Id like to thank hazpotsfan for betareading it for me. Without her help it would be very hard for you to read it, because my English is rather grammatically horrible;)
Much like the previous week, the sweltering heat wave gave no reprieve to the inhabitants of Ottery St Catchpole. Adults were endeavouring to avoid the sun, not daring to go outside unless absolutely necessary, while children were playing in the shade by the river. A red-haired, eleven-year-old boy was running along a path through the forest, constantly jumping and trying to grasp the swaying branches as he went. He had promised his mother that he would be back before dinner and was anxious not to be late, for fear that she would forbid him from going back again. Despite his multitude of siblings, most of them were too young for him to play with, leaving Charlie to feel a little lonely at times.
After all, Charlie wasnt a child anymore.
Invariably, Bill was his best friend. They shared a room, practised Quidditch together, and helped their Mum with their younger siblings when she needed it. But since Bill had left the Burrow, Charlie couldnt wait for his turn to join his brother at Hogwarts he didnt know if he would ever be able to get used to not having Bill around to talk to and play with anymore. At home, his parents were constantly busy, and his siblings too young to understand him. Playing in the nearby village was a time to get away from the monotony that had become his life since Bill had left. Unfortunately, Charlies Mum wasnt too keen on letting him go there as much as he would have liked to, preferring instead to have him nearby where she could keep an eye on her whole brood at once: it was rare that he would be able to talk her into letting him visit his muggle friends.
While running he tripped over a tree root that had been jutting out, and fell face first onto the ground. For a moment he lay there, still, as tears welled up in his eyes.
But he wasnt child any more. He wouldnt cry.
Slowly he sat up, chewing his bottom lip. He stared at his dirty hands and knees that were starting to bleed.
He couldnt cry.
He looked up and his eyes widened in surprise. Just under a tree, no further than ten feet away from him, was a little Kneazle curled up into a ball. The animal was filthy, his fur matted and spotted with dry blood. Forgetting his own pain, Charlie approached the animal and slowly put his hand out.
“Dont be scared,” he whispered. The creature meowed, as though in response.
“Come here, Ill help you,” Charlie tried once more.
When the Kneazle made no move to come towards him, Charlie thought back to what he had read about these particular creatures. Being fairly certain that he could approach it without fear, he hesitantly made his way towards it, taking it in his arms and once again set off for home.
“Mum! Mum, look!” Charlie shouted, hurriedly entering the kitchen.
“Charlie, where have you been? Take Ginny and help her to change please, dinner will be on the table in half an hour” Molly ordered in irritation, trying to be heard over the sound of Rons weeping, who was perched on her hip and clutching her neck. Molly was holding him with one hand, while waving her wand to prepare dinner with the other.
“But Mum, look! We have to help it!” insisted Charlie, moving closer to show her.
“Charlie, can you not see that Im busy right now? Your father will be home any moment, and I havent got a single dish ready yet!” she replied, pausing for a moment to look him up and down. “Dear Merlin, just look at yourself! Youre absolutely filthy! Go upstairs and clean yourself up! And get that cat out of my kitchen!”
“But Mummy…” Charlie whined.
“Charlie, please do as I say.”
“But…” Charlie tried again, reluctant to leave the poor animal in pain.
“Charles Septimus Weasley, I told you to do something! You would do well to do as I say, young man!”
Charlie opened his mouth to protest again, before catching sight of the wooden spoon lying on the table, wisely choosing to back down. Having lived through eleven years of his mothers rules, he knew just how much he could push her.
He took a saucer from the table and went upstairs to the bathroom. He put the Kneazle on the floor and turned on the tap. As soon as he started to use soap to clean his hands and knees, his wounds started to burn, but he merely scrunched his face up, and carried on cleaning himself.
Charlie wasnt a child any more. He wouldnt ask for help just because of a few measly scrapes.
He washed his face, and then proceeded to fill the saucer with water. He put the kneazle on the floor in his room, placing the saucer down next to it. He then took the sheets off the bed and laid them on the floor for the Kneazle to sleep on.
“Stay here, Ill be back in a moment,” the boy crooned at the animal and bending to stroke it before leaving the room to go and get Ginny. He was just walking down the hall, when he heard small sobs coming from inside the twins room. He stopped and approached the door to listen, but couldnt hear anything other than crying. Bothered by the sounds of distress, Charlie opened the door and stepped into the room. George was sitting on the bed, leaning against the wall and stroking Freds hair while he cried. Looking at Fred, Charlie thought he looked almost as pitiful as the little Kneazle.
“Whats up, Freddie? What happened?” Charlie asked in the soft voice that he had used with the Kneazle just moments before. He approached the bed and took a crying Fred in his arms.
“Mummy spanked him… with a spoon” George said with a serious look on his face.
Charlie made a face at the memory of the big wooden spoon, sympathising with his little brother and knowing that he would have problems sitting down over the next couple of days. With Fred clinging and sobbing into his neck as though his life depended on it, Charlie sat down with parted legs, so that Freds bottom wouldnt come into contact with anything.
When Molly had pregnant with Ron, she hadnt feel well, so the two eldest had taken over the responsibility of looking after their younger siblings. With Percy it was easy enough, as he used to entertain himself whenever puzzles and books were put in front of him. The twins, however, were a completely different story. Having just recently learned to walk, they loved running around everywhere and demanding everyones attention. A little while after Ron was born, Molly was pregnant again, and although she had been feeling better, the majority of her time was spent looking after a baby Ron. Over the next year, little changed, aside from the fact that Bill left for Hogwarts, and their father had been spending more and more time at work, struggling to make ends meet.
Of course, Charlie wasnt child any more.
He understood that his parents didnt have the time to give each and every one of their children individual attention. With so many young ones running around and causing havoc, he tried not to bother his parents too much. However, he had noticed that Percy, Freddie and Georgie tended to get jealous at the amount of attention that Ron and Ginny got from their mother. Percy dealt with this by keeping to himself; whereas the twins did everything they could to get her attention, which only served to annoy their already stressed out mother. Charlie, being the eldest child left at home, felt that it was his duty to give his siblings the attention they so craved.
“What did you do, Shorty?” Charlie asked, using his nickname for his brother in an attempt to get a laugh out of him.
“N…nothing” Fred stammered, crying even harder, forcing Charlie to look at George for an explanation.
“He didnt do anything, Charlie! Ron took his broomstick and broke it, so Freddie got angry and told Ron that he hated him! Ron started crying, so Mummy came and yelled at Freddie, saying that he was making a big fuss over nothing and that she didnt have the energy to deal with it.” George paused briefly to catch his breath, before continuing. “Then Ron took his teddy bear and Freddie started crying, because Ron was being so horrible to him! So then the teddy bear turned into a spider and Ron started screaming,” George rambled, starting to cry, himself. ”And she thought that it was F…Fred, and wouldnt listen to me, when I told her it was me! She even s-said that were the most impossible kids e-ever!”
Charlie hugged both of them to him. It wasnt the first time hed had to cheer up the crying twins, after all. “Youre not impossible! You are my beloved pixies,” he said stubbornly.
In that moment, he was so angry with his mother. Usually if she punished one of the trouble-making twins, it was more or less well deserved, but this was completely unreasonable! The twins had wanted those baby broomsticks for as long as he could remember, and had finally received them as birthday presents last year. The first week after receiving them, they had even slept with them! Besides, Molly had never punished them for accidental magic before, always saying that it was a moment to be cherished.
“Mum doesnt want us, Charlie” Fred said sadly, snuggling up to his brother.
“What are you talking about? Mum loves you very much, and wouldnt give you away for anything!”
“No” George disagreed. “She only plays with Ron and Ginny, and all she ever does is yell at us.”
Charlie wasnt a child anymore. He understood why his Mum found it so difficult to devote time to the twins.
From experience he knew that it isnt easy to look after two toddlers. When he had looked after Fred and George, hed had Bill with him, so he knew that his mother had it much harder. However, as much as he knew this, sometimes even he started to feel a little neglected.
“Mum doesnt play with me either. Do you know why?” Charlie tried.
“Because youre too old for playing?” asked George.
“Yes. And she didnt play with Percy either.”
“But Percy doesnt like playing” said Fred.
“Yes, but its also because she believes that he is too old for her to play with him. Just like you guys! Youre big boys now, you can take care of yourselves, cant you?
“Charlie” George interrupted him seriously. “ Were only middle-big, she should still play with us sometimes.”
“And Mummy is always so nice to Percy!” added Fred, scowling.
“Dont be silly Fred, she absolutely adores you both! She bought you those broomsticks you wanted, didnt she?”
“No,” Fred disagreed. “We only got them because of Daddy. Mummy didnt even want us to have them.
“Of course she wanted you to have them! Dont tell anyone this, but she told me she was really glad that they were able to get them for you. She just loves you very much, and was so scared that you would hurt yourselves! Think about all the times youve both been ill and shes sat at your bedside, looking after you! She just doesnt have as much time these days with so many of us around.” Charlie tried to explain, wishing for the hundredth time that day that Bill were there to help him.
“I have an idea,” Charlie said suddenly. “Ill show you what I found today.”
“What?” they asked curiously, looking up at Charlie, distracted by the sudden change in topic.
“Youll both like it, but you have to promise me something first. Firstly, you have to be well behaved at dinner and you have to eat everything on your plate without making a fuss.”
“Okay, okay, Charlie, just show us already!” they whined impatiently.
“Secondly” he continued, continuing as if they hadnt spoken. “You cant poke or hurt it in any way.”
“Oooh, its alive? What did you find?”
“Ill show you later. Do we have a deal?” Charlie asked in mock sternness.
“Yeah!” The twins replied, looking at each other with identical grins on their faces.
“Okay, lets go. Wash up and we can go down for dinner.”
Charlie stood and placed Fred on the bed. He bent down to Freds level and looked him in the eye before asking, “Are you sure youre alright, Freddo?”
When Fred nodded, Charlie ruffled his hair, before taking each twin by the hand and leaving the room.
After a trip to the bathroom, which resulted in all three of them having wet shirts, they went downstairs to the kitchen.
“Charlie you arent a child anymore, you should be helping me! Why is Ginny still filthy when you promised that youd help her get ready for dinner?” His Mother started yelling as soon as she saw them.
Molly lifted Ginny up, who was smearing a chocolate frog all over her face, in an attempt to eat it. “And look at the three of you,” she sighed looking at her boys in resignation, before pointing her wand at each of them and casting a drying spell.
“Right, you boys set the table. Freddie, honey, you can go and tell Percy that dinner is ready” she said looking over at one of the twins.
“I'm not Fred, Mum, I'm George,” said the boy, crossing his arms. “Honestly Mum, can you still not tell us apart?”
“Oh sorry Georgie, dear! Run along then!”
”Only joking, I am Fred!” he shouted, and ran upstairs.
When Molly left the kitchen with Ginny in her arms, Charlie looked over at Fred with concern and saw that he once again had tears in his eyes.
“Freddie…” Charlie started, only to be cut off by Fred.
“It doesnt matter, Charlie. Were almost identical, most people cant tell us apart anyway!” mumbled Fred, trying to sound indifferent, but it coming off as pitiful instead.
“Come on, lets set the table before Mum gets back,” Charlie sighed.
When Molly returned, Charlie had already sat Ron in his highchair and joined his brothers at the table. Molly served them dinner, before sitting down to feed Ginny. Ron was at the stage where he insisted on feeding himself, but most of the food was ending up on the table or on the floor rather than in his mouth. Molly was feeding Ginny and had a smile on her lips as she listened to Percy, who was telling her all about the adventures of Martin Miggs. On the other side of the table, Fred was fidgeting on his chair, trying to find the most comfortable position. The twins were listening to Charlie as told them about his day with the muggle children in the village. The moment the door opened and Arthur entered the house, the twins bolted from their seats.
“Daddy! Daddys home!” they shouted, jumping up to hug him before dragging him to the table.
An hour later, in Charlies room, the twins stared incredulously at the kneazle, which was sticking out its tongue and drinking the water from the saucer.
“What are you going to call it, Charlie?” Fred asked, continuing to watch the kneazle with wide eyes.
“What about Kneazle?” grinned George.
“Oh of course, Ill just call you Wizard then, shall I Georgie?” Charlie replied, rolling his eyes at his brother.
“What about Harry Potter?” Fred proposed.
“Nah, too long”
“Hey, what about Pixie?” George asked, jumping up from the bed in excitement.
All three of them looked at each other and grinned.
Charlie was sitting at the top of the stairs, waiting until Mr Weasley finish his everyday ritual of reading stories to his younger children and tucking them in. Charlie slipped in once he had left the twins.
“Hey,” he whispered, coming up to the bed and turning on the night light. “Are you sleeping, yet?”
”No” they responded simultaneously, looking up at him owlishly and blinking at the sudden light.
“Good, I brought you some salve for you bruises, Freddie” Charlie whispered, placing the salve in Freds outstretched hand. “Ill bring it back for you tomorrow” Charlie told him gently, watching as Fred applied it to his bruised bottom with a small moan.
“Wow, how did you get that Charlie? The cabinet is locked!” George asked in admiration.
Charlie took a hairpin from his pocket and held it up for the twins to see. “Most wizards think that muggle things are a waste of time, but Ive always known that they have skills worth learning! Ill teach you this one tomorrow if you like!”
“Charlie, youre the best brother in the whole world” Fred replied smiling up at him.
“Yeah, we love you!” George whispered, snuggling down under the covers.
“I love you too, my Pixies. Goodnight.”
“Night!” they both replied, closing their eyes.
Just as he was closing the door, he heard Fred call “Charlie, dont go to Hogwarts. Stay with us.”
“You know I have to. But I promise, Ill write to you whenever I get the chance!”
Twelve years later
“I don't believe it! I just don't believe it! Oh Ron, how wonderful, youre a prefect! That's everyone in the family, now!”
“What are Fred and I then, the next door neighbours?” George grumbled indignantly, as his mother brushed past him to fling her arms around her youngest son.
“Wait until your Father hears, hell be so proud of you! Oh, I'm so proud of you! Youre well on your way to becoming Head Boy, just like Bill and Percy! Oh, what a lovely thing to happen in the middle of all this drama, I'm just thrilled Ronnie ”
Fred and George were both laughing at their younger brother and making loud retching noises behind her back. Mrs Weasley, however, didnt notice, as she was too busy kissing Ron all over the face, which had turned a brighter red than his prefect badge.
(Harry Potter and Order of Pheonix)
What do you think? Do you like it? Reviews are most welcomed :D