I am very very sorry to all those who have waited. I thought I had submitted this chapter and then remembered that I didn't because it was way too long. This chapter and the next were meant to be one chapter, but I had to break them into two. Sorry again! But I promise I will be faster next time! As always read and review!
The weeks quickly flew by and before I knew it December was here. Dorcas, Lily, and I were sitting at the Gryffindor table for breakfast when the post arrived, and our family owl dumped a letter into my lap.
Have you grown too old to write back to your dear old mum? Or perhaps you are too busy with the large number of detentions you have received this year? Yes, Charlie I do know about the detentions that school of yours keeps us very up to date about the amount of trouble you have gotten yourself into this year. After giving birth to three mischievous boys I always wanted a sweet little girl to balance things out, who would have ever guessed that the sweet little girl would actually cause the most trouble out of all four of her brothers combined? Although your father is quite upset (I am sure you are expecting the earful you will be getting when you arrive home) we are both very proud that we have raised such a bull-headed smart and kind young girl. I just urge you to be careful, the Potters have told me about all the bad things that have been occurring in your world, and I have read some of the articles in that magic paper of your father’s. It is families like us that they seem to be targeting, and it would kill me to see you get hurt Charlie!
I am sure you have heard about Harold Potter. He is quite ill, and Jane is quite upset. The Potters have done so much for us over the past few years and I have found it only right to return the neighborly kindness. I’ve been very busy the past few months with all the extra cooking and cleaning I have been doing to help Jane out, and while Jane takes Harold to the hospital me and your father have agreed to watch over James (and Sirius if he is there). This means that I expect you to be on your best behavior young lady! It would mean a lot to me if the two of you could just get along for once!
On a happier note your brother Luke has a new girlfriend. Her name is Lacy and I am sure you will be meeting her over break; she has been over nearly every day! I think they are becoming quite serious, and I would not be surprised if I would be planning a wedding a year or two down the road. I can’t believe all my babies are growing up so fast!
I Love You! (And I expect to hear back from you soon if you expect me to allow you to have any fun over break)
I quickly read the letter, and wrote a quick response tying it to the leg of Malachy all too aware of Dorcas’s grumbles that I was making her late for Defense.
What did you expect from the only Braddock girl born in centuries? I have a lot to live up to, and even though I try my hardest to stay out of trouble, trouble just always seems to find me. As for getting along with James, don’t worry we are friends now! Now Sirius, I can’t make any guarantees, he is the biggest git I have ever met.
School is going as good as you can expect for OWL year. Good thing I have Lily around to help me out with school work or I would never get by. I’ve made friends with Hagrid the gamekeeper, he’s very interested in the farm. He thinks it is pretty cool how Dad keeps both muggle and magical animals.
Zus and Jimmy are fine. They haven’t changed much they are still the super annoying brothers they always were. And don’t worry about Jimmy he’s doing just fine, he’s fitting right in with all the cheeky little first years.
Would it be okay if I ask Lily over for a weekend on break? She also wanted me to visit her for a weekend too. Please Mum!
We were headed to Defense when Lily noticed a small crying first year tucked in a small alcove.
“Lily you are going to make us late,” moaned Dorcas as she began her way towards the boy.
Lily bit her lip and quickly checked her watch. I knew she was struggling eternally to decide whether or not to tarnish her perfect record to help this poor kid out.
“Lily go to class, I got this,” I state.
“Charlie I am a prefect it’s my duty… Besides you shouldn’t be getting anymore detentions.” Lily stammered.
“Don’t worry about it, I’m just gonna serve detention with Hagrid again,” I say watching as Dorcas physically began dragging Lily down the hall.
I walk cautiously towards the boy, pausing as he attempts to dry his eyes. I note his Gryffindor robes, he must know my brother.
I sit down next to the boy, and hand him some crumpled, but still clean, tissues I found in my bag. “Hey I’m Charlie Braddock, Jimmy’s big sister.” The boy just hiccups and buries his face into his hands.
“I promise I won’t bite. Just tell me what’s the matter, and I’ll see if I can help. If its Slytherins I can teach you a few nasty jinxes if you like,” I say kindly.
The boy hands me a small article torn from today’s version of the Daily Prophet. It’s a small blurb, crinkled and tear-stained, briefly mentioning that Deatheaters had attacked several muggle houses in a small village just outside of London all occupants of the houses were killed. It took me several moments for the meaning behind this article to sink in, these stories were becoming frequently more common lately. The Deatheaters had become bolder lately, moving from attacks on muggles to attacking wizarding families. Usually it was those of mixed blood that were targeted, but occasionally a witch or wizard of pure blood would go missing. Wizarding attacks had become so frequent that the muggles ones hardly made the paper anymore. The world was becoming a much scarier and darker place. I stared at the boy and then back at the article, straining to see what about this article had made the boy so upset. Realization hit me like a load of bricks.
“Did your family live here?” I gulp, all color draining from my face.
The boy just nods his head, and starts bawling again. This time I warp my arms around him and allow the poor kid to cry into my robes.
I waited till he calmed down a little, I couldn’t possibly imagine what he was going through, and decided to take him to Professor McGonagall. Very slowly we made our way through the halls to the Transfiguration classroom where McGonagall was currently teaching the seventh years.
I told Bobby (I had learned his name on the walk) to wait in the hall while I fetched McGonagall. Students immediately swiveled around in their chairs when I entered, curious about who was stupid enough to interrupt the strict Professor McGonagall while teaching. The women in question raised her eyebrows at me, her mouth forming a thin line.
“Er Professor? Can I speak to you out in the hall for a moment?” I ask hesitantly, extremely aware of everyone’s eyes on me.
“Couldn’t this wait till after class Ms. Braddock?” she asked.
“It’s urgent mam,” I say.
Professor McGonagall gives me the once over with her eyes and then addresses the class “Very well then, class resume practicing on your stools I will return shortly,” and with that she ushered me out into the hall where she spotted a tear-streaked disheveled Bobby. I quickly stuffed the scrap of newspaper into her hands, informing her about the situation. Her expression immediately softened and she ushered Bobby into her office in a very motherly manner, sending me off to fetch Dumbledore.
“Licorice whips,” I stated when I reached the stone gargoyle that marked the entrance to Dumbledore’s office. I rode the revolving steps up to the door knocking upon it before entering.
Dumbledore’s office was filled with various whirling gadgets, portraits of previous headmasters, and I even spotted the sorting hat on a shelf. The room was very quirky and unique, and I could have spent all day gazing upon its contents.
I nearly forgot about the office’s occupant before Professor Dumbledore spoke “Ahhhh… Ms. Braddock to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Professor McGonagall requests your presence in her office sir,” I state, gazing at the Headmaster. This is the first time I had ever seen him up close and his twinkling blue eyes had me enthralled.
“Very well,” he says standing up from behind his desk and beckoning me back down the stairwell, “And Ms. Braddock it would be best if you return back to class I am sure Professor Morgan is none too pleased about your absence.”
“Yes sir,” I reply, stepping off the stairs and striding into the hallway. Hesitantly, I turn around and add “Er Headmaster? Could you please tell Bobby if he ever needs something or just wants to talk, that he can owl me or something?”
Dumbledore stops in stairwell opening, and scrutinizes me with his electric blue eyes. I squirm under his gaze; something about it makes me feel as if he can read my very thoughts. “Very well,” and with that he stepped down into the hallway, turning abruptly down the corridor headed to McGonagall’s office.
With that, I returned to Defense dreading what Professor Morgan was going to say about my lateness. I didn’t really like him much. We have had five different defense teachers over the past five years; none of them lasted for more than a year. Professor Morgan was not the worst teacher out of the bunch, he did know his stuff, but he was also a bit of an asshole.
As expected Professor Morgan stayed true to form, upon my arrival. “Ms. Braddock so glad you could take time out of your busy schedule to join us.”
“Sorry sir, I was just…” I began.
“Ms. Braddock I do not care if you were having tea with the Minister of Magic, don’t do it on my time. Now I will forego detention if you so care to help me in a class demonstration.” Morgan simpered, from his position from the front of the room. He had a bit of an evil look to his face, I could tell whatever he wanted me to help him with would either be extremely painful or embarrassing.
I almost took the detention figuring I would just spend it with Hagrid, but my mum’s latest letter nagged at the back of my mind so I complied with Morgan’s requests. I set my bag down next to Lily and walked up to the front of the room.
I had expected Morgan to issue some sort of orders or directions before he began his demonstration, but instead he announced “On the count of three.”
Expecting the worst I quickly began to mentally prepare myself for whatever he sent my way, there must be a reason why no one else had volunteered.
“Imperio,” Morgan shouted and instantly a relaxing obedient feeling washed over me. I knew Morgan was just trying to distract me from the curse or spell he was going to send flying at me next, he was notorious for using students as target practice. I quickly shoke off the strange funny feeling, and stared blankly at the class who were all perched on the edge of their seats. I noted Lily who was wearing a pained expression and wringing her hands repeatedly, she only did this when she was stressed.
“Jump on that desk and do a dance,” ordered Morgan.
“Excuse me?” I asked. Confused to what was going on here.
“Imperio!” shouted Morgan again. I gave him a funny look.
“Jump on the desk and do a dance.”
“Ummmmm no,” I say, is he trying to humiliate me for being late?
“Jump on the desk and do a dance. NOW, “ordered Morgan.
My nerves a little upset about my previous encounter with Bobby, I suddenly snapped.
“If you are going to punish me by making me humiliate myself in front of the entire class I think I will take that detention then,” I huff, storming out of room not even bothering to pick up my bag.
Lily found me during lunch break, sitting in an alcove staring out at the Black Lake.
“Remus told me where to find you,” she murmured as she sat beside me.
We sat there in a comfortable silence for a few moments before I spoke.
“It’s beautiful out there isn’t it?” I ask, referring to the winter wonderland beyond the window.
Lily nods, then pauses before asking gently, “What’s bothering you Charlie?”
See that’s what I love about Lily knows when I want to talk and when I just need companionship.
“It’s this stupid war Lily. Bobby McLane’s entire family was murdered and the prophet barely even wrote a sentence about it. Is this what it has come to? Who’s next then? Me? You? Dorcas? I’m scared Lily. I don’t think I could bear losing anyone. I wish I could do something. I wish I could fight him Lily. I wish I could put an end to this war even though it has just begun.”
“Oh Charlie,” Lily sighed scooting closer to me so that we were sitting should to shoulder. “This war is scary, I know. I think about it every day when I read the prophet. It’s not fair that we have to live through this, but there is nothing you can do to change it. Charlie you are fifteen years old, we have two and a half years of school left. There will be plenty of time for fighting when school is over. You are right, Deatheaters may come and kill me tomorrow, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. But for now you have to make the most of today because we may not have a tomorrow. “
“That’s just it Lily, if he killed you, Dorcas, one of my brothers, Remus, or even James I’d die. I’m not strong enough Lily. The sorting hat should have never put me in Gryffindor,” I say trying to wipe away the tears forming at the corners of my eyes.
Lily wrapped her arms around me before whispering “Charlie Braddock you are one of the strongest people I know. Look at you! You just fought off an Imperius Curse without even blinking an eye. You were there for Bobby today, and you are always willing to fight for those that you love. I promise you Charlie that when the day comes and we need to fight I will be right by your side. And I am sure Dorcas and that entire gaggle of brothers you have will be too.”
“Thanks Lily, that means a lot. You’re the best you know,” I say resting my head on her shoulder. “Wait…. Morgan was imperiusing me? Is that even legal?” I ask sitting up abruptly.
“I don’t think so, but when has legality issues ever phased him? He was right surprised when you fought it off like that. After you left he tried it out on the rest of the class, and no one else was even remotely close.”
“I’m sure he was right pissed that I stormed out like that,” I say, still in shock from what I just heard.
“More impressed than anything, most full-grown aurors have a hard time fighting it off like you did,” Lily states matter-of-factly.
“Must have been a fluke then. Come on Lily lets go have lunch I’m starving.”
Professor Morgan issued my detention at lunch, neither of us bringing up the Imperius incident. I spent several hours later that night in “detention” with Hagrid, helping him cut down Christmas trees to decorate the Great Hall.
As I was walking back up to the common room I unexpectedly bumped into Sam. “Wotcher Charlie.”
“Oh hey Sam,” I say distractedly, “What’s up?”
“Looking for you, I wanted to see if you wanted to head down to the pitch for a bit of last minute flying before our game this weekend,” Sam asked standing extremely close to me.
Sam was the last person I wanted to see right now, his annoying behavior over the past few weeks had not abated and neither had my irritation with him.
“Sorry Sam I’m really tired and have a lot of work to do tonight. Maybe another time,” I said brushing by him.
“I was afraid you were going to say that, no matter I really didn’t want to play Quidditch anyways,” Sam smirked, grabbing my arm and dragging me behind a tapestry of stampeding centaurs.
“What the hell Sam?” I ask, but instead of answering me he pulls me close and kisses me hard on the mouth.
I hate to end on a cliffhanger, but I had planned on this chapter and the next being one whole chapter but when I pasted it in here it was WAY to long. So instead I cut it into two, and the only logical way I could think to cut it was like this. I am very sorry:( But I promise as soon as this chapter gets validated I will post the next!
Thank you to everyone who has made it this far! There is MUCH MUCH more to come! I have almost all of Charlie's story written. As always please review!