The Sugar Quill
Author: Hallie and Andy (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titllandus  Chapter: Part I: Charlie
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Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus

Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus

~Charlie~

Charlie sat in the empty Gryffindor common room, scratching his neck irritably. He was tired – he’d been tired for the best part of five years – and his brother’s never ceasing habit of turning up late was wearing thin. On top of everything else, he had a Quidditch match tomorrow morning. Groaning, he stretched out across one of the sofas.

‘Sleeping on the job?’ came his brother’s voice, as Bill Weasley stepped through the Portrait Hole. ‘Sorry I’m late,’ he added, brushing dust off his robes and rubbing his Head Boy badge. ‘Last rounds, and all that. You’re not going to believe what I caught Jeremy and Becca doing in the Prefects’ Bathroom…’ He trailed off, catching a glimpse of the look on Charlie’s face.

‘Mum sent this,’ Charlie said, yawning and reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a sheet of paper that Bill took and read aloud.

“Dear Bill and Charlie,” he read. “I hope that this letter reaches you safely, and that you are changing your socks regularly. Don’t think I don’t know you, Charles Weasley – given half the chance you’d wear the same underwear day in, day out for a year. Just like your father, the both of you.  I haven’t seen him for three days!  And no owls for socks, although he did say that he was all right for the moment…although I doubt he keeps his socks at work.” Charlie wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.  His mother’s brave front, whilst hilarious, was just that.  

I’m afraid I have bad news about Uncle Bilius,” Bill continued. “He was helping Sirius Black track down Remus Lupin – he hasn’t been seen for months – when he saw a Grim. I’m sad to say he died yesterday morning.” Bill tensed, and Charlie put a consoling arm on his shoulder. Bill had been very close to their uncle, who had made a success of himself, despite the connotations that came with being a Weasley.

‘It’s so bloody stupid,’ Bill swore suddenly, dropping the letter for a minute. ‘Hundreds of Dark Wizards everywhere, and Uncle Bill manages to avoid them, but then he sees a Grim, of all things…and he didn’t even believe in Divination!’

Charlie, though he denied it, was actually very superstitious, and a great believer in the divining arts. The fate of his uncle only confirmed his beliefs.  He placed a consoling hand on his brother’s arm.

‘At least he had the satisfaction of not being forced out of this world by the forces of evil,’ he said. Bilius Weasley had always sworn that there was no fate worse than death at the hand of the Dark Lord’s minions.  He resisted the urge to add  ‘Luke, I am your father,’ in the manner of his father’s favourite Muggle film villain.  He was pretty sure that to do so would be inappropriate.

“On a more pleasant note,’ Bill continued, shrugging. ‘Ron said his first word last Wednesday – ‘wand’-

‘Wand?’ Charlie said, spluttering. ‘Wishful thinking on Mum’s part, I think. Far more likely to have been ‘Ron’.  Bill smiled and shushed him, before continuing.

“I hope this is an indication of his magical prowess, but then Fred’s first word was ‘quiet’, and he is anything but. The twins blew up the kitchen last week, and Ginny is now teething on your father’s chess set – best not to mention that to him though, he might be a little irritated’ - well that’s the understatement of the century,’ Bill said, commenting on their father’s great affection for the game. ‘Percy is helping out as much as he possibly can – and he’s started reading your Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1, Bill. He seems very eager to get down to learning magic.

‘Sounds like poor old Mum’s been running herself ragged,’ Bill commented, giving Charlie a sideward glance. Charlie gave a slight nod, and gazed at the glowing embers in the fireplace. Bill read the rest of the letter to himself, only reading out the last paragraph.

“It looks as though Ginny will turn out looking very similar to – ” Bill halted and showed Charlie the parchment. Charlie saw that his mother had scribbled out the word ‘Ellie’, and had instead written ‘your sister’. “We all miss you here, and hope to see you before too long. All our love, Mum and Dad.’ Bill folded up the note and passed it back to Charlie, who smiled somewhat sadly at the way his mother had signed the note. He knew Bill would understand why he seemed so morose. Their mother had come very close to mentioning Ellie’s name, something which neither Bill nor Charlie could really take. They had been nine and twelve at the time – not really old enough to understand why Ellie had been killed, but not young enough to have forgotten what their sister had been like.

Molly Weasley had been delighted when, just over five years after losing Ellie, she had given birth to another daughter. Charlie, though, after being fraught with guilt over Ellie’s death (despite Bill’s assurances that he had nothing to do with it), had refused to go near Ginny when she was born. Fortunately, he had returned to school the next morning and had been able to get away from her. He was scared that if he got too attached to Ginny, she would die as well.

Bill put an arm around his brother’s shoulder.

‘Don’t worry, mate,’ he said, with a small smile. ‘It’ll sort itself out. And it’s not like we’re in any danger here at Hogwarts…’

Charlie didn’t reply for a few moments. ‘It’s not us I’m worried about, Bill,’ he said, sighing. ‘It’s Dad, and Mum, and Percy – everyone. We may be safe, but they aren’t, not really.’

Charlie stood up and walked over to the corner of the room, where a large circular mirror hung on the wall. He looked at his reflection sadly – there were dark circles under his eyes and his chin was flecked with stubble. He had far too many cares for a fifteen-year-old boy. He should’ve been playing Quidditch, chatting up girls, skiving Charms lessons. Instead, he was faced with this miserable anxiety. He felt stifled.

‘Do you want a game of Quidditch?’ he said suddenly, turning to Bill. ‘Just near the Castle, I mean, in case…’ He trailed off, realising how ridiculous his proposition was.

Bill couldn’t help but laugh at the glint in his brother’s eye. ‘You’re terrible,’ he chuckled. ‘‘Do you want a game of Quidditch?’ indeed. You’re such a plonker.’

Charlie smiled nervously. ‘Sorry,’ he said. ‘I’m a bit preoccupied, to tell you the truth. We’ve got our first game tomorrow and I really want to win. Just to prove that we can still retain a bit of normalcy, y’know? I’ll need to be up first thing to check the pitch.’

‘Well, you tinker with your own delusions, because I’m off to bed.’

‘I can’t interest you in a nice cuppa before bed, Grandpa?’ Charlie asked, innocently.

‘Shut it, or I’ll hang you from the torch bracket.’’ Bill grinned lopsidedly. ‘Head Boy privilege.’

‘Go on, off with you,’ said Charlie, giving his brother a friendly smack on the arm.

Bill winced. ‘Well, if it ever comes to a boxing match between you and You-Know-Who, strike one for the Weasleys.’

They looked at each other, and laughed. In fact, they got so lost in a fit of uncontrollable chortles that Charlie had to slap Bill on the back to stop him choking. They looked at each other again – both of them knew it wasn’t really funny. And they knew it was getting worse. But if they couldn’t laugh, what could they do?

‘Night, Charlie,’ Bill called, sauntering over to the door to the stairs and retreating through it.

‘Yeah, night,’ replied Charlie, as the door shut with a snap. He retreated to the couch and lay on it. He didn’t want to go back to his own dorm – Adrian tended to wake up screaming in the middle of the night about his parents. Charlie himself slept like a log, and had never been troubled by nightmares or premonitions, but the ghastly screaming was more than he could bear. And there was a fair bit of it around Hogwarts.

Instead he lay on the couch looking up at the ceiling. He wondered what his time at Hogwarts would have been like if You-Know-Who hadn’t been around. He knew it was selfish, but sometimes he felt very jealous of the older generations, who had grown up in safety and happiness. Charlie was just relieved that he had Bill. Out of the seven siblings, Bill and Charlie were easily the closest, closer even than the twins. Then again, they’d been through a lot together. Charlie would’ve been a superhero to get through some of his experiences without a reassuring hand from his older brother. Bill was possibly the calmest person he knew, and that was just the sort of person that one needed in the current climate.

Before he could expand on this thought, Charlie fell asleep.

*

Charlie jerked awake several hours later. It was light by now – bright sunshine streamed into the common room and lit up the portraits on the wall. However, it was bitterly cold. Shivering, Charlie rolled off the couch and pointed his wand at the grate. A roaring fire sprang up, and Charlie relaxed into another chair as it warmed him from head to toe.

It was after a few minutes that he noticed he wasn’t alone. A short second-year he recognised as Becca Rutherford’s younger sister was sitting in front of him, looking pale and worn. She had a simple blue dressing gown on top of her white nightdress.

‘You’re up early,’ he said, checking his watch. ‘It’s Ria, isn’t it?’ She nodded. ‘It’s a good time to get your thoughts in order, isn’t it?’ he said, looking out of the window. ‘I quite often get up early and sit down here to clear my thoughts. Couldn’t you sleep?’

She blushed very slightly, but still said nothing. Charlie smiled.

‘What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?’ She shook her head, looking up at him quizzically. Charlie was reminded of someone, but couldn’t think for the life of him who it was.

‘Never mind, kiddo,’ he said, smiling. Becca Rutherford was a Ravenclaw and a fairly close friend of Bill’s. She was like Bill in a way – funny, loyal – but also had quite the  temper. Until she had started dating Jeremy Little several months ago – Jeremy was a Beater on the Gryffindor Quidditch team - Charlie had been sure Bill was sleeping with her on the sly. But she was a lovely girl, and Charlie was fairly sure her younger sister would be no different. Funnily, though, they didn’t look a bit alike.

‘My name,’ Ria suddenly said, breaking her silence, ‘is Ariadne.’ She narrowed her eyes at him.

‘Charlie Weasley,’ he replied in a friendly tone. ‘That wasn’t so hard, was it?’ He had a nasty feeling he could be coming across as condescending, and so quickly added: ‘Ariadne. That’s a pretty name. Unusual.’

‘Ariadne was the Greek Goddess of Holiness,’ Ria said, bristling, as though she herself was a Greek Goddess.

‘It suits you,’ said Charlie, amused. ‘Well, your Holiness,’ he continued, with a slight grin, ‘much as I’d love to stay and chat, I need to go and check the Quidditch Pitch – we might have to change our tactics if it’s foggy.’ He stood up and smiled. ‘Nice meeting you.  So long!’

He waved cheerfully, before exiting the Common Room from the portrait hole. As he walked passed the Great Hall, he came across Niamh Finnigan, one of the Chasers on the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

‘Niamh,’ he said cheerfully. ‘Looks like it’ll be a good day for Quidditch.’

She turned and smiled at him.

‘Oh, sounds good. Do you have a Plan, Hallowed Captain?’

He grinned and tossed an arm around her shoulder, dragging her out into the cool sunshine with him. ‘It’s gonna be bloody marvellous,’ he said, as they headed, laughing, towards the Quidditch pitch.

*

Charlie glanced around at the six nervous players of his team. They had all donned scarlet and gold Gryffindor Quidditch uniforms, and each of them was holding a broomstick.

‘All right then, boys and girls,’ he said, grinning slightly to hide his nerves. ‘I’m not going to trouble you with the classic, ‘This is it. This is The Big One’ speech. We all know that we can beat Ravenclaw, good Chasers or no. We just have to concentrate.’

He turned to his Chasers.

‘Niamh, Jamie, Perry – just try and get us an early lead, OK? I know how good their Chasers are, but frankly, you’re better. They’ve got new Beaters this year as well… just try and keep on top of things, yeah?’ Niamh smiled reassuringly at Charlie, and Jamie gave the captain a brief slap on the back. Peregrine (or Perry) Williams, however, looked nothing short of terrified. It was his first game in a Gryffindor shirt, as he was only a Second Year. Charlie knew he had a lot of potential, though.  

Charlie turned to the Beaters. Jeremy looked confident, as usual. He and Mark were speaking to each other briefly. They looked up at Charlie. ‘Just keep it legal, yeah?’

The Beaters laughed. They were known for being unduly aggressive when the thrill of a Quidditch victory was in their sights.

Finally he turned to their Keeper, Alison – the second most experienced player in the team.

‘Good luck, Al,’ he said, touching her shoulder briefly.

‘Right then,’ he said, addressing the whole team. ‘Let’s go!’

*

The applause in the stadium was a little more subdued than Charlie had known it in the past. However, it was still loud enough to warrant sticking his fingers in his ears. He raced to the centre of the pitch, the familiar surge of excitement returning to him, and felt relieved when he noticed Albus Dumbledore sitting high up in the stands.

Madame Jeffries strode into the centre of the pitch clutching a large wooden box. Behind her swooped the Ravenclaw team in their blue robes. The Gryffindor team clapped along politely as the Slytherins and Ravenclaws in the crowd roared appreciatively, about half of the Hufflepuffs joining in. There was a lot more noise for the Ravenclaw team, that was for sure, but Charlie was unfazed. The Slytherin lot had never really taken to him – bar half a dozen, perhaps – no matter how diplomatic he tried to be when dealing with them. However, he thought, the way in which some narrow-minded idiots thought of them, a sort of ‘Slytherin = Evil’ formula, made him understand why some of them were quite bitter.

He shrugged. It wasn’t time to consider inter-house relationships. Both teams sprang into the air to do a quick lap of the pitch, waving enthusiastically at the supporters. When they returned to the ground, the Gryffindor team huddled in a circle, as was their custom, heads bent. They remained in that position until the whistle was blown, at which point Charlie flew straight upwards, Alison hovered back towards the Gryffindor goal, the Chasers sprang towards the Quaffle, and the Beaters followed, holding their clubs at arm’s length.

I love Quidditch, Charlie thought vaguely, as he headed for the clouds.

The game started well. Gryffindor managed to take an early lead as Niamh slotted the Quaffle through the Ravenclaw goal twice. However, some good Beating from the Ravenclaws prevented her third goal.

It was a very close first half an hour. Charlie realised soon enough that the new Ravenclaw Beaters were excellent. They managed to force the Bludgers right at the Gryffindor Chasers, causing them to peel off from their attacks. Perry, however, had come into his own in the last ten minutes. He appeared to have overcome his nerves, and managed to dodge the Chasers deftly to score a hat trick. However, by this time the Ravenclaw Chasers had notched up forty points. Jeremy and Mark were doing their jobs admirably, but the Chasers were good. It was a damn close match, and Charlie had a feeling it was going to come down to whoever caught the Golden Snitch first.

He thought quickly, and then swooped down so he was opposite Jeremy. ‘Switch to defensive,’ he called thickly, as a Bludger narrowly missed his head. ‘Try and deter their attacks!’ He swooped away before Jeremy had the chance to reply, but saw that the two Beaters headed towards the Gryffindor goal.

Charlie didn’t believe in time out. Besides, just shouting orders to his players from mid-air allowed him to get a good view of the whole pitch. He whistled past Niamh just slowly enough to say, ‘Hang back, but keep possession.’

However, Charlie hadn’t considered the Ravenclaw counter-attack. They immediately piled on the pressure. Their Beaters came forward and started whisking the Bludgers towards the Gryffindor Beaters. Charlie would have laughed if it hadn’t been so successful. It distracted Mark and Jeremy from defending and allowed the Ravenclaw Chasers to sail past Alison and knock in two more goals.

‘Sod it,’ Charlie said to himself, before motioning to his Chasers to resume attacking play. ‘So much for being Hallowed Captain.’

He span in mid-air, again narrowly missing a Bludger, and soared skywards, hoping for an aerial view of the pitch. He was just about to call to Perry when something gold streaked past him, heading for the ground.

Charlie swooped after it, knowing that the Ravenclaw Seeker, the somewhat sluttish Sophie Redman, was nowhere near him. If he got the Snitch, Gryffindor would win by two-hundred points to sixty, putting them easily on top of the standings. So they might get away with a draw against Slytherin…

WHOOSH! Charlie was forced to do a half-spin and a Weasley Twist to avoid the Bludger that came whooshing at him. He cursed himself – he’d been too busy thinking about winning to notice the large iron menace sweeping towards him. As for the Weasley Twist, it was a name the rest of the team had dubbed for Charlie’s best move – he would literally twist on his broom so that he was riding on the underside of it, looking up at the sky, and wait for a Bludger to pass over him. He would then perform an incredible one-hundred-and-eighty degree spin, forcing himself downwards so that he could fly off in the other direction. It often took him hours trying to explain this to anyone.

He had an idea. He swooped down close to Perry and whispered something into his ear. Perry nodded and sped off towards the player holding the Quaffle.  

Charlie, meanwhile, headed straight for the far end of the field, where the Ravenclaw Beaters were causing havoc for the Gryffindor attack. He raced right between them, grinning, and then whooshed away. It was not what he did, but the manner in which he did it. It worked like a charm. The Beaters swept after him, clubs in hand. Charlie had to perform several Weasley Twists and all sorts of dips, spins and dives to avoid being brained by the Bludgers for the next several minutes. They had taken the bait, though.

At the other end, Perry and Jamie were scoring goal after goal, because the Ravenclaw defence had fallen apart without the two Beaters. Charlie silently thanked Brutus Scrimgeour’s blessed dictum in The Beaters’ Bible – ‘Take out the Seeker’. Charlie had known the Beaters would chase him with the intent to injure, and it had worked beautifully, because Gryffindor were again ahead.

He jerked his Nimbus 1000 around and sped off towards the Gryffindor end. Alison had just made a nice save and lofted the Quaffle forward to Jamie. Jamie juggled it about a bit, passing it around his back and playing a square pass to Perry. Perry sprinted up the left side of the field, ducking a Bludger and avoiding the tackle by Ravenclaw’s right-hand Chaser. He looked over for Niamh on the far side and sent a beautiful weighted pass her way. Niamh drew closer to the goal from the right hand side, coaxing the Keeper towards her. She drew her arm back to shoot but completed the dummy, floating it square for Jamie, who had flown down the centre of the pitch, to put the Quaffle through the unguarded left hoop.

Charlie couldn’t help but grin. Like a knife through butter.

And then the Snitch appeared again. Charlie hesitated, noticing that Sophie was much closer to it than he was. Keeping his left eye on the Snitch, he just managed to catch Mark with his right eye, and indicated the Ravenclaw Chaser. Mark gave the briefest of nods, and then Charlie dived.

Sophie saw Charlie dive and then saw the Snitch, glittering in the air about thirty metres away from her. She was much closer than him. Feeling a surge of excitement at the prospect of beating Charlie Weasley, she spun her broom around quickly. She was about to dive when a Bludger came out of nowhere and almost sent her flying from her broom.

She shrieked, but managed to cling on. She sped downwards. She could still make it!

The second Bludger sealed Ravenclaw’s fate. It came from below her, and forced her to turn ninety degrees to the left. She raced after Charlie anyway, but knew that the Snitch was his. She swore under her breath. Typical of him to pull a stunt like that.

Meanwhile, the Gryffindor fans were on their feet as Charlie hovered in mid-air, the Snitch clasped firmly in his hand. The final score was two-hundred-and-seventy to sixty, meaning Gryffindor were in first place for the Quidditch Cup with a goal difference of plus two-hundred-and-ten. Charlie grinned broadly as the team hugged lopsidedly in mid-air, floating down to the ground.

The Gryffindors swamped around them, as did many of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. Charlie had really turned the game around with his tactics – nobody could argue with that. Charlie himself couldn’t stop laughing and smiling as student after student slapped him on the back.

It was the best feeling, however, when Bill sidled up to him and snuck an arm around his brother’s shoulder. ‘That’ll do, mate,’ he said, smiling. Charlie jumped from his broom.

‘Is the Head Boy even allowed to touch younger students?’ he joked wickedly, patting his brother on the back.

It was odd. With everything that was going on in the world outside, Hogwarts was sometimes in the thick of it, and sometimes a million miles away from it all. At that particular moment, Charlie wasn’t thinking about Voldemort, or his Dad, or the countless thousands who had died under the flaming Dark Mark. He ate, slept and breathed Quidditch, and no matter what the circumstances he would always love it. It was the start of a good weekend that was to change the wizarding world for years to come.

*

In a haze of scarlet and gold, Charlie and the team found themselves back in the Gryffindor common room. Almost the entire house was crammed into it, laughing, joking and swigging Butterbeer. After the game, Bill had obtained Professor McGonagall’s ‘permission’ to get food from the school kitchens. People were also fervently discussing the match, and how Charlie’s excellent tactics had paid off. In one corner, a group of Second Years including Perry Williams were prodding a figure of the England National Squad’s Seeker, trying to make him perform the Weasley Twist.

Charlie, meanwhile, was caught in the thick of everything. His time was divided between discussing future tactics with his Beaters, being slapped on the back by anyone who walked past, drinking from a bottle of Butterbeer and flirting with Felicity Moore’s – she kept glancing over at him and winking seductively. However, much as Charlie liked girls’ company (and indeed, liked to flirt with them), after the incident with Ellie he was somewhat reluctant to form romantic attachments. In fact, he kept his number of close friends to a minimum. The fewer people who were targeted, the better. In these times, it was impossible to know who to trust. For a fairly normal fifteen-year-old boy, this was not easy.

Also, his resistance of girls was made equally difficult due to the fact that he was not overly unpopular with most of them at Hogwarts.

For once, the tension in the room was milder than usual. Conversations occasionally lilted when people were reminded of the goings-on outside Hogwarts, but generally people were sitting back and enjoying themselves.

The afternoon passed quickly. At about eight o’ clock, Charlie was sitting by the fire in the common room, playing chess with Felicity. Sometimes he actually enjoyed the verbal picnics they shared. Bill and Jeremy were discussing some Defence Against the Dark Arts work, though most of the Gryffindors had either retreated to their dorms or headed for a late supper in the Great Hall.

‘Your move, Cap’n,’ said Felicity, having moved her knight. Charlie grinned.

‘It looks like I’m going to be able to take your piece,’ he said. His queen was lined up to take one of Felicity’s rooks. Felicity smirked.

‘Depends which piece you’re talking about,’ she said, ever so slightly adjusting her robes. Charlie just about managed to keep his eyes on her face.

‘That one,’ he said, as his queen dragged her rook from the board.

Felicity yawned. ‘You’re too good at this. Do you want to come upstairs and practise taking my pieces there?’

Charlie smirked. ‘Sorry,’ he said. ‘Prior engagement.’

Felicity looked wounded. ‘Charlie,’ she drawled. ‘You won’t get a chance to checkmate me with that sort of attitude.’

‘Sorry, gorgeous,’ he said, standing up. ‘You'll have to wait for someone else to checkmate your pieces.’

Trying not to laugh at the mixed expression of amusement and offence on Felicity’s face (few boys turned her down), Charlie headed for the portrait hole. He decided that he might as well finish some of the Tranfiguration work he’d been doing. They hadn’t started human Transfiguration yet – they were working mostly with small animals. Charlie needed to research Interspecies Transfiguration.

He was just about to leave when Becca Rutherford stormed through the portrait hole looking distressed. She had even forgotten to put her Head Girl badge on, which Charlie was sure was a first.

‘Becca? What’s the problem?’

‘Oh, Charlie! It’s terrible. Come over here, I’ll explain.’ Puzzled, Charlie followed her into the corner where Bill and Jeremy were doing their work. Both of them jumped up at the look on Becca’s face.

‘Becca, are you all right?’ Bill said, and he and Jeremy helped her into a chair. Jeremy put a comforting arm around her shoulder.

‘What’s happened?’ Charlie said, lowering his voice – a group of Third Years was looking at the group of them curiously.  

‘It’s Dumbledore,’ said Becca, frowning. ‘My sister said she saw him receive an owl at the Quidditch game earlier and leave immediately. So I followed it up – and he’s gone. He’s left the school.’

This took a few minutes to sink in. ‘He’s… gone?’ said Charlie in disbelief. ‘Where? Why?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Becca agitatedly, wringing her hands. ‘But it must be something serious. Dumbledore hasn’t left the school for ages.’

‘He wouldn’t,’ Bill intoned, ‘unless it was something very serious.’

‘And it must’ve been,’ agreed Charlie. ‘Or else he’d have told you and Becca about it.’

Becca and Bill nodded. Dumbledore liked to keep them up-to-speed on proceedings outside of Hogwarts. They had probably faced far more dangers than Head Students preceding them.

‘Well, what are the possibilities?’ Jeremy said. Charlie noticed Becca’s younger sister enter the common room as Bill answered.

‘The letter may have been from You-Know-Who – that’s unlikely, however, because Dumbledore would never leave the school prone to attack. Alternatively, it could have been from someone like the Longbottoms, or James and Lily, asking for Dumbledore’s immediate help.’

‘But they’d just come here, wouldn’t they?’

‘No,’ Bill replied. ‘It’d be too risky.’

Becca sighed. ‘Whatever it is, I hope Dumbledore returns safe and sound. Powerful as some of the other teachers are, they’d be no match against You-Know-Who and his followers. You-Know-Who has never even considered attacking the castle, let alone tried to. I guess a lot of people don’t realise how safe we are under Dumbledore’s protection.’

‘Were,’ Bill said darkly, glancing out into the night.

*

Charlie spent a while that night pondering Dumbledore’s reason for leaving. He dreaded to think what might come to pass if Dumbledore was defeated…but no, that wouldn’t happen. For one thing, You-Know-Who was afraid of Dumbledore, or so everybody said. Secondly, Dumbledore wouldn’t accept a duel from You-Know-Who under any circumstances, as it would leave Hogwarts at risk.

It was a puzzler. Obviously, Dumbledore thought that Hogwarts would be completely safe in his absence. He would certainly not leave if it were otherwise.

Then again… Dumbledore may simply have increased the complexity of the spells protecting Hogwarts. Maybe he had tried to sneak away without Voldemort realising he had gone… no, that would be very unDumbledorish. Besides, Charlie was fairly sure that Voldemort had his contact within Hogwarts, even if their identities were veiled.  

The thought that appeased Charlie enough to allow him sleep was that Dumbledore had been gone nearly half a day, and there had been no hint of an attack. For the moment, he had the impression that they were safe. All the same, he hoped Dumbledore would return soon.

*

Charlie awoke as usual the next morning, though many others in the wizarding world did not. He showered and changed, and decided to head to the library before breakfast to do some research. He was able enough in practical subjects – Flying and Care of Magical Creatures came naturally – but his academics needed a bit of work. Perry, who was keen to discuss the Gryffindor team’s future prospects, accompanied him as far as the library. They spoke about the upcoming Hufflepuff vs. Slytherin game, and what would be the best outcome for them. Charlie was happy to see someone just as enthralled by Quidditch as he was. Perry had a lot of potential, that was for sure.

He reached the library and headed to the back to find a Transfiguarion volume. He eventually opted for Advanced Transfiguration: You’re Going to Wish Your Friend Had Left You as a Tortoise by Furry Peterson.

He found a seat in the corner, and started reading, pulling his essay out of his bag. However, a little later on he was beginning to worry.  He had come to the library intent on studying Advanced Transfiguration.  And had been followed by Becca's younger sister, for reasons he couldn't fathom.  The dark haired girl, who bore no resemblance to any of the other Rutherfords, had seated herself at the table opposite his and was engrossed in some text or other.  He’d been about to return his attention to his work, which was still eight inches too short, when another Rutherford girl - the middle one who was in Ravenclaw...what was her name...Emily?  Emma?  Gemma...that was it, Gemma - sat down at the same table as her sister.  

Ten minutes later, Becca herself stormed into the library.  Charlie closed his book with a thump...was he wearing a Rutherford magnet today, or something?  It seemed that everywhere he went, they followed.

It was soon apparent that Becca was not in the library to work. She matched the librarian’s glare with one of her own and called the attention of everyone in the library. She had made sure that her Head Girl badge was easily visible.

‘Everyone,’ she said, in her ‘Don’t Mess With Me I’m Head Girl’ voice, ‘is required to report to the Great Hall immediately. There is a matter of some urgency that Professor McGonagall wishes to address.’

For a moment or two, nobody moved. They were too stunned by this pronouncement. Since when had Professor McGonagall called emergency assemblies?

‘Did you not hear me?’ said Becca impatiently. ‘The Great Hall, now!’

Elsewhere, Bill was issuing the same message – though a good deal more politely, it must be said.

Charlie’s mind was reeling as he followed Gemma and Ria Rutherford to the Great Hall. They were chatting to one another about what this all might mean. Gemma kept shooting backward glances at him, as though he was eavesdropping on their private conversation.

The Great Hall was teeming with confused students when Charlie arrived. He was surprised to see that it was not just students, but everybody involved in school life. Even the ghosts were huddled in one corner – even Moaning Myrtle had abandoned her toilet (Felicity had once asked if it was illegal to kill a ghost). Not only that, but the hundreds of portraits around the castle had attempted to squash themselves into the Great Hall’s many frames. Agrippa, Godric Gryffindor, the Fat Lady and Newt Scamander had found themselves sharing a frame with a rather vicious Manticore. The House Elves had even been forced from the Kitchens and skittered nervously in the Hall, avoiding the students’ eyes.

Charlie’s eyes were drawn away from this amazing sight when the door at the far end of the Hall opened and Albus Dumbledore stepped through.

The silence was instantaneous. Every eye turned to Dumbledore, who smiled briefly.

‘I appreciate how inconvenient this little meeting is, but I feel it is my duty to pass on the news that has settled on the wizarding world.’

Charlie began to feel apprehensive, even though Dumbledore was back. Somehow, he got the feeling that this wasn’t good news.

‘Some of you in the Sixth and Seventh Year may remember Lily and James Potter, who were Head Girl and Boy here several years ago.’ Charlie saw Bill stiffen. ‘Lord Voldemort attacked the Potters’ house in Godric Hollow yesterday evening, and I am sad to say that Lily and James Potter were both killed.’

Dumbledore looked very weary all of a sudden. Meanwhile, there was some sad whispering amongst Sixth and Seventh Years. (‘Lily and James – I don’t believe it.’ ‘They were always so nice to us.’ ‘When will it end?’). Bill, meanwhile, had sunk down in his chair. Charlie knew that he had known James and Lily vaguely in his first two years at Hogwarts.

But murders were common these days. Why call a huge assembly?

Then Charlie realised that Dumbledore had not finished speaking.

 

 

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