nothing but ants to me, but I do like them so. They are very kind to me and my people, so I won't injury them. I won't get caught, little one. I'll return to where no one but dragons can go, where I, and my line, rule.
“You're going away?” Lucy asked sadly.
Oh, worry not, little light. It's not like I'll be far away, never from you. I have come to love you, little Lucy, and so I will come to you whenever you call. I wish to be yours. I will protect you as your champion, and therefore, all those below me will obey you. One day, you will be able to answer your father's fears for I will tell you the answers, but for now, I will keep them from you for you do not yet understand. Do you accept me, little Lucy? As your champion?
Lucy wasn't completely sure what her friend was saying, but it sounded very serious. She wasn't sure about it. “But what about Daddy and Molly?” she asked. “Are you trying to take me away? I don't want to go.”
Esh-ban’s chuckles echoed again. No, no, little Lucy. I would never do that. It would make you unhappy, and I only wish for your happiness. So be it then, that I will protect your father and your sister as well. I should've said it from the very beginning. Your sister comes from the same source of magic as you, different but just as great. Your father still bears remnants of it himself, but he will never find out if he remains in this world.
Lucy tilted her head in childish thought. Esh-ban wasn't going to take her away, and he said he would be there whenever she called. That sounded like they would be friends. She can invite Esh-ban to play with her everyday!
“Okay!” Lucy answered, nearly bouncing on the dragon's snout. “Esh-ban’s my champion!”
The dragon smiled, his tail flickering back and forth in celebration. Thank you, little Lucy. Please, forgive me. This always hurts, but I swear on my love for you that it will not last long.
Lucy was confused now, wondering why her hands felt very hot. And then it started to hurt, a lot. She looked down at her hands, seeing flames lick at her, and from her fingertips, her skin began to blacken, inking her with soot and ash.
They screamed in pain.
Percy’s eyes widened when his daughters started screaming, Molly gripping at his shirt tightly. “Molly!” he shouted, pulling his oldest to him in a tight embrace. “What's wrong?!”
“It burns, Daddy!” Molly cried, tears running down her cheeks. “My hands hurts!”
His heart tightened almost painfully, and it was alike he ran out of breath. “He wasn't supposed to hurt her,” he said, looking to his youngest, who was still screaming. “Molly, stay here.”
Molly stopped him, still crying in pain, as Percy was about to run to his youngest and pull her away. “You can't, Daddy,” his oldest told him. “He is hers forever.”
“What are you talking about, Molly?”
Then the screaming stopped, and Percy looked back to his youngest who had fallen forward on the dragon’s snout, sobbing. The dragon looked regretful, brushing over her again in comfort, as if it wasn't to blame. Percy wanted nothing more than to hang it by its wings.
The dragon then gently held Lucy in its clawed talons, lifting her up and bringing her forward to Percy and Molly like a offering, an apology. Percy quickly pulled Lucy away from it. The dragon huffed before scurrying off the rooftop and flying away into the night sky, giving them all one look back before disappearing.
Percy immediately dropped to his knees, feeling weak and defeated as he looked over his youngest daughter who no longer seemed hurt in any way. Instead, she was strong, standing well on her own two feet, looking at her hands, which were blackened like burnt wood, and embedded in the back of her hands were red jewels which glowed lightly like embers. She was looking at her hands with childish curiosity, the pain no more than a memory quickly fading away.
“Look, Daddy,” Lucy said, showing her hands to her father and her sister, the latter no longer crying.
Percy grabbed the hands and looked at them, tears taking from his eyes now. He was so relieved and, at the same time, scared. He felt like a coward because his daughter got hurt, even if she was fine afterwards. Merlin, it was horrible listening to his daughters screamed, even more horrible was his youngest ended with burnt hands. He brought them to his lips, kissing them for forgiveness.
“Don't cry, Daddy,” Lucy assured with a smile. “It doesn't hurt anymore. It's very warm now.”
Percy just couldn't bring himself to stop crying, but he was not allowed time to think of that when a voice from the past traveled through the night air, hurt and in disbelief.
You ever read Aragon? Me neither, lol. (My pacing is too fast, boooooooooooooooo.)
It hit him out of nowhere, a silent cry for help from far, far away, like a child who fell, but louder and sent a chill down Charlie's spine, more painful. It was as if he was listening to one of his nieces cry.
“I see it!” DeForest shouted, everyone turned their attention towards a shadowy figure that seemed to mesh into the skyview.
With a skilled kick of the broom, everyone was focussing after the dragon, who seemed too far away no matter how fast they followed. It was like it was disappearing through the world.
All of the sudden, a dark cloud engulfed the shadowy creature, and with the unfurling of the moon, it disappeared. “Where did it go?” Popa shouted, frustrated. They all were.
“Check around the area,” Roy ordered, gesturing outwards.
“Roy,” Charlie called out, pointing back to the closest outskirts of Muggle London. “I want to go back to check on something.”
Roy nodded. Charlie tapped his broom with his foot, and he was shooting off as fast as he could, following that silent cry for help before it disappeared. He was flying over a small apartment complex in a quiet neighborhood, all light extinguished, when he spotted two little girls and their father in the dark, all bearing a red Charlie had.
He did not get a good look at them, and yet he spoke, “Percy?”
The father stiffened, his back to Charlie.
“Percy, is that you?” Charlie tried again, his broom lowering him onto the rooftop to the ground.
The two little girls watched curiously. “Daddy, he looks like Uncle Bill,” said the one with black hands. She started to giggle. “Is that Charlie, Daddy?”
“Charlie?” added the twin just as excited, saying Charlie’s name just like his other nieces and nephews. She started to bounce on her small feet. “Daddy! That's Uncle Charlie!”
“I know,” the father whispered, not turning around yet. “But this isn— Lucy! Molly!”
The one that spoke first broke away from her father, her sister following her, as they ran towards Charlie and reaching their hands up to him in joy.
“Uncle Charlie! I'm Lucy! I'm a Weasley too!”
“Me too! I'm Molly!”
In an instant, the floodgates opened, and the numbness he had felt since learning of Percy’s disappearance was replaced with overwhelming joy and grief. His brother was alive with two beautiful little girls. Percy named one of them after their mother, and he was their Uncle Charlie.
Charlie felt to his knees, trying to see through his tears and breathe through his relieved sobs, and enveloped the both of them in a hug. “I’m your Uncle Charlie,” he told them, loving just how warm and alive they were, just like his younger brother. “It's so nice to finally meet you, Lucy, Molly.”
More than hear the father of these two beautiful little girls come closer, Charlie felt Percy stopping just half a foot away, looking at them with nervousness and guilt. “Charlie,” the younger of the two men said, and Charlie looked up to see a face he never thought he would see again, a face that everyone had accepted belonged to a dead man.
“Percy,” Charlie said back, letting go of smiling Lucy and Molly, and stood up, pulling his younger brother into a hug of their own. Percy didn't move to return the hug or move away, but that was okay. “You’re alive.”
Charlie heard his hesitation. “I am,” the other said.
Charlie pulled away, keeping his eyes in Percy’s face. He had grown older, all of them did, and his face was a little more sunken in than Charlie remembered but his skin and complexion was healthy. “I love you,” he said, wiping away his tears. “I never told you this enough, but I love you so much, Percy. Never disappear again. I missed you so much. I'll die if you disappear again. Not a word. Not one word from you. Please.”
Two warm arms embraced him slowly. “I'll try, Charlie,” Percy replied.
Then a realization came across Charlie's mind, thinking back to just an hour ago, at the Burrow, Bill and the look of regret that crossed his face. The older man pulled away, holding Percy by the arms with a seething anger. “Bill knows,” Charlie said loudly, looking at Percy to tell him the truth. “The bloody bastard knows, and he didn't tell anyone.”
Percy looked away. “I asked him not to, Charlie.”
That pained Charlie, because his little brother was alive and he didn't want anyone to know. “Why, Percy? You know that bloody clock still has you on it? For eight years, you kept going from peril to home to peril to home over and over and over again. Whenever it moves, Mum expects you to come home, and when it moves back, I would be the first one to know because she would write it in her letters. Everyone else lives in London so she sees them all the time, but she never wants them to worry so she doesn't tell them. But they see it. She tells me because I don't come home often, guilting me because she's afraid I'll never come home like you. How could you do this to me?”
Percy was crying now, not moving away, as if he had been waiting all these years for a chance to confess. “I'm sorry,” his little brother said, quiet as he placed his hands over Charlie's. “I couldn't come home, Charlie. I just couldn't, not with the way I become. I'm broken, Charlie. I never got to see the War, but I survived but I was dirty and disgusting. I couldn't face myself afterwards, Charlie. I couldn't face everyone after I left them for a bloody job that threw me away. I couldn't face Mum, not her. She was the only one who believed I'd come home after everything I’d done, not because she thought I'll realize how wrong I was but because she wanted all of her children home. I'm sorry, Charlie.”
That nearly broke Charlie's heart, but it was nothing compared to his anger as it flared up in a rage, a rage that was at Percy but most of all, himself, because he wasn't there to be the buffer between Percy and the rest of the family. There was a reason Percy left, and Charlie completely understood that reason. Percy, the only one who lacked natural talent, tried so hard to keep with all effort and hard work inspired by the constant reminder of his popular older brothers and equally lovable younger siblings, all of whom seemed to have everything without doing so much as lifting up a finger. Everyone, from Bill to Ginny, was so amazingly gifted, not always in academics but they shared the common ability of playing Quidditch, the broom like a second set of feet.
But Percy stood out because he didn't even like to fly. He didn't even try, the act itself unnatural to him. That was enough to set him apart from his siblings, who all played Quidditch for the Gryffindor House. Charlie remembered, though, that Percy had come and watch some of the practice when he and Bill were still attending Hogwarts and all the game. He always said it he never played because he needed to study, but Charlie was coming to realize it was because Percy knew he couldn't keep up to his brothers, not without dedicating hours upon hours to catch up.
Charlie wondered how long Percy thought that about himself. Maybe every since Charlie left for Hogwarts, leaving Percy behind to be the big brother to a bunch of siblings who didn't listen to him well and even teamed up on him to tease him. It must have been very lonely, especially since Fred and George were his biggest bullies. Charlie remembered when Percy wrote to him about their constant teasing since he began wearing glasses. Charlie remembered not answering back for a week because he was busy.
So when his mother wrote to him about Percy leaving the family, Charlie couldn't bring himself to blame his younger brother. Truthfully, he thought it was a good idea. When he found about Percy disappearing, Charlie thought, Good for him. Maybe he'll be happier without us.
And for the most part, he was right, Percy now the father of two beautiful daughters, but still, he regretted ever thinking that as he now looked at Percy, who was shaking slightly as he spoke, feeling shame and guilt for being a victim of a crime Charlie didn't even know about. Charlie was angry he couldn't do anything to stop it from happening.
“It's not your fault, Uncle Charlie,” he heard a voice call out to him as small hands tugged at his robes. It was Molly, sweet little Molly, tears falling from her eyes as her voice broke as she spoke. “It’s not Daddy’s fault too. It's no one's fault anymore because he doesn't exist anymore. Don't be mad, Uncle Charlie.”
Molly’s voice drew him back as he let go of Percy, let go of his grip that had become harsh without him noticing. Charlie looked down to Molly, forcing himself to give her a smile, to comfort her. “I'm not mad, Molly,” he told her.
Molly frowned, drawing her sister close. “Don't lie,” she said. “It's sadder when you lie. It hurts more.”
The street lights began to flicker back to life, and Percy pulled his daughters towards the door with him, not looking at Charlie. “We have to go,” he said. “Please don't tell anyone, Charlie. I'm not ready yet. Please.”
That was the last thing Percy said before he pulled the door open and gently pushed his daughters in, giving Charlie one glance back. Molly and Lucy gave him weak waves of farewell, and they were gone, the lights of the neighborhood shining again. They were gone, just like that.
“Weasley!” Watercress shouted, landing behind Charlie on the roof. “The dragon’s gone. We've lost him. Roy’s going to issue a high emergency alert tonight, and we’re heading back to Romania in the morning.”
Charlie didn't reply, simply nodding. “I’ll meet you back at the inn at dawn,” he told Watercress after a moment, taking out his wand. “I need to go see my brother.”
Watercress didn't get a word in before the Weasley Apparated, a crack trembling through the air with the thoughts of a cottage by the sea. The Muggle city twisted, and Shell Cottage came into view. He walked up quietly towards the door and pulled on the rope that rang the bell, knowing full well that only the heads of the households would wake up. Charlie helped charm it so neither of the girls would get awaken in the middle of the night when it came to it.
He saw the light in one of the room come on and heard footsteps. The door opened, Charlie with half the mind of punching his brother in the face, but he just said, “He's alive, and his daughters are just as beautiful as yours, Bill. My nieces are beautiful.”
Charlie sobbed silently as his older brother hugged him.
He was so scared, sitting in the dark in the kitchen table. His daughters were back in their rooms, asleep on their beds. He didn't answer of their questions as he tucked them in, telling them, “Go to sleep, loves.” He turned off the lights, feeling the weight of their stares at his back, and closed the door behind him. He stood there for a moment and walked away, his steps becoming heavier and heavier with every move.
He was so scared. His youngest’s first attempt at magic was nearly perfect and turned horribly, scaring them both and him. Then she summoned a dragon, and her forearms were burnt with soot, garnets jewels embedded in the palms of her hands. He didn't know what to do, what to think, but be afraid. His oldest, her magic had been maturing faster than he expected, reflecting off the thoughts and emotions of everyone she’d come across, and she was feeling their pain now too. He didn't know how to teach her to close herself off from it. He felt hopeless. He was hopeless.
He was so scared, so scared for his daughters. He was scared they might be taken away because they were becoming too dangerous. The Ministry couldn't find out about Molly and Lucy, not ever, not when Percy didn't trust them as he used to, betrayed the very face of it at one time. And he knew what the Ministry did to anyone who was deemed too dangerous, slander and imprison them. Percy couldn't let that happen, not to his daughters. They did nothing wrong because it was all his fault.
For the first time in years, Percy prayed. His fears were answered by a voice coming from the back of his head.
When he left, Ginny didn't expect to see her second oldest brother again until he came back to visit again, going back his dragons without saying goodbye. Instead, it seemed that he hadn't yet returned with his colleagues back to Romania after the high alert was issued. She spotted him almost two days later in Diagon Alley, walking out of Gringotts with tired eyes.
“Charlie?” she called out, carrying James in her arms as Teddy dutifully held onto her skirt as to not get lost. She had a whole week off from work from the Quidditch column at the Prophet so she wanted to be out and about as much as possible with her sons.
“Uncle Charlie!” Teddy shouted, waving his hand happily. “Hi! Did you catch the dragon?”
“Morning, Ginny, Teddy, James,” Charlie answered, turning around to them. He gave them a smile as he patted Teddy on the head affectionately. He cooed at James, who gurgled as he continued to catching his mother’s hair. “No, unfortunately, we missed him by the hair, Teddy. We’ll find him soon.”
Teddy smiled. “Shouldn't you be able in Romania by now?” he asked, observant for his age.
“Yes,” Ginny added, eyeing her brother suspiciously. “Shouldn't you?”
Charlie fiddled with the back of his short hair almost nervously, forcing a laugh. “Something came up,” he answered, looking into the distance of the growing crowd.
“Something that doesn't involve dragons?” Ginny continued, growing curious. She lightly poked James’s cubby cheek out of joy.
Charlie rolled his eyes, playing the part of pretending he hadn't been crying well. “Not everything I do involves dragons, Ginny.”
Teddy laughed at that. “Uncle Charlie, they're the only thing you talk about!” he said, contradicting his uncle.
Charlie laughed too, as if he just remembered that fact about himself. “Yes, well, I just met with . . . an old friend, and decided to take time off to meet up with him. I'll only be here for a few more days.”
Ginny couldn't bring herself to believe that, not because of the lie but because she knew her brother’s tell. She knew all of theirs. Charlie was the one who looked far away when he wasn't feeling himself, when he was in distressed and didn't know what to do. She’d seen it once when he lost Ron once in the forest, not willing to tell their parents about it until sunset. That was when he finally broke and spilled.
But she didn't confront him. It wasn't her place, not yet. He needed time, and even if he never tells her, she could always go to Bill. Charlie always went to Bill when he was stressed or angry, and Bill was wise enough, as the oldest, to know when it was time to let others know. “Alright then,” Ginny said, nodding. “We’ll let you on your way then, Charlie. Just make sure before you go back to Romania that you come over for dinner. Invite your friend too if you like. Just send an owl ahead of time.”
Charlie looked relieved and nodded. “I promise,” he said, smiling. “See you then, Ginny. You too, Teddy. Bye, James.”
“See you then, Charlie.”
“Bye-bye, Uncle Charlie,” Teddy said as well, waving as her brother disappeared into the crowd quietly like a ghost haunted by the past. That didn't seem like it made much sense, but it felt like the right way to describe Charlie at that moment. Call it a sister’s intuition.
“Let’s go, Teddy,” Ginny said, pulling her son with her gently with a freed hand. “Let's find some more stories to read before bed.”
Teddy happily walked along with her. “Okay, Gin-gin.”
As they walked to Flourish and Blotts, Ginny started thinking back about that, the past. It was a very long time ago, and so many things had happened. She and her brothers got married, some had children, and she was both a mother to James and Teddy and an aunt to her brothers’ children. She loved them all so dearly, new leaves that grew after the turning of a horrible winter.
But the past, memories, still lingered in the weariness that everyone carried after the war. So many people died, and there were many empty graves, the weight of never knowing bearing down on survivors and families. So many regrets. So many things left unsaid and so many things that could never be undone.
Ginny started to list of her brothers’ tells to distract herself from going back to a darker place. She wondered if they all still had the habits they themselves never seemed to notice. Bill always placed his hand behind his back, either one or both, like he never outgrew the child who got scolded by their mother. Charlie was the one who looked far into the distance, as if to pretending he wasn't there but just a few hundred feet away. Fred and George came hand in hand, being identical twins and being as close as they were, and worked together by distracting you with the other so they didn't have to deal with getting in trouble by themselves. Ron was the most noticeable, getting dejected and taking out on other in very subtle ways. She stopped.
“Gin-gin,” Teddy said, tugging at her hand. He was pointing to a silvered couple, looking older than the last time she saw them. She hadn't seen them in years, and in a way, neither had the general public, not since the trials ended.
Really, she should hate them, or at least the man who nearly had her killed because he put a cursed diary in her caldron in her first year. She should hate the woman by proximity, for doing nothing as her husband endangered a child because of some backwards ideology.
But she didn't. Instead, she thought about how they have become a remnant of what they once were, the Malfoys. They used to be very influential, but after the Battle, they lost almost everything but their pure blood and their wealth. Their son, Draco, had been working on rebuilding the family’s lost power ever since, but Lucius and Narcissa had but hidden themselves away from the public sphere, whether out shame or humiliation Ginny did not know. What she was sure about them was that she pitied them, continuing on towards the bookstore as they entered Madame Malkin’s.
The past was a very strange thing, she thought, smiling at Teddy and James, but she was glad that the past was just the past and that the worst was done with. This was a time to move on.
Percy was exhausted, a week passed since that night of the dragon, and he was at his wit's end. He didn't know what to do as his nightmares came back to life in the form of his oldest, and he was afraid because he was back. Tom was back.
It didn't start right away. The morning before he was sure the voice wasn't just in his head, Lucy started to tremble in the presence of her sister that morning. “Daddy,” she said very slowly as she came up to her father to hide away. Her eyes showed nothing but pure fear as her soot hands gripped his pants, her face buried against his stomach. “Molly’s scaring me.”
“That's right, little Lucy,” Molly said sweetly, but it wasn't Molly. It sounded like her, but his daughter wasn't speaking.
Percy turned around quickly, and he flinched when he saw Tom smiling, using Molly’s face. It was sick and demented, and Percy choked out a sob. “Tom.”
Molly’s lips turned up into a grin. “It's me, Percival,” her voice spoke with an articulation too advanced for a little girl. “Did you miss me?”
Percy didn't answered, feeling his body trembling.
Molly’s voice continued. “I missed you too. I'm glad you still remember me, and you have done well. Look at your daughters, so sweet and beautiful, so young and so powerful. And it's all because of me, isn't it? You've done very well, Percival, because they're just as much my daughters as they are yours. I'll forgive you for breeding with a Squib because either one will be a good enough vessel for my return from death.”
“No,” Percy gasped, his heart clenched tightly in his chest as his throat threaten to close off the air to his lungs. “You're not going to touch either of them!”
In a moment of desperation, Percy ran up to his oldest and grabbed her by the shoulders. “Molly!” he shouted, pained by Molly’s childish laughter with an amusement that was not hers. “Molly, come back!”
Molly’s laughter continued. “But I am Molly, Percival,” her voice said. “This is nothing but a creation of your fears. I am the Tom you wish to forget, the truth you have been denying for years. I am the desire to let it out because I've been trapped in the back of your mind for so long. I will always be here, Percival, because you are a coward who cannot face his past, and soon, you may not live to regret it any longer.”
And Molly’s head rolled back, Lucy coming towards her sister. “Molly, Molly,” she cried as her twin returned. “Don't do that again.”
Molly groaned as she came back to awareness. “My head hurts, Daddy,” she said, sounding tired. “I want to go to bed.”
Percy took a moment to collect himself, forcing his body to stop trembling before picking his oldest up in his arms. “Okay, love,” he said, taking a hold of Lucy’s hand when Molly was secure in his hold.
On the way out towards the door, he messily transfigured the pillow on the couch into a pair of long, white silk gloves, and he led them out of their apartment and towards the Novas’ flat. “I need to leave you with Janette and Aaron for a while, okay?” he told them.
“Daddy, I love you,” Lucy said, trying to change her father's mind. “Don't leave us. Or we can't go home.”
Percy let out a slow breath, putting the gloves on Lucy’s arms to hide her soot stained skin, and he knocked on the door of apartment number 33. “I'm not leaving you,” he told them as he waited for someone to answer the door. “I'm never leaving you. There’s things I need to do first, but I can't watch you by myself. But I'll come back and get you, I promise.”
“But Daddy,” Molly protested quietly, losing the fight to keep her eyes opened, “you'll be alone.”
“It's okay, love. As long as you and your sister are safe. Lucy, from now on, you can’t take off those gloves in front of anyone but only me and Molly.”
“You can't be alone, Daddy,” Lucy continued to reason. “We need to protect you. Please, Daddy, don't leave.”
The door opened, and Percy didn't reply to his youngest, who was struggling to tug him back to their apartment. But she couldn't as he stayed firm. “Janette,” Percy said, glad to see her. “Would you take care of Molly and Lucy for a few hours?”
Janette, the kind woman that she was, became concerned as she saw Percy’s face touched by the lack of sleep. “Of course,” she said, accepting Molly eagerly when Percy passed his oldest to her. Molly’s grip of her father’s shirt was pulled away easily as she lulled to sleep. He dug out his copy of the keys to their flat and gave it to the elderly woman. “Is something wrong?”
“I have to deal some personal matters right now,” Percy told her, as he pulled Lucy into the Novas’ gently. “And I'm not sure I can pay attention to them until they are solved. I won’t be gone for long. Thanks you very much, Janette. You are a saint.”
Janette smiled. “Anything to help, Percy. I love you like my own son, and Molly and Lucy like my own granddaughters. Good luck, Percy. I will take care of them for you.”
“Thank you, Janette,” Percy said again, and he walked away, unable to look back at his daughters one last time because he might take them back with him. But he couldn't, not right now. “Be good, Lucy. Take care of your sister.”
He walked away and back to the apartment alone, and the last thing he heard before he closed the door was his little Lucy, who was crying again. Because of him.
“Lucy,” he heard Janette said, door still open, “what pretty gloves you have on. Did your father get them for you? Oh, are you okay, darling? Why do you look so sad?”
Lucy looked up, weeping quietly, and said, “Daddy’s leaving me and Molly behind.”
Thank you for all your support!!!
It's almost the 1st. Close enough. Hope you like. ^^
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Merlin, it had been years since he had touched his wand, carefully kept in a hollowed brick just above the television set. Percy bit his bottom lip, wishing that he didn't have to, but he had to, for his daughters. The first time was the book. Then it was that dragon burning Lucy’s hands. And, and now Tom was manifesting in his sweet little Molly, smiling that horrible smile. He couldn't trust himself to keep them safe, not from him. He needed to take them somewhere safe, somewhere he didn't know.
Taking a breath, Percy picked up his wand, and he felt a tingle of power surge through his fingers, running up his arm towards the rest of his body. It was wonderful, a smell of honey filling his nose. He missed it, the magic, the freedom, the natural warmth.
He began to cast glamour charms on himself, turning his red hair into a wavy chestnut brown. His mother’s blue eyes changed into his father’s green ones, his light freckles faded away to give him a fair complexion. He rounded his nose by a few degree and flatten his cheeks, finally changing his clothes into that of proper wizarding wear.
Closing his eyes, he imagined Gringotts, hoping that a memory of it would be enough as he Apparated himself back into the Wizarding World. He wished he had returned in better circumstances, when he was much older and Lucy and Molly were at the right age to attend Hogwarts. Maybe another five years would have been enough time to give himself more courage to come home.
Percy opened his eyes when he heard the crowd of witches and wizards from where he reappeared in the alleyway beside the goblin bank. There were so many people wearing robes and the hats, children calling out for their parents’ attention as others went about their day as well. Taking a deep breath, he covered his disguised face with the hood of his robe, and he stepped into Gringotts, looking for his oldest brother.
As he walked, he thought he saw some familiar faces, and he thought of all those who he thought he didn’t see. Eight years. He wondered on those who survived and those who didn’t. He wondered on what would have been different if he had the chance to do something.
“‘Ello,” spoke a beautiful woman with silvery-blonde hair. Fleur Delacour. She was; she was Fleur Weasley now, Bill’s wife. She was a lot more mature than the last time Percy saw her, her hair longer and her accent less thick but still there. She wore a soft blue robe, akin to the uniform of her beloved Beauxbatons. “May I ‘elp you, sir?”
Percy cleared his throat, nervous about speaking to his sister-in-law. “I have business with William Weasley,” he replied, not disguising his voice. He never spoke to her directly before, and his voice was the only way Bill would recognize him. “Tell him I’m an old family friend.”
Fleur perked up at the mention of her husband. “Of course,” she said, smiling prettily. “Give me a moment and I’ll go fetch ‘im. I’ll be back, sir.”
He nodded, and she walked into one of the rooms, going to find Bill. Percy did his best not to draw any attention to him, sticking to the side of the wall as best as he could in a busy room. It was odd being there, he thought as he waited. It had been a long time since he walked among his kind, among magic. Oh, how he missed it, the feeling, the power.
“Mister Percy, is that you, sir?”
Percy looked down, drawn out of his thoughts by a familiar high pitched voice. It was soft spoken, a soft, bony hand grasping at his robe. It was Lili, and he almost burst into tears seeing his old friend again, the kind house elf who took care of him in that Estate.
It was her who brought him to Muggle London on his request. “Call Lili’s name, and she’ll come for you, Mister Percy.” But he never called for her. He was free and he met freedom in Audrey, and the years went by. He never needed Lili again, didn’t want to see her again, the last remnants of the Wizarding World he had left behind.
But, Merlin, she was his friend, and he had missed her.
“What are you doing here, Lili?” he asked in a whisper, keeping himself calm. He knelt down to her short stature. His heart was thumping loudly in his chest, his throat closing. She was older now, smaller even, the lifeline of a house elf so much shorter than a wizard’s, but time gave her a calmer, more peaceful tone, no longer under the orders of a lust-filled witch. “Merlin, it has been so long.”
“It is you, Mister Percy!” Lili shouted, jumping up in joy. Percy quickly shushed her. “Lili’s working as a free elf in Gringotts. Lili makes money for herself now, cleaning up halls and sometimes taking care of old wizards and witches. Lilli missed you greatly, Mister Percy.”
Percy smiled. “I missed you too, Lili. I have so much to tell you.”
Lili chuckled. “Lili has much to tell you too. She also has something to give you, a gift.”
“A gift? No, Lili. You didn’t have to. I have nothing for you in return,” Percy said, grateful for her long-lasting kindness. Then he realized something. “How did you know it’s me? Is my magic not working?”
Lili shook her head, smiling largely. “Lili has her own magic. She knows her friends. Now follow Lili, Mister Percy.”
“No, Lili, I—” The former house elf was already pulling Percy to follow her, excited to show him her gift.
“Vault 467!” Lili shouted, as she slammed an old key at the front desk where a goblin banker was sitting.
The goblin banker paused at whatever notes he was overlooking, peering over his tortoise shell glasses. He eyed the key and Lili carefully, Percy pulling the hood of his robe over his glamoured appearance. With a beckoning of a finger, he called over to another goblin, one with a lantern at his waist. “Vault 467,” the desk goblin said, handing the key over to his colleague. Lili started to pull Percy with her again when the lantern goblin gestured to follow him.
“Lili, I was waiting for someone,” Percy said, looking out when they stepped into the elevator. In a freefall, the elevator sipped down, a sudden jolt to signify the stop.
“Come on,” the lantern goblin urged, leaving the elevator. He picked up his lantern, and it lit up, lighting part of the way of the winding, maze-like halls of underground Gringotts.
Lili continued to hold onto Percy, looking back ever so often with a gleam in her eyes. When he returned to the Wizarding World on his own violation, he wanted to introduce his daughters to this elf. He was sure they would love her as much as he did, and that Lili would love his daughters too.
Then the lantern goblin stopped, wiping away dust off the stone wall, and revealed a keyhole within a larger circle. He inserted Lili’s key and turned, the gears within the thick doors turning and creaking. Cold air flowed out from the vault as the door opened, and the lights turned on one by one.
Percy was shocked when he saw the large piles of Knuts, Sickles and Galleons, a small mass of wealth accumulated in one seemingly small room in a vault buried deep under Gringotts, but what was even more of value, almost priceless on the market, were the numerous amount of old edition books, some part of collections and other completed, and beautiful portraits painted with care and soft colors, as if to portray what the artist saw rather than what was.
“Lili,” Percy breathed out, never have seen this kind of wealth.
“Do you like it, Mister Percy?” Lili asked, smiling happily. “Lili wanted you to come back to Wizard London comfortably, so Lili worked hard for all this. Lili learned to paint, and her patrons gave her gifts before they died. Lili took good care of them. Lili cared for them very much. And now all this is yours, Mister Percy.”
Percy fell to his knees, crying because he had never expected this, not only this wealth that fell onto his lap but the kindness Lili continued to show him after so many years. “Lili, you can’t do this,” he reasoned. “This is too much. I don’t deserve any of this. You’re a free elf, right? You can do whatever you want, travel the world, start a business, a family.”
Lili laughed again, looking at Percy with a tired joy. “But, Mister Percy, Lili’s old, just like her patrons,” she told him. “Lili doesn’t have many years left. Mister Percy is Lili’s greatest friend, so Lili wants to leave everything with you. Travel the world, Mister Percy, start a business, a family.”
Percy sobbed, a smile breaking through. “Lili, I already started a family. Two daughters, Molly and Lucy.”
The beloved house elf’s large eyes widened, as if they were going to pop out, with a gasped. “Mister Percy!” she cried with comical tears, as she jumped up several times. “You have daughters! Lili’s so happy! Lili’s so proud. Are they beautiful, Mister Percy?”
“Only the most two beautiful girls a man like me doesn't deserve, Lili.”
Lili let out a loud so, a choking sound as she dabbed her eyes with the end of her work out dress. “May Lili see them?” she asked. “Lili loves children.”
“Of course, Lili. Of course,” Percy immediately said. He owed it to her. She took care of him and freed him. She was family. “Lili, may I ask you for one more thing?”
Lili smiled, nodding enthusiastically. “Of course, Mister Percy,” she said.
Percy let out a soft laugh. “My daughters, their mother was a Muggle, and I've been living in the Muggle world for years. They're only five, but their magic is strong. They can't live in the Muggle world anymore. We’ll get caught, so I'm going to ask my brother to lend us a place to live for a while, where there will be nobody else for miles. I think they would love company other than me. Would you care for my daughters as you cared for me?”
Lili was beyond words then, and she could only nod.
Percy felt immensely guilty when he stepped out of the elevator and saw Fleur looking around for him. He hoped he didn't keep her long. “Missus Weasley,” he called out as apologetic as he could. He thumbed the key around his neck. “I'm so sorry for disappearing like that. I coincidentally met a friend, and she wanted to show me something.”
“Fortunately, you didn't take long,” Fleur said with a polite smile. A quizzical look crossed her face for a moment, before she gestured to the hallways lined with doors. “Mister Weasley iz eager to see you, sir. If you would follow me, please.”
Percy nodded, and Fleur led him through the hallway of doors, stopping at the one that said Curse Breakers and entering it. At the front, there was a small shared office filled with books stacked up to the ceiling and pictures of artifacts and tombs pinned up to the walls. A woman was working at the large table filled with papers, not looking at them as they entered. Fleur quietly gestured Percy to the door that said Weasley, W. and knocked on it.
“Bill,” she called softly, “your friend iz 'ere.”
His sister-in-law ushered him and closed the door behind him. “Percy?” Bill asked from his desk, dressed for work. He stood up with a smile, gesturing to the open seat across from him.
“Morning, Bill,” Percy said, taking the seat.
Bill smiled, sitting back down. “I didn't expect you to come here after you said you weren't ready to come home. Is everything alright, Percy? Does this have something to do with Charlie? He won't tell. He promised.”
Percy bit his bottom lip, slowly shaking his head. “Bill, it's not safe for Molly and Lucy to stay in the Muggle world anymore,” he confessed. “Their magic, they're too strong for mere five year olds. Lucy attempted at a spell a few weeks back, and she did it almost perfectly.”
Bill frowned. “There's more,” he said. There was always more, especially with the last eight years a mystery.
Percy sighed, defeated. “Lucy summoned a dragon,” he said. “She said she met him in a dream and he came to her. I don't know what happened, but they spoke to each other and the next thing I know, Lucy’s screaming because of that overgrown lizard.”
“Dragon? That's serious, Percy. It must have been the dragon Charlie have been chasing to London. They haven't managed to catch it yet.”
“So it wasn't just a nightmare. Bill, it isn't just Lucy. Molly, she screamed too, because she felt how much it hurt. She feels everything. She feels too much. I'm frightened, Bill. I'm scared someone will find out about their magic and take them away from me. I need help, Bill. Please.”
“Of course, Percy. Anything you need. You need a place to stay, right?”
Percy nodded, almost hesitant to take this from his brother, but this was for his daughters. “Some place where accidental magic would make the most minimal damage, away from others if possible. And open space. Lucy and Molly love to play outside.”
Bill smiled, nodding his head as he took out a piece of parchment and an address on it. “This is one of the safe houses from the War,” he explained, passing the note to Percy. “It's right between Shell Cottage and the Burrow, and it's charmed. No one can see it unless they know this address. It's yours now. As the original secret-keeper, I'll fix up the spell to give you full authority over it. It's fully stocked and right in a mountainous valley miles away from the closest village. Move in as soon as you like, Percy. I'll come and see you when I can without drawing too much suspicion. Fleur is a very observant woman, and I can't have her thinking I'm doing something wrong. Mum would kill me for worrying the mother of my children.”
Percy let out a small laugh. “She's a very beautiful woman, Bill,” he said, genuine in his awe of his sister-in-law. “Thank you.”
“Anything for you, Percy,” Bill repeated, and Percy felt that the guilt hidden under his brother’s words. “Would it be okay for me to tell Charlie? He hasn't gone back to Romania. He's worried about you. Maybe he could come and stay with you for a while. As much as I love him, he's leaving an indent in my guest room, and soon, there won't be a spell to fix it.”
“Yes,” Percy said, taking this chance. Over the years, he had missed living with his brothers and sister, so use to living in a home filled with others. He missed his family, and he wanted to come home. “The girls would love his company.”
Bill laughed. “And he would love theirs. He loves them, you know. He barely met them, and he loves them like he loves my Victorie and my Dominique. He thinks they're beautiful, and he would bleed for them.”
Percy blushed, taking a quiet pride that his daughters were so loved. He was gladdened to hear that his older brothers had already accepted his girls and forgiven him so easily. “Thank you,” he said again, clutching the piece of parchment in his hands. “Thank you.”
Lucy wished she didn't have to wear these gloves. They were very pretty, but she wanted to show her hands off to Nana. She couldn't really say that as she cried about her Daddy leaving them behind. She and Molly must have done something wrong, and now their father hated them. That only made her cry even more.
“Oh, Lulu,” Nana cooed gently, placing a comforting kiss on Lucy’s forehead. Molly was asleep in her arms, so tired from being scary. Lucy hoped that never happened again, because not-Molly was scary and she'd missed Molly. “It'll be alright. For now, why don't we put Momo to bed? You can stay with her while I make you something to eat. You're a growing girl.”
Lucy nodded, following her Nana into the bedroom, and Nana gently put Molly down and covered her up carefully with the thick quilt for the winter season. Lucy slipped in right beside her sister, quietly weeping and clinging to Molly for comfort.
“Are you want to sleep too, Lulu?” Nana asked, concerned. She placed a hand against Lucy’s face, checking if the girl was ill. “You’re not too warm, but go to sleep if you want to, okay, sweetheart? I’ll come wake you in a bit, and hopefully, Momo is awake then too.”
Lucy quietly nodded, and Nana slipped away, leaving the door slightly ajar behind her.
“Lucy,” her sister said, voice quiet with sleep. Molly opened her eyes to look at her. “Why are you sad?”
“Daddy left us, Molly,” Lucy said, wiping her eyes. “You were scary, Molly. You didn't sound like you, and Daddy didn't move, like he was ice. You had a scary face too and called Daddy Percival. I think we scared him away, Molly.”
Molly softly shushed her. “It's okay, Lucy. Daddy’s coming back for us. I'm sorry I scared you and Daddy. I didn't mean to.”
Lucy sniffled. “Promise?”
Lucy smiled, moving closer to her sister. “Okay, Molly. I believe you.”
“Love you, Lucy.”
“Love you too, Molly.”
All she saw was an open sky, scattered with clouds. The grass was a soft green, a soft breeze flowing through like a whisper. She was laying on the ground, underneath a willow tree not so far away from a large cottage that seemed to be stacked upon itself with rooms. It was like an assembly of pieces added little by little as the years passed by.
Molly sat up, her eyes a little weak to sudden brightness of the world, but she wasn't sleepy anymore, all the heaviness from merely an hour ago gone. It seemed washed away by the light.
She stood up and wandered to the cottage, awed by how pretty this world was, a little place to call home, and she knocked on the brown wooden door when she didn't see anyone around. An older woman opened the door, her hair just as red as Molly’s with Daddy’s blue eyes. The woman reminded Molly of Nana, because she looked very motherly.
“Oh!” the woman nearly shouted, surprised to see Molly. She seemed a little afraid, looking at Molly oddly.
“Hello,” Molly said politely, how Daddy told her. She smiled. “I'm Molly.”
Somehow, that made the woman less weary, and all of the sudden, as if it was magic, the woman smiled back. “Isn’t that wonderful?” she asked. “My name is Molly too, dear.”
Molly gasped, because she'd never met another Molly before. “That's amazing!” she exclaimed, bouncing a little. “Do you know any more Mollys, Missus Molly? I'm named after a Molly. Do you know her? Are there a lot of Mollys around here?”
The older Molly chuckled, humoring her. “No. I don't any other Mollys, my dear. Would you like to come inside for a moment?”
Molly thought on it. She shouldn't be going into a stranger's home without Daddy, but Molly didn't know how she got here. Maybe it was magic, just like Daddy, and it brought her here.
“Thank you,” Molly politely said, walking in, and Missus Molly closed the door behind them.
“Come into the kitchen, dear,” Missus Molly said, steering them towards the kitchen. Then she pointed out to Molly a seat at the big dining table. “I'll get you some cookies. I made them for my grandchildren, but they won't be back until later on.”
Molly did as she was told and took a seat. It was when Missus Molly placed a small plate of raisin cookies in front of her that she noticed for the first time that her skin was see through. Molly blinked at that, confused. She wasn't supposed to see through her hands. That was weird. But she could pick up a cookie and bit it, so it didn't really matter. Missus Molly was really nice, and Molly wished she knew where this cottage was so she could bring Lucy with her. Missus Molly made the house very warm, just like the cookies.
“Where are you from, Molly?” the woman asked, sitting next to her with a small smile.
“London, Missus Molly,” the young girl replied, giggling around her cookie. It was really kind of silly to say her own name, but she loved it anyway.
“That's a long way from here. How did you get here?”
“I don't know. I got really tired and went to sleep, and then I woke up here. It's really pretty here. I want to bring Daddy and Lucy and Ollie here. Everything is so bright. Maybe it'll make Daddy happy.”
“Was there something wrong with your father?”
Molly frowned a little. “I think I scared Daddy this morning. That's why he left me and Lucy. He said he'll be back, but it makes me sad. Lucy was crying earlier.”
Missus Molly reached out to brush at her hair, which Molly couldn't feel at all. But she liked it anyway. “It'll be alright, darling. He'll come back for you. I just know it. If I ever meet anyone willing to leave such a beautiful girl behind, I'll holler at him every day until he learns his lesson.”
That made Molly laugh, imagining Missus Molly yelling at Daddy. “Okay. Are you magic, Missus Molly? Daddy said he's magic so me and Lucy are too.”
“If you mean that your father was a wizard and you were witches, then yes, I am. I've been a witch ever since I was born, and my husband's a wizard too. And all of my children. I am so proud of them, even if they all aren't here with us anymore.”
Molly felt that Missus Molly was sad when she said that. “What does that mean?”
Missus Molly gave her a soft look. “You see, there was a big, big war against a very bad man, and my entire family fought in it. We lost a lot of people we loved, but we still had each other. And I was the most lucky one, because all of my children survived, except for one. He wasn't the most well liked or the bravest of the lot, but he was my son. I loved him very much, but he disappeared during the big, big war. No one knew where he went, so we had no choice but to accept that he had died and no one found him yet. We might never find him, actually. But I'm still so proud of him. I miss him everyday.”
Molly reached out to Missus Molly, a hand in the woman’s face. The woman was very sad, like she was always carrying a lot of stuff all the time, and there wasn't anything that could make it lighter. It wasn't really heavy, but sometimes, it made the woman stop and sit, doing nothing as she thought about the stuff. And the stuff was not exactly the nicest of things. Some of the stuff made the woman’s throat close up enough to hurt. Others made her heart sharply go sour. Molly didn't understand how a heart can become sour, but she knew it wasn't a nice feeling.
“Maybe you can take Daddy in,” Molly said. “He lost a lot too. A very bad man hurt him too. He didn't tell me or Lucy anything, but sometimes, I see what he saw in my dreams, and he was scared and lonely. He still is. But if you take him in, then he can be your son and me and Lucy can be your grandchildren too. I've never met Mommy’s or Daddy’s parents. Lucy will love you! And our hair’s the same color!”
Missus Molly laughed, joyfully at a child’s excitement and thoughts. “That would be nice, dear,” she said with a smile but with a still sad look in her blue eyes. “Maybe, just maybe. What was your father's name, Molly?”
“Perci—” Molly stopped, shivering at the memory of the heaviness from earlier. That was Daddy's name, but it didn't seem right to her. It was too close, like it was smothering her. “Percy. Daddy’s name is Percy.”
Then, without any warning, Missus Molly burst into tears while letting out a laugh. It didn't sound real, Molly thought, cookie half in her mouth but too stunned to bite.
“That was his name too, Molly,” the woman said, laughing some more. Molly didn't get how you could laugh and cry at the same time, but she knew Missus Molly was very sad despite it. It felt like she was pretending all the stuff in her shoulder didn't exist.
Molly couldn't see them, but she knew they were there.
“Maybe he is your son, Missus Molly,” Molly then said, putting down the cookie. She couldn't eat it anymore. She had no more of an appetite. She started to cry. “So don't be sad, Missus Molly. It's hard to breath.”
“Oh,” Missus Molly quietly cooed, sounding apologetic, but she was still laughing and crying. “I'm sorry, Molly. It's just so hard not to be. I was hoping that one day I won't be, but I am. Look at me. Crying with the ghost of a little girl who looks like she could be mine. The world is just so cruel sometimes.”
Molly cried even harder. She wasn't a ghost. She was a little girl. What was Missus Molly saying? Molly didn't remember becoming a ghost. Was this what Lucy meant by Daddy leaving? She didn't remember Daddy feeling that way. Did she forget? Was she dead?
“I want my daddy,” she cried, and she shut her eyes from the house and Missus Molly, falling back into a darkness when she opened her eyes again.
It was nighttime, and Lucy wasn't there. Daddy wasn't there. She was alone. She was scared.
“Lucy?” she called out. No one replied. “Lucy? Lucy! Lucy, where are you! I'm scared, Lucy. Daddy? Daddy!”
Then she screamed because she couldn't stand the silence anymore, the heaviness of Missus Molly’s stuff crushing her lungs because it was so heavy for a five year old girl.
“Molly?” she finally heard Daddy say, coming into the darkness and turning on the lights.
Molly reached out for him, and Daddy immediately pulled her into his arms. “I died, Daddy,” she said, burying her face against his shoulder. She choked out a sob. “I don't want to die.”
“Oh, Molly,” he whispered gently, holding her dearly. “It's going to be alright, love.”
“Molly?” Lucy called out, coming into the room with Nana and Dada coming in after her with worried looks. Her younger twin looked scared too and came up behind Molly and hugged her. “Daddy came back.”
“Is everything alright, Percy?” Nana asked. Dada had a frown on his face too.
Then Molly felt a hand clench Daddy’s heart and pull it to his throat. Daddy only managed to keep it down by swallowing hard, gently pulling away from his daughters. Molly and Lucy stayed close as their father turned to face their beloved caretakers.
“Janette, Aaron,” Percy said slowly, taking their hands with the greatest appreciation and a sad look on his face, a small smile that spoke very loudly. “Thank you so much for everything you've done for me and my daughters. You're both wonderful people, saints unlike anyone I've ever know. You're my friends, and I'm sorry. “
Dada frowned even more, becoming a little irritated and even more concerned about what was happening. “Now, listen here, West—” He was cut off when Daddy pulled out a long stick that looked very old and pretty, and Dada and Nana was frightened.
“Obliviate,” Daddy said as he waved the stick in an almost circle, and Molly knew Nana and Dada didn't love them anymore. They didn't even know her anymore because they forgot about her and Lucy and Daddy. Everything was put in a box and hidden away in a very hard to reach spot in their heads, and Molly couldn't reach it. She was too small and didn't know how.
“Daddy?” Lucy asked, knowing something was wrong but not sure how.
Their father didn't say anything as Nana and Dada fell to the floor quietly. “Wingardium leviosa ” he continued, and they were both floating in the air, Molly and Lucy watching with wide eyes.
Daddy carried them in the air and placed them on their beds, the blankets mysteriously rolling over them. Daddy pulled Molly and Lucy out of their bedroom, turning off the lights.
“Daddy,” Molly said, tugging in her father’s shirt, “why did you do that? They don't love us anymore.”
A pained expression crossed his face as he knelt down to hug them. “I had to, Molly,” he told them. “We can't come back here anymore, not for a long time, okay?”
“Where we going, Daddy?” Lucy asked, sniffling. “I don't want to leave.”
“I know, love. I don't either, but we have to. It'll be safer for us. I can't lose you, either of you. One day, I'll tell you everything, and you'll understand. Apparate!”
And all of the sudden, everything started to turn too fast and Molly felt dizzy. One moment they were in Nana and Dada’s flat, and then they were in the middle of somewhere with a lot of trees and stars because it was nighttime. It was really pretty, but it was really lonely too. It made Molly want to cry more. She wanted Nana and Dada to love her again.
“This is the Last Home, loves,” Daddy told them as he picked them up and walked towards the only house around. It was small and a dark red color. It had light coming from it. “Bill let us have it. It's going to be our new home, okay?”
“But Daddy, we already have a home,” Lucy said, sounding tired from the crying hours ago. Maybe she stayed awake since Daddy left. “We have to go back.”
“We can't, Lucy,” he said, and the door opened for them. The inside was different, but it had the same couch and books and television and the all the things they had at their flat. It was like the flat turned into a house with no neighbors. “We have to stay here a while. Things will be alright, Lucy. Soon, I'm going to introduce you to a dear friend of mine. She's going to stay here too. You'll love her. I owe her so much.”
“You're not leaving again, right Daddy?” Lucy quickly asked.
“No, of course not. I'm sorry about earlier. I needed a moment to collect myself. We'll be alright, loves. Why don't I start dinner? You must be hungry.”
Molly looked at her father, who seemed as if he wanted to talk about something else. “Okay, Daddy,” she said, looking at her sister with a smile. “Daddy's here, Lucy. We are home.”
Lucy looked back at her sister, a sad look on her face. “I wish Nana and Dada were here,” she said, but she nodded anyway.
In her hands, the two couch pillows from this morning appeared, her hands scorched black. The dark shiny jewels in her palms were really pretty. Lucy dropped them a moment after because she didn't think they'd show up.
“My spell wasn't strong enough,” Daddy said, giving his youngest a small smile as he put the pillows back where they belonged. “They don't hurt anymore, do they, Lucy?”
Her sister shook her head, her hair burning.
Daddy sighed, almost sad, but he was smiling still. “Unless it's absolutely necessary, you won't need to wear the glove. Shall we make supper now, loves?”
I love Molly (II) and Lucy.
“Charlie,” Bill said over the table as Victoire and Dominique ate their breakfast. Fleur had already left for work, Mondays being her husband’s turn to feed their adorable daughters before taking them over to the Burrow.
“Yes?” Charlie asked as he buttered a small piece of toast for his younger niece. Dominique happily ate it when he put it to her mouth, giggling. Merlin, he loved this little girl.
Bill passed him a piece of parchment. 23 Valley of Baldur, the Last Home was scrawled on it carefully. Charlie eyed his dear older brother.
“Our little brother came to me yesterday,” Bill explained as Victoire started to hum. “His twins are experiencing some magical difficulties, and they had to move. He says it'll be okay if you stay there with them, if you like. You should go after we drop them off at Mum and Da.”
Charlie blinked a few times before nodding. “Are they alright?” he asked.
“Yeah, but I think that dragon you've been chasing is connected somehow. You'll need to ask Percy. He hasn't told me everything yet.”
“Okay. We should go then. How do you like the sound of that, Dominique? Do you want to go see Grandma and Grandpa Weasley?”
“Mhmm!” Dominique cheered, bouncing in her seat. “I love Grandmum and Grandda!”
“Me too!” Victoire agreed.
Bill laughed, and he quickly charmed the dishes and leftovers away. He picked up his oldest as Charlie picked up his youngest. The latter grabbed onto the former’s shoulder, and there was a soft crack in the air.
“Wee!” Dominique shouted as the turning motion came to a stop. That was a girl with Quidditch in her future. “Grandda!”
Charlie set her down as she started to run towards her grandfather, her older sister coming right after her. “Teddy!” Victoire shouted, seeing that her adopted cousin already arrived.
“Good morning, girls!” Arthur greeted with a laugh. He was getting older, but he still had that perky attitude that could brightening a few countries. “Good morning, Bill, Charlie.”
“Mornin’, Da,” Bill and Charlie greeted.
“Is Mum in?” Bill asked as he hugged their father.
“Yes. She's in the living room, sewing sweaters for Christmas. She's been needing more time to start since all the kids have arrived. There's going to be yarn at home year round soon. Have a good day at work, Bill.”
“Thanks, Da,” Bill said as Charlie laughed. They both headed into the Burrow, finding their mother in the living room as said.
“Morning, Mum,” Charlie said first, sitting beside his lovely mother. She immediately replied with a kiss for him and one for Bill when he sat on her other side.
“Hello, dearies,” she said with a soft smile. “Fleur’s already at work?”
“Yes, Mum,” Bill replied, checking the wristwatch on his right hand. “I have about ten minutes before I need to go. Are you alright, Mum? You seem sad? Did the twins do something again?”
Bill was right. Their mum seemed crestfallen, a sort of sad look in her eyes whenever she was thinking too much in the past. Her hands moved as skillfully as ever, but her expression said it all as she lightly pursed her lips in thought.
“Your da asked me the same thing yesterday, when he came back from his walk,” she said. “You do get his thoughtfulness from him, don't you?”
“What happened, Mum?” Charlie asked.
She sighed, putting her halfway done sweater down. “I think I saw a ghost yesterday,” she confessed. “She was a pretty little thing with red hair. She said her name was Molly, and she was absolutely adorable when she called me Missus Molly. She was a complete sweetheart so it's an absolute shame that she didn't get to live. I thought I was dreaming the entire time. Oh, listen to me. I'm going a bit mad now, haven't I?”
Charlie looked to his brother, and they shared a look of great guilt. He wanted to tell her so much that it pained him not to. “It's okay, Mum,” Bill said as they hugged her in comfort. “I believe you.”
Molly let out another sigh, nodding. “Thank you, dear,” she said, smiling again.
“Sorry to leave you so soon, Mum,” Bill then said, getting up. “I should be going now. I'll see you later.”
“I'll stay here a little longer,” Charlie said. “Not much to do while on vacation.”
And that was spoken from the bottom of his heart. There wasn't much he wanted to do but spend time with his family, but there had always been a certain mood in a day at the Burrow, ever since the war ended. There wasn't anymore need for urgency and terror, fear rotting their magic from the inside. These days, there was peace, beautiful and glorious peace, and with peace, there was no sense to move too quickly or need to do everything at once. It was a wonderful luxury, but at times like this, it meant there wasn't much for Charlie to do, not when he only had one love of his life.
For another hour, Charlie stayed in the Burrow, telling his mother things he wasn't able to put in his letters. He spoke about his colleagues individually, how he thought the new trainer was worth his pay. He talked about Fleur's cooking from last night and how Dominique and Victoire got into a fight last night about the colors paints. They ended up sharing and making a picture together. He gushed when he said that they gave it to him. They painted him with two dragons. He showed it to his mother, the parchment folded into sixths now having a permanent place in the small satchel worn around his neck. It was enchanted to be bigger on the inside. Molly brightened at the sight of it, liking the soft brush strokes and colors. Charlie carefully put it away.
Charlie left right as his father came back into the house, his three grandchildren in tow. He gave each of them a hug before he casted his spell, the Burrow twisting into 23 Valley of Baldur.
It was a small cottage, except its color were mute and lonely. It was only one story compared to the added levels of the Burrow, and surrounded by trees rather than meadows. There was a more earthly atmosphere to the Valley, quiet and almost eerie.
He knocked on the door, taking a deep breath. Percy was in there, and his two nieces. He was nervous, but he needed to see them. He wanted to meet them. He wanted them to love him.
Charlie could hear the hesitation in opening the door, his mother’s blue peeking out. “Charlie,” Percy softly said, probably not expecting him.
“Percy,” the dragon caretaker greeted, giving his brother a small smile. “May I come in?”
Percy nodded, opening the door wider to let him in. There was an air of awkwardness between the two of them when the door was closed. Charlie didn't know what to say, and Percy looked uncomfortable, awkward.
“I missed you,” he said, repeating himself again. “I’m sorry I wasn't there for you. Please don't disappear again.”
Percy let out a small laugh, smiling with wet eyes. “I’ll try, Charlie,” he repeated too. “I don't want to disappear again either.”
Charlie carefully pulled Percy for an embrace, slow and gentle enough so that Percy could stop him any moment. Percy didn't resist, feeling as small as Charlie remembered. Too small, actually. Too thin.
“Uncle Charlie?” a small voice interrupted, coming from the corner. She beamed, calling her sister. “Lucy! Uncle Charlie is here!”
Lucy’s head peeped out, excited. “Uncle Charlie!” she shouted as the twins rushed to their newest uncle. “Hi!”
Charlie felt like bursting because Merlin, were these girls absolutely adorable. They were just so perfect with their hair and their freckles and their gray eyes and their tiny hands and feet. “Hi,” he greeted back, a little nervous. He wanted them to like him.
Molly laughed, reaching her arms up. “Up, Uncle Charlie,” she asked in her childish way.
He obeyed, lifting his niece in his arms. This was the weight of happiness. It was just a shame he didn't have enough arms to carry more of them at a time. “Hello,” he said again, more confident.
“Hello,” she replied.
Lucy was tugging at his robe. “Daddy says you like dragons,” she stated. “I like dragons too. Can you teach me?”
For a moment, Charlie thought that if he had a list of favorite nieces and nephews, Lucy had automatically moved all the way to the top. But then he remembered he loved all his siblings’ children and silently chided himself by nearly being swayed by dragons. (Again.)
“Of course, Lucy,” he said, shifting Molly so he could free a hand to hold out for Lucy. She happily took it, and Charlie was filled with adoration. These children will be the death of him one day.
Percy chuckled, hiding a bigger laugh. “Go to the living room then,” he said. “I'm going to finish making tea. I won't be long.”
“Okay, okay,” Charlie said, letting Lucy pull him into the living room. He was a little overwhelmed at the moment. In one fell swoop, this house felt a little like the Burrow and Shell Cottage. This was now where family was too. He loved this place.
Molly, as if she knew what he was thinking, leaned against his shoulder, resting her head on his shoulder.
“Uncle Charlie, look at this dragon,” Lucy said, showing him a drawing of a big, red dragon when Charlie sat down on the lone couch. Molly remained at his side, more than comfortable sitting in his lap. The dragon seemed oddly familiar. “It's Esh-ban.”
Charlie's eyes furrowed in shocked and confusion. How did a little girl know about the escaped dragon? I think that dragon you've been chasing is connected somehow. And he just noticed now her hands were blackened, two red gems embedded in her skin. He'd never even heard of something like that before.
“Lucy, what happened to your hands?” he asked, concerned.
Lucy gasped, hiding her hands and the drawing behind her back as if she was caught doing something wrong. There was a look of worry on her face, making her seem small. “Daddy said only he and Molly can see it,” she answered.
Charlie frowned. “I'm your uncle, Lucy. You can trust me. Your dad will understand.”
She didn't seem to believe him at first, but she relented quickly, throwing her hands out in display with the drawing still in her hand. She actually seemed excited to show them to Charlie, twisting them around so he could see everything. “Esh-ban was sorry that it hurt,” she told him.
Starting from below her elbows, her skin began to blackened, all the way until the ends of her fingertips where it was the most stained. In a glance, it'd would seem as if she had sustained burns, but with a closer look, it seemed as if she had dug her hands into fire, coming out uninjured. It seemed as if she was permanently covered with soot and ashes. And on top of each hand, in the middle, were round garnets too big for her small hands, the stones stretching from the first to the last knuckle. It would remain so as she grew up that it fitted better on her hands.
And it wasn't noticeable at first, but inside each gem, there was an transparent ouroboro with a pair of wings and its eyes closed, asleep.
“Esh-ban did this to you?” Charlie asked, aghast. This was powerful magic, ancient and new at the same time. “Why?”
“Because he wanted to be my champion!” Lucy answered happily, throwing her hands in the air. “He said he loves me so he wanted to be mine!”
The dragon keeper’s eyes widened in shock. The age of the dragon riders was long gone, gone with the era of the druids and long before the creation of the Ministry of Magic. Back when dragons roamed the world more freely, but the dragons had dwindled greatly in number in Europe as the blood of druids dried out and Muggles became a greater part of the magic community. It was written in the historical documentations. Magic became more entwined with the individual, but connections to the earth and magical creatures became less common and more restricted to the other magical races such as the veelas and the faes.
Charlie had books about the age of the dragon riders, and he knew the stories. He knew this was no contract made on a whim, and there could be dire consequences.
“Tea’s done,” Percy said, coming out from the kitchen with a small tray. There was a teapot, a warm pitcher of milk and four cups. “There’s biscuits too, but don't eat too much or you'll spoil dinner.”
“Percy, can I speak to you in private for a moment?” Charlie said, as his younger brother poured out the drinks, two for tea and two for milk.
A look of fright crossed Percy’s face, worried about what Charlie would say. Or do. “Yes, we’ll head into the kitchen,” he said anyway, taking his oldest and setting her down next to his youngest in the floor so that they'd sit side-by-side. “Don't touch the tea, you two.”
“Okay,” Molly said, munching on the treat. She looked up at her father with a happy face. “Uncle Charlie isn't going to be mean to you, Daddy. He’s worried. Promise!”
Charlie didn't know how his niece knew that, but Percy took it better, nodding. The younger Weasley led his brother into the kitchen.
“Percy, what happened that night?” Charlie immediately asked when they had their privacy. “Was there a dragon on that rooftop? Big and red?”
Percy frowned, bristling as he recalled that night, and he unconsciously crossed his arms. “Yes,” he replied simply. “It was big and red, and hurt my daughters. And I let it happen, Charlie. Lucy said it was going to be okay, but the next moment, she's screaming and Molly too because Molly feels. Lucy spoke about meeting a dragon in her dreams and said she wanted to go somewhere high. I just thought she wanted to see the night sky because she's just a child and shouldn't even be able to summon a flying lizard. If I ever get my hands on it, I'm going to tear its wings off, Charlie, magical creature protection policies be damned.”
Charlie watched as his brother flushed with anger at the dragon, at himself.
“Percy, I don't think anyone would have expected what happened to happen,” he replied, placing his hands on Percy's shoulder in comfort. “I think I know what the dragon did to Lucy, why her hands are like that. It's all old stories, but I've read it in the books. She's a bloody dragon rider. There hasn't been one since the last days of King Arthur, but here, in this day and age hundreds of years after, a little girl has single-handedly revived an old covenant between us and the dragons.”
“And if the whole world found out, they'd hound her until the end of her days,” Percy said with clear, blue eyes. “I can't let that happen, Charlie. I don't want that for my daughter. I didn't even want magic for either of them, but Lucy can understand animals and Molly can take on the nightmares in your head!”
“Percy, calm down,” Charlie said, pulling his brother close out of habit from the War. “We'll figure this out together, okay? I'll do everything I can to help you. I swear it.”
Percy embraced his brother, out of fear and revived affection. “Charlie, what am I going to do? I'm scared they're going to be taken away from me. Hogwarts is going to send them letters. They already know. There's absolutely no way they don't. They probably know I'm still alive too.”
Charlie quietly shushed Percy, petting his hair. “It'll be alright, Percy. I'll do everything to make sure that never happens. Bill and I will fight it tooth and nail. We'd never let a Weasley be taken away. We've battle the worst evil and survived. Who's to say we can't do that again, especially if it's for the two beautiful girls the next room over? Merlin, I adore them. I'd give up my legs for them. Percy, Percy, Percy, why have you hidden them from me all these years, you dolt?”
The older man held Percy’s face in his hands, pressing their heads together. “I'm shaking in anticipation of the day they'll finally get to meet their cousins and their dozen aunts and uncles and Mum and Da and my dragons and my colleagues and my—”
“I get it, Charlie,” Percy interrupted, laughing despite himself. “Me too. I can't wait for the day they get to see the Burrow and run in the garden.”
Charlie just smiled in return, holding his brother by the waist. Percy was a lot smaller than he ever remembered him to be, but a near decade was a long time, long enough for people to change.
“Let's get back before they get mischievous,” the dragon keeper said.
Percy looked slighted, raising an eyebrow. “My daughters are not mischievous,” he rebutted.
Charlie chuckled, pulling his brother with him back to the living room. “I have taken care of children before, Percy. None them mine thankfully, but I know, with all certainty, little girls are the most mischievous creatures of us all.”
Molly could see through herself, and she thought she died again, making her burst out into tears. Her father had just tucked her in while Uncle Charlie tucked in Lucy, but she wasn't in her room anymore. She was at the place again, where Missus Molly lived. She opened her eyes to see that she was sitting right outside the door, the sky really dark and sparkling. Molly didn't go in because she now thought that was where the dead went in and never came out.
She wanted to be alive again.
The door opened behind her, and Molly let out a gasp, looking up at the tall presence standing over her. It was a man with red hair, like her father, with blue eyes, like her father. This man looked like an old man version of her father, really.
Molly stopped crying at the sight of such a familiar-looking person.
“Oh, dear, are you alright?” the aging tall man asked with a kind voice, sitting down beside her.
“You look like my daddy,” she said through hiccups. “Do you know him?”
The man’s face softened, placing a hand in her head, and she felt his warmth. He was a very kind man. “I don't think so, my dear. If I did, I would have already met someone as precious as you. But that's okay. We met today, and now is a good time as any, don't you think?”
Molly blinked. “Okay,” she replied, wiping her cheeks. She shivered. “I'm Molly.”
The man’s face lit up. “I'm Arthur,” he said. “Molly's my wife’s name.”
“Oh! You're Missus Molly’s husband? I like Missus Molly! She feels like home!”
“Yes, she's a wonderful delight. I'm a lucky man. She's the mother of all my children, and Merlin, do I adore them all.”
“Even Percy?” Molly asked, remembering what Missus Molly said last time. “Missus Molly said one of her sons died, and his name was Percy. He did a lot of bad things, and he hurt Missus Molly and made her cry. I think he's very sorry about that, Mister Arthur. I'm sorry he made your wife cry.”
Mister Arthur’s face softened, placing an arm around Molly’s shoulder. Molly didn't really think she was actually there, but Mister Arthur kept it over her shoulders anyway, like he really believed she was.
“That's quite alright, dear,” he said, smiling lightly. “It was a long time ago, and we all had a lot of time to think. There's nothing to be sorry about anymore. I rather he just came home. That would mean a lot more to me than any apology.”
Molly frowned because despite what Mister Arthur said, she felt a bitterness on her tongue. “Your words taste bad, Mister Arthur,” she said. “You're saying nice things, but you aren't feeling the same. I don't like it, Mister Arthur.”
Mister Arthur's eyes widened in surprise, blinking in confusion. “What do you mean?” he asked, tapping his chin.
Molly burrowed her eyebrows in deep thought. She needed a moment before she looked up, speaking with a childish confidence. “You’re mad,” she answered. “Because it still hasn't fixed your sadness. It hurts less now, but it still hurts. Time is mean because you're still sad about a long time ago. I don't think I like time too if it makes you mad, Mister Arthur.”
And Mister Arthur let out a laugh, though his eyes twinkled in a way that made him look sad too. Molly didn't understand.
“I can't say much against that, can I?” he said, letting out a sigh. “Maybe one day, Molly. Not today, but someday, I'll stop being mad. For now, there's not much I can do. Loss is not something you can move on from on your own will. It's something you get used to, and for many people, it's hard to accept. I'm still trying to accept it.”
Molly put her hands in her waist. “I'll help you, Mister Arthur! I'll bring your Percy back! Promise!”
Again, Mister Arthur laughed, softer and quieter this time. “Isn’t that a beautiful thought?”
Molly didn't get what that mean, but she remembered what Missus Molly said. She died again, remember?
“I'm not dead!” she shouted, standing up in protest. She was scared because Mister Arthur had been looking at her the same way Missus Molly did. “I want Daddy! Daddy!” she screamed, starting to cry again as she began to run.
“Molly!” Mister Arthur cried out, reaching out a hand to her despite her being dead, but Molly continued to run into the dark night, not looking where she was going.
She closed her eyes, and she wasn't running anymore, staring at the dark on her bed. She felt tired, her heart beating loudly in her small chest, and she wanted to cry for her father. Then she remembered the promise she made to Mister Arthur. She got off her bed, making one loud sound as her feet landed on the wooden floor, but Lucy only shifted in her blanket, not waking up from her sleep.
Molly quietly made her way to the door, holding the walls to find her way through the halls. She carefully tried not to make any noise as she went past her father’s door, shivering as she headed towards her uncle's room in the house. She struggled to turn the knob, but for some reason, it turned and opened the door all by itself. For a moment, she thought her uncle had heard her and opened itself for her, but she didn't hear any footsteps.
“Uncle Charlie,” Molly whispered, closing the door softly behind her. She rushed over to the bed, and she started to shake her uncle by the arm. “Uncle Charlie.”
Charlie woke up with a start, not expecting to be awoken in the middle of the night. He took a moment to realize who woke him up. “Molly?” he whispered back, pushing his blanket back. “What are you doing up?”
“Uncle Charlie,” Molly said, “A Mister Arthur and his wife Missus Molly are sad because their son hasn't come home. Will you help me bring him back? I promised Mister Arthur I will.”
Charlie raised an eyebrow in question. “Where did you meet Mister Arthur and Missus Molly?”
“I met them in my dreams, Uncle Charlie,” she replied as if it was the most obvious. “Do you know them? They have red hair like me and you, and Mister Arthur looks like Daddy but old.”
Molly giggled. “They have blue eyes too, Uncle Charlie, but Daddy’s eyes look like Missus Molly’s. So will you help me, Uncle Charlie? I only know one Percy, but I bet you know a lot more.”
“Their son is named Percy too?”
Molly felt something make more sense in Charlie’s head, but she didn't know what exactly. She nodded.
Charlie gave her a smile. “I'll help you, Molly,” he told her, patting her head. “I’ll start by finding Mister Arthur and Missus Molly. There aren't lot of redheads with blue eyes in the world, so they should be easy to find enough. I'll ask others to help too.”
Molly smiled. “Thank you, Uncle Charlie.”
“But we can't start tonight. You should go back to bed, and we'll talk about it in the morning, okay?”
“Okay, Uncle Charlie.”
Molly didn't move though, eyeing the door almost nervously.
“What's the matter, Molly?” Charlie asked, noticing.
“Can you stay with me, Uncle Charlie?” Molly asked, looking scared now. “The door opened, but I didn't open it. I think there's something in the house, Uncle Charlie.”
“Oh, sweet pea, of course. Do you need help getting up here?”
Molly shook her head. “We can't leave Lucy, Uncle Charlie. What if it gets her?” the little girl asked, looking like she wanted to cry. If she left her sister in their room all by herself, the thing that opened the door could get her. She might not find Lucy in the morning, and Molly didn't want that. Molly loved her sister.
“It's okay, Molly,” Charlie said, getting off the bed.
He bundled his blanket in his arm before reaching his free hand out for his niece. She took it, following him as he walked to the door. He let go for a moment to open the door, Molly feeling a lot less scared since she could at least the outline of her uncle's hand turned the knob. Quietly, they made their way back to Molly and her sister’s room, carefully not wake her father up on the way.
Molly nearly ran towards her sleeping sister when they finally entered the bedroom, and she crawled onto the bed, snuggling up next to Lucy.
“She's safe,” she told Charlie, who nodded with a smile as he took Molly’s blanket and placed it halfway on top of them on Lucy’s bed. “Thank you, Uncle Charlie. I love you.”
It felt like a burst of light echoed in her heart, and she knew it was coming from her uncle who placed a kiss goodnight on her forehead and then Lucy’s. “You're welcome, Molly,” he replied from Molly’s bed. There was a quiet shuffling before it was all quiet again. “I love you too. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” Lucy said, and Molly giggled because her sister was talking in her sleep.
“Goodnight, Uncle Charlie,” Molly said too, smiling as she closed her eyes.
Thank you for your support!
Percy didn't expect to find his older brother in his daughters’ room when he went to wake up Molly and Lucy for breakfast. He woke Charlie up first, gently tapping his brother on the shoulder because from childhood experience, it was one of the best ways to wake him without making too much noise.
“Morning, Charlie,” the father of two said quietly, not wanting to startle his daughters awake. “Did something happen last night?”
“Morning, Percy,” Charlie replied just as quietly, yawning as he sat up carefully. He stretched a bit before getting up on his feet. “I think Molly met Mum and Dad in her dream.”
Percy never heard anything about that. “How?”
Charlie shook his head, not knowing the answer either. “Percy, you need to teach them about magic. Molly asked me to stay with her because she was afraid of her own abilities. She thinks there was something in the house and got scared. They need to learn what they are.”
Percy bit his bottom lip. “I know, Charlie. But it's too soon. It wasn't long since I showed them a spell.”
“What do you mean?”
Percy told his brother about the incident with the levitation spell and the book coming to life on its own, with teeth.
Charlie was a little speechless. “And this was without a wand?” he asked, his expression darkening in concern.
Percy nodded, heading over to his daughters. “Darlings,” he said gently. “Time to get up. Breakfast is ready.”
The two girls grumbled as they slowly woke up, and Percy was met with the gray eyes of his late wife. “Breakfas’” Lucy slurred, rubbing her face. “Molly, wake up.”
“I'm up,” Molly sleepily said, sitting up. She reached up for her father. “Daddy.”
“Let's get you two washed up,” Percy said, lifting his oldest up into his arms. “You too, Charlie.”
“Uncle Charlie is here?” Lucy asked, unaware of last night. “Me too. Up, Uncle Charlie!”
Charlie laughed, doing as Lucy childishly commanded.
Everyone, with the exception of Percy who had already washed up, brushed their teeth and faces before heading into the dining room.
They had a nice breakfast filled with discussions about dragons because Lucy asked and that was Charlie's favorite subject. The two girls listened with interest as Charlie told real life stories, doing the kind of things good story tellers would do. Percy listened with interest too, but he had to remind his daughters to finish eating a few times because they were just so enraptured by Charlie's dragons that they forgot they were still eating.
A little bit after, Percy told Molly and Lucy to go play in the living room after they placed their dirty dishes in the sink. There was a small stool that they used so they could do so, the girls rushing out because Lucy wanted to draw and Molly wanted to play with her dolls.
“We could try it again together,” Charlie said, helping his brother dry the dishes. “They're scared, but I think they start learning, quick. They can't be afraid of their own magic. It was why Molly came to me last night.”
“What happened?” Percy asked, biting his lip again.
“Molly said she promised a Mister Arthur to bring his son home and came to me to ask for help. When I told her I would, she told me something opened the door for her.”
“There isn't anything else in this house. It's Fidelius charmed.”
“I know, but neither of them know that. They don't know what a Fidelius charm is, Percy.”
Percy let out a breath, thinking Charlie's words over. His brother was right. He had to teach them about magic. Based on what Charlie had told him, his daughters were doing magic in their sleep. As impressive as that should be, it was terrifying because they were only five years old. Lucy shouldn't have been making friend with a dragon, and Molly shouldn't have already met her grandparents.
“Okay,” he said, knowing he had to, for his daughters. “It's the reason I moved us here in the first place. It's big and far away so that no one would get hurt.”
Charlie placed a hand on Percy’s shoulder in comfort. “You'll do fine, Percy,” he assured with a small smile. “I'll do everything I can to help you.”
“Thank you, Charlie. It means a lot to me.”
They finished the dishes in silence.
“Where 'as Charlie gone?” Fleur asked when everyone but their visitor showed up for breakfast. Her beautiful expression dropped a little. “You didn't tell me 'e left, Bill.”
“I don't know either,” Bill relied as he watched his daughters talking to each other. Victorie was very into collecting sea shells these days. It must have been the veela blood in her. “I haven't seen him since after we dropped off the girls at the Burrow.”
“Do you think 'e’s okay?”
“Charlie can take care of himself, but I'll keep an eye for him. It's not like to him to leave without telling anyone.”
Fleur nodded, and then she perked up. “Ma chérie,” she said, “I have something important to tell you.”
Bill sat a little straighter, looking to his wife. He always pay extra attention whenever Fleur called him by nicknames in her native tongue. After more than a decade of marriage, the curse breaker was now able to read and hear French almost fluently, but he still needed as much practice as he could with speaking it.
“What is it, dear?” he asked, unsure of what she would say.
“Je suis enceinte.”
Bill was then unsure how he ended up on the floor, but he was so happy. They hadn't planned this one. He heard Victoire and Dominique giggling in excitement.
“Un bébé! Un bébé!” his oldest started shouting.
“Un bébé!” Dominique mimicked. “Un bébé!”
“Are you okay, Bill?” Fleur asked, glowing in revelation of the news.
Bill quickly picked himself up, kneeling as he grabbed his wife by the hands. “When did you find out?” he asked, wanting to know everything.
“Last Sunday. I was feeling ze same kind of sick as before and went to St. Mungo’s. I'm already one month.”
Bill nearly choked in joy, kissing his wife’s hands in near worship. “Merci mille fois. Merci infiniment. Tu es l’amour de ma vie.”
Fleur laughed, kissing her husband on the top of his head. “Et je t’aime de tout mon coeur.”
“I want to 'ug too!” Dominique said, getting up from her seat at the table. Her older sister quickly followed, the both of them hugging their mother from each side.
For the rest of the morning, Fleur and Bill teetered on the latter being late for work until the very last minute, when it was finally time to go. The mother of the household gave her darlings a kiss before she went via Floo to Gringotts.
They both decided for the next monthly family gathering tell his parents the news and to tell Fluer's in an impromptu visit to France for the weekend. The two told their daughters to keep it a secret because it was a big surprise for the whole family. Bill could barely contain himself as he tried to pretend he wasn't hiding a big secret when he went to drop his daughters at his childhood home.
“You seem absolutely chipper this morning, Bill,” his father greeted him at the front porch as usual. His mother was there too, sitting next to him as they watched their grandchildren play.
“Morning, Da. Morning, Mum,” Bill greeted back as he gave his mother a kiss and a hug. “I just feel very happy today.”
“That's wonderful, dear,” his mother said, her blue eyes shining with content. “Have a nice day at work.”
“Thanks, Mum. I'll be leaving now. I have to meet with some friends beforehand. Love you.”
“Love you, son,” his father said, waving as Bill apparated to the Valley, standing in front of one lone house.
He knocked on the door, even though he was one of the only other people to know of this place. The door was quickly opened by Charlie.
“Hey, Bill,” his younger brother greeted. “Don't you have work already?”
“I have little time, you git,” Bill said, stepping in before he hit Charlie on the head. “Don’t just disappear without saying anything. Fleur asked about you because you didn't show up to breakfast.”
Charlie smiled sheepishly. “Sorry. I forgot. I'll come by to apologize to her.”
“You better. Now where's Percy and my two little nieces?”
Charlie led him into the living room, Percy the first to notice them enter the room. “Bill,” he said with a smile.
“Bill?” Lucy repeated, looking up. She gasped, getting up from the floor and running over to her oldest uncle. “Uncle Bill!”
Bill blinked in concern when he saw her blacken hands, and shot Percy and Charlie a look. I'll explain later, Percy mouthed.
Molly quickly followed, squealing in delight. Bill caught them in a hug, and Molly gasped too, but for another reason. “Daddy, Uncle Bill's going to be a daddy!” she shouted.
“Again?” Charlie asked, not taking long to understand what Molly was saying. He immediately pulled his brother for the biggest hug, laughing in joy, and he sounded child-like. “Merlin, I'm going to be an uncle again! Congratulations, Bill! I'm so happy for you, you wanker.”
“Charlie, are you crying?” Bill said, laughing too.
“I'm happy for you too, Bill,” Percy said, already to them, smiling widely. “Mum and Dad are going to be so proud.”
Bill pulled him in for an embrace. “Thank you, Percy,” he said. “I hope you'll be there when the time comes.”
“Me too, Bill. Me too.”
Then a realization struck Bill. “Molly, how did you know?”
Molly looked pensive, tilting her head a little. “Your words tasted sweet,” she said. “Like strawberries. That means you're happy. And I felt warm on top of my head. That's yours, it's from somebody you love a lot. It feels like the way Mister Arthur talked about Missus Molly. And then things made sense in my head."
“Who's Mister Arthur and Missus Molly?” Lucy asked, confused. She had never heard of them before. “Are they your friends, Molly?”
“They're married and have a lot of children, Lucy. They're happy and sad at the same time.”
“I don't get it.”
“Me too, but I think that's how people are sometimes.”
Percy noticed the look on Bill’s face, knowing there was a lot in the past few days that needed to be explained.
“We’re going to need to talk,” Bill said for all of them, “but I have a feeling this is bigger than we can handle. Percy, I want to bring Fred and George here. Do you think you can do it?”
Percy grimaced, having a hard time thinking. He felt overwhelmed by that suggestion, and he wanted to say no.
“Percy,” Charlie said, placing a hand on his brother’s back. “I think they should know. I want to stay here with you and the girls longer, but I need to get back to Romania. I still have a job. My dragons need me, and that's where all the old books are. I'll send letters about everything I could find. Percy, do this for yourself, will you? Those two miss you.”
“That doesn't sound like Fred and George,” Percy muttered, looking down.
There was not a hint of bitterness in his tone, but he was still in disbelief that his two greatest childhood bullies would care for him after what he did to their mother. Percy recalled the past with guilt and regret, but he did not believe that the twins would have ever forgiven him for making their mother cry like that, giving up family to uphold rules and principles that threw him under the Greyhound.
“Let's try, Percy,” Bill said, looking at his wristwatch. He hadn't much more time to stay, but he didn't want to leave the question hanging. “I think they, out of all of us, would love to meet another pair of Weasley twins. The girls would absolutely adore them.”
Charlie grinned, kneeling down to the curious girls on the sidelines of their conversation. “Molly, Lucy, what if I told you that you have another pair of uncles?” he asked them. “They have red hair and blue eyes, just like me and your da, and they're the funniest people in the world. They own a funny toy store.”
“Toys,” Lucy repeated, gray eyes twinkling in excitement.
“They have lots of toys, actually. And they have kids of their own, your cousins Freddy and Roxxy. They're about your age actually.”
“They both got married?” Percy asked in a whisper to his oldest brother.
“To Angelina Johnson, the Chaser from their year,” Bill answered with a nod, continuing on when he say the bemused expression on his brother's face. “Well, George's legally married to Angelina, but they're all one lot. Nobody knows which kid is whose, but none of them really care about that as long as they got each other.”
“That's surprisingly the most Fred and George thing I've ever heard in my bloody life.”
The two laughed.
“Daddy, I want to meet uncle and uncle,” Lucy said, pulling at her father’s shirt. She stopped short. “What are their names again?”
“Fred and George,” Percy answered the same time Charlie said, “Gred and Feorge.”
The third son hit the second on the head, the latter laughing despite it. “You will not teach my daughters their antics this young,” Percy said sternly.
“So what do you say, Percy?” Bill asked again. “I'll bring them again next week after everyone stops worrying about Charlie. They think he's gone bloody mad because he didn't do back to his dragons. Ginny owled me a letter about a potential lover. Can you image this stag here in love with a person?”
Percy snorted, laughing again. “It seemed a little hasn't change. Well, alright, Bill. Bring them here so they can meet my daughters.”
Bill smiled, kissing his brother on the face multiple times in happiness.
“I'll owl you, Percy,” he said, deciding it was best to leave now or else he'd be late to check in and Fleur would start asking questions. Can't have the wife be suspicious while you're hiding the fact that your brother wasn't actually dead and had two children. Bill hoped for a day soon when he could tell her, but for now, Percy wasn't ready yet. “I have to go now. I'll see you at dinner, Charlie. Goodbye, Molly, Lucy. I'll see you soon. Bye, Percy.”
“Bye, Uncle Bill,” Lucy and Molly said, waving as their oldest uncle started to walk out of the house.
“Bye, Bill,” Percy said, and Charlie gave him a nod. The former caught Bill for a moment before he could apparate. “Bill, a friend of mine will be showing up at Gringotts soon. I don't know when because she says she'd be getting her matters in order, but her name is Lili. Please open this house for her.”
Bill hesitated. “I've never met her before,” he said, closing the front door behind them. “Are you sure about her, Percy? If I share this location with her and something happens, I don't know what I'll do.”
“It'll be alright, Bill. I trust her with my life. She cared for me. Look, if you really don't trust her, ask her to take you to Vault 467. She’s giving everything to me because she had been waiting for me to come back to the Wizarding world. She believed in me when I turned away. Her name is Lili, Bill. I want her to meet Molly and Lucy.”
Bill was still hesitant, but he nodded, agreeing to give this Lili a chance to prove herself before he divulge any information regarding his missing brother. “I'll consider it,” he said. “I'll be leaving now, Percy. You take care of the house, and remind Charlie to come home more often.”
“Yes, yes, I will. Again, congratulations, Bill. I'll be there when it's time. I need to make up for your wedding, albeit a decade late.”
Bill pulled his brother for a hug, arms wrapped tight around Percy’s torso like he might lose him again. “Thank you. That means so much to me.”
Bill made it to Gringotts early a few mornings later, making his way to Oligar, one of the goblin clerks.
“Morning, Oligar,” the redhead man said with a polite smile. “You don't suppose it too early to ask for a favor?”
The goblin hummed in curiosity, looking at Bill from over his thick frames. “Why morning to you too, Mister Weasley,” he replied with a toothy grin. “I'll give it to you this once for free. I have not forgotten about your souvenir from China yet.”
Bill chuckled. “Thank you, Oligar. Could you tell me the estimated value of Vault 467 and who it belongs to?”
“That's very personal information, Mister Weasley. It would go against client confidentiality.”
“I know, but just this once. A sibling of mine says it belongs to someone named Lili. I just need to know if I can trust her. He says all the proof is in that vault. I solemnly swear on all my personal savings that I'd never ask you or anyone else this again.”
Oligar hummed again, this time in thought, and then he huffed, nodding his head once. With a tap of a yellow nailed finger against a small drawer of his work desk, he pulled out a sheet of paper. What was written on it was minimal yet written in the language in which only goblins were natural in and what curse breakers spent years earning the privilege to learn.
“The estimate value of Vault 467 is 100,000 Galleons,” the clerk read out, “belonging to Lili, a house-elf. In addition, there are numerous priceless books and unassessed original paintings. This vault is currently pending for an owner transfer to one redacted Weasley. Oh, what a lucky wizard you are, Mister Weasley. It seems that great fortune may be coming your way.”
Bill shook his head before he kindly thanked Oligar and left to check in to his office.
He had a dozen logs to look over today, half of which leftovers from yesterday, of encountered cursed from around the world. Gringotts was doing the massive attempt to finally categorize curses and how to break them so that any future prospect encountering the same ones again, however unlikely, would be easier and more efficient. As one of the most experienced and highly regarded curse-breakers in the world, Gringotts had promoted Bill to the head of its curse-breakers department a few years ago. He barely noticed it was time for lunch if it was not for his beautiful who came to fetch him hours later.
Fleur had long became accustomed to the British Wizarding World and was now one of three secretaries to know all the codes and passwords to access all of Gringotts. Just by knowing that, she was able to do half the duties that the goblins did on her own, and the goblins greatly appreciated her swiftness in handling tasks without having it bother them every other hour. She could be running Gringotts alongside the owners of this bank if she wasn't already satisfied with her family.
It was a Thursday, and they always had lunch together on Thursdays.
“Where would you like to go this week, my love?” Bill asked, getting up promptly to meet Fleur halfway. He was overfilled with admiration at the sight of her.
Fleur laughed, feeling just the same about him he knew. She'd told him herself many times. “Ginny told me about zis café zat popped up next to ze joke shop,” she said. “She told me zat zey make lemon tarts zat makes your 'air sparkly. Let's go zere and bring some back for ze girls. And we can say hello to ze twins.”
“Fantastic. Shall we walk?”
Fleur nodded, and they made their way out to the lively streets of Diagon Alley where witches and wizards bustled through their busy day coming in and out of shops. There were many pairs of spouses with their young children, a few speaking foreign languages and pointing at what caught their interests. Bill felt like a newlywed again, when their lives were finally able to fall into routine after the War.
At first, it was hard to feel comfortable walking on the streets again because the Wizarding World was trying to recover from their losses and failures. Back then, very few couples dared to take their children out, fearing that a Death Eater was still out there for vengeance. Or even perhaps Voldemort was still alive even when they had burnt the body. But Bill and Fleur persisted through the barren path because they knew they had to continue to stand strong. They were the face of the Order of the Phoenix then.
They survived, and never again would they cowar and hide.
The new bakery was called the Honeycomb, and it was decorated like a giant honeycomb. Bill wasn't entirely impressed, but he would be able to speak to his brother's afterwards so it was convenient. Bill and Fleur were seated by a window, and outside, they saw the alps. It was a wonderful view as bumblebees flew daintily in the air above them, where a garden grew downwards with a rainbow of flowers. It smelled of ambrosia in there.
Near the end of their lunch break, Bill was changing his mind about the Honeycomb, taking particularly to the Sugardew tea Fleur ordered which made her lips seem sweet as if they were covered with sparkly sugar. When she smiled, he nearly kissed her every time, which only made her smile even more.
Bill felt young.
“I love you, Bill,” Fleur told him as they exited out of the café, replying to him. “Let's see how ez business today before we walk back.”
“Lively as usually,” Bill commented as a pair of children passed them into Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, the sound of excited laughter about the shop.
“Well, if it isn't my favorite brother and sister-in-law?” one familiar voice called out from up the stairs to the second floor where they lived. Like the Burrow, the twins had build above the original flooring and made a home for themselves, their wife, and their two children. George came waltzing down the steps. “But don't go telling Ronald or he’ll throw a fit!”
Bill laughed. “Only because it's true,” he joked. “How is business, George?”
“It's fine as usual,” George said, placing an arm around Fleur’s back in attention. “You look wonderful today. I would say that you're actually glowing.”
Bill froze, thinking the twins knew about the pregnancy before he even said anything. They probably left some Extendable Ears in Shell Cottage.
“You went to Honeycomb next door,” George continued. “Angelina absolutely praises it.”
“Et’s a beautiful place,” Fleur commented with a nod. “We must take ze children wiz us next time. Zey’ll like the Bubbling Bubble soda.”
George smiled. “We should, when Roxxy gets better. She's been feeling a little ill. Fred's taking care of her and Freddy upstairs for the week. Don't want to take her to the Burrow because Mum will fret until she's better.”
“We’ll come by this weekend to see her then,” Bill said, checking the spring filled clock on the shop wall. “We need to be going, George. There isn't much time before we're due back to Gringotts.”
“Alright,” George said, pressing a kiss on Fleur's cheek. “I'll see you this weekend. Goodbye, Fleur. Keep your health with you.”
“You too, George,” Fleur replied, returning the kiss.
“See you, Bill. Oh, give this to the girls for me.”
George pulled out a plain stick, cylinder shaped and black with a white tip. It was about five inches long, and looked horribly fake. It couldn't possibly be one of Ollivander’s wands. “Inspired by a trip through Muggle London Fred and I took last month,” he explained, whipping the wand lightly. In a snap, the stick turned into a bouquet of yellow daffodils. “But instead of simply a trick, it's actually magic.”
He whipped it again, and the flowers disappeared and became a stick again. “We decided to call it the Magician’s Bouquet,” he said, handing the stick to his brother. “Now get going. You don't want to get sacked now, do you?”
They briefly said their goodbyes before Bill and Fleur returned to Gringotts, the latter heading her way as he went back to his office.
There was a knock on his door when he sat.
“Come in,” he said, settling back into his seat. “Hello, I'm William Weasley, the head curse-breakers here at Gringotts. What can I do for you?”
The house-elf that just entered shyly nodded in greeting, her large eyes too big for her skull. She wore a nice peach colored dress, buttons sewn on it by hands as polka dots. She closed the door behind her. “You're Mister Bill, right?” she asked timidly by nature. “I'm a friend of Mister Percy.”
Bill paused for a moment, taking a deep breath. He gestured to the seat in front of him, and she obliged. “You're Lili, right?” he asked carefully. “Yes, Percy told me about you. He told me to trust you. He told me to look into Vault 467. It belongs to you, correct?”
“Yes, yes,” Lili the house-elf said pridefully, pulling out the key from underneath her clothes and showing that it was attached to her neck with a thick tether. “Lili worked hard for every last bit. Everything paid to Lili is in that vault.”
Bill nodded in understanding, enchanting the room to seal up.
“Mister Percy said I should show you what's inside,” she continued, though a little hesitant. “To show that you can trust Lili. Lili is giving it all to Mister Percy and his wonderful daughters.”
“He told me that too,” Bill said, “but I don't want to look in the vault. I believe Percy. Are you truly giving everything to him?”
A look of relief settled on Lili’s worried face, and she nodded enthusiastically. “Every last piece. Lili had hoped that Mister Percy would return home. He misses it a lot, Lili knows.”
“And for that, thank you, Lili. You have done so much for him in the past decade than any of us did in our entire lives. To this day, I regret not helping him.” He spoke genuinely.
Lili’s figure dropped in sympathy, clutching her hands together. “But it does not mean Mister Percy did not love Mister Bill Weasley any less. Mister Percy told Lili all about his siblings. It meant that Mister Percy had seen you in his head when— Lili shouldn't say anymore.”
Bill wanted to urge the house-elf on because he remembered her in that memory he saw a month back, when Molly asked him protect her father from him, but Bill didn't know who was him.
“Please,” he said, writing down the location on a piece of loose parchment. He folded it before he held it up to her. “I was never going to ask you to show what you had to give him, Lili. If he could vouch for you after disappearing without so much as a goodbye note, then I have no reason not to trust you, but I need answers. I saw Percy beg for death. What happened to him?”
Lili was close to tearing up, and she did, pulling a handkerchief out of the air and blowing into it. “Lili will not tell you, Mister Bill Weasley,” she said, but she held her hand out for the parchment, “but Lili used to serve Bellatrix LeStrange. Her sister still lives.”
Your full name is Lucy Narcissa Weasley. Those people, they were very kind to me when I . . . when I needed some kindness.
Bill dropped the slip into her hand, and with a snap, she vanished, a kind smile on her large face.
Merry Christmas, you guys. Here's an update a few days early.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Daddy, does Uncle Charlie really have to leave?” Molly asked, clutching at her father’s robe. Her sister was currently keeping a prisoner of their uncle, her little arms wrapped as tightly as she could muster around one of his ankles. “Can't he stay with us forever?”
Charlie laughed, barely able to resist dragging his niece on the floor as he pretended to be sad. Lucy was pouting adorably, and he really wished Romania wasn't so far away. He had felt the distance between his job with the dragons and London become further and further away with every passing year and every new niece or nephew, but though his heart resided in the land of his family, his spirit and passion yearned for the scaled beasts that once ruled the Wizarding world.
“I'll be back, you two,” the older man said, knowing that his research could only be done in Romania. Three weeks home was probably making his colleagues worry about his health and his family happily settling with him coming back home once and for all, and he spent two of three here in the Valley, making Fleur curious and inquiring. “I truly need to go back.”
“But!” Lucy argued, and honestly, it was a good point.
However, Charlie had to remain adamant in his decision.
“Molly, Lucy,” Percy tried for the tenth time, “Charlie has to go. His friends miss him, and his dragons need him.”
“If he misses dragons, I'll tell Esh-ban to visit a lot,” Lucy promised, looking ready to cry. “Don't go, Uncle Charlie! I don't want to miss you!"
And Molly started crying, face turning red, fast. “Daddy!” she screamed. “What if Uncle Charlie forgets us?”
The sharp face of guilt almost made Percy recoil, ultimately crossing through his face like a very sour lemon in very bitter tea and the lemon was lodging itself in his throat. “He won't,” he assured her, swallowing loudly as he recalled the Novas. They were kind people who loved his daughters like their own, and he only wished he could meet them again. “Charlie won't forget you. I'll make sure of that.”
Charlie looked at his brother with a worried interest, but he decided to let Percy tell on his own time. For now, he had to convince two little girls to let him leave with smiles on their beautiful little faces.
“When I come back,” he told them, looking down at Lucy wrapped around his ankles, “I'll bring you back a surprise I've been working on for a year. It's a toy, and it hangs over your head. When you spin it, it comes alive, soaring the air and breathing fire. Would you like that?”
“Like a dragon?” Lucy asked, her frown a little lighter now. “I want it.”
“And I'll give it to you, but I need to go home to Romania first in order to finish it. Would you and Molly patiently wait for me, Lucy?”
Lucy let go, standing up and eagerly bouncing on her feet in excitement. “I'll wait,” she quickly agreed, enchanted by this project of his. “Hurry back and finish it, Uncle Charlie!”
“Yes, yes, Lucy, whatever you wish,” Charlie said, kneeling down to her level and giving her a hug. She fit perfectly in his arms, like all his other nieces and nephews. “I'll miss you, Lucy.”
“Miss you too,” Lucy replied, hugging back.
Charlie slowly let go, turning his attention to Molly who had not said a thing, weeping quietly by her father’s side. He sighed, but not in frustration, and he placed a hand on Molly’s hair. “I'll be back, Molly,” he told her. “I made a promise, didn't I?”
Molly smiled despite her sorrows, nodding, and she held out a hand, sticking out a pinkie. “Pinky promise,” she said.
Charlie looked at the gesture in confusion, to which Percy chuckled at. “It's a Muggle thing,” the younger man explained. “It's nothing dire like the Unbreakable Vow, but it's means a lot to a little girl. Just do as she does and shake on it.”
And the dragon keeper did, holding out the pinky of his hand. Molly moved her hand closer and hooked her pinky around his, shaking on it. They laughed.
“You seem very happy this morning, Krecher,” Ginny said, setting baby James down in his baby seat. He gurgled adorably.
The old house-elf hummed, snapping his long, bony fingers, and a plate of breakfast appeared for Ginny. For James, there were two small bowl of cut fruit and meat. Krecher smiled softly as the babe picked his meal in his grubby hands.
“Oh, James,” Ginny said with a smile, and she picked up the spoon for help feed her son.
“No, no, Missus,” Krecher said, shooing away her hand and taking the spoon himself. “Krecher has got it. Missus needs to eat too, she's eating for two again.”
“You've eaten already then?”
The house-elf nodded, taking up first the bowl of meal, and carefully, he started to feed James like a doting grandfather. It was moments like this that Ginny was so grateful of Hermione, one of her closest friends and sister-in-law. Ginny couldn't imagine living in 12 Grimmauld Place without him.
“You haven’t answered my question, Krecher,” Ginny said softly, “unless you don’t want to. I won’t press.”
“It is fine, Missus,” Krecher said, chuckling a bit. “Krecher will tell. Krecher's darling has found her old friend again. She’s very happy, and so Krecher is happy too.”
“An old friend?” the redheaded woman repeated, a bit more interested.
“Not any old friend. He's a wizard, Lili said, went off to live in Muggle London after the War. Lili said he return back with two little girls with flaming red hair. Lili has found her last employment with them, and old Krecher is very happy for Lili. Krecher's darling smiles like fresh linens.”
Ginny smiled. It had been two years since Kreacher had first met Lili, an another house-elf was aging just like him and her line long having served a pureblood family until the last one. Both she and Harry were surprised the first time Krecher called Lili his darling soon after.
House-elves had always been bred, their partners chosen by their masters, and their children taken from them, sometimes sold off or traded like objects. It was a long and continuous effort to help the house-elves—still is—gain their rights to be treated equally under Wizarding law. To Ginny, it was worth it, seeing how Kreacher had considerable brightened up since people have been treating with the kindness he deserve and he too should have the chance to love someone the way that Ginny loved her husband.
“Flaming red hair?” Ginny asked, laughing a bit. She was certain that all the redheaded wizards left in Britain was a Weasley by now, her mum and da having just so many children and grandchildren.
“Krecher can't say,” the old house-elf replied. “But maybe. Lili will tell when Lili will tell. Eat up, Mister Missus. Another Sunday at the Burrow this week. Will Missus and Master permit Krecher to bring Lili here while you and Master Harry are away?”
Ginny nodded. “Of course, Krecher, always,” she replied. “Lili is a welcomed guest here. Please tell her that if her old friend would like to make some new friends, I would love to have them over for supper. The girls too.”
“Aye, Krecher will tell his darling. Now, now, Mister James, food goes in your mouth, not on your face. Like to cause trouble for old Krecher, don’t you? One day, you’ll learn, Mister James.”
Baby James spit out a banana slice.
“Weasley,” Draco said softly, his face worn too much for someone still so young. He was newlywed to Astoria Greengrass just as the leaf of the new year turned, their marriage one last attempt to resist the extinction of the Purebloods, but the War had been so long ago and so many things had changed.
Bill could not come to hate the younger man if anything Harry told him was true. Instead, Bill looked at Draco with a kind neutrality that could go either way, and he stood in the front entrance of Malfoy Manor after being escorted in by a paid house-elf, requesting to speak privately with Narcissa Malfoy, the sister of the dead Bellatrix LeStrange.
The older man wondered if Draco hated him, being the son of the woman who killed his aunt, even if she was so power hungry and starved for the attention for a man unable to love. Bill wondered if the head of the household would turn him away.
“Malfoy,” Bill greeted back politely. “Thank you for letting me into your home.”
“Friends of Potter are welcomed in my home,” Draco replied with a nod. “I was told you wanted to speak with my mother. What business do you have with her? I never knew that you and her ever spoken to each other.”
“We haven't, but I've been told that she had spoken to my brother before the War ended.”
Draco’s face paled for a moment at the mention of the War before he let out a sigh. “Are you speaking of your second brother? Percival, I think. I remember him. He wore thick glasses and had his nose stuck in people’s businesses if not books. Oh, I'm sorry. I don't mean to speak badly of the dead.”
Bill shook his head. “That is how most people remember him, but I'm not here to speak to you about him. Malfoy, let me speak to your mother. She must have some knowledge as to where he was.”
“That is only if she agrees to. Follow me. She should be having her afternoon tea right now.”
Draco gestured for Bill to follow him up the grand stairs. They didn't speak as they walked through the hallway, but the head of the household made another gesture to stay when they reached one of the rooms at the end.
The platinum blond entered by himself, leaving Bill alone for just a moment before opening the door fully to let the other man in. The redhead thanked Draco with a nod, and he walked into a greenhouse gazebo.
Narcissa Malfoy was sitting on a lone iron table, a porcelain teapot pouring itself out into the cup she held out. Bill heard the chirping of birds, but he did not see them. All he saw were brightly colored flowers and thick trees, a small pond a meter walk away. He saw fish and tadpoles swimming in the waters, peaceful and serene.
“Missus Malfoy,” Bill greeted politely, “good afternoon.”
Narcissa glanced up. “Mister Weasley,” she replied back. “You wanted to speak to me about your brother? I don't believe I ever met anyone in your family personally, except perhaps your youngest brother. Is he the reason you came here today? If you expect me to apologize on my late sister’s behalf, you should leave now.”
“Mother, please,” Draco said, shaking his head. “Mister Weasley wants to speak to you about Percival Weasley, not Ron.”
Narcissa frowned at the mention of that name, a cold drop of indifference in her steely eyes. “Why would you think I'd know him?”
“A house-elf named Lili told me,” Bill replied, wanting to leave but remained where he stood.
At a distance, he had washed his hands of pureblood politics. There was no reason to be dirtied by their ideology now that laws against half-bloods had been abolished after the War. Three feet away from Narcissa Malfoy, however, put him back in the War, memories of the Battle of Hogwarts burning back into his eyes. He hated the Malfoys then. He wanted to murder Bellatrix LeStrange for attempting the killing curse on Fred when his back was turn. Had it not been for their mother who had pulled her son out of the way and cast the spell onto the witch, they would've had lost two sons in the War. Anger scorched the heart of his until it was softened by his daughters and wife, grief dripping down for everyone who didn't deserve to die.
“I see,” Narcissa said, gesturing to Bill to take the seat across from her. “I'll see Mister Weasley out myself, Draco. Please leave us. This is a private discussion.”
Draco was hesitant, not wanting to leave his mother alone with Bill out of fear one of them would rip the other in conflict, but Bill sat down before he could have the chance to interject.
“Please, Draco,” Bill said, looking at the younger man. “I must know what happened to my brother.”
The younger man sighed, and he nodded. “I'll be in my office if you need anything,” he said, walking out. The door closed quietly behind him and faded out of sight, nothing but an artificial wildlife encircling them.
“I thought that house-elf died after the War,” Narcissa began, a teacup floating in front of Bill on the table and teapot pouring itself out for him. “My husband and I went to my sister’s estate after we heard about the Dark Lord’s death, and we did not find a living soul.”
Bill silently accepted the cup of tea, holding it by the handle but not yet lifting it. “What was my brother doing there?” he asked, mouth drier than the Egyptian desert.
She sipped at her cup, staring out the gazebo. “Your sister wasn't the only one my husband had put in harm's way that year,” she confessed, but she was not guilty. “An unexpected happening, and short lasting, but enough for the Dark Lord to recall faint only the faintest of knowledge from before his resurrection. He knew your sister and he knew Percival.”
The tea tasted like it smelled, herbal and citricy. It was a bit of lemon and a dash of orange, a personal blend. “Voldemort knew of Percy? What did he wanted with my brother?”
(When did that happen? How ? How did Bill spend all these years happy when his little brother had been suffering the personal torture of that damned Voldemort all that time? Why didn't Percy tell anyone? They could've helped him. They would've kept looking. He wouldn't have just disappeared out into air like that? Ron was the one who suggested holding a service, burying an empty coffin because there wasn't any body to bury. How did this happen? Why ? Per—)
Narcissa frowned. “I wasn't sure. My husband knows. He was there more often than me. My sister knew too, and she was always angry about it. I only knew what the Dark Lord did to Percival could not be anything else but torture.”
Bill swallowed the hot tea on a single mouthful, but it was nothing compared to the painful truth. A whole year, Percy was missing, before Voldemort died. “Thank you,” he said, voice cracking. “Is there anything else you can tell me?”
Narcissa turned her gaze to Bill, an expression of mourning on her sharp face. “I’m sorry for the death of your brother,” she told him. “My husband and I had faith in the Dark Lord, and we did our best to console Percival. We wanted to secure the future of the family, but we believed the torment and terror would only be for a short time.”
“By oppressing half-bloods and Muggleborns?” Bill couldn't help but ask with a sneer. “What could you have ever done to console Percy? You hated us, and my friends and family were the first to be lined up to die. A future secured by torment and terror is a future of torment and terror.”
“We did what we thought was right,” Narcissa bit back. “We did it for our only child, and it was I who saved Potter and betrayed Voldemort to protect my family. Remember that so that you do not come into my home and question me, Mister Weasley. I would've let all of London burn if it meant that my husband and son were safe.”
Bill took a deep breath to calm himself. “What does that have to do with Percy?” he asked.
Narcissa looked away again. “For the few times I saw him at the Estate, I cared for him. He was like a bird with broken wings, and I took pity on him and comforted him. He was dying, and he did, didn't he? There was no body, no trace of anyone living there. The house-elf left, and Percival took it upon himself to crawl away and die somewhere no one would find him. A bird that can't fly is fated to die.”
“Not fated. Cursed.”
The woman let out a small laugh as bitter as the tea. She pulled out her wand from her pocket and waved it in the air. The door reappeared again. “If you can find him, Theodore Notts would be able to tell you more about that year,” she said, dismissing Bill. “He was there the entire time.”
Bill wanted to know more, but he pursed his lips shut. He knew Narcissa would not say anything more. Why would she? His mother killed her sister, and he had no less admitted he had no love for her or her family. It was time for him to go, and the last bit of information was given because maybe, as she claimed, she did care for Percy.
Tonight’s dinner was great. It greatly helped Bill move on from his visit to Malfoy Manor. That was nearly two days ago. He was glad his niece was doing much better, Roxxy already running around with Victorie, which Dominique was trying to be mature for her age and teach Freddy how to play Wizard chess.
“Thank you for dinner, Angelina,” Fleur said, giving her sister-in-law a kiss on both cheeks. “You must come to our 'ome soon. We’ll 'ave a beach day.”
“That's a good idea,” Angelina replied, embracing in return. “Would you like to go get dessert? I hadn't the chance to take the kids.”
“I would love to. I'm sure zey’ll love it too. Bill, Fred, George, would you like to come with us?”
Bill interjected before Fred could finish, “Actually, I have something I want to show Fred and George. I met up with an old friend of ours, and I'm not sure how long he'll be staying in London. I hope you don't mind, Angelina.”
The ebony woman raised an elegant eyebrow, but Bill gave the twins a look to help him out. “Oh, yes, an old friend,” George said first, clapping Bill on the shoulder. His twin quickly joined in, “Yes, definitely.”
Their wife didn't seem all to convinced, but the three brothers gave her and Fleur big, bright smiles.
“Alright then,” Angelina said, but Fleur was still eyeing them. “Come on, darlings. Let's get ourselves some treats while your fathers go off on their business.”
“Should we wait for you at 'ome?” Fleur asked, taking her daughters’ hands.
Bill nodded. “I don't know how long it'll take,” he told her. “Have a nice time.”
“See you later, you little tykes,” Fred said with a wave, and his twin blew them all kisses.
They stopped when their wives and children left the flat above their shop, and the twins looked to their eldest brother, wondering what Bill was planning.
“An old friend?” Fred asked incredulously. “Who?”
“It's better if I showed you,” Bill said, taking out his wand and holding up his arm. “23 Baldur's Valley, remember that. Now grab on.”
The twins shared a look before they each placed a hand on their brother’s arm, and there was a quiet crack.
I'm actually quite proud of the next chapter, so look forward to it. ^^
Honestly, really hoping you love this chapter. This ended up so well. :')
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When the world stopped twisting and became stable again for George, all he saw was a small, one story house and his two brothers standing in the middle of a grassy clearing. It was dark out there in the night, the moon and the stars lining out only shapes. In one window of the house, light illuminated a figure through the curtains, but George couldn’t say who that was.
He thought that didn't keep Fidelius charmed houses save for Shell Cottage anymore. There was no reason to, was there?
“Wait here, you two,” Bill said. He gestured to a small tree for them to hid behind.
“Bill,” George said with all seriousness, unable to pass this chance to tease his brother, “is this a secret shag shack?”
Bill frowned, rolling his eyes, and the twins let out quiet laughs. “Ha ha, George,” he replied. “I am happily married with children. No, there's just something I have to show you. Someone. But I don't know how you'll react. So when the door opens, you'll have to make the decision yourself. You can either come in or go home and never speak of this. You lot got that?”
“Sure, Bill,” Fred said, peeking towards the house. “Just who you got hiding in there?”
“Just wait and see,” Bill said before he headed towards the house.
Fred and George waited patiently, seeing that the figure at the window had walked out into the hallway, but when the door opened, they could not see who had opened it, their oldest brother a tall and full man. The light on the porch lit up.
“Merlin, Bill,” George commented quietly, “move out the way. We can't see.”
“I wager he's doing it on purpose,” Fred said. “Dramatic, isn't he?”
The twins got more curious when they saw Bill move to hug the mystery person.
“This is a shag shack!” Fred nearly shouted, forcing George to withhold a snort. “I'm telling Mum!”
George shushed his twin, snickering. He pointed their attention back to the house, and they waited silently as the two at the door speak inaudibly for a bit longer. Then Bill took a step back and moved out of the way, letting the mysterious man look out into the darkness of the valley.
And even in the dim lighting of the moon and the stars, George recognized that shade of red in the man’s hair, albeit longer and less neat. The man was much shorter than Bill, but still, he was one of the tallest in the family, his lanky and thin frame dangling under his robes. It was too dark and too far to see the man’s bespectacled eyes, but George knew he had their mother’s eyes, the only one in a shade of cobalt blue instead of their father's turquoise. And he would have freckles, dusting over the bridge of his nose and across his cheeks.
That man was George's third older brother who disappeared seven years ago before the Battle of Hogwarts. Percy was coward who ran away but died anyway. At least, that was what George imaged happened to his brother. It was what he imagined to explain why he never got the chance to say sorry after the War was over, and when people began to smile and laugh again, George couldn't find it in himself to spite someone he loved anymore, not after vanishing out of thin air like an apparition.
George thought himself a fool because he didn't want to hate his brother who hurt their mother and threw away the rest of them for a job, but so many people died that night. His twin and closest friend was almost murdered in front of him because their backs were turned for just one moment. It was their mother who took it upon herself to do the sin of murder to protect them, and for that, George was grateful.
George felt Fred stepped out from behind the tree and towards the door, the night lights illuminating his shape. George wasn't sure what Fred would do, but he didn't want to be left behind and nor did he wanted to go.
“Bill, who is that?” George heard softly, a few sounds lost in the cold air, as he caught up to his twin. It sounded much like Percy, the man who was squinting through his glasses to see better.
It was only when they stepped into the porch light that they were meeting face-to-face with Percy, whose eyes widened in shock and fear. “Fred? George?” he said, taking a step back, and he clutched almost childishly at Bill’s sleeve. His lips pursed in anticipation.
“Percy,” George said, mouth salivating all of the sudden. He was feeling himself tear up. “Is that really you?”
Percy looked away, nodding his head. “It— It’s nice to see you again, George,” he said. “Merlin, what happened to your ear?”
That really was Percy. Percy, the brother that the twins meticulously teased because he was always a stick in the mud. Percy, the one they both threw peas at the dinner the night he returned home to the Burrow. Neither of them knew it was going to be the last time they'd ever see him because they didn't think that Perfect Prefect Percy was ever going to disappear because that was against the rules. You just don't go off disappearing like that.
This was one of the few times Percy guessed the tight twin.
George choked out a sob, overwhelmed by his twin’s thoughts and his own in this very moment. As twins, they could both feel what the other was thinking and know what the other was feeling. It was why they were together with only one woman, the mother of their children. Angelina accepted them both and never threatening to choose one over the other. They were the lucky ones, and even more so when their families did not turn them away for their unconventional marriage practice but supported them and continued to love them and their children.
“We thought you died,” Fred said, sounding more put together, but George could feel the thousand of questions running through his brother’s mind. George barely remained on his feet when Fred leaned tiredly against his shoulder for support. “We didn't know where you were.”
Percy swallowed audibly before replying, his eyes turning red as he continued to cling onto Bill. “It's such a long story, Fred,” he said weakly. “I don't know where to start. I'm not ready to tell it.”
George heard himself sniffle a few times, one arm wrapped around the shoulders of the brother around his neck. Then he reached his free arm out. “Get over here, you bloody git,” he demanded softly. “You don't have to tell us anything. Just get over here.”
He saw Percy hesitate, looking up to Bill in nervousness, but the oldest of them all merely gave him a smile and a gentle push towards their younger brothers, brothers who needed comfort and to feel him solid in their embrace because this was something out of a dream.
Percy stumbled a bit, and he was not given enough to time straighten himself out before George grabbed him by the arm and pulled him in closer, feeling how warm and real and alive Percy was in his grasp.
That was not a dream or an illusion. This was reality, and it was beautiful.
“Daddy, why are you taking so long?” a small voice said, coming from inside. A little girl with red hair stuck her head out, looking at her father. Then she spotted Bill, and she smiled, stepping outside to hug her uncle’s leg. The image parallel her father only moments ago. “Uncle Bill! You came back.”
George and Fred stared at the little girl with wide eyes, looking like owls that she had yet to notice.
“Evening, sweetie,” Bill replied back, patting at her head in greeting. “Molly, your father and I have some people we want you to meet.”
Bill pointed at his twin brothers.
Molly looked over and saw her two uncles for the first time. Percy smiled, happy that his daughter was meeting more of her family, but then she let out a scream, startling everyone.
She ran back into the house, crying like the little thing she was, and shouted in a terrified panic, “LUCY, RUN! SOMEONE ATE UNCLE CHARLIE AND SPIT HIM OUT INTO TWO!”
There was a moment of silence as Molly’s screams faded out into the house. Bill sucked in a breath, realizing something. “Are you telling me that Molly and Lucy have never seen a set of twins outside themselves before?” he asked incredulously.
Percy shrugged, wiping at his cheeks with his palms. “They were supposed to have just start kindergarten,” he said.
“You have children, Percy?” George asked, smiling. “Twins, like me and Fred?”
Percy nodded. “W— Would you like to meet them?”
“Bloody yes!” Fred shouted, pushing himself into the house without any more permission, and George went right after him, sharing the same excitement and joy to see the two nieces they never knew they had.
“Watch your language!” Percy scolded, following them in fatherly concern.
Bill let out an amused chuckle as he closed the door behind him, walking a pace quicker than usual. He nearly knocked into one of the twins, both of whom were crouching lowly as not to seem scary, nervous yet happy smiles on their faces.
“Molly, Lucy, sweeties, there's nothing to be afraid of,” Percy tried to coax his daughters from their hiding spot behind the couch which faced away from the entrance. “Your Uncle Charlie told you about them.”
“But Daddy, they look the same!” Molly said as it was only her who had seen Fred and George. “They have Uncle Charlie’s face, but they're smaller! Something ate Uncle Charlie.”
“We have to save him, Daddy!” Lucy agreed, a hand reaching up into view to grab her father by the sleeve. “We have to call Esh-ban to help us!”
Percy’s eyes widened in fear, sucking in a breath. “Absolutely not,” he warned. “If that overgrown lizard shows up here tonight, you're in big trouble.”
“But something ate Uncle Charlie!” Molly argued, jumping onto her father, making him stagger back a step. She clutched at his collar, getting red in the face. “There's something in the house. It ate Uncle Charlie!”
“And it's controlling you and Uncle Bill!” Lucy added, jumping too to help emphasize her sister’s point. “We're going to get eaten! I don't want to be chewed on!”
Bill coughed into his hand, trying to cover up his laugh at the sight of Percy’s exasperated look. “Need some help, Percy?” he asked, trying to be a helpful brother. “Actually, Fred, go get Molly.”
“Which one is Molly?” Fred asked, looking at Bill.
“You figure it out, you git,” Bill said, pushing the older twin towards the small family. He had an idea about Molly’s powers. “You're part of a set too.”
Fred gave his twin a confused look, but George could only give him a shrug, standing up now. Percy gave his younger brother and assuring smile, which was no help, so Fred just went for it, picking the twin on Percy’s right, generously accepting the jumpy child as Percy carefully passed her to him.
“Evening, Molly,” Fred said, hoping this was the right one. He carried her with one arm, his free hand combing at her fiery red hair. He smiled, seeing clearly her gray colored eyes like steel. “I'm your Uncle Fred. I swear nothing will eat you or your sister up. I swear it on my life. Believe me. Uncle Fred only wants to make you laugh and smile. No tears.”
The twin looked up, her demeanor changed once she was in her uncle’s arms, and somehow, Fred knew she believed every word he said, calming down.
“Okay,” she said all of the sudden, as if the last moment hadn't happened. It confused Fred, but he took what he could get after such a heart wrenching reaction.
“It has Molly, Daddy,” the other twin said, slapping her father’s shoulders in alert. “No, no, no, Molly, come back.”
“Oh, Lucy, it's alright,” Bill assured first, pulling George with him. “See Molly? She's not crying anymore. There's nothing to worry about.”
The proper observation was that Molly was suddenly smiling now, happily laughing at the funny expression Fred was making for amusement. “You're such a sweetheart,” Fred commented, pressing a kiss on her cheek. “I can't wait for you to meet my Roxy and Freddy. You lot will be trouble I bet. Oh, Percy, she's a beauty.”
Molly giggled, resting her head against her uncle’s forehead.
“See, this one’s George, Lucy,” Bill said, pointing at the twin he had in his grip. “Don't be scared of him. Look at him. He's sorry he scares you, but I promise he's quite sweet.”
“Oh, Bill, you flatter me,” George said as he batted his eyes at his oldest brother, making a joke to lighten his mood. He looked nervously at Lucy who was still clinging to her father. Then he had an idea, pulling a long, black hat from out of his robes. He gave Lucy a performance smile. “For you, a gift.”
With a wave of his wand, George muttered, “Lapifors,” and tapped it into the hat, hitting a small statuette he kept for emergency demonstrations. Lucy watched carefully, and she let out a quiet gasped when the businessman pulled out a stuffed rabbit, white like snow.
“Bunny!” the little girl shouted, reaching out for the toy.
Lucy looked up to her father. “Daddy, look,” she said, her gray eyes shining like chrome. "Can I have it?"
Percy had to give George a look, to which George replied smoothly, “Don't think I won't try to bribe her for her love, Percy. I have every means to do so.” He narrowed at his niece’s black hands and the red gems in her flesh.
Percy sighed, a smile on his face despite his expression, and he nodded.
“Hey, Percy,” Fred interrupted, Molly still in his arms. He was looking at her face closely, noting the round shape of her gray mono-lid eyes and her button nose. Lucy shared the same features, being her identical twin.
Their uncle was fascinated by their appearance, reminding him of his children, Roxxy and Freddy. With Angelina’s beauty and their complexion, their children had dark skin with a thousand freckles on their faces and shoulders like the stars had kissed them. The two were going to be tall, strong Quidditch players and get all the birds and blokes.
“You must have a very gorgeous mother.” Fred said after a moment, gently tapping at Molly’s nose and at her temple.
Percy’s lips quirked up at the compliment. “She absolutely was,” he said, his gaze soften.
“Oh, Percy,” George said, catching the word, but Percy shook his head.
“It's been two years, George,” he said sadly. “It's alright. Audrey was a gorgeous woman. Chinese-Irish American she told me, if you're curious.”
“I thought there was something else than British in them,” Bill said, voicing his thought. He realized he had never asked about his late sister-in-law, the one he never knew he had. “Was she a Muggle, Percy? You were living in Muggle London. No wizard or witch would've left the community after the . . .”
The eldest son instantly regretted bringing up the topic; it was hard on all of them while the two little girls were not a bit disturbed, knowing nothing of the world before their births.
“She was a Squib,” Percy answered, giving his brother a reassuring smile. “The youngest of three. Her family is a bit famous over there, and she came across the pond against her parents’ wishes.”
“Are we talking about Mommy?” Lucy asked, looking up. She gasped. “What's a Squib?”
“It's someone born into a magical family who can't do magic,” George easily explained. “They're like Muggles but know about us.”
“Ooh,” Lucy said in awe. She didn't know there was a word for that kind of thing. Not that she even knew that concept even existed.
“Mum and Da are going to be so excited,” Fred said. Then he paused, frowning. Fidelius charmed house, Bill being secretive, the Wizarding world believing Percy was dead. “You are going to tell Mum and Da, right, Bill?”
Bill cleared his throat, not liking being singled out. “Eventually,” he said, “but that's up to Percy.”
The twins looked at their eldest brother almost suspiciously. “You found him first,” George guessed. “How?”
Percy sighed. “It's a long story, George,” he claimed, “and I'm not in the mood for it. Not yet.” He knew his little brother wanted to push it, but Bill shook his head at George, telling him to step back.
“Does anyone else know?” Fred asked, changing the subject. “Charlie?”
Bill and Percy nodded as Lucy perked up, “Uncle Charlie went back to Rowmayneia.” Then she frowned. “I miss Uncle Charlie. And Ollie. When are they coming back, Daddy?”
“Ollie?” Fred immediately caught on. “What does Oliver Wood have to do with this?”
“That's a conversation for another time,” Percy quickly said. “Lucy, Ollie’s in Australia right now. He'll be back in a few months.”
“That sounds like forever,” Molly complained. “We miss Ollie now, Daddy. Can he owl himself home?”
The adults laughed, imagining a world renowned Quidditch player putting himself in a parcel and being flown home by one small owl. “No, Molly. Be patient and he'll be home in no time.”
Molly and Lucy pouted but stopped. That was when George finally brought up something he'd noticed ever since he first saw Lucy, something that was probably pushed into the back of everyone’s mind until they had a moment to settle down with this news.
“Hey, Percy,” he said, looking at his niece’s hands, “what's wrong with Lucy’s hands?” The other two looked, and it hit them. Too much excitement and relief had blinded them.
“I forgot about that,” Bill said in surprise, sitting down on the armchair.
“We might as well as sit down for this,” Percy said, gesturing to his twin brothers towards the couch, and they sat down with their niece's in their laps. The bunny wiggled her nose in protest. “Charlie told me there was a dragon on the loose.”
“The one he came home to chase after,” Fred said.
Bill thought back a little. “Did she really summon it, Percy?” he asked, recalling the day his little brother came to him at Gringotts. His twin brothers looked at him with incredulous looks on their faces.
Percy slowly nodded. “The very same. Their magic is acting already, and it's more than I expected . . . and Lucy said she met the dragon in her dreams. It showed up on the rooftop of my old flat in Muggle London, and I had to get it to leave because I knew someone would be looking for it. I let Lucy talk to it, and it did that to her.”
There was a bitter look on Percy’s face one full of angry and distrust, and he looked away in shame. “Charlie believes it has something to do with the druids, dragon riders, he said. He went back to Romania to research on it,” he continued.
“That’s amazing,” George said. “Charlie must've gone mad about that. I want to see the expression on his colleagues’ face when he tells them about that.”
“He's not,” Percy said firmly, giving George a dark look. “If they take her or Molly away, George, I wouldn't know what to do so this must be kept a secret. Promise me, the both of you.”
Fred and George leaned away, feeling a tension from their older brother. He had never done this before, before he disappeared. Now Percy looked like he'd aged twenty years, his blue eyes always glossing over his shoulders for unknown reasons. Percy never did that.
The twins noticed that in the very first hour they reunited with Percy because they had spent so much time mocking their brother for his ticks and appearance, his poshiness and arrogance.
But that was then, the end of the War almost eight years ago, and they'd change, hadn’t they? Fred and George did. Their entire family was persecuted for nearly a whole year until the night they almost lost each other. Bellatrix LeStrange, the dishonorable witch that cast the killing curse at Fred. Had it not been for their mother, Fred would've been dead and George would've been alone.
And it was clear that Percy also changed, but why? He'd been missing the last nine years, the twins no longer knew their older brother, or recognized the fear in him, the anxiety, the desperate clinging to life on the edge of a table. Where was he all these years, hiding a family from them? Was he ashamed? Did he hate them enough to leave them? Fred and George didn't care anymore, not now, not when they had a family of their own and they wanted to share their children with all their siblings, wanted to have more uncles and aunts for Roxxy and Freddy to rely on because nothing is forever, no one is ever constant, not even them. Fred would say anything to Percy if it meant he could introduce Roxxy and Freddy to him. George would say anything if it meant Percy would come home and bring Lucy and Molly with him. Fred and George would “promise you anything you want. Anything, just come home, Percy. We're sorry. We're so, so sorry. We didn't mean to hurt you. We didn't want you to leave. We were just so angry you would do that to us. You left us for a bloody job for your prissy Minister Crouch. You cut us off to be put under a position that only a desperate idiot would be happy for. You threw us away, you bloody git, because you didn't believe us. That was revenge for all those years mocking you and teasing you, telling you that we didn't like you as much as Bill or Charlie or that you weren't as fun as Ron or Ginny. You were the odd child out, Percy, and you hated that so much. That's why you let yourself become Weatherby, to get back at us. But we're all grown up now. You don't have to be like Bill or Charlie or Ron or Ginny. Just come home. We'll stop the jokes, we'll talk about all the regulations you want to talk about. We'll talk about our kids and take them to museums and zoos. We'll be old men if you want. Anything you like. Just—”
That was when Molly burst into open sobs, clawing her tiny hands against Fred’s arms in sorrow as she began to throw a tantrum out of confusion. Her face was scrunched up and red as she demanded, “Let me go! Let me go! You’re crushing me! Uncle Bill!”
Fred and George realized that they weren't the one talking, frozen still in thought.
At the sound of distress from his niece, Bill pulled Molly out of Fred’s hold, and she stopped her shouting, crying into her uncle’s robes as she gripped the fabric. “It's okay, Molly,” Bill softly whispered, comforting the little girl with sunset hair. “I have you. It's okay.”
“Molly?” Lucy said from George's lap, looking at her sister in concern and reaching out with one hand. She didn't like it when Molly was sad. It made her sad too.
Bill looked over to the twins, who were staring at Percy who had turned his back to them, hands in his hair as he trembled. He sighed. “Percy, I'm going to tuck Molly and Lucy into bed,” he said, knowing he should take the girls out of the room.
Percy nodded, not yet turning around.
“George,” Bill said, taking the twins out of their moment stuck in time, “I've got to take Lucy too.”
The younger twin nodded in a sharp movement, feeling a strike of guilt as he moved his arms away. Lucy slipped off, rabbit in her arms, and George didn’t know what to say, to do, to think.
“Goodnight, Uncle George, Uncle Fred,” Lucy said, standing a few feet in front of them. “Don't forget me.” And she turned away and walked to Bill who gently ushered her out of the room with Molly still pressed up against his chest.
“Fred, George,” Bill whispered as he left, “talk to him.”
There was a pregnant silence, the twins still sitting on the couch and Percy looking small on the other side of the room as he crouched down into a fetal position on his feet. They didn't notice when they started crying, but they knew they had to do something. No more heartbreak.
In a quick flick, Percy let out a surprised yelp, being pulled backwards by his collar of his shirt, and he landed against something solid, embracing him from behind, warm moisture watered the back of his neck as he leaned against the front of the couch.
“George,” he said, knowing which twin it was without having to look. He knew. It was funny how that worked, really, when they weren't all too close and and yet trying to remember his family in that prison was what kept him sane. He learned so much from remembering, how the two were the same and different, even their voices.
They pulled him up from the floor and onto the couch, right between them, and Percy was not given a warning before they collapsed around him in wrecking sobs. Percy didn't like it when his brothers cry. It made him want to cry too.
“Please come home,” Fred begged, gripping Percy by the robe. It was like they were young again, back when the twins couldn't talk yet and wee desperate to cling onto someone. “I missed you so much. I was forgetting what you sounded like.”
“What you looked like,” George finished, a hand buried into Percy’s hair. The younger twin began to choke up, unable to speak coherently as he finally broke down. “We thought you were dead.”
Fred followed right after, the younger brothers sobbing into Percy’s shoulders like children. There two men were fathers of children, creators and owners of one of the most successful businesses in the Wizarding World, and loosening the masks that smiled for them when it came to the difficult things in their past, like his disappearance.
Percy wrapped his arms around Fred and George, not far behind. He missed then, the rare moment of familial intimacy he had when they were still one family. He missed loving them.
“I'm not dead,” he assured them, his voice like a frog as the words tighten in his throat. “I'm right here. I won't leave again. It was lonely without you two. I missed hearing you laugh. Your jokes. Everything.”
When Bill returned to the living room moments later, he was caught by his heartstrings at the sight of his brothers muttering to each other as they began to rebuild the foundations of their relationship, tears falling despite the weak chuckles growing into genuine laughter. He could not resist the urge to envelope them in his arms, wanting nothing more than to keep them there forever.
Molly was sitting by the fireplace, knitting yet another sweater for Christmas. Since the number of Weasleys have increased, she had to start early now. It was a great way to pass the time, and she had never used this many colors before, colors that she once wasn't able to afford. Now none of her children wanted her and her husband to struggle putting food on the table anymore. Arthur had retired a few years ago, but never will they have to worry about living only on a government pension, her many children said, taking on funding the Burrow into their hands.
Molly cried so much then because they had all broken the cycle of poverty they had to grow up with.
Across from her was Arthur, reading a Muggle newspaper as he liked to do sometimes. He still loved Muggles and their culture, though Molly wished he didn't because some of the Muggle headlines spelled disaster, things of war.
It was a quiet night, peaceful and content, the crackling of the fire the only noise, that is until the grandfather clock in the room chimed softly. When the elderly Weasley couple looked up, they saw the hand of their dead son, pointing at "home," turning clockwise in one complete circle.
Molly burst out crying.
There's nothing more I want from any story than rebuilding relationships.
I’ve been back in Romania for two weeks, and I've managed to find some information about Lucy’s hands. I doubled-checked, and I guessed correctly, that she's a dragon rider. I know that you're afraid for her, I am too; however, my research tells me it wouldn't be good to keep them apart. If Esh-ban has truly become her companion, then you cannot keep him away from her, nor should you. It is vital for a rider and her dragon to stay close together as they now share a special bond that cannot be taken from their souls. I fear the worse if you deprive Lucy of that bond, but for now, she will be fine. When I return to Britain again, we will work on this together. I'll send you more letters when I find out more. Attached are copied text I could find on this.
That aside, how are you and the girls? I miss you so much already, but my colleagues had thrown me a small party because they learned it was my first voluntary vacation in years. A whole lot of them think I'm a golem of some sorts because I'm the first one to arrive and the last one to leave. Who knew I was so popular?
Please tell the girls I love them, and write to me that you're doing well. I love you.
From your brother,
Charlie had missed Romania greatly. He missed his dragons. He only regretted not being able to bring home with him, but that was part of the job. He'd been a Dragon Keeper since he'd left Hogwarts, homesickness was bound to happen, and sometimes, it was hard. But that was alright, it was okay to yearn for things, and for Charles, home was going to be there waiting for him.
But maybe he was growing old, or maybe he really wanted to be there to watch his family grow, Charles had been thinking that when he retired—Merlin knows when that would ever be—he’d go back home to London and start teaching at Hogwarts, as the Professor of the Care of Magical Creatures, or at least a teaching assistant alongside Hagrid if the older man had not yet stepped down. Charles knew most about dragons, but he'd never pass up learning new things about newly discovered creatures, or recently proven.
Out of all of his younger siblings’ friends, Charlie liked Luna Lovegood the most because they had the same kind of excitement for the creatures they loved. The Dragon Keeper went to her wedding a few months ago, Luna marrying one Rolf Scamander, the grandson of the greatest magizoologist Newton Scamander. Rita Skeeter from the Daily Prophet wrote Luna's wedding dress to be “Most Hideous Outfit of the Year,” but that slanderous reporter was absolutely wrong about that—as she was wrong about many, many things. It was a beautiful dress, and the person it would fit the best was Luna.
Charlie had been reading all her books and published works because she had found the most oddest things. There had been some rumors that Luna's mother was actually a fairy queen, and that was why she was able to discover all these legendary creatures. Charlie himself could not comment on how likely that was, but he would not deny it on the basis that he might be wrong.
Hmm, a professor at Hogwarts, Charlie has never thought about that before. He never thought about teaching at all, though as a senior Keeper, he had taught many beginners about many things, from what you can tell from a dragon's dung to the chance of not being eaten by that Hydra over there.
He can't say it was a bad idea, but for now, it would simply be a thought. Perhaps one day he'd work it out. For now, he was home in Romania.
There was only one known pureblood Nott left.
It seemed that their purity status dwindled for many generations as half-bloods married into the family until there was only Theodore, an aging hermit of a man who inherited the large mass for wealth that had accumulated when his grandfather was the only one of three siblings to marry another pureblood. The young man was to have wedded Pansy Parkinson at one time after the event of the Battle, but suddenly, he withdrew himself from the Wizarding world to his own. Parkinson then married Blaise Zabini.
That week, Bill was only able to find Nott’s secluded home by a cliff-side by an Irish shore due to Draco Malfoy owling back after his conversation with Narcissa, and so he visited the younger man on an afternoon off. The cliffside smelled of salt and coldness, clouds threatening to rain tonight. Bill felt alone standing outside the one story cottage, pale yellow against the dreary gray backdrop of the sky. It was too small, and there was too much open space. He felt like the last wizard in the world.
He took a deep breath, trying to dispel that feeling, and Bill knocked on the wooden door, knocking only three times. (Draco’s letter mentioned this.)
It didn't take long for the door to open, and for the first time, Bill saw Nott who had rabbit like features, lanky and thin like a small branch. He was shorter than Bill, and his posture hunched, making himself smaller than he already was.
“You're Bill Weasley,” Nott said in surprise, eyes widening in realization that there was no friend at his door. “What are you doing here? How did you find me?”
“Draco Malfoy helped me,” Bill told him.
Nott scowled. “Damn that Draco. The next time I see him, I'll send him to St. Mungo’s,” he spit out. Then his face scrunched up in fear, fear of Bill. “Have you come to kill me?”
Bill blinked in surprise, speechless at such an accusation. “No!” he nearly shouted, feeling insulted. There was enough death in his lifetime. He could not possible be the cause of any more. “ I wouldn't.”
The younger man was confused now. “Then what are you doing here ? You must have found out about what I did to your brother, Weasley. Why else would you be here if not to kill me for everything I have done to him!”
Bill took a step back when Nott raised his voice, his eyes burning in anger, in hurt. “That's why I'm here,” the older man said softly. “I'm here because of Percy. I want to know what happened to him. Narcissa Malfoy told me you would be the one who'd be able to tell me more. Please, Nott, tell me what you did.”
Nott let out a whimper, and he turned away, leaving the door open. Bill took this as an invitation and entered the small home, seeing that the walls was covered in books and the floor clustered with even more books with paper sticking out of them. On one of the tables, there was a typewriter and a neat stack of pages beside it, one more still in progress.
“Don't touch anything,” Nott said from the kitchen. “Don't make yourself comfort. I don't want you here.”
“I understand,” Bill replied, standing by the door.
Nott sat down on a plush armchair, purposefully facing himself away from Bill. “What do you know?” the younger man asked.
“Percy disappeared and was tortured,” Bill said, his tongue tasting like lead on his mouth as he spoke. “Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy knew he was there, but they couldn't find him after the War ended. Narcissa said you were there the entire time. With Voldemort.”
There was a tense moment of silence.
“Don't say his name,” Nott said, placing his head tiredly onto his palms. “I still turn my head to it sometimes, and I fear that I'll reply with his voice.”
“With his voice?” Bill repeated. He was putting the pieces together little by little. “What did he do to you, Nott?”
“He took possession of my body, that's what he did. He only had one body, but he wanted to play around every so often. So my dear father, the most loyal of all the Death Eaters,” Nott spit out, “offered his own son up to be used as a prop. I wasn't told of anything, so all I knew was that I would've parts of my memory during my seventh year missing. The Dark Lord cast an after image of himself onto me, and he would take my body.”
“I didn't realize what had happened until only a few years ago, when the memories finally resurfaced.”
“When you called off your engagement with Pansy Parkinson.”
“Yes, Weasley, because I remember everything he did with my body. The torture. The rapes.”
Bill’s knees nearly buckled in shock, and he fell against the wall, baring what he could of himself as he took this in. Tears were falling off his cheeks for his brother. Oh, Percy.
“I never wanted to be like my father,” Nott continued, his voice cold and hard. “I wanted nothing to do with the Dark Lord, but that year, I became him dozens of times and I tortured and raped your brother, Weasley. I made him tell me he loved me before I carved into his flesh. I gave him hope of escape and strangled him as I dragged him back into that room. I eavesdropped on the conversations he had with himself. The one he blamed for getting him there was himself. He wanted to die, but I just kept sticking him back together again and again and again.”
“Stop,” Bill said, biting his lip to hold back the agonizing wails building up in him. “Shut the bloody fuck up. Oh, Percy, my little brother. How could this happen?”
Nott let out a cruel laugh. “He asked that too, to someone named Penny. It's because he was Percy and nobody else. Isn't that sad? He didn't think he existed anymore. He probably died thinking he didn't matter. You were there too, in his head. You all were.”
A sob ripped out of Bill this time, unable to stop himself, and he couldn't hold himself up anymore, sliding down against the wall onto the wooden flooring of this cliff-side home. “Bloody fuck!” he cussed, screaming at everybody but nobody at the same time. “You bastard! I should kill you!”
And that made Bill feel worse.
Nott was gracious enough not to reply, or say another word as Bill sobbed. They sat alone as they waited out for their guilt, their regret and their sorrows to settle back in them.
The sun was setting by the time the sobs had began to dissipate, but the hollowness in the back for Bill’s mind continued to weigh heavy. “I hate you,” he said, his voice hoarse now. “I hate the whole lot of you.”
“I know,” Nott replied back, his tone soft and weak. “Do you have any more business with me? Or have you changed your mind?”
Bill shook his head despite the fact that the younger man was still facing the other way. “I haven't. I'm sorry that I said that, Nott.”
“I'm sorry too, Weasley. Now get out. I never want to see you again.”
Bill pulled himself up on weak knees, and he held the door by the knob. “If Percy was alive, what would you say to him?” he asked, a bit of curiosity wondering about the change in the other pureblood.
Nott finally left his head up from his hands, looking up at the ceiling, and Bill imaged him staring in vain as he spoke out loud his deepest desire, “Nothing.”
With that, Bill left this cliff-side home by the sea and Apperated himself back to his cottage home by the beach. He wasn't sure if he closed the door behind him, but he didn't care. He wanted to go home, to his family, and there they were, his daughters running to greet him excitedly as they began to tell him about their day unprompted and unashamed.
A wide smile broke Bill’s face as he entered Shell Cottage, and when he saw Fleur, glowing beautifully with third child, he cried again, much to the surprise and worry of his family.
“What 'appened, Bill?” his wife asked, embracing him as their daughters clutched at his torso. “Tell me.”
“I'm a horrible man, Fleur,” he said, wrapping his arms around her waist as he pressed his face against her shoulder. He sobbed again. “I don't deserve you, truly. How does someone like me deserves to be happy like this?”
“Zat is not a question,” Fleur replied without missing a beat. “You are ze father of my children. You make me 'appy. You’re my dear love. You deserve ze world in my opinion.”
Bill let out a wet chuckle because at her words, he felt comforted and belonging. He was supposed to be there, right there in this cottage home by the beach, the husband of a beautiful witch and the father of three children.
“I love you,” he said, “all of you.”
“I love you too,” Fleur replied, “all of you.”
Bill hoped to never see Theodore Nott again.
“Ron, Harry, have you finished your paperwork yet?” Hermione asked, stepping into the Auror Headquarters of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. At this point, it was a bit for her to come in and ask that question, reliving a little of their Hogwarts days when she'd asked them about their homework and essays. It was a reminder that they did have good times back then.
“Hello, dear,” Ron greeted first, getting up and gingerly offering his wife his seat.
Hermione appreciated the gesture, but she wasn't glass. Still, she took a seat, Ron's desk across from Harry's.
“Hello, Hermione,” Harry replied, eyeing them curiously. “Had lunch yet?”
“No, not yet,” the witch replied.
“That's great,” Ron said. Then he made a face as if he shouldn't have said it like that. “I mean I'm starved, let's go together. Only Merlin knows how many times we get to have lunch around noon. Just yesterday, we had to figure out that illegally own baby kraken. Who knew just how big they can get, and how fast.”
“Hagrid would've loved it,” Harry commented with a chuckle. “Maybe have a Butterbeer or two,” he joked.
“Absolutely not,” Hermione immediately said, looking disapprovingly. Then she looked up to Ron, and he smiled at her. “Besides, I can't have any. Not for another seven months at least.” Then she laughed, catching at the exact moment, Harry’s look of speechless surprise, his mouth agape and his eyes widened like saucer.
“Her— Ro— Bo— B—”
“Harry, slow down,” Ron said, laughing. “Yes, Harry. Hermione, me, both, baby. Now congratulate us, you git.”
Harry stood up and enveloped his best friend in a hug, bursting out into happy laugh. “Ron, I can’t be—” He was speechless again. “Congratulations!” Then he pulled away and turned to Hermione, and she let the embrace linger. “Hermione,” he said softly, sounding ready to cry in the middle of the office, “congratulations.”
Hermione wanted to cry too, because they were recovering, all of them. By now everyone was either happily married, working well, or both, and Hermione was going to start her own family with the man she slowly fell in love over seven years. She loved each and every one of the people in her extended family, and she was so happy that she was a part of it.
“You lot, you’re attracting attention,” Ron said, but Hermione saw him, blinking that way to combat his own tears. The Golden Trio, together and forever. “Harry, don’t you know some people are trying not to break down in the middle of the office.”
“Shut up,” Harry said, pulling Ron in, and all three of them laugh. It felt like they were young again, sitting in the Gryffindor common room like it was another quiet Friday afternoon.
At some point, they decided they needed to leave, for lunch at least, and the three stepped out into Muggle London, the Minister located right under it. They decided to go eat at Ron’s favorite Muggle cafe, The Broomstick, which always had an autumn feel to it. They transformed their robes into Muggle wear.
“Who else have you told?” Harry asked, smiling widely. “Molly and Arthur?”
“You’re the first one,” Ron confessed, placing an arm over his best friend. “The three of us has been through thick and thin, Hermione and me thought it was only right that you knew first.”
“And we wanted to ask you if we can name you the godfather,” Hermione added, taking Harry by the arm.
Harry stopped abruptly, his mouth agape and his eyes as big as saucers once again. “Go— You want me—” he said quickly, sounding like he’ll cry again. “You two will be the death of me. Of course, Hermione, Ron, I’d love to be your child’s godfather. Ju— Thank you.” The man was openly weeping now, holding a hand to his face to stay quiet.
Hermione laughed, and Ron pulled them aside to give Harry a moment because they all needed it.
With only half an hour for lunch left, they reached The Broomstick and quickly ordered. They’d Apparate back to make up for time.
“I guess it’s only fair I tell you something as well,” Harry said once they settled down, his eyes light pink. “Ginny’s pregnant.”
“Congratulations!” Ron shouted, ignoring all the heads that turned their way, as Hermione wrapped Harry in for another hug. Today was a good day. “Bloody hell, I’m going to be an uncle again!”
“That’s absolutely wonderful, Harry,” Hermione said a lot quieter but just as enthusiastic.
“It is, but Ginny might kill me,” Harry joked. “We were supposed to keep it a secret until this Sunday.”
“So were we, except for you,” Ron said. “Are we going to be godparents again?”
Harry shook his head. “Ginny and I both decided if it was a girl, we’d ask Luna, but it’s a boy, Ginny is going to ask Neville and I’m going to ask Draco.”
“Draco Malfoy?” Hermione said, struck by that. It was true that none of them were at odds with Draco now, the terror and destruction of the War proven too much for grudges and the blond had since then renounced the conservative pureblood ways, but she would never think Harry would ask him to be the godfather of one of his children, much less one of Ginny’s.
“Why him?” Ron asked, confused and perhaps a little more hesitant to this idea. Out of the three of them, her husband was still weary of the Malfoys, childhood prejudice and family feuds at times difficult to let go of completely. No, he didn’t hate Draco, not anymore, but some people were better off acquaintances than they would be friends.
“Because he’s no longer that boy from Hogwarts,” Harry explained with a small smile, “not anymore. None of us are, not in a long time. I think he and I could be much better friends, but it has to be me to hold my hand out first. His family barely escaped Azkaban by turning away from Voldemort, but he has not truly escaped the scrutiny of being the son and nephew of Death Eaters. Just imagine, Ron, the Potters, the Weasleys, and the Malfoys, friends. Even though the laws against Muggleborns and Halfbloods have been abolished, it doesn’t mean it’s time to stop fighting, and this time, I’m doing it without the wands, the spells, the battles. I have good faith in Draco, he’s become a good man.”
Hermione smiled sadly at Harry’s thoughtfulness, finding herself agreeing. They’d been fighting since they were eleven years, Harry and Ron even more so as their families fought it, and they were still fighting and will always keep fighting until their very last breath. There was just so much in the world to fight for, to keep safe, and if not them, then who? You didn’t have to be the brightest witch of your age or the chosen one, or have a long family legacy, to protect the world; you simply had to care enough to try.
“You’re right, Harry,” Hermione finally said, taking her friend by the hands.
Ron let out a sigh, pursing his lips, but he didn’t argue. “Don’t think I’ll start inviting him to my birthday parties,” he simply said, shaking his head lightly.
Lunch was a quiet fifteen minute Friday afternoon.
There was a knock on the door late that afternoon.
“Lucy, Molly, stay in the living room,” Percy called out as he walked into the hallway. He heard his daughters’ curious footsteps edging at the threshold, anticipating the so soon return of their Uncle Charlie who left just recently. Percy was sad to see him go as well.
At the door, Percy looked through the peephole and saw no one there. A cold dread ran through his spine, and he was about to turn away, grab Molly and Lucy, and run .
But then a familiar voice came through the door, “Mister Percy? It's Lili. She has come to make a new home for herself. If Mister Percy will still allow Lili.”
Suddenly, his fear and dread were washed away, a great joy overcoming him as Percy opened the door with a smile. “Lili,” he greeted, making space to let her in. “You frightened me. I had expected you to arrive before Charlie left.”
Lili, the house-elf and his close friend, let out a small laugh, walking into the home. She carried nothing but dressed neatly in a blue cotton dress. “Lili is sorry for that. She had to say goodbye to all her current employers before she could come here to Mister Percy and his family,” she replied, looking curiously to spot little girls running in the hallway.
“That's alright, Lili. So are you ready to meet Molly and Lucy?”
Lili’s face broken into the biggest smile, her thin, bony hands fiddling in nervousness. “Lili has taken care of many children before, so Lili will do a good job with Misses Molly and Lucy.”
Percy returned her smile, heading towards the living room. “Molly, Lucy,” he called out, “there's someone I want you to meet.”
The two friends walked into the living room, and at first sight, Lucy screamed.
“Lucy, what's wrong?” Percy said, picking up his youngest urgently and trying to comfort her as she began to cry. “Are you hurt?”
“There's a gremlin in the house! It's going to eat us, Daddy!”
Percy understood, and he wanted to laugh. His daughter, who had never seen a house-elf or anything creature like Lili before, was rightfully frightened. He had only told them a few stories about magic, but never had he shown them what they looked like. A gremlin in those Muggle illustration books must look very similar to a house-elf for a child. “It's alright, Lucy,” he assured instead, pressing her closer to his chest. “She's not going to hurt us. She's the friend that I told you and Molly about, the one who took care of me. She's not a gremlin. She's Lili, and this is going to be her home too.”
Lucy hiccuped, mushing her face against her father’s shoulder, and Percy rubbed her back as he sent an apologetic look to Lili, who looked guilty for no fault of her own.
“I'm Molly,” his oldest said, having no problem with an house-elf’s appearance and already standing beside Lili. They were around the same height, but it wouldn't be long until little Molly wasn't so little anymore. “That's my sister Lucy. She doesn't mean to be scared, but we never seen anything like you before!”
Lili smiled a little, happy that it wasn't both of them who were afraid of her. “Hello, Miss Molly,” she replied with a small bow. “Lili is so happy to meet you.”
Molly grinned with teeth. “I feel that! You're so happy you feel warm like biscuits straight out of the oven!”
Percy smiled. “Hear that, Lucy?” he asked. “Lili is a nice as biscuits straight out of the oven.”
Lucy stuck her head out, looking almost abhorantly at Lili “Are you sure?” she asked, still hesitant.
“Of course. Would you at least try to say hello to her?”
Molly smiled, taking the house-elf by the hand already, much to Lili’s delight. “Come on, Lucy,” the older one said. “She isn't scary at all.”
Lucy, looking at her sister for a moment, nodded, and Percy slowly let her down, giving her plenty of time to say no, until she was standing right in front of Lili, who nervously held out her other hand. “Hello, Miss Lucy,” the house-elf greeted, “Lili is so very happy to meet you.”
Percy anxiously watched his youngest daughter, holding his breath, but Lucy cautiously returned the gesture with her charcoal hand, their grasp on each other gently and kind. It was a very beautiful thing, and Percy was so close to bursting into tears. “See that, Lucy?” he asked softly, and Lucy nodded, smiling a little now.
“I'm Lucy,” she told Lili, “and that's my sister Molly.”
It was a little hard to write that second to last scene. I just felt like I couldn't get the three of them right, but as I thought about it, it's because they grew up. Funny how that feels. :')
This ended up being angsty and fluffier than expected. Also, a special thank you to my number one reader, you're really great and it's so nice to know that someone is always looking forward to an update. ^^
ALSO, >50k word mark, y'aaaaaaallllllllllll. Never expected this to be my longest work, but it's there now.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
As usual, the monthly Burrow dinner was loud and large, everyone attending, come hell or high water, and tonight, it was especially lively. Maybe Fleur's glow was affecting everyone, but Bill was excited for tonight. He couldn't wait tell Mum and Da.
After the big dinner, most people went into the garden, taking in the refreshing evening air, as the children went outside to play as usual, but Bill and Fleur stayed behind, helping out with the dishes as Da was bringing out some firewhiskey for the adults. Everyone took turns helping out, making dinner and putting it away and everything in between, but the odd thing about tonight was that there was a lot more people volunteering to stay behind to help than usual.
“Mum, Da, Fleur and I have some news,” Bill said, wrapping an arm around his wife.
“Us too!” Ginny added, tugging Harry with her.
“It seems pretty crowded in the house tonight,” Ron said ironically, holding Hermione's hand.
Molly raised her eyebrow curiously, smiling because no one seemed to be in a bit of trouble. She looked at all of them carefully, catching their eyes, and it struck her because this was not the first time. “Arthur!” she shouted, throwing her hands up in the air. “Grandbabies!”
“Mum, you're running the surprise!” Ron said with a huff, but he was smiling.
Arthur came back into the kitchen, mouth agape. “Grandbabies?” he repeated, looking at his children and children-in-law. “Grandbabies. Grandbabies. Grandbabies!”
“Grandbabies!” Molly shouted once again, coming up to her daughters. “Wonderful, just wonderful!” She pulled Fleur to her first, pressing kisses on the witch's cheek in gratitude, and just as lovingly, she did the same to Ginny and Hermione, tears coming down her cheeks.
“Wait, you four too?” Bill asked, apparently not having been invited to the party. It seemed that the other two couples already knew.
“Mhmm,” Ginny hummed, Bill now recognizing that she had the same glow as Fleur. And Hermione, she was looking absolutely beautiful as well.
“If it's alright with you lot,” Molly said slowly, looking out the door.
The three couples laughed, all nodding their heads because there was no one better to give out the news, and to this, the Weasley matriarch let out a gleeful shout, heading outside as she shouted, “Grandbabies! More grandbabies! Three of them!”
She quickly gestured for the women to come out with her, and Fleur, Ginny, and Hermione obliged, smiling like a train of magical fairies.
“Molly, Lucy, loves, I'm going to go for a bit,” Percy said, dressed to go to Diagon Alley. “Lili, please look after the house and the girls.”
He was grateful that Lili had brought him properly robes in such short notice and brought a sack of Galleons from her vault. His vault, he could say, because she was giving it all to him, but Percy didn't have the heart to accept it so quickly, hesitant to be taking so much from someone who had done too much already.
“Of course, Mister Percy,” Lili replied happily, placing breakfast on the table. She was already washing the dishes.
“Where you going, Daddy?” Lucy asked, looking at his clothes curiously. “I want to go!”
“Me too!” Molly said, looking upset.
They'd been together pretty much ever since they moved into Baldur's Valley, they hadn’t an idea of this house without him. Bill had been bringing food and essentials on a weekly basis.
“I'm sorry, loves,” Percy replied with a small smile. “I'm going to go shopping for some studying materials for you two, but I can't take you out just yet.”
“Why's that, Daddy?” Molly asked, looking near to tears. “You're going by yourself?”
Percy sat down at the table, taking his oldest by the hand. “I can't take you because I'm afraid I'll lose you. The Wizarding world is different from London, Molly, and when they see you, they'll know who you are, who I am. I want to make sure you're ready for magic first, and to do that, I need to buy studying materials so we can both learn how to do magic better.”
“We'll hold onto your hands,” Lucy argued, crossing her blackened arms. “We won't lose you.”
“I know you will, Lucy, but I'd rather not risk it, not yet. Just a little longer, okay?”
Lucy didn't reply, frowning at the plate of food before her, while Molly started tearing up.
“Oh, Miss Molly,” Lili said tenderly, getting on the table to wipe the girl's tears, “don’t cry. Mister Percy won't be gone for long. Mister Percy will be back, and he will miss you every minute he's gone. Would Miss Molly like to make cookies with Lili while we wait for Mister Percy to come back?”
Molly didn't reply, but she nodded.
“And Miss Lucy?” Lili asked, smiling kindly at the youngest.
Unlike Molly, Lucy shook her head, sulking. “I wanna go with Daddy!” she shouted with frustration.
“No, Lucy,” Percy said firmly. He held back a sigh, knowing that his daughter was going to throw a tantrum.
“I hate you, Daddy!” Lucy shouted loudly, getting out of her chair and running out of the dining room. Her breakfast was untouched.
Percy felt like hitting himself on the head. He was sure his youngest didn't mean it, but it hurt to hear that, especially when she was angry. It reminded him of himself all those years ago, before he was taken . . .
“I need to get going if I'm to get back quickly,” he told Lili and Molly. Percy pressed a kiss against a still silent Molly. “Thank you for breakfast, Lili. I'll make sure Lucy eats after I come back.”
“You're welcome, Mister Percy,” Lili replied. She patted Percy on the shoulder in comfort. “Lili will watch the house for you.”
Percy nodded gratefully. “I’ll be back soon, Molly,” he said, heading out to the door. “I love you.”
It hurt just as much when Molly didn't say anything in return, but Percy supposed he did upset his daughters a lot. However, he had to firm this time around. It was too dangerous for Molly and Lucy to be walking out in Diagon Alley. People will spot them, and Percy would be found out. He was too afraid of that to let that happen. He wasn't ready yet, but he had to keep going, one step at a time.
With a incantation, Percy changed the length of his hair to something much longer (past his shoulders) and its color (black). He kept his mother's blue but thinned his lips and flattened his nose. If anyone asked, he was Terry Markson.
“Apparate,” Percy said, thinking of the sign of Flourish & Blotts the best he could, and the world twisted with a crack.
Diagon Alley, on a Thursday morning, was quiet, several wizards and witches coming in and out of the stores. There was enough people to make a crowd but not dense enough to need to watch where you were going. Flourish & Blotts had not changed much, to Percy's surprise, as its large windows revealed insides the many, many books in stock. He had missed this shop, entering with a bit of excitement.
Percy perused the children's section first, picking up some new things to read to his daughters. He thought that they could get used to moving pictures first with illustration books. He picked one for Molly and the other for Lucy. Then he went over the Muggle section, which was new but overall interesting and helpful. They had books on arithmetics, language, and English Muggle culture amongst other things. It was a small selection, but Percy ended up getting basic maths, elementary French, and a book of Muggle fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm.
Looking for something for himself, the selected books waiting for purchase at the register, Percy went through the rest of the store, looking over the titles for something to catch his eye. It was Magic for the Advanced and Dedicated. The section had a lot of interesting titles, but the ones that Percy picked up immediately was Wandless Magic: The Perils and Practices and The Choosing and Making of Wands.
Percy's own wand was kept in his pocket as always, but he had not gone around to using it as much as a regular wizard anymore. He had practiced enough with magic to use it verbally first, but he needed to know more, improving so that maybe he'd never need to use his wand again.
Another book caught his interest, Magical Engineering. He didn't give much thought to it, but he picked that one too.
At the register, the totally rang up to nineteen Galleons, which made Percy winced at how much he was spending. He paid.
“Would you like these to be delivered?” the employee asked, binding the books together in stacks.
“No, thank you,” Percy replied, putting the stacks on top of each other. “Exonero,” he casted with a tap of his hand, and easily, he lifted all the books without any trouble.
“That's extraordinary,” the employee stated, “I've never seen anyone do that kind of spell wandless before.”
“It's not too difficult. Just need a little practice.”
“I wager you can say that, but my brother's been trying to years, barely able to use the levitating spell. Well, thank you for shopping at Flourish & Blotts, please come again.”
Percy left with a nod, diving into an alleyway. Taking out a bag from the inside pocket of his robe, he placed the books carefully into it, the inside a lot bigger than it seemed on the outside. It was not permissible magic without the Ministry's knowledge, but Percy didn't really want to carry all books in his arms while he was out, much less have them delivered to a Fidelius charmed house.
The man walked through Diagon Alley, taking back in the world he grew up with, the world he had missed and dreaded. He wanted to come back to all this, and he wanted to run and never come back.
Some of the shops were the same, and others were new. Percy was tempted to step into each and every one of them, but he needed to get home as soon as possible. He left his daughters upset. He should bring back a present to cheer them up, maybe they'll forgive him.
When he saw a familiar name on a golden board, he had an idea of where to get them.
“Welcome to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes!” the joyous voice of his brother called out. It was George, waving his hat with a raised arm. The shop was empty so early in the morning, and Percy smiled.
“Good morning, George,” Percy greeted, and George nearly tripped, recognizing his voice. The older brother laughed.
“Percy?” George whispered, stepping closer. His expression was filled with confusion, perhaps by Percy's appearance. “Ho— Not the best looking fellow you can be, are ya?”
Percy rolled his eyes. “Where's Fred?” he asked.
“Upstairs taking care of Roxy and Freddy. We take turn taking care of the store and kids when Angelia is off to work at the Prophet. Raising children requires a lot of attention, even with three parents. So what are you here for, Percy? You just want to see how your brothers are doing? Smashing, if you want the short answer.”
Percy laughed. “Just looking for a little something,” he replied, looking regretful. “I left the girls a bit upset this morning. I thought I could make it up to them.”
George perked up. “How about me? I can come by tonight, if that’s alright with you? It’s only been a week since we found out you’re alive, but I still think you’re going to disappear on me again. You won’t right?”
“No, George, I’m here to stay. Please come over tonight, the girls would be happy to see you.”
The younger twin smiled, pulling his brother in for a quick hug. “I’ll be there. Promise I’ll cheer up those little tykes.”
The bell at the door rang, signalling the arrival of another customers, and they parted. “I’ll be going now. Bye, George.”
Percy waved at his brother as he exited the shop, taking a second to linger before he Apparated back to Baldur’s Valley.
“My loves, I’m home,” he called out, not expecting much of a reply, but Lili was there, tilting her head to welcome him back.
“The misses are in their room, Mister Percy,” the house-elf told him. “Lili will be back tomorrow morning. Will Mister Percy be alright with making supper?”
The father of two nodded. “Yes, thank you, Lili. Have a good time.”
Lili smiled, disappearing with a curtsy, and Percy headed off to his daughters’ room, taking him bag of books with him. He knocked on their door, pausing a moment before opening it, and he said softly, “Lucy, Molly, I brought you something. Would you like it?”
He spotted Molly sulking on her bed while Lucy was burrowed underneath her blankets, both clearly still not happy. Percy sighed, thinking that perhaps it was better to leave them alone for a bit longer, but he took the time to pull out the books he picked out for them.
“This is for you, Molly,” he said, kneeling at his eldest’s bedside and presenting her the book, Mary McKenzie and the Golden Fly. “It’s about a little girl who loves adventuring, and one day, she hears about the Golden Fly, a magical creature that buzzes the most enchanting sounds. She goes off to look for it because her mother loves music of all kind. She’s a darling, just like someone I know very well.”
Molly looked at the book, caught by the glittering gold of the illustrated Golden Fly, and she smiled, taking the book. “It’s so pretty,” she said, hugging the book, but her eyes were still a bit glum. “Thank you, Daddy,” she said politely. She paused, grasping her father by the sleeve. “Daddy, I’ll study magic really hard so you don’t have to worry anymore. You don't have to be scared."
Percy's heart broke, that was not what he wanted his daughters to think. Ever. "Molly," he said softly, pulling her for a hug because right now, he didn't know what to say. He was at a lost for words, ridden with guilt, and he couldn't think to pull away from her, not when she said something so selfless to someone as pathetic as him.
There was a tug at his shoulder, little Lucy having left her hiding spot and demanding attention. "Where's my book, Daddy?" she asked, eyes red. She must have been crying since he left.
Percy let out a wet chuckle, understanding, and he pulled out A Child's Guide to Magical Creatures, holding it out for his youngest. "I know you love dragons, Lucy," he told her, "so I know you'll love mermaids, unicorns, and everything in between."
Lucy took the book, and she looked at it, tracing the moving dragon picture with her finger. Then she leaped at her father, her grip on the book never lost. "I don't hate you, Daddy," she confessed, crying again, and Molly jumped off her bed onto Percy.
And Percy, he was speechless once again. So he held his daughters close and held them dearly.
“Angelia, love, I'll be out late tonight,” George said after they'd close up shop for today, Fred counting the money this time. He leaned to kiss his wife on the cheek before pressing one against her lips. “Would you tell Fred for me and kiss the children goodnight?”
“Where are you going?” Angelia asked, raising an eyebrow. Usually, neither of them went off somewhere without one or the other, or the children. Angelia was the exception mostly because she worked out as a Magic Sport Coordinator for the Ministry.
“To see an old friend of mine,” he said, though it wasn't the whole truth. “Promise it won't be anything dangerous. Fred would never forgive me for not inviting him with.”
“And if either of you go, you'll both be sleeping on the floor, George Weasley.”
“That's very cruel, Angelia, but you make a good point. No more dangerous things for me, no, ma'am. Confine me to the bed, darling, I'll never leave it now.”
Angelia laughed, pushing George's hair behind his only ear. “Then the children will never get up, they'll join you. Well, don't stay out too late. We bought a large bed for a reason.”
“Yes, darling, I'll sneak in, won't wake you two up. You and Fred should go out to eat tonight, have a date. Mum and Da will watch Roxxy and Freddy.”
“That’s not a bad idea, George. Now go, before any of them spot you and guilt you into staying home tonight. I love you, dear.”
“And I love you. I'll be back.”
They shared one more kiss before George whipped his wand, Apparating with crack. With a breath, he was standing at the quiet clearing of Baldur's Valley, the windows of the small house bright with light.
Nervous, George walked up the door and knocked, waiting patiently, and the door swung open almost immediately. Percy smiled, small but happy to see George. Then he made space at the doorway. “I'm teaching Molly and Lucy how to spell. They should've started kindergarten.”
George smiled, nodding. “I'd love to, Percy.”
George entered the house, and Percy closed the door behind them. They walked silently into the living room where Molly and Lucy were on the floor with paper—not parchment—and crayons. Some of the paper had doodles and misspelled words, but they were all very lovely.
One of them looked up, hearing their footsteps, and she gasped excitedly. “Uncle George!” she exclaimed, kicking her feet back and forth in the air excitedly. She was holding a blue crayon in her hand.
“Uncle George?” the only other asked, looking up too. She smiled and waved from the floor, an orange crayon in her blacken hand. “Hi, Uncle George!”
“Evening, sweeties,” George greeting, taking a seat right beside them without any prompt. “What have you got there?”
“I'm drawing Uncle Charlie!” Lucy explained, showing George her drawing. It was a stick figure with short orange hair, another with smaller with longer hair, and a big red dragon. This looked like the kind of thing Charlie loved. She pointed at the dragon. “And that's Esh-ban! He's my friend, Uncle George.”
Lucy was sure imaginative, George thought. She would probably follow in Charlie's footsteps, no doubt. “You're very talented, Lucy,” he complemented, and he did not lie about serious matter like a child's drawing. “What about you, Molly?”
“I'm drawing Uncle Bill,” Molly answered. “Daddy said he'll send our drawings to them when we're done. Daddy's gonna help me write the names.”
“I'll help too,” George said, getting onto his stomach like the girls. “How about I write down our names and you two try to copy them down? It's a start to be able to recognize the names first.”
George smiled, reaching over for a purple crayon. “Here's how you spell 'Uncle Bill’.” He carefully wrote it out on one of the papers Percy wrote on. “And this is how you spell 'Uncle Charlie’.” He carefully wrote that out too. “Have you got it?”
The girls looked at the spellings intensely, Lucy narrowing her eyes in thought. Molly, on the other hand, mimicked George's movement, though less controlled because she was only five years old.
“This says 'uncle,’” Lucy said, copying that word down correctly. She was a smart girl. “Uncle B-I-L-L. Uncle C-H-A— Molly, what's that letter?”
“R,” Molly answered helpfully. “C-H-A-R-L-I-E. Charlie.”
“That's very good, the both of you,” George told them. “You’re quick learners.”
Lucy pouted, placing her hands on her cheek dramatically. “That's because Daddy makes us practice every night. It's so much work, Uncle George!”
George laughed because she sounded a bit like Ron when they were in Hogwarts. “Your father does it for you own good, Lucy.”
“I'm glad you're on my side on this matter,” Percy spoke up, handing George a fresh cuppa. “See, Lucy, didn't I say it's important to practice? One day, you'll be able to send Uncle Charlie a letter all by yourself.”
Lucy pouted but didn't say another word of protest as she copied down Charlie's name in big orange letters, drawing an arrow to point to his portrayal. Then she wrote her own name, pointing to her own. She was stuck at this point, looking up to her father. “Daddy, how do you spell Esh-ban?” she asked.
“Let’s see,” Percy said, sitting down and leaning above his daughter, and he placed his right hand over hers, writing out carefully in an unmarked spot with elegant script, Esh-ban . He even helped her draw the arrow to the dragon. “There you go, it's a good thing Charlie wrote me that letter, else I wouldn't know how to spell it properly. Would you like to send that to Charlie, Lucy?”
“Yes!” Lucy shouted, excitedly as she grabbed at the yellow crayon and drew a big, smiling sun in the corner. She was absolutely adorable, George thought. “Is Uncle Charlie going to love it, Daddy?”
“I’d say he'd go mad over it, love.”
Lucy laughed, flushing bright pink with pride. She looked over at her sister's drawing, opening her mouth, impressed. “Molly, that's so pretty!”
George been watching Molly draw around a figure of Bill, scar, long hair and beard all, a lot of flowers and three different seashells. Bill had a really big smile, his name written neatly right above his head.
“That's Aunt Fleur,” Molly explained, pointing at the flowers. “She's pretty, and so are our cousins, Victorie, Dominique, and the baby.” She pointed at the biggest seashell colored yellow, then brown one, and then a small blue one. “The baby's going to be special because he's a boy.”
“Just because he's a boy?” Lucy asked, curious. “That's not fair.”
“Well, Fleur is part Veela,” George said, interested in hearing speculations about the baby's gender, “and male Veela descendants are quite rare. The baby's going to be a boy, Molly? How do you know that?”
Molly shrugged. “I'm done!” she exclaimed, marking her work, mwii. Then she put it aside and grabbed another piece of paper. “I'm gonna draw you one too, Uncle George.”
“Why thank you, what are you going to draw?”
“I'm gonna draw you and Uncle Fred and Daddy! But let's trade, Uncle George.”
“Hmm, what would you like, Molly?”
“A picture!” Molly said, smiling. “We don't have many pictures, and the walls are so boring, Uncle George.”
Lucy awed, obviously liking that idea. “Me too! Me too! I want a picture, Uncle George!” she joined in. “I'll draw you Esh-ban too. I promise I'll introduce you to him.”
George smiled, and he nodded enthusiastically. “That sounds like a grand idea, Molly, Lucy,” he replied, reaching for his own piece of paper. “I'd love to.”
Molly and Lucy shook excitedly, kicking their feet up on the air as they started to drawing yet another picture. George saw from the corner of his eyes Percy's quiet smile, his older brother looking so content of his daughters’ happiness.
George ended up drawing three pictures, using single different colors, and he was pretty proud of them. Over the years, one of the hobbies he'd taken up was drawing, sketching what he could see with his eyes. George thought he had gotten quite good, taking from both memory and observation of both his nieces and his brother.
Molly's sketch was in purple, which seemed to be her most used colors in her drawings, and George took in details of her facial expression as he did with Lucy's orange sketch. Molly had longer hair, a bit wavy towards the end, and Lucy had a fuller lip, her front teeth a bit large for her mouth like Hermione's when they were younger. He titled Molly's sketch My dearest Molly and Lucy's My Sweetest Lucy.
For Percy, George used red, the closest that there was to Gryffindor red these crayons could get, and he sketched down the details of his older brother, the crinkles around his eyes, the creases at his brow, the horned rimmed glasses that their father still wore, his thin ginger hair, and the satisfaction of just watching. On it, George wrote My brother Percy on top, and on the bottom, he added Home.
“Is that me, Uncle George?” Molly asked, looking over. “It looks so real! Daddy, look! It's you too!”
Percy looked over, and his blue eyes caught the images of himself and his daughters. “They're beautiful, George,” he said with a smile, one that a younger, more stuck-up Percy would've never shown if he could help it. “Thank you.”
“Yeah,” George replied softly, giving the drawings to the girls to see, “anything for you, you git. You don't have to draw me something in return, just don't leave again?” The last sentence came out as a question because George was not sure if it was his place to ask it.
Eight years was a long time to think about the past, and he couldn't say he'd been the best brother to Percy. He and Fred had always teased Percy, and Ron and Ginny would join it. Bill and Charlie, they'd just ignore it, laughing a little too. George had made it hard for Percy to stay home then, and he was afraid he'd do it again without knowing.
But Percy nodded, accepting the terms of George's drawing. The younger man smiled, got up, and pulled his brother in for a wordless embrace, pressing a kiss against Percy's cheek. He couldn't believe this was the first time he'd done that.
Percy let out a chuckle, returning the sentiment. It felt like they were children again.
“Daddy, we have to put them up!” Molly said, pulling at her father's robes and pointing to the drawings in Lucy's outreached hands.
“Yes, loves,” Percy said, pulling away to attend his daughters. “Where's the place we should put them?”
“That's a lovely wall right there,” George pointed to the wall opposite of the entrance. On the wall to the right of the entrance was the fireplace, two windows facing it. “There's plenty of place to add more pictures.”
“Good idea.” Percy took the drawings from Lucy and placed them against the center of the wall, his daughters side by side above him, at height where anyone could spot it immediately stepping into the living room. “Is this good, loves?” he asked.
“Mhmm!” Lucy made as Molly nodded.
Percy smiled, and with his hands pressing the drawings against the wall, he spoke, “Decus.” The wood around the draws began to come alive, twisting and rising up against the flat of the wall, and it encased the three pictures in twisted frames, looking like the branches of a tree. Each frame kept the drawings still, going dormant.
“Uncle George,” Molly said, holding up a picture to the younger man. “This is for you.”
“This one too!” Lucy added, holding up her own picture.
George excitedly took them, and his heart soared at the sight of them. Molly's picture was of him and Fred, all four eyes, four hands and legs, and three ears, and between them, Molly drew herself and Lucy, a set of twins within a set of twins. She wrote out their names neatly, colorful sparks surrounding them like fireworks. Her initials were at the corner like a professional. Lucy's picture had the red dragon as she said she would, and George was also in this one, he and Lucy riding in the dragon where there was a lot of clouds.
“Talented little tykes, aren't you?” George asked, almost in tears. He couldn't help feeling so relieved, receiving gifts like these from nieces he knew never had, may have never known he had if Percy had died all those years ago.
Guys, Missus Molly is going to freak when she finds out that she has two more grandchildren; after she finds out that Percy is alive, of course. I'm excited for that, omgs. Wait, does this count as spoilers?
Note: Decus is one an of Percy's original spell, meaning "ornament." It's a transfiguration spell that turns any object into a decoration. In this case, Percy used it turn the wood of the wall to make frames for the drawings. It's a low-level spell that does require some practice as you need to be able to imagine what the spell will do. This is part of the fifth year curriculum.