Chapter 4 : Our Family
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Arthur nodded his head as he looked at the two still cuddled on the floor together. They were both adults, and everything that had happened the past few years had made all of his children grow up quickly. Charlie had always been special to him, more like himself than any of his other children. The quietest of them all, and the shyest. Watching the two of them, he noticed the small touches and glances between them and nodded his head. He'd always felt that one day Charlie would find 'the one', and like with him and Molly, it would hit him like a ton of bricks.
He had just never expected it to be Hermione Granger, and to find out in this way was a slight disappointment in his son's actions. There was a small amount of pride though that he seemed willing to take responsibility for his actions.
Charlie looked at his parents, the sight of his mum for once speechless had his jaw flexing to keep from dropping. Not even when Bill had announced his engagement to Fleur had his mother had such a reaction. His eyes shifted away when he saw the disappointment in his father's eyes, knowing he'd let them down made him uneasy.
Meeting Harry's green eyes, Charlie sighed. His little brother's best mate showed a confusion he had expected when he arrived and found them there. Hermione was like the sister he'd never had growing up, and his best mate aside of Ron. Not even the small look of support from Ginny could lift his spirits, and his arm wound around Hermione just a mite tighter as her head rested in the nook of his neck and shoulder.
Hermione lifted her head and looked over at Harry, and her brow arched as she shifted a bit on Charlie's lap to look at him fully. His eyes though were still fixed on Charlie's, and her hand rubbed against his lightly.
“Well,” Arthur said to break the silence that hung in the room, “I think these two have some things to talk over. Alone.” His glance fell back onto Molly, and her lips pressed back together. “They can fill us all in later,” he gently reminded her, a firmness in his tone as he touched her arm.
“We will talk about this,” Molly said, her eyes focusing on Charlie's face, a memory of a conversation with her own parents flitting in her mind. She now knew how they felt when they'd told them Bill was coming early- but they had been engaged after all. They hadn't even known Hermione and Charlie were seeing each other.
“Not now, mum,” Ginny said, taking her other hand. Between Arthur and Ginny, Molly was escorted out of the room, her mind deep in thought, still mulling it all over.
Charlie smiled gratefully at his dad and sister, knowing they were doing their best. He loved his mum, but he and Hermione still needed to talk. A bathroom full of Weasleys didn't give them the privacy to do that- a house full didn't either.
“We'll be down later,” Hermione said, looking into Harry's eyes. He was the last one to shuffle off, silent still except for the questions in his eyes.
Harry nodded his head, then walked closer to them. Bending down, he gave Hermione a hug. “I'll be here,” he kissed her forehead and nodded again at Charlie. He wasn't sure how this all came about, but Hermione was his best friend, and Charlie was a Weasley- his second family.
The door closed with a soft click behind Harry, and Hermione gave a soft sigh. “That went well,” she said rhetorically, moving a bit to try and stand. Charlie's hand on her arm stopped her.
“My mum speechless was kind of amazing, love,” Charlie said, his hand caressing the bump again. “You realize this makes you a Weasley now?”
“No.... the baby is a Weasley and a Granger.... I'm just-” Hermione replied, her hand going over his again. It both pleased her and discomforted her to know she felt so at ease with him now in the position they sat in. She felt both safe- and cared for. Ever since the Healer had told her it wasn't some flu bug, she'd felt lost and adrift, now she felt anchored.
“You've been a Weasley since my mum set eyes on you,” Charlie reminded her, the noises from downstairs making him look again towards the door. The ambiance of the floral décor of the bathroom made him shift uncomfortably.
It was true, the Weasleys had made her transition from living in a Muggle world to the magical world so much easier. Her insecurities had made her overachieve in a lot of things, but Harry and Ron with his family had always been there with open arms.
“We need to get out of this room,” Hermione said, a nod towards the toilet. “My friend and I there need to be parted for now.” She laughed, some of her nerves settling finally. She- no they- still had her parents to face, but seeing how the Weasleys had taken it made her more sure.
“I need to get away from this wallpaper,” Charlie laughed with her, and smiled at how well it mixed together. Slowly he slid from beneath her to stand up, his hand reaching down once done to help her up. “Wouldn't it look better with dragons flying around a mountain?” he asked.
“I don't know,” Hermione answered, her head tilting to the side to think. Once standing she kept her hand clasped with his, her eyes looking at the wallpaper. “I'm guessing you have to be a female to appreciate it.”
Charlie was silent as he thought about where they should and could go. While he was happy to be home, he just wanted to talk to Hermione without interruptions. The Burrow was a madhouse on most days with his siblings popping in and out at will. “Come on,” he said softly, his hand tugging at hers towards the door.
“Where are we going?” Hermione asked, lowering her voice at his finger placed on his lips.
“To the Floo and Diagon Alley to get me something to eat,” Charlie replied in a whisper before opening the door. His head peeked out, looking around.
“We're adults, Charlie. They aren't going to stop us,” Hermione said, a laugh bubbling inside over the sight of them sneaking out of the house like little children.
“But they could follow us,” Charlie looked back at her, a small grin floating on his face. He wasn't sure how this talk with Hermione was going to go, but he hoped they could work something out.
Charlie stirred his spoon through the bowl of stew in front of him, his eyes glancing around the small cafe before settling back on Hermione. Their escape via the Floo had been successful, and the small table in the corner afforded them some privacy. Luck had been on their side so far, for no one they knew had entered the cafe.
Hermione picked up another apple slice, dipped it into the melted caramel to stir it around a bit. Now that they were away from The Burrow, she could breathe and eat without the rolling in her stomach her nerves had created. She loved Molly almost like a mother, but sometimes she felt like that First Year she used to be in her presence.
“What did you want to do about this?” Hermione asked Charlie, taking a bite off the tip of the apple slice. “I mean.... the baby, you.... me,” she added. Her finger going up to rub at the caramel on the side of her lip.
“Together,” Charlie replied, pushing the bowl away on the table. “If that's what you want. While we were foolish, our child needs us both.... and our families.” His hand reached over unconsciously and wiped at a spot of caramel she'd missed. He grinned at her small blush, not realizing his cheeks had tinged pink also with the intimate gesture.
“You'll be going back to Romania?” Hermione asked him.
“Well....” Charlie's nose crinkled as he thought. Admitting what happened before he left the compound was tough for him. He'd always been the dependable Weasley, more so than Bill even. Here he was going to be a father and, most likely he had no job to support him or the mother. His face paled at the thought, he was going to miss his 'Tilda and her babies, but his own came first.
“Charlie, what happened?” Hermione asked, her hand reaching over to cover his when she noticed the look on his face.
“Cor,” Charlie said, his hand rolling over to hold hers. “Hermione, I walked out. Win wouldn't allow me time to come to you for a few weeks- and well,” his blue eyes gazed into her brown ones as he took a deep breath. “You and junior there are more important,” he admitted, feeling the slight, comforting squeezed of her hand on his.
“That's crazy!” Hermione exclaimed, “You can't.... can not give up your position for us!” While it created a warm feeling of comfort in her that he had come so quickly, it amazed her that he was willing to walk away from his dragons.
“It's already done,” Charlie admitted with a sheepish grin on his face. While he loved his dragons, he wasn't going to beg for his position back. It would mean leaving Hermione and his child alone, “There's a small compound near here in Ireland I can look into, for I want to be with you.”
“But Charlie,” Hermione said, her mind turning over any possibilities she could think of. “We could go to Romania-”
“Blimey, Fred!” The sound of George Weasley's voice carried over the small cafe to them, and they both turned to look towards the door with a groan. Their small amount of privacy had just fled with the vision of two redheaded bookends entering. “Look who's here!”
“Hermione! Charlie!” Fred called out, and the twins walked over to the table. “I was just saying to George here that we never see you anymore, Charlie.” His hand clapped lightly against Charlie's shoulder.
“So... what brings you both here?” George asked, sitting down next to Hermione and grabbing one of her apple slices. “You look a little peaky... both of you do in fact.” His eyes went to their faces, his grin widening before looking back at Fred.
“Why yes they do!” Fred added sitting next to Charlie, “You think we should?” His brow arched at George before reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a multicolored vial, the liquid inside shimmering in the pale lights of the cafe. “We have here a yet untried potion guaranteed to perk up the most-”
“Boys! Boys!” Charlie said, snatching the bottle before his brother could add it to anything Hermione touched. He opened it though, and sniffed it carefully. While it had a pleasant smell, he knew anything his brothers created for their business sometimes had an unpleasant reaction. He screwed the cap back on tightly and tucked it in his own pocket. “We will not play test subjects for you today,” he continued, a small shudder of remembrance shaking his shoulders slightly in revulsion.
“Come on, Charlie! You know that tail you grew the last time you helped us was just an accident!” George interjected, and he pulled out another vial, a grin covering his face as he made a flourish before setting it in front of Charlie. “No tails this time!” he chuckled, a gleam in his eye, “Just the wonderful-”
Charlie swept that bottle up also and tucked it into a different pocket. “No potions... it's bad for...” His eyes glanced into Hermione's. It had taken a trip to St Mungo's to get the tail gone, and the Healer had warned him to be more careful next time.
“It's bad for the baby- and his parents,” Hermione finished for him. She loved Fred and George to pieces, but even she had limits on what she would do for them. The look of shock on their faces had her grinning. Like Molly, they were hard to keep quiet once they began.
“Cor,” The twins said in unison, looking from each other back to Hermione and Charlie. “Mum know?” Fred asked, a grin covering his face, their shock not lasting long enough in Charlie's opinion. “Didn't know you two were dating,” George added, his brow quirking. They rarely missed the goings on in their family, but they had missed this somehow. Not the little looks, but the fact that the two had gotten close enough to create.... “We're going to be uncles again!” Fred clapped his hand hard on Charlie's shoulder, “Good job, brother!”
“Yes, mum and dad know,” Charlie replied to Fred, the force of the clap almost bringing his head to the table. He jerked back up and looked over at him. They weren't going to leave any time soon by the looks of Fred waving over the server and ordering them both food.
“Oh.... yes!” George added before the server turned, “Some of that sparkling pumpkin juice- we have something to celebrate!” He said in an overloud, cheery voice that carried through the room.
“George, please no....” Hermione whispered, looking around them. As it had gotten later in the evening, the cafe had begun to fill up. Some of the heads of those around them turned to look at their table, and all thoughts of a quiet evening making plans with Charlie about their baby disappeared. She shrank closer to Charlie, and gratefully felt his hand skip into hers. The server returned with a tray of the juice as requested, and set the glasses down in front of them all.
Fred grinned, and Charlie could have sworn at that moment he saw a devilish gleam enter his middle brothers' eyes as they both stood with their glasses raised high. He had thought the small cafe would be safe, it was so little and new that no one he knew frequented it. But the few years since he'd been there had changed it, and the clientèle had grown. “Sit down,” he hissed out in a slight whisper, but they both ignored his words.
“To Charlie and Hermione,” Fred began, the twinkle in his eyes making them go misty with emotion, “And to little baby Weasley....” George added, his glass clinking against Fred's, “The newest addition to the clan!”
Hermione felt her face go red as some in the room clapped good-naturedly with the twins' announcement. She buried her head into Charlie's shoulder to hide her burning cheeks. “It's time we got out of here,” he whispered into her ear.
“Yes,” she replied, looking back up at the twins.
“We've got to go, things to do.... things to buy,” Charlie said to his brothers, giving them both looks of water-downed anger. He knew they hadn't done it out of spite, but he still wished they hadn't. He still hadn't even gotten used to the idea of being a father, but still he had wanted to keep it between just them and the family. He stood up, holding firm to Hermione's hand and they both headed to the door.
“Hey!” Fred called out, “If it's a boy, can you name it after us? I mean wouldn't Frederick George Weasley be a cool name?”
“I think George Frederick would....” George retorted back at his twin, and their words faded as they stepped out the door.
The click of the door behind them had Charlie chancing a glance at Hermione. “I'm sorry for those two- they were excited,” he told her, and they began to walk through the dusk covered streets. He didn't know where to go now, but he felt the need to distance them from the cafe before the twins decided to follow them.
“It's alright,” Hermione replied, her cheeks slowly returning to normal color in the cool breeze that blew around them. Charlie's steps were quick as they walked through the still crowded street, and finally they ended up in the small park near the center of the community. “They meant well, and it will be very evident soon anyhow.” Her hand ran across her stomach, and she smiled.
Charlie stopped beside her, his hand holding loosely to hers now. The stars began to slowly peek through the night sky over them, and the moon's rays filtered through the tree branches in the park. He turned to look down at her again, “Are you ashamed? I mean that....” he licked his lips before continuing, “Are you ashamed that I'm the father?” he asked finally, still not sure he'd gotten his thoughts out correctly.
“Oh no.... never,” Hermione replied, shaking her head slowly, “Maybe the way it came about- but no.... never you....” Her eyes gazed into his, some of her feelings showing through. Her lids lowered to hide them, but the touch of his hand on her chin made her look up again.
Charlie felt a myriad of emotions run through him, and again was at a loss for words. Somewhere mixed in with the shame of letting his family and Hermione down, the love he felt for her, the fear he could have lost her friendship, was a small amount of pride in what they had created together.
“Hermione,” he whispered, noting the beauty of her lashes brushing against the skin beneath her eyes. His thumb gently rubbed against her cheek while his hand cupped her chin, drawing her face up while he lowered his face towards hers. Her eyes opened fully to meet his gaze, and his lips stopped an inch from hers. Waiting, he felt like he was seeking permission and held his breath as her lips closed the distance between them. The soft touch made his eyes close, and he drew her closer to him.
Hope you enjoyed this, and thanks for the reviews thus far. You'll rock! ~~juls
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