Chapter 14 : Tactical Errors and Traitorous Thoughts
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Charlie and I took the night shift that night, partially because the time difference from Romania to Costa Rica is eight hours, and to be there at seven pm that night, I would have either had to stay up or wake up disgustingly early; and partially because Ciprian and Andrew pretty much shoved it on us, claiming that “the darkness would be beneficial.” What they were trying to insinuate, I have no idea. So in response, I threw a baked potato at Ciprian’s face. He was fine once he cleaned the melted cheese off his chin.
“So, Ramsey,” Charlie stepped back from the fire that he’d just started in the hearth of the nursery. “Are you all packed and ready for your three day vacation?”
“Well, I’ll be working, so I don’t know if it’s a vacation, exactly, but yes.” I leaned back in the rocking chair and rolled my sleeves down over my arms. It might only be the beginning of August, but the nights were already cool.
“I’d take it as a vacation. Any time away from Andrew and Ciprian’s raised eyebrows is something I’d gladly snatch.”
“But I have my father, who, after a five minute interaction, already is suspicious of something between us.” I rolled my eyes, legitimately vexed as to what it was that was giving us away so easily.
“He has a point,” Charlie shrugged his shoulders, looking at me intently, a mischievous smile on his face.
“Shut up.” I said, shaking my head.
“Oh, come on, Ramsey.” He leaned in toward me. “Don’t tell me you aren’t going to miss me.”
“Charlie.” I started, flustered. Dammit, I couldn’t tell him I wasn’t going to miss him. I would, and we both knew it.
“You can’t, can you?” He asked, almost reading my mind.
“Oh look, Rufus is awake!” I shot up out my chair and over to the cage. I bent down and grabbed a worn wool blanket, opened the crate, and picked him up, cradling him to my chest.
“You are going to permanently scar him if we don’t change his name.” Charlie chuckled, eyeing me as I sank back down onto my chair.
“No.” I disagreed. “First of all, there isn’t anything wrong with the name Rufus. Secondly, I know for a fact that there used to be a Hungarian Horntail named Winnifred Louise, so don’t even talk to me about scarring with names.”
“Winnifred Louise was a sweetheart.” Charlie said defensively. “And she was named by some guy named Sergei who used to work here. He was like 70 years old.”
I snorted, stroking the patch of scales between Rufus’s eyes, making him purr. “All I’m saying is that you cannot criticize me for naming him Rufus.”
“But all the older dragons will tease him and not let him in the sandbox.” Charlie implored, eyes going all wide, affecting a lisp. I burst out laughing.
“But it was funny.” He said. “Much like naming a baby dragon Rufus. So funny, yet so wrong.”
“It isn’t the same at all!” I shot back. “Why are we still talking about this anyway? You shouldn’t contribute to knocking his self-esteem down, Charlie. Really, that isn’t nice.”
Charlie grinned, looking like a kid. “But seriously, Ramsey, I hear Costa Rica has some awesome beaches, maybe you should check them out.”
“Charlie, I don’t have time for that.” I shook my head as I lightly scratched Rufus’s nose, causing him to sneeze tiny orange sparks. “Really, I’ll be down there for three days, working the whole time, and then I’ll come back. You won’t even realize that I’m gone.”
“That’s highly unlikely.” He murmured, barely intelligible enough for me to make out.
“What was that?” I teased, “Is Charlie Weasley actually going to miss me while I’m gone for three whole days?”
“It’s not that,” Charlie said hastily, turning slightly red, raking a hand through his hair so I knew he was lying. “It’s just that you’re the only estrogen-fueled person here, and so I think it will be quite apparent when you’re not here, bossing us all around.”
“I don’t boss everyone Charlie, just you.” I smiled sweetly.
“That’s so nice, Ramsey!” He exclaimed, throwing a fist in the air in mock-triumph. “Yes! I thought you did that to everyone.”
“Nope, just you.” I replied. “Makes you feel kinda special, huh?”
“Indescribably.” He said, laughing.
“So you will miss me.” I inserted, trying my luck, seeing if I was as firmly in his head as he was in mine.
“I didn’t say that.” He raised an eyebrow, and winked- yes, WINKED- at me.
And it was hot.
“It will be nice to actually be able to focus for once, without you there, trying to distract me.” I mused, gnawing on my bottom lip.
“What do you mean ‘trying?’” He asked, “I distracted you, multiple times, successfully. Or don’t you remember?” He smirked. “Most recently was that time on the trail. You had just fallen down, dragging me on top of you.”
“Stop it, Charlie.” I muttered, looking down, away from his searing gaze.
“So you do remember.” He nodded triumphantly.
“Of course I remember, Charlie.” I snapped. A girl doesn’t simply forget one of the best kisses of her life-“ I stopped, mortified at my admission. He wasn’t supposed to know that.
“What was that?” He asked amusedly, resting his elbows on his knees, leaning in.
“I hate you.” I said, looking away. “You were baiting me.”
“And you took the bait anyway.” He retorted. “See, I think you wanted me to know that. Maybe so I would pull the same stunt again.”
“But the thing is, I don’t like to pull the same stunts twice. That’s not nearly as fun. I’d much rather keep you guessing, on your toes.” His words hit me. Holy hell. What had I gotten myself into?
“You manipulative man,” I recovered myself, not nearly as quickly as I’d hoped, but in enough time to try to reverse any damage my speechlessness had caused in our power play.
“Not really,” Charlie shrugged. “Just a man who knows what he wants and will stop at nothing to get it.”
“So it’s the chase?” I shot back. “The thrill of pursuit, nothing more?”
“But not with you.” He added thoughtfully, as if it was only dawning on him then. “There’s something about you, about this- it isn’t a game to me.”
And just like that, my defenses dropped, and he won. With nothing else to say- well, actually, I had a lot to say, but just didn’t trust myself to partially divulge-I looked down at Rufus, and saw that he was sound asleep, snoring lightly in my lap.
“He’s asleep, I’ll put him back in his crate.” I said, without looking up at Charlie. I got up, and gently set Rufus down in his crate. When I straightened up, Charlie was behind me, his hands encircling my hips.
“You know, that was probably tactical error, Ramsey,” He whispered, before his lips were on my neck.
“Dammit, Charlie.” I closed my eyes, turned in his embrace and instantly felt his lips on mine, tugging on my lower lip, coaxing my mouth open.
I wound my arms around his neck, twining my fingers into the hair at the nape of his neck, pulling him in closer, harder, deeper. He grip on my hips tightened as his tongue once again claimed now-familiar territory. Slowly, and I must say that I admire the man for his balance, he started walking backward, pulling me with him, mouth never leaving mine, until he was sitting back on the chair he’d just vacated, and I was on top of him, hands braced on his shoulders for support, his hands behind me, keeping me from doing something terribly ungraceful, like falling.
Oh good lord, I was straddling Charlie Weasley on a rocking chair. And he was kissing me like I was everything he needed. NOT GOOD. And even worse than the aforementioned facts, was that I was kissing him back. Not caring that I was probably making yet another huge mistake, that I was giving him all the power, something I’d sworn to myself I would never do again.
I grabbed his head, preventing him from pulling back, from stopping. Hell, it didn’t matter to me that there were windows all around us, that in the dim light of the hatchery, we would be incredibly easy to spot by anyone walking in our general direction. One hand trailed down my spine, pressing me closer to him while the other wound its way in my hair, untying it from a messy knot on the top of my head, making a fist at the back of my skull, curls trapped in his grip. He growled as he bit my lip and goosebumps erupted all down my arms.
But then what if things were changed for the worse? What if this delicate balance we had going for us was destroyed in the aftermath? What if- oh my goodness, hand on my butt, I can’t concentrate anymore.
It wasn’t long before we were tearing at each other’s clothes, needing to be rid of anything that separated our skin. I can’t tell you how quickly things escalated beyond that, or, rather, would have escalated were it not for The Distraction.
Something as if from far away was beeping irritatingly loudly. I hadn’t noticed it at first, and it still took me a second that it was Charlie’s watch beeping form somewhere near my ear.
“What the…” I started dumbly, not really confident in my ability to form a coherent sentence that wouldn’t make me grit my teeth in embarrassment.
“And that means it’s almost time to go.” Charlie panted, gazing up at me, dragging his teeth across my bottom lip as he pulled me closer.
“How much time do we have then?” I asked hoarsely, reading his mind, knowing exactly what he was thinking, exactly what his intentions were even though he was too much of a gentleman to go ahead and just say it.
“We have an hour, and we both know you haven’t packed yet- no you’re not walking out of here in what you’re wearing. Or, well, half of what you’re wearing, and half of what is on the floor.” I followed his gaze to the small pile of hastily discarded clothes.
“Unamusing, Charles.” I said, pushing off his lap, or at least attempting to. He grabbed my hands, touched his nose to mine as he gazed into my eyes.
“Ramsey, I’ll see you in three days, yeah?” I heard his unasked question that wondered where we would even be in three days, if this was something that would be more than a few snogging sessions in the woods, away from everyone else. If this was more than a vetting of feelings we’d both had for more years than we were okay with admitting.
I took a deep breath, and did what I did best. Skirted the issue. “I’ll be back in three days, Charles. I gotta go pack.” I brushed my lips against his briefly, disengaged from his embrace, picked up my clothes, and got the hell out of there before he could see what I’m sure was a look of abject terror on my face.
I felt like such a complete idiot as I made my way back to my tent in the dark. I couldn’t believe that I have left it that way with Charlie. Well, I couldn’t believe that I was still unable to convince myself that falling for him was a good idea. There were at least a hundred reasons why I should stay the hell away from him, yet when we were together, not a single one of them seemed to matter. Nor did they seem to keep me from wanting to jump his bones every time we were out of earshot of the others.
“Good one, Ramsey,” I berated myself as I reached my tent and started throwing random things into my backpack. “Way to leave things like an adult.” Whatever, I would have three whole days starting now to distance myself from him. Maybe, on the other side of the world, I would get some sort of clarity as to if we were a good idea or just a far-fetched, improbable disaster in the making.
I glanced down at my watch, saw that I had about twenty minutes to make it to the other side of camp to await the signal to leave, and trudged out of my tent, turning the lights off a bit too enthusiastically with a wave of my wand.
I was really not expecting Charlie to be waiting for me, but of course he was.
“Ramsey, did you honestly think I’d let you leave without answering my question? Or a proper goodbye for that matter?” His signature smirk was visible in the light of the harvest moon that shone down through the break in the trees.
“There’s probably nothing proper about what you have in mind, Weasley.” I retorted, pitifully using my derision to try and mask the fact that my knees had gone weak at his words. I was a mess. Officially. Again.
“Yeah, you’re right.” He grabbed me around the waist and pulled me flush against him. “Nothing proper at all.”
He leaned down until his lips were just a breath away from mine.
“You’re quite the Casanova,” I managed, stepping back hastily lest I do anything stupid, like lose the last vestiges of my control and let him have his way with me then and there. Which would pose huge, gigantic problems. Problems that were hard to remind myself of when he was standing that close to me, his intentions heart-stoppingly clear.
“Maybe,” He said, slowly advancing toward me again, forcing me to step backwards. “But you can’t deny you don’t like it Ramsey, especially after what just happened.”
“Mmgn,” I said eloquently as my back came to rest against a tree trunk. Jesus Christ- I must stop getting caught between trees and Charlie. Best to cut them all down to avoid temptation.
“Come on, Ramsey,” He coaxed, still slowly advancing on me. “Can you honestly tell me you don’t feel it too? You don’t want to just let go, to stop trying to fight it and see what happens? Because it’s driving me crazy. Absolutely freakin’ crazy.” He’d reached me by this time, trailing his fingers up my arms slowly. He never took his eyes off mine as he said all of this. I, for one, couldn’t look away to save my life. Pathetic.
“Please tell me you feel this, too. Ileana.” His eyes blazed.
“Screw it.” I replied, picture of grace and femininity that I am, as I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him full on. “Wait,” I said, he paid me no heed and simply started kissing my jaw, my neck, leaving bites that I’d have to charm over before I met my father. “Don’t think that this changes anything.”
“What are you talking about,” He muttered, probably calling me crazy for trying to have an actual conversation at a time like this.
“I still hate you.” I clarified, half-joking. I felt his resounding chuckle from somewhere around my collarbone. I am convinced that I will lose my brain out of my ears if this keeps up.
“Okay, Ramsey. I still think you’re a pain in the ass, if that makes you feel better.” He said, grabbing my chin with a rough hand, forcing me to look at him. “Now shut up and kiss me.”
I shut up and kissed him. It was so easy to lose time kissing Charlie. He was wild; a criminal combination of dirty, raw, and really really sweet. I felt alive, primal, and completely crazy about hi- whoa, where the hell did that come from? I’m talking, of course, about a bright blue light that beamed down about a foot to my left.
“Charlie,” I said, breaking away with difficulty. “I think that’s my signal. Time to go.”
“Don’t go.” He whispered mischievously against my ear, nuzzling his stubble against my face.
“Don’t try that. I’m going!” I said, giggling, pushing his chest to get a little bit of breathing room.
“Fine.” He kissed his way to my mouth, “See you in three days then.”
“Bye, Charlie.” His goodbye kiss almost made me want to stay, so it wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to pick up my backpack and disapparate, but somehow I managed.
But not before my traitorous brain passed along the thought that taking trips wouldn’t ever be too bad if I had Charlie to come home to.