Playing With Fire

Chapter 3

Disclaimer: Not mine.

November 13, 1986

Shaking her head, Tilly pushed open the door to the Hospital wing. Charlie lay in the nearest bed, reading something they called a Comic book, snacking on Bertie Bott's Every Flavored Beans. He looked up at the sound of the door opening and grinned. "Newt!"

Tilly rolled her eyes. The nickname, unfortunately, stuck after her tryouts last year for the Quidditch team. She was the smallest team member and practically the smallest third year. But it was really annoying being called Tilly "Newt" Riddle.

Thankfully, Charlie knew better than to call her "Newt" all the time.

"I can't believe you ended up in the hospital wing," she murmured, walking over and sitting in the chair next to his bed.

"I can't believe that jerk Bilferd hit me with a Bludger after I caught the Snitch," Charlie replied. He nodded down. "Broken leg. Poor sportsman ship that jack arse Slytherin. But it's fine. We still won."

"I swear, you are too dangerous, Charlie Weasley," Tilly replied. "I may have to take away your broom."

"Not at all! I live for danger! In fact," he said, sheepishly, "danger might soon become my living."

"What do you mean?" Tilly asked.

"Well, you know I've been working with Hagrid for a while."

"How could I forget?" Charlie couldn't have been more excited for third year. His classes included Care of Magical Creatures, Herbology, Transfiguration, Potions, and Defense Against the Dark Arts, all his favorite classes. History of Magic had been dropped so quickly that it was hilarious. CMC, however, was his favorite.

"Well, we've been talking and I think I know what career I want." Charlie grinned, looking up at her. "I want to be a dragonologist."

Tilly stared at her friend for a moment. "You're lying."

"Nope! I'm going to do it. I've already started researching and everything."

"Why?"

"Because dragons are cool! And it takes a lot of strength and hard work and bravery to work in a reserve. I plan to be one of those people."

"Why?"

Charlie blinked. "What – What's wrong? What's the big deal about me wanting to work at the Dragon Reserve?"

Tilly sighed, shaking her head. "Nothing. I just . . . I just don't see the reason to willingly put yourself in the face of danger."

"'Willingly put yourself. . . .' Tilly, this is practically my dream job! I thought you'd be a bit more supportive."

"You know I'd support you in anything, Charlie. I just don't feel like this is the smartest job choice."

Charlie glared at her. "So you're saying I'm being stupid?"

"What? No, that's not what I'm saying at all!"

"Look, Tilly just because you know you're the big shot Ravenclaw, probably going to be Head Girl, and you've got job offers set up in the Ministry and the likes doesn't give you the right to judge my job choice. Not all of us get a silver spoon shoved into our mouths."

Tilly was in shock. She hadn't meant anything like what he said at all. Charlie's face changed suddenly as if he realized what he said. "Oh. Oh geez, Tilly, don't cry."

She was crying? She hadn't even realized it, really. She reached up, wiping the tears away with the back of her sleeve as she stood up.

"Tilly," Charlie started, reaching out to her but she stepped back. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean anything by that and you know it! Come on, Tils! Tilly!"

But Tilly already found herself out the door, walking as fast as she could to her dorm room.

That Sunday morning found Tilly in the library buried behind stack and stacks of books, hiding from Tonks and anyone else who might be looking for her. Her head hurt because she hadn't gotten much sleep and she hadn't really eaten but right then she didn't care.

"I'm really sorry." Tilly looked up at Charlie, who was gazing down at her. "I never should have said any of that stuff yesterday. I didn't mean it at all."

Tilly nodded. "I know."

There was silence in which the two friends smiled slightly, all forgiven. They never could stay mad at each other long. Charlie picked up one of the books in her stack. "'Dragon Trainers and Where to Find Them'? Why are you reading this?"

"Did you know the closet Dragon Reserve is in Romania?" she asked him, looking back down into the book she had been reading.

"Good thing for Owl Post, Floo, and Apparating, huh?" Charlie asked, sitting down next to her. "I'd hate not to be able to stay in contact with you and my family."

"Did you know that a little less than half of the Dragon Trainers at any Reserve end up gravely injured or worse every four months?"

Charlie reached over and took the book that was in her lap. "What is this all about, Tils?"

Tilly shrugged. "You treat being a Dragon Trainer as if it's nothing, as if it just fun and games but it's not. You could get maimed or killed and you don't even care. Dad acted like that, being in Auror and all."

"That's what this is about?" Charlie took her hand, causing her to look at him. "You're worried about me?"

"Obviously."

"Tils, I understand it's dangerous but when isn't working with magic dangerous? I mean, look at you! I freak out every time you're out there fighting against the Bludgers. Ever notice my games a little off when we play against you?"

". . . . No."

"Well it is. But I know you've worked hard to get your position and you're good at it. You're careful. I promise I'll watch out for myself, okay? I might get hurt a few times, of course, but I'm not going to die. I keep myself alive just for you, okay?"

Tilly laughed, a faint blush on her face. "That's an odd promise to make."

"Yeah well. . . ." Charlie shrugged, grinning. "It's a promise I'll keep."

Charlie got to his feet, holding out his hands. "Let's get out of this dusty ol' place. I know you haven't eaten all day, miss, and Tonks is not at all pleased with you."

Tilly smiled, letting Charlie pull her to her feet and wrap his arm around her shoulders as they walked to the Great Hall.

December 20, 1987

"Careful," Charlie said, taking Tilly's arm as she stumbled through the fireplace. He helped her stand up straight. Tilly looked around, amazed by the coziness of it all. It wasn't that she didn't love her home but her grandmother was always busy at St. Mungo's when she was home.

Charlie's ears turned a horrible shade of red. "It's pretty small. I hope you don't mind sharing a room with Ginny. . . . She's only six and she can get pretty annoying and –"

"I love it, Charlie," Tilly reassured him and he smiled.

"Charlie!" The two teens spun as Mrs. Weasley rushed up, grabbing her son into the fiercest hug. "I'm so glad you're home! Bill's just gotten here. Oh, where's Percy?"

"He thought he'd take advantage of the Library being empty this Christmas," Charlie said with a smile.

Mrs. Weasley shook her head, a large smile on her face. "He'll make Head Boy no doubt. Where are my manners?" she added, finally zooming in on Tilly. "You must be Charlie's friend, Tilly! Oh he does go on about you!"

"Mum!"

"I see why too," Mrs. Weasley continued as if she hadn't heard her son. "You're very pretty."

"Mum!"

"Well come in, come in! Let's get you settled in!"

Bill appeared next to them suddenly, taking Tilly's things. "I'll put these upstairs for you then."

Mrs. Weasley and Bill headed upstairs, Mrs. Weasley murmuring about getting Ginny's room ready and hoping it wasn't a mess.

"Thank -" Tilly stopped, her eyes catching onto to the two pairs that were staring back at her. "Um -"

"Oh no," Charlie started, stepping in front of her. "Don't you two dare. I'll get mum!"

A young boy about nine jumped forward, a mischievous grin on his face. "CHARGE!" he cried.

Another boy followed him, his twin, and tossed him a toilet roll. "ATTACK!"

The twins ran forward, the toliet paper flying as the TPed the two older children. "FRED! GEORGE!" Charlie cried, tearing at the paper.

"Grab the girl!" The twins yelled and Tilly laughed as the twins grabbed her wrists, pulling her out of the toilet paper debri and out the door. This was definitely going to be a different Christmas.

Christmas at the Weasley's house proved to be a very interesting affair. It was loud and amazing. Tilly giggled as Bill pulled the infamous Weasley sweater over her head. She already had three others: A blue one with a silver 'T' on the middle, a grey one with Bludgers that zoomed across, and a lighter blue one with wands on it. She liked this one the best though. It was very Christmas-y, red with green 'T' shaped Christmas trees.

Her grandmother had sent her new mittens and a brand new winter coat, a light green one. Tonks had sent her a picture frame with a picture of herself, Charlie, and Tilly. The three teens waved at her happily out at her. Bill had bought her loads of Chocolate Frogs, her favorite candy. Finally, she reached Charlie's present, a small box that she opened hesitantly. Inside rested a plastic charm of a wizard's hat, painted gold.

She looked up at Charlie who was blushing again. "It's not much. I – I didn't really have much money to get anything this year but –"

Tilly reached up, unfastening the gold chain her father had given her years ago. Gently, she strung the end of the chain through the charm, placing it back on her neck. It was the best gift she had ever gotten, she thought. Tilly smiled at Charlie who smiled back, the rest of the family seemingly forgotten.

Tilly cried out as she was pushed from behind, falling against Charlie. "Go on and kiss already!" Bill yelled, laughing.

"Bill Weasley, cut it out!" Mrs. Weasley said, though Fred, George, and Mr. Weasley were laughing.

"Gross!" Ginny replied.

"Don't do it, Charlie!" Ron called over their little sister. "Don't get the cooties!"

Tilly's face was as red as a tomato and she looked down, focusing on her other gifts as Charlie attacked Bill, wrestingly across the floor.

All in all, best Christmas ever.

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