A Different Kind of Battle
Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break. ~ William Shakespeare
Kicking a stone from his path Charlie Weasley walked with his head down and his hands in his pockets. The wind whistling past him was almost soothing compared the sounds of the Burrow. The constant buzz that seemed to surround his childhood home were ones he used to welcome; now he wished he never had to hear them again.
It had been three weeks. Three weeks of funerals, three weeks of tears, three weeks of celebrations and three weeks of the most confusing mix of sorrow and sheer relief. The wizarding world had lost and gained so much and it was all thanks to the three people he was currently living with.
Coming home had always been a happy thing for him. A break from his often gruelling work in Romania and a chance to be doted on and enjoy the kinds of interaction he only ever found amongst the sea of red hair. This was the first time he had never found that kind of peace, instead, the death of his brother Fred had made the atmosphere tense and everything seemed to have changed. It was as if the entire house had been wrapped in cotton wool and every voice, every reaction, every small laugh and ever tear shed was now muffled and distorted.
Pinching the bridge of his nose as the thoughts of Fred growing up came to him thick and fast, threatening the tears he knew he could no longer stand, Charlie continued to walk, to escape, to be alone, even if it was for just this short time. He knew this walk was just the start – he was beginning to feel trapped in the warped and familiar walls of the burrow. His need for escape had been escalating for days now.
Returning to Romania wasn't going to be easy but he knew he had to do it. As much as he wished he could be there for his family he knew he would come to resent this place if he was forced to stay here during this time. It was selfish, he knew that, but he had never knew what to do in these situations, and now it was happening in his own home it made that sense of drowning he hated so much worse. It was telling his family he was leaving that would hurt the greatest; telling his mother would damn near kill him.
Molly Weasley was clinging to her children like a mother duckling. Even Harry and Hermione had been added into the mix as she insisted that she could make everything right if she just kept cooking and cleaning and caring. It hurt to watch her try so hard but nothing none of them said and not even his father could get her to stop. He honestly didn't want to be here the day she finally snapped and crashed and burned; his mother had always been so strong, the backbone of the family. Fred's death was looking like the straw that had broken the camels back.
It was not only that, although it was the main contributing factor that had led to his decision to leave England once again. He had come to realise in recent days that the empty feeling he had inside wasn't only caused by his brother's death. He felt a pang each time he watched his sister kiss Harry, which she did quite frequently. He thought about it some more and realised he felt it again as he walked past Ron and Hermione curled up together on the couch. It wasn't the romance in the air that bothered him, of that he was sure, it was the misplaced feeling of having missed something – some change that everyone else had been there to witness. He felt like he didn't belong.
As the days wore on and without Bill around, Charlie had begun to realise just how much change his family had gone through. He could empathize with Percy, who sat on the sidelines too but for completely different reasons. Nobody was hostile toward him, nor were they unfriendly; he joined in whatever activity they were doing for the day and worked along side them in whatever task their mother had concocted. It was in the times of rest, when they wandered off in their own pursuits that he felt out of place and more of a visitor than Harry or Hermione.
It was during one of these quiet periods that he had got up and walked out. Nobody had asked him where he was going, or stopped him to put a jacket on and he felt a pang at the loss of what used to be second nature. Kicking a tuft of grass as he walked now he almost regretted the rebellious decision to go without some kind of protection from the wind.
It was as he climbed the top of the steepest hill, miles from the Burrow, that he caught sight of her. Her hair, so bright he could have sworn it was a sunny day and not the overcast muggy one it actually was, streamed around her body in waves. She crouched low to the ground, her dress riding high up her thighs as her hands worked furiously at the ground.
Charlie tilted his head to the side, first in vague recognition and second in befuddlement. He couldn't for the life of him work out where he had seen her before and what she was doing now. All at once, as if catching his scent on the wind, her head whipped around and she saw him. Even from the distance he could see her eyes go wide in fear and moments later she spun and ran. Without thinking he began to follow.
Running down the hill was much easier than getting up it, however he underestimated just how steep it was, loosing his footing and tumbling down the final third. He landed extremely close to where she had been sitting so he crawled the rest of the way curiously. There, in the middle of the green grass and bright daisy's was a crude hole, hand dug and not very deep at all, he could see the markings in the dirt where her nails had broken it away. Beside the hole rested a golden locket. He wondered if she had been trying to bury it or if she had just left it behind.
Picking it up he looked in the direction she had disappeared, there was only one way to find out. Getting up and brushing himself off, he pocketed the necklace and began to walk toward the copse of trees he was sure she was hiding in. He had never considered himself to be much of a tracker, but the path she left was rather obvious. She probably took it everyday. More than once he contemplated turning back and leaving the necklace for her to find, but then he remembered that turning back meant going home.
The trees began to thin after another ten minutes of walking and Charlie was beginning to wonder just how far she could have run. He answered his own question when a large black building loomed just off in the distance. He remembered the building, having flown by it many times in his childhood. That crazy Xenophilius Lovegood had printed his weird newspaper from there – he wondered if anyone still lived there. Maybe it was the old coot's daughter he had seen.
Slogging his way up the final hill he walked though the overgrown front garden, picking his way along the almost invisible stepping stones until he reached the front door. Looking around he could see no signs of life but decided it was worth a shot trying here anyway. The force of his knock had the door swinging inwards, not having been closed properly. Slowly pushing it all the way open, he stepped into the dim interior and called out.
Thanks for Reading!