Chapter 5 : Our Confusion
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As Charlie pulled back a bit, he feathered brief kisses on Hermione's cheek until his lips lay near her ear, “I think we've finally found the place to be alone.” He chuckled lowly, and held her close as the moon's rays bathed them through the canopy of branches over head. The park was quiet at this early evening hour, for most were home eating their dinners.
“Yes, I think we are,” Hermione laughed along with him, comfortable in his arms. Her forehead pressed against the fabric of his shirt as the sounds of voices and the shuffling of gravel could be heard a little ways off on the path they had stepped off of. “Too good to last,” she continued as she hid the small frown that formed on her face when she recognized the voices speaking.
“We could go,” Charlie replied, his hand running through her hair. His head turned slightly to see those coming, his sigh low but audible to ears. This confrontation he wasn't looking forward to at all. But since his parents and Ginny knew already- it wouldn't be kept secret for long. Hermione's head shook negatively and she looked up into his eyes.
“Now Ron,” Luna's voice could be heard louder now that they were closer, and Hermione turned in Charlie's arms to look towards its way. “You know that on new moon if you kiss under the old Rowan tree,” They became visible in the distance, and Charlie's hands went up up to rest on Hermione's shoulders. He grinned in the darkness as he felt her lean back against him. “That our love will be blessed by the Faes that live in it,” Luna continued, her sing-song voice carrying across the almost empty park.
“They haven't seen us yet,” Charlie whispered into her ear, the laughter dying as the sight of the dark red of his brother's hair. The memory of the brothers' creed he and Bill created as a lark so long ago had been on his mind since New Year's Eve. The guilt at even kissing Hermione made his eyes close tightly, and he just hoped Ron understood and forgave. He opened them slowly, and looked down at Hermione. Her face was turned up to look at him, a soft smile lighting up her eyes at him.
“Oy Luna, I'm coming...” Ron said, his voice cheerful, his hand holding hers tightly. Hermione watched them walk closer, and was glad to see the happiness that both showed on their faces. It had been hard when they'd broken up, for she really had loved him. It had just not been the impassioned 'in love' that she should have felt. Harry, Ron and she had been so close all throughout their Hogwarts years, that it would have been a severe loss not to be friends with him. She felt no regrets over their break-up though, for he seemed happy with Luna.
“The tree is beautiful, isn't it, Ron?” Luna asked, her eyes widening at seeing the two already standing under it. Ron stopped abruptly, almost tripping as he gave the other two a puzzled glance. “Ron?” Luna prodded gently before turning back to look at Hermione, a huge grin on her face.
“Yes, beautiful,” Ron muttered out, his eyes boring into Charlie's before looking back at Luna. “Seems though it's occupied,” he continued, his eyes taking in the hands that lay on Hermione's shoulders. They narrowed briefly, and Charlie's feet shuffled in the grass uncomfortably beneath his youngest brother's gaze. When he and Bill had first written up the Creed in Hogwarts, he'd never dreamed it would be Ron that would be the brother he'd have to ask permission from. Percy or Bill maybe, but never Ron.
“Hello you two,” Hermione said finally, pulling away from Charlie's embrace to go over to Luna. She gave the other girl a quick hug before turning to look at Ron. “Hello Ron,” she repeated, and his eyes blinked before he turned to look at Hermione.
“What are you two up to?” Ron asked, his eyes focusing on Hermione's smile and the slight tilt of her head. His gaze traveled back to Luna's, and she slipped her arm through his.
“I'm sure they're here for the same thing we are,” Luna told him, “The Rowan tree's blessing!” She laughed, and pulled him closer to the tree.
“Luna's correct,” Charlie spoke finally, his steps bringing him closer to Hermione and he wrapped an arm over her shoulder loosely. “Well... we didn't know about the 'blessing',” he continued, hoping that Ron would understand. “But I think providence and happenstance brought us to where we should be,” he smiled at his brother, a slight but silent plea in his eye.
Ron pulled Luna closer, his mind puzzling it all out slowly. If Charlie had chosen to break the Creed with Lavender, would it have bothered him so? He shook his head to the mental question slowly, knowing it was true. Hermione was beyond just being a former girlfriend, she was one of his best mates- and if Charlie hurt her.... Well he didn't even want to go there.
“How long have you two been,” Ron reached up with his free hand and rubbed his chin slowly, pausing as if he was thinking of how to form the words. “Going out?” he asked, his looks traveling between both of their faces. In all the times he'd encountered Hermione the past few months she'd never mentioned anything about Charlie and none of Charlie's infrequent owls from Romania had made comments on her either. In everything he knew about the two of them, nothing was making sense to him.
“New Year's Eve-” Hermione replied, but her head jerked back slightly as Ron's face reddened. Whatever was going on with him brought back memories of when she'd dated Viktor Krum, and she stepped closer to Charlie as Ron began to open his mouth.
“New Year's?” Ron's question exploded out of his mouth, “Neither of you talk about each other in the remotest detail! Why hide this.... this....” His hands made a wide open gesture, his arms flinging wide in the air, “Relationship?” he continued, Luna's hand gently touching his arm. He took a deep breath and looked down at her.
“Ronald,” Luna's voice was soft and airy, but it pulled him back down, “Love happens! Look at us,” she reminded him, her hand touching his cheek now. She leaned in closer, her words barely carrying in the air over to the other couple, “Remember when we first kissed? No one would ever think we would work- but we have!”
“I know but-”
“No buts Ron, I know Charlie is your brother and Hermione is your best mate,” Luna's lips reached up and pecked him on the cheek, secure in the knowledge he was only being concerned and not jealous, “But,” she giggled, “They look so cute together.”
Ron's disgruntled look faded away with her words, but he looked back to Charlie with narrowed eyes and an arched eyebrow still. His brother shifted again, and he watched as Hermione moved closer to him. “Cute? Right,” he nodded in reluctant agreement with her, and felt the slight breeze that blew through the park suddenly. It whipped the hems of their jackets around, and his eyes narrowed further as he looked at Hermione.
“Look Ron,” Charlie broke in, discomforted by the whole thing. He'd just begun to relax, and had hopes of settling everything with Hermione- but now he had Ron butting in before he had a chance. “I know that I should have talked to you-”
“Bloody well right you should have talked to me first!” Ron's voice rose with each word, “You broke the Creed, brother....” His jaw audibly snapped shut, and his eyes closed tight as he realized what he just said. The Creed had always been a guarded secret between the six brothers, and not even Ginny knew about her own clauses in it. She'd hex them all with more that the Bat-Bogey if she had an inclining on how often they'd had to interfere on her behalf.
“Talked to him? Why?” Hermione looked up at Charlie, brow quirked with her own puzzled glance making him wince. “What Creed?”
Charlie sighed deeply, feeling Hermione pull away to look at both brothers, and he shrugged his shoulders. Ron snorted loudly, and it ended abruptly when Luna smacked his arm lightly.
“Brill, simply brilliant,” Ron muttered out, his eyes rolling. His mind quickly thought of how to explain the Creed to both girls without looking like Neanderthals, and realized the improbability of it all. While it all looked fine to other blokes, girls wouldn't take to kindly to it.
“To make sure he was okay with us going out,” Charlie replied to Hermione's first question, feeling the nails getting hammered into his coffin. Her eyes widened, and she turned briskly to stare at Ron. Her foot tapped on the grass beneath their feet and her arms folded across her chest.
“So- you're fine with us?” Hermione asked Ron in a too sweet voice, “Not that it matters to me if you are,” her shoulders shrugged and her eyes rolled as she glanced at Luna. The other girl laughed, and walked over to the Rowan tree to touch its smooth bark. Her eyes sparkled even in the paleness of the moonlight, and she plucked one of the leaves and tucked it behind her ear.
“Yeah, um... sure,” Ron mumbled out, not sure of anything at the moment. He looked at Charlie, who gave him a sheepish grin before shrugging. It was out about the Creed, for somehow he knew Hermione wouldn't let it go. Once Ginny found out, for he couldn't see Hermione keeping it a secret- it was all over.
“Right. I'm so glad you approve,” Hermione replied tartly, “And this Creed Charlie Weasley, where does it apply to us?” she stared into his eyes, and sighed as he looked away. The guilt in them was telling, but she just wasn't sure what it was. They still hadn't told him the most important part of it all, but she was still miffed that Charlie felt they had to have Ron's – of all people's – blessing.
The silence went on, only broken by the sound of Hermione's fingers tapping on the tweed of her jacket, and the long pronounced sigh she breathed out when Charlie looked down at the grass at his feet. The longer it went, the more Hermione felt she wasn't going to like his answer.
“Well?” Hermione asked, her eyes following his to the grass. “What's the deal?”
Charlie looked up finally, and the Adam's apple in his neck bounced with the gulps he took while trying to think. “Hermione,” he started, and walked over to her and took her hand in his. “The Creed-”
Ron snorted again, and Hermione's head turned to give him 'The Look' and he too gulped. He inched back a few steps to where Luna was by the tree, and leaned against the thin trunk of the Rowan tree. “Hey... I wasn't even old enough to...” His words trailed off as Hermione's eyes narrowed.
“To what? Oh never mind!” Hermione retorted, his focus going back to Charlie, “Continue.” She was beyond miffed now, for the way the two boys were acting she was beginning to think it was something horrible.
“BillandIwroteupthisCreedinHogwarts,” Charlie blurted out in one word, wincing as he spoke, “Thatwewouldaskpermissiontodateabrother'sformergirlfriend,” he took a deep breath, and felt Hermione's hand slide from his.
“That's very....” Hermione's eyes closed as she thought of just the right word, but couldn't. She was too flummoxed by the whole idea. “Childish? Yeah, childish of you.... So, if he had said no.... Right.... you never asked.... Just how many 'Creeds' are there?”
“Hermione love,” Charlie reached for her hand again, but she moved it away.
“Don't Hermione love me!” Hermione exclaimed, her hands gesturing widely as her eyes rolled.
“Please,” Charlie leaned in close to whisper, “The baby....”
“Now you think of the baby....” Hermione shouted, and then closed her eyes when she realized what she had said. She opened them and looked towards Ron's face, he gave her a confused look.
“What baby?” Ron blurted out, pushing away from the tree to walk closer to his brother.
“Our baby,” Charlie answered, looking at his youngest brother. He watched Ron's face grow red, and his eyes widen from the news. Not really how he wanted his brother to find out, but no matter how he was told at this point was going to lessen the blow to Ron.
“Wait!” Ron exclaimed, “You're both having a baby?” He didn't wait for answer, suddenly launching himself at Charlie. The both landed unto the ground, Charlie giving a pain filled 'umpf' as he landed on his back.
“Bloody hell, Ron...” Charlie's hand raised to cover his face as his other pushed at Ron's shoulder. His brother was like an unmovable brick, and he felt the pain as Ron's fist connected with his own shoulder.
“You took advantage of Hermione!” Ron shouted, his face turning redder than the freckles that littered it. His fist raised again, and he felt a hand grab at it. He jerked at it, and paused at the small scream. Both Charlie's and Ron's head turned to see Hermione floating just an inch off the ground.
“Ruddy....” Ron whispered out, his eyes going from Hermione to where Luna stood with her wand pointed. Her quick spell had saved Hermione from landing on the ground, and Ron's head bowed in shame. His stupidity could have hurt his best mate, and his anger cooled. If Molly Weasley ever found out about this, he shuddered to think what his mum would do.
“Hell,” Charlie finished for him, pushing his brother off him to scramble to where Hermione almost lay. “Love,” he whispered, gathering her in his arms. He barely heard Luna releasing the spell, and pulled her into his lap.
“You're both are acting like little kids,” Hermione mumbled out, but buried her face into Charlie's shoulder. “I'm not a pull toy.... or prize to be fought over!” She shook slightly, and took a deep breath.
“I'm sorry,” Ron said softly, standing up and brushing the dirt and grass from his pants. He watched as Charlie's hand ran over Hermione's hair, and the gentle kiss he placed on her forehead. His older brother rocked with her slowly on the ground, and he barely heard the comforting sounds he made.“It was an accident- really....” he took a step closer, but one glance from Charlie had him stopping.
Hermione's face rose from Charlie's shoulder, her hand rising to wipe at the tears that ran down her cheek. “We're okay,” she replied, looking from brother to brother before smiling at Luna. “Thanks for the charm,” she told the other girl, and sighed deeply. She wasn't too sure how much damage – if any- the small tumble would have caused beyond a sore bum, but maybe it had woke Ron up to what an arse he was being.
“Are you sure? You don't want to see the Healer?” Charlie asked her, his eyes scanning her face intently. The small nod of her head made him sigh in relief.
“I'm fine, junior is fine,” Hermione reached up and placed her hand on his shoulder, “Honestly. But-” Her eyes narrowed again, “I need to know what you would have done if he'd said 'no'.”
“I'd have told him to sod off,” Charlie said, and Hermione smiled. He gathered her closer, and looked at the other two. He was still angry with Ron over what had happened, and he would just have to deal with his brother later. He stood up with her in his arms, and he felt the laughter that flowed through her.
“You can put me- us- down,” Hermione told him, and waited until he did. She pulled gently from his arms and walked over to Ron and Luna. She chuckled as he stepped back, a slight stumble landing him against the Rowan tree. She hugged Luna briefly, “Thanks again,” she whispered.
“It was my pleasure,” Luna whispered back, “Us girls have to take of each other.”
“I am sorry Hermione,” Ron said again.
“You better be- and that 'Creed' you brothers are so fond of, better be ripped to shreds before I tell Ginny,” Hermione replied when she turned back to look at him. His soft groan made her laugh again, for knowing Ginny, she wasn't going to be too happy either. She'd weasel the rest of it from Charlie later, for she was sure that some of those clauses pertained to the youngest Weasley.