The Weasley Family Meeting
George Weasley woke up on the first day of the summer holidays in a very good mood.
First of all, it was summer! This was always a cause for celebration. Second of all, for the first time ever, he was allowed to do magic outside of Hogwarts. George bounded out of his bed and jumped energetically on the bed next to it, whose occupant was snoring loudly.
"Fred! Wake up! It's summer!"
Fred Weasley blinked blearily and shielded his eyes from the blinding grin of his twin brother, who cheerfully used his wand to throw the curtains wide open.
"So?" Fred moaned and flung his arm over his eyes to block out the sunshine. "It's summer. That means we can sleep in."
The third reason George Weasley was in such a good mood that morning was that he was rich. He clambered off his brother's bed, crossed the room to the closet in a single bound, seized a heavy bag from under some old robes, walked back to Fred's bed, and dropped the bag onto the other boy's stomach, where it made a satisfying clinking sound.
"Oof! George! What was that?"
"Have you forgotten, dear brother, how generously fortune has favored us? How pleasantly we have been rewarded for befriending and assisting the great Harry Potter: Boy Who Lived, saviour of the wizarding world, younger mischief-making chap, and seriously evil Heir of Slytherin? I, of course, am due much of the glory for this reward since it was my idea to give said young hero and basilisk-slayer the amazing Marauder's Map. While you, good chap though you are, thought we should keep it for ourselves, and continue to lie in idleness under the spoils of fortune and good looks, even as the great Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes corporation awaits our genius to bring it forth from the dust and into full joke-shop-hood."
A pillow hit George in the face and he was assaulted by his brother's mocking laugh.
"Joke-shop-hood? What kind of word is that?"
The two seventeen-year-olds walloped each other for a few minutes before their mother's voice and their hunger made an end to their feud.
"Breakfast! Last chance for breakfast!"
(A/N: the following will largely draw on experiences from my own childhood in a family with seven children)
They raced down the rickety stairs of the Burrow to gobble the scrambled eggs, toast, and orange juice their mother placed before them. Fred and George were the last members of the family to arrive for breakfast, but also the first to finish, and were about to race back up the stairs to get a head start on their inventions and make many large explosions, when their father calmly announced:
"Family meeting. Everyone to the living room."
With these magical words, all the Weasley children rushed en masse to the living room in order to secure the good seats.
Family meetings had been instituted in their family when Charlie first started at Hogwarts, and by now they were a normal part of Weasley family life. When big events, family outings, and announcements had to be discussed, Mrs. Weasley would feel like she was going to explode unless she knew for certain that everyone knew the Family Plan. Like all overprotective mothers, she felt more in control of her life if she could talk to everyone in the family at once and make The Plan official. This was also the result of Charlie getting lost in King's Cross station and nearly missing his first trip on the Hogwarts express. Occasionally such meetings were needed for decision making or discipline purposes. Arthur also liked to recognize the achievements of his children and sometimes used family meetings as a sort of award ceremony. As the children grew up, family meetings had become less formal and more rare, but were still common enough that none of the kids questioned their parents when a meeting was called.
Arthur and Molly sat in their usual spot: the loveseat closest to the kitchen. Ron sprawled in the cushiest chair and Ginny curled up in her grandmother's old rocking chair, which left Fred, George, and Percy to fill up the old sagging sofa. When they were all settled, Arthur cleared his throat.
"Well, your mother and I have an announcement," he began.
"I have an announcement too, father," said Percy, sitting up very straight. Arthur looked at hims in surprise. Percy opened his mouth very wide and looked down his nose at his siblings. "I have just been made Junior Assistant to Minister Fudge."
Silence greeted this pronouncement. Arthur and Molly gave each other a doubtful look, as did the twins. Ron and Ginny also made faces at each other.
"Er, that's very nice, Per--," began Molly, but Arthur interrupted her, frowning.
"Why have you been promoted, Percy?"
His third son looked affronted. "Well, obviously the Minister thinks I'm capable of doing the job. He said he can tell that I have a promising future."
"After what happened with Crouch?" Fred whispered loudly to George. Percy glared at them.
Arthur looked angry. "I don't doubt that you're a good worker, Percy. You're smart and dedicated, and you should do well, but I wasn't expecting anything like this, not at your age. Recent events being as they are... I called this meeting because of the return of You-Know-Who. It's going to impact our family greatly.
Percy made a scoffing noise. "Do you really believe that, Dad? I mean, how can anyone believe that You-Know-Who has come back to life? Everyone knows he's dead."
Ron looked up indignantly and leaned forward in his chair. "Hmm, let me think," he said sarcastically. "Could it be because Harry saw him return? What more evidence do you want?"
"A lot more," said Percy stiffly. "You told us yourself that Harry Potter's been having all sorts of funny dreams and hallucinations."
"They're not hallucinations!" yelled Ron.
Ginny chimed in, "Dumbledore believes him."
"You're so thick, sometimes, Perce," said George.
Arthur raised his hand and looked sternly at his children. "Percy, your mother and I have spoken at length with Professor Dumbledore. We believe what he's told us, and we've promised him our help. Cornelius Fudge has seen enough evidence to know this too, but he's simply chosen to ignore it because he doesn't want to face the hard truth. He's even deluded himself into thinking that this is all a plot of Proffesor Dumbledore to take over the Ministry. Percy, it's evident to me that Fudge has offered you this job in order to get you to spy on us and work against Professor Dumbledore. I won't have it, Percy. You must refuse the position."
Percy stared at his father, then stood and flung out his arms furiously. "Dumbledore is an old fool!" Molly gasped. "And you're a fool for believing him. You're all deluded if you can't see that Harry Potter's just lying to get more attention."
Ron, Ginny, Fred, and George were all on their feet protesting wildly, Arthur stood stonily, and Molly was in tears, trembling from shock.
With a crack, Percy apparated away. They heard rumbling noises in his room, then his trunk thudded down the stairs. The family stared as he dragged it toward the fireplace. His face was bitter as he looked at Arthur. He hardened his eyes and avoided his mother's pleading eyes.
"You've always said you don't care what Minister Fudge thinks, or any of the other influential people in the Ministry." Percy's voice trembled with emotion. "Well I do, and I'm tired of being just one of the 'Poor Weasleys', who everyone looks down on because their father has no proper ambition."
He grabbed a handful of floo powder, yelled "Diagon Alley!" and disappeared in a whirl of green flames.
The other Weasleys collapsed in their chairs in a shocked and angry silence. Molly was still choking little sobs, her face buried in her hands. Arthur put his arms around her, then turned his head toward his youngest four children.
"Do any of you... feel the same way as P--?" he choked.
"No, Dad!" exclaimed Fred. "We know that family's more important than money or power!" he spat. Ginny's lower lip trembled, her eyes blazed, and she scowled furiously to keep from crying.
"Yeah," said Ron belligerently. "Not like that git I used to call my brother."
"Ron!" said Molly reprovingly.
"Well, you heard him, Mum," said George. "He obviously doesn't want to be part of our family anymore."
"Stupid Percy," said Ginny. "He doesn't understand anything." She frowned angrily at the fire. "He's just like Fudge."
Molly sniffled and the twins brought her a handkerchief and a glass of water. "Here, Mum. Can't have your eyes puffing up." She smiled at them weakly, then looked solemnly at Arthur.
"I think we should tell them now," she said. The four teenagers waited expectantly while Arthur nodded, then turned to look at each of them in turn.
"Your mother and I have joined the Order of the Phoenix."
Fred, George, and Ginny looked confused, while Ron slowly nodded. Arthur continued, "The Order of the Phoenix is a group led by Professor Dumbledore to fight against You-Know-Who, outside of the Ministry's control. Your uncles Gideon and Fabian were killed while on a mission for the Order, but we never joined because you were all so small at the time. We're going to be staying at the Order's headquarters this summer so your mother and I can do our work for the Order and keep all of you safe at the same time."
"Cool, Dad!" exclaimed Fred. "Can we join the Order too?"
"No," said Molly in a voice that left no room for argument. "You will all stay out of it. Tomorrow we'll all travel to headquarters and Professor Dumbledore will explain further and give us some instructions. He advised us, however, to warn you not to tell any of your friends about this."
"Even--," began Ron.
"Yes Ron. Even Harry and Hermione," said Molly firmly. "You may be able to tell them later, but Professor Dumbledore said that before we get to headquarters we should have you explain a few things to the rest of the family. I must admit that I'm curious to know the whole story myself."
"What story is that, Mum?" asked Ginny. "What does Ron have to explain?"
Molly smiled at Ron. "The story of Sirius Black," she said, "And why he isn't a murderer after all."
Fred swore, Ginny gasped, and George said, "Ron's been holding out on us again! Did Sirius--"
"Black tell you his life story when he threatened you with that knife, Ron?" continued Fred.
Ron grinned. "No, this was at the end of that year, when he broke my leg and stole my pet rat," he said matter-of-factly.
The others gaped at him. Ginny leaned forward. "Sirius Black was the one who broke your leg? And -- and stole Scabbers? But didn't he escape from Azkaban to come after Harry?"
"Actually, no," replied Ron. "Funny, isn't it? He's actually Harry's godfather. Was his dad's best friend. And this whole time he actually escaped from Azkaban to come after Scabbers."
"But I thought Hermione's cat killed Scabbers," said George.
"Oh no, Scabbers is very much alive. He's actually an animagus named Peter Pettigrew." Molly gasped. Ron continued, "He was another old friend of Sirius Black, Harry's dad, and Professor Lupin."
"I didn't know Lupin was friends with Harry's dad," remarked Fred.
"I did," said Molly. "They were all Gryffindors, a year behind Gideon at Hogwarts." She got the nostalgic look she usually had whenever she talked about her brothers. "He always said they were the worst troublemakers in the history of Hogwarts. Claimed all the portraits and ghosts confirmed it." She laughed. "but they were all so adamantly against You-Know-Who. That's why everyone was so shocked when--" She trailed off.
"When Black betrayed the Potters to You-Know-Who," finished Arthur.
"But it wasn't Sirius," said Ron earnestly. "Everyone thought Sirius was the Secret Keeper, but Harry's parents had actually switched to Peter Pettigrew, and he was secretly a Death Eater and spy all along. When Sirius heard that Harry's parents were dead, he hunted Pettigrew down to confront him. Pettigrew started yelling accusations at Sirius, then he cut off his own finger, blew up all the muggles on the street, and transformed into a rat. He escaped through the sewers, and somehow found his way to our house. Percy found him in the garden, didn't he?"
Everyone was staring wide-eyed at Ron. Molly trembled. "So we had a ... murderer ... one of You-Know-Who's followers ... living in our house for..."
"Twelve years," sighed Ron. "Disgusting, isn't it? I actually let You-Know-Who's right-hand man sleep in my bed." The twins and Ginny looked revolted. Suddenly Ron's face turned somber. "He was there, you know. When Harry and Cedric were transported by the Triwizard Cup to that graveyard. Pettigrew was the one who helped You-Know-Who come back to life. He was actually the one who killed Cedric-- with You-Know-Who's wand," he whispered.
Ginny's knuckles grew white as she gripped the arms of her chair. Fred put one of his hands over hers and turned to Ron. "But you were so upset that Scabbers had died! Weren't you?"
"Yeah," said Ron sheepishly, "See, I thought he was dead, but guess what? He just faked his own death again. He's quite good at it. That and gaining people's loyalty through pity. Believe me, he never was as pitiful as people used to think he was. Though Sirius said he'd never have managed to become an animagus with out his friends' help."
"Why did he become an animagus?" Arthur wondered. "I'm assuming he's unregistered."
"Oh, well that was because of Professor Lupin. See, Harry's dad and Sirius figured out Lupin was a werewolf when they were at Hogwarts together, and they wanted to be able to keep him company on full moons. So all three of them became animagi when they were fifteen."
Fred and George let their jaws drop. "Fifteen! That's hard. We should know-- we've looked into it."
"You two will not attempt to become animagi!" said Molly sternly. "None of you will." They all nodded submissively, cowed by the ferocity in her brown eyes.
"So what animals did Sirius Black and Harry's dad turn into?" asked Ginny curiously.
"Oh, well, Sirius is a big black dog. At first we thought he was the Grim," laughed Ron. "And Harry's dad was a stag."
"One thing I don't understand," said Molly, "is how Remus Lupin managed to attend Hogwarts while he was a werewolf. When I heard about it a few years ago, I just assumed he'd been bitten later."
Ron grinned. "That's what the Whomping Willow was planted for. There's a tunnel underneath it that leads to the Shrieking Shack."
"So that's where that tunnel goes!" chimed the twins in unison.
"Yeah, actually the Shrieking Shack has never been haunted. All the screaming and howling people used to hear was just Professor Lupin on full moons," Ron said sadly.
"Poor fellow," Arthur commented. "He certainly doesn't deserve that."
"He's probably the best teacher we've ever had," said George. Fred, Ron, and Ginny nodded vigorously.
"So how did you find all this stuff out, Ron?" asked Fred. Ron took a deep breath.
"It was right after our last exam in third year. Harry, Hermione, and I went down to see Hagrid, and we found Scabbers in his hut. Then the executioner came for Buckbeak, so we went back up to the castle. Sirius ran up as a dog and grabbed my leg in his mouth. It broke, but he dragged me under the Whomping Willow to the Shrieking Shack. Harry and Hermione came in after me, and we all yelled at each other for a while. My leg hurt like the dickens and Scabbers kept trying to get away. Then Professor Lupin showed up and explained everything. Snape showed up, but we knocked him out. Sirius and Lupin made Scabbers transform, so we all believed Sirius was innocent then. We went back through the tunnel to take Pettigrew to the dementors, but it was full moon so Lupin turned into a werewolf and Pettigrew got away. The dementors came for Sirius, but Harry drove them off with his Patronus, which is a stag like his dad. Then I had to stay in the hospital wing, but Harry and Hermione helped Sirius escape on Buckbeak. That's about it." He shrugged.
Once more everyone gaped in shocked silence at Ron. Molly came over and engulfed him in her arms, squashing his face into her shoulder. "Don't you ever do anything dangerous like that again!"
"I thought it was odd that nothing dangerous had happened to Harry at the end of that year," remarked Fred to George. Ginny snorted.
"I'm fine, Mum," mumbled Ron. When Molly finally let go of him, he rubbed his nose gingerly. "So why'd I have to explain all that anyway?"
"Sirius Black's staying at Order headquarters too, and the Headmaster didn't want any of you to -- what's the term? -- 'freak out' when you saw him," said Arthur, smiling.
"Wicked! We're going to be living with a convicted murderer!" said Fred.
"What's he like, Ron?" asked Ginny. Ron grinned.
"Well, when he's not in a homicidal rage or trying to act like a concerned parent, he's actually rather like Fred and George. In fact, I'd say that he and his friends were even bigger troublemakers than you two when they were at Hogwarts, from what I've heard."
"Impossible!" said George indignantly.
"No one could surpass our brilliance!" cried Fred.
"Oh I don't know," said Molly. "From what Gideon told me, the four of them held the record for the most detentions in the history of Hogwarts. I've spoken to Professor Dumbledore and he assures me that you two aren't even close to breaking it." She looked gratified that she at least had this evidence that her sons were not completely depraved.
"But," sputtered George, "better than us? How..." He looked up at Ron, who was standing in front of the twins, his arms folded, with a smirk on his face.
"Four words: Moony. Wormtail. Padfoot. Prongs."
Ron's smirk grew as Fred and George lost complete control of their jaws, stared at each other, stared back at Ron, who was now snorting with laughter, and then jumped up and screamed,
Molly and Arthur looked bewildered, Ginny mildly amused, and Ron was rolling on the floor, convulsing. Fred and George returned to staring at each other, then started muttering in low voices.
"Lupin. Wormtail? Rat."
"Scabbers. Padfoot? Dog."
"Black. Prongs? Stag."
"Potter. Guess we did the right thing, giving the map to Harry."
With stunned looks on their faces, the twins sank back onto the couch for several moments. Then Fred sat up. "George, we had one of the Marauders as a professor for a year and we never knew it."
"No wonder he--"
"Never fell for our pranks."
"We also had one living in our house, but--"
"He doesn't count. And we're going to be meeting another one tomorrow!"
George leaned back on the sofa and sighed. "This is the best day ever!"
Family meeting adjourned