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“It’s not fair,” Lily whined, pouting her lips and stomping her foot under the table like a child.

“It actually is fair though,” Al pointed out with a shit eating grin. “You lost rock, paper, scissors.”

“But you and James can do magic! Why do I have to do the dishes when you both can finish in five seconds?”

Who was going to do the dishes was a common argument at our Potter family dinners. Lily always lost our rock, paper, scissors battles at the beginning of the meal because Al and I found a way to cheat. Typically, her incessant bitching caused my dad to take pity on her at the end and he’d use magic to do them for her.

“It takes a lot of effort to wave a wand, Lils,” I insisted causing my little sister to practically growl at me and then turn to our dad that was just trying to peacefully eat his carrots for help. He just shoved more vegetables in his mouth so he didn’t have to be involved even though we all knew he’d crack eventually. Fred snorted a bit in amusement at my comment into his pumpkin juice.

He came to our house as a refuge from his own since Aunt Angelina and Uncle George decided that tonight would be a fun night to experiment in the kitchen. Basically, they nearly blew up half the house in their attempts to make a salad and spaghetti. So while they were trying to rebuild what they destroyed, Fred was staying with us and Roxy was staying with Heidi.

It was actually good that Roxy was staying with Heidi because she’s probably the only one strong enough to restrain Landon against finding and murdering Tosh when Heidi told her family. Even though she could pretty easily hide her baby bump with a big tee shirt, Heidi couldn’t keep it a secret from them any longer and she knew it. It wasn’t exactly news you could send in a letter and if she waited till Easter she’d be the size of a bus.

“I bloody hate you,” Lily hissed, kicking me in the shins from under the table which only caused my grin to increase.

“Language, Lily,” My mum scolded half heartedly because she was more entertained by the whole debacle than anything. A crack sounded from the base floor where our front door was, signalling that someone apparated to our house. Only those that were family or intimate with the family like Hagrid or Luna were able to go straight to the front door. The rest were sent about a mile away for ‘Saviour of the Wizarding World’ security reasons. My mum looked confused, not expecting any guests, and turned to me. “James, can you go see who that is?”

I smirked and looked at Lily. “Want to play rock, paper, scissors for it, Lils?” I suggested sarcastically and she flicked me off behind my back as I left the room with Fred tailing behind me. To the rest of my family, it probably just looked like we were two best friends attached at the hip, but I knew he was coming with me because he was secretly hoping that it was Dessie.

The sod was practically tearing his hair out worrying about her. I personally think he was just being a bit overdramatic but at the same time I took too much pleasure in the fact that he was even concerned about her in the first place.

Even though I found their arrangement in which they snog each other’s faces off to be disastrous with an inevitable bad ending, I was still rooting for them at the same time. As Freddie’s cousin and best mate, I had to approve of the girl (or girls) he chooses to be with and when I’m not shagging, snogging, or doing anything remotely sexual with them, I enjoyed the company of very few girls at Hogwarts. They all squealed too much and focused a bit too much on who my family is. Heidi, Sydney, and Dessie were about the only birds besides my cousins and occasionally my sister that I could stand.

Heidi was clearly very taken and I don’t think Fred fancied raising the twin terrors that were going to pop out in a few months. Plus he saw Heidi as another Roxy with the only difference being that he could think about Heidi’s boobs without being incestuous, weird, and grossed out.

Sydney, well, I just don’t think Sydney is right for Fred. I loved my cousin but Sydney is too good for him. Sydney’s too good for everyone actually.

Then there’s just something about Dessie that is so perfect for him. She’s one of the only girls that won’t put up with his shit and he needs that. She calls him out when he’s being an ass, which is more often than not (to her, at least), and she fights back. She interests him more than any other girl and he just knows her better than anybody. I don’t mean the superficial stuff like what her favorite breakfast cereal is, but everything else. He knows when something is bothering her or when she’s keeping a secret. He can read her like a book and Dessie needs that. She tries to be so guarded a lot of the times and she has to have someone like Fred to loosen her up even if that means pissing her off in the process.

“You know it’s very rude to apparate during dinner time!” I hollered, hoping that it turned out to be her to put Fred’s mind at ease, as we barreled down the steps.

I swung open the door to see that it was in fact Dessie along with Tosh but they were both hardly recognizable to the point where I felt my gut fall to my feet just looking at them. I couldn’t help the gasp that came out of my mouth and I heard Fred mutter, “Holy shit” under his breath in horror.

Tosh had blood running freely from his broken nose and he was already sporting two black eyes and cuts covering his face. He was supporting his sister’s weight as she was clutching her ribs with one hand and trying to stop the blood coming from her shoulder with the other one. The entire one side of her face was so swollen that she couldn’t even open her right eye and she looked as white as a sheet.
Fred instantly pushed passed me to get to Dessie and I then rushed to help Tosh who, with the exception of his face, was a lot better off. “What the hell happened?” I demanded as we ushered them out of the cold and into the house. I felt physically sick to my stomach seeing the two people that I practically considered to be my siblings looking like they just got the shit beat out of them.

“My uncle,” Tosh replied with a harsh and bitter tone as more blood came from his mouth. Dessie remained silent, looking like she was about to either puke or pass out or both.

I hadn’t seen Fred look even remotely this worried since Grandpa Weasley had a heart attack at Easter when we were six and even that barely compared to what he looked like now. He looked shaken to the core. He looked terrified.

“Blazer? Are you okay?” He asked in an almost strangled way but just by taking one look at her, we clearly both knew the answer.

“Splinched myself,” She managed to get out in practically nothing but a whisper before she collapsed in Fred’s arms.

The hand that was clutching her shoulder fell slack and it was then we saw the giant piece of flesh missing from her shoulder. Blood oozed and ran down her arm at an alarming rate while her head drooped as she passed out. After that it was a lot of screaming. Me screaming for my parents and Tosh and Fred just repeatedly screaming Dessie’s name.

My parents came barreling down the steps followed by Al and Lily and horrified didn’t even begin to describe what they looked like when they saw the scene before them. It was all a blur, a terrible, paralyzing blur.

My dad started shouting instructions at my mum to help Dessie while Al and Lily frantically tried to help Tosh. They pushed him into a sitting position on the floor and I was surprised when he didn’t argue. He just watched his sister with dead eyes and slumped shoulders while Al performed all the spells he could to try and heal his injuries.

But while Tosh looked outright defeated, Fred was at this point hysterical and it was something that I’ve never seen before. “Is she going to be okay?” He shouted in a panic to my mum and dad as they rushed to stop her bleeding. He asked that over and over again while I watched at a loss for words. Her badly bruised, swollen face looked lifeless and the blood soaked through her expensive looking dress as well as the carpet beneath her. “How much blood can she lose?” He demanded, hovering behind my parents. “Uncle Harry!”

“James,” My dad finally said, glancing up and giving me a meaningful look, signaling for me to get him out of there.

I nodded. “C’mon Freddie,” I muttered and with a hell of a lot of struggle, I pushed him into one of the guest rooms that we had on the first floor. It was where Teddy used to sleep whenever he used to spend the night before he and Victoire moved in together a couple years ago and it was still covered from floor to ceiling with Puddlemere United posters and banners.

“James, dammit, let me out!” He ordered with his eyes flashing angrily after I waved my wand to magically lock him in.

“There’s nothing you can do for her, mate.” I told him, hoping it would calm him down somewhat.

He immediately started pacing the room, his breathing heavy. “This is my fault.”

“Freddie, there was no way you could have ever known.”

“We’re her best friends, James!” He shouted at me, his eyes blazing. “How could have not known?”

It was the first time he’d referred to Dessie as a friend. Actually, I think it was the first time he had ever referred to her as something other than an annoyance to him.

I paused for a few moments before responding. “You know how Dessie is. The only emotion she really ever lets loose is anger. She’s so closed off with everything else. She didn’t tell us and we can’t blame ourselves for that.”

Fred just shook his head as he sat down on the edge of Teddy’s bed and I took a seat on the floor with my back pressed against the door in case he got any funny ideas. “You didn’t see her face at Kings Cross before she left. I should’ve known then… I should’ve gone with her.” The words sounded heavy as if they were difficult for him to get out.

He was being irrational. We both knew that even if Dessie did tell him that her uncle was an abusive psychopath, she would have never let him go with her. Even if she did need him.
Freddie took a deep breath that sounded a little bit shaky and threw his back down against the bed. One of his hands was massaging his temple and the other was clenching the fabric of his tee shirt so tightly that his knuckles turned white.

“She’s going to be okay,” I said quietly as I picked at the carpet with my fingers. I don’t know if I was telling that to him or myself but I believed it regardless. He turned his face toward me but didn’t say anything. There was nothing to say really. All we could do was wait.

My first thought when I landed on the Potter’s doorstep was 'I’m an idiot'. Actually, that’s a lie. My first thought was most likely 'oh fuck' followed by a brief 'holy shit'. ‘I’m an idiot’ was my third thought because how could I have been so stupid to forget the first rule of apparition which was to focus. My mind was frantic and all over the place and I didn’t think. How could I with everything that had just happened? And I wasn’t exactly an expert in apparating to say the least. I failed the test the first two times I took it so I suppose it wasn’t entirely a surprise that I had splinched myself.

The pain of it was horrible but bearable compared to seeing the look on Weasley’s face when he opened the door. Everything had been spinning and going dark but the way he looked at me before everything went black is something I’ll never forget. No matter how much I want to.

Every part of my body, especially my ribs and shoulder, ached horribly when I finally came around. I didn’t know what time it was but the room was dark and the only light was coming from the moon through the window. I could make out enough to know that I was in the typical bedroom that I always slept in at the Potters. It was small compared to some of the other rooms in the house but still bigger than my bedroom in Cheshire and it was unofficially mine. I had become accustomed to the silky powder blue sheets and the simple black and white decor. The only thing unfamiliar about the room was the figure curled up in the armchair next to the corner of my bed. It took me only a couple of seconds to realize it was Weasley, sleeping soundly with his mouth hanging partially open.

The sight of him made my eyes well up and I wasn’t exactly sure why. I think it was simply the fact that he was there. I blinked the tears out of my eyes and glanced to my left to see a potion sitting on the nightstand just out of my reach. I attempted to stretch over to grab it only to have a sharp pain shoot through my ribs. I let out a whimper and clutched my side. I think the noise caused Weasley to wake because he was up in a second and crouching in front of me the next.

“Hey,” He said softly with his eyes washing over my face, taking in the bruises and swelling that was most likely taking over half of it.

“Hi.” I managed to get out roughly but it hurt to even speak and I hissed in pain.

“Ginny left this for you when you wake up.” He explained frantically, hands fumbling for the potion. “She said it would get rid of most of the pain until they could get the proper medicine for everything else.”

He sat next to me, careful not to jostle the bed too much, and held the potion to my lips. I felt like a child, weak and incapable, but I was grateful that he was there. It tasted horrible but within moments I felt some of the pain vanish.

“Are you okay?” He knew the answer of course but it was one of those things you asked when you didn’t really know what else to say. He gently pushed the hair away from my face and I considered lying to him. I considered saying that I was fine but I was drained. Emotionally and physically and I didn’t have it in me to bullshit.

Instead, I just shook my head and let the sobs take over. He pulled me against him and I cried. I cried for a lot of things. I cried because I was in pain. I cried for my baby brother who went through so much and was dealing with more than any sixteen year old should. I cried for Greta who had to handle whatever aftermath there was. I cried because he was letting me. And I cried because my life was so confusing and difficult at the moment but with him it was simple yet complicated at the same time and I didn’t understand how that could be. All I knew was that I felt safe in his arms and I didn’t want to leave.

I woke up the next morning by a soft knock on the door. I was curled into Weasley with his arm tucked around me and our legs tangled together and I felt him stir. The door cracked opened slightly and Mason’s head craned inside cautiously. Said head became a whole hell of a lot less cautious when said head saw his little sister in bed with a boy. The door swung open fully and I think Mason’s presence made Weasley wake up fully.

“I should probably go,” Weasley muttered with his voice rough from sleep as he sat up quickly. He glanced down at me and something about the way he looked when he just woke up was incredibly endearing to me. His dark hair was all ruffled and I couldn’t resist leaning up (despite my ribs protesting) and giving him a quick kiss. I think I surprised him a little bit but he kissed me back regardless.

“Thank you,” I whispered, looking him in the eyes. He knew what I was thanking him for and he said nothing but instead chose to give me another gentle kiss. My brother cleared his throat from the doorway causing Weasley to pull away. He avoided looking Mason in the eye as he scurried out and I bit back a little smile at the fact that Mason made him nervous.

Note to self: Weasley’s weakness is protective big brothers.

Whatever was about to come out of Mason’s mouth after Weasley shut the door behind him stopped when he fully took in my face. While they got rid of most of my pain, Ginny and Harry lacked the resources to fully take away all the swelling and bruising. I was healing but it would take a few more days before I was back to normal and I could tell what he was going to say before he opened his mouth.

“If you try and apologize to me, I’m going to take back your Christmas present,” I threatened and gingerly pushed myself up into a sitting position, wincing a little bit as I did so. He shook his head as he sat down at the end of my bed looking like a guilty puppy.

“I should’ve been there, Dessie.”

“You had exams!” I reminded him, exasperated somewhat.

“Some things are more important.” He muttered heavily, eyeing the side of my face that was purple and blue.

“You apologizing for doing nothing wrong isn’t going to help anything.” I huffed. “What I need is an update. How’s Tosh?”

“Fine, now that Heidi’s here.” Mason replied, sighing slightly. I could tell he was still feeling guilty but he’d drop it for now to humor me. “She flooed in a couple of hours ago and hasn’t left his side since. You know Tosh. He probably loves all the coddling from her.”

I normally would’ve rolled my eyes but now I found an odd comfort knowing that he had her. “Did she tell her parents yet?” I asked.

“Apparently. They’re not exactly thrilled but you know Mr and Mrs Scott. Heidi is their princess so they’re supportive.” I breathed a small sigh of relief before I remembered the other member of the Scott family.

“And Landon?” I questioned apprehensively.

“Landon will live.” Mason said, shrugging. “And I think he’ll spare Tosh a beating… Considering.”

“Yeah I guess Uncle Christopher kind of saved him the job, didn’t he?” I muttered, not able to hide the bite in my voice when I said my uncle’s name. Mason didn’t say anything and just pressed his lips together. I took a breath and closed my eyes for a second, banishing away the flashes of last night that kept creeping into my mind.

It was silent for a few moments before Mason spoke. “Ginny and Harry have handled everything.”

“What do you mean?”

“After you became stable last night, they went to Cheshire and did what they could. Fixed anything that was broken, modified memories, got your trunks, and dealt with any Ministry legal stuff to protect Tosh and you from getting in trouble for using magic on muggles. If they hadn’t got there when they did, it could have been a real mess.” He explained and I felt a great rush of affection toward Harry and Ginny who constantly bent over backwards to help us.

“And Greta?” I asked, stomach clenching when I thought about what it must’ve been like for her to have to witness everything that went down.

“What about Greta?” My brother replied not all that concerned and I remembered that he didn’t know what she had been going through.

“Uncle Christopher was kicking the shit out of her, Mason!” I exclaimed, trying to keep my voice from breaking as I thought about my cousin being stuck back in that house with that monster. “He smashed a fucking beer bottle into her and Aunt Elizabeth turns a blind eye to it all.”

Mason’s eyes widened slightly but he looked helpless. “I don’t know that there’s much that we can do, Des. It’s more complicated than we think it is.”

I knew he was right. If we involved authorities and got Greta taken out of the home, it would mean Oxford would be out the window. And where would she go? If our only options after our parents died was to go live with our evil aunt and uncle that didn’t even want us then I’d imagine that she didn’t have any options either.

“There has to be something,” I muttered, glancing up at him with pleading eyes.

“I could try some sort of protection charm?” Mason suggested I think more to himself than to me. “Something that would repel him from laying a hand on her without him realizing it?”

“That could work until we found her more permanent help.”

“I’ll go discuss it with Ginny and Harry, okay?” He said as he stood up. He placed a light kiss on the top of my head, careful to be gentle.

“Love you,” I told him sincerely as he made his way out.

He paused at the door to turn and give me a little smile. “Love you too. Now get some rest, alright?”

I didn’t really have a chance to get much rest because I had a lot more visitors throughout the day. I was too weak from all the blood loss to get up and walk around so everyone came to me. Heidi and Tosh were the first to come in almost immediately after Mason left as if they had been waiting right outside.

I was happy to see that Tosh’s face was beginning to heal. The bruising was still there but all of his cuts were mended and the swelling had gone down. Heidi, despite wearing an oversized sweatshirt and sweatpants with her blonde hair piled in a messy bun, still looked beautiful as ever.

“Dessie,” Was the first thing out of Tosh’s mouth and I knew, just like Mason, where he was going with it just by the expression on his face.

“You’re getting my money and that’s final.” I told him sternly. Heidi gave him a quick glance.

“We can’t accept--” She started to say but I cut her off.

“Oh yes you can.” I insisted. “Those are my nieces and/or nephews in there and I’m doing what I can to help. I’ll be eighteen by the time they are born and you can use the money to help give them what they’ll need.”

“It’s too much, Des.” Tosh said quietly, looking at me with his blazing turquoise eyes. What he didn’t realize was that I’d give him everything I had if it meant that he’d be happy and okay.

“Think of it as a Christmas present and early birthday present combined for the both of you,” I said, waving him off.

“Dessie,” Heidi said slowly while shaking her head.

“Heidi.” I replied, giving her a look that made her silent. I glanced down at their hands that had remained interlocked the entire time. “Let me do this for you guys. Please.”

I don’t think I’ve heard so many thank you’s in my entire life.

Roxy and Sydney were next and Roxy wasn’t in the door for more than half of a second before she rushed over to me to squeeze me into a tight hug that caused me to hiss in pain. “Roxanne!” Sydney scolded and pulled back my over zealous best friend.

“I’m sorry, I’m just happy you’re alright!” Roxy squeaked and then, to my surprise, she burst into tears. My mouth dropped open in shock. The only times I’ve ever seen Roxy cry is when her favorite player from Puddlemere United got a career ending injury and then when we all found out Heidi was pregnant so to see her sitting in front of me sobbing was fairly astonishing.

Sydney and I shared a confused look. Well, Sydney actually looked vaguely amused to be honest. “Rox, will you please stop crying?” I asked hesitantly.

“You were abused, you bitch! Don’t ask me to stop crying!” She exclaimed hysterically while wiping her eyes with her sweater.

I didn’t know what came over me, but I couldn’t control the sudden fit of laughter that burst from my mouth. Sydney covered her mouth to stifle her own laughing but it wasn’t long until she was cracking up as well. Roxy looked furious at us both before her face screwed up in a pouty way. “I hate you both,” She cried but then soon she joined in too.

It took a while for us to contain ourselves but when we did, and Roxy and Sydney were curled against me, Roxy muttered quietly, “I don’t know what I’d do without you, Des.”

I didn’t know what I’d do without them either.

Harry and Ginny came in a little later with lunch and about a thousand different potions for me to take. Another one for the pain, one to help the bruising, one for the swelling, one to help where I splinched myself, and one for the blood loss. They stayed in and talked with me for a while basically about all the things that Mason had told me earlier but in more detail. But mostly, they just told me that they were there for my brothers and me and that was all I needed to know.

Logan, James, and Weasley came in last and I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face when I saw them. “Well, well, well, look who decided to finally come see me.” I teased when they entered the room but I was mostly referring to James and Logan considering that Weasley was there the second I woke up.

“We would’ve come earlier but my parents didn’t want to ‘overwhelm you’ so we had to come in groups and everyone else called dibs before us,” James defended, curling up at the foot of my bed like a loyal puppy.

“And for the record, I didn’t get an owl until an hour ago.” Logan informed me sounding not at all bitter as he shot a glare towards James.

“Sorry I had more important things on my mind like seeing my best mate practically die right before my eyes!” James shot back, sticking his tongue out at Logan.

“When I got here you were stuffing your face with Christmas cookies and singing to Celestina Warbeck’s holiday album.” Logan pointed out, raising an eyebrow at James.

“We all have our own ways of coping.” He muttered sheepishly and I snorted and rolled my eyes.

“Glad to know you were so concerned, James,” I joked, nudging him lightly with my foot.

“Oh piss off, I was there when you first got here. Nearly tore me apart seeing you like that.” He said, suddenly sort of serious. He jerked his head in Weasley’s direction. “Should’ve seen Freddie. He was having a proper breakdown.”

I spared a glance at Weasley’s. He was avoiding my eyes and absentmindedly playing with a loose piece of fabric on his armchair from last night. I realized he hadn’t really said much since he came in which was very uncharacteristic of him.

“Most likely just worried that if I died that he’d have no one to irritate anymore,” I said, trying to lighten the mood. If Logan hadn’t been there, I probably would’ve mentioned something about him having to find someone new to snog.

“Ha ha,” Weasley said sarcastically but I saw him crack a little smile which made me feel a lot better.

I decided that they were my favorite visit of the day because they stayed and talked with me for a while. Not even about what happened either. We talked about normal stupid stuff like whether we thought that the spinach flavor of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans were better than the sardine flavor and if we thought that Filch was a virgin or not. (We concluded that he definitely was.)

Time flew by fast with their visit and it wasn’t long before Roxy, Sydney, and Heidi insisted on intruding, complaining that they didn’t get as long with me. It was then the seven of us together. Heidi and her pregnant belly sitting on Weasley’s lap on the armchair, Logan on some pillows on the floor, James and Sydney at the foot of my bed, and then Roxy cuddled against me. We laughed about dumb things and discussed quidditch tactics and plays. It was all so casual and simple and I enjoyed every second of it. They were so easy to be around that it felt like the last 24 hours didn’t even exist.

After leaving a house that was so cold and filled with hate, it was a truly amazing thing to be surrounded by so much warmth and love. Even though we all weren’t related by blood, everyone was family and they cared so much.

It was late when Harry came in saying that both Logan and Sydney’s parents wanted them home and until then I had almost completely forgotten that Christmas was the next morning. Heidi and Roxy were both headed back to their houses as well but both promised to be back as soon as they finish Christmas morning activities with their families. I thought Weasley was going to go home too but he told Roxy that he was just going to floo home first thing in the morning.

Everyone began to file out together, saying their goodbyes. I was hoping that Weasley and James would stay for a bit longer but Harry told them that I needed to get some sleep. I felt my heart drop a little when the door finally closed behind Roxy who was the last one out after she insisted on giving me another goodbye hug (thankfully a lot more gentle than the first one).

I sunk into the bed a little bit and stared at the ceiling. With everyone gone, I found a strange emptiness creep upon me and all of the warmth that I felt earlier slowly started to vacate my body. I pulled the blankets up to my chin and willed myself to go to sleep but thoughts and memories that had been successfully shut down for the past few hours resurfaced. I don’t know how long I was frozen in my bed, trying to think of anything other than my uncle’s face. It felt like hours and eventually I couldn’t take the loneliness anymore.

I knew I shouldn’t, but I found myself creeping down the hallway with my legs feeling like jelly. I passed the room Mason and Tosh always slept in and then Al’s room, and finally stopped at James’ room to push open the door. It was dark but I could see James sprawled out on his bed, dead asleep with his face smashed into his pillow. Weasley was on a pullout bed on the floor and I was surprised to see that he was still awake.

“Couldn’t sleep,” I whispered as I softly padded over to him.

“Me either,” He admitted quietly as I joined him on the bed. His arms instantly wrapped around me and he pulled me into him as if he had been doing it for years. I fell asleep within seconds.

Wow, okay so there it is. I cannot apologize enough that it took over a year but I really hope it was worth the wait. I’ve had a good portion of this written for quite sometime but just hadn’t gotten around to finishing it but I’m so happy I finally did. If you could please, please leave me a review to let me know what you think that would be amazing. I’ve missed all of you guys so much and I want to thank all of you that have remained loyal readers for so long. I love you to pieces. Xx

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