He notices her when he comes home for Bill’s wedding.
At first, he thinks she must be one of Fleur’s friends. Then he watches as Ron and Harry move to either side of her and knows, suddenly, that this lovely young woman is the same awkward little girl that stayed with them at the Quidditch World Cup. Charlie watches her for the rest of the day, always discreet and with a gaze that is curious, intrigued, and aware.
It takes only two days for him to realize he wants her. He can’t even place his thumb on why, but the truth is there when he finds her regardless of how crowded the room is and when he thinks of her in ways that are entirely inappropriate when he lies in bed at night. She’s not his type at all. She’s too outspoken, too smart, too pretty, and too stubborn. Charlie isn’t really sure what his type is, but he assumes it would be someone more like him: quiet, solid, better with her hands than her brain, and easy going.
He’s not stupid, contrary to what many people seem to assume based on his fondness for Quidditch and dragons or the fact that he’s short and muscular instead of slender and intellectual looking like Percy or Bill. Charlie doesn’t talk a lot not because he can’t carry on a conversation but because he feels that one should really only talk when they actually have something to say. He listens to others chatter on about various subjects without actually saying anything so, when he talks, there’s always a point or he at least has the knowledge to back up what he’s saying.
He finds himself talking more in the days before the wedding than he does during an entire year at the Colony. There are sheepish grins after, when he has to admit that he’s trying to impress her in a way he’s never bothered with before, and he feels awkward being around so many people so he tends to hide in the shadows until she forces him out.
Oh, yes, he’s not failed to notice that it’s her finding him since their first few clumsy conversations. Ron wants her, and a good brother would step back and smack the prat over the head so he goes after her before someone less honorable notices she’s bloody amazing. Charlie isn’t a good brother. Instead of looking away and letting Ron have her, he’s actually trying to flirt when it’s just the two of them and is attempting to tap into the charm that comes naturally when he’s trying to calm a dragon yet seems to fail him around people.
Desire is a tricky thing. It can hit you before you realize it, can make you do the craziest things, can strike when you never expect it. Charlie never thought he’d come home for Bill’s wedding madness to find a bossy little girl all grown up. He certainly never thought he’d actually start to develop feelings for her. He knows she’s too young, not even eighteen, and that it’s not a good time at all for this to happen. Dumbledore is dead. Hogwarts may close. The Wizarding world is going to war and Hermione is in the thick of it.
Charlie may not be very good around people, but he knows dragons backwards and forwards. In a way, people aren’t much different from dragons. He sees the whispered conversations between Ron, Harry, and Hermione. He’s seen a map that was hastily hidden with red marks and circles that indicate a trip is being planned. He notices the way Ron is hugging Mum and even Dad whenever he can, which is more telling than maps and whispered plans. They’re going to do something, probably after the wedding, and no one knows. And they may not survive their plans.
There’s a time for everything, usually, but the world is caught in turmoil and chaos. He reads the articles about more Muggles being killed, about Muggleborns being tortured and killed, sees the scars on Bill’s face that are proof that things are changing. Charlie knows what it means and realizes this could be the last time they’re all gathered like this. The next time the family is together could be for a funeral.
He watches Hermione and wants to tell her how he feels. It’s stupid, of course, because it’s just been a few days and lust isn’t love by any means, but Charlie’s not a man that has fanciful notions. If it were different, he’d make himself wait. He’d let Ron have an opportunity as much as he hates the idea, mostly because he can’t see such a relationship lasting long and knows she’d not find her happily ever after with Ron, and he’d find her when she was older and see if the desire and emotions were still present.
“No,” a voice speaks from beside him and interrupts his thoughts.
He turns to look at Bill and sees a knowing look on his big brother’s face. Bill has always been able to read him even when no one else understands him. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Bill has seen but it is. Charlie shrugs and looks back at Hermione, watching her laugh at something Ginny has said.
“Charlie, stop,” Bill says more firmly.
Bill means well but Charlie is old enough to think for himself. Hermione looks over and smiles at him. She blushes as she pushes her hair away from her face and looks away shyly. He leans back against the wall and watches her, ignoring Bill as he decides it’s time to say something. If his suspicions are correct, they’re leaving after the wedding tomorrow night.
He knows they won’t let him go, and he’s not about to make some silly threat about telling on them because he knows that whatever they’re doing is necessary and has to trust that they’ll survive, that all of them will survive this bloody war. He can’t let her go without knowing, though, because he’s a realist. This could be the last time he sees them, sees any of his family, and she has to know how he feels.
“Too late,” he mutters to Bill before he walks into the kitchen and goes outside.
She follows him. He hears the creak of the door several minutes later and looks over to see her watching him. He doesn’t waste time with stammered explanations of awkward feelings or confessions of lust and need. It’s all there for her to see, unguarded for the first time since he’s seen her again. She gasps and blushes as he stares at her bathed in the pale glow of moonlight and wants.
Desire is also a funny thing. It can hit you when you least expect it, it can make you do the craziest things, and it can be reciprocated by someone you know is too young, too pretty, too smart, too stubborn, and too good for the likes of you. Charlie watches her step closer and reaches for her, pulling her against him as he lowers his head. They kiss, a gentle hesitant brushing of lips that becomes more firm, her lips part beneath his and the kiss deepens as they taste each other.
Regardless of what happens tomorrow night, of what happens in the upcoming weeks and months, they will have this summer madness, this taste of first love and desire, and there won’t be regrets about things they should have or could have done. She returns his kiss and moves her fingers into his short hair. He holds her closer as he silently vows they will be together again when all this is over. Until then, they have tonight.
ABC Challenge #23: D - Desire for rainbow_slinky
Originalyl Posted: Mar 16, 2006
He notices her when he comes home for Bill’s wedding.