"What time is it?" Charlie muttered sleepily. He rolled his neck from side to side, and looking out the window, he could see the moon shining down and casting a soft glow. The watch he had received for his seventeenth birthday announced he had woken up in the middle of the night—2: 18 in the morning!
He had been awakened partially because of the heat of that summer night and partially because he felt hungry after his long travel from Romania. The welcome cheers and incessant questions from his family and friends had given him barely any time to eat as he would have liked.
Carefully closing the door to the bedroom he was sharing with Bill, Charlie went down the crooked staircase of The Burrow. He quietly stepped into the kitchen; it was dark and silent, a scene only witnessed in the late hours of the night. The Weasleys' kitchen was usually filled with familiar noises and delicious aromas. The enticing aromas escaped from the bright colored recipients that were filled up with the delicious food that kept his mum occupied during the day.
Charlie yawned and stretched his arms behind his head. It was really great getting a bit of time alone in his favourite room. It gave him the opportunity to relax and think. He was feeling excited, and a bit nervous, about the role he would be playing in a few hours…being his older brother's best man.
He couldn't believe that Bill would finally belong to the "Married and Respectful Wizard Club." Git, he thought with glee. Charlie was ready for the big day; he was going to remove his earring for the wedding, only because of their mother's demand.
Charlie chuckled thinking of how mad their mother seemed to be with all the wedding details, oddly enough Bill didn't seem to be too affected by all the madness. He was keeping his cool, much like he always did. He couldn't help but to think about how much he had been missing his older brother since he'd landed the job at the reserve in Romania six years ago. It seemed like such a long time ago.
In truth, he missed all of his siblings. The wedding was a great opportunity to take some days off and enjoy the warm atmosphere at home, the delicious food made by his mother (than nobody in the world was ever close to make as perfect as she did), and the funny and good times shared with his siblings.
Charlie especially missed the talks about women with Bill, as well as the banter and the Quidditch games between all of them. He also missed the broomsticks races around the backyard with Ron, which were made even more exciting by Ginny and the twins yelling eagerly, each of them cheering for whom they though would win.
However, a dark shadow influenced everyone's moods. Charlie thought that his family was making a big effort to be optimistic, even when living with the constant menace of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. All of them tried to act as normal as possible as to avoid feeling dreadful about the dark event that caused his brother, George, to lose an ear. But at times it was inevitable to feel worried about the danger looming around everyone.
Charlie even missed Percy. Who would have though? He was planning on visiting and having serious talk with his brother after the wedding. It was time Percy got his priorities straight, and that mean that family came before anything else. Percy, adding to their parents' unhappiness, wouldn't be showing up at Bill's wedding. The git!
Charlie looked at the old kitchen table—it held so many memories. He quickly noticed, with a smirk, that it was larger than usual. He was sure that his mother had cast an Enlargement Charm to make enough room for all the food arrangements that would be served at the wedding.
His bare feet felt uncomfortable against the roughness of the floor and he raised them onto a chair nearby, thinking of his mother's reaction if she saw him stitting like that.
My kitchen is not a corner of the Leaky Cauldron, she would say sternly to her second child.
He raked his fingers through his hair that his mother had stubbornly insisted on cutting in a more proper "best man haircut." He just couldn't get used to the short length.
Charlie thought of re-growing his hair before the day rose, but knowing that his mother would get upset with him made him decide to fix his haircut only after the ceremony. The time he spent with his mum was too short, and he rather not get into trouble with her. It was better to enjoy all the time he had at home with his mum being in a good mood.
The kitchen's atmosphere was filled with several sweet and spicy smells that made Charlie's stomach growl. He searched for something that he could grab to eat without being noticed hours later by the "Wedding Squad," as he humorously referred to his mother, Fleur's mother, and Tonks.
Charlie noticed there was leftover Treacle Tart from dinner and didn't hesitate to reach for it. He was cutting a slice when he heard a familiar voice. "Is the best man supposed to be insomniac like the groom on the wedding's eve?"
Grinning at Bill, he said, "Maybe, but he's definitely more hungry than awake . Fancy a slice? Is quite tasty," he added with his mouth full.
Bill sat next to his brother and grabbed the slice of the treacle tart he was being offered. His scars softened when he winked at his brother. "Do you really think I'd refuse Mum's food? Just a friendly advice though: never, ever, mention that Mum's food is the best to a girlfriend."
Charlie laughed. "I know; I've only made that mistake once. So did you get in trouble with Fleur about her cooking?"
Bill spoke after he finished chewing his first bite of his tart. "More than once. You know I tend not to say anything that may seem like a criticism towards Fleur, but just between us, she is too sensitive about anything related with food — something about the most talented cuisine chefs being French. So I've learned how to handle it. Plus, I don't have much too complain about, her cooking is quite good."
Charlie smiled assured that his brother had found a good match in Fleur. Both brothers continued to eat in silence until they were done.
Bill smirked and Charlie noticed a twinkle in his eye. This only told him that Bill was up some noisy questioning. "I thought you would bring Mila to the wedding as your date. Aren't you guys almost engaged?"
Charlie lost his grin, and he cut himself another slice. "We were, but things didn't work out. We had different priorities. I felt that there was something missing between us. So as Ginny says, the Dragon Knight is still in search for his princess. I shall add that this princess has to be the hottest and cleverest witch on earth, for good measure."
"I'm sorry about Mila." But soon Bill shook his head, laughing. "You'll never change, bro. I reckon you have to do like Ron—get some help from that legendary book Fred and George gave him for his last birthday." Bill waggled his eyebrows. "Remember that one we gave them when they turned fifteen? It seems that a clever and lovely witch is strongly tied in our little brother's web. I think it's about time too, because I've noticed Ron has been looking Hermione's way since at least their fourth year. Lately he's really doing well to win her affection… I reckon he doesn't need any book to help him with that anymore."
Charlie's eyes widened. "Really? Good for him! Anyway, the old book always gives a little push in the right direction, doesn't it? And I've learned quite a couple lessons from that book! With Megan, my first girlfriend, I went out of my way to be extra nice. And the Learning to Dance chapter was very useful to us during the Christmas Ball in my fifth year, remember?"
Bill nodded and gave Charlie a grin. "Thanks to the chapter Protect the Witch in Question in all Dangerous Situations, I got an amazing snogg from Sarah close to the giant squid's lake once. She got panicked about a reptile that was making her way towards us, and I made the slimy lizard vanish. Later, I got a bit embarassed when she told all her roomates in the common room that I was her hero."
Charlie smirked. "I remember that! I fancied her best friend's sister, Jane. But I'm sure Ron didn't use the practical pics yet, one of the most useful things from the book. Mum is always on his and Hermione's whereabouts, haven't you noticed? Ronniekins is only at the lessons' first level, I guess."
Both brothers bursted out laughing, and Bill quickly made a gesture to keep their voices down. "If the twins wake up, you know we would get in trouble with mum because they would make this little chat a night-long party, mainly speaking about their wise use of the book. And you know some things are better left a secret from Mum and Dad."
Charlie agreed with his brother. Even being the cool and one of the rebellious Weasley siblings, Bill was always the wisest and calmest in regards to making the right decisions. He respected him a lot for that. Sitting up straight on his chair, his features got a concerned look when he looked at his brother. "Have your nerves calmed down, mate?"
Bill smiled sheepishly. "Not much, but the late night snack was worth it because we got to talk. During the day is always difficult with all the wedding preparations that need be taken care of."
Charlie smiled back while he Scourgified the knife he'd used to cut the Treacle Tart. Then, Charlie looked at Bill with curiosity. "How did you know? How were you sure Fleur was the one?"
Bill's eyes brightened, and he poked Charlie's shoulder. "Can't explain it, mate. You'll know it when you'll find the one for you. Dad has always said it, and he's right. Why do you ask? Is there is someone new you are interested in? You know that I won't share it with anyone else."
Charlie shoved his hands in his pajamas bottoms pockets, smiling. "Yes, I can say there is someone… her name is Sophie, she is a new co-worker from the reserve. I'm not sure if she feels the same way I'm feel about her. I will keep you posted, tough. But I reckon our old man was so sure that he just had to elope with Mum. I'm glad you waited and opted to get married with the proper ceremony, for everyone's sake"
Bill nodded amusely. "You knew I had to do it for the family's sake. Did you remember how mum had kittens when I brougth Sarah here for my sixteenth birthday party? I feared that dad would have the talk with me again, just in case. So we can get a little idea of what would have happen if Fleur and I had eloped. Percy would come back home just so mum's yells couldn't be heard in the Ministry."
Charlie chuckled. "Mum is powerful when she gets upset and everyone learns it quickly. Speaking about distressed people, I noticed Harry was a bit off during his birthday dinner. And Ginny was pretending she was all right, but it was hopeless, I know my little sister. Is it me, or is there something going on between them? Ginny's crush on him was legendary, and the way Harry was looking at her...blokes can't hide it when they are interested on a girl."
Bill grinned "Oh yes, they don't fool anyone. With all stuff that happened last year, I forgot to mention that our baby sister dated Harry, but it didn't last long. I found out about it when Greyback attacked me and I had to spend some days in the Hospital Wing. I dare say that Dumbledore's death and all things that happened around it made Harry feel frightened for Ginny's fate."
Charlie sighed. "Yeah. Always thought Harry was a nice bloke, and that Ginny's crush on him would be reciprocated someday. Poor things, being here sharing the same roof and being separated, Harry really is a brave bloke! That would drive me mad."
Bill nodded. "I like Harry, too. I think everyone agrees with us. Guess what Ron gave Harry in birthday? The Twelve Fail- Safe Ways to Charm Witches book! He asked me to borrow some Galleons to buy a copy. Maybe our little bro is looking out for our sister's interest regarding Harry, hoping her possible future relationship is successful? We all need a little help to understand women's secrets as to what they like we do for them."
Charlie laughed. "Okay, that's enough talk. I think we should get some sleep; the day will be long, and you can't be getting married sleepy."
Bill agreed and it was his turn to yawn. "You're right. Let's go!"
The two brothers closed the kitchen door and went back up stairs for a well-needed sleep.
There was no doubt that Charlie was happy to be back home. He had missed this place and his family. The most important things to him, always.
A/N: Many thanks to my good friend pili204 for her valuable beta work, and also to my good friends, Redsioda and queenb23, for their valuable pre-beta work.
Originally written to dedicate to my good friend PureBloodMuggle as a birthday gift.
Thanks for reading my story.