Chapter 6 : Hatching Day
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I put down my quill and reread the paragraph. Satisfying enough, I supposed. I’d probably write more later and the girls would probably want to add their own analysis. I glanced over to my egg. Freckle wasn’t alone; a couple other eggs were lined in cauldrons next to him. All around me, I could see the other freshmen eyeing their eggs cautiously while trying to do their homework in silence. Hatching Day must be coming close for them as well.
Hatching Day. I felt squeamish just thinking about it. According to DeMonte, it would be a week or so before the egg hatched, which meant it would either be today or tomorrow. Margareth had given us with a bucket of brandy mixed with chicken blood to be fed to the dragon as soon as it hatched for every half an hour. Yes, alcohol and blood. No wonder dragons are so aggressive.
The first few days were surprisingly easy. During class, we dropped the egg off at the Infirmary and let Margareth watched over it. After class, it was our turn to keep an eye on it. We had to keep it warm, so we placed it near the fireplace everywhere we went. The Study Hall and the library’s fireplaces were rarely empty during these days, as eggs were always aligned in front of them. Everyone was worried about accidentally picking up somebody else’s eggs, so we all put some sort of mark on our eggs. But after a couple of days, you just knew which one was yours, and nobody bothered to mark their eggs again. Professor DeMonte explained it as a bond between the egg and the mother, or in this case, the tamers. The egg recognized your touch and you instinctively recognized the egg. Once it hatched, the dragon would have an attachment to the one whose touch he recognized, and it would make it easier for us to take care of him. However, Professor DeMonte warned us that the dragon would only recognize one of us as the mother. The others he would tolerate, but he wouldn’t be as tame as to the mother. We couldn’t tell which one of us would be the mother yet, but I hoped it wouldn’t be me.
I tore my gaze away from Freckle and picked up Ella’s letter. Crème, our family owl, had delivered Ella and Dad’s letters this morning. She was always really quick, since she was used to delivering long-distance mails. She did look really exhausted though, so I took her to the Owlery and let her rest.
Turning my attention back to the letters, I couldn’t help smiling as the familiar, sloppy handwriting greeted my eyes.
Seven years in Hogwarts and you only had, what, two boyfriends? You only spent a month there and you’ve got a date and talked to Charlie Weasley! Did you turn into a boy magnet on the way to Romania? Well, anyway, I think Gavin sounds really sweet, but if you want your chance with Charlie, you should tell him you don’t want to be his girlfriend. If you don’t want to tell him now, tell him after the date. Besides, who knows? You might actually enjoy spending your time with him.
Ouch, I don’t think I’d survive PE, but you’ll get used to it. And I know you hate dragons, but your classes sound really cool. Raising a baby dragon sounds tough, but I’m sure you can handle that. Freckle is a cute name, by the way. You have to tell me all about him once the egg hatches. Send me some pictures as well, alright?
I’m doing great here. Muggle Relations might not require much, but the work is a bit harder than I thought. I’m doing mostly paperwork at the moment, but sometimes they ask me to assist some of the Aurors or any Ministry worker who needs help when it comes to dealing with Muggles. It’s kind of fun sometimes, but it’s just so lonely without you. When are you coming home? Do you think your father would let me tag along when he goes to visit you there?
Anyway, I’m sending you Penelope’s letter too. She said she would send it on her own, but she was afraid it would take forever. I really think we should buy a new owl for her next birthday. Agrippa is getting way too slow.
Write back soon, okay? I need something to cheer me up these days. Don’t forget to tell me all about Freckle and Charlie!
Lots of love,
I grinned as I placed down Ella’s letter. This would be the longest time I had been separated from her ever since we met in our first year, and I missed her terribly. Lisa, Dawn, and Allison were great friends, but they didn’t understand me as well as Ella did. Crème did her best at flying back and forth between England and Romania, but there was still two weeks wait between letters and a lot could happen in those two weeks.
Sighing, I picked up Penelope’s letter. But before I could start reading, a shadow fell over me. For a moment I expected Gavin to be standing in front of me. It wasn’t him though; it was Charlie. He smiled down to me and I was suddenly aware of how awful I must’ve looked. I had come straight from PE, stopping only to take a quick shower to wash off the sweats. Therefore, I was dressed in an old red t-shirt and a pair of faded denim. It wasn’t the kind of impression I wanted to leave him, but there was nothing I could do about it now. Pushing these thoughts to the back of my mind, I returned his smile.
“Mind if I sit here? Everywhere else is full,” he asked, gesturing to the chair in front of me.
“No, of course not,” I answered, arranging my books so he had enough room for his own stuffs on the table. I tried to look nonchalant, but this was hard to do as my palms started to sweat. “Homework?” I inquired, trying to start a conversation.
“Not really, I’m just looking up some things,” he replied, placing his book on the table. The cover bore the picture of a shining goblet I had only ever seen in Dad’s history books and across the top, black, bold letterings made out the words Triwizards History: The Winners, the Losers, and Everything in Between. I frowned in confusion. Why would Charlie be reading about a tournament that hadn’t been held for almost a century?
“You got an assignment about Triwizards Tournament?” I asked.
“Sort of. Nice hairpin, by the way,” he grinned, nodding toward my hair. I blushed and lifted a hand to touch it. I had twirled my hair around an unused quill and pinned it into a bun. It was an old trick I learned from Penelope, and it came in handy whenever I forgot my hairclip.
“Thanks,” I said, noting that he had changed the subject rather abruptly. I wondered why, but decided not to voice my curiosity. He would think I was nosy. Perhaps it really was an assignment, though I couldn’t think of a class that would have anything to do with history or the tournament.
We didn’t say anything for some time. He read his book and I did my homework with one eye fixed on Freckle. It wasn’t until we heard a loud crack that we looked up. The crack had come from a black egg in the fireplace. The librarian, Mr. Trifu, and a girl I recognized from my Herbology class rushed over to the egg and brought it out from the library, the egg rattling and cracking in the girl’s hands. I shifted my gaze to my own egg, which was still sitting peacefully inside its’ cauldron.
“How’s Freckle?” Charlie asked, not bothering to keep his voice down now that the librarian was gone. The library was buzzing with excited talks anyway.
I raised an eyebrow. “How did you know his name?” I asked back.
“Gavin told me,” he answered with a smile. My heart gave an odd lurch at the mention of Gavin. I wasn’t sure what Gavin told Charlie about us, and Charlie never asked me about Gavin. Every time Gavin stopped to talk to me in the halls, Charlie rarely accompanied him, so I couldn’t tell how he felt about me and Gavin.
“Oh, well, Freckle’s doing alright,” I answered, glancing toward my report. “The girls have things to do today after school, so I have to look after him on my own until they’re done.”
“I see,” he nodded. His eyes were observing my face and I had to look down to hide my reddening cheeks. I hated how easy I blush, but I couldn’t help it. I was starting to write my reply to Ella when Charlie spoke again. “I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you look a bit different today.” I was taken aback for a moment, and my hand instantly flew up to my face.
“I do, don’t I?” I laughed, rather nervously. “I hadn’t been sleeping well these last couple of days, because we have to take turns watching the egg, and Coach Turner made me stay behind after PE, so I didn’t have much time to change my clothes. Do I really look that bad?” To my surprise, a smile was tugging on Charlie’s lips. He let out a chuckle and shook his head.
“I didn’t mean you look bad, I said different,” he said, still smiling in amusement. “So you were held back in PE? Why?” This time I blushed out of embarrassment. I really shouldn’t have told him about that.
“I’m having troubles keeping up with the lessons, apparently,” I answered reluctantly. “You see, I’m not much of an athlete and I spent seven years in Hogwarts with running around the castle as my only exercise. Well, I walk my dog when I’m home, but I think that doesn’t count as an exercise. So I’m a bit rusted when it comes to sport, and Coach Turner notices that. She’s been making me do extra exercise so I can keep up with my classmates.” I bit my lips to stop myself from rambling when I realized what I had said. I had meant to make something up, not to spill it all out like that. I probably had made myself look foolish in front of him. I mean, none of the other girls in my class had any difficulties in PE, and I was sure Charlie probably thought the class was a piece of cake. I looked down to my books, not sure what he was thinking of me.
“Maybe you just need some help,” Charlie said. I looked up to meet his eyes. A warm relief washed over me when I saw that he wasn’t looking at me strangely or pityingly. He looked a bit concerned for me. A little bud of hope was growing in my heart. Maybe he cared about me, even if it only a little bit.
“Well, my friends are already busy and they think I’m capable of doing it on my own, so…” I didn’t finish my sentence, but I got the impression that he understood.
“Maybe…” he paused, considering. “If you want, maybe I can help.” My heart was jumping for joy in my chest, though I hoped it didn’t show too much on my face.
“That’s a good idea,” I said, pretending to think hard about it. “We’re practicing Quidditch next month, so you can help me with that.” I had a hard time from keeping the excitement out of my voice, but I managed to keep it steady.
“Good, but I should talk to Gavin first about it.” I crinkled my forehead, my excitement suddenly disappeared.
“Why? Will he have a problem with it?” I asked, wondering if Gavin was the possessive type. Lisa never said anything about that, but I suppose I couldn’t expect her to talk badly about her brother.
“Well, he’s not a jealous guy, but I don’t think he’d like it if I spend too much time with his girlfriend,” Charlie answered. I wished I could read his mind as he said this. I wanted to understand how he felt about me being his best friend’s girlfriend, and if his face was the mirror of his feelings, maybe I should learn to love Gavin instead of falling for him. No, I refused to think negative thoughts. Not now.
“He probably wouldn’t mind,” I said, thinking fast. “Gavin and I are…”
My explanation was cut short as another loud crack was heard. The library fell silent as every eye was fixed on the fireplace, trying to determine which egg was ready to hatch. My eyes immediately fell on Freckle and for a moment I thought my heart had stopped.
It was my egg that made the loud crack. It was bobbing slightly in its cauldron as though it was impatient to get out of its shell. I jumped out of my chair and ran straight toward Freckle. Acting on instinct, I placed my hands on it. To my surprise, Freckle calmed down and stopped cracking for a while. Thinking fast, I took it out from the cauldron. The egg wasn’t allowed to hatch in the library for fear that the newborn dragon would cause some damage to the precious books. I was supposed to report it to Mr. Trifu and he would help me with the process, but he hadn’t returned. I started to panic as Freckle started to rattle in my hands and I still couldn’t think of something to do. I wasn’t ready for this.
Suddenly Charlie was on my side, shouldering my bag. “Come with me,” he said as he handed me my wand. We rushed out of the library, with the egg in my hands and my bag on his shoulder. Freckle continued to produce a loud cracking sound, although the shell remained smooth and unbroken. My heart was racing, and all thoughts were driven out of my mind as I ran beside Charlie, praying silently for nothing to go wrong.
A.N: There you go, the sixth chapter of Charming Charlie. I had fun writing this, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Thanks to everyone who had read and reviewed this story so far. It means a lot to me. ^_^ So, don’t stop reading and let me know what you think in a review. Thank you!
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