Hands to Hold You

November 1

Charlotte Cooper sat hunched over her small frame. More than anything, she wished to just disappear. Ever since she could remember really she had made that wish. She had always been an odd child, the one no one wanted to be around. The one who was teased. Since she was old enough to be around and understand other children her own age, it had been this way. She looked different. She acted different. By no fault of her own, she was an outcast due to the circumstances of her birth.

Eighteen years prior, her mother met a man with roguish good looks. The bad boy moms warned their daughters about. Only Susanne Hartman had not taken her mom's advice. Nor her girlfriends. Nor her coworkers. Instead the lonely school teacher had flirted at the pub with the Romani laborers that bounced from town to town following the work available. One in particular caught her eye; Lash Cooper was reckless. Oh, Susanne knew he had a girl in every town, but she did not care. Neither did Lash, who wanted nothing more than a warm bed and warmer body to pass his nights.

As luck would have it, or at least Charlotte's luck, her mother fell pregnant and in due time a baby girl with dark chocolate curls, blue almost black, eyes, and olive skin came into the world. Susanne had expected little of Lash, which was good as Lash provided very little. He did come around to visit his little daughter some, but she was not born of an acceptable mother in the eyes of his family. So Susanne took what she could and raised her daughter to expect very little from her father. He had at least allowed the child his family name, and a father for the birth registry. His family grudgingly acknowledged the child.

The only problem was, Lash had a secret - one that would turn Charlotte's little life upside down - Lash was a wizard. It was not overly uncommon in the Romany culture, and was accepted easily as families married within their circles. Theses circles included several wizarding families. Lash held his tongue with Susanne about this fact even after little Charlotte was born.

Charlotte grew up as well as any child of the town loose skirt could. She was always the outcast, the child on the periphery. Never accepted by the other parents, she was forever excluded from games at the playground in preschool, never attended a birthday or slumber party. New families that came to town were warned away from the child, and the whispers always followed the girl. The town slag and the gypsy heartbreaker had produced an unholy creation.

It did not help that by the age of two, strange things happened around the child. A fall off the slide that would have broken bones on the neighbor kids caused her no harm. She attracted the attention of every bird and beast she saw. Children that taunted her got hurt when they turned their backs. Locked doors would open for the child. The list went on and on. Susanne ignored the strange things, teasingly calling it her daughter's gypsy luck. The town's people called it a curse for a child that never should have never been born.

Then things changed when Charlotte was five. Lash happened to be around for one of his few and far between visits with the child, or more than likely, the mother. He had brought her a gift, a new doll with exotic, coffee colored curls like Charlotte's. The older neighborhood children, seeing Charlotte's joy, grabbed the doll and broke the beautiful porcelain face. Lash ran the children off, but not before the damage was done. Charlotte picked up the pieces of the treasured gift from her father and held them close. She cried wishing with all of her heart that the doll could be whole again. Lash approached her and pulled the doll from her arms, intending on hiding the broken gift from her. Only, the doll was not broke. The previously shattered face was repaired. More than repaired, it was perfect once again.

Like eyes met, and Lash wiped away her tears. "Child, how did this happen?"

Charlotte shrugged her shoulders. "I wished for it."

Lash looked again at the doll. "Do you make a lot of things happen when you wish for them?"

Charlotte shrugged again. "Sometimes, if I really want it."

Lash smiled at the child. He patted her head and handed her the doll back. "Go. Play. I must speak to your mother."

Charlotte took the doll, smiled at her father and ran back into the house. Lash sighed and turned towards the door to follow. He had a long, hard conversation to have with Susanne. One he was sure would not end well.

To say Susanne was a skeptic was an understatement. It took hours for Lash to convince her magic was real. Even longer to convince her that Charlotte was a witch, and even more to allow the child to go back with him to his family for a while. She finally conceded when Lash insisted that the child be taught about the other half of her heritage. With that, Charlotte was packed up and brought back to the family for the first of several summers.

Lash was regularly gone. She was left to the communal family to be raise along with the gaggle of other children, but still she was an outsider. Not full-blood Romani, she was ostracized by her peers once again. The grandmother was a harsh taskmaster, teaching the magical children their lessons. With a wand in hand, the woman was not to be trifled with. She would send a stinging hex if she thought you were not trying hard enough.

Charlotte's saving grace was that she was a good student. For all of her mother's faults, Susanne was an excellent teacher. It was probably why her lifestyle had been tolerated in their town all of these years. Charlotte, always trying to please her mother, excelled at learning. The grandmother praised the child for her hard work and diligence to her magic, making the other children hate her even more. Yet, the more they cast her out, the more Charlotte thrived at magic. They had created their own competition. Charlotte, with nothing to do after her chores were completed, studied magic. The more they left her out, the more time she had to learn.

Per their agreement, Charlotte always returned to her mother at the end of the summer. She insisted that Charlotte go to school. She was smart and would go far. To prevent losing all contact and involving the police, Lash complied. So Charlotte learned Romani ways during the summer, and Christmas and Easter holidays in the mobile caravan and went to school every fall, winter and spring. Until that one fateful winter day, when she was ten.

The family came to Susanne with the tale of Lash's death. He had finally fell victim to his wayward habits having been caught in the bed of another man's wife. The jealous husband had pulled out a gun and shot him and his lover dead. The family took Charlotte to attend the funeral and wake, and stayed for two weeks before returning home, never to see the family again.

The letter from Hogwarts was a shock. Of course, every Romani wizarding child born in England received a letter. Most were returned with a note that the child would not be attending and would be homeschooled by the family. When Minerva McGonagall reviewed her list of students that had not responded to their letters, she expected the Cooper girl to be the same. She was not labeled as a muggleborn. Maybe the girl was traveling with her family and the correspondence had not caught up with the child yet. After a few weeks, McGonagall finally took the time to look at the address. The child lived in a muggle town, in a muggle house, not the vagabond addresses of most of the Romani children.

So McGonagall investigated, finding a half-Romani child abandoned by her father's wizarding family, living with her muggle mother. After more convincing, and hours of crying on Susanne's part, Charlotte was off to Hogwarts hoping for a new beginning.

But old prejudice die hard, and Romani witches and wizards were shunned in the covert British wizarding world as well. Being half-Romani was considered just as bad as being full. The Romani's hatred of the rules, teaching magic young and incompletely, and noncommittal to either the side of darkness or light set them apart. Their allegiances lie where it was most profitable to them.

Most of the staff was surprised when Charlotte was sorted into Ravenclaw, as opposed to Slytherin. But Charlotte was a Ravenclaw, through and through. She excelled at her classes, caught onto coursework quickly, and showed a strong magical ability. Ravenclaws were a jealous lot. Every one of them wanted to be the best. Sure, Charlotte studied hard, but knowledge came to her as easy as breathing, and this alone was enough to cause a rift between her and her peers once again.

The crux of the matter was that friendships did not come easily. She was always the girl on the outside looking in. Naturally beautiful, she was a magnet for the boys in the school, but because she was taught from a young age that the men in her life were fleeting, she did not trust or believe what they said. Being smart, she realized her mother's mistakes and shied away from the boys' advances. After years of being bullied, she had developed a standoffish personality as a defense mechanism against being hurt. She would always be the shy girl that no one could become close to. Even her mother was an enigma to the child. As an only child of a single mother, they should have been close, but Susanne had become afraid of her daughter after learning about magic.

The one exception was a fellow classmate and Ravenclaw named Gillian Grey. She was bright, pretty and quick to smile. She alone had taken the time to pull her shy roommate out of her self-imposed shell. Gillie could have cared less if her father had been a troll. She only care that her roommate needed a friend and Gillian Grey never stood down from a challenge.

With all of her triumphs at academics, tragedy still plagued the girl's personal life. When Charlotte was fourteen, her mother died. Too many years in the pub had finally caught up with Susanne, and she crashed her car on her way home one night. She survived for three days before she dying of her injuries, with Charlotte at her side having been pulled from classes two days earlier. The week after was a blur to the girl. She sat diligently with her mother's family as they prepared to say goodbye.

After the funeral, Charlotte's care was debated. Several family members turned down the request to raise for the child even just for the summers. Finally, her Great Aunt Agnes had conceded. Charlotte went back to Hogwarts to complete the school year and arrived at King's Cross that June to be collected by her aunt's maid. Charlotte lived like a ghost in the walls of the timeworn manor, staying out of the old woman's way. Charlotte's mother had never told her family about Charlotte being a witch, and Charlotte, not wanting to be singled out even more, did not let her aunt know either. As far as the elderly muggle was concerned, Charlotte attended a prestigious, exclusive school in Scotland on scholarship. She cared very little for the particulars only that Charlotte did well with her studies and did not get into trouble. The second was the greatest concern of Aunt Agnes, due to worries about the influence of the girl's father and the wild blood that ran through her veins.

So Charlotte continued to exist. She went to Diagon Alley, bought her school books with the small inheritance her mother had left, and went to school. She studied hard, made good grades, stayed out of trouble, and lived on the fringes of her peers.

Until May of last year, after a horrible year watching the Carrows and Snape terrorize the school, they had been ousted. Harry Potter was back and they were ready to fight. Charlotte stood on a pinnacle; evacuate with the younger students, or stay and fight. Gillian grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the younger years, intending to collect her brother and sister, but Charlotte stopped and pulled away. Her friend turned back and saw the determination in her dark eyes. After years of prejudice against her, Charlotte Cooper, the half-Romani witch, was going to stand up to those that were hurting people just because they were born to the wrong parents.

Gillian looked at her siblings and then to her friend.

"Go!" Charlotte had commanded, "Take care of your family."

The unspoken truth was there. Charlotte had no one that would truly miss her if she was killed. Gillian pulled her friend into her arms and held her tight. "Don't get hurt."

Charlotte nodded at her friend. Gillian ran to her siblings, grabbed their hands and walked out the door of the Great Hall to get her family to safety.

Charlotte had not imagined what she would face that night in the castle as the battle of all battles raged around her. She had been assigned to Madam Pomfrey to help with the injured. The casualties were gruesome. Students she had known for years were dead. Others maimed badly and blood was everywhere. She worked through the brief respite the other side had granted, when the magical voice of the darkest of wizards had proclaimed his victory at the death of the boy who lived, Charlotte lost hope. Crumbling, she continued to render aide even though she thought her death was at hand.

Then a ray of hope. A brave Gryffindor, a mob of reinforcements, and the joining of the magical beings had turned the tide. Then Harry Potter was alive and fighting. Charlotte had kneeled over the body of an injured student next to the wall shielding him from curses flying pell-mell around them. And it was over. Voldemort lay dead on the floor and Harry Potter stood victorious.

Her celebration was short lived. There were so many who were injured. She worked for 72 hours straight until healers from St. Mungo's had arrived and relieved them. People sought comfort with friends and family. Charlotte stood alone surrounded by the chaos.

Time went forward. The students went home to families, relieved that they were safe and alive. Charlotte returned to her mother's family who had no idea what she had just survived.

Gillian frantically looked for Charlotte after the battle. She had gotten her siblings home and wanted to return, only to be stopped by her family. For a month she tried to get word of her friend's fate. Finally, her father was able to track down the list of students that had been sent home on the Hogwarts' Express a week after the battle. Charlotte Cooper appeared on this list as returning to a muggle aunt in Bristol. With a sigh of relief, Gillian turned her focus on her younger sister who was having nightmares every time there was a thunderstorm.

Charlotte was left on her own to deal with the aftermath of the final battle, with no one to confide in about what she had been through. No one who could listen to her talk about what had happened within the walls of Hogwarts during the first few days of May. The long summer did nothing to help. She was alone as usual. Her own mind, sharp and strong, allowed her to fall deep within a pit of misery. She had nightmares and flashbacks of the battle. After the third night she had woken up the very irritated maid, she began to cast silencing charms around her room to prevent anyone from hearing her screams. She spiraled deeper and deeper into despair.

The letters started in June. The Ministry was trying to track down their population. Being a diligent, responsible person, Charlotte completed the forms and returned them. When asked if she had any needs, the young woman who had always taken care of herself had checked the box for no.

In August another letter arrived. A procreation law had been established. Again Charlotte completed forms G1, G2 and G3. She had no real concerns. Romani half-breeds with cursed blood would surely be excluded. No family would allow such a disgrace to be married to their son.

Oh, how wrong she had been. Now, on 1 November, Charlotte Cooper sat with her arms wrapped around her chest to hold herself together clutching the unopened letter in her hand. A few others around the school had also received official ministry post. All of them contained the name of their new fiancés. Charlotte rocked her body back and forth, trying to come to terms with what she faced. Her unholy, cursed blood would be combined with some poor soul to create another cursed being. For the first time in her life, Charlotte had wished she had never been born.

Gillian watched her friend cautiously. She did not envy her friend. Gillian had luckily been dating her boyfriend, Ben for over two years. They had been granted a three year allowance to see how their relationship progressed. She worried about her fellow students' fates, none more so than the girl in front of her.

Since they had returned, Charlotte had, almost impossibly, became more withdrawn. Forever focused, she now spent hours looking off into space, not really seeing anything in front of her. Like many that stayed for the final battle, Charlotte changed. While most had family that noticed over the summer and had gotten them help, Charlotte's family had not. Gillian finally spoken with Professor Flitwick last week. Just yesterday, the tiny man kept Gillian after class to tell her he had watched Charlotte over the week and came to a similar conclusion. He was looking into help for the girl and would get back with her soon. His immediate concern was whether Charlotte was a danger to herself. Gillian thought she was not that far gone, but would keep an eye on her just to be safe.

Gillian continued to watch her friend, and not able to handle the suspense any longer finally had to speak up, "are you going to open that?"

Charlotte slowly focused on her friend. Gillian could tell that she still had not really understood the question. Gillian sighed exasperatedly and pulled the envelope from her hand. Charlotte showed no more concern, other than to pull her arms closer. Gillian sighed, shook her head and focused on the letter. She broke the official seal and removed the stack of paperwork within. She quickly scanned through the letter skipping most of the legal explanations that they had to endure the past few letters.

Finally, halfway down the second page, she found the information she was looking for. "Charles Weasley, 25, Romanian Longhorn Dragon Reserve, Romania."

Charlotte stopped rocking and looked at her friend. Any resolve she had remaining cracked and tears began to slip down her face.

Ben, who had been reading the paper looked up at Charlotte and over Gillian's shoulder. "Is that the Weasley that was with Potter?"

"No," Said a dreamy voice from across from them, "That was Ronald. Charles is a Dragon Handler in Romania. Rolf's grandfather knows him."

Gillian and Ben looked across the table. Luna Lovegood looked at them with big wistful eyes. The girl was always an oddity and she wondered if she could believe what she was saying considering that prior to September 2nd Luna Lovegood had never even spoken with Rolf Scamander. She could still remember the scene it had created in the Great Hall when Rolf walked up to Luna during breakfast their first day back.

"Ms. Lovegood, my name is Rolf Scamander. You may have heard of my grandfather, Newt."

Luna looked up at him and stared in that uncomfortable way that she always did. Rolf did not flinch like most did. "Daddy says your grandfather is a great man with an open mind to unusual creatures."

Rolf nodded, smiled and continued. "Perfect. Right. So you understand about my family. I have never really had a desire to date, you see. I love working with the magical beasts with my grandfather. Not that I don't notice the fairer sex, but they are such a bother and usually do not want to get dirty. You see, my grandfather mentioned that you go on expeditions with your father and enjoy yourself completely."

"Oh, yes," Luna breathed out in excitement, "I love to go looking for new creatures with Daddy. We have such a great time."

Rolf nodded and continued. "You see, this dratted procreation law has me in a bit of a snag. They want me to reproduce. I want to explore the world. I can't do that if I have to be home breeding my new wife. More than likely she will not be up to going on regular expeditions. You on the other hand, love to travel and roughing it. So I have an offer for you, Ms. Lovegood. I propose we get married. I can propose today. I have the ring right here. We set a date for after NEWTs are completed and go on expedition this summer. We will have unlimited time in the evenings to fulfil the reproduction requirements and can spend our days productively looking for rare creatures. So, Miss Lovegood, will you marry me?"

Luna looked him over for a minute and answered with little to no concern. "Alright."

Gillian had spit her orange juice across the table on Michael Connor. Charlotte even looked at the pair with mild amusement before turning back to her cereal.

Rolf simply nodded, pulled a ring box from his robe pocket and handed it to Luna. She opened it and looked dreamily as ever. "Moonstones."

"I thought you would appreciate it." Rolf nodded. He took the ring out and placed it upon Luna's finger. "Great, that is done. I have two Form B's here. I took the liberty to fill it out for you I hope you do not mind. Grandfather has said he would like to offer his estate as a location for the wedding if you would like. There is a lovely creek that the fairies on the property live at. Gnomes too. We were thinking around the beginning of July. Maybe the first weekend."

"Sounds lovely." Luna said picking up her quill and retrieving her form. She completed the incomplete date and location and signed the letter. She offered Rolf the quill and he repeated her actions.

He looked around the table at the nearest occupants. "Would you terribly mind signing these witness statements for us?"

He produced six identical letters that simply stated that they witnessed the proposal of Rolf Scamander and Luna Lovegood and that they had set a wedding date and venue. They all looked at each other waiting for someone to tell them this was all a highly amusing prank. The newly engaged couple looked at them expectantly. Shockingly, it was Charlotte that sighed and picked up the quill and signed the letter handing it back to Rolf. The others followed suit.

Later, as they walked to class, Gillian questioned why Charlotte had done so with so little regard.

"Romani custom is not much different. Marriage is more of a practical arrangement then a love match. As long as the couple and their families are in agreement, find each other attractive and the husband to be can provide a living, they get married."

Gillian shook her head in amazement and continued on to potions.

Now, after months of balancing on the edge, her friend had cracked. Gillian thought if the ministry had deemed Charlotte should be matched to a husband, that she would accept her fate much like she accepted Rolf proposal to Luna. Gillian supposed it had to do with choice. Luna had had a choice, Charlotte did not.

"Come along, Charlotte. We will go to Ginny. She can make things better." Gillian jumped. She had not seen Luna approach.

She reached down and took Charlotte's hand, drawing her up and started across the Great Hall. As they went, Gillian felt eyes mark their progress. She tried to ignore them all until she felt the pull of ones from the head table. Looking up, she saw Professor Flitwick looking at them with concern and question. Gillian held up the letter still in her hand. She could see the professor groan and turn towards the Headmistress their heads pulled together as they spoke. Neither looked happy.

Luna finally drew even with the Gryffindor table and stopped. Gillian looked at the pair in front of them and pulled back in shock. Before them sat Ginny Weasley, girlfriend of the boy who lived, one of the prior leaders of Dumbledore's Army and defender of Hogwarts and next to her … Hermione Granger, Order of Merlin, First Class, muggleborn brains of the golden trio, best friend of the Savior of the wizarding world. Gillian was in awe. They did not look up, having spent months being stared at had trained them to ignore the looks. They were not standoffish, but people knew, if you were not part of their original circle, the people that had never turned their backs and stood up to the atrocities that had happened, you were not going to be their friends easily now. Luna Lovegood just marched right up to them. Of course she would, she was part of the inner circle. One of the people on Hogsmeade weekends, Harry Potter himself sought out .

"Ginny, do you have a moment?" Luna inquired.

Both Ginny and Hermione looked up. Their smiles were radiant and genuine for the girl in front of them. Not the type reserved for people you tried to tolerate. Not like the smiles the rest of Ravenclaw gave Looney Lovegood.

"Good morning, Luna." Ginny's friendly manner was evident. She looked at Gillian and Charlotte then back to Luna. "What's happening?"

Luna did not answer. Instead she took the letter from Gillian and handed it to Ginny. She looked at the correspondence perplexed her eyes flashed from the content to the name and finally to the second page. Gillian could see the exact moment she realized why her friend had appeared at her table. Ginny groaned, drawing Hermione's eyes to her. Ginny handed over the letter and looked up at the girls before her, glancing between the pair. One could see her mind working as her eyes darted back and forth.

She finally settled on Gillian. "You're Gillian, correct. You are dating Michael Connors' friend, Bill."

"Ben," Gillian corrected.

Ginny nodded as if remembering her mistake. She turned to Charlotte and put on a radiantly inviting smile. "So that would make you my future sister-in-law."

Charlotte was still catatonic with tears streaking down her face. Not the best first impression Gillian thought. Every family member had received an Order of Merlin of some degree or another. Most of them played Quidditch well enough to be on the house team. Everybody knew who they were and what their business was. Now, sweet, shy Charlotte was supposed to join their family? What in the hell had the Ministry been thinking.

Ginny was on her feet and wrapping her arms around Charlotte. "Oh, sweetheart. Charlotte, it will be ok. Charlie is not so bad. Well, not usually. He can be a bit of a prat and a prankster at times, but he has always been kind and caring."

Charlotte still did not respond. Ginny rubbed her back trying to sooth her. She finally looked to Gillian questioningly. Gillian took a minute to look at her friend debating. Should she break her friend's confidence? Gillian decided allies were better than silence.

"She has been having a hard time since …" Gillian faltered looking at the pair. The group before her had been right at the center of the conflict. "Since May."

Ginny's face fell. Hermione looked at her in sympathy. Reaching over she took her friend's hand. Ginny looked back to Gillian. "You were both here?"

Gillian shook her head. "I wasn't. I had a brother in third year and a sister in first year. I just…I just couldn't …"

"I understand," Ginny said sympathetically. "Sometimes …sometimes I wish Fred would have hauled me out of here since I was still underage. Maybe…"

A single tear slipped down Ginny's face. Luna gave her a hug. "What has happened has happened. He's really not gone, just on the other side."

Ginny smiled at Luna and nodded. Obviously this was an ongoing conversation. Ginny looked back at Charlotte. She still did not respond.

Gillian sighed and continued. "Charlotte stayed. She is an orphan since before the war began in full. She never really talks about it, but from what I can piece together, she was assigned to help Madam Pomfrey. She work for three days straight with little to no rest. When the ministry and St. Mungo's were finally able to send help, she was sent straight home on the train. She lives with a muggle aunt that doesn't know about our world, so they had no idea what was happening."

"Is she a muggleborn?" Hermione asked.

"Half blood." Gillian supplied. She debated for a moment and continued. "Her father was a Romani wizard. Her mother was a muggle school teacher."

Ginny's eyes widened slightly and she gave the girl an appraising look. "Percy, you prat. You're a genius, but still a prat."

Everybody but Charlotte looked at Ginny in confusion. She sighed and continued. "Sit down, this could take some time."

Ginny pulled Charlotte between her and Hermione on the bench. Hermione reached over and grabbed Charlotte's hand and Gillian looked at the pair in shocked. Ten minutes ago, the two women before her could not pick Charlotte out of a crowd. Now she sat between the pair as if they were ready to protect her with their lives. Luna walked to the bench across the way and sat down. Gillian reluctantly joined her, leaving her friend alone on the opposite side of the table.

Ginny continued after everybody was seated. "Forgive me if I am boring you with facts you know already, but not everybody will have the full explanation as I see it. First, you have to understand that the Romani wizards live on the fringes of our society."

"What!" Hermione's exclamation made everybody jump. Ginny patted Charlotte's back to sooth her.

"Hermione, it is their own doing. They do not want to interact with us anymore then they need to. They didn't pick sides in the war. They do not send their children to Hogwarts. They intentionally close their society to any outsiders because they do not trust us. Dad has some dealings with them for work. Most departments go to him if they need to deal with the group since he has built a reluctant respect with the people. You know dad, there is no reason not to exempt anybody in his mind, no matter who you are. We were raised the same way." Ginny explained.

"It's still wrong! It's house elves all over again!" Ginny looked at Gillian and rolled her eyes at her friend's rant. Obviously this was another regular conversation. "The Romani wizards stick to themselves because they are not accepted. It's the same in the muggle world, as well. No one will hire a Romani worker. Mum and dad always went out of their way to hire them for work if they were around. They are just another group unfairly treated because of what they are and not who they are."

"Don't defend them to me," Gillian snapped, "Not when they will dump a child like she was yesterday's rubbish because her mother is not a Romani. Two weeks after Charlotte's father died, the family dropped her back off to her mother and never showed their faces again. They knew she was a witch. Some loving family."

Hermione was shocked at Gillian's words. Placated, she relaxed again looking with compassion at the girl between her and Ginny.

Ginny nodded as something had been confirmed. "I thought it might be something like that. I couldn't think of how she ended up here. Especially if she knows her heritage. Her father must have died when she was younger than eleven. Otherwise she would not have come to Hogwarts."

Gillian nodded "Just before, actually. She was happy it happened the way it did. She would have never been taught as much magic if she had been left to the Romani. Like you said, she would have been homeschooled only as much as she needed to be a good wife."

Ginny nodded. "Which leads me to the other side of this match. My brother, Charlie. Free-spirited, reckless, loves unusual things…like dragons. Not to mention, he was raised by a family without the usual biases of our society. He lives abroad at a dragon sanctuary in Romania. Not a place many people would willingly move to. Not many do. It's cold, remote and rugged."

"I think Romania is beautiful, especially the sanctuary." Luna interjected.

Ginny smirked. "We thought for a while you might be matched with Charlie. Both love magical creatures, you don't mind solitude, and you go on expeditions with your dad."

"But Rolf likes those thing too." Luna signed dreamily.

Ginny smiled and shook her head. "Yes, Rolf does too."

"It would have been strange being married to Charlie. Kissing one brother while wondering what kissing the other would have been like."

Hermione looked indignant at the blond. Ginny laughed and covered it with a cough.

Still smirking, the redhead continued. "Which leads me to Percy the Prat. My brother is the undersecretary of the damn department in charge of this law. He is a stickler for details. Do you know when we submitted our forms, he debated if Harry and I should be together. Seriously debated it because we were not together last year while he was on the run. I had to remind him that if he had taken time to pull his big head out of his arse and had come back to the family earlier then during the final battle, he would have known that Harry had broken things off with me for my safety and as far as I was concerned, we were still an item and I was just waiting for him to come back to me."

Gillian was shocked. How could anyone debate that Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley belonged together.

Hermione laughed. "And he made Ron and I resubmit since we did not complete the appropriate Form B1 after Ron asked my father for permission to marry when we found them again."

"So you see, Percy the Prat would look at every angle, and debate every answer. Enter the reproduction law. Percy's influence is smattered all across it. He looked at every angle and found a solution. You may not have seen it in the original letter, but the family knew the minute we read it. Dad had warned us two days before of what was happening. Charlie went mental, like throwing things and smashing walls mental. Bill had to haul him off for a couple of hours to calm him. Bill's my oldest brother by the way. Word got back to Percy that Charlie was going to be stubborn, and that is putting it nicely. The bit about having your mum or brother fill them out was for Charlie's benefit. Percy said, as it was, Charlie never did fill out the forms. It wasn't his handwriting, and they were drunk to boot. Percy was able to fill in the bits missing or misinterpreted anyway." Ginny explained.

Gillian looked at her with concern. Ginny nodded and continued, "I know this is not painting a very nice picture of Charlie, but he really isn't usually like that. He has a temper, sure. He tosses about baby dragons like we toss rubbish in a bin, but he really is a kind soul. I remember being there the year before I started Hogwarts, he took me to see a baby dragon whose clutch mates had broken its wing. He was so gentle as he worked on it, crooning like it was a kitten, and all the while, the crazy thing was trying to bite off his fingers."

Gillian was still not convinced. "So how do we get from your brother to Charlotte being a great match?"

Ginny drummed her fingers on the table choosing her next words carefully. "You have to understand how Percy's mind works to get there, so follow along. I am not going to pretend it makes sense, but there you go. How would you match with my brother?"

Gillian shrugged. "Another dragon tamer?"

Ginny smiled. "And who would you match with Charlotte?"

"Someone quiet and kind who doesn't like to be the center of attention."

Ginny smirked at the expected answers. "Would it work?"

Everybody looked at her trying to follow. Ginny continued. "What happens when you put too many alpha dogs together?"

"They fight until one of them gives up and submits," Luna answered.

Ginny nodded. And what happens when two shy people go out on a date. Think Cho and Harry."

Hermione perked up as if the answer had appeared before her finally. "They don't get anywhere. They don't talk. They don't make more plans."

Ginny nodded. "Harry and I work because we complement each other. He would never leave the house if I did not make him, but he prevents me from becoming the wild and crazy party animal the rest of them are. Percy has seen this with his own relationship. So who better to pair the wild-child dragon tamer with thanthe half-Romani who has spent the better part of her life on the fringes? She lived in a traveling caravan part of her life, so a Romanian dragon reserve will be no big deal. She is quiet and shy, so the solitude of Romania will not bother her. He lives in an international commune, so her parentage will not be an issue. I'm sure Charlie will not even notice it. She is beautiful, so no problems there for the family playboy. Magically powerful, I would guess. Smart since she is in Ravenclaw and she is exotic. Charlie has always loved the exotic. He plays with dragons for crying out loud. So, if Percy believes that opposites attract, then he has made the perfect match with Charlotte and Charlie."

Suddenly, the match began to make sense to Gillian. Except. "But he didn't consider what she is going through, what she has been through. She has lost her parents. She survived the final battle. She has basically on her own for years."

Ginny smiled back sadly. "He considered all of it, Gillian. She lost her family, so no one will miss her when she leaves for Romania. My mum will go spare that she is alone. She'll just become another child for her to love. My mother collects all the strays. Just like Harry and Hermione. We survived the final battle, and we lost people close to us in this war. We understand what she is going through. I'm more worried that no one has done more to help her. We are surrounded by adults who are supposed to be watching for this."

Gillian bristled, "I was looking to get her help. Professor Flitwick and I were working on it."

Ginny smiled. "I know you are a good friend and I am sure you have done everything in your power, but your influence is limited. She is going to be a Weasley, and that name carries some influence now. She is going to be the sister-in-law to the Savior of the wizarding world. Harry hates when people want to do something for him because of who he is, but if one of us, his family, is in need, he will throw a temper tantrum that would put a toddler to shame and throw his name all over to get that person help. She will be taken care of, Gillian. I promise. Maybe…maybe this will be good for her. Good for them both. If they have another person to take care of, maybe it will help them both to heal."

Gillian looked perplexedly at Ginny. It was Hermione that continued sadly. "He arrived late to the battle because he was rounding up the reinforcements. He wonders if he would have been here if he could have saved Fred."

The twin killed in the final battle, Gillian had almost forgotten, they had lost a lot. Charlotte had been there, trying as she might, to save them all. She looked at her friend, still lost in her misery and considered everything that had been said.

She turned her sharp eyes on the girls across the table, not caring that they were the heroines of battles. "He had better never hurt her, or I'll hex his bollock off."

The look from Ginny was returned with equal venom not directed at her. "Oh, don't worry. If he doesn't treat her right, you will have to stand in line for what is left of him after the family is done with him. My mum has raised seven of us hell-raisers, along with Harry and Hermione. My father will not put up with his shite much longer now that the match has been set."

Gillian nodded, hoping that the Weasleys were half the family they were supposed to be.