Charlie Weasley looked uneasily out the sitting room window at number twelve Grimmauld Place. The moon— not quite full, cast eerie shadows along the streets. There was no colour; mere shades of grey and black that painted the picture of a seedy neighbourhood in London. Despite the protective enchantments, he could still hear the heavy London traffic that he knew started a few streets away.
“Charlie? What do you think?” Bill asked, pulling Charlie from his reverie. His hand- which rested on his chin, pulled away as he turned to face the small group of order members. Their meeting, called last minute, was to finalize plans for Harry's removal from the Dursley's home.
“I don't think we should move him on his birthday. The sooner the better,” he said after several moments of contemplative silence.
Kingsley shook his head, neither in compliance or in disagreement. “Either way, outside the protection of the enchantments, the death eaters are waiting.”
“Are we still using the Polyjuice Potion?” Charlie asked, needing the confirmation.
A young, bushy haired witch piped up from a large armchair shared by a ginger haired teen of the same age.
“Yes, but Harry isn't going to like it,” she informed the audience.
“So we've been told Granger, several times,” Moody replied gruffly not turning to face the two teens. Behind him, the ginger haired teen rolled his eyes. Moody's magical eye zeroed in on him.
“I saw that Weasley. You'll do well to remember it,” he replied- his voice even gruffer. Charlie knew better; it was Moody's way of teasing.
“Yeah Ron, don't you know better?” George replied sarcastically from the couch opposite his brother. Ron glared at his older brother, and crossed his arms defiantly.
“Honestly Ronald,” Hermione muttered, elbowing him in the side.
“How many Harrys do we need,” Charlie asked loudly.
“The twins, Hermione, Ron, Mundungus and Fleur have volunteered. Each Harry will be paired with an Order member,” Remus said tiredly.
Charlie did the math.
“So, I'm not needed then?”
Bill shook his head. “We've been planning this for months. We didn't know you'd be here.”
Charlie nodded in ascent. Silence followed. There was nothing more to say. It was interrupted however, by the shrill voice of Molly Weasley carrying through the house from the kitchen.
Everyone cringed, preparing themselves for the onslaught of Mrs. Black's tirade.
“HALF BLOODS! FILFTH! HOW DARE YOU DEFILE-”
“Oh, honestly. Shut it!” Molly Weasley snapped at the portrait hanging near the front entrance. Immediately, the portrait curtains swung shut and the painting silenced.
The twins shared a look in the sitting room.
Molly entered the sitting room, exasperated at the hour.
“Honestly. You were all supposed to be at the Burrow an hour ago.”
“Sorry Molly. The time ran away from us,” Remus said quietly. Molly grinned at him warmly, before turning a cold eye to her offspring and self-adopted children.
Seizing the moment while it was still in his control, Charlie strolled over to his mother. He kissed her cheek briefly.
“Bye mum. I better head home,” he said as cheerfully as acceptable.
“Home? Aren't you coming to dinner with the rest of the Order?” she asked, balking.
He shook his head.
“Well alright dear,” Molly consented before rounding on her youngest children. He didn't stay to hear the impending lecture. Instead he nodded his goodbye to the other order members and Bill.
Charlie sighed, trying to expel the tension that had settled into his shoulders. Everything seemed darker somehow since returning home. It didn't surprise him.
With Voldemort slowly taking control...
He sighed again- this time expressing his anger. His fists clenched as he thought of his family. His mum and dad struggling to raise a family while keeping everyone safe. The way his mum carried her enchanted clock around with her always.
A sharp crack— that akin to apparating sounded in a nearby ally. Charlie tensed and pulled out his wand. He walked slowly towards the ally, but stopped short when he saw a woman with red hair surrounded by a puddle of blood. She seemed to be struggling for air. Her hands pitched back and forth- her fingers twitching.
He rushed to her side, trying to choose which wound to tend to first. Without thinking, he muttered counter curses under his breath, praying to stay the bleeding.
“Expecto Patronum,” he said fiercely. “Quickly, get help. There's a woman bleeding to death.”
He turned his attention back to the woman. His eyes widened as he realized his first assumption of her hair colour had been wrong. It was blonde— but had been saturated with blood.
“Where did you come from?” he asked softly, as he waved his wand over her.
She opened her eyes at the sound of his voice- clear blue in colour, they startled him.
“Pl-ee-ase,” she gasped, spitting up blood. “Help me.”
“Charlie?!” Bill voice rang down the allyway.
Charlie, unable to turn away from the woman yelled.
“I'm here Bill. Hurry. These are curse wounds and I can't stop the bleeding.”
Bill ran towards his brother, landing on his knees next to him and the mysterious woman. His wand was out in a flash and he closed his eyes to concentrate on his spell casting. Slowly, the blood flow ceased. He opened his eyes.
“Is she a muggle?”
Charlie shook his head. “I don't know.” He turned towards the woman- her eyes still wide open. Tears had started to flow down her cheeks, mixing with the blood and dirt.