Chapter 1 : Didn't Mean to Fall in Love with You
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“Ottery St. Catchpole? Why I thought I’d never hear that name again!” the bar tender exclaimed, slapping down a large flagon of butterbeer in front a girl who was apparently just getting to know the man. He was a kind bartender and made it a point to know all his patrons. Of course, those who came and went but rarely returned, he could hardly be accountable for them. On the contrary, anyone who had returned more than three times – well, he was on a first name basis with them and in most cases he had prodded out some sort of life story. The bartender, Alin was his name, was attentive, loved listening to stories, and always took care of his customers.
“You’ve heard of it?” the girl asked, not sounding so much surprised as she did aloof.
“I sure have, why there’s only one other-”
“Alin, can I get four butterbeers and three Firewhiskeys!” a man called out loudly as he and his friends stumbled into the pub looking as though the night’s drinking had been going on for quite awhile.
Meanwhile, across the room, attentive ears had picked up on the conversation at the bar, where the girl sat sipping on her butterbeer and curiously watching the barkeep and the new customers.
The pub was small and conversations carried easily, so it was no surprise that he had overheard the brief snatch of small talk before the new comers had bustled into the pub sounding rowdy and obnoxious. Any hope of eavesdropping further was promptly lost.
Ottery St. Catchpole.
How on earth had that name found its way into this pub? He gazed now at the girl whose back was turned to him. She had dirty blond hair that was caught up messily on the back of her head, as though she had thrown it up hastily. A few strands and wisps danced about with minds of their own. She was obviously a witch because this wasn’t a Muggle pub. He thought he had met most of the witches and wizards in the city here. Maybe she was new, or visiting.
The girl shifted, taking longer drinks now as the barkeep returned to their conversation. She was wearing dark blue robes and large earrings dangling from her ears, but from this distance it was impossible to tell what shape or form they took.
As he continued to gaze – or was he staring now? – he noticed the barkeep looking pointedly right at him. The girl’s attention did not follow the bartender’s gaze. Alin was purposefully trying to get his attention. The question was, did he want to bother, or not?
Having only enjoyed one butterbeer so far, the night was far from over. He was feeling rather lighthearted tonight so he took the proffered wordless suggestion, pushed up from his table of one and carried his flagon toward the bar. She was the only person sitting at the bar, so he took his choice of stools and decided to be direct. He sat on the stool immediately to her left.
“Ottery St. Catchpole, huh?” he said, casting a sideways glance at the blond next to him. He immediately recognised her, though her eyes were very different from how he remembered them, and her eyebrows seemed content to rest for once.
“Alin! Can I get another?” he called down the bar to where the barkeep was attending to other drink orders.
“You got it, boss!” Alin called back. He had a funny habit of calling people ‘boss,’ among other random nicknames.
“Ottery St. Catchpole,” she repeated as they both sat watching Alin. She turned her eyes on the new comer and considered him carefully. His ginger hair looked light and sunned and fell in shaggy layers around his face and ears. Already she noticed a habit he had of shaking the hair off his forehead or out of his eyes. His eyes – they were a stunning blue that she remembered. It was a familiar blue, a gleaming blue. His characteristic freckles were running rampant across his nose, cheeks and forehead. They gave quite the illusion of a glorious tan.
He was glancing between her and Alin, looking pleasant and amiable. His Muggle clothing consisted of loose fitting jeans and a dark grey T-shirt that looked too large for him but had a peculiar tendency to hug his body in certain places. The most probable guess had to be that his muscles were straining the fabric across his chest, shoulders, and biceps. That certainly set him apart from his brothers.
“Here you are, chiefs. One for each of you,” Alin grinned, setting down a butterbeer in front of the lad and a flagon of an odd light blue drink in front of the lass.
“What’s that?” the redhead asked.
“Somethin’ special,” the barkeep answered, winking and returning to other customers who had approached to request more drinks. The pub was filling up and a few others were claiming seats at the bar.
“It’s Dragon’s Flare,” she replied, catching his attention.
“Dragon’s Flare?” he asked, surprised. “Do you have a thing for dragons?” His mouth smirked and his eyebrows quirked up. His mischievous grin had been seen and known in the pub many times over. He was practically best mates with the barkeep, and truth be told, few others visited more often than he did.
“Well, I hear you do,” she replied, casting her own amused expression complete with raised eyebrows.
“You’ve heard, huh?” he grinned.
“I know what they call you,” she shrugged, sipping her Dragon’s Flare.
“What’s that?” he nodded, remembering his own butterbeer.
“The Red Dragon.” She smiled and stared into his eyes as though boring into him. Her gaze was so intent that for a moment he wondered if he would have to employ the use of Occlumens. He wasn’t highly proficient in it, but he had certainly learned it when preparing for the War of the Ages.
“So you’re into dragons?” he challenged back, still smirking and returning her gaze. At last he pulled his eyes away and stared at the shelves of glasses across from them.
“Charlie Weasley, I do think you’re trying to chat me up,” she stated in what would have been a scolding voice except it came out rather dreamy more than anything else.
“Chat you up, why little Luna Lovegood, I could never do such a thing!” He reacted in a false scandalised tone.
“And why not?” Her eyebrow quirked.
“Lunalove, you’re like my little sister, and the same age as her, I might add.”
“Ah, the old nickname comes back.” She grinned mystically at him over her flagon. He returned the easy smile, feeling a bit content and warm.
“You seem different,” Charlie said in a tone that promised to steer the conversation into more serious territory.
“So do you.”
“I’m not different, just got old. But you, you’ve changed.” There was silence.
“Didn’t we all?”
“You were part of the Six, weren’t you?” She nodded and sipped her drink.
“Tell me about it?” Charlie requested with a gentle push in his voice
“Hasn’t Ginny done that?” Maybe Luna didn’t want to discuss it. Then again, she had a queer way of being both straight forward and mysterious. Who knew with her?
“No.” He shifted in his seat. “She won’t say much. Even when Harry and the others come ‘round, even now that time’s passed…”
“No, she wouldn’t want to talk about it.” Luna sighed. She was lost for a moment, but only a short moment. Her eyes had peered off into the distant corner of the pub, but she was seeing something else.
“Why not?” Charlie had been left to form his own conclusions from his suspicions because of the lack of details from those who had been so closely involved in the war.
“It wasn’t exactly a fun experience.”
“The others will still talk about it though, even Neville. I’ve overheard a few conversations, but…”
“It was hard on Ginny.”
“And not the rest of you?” He peered at her in curiosity.
“It was hard on all of us. But Ginny…” Luna swallowed. She was dancing around the issue.
“I don’t think she really knew what she was getting into.”
“And you did?” He hadn’t meant for it to come out condescending or patronising and he worried immediately if she would take it the wrong way. She stared at him.
“I realise everyone thinks I’m a dunce, and because I’m unconventional then I’m strange and odd and mindless. I know what people say. I’ve always been Looney Luna Lovegood.”
“Not to me.” A pause strained the conversation, making the air thick around them.
“No, you never called me that. Still… I knew I was facing certain death when I agreed to stand with Harry and fight.”
“Ginny didn’t?” He knew his little sister well enough, though not as well as Ron did, perhaps. Their differences in ages had created a little more distance between them. Still, it was hard to see Luna doing decently well while Ginny, well, she was fine so long as the war was avoided.
“I… I don’t think she really thought about it. She was left behind for awhile, still in love with Harry though. When she had the chance to join with me and Neville, well, I think she went for Harry. She knew the war was real, but I think she was just thinking about him. I don’t think she expected… the horrors we found.”
“Was it that bad?”
Luna answered him with a calculating gaze. “I suppose you were safe here in Romania, far away from the hell we went through.”
“If you mean to imply that I did nothing and ran away from danger, I beg to differ.” He knew his tone was short and defensive. He didn’t care.
“You beg to differ?” She returned the question with an amused smirk.
“I was heading up some international work for the Order. I saw my own battles. I have my own marks.”
“Indeed. And did you lose anyone?”
“Er, a couple of men…”
“But you didn’t have to watch your own father die, knowing it was your fault?”
“No, my father’s fi- Oh, Lunalove, you didn’t?” The hardness fell away from him as her words sunk in.
“What happened?” He wanted to put an arm around her or a hand on hers, but he felt a strange fear about what she might do, how she might react. He wasn’t used to that feeling.
“They were after the six of us. Killed a lot of people close to us. Even held Hermione and Neville prisoner for awhile. Captured, tortured. They were trying to get to Harry, and they were going through us. I went home to tell my Dad to go into hiding. I was followed but managed to escape only after watching them torture and murder of my father. Finally I made it back to base. Hermione and Neville were still missing. I cried on Harry’s shoulder a bit, didn’t want to tell him though, not another thing on his conscience.
“Had to keep going though. Had to do a rescue mission to get Neville and Hermione out. Draco Malfoy, of all people, ended up helping us. His father had been torturing and abusing them. Mr. Malfoy was going to rape Hermione when Draco stepped in, said to let him do it. She was so furious until she realised he wanted to help. They put on a great act for those listening at the door. Finally Draco snuck them all out. Then he was caught and killed for being a traitor.”
“Wow.” Charlie ran a hand through his hair and took a long drink. Ginny never spoke of all this, and Ron, well, he too avoided the details but for altogether different reasons than Ginny. His were protective reasons. But Charlie had seen the six together at the Burrow before. He knew they could talk together, share things only among themselves. But often the Six turned into the five. Ginny usually always found some reason to leave.
“Why is it so hard for Ginny, though?”
Luna sighed. “You can’t go through all that we went through and not be changed, Charlie. She wasn’t ready for it all, and there were more than a few missions where we had to rescue her. She started freezing up and then she had to become our Healer so she could stay back while we went on missions. On top of all that, she didn’t even get what she wanted out of the deal.”
“What did she want?”
“They’re not together. I noticed.” Charlie nodded, deep in thought as he sipped his butterbeer again. He wasn’t sure if he should feel bitter or angry or vengeful on behalf of his little sister. Then again, he had heard the stories of Harry’s very honest break up with Ginny before he left. The poor girl still had had a thing for him. He supposed he couldn’t hold it against Harry. Besides, he liked Harry.
“Yeah.” Luna’s answer seemed distant and far away. He tried to recall what he had said. Harry and Ginny, not together…
“Why not?” Charlie inquired, wondering if Luna knew.
“You’d have to ask Harry if you want the details. All I can say is, they’re very different people than who they were in their fifth and sixth years.”
“Ron and Hermione managed to come out all right.”
Luna laughed. “Yeah, well, seems opposites attracted. And after we saw a bit of action, Ron really changed, grew up a lot. He was really protective of us all. Harry’s second hand man, Hermione all the brains. Those three were quite the team… I heard Hermione’s expecting now?”
“Oh… Yeah, can’t believe it. My baby brother, a dad.” Charlie chuckled and Luna shook her head.
“You know, I think Ginny’s seeing someone now. But he wasn’t in the war. He’s at the Healer school with her. I think he’s French.” Charlie wasn’t sure why the random piece of information fell from him, but he thought Luna might like to know. The six were all still friends and kept up with each others’ lives.
“Good for her. She’s probably separating herself from every thing as best as she can.”
“What about you, and Neville and Harry? Any love after the war?” Charlie grinned slyly, feeling a shift in the air between them as the conversation turned a tad bit lighter.
Luna laughed. “You know I lived with them, right?”
“What? No…?” Charlie was taken aback. That was unexpected. Then again, it was Luna.
“Yeah, Ron and Hermione got married immediately, found a flat. Ginny went home. Me, Harry, and Neville got a flat together. None of us had a family to go home to. Spent a year living together, getting on our feet, figuring out what we wanted.”
“Hm, you living with two boys. That’s something, isn’t it?”
“Is it?” Luna lifted her eyebrows, a smirk on her face.
“Ever date either of them?” Charlie grinned, clearly prodding around.
Luna looked amused. “I could never date Neville. Some girl will absolutely be smitten with him, but it’s not me. I adore him, but he’s like my brother.”
“And Harry?” Charlie lifted an eyebrow, his suspicion showing on his face.
”I suppose I can tell you my secret. I fancied him a bit, but we were always just friends. In school, I, uh, fancied Ron, but I knew in those months the six of us were in the war that he and Hermione were together and would stay that way. Suppose I decided to crush on our hero. He was sweet enough but I think he wasn’t, and isn’t, ready, and I’m not his kind of girl anyway.”
“Who is? He’s the world’s hero, after all.” Charlie chuckled, having no idea what kind of girl it would take to land Harry.
“Don’t let him hear you say that!” While Harry didn’t mind the his close friends tossing the pseudo hero title around lightly, it often bothered him when it was used flippantly by the general public.
“So how’d you end up in Romania?”
“Ah, a much lighter story, my friend.” She patted his arm and ordered another Dragon’s Flare. “Well, my dad left his paper to me. I decided to put it into his second editor’s hands until I decide if I want to go into the business, later on. The editor had some contacts in Romania for the Organisation for the Protection of Rare and Misunderstood Magical Creatures. You know, Romania is the place for that, what with the dragons and all. So I decided I wanted to intern and study the creatures I’d read about all my life. I love magical creatures, you know. So, this is my first week here… a friend recommended this pub.”
“And lucky for me they did.” Charlie grinned.
“There you go again, trying to chat me up.”
Charlie rolled his eyes. “I told you, you’re too young for me. I’m an old man.”
“Well, you’re half right.” She sipped the odd blue drink.
“You are an old man. But I am not too young for you.” Her chin was stuck out resolutely.
“You’re Ginny’s age.”
Luna turned steely eyes on him. “I realise you are stuck on this whole age in numbers thing, but I assure you, I am not the child you are making me out to be. I have been through more than most people your age, and I am still here, still all right. Now, how can I convince you that I am no mere child and that I most certainly am not Ginny?”
Charlie sat silent, calculating her. “I get what you’re saying, Lunalove…”
“I still remember you as a kid. I see that little blond-headed girl in the Muggle poodle skirt, playing dress up, twirling around us boys and giggling. Do you remember that day Mum brought us over?”
“Yeah, it was after my Mum died. Dad needed some help.”
“Mum brought me and Bill and Percy over. Dad had the twins, Ron, and Ginny. But Mum wanted to go over and help, cook for your dad, and just be there, so she brought us along. I remember playing with you that day. We were all so much older but you got us down on the floor with your toys and we kept bewitching them.” They were both smiling.
“Remember that doll’s head that blasted off like a firework?” She stifled a giggle while Charlie chuckled.
“I always wanted brothers. And I was so happy to be distracted.” She sighed. Charlie reached over and patted her back tentatively. He wasn’t used to feeling uncertain around girls. She watched him for awhile, then slowly leaned over and kissed his cheek. A slight tinge coloured his skin under his freckles. Luna stood and remained in the space between their barstools, facing him and leaning over to whisper in his ear.
“What do you say we get out of here and go back to your place?” She pulled away and stared into his crystal blue eyes. He shook his ginger hair out of his face.
“Lunalove, I can’t-” He was interrupted by lips against his, smothering his refusal.
And then she whispered again, “You can, and you will. You’re going to walk me out of this pub and straight back to your flat where you’re going to show me around and we’re going to relax a bit.”
He held her gaze again as she pulled away. Then he downed the rest of his butterbeer, slapped some notes on the bar and led the way out of the pub. He didn’t miss the feeling of her hand sliding into his along the way, and then they disappeared, Apparating straight inside his front door.
“This is your place, huh? The bachelor pad,” Luna said with slight amusement as she surveyed the flat’s front room.
“Been a long time in the making,” Charlie replied with an air of distinctly humorous pride. The sitting room was occupied by a rather comfy looking sofa, accompanied by two large armchairs and a rug that accented the room wonderfully. The floor was covered in a soft cream coloured carpet that had certain worn down paths standing out against the otherwise plush surface in contrast. The room was lit with low lighting that created a wonderfully seductive aura when combined with the dark walls.
“Romantic,” Luna smirked.
“Want some tea? Coffee” Charlie ignored her jab.
“Tea is fine, thanks.” Charlie padded along the warm pathway to his kitchen, disappearing as Luna took the opportunity to fully acquaint herself with his home. There were family photos on the mantel, a couple on the bookshelf and even one on the table. She noticed no photos of any significant girls in his life, unless his mum or Ginny counted. He owned what looked like an impressive collection of dragon books. A few charts, some paperwork, diagrams and maps were scattered on the small table by the window in what should have been a breakfast nook. The front room appeared well lived in, yet orderly and neat. A blanket and a sweatshirt were slung over one of the armchairs, as though waiting for a sneaky cold draft. Luna was still studying her surroundings when Charlie reappeared.
“Here, it’s hot.” Charlie sat down on the sofa with his own cup of tea and set a modest plate of biscuits on the papers littering the small coffee table. They appeared to be reports or something of that nature. He invited Luna to sit and have some biscuits with her tea. Luna lowered herself onto the cushion on the sofa next to him. She wasn’t ridiculously close, but she was definitely next to him on his side of the sofa.
“I like your flat.”
“I share a flat with a couple of girls. Got too used to living with people, wasn’t ready to live alone, didn’t want to spend the extra money anyway.”
“Really? Are your roommates from England, too?” Charlie sipped his tea and shifted toward her, letting his eyes wash over her again.
“No. One girl is a mediwitch who’s trained to specialise in our organisation. You know, rare bites and attacks, unknown ailments or whatnot. Her name is Amy and she’s from America if you can believe it. She’s an all right American, though. She used to work as a mediwitch Healer for a Honduran Quidditch team. Can’t remember their name. She’s nice any way. The healthy sort, athletic, not very girlie. We’ve had some nice talks.”
“Sounds decent. And the other girl?”
“Anka. She’s from Poland and she came with her Polish boyfriend, Tomasz. He’s always at our flat.” Luna’s voice carried a distinct ring of disapproval.
“I take it you’re not fond of him?”
“He’s okay. They’re just always together, all the time. They even work together in the office. She’s a secretary and he’s… well, I haven’t managed enough conversation with him to know what it is that he does. They don’t exactly sit and chat with us when he’s over at the flat.” Luna’s voice was flat, but Charlie gave a chuckle.
“I guess you and Amy hang out then while your Polish friends are busy?”
“We do. She’s nice. But I miss being around other Brits.” Luna sighed, spent a moment in reflection, and then perked up again. Charlie wondered if she was thinking of any particular Brits that she missed.
“This is good tea, what is it?” she asked, licking the flavour from her lips.
“Peppermint with just a tad bit of sugar. My favourite.” Charlie grinned.
Luna sipped her last bit and put the teacup and saucer down on the table. “You have work tomorrow?”
“Yep, every week day and alternate weekends. Dragons are tough work.” So maybe he was exaggerating. They weren’t all that difficult as long as you knew what you were doing, and you enjoyed it. He fit both criteria. But it did take a lot of dedication and commitment.
“Are they?” Luna asked, her voice turning into a purr. “Tough work? Red Dragon?” Her slow and husky words were punctuated with her seductive smirk and raised eyebrow. Charlie felt his breath hitch slightly. Why should talking about dragons make him feel turned on? Maybe it had nothing to do with dragons and everything to do with her voice, and the way she so cleverly used it.
Silence fell in the room, each in their own world, alone though together. At last she made a move to end the loneliness, to forge a connection. Wordlessly, Luna moved closer to Charlie and easily slid herself onto his lap, watching him give a start with her nearness and presence. He looked up at her, his expression void of emotion. Luna slid her hands into his shaggy ginger hair, smoothing it away from his face. His eyes flitted over her features, watching her movements. Her hands slid down his neck, then along his shoulders and finally to his chest, both of them enjoying the contact through his shirt. He was still watching her, but his breath was a bit faster.
His hands absentmindedly found their way to her waist, holding her gently but firmly. Slowly and still silently, Luna leaned forward, closer and closer until her breath was falling against his cheek.
“Kiss me, Charlie.” And his self-control dissolved completely. He closed the nearly non-existent space between them and kissed her, his lips skilfully claiming hers. Luna’s hand moved to his neck again and she leaned into the kiss. His hands held her waist closer, finding the bottom of her shirt and slipping under to touch the bare skin of her back.
Luna’s lips were fast and needful against his, touching, caressing, crushing, and soothing. He applied more pressure and flitted his tongue along the most sensitive places until they were opening their mouths to one another, exploring in a wonderful world of sweet newness. One of Luna’s hands glided along his neck, up to cradle his face and finally into his hair. He tingled at her touch on his scalp, the ghosting of her fingers through his locks. Then her hand caught hold and she held on to his hair as she kissed him more fervently. A passion seemed to erupt from her and she moaned against his mouth, tugging softly on his hair as they tilted into the most comfortable positions for continued snogging.
In a quick moment without warning, Luna’s hands flew to the button on his jeans. Her fingers worked at the button and zip, in the process brushing against the strain in his jeans. Like a sudden flashing red light, Charlie’s self control came back abruptly, and he pulled away, Luna breathlessly panting as she fumbled with his clothing. Without giving her a chance to protest, he took hold of her arms and swiftly lifted her small frame off of him enough so he could get out from under her, leaving her sitting there while he stood and paced with a shaky hand running through his hair.
“I… I can’t…” he murmured.
“Don’t be daft-”
“No, I can’t. You’re a child. You’re like my baby sister. We can’t, Luna.” His voice was more firm, though still quiet.
Fast as lightning Luna was on her feet and very close to him, an aggressive hand clutching his arm to keep him facing her.
“I am not a child, and I am not your sister. Do you see red hair? Do you see a naïve expression on my face? I am a grown woman, old enough to make my own decisions and to know what I want. For once in my life, I want someone to stop making excuses, and just let it happen. I know how old you are, Charlie. You don’t have to keep reminding me. Your age doesn’t change the fact that I still want you.”
Charlie stared at her, again allowing himself the privilege of appreciating her face, the soft skin, the piercing gaze, and the wispy blond hair falling out of its place. His eyes were ravenous and hungry. The air between them stilled. It was thick with emotion, hesitation, and desire. A drip fell from the kitchen sink. The wind blew against the windows. A cold draft made its presence felt. His bold blue eyes were staring at hers, making that decision that was waiting for him.
Slowly his hand found her cheek, and he brushed the soft skin there, holding her face gently as he took in every inch with his roaming eyes. He leaned closer. Softly his lips fell against hers, but he pulled away before she could respond or deepen it. Then he kissed the edge of her mouth. He kissed her cheek. His lips brushed the skin near her eye, and then along her temple. Luna’s eyes were closed as she took in the soft fluttery sensations. Then his low and gruff voice whispered against her ear.
“Come on,” and she felt his hand slip into hers, dwarfing her tiny, feminine hand in his large, rough, dragon-keeper’s hand. She peered up at him, watching as he stepped away from her and following as he led her out of the room and down his hallway. Her eyes were too focused on him to take in the paintings and photographs along the hallway. There would always be time for that some time. Now, she just wanted to appreciate him.
The last door on the hall was his room. She knew this because he led her inside and shut the door behind them, revealing to her a somewhat messy bedroom, though not as messy as she might have expected, or as she had seen before. A few clothes were strewn about, two books lying open on a desk, parchments and random objects lying in the places where they had been abandoned. His bedding was only slightly rumpled, and, she noticed, it was definitely a bed that easily fit more than one person. He was living the life in this flat, enjoying the single bachelor’s run of the place.
She felt his presence stir behind her, and there he was standing against the back of her, sweeping her hair off her shoulders and placing sensuous kisses along her neckline. She smiled, though he couldn’t see it, and spun into his waiting arms, grinning as he pulled her body against his. They were locked in another passionate kiss, but this time, the clothes began to fall.
First, his T-shirt was off and thrown somewhere behind her. Luna’s hands ran along his bare chest, appreciating every skilful muscle. She had seen a fair share of boys shirtless, including Ron, Neville, and Harry, but they held nothing on a dragon-keeper. Charlie had large, toned muscles, though nothing so large as to look strange or ill proportioned. No, he looked beautiful, in a rugged manly way. Even his stomach was well defined, and she couldn’t resist sweeping her fingertips along his skin, finally wrapping her arm around his waist and kissing against his freckled chest. It was obvious that he had spent many a day shirtless in the sun. There was no difference from his skin tone on the flesh underneath his shirt. He was a tanish, freckled colour all over.
They paused their snogging, and Charlie peered down at her as he fingered the buttons on her shirt, taking his time in working at them, as though he wanted to give her another chance to back out. She didn’t, and he moved faster, finally loosening them all and pushing the shirt back over her smooth shoulders. His rough palms brushed along her white skin, almost tickling himself with the softness of it. Her shirt fell to the floor while he skimmed his hands along the skin of her arms. She stared up into his face, adoring his tender expression, and she placed a kiss on his mouth, followed by a shy smile. He grinned.
Looking down, Luna began fumbling with his button and zip again, finally freeing his waist of the pesky jeans, pushing at them until they fell off of him. His toned legs matched his toned upper body, and Luna knew this kind of physical condition came from hard work and nothing else. His legs weren’t near as tanned as his upper body, and she concluded that he must always wear trousers outside.
Luna’s work trousers had some odd hook instead of a button, and Charlie’s hands were a little inept as he tried to get the tiny clasp open. Luna giggled and helped him herself, tossing them off finally, and then resting her knicker-clad body against his.
He was rough and she was smooth. He was tall and she was short. He was broad while she was petite. He was dark and she was light. They were so entirely opposites, but the opposite felt so right.
Charlie’s lips landed softly against Luna’s in a sweet and tender kiss. He progressed slowly, taking his time to adore each inch of her lips and mouth. He was also guiding her backward toward the bed. Her calves bumped the bottom of it and they both clambered back onto the soft bedding, lips meeting again when they were both resting comfortably, lying next to one another.
His hands slid along her skin, distracting them both as he reached for her bra clasp. With her help again, the material fell to the floor. Another kiss, and another roving hand tickling her hips and pulling at her knickers. They disappeared somewhere in the darkness. He moved over her, hovering as he kissed her neck. Luna’s hands made quick work of shedding Charlie’s shorts, and she moaned into his mouth when his body rested against hers, skin on skin sending electric shocks racing up and down her insides.
Her breath caught in her throat as Charlie’s lips danced down her neck and across her throat. He placed kiss after kiss along her collarbone, then down her chest to her stomach where his lips tickled and his kisses drove her wild with anticipation. He kissed her to her hips, then made his way back up, slow, calculating, and methodical. It was like a dance. His lips were teasing at her shoulders, grazing up her neck, flitting across her chin and cheek, and finally tickling her ear. Then his ragged breath topped off the sizzling sensations.
“Lunalove.” It was just her name, an old nickname, one she hadn’t heard in years, one probably only he called her. But his voice – so gruff and throaty. She shivered.
“Red Dragon…” The sensuous whisper… And it was like fireworks.
Charlie awoke, slightly disoriented. The room was dark and he was hesitant to open his eyes. He searched his mind to recall whatever he had last done before sleeping.
His hand reached out, brushing along the mattress, tangling in the sheets, searching, feeling. Nothing, no one. He peeked an eye open and gazed at the empty bed, feeling a bit morose. He swallowed and raised his gaze to the moonlight streaming through the window.
Moon light. Obstructed moonlight. She hadn’t left.
Luna was sitting at the window seat, staring out at his view of the city and the view of the stars. She was wearing his T-shirt that had been so hastily discarded, and, Charlie guessed, her knickers. He wondered why she was awake, and what time it was, and why he had woken up. Glancing at the clock he realised it was nearly five in the morning. The sun would rise soon. He had an idea.
Quietly he pulled himself out from the covers, slipping into his shorts and yawning. She was still watching the stars, but he was certain that she was aware of his moving. He wandered quietly across the room to the window seat, watching her. She was transfixed. Her back was leaned against the wall, her legs pulled up under her chin, only the side of her body facing him. He wanted to touch her, to hold her, to take away whatever was bothering her, or to listen to whatever memory was visiting her.
He reached out and tucked her hair behind her ear, brushing his hand against her face. She leaned her cheek into his palm and closed her eyes.
“What were you looking at?”
“What were you thinking about?” Silence. She turned her face until her lips brushed his palm, and then she proceeded to kiss the nerve-filled skin there, sucking and flicking her tongue against his hand. It was like nerve-overload and he wanted to pull away but he wanted her to continue. She kissed his palm again, then looked up at him.
“I have an idea.” He gave her a half smile to accompany the suggestion.
“An idea?” she whispered, quirking her head to the side.
“Yeah, something special I want you to see. Come with me?”
“Okay.” She nodded and moved to stand up, taking his hand for a moment.
“Nice shirt.” He grinned. She smiled, her eyes twinkling. “Just a second though. We need clothes.” He let go of her hand and turned to his wardrobe, rummaging around.
“Here, put on these sweat pants.” He tossed her a pair of grey ones and stepped into some black ones himself. “And you’ll need this.” A navy hooded sweatshirt flew through the air at her, while he pulled a grey one on over his bed-head hair. His sweatshirt was rather worn looking. He had had it since Hogwarts, but it was his favourite. He’d given her one of his better looking ones.
“Where are we going?”
“You’ll see. We’re Apparating.”
“Give me a ride?” she grinned, implying the she desired to Apparate in piggyback style. Charlie shrugged, returning her smile, and allowed her to hop onto his back, her small frame barely adding any weight. He held onto her under her legs and she wrapped her arms around his shoulders, preparing for the uncomfortable twisting and squeezing of Apparating.
When they finally landed, Luna gazed around, surprised to find that they were outside. It was dark and there was moonlight, but also a very, very faint light was hazing the horizon, beckoning for the morning’s arrival. A chilly mist layered the grass beneath them. Her body shivered in the cold breeze and she huddled closer to Charlie’s body, vying for his warmth. Then she fell utterly still.
One of the most beautiful and elegant creatures Luna had ever laid eyes upon was lying before her, breathing deeply as fog poured from its nostrils and its rotund belly floated up and down. Luna slid wordlessly off of Charlie, standing awe-struck.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” Charlie whispered. They were standing inside the grounds of the dragon’s keep. No cages separated Luna from the most brilliant dragon she had ever seen. A soft pink tinge brushed along the sophisticated scales of the creature. Her eyes were closed and she looked so incredibly peaceful and exquisite. The mist was billowing around her, the grass bowed before her presence. Her tail flicked slightly in her sleep.
Luna wondered if dragons dreamed, and if so, what they dreamed of.
She had seen the dragons at the Triwizard Tournament, but she hadn’t been so close to them. She’d heard Harry talk about his dragon, but it seemed like such a fairy tale. Here she stood immediately before a real live dragon, and her eyes did not deceive her; she was gorgeous, exotic, dazzling and magnificent. The pure magic seemed to radiate from the creature, and Luna couldn’t help but feel a strange swelling in her heart and soul from standing before such raw beauty and magic.
“I… I love dragons.” Her voice was an awed whisper.
“I thought you might,” Charlie answered in the same reverent tone. His arm curled around her and she leaned into him, reluctant to turn away from the dragon even for him.
“She’s so… she’s just so…”
“Magical?” Charlie guessed.
“Yes!” Luna breathed. They stood for some time, arm in arm, watching the dragon sleep, shifting her large body every so often. The darkness around them began to fade. A soft light peeked over the horizon, throwing the dragon into a gentle silhouette and shading everything near her. A glow lit the dragon’s uneven back, along the edge, and she appeared even more enchanted.
Luna was smiling as she finally turned into Charlie, wrapping her arms around him and leaning into his sweatshirt. He rubbed her back and wordlessly leaned his head against hers. Luna’s hands snaked their way under Charlie’s sweatshirt and rested against his back. His body jolted and a quick intake of breath followed.
“Your hands are freezing,” he whispered.
“I know. I want them warmed up,” she answered.
“I’ll warm you up,” he smirked and kissed her forehead.
“So I guess you finally got over that whole age thing?” Luna taunted, still holding her cold hands against his warm back.
“Yeah… I’m all yours.” To what extent this declaration went, neither were sure and neither bothered to pursue it.
“Oh dear, it’s light. That means I need to get to work.”
“I left my clothes at your flat.” She stated this as though it was something obvious he had forgotten.
“You can come back tonight and get them.”
“Charlie Weasley, do you mean to presume that I’m your call girl and will show up at your beck and call whenever you desire?”
“I would do no such thing. But I do want to see you again.” He pulled back and stared into her eyes. They were both wearing gentle, un-intimidating and non-outlandish smiles.
“Shall we meet at the pub again after work?” Luna suggested.
“It’s a deal.” In moments and without any sort of real parting, goodbye, or tying up of the previous night’s loose ends, they merely Apparated to their separate homes, content to prepare for another day and not over think things
Charlie had been slightly detained finishing up a few reports for his day’s work with the dragons but he still managed to make it to the pub not long after a normal work shift ended. He thought Luna might already be there, but there was no sign of her anywhere. Refusing to think on it, he positioned himself at the bar and struck up a conversation with Alin. The bartender, naturally, was quite interested in Charlie and Luna’s disappearance together the previous night. Charlie allowed a few things to slip out, but all in all he usually kept things pretty private, at least the important things.
Hrm, important things.
After two butterbeers, Luna still hadn’t shown up. Charlie was slightly bothered but kept telling himself not to be. He gazed at the liquid in his flagon and began wondering what exactly Luna had intoxicated herself with the previous night. Perhaps it had all been a terrible catastrophe. She might have been far to inebriated to have remembered a thing, much less retained an ounce of control. She hadn’t seemed drunk the night before but, then, Charlie had never seen her drunk.
What a mess this could be.
“So, where is that lass, eh?” Alin asked Charlie as he wiped down the bar. Charlie gazed unseeingly at Alin until he was shaken free from his thoughts.
“I dunno. Say, I’ve got a question for you, Alin.”
“You know that Dragon’s Flare she drinks?”
“Sure do, boss.”
“What’s in it?”
“Well, some soda water, a bit of colouring, a couple mixed flavours. Nothing too special, but special enough that it’s rare!” Alin was always delighted to discuss drinks. It was rather like art for him.
“No, I mean what kind of alcohol?”
“Why there’s none in it, Drag. Nothing but mainly soda water. Not a bit of alcohol. Strange eh? What kind of lass comes to a pub and drinks soda? Ah, but it’s special, and so’s she I ‘spect.”
“Yeah,” Charlie nodded vaguely. No alcohol. There went his grand explanation for why Luna was missing. What a burn this was turning out to be. After all that convincing, after all his fighting, and now…
The door flew open and a cold wind swept the room. Charlie immediately looked over, but it was only a batch of blokes coming in – no girl, no blond hair, no Luna. But there was an owl. It was a plain tawny one, and it looked extremely out of place in the pub.
More surprising than the owl flying in was its landing on the bar right in front of Charlie. Perplexed, he freed the bird of its letter and unrolled it in expectation.
Couldn’t make it off work tonight to meet you. I’m backed up with training and orientation. If you still want to see me, maybe you can come over? I think you know where the organisation is located.
Charlie considered the simple note. Nothing special, no proclamations, nothing heart changing or life altering. Just a letter, just a brief explanation, just a suggesting to join her.
Charlie took a last swig from his butterbeer and called Alin over.
“How much, eh?” Charlie asked, taking notes out from his wallet.
“Are you leaving early, Chief?”
“What is it?” Alin inquired, then told Charlie how much his bill was.
“I’ve got to see about a girl.” Charlie set the notes on the bar.
“I’ve got to see about a girl!” Alin echoed loudly. “Now, boss, I’ve heard that one before!”
“You have? Tell me, how did it turn out?” Charlie was more curious about the answer than he would admit.
“How’d it turn out? Well, chief, without fail only the best thing they could hope for is what happened next! You go see about that girl then!” Alin released a good-natured, jovial laugh as he wandered down along the bar, wiping it clean again. Charlie watched him for a moment, the rose and headed for the door.
And then he went to her.
Author’s Note: “I’ve got to see about a girl,” is a line from Good Will Hunting, an excellent and most favored movie of mine.