A/N: This was published as part of a collection of stories for Hogwarts Online, Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs proudly Present: Challenge of the Month . The Collection is called "The Beginning of Love". The idea is first loves. This is my contribution, which is, and always shall be my first fanfiction love, Charlie Weasley.
The First Time
Charlie Weasley's fate was about to be sealed. He was about to do something he knew if his mother ever found out about, he would be a dead wizard. That is to say if what he was planning to do didn't kill him first.
During the summer of his last year at Hogwarts, he was, as he liked to put it, weighing his options. He had an appointment with the coach of the National Quidditch team and he stood an excellent shot at making the team. He was going to become a famous Quidditch player for England. No doubt about it. Six scouts showed up at his last house Quidditch match where he led his Gryffindor Lions to a shellacking of the highly touted Slytherin team. No one had expected Gryffindor to win the House Cup again; too many injuries, but Charlie Weasley won the day. Of course he was going to play for England. How could he not?
Right before the interview, his friend Hagrid invited him to a black arts carnival. There was supposed to be every type of mythical and magical creature known in the dark world on exhibition or for sale. Hagrid knew that Charlie shared his fascination to all creatures magical so he was the first one he thought about when he won two tickets to the carnival. Charlie readily accepted and didn't even question when Hagrid told him it might not be a good idea to tell his family, his mother especially, where he was going. These carnivals were very dangerous, but it certainly wasn't something they couldn't handle. Besides, he told him, there will be Sirens, and if it was anything thing like last year, dragons.
It wasn't the first time Charlie lied to his mother; most of the time though, it was because he was meeting some girl that he had no intention of introducing to his family. Besides, they would not approve of him intentionally going to an event where dark magic was practiced or where, God forbid, death eaters might congregate.
He wanted to be this close to a real dragon. He'd seen plenty pictures of them, and stuffed dead ones, but never a live one. He was going, no matter what. He decided he would much rather apologize later than ask permission.
He sneaked out of the house and met Hagrid in Knockturn Alley. He had no idea where the carnival was being held, but they apparated to a boggy area. The day was overcast and was unseasonable hot. They had to walk a couple of miles to the site and when they finally arrived, Hagrid was dripping with sweat.
The carnival consisted of booths and tents that had exhibitions. Every type of dark potion was available for sale, along with books on unforgiveable curses and spells and very old and dark magic. There were six booths that offered a love potion promising slavish devotion or death to the intended target. There were more booths that sold "enhancements". Charlie stopped at one of the booths to get a look at the potion, but Hagrid pushed him away, "They don't work," he mumbled. There were dragon eggs and three headed dogs for sale, and as much as Hagrid was dying for a dragon, the wizard offering them couldn't talk him into buying.
Charlie and Hagrid went to every booth and exhibit. They ate and drank typical carnie fare, typical but with a definite dark magic taste. Hagrid didn't seem to have any trouble with the stout and green beverages. Charlie sniffed one of the vile looked drinks and shook his head. No thanks, he said, he had no desire to wake up in some bog robbed and violated. The only thing he ate was dragon steaks on a stick; something he found delicious. Hagrid filled up on funnel cake.
Beautiful and near-naked Sirens danced their dance of seduction, calling to them to join them onstage. More than one young wizard had to be pulled away or face a rather grisly death at the hands of the Sirens. Charlie stared at the Sirens with slack jaw and glazed eyes, moving toward the stage. Hagrid laughed heartily as he pulled him to safety. He hurried him outside the tent as Charlie fought him tooth and nail to go back into the tent.
"Ye'll thank me later, Charlie," Hagrid promised, as he dragged him away. "Let's go see what we came here for."
Charlie shook his head to clear out the visions the Sirens had put in his head and stumbled along to the last tent at the end of the row. As they walked closer, frightened wizards ran screaming from the tent.
"Ah, good," said Hagrid, "the show's over. Next one should be startin' soon. Hurry, let's get a good seat."
Charlie didn't need any more coaxing. He followed Hagrid, who made it real simple to walk through a crowd, to the front row. They sat on rickety chairs that Hagrid had to hex to make it large enough for his huge frame. Charlie was too excited to sit down until a rather sinister-looking wizard told him to sit down or he'd lay it down. Since the wizard was almost as wide as Hagrid, he decided not to argue with the man. He sat down quickly.
Before the show started, a very slight man walked on stage. His hair was black and slicked back. His robe were shiny and well worn and there were patches in the sleeves. He called for his assistant to join him on stage and the audience gasped as a very beautiful, exotic woman joined him. She was scantily dressed and she bore a huge burn mark on her face. The man turned her around and showed the enormous tattoo of a Japanese dragon across her back. She was, he told them, Misaka, half human, half dragon. She was captured on Mount Fuji when she was ten years old. He held up her arms and pointed out where her wings had attached under her arms. The wings dropped off after her capture.
Hagrid harrumphed and rolled his eyes. "If she's half dragon, I'm half hippogriff," he said.
Charlie chuckled and shushed his friend. He watched the half dragon dance seductively, wondering if he was going to see any real dragons. Finally, another wizard peeked out from behind the curtain on stage. He was a very large wizard, dressed in dragon skin from head to toe. And he was the coolest person Charlie had ever seen. The man was scarred and burned; he was missing two fingers and he told the audience a Hungarian horntail had eaten part of his left foot.
The man had the crowd mesmerized with his adventures as a dragon keeper. Dragons are intelligent mystical creatures that must be respected, he told them.
"Now," he said, clapping his hands together, "who wants to wrangle a dragon?"
Charlie's hand immediately flew up. His was the only hand in the air. Obviously, no one was expected to be crazy enough to actually volunteer. Even Hagrid wasn't brave enough to get into a ring with a dangerous creature. He shook his head and tried to pull Charlie back, but he was determined.
The crowd cheered wildly when Charlie jumped on the stage. He waved cheerily and shook the keeper's hand enthusiastically.
The man looked at him curiously. "You sure you want to do this? You don't get a refund if Little Debbie rips you to little pieces."
Charlie nodded. "No problem," he said just as enthusiastically. "I can do this. Let me at him."
The wizard shrugged. "It's your funeral, mate," he said. "You gotta sign a release so your family can't sue. Just in case."
"Let's do it."
A legal looking document and quill suddenly appeared in the wizard's hands and he show Charlie where to sign. Still grinning, Charlie signed the document and it immediately disappeared in a puff of purple smoke and a loud "pop".
"So, what's your name, kid?"
"Charlie," he said politely.
"So, Charlie, you had a lot of experience with dragons, have you?"
He shook his head. "Not really, but I'm a fast learner. And I'm good with magical creatures."
"Well, Charlie. Here's your chance. You are going to wrangle Little Debbie. Do you know what that means?"
Charlie shook his head.
The wizard rolled his eyes. "It's been nice knowing you, kid," he said.
"No, really, I can do this. Just tell me what I have to do."
The wizard shrugged. "Okay. Pay attention. You are going to get into the pen with this nesting dragon and secure her with these ropes and put her into the traveling box. Think you can handle that?"
Suddenly the curtains swung open and inside a secured pen was a real, live dragon. It was a Common Welch Green. It was the most beautiful creature Charlie had ever seen. The poor creature was ancient and its thin jets of fire only lasted a few seconds before the flame went out on its own. Still the creature was an imposing site and she was still dangerous. Charlie took a hard breath and opened the pen and walked inside. The wizard threw the ropes over the fence and he put them over his head. He walked toward the dragon, wand in hand. The dragon started to charge him, but he side stepped and threw a paralyzing hex at him. The hex hit the dragon, but she shook it off. He kept throwing curses until the dragon finally looked tired. Taking advantage, he stormed the dragon and threw the ropes around his neck. He pulled the rope sharply and the dragon tried to fight it off. With a combination of hexes and maneuvers that kept the stunned audience in their seats, he managed to wrangle the dragon into the transportation box. Sweating and grunting, Charlie quickly shut the door, sealing the dragon inside the box.
The crowd was on their collective feet, cheering at Charlie's finesse and bravery. Hagrid cheered louder than anyone else.
"I did it!" he shouted thrusting his fist into the air.
The wizard was clapping, too. "Good job, kid. If you ever consider a job as a dragon keeper, I'll put in a good word for you." He handed Charlie a business card. "Romania's always looking for interns."
"Wow, that would be great!" he said. "Thank you. Your dragon's beautiful," he said misty eyed. "She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."
"Well," the wizard said, slapping his on the back. "You're a natural."
Charlie didn't remember leaving the stage or the carnival, he was so excited. Wrangling that dragon was the biggest thrill he'd ever had, and he wanted more.
"You know, Hagrid," he said as they made their way back to Knockturn Alley, "I know what I what I'm going to do with my life. I'm going to be a dragon keeper."
"Charlie, what about Quidditch?"
"Are you kidding me? I could never just play Quidditch. I have to wrangle dragons. It's what I was meant to do."
The next day, Charlie canceled his appointment with the National Quidditch team, giving no explanation to his family. He wrote letters to Dmitri Dragomir, director of the Romanian Dragon Preserve, begging for a spot as an intern. He didn't get an answer from Romania until the end of his seventh year at Hogwarts where, at graduation, Headmaster Dumbledore announced to stunned family and friends that Charlie Weasley had been chosen as the first British intern in over twenty years. Charlie was going to Romania to study dragons!