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Unchained

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It started out a fairly normal day at the Weasley household, Arthur would later recall. He woke early in the morning, heading out for an hour or so in his shed working with his Muggle objects before heading in to shower and get ready for work. Molly would frown at his grease-stained hands, pretending at being disapproving. He knew she really didn’t mind him messing around in his shed, ‘tinkering’ as she called it. It kept him out of her hair and allowed her to run their household pretty much as she willed it. In exchange he’d been well cared for and never worried about the technicalities of being ‘Lord Weasley’, letting her manage their finances, meager as they were.

Then he would tread off to work, tolling away in the Ministry in a job that paid him a pittance compared to most of his fellow workers. He managed a department that they considered a chore quite happily, never really having had any higher ambition. He knew he was a bit of a joke behind closed doors, working amongst the well-dressed and wealthy in his tattered second-hand robes and Muggle-style briefcase. But he had his head on straight, not like most of those popinjays. He had instilled in his children a work ethic and pride in a job well done. He never thought they would have wanted anything more. Perhaps that had been part of the problem.

When he got home from work and was settling in for the evening, he heard a shriek of surprise and dismay from his wife. It startled him into dropping his briefcase on the floor, which popped open to reveal his latest Muggle treasures confiscated at work. Not paying attention to his precious trinkets, Arthur rushed into the family room, finding his wife staring at the ancient grandfather clock. His heart sank. The unusual clock had been in the family for decades, tracking each member of the family throughout their day and lives, showing such things as work, school, traveling, asleep or mortal peril. Arthur had never been more relieved in his life than when Harry Potter had destroyed Voldemort once and for all, all the Weasley family members had moved off of ‘mortal peril’ for the first time in almost a year.

Looking at the clock, his eyes widened in shock. Instead of the normal nine hands, there were only three. One each for him, his wife and their daughter Ginevra. All of the boys’ hands had disappeared, as if they never existed. Panicky, he moved over to the fireplace, reaching for the Floo powder on the mantle. In his haste he knocked over the pot, spilling some of the precious (expensive) powder on the floor. He threw it into the flames, barked his eldest’s address and stuck his head through.

After the disorienting and nauseating feeling of Floo faded, he looked around, spotting an empty and fairly clean living room, sparsely decorated. “Bill!” he called urgently.

No response.

Not wanting to worry Molly, he called a few more times, then exited, grabbing more of the powder and Flooing the twins’ shop instead. “Fred, George!”

It took two more calls before he heard footsteps announcing someone coming down the stairs. To his great relief, he spotted his younger twin son, George. “George, can we come through and see you? Something’s happened and it’s made your mother and I quite worried.”

A spark of something flickered in his son’s eyes for a long moment before he finally said, “Yeah, you might as well come through. We needed to speak with you anyway.”

Arthur pulled back, a feeling of concern thrumming through him. The look on George’s face and his tone of voice worried him. Trying not to jump at shadows, he gave some powder to Molly and said “George is at their shop, go on through. I’ll follow.”

Molly disappeared in emerald flames, Arthur following her quite closely. Closely enough, in fact, to see George step back when Molly went to hug him. His wife subtly flinched, pained that one of her children would snub her in that manner. Before Arthur could call him out on his rudeness, he said curtly, “Follow me.”

Concern now fighting equally with trepidation, Arthur followed after his son. Eyeing George’s back, he wondered how he had missed the twin becoming so tall and broad, his hair now a richer red, more auburn than orange. George led them into what was clearly a meeting room of sorts for the business, revealing not only Fred but Bill, Charlie and Percy as well. Molly gasped, tears of relief flooding her eyes as she stepped forward, reaching for one of her sons, the closest being Charles. But their second eldest son stepped back in the same manner as George, watching with a straight face and blanked expression as Molly’s hands fell to her side, a few tears spilling over.

“I think you should sit,” Bill said seriously, gesturing to the chairs on their side of the table.

Arthur pulled out a chair and sat, the dread rising like a lump in his throat with every passing second. He was starting to think that the answer they were going to get about their misbehaving clock wasn’t the one they wanted. He had never seen the five eldest of his sons like this, acting so serious and stern with their parents of all people.

“The family clock,” Molly whimpered. “Your names are all gone. I thought you were all dead.” Tears spilled down her cheeks at the very thought.

Arthur was able to see a subtle widening in a few of his sons’ eyes. Percy turned to Bill and said, “I had actually forgotten about that blasted clock.”

“The hands are added automatically,” Bill mused, nodding to himself. “That would make sense, rather than being able to manually add hands or having to remove them. Tricky spot of magic that, lost now probably with all the restrictions on Magic. Blasted politics always have to get in the way.”

“The clock is not malfunctioning is it?” Arthur whispered, staring at his sons forlornly.

“Of course it is, Arthur!” Molly cried. “Their names are gone and they’re sitting right in front of us! What else would you call that but a malfunction?”

Looking his father in the eye, Bill said firmly, “Disown Seraphina Weasley. End the feud with the Malfoy family.”

Arthur was by turns shocked and infuriated. “Never! Is that what this is about? Some show of strength so that you can force me to do this? I will never disown her, never! The Malfoys are one of the wealthiest families in magical Britain, they don’t need that dowry repaid! As for disowning the poor girl, she fell in love, what’s wrong with that?!”

Bill nodded in resignation, as if he’d expected his father to say that but hoped otherwise. “Then our actions stand. We have renounced the name Weasley, taking the surname Prewett with Muriel’s blessing. You may have been the ones to give us life and we may hold some love for you for that, but we are no longer Weasleys. The only child who remains a Weasley is Ginevra, perhaps a sort of comeuppance for refusing to disown another Weasley female.”

“WHAT?!” Molly shrieked, going from teary to furious in a split second. “You can’t do that!”

“We can and have, legally and by blood,” Percy said firmly, staring down Molly in his glasses. His tone was almost arrogant. “We refuse to be dragged down in the mud with you, not when each of us have promising career potentials or established jobs. The only thing that mars our future is being associated with a family that refused to comply with the very reasonable demands of an Old Blood family. As for Seraphina being ‘in love’, she slept with a village boy while betrothed to a Malfoy heir, that smacks more of lust to me. We never understood why people looked down on us and called us ‘blood traitors’ but now we do and we refuse to remain that way.”

“Ronald’s in school,” Arthur tried, “you can’t do that to him, he has to want it himself.”

“He does, and he is seventeen, legally an adult as are each of us. It was his decision as communicated to me in person and through letters the past month or so,” Bill said coolly. “His friendship with Potter-Black has been showing him the way for some time now.”

“Potter-Black?” Arthur frowned. “Did Harry take on the Black Lordship after his godfather died?”

“No,” Fred answered. “It turns out he’s actually the son of Sirius Black and his consort James Potter, originally hidden with Lily Evans’ help for his safety. Harrigan Orion Potter-Black, not Dumbledore’s precious Prophecy child. But perhaps that’s something you should ask Dumbledore, considering how close you are to him? Ask him why he never grew up with his father, why Sirius had to teach Harry about his heritage and family titles in secret?”

“That means Ginny will be Lady Potter-Black,” Molly beamed.

George barked out an angry laugh, which confused and annoyed Molly. Turning to his brothers he said, “I told you, but none of you believed me.”

Looking at Molly he said coldly, “Ginny will not be a Lady Potter-Black. One, she sees Harry as a good friend and brother, secondly I believe Harry is gay. She’s entirely the wrong gender to be of interest to him.”

Molly’s face reddened in anger. Before she could do anything more than inhale a deep breath, Bill flicked his wand at her, silencing her.

“Bill!” Arthur barked, angry. “Undo that now, she deserves better than that. She’s your mother after all!”

“Actually,” Bill said sharply, standing up and placing a hand on the table, “she’s not. Nor are you our father, Arthur. Kindly take your spouse and leave my brother’s private premises and facility, before we call the Aurors on you for trespassing.”

Molly swayed a little in shock as Bill’s words struck her with the strength of something physical. Arthur’s face paled and his jaw firmed a little. He took Molly by the hand and led her out of the meeting room, to the front of the store, which was thankfully closed. At the door he turned, looked at the five of them and said angrily, “I thought I’d raised you boys better than this.”

“You did,” Charles spoke up, “that’s how come we have the strength now to leave you behind. Have a good life, Arthur.”

Arthur did the best to hide the flinch hearing his name from the second of his sons caused. By the almost pitying expressions on their faces, he failed miserably. “Ron’s final year?” he asked, unable to hold back.

“Fully paid for, with spending money to boot and a new wardrobe on the way,” Fred said bitterly. “Which is more than you gave most of us.”

Arthur closed his eyes, turned the handle on the door and pulled his still silent wife out, unable to look back at the stern, solemn faces of the boys he had raised. It was only once they were home, his wife steaming silently in the living room and out in his precious shed, that Arthur let the tears he’d been holding back fall. Rage followed hot on the heels of his grief, aimed squarely at the Malfoy family that had cost him his sons.

They would pay for it somehow. He wasn’t sure yet, but they would pay.