"Just about ready to set of for the Burrow?" Charlie asked his girlfriend, taking the pile of gifts from her arms and adding them to the already bulging sack he had set before the dining room fireplace.
"There's still a couple presents left," she said, wiping the sweat from her brow and turning back to the stairs to get the gifts. "This heat is killing me. Why doesn't you family choose a day in the winter to celebrate Christmas like everyone else?"
"They prefer to do it at random. During the Christmas Massacre when I was nine, the Lestranges made an attack on my dad and Uncle Fabian. Ever since then Aunt Molly's been even more paranoid than most people. We don't even have Christmas on the same day every year," Charlie said, following her upstairs. "I think it was Taylor's choice this year. July, purely for the sake of being weird. That's what happens when you give the task to an eleven-year-old who lives to annoy me. And tease Ron. And Ginny. And everyone smaller than he is. And everyone else."
"He can't be that bad," Charlie's girlfriend insisted, tossing her raven hair over her shoulder as she bent down to pick up a large purple box.
"Well, Juanita, he would be that bad if he could. But he doesn't have many available victims since I'm rarely at the Burrow, Ginny spends most of her time at Hogwarts, and Ron can always get Grace to beat him up."
"That tiny little girl?"
"She's small, but tough. Rachel was just the same when she was eight," Charlie replied, leading the way back downstairs.
"That makes no sense," Ron insisted, giving the scene playing out before him in the mirror an accusatory look. "Charlie looks about twenty-four, so I should be seventeen or so. Why would I need little girls to fight eleven-year-olds for me? What is this place?"
"Prewett Manor," Molly answered. "I grew up there and my parents left it to my brother Gideon. It burned down Christmas Eve of 1978 when Gideon and Fabian died and the Lestranges stole everything else we had," she explained, her voice breaking slightly.
"Did you wish that your brothers were still alive?" Hermione asked.
"Yes," Molly answered sombrely.
"Perhaps we're seeing what would have happened if we had got our wishes," Hermione suggested. "They are still alive, so Charlie was raised by Gideon Prewett instead of the Weasleys."
"But the Mirror of Erised is the one that shows you what you wish for," Harry pointed out. "Shouldn't this actually grant them?"
"It's refusing to do it for some reason. Maybe something really horrible would happen," Ron put in.
"How could that be?" Molly asked, turning back to the mirror. "We only wished for good things."
"Whoa! Alyssa!" Charlie shouted at the little girl who ran in between his legs, tripping him and almost knocking him into the fireplace.
"Sorry. Is there a present in there for me?" she asked excitedly, standing on tiptoes to peer over the rim of the sack.
"Yes, but we can't open any of them until we get to Aunt Molly's house," Charlie said impatiently.
"Is this one mine?" Alyssa inquired, knocking the present on top to the floor with the sound of shattering glass.
"No," Charlie answered through clenched teeth, reassembling the box's contents with a wave of his wand.
"How 'bout this one?" Alyssa asked, reaching for the next gift.
"Alyssa, there's someone I want you to meet," Charlie said, picking her up before she could touch it. "This is Juanita. She works with Gringotts like me, but not in London. She's Curse Breaker in the Aztec temples. We met when she had to make a delivery to England and one of my dragons didn't want to let her into the vault. Juanita, this is my daughter Alyssa."
"Hi Waneena. This is my dolly, Mary," Alyssa began, holding out a rag doll with clumps of orange hair. "We like to play Quidditch. What you have to do is find a stick from the garden and a bunch . . ."
"Why don't you check and see if Grandma and Grandpa are ready yet," Charlie interrupted. "She could talk forever," he muttered to Juanita after Alyssa had left.
"She's quite a handful," Juanita observed.
"Yeah. No help from her mother either. She left a few months after she was born and I haven't seen her since."
"What was her name again?"
"Cassia Malfoy. When I married her I didn't think she honestly believed all those notions of purity of blood. But later she ran off to join the Death Eaters."
"It's okay. She seemed like a really kind and intelligent person, but I guess You-Know-Who got her on his side somehow." He sighed. "All four of her Alyssa's grandparents spend a lot of time with her, but she still wears me out. I don't know how Aunt Molly can manage with eight screaming brats while I can barely take care of one."
"Screaming brats? Isn't that a bit harsh?"
"They are. Well, Ginny's a timid little thing, and Percy is pretty mature; he has to take care of the seven others."
"Don't the other older kids help?"
"Fred and George, the nineteen-year-old twins, they help a little, but they cause just as many problems as they solve. Not to mention that they set a bad example for Taylor; now he wants to be just like them. But he usually doesn't act up around Rachel; she's pretty commanding. In fact she's one of the chief leaders of the Youth Resistance. Brilliant strategist."
"Nope. She's in the same year as Harry Potter. She, Potter, and Granger make a real solid core for the organization." Charlie seemed to suddenly realize what he was saying. "Don't tell anyone that. Or even mention it anywhere. It's not really a secret, but the fewer the people who know, the better. I know you aren't feeling much of You-Know-Who's influence in Mexico, but here you can never tell who you can trust."
"I am completely confused," George said. "How is everything so warped?"
"We've got siblings we never had before—" Fred continued.
"Some of our personalities are drastically different—"
"And I'm still hungry," Brianna took over.
"Well," said Percy. "I imagine that just from Bill and Charlie not being here, a lot of things changed. For example, what's the chance of any particular baby being a boy or girl, or having a certain personality? Instead of Ron being born, there's this Rachel person. In fact, it's quite likely that under different circumstances, children would be born at different times. Since Fred, George, and I are there, all the major changes must have taken place after we came around."
"But where's my pie?" Brianna demanded.
"What happened to Cassia?" Hermione wondered, completely ignoring Brianna. "She was born before all three of you and she's totally different. The changes in your family are probably because of Mrs. Weasley's brothers surviving, but they couldn't have so strongly affected the way she'd turn out."
"And you never had any problems with Muggles, even when we were kids," Bill said, looking at Cassia. "We were in the same year at school until she left Hogwarts in the middle of second year," Bill explained to the rest of the family, "There were plenty of Muggle-borns in our year and she always got along well with them."
Everyone looked to Cassia and Charlie for an explanation, who were having a silent conversation with their eyes.
"Well," Charlie began, "Cassia lived with her uncle, Lucuis Malfoy, for a couple years during the war. Her parents lived in India, but her grandmother, Lucretia Malfoy wanted her to go to school here in England as the rest of the family had done for generations. Her parents thought that it may be safer for her there, especially since they had a secret to hide and her not going to Hogwarts would bring up old arguments that they didn't need restarted in those dark times. It actually was quite safe until they found out that Cassia's mother was a Muggle-born. They had made the same discovery several years before, but her father saved her mum that time by making it sound like he had left his wife and married a Muggle-born, since they didn't know exactly who it was. Then he remarried Cassia's mum two years later. Well, they found out about it all and she showed up while they were digging around in her house, and well, you can imagine what happened. That same night, Cassia snuck out of Malfoy Manor under an Invisibility Cloak and went to Australia to live with her father. They didn't return to England until a few years after the defeat of You-Know-Who."
"Even when living with the Malfoys, I never had any problems with Muggles or Muggle-borns, but I was proud of my pureblood heritage," Cassia continued quietly. "I wished that my father hadn't passed away, and I suppose that if he hadn't, I would have stayed with them and had their ideals poured into my mind for years. I don't think that I could ever hate Muggleborns or willingly join the Death Eaters, but You-Know-Who does have his ways of getting followers."
For a moment, Harry's felt a pang of worry. He wouldn't turn out to be a Death Eater too would he? All he wished for was a family, but surely the Death Eaters wouldn't recruit him, making him part of their group the way they did Cassia, would they? Of course not. The other-world Charlie had just said that he was a leader of the resistance. And Voldemort wanted him dead. Maybe in that world the Weasleys really adopt him instead of him having to live with the Dursleys. He's best friends with Rachel. Perhaps she's a lot like Ron, Harry thought. He looked back into the mirror, and saw himself standing across from Charlie and Juanita in the Burrow's garden. His arm was wrapped around the shoulders of a girl whose long red hair indicated that she could only be a Weasley, and he was holding her a little too close for it to be just a friendly hug. Perhaps Rachel isn't like Ron then.
A/N: I'd like to thank my beta Kelleypen for all her help with this fic.