The Beginning of Summer

Hermione had only been out of Hospital Wing for a week, and Charlie was terrified of her doing too much. Hermione was told not to apparate because of her heart, so they had to travel by muggle means. Charlie followed Hermione down the narrow tunnel and into the airport. It had been a long plane ride.

Her parents weren't pleased that she had to spend the summer away from them, but Charlie suggested that they visit her in Romania later that summer.

They climbed into a cab and took it to a small town that wasn't far from the reserve. One of Charlie's friends was to meet them there in his Jeep and take them to the reserve.

"Hey, Char," Mick said. Mick was from Australia and was quite the ladies man. "And who might this lovely young lady be?" He kissed the back of Hermione's hand in greeting.

"Her name is Hermione…Hermione this is Mick." The two men loaded her trunk into the back of the Jeep, and Charlie whispered, "Mick?"

"Yeah, mate?"

"If you ever attempt to flirt with her again, I will not hesitate to chop you up and use you as dragon food." Charlie looked dead serious.

Mick chuckled. "Man…you have it bad for her dontcha?"

Charlie threw him a dirty look, and helped Hermione into the truck.

Hermione was shocked when they arrived at the reserve. She hadn't been expecting this. To be honest, she'd been expecting tents and dirt and dragons.

Instead there were nice cobblestone roads throughout what seemed to be a village. There was a hospital, stores, a pub or two, and offices. There was even a dragon nursery where they kept orphaned eggs in giant incubators. They also raised the babies there until they were large enough to fend for themselves.

They drove through the little village and out into the countryside. Hermione could see a few dragons in the distance. They were underneath what appeared to be blue-ish force field like from a science fiction movie.

Charlie explained, "The shields are there to keep the dragons and their fire inside. It's a rare occasion when one will escape. It hasn't happened for over five years."

Soon they turned off the main road and onto a one way drive through some woods. When they emerged Hermione saw a beautiful field that was completely surrounded by the woods. In the center was a small stone cottage with a wraparound porch. There was a porch swing to one side of the front door, and chairs and a table on the other side.

Charlie grinned at the look of delight on Hermione's face. "That's my home," he said watching her eyes sparkle.

Mick pulled the Jeep up to one side of the house, and they all got out. "I've got to head back to town…I don't want to be late for work. It's my night to watch the hatchlings," Mick said in an annoyed tone.

"Have fun, Mick," Charlie said grinning.

"I'll be babysitting. Where's the fun in that? Now, give me a wild dragon to catch…that's fun."

Charlie laughed at his friend.

Charlie and Mick lifted Hermione's trunk out of the back and Charlie began to carry it to the house.

"Bye!" Mick called out.

"Goodbye, Mick," Hermione said waving.

Charlie tapped his wand on the door and whispered an incantation. "Give me your hand," he said. "I'm keying you into the wards." He placed her hand on the doorknob covering it with his own, and said another incantation. Then he opened the door. "It'll only open to you or me…there are no exceptions."

Hermione followed him into the cottage. The kitchen was through a doorway on her left, and the living room was on the right. The living room had a large fireplace, which could fit Hagrid. There was a large, over-stuffed, brown suede couch in front of it; it looked as though anyone who sat on it would be stuck there for life. There was a low table in front of it, and a chair on either side, creating a rectangle in front of the fireplace. There were bookshelves on either side of the fireplace, and on the far wall. They were full of books, both magical, and Muggle. Hermione saw a lot of Muggle classics: Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare, Jane Austin, and even books by both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. There was also another door to the right of the fireplace.

She followed him down a small hallway and through a door on the right. It was a small bedroom with a large bed that took up most of the room. There was also a wardrobe and a bedside table.

Charlie placed her trunk down at the foot of the bed, and, indicating the door on the back wall, said, "That's your bathroom. My room is just across the hall, and the other door in the living room leads to my office. Feel free to explore, I'm going to start cooking dinner. You can borrow any of the books in the living room. The only ones I'd rather you didn't look through are in my office, and are the technical books about my job."

"Alright, thank you," Hermione said, as he left the room. She unpacked her things quickly and efficiently, leaving only her books in her trunk.

She wandered out of her room, and glanced in the open door to Charlie's room. It was surprisingly neat. Perhaps, she shouldn't have been so surprised though, Charlie's living room had been neat and clean, even his books were organized.

Charlie's room was only slightly larger than her own. He had a large sleigh bed, with a quilt that his mother must have made on it. It was done in soft browns and dark greens. His wardrobe was open, revealing his neatly hung clothes, and his bedside table held a book and a pair of reading glasses.

She left the hall and entered the living room. She slowly walked around, reading the titles of his books, and the author's names.

His home was very comfortable feeling, if a little bare.

After dinner that night, they sat on his couch talking for hours about everything and nothing. Hermione sat tucked under his left arm; their legs tangled together and stretched out on the couch. At some point, Hermione began to fall asleep using his chest as a pillow.

Charlie smiled down at her, and lifted her into his arms to carry her to bed. She was very light.

After covering her with the blanket, he kissed her cheek and went into his own room. He had only just climbed into bed after his shower when he heard a scream.

He bolted to the door and across the hall. Hermione was having a nightmare. She was thrashing around on her bed and looked as though she was going to fall off in a moment.

Charlie hurried over, and took her into his arms and said, "Hermione – Hermione wake up, it's just a nightmare. It's just a nightmare." She slowly calmed down, and, at last, opened her eyes which were wet with tears.

"Charlie? I woke you didn't I? I'm so sorry," she said in a rush.

"Shh," he said, "You have nothing to be sorry about."

She began to cry softly into his chest, thankful for his arms around her. "Stay," she whispered.

"Alright," Charlie murmured into her hair. He moved her toward the center of the bed, and climbed in next to her.

Charlie's arms surrounded her, and held her close. Her arm rested across his torso, and her leg wrapped around his. She used his chest for a pillow.

It didn't take long for them to fall asleep.

The next morning they woke up to from the most restful night's sleep they'd had since the battle at the Ministry of Magic.