Author: Jade Hunter
Disclaimer: None of the characters and properties of Harry Potter belong to me.
He doesn't know when it all changed.
Sure, when he was young, he was more behaved than Fred and George, quieter, more obedient, less prone to jokes. Certainly, he had never turned any of their toys into bugs, or teased them about crushes they might have had. But he had still been fun.
He remembers entertaining Ginny by levitating her toys around, the summer after his first year. He remembers the Wingardium Leviosa, the giggles, tiny girlish hands clapping, and a feeling of contentment that stemmed from having made his little sister happy.
Where had that gone?
Before that, he remembers playing with Ron. Baby-sitting, more like, because of the age difference, but Ron had liked him because he didn't play tricks like Fred and George. Ron had always come to him, because by that time Bill and Charlie had gone, and he was the oldest brother in the house. Ron, Ginny, and even Fred and George came to him in times of need that wasn't bad enough for mum or dad.
When had that stopped?
He remembers Fred and George, and making the Quidditch team, like Charlie had, and being proud. He remembers Ron being sorted into Gryffindor, like all the Weasleys brothers that had come before, and being proud. He remembers becoming a prefect, like Bill had been, and the only ones who had been proud were his parents.
When had the trust turn into annoyance? When had he turned from the big brother and trusted confidant to the bossy prefect and the "Bighead" boy? Why?
He's sure that he can remember a time when he was part of the Weasley family. When he could sit at the dining table with them and not bicker with his siblings, or be made fun of for his work ethics. When things were so much simpler, made more sense.
Now, he looks into the mirror and sees the familiar Weasley red hair and the eyes, the build, and everything else. He looks inside himself and sees a stranger, wearing a Weasley costume. Now, everything is more complicated.
Sometimes, he wishes he were young again, to be carefree, where rules were the only things he needed to worry about, not beliefs and rights and jobs.
He regrets it all now – the words, the sweater, the letter he sent to Ron. But, of course he does. He was wrong, he knows it, and everyone else knows, too.
He wonders if it'll be worth the loss of pride, the embarrassment, admitting he was wrong. But then he remembers the sweater, still faithfully sent, the pleading letters from Bill and Charlie, saying that mum was a mess and dad was unlike his old self. He thinks it would be worth it, if only for them, but what he really fears isn't the humiliation. He could bear that; no one is ever perfect, not even authority figures and he accepts that now.
What really bothers him is that he's clueless about what their response will be.
Not mum and dad, because mum would forgive him, and take him back without question, and so would dad, despite what they both said and how angry he was, because they were mum and dad.
But he doesn't know about the others.
Not Bill and Charlie, because they will be the older brothers they are and pat him on the back, grin, and say he made a mistake, congratulations, he is human.
The others. His younger siblings, because he was supposed to be their role model, and look at what a mess he's made of his life. He has made the wrong choices, did the wrongs things for the wrong person, and what kind of person is that to look up to?
He considers snapping his wand in two and jumping into the nearest dragon pen.
Oh Merlin, he was an abysmal failure.
He had wanted to prove himself to everyone that he could do well, prove to himself that he was more than the bossy brother, unwanted by his own siblings. But all he had done was prove that he was a complete and gullible git, blinded by high titles, power, and his own selfishness.
He was failure as a son, a failure as a brother, a failure as an adult, and a failure as a student.
He can't believe he had the gall to turn on Dumbledore the way he did. During his days at Hogwarts, he remembers that he respected and trusted the Headmaster to a degree that he only associated with his family. And coming out of Hogwarts, taking the job at the Ministry, he had somehow destroyed both the ties to Dumbledore and his family.
No, a dragon pen is too good of a death for him.
Maybe he could eat an Exploding Snap or three – dozen, that is. Make fun of a Hippogriff? Somehow accidentally run into a starving Lethifold?
With the extra-large amount of disgrace on his shoulders, he knows that there is only one way he can go.
He heads over to the appropriate section of the Ministry, anxious butterflies in his stomach, but he is being ridiculous. Now that Voldemort's return has been confirmed, they need everyone they can get, and he had always been high ranked in all his classes. Besides, being the Minister's glorified secretary wasn't that big of a deal, now that his eyes were opened.
He clears his throat nervously.
"Can I help you, Mr. Weasley?"
He tries to make his voice as steady as he can, and ruthlessly quells the fear. He doesn't know if he will make things right with his family, he doesn't know if they will even find out about this as he is legally of age, and he doesn't know if they will care, but he does know that he must do this.
Maybe, even after it all, he won't make that big of a difference, but the point is that he tries. This time, he will try, because he is the one who helped make this so bad in the first place. Perhaps he is not squarely responsible, but he must shoulder some of the blame for going along with it and advocating the foolish actions of the Minister for so long.
For those he should have trusted, for those who he had hurt.
"I'd like to sign up for Auror training."