He lifted up table tops, splintered away from their legs and buried under decorative rubble, and threw them onto the pile of debris before moving on to the next pile of wedding paraphernalia that could be concealing the body of his missing brother.

"Charlie," Bill called out to him, for the umpteenth time since they'd gone back to salvage what they could after the Burrow had been ransacked and thoroughly searched for the elusive Harry Potter, "Harry and Hermione are missing too. He's obviously with them. Dad's trying to contact them to let them know everybody's safe and they should stay away, stay in hiding, come back and wait with us for news."

"He might be hurt!" Charlie bellowed back as he pushed over a pile of destroyed wedding presents and a wooden bench, needing to prove to himself that his little brother's body wasn't underneath any of them.

"If he was here they'd have..." Bill began before trailing off and heaving a shaky sigh, "...they'd have taken him. He's not here. Come back and wait for news with the rest of us."

"I haven't finished looking!" Charlie snapped.

His wedding robes were torn and covered in scorch marks, shoes were muddy, and his sleeves were rolled up. He put his shoulder into the wedding arch, which was leaning over the home made altar, and grunted as he pushed it upright again.

"Ron! Ron, are you there? Can you hear me?"

Bill stomped across the battlefield that was his wedding and tried to pull Charlie away. Charlie was stronger and shrugged his older brother off without any real effort. Bill shoved him in the back instead.

"He's not here! I know he's not here!" Bill shouted. "Do you think that if I thought, even for a minute, that he might be I wouldn't be tearing this pile of kindling apart looking for him?"

"You don't know that!" Charlie turned on him, furiously. "I know he always gets away, he always recovers when he's hurt, he's got nine bloody lives, but every time something bad happens to him it's always worse! What can be worse than nearly dying eh, Bill? What?"

"He's with Harry and Hermione!" Bill used the only thing he had that Charlie didn't, his height, and towered over him to roar down into his face.

"How do you know?" Charlie raged back up at him.

"Because he disappeared, that's why! If he had been fighting I'd have gone to help him. If he'd have been hurt I'd have got him to safety and treated him. If he'd been here at all I would have gone to him. He wasn't here, so I went to Ginny!"

"Ginny's mine to take care of, you're supposed to watch Ron!"

"My fucking wife was under attack! I saw everybody I could see to safety and I couldn't see Ron." Bill was furious now. He would never have neglected his duty as Ron's big brother.

Bill watched Ron, Charlie watched Ginny, Fred and George watched each other and Percy...well that pompous arse looked after himself. That was the informal plan they had come up with when in charge of five younger siblings.

Charlie turned his back on Bill and began throwing the wedding seating over his shoulder, chair by chair, as he searched for signs of his missing brother.

"Ron? Ron, you under there?"

"Harry and Hermione wouldn't have left without him. I saw them looking for him before they disappeared." Bill reasoned with his fear and anger fuelled brother.

"Yeah, I saw that too!" Charlie barked, glaring at Bill over his shoulder before hurling a wooden chair against the side of the broom shed and reducing it to splinters. "He wasn't with them. He wasn't with you and he wasn't with them so why aren't you looking for him?"

"They wouldn't have gone without him! That's why I saw them looking, because they wouldn't go until they found him, you total tit!"

Charlie glared at Bill once more before turning away and staring straight ahead, across the ruins of a happy day and towards the overgrown garden they used to play as children.

"I never got to see him," Charlie said, eventually, "I never had anything to do with him when he was a baby, then I went to school and when I finished he started and I never saw him then either."

"Charlie," Bill tried to stop him but Charlie continued.

"I never even saw him when he wrote to me for help with that dragon of Hagrid's." Charlie's head dropped. "The only time I made an effort was when we took the dragons to the school for the Triwizard tournament. I got him to sneak out and see me and he wanted to talk to me about something...he was fucking miserable and he needed somebody to talk to and I didn't talk about anything but my bloody dragons."

"That's why you want to find him here is it?" Bill asked. "Do you really want to find him hurt and bleeding just so you can spend time together?"

Charlie shook his head and then ran his rough hands and stubby fingers through his short hair.

"Just this once I was here to help him when he needed it and I still didn't manage it...and what if he gets killed, Bill?"

"He won't, I forbade him." Bill said with a smile as he put his hand upon Charlie's shoulder.

"Yeah, he always listens to you, right?" Charlie snorted.

"Pretty much never," Bill shrugged, "always listens to the twins, ignores Percy, annoys Ginny, and idolises you. I'm just the one he comes running to when he has nobody else to go to...last resort, I am."

"He doesn't idolise me," Charlie said with an incredulous snort, "does he?"

"Well let me see," Bill said, tone dripping with sarcasm as he counted off on his fingers, "he adores Quidditch and you're the Gryffindor Quidditch star, he's adventurous and does stuff even when it terrifies him and you're the daredevil of the family, he boasts to everyone who'll listen about your job and doesn't even know what I do other than 'curses and stuff'..."

"Yeah but..."

"Yeah but nothing," Bill informed him, "he's not dead, he's gonna be fine and he's going to come back home and want to tell you all his stories."

Charlie thought about this for a moment before nodding.

"Yeah, only this time it'll be different, this time I'll be there for him. This time I'll listen to what he has to say."

Bill smiled.

"Come on, mum's a state and she'll fret less if she can see more heads of red hair around the table."

They climbed through the debris and made their way back to their family. They would hold it together so Ron had one to come back to.