Bill remembered the days during the first war. He remembered what it was like to come home to find that another family was dead, another family member, another friend. And he remembered what it was like after Harry Potter defeated You Know Who. Safety. Security. It was something that he hadn't experienced in his life except in the early days when he wasn't thinking about anything except eating and sleeping.
He remembered his uncles, his mum's brothers, remembered when they were killed, remembered Percy and Charlie. He remembered saying to them that it was going to be okay, because his mum couldn't. Fred and George were still too young to understand, as was Ron. Percy would have been too except Percy loved his uncles. Uncle Gideon and Uncle Fabian were his favourite and he was shaping up to be just as much trouble as them. He remembered how much Percy clung to his mother when she found the letter. The morning wasn't peaceful, the sun not as cheery as it had been five minutes before. And after that Percy changed.
Charlie changed too, for a while he was silent, then he began to get angry. Bill didn't know how to help him, so instead he took Charlie and Percy up to the old orchard where they played Quidditch for ages. After those kind of afternoons, his mum never scolded him, never told them off for how dirty they were, or how sweaty. She always just gave them some juice and a sandwich, even if it was close to dinner and went to do something else.
Really, the war had taken its toll on the three Weasley boys. Percy never broke a rule in his life after that, and Charlie went chasing after dragons and Bill... Bill went to Egypt. Because Egypt didn't Dark Lords who killed your family and murdered your hope, which was almost as bad, he thought. Egypt had pharaohs and tombs and charms and everything that you might have wanted, and it didn't have Dark Lords.
Dark Lords took away innocence, and they took away naivety, and they took away childhood.
Bill remembered the days during the first war. And that was why Bill was back, because his other brothers and his baby sister, they were losing their childhood too, and Bill would be damned if it was going to happen to three generations.
Charlie remembered the letters. That was how Charlie always measured his life. It wasn't Quidditch goals, or years or anything silly like that. Charlie remembered by letters because for every important event in his life there had been a letter. But also because all of his life Charlie received letters from home every week, on Monday, letters from Percy on Tuesday, and letters from Bill on Wednesday and he wrote back all of them every Thursday.
Charlie sometimes got the occasional letter from his other siblings, Fred and George or Ron or Ginny, but it was rare because they had friends and school or they were too young or other things to deal with. So he was quite amazed to see a letter from Ron one year after he had left, Ron was in first year, he remembered. But the contents of the letter… Wowee. A baby dragon. But he replies, 'Of course I'll take it,' because Ron is on an adventure that Charlie isn't sure that he can stop.
The night after he replied to Ron's letter, he has nightmares. Of another day of another letter of another adventure. The adventure of his uncles that ends tragically, and he desperately hopes that Ron's adventure doesn't end like theirs.
Because Charlie doesn't think he can stand another letter like that one.
Percy remembered the people. The people who died, all of them. There were his two uncles, who were his favourites. He could play a prank with them or tell a joke and then everything was going to be alright because Uncle Fabian and Uncle Gideon were there and they were still laughing.
There was that one day that he and Mum had gone back through her pictures of when she was little. She looked very different then, but he supposed, that was what happened when you grew up. The family pictures were the hardest. Percy had been ten when they looked at the photos and when he saw two identical boys grinning up at him he was shocked.
"Who are they?" he asked his mum. She looked at him in surprise.
"Those are your uncles, Fabian and Gideon," she told him, with a sad look in her eyes. "Don't you remember them?"
He looked at her in disbelief. "No, they can't be Uncle Fabian and Uncle Gideon, they're too different. Too light and happy. They don't have the lines on their faces." They didn't speak after that.
So, when Percy joins the Ministry, he expects everyone to be happy for him. His mom's proud, and so is his dad. But then the rumors come and Percy doesn't know what to do. He wasn't at the tournament, but he remembers Cedric Diggory, who was a year younger than him. He doesn't think that Harry Potter could have done anything to hurt the older boy. But he knows that there is something wrong and that maybe he can stop Ron from being too tangled up in it, because no one should be hurt. He doesn't want another war, like the one that killed his uncles, he wants peace. He remembers Sirius Black, not as a hero, but as a traitor. He remembers Professor Dumbledore, slightly mad, but always willing to give him a smile. And then, he remembers Katie Bell, and Colin Creevey, and Tonks, and Lupin, and Fred. And for a moment he lets himself remember Harry, but then it is back to the grief that consumed him for the last years, and Percy knows that there is nothing to do tonight except fight.
So Percy fights.
Bill, Charlie and Percy look at each other through a broken wall of Hogwarts that was whole hours before. Bill and Charlie are on one side, Percy on the other. There are no words passed between them. There don't need to be words. Bill understands Charlie, Charlie Percy, and Percy Bill. They have a circle of understanding. Spoken words hurt, but letters… Letters hurt even more.
And they could not forget the letter.