Hi guys! Sorry it's been a while since I've posted anything, I've been pretty sick over here. And if this pairing seems a little randon, that's because it is. I drew names out of a jar, and this is what I ended up with. But I do think they've grown on me, and maybe I'll do more in the future. So...hope you enjoy! Do not own Harry Potter.
For all his defense training, Harry Potter would willingly admit that he was not quite certain about the protocol for what to do when you woke up in a room you had never seen before in your life. Which was unfortunate, because that was the exact situation he currently found himself in.
For the present, he was content to lie warm in the bed he had awoken in, beneath a thick, slightly musty blanket, and close his eyes. It was still dark out, and since it was summer, Harry figured it must be very early.
There was a heavy creaking noise from somewhere to his left. Harry's eyes snapped open of their own accord, but his glasses seemed to be missing and he couldn't see a thing.
However, he did dimly recognize that voice.
"Are you awake?"
Was it… "Charlie? Charlie Weasley?"
A light blinked on, and a bright grin and a shocking tuft of orange hair appeared. Harry spotted his glasses on a table beside his bed; he slid them on and threw the second eldest Weasley into focus.
"The very same!" Charlie smiled cheerfully. "I'm glad you're awake. I wanted to see if you needed anything particular for breakfast before I went down to check the dragons."
Harry sat up slowly and extricated his limbs from the tangle of blankets he was awash in. "What am I doing here?" he asked, bewildered.
"Mum sent you home with me," Charlie explained matter-of-factly. "They've got reporters all around the Burrow and Mungo's, but they'll never think to look for you in backwater Romania." His grin fell a little, and his voice grew sober. "Congratulations, Harry, and thanks—for what you did with You-Know-Who."
Harry frowned. "Voldemort," he corrected automatically.
Charlie reddened. "Yes—well." He coughed awkwardly into his fist. "Anything you'd like for breakfast?"
Harry hopped out of bed. He was wearing a set of blue pajama pants and a Gryffindor t-shirt, and his feet were bare. "I'm not picky," he promised. "And I'm actually not too hungry, either. Can I help you out with the dragons, instead?"
Charlie surveyed him critically. "I think so," he agreed after a brief pause. "But you better not tell Mum, or she'll kill me."
Harry grinned. "I won't," he promised.
Harry borrowed a pair of Charlie's work boots and a full set of dragon hide clothes to go out to tend to the dragons. Charlie seemed fully aware of the irony in the clothing choice, he quirked an eyebrow and laughed as Harry emerged with scaly sleeves falling down over his palm.
"They're just babies," Charlie explained as they headed for the back door. "I have to give them to a larger organization once they hit six months and start flying. But they're still very dangerous, so watch out."
Harry laughed. "Don't worry. Believe me, I have no desire to get roasted alive after everything that's happened."
Charlie looked over his shoulder and mock-glared. "You'd better not." He pushed open the door and waltzed out into the open air. Harry caught the door and followed behind him.
Harry caught his breath as he stepped outside. The scene before him was a brilliant splash of color: the thirty or so feet immediately in front of him was lush green grass, with beads of dew sparkling on the tips. Beyond that, wildflowers began to invade, giving the impression of a deserted garden. Huge purple blooms sprang up beside patches of brightly colored moss, and bright red rocks were strewn about. The sun had come up since he had woken, and the day was almost cloudless, with only a puff or two of white floating through the air.
"This is—quite nice."
"Thanks," Charlie called back. But it was clear he wasn't really listening. His shoulders were thrown back, and he craned his neck towards the sky. He held his arms a few inches from his sides, and his fingers spread. He looked to Harry as if he was drinking in the feeling of being alive. But then he jumped, glanced at Harry, and then blushed, embarrassed to be seen. "Come on," he muttered. "Let's go look at the dragons."
Charlie owned extensive grounds, and the dragons were in a paddock about two-hundred yards from the house. Charlie plucked a large brass key from his belt and popped open a heavy lock hanging from the gate. He then grabbed two buckets full of some dripping green meat that had been standing just outside the gate, and handed one off to Harry.
"Now, the ones I have right now are all very small," Charlie said. "But they're already breathing some fire, and I have a Romanian Longhorn that's sick, so watch out."
Harry nodded, and scanned the area in front of him nervously. Charlie was already busy. He pulled his wand from his pocket and pointed it at his throat. "Sonorous," he muttered. Harry plugged his ears. "Food!" Charlie yelled. "Come on, breakfast! Food! Quietus."
There was a noise not unlike a small earthquake, and thirteen baby dragons pounded into view. Charlie's hand was in the bucket, and he was flinging chunks of meat as far as he could get them. Harry quickly imitated him. The meat was old, and fell to bits in his hands. He couldn't get it far, and soon he had a small orange one eating practically at his feet.
Soon, the bucket was empty.
He soon found shots of flame coming at him. The dragon hide protected him, and he couldn't feel a thing, but it was still nerve-wracking. Charlie noticed his situation, and began barreling towards the gate. "Come on, Harry!" he shouted. "Run!"
Harry was quick to obey. He and Charlie both shot towards the gate, their feet pounding beneath them. Charlie hopped over with ease, and Harry managed to make it to the other side. He lay motionless in shock for an instant, and then began laughing.
"Fun?" Charlie teased.
Harry only nodded.
Over the course of the next week, Charlie and Harry fell into a routine. They woke early and fed and cared for the dragons before shaking up something for breakfast—typically the least stale cereal they could find. Later, after they'd cleaned off a bit, they usually lounged around outside. Charlie owned two-hundred in southern Romania, most of which he'd enchanted to look like something out of a storybook. They would eat dinner outside, and spent the evenings separately.
Tonight, though, Charlie had decided to take Harry up to the roof.
The two had propped a ladder against the side of the house, and scrabbled up as the legs pushed into the muddy ground. Harry balanced on his toes in the gutter, kicking leaves out, while Charlie levitated up a pair of folding chairs. The sky was clear, and there was scheduled to be a meteor shower.
They set up the folding chairs side beside next to the chimney and sat in silence for a moment, staring out over the plains. A few puffs of orange were visible in the distance as the dragons bunkered down for the night.
"Have you talked to any of your friends this week?" Charlie asked finally, breaking the silence.
"No," Harry said shortly. He hadn't wanted to. He didn't want to see the scars left on their faces from things that he hadn't been strong enough to prevent. He didn't want to remember.
"I'm sure they're worried," Charlie pressed.
"I'm sure they are," Harry agreed. "How long have you been looking after dragons?"
Charlie laughed softly. "You sure know how to change a subject, huh?" Harry cocked his eyebrows and stared at him inquisitively. "Fine, fine," Charlie acquiesced. "I've been interested in dragons since I was maybe eighteen. I started working with a group that took care of Chinese Fireballs right after Hogwarts, but it got old, so I got a license and opened up the nursery I run now—five years ago. I used to have some help, but it got too expensive."
"So I'm the cheap labor for the week?" Harry teased.
Charlie smiled. "I guess so." He paused. "You know, I really think you should talk to Ron soon."
Harry hesitated. "Maybe I will. But—I'm happy here," he added, almost defensively.
"I'm glad to hear that," Charlie said softly. Then he laughed again. He had a nice laugh, Harry thought.
"What?" Harry asked.
"I'm just thinking—how surreal this is," Charlie said. "I mean, I grow up hearing about you, and then you become best friends with my kid brother and I still hardly know you, and now you're staying in my house and you say you like it."
"Oh," Harry blushed. "Well. I do. I do like it."
Millions of miles away, a meteor fell to the earth.
Breakfast the next day was a quiet affair. Harry flipped through the prologue of a dragon training book as he spooned down his oatmeal. But his attention was drifting.
He kept noticing details about Charlie that he had never even considered before. Like the fact that his hands were worn so smooth from burns and working that there were hardly any lines on them at all. Or that his eyes were green—he was the only Weasley without blue eyes.
Charlie noticed him watching. "What is it?"
Harry's eyes flew back to his oatmeal.
Once Harry began to notice things like that about Charlie, he found it was almost impossible to stop. However, he managed to keep it to himself, mostly.
About three weeks after he came to stay with Charlie, however, things finally came to a head during a conversation at supper.
"There was a very interesting article in the paper today about You-Know-Who's past," Charlie said calmly. "Newly unearthed things, that sort of rubbish."
Harry dropped his fork. "I wish you wouldn't say that," he said, trembling.
Charlie looked concerned. "Say what?"
"You-Know-Who," Harry said, his voice high and mocking.
"What should I say then?"
"Say, 'Voldemort,'" Harry said.
Charlie slowly lowered his spoon. "I can't," he said. "I never have."
Harry jumped to his feet. "You have to," he said earnestly. "Because otherwise, what was it all worth? If people are still afraid, what was the point of all the deaths and the pain and—everything. People can't be afraid, they have to say it—this can't be for nothing!" he was yelling by the end of his speech, and shaking wildly.
Charlie stood slowly beside him, and faced him deliberately. "Harry—calm down—Harry—"
"No—it was worthless, no one cares, you don't understand—"
Charlie bit his lip. "Voldemort," he said softly.
Harry stopped instantly and watched Charlie with glowing eyes.
"Voldemort," Charlie repeated, stronger than before. "I'm not afraid. Voldemort. Voldemort."
Harry stood stock still, then grabbed Charlie's face and jerked their lips together in one swift, violent motion. Charlie barely had time to react before, just as quickly, Harry pushed him away again.
"I'm sorry," Harry muttered. "I don't know—I'll just go inside."
Charlie caught his arm. "Wait—Harry—"
Before Harry's emotion's had time to catch up, Charlie had bent his head down, and Harry found himself being kissed, softly. Charlie smelled smoky and vaguely like grass, and he tasted like the cucumber soup they'd both just been eating.
Harry broke away.
"Are you still glad you're here?" Charlie asked, a little nervously.
Harry nodded, breathless. "Yes."
"So am I."
Please be kind, read and rewind! Er, review.