Disclaimer : I do not own Harry Potter, and I'm not J.K. Rowling, obviously, but thanks for asking.
Warnings: Slash (nothing too graphic) / Mentions of past child abuse, depression
They Apparate before noon and the Burrow is exactly as it always has been. Of course Harry stumbles with a mumbled curse, and of course Charlie catches his arm with a snort. Harry has seldom been so nervous in his life. His hands are shaking and feel clammy, but he doesn't dare wipe them on his trousers – first because these are really nice trousers, and then because Charlie would immediately notice that something is off.
The three months they've spent together as a couple are by far the happiest of Harry's life. His apprenticeship with Lena is going well, and Charlie's team makes sure he doesn't take stupid risks during work – on Harry's orders, but the redhead really doesn't need to know that. Their life together is peaceful and exciting, happy and serene, passionate and tender. It's everything Harry has ever dreamt of, really. And so much more.
"Hey, what's bothering you? We'll be alright, you'll see."
"I just… I feel like I'm not good enough for you. And they'll know it and they'll hate me for-"
"Shut up, you moron. What the hell are you talking about? If Mum doesn't kill me for corrupting you, then we'll be alright. They all love you."
Charlie gently takes Harry's chin between two fingers and tilts his head up.
"I love you. You know that, right? Nothing is going to change that."
Harry nods half-heartedly and Charlie rolls his eyes before kissing him deeply. Merlin, but Harry will never get used to this. The feel of Charlie's lips against his, the way his warm body and strong hands are like a shield against the world, the intensity with which the redhead looks at him, sometimes… It's too much, really. It's too much and it's so fucking wonderful, to know that such a man has chosen him, of all people. Charlie is handsome and funny and brave. He's not even aware of how charming he is, of how he could have anyone, really.
Charlie sneaks an arm around Harry's waist and keeps on kissing him. They'll have to stop really soon or they'll end up having sex in the middle of that muddy field. Not that it has not happened before, mind you. Sex with Charlie is… perfect. Sometimes slow and tender. Sometimes rough and fast. And always mind-blowing, no matter how many times they do it. Just this morning… Harry has to picture Dudley in a bikini to convince his very interested cock that playing the memory of Charlie taking him against the kitchen counter in his mind will not lead to similar activities right now.
They're quite versatile, but Harry secretly prefers when Charlie tops. There's something about the way the redhead holds him, about the way he takes care of him and looks at him that makes Harry feels like he's the most precious thing in the world. He hopes that Charlie feels the same, really. He hopes he's enough. He'll know it very soon, at any rate.
"Yeah. Yeah, let's do this."
"That's the spirit."
"You're a prat."
"That I am. And you know you love it."
"I do. I love you so much."
Charlie grins smugly, puffing his chest like a peacock to make Harry laugh. His eyes are smiling, bright as the sun, and Harry wants to snuggle against his broad chest once more. But there will be time for that later, hopefully.
Molly is waiting for them and hugs them exuberantly. Harry's anxiety reaches new heights. Charlie is already greeting everyone and laughing with his family – that low and rumbling sound that sends shivers down Harry's spine.
"Harry! I'm so glad you came! How are you?"
"Hello Hermione. I'm fine, thanks. You?"
She smiles and hugs him tightly, and he knows that it's her way to tell him that everything is going to be alright. She knows about his plans, of course. She always does, because she's Hermione, and because she's his confidant.
Arthur smiles kindly and asks him about his studies, and Harry relaxes a little. Molly's food is as delicious as ever, and Ron is apparently trying to eat more than Charlie, to Hermione's obvious disgust.
"By the way, we're together, Harry and I. Mum, is there more of that pie?"
Charlie looks at his mother expectantly and smiles. Harry chokes on his mashed potatoes and feels his cheeks flame. Charlie hits him helpfully between his shoulder blades. Hermione giggles behind her hand, soon followed by Fleur. Bill and Arthur are smiling, their eyes shining with something like joy. Harry tries to breathe evenly and to focus on Charlie's warm hand on his back.
"Really? Didn't see that one coming."
"What? Hey mate, it's alright. I don't mind."
"Of course not. But if Charlie hurts you, I'll have to kill him. That'd be a problem. So, just don't, Charlie."
"I don't know if I should feel offended. I'm your brother, after all."
"Yes, well, Harry's special."
"That he is. And I won't. Hurt him, I mean."
"Good. Just don't snog him in front of me, please. That'd be weird."
Hermione cuffs her boyfriend round the head and throws an apologetic glance at Harry. George snorts loudly and gives a Galleon to Percy, who's grinning smugly – Harry is fairly sure they've been betting on them.
"Charlie! I mean…"
Molly keeps on looking from Harry to Charlie with her cheeks pink and her hands clenched in her apron.
"Molly, I know I'm not the person you would have wished for Charlie, and I'm aware that he could have found someone else. Someone better, less scarred, and, well, normal. I-I just love him so much. I can't give up on him. Maybe it's selfish, I don't know. But… I swear I'm going to do my very best to make him happy. The Weasleys are the only family I've ever known, and I want nothing more than to become a part of it."
"Harry, you are a member of this family. You've been since we've known you. I hope you know that, son."
Arthur's voice is soft and kind and Harry fights against the tears filling his eyes.
"Thank you, Arthur. That means so much to me. But I want to do this right."
Harry steels himself and gets up, fumbling to take the small box out of the inner pocket of his jacket. He kneels next to Charlie, feeling foolish and exposed, and clears his throat awkwardly.
"Charlie, I love you more than anything. I-I… Shit… Will-will you marry me?"
Charlie's eyes widen and he stares at the box in Harry's hand, and Harry doesn't know if it's a good thing or not. Maybe he should show him the ring? He manages to open the box in spite of his trembling fingers and Charlie finally looks at him. His face betrays nothing and Harry feels his stomach rebelling. He's going to be sick if Charlie doesn't say something, anything, really soon.
"Harry… Merlin, I… I don't know what to say."
Harry needs a few seconds to understand what Charlie is saying. What he is really saying. Of course. He's been awfully presumptuous and silly and he's made a fool of himself in front of Charlie's family and Charlie is probably going to hate him now. His chest feels too small all of a sudden, and Harry is struggling to breathe.
"Oh! I see. I, uh… it was stupid from me, really. I just, erm… I'm just going to go outside for a while, then. Right."
Harry flees, the stupid box with the stupid ring he's so carefully chosen for Charlie clenched in his hand. The air outside is cool and it helps him to breathe, but it doesn't stop the tears from rolling on his cheeks. What a pathetic idiot he is.
"Harry! Wait, where are you going? You didn't let me-"
"I understand, it's alright. I was stupid from me, it's far too soon anyway and of course you wouldn't want to-"
"Shut up, will you? I was just surprised. Look at me, please. Hey, don't cry. Merlin, I'm sorry. Ron is going to kill me. Don't cry, love. Did you mean it? D'you really want to marry me?"
"It doesn't matter-"
"Yes it does."
"I do. I thought… I don't know."
"I'm going to receive a lot of Howlers. Marrying the hero of the Wizarding World. Everyone is going to hate me."
Charlie's cocky smile does strange things to Harry's heart and he dares not to hope… But…
"You mean… You'd want to? Marry me, I mean?"
"Of course, you silly. I want to spend my life with you. I didn't want to pressure you, I mean, you're so young… You're sure you don't want to wait? You don't want to experiment a little or-"
"No! Merlin, no. I want you. I want to wake up next to you every morning and to come back to you every night. You mean so much to me, I just…"
"Good. Because I'd love to marry you. In fact I think we should have a wizarding bonding. I want to be your bondmate."
"Great, now that it's settled, could we all get inside and eat Mum's pie?"
"What? They love each other, they'll bond and live happily forever. We got it. It's cold out there and the pie is cooling. Would be a waste, really."
Harry chuckles against Charlie's chest and raises his head to peck him lightly on the lips.
"We're okay then?"
"No. We're more than okay. We're so much more than okay."
"Ron! For pity's sake, just go inside and eat your damn pie!"
Charlie smirks and his hold on Harry's smaller frame tightens. He licks his lips and Harry shivers in anticipation, his eyes closing reflexively.
Maybe one day he'll get used to it. But he hopes he won't, to be honest. It's too good the way it is now. He smiles against Charlie's lips and lets his hands wander a little, just to upset Ron some more. And, well, because he can't keep his hands off the man anyway.
AN: All done! It's been a fantastic journey with you! My first HP/CW and definitely not my last... I hope you enjoyed it till the end and I thank you all for your reviews and support.
Take care of yourselves, you're all amazing. See you next story!
PS: Check my profile, I've got other completed stories and one WIP.
Update january 2015: there is now a short sequel for this story, called "I will watch over you". Check my profile!