Charlie watched as Hermione helped his mother set the table for dinner. She moved gracefully through the crowd as she placed the plates down at each seat. Her bushy brown hair was pulled up into a messy bun with a few little curls escaping to frame her face.
He thought she looked far more beautiful now than she did in the photos from the Yule Ball. She looked lovely in the photos, but she was just so much more real when she wasn't dolled up.
She softly smiled at him as she leaned over his shoulder to place a plate in front of him.
Charlie was going to be the one to win her heart, even if he had to race against a Quidditch star and a brother to do it. When Charlie was determined, he always won. And he wanted to be with her far more than he had ever wanted anything before.
Ron kept trying to get Hermione's attention by asking her for information to help him write his summer essays. But for every irritated glance that she'd throw in his direction, she'd give Charlie a flirtatious one.
Charlie responded by winking and grinning roguishly.
He was still sitting in the kitchen at two in the morning. He just couldn't sleep.
A yawning Hermione walked into the room, and began to fix some tea.
"Couldn't sleep?" Charlie whispered.
Hermione jumped. "Merlin's beard, Charlie, you scared me!"
She smiled at the older man. "No, I couldn't sleep. I'm worried about Harry. He's just so depressed, and it doesn't help that he's stuck with those terrible people. He's the closest thing I have to a brother, and I just can't stand knowing that he's in pain. He feels so guilty about Cedric." She sighed and moved to sit next to Charlie.
"Hey there," he said soothingly, as he began to rub her back in a comforting motion. "Harry will be fine once he gets here. Sure he'll be upset, but he'll calm down after talking about it. Just take care of yourself right now. Worrying will just wear you out until you can't do anything."
Hermione smiled weakly. "Okay," she whispered. They sat in silence for a few minutes.
The tea kettle whistled and Hermione dashed to the stove. She poured herself and Charlie each a cup, then sat back down.
They sat talking for another twenty minutes before deciding to go upstairs to get some sleep.
Charlie walked Hermione to her bedroom door and said, "A year and a bit, Hermione; just you wait…I'll catch you yet. That's a promise." He kissed her softly on her forehead and walked upstairs to the third floor.
Hermione smiled to herself. 'He might have been a Seeker on the Gryffindor team, but to me he'll always be a keeper.'