A/N: Thanks ever so much for all your support. Sorry for the long wait after that nasty cliffhanger on the last chapter. I can't wait to see what you make of this chapter. Much love for all the reviews.
Let it Burn
Chapter 6: Sizzle
Hermione kissed him back hungrily, devouring his lips and sweeping her tongue against his needily. The kiss distracted fabulously from the pain of her burn and she had been craving the chance to snog Charlie Weasley since she'd been seventeen years old.
It was everything it had always promised to be and more. Like she'd caught the fire all over again, an icy sort of burn spread through her, clouding her thoughts and filling her with need. Charlie's tongue swept against her own roughly, stroking surely, licking hungrily. He held her tight, keeping his hands on her shoulders but refusing to lean into her in case he hurt her. Hermione didn't even think about it as she lifted her hands, tangling them in his hair and kissing him back.
She was aware that they were both injured; that he was currently her boss and she wasn't supposed to be snogging him because someone like Amy would use it to get her disqualified from the Dragon program. But Merlin, she'd waited so long to snog him that she couldn't stop now. He tasted like the chicken sandwiches he had for lunch and he didn't smell all that great thanks to the long day they'd both spent practicing physical labour. But sweet Circe, the feel of his lips against hers was enough to make her forget the pain she was in for just a few minutes.
She snogged him silly until he jerked back just as suddenly as he'd kissed her when a soft whimper tore from her lips. His eyes were wild as he stared at her for a moment before a frown marred his brow.
"You caught the fire," he said, frowning. "And you're... How are you not screaming?"
Hermione tried to smile bravely, wanting him to kiss her all over again if it would just distract from the pain of the burn on her side for a few more minutes.
"I'm going to," she warned tightly, her whole body beginning to tremble as she fought the urge to scream her throat raw when the burn tingled and throbbed and stung so terribly that it was a wonder she hadn't passed out from the pain. She wanted to scream. She wanted to cry. She wanted to kiss Charlie again, not just because it helped with the pain but also because kissing him felt like catching the fire all over again and it was already an addiction.
"Come on," he said, still gripped her shoulders tight as he Disapparated them across the Sanctum and into a medical room. He lifted her by her shoulders, setting her down on the medical bench and the pain of it tore the first scream from Hermione's lips.
Healers came running at the sound, making her realise he'd taken her to the medical centre to get her patched up properly, rather than risking it himself.
"Fuck," Charlie muttered, stepping back far enough to let the healers have access to her while she screamed. He stumbled as he moved back and one of the healers caught him, pointing toward his ankle which was pouring blood all over the hospital floor.
Incoherent with the pain as she screamed, Hermione lost track of Charlie and of several minutes when she was dosed with Calming Draught and a Pain Potion before she was treated with burn salve, the healers cutting away her melted jeans and leaving her bare but for the sheet they laid over her privates. By the time the potions took effect, Hermione's throat ached and she'd torn bloody gashes in her already damaged palms, her nails biting into the flesh painfully.
"What kind of dragon caught you with the fire, Hermione?" a healer asked her, frowning into her face when she stopped screaming long enough to be questioned.
"Azrael. Antipodean Opal-Eye," Hermione told him.
"Did he only catch you the once?" the healers asked her, his brow furrowed deeply.
"Yeah," Hermione sighed, feeling something else sliding through her veins to calm her further. "He bucked me off, too. And tried to stomp me. Cranky bastard."
She heard Charlie laughing from somewhere and turned her head slowly, trying to find him. He was sitting on a gurney next to hers, his ankle being bandaged while he downed a glass of orange juice to help with the blood loss.
"Bloody hell," the healer grumbled, a small smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. "You Tamers are all the same! She's not even angry at the beast!"
Hermione snorted. "I'd be pretty cranky at you if you tried to scrape my rotted flesh off without anaesthetics. Probably hex you, if I could."
"A scale-rot case, then?" the healers asked.
"Az has been licking his wounds too much," Charlie confirmed.
"He won't lick them or get those bandages off anymore," Hermione told him, smirking. "Every time he tries, he'll get a nasty zap."
"You... you finished the job? Did you catch the fire on the way out or something?" the healer - whose name-tag read "Jack" - asked, frowning again.
"She's crazy," Charlie accused of Hermione. "Rolled out of the way while I was swinging from Azrael's snout to keep her from being burned to a crisp and having already caught the fire then climbed back up on that dragon while he was rampaging, scraped all the scale rot off and bandaged him up before getting out of there. She didn't start screaming until I got her in here."
The Healers all stared at her as though she were nuts but Hermione just shrugged. "Adrenaline," she offered by means of explanation.
"She's worse than you, Weasley!" Jack the healer accused. "Why are you training anyone? You make them as crazy as you and then my job is harder!"
"Don't pretend I don't make your life interesting, mate," Charlie grinned. "Hermione, you alright, love?"
Hermione smiled, though she was sure it was a bit goofy because the pain medication they'd given her. Frowning that they wanted to drug her up all afternoon, Hermione, turned her attention away from Charlie - no matter the charming distraction he happened to be - to focus back on the healer.
"What are you giving me?" she asked. "You need to lower it. It's making me feel loopy and I want to get back to it as soon as I'm patched up."
The healers around her all frowned and she heard Charlie chuckle softly from the other gurney.
"This is your fault, Weaslwy!" Healer Jack snapped, looking annoyed. "Listen Granger, you just caught the fire for the first time. You need pain medication or you're going to scream again when this stuff wears off."
"Didn't you patch it well enough?" she asked, frowning. "Let me see..." she started pulling at the bandages. Strong hands caught hers.
"Miss Granger, I really must insist that you don't unravel my hard work," Healer Jack said sternly.
"I really must insist on completing the days' work," Hermione replied sweetly. "So either lower my dosage if you think the wound is sufficiently healed enough that I can do so, or heal it better so that you can lower my dosage."
"Hermione," Charlie smiled gently form the other bed. "You don't have to finish up the day. Not when you've caught the fire."
"I want to," Hermione frowned at him. "One little burn isn't enough to stop me. And you promised you take me to the Nursery to see the babies. I'd rather do so while coherent, rather than loopy on medication."
"Stubborn," he accused.
"This, from you?" she arched one eyebrow. "How many of last night's wounds did you tear open whilst swinging from Azrael's snout?"
"All of them," he admitted.
"And you're going back to work this afternoon. So hush up. I'm coming, too, and that's final," Hermione told him, earning a small grin and one of those smouldering, wild-eyed looks that made her tingle.
"Tamers are all mad," Jack muttered. "Fine. You want to go back to work this afternoon and risk getting hurt again, that's just fine by me. But when you rip the skin open and everything hurts and you're whimpering in agony, you just remember that I suggested taking the afternoon off so you could actually heal."
Hermione rolled her eyes, watching the man peel her bandages open before applying more Burn Salve and covering her with a sticky bandage patch under the bandages. He continued to mutter as he worked.
"It will scar worse if you don't let it heal naturally, you know?" he informed her snidely, apparently deciding he didn't like her because she was proving to be another stubborn and pig-headed Tamer rather than cooperative towards properly allowing her body to heal before climbing back into the enclosures with the dragons.
Hermione shrugged. "I'll add it to my collection. Besides, I think I'd rather like a memento of the first time I caught the fire."
Charlie began to laugh again, this time wholeheartedly, while the Healers all shook their heads and muttered about crazy Tamers and how they needed to change careers to work with people who weren't so insistent on getting hurt all the time and wearing their scars like badges of honour.
"You'll be a bit groggy for the next hour. Take two of these every four hours to manage the pain and come back to the clinic if you rip the skin open or if you're stupid enough to get hurt again."
"Such a delightful bedside manner," Hermione pretended to compliment, rolling her eyes and accepting the bottle of pills. "Can someone give me some fresh jeans?"
"I'll apparate you to your hut if you wrap that sheet around you," Charlie offered and Hermione nodded, doing just that before slipping off the gurney and standing on her own. Her head swum with the effects of the pain medication but she shook it off as best she could. When she was ready, Charlie reached for her, taking her hand and Disapparating them both across the compound to her hut.
"You really don't have to come back to work this afternoon, Hermione," he told her when Hermione used her wand to unlock her hut and lead the way inside. "No one is going to think less of you for taking the afternoon off. It's quite the shock to the system the first time you get burned or clawed."
"I want to finish the day," she told him, hurrying down the hall and into her bedroom to fetch some fresh knickers and a new pair of jeans. "Besides, I really do want to see the babies, and I know you need my help to finish up in the Sanctum before heading into the field to check on all the healthy dragons under your charge."
"Yeah, but I can do it without you, love," he said, chuckling when Hermione hurried back out, still trying to wiggle into her jeans. "You don't get extra pay for working injured, you know."
"You need my help," she argued. "I know you've got more on your plate now, with the others out of commission after last night, and I know you're already stressing about it. If I can help, I will."
"You're too stubborn for your own good, you know?" he said, eyeing her with one of those wild eyed looks that made her positively melt.
"I find it a useful trait when dealing with hot-headed Weasleys who think they know best," she replied.
Neither of them mentioned the kiss they'd shared and Hermione wondered if it had been some spur of the moment thing for him or if maybe she'd dreamed it whilst running to hot on adrenaline and pain. She wondered if he would acknowledge what had happened, or if he wanted to do it again as badly as she did.
"You realise that as your boss, I can order you to rest for the afternoon, yeah?" he lifted on eyebrow.
"You realise I'd find a way to get back to work even if you tried, yeah?" she challenged.
"You're trouble, Hermione Granger," Charlie informed her. "Come on, then. If you want to work, we'll work, but if you need to stop, just let me know, alright? I don't want you to burn out on your first day because you're pushing yourself to hard. I know how stubborn you are and how determined you can be to see something through, but I'd rather not risk your health if I don't have to. Don't want you quitting on us, eh?"
"As if I've ever quit anything in my life?" she scoffed. "Let's just get on with the day, please?"
Charlie nodded, walking back toward the door once Hermione had managed to stomp her feet back into her boots. When he reached it he put his hand on the handle before turning back to look at her, his eyes conflicted.
"Listen, Hermione, about that kiss..." he began, frowning a little, "You realise that until I'm not your boss, that can't..."
"Can't happen again. Yeah, I get it," Hermione sighed, her eyes dropping to his lips. "And I'm betting that you also can't be leading me back to your place drunk and letting me shower there and sleep over because otherwise Amy will have me thrown out of the program because she's a jealous, petty bitch who hates me just because you and I happen to have a history, I get it, Charlie."
"I just..." Charlie frowned a little deeper, turning to face her more fully for a moment and Hermione looked up at him, smiling in understanding and wondering how much of his suggestion related to making sure she kept her job and how much of it related to him not wanting to snog her again. "Just don't get the idea that I... you know what? Fuck it."
Hermione squeaked when he let go of the door handle, gripped her shirt and tugged her into him once more. When he lips found hers, Hermione was on fire with need and happiness and the pure giddy rush of kissing the man she'd been more than passingly infatuated with for years. She kissed him back hungrily, going up on her toes and tangling her hands in his loose red hair, pulling him down further for a kiss whilst pressing herself to him needily.
Charlie made a soft sound, leaning into the kiss, his hands finding her waist carefully and turning her, pressing her against the door and snogging her hungrily. Hermione felt shameless as she ground herself against him, wanting more than anything to strip right back out of her jeans and beg him to have his way with her right there against the door.
The brush of his tongue against hers was enough to drive her mad with desire and she rubbed herself against him insistently, furious that if they were caught, she'd likely be expelled from the program. Charlie kissed like the devil, his lips hot, his tongue wicked, his hands smoothing over the dip of her waist before gliding a little higher until he was cupping her breasts through her shirt. His hands were hot and Hermione groaned, arching her back, pushing into the touch with delight. Merlin's little green apples, she wanted him like she'd never wanted anything else in all her life.
She moaned softly when he broke from her lips, kissing his way across her cheek and along her jaw before dropping his lips to the sweet spot under her ear. Hermione's whole body sizzled with heat and with need and she desperately wanted him to ravish her right then.
"Fuck," Charlie muttered against her neck, nipping her lightly when Hermione ground herself against the growing bulge in his jeans.
"Charlie? You there, mate?" a voice suddenly intruded on the moment, emitting from the wizarding wireless transmitter radio strapped to Charlie's hip. "We got trouble."
Charlie groaned, dropping his forehead to rest it on Hermione's shoulder. His breath was coming a little fast and his hands were still kneading her breasts in a way that made her want to chuck the radio out the window.
"You know if I don't answer them, they'll think I've been killed in the Sanctum?" Charlie asked, his voice husky.
"I know," she said. "If there's trouble, we'll have to deal with it."
"This life is nothing but trouble, you know that, right?" he asked, lifting his head from her shoulder and dropping his hands before stepping back from her. "I'd have had you last night if not for the trouble with Herc."
Hermione smiled slowly. The confirmation that he'd been planning to shag her – though she'd suspected as much when he'd been called away – made her feel all warm and happy inside. It also dampened her knickers.
"Maybe it's for the best that you're currently my boss," she admitted. "Otherwise we might both go mad at being continually interrupted by the trouble of playing with dragons."
Charlie sighed, tipping his head back for a moment as though trying to get a hold of his self-control.
"Until I'm not your boss I have to keep my hands to myself, Hermione," he said, looking back at her. "It's a piss-poor excuse, but Amy really is a vindictive little bitch who'll get you tossed from the program over her jealousy if she thinks we've fucked."
Hermione nodded, understanding even if she didn't have to like it.
"Charlie? You there?" the voice came through the radio again. It sounded like Sid. "I got big trouble, mate. I need help."
"Go ahead, Sid," Charlie said, his eyes still on Hermione as he answered the call. "What's the problem?"
"I've got a Migration-Mad Horntail male – huge, biggest I've ever seen. He's in the back country with my Ironbelly females and he's… fuck, man…. He's mating most of them. He must be off his rocker, but he's mated at least five of these girls and he's wrecking them up pretty bad. He's huge, man. And vicious. They're attacking because he's the wrong breed and he's… well… at this rate we might end up with a new Horntail cross Ironbelly hybrid."
"Shit," Charlie sighed to Hermione, frowning. He held the radio to his mouth again.
"Alright, everyone get to the Ironbelly hills with whatever tranquilizing gear you've got. We'll see if we can relocate this chap to the Horntails. Sid, are the girls injured?"
"All five of them that have been mated are ripped up pretty bad," Sid said before the sound of a vicious roar in the background sounded. "He's going after Cinderella now and she's giving him a run for his money, big as she is, but there's no way we can let him go with the Horntail girls. He's been ripped up bad, too. They all need to be moved to the Sanctum."
"Fuck!" Charlie cursed. "Alright. Anyone who can swing by the supply cupboard get what we need to move seven new residents into the Sanctum."
"Got it, boss," several voices chimed in on their radios.
"Charlie?" a girl's voice came. "It's Tasha, listen, I'm with the Fireballs right now and they're pretty stroppy. Amy and I have got a female to bring into the Sanctum, too. She's busted her wing and if we leave her now, she's going to get herself killed. The males have been circling her and mating her all night because she can't fly away."
"Right," Charlie narrowed his eyes. "Bring her in as quickly as you can. Anyone else not going to make it to the Ironbellies?"
"Do you need my help, Charlie?" another voice asked.
"Saskia?" Charlie confirmed.
"Yeah, could you give us a hand to prep eight extra enclosures in the Sanctum? We'll get them ready for habitation, real quick, and then you can give us a hand with this Horntail problem."
"Alright, should I meet you at the biggest enclosure we have for the Horntails?" she asked.
"Yeah, do that. Hermione and I will be there in a minute. Everyone else, get your gear and meet us with the Ironbellies ASAP."
He clicked off the radio and furrowed his brow at Hermione, watching her rally her strength and her wits before she opened the door to her hut and strode out into the afternoon.
"Listen, Hermione," Charlie called after her before she could cross the porch. "I don't want you to be… you know, pissed off with me about all this."
Hermione stopped and turned back to him, Charlie colliding with her in his haste to catch up to her.
"I'm not angry with you," she smiled when he brought his hands up to catch her before she could fall backwards. "I get it. You're my boss, Amy's a bitch, and I'll get kicked out if we fool around. Believe me, I don't want to get kicked out."
"I just don't want you to think I'm… you know… saying all this as an easy let-down," Charlie said awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck and looking uncomfortable. "Because I'm not. If not for last night's interruption, I'd planned to seduce you out of your knickers, witch."
"It wouldn't have been difficult," she told him. "But it's fine. I don't mind waiting. I mean, I've waited this long, right?"
She turned in his hold and set off again, her cheeks flushing when she realised what she'd just said. She didn't need Charlie to know just how long she'd been waiting for the chance to snog him silly.
"Wait…" Charlie said, his voice suddenly sharp and curious. "How long have you waited?"
Hermione glanced over her shoulder, watching him stand there looking a little dumbstruck on her doorstep, like he was totally surprised by what she'd said. She grinned when he met her gaze, that wild-eyed look belying his curiosity. She didn't answer before Disapparating back over to the Sanctum, not willing to admit how long she'd wanted him when she didn't know if he was interested in just a quick shag and or something more.