Playing With Fire

Chapter 10

Tilly was trying not to bite her nails.

It was a nasty habit that she had broken her third year of school but it would seem that it had come back.

She didn't understand why she was quite so nervous. She wasn't the one that had to be out there with the dragons. Those poor champions. Cedric Diggory was out there now. He certainly was a charming young man. Tilly didn't like to pick favorites and, perhaps it was just because it was her school, but she definitely was rooting for Cedric and, of course Harry.

She didn't really talk to the fourth year that much. Whenever she had gone to the Burrow for supper or holidays, he was either still with his relatives or he, Ron, and Hermione had stayed at school. The Quidditch World Cup was the only actual time she had met him and, since then, he was always rather solemn around her, as if he were worried or something.

"Ms. Riddle?"

Tilly jumped, spinning in surprise. "Oh . . . Harry," She smiled at the boy. "You startled me and it's Tilly. . . . How are you feeling?"

Harry shrugged but the slightly green tint in his face was as good a clue as anything. He held up his palm, showing her the Hungarian Horntail. She certainly didn't envy him but she smiled softly down at him. She was tall because of her grandmother but still shorter than, say, Charlie. Harry stood almost to her shoulder. "You'll do fine, I'm sure," she told him. "I've heard a lot of good things about you."

"Right, well, er," Harry started, "I wanted to ask you . . . well, I've seen a trophy in the trophy room a couple of times –"

"That's usually where you'd find trophies," Tilly said, smiling and getting a small quirk of a smile from Harry.

"Right – I was just wondering . . . you wouldn't be related to Tom Riddle, would you?"

Tilly nodded. "He was my grandfather. Why do you ask?"

She couldn't very well tell because of how he had already looked, but it was possible that Harry's face was even whiter. She attributed it to the fact that Fleur had just gotten called to face her dragon. Harry shrugged again. "Just – heard a lot about him is all. . . . I'd better go prepare myself."

"Alright. . . . Well, if you need anything at all, let me know okay? Us adopted-Weasleys got to stick together," she added in a stage-whisper.

Harry grinned, a real grin, nodding his thanks before he walked over to Krum. Tilly smiled back, before steeling herself to go out and face the noise.

She didn't know.

Harry watched Tilly as she left the room.

Really had no one told her? What was she, twenty-two? And no one had told her who her grandfather truly was?

Who knew?

Him, Dumbledore, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, McGonagall. . . .

Who else?

He could swear that was it and that was a lot of people.

He wouldn't say anything if no one else had yet. . . . It wasn't his place and he barely knew the girl . . . lady . . . Ms. Riddle . . . Tilly. . . .

Harry wondered if they should keep a watch on her but –

She seemed nice, really nice . . . nothing like Tom Riddle.

Tilly Riddle was none of his concern.

For now.

By the end of the first task, Tilly's feet hurt, her robes askew, her hair a wild mass of untamable curls and she had a headache the size of Hogwarts itself. It had gone well though and for that she was proud, even as she stumbled barefoot to the Three Broomsticks.

She screamed as she was grabbed up from behind, her legs swung over someone's forearm as she flung her arms around the offender's neck. "You nearly gave me a heart attack Charlie Weasley!"

Charlie grinned, laughing. "And here I was thinking I was just rescuing the damsel in distress."

"I thought you were going back to Romania for a little?" Tilly asked as they entered into the Inn.

"They told me don't bother," Charlie said with a shrug. "Said I'd probably much rather be here. Not a clue as to why they'd assume that."

Tilly blushed before she recalled something, jumping from Charlie's arms on the staircase before he could say anything. "I can't believe how stupid I am!"

She raced up the stairs to her room. All of her paperwork sat on a small desk in the corner of the room. She flicked on the small lamp, plopping down in the chair. "I have to get to work on the Yule Ball! I have to make phone calls to the band and make sure the catering is together! I have to prepare the decorations and –"

Her chair was yanked back suddenly away from the desk, spinning to face her friend, who had a very serious expression. "No."

Tilly stared up at him confused. "Wha –"

"I said no." Before she could protest, he lifted her up into his arms again.

"Charlie Weasley, put me down right –"

"You're exhausted," Charlie argued. "Practically dead on your feet. You're going to bed. If you put the Yule Ball off for a night, it won't hurt anything. You've got time okay?"

Tilly stared up at Charlie, a slight smile tugging at the corner of her lips. This was typical Charlie, the one who made her relax when she went crazy during exam months. Without him all of her hair probably would fall out from stress.

They entered the tiny bedroom off the side of the little living room and Charlie gently set her on her bed. He walked around to the other side, kicking off his shoes and sitting down.

"What are you doing?" Tilly asked amused as she removed her robes, leaving only her jeans and sweater. Now that she was on her bed she didn't even feel like getting up, not even to change.

"I don't trust you," Charlie said with a slight smile, laying back. "Knowing you, as soon as I leave you'll probably get up and go to work. I'm staying here till you go to bed."

Shrugging, Tilly laid back, her hair fanning out on the pillow. She looked over to Charlie who was watching her. He reached over and interlaced his fingers with hers. Tilly never felt more secure than when she was with Charlie Weasley. . . .

"Thank you," she muttered, sleepily, knowing that he wouldn't really understand that she meant for everything, for the last eleven years of her life.

Charlie yawned. "Anytime Newt."

The moon high in the sky, the couple fell asleep.


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