DISCLAIMER: I don't own the characters or settings mentioned in this story. It all belongs to the great, JK. oh, and Warner Bros...and whoever else has shares in it.
Set the day before Bill and Fleur's wedding, so spoilers for HBP
It was the middle of the day at The Burrow, and the hot August sun was beating down into the Weasley's garden, and onto the backs of the two brothers that stood there. The older one was tall, had long hair pulled into a ponytail, a fang earring and several recent looking scars on his face. The younger one was stocky with lots of freckles and old burn marks over his arms and hands.
Charlie Weasley bent over to pluck an ugly looking gnome from behind a Hydrangea bush, and when he straightened to throw it away, his back gave a loud crack.
With a grunt, he twirled the gnome around his head a few times, before throwing it over the back fence of the garden. After watching it fly away into the distance with no small amount of satisfaction, he threw himself onto the ground in the shade of the bush, sighing with relief.
"You just had to pick the hottest day to decide to degnome the garden, didn't you?" He inquired when his brother Bill settled himself down next to him.
"I said that Ron should do it. You're the one who decided that you were in need of something to do. You know how Mum takes comments like that." Bill replied, mopping sweat off his brow with a sleeve. "Degnoming the garden for my own wedding. Ridiculous."
Charlie nodded in agreement. He looked sideways at his brother when Bill said, "All this is starting to make me think that eloping is a good option. If I didn't mind Mum's wrath of course."
"Mum? What about Fleur?" When Bill shuddered, Charlie grinned, before saying seriously, "Talking of Mum's wrath, I heard something interesting yesterday."
Noting the change in tone, Bill looked at him closely with an eyebrow half cocked in question. Charlie pulled out a few pieces of grass, wondering how to phrase what he had heard his little brother Ron and his best friend Harry Potter discussing the day before. "I heard Harry and Ron talking about not going back to Hogwarts."
Beside him, Bill sucked in a breath through his teeth. "Hermione's in on it too," Charlie elaborated.
"What?" Bill questioned unbelievingly.
He shrugged. "I don't know, Mum caught me listening before I-"
Charlie was cut off by the sound of the back door opening. Both he and Bill went to look over to see who it was, but found their vision obscured by the large Hydrangea bush. They did not have to wait for long before they found out who it was. The door opened again, and Charlie and Bill heard footsteps coming towards them. They looked at each other, and Charlie was about to announce his presence, when the annoyed tones of their only sister floated across the yard.
"You can't keep avoiding me, Harry."
Charlie shot a confused look at his brother, but Bill only shook his head slightly.
"What makes you think I'm avoiding you?" Harry Potter's voice was a little too confused to be plausible, Charlie thought. Apparently Ginny thought so too, because she gave a little sigh of annoyance.
"Are you trying to insult me?" She asked.
"What?" This time, however, Harry's confusion seemed genuine.
"We were friends, good friends before we were even going out. I think I know what you do when you avoid someone."
What?! Harry and Ginny? Since when? Eyebrows disappearing into his hair, Charlie shot a questioning look at Bill. He merely shook his head again.
In front of the Hydrangea bush, Harry shook his head as well.
Charlie was giving the conversation his full attention now, ignoring the pricks of conscience that said that he really ought to let Harry and Ginny know he was there.
"What, Harry? We can't even talk now? Can't be friends? I understand why we can't be together, but surely we can be friends still?" Charlie heard the quiet challenge in his sister's words, but wasn't sure Harry had done. There was a deep breath on the other side of the bush, and Bill and Charlie heard more footsteps coming closer.
"What? You what? Come on, you seemed able to say what you thought that day by the lake, why not now?"
"Come on, Harry."
There was silence. Charlie leaned out slowly from behind the bush, hoping he wouldn't get caught. Harry and Ginny were standing together; Harry with his head down, looking at the grass, and Ginny, staring at him with a hard, blazing look on her face. She reached out a gentle hand and tilted his chin up towards her.
"Is this the way it's going be now? Whenever I come into a room, you run away? If it is, the least you could do is give me an explanation."
Harry shook his head slightly, and said in a low voice, "I can't."
"Can't?" Ginny's bottom lip trembled. "You can come up, and kiss me in front of-" She broke off with a sniff. Furiously, she swiped at her eyes. "You can't. I can't help but wonder if you really care. That's it, isn't it? You don't-"
Before Ginny could finish, Harry grabbed her hands and said fiercely, "Of course I care! Why do think we had to end it? I cared too much to let you get used!"
He didn't let go of her hands.
Ginny looked up at him again. "I know. So that means we can't even be friends now, does it?"
"I'm avoiding you because every time I look at you, I want-" Harry broke off, shaking his head. "I can't explain."
Charlie watched as Ginny leaned in, bringing their still joined hands between them and resting them on Harry's chest. "Try."
Harry stared down at her face with a torn expression, before looking at their hands. "Whenever I see you, you have this look on your face, I don't know, you look so…You had it right after the Quidditch match." He broke off, letting go of her hands reluctantly and turning away. "I know what I said at the funeral, but…it's difficult…especially when you look…like that."
Charlie saw his sister's eyes fill again, before she blinked the moisture away. He watched her take a step closer to Harry, before tentatively resting her head on his shoulder, her arms encircling him as well.
Charlie saw Harry's deep breath, before he turned in Ginny's embrace and rested his head on hers, squeezing his eyes shut beneath his glasses.
This was a little too close to what Charlie had seen from his parents many times for him to be comfortable watching it coming from his sister, so, quietly, he turned away and studied the grass in front of him with great care.
The whole conversation had been strange. Charlie thought that he had obviously been away from home too long, if he had missed Ginny growing up from the little shy blushing girl to- no, he couldn't even think it. She had only just turned sixteen. Still his little sister.
Charlie thought he had heard the end, but a softly spoken comment from Harry had him leaning out from behind the bush again.
"This doesn't change it, you know."
"I know. You're still Harry Potter, and you still have to find You Kn- Voldemort. Save the world and all that."
"And Dumbledore's still dead. The prophecy is still there. And Snape-"
"I know." Ginny said softly, pulling away slightly to look up at Harry. "I understand, really, I do."
Harry grimaced. "Doesn't make it any easier though, does it?"
Ginny shook her head ruefully. "We'll figure it out though." She grabbed Harry's hand again. "Don't let it get to this again."
"I won't. I promise." He lifted their joined hands, and said slowly. "Friends."
Ginny nodded, although her eyes were closed tightly, and whispered, "Friends."
Harry smiled a little, though it was sad and hesitantly dropped a kiss on the crown of her head. "For now."
Ginny wrapped her arms tightly around him, breathing in deeply and nodded into his shoulder. Harry did not move but to do the same.
Once more Charlie pulled his head back behind the hydrangea bush. Once he heard Harry and Ginny's footsteps go back into the house, he let his head fall onto his knees with a thump. With an angry sigh, he turned to look at his brother. He looked drained. "When did our little sister get so old?" Charlie asked him.
Bill shook his head. "Not so little anymore."
Charlie nodded, and thought of Harry and Ron's conversation that he had heard. "None of them are."
"No. None of them are." Bill repeated. Charlie didn't want to think about what it meant, so he got to his feet, and pulled Bill to his. "Come on, we can't have gnomes running about the garden on your wedding day. Lots of work, and we won't get it done sitting here."
As he said it, the thought occurred to Charlie that that was the reason Ron and his friends weren't going back to school.
He shook his head as if to clear it. His older brother would have a wedding day to remember. That was something Voldemort couldn't steal, as he had from Harry and Ginny.
One last day, before they all had to get the work done.
AN: Well, I hope you enjoyed it. I'm not sure about it to tell the truth, which is why it's been sitting on my computer for over a month, so if you could review and let me know what you think????
Luv, Nut 1