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A/N - not beta's - plz forgive me!
Flirting with Ms. Granger
Hermione watched on as couples danced and drank and conversed happily. Harry was beaming with pride as he showed off his new bride. Even Ginny seemed to be enjoying the festivities as she danced with their old dark arts professor, Remus Lupin.
She had seen many old friends from her Hogwarts days that evening, but any conversation she tried to carry on always seemed strained at best.
Hermione watched as Ron flirted with one of the bridesmaids. She sighed as she found an empty table nearby. She sat heavily into the chair and kicked her shoes for just a moment. The tension that now sat between her and the Weasley family was palpable and pained her deeply.
They didn't understand, nor did she really expect them too. They were Ron's family and things were as they should be. She hadn't expected, however, that nearly every relation she had in the Wizarding world would be affected by her decision to call off her engagement to the youngest Weasley male. Even her once unbreakable bond with Harry Potter seemed to have withered.
Hermione stood to leave, fumbling with the strap to her shoe as she stood. She started to lose her balance and was caught off guard as a sturdy hand reached out to help steady her.
"Thank y…" Her appreciation waned as she looked up and into the brightest, brownest eyes she had ever seen.
"Thought you might get away without saying hi?" Charlie Weasley smiled.
"Um, well," Hermione continued to stammer. This was so unlike her. Normally she was very articulate, however, at the moment it seemed as if she couldn't string two syllables together.
Charlie's playful smile withered. "I'm sorry, this is awkward for you," he said as he made motion to leave.
"No!" she blurted quickly, not wanting her first meeting with a Weasley in nearly two years to end on that note. "You just caught me off guard is all."
His dazzling smile returned. "Good," he said. "You don't have to be running off right now, do you?"
"No, not really," she answered.
Charlie then pulled the chair she had just relinquished back out as if asking her to sit back down. As soon as she did, he grabbed the chair next to her, flipped it around so when he sat he straddled the back, and motioned for the waiter to bring them two glasses of champagne.
Hermione still felt uncomfortable and she was sure it showed. "So how have you been, Charlie? Still in Romania working with dragons?"
"Yeah," he answered as he relieved the waiter of the drinks and handed her one. "That way I don't get all wrapped up in all the family politics."
She knew exactly which 'politics' he was referring, but the comment made her laugh quietly. She soon took a drink of the champagne Charlie had sat down in front of her.
"I guess I really just wanted to let you know," he began, "that I know what insufferable gits us Weasley men can be. You know, being one and all."
Hermione started to laugh with a swallow of champagne in her mouth.
Charlie grinned proudly. "I knew I could get you to smile."
It was then that Hermione started to analyze the man seated next to her. Charlie had already moved to Romania to work with dragons by the time she met Ron and Harry her first year. It really wasn't until her forth year that she even met him briefly during the tri-wizard tournament. He had come back periodically for the Order, but Hermione then realized that while she had known of Charlie, she never really knew him.
He was shorter than the other Weasley males, just a fraction shorter than Fred and George, but much stockier. Hermione was certain that his years working with dragons had seen to his statuesque build.
"So what have you been up to?" Charlie asked, trying to reign in her attention once again.
"Oh, nothing really," she blushed, knowing she had just been caught checking him out. "Just working at St. Mungos in the lab."
"Sounds utterly boring," he laughed. His laugh was light and easy, and almost had no sound to it at all.
"It is," she concurred. "So how are things with you?"
"Oh, the usual," he replied with a smirk. "You know. Mum keeps trying to get me to move closer to London, meet a nice woman, get married and add to the horde of Weasley grandchildren."
"And how is her master plan working out?" Hermione asked. She half expected some tale of a true love back in Romania, perhaps even a secret engagement or wedding.
"Well, I'm working on the meeting a nice woman part," he grinned mischievously.
Hermione felt her cheeks warm slightly with his insinuation, although she figured he was speaking in general terms and not her specifically.
"Is that going well?" she asked a little flirtatiously.
"You haven't run off yet," he smirked.
A glint of trouble sparkled in his endless brown eyes, similar to the ones she had seen so many times before in the twins. "Would you care to dance, Ms. Granger?" he asked as he stood and offered her his hand rather dramatically.
"Are you sure you won't get disowned for an act of treason or something?"
Charlie's face took on a serious expression. "Mum is already cross with me because I'm talking to you," he began honestly. "But to think my dear brother is the innocent victim is just ignorance on her part. The only reason no one else has said anything is simply to keep peace in the family. Ginny waited to hear from you after the break-up, figuring you needed some space, but you never contacted her. She was actually kind of hurt over it."
Hermione felt a wave of guilt. She had wanted to contact Ginny on many occasions - wanted a girlfriend to talk to, but being that Ginny was Ron's sister and teammate, thought it might be a little awkward for her.
"Besides, Hermione," Charlie added with a soft smile, "there are two sides to every story, and I've never heard yours."
Just as Charlie finished his little oration, What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong began to play.
Without hesitation, Charlie pulled Hermione out of her seat and practically dragged her to the dance floor. "I love this song," he began to explain. "And I will not let it pass without dancing to it."
Hermione accepted this graciously, and soon fell into step with him. While Charlie was a fairly short man, even with slight heals on, she was still shorter. Her left hand rested gently on his shoulder while he cupped her right hand in his.
She instantly noticed that his hands were very rough as it enclosed around hers. This somehow was reassuring to her - perhaps even slightly exciting. It showed that this man was not afraid of hard work, and partook in it on a regular basis.
They began to dance several inches apart. They were awkward at first, not smooth nor graceful. It was almost as if they were fighting each other, and it was obvious that Hermione kept trying to take the lead.
"Would you relax a little," Charlie whispered in her ear. "And by the way, I'm supposed to lead."
Hermione blushed with embarrassment, but finally relaxed and began to follow his lead. They moved much more gracefully once she did, and soon the gap between them closed. As her petite frame nestled into his, she noticed the firmness and definition of each muscle.
Her cheek soon found its way to rest on his shoulder. Still a bit uncomfortable with the situation, she opened her eyes and began to take inventory of his vast amount of freckles. From a distance, one would just think he had a tan. However, up close it was obvious it was all his freckles. He even had freckles on his ears and down his neck.
She giggled when she thought about where else he might have freckles.
"What's so funny?" he asked, giving her a sidelong glance.
Hermione responded with only a nod and a sweet little grin before she nestled her cheek further into his chest. He apparently accepted that for an answer as he responded by embracing her a little tighter.
Once the dance was finished and a more modern, faster song began to play, Charlie led them back towards the table. As any gentleman should, he pulled out her chair.
"Such a gentleman," she giggled.
"Don't let him fool you," Ginny chimed in.
"Oh, shot down by my baby sister," Charlie joked.
"Hermione deserves fair warning," Ginny laughed.
"I'll consider myself warned," Hermione smiled as everyone laughed.
"Let me guess," Charlie began. "Your good-bye rounds?"
"Am I that predictable?" Ginny countered.
Charlie merely nodded and gave his only sister a hug.
"We should get together for lunch sometime and catch up," Ginny added to Hermione. "It's been a long time."
Hermione, figuring Ginny was just being polite, nodded her agreement. "I'd like that."
Ginny finally bent down and gave Hermione a hug as well. "I mean it," she whispered in her ear before heading off to her next good-bye victims.
Hermione and Charlie watched as Ginny walked away. "She's up to something," they said in unison then laughed.
Charlie quickly scanned the reception. "Just as I figured," he said rather triumphantly. Hermione was just about to throttle him before he continued. "Lupin has disappeared as well."
"Remus?" Hermione asked, almost appalled at the notion. "You honestly don't think…"
Charlie grinned and nodded. "They seemed to be getting on very well earlier."
All she could do was laugh, figuring he was probably right. "So when are you going back to Romania?"
He smiled wistfully. "How about when I can convince you to go back with me?"
She hit his shoulder playfully. "You hardly know me," she blurted out.
"Well then," Charlie continued, "I suppose I'm going to be here awhile then."
She couldn't tell if he was joking or being serious. While so many people tended to lump the Weasleys into a group, each of them were very unique individuals. Bill was charming and adventuresome, Charlie, reliable and hard working. Percy was very ambitious and driven towards success. Fred and George, although so very much alike, they were also very different; where one lacked, the other excelled, making them the perfect compliments. Ron was tactical and analytical, and the most loyal friend anyone could ask for. Ginny, besides being female, was very powerful with a temper to match.
"I'm serious you know," she finally said.
"And I'm not?" He acted wounded. "Actually, I have a couple of months holiday accumulated and my boss is being a git and making me use it. So, do you think you'll be ready to move to Romania in a couple of months?"
"You don't waste any time, do you?" she laughed. "And I thought you were the shy one."
Charlie's face screwed up as if he had bit into something sour. "Shy?" he coughed out. "What in the world gave you the impression I was shy?"
Hermione giggled at his reaction, blushing slightly. "I don't know, you just never say much."
He just continued to shake his head and mutter the word shy over and over.
"All right, already," she feigned frustration. "I was wrong."
"Damn right you were," he said sounding vindicated. "So, where was I? Oh yes, about you moving to Romania with me."
At that moment Hermione really wished she wasn't Hermione Granger – the girl who was always practical if not prudent. She wished she could toss caution to the wind and tell Charlie she'd gladly move to Romania with him. She longed to forget she had been engaged to this mans younger brother, a fact that was surely going to cause them both grief in the long run.
"All right," Charlie started with a grin. "Let's forget about Romania for the time being, but seriously, I'd like to see you again."
Hermione smiled. "I'd like that as well."
"But?" Charlie asked, sensing something was bothering Hermione.
"Ron," she answered honestly. She figured if they were going to have any chance at all, it was an issue that needed to be addressed. "And the rest of your family."
Charlie understood her dilemma, and wasn't at all surprised. He had always liked Hermione, though, even during her Hogwarts days. He had been especially drawn to her tonight.
"I see," he said. "Is he going to be a problem for you, or do you think your past relationship with him is going to be a problem for me?"
The conversation had taken a turn to serious, which was making Hermione very uncomfortable. She had shared some lighthearted flirting and a dance with this man, and now they were talking as if they were all ready a couple. However, the thought of getting involved with Charlie Weasley sounded very intriguing at the current moment.
Before she could even answer, Charlie continued. "You probably know that my dearest baby brother doesn't handle firewhiskey very well."
Hermione laughed at a specific memory of the first night Harry and Ron got thoroughly pissed. "No, he can't."
"He visited me in Romania shortly after you left him," he continued. "Blamed you for everything and was completely crushed."
Hermione rolled her eyes, but refused to say anything and looked away. She had promised herself long ago that she would not say anything to his family or Harry about what had happened.
"I had actually been completely miffed with you until we went to the pub." Charlie took a long draw off his glass of champagne. "After a few shots of firewhiskey, my dearest brother let the truth be told."
Hermione looked shocked.
"I nearly broke his nose," Charlie then confessed.
"Charlie Weasley!" Hermione practically scorned, although inwardly felt very satisfied.
"I like that," Charlie smiled genuinely.
Hermione looked puzzled. "What's that?"
"You," he said, "saying my name. It sounds nice when you say it."
"Charlie Weasley," she said again, this time a bit softer and a lot more silkily.
The way she had said his name would have brought him to his knees had he been standing.
Seeing his reaction, Hermione smiled. She leaned into him. "Charlie Weasley," she whispered just fractions away from his ear.
Her breath grazed his ear, causing goose flesh to engulf him. "Hermione Granger," he warned. "You do that again and I will no longer be held responsible for my actions."
This time she grinned mischievously. It had been so long since she had been with anyone, and it had been even longer since she had felt the feelings she was feeling now. She stood unexpectedly.
Charlie quickly followed suit, afraid he may have gone too far.
She turned quickly on her heel and was only fractions from his face. "Charlie Weasley," she said one last time, her lips actually brushing his as she said it.
Her lips touching his was more than he could take. His arm quickly encompassed her waist and pulled her into him tightly.
She giggled playfully. "I guess since your place is in Romania, tonight it'll have to be my place."