I'm staring, I know it and yet I can't stop. I'm hidden at the far side of the bar, in the corner by the wall where its dark. Where the depressed alcoholics usually drink. I'm not depressed, and I'm certainly not an alcoholic. I'm broody and drunk. But I'm only this drunk today. I'm only broody today. Hell normally I can laugh and joke with the guys as we work. But its Christmas eve, and I'm home for the holidays. Which means you're here, with him. It's been years, and yet I'm still struck dumb by the grace in everything you do. You're laughing with them, arms slung over their shoulders as they regale you with anecdotes of their day at the office.
Jealousy curls in my belly, white hot and dangerous. I thought I was over you, I guess not. I breathe deeply, shaking on the exhale. Downing the last of my firewhiskey reveling in the burn as is flows down my throat. I thunk the glass on the bar, barely noticing as the bartender refills it. I've been here pretty much all day. Only stopping at home to say hi to mum and dump my duffle bag in my room when she told me you and he would arrive together after work I bolted.
Your laughter is ringing in my ears, it's as though it drowns the music of the bar but I don't think it's that loud. Maybe I can hear it so clearly because I miss it, because it's played over in my mind for years. Its a beautiful sound, a balm to the soul. Or it should be. I close my eyes, struggling to breathe. I'm desperate to forget. To forget the way your eyes sparkled, how you felt in my arms. My hand on your hip, the other in your hair as we danced. Shaking my head I down the drink and stumble from the stool, flinging knuts on the bar and catching the stool before it crashes to the floor. Huffing I start towards the door, but then your there.
You're staring right at me, whilst you wait for the bar tender to finish pulling the pints for the boys. your wine rests in front of you, moisture beading the glass. Worry lines your face . I sigh, worry shouldn't touch you anymore, not after everything you've been through. Here I am drunk enough to make your forehead wrinkle in concern, I drag my eyes from your face. I can't do this, can't be here anymore, but just as I try to move past you grab my arm. The warmth of your hand seeps through the sleeve of my dragon-hide jacket, scorching me.
"Can't do what? Charlie are you alright?" Fuck, I'm drunker than I thought. I hadn't meant to say that out loud. Your voice is like honey, smooth making me melt.
"Yeah, m'fine."Oh Merlin, I'm slurring. I far drunker than I should be. I shrug you of and dash to the door, ignoring the calls of greeting from Harry and Ron. Flinging myself out into the snow, I stuff my hands into my jeans pockets huffing out a long shaky breath. It clouds in the cold air in front of me, vaguely I think it will snow tonight. Scuffing my boots in the snow, I start trudging home. I really should apparate, after all the burrow is the far side of the village. But I'm far too drunk. Mum would be furious if I splinched myself, it's bad enough for her that I'm still working with dragons and have no love life. I bark a bitter laugh. If only she knew that I've loved someone for years, that I love you. Merlin knows I shouldn't. What am I compared to you? To him? I'm older but bitter.
The bitterness is new. It was never there before. Before you all moved on, even George. I'm happy for you all, or at least I try to be. I want you to be happy. You all have someone, you have each other. What do I have? A broken heart, that's what. You came back, finished school, moved in with him and got a job that you are excelling in. I should be happy that you have everything you deserve. I hang my head as I walk, snow has started falling the biting cold of the wind does nothing to prevent the memories from playing in my mind. The happiness we'd had before you had to run.
~Its the quiet before the storm, everyone's gone to bed ready for Bill and Fluer's big day tomorrow. I've finally managed to grow my hair out with a few well placed charms. The wireless is still playing and I ought to turn it off but I'm too busy checking my hair is back to normal after mum cut it, and if I've made it a few inches longer so it grazes my shoulders no one has to know. It's not until I hear you call my name that I realise you are in the same room. I turn away from the mirror, shoving my wand in my pocket and running my hand through my hair, embarrassed.
"Oh...er. Hey there kid."
"Kid?" You raise your eyebrow incredulously.
"Yeah ok, suppose not." I smile, you laugh and hold out a steaming cup of cocoa, marshmallows bobbing across the top. I take a gulp, its deliciously smooth and creamy.
"Good godric woman. That is amazing." i sigh gulping down more of the hot sweet liquid.
"Thanks , Its my mums recipe." your voice hitches and your gaze falls to the faded old rug beneath our feet. Your shoulders shake with silent sobs as you put your cup on the coffee table. I place mine beside yours.
"Whoa there. Hey 'mione are you ok?"
I tentatively reach out to place my hand on your shoulder. You curl into me, burying your face into my flannel shirt and I can't breathe. I shouldn't be the one holding you, it should be him stroking your hair a whispering the comforting words that are falling from my lips. I've seen the way he looks at you, like you're the light in the darkness, he adores you and so he should. Your sobs fade and slowly you begin to tell me about your parents. I'm struck by your strength, the determination to protect them even if it means you may never see them again. That's when it hits me, the way mums been keeping you all so busy, how things around the house keep vanishing.
"You'll be leaving soon wont you?" I ask softly, tipping your face up to look at me with a finger under your chin.
"We have to."
"You could get hurt."
"We could die Charlie. If we don't go, you all could." Your voice shakes as we stare at each other, your hand glides up my chest and cups my cheek. My breath catches, I try to speak.
"Herm..." I don't get the chance to finish my sentence. The one where I should be telling you to go to him, I'm too old for you. Your lips are soft and warm against mine, you taste of cocoa. I know I shouldn't but I lean into it, into you. Before I know it you've pressed me into the wall and dragged a hand under my shirt, running your fingers up my belly. I shiver as you graze a nipple with your nails, breaking the kiss.
"We shouldn't be doing this." my voice is lower than I was expecting, thick with lust.
"Charlie, I don't want to die knowing I didn't try." You pull me close, our mouths meeting again.
You spin us and suddenly you're crowding me against my bedroom door, our lips haven't parted and your tongue wraps around mine as I fumble with the handle and we tumble through the door. We fall to the floor with a thump, you laugh as you struggle to get up apologising for landing on me. Grabbing my wand I fling a locking charm at the door as it swings shut behind us. You've cast a silencing charm around the room. I watch silently from the floor as you start to unbutton your blouse. I'm struck by your beauty, I can see why he watches you the way he does. Who am I kidding, it's why I watch you. Your intelligence, your strength and your beauty all rolled into this vision before me. In. My. Room. I laugh softly as I stand up to pull you towards me for another kiss.
"Are you sure about this Hermione?" I have to ask, I still think I shouldn't be doing this, but Merlin knows I want to.
"Yes, Charlie I want you. Have for a while." Your blush is adorable. We surge together again, lips moving, hand exploring, clothes falling to the floor as you push me to the bed. You graze your teeth against my throat. I moan because damn it if that isn't the best feeling ever. You laugh, it's the most alluring sound I've ever heard. You kiss and nibble your way down my body, pausing to suck a nipple into your mouth, pinching the other. I can barely breathe, gasping and my eyes flutter closed as your lips close around the head of my cock.
"Fucking hell." I moan as you swallow me down, you laugh the vibrations against my sensitive flesh making me moan again.
I look down at you as I sling an arm under my head. Your hair halos your face, your eyes are dark with lust as your lips stretch around me and if it isn't the hottest damned thing I've ever seen I don't know what is. I moan again, struggling to keep my eyes open as you bob your head up and down, the pleasure is building rapidly if you don't stop soon I wont make it much longer. I pull you up my body, kissing you passionately our tongues swirling together as I flip us over. My lips travel down your throat, nibbling at your collar bone as my hands roam your body cupping your breasts and rolling the nipples between my fingers. You gasp, arching up off the bed as I continue to kiss down the milky white expanse of your skin. I drag my fingers down your sides, you giggle as I reach a ticklish spot under your ribs. I smile up at you as I bite at your hip, sucking a bruise into your flesh.
I can't wait any longer, dipping my head i trace my tongue through your folds, eliciting a moan ripping from your throat as my thumb rubs delicate circles around your clit. You writhe beneath me, breathy moans escaping your lips as I lick and suck, dragging you closer to the edge. I gently push your leg over my shoulder as I move to suck your clit, sinking my fingers into you. I hold your hip down as I curl my fingers, nipping my teeth gently at your clit. You spasm, bucking, screaming my name as your climax hits you. I'm suddenly thankful for the silencing charm you put up. They'd kill me if they knew what we were doing. I can't find it in myself to care though, not when I have you stretched out on my bed looking utterly debauched, flushed and still moaning my name.
"Hells woman, what are you doing to me?" I breath as our eyes lock and you pull me up the bed to kiss you.
Lips sliding together, I nibble your bottom lip sucking it into my mouth before carressing your tongue with mine. You wrap your legs around me pulling my body flush with yours. my gasp turns into a breathless moan as you clutch my hips and pull me closer untill I'm sinking into you. Our moans are muffled by the kiss we share as I started to move. Gently rolling my hips. We move together, fluid strokes and roaming hands. You gasp my name again, as I moan yours. I'm failing to remember why I shouldn't be doing this, because suddenly I know that all these years of letters, of stolen glances when you thought I wasn't looking has led to this. I rise up onto my knees still gently rocking into you as I stroke a hand across your cheek. My throat feels tight, thick with the emotion I have just realise has a name. I swallow and say it anyway.
"I love you." You smile and it takes my breath away. I haven't seen you smile in weeks and this is the most radiant smile I have ever seen.
"I love you too." You surge up capturing my lips in a forceful kiss, your hands sliding in my hair. My hips still as I wrap my arms around you, pulling you closer.
"Don't. Don't stop Charlie." Your voice is rough, breathless as your hands fall to my shoulders clutching at me as you rock against me. Your moaning, shuddering as my movements join yours, dragging my cock slowly out of you and slamming back home. I want to be gentle, but my body takes over, gripping your hips tightly as we thrust together, skin slapping skin. I yell your name so loudly as I come that my throat feels raw.
We fall to the bed, panting and spent. Laying my head on the pillow I gather you in my arms. I breathe in the scent of your hair as I hold you, pretending for this moment there isn't war going on. We sleep, your head nestled on my chest an arm slung over my belly and our legs tangled. When I wake in the early morning sun you are gone, but the scent of you lingers on my sheets. ~
I've made it through the village, the snow falling in earnest now. It is blanketing the country side in thick white sheets. Tears have spilled from my eyes as I've walked, hot on my cold skin. My memories of you are haunting me. I still remember how you tore away from me when that lynx arrived. I'd been going to kiss you then, to hell with the rest of them. You were right there, in my arms and then suddenly the three of you were gone and Merlin how I hoped you were safe. I'm kicking the snow again, frustrated as all hell. You changed that year, and who can blame you? Months on the run living in a tent afraid that you wouldn't live another day, that bitch who tortured you. I hated myself, stuck in Romania gathering contacts for the order, still with my dragons. Safe. I scrub the tears from my face as I push through the garden gate, I don't want anyone to know I've been crying.
Light spills from the house, bathing the crystalline garden in columns of warm yellow. Laughter fills the air as Dad opens the door to bring beer bottles to the shed. I can hear Mum telling you off for working too hard, Ron jumping to your defence as he always does. I suppose that's why you still live with him, you two are good at looking out for each other. I'm not surprised you lot made it back first, I've taken over half an hour and I'm still drunk. I'm hesitant to walk any further, unsure if I can sit in the kitchen watching you together. It's not like at the bar, where I could hide in that dark corner drinking myself stupid. I'm half tempted to apparate directly to my room just to avoid the awkwardness of it all. Nope, still too drunk for that.
"Hey son." I jump as Dad claps a hand on my shoulder and urges me forward.
"Come join the party. Hermione just brought Harry and Ron home." I take a deep breath and follow him inside, toeing my boots off at the door.
I'm barely in the door before Mums forced a spoon into my hand and served a bowl of stew. It's always the same when I come home, even though I visit more now that I'm at the welsh reserve. Mum still insists I'm too skinny and that my hair is too long. Bill laughs.
"Mum, leave off. Its as long as mine."
"Yes, exactly. You both need haircuts!" She brandishes her wand towards us.
"No!" We both shout moving away from the table.
"Charlie, did you remember the kids gifts?"
"Yeah mum, already under the tree." Mum hugs me, she's excited about this Christmas. Its little Jamie and Fred's first. George flops into my seat and snags my abandoned stew.
"So good to finally eat." he sighs as he shovels food into his mouth. I laugh, it sounds hollow. Even George notices, though all he does is raise an eyebrow before continuing to tell me how hard it was to get little Fred asleep.
"Angie's shattered after trying to get him to stop bouncing across the room from the beds. She's gonna stay with him." We laugh, little Fred is so like his Dad its uncanny. I remember Mum yelling at the twins when they were little for doing the same thing.
"He's so like you guys were. You're screwed buddy."
"I know, bro, I know. It's awesome." He grinns at me. It's so good to see him happy again, smiling, laughing, living. Angie and Fred have done a wonder on him. I can feel my bitterness rising again, swallowing I turn away. Damn I want another drink. I worm my way through the living room, turning often to avoid you. I know Dad has a bottle or two hidden in the book case for emergencies.
Still single and surrounded by happy couples.
The woman of my dreams shacked up with my brother.
Yup sounds like an emergency to me. I skull the first glass, the burn feels good. I pour a second.
"Charlie, come say Hello to everyone." Mum drags me away from my corner and towards everyone.
"Tsk, you reek of liquor dear." I roll my eyes as Mum clings to my arm calling everyone over. Of course I do, I've only spent the entire day drinking, hoping to avoid everyone till tomorrow. Ginny engulfs me in a hug, Harry and Ron clapping me on the shoulder in greeting. My smile is forced, I just want to run away. But suddenly you're there again, pulling me into a tight hug as you wrap your arms around my neck. Merlin does it feel good.
"It's so good to see you Charlie." You whisper against my neck. Your hair still smells the way I remember, I breathe in your scent as I snake an arm around your waist holding you tight against me before I force myself to pull away. My throat feels like lead as I sip my drink.
"Seriously Charlie, what's wrong?"
"Nothin'. Why would anything be wrong. Your happy living with him." I grumble as I shrug and shoulder passed you and trudge up to my room leaving my half empty glass on the kitchen bench. I ignore the worried looks my siblings throw my way, the whisper of Ron asking if you're ok. I flop into the blankets and sleep takes me before I hit the pillow.
My dreams are of you as they so often are. I dream of the battle, how tired you all looked at the end with Rons arm around your waist holding you up. I'd run to you then, clutching you both and kissing your cheek and then his too, covering up how damned happy I was that you were alive.
I dream of the letter Bill had sent when you three turned up at the cottage, the tears of relief as I'd read the two words messily scrawled on the page. They're alive.
I even dream of the letters you've still been sending the last couple of years,the photograph of you and Ginny at your graduation, hugging and laughing as you walk down the front steps of Hogwarts sits on my desk at the reserve.
I wake in the morning groggy and my head pounding to see Ron at the doorway glaring at me. I can hear the kids running down the stairs banging on every door as they go, chanting about christmas and begging us all to get up.
"What?" I ask as Ron continues to glare but hands me a vial of hangover potion.
"You're avoiding her."
"No I'm not." I down the potion feeling the sweet relief sweep through me.
"Yeah, you are. She's upset." I shrug into a fresh t-shirt, its one you sent me for my birthday, dragons dance across the front.
"What you're not good enough to make your girlfriend feel better?" I snap at him. He barks a laugh, its sharp and makes me look over at him.
"Bloody hell, they say I'm dense."
"You are." I nudge him with my shoulder finally dressed my grey jeans turned up at the ankles.
"Not as dense as you, idiot. We only live together because it makes the rent cheaper in London. She's only my flat mate." He laughs again and walks away, to join the family downstairs.
I'm stunned. Staring after him, I'm almost sure I didn't hear him properly. I probably look insane the way mouth is hanging open as I shake my head. I'm not entirely convinced that I'm not. Coming to my senses I fling myself down the stairs two at a time, crashing into Ron as I reach the bottom. Rolling over I laugh as Jamie jumps on my belly yelling uncle in that adorable way kids do when they can pronounce things right yet. Tickling him, I scoop him up as I stand. Looking over to the couch where you're sitting with Ginny laughing. I smile, intending to walk over and talk to you.
Mum whisks Jamie out of my arms and insists everyone have breakfast before she'll let Teddy and Victoire hand out the presents under the tree. We've crowded back into the lounge, I've perched my self on the floor in front of the sofa you are sitting on, your squashed between Harry and Ginny. Jamie and Freddie keep crawling into my lap. I want to talk to you, but damn it I'm too nervous now that everyone is here, Ron keeps giving me knowing glances. Jamie reaches his arms out to you from where he's been snuggled into myshoulder.
"Hermione, Jamie sweety I'm not your aunty." You scoop him onto your lap and ruffle his hair.
"Give it up 'Mione. You're his aunty."
"Harry, I'm not your sister and I'm not a Weasley." I lean my head back against the arm of the sofa to look up at you as Ginny and I speak together.
"May as well be."
"What if you were." You look down at me, shock written on your face. Your expression is mirrored on everyone. Bill laughs. He's the only one I told, and only then because he forced me to when he'd noticed how my eyes had followed you that summer after the war before I returned to Romania. He and Fluer scoop the kids up and take them outside. They try to get others to go with them, Harry and Ron go, but the others wave them off. They clearly want to hear what I'm going to say next. I'm blushing, I hadn't meant to say it. I'd been planning to get you alone later, not blurt it out in front of my entire family.
"What was that?"
"Well..um. If you were...a Weasley I mean. Aunty would be ok then?" I laugh nervously, scrubbing a hand through my hair as I turn to sit cross legged on the floor at your feet.
"Well of course, but I don't see..."
"Marry me?" I can't help myself, I've interrupted you before I can think if this is wise, or the most reckless thing I've ever done.
"I..um.." You're speechless, but your eyes bore into mine as if searching my soul. I rise up a little, my hands on your knees.
"I've never stopped loving you, please marry me?" I say it with confidence this time. I barely have time to react as you fling yourself off the sofa and into my arms, peppering my face with kisses as you laugh.
"Yes, Charlie. Yes." We grin at each other, my hand slides into your hair as I lean in to kiss you. I can feel the emptiness and bitternes melt away, I'm so damned happy. We pull apart to the wolf whistles around us and I can't stop smiling.
"Well this is new." Dad laughs as mum squeals hugging us and welcoming you as an official member of the family. You pull me back up to the sofa, where I lean against the arm with you snuggled into my side and my arms wrapped around you.
"Ok you two...spill." Ginny laughs as you tell her about the letters, that first chocolaty kiss and I'm relieved when you don't tell her about the rest of that night. I don't need my family...our family hearing that. I don't think I've ever been happier.