Chapter 10 : Stargazing
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“Ileana,” I turned my head into my pillow, not wanting to wake up just yet. There was absolutely no way that it was time to get up. I’d finally been able to fall asleep that night without too much pain from my leg, which was, centimeter by torturous centimeter, finally starting to heal.
“Ileana,” The voice said more firmly this time. I felt a strong, warm hand on my shoulder, gently rousing me.
“What?” I groaned, opening an eye and turning my head so I could see who the hell was annoying enough to wake me up this early.
It was Charlie.
“Go away.” I threw my hand out with the intent of hitting him. I missed, and heard his quiet laughter in the darkness.
“Come on, I wanna show you something, but you have to get up first.” He shook my shoulder again.
The excitement in his voice brought me out of my state of sheer exhaustion. I turned my head to glare at him, curious in spite of myself. “What, Weasley?” I asked him skeptically.
“Come on.” He insisted, helping me sit up in bed, a large hand behind my back, supporting me.
“It’s so early.” I complained weakly, not wanting to leave the soft, warm oasis of the blankets.
“It’ll be worth it, I promise.” Sleepily, I nodded my head sleepily in acquiescence, and without a second’s hesitation, he swung me up into his arms, staying true to his promise and not letting my feet touch the ground.
“Where are we going?” I asked warily as we set off at a brisk pace through the darkness, down to the lake, the moon our only illumination.
“You’ll see in a minute.” He assured, gripping me more tightly as he strode purposely through the forest. I could tell that that was the only answer that I would be able to wheedle out of him, no matter how hard I tried, so I let the matter drop. I’d find out eventually, whenever we reached wherever the hell we were going.
When we arrived at the clearing, I took a minute to observe the genuine beauty of moonlit lake. While I’d done border patrol in the middle of the night several times in the weeks I’d been there, I had never been down to the lake. It was dazzling.
The thousands of stars that shimmered in the inky black sky were reflected in the rippling surface of the water as a balmy breeze whispered through the full trees and down to the embankment, creating gentle swells in the water, that made the lake look like it was glittering like a magnificent, midnight-blue diamond. I couldn’t help it; I was wide-awake and completely awestruck at the brilliance of the stars. Yes, I’d seen plenty of beautiful night skies before, but there was something different about this, something that I didn’t quite have the words to explain.
“It’s so pretty.” I exclaimed, tearing my eyes away from the sky to look at Charlie, who was grinning, a single dimple at the corner of his mouth.
“Yeah, but just wait.” He said and slowly deposited me down on the remaining trunk of a cut down tree, one hand on my shoulder to make sure that I was in no danger of falling off, ever the graceful one.
“What’s going on?” I laughed, not sure whether I was referring to the scene that was unfolding as if before my eyes, or his newfound chivalry. I was discovering so much about Charlie that I never could have believed. There was a whole other side to him, one that was considerate and charming, possessive yet courteous, that I never would have imagined existed a month ago. It was mind-boggling. I had absolutely no idea what I’d done to deserve seeing this new side of him, but I was immensely glad that, after months, years, of mistakes, I’d finally done something right.
“I told you, you’ll see.” He laughed, sitting down on the grass at my feet. I simply glared at him in what I’d been told was an utterly non-threatening manner. “Fine, I guess I’ll tell you. I’m sure you’d just keep asking, anyway.”
“You’re absolutely right.” I agreed, lightly smacking him on the shoulder. “Or you could just pick me up like a complete barbarian again.”
“You were asking for it.” He retorted, playfully nudging my uninjured leg with his shoulder. “I still can’t believe he was stupid enough to let you walk.” He snorted at the memory and ran a hand through his cropped hair, staring up at the sky.
“I told you. I was fine.” I said, refraining from rolling my eyes. “Anyway, will you please tell me what I’m doing out here in the middle of the night?”
“So impatient!” He mock-reprimanded, laughing again. “If you must know, a meteor shower is supposed to happen in a few minutes, at three-thirty. That’s why I told you we had to go pretty quickly.”
I didn’t really know what to say. It was so sweet; Charlie, the guy who had the power to confuse me beyond all reasonable measure, was at it again. Against my will, I knew that I was starting to soften toward him. I’d hated his ridiculously sexist attitude since our first conversation, but I was starting to realize that there was more to him than I’d guessed. He’d changed; there was no doubt. Maybe we both had.
There was no way around it; I had to face facts. I was developing feelings for Charlie Weasley. I didn’t believe it was possible that I could have made the complete U-turn from the beginning of the summer, but the proof was staring me in the face. I, Ileana Ramsey, previous hater of all things Charlie Weasley, had a big-time crush. Damn.
“Ramsey, look, up!” Charlie gripped my wrist in excitement, his other hand pointing up at the sky, where stars had started to fly across the heavens like twinkling, opaque raindrops.
I stared, open-mouthed and transfixed as I watched the stars shoot across the sky, barely more than bright blurs against the darkness.
I closed my eyes and made a wish. A wish for change, a plea for things to work out, for clarity, for closure. Anything that would bring about the impossible phenomena I was facing was fine by me.
“Thank you for that.” I whispered, biting my lip and wondering when the hell I’d gotten so weird. For the benefit of those who don’t actually share my brain: I’d not been acting normal ever since the poisoning. I fully blame my “bed rest,” because there’s absolutely no way that that is healthy for the mind. I opened my eyes to find Charlie staring at me intently, and I realized then that his hand was still around my wrist, thumb tracing an unintelligible pattern on my skin.
For the record, I am not the type of girl who is so easily swayed, especially by men that she has hated for her entire life. I am certainly not the girl who goes around kissing the type of men stated above, not to mention the type of girl who likes it. I will plead innocence, when the judge of my sanity comes to question me. It was not my fault- I was coerced by Charlie Weasley. In the past four days, I’ve gone from hating him, to kissing him, to stargazing with him: definitely not normal behavior. However, I was completely powerless to do anything but sit back and enjoy the ride; I’ve always loved adventure.
“No problem.” He replied, getting up and dusting off his trousers, and then proffering me his arm, which, shakily, and still lost in a mental tangency in which I was no doubt berating myself for the startling manifestations of my feelings, I accepted. I let him pull me to my feet and swing me, once again into his arms as we made our way back to camp. We didn’t say anything, but I found that words weren’t necessary; simply being with him was enough. For now.
We reached my tent, and my mind was already starting to drift away, ready to fall back asleep and get a break from the overthinking that I’d put it through in the past couple of days. He set me down gently on my bed, so I was sitting up, with my feet dangling about an inch or two above the wood floor.
“Thanks again, Charlie.” I smiled up at him in what I’m sure was a ridiculously bemused fashion. I was bewildered by the 180 degree turn our interactions had made; I couldn’t even pretend that I understood it.
He leaned down, cupped my cheek in his calloused hand, and brushed his lips against mine gently, backing away before I’d had time to fully register what was happening.
“We probably shouldn’t make a habit of that,” He said, flashing his dimple, still visible against the days’ worth of scruff on his face.
“Habits are boring.” I agreed, touching my hand to my lips, trying to feel the imprint his mouth had made on mine. He laughed quietly, nodding his agreement, and strode out of the tent, and into the moonlit night.
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