"Curiosity often leads to trouble."
–Alice (Alice in Wonderland)
"Anyone home?" Charlie Weasley threw open the front door of the Burrow and set his things down. He waited a few seconds and then smiled as he heard the familiar sound of footsteps running down the stairs.
"Charlie!" His mother flew out of the kitchen, Mr. Weasley in tow, and threw her arms around her son. Over her shoulder, Charlie could see his siblings gathering around the bottom of the staircase, eagerly awaiting their turn to hug him.
"Bill still in Egypt?" he asked as he hugged his father and siblings one by one.
"Yes," Mrs. Weasley nodded. "He's been trying to get a job at Gringotts. Hopefully soon…" she trailed off and shook her head. Charlie nodded. He knew it was getting bad. That was part of what had made him come home. He suspected as much as anyone that a war was coming and if he was going to tell his parents what he had to tell them, it was now before things got any worse.
"And Percy?" Charlie asked. "What about him?" He was almost afraid to ask. He had heard about the rocky relationship that Percy had with the rest of the family and his absence now made Charlie nervous.
Mrs. Weasley's lip quivered and tears came to her eyes so it was Mr. Weasley who answered the question. "He left a few weeks ago."
"He got into a huge argument with dad," Ginny said, crossing her arms, "then he just left."
"He's siding with the Ministry?" Charlie deducted.
Everyone solemnly nodded their heads. "For someone so smart, it was a dumb decision," Fred said.
"Now, Fred," Mrs. Weasley began, but Fred gave her a look that said you know it's true so she trailed off and sighed. "We're going to Grimmauld Place in a week or two," she added after a moment.
"For what?" Charlie raised his eyebrows.
"It's headquarters," Mrs. Weasley whispered. "For the Order. No one can track us down while we're there. It's safer for all of us. Especially Harry. He'll be going there as well as soon as we can settle on a date to get him."
Charlie nodded. "Well, I won't be staying very long; just a few days."
"And look at us," Mrs. Weasley said, wiping her teary eyes. "You just got here and we're bombarding you with all of the bad news."
"No, I don't mind," Charlie said, "I needed to know anyway."
"Come sit down. I'll make you some tea. What about food? Do you want anything? Are you hungry?"
"Starving, actually," Charlie admitted.
"Yeah, Apparating here from Romania in two seconds can really do that to you," George said, rolling his eyes and smirking.
"No, living off of food that isn't from home or Hogwarts will do that to you," Charlie corrected, smiling and lightly punching George's arm as he headed for the kitchen.
"Fair point," George replied, shrugging and grinning.
Mrs. Weasley sat Charlie down at the table and busied herself around the kitchen.
"How are the dragons?" Ron asked. He always liked to hear stories about the dragons Charlie worked with.
"I think the more important question is why did you decide to come visit, Char?" Fred asked.
"Not that we don't want you here," George continued.
"But we'd like to know the reasoning behind this unexpected visit," Fred finished. "Did you miss us that much?"
Charlie smiled. "I didn't miss you one bit, actually."
"Aha, I didn't think so," George said.
"No, of course I missed everyone but there's just something I have to talk to mum and dad about."
Mr. Weasley looked up in alarm and Mrs. Weasley turned from her spot at the stove.
"It's not bad news," Charlie said. "Not technically at least. I just have to talk to you. Alone." He sent an apologetic look at his siblings.
"Why can't we stay?" Ginny protested as Mrs. Weasley gave them a small nod, telling them to leave.
"We're of age!" Fred and George cried.
"Oh, please, that's your reasoning for everything," Mrs. Weasley answered.
"Because it's the truth and you never tell us anything!"
"If it has to do with Harry-," Ron began.
"No, it's not Harry," Charlie said. "How would I have any news on Harry that you don't already have? I've been in Romania."
"I don't know, I just figured I'd ask," Ron mumbled.
"Go outside or upstairs just for a little while," Mrs. Weasley said gently. "After this, you can have Charlie all to yourself."
"That's not what this is about," Fred said.
"Fred please," Mrs. Weasley said, "Just go. And don't even think about using those Extendable Ears!" she called as Fred, George, Ron and Ginny headed for the door. As soon as it shut behind them, Mrs. Weasley put an Imperturbable Charm over the door. "Just in case," she said.
"Okay, Charlie, what's all of this about?" Mr. Weasley asked.
"Okay, okay," he said. He took a deep breath. "Remember the Christmas break when I was fifteen and Bill was seventeen?"
"That was the holiday when Scarlett Callaway and her family spent the day with us, wasn't it?" Mrs. Weasley asked. She set a plate of food in front of Charlie and took a seat across from him and next to Mr. Weasley
"Yes, I believe it was," Mr. Weasley said.
"Whatever happened to her and her family?" Charlie asked curiously after a short pause. "We were very close to them back then."
Mrs. Weasley's expression changed to one of sadness. "Mark, Scarlett's dad, died when Scarlett was nine. He was a Muggle, remember? And he was in a car accident. Scarlett and her mother moved to a different area and we lost touch. It's a shame, though. Scarlett was so close to Fred and George. She's at Hogwarts, of course, but I don't really think they're friends…" she trailed off and looked at her hands.
Charlie took the opportunity to speak up again. "That's what I have to tell you. It has to do with Scarlett and Fred."
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley shared a look but didn't say anything.
"That Christmas," Charlie continued, "I wanted to play around with some advanced magic that was in Bill's textbooks. It was Christmas holidays, not summer and everyone around besides me and Percy were either of age or below Hogwarts age so I figured the trace wouldn't be picked up, since things were usually more relaxed around Christmas time. I ended up being right and the magic was never picked up. Anyway, Scarlett and Fred were playing hide and seek with George. George was hiding and Scarlett and Fred had just about given up looking for him, so I grabbed them to practice magic on."
"What?" Mrs. Weasley exclaimed.
"They were only nine at the time. They didn't know better," Charlie said.
"Should have known, yes, I'm aware. Anyway, I saw something in Bill's textbook about an Unbreakable Vow."
"Oh no," Mrs. Weasley said, bringing her hands to her mouth. Mr. Weasley's eyes widened almost comically. He clearly hadn't expected that part of the news.
"I think Scarlett and Fred kind of, I don't know, liked each other when they were younger. A little kid crush, you know? They were so close that I guess they just wanted to always be that way. So they went and chose to vow to grow up and get married by the time Scarlett turned twenty. Anyway, I went ahead and did it." Charlie felt himself grow pale. "Scarlett and Fred have to get married in two and a half years. By the exact time Scarlett turns twenty and no later."
His words were met with complete and total silence. After a moment, Mrs. Weasley burst into disbelieving laughter. "I can't believe it," she said.
"I thought it would be cute to set them up," Charlie said quickly.
"Cute? They were nine!" Mrs. Weasley exclaimed. "And you didn't set them up! You made it so they have to get married!"
"Why didn't you tell us immediately instead of waiting, what, eight years?" Mr. Weasley asked. He looked angry and that frightened Charlie. His father usually left the anger up to Mrs. Weasley.
"Well, I didn't tell you because I was scared to and here's the other thing," Charlie said. "Bill found out and modified Fred and Scarlett's memories so they wouldn't remember. That way we could ease them into it when they got older. I convinced him to do it and made him promise not to tell you. I said I would do it since I created the mess."
"Yeah, you created a mess alright," Mr. Weasley said, leaning back in his chair.
"And how could easing them into it possibly be a good idea? Mrs. Weasley asked. "If we had known right away, we could have arranged something so that Fred and Scarlett never grew apart."
"Why did you decide to come back now and tell us?" Mr. Weasley asked.
"Bill contacted me. He said that if I didn't tell you soon, then he would. He said it had gone on long enough."
"Yes, I agree," Mrs. Weasley sniffed angrily. "I'll be writing to Bill, too, and having a talk with him."
"It's not his fault as much as it is mine," Charlie said. "Go easy on him, okay?"
"Don't tell me how to discipline my children," Mrs. Weasley said. She stood up and started moving around the kitchen again, slamming cabinets angrily.
Charlie suddenly felt even guiltier than he already did. "I don't know what I was thinking," he mumbled.
"So, Fred and Scarlett haven't truly spoken in years," Mrs. Weasley began. "They've grown apart and now we have to tell them they have to get married in a little under three years."
"Yeah, that's pretty much it," Charlie answered.
"You still could have told us sooner. Even if you didn't tell us right away, it would have bought us more time." Mr. Weasley looked at his son seriously.
"How much time do you need?" Charlie asked. "It'll take two seconds to tell them."
"Oh, Charlie," Mrs. Weasley sighed, turning to face him, "don't you think they deserve the opportunity to fall in love and more importantly, get reacquainted before they get married?"
"Yeah, we can't spring this on them in such short notice," Mr. Weasley agreed. "They'll need time to process it and adjust."
"I didn't think about that," Charlie admitted.
"How do you think they'll react?" Mrs. Weasley asked, directing the question towards her husband.
"Well, I can't really be sure about Scarlett, but Fred probably won't take it too well. Not at first, anyway. I mean, how would you react? It's going to take some getting used to for everyone."
"So how do we handle this?" Charlie asked.
"Well, I suppose we can have Scarlett and her mother over for dinner. We can tell them we wanted to get back in touch," Mr. Weasley began.
"No," Mrs. Weasley said. "We should tell Scarlett's mother right away. Then we could have the two of them over for dinner to break the news to Scarlett and Fred."
"Okay," Mr. Weasley agreed. "We'll have to do it before we go to Grimmauld Place, though."
Mrs. Weasley shook her head as a look of realization dawned on her face. "We can't do that. Tell them and then drag Fred away and leave them with no contact until school starts? We just said we need as much time as we can get. No, we're going to have to bring Scarlett and Jenna to Grimmauld Place with us," she whispered.
Mr. Weasley rubbed a hand over his face. "Okay, I'll get in contact with Mad Eye, Kingsley and Sirius. Molly, you write to Jenna. Tell her what's going on and tell her to come to Grimmauld Place next week with Scarlett."
"I can't tell her in a letter! That's so-,"
"Molly," Mr. Weasley said quietly.
Mrs. Weasley nodded and stood up, heading for the kitchen door. She took off the charm covering the door and flung it open. Fred, George, Ron and Ginny toppled over from pressing their ears as well as the Extendable Ears to the door. "Thank goodness for Imperturbable Charms," Mrs. Weasley muttered before hurrying away.
A/N: So I started writing this story almost a year ago and I wasn't going to post it just yet because I'm still working on it and working out a few things, but then I decided it couldn't hurt to start posting it now.
There are going to be references to classic stories and fairy tales (including Disney versions) throughout the story so see if you can spot them. I'm thinking of posting a list of them at the end of the story, too.
Disclaimer: If JK Rowling wrote it, I don't own it.
Anyway, thanks for reading and don't forget to leave a review!