Playing With Fire

Chapter 33

Disclaimer: I do not own the world of Harry Potter.

Charlie and Tilly Weasley were fighting.

Not that this was their first fight since they had been married or before that, but this one seemed the most serious, the realest and the most interesting.

Tilly lay on her back, staring up at the ceiling of her bedroom, arms folded across her chest. She was taking deep slow breaths, trying to calm herself down but nothing seemed to be working. A knock on the door made her jump and she glared in that direction. "Leave it, Charlie!"

"You're acting like a child you know," Charlie replied and Tilly could hear the tension in his voice. "Locking yourself in our room like that solves anything!"

"Maybe it doesn't but it keeps me from wanting to hex you!" Tilly flopped back down on her back before she sat back up pointing a shaking finger at the door. "So just leave it, Weasley!"

"Look, I'm respecting you by not opening this door but I will in the next two seconds if you don't listen to reason!"

Tilly stormed over to the door, unlocking it and throwing it open. "He's your brother! It's you who should be fighting for this not me."

"Don't you think I care?" Charlie stepped back as his wife stormed past him. "Don't you think I want to stay? I'm doing this for you!"

"Then don't!" Tilly pleaded, spinning around to face him. "Don't do it for me. You're supposed to be his best man and you just want to skip out of town?"

"I just want to make sure that you are safe!" Charlie moved closer to her. "Tilly, Harry and my family, our family were attacked just yesterday! George lost an ear, Moody is – Moody is gone and You-Know-Who is out there waiting, looking for you. The best thing for us to do is get you out of here before it's too late."

"I'm not going anywhere!" Tilly picked up the nearest object. "We are going to get dressed in your best suit and my bridesmaid dress and we are going to stand there at the wedding and smile and make nice and everything will be just peachy in this part of the Weasley household! Do you understand me, Husband? What, what are you smiling about?" Tilly asked, frowning at Charlie and crossing her arms again.

Charlie nodded down at her hand. "You're holding a dust mop, Wife."

Tilly lifted the object, frowning at Charlie though her heart wasn't really in it. "I clean when I get upset. . . . Don't you want to go to the wedding?"

"Of course I do," Charlie replied, quickly crossing the room and wrapping his arms around her waist. "More than anything. He's my brother and I always knew I'd be there beside him when he got married. . . . But it's not safe here anymore and I need you to be safe."

"I am perfectly safe, Charlie," Tilly responded, placing her hands on his chest. "Your mum has put a lot of planning into this wedding, just as she did with ours. How do you think she would feel if we just didn't show up? How do you think your brother would feel?"

"If something happens –"

"Nothing will happen. There's no need to worry. I'm certain that if You-Know-Who wanted me he would have come after me and it's not like he's knocking at my door." She stood on her tiptoes, pressing a kiss to his nose. "Please, let's stay? Not for me, not for your mum, but for Bill. Please?"

Charlie sighed. "Fine. Fine we'll stay. But at the first sign of trouble –"

"We'll go, I promise."

Tilly smiled across the aisle at Charlie who smiled back before turning proud eyes to his brother. Bill looked so happy and handsome and Fleur was beautiful as always. Even Ginny and little Gabrielle were gorgeous. This was truly a wonderful wedding. At the end, the golden balloons burst, doves flying into the air.

Charlie and Tilly danced with each other during the reception, Tilly smiling up at him. Charlie sighed. "Cut it out."

"Cut what out?" Tilly asked innocently.

"You've got that smile on your face."

"What smile?"

"You know exactly what smile." Charlie rolled his eyes when Tilly shrugged. "That smug little smile you used to give me back in school when I procrastinated on an assignment. The one that says, 'I told you so but I don't want you to feel bad about it.'"

"Oh come off it, I have no such smile," Tilly told him, swatting his shoulder lightly. "…. But I did tell you so, Husband."

"Of course you did, Wife."

Tilly grinned, glancing over his shoulder. "Your little brother seems particularly awkward tonight."

"Ah," Charlie said, smiling. "That would be because Viktor Krum is here. Supposedly Hermione used to date him."

"That would explain it," Tilly replied, admiring the fact that Charlie could just tell which little brother she was talking about. "Perhaps I should –"

"No." Charlie grinned leaning down towards her, their noses inches apart. "Eventually he'll wise up like I did."

A light sped over their heads before Tilly could respond. It landed in the center of the reception, bring the music to a halt and silencing the guest. Kingsley Shacklebolts patrons looked around the room for a moment before it declared, "The Ministry has fallen. Scrimegour is dead. They are coming."

The screaming broke out then and Tilly was pushed against Charlie as everyone rushed to Disapparate. Charlie felt Tilly slip out of his grasp and he caught a glimpse of her as she slipped into the crows, wand out.

"Charlie!" He spun when long fingers wrapped around his wrist. Marguerite stared up at him, looking frightful, worried. "Where's tilly, where is she?"

"She's run off," Charlie told her, trying to peer over the crowd. He adjusted his hand, taking his grandmother-in-laws hand in his. "Come on,we'll find her and-"

"Listen to me!" Marguerite gripped tight on his hand to avoid being pushed by the crowd. "You need to take Tilly and go. Get her out of here, take her away from here, from England, keep her safe and - and no matter what do not let her come looking for me."

"But-" Charlie stopped, but only because Marguerite looked so terrified, a word he had never associated with her before. "She'll never forgive me if I keep her away from you."

"She will, she always does. But I won't," the French woman said, glaring at him now. "I will never forgive you if you let anything happen to her. Do you understand me, Charlie Weasley?"

Charlie nodded without hesitation. Marguerite nodded back before she too Disapparated. Charlie searched the crowd, pushing people out of the way until he saw the top of his wife's curls, grabbing her around her waist just as the first Death Eater Apparated into the tent.

They landed in her apartment, albeit a little haphazardly but only because Tilly was trying to push her way out of his arms. "What are you doing? We have to go back!"

"We have to get you out of here," he responded grabbing her wrist.

"But our family, grandmere, Harry, they need us! We-"

"Tilly we are not going back!" Charlie yelled desperate to get her to understand. "I know you want to help people but you can't do that if you're dead! Now please, just listen to me and go get your things!"

Tilly glared at him though it was half hearted; he could see that she was just as afraid as he was. Gathering up the skirt of her gown, she allowed him to quickly pull her in the direction of their bedroom to grab their things.

The front door exploded. Charlie grabbed Tilly, pushing her behind him as dust and debris scattered over them. They looked up, not surprised to see two Death Eaters now standing in the room. They backed up as the two masked men moved forward, nothing between but the couch.

"We've come for the girl," one of them said, voice muffled.

"Give her to us and we won't hurt you too-" he threw up a protection spell just before Tilly's hex hit him.

The spells flew, back and forth, breaking into millions of tiny fragments on shields and shattering that stupid vase Charlie had once broken. He kept fighting, conscious of Tilly's fingers gripping onto his dress jacket sleeve.

One of the Death Eaters Disapparated.

"Charlie!" Tilly said and he nodded, her grip loosing as she turned placing her back against his as the Death Eater Apparated in front of her. As one, Tilly and Charlie spun to face each other, Charlie shooting a spell over Tilly's head while she shot under his arm, surprising their opponents with the sudden change.

Both Death Eaters crumpled to the ground. Charlie and Tilly held their wands at ready for a moment, just in case.

"Body-bind?" Tilly asked turning to look at the man on the ground behind her.

"Yep. Stunner?" Charlie asked, looking at the man she knocked out.

"Yes." Charlie turned at the sound of ripping, slightly amused to see his wife using her wand to tear off the skirts of her dress up to her knees. "I told Fleur this dress was constricting. Let's get our things."

Charlie ran into the room, pulling their pre-packed backpacks out of the closet. It had been Tilly's idea; in case of emergency, grab the bags and go. He hadn't expected that they would actually be attacked here.

When he returned to the living room, Tilly was shifting through the contents of her old bookcase, now blasted to bits, pages littering the floor. She looked up at him, a small smile on her face. "I hate ricocheted shots. I loved this book. Grandmere-"

She froze and Charlie felt his stomach drop, knowing what was coming. "Tils, no."

"We have to check on her," Tilly said, despite Charlie's comment standing up straight.. "If they came here, they'll go there."

"Exactly why we shouldn't."

"I just need to check on her. I need to know she's safe."

Charlie handed her the backpack, biting his lower lip. He already knew what would happen and now he was just stalling. "Marguerite said-"

"Please, Charlie?" Tilly looked up at him with those gray blue eyes of hers, and he knew she knew he couldn't say no to her. "Please?"

MEANWHILE

Marguerite stood outside her home in Appleby, her knuckles turning white from how tight she was gripping her wand. The street was quiet, stars shone of her head, and the lights were off in her neighbor's houses. One light stood out, the flicker of a candle in her living room window.

Marguerite would never leave the house with a candle burning.

Taking a deep breath, she hoped against hope that Charlie had taken Tilly far way. She hoped that they wouldn't turn up here... At least not before-

Marguerite shook her head, walking up the walkway, her cloak billowing behind her. She raised her wand but the door creaked open before she reached it. She swallowed the lump in her throat and walked inside, clearing her mind and her face as the door closed behind her.

"A bit dramatic don't you think," she muttered addressing the eerie shape in her armchair.

The shape rose from the chair, tall, liquid like, predatorily, spreading its arms wide. "Welcome home, dear Marguerite," Voldemort said his voice paper thin, like wind through the leaves.

In the candlelight she couldn't see much of his face, but she could see his eyes, his red, soulless eyes. She flicked her wand, lighting the tip, but keeping down at her side. He stepped closer and she could see there were just slits were his nose used to be, his mouth stretch taut across his face. He smiled at her now, a twisted sort of smile. "You look as beautiful as the day I met you," he said, reaching forward.

She stood absolutely still as his fingers twisted in her hair. "You've changed."

"All for the better." He let go of her hair walking around her. "It's been years since I've last seen you."

"Nearly sixty," Marguerite agreed. She met his eyes as he came back around to face her. "She's not here, my girl, she's long gone, somewhere where you can't find her."

Voldemort tsked, taking her free hand, his long fingers wrapped around hers. "I was hoping we could avoid the insolence. I was hoping at you'd come to see reason. I allowed you my son, Marguerite," he said bending down to look her in the eye. "You could at least allow me my granddaughter."

"And have you do what with her?" Marguerite asked, snatching her hand away. She glared at him. "Turn her into a Death Eater? She won't do it. She'll fight you the whole way if you try to force her. What do you want with her?"

"It was supposed to be you and me." Voldemort stood up straight, eyes cold. "You were supposed to rule at my side. We would have controlled this world, together, created something new... But you denied me. You ran and you stole my son and you denied me. And now there's Tilly and if what I heard is true, she is as clever as you are and just as powerful. We will be brilliant, this world will be brilliant."

Marguerite shook her head. "Tom and I would have been brilliant. We would have raised a family together and it would have been perfect. But he was an impossible, maniacal man with impossibly maniacal dreams. Tilly is clever. She's clever and wonderful and good, like her father, and she'll see through you're charm."

"It won't matter." He smiled again, that awful twisted smile, his red eyes burning in the dim light. "I don't need her alive to use her power."

Marguerite's wand lifted on its own accord, sparks flying out the end as she leveled it at Voldemort's chest; not a real spell just a warning. "You will stay away from her."

His wand appeared in his hand, seemingly out of nowhere. He stepped back, pointing his wand at her. "I'd like to see you stop me, Ms. Baudelaire."

Marguerite moved first, forcing Voldemort back away from her. He blocked her spell easy enough, laughing. "You've grown weak in your old age."

"I've also grown wiser!" She yelled slashing her wand in front. The resulting spell sped towards Voldemort so quickly he barely had time to throw up a protection spell, which shattered when the spell reached him. He cradled his hand against his chest, glaring up at her. "Is this truly what you want? I will not be lenient despite our past history."

"I wouldn't expect you to be, Tom."

And there it was. This is how it had always been, Marguerite thought as he fired a spell across her living room. He had always been Voldemort. There was never anything separate between the two. The man Tom Riddle, the man she had loved had never really existed. The game they had playing, pretending to be a loving couple had always been just that: a game. And like a child she had gone along with it pretended that it was something real.

Tom was wrong about Tilly.

Tilly was much cleverer than she had ever been.

One of his spells hit her in the stomach, knocking her off her feet. She jumped back up as quickly as she could, in time for another spell to hit her shoulder. She wasn't as strong as she had been when they were younger, dueling in class. Now she was hurt and her strength was failing fast.

"Bombarda!" Marguerite screamed in one last attempt to gain the upper hand, maybe to run. It struck its intended target in his arm as he tried to move, just like all those years ago. He sank to the ground, shocked as he clutched his arm to his body. Marguerite turned, hurry as quick as she could to the door, knowing Tom well enough to know that he would have put up wards to keep her in. She coughed, tasted blood in her mouth.

Something wrapped around her wrist, painful, burning her skin as it tightened. It pulled her back just as she reached the door, flinging her against the opposite wall where she slumped to the ground. Her breathing was labored and her vision blurred.

No.

She wasn't going to make it this time.

"My dear, dear Marguerite." Tom's long fingers slipped under her neck, gentle as a caress as he lifted her head. She saw his eyes only, those red, slitted eyes... "Did you really think you could best me? This is no longer Hogwarts. You are no longer strong."

Marguerite stared into those eyes, remembering a time when they were brown and intelligent. "I loved you."

"Yes. Yes you did and that made you weak. I won then, Marguerite. I win now."

"You..." Marguerite gasped for air. She wouldn't leave this Earth without the last word. "You will lose."

He laughed, her Tom laughed, shaking his head. "Lose? To who? I am stronger than I have ever been so tell me who I will lose to. Some scared little boy? You?"

"You - you will lose because you're weak." Marguerite saw the laughter leave his eyes, the smile leave his face. "You are weak because you never understood what makes us strong, what keeps us fighting. So you will lose. You will lose to a little boy because he is brave and he understands love, understands what he's fighting for. You will lose to me because he won't let you have Tilly. He'll fight you tooth and nail before he lets you take her."

"Who?" Voldemort demanded. His fingers tightened on her neck. "Who are you talking about?"

Marguerite smiled. "You will lose."

Voldemort let go of her and she slumped back down to the ground, meeting his awful glare. He raised his wand, pointing it at her chest. "I will win!"

Marguerite closed her eyes, still smiling. She thought of Tilly, her beautiful, clever, kind granddaughter. Goodbye mon Cheri.

"Avada Kedavra!"

Charlie Apparated in front of Marguerite's house a few seconds after Tilly, just in time to wrap his arms around her waist, holding her back from the inferno that had once been her home.

"No!" Tilly screamed straining against him. "No! Grandma!"

Charlie looked up in the sky, the dark mark shining through the smoke. He let Tilly drag him down to the ground as her knees went out from under her, sobbing hysterically, some in English and some in French, her arms still stretched out towards the house.

A/N: What a long and incredibly intense chapter! I hope this makes up for my incredibly long absence :P Also I'm sorry for the amazing use of the word "clever". Someone's been watching just a little too much BBC :) Hope you enjoyed!

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