A/N: I felt like I really needed to finish this but didn't presume to think I could write my own ending after the series had already been resolved. So instead, I tried to bring some resolution for Charlie and Alivia. It's short and hopefully sweet.


Chapter 15 – This Time Is Forever

Malfoy slunk to the middle of the floor, casting glares around the room as he did so until his gaze landed on Charlie. "So, Weasley," he sneered. "Not only are you taking up for me, but you've moved on to your best friend's wife as well." He let his eyes fall on Alivia next. "Wonder how long it would take Mark Ryan to get his Irish up if he saw you lot right now?"

Charlie jumped from his seat and was halfway across the room, hand outstretched toward Malfoy's neck before Harry and Hermione could stop him. Harry stepped between the two men, deflecting Charlie's arm as Hermione knocked Malfoy's wand to the ground.

"Stop. Both of you," Harry bellowed. "We're not having this." He tightened his grip on Charlie's wrist just before the bigger man pushed him away.

Malfoy turned to pick up his wand. When he stood, he found Alivia right in his line of sight. Her eyes bored into him as they narrowed icily. "If what you're telling us has any truth, then you probably don't know that my husband died nearly a year ago, so I guess I have to excuse that remark. However, if you ever make another one like it, I will make sure you don't make the mistake again," she growled.

Malfoy lazily turned his eyes to Harry. "Good staff you and McGonagall have assembled here, Potter." He shot daggers at Charlie and then Alivia. "A barbaric oaf practically incapable of magic, just like his predecessor and a stone cold killer. Both will most certainly enhance the students' learning. Just the type of community I want to be a part of."

Charlie ducked under Harry's grasp and punched Malfoy squarely in the nose. The pale, fragile-looking man teetered backwards as blood exploded from his nose. Willis Davies jumped up and grabbed Malfoy before he collapsed to the floor.

"Right," sighed Harry, "Not exactly the start we were looking for, then."

Charlie dropped his hands, shook his head and stalked out of the room. Alivia waited for a second, torn between apologizing to the others while waiting for Malfoy to come to or following Charlie. She tore off after him, catching him descending the staircase in the Great Hall. She called out after him, but he didn't turn or slow. Jogging to keep up, she finally caught up to him on the grounds as he was entering Hagrid's hut.

"Charlie, wait!" She followed him into the dim room. He still ignored her as he grabbed a duffle and began throwing items into it. "Charlie. What is this? Why are you shutting me out now?" She crossed the room and placed her body between him and the bureau. He had to stop.

"Alivia, please don't do this. I have to leave here, and you need to let me."

"Don't be stupid, Charlie. So you punched Malfoy. I wanted to; you just got there first."

Charlie dropped the bag and backed slowly into a kitchen chair, his red head shaking. "No. You don't understand," he whispered. "I wanted to kill him for the things he said to you, the things he said about you." His head dropped slightly. "But then, he would have been right."

"Well, he sort of already is. I did kill someone, and if we're being truthful, you are a bit like Hagrid," she resigned.

He snorted a laugh, realizing that Malfoy had chosen those words precisely to push his buttons. And he'd fallen for it. He was acting a bit like a barbaric oaf. "That is the most unkind thing anyone has ever said to me," he half pouted, suddenly feeling the dark mood lift.

"Well, you are slightly better at magic, if that helps at all," she conceded.

"Very little, but thanks, just the same for trying to cheer me up. I think that's what you're doing."

"Should we go back then? Apologize for attacking Malfoy again and all?"

Charlie shrugged. "Maybe later. I don't want to see that little snake just yet." He glanced toward the kitchen. "You hungry?"

"Not particularly. How about a walk?" she suggested, knowing he just needed something to occupy his time.

"Yeah." Charlie stood up and walked over to the door. "By the lake?" he asked going over to the door.

"Sure, but let's take the long way" she suggested, following him.

They left the cabin and walked west behind the castle and toward the Quidditch pitch, circling back south in the direction of the lake. Neither one spoke as they passed Dumbledore's tomb, but Charlie felt Alivia's silky hand slip into his large, leathery one. She left it there as they continued their walk. As the expanse of the lake swelled in front of them, they slowed. Charlie motioned to the west bank. Alvia nodded and followed. About halfway around, with the sun beating down on them, a slight breeze blowing off the water, they stopped. Charlie plopped down on the grass and Alivia tumbled along beside him.

"Isn't it crazy?" she asked, shielding her eyes from the sun as she looked over at him.

He turned toward her. "Isn't what crazy?"

"That this even exists. I lived for 10 years before I even knew about this place and this whole world. And then I was a part of it. It's all so unreal and unbelievable. And it makes me think about that question about the tree in the forest and if it falls…" she trailed off.

"But now you know, and you were here when the tree crashed down. It made a sound," he said, picking up her thought.

"Yeah, but if I hadn't known, I'd have had no idea about anything." There. She'd put it out there.

Charlie scowled at her. "So that's what you'd prefer, not ever having known. Not knowing now?"

She pushed against his arm with her shoulder. "That's not what I said, and it's not what I mean." She lifted their entwined hands. "I'm just saying it's so overwhelming." Tears welled in her eyes. "And I miss him so much, Charlie, almost to the point of wishing I'd never met him."

Charlie pulled her into a hug, his tears mixing with hers. "I'm so sorry he left you."

She ran her fingers through her hair. "I'm sorry he left you, too." She leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips.

He pulled back slowly, "Are you sure?"

She nodded, and he leaned into her to kiss her fully. She felt her body respond to his touch and sighed contentedly.

"Are you okay?" he asked, still remembering the night in his mother's kitchen.

She tucked her head into his chest and let him hold her. "No. But I want to be." She looked up at him. "Can you help me?"

He nodded. "It's all I want to do." He clumsily took a strand of her hair in between his fingers. This wasn't something he'd done in a long, long time.

"So you'll stay, then?" she asked, reminding them both that he'd just punched Malfoy.

"Ah, crap," he groaned. "I had nearly forgotten about all of that. Do I have to?"

She grinned. "Yeah. I kind of like having you around, you know? I think you should stay."

"Well, if McGonagall will let me. I guess I'll have to apologize to that little twit, then," he realized. "We should get back, then, huh?"

"You ready for all of that?" she inquired.

"No, but I guess I don't really have a choice. Do I?"

She stood and offered him a hand. "Guess not."

He put his arm around her shoulders as they backtracked around the lake and started up the hill to the Castle. "You're right, Liv. It is unbelievable, but it's our life." He felt her body pressing against him. "I'm glad you decided to come back." He stopped before saying more.

"It's good to be back, Charlie. It's good to be here with you," she admitted

He turned so they were facing and let his hand reach up to touch her face. The words he held back a moment before came tumbling out, "I missed you so much for so long, and I can't believe you're here with me now."

"I am, Charlie. And I'm not leaving."

"You promise?" he asked, leaning in to kiss her again.

"I absolutely do," she smiled. He took her hand and they walked the path back to the Castle, the Great Hall, the whole Malfoy situation, and most importantly, the prospect of a new life for the two of them. Together.

FIN