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Chapter 1: Graduation
Awesome chapter image by noxxx @ TDA
Chapter 1 - Graduation
We were destructive. There’s really no other way to put it. It wasn’t bad, not even close. Everything about us being together, how we felt with each other, was perfect. But that perfection wasn’t enough to calm the hurricanes that always seemed to be raging.
I fell in love the way a sixteen year old does — fast, hard, and irrevocably. Charlie did, as well. No matter what happened in the end, there was no question about it. He had truly loved me. He made me his everything, the way I made him mine.
You know what’s more dangerous in a relationship than not loving each other enough? Loving each other too much. It’s like that fire that you just keep adding fuel too. You know you can’t control it, and there’s no prayer of calming it down, but you keep feeding it. We were that.
The fabric of my robes seemed heavier than usual, thicker. They forced heat to gather at the base of my neck, creating an uncomfortable, sticky feeling. I closed my eyes and began to concentrate, to imagine what I wanted. Too hot, short hair. Pixie short hair, like a fairy. Dark? Light? Damn, I couldn’t choose… Dark. Very dark. When I opened my eyes again, I let my hands explore the new style, pleased with the refreshing feeling of wind tickling the nape of my neck.
“There you are,” Charlie said with a smile as headed my way. It hadn’t taken him long to find me sitting out on the Quidditch pitch. Any other day, I would have been ecstatic to watch him saunter over, oozing confidence, but today I wasn’t. I knew what would happen.
We were Hogwarts graduates for nearly half an hour now. No longer students. Ready to step into the real world. It should have been one of the happiest days of my life.
“What are thinking about?” he asked, taking a seat beside me on the grass. He’d already shed his dress trousers for a pair of jeans. Charlie had discovered the clothing item from a muggle-born in our third year, and I swear he wears them every chance he gets. Probably because he knows how delicious his butt looks.
“You know how jealous I always was of you? Every game I’d sit in the stands and imagine what it felt like to be up there chasing the Snitch, so sure of yourself.” I squinted as I tried to look past the sun and into the sky. He’d spent so much time up there, practicing, playing, winning. Charlie always won.
“You went flying with me plenty of times,” Charlie answered. He was right, of course. I was never coordinated enough to play, but I was still a decent flyer. Although being on a broom alone wasn’t anything compared to flying with him. Getting to feel his body tense as he leaned forward to shoot us farther into the sky.
Part of me was happy that we had a few minutes alone. I didn’t know why, because nothing good would come out of what we’d talk about next.
“My mum says hi,” Charlie said, leaning back on his elbows. I became exceedingly aware of the density in his voice. Something was wrong. I knew what was wrong, but I didn’t want to hear it just yet. Not ever, actually.
“Fat chance she did. She doesn’t even remember my name,” I added, forcing my voice to sound playful. I’d only met Molly a few times. She knew Charlie had a girlfriend, of course. I’m sure she even liked me well enough, but she wasn’t the easy going type of mother that I was raised with. More of a… control-your-every-move, type. So naturally no one would ever be good enough for her son.
“Course she does. Besides, it’s not like your parents could write a book about me or anything.”
Charlie was wrong about that. My parents could probably write a book about him. He had no idea how often I had talked about him; it felt a bit pathetic even to me.
I suppose I hadn’t been telling mum and dad much this year, though. Even talking about him had gotten harder since deciding what careers we wanted to pursue after Hogwarts. Every time I brought him up to anyone, even my friends, it felt like I was already talking about a memory.
So I tried to keep myself reeled in. I reminded myself over and over that I was only sixteen when we started dating, then seventeen.. now barely eighteen. Just eighteen years old. And I had so much ahead of me.
Do you know how hard it is for an eighteen year old to try and convince herself that her first lover, the first man she gave everything to, would be forgotten because of her bright future? Pretty damn hard.
But I knew that having the talk would almost be better than not knowing. He’d spent months avoiding my what next questions, and until today, I’d stopped asking.
“I thought about what you said earlier,” Charlie began, searching my eyes with his. “Tonks, it wouldn’t be easy.” I felt my heart begin to shake. This was it.
“I can’t just take a portkey from Romania to England every few days. And we both know you’re going to get a letter any day accepting you into the Auror program. Moody basically offered you the position during your interview. We’ll both be so busy.” I tried to focus on his freckles as he spoke. Concentrating on something always seemed to help when my heartbeat felt too nervous to remain steady.
I could already feel the pressure building up, but I wouldn’t cry. I wouldn’t cry and I wouldn’t ask him to stay with me. It was his decision. I would walk way and pretend I was fine.
“This is all I’ve ever wanted, Nymphadora.” He knew I wasn’t paying attention. He only used my full name when he could sense my concentration slipping away. I didn’t even have the heart to lecture him for it. I looked up from the freckles scattered over his hands and met his light eyes.
“All I’ve ever wanted is to work with dragons. Only one or two people out of twenty are kept on after training. I have to be one of those people. You know what this means to me.” My fingers began picking at the grass. I need a distraction, something.
I nodded my head, trying to silence the voice inside that asked what about me? What do I mean to you? This was Charlie’s dream. I would never stand in the way or make him feel guilty for that.
“Do you get what I’m saying?” he asked in the tender voice he used only with me.
How was I supposed to answer that when my heart was lodged in my throat? When my stomach was twisting and aching? How was I supposed to tell him that I understood, when it took every ounce of control to keep my composure?
“I need to get back to the Great Hall—”
“Tonks,” he interrupted, stalling my frantic need to get as far away as I could. “It’ll be hard, really hard, but I think we can do this.”
It took me longer than it should have. Like I was frozen. I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t. How was I going to make the best Auror the office had ever seen if my reactions were this slow?
The smile that radiated up into his eyes made it clear that he was really saying what I thought. That I hadn’t been hearing things or making up some delusional world where everything works out in my favor. Although, that world wouldn’t be too terrible of a place.
My fingers released the blades of grass that I’d been so set on crumpling, and somehow found their way intertwined with his.
“Charlie.” I tried to catch the breath that had been knocked from me, but just as I did his solid arms snaked around me and pulled me into his lap. The familiar heat of his lips on mine was enough to force the tears I’d been holding back to fall.
“I’m really that bad?” he asked laughing as he pulled away and brushed the tears aside.
“Well, I wouldn’t say bad.” My lips broke into a smile as everything began to sink in. It would be okay. We could do this.
“Maybe you can even come help me get set up in Romania before you have to start Auror training?”
“That’s a fairly sneaky way of trying to get someone else to unpack for you.” I tried to sound serious, but there was nothing that could take away from the excitement in my voice. He was still mine. For now, he was mine.
His arms pulled me into him again and the soft print of his lips fell over my neck.
“You know, I could get used to this one,” he said as he raised his fingers to my hair and teased the pointy ends.
I’ll kill him. I will. I’ll feed him to one of his precious dragons.
“Nymphadora!” His voice came through the small cottage, I felt my annoyance meter tick up just another notch.
“Charlie! I’m trying to put together a damn bed. You can get the shower curtain on by yourself!” I pulled a hair tie from the pocket in my jumper and bunched my currently pink locks up in it.
We’d spent all afternoon working our arses off to get Charlie’s new home cleaned up. Neither of us had done a ton of house hold spells in the past, so we ended up with plates washing themselves too hard and breaking in the sink, cleaners going off their rocker and spraying everything… It hadn’t been pretty, but we finished. And now I just wanted to get this bed made so we could take a nap. Or…
“You told me last week that this would be fun,” Charlie said with a pout as he stomped out of the bathroom. Even through my irritation, I could barely hide a smile at the sight of him shuffling around like a little boy.
“It was the day of graduation and I thought you were about to toss me. I would have said anything.” I finished my wand work with a flick and the fitted sheet continue to tuck itself in. It seems I’d gotten that spell down, thank God.
“I still can’t believe you spent all day thinking I was just going to dump you minutes after we graduate. I mean we talked about-”
“We didn’t talk about anything.” I copied my most hated move that my mum makes and began wagging my finger at Charlie. And of course, as my own personal punishment, a stray spider web latched onto it.
“Dammit.” I tried to shake the silky thing from my hand, and glared up at Charlie for his lack of help. “What I was saying, is we didn’t talk about anything. I guess it just seemed like the easiest thing.”
I turned back to the bed, happy to see some sun flickering in from the small window. My wand felt light in my hand as I started to repeat the tucking spell with a swish, only to be distracted by calloused hands rubbing down my arms.
“I think we’ve done enough work for one day.” I could feel him smiling against the back of my neck as he pulled me into him. The butterflies that always seemed to dwell in the pit of my stomach were alive in an instant.
“What do you say…” he began before cutting himself off by nuzzling against my shoulder. “What do you say we see what kind of trouble we can get into?”
I laughed, ignoring the steady hum of my body. Both of us were too curious of people to let a new country go unexplored at our feet. Even for.. we’ll, you know.
“That sounds brilliant.” I turned around to face him, happy to see the heat flickering in his eyes. Part of me wasn’t even sure why I’d been so worried on Graduation day. This was Charlie, after all.
“But first,” and before I could catch my breath his body was on top of mine, his fingers dancing up to lace our hands together.
“Is anyone here? Mr. Weasley?” A light, airy voice broke through our nest. I felt my cheeks go scarlet as a slender redhead opened the bedroom door. “Er, sorry,” Red began with an eyebrow raised. “I’m Ashton, your roommate.”
This short story collection is dedicated to my awesome beta reader and friend, Dan (CambAngst). I would go crazy most of the time without him to bounce ideas off of and vent to. He has a soft spot for Tonks and Charlie, so I hope I can do them justice!